Friday 4 November 2011

Has 38 Degrees Abandoned The Hardest Hit?

The campaigning group 38 Degrees has been one of the features of the ConDem regime, challenging government policies on things as varied as the plans to sell off the forests and the NHS.

Yet there has been one glaring and continuing absence in their policies, any attempt to fight for the rights of the Hardest Hit of this recession.

Disabled people have asked them for support, we've posted on their fora, we've even received substantial voting support there from other followers, but somehow we never seem to be amongst the campaigns they propose they adopt.

38 Degrees just sent me an opportunity to vote on their latest proposed campaigning priorities:
  1. Continue the campaign to stop Lansley's NHS plans
  2. Run research and local campaigns to expose cuts to the NHS
  3. Continue to campaign for planning laws which protect the countryside and local communities
  4. Stop rip-off increases to gas and electricity bills
  5. Support proposals to make gay marriage legal
  6. Continue speaking up for our forests and challenge future attempts to sell them off
  7. Make sure that every child from a poor family receives a free school meal
  8. Continue to push for a Robin Hood Bankers Tax, a tax on banks that would give billions to tackle poverty and climate change
  9. Stopping the building of new coal power stations
  10. Step up the campaign to ban secret lobbying
  11. Push the government to do more to tackle climate change
  12. Continue to demand a real clamp down on tax dodging
  13. Campaign for British pensioners living abroad to get increases to their pensions
  14. Speak up in support of the British government continuing to give aid to poorer countries
  15. Show support for the "Occupy London" protests outside St Paul's Cathedral
  16. Campaign against government plans to scrap some employment laws
  17. Reform media laws to stop media moguls, like Rupert Murdoch, ever getting so much power again
I support the vast majority of these (the powerstation issue is presented too simplistically for me to take a position on), but the Welfare Reform Bill is almost law, 700,000 disabled people who even the government acknowledges are not fit for work face losing potentially all of their benefit, 20% of DLA recipients face losing their benefit by fiat, unknown numbers of families with disabled members face being forced out their homes because of the housing benefit changes, and the horrors of WCA continue unchecked, while support cuts mean disabled people are being told by the courts that it is perfectly acceptable for a council to let them lie in their own waste. Yet not one of these is addressed in the proposed campaigns, disability is simply not mentioned at all.

I'm forced to the conclusion that 38 Degrees have abandoned us, that the horrendous assault on disabled people and the benefits and support we depend on is beneath their notice. And if that's the case, why should I support an organisation that believes what happens to disabled people isn't important?

So come on, 38 Degrees, convince me that you value disabled people and recognise that what is happening to us needs to be fought against by the entire country.

Or are disabled people simply not trendy enough?

And that's why my response to their poll reads simply: "I'm sorry, I can't continue to support an organisation that refuses to recognise the assault on disabled people and the benefits and support they depend on."


In the short time since writing this, I've been reliably informed that supporting disabled people actually won the last 38 Degrees poll, only for it to be shelved and a second poll taken which opted for supporting the NHS. I'd really like to see an explanation of that.


  1. I actually just unsubscribed from 38 Degrees today for specifically the reasons you've posted. I'm even thinking of calling for a 38 Degrees boycott until they get themselves together and actually do proper lobbying rather than trendy "I'm an Activist" for Starbucks-sipping yuppies.

    I am beyond unimpressed.

  2. Yep - quite agree with your conclusions, and I think it's incumbent upon all chronically sick and disabled people to - at the very least - think twice about supporting the campaigns of an organisation that has no interest in supporting us.

    And, 38 degrees, why are OccupyLSX buggering up St. Paul's anyway? It makes no more sense than if OccupyWallStreet were to invade St. Patrick's Cathedral grounds. St. Paul's is NOT the Stock Exchange - you might have noticed this.

  3. Thanks for the support, and the support from people retweeting this. You might want to check the addendum if you read this before 18:45 on Friday.

  4. I actually think that people on The Broken of Britain forums did write to 38 Degrees demanding an explanation and we were promised it was "being looked into". The answer however never came.

  5. Occupy LSX is a very recent - dare I say it, trendy - cause and I'm appalled that disability "won" the vote - partly as I voted for it - and was ousted in favour of the NHS. Why will no one who isn't already connected to or involved with the disabled champion our cause?

  6. I've included my fears about the welfare reforms in pretty much every feedback form I've sent to 38 degrees. It does feel like we're being ignored, and they could so easily provide us with much needed publicity for this issue.

  7. If the story about the last vote is accurate then ignored doesn't begin to cover it - betrayed might.

  8. Aside from the main issue here, what's simplistic about opposing coal-fired power stations?

  9. What you'd accept as an alternative, what technology you'd consider for the stations - are we talking conventional or fluidized bed, etc? Need to look at the entire national power load, not simply say one fuel is forbidden.

    I'm not going to debate it any further than this because we need to concentrate on the issue at hand.