I must have meant business since I had my combat jacket on and my flute with me.
The purpose of this meeting was:
This meeting is with Minister of State for Health, Rosie Winterton MP, to discuss autism and the mental health system. HL’s carers from the Bournewood case will also be speaking.
The group will discuss the Mental Health Bill and how it will affect people with autism – in particular the definition of mental disorder and the Bournewood provisions – and the importance of adequate mental health services for people with autism.
Well it might have started out as a tight, tidy, Marquess of Queensberry, Monty Python Parliamentary-polite meeting, but I saw to it that "them's not my rules". Well maybe to avoid the opprobrium of the "men in tights" I removed my hat to walk through the corridors but once I got there, I sat down square in front of the proceedings and set it back on my head for the duration and made sure that I was heard. I made it plain that a stroke of legislation cannot define a category of people as "mentally ill" and that it was a civil rights issue. I made it clear to the minister when she was speaking nonsense, forcing her to respond to that.
Worryingly there was a representative from Autism Squeeks there. Now Autism Squeeks may be on the same side when it comes to not defining ASD as a mental illness and therefore subject to all the intended provisions of possible compulsory detention and treatment, but I made it plain as soon as she said who she was representing, that Autism Speaks does NOT speak for us.
I think the minister got the idea that there was dissension on this issue. Above all, I said to the minister. "Above all, if you go away from here remembering only one thing, remember the word Neurodiversity and look it up"
It is probably the case that I will be around campaigning well after she is out of office, these people don't last long, and it was clear to me that she knew very little about autism.
My main point was about stigma, by categorising us all by legal fiat, I said that she could well be categorising parliamentary colleagues like Gordon Brown, (who has been accused cynically of behaving autistically)
Among the other things I said (you can't keep a good heckler down) was that when it comes to bad behaviour MP's need some constraint never mind those who this law would further deprive of human rights.
You can do these things by the book, and engage in polite question and answer, or you can assume that you will not be given opportunity to make a point so make it the best way you can.I did it my way.
I think we have lost this bill, in the short term, but because this is something that goes way beyond autistic rights, the Government will have lost this argument in the long term, particularly with the impact of United Nations charters and European Human rights.
And if the dangerous dogs act, a similar piece of Knee jerk legislation never had the effect of making anyone any safer from people keeping dangerous dogs, this particular dog has not lost his bark yet.
And as I left the building I said to the geezer on guard with his machine gun to mind where he was pointing that thing :)
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