Sunday, 7 October 2018

What shall I tell my daughter






It is a truth universally acknowledged that an actress in possession of more than 40 years lived, must be in want of her retirement.

Women are everywhere. Anyone would think we're 50% of the population the way we go on. If we're not complaining, we're protesting, if we're not protesting we're complaining about protesting and if we're not protesting or complaining, we're complaining that no one listens to our protesting and so they just go ahead and nominate Kavanagh anyway.

It's enough to make you want to have a beer. I LIKE BEER TOO BRETT.

In May 2018 I launched a campaign. It's called the "Acting Your Age Campaign" and it challenges the notion that when a woman reaches the age of 40 she must happily give up any hopes of a meaningful acting career, because no one cares about any story that places a woman over 40 at it's centre.

I did so in frustration in a week that had seen the launch of two male led dramas by male actors in their 50's with female leads in their 30's.
There was also the news of the latest release in the Mission Impossible franchise, showing us again, if proof were needed, that whilst it's male star Tom Cruise has continued to work whilst passing the 40 year threshold comfortably into his middle 50's,  his female co-stars have remained the same age.

Not the same age as him, you understand but the same age that they were when the Mission Impossible franchise first began, in 1996.

It would seem that it's not so much a tape detailing rogue states or rogue agents that self destructs, but rather the calendar attached to the contracts of the female actors featured in that film series, when they reach 40 years old.

My question is this. What shall I tell my daughter Lizzy? She's an actor and at 24 she has at best 16 years of a career left and it's not even properly begun.

More widely what are we saying to all our daughters?

Everyone sympathises when sports stars retire young, no one bats an eyelid when it's a 40 year old actress.

A female drama student beginning her training this month has roughly half the career trajectory of her male peers. Not because of lack of talent, not because of lack of professionalism, not because of fecklessness but because she is female and he isn't.

A gender disparity this egregious, this blatant and this shameful would, you might expect be in all the media outlets and platforms we have, but no. Apart from Alice Jones who covered it in her ipaper Column. There were only two industry pieces. The mainstream media silence is deafening.

The most depressing thing for me was that when I launched my campaign film in August which has a stellar cast, all the women editors I approached either ignored me or told why they didn't think it was important. Except one editor who told me she didn't have the budget.

As the message was coming from me, a middle aged woman asking that middle aged women shouldn't be ignored by the media; naturally I've been ignored, by the media.

I listened to Woman's Hour, after I approached the editor about my campaign.

I'd already approached them a few times and I was really keen for feedback as to why this wasn't deemed an important issue given that it is a blatant gendered disparity.

I'd got my courage from the Woman's Hour Power list videos and all the successful women on the list.They're all  great mentors who said inspirational and empowering things like "ask for what you want", "be clear and direct" , "don't feel intimidated" and "don't give up keep fighting".

So I did that.

She said that no they weren't going to cover it and that I shouldn't really email that address anyway but rather the generic Woman's Hour address. She said that she was sorry but they got a lot of requests and couldn't possibly cover everything and also they talk to a lot of actresses about the issue.

I did wonder why then if a lot of older actresses talk about it and this was the first dedicated campaign specifically on that issue, then maybe it was newsworthy.

Then she ended the email. Well I think she did because she didn't sign it.

I wrote an apologetic email saying I hadn't meant to disturb her or offend her. Not very "Power List" of me I admit, but maybe those things work once you are a powerful woman and not when you're not.

Anyway back to that Woman's Hour episode which came after my email. They were doing a piece on Bodyguard, just before the final episode. I love Woman's Hour so I was listening.

Jane Garvey, who I also love, asked the TV reviewer, whether with shows like Bodyguard, we are now seeing a golden age for women on TV. I thought about the editor's email again and wondered that myself.

Then I thought no, as according to the editor's email it would seem the real power of Woman's Hour lies apparently with the woman who collects all the emails from the generic info address.

So maybe that's what all the people, except actresses over 40 in interviews with "Womans Hour were saying, in emails to the programme.

I opened a packet of chocolate biscuits and listened on.

At this point I just need to say, "can I also say and men"

I need to add that, as that's what Woman's Hour do everytime they talk to any woman about a specific issue which disproportionately affects women.
I'm not sure if it's for BBC Balance or a personal choice by the presenters but it's there.

I mean the irony of the lack of BBC balance in the representation of middle aged women and men on screen and the lack of media coverage of it on the daily flagship woman (can I also say and men) dedicated programme, isn't lost on me, but there we are.

For complete balance they should really change the name of the programme to "Womans (can I also say and men) Hour". But I don't think they will.

I'm not belittling Woman's Hour. I'm also not belittling the experience of men. I'm just questioning why they have to have equal representation in respect of issues that disproportionately affect women in the patriarchy, to a much greater degree than they affect men.

I'm merely pointing out that if every time we mention women we also have to say "and men" we're not really going to get much done, whilst the patriarchy sits there and congratulates itself that it's once again successfully man-spreading its way into women's spaces.

I've done that through humour, which as we know always plays well and is never misinterpreted.

But I've digressed again. I'm like Ronnie Corbett. Middle aged reference klaxon.

So, before you run away with the notion that I'm dissing Bodyguard I'm not.  I love BodyGuard. It's a nail biting drama which has really upset the snowflake sexists because it features women in many different roles. Capable, strong, professional, women y'know just like in life.

But it is the story, as the title explains, about a Bodyguard.

If it had been called "Home Secretary" I would agree that it should feature prominently in any and all lists detailing the "Golden Age of Women on TV" (can I also say and men)

But it isn't, so it can't. Potentially  we might be shuffling very slowly towards a bronze age of women (can I also say and men) But that's it.

In Bodyguard, the mighty  Keeley Hawes is over 40. Her character as portrayed was intelligent, witty, capable and enthusiastically sexual. (Ma'am)

This notable aspect of the drama had Theresa May clutching at invisible pearls from the podium on the Tory party conference stage, which she had dad-danced onto only minutes before and declaring "It wasn't like that in my day" (cue conference hilarity because it's funny isn't it, that women over 40 have sex)

So Julia was all of those things as detailed above and the crucial reason why this show isn't part of any golden age for women on TV is that Julia was dead by the end of Episode 3.

All of my energy is going into not believing that it was "the sex what done it" because let's face it the rule was being broken royally.

Women in film who enjoy sex must NOT be over 40 and if they are by some weird "PC gone mad" rule of inclusion, having sex they absolutely CAN'T still be alive for long afterwards, because my god, what's next?

Women over 50 having sex, or over 60 or over 70?

 STOP RIGHT THERE, RIGHT NOW. ERECTION DESTROYER, YOU SHALL NOT PASS.

THAT MIGHT BE TRUE IN LIFE BUT BROADCASTERS ARE DAMNED IF THEY'RE GOING TO SHOW THAT ON SCREEN.

NO, C'MON, LET'S KEEP IT BELIEVABLE.

Like in "Black Earth Rising" when John Goodman is getting no solicitor work done because beautiful women of all ages keep trying to have sex with him, even in the same room as his comatose daughter. Is that the sort of believable "not at all a male fantasy" version of the truth you mean....

No wonder the legal system is arguably broken.

Anyway back to erasure.

I can think of only one show that is on the Golden Age list and that does not, a golden age make.

"Killing Eve" ticks all my boxes and especially my campaign "Woman Adjunct Test" because it features two women prominently one young, one middle-aged, at the same time, with the same amount of screen time and they're not doing anything at all to move things along for a bloke.

The story is about the women, not a man with a side order of sexy woman, embittered women, woman in peril to be saved, or his mum WHO HE LOVES SO MUCH.

The programme offers a tiny glimmer of hope that women at the heart of the story can be interesting. Their sexuality is a dramatic point which features as a side issue, not the reason they're there and their bodies are driven by the only organ that really matters, their brains.

We need to see more of this, otherwise no matter how many strong, young, women we see leading feminist campaigns in media, the most influential media we have, is telling them a different story.

It's saying that a woman's value in the TV & film industry is built around her youth and sexuality.

Her perceived desirability and the currency this carries, as determined by men. Women's sexual expression mustn't be curbed but when that is the only reason for a woman to appear and when the sexuality of middle aged women is traduced to a joke, or a statement of desperation, or tied into mental unbalance, then oppression becomes the driver and it insults men of all ages.

The crisis in masculinity we're seeing is fed by the notion that men can age and can and should be having sex with much younger women as a right. The "trophy" partnerships played out on our screens  betrays the fact of a sentient women, who loses value only because she ages.

The women of the ME TOO and Times UP movement, who led the change and led the accountability, the women who outed Bill Cosby, all lost their careers. We know sexually predatory behaviour is about power not sex but sexual currency is a huge part of exploitation and exploitation once normalised is entrenched.

Although believed and applauded now for their bravery, the women of ME TOO face an industry which has no place for them as artists.

Women who age are expected to keep working, as we know from the WASPI women campaign, that prolonged careers are a fiscal imperative everywhere but in acting. Working women don't see themselves on screen equally represented, whilst at the same time the fight continues for equal pay in every other sphere of life.

The stories we tell must reflect society as it is. The message of the erasure of middle aged women is that our lives have no value and our stories aren't deemed interesting.

Female actors over the age of 40 still need to eat and have somewhere to live.

Nothing more than a calendar prevents them. Nothing more than a calendar deems my campaign which highlights blatant, sexist ageism,  not newsworthy.

So as I mentioned earlier, what shall we tell our daughters?


Sunday, 23 September 2018

The othered woman, the she devil and the naughty scamp








This morning I woke up thinking about women. I think about women a lot these days.

First of all I need to issue a disclaimer, I'm a woman and this has to be said up front. It needs to be said because this post is about the space women occupy and as I'm fifty two, I'm aware that any space occupied by older women needs to be tightly monitored and limited.

In the media, I'm a non person. I'm not famous and I'm not young and I'm not male, so before the patriarchal police knock down my front door and drag me away, I'll quickly share my thoughts.

The news over the last couple of weeks has been about sex and the relationship which two women had with one man. One of the women in this familiar triangle of pain, knew about the crowded nature of the relationship and the other didn't.

But both women were judged and found to be wanting. The man did his tousled haired shrug, no doubt and potentially smiled a smug smile of "What am I like eh chaps?"

In both cases the women occupied spaces they where the rules are gladiatorial in approach. When the man in question is famous, the women concerned enter the space sometimes willingly but more often than not, unwillingly and in either respect, the arena crowds bay and howl for their triumph or annihilation.

We're the arena crowds. On social media or traditional media, we can virtually raise or turn down our thumbs at the press of a button. Caesar would have been delighted. He would also have recognised what it is to be in the public eye and unexpectedly stabbed repeatedly into oblivion.

Now both the women in question have their supporters. They also have the patriarchal approach to support when it comes to women and it's this, "If you're going to support a woman in public, make sure another woman is being trashed"

It's impossible to report the marital affairs of a famous straight married man without moving swiftly from his actions to hers.

The "her" in question will be his wife and his affair partner. The "other" or more accurately, othered woman will be subject to the patriarchal "Fitness to fuck" test.

1) What does she look like?
2) How old is she?

The wife or partner will be subject to the "Fitness to fuck over" test

1) What does she look like?
2) How old is she?


Once these two clear parameters are achieved the rest is down to a choice. Who do you support?

As strangers to all concerned parties, the "Fitness to Fuck or Fuck over" test gives us licence to judge the women at will.

But we must choose and never  ever must we approach the man with anything other than a metaphorical head tousel and a gentle quasi-rebuke of "Oh you naughty scamp, did you let your penis decide again?"

Once the othered woman has been scrutinised with our eyes, we move on to x-ray her character. Because we know don't we, what is in her heart and mind with just a few judgements and the opinions of others.

Women are particularly useful here.

The patriarchy uses the experience of women to inform their opinions too. If you've been the othered woman you will be in defence of the bothered woman, because you were manipulated, hurt and usually left, by another straight man with an uncontrollable penis.

He will have told you so many awful, unforgivable things about his wife and yet he returns to her so often.

She is a manipulative monster who is awful to their children and will use them as a weapon, isn't she.
She is a frigid she devil who refuses to have sex with him, doesn't she.
She is just there to bask in his reflected glory and won't even work because she's too lazy, isn't she.
He would be with you but he's just a decent person and can't leave her because she'd have a breakdown, wouldn't she.

No.

He's a liar.

Anything he says about her to you will be mirrored , in what he will say about you, to her when it eventually comes out. It will be awful, it will be lies and it will bear no relationship to you as a person. He's very good at that.

You need to apply critical thinking to his justifications and consider that marital affairs almost always begin and end with his mouth and your brain.

Remember too, that even if he does leave her your future will carry the shadow of the circumstances in which your relationship started. If he did it with you, he'll do it to you.

Perhaps you don't care. Perhaps you're married too and have no interest in forming a relationship with him in anyway other than sex. Perhaps you're single and have no interest in relationships at all.

There are ways of achieving that without causing devastation to other women. There is nothing remotely feminist about intentionally hurting another woman, even a woman you don't know, because her husband is manipulating you into believing she's a monster who doesn't deserve him. No woman deserves to be punished for an opinion spouted by a man who is deliberately hurting her for his own gratification. Whether she knows or not, the damage to his primary relationship is marked by the efforts he makes to cover up his deception. He could be using that time and energy to get counselling to address his problems.

If you choose someone who you know is already in a committed relationship, you need to ask yourself what your primary driver is for doing so. Because the net result when a straight married man has an affair,  is that a woman always gets hurt by the betrayal, that's a known, known.

Now betrayed wives of the world listen up.

IT'S.
NOT.
HER.
FAULT.

It's not.

You're not married to her, he lied to her too.
He lied about you to her.
He's lying about her to you when you find out.
He's lying about the sex with both of you, to both of you.

If you enter into the torture chamber of "she is better than me" you're lying to yourself.

It's not a competition, it's not a statement about you, unless she held a gun to his head.
Which, let's face it, is more erection defying than Nigel Farage's face on a condom wrapper.

SHE DIDN'T MAKE HIM DO IT.

YOU DIDN'T MAKE HIM DO IT.

HE CHOSE TO DO IT AND TO BLAME YOU BOTH FOR DOING IT.

It's not her, it's not you, it's him.

Don't play his game. Don't believe the lies. You are both his victims.

The worst case scenario is that you fail to recognise where the blame lies.

From women "with the good hair", to "three of us in this marriage", from "violet eyed co-stars" to Anne Boleyn, there is one constant throughout the millennia : men are very protective of their penis and they don't put it anywhere by mistake.

Research shows that the vast majority of men who seek sex outside the marriage do so with women who are significantly less physically attractive than their wives. But sex outside of primary relationships is reliant and driven by fantasy, opportunity and proximity. It's not for nothing that the coincidence of women in the workplace and the rise in the demographics of affairs, combined.

Reality often dawns only with the devastation. When you let the light in on any daydream it kills it as dead as a stove top boiled rabbit.

Remember to that it's about his ego. In defending himself about his behaviour you're anger at the bothered woman will be feeding this. "They're fighting over me now, because I'm so special"

It's a choice and you may feel at your most powerless, angry, devastated and blindsided but you have a choice too. You can decide to place the blame where it (or more accurately, he) lies.

On the patriarchal excuse meter the "lamb to slaughter" myth of the scheming female, is an important myth to remember. Problems in marriages exist everywhere. Having sex with someone else, isn't the way to fix it and it isn't the choice of every man (or woman)

If you decide to stay and embark on counselling be very very careful who you choose to drag all this up with. Another rule of the patriarchy is the counselling myth that there is blame within the marriage  (AKA the wife) whereby his penis is forced to run wild and free "because sad".

Yes there are reasons for marital problems, but a poorly managed zip reflex is the one to concentrate on first.

Addressing marital unhappiness with the person you're married to is what adult humans do.

Entering into secret "sex therapy" with a third party because you're unhappy, is just another justification for a shag. Allowing that myth to take up residence creates a reason to dodge censure.

Betrayal should receive censure because it allows for the focus to create introspection and self-awareness. Otherwise as we've seen in recent weeks, it just happens again and again and again.

Whether in the broadsheets, tabloids, online, or anywhere else where the public discourse is shaped and moulded we need to make space for women without judging, labelling and ultimately branding them for the choices men make.

More than anything else, we need to stop polarising the stories of our lives and the lives of others in the binary terms of "Her versus Her."

Here endeth the lesson.



















Sunday, 29 April 2018

Tweet for Disabled People, my two day Twitter storm.




Clive Lewis MP was the first to respond

On Thursday I got an email from a carer who had reapplied for her profoundly disabled son's Blue Badge discovered that under the new rules he no longer qualified. He had had the badge since 2004.

This woman was understandable devastated. She explained how precious this Badge was for her son's safety in accessing public spaces and how the loss of it would turn him into a prisoner in his own home.
She had no idea how she was going to cope. She had seen my Blue Badge Campaign blog on Brent Council's website. The only council, including my own, who had posted the campaign and petition.

I asked her if she had contacted her MP. She said she didn't know who her MP was.

After helping her to identify her MP, I realised that for many people caught up in the day to day business of being disabled in the UK today, or consumed with caring for those they love with disabilities, politics is the last issue on their list.

Yet politics is vital in shaping the lives we lead. I wondered what the issues are that MP's are contacted over and also wondered if disabled people and carers know that MP's do place their needs on the agenda.

So I set myself a task. I decided to contact every MP on twitter and ask them to tweet about the issues which disabled constituents and carers, bring to their MP's for help with. I used the fact that the local elections are imminent and this seemed to some to be a confusing platform.

I was very pleased with the responses, from Labour, Lib Dems and Tory MP's and from disabled people, carers and activists using the hashtag as a place to tweet about disability issues.

I hope I managed to thank all the MP's who contributed because I'm very grateful that they did.

In the end I tweeted 505 MP's over a two day period.

I needed help to tweet my own MP, Daniel Kawczynski, as he blocked me when I asked him to go and watch 'I Daniel Blake". I have no idea if he tweeted at all.

I was particularly delighted to see people contacting their MP's and arranging to meet with them for help.

As yet no party leader has tweeted their constituents concerns.
38 Labour MP's replied
12 Tory MP's replied
4 LibDem MP's replied
No Cabinet Ministers replied
3 Shadow Cabinet ministers replied - Both Debbie Abrahams And Andrew Gwynne tweeted and Dawn Butler said she was going to tweet.

I was surprised not to see a tweet from Caroline Lucas who is both party leader and the only Green Party MP. I think she might have missed it.

There were hundreds of responses from disabled people and for a while #TweetForDisabledPeople was trending.

There are 13,000,000 disabled people in the UK.

I feel the campaign was an opportunity to show disabled people aren't completely forgotten by all the people who decide the policy which shapes so many lives. I'm incredibly grateful to all MP's who engaged with the campaign. My life as an autistic woman has been shaped by policy. The lives of my two children who are autistic and Emily who is learning disabled are affected everyday by the policies made in the House of Commons.

Whether its issues around health, education, disability benefits or a Blue Parking Badge, its vital that our politicians understand the difference they make. x












































Thursday, 8 February 2018

It's the economy stupid.





My understanding of disability benefits, their role and purpose is that they exist to pay for the extra costs incurred by being disabled.

In that way I differ from my local Council who, it seems, believe that they exist to fund the costs of care. I might be wrong but it’s certainly how it feels today.

My daughter Emily lives alone except for a 24-hour care package of 3-1 carers.

She was until the late Summer of 2017 fully funded by the NHS. Then we all had a meeting and they felt that Emily shouldn’t be funded by them anymore.

She was funded by them, at school and into her own home. They fund her care package.

The care package and the care provider haven’t changed.

The house she lives in with the 24 hour care package hasn’t changed.

Emily’s health needs haven’t changed.

The only thing that has changed in the 19 months in which the NHS have funded my daughter, appears to be their minds.

Eligibility criteria is apparently subjective.

So following the meeting, we had to wait for the decision. The decision was a no. Emily met the criteria for a yes but as I say it was a no. Emily’s social worker agreed it was a yes, but it was still a no.

There was then another meeting. This time it was between the social worker and the NHS assessor. They disagreed.

It was then elevated to senior managers from the Councl and the CCG. In a meeting on their own. They decided it was a no and that the Council and CCG would share funding. The split “to be decided”

Whilst all of this was going on, the Council financial assessors became involved. In September 2017 they decided that Emily was on the wrong level of benefit.

Emily currently receives £734 per month.

That’s £183 per week.

The financial assessors decided that Emily should receive £329 per week and with that in mind they sent me a form to means test Emily as by their estimation Emily should be contributing £138 per week to the costs of her care.

This is because the Council now jointly funds her care with the CCG. It’s not free anymore.

I contacted the DWP as that’s what I was told to do. They said they would review Emily’s case.

This was all before Christmas and as these things take a while, I was waiting. I’d also asked for a review of Emily’s continuing healthcare funding. I thought that as the CCG and Council were in partnership this would be communicated.

It wasn’t.

There are several other wrangles ongoing during this time but I can’t write about any of them due to a COP injunction. But I can write about this as it isn’t.

On Tuesday I opened a letter addressed to Emily via me. It was an invoice for care that Emily had received from 8th November 2017 until 31st December 2017.

Now that date is significant because that’s the date the financial assessment spoke to the benefits assessor who told them what they felt Emily should be on benefits wise. Not what she was on but what she should be on and now this is the golden rule.

She’s not getting that and wasn’t then, but they have that figure from that date and so that’s set in stone.

The amount they want back from Emily is £1109. As I hadn’t returned the means testing form, because I was appealing the decision and had told the financial assessor this, she just triggered the demand notice.

So now we’re up to today.

Today I got an email from the financial assessor at the council.

She has taken it upon herself to speak to the DWP. Yes that’s right the DWP about Emily. She must have had an interesting time because in her email to me afterwards she refers to Emily as Nicola. Twice.

According to her the DWP have not had notification from me of many things. They have, I spoke to them in November but she probably just did another estimate. She mentioned again the uplift in disability benefits, the fact that they wouldn't ask for the money until she receives the uplift in benefits and she kindly said that when Emily gets her increase they may back date the care costs.

So one thing jumps out at me straight away. I gave birth to Emily 21 years ago. I know that because I was there and because I have witnesses and yet to talk to the DWP even on the phone, I had to be certified as an appointee. I had to be visited at my own home by a member of staff from the DWP with proof of who I was before I could discuss anything. It turns out I should just have got a job at the Council.

So my point is this what the hell are the Council playing at. I know times are tough because I’ve protested most of the cuts locally but increasing my daughter’s benefits to recoup money seems very low to me. In fact if I did that, I’d be prosecuted for financial abuse.

The uplift in benefits are because Emily is disabled not because the NHS won’t fund her anymore.

This uplift if awarded and it won’t be because under the new DWP rules if you can walk you’re not that disabled, will amount to £329 pw

Emily is currently receiving £183 pw

But don’t forget the Council have estimated and they’re never wrong.

So let’s pretend she receives £329 pw

Ok take away the Council’s care costs £138pw

So now Emily (still not disabled on purpose) has £201pw

The difference to Emily in real terms will be £18 pw.

The difference to Emily over a year will be £936.

BUT the difference to the Council over a year will be £7,176 of Emily’s disability benefits.

So I have an estimate too. 2395 people clamed Employment and Support Allowance in Shrewsbury in 2017. I don’t know how many of them claimed PIP at the higher rate but let’s estimate that it’s all of them.


If that’s the case and the Council has sent them a bill for £138 pw that’s a potential income generation of £17,636,504  directly from disabled people’s pockets.

I'm sure it isn't though. As I say it's an estimate and no-one ever bases anything, on those. Or we could call it what it is a Disability Tax that should never have to be paid.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

"Life unworthy of living"






Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and the theme is ‘The Power of Words’ so I wanted to write about some powerful words, which don’t mean a great deal to many people in respect of the Jewish Holocaust, as it’s an aspect, which remains a hidden story.

The words are the T4 Euthanasia Programme and the name Gerhardt Kretschmar.

This baby boy had the misfortune to be born learning disabled, blind and with malformed limbs, to Nazi parents who were horrified that he was in their opinion “defective”.

So at the age of only 5 months this baby’s own parents sent a letter to Hitler. After he gave his permission, Gerhardt was murdered by poisoning and this act heralded the implementation of Hitler’s vision, the wide scale murder of disabled children and adults.

Dr Karl Brandt, whose crimes against disabled people came to light, during his trial at Nuremberg for the murder of Russian and Polish prisoners, administered a drug to Gerhardt and after 5 days he died.

Gerhardt Kretschmar was referred to by the doctor, as a “creature”.

After Gerhardt’s death was verified by several Nazi doctors, the institutionalized murder of disabled children was rolled out across Germany and expanded into Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland at clinics and hospitals.
Poison was often used but another common method of murder was starvation.

Parents who fought the removal of their learning disabled or physically disabled children were told that they need not worry and that their children were being taken away for treatment.

After their children were murdered, the parents would receive a letter telling them their children had died from natural causes and that their bodies had been burned in order to prevent infection.

In truth their children’s bodies were thrown into mass graves and forgotten.

For disabled adults in Germany voluntary sterilizations had been an option since 1932 however in 1933 enforced sterilizations of disabled adults began. The idea was that inherited conditions diluted the pure blood of the Aryan race.
The definition of disability also included alcoholism.




In schools, in newspapers and in cinemas German people were indoctrinated against any resistance with adverts, which detailed disabled people as “useless eaters” or in hospitals the forerunner to the phrase ‘bed blockers’ who were utilizing precious resources like food and preventing these resources reaching “hardworking” Germans.

Disabled people were described as unproductive and “taking the bread from the mouths of decent Germans”

In August 1939 midwives and doctors were instructed to notify the “General Foundation for Welfare and Institutionalized Care” of the birth of any “defective children”.

This government department was based on Tiergartenstrasse 4, in Berlin.

This address would become the codename for institutionalized murder of disabled people. In this building Doctors would read the reports and mark the children for death if they failed to reach the sufficient point score of their imagined master race.

As the killings continued a new more effective method was introduced. Vans began arriving at hospitals and clinics and the disabled patients were told to gather, remove their clothes and take a shower.
Then Zyklon B gas was pumped into the sealed shower room through the vents from the vans with their engines running outside.

This was the first known use of the industrial scale murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children in the Nazi death camps of the second world war.

In total it’s estimated that 300,000 disabled people were murdered under the T4 Euthanasia Programme. 8000 of whom were disabled children. The enforced sterilizations are believed to have been performed on 340,000 adults.




I believe that all of us would do well to remember this hidden story of the Jewish holocaust.

When we see our democratically elected politicians, mock a physically disabled journalist, reference sterilizing unemployed people, blame the elderly for the NHS crisis, impose fitness to work programs on severely ill and disabled people, sanction them into starvation or suggest that food banks are a good thing; we should know that this has all been done before.

I believe that it’s easy to forget how notions such as these take hold and turn ordinary people into enablers of fascist doctrine. There is a notion that it couldn't happen again now but it didn't begin with concentration camps it began with slowly eroding our natural maternal and paternal attitudes to vulnerability and disability, with propaganda that permeates all of society.

It is terrifying and sobering to remember how easily we can all be manipulated to hate and “other” our friends and family and neighbours; only because it’s politically expedient to do so.


So I’m relaying this dark truth here, because the power of words are our collective weapon.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Labour of Love.





With two days to go before the hustings to choose our CLP's parliamentary candidate, I wanted to write some words about what standing for selection for parliament means to me.

As a campaigner and as a parent carer I decided to put my name forward because it's a natural extension to me of all the campaigning I've been doing locally and nationally for years.

At a time when women's voices aren't being ignored any more and at a time when I'm supposed to accept invisibility as a natural stage of life and at a time when the Tories are driving our communities, counties and country into the ground, I couldn't choose inaction over action. When the all women application process opened, I knew I had to try.

So I have.

My followers on Twitter and my lovely friends and family know I'm a Labour party supporter and activist through and through and their support has meant the world to me. 

I want to fight for my home town just as I've fought for my family all these years. The last eight years of the cruelest Tory austerity have made the lives of those I love even harder.

I made a campaign film which details the work I've done and the reasons why here

So I stood up and on Saturday at the CLP hustings, I'll literally be counted.

Whoever is chosen here in Shrewsbury and Atcham, I'll be campaigning for them like always.

I have two endorsements I want to share with you. I love these two women so much. They are both passionate champions of social justice and the finest of Labour Women.

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and Shadow Home Secretary, is endorsing me. Diane said:
“I have known Nicky for years. She is an amazing campaigner. She has an enormous amount to give. Her warmth, human empathy and energy would make her an excellent constituency MP.
And she is a strong supporter of the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn”

Jess Phillips MP for Birmingham Yardley and Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, is endorsing me. Jess said:
“Nicky never stops fighting injustice, it’s how I got to know of her. At a time when the country and our most marginalized, need people to stick up for them with fire in their bellies; I can’t think of anyone I’d want on my side advocating for me, or my hometown, more than Nicky”