Disabled activists held up London traffic as they staged a
‘crawl to Parliament’ protest on Monday,
writes Gideon Burrows.
Around 50 protesters crawled, walked or rode wheelchairs around
Parliament Square in response to government plans to introduce
regular ‘MoTs’ for incapacity benefit claimants.
Tom Comerford and Claire Lewis from the Disability Action
Network (DAN) were arrested after daubing Parliament gates with
fake blood. Others, who had chained themselves to the gates, had to
be cut away by police.
Sam Brackenbury, from DAN in Birmingham, said: “I’ve got
an impairment I was born with. It’s not going to get any
better. Why do we have to be called in every three years?”
David Heath, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on work, said
disabled people had not been listened to on the issue, and the
government was acting like a bully.
“When the helping hand is a bully’s fist, we will oppose
it,” he said.
Bert Massie, chairperson of the Disability Rights Commission,
said later that the way the incapacity benefit checks announcement
had been handled by the government had caused unnecessary anxiety
among current claimants who thought they would loose money.
He said the debate over checks missed the wider issue of whether
disabled people are employable or not.
“As a society, we are not providing the health and social care
that disabled people need to stay in work,” he said.