Bruce Lawson's personal site

Disabled people working for less than minimum wage

One of the New! Improved! caring-sharing-Tories™, Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, has called for the minimum wage to be relaxed so that people with disabilities can work for less than the minimum wage.

Naturally, because he’s caring-and-sharing, he only has those people’s best interests at heart:

My concern about it is it prevents those people from being given the opportunity to get the first rung on the employment ladder.

But he’s not just caring-and-sharing. He’s also a True Blue Tory who lives in The Real World of laisez-faire economics:

The point is that if an employer is considering two candidates, one who has disabilities and one who does not, and if they have to pay them both the same rate, which is the employer more likely to take on? Whether that is right or wrong and whether my hon. Friend would or would not do that, that is to me the real world in which we operate.

(Full speech in Hansard)

Rather stupidly, I had assumed that the role of Members of Parliament was to enact legislation that protected the vulnerable by promoting equality, redistributing wealth from the very rich to the disadvantaged and ensure that people aren’t exploited in the workplace.

I realise now that, because inequality and exploitation exists in the real world, we should accept it and encourage it by exempting groups of people from laws designed to protect them.

So let’s have an army of ultra-low paid people doing menial tasks without legal protection of any sort. In the capitalist real world, there is no need to price those people out of the market with statutory maximum working hours, or the requirement for safety equipment as they go down mines or up chimneys.

The disabed are analagous to former prisoners, says Mr Davis:

The only way the former prisoner would be given a chance by the employer is if the employer was able to say, “I’ll give you a smaller amount for a certain period of time and we’ll see how it goes. If you prove yourself, I’ll move you up.

From his voting record, I see that Mr Davis voted against equal gay rights, presumably so we can have minimum wage-exempt homosexuals staffing up hairdressing salons or kd lang tribute acts. I’m surprised that he voted for a stricter asylum system, given the opportunity it gives us to import squadrons of highly-trained professionals from war-torn areas of the world who could work as doctors for £3 an hour in the cash-strapped NHS.

Mr Davis believes criticism of his remarks is “leftwing hysteria”.

I’m not hysterical at all. In fact, if Mr Davis would care to attend my kickboxing class next Saturday, I will kick his arse for 60 minutes and not invoice him5.93 for that hour at all. As someone with a disability (multiple sclerosis), I’ll happily do it for free. To prove myself.

Buy "Calling For The Moon", my debut album of songs I wrote while living in Thailand, India, Turkey. (Only £2, on Bandcamp.)

9 Responses to “ Disabled people working for less than minimum wage ”

Comment by Tony K.


Its a shame to have to use an allegory, but imagine black people would have per law a lower minimum wage than white people.

How can he pretend he is concerned for the well being of the people he wants to degrade!? He is either an idiot or an asshole. I hate him.

Comment by Ian

It does seem an extraordinary thing for an MP to have said, simple exploitation.

I wonder why there wasn’t more of an outcry about this, or perhaps I missed it.

Comment by Jason

You should take a look at Thomas Sowell’s and Walter Williams’ views on the subject. Minimum wage was well-intentioned, but in reality it hurts those it was intended to help.

Comment by J. King

As someone who is disabled and whose employment opportunities are, realistically, somewhat limited as a result, I find it… Shocking? Appaling? Bizarre? Oh, I know: DUMB! that a Member of Parliament would think this is somehow -my- fault and that employers should be allowed to compensate me (or anyone) less than what is considered fair because of it.

I just can’t wrap my head around the notion. No matter who we are, we should get paid the same for the same amount of work; this is basic stuff that women in particular have been fighting tooth and nail for for decades, and rightly so. I just don’t see the logic—I guess because there isn’t any.

Comment by Rachel Parker

Copy of a letter sent to David Cameron:

Dear Mr Cameron,

I write with regards to one of your back benchers: my MP Philip Davies for Shipley.

I am sure mine will not be the first contact you have received as a result of his controversial speech in Parliament on Friday, regarding “the hindrance “of the minimum wage. I urge you to consider that such a volume of negative response is a reflection of how inappropriate his comments were and how they need addressing by yourself.

It is rare that a minor back bencher is invited onto News Night to defend his views which I think demonstrates the level of distaste that he has registered with the general public and the media alike.

I do not need to discuss all the minutiae of why his views are abhorrent, your party has made it clear that you do not agree with him and have disassociated yourself from his views. I would like this to be taken a step further. I want, at the very least, for Mr. Davies to publically apologise for his actions

I have contacted Mr Davies himself but have had no response. I am interested that he says his views represent what disabled people want. I have asked what the figures for people with learning difficulties are in our constituency and how many people with learning difficulties he has actually garnered views from. I would argue that as he has not answered this it demonstrates that his speech was based on anecdote rather than being a true cross section of his disabled constituency.

I am alarmed that as an MP he can make such arbitrary statements and insult firstly all vulnerable people looking for work but also members of the public by trying to persuade us that he is somehow being a champion for vulnerable people. If his views were genuinely reflective does he not wonder why disability campaigners are so angry with him? ( I acknowledge that Mr Davies highlighted Learning Difficulties awareness week in 2009, but his latest outcry has negated the value of this ).I would argue that rights campaigners are more in touch with the views of disabled people than him. Mr Davies seems to be implying that he is an advocate for vulnerable people but an advocate would be fighting for the very best for people and would be asserting themselves in order to get this. If a vulnerable person with learning difficulties is asking for less wages, should we not be fostering self esteem and bolstering confidence with these individuals and teaching them NOT to ask for less?

The assumption that people with disabilities are automatically less productive is bigotry at it’s finest. It is also worth remembering that there are other things, aside from productivity that add value to a team, performance and employability can not be based purely on outcomes.

This appears to be a David and Goliath situation and surely as a compassionate and progressive and may I say it “Big “society, we have a duty to help David not Goliath.

To place Mr Davies’ “ findings “ in reality then consider that, in science, we would not accept a piece of research as being valid if it had only utilised a tiny study group . Why and how does Mr Davies think that a few chats at MIND means that this is enough evidence to change the fabric of employment law?

I am alarmed that, as a previous manager of Asda, his views around Employment law are that the minimum wage is a potential hindrance. It is up to employers to challenge their views and attitudes with regards to disability so that they wouldn’t automatically chose to employ a none disabled person over a disabled person. Mr Davies again uses rhetoric to say this is “the real world “. As Mr Davies is in a privileged position of power in this real world , and especially with a working knowledge of employment law, he should be prime candidate for challenging employers not condoning their decision by saying essentially ” that’s just the way it is”. Have we not considered tax breaks for employers that may require extra support if employing someone with extra needs ?

And finally, I am alarmed that as a human being he would devalue vulnerable people to such an extent that they should work for less money than a very poor minimum wage. I know he argues that it would be a choice people make. How much of an informed choice would it be if we are talking about vulnerable people? How does Mr Davies think these people would afford to live once employed on poor wages? Even if he does not have the humanity and social adeptness to understand the concept of empathy, he does have a calculator and a pencil to work out that these people would not survive such financial pressures.

I am absolutely disgusted that a man in such power has acted so badly. I am ashamed that he is my MP. I actually need to contact him about an issue regarding child maintenance, but am worried that as a single parent he may use his right wing views and judge me.

I can assert myself well and will find an alternative channel to seek help other than him. What worries me is that not only has he alienated vulnerable people but also people like me. By behaving like this, he is making himself unapproachable which is completely incongruent with being a representative of the people. We are now in a situation where the Labour candidate for Shipley is apologising on Twitter for not winning the election, if she had won, then Mr Davies would never have been able to behave like this. I think we are now in an untenable situation that the MP is offending people and yet it is his opposition who is apologising to the constituency.

Mr Davis is in a privileged position, elected by the public and yet he has spoken rashly and offended many. Sadly this is only one in a long long line of things that he has said that has caused disgust. (His far right views on children in detention at Yarl’s Wood, his comments about black and Muslim people…).

This issue needs resolving as there is bad taste locally and nationally .I do not see how people can trust Mr Davies. I do not feel he is worthy of being a representative of Shipley. I have canvassed with our local Green councillor sometimes and I can assure you that the people of Shipley are not about marginalising the vulnerable. Our councillor represents us fairly and tirelessly and yet our MP does not. There is a disparity between what we, the people, want and what is being said on behalf of us in Parliament.

Shipley is a wonderful place to live and I am deeply ashamed that my representative is casting such shame on it in the House of Commons and in the media. He is also bringing shame upon the Tory Party.

I urge your swift response and action.

With thanks
Rachel Parker

Comment by Tim

….but what if the disabled want to work for 20p an hour? I know- a feeble post compared to Rachels fantastic letter.

Comment by Daniel Stephens

I have Asperger syndrome and have not worked for over 2 years. I know I could do a little office job with few responsibilities, as I had one for 15 years before the boss died and the company went bust. I would struggle with anything too demanding. I would willingly work for less than the minimum wage in return for lower expectations of my abilitles.

Leave a Reply

HTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> . To display code, manually escape it.