Guest blog: why I support the occupation of Westminster Abbey


This is a guest blog from Lucy, an activist from the UK Uncut London group, about why she is taking action today.

In London protesters targetted a Boots store over their tax avoidance, before moving to join disabled activists in Parliament Square

Today people from UK Uncut are supporting DPAC and Occupy as they occupy the grounds of Westminster Abbey. In this action we are opposing the government’s planned end to the Independent Living Fund. The cuts to this fund will mean that those disabled people with the highest support needs will become prisoners in their own homes or forced into institutions.

The action undertaken today may seem slightly different to the usual UK Uncut action. However, for me this is about working together to demand rights for all – not just the wealthiest or most powerful in society. This is a moment of participatory democracy in which people come together to demand rights.

For me this is personal. I grew up with narratives handed down to me by my family of visceral poverty. My granddad, one of 12, described siblings dying from treatable illnesses; of the ever-present shame and fear of the workhouse; of fear of not having enough to eat, or of being warm enough or of knowing where they would sleep. When he died in 2009 he had paid for his own funeral, the avoidance of what was for him a final shame – the paupers grave.

In his lifetime those fears were replaced with rights – the right to housing, the right to support in old age, the right to support for those who were unwell, the right to support if there was no work, rights to equal access. However imperfect these were rights nonetheless.

Today I take action because I believe that those rights have been eroded and because I do not accept the government’s claim that there is no money to fund vital public services.

I act because I am angry that corporations like Boots are enabled by our government to avoid paying taxes, while disabled people are told that they do not have the right to make decisions about their own care.

I act because I am furious that citizenship has become tied to wealth and not to fundamental rights. I am angry that we are told that the cuts are about creating choice in a market: because what kind of choice is being a prisoner at home or in residential care.

As a UK Uncut protestor I take action to seek tax justice and to ask for alternatives to the cuts. But for me this is not just a movement that seeks tax justice, it’s a movement that demands rights and equality: equality of access to education; to housing; to warmth; to physical safety and to equality before the law.

Last week I spoke to one of the DPAC protestors who will be occupying the Abbey grounds. He told me that it is getting to the stage where all rights have been removed from those with support needs, where people are committing suicide, where people feel hopeless, lost and afraid.

So I take action today in solidarity with all those that seek to put human rights and equality above profits. I take action to demand an end to the degrading, cruel and brutal austerity agenda. Please lend your support to this action and those taking part – because we all deserve those rights for which they fight.