Just seen for, like, the 100th time, a petition doing the rounds to get fibromyalgia recognised as a disability in the UK. It’s the very essence of time-wasting and pointless because fibro is already a recognised disability.
The problem is, the DWP treats every disability differently from person to person, allowing them to deny benefits to individuals that they are entitled to. In practice, if you aren’t assertive, determined, willing and able to fight being turned down, not eloquent, don’t do your research before being dragged in for interrogation, don’t take a friend with you, collapse in tears and defeat when you get a rejection letter and don’t appeal, are uneducated, are working class, aren’t able to argue your case due to your illness or limited vocabulary, don’t present your worst day scenarios and honestly say some days are better than others, they’ll take one look at you, smile and deny you what is yours by right to save the Tory government a few thousand pounds a year while an outdated nuclear weapons system costs billions, a visit from a racist, homophobic, transphobic US President costs millions, and the systematic destruction of a relationship with our biggest trading partners is going to cost the country an unknown vast sum, indefinitely going forward.
So, yes, the problem isn’t that any disability isn’t recognised as such. The problem is, the Conservatives hate disabled people because they are seen as worthless, unproductive leeches deserving of slow deaths by food poverty and homelessness, or quicker ones by suicide. They don’t want to ‘help’ anyone with a disability into work; they want to help you into your grave. To date, Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron, with their MPS, have helped thousands to die early and even more to suffer greatly every day they continue to draw breath.
The reason the Tories have got away with a policy Hitler would have approved of, for its vicious cunning and ruthlessness, is that people with disabilities are a tiny percentage of the population, with a majority not caring enough about the most vulnerable in society to refuse to mark an X next to Tory candidates on ballot papers. They choose to believe the lies of billionaire Tory newspaper owners and editors when they present the disabled as con artists and parasites, because the lies enable them to silence their consciences and construct a worldview that is entirely false but in which they are acting as responsible citizens.
The only responsible citizen is one who recognises that voting Tory is an unethical, despicable, selfish and cruel choice that favours the rich over community, compassion, justice for all, and common decency. And, therefore, would not vote Tory under any circumstance.
A responsible citizen votes for jobs paying liveable wages and universally shared prosperity, for a society in which it is recognised that every person has worth and can contribute time, thought, energy and personality to make life better even if they are sick or disabled and cannot work. A responsible citizen votes to help others as well as themselves, recognising we cannot and should never stand on the heads of those weaker than ourselves or seek to gain at the expense of those who suffer misfortune. A responsible citizen votes for a sustainable, clean energy policy and not for the land to be destroyed to eek out the last of the fossil fuel that is destroying the environment to make life for their children and grandchildren a toxic hell. A responsible citizen votes to invest, protect and nurture – not destroy and humiliate. To end suffering, not make it happen and make it worse. A responsible citizen votes for the many, not the few.
You can’t circulate a petition on social media to engender compassion and a sense of social responsibility in people. You can only write, talk, engage with others and be politically active in fighting to get the Tories out. That can mean, but doesn’t have to mean, being in a political party that stands against them. It means you don’t stay silent or shrug your shoulders when faced with injustice. It means you don’t vote for oppressors. It means you don’t come out with lame-ass shit like, ‘voting doesn’t change anything’ – because the Tories only have the means to destroy because they got just enough votes to cling onto power, first in coalition with an enabling party, then with the paid-for (by you, the taxpayer) support of Northern Irish Christian fundamentalists and a handful of MPs sitting on the opposite side of the Commons who appear to be in a party unsuited to their isolationist, imperial ambitions. Of course your vote can change things.
What doesn’t change things are petitions made to an uncaring government that doesn’t listen. Sure, add your name to a petition – the press might just include a footnote if a million people sign – but it’s your X that is going to count the next time you get the chance to mark it next to a candidate. Your X can start a bloodless revolution. Your X can end suffering. Your X can send a message to the world that Britain has rediscovered and will cherish its heart and soul.
Andrew’s latest book, myfibromyalgia: one man’s experience of living with chronic illness, is out now in all Amazon store territories the world over. The ebook is £5.99 and the paperback £8.99. UK Amazon link.