Disabled Liberal Democrats believe their party is

first_imgDisabled Liberal Democrats believe their party is capable of winning back voters who feel “justifiably angry” about the disability policies their party signed up to as part of the coalition government.Members of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA) say they are confident that the party’s new leader, Tim Farron, will listen to the party’s grassroots on issues such as social security reform.At annual conferences during the five years of the coalition – and again this week – the party’s grassroots membership voted overwhelmingly for anti-austerity social security policies, such as scrapping the bedroom tax, which were then ignored by the party leadership.George Potter, an LDDA member who played a significant role in ensuring cuts to disability benefits were debated at annual conferences during the five years of the coalition, said LDDA policy motions passed by conference were “swallowed up” by the previous leadership and never heard of again.He said: “Tim Farron has made it clear that he will listen to conference and prioritise what conference says.”He added: “There is a lot of anger [among disabled people] and it is completely justified.“I think there is a hard sell but I am hoping over the next five years we can show we can change the party itself and show we are now being taken seriously.”Gemma Roulston, LDDA’s membership secretary, said: “For the last five years I was thinking, ‘Am I in the right party? Should I go or should I stay?“I almost didn’t vote for [the Liberal Democrats] at the last election. The only thing that has kept me in the party was the LDDA.”Robert Adamson (pictured), a member of the LDDA executive, said he also understood the anger felt by many disabled activists, and admitted that it would be “an uphill battle to regain trust”.He said: “They are angry about coalition policies that came in, and what needs to be shown by the party is that we are not now suddenly saying that all the coalition policies were bad.“What we are saying is that the Conservatives wanted far worse policies and we managed to constrain them.”He suggested that a Conservative majority government would have announced the total closure of the Independent Living Fund in 2010, and cut spending on disability benefits even further and faster than under the coalition.Adamson said: “The work Steve Webb [the Liberal Democrat pensions minister] did to temper the benefit reforms would not have occurred.“Life would have been a hell of a lot worse, and proof of that is that life is getting a hell of a lot worse now.“In coalition, a number of things we achieved are now being undermined as a result of the Liberal Democrats not being in coalition… [with] the dreadful ways the Conservative government are treating and going to treat disabled people and carers.”David Simpson, a disabled Liberal Democrat councillor with Hampshire county council, said: “I understand the anger, of course I do, and thousands of Liberal Democrats were angry as well about what was happening in our name.“We don’t believe the sick and the disabled should have been the ones who were targeted.“I think the party has to show that it does have compassion for the disabled.”He said that “certain things had to be done to get the country out of the mess and sacrifice the party for the country”, but that the Conservatives were now “taking the brakes off” because they “no longer have the drag of the coalition”.He said: “It is death by a thousand cuts. If you are disabled, you are living in fear. What will happen next, what will they cut next?”Potter said he was encouraged by the party’s decision to start work on a plan to “completely overhaul the welfare system from the top to the bottom”, that would lay the groundwork for “a credible, radical, alternative policy” and see a future government “enabling people, supporting them, not just penalising them for their inability to work”.He added: “If the price for that is we get slightly more people gaming the system, that is a price worth paying, if it means we no longer have vulnerable people having their lives destroyed.”Potter said he also believed that being confronted with a parliamentary party of eight middle-aged white men had forced the Liberal Democrats to confront the need for a more diverse selection of candidates to fight winnable general election seats.Potter said former leader Nick Clegg had not really grasped the importance of this issue.He said: “He’s good on rhetoric but when it came down to it he generally surrounded himself with people from very similar backgrounds to himself.“When push came to shove… he spoke about greater diversity but he never put his money where his mouth was.“It is certainly the case that a lot of people in the party, far more than before the general election, are seriously thinking that we need to do a lot more.“Tim Farron has appointed a completely balanced team. At the top we have a leader who grasps the issue.”And he said that Baroness [Sal] Brinton, the party’s new disabled president, was taking the issue of accessibility – including access to buildings and meetings, and to information – “very seriously”.Potter also said that the party had a chance to “make a difference” at council level, by providing or organising support that would “negate the cuts” where the government had failed to do so.He said: “The only way some people will survive the next few years is if local councillors and local authorities step up to the plate.”last_img read more

The UN expert who told the government that its cut

first_imgThe UN expert who told the government that its cuts to disabled people’s support had caused a “human catastrophe” is to visit the UK this autumn to deliver a high-profile lecture on disability rights.Theresia Degener, the professor of law and disability studies who chairs the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, will deliver the first Caroline Gooding Memorial Lecture at the University of Leeds in October.Last August, Degener (pictured) told the UK government’s delegation – during a public examination of its progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – that its cuts to social security and other support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe” which was “totally neglecting the vulnerable situation people with disabilities find themselves in”.She later gave an interview with the BBC – which was not broadcast – in which she warned that the portrayal of disabled people by the UK government and media as “parasites” who live on benefits could put them at risk of violence, and even “killings and euthanasia”.The annual lecture was set up as a memorial to the equality consultant and author Caroline Gooding, who played a leading role in securing improvements to disability rights legislation as a member of the Disability Rights Taskforce.Gooding was later director of legislative change at the Disability Rights Commission throughout its eight years. She died in July 2014.The lecture will be hosted by the university’s renowned Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) and its Centre for Law and Social Justice, and will take place on 3 October.Professor Anna Lawson, director of CDS and co-ordinator of the university’s Disability Law Hub, said she and fellow organisers were “delighted” that Degener was able to accept the invitation to deliver the lecture.She said: “She is a disabled woman who, like Caroline, has made it her life’s work to push for disability equality and inclusion using the law.“As chair of the CRPD committee, she occupies what is one of the most influential positions in disability rights globally.“The fact that her committee has recently reviewed and made recommendations to the UK on its implementation of the CRPD makes the timing particularly good.“Theresia also knew and admired Caroline and her work.”She said the lecture would not be focused specifically on the UK but would be “relevant to all countries that have ratified the CRPD, including the UK”.Lawson said there would be questions and discussion after the lecture, while there are hopes that the event will be live-streamed.Degener will lecture on “inclusive equality”, a concept introduced by the UN committee through a “general comment” in March and which it hopes can be used to help implement CRPD.Inclusive equality, the general comment says, argues for redistribution to address socioeconomic disadvantage, and attempts to combat “stigma, stereotyping, prejudice and violence” and recognize the “dignity of human beings and their intersectionality”.It also recognises the importance of including different social groups in society, but also the need to “make space for difference as a matter of human dignity”.In the general comment on article five of the convention – on equality and non-discrimination – the committee warns that countries are still approaching disability through charity and medical models, which fail to fully acknowledge disabled people’s rights.It also warns that the laws and policies of many countries “perpetuate the exclusion and isolation of and discrimination and violence” against disabled people, and that they are often “imperfect and incomplete or ineffective” or “reflect an inadequate understanding of the human rights model of disability”.In the BBC interview, Degener explained that, compared to other countries with “less economic power” and less advanced equality and discrimination legislation, the UK’s austerity policy was “less human rights oriented”, so that “UK appears to be a strong country when it comes to equal rights but a very, very weak country with relation to economic, social and culture rights”.She also said the UK’s record on disability rights was “going backwards in a pace and to an amount that it worries us a lot” and that the evidence in front of the committee was “overwhelming”.The general comment also says that disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) must “play a central role in the development of legal and policy reforms”, including the response to the prejudice faced by disabled people seen as being “a burden on society”.The committee’s concluding observations, which followed its public examination of the UK’s progress in implementing the convention last August, called on the government to do more to include DPOs in planning and implementing polices affecting disabled people.Degener was not available this week to comment on her plans for the lecture. A note from the editor:For nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring, and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img read more

SAINTS Under 18s recorded a comfortable 4414 win

first_imgSAINTS Under 18s recorded a comfortable 44-14 win over Featherstone Rovers at the Big Fellas Stadium on Saturday.After a tight first half, which saw them lead by just two points, the strength and speed of the Saints was just too much.Greg Richards bagged a hat-trick whilst Adam Hesketh, Andre Savelio, Matty Fozzard, Luke Thompson and Ben Parry all crossed the whitewash.Lewis Charnock tagging on six goals.Match Summary:Featherstone:Tries: Day (2), BrookGoals: GloverSaints:Tries: Richards (3), Hesketh, Savelio, Fozzard, Thompson, ParryGoals: Charnock (6)Half Time: 10-12Full Time: 14-44Teams:Featherstone:Kyran Johnson; Jordan Potter, Matty Brook, Joe Turton, Joe Caulfield; Kyran Johnson, Jordan Myers; Luke Cooper, Jack Nicholson, Jack Byrnes, Alex Batty, Zak Lockhead, Ben Brailsford.Subs: Dave Robinson, Sam Day, Jack Coventry, Jordan Gray.Saints:Ben Roberts; Ben Parry, Greg Wilde, Lewis Galbraith, Jamie Tracey; Jordan Heaton, Lewis Sheridan; Greg Richards, Lewis Foster, Adam Hesketh, Luke Thompson, Lewis Charnock, Andre Savelio.Subs: Matthew Fozzard, Tom Roughley, Matt Cooke, Brad Ashurst.last_img read more

SAINTS Academy scholar Morgan Knowles has complete

first_imgSAINTS Academy scholar Morgan Knowles has completed three significant challenges – all with the aim of raising funds to support what will be an experience of lifetime.The 16-year-old, who recently played for Wales against England, started from Fell Foot at Newby Bridge at 8am and kayaked the length of Windermere – the longest lake in England.He then hopped on a bike and cycled through Little Langdale, over Wrynose Pass and then up the steepest pass in England,  Hardnott, without stopping!Once at the top after a quick change he set off to walk/run to the top of the highest peak in England, Scafell.He’s raised more than £1,500 and the money is still coming in with the funds going towards Saints Academy’s Tour of Australia in October.The players have been tasked with raising sponsorship and Morgan decided he didn’t just want to ask for money but actually take on an inspirational challenge that both stretched his physical ability and tested his mental strength.His ‘triathlon took him nine-and-a-half hours – but the worst bit? Sitting in the cold running stream to ease his aching muscles.And the day after he played his first game for Blackbrook Royals, scoring two tries and a few goals to the team progress to the semi-finals of the North West Counties Cup.“This was an amazing effort from Morgan (and his dad), perfectly typifying the mental toughness and physical supremacy of Rugby League players,” said Saints Player Performance Manager Neil Kilshaw. “A big well done and thank you to all his supporters from everyone at the Saints.”last_img read more