A New Year call to arms

I hope you all had a fantastic festive season, and a humdinger of a new year. I know I’ve only just about recovered from the NYE partying. Of course that is more a sign of increasing old age than a good time nowadays.

While I was almost comatose on the sofa over the New Year weekend, my wife really got into watching the repeat (not re-run) of the series Downtown Abbey. Even though just the thought of the show cut me to the core, as a rabid socialist, I did find myself sucked in. Damn you Julian Fellowes! At certain points I did find myself shouting “Kill them all in their sleep!” at the screen, as my revolutionary zeal grew watching the privileged ruling class complain at their tiny problems, but for most of the show I let the fictionalised frolics do their job. Nice easy recovery TV, that spanned a three day recovery. However at the end of the series the First World War is announced, and I found myself shedding a tear. Not for the fictional TV people, but for the total waste of life that all viewers knew was coming. Especially as that war was really caused by an argument about who should have the most boats between two of Queen Victoria’s offspring, yet it would be the people at the bottom that paid the price. The horror of that war, and the scars it caused led eventually to the Second World war, where even more lives were lost. I fully admit that WW2 was a valid war, to put a stop to the evil of Nazism, it is sad to think that while both world wars were hailed as wars to end all wars there has been a war going on somewhere in the world ever since VJ day.

Don’t get me wrong. Yes I do believe that war is wrong and they could all be avoided if those who ruled over us talked, but I also truly support all of the troops who fight wars. They are expected to do and see things that the rest of us can’t even begin to imagine. I myself have worked with soldiers on and off ever since the first gulf war, especially those who returned disabled. I have always been amazed at their resilience and strength. This is what this blog is really about. As we enter 2011, we know that this year the government’s cuts will begin to bite, and there are battles ahead around how disabled people are to be supported. I am getting involved in working with the government to try to ensure that some the extreme ideas they have put forward are reconsidered and that eventually we end up with proposals that do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.

I wanted to put out a call to arms to any soldiers that have returned with a disability to join the battle. You more than anyone, deserve to be secure in your new life and these entitlements that disabled people have spent years fighting for should be there for you all too. I understand that early on in the readjustment to a new disability, most people want to fight to be as “normal” as possible. Sometimes receiving benefits can make a person feel less than normal. These benefits are there to make sure that disabled people can lead normal lives. One day our fight for equality will pay off and we won’t need these benefits, but we are a hell of a long way off yet. Just go down any high street to see inaccessible buildings, or try to use public transport, or get a job, or… the list goes on. Of course we want equality, but while we work towards that we do need support.

Now I don’t want to go mad on the histrionics, but I have always found disabled soldiers to be the kind of people the disabled movement needs, and as we go into a year where that movement may need to be very proactive, you guys will be essential to ensuring we don’t loose out. If anyone reading this does want to get involved contact a local campaigning group for details of how.

My next blog will give details of what is being proposed and where to go for more info.

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