Mark Steel: A clear case of attack by wheelchair

Share
Related Topics

The police like to set their public relations department a special Christmas challenge, don't they? Because that's the only explanation for them being filmed on the anti-fees demonstration, chucking a disabled man out of his wheelchair and shoving him along the road, unless it was to enjoy telling their PR team, "Stick a positive spin on that for us, could you?"

Ben Brown of the BBC tried his best, when he interviewed Jody McIntyre, the man who was dislodged, and said aggressively: "There's a suggestion that you were rolling in the direction of the police." Now, let's suppose this was the case (which I can't help but doubt), how much force is needed, I wonder, to stop a man with cerebral palsy who keeps rolling, even when asked to stop?

Presumably the police turned to each other in shock, spluttering: "Oh my God, he's rolling straight for us. These riot shields and helmets with visors offer woefully inadequate protection against such a persistent rolling machine. If we're lucky our batons can buy us some time, but his momentum is terrifying, it's like a cerebral palsy tsunami."

Maybe this is how to win in Afghanistan. We recruit a multiple sclerosis battalion to roll mercilessly through Helmand province and the Taliban will run away shrieking in fear.

Even as they showed the film on the news, Ben Brown said it "appeared to show Mr Mcintyre being pulled from his wheelchair", with a lingering ambiguous "appeared", as if he was going to add: "but it turned out to be a stunt staged by Derren Brown. We were misled by the power of suggestion, and when you look more closely you can see it's a butterfly landing on a petal."

This process started on the day of the demonstration, when live footage of mounted police charging into the crowd and swinging batons was accompanied by a reporter saying: "It looks as if the crowd are getting restless." This is a common disorder among news reporters, which ought to have a name such as "Confused Baton Charge Back-to-Front Bashed and Basher Syndrome". Sufferers would make novel boxing commentators, saying: "Audley Harrison is lashing out with tremendous aggression there as he stares with a blank, concussed expression into the paramedic's torch."

They might also consider Alfie Meadows, who was so restless he ended up in hospital in a critical condition, having a brain operation after being whacked with a police truncheon. It has also emerged that, when he arrived there, the police insisted he should be taken somewhere else as that hospital was to be used only by their officers. So there seems to be a misunderstanding of how hospitals work, with the Metropolitan Police under the impression they have the same system as restaurants. So you arrive unconscious, then a porter says, "Do you have a reservation?" But if it's busy you get told, "I'm sorry sir, we're fully booked this evening. The police have taken all three wards I'm afraid, but if you survive the night you're welcome to see if we've a brain surgeon available tomorrow."

And yet most coverage of the demonstration has surrounded the violence of the students. Maybe this is because most reporters and politicians believe with such fervour the police are innately honourable, and demonstrators are troublesome, they can't help but see such a one-sided view. But imagine the uproar if a policeman had needed a brain operation after being hit by a student, or if students announced that following recent events they were investigating getting a water cannon, or that a reporter might angrily ask Camilla, "But there's been a suggestion you were rolling towards the demonstrators."

Or maybe the incident with Jody McIntyre is nothing to do with students, and this is the new test for anyone on disability benefit. The police sling you on the floor, poke you about a bit, and if you manage to roll anywhere, there is clearly nothing wrong with you and you get your payments cut.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Year 5/6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Permanent Year 6 TeacherThe job:This...

KS1 & KS2 Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: KS1+KS2 Teachers required ASAP for l...

Year 2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 2 Teacher The position is to wo...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: Waking up to my 4am witching hour of worry

Rebecca Armstrong
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past