What do you understand by the social model of disability and how is it relevant to the NEC?

Sonny Bailey

The social model of disability says that we are disabled through society’s actions. That is true. Accessibility and inclusion should be at the forefront of the Labour Party, including on the NEC.

Richard Rieser

Attitudinal,environmental barriers are what disable us. We have many different physical or mental long-term impairments but  we face a common oppression of disabilism that manifests itself through the above barriers. Therefore we must unite in solidarity to struggle against removing these barriers and creating equality for disabled people. If elected I will be guided by the above in seeking to remove barriers and make the Labour Party habitable and supportive of disabled people and our issues on NEC.

EliSabeth Roberts

“The social model of disability, is that what makes an individual disabled, is not their disability, but the structures and attitudes of society. If everyone were to be given equality and the structures for inclusivity, then the social model of disability would not exist. 

It is imperative, that we as members with dis/ability, have a voice to present our views, experiences and play an active part, in setting the overall strategic direction of the party and policy development. This is something that I have lots of experience in with my local NHS trust, and educational authority over the last sixteen years.”

Nik Oakley

Relevant NEC in both that it should not be a barrier to anyone with a disability and that any policy must be inclusive.

Mr George Lindars-Hammond

The social model of Disability is about viewing the experiences of Disabled people in terms of how society disables us rather than having an inherent disability which needs to be treated medically alone. This is core to representing Disabled members on the NEC as the party can and should be a movement to achieve the societal changes we need to the things that disable us.

John James Doherty

It is a identification of barriers against individuals of of all types disabilities and impairments, no matter their, Race, Religion, politics, gender or sexuality and they they can be, overcome by treating everyone, able bodied or people with a disability, equally and without prejudice. the Social model is important to N E C, as it included in the UNRPD 2006 (United Nations Convention On The Rights Of Person With Disabilities) and the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) and the Labour Party Documents.

Kevin Watts

I have never fully agreed with the social model regarding disability, as I don’t feel that it is wide enough in covering the issues today. It is negative in its narrative. There are other models, which when taken together, would better fully define “disability”. The SMOD is however the format that we use in the UK, & therefore is the foundation of our policies

Emily Pomroy-Smith

The social model of disability describes how it is society and it’s structures that disables us, this is incredibly relevant to the function of the NEC as it is the Party structures that prevent full participation of disabled members.,

Geraldine Bird

The social model of disability identifies systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society, I would like to see more disabled members on the NEC and I would push for it 

Kendrick Fowler

Unlike The Medical Model which sees disability as ‘something to be fixed’  by trying to make the person appear or function as less disabled. the Social Model says that the remedy is a change in the interaction between the individual and society. 

In line with this, the role of the NEC is to fully support the identification of systemic barriers, derogatory attitudes and social exclusion (intentional or inadvertent) which make it difficult or impossible for individuals with impairments to attain full and equal inclusivity,

It should also ensure that at every level of functioning within the Labour Party, this identification should originate with disabled members or relevant representative bodies such that the steps taken to provide inclusivity and respect are in line with what the disabled people themselves specify rather than anyone assuming anything on their behalf  

This is relevant to the NEC as it means that the Labour Party as an institution must adapt to meet the needs of disabled members rather than disabled members adapting to meet the needs of the Labour Party

James Driver

I understand the social model of disability to be that of the systemic approach towards the way  disability is fundamentally viewed. This means that nobody is disabled due to their impairment but are in fact only disabled because of society’s attitude towards their  impariment. Therefore it is the first  job of the disability rep on the NEC to take away the barriers associated with people having impartiments, and to achieve a party structure that champions equality of opportunity for all members with an impairment. 

Ellen Morrison

The social model of disability is a tool developed by disabled people in order to understand our experiences and guide social change. It’s the understanding that as disabled people, we live with impairments but we’re disabled by the barriers in society – barriers which prevent us living independently and with dignity and which exclude or devalue us. 

The social model allows us to rethink the way we view disability. It can be liberating for some, especially when many of us first viewed disability through the lens of the medical model which typically underpins UK healthcare and social security, and often frames disability as something ‘wrong’ with us. Personally, it has helped me understand that I don’t need to try and adapt to fit society, but the other way round.

It can also be a helpful tool for non-disabled people in understanding our right to be able to live equally in society. Importantly we can use it beyond our personal relationship with understanding disability – it can be used as a tool for collective action, and unite our shared experiences without focus on the differences of our impairments.

Recently I helped organise a DPAC meeting called “Reinvigorating the Social Model of Disability” which aimed to open up a discussion about how we use and adapt it to make it relevant now. The social model can be a useful starting point, but it was intended to be developed and adapted. An important point to note, that can often be missed in discussions around the social model, is that it does acknowledge the sometimes significant pain and distress we experience as a result of our impairments.

Ahead of the 2017 election, Labour formally committed itself to supporting the social model in its policy platform. However, it has not implemented this commitment, and it is vital the next NEC Disabled Members Rep takes this forward.

This requires both a reassessment of the way Labour’s rules and procedures approach (or fail to consider) disability, and a wholesale shift in culture, educating staff, members and representatives on why they should use the social model and how it applies to their politics. We also need to ensure that the social model remains one of our commitments if we get into government.”#