How (British) Deaf People Could Win the 2015 General Election
Last week at the Liberal Democrat conference, David Buxton, the British Deaf Association Chief Executive, took centre stage and successfully convinced delegates to support British Sign Language. It was good to see. Not only because of what he had to say, but because it’s very rare that deaf issues take centre stage in political debate. In fact, I don’t remember that they ever have.
For those who want to see deaf people better represented by our political parties or government, the next general election could be a golden opportunity to advance the cause further than ever before. An opportunity for deaf issues to, at least locally, take centre stage but at the same time, potentially make a huge difference nationally.
The 2015 election is tipped to be very close and in close elections, relatively small groups of people can become crucial to the outcome by wielding a disproportionate level of influence over the result. Just as the Liberal Democrats became kingmakers 2010, deaf people could play a similar role in some key marginal constituencies in the run-up to the 2015 vote and politically punch above their weight.
More time, money and effort will be spent by political parties on marginal constituencies than in others. In these constituencies Cameron, Clegg and Miliband know that a few hundred votes going one way or another could decide, not only who gets to be the local MP, but essentially, who occupies Number 10. These are the places where deaf people could influence the election result and use that influence to bargain for better rights.
There are 28 marginal battleground constituencies where the sitting MP has a majority of less than 1,000 votes (plus Ed Balls’ constituency). The MPs and rival candidates are very keen to impress the voters – these are far from being safe seats.
In these constituencies, an alliance of only a few deaf hundred people and their supporters is all that’s needed to have the potential to sway the result and get the candidate’s full attention. What if the local deaf club, lip reading class, sign language class or deaf children’s society formed an alliance? Maybe that could be enough to make an impact and get the candidates and parties listening. It could be enough to get deaf people’s rights into a manifesto, if the alliances made their presence felt early enough.
Read the rest of the story with its Deaf Hit List 2015 at: http://tinyurl.com/ncjzaqc
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