Those of you who’ve read my e-books will know that I’m not backward in coming forward when it comes to lambasting this Government with regard to its continued involvement in the American Iraq war … oops, sorry, the free world’s war against terrorism! (Phew, nearly had those men in raincoats who mutter into their sleeve round again!).
We now hear that the Ministry of Defence has announced extra funding for their medical center at Headley Court, which provides treatment for troops who become disabled whilst on active service and which includes making and fitting prosthetic limbs, treating brain injuries and providing rehabilitation support. Apparently the new funding, or investment as the defense secretary Des Browne (no relation) calls it, is worth £24 million over the next four years.
I’m not knocking this you understand. There are so many youngsters coming back from the fighting, missing vital bits and pieces that they deserve the best treatment that they can get. You’ll notice though, that there’s no mention again of any additional support for those young servicemen and women who have been spared the horrors of having a bit blown off, but have been so psychologically traumatised by their involvement in this pointless conflict, that they are unable to function once they’re tossed back out into civvy street.
History tells us that it was the American Vietnam Vets, thoroughly pissed off with the lack of support they received when they came back home, that created the groundswell for that country’s Disability Rights movement. The end result was the Americans with Disabilities Act which has more teeth than something … with lots of teeth! So watch it Mr Brown (nearly said Blair then!), mind you don’t get bitten in the arse when we all link up and come after you!
Oh, and while you’re at it, perhaps instead of pouring more millions into maintaining a British ‘presence’ out there, you could divert that dosh into removing more barriers for other Disabled people across the whole of the UK …??!!
Here’s your chance folks, and right on the tail of this week's cartoon (they make it too easy for me don’t they!). The human rights watchdog is calling on Disabled people to tell them ‘if they haven't been treated with dignity and respect by public bodies’. Apparently the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wants to compile an accurate picture of how the Human Rights Act is working and how it can be improved.
So, all you have to do is to go on their site and fill in one of their on-line questionnaires - entering the details of Gordon Brown and his Government! OK, who’s first then?!
It’s official, according to the UK Government, Disabled people are not really Human!
Some of you will probably have seen a copy of the press statement put out by the United Nations Convention Campaign Coalition (UNCCC) referring to the apparent reversal by Gordon Brown’s Government regarding the UK’s involvement with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The UNCCC is a coalition of 22 Disabled people’s and disability organisations campaigning to ensure that the UK Government ratifies the CRPD without reservations. You’ll remember that I mentioned in this blog about the Convention coming into force back on the 3rd of May.
Despite his many faults Tony Blair wanted to see the CRPD happen. Brown however clearly does not, and has back pedaled on some of the more important rights embedded in the CRPD. Last December, Anne McGuire, the Minister for Disabled People, made it plain that there would be reservations tabled before the UK could ratify. She’s now issued a statement outlining those reservations.
In a nut shell, the UK Government is saying loud and clear that there are certain violations against Disabled people that they should be allowed to perpetrate for ever. These include:
- Still being allowed to place Disabled people into residential accommodation - despite evidence that has shown that we are often abused and have no real choice and control over our lives in these places.
- Continuing to provide segregated education away from home and friends - despite the mounting evidence that fully supports inclusive education as the only way that Disabled children can attain some sort of equality.
- Reserving the right for Disabled people to have liberty of movement, nationality and immigration.
Therefore, despite the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the Life Chances Report and promises of full equality for Disabled people by 2025, the Government has decided that we Crips are only fit to receive some rights – not the general inalienable, indivisible and comprehensive rights that are due to other non-disabled people.
What’s so ironic is that for five years the UK Government worked hard at the United Nations in New York and took a leading role within the European Delegation to ensure that the CRPD was written and approved. Anne McGuire, as a representative of the UK Government was among the first signatories.
Rachel Kachaje, a Disabled member of the UNCCC says in the press release:
“Apparently the present UK Government does not share a view of the full humanity of Disabled people”. In other words she’s saying that the UK Government doesn’t believe we are human!
I’ve just received the very sad news that Disabled Solicitor and Disability Rights advocate Sue Maynard (Campbell) has died. Most of you will know that she had been in intensive care since the end of March following a cardiac arrest. Our thoughts go to her family and colleagues and to her many friends in the Disabled people’s movement around the world.
Sue was one of the unsung heroines of the disabled people’s movement. She was a leading light in the Association of Disabled Professionals in the 1980s and 1990s, and as such was one of the founders of BCODP, now UKDPC. Since then, as well as running her own company she has been involved in countless campaigns to further disabled people’s equality. Her work was eventually recognised by the award of an MBE a couple of years ago.
Sue was instrumental in getting me and a couple of colleagues out of a messy legal tangle some years ago when we tried to save a disability arts magazine that had gone into melt down mode. Her sensible advice as well as her sharp legal mind saved us from what could have been a costly and painful experience. Thanks Sue. We'll all miss you.
Don't forget. if you want to see a larger image and get a written description for use by your text recognition software, then just click on the cartoon and it will change for you.
Not everything pro-disability gets rubber stamped by the House of Lords. Take last year, for example, when they ruled that older and disabled people placed in independent care homes by local authorities were not covered by the Human Rights Act.
As you’re probably aware, the Human Rights Act includes duties that protect a person’s right to be treated with dignity, have their personal integrity respected, and enjoy privacy and family life. The government’s next move is to look at how it can extend the remit of the Act by changing the health and social care bill currently going through Parliament. This would then reverse the consequences of the ruling made by the Lords.
It occurred to me that as much of the Lords are made up of older people, you would have thought that it was in their best interest to have let this one through wouldn’t you?!
The charity Comic Relief and the government department for social care have just announced that they are starting a joint research initiative to investigate the dignity and safety of older people in the care system. Perhaps they should start with the House of Lords?!
I've just heard that Sue Maynard is currently in intensive care in her home town of Wakefield and is extremely poorly. Sue, a disabled solicitor and MD of Equal Ability has been at the forfront of the Disability Rights campaign before most of us had even heard of the Social Model. I'm sure you'll all join with me in sending her and her family our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Our old mate Jack Ashley is still plugging away at getting his Disabled Persons (Independent Living) Bill through the necessary readings in the House of Commons. The Bill was passed by the Lords last April and then introduced to the Commons by Roger Berry MP. It then failed after its second reading due to lack of Parliamentary time.
I know that Jack found this extremely frustrating (to say the least!) and felt that the process was just being abused in order to block the Bill. He’s now going through the whole procedure again (with its third reading in the Lords coming up again soon) and will keep pushing until it gets accepted by the Government.
What can we do?
We can all support Jack by writing to our MPs, asking them to support the Bill and help get it through the necessary readings in the Commons. Tell them that we want comprehensive legislation along with legislative control in order to ensure equality for Disabled people. This Bill will provide that. And whilst you’re doing that, why not copy Jack in and show him that we’re all behind him. His email address is - email@example.com
Bet you didn't know that the United Nations (UN) Convention, adopted by the UN’s General Assembly back in 2006, came into effect a couple of days ago on the third of May. The Convention’s aims are to safeguard the human rights of Disabled people around the world and have now been ratified by some 20 member states, including the UK. Slowly but surely eh folks!
May already. Where does the time go? Only seemed like last week that we were deciding what to do for christmas! It's supposed to mean a sign of aging when time starts to resemble a runaway train doesn't it? Ah well.
Legless - As I've probably mentioned, a lot of my work gets used by fellow crips as part of their work as Disability Equality trainers. Having shared some of these cartoons with you in the past, I thought you might enjoy seeing another one that takes a dig at those non-disabled 'trainers' who are still using the 'disability awareness' approach!
Come on now folks. How about stepping aside and letting those amongst us who know what we're talking about get on with the job of spreading the Equality message, without being undermined by those of you still stuck in the dark ages?!
Reinstated 2007 text - Some of you may have noticed that I've not been idle since my last entry in April. I've now managed to reinsert the text that disappeared from last year's blog entries (not sure what happened there) and they're all up together again for those of you without any life and who do look back through previous entries!