The title is what I was called on Twitter yesterday by Times columnist Libby Purves for challenging her article supporting the one by Rosa Monckton in The Spectator advocating that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage (she's specifically talking about people with severe Learning Disabilities but seeing as a) LDs are a spectrum and b) you're setting a legal precedent the issue is much wider). Purves' article was shocking in its savagery, lashing out at anyone who refused to support Monckton and who argued disabled people are worth an equal wage. She's the only person I've ever seen defend that Tory social neanderthal Philip Davies MP, who even other Tories think is beyond the pale. The one thing missing from Purves' article, any opinion from a disabled person...
As for Rosa Monckton, the fawning over 'friend of Princess Diana' by the BBC was stomach-churning. Perhaps more relevantly, she's the Honorable Rosa, daughter of a Viscount* and married to Dominic Lawson, who is the son of Thatcher's Chancellor, Dominic Lawson, and former editor of both The Spectator and the Sunday Torygraph. She does have a reason to be talking about this, a daughter with Downs Syndrome, so that's her own daughter she's arguing is worth less. But someone whose Twitter profile claims "Champagne is the answer" and is the former chief exec of Tiffanys, never mind the family connections, is arguing from a position of significant privilege**
The argument has been very heavy on the 'we're parents, we have to advocate for our children, we know what's best', which they might have a better chance of carrying off if they weren't trying to shut down disabled people attempting to comment, and apparently completely ignorant that there are a lot of very eloquent LD self-advocates, never mind the whole history of parents campaigning for what they want and not what we want that's wrapped up in the Autism Speaks/Actually Autistic campaigns.
So I've been thinking about this view that we should be paid less than the minimum wage, and I think it comes down to a conflation of two separate problems:
First the idea that disabled people aren't as able, which is an aspect of workplace disability discrimination (and wider social discrimination). This is grows out of the (illegal) demand we all be identical cogs in the production machine. It's based on a presumption of incompetence and defending the right of employers to that view.
The second is a presumption that worth and dignity can only proceed from having a job - that's clearly visible in Monckton's piece. It's probably not entirely coincidental that this has come out in the wake of the Green Paper on Work and Health which preaches a similar view. The reality of disability is many disabled people can't hold down a job. Whether you're averbal, or can argue eloquently is irrelevant. Our worth isn't defined by holding down a job, our worth is equal whether we do or we don't, whether we can or we can't. Society fails disabled ppl when it devalues us over our employment status. And that's what the pay less than minimum wage argument does.
We've misread the whole discussion.These aren't the views of concerned parents. they're the views of hardline Tories.*A friend just pointed out her brother, the current Viscount Monckton, was sacked as vice president of UKIP and has views on gay rights so extreme even UKIP would be embarrassed.
** I wouldn't normally make a point based on class privilege, but in this case I think it's central to the discussion - Monckton can afford for her daughter to be paid less, that's not necessarily true of families or individual disabled people in more straitened circumstances.