Tory Peer: "Pay disabled people £2 per hour"
October 17, 2014 1:14 PM   Subscribe

A Conservative welfare minster has apologised after suggesting that disabled people are "not worth" the national minimum wage and some could only be paid "£2 an hour". Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform minister admitted the comments were "offensive” after they were disclosed by Ed Miliband during Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. The Labour leader has called on the Tory peer to resign.
posted by marienbad (68 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
That explain the baffling "outrage over Freud's comments" headline I saw earlier. I was wondering if they'd dug up some newly discovered diary of Sigmund Freud's.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sigmund Freud's descendants are everywhere in the British establishment. I found this Wikipedia page fascinating (actors! friends with David Cameron! BBC radio hosts! married to the guy who wrote Notting Hill! Murdochs!)
posted by kariebookish at 1:20 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


The apology is mealy-mouthed, dodging direct responsibility:
In a statement, Lord Freud later said: “I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

"I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”
While the transcript in the article shows he didn't raise the premise, he took it further:
“There is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage, and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually...”
That's not "accepting the premise," that's repeating and agreeing with someone's idea, and talking about removing the "minimum" from "minimum wage."

No one wants to work for less money, especially less than a government-mandated minimum, but if that's all they are offered, there are some people who will take it.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


In the US, 2$/hr would be a huge raise.

That would be about 10 times what we pay our disabled workers: Goodwill has paid workers in Pennsylvania as little as 22 cents, 38 cents and 41 cents an hour.

(there are other thrift stores you can shop at, folks).

Also, crappy apology - he blames the bad question more than his bad answer.
posted by el io at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


Damn, el io beat me to it. I waffled on posting that because of the "lol make everything about the US" chestnut here, but this has been A Thing for a while at goodwill... ugh.
posted by emptythought at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2014


According to that bastion of well-meaning left-wing thinking, the Adam Smith institute, Lord Freud was badly treated:

http://www.adamsmith.org/news/ed-milibands-attack-on-lord-freud-is-shameful/.

However, in the real world, he comes across as another sociopath, emotionally constipated and/or simply lacking in any empathy: http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/why-lord-freud-was-an-accident-waiting-to-happen--l1tmM-q48e
posted by rolandroland at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Are there any accents in which "Lord Freud" rhymes? Because it looks like there should be.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is a man who the (hardly radical) New Statesman said "will be remembered in the City as one of the key players in several of the most embarrassing and badly managed deals in investment banking history". He then somehow walked straight from that disastrous career into Blair's government as an adviser on Welfare reform despite no experience in that area, and then made it through the fall of the Labour government to his current position with the Tories. An absolute disgrace of a man, and an indictment of political culture in this country.
posted by sobarel at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


Remarkably the Tories are going all out to defend him, and trying to point at Labour for making a big deal of it. I'd be impressed if that worked, it certainly never works for Labour when they try it, but then the media is mostly pro-tory than Labour.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2014


From Lord Freud's Wikipedia page (I really spent way too long reading about him & his family yesterday):

"[Lord] Freud's book describing his career in the city has been described as "morally ambiguous". Whilst working in the City of London he was called by a colleague the "Fraud Squad" because of his ability to "heavily promote new share issues that subsequently tanked."

Though having no previous experience in the welfare sector he was asked by Tony Blair to provide a review of these services. The "Freud Report" and his subsequent parliamentary career have greatly influenced government policy on the provision of welfare services. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 his policies have been described as "making the poor pay for the risk-taking of the rich."

Somewhere on that page it also points out that he came up with his Welfare Reform three weeks after starting his investigation into welfare. A lot of people are paying heavily for his three-week crash course.
posted by kariebookish at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's no wonder people like him think that the poor are just shirkers. He saunters into well-paid jobs without any effort (or talent) at all!
posted by sobarel at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yes. This is the tories. This is who they are, this is how they think, this is what they do, this is what the uk under a tory government looks like, this is what all the people who voted tory or didn't vote have brought about. The inevitable manufactured outrage and ingenuous surprise phase (not here, just that I can hear John Humphries on autoplay) will be tedious and will be a smokescreen for the fact that there will be no meaningful response.
posted by runincircles at 2:03 PM on October 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


"I mean, your society's broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich powerful people who caused it? No, let's blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don't even have the vote, yeah, it must be their fucking fault."
- Iain Banks
posted by Shohobohaum Za at 2:09 PM on October 17, 2014 [56 favorites]


I thought Freud was saying that some employers won't employ some people with disabilities because they don't think the work they produce per hour is worth the minimum wage rate. These employers think the work that some people with disabilities produce is only worth £2 an hour to that employer so they don't employ them. In such cases, the govt should allow these employers to employ people with disabilities and pay them £2 per hour and the govt should make up the difference using Universal Credit because for some people with disabilities money isn't the only benefit of work ; they get to be more included in the community, they get the comradeship of being involved in a productive capacity with others, they get the chance to truly know that they have contributed meaningfully to the society they live in, just like anyone else.

I have never in my life agreed with anything coming out of the Adam Smth Institute but their point that what you are paid has no reflection on your moral worth is, to me, self-evident. If you're a Premiership footballer making top dollar then you get injured and your earnings are reduced, are you really less of a person ? Does a person's moral worth reduce when they retire ?

You could argue that people with disabilities should always receive minimum wage even if it meant they were unemployable and therefore missed out of the less tangible benefits of employment. I might agree with you. I dont know.

I wouldn't vote Tory if you held a gun to my head. I think the concept of a Lord is absurd. That they are given jobs in politics is, if anything, more absurd. I'm sure this guy is a grade A tool. But this whole affair seems to be a deliberate attempt to misread what he said.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


ha ha
so I'm disabled in about three different ways
it's rather refreshing to have somebody say the ugly thoughts people have about disabled people out loud, rather than say, a sales person avoiding talking to me when I shop with an able-bodied person.
it's wrong to wish ill upon people, so I won't wish a stroke upon him. but i will say it would be cosmic justice
posted by angrycat at 2:18 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


I mean, is he talking about "Disabled" people, who can be anyone with a disability, or Downs syndrome adults, for whom any sort of work has a positive benefit and for whom many countries in fact do not include them in minimum wage law?
posted by corb at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2014


Devious: I get the argument, but its wrong headed. It lets employers off the hook as it encourages them to not bother to make things easier for disabled people in the workplace, just pay them less and let government make up the rest. Those arguments usually do. The idea that government should be subsidising employers to pay disabled people is the wrong way around. There might be some merit to government subsidising employers to make their workplace more friendly to disabled people.

There is also the idea that someone with extreme disabilities might enjoy working a shitty job for 2 pounds an hour. Maybe, and no doubt under the current governments regime they would be forced to do so or else lose their benefits. Work is supposedly this wonderful thing that all people should do, even if its an awful job that no MP would touch with a stick.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


The problem is if you are Lord Freud - LORD - it is hard for people to evaluate or take seriously your comments about what people "deserve" to be paid when you make them in such an insensitive and crude way. I have been unemployed and had mental disabilities for several periods in my life - I agree with the policy suggestions that the "best light" interpretation that the ASI and his other defenders have given his comments. But he is a politician, it is totally legitimate to jump on an unelected beneficiary of privaledge making comments in that totally thoughtless way he did as not suitable for the complex job he is supposed to be doing.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:27 PM on October 17, 2014


At this point, we're lucky he's not demanding that they be killed outright. There's no bottom to the callousness and cruelty of these ghouls, and we should consider ourselves warned.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:27 PM on October 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


CannonFodder, I absolutely agree with you.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2014


A Conservative welfare minster has apologised after suggesting that disabled people are "not worth" the national minimum wage and some could only be paid "£2 an hour".

Who in the US will apologize for IMPLEMENTING this law in the US?

Have you ever noticed a specific type of person who greets you at Wal-Mart?
That person isn't there because Wal-Mart is trying to help that person out. Its because its significantly cheaper(significantly less than MINIMUM WAGE...which is already for shit) for Wal-Mart to pay that person than it is for Wal-Mart to hire me or you.

So, fuck you, Wal-Mart. Way to take your moolah and use it to better worsen the lives of those who need it the most.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes. This is the tories. This is who they are, this is how they think, this is what they do, this is what the uk under a tory government looks like, this is what all the people who voted tory or didn't vote have brought about.

This chap had the same role in the Blair and Brown governments. Just to demonstrate how far up shit creek we are.
posted by sobarel at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


It lets employers off the hook as it encourages them to not bother to make things easier for disabled people in the workplace, just pay them less and let government make up the rest.

Off what hook? Are British businesses forced to hire people they would rather not, even if they cannot provide a ROI?

It's not a question of friendly, it's a question of pounds and pence. If business won't hire someone because it's a formula for going out of business but Society thinks that a disabled person's having a job is part of the Greater Good, well, then someone has to pick up the tab. As a practical matter, it can't help but be a mess, but reality is by nature messy.

Or, you know, just give them a government job, government not being a profit minded operation.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:33 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


But he is a politician, it is totally legitimate to jump on an unelected beneficiary of privaledge making comments in that totally thoughtless way he did as not suitable for the complex job he is supposed to be doing.

True, but it is also lazy "clickbait" journalism. Rather than have a debate about an important issue, ie that its okay to treat people with disabilities as if they are less than human, the media is just piling on on a laughable politician because that's a much easier story to write
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:35 PM on October 17, 2014


Really, nobody?

No "Freudian Slip" in title, tags or comments?

I am disappoint.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


devious truculent and unreliable: I thought Freud was saying that some employers won't employ some people with disabilities because...
Here's the problem with ALMOST EVERY TIME IN HISTORY someone powerful "goofed up" and said something that "some people" seem to take the "wrong way" (sarcastic quotes not aimed at you, but at the pattern your argument is following): We are always asked to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt that they didn't say what we heard them say, weren't implying what the words seemed at first blush to imply, and never meant the tone-deaf, clueless and/or hateful interpretation that many reasonable people caught from their words.

Even though such an interpretation is perfectly reasonable, and in fact would likely be the one taken by tone-deaf, clueless, and/or hateful bigots and other assholes. People who rise to high offices and positions of power in the media simply cannot be held to the impossible standard of not saying things that sound really bigoted and small-minded. I mean, look at Joe Biden! He once said a cuss-word on-mike! Totally the same!

Nope, it's not a dog-whistle, it's not a Freudian slip (CwutIdidthere?), it's not a member of the privileged elite acting privileged and elitist. The audience got it all wrong, because if one looks at the exact words in just the right way, one can suppose a perfectly innocent intent and meaning.

Or, the speaker might be an ass, acting true-to-character.

"We have folders full of women!"
"Wave hello at Macaca over there."
"Michelle is Barack's baby-mama."
"Disabled people are not worth minimum wage."
Etc.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


For you, Hairy Lobster. For you.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That person isn't there because Wal-Mart is trying to help that person out.

I mean, sometimes it is. I've worked for nonprofits that have done this, and while it's cheaper, it's actually not cheaper than "hiring" interns. It's sometimes a conscious reach out to allow marginalized people to participate.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on October 17, 2014


"I would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by understanding me correctly when I accidentally said what I meant."
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2014 [27 favorites]


Yes. This is the tories. This is who they are, this is how they think, this is what they do, this is what the uk under a tory government looks like, this is what all the people who voted tory or didn't vote have brought about. The inevitable manufactured outrage and ingenuous surprise phase (not here, just that I can hear John Humphries on autoplay) will be tedious and will be a smokescreen for the fact that there will be no meaningful response.

Change a couple of names here and there and you just described Canada's Tories and the political climate here, too.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2014


to allow marginalized people to participate

In their further marginalization.
posted by maxwelton at 2:47 PM on October 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


I mean, sometimes it is. I've worked for nonprofits that have done this, and while it's cheaper, it's actually not cheaper than "hiring" interns.

Yes, 0$/hr is cheaper than 2$/hr. But lets not start kidding ourselves that we are wonderful human beings for paying 2$/hr.

There is a lot of labor reform that needs to be done.
posted by el io at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Listen, if you're a human, you have worth. You deserve medical care, decent shelter, and the resources to live comfortably. You deserve that because as a society we easily have the ability to provide those things to everyone. We choose not to so that the Koch brothers or the Waltons can be worth $billions instead of $hundreds-of-millions.
posted by maxwelton at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2014 [28 favorites]


Or, the speaker might be an ass, acting true-to-character.

More likely than not. I can't really say because I can't find a full version of the Q & A, only the edit of it (which is ubiquitous).
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2014


Fwiw, here's Mencap making exactly the same argument in the Guardian back in 2000.

The problem for the Tories is that their record means that Freud's remarks are inrvitably being read in the worst possible light because no one trusts them an inch on thus topic. They've made their bed & now they get to lie in it.
posted by pharm at 3:20 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course, if we were to institute direct redistribution of wealth from the rich, by way of a basic income paid for through progressive taxation, and thereby make it reasonable to abolish minimum wages entirely, there would be no opportunity for Tory scumbags to suggest that the disabled should be treated as third class citizens.

As things stand in the real world, rather than the one in which I'm a god emperor, the idea of reducing the minimum wage for anyone is fucking repugnant.
posted by howfar at 3:22 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


As it happens, the guy from the Adam Smith institute who was defending Freud on the News earlier in the week is a staunch supporter of a basic income - I was involved in a discussion panel with him earlier in the year on the topic.
posted by pharm at 3:25 PM on October 17, 2014


The Mencap suggestion from 2000 with a couple of examples of people who'd lost jobs due to the introduction of a minimum wage in the UK bears reading, because it does make the case that people lost out. But it does say it was an estimated 1,000 people, and what it suggests is:

Mencap proposes an amendment of the statutory guidance on the minimum wage, establishing an exempt category of special placements for people whose output at work is assessed at less than 30% of that of non-disabled staff.

Which sounds reasonable. Crucially, that 30% work output would mean that it would only apply to those unable to live independently, and probably also in receipt of other benefits. Lord Freud's half-baked plan appears more about getting cheap workers than providing therapeutic workplaces in the community, which is what Mencap wanted.
posted by ambrosen at 3:54 PM on October 17, 2014


I mean, is he talking about "Disabled" people, who can be anyone with a disability, or Downs syndrome adults, for whom any sort of work has a positive benefit and for whom many countries in fact do not include them in minimum wage law?

Is this a particular distinction that is made in some country or other? Seems like a puzzling line to me. There is a wide range of ability among people with Downs just like there is among people with other developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Also, I question the notion that "any sort of work has a positive benefit" for people with disabilities.
posted by chaiminda at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


I don't think devious truculent and unreliable is saying to simply have the government automatically make up any difference between an employer's payment and an employee's wage. It's obviously going to be checked by various measures.

Personally, I don't think the employer should even know how much compensated wage a disabled person is generating. What should happen is a disabled person or caretaker can (automatically?) apply to the government for wage compensation, and then receives a number that the government will add to the wage. When applying to jobs, the disabled person can optionally mention that he will receive compensated wage, and can also optionally mention how much that wage is, if he believes that they will help him get a decent job when employers are otherwise unwilling to hire at minimum wage.

In fact, if the disabled person can confidently can get a job above the regular minimum wage, he shouldn't have to tell the employer that he's receiving compensated wages at all. Kudos to those that can land a job while doing so. Of course, this brings up issues where people may receive compensated wages when the disability does not affect their job performance at all, so perhaps compensated wage applications should be specific to the industry of the job.

I apologize if the terms I use to refer to members of groups offend in an ignorant fashion.
posted by halifix at 4:04 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm curious as to which countries don't include people with Down's Syndrome in minimum wage laws.

So I googled. Presented without comment.

Slightly reworded search.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:08 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pharm, I think, to some limited extent, Freud is responding to the existence of certain real concerns about how we create equitable societies and effective free-markets. It seems to me that, at this point in history that we can either have both of those things or neither, and pragmatic radicals from left and rightwing traditions have significant common ground about how we might achieve these goals.

The problem is that Freud doesn't appear to be making anything like an argument for the abolition of minimum wages through implementing basic incomes. At the very best he might be arguing for some sort of functional subsidy to employers via Universal Credit to encourage them to hire people with disabilities. I think that sort of exception making goes directly against the essence of what basic incomes might help us achieve. If we have minimum wages, they should be universal. The fact that I think they're a bad system doesn't mean I can agree to them being applied in a piecemeal manner.

But it seems to me that Freud's response to these real issues wasn't even that considered. He just appears to have opened his mouth and stuck his foot firmly in it. He dimly seems to understand that there are issues that he should be tackling, but he has no apparent conception of what they are, or of how offensive his remarks might seem on a reasonable interpretation.

that 30% work output would mean that it would only apply to those unable to live independently, and probably also in receipt of other benefits. Lord Freud's half-baked plan appears more about getting cheap workers than providing therapeutic workplaces in the community, which is what Mencap wanted.

Having said that I'm deeply suspicious of the depth and reasonableness of Freud's thought processes, I'm not convinced that Freud was actually suggesting that such a cut in minimum wage would be uncompensated through benefits. His remarks included this passage, directly before the bit that is quoted in the Independent piece:
But we do have… You know, Universal Credit is really useful for people with the fluctuating conditions who can do some work - go up and down - because they can earn and get...and get, you know, bolstered through Universal Credit, and they can move that amount up and down.
What he said was ill-considered, and in many ways deeply unpleasant, but I don't think it's quite as unpleasant as some interpretations might suggest.
posted by howfar at 4:18 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Australia has this system, whereby workers with disabilities (and yes, it's people with intellectual/ developmental/ learning disabilities, in supported employment) are assessed on their competence and productivity in comparison to a worker without disabilities, and paid proportionally.
posted by goo at 4:30 PM on October 17, 2014


the media is just piling on on a laughable politician because that's a much easier story to write.

When speaking of the Welfare Minister, making a comment about who should and should not be included in minimum wage laws, his laughability is a comment in and of itself, regardless of whether the poor peer is being "piled on."
posted by Etrigan at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


these immigrants who don't even have the vote

Immigrants in the UK can vote.
posted by srboisvert at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2014


the poor peer

Whatever this guy is, poor he aint.

I tried to show I have no sympathy for this dick, because I don't. I just think that by giving him a kicking the media is pandering to those who think politics is slapstick while completely avoiding an important issue. So a tory minister is heartless. What's the next story ? Water is wet ?

The media don't want to inform us on issues. They want scalps. This approach infanitises all of us.

The only place I've seen the actual issue get any real substantive discussion is in this thread.

Night night
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 5:51 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Immigrants in the UK can vote.

If they become UK citizens. Being resident or working in the UK doesn't entitle you to vote in general elections, although EU and Commonwealth citizens can vote in local elections (plus Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly & Northern Ireland Assembly if they're registered in those regions) and European Parliament elections.
posted by sobarel at 6:11 PM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sometimes an apology is just an apology
posted by Renoroc at 6:41 PM on October 17, 2014


If they become UK citizens. Being resident or working in the UK doesn't entitle you to vote in general elections, although EU and Commonwealth citizens can vote in local elections

Citizens of the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland can vote in general elections: see this gov.uk page.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2014


They can also stand for Parliament, so vote #1 ... well, you know.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:53 PM on October 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Citizens of the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland can vote in general elections

Oops, yes, you're right.

They can also stand for Parliament, so vote #1 ... well, you know.

Only if you've been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain!
posted by sobarel at 7:11 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have indefinite leave to remain funky. I can get down, and I don't have to get on up. I can throw my hands in the air, but I can do it like I just DO care. I can blame it on the boogie, but I can also blame it on the moonlight or indeed the good times. I CAN stop the music - somebody CAN stop the music. On the other hand I am a complete idiot, but who you gonna vote for - Lib Dem? Ha ha ha! No, be serious, please.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:02 PM on October 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


so disabled people what do you think

let's just pay them according to their worth

what's that then

nothing ofc

idk don't disabled people have medical expenses

thats not my concern
posted by E. Whitehall at 9:47 PM on October 17, 2014


I Toastify because otherwise I will rage and launch into longwinded anecdotes.
posted by E. Whitehall at 9:48 PM on October 17, 2014


howfar:The problem is that Freud doesn't appear to be making anything like an argument for the abolition of minimum wages through implementing basic incomes.

Freud was making an off-the-cuff response to a reasonable question asked at a fringe Conservative party conference meeting. He was not making policy, he was thinking out loud when asked what he thought about a specific issue which at the time was clearly acknowledged as applying to a small number of people. Then the Labour party got hold of it & realised that by deliberately conflating "worthless" and "worth less (to an employer)" whilst creating lots of heat and bluster they had a PR gift on their hands & the rest is history, or rather fairly typical UK politics in action.

I can't say I like the man, but this is a witch hunt.
posted by pharm at 12:27 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The Labour leader has called on the Tory peer to resign."

Being a sociopath conservative means never having to say you're sorry, and really mean it.
posted by markkraft at 2:15 AM on October 18, 2014


Quotes from Sigmund Freud that might be relevant to his great grandson right about now:

"A civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence."

"Civilized society is perpetually menaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards one another."

"Sadism is all right in its place, but it should be directed to proper ends."

posted by markkraft at 2:48 AM on October 18, 2014


Discussion on Radio 4 this morning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p028xlv0 featuring the mother of a disabled daughter.
posted by pharm at 3:16 AM on October 18, 2014


I wouldn't vote Tory if you held a gun to my head. I think the concept of a Lord is absurd. That they are given jobs in politics is, if anything, more absurd.

I'm not in favour of the honours system here either, but you've got this a bit backwards. It's not a big deal, but just to clear things up - Lord Freud, like most of the Lords you'll hear about these days, was given a baronetcy due to his political/financial career, not vice versa.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:27 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Then the Labour party got hold of it & realised that by deliberately conflating "worthless" and "worth less (to an employer)" whilst creating lots of heat and bluster they had a PR gift on their hands & the rest is history, or rather fairly typical UK politics in action.

They can't really attack Freud for a lot of the genuinely awful stuff he's been involved in - the misrepresentation of welfare fraud, the stupid comments on food banks, the private companies bought in to deal with long-term unemployed which turn out to be less effective and more expensive than job centres, the demeaning and shambolic Work Capability Assessment program for disabled claimants - because Labour either initiated them, or were moving in that direction when a certain Lord Freud was their adviser for the last two Labour governments.

The bigger question for me is why someone like Freud ended up in the position in the first place. You're a new Labour government trying to work out your welfare policy - who do you appoint as an adviser? A man with no prior knowledge of or experience in the field who's just had a (shady, even by the standards of The City) career in finance? Well of course! And, what's that, after 3 weeks of hard thought he's come up with a plan to increase private sector involvement? What a turn up for the books! It's bothersome in the extreme for people like me who'd like to see more evidence-based policy.
posted by sobarel at 6:31 AM on October 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


You're a new Labour government trying to work out your welfare policy - who do you appoint as an adviser? A man with no prior knowledge of or experience in the field who's just had a (shady, even by the standards of The City) career in finance? Well of course! And, what's that, after 3 weeks of hard thought he's come up with a plan to increase private sector involvement? What a turn up for the books! It's bothersome in the extreme for people like me who'd like to see more evidence-based policy.

Yeah well, that was the Blair government for you. Don't expect Miliband to be any different - lifelong policy wonks with no real world experience are a light lunch snack for people like Freud.
posted by pharm at 7:23 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Capitalism will cure everything.
posted by notreally at 8:25 AM on October 18, 2014


"Sometimes a rich Tory bastard is just a rich Tory bastard"
- Grandpa
posted by longbaugh at 10:43 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


He was not making policy, he was thinking out loud when asked what he thought about a specific issue which at the time was clearly acknowledged as applying to a small number of people.

Well, yes. I think it's notable that he did a terrible job of it, and not primarily because it's an opportunity for party political point scoring. What I find troubling, I suppose, is that almost no one in practical politics appears to have given even the most basic consideration to the practical steps required to make our current economic reality workable. Or, if they have, they don't dare mention it. The half-baked character of Freud's remarks and the contentless vapidity of Labour's response to them seem like symptoms of a perilous intellectual timidity in our rulers.
posted by howfar at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2014


Sometimes an apology is just an apology.

Usually, a qualified one is not.
posted by walrus at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fwiw, the audience of last Friday's Question Time were deeply unimpressed with Angela Eagle (the Labour member of the panel) on this issue. Her atttempts to stick the knife in to Freud went down very badly.

Start about 50 minutes in if you can.
posted by pharm at 6:14 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Is this a particular distinction that is made in some country or other?

Not in the US, no. Here in Washington State, where both corb and I live, a diagnosis of Down syndrome qualifies someone for assistance from the government -- but so do many other diagnoses, and other conditions that don't fall under one diagnosis.

There are times when it's relevant that someone has Down syndrome, but determining what work one is best suited to isn't one of them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:07 PM on October 20, 2014


We also allow people in "job placement programs" (seniors, homeless) to make much less than minimum wage. I'm not sure what the justification is there.
posted by corb at 12:25 PM on October 20, 2014


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