Lord Freud's remarks about disabled people are the least of this coalition's worries. Photo: Flickr/Policy Exchange
Show Hide image

Lord Freud's slip is the least of this government's appalling attitude to disabled people

The welfare minister's remarks about people not being "worth" the minimum wage is a small example of this government's persistently appalling attitude towards the disabled.

During today's bout of PMQs, the Labour leader criticised David Cameron for his welfare minister Lord Freud's comments about disabled people and the minimum wage.

At a fringe event during Conservative party conference, Freud was recorded in an audio file passed on to the website PoliticsHome making some controversial remarks about how disabled people are "not worth the full wage".

Here's the quote, in response to a question asked by a Tory councillor:

 . . . You make a really good point about the disabled. Now I had not thought through, and we have not got a system for, you know, kind of going below the Minimum Wage.

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.

Now, 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 . . . 

Ed Miliband appeared to call for the DWP minister to stand down, telling the PM: "Surely someone holding those views can't possibly stay in his [Cameron's] government?"

Clearly ruffled by this emerging story he hadn't been fully briefed about, Cameron insisted "those are not the views of the government". He then fell back on the approach he used when referring to the NHS in his conference speech, citing his own experience caring for a disabled child, his late son Ivan. He said he wouldn't take lectures "from anyone about looking after disabled people".

Watch the exchange here:

Video: LabourList

However, this Freudian slip is just a minute example of how generally appalling this government's attitude has been towards disabled people. The most prominent examples are: 

Sadly, Freud's comments revealed today should come as no surprise.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland