The Conservatives have been accused of promoting a “divisive” and “punitive” attitude to disabled people that “breeds contempt and hostility”, after dedicating their manifesto only to “working people”.
The introduction to the manifesto pledges that a Tory government under Theresa May would be driven by “the interests of ordinary, working families”, who were the people the manifesto was “dedicated to”.
It then adds that the government’s power should be “put squarely at the service of this country’s working people”.
The promises made in the manifesto, which have been ignored by the mainstream media, have been attacked this week by two disabled politicians standing for election next month.
Mary Griffiths Clarke (pictured), who is standing for Labour in Arfon, north Wales, said: “This negative rhetoric serves no-one.
“It breeds contempt and hostility, it divides and breeds hatred. There is no place for this in a civilised society.”
She said: “What about investing in society, affording everyone dignity? Giving hope and optimism rather than breeding suspicion and fear?
“What about the areas where there is very little work?”
She added: “Why should families and communities be split up, moved miles away under the financial apartheid of welfare reform, segregated into deserving and undeserving?
“I hate the notion that people are only valued on a monetary contribution basis.
“We need a government that values everyone.
“I demand that everyone is afforded dignity and we are all equally valued.”
Another disabled parliamentary candidate, Kirstein Rummery, a professor of social policy at the University of Stirling, who is standing for the Women’s Equality Party in Stirling, said: “Nothing raises my suspicion more than the use of the phase ‘hard-working people’ or ‘hard-working families’.”
She said such phrases reveal “several assumptions that research and experience demonstrate to be false”.
One of the assumptions, she said, was that “the only work that is important is paid work – that caring, parenting and volunteering are ‘easy’ and therefore of no real value”.
Another was that “those who do not work ‘hard’ for payment are less worthy, including those caring, studying, parenting, volunteering, excluded from the workforce by age, illness, disability, discrimination and other reasons”.
And the third was that there was “a difference between those who pay for and those that use welfare when clearly we all at some point need health, education, care, services and support”.
She said: “This all contributes to a divisive, punitive attitude to disabled people, carers, older people, and parents… yet these are the people that hold our society together.”
Asked to justify the manifesto lines, a Conservative spokeswoman said: “We recognise that some disabled people might not be able to work due to their condition.
“We are completely committed to ensuring that disabled people are supported by a financial safety net, provided by the welfare system.
“That’s why we’ve increased spending on disability benefits by more than £3 billion in real terms since 2010, to support disabled people and people with health conditions.
“Our manifesto has also committed to getting one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next 10 years.”