... as Alun Davies, Head of the EHRC Disability Committee resigns along with Commissioner Ben Summerskill of Stonewall (also due to differences with the way in which Trevor Phillips Chairs the organisation).
Sir Bert Massie and Baroness Jane Campbell, leading figures within the United Kingdom's Disabled People's Movement have both resigned from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in protest over the reappointment of Trevor Philips as Chair for a second term.
In the TimesonLine, Bert compares Phillips with Lord Cardigan, the Crimean war commander who led the disastrous charge of the Light Brigade. “It is rather as though at Balaklava Lord Cardigan had been reappointed and the remnants of the Light Brigade invited to reapply for their posts,” he said, complaining at Phillips’s treatment of fellow commissioners.
In his resignation letter to Harman, Massie said: “I have been concerned for some time about corporate governance at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and had hoped that renewed leadership would enable it to achieve its full potential.
“The reappointment of the chairman has dashed that hope and as I cannot agree with the way in which the commission is led. I must, with regret and sadness, offer my resignation with immediate effect.”
There's a rather lame response from the Commission who are quoted as saying: “We are, of course, sorry to see anyone’s
departure but we have just drawn up our three-year strategy.” ... er, and ...?!
There's a lot of activity around the resignations on various social network sites, such as Facebook with many prominent Disabled activists making their feelings felt.
Once again I've opened up this bog for a debate around the issues so keep an eye on the comments section.
(I decided to take a positive slant with the accompanying cartoon as you can see!)
A recent statement from the Home Office says that the Prison Service is now the second largest provider of mental health care provision in the UK (the first being the NHS).
The current debate about assisted suicide has brought a lot of comment from Disabled people, some in support but most against. The two lead protagonists have emerged as long term disability activist Jane Campbell (or Baroness Campbell of Surbiton to give her her correct title) and Tom Shakespeare, a leading Disabled academic with a track record of making challenging and thought provoking comments.
Some of the comments that we recieved in response to last weeks blog quite rightly fell foul of the Editor's pen as DAO's editorial policy is not to carry direct attacks on individuals for their opinions. However, most comments obviously came from the heart. Thank you for those.
With regard to this topic, we now know that the amendment was defeated in the House of Lords, although the debate continues. Both Tom Shakespeare and Jane Campbell have written articles in the Guardian, as well as carrying on the dialogue in this and other blogs and on Facebook. here are some of the links:
Read Tom's article on - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/07/assisted-dying-terminally-ill-disabled
Read Janes article on - http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=220388880130&h=r5-j8&u=ALeND&ref=nf
Read Stephen Drake's essay on - http://networkedblogs.com/p7152207
Read Nabil Shaban's notes on - http://www.facebook.com/crippen.disabledcartoonist?ref=profile#/note.php?note_id=105924466547&ref=mf
Open Letter from Leaders of Disabled People’s Movement in UK and USA
As leaders of the disabled people’s movement in the UK and the USA, we are extremely concerned about how the proposed amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill will impact onthe lives of disabled people.
If Lord Falconer’s amendment succeeds in the House of Lords on Tuesday 7 July then those who assist ‘terminally ill’ people to go abroad to end their lives in ‘suicide clinics’ would be immune from prosecution.
The phrase ‘terminally ill’ is not defined in the amendment, and could apply to people with a very wide range of chronic progressive illnesses some with life expectancy stretching to decades. Disabled people who experience progressive conditions understand far more than non-disabled
people about what it is live with these pressures. We know what is acceptable as disease or disability progresses, and for the huge number of us who say no to assisted suicide, it is because we fear the changing culture such an amendment would bring. People without experience of
disability, including our friends and families cannot predict what each stage of our personal journey will mean. Furthermore, financial and emotional conflicts of interest will always present an added burden to the situation. A law decriminalising assisted suicide would undoubtedly place
disabled people under pressure to end their lives early to relieve the burden on relatives, carers or the state.
These concerns are not side issues that only affect disabled people. We are like society’s ‘canaries in the coalmine’ who can often see the dangers of potentially discriminatory legislation before others, as it impacts on us even before the deed is done. We are scared now; we will be terrified if assisted suicide becomes state-sanctioned.
The existing law, with the penalties it holds in reserve, causes potential assisters and those wishing to die, to think very carefully before acting. The discretion within the current law enables judges to exercise compassion in hard cases. What is not broken does not need fixing.
Disabled people have been largely silent in this debate which has been carried out in the media by clerics, non-disabled commentators and a small handful of individuals with terminal conditions who are supported by Dignity in Dying. Until people like us are present to engage in this highly
complex and ethical debate, we must strongly oppose any device such as Lord Falconer’s amendment to get assisted dying in through the back door.
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton - Crossbench Peer
Liz Sayce - CEO, RADAR
Julie Newman - Chair, United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC)
David Morris - Chair of Independent Living Alternatives
Haqeeq Bostan - Director of New Disability Policy Forum
Diane Coleman - President, Not Dead Yet
Rachel Hurst - Disability Awareness in Action
Mike Smith - Chair, National Centre for Independent Living
Colin Revell - CEO, NeuroDiversity International (NDI)
Marilyn Golden - Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Alison Davis - National Coordinator, No Less Human
Alice Maynard - Director, Future Inclusion
Linda Burnip - Executive Health and Safety Officer for Warwickshire and Coventry CDP
Liz Crow - Roaring Girl Productions
Stephen Drake - Research Analyst, Not Dead Yet
Adrian Whyatt - Chair, NeuroDiversity International (NDI)
Keith Armstrong - Historian, writer, musician and video maker
Dawn Willis - Activist/Trainer affiliated to RETHINK
Professor Colin Barnes - Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds
Louise Clifford - Daughter of Max Clifford
Leonard Zandrow - General Counsel, National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Ann Macfarlane OBE - Kingston CIL
Andrew Bruce - East Sussex CIL Development Worker
Tara Flood - Director, Alliance for Inclusive Education
Andrew Little - Director, Ahead Disability Equipment & Consultancy LLP
Alison Cater - Director, Ahead Disability Equipment & Consultancy LLP
Janice Ollerton - Disabilities Studies Researcher/Activist (Australia)
Dr. Mark Mostert - Director, Institute for the Study of Disabilities & Bioethics
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Joseph M. Camilleri - CHAIR, Kummissjoni Nazzjonali Persuni b'Dizabilità (Malta)
Julie McNamara - Activist / Director Crossings Theatre
Kate Nash - Not Dead Yet
Roxanne Homayoun - Direct Action Network
Dr Ju Gosling - Chair, Regard
John W Smith - Coordinator Disabled Peoples Alliance, Northamptonshire
Kelly Buckland - Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living
(for identification purposes only)