Sick, lame and lazy thinking
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