Tuesday, 21 May 2013

WOW - a nearly 6 month progress report

I thought it might be useful to detail my current feelings about the WOWpetition campaign.

As part of my travels I have spoken to fellow WOWers, MPs, Political Activists and other campaigners for disabled people. I have formulated some views.

  1. I don't think the campaign can possibly succeed if we focus on benefits/ welfare and what we need to live. The reason I think this is opinion poll after opinion poll shows that "The Public" want benefit payments cut and believe that disabled people are mainly scroungers off the welfare state. Every-time you engage with a politician their stock answer is "but this is what my constituents want". We therefore need to re-market disabled people to the British Public.
  2. Can someone explain why disabled people are given motability cars. My stock answer would be that without giving disabled people accessible personal transport they would be housebound because access to public transport might involve a long walk (longer than 200m) and buses, trains etc are not completely accessible (and the general public resents the space made available to disabled people preferring to park their pushchairs in spaces reserved for disabled people). This is important because a long held myth is that if you go on the sick you get lots of money and a free car. Unless we demolish this belief we stand no chance of influencing things because all politicians will have to do is say "my constituents believe disabled people are treated too generously by the welfare state"
  3. At my sister in laws party at the weekend I had a discussion with a BBC Radio Producer. Despite being editorial neutral there was a sense that he was supportive of the government's realignment of support for disabled people. If we can't present a compelling case to opinion former's then we are shafted and despite the statistics flowing off my tongue I couldn't. The only point I made that resonated was that disabled people need to know where they fit into modern society.
  4. LBC this morning was advertising a fundraising event for "Help for Heroes  and had all the spiel about heroes being deserving of support because they were injured in the course of fighting for their country. Armed forces disabled people are no more and no less deserving than people disabled during the course of their life's but that is not the picture being presented to the general public, which is one of the deserving and the undeserving disabled. We need to present to them an alternative view!
  5. I have been to 2 Benefit Justice Rallies. I am not sure whether the left/ far left are our friends and how committed they are to our issues.
  6. We have an Amnesty resolution but how useful is that? I don't know and the jury is out.
In conclusion it is my opinion that we need to find a way to take our message to the general public. Unfortunately, what is our message? Initially the idea of formulating a WOW strategy was dismissed as WOW was seen as a loose confederation of guerrilla type combat groups able to act independently. In order to achieve the 100k signatures required we might need to target groups not normally seen as our friends and convince them with our analysis rather than our emotion.

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