As BGT winner’s inspiration is hailed, attacks on disabled rights must end

IRONY SHIRT: Lee Ridley knows exactly how people with disabilities are being treated in 21st century Britain

by Sandra Webster • I have to admit to not being a fan of the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. I saw the result show after reading that two people with disabilities one with autism and one with Cerebral Palsy were in the final.

As you know, both acts came in first and second place. The winner Lee Ridley—aka ‘Lost Voice Guy’—has been and is inspirational. He touched the zeitgeist of the nation.

I was inspired by the t-shirt he wore, ‘I was disabled before it became popular’.

An ironic statement from someone who himself knows how people with disabilities are being treated in 21st century UK.

Ridley will now have a space in the Royal Variety Performance. Social media was awash with comments from folk regarding his adversarial spirit and sense of humour.

I would like Ridley to remember what happened to the Paralympians described at the time as the “real super humans” and their battles, as their benefits and means of independence were removed by the state.

I would urge the public to be more supportive of the numerous people with disabilities who find their benefits and services being slashed.

We are inspirational too just to manage to keep going as well as do extraordinary things at a local and national level.

One of my neighbours, a double amputee, was taken off the high rate of mobility after a Work Capability Assessment.

His mobility vehicle, which he needs for independence, would be removed from him. He had to go to a tribunal in front of a judge and explain why he needed high rate mobility. He won but his mobility car was fitted with a tracker in case of misuse.

Unfortunately this is not the only instance of this occurring. “Pam” is the named driver of her mother who lives with alzheimers. She keeps the car in her own home not for personal usage but as it was broken into twice outside her mother’s house. She has been forced to have a tracker fitted.

These stories reflect several that I have come across. It must be emphasised that some carers whose relatives live in group homes have had concerns that their relation’s car was being used for all the people who lived in the group home.

However how would a person without a disability feel about this level of state surveillance when using their car?

One of the urban folk legends permeated by the Conservatives and other political parties is of mobility vehicles being misused by family members.

Well I would ask them to take a long hard look at tax evasion and the travel expenses that elected members in Holyrood and Westminster receive. After The Smith Commission, which the SNP, Greens and Conservatives sent Scottish representatives, we were to be given welfare powers for people with disabilities and carers. We are still waiting.

Jeane Freeman, who wants to get it right, should be applauded for wanting a change but we have now been waiting several years for this promised protection. For many it cannot come soon enough.

Like many in the SSP, I was galvanised by the independence debate last time round. I was privileged in being able to share our party’s position on how an independent Scotland can deliver a kinder, fairer society; one where we look out for each other.

Does the Scottish Economic Growth Strategy take into account the opinions and experiences of the working class and those who need the greatest level of support?

We have to examine the terminology used for example of unpaid carers who work but receive a basic income of under fifty pounds a week. We are not benefit cheats but saving the NHS and government billions of pounds and who else will do it?

If Britain has got talent so has Scotland, by the spadeful. This needs to be nurtured.

I will be campaigning for independence so men and women like Lee Ridley are not seen as inspirational but supported, not becoming increasingly invisible.

I am proud of the SSP and its beliefs on why we want independence. Not to build careers but to make a difference and get the message out about why independence can change our society for the better.

I look forward to further discussions with my comrades in how we make this work. I know it will always be for the good of society.

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