It is now less than 100 days until the general election and the political parties are already posturing and making announcements about what they would do if they won on May 7. So now is the time for people with learning disabilities to get involved.
Hardly a day goes by now without a politician – not just the usual big three but also UKIP and the Green Party – talking to the media about their latest policy and trying to woo voters by saying how it would benefit the people of Britain. Soon, party manifestos will be out news bulletins will be dominated by them.
But one large chunk of the potential electorate is often ignored by politicians of all colours – those with learning disabilities. Given that there are about 1 million adults with a learning disability in the UK, not to mention their families and people that support them, they potentially form a large part of the electorate, with some power.
Now is the time for people with learning disabilities to get more involved in the national political debate, and ensure that their voice is heard. Whether this is going to local hustings, or even talking to candidates on the doorstep, there are plenty of opportunities for people with learning disabilities to get involved.
There are already campaigns up and running encouraging more people with learning disabilities to engage with politics and get registered to vote – Mencap, Dimensions and United Response to name three – and this is very much needed.
Mencap reported last year that many people with a learning disability struggle with the voter registration process, so a little help to overcome these barriers can make all the difference.
Then there are organisations like the Learning Disability Alliance England, which are campaigning for the rights of people with learning disabilities. Currently, it is in the process of quality checking government – where people with learning disabilities can have their say on how they think the government has performed over the past 5 years. For more information click here.
While every general election is important, this years could be more so than usual, with health, social care and welfare set to be key battlegrounds – all things that affect people with learning disabilities more than most.
Politics does affect every aspect of our lives – like it or not – and everyone should have their say in the future of the country and how it is run. As I mentioned earlier, people with learning disabilities make up a significant chunk of the electorate; if greater numbers vote, then politicians will have to take more notice of the issues that affect them.
So now is the time for people with learning disabilities – with assistance from family or those who support them if necessary – to get themselves registered so they can vote on May 7 and get involved in the debates beforehand.