More than 1, 000 Deaf and disabled people and their allies have backed Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to be re-elected as Labour leader after signing a letter recognising his years of support for key disability rights campaigns.The letter was written by the grassroots campaigning network Disabled People Against Cuts, which said it wanted to repay Corbyn (pictured) – and his deputy John McDonnell – for their past support.The letter says: “You have supported deaf and disabled people’s causes for many, many years.“You have spoken in Parliament. You have voted against vicious welfare reforms that have blighted our lives, often having to rebel against the Whip to do so.“You have campaigned with us during court vigils, at street protests and you spoke at the ‘10,000 cuts and counting’ memorial for people who had died as a result of welfare reform.”The letter adds: “During our campaign to save the [Independent Living Fund] when we asked the then Labour Leadership for help and got none, you publicly supported our campaign.”And it tells Corbyn: “You have supported deaf and disabled people in so many ways over so many years and now it is time for us to have a chance to rally in support of you and John.”Many of those who signed the letter have added comments of their own.Disability rights activist David Gillon said: “A return to New Labour is a return to ignoring disabled people.”Another to sign the letter was the veteran inclusive education campaigner Micheline Mason, who said: “You have also both supported our fight for inclusion, which, as you know, is another word for socialism in practice.“We will win this struggle together, but thank you so much for keeping the flame of hope burning in dark times.”Ian Jones, co-founder of the WOW campaign, praised Corbyn’s support, which helped secure a parliamentary debate for the WOW petition, and said: “Most Labour MPs ‘talk the talk’ about disabled people getting true equality of opportunity in our society. Jeremy ‘walks the walk’.”Another to sign the letter, Katy Marchant, said: “While the media and parliament has largely ignored the brutal attacks by Tory Austerity on disabled people and the enormous suffering and deaths this has caused, both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have steadfastly spoken out and supported us.”Cornelia Roesskamp said: “You have supported inclusive education when in and out of ‘fashion’ because you understand that it is [a] human rights issue fundamentally.”Janine Booth, a member of the TUC disabled workers’ committee, said: “As well as the comments in the letter, I’d like to add that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s support for autistic and other neurodivergent people fighting for our rights has been nothing short of outstanding.“Only a Labour government under their leadership will deliver the radical policy changes that we need after years of Tory austerity and bigotry.”Mandy Bell said: “As the mother of a disabled child, I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the ONLY candidate of choice, the only person I would trust my daughter’s future to.”And Geraldine O’Connor said: “I thank you for defending people with disabilities, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.“You have fought for us, now we will fight for you.”Meanwhile, Corbyn’s opponent, former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, claimed in an interview with the Guardian that – if he became prime minister – he would rewrite the eligibility rules for personal independence payment (PIP), scrap the work capability assessment, and move from outsourcing benefits assessments to private firms, such as Atos, Capita and Maximus, to using the NHS and social services to carry out the tests.But his claims to support disabled people were undermined when a video emerged on the Independent website the following day of him using disablist language to describe Corbyn at a campaign rally.Smith told the rally: “We’ve got to get two million people who actually voted Tory 12 months ago to vote Labour, in 106 seats.“And what you won’t have from me is some lunatic at the top of the Labour party, you’ll have someone who tries to form a coherent narrative about what’s wrong with Britain.”
A leading disabled campaigner is taking three separate legal cases against a train company, as part of his efforts to persuade the rail industry to improve the “lamentably inaccurate” information it provides on access to its services.Rail enthusiast Doug Paulley was twice driven to distraction by the failures of ScotRail to provide accurate information as he tried to plan trips to Aviemore and Orkney in September.The company’s failures resulted in him having to send scores of emails and spend hours on the phone to try to correct its mistakes booking his tickets and assistance for the Orkney trip, ruining what he had hoped would be the “journey of a lifetime”.And when he later tried to complain to the company about its failures, a ScotRail manager sent libellous comments about him to other senior figures in the rail industry, suggesting that he had lied about what he had been told by ScotRail staff.Paulley (pictured) says the information train operating companies publish on their own websites about access at stations across Britain often contradicts the information shown on the National Rail website.This can make it impossible for disabled passengers to be able to plan their journeys with any certainty.It is part of a widespread failure to ensure that information on access to rail services for disabled people is accurate and kept up-to-date, he believes.Last month, he was even told by a ScotRail operator that every station in the country was accessible to wheelchair-users, when industry information shows that more than half of the company’s stations do not have step-free access.One of the legal cases Paulley is taking against ScotRail concerns his efforts to book rail tickets for what he had hoped would be a “trip of a lifetime” to and from the north-east of Scotland, for a short visit to Orkney.To make the trip particularly special he wanted to book first-class tickets if possible, and was assured by ScotRail – despite what he had been told by another train company – that there were spaces available in first class for wheelchair-users.After booking those tickets in June, he then discovered that ScotRail does not have any first-class wheelchair spaces on any of its services, and that the company had previously been criticised for allowing wheelchair-users to buy first-class tickets which they were unable to use.ScotRail had promised the regulator last year that it would ensure that wheelchair-users would not be able to buy first-class tickets.Paulley told the company, in a letter warning of his intention to take legal action: “I spent several hours making phone calls (with which I struggle because I am deaf) and sent or received a hundred or so emails, all in an attempt to make a booking for two single journeys.“I bought lots of tickets I either couldn’t use or didn’t need, which I then had to get refunded.”He added: “I have had to display real dogged determination in order to get these tickets and assistance booked, and to do the journey.“This was supposed to be the journey of a lifetime, but instead it will be marred forever by memories of weeks of me feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall, in order to arrange what should have been a straightforward booking, and for any non-disabled person would be.”The second legal case relates to his attempts to obtain information from ScotRail about access at Aviemore rail station.As a result of ScotRail’s failure to clarify whether the station was accessible to wheelchair-users, he had to abandon plans to visit Badaguish, a nearby accessible holiday destination run by the Speyside Trust.He told ScotRail, in a letter warning of his intention to take legal action, that its failings were “absolutely infuriating” and that he felt as though ScotRail “just don’t give two hoots about my need for access information in order to plan and book a journey with relative confidence”.He told the company he wanted to correct “unacceptable discriminatory service provision by Scotrail who have failed to meet their moral or legal obligations to disabled people”.Paulley warned ScotRail that he had taken about 50 disability discrimination cases over the last decade, one of which eventually saw him secure a ground-breaking Supreme Court victory on access to buses for wheelchair-users.In a third legal letter, he warned ScotRail that he viewed the false, libellous statements that had been made about his complaints about information on access to be “very serious”.He said: “Allegations that I am being disingenuous, that I have made complaints and sought compensation having attempted assistance and ticket bookings despite knowing them to not be possible, fundamentally undermine my credibility as a disabled rights campaigner and reduce my efficacy, particularly when made to senior managers at multiple Train Operating Companies, and particularly when made by a senior manager at a Train Operating Company.”ScotRail said it was unable to comment on active legal cases.Paulley told Disability News Service that the three legal cases showed the “recurrent passenger assistance booking and access information failures across the rail industry”.Much of the information, he said, is “lamentably inaccurate and not fit for purpose”.Now he wants to see action from the industry, and is due to attend a meeting (today) with industry representatives to discuss his concerns.He is optimistic that plans to replace cross-industry IT systems could improve the accuracy and reliability of information on assistance and accessibility.He said: “All I want is for train operating companies to do what they are legally and morally obliged to do, that being to ensure information is accurate, usable and comprehensive.“It isn’t, and it should be.”A spokeswoman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents all the country’s train companies and Network Rail, said: “We look forward to meeting Doug Paulley later this week to discuss in detail his concerns.“Our accessibility team is working hard to improve accessibility for customers across the network, and we are involving rail companies, stakeholders and advocacy groups to help us.“Over the last year, we have developed a detailed programme of work, centred on tackling the challenges our customers face and improving overall experience by embracing new technologies and ensuring our staff can provide the best possible service, not just for people with disabilities but for everyone who uses our railway.”
Jeremy Corbyn has written to all Labour MPs this afternoon, ahead of the indicative votes on Brexit options tonight.In his letter, the Labour leader acknowledges that “from Hackney to Huddersfield, there are vastly different and passionately held views”, before setting out how the party aims to bring Leave and Remain voters together.“We are committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to respect the referendum result, by seeking support for Labour’s alternative deal for a close relationship with the EU,” the letter reads. “That is what we are campaigning for.”But Corbyn goes on to make clear that “to break the deadlock”, he is asking Labour MPs to vote for motions tonight that “reflect aspects” of Labour’s deal – namely Ken Clarke’s customs union membership and Nick Boles’ Common Market 2.0.“Further to that,” he adds, “should we be unable to win support for our deal, and if parliament does not give sufficient support to a similar proposition, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote to prevent a no deal exit or a damaging Tory Brexit”.This would suggest that Labour is backing another referendum only if its alternative deal does not pass and if another version of Brexit cannot win enough support in the Commons to pass without the condition that it is put to a public vote.Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to all Labour MPs this afternoon.Dear colleagueI want to thank you for your support and comradeship in recent weeks, as we seek to deal with the Tory Brexit shambles.Through their intransigence and incompetence, the Tories have failed to deliver a Brexit deal. They are risking the livelihoods of so many of our constituents and are fuelling resentment.Theresa May has been forced to pre-announce her resignation, in a desperate attempt to seek support for her botched deal. The Chief Whip is attacking the cabinet. The government is falling apart. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate our readiness to take over.People need a government which will sort out their schools, their hospitals, their council services and their community safety. Theresa May is preventing that happening.We need to sweep this government away and let people take control through a general election, as agreed at our conference.I know within the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the wider party, we have a variety of strongly-held views on Brexit.And amongst voters in Labour seats, from Hackney to Huddersfield, there are vastly different and passionately held views. Those views are reflected in our election gains, whether that is Brighton and Canterbury, or Crewe and Weaver Vale. And we must also look to opinions in the seats we need to gain to win the next election.I fully recognise the strength of feeling shown by recent protests and petitions from both Leave and Remain voters. Labour is committed to bringing these groups together as the basis for a new government.We are committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to respect the referendum result, by seeking support for Labour’s alternative deal for a close relationship with the EU.I have discussed this with the EU’s negotiators and with colleagues in the Party of European Socialists, and I am sure it could be successfully negotiated.That proposal, as we have said, seeks a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market, and dynamic alignment on rights and protections.That is what we are campaigning for. But in order to break the deadlock and find the consensus necessary to force a change to the red lines of the Prime Minister’s rejected deal, I also ask you to support motions that reflect aspects of Labour’s alternative plan, including a customs union and for Common Market 2.0.Further to that, we have also been clear, should we be unable to win support for our deal, and if parliament does not give sufficient support to a similar proposition, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote to prevent a no deal exit or a damaging Tory Brexit.Those are the principles on which we approached last week’s indicative votes, and they are the principles on which we will approach future debates and votes.I am working to bring together views from across the party and across parliament and I welcome the comradeship you have shown in pulling together.Let’s make sure we are successful.YoursJeremy Corbyn MPLeader of the OppositionTags:Jeremy Corbyn /Brexit /
THE Super 8s are coming!Saints will face Wigan, Huddersfield, Hull FC and Warrington at home and travel to Catalans, Castleford and Leeds.Full fixture details will be announced on Wednesday July 29.Until then, enjoy this fantastic video.