Every now and again someone in British politics ungraciously steps out from their party’s shadow to deliver a thoroughly misinformed and unwelcome opinion. At times like these, you question why you ever berated the whip system and cannot help but wonder how many more clangers would be dropped if MPs expressed themselves freely on a more frequent basis.
This time it was the turn of Philip Davies, prior to Friday a relative unknown in Westminster, now better known as the Conservative MP from Shipley who has suggested disabled people should be allowed to opt out of the minimum wage.
Davies’ argument centres on the belief that should disabled people work for less than the £5.93 minimum wage it would enable them to become more competitive in the job market. Adding, “My view is that for some people, the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.”
This seems an interesting approach to an ongoing problem faced by the disabled in Britain. In fact, instead of attempting to address an employment gap that the 2007 Equalities Review suggested would probably never be rectified at current momentum levels, Davies, renegade Tory and spokesmen for the disabled (having spoken to people at one surgery run by the charity Mind) has become the brainchild of an idea best described as – ending inequality with greater inequality.
Notably, Davies seems to have overlooked certain potential hiccups in his grand plan, these being disabled people becoming a source of cheap labour for employers, while simultaneously being considered second-class citizens in the workplace.
Debatable logic aside, perhaps, the unintentional upside of Davies’ ill-informed comments will be them becoming a catalyst for greater efforts in eradicating discrimination in the workplace towards the disabled in British society.
However, for Philip Davies, I hear backbench-silence-a-calling and a swift end to an ungraceful fifteen minutes of fame.