GIVEN this newspaper’s criticisms of Jared O’Mara over the Sheffield Hallam MP’s use of homophobic and sexist language, and his attendance record at Parliament, it is right to acknowledge his contribution to this week’s debate on autism.
In just his second debate since his election in June 2017 in succession to Sir Nick Clegg, his day-to-day struggles as a sufferer of this condition did help to shape, and inform, an important discussion about the need for greater understanding about autism.
Revealing that “one fifth of the UK population are in the disability community, and a quarter of people will have mental health disabilities at some point during their lives”, he added: “It is time that we were listened to and what we want acted on.”
This was a timely intervention. Not only is Britain accused of breaching the UN human rights over the high number of autistic children excluded from school, but campaigners lobbying Parliament yesterday say more than 2,000 children with special needs and disabilities in England are waiting for educational provision. Hopefully Mr O’Mara – and others – will speak up vociferously on their behalf.
And, at the same time, MPs will note Mr O’Mara’s comments about his treatment and how he feels unable, by way of example, attend Prime Minister’s Questions because of all the noise and shouting. For, while Parliament is slowly becoming more emblematic of the country at large, it clearly needs to do more to accommodate the disabled, an important section of society under-represented on the green benches of the House of Commons.