This election has been a confusing yet dull election. What was 5 years ago a traditional two and a half horse race has now exploded into a rainbow of parties, although they all seem to be fighting in their own ways for the middle ground, promising to be safe rather than bold.
When it comes to what political party is good for disabled people, the short answer is I have no idea. While I have done some research, this article is merely my feelings as opposed to attempting to be a definitive guide on the parties. The problem for me is that all the parties are framing disability as a welfare issue, and making social care a ‘carers’ issue as oppose to promoting meaningful independent living, which is more than throwing money at those disabled people who shout the loudest.
Labour is traditionally the best friend of disabled people, but compared to five years ago, it has lost so much of its deep understanding of disability within the concept of the social model. It is like they have had a bonfire of policies and replaced them with more fashionable medical model welfarism as desired by the new short-term sick and disabled people’s movement, born out of the welfare reforms. Like a lot of the parties, they are catering for the tip of the iceberg, the disabled people and carers happy with their exclusion from society, leaving the issues of a majority of disabled people to fester for another generation to solve.
Labour’s social care pledges concern me and if you join the dots, they are proposing a nationalised service that is more about ticking boxes to keep people alive, rather than any meaningful social interaction. Like so many parties, they propose ending the misunderstood ’15 minute’ calls, replacing ‘time limited calls’ with ‘task orientated calls’, which in reality means 8 minute calls, painted as ‘fairer’!
The Greens and SNP seem to be promising the often trade union supported disability groups whatever they want, where money is no object. I however believe more welfare, paying people to sit to home as oppose to unlocking their inner potential, will lead to more exclusion and simply makes a better case for the assisting dying and wider eugenics agenda in a manner that is too slow to ever be realised.
Then we have the Tories. I was never a Tory but over the last 5 years, I have been verbally abused on social media endlessly by other activists for looking Tory. But I have always just been interested in disabled people reaching their full potential as opposed to be written off from birth in the name of ‘fairness and compassion’. For me, the call to end Sanctions towards disabled people, and so denying them social responsibility, is a first step to pushing disabled people out of society.
I do not see the cuts in the way other activists have demanded I should. This coalition government has put in the foundations to move disabled people from a dependency culture and the social death many other parties wish to defend, assuming we lack potential. I fear the desires and bigotries of other parties, who patronise disabled people as ‘vulnerable’, more than what this government has done, which I acknowledge has been far from perfect.
The LibDems are okay but again, they have no interest in meaningful independent living, but rather to be the best friend of ‘carers’, assuming disabled people who require social care have no voice in their own lives. But no party is interested in ‘independent living’, especially free of control from the gravy train of ‘user led organisations’ talking about ‘human rights’, as oppose to delivering action on the ground.
What is ironic is that the party I feel I have the biggest opportunity to develop their disability policy with in the long term, as a critical friend of government, is UKIP, who has a disabled spokesperson who is actually disabled, approachable, and independent from any set thinking. Clearly, many of their other policies mean I am unlikely to ever vote for them, but if they were in power, it could be the best opportunity for disabled people who desire inclusion in the long term.
The election is certainly about voting for the best of a bad bunch. None of the parties have any real understanding of the complex issues within the realm of disability, and like most successful disability policy in the past, change will come from grassroots society as opposed to the ‘bright ideas’ of government.