British disabled punk rocker Penny Pepper interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

Morning Stories | Penny Pepper On The Problem With ‘Sensible’ Shoes

24 August 2015

Penny Pepper, a disabled writer, talks about rebelling against the “what’s best” rhetoric when it comes to fashion.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

‘The world was a liar and I had too much to say to listen to its prejudice’

Thursday 23rd November 2017

Self-confessed saucepot PENNY PEPPER talks to Felicity Collier about the life experiences informing her recently published memoir

JUST before she starts her reading in a Camden Town pub from her memoirs First in the World Somewhere, Penny Pepper is abuzz with anecdotes from her punk youth, be they striking up a rapport with Morrissey or performing gigs in front of Diane Abbott.

A writer and disabled-rights activist, she instigated change in the 1980s by firing off a letter to music magazine Jamming! calling for equal access to gig venues.

The reaction she stirred led to her meeting her first love, forming a band, and recognition that, if punk is about “breaking down barriers,” that must include disability rights.

Her memoirs follow Penny’s childhood and adolescence in the Chilterns where she was keen to escape her lot with an abusive stepfather and a home life she describes as “a prison, hell.”

She savoured times when there was enough money for batteries to power her radio so she could listen to John Peel (“an absolute saviour”) and, when she first heard The Smiths, she immediately bought “everything they had breathed on.”

Feeling represented by Morrissey’s outsider lyrics, Penny wrote to him “endlessly” and was rewarded with a vinyl copy of Barbarism Begins at Home.

Another pivotal moment was watching Siouxsie Sioux and the Sex Pistols on TV setting the tone for a new youth movement.

Rejecting “the designated life of the cripple,” and the restrictive attitudes from health professionals, she was determined not to live a life ruled by Still’s disease, the arthritic condition which affects her joints and requires her to use a wheelchair

Her dream of living an independent life in London was granted when Ken Livingstone, then Greater London Council leader, acted on a letter she wrote. “Letter writing was my escape, my way of fighting back in the world,” she tells me. “The power of my words took me somewhere.”

Cue letters to the Greenham Common women, membership of CND and Rock against Racism, all provoked by “hating Thatcher and everything she stood for.”

She moved in with her partner-in-crime Tamsin — also disabled — and the pair studied, partied and made music together.

“We didn’t think we shouldn’t do what other people do in their twenties,” she says, recalling how at that time disabled people lived with their parents or in a care home. She was intent on avoiding “incarceration” and the sense that her destiny was set in stone was vehemently rejected when she decided to write.

But it took a long time for her to realise that she had “as much right as anyone else” to tell her story. As with writing, so it was with having a sexual identity as a disabled person. She published a pamphlet on the subject and wrote erotic fiction and her candid and vivid memoirs are excellent testament to her tackling ignorance and discrimination.

As a musician, record company executives “leered” over her breasts, she recalls, but took umbrage at her wheelchair. It was an awakening — being made to feel like she could not belong or be sexy because she used a wheelchair and had arthritis. “I decided the world was a liar and I had far too much to say to listen to its prejudice.”

Outrageously funny and brilliantly defiant, Penny is now in her fifties and she has an enduring identification with anarchism, defining it as mutual aid that involves people who are “programmed to help each other to survive rather than the survival of the fittest that capitalism thrives on.”

Yet she’s been a socialist all her life and has a lot of hope for Jeremy Corbyn. Penny encountered Corbyn in the summer while fundraising and he has supported her disability campaign group Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

“He’s definitely captured the imagination of people — he’s made politics fresh. You can’t undo the passion he’s stirred. For the many, not the few!” she chortles.

Penny and her partner were among the first to have a home help in their own flat. She refused to be placed in a care home in an impersonal system, instead demanding independence in her youth.

But there was a battle to have disabled access fitted to the front door when she was forced to move house and the couple encountered fierce opposition from neighbours.

These days, she works with DPAC in its campaigns against the government’s dismantling of social care, including the fight to preserve the Independent Living Fund that enables disabled people to live independently in their own homes, with visiting personal assistants.

But she is not, she says, “vulnerable” and it’s a word she hates. “It’s really abused. I’m no more vulnerable than anyone else, unless my social care is threatened.”

Of government cuts, she says: “We’re talking about basic equalities — being able to sleep and not in your own pee.” It’s a shocking testament to today’s government because, as she points out, Thatcher ignored disabled people, “but she gave us benefits.”

First in the World Somewhere is available from Unbound, unbound.com. Penny is appearing in Brighton tonight at New Writing South, 9 Jew Street. British Sign Language-interpreted.

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British disabled people fight for their rights


This video from London, England is called Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) lobbying parliament on Wednesday 19 July 2017.

By Felicity Collier & Tom Lansdell in London, England:

Disability Activists Storm Parliament

Thursday 20th July 2017

Commons cops try to block disabled people’s rally in Parliament against heartless Tories’ killer cuts

DISABLED people faced off with armed police at Parliament yesterday as they were told their T-shirts exposing the savage nature of Tory cuts were off-limits.

The campaigners were there to lobby MPs over the horrendous toll the Conservatives’ austerity and blitz on essential benefits had had on disabled people.

But as half a dozen coppers walled off the entrance they were told to take off their tops or cover them up.

The rally was part of a week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to flag up the brutal nature of the attacks.

Activist Paula Peters condemned the police action as discrimination and said it had set off some people’s mental health conditions.

Some of the banned T-shirts simply carried the DPAC linked-arms logo.

One man, who asked to be referred to just as Kevin, was barred from meeting his MP because his top read: “This is what a person with an invisible disability looks like.”

“We are not a threat! We are disabled people!” he stormed at the coppers’ injustice.

Others could be heard saying: “We are human beings, just like you,” while Ms Peters pointed out that no political symbol was used on their shirt.

One activist blasted: “Do you want me to go into Parliament topless?”

Another person, Keith, said he’d worn his DPAC shirt twice before in Parliament and it hadn’t caused any stir — raising questions about whether embarrassed Tories had tried to head off the campaigners using dirty tricks.

It took the direct intervention of John McDonnell, a staunch ally of disabled people in their fight for justice, to get the police to lift their blockade.

Showing their resolve, wheelchair-using protesters lined up in front of the MPs’ entrance to the Commons chamber, forcing them to face up to their decisions on Bills that have stripped essential support and benefits from some of Britain’s most vulnerable.

Mr McDonnell applauded DPAC, who “have been consistently campaigning to expose what’s going on and they want to bring their voice to Parliament.”

Ellen Clifford of DPAC’s steering group said campaigners want Prime Minister Theresa May’s promised social care consultation — scheduled for later in the year — to address the scrapping of the independent living fund (ILF), cuts to personal independence payments (PIP) and notoriously unfair benefit assessments.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to ensure vital support at home for severely disabled people, including carers and personal assistants. But the Tories shut the door on new applicants in 2015 and those already registered have been put under review.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stopped to tell the Star: “The cuts to ILF and social care are obviously disastrous and serious within our society.

“We called the Tories out on this and will continue to do so.”

In the Commons lobby, Ms Peters led calls of: “No more deaths from benefit cuts. Give us a right to live.”

Choruses of “Theresa May resign” and “Shame on you” rung out among protesters, before they approached the Commons only to be blocked by a police line.

“Come on Theresa May, come out and face us,” Ms Peters demanded, before branding former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith a “murderer” because of the number of people who have died after having benefits cut.

“We will hunt you down and put you in the dock. You’ve got blood on your hands,” she said.

DEVASTATING disability cuts have left disabled people with “rushed and inhumane” care with one council even telling people to “wear nappies” as overnight support wasn’t available: here.

British election update


This video from London, England says about itself:

7 March 2017

Tory Cuts Kill‘ the tag used by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) campaigners, fellow campaigners and supporters on this pre-budget protest. Bringing attention to the continuing plight of disabled people, and the very reasonable fears they have of further cuts to benefits and support services due to another austerity budget.

While the Chancellor Philip Hammond, along with Theresa May refuse to publish their tax returns, they head a government that has and continues to strip public services and support for disabled people to the bone. Causing extreme hardship and being responsible for the deaths for thousands of disabled people, many with mental health issues.

The government is currently retrospectively changing benefit legislation in order to cut 160,000 people off PIP (Personal Independence Payments), the government are also currently outlining proposals to force all Disabled People into work related activities, even those that have been assessed as unfit for work, which would bring them into conflict with the sanctions regime. Motability assessment changes have meant many losing their vital access to transport. Others have lost services in their homes and many have also lost their ILF (Independent Living Fund), which has been scrapped. All of these allowed Disabled People some amount of Independence.

A UN (United Nations) inquiry has found that welfare reforms have led to “grave and systematic violations” of Disabled People’s rights by the British government. Disabled People have born the brunt of austerity with savage welfare cuts throughout the Tories ideologically driven austerity regime, while the rich are favoured with tax cuts and corporations can avoid and pay no tax. It has become clear to many that austerity is simply a tool by a corrupt political system to dismantle the welfare state and empty the public purse into private pockets.

Britain: DISABLED activists protested in Westminster yesterday as part of their campaign to oust the “nasty” Tory government from office in the forthcoming general election. Campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is urging people across Britain to register and vote to ensure that the Conservative government, which was shamed last year by the UN for its “grave and systematic violation of the rights of disabled people,” is booted out on June 8: here.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

Watson at Usdaw conference: ‘Do not listen to Blair, fight for Labour

Wednesday 3rd May 2017

Watson takes a swing at ex-PM and bumbling Boris

BRITISH voters should ignore Tony Blair and mobilise for a Labour vote in every constituency, Tom Watson said yesterday.

Labour deputy leader Watson is right-wing himself, though not as far right as Blair.

Speaking at retail union Usdaw’s annual delegate meeting yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn’s deputy was grilled over the former Labour PM’s recent comments that anti-Brexit voters should consider voting Tory or Lib Dem.

In a question-and-answer session, a furious delegate asked: “Can you please explain to me why Tony Blair is still in the Labour Party?” She received a wild round of applause for the question.

Mr Watson said he “didn’t know” about Mr Blair’s widely publicised comments, but said: “Don’t listen to him if he did say that.”

He urged delegates to vote Labour regardless of which constituency they lived in, saying this was the only way to defeat Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

Speaking last month, Mr Blair said voters should support candidates who would “keep an open mind” on whether to support the final Brexit deal.

Asked if this approach could mean supporting the Liberal Democrats, he said: “What I’m advocating may mean that.

“It may mean voting Labour. It may mean, by the way, that they vote Tory, for candidates who are prepared to give this commitment.”

Mr Watson used his speech to praise the record of the previous Labour government and individual MPs.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about the qualities you need in a prime minister,” he said. “Theresa May doesn’t think that the ability to answer questions is one of them.

“But sometimes the most important question isn’t what makes the best PM. It’s who makes the best MP.”

He also took a swing at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who last week made headlines when he branded Mr Corbyn a “mutton-headed old mugwump.”

The Labour deputy leader cackled: “In the interests of balance, let me just say this: Boris Johnson is a caggyhanded, cheese-headed fopdoodle with a talent for slummocking about, who would do less damage to Britain’s reputation in the world if Theresa May sacked him as Foreign Secretary and replaced him with a souvenir paperweight.

“When we require diplomacy, Boris sows discord. At a time when we need a serious-minded national representative to deal skilfully with some of the most complex problems our country faces, Boris falls back on bluster and bombast.”