Just three months after Colin Brewer was forced to stand down, amid the outrage caused by his claim that disabled children should be “put down”, the councillor for Cornwall has regained seat by just four votes. Though democracy dictates that the result should stand, there are many disabled charities and members of the disabled community at large, who feel aggrieved that Mr Brewer, once again, holds a position of power and influence at local government level.
Councillor Colin Brewer gave up his seat in February after it was discovered that, in 2011, he told a disabled charity worker that disabled children cost the council too much money and should be “put down”. The media frenzy which followed, not-to-mention protests from numerous areas of the disabled community, eventually resulted in his resignation.
However, feeling that this was an opportunity for the people of Wadebridge East to pass judgement on his actions, Mr. Brewer stood once again and was voted in by just four votes. This is not to say that his victory received unanimous support. Disability awareness and disability rights groups were up in arms by the result. In particular, disability charity, ‘Disability Cornwall’ stated that it was “shocked beyond words” whilst Mencap said the win was “horrifying”.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that we operate in a democracy. Therefore the decision by the majority of voters to reinstate Colin Brewer must be respected. It has also been argued that Mr Brewer (save for his awful disability slur) has an impressive track record, which should be taken into consideration.
One could state that no politician should ever be able to stand again after having made such a wild statement. Would a front bench politician at Westminster be able to revive their career after making such a horrendous claim? One would think not. Whatever one’s opinion on the subject, the fact of the matter is that Colin Brewer has legitimately won his seat and so the result must stand.
For my own part, rather than protest against the appointment, I would prefer to see disability groups taking the opportunity to reach out to Mr Brewer.
Although, his outburst in 2011 was nothing less than atrocious, one cannot dismiss the fact that if the disabled community is prepared to engage with Mr Brewer, this might just be a way of turning the situation around and making some progress here. No doubt the councillor will be out to prove his commitment to disabled people. Therefore, if such charities as ‘Disability Cornwall’ can find it in their hearts to adopt a more conciliatory approach, they could actually achieve some good from this turn of events.
In doing so, they may draw real attention to the need for disability awareness and ensure that Colin Brewer’s baffling blunder is never repeated.