i Editor's Letter: How to punish this Freudian slip?


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The Independent Online

Sit in the corner, Welfare Minister Lord Freud. Dunce’s cone, or P45 and off to the Jobcentre Plus? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

We lead today on the suggestion  by Baron Freud, Sigmund’s great-grandson, that people with disabilities could be paid less than the minimum wage. The comments do need to be read in context – it was not a spittle-flying attack, as some have suggested – but his ineptitude in handling the question, the offensive line he took, and previous Freudian slips question his suitability for public speaking, if not also ministerial office.

“You make a really good point about the disabled,” he said. “There is a group...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…”

Where do they find these people?!  What this nincompoop was trying  to address was a question about whether it was preferable for someone with a disability– who could not get a job – to be paid less than the minimum wage if that helped to find them an employer.

If anyone, regardless of disability,  charged less for their time, they might get a job more easily. Unemployment among people with disabilities has stayed above 50 per cent  for 20 years, and there is a sensible debate to be had about how to help more people find work. But Lord Freud’s disrespectful comments undermine all disabled workers. Differential pay would be unjust and  illegal, to state the blindingly obvious.

This isn’t the Minister for Pencils but the guy tasked with overseeing some of the Government’s most controversial and beleaguered reforms. Time for him to shape up or shut up.


Twitter.com: @olyduff