Blog Post by Myles Cook
“I have drawn quite a lot of criticism from right-wing political followers in the past when I have written columns that are attacks on current Government policies. “Left-wing rant” and “extreme Left blogger with a dark philosophy” are my personal favourites.
On my last blog, I was accused of abusing my critics and I put my hands up to that but only to people who have called me a left-winger. I find that the assignment of that term to me extremely offensive especially when I have gone out of my way to show that I am non-partisan. I have written two columns for this site on the very subject of taking the party politics out of the UK’s political arena and actively encourage cross-party working. I have openly declared my contempt of politicians as a group regardless of their political affiliations. Does this seem like the actions of a left-wing supporter? Of course not.
Right-wingers who wish to disagree with my columns are free to voice that opinion by leaving comments as are people who agree with me; however, ascribing a political position to my work is offensive to me personally. It shows an ignorance of my political stance that is both incomprehensible and puzzling due to the wealth of contrary evidence on this very website. What I write about in my column is what is happening in the here and now. The past is the past and cannot be changed. I can only, in good conscience, attack policies that are being enacted now and that are, in documented fact, killing people by driving them to suicide.
The current administration is the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition. They are the ones with the power to create policy. It would make no sense to attack Labour policies as they are not the ones in force and will not be until Labour takes power again.
It is my right and my duty as an enthusiastic amateur journalist and political/social commentator to draw attention to policies that are adversely affecting the country and its citizens. It seems ironic to think that when Labour takes power again and I start to attack Labour policies, as I have in the past, I will be labelled ‘right-wing’ by their supporters and the right-wing supporters will remain silent as I will be ‘on their side’.
Another criticism of my last blog was that I was talking down to my readers or that it resembled a GCSE textbook.
Well to that criticism, I say this – I pointed out at the very beginning of the piece that 99% of my readers would be astute enough to understand where I was going and would probably get to the destination before I did. That is not talking down to my readers, which is showing that I know that the vast majority of my readers are more than capable of comprehending my writing. That said, however, I have to make my work accessible to the whole population of Thurrock and, given some of the feedback on earlier work and the misinterpretation that has occurred, I felt that a new approach and style for the piece was required. Far from talking down to my readers, I have shown that bloggers have to make their work accessible and have recognised that people of all abilities may well wish to partake of reading another person’s view on different subjects.
A couple of people have questioned the facts I raised in my last piece. This just shows how close to a nerve I hit with the right-wing supporters as my facts come from my research from a range of media outlets and the Government’s own DWP website as well as my own personal experiences and personal observations from working with the mental health service users of Essex who are being adversely affected by the changes in the benefits system. I personally spoke to dozens of service users during a range of consultations and I have heard people at the end of their tether, literally scared out of their wits by what is happening.
I have seen the fear in their eyes and if more people did the same, opposition to the way they are being treated would be enormous. I have spoken with people who work with the physically disabled and the stories have painted the same picture of utter panic within that community too.
I have been accused of ranting in my column; I prefer the word ‘passionate’. I have never claimed to be the sole voice in the defence of the disabled community, another false accusation by a critic; I am, however, rather more vocal than most are able or prepared to be as I feel I have nothing left to lose and have the forum in which to mount the defence. There are many other kind, understanding people out there who see the current situation through either personal experience or through their own observations who fight in their own way and there are many other bloggers out there in cyberspace fighting the good fight.
Another false claim was that I was accusing everyone in the country of hating the disabled when what I actually said was that the levels of hate towards the disabled and those on health-related benefits was growing, which is the truth. Check the Government’s own statistics for yourself and you will find that disability hate crime is on the increase, a sure sign that hate towards the disabled is up.
I was accused of hiding details of the household income to paint a darker picture of the denial of benefits to which I have been subjected. This is a false as I never, at any time, claimed that I was the sole source of income in my household and details of any income to my household is no one’s business except the members of my family. I listed the benefits I have been denied to show how little money I actually receive from the State and, as the commenter clearly states, the threshold for receiving Housing and Council Tax Benefits actually puts my household within the ‘should receive’ group. I even revealed the household income in my response. Despite omitting the full income from my main piece, it actually changed nothing and is still a true reflection of how close my household is from being in real financial distress, especially if I lose the pittance I receive. In fact, it is the pittance I receive that allows my household to survive from day-to-day and we do not live in any extravagant way, I assure you.
I have spent the last few years doing a range of voluntary work when my condition allowed me and the opportunities arose so I have not exactly been idle. In fact, I and others like me should be shown up as examples of Cameron’s Big Society idea; instead, we are demonised by his administration so people will not object to the policies that are disproportionately harsh to the disabled and health-related benefit claimants. There are, however, many who are in an even worse position and I have never denied that either.
In all, my last column has shown just how desperate the right-wingers are getting when confronted by the inconvenient truth that the Coalition is harming this country and its citizens with its policies. Under Labour, who certainly made many mistakes, the economy was growing; under the Coalition’s ministrations, the economy has gone into a double-dip recession, an event that their austerity measures were meant to prevent. Under Labour, the budget deficit was enormous; under the Coalition, the levels of borrowing have increased making the deficit even larger. The austerity measures that the Coalition forced upon this country should have lasted their five-year term of office and should have sorted out the deficit within that time; Cameron has gone on record saying he now sees no end to the need for austerity measures.
Therefore, I say this to my right-wing critics: Do not blame me for pointing out the inconvenient truth that the Coalition has failed in its duty to protect the country and its citizens and is, in fact, adversely affecting both. Do not blame me for your party’s failure. Open up your eyes, the eyes you have kept tightly closed to the truth, see the truth for what it is. Try looking in the eyes of a disabled person or health-related benefit claimant and start talking about the benefit changes and see the fear. In addition, most importantly, do not call me ‘left-wing’ because it is untrue and we will be on the same side when Labour gets back into power and they start enacting policies that harm the country and its citizens because I will be on their backs straightaway, I assure you.
Until next time…
If you would like to comment on any of my columns, please send them to email@example.com or you can check out my personal blogs at http://valen1971.webs.com/ or http://valen1971.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Twitter (@valen1971).