A cross-party, user-led campaign aims to boost disabled people’s participation in politics in Scotland, and could soon be doing the same across the UK.The One in Five campaign was only set up in February by Scottish disabled activist Jamie Szymkowiak, a member of the SNP.He was soon joined by disabled Labour activist Pam Duncan-Glancy, and within three weeks their new organisation had signed up all six of the political parties represented in the Scottish parliament.The grassroots campaign’s five-point charter asks political parties, local government and other organisations to make politics more inclusive and accessible to disabled people.Their aspiration is for the number of disabled people involved in Scottish politics to mirror the one-in-five working-age people in Scotland who self-identify as disabled people.The Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Socialist Party have all signed up to the charter.Organisers of One in Five say they have yet to find another example of a campaign which has been backed by all of Scotland’s major political parties.Among other organisations to back the campaign is COSLA, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.The charter wants political parties to ensure that disabled activists can stand for election to posts such as secretary or chair of their local party on a job-share basis, and One in Five hopes this will eventually extend to publicly-elected posts such as councillors and MPs.Only last week, Disability News Service reported how disabled campaigners have called on Westminster to press for new laws that would allow parliamentary candidates to stand jointly for election as job-share MPs, after a judge threw out a legal case brought by two members of the Green party, one of whom was disabled.There are now hopes that SNP and Labour MPs will agree to bring the One in Five campaign to the Westminster parliament after the summer recess.Jamie Szymkowiak, One in Five’s founder, said the campaign had done “amazingly well” in a short period of time.He said: “We aspire to have political participation and representation that reflects our society.“I think it has just hit a nerve. A lot of the people I discuss this with do not understand why something like this has not been done before.”He said the element of the campaign that appeared to be most important to disabled people was the need for meetings to be held in accessible venues, and for information – such as party manifestos – to be made available in accessible formats.He added: “As a first step, if political parties and organisations ensure meetings and materials are accessible, including at local and national levels, our aspiration is achievable.“Scotland has witnessed a huge upsurge in political interest in recent years and I want to ensure disabled people are included in all areas of our democracy through a positive campaign, regardless of which political party you support.”This week, One in Five called on the Scottish government to set up its own version of the Access to Elected Office Fund (AEOF), which from 2012 to March 2015 offered grants to disabled people to pay for the additional impairment-related costs they faced in standing for election as a councillor or MP.AEOF covered prospective candidates seeking election to the UK parliament, and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales, but was otherwise restricted to elections in England. It is now lying dormant after its government funding ran out just before the general election.One in Five wants a Scottish version of the fund that would help disabled people trying to secure election to the Scottish parliament and Scottish councils.Picture: Cross-party MSPs at One In Five’s launch outside the Scottish parliament in April, and One in Five ambassadors Jamie Szymkowiak (front left, holding green sign), Pam Duncan-Glancy (front left, in wheelchair), Gordon Aikman (in wheelchair, next to Duncan-Glancy) and Nicola Ross (in blue tee-shirt, behind Duncan-Glancy and Aikman)
Disabled people are being subjected to dangerous violations of health and safety laws after being forced to take part in government workfare programmes, according to new research published this week.The analysis of first-hand accounts of benefit claimants forced into unpaid work by the Department for Work and Pensions is one of 24 short essays collected in The Violence of Austerity*, a new book that details the “devastatingly violent consequences” of the government’s austerity policies.Academics, journalists and campaigners show in the book how austerity policies have led to destitution, eviction, power supplies being cut off, the seizure of possessions, homelessness, deportation and hunger.In one chapter, Jon Burnett and Professor David Whyte, one of the book’s editors, analyse more than 500 individual accounts written by benefit claimants who took part in workfare schemes between 2011 and 2015 and left descriptions of their experiences on the Boycott Workfare website.Whyte, who is professor of socio-legal studies at the University of Liverpool, and Burnett, who works at the Institute of Race Relations, found that 97 of those accounts raised concerns about health and safety issues.Many clearly involved illegal activity, with 36 of the 97 health and safety concerns taking place in retail stores or warehouses run by charities or social enterprises, and others in hospitals, recycling or waste disposal plants, and profit-making retailers.As part of their exploitation, welfare claimants were often forced to complete physical labour at an intense pace, and were discouraged from taking rest or lunch breaks, with some even refused access to food or water.All of them faced the threat of having their benefits sanctioned if they refused to follow orders.One wrote: “Hard labour on feet all day heavy lifting despite my medical conditions.“Out of eight that started, only three remain after working all day in the heavy rain and getting soaked and chilled to the bone.”Another claimant who challenged the unsafe working conditions was “sacked” and given a six-month benefit sanction.The authors analysed the accounts and found 64 “concrete allegations of breaches of health and safety law at 43 different workplaces”.Often this related to the failure to provide protective safety equipment, for example from chemicals and dust, or carrying out heavy lifting and manual handling tasks without proper risk or health assessments, sometimes despite health conditions that had been brought to the attention of the supervisor.One claimant described the “hard labour” he carried out from 9am to 5pm, and added: “I told them of my backpack pain and they just ignored it, they didn’t care.”Another said: “I can’t stand or walk for more than 10 minutes and have severe stomach illness that means when I eat I’m in agony half an hour until 4 hrs after. They may as well have sent me a death sentence.”Whyte and Burnett conclude: “The testimonies analysed in this chapter reveal how workfare, as a form of forced labour, effectively permits employers to breach health and safety laws with impunity.”It is not clear how many of the claimants whose comments they analysed were disabled people, but Whyte has told Disability News Service (DNS) that he believes “a large number have ongoing health problems and have disability issues”.A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: “Any specific allegations of unsafe working practices need to be reported to HSE through the proper channels** so we can look into them.“HSE does not hold any specific guidance relating to work by, or workplaces employing, benefit recipients who are required to work as a condition of their status as claimants.“Such persons or workplaces would be treated no differently to any other category. HSE would expect the approach to health and safety to be the same in all cases.”He added: “Any allegations of this sort are taken very seriously and would be considered on a case by case basis.”John Pring, editor of DNS, has also written an essay for the book, on the impact of welfare reforms on disabled people, and describes how the current and previous governments have refused to conduct basic research on the impact of their “reckless and ill-evidenced” policies.He says that for every policy “there is testimony from friends or family of the harm caused to individual disabled people who have been powerless to protect themselves, have had their freedom catastrophically affected, and have seen their dignity, health, choices and ability to control their own lives restricted in a way that can only be described as damaging and violent”.But he also describes how disabled people have fought back, through protests and campaigns, petitions, legal actions, their own high-quality research, and through Disabled People Against Cuts’ complaint to the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities.Another of the essays is by the award-winning social affairs journalist and author Mary O’Hara, who writes about the links between austerity and a rise in mental distress and suicides.She describes how, after 2010, jobcentre workers began speaking out about “an increasingly punitive regime that was adding to the mental stress of both claimants and workers”, with one telling her: “It was very distressing to have customers literally without food, without heat, without resources – and these are unwell [and] disabled customers.”Other chapters also describe the violence imposed on disabled people by austerity policies, including David Ellis’s essay on The Violence of the Debtfare State, which tells how the UK has seen “the normalisation of pervasive debt as a means of replacing the living wage and sufficient welfare provisions”.He discusses the relationship between debt and mental health problems, and points out that estimates suggest that “half of British adults with problem debt also have mental health problems, including stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide attempts”.And in his second essay, Jon Burnett describes how “two forms of institutionally produced hatred – hatred targeted at migrants and hatred targeted at welfare claimants – have become closely interlinked by ‘austerity politics’”.He says this has “become apparent in a relentless barrage of headlines about migrant hordes, supposedly exploiting public services and undercutting wages, and the British benefit ‘cheats’ supposedly too idle to work and abusing the welfare state”.He points to a survey published by the Disability Hate Crime Network in 2015, which found that “scrounger rhetoric” was highlighted by “around one in six of 61 disabled people who described being verbally or physically assaulted in disability hate crimes”.Whyte and his co-editor Vickie Cooper, a lecturer in criminology at the Open University, conclude in their introduction to the book: “Where the state once acted as a buffer against social practices that put people at risk of harm and violence and provided essential protection for vulnerable groups, the contributions to this book show how the withdrawal of state support has the most devastating of consequences for vulnerable people.”They add: “The violence of austerity is not delivered by ‘street gangs’ or by the individuals that are typically the focus of public anxieties and tabloid moral panics.“The violence of austerity is delivered by smartly dressed people sitting behind desks.”*The Violence of Austerity is priced £16.99 and published by Pluto Press**http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm
Disability hate crime campaigners are to give evidence to MPs next month as part of a new inquiry into the online abuse of disabled people.The Commons petitions committee has launched the investigation following a petition set up by former model Katie Price which was signed by more than 220,000 people.Price’s petition called on the government to create a new criminal offence covering online abuse, and to set up a register of offenders.She and her disabled son Harvey are to give evidence to the committee on 6 February about the disablist online abuse he has experienced.Anne Novis, a leading disability hate crime campaigner and adviser on disability to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Metropolitan police, will also be giving evidence to the committee, as chair of Inclusion London.Novis, also a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, plans to share details with MPs on the committee of Facebook sites that have been “set up to demean disabled people”, and of disablist attacks by some newspapers.She also plans to raise concerns about government rhetoric around its social security reforms, which she said has demeaned disabled people, “giving permission to others to do the same online and elsewhere”.She said that such rhetoric and abuse “must be challenged as totally unacceptable in today’s society”.But Novis (pictured, centre) said she was not in favour of a new “add on” criminal offence, as suggested by Price.Instead, she said, “we need fair and equal law on hate crime in all its forms, ensuring the law keeps up to date with communication methods, and recognition that verbal and written abuse and prejudice is unacceptable”.Novis has spoken repeatedly of the need for disabled people to have “equal access to justice” on hate crime and the “inadequacy” of current disability hate crime legislation.She said a register was “not necessary” because if abusers were charged appropriately – and disability hate crime law was strengthened – there would already be a public record of offenders, while it would be easy for abusers to use false names online.Stephen Brookes, a fellow coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, and a disability adviser to CPS and the Lancashire and West Yorkshire police forces, said he could support a “specific, clearly defined” new offence.But he said he could not see how a register would be operated and maintained.He said: “Online hate, where abusers mistakenly believe they are hidden behind a screen, can be particularly damaging.“Several of the posts on the Disability Hate Crime Network reflect the fact that many disabled victims of online and social media abuse feel helpless and unprotected.“One of our regular contacts received a Facebook post after reporting a hate crime which said, ‘You never tire of being the nastiest dirtiest GRASS. If you need a puncture in your wheelchair keep us in mind.’“But this was not enough to get Facebook to take the post down.”Brookes believes social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are not doing enough to protect people from online abuse.He said: “We are told that a key aim of the [government’s new] online hate crime hub is to build a stronger evidence base and better understanding of the scope, nature and scale of online hate, in order to tackle it, but this all takes time, and so many times the perpetrators use the indistinct line between what they say is legitimate freedom of expression, and behaviour that is in contradiction of the ill-defined terms and conditions of social media sites, to get away with their actions.“So there is a need to force companies to have a standard code of practice and not the current case-by-case approach, and this does need to lead to a better, clear and enforceable law.”Labour MP Helen Jones, chair of the petitions committee, said: “Katie Price’s petition, which has been signed by more than 220,000 people, has brought to parliament an issue that has not been widely discussed – how online abuse affects people with disabilities and their families.“The government and parliament are looking at how to tackle online abuse, and we’d like to ensure that the particular issues faced by disabled people are at the heart of those discussions.“We’ll be speaking to disabled people and other experts about what needs to change.“We’ve also invited Katie Price and her son Harvey to parliament to tell us about how online abuse has affected their family.” The committee will be probing issues such as the impact of online abuse on disabled people; who is responsible for protecting people from online abuse; how well the law protects disabled people from such abuse; and the availability of support for victims.It will also ask how to draw lines between legitimate freedom of expression, behaviour that contravenes the terms and conditions of social media sites, and abuse that should be against the law. In her petition, which closed last year, Price said that trolling was “a major problem” that affects people “from every walk of life” and includes “racism, homophobia, body shaming and a whole range of other hate speech”.She said she wanted to “help bring justice to everyone who has ever suffered at the hands of trolls” and “hammer home worldwide that bullying is unacceptable whether it’s face to face or in an online space”.As well as other disability organisations giving oral evidence, including Dimensions UK and Mencap, the committee wants to hear directly from disabled people about their experiences of online abuse.A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman refused to say if the government supported creating a new criminal offence covering online abuse, or setting up a register of offenders.But he said in a statement: “We welcome the committee’s investigation. What is unacceptable offline should be unacceptable online and we are seeking to address these issues through our Internet Safety Strategy.”Ministers have not ruled out introducing a regulatory framework, including a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, if technology companies do not act voluntarily to demonstrate their commitment to online safety.It has consulted on measures including: a new social media levy, so companies contribute to raising awareness and countering harm caused by the internet; a code of practice to tackle bullying and intimidating behaviour online; and annual transparency reports that would be used to check the progress of companies in tackling such issues.The consultation closed last month.
Tags:Peterborough /Alastair Campbell /Weekly Survey /European Convention /Labour leadership elections / Welcome to our latest LabourList survey.Share your thoughts about voting Labour, Alastair Campbell’s expulsion, the upcoming Peterborough by-election, a Brexit ballot of members and more.Answer the questions below or click here to open the survey in a new window.This survey will close at 6pm on Monday 3rd June, and we’ll be releasing the results soon after that.
SAINTS have announced that Paul Wellens and James Graham will captain the club in the 2011 season.The duo will work in tandem throughout Super League XVI, utilising their experience to skipper the side before Saints move into their new stadium in 2012. Royce Simmons opted for dual captaincy as the role of leader both on and off the field has changed in the modern game.“I know I am going against the tradition of what we’ve had over the past few years and I know that both James and Paul would have liked to been captain on their own, but it is a great honour for me to be in a position to name them both,” Simmons said. “They both typify what St Helens is all about and are passionate about the club.“I have sat down over the last few weeks and thought about the role of captain in the modern game and it has changed a lot. There are a lot of promotional and media commitments as well as what happens on the field.“My choice of captain on game day will come after discussions with both of them and we will split their off field commitments too.“There might be a time when we are playing a big aggressive pack and will want to send our skipper out to meet them. Or, we could be playing a team that shifts the ball wide and we need direction from the back.“Either way, we have direction from the back and in the pack and that has to be good for the club. The role will be easier than what people think.”Paul Wellens said: “When I started out playing I wanted to play for St Helens but never dreamt I would captain the club. After a few years at Saints it was something I wanted to do and I have waited a long time to get that opportunity. I have played under some great captains and I am very privileged to lead out this great side.”James Graham added: “I totally agree with Paul. This is the team I supported as a lad and when you consider the history of the club and the people that have gone before it makes it even more special. I have played with a number of great captains and I know we have big boots to fill.”
SAINTS welcome back Tony Puletua, Sia Soliola, Jamie Foster and James Roby into their 19-man squad for the Qualifying Playoff match at Wigan Warriors.The quartet return for Sunday’s game with Gary Wheeler the only player omitted from the team that beat Quins last weekend.He has a quad pull whilst teammate Leon Pryce is also sidelined with the same injury.Chris Flannery and Kyle Eastmond are also unavailable.Therefore, the squad is:1. Paul Wellens, 3. Michael Shenton, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 14. Scott Moore, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Matty Ashurst, 19. Andrew Dixon, 20. Jonny Lomax, 22. Jamie Foster, 24. Tom Armstrong, 25. Lee Gaskell, 28. Tom Makinson, 29. Scott Hale.Michael Maguire, Wigan Head Coach, will choose from:1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Darrell Goulding, 4. George Carmont, 5. Pat Richards, 6. Paul Deacon, 7. Thomas Leuluai, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Andy Coley, 11. Harrison Hansen, 12. Joel Tomkins, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. Paul Prescott, 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Ryan Hoffman, 17. Brett Finch, 21. Lee Mossop, 22. Liam Farrell, 25. Josh Charnley, 35. Ben Cross.The match kicks off at 2.45pm and the referee is Phil Bentham.If you can’t make the match it will be covered extensively in the Match Centre as well as on Saints’ Official Twitter and Facebook sites.Stats:Last Ten Meetings:St Helens 12, Wigan 18 (CCSF, 6/8/11)(at Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington)St Helens 10, Wigan 32 (SLR18, 17/6/11)Wigan 28, St Helens 24 (SLR11, 22/4/11)St Helens 16, Wigan 16 (SLR1, 12/2/11)(at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)St Helens 10, Wigan 22 (SLGF, 2/10/10)(at Old Trafford, Manchester)Wigan 24, St Helens 26 (SLR18, 20/6/10)St Helens 10, Wigan 18 (SLR9, 2/4/10)St Helens 14, Wigan 10 (SLQSF, 3/10/09)St Helens 10, Wigan 6 (SLR23, 31/7/09)St Helens 18, Wigan 38 (SLR13, 2/5/09)(at Murrayfield, Edinburgh)Previous Play-Off Meetings:St Helens 10, Wigan 22 (SLGF, 2/10/10)(at Old Trafford, Manchester)St Helens 14, Wigan 10 (SLQSF, 3/10/09)Wigan 18, St Helens 12 (SLEPO, 25/9/04)Wigan 40, St Helens 24 (SLESF, 3/10/03)St Helens 24, Wigan 8 (SLFE, 11/10/02)Wigan 44, St Helens 10 (SLFE, 6/10/01)St Helens 29, Wigan 16 (SLGF, 14/10/00)(at Old Trafford, Manchester)Wigan 16, St Helens 54 (SLQSF, 29/9/00)Super League Summary:Wigan won 27 (includes win in 2010 Grand Final & wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 play-offs)St Helens won 24 (includes win in 2000 Grand Final & wins in 2000, 2002 and 2009 play-offs)4 drawsWigan highest score: 65-12 (A, 1997) (also widest margin)St Helens highest score: 57-16 (MM, 2008) (also widest margin)
MARK Flanagan says Saints need to play skilfully if they want to progress to the Semi Finals of the Challenge Cup.The former Wiganer will line up against his old teammates on Saturday at the DW Stadium.“We’ve been on a good run,” he said. “We’ve put some good wins together recently and played well against Wakefield. We started well but there were parts of our performance we would be happy to work on. There’s room for improvement for sure.“We’ll need to show that this weekend. Games against Wigan are big enough, I know that, as I played for Wigan against Saints too. They are great games and I have no doubt the atmosphere will be superb. Then, you throw in a Challenge Cup too.“From 1 to 17 they have a great squad of players but we have to worry about ourselves and do what we do. That means completing sets, tackling well and playing good rugby on their line. Saints are known for throwing the ball around and we need to play skilfully. We also need to contain Tomkins, O’Loughlin and Hock.”Flanagan played for Wigan before he signed for Wests Tigers two years ago. He’s appeared in three derbies… and although he hasn’t won one yet… he knows the passion and rivalry.“I spent a few years under Shaun Wane when he coached Wigan’s under 20s. He is a good coach and a lot of the players got on well with him.“It is good to have people from your hometown in charge and we see that here with Rushie and Kez – they are passionate about Saints and want nothing but the best for them.“I’ve never played a derby at Wigan and I am looking forward to it. It will be a tough game for us, they are a good side who are playing well. I have no doubt their fans will make it a tough afternoon for us.“But there is no reason why we can’t win. We have a good squad of players and if we perform then we will have a great chance of being in the next round.”
FULL details of the exciting new league structure that will come into operation in 2015 for Rugby League’s professional and semi-professional competitions have been outlined.From next season the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship will both feature 12 clubs, whilst Kingstone Press Championship One will be renamed as Kingstone Press League 1 and comprise 14 clubs.Super League and Championship clubs will each play 23 matches in the regular season – home and away against the other clubs in their respective competitions plus Magic Weekend or Summer Bash.At the end of the regular season, Super League and the Championship will split into the Super 8s, three groups of eight clubs based on league positions called Super League, The Qualifiers and Championship Shield.Super League features the top eight Super League clubs; The Qualifiers comprises Super League clubs nine to 12 plus the top four Championship clubs; and the Championship Shield features Championship clubs five to 12.The Super 8s will be played on a seven match mini-league basis, and will largely determine the make-up of Super League and the Championship the following season.In Super League, all eight clubs are guaranteed top flight status for the following year whilst the top four will contest a play-off series – 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd, with the winner going through to the title-deciding Grand Final.In The Qualifiers, the top three clubs after seven matches will play in Super League the following season with the final place determined by the Million Pound Game, a play-off between the clubs finishing 4th and 5th. The loser of the match will join the three remaining clubs from The Qualifiers and six Championship Shield clubs in the Championship the following season.In the Championship Shield, the top four clubs with contest a play-off series with the winners contesting the Championship Shield final. The bottom two teams in the Championship Shield will be relegated to League 1.The 14 League 1 clubs will each play 22 games – 11 home and 11 away, playing each other once and nine teams twice with fixtures scheduled on a geographical basis. At the end of the regular season 1st will face 2nd with the winner promoted to the Championship as champions. The loser of that match will join the teams that finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in a play-off to determine the second promotion spot.The 14 League 1 clubs will also be joined by the 2014 National Conference League Grand Final winners and the 2014 RFL Conference Challenge Cup winners in a new knockout competition played at the start of the season.To allow for the changes to the league structure, the top eight Super League clubs will join the Challenge Cup at the sixth round stage, with League 1 clubs entering at Round 3, Championship clubs at Round 4 and the bottom four Super League clubs at Round 5.