Thursday, 28 February 2013

Response to the Daily Mail Cartoon debacle.


Just a quick post today. So, on 25th February, the Daily Mail published this cartoon, accompanying the article discussing how many disabled people are rushing to claim Disability Living Allowance before it is phased out to make way for it's replacement, PIP. 

Understandably this cartoon caused fury and outrage amongst social networking sites. In fact, I was so infuriated by what I saw as disabilist propaganda, that I felt moved to complain to the cartoonist, as well as report this to the Press Complaints Comission. I know we have come to expect such atrocities as this from the Daily Mail, but I have had just about enough. Disabled people are suffering disproportionately with austerity, and we are constantly being demonised and stigmatised by the likes of this vile paper that I lost my patience and bit back. 

Anyway, I sent an email explaining that not only was this cartoon offensive, it was also wholly inaccurate. Now, my condition is permanent, it's incurable and impacts greatly on my life. I have been through the process of applying numerous times, (in fact since I was a child) and every few years the DWP make me jump through hoops, to prove that my cerebral palsy hasn't spontaeously got better, and that my care needs, and mobility needs are still the same. Whilst I think it's a bit ridicuclous I am continually reassessed given my condition, I can in someways understand it. It still doesn't excuse the fact it creates much stress and uncertainity. Also, DLA. doesn't make it better. It doesn't get rid of the pain, the tiredness or the inability to do certain things that comes with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I should note that, although I have long since accepted my disability, and I am proud and happy to be who I am, I HATE relying on state support. I hate admitting that I need help every single day. I don't think I'll ever get used to that. Anyway I am majorly digressing, I decided to blog the response from the email, since tweeters were asking what the response was, and it's a little difficult on twitter to reduce it to 140 characters.

So here was the response:

Dear Ms Jones

Many thanks for contacting our cartoonist, Jonathan Pugh.  Both he and the Mail sincerely regret if you found his cartoon, regarding the Disability Living Allowance, offensive.

His sole intention was to mock those who claim that the DLA system is such an easy touch and the minority who aim to abuse the system to the detriment of genuine claimants.  It is the role of the cartoonists to satirize and provoke. By suggesting something so preposterous the cartoonist hoped to make it abundantly clear that the idea of someone claiming for a blister was a joke. Neither he nor we were implying that genuine claimants should not be fully supported.

Nevertheless, we appreciate you taking the time and trouble to respond to us and we have taken your concerns on board.

Now, whilst I appreciate the response, I am not impressed. I totally missed this interpretation of the cartoon. Given the Daily Mail's reputation for being grossly inaccuarate and misleading on disability welfare issues, I do not for a minute agree with this response. I also don't think that the majority readers will see the purpose of this cartoon. If their commments are anything to go by, they already ignorantly think claiming DLA is an easy process, with the disability benefit handed out for the most trivial of ailments. 

I still think I was right to complain and to be upset by it. I guess it's all a matter of interpretation. 



  1. Getting DLA is as easy as asking for it, if asking for it means filling in lots of paperwork and getting evidence from supporting health professionals. If the cartoon showed what the masses think (and by association, the Tories who like to jump on any passing bandwagon), then it's no wonder we're in such a mess.

  2. The Mail's response to your letter implies they believe in nested levels of satire in the cartoon. Without wishing to be prejudiced against a typical Mail reader, I doubt he or she would readily appreciate all the nuances of such multi-layered comedy.