Little change in 20 years in opportunities for disabled

No one should really have been surprised by the crass comments of a Tory minister last week after he was caught making derogatory observations about the disabled.

For me what was less surprising was the total hypocrisy of pundits, including members of the public who themselves have little regard for the position and plight of disabled people. After all, this is the country that sat back and allowed the then Prime Minister John Major to close down 192 training workshops in 1993.

Worse still local authorities throughout the UK, including Grampian Region, colluded with the government of the day to condemn disabled youngsters to long-term unemployment, and the degradation that came with having no outlet for their skills and desire to work.

I would suggest nothing has changed in the intervening 20 years, as genuinely motivated young people are still denied opportunities in the workplace.

The Grampian model would in fact be repeated by our current councils, indeed some of the same accountants employed then are likely to be still around to advise elected members that it would be uneconomic to provide such training and work placements.

So while Lord Freud is rightly vilified, he is not the only one who should be hanging his head in shame.

In particular, the sanctimonious Labour Party has no great record of providing placements for less able members of society and are just culpable, as indeed are the new left of Scottish politics.

The SNP may have borrowed the clothes once donned by the so-called caring Labour left, but have made no major inroads into solving a problem which has been hopelessly neglected over the past 20-plus years.

If its new darling Nicola Sturgeon can bring this issue from under the carpet, she will go a long way to convincing the Scottish public that she really is the person to lead us into a better and fairer way of life.

My fear is that when she attempts to say follow me, she will like many before get the plaintive cry of Scots, asking if they can get chips. We are not a nation easily led, but for what it is worth, I wish her well.

Finally, I am delighted to hear that members of the Ellon public are to be given the opportunity to unlock the secrets of the Ellon Castle Gardens.

Opening them up to the public is of course long overdue, making me wonder if their magic would ever be released to all and sundry, as opposed to a privileged few, including the steering group which has been keeping its cards pretty close to its collective chest for far too long.

But as is the way of Ellon community groups it seems to be a question of we’ll involve when and only when we are ready.

I only hope the long suffering public are still up for all this participation. After all, it has been a long time coming. Hopefully the same Ellon public are still interested.