'Harriet' 1. Ed Miliband 0 Q&A at #Lab11

9/30/2011 08:51:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 20 Comments

Kaliya: My name’s Kaliya and my question is – that evidence has overwhelmingly pointed to sick and disabled people being the hardest hit by the cuts. But this issue has been airbrushed almost entirely from the conference. Are you reluctant to use the word “disabled” because the public have been so effectively convinced that we’re all scroungers and that the Labour Party are not willing to challenge that stereotype on our behalf.


Ed Miliband: Ok [drowned out by ongoing applause], a really good question. Let me deal with that friend who asked about disability and ill health, because it’s an important – “Harriet” – because it’s an important…

K: It’s Kaliya.

EM: Sorry?

K: It’s Kaliya.

EM: I’m sorry. Look – look, look, "disability", I'm absolutely not afraid to use the word disability and I'm determined to say that disabled people need support and help and compassion and that’s why I want to protect the welfare state. And you've got to separate out ill health and disability from worklessness and the decision not to work.

EM: And I know about the concerns about the tests that are being done by Atos Origin. I know about those concerns – it’s something Liam Byrne and I have talked about and it's not that I'm trying to sweep it under the carpet. At the same time, Harriet, I have to say to you, and it's the people from my own constituency in Doncaster North, who've made this clear to me more loudly and clearly than any other... than anyone else. They say: “Look, unless you address the issue of people who could work but don't” - I'm not talking about disabled people...

K: [hard to hear as no mic] We’re not quibbling with that, we want sick and disabled people to be able to be supported into work.

EM: So what you’re saying, and you’re right,

K: [hard to hear as no mic] We’re challenging the scrounger rhetoric which you yourself added to when you gave the example of having met a man on Incapacity Benefit who you said could work if he just tried harder. You’re reinforcing the destructive rhetoric that is coming from the coalition government…

EM: Yeah...

K: …at a time when sick and disabled people desperately need a champion to stand up for us [big applause] and had you been putting out the message that you've just given here about separating out sickness and disability from employment, we'd have been cheering you months ago.

[very loud applause]

EM:  I know Harriet, but let me ... ok, that's important, what you just said, but let me pick you up on this point about the chap I met - I don't want to particularly go into the detail, but look, let me just be honest with you, because it was a door I knocked on and I have to give you my impression, which is that he was somebody who had lost his job, I think ten years ago, right? And I'm not questioning the fact that he was genuinely, had an ailment - I'm not gonna go into the details of that. But I just have to say to you that the system didn't sort of demand that he go back to work; the system sort of wrote him off…

K: [unheard as no mic] But the system isn't working for anyone

EM: And the system sort of said "Well, look, he was - he was, he had incapacity - er - he couldn't work for a bit” and that's it. And the problem is, I met his next-door neighbours and I genuinely… and this is the story - I met his next-door neighbours and they didn't actually refer to him, but they said "Look, our problem is, we're working incredibly hard and we're already paying for people who can't work”, so I mean…

EM: Look, I - I - I take your point that I didn't say in the speech yesterday - and I should have said it, fair point - that you've got to defend people who are with disability, ill health, er, and say they shouldn't be under attack. [applause] But.. but.. but let me say... just let me say to you - and I do say that often – but let me say this to you, that I don't think, I genuinely don't think - that talking, that saying you're tough on abuse of the benefit system is a non-Labour thing to do. I think it is fundamentally a Labour thing to do.

K: [hard to hear as no mic] But when fraud rates for Disability Living Allowance are, the DWP’s own fraud rates are less than 1%...

EM: Ok. Well, look, Harriet, I'll make you this promise that after this, I promise you we'll have a longer discussion. I want to get more people in.

Huge thanks go to Suzy Jones Consultancy, TidKid and Louise Bolotin for all their hard work in providing a transcript. Once again, grassroots disability rights campaigners show how effective we can be with no funding or resources just by working as a community. 


Jan said...

Kaliya, you rock! That was fabulous! Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Bravo 'Harriet'!

Sabina xx

Bad news Bendy, you shall be Harriet evermore. LOL. Well done, though.

Joyce said...

You were fabulous! What a heroine! Please go gently with yourself now. Just seen Ed's tweet to you to say he will be (genuinely!)in touch. There are so many eyes on his response now, thanks to your bravery. Thank you! -Joyce aka @Cardedfolderol

Vic said...

Yup - you so rock! :-) Thanks so much. Will also keep an eye out for Ed being in contact.

The Goldfish said...

So will "Harriet" now become your disablism-fighting accidentally-anonymous alter-ego, like "V" from V for Vendetta? So when you find a badly maintained disabled loo or a non-badged car in a disabled space, you can leave a cutting note (or maybe scrawl your message in lipstick on windows and mirrors), signing off, "Lots of love, Harriet." Or we all could do it and Harriet would become legendary, like a more socially constructive version of Anonymous. And it'd be in the news, "Who is this Harriet who appears to be an omnipresent force against disablism?" And then late at night, politicians would start having nightmares about just who and how powerful Harriet might be and whether she was coming to get them...

Sorry, I appear to be getting carried away.

Anonymous said...

You were brilliant as ever. No words can express how truly grateful I am and many others I'm sure, to you for the amazing work you're doing on our behalf, especially knowing how exhuasting it is for you. Don't let Miliband off the hook, he needs to be told over and over again how badly he's letting us down. Thank you Kaliya.
from jollylips

chocolatewig said...

I Applauded Kaliya all on my own sat watching..I was just so deflated as mentioned above, to see such little coverage from the media. And on question time last night giving so little to something that affects so many.

My personal experiences have opened my eyes to what a two tier society we live in..(at least) .. Those who live their lives going to work to pay the mortgage and pay the bills and pay for insurances that will cover them for this that and tother, peace in the knowledge its gonna be ok..
Never thinking deep enough about another society who struggle every day, after all when its not happened to you or your close ones you dont know anymore than the media portray.. and for me I became an adult in the 80s so say no more!

(In 2002 I was diagnosed with MS)
Then nearly 3 yrs ago It happened to me..and omg..what a different world it is down here..No matter how loud I shout (metaphorically) Only the ones who have compassion seem to hear..compassion is not very popular amongst the 'can doers' ive noticed. Especially within local government.
So after one hell of a journey, a suicide attempt, and a constant reminder to myself that I do have a purpose in this society and life will be ok, surely,? I am settled, nothing is amazing, it never will be because i kinda know my fate.. that thing that I thought other people got happened.. and despite me arming myself against it I was let down.

Now I dont have a voice I am feeling completely lost. But on Wednesday Kayila was my voice.. and thanks to twitter so have many others now have a voice. 
Im going to fight this until I see some compassion coming from the government, I dont care which government.. It needs to happen right now before anyone else gets hurt.

I just cannot understand amongst many many wrongs, how Atos are paid a fortune to weed out the undeserving when surely every single disabled person has a GP.  Who by their very nature are trusted members of society? and a specialist who is specialised?? why is this not enough proof? It is blatant bullying to assume we are all liars and cheats.

I now live in social housing and can assure the misinformed that about 98% do actually work. 1.5% do have children who are disabled or are disabled themselves.. And the other .5% we all would 'rat out' in a millisecond!

Sorry if a simple thankyou to all who are fighting our rights turned into a little explosion of nonsensical blurb..
Ive never ever had to explain myself before, but now I need to..because I want to be counted.
PS im now in social housing, on DLA, INCAP HB and CTC and IS as im a single mum of a 16 yr old so I am afraid.. very afraid.
And now CABs are shutting and LegalAid stopping which are the two things that helped me and are the very places we need to get what we need, effectively shutting us out further.

Casdok said...

Yay :) x

Anonymous said...

@The Goldfish -

Loving that idea! Harriet woz here
: )

Someone design a Tag!!

Anonymous said...

Kaliya, Bendy, BSS, Harriet...

just who do you think you are?!!

: ) xxxxx well done!!!

ians12 said...

Well done indeed, but no thanks to the BBC who cut the broadcast in preference to the Jackson's MD trial.

DavidG said...


But if he can't listen enough to get your name right, is it any surprise that he doesn't hear anything else of what he's been told, that he still thinks he and everyone else can magically declare someone fit for work (shades of ATOS!) and abuse them for it?

The truly disturbing thing is that he's using exactly the same rhetoric used by Mark Reckless for the Conservatives to deny that people where being unreasonable when I was interviewed by BBC about disability hate crime and made the point that DWP/media propaganda was driving most of it.

Anonymous said...

Oh frig,

Kaliya. When I saw you speaking and heard those words. It's been years now and I never thought I would actually hear one of us telling them what they are doing to us.

I thought I was dreaming actually. It was surreal to see someone speaking my own thoughts and feelings at the very headstone of power and see how it responded. The silence has indeed been deafening.

From the heart. I can tell you that his responses chilled my heart and soul. When he mentioned Liam Byrne - I knew where he was going. There is no one new labour more than Liam and so by default I assume Ed is too.

Rather than reassuring me. I'm more disturbed by his cacophony of "buts". How so many of us are familiar with that "but". As if we haven't tried hard enough or long enough and just have to be strong like they are.

Oh dear. Live in hope eh.....

You did good.


Sharon said...

Really well done, you made some excellent points that too many people there will be unaware of.

depressed aspie scrounger said...

Funny how he stopped it dead when you started bringing up the statistical facts...

These welfare changes and the ATOS thing were brought in under Labour, so he couldn't have you pointing out how stupid they are.

And why did he call you Harriet? Bizarre...

Bravo Harriet I know it's kaliyah but when in rome.

I am so glad you called him on it. Im so glad you started hurling statistics at him, at times i felt genuinely sorry for the guy. He never knew what hit him.

How about this netizens Harriet for Prime Minister. Never seen such an articulate ball of fire

Anonymous said...

I think that 90 percent of the people who say they cant work for some reson or another. have it to easy and thats y they dont want to work. lazy scrounging scum sums it up vey well. theres a job 4 evey 1 if they want it and look hard. we dont work because we want to its because we have to, to pay r way in life not just holding r hands out. ppeople like me have to work hard. and see people who dont work with a better life style. far from just. far from just!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

None said...

Anon 2:38 - Govt's own figures have 400,000 vacancies and 2.5 million jobseekers. Er, you might want to reconsider your 'job for everyone if they want to'.

Also, the system is there to support YOU when you get sick (and you will at some point in time). Have fun being spat at in the street and harrassed out of your home for being ill, and therefore a 'lazy scrounging scum'. Or do you think you're somehow above, better then becoming ill? Or you'll be treated differently because you worked all your life?

Better lifestyle? Watch Kaliya's video of her struggling to walk in an earlier blog post on here, and then tell me how much better, more luxurious and fun her lifestyle is. Ask someone who's just had their care cut, who's now left overnight to lie in soiled incontinence pad, how much of a brilliant time they're having. Or are they the 'deserving sick' in your eyes and 'I didn't mean them'? Yeah, well you did.

You are well. You have the opportunity to work, to walk, to run, to earn more, to spend more, to travel, to dress yourself, to cook your own food. How about you try being bloody grateful for what you have, instead of hating those who have to struggle every day with illness, simply because they are offered a tiny shred of support.

chocolatewig said...

I am so angry at the ignorant, ill informed. Uneducated stupid comment from Anonymous above..
Honestly your intelligence completely belies your rant. 
After a full stop you put a capital letter.  At the very least? 

I and many others who are I'll worked very hard before illness took over, It happens and judging by your comment age I suspect you are young enough to think you will remain healthy for life? 
And by the way Lazy scrounging scum is wrong. It is Benefit Scrounging Scum!   An ironic term. 
Now I suggest you go look up the word 'insight' and see if you can teach yourself it because one day you may end up with a disease that will not allow you to work and if people like you get your way now then you my friend will end up in the sewer begging for food..
We are all human beings and as such suffer too. I know in the 20 years I worked  (10yrs of 16 hr days 6days a week) I never ever begrudged my taxes going to people the NHS and DWP ..!!!!!!!!!