Tanni Grey-Thompson, the former Paralympic athlete now in the Lords, spoke to the Telegraph about a recent experience on a train, when she was forced to throw her chair to the platform and crawl off the train because there was no one to help her on the platform or train:

‘As a disabled person travelling you always have an element of fear, feeling very uncomfortable, of panic, of just wondering whether you’re going to get off. I think it is fair to say that a lot of disabled people feel like second class passengers because they don’t have the same treatment as everyone else. I don’t expect to be swept in to first class and treated better than everyone else – I expect to have the same experience, and that is often just not the case.’

Pretty fair, I’d say. What do Daily Mail commenters have to say?

I used to be very sympathetic to people like this lady, but after having numerous incidents where disabled people behaved in a most arrogant and demanding manner including queue jumping, and using their disability to get preferential holiday time I just let em get on with life. They demanded and rightly received equality in law, so I just treat them the same as everyone else now. – Parent, Co Durham AGREE 100%,. best made point of the day. These people cannot have it both ways. Very very well said.
– Jonathon, N.London, 26/3/2012 10:45


We have been hearing for years that everyone is equal, now she wants special treatment the cry is different. I always help if I can, but more times than I care to remember, the disabled person has given me abuse for trying to help them……..you can’t have it both ways.
– James 001, West of Nowhere, 26/3/2012 10:52


The huge cost that disability has added to everyone’s burden over recent years doesn’t help public sympathy for you. Also you can afford any means of transport and help, why expect it? Your outdated romantic view of charity is your problem; and lets face it how long before it’s illegal not to help?
– Andy, Bath, 26/3/2012 10:49

Illegal not to help. Tyranny.

I find it odd that this Woman expects to be treated the same as everyone else.Yet as far as I can see she has been as no one helps able bodied people either. She’s received exactly as she asked for.What she is in fact demanding is special attention and moaning about not getting it.
– Andy, Norway, 26/3/2012 11:25

Thanks, “Andy”

If one is disabled it is important to organise ones life more prudently. Getting off a train at midnight is not the best of an idea. May I humbly suggest that too many disadvantaged people expect everything to be handed to them on a plate , and that there could be a slight degree of arrogance involved.
– Malachy, Belfast, 26/3/2012 12:17

The arrogance of crawling unassisted off a train at midnight.

she did get the same treatment as every one else. know one helps me of the train
– Sue Previsor, Doncaster CC HSE, 26/3/2012 12:17

Are you in a wheelchair, Sue? Or just allergic to logic?

It may not be PC but the railways and the underground are not a taxi service. The staff when available are always unfailingly considering of disabled people but they cannot be expected to provide a continuous butler service to everybody who travels. If we equipped all train to cope with someone with Ms G-T’s disabilities why should it end there? What about people who cannot even move at all? or speak or live without apparatus? The sad fact of life is you can only go so far to accommodate diabilities. You cannot put an escalator up Everest.
– Andy, Portsmouth, 26/3/2012 12:28

You want to live a life that doesn’t involve abject humiliation when commuting? PC gone mad.

Hang on. These people fought for equal rights. And rightly got them. They are entitled to equal pay, equal everything as far as I can see. When they have a bad experience they run to the papers. I only ever see tanni in the papers when she is rubbishing able bodied people. If i was to rubbish disabled people the way she is complaining about able-bodied people there would be holy war. Where are my equal rights??????
– Luca, France, 26/3/2012 12:35

I don’t know about you, but I get the impression Luca’s a white, straight bloke. What about his equal rights?

Dear DM. I had a bad experience at Croke Park recently. I didnt get priority booking. I didnt get priority seating. I didnt get parking at the front door. Nobody held the door open for me. Nobody carried my food and drink for me. please please will you write a story about me – you did a story about this lady so its only fair – I think they call it equality.
– Patrick, Leinster, 26/3/2012 12:38

Oh, Patrick, poor love. Buy a new dictionary.

What about able bodied men in this world. Where have our rights gone ?
– Arthur, Stoke, 26/3/2012 12:46

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh god, my soul has died.

And she is a Baroness because??? 11 gold medals does not justify a title!– Pete, Midlands, UK (not EU), 26/3/2012 12:15——————And the ironic thing is that they do not race in ‘wheelchairs’ – they are specially built very expensive machines that make it extremely easy to race. Where is the achievement in that ? I would like to see them race in actual wheelchairs.
– Sam, Manchester, 26/3/2012 13:15

Would you, Sam?

They could put a little cattle type wagon with a big ramp on the back of every train where all the wheelies can travel together so they don’t feel so different. – Bill, NY, 26/3/2012

Thanks, Bill. Nothing screams inclusivity like being hidden in a cattle wagon and called “wheelies”.

And yes, it’s easy to roll your eyes and say the bottom half of the Internet isn’t representative of public opinion. But the Daily Mail do moderate their comments, and the ones above are those that have been deemed inoffensive enough to stay up. Several comments, since taken down, suggested that wheelchair users lead a cushy life, and that they should be made to wait until no able-bodied people need serving in a supermarket or post-office because they have a “comfy chair” that able-bodied people are denied. I’ve had enough bad experiences on public transport, when I’ve had seizures and people have left me for three stops before calling for help, or the time a bus driver who refused to stop was chased by an ambulance and screamed at by a doctor on board, to know that these opinions are common. So really, it’s no wonder the government’s onslaught on disability rights is moving on apace.

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57 thoughts on “A Little Respect.

  1. I was feeling all happy and sunshiney today. But now I feel really sad about poor Andy from Bath, and his huge burden. It must be quite a weight Andy. I feel for you man.

  2. “And the ironic thing is that they do not race in ‘wheelchairs’ – they are specially built very expensive machines that make it extremely easy to race. Where is the achievement in that ? I would like to see them race in actual wheelchairs.”

    Similarly, I see the runners in the Olympics are wearing very expensive fancy shoes that make it extremely easy to race. They get hardly any shin splints or compound fractures at all! I would like to see them race in brogues.

    • “I would like to see them race in actual wheelchairs” is surely the MISSED THE POINT, PAL quote of the day.

  3. O M G! Really are there still people like this in the world! That turn equality into a dirty word!
    I hope none of them experience disability in any of its forms!

  4. I imagine all these people frothing about ‘special treatment’ also pitch a fit when no one helps them with their buggy or lets the little old lady sit down on the bus, because that would be ‘Broken Britain’ whereas this is ‘PC gone mad’…

    And don’t even start me on the misrepresentation of benefits on that thread. Apparently all disabled people get bars of gold bullion each week while Mail readers slave their fingers to the bone, and thus the disabled should vacate public transport and travel by bejwelled sedan chair instead.

    If this is the level of vitriol toward a ‘proper’ visibly disabled person with a job and everything, can you imagine the baying if a ‘scrounger’ wanted to get off the train without crawling?

  5. I saw Helena Kennedy QC speak recently about equality. She was speaking specifically with regards to equality for women but her comments are just as valid here.

    She says that equal treatment does not bring equality. For people to have equal rights it’s not the same thing as treating them the same – there is no neutrality. You have to look at context of a person or group’s history or needs and adjust treatment to give them equal rights, or substantive equality. You have to look at big picture of fairness for all.

    You can’t, as these people seem to think, just say ‘well she’s being treated the same as everyone else’ as that doesn’t give her equal rights – to dignity, to public transport etc.

  6. Unbelievable. That anyone could argue against someone complaining that she had to throw her wheelchair off a train and crawl after it is disgusting. I am happy to report that NO-ONE in my life would dream of doing this. And that is probably because they possess the kind of empathy that involves caring about other people and also the imagination that can picture, as another poster pointed out, being in that situation through illness, old age or accident.

  7. Might I suggest separate carriages for Daily Mail readers? It would help the rest of us to identify them more easily so we can steer well clear.

    I’m really trying to think of something funny to say about putting an escalator up Everest but I have to keep stopping to shake my head slowly.

  8. And when Osborne publishes his extremely bigoted tax pie chart, expect it to get a lot worse very quickly.

    I’m staggered by the morons who complained that the able-bodied don’t get help, though, completely missing the point that they don’t need it! The rest, sadly, I long since stopped being surprised by – they’ve been out there a long time, though they’re not spread as thinly as they once were, thanks to Murdoch’s paywalls, and they do tend to cluster at the Mail.

    Sadly, though, this is what the Daily Mail gets you, but it does rather make me wonder how much these clowns are contributing to society, themselves, when they can apparently spend half their lives posting abuse online? Because it’s not just the Mail, it’s pretty much any paper with comments pages and no paywall. The only – small – consolation is that a percentage of these psychos will be whacked with the disability stick at some point – I don’t think they’ll enjoy it much.

    I also have a very strong feeling that some of these apologies for human beings who infest comments pages are, in fact, Tory sock puppets. Or, rather, Cameron’s, since it’s his totally insane hatred of the sick and disabled that’s driving the increasing public hatred.

    As to what motivates him, I believe he hates us for being alive when his late son, Ivan, is not, and for “prospering” – according to his perverted perception – on state benefits. I also think that Ivan’s disability is being used as a benchmark, against which we are all judged and, almost inevitably, found wanting. How else to account for the obscene, lunatic, decisions made by Atos?

    And if that’s not true, then I fear he’s just a plain, old fashioned, psychopath.

    (Note: These are my own opinions, not those of the blog owner.)

  9. I for one would be most upset if any of these charmingly forthright individuals were to end up in a wheelchair.

  10. Who wants to tell “Sam” from Manchester that F1 is raced in *really* expensive cars that the drivers aren’t even peddling themselves, but are powered by motors and petrol?

    More seriously, I think what comes through these comments is a mentality that thinks ableist discrimination is all about actively abusing people with disabilities.

  11. Ah, the legacy of Thatcher, how to live our lives the Daily mail reader way! The “cattle wagons” these selfish excuses for human beings refer to to were what the SS used to ferry the “worthless” (disabled and sick) to the gas chambers in. I just hope irony does not prevail or we will soon hear them yelping should they have accidents or disabling illnesses.

  12. At night, they turn on all the lights on the platform at my local station. They do it because most humans can’t see too well in the dark, and would be unable to use the railways safely or effectively if they couldn’t see where they were going.

    Maybe the DM commenters would like to think about this before making their totally logically redundant link between ‘adequate provision for everybody to use public transport safely and effectively’ and ‘ 5* special treatment’.

    Great post and solidarity with everyone fighting ableism and hate crime in all its forms.

    Who wants to tell “Sam” from Manchester that F1 is raced in *really* expensive cars that the drivers aren’t even peddling themselves, but are powered by motors and petrol?

  13. It’s true then: the Daily Mail, not so much a newspaper as spite spat on dead trees!
    Things like this make me despair for the human race!
    Lorihalford is right, equality is not truly about being treated the same. It is about treating people in a way that levels the playing field!
    Something tells me these people will never learn that though!

  14. It should possibly be pointed out that this is not “the bottom half of the Internet” but “the bottom half of dailymail.co.uk”. If you want to find the vilest, most spiteful and angry morons in the world, that’s your place.

    If you want to find them in real life, just look for someone reading the a print copy of the Mail. Just be careful, they’re liable to be even worse – after all, the internet version is free, but the dead-tree model costs money.

  15. Wow, the points about “them” wanting equality and now “they” have it would be fair enough if it wasn’t for the fact that the trains are obviously not built for people in wheelchairs. So this lady was obviously not being treated equally.

    Is it too much to ask the privately owned companies that squeeze every ast drop of cash out of commumters whilst putting very little back in to provide a ramp and (if needed) some assistance?

  16. I wish I was more surprised by these comments, but sadly quite a few people do still hold such negative and uninformed views. What I find truly sinister about these sorts of views is the sheer strength of anger and vitriol in the way people express their views. Quite terrifying. Ignorance and abuse all tied up with a nice self-righteous bow.

  17. I have an annoying disability that fluctuates. A while back, I had to use a wheelchair for some months. The first week, I was thrilled to be able to get out and about in relative comfort. The second week, the novelty wore off and by the third week, I had become one of those ungrateful, snarly disabled people you hear about.

    The reason? Being treated like an inconvenient, in the way, fire hazard. Having able bodied people regularly trip over my chair and almost end up in my lap because they weren’t looking where they were going and then blaming *me* for the mishap. And the number of people who seemed unaware that I couldn’t move *sideways* in my chair. Thankfully, nobody accused me of wanting special privileges when I needed help, and most people were kind and helpful, although not always in the way I needed (moving my chair without asking me, for instance).

    I would like to put every single one of those Daily Mail readers in a wheelchair for 6 weeks (but I wouldn’t tell them how long it was going to be). Maybe that would give them more than the empathy of a rock.

  18. And most Daily Mail readers will be quick to point out that their forebears fought in the war to save this country from um … urrr …. Nazis.

  19. I have MS so there is a possibility I will be in a wheelchair one day, I hope to god that the world has changed by then, because reading those comments fills me with despair.

  20. Not surprised that these are the views of the Daily Bigot. It’s sole intent is to help people who aren’t victims justify their self obsessed moaninb about how hard done by they are. This doesn’t split down party lines neatly either. Sadly any country has a significant minority of people who will happily help fill the ‘cattle wagons’ with the weak and disadvantaged, or just the chosen scapegoats. Then they say they were ‘only following orders’.

  21. Oh dear

    I think a certain blogger needs to be introduced to the concept of Red Arrowing on the notoriously unmoderated Daily Mail forums.
    I would hazard a guess that every single one of those comments was written tongue in cheek with the express purpose of getting as high a red arrow count.
    People (sad as they are) like to collect them and compete with other online friends, whilst at the same time perpetuating the myth of the evil Daily Mail reader.

    • oh well sam, as long as there’s a good reason for negative comments and attitudes towards disabled people and their desire to not be stuck in cattle trucks or left at home where they aren’t costing anybody anything (especially kindness).

      • I didn’t (and don’t) condone the behavior, its little more than trolling if you ask me!

      • And this is the best rated comment – getting double the number of votes compared to the comments quoted on here which have all been vigorously down voted:

        “In Germany it is the conductor’s responsibility to assist wheelchair passengers. On the main stations there are special wheelchair lifts which the conductor phones ahead to arrange. On the underground trains the wheelchair passengers board in the first carriage, and the driver hops out of his cab and positions a ramp across the gap. Bus and tram drivers also provide this service. It is no big drama. Why can’t Britain learn from other countries which have found solutions to these problems?”

  22. Well some of the first DM comments are quite truthful – offering to help is like being told you can’t do something yourself followed by a verbal strop at the person offering assistance.

    Maybe not everyone, but enough to give a general view to people willing to help not to bother.

    You can’t win, so better of not trying.

  23. Amazing use of English “wheelies”, “these people”, “cattle trucks”, We’ve legislated against Race, Gender, Gender Assignment, Sexuality, Religion. May be Disability Rights, is the last bastion of the ignorant fools, bigoted idiots, who don’t realise that one accident, a disease, a virus, could make any of them disabled or disadvantaged in an instant. That’s why I pity them more than anything else. No idea of real life, they go through life looking to spill their vitriol on websites like the Daily Mail, with no real consideration of the effects they have people. By the way, they will be the first to complain and whinge at what life has thrown at them if the proverbial poo hit the fan.
    What they don’t understand that equality, doesn’t mean equal per se. But equal in fundamental worth or social status, this requires society sometimes to give extra help for people to allow them to be equal.
    Sorry but it will take more than a comment to explain my feelings about this, but hopefully it helps

  24. Sadly ‘temporary’ Able Bodied ignorant people won’t realise the complexity and difficulties of everyday life, until they are either elderly, infirm or become less abled themselves.
    I’ve always been of the opinion I might have been lucky enough to be born able bodied but it’s only a matter of time!
    I also never read the Daily Fail newspaper – makes my blood boil.

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  26. The thing that I find astounding is that I have been helped by strangers on trains, many, many times. If I’ve been travelling with large bulky bags there has generally been someone who offers to help me get it off the train, without me asking or looking for help. I find it impossible to understand these people who don’t think it’s right to help someone that needs helping – disabled or not.

  27. Yeah, if I see someone struggling with heavy bags, or maybe a box too large for them, I offer assistance, just don’t wade in and take over without asking.

    Sure some get offended if you just grab their wheelchair handles and start scooting them around, but you just need to ask if they’d like some help. Same way that if you walk up to someone and pick up a couple of their bags of shopping without a word they might think you’re about to run off!

    Of course, this is Daily Mail readers we’re talking about, who’d happily have a leg hacked off at the hip if it meant both legs were cut off foreigners and welfare claimaints.

    ‘Equality’ should mean you offer assistance to anyone who looks like they could use it, not being a dick to everyone. I realise both example ‘fit’ but there’s a good and bad option, what a surprise Mailites choose the latter.

  28. Dawn, stop paying attention to the people who comment on Daily Mail articles. It is an activity that can only lead to anguish and despair. Console yourself with the knowledge that whilst they’re venting their indignant-majority rage, they’re not actually imposing their blinkered will upon others.

  29. Some of the responses were shocking indeed in their ignorance (mostly) and hate (some). There was a distinct view that some people simply do not think – at all – about what they’re saying. We already knew that this was the case, from talking to disabled people across the UK, and because abuse from passengers on public transport came up as pretty common in our research. Only by raising these issues and helping people to understand what the situation really is can we have a hope of getting through to them.
    On the plus side there were lots of very positive, supportive messages on the Daily Mail piece too. There is still hope!

  30. The “wheelies” “oldies” and “crips” are yelling “Cushy life? I wish! try bring in agony, immobile, and vulnerable 24/7 until you die. Taxi, car, bus, train or plane, it’s never £€@&ing cushy!”

  31. Funny how Daily Mail readers support forcing as many disabled people as possible into work, but don’t want them to be able to get to work easily and promptly using accessible transport.

  32. I think the Daily Mail should go forth and multiply. I have been looking for a job for ages, two years nearly, and my brothers are in the same position. We may well not even get shop work, because the local high street is starting to look like it’s ready for demolition with so many empty buildings, and even the city centre has something else closed down every time I go there. I DO NOT APPRECIATE being told that unemployed people are scroungers, not bothering to look for a job, or have plasma screen TVs, and I know the attitude to the disabled is much the same >:-(

  33. Its tragic, to say the least. Even in India we have had instances of disabled being treated unfairly by airline companies. Humanity is running short of tolerance, if nothing else.

    Thank you for the post.

  34. We have to build on this incident to create a major education programme to show people what it’s like to use a wheelchair every day.

    I feel this incident may impact people with mobility issues who are maybe getting a little older or have conditions like MS and should be thinking about using a wheelchair to give them more freedom to get out and about, more than it will Tanni, me and other regular wheelchair users, who have got used to dealing with situations like Tanni encountered.

    Resisting making the move into a wheelchair could impact their quality of life, perhaps putting a greater burden on the already stretched NHS coffers.

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