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While We Talk About Tory Splits, Let's Not Forget How United They Are in Their Treatment of the Disabled

21/03/2016 09:00 GMT | Updated 21/03/2017 09:12 GMT

It didn't take long between George Osborne delivering his eighth Budget and the Conservative Party descending into internecine warfare. This conflict has been bubbling under the surface for months, driven by tensions and rivalries around the EU referendum and the battle to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister.

While much of the media chatter over the weekend has been focused on Tory splits, the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith clouds an important reality - how united the Tories have been over how they treat disabled people.

You only need to look at last week's Budget. It was George Osborne, a man who has wanted for nothing in his life, who cooked up these cuts in order to make the disabled pay for the other choices he wished to make. But every single member of the Cabinet - including Iain Duncan Smith - sat round the Cabinet table and agreed these heartless cuts to Personal Independence Payments.

I was in the House of Commons and heard Tory frontbenchers and backbenchers cheer in unity as George Osborne sat down - there was no compassion for the disabled in their cheers.

And let us not forget, the cuts announced last week are just the tip of the iceberg. For six years now the Tories have been targeting the disabled.

Take the Work Capability Assessment - a programme designed specifically to drive disabled people off benefits. The Tories watched as ATOS chronically mismanaged the process and declared people fit for work who clearly were not able to. We should be under no illusions of the impact this programme has had - disabled people have killed themselves as a result of being declared fit for work.

And the Bedroom Tax - a policy that has taxed and denied dignity to many disabled people. Despite there being obvious reasons why a family caring for a disabled relative might need a spare bedroom, the government have chosen to ignore this. It was a case brought by Paul Rutherford, a disabled carer, that saw the UK Supreme Court declare the Bedroom Tax discriminatory earlier this year. Despite this ruling, the Department for Work and Pensions announced they would appeal - prolonging the misery for disabled families.

There is also the cuts to Employment and Support Allowance - a spending cut that does absolutely nothing other than make disabled people poorer. People who are already some of the poorest in our society. As Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and 30 other charity leaders said in a recent open letter the changes will push people "further away from work and closer to poverty". All this in 2016.

And let's not forget about the abolition of Remploy. A service that employed thousands of disabled people - giving them a feeling of camaraderie, dignity and the purpose that work should provide. But while the Tories like to talk the talk on getting people into work, the reality is they threw thousands of disabled people out of work and onto the scrap heap.

I have witnessed the effect of these policies. Week after week I have had people sobbing in my constituency surgeries about what the government's welfare cuts will do to them and their families. It's gut-wrenching.

The metric by which any civilised and decent society is judged should be how it treats its vulnerable, its poor, the elderly and its disabled people. Those who often have no voice. Those who need Government to look out for them. On this measure the Tories - from David Cameron down - have failed. It is Labour who have stood up for the disabled, and it is Labour who will oppose the Tories' draconian disability cuts.

After a litany of failure, it's now time that Osborne recognised the damage and pain these cuts will cause and end his targeting of disabled people. This is the right thing to do not just for disabled people - but for all of us who believe in a fair, decent and caring country.

Dan Jarvis is the Labour MP for Barnsley Central