Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts (MDPAC) is calling on disabled people from across the country to record short video messages to the government that can be played on the mobile screen during next month’s conference in Manchester.
MDPAC hopes the action will allow disabled people who need to continue to shield from COVID-19 to express their feelings about the government’s repeated failure to protect their rights – rather than having to attend an in-person protest in Manchester – and allow those messages to be relayed to some of the Conservative delegates attending the conference.
MDPAC has hired a van with a video screen to spend several hours skirting the conference venue in the centre of Manchester on 4 October, due to take place on the day the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, delivers his set-piece conference speech.
MDPAC is now calling on disabled people to record their messages – ideally of one or two minutes – and upload them to MDPAC’s Dropbox account.
Anyone who would like to contribute financially to hiring the equipment can visit a Crowdfunder page, which is already more than halfway to its £1,000 target.
There will also be an opportunity to record messages during a Zoom meeting that will be held later this month.
An MDPAC spokesperson said: “There’s a lot of security so there is little we can do to impact on [delegates inside the conference].
“The one thing we can do is let them know that what the government is doing is not good for disabled people.
“They must never get the idea that everything is fine.
“The disability strategy and the [disability benefits] green paper have little announcements written throughout them about how great they are doing, which is a complete rejection of reality – there is no mention of the UN [which said that cuts to support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe”], of the welfare deaths, of the absolute collapse of social care.
“We are asking people what they want to tell the Conservative government about being a disabled person in 2021, because we don’t think they listen to disabled people.
“Wherever you are, whatever your situation, if you can find a way to get yourself on video, that would be great.”
He added: “We don’t want charities speaking for us or politicians, we will speak for ourselves, or sign for ourselves or caption for ourselves. It’s about our message.”
Tory conferences, held every two years in Manchester since the coalition came to power in 2010, have frequently been associated with DPAC protests.
Four years ago, activists from DPAC and the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) held up Manchester city centre tram services for about 90 minutes by blocking tram lines outside the conference.
By John Pring
First published on the Disability News Service website on 9 September 2021
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