Minimum Wage

By: A.C.

Lord Freud is not someone who is immediately recognisable. His name came to the fore today ( 15 October) in an exchange in the House of Commons when Ed Milliband stated that this person had been secretly recorded at a Tory party fringe meeting saying that the “disabled were not worth the minimum wage”.

Mr Cameron said that these views were “not the view of this Government” and that he “did not need lectures from anybody about looking after disabled people” and urged the Labour leader not “to cast aspersions”.

It is important therefore that Lord Freud’s actual position and responsibility as a Tory Peer be ascertained. You can find his Parliamentary Biography here where it states he holds the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) (Welfare Reform) since 2010.

This helpful webpage at the Government Website also gives more of his official announcements. His background is given sparsely as :

“He previously advised the government on how to reform the welfare system, publishing an independent report in March 2007 entitled ‘Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work’.

Lord Freud was Vice Chairman of Investment Banking for UBS, where he organised the restructuring of National Air Traffic Control and the reshaping of the Channel Tunnel Railway Link. He was a journalist at the Financial Times for 8 years before starting his banking career.”

The clandestine recording is already ‘doing the rounds’ and his thoughts about the disabled amongst his fellow political travelers, can be heard here.

The disability action and rights movement has for years fought against all kinds of discrimination.

It is wholly unacceptable that a Peer who holds this Government position on Welfare Reform should espouse these views about the disabled.

It would appear that the real thoughts of this Under –Secretary have been exposed, and although maybe shocking to those who are not disabled, the disability rights movement is probably offended, insulted and outraged .

But not surprised.

Lord Freud has apologised for “his foolish and offensive” remarks in which he suggested people with disabilities could be paid less than the minimum wage.

All though he has apologised, his party colleague and Minister of State for Employment, Esther McVey has stated that these remarks are likely to “haunt” him.

It is not the first time that Lord Freud has suffered foot in mouth syndrome.

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2 Responses to Minimum Wage

  1. AC says:

    It would appear that Politicians, media commentators and others who have a political interest in protecting Lord Freud, as for example, seen on Question Time last night, are pronouncing his words as ” clumsy”, “not helpful”, or “taken out of context” .

    Maybe we should call it correctly a ” Freudian Slip”.( taken from Sigmund Freud) where someone says something they did not mean to vocalise words, as it reveals their true thoughts. The extent of public vitriol against those groups who were calling for his resignation was quite surprising . Many saw it as a Political stitch -up. Well, maybe it was, but lets not forget who is being devalued here. Maybe the lady in the wheelchair at the front of the Question Time audience felt intimidated by the audience’s support for Freud and kept quiet. I have listened carefully to disability charity spokespersons over the last couple of days, and their main reaction is still the same.

    The form of words he used centres on the use of the word ” worth”. Unfortunately for him, he was a Welfare Adviser and contributed greatly to Labour plans. That single word, reveals more about his thinking in this time where the disabled feel they are under persistent attack by a heartless Government, a right -wing media who see them as spongers and scroungers, and system that is badly broken but has a Minister in Charge who continues to be deaf and push forward with his policies.

    Those groups who fights for rights, and continually point out disparity and inequality, consistently point to the failure of the Government to close tax loopholes for multinational corporations. Maybe if they did that they might find that they have money available for a just caring society that lifts people out of poverty and gives them hope. Instead of the penalising and punitive regime we have at the moment, which does seem to reflect that word ” worth”

  2. AC says:

    In today’s Independent on Sunday, it is reported that ” Andrew Selous, a Justice minister and former parliamentary aide to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, told a fringe meeting that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”.

    Apparently this Minister worked for IDS for four years.

    I think many people when they have been out of work, whether they are able -bodied or disabled, will show loyalty and determination in fair and equally paid employment. It has always been my experience that a very small number of people spend more time working out schemes on how to avoid their work, or keep up a pretence that they are actually engaged in such toil.

    Again this Minister seems to choose the wrong word. I doubt that any person in this century, is into forelock tugging gratefulness for just having a job. That signals the same type of power, control, and threat that rich landowners and industrialists had over those who worked on the land or in the mills and factories. .

    Unfortunately there are politicians who seem to have same 19th century mind-set and appear to have some class based romantic notion of being a ” Lord of the Manor”.

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