So we’ve turned the corner post-Brexit and found ourselves faced with another major voting period. This time it’s another general election, out of the blue.
After 2015 and 2016, the thought of yet another election makes me feel sick. Not only about the possible results, but the thought of going through another period of voting and the discussions around it. After the first Tory victory, and the EU referendum vote, never mind the rise of Donald Trump and the expansion of populism across the board utilised in dangerous ways, I’m just tired. Perhaps that’s why there’s another election. We’re disenfranchised, tired.
As a disabled person, as an LGBT+ person, I’m beyond fucking tired of being undermined left, right and centre. Despite my concerns, every single voice around me cries to stay focused, to keep fighting, to stay engaged, to be enraged.
I am definitely getting too tired for this.
I wonder, whilst writing this, how many of us feel the same way. Disability makes me naturally tired due to chronic pain and having low energy overall. Yet here we are, horrified at the thought that for the third time in as many years, we’ve no choice but to try to protect our futures…again.
I wouldn’t be here without the support I’ve received in my lifetime. I wouldn’t be studying at university. So, naturally, I’ve spent the past few years living in fear of what could happen should just a few more acts pass to undermine the disabled population. I fear what could happen to me and my family – most of whom are in some way disabled – should the unwieldy axe of disability cuts strike us next. And yet, I’m tired of it. Half the time, I’m angry, trying to be active, trying to put pen to paper, turn keystrokes into something more – to make my voice louder and louder. Half of the time, I’m too exhausted to comprehend it all, and it would be all so easy to just… stop.
How are we expected to go through this again?
If the average UK voter is sick of it, imagine the working class voter. People with disabilities, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ population. We’re all being attacked left, right and centre, not only by those with power, but those empowered by a startling shift toward ignorance.
People are dying because of this.
I can’t stress this enough, and people don’t seem to get it. Cuts to disability benefits, the stringency of PIP assessments, they’re killing people. Thousands of people, unable to live their lives because an assessor can watch them walk to the door – no matter how much pain they’re experiencing, no matter how they get there. How can it be acceptable that the state makes us feel that an assessment is more like an interrogation? How is it acceptable that the state wants us to prove how disabled we are? That we’re being deemed fit to work – as if working is the only important factor in life – by people with no knowledge, no experience, who haven’t had to rely on painkillers, carers, and an hour of psyching yourself up, to just get out of bed in the morning? How is that acceptable?
Where #CripTheVote comes in
The #CripTheVoteUK movement is desperately trying to discuss disability and the election, and with the idea to ‘#CripTheVote’ – encouraging disabled people to vote – taking off in the US around the presidential election. It’s really, really heartening to see this discussion. Even if these stories break my heart, even if my emotions are torn by them, they’re being seen, they’re being read, they’re being noticed. People are aware of the everyday struggle that will worsened significantly through another five years under a Conservative government. And people are listening.
Disabled activists are taking to social media throughout this election, trying to encourage discussion of stories in regards to disability. As a person with autism, mental health issues and chronic joint pain, whilst I’m in a situation where constant care by others may not be needed, I do need to keep eyes on my situation at all times. I’m lucky, in this regard, but my activism ruins my mental health. I can deal with sprains and strains, I can handle my social incapabilities, but cuts? Cuts to services and assistance means that those around me lose everything. How long until my family – with my dad utilising Motability support to get around – is next? It’s a constant fear. It’s a very real situation, and one I cannot stand the thought of.
This is why I implore you all to vote.
I know first-hand how tired you are. I want to sleep through this entire election period, but I won’t. I don’t necessarily mean you need to remain wholly active – take breaks. Care for yourself. Take time out. You come first, your wellbeing comes first. But, please, get out there and vote, encourage your friends to vote, your family to vote, explain to them that people are dying because of the current government.
Explain to them that because of current government policy, disabled people mightn’t be able to actually get out and vote, should they lose their motability vehicles, their carers or their support.
Explain to them that because of current attitudes, disabled asylum seekers such as Kelechi Chioba fear for their security within the UK, should they have to put a hold on their studies.
Explain to them that we fear for more than our financial situation, our homes, some jobs.
We are in fear of losing our lives.
Think of that when you hit the ballot box.