In all the hysteria, rhetoric and hyperbole being generated by the Labour leadership campaign, the following comments should not go unnoticed:
Anita Bellows is a spokesperson for and leading light in Disabled People Against Cuts. Then there is this from a spokesperson for the War On Welfare Campaign:
slightly contradicted by, but Twitter’s format does make caveats difficult to Tweet:
Surely groups representing disabled people and carers should not be endorsing any political party without clear sight of the policies affecting their areas of concern, and without taking into account whether or not the party proposing them has any chance of actually getting them enacted?
As Dr Frances Ryan pointed out recently in an article in the Guardian, a newspaper, incidentally, read by around 40% of the Labour Party’s membership:
“This goes to the centre of the existential questions Labour – and perhaps the entire left – is facing. Is pragmatism the antithesis of principle? Can we stay true to an increasingly leftwing base while reaching a wider conservative public? What is the true test of a leader: a belief system or an ability to put it into action?”
Taking sides in a internal party leadership campaign surely invites criticism of those campaigning groups doing so? Particularly when those groups make clear they are not seeking to represent all carers and disabled people, just those who share their minority political standpoint?
One of the concerns about how the Labour Party’s membership has changed, and is changing, is that it has given undue predominance and voice to a minority group within wider society, namely the affluent middle class. Rather than seeking to address that concern, some Corbyn supporters, ostensibly Labour voters remember, either argue that matters of class are not particularly important in 2016 or seek in some way to re-define the term working class to include those most voters would regard as middle class:
It is also noticeable that some Corbyn supporters are now happy to turn a blind eye to the many shortfalls of some fellow Corbyn supporters:
Will they be as equally sanguine if disablism is discovered amongst their ranks? May be it already has, but has gone unnoticed by a disabled, working class, lesbian single parent of Afro-Caribbean descent? You will be hard pressed to find anyone who is not white, male, middle class and sound in wind, limb and mind amongst those whom Jeremy Corbyn has appointed to work in his own office, but feel free to have a try:
It was George Orwell who observed in 1984 that the middle class have a habit of exploiting the working class to extend and defend their, the middle class’s, perquisites. Once they have achieved their aim, Orwell remarked, they have a tendency to leave the working class where they found them, albeit may be a bit better off.
Are the middle class doing the same today and to what advantage? By and large, the middle class do better under Tory Governments. They got the recently proposed Personal Independence Payment changes overturned, but then what is not to like about a non means tested, untaxed benefit that is not counted as income, when being assessed for other financial support? Beats Employment Support Allowance for sure. The cut in the Work Related Activity Group rate of payment is still on the cards.
Who am I backing in the Labour leadership election? Owen Smith. I think the best way for Labour to improve the quality of life for all disabled people, carers and the ever increasing number of homeless people with mental health conditions, whatever their station in life, is to be in Government. I also think it is high time we started to discuss improving the quality of life of disabled people and carers, given our current system of Social Security is mostly built around a subsistence level of existence.
Oh, and the man wanting to scrap the Department for Work and Pensions which, as he puts it, has become a byword for cruelty and insecurity? Replacing it with a muscular Ministry for Labour and a dedicated Department for Social Security.
The man wanting to rewrite Clause Four of Labour’s Constitution, the Party’s mission statement, “to put tackling inequality right at the heart of everything that we do”?
The man wanting to introduce Wage Councils in the care sector to tackle poverty pay, poor terms and conditions?
If you have a vote in Labour’s leadership election, I trust you will take the opportunity to consider in the round the qualities of the proposed candidates, their policies and the likelihood of those policies ever being put into practice, before you vote.
Make no mistake in deciding for whom you vote, because, like me, I am sure you know that the Tories are self motivating, they need no encouragement, when it comes to cracking down on those on low incomes, whether they are in or out of work.
Ten more years of Tory Government will be a steep price to pay for voting in a man who will only ever get to wield a mike and hold a placard at a demo outside of 10, Downing Street.
I will leave the last word to Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary who has said:
“The Labour Party is at a crossroads. I’m under no illusions that we’re living through dangerous political times – the like of which I haven’t seen during my three decades in our movement. It’s time for us to face up to reality.”
Mr Roached balloted his members (will DPAC and WOW do the same?) as to whom the GMB should endorse for Labour leader. Owen Smith got 60% of the votes cast.
John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn’s right hand man and leadership campaign undermined the Labour Party’s review into Special Educational Needs and Disabilities