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major strides forward, putting in place disability equality legislation that is the envy of the world, reforming our outdated laws on mental capacity to ensure people can be the author of their own lives and reforming our public services to put more power into the hands of those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.’