Disabled People and the General Election
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This article was published in Solidarity 360.

 

By Janine Booth, co-Chair, TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee (personal capacity)

Over the last five years, the Tory-led government has targeted disabled people with cuts in benefits, closure of services, and attacks on jobs — backed up by a nasty ideological campaign to portray disabled people as “‘scroungers”‘, which has led to an increase in harassment and abuse. Getting rid of the Tories is literally a matter of life and death for some disabled people.

DPAC: The Revenge Tour

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is holding “‘a fortnight of Fight Back and telling politicians throughout the UK what we think of them and what they must do if they want our votes.”‘

Headline protests are targeting employment minister Esther McVey (Wirral, 23 April) and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford, 25 April), who have both incurred the fury of disabled people by their relentless attacks on benefits, rights and services. Local campaigners in other areas are organising further actions.

DPAC is asking people to join these protests and organise their own, and is offering some help with travel costs. Email DPAChere.

More information: DPAC Revenge Tour

The LibDems: Champions of Mental Health?

The Lib Dems are pitching for votes by claiming to be the party that will deliver better services for people with mental health problems.

But for five years, this party has been part of a coalition government which has caused huge distress to people and then deprived them of the services and benefits they need. The Lib Dems are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Questioning Candidates

The Trade Union Congress Disabled Workers’ Committee has compiled a set of general election questions. Activists are putting these questions to candidates in order to show disabled people who is and is not on their side, to expose those who are not and to nail down promises from those who may be in power come 8 May. Questions cover: the social model of disability; the Equality Duty; employment rights; Access to Work; jobs; stigma and prejudice; demonisation and hate crime; benefits; independent living; education; education; accessible transport; and participation of of disabled people in decision-making.

You can download the questions from the TUC website’s disability section.

Does Labour Want Our Votes?

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s work and pensions spokesperson, angered many people when she declared in an interview that Labour is “‘not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work.”‘ She acknowledged,that the Labour Party was “‘formed for and by working people”‘, but wilfully misinterpreted this as excluding people who are not currently employed, for example because of disability discrimination or mass unemployment. 

Disabled people deserve better than this from Labour, and — if it does win the election — will be mobilising to demand that Labour immediately reverse Tory/LibDem attacks.