Following Sonia Poulton‘s letter to Ed Miliband, and his subsequent heartless response, I felt compelled to write to Mr Miliband myself. I have just sent this through his website and I await his response.
Dear Mr Miliband,
When you won the leadership contest for the Labour Party I was overjoyed. Finally we had someone who seemed more genuine than flair, and more compassionate than political machine.
In light of the heartless attacks on the most vulnerable by the Coalition, in February this year I joined the Labour Party, in order to provide whatever support I could to remove these heartless penny-pinchers from government, in the hope that Labour would look after sick and disabled people with more compassion and respect. Sadly, despite many opportunities, the Labour Party under your leadership has been conspicuous by its silence on the matter.
To say your response to Sonia Poulton’s letter (co-signed by 2000 disabled people and their supporters) was disappointing would be an understatement. It was lacking in compassion and offered no reassurance for disabled people that should Labour come into power, their fear and anxieties would be removed. The fact that you offered to arrange a meeting for Sonia with Anne McGuire appears to me to illustrate that you consider this a minor political issue in the current climate. It is this sort of disrespect and dismissive nature that I would expect from a Tory leader, not one of the Labour Party.
Now more than ever, sick and disabled people need support and reassurance from the opposition party, not political posturing or pandering to media stereotypes. I have heard from within the party locally that Liam Byrne supports the Coalition stance on casting people on benefits as scroungers, as he thinks that this is a vote-winner. I sincerely hope that this is not true, and not a stance supported by the current Labour leadership.
As an aside, I find local (Brighton) Party meetings turgid and lacking in inspiration. Local members have lots of great ideas, but the chain to the top of the Party seems so distant that I fail to believe that any of them make any significant impact. It is only because of the ineptitude of the opposition parties that I remain a member.
In summary, I am severely disappointed that the Labour Party, and you as leader, have failed to address the needs of disabled people with anything more than a token gesture. I am writing to you as a Labour Party member to seek reassurances that you take the needs of the sick and disabled seriously, and to ask you to make a significant statement on the policies and practices you would instigate that would help them, should the Labour Party regain power in 2015, as I very much hope you do.
Your response to Sonia Poulton’s letter has made me seriously reconsider my Labour Party membership. I hope your response to my letter will offer me the reassurance that I am looking for.