Some of us – This Writer included – have spent years campaigning to get the UN to take action. Isn’t this exactly what we wanted?
Well, yes it is. But only if there is a reasonable possibility that the UK government will be compelled to rectify any mistreatment of people with long-term illnesses or disabilities – and recent history suggests that this will not happen.
Remember when the UN condemned the UK’s Conservative government for “grave and systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities”? It was last November. The Mail on Sunday contrived to force the report’s publication to take place while reporting of the US presidential campaign was at fever pitch, so nobody will blame you if you missed it.
The UN made 11 recommendations, including calling on the UK government to carry out a study of the cumulative impact of all spending cuts on disabled people & to ensure the human rights of disabled people are upheld.
In response, the government stated it “did not plan to follow up on any of the recommendations”.
End of story. The UN did nothing and was left looking toothless and impotent. Sick and disabled people were no better off and campaigners like myself felt betrayed.
Now the UN is back – but what guarantee do we have that it can make the Tories listen, or even that it will accept the mountain of evidence that has been provided?
Won’t the Nasty Party simply shrug off any recommendations and try to force its own “alternative facts” – as Theresa May’s new best friends in the United States describe lies – onto its media mouthpieces?
What will be the effect on disabled people of further humiliation if the United Nations proves unable to enforce its findings, yet again?
This seems to be a case in which this huge, well-intentioned international organisation may find itself doing more harm than good – unless it finds the resolve to force the issue, whether the Tories like it or not.
Forgive my moment of doubt, but do we really think that is going to happen?
There’s surely no need for the UN to be examining Britain’s record, is there? What with all the wonderful policies the Government has in place to help people with disabilities?
It’s just that, as a precursor to [the forthcoming UN investigation], a group of organisations representing people with disabilities were asked to write a report putting their views. Published this morning, it paints a very different picture to the one I imagine the Government would put forward. One that the average person living with disabilities in Britain might have a little more sympathy with.
The report, by Disability Rights UK (DRUK), Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales, highlights sharp cuts to benefits and support endured by disabled people since the Coalition government started to swing the axe wielded by former Chancellor George Osborne.
It raises the issue of a rising tide of abuse and hate crime. That, of course, has been fuelled by certain elements in the media, aided and abetted by a Government that is well aware of how much easier cuts are to sell if you can convince the electorate that they’re targeted at the undeserving.
The UK has, in fact, been headed in a profoundly regressive direction.
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