On the face of it, he looked so promising, didn’t he?
When Iain Duncan Smith took up his position as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2010, it was as one of the architects of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, a project that was the first to be announced by David Cameron after he became Tory leader in 2005.
The new minister had been involved with social issues ever since the theme of the Conservative Party spring conference in 2002 struck a chord with him – it was ‘Helping the Vulnerable’.
Apparently it touched on his beliefs as a devout Catholic, and came at the same time as he visited Easterhouse and Gallowgate in Glasgow, where he was struck by the run-down housing, visible signs of drug abuse and general lack of hope.
Critics within the Tory party said they didn’t understand his interest, as it seemed to involve him walking around housing estates. Liam Fox (now a disgraced former Defence minister) said it needed a context, such as stressing the role of the family in lifting people out of poverty. It seems he also lacked the deft communications skills that were necessary. Perhaps we should have listened to these criticisms.
Iain Duncan Smith later wrote the report ‘Breakdown Britain’ about the harsh realities of family breakdown, drug abuse and youth crime.
All of that promised a turnaround for the ‘Nasty Party’, with an emphasis on helping the most disadvantaged people to advance in society – a philosophy that many believed was vital for a party coming into power – albeit in coalition – at a time when the UK was facing its worst economic crisis for 70 years.
What a shame that it was all a lie.
George Orwell once, famously, wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” To understand Iain Duncan Smith’s social security policy, insert the word “Conservative” before the word “boot”.
Just look at what he has done to the sick and disabled. People who rely on state support for their very survival have been subjected to a humiliating and highly-stressful regime of tests in order to keep their benefits – tests which are entirely pointless because it has been proved that only 13 per cent of them will be allowed to continue receiving their benefit indefinitely. The rest go into either a ‘work-related activity’ group, for people expected to be fit for work within 365 days, or are signed ‘fit for work’ and forced onto Jobseekers’ Allowance immediately.
At the time of writing, official figures show an average of 73 sick or disabled people are dying every week as a result of this Iain Duncan Smith policy. Every six weeks, more of them die than have been killed on active service in Afghanistan since the British Army moved into that country 10 years ago.
That is his worst crime – but not the only one.
He has raised the retirement age, meaning millions will have to wait longer for their state pensions.
He is forcing millions of benefit recipients to take less money by ‘streamlining’ their payments into a single Universal Credit, which will be more difficult to manage and will be governed by a computerised system that – at present – doesn’t work.
He has pushed hundreds of thousands of jobseekers onto a work programme that turned out to be more of a way for his friends in the private sector to take public money than a channel back into work. Figures released yesterday show that the government would have achieved better results if the work programme had never been put into practice.
He has taken jobseekers away from activities likely to lead them into fulfilling full-time work and pushed them onto ‘Workfare’ programmes, forcing them to carry out menial tasks like stacking shelves in shops, just to keep their meagre benefit money. The system means participating businesses don’t have to take on new employees, so unemployment remains high, and the state – in effect – subsidises those firms.
His benefit cap will lead to a rise in homelessness and child poverty.
In December 2011 he drew up proposals to stop “under-employed” people “topping up” their wages with hand-outs when they are capable of working for longer. Individuals will be told they must earn a minimum amount each week from their jobs and will face being stripped of their housing benefit and tax credits if they fall short, under the plan. He has not, to my knowledge, told employers that they must ensure they pay enough for this policy to work. Therefore we can assume that this is a plan to take housing benefit and tax credits (or Universal Credit) from low-earners – depriving them of their homes as well, as they go into debt with their landlords.
In short, far from helping to solve problems of poverty, homelessness, and crime (which is often related to these), his policies seem designed to make them worse! Despite being shown – at great length – the error of his ways, he has refused to be swayed and remains determined to stick to his homicidal course.
And this is strange, because this is a man who has personally profited greatly from state support.
His first job was taxpayer-funded military service, carrying bags for a Major-General. After six years of this, he left the Army and spent six months on the dole. You can guarantee he was getting housing benefit for it. Current plans would give a man that age only as much as if he was renting a single room in a shared house, and one must wonder how well this gentleman would have coped in that situation.
He then started a job, using the skills he had gained while being paid by the taxpayer in the Army – as a salesman for arms dealer GEC-Marconi. Remember, this is the man who would later play a major part in ‘compassionate’ Conservatism.
He moved on to a property firm, but after six months found himself back on the dole (and housing benefit, one presumes). Then he sold gun-related magazines for Jane’s Information Group.
Then he got elected to Parliament, in 1992. Every year since then, he has been paid more than most taxpayers earn, and currently receives £134,565 per year.
He has had four children and received child benefit for all of them. He currently plans to restrict child benefit, making it payable for only two children per household. He put all of his children through private school – with the help of his MP’s salary which is paid by, you guessed it, the taxpayer.
His wife’s record of work, since they married, totals 15 months as his diary secretary – for which the taxpayer gave her £15,000. It has been suggested that she did not, in fact, do any work at all while drawing this paycheck.
A more recent example of this behaviour pattern involves his policy adviser Philippa Stroud, who also receives cash from a political thinktank. Read about it here.
He lives rent-free in a £2 million Tudor farmhouse on his father-in-law’s ancestral estate in Buckinghamshire, with three acres of land, a tennis court, swimming pool and some orchards.
One would think, if anybody had reason to be grateful for taxpayer-funded benefits, and to understand how this funding can help improve the life of somebody on the dole, it would be this former jobseeker, whose salary is paid by us to this day.
What a small-minded, evil bigot.
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