The changes announced by George Osborne in Wednesday's comprehensive spending review have so far caused a shockwave of terror through the approximately 10 million people who have disabilities living in Great Britain. We're a small country; there's approximately 60 million of us live here, so disabled people make up roughly 1/6th of the population. Some of those are over 65, most are under 65 and of working age. We have the best part of a million disabled children living in the country. But of those 10 million people we only have 2.9 [million] in receipt of Disability Living Allowance which is a non means-tested benefit paid to, not compensate, but a way of saying that we understand as a country that there are phenomenal extra costs involved in living with a disability and we recognise that a role of our society is to provide for those additional costs. People are scared. I have received many messages of support since the video I made. Messages from people telling me that I'm brave to speak out publicly. There's nothing brave about what I'm doing. My story is the same as millions of people's stories. My life was fairly normal, I come from a very middle-class area, my parents are still married. I worked hard at school. I went to a Grammar school, and I went to University and I studied Law. None of those factors prevented me from becoming a disabled person and none of them were enough to help me get a job. Only 50% of disabled adults are in work, unlike 80% of the general population. There are many reasons why we're not in work - ranging from those whose disabilities are so severe that work will never be possible for them, to those whose disabilities are very minor and with the right support they could and should be encouraged into the workplace. The problem is it all requires support and it all requires money and really that's what these changes and announcements are about. I've always been proud to be British. It's a country with values that I believe in. On my mother's side of the family, they were Jews fleeing persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. Those who remained behind in Germany were all wiped out during the Second World War. What many people don't know is that before, long before, the Nazis started exterminating Jewish people, they went for the most vulnerable people of society; those with disabilities. They were marked out by a black triangle. Advertising was widespread, telling the German people exactly how much each dependant person cost them. It was a well-thought-out campaign to devalue the lives of disabled people and ensure that there would be less complaints. Now I'm not suggesting the Conservative government are Nazis, I'm not suggesting any politician is. What I am suggesting is that as a world, we have learnt lessons from that war; lessons that we wish never to be repeated. Travelling down a path in which all the value of a person's life is considered to be solely on their economic contribution is wrong. It's fundamentally and morally wrong. It's also bad for our society; voluntary work holds us together. People being at home during the day, using shops and services, builds communities, and those communities are what holds us together. Actually, that's pretty much what David Cameron keeps going on about in his Big Society. But what he's forgotten, is that projects like that cost money. They're very rarely profitable for the private sector, so the State picks up the slack. People disagree on how much a role the state should play. But really, party politics is not relevant to this argument, nor should it be. As disabled people, we have no representation. The coalition government have made it quite clear that they intend an all-out attack on the Welfare State. Whilst reform is welcome, these are cuts. Cuts with only one agenda, to reduce the level of welfare paid. Now in some cases that's admirable. In others it's shocking and despicable, such as removing the High-Rate Mobility Allowance from adults resident in care homes. But really it sends a wider message; a wider message against a background of rising Disability Hate Crime. Of people torturing disabled people, given sentences of 18 hours community service and a slap on the wrist, or families who are already so desperate that mothers commit suicide after murdering their children, because they feel it's the only way they have to protect them. I did believe, on a personal level, that David Cameron valued the lives of disabled people. I was furiously angry with Gordon Brown, who is also the father of a disabled child, for the betrayal he made to disabled people. Danny Alexander has been wheeled out a lot on television lately to defend the coalition's spending cuts. This is the same Danny Alexander who, while in opposition, was the one main champion for disabled people falling victim to the Work Capability Assessment of the Employment Support Allowance. Danny Alexander railed against that. Now he stands there and defends cuts far more savage and damaging than those which he previously protested. It's very clear that help for us will not come from the main political parties. We have to form together and stand up for ourselves even though many of us can't actually stand. We still have to do this. Civil change, in some countries like France, happens with rioting. In Britain we're more reserved than that. We're very big on the stiff upper lip, and everything being cured by a cup of tea. But we do have one way to effectively protest. We can speak out. We can tell our stories, publicly. There are 10 million of us, that's a lot of stories to be told. It is impossible to ignore 1/6th of the population but it's very easy to ignore one individual. I urge you to do the same as I am. Write your story, record it, put it on the internet. We can collate them. We can present them together. We can fight these changes. They are, after all, only proposed cuts in a spending review. They have yet to be got through parliament. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to be opposed by Labour. The new Labour leader, Ed Milliband, has already committed himself, in parliament, to supporting and working with the government on their cuts to Disability Living Allowance. Angela Eagle also backed up the cuts to change the gateway to Disability Living Allowance on Newsnight this week. They will not defend us. We have to do that for ourselves. And those of us who can speak are obliged to do so for those who can't. Together, we can make the kind of changes that start with a woman sitting in a front of a bus. Quietly, and carefully, Rosa Parks got up and sat at the front of the bus. As a black woman, in America, at a time when black people were not considered to have rights. She changed the world. Others stood with her, alongside her, and spoke up about the injustice of judging one group of people as less worthy than another. We've moved on as a world. Generally speaking we recognise that people of colour, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what colour your skin is, it doesn't make you of intrinsically less value than somebody else. We understand that about sexuality. Religion is more complicated but most of us recognise that everybody has a right to believe whatever they wish to. All those things are protected within law. Disability, however, does not have the same legal protection when it comes to crimes based upon it. There are no specific laws to protect disabled people against hate crimes in the way that there are if hate crimes occur because of religion, race or sexuality. We have to change this. We have to come forward and we have to tell our stories to change things to a world that we want to be part of. I'm ashamed to be a Britain, who lives in a country where we think it's ok to torture others. To fight wars against people for reasons that most of us don't understand. They're not the British values of fair play and justice. Values that I suspect Mr Cameron actually believes in. Maybe not as a politician, but certainly on a personal level. The more we tell our stories, the stronger we become. Changing the world may come with a shout but it starts with a whisper. And 10 million whispers, held together, make a very loud collective shout. Soplease, tell your story. Tell us why you're scared, tell us what the
cuts will mean to you. And together, our voices can drown out the cruelty and the callous disregard for the lives of people affected by the cuts. With huge thanks to 'Your Friendly Neighbourhood Grammar Nazi' and 'Crystal' for their hard work providing a transcript.