Panellists hijack Question Time to attack Iain Duncan Smith

Finger-jabbing protest: Iain Duncan Smith talked over Owen Jones in his last Question Time appearance; this time the other panellists didn't give him the chance.

Finger-jabbing protest: Iain Duncan Smith talked over Owen Jones in his last Question Time appearance; this time the other panellists didn’t give him the chance.

Around three-quarters of the way through tonight’s Question Time, I was ready to believe the BBC had pulled a fast one on us and we weren’t going to see Iain Duncan Smith get the well-deserved comeuppance that he has managed to avoid for so long in Parliament and media interviews.

There was plausible deniability for the BBC – the Isis crisis that has blown up in Iraq is extremely topical and feeds into nationwide feeling about the possibility of Britain going to war again in the Middle East. The debate on extremism in Birmingham schools is similarly of public interest – to a great degree because it caused an argument between Tory cabinet ministers. Those are big issues at the moment and the BBC can justifiably claim that it was making best use of the time and the panellists (for example Salma Yaqoob is a Muslim, from Birmingham, who is a member of ‘Hands Off Our Schools’).

But Auntie shouldn’t think for a moment that we didn’t notice the glaring omission on tonight’s agenda. With the Work and Pensions Secretary as the major politician on the panel, we should have had a question about his job but were fobbed off instead with non-items about ‘British values’ and whether parents should be arrested for allowing their children to become obese. That’s enough for some of us to read a right-wing agenda between the lines – an aim to avoid embarrassing Iain Duncan Smith.

It seems that, even if Auntie’s twin-set is pink, her bloomers are blue. Blue-mers, if you like.

By the time the fourth question came up, it seemed there would be no opportunity to analyse RTU (we call him Returned To Unit after his failed Army career) and his disastrous ministerial career.

This question was: “After the Newark by-election, are we looking at the destruction of the Liberal Democrats?” Thank goodness some of the panellists realised this was their chance.

Chris Bryant leapt at the opportunity to bypass the Lib Dems altogether. “The real enemy is over there,” he said, indicating the Secretary-in-a-State. “The Conservatives have made this country a place where two million people need food bank handouts.”

He was trying to hit a nerve; Duncan Smith’s department has been accused of trying to mislead the public on the reason food banks have been springing up all around the country – and it was very recently alleged that senior figures in the government had warned food bank charity the Trussell Trust to stop criticising government policy or be shut down.

Salma Yaqoob pointed out that, thanks to the Conservative-led coalition (and, because he’s the Work and Pensions secretary, Duncan Smith’s policies), “13 million people are now below the poverty line and one million are suffering the indignity of having to use food banks.

“People are suicidal,” she pointed out – a very pertinent claim to make, as the most common cause of death for people going through Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit system appears to be suicide (due to the stress created by Department for Work and Pensions officers who work very hard to push them off-benefit). “They don’t want to be a burden to their families because their support has been taken away.”

She said: “People have been called scroungers… Iain Duncan Smith quite happily labels poor people as scroungers, when he claimed £39 on expenses for his own breakfast.”

Duncan Smith was interrupting from the background to claim that he had never called benefit claimants scroungers. Feel free to go to your favourite search engine right now, type in “Iain Duncan Smith scroungers”, and see for yourself whether his name has ever been associated with the word.

And, thank goodness, a member of the public spoke up to say: “Iain Duncan Smith is systematically taking down public services in this country and destroying people’s lives.”

He went on to invite anybody who cares about this issue to the demonstration in London by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, on June 21.

(I have since discovered that he was David Peel, press officer for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. In my opinion, the fact that he was a political representative, planted in the audience to make a point, diminishes what he had to say – but I am still glad that somebody said what he did.)

It was sad that the great satirist Ian Hislop did not take an opportunity to make a few sharp observations – especially as commenters to this site have made it clear that they contacted him to request this action. He addressed himself to the question he had been asked and I make no comment about that; you can draw your own conclusions.

It didn’t happen the way this writer would have wanted, but the job got done anyway.

Expect multiple attempts by the right-wing press to salvage the situation – all doomed to failure.

Last week, Vox Political stated that there was an opportunity here to show the public the homicidal – if not genocidal – nature of the changes to the benefit system this man mockingly describes as “welfare reforms”.

Job done.

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57 thoughts on “Panellists hijack Question Time to attack Iain Duncan Smith

    1. paulmabbo

      The job wasn’t done. I for one was extremely disappointed that the panelists who bothered at all to attack Duncan-Smith did so in a way which came across as almost hysterical while not obliging him to defend himself, his lies, or his department. The guy in the audience actually did a better job. As for Hislop, he simply showed his true toff colours, why would you realistically expect anything different.
      The real question now needs to be addressed to the supposed political neutrality of the BBC. It so obvious that the questions had been screened to provide least embarrassment to the government representative, it was unreal.

  1. che

    Sorry Mike, but IDS had an opurtunity here to be cut down and slaughtered and it didnt happen. An audience member should have been able to put a question forward regarding his dispicable policys, and it didnt happen. A whitewash by the bbc.

    1. Mike Sivier

      A whitewash would have been if he didn’t get any criticism at all; that’s not what happened.

      Apparently, as Dimbles was summing up at the end, Duncan Smith was already unhooking himself from his microphone, apparently making ready to escape as quickly as possible. Somebody more eagle-eyed than me observed this, and I would suggest that this shows a man who has not had the happiest time.

  2. Nick

    it was a bold attempt by Salma Yaqoob to address the issues but was let down by Ian Hislops failure to hit home about the many that have died in going through welfare reform

    thank god a member of the public spoke up to say: “Iain Duncan Smith is systematically taking down public services in this country and destroying people’s lives.”

    IDS i think will be staying away in future as he brings nothing to the program other then to destroy peoples lives

  3. che

    He didnt mention one utterrence about any of his policys, so as far as im concerned an oppurtunity was missed and he gets away scott free again

    1. Mike Sivier

      He didn’t get to say anything in his own defence (apart from a few spluttered comments while Salma Yaqoob had the floor).

      All the public heard was criticism of him.

    2. Clinton Barr

      The reason why, IDS did’nt get the tiraid of abuse, he should have recived is the fact , that the BBC selects the audence in such away that you don’t get the kind of people who are going to stand up and be counted.

      . The BBC is all part of the same hypocrasy. You are never going to get a fair and open debate. The man is a murderer And should be punished for his crimes against humanity and not be rewarded by having his £29 beakfasts paid for.

      1. Cedawnow

        I’ve been in the audience I think it’s not so much the selection of audience members it’s the censoring and sifting of the questions that is wrong.

        You turn up at around six get handed a piece of paper if you want to ask a question which you write down and then someone from the BBC selects the questions and questioners who get a quick brief on how to deliver said question.

        This is clearly the BBC Tory Propoganda Machine trying and failing to detoxify the Nasty Party and it’s authoritarian policies in order to keep it’s licence fee. As well as Dimblebores political party of choice.

  4. TM (@cedawnow)

    I dont’ agree with you Mike there was no direct opportunity to question RTU and this was unacceptable. I’ve put my complaint into the BBC I expect to get pretty much fed the line but he was questioned. He wasn’t, not one qustion, statements might have been made about him and is nasty vile policies but not one question from the audience was allowed to be directed at him.

    I’m still sat up now at 1.30 still trying to calm down. Still questioning why I have to pay a fee for someting that is so clearly failing in it’s duty to act impartially.
    expect nothing more from the weasel than to try and rush out he must have been outraged that Salma Yaqoob a woman, should dare to talk to him and about him in that way. I suggest that is why he was less than happy but not because he had to answer any direct questions from an audience member which is afterall what this show is all about.

    As for Ian HIslop, whilst he might be funny with his little quips I have never forgotten that he is basically one of them. A white middle aged male public school educated member of the privalged ‘elite’. So really didn’t expect anything more from him.

    1. Mike Sivier

      As I said, it didn’t happen the way I wanted. My attitude is that ANY criticism of Iain Duncan Smith on primetime TV is better than none.

      However, that isn’t to say that you don’t have a valid point too. I don’t have the BBC’s email address for complaints but if you send it in I’ll happily put it up for anyone who wishes to use it.

  5. chunkyfunkymunky

    I wouldn’t say Bryant leaped in exactly mike. He actually started saying ‘who brought in’ before he realised that it was his own party that started this decline in social care and wca’s. to me he seemed very nervous about bringing up the subject at all, as if he couldn’t quite believe he was allowed to mention it. Salma was very good but the amount of dicourtesy shown to her by dimblebum and the rest meant you often couldn’t hear her. And yes the best statement came from the man in the audience but as soon as he finished talking what he said was completely disregarded and they went straight back to yakking about, the soon to be defunct as politically viable, Liberal Democrats! That wasn’t a political debate, that was a banal and sycophantic fireside chat, with the exception of Salma. Establishment whitewash, BBC bending over backwards to keep the licence fee. more of a damp squib than a firework I thought, which is a shame. It was a real opportunity to have IDS get his panties bunched and spit the dummy, and thus make a complete arse of himself on national tv. instead I had to suffer that smug deluded prick’s whining self gratifying tosh all the way to the end.

  6. Paul

    We all knew that this would happen as he’s been on before it’s a walk over for IDS. Didn’t he complain about the BBC were giving this horrible thing unfair treatment it stinks and sucks a complete waste of time.

  7. Joanna

    I really did like Salma in that moment! especially when she snidely said “like you can’t pay for you own breakfast”? And I do believe I heard IDS saying that he never called anyone a scrounger! or was that my selective hearing kicking in again.

    I was very disappointed with Hislop who showed his true colours! Dimblebore did redeem himself a little by letting Salma have her say!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Iain Duncan Smith did indeed say he never called anyone a scrounger, which is why I suggested that readers do an Internet search on his name and that word, to see whether they are connected at all. (Hint: the answer is quite conclusive!)

  8. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here reports how Salma Yaqoob, a Muslim activist against the imposition of radical Islam in schools, Chris Bryant and a man from the audience finally made criticisms about IDS and his murderous policies. Mike feels that this finally cut IDS down to size, though this came about three-quarters through the programme. Ian Hislop, who was expected to make some telling remarks, in the event seemed to say nothing on this issue. Many of Mike’s commenters, however, have taken a different view of the programme, and believe it was another BBC whitewash. Some have even made official complaints. I cannot comment, as I did not see the programme. I am, however, not entirely surprised by Hislop’s silence. Private Eye does some excellent work in exposing the vicious and murderous effects of Atos and the government’s professed ‘benefit reforms’. However, on an edition of ‘Have I Got News For You’ Hislop announced that he could not see Labour reversing the government’s austerity campaign because the deficit still needed to be reduced. In short, he’s bought into the government’s austerity rubbish, which has been so comprehensively criticised and discredited by other writers, bloggers and economists. See some of Mike’s articles over at Vox Political, and A Littleecon, including his articles on such heretical economic theories as MMT.

  9. Anna

    Hislop contributed nothing to the criticism of RTU. In fact he interrupted Selma Yaqoob when she’d just stated that 13 million people were in poverty by saying ‘did you say 30 million?’ as if to imply she was being hysterical.

  10. Jenny Hambidge

    It all smacks of IDS saying to the BBC that he would attend as long as no questions are asked about Welfare Reform. And they obviously
    had a strategy for ignoring any comments from the audience about Welfare.I thought that the rudeness and latentracism/sexism underlying the talking down of Salma was disgraceful.IDS waving her off as beneath contempt said it all really as well as Dimbleby’s talking her down.

  11. Brian Powell

    Sorry Mike but it was far from job done when it came to IDS.
    Dimbleby and the producers of Question Time should be ashamed of themselves for protecting IDS. When Salma did try to hold IDS to account Dimbleby interrupted her, mind you he did that all night.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Oh, I don’t know.
      It’s hard to judge because I’m guessing most of us were already anti-Iain Duncan Smith before the programme started.
      … and we ALL know that Dimbles interrupts.

      1. Cedawnow

        It’s not hard to judge Mike, in a week when it is reported that over 700,000, double the amount of people waiting for a passport are waiting for an assessment, and RTU has the audacity to repeatedly trot out his incorrect slur that people were ‘parked’ on disability benefit

        As well the unprecedented and made up reset of RTU’s flagship policy UC. BBC Tory Propaganda machine has the Secretary of State responsible for these failings on Question Time and not one question regarding anything at all to do with his Department, seriously….not one question.

        It wasn’t even as though he was a surprise panelist! Some People would have specifically applied to be in the audience because RTU was going to be on.

        So irrespective of many people’s views about RTU, it is not our bias that is in question it is clearly the BBC’s which must have made a concious decision not to select such a question, most probably under the dictat of RTU himself.

        I get your point about Iraq and the so called Trojan Horse but the question about the FibDems isn’t topical it’s a given.

        As for Dimblebores interruptions yes we all know he does this but we also know he is a true Blue so I find him to be totally incapable of any sort of impartiality and a man of his time sexist, rude and arrogant where it concerns women.

  12. Tony Dean

    On a personal level attitudes appear to be changing. I had a long conversation recently with someone who had fallen foul of an ATOS doctor carrying out a medical for their employer who declared them unable to work and an ATOS doctor at a Work Capability Assessment who found them “fit for work.”
    In the course of the conversation it transpired we both know of three people who had committed suicide by shotgun after a “fit for work” decision, and a number of people who had died after a “fit for work” decision.
    Iain Duncan Smith MUST know how many people are dying, however much he fobs it off.

    1. ghost whistler

      He knows, but not in a real or visceral, experiential sense. It’s just numbers to him. Collateral damage. He doesn’t really care and there is no compulsion within the Tory elitist prejudiced machine to make him care. The real problem is a broken democracy and a political elite that makes the rules, suits itself, and is systemically and historically beyond our reach and unaccountable. He believes he’s doing the right thing and of course you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!

      Besides it’s all labour’s fault, right?

  13. Martha

    bravo Salma you challenged and shamed IDS. I am shocked by the patronising attitude of the other panelists who constantly spoke over Salma and didn’t let her make her point. What she tried to say both about the recent events in Iraq and the row over schools and the faked Trojan Horse letter is really important and needs to be heard. I don’t know if the constant talking over her is because she has views the mainstream don’t want us to hear as they are the truth? Or is it just plain old sexism and discrimination unconsciously thinking that a good looking petite muslim woman in a headscarf cannot possible know what she is talking about. Personally I think it is the latter. Any way well done Salma you really told Iain Duncan Smith to his face what many of us wish we had the opportunity to say about poverty created by this government, foodbanks, welfare related suicides and his massive scrounging off tax payers through his expenses claims.

    1. JCM

      Salma was bent on trying to deliver ‘set pieces’ that were irrelevant to the questions she was asked. Many of her points were valid, had the discussion been about any of the topics she capriciously discussed. Unfortunately she is was the epitome of a do-gooder and her dismissal of Ofsted’s findings of extremism in schools was bordering on conspiratorial.

      It may give some satisfaction to those wishing to see IDS ‘attacked’, but I didn’t find it edifying.

      1. ghost whistler

        This whole government is conspiratorial. IDS conspires to deny evidence and mistreat the poor. He’s a stupid arrogant oaf with power. That makes him dangerous and someone to be targeted and removed from power.

  14. Kyle Anderson

    IDS knows exactly whats going on and Social Cleansing is part of the agenda, just as moving Council Tenants out of Central London is also happening… we had someone round who was trying to get my Mum involved with Local charities but i had to tell her that she has been housebound for 4 years with degenerative disease and permanent injuries and that still won’t be enough to keep her free when new legislation comes in to regularly asses People on ESA support to work out their “Barriers to work…” How can she over come something she has no control over… ? Disgusting … I just want to take Mum to India and forget about this place forever… This is going on Globally… the squeeze is on the Once Working Classes and they are GOING to take out lots of people via the LIE of austerity

  15. Shatner's Bassoon

    “Feel free to go to your favourite search engine right now, type in “Iain Duncan Smith scroungers”, and see for yourself whether his name has ever been associated with the word.”

    So the fact that loads of people have written articles that have “Iain Duncan Smith and “scroungers” in them is evidence that he’s used those terms?

      1. Shatner's Bassoon

        Like i said the fact that loads of left leaning outlets have used his name and scroungers in the same article is no evidence that he’s ever said that. You should really do better research….

      2. Mike Sivier

        My point is that it doesn’t matter whether he ever spoke the word himself; he is inextricably linked with it.

        Also, the Daily Mail and Daily Express are hardly what any sane person would called “left leaning outlets”. Perhaps YOU should really do better research.

        Look, I’m not going to accept any nitpicking nonsense from you or anybody else on this. The government’s “strivers v scroungers” narrative is well-established and Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions is its most avid promoter, no matter what he might have to say about the matter.

        And remember – we have no reason whatsoever to believe anything this man says about himself. Just look at his own wild claims about his education.

  16. Joanna

    Not forgetting his supposed “military career”
    Mike who was it who said children in care are takers from society? I bet IDS aka RTU agrees with that statement!

  17. ghost whistler

    I don’t agree that this person in the audience, as a plant (not sure what that means, it’s a political discussion so why shouldn’t he speak or turn up?).

    Question Time has long been subverted by right wingers. Half the audience, wherever it may be, are small minded business morons and the other half seem to be Young Conservatives or student twats with no clue fawning over the government.

    The only dissent ever seems to come from the odd individual who is then seen as a frigne element accordingly.

  18. Neil Miller

    “They don’t want to be a burden to their families because their support has been taken away.”

    But they don’t mind being a burden on other peoples’ families, which is what state support is?

    1. Mike Sivier

      Get a grip – that’s what state support is supposed to be – spreading any burden over a great many people, rather than concentrating it on only a few people who aren’t able to take the strain.

    2. Nick

      Neil you seem like a typical conservative who only ever think of themselves. I live in a area full of people like you, who don’t like anyone not in work, end of story.

      They don’t even see their own parents as they don’t work – they only turn up at the funeral, that’s all. I could go on with my 60 years of experience, but there’s no point.

      IDS would give you nothing. He never has and never will. It is people like him that are responsible for all of the world’s ills.

      Wherever you go in the world today, IDS is all you see – slave labour for the majority and prison for those that step out of line – and that, in a nutshell, is Conservatism.

      They may not all talk like it in the open but, believe me, that’s what’s always on their mind – making a quick buck, be it from the public or their own parents.

      Even in business they’re always out to fleece the public whenever or wherever possible. They are like a cancer, and like all cancers they’ll kill you in the end.

    3. TM (@cedawnow)

      There’s always one isn’t there.

      It’s called Social Security for a reason even though politicians and their backers want to shift the language to Welfare and Benefits. Statements like yours assume that people have not paid into a system that they have a right to draw out of.

      Added to which the largest group of recipients are pensioners. In 2011/12 this was 46% of the spending on Social Security, the next was Housing Benefit at 14% the majority of those claiming HB were actually in work, the next was Disability Living Allowance which is actually an in work payment, meaning someone can claim it whether they work or not at 8%. Those claiming Employment and Support Allowance who are unable to work due to their illness or disability amounted to 1% and Job seekers a massive 3%.

      There is no reason to think that these figures have gone up or down by any significant amount in the last two years. Oh and one last figure for you over 80% of people have acquired their illness or disability, which basically means it can happen to just about anyone at whatever stage or time in their lives by whatever reason, road traffic accident, work place injury, genetics and so on.

      You can check those figures by copying and pasting the below into your browser.

      Medium-term benefit expenditure tables and caseload table from 1948/49 to 2016/17

      Maybe, given your statement above you are the sort of person that thinks that because someone is ill or disabled and unable to work they should be left to support themselves or die?

      1. Nick

        that’s what’s Neil means he wants to live in a country like Brazil etc in which you have to support yourself at all times or die
        you an get a visa Neil if your skilled enough to to go I’m sure you would be a lot happier out there with everyone else with money like yourself all thinking alike ?

  19. cedawnow

    Thought you might be interested in my expected non response to my complaint to the BBC regarding RTU/IDS and the fact that no questions were put to him.

    I won’t let them just stop me there though and will be taking it further as they clearly think I’m just some ranting ravey idiot who they can give the brush off.

    What they don’t seem to understand is that as I have been an audience member I know that everybody is asked if they would like to ask a question and then it is BBC QT that selects the questions to be asked and not the audience members, lie number 1.

    Besides which it was announced the week before that IDS would be on the panel and therefore it is unbeleivable that people will not have applied to QT to become an audience member in order to specifically ask RTU a question Lie number 2 or at best ‘economical with the truth. Added to which I wonder how many people actually asked ‘are the FibDems a spent force’, therefore it seems pretty clear to me that the BBC is not fullfilling it’s charter requirement of impartiality, and I will pursue the matter via this route.

    Notice also that they state that ‘changes to the Welfare system are regularily discussed’ with the fob off that it will be discussed in future, possibly but again I have a feeling that this isn’t really true, a bit like no questions regarding the NHS unless of course it is NHS Wales.

    The glaringly obvious thing though is ESA and PIP were newsworthy that very week and they didn’t just have on any old Torty on the panel they had the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and still no question was allowed to be asked.

    They have also failed to inform me what I can do if I am not satisfied with their response. Way to go BBC Tory Propaganda Machine!

    Thank you for contacting us about ‘Question Time’, broadcast on 12 June 2014.

    As is normally the case, the questions for this edition were selected by the studio audience. The main subjects of interest amongst the audience for this edition were the questions asked; the worsening situation in Iraq, Islamic extremism in schools and the debate surrounding “British values”.

    Mr Smith was one of five panellists and the programme team try to ensure that all panellists are engaged across the different topics discussed during any given edition. Changes to the welfare system is an issue the programme regularly discusses and one we will undoubtedly cover again in the near future.

    Thank you again for contacting us, we value your feedback about the programme. All complaints are sent to senior management and the programme team every morning and we included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Complaints

    1. Mike Sivier

      You’re right, that is a total non-response.

      I like the fact that they refer to him as ‘Mr Smith’ rather than ‘Mr Duncan Smith’. Maybe if we work at it, we can have them calling him ‘Mr … Smith’, as he is in several VP articles.

      1. paulmabbo

        I have just had the exact same response, word for word. So it’s clear that they were a) expecting complaints and b) had a stock answer ready for them.

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