Smith v Jones over benefits, the disabled and the truth about homelessness

Finger-wagging rant: One tweeter commented, “You just KNOW IDS wanted to call Owen Jones a pleb back there…”

Iain Duncan Smith probably went home last night feeling satisfied that he had done his job well, putting forward his case for benefit cuts that will push thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of people out of their homes, on the BBC’s Question Time. After all, he had the last word, didn’t he?

Perhaps he didn’t count on the absolute twatting he received from the inhabitants of the social media.

Those who had seen the show wasted no time in putting forward their opinions about the clash between Smith and socialist “braying jackal” Owen Jones. Here’s what happened and what they said.

The question that sparked the clash was about whether the Work and Pensions Secretary’s plan to cap benefits would push large families out of their homes in London.

Yvette Cooper, also on this week’s panel, said the full consequences of the benefit cap and other measures being pushed through by the government were pushing up homelessness. “We’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of families – families with children – living in bed and breakfast accommodation… That costs us a huge amount more… It’s a mix of the housing benefit changes but also the benefit cap – the way they have been introduced.”

Then Owen Jones stepped into the ring: “The reason this whole debate has become so toxic is a cynical demonisation campaign of people on benefits by the government,” he said. It’s as if he has been reading this blog.

“What they have tried to do is redirect people’s justifiable anger over ever-declining living standards from those at the top who’ve caused this crisis to people’s neighbours down the street. The working poor against the unemployed over benefits. Non-disabled people against disabled people. Private sector workers against public sector workers over pensions.” Absolutely correct, as pointed out and reiterated here many times in the past.

“Housing benefit is not going into the pockets of tenants, it’s lining the pockets of wealthy landlords charging extortionate rents,” he said, going on to utter something indistinct because others were talking over him. The impression I got was that he was saying successive governments, New Labour included, didn’t build council housing.

He went on to point out a statistic that the Tories have worked very hard to bury: “Most new claimants of housing benefit are in work; they don’t have enough money to pay extortionate rents.” Again, factually correct – and one must ask why employers do not pay enough. Why do they ask the government to subsidise the workforce?

“If we built housing in this country, we’d bring down the welfare bill, stimulate the economy, and create jobs.”

Having scored his first few points, Mr Jones went for the knockout blow. Although blocked in his first attempt to mention the disabled, he tried again: “There is a point that has to be made about the treatment of disabled people in this country, and there are two names I want to give Iain… Brian McArdle, 57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos. Another example – Karen Sherlock.”

For those who don’t know, Karen Sherlock was a desperately ill woman, suffering from kidney failure, whose Employment and Support Allowance was cut off by Iain Duncan Smith’s minions. She died on June 8 this year, apparently of a heart attack, after an operation was cancelled. Read her story here.

This is where IDS lost it. Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: “We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.”

What he didn’t say was, “We’re changing their lives for the better.” As for getting them off-benefit – that’s a threat, if there are no jobs for them to take (and there aren’t – or at least, not enough).

And that was the end of the programme. Owen Jones later commented that, as chairman David Dimbleby was finishing up, “a protestor yelled about Atos and left – not sure that will come across because it descended into total chaos.” It didn’t, but it would be interesting to know what their point was.

Jamie Laverty made a point about it: “Woman shouting about Atos on BBCQT – how symbolic. The BBC fails to listen to the people whilst giving the Tories a soapbox.”

Then came the verdict. Nathaniel Tapley saw through the Secretary of State straight away: “IDS thinks it’s unreasonable for anyone to receive more than £35,000 pa from the state. And claimed £98,000 in expenses last year.” Hypocritical? I think I’ve written a blog about that…

‘The UK today’ tweeted: “Only the wealthy moan about benefits for the poor but don’t complain about the bankers and shareholders who created the present problem.”

Mark Ferguson of LabourList tried sticking to the thrust of the question: “Shockingly, London MP IDS seems totally ignorant about the impact of his own government’s housing benefit cap in the capital. Astonishing.

“Build more houses, lower the cost of renting, save money on benefits. It’s not f*cking rocket science is it?”

To Iain Duncan Smith, it is. He’s a Tory, Mark! You’re suggesting they lay out money on public works. They don’t do that! Their plan is to hold money back, and use it to say they’ve balanced the books a bit more. Pointless and utterly unworkable in the long-term, but it is what it is.

Jenny Landreth made the point that’s been on everyone’s mind about housing benefit: “Do benefit claimants profit from their rent being paid? No. Landlords do. They are the reason the rents are high. HELLO?” Exactly right. Perhaps it’s time to change its title to one that is more appropriate, like Landlord’s Benefit?

John McDonnell MP applauded Mr Jones: “Well done for getting the tragedy of Mr McArdle and barbarity of Atos on the record. We must never forget or forgive this cruelty.”

Finally, there came the comments on the cabinet member himself.

Zoe Williams, Guardian columnist, tweeted: “‘we’ve heard a lot from you’ IDS says to Owen jones. Only narrowly avoids adding ‘oik’.”

Matthew Walker added: “IDS has finger wagging rant at Owen Jones – he just needed to finish with ‘you need a damn good thrashing, lad’ and it would have been perfect.”

Simplem+ths: “All that remained was for IDS to say ‘shut it you fu#@ing pleb best you learn your [email protected]#ing place'”.

And the amusingly-named ‘Jeremy Twunt’ concluded: “You just know IDS wanted to call Owen Jones a pleb back there…”

Isobel Waby went for the jugular: “Iain Duncan Smith is an insult to the British people. How dare he undermine the British people, insulting our sick, disabled, unemployed kids?

“He should be sacked NOW… MPs’ inhumanity to the less fortunate.”

And Gracie Samuels made the most telling point: “The lying bastard he’s killing people, BBCQT, and we were not allowed to discuss it.”

But Diana Foster put viewers’ fear into words when she tweeted: “Disability hatecrime up, IDS gets final say – giving impression he’s whiter than white and no disabled people are affected by reform. Disgusting.”

Well, if Mr Smith (I never call him ‘Duncan Smith’ because that kind of attempt at a double-barrelled name is nothing other than pretentious) is reading this, I wonder if he’ll still be putting that appearance in the ‘plus’ column. The net result, according to the public is that he is ignorant, cruel, an insult to the British people, inhuman, a lying bastard and disgusting. Wag your finger at that, Iain!

Since IDS got the last word on television, let’s give the last word here to Owen Jones: “Blimey, thanks everyone. But what a a shame that stating the bleeding obvious on telly is such a revolutionary act.”

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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20 Thoughts to “Smith v Jones over benefits, the disabled and the truth about homelessness”

      1. william hawkins

        IDS and his cohorts DWP/ATOS are at the very least guilty of plebecide if not genocide, by removing vulnerable peoples ability to live, UNCH/ECHR “The right to life” has been denied to 20,000 senior citizens PA and 32 disabled people per day, through calculated and deliberate acts which set out to remove 20% of DLA recipients regardless of the physical and/or mental abilities to work.

        The fact that the goal was set and a flawed foreign agency used illustrates the intention prior to any assessments taking place. The government and in particular Cameron are all guilty of vicarious liability having agreed and voted for the inception of these callous acts. The labour party and conservatives should be prosecuted (each and every one) with complacency and neglect of office, for failing to act or intervene to stop the legislated changes/acts or for omitting to vote them down in the house. Absence from the house on such important issues should not be considered a feasible excuse.

        They have failed to fulfil their electoral duties in as much as they have put their personal wealth before their duties to the people of Britain and Northern Ireland, by running all welfare services including benefits down to get as close to a private welfare system that 99% of the population will not be able to take part in due to lack of money/poverty.

  1. Stevie Bee

    I think the fact that of almost all the questions asked..Owen got the loudest rounds of applause and support throughout the whole programme and I get sick and tired of the so-called moderator Dumbleby interrupting any people who try criticise any government minister..but then having been told last night (I’m not certain) but he is allegedly ex the Tory Bullingdon Club member..so no surprise where he leans is there? Impartial? British Bullsh*t Corporation more like 🙂

    1. steffi

      Dimbleby was born in Surrey[1] and educated at two independent schools, the then Glengorse School in Battle, East Sussex,[2] and Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey (where he was a contemporary of Adam Raphael). After learning French in Paris and Italian in Perugia, he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Christ Church, Oxford and graduated with a third-class honours degree. While at Oxford he was President of the Christ Church JCR, a member of the Bullingdon Club – a socially exclusive student dining and binge drinking society – and editor of the student magazine,

  2. Great blog, why not post it on Facebook too?

    1. I post links to it on Facebook; the text stays here because I want to build up my readership and I can monitor hits on here.

  3. Great piece of work about the nasty p… ****!

  4. David Kettley

    er…. he’s going to find 2 and a half million jobs for “parked” people he’s taking off benefits?!?

  5. It is very telling what Norman Tebbit said of Iain Duncan Smith, when #IDS took over Tebbit’s seat, “If you think I’m right-wing, you should meet this guy”

    If you look at Iain Duncan Smith’s career – you see a long list of continual failure. He sees, in welfare reform, a last chance at a legacy – and damn who has to pay for it. It will, as we all know, based upon experience – fail.

  6. I’m one of those people who he has targeted, I feel like i’m having a break down because of what IDS is doing. He isn’t helping me get work, no one will, I suffer from severe anxiety since my sister was murdered. I’m too scared to leave the house on my own. They are killing people on a daily basis and no one seems to be doing anything about it.Somebody stop them please.

    1. i really feel for you Karen but unfortunately those Elite bastards running this country couldn’t give a toss about the people they so called represent (us plebs), i will vote next time to get these EVIL nazi right wing bastards out!

    2. Karen, I’m going through the Atos process to and it is a difficult and dehumanising process for any long-term sick or disabled person to go through.

      I put the following on the County Durham Green Party pages on Facebook, we’re here if you need anyone to talk to and hopefully you’ll find this helpful when dealing with Atos and the DWP:

      1/ Once you get the letter and questionnaire, check the date on the letter. Your claim will be rejected automatically if they haven’t received it by then. Do not be surprised if the questionnaire is received opened at the Atos office – they use the Post Office staff to sort them and have told them to open them and collect the questionnaires.

      2/ ALWAYS send the questionnaire on signed for/special delivery – it is more likely to go straight to them without the pre-opening and it means they cannot claim that you did not send it to them on-time. Obviously, keep the receipt and tracking number.

      3/ In regards to filling in the questionnaire, please take it to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They’ll give you an appointment where they will go through the form with you, help you fill it and will give you advice in regards to the assessment itself. They will also keep your details on file so that, in the likely event of having to go to appeal, they can set it up for you quickly and easily.

      4/ Keep photocopies of the questionnaire and any correspondence regarding your claim. Take a copy of the completed questionnaire in with you so you can keep tabs on what they’re doing/asking. Always keep copies at home.

      5/ Take copies of any evidence you send in to them, and send as much as you can, particularly doctors/specialists letters.

      6/ They do have the right to request to take a copy of any notes you take in with you or make during the assessment. They *cannot* keep them, stop you from taking them or threaten to stop the assessment or your benefits if you won’t let them keep them.

      7/ You have a right to request a transcript of the meeting, a copy of the notes and any other information they have on you or have put together during your assessment. They can take up to 21 days to provide this but you can ask on the day of assessment. Do so, and if they are unable to provide the information put it in writing to the assessment centre, to the DWP, local Jobcentre and to the Atos head office (details will be on your letter). You will need to advise that you are requesting under the Freedom of Information act and that you have a legal right to any information regarding yourself.

      8/ DO NOT be confrontational. It can easily go against you if the assessor takes an immediate dislike to you, even though it is a very stressful situation to be in please stay calm.

      9/ Take someone in with you. They may think of something you don’t and will be able to offer an alternative view of the assessment and assessor. Get them to write down what happened during the assessment as soon it is finished. It may be helpful should you need to appeal the decision.

      10/ Contact the Disability Law Service. This can be done before the initial assessment and they can offer further, free advice. They can help with appeals, should you need it, and currently they are looking for people who are going through the Atos process to help them put together a review/paper to take to government. They can be found at http://www.dls.org.uk.

      Please forgive me for putting so much onto your webpage – I am going through the Atos assessment myself and was offered the above information from my specialist, specialist nurse, CAB in Durham and the Disability Law Service. If possible, I’d like it to help stop this practice and kick Atos out of our country.

  7. The Goon Show summed it up best: “He was the nearest thing I’d seen to a human being, without actually being one”.

    1. Clif

      New chant for when in the Presence of ‘ IDS’ and his eb ntorauge …a football like song well known on terraces…the Words

      “Ian Duncan Smiths Black Shirt Army…
      “Ian Duncan Smiths Black Shirt Army….

      Should make him feel at home if at every appearance it was sung as ‘adoration’ to and for the man….let HIM know his place.

      Also usefull at ATOS, DWP and Job Centres to let them know their place and purpose.

  8. […] I’d like to see him joined by Michael Meacher and Owen Jones, at the very least. A rematch between Smith and Jones would be terrific television (but it is […]

  9. Reblogged this on uppitymonkey and commented:
    Just wanted to share this because it reflects one of the most important fights going on in the UK right now. For myself, I think Smith deserves prison time for what he has been doing, let alone lose his job.

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