Last Friday, Inclusion Scotland and Disability History Scotland hosted a hustings and discussion event in Edinburgh called “Disability and Democracy”. This was an opportunity for disabled people to come together and discuss local and UK-wide issues that affect disabled people, with some of the candidates standing in the local elections. It also featured a hustings with local election candidates with opportunities to respond to questions from disabled people.
The day started with a brief discussion of who held which powers, between the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and Local Councils. We prepared a summary of these powers, focusing on areas important to disabled people, which you can find here.
We then moved on to a discussion of issues at the level of local councils. At each table in the room, participants were given the opportunity to raise up issues that were important to them, and candidates sitting at each table took note of these. At the end, the candidates from each table presented on what was discussed by the table they were sitting at, and people at the table rated them on how well they had listened, using giant “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” hands! Topics raised in these discussions included public transport and taxi provision for disabled people, delivery of health and social care, education, and accessibility of museums and other public facilities.
After lunch, there was a hustings where candidates standing in the local elections had the opportunity to give a statement on why disabled people should vote for their parties in the general election, followed by a question and answer session. Topics discussed include austerity and the cuts, social care, accessible venues, and the role of disabled people in politics. You can watch the full local election hustings from the event below:
There was then a presentation from Disability History Scotland about the different projects they run that disabled people can get involved in. You can find more information about these here.
Finally, there was a brief discussion of issues reserved to Westminster, including reserved social security, Brexit and Scottish Independence.
Overall, attendees were very happy with the event, giving overwhelmingly positive feedback. Holding the event was important because it gave disabled people to focus on different issues relating the local elections, and candidates an opportunity to express their parties positions as well as listen to the issues raised by disabled people, and hopefully take that learning with them if elected. Providing an opportunity for disabled people to express the issues that matter to them is important because it helps provide a voice to those who are all too often voiceless in politics, furthermore opening up opportunities for they themselves to get involved in politics or campaigning.
We are currently working to organise a further hustings that will cover disability and other equalities issues ahead of the Westminster General Election on 8th June, so watch this space for more information!