If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

National Democracy Week – Talk to Government about making your voice heard

talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
edited July 2018 in Guest Q&As

Hello! 

The first ever National Democracy Week is taking place across the United Kingdom this week (2-8 July).

The government wants to help as many people as possible to talk about democracy, elections and voting and make their voices heard. The Cabinet Office is working with organisations - including Scope - who are committed to helping people from all backgrounds have their say in the decisions that affect them.

There are many ways to do this. For example, we have organised more than 3000 fantastic “Equaliteas” events; a picnic in Parliament Square; and a tea party for older residents run by the Scouts and other youth organisations. Details of all of these events and more can be found in the Events section of our website.

In addition to this great work we know more that needs to be done to dismantle barriers to taking part in our democratic system. National Democracy Week is a great opportunity to have a conversation about your experiences of accessing democracy and discuss what might be improved. For example, you may want to talk about what are the challenges you face? What would help address them? What more could be done to make the electoral process more inclusive?

Senior representatives from the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for implementing the government’s policies on voter registration and the electoral system, will be online on Thursday to hear your views and answer your questions. The question and answer session will cover how elections work, how to register to vote and where to find information about local representatives for example

My name is Gareth Baynham-Hughes and I will be online tomorrow between 9 and 10am to help with your queries.

I look forward to discussing democracy with you!

Replies

  • veritercveriterc Posts: 146Community champion Pioneering
    With so many difficulties facing anyone disabled who needs to access health and social care, why is there a post-code lottery, where some disabled people in Britain receive care, which is denied others just because they live in a different area?  Surely ALL should be able to access the same level of care, wherever they live?
  • thespicemanthespiceman Posts: 4,254Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @talkdemocracy This is a good idea but will they listen. Points need to be raised. First one need to ask why is the lack of resources not spent explaining to people of our community.

    The policies of Government that concern our community.

    Make them more understandable to the voter. Of which I am one.  Last General Election could not and did not wish to vote. Wanted to but no policies for our community were made available. As far as I am aware.

    This is the issue point two. Why vote when you are from a minority sector of society that has been railroaded by Governments successive ones may I add.

    If Governments want us to be part a society and a community inclusive then appoint some one who is disabled for a Minister. At least she or he will understand us this community.  Whole lot better. I pray and give some hope.

    Other points are most places to vote are inaccessible to us the community. Must be made easier using on line forums or using voter registration on line or whatever. Understand this more people would vote if they could do that on line. As long as it is secure and safe and from fraud

    Is that the future. Who wishes to vote if can do it on line. Is that already there have not seen anything. Do postal but still means have to go out. After all if not well then vote will not be sent. Will it.

    @thespiceman .
  • AlexAlex Posts: 1,325Scope Team Scope community team
    Hi, I've actually worked at a polling station for many years - the most common questions I've heard - especially from older and disabled voters - are about exactly what they're voting for and what the candidates stand for. Many candidates don't publicise themselves in a way that is accessible to everyone. How can we make sure that not only is voting accessible but that the information surrounding an election is accessible to everyone, so they can make an informed choice?
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Posts: 1,439Administrator Scope community team
    I would like to ask why political parties do not have a quota system for candidates with impairments, 
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy
  • WilliamECWilliamEC Posts: 2Member Listener
    I know this may sound a niave question but in all serious, why do I get the feeling having a disability means you are made to feel like a second class citizen with all the cuts happening. I used to use the bus before 09:30hrs free of charge in Worcestershire now I have to wait until then restricting my movement as working part time and then paying for transport cuts wages even further. I am highly intellegent and treated like scum for having CP. You have the DDA and Equal Opportunity in my eyes these are not working. Politician in Westminster seem to be in a bubble. OK they may be well off but they ingore some members of society like the disabled. When is this going to change? An example of this is OK cut the Nation Debt but why target the most vunerable and disabled in the community. What about reduce MPs pay, cut the cost involved in the House of Commons, cut members in the Lords and save money that way. Oh no we, the MPs, need to be millionairres etc lets hurt the poor and less well of disabled person in our society. Well thank you William
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    Good morning! My question is: if something is preventing us from sharing our views when a decision is being made, what can we do about it?
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    veriterc said:
    With so many difficulties facing anyone disabled who needs to access health and social care, why is there a post-code lottery, where some disabled people in Britain receive care, which is denied others just because they live in a different area?  Surely ALL should be able to access the same level of care, wherever they live?
    Hello and thank you for your question. Unfortunately we are not in a position to give you an answer on this subject. Let me see later if we can find a way of getting the right contact details to you so that you can put this question to someone who can help.
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Thanks @thespiceman

    You are right that online voting could be really helpful for democratic engagement, especially for some people. At the moment, we have real concerns about the security issues you mentioned. We think it's really important that when they cast their vote that is secure and that the public has confidence overall in the integrity of the system.

    Your local authority is responsible for making polling stations available for elections. As part of deciding which buildings to use, accessibility is a key consideration. If you have any specific concerns, I'm sure your local elections team would like to hear about them. You can find contact details for them here: https://www.gov.uk/get-on-electoral-register

    Thanks again for getting in touch.
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Alex said:
    Hi, I've actually worked at a polling station for many years - the most common questions I've heard - especially from older and disabled voters - are about exactly what they're voting for and what the candidates stand for. Many candidates don't publicise themselves in a way that is accessible to everyone. How can we make sure that not only is voting accessible but that the information surrounding an election is accessible to everyone, so they can make an informed choice?
    Hi Alex and thank you for your question.

    There is a mix of responsibilities here. First and foremost it is for candidates and their party to set out their policies to the electorate and to do so in a way that makes it as accessible and easy to understand as possible. The parties should realise that there are votes hanging on how well they do this!

    From a Government perspective, we do want to make sure the electorate has access to information. Sometimes, what is available - and how it is made available - depends on the election in question. The London elections in May 2016 saw some really innovative use of the internet, including materials in a range of accessible formats. The most recent Police and Crime Commissioner elections also allowed people to download candidate information by local area and request accessible versions of the candidate booklet.

    We work closely through the Government-chaired Accessibility of Elections Working Group to monitor and review how the experience of disabled voters can be improved.



  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    I would like to ask why political parties do not have a quota system for candidates with impairments, 
    Hello. Thanks for the question.

    This is something that is really a matter for political parties, I'm afraid. That said, the Government is certainly supportive of efforts to improve the diversity of Parliament. 
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Hello @WilliamEC and thanks for your question.

    I am sorry that you feel so disheartened by politics. As civil servants, we have responsibility for some of the systems that support our democracy. But democracy is also about making your voice heard in lots of other ways. We'd encourage you to keep on voicing your concerns to your MP, your local authority and others to make sure they really understand and address your needs. And then at election time, use your vote to tell people what you think!

    Take care!
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Good morning! My question is: if something is preventing us from sharing our views when a decision is being made, what can we do about it?
    Hi Pippa. This is quite a broad question!

    In terms of making sure the needs of disabled voters are taken into account in our electoral system, there is the Government-chaired Accessibility of Elections Working Group. This gives us the opportunity to hear from and work with a range of charities and other groups, including Scope.

    More widely, democratic participation is possible in lots of different ways at local and national level. As and when, we as Cabinet Office directly seek views - as we did with the recent consultation on the accessibility of elections (results out soon!). We launched this consultation last year at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability. APPGs such as this, as well as your MP's constituency activities, are ways in which organisations can influence our politicians.

    Hope this is an answer - please let me know if there's something more specific!
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    From @Chloe_Scope: When campaigning for disability rights, what's the best way to bring about change?
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    And another from me: could you tell us a little about what policies/guidelines are already in place to ensure voting is accessible for all?
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Hello - just thought I'd show you all where we are! Working away at our laptops in the main HM Treasury building, where some Cabinet Office staff are also based.
    #talkdemocracy
    #NDW18

  • WilliamECWilliamEC Posts: 2Member Listener
    Thankyou for the response, the main problem is, and I feel most people with disabilities feel the same is getting through life is tiring anyway and battering an iron door down with your hands, which is how it feels when you talk about disability in the house (parliament)  you feel you will get ignored as all MPs seem interest in is self interest and getting in at the next election for another good wage packet. That is why certain people like my local MP was brought in to this seat from outside. You say about voting at the next election, but the problem is certain seats like mine will never change so my vote is basically meaningless which ever way I vote and thus the MP knows they do not have to try to hard as they have a seat for life. Funny kind of democracy we live in. Isn't it really 'job for the boys' club. The political system needs a massive upheavel. An example is the House of Lords costs the country how much a year and for what. We do not need that many in a 2nd house to review proposed legislation. Cut this down to 100 maximum and the Commons to 300, this will save enough money to help the NHS, disabled people etc. 52 counties 300 MPs does not sound to bad does it.
  • steve51steve51 Posts: 5,625Community champion Disability Gamechanger
    Hi sorry for being late but I would like to know how I can join the current movement on legalising medical canabis????

    Too date I have been given lots of mess with no joy at all in helping me with my chronic pain. 

    I have now been refused my only avaliable treatment on the NHS. 

    Many thanks  

    Steve. 
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    From @Chloe_Scope: When campaigning for disability rights, what's the best way to bring about change?
    We can only speak as individual citizens (not civil servants) when answering this question. I guess there are a few ways of trying to influence decision-makers, whether that's MPs, members of the House of Lords or local politicians and service providers.These ways include working as individuals through correspondence, attendance at public meetings or signing petitions. They also include working with larger groups that represent your interests, who can raise and amplify issues of concern to you.

    Perhaps the most successful campaigns will do a few things. They'll have the right evidence and expertise to hand. They'll have energy and passion. And they'll get the tactics right - choosing the right moment and right communications approach to have an impact.

    There's no perfect recipe and it can be a lot of hard work, but there are lots of times when campaigns have made a difference at national level. A very recent example that springs to mind (not in the same sector!) is the campaign on a new offence linked to "upskirting" that has resulted in the Government bringing forward draft legislation.
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    And another from me: could you tell us a little about what policies/guidelines are already in place to ensure voting is accessible for all?
    Sure. Here are a few things:

    - At elections and referendums, disabled voters may ask the presiding officer (who manages the polling station) to help them to mark the ballot paper. They may also vote with the help of another person - or "companion" - who must be a close family member over 18 years old or a qualified elector.

    - All polling stations must be equipped with a special “tactile” voting device. The voting device is a reusable plastic template that can be attached to the ballot paper and is designed to allow blind and partially sighted voters to vote independently without revealing their voting intentions to a third party.  

    - A large print version of the ballot paper must be displayed in the polling station and an enlarged hand-held sample copy provided on request to be taken into the polling booth for reference.

    - Local authorities have responsibility for designating polling places (that is, locations or buildings) within their area, and make sure, as far as is reasonable and practicable, that they are accessible to the local community, including those voters who are disabled. 

    - Also, electoral officers are now required to make certain information and documents about the electoral process available to electors in other languages and formats upon request, including Braille and audio format. 

    - Local authorities and Returning Officers are also required to have regard to the public sector equality duty contained in Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 when carrying out their duties.

    Sorry for the dry language! I've cut and pasted from a pre-existing list!
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    steve51 said:
    Hi sorry for being late but I would like to know how I can join the current movement on legalising medical canabis????

    Too date I have been given lots of mess with no joy at all in helping me with my chronic pain. 

    I have now been refused my only avaliable treatment on the NHS. 

    Many thanks  

    Steve. 
    Hi Steve. Really sorry about your chronic pain. We're not experts in this area, at all. But I do know that the Government is looking at this issue as a priority and I notice that the Home Office recently published this press release giving an update:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/medicinal-cannabis-review-part-2-commissioned

    I am sure your local MP or the Home Office itself would be happy to hear from you.
  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected
    Hello again @WilliamEC

    The cost of politics is often controversial. Of course the number of MPs affects the total cost. The scale of spending on politics (measured in tens of millions of pounds) and the scale of spending on the NHS (measured in tens of billions of pounds) is very different. 

    There is an ongoing Boundary Review. The Commissions conducting this Review have been asked to base it on 600 MPs, 50 fewer than at present. The Commissions will present their final recommendations for this Review in the autumn.

    Hope this helps.
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger

    Many thanks to @talkdemocracy for chatting with us today, and thanks for asking your questions everybody! 

  • talkdemocracytalkdemocracy Posts: 13Member Connected

    Many thanks to @talkdemocracy for chatting with us today, and thanks for asking your questions everybody! 

    Hi Pippa. Any time! We can't help with everything, but where we can, we will! 
  • feirfeir Posts: 354Member Pioneering
    You could save money by cutting assessments to all disabled people and writing computer programmes where actual GPs, consultants, or whoever, can check a box on their screen to say what help we need (like PIP, wheelchair, occupational therapy or whatever), why not do that instead of penalising disabled people themselves with cuts?

    And i watch discussions in parliament and think it's rude the MPs just walk out because they have no interest in what's being discussed (and probably get paid for just turning up and not doing any actual work anyway), why is that allowed?

    Figured you might be coming back at some point so i might as well post.
Sign in or join us to comment.