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Why Francesca Martinez’s viral Question Time video on disability can’t go ignored

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Hollie Richardson
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Twitter is praising comedian Francesca Martinez after she powerfully described the impact of austerity on people living with a disability in the UK.

Comedian, writer and campaigner Francesca Martinez has said the government has “blood on their hands” over its treatment of people living with a disability in the UK during an appearance on Question Time. The clip of Martinez’s powerful speech has since gone viral, with the internet praising her for calling out how austerity continues to impact the lives of so many people.

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According to a 2018 report on disabled women and austerity by Women’s Budget Group, 14 million people in the UK live with a disability which includes 23% of the female population. Only 7% of disabled people are in employment, disabled women earn less (22.1%) than non-disabled men and 26% of households with a disabled person are in poverty. It also found that people with a disability have been disproportionately affected by austerity cuts since 2010, and spending cuts to adult social care and housing support have contributed to the huge problem.

“Austerity has caused the death of over 130,000 human beings in Britain. That is absolutely outrageous. That is 130,000 mums and dads, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles who have died because the Tories and the Lib Dems decided to make ordinary people pay for a crash caused by bankers who we bailed out,” said Martinez, who lives with Cerebral Palsy.

“My final point – as a wobbly woman – is I have to highlight the tens and thousands of disabled people, and sick people, who have died after being found fit for work. Now we are one of the richest countries in the world and this is absolutely outrageous.

“Even the UN has found Tory reform a violation of disabled people’s rights. Anyone can become disabled or sick at any time. Right now, this government is taking away this safety net we have fought for people in need.

“Whatever your politics, you can agree that punishing disabled people and sick people for falling on hard times is absolutely morally wrong and they have blood on their hands.”

Many viewers are describing Martinez’s appearance as one of the greatest moments on Question Time.

“Brilliant. Francesca Martinez dropping truth bomb after truth bomb on #bbcqt and veering off script to cut through the crap. LOVE HER,” tweeted one viewer.

Another added: “Francesca Martinez (@chessmartinez) is in the frame to be the most eloquent person I’ve ever heard on @bbcquestiontime. The fact that you find her delivery challenging, Roger Young, says an awful lot more about you than it does about her. Go Francesca. You genuinely made my night.”

“Francesca Martinez - please become an MP. We need people like you with integrity and intelligence. #QuestionTime,” wrote a third.

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A fourth woman shared her own relatable experience, writing: “Couldn’t have said it better myself. I was fit, well, working full-time and paying my way. I continue to work full time with MS because I couldn’t get help. Now I’ve had to stop working due to cancer, I have to beg for every penny I put in the pot.”

Whether or not you agree with staunch Labour supporter Martinez’s politics, it’s hard to ignore the facts behind her powerful speech and the need to implement more supportive policies for people living with a disability. 

Image: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

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