Your Rights To Vote
From Shaping Our Lives
All voters have a right to vote independently and in secret and local
authorities in Great Britain have been told they must take proactive steps to ensure that polling stations don't disadvantage disabled people.
If you have any problems on election day, you should call your local authority to try to resolve this. You can also call the Electoral Commission on 0333 103 1928 or the Welsh language line on 0333 103 1929 for further guidance.
The role of the Electoral Commission (wording adapted from their website) is to monitor elections and referendums to make sure they are fair and to promote public confidence in the democratic process.
Another part of their role is to make sure that elections are accessible to everyone with them stating ‘We believe that anyone eligible to vote should be able to do so’. They have been working with charities such as Mencap and RNIB to ensure this occurs. Further information about the Electoral Commission is available at: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter.
The BBC have a straightforward guide on their website explaining a bit more about how our election process works: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49826655
The Electoral Commission have a factsheet for disabled voters (available on the Hammersmith and Fulham council website - https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/councillors-and-democracy/elections/help-disabled-voters).
It contains the following information:
- Local authorities now have to take proactive steps to ensure that polling stations don't disadvantage disabled people.
- All voters have a right to vote independently and in secret. A person who is registered to vote or who has been officially appointed as a proxy voter cannot be refused a ballot paper or the opportunity to vote on the grounds of mental or physical incapacity.
- Polling station staff must ensure that disabled voters are not offered a lower standard of service than other voters and should be able to explain what assistance is available to disabled voters wishing to vote in person at a polling station.
Disabled voters are also entitled to:
- The right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper - Disabled voters may request the assistance of the Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper for them. Alternatively, they can bring someone with them to help them vote (this person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a qualified elector).
- Tactile voting device - This is a plastic device that is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people or those with limited dexterity can mark their ballot paper in secret.
- Large-print version of the ballot paper - A large-print version of the ballot paper should be clearly displayed inside the polling station and a copy can be given to voters to take with them into the polling booth. A voter can’t vote on the large-print version, but it can be used for reference.
- Assistance to electors unable to gain access to the polling station - It is the responsibility of the relevant council to designate polling places [decide the places where people can vote] within their area and to keep these under review. In designating polling places, the council must have regard to accessibility for disabled voters. If an elector is unable to enter the polling station because of physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the elector.
The information on the Gov.uk website states:
If you’re disabled, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about:
- physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
- low-level polling booths
- equipment for voters with a visual impairment
For further information, visit https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk
The RNIB have been working with the government and the Electoral Commission, as voting for blind and partially sighted people remains unsatisfactory. RNIB have worked with the Electoral Commission to develop new resources for election staff, including an update to their training guides, a checklist of what should be in every polling station before it opens, and also a training video.
Videos about accessible voting are on the gov.uk website and are being used as guidance for staff - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessible-voting-for-all
The National Survivor User Network (NSUN) have done a useful article entitled ‘What match is there between political parties’ election manifestos and NSUN’s 2019 manifesto? A bird’s eye’. Details of this can be found via the following link: https://www.nsun.org.uk/news/match-between-party-political-manifestos-and-nsun-manifesto
No, the Tories aren't Nazis - By Scorpio
Don't worry I haven't gone soft, I still loathe and detest the wilful, callous and inhumane treatment of disabled people perpetrated by the Tories.
But, and it's a very big but, the Tories are not ideologically driven by the quest to create the Master Race.
The Nazis, in contrast, were determined to eradicate all those deemed to be genetically inferior; principally disabled people, Jews, Roma and Slavs (gay people, trade unionists and political opponents were deemed to be morally defective, thus, also a threat to Aryan Supremacy).
Disabled people faced compulsory sterilisation, medical experimentation and, ultimately, annihilation.
The Nazis pioneered the industrialisation of State sponsored murder; seeking the means to deliver both mass slaughter and efficient disposal of the corpses. The Death Camps were carefully planned and developed to maximise capacity.
It was this calculated, systemic and efficient pursuit of genocide, in the name of racial purity and supremacy, that must, forever, be synonymous with, the word, Nazi.
Anything less is an insult to those murdered.
So please let's not cheapen 'Nazi' by allowing it to become a mere substitute for 'nasty'.
The 'Cull of the crips' currently and continuingly being enacted by the Tories is a wilful, negligent, disregard for the consequences of their policies, not an end in and of itself.
Of course, we need to continue to shine the spotlight on; the, more than, ten thousand people who died within a matter of weeks after being deemed fit for work, those who have died or commited suicide after being sanctioned and those killed or viciously assaulted during, record numbers of, hate crimes. Whilst not forgetting the hundreds of thousands who have endured cruel, demeaning, abusive and fraudulent PIP assessments, those facing compulsory incarceration in 'care' homes and the millions who have faced a 19 times greater impact of austerity (far greater than any other group).
Despite numerous reports, reviews, coroners' letters, tribunal rulings, court verdicts and personal testimonies that prove systemic failure we have failed to win public recognition of the chaos and catastrophy that many disabled people face.
We have to show people that whilst the Tories aren't Nazis, they are wilfully indifferent to the suffering their policies are causing.
A full, independent inquiry into the cumulative impact of government policies faced by disabled people and an investigation into the conduct of Ministers should be our priority.
x - x - x
The Return of Evil McVeycant - By Scorpio
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for disabled people Evil returns. The Department of W@nkers and Perverts welcomes back one of the architects of the cull of the crips.
David Gauke has been and gone without anyone noticing. He was a short term filler following Dodgy Damian's ill-fated promotion to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. If Dodgy had stayed at DWP the sordid issue of extensive accessing porn (which he denied being responsible for, but seemingly did nothing to investigate and explain) may have remained hidden.
Of course Dodgy replaced Stephen Crabb who quit to spend more time with his family, but only after facing investigation for sexting a teenage constituent.
The Daughter of Satan returns only because Justine Greening refused to accept the post.
Evil served her political apprenticeship at the altar of her guru in the LieDS Cult.
Be afraid, be very afraid. Or rise up and fight back before we are all culled.
x - x - x
Crapita and (couldn't give) ATOSS admit failure to recruit Doctors - By Scorpio
Appearing before the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee the clinical leads for the two organisations charged with carrying out PIP assessments admitted that out of the thousands of medical staff employed only 4 are qualified doctors, 2 in each organisation.
So the vast majority of recommendations (they are always keen to try to distance themselves from the decisions that wreck people's lives, and pass the buck to DWP) that ignore the views of GPs and consultants are, in the main, made by nurses; with OTs, physios and even paramedics making up the numbers.
No where else in their 'professional lives' would this be permitted.
Presumably the lack of qualified doctors is a cost saving, but could it also be because doctors are likely to have greater respect for their fellow professionals opinions?
I'd really like to ask Dr Ian Gargan, a former consultant Psychologist and medical doctor, head of service at Crapita " what makes good people do bad things"? Which just happens to be the promo for his book "The Line" written a few years ago.
- x - x - x -
The Unproductive Chancellor - By Scorpio
Spreadsheet Phil revels in the, misguided, belief that he is a stickler for detail. Our, some say, vain, smug and arrogant, Chancellor is supposed to be a safe pair of hands responsible for overseeing the economy. This is particularly important as we approach Brexit and the increasing uncertainty as to our trading relationship with Europe.
What is crystal clear is that one of the biggest challenges facing us as we seek the possibility of securing new markets in which to trade is that we must improve our productivity.
It was something of a shock, therefore, to hear Phil announce that productivity has declined and that he didn't know why.
To the fury of disabled people he declared that it might be our fault. With absolutely no evidence on which to base his assertion, he thought that the employment of people who have previously been distant from the world of work, ie us, was probably responsible.
I'm not sure which is worse, the scapegoating of disabled people, or not having factual evidence about a key part of the economy and then simply trying to wing it.
It could of course be that Phil is having problems with his computer. A lack of data capacity could be preventing access to his fabled spreadsheets.
It's probably worth the Parliamentary authorities checking to make sure his machine isn't blocked up with unauthorised pornography, a problem that has befallen at least two of his colleagues.
Of course I have absolutely no evidence to suggest Phil has been up to no good, but then he has, equally, no evidence that disabled people are any less productive than an other worker.
The difference between me and Phil is that I won't make unsupported assertions - which will come as a relief to the lawyers.
- x - x - x -
Entitled liberals just don't care – By Scorpio
After the chaos, confusion and turbulence of the recent election it's important to look at what it all means for disabled people. Let's start by highlighting some of the positives to come out of the last two months (I know it does seem a lot longer doesn't it).
The newly elected House of Commons is the most diverse ever. Record numbers of women, black and minority ethnic, LGBT and disabled people are reported to have been elected. Amongst them are Marsha de Cordova and Jared O'Mara who are disabled activists.
Turnout at the election was at its highest since 1997, with young people, in particular, enthusiastically participating. Whilst no official figures are available, with #cripthevote regularly trending on social media it seems that disabled people were also significantly involved.
All the major political parties produced manifestos aimed specifically at disabled people and the majority were made available in a variety of accessible formats. The Labour Party's manifesto, 'Nothing About You Without You', broke new ground by committing the Party to adopting the Social Model of Disability.
For many of us, the government losing its majority and the declaration of the end of austerity was by far the highlight. However, it's probably best to exercise a degree of caution at this point as it's still unclear what's going to happen to the billions of pounds of cuts still to be delivered from previous budgets.
So far, so good.
But that's about it for good news, because in spite of thousands of printed column inches in the newspapers, hours of television broadcasts and endless on-line ads and social media traffic disabled people rarely featured in the campaign.
Even the admission by Penny Mordaunt (Minister for Disabled People) that we are the most discriminated against section of society, including by government, barely received any attention let alone condemnation.
Occasionally our issues were highlighted, but usually in relation to the mainstream agenda; for example when Tory candidate Dominic Raab was challenged by a disabled woman, during a broadcast, about the failure to support independent living his arrogant, dismissive, reply ('that's just a childish wish list') was seen as part of the magic-moneytree narrative rather than an example of the failure of social care. Raab was rewarded for his rudeness by being promoted to Minister after the election.
Social Care did become one of the biggest issues of the election but we continued to be ignored. The focus was on the 'dementia tax' proposed by Theresa Mayhem and the resulting outcry emanating from the entitled elite worried that they would lose their 'right' to pass on their home to their children. Barely a murmur about Mordaunt’s announcement that disabled people could face being forced into institutional care. If we're going to do the time let's make sure we do the crime and choose prison as our institution rather than an abusive home.
The sense of entitlement also reared its ugly head in the Green Party manifesto in relation to assisted suicide. At the time we are continuing to fight Do Not Resuscitate orders and court decisions on quality of life being used to remove treatment we don't need doctors being moved from life-savers to life-takers.
Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the election could be found on social media. The number of disabled people proclaiming their support for the Tories was astonishing, especially as their rationale was that they hadn't been personally affected by cuts and the belief that only scroungers and fraudsters had seen their benefits and support services removed.
The quietest input into the election came from the parasite disability charities. Many claimed that revised charity rules prevented them from speaking out. Others were unable to be critical because they have accepted the 30 pieces of silver and jumped willingly into bed with the government.
Above all it was disheartening to see just how many progressives and historical allies were either unaware of, or unconcerned by, the dehumanisation and demonisation we have faced for much of the last decade.
So now is the time for us to reflect upon how we build upon the positives and tackle the negatives. One thing is for sure, if we don't reinvigorate our organisations, renew our fight and build fresh alliances then we will continue to be pushed out of society. The fight for a free, just and equal society was never more urgent.