Saturday, 16 May 2015

Should we be afraid? And other reactions to Anne Begg

The excellent John Pring of Disability News Service has spoken to Dame Anne Begg since she lost her Commons seat in the recent general election. What she said has a lot of relevance to this effort.

She outlines the kind of things she thinks we can expect as this government makes changes to save money from what they call the 'welfare' budget (I prefer the term Social Security, for reasons on which several other people have written eloquently) - restricting eligibility for PIP, and taxing PIP, seems to be ones she feels are particularly likely. She also tells us we need to be afraid.

I'd say that we need to know what's likely coming, and being afraid is a natural consequence of that. But we shouldn't stop at being afraid. I don't claim to be contradicting Anne Begg here - her interview goes on to say there seems "to be a need for an “effective voice” to speak for the different communities of disabled people", which is what I hope we can achieve with a union (or whatever we decide to call it). She also suggests "a campaigning approach centred on realism and pragmatism, and developing a “common voice so it is stronger and louder” and has “very clear achievable aims”" - a goal I think is reflected in the draft principles I have shared.

I absolutely agree with Anne Begg on this:
“You can always have your wish-list but what you probably need are some identifiable, containable, achievable goals that you can start to build up your confidence with.

“That’s a slow process, but if you start to get results and have an impact then people start to sit up and listen.”
This is relevant to our endeavour in two ways. Firstly, it applies to the strategy and approaches we take once we get going - and I've tried to reflect that approach in the draft principles. It also applies to the setting up of an organisation in the first place - not so much that we need to walk before we try to run, but that we need to work out how to build our legs. We need to get something together, and quickly, to use the momentum that's out there in the community and before we can be too preoccupied with details that can wait until later, and that spending too much time on now will just lead to argument and recrimination.

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