The Conservative Party risks having an empty chair at a forthcoming event for voters with learning disabilities, where all the other main parties have committed to having a representative present.
While the Conservatives have had warm words about engaging with voters with learning disabilities, it seems these have not been backed up with action. The only empty chair at the Learning Disability Alliance (LDA) England’s forthcoming Citizen Jury Event is that of the Conservative Party.
Timed to coincide with the seven-way debate on ITV on April 2, the Citizen Jury Event, in central London, will see a panel of people with learning disabilities and their families ask questions of:
• Labour Party: Kate Green - PPC for Stretford and Urmston - Labour Shadow Disability Minister
• Liberal Democrats : Baroness Barker - Spokesperson on Health in the Lords
• Green Party: Marion Turner-Hawes - PPC for Wellingborough and Member of Green Party Disability Group
• UKIP: Star Etheridge - PPC for Wolverhampton North East - UKIP Disability Spokesman
At the event, LDA England’s Citizen Jury will review and mark each party on the basis of their responses. The scores will be made public after the event, with the aim of helping the many millions of voters whose lives are touched by those with learning disabilities to decide who will best represent them.
The Conservative Party are the only party not to reply to the invitation issued by Baroness the Professor Sheila Hollins and Gary Bourlet of People First England.
This stands in stark contrast to the way in which the Conservatives have publicly represented their attitude towards people with learning disabilities. For instance, Prime Minister David Cameron told Mencap: “It is really important that as well as providing the support that people with learning disabilities and their families need, MPs of all parties listen to the challenges they face.”
However, LDA England emphasised that there is still time for the Conservatives to send a representative to the event.