John McDonnell nails how Labour would change the government’s ‘absolutely brutal’ attitude towards disabled people

John McDonnell wants to give more power to disabled people
Sam Woolfe

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke at the National Disabled People’s Summit in London. And he spelled out how Labour will give people more power. He said that, under a Labour government, disabled people will make decisions about – and put into practice – disability policies.

“Nothing about us without us”

McDonnell said that he is committed to “that principle for disabled people of ‘nothing about us without us’”. This principle aims to make politics more democratic. Last year, McDonnell said he wanted Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to be:

at the heart of government, sitting alongside ministers and others, advising them on how to implement… policies.

McDonnell emphasised that this move would help to tackle austerity cuts.

“Absolutely brutal”

The Shadow Chancellor argued Tory policies have been “absolutely brutal”, adding that the government has:

made a specific decision that they would target disabled people for their cuts.

McDonnell told attendees that fighting austerity depends on pointing out how the government impacts upon the lives of disabled people.

As The Canary previously reported, the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Theresia Degener, stressed how the Conservative government had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people. The UN found the current government guilty of “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s rights.

A report published by disability group Spartacus in 2012 revealed that 74% of respondents were opposed to Personal Independence Payments, which is replacing the Disability Living Allowance benefit. Authors of the report noted the reforms negatively impact disabled people. And they argued the consultation process was flawed in a variety of ways.

Doing politics differently

Perhaps we can apply the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ to other vulnerable sections of society as well, such as homeless or elderly people. After all, service users are in the best position to decide how policies should affect them.

Bob Williams-Findlay, a former chair of the British Council of Disabled People, wants a “complete transformation of society”. McDonnell aims to give more power to disabled people in order to help achieve this. If the goal is social change, then politics has to become more democratic. The voiceless need to have their voices heard.

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