As UK Disability Movement Rep on the European Disability Forum from 2004 to 2012 I fully endorse the position taken by Debbie Jolly and Richard Howitt. Disabled people in the UK are much better off in the EU and we should be playing a more active part in mobilising the 10 million disabled voters to vote to stay.
Let us learn the lessons of the history we have lived through. There is no doubt that we have gained a great deal in legislation on employment, transport, training, accessibility and Social Funds for training. The EU is enthusiastic about taking disabled people’s rights forward. In the UK successive governments—Labour, Coalition and Tory—have been doing the least possible to improve our position and indeed making it worse. Having EU legislation and directives as a fall back is in this situation is most important in safeguarding our rights. Because of the EU legislation:
- Our buses, trains, stations, ferries, airports and air flights are accessible;
- We have equal rights in employment and all employers have to make reasonable adjustments(various UK Government wanted to limit this to those who employ over 20;
- The Blue Badge parking and access requirements operate throughout the EU;
- Our Human Rights are supported and enhanced with institutions and hate crime opposed.
Gove, Johnson and IDS are all neo-conservative free marketeers who which to be rid of ‘red tape’ such as health and safety legislation and employment rights in a race to the bottom for ordinary people while they and their cronies get richer. Staying in Europe and building united opposition to this conception is the best thing for disabled people and working people.
We should not be seduced by xenophobic or racist ideas against immigration. We, ourselves, have and are subject to such prejudice and hate crime and should to know better.
Equally while those on the left arguing for exit claim the EU as a capitalist club- So the UK isn’t!!!
We must stay in Europe and fashion an alternative. The cross European Movement against austerity needs to campaign for a minimum standard of living for all citizens. The Disability Movement in all its fragments could start by unifying and turning outwards into Europe to work with the representatives of 80 million disabled people across Europe. The EU have ratified the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons ( without reservation, unlike the UK who put up 4 reservations) and has an active plan for its implementation including new legislation on Accessibility.
Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion and Coordinator UK Disability History Month