UK Politics

Why the UK needs to change its emotional support animal legislation

‘Emotional support animals – the Uk’s outdated discriminatory legislation’

The UK is plagued with inequalities, one important area overlooked by our current legislation is that of Emotional Support Animals (ESA). Before we get into this, let’s answer the question, what’s the different between a support animal and a service animal?

Support animals Vs. service animals

In the UK there is a legislative disparity between ‘support’ and ‘service’ animals, but why?

The most well-known service animal is likely, the ‘guide dog’. These animals provide invaluable support for people with visual impairments in the form of a 24/7, non-judgemental, four-legged companion that allows them to reclaim their independence.

Because of the training guide dogs undergo for their role they are viewed under the category of ‘service animals’, and are permitted to enter shops, restaurants, rented accommodation etc. Yet animals, including guide dogs, also offer tangible psychological benefits.

The Psychological benefits guide dogs can elicit can be explained in terms of the confidence and freedom that they provide to their owners. Yet, there is also an inherent ability to for animals to soothe and comfort individuals in distress, making them the ideal companions for those struggling with mental or emotional difficulties.

These animals come under many names but are generally known as Emotional Support Animals (ESA). Countless research investigations have shown the positive effect of ESAs in depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Yet, if you were to request permission to take an emotional support animal into your workplace or even your own rented accommodation you would almost certainly be refused entry.

Requesting an ESA at my university accommodation started off well with my landlord claiming they were ‘invested in the well-being of all tenants’ and recognised the tangible support ESAs offer. Yet within the same email my request was denied because legally they had no obligation to permit an ESA. Naturally, I questioned this decision. If they were so concerned with our well-being, why wait until they are legally obligated to allow an ESA when they could decide to allow them…

To this I was merely told ‘our position has not changed’.

This made me wonder, why is there such a distinction between animals that ultimately provide an improvement in people’s well-being? The answer, the UKs dodgy legislation…


In the USA ESAs are recognised on similar, if not the same, level as service animals. Yet in the UK companies, landlords, and workplaces are more than free to turn disabled people with ESAs away if they wish to. The reason for this is…confusing.

The distinction between service animal and support animal is generally made on the basis of training. A guide dog is trained to provide support for people with visual impairments whereas emotional support animals – largely – undergo very little training.

The issue with this distinction is that it discriminates on the basis of needs. A guide dog acts as the eyes of an individual, which requires a great deal of training. The need of a person with emotional or mental health related difficulties arguably come much more naturally to these animals. A dog elicits a positive feeling in most people just by their very nature, they are of course known as ‘man/woman’s best friend’.

Yet because they are not trained for their role they are seen more as pets than as service animals in the UK. I take issue with this as the contribution of an ESA is not measurable in terms of training received and not comparable to those offered by a guide dog. These are distinctly different animal roles for distinctly different problems. The UKs inaction on this matter highlights its laissez-faire attitude to supporting those with mental illness and hidden disabilities.

Hidden disabilities

This oversight by UK legislation is a shining example of how hidden disabilities are not taken anywhere near as seriously as they should be. Change is long overdue yet when the issue is brought up it becomes a discussion of ‘whose disability is worse’.

Both experiences of people with physical and mental disabilities are deserving of respect and worthy of support. To compare them serves no purpose other than to juxtaposition one as lesser than the other. To denounce treatment options for one group because its method does not require training or tangible or physical benefits just as guide dogs do is absurd.

In the UK, if a person has a mental health condition for over a year it is classified as a disability. For anxiety you can be provided a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). Yet, when it comes to support animals our legislation has absolutely no concern with the well-being missed out on by our out-of-date laws. Yet, it appears we are stuck in endless debate with the ill-informed, unwashed masses.

The ‘devil’s advocate’ people – what disability looks like

Many things we take for granted were once outlawed by outdated legislation. We look back and say ‘well that’s just how it was’. Yet when new changes are proposed they are almost always met with derision and criticism, regurgitating the line that if something is written into law then it must be morally and ethically correct.

With any proposed amendment of change to legislation there are always people happily playing devil’s advocate. The apparent need compare two different things on an axis that makes one appear absurd is tactic often used by traditionalists, ‘if we allow this, what will be next?’.

These people argue that ESAs are more like pets than service animals, and that the legal recognition for service animals should remain only for animals that support ‘truly’ disabled people. These are the same people that harass blue badge users for not ‘looking disabled enough’. These people feign concern for ‘truly’ disabled people to excuse their ill-informed policing of disabled people’s rights.

Despite only 8% of disabled people in the UK requiring a wheelchair, in the eyes of the devil’s advocate people, if you’re not in a wheelchair you’re not disabled. Through their outdated view of what disability looks like they see support options for non-wheelchair using disabled people not as levelling the playing field but as an unfair advantage. Such people have always been around, this does not mean we need to listen.

Closing thoughts

It’s time to listen to people who would benefit from this change in policy and work out a way for ESAs to be given the same rights as service animals and help defeat this mental health epidemic we face in the UK.

Have your say here: Make ESAs Legal UK.

UK Politics

7 takeaways from UK Racial Inequality Report

For the purpose of clarity I will state right off the bat this article is an overview and response to Prof Johnathon Portes own response to the UKs Racial Inequality report better known as, the Sewell Commission.

The article by Portes was featured in The Byline Times and can be found here using the link below.

From here on is my humble summary of Portes’ article, providing you with the key issues he raises. Though, I strongly recommend reading the article for yourself as he is the true expert here.

1. The author..

Portes once worked as chief economist at the department of Work & Pensions. He currently holds a place as Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the School of Politics and Economics at King’s College London. So he knows a thing or two about policy, academia and putting together a research project.

2. Racial inequalities in the UK

Portes’ position is clear, the UK does have a considerable issue with institutionalised racism. Research he carried out as chief econimist at the dpmt for W&P showed a considerable racial bias against non-white appearing applicants to jobs. Just one of the many ways that the UK IS institutionally racist.

What’s more, nearly all research evidence since Portes’ investigation has found significantly poorer outcomes for racial/ethnic minority individuals.

From this body of evidence, the writing is on the wall when it comes to the UK’s racism.

3. Placating to the ill-informed masses

As Portes outlines the response to the report were…mixed. Right-wing mouthpiece Matthew Goodwin was outlined by Portes as ‘being left high and dry’ by writer of the report Samir Shah when he announced Britain’s institutions were racism free.

This comes as no surprise as the right have long awaited a report such as this to confirm what they always wanted to hear. What’s shocking, or at least amusing, is to see the very writers of the report quashing the assumptions that the bias and twisted report leads its readers to believe.

4. You can’t see much with your head buried in the sand

Portes calls out a number of dodgy and underhanded research techniques used by the report in its efforts to skew and twist the undesired truth.

Methodologically, the report breaks down poorer outcomes for racial/ethnic minority groups into ‘explained’ and ‘unexplained’ categories. The first, includes other grouping variables such as gender, socio economic background etc. The second puts these outcomes down as a mystery. Using this lens to view data, one cannot possibly find evidence for racism. As it skirts around the concept entirely.

Yet, as Portes outlines, one cannot just remove the word ‘racism’ from the report and remove all evidence of racial inequality within society and the data in question.

To get around this issue, the report used some dodgy statistics techniques. Anyone that has been taught statistics in the social sciences has been well versed on what to do and what not to do when it comes to ensuring data is not bias or misleading. Yet this report throws that rule book out of the window and uses any method it likes to erase the concept of racism.

As Portes states, using such techniques makes it impossible to find any evidence for racial inequality as by their own efforts all trace is removed, renamed or obscured.

5. Response from the experts

Portes is not alone in his outrage, those within and outside academia and research share his distain for the report.

Though it is important to acknowledge, and Portes makes a point of mentioning this, that there is a vast amount of experts condemning this report for it’s dodgy methods and even more dodgy morals.

6. Why is it so dodgy?

The sheer dodgyiness of the report is put down to an attempt to stem the unwanted tide of ‘woke’ voices in 2021. The uptake in so-called ‘wokeism’ is something the Torys need like they need a knife to the gut. The simplest solution of course is to remove objectivity and honesty from the equation and get reports written that support your position, ‘no there’s no problem here’.

7. My thoughts

From Portes critique it’s clear that when this report was undertaken the question was not ‘is Britain institutionally racist’, or ‘how institutionally racist is the UK?’. The question was, ‘how can we hide any trace of racism?’. This sweep-under-the-rug technique is straight out of the Tory handbook.

They removed the word racism from the equation and then claimed that no trace of racism could be found. What we need is a new report. A truly independent report. And what we need most of all is action!

Action to acknowledge and address the racial inequalities across the UK, the time for ignoring this issue is over.

UK Politics

BREXIT a modern day Icarus story

Pride is a dangerous thing. When does pride become vanity? The ego is a driving force behind many of the best and worst landmark events throughout history.

Integral to self-belief, a strong sense of self and a little ego can go a long way. Yet, history is littered with a comedy of errors where people fall flat on their face due to an overestimation of their abilities driven in no small part by an overactive ego. As the saying goes, pride comes before a fall.

The infamous story of Icarus perfectly illustrates this very theme. The overconfidence in ones abilities, the overestimation of ones success are all too often what brings about ones downfall.

Now you may wonder, what does this have to do with Brexit? Or – more likely – you can infer exactly what point I’m driving at.

Brexit is the Icarus of modern times.

“Brexit is the Icarus of modern times”

Damaged pride on behalf of the British since the fall of its empire has left us with a sour taste in our mouth when it comes to global politics. We’ve got the ego of a superpower without the power to match.

Photo by Josiah Lewis on

This culturewide inflated ego was begging to be manipulated by the bias mass media – owned by renowned conservative, Rupert Murdock. This led to an unofficial coup by the Tory government and it’s corrupt media to highjack the narrative and decide the EU was an all bad, all corrupt threat to our way of life.

Yet I ask you, when we parted ways with the EU, who received more power? Ourselves? Or our government?

Photo by on

Ever since we left the EU in a rushed through deal there have been no end of problems for people across Britain. The deal itself was in fact poorer deal than what we previously had inside the EU and even worse than the deal Theresa May proposed during her time as PM. This deal has made trade with the EU near impossible with endless paperwork. This deal has seen an end to British fishing as we know it, with many no longer being financially viable. This deal sees an end to travel, an end to studying abroad in Europe. And yes, as surprised as many of our British ‘Ex-pats’ in Spain were, this end to freedom of movement works both ways. So pack your bags, grit your teeth and make your way back to Blighty.

“pack your bags, grit your teeth and make your way back to Blighty”

Now many of you may still wonder, how did we end up here? In an all too apparently weaker position than we were before.

The answer: pride. We let ourselves get carried away with delusions of grandeur and lost sense of reality. We’re a weaker country out alone trying to reclaim an empire that has long since been dead. We didn’t want to believe it, we preferred the fantasy. It suited our self image, our ego and our pride far more than the reality, and now we’re paying the price.

Britain is a modern day Icarus story. A lesson to others in what happens when you fly too close to the sun. Or more aptly, believe what you read in The Sun.

UK Politics

Classism and White Privilege

Classism & White Privilege

We must take responsibility for racism and view it as an insult to us all, and a stain on our society, just as discrimination based on class is an insult to all.

A concept central to BLM ‘debate’ is that of ‘White Privilege’. Referring to the socio-cultural advantage white people have over black people. Countless researchers have concluded that colour of one’s skin instantly acts as a signifier of their ‘otherness’. White privilege argues that white individuals do not have this signifier of otherness attached to their identity and are not held back by people’s racist views attached to this. By extension white individuals do not have this label and are therefor treated differently, and by enlarge, are privileged by this fact.

Yet, some white people find this sentiment insulting, and believe it erases their lived experiences. Classism is still alive and well in Britain, with many communities – particularly in the North – being hit hard by Tory austerity. The result of which has placed individuals, largely younger people, at a distinctive disadvantage due to their class. For some, concept of white privilege is perceived as an insult to their struggle.

My response to this is that these issues do not exist in isolation. And do not need to be placed in a hierarchy, they are complex and interlinked. They are the product of outdated social systems.

What’s important to remember is that individuals from BAME backgrounds also exist in a classist structure. The same disadvantages associated with class background also apply to BAME individuals with many living in lower social class groups due to institutionalized racism.

‘White privilege’ does not mean that all white people are wealthy or blessed with money and opportunities. Many white people experience severe poverty and lack of opportunities in the UK. All white privilege means is that the colour of your skin does not influence this. This comes from classism within the UK which is largely upheld by other wealthy white people.

What’s more, class background can and does negatively influence BAME communities on top of the negative impact of their race or ethnicity. So BAME individuals experience a lack of opportunities because of their class/background but on top of this face even more discrimination on the basis of the colour of their skin. A factor that does not influence the chances of white people when they apply for a job or go to school.

Unfair advantages to BAME individuals or sticking plaster attempt to achieve equality?

Another key element of the argument for ways in which BAME individuals are at an advantage compared to lower/working class white individuals is the existence of race or ethnicity based graduate, scholarship, workplace schemes. Proponents of this argument state that such programmes offer an unfair advantage to the BAME recipients. However, I must take issue with this for the following 3 reasons:

  1. This is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound of racial inequality. The number of these schemes are near to non-existent on the grand scheme of things. They are rare and must be fought for being highly competitive. They are not the reason you, a white person, didn’t get the job or scholarship you wanted.
  2. These schemes provide valuable opportunities for people that would otherwise be far less likely to succeed due to racial stigma being stacked against them. They do not offer an unfair advantage but an opportunity to reset the balance and level the playing field for already disadvantaged individuals.
  3. These schemes breed diversity. This is a valuable commodity, diversity in the workplace and education has been shown to breed positive change and often promote initiatives that help and support others that are disadvantaged by their background – including class background which negatively effects white individuals across the UK and world at large.

Final thoughts – more in common than you wish to believe

Its’s vital to consider that we have more in common than the wealthy elite would have us believe. You do not need to view racism and classism as an either/or scenario. Both issues need to be resolved. Individuals struggling due to either or both of these issues are deserving of support. The idea that BAME communities are looking for special treatment or are somehow responsible for your lack of opportunities is as tired a falsehood as ‘the immigrant stole my job’. These ideas that other social groups are responsible for your hardship is a tired old divisive technique used by governments and ruling classes to divide us and keep us fighting amongst ourselves.

To support BAME individuals is to support oneself, together we can and should work together to improve the lived experiences of us all. We are all deserving of a quality, happy and equitable existence for the short time we’re here.

Don’t think of it as us and them, but us all together against the outdated and unfair social system that still favours the superrich and super greedy.