Disabled people make their voices heard as election approaches

Section: Policy into PracticeType: News Item Date Published: 5th May 2021

On 22 April, 80 disabled people, families and carers questioned representatives of the major political parties.

Ahead of the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections, 80 disabled people, families and carers came together to put forward their questions to representatives of the major political parties at an online hustings event on Thursday 22 April.

As many as one in five people in Scotland are disabled or have a long term health condition, meaning they are a sizeable portion of the electorate. Despite this, very little time has been given to debating the issues that directly affect disabled people and families during the campaigning period.

The hustings event was organised by a consortium of nine major charities who are trying to rebalance the debate so that the voices of disabled people and families are heard and their views considered.

At the hustings, disabled people from the five main Scottish political parties on a wide range of issues including social care, the impact of the pandemic, social security, employment, and rights and access. The panel was chaired by award-winning freelance journalist and broadcaster Pennie Taylor, who specialises in health and social care issues and covered by STV on Wednesday.

Rob Holland, External Affairs Manager for the National Autistic Society Scotland and one of the organisers of the hustings said: “Around one million people in Scotland have a disability or long-term health condition yet their views are often excluded from the national debate.

Given the uncertainty about the post-COVID landscape it is more important than ever for political parties to hear from disabled people and families, understand the challenges they face and do something about it.”

Party representatives included:

  1. Scottish Liberal Democrats John Waddell, candidate standing on the North East regional list.
  2. For the SNP – Neil Gray – Former Westminster MP and spokesperson on social security. He is standing for Airdrie & Shotts.
  3. For the Scottish Greens – Gillian Mackay is herself a disabled campaigner and standing on the Central Scotland List.
  4. For Scottish Labour Pam Duncan-Glancy, Spokesperson on Social Security and candidate for Kelvin & on the Glasgow List
  5. For the Scottish Conservatives, Jeremy Balfour, Disability Spokesperson and candidate for the Lothian Region

The organisations who organised the hustings event were: ENABLE Scotland, the ALLIANCE, Leonard Cheshire Disability, MS Society Scotland, National Autistic Society Scotland, RNIB Scotland, Scottish Autism, Sense Scotland, and Sight Scotland.

You can listen to an audio version of the organisations’ hustings on YouTube (this link will take you away from our website).

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