Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hodge failed to dodge disabled, thanks to DAN

AS you've doubtless heard, the far-Right British National Party gained 11 seats in Barking and Dagenham in the council elections. The BNP leader in the area was gracious enough to thank Labour MP and Employment Minister Margaret Hodge for her help in saying people would be voting for them.

Hodge said this was because Labour had not been listening to people. And who has been their MP for more than a decade?

The media which hastened to report the BNP's gains and the words of their voters paid somewhat less attention to the 12 seats gained by George Galloway's left Respect coalition in Tower Hamlets. Respect also gained three in Newham, and one of its founders, Selma Yaqoob, was elected in Sparkbrook, Birmingham.

Meanwhile, as Labour Party members and supporters in Barking were fuming over their useless MP (don't be desolate, try deselection, I'd say), news has belatedly reached me from campaigners of another incident involving her. Where were the media?

Anti Poverty Campaign for Disabled People 'surprises' Minister Margaret Hodge.

On Friday 28th April, the Disabled People's Direct Action Network (DAN) presented its Anti Poverty Campaign to MP for Barking Margaret Hodge at a
demonstration outside her surgery. Highlighting problems with the welfare reform paper that plans to get 1 million people off Incapacity Benefit,
DAN activists strongly asserted: "The problem isn't in our attitude towards working. It lies in employers' reluctance to offer us jobs".

DAN asked:"'Where are these jobs going to come from? Why would employers make the reasonable adjustments they need to make to recruit and retain disabled people when there is no useful anti-discrimination legislation forcing them to do so?"

DAN demanded to know whether: "The Government will put the necessary money into the Access To Work Scheme to ensure adjustments are made and vigorously pursue discriminatoryemployers?"

DAN activist Stewart Macloud presented a leaflet summarising the campaign to MP Hodge at the end of her surgery and raised concerns with the proposed reforms. He told the Minister that not enough emphasis is placed upon employers to
make changes and questioned the quality of disability employment support services, citing examples of Hounslow Disability Network who next week will have to lay off a deaf employee because
the Access to Work scheme has refused to pay for the full cost of communicators.

He also cited how a person with a learning difficulty working part time is currently being threatened with court action by a local authority because of rent arrears caused by a six-month delay in payment from the working tax credit
MP Hodge said she was surprised by DAN's response to the reform as the disability groups she had spoken to had welcomed the changes.

DAN pointed out that these groups are not
accountable to our community and that many of them have their snouts stuck in the honey jar as they benefit directly from their participation in slave labour schemes such as Pathways to
Work. She agreed that there was an issue
with the quality of disability employment support and said that she would consider meeting with DAN if DAN writes to her requesting such a meeting.
She then smiled politely and left.

Sadly, as MP Hodge left she was delayed and inconvenienced by a DAN activist whose electric wheelchair battery had completely discharged at the exit of the surgery's car park.
Whilst six officers of the Metropolitan Police were
called by Hodge's staff to "assist" the activist out of the way others chanted: "Margaret
Hodge-Podge, Margaret Hodge-Podge, Shame on you, shame on you, Give us real employment, give us real employment, Just like you, just likeyou!"

Eventually she was driven briskly out of the car
park. DAN made it clear that this is just the first of our forthcoming series of actions to highlight
poverty amongst our community and emphasise
the truth concerning the cruel and discriminatory benefits system which punishespeople with impairments, far from rewarding laziness or the
undeserving, as the Government would have people

*Please disseminate freely to all your politicians,
groups, forums and individuals etc...FREE OUR


Colin Revell,
Hull and E. Riding of Yorkshire
DAN representative and

I'll certainly do what I can to spread this. Pity the TV cameras missed it, not to mention our "free press".

ALL HONOUR to the Disabled campaigners who refuse to suffer in silence, and collared the MP Hodge and tackled her on the real issues!

ALL POWER to this campaign!



At 11:26 AM, Blogger Apoplexy said...

Way to go Salma.
By the way, this is a nice blog.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Charlie Pottins said...

Thanks! Glad to hear from another reader and another country, and glad we're getting it right.


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