Right now is a scary time to be a disabled person in the UK. After an election campaign which allowed many of us to cling to hope, however precarious, we have been left reeling by the result; despairing and furious by turns.
I have allowed myself a precious few days to grieve. Now it is time to stop grieving and make a promise.
I will fight this.
Many neurodiverse people (a community I am proud to count myself a part of) overlap with other marginalised groups. We are more likely to have disabilities which prevent us from working or for advocating for ourselves. We are more likely to be be non-straight or non-cissexual. We are more likely to lead unconventional lives, to somehow stand out as ‘other’ by society’s arbitrary standards. We are more likely to rely on the NHS in order to live our lives to the fullest, or to live at all.
We are vulnerable.
And under a Conservative government, the vulnerable suffer first.
This last sentence should not be news to anyone. We have seen Conservative cruelty in open action over the last nine years. Medical professionals have testified to how the NHS is being systematically dismantled. Teachers have spoken loudly and often about their fears for the education system. Universal Credit, a system of which the Tories are oh-so-proud, has forced thousands to food banks. Hate crimes have rocketed in the toxic culture which the Tories have allowed to flourish, and even encouraged.
There is no sign that this government will be any different. Our new Prime Minister has already stripped workers rights from the EU withdrawal agreement, as well as protections for child refugees. He says that these protections will remain in UK law, but does anyone believe him? I don’t. The NHS is still under threat. The lack of empathy on display by government ministers is staggering.
As a country, we haven’t ticked off as many of the 14 signs of fascism as some other countries, but we’ve ticked off a few. And that is legitimately terrifying.
I do not write this in order to bring you further fear or despair. I write it in order to give context to the following words:
I will fight for you.
I refuse to believe that there is no compassion left in this country. We have different ways of resisting this tide of despair. Some of us may be able to volunteer, others may have a talent for organising demonstrations, others may have the resources to provide financial backing. Together, we are formidable.
Whatever I can do, I will do. I will speak my truth, our truth, the truth that power needs to hear.
I hope that you will join me in fighting, in whatever way you can.
I will not despair.