A former Liberal Democrat minister has welcomed th

first_imgA former Liberal Democrat minister has welcomed the UN’s decision to carry out an unprecedented inquiry into “systematic and grave violations” of disabled people’s human rights in the UK.Disability News Service (DNS) first revealed the existence of the inquiry last August and it was finally confirmed officially by Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, earlier this month.Now Norman Lamb, who served as care minister for nearly three years under the coalition and is now one of his party’s eight remaining MPs, has told DNS that he welcomes the decision of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) to launch the high-level inquiry.Speaking after his party’s annual conference in Bournemouth, he said: “It’s a good thing to examine whether the rights of people are being in effect violated.“This whole area does not get sufficient attention and the best way of putting a spotlight onto what is happening is by inquiries of this sort, highlighting what is going on.”The inquiry was triggered by the grassroots campaigning organisation Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which had grown increasingly concerned by the disproportionate impact of the coalition’s cuts on disabled people.Over the last two-and-a-half years, DPAC has been submitting evidence to CRPD about “vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths”.Among the areas where DPAC says the UK government has breached the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are through its decision to close the Independent Living Fund, the damage caused by the work capability assessment, the impact of benefit sanctions, the introduction of the bedroom tax, and cuts to social care.Lamb delivered a widely-praised speech to his party’s annual conference in Bournemouth this week on the need for more resources for social care (and the NHS) and for equality for those with mental health conditions.He told DNS that it was “hard to judge” whether the UN would have been investigating even graver violations of the disability convention if his party had not been in the coalition, but he said: “I absolutely know that the situation would have been much, much worse had it not been for us in there, and particularly in the area of welfare.“I think everyone can see, if you look at the situation now [since May’s general election]… what the Tories are like without us. That indicates the battles that we fought throughout the coalition.“It is pretty difficult with 57 MPs and we didn’t get any credit for it at the general election, but I think that many of the steps taken [by the Conservatives] since then demonstrate why our role was so important.“I am very, very clear that we hold our heads absolutely high for the actions we took both in ameliorating what would otherwise have happened, but also in doing some very positive things ourselves.”last_img read more

Sign up to LabourLists morning email for everythi

first_imgSign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.Is one side finally going to call it quits on the cross-party Brexit talks? That’s what both main parties are demanding of their respective leaders, more loudly now than ever with European elections taking place next week. The backbench 1922 committee chair and 13 former cabinet ministers have written a letter to the Prime Minister, telling her to end talks and reject Labour’s customs union solution.Jeremy Corbyn received a similar message from his own parliamentary party at the latest PLP meeting last night, where Labour MPs shared their strong concerns about losing Remainer votes due to the current Brexit policy (and Leaver John Mann warned the leader again that he would never get into No10 if he didn’t “get Brexit right”).The latest YouGov poll on European election voting intention shows The Brexit Party way ahead on 34%. No surprise given its clear message. Then it’s Labour on 16%, Lib Dems 15%, Greens 11% – and many MPs are hearing from Remain-backing Labour switchers on the doorstep. London MPs in particular are publicly expressing their worries, including Ruth Cadbury who has written a piece for LabourList directed at members who are planning to vote for a ‘Remain’ party in protest. Although members are not allowed to support parties standing against Labour, obviously, many are openly telling canvassing activists and MPs that they will be doing just that next week.“We know we are under attack. The only way is to strengthen our message in an understandable, simpler way. I get that,” Corbyn told the PLP meeting. But ultimately, the leadership expects the current ‘facing both ways’ Brexit position to be damaging in the Euro elections. As long as Labour gets the second highest share of votes on May 23rd, the top of the party isn’t too worried, and still believes that abandoning a big chunk of Labour’s electoral constituency by making a clear stand on Brexit would be a disaster.As Ian Warren of Centre for Towns points out, Labour’s working class base has been “slowly replaced with younger, liberal metropolitans with little tribal loyalty to the party”. The party is making the most progress in cities and university towns (see Canterbury and Kensington in 2017; Trafford in the recent local elections), but this is unstable ground. We are now relying on the tendency of those electors to consider first-past-the-post in a general election and engage in tactical voting.All of the concerns outlined above are reflected in the results of our latest survey. Over three quarters of the nearly 4,000 respondents think Labour’s Brexit policy had been electorally damaging. More than half are “disappointed” by the recent local election results. Most notably, perhaps, over a third say they are planning to vote for a party other than Labour next week. And, just as in every other popularity poll conducted since we rebooted our surveys, results show Keir Starmer is the most popular shadow cabinet member among LabourList readers. Read the results in full here.So will this huge, sustained pressure lead to any major change in direction on Brexit? I wouldn’t bet on it.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.Tags:Jeremy Corbyn /Keir Starmer /Ian Warren /ruth cadbury /last_img read more