Disabled people ‘should be put down’ because they ‘cost the council too much money’

A Cornish councillor has claimed that disabled people should be ‘put down’ because they ‘cost the council too much money’. The story is reported on This is Cornwall, though appears to stem from an incident in October 2011. The Guardian reports that Disability Cornwall and Scope have responded to the comments. 


Cllr Brewer has apologised but refuses to resign. As an Independent, he has no party from which to be expelled nor any party leader summarily calling for his dismissal. However, the chairman of Disability Cornwall, Steve Paget MBE, is demanding Cllr Brewer’s resignation claiming “he is supposed to be an elected member representing public views and acting on behalf of the public. How anyone can come out with that is just shocking”. A spokesman for Scope stated “to hear such an ill-judged and insensitive statement from a councillor is deeply disturbing and demonstrates that they are clearly not fit for office”.

However, as in my previous comments here, one is hard pressed to argue that Cllr Brewer is articulating anything other than a consistent view. As Cranmer points out:

His [Cllr Brewer] view is precisely that which our progressive society manifests toward the disabled in the womb – right up to full-term. There is no 24-week limit when it comes to ‘getting rid’ of those who can’t walk, talk, see, hear or catch a ball… you’ll even find doctors who will neatly dispose of a baby with a hare lip, for that’s an undoubted disability. The glorious achievements of our Paralympians have done nothing to change this.

Disability is a profound burden on parents (emotionally) and on society (‘cost too much’), so our ‘representatives and elected members’ have indeed determined that they may be ‘put down’. This has nothing to do with women’s rights over their bodies, or with the question of when ‘independent’ life actually begins. It is a simple fact that society allows disability as a reason for abortion way beyond the 24-week period for the able-bodied, and that implies that disabled people, or the lives of disabled people, are less worthwhile than the lives of ‘normal’ people.

One must conclude that it is the position of Scope and Disability Cornwall that is inconsistent here. For, no calls have been made to have this statute ‘confined to the history books’ nor does it lead them to call this provision ‘deeply disturbing’ and denounce all those who uphold it as ‘clearly not fit for office’.

Is it sheer inconsistency or merely that those who advocate this statute don’t state it quite as crassly as Cllr Brewer?

* Collin Brewer has since resigned 

8 comments

  1. This 'consistent' view you 'quote' is repeatedly challenged…and rightly so. What kind of society do we become if people (such as you) sit in judgement in regard to 'who should live'? It is a slippery slope, one that all citizens in the UK, perhaps should consider. The boundaries are undefined, the debate should continue…but judgement statements such as those made at that time, in that context, by anyone who sits in a position of power must and, will be challenged by us locally. To do anything else would be a failure on our part to effectively represent our members.
    On a separate issue, we have watched as many have written their own views and commented on the events that transpired…including your own. Many, are ill-informed, inaccurate and quite frankly ignorant. Had many of the authors bothered to get in touch, we could have furnished them with the facts…unfortunately, yourself and others don't appear to be too bothered about that, but instead let your pen sit in judgement.

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  2. My position is that cllr Brewer's comments, though morally reprehensible, do fit within a consistent pattern of thought (namely life may be terminated at will.) Government and charities of many different hues maintain an inconsistent position; denouncing cllr Brewer whilst maintaining a readiness for abortion.

    If you can provide clear statements that show the charities and individuals in question are manifestly pro-life and believe the rights of all to life (both born and in utero) are all equally of value, I would be glad to post a correction piece

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  3. Whilst they may 'fit', he held public office and, was found to have brought the Councils name into disrepute. I question your position that we (as a charitymaintain an inconsistent position, please supply evidence to support that position. You are assuming positions which are ambiguous at best and, show little understanding of our work. Disability Cornwall did not at any point make any inflammatory statements in regard to the right to life. We merely responded to remarks made to us which upset our members present on the day. As said previously, had you bothered to get your facts straight, you may have written something completely different. You, didn't bother to do that. Therefore, I have no position to defend other than to protect the very good name of a charity that seeks to assist it's members.

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  4. I quite agree Cllr Brewer was right to be called on such comments. They were, as I have already said, morally repugnant.

    Yet, as I commented, they are consistent with a view (held by government and councils) that says the rights of the unborn to life – especially the rights of the unborn known to have disabilities in the womb – are not deemed equal to those of other unborn children under abortion law. If it be OK to terminate the unborn for disability, it follows consistently (though equally disgracefully) that the born disabled be treated the same way. NB: this is not my own view – I find such a position amoral and unpleasant to say the least – but it is consistent.

    A consistent position would be to find Cllr Brewer's comments repulsive, to support the right of disabled people to life (which the charity clearly do) and to support the right of all unborn to life (whether disabled or otherwise). That is certainly my position.

    If Disability Cornwall hold the same line, they would presumably campaign for the rights of all unborn children to life. I have not been able to find any such statements but, as I say, would be happy to write something highlighting such things and the consistency of the organisation if they are made available

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  5. Yet again, I find your logic somewhat laughable. Do you really expect our organisation to have a 'pro-life' policy? We do have an Equal Opportunities policy that addresses our position on how we operate as an organisation in order to benefit our members. As I have said previously, you have published something publically and made certain implicative statements that a reader may think reflect on our organisation as a 'charity' and, the Council in question. To do so is, in my view, unfair. As I said, had you contacted our organisation to check your facts, you may not have written an article making generalist and wrongful assumptions about a charity you appear to know little about. Why do you think we challenged Councillor Brewer?

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  6. I don't think it unreasonable to expect a charity supporting the rights of disabled people to have a policy on the issue presented – the statutory limit on abortion compared with the limit on supposed disabled unborn children.

    So, I wouldn't necessarily expect an overarching “pro-life” policy per se, I appreciate that may reasonably be outside your remit. But one regarding the specific issue presented would seem a reasonable extension of what you do (unless, of course, you do differentiate between the born and unborn disabled). If such is not the case, I would expect to see campaign material and policies on the issue of the disabled unborn (which, I must confess I could not find).

    As I have repeatedly said, if you furnish me with such statements and policies I'd be glad to write a piece highlighting this and retracting my comments.

    Nevertheless, I'm sure between this post, our respective comments and the charity website (and materials) my, fairly small, readership can determine for themselves the validity of our respective positions. Once again, if you provide statements to the contrary, I'd be glad to draw attention to them in a new post.

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  7. There are so many issues that affect disabled people, it would be a full time job on its own writing statements on subjects that affect our members and, which covers our areas of benefit. I repeat that you have written an article which CLEARLY demonstrates your ignorance of the facts on this event and, more generally the wider issues that disabled people face in society today. There are many debates currently going on around the right to life and, the right to die but, there are many others also going on which may affect our members in some way. As the public purse gets squeezed even more over future years and, as we have seen many of our members independence threatened with the implementation of austerity measures, it is a worrying time for many.

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  8. I appreciate all of that and am thoroughly sympathetic to it. Though i fail to see what “clearly” demonstrates my “ignorance” of the issues.

    Regardless, i didn't call into question any of the good work your charity may do. I'm delighted such are prepared to stand up for your members in the way you do (and never implied otherwise).

    I have only highlighted a pertinent issue that appears inconsistent. It is a position that pertains in wider society: namely the (absolutely right) equal treatment of disabled people compared to the (disgraceful) inequality when it comes to the treatment of disabled foetuses compared to non-disabled foetuses. If this does not imply disabled people are of less value than non-disabled i don't know what does! Presumably, if charities and groups dont share this view, they would seek to redress this in law as the view of their inherent worth by society thos way is surely an issue that would affect one's members.

    I simply highlight this inconsistency which, foul though his comments were, cllr brewer did not fall to. He stated far worse, but consistent, views.

    I fear we are now getting into the realms of vain repitition and it is best for my meagre readership to assess the situation based on our respective comments. I'd be glad (as i repeatedly offered) to publish statements or campaign information that shows the contrary. I can only presume, if such doesnt exist, this is not considered a big issue (and thus the post rather stands). I can only say i could find none.

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