James Driver

Do you identify as a disabled person?

Yes

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

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.

How do you see your role as the Disabled Rep on the NEC?

To be the voice for disabled people within Labour to push for a system that empowers people with impairments to succeed and represent their party and community. This has to begin  with the party’s organisational structure which should be an environment in which equality and diversity is championed. This is only going to be improved if the party makes every part of the process accessible regardless of impairment and this should be the first role of Labour’s disability REP.

How do you propose to gain the interest and support of those who are not currently personally impacted by disability?

For people that do not have a disability, and for this reason are less aware of people’s ability to access things, it would be my personal responsibility to speak to those in charge of any Labour Party activities/ events to make sure they are accessible to all. This also relies a large amount on education for people less informed about the impact of specific inpariments.  Therefore I believe training should be available for any member of a CLP EXC that wishes to learn how to improve their local factilites

Your constituency is disabled members. What systems will you use to ensure you understand the views of disabled members on agenda items prior to each NEC meeting?

As outlined in my 5 key pledges I will set up and chair a regular forum to allow an open debate on which side of a motion I should take on specific matters. In the week leading to a meeting I will  run a full set of live forums to engage with every single member. I shall also give all members I represent contact details so we can speak 1- on1 at a time that fits their schedule.

What systems will use to report back to disabled members about what has happened at each NEC meeting?

I will run a post meeting forum to discuss and debate the full outcomes of anything that needs sharing with our members, I shall also write a full and extensive report about all outcomes that all members will be able to view via email .

What skills, abilities, experience and/or qualifications do you have that enable you to campaign and advocate on behalf of disabled people?

As someone that has been a wheelchair user all my life it allows me to experience how a lack of accessibility can affect your ability to participate in activities.  As someone that volunteers for the children’s charity Little hiccups I have worked with and provided support to many children with different conditions. Therefore this allows me to understand a vast amount of different impairments and what we as a party must do to become more inclusive for all.

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?

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

When and how did you first hear about the DEAL legal handbook?

This document is something I was not aware of until I was doing lots of research into the specifics of disability Labour therefore I have only known about this document for a matter of months.  Therefore whilst I wholeheartedly agree with  DEAL’s handbook it does need much better publication in my opinion to make sure it is noticed by as many people as possible in the wider Labour movement.

Are there any sections of the DEAL legal handbook you don’t agree with and why? Do you have suggestions for improvement?

I agree with all sections of the deal handbook and would like to see it implemented in full however it must be given more traction within the Labour movement to allow it to have the maximum impact possible on party policy.  

Do you commit to actively working to make the handbook internal Party policy?

Yes

If yes to the previous question, how do you plan to get the NEC to acknowledge the DEAL legal handbook and make it internal policy?

I would first begin by pushing the leadership to adopt it as full party policy to pass at conference.  To support this I would speak to as many CLP’s as possible to encourage them to pass the DEAL handbook as policy to give much more recognition to disabled members and help the Labour party to be at the forefront of the push for an ethical equality policy.

What do you understand by intersectionality and will it be important to your NEC role ?

I understand it to mean an overlapping of soical divides within the class system that exasperates already widening class gaps which makes sucseeding as part of a minority community even more difficult.  Therefore intersectionality is vital part of my role as rebalancing this is a vital part of supporting our disabled members to succeed within our party and even more importantly,  wider society. 

Are you committed to making the UNCRPD incorporated into domestic legislation and why?

Yes. The UNCRPD showed that the government had committed grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights and the UK response was woeful. As the UK leaves the European Union, it’s hugely important that we ensure disabled people’s human rights are not rolled back. The UNCRPD was developed by disabled people and actually offers a more progressive model of disabled people’s rights than by the EU. It would be hugely significant for the Party to put this front and centre of their policy priorities.

How would you abolish WCA?

I would push for the abolishment of the WCA and replace it with an individual system that assesses everyone;s individual circumstances, how ill that person is, the type of job they had, their mobility so that their package of support can be tailored to them.

What do you think should be the Party’s policy priorities in the areas of social care and social security?

Whilst there are understandably many issues that must be resolved in terms of social security the main one has to be the scrapping of Universal credit as this system has been at the centre of everything that is wrong with the Tory welfare state in its current form. Due to the sheer amount of people that this system has pushed into poverty for nothing more than small state ideological purposes. 

Would you support an independent disability commission?

Yes