Creu Prydain Decach
21 April 2010
With the sudden death of David Morris on Sunday 18 April 2010 we have lost a hero of the movement for equality and human rights. As disabled people of course we shy away from the language of ‘heroes’, conjuring as it does the image of the ‘brave cripple’ achieving triumph over adversity – and David would have had no truck with that. But we need to reclaim ‘heroism’ to describe Dave’s incredible contributions to independent living, human rights and the disability movement. David helped shape the independent living movement in the 1980s and planned accessibility and inclusion for ‘the largest gathering of disabled people in one city, on the planet, in history’ as he put it when talking of London 2012.
When he spoke at an All Party Parliamentary Disability Group about how he could not move from one London Borough to another for fear of losing his essential social care package, noting wryly that his human rights were being sacrificed on the altar of local discretion, he voiced an absurdity in such a way as to be unanswerable. If the Mayor’s senior disability advisor (as he then was) could not move house without fear, then it was surely only a matter of time before Government agreed there should be ‘portability of social care’ – a policy move which did come and for which Dave personally deserves much credit.
He spoke out quietly and powerfully on the equal value of disabled and non-disabled people’s lives and the risk that legalising assisted suicide would re-enforce unequal value. He challenged disabled people too, to be more serious in addressing accessibility for people with neuro-diverse and mental health conditions. He had the courage to press for change, the thoughtfulness to do so effectively, the humour to engage people positively. David was astute, reflective, humane – and also hugely supportive to many friends and colleagues who will miss his intelligence and his spark.
We are the poorer for his passing – but so much the richer for his contributions to equality and human rights in this country.
Commission's Disability Committee