Dave’s speech, and the ‘legacy’ of the Paralympics
David Cameron’s closing speech to the conservative party conference has already been talked of and analysed a great deal. I would like to chip in my pennyworth. I started to write about two of the main subjects of David Cameron’s (‘Dave’ to you and me) closing speech to the Conservative Party Conference: The ‘legacy of Paralympics; and something called ‘Compassionate Conservatism’. However, there was so much to discuss I have split it into two posts.
‘see the boy, not the wheelchair’
Regarding what Cameron had to say about disabled people and the much talked of ‘legacy’ of the Paralympics, he talked of both sporting achievement and the change the games made to how disabled people in this country are viewed. To illustrate the latter, he talked of his late son, Ivan and how [he] “always thought that some people saw the wheelchair not the boy. Today more people would see the boy and not the wheelchair, and that’s because of what happened here this summer”.
Others including those who were responsible for bring the games into being shared Cameron’s view. “Paralympic organisers hailed “the seismic effect in shifting public attitudes” to disability sports claiming the Games had changed public perception of disabled people forever”. (The Independent – 14th September 2012) I agree with Cameron to an extent, but not with the sweeping statement from the organising committee!
The Paralympics did indeed change some people’s attitude to disability, and disabled people, especially the younger generation, which I wrote about a few months ago. It makes for an interesting read, and shows that there is hope you the future, if the legacy is handled correctly, but really, have we seen much evidence of that so far? The general public’s view of disabled people may have changed superficially, but a lot more work needs to be done.
‘Hate crime’ and the Paralympics
In an article in the Independent from the 14th September 2012 talking about the link between a dramatic rise in hate crimes against disabled people, Scope, a charity working with and for disabled people said:
“Our polling has shown that attitudes towards disabled people have deteriorated over recent years and that many disabled people experience harassment, hostility and abuse on a regular basis. We know if unchallenged these low-level incidents can often escalate into more serious crimes. “
There is a clear disparity here between perception and reality. Until Cameron can be more realistic about the reality of what disabled people face in their everyday lives, little is likely to change.
In the same speech, Cameron talked about how the Paralympics enabled people to dream of achieving things in sport and to be Paralympians. However, this is not realistic for the majority of disabled people. As far as I’m concerned,, some of it was rhetoric designed to justify budget cuts. It’s like saying, if the Paralympians are achieve great things, then so can most other disabled people, therefore anyone who doesn’t is not trying hard enough, therefore, if you don’t try harder to achieve, your benefits will be cut. For me, some days just being up, dressed and medicated is an ‘achievement’ in itself, and the effort of which can and does send me back to sleep. This happens despite having carer’s help to do all these things.
Also, when he talking about how their should not be any barriers to achievement, and named a number of groups of marginalised people, and said none of these groups should be stopped from achieving, but he did not include disabled people when claiming the Conservatives were the people’s party!
“My mission since the day I become [Toy] leader was to show the Conservative Party is for everyone: north or south, black or white, straight or gay”
As with the public’s attitude to disabled people, more work is needed before disabled people have the same opportunities as others, and would then be free to ‘aspire; to whatever they wanted to, including Paralympic sport!