The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is constantly in the news. It is also frequently the subject of protests. So far, people have struggled to change the notorious department’s ways. But now, activists have launched a new campaign. And they’re calling for a “Welfare Rebellion”.
The DWP: time to rebel
Alex Tiffin is the writer behind the Universal Credit Sufferer website. A claimant himself, he writes about the DWP and welfare-related issues. But now, he’s turned his attention to campaigning.
As he wrote on his website, he thinks we need a Welfare Rebellion. He said:
On average 48 people die a day because of austerity, that’s roughly 16,000 a year. To me, even 1 death because of a political choice is too much. That’s why I’m calling for what I am calling a Welfare Rebellion. The #PeoplesVote march proved that A to B protests matter little to the government. Therefore, we need a more proactive campaign.
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You may have heard of the climate campaign group Extinction Rebellion (ER) and their highly public campaign in London over the past few weeks. Through peaceful non-violent acts of civil disobedience, they have gridlocked central London and blockaded government buildings amongst other things. People are talking about it.
And it’s Extinction Rebellion’s methods that inspired Tiffin. He told The Canary:
After seeing Extinction Rebellion and their highly effective campaign, I asked why people aren’t doing something similar about the effects of austerity. People are literally dying, yet it’s a struggle to get people out as those affected are usually vulnerable or unable to.
Most campaigns always centre on London, and I 100% do not want that.
We need to act up and down the UK. Disrupting one city is an inconvenience; doing it nationwide will have to draw a government response. Marching up and down does nothing.
So he conceived Welfare Rebellion, and with good reason.
The DWP has been the subject of numerous scandals. There was the “Kill Yourself” furore over Work Capability Assessors asking claimants why they hadn’t killed themselves. Then there were six court cases in a year. We’ve also had four damning UN reports, and the recent visit from its special rapporteur on extreme poverty. So the department is failing on multiple counts.
But Tiffin wants the Welfare Rebellion to go further than just the DWP. He told The Canary:
We need an end to austerity and the government that brought it in. We need people to realise there’s a victim of austerity on every street – they all know someone who’s been affected – and that they have a moral duty to call for the punitive and damaging policies to end.
What a lot of people from all groups don’t get is yes, Brexit is coming – but people have been dying every day and we still don’t act.
Everyone is welcome
So he wants the Welfare Rebellion not just to be about one group, but about the impact of the Tories and their austerity agenda more broadly. He also thinks it shouldn’t just be about protest. The Welfare Rebellion should also be about educating people to the damage the Tories have done to millions of people in the UK. As he says on his website:
Anyone is welcome to take part. That may seem tough for some people however, austerity doesn’t discriminate. Are Tory voters less affected? Possibly, but some will be and their voice is just as important as anyone’s.
So learn to get along for the greater good. We can argue about politics afterwards.
Indeed, Tiffin is adamant that this will be non-party political. He wants individuals, political parties, campaign groups, and trade unions involved. He told The Canary the kind of action he had in mind would be at:
Postal and warehouse hubs; railways (more than usual); jamming government and or important phone lines… Blockading jobcentres… fuel depots and motorways… Actions that will hold [up] more than just an area of a city… but a region. It can be literally anything – that’s the point. If everything is a target, authorities won’t know where to concentrate.
But he also made two points that he believes are important:
Importantly, it MUST be peaceful. Also, we must cooperate with police but more importantly remind them we are doing this for them too. They have been victims of austerity too.
A rebellion is born
And so, the Welfare Rebellion is born. The campaign is still in its infancy, so Tiffin doesn’t want people taking physical action just yet. But he does want people’s ideas, and for them to use the hashtag #WelfareRebellion on Twitter. So make sure you get involved. As Tiffin summed up:
This government, like us, will be judged on our actions to fight for equality. And I for one can’t sit by and watch anymore.
There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who feel like Tiffin. So if you’re one of them – get in touch with him and get involved. If the time for action over the callous Tories and the DWP isn’t now – then when is it? Because it’s already too late for far too many people.
Featured image via Alex Tiffin and UK government – Wikimedia
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