Third-class workers: those with disability?

There are currently two different pay rates for the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Those aged 18 to 20 get £5.13 per hour, and the rest get £6.50.

It would seem that some in Conservative circles think there should be a third category, the disabled, for whom as little as £2 per hour would be their choice. I do not agree.

The argument supposedly goes that there are some disabled whose disability is so great that the NMW is a barrier to them being employed. Employers, so it is claimed, need to be bribed in order to see the merits of employing them. This bribe could, it has been postulated, come in the form of financial incentives that would boost the pittance that employers actually wish to recompense the so-called extremely disabled. Alternatively, one could just give the severely disabled a very low salary.

This fails on a number of levels.

The NMW is meant to be the minimum recompense for labour given. It is presumed that those who work (and I happy to agree) must expect a salary floor; this serves two purposes, not only does it end exploitative practises but is also is recognition that there is a minimum worth for all workers. The happy by-product is, of course, increased spending power – a gain for society in general. Those on the lowest wages spend the greatest proportion of their wages (saving a near impossibility) and thus increase the prospects of others seeking employment or profit.

If an employer could get away with employing people for as little as £2 an hour it would also give them a competitive advantage over those who pay the proper rates for a job.

I have yet to meet an employer who would see his business jeopardised by employing someone incapable of doing their job. If incentives are to be offered to employers so that they will consider employing the disabled (in itself not at all objectionable) then how about giving grants if and where the workplace has to be modified. Most places of employment should already be disabled friendly, but you can imagine circumstances where extra measure may be required. These one-off incentives make sense to me in an way that long-term incentives to under-pay do not.

There will be jobs that the disabled just cannot do. However there are jobs (such as mine) which they will be able to do just as well as any person who is not disabled.

What the Conservatives have said (and, admittedly, backtracked on) is effectively there is an inferior type of worker – the disabled. So inferior that even the minimum (which I hope that many will be earning far more than in any case) is more than they deserve.

Utterly, utterly shameful.

Julian Ware-Lane is supporting International Day of the Girl

This Friday (10th October) Julian Ware-Lane is supporting International Day of the Girl. This is a UN-led campaign to raise awareness of gender inequalities and abuse suffered by girls around the world and this year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.

The Labour Party has made stopping violence against women and girls a key priority for their programme for Government. Earlier this year, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP announced that a Labour Government would bring in new legislation to give better support to victims of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. And in the summer the Party appointed Seema Malhotra MP as the first ever Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence against Women and Girls.

The Labour Party has committed to:

• Introducing a new Commissioner of Domestic and Sexual Violence to sit at the heart of Government and ensure victims voices are being heard
• New national standards for policing to drive up performance across the board
• Introducing compulsory sex & relationship education in all state-funded schools, so young people are taught that no form of violence in relationships is acceptable
• A new £3million annual fund for refuges supporting victims of domestic violence
• New FGM Protection Orders to stop children suspected of being at risk of FGM from being taken abroad

Julian Ware-Lane, Southend West Labour Candidate, said: “I want girls in Southend West growing up knowing they won’t face discrimination because of their gender, and never fearing violence will be used against them. It is important that we continue to fight for gender equality and continue speaking out against violence and discrimination – in our local area, but also across the country and internationally too.

“This is an incredibly important cause and that’s why a Labour Government – and a Labour MP in Southend West – will make it a priority.”

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls said: “The global level of violence girls in our country is horrific. All too often rape and violence are used as weapons of war and in many countries discrimination against girls is deeply embedded in the national culture. International Day of the Girl is an important moment where we can stand side-by-side with women and girls across the world and say: ‘we will not stand for this. We want change.’

“And we need change in our country too. Teenage girls and young women are now the most likely group to be victims of domestic violence, thousands of girls are at risk of FGM and NUS report a growing number of sexual assaults at university.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing violence. That is why Labour is putting this issue centre stage in our plans for Government.”

Please note you can find out more about the UN International Day of the Girl at:

People with learning disabilities must be heard

Julian Ware-Lane listens to a young man with learning difficulties

Julian Ware-Lane listens to a young man with learning difficulties

I was pleased to be invited to support the Hear My Voice campaign.

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK – and millions more connected to them. Issues like poor health care, hate crime and social isolation affect their lives. Mencap says these hugely important issues should be debated, not ignored, and I agree.

People with learning disabilities must be heard. Mencap wants learning disability to be firmly on the political agenda, and I am committed to seeing that that is the case.

My pledge can be seen here –

The Hear My Voice manifesto can be read here –

CAST One World Film Festival


Essex Labour groups and the struggle for gender parity

One of the travails of local Labour party organisers is the striving for gender parity in their representatives. We aspire to this in our internal organisations, we aspire to it in our council chambers.

Travails? Indeed – a laborious effort (pun intended). I have met no-one in my circle of activists and comrades who wants anything but more women involved in local politics, and yet I have met few who can claim success.

See here:

Male Female
Basildon 9 1
Braintree 8 3
Brentwood 2 1
Castle Point 0 0
Chelmsford 1 0
Colchester 6 3
Epping Forest 1 0
Harlow 10 7
Maldon 1 0
Rochford 1 0
Southend-on-Sea 5 4
Tendring 7 2
Thurrock 13 9
Uttlesford 0 0
Essex CC 6 3

This table shows the numbers of male and female Labour councillors in the fourteen local authorities plus the county council in Essex. In eight of these authorities we have gender parity, including the council that I am a member of. Eight out of fifteen sounds like reasonable, if limited, success. Except, that of these eight, two have no councillors, four have just one, and a further one has only three Labour representatives. Only in Southend-on-Sea is there a reasonably large group that manages parity.

(Note: whilst parity means the same number of men and women, odd numbers of councillors mean that getting within one of equable numbers counts as parity.)

This failure is not through want of trying. It cannot be because women are not interested in politics – in general voter turnout is higher amongst women than amongst men. Women, in general, tend to favour Labour more than their male counterparts, so it cannot be that our (Labour’s) politics fails to attract females.

For whatever reason, and despite repeated entreaties to our female members, fewer women come forward to stand in elections than men, and fewer still are prepared to put in the hours of grind necessary for electoral success. We do not give up though, and whilst some of the reasons will be cultural, we should be able to encourage women to come forward as potential community leaders.

The picture in Essex will improve, of that I have little doubt. Will I ever live to gender parity everywhere? The honest answer is that I do not know. I do know that our rules insist that we keep trying, that we have women-only shortlists – and this not only vexes those male activist who feel shut out, it vexes those of us tasked with finding women to come forward.

Showing racism the red card

Long before I became a Labour activist I was an anti-racism campaigner. In my teens I joined the Anti-Nazi League, and since I have supported a number of groups, such as Unite Against Fascism and Hope Not Hate. I was therefore delighted to be invited to a Show Racism The Red Card event at St Mary’s Church of England Primary school yesterday afternoon. At some point in the past (probably nearly two decades ago) I owned a Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football tee-shirt, the predecessor project to SRTRC.

A DVD was shown, and then four of us responded to questions from the assembled year 4/5 pupils. Two of my fellow panellists were ex-professional footballers, the third had a community engagement role with Southend United FC. I have had thirty years involvement with local football – I cannot pretend to have got any higher than the semi-professional level, and my current level of engagement is minimal.

The fight against racism goes on. Over the many years of activism I have seen the intolerance and bigotry and it is still there, but the targets have changed. I recall the Ugandan Asians coming over in the early 1970s, and they struggled to be accepted at first. Nowadays it is East Europeans and Travellers than seem not to be accepted by all. However, I genuinely believe that things have got better – certainly the casual racism of the 1970s is a distant memory.

Incidentally, in more than a thousand games of football officiated as referee I can only recall sending one player off for racial abuse. I think most involved in football are tolerant, although I do confess that as a referee an element of deafness is an asset and maybe I did not hear everything that was said.

At the end of the event there were photographs of some of the Premier League teams (none of Aston Villa) given out and the pupils asked us to sign them. Now I can understand that they might want some footballers to sign, but a borough councillor?! I did point out to them that I was only a mere councillor – they still wanted my autograph. Doubtless there are some parents looking at the signatures across pictures of the Arsenal squad, or Manchester City or Chelsea, who must be wondering who this Julian Ware-Lane fellow is.

Later I paid a visit to the public exhibition on the proposed development at the former Prittlebrook industrial estate. This was hosted by Bellway Homes and Havens Hospices. I found it informative and it was good to see the plans. Naturally I had some questions too, and I reminded the Havens representative that I had suggested this site was a better prospect than the Belton Way when I paid a visit to their Chalkwell Avenue establishment a couple of years ago.


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