BRITAIN’S PRIME MINISTER, David Cameron, predictably hid behind his son’s death when defending Lord Freud’s comment that disabled people were not worth the minimum wage. Ivan Cameron, who was seriously ill, died at the age of six in late February 2009. He suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy. His death was, as it is for any family, a terrible blow for family. David and his wife deserve our sympathy, but his cynical use of this loss and the suffering of his own son, are despicable beyond belief. Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform (a coded term for saving the government money by taking it from those who need it most), spoke with such ease about the worthlessness of people struggling with disabilities that it betrayed a culture of such a vile attitude within Britain’s privileged class – of which Cameron and his wife are members. He did not stop at calling them worthless; he went on to suggest that they might even be prepared to work for £2 an hour. We can only assume that a country where the crippled-dead-weight of society worked for peanuts would be a Conservatives dream.
Of course political capital is going to be made out comments like this, but some people (myself included) know that it is like to care for people with disabilities, and others know what it is like to live with a disability. The difference is that we don’t have social and economic security behind us that Ivan Cameron had when he was alive. When Ivan was sick he was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington where he would be cared for without the anxiety of cost, waiting lists, and as the son of the Prime Minister. When we are sick, or caring for seriously sick or disabled loved-ones, we have to deal with transport costs, fees, over-subscribed doctors, over-worked nursing staff and other caring professionals. In the real world the disabled have to eat, find somewhere to live, afford a decent quality of life and find meaningful employment – all in a world where the Cameron family are attacking the benefits system. It may seem heartless to bring poor Ivan into this, but David brought him into this to shut us up. No, as sad as the plight of Ivan Cameron was, it doesn’t even measure with the plight of thousands in the real world.
Ivan Cameron never received regular letters from the government asking him if his cerebral palsy had cleared up or if he had been miraculously healed of his epilepsy. Little Ivan wasn’t ever at risk of losing his place at school or having the specialised transport to and from that school taken away because of government cuts. No, Ivan Cameron never had a clue. He would never have had to deal with these inconveniences of the real world. So David Cameron can take his crocodile tears, stick them where the sun don’t shine, and sit back down.
Lord (no less) Freud (coincidently enough) made these comments in such a relaxed manner that it gave away the fact that he assumed his opinions were shared by most – if not all – of the people around him. His disgusting and shameless words give away something else, something that is even more telling of his mentality of wealth and privilege – the mentality of the born-to-rule. In his head the person, the human being, the real flesh and blood somebody, is reduced to a unit. These meaningless units are to be instrumentalised, objectified and utilised to the ends of capital and wealth creation. This is the purpose – at least to the privileged – of the ‘lower orders.’
The reader might think this assertion is perhaps an exaggeration. It certainly is not. Freud used the word ‘worth’ in regard to a human being, and not in the sense of intrinsic value as a human being with rights and dignity. No, he was using ‘worth’ in the only way he knows how: pounds, shillings and pence worth and value. To the likes of Lord Freud we are nothing but our cash and taxable value. The very moment that this value falls below a given threshold then we are no longer valuable to him or the state. It only makes sense that this measurement of humanity extends to cover not only the mentally ill and the physically disabled, but every member of the ‘lower orders (that is us)’ who are of no or limited value to the wealthy British Establishment. We have to remember that the real disability here is the moral decrepitude of this privileged class. If this is their attitude towards the very weakest members of their own – English – society, then you can guarantee that they don’t give a rat’s arse about the people of Scotland.
Jason Michael, Ayrshire