Scottish Tories absent from one of the largest hustings of the 2016 Scottish election
THE SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVES have been booed by hundreds of disabled people at a hustings held by the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) for failuring to attend and defend its policies.
The hustings, organised by the 3000 member strong disabled people-led movement, was one of the largest election hustings of the 2016 Scottish elections, with around 300 disabled people attending Glasgow’s Radisson Blu hotel.
Members of the audience booed and heckled a statement read-out on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, which claimed that the Tories “apologise for being unable to find a candidate to attend”.
Rise candidate for Glasgow Cat Boyd was the first candidate to attack the Conservatives for failing to attend.
“I think it is a disgrace that the party driving the attacks against disabled people didn’t have the guts to show up at this hustings today.” Cat Boyd, Rise
To applause she said: “I think it is a disgrace that the party driving the attacks against disabled people didn’t have the guts to show up at this hustings today.”
Calling for wealth redistribution to empower disabled people, she said: “The way disabled people are being treated is faceless and alienating and takes away people’s power and dignity, and that has to stop.”
Green candidate Zara Kitson also added her criticism, saying to laughter that it would be best “if the Conservatives didn’t turn up in parliamentary debates as well”.
She called for greater representation of disabled people in the Scottish Parliament saying: “If one in five people are disabled, one in five politicians should be disabled, because your voice should be in there. Disabled people’s views should inform decisions that affect disabled people.”
James Dornan, the outgoing MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said: “They couldn’t find anyone to be here? They couldn’t find anyone brave enough to face you.”
He focused on the SNP’s plans to overhaul social security in Scotland.
He said: “The present system only seems to be there to denigrate and penalise people. The system we will put in place will have equality and dignity at its heart.”
“They couldn’t find anyone to be here? They couldn’t find anyone brave enough to face you.” James Dornan, SNP
The hustings was introduced by a performance by the disabled people’s theatre and music group, the Purple Poncho Players, which focused on the chief demands of the GDA in the Scottish elections including policies to empower disabled people and offer them more personal independence and dignity.
Speaking after the comedy sketches and music, Tressa Burke chief executive of GDA said: “Change is very much needed to change the stigma and barriers disabled people face.”
Disabled people have faced the brunt of austerity cuts across the UK, with half of all cuts to benefits negatively impacting disabled people.
The Unison trade union has estimated that by 2018 almost PS30bn in funds will have been lost to almost 3 million disabled people across the UK
The hustings follows a manifesto launch and rally held in Glasgow green , and confirms GDA as one of Scotland’s fastest growing and most influential civic organisations.
CommonSpace contacted the Scottish Conservatives for comment, but did not receive a reply by time of publication.
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