Saturday, February 5, 2011

More Bullying In The Playground Of Parliament

It will be interesting to see how the media, especially the broadcast media, handle today's revelations that Tory MP, Paul Maynard, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was mocked by some Labour MPs whilst he spoke in the House of Commons. Rest assured, had it been Tories mocking a disabled Labour MP it would be the top news story for over a week.

The best we can hope for is that the Labour MPs in question were ignorant of Mr Maynard's condition; that their actions were pathetic child like attempts to put a newbie MP off his stride during the debate. Although, given the under representation of disabled people in Parliament and the close environment that exists there, it would seem unlikely.

The anonymous Labour MP who confirmed the behaviour took place said there were other Labour tutting and shaking their heads at their colleagues behaviour, which is encouraging but disappointing. Surely these self proclaimed warriors for equality could have stood up to their colleagues and stopped them? Perhaps a point of order could have drawn the Speaker's attention? But they didn't. The culture of the place is such that no one, on either side of the house, challenged it. It brings the whole place into disrepute.

But Paul Maynard says he came through the ordeal stronger and prepared for anything his opponents could throw at him in the future. But he points to another type of prejudice by Labour MPs. The idea that, as a disabled man, Mr Maynard, should have joined their party. No doubt they can't get their small minds around the idea that any non-white, non-straight, female or under 50 year old person would join the Conservative party. Mr Maynard answers their incredulity well in his interview in The Times:

Others questioned why he was not in the Labour Party. They thought that a disabled man would pick the Left, proud of its heritage of standing up for disadvantaged groups. “They would see my label and think I should have certain characteristics. I would say, ‘The very reason you asked me that question is why I’m not in the Labour Party — I see everyone as an individual, not with the labels that we like to attach to people’.”