David secured interviews with both the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP and Shadow Disabilities Minister, Kate Green MP at the official launch.
David asked Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves MP whether it is the first time the Labour party have issued a mini manifesto for disabled people and what they hoped to it would achieve?
Rachel confirmed that it was the first time and went on to say;
“We hope that people will read the manifesto ahead of the General Election on 7th May, so they can see the changes we would make when we are in Government to improve the lives of disabled people.”
Rachel Reeves then expressed her hopes for all disabled voters by saying;
“I would urge all disabled people to use their vote, as in the 106 seats that Labour are targeting in the coming election, there are more disabled people in these constituencies then the size of the majority of the current governing parties, which shows how important voters with a disability can be in the election.”
David was pleased to meet Shadow Disabilities Minister Kate Green again; during her interview, she confirmed the Labour Disability manifesto message by saying;
“We have got to be very ambitious for disabled people. Disabled people make a big contribution to public life and we want to facilitate that in our policies.”
When David asked Kate if she thought it was important for disabled people to use their legal right to vote, she promptly responded;
“If all the disabled people who are registered to vote, use their vote, I think they will be holding the balance of power in the next parliament and helping the politicians to introduce policies that benefit the disabled population.”
While at the launch, David grabbed the opportunity to discuss the difficulties experienced by disabled people when trying to access paid employment with a group of apprentices from a large disability employment scheme and former Labour Minister, Rt, Honourable David Blunkett. David Allkins, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and communication difficulties, understands the day to day struggle that many people with disabilities face, after being made redundant several years ago. He is now happily in paid employment with his current role of political correspondent, alongside other work for United Response in the Truro offices.
Since taking up the appointment of political correspondent in February, David has produced a series of video reports aimed at challenging perceptions on learning disabilities and ensuring that the rights of this disenfranchised group of voters are recognised by politicians and candidates, as part of the charity’s Every Vote Counts campaign.
David’s latest report on the Labour Disability Manifesto launch can be viewed here. David’s report also outlines what all the major parties have said in their manifestos about disability issues.
David finishes his report by saying;
“United Response hopes that whichever party heads the next Government, they will enable more disabled people to live independent lives and getting into the work place. We also hope that more people with a disability vote on 7th May”.
United Response created the role of political correspondent to help reach out to people with learning disabilities about their right to vote in the May General Election. There are 1.5 million adults in the UK who have a learning disability, yet despite having the same right to vote as everyone else, very few participated in the last General Election. Research carried out by United Response shows that only 1 in 3 of the people it supports voted in 2010, far below the 65.1% turnout of the general population.
Through its Every Vote Counts campaign, United Response aims to change this by making information about politics and voting easier to understand.
David’s work, as well as United Response’s wider Every Vote Counts campaign, has received support from across the political spectrum.