We are reliably
informed, by those upon whom we reliably rely for our information, that we
live in a “post-truth” age.
At a time when
assertions of “facts” are destabilising at best and terrifying at worst, it’s a
phrase, which, like the foreign sounding “Iced Caramel Macchiato” have become part of our linguistic
currency. But what is the current value of the truth pound, dollar, euro or
Donald Trump who is
soon to prise the reigns of power from the stunned and resentful staff of the
stunned and resentful White House, knows what truth is.
It’s the words he’s used
to galvanise the Electoral College who chose to put him in the top job.
Irrespective of the fact that Hilary Clinton managed to gain the majority of
the popular vote, Donald Trump is going to march purposefully up to the
microphone, place his hand on the bible and stick it to the liberal elite;
before building his wall.
Nothing, to my mind,
says “anti-elitist, pro-inclusivity”
than a great, big, physical barrier, at the border between countries.
But I was talking
Katie Hopkins tells
the truth. She has experienced a stratospheric career trajectory out of doing
just that. She tells us all the time that she “tells it like it is”. She tells
us this with more of that fabrication destroying currency, called words. Words
that triumphantly, bring to our consciousness, real and present societal
dangers like “being overweight”, “children’s names”, “compassion”, and “refugees
who drown whilst pursuing sanctuary”.
Nigel Farage is
another truth teller. He nobly led his supporters and those who aren’t his
supporters but who were afraid for the NHS, to the truth laden Brexit which
we’re all so looking forward to and which our government are handling so well.
Nothing says democracy
more than the UK Government, challenging the decision of high court judges who have spent their
lives upholding truth and justice. No one could argue either, with the truth
inherent in detailing the sexuality of one of those judges on the front page of
a national newspaper, the day after the ruling. Because apparently that matters.
Both Farage and Hopkins champions of the average Jo and Josephine, are close friends of the Donald. They
wafted away the pungent aroma of challenges to their truth, which filled our
lungs, concerning their friend as the presidential race began in earnest.
As that aroma hardened
into a stench, they joined the chorus of loyal Trump supporters in reassuring
us that Tax issues, sexual assault, racism, islamophobia, misogyny and
punishment for women exercising control over their own uterus, were simply the ranting
of a country and indeed a world who had been lied to by the establishment.
Nothing to my mind
says anti-establishment more than a rich, white, Christian, heterosexual,
businessman, TV star, bragging about how he can do as he wishes with a woman’s
genitalia, because he’s famous.When
it comes to locker room banter, Donald is a perfect 10.
So where do all of us
feature in the unstoppable rise of post truth. Do we even care as we settle
down for a bit more of the panacea of reality TV shows, punctuated briefly by our
time on social media nobly haranguing those who dare not to wear a poppy.
As the hate crimes
soar and the written rape threats to women MP’s multiply we all need to smile.
Disabled people have long been the scapegoat de jour but you won’t find any truth
Fortunately we have
had our eyes opened to the truth in respect of disabled people, who irritatingly
express a wish to exist, eat and have a roof over their heads. Fortunately
truth tellers who lead the DWP had a plan of honesty which pre dates the post
truth Johnny and Jenny come lately’s.
Any sickness benefit
claimants were politely instructed to attend interviews, where they were expected to
answer truthfully, honest questions about their health by highly qualified
assessors. The myriad and complex nature of medical training that requires years of study in both mental and physical health, can in the post truth
era, be desiccated into inquiring of the claimant whether they can, in fact,
lift a cardboard box or place a pen into their top pocket.
Nothing to me says,
“Fit for Work” more than the man who died from a heart attack after collapsing
in one of these assessment centres. The letter his family received from the DWP
stating those words after his funeral, bears out my point too.
The Work and Pensions
Secretary Damian Green MP was also truthful in his critique of “I Daniel
Blake”. The film by Ken Loach detailed many accounts of those who queue at the food
banks, which feed hundreds of thousands of people who have been, in truth,
sanctioned into starvation.
Damian Green hadn’t
seen it, when he criticised it, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t an expert in being able to
truthfully challenge the fictitious nature of the annoyingly well-researched
film. Damian Green had no reason not to champion his DWP employees. He just
forgot to champion the employees who had told the truth to Ken Loach, as Green,
with absolutely no agenda whatsoever, branded the film “a fiction”. Columnist Camilla Long also added her
doubtful view as to the truth inherent in the film including the fact that her partner is from Newcastle and he doesn’t know any carpenters called
Facts like these need
to be heard. Never mind Peter Bradshaw and Mark Kermode with their complimentary critiques based on their expert experience of
reviewing films. We know thatthe
post truth era has no time for experts.A quick look at their timeline will show
the discerning reader that they never stop promoting a litany of liberal and
elitist lies. They may be well concealed as film reviews or tweets about other
things but look closely, look through the lens of post truth and you will see
the veracity of my statement.
If they like films so
much, perhaps they should go and live in North Korea.
Nothing to me says “Palme
D’Or winning film” more than the suggestion of an entire fabrication, which can
easily be discounted and disavowed by the government responsible for it’s creation
and which tens of thousands of benefit claimants have embraced, as an accurate
representation of their lives.The
conspiracy theory inherent in that collusion knocks Area 51 into a cocked hat,
because no one likes a liar Ken.
But I have drifted
away from my main point, which was about the inconvenient post truth, truth,
that Donald Trump is going to be the new President. He is trusted by many
millions of Americans and much more importantly, he is trusted by Katie Hopkins,
Nigel Farage, Kanye West, and Milo Yiannopoulos. I’m sure like me, these people
are definitely the ones to whom you listen when making important decisions like
choosing the person to carry the responsibility of punching in the nuclear
He may be feared, by
some, but those who fear him just don’t understand him, or indeed the new Vice
President Elect and supporter of musical theatre, Mike Pence. A fan of the, in
no way unethical, gay conversion therapy.What kind of world are we inhabiting where a Vice President elect can’t
attend the theatre anymore, without being politely reminded by an actor not to
forget those who need the administration to support them?
I was incandescently offended, as only a
Brietbart employee instructs us definitely, not to be.
This dynamic duo have
a mission, they are honest, they are a break from the dull boring ideals of
Presidents of the past like Barack Obama who wanted to do reprehensible things, like bring health care to millions of disenfranchised Americans.
like Hilary Clinton, who used email and gave speeches with styled hair and
whilst wearing make-up, are going to be a thing of the past. As an experienced
Senator (2001-2009), Secretary of State (2009-2013) and First Lady (1993-2001)
what does she know about running a country?
Donald knows how to
run a golf club and a hotel chain which is better than a country, because those
sand traps don’t rake themselves, nor does the toilet paper form itself into a
pointed edge and that’s what really matters.
Details like that along with racist walls, racist registers, misogynistic loss of reproductive rights and staying up to date with your "in no way embarrassing" Twitter feed, will make America and by extension, the world great again.
I say we give them a
chance. Post truth is the new truth, so stop whining about rights and grab
yourself some pussy.
Like many Jeremy
Corbyn supporters I watched Dispatches last night totally convinced when I
began that there was nothing that would change my view of the man who I felt
huge gratitude to in raising the issues faced by millions of disabled people in
I heard the
allegations of Trotsky infiltrations with amusement rather than concern, heard
the mantra that Corbyn provided no credible leadership, with cynicism and
assumed that the notion of de-selection was a vicious lie prompted by the
threat many Blairites felt at the tidal wave of support Corbyn is receiving.
From the beginning the
glib Lobotomy joke from a worker at Momentum gave me a worrying shock. There is
a mantra of a kinder politics, of equality, of a place for everyone and the
assurance that no one is left behind. Yet a glib throwaway joke no doubt
delivered to show some kind of machismo, felt like a jarring insult to those of
us who believed all of that stuff from the beginning.
As the programme
unravelled so did my confidence in my preferred candidate who I’d voted for an
hour beforehand. Issues like a potentially breached legality around payment of
employees, were worrying. But the two facts were irrefutably established,
self-avowed Trots are highly visible within Momentum and de-selection of
sitting MP’s with whom they take issue, as an intention is very real.
exploded with Corbyn faithful tweets of “Hatchet job” “Stitch up” and
suggestions that this was a private production company with an agenda to
destroy Corbyn.I wearily pointed
out that all production companies are private companies. They are used by all
broadcasters and that despite any efforts in the editing suite, Momentum
workers weren’t being forced to say and do these things.
After the programme
finished we felt letdown and thoroughly depressed. I’ve been a vocal supporter
of Corbyn from the beginning and as the leadership contest has rolled I’ve
refused to argue with people I’m very fond of on Twitter who felt differently
about the leader of the Labour Party.
I’ve been a party
member for 6 years. It’s not been a passive membership for me. I campaigned
locally in the 2010 election because I knew the issues that I campaign on
outside of politics were going to become inextricably enmeshed with Cameron in
charge. I joined to fight for Labour and to fight for my children.
With the coalition
came the deconstruction of the welfare on which working and non-working
disabled people and carers rely. After the election I was asked to become my
CLP secretary. I gave up the little free time I had as a fulltime carer because
of my responsibilities. I was glad to do it. I attended conference and spent a
lot of time with Johanna Baxter, a devoted advocate for member’s rights and I
saw her elected to the NEC. There was no better woman for the job.
My admiration for the
leadership waned after there seemed to be no firm intention to fight welfare
reform. For me it was a direct denial of the basic principle of the party I
loved. So I left the party. After a few months Ed Milliband seemed to recognise
the issue needed closer attention and this gave me confidence in my party
again, so I rejoined.
When Jeremy Corbyn
joined the race for the leadership his direct commentary on the shameful
assault on disability benefits had a profound effect on me. He seemed a man of
decency and character and had been one of only 22 MP’s to vote against welfare
reform from the beginning. I felt huge gratitude and hope and felt sure that in
comparison to the old management speak approaches as vocalised by candidates
like Liz Kendall, his integrity was, to me, genuine and unvarnished.
When Corbyn was
elected leader I felt genuine hope for the first time in a long time.My battles for my 19 year old learning
disabled daughter have given me a deep understanding of the need for equality
and fairness in Tory Britain. Diane Abbot herself a target for racist abuse online, has always been a supporter of my fight for my daughter and for the issues of disability rights more widely.
My work for the Labour party as CLP secretary has
given me a greater understanding of the values of members and the hopes the
leadership carries in representing them.My time on social media has shown me the bias of certain aspects of the
media and the real nature of Trolls and cyber bullying.
For 8 years on social
media I’ve campaigned on the unpopular issue of disability rights and hate
crime. Unpopular, because people don’t really want to change.If they want to use pejorative words
referencing learning disability as a joke or a silencing insult, they tend not
to be too keen on my asking them not to. Unless they’re decent and kind and then they apologise and
stop doing it.
Reading articles on
the issue of disability hate crime makes some feel uncomfortable. The knowledge
that millions remain disenfranchised actually and politically, whilst a
centrist Labour party viewed defence of disability benefits, only through the
paradigm of political kryptonite, was infuriating.It was only after Corbyn that this issue was properly
addressed. He gave voice to the silenced and it must be said to many Labour
Mp’s who were whipped to abstain or voting their conscience and risking career suicide.
The two documentaries
last night, didn’t highlight, even with covert cameras that Corbyn is anything
other than he seems. No discriminatory unguarded comment, no inappropriate
behaviour. However, a man is also judged by the company he keeps and the
reputational damage must be addressed by affiliations of extended groups and
supporters. If Momentum allow self identifying Trots to speak at events, then
the criticism that this is happening is valid. Tom Watson isn’t a liar or a
plotter by saying what is true. I feel deceived into believing that this was
Another assurance of a
myth that was demonstrably true in both documentaries last night, is the issue
of de-selection. This is undemocratic. You can’t claim a broad church and start
closing the doors on parishioners who don’t agree with you. Irrespective of
what others have done to the hard left within the party, Corbyn’s ticket
promises change, difference, equality and fairness. Most of all it promises
If you’ve been online
in recent years, you’ll understand what it is to be a woman on social media
with any kind of platform. You’ll know that death and rape threats are common
and can be delivered by anyone with a keyboard to any woman with a profile.Irrespective of how often this issue is
highlighted men will still claim that Jeremy Corbyn has received his fair share
of abuse. He has many men do. Bullies will target any kind of difference and
perceived “weakness” However until all men in positions of power understand the
fundamental difference of being a woman online they will never truly be part of
are not enough. General calls for greater tolerance and calm are not enough.
This targeted abuse is highly specific and whether the tinfoil hat of
conspiracy theories is obscuring the view, the fact is Jess Phillip and JK
Rowling deserve to be able to voice an opinion free from threats of violence.
Last night when I commented
that I liked Peter Kyle, an MP I was unfamiliar with, a Corbyn supporter sent me photographs
of dead Syrian Children.
He didn’t know that I
was a Corbyn supporter. He’d clearly decided as a Corbyn supporter himself,
that I deserved a lesson. He used dead children as propaganda to school me that
my opinion needed attention.
Irrespective of whether
Corbyn is aware of these people personally is not the issue. They are acting in
his name. He has to address the fact that the tidal wave he’s riding on is made
up not of a minority of abusive tweeters but a significant number who believe
they have the right to attack anyone they choose in defence of Corbyn. In that respect they remind
me of my experiences with Trump supporters online, who deem all criticism of
their candidate invalid and any methods they deploy as proportionate.
This is where we are
now. The mob rule of law, the decision that unless every syllable written is in
slavering support of Corbyn and frothing assault on his critics then
retribution will be fast and furious.
John Mcdonnell is
quoted as saying “We don’t do leaders” that may or may not be true but now they
have attained leadership, that is the job at hand. With rights come
responsibilities. Corbyn has the right to assemble an army of supporters, he
has a right to speak and to be silent but he has the responsibility of those
values he voiced which gained him huge support, to support those now being
Corbyn needs to stand
up to the bullying Tories and the bullies within his own ranks. Cyber bullying
is a real issue. Verbal abuse and threats and harassment of women and men
online and in life is being enabled by his silence.
People reading my
tweets last night predictably decided I was now anti-Corbyn. I’m not, I’m anti bullying.This binary notion that “If you don’t
love him, you hate him” is best left out of the equation. Sometimes supporters
need to voice concern, it’s an act of friendship not an assault.
In response to C4’s
Dispatches last night the Momentum twitter feed was cracking jokes and boasting
about people joining. Bravado is one thing but it underlined to me that there
is a lack of understanding about the seriousness of the damage that the
programme did. Not to those so entrenched in fanaticism that they say all is
well but to members like me who last night saw the Emporer’s nakedness not
Momentum’s invisible clothes.
Corbyn’s strength lies
in his own attributes, in his values and in his integrity, he must be careful
that the group who support him must not be allowed to consume him.
Many people are
relying on him, not to leave them behind.
So HM government rejected my first petition because they said I didn't make clear what I was asking them to do. I thought I had and couldn't have been clearer.
I was a bit gloomy about it then I stopped doing that because that's stupid. So I made a new petition and sent it out to 5 people asking for support because that's what the government tell you to do.
Amend existing Hate Crime legislation to specifically include disabled people.
Hate crimes are recorded for disabled people, however the criminal offences detailing hate crime, do not cover disabled people. Crime & Disorder Act 1998 "Hostility on the grounds of race & religion" Public Order Act 1986 "Stirring up hatred on the grounds of race, religion & sexual orientation"
Legislation needs to be clear and precise in its definition of the people targeted by hate crime and in the sentencing of those who commit hate crimes. It is a unique offence and needs to protect all those whose lives are devastated or ended through hatred. Disabled people cannot choose not to be disabled. Disabled people need the law to be amended to offer them full protection and to serve as a deterrent in sentencing those, motivated by hatred & hostility, who commit targeted offences.
Last night at 10.30pm after another day of no news from the Council or the CCG but with lots of help and support from everyone online, I got the following email from the CCG. The tone reflects what I perceive to be the joint authorities irritation with our persistence. I reproduce it here in it's entirety having removed the address.
An update on XXXX XXXX.
Shropshire Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group have reached an agreement in principle regarding XXXX XXXX. In order for this to be implemented, legalities need to be confirmed by both parties, along with the landlord, Severnside Housing. Shropshire Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group will determine a timeline of actions required, and will update you tomorrow regarding this. As soon as all legalities have been confirmed, and all necessary work completed to ensure the property is safe and suitable for Emily’s habitation, keys will be provided to the CCG for distribution.
I'm interested in the timeline they speak of. I hope it will be one which doesn't delay any further and can be implemented immediately. Yesterday I emailed both authorities, pointing out a best interests meeting could remove any more blocks to Emily's care pathway.
In the absence of any information but aware of the leaving day having been passed, Emily has naturally decided she's coming home.
This can't happen. Emily is being told this today and it's too dangerous for me to be there when they tell her this. It's too dangerous because Emily's anxieties are so high now that she is displaying behaviours that challenge again. I want to be there I want to make sure that this is explained to Emily in a way that assures her that something which she can't help, is not her fault. No one of this is her fault. But she'll pay the price of it everyday of her life.
When Emily moves she'll have a care package of 3-1. This is a 24 hr care package. I was that care package for 15 years. It's not that we won't let Emily come home, it's that Emily can't come home because she needs much more than any one one person can give.
I've been told online several times that I'm a bad mother. That I abandoned my child and that I'm abandoning her again now.
That's ok, people will comment and make judgements and assumptions based on things they can never understand. That's human nature.
There is nothing that anyone can ever say to me about Emily leaving, that is ever as bad as what I think about that. Judgemental people should rest assured that I have a troll permanently embedded in my brain, reminding me.
I know that i never wanted to be the 80 year old mother of a 50 year old learning disabled child who then loses everything when their parent dies. Who has been "kept safe" but then has to adjust to independent living when everything they have ever known collapses around them.
I made that determination when Emily was diagnosed at 3 years old. I knew her life would never be easy. I knew the world mocks and laughs and latterly has become hateful towards people like Emily.
I learnt that everything the rest of us take for granted would not be granted to Emily without a fight. Education, accommodation, health care, justice and freedoms are not routinely positively experienced by learning disabled people.
Until the system extends more than a grudging hand of assistance, the experience of Learning Disabled people and those of us who love them, far more than can ever be expressed in words, will remain the same.
The easiest part of this transition should have been finding the house. It will be the second most traumatic move of Emily's life.
I'll leave it to the words of one of the finest people I know. Mark Neary. His blog is a masterclass in articulate determination but it was a tweet to me yesterday which sums it up best
" So offensive that an LD person's life has to be remoulded to fit bureaucratic shite."
Why is it that people who have proven
themselves to be untrustworthy always get really offended when you tell them
that you don’t trust them?
Today we went to a five hour meeting of the
principle people involved in their professional capacity, to manage Emily’s
transition from residential school to a home of her own.
I called the meeting last Wednesday after
it became obvious that the school staff were finding it more difficult to
manage Emily’s rising anxiety, with absolutely no information with which to
Emily was told she would be leaving the
school by the LD nurse who is in charge of the transition. We didn’t know he
was going to tell her when he did, he made the decision, then and there and
leaving date was reinforced with a countdown in sleeps.
Emily wasn’t being given any other
information at the time. Just that she would be leaving the school. In the
subsequent weeks care staff have been doing their very best to manage this.
They’ve been asking for more information and I’ve been asking for more
information but nothing final has been decided due to inter-departmental
In lieu of any facts Emily did what any of
us would do. She filled in the missing pieces for herself.
Last week I called the meeting because we
needed to tell Emily more, because we needed to prepare Emily. I said we needed
more LD support because at the weekend Emily would be phoning home and everyone
needed a contingency plan. The advice from the LD team was still, don’t tell
On Saturday we got a call. Emily was very
distressed but also she had vocalized the fact that this week, the week she was
leaving, she would be coming home to live.
We haven’t seen Emily since the countdown
began. It was deemed too risky. So added to all the fighting we’ve been missing
her and she’s been missing us. I explained to her on the phone that we were
resting. She was very upset but eventually, she accepted it.
On Saturday, I couldn’t bear the thought of
giving her nothing once the countdown ended. Nothing except complete distrust
in all of us, so I told her she could come for a tea visit. She was delighted.
The tea visit was today and it was clear
that the LD team were not exactly happy but ultimately if they’d provided some
kind of information, any kind of plan I would have acted accordingly. They
didn’t so I had to make a decision.
I’m so so so SO sick of experts right now I
can’t begin to tell you. I'm sure they're equally sick of me but on we go. We sat in the meeting with wall to wall professionals
and I looked at them and wondered how any of them would deal with this
situation, as a parent, if they were where we are.
Since Emily was diagnosed at 3 years old
it’s been one long version of getting the diagnosis, putting her in the car and
going home alone. Various psychologists, psychiatrists, paediatricians. LD
Nurses, service providers, social workers, dentists and doctors have all given
me their informed opinions and they have mostly been caring and dedicated, compassionate and practical.
A few however have been sanctimonious,
patronizing, over qualified, arrogant, management speaking, theory based,
budget focused, career enhancing, robots.
Parent carers are their kryptonite. Because
no matter how many training courses they attend or give, the fatal weakness for
any superhero, is that a paper qualification doesn’t mean shit.The shop floor is the only training
that counts. The hours and hours and hours that you accrue as a care worker or
a parent carer is all that matters.For a parent carer this expertise multiplies exponentially.
Some parent carers are awful. But most in
my experience and this extends to sibling carers and those caring for their
parents, are wrought from love. Point me to the training course that qualifies
anyone for that and I’ll accept that we are then equally capable, of deciding
what’s best for my child.
Anyway the tea visit was fine. I had to
relieve Emily of our landline phone which she’d decided to take with her, by
pointing out that when she phones I won’t be able to talk to her if she takes
it, but that aside it was just so bloody good to see her.
Emily looked at me once I stopped hugging
her and said “Mummy has wet eyes” and I did. “They’re happy tears Emily” I
said. And they were.
The net result of the meeting was that we
have a sort of idea what’s happening next. The man from the Council had to
endure Phil and my pent up frustration at the behaviour of his department for
the last 3 weeks.I walked out of
the meeting 3 times and cried twice. But again it’s been a really tough time.
There were some unbelievably odd
suggestions, like moving Emily to another residential placement, which given
that we’ve spent 6 months focusing on single occupancy community living, made
no sense at all.
It’s apparently a contingency plan. Oh ok
If Shropshire Council would just sign the
lease on the bungalow it’s sorted, without the need for a contingency plan but
apparently that’s not a possibility. He couldn’t say why but he would find out
and let us know by the end of the day. He hasn’t. But I’m not surprised.
Then we moved onto the “terrible awful”. I
ended up sobbing and begging again because I really can’t begin to explain what
the idea of sending your child to a psychiatric hospital because “it’s not our
responsibility to house Emily” does to a parent of a learning disabled child.
But Phil probably summed it up best when he said “If
you try and do that to Emily, I’m phoning the police”
He’s right. To us the idea of someone doing
that to our girl seems criminal. They had their court of protection meeting
before we got there and apparently it’s for the deprivation of liberty that her
locked front door will create. But as I said at the start and to them all in
the meeting “Do you think we trust any of you anymore?”
Shropshire Council won’t sign the lease.
The CCG can’t sign the lease and the care provider really shouldn’t sign the
lease. I’m sure we’ll be getting a phone call in the next couple of days
explaining why their solicitors feel exactly that way and so we’ll be back to
square one. Every time we offer to do it no one answers us.
So trust is gone and hope is hanging by a thread and still we wait.
This is the department of the NHS locally
who maintain and fund Emily at her school.
This decision was made last year when Emily underwent a scoring assessment and became the responsibility of the
Complex Care team due to her Continuing Health Care needs.
I was aware of Continuing Health Care when
my Mum was deemed to have declined enough in her Alzheimer’s Disease to qualify. It meant she stopped paying for her nursing home care fees from the sale of her house
and was supported by the NHS.
So now, her granddaughter is funded by them
I don’t normally talk about my Mum or my
daughter in terms of funding, or budget lines or areas of legal responsibility.
I normally talk about the people I love in terms of their personality, their
achievements, their hopes and dreams and what they mean to me.
But as Emily is now facing being homeless
in 9 days, including this weekend, I have to switch to viewing Emily the way
she is interpreted by the system.
Fortunately for us, yesterday we sat with a
decision maker who viewed Emily as the person she is. The man we spoke to saw
our daughter as a human being, not as a budgetary responsibility. I was so grateful that I hugged him. We've felt so hopeless, so broken, so beaten. For the first time in recent days, we felt real hope.
It made me wonder when our country changed
from being a supporter of people to a nation of budget lines and as with most
things, it began with the sociological phenomenon that was Margaret Thatcher.
Quite simply she changed everything and
turned a maxim into a mission statement. “When you have the country by the
balls their hearts and minds will follow”.
The balls of this country were in
championing the notion of a welfare state. The duality of healthcare and
social care, meant that socio-economic factors did not return us to the time of
the Poor Law.
Thatcher redrew the map and given an increasing
elderly population, coupled with a move away from institutional settings,
she began a process whereby the reliance upon the welfare state became a
“shameful indulgence” not an economic necessity.
People she told us, sternly and
determinedly should aspire to more. This message was delivered from the steely
lips of a no nonsense grocers daughter, a wife, a mother, a woman who had
navigated her court shoe clad toes through the halls of Westminster and
dispensed a housewife’s practicality upon the silly men who held the reigns.
It was a simple but brilliant strategy and
with the sword of compassionate conservatism and the shield of left wing
winters of discontent, the country humbly and dutifully did what it was told,
in case they were sent to bed with no supper and instructed to think about what
it had done.
Aspire, achieve and succeed no matter where
you come from said Mrs Grantham Grocer’s daughter. I am you, you are me.Don’t look at my silly old Millionaire
husband,don’t notice my dubious
friends like General Pinochet, don’t bat an eyelid at Jimmy Savile
frequent guest and ally. Do what you are told, by me, because I’m you and so I
can tell you, what we want.
What we wanted apparently, was to lose our
industry, wage war, privatise our infrastructure and buy our council houses
without replenishing the stock.
She turned her beady eye to the welfare
state, fortunately her cabinet stopped her but she laid the seeds of that
particular Joshua Tree.
Cameron and Osborne and Ian Duncan Smith,
stretched out their arms to private companies like Atos and Capita and with a
breathtaking diabolical “scrounger” narrative to a country rendered devoid of
empathy after the “greed is good” 1980’s propaganda. In short they made her benefit
denying dreams a reality.
The biggest sell off Thatcher achieved was
our nation’s compassion and ability to discern the victim from the villain. Those who fought for their livelihood, who had worked for generations in mining, who wanted nothing more than to provide for their families and defend their communities, were branded monsters.
The NHS meanwhile, was dying quietly in a
corner and it was thought best to withdraw all further treatment, as "nothing
more could be done". Subsequent governments tried to administer first aid,
sometimes involving heroic methods, but once the nation chose again, a poster
boy sold to us on a myth of genuine understanding, we took the bait and
found ourselves hooked, landed and fried.
There have been comforts to distract
ourselves with. The Tabloids, will underpin the messages and myths. Blame and
shame is big business. To be disabled, to be sick, to be poor, to be elderly, or to
be a refugee, is now deemed to be a "lifestyle choice".
Which brings me back to now. Emily still
needs a home. Emily is still disabled and Emily is now a disability benefit
claimant. This isn’t a lifestyle choice, this is a vulnerable person who just
wants a life.
She will access what little social housing
remains and will do so from the chronically underfunded NHS budget which is still,
thankfully, being awarded and distributed by human beings.
With only 9 days left before Emily is homeless we’re still waiting for the budget holders at Shropshire Council to
let us know what's happening and when they will help her.
I received the following email at 19.47pm on Thursday 16th June. At a time when we have no way of talking to anyone.
After 6 months of being told Emily would be found a property via Housing Services at Shropshire Council, it would appear they are no longer going to be involved with this. We were never told. We were told Shropshire Council were working in partnership with the CCG and we were allocated a Housing officer to source Emily a home.
With just 13 days before Emily is homeless, we now have no idea where we are going to be getting a property from.
No mention is made of a housing provider.
No mention is made of who we are to liaise with or speak to other than the CCG, which in terms of accommodation is completely new information.
We are not aware that the CCG own any property that Emily would be able to move into in 13 days time. Probably because they don't.
No mention is made of whether the application for housing benefit which the housing officer told us we would be applying for, is going ahead or not.
We now don't know if we can still speak to the housing officer or if Emily still has a profile on Homepoint, which is the website and process to bid for social housing. Homepoint as far as we are aware, is provided by Shropshire Council.
We feel we have been cut adrift, that Shropshire Council have taken their "Housing officer ball" back and dealt us the added cruelty of the timing of the email, which means we have no one to talk to, at this time of night.
Is this anyway to treat a vulnerable 19 year old, learning disabled, autistic woman with epilepsy? Is this any way for the Council to treat their residents of Shropshire. I'm posting it on my blog in the hope that someone will be able to advise us.
Please help as our local authority seem unwilling to do so now, by their own statement. It would have been nice if they had managed to spell our name correctly but that is simply the insult they have added to our grievous injury of wasted, precious time.
"SENT ON BEHALF OF ANDY BEGLEY
Dear Mrs Clarke
I am writing to explain as clearly as possible the Council’s position with regard to your daughter’s situation. Emily has, as you know, been assessed as meeting the criteria for NHS Continuing Health Care and therefore it is the responsibility of the Shropshire CCG to meet all her health and associated care and support needs, including reasonable accommodation. Staff within Adult Social Care and Housing, have sought to assist in this process by identifying what we think to be suitable premises where your daughter’s care and accommodation can be provided, but it is up to the CCG to decide whether or not it wishes to pay for this.
We are not responsible for meeting Emily’s health needs and have only become involved in an attempt to assist. I have liaised over the past few days with senior managers at the CCG and can confirm that they will remain the responsible organisation for managing Emily’s care arrangements (including accommodation requirements), and I understand that (name removed) will be contacting you as soon as possible. To confirm; Adult Social Care is not responsible for the coordination and management of Emily’s package of care, please raise any questions or concerns you have over your daughter’s care and accommodation with the CCG, directly.
In fifteen days time,
Emily our youngest daughter will be homeless.
It’s one of the most
frightening concepts a parent can contemplate, but when your child has learning
disability, autism epilepsy and operates to the cognitive ability of a five
year old the concept becomes an all-encompassing terror.
We have to find a
house and since the decision was made to remove Emily’s school placement in
January, we’ve lived it everyday.
We haven’t been idle.
I’ve applied for ESA and PIP sorted her bank account, and attended countless
meetings. I’ve written articles, made films and tweeted as always, in support of
disability rights and the issues that disabled people face everyday in terms of
political and social disenfranchisement.
The CCG who are
funding her care package haven’t been idle either. They’ve sourced a private
provider, led meetings, organised professional involvement and supported us
The care provider
hasn’t been idle. They recruited staff identified Emily’s needs, met her and
trained the new staff in de-escalation techniques.
The housing officer
hasn’t been idle. She’s helped me complete the form for the website which
offers social housing, sourced properties, liaised with Housing associations
and kept me updated on the progress of any bids we’ve made and we’ve travelled
all over the county looking at properties, none of which are suitable.
Throughout this whole
process. the perfect property, the one that meets all of Emily’s needs in terms
of bedrooms, perimeter and location has been lying idle for over a year.
On Monday with only 19
days before Emily is homeless we were told about it.
We contacted the
housing association; they told us it was unavailable.
We contacted the housing
officer; she told us it was unavailable.
It transpires that the
house was selected a year ago and has been vacant ever since. Shropshire
Council’s Adult Social Care Services have entered into a “contractual arrangement”
with the housing association and the lease is due to be signed over. It isn’t
with Emily, have told us that if no suitable property can be found for Emily,
she will have to go to an Assessment and Treatment unit, in Birmingham.
The property we have
found, the perfect one, the only one, is being renovated for multiple occupancy
for adults with learning difficulties who are returning to the community.
We’ve been offered
another house 45 minutes away. This is problematic for many reasons.
The care-staff were
recruited in Emily's home town because the care provider was told as we all were, that finding a
property for Emily here "wouldn’t be a problem".
For the staff to
travel an extra 45 mins to and from work, will place an additional burden on
them and impact them financially. There is a very real possibility that this care package could break down if additional pressures like this are placed on the care staff.
The transition will be
very difficult for Emily. I’ve stressed from the beginning that this transition
must be a long one with carefully managed introductory visits by Emily to the
property and to the people she will have looking after her.
We will need to be
very close by, because the likelihood of Emily going into crisis and meltdown post transition is very high. This is another reason why the back up of additional care staff close to Emily's property is so important.
Despite all our best efforts the property is still not found and now we have only 15
days to find one and introduce Emily to it.
Travelling a distance to Emily in
crisis is an added pressure.
The property in town,
which has been earmarked for other occupants, is 10 minutes away. It’s empty
it’s ready to move her into, it would solve her homeless crisis, it would be
close to her family.
It would diminish the
triple anxiety of new property, new staff and new location by one third, as
it’s a familiar area she’s known from respite.
None of this appears to
have made any impact on Adult Social Care. They have refused to speak to me
directly, choosing instead to use the housing officer as a human shield and
getting her to talk to us and others.
In the Care Act 2014
it states the general duties of a local authority:
general duty of a local authority in exercising a function under this Part in
the case of an individual, is t promote that individual’s well being.
in relation to an individual, means that individual’s well being so far as
relating to any of the following
dignity (including treatment of that individual with respect
and mental health and emotional well-being
(c)protection from abuse and neglect
by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support, or
support provided to the individual and the way in which it is provided)
(e)participation in work education, training or
(f)social and economic well-being
family and personal relationships
of living accommodation
(i)the individuals contribution to society
Of particular interest
to me was this statement from Part 2 “Preventing needs for care and support”
(2)In performing that duty a
local authority must have regard to –
importance of identifying services, facilities and resources already available
in the authority’s area and the extent to which the authority could involve or
make use of them in performing that duty.
I would say that an
empty bungalow, being made ready for adults with learning difficulties but not
already occupied by adults with learning difficulties, owned by a housing
association ten minutes away from Emily’s family with a second bedroom for her
24 hour carer, ALREADY AVAILABLE IN THE AUTHORITY'S AREA, is exactly what the
Care Act 2014 was written to legally enforce.
I would say that
Emily’s emotional physical and mental well-being would benefit from the
bungalow and NOT from being placed in an assessment and treatment unit.
I would suggest that
the properties unsuitable for Emily, might be eminently suitable for adults with
learning difficulties; perhaps able to use the Yale locks placed on the bedroom
doors of multi occupancy units, to promote independence.
My heart aches for
anyone in an assessment and Treatment unit. My heart is breaking at the idea
that there is a property perfect for Emily but as we’re denied this she will
potentially be sent to an assessment and treatment unit. How is this practical,
sensible or morally defensible?
Emily is already
deemed homeless and has been since the 2nd of June. Why are her
needs of lesser importance?
Adult Social Care can
ignore me, they can disrespect me, they can pay no attention to my mental
health, my emotional well-being or my human rights.
They can repeat the
phrase “unavailable” ad nauseum to the people dispatched to instruct me of this
message; but they can’t ignore the law and they can’t do any of the above to a
19 year old learning disabled, autistic woman with epilepsy, unchallenged.
Perhaps they won’t
read this. Perhaps they will and simply ignore it. I have 15 days to find Emily a house and I’m going to fight for
her. I promised her I would when she was diagnosed at three, it’s promise for
If those in power in
Shropshire wonder why I make such an unseemly, fuss about things, they
should ask themselves, what would they do if this was their child, disabled or
My message to Shropshire Council here https://audioboom.com/boos/4693631-message-to-shropshire-council
On 29th April “Special
Correspondents” launched as a Netflix original film. The question that
pre-supposes all of Ricky Gervais’s work “Is the King of controversy going to shock and appall?” was
answered. No. I think the notion of "controversial" is built into reactions to Ricky Gervais's stand up rather than his other writing. I've seen that applied to many stand up comedians, who also don't deserve the label, but Gervais has reached a level of fame whereby nuance is sacrificed for expectation and this is a double edged sword. Taking a thought for a walk along the cliffside of public opinion, is a risky business especially these days. We live in an age of celebrity. Social media is dominated by fans and fan culture. Mainstream media makes sacred cows and sacrificial lambs, and if a comedian highlights the "wrong" issue or the "wrong" sacred cow, retribution is swift and long lasting. Offence is no longer subjective, it's the rule applied to creativity, without exception and often without direct experience of the subject matter being dissected.
Gervais has said the real appeal of Launching the film on Netflix was that they allowed him to make his film his way. Which is good because the film that greeted fans and critics alike, is an
intelligent, witty comedy, imbued with delightful characters and framed within
an entirely plausible premise, that tells us, news can be faked and the public is none the
Based on the original French film of the same name from 2009, Gervais's film sees Ian Finch (Gervais) and Frank Bonneville
(Eric Bana) posting reports of a civil war in Ecuador, from the
comfort and safety of an apartment over a Spanish restaurant in the heart of New York.
With the circumstances established, the film expands to address the additional
aspects of an unfolding news story and the decisions of those left behind. The actions of Finch’s duplicitous wife
Eleanor (Vera Farmiga); the struggling radio station, whose editor (the
brilliant Kevin Pollak) is delighted to be moving up in the ratings despite the
fact that two of his staff are missing and the willingness of the viewing
public to find and champion heroes.
As Ian Finch, Gervais plays against type.
David Brent was the eternal optimist of his
own inappropriate ambition, utterly kind but confusing popularity with respect.
Andy Milllman, was a cynical extra turned "C lister" who was eventually burnt out by the realisation of a dream, which proved
“Derek” was a vulnerable care worker who
only wanted the best for those he loved.
In his award show-host persona, Gervais is
the brash observer who roasts the celebrities for the amusement of himself and
the viewing audience.
Ian Finch is a gentle and nerdy sound
engineer who struggles with the snowballing lie as it seizes the nation’s
hearts, generates cash donations and reveals the true nature of all the main
players. He is in awe of and a little frightened by Frank Bonneville, the
sophisticated journalist he techs for.
Frank Bonneville is an excellent and
surprising comic turn from Eric Bana and he and Gervais have a great and
natural chemistry, generating many of the belly laughs of the film's 90 minutes. A situational "brom com", which pitches Bonneville's world weary, cynical ambition, against Finch's hero worship and open hearted kindness.
Brigida (America Ferrera)and Domingo (Raul Castillo) are a
delightful double actas the
owners of the spanish restaurant where Finch and Bonneville broadcast their
faked reports. They too, generate
huge laughs of affection.
Vera Farmiga shows that she is a
gifted comic actor as the repellent Eleanor, turning the situation of her husband's kidnapping, into an
opportunity to realise her frustrated ambitions and Gervais once again gives
the soul of the piece to a woman, Claire Maddox (Kelly Macdonald). A fellow
journalist who quietly loves Finch for who he is, and tries to make sense of the aspects of her profession, which in these days of rolling news, can make monsters of us all.
“Special Correspondents” is a delightful
It harks back to the halcyon days of comedies of intelligence, that I thought
were gone. The film that it reminded me of most was "The Apartment" with the language and nuance, character and situation leading the narrative and trusting the audience. The era of films, which we can watch again and again; due to the alchemy of believable characters, engaging plots, witty dialogue, physical comedy and a superb ensemble cast.
Compared to the ubiquitous gross out, female flesh fest, formulaic and victim targeting films that pass for funny these days, it is a breath of fresh air through the oxygen mask of great writing.