Anne McGuire has been shadow minister since October 2011, and was previously a well-regarded minister for disabled people for three years in the last Labour government.
McGuire – who herself has a long-term health condition – insisted tonight that it was her own decision to leave the role and that she had “just thought it was the time for me to go”.
She told the Labour leader Ed Miliband in July that she wanted to leave her post at his next reshuffle, which is expected within weeks.
She told DNS: “I have been both the minister for disabled people and the shadow minister for over five years taken together and I think it is time I allowed someone else the opportunity to take the work forward.”
McGuire, who is currently in the Middle East, said that Labour’s Making Rights a Reality consultation with disabled people across the country had allowed her to hear from them about the “reality” of their lives.
She leaves as a Labour taskforce led by Sir Bert Massie, former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, is investigating ways to “break the link between disability and poverty”.
McGuire ended as she began in her post, with an attack on the media’s representation of disabled people and on the government’s welfare reforms.
Two years ago, in her first interview with DNS after taking up the new post, she accused the government of “talking up” the issue of disability benefit fraud, and attacked the coalition for not doing more to address offensive and inaccurate stories in the media about “cheats” and “scroungers”.
Tonight, in an emailed statement, she told DNS: “The last three years have seen an unprecedented attack on disabled people, with a sustained misrepresentation of their lives in some sections of the media, and a series of welfare changes on which the government is too ashamed to carry out a cumulative impact assessment.”
McGuire has repeatedly criticised her opposite number, the Conservative minister for disabled people, Esther McVey, for failing to carry out such an assessment.
Her comments came as McVey defended her failure to carry out an assessment in an interview with DNS at her party conference in Manchester.
McGuire said she would “continue to challenge the government from the backbenches” and as co-chair of the all party parliamentary disability group.
She added: “I will continue to work with other parliamentary colleagues to ensure that the issues that affect disabled people are pushed higher up the agenda of all political parties.”
3 October 2013