America, fortunately, does not have a monopoly on bigoted conservatives. A British conservative is doing his part. Conservative MP Philip Davies who has previously said that disabled people are scroungers, said in the House of Commons, that disabled people in the United Kingdom should take a step back to the good old nineteenth century: He said that disabled people are less productive, and should therefore be willing to be paid less:
“Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.”
Being the father of a disabled daughter who finds it very difficult to find a job, I am offended by Davies’ retro approach to social issues. I imagine he’d like to see asylums make a come-back as well so we can just throw all the “different” people in there and have done with it.
“If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate. I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.”
There are some ten million disabled workers in the United Kingdom and Davies takes a very dim view of them indeed. He says: “My view is that for some people, the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.”
In other words, they may not be able to get a job working for minimum wage so they should be willing to accept less. Yes, because starvation is such a wonderful way to go.
“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”
Mental health charity Mind spokesperson Sophie Corlett said that “more than 50% of people with mental health problems lived on weekly household income of less than £200.”
According to the BBC, “The minimum wage is currently £5.93 an hour for those over 21, £4.92 for those aged between 18 and 20 and £3.64 for 16 and 17 year olds.”
In American terms, the minimum wage is $9.46 for those over 21 based on today’s rates.
As Dame Anne Begg, Labour MP and chairman of the work and pensions committee said, “It would set the cause of equality for disabled people back sometime to the middle of the last century.”
“To say that all disabled people should be excluded from the coverage of the minimum wage … would be discriminatory against disabled people. It would set the cause of equality for disabled people back sometime to the middle of the last century.”
Of course, a conservative party spokesman was quick to dissociate his party from Davies’ obscene remarks:
“These comments do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party and do not reflect government policy.”
It would be refreshing to have a Republican say such a thing. Apparently British conservatives haven’t sunk as low as their American counterparts. At least they have the decency to look abashed, even if inscincere.
Like any cockroach does when the lights are turned on, Davies is now equivocating, claiming that he is not advocating lower wages, merely suggesting that the disabled should be willing to accept them “to prove themselves”.
Davies would be very happily at home in the Tea Party. He said (in 2009) of piece of legislation called the Equality Bill designed to “strengthen discrimination legislation” that it was ‘is all about the politically correct extremism of the Leader of the House and her trendy, left-wing prejudices.” Because for conservatives, equality is extremism.
That sounds very familiar from across the pond, doesn’t it?
As Jody McIntyre, a disabled journalist writes,
Philip Davies, on the basic MP’s salary of £65,738, is pontificating on the ‘hindrance’ of paying disabled people the same minimum wage as any other person. The clue, which he seems to be missing, is in the title. But Davies is living in the same bubble as many of his colleagues in the Houses of Commons. He seems to suffer from the same superiority complex; “we are all in this together, apart from us!” Well, here is a suggestion, why don’t you work for less than the minimum wage?
Sounds a lot like our own House of Representatives and their “shared sacrifice” narrative. Sacrifice shared b y everyone, apart from them.