Iain Duncan Smith IS living in cloud cuckoo land – while accusing the rest of us of doing the same

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Iain Duncan Smith’s claim that I, Daniel Blake is not factually accurate really is beyond the pale.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary, who lied, bluffed and fabricated his way through nearly six years of accusations that his department’s decisions were causing the deaths of benefit claimants, appears to be continuing in the same vein now.

So when he said, on the BBC’s Today programme, “The film has taken the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody, lump it all together, and say this is life absolutely as it lived by people and I don’t believe that,” I knew to take that with a hundredweight of salt.

His claim that “This idea that everybody is out to crunch you has really hurt a lot of Job Centre staff” is a classic Tory tactic – “Look, you’re hurting people just like you! Stop it!” Except, of course, Job Centre staff aren’t all just like us – especially those who give the orders and set the target numbers to be cleared off the benefit books.

(I certainly hope nobody is stupid enough to try to deny that this happens, as we have photographic evidence of it.)

“When we [the Conservative Party] came back in 2010 you had one of the worst situations, some of the highest number of long term unemployed we had ever had and a lot of people who simply weren’t able to get the right support and assistance. The system has turned this around dramatically,” he said. Quite right. Now a lot of people simply aren’t able to get the right support and assistance, and the country has some of the highest number of long term unemployed it has ever had.

(If you’re confused by the significance of me merely reversing what he said, bear in mind that he said the system had “turned this around”. He said nothing about either of those issues being reduced.)

His comments were really just more nonsense dissembling. There’s no substance to them at all – so, when I, Daniel Blake producer Rebecca O’Brien told the i that IDS was living in cloud cuckoo land, I could do nothing but agree.

“Some people have had far worse lives than Daniel Blake,” Rebecca O’Brien tells the i. “We could have been far more scathing, but we were worried that we wouldn’t have been believed.

“If [Duncan Smith] doesn’t think the film is realistic, then the man is living in cloud cuckoo land,” counters O’Brien.

She points to the thorough research conducted by Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty, the director’s longtime collaborator. “Every plot element is backed up by 20, 50, 100 real-life cases. Just look at social media, or the comment sections under articles about the film, since its release. People are sharing similar stories all the time.”

Since the film’s release, several critics have condemned it for unsubtle characterisation: the hero is virtuous, the Jobcentre staff heartless.

In her Sunday Times review, Camilla Long wrote that she would have “preferred to watch a ragged, possibly drunk housewife trying to print out her boarding pass. It would be more unpredictable, more gritty, more real.” The Daily Mail‘s Toby Young calls Blake “a welfare claimant as imagined by a member of the upper-middle class metropolitan elite”.

O’Brien has no truck with this line of criticism. “Toby Young complains that Daniel never drinks or smokes,” she says. “He’s just had a heart attack, for god’s sake!

“Ultimately, these characters are like you or me. Daniel can’t get through the 52-page document you need to fill out in order to claim benefits. But then nor could Dave [Johns, who plays Daniel Blake], during rehearsals. It’s just too gruelling.”

In his six years at the helm of the Department of Work and Pensions, Duncan Smith presided over £15 billion of cuts to the benefits system. His highly controversial overhaul of the welfare state is the subtext to the film’s plot: one furious character even rages about “that baldy twat Iain Duncan Whatshisface”.

The MP resigned from the post in March 2016 over the extent of the cuts imposed on the department by David Cameron and George Osborne, then prime minister and chancellor. In his Today interview, Duncan Smith called on Theresa May to reverse a further £3.4 billion of planned cuts to the benefits system.

Ms O’Brien is right to point to the huge amount of material published on the social media, showing the extent of the damage caused by Duncan Smith’s £15 billion of cuts. The DWP is a big department – the government’s biggest – and this means it is capable of extreme harm.

Duncan Smith spent years trying to talk down the evidence of it – unfortunately with a large amount of success, thanks to the collusion of the right-wing media who were cheerleading for him and a supine post-New Labour opposition.

But the evidence is there. All you have to do is ask a search engine and you can find hundreds of stories showing how the benefit system has hurt people – people with worse conditions than Daniel Blake. Try it.

The comment about the ESA50 form that must be filled out by claimants is spot-on. For several years now, the advice from people in the know is that claimants should always seek help from people with experience, from one of the help organisations that have sprung up since the Tories took over the DWP in 2010, and should on no account attempt to fill out the form alone. That simply leads to refusal.

Let’s be honest, though.

We all know why Iain Duncan Smith doesn’t like the film.

It’s the reference to him as “that baldy twat Iain Duncan Whatshisface”.

Source: I, Daniel Blake producer responds to Toby Young, Iain Duncan Smith criticism – The i newspaper online iNews

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10 thoughts on “Iain Duncan Smith IS living in cloud cuckoo land – while accusing the rest of us of doing the same

  1. John

    I wonder how much more of his cr*p we are going to have to put up with before he is put behind bars? Not too long I hope!

  2. Justin

    Ian is such a nice person, how can we be so cruel, and the film how horrible, what is horrible about something that tell’s the truth, nothing springs to mind, as for ids and his cronies well look at the state of who they employ to assess and then look at the amount of re-admissions etc caused by the state of the examination of who has carried out the assessment, there needs to be another film and that should follow after ids and is fist pumping cronies are hauled into a scottish court and asked to explain misconduct in public office and hopefully jailed. it could be called i ds and how such a popular person tried to survive a system that him and his policies have probably put people in, horrible person and there a few others just like him, most of them shared the pretty red bus, they are incompetent horrible and untrustworthy and they should not be allowed to talk let alone sit in parliament

  3. jaguarjon

    I worked in Jobcentres between ’76 and ’81. We were proud of the service we offered; it was widely considered to be the best recruitment agency in the world. There were proper dedicated services: Disabled Resettlement, Professional & Executive Recruitment. In my time, two film crews visited to see how we worked so successfully.
    The ‘problem’ was that private sector agencies weren’t good enough to compete so, come May ’79, Thatcher stuck the knife in immediately. The head of the Employment Services Department was replaced with a Tory stooge and it all went down the pan rapidly after that.
    When I returned to the UK in 2013 I found the service wasn’t a service anymore. Long service staff were all looking to get out because they wanted to help people not humiliate and harass them.
    There were cuts upon cuts. In the beginning there were job terminals for applications – removed. There were three phones for jobseekers, reduced to one then none. These were all replaced by one internet terminal that you had to book ahead.
    Staff told me about continuous bullying by management. Targets. Penalties. G4S staff for out of control ‘clients’ which happened more and more as frustrations mounted. You even had to pay for your own photocopying elsewhere.
    I can’t afford to see the film but I don’t need to. I live it.
    In any just world, IDS would be banged up for life. Let’s hope karma really does work.

  4. Michael Broadhurst

    the gentleman ranker was the 2nd biggest liar in the Tory government,2nd to his boss the biggest lying PM we’ve ever had,who soon threw his toys out of the pram and resigned when the EU referendum didn’t go his way.

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    I am sure that you are just as much for decent employers and entrepreneurs as I Mike, but the problem in this country is not those but the cheating devious ones who want this Tory government in order to make certain that they enjoy their extravagant and repulsively ostentatious life-styles at the expense of fairness for all and if that means food-banks and homelessness just too bad as long as they don’t have to play fair.

    We need Labour to sort itself out quickly and to get behind a decent leader i.e., Jeremy Corbyn.

  6. Brian

    In defense of Iain Duncan Smith, he is a highly complex character, we must appreciate what he has been through. Forced into government from a young age, influenced and groomed to exercise his prejudices, thrust onto the board of social evaluators, and then vilified for his efforts. Who could not have sympathy with his cause, however misguided, no, you know what, “that baldy twat Iain Duncan Whatshisface” deserves all he gets.

  7. jeffrey davies

    Hague calling for his crimes against humanity christian hay nah just another greedie devil jeff3

  8. mohandeer

    ““When we [the Conservative Party] came back in 2010 you had one of the worst situations, some of the highest number of long term unemployed we had ever had and a lot of people who simply weren’t able to get the right support and assistance. The system has turned this around dramatically,”
    It most certainly did, thousands of those long term unemployed are no longer long term unemployed – they’re dead.

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