Robert Adamson – A Remembrance

The Liberal Democrats can hold their head high on the progress we have made to support women in the party and LGBTQ; I am now getting more positive with the party’s commitment to supporting ethnic minorities. However, the poor relation in all this is the support for disabled members. I don’t believe that there is the focus on disability issues as there is for other groups. Few in the party made it their mission to raise the issues that disabled people face, more than Robert Adamson.

A small tribute to Robert by Gemma Roulston the current Chair of Lib Dem Disability Association (LDDA):

Robert Moray Adamson was a carer who himself was diagnosed with MS. Robert never let the disease stop him taking a very active role in the party not only as Joint Chair of LDDA but with other party bodies like the English Party. Robert worked arduously to help and improve the lives of anyone with or without disabilities.

Robert and I worked well over these last two years together on LDDA business. When Robert was approached by Your Liberal Britain, about how to make their sessions at conference accessible, Roberts comments were taken up not only by them but by FCC too. With all the issues that Robert was going through he didn’t, however, agree with the right to die.

Robert has been Chair, Secretary, as well as newsletter editor of LDDA. He was always there for anyone with a kind word, good advice and was supportive. This year the Autumn conference in Brighton didn’t feel the same without him. Robert made a difference to people.

I recall that Robert wrote an article on being a candidate at Darlington entitled “The sitting candidate”, Robert was a kind, thoughtful and a humorous man. Robert’s one wish for LDDA was for it to be a SAO.

God bless Robert, rest up and enjoy not having to deliver leaflets, or have to herd cats.

Tahir Maher:

I remember in the last LDDA Executive Robert asked me to write an article for LD Voice about how people who were labelled as disabled didn’t necessarily like it. His premise was that we all have issues (especially after a certain age) and therefore the term is somewhat false and unnecessarily brands people. I thought about it for a while and phoned him. I questioned him further about what he wanted me to write about, and we had a long discussion on the matter. Again, I gave it some thought but disagreed with him and did not write the article. I disagreed because I feel the term does have a place and it doesn’t mean the word disabled is usually used with negative connotations.

I also understood that Robert, who was so active and capable, maybe didn’t see himself as disabled other than having a serious hindrance that didn’t stop him from doing what he wanted but got in the way.  On the way to the Brighton conference, I expected to see Robert and was forming my words to discuss why I had not yet written the article. I am sorry to say I never got the chance to have that discussion.

As Gemma says, God bless Robert. I am sure you are in a much better place and please do chase cats.







* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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  • Holly Matthies 26th Sep '18 - 12:16pm

    Thanks for sharing this reflection on Robert.

    I’m a disabled Lib Dem too and I’m honestly glad you didn’t write the piece about negativity towards the disabled label. One of the things I appreciate about being a Lib Dem is that we can disagree in thoughtful and respectful ways, which is what it sounds like you did here. “Disabled” is only a negative word when it’s used to demean and disempower us; really it’s just a description of me like any other.

    And just like calling myself bisexual has helped me find other people who share experiences and views beyond the gay/straight world, thinking of myself as disabled has helped me connect with other disabled activists and disabled politics. These labels are both denigrated sometimes by people who see them as embarrassing or insulting but without labels we wouldn’t find each other and be able to work together. And it’s essential to work together if we’re going to get anywhere.

  • Sean Hyland 26th Sep '18 - 4:09pm

    I recall a campaign from some years back that sought to change the spelling to dysabled. The view was that the use of ” dys” suggested an “issue or difficulty with” rather than “dis” as “unable to”. It was used for a short time in some teams in the NHS including our own. Then our local self-advocacy groups quite rightly pointed out the right to/not use a “label or name”is up to an individual and it’s the service/support available when needed that matters.

    Personally I’m happy to use the disabled label for myself by choice. It’s challenging stereotyping that matters to me now.

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