Held up a bit in traffic around Chelsea I arrived outside the Daily Heil bunker at around 3.50 pm. At the time, an hour+ after its start time, there were about forty people clustered quite tightly around the front of the building, which was dressed in scaffold.
A line of around 15-18 Old Bill, resplendent in Met yellow day-glo jackets, stood guarding the portal of the Daily Heil. Guarding what exactly? Are they fearful for the freedom of the press; scared that we might confiscate it from them on the grounds of misuse. Or, are the police deployed to ensure that truth doesn’t somehow manage to break into the Heil and inveigle its way into print.
Somehow, today’s anti-hated Heil protest lacked some conviction. Since disability comes in all shapes and sizes, visible and invisible, the protest today wasn’t obviously about disabled people.
There were some wheelchair users, three or four. A smattering of vision impaired people, or so the long white sticks suggested. And, a banner from an autistic group.
The slogan’s shouted, especially the sing-along ones, could have related to any cuts demo. In fact, possibly due to the lateness, some of the slogans used against the Heil, ATOS and the police were quite crude, totally out of context to the demo.
Making puerile and offensive comments, totally unrelated to the issue, doesn’t, in my view, progress our argument. No, it serves to reinforce stereotypes; protestors held up as caricatures, ‘renta leftie’ types.
If we’re to progress our cause we need to control what goes on. I didn’t feel in control of today’s event, a feeling shared by a couple of other disabled demonstrators to whom I gave a lift home.
Let’s see if we can raise the profile of disabled people for the demo on 11 May. While I’m happy to work with anyone to make the day a success, I do hope it is we, disabled people, who will be running the show. The others are welcome; but please, let us lead.