A possible turning point occurred this week in terms of the fight for Disability Equality in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t a new piece of legislation, it wasn’t the launch of a new Commission, it was the fact that we became aware that two of the most powerful figures in the UK political arena have Disabled Children.
David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, has a Disabled son who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and this week it was revealed that Gordon Brown’s four month old son has cystic fibrosis. We are therefore in a possibly unique position where who ever is the next Prime Minister will have hopefully a greater understanding of Disabled People and the discrimination and barriers that are faced by Disabled people every day.
Now, I am not suggesting that David and Gordon will naturally support all the aims and objectives of the Disability Movement and our fight is far from won. For example David Cameron feels special schools should stay open as a way to preserve “parental choice”. However, hopefully now Disability issues will be seen as important and not seen just as a good opportunity for a nice photo shoot with a bunch of crips.
This is not about nepotism either. It is just human nature that if you have personal experience of something, that you are more likely to have an opinion, and less likely to let ill-informed advisers tell you that there’s no problem.
Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister, it will be interesting to see whether in five years, Gordon and David’s personal experiences with their children will have influenced their policy making regarding disability issues.