Friday 17 June 2011 by @JonnyB

Fury as Tory MP Davies suggests disabled ‘should learn to play a mean pinball’


Conservative MP Philip Davies was forced upon the defensive last night, after appearing to suggest that pinball could replace state benefits as a source of income for disabled people.

The gaffe came on BBC Radio 2’s ‘Jeremy Vine’ programme, when the MP was asked a question about his controversial remarks about disabled people and the minimum wage.

He replied: “Look – I met a guy the other day; he was deaf, he was dumb, he was blind – but he sure played a mean pinball, and he was able to make a good living from it. And that non-reliance on the state is what disabled people want.”

When challenged on the veracity of the story, Mr. Davies was briefly confused, insisting it was true, before admitting that it was, in fact, an aide who had seen the man in question.

“Okay – it was my researcher,” he said. “But this guy knows what he’s talking about; he’s been involved in that area ever since he was a young boy, covering a wide geographical area from Central London down to the south coast.”

Minimum wage for disabled people

Disabled rights campaigners reacted angrily to the interview. “We have a government who are cutting vital resources left right and centre, and their solution is this so-called ‘pinball economy,’” said a RNIB representative.

Mr Davies had earlier suggested in the Houses of Parliament that disabled people should work for less than the minimum wage. He denied that his language was insensitive.

“It is time to end the taboo about talking about disadvantaged groups and the welfare state,” he insisted. “For example, the cost of subsidising state pensions is crippling this country. Yet I spoke to another constituent yesterday, who clearly stated that he was quite happy to die before he got old.”

Mr Davies is MP for Shipley. For now.

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