Tag Archives: Laurie Penny

Iain Duncan Smith blames rise of food banks on ‘evangelism’ – pot, kettle, black?

Crocodile tears: Everybody thought Iain Duncan Smith had a change of heart at Easterhouse and intended to help people. Instead, under his direction, the Department for Work and Pensions has caused the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

Crocodile tears: Everybody thought Iain Duncan Smith had a change of heart at Easterhouse and intended to help people. Instead, under his direction, the Department for Work and Pensions has caused the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

The Department for Work and Pensions reckons that the rise of food banks has more to do with Christian evangelism than with helping people who can’t afford food because of Conservative government policies.

According to Political Scrapbook, DWP director Neil Couling said: “For the Trussell Trust, food banks started as an evangelical device to get religious groups in touch with their local communities.”

How interesting.

Has Mr Couling forgotten Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘Road to Damascus’ moment on the housing estates of Easterhouse and Gallowgates in Glasgow in 2002?

Struck by the run-down housing, visible signs of drug abuse and general lack of hope, Roman Catholic Duncan Smith set out – with evangelical zeal – to do something about it.

He now sits in a government that kicks people out of their run-down houses and turns the lack of hope into abject despair by cutting off the benefits they need to survive (his government has pushed wages even further below the amount necessary for people to be able to live without government assistance than ever before).

As New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny puts it, Duncan Smith pretends to be “on a quasireligious, reforming crusade”, approaching his work with “particular fervour and self-righteous indignation”.

So, really, who do you think is misusing the plight of the very poor as an “evangelical device” for his own “quasireligious” ends?

Couling’s attitude defies belief. He refers to a report from Oxfam – one of Britain’s most highly-respected anti-poverty charities – together with Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust, as “unverified figures from disparate sources”.

Okay, then. How about the DWP supplying us with all the figures it collects, and we’ll do the working-out?

We can start with the deaths of people receiving incapacity benefits.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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If you’re disabled you should read this; if you look down on the disabled, doubly so


“To my mind, the most venal, wicked thing this Coalition government has done has been to rewrite the social script of this country so that some people feel that life isn’t worth living any more. They speak in their poisonous way about giving the unemployed and disabled people back a sense of dignity – but telling people that they’re worthless unless they hold down a job, telling people that they have no right to a decent standard of living unless they can find and keep work that lines the pockets of the super-rich, work that isn’t there anyway at the moment – that’s the opposite of arguing for dignity. That’s shame as a social manifesto.

“If you hurt yourself now, if you give up right now, I’m sorry to say that it won’t change the minds of those who are currently making decisions about whether sick and mentally people ill live or die in this country. These people don’t give a damn – or at very least, they do a good job of acting like they don’t give a damn. If any person’s unnecessary death were enough to sway this government’s mind, it would have been swayed before now.

“Even one death is too many. There are other, better ways to make a difference.”

Abortion debate: Some Tories just can’t keep their mouths shut

In the 1966 movie Alfie, the main character (Michael Caine) impregnates another man’s wife (played by Vivien Merchant) and has to take her to a backstreet abortionist. Do Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt and now Theresa May want a return to this extremely dangerous practice?

This won’t be a popular post. It seems you don’t want to read about abortion from the figures on my ‘Killer’ Miller piece.

But I don’t write this blog because I want to be popular; I say some things because they are to be said, and this is one of those pieces. Cutting the time limit on abortions will continue to be ignorant lunacy, no matter how many Cabinet ministers support it.

From that, you can guess my opinion of the Cabinet ministers involved, who are Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt, and now Theresa May.

The Home Secretary said she thought there was scope for a 20-week limit (the current limit is 24 weeks, remember). The Health Secretary had already gone further, saying he supported halving the limit to just 12 weeks.

This is a man who admits that doctors have operated on his head. Presumably they removed all his intelligence.

Thank goodness they were only expressing personal views, no matter what may be said by those who support the suggestion – oh, what am I saying? The Conservatives are desperate for a popular policy. They’re probably writing it into their Conference speeches right now.

I am glad to see that my own concerns about this were absolutely correct. In a comment on Today, Professor Wendy Savage, a gynaecologist and campaigner on women’s rights, pointed out: “The number of abortions that take place over 20 weeks is very small. Of those a considerable proportion are of foetuses which have got a congenital abnormality.

“I think the majority of the population think that if somebody has got a foetus that, if born, will have a severe disability, they should have the right to choose whether or not to continue with that pregnancy.”

If you’re still undecided on the issue (all 12 or 13 of you who are reading this), try reading Laurie Pennie’s ’24 Reasons for 24 Weeks’, a blog she wrote back in 2008, before the Tory MP Nadine Dorries (remember her?) was defeated in her own attempt to cut the time limit.

Of particular interest should be number 3: “Research shows that lowering the time limit does nothing to lower the number of abortions taking place.” But if they can’t get a legal abortion, where do they go?

Back to the backstreets, everyone?