Wedding Blues

So, Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting married eh? The country goes Hooray. As Philip Scofield said today on This Morning, “Everybody loves good news”. But then isn’t that part of what the Royal family is there for in the modern UK? To take our eyes off times of trouble. Timed brilliantly to coincide with the start of the cuts coming into effect, we all now have something to become obsessed about. Already the media has gone into a frenzy, so by the the time the big day comes round they’ll be rabid. They’ll be much less time and focus on how our society is changing as this government slashes and burns everything we have spent so long building up. Who cares about student fees, look at her dress. Who cares about the widening gap between rich and poor, aren’t they a lovely couple?

Time and time again during the last Labour government there were stories in the press about the lengths gone to to hide bad news on days where really big events filled our media. The Tories made a big deal about this, as did the media… after the event. It is a mechanism that has been used through out the history of this country by those who rule. I want to make sure that I voice the fact that I see this as just as cynical. I am not a Royalist, not by a long shot. I even turned down the chance to go a to private dinner with the Queen and members of her family back in my TV star days, as I was not prepared to conform to Royal protocols. Whatever my personal views on having a monarchy, that is not what this blog is about. It is how much the people who are in control of our society work together to shape how we see that society.

I will use the example of disability as it something I know about personally. When I hit adulthood, I had just started using a wheelchair. Before that had a limp, and the world was my oyster. I had ten offers of great jobs, and could see my life going in the same direction as all of my school friends. Once in the chair, all those jobs offers disappeared and my future became quite different. I was told I would now be “unemployable” by social workers and others trained to assist me through this difficult time. And so I was farmed of onto benefits. But no one called my a scrounger and a drain on society. The general consensus was that at that time, was with such high unemployment (it was in the UK of the 80’s) how could anyone with a disability find full time employment? How could a boss be expected to employ someone with health issues over an able bodied person? However much these attitudes might offend, they are kind of true. Especially at times of high unemployment.

I went forth and made a life for myself with out any help from anyone, except my family. Everything went quite well until my recent accident. While I was too ill to work, and while I recovered from all that fun surgery, I realised that society had started to change. It began with the DDA. Anyone who knows about the DDA, and the Equality Act that replaced it, agrees it is pretty toothless law. Not only is discrimination an act against the person and not the state, which means anyone who feels they have been discriminated against has to take out a private prosecution at their own cost, but with the word “reasonable” in there it also makes it much harder to prove unfair treatment. But this change in disabled people’s rights did have one real effect. It started the ball rolling on a move to making society see disabled people as a group who take and don’t give. I personally believe that any rights we were given were due to a feeling that disabled people were equal, but more with the long view to start cutting how much we “cost”. OK I am a bit of a conspiracy nut, but how things have shaped up since makes me think I was right.

From there it was a small step to “Once we had rights, surely we should have responsibilities? So why should society pay us anything or give us any help?” Just look at the way the Blue Badge is seen. When I first got a car no one had ever heard of someone using one fraudulently or stealing one. Now I have to padlock mine to my car, after having four stolen in just a few months. Why did this happen? Because society was slowly guided, by the media and government, to ask why should those cripples get something I can’t? No more understanding of why disabled parking exists, and just a kind of envy of us and what we get crept in it’s place. Once this attitude had taken hold, we then start to hear of all the fraud within the “disability benefits” system. Now anyone who has undergone the process of applying for any of these benefits know how hard they are to get. So getting them via fraud is bloody hard, and very rare. Let’s not even mention the millions that go unclaimed each year by people either too afraid to claim , too proud or who just don’t know they are entitled. So how do we fight this “terrible fraud”? Cut the benefits for all, and make it almost impossible to claim anything. Very much a very large sledge hammer to crack a very small nut. But the majority of the public believe it is the right thing to do.

Now I wish anyone who is getting married well. It was the best thing I ever did and I wake up everyday glad that I found the right one. I just can’t shake this feeling that this announcement is very well timed. I won’t even ask who the bloody hell is going to be paying for it all? I mean let’s face it, at a time of growing means testing I feel that this family is one of the few who can afford to pay for the lot.

Right, that’s my topical gripe out of the way. Sorry if it has upset all of you who are overjoyed at the happy news. But then this blog is called “Mik Scarlet Sees Red”.

When I read this through I found myself unsure whether to post it or not. I felt I was being a little unfair to the future King and his future wife. So I sat down and watched some TV. When even the continuity announcers on the BBC mention the engagement in their links, I wonder. I suppose the one thing I can be sure of is that I shall have to take a foreign holiday next year when the wedding is on.

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4 thoughts on “Wedding Blues

  • I think your example of the blue badge is a particularly good one. Privilege vs equality is always hard to explain. It’s one of those walk a mile/wheel a mile things. The actual privilege of the blue badge is much less of one when you have to deal with wheelchairs, reduced mobility, reduced energy etc and are forced to use a car because of impractical public transport. But when viewed as a free bonus given to the undeserving charity cases that the disabled are made to be…

    And indeed a wedding is a wonderful thing. We should all be happy when anyone (no matter their social position) finds true love and bind themselves together. And we should all be happy for good news. But that should make us more aware of the problems faced by others and more diligent in bringing happiness to everyone by solving problems in the best possible ways.

    And I think that’s exactly what your blog shows…very effectively. Happiness should not blind and sometimes it’s hardest to shout when you feel that society least wants to hear it. Well done.

  • Think the Queen is paying for the wedding. But taxpayers gonna be paying £20M+ for the security. Plus it’s going to be a day off for everyone, therefore costing the country a great deal more.

    ‘Time and time again during the last Labour government there were stories in the press about the lengths gone to to hide bad news on days where really big events filled our media. The Tories made a big deal about this, as did the media… after the event’

    Yes Mik, and Labour make a big deal about just about anything in the same way. Wish you wouldn’t keep demonising the Tories as if the Labour Party were some kinda saintly lot – jeez, if only!!!!! During the so called terrible 80’s during the Thatcher years, I held down a full time job (and I’m a wheelchair user who is more disabled than you)…I got free domestic help. During the wonderful late 90’s when the saintly Labour Party were in power, I’m unemployed and have to pay some of my income support towards my domestic care.

    Wish you were a bit more balanced about Labour and Tories – they are pretty much the same lot, you know. I just think Labour are more hypocritical and pious that’s all.

  • Ha ha, Lizziski,
    I must admit I dislike them all. My politics are left wing and so there is no way I could ever say the Tories are anything other than evil in nice suits. The New Labour lot are the same as Thatcherites, with a bigger smile and less ability to say what they mean.
    I totally agree that with old Tories there was a feeling that any assistance we got was something we deserved, instead of this modern “aren’t the lucky to get anything, we don’t get!” attitude. Of course that was partly because there was so many people on the dole that of course “most” of us couldn’t get work.
    Well done on working during the early 80’s.
    How you know you are more disabled than me is interesting. A bit “medical model” there I feel. I might look healthy, but being treated for childhood cancer leaves problems you can’t easily see. But I kind of get what you mean.
    This blog is full of my thoughts and I really want to move further to the left. Renationalisation, higher taxation for the rich, ending private schooling and health care and a move to create a much stronger manufacturing base here in the UK are all things I strongly believe in. I doubt I will ever sing the praises of our new government, or even the Conservatives of the past. I personally think Mrs T is one of the most evil leaders this country has ever had, and almost every problem we now face was caused by the direction she guided our country in during the 80’s.
    Of course it does mean we can continue our discussion of blues & reds Lizz. Surely that’s more fun that me trying to think of something nice to say about Cameron and co?

  • Yes definitely :). I will look forward to commenting on future blogs. Most of my friends are left wing, ha ha, they make me laugh too. I love them despite the fact they are delusional thinking they are somehow more humane than right wing thinking people. I mean, what about the millions of people who have been murdered under socialist and communist regimes? If that isn’t evil at work I don’t know what is.

    Um, I think you might have more problems regarding pain than I have but physically I think I’m probably a lot weaker than you. Of course I don’t know and haven’t seen you on tv for awhile. But you always looked quite strong looking to me :).

    And as for Cameron and co – umm, think they are a bit drippy and liberal for my liking 🙂

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