This afternoon I went with Leftwing Idiot to a protest, organised by the group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). It took place outside the headquarters of ATOS, the company which is set to make a lot of money from the changes to disability benefits – they’ve been given the contract to re-assess everyone who gets Disability Living Allowance and to take it away from at least a quarter of them.
I particularly wanted to be there so I could represent at least some of the many people who’d like to have gone but couldn’t because of their health or support needs.
The protest was small, about fifty disabled people and their carers or personal assistants. Everyone was peaceful and cooperating with the police, but despite this they surrounded us with metal barriers and prevented anyone from leaving – they kettled us.
The police have made several creative attempts to justify their use of kettling in recent months, but justifying kettling fifty people with disabilities must surely be beyond even their imagination.
It’s a seriously bad indication of the state of the country when the police hold vulnerable disabled people against their will in this way simply for asking to keep their independence and quality of life.
As the police constructed the barrier around us I ticced “The lesbians are making a Meccano set.”
They didn’t react to this and concentrated on the job of putting the barriers up. These are becoming regular sights on our city streets.