I know what you’re against, but what are you for?
I don’t know who to attribute this statement to, but whoever said it was right, and captures my personal frustration with most campaigning.
For example, the current welfare reforms are clearly terrible. But, even if campaigns against the reforms were successful (and I generally hope they are) and left us where we were before the 2010 General Election, we’d still have a welfare system that I haven’t heard one sensible commentator suggest was working well.
So as well as being against something (for example, welfare reforms) it’s also our responsibility to be for an alternative.
The latter is often missing, to the point that when you see it, it strikes you with some force. And, goodness me, Neil Crowther’s Refreshing the disability agenda – a future imagined is brilliantly striking and tremendously forceful. It’s exactly the kind of disability rights agenda I’d sign up to, and I urge you to read it.
Clinging on to Neil’s coattails, I’d like to suggest one further addition to his excellent headings: that disabled people are enfranchised.
How many disabled people vote? It’s a question I’ve always wanted to know the answer to, but have never found.
We know that disabled people often find voting booths inaccessible, so that campaigns to increase physical and other types of access (for example, for people with learning disabilities) exist. But this is process stuff. I’m after understanding the proper place – and so power – of disabled people as a voting bloc within the electorate.
Equivalent precedents exist: in the same way we talk about the “Pink Pound” we now (occasionally) talk about “the disabled pound”. In voting, we have the Suffragettes and Operation Black Vote that have aimed to secure the political representation and enfranchisement of women and people from BME backgrounds.
A positive part of the future disability rights agenda, therefore, must be one which seeks to understand, further and secure the place of disabled people as an equal part of the electorate, and with it our equal role within democracy.