So, here we go again! Britain will be going to the polls in just a matter of weeks to elect a new government, after Theresa May shocked the country by announcing a snap general election on June the 8th. The short timescale has concerned many Disabled People’s Organisations such as ourselves and Merton Centre for Independent Living.
Merton CIL highlight three ways that the short timescale may impact on Disabled People’s ability to exercise her democratic right to vote.
Firstly, some Disabled People may need support to register to vote. You have until the 22nd May to register to vote in the upcoming general election so if you are not already registered to vote then you can do it online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Secondly, despite much campaigning, some Disabled People still find that their local polling station is not accessible. It is true that you can opt for a postal vote but in 2017, it surely shouldn’t be too much to ask for polling stations to meet the needs of Disabled People.
Finally, there is a very real concern about whether the party manifestos will be available in accessible formats in good time. Different political parties have in the past neglected this issue until being lobbied hard by Disabled People’s Organisations. With much to do in six weeks, what is the bet that the needs of Disabled People in all these different areas will not be seen as a priority by political parties?
Leaving aside the practical issues, there is also a concern that Disability issues will yet again be overlooked during the election. Sure, we might get a brief mention if the social care crisis gets raised (and we hope it does!) but we share the concern of many that the election will be focused on one issue – Brexit. As Merton CIL rightly state ‘We are concerned that this election might be dominated by Brexit, when so many of our members and local Disabled people have many other very important issues to raise, which are often forgotten about.’
Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of these ‘forgotten’ issues and holding all political parties to account. Let us know what really matters to you. You can Tweet us at @SPECTRUMCIL or visit our Facebook page.