Disability Labour Questions for Deputy Leader Candidates - Angela Eagle
Why should disabled people vote for The Labour Party at the next general election?
The Labour Party has always campaigned for equal rights for all and against any form of discrimination and bigotry. It was Labour that established civil rights for disabled people in law and we had begun to make them a reality. Unfortunately since 2010 all this progress has been lost and prospects for disabled people have gone backwards. The independent Living Funds have been abolished, motobility is being cut and support for disabled people in our social security system is being decimated. The Governments' nasty divisive rhetoric about 'scroungers' on benefit have fuelled a huge increase in disability hate crime which is very worrying indeed. The only way to return to an agenda where civil rights for disabled people can be advanced is to have a Labour Government which recognises once more that we create a fairer society if we allow the full participation by right of those 1:10 people in our country who suffer from some kind of disability. To me it is the essence of what a civilised country should be doing.
What policies will you champion which will assure disabled people that a Labour Government is best placed to promote the rights of disabled people in society?
We need to enable disabled people to access their civil rights in a practical way. This covers all aspects of the current challenges faced by those with disabilities and their carers. For example If transport systems are out of reach to those with mobility issues, that is an enormous restriction of their life opportunities which impoverishes our society as well as their chances for employment and fulfilment. We need to tackle negative attitudes to those with disabilities in wider society too. For example, people with learning difficulties deserve to be facilitated to achieve independence if possible as much as those with physical disabilities. We have a very long way to go in achieving this aim and huge cuts to local authority funding is currently making a bad situation worse. Finally rights in law count for nothing if they are not enforced. The Government's huge cuts to the ECHR and their introduction of employment tribunal fees have made it much harder for those who have been discriminated against to do anything about it much less get redress. We therefore have to ensure that more proactive enforcement of the law is a keystone to any future Labour administration.
Disabled Candidates: What measures would you implement as Deputy Leader to ensure that disabled people are able to stand as candidates and hold political office?
As a lifelong campaigner for equality I believe that disability equal rights are one of the remaining great emancipations we have yet to achieve. I have always been a champion for equality and diversity within the Labour Party. I would be very open to any suggestions disability Labour might wish to make about how we could open up our selection procedures and make it easier for those with disabilities to be successful as candidates and officeholders at all level of our party. I am a well known supporter of positive action and self organisation when it comes to advancing the cause of representation for many groups in the Labour Party who are currently under represented be it women, LGBT people or BAME communities. Clearly accessible meeting places are an important requirement as is being disability aware as an organisation.
What will you do as Deputy Leader to promote the inclusion of disabled members in all areas of party activities?
The principle of inclusion is an important part of Labour values and we have to work to make it a reality for all our membership. As Deputy Leader I think an important first step would be to listen to the issues which most affect our disabled members and work to see how they can be practically resolved. In this it would be important to work with Disability Labour to find practical answers to the issues identified and then organise a more proactive campaign to recruit and include more people with disabilities into our ranks and facilitate their enthusiastic involvement and contribution.