Wright Stuff – Tastic!

I did it! I went on The Wright Stuff! A show I’ve watched since it started way back when almost every day, and I’ve been in it! OK Mik, calm down dear. In fact way back when the show first stated I was in talks to come on, but as  I was very ill with an undiagnosed spinal injury at the time so couldn’t make it. Since then I have watched jealously as different people appeared on the show, but now I am one of those faces who got the chance to air their views on the news of the day!

Mik holding up a Wright Stuff mug with panel members behind him

It went really well and allowed me to explain both my views on many of the issues facing disabled people today but highlight the Scope campaign End The Awkward, which I have written several blogs for and appeared in a couple of short films. More than that, I then proved that disabled people are more than their disability by having opinions on other subjects! Yes, I know.

Mik with the Wright Stuff panelIt was  real honour to appear on the show, especially with the panel of the amazing columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and poet Murray Lachlan-Young, who I worked with oh so long ago on Wham, Bam, Strawberry Jam. Matthew Wright is such a professional, as he was fighting a real pig of a cold, and he was a real joy to work with. Watching him work makes it look easy, but trust me his job is one of the hardest in TV. Live, every day, chatting with the public? All he needs is a load of kids and animals to put the cherry on the tough job cake. Of course I’d love to give it a try, hint hint! (If you ever need a stand, or sit, in Matthew I’m in!)

Mik Scarlet wit Matthew WrightYou can watch the show until Monday on Demand 5 here, with a little taster clip being found here

All I hope now is that they ask me back. Hint, hint… again!

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Who will cry out when they come for you?

Following on from my last blog, it seems that society really is moving towards fascism. Today I watched the Wright Stuff on Channel 5, as I do almost every morning, and sat in horror as they covered the story of a learning disabled woman who is threatened with being sterilized directly after giving birth. I found the story itself horrific, but to then listen to two people, one a parent of a learning disabled child, speak in favour of this practise chilled me to the core. One of the panel had brought up the analogy of the Nazi’s and the parent who rang was very upset by being compared to Hitler. Yet this is exactly what all in favour of this practise are. To use an arbitrary measurement of intelligence to decide who is and isn’t allowed to breed is precisely what the Nazi’s did. This is eugenics to the core. To claim it is for their own good, poor little cripples who can’t cope with being a parent or understand sex does not make it any different. The Nazi’s used this argument too.

So did many countries through out the world at that time. In the USA people of a low IQ were sterilized on a county wide scale. It got so bad that feuding neighbours would denounce each other as simple and this would lead to sterilization. Also people who were considered morally inferior, such as unwed mothers, were sterilized to prevent passing on the moral decrepitude. Many countries in Northern Europe in the early part of the 20th century practised eugenics, and the mainstay of this drive for genetic purity is the sterilization of those deemed to be undesirable to the gene pool. After the 2nd World War fascism and Nazism were denounced as evil. Eugenics was also shown to be incorrect and disproved as a scientific theory. These kinds of practises were considered to be a thing of the past. Yet here we are, less than 100 years later, with a society that is slowly starting to embrace the ideals of eugenics, and so Nazism, again. The disabled are now either worthy of treating like pets and being neutered, or seen as a drain on the hard working tax payer. So we are seen as legitimate targets for treatment that was once seen as unrepeatable.

But were will it stop? Today it is someone with severe learning difficulties, but who will be next? Will it be someone like my wife’s late father, who had epilepsy? That can be passed on to their children, so surely it is only fair to stop epileptics from breeding? What about people like my brother, who is dyslexic? In a modern world were reading is essential to being productive, surely he shouldn’t be allowed to pass his disability on to the next generation? Then we have to consider those people who just aren’t that clever. Many studies show, or can be made to show, that those people who have a low IQ have children who also achieve low academic results. They are not real use to a modern society, so let’s sterilize them. Of course once we get rid of the stupid, the goal posts will move, and what is considered stupid will change. Within a short while anyone without a degree level education will be targeted. Then it will be those under a second, and then those under a first. Then anyone who does have a doctorate or a masters will be unable to breed. Then it will be those who disagree with the ruling government and anyone who does not tow the party line. Then one day they will come for you.

That is the reasons why we must cry out against the slippery slope we are starting out on now. Anyone who claims to be sterilizing another human being for their own good, has no understanding of what it is to be alive. Our society should be moving towards a place were we help everyone fulfil their potential and give support to those who need it. There are many able bodied people who are terrible parents, and many people who are considered to have learning disabilities who are superb parents. But more than that, there is a bigger picture here. I cannot believe we may begin back down a road that ends in camps and gas chambers in the name of what is best for disabled people. Trust me, it will end up there. It might not be Jews this time, but it will be another minority, or minorities, that will be demonized. The Nazi’s started with the disabled, and these acts of true evil paved the way the extermination of millions of able bodied humans. So before you consider this question of the rights and wrongs of sterilization of the learning disabled, remember the outcome may lead to a knock on your door from state police when you are considered not worthy of human rights. If you don’t cry out now, then there may not be anyone left to cry for you!

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Saints, Sinners and Commissioning Editors

After a weekend of trying to stick to my new year’s resolution of keeping fit, that involved a four hour wheel in and around Central London, I have spent the day stuck on the sofa with back pain. When they say “feel the burn” I don’t think they mean it quite like that, but that’s the price you pay when you push yourself that hard that quickly. Hopefully over the next few months I will be able to exercise without ending up knackered.

The day on the sofa was accompanied by my friend the widescreen TV. I wanted to watch The Wright Stuff but they had Gillian McKeith on as a guest, and however ill I might feel I am not going to watch someone who made a career telling people how to eat only to become a total freak when she decided to revive her career by appearing on I’m A Celebrity. Totally tragic that TV celeb bookers see someone like Ms McKeith as a valid contributor on a show. Let’s hope tomorrow’s guests are better.

The Wright Stuff

Instead I flicked over to the BBC, and got caught up in the greed and avarice of Homes Under The Hammer. Funnily Lucy Alexander and I worked together way back when, when we were continuity presenters on the kids TV channel Nickelodeon. I know I shouldn’t like the show, but I do. Mixture of seeing how the houses are done up, deciding who you want to make money and who you dislike enough to see them fail, and an overpowering feeling that maybe you should be making something of your life. Of course when you combine that with seeing someone you worked with doing so well, when you career seems to have tanked big time it doesn’t always make a fun watch. Masochistic TV… that’s a new one huh?

Homes Under The Hammer

Homes Under The Hammer, was followed by a show that seemed to come right out of the worst kind of sensationalist TV hell, Saints and Scroungers. The bulldog with a heart, Dominic Littlewood presents this bizarre show that explores the world of benefits. “Exposing cheats and highlighting those who deserve to be supported” is the tag line that I imagine was used to get the show commissioned but I am amazed that a show like this is on the BBC. I fully appreciate that there are many people out there committing frauds on the benefits system, and that is totally wrong. When I was a youngster I worked for the dole office and saw people who were obviously working and signing, and I knew how hard those who investigated the frauds worked. The problem I have with this show is the way it is worded. Way too sensationalist.
The fraudsters are treated as the ultimate criminals with little background information, but those who need financial support are treated even worse. Patronised in a way that I last saw in the early 80’s. Most of these people should have been helped by the system to get the benefits and help they so obviously needed and deserve. That little issue annoyed me, that and the total omission of how massive the amount of unclaimed benefits run to each year. We always hear how much each fraudster cost the tax payer however. The best way to describe the show is it’s the kind of program that the Daily Mail would make.

Saints and Scroungers

I just feel that this kind of show feeds the current obsession with cutting benefits, and is a little too political to be made by the publicly funded BBC. Time and time, each of the fraudsters are claiming what is always called Disability Benefits”, yet anyone out there who has applied for these knows how hard they are to get. There never seems to be any examination of how these people managed to get benefits they weren’t entitled to, or what they had actually done to commit their frauds. Just a series of films of people who claim “not to be able to put on their own socks” playing golf, or running marathons or whatever super physical activity anyone getting benefits shouldn’t do. There is a kind of subtext that anyone claiming benefits is dodgy unless they are in need of 24 hour care. And the experts who give their opinion on a claimant’s eligibility never seem to be doctors or medical experts, but are OT’s and Physiotherapists. Professionals, but not experts.

Of course fraud must be stopped and those who deserve it must be helped, but if the BBC is going to make a show like this it is essential that they film it in a way that empowers those people who need help. It might make a great show to portray the sick, disabled and old as desperate, but it does nothing to the bigger picture. It shouldn’t be that to deserve state assistance you have to be a tragic figure. The benefits system is there to create a level playing field, and all of the “Saints”, who really are the kind of people that the system was invented to support. They could just as easily be included without the histrionic language and gnashing of teeth.

Sadly we keep going back to the issue of language and portrayal but until those who make the content on our TVs understand how important it truly is, moany gits like me will keep banging on it. Let’s face it, show like Saints and Scroungers could still exist while ensuring that everyone on the show are not shown as either evil law breakers, who we are made to hate for their terrible crimes, or sad pathetic outcasts, who we obviously have to weep for their tragic problems. Criminals are doing wrong and that needs to be stopped, but maybe looking deeper into each story might make the perpetrators more rounded. Those who it seems are being let down by social services and the benefits system shouldn’t really need to be assisted by a TV show to get the help they need. Maybe a show exploring how many people do fall through the gaps might really be a public service. Let’s face it that’s what the commissioning editor saw this show as when they gave it the green light.

It’s just hit me that if I keep on like this I’m going to end up as a cross between Nabil Shaban and Mary Whitehouse!

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