Tory politicians’ shocking attacks on disabled colleagues aren’t all that shocking

The House of Lords in reference to discrimination about disabled people
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An independent news site has revealed shocking comments Tory peers made about their disabled colleagues. They laced their views with offensive comments and discrimination – not that that’s shocking from the Tories. But at the heart of the story is also a staggering irony.

Debating democracy

John Pring, editor of Disability News Service (DNS), tweeted:

As Pring reported, the House of Lords was debating:

Read on...

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the use of remote participation and so-called hybrid sittings in the Lords that some of the measures introduced during the pandemic – which include online voting and allowing some peers to take part in debates virtually – should continue when the crisis ended.

Some peers were arguing that the adjustments should stay. Crossbench peer baroness Jane Campbell said the:

capacity to join in remotely has swept away many of the barriers that some of us encounter daily

She also said it had been:

a relief to watch debates at home on my night-time ventilator and to vote. It improved my focus, decision-making and health.

All this would seem logical and reasonable to many people. In the same way remote working for non-disabled people is now becoming the norm, surely this should extend to parliament? Well, not if you’re a Tory peer.

Disability discrimination

As Pring reported, four Tory peers launched an “extremely alarming” “barrage of attack” on disabled peers. Former Tory Party treasurer lord Farmer said:

for the sake of the public who are paying our way, personal infirmity should not provide grounds for exemption from normality… parliamentary participation is for those able to bring vitality to proceedings.

He added:

if infirmities of mind or body make that vital contribution impossible, any permanently lowered bar to participation serves peers’ interests, not those of the public. The previous norm should be reinstated: those of us who cannot come to the House cannot contribute.

‘Infirmities’? Farmer appears to have taken us back to the early 20th century. No, really. Because he may as well have said that disabled people should not be peers. His Tory mates lord Howard of Rising and baroness Noakes said similar.

Trenchard: Disability discrimination? Hold my pint.

But if you thought that was bad, enter viscount Trenchard with someone holding his pint to take the abuse one step further.

He said that he didn’t believe:

those with disabilities, in poor health or pregnant should be allowed to continue to participate remotely.

He added that it’s:

an unfortunate fact that if a noble Lord’s condition or circumstances prevent his or her attendance and ability to participate fully, it is hard to argue that that member is fully capable of exercising his or her functions as a legislator

So now, disabled and pregnant people shouldn’t be peers, either. Thank god we’ve got rich, old white men to make up the numbers, hey?

Pring asked the Tory Party and the government for comment. Neither responded to him. Meanwhile, disabled peers reacted angrily. Lib Dem baroness Sal Brinton told DNS the Tory peers’ comments were:

an extraordinary barrage of attack on disabled peers and those with underlying conditions that puts them on the clinically extremely vulnerable list.

Back in the real world

Back in the real world, and this kind of discrimination is not really shocking. For example, a 2019 study found 24% of employers wouldn’t hire a disabled person. This is despite such discrimination being illegal. Moreover, the system itself serves to do little more than entrench discrimination and inequality for disabled people. For example, the UN accused successive UK governments of “grave” and “systematic” violations of sick and disabled people’s human rights, much of it under the guise of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reform.

But to flip the Tory peers’ comments on their heads, as my partner Nicola Jeffery tweeted:

She’s referring to the ‘fit for work’ scandal, where the DWP was assessing sick and disabled people and telling them they were well enough to look for, or carry out, a job. As The Canary previously reported, between 2014 and 2017 10 people a day were dying after the DWP put them in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance. As we wrote, the WRAG is:

the part of ESA where the DWP places people aged 16-64 who it deems can start moving towards work.

Ironically, there are disabled people who can’t work even with provision, but the government is making them work anyway. Yet the peers being discriminated against by their Tory colleagues are capable of working, but the same Tory colleagues are trying to stop them from getting adequate provision. The whole thing stinks – but also shows the sickening irony at the heart of the Tory Party.

Featured image via Greggy1900 – Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. “We are not the Party for People on Benefits! *Neo*Labour *Tories* will be tougher on Benefit Claimants than the Conservative Tories”

      Don’t vote Neoliberal Neolabour Tory Party and expect anything other than TORY!

    2. Tory politicians’ shocking attacks on disabled colleagues aren’t all that shocking

      Sorry but I cannot understand why any voter disabled or not keep
      Voting for Tory party in all election knowing they will be C**P on, When the person they vote for get the job in Govt or local area Cllr seats then start whining to the press for help.
      //
      I am a free voter No ties to any parties in Power or not I also pay No party fees to any parties in Govt or local area Cllr. You can make changes happen by the ‘way’ you vote we free voter Aided in removing Labour from power back in 20215 G.E. look at the state of them now going down the toilet fast.
      //
      We FREE voters will be Aiding in removing Tory party from power next G.E. so to all Disabled people I polity say do not vote for any Tory party members next G.E. if you wish a better way of life O.K. Also, not Labour party that are going down the same path as Tory party members now they will screw us voter when back in power.

      What U.K. needs now is a new Govt party within parliament put together by X members of the main 2 parties to saver us all plus look after our country right not the party needs nor the rich party funders that are keeping Tory party afloat now for their benefits only.
      (So, change the way you vote to make changes unfold voters)

      1. Our first priority should be in removing The Neoliberal Neolabour Party Tories from the UK Labour Party, only then will we have a Choice. We cannot expect Chance or Choice with Conservative Party Tories OR Neolabour Party Tories.
        A Tory is a Tory no matter what colour you slap on it and The Likes of “Don’t you Dare to Get Cold Feet!!!” Starmer are Neoliberal Tories no matter if their Wiki Pages say they are “Left Leaning” or “Socialist” They are NOT! They are Thatcherite Tories!
        We will end up in the same Neoliberal hell as we have been in for the Past 42 Years, just as The USA have for the Past 42 Years since the Reagan/Thatcher Christian/Neoliberalism with a HUGE Dollop of Neoconservatism. (Any Political Ideology that bases itself on a religion is fraught with fascist ideas)
        Neoliberalism is NOT The Centre/”Centrism”, Liberal or Left, i is Right Wing and occupies the same spot as Thatcher/Blair/Cameron/May/Johnson/Starmer!
        No use being fooled by the Occupied Corporate Brand “Labour” as it makes no difference if you light it up in the brightest neon or flash a million LEDs and Play The Internationale and Red Flag from it, if is occupied by Neoliberal Tories it is Neoliberal Tory!
        Anti Freedom of speech is MOST CERTAINLY NOT Left/Left Leaning/Socialism. Starmer is not alone The Democratic Socialist UK Labour Party in infested with ~200 Thatcherite Neoliberal Neoliberal Party Tories!
        Unless we Vote them out to at least a Vast Minority and Vote Democratic Socialists in, our NON CHOICE will be Tory or Tory!
        We blew 2017/2019 our only overnight Change Option, now the only way is the painful slow way, a Minority Party for 1 Term or less and with a Parasite/Neoliberal/Sabotage Free Democratic Socialist Party we take the following GE. In Hind sight we should have sacrificed GE2017 to do just that VOTE OUT THE ENTIRE 80% NEOLIBERAL NEOLABOUR PARTY TORY PLP! Now the Parasites are 90/95% PLP vs 5/10% PLP!
        DON’T VOTE FOR THE SAKE OF THE NEOLIBERAL CORPORATE BRAND “LABOUR”!
        VOTE FOR THE PEOPLE! The People of Britain, The People of Palestine, The People of Yemen, etc, etc! By Voting Neolabour TORY we will GET TORY Policies! Our Pain of another 5 year Nasty Conservative Tory cannot even in the slightest be compared to the Pain of an Endless extension of BOTH Tory Parties will inflict outside of our Borders, but without our suffering it will just continue! DON’T buy into the Polished BRAND!!! A TORY IS A TORY painted in Blue or Red!

    3. Hmmmm.

      In a way, they have a point. Fx, it is not too much of a stretch to see the ‘upper chamber’ become even more of a corporate-lobbyist rubber stamp, if peers don’t even have to attend to vote.

      “Oh look, it’s 4:15pm, time to vote to sell off the mental health services to Virgin, I’d better log on for 5 mins while enjoying Branson’s hospitality here in the Caymans”.

      Being forced to attend in physical person IS a small step to accountability.

      That said, there could and are better methods of achieving such accountability, which are rather remote from being applied. Money talks, as we all know.

      Quite why the fool decided to add “Pregnant” to the list is anyone’s guess, from the gamut of ignorant obtuseness to deliberate trolling for headlines.

      Needless to say, the Tories concern for the disabled – the POOR-disabled especially – is legendary in its non-existence, unless it’s to push Nazi-esque ‘reforms’.

      In the light of which the summary comment is especially poignant “Ironically, there are disabled people who can’t work even with provision, but the government is making them work anyway.”

      Lord forbid that anyone live ‘freely’ without labour, unless of course they ‘own’ the hard work of others through the Stockmarket or shares.

      100-1 these ‘peers’ would have changed their tune had B**** (Baroness) Thatcher become disabled, but was required to vote on destroying further Union rights, or selling off further assets.

      But then it is just as likely that these ‘peers’ also have problems with women voting, let alone becoming politicians.

      Ohhh, life was SOOOO much easier in the 17th Century. Shame we can’t send them and their idol Grees-Moog back to live then.

    4. This is simply Par for the Course…………The stench of Nazism is alive & well in the House of Lords…….I wonder what culling methods will be chosen….ovens, injection, bullets, starvation or hard work & whipping ? The awful thing is as long as the general run of cretins keep voting Tory it can only get worse.

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