With the next General Election just six months away, Nicky Clark suggests how disabled people and carers can make sure they aren’t forgotten as the campaigning begins…
The political party conference season has come and gone,and with a General Election just around the corner, each party has used their media time, quite naturally, to convince the nation as to their fitness to tell
us all what to do.
Conference season was notable to me, primarily for the comments made by welfare minister Lord Freud. At a Tory party fringe event, Lord Freud was asked by carer and Conservative councillor David Scott whether it was preferable for someone with a disability to be paid less than the minimum wage so that they garner work experience and improve their self esteem.
Political photo ops
Lord Freud replied that there “was no system for going below the minimum wage”, then added: “There is a group – and I know exactly who you mean – where actually, as you say, they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”
Lord Freud subsequently apologised. I do feel it’s a sad indictment of where disabled people and carers are on the political radar. More worryingly is that, when seeking votes, some candidates may see carers and disabled people as a photo op prop – essential in shoring up compassionate candidate credentials yet oddly forgotten
when it comes to framing policy.
So if you are a disabled person or carer and a candidate pitches up to you with the idea that you might like a photograph with them, tell them you might – if they first autograph a small pledge which you feel may be important to your future and the futures of approximately 10million of your fellow citizens:
“I, the undersigned, pledge to endeavor to not just forget disabled people and carers once the election is over, but instead agree to add my name to a list of MPs who are in agreement that no policy which directly affects disabled people and carers should henceforth be drawn up without disabled people and carers.
“I call for a committee of independent disability rights campaigners and groups (with no financial input from government) to be a working group who will oversee all policy decisions directly addressing disabled people and carers in the future. I also agree to be held accountable if the aforementioned group is not assembled
within three months of my election.
“Because I actually do care, and this is just the sort of thing that made me want to be an MP in the first place, not merely all those expenses, which everyone tries not to mention.”
So there it is. A small pledge in exchange for free PR – seems like a good bargain to me.