I have just been reading an excellent blog, written by Labour Peer, Dame Anne Begg, about disabled people and politics.
Fascinating stuff and I am feeling inspired.
I want to get involved too. I want to play my part.
But how? When you are severely disabled and restricted to bed most of the time due to your impairment, what can you do? I don’t know but I want to find out.
Politics is something I have come to rather late in life but at least I’ve got there. I am not going to sit back and let it all happen around me any longer, I want to do my bit. I am not an up-and-coming, energetic, young, would-be MP, I am a mouthy middle-aged woman who is not afraid to say what she thinks. And I have finally decided that I want my voice to be heard. I have spent too many years doing nothing more constructive than yelling at the TV during programmes such as ‘Question Time’ and ‘Daily Politics’ and I want more. I have started reading everything I can find about what is going on both at home and abroad and I have my own opinions on what I am seeing. I have joined a political party and I am reading the literature they are putting out. I am playing an active part in on-line political discussion on a variety of social media sites and I am loving it.
And I am writing. I am writing a lot. I am writing a lot and people are reading what I am writing. They may not agree with what I am trying to say but that is not important. At least my opinion is being seen. My voice is being heard.
I know I am not the only disabled person who is doing this, others are also writing and protesting and playing an active part in the politics of this country but there needs to be more. So many things are happening at the moment which are having an adverse effect on the lives of disabled people and this needs to stop. Disabled people must stop relying on the vocal few and unite and fight together against the unfair policies which are being foisted upon us. If we are unhappy we need to say so. We need to make sure that political parties start thinking about how disabled people would be affected by the legislative changes they want to make before they propose making those changes. We need to demand that we are asked for our opinions and input right from the start.
And maybe that is the way forward. Maybe that is what disabled people can do. Maybe that is what I can do.
There are eleven million disabled people in Great Britain, which represents around nineteen percent of the British population. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of people whose lives would be affected by new legislation. That’s a lot of people whose voices need to be heard. I want to see disabled people involved in formulating and writing all policies from the outset. I want disabled people to be consulted every time new legislation or changes to existing legislation is considered. I want disabled people to play a much greater role in the politics of this country. I know there are already some disabled individuals and some fantastic disability groups that are fighting hard and doing amazing things to protect our interests but there should be more. I would like to see many, many other disabled people who have had enough and who want to fight too doing their bit and, that together, we can make a difference.
Dame Anne Begg is one of the trailblazers. I want to follow her lead and do my bit too. I may not be sure how to do this yet but I do know I want to try.