Sunday, 24 July 2011

'Welfare to Work policy casts the disabled as cheats'

Broadly, I'm in agreement with most of what is reported in today's Observer piece,  'Welfare to Work policy 'casts the disabled as cheats'. However, a couple of statements in the piece make me feel uneasy, and a little disappointed in the reporting. For instance, this:

"The government's flagship Welfare to Work policy is inciting hatred and violence towards the disabled by portraying them as cheats and benefits scroungers, an alliance of charities has warned."

To reinforce this, the reporter should have backed it up with a case or two. This shouldn't be too difficult with the amount of disability hate crime currently being reported. 

"The government is feeding a negative attitude towards people with disabilities, which, the charities warn, will ultimately end in violence."

The first sentence tells us the government's Welfare to Work policy 'is inciting hatred and violence...' therefore the warning that negative attitudes 'will ultimately end in violence.' seems contradictory.

Where in the report are there instances of hatred or violence meted out to disabled people. The chief executive of a disability organisation stating that people are surprised that he, a wheelchair user, is in work is hardly damning. It serves to show people's ignorance rather than an incitement to hatred or violence.

Similarly, Scope's chair, Alice Maynard, another wheelchair user stated on the frequency of the negative reporting that: "I think in the end it ends up in violence."

While I don't doubt a causal link between the demonization of disabled benefits' users (and even non-benefits users)and hate crimes, the reporting of these links must be backed up by hard evidence.

We are constantly calling upon the scum press to get their stories straight, not to simply publish uncorroborated stories, thus feeding our demonization further. Since this is the case, it is imperative that the 'better' papers don't fall into the same lazy ways of the Scum and Daily Hate. 

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