Below is the transcript of a speech Liz Carr gave at the 2016 Labour Party Conference. The transcript was provided by Liz herself, and permission kindly given for people to share. I actually believe it will prove one of the most important speeches in history.
The speech can be listened to and watched here:
"I won’t go on too much about the fact I’m on a BBC TV show called Silent witness - I only bring that up not in the name of my own ego but to go, we can't be Silent Witnesses, we actually have a moral responsibility to be activists and to give voice to those that don’t have voice and to give visibility to those that don’t have visibility. I’m a relatively privileged disabled person but still, at the moment, I’ve just had a care assessment. I’m at risk of my benefits being cut - my care assessment that got me here today, that paid for the personal assistance to get me here today. That’s happening to me. I can go to the press. I’ve got a profile. I’m white, I’m articulate and I’m educated. I have privilege and that’s happening to me. My social worker sat for 15 minutes at the beginning of my assessment and told me about the cuts to the Borough where I live and I had to stop her and say, ’this is unlawful - what you’re doing - I know it is because I know my rights’. But what if she goes to anybody else like that - and she does. She goes to other people’s houses and she sits there and she says, “you know we’ve got to make amends, we haven’t got enough money sooo… ”. That’s before she’s even looked at what people need. This is before she’s even said anything else other than ‘Oooh we’ve got lots of cuts’. How terrifying. How terrifying to older and ill and disabled people sitting there at home without the privilege that I have. So i can’t be a silent witness as much as I love that job, i have to be vocal. And I join with Disabled People Against Cuts, I join with other groups of disabled people but not just because of our issues, because this is hitting us all.
Now there’s this sort of sense and certain press would have it that to be disabled today is all about blue badges and benefits and big loos isn’t it? That’s all it’s about. It’s a bit of a joke really. No and forgive me because I’m going to read this. For many people, being disabled in austerity Britain means being hated, it means being stigmatised, demonised as burdens, drains on the state, it means being labelled as fraudsters and work shy. It’s about being segregated and excluded and oppressed and discriminated against. It’s about being forgotten and derided and abused and sanctioned and attacked and killed and cut and rationed and reduced and starved and homeless and hungry and fearful and terrified and alone and isolated and abandoned and denied resources and silenced and rendered invisible and made to jump through hoops, to prove your worth, devalued, punished, subject to vicious attacks both by individuals and the state. It’s about being inhuman. It’s about being seen as useless eaters and the undeserving poor. That’s the reality for disabled people in today’s society.
And that’s not just about being disabled, that’s not just about us. We know that’s about every other oppressed group and every person who’s struggling to survive in austerity Britain. Forget words like reform and review - do you know what they mean? Rationing. As soon as you hear those words, that’s what it means - rationing. That’s what they’re trying to do. That’s what that social worker was doing to me, that is what she wants.
You know we are told, and I’ve heard this before, that work will set us free. Where have I heard that before? Sorry, but it needs to be said because to go to work, what do we do? Well let’s cut the benefits that people need by a third. Let’s do that with the ESA cuts, let’s do that. And let’s say you do have a chance of getting into employment - that’s employment where it’s accessible, or where employers aren’t actually scared to employ you because they don’t see being disabled as less than - which they normally do. So let’s say there’s no discrimination in employment and you actually get into employment, we then have cut to Access to Work which is the support to enable us to do our jobs so that’s been cut. So if we do get a job and we do get the support - and that’s quite unlikely - that’s great but do you have the social care to get you up in the morning or to pick you up from work or to cook you a hot meal to enable you to be in a state to do that job because that’s been cut. And how about your transport? Because Disability Living Allowance has been changed to the Personal Independence Payment and thousands and thousands of people have been miraculously cured. Hmmm, funny that? Is that rationing? Yes it fucking is. So lots of people now don’t have their own cars, they don’t have ways of getting from A to B. Getting a car on the Motability scheme isn’t a luxury - it’s a reality because most of the infrastructure in this country is not accessible unless you’re in the cities and even if it is, people still need bespoke transport for their bespoke needs. Right so now, let’s say we’ve got that job, we’ve got that social care and that’s a miracle if you get all that and you’ve got that transport. Did you get the education? Or did you get a segregated education that cared more about tossing bean bags and physio than doing the national curriculum and getting a decent education? And if you do get to higher education, what about the disabled student allowance / support grants that have also been cut? I mean, I could go on… it’s a miracle any of us get here. And I don’t mean in any religious sense, I mean because of the barriers that we are facing. But of course, it is absolutely true to say that work will set us free. Ummm yeah…
I guess I’m here today for all those who have died waiting for benefits to be reinstated, for those found fit for work months after their deaths, for those who have killed themselves because of fear of that pernicious brown envelope arriving through their letter box or the evil of the DWP or the unending shame of being part of our welfare state - because that’s what we’ve done, we’ve made it a thing of shame rather than a thing of support. We’ve made suicide a desirable alternative. Look, let's just cut out the middle man and legalise assisted suicide. Let’s give the state even more power over our life and death.
We are all collateral damage in the ideological war that this government is waging. And this is a war - make no mistake of it - and the strongest weapon that we have, in this room now is collectivism, solidarity and strength in numbers. This is not about pitting us against each other as we squabble over who is the hardest hit. This is the time for us to come together and to unite - all of us who are hit and hurt by austerity. We are stronger together and we are are all that we need in this room here and now. Thank you very much."