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George Osborne refers to welfare claimants as “sleeping off a life on benefits” in speech to Conservative party conference.

What: Osborne tells the Conservative party conference: “Where is the fairness, we ask, for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?”

Why significant: The speech became notorious among disabled people for these comments, as many pointed out the good reasons why many disabled people would have their blinds or curtains closed early in the morning, related to both their impairments and the crisis in social care. Adrian Berrill-Cox, a disabled barrister who had stood for the Conservative party at the general election in Islington North, says he is concerned about the “collateral damage” that could be caused by Osborne’s words, that “stigmatisation is something we have to be extremely careful about” and that people might be “incited” to abuse disabled benefits claimants because of a “misunderstanding” of Osborne’s words.


George Osbornes Speech Conservative Conference full text, 2012
'Conservative conference: Osborne’s speech risks ‘collateral damage’, says Tory', Pring, 2012