Do you identify as a disabled person?
What do you understand by the social model of disability and how is it relevant to the NEC?
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.
How do you see your role as the Disabled Rep on the NEC?
The role on the NEC makes is possible to ensure that the views and requirements of disabled members are heard at the heart of party procedure, disciplinary process and internal structures. Too often we are an afterthought, and things are only adapted at our request, we now have the opportunity to demand that the Party is proactively inclusive, and that access is not optional, or ‘nice to have’, it is essential.
How do you propose to gain the interest and support of those who are not currently personally impacted by disability?
We know that one in four people have a disability, and that the majority of those were not born with a disability, but ‘become’ disabled. We are all just one day, ageing, an accident, and illness, away from being disabled. Access isn’t just for disabled people, it is for carers, parents, the elderly, people who work unsociable hours, and is there when you break your leg. I am more than confident in my ability to persuade and articulate the many benefits of inclusivity to all, and if all else fails I have no qualms reminding people of their legal obligations.
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?
I am proposing setting up a network for all branch and CLP disability officers, this would be a communication tool where we could share ideas, develop motions and provide training and support. I would then use this network to communicate with our disabled officers. If successful I would then aim to make this a network for all disabled members.
What systems will use to report back to disabled members about what has happened at each NEC meeting?
In addition to the above I would use social media, a blog and emails.
What skills, abilities, experience and/or qualifications do you have that enable you to campaign and advocate on behalf of disabled people?
The first and most important is that I have direct experience of living with disability. I am an ambulatory wheelchair user, with multiple diagnoses related to a genetic disorder that I have had from birth, though like many I was only diagnosed as an adult. I have had a successful career as a disabled person, am a mother, was a disabled parliamentary candidate, and am now a self employed business owner. In addition I have also been a carer for my father, who has bi polar, and have advocated for him and myself in our respective PIP claims, and his two appeals, and now have power of attorney. This role however is more than just being disabled.
I have worked for nearly twenty years in sales, management and design, and have experience in planning and chairing meetings, negotiating and dispute resolution, I am an effective and creative team player, able to listen, guide and lead. I am highly organised, articulate, adaptable and quick on my feet, or more accurately, wheels. I have no doubt that I would be able to transfer these skills to the Labour NEC.
Last year I was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Wiltshire, a week later the General Election was called. I had to learn on the job, and with a huge amount of support from my CLP and campaign manager I thrived and despite the result in a Tory stronghold, by all accounts did a tremendous job under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I learned a huge amount in a very short time, and have gone on to take a more active role in my CLP as Disabilities, Women’s, BAME, and LGBT Officer. I have found where I belong.
I think that it is really important that the Disabled Rep is factionally neutral and not tied to any specific union agenda. We need the rep to represent ALL disabled members, and to use their vote to prioritise disabled members above all else.
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?
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
When and how did you first hear about the DEAL legal handbook?
Through the facebook page when I joined.
Are there any sections of the DEAL legal handbook you don’t agree with and why? Do you have suggestions for improvement?
No, though I think it would be great if there were a condensed version (please forgive me if there already is one, I may have missed this
Do you commit to actively working to make the handbook internal Party policy?
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 support DEAL to draft a motion for conference, and use the network of CLP and Branch officers to gain broad support. I believe in the sovereignty of conference, and that all policy is for the membership to decide.
What do you understand by intersectionality and will it be important to your NEC role ?
As a bisexual, disabled woman and mother I strongly believe that if your fight for equality is not intersectional then it means absolutely nothing. The disabled membership is made up of people of all races, genders and sexualities. It is imperative that the disabled rep stand for ALL disabled members
Are you committed to making the UNCRPD incorporated into domestic legislation and why?
Yes, though this would be outside my remit on the NEC.
How would you abolish WCA?
This is an incredibly complex issue, and I would in this case defer to those who have done the research and are working on exactly this problem. My instincts would be for GP and specialist led assessments, but as someone who had to fight for 3 years for a diagnosis of something that was apparent as soon as I learned to walk, I have a small level of distrust of some of the medical profession.
What do you think should be the Party’s policy priorities in the areas of social care and social security?
I believe that in the current pandemic crisis the only logical solution is UBI, this is something that would improve the basic standard of living for every person.
Would you support an independent disability commission?