Robert Walsh

Freelance writer from Cornwall

Disabled People Shunted Aside at Labour Party Conference.

So much for inclusiveness, respect and Labour being the party supporting vulnerable, sick and disabled people. I’d hoped that any post on my 39th birthday would be one of a cheerful nature. Well, sorry, but this one isn’t. I’m peeved. More than that, I’m angry. I shouldn’t be surprised. Labour’s the party with more spin than a washing machine or Pastor Maldonado’s F1 car (or any other car he’s racing, frankly), and I’m not surprised. I’m even more unsurprised than I usually am at the disabled being mistreated, especially by the party that began the process of welfare ‘reform’ and brought us ATOS in spite of ATOS lying in their tender documents before even winning the contract. But I am angry. Very, very angry.

The seats in question at this year’s Labour conference were reserved for disabled people. For people with mobility issues and suchlike. They were NOT reserved for ‘bright young things’ to sit there glad-handing Blue Labour’s leader while the people entitled to occupy them were unceremoniously shunted aside to make way for more photogenic (and presumably less disabled) delegates to make a nice, pretty photo opportunity.

The people occupying that space told the party worker who forced them out that they were supposed to be there. Stewards (who are supposed, after all, to ensure that everybody sits where they’re supposed to at big events) also told the party worker in question this salient piece of information. And what did our fearless party worker do? Made them move anyway so the bright, young, not-photogenic disabled people wouldn’t mess up Ed Milliband’s nice little photo opportunity.

I’d like to say that disabled people going largely ignored in society is a rarity, that I’m as ticked off as I am because it’s so unusual. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Disability hate crime is rising. Public attitudes towards disabled people generally are hardening. The false debate on welfare ‘reform’ (which for IDS seems to consist of saving as much cash as possible to pay for tax cuts come the next election for himself and his millionaire mates) is making things worse, as are ‘reform’ policies such as the hated ‘bedroom tax’ and sanctions seemingly issued to welfare claimants in droves for the most spurious reasons.

This is the thin end of the wedge. A large wedge. A very sharp and unpleasant wedge that digs into the well-being of the disabled everywhere as it’s so typical of what experience all over the country every single day. And what has been Labour’s response? A party spokesperson laughably said this:

“The Labour Party takes access for disabled delegates and visitors at our conference very seriously.”

Hmmm, very, very seriously. So seriously that the spin doctors would rather hide the disabled delegates before doubtless appealing for disabled peoples votes and support at the next election. Well, I hope the support a Labour government would give in return is better than the support they gave their own delegates.

Which was the same kind of support a rope gives to a condemned prisoner.


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