I’ve always had this sneaky suspicion that you have to be just a little bit arrogant to be a politician or a county councillor. It’s probably in their DNA.
That’s not as condemning as it sounds. We need people with belief in their own convictions because they are the ones to stick their neck out, sure in their own sense of being right. The ‘biggie’ is: can we trust them to be a servant of the people and not just on their own ego trip?
The hot local news today is Cornwall County Councillor Colin Brewer’s ‘ill-judged’, in his own words, remark to a Disability Cornwall member of staff, where he said disabled children “should be put down”. He believes his letter of apology was enough. Public outrage suggests it’s unforgivable.
The story has been going steadily national throughout the day. The general reaction says it’s stupid, scary, insensitive and upsetting in the extreme or …two Heil Hitlers short of a black moustache.
As a councillor and representative of other people’s voices, it doesn’t matter what the extenuating circumstances around it were. Being caught at a bad time on a bad day might have just been the tipping point for Councillor Brewer to drop his guard and reveal what contempt for the disabled he really thinks.
The thing is, I’m not quite normal. I have this wonky chromosome in my genetic makeup. You wouldn’t know that I have a bit missing to look at me or that I reveal myself as anything out of the ordinary. But the rogue in the DNA might be why I have a disabled child.
I inherited it from my father and passed it to my eldest son. Who knows, my other sons may have it too. And there’s a possibility that this curious blip is the reason he has a general global developmental delay and macrocephaly. But however his condition came about, it doesn’t stop the guilt that it’s all my fault. I made him, after all and he’s a bit of me.
I only know what it like to be the mother of this one particular disabled child and, truthfully, if I had one wish it would be to make him ordinary. If only to be able to grasp the same opportunities in life that ‘normal, able-bodied’ people have. At 16 he’s practically an adult with rights of his own. Therefore he should have a voice and a chance to speak out, except that forming words and the normal communication the rest of take for granted is manifestly impossible for him. I’ve no real idea what it is like to be him, since he can’t actually tell me, so I’ve had to learn how he feels by being as empathetic as it’s possible to be.
And that’s it in a nutshell: the gift that having a disabled child in the family brings us. Empathy, kindness, sympathy, patience and humility. The most important human qualities. My other ‘normal’ children have these qualities too and I know they will go out into the world being better people because of it.
As a footnote: I’m pretty sure, in the wonderful variety of the human species, there are wonks and wiggles and missing bits quite possibly in the genetic make up of just about everyone out there. Consider all the colourful character variations there are in the human species and multiple them ten fold. That’ll be your ‘disabled’ spectrum. Special, extraordinary people, we need them.
- Disability row councillor to consider his position (itv.com)
- I’m not resigning – Councillor who said disabled children should be put down (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Councillor who said disabled children ‘should be put down’ refuses to resign (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘Put disabled down’ councillor sorry (bbc.co.uk)
- ‘Kill disabled children to save money’ councillor facing calls to resign (metro.co.uk)
- Councillor: disabled children should be ‘put down’ (itv.com)
- Disability service calls for Councillor to resign (itv.com)
- Councillor apologises for saying disabled children should be put down (guardian.co.uk)