Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have secured a promise from Greater Manchester’s mayor that he will ask his party why it dropped a promise to implement the UN disability convention into UK law if it wins the next general election.
Andy Burnham (pictured) made the pledge at a national conference of DPOs in Manchester*, after being told that the Labour party had dropped its pledge to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into UK law.
He spoke out after being told of the broken pledge by Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts.
The party was insisting until at least July this year that a Labour government was “fully committed” to incorporating the convention into law.
But last week, Disability News Service reported that a leaked copy of Labour’s National Policy Forum report included no mention of the policy.
The report will form the basis of Labour’s general election manifesto and will be put to the party’s annual conference in Liverpool next month.
Clifford asked Burnham what he could do to persuade Labour to renew its pledge.
Burnham said he believed it would be a “mistake” and a “very big backward step” for the party not to include the promise in its general election manifesto.
He said if the DPO conference could pass a resolution about Labour’s broken pledge, he would take that to national party leaders “and we will say that we think this is a mistake”.
He said the last 13 years had been “brutal for disabled people” and “there has to be a reckoning here, and an understanding of that, and then a commitment to change”.
The conference later unanimously passed a motion – witnessed by Burnham – that called on the Labour party to incorporate the UN convention into UK law, remove all the UK’s existing reservations to the convention, and commit to end care charging and introduce a National Independent Living Service within the first 100 days of a Labour government.
Burnham also promised to fight the “dangerously excluding” plans to close hundreds of rail ticket offices across England, which would mean that disabled people would be “straightforwardly discriminated against if this policy proceeds”.
He said: “We’ll fight this proposal all of the way. We will take them to court if they proceed with it.
“We will use the Equality Act to stop it. This proposal is not going ahead in Greater Manchester, and we will be fighting it every single step of the way with all of the people in this room.
“And we’ll be fighting it for you and your part of the country as well, because it isn’t happening.”
*Other representatives of DPOs watched the conference and took part in discussions online
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