“Lots of people are finding it difficult to get back into work, for instance people who have just come out of prison and people with disabilities.”
“I am not interested in the highly paid people in higher services who work at MIND.”
“The Conservative party DID NOT distance themselves from me because of the comment I made about disabled people”
Friday 17 June 2011, another day in the House of Commons; the usual daily routine of bickering, disagreements and MPs nodding off.
But today the Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies will make a speech which will make the headlines within hours and cause outrage to thousands of disabled people and charity workers. The MP will make the statement that disabled people should be able to work for less than the minimum wage. Just imagine if Davies comment had been targeted towards an ethic minority, a specific gender or sexual orientation. If this had been the case we doubt the MP would still be in employment, yet his role still stands.
Since his outrageous comment Davies has received repercussions. ABLE2UK was deeply upset by his heartless comments and made our feelings clear through our Twitter account. Our tweets included hashtag PhilipDavies and were sent to the MP alongside charities such as Scope and Mind, the charity which was one of the first to hit back. We left messages with Davies’s personal assistances, both at his Constituency branch and at Westminster which we presumed were being ignored until last week our phone rang, it was Philip Davies giving us the ideal opportunity to ask him a few direct questions. We were also surprised how direct his answers were.
Why did you make the comment in the first place?
We were having a debate in parliament about the minimum wage and the successes and the problems it has led to.
Do you regret making the comment about disabled people working on the minimum wage?
No, not at all. Far from it. Those who have been upset with what I have said don’t understand what I was saying. They haven’t read the whole speech. Read the speech in full! Nobody in the house saw anything I said as controversial. I can’t legislate what I said.
The next question we asked Davies was how he felt after the Conservative Party distance themselves from him after he made the comment. Before we publish his reply here is a quote taken off the Channel 4 news website...
A Downing Street spokesman said: "The aim of the national minimum wage is to establish fairness in the workplace and one of its key principles is to protect the most vulnerable workers.
"For that reason alone the Government would reject any suggestion for disabled people to be able to opt out of the national minimum wage."
However Davies told us the Conservative party DID NOT distance themselves from him because of the comment he made concerning disabled people being paid the minimum wage, but they don’t agree with his views on the minimum wage itself.
What kind of feedback have you had?
I’ve received lots of feedback and emails in the form of custard pies. Lots of people are finding it difficult to get back into work, for instance people who have just come out of prison and people with disabilities.
So you are comparing ex-prisoners with people with disabilities?
(Carries on, ignoring our sub question) I spoke to people who use the services which MIND offer and they weren’t upset with my comments. I am not interested in the highly paid people in higher services who work at MIND.
Some people say you should lose your job, what do you think of these kinds of comments?
It’s the nature of politics. People want me to lose my job at each election.
We found Davies quite a polite person to speak to overall, yet we still disagree with his views. Davies repeated throughout the interview that those who read the full speech wouldn’t be offended with anything he said. He also told ABLE2UK that hundreds of disabled people have thanked him for his support and the point he was trying to get across in parliament was to ask the government to give disabled people a chance in employment.
What do you think of Mr. Davies comments? Please tweet us at @able2uk and Mr. Davies directly at @PhilipDaviesMP with your comments and views from our recent interview.
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