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Saturday, 8 February 2014

"We are more angry than frightened"

Kilburn Unemployed — proud and uncowed

By Swheatie

I suppose that the wording of the placard design puts into words what the KUWG logo says symbolically. (Apart from the lettering, that logo image was not my idea.)

Anger can motivate us to do what we might otherwise fear to do, and there are parallels between
  1. Why I 'stand out proud' in street campaigning, and why I told my Hampstead Heath muggers on a very dark [29 January and New Moon] 2001 early evening to 'get knotted' when they told me, "Give us some money and we'll let you pass" and
  2. Why I now stand out and proud as a campaigner rather than fearful about being witch-hunted as an allegedly fraudulent claimant of Employment & Support Allowance who is now in the 'Support Group'.
In both 1 and 2 there are risks.

Vocal power in nonviolent resistance to physical attack

In 1, maybe I was lucky to come away with just a puffed lip, but I was very angry about that epilogue to my afternoon's walk.

I had got so lost in the afternoon's walk back from E15 to NW5 on an afternoon that was raining so much that I did not bother to open my A-Z of London, and walked into Leyton or Leytonstone by mistake. And all because I could not afford the bus fare home while being on Jobseekers Allowance. So when I received the demand of money for safe passage, a deep rage at how I had been let down as a disabled person and decades long jobseeker resulted in a sense of open defiance. I was also emboldened by the tale I had read in about 1977 of Frankie Armstrong [who had degenerative blindness] responded to an attempted rape in a railway compartment.

There is more to Frankie Armstrong than the fact that she is blind through glaucoma. She has a very powerful voice that she has used to help empower other women. A monthly folk music newsletter interviewed her and she told how someone attempted to rape her in the isolation of a railway compartment and got the shock of her retorting, "Fuck off!" in a voice so loud that he fled that railway compartment as other passengers might be alerted. And as I had been working on my own singing voice in the interim years and was more aware of my personal power than when verbally bullied at school and in early waged employment, once my muggers tripped me to the wet ground,

The tripping to the ground set off an 'adrenaline trigger' and I let rip with intonation of a loud "Ah" and hoped that I might alert whoever happened to be over the next hill top. My assailants who started kicking my head front and back as I sat upright making sound told me, "Shut up and we won't hurt you." I preferred to trust in my own vocal power and Frankie Armstrong's example — even while it may not have hurt their ears as much as Frankie Armstrong's in a confined space would have done. They then decided that I was not worth the effort and they had better target someone else.

Fear of being witch-hunted as a 'benefit fraudster'

The imbalance of 'saints and sinners' on TV documentaries is ridiculously skewed in favour of those who would like the public to collaborate with scrapping of an already inadequate UK benefits system, and right-wing newspaper love to denounce people as 'benefit fraudsters' and create a climate of fear that prevents many from speaking out. But, for example, in the months preceeding my 2001 mugging I had been told by a training company that took jobcentre money to train jobseekers: "We agree with you that the training period is inadquate for the amount of course content, but the Government has told us to halve the training period so as to double the amount of throughput from the dole queue."

That, and evidence from 2011 tests by Camden Learning Disabilities Services, highlights how as a much slower than average learner how it is dangerous for me to attempt to enter or even prepare for the 'world of work' in 'austerity Britain', and was a major factor in my annoyance with tight-fisted government before I was mugged in 2001.

I apologise for a long blog posting, but had to get that off my chest when the likes of Lord Freud and IDS never really thought to consider how hard life was for existing disabled jobseekers in their pursuit of 'a fairer benefits system' in which the 'earnings disregard' for unemployment benefit/Jobseekers Allowance has not been updated since 1988 and Jobcentre Plus has long let down the people it was supposed to serve. See
for information regarding the latter points.

Neither did David Freud want to answer my question regarding existing disabled jobseekers when I questioned him about it at a a debate in September 2008 that he lost with an audience largely comprised of disabled people, disability campaigners and carers.

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