Southfields resident Ben Fletcher will stand for the Green Party
The Green Party has announced that their candidate for the Putney, Roehampton and Southfields seat in the forthcoming General Election is the first Deafblind person ever to stand for Parliament in the UK.
They are highlighting Ben Fletcher's condition during Deaf Awareness Week 2017.
36-year-old Mr Fletcher says he decided to stand for Parliament despite the closure of the Access to Elected Office Fund by the Conservative government after the last General Election in May 2015. The fund, which provided financial support to disabled candidates standing for political office, has never been reopened, despite a recommendation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in September 2015.
He lives in Southfields with his partner Lauren, was born profoundly Deaf and partially sighted and his first language is British Sign Language (BSL).
He said, “Disabled people are desperately under-represented in public life in Britain. At a time of deep disillusionment with politics in the UK, it is really important for the MPs elected in 2017 to reflect the diversity of the people they are meant to represent. There are over 11 million disabled people in Britain. That’s one in six. And yet many of us are still prevented from participating fully in education, in employment, and in politics because of inflexible, outdated attitudes, needless barriers to access and a general lack of understanding about what disabled people can really achieve if they receive the support they require".
Mr Fletcher works as Lead Developer for FT.com at the Financial Times. He says he is a campaigner for equality, human and animal rights, protection of the environment and a fairer and more democratic electoral system.
In 1987, his mother wrote a book, “Language for Ben”, about his childhood experiences as a Deaf child in mainstream education. In the book, which was later made into a film, she described her battle with the local education authorities to provide her son with a teaching assistant who could communicate with him using BSL. 30 years later, Mr Fletcher says deaf children in the UK are still routinely denied the right to access education in their first language.
He will be up against Education Secretary Justine Greening who holds the Putney, Roehampton and Southfields seat for the Conservatives, with a large majority.
|General Election 2015: Battersea|
|Liberal Democrat||Luke Taylor||2,241||4.4||-10.3|
|General Election 2015: Putney|
|Liberal Democrat||Andrew Hallett||2,717||6.3||−10.6|
|Animal Welfare||Guy Dessoy||184||0.4||N/A|
|By-election 2016: Tooting|
|Liberal Democrat||Alex Glassbrook||820||2.6||−1.3|
|Christian Peoples||Des Coke||164||0.5||+0.5|
|Monster Raving Loony||Alan "Howling Laud" Hope||54||0.2||+0.2|
|One Love||Ankit Love||32||0.1||+0.1|
|Immigrants Political Party||Akbar Ali Malik||44||0.1||+0.1|
|English Democrat||Graham Moore||50||0.2||+0.2|
|Give Me Back Elmo||Bobby Smith||9||0.0||+0.0|
The Liberal Democrats have also announced a full slate of candidates for constituencies which means that the hopes of those proposing a 'progressive alliance' in the area with anti-Brexit parties cooperating to maximise the chances of a single candidate have been dashed.
At the time of writing candidates from other parties including Labour in Putney and Battersea have yet to be announced.
May 18, 2017