Do you think that there is institutional disablism in the Labour Party, if so, at what levels and what would you suggest to the NEC?

Sonny Bailey

Yes, there is institutional disablism within the Party. There is a lack of awareness and understanding when it comes to neurodiversity, and we also do not have Labour Party mediums which are accessible to disabled members. We need to make those mediums more accessible, and allow for disabled people to form part of the policymaking process, including those who have invisible disabilities. 

Richard Rieser

I think whenever equality issues are talked about disability is rarely mentioned which demonstrates institutional disabilism. There has been a lack of progress on making the Party habitable and proactive in responding to disabled people’s access needs and taking up our issues vigorously. On NEC (as mentioned above) I would  argue for setting up a substantial grant to provide access for disabled members at all levels of the Party. I will call out disabilism when it occurs. I will prioritise the setting up of disabled members’ branches and having standing items on branch and constituency party meeting agendas on disability issues; mandatory disability equality training, continuing use of Zoom for meetings even when face to face meetings resume and an annual disabled members’ conference.

EliSabeth Roberts

Personally, I have only ever had support from the Labour Party, when I arranged a parents protest march about the cuts to my local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, local Labour members turned up and I wasn’t a member then. The only support from a political party, has been from Labour, when my son at 11 years old had been held in a police cell, handcuffed for 4.5 hours, due to a mental health crisis and nowhere else for him to go due to financial cuts, it was Labour members who tried to bring it to the forefront. Our Conservative MP, wanted me to discuss the situation, at his surgery, which just happened to be a table in the middle of our central library, where lots of people stood to watch me breakdown in public. 

If members state there has been institutional disablism in the Labour Party, then as the NEC Disability Rep, I will ensure the NEC is fully aware, that an independent enquiry is undertaken, that changes are made, that the Labour Party values are written to include those with disabilities and other minorities, as an inclusive party.”

Nik Oakley Wider

knowledge of disability – particularly those that are invisible. Positive involvement of those with a disability. Everyone has a role to play in campaigning and we need to ensure that CLPs have a greater awareness,

Mr George Lindars-Hammond

I do. We shouldn’t confuse this with open enmity to Disabled members which I haven’t experienced. However, it is clear that the barriers to Disabled people’s involvement are substantial and represent a situation that it is institutionally disablist. 

We need to implement a series of changes, including those DEAL advocates for, to ensure that our culture becomes one that is supportive of full inclusion of disabled members.”

John James Doherty I have never found that in my case as a member of the Labour Party, but I’m sure there maybe cases at all levels within the Party, intentionally or un-intentionally, but in that case any subjected to any type of Disability Discrimination should be encouraged to come forward to the NEC and make their grievance know as soon as possible, so it can be dealt with quickly and without fear of recrimination.

Kevin Watts

Yes, & at all levels. I would be asking the NEC that before any decisions are made, it is ensured the issue of disability has been put at the front

Emily Pomroy-Smith

Yes, at all levels, this seems to be related to an apathy and lack of desire to implement the Equality Act. If you make anything related to disability ‘optional’ then we are ignored, we shouldn’t have to shout so loud to be heard and have basic, fundamental equal rights and access.

Geraldine Bird

Yes, I feel that people with a learning disability are not considered that they could be a councillor but the could with support, I would ask the NEC to look at this issue 

Kendrick Fowler

Unfortunately yes a lot of people myself included feel that instead of challenging the structures that oppress disabled people and hold them down. The Labour Party often imitates these structures.

Many of the party rules don’t make allowances for disabled people.Motions and rule changes are often passed without any input from disabled members.

Many disabled people were not able to vote for  for candidates in the recent leadership elections at CLP level.

The party has also scrapped the guaranteed interview scheme for disabled people applying for internal party jobs which whilst not disablist has nevertheless meant disabled party members currently miss out on experience for interviews

Even when we do have rules for disabled people they are often paper rules that are not really enforced.

I would suggest a complete a review of rules and standing orders alongside a disability audit,Reinstate the guaranteed interview scheme for disabled members and ensure that all stages of internal elections are accessible to disabled people.

James Driver

I do believe there is institutional disablism at all levels of the party because of the barriers involved in becoming active in the Labour party.   To combat this we need fully accessible meetings and aunual conference should have the option to be a virtual delegate to increase participation of people with different circumstances. We also need bespoke advice for people with an impairment who can stand for elected office.

Ellen Morrison

The Labour Party is institutionally disablist at every level. It has excluded us from its processes and structures, and its culture has led to discrimination against us. 

One of the clearest ways this can be illustrated is with recent changes to allow remote access, which we were told time and time again was an impossible request. It is only when the requirement has arisen for non-disabled people to access remote meetings that it has been allowed, revealing in-built disablist bias in the most basic ways our Party meets and does business. 

We need widespread change, and that starts with a Party-wide accessibility review. This review must have staff support and resources to examine every way in which barriers to access affect Party members, and should have the full support of the NEC in implementing their recommendations. DEAL’s participation and inclusion questionnaire is a strong basis to work from to ensure we gather the necessary information needed to meet members’ access needs, but a review can provide a wider picture into just how many people have been shut out of and let down by the Party.

Members, staff and representatives must also be trained in the social model of disability and disability equality, to see the cultural change necessary to shift the Party’s understanding of disability and recognise disabled people’s right to participate in our Party.

We also need robust changes to deal with disablist conduct by individual members. The NEC should draft a code of conduct on disablism, so that where there are incidences of hatred and discrimination towards disabled people, this can be identified and if necessary, disciplinary action can be taken.

Finally, we need to see an active, democratic and independent disabled member’s structure within the Labour Party, as promised in the Democracy Review. It’s time we had the space and organisation to advocate for our own interests within our Party.