The Disability Rights Taskforce 2015?

Later this evening I’m going to a reception hosted by the Labour Party to mark International Day of Disabled Persons.  Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Rachel Reeves and Shadow Disability Minister Kate Green will all be there and I hope we might expect something significant by way of clues as to Labour’s manifesto commitments on disabled people’s rights.

Here’s what I’d love to hear Ed say:

“The last Labour government came to power on a manifesto commitment to deliver full civil rights to disabled people.  We made major strides forward, putting in place disability equality legislation that is the envy of the world, reforming our outdated laws on mental capacity to ensure people can be the author of their own lives and reforming our public services to put more power into the hands of those requiring support to live independently and to be included in the community.  Alongside this we instituted reforms to our social security system to promote work for those who could and to protect vital security for those who could not work, tacking long term unemployment and low expectations.  We did not always get it right – as the ongoing situation of people with learning disabilities confined to institutions shows – and there remained much work to do, but our achievements enabled us to confidently ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2009.

Sadly so much of those achievements have been undermined by the policies and decisions of the Conservative led government.   Key features of our equality law, such as the duty to involve disabled people or to assess the impact of policy proposals undone or undermined.  Cuts to to the very support that would enable more disabled people to participate and contribute socially and economically.  An abandonment of key programmes which had enjoyed cross party support such as the independent living strategy.  And welfare reforms without work replacing welfare to work.

The climate has changed; the deficit has not gone away; a Labour government will face difficult decisions about how to prioritise spending.  But we remain resolute in our commitment to the rights of disabled people to participate fully in our society as equal citizens.   And to these ends I pledge today that just as in 1997 a Labour government will on coming to power establish a new Disability Rights Task Force to advise us how we can begin to repair the damage done and move the disability rights agenda forwards.’






2 thoughts on “The Disability Rights Taskforce 2015?

  1. I would like him to end by saying

    “Furthermore, we commit to working in full and equal partnership with the Disability Task Force to develop a national plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which the UK is committed in international law” .


    The Coalition government has acted as though the Convention did not exist and has seriously undermined its General Principles and Obligations and many of its Articles. These include Articles concerned with liberty and security of the person (14), freedom from torture or cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (15); freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (16); independent living and being included in the community (19); adequate standard of living and social protection (28) and above all national implementation and monitoring (33).

    The UK report to the UN Human Rights bodies was due to be considered early next year but because the date has now been put back, the incoming government will have to report to a CRPD Committee, of whom 17 out of 18 elected members are persons with disabilities (; The Committee has been highly critical of the quality of implementation by governments of the 15 countries on which its work has been completed, including Austria, Hungary,Spain and Sweden, In its most recent report to the UN General Assembly, it highlighted
    • limited opportunities given by governments to DPOs to participate in the development of national action plans.
    • implementation plans lacking targets and time-lines.
    • the persistence of charity, welfare and medical perspectives at the expense of the social model of disability.
    • a disproportionate emphasis on earlier achievements and future intentions
    • commitment to segregated provision or two-tiered systems described as inclusive in some high income countries.
    • particular shortcomings in the implementation of Articles on education, employment, independent living and equality before the law.

    The UK was once a world leader in developing policies and legislation but has for some time been failing to ensure that these policies benefit disabled people at local level. The Convention presents a unique opportunity to address missed opportunities. Use it or Lose It.

    Peter Mittler

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