Party leaders back calls for more disabled candidates


The leaders of the three main political parties have backed calls for more disabled people to stand for parliament.
Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all met disabled parliamentary candidates from their own parties.
And they pledged to do more to address barriers of access and attitude that prevent disabled people from becoming MPs.
The meeting was held as part of the disability charity Scope’s Time To Get Equal week.
Brown said one of his “key priorities” was rebuilding trust in the parliamentary system. He added: “Opening up politics and encouraging the participation of people from a diverse range of backgrounds and life experiences are the absolute foundation of fair politics.”
Cameron said: “I am proud of the progress we have made in recent years in making sure that someone’s potential to be a good MP is the only factor that counts in being selected as a parliamentary candidate. But there is more work to do.”
And Clegg said: “With all eyes on Westminster following weeks of revelations over MPs’ expenses, now is our chance to shine a light over all that is wrong with our out-of-date and out-of-touch political system – including the woeful under-representation of disabled people in politics.
“The Liberal Democrats are looking forward to working with Scope to help remove the barriers that make it difficult for disabled people to get into parliament.”
These barriers include a shortage of funds for equipment and information in alternative formats, the lack of peer support, and “deeply entrenched perceptions” that disabled people don’t make good MPs.
Abigail Lock, head of campaigns and advocacy at Scope, said: “While Scope welcomes a new approach to managing MPs’ expenses, it is vital to ensure that any new system is not so rigid that it cannot adapt to the specific needs of a more diverse set of MPs.”


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