Guest post: Our direct action on the Welfare Reform Bill

Posted on Sun 5th Feb 2012, 1:34pm
By Andy from Disabled People Against Cuts

What a fantastic success!

Thanks to all of you who turned out to support the action by Disabled People Against Cuts, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and UK Uncut in the West End on Saturday. The action was designed to create a space where disabled people could have their own voices heard about the terrible impact that the Welfare Reform Bill will have on some of the poorest, most isolated people in this country.

Hundreds of people came from as far away as Edinburgh, Manchester, Cornwall, Sunderland and Birmingham to be part of the largest disabled people’s direct action for years, bringing truth to the saying, “if you build it, they will come.”

At 12 o’ clock, dozens of disabled activists supported by members of UK Uncut blocked off the corner of Regent Street and Oxford Circus by running chains across the road, and linking to the chains through d-locks attached to people’s wheelchairs. In one well-practised action, carried out in seconds, we had taken over the West End. Central London’s main shopping district was on lockdown – and we had the keys! We were soon joined by hundreds more anti-cuts campaigners, including a samba band who kept the energy up through the protest.

Police turned up to help us by shutting off the roads we hadn’t blocked, which was very public spirited of them. They then asked us how long we wanted to stay, and accommodated us for the next two hours. They even asked if we would give up one lane of traffic. I think it was because they wanted to stage their own demo alongside us. It’s just a shame they didn’t bring their banners.

Those who did bring their banners included Disabled People’s Direct Action Network, Black Triangle, Mental Health Resistance, London Autistic Rights Movement, Occupy LSX, Mad Pride, Winvisible, Single Mother’s Self Defense, Right to Work and many many more. There were lots of speeches from disabled activists and anti-cuts campaigners, and some catchy (and not so catchy ) chanting. The atmosphere was fantastic, and we had a great response from the passing public.

Media coverage was huge. We dominated local and national lunchtime/evening bulletins, rolling news channels, and radio and online outlets all day. We had some fantastic testimonies as to why people were on the action, and some very powerful arguments as to why this bill has to be stopped. We came to show we mean business, and that we won’t take their plans for us lying down. Having made our point, we decided to let London have its streets back and left as one at 2pm. And in the age-old tradition, following our activity we went to the pub.



Rome wasn’t built in a day. And these terrible cuts won’t be stopped in a day either. This was just the first in a series of planned joint actions with the anti-cuts movements, as part of an on-going wider campaign over the next few months to show that we have power to resist, and that we aren’t afraid to exercise it. So watch this space.

Until next time, here are some ways you can help:

If you can make it to London on 13th February, attend this action:

Come and join DPAC to deliver Maria Miller (Minister of Disabled People) our protest letter opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Where: Caxton House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA

When: Monday February 13th 2012

Time: Assemble: 2pm next to Caxton House

We really need your support to challenge the fact that cutting the fund puts over 20,000 disabled people with significant support needs at risk.

For further details contact DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net, or call Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) on 07899 752877.

Go to dpac.uk.net – educate yourself, join up or support our campaigns in any way you can.

Write to your MP: @writetothem.com or House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA and tell them to oppose welfare cuts.

Seek out disabled activists in your local area, and form a branch of DPAC.



Here’s a round-up of media coverage on the day.

We also got in the print editions of the national Sunday papers: Mail on Sunday, Mirror (a photo on page 2!), Observer, The People (also a photo on p2) and Daily Star (photo on p6).

Thanks again for all the support and messages.

Guest Post: Move Your Money UK - a new campaign launches!

Posted on Fri 3rd Feb 2012, 12:58pm
http://moveyourmoney.org.uk/

The banking sector we have isn’t working for ordinary people, small business or society at large. Despite plunging the economy into the worst recession in living memory and receiving the biggest tax-payer bailout in history, big banks continue to profit while public services and local economies starve.

As bonus season kicks into full swing, we’re reminded once again that banks aren’t going to change themselves.

This week sees the launch of a new campaign ‘Move Your Money UK’. Because where we keep our money matters.

Banks rely on the deposits of ordinary savers. When you choose where to keep your money, you are choosing between supporting business as usual, or taking a simple but powerful step towards a better banking system. By moving your money you can directly support an ethical and socially useful bank, and send a clear message about the sort of society and economy you want to see. And one you’d rather not.

The tide is turning. Politicians are starting to talk about ‘responsible capitalism’ and boosting the co-operative sector, but they are long on talk and short on action. From civil right activists creating local banking in the US, to Barclays pulling out of apartheid South Africa – change happens when we act.

In October last year, 650,000 Americans moved their money from the big banks to credit unions. 10 million have moved since 2010.

March 2012 is ‘Move Your Money Month’. The month when we act together, move our money, and begin to change British banking for good.

Pledge to Move Your Money now and join the movement for better banking.

“At an individual level, you can’t do everything to put an unfair economy right – but you can do something. Move your money is the new fair trade. It is THE campaign for our time.” – Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Coops UK

Follow us on twitter, ‘like’ us on Facebook and help to spread the word http://moveyourmoney.org.uk @MoveYourMoneyUK

Next week will see the bonus announcements of Barclays. Join us on Feb 10th to let Barclays know what you think about this.
http://moveyourmoney.org.uk/blog/barclays

Press release: Disabled protestors' blocking of Oxford Circus an "amazing success"

Posted on Sat 28th Jan 2012, 2:45pm
For Immediate Release
Tel: 07415063231
twitter.com/ukuncut
Email ukuncut@gmail.com

A group of over 200 people today blocked Oxford Circus and brought the surrounding area to a complete standstill, with traffic backlogs extending for several hundred yards. At 12 o'clock, a group of 20 wheelchair users from Disabled People Against the Cuts(1) chained themselves together in the middle of Regent Street using handcuffs and bicycle locks. They were joined by 200 others who had responded to a call by UK Uncut(2) to meet at Holborn station to 'shame the government into withdrawing the bill completely'(3).

At 2pm, the group of protestors decided to leave together, describing the action as an 'amazing success'. Alex Logan, who had joined the protest at Holborn said "The day has been an amazing success. Together we have shown that we are not going to take the cruel Welfare Reform Bill lying down. We will continue to work together to fight bullying behaviour of the government, which is choosing to make marginalised people's lives a misery while continuing to let rich companies rich companies dodge £25bn of tax each year"

Before midday, while the wheelchair users were locking themselves into place in the road, a crowd of about 200 people including a samba band and protestors from Occupy London and Black Triangle had gathered at Holborn station. They travelled from there to Oxford Circus, which had been a secret target until the wheelchairs were chained in place. Some people had travelled from as far as Manchester, Cornwall and Edinburgh to take part in the action, which was called by disabled activists and others directly affected by the bill.

The protesters say that the Welfare reform bill is 'unfair, unnecessary and unpopular' and are calling for it to be scrapped. Recent reports have shown that as a result of the bill 500,000 families stand to lose their homes while others will become ‘imprisoned in them’(4). Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children(5). People with terminal illnesses would be forced into work, and 3.2 million will be put through demanding tests that have already pushed some to take their own lives(6). The government's own research admits that this flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty(7).

The government has defended the bill on the grounds that it needs to cut the deficit. However, the protesters point out that much greater amounts of money are lost through tax dodging by the super-rich each year. In January, Private Eye revealed a further £2 billion tax dodge by Vodafone, in addition to the £6 billion scam revealed in 2010(8). The most recent dodge by Vodafone is greater than the cuts to Disability Living Allowance, which will affect half a million people.

ENDS

1 - Disabled People Against Cuts is a UK based organisation fighting for justice and human rights for all disabled people.
http://www.dpac.uk.net/ | http://twitter.com/Dis_PPL_Protest 2 - UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-austerity direct action network. The announcement of the action is available at http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/message-from-the-invisible
3 - http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/message-from-the-invisible
4 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/dec/14/welfare-reform-families-lose-homes & http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16050
5 - http://www.mencap.org.uk/news/article/half-million-disabled-people-may-lose-benefit
6 - http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/latest-news2/medical-test-for-dla & http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/consequences-benefit-changes-mental-health
7 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/22/housing-crisis-benefit-cuts?intcmp=239
8 - http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&
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