It is a common claim among egomaniacs, at least when simplistically portrayed in TV and movie dramas about the Mafia, that for people to respect you, they have to fear you, writes Martin Odoni.

As followers of my blog will be aware from previous posts, I have up until now felt no respect at all for the Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith. But if, as the movies insist, fear is a fundamental part of respect, then that has now changed. This week, I started quite genuinely to fear Iain Duncan-Smith.

the Government is being taken to court over its indiscriminate implementation of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. The plaintive in the case in question is a woman who is a victim of serious domestic violence, including rape, by her former partner. Her identity has been protected by the court, so we know her only as ‘A’, but she and her child have had a special room set up in their house called a ‘Panic Room’, where they can retreat to in the event her ex-partner tries to access the building again; the room has special extra security facilities to keep them safe in such an event.

It is shocking, but somehow unsurprising, to learn that the Government has decided to rule that this ‘Panic Room’ counts as an under-used spare room and is therefore subject to the ‘Under-Occupancy Penalty’. The ruling has been advocated and defended by the DWP, even though the very nature of what the room is there for means it cannot be used as a bedroom for another tenant.

Duncan-Smith defended the ruling at a hearing in the summer, arguing that the case should be dismissed and ‘A’ should just accept that she is no longer entitled to the same amount of benefit, which is quite nauseating enough. But when the leader of the Opposition, Ed Milliband, raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, explaining details of the case, Duncan-Smith did something that really frightened me.

He laughed.

He mocked and wheezed at the plight of a traumatised, vulnerable woman whom he had already victimised by the ‘one-size-fits-all-poor-people’ outlook of his policies.

To find out why this has instilled fear of the man we call ‘RTU’ (Returned To Unit) in Mr Odoni, please visit the article on his blog.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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