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REVEALED: The full transcript of Councillor Collin Brewer's interview on disabled children

By CMJohannaCarr  |  Posted: May 20, 2013

  • REVEALED: The full transcript of Councillor Collin Brewer's interview on disabled children

Comments (25)

This is Cornwall can now reveal the full transcript of an interview given by Cornwall Councillor Collin Brewer, which has prompted calls for his resignation and investigations by the police and council.

The Wadebridge East councillor came under fire again this week for his latest comments about disabled children, where he allegedly compared them with deformed lambs in a telephone interview with Disability News Service (DNS)journalist John Pring.

Mr Brewer, who is currently on sick leave from his council duties because of a long-term health condition, told the BBC earlier this week that his comments had been taken out of context.

This transcript has been reproduced with the permission of DNS.

JP: “Talking about the incident in October 2011.”

CB: What I couldn’t get out because the lady (from Disability Cornwall) turned her back, it was very expensive. My concern was that children are being sent from Cornwall all over the country far away from their parents and carers, and is that what we wish for our children? My concern is that such facilities ought to be local. It fills in with the ideas of Whole Life. I thought that it would be cheaper to provide those facilities closer to home in Cornwall, or that could deal with Devon as well.

“Is their life of such low esteem that that might be it?

“I have never killed a fish in my life. I believe all life is precious, whatever animal it is.

“I had just been to a council meeting which was discussing finance. When you are talking about having to close toilets, facilities for everyone and perhaps the coastal footpath for everyone, then I have got to question individual budgets to individual people.

“People are not on this earth for very long. My main concern is planning and environmental and landscape. In that context, people are just transient.

“I have heard of terrific amounts of money being spent on specific individuals.”

JP: “Disabled individuals?”

CB: “I’m not sure.”

JP: “Some people have very high personal budgets?”

CB: “Yes.”

JP: “What’s the solution to that?”

CB: “The only way I can see it is more of a homes within the locality. When you look at people with mental health problems, for too long you have had all these massive institutions. Now at last people are beginning to see people with these disabilities in their locality... I really am not the ogre people are making me out to be.

“You are trying to make more of it than it was. I came out of a meeting talking about budgets very agitated. He had spoken to someone on another stand first. The he moved on to the Disability Cornwall stand.

“I think there were three people there. I was agitated and made that stupid remark for which I will always be sorry.

“The fact is that I think to keep 10 toilets open would cost about £250,000. That’s a service to the whole of the community. This is my concern. It is a balance which has to be made.”

JP: “As opposed to what?”

CB: “As opposed to a service to one person. I know for instance of a lady with two dogs and she has three carers and she gets around, she has a frame. These carers are principally to walk the dogs. Little things like that that people are aware of. It makes me frustrated because I tend to think that it is money that could be better spent on someone else.”

JP: “The council could provide funding of £250,000 for one person?”

CB “That comes into it. It is obviously part of the equation. You have to say when you are talking about something for economic development what is the payback. It is a major concern. You have limited budget and it is being cut all the time.”

JP: “So when there are limited budgets you find it difficult sometimes to look at some of the big personal budgets being given to disabled people for social care and that is just for one person? Is that where the source of the concern is?”

CB: “I don’t sit on any health committees but it is a concern. It is not only a concern of mine.”

JP: “So it is a widespread feeling in the council that the higher and rising costs of social care mean that there is less money for projects that could benefit the wider community?”

CB: “It is bound to be a concern. Because we are having to get rid of libraries, sports centres, and not maintain even our roads.”

JP: “Should there be more abortions of disabled children?”

CB: “I don’t agree with abortions. I am a Christian. All life is precious. It’s a dilemma that I have. It cannot be just me. I suppose it is an ethics question. If you were talking about getting rid of a person or a life it is not something I could condone.

“You will never believe it. Two weeks ago I walked up through a street and a retired doctor said I was perfectly right.”

JP: “That some disabled children should be put down?”

CB: “Presumably it would depend on the degree of the disablement.”

JP: “What did you say to him?”

CB: “I knew him. I was an acquaintance in the past. He is a medical man. He knows his business presumably.”

JP: “There must be something to what he was saying?”

CB: “If that is what he said, there must be.”

JP: “But he was obviously advocating some kind of euthanasia?”

CB: “All he said was I was right in my comment.”

JP: “How do you balance those two things?”

CB: “You just can’t.”

JP: “He quoted some extract from The Way of Life, which he said he had never told anyone before but that he read every morning. It’s about doing good/no harm.”

CB: “I try to abide by that.”

“The other problem is over-population. I see so many problems in the world regarding energy consumption, housing. We live in a finite environment. I am afraid that in a few generations we are going to be hit with terrible consequences of our breeding.”

JP: “So what is the solution?”

CB: “I think the Chinese had a way of doing it. One child family.”

JP: “But then if you have a disabled child?”

CB: “I really don’t know. No government is prepared to grasp it.”

JP: “So the solution might be easing those out of life who might be less productive?”

CB: “You mentioned abortion. Doesn’t this happen now anyway?”

JP: “Do you think something might be done along the lines of the doctor?”

CB “If nothing is done we are going to have terrible wars or famine.”

JP: “To ease out those unproductive members of society?”

CB: “We have a tax system that encourages people to breed like rabbits. If we had a tax system that encouraged one child or maybe two.”

JP: “Euthanasia might be a solution?”

CB: “No.”

JP: “Other people who agreed with you?”

CB: “My ward is partial urban but terrific rural area with a lot of farmers. A farmer didn’t see a lot wrong with what I said because it is something they do every day. If they have a misshapen lamb they get rid of it, they get rid of it. Bang! If you go to a farmer’s funeral there is not a lot of weeping because they are used to life and death. It is something they deal with on a daily basis.”

JP: “How did it make you feel? That you were right?”

CB: “He’s certainly got a point. We are just animals. He’s obviously got a point.”

JP: “You have some sympathy with him and the doctor?”

CB: “Of course I have. You can’t have lambs running around with five legs and two heads.

“People have also said that whilst they have a great sympathy with these [families], there is always the problem when the parents or carers leave this world. What does happen? It is a worry.”

JP: “They become a burden?”

CB: “Yes. Who shoulders the burden after they have looked after them for so many years. But I think society is getting a lot more tolerant in that respect.”

JP: “Has anybody else said they agreed with you?”

CB: “Strangely enough I have been up to other towns and people have come up and shook my hand. Complete strangers.”

JP: “How did that make you feel?”

CB: “It made me feel that I am not the ogre that I have been painted. I think a lot of them is sympathy for me.”

JP: “Sympathy?”

CB: “I think humans are animals.”

JP: “If other people are killing animals it is OK?”

CB: “Do you eat meat? [That is] killing of an animal.”

JP: “So the difference between putting down an animal who is severely disabled and putting down a child who is severely disabled is not that great then?”

CB: “Yes, you seem to forget that we kill, we rule the roost.”

JP: “There isn’t that much difference between putting down a lamb or a child with two heads?”

CB: “I think the cost has got to be evaluated. It is not something I would like to do but there is only so much in the bucket. If you are talking about giving services to the community or services to the individual, the balance has got to be struck.”

JP: “You might think then that if there was a child with two heads, that might be where the line is drawn. It might be kinder to put that child down?”

CB: “Is that one child or two? I would hope that although I don’t like the idea of it, long before it is born that this problem is [stopped] and it will probably be aborted in some way.”

JP: “And if it wasn’t?”

CB: “Then if it wasn’t, then well, what happens?”

JP: “The lamb would be put down.”

CB: “It would be put down, smashed against the wall and be dealt with.”

JP: “It might be as [...] for a similar thing to be done for the child?”

CB: “That would be up to the decision of whoever is there at the birth. It makes me wonder that some children have been aborted, some abortions are so late that the child is there.”

JP: “Those are decisions about putting down a child with that degree of impairment might well mean more money for the wider community?”

CB: “It might. It probably will.”

JP: “It does make an argument and a good argument for maybe ending the lives of some severely disabled children with severe learning difficulties?”

CB: “I am not making that judgment. There may be a case. I haven’t a clue how much they cost. When people complain to me about the state of our finances, I say, well, we can’t afford to do it. We might be forced to close our beaches. That’s a service to us all. It is a dilemma and it is going to get increasingly a problem with budget cuts.”

JP: “Between services for disabled people and...?”

CB: “Between all services.”

JP: “It does make an argument for putting down some severely disabled children?”

CB: “Yes. That is why I keep as far away from health in the council as I can.

“I was a conservation man for Cornwall. Very much concerned with landscape and planning.”

JP: “Does it frustrate you that with all the money spent on people’s lives, so little is spent on the environment?”

CB: “We work according to the budget.”

JP: “Said he is currently off sick from the council. Had a series of strokes some time ago.”

CB: “You’re liable to flare up.”

JP: “Personality-wise?”

CB: “Yes. People have said I have changed since those strokes.”

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  • BradleyJJS  |  May 21 2013, 10:05AM

    From what I have seen the DNS is just one person. Utter disgrace and I have to agree the victims are disabled people, very well said.

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  • parahandy  |  May 21 2013, 8:07AM

    Brewer should go or should not have come back and the transcript shows it but Pring is no better he was after a story to sell to all the mainstream papers and make a name for himself, the questions show he was going to get it no matter what and in doing so he has exploited disabled people for profit, the DNS should never use him again.

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  • Doitdreckley  |  May 20 2013, 2:40PM

    Its good that the transcript was printed in full. Reading the whole thing it is clear that Mr Brewer was hopelessly unprepared and not briefed for such an interview. He even contradicts himself - first he is for abortion and then he is against it. I dont blame the journalist - is is their job to lead with questions to try and catch a politician out - but Mr Brewer looks to me to have been damned by his own poor grasp of interview technique.

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  • BradleyJJS  |  May 20 2013, 11:16AM

    For those still defending Pring here is his latest hate cast against Brewer "Brewer faces 'pariah' status among colleagues after 'hate' comments to DNS" http://tinyurl.com/k8efdtt Hang your head in shame Pring (or is that Prang) you are nothing more than a self serving bully.

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  • upcountryguy  |  May 20 2013, 10:58AM

    Talk about leading questions..a blatantly obvious attempt to entice Brewer, who doesn't seem to be alone with his opinions in Cornwall. I personally have heard similar statements advocating putting down disabled and the infirm with a priest/mallet and recently the sterilisation of deformed/disabled! I can only think these views are passed down. As for the general views I hear on homosexuals and ethnic minority's better not go there!

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  • ruthnystrm  |  May 20 2013, 10:39AM

    I share others opinion that the DNS journalists may have grounds for an interview but has misrepresented what was said and what DNS asked. The comments read very different when seen in the full context of the interview and is a form of seeking a revolting quote rather than the truth and I hope this is not seen as a justified method of journalistic behaviour almost every comment by DNS was leading and suggestive that DNS wanted Brewer to say something revolting. A failed attempt at entrapment and to think that was used to abuse brewer after his victory is revolting and deserving of an apology by DNS and those comparing him with Nazi Germany which is a far more sick behaviour than anything Brewer has said.

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  • Anyone  |  May 20 2013, 10:35AM

    This is the worst piece of interviewing that I have seen for a very long time, shame on you Mr Pring, for you have brought shame to the Disability News Service, and as a disabled person I find that objectionable. Clearly you steered Mr Brewer into saying what you wanted him to say, more fool him. This has now become a witch hunt, and it is time to let the investigators do their work and let them make the decisions. This is purely trial by the media. Undoubtedly Collin Brewer's health is going to deteriorate, and he should consider retiring from his council work altogether before another stroke does it for him. I cannot and do not condone the things that he has said, but I defend his right to be able to express his opinions. It is time that this was brought to an end, as clearly people are just re hashing their old arguments again and again, some right and some clearly ill informed. I suspect this comment will be red arrowed so bring it on and do it to your hearts intent !!!!

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  • cornishandy  |  May 20 2013, 10:25AM

    The only people to have reported Mr Brewer's terrible utterances are Disability Cornwall and Mr Pring. The BBC interviewed Mr Brewer and he said quite different things.

    |   3
  • emurfitt  |  May 20 2013, 8:03AM

    BradleyJJS. I am sorry to hear you were disabled as a result of fighting for your country. I, for one, appreciate your sacrifice and thank you for that. You might like to know that I was disabled (not severely) at the age of forty as a result of doing my own employment. I'll deal with your comments a point at a time. Firstly, people who disagree with you are not a 'mob'. People are right to defend causes. If you disagree with their point of view, you are free to say so. Insulting them doesn't further your own point of view. Secondly, you say you are open minded and judge on facts. The facts are diabolical for disabled peopled in this country. The Government is whipping up division and hatred to try and save money whilst rewarding the very rich. As ex-Forces, you will be taken care of by the Government and rightly so. The rest of us are losing what little support we used to depend on and people are beginning to weigh the value of a disabled person's life against the cost of beach facilities. This IS disturbing to a right-thinking person. Thirdly, you say Mr Brewer has 'said things that were wrong' in the past but he has learnt his lesson. The facts, as I understand them, are that he said wrong things, was forced to stand down, was re-elected and said the same wrong things all over again. There is nothing in the transcript to suggest he has changed his mind. He is a muddle-headed dangerous man. Fourthly, Mr Pring is not the bad guy here. It is a journalist's job to speak out against scandal and injustice in public life just as it was your own job to go to war. It's unpleasant but someone has to do it. Vulnerable groups need Mr Pring to speak out. Fifthly, you remind us that Mr Brewer was democratically elected. Actually, so was Hitler - which is how we came to have the Human Rights Act. The Government, and a swathe of the population, want to get rid of the Human Rights Act. Entire populations can easily be manipulated to hate a section of their own citizens. Ask any Jew, Gypsy, single mother, homosexual etc. All scape goats used by morally bankrupt governments to hide their own failings. Demanding that Mr Brewer leaves public office is the absolute duty of every responsible citizen in a free democracy. Sixthly, you accuse us of hating Mr brewer. What is the point in hating him? He is one symptom of a wider social disease. This is what we are tackling. There is no room for hatred here - we need cool heads. He is not fit for public office and we want him out. That's not hate, it's common sense. Finally, you say it is foolish not to say services are beyond our means. Normally this would be true. The services in question sustain life, though, that is the point. You speak of services to disabled people as if they were of no more account than a beach facility or public lavatory. Is that all a life is? How valuable is your own life? It is not foolish to defend basic human decency. If we can increase the number of billionaires, we can support the vulnerable - like disabled children and yourself. I haven't read any hate posted against Mr Brewer. Just observations and outrage. Sent from FB and Twitter? For my part, I haven't a clue how to access these things! I am sorry you are so bitter and hope things improve for you. God bless.

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  • BradleyJJS  |  May 19 2013, 11:07PM

    emurfitt like most of the other mob you are not following the story but mob mentality of bullying a people others have encouraged you to attack. Nothing in any of your comments mentions anything about the story; you seem to need an enemy to attack or more likely a soap box for spouting anger. As a registered disabled person since returning from fighting for this country. I am a person who is open minded and considerate I judge on facts. I have read the above and judge one person to be guilty of incitement and it is not Mr Brewer in this instance. He has in the past said things that were wrong and I hope learnt and reading the above would say he has, returning to the story and facts Brewer was elected by his peers in his local area to represent them. Who is your mob following the conceived scriptures of Pring to demand he leaves? After all that is the story not comparing him to the worst evil humanity has ever known as you and others who opted to do based on Prings falsehoods. It is not a crime to say that the services we need to supply are beyond what we can afford which I feel is what he was trying to say, to pretend otherwise is foolish. There is no bottomless money pit and to demand he resigns is plain undemocratic. But worse than this to have people stirring hate against you based on lies. Is a lot worse than any crime he is alleged to have committed and I fail to see how you all accuse him of saying evil things then do exactly that yourself and feel you have any moral high ground or victory. In fact I doubt most of the people posting hate against him do not know the story, they are sent here via FB and twitter. I would stick to clicking arrows.

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