The Government must listen to the Hardest Hit
Posted Sunday 8 May 2011
In the wake of last week's local and regional elections and electoral reform referendum, the media are feverishly debating the meaning of the contrasting messages from the voting public. Politicians attempt, in public, to put a positive spin on how their parties have fared whilst avoiding awkward questions about less favourable elements of the outcome. In private, they will be trying to divine from the results what the electorate is thinking.
But elections are blunt tools for voters when it comes to clearly expressing our concerns: a 'no' vote in the AV referendum might represent an allegiance to the existing voting system but could stand for a rejection of compromise and desire for more radical reform. A vote for Labour could be read as a rejection of the coalition's economic policy, but may alternatively be construed as a well-aimed kick at Nick Clegg for a perceived betrayal.
In all the talk of political intrigue and machinations, the issues that are actually worrying people the most can fall off the agenda altogether. For many people I've talked to recent months the changes and cuts to benefits and welfare are causing significant distress. This is not a niche issue: millions of people are affected by these reforms and around half of these people are experiencing mental health problems. Yet I wonder whether these people and others who share their concerns felt able to express them through their X on the ballot paper.
So if the standard political processes are not allowing us to effectively express our concerns about welfare and benefits, and the media which shapes this politics seems, on the whole, only interested in reporting the lazy stereotype of 'scroungers', how do we make ourselves heard? The answer is that we march through London on May 11 so that the Government and media can't ignore our voice.
That is why it is so important that as many people as possible join Mind and over 50 other charities and organisations in Wednesday's march to tell the Government that disabled people and people with health conditions are the Hardest Hit by their cuts and reforms. Please sign up here.
Tom Pollard, Mind Policy and Campaigns Officer
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