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Ian Birrell: The demonisaton of the disabled is a chilling sign of our times

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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:09 PM
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Ian Birrell: The demonisaton of the disabled is a chilling sign of our times
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/04/ian...

....

Unfortunately, much blame rests on the shoulders of the media and certain parts of government. There has been a new dialogue over disability, characterised by the constant drip-drip of stories implying vast numbers of disability claimants are bogus, that benefits are doled out without proper checks and taxpayers fund free cars for thousands of children with minor behavioural disorders.

Many emanate from the Department for Work and Pensions, which has twisted facts, manipulated statistics and distorted data to win support for its drive to cut costs and crack down on benefit fraud. This cascade of spurious claims and scandalously spun stories ends up demonising the disabled. It does no credit to Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state, who proclaims himself a compassionate Conservative. Ministers say they cannot be blamed for the actions of the media, but they know how the game is played.

Meanwhile, there has been a significant increase in articles about "cheats", "scroungers" and "skivers" in the media. Not just tabloids, but broadsheets and broadcasters. A recent Glasgow Media Group study revealed a near-tripling of these words in papers, alongside a reduction in reports on discrimination and sympathetic stories about disabled people. Focus groups found people suggesting seven in 10 claimants were fraudulent; in reality, levels of fraud for disability benefits are 0.5%, much lower than for other benefits and less than the level of errors made by officials....


It is grossly irresponsible for journalists and politicians to collude in this manner to create a climate encouraging hatred, hostility and abuse towards people for whom life is already so difficult. This would be true at any time, but especially at a time of such uncertainty, when people are fearful of the future and looking for others to blame for their misfortune. Those with disabilities should not be made scapegoats for other people's sins.
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non sociopath skin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 03:54 PM
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1. Good piece
There are few uglier sights than members of this ghastly government (few of whom have ever had what most folks would recognise as a "real job") and their cronies in the right-wing media castigating the most vulnerable of society for not wanting to take up non-existent jobs.

The Skin
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