I want to encourage the inclusion of disabled members in everything the Labour Party strives to achieve. I will constructively challenge when policy, practice and procedures act as barriers to the participation of disabled members. For me it is about enabling our movement: Labour Party, trade unions and socialist societies to open opportunity for disabled members. I will be an advocate for fairer representation and the use of affirmative action, such as Disability Only Shortlists, job sharing and electoral reform.
I will engage with disabled members using a variety of interactive communications, including reporting back and taking feedback. My engagement will include reaching out to trade union self-organised disabled members groups, to help further the bonds that hold our movement together. This has the potential of increasing disabled people’s involvement in both Labour Party and trade unions alike.
I want to stimulate change by raising awareness and developing political education with CLP’s and unions.
Creating a better understanding of the needs and aspirations of disabled members will shift our movement into a more inclusive culture, with the potential to diversify active membership, leadership of all kinds and better inform mainstream policy. The proposed Labour College could be instrumental in that endeavour, so I would advocate for disabled members participation and incorporation of disability issues rooted in the social model.
A Labour Party more reflective of disabled people lived experience will enable our movement to speak more authentically to the wider public and increase voting support: for example, disabled people are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus, Brexit and austerity.
I want to see the recommendations of the Democracy Review implemented – moving from rules and process to practical ways to engage disabled members. I would use this reserved seat to engage with disabled members, encourage Disability Forums to be created and for the proposed Disability Section to take shape with the formation of a steering group and national conferences once coronavirus restrictions allow.
I will advocate for resources to make face-to-face and online meetings inclusive, information and buildings accessible, training for non-disabled staff and activists and development opportunities for disabled members.
Sometimes things go wrong and our movement hasn’t always acknowledged mistakes or been receptive to working differently. That’s why I will support independent oversight of complaints and methods for learning.
I will press for consistent equality monitoring and utilise data, along with feedback from disabled members, to help develop more inclusive policies, practices and procedures. This would include working with the Disabled Members Representative on Conference Arrangements Committee and officials.
As the task ahead is substantial, an inclusive Labour Party is only possible by bringing people with us on that journey. I believe the experience, knowledge and skills that I offer will give impetus to a more accessible Labour Party. With my track record on wider equality issues and understanding of intersectionality, I believe I can help us move towards a more diverse and inclusive Labour Party.