Comedian Francesca Martinez has been praised for a passionate speech she made on Question Time about the effect of austerity on vulnerable people.
Martinez, who has cerebral palsy, spoke out against government budget cuts in a debate about Boris Johnson’s chance of becoming the prime minister.
She argued that the Conservative government had “blood on its hands” over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Austerity has caused the deaths of over 130,000 human beings in Britain. That is absolutely outrageous.
That’s 130,000 mums, dads, daughters, sons, uncles and aunts who have died because the Tories and the Lib Dems decided to make ordinary people pay for a crash that was caused by bankers, who we bailed out.
The 130,000 deaths figure comes from a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which concluded that more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements to public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity.
Anyone can become disabled or sick at any time and right now this government is taking away the safety net that we have fought for collectively over decades to help those in need.
And I think 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.
The speech caught the attention of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who retweeted it this morning.
And Martinez was widely-praised on Twitter for drawing attention to an issue that has fallen behind Brexit and the Conservative Party’s leadership contest in media coverage.
In May, a leading UN poverty expert said that the government’s austerity policies had had “tragic social consequences” and resulted in a “clear violation” of the UK’s human rights obligations.
However, the government has denied those claims by arguing that the UN’s report was a “barely believable documentation of Britain”.
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, also rejected the claim that millions people are living in dire poverty in Britain, although he admitted that people are “struggling with the cost of living”.