Great Britain is a woFnderful place! An upstanding nation – prosperous, quirky, charming, considerate. Except almost a quarter of the population – 14.2 million people – live in poverty following a decade of Tory-driven austerity.
The knock-on effect is the nation’s disabled citizens have received brutal treatment. To be disabled in England now means, for most people, a sentence to total poverty and misery.
Guardian columnist Dr. Frances Ryan, in the grand tradition of investigative journalism, went beyond the relentless Brexit headlines to dig deep into modern British society.
She unearths a disturbing, callous world created by a political party with a sociopathic, self-preserving agenda to fulfill. This is the life for disabled people in austerity-era Britain.
This is the type of book that should change society and expose the horrendous failings of the Tory government. But the nation is infatuated with Brexit, which continues to drive social inequality rather than alleviate it in any way.
It’s a jolly time in England after a decade of Tory rule. The Bank of England just warned there’s a 1 in 3 chance of recession. Meanwhile our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged £2.5 billion in Brexit No Deal preparations.
He’s also made sweeping promises for injections of cash into social equality – whether he lives up to that claim is another matter. After the last decade of lies, it’s hard to take the Tories seriously.
Along with a decade of austerity (the Tory’s attempts at overcoming the last recession) and an appalling housing crisis, the Tory party has excelled by landing a colossal poverty crisis on the less privileged.
One of the often-overlooked issues created is the effect on England’s disabled people. As the synopsis of Dr. Ryan’s work makes clear:
"In austerity Britain, disabled people have become the favourite target. From social care to the benefits system, politicians and media alike have made the case Britain's 12 million disabled people are a drain on the public purse. In Crippled, leading commentator Frances Ryan exposes the disturbing reality, telling the story of those most affected by this devastating regime. This includes a paralysed man forced to crawl down the stairs because the council wouldn't provide accessible housing; the malnourished woman sleeping in her wheelchair; and the young girl with bipolar forced to turn to sex work to survive."
And this is an issue that rarely receives press coverage. The liberal press has, particular in The Guardian and occasionally the BBC.
But this isn’t a topic you’ll ever see covered in the right-wing tabloids such as The Sun, The Daily Mail, or The Daily Express. In fact, those papers excel in pretending the country isn’t in the grips of a poverty crisis.
In fact, they work to dispel the idea or blame the situation on immigration or Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.
Ryan knows otherwise. And her investigative work makes Crippled a rather bleak, disturbing, and distressing read.
It lays bare the atrocious callousness of the Tory party’s rule since 2010, one that has aimed all resources at ensuring the wealthy get all the breaks.
Their policies have made disabled people lose their benefits. They must face low paying jobs and total poverty. This is in the face of a housing crisis where everything is three times the cost of what it should be.
Suicide rates have skyrocketed, severe mental health issues have proliferated, and the Tories deny there’s a problem.
Disability Rights UK is offering a fight against the current path towards mass inequality, which will only ever become worse post-Brexit in October 2019:
"Austerity measures are disproportionately affecting disabled people’s right to an adequate standard of living as set out in the UN CRPD. Assessments are not informed by disabled people’s lived experience of impairment. The reduction in financial support available to many disabled people has caused increased poverty and a deterioration in wellbeing and the quality of life. Many cut down on food and heating, use food banks and borrow money that they are ill-equipped to repay."
All of which makes Ryan’s work more than timely. This is a statement for our generation – that the present path ensures a colossal gap between the well off and impoverished.
Where a government can treat the disabled as inferior and not only get away with it, but pretend to be for the people and pushing for a fair society.
As Dr. Ryan explained in her Guardian article this week, Millions are in deep poverty. Meanwhile, Johnson splurges £100m on advertising:
"Working parents earning poverty wages, children pushed into hardship, and disabled and ill people left without basic support. But it’s the wilfulness of it all that stands out: families who have no need to be struggling, but who have been pushed there by the people elected to help them. As the committee puts it, the high levels of poverty and destitution we see in the UK are a choice – and “a choice that could be unmade”. Britain’s priorities, grimly, appear to lie elsewhere."
In the balance of fairness the Conservative’s party line is they’re building a nation that benefits everyone. That’s what they claim across their campaigning materials.
They just also have a habit of ensuring more and more people plunge into poverty and despair. To the extent a UN envoy toured the country in late 2018 to document the extent of the injustices.
Our hope is that Dr. Ryan’s work can leave some mark. But it’ll likely get brushed aside in pursuit of “taking our country back” as many Leave voters continue to confuse the EU for the present troubles, rather than the Tories.
The solution now is for a general election to remove them from government for good. Then books like Crippled won’t have to be written again.