The Labour party has been left without a shadow mi

first_imgThe Labour party has been left without a shadow minister for disabled people, after Debbie Abrahams was promoted to shadow work and pensions secretary following the turmoil that caused most of the shadow cabinet to resign.The party was unable yesterday (Wednesday) to say when or if a new shadow minister for disabled people would be appointed, but there will be concerns that there will now not be enough MPs who are loyal to party leader Jeremy Corbyn to fill all of the remaining shadow posts.Abrahams (pictured) was appointed to shadow the work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb after the resignation of Owen Smith, one of about 40 shadow ministers and shadow cabinet ministers who have quit in protest at Corbyn’s leadership.There have also been concerns that Corbyn has been forced to scrap the post he created only last year of a shadow cabinet minister for mental health, because of the resignation of Luciana Berger and the need to appoint a slimmed-down shadow cabinet.Only 40 Labour MPs voted for Corbyn in a no-confidence motion last week, compared with 172 who voted against him.But the Labour leader and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell have earned fierce loyalty from disabled anti-cuts activists for their consistent opposition to Tory-led austerity and commitment to disability rights issues since 2010, and particularly for opposing cuts to disability benefits and services that many of their fellow Labour MPs supported.Abrahams did not respond yesterday to a request for a comment from Disability News Service, although a spokesman for Corbyn said: “Front bench ministers will be announced soon. Sorry I can’t be more specific at this time.”There was initial confusion over a possible replacement for Abrahams after Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, congratulated Labour MP Margaret Greenwood “on stepping up to be my shadow today” after she had responded for the party in a parliamentary debate on disability employment.But a spokesman for Greenwood, who was previously owen Smith’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS), said she had stood in for Abrahams only for the debate and was now set to be Abrahams’ PPS.Caroline Richardson, a Labour party member and a disabled campaigner with the Spartacus online network, said she believed the promotion of Abrahams would be good for disabled people.She said: “Whilst I recognise the current situation within the Labour parliamentary party has resulted in some ministerial posts not currently being filled, I am confident that the promotion of Debbie Abrahams to the post of shadow secretary of state for work and pensions is exceptionally beneficial to disabled people.“Debbie brings with her to the post the knowledge base of her previous post, including the people who worked with her in that specialism.”She said that the disabled people who had built up contacts with Abrahams would continue to provide the evidence she needed to respond to the government’s planned green paper on employment support for disabled people.She said: “I think that activists and members of organisations involved in protecting disability rights and scrutinising legislation will be pivotal in both providing evidence to Debbie and her team, and to creating compelling evidence-based reports for addressing the green paper.”And she said she thought that a short-term vacancy for the post of shadow minister for disabled people would not harm disabled people’s interests.She said: “Parliament will very shortly enter recess and then conference season, hence there will be significantly less pressure on ministers on a face-to-face basis in the chamber.“Our challenge as disabled people is to provide continuity of support and evidence to the parties in opposition, to continue to scrutinise legislation and to prepare to respond to the green paper, whilst battling our own private and personal wars.”last_img read more

The boss of a local Mencap charity has admitted re

first_imgThe boss of a local Mencap charity has admitted repeatedly sharing racist messages from far-right organisations including the BNP and Britain First on social media.Patricia Chadwick has been sharing far-right messages on her Facebook page since at least 2015, alongside animal welfare posts and messages of support for the charity she chairs, Bolton Mencap – which supports people with learning difficulties – where she is also programme director.Until this week, her Facebook page described her as “project director at Mencap”, as well as a former lecturer at Bolton University.Among the messages she has shared are a 2015 BNP post which called on its supporters to “rise up and reclaim your country”.She shared a Britain First post last summer calling for “no more mosques!” and last year also shared a call to “bring back the golliwogs”.Earlier this month, Chadwick shared a post which said it “should be unconstitutional to use our tax money to help other countries when we have homeless and hungry people in our own country”.And last August she shared a video that was described as “extremely graphic”, which apparently showed “Syrian terrorists beheading civilians”, although the video appears to have been removed by Facebook.After Disability News Service (DNS) asked her about her Facebook activity, she deleted nearly all of her posts, and removed the reference to her job at Bolton Mencap.When asked about the golliwog post, she claimed that she did not “see the harm” in golliwogs – widely accepted now as racist – and believed they were “a very innocent thing”, although she said Bolton Mencap does not sell them in its charity shop “in case it does offend anybody, because we’re in a multi-cultural area, so obviously we take that on board”.She said: “Some of my friends are black as coal and they don’t mind them. They want the golliwogs back as well. I think it’s a minority of people that are being picky about it.”She tried to claim that she had stopped sharing far-right posts on her Facebook page because she “did not think it was appropriate at all”, until DNS pointed out that she posted one earlier this month.She said: “I went to multi-racial colleges, I have friends all over the world and I’m the least person that’s racist.“I have taken them all off because I didn’t want to offend anybody as my friend group grows.”When DNS pointed out that she had not removed the posts, she said: “I probably didn’t even read it.”Asked about the post which demanded that foreign aid should be made “unconstitutional” while there are homeless and hungry people in this country, she said: “Yes, I do agree with that. Charity begins at home, doesn’t it?”She added: “That’s what Bolton Mencap does, and that’s what Mencap does. We look after our own primarily.”When DNS suggested that it was right to help people dying of starvation in other countries, she said: “No, I can’t agree with that.”She accused DNS of just “picking out the bad bits” from her Facebook page, but then added: “If you read those posts, a lot of people in this country are fed up of it being an open door, giving money away to everybody, when we’ve got people who need help.“To be perfectly honest, a lot of the people that live round here have been here for years and they are fed up of the ‘open door’ policy in England.“You know, we’re only an island, we’ll sink shortly if it carries on. Let’s look after our own. That’s the top and bottom of it.”After DNS shared a selection of her posts and comments with national Mencap, a spokesman for the charity said: “We have been made aware that Patricia Chadwick has made unacceptable comments in a personal capacity that go directly against the Royal Mencap Society’s values.“We understand that Miss Chadwick may have a role at a local Mencap group called Bolton Mencap.“This group is a separate charity and legal entity to the Royal Mencap Society, working independently of the national organisation.“Whilst the Royal Mencap Society does not exercise control over Bolton Mencap or the personal opinions of its employees, we would hope Bolton Mencap can disassociate itself from such remarks.“We have contacted Miss Chadwick to express our concerns of the harm that her personal remarks could be making to both Bolton Mencap and the Royal Mencap Society and to ensure that this activity does not impact negatively on the work and reputation of either organisation.”He said Mencap could not take any further action until it has spoken to Chadwick and Bolton Mencap, which it has not yet been able to do.last_img read more

SF law enforcement seriously mishandling rape cases

first_img 0% The San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office are seriously lacking in how they handle rape cases, and it’s unclear how or how quickly they will make improvements – if at all. That was made clear at a Wednesday Board of Supervisors hearing called by District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who said she had received a multitude of anecdotes about how the system had failed survivors of rape and sexual assault. She was especially critical of the SFPD.“I have heard enough stories that it is clear to me that these are not just a pattern of violence,” she said to a packed hearing room at City Hall. “There is a pattern of treatment that I consider abusive towards rape victims.”Some of those women spoke at the hearing. All of them described traumatic experiences in which they were raped with drugs or physical force, and met with only neglect or skepticism from police investigators.   Rachel Sutton testified that she was 20 years old in February 2014 when one of her professional mentors raped her when she was half-conscious. “I tried to get help but in the process what I experienced was four and a half years and counting today of negligence and incompetence numerous times in every agency I encountered in the process,” she said. Tiffany Tonel said she was drugged and raped by a coworker in September 2017, and later learned that the same person had done the same to two of her coworkers. While she was reporting the crime to police, she said, an investigator told her that “everyone involved needs to accept responsibility for their actions.” Others who spoke described similar experiences with the SFPD. “The police treated me as though I made all this up,” said one woman who said she had been drugged and raped, and later asked police unsuccessfully to interview witnesses and collect video evidence of her drugging. Listening the whole time was Greg McEachern, commander of the SFPD’s investigations unit. He recognized that the police can do better when interacting with victims as they give their reports.“What we’re hearing today is sometimes something is said to a survivor … is less-than-acceptable,” he said.  Ronen wanted more. “After hearing these stories, what’s going to happen next?” Ronen asked McEachern after she blasted the SFPD for its part in the women’s’ stories. “What’s going to happen when you leave this room and talk to the chief of police today?” McEachern did not answer the question. Instead, he explained that the SFPD has improved in recent years and is working with advocacy groups and gives mandatory training to officers. He said that the number of investigators in the Special Victims Unit has increased to 45, from 35 last year. “We tell our officers to look at survivors in two ways,” he said. “If that was a family member of yours, how would you expect that department to investigate that crime … how would you expect your loved one to be treated?” Still, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy wondered why the SFPD was not making arrests. “What I am hearing is that women are reporting sexual assault and they know who did it, and it doesn’t sound like an arrest is taking place,” he said.  McEachern said there is not always enough evidence for the District Attorney’s Office to establish probable cause and make an arrest.But Ronen cited the example of the women who unsuccessfully requested that investigators obtain video evidence at a bar in which she was drugged. She also mentioned Tonel’s testimony that investigators refused to interview two other women who Tonel believed had been rape in a similar way by the same person. “You are having women come forward and suggest how you can collect enough evidence to have probable cause to make an arrest … they are being refused, and that evidence isn’t collected,” she said. “How is the DA able to charge a case when the evidence is not collected in the first place?”Cristine Soto DeBerry, the District Attorney’s chief of staff, said that her office could do better at collecting evidence through a supplemental report, “so we can assure that we are getting the maximum amount of evidence available,” she said.But both Ronen and Sheehy pressed DeBerry on why her office is not bringing enough cases. They both suggested that prosecutors only charge cases they’re confident they can win. “I know these are difficult cases to bring forward, but we have got to do the best that we can otherwise this feeling of impunity will continue out there,” Ronen said. DeBerry said, in 2016 the office successfully prosecuted 75 percent of their sexual assault cases. In 2017 they won 70 percent, and this year, so far, the DA prosecuted 100 percent.“That tells me you are not bringing enough cases – you are only bringing ones that you can win on,” Sheehy said. “If you don’t try cases you can’t bring people to justice.”At the very least, victims would see that someone was arrested. “Yes, you may lose, but someone was arrested,” Sheehy said.  center_img Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

SAINTS had their Championship hopes dashed in the

first_imgSAINTS had their Championship hopes dashed in the final stages after a pulsating clash with Leeds.Leading 13-8 and looking set for their second Grand Final appearance in a row, Rhinos’ captain Kevin Sinfield kicked a 40:20 from nowhere to allow Ryan Hall the territory to score.It was a cruel blow for the champions who had the best of the game throughout.They raced to an 8-0 lead after 17 minutes and to be fair such was their dominance they should have been further ahead by the time Leeds levelled it up.James Roby scored the sort of try that made his omission from the Man of Steel shortlist baffling whilst Luke Walsh added a penalty.But Zak Hardaker pulled one back before Kevin Sinfield’s metronome boot did the rest to make it 8-8.Then, on the stroke of half time Walsh added a one-pointer to give Saints a slender advantage at the break.The second was just as tight until Mark Percival went over in the corner… but sadly Sinfield had the final say.Saints welcomed back Alex Walmsley from a two week absence; and he went straight onto the bench in place of Greg Richards.Atelea Vea was also in the 13 for the first time since he returned from injury.Starting well is crucial against Leeds and Saints didn’t give themselves the best chance of that when Jordan Turner knocked on from the kick off.The Rhinos threatened but Adam Swift took a high ball on the last.Mark Flanagan almost engineered a opening a few moments later but on Saints’ next attack they scored.And it was down to the individual brilliance of James Roby. The hooker powered through the defence, handed off a couple of would-be tacklers and then stepped Zak Hardaker like he wasn’t there.Walsh kicked the conversion and on his side’s next set led an excellent drive that had Leeds camped on their line.But Joel Moon scooted 70 yards up the field before Tom Briscoe looked to have crashed over in the corner – only for Swift to make a wonder tackle to deny him and knock the ball loose.Makinson then flew down the right hand side but saw his pass inside to Percival intercepted.Walsh extended the lead with a penalty on 17 minutes as Leeds were caught out for offside – and that came after a great run from Kyle Amor to set up the chance.Swifty went close once more but once Saints were penalised for a high tackle on 21 minutes, the Rhinos pressed home their advantage and Hardaker took a great Burrow offload.Leeds were on the up and it was no surprise when they converted their dominance into points – albeit only two courtesy of Sinfield’s boot after Saints were caught offside.Good D and good fullback play got the visitors out of trouble a couple of times before they had a crack at Leeds line – but the ball went to ground.But one minute before half time they got the ball back and Luke Walsh slotted home a cool one pointer.Saints began the first half with Tommy Makinson on the pitch – although he looked to have sustained an ankle injury at the back end of the first half.They then forced a drop out – and put pressure on the Rhinos’ line – before Hall went 60 metres only to be hauled down by Quinlan.The video referee correctly chalked off a Carl Ablett try on 49 minutes and then Quinlan stood tall and big once again on a high ball.Kyle Amor continued his fine form with a cracking run with 25 minutes to go – and then Roby’s kick won them a drop out.Then came the screw-turner!Saints had been gaining more territory and possession but failing to convert it into points.But on Ryan Hall’s carry, Joe Greenwood forced the ball out one on one, Wilkin collected and then found Turner to give Percival the simplest of tries.Saints once again had chances but a Sinfield 40:20 and a penalty handed them great field position.And they made no mistake, Ryan Hall showing great strength to score under pressure – although the grounding was a little dubious.Sinfield adding the vital two points.Saints had one last set to get out of their own 20 with around 30 seconds to go but the ball went to ground, Watkins scooped it up and sealed the deal.Match Summary:Rhinos:Tries: Hardaker, Hall, WatkinsGoals: Sinfield (4 from 4)Saints:Tries: Roby, PercivalGoals: Walsh (2 from 3)Drop: WalshPenalties:Rhinos: 4Saints: 4HT: 8-9FT: 20-13REF: Robert HicksATT: 17192Teams:Rhinos:1. Zak Hardaker; 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Joel Moon, 5. Ryan Hall; 13. Kevin Sinfield, 6. Danny McGuire; 30. Mitch Garbutt, 7. Rob Burrow, 8. Kylie Leuluai, 12. Carl Ablett, 15. Brett Delaney, 17. Adam Cuthbertson.Subs: 10. Jamie Peacock, 19. Brad Singleton, 20. Jimmy Keinhorst, 29. Jordan Lilley.Saints: 37. Adam Quinlan; 2. Tommy Makinson, 17. Mark Percival, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift; 3. Jordan Turner, 7. Luke Walsh; 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 15. Mark Flanagan.Subs: 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Alex Walmsley, 21. Joe Greenwood, 25. Andre Savelio.last_img read more