Dear Mr Miliband by Prue
I am a member of the Labour Party and am incensed by the injustice which is happening as a result of the Coalition government’s welfare reform legislation. Earlier this year I came to Grays where I heard you speak passionately about solidarity and compassion. It is time for the Labour Party to be more visible and to demonstrate for real that solidarity and compassion are seriously at the heart of Labour Party policy. We hear so much from the current government and the media about benefit fraudsters and scroungers with the implication being that anyone on benefits is abusing the system. Most people who are now finding it difficult to access welfare support are, I believe, decent, honest human beings who by life’s misfortune find themselves in desperate need through sickness, disability or unemployment. Sadly, not only are such individuals being demonised by government and the media but some people led by such wilful attempts at creating division and hate are also joining in. They have forgotten the purpose of the welfare state which is to protect people just like them during times of serious need through, sickness, disability and unemployment. People who have forgotten too that we are all from the richest to the poorest a step away from misfortune. The following is an excerpt from the article from the New Statesman taken from this link (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/voices/2012/06/disability-karen-sherlock-sue-marsh)
‘Karen faced all of this as she battled just to survive. Endless pressure, the judgement of society, the fear of destitution, the exhaustion of constant assessments and endless forms. She was one of those who’s ESA was time-limited – and what’s more, it was limited retrospectively, leaving her with just a few months to appeal for long term support. What I want to tell you today is that she was frightened. Terrified in fact. She was terrified of the DWP, almost paralysed by a fear that if she spoke out, they would treat her even more harshly. But she spoke out regardless. She was scared for her future, scared for her family. She had no idea how they would survive when she lost the little support they relied on. Her husband works, cares for a sick wife and they had “done the right thing”. Do you hear me Ian Duncan Smith? David Cameron? Nick Clegg? Ed Miliband? Her family had done the “right thing”, at least in your narrow world of workers and shirkers. Despite her own terror, she tried to tell her country, her peers, her friends – even journalists – what was happening to her and thousands like her, but shocked tuts didn’t save her. Open mouths and disgust didn’t save Karen; they didn’t save my friend. Perhaps no one could have, but those who hold and abuse power could have eased her fear or reassured her that they own words, from the end of her final post on April 29: “We need to be passionate about standing up for our rights, and if we can make enough noise, and get enough people to listen then we can overturn the inhumane changes this parasitic government have made. If nothing else, we do still have hope and our rights on our side.”’
I challenge anyone not to be moved by this article and I challenge you and the Labour Party to start speaking out. Demonising the poor, sick, disabled and unemployed is not worthy of a civilised society and it is time to make ourselves heard. We are at a crossroads and the choices we make now will determine the future. I believed that the Labour party would have the vision to create a fairer society with social justice at its heart and your ‘one nation’ speech demonstrated your verbal commitment. Let those words now become action and a determination to prepare the ground for a fairer society and a Labour Party members can be proud of.