Huffpost UK Politics

David Cameron Accused Of Hypocrisy After Invoking Disabled Late Father And Son In Conference Speech

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David Cameron has been accused of ignoring cuts to disability benefits in his keynote speech to the Conservative party conference, where he emphasised his "compassionate" conservatism and spoke movingly about his late father and late son's disabilities.

Cameron told the audience at Birmingham how attitudes towards disability had changed after the Paralympics.

"I always thought that some people saw the wheelchair not the boy. Today, more people would see the boy and not the wheelchair - and that's because of what happened here this summer," he said.

Chief executive of Scope, Richard Hawkes, said the prime minister was "right to recognise how the power of the Paralympics could have an impact on attitudes towards disabled people.

"But attitudes don’t change overnight and disabled people have been reporting a decline in attitudes towards them for some time now.

"The fact is that despite a commitment to supporting disabled people to live full lives, disabled people are being hit by a double whammy of seeing their financial support and local services falling away at the same time as the cost of living spirals out of control," he told The Huffington Post UK.

"We desperately need a sensible debate on welfare and social care support that starts with what support disabled people need to live decent lives rather than what can we take away."

The prime minister choked back tears as he stood and told the world about his late son Ivan, and his late father Ian, both of whom were disabled.

Disability activist and campaigner Sue Marsh, in a phone interview with The Huffington Post UK, did the same as she described the "onslaught" disabled people faced.

“The thing that really gets me that I believe the only reason he is using Ivan today as a political football is that he knows disability has become one of the biggest issues," she says.

"It's so frustrating that this that this man can stand on stage and lie - downright lie - about protecting disabled people. We are faced with the biggest onslaught disabled people have ever faced."

disability cuts uk

David Cameron has been accused of hypocrisy by disability groups and activists over his claim to be a compassionate Conservative

Cameron’s keynote speech to conference also missed the fact that disability hate crime is at an all time high.

When the prime minister talked about how his late father was "the eternal optimist", despite being born with seriously deformed legs and feet, he forgot to mention how the government’s cuts are, in the words of disabled Labour MP Dame Anne Begg who also chairs the work and pensions select committee, “creating a great deal of fear and alarm” among disabled people.

Cameron’s form of Conservatism, which welcomes everyone "north or South, black or white, straight or gay" and “gets behind people who want to get on in life” is also replacing the disability living allowance with the less-expensive PiP, scrapping crisis loans, cutting housing benefit, closing Remploy factories which employ disabled people, assessing cancer sufferers as fit for work and cutting social care. Oh, and there’s £10bn more benefit cuts to come by the end of this parliament.

According to Dame Anne Begg government policies in Britain are causing "fear and alarm."

"The Paralympics were excellent for changing attitudes but the reality is many disabled people still have incredibly difficult lives," she told The Huffington Post UK.

“Because there are so many changes that directly affect the help that disabled people get - in terms of not just their benefits but social care - many disabled people are very, very anxious that the support they depend on today in order to life the life they are now will be taken away from them as a result of the coalition government.

disabled hardest hit

Disabled people are having an 'anxious' time at the moment, according to the head of the work and pensions select committee

"It's a very anxious time for most disabled people at the moment. despite the success of the Paralympics."

The United Kingdom disabled people's council’s CEO Jaspal Dhani goes further, saying Cameron’s experience with disability does not mean he understands disabled people.

"I think it's always dangerous to say, 'my best friend's black and therefore I'm not racist.' It's [the speech] very close to that. By no means does having a disabled son mean you have an understanding of the wider issues that affect disabled people,” he tells The Huffington Post UK.

"Disabled people are having services removed or reduced. Disabled people are now less likely to be able to access services. We are seeing on the back of stories which are illustrated often in newspapers depicting disabled people as being workshy or lazy, we are seeing a steady increase in disability hate crime as well. That is what the landscape looks like. It's dangerous to say 'I'm compassionate.' “

Also on The Huffington Post

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