Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Jody McIntyre - a personification of the state's contempt for the disabled

Jody McIntyre, pulled from his wheelchair during the student protests in London last Thursday, has become the focus of intense media scrutiny. However, there was no outrage over this appaling act of state violence against a defenceless individual. There was only a transparent display of the propaganda model in action.

First there was BBC anchor Ben Brown's interview with McIntyre;

Notice the leading questions from the interviewer. It was, as one comrade of mine put it, almost as if Brown were trolling. "Did you throw anything that would have incited the police to do that to you?" As though this ludicrous premise would excuse such a blatant act of bullying and aggression.

Fair play to McIntyre, however. In such a situation, I don't know if I would have been able to keep my cool. Or avoid calling Brown a worthless fucking tool. He handled the situation brilliantly.

However, it is not just Brown's demeanour that was telling. The BBC website repeatedly plays up to the same presumptions. The incident only "apparently" happened, and all that backs it up are "claims." The BBC is also at pains to stress that they "cannot verify the authenticity of this footage." But a counter statement by the police is printed entirely without comment.

It is just another example of how the supposed "impartiality" of the media actually amounts to a bias in favour of established power. Official sources are published uncritically, their claims accepted as read.

In the openly biased media, it's even worse. Enter Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail;
I want to go to the demo...

Wheelchair-bound Jody Mcintyre has complained that he was beaten and manhandled by police during last week’s student fees protests.

But if he’s looking for sympathy, he’s come to the wrong place.

A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance.

Mcintyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him into the front line. It’s not as if he didn’t know there was going to be trouble.

He was also at the last student demo in London and persuaded friends to hoist him on to the roof of the Millbank Tower. If his brakes had failed and he’d gone over the edge, who would he have blamed then?

Jody Mcintyre is like Andy from Little Britain.

‘Where do you want to go today, Jody?’

‘Riot.’

‘Are you sure? Wouldn’t you rather go to hear Bob Crow speak at the Methodist Central Hall. You like Bob Crow.’

‘Yeah, I know.’

‘So, we’ll go there, eh?’

‘Riot!’

‘Ken Livingstone will be there, too. He’s your favourite.’

‘Riot!’

‘All right, then.’

Five minutes later at the riot . . .

‘Don’t like it.’
Littlejohn, as a rule, is beneath contempt. But this has to be one of the wretched slime's worst efforts. Not surprisingly, it sparked a deluge of complaints.

In the BBC interview, McIntyre said "it's very important not to see this as an isolated incident." He was referring to the police's role at demonstrations, and of course he is right. He would equally be right in terms of the media's response in maintaining the state's propaganda line - not just as regards violence against protesters, but also its treatment of disabled people.

Those with disabilities will be one of the main groups to suffer as a result of government spending cuts.

Already, we know that "disabled people face poverty, social isolation and are more likely to have accidents because of harsher eligibility criteria for a diminishing pot of funding for social care support." And, amongst families with disabled dependants, "23%, almost one in four, had to turn off their heating to save money and one in seven, 14%, are going without food."

Now, the government is removing the High Rate Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from care home residents.Which, as Bendy Girl points out, is "downright nasty, disdainful and cruel because people resident in care homes are far more likely to use the mobility component of their disability living allowance to pay towards the phenomenally expensive specialist wheelchairs they need rather than a vehicle."

On top of this, yesterday it came out that the Independent Living Fund will be abolished by 2015.

In his Telegraph blog, John McTernan points out;
This fund of nearly £300m a year pays an average of £300 a week to people to support them staying independently in their own homes. If it didn’t exist, it would be exactly the kind of thing that would be branded as a Big Society welfare reform – it helps individuals, and it saves the state millions since the alternative is expensive residential care. Instead, it’s being cut.
This is nothing short of an attack on disabled people. And the same myths that the government uses to justify itself are asserted as fact by the media, particularly the tabloids.

None of this is new. However, as the class war intensifies so does the suffering of the most vulnerable. What is important now is that we continue to highlight what is going on, to challenge, the myths, distortions, and hate campaigns, and to resist the brutal violence inflicted by the state in the name of capitalism.

Returning to McTernan, those at the sharp end are well ahead of me on this;
What I don’t think the Government – or the mainstream media – were aware of until Jody McIntyre’s interview is quite how articulate and media-savvy modern disability campaigners are. As the waves of cuts – to benefits, to the ILF, to social care provided by councils – impact on people we are going to see the Coalition with their immovable case that there must be cuts come face to face with people with disabilities and their irresistible case that the most vulnerable should not pay the price for a bankers’ crisis.
Blogs like Where's the Benefit and The Broken of Britain are not only lifelines for disabled people, they are a challenge to the propaganda being pumped out by the ruling class with ever greater intensity. Through these outlets and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, they are winning the battle of ideas. Likewise, on the streets, student militancy had the government running scared in a way that marching back and forth never could. They refused to be passive or be demobilised from above.

In tandem, these two facets - along with the steely resolve that both the disabled and students have shown in the face of state might - are a recipe for winning the class war.