Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day 2015. It’s the tenth annual day for disabled and non-disabled people to blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination (known as disablism or ableism). It aims to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we’ve made.
An online acquaintance of mine said he was going to write for #BADD2015 in terms of the political parties’ manifestos. Good Lib Dem that I am, I looked forward to hearing some positive stuff about my party. I know there’s lots to talk about.
The Lib Dems have budgeted the £8 billion a year the NHS will need during the next parliament, which is bound to be relevant to the lives of people with disabilities and other long-term conditions, as many of us do seem to see doctors, nurses and specialists often enough to be on a first-name basis with many of them!
The Lib Dems’ unique dedication to improving mental health care is also relevant to many disabled people, both those whose disability is primarily or entirely a matter of mental illness, and those who experience poor mental health as a result of other disabilities. Mental illnesses are some of the most common, and most “invisible,” disabilities in the UK, and at the moment the mental health care many people receive (or fail to) not only doesn’t help them but can actually make their mental health worse.
The Lib Dems have a manifesto for disabled people outlining policies concerning human rights, employment, education, health (including mental health), transport, and carers. From devoting another £3.5bn to mental health care in England over the next Parliament to protecting the Human Rights Act others parties want to eviscerate or get rid of all together, from scrapping Job Centre sanction targets and league tables to tackling disability hate crime, there’s a lot that could be mentioned.
So I must admit I was a little disappointed that the only Lib Dem-related thing mentioned was Nick Clegg leading a meeting of a “mental health taskforce” of “ministers from across government” (ie they’re not all Lib Dems!) which gained infamy a few weeks ago for suggesting mentally ill people could get cognitive-behavioural therapy at the Job Centre – a place many people have very poor experiences of and thus believe this would not help anyone’s mental health.
No mention of any of the other stuff I’ve mentioned here, though it’s all trivially easy to find.
As always, no one is going to make the Lib Dem arguments for us. We have to do it ourselves.
When members of other parties are comparing Ed Milliband to a stroke victim on Facebook it might seem like the bar for being a good party for disabled people is not very high.
That’s still no reason for us not to be ambitious in our attempts, not to make ourselves look good when there’s an election coming up, but just because we know It’s impossible for our society to be free from conformity, poverty and ignorance without robust support for disabled people.
* Holly is an immigrant, bisexual, disabled, and probably can tick most other diversity boxes that you have handy.