Autistic Conservative Charlie Keeble writes for the Havering Daily about his objective for the autistic community in Britain.
During the campaign for the Conservatives he called for more autistics to get actively involved in taking control of their own lives by engaging in Conservative Party politics.
Being an openly autistic person is very good and shows just how unique and positive a person with heightened intelligence can be. But what is even more remarkable about me is that I engage in frontline politics and talk to people upfront about my aspirations and fight for the self-determination of autistics.
I have been keen on political activism and autism advocacy for years, but I only started to proactively engage in frontline politics in 2015. Since becoming a member of the Conservative Party I have been using my own ideas and objective to get autistics to have the freedom to achieve their own aspirations. I have networked with other autistic bloggers and activists looking for ways in which the neurodiversity movement can become engaged with frontline politics.
One area that I focused on was the inclusion of autistics in employment. About 80% of autistics in Britain are unemployed and I know what the struggles are for disabled people to get into work because I was one of them. This is what led to me becoming a Conservative in the first place.
When I was growing up I had no disability management programme in my school or community. The people around me were very negative about disablement and frankly as far they were concerned they just assumed that I’d only have to rely on welfare handouts and social housing. I found it really patronising and insulting that someone could look at my life in that manner. The general consensus is that disabled people are ‘pitied, pathetic creatures that live in hopeless and vulnerable situations’.
I tried applying for hundreds of jobs and every time I only got as far as the interview and barely succeeded. The amount of opportunities for me was also quite narrow. I was very ambitious and wanting to achieve something that would bring good financial security to me so that I could have a lot of freedom and most importantly to invest in something with passion and purpose. But I failed to get where I wanted to because I kept getting undermined and ignored.
It wasn’t just ablest prejudice that was holding me back though, it was also because the job market was not built for me. Time and time again I got rejected but I never got a straight forward response from these employers. I think employers are asking things of candidates too often to connect with them on a personal level. That is not possible for autistic people because they have difficulty connecting with people or elaborating their stories.
Also the way jobs function means that autistics can’t fit in with their companies very well. I think employers need to try ingenious ways of interviewing them in different ways and modifying jobs to accommodate them.
I myself currently work in a role that is a good example and is very accommodating to autistics such as myself. I’m an intern for a trade agency called Africa House London and I am an assistant to the trade director. My interview was a very unconventional one too. Instead of the smart suit and office visit I had mine at a public place and dressed casually, which benefitted me greatly and helped me to secure the position better.
My job is home based and I use my laptop as my work station. My role is flexible and I am able to place myself in a comfortable workplace that suits me. I think my political associations have also helped me to gain employment because conservativism supports creative and inventive people that grants people freedom of opportunities for all classes of citizens.
During this election I campaigned with a buzzword by calling out ‘Autistic Conservatives Support Aspirational Aspies’. It was an objective that I had to show people that we have great value and usefulness to the country and as Conservatives. It wasn’t an awareness campaign, it was to call out for other autistics to come out and show off their integrity and take control of their destiny. What I wanted to see was autism acceptance and getting people to value them for what they are.
I have got a lot of ideas to circulate to the bosses and politicians about how to embrace neurodiversity in the workplace. In 2015 Forbes Magazine reported that the market for disabled employees is a high performing environment and a model for efficiency and productivity worth over $8 trillion. That is a really good value for a pool of talent that I belong to.
During the election I made the autistic conservative movement emerge with my own emblem, objective and ideas for Conservative Party actions. My emblem features a torch within an infinity symbol on a blue background on a round circle. It represents bright ideas with infinite imagination lighting up the world to prosperity and hope for all the people on Earth.
The Conservative Party made a pledge for around £74 million towards the support services for the autistic community. I was very pleased with that and I was glad to see that the National Autistic Society praised the Conservatives for it. However,they retracted their support on social media following a backlash from many people within the autism community.
Even though I am different from many autistics, politically I do get a lot of admiration from people for supporting autism civil rights and self-determination of autistics in Britain. If we are to earn those rights, then the autistic community must respect diversity of thought as well as neurodiversity. I have had a lot of harsh criticism from other autistics for supporting the Conservatives.
According to a poll of autistics their voting intentions were 80% for Labour and only 20% for Conservatives. The reason why autistics are predisposed to support socialist and liberal parties is because being that they are mostly unemployed and welfare dependent they need large social healthcare systems. So by supporting these parties they are ensuring big public spending on social welfare.
But I prefer freedom of choice rather than enslavement to welfare. So I use conservativism to fight for the reformation of the employment sector and acceptance of autism based on ability so that they can achieve their own aspirations and independence and live in an environment that they can build for themselves. That way they need minimum state welfare services. I feel really good about myself in this Conservative action work and I can bring happiness to my own life.
There aren’t that many openly autistic people in frontline politics, but I have taken the responsibility of working on the front line alongside my fellow activists. As well as running an online digital campaign for myself I handled the talking to people about what the Conservatives can do for them instead of just handing out leaflets.
I don’t take kindly to patronising and condescending morons that insist that I stay out of political activities. They are very misguided and ignorant of an autistic person’s integrity. These leftists do not recognise diversity, they only support conformity to serve their own agenda. I am a positive neurodivergent person wanting value and happiness on my own terms by subverting the negative perceptions of autism, not constantly moaning complaints wallowing in pity parties.
Follow Charlie Keeble’s blog at www.ackeeble.co.uk.