NEC Disability Rep: A Win for Disabled Members
The 2020 Labour Party NEC* elections are the first time that the disabled members get their say in the governing body of the party with the position of disabled representative being created. This is a monumental achievement for us disabled members as disabled people have been one of the most impacted by the last 10 years of Conservative rule. This achievement would enable disabled people to be at the heart of policy and decision making within the party. It is also important that disabled people are treated equally in society and anything less is unsatisfactory. With this is mind, I spoke to some local disabled members and two candidates for the new NEC position, George Lindars-Hammond and Ellen Morrison (Note: All candidates were reached out to and asked if they wanted to make a contribution to the article).
Why is it an achievement that there is a disabled members representative on the NEC for the first time?
“It is good news that this position has been created and it is a credit to those who have fought for many years for Disabled people’s representation in the party. There are so many barriers to the participation of Disabled members from the additional costs of getting involved to limited opportunities to become elected representatives.”George Lindars-Hammond – Disabled Member’s representative candidate
“It is a really important step for disabled members that we will finally have a Disabled Members’ representative on the NEC for the first time. Time and time again we’ve seen that when decisions are made without disabled people’s input, they negatively impact on us, whether that’s in terms of our access to party spaces, Labour’s own policies, or the wider disabled people’s movement and our fight against discrimination and institutionalisation.
A key tenet of the disabled people’s movement is ‘nothing about us without us,’ a demand that we deserve to be the one’s making the decisions about our lives and livelihoods.
It’s therefore a big step forward to have our own representative on Labour’s ruling body.”Ellen Morrison – Disabled Member’s representative candidate
“I think it’s great that there is a disabled representative because it shows that being disabled doesn’t mean you are any less capable than someone who isn’t. It is also an acknowledgment that disabled individuals have their own separate needs from non-disabled individuals. Because often the needs of those who are disabled, can be overlooked. ”Reed James – Local Labour Party member
“It is essential the issues linked to the rights of the disabled are raised at the highest level and in the most forceful manner. Our disabled Rep is the first real opportunity to express the view of so many people and gain support to proceed at national level.”Geoffrey Stollard – Local Labour Party member
“Of course it is important that we have Reps to represent different diverse communities and identities such as LGBTQ and BAME members, however, particularly when some CLP’s do not even have a disability officer I feel that it is imperative we have at least one person to speak up for our interests at NEC level. Disabled people often face unique challenges such as access, need for reasonable adjustments at work, with transport and during leisure time, difficulties and challenges with the Department of Work and Pensions (getting PIP and ESA and with the private assessment companies), we often require greater access to health and social care and with wider societal discrimination. This appointment is long overdue. “Jodie Richards – Local Labour Party member
What value will having a representative for disabled members on the NEC?
“It is only by electing someone who is ready to really challenge the barriers that Disabled members face in our party and in society that we will realise the value of having this NEC position. I strongly believe that my experience as a Disability activist and senior Councillor makes me the person to use this new position to the full and help transform our party for Disabled members.”George Lindars-Hammond – Disabled Member’s Representative Candidate
“I hope having a disabled representative will lead to better outcomes within the Labour Party for members. Such as more accessible events, at the recent Labour Connected event for example. I joined dozens of events but only one had any sort of accessibility for the disabled and that was someone signing along to the current speakers. So it shows that even an organisation as disability friendly as Labour, isn’t doing as much as it could to make events accessible. And more importantly having the influence of a disabled representative on the NEC, could lead a future Labour Government to make even better provisions for the disabled.”Reed James – Local Labour Party Member
“I believe that having a disabled representative on the NEC will be greatly valued by many disabled party members as it will feel as if we are finally being included and having our needs taken into consideration at that level. It can be frustrating trying to be heard at CLP level when it comes to reasonable adjustments and tackling ableism. If the Party is to win the next general election then disabled voters are needed obviously.”Jodie Richards – Local Labour Party Member
How to Have Your Say
CLP nominations have now closed and 11 candidates have successfully made it onto the ballot. To have a vote you would have needed to be a member before the 23 August 2020 and have told the party that you are a disabled member. The ballot to cast your vote will open on the 19th October and will end on the 12th November with the results being announced the following day.
* What is the NEC?
“The National Executive Committee (NEC) is the governing body of the Labour Party, overseeing the overall direction of the party and the policy-making process. It sets strategic objectives on an annual basis and meets regularly to review the work of the party.”