Here’s why a mother is tweeting every MP before the local elections

A tweet from Nicky Clark which reads: "I’m a one woman tweet storm. Sadly on my own it isn’t enough. Fortunately I’m autistic so I don’t understand the concept of giving up ?"
Steve Topple

A mother and writer is tweeting every MP. It’s part of a campaign to get the lives of a group of people thrust into the heart of this year’s local elections.

Mrs Nicky Clark

Nicky Clark is a writer, comedian, and campaigner; she’s also autistic. She has two daughters – Emily, who is learning disabled and autistic, and Lizzy, who has Asperger’s. As The Canary previously reported, Clark is a passionate campaigner. Last year, she wrote a letter to all the parliamentary candidates in her constituency urging them to place disabled people at the heart of policy decisions. She also wrote to other politicians. But following an underwhelming response, she’s taking this message further for the local elections on 3 May. So much so, that she’s tweeting every MP about it:

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She’s also tweeting prominent journalists:

One of the first MPs to respond was Labour’s Clive Lewis:

Disabled people: a “genocide”

Clark is right to say disabled people should be at the heart of policy decisions.

There are an estimated 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – 20% of the population. For seven years, this community has been subjected to what TV show The Last Leg described as a “genocide” at the hands of successive Conservative-led governments.

In the past 20 months, there have been five international reports into successive Conservative-led governments. And all of them have been scathing about the treatment of disabled people.

“Grave” and “systematic” human rights violations

One UN committee accused the government of committing “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

In August 2017, it said the government had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people, condemning the UK’s attempts to misrepresent the impact of policies through “unanswered questions”, “misused statistics”, and a “smoke screen of statements”.

On 24 January this year, another report said that many welfare benefits – including employment and support allowance (ESA) – were “manifestly inadequate”. That is, the government was not giving people enough money to live on, leaving them in poverty.

Damning figures

Meanwhile, a study by Oxford and Liverpool universities found that an “additional” 590 people taking their own lives were linked to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) work capability assessment (WCA); as were 279,000 additional cases of mental health issues and 725,000 additional antidepressants prescriptions.

“Desperation”

It’s facts, figures, and testimonies like these which show exactly why Clark’s campaign is needed. She told The Canary:

On Thursday, a woman from Brent contacted me in desperation as her profoundly learning disabled son had her reapplication for a disabled parking badge refused by the council. Brent Council has put my campaign piece on their website, the only council to do so even though I contacted them all. The carer was desperate and so I helped her to locate her MP. It struck me how sad it was that she didn’t know already and also how often MPs must hear hundreds of similar stories in their surgeries every week.

So I decided to harness social media and give all MPs the chance to highlight the issues which affect disabled people & carers most. I’m also approaching journalists who know from their own email inboxes what disabled people & carers are facing everyday.

With the local elections just a matter of days away, it’s important that politicians know what the public want them to be talking about. In the 21st century, there’s no more instant way of connecting to an MP than Twitter. Clark harnessing that platform for the better is a welcome intervention – but it needs everybody to get involved with it too.

Get Involved!

Join in with Clark’s #TweetForDisabledPeople campaign.

Featured image via Nicky Clark – Twitter

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