Case Study

Blatent discrimination

I am now a 60 year old man who is virtually housebound. I take very short rides on my scooter about every two weeks, very local, and if and when a taxi.

I joined the Labour Party, late 2015/2016. When I first joined there was no alternative method to vote for a new Chair unless I physically went to the vote. I could not and therefore could not vote.

The Chair said there was going to be a LGBT and Disabled Group set up. Neither evolved in my time there.

I succeeded in getting the executive which was then the three wards to agree that disabled people could vote via Skype if they could not attend meetings to vote. I also managed to get Skyped into my ward meetings.

This period was very dark, my only contact so far was via the odd Skype meetings and Facebook. The admins on Facebook were unused to moderating and I have screen grabs of intimidation, bullying, trolling etc because 1. I was a Corbyn supporter, whilst about half were Kendal supporters and 2. My efforts to raise disability issues were met with deafening silence. It felt very intimidating.

My chair went to work for Jeremy. I sent the next new Chair screen grabs of the treatment meted out to me since I had joined and he had assured me if he was elected he would address some of my concerns. I voted for him at a meeting via Skype.

At around that time a very poor moderator indeed decided to expel me from Facebook because I had wanted redress to accusations of an elected councillor. I later went to the equalities unit in the council and won my case against her online behaviour and received a private apology.

The Chair and I then had a very toxic exchange of emails cc’d to Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Debbie Abrahams. Even though he knew of my past experiences he refused to do anything retrospect making my membership of The Labour Party pointless if I couldn’t access the meetings. He refused to admit even after his claim to have “I have checked on the database and there’s never been an incident of you being banned.” I was banned on 22 December 2016.

I had spent considerable effort the previous year campaigning for the council not to meet at Brighton Old Town Hall as it was deemed inaccessible my the then three MPs. The Chair went back on this and said they should meet there. One of his reasons was that it was podcast, but during the first meeting it didn’t work properly and the first motion of abolishing the ILF went through to a pixilated podcast, hopeless. During our exchange he said he was getting rid of Skype and introducing an audio only for meetings as this was free. I explained that I had been Skyped from nearly every public building in Brighton and Skype was free and should he offer audio only maybe at the next meeting he provide the whole attendees with blindfolds so they may experience same.

The solicitors at the council advised that elected representatives should not block people for the sake of transparency and fairness, I was blocked by both the leader (who is stepping down) and another person. The Chair said said it was only a recommendation not a law. I suggested a post on the executive of a disabled person, he rejected this saying there were already three elected people in the group.

I asked him directly if he supported disability issues, I never got a clear response. I suggested he go to the local disability charity and get disability awareness training as he was in obvious need of it. I wrote him saying his habit of writing without paragraphs and making spelling mistakes was making it really difficult for me to digest and respond. He then sent an email with over 3,000 words without any of my suggestions. It was this point I gave up. Now my Chair is an MP it makes it very difficult for me to address and I have sent the leaflet to Debbie Abrahams, but as yet no reply as I got the standard ‘I only represent people in my own constituency’.

Steven D