Two for the price of one. Yes, two eminent professors Sir Michael Marmot, University College London and Sir Harry Burns, University of Strathclyde appeared before the Health Committee at the Scottish Parliament last Tuesday morning to give their expert evidence on health inequalities.
Sir Harry Burns highlighted the change in society and the lack of empathy and compassion that currently exists to the plight of the poor.
In making his point he quoted an American churchman who he met at an event in Scotland; “What we need is a compassion that stands in awe at the burdens the poor have to carry, rather than stand in judgement at the way they carry it.”
Thinking about what would we do in their circumstances he suggested would be a good starting point for transformation in our society.
Sir Michael Marmot pointed out; “the problem with poverty is not that people are shirking work, it is that they are not paid enough. Our taxpayer’s money is subsidising employers to take on low paid staff. We are in effect saying that it is okay not to pay them much and that we the taxpayers will make up the difference.”
Later that day, an attempt to ensure that all workers are paid a Living Wage was voted down in Parliament.
If only the chamber had heard the powerful and compelling evidence of those professors earlier in the day, members may have shown greater empathy and understanding and voted for the right of the people in Scotland, to be paid the Living Wage.