Ed Miliband has managed to dominate today's news cycle with his revelation that Lord Freud, speaking at Conservative conference 2 weeks ago made comments implying that some disabled people may be better off if they were not paid the full minimum wage.
Outrage aplenty today from almost everyone on the left and also lots of disability charities.
But in 2003, whilst Labour were in power, the government published an "Information Note" entitled "The Minimum Wage and Therapeutic Work" (opens PDF).
The document seeks to clarify the legal status of certain groups of people such as those who are disabled with reference to the minimum wage.
With reference to potential therapeutic work it states: "There may be no employment contract if there is no mutual obligation between the parties i.e. the individual is genuinely not obliged to perform duties and the employer is genuinely not obliged to provide the activity or pay the individual."
It then goes on to give a number of examples where it considers the minimum wage would probably not apply such as this one:
(c) A trust runs a facility for mental health out patients, who do various activities such as packing and assembly. They are paid varying amounts up to £20 per week. If they do not attend there are no sanctions. If they go along and do not want to do any activity they don’t have to. There is a production line but the speed is set by the users and if they want to they can turn it off;
Surely this idea is not far off what Lord Freud was saying today? That there may be circumstances where disabled people could derive benefit from a working situation where they were not paid the full minimum wage. Of course Freud did not heavily caveat and nuance his statement and it was clearly not properly thought through.
But the fact that when in power Labour clearly recognised there could be cases where disabled people could provide labour in limited circumstances and not be remunerated to the full extent of minimum wage law demonstrates that Freud's is not such an outlandish idea.
That won't of course stop Labour from continuing to attack him until he eventually has to resign which I predict will happen before the weekend. Because seemingly one thing you never have to worry too much about in politics is being consistent.
Not when there's a shitstorm to kick up anyway.
Hattip to Senior Sceptic on Twitter for highlighting this document to me.