Sick, lame and lazy think­ing

Lennox Herald - - NOTEBOOK -

The sick, the lame and the lazy. These were the words on a sign a woman is said to have put up above a street cor­ner in Dum­bar­ton.

It was the cor­ner at the top of the brae at the junc­tion of Ge­orge Street, which led down to the old Den­nys­town area, and West Brid­gend.

The story has it that a royal visit to Dum­bar­ton was in the off­ing and the woman, who or­dered one of her staff to put up the poster, was ashamed that the royal pro­ces­sion would have to pass this shab­bily dressed group on their way to He­lens­burgh.

She said she was af­fronted that pre­cious regal eyes would have to fall on these peo­ple, most of whom were job­less, some of whom were sick and one or two of whom were no doubt lazy.

If there was such a group of un­em­ployed men there at that time they would most prob­a­bly have been work­ers laid off from the ship­yard.

The sick and dis­abled would most prob­a­bly have been men who were ei­ther gassed or crip­pled while fight­ing for their coun­try in for­eign fields.

Or peo­ple who had been dis­abled due to an ac­ci­dent at work be­fore there was such a thing as health and safety laws.

These poor men hadn’t the price of a pint or a packet of fags be­tween them.

If they had then they would most prob­a­bly have been across the road in the Black Bull Inn, hav­ing a pint and a smoke and seat by the fire.

They would have been men out from un­der the feet of their wives and moth­ers who lived in the tiny cramped houses of Wil­liam Street, Ge­orge Street, Leven and Leven­haugh Street.

In the poster woman’s eyes, how­ever, that would prob­a­bly have been worse.

As far as she was con­cerned they were riff-raff, the low­est of the low and they should be cleared out of sight – and out of mind.

It seems there are still peo­ple around who think like that, who think they can abuse un­em­ployed and dis­abled peo­ple any way they wish.

That is why it is heart­en­ing to see Dum­bar­ton MSP Jackie Bail­lie stand­ing up for these peo­ple, who are be­ing treated ap­pallingly by the UK Gov­ern­ment.

She rightly wants to em­bar­rass the Con­ser­va­tive min­is­ter in charge of clos­ing job cen­tres into over­turn­ing the de­ci­sion to close Alexan­dria Job Cen­tre, which means the clients there would have to travel to Dum­bar­ton to use the ser­vice.

To this end Ms Bail­lie has in­vited Damian Hinds to visit the Vale of Leven and make the jour­ney from the Vale to Dum­bar­ton on pub­lic trans­port.

The MSP says that the pub­lic trans­port con­nec­tions be­tween Dum­bar­ton and Alexan­dria are un­re­li­able and over­priced, which they are, and that this would lead to an un­ac­cept­able in­crease in job cen­tre users be­ing sanc­tioned.

They would be left for pos­si­bly a num­ber of weeks with­out money to feed and clothe them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

Sanc­tions are im­posed on clients for a num­ber of “of­fences”, which in­clude turn­ing up late for ap­point­ments and vent­ing their frus­tra­tion on the staff.

It must be aw­ful not hav­ing a job or enough money to live on.

It is gen­er­ally agreed that the sanc­tions are too se­vere and that the weight of the pun­ish­ment meted out is too se­vere.

The UK Gov­ern­ment has so far re­fused to con­firm whether there will be a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on these plans and how many peo­ple will be af­fected.

I sup­pose they don’t think that un­em­ployed and dis­abled peo­ple are worth con­sult­ing.

Just like that “lady” who put up the “sick, lame and lazy” posters, they con­sider them worth­less riff-raff and the low­est of the low.

Jackie Bail­lie is right to hold Damian Hinds to ac­count. The min­is­ter’s face should be so red that his col­lar is in dan­ger of catch­ing fire.

I would imag­ine most right­think­ing peo­ple would agree with what Jackie Bail­lie told the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment last week.

She said peo­ple might have to take Nor­man Teb­bit’s ad­vice and get on their bike.

The MSP said: “They might not have a choice be­cause the pub­lic trans­port links to Dum­bar­ton are so un­re­li­able.

“I have re­ceived dozens of com­plaints from lo­cal peo­ple about trains miss­ing out sta­tions be­tween Dum­bar­ton and the Vale of Leven in re­cent months and buses are of­ten can­celled with­out no­tice.”

So come on, Mr Hinds, get out of your com­fort­able West­min­ster of­fice and try tak­ing the train to Dum­bar­ton and a bus to the Vale.

Only when the train is late or the bus breaks down and leaves you late and stranded will you un­der­stand the im­pact of this clo­sure on un­em­ployed and dis­abled peo­ple.

Should you miss your ap­point­ment, I sug­gest your £3000-a-week salary and ex­penses will be docked by the Com­mons pay­mas­ter.

By the way, have you ever been in a job­cen­tre?

I’m sure you won’t mind liv­ing in the dark with­out fuel or food for a month.

That’s how the so-called sick, the lame and, I sup­pose, the lazy too have to live when they are sanc­tioned.

That is how they will have to live if the job­cen­tre is closed and they miss the bus or don’t have the train fare from the Vale to Dum­bar­ton.

So come on, Mr Hinds, get out of your com­fort­able West­min­ster of­fice and try tak­ing the train to Dum­bar­ton

Tak­ing a stand Jackie Bail­lie urged the min­is­ter to visit

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