Church v (Secretary-in-a-) State over social ‘reform’

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith's benefit cuts as a "disgrace". [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts as a “disgrace”. [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Does anybody else have the feeling that Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, was only waiting for the Pope to name him a Cardinal-designate before sinking his teeth into the UK’s Conservative-led Coalition government?

One gets the impression he feels secure that the new position means his words now carry sufficient weight – and they are weighty words indeed.

“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said the Archbishop to the Telegraph.

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.

“So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.

“For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”

“Hunger”, “destitution”, “crisis” – “a disgrace”. You cannot accuse this man of mincing his words!

They come almost a year after the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, together with the Archbishop of York and 43 bishops, launched their own attack on changes to social security, saying they would have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children and families.

Mr Welby had himself only recently taken the Church of England’s most senior office.

Speaking to the Telegraph on March 9 last year, 12 days before his enthronement, he said: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.

“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.

“These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price … rather than the Government.”

The Department for Work and Pensions laughed off Mr Welby’s concerns.

But Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of (or “in a”) State for Work and Pensions, is – or is at least supposed to be – a devout Catholic. How could he ignore such harsh criticism from the most senior member of his Church in the United Kingdom?

Very easily, it seems.

Iain Duncan Smith has not deigned to respond. Perhaps he has a belief – he does seem to rely on them a lot, now, doesn’t he? – that he is doing more for the people of this country than the Archbishops. There’s a word for this condition that’s slipping my mind for a moment… no – I’ve got it.

A ‘Messiah’ complex – a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become, a saviour.

‘Messiah’ trumps ‘Archbishop’ so IDS has chosen to ascend above the debate, leaving its resolution to his trusty DWP spokesperson, who came out with the usual lies.

“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with Universal Credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty,” wittered the spokesperson.

To disprove these words, let’s turn to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the social policy research charity that seeks to understand the causes of social problems, identify ways of overcoming them, and show how social needs can be met. This organisation has stated – repeatedly – that Universal Credit in its current form will create “increased risks of budgeting problems, debt, arrears and ultimately financial exclusion”.

The same organisation quotes research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) which states that, under current Coalition government policies, rather than hundreds of thousands of children being lifted out of poverty, by 2020 more than one million more children will be in poverty than when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats slithered into office by the back door in 2010.

So who do you believe? Come to that, what does Iain Duncan Smith really believe?

The DWP spokesperson said: “It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”

But we know that Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted £28 billion of cuts on people receiving benefits from his Department for Work and Pensions. If another IFS statement – that this represents only two-fifths of the Coalition’s cuts plan – is accurate, then the total amount he’ll want to cut is a staggering £70 billion.

And he wants his people to talk about the money he’s spending, rather than the effect he’s having. So, what does he believe?

He believes in Mammon.

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29 thoughts on “Church v (Secretary-in-a-) State over social ‘reform’

  1. jray

    and when Universal Credit is brought forward I “Believe” the shambles and misery that I have caused will be washed away….aghhhhh…I Believe that my CV is real and Mommy say’s I am a good boy!

  2. steve

    If its a disgrace then perhaps the church should chuck out Ian Duncan Smith,his wife and his children.??Merely saying that what he is doing is wrong is just farts in the wind.

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  4. Nigel

    I have for many years thought that Iain Duncan Smith suffers from some kind of complex mental illness. However his fellow (unelected) conspirator, David Freud, is, as far as I can see, sane but completely incompetent. Putting welfare reform into the hands of the mad and the useless was always going to end up disastrously.

    So much suffering and so many lost simply to feed the egos of such lowlifes.

    Everybody bemoans the damage caused by the storm and flood but, under a veil, the catastrophe IDS and Freud have presided over is is much greater tragedy on a national scale.

    A national tragedy that few seem to have noticed and fewer to have cared about.

    1. The Swans New Party

      The Tories, in collaboration with the Liberals (now called Lib Dems), ‘reformed’ and renamed the New Poor Law in the 19th century and brought about the Workhouse, that kileld 5 million working class people, that were mostly exactly the same victims as today.

      Elderly, disabled, sick, and only coincidentally some young working poor.

      The Tories are the aristocracy and bourgeoisie of our society and these have always had the same view of poverty, that has always been wrong in history.

      Britain’s aristocracy parachuted in from the aristocracy of France in 1066 AD and it is this mindset that are our political class.

      So IDS is not mad. IDS is simply the same rulers we have had for over a thousand years.

      2015 is Vote New or Starve Year.

      But no party offers the millions like me anything at all. No even the recently relaunched communists care less about pensioners who are about to lose Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Allowance, when they lost £3000 tax allowance above the basic, and spouses lost rightful age payout at 60 women or 65 men, and so if not on benefit and not receiving state pension, get no other help.

      Pension credit goes when the Flat Rate Pension leaves millions of women forever with no state pension.

      The Flat Rate Pension flagged up the 80,000 who will get no state pension and no benefit for life in old age.

      See who loses most or all state pension at my petition:

      Encourage you to sign and you might care to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to sign, before the gagging law comes into force in September that ends petitions and charitable campaigns.

  5. Jane Owens

    Well said Nigel
    As for the clergy, it’s way past time that they began performing what is surely their primary role, championing the cause of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the destitute. Even atheists like myself are aware that when the clergy invoke from the safety of their respective religions and challenge the government, their words do actually carry some clout.

  6. Jan

    I came across an article from ?2008 about IDS in the wilderness after being voted out as Leader of the Tories while doing his thing with the Centre for Social Justice.

    The last line of the piece is chilling in reflection.

    ‘In a funny kind of way, it’s about the second chance, like the CSJ. It’s only politics,’ he adds quickly, with characteristic humility. ‘Nobody died.’

    Well, they have now.

  7. Matthew Aldridge

    Yesterday’s daily Mail, saturday 15th February, (yes I know, the Daily Mail!) carried this story but with the addition of a leaked letter that IDS had sent to the Church of England after the Church had run a number of billboards highlighting the negative effects the reforms are having with the tag line ‘Britain isn’t eating’. In this letter, which I quote IDS makes his views on the matter perfectly clear ‘I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way.’ this is followed up with ‘I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but i’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear.’

    MR Duncan Smith thus makes his position clear on a number of points. Firstly that he and the goverment are beyond reproach or criticism for any of their actions. Secondly his inability to grasp that ‘the Church’ isn’t a business with a business model that seeks publicity for publicities sake, unlike many of our politicians who are willing to jump on any band wagon if they they think it will further their own self intrests, and thirdly that the Church and many other people who are against these appaling reforms are taking a moral stand against something that is totally imoral, unlike politicians who seem to operate from a purely amoral, and more often than not immoral postion.

    Perhaps IDS see’s himself as one of the great leaders from history, two spring to mind who couldn’t tolerate critiscm, Bonaparte and Hitler both of whom had over blown ego’s, and both of whom lead thier countries to disaster.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The letter you quote was to the Trussell Trust about food banks, rather than the Church of England. It has since been proved that the trust wasn’t “scaremongering”, and its business model does not require it to “continuously achieve publicity” – in fact, the people who created the trust would rather it didn’t have to exist at all. It’s interesting that the Daily Mail has misrepresented it in this way:
      This means your second point – that he is unable to grasp that the church isn’t a business – is inaccurate (through no fault of your own). Your first point – that he thinks he and the government (in that order!) are beyond reproach – and your third point – that he cannot understand why the churches (and the Trussell Trust) have taken a stand against him on moral grounds – are well made.

  8. Darren

    Yep, there’s a Mesiah complex alright. It will finally be revealed when IBS finally admits, “What a God-awful Mess I Ah’ve made.”

    Hopefully that will be just before they tighten the noose round his neck at The Hague.

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  10. Samwise Gamgee

    “Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities…”

    Of course, the “spokesperson” is telling the truth here; these reforms ARE transforming people’s lives by making people hungrier, colder, more scared and more insecure than they already were.

    Make no mistake, nothing that happens as a result of these reforms is by accident. The Tories mean to destroy the Social Security system, and they want to do that by destroying the lives of those who depend on it.

    1. The Swans New Party

      IDS is as out of touch as any politician.

      The working poor are no longer in the welfare state.

      No NI Credits if you work less than 14 hours a week and are paid £109 or less per week, in any one part time job (each job is kept separate unlike the taxman who merges all job for the tax allowance code).

      This means the working poor do not have the right to benefit or a state pension when you are a UK citizen, whereas EU workers, immigrants and asylum seekers do have access to benefits when they have no NI credits history.

      The state pension was invented to give the poorest people an income in old age.

      In-work benefits (fully half the benefits bill) have been frozen from any rise for the next three years.

      I was unsuccessful in trying to gain disabled benefits.

      Neither Disability Living Allowance (Lower Mobility) because I did not have such a disordered mind I could not plan a journey.

      Nor Employment Support Allowance (support component0 as my works pension was above the unemployment benefit rate of the kids’ pocket money of £10 a day (£71 a week) whent he EU suggests a more survival rate should be £138 per week (£17 a day). This was because I had not been in receipt of benefit or had been in work the last two tax years, so my 30 years NI credit history did not give me the right of contributory benefit, only income related.

      The other half of the benefits bill are pensioners and all those benefits are going whether the Tories, UKIP or Labour get into government in 2015.

      The communists, Left Unity Party, have no interest in pensioners nor the rightful age payout at 60 for women that was my survival money from this year (along with half a million women and the 30,000 women from last year).


  11. jaypot2012

    I agree with you Nigel. As far as people caring, well, that’s a no-no. We have lots of people fighting for the disabled, the unemployed, the long term sick, the working poor, the pensioners etc. but what we don’t have, is the public behind us. Too much of the “I’m alright Jack” attitude, as well as actual cowardice, have made an uncaring society.
    They watch TV, the listen to the radio, they read newspapers and they believe them all, they are sheeple and I am deeply ashamed of them. To have no mind of their own and to listen and believe what is being fed to them is sad, they are sad.
    Do people not realise that the unemployed, disabled etc could be them in a second? Do they not care to fight against this unelected coalition?
    The people who didn’t vote at the last election let this evil excuse for a government in! The Wythenshawe by-election was such a tiny vote – alright, it put the conservatives into 3rd place, but that was behind a Ukip vote, and that is so wrong! People are convinced that Ukip is the way to go, when all that party are are failed politicians and mainly tory ones at that. They don’t even pretend to have a manifesto now!
    The people of this country should be made to vote – otherwise we will never get to change the way we do vote or completely change politics.
    I wonder how many strict Roman Catholics will vote next year? I wonder just how many people will get off their erses and do anything this year or next!!!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      I don’t think forcing people to do things is the right way to go! What, are we Conservatives now (think mandatory work activity)?
      Giving people a reason to vote is the way forward.

    2. Jezz

      The trouble with Roman Catholics is that MOST of them traditionally vote Tory in the hope that this will protect traditional Christian-ish values…

      Unfortunately most of the Catholic press is rabidly right wing. Even if RC pulpits don’t dictate to their flocks how to vote, the RC media certainly does, with the mantra that their Christian duty is to support whichever party is the most pro-life and anti-abortion, euthenasia, etc. (Well, who could have anticipated the DWP and Atos?)

      Between this and the BBC Ministry of Disinformation, there is even less hope of Catholics ever being rudimentarily informed than there is for the rest of the population.

      As for Vincent Nichols, it’s high time he excommunicated IDS. The RCC has a shortlist of its most henious sins, which covers workfare (denying the worker his wage) and the abuse of the vulnerable “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” (Ex 21-23). Homicide is in there as well to cover Sanctioning and Atos.

      Sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance:

      Oddly enough, another henious sin according that list is sodomy.

      Well, the RCC certainly made enough of a racket over equal marriage. Yet until now (and perhaps shamed by the CofE’s campaigning) there has been barely a squeak from Nichols and his colleagues, over the several years that the DWP Death Programmes have rampaged on.

      Incidentally I’d love to know how many RC parishes are currently engaging with the Trussell Trust or owtherwise supporting food banks (as so many CofE churches do). Mine isn’t.

    1. Jezz

      Tachnically, Nichols could deliver a warning that EVERY Atos and DWP worker who is in any way party ot a death or suicide, or who issues a sanction or ESA denial (which are potential murder weapons) has automatically excommunicated thenselves because participating in these things means they are committing a Mortal sin. (One of the very worst sins in RCC thinking: )

      And when these workers go to confession (to clear their consciences and regain their entitlement to Holy Communion), a properly informed clergy should be warning them that any Absolution they receive will be conditional on their refusing to engage with these abusive practices in the future.

      Because all this is EXACTLY the way the RCC deals with medical workers who participate in abortions or euthenasia.

      Nichols should make clear that no Catholic should be involving themselves in DWP or Atos practises that risk causing detriment or death to the sick or vulnerable.

  12. The Swans New Party

    Euthanasia is the Liverpool Care Pathway, which the Tories did say they had put guidelines in place to stop in hospitals. But then I heard on a Press Preview that NICE guidelines say the medicine is rationed to the working population, instead of wasting it on those retired elderly who will not return to work after treatment.

    Rationing of treatment against disabled and the elderly has been going on for a long time.

    Euthanasia via the Liverpool Care Pathway was the Institutionalised Homicide that was permitted on the non-dying in the UK since case law in 1999.

    What the Liverpool Care Pathway permits is starving and thirsting a patient to death, when medicine has no certainty the patients would die otherwise and done on the non-dying.

    The Americans have done the math that you are half as likely to die when a DNR is put on your notes than otherwise, however old and poorly.

    NHS hospital policy is that you cannot demand treatment and treatment inlcudes food and water.

    Look on any NHS hospital ward. Where are the taps on the ward marked Drinking Water, so that the majority of patients who actually can walk about, have 24/7 access to water.? Whereas workers have the right to a workplace provided with free drinking water easily accessible by law. No such law in a NHS hospital.

    Hospital wards are drying atmospheres and the older you are the quicker you dehydrate.

    The way that the disbled and anyone over 60 are scaegoated in our society, means hsopitals are no different than welfare reform and austerity in a mob hatred of them.

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