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Debate left questions unanswered

This opinion piece is almost 10 years old

Peter Scott, chief executive of Enable Scotland, writesabout taking part in a debate at the Gathering with Alistair Darling.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott

We are seven months away from a referendum, when the people of Scotland will make what will probably be the most important decision of their lives.

The debate provided an opportunity to highlight some the issues that are important to people who have learning disabilities, as they consider which way to cast their vote, and, crucially, to make the point that information and debate has been largely inaccessible to date.

This inaccessibility results in the marginalisation and exclusion of people who have learning disabilities (and many others) from the democratic process.

A few days before the debate I met with about 60 Enable Scotland members, all of whom were people who have learning disabilities.

I asked them about their vision for Scotland, which was the topic of the debate. I asked them about the issues that were important to them, and how they would like to see their lives improving in post-referendum Scotland.

He seemed to be arguing that, as many of the matters were already devolved, a no vote would make no difference.

They told me that they wanted the yes and no campaigns to answer key questions.

How would a successful yes or no vote mean that more people who have learning disabilities can get and keep a job, and have more opportunities to have friendships and to contribute as equal citizens? How would a yes or no vote mean that the significant health inequalities experienced by people who have learning disabilities were reduced, and fewer people have to suffer from bullying and harassment?

Credit is due to Mr Darling for committing to ‘Better Together’ participation in a learning disability hustings event Enable Scotland plan to run in the summer. However, I was disappointed in his response to our members’ questions generally.

He seemed to be arguing that, as many of the matters were already devolved, a no vote would make no difference.

Perhaps he is correct, and was being refreshingly honest, but this position begs an additional question. What is the vision of the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns for the (learning disabled) people of Scotland?

Perhaps we will find out at our hustings event.

Related stories:

Alistair Darling tells charities we are better together



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Sharon Kerrigan
almost 10 years ago
Perhaps if Peter had managed to make a coherent point in the debate instead of babbling on about 'not expecting this format' he would have got the answers?
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