Emily’s Experience On Disability Issues

I joined the Labour Party in 1981 and have stayed with it through thick and thin for nearly 40 years.

I was Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate in Sutton and Cheam for the 2015 General Election. Selected in 2013, I spent 18 months campaigning to protect St Helier Hospital, press the Lib Dem council on austerity and the impact of cuts in public services, mobilise residents on closures to theatres, pubs and inappropriate planning applications.

As one of the few disabled candidates in 2015, I contributed to Labour’s policy development and Disability Manifesto.

I organised voter contact by door-to-door canvassing and phone bank, held street stalls and I received a high level of national profile when ‘coming out’ as Labour’s first trans parliamentary candidate in December 2014. This included a significant dispute with The Sun, resulting in a landmark IPSO ruling in my favour.

My role with EHRC involved influencing the Speakers Conference on Parliamentary Representation. It included research on ‘Pathways into Politics’ and creating the Access to Elected Office Fund for Disabled People, which was designed to meet the extra costs incurred by disabling barriers. This was ended by the Tory Government and put into the long grass. Working with other parties through More United, I was one of the litigants in the successful Judicial Review that forced the government to extend the schemes until 2019. With no support in place now, I want to find ways of delivering support to disabled candidates through statutory means and working more inclusively within the labour and trade union movement.

I was a London Assembly List Candidate in 2016, contributing to the collective effort to put Sadiq Khan into City Hall and maintain Labour’s control of the Assembly.

I have stood for Sutton Council three times, involving the development of manifestos and leaflets, organising voter contact and various events. As CLP Vice Chair (Politics) and in above roles, I have developed a strong local media profile in order to deliver Labour’s key messages and hold Tories and Lib Dem MP’s and Councillors to account.

Nationally, I am regularly interviewed by broadcast, print and online media. I have debated trans rights on the Today Programme, talked about disability rights on Sky News and extensively told my intersectional story to national newspapers and magazines. I have also written columns advocating Labour policy and written pieces for Labour List and similar publications, for instance, marking the centenary of the blind persons march ‘Rights Not Charity’ and government inaction on gender recognition reform.

Public speaking is another asset I would bring to this role. I have delivered a wide range of talks to local groups; speeches at national events, including Labour Party conferences, TedTalk and festivals, debated at Oxford and Cambridge unions and in a professional capacity given high level presentations and lectures.

I have served on Disability Labour’s Executive Committee, including leading it response to Labour’s Democracy Review. It involved undertaking research, holding consultation meetings with disabled members and writing a report with recommendations on reform.

I have served on LGBT+ Labour’s Executive Committee for around four years. I was responsible for co-ordinating campaigns, including LGBT+ Labour’s contribution to the 2017 General Election. I currently serve as its Disability Officer.

I have served on the Fabian Society Executive Committee for the last three years, contributing to policy development across the spectrum in conjunction with parliamentarians and opinion formers. I represent local societies on the Executive, so maintain links with members across the country. I led the development of the Fabian Society Engagement Strategy in 2018, which has resulted in a record number of members and participation rates.

I am a member of the Co-operative Party and have represented Sutton Branch at London conferences.