Monday 20 June 2011

Mascot Watch (13) - THAT Speech

Now the official parliamentary record is available, we can study Philip Davies's speech to Friday's Employment Opportunities Bill debate in full and in context. His contribution begins here.

Contrary to the implication fostered in certain reporting - not least by the BBC on radio 5, online, and with a special slot on Newsnight - the disabled were cited, in an intervention lasting 43 minutes, as just one of many groups who may be disadvantaged by current employment legislation. Others included asylum seekers and former prisoners, while our Phil also pointed out that the national minimum wage encourages illegal immigration - though I suppose such groups don't blow the same 'progressive' dog whistle, do they?

Perhaps the BBC could have chosen the quote by Edward Leigh - alone amongst attendant Tories in not believing Davies's input as worthy of consideration - of their own free will ...

Mr Davies was challenged over his remarks by fellow Tory MP Edward Leigh who told him: "Forget the fact there is a minimum wage for a moment. Why actually should a disabled person work for less than £5.93 an hour. It is not a lot of money, is it?"
... though I believe the usual form is for there to have been, ahem, helpful guidance from a Labour (or Lib Dem) spin merchant.

However, if it really was so outrageous, why the lack of indignation from Labour members of the house who were present at the time? In fact, MP for Manchester Central Tony Lloyd - the first to speak after the comments in question - described Davies's points as "always seductive — they are wrong, but they are very seductive".

All a bit of a typhoon in a shot glass, really.


Christopher Snowdon said...

One of the most memorable pieces of BBC bias I ever saw was in a light-hearted documentary about the history of Question Time. It was all funny stuff - weirdos in the audience, amusing answers, gaffes, cock-ups, power cuts, scenery malfunctions etc.

Slipped into all this was Michael Howard giving an answer to a question about the minimum wage circa 1995. He said it would increase unemployment and cited several other potential problems. This was included as a 'gaffe', said the BBC's subtitles, because by the time the programme came out (circa 2005), all parties agreed with the minimum wage. Howard's view was therefore not merely an opinion that had fallen out of favour but was a laughable faux-pax because it went against The One and Only Truth.

(I don't have a strong view either way on the minimum wage, BTW, but this attempt to consign the debate to history stood out like a sore thumb in an otherwise frivolous documentary.)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Snowdon: That remark by Howard was referred to in the debate. Labour have made great play on it, but it was at a time when the NMW was being pitched at a much higher level than the inconsequential rate originally introduced. So it's yet another sleight of hand lie by politicians ... and they know it.

Hmmm, so how did our respect for politicians disappear exactly? ;)

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I worked for an agency that was government run and did some back and forth transactions with another agency that was a state sanctioned, licensed non-profit in the same line of work.

What they did, for qualified mentally and physically disabled, was to aggregate them into workshops to do menial but important jobs that nobody else would want to do - like matching nuts with bolts for the airlines or manually sorting components headed to electronics manufacturers.

And for that, they each earned small hourly stipends, which were significantly below the minimum wage - plus a small piece-meal rate on the number of items sorted.

Yes, it was below minimum wage, but if they didn't have that, along with flexible hours and understanding, sympathetic staff who attempted to develop a work ethic and sense of pride, to make these people more self-sufficient, then they'd have been left with no employability skills what-so-ever and ended up living on the streets homeless.

It would seem the manner in which the below minimum wage work is being offered could be the key. If it's offered only to enrich the employer without regard for uplifting the employee needing that sort of employment to eventually making something of him or her self, then there wouldn't be any strong social benefit gotten out of it for the employee in special needs and only financially advantageous to the employer.

But if it's done with the long term goal of eventually revitalizing the needy's sense of pride, dignity and long term employability, then it seems like it would be a good thing, in the long run.

Wasn't there also a time when apprenticeships were common and from that, people working below full wages of an accomplished master in a given field, had the benefit of eventually becoming an accomplished master him or her self.

Seems that would work today for people who would otherwise have no job opportunities.

But the problem with it today is that government would desire to stick its nose in and demand total bureaucratic control to the effect of making it difficult to do it independently, without government obstruction.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Wondering if a friend's care home charges in the 90s may have been on your programmes, Anon. They were mentally disabled adults who were taken daily to a factory to pack plastic knifes and forks for the airline industry.

He said they were painfully slow and there were far more economically advantageous ways of getting the job done, but were paid by the company under a deal negotiated by the local authority, and were bouncing off the walls with excitement before going there each day.

I expect a machine does it now.

Curmudgeon said...

He's got some high-profile support from Dominic Lawson in the Independent today here. And Lawson has a Down's syndrome daughter.

This is an issue that has the left-liberal élite foaming at the mouth, but on which most ordinary folks will tend to agree with him.