The Conservative Party manifesto is already shaping up to be one of the most controversial in recent years. But there’s one aspect where the Tories have defied even the United Nations. And in doing so, it sends a message not only to the UN, but to millions of people across the country.
In the space of a year, the UN has released three reports into the current Conservative government, and the previous coalition one. And in each, it heavily criticised the Tories’ policies regarding sick and disabled people. Going so far as to say that they had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. But the Conservative manifesto makes no mention of any of this.
Instead, it mainly focuses on getting disabled people into work. The manifesto specifically says the Tories will:
- “Incentivise” businesses to employ disabled people [pdf p.56].
- Confront “burning injustices” regarding disabled people and those living with mental health issues [pdf p.58].
- Get “1 million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years” [pdf p.59].
- Continue to “ensure a sustainable welfare system” [pdf p. 59].
- “Amend” and “improve” regulation surrounding access issues for disabled people [pdf p.60].
- “Improve standards of care” for “those with learning disabilities and autism” [pdf p.72].
- “Push forward” with tackling hate crime disability [pdf p.46].
In positioning its manifesto like this, the Conservative Party has essentially ignored the findings of three UN reports. The detail of which included:
- Accusing successive governments of helping to create a society where disabled people are “negatively portrayed as being dependent or making a living out of benefits; committing fraud as benefit claimants; being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who are paying ‘money for nothing'”.
- Saying the UK government has forced through reforms with no regard for the rights of disabled people.
- Noting that welfare reforms had “had a more negative impact on households with persons with disabilities”.
- Criticisms of cuts to Legal Aid; failures to monitor how reforms were affecting disabled people; the Welfare Reform Act 2012, specifically that it broke set international conventions on disabled people’s rights and ‘fit-for-work’ tests not recognising the complexity of disabled people’s conditions.
Screw the law
The UN specifically noted the UK government had violated disabled people’s human rights due to:
- The Bedroom Tax.
- Changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
- Cuts to social care.
- The abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
- Caps on benefits.
It slammed the Conservatives for introducing reforms that had caused “high levels of stress, anxiety and depression”. It criticised them for stripping disabled people’s support away at every level, by closing the ILF. The UN also called out the Conservatives’ reforms to care provision. It stated that this, coupled with cuts to budgets, had led to “financial hardship” and stopped disabled people from taking “part in community life”. And it ultimately said that governments had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.
The Tories’ response to all three reports? To simply shrug their shoulders and say they didn’t believe them. And because of the way the UN works, the Tories can do this; the UN has no legal power to force the government to act.
May said in her first speech as PM that she would “govern not in the interests of the privileged few”. But any last shred of that statement being believable has now vanished. Because in ignoring the UN, she is also ignoring the pain and suffering her party has caused to millions of sick and disabled people. And with its manifesto, the Conservative Party appears to be fully intent on continuing this assault.
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– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
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