Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today's meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco - DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux - sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr... Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face.

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today’s meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco – DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux – sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr… Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face. [Image: Political Scrapbook]

“I can say with the strongest feeling my concern about the hubris you have demonstrated and your tone to this committee. You haven’t explained – certainly to my own satisfaction, and I am sure anybody that has been watching will draw their own conclusions – you have not made any satisfactory explanation about how you have informed, and kept this committee informed, about the difficulties that the Department was experiencing. There has been obfuscation, smoke-and-mirrors, even up to a few weeks before the report from the National Audit Office. The memorandum that was released in August was clearly saying that everything was fine and dandy. It is, clearly, not. I’ll give you one more opportunity to answer, so you can explain to this committee why there is such poor information provided by your Department.”

These were the words of Commons Work and Pensions committee member Debbie Abrahams to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, just a quarter of the way through today’s (Monday) clash over Universal Credit and his Department for Work and Pensions’ appalling book-keeping.

Mr… Smith’s response typified the attitude that she was decrying. He said: “Well, I just don’t agree with you, and I don’t agree that we have done anything else but be open and honest about what the issues are, as and when they have been identified, and what we would do about them, as and when we had made our decisions about that.”

Oh, is that so? One of the first questions asked in the meeting was why Iain Duncan Smith did not tell the committee he had decided to conduct a ‘red team review’ of Universal Credit when he gave evidence to it in September 2012. He said the results had not been ready at the time: “With respect, I don’t have to tell you everything that is happening in the Department until we have reached a conclusion about what’s actually happening; I think I will take those decisions myself and account for the decisions that were taken.”

(He said “with respect” a lot. It became clear that he meant the exact opposite.)

Listening to the evidence again, it seems he tied himself in a knot, because he said the review had reported back in July of 2012, meaning there would have been plenty of time for him to make a full and formal account of his actions to the committee, long before September of that year.

His response? “It was an internal review.”

When committee chair Dame Anne Begg said the committee should have been told the plans were being reviewed as a matter of courtesy, and the September committee meeting would have been the perfect opportunity to explain that a review had taken place, “but at that session you were bullish about how successful everything was, Duncan Smith responded: “With respect [see what I mean?]… I don’t think this committee can run the Department.

This initial exchange set the tone for the entire meeting. Committee members asked questions and Duncan Smith treated them with discourtesy bordering on contempt.

He did not tell the committee about changes to the programme for rolling out Universal Credit because they were not fixed when he met the committee, he said – avoiding the fact that he could have at least said changes were taking place.

Universal Credit costs had not been written off, he said; they had been “written down” (meaning they were said to be worth less money now than when they were introduced). This seems like nonsense to anyone who has seen reports of the sums of money involved – anything from £40 million to £160 million.

Asked whether Universal Credit is still dealing only with single people at the moment, Duncan Smith sidestepped the question and responded that it was being rolled out in phases. Clearly he does have something to hide, even though he began his evidence by saying there had been no attempt to sweep anything “under the carpet”.

He said the whole (improbable) edifice would be working by 2016 – apart from cases involving the most vulnerable group, who receive Employment and Support Allowance. This is an extremely optimistic appraisal, as Duncan Smith is unlikely to be in office by then, and a future government may decide to scrap the whole project as a hopeless waste of millions of pounds.

There is no point in covering details of the whole meeting because you get the gist already. Iain Duncan Smith was determined to deny that he or his Department had committed any mistakes or wrongdoing, while giving away ample evidence that this was exactly what they had done.

And he was rude – at one point he told Glenda Jackson: “I have no idea what you’re asking… You lost me about five minutes ago.” Her equally abrasive reply, “You’ll have to try harder,” was drowned out as he muttered, “It sounds like a foreign language to me.”

The tone of the meeting was not lost on those who were using the Internet to watch it. Their attitude can be summed up in tweets from ‘Tentacle Sixteen’, who commented, “You’re not supposed to have a look of horror on your face when asked if you’ll make details of a public project public.”

He continued: “The most worrying thing out of this select committee so far is IDS’ constant assertion that he doesn’t have to tell people everything.”

And he concluded: “You’re a f***ing public servant IDS, you bloody do have to tell us everything.”

This is exactly the issue.

The information content of this meeting was zero – or as close to it as possible. What we got was a display of posturing, “hubris” – as Debbie Abrahams rightly identified it – and further obfuscation of the facts.

What the meeting did reveal was everything we need to know about Iain Duncan Smith. Here is a man who understands nothing about being a public servant. He thinks that, sitting in a plush Whitehall office, with civil servants running around clearing up his various disasters, that he is somehow above the rest of us and doesn’t have to justify himself.

He’s completely mistaken. He is there as our servant – to act in a way that suits us, not him. It is disrespectful of him to treat us this way.

But he just doesn’t get it.

If enough people had seen his performance today, he could have single-handedly lost the next election for the Conservative Party.

(If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can watch the meeting for yourself, here.)

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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74 thoughts on “Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?

  1. pippakin

    Reblogged this on Political Pip Spit or Swallow its up to You and commented:
    The answer to the question “Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?” Is_ we shouldn’t. IDS has a short memory some of us can remember a pious and pleading IDS that little act of blatant hypocrisy didn’t go down well either perhaps that’s because the disrespectful arrogant pup has forgotten who is a public servant and who are his employers.

  2. hstorm

    He really is the worst kind of product of 80’s ‘ignorance is as good as knowledge’ culture. He can answer anything with a stubborn declaration of belief, and by insisting that any declaration of fact can be countered as invalid because it doesn’t conform to his opinions.

      1. Mary

        As long as Cameron is still in power!! The rest is up to us to make sure he is not in government after the next general election.

  3. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Here are some interesting facts about Glenda Jackson, who, unlike the odious little twerp that is Iain Duncan Smith, was very successful in her former career:-

    Few in modern British history have come as far or achieved as much from humble beginnings as Glenda Jackson has. From acclaimed actress to respected MP (Member of Parliament), she is known for her high intelligence and meticulous approach to her work. She was born to a working-class household in Birkenhead, where her father was a bricklayer. When she was very young, her father was recruited into the Navy, where he worked aboard a minesweeper. She graduated from school at 16 and worked for a while in a pharmacy. However, she found this boring and dead-end and wanted better for herself. Her life changed forever when she was accepted into the prestigious Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 18. Her work impressed all who observed it.

    1. nina luz

      … and she’s a lovely, warm and compassionate human being. Unlike IDS, of whom the use of the expression “human being” should be made a criminal offence.

  4. Andrew Peacock

    THE PEOPLE THAT MATTER MIGHT OF SEEN IT ! AND I THINK IDS IS ONE OF MANY TORY ARS***LES WHO HAVE HELPED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN !AND I THINK WITH WHAT THESE UN-ELECTED SNOBS HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR WILL MEAN THEY WONT EVEN GET THE CHANCE TO EVEN FORM ANOTHER COALITION

    1. Lilian Green

      thought that they would never get in again after Maggie…but they did ..if they get in I am scared for the future.They have taken the Great out of Britain for sure

  5. Joseph Smith

    This contemptible piece of excreta needs to learn a tough lesson, and he going to have to badly bruised in the process as is his protector Cameron. He is going to have to learn that whatever he thinks or imagines his exalted position is, we the public will bring him to justice and the shame and disgrace he so deserves. He’s a bully and need chopping of at the knees, made to suffer pain and anguish the be out and away from any public position, just kill the bloated pig!!

    1. joanna

      Nothing will really harm him in any way, because he is well protected by his job and his wealth! Hopefully one day when he least expects it, something will happen, because unlike him people have good and not so selective memories. I don’t even think he can suffer by the law either? Pffts life sucks!

      1. Mike Sivier

        If you’re saying the general public cannot affect this man because he has business interests, the logical thing to do is find out what they are and boycott those businesses – and SAY you’re boycotting them because of him. He’ll be out on his ear soon enough.

        Some might say that this is a spiteful thing to do but it is simple survival. If you knew a wild animal was living near your house, capable of seriously injuring or killing you or your family, you’d make sure something was done about it. The same principle applies.

      2. joanna

        I see what you are saying Mike, but he doesn’t need business interests, he has made most if not all of his personal fortune from after-dinner speeches. Even if all the people he gives speeches to, are just laughing at him, he has still made money from it, and he will continue to do so.
        I’m sorry Mike I am always being told I shouldn’t argue with people, I mean no offence!

      3. Mary

        Joanna, I’m sure his wealth came from his wife’s family!

        He also declared a while back that he could easily live on job seeker’s allowance, but did he??? NO!!

  6. David Rigg

    Failed ex Prime Minister… seems to have Failure written all over his CV… and these Conservatives set him loose to ruin the lives of the poor.. says it all really

      1. Joseph Smith

        Mike, can we find out his business associates, and set up a boycott, and tell them exactly why. It could work to judge from the anger and suffering expressed here.

  7. jaypot2012

    Meetings like this should be recorded as IDS is, as you rightly say, a public servant, with a highlight on the public! If this could be shown all over the country, and reported on through all media, then he would be out of a job in an instant!
    I’m amazed that the committee allowed this to happen and that they didn’t tell him to “shut the fook up”, or words to that effect!
    This disgusting excuse of a human being needs to be ousted so what can we do about it?
    How about letters flying into the Speakers inboxes and mailboxes? As for writing to Cameron, he’s no good as if he sacks the bastard he knows that Mr Smith will squeal on him for whatever it is he has over him.
    Oh, and Glenda Jackson had every right to hit him over the head for such comments from him

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  9. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here reports the extreme disrespect, bordering on contempt, which Ian Duncan ‘Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies’ Smith treated the members of the Work and Pensions Committee. Such truculence doesn’t remotely surprise me. Under IDS, the DWP is a viper-pit of treachery and backstabbing, passed on down to the unemployed and disabled they claim to be helping. Such attitudes start at the top, with the head of the department. It gives you an indication of why there is such doubt whether IDS really did graduate as an army officer. I would say that his petulance came from his position as someone at the apex of society, unused to being questioned by the proles he feels should be touching their forelocks to him. But I honestly don’t believe that’s the case. Some of the genuine, old money grandees are people of impeccable manners, who are courteous to everyone, regardless of their social position. The late Geoffrey Dickinson had some truly appalling attitudes to the unemployed, but he was capable of treating the people around him with good grace. Ian Duncan Smith, by contrast, simply appears to be an ill-mannered, socially insecure, f*rty little man, who knows he has been promoted far above his meagre abilities.

  10. Jo Owen

    Having lived down the road from his Chingford constituency whilst growing up I can only wonder why he is still an MP, have they all had brain surgery that went horribly wrong.

    1. Brian F Kirkham

      Must have had part of his hippocampi removed….as he could not remember his own decision making or policy – no wonder Mr Devereux looked worried, the real reasons for this attack on the disabled are beginning to show – and as permanent secretary – it’ll be down to him and his civil servants to implement IDS’s potty policies.

  11. Nick

    indeed mike IDS does not get it nor like so many other dictators cares nothing for the deaths of others in going through the welfare reform process

  12. john ingamells

    im afraid this man has little regard for the concept of democracy, his fellow MPs on the committee and importantly this emphasises just how disgusting and unchristian this man is when it actually comes to the sick, weak and vulnerable and less fortunate. Duncan Smith really is a spiteful, hateful individual who purported to take an interest in welfare and deprivation, in reality it is him and his colleagues who are the true scroungers and people who work the system. The man who paid the equivalent of job seekers in feeding his face with a breakfast and lives in his wife’s inherited million pound plus mansion.

  13. hugosmum70

    isnt the coalition, conservative/lib dems demise what we are all hoping for? if so then this odious man has done us a favour for once if his actions attain just that effect. oh boy will he be kicking himself if it does though. (but then in true IDS fashion….he will deny it was his fault so wont take the accolade from us.pmsl)

    1. joanna

      Everything he says is what he deeply believes, no-one could ever change that, look at hitler! He is totally blinkered and evil!

  14. Tommaz

    I honestly had to look at the description of his latest comedy sketch again believing it to be satire. The three stooges, see no evil, see no evil and see no evil are clearly unhinged and will be in need of some TLC from the NHS mental health services, if there is anything left to access.

    But to be honest and with the most possible respect ( a trait sadly lacking in 99.9% of politicians, the other 0.1 % could be found from fraud or official error) what do we expect from the tory snouts in the trough brigade and the lapdog civil service.

    adjective: evil

    profoundly immoral and wicked.

    “his evil deeds”

    synonyms: wicked, bad, wrong, morally wrong, wrongful, immoral, sinful, ungodly, unholy, foul, vile, base, ignoble, dishonourable, corrupt, iniquitous, depraved, degenerate, villainous, nefarious, sinister, vicious, malicious, malevolent, demonic, devilish, diabolic, diabolical, fiendish, dark, black-hearted;

    Tommaz jay

    Still wallowing in the cesspit of the morally bankrupt sh** of the political mafia.

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    1. D Fell (@BadPutty)

      Hmmmm that’s unfair, IDS is a ‘Christian’ and to quote Jesus’ words

      John 8: 44 You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.That one was a murderer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie. Because I, on the other hand, tell you the truth, you do not believe me.

  16. Tom Minogue (@MinogueTom)

    Sadly the people who matter are watching INSERT I’m a celebrity get me out of here, X-Factor, Coronation Street or whatever.
    That is the real sad story here. Not IDS but the fact that he knows people have given up and just accept that we are governed by arrogant and uncaring rogues.

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    1. harry thomas

      a crowd funding appeal.500.000 ids haters contribute £1 each should be enough to hire a good qc and start a civil action against him under. we the people of the uk

  18. Thomas

    The sooner the government of which he is a part of is thrown out the better.The earlier government was mildly annoying but OK. This government wants to gag opposition, censor the Internet,and bankrupt me personally if it gets the chance.

  19. Nigel

    I really hope Labour would ditch Universal Credit if given the chance because the amount of “conditionality” it places on poor, self-employed, and part-time workers is extraordinary. As it is UC would be a real killer. Literally.

  20. tony spencer

    He was a failure in the Army,a failure whilst Party Leader and he along with his other obnoxious party members ie Gove ,Osborne etc will lose the Tories the next general election.

      1. B S Ashworth

        It’s almost certainly a ‘feature’ of Facebook on the iPad

        I won’t try using FB on my laptop as it invariably buggers it on the iPad

  21. Joseph Smith

    IDS is a major shareholder in a healthcare supply company.called Byotrol he has 65,000 shares and has very large share options. This company makes antiseptic gels and sells via the NHS. Smith is also a Non executive Director. 2, Smith is also an non executive director in a company called Nylite software where he owns very large share options this company designs software and is rumoured to be involved is designing the UC software. Share options are non purchased and sold on presumably when the company makes enough profit to increase substantially the share value. Odd how smiths involved with these types of companies. Don’t know if he’s registered these interests.

  22. gemmaiobrien

    He’s a horrible arrogant little man. He’s done more damage to that party than the whole lot of them put together. His behaviour in the food banks parliamentary debate was despicable. Lost my vote there and then. I do hope he is ousted.

  23. Samwise Gamgee

    If anybody else presented themselves before a select committee in the way IDS did before the DWP committee they would surely be held in contempt and punished accordingly.

    It’s obvious he doesn’t think the committee is worth his time or effort, and they are merely an inconvenience for him and his mission to destroy the Welfare State and the lives of the poor.

  24. Samwise Gamgee

    The look shared between Glenda Jackson and the MP sat to her right just after IDS mumbled his “this is a foreign language to me” line (17 mins approx.) says it all.

    “This is a foreign language to me” – perhaps IDS should have that on a t-shirt…

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  26. Boris Clover

    If we ever get an Opposition worthy of the name,rather then the pathetic apology for one that currently exists, I hope it will ensure that Duncan Smith is put on trial for Conspiracy and Culpable Manslaughter.It is important to remember that his policies have driven people to suicide. He should pay for that.

  27. Pingback: Ian Duncan Smith Rode Roughshod Over The Financial Scrutiny Committee On Monday | ukgovernmentwatch

  28. Geraldine Mitchell

    The Patronising and hectoring tone of IDS especially is appalling …. but here’s the thing…..we all know that he is a liar. Lying about your educational qualifications would have lead to him losing his job promptly in the private sector. Even a person who is good at the job they were doing would lose their job because lying on your CV is an issue of trust. About 16 minutes into this meeting IDS says without batting an eyelid “Every company I’ve ever worked for in the private sector” ( writes things down etc.) But IDS has had 3 jobs before he became a career politician. 6 months as an estate agent , then as a salesman selling arms where he was given a few training days , and then working for a paper which peddles guns. He was not a CEO of those companies he was a salesperson. I doubt if he even knew the term ‘writing down’ then, or was privy to what the management of those companies did. He is a bored gigolo, so has been financed into playing politics by his wife’s money. Yet he drawled out that one more lie as if he believes it himself…..every company I’ve ever worked for in the private sector as if he has managed IT investments world wide in the cut and thrust world of the private sector. What a bullying, rude, and mendacious man he is.
    I believe he has been given this nasty job because he is too arrogant, thick skinned and dull witted to question his orders, but the Tories will get rid of him tut tutting just before the next election to distance themselves from the suffering they are orchestrating, they will also slightly up the minimum wage to show how ‘nice’ they are and bingo ….they might just get re elected when they can continue to asset strip this country.

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