Tag Archives: Secretary of State

Iain Duncan Smith – the Musical!

When he realises we’ve started making satirical music videos about him, Iain Duncan Smith will probably think he’s hit the big time.

Sad, deluded little man.

This is a project that has been developing for a while, after RTU himself went around the media, denying all the factual evidence that said his benefit cap had not put 12,000 people into work, as he was then claiming.

(A previous claim that 8,000 had gone into employment to avoid the effect of the benefit cap had been disproved by polling organisation Ipsos Mori, who surveyed 500 of those 8,000 people and found that only 45 had started work because of the cap. That’s nine per cent of the total claimed by the Secretary-in-a-State).

On this particular media junket, he refused to countenance the factual evidence that was put in front of him, saying he “believed” the anecdotal evidence provided to him by a few members of staff at Job Centre Plus.

That is now worthy of comment in itself, as he has been quick to dismiss the findings of the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, as “anecdotal” – and she has spoken to far more people than he did!

Inevitably, Vox Political published an article on the subject and – because the SoS had made it a matter of belief, prefaced the story with a few verses that could be sung to the old Not The Nine o’clock News/Rowan Atkinson song ‘I Believe‘.

That would have been the end of it – but then it became clear that Mr … Smith was delaying a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions committee, convened to make him account for his manipulation of the statistics.

It seems clear that he has been waiting for the fuss to die down.

Dear reader, you can probably work out the rest for yourself. The lyrics and music were available and, with the addition of a few more words, Vox Political went into the recording studio.

The audio track that resulted is rudimentary but does the job. Yes, that is Vox founder Mike Sivier’s voice, for which he apologises. He played all the instruments as well, so he supposes he should be doubly apologetic.

The video was put together with photographs trawled from the Internet, interspersed with specially-written captions, and is intended only to give YouTube viewers something visual to enjoy while they’re listening to the song. All the images are copyright their respective creators and were freely stolen for humorous use – for which, again, we apologise.

We think the result is a lot of fun – amateurish, haphazard and slapdash though it is.

It gets the point across.

Please feel free to copy the code and embed the YouTube video anywhere you see fit. This was made to be seen, to be enjoyed, and to get across a message about Iain Duncan Smith and his beliefs.

We hope you all enjoy it!

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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IDS – the most vile product of ‘welfare UK’

The parallel here should be obvious to anyone who's seen the newspapers today.

The parallel here should be obvious to anyone who’s seen the newspapers today.

Dept. of ‘Giving Them A Taste Of Their Own Medicine’: The Daily Mail’s front page today is itself, of course, entirely vile.

It is an attempt to make us believe that every single benefit claimant in the UK is as evil as Mick or Mairead Philpott, who were convicted yesterday of killing six of their own children.

The claim is the kind of utter nonsense we have come to expect from the paper commonly dubbed the ‘Daily Heil’ or (as in the image above) the ‘Daily Fail’ – and it has sparked widespread fury.

We all know that it is ridiculous to claim that everybody on social security benefits is evil.

And we all know that you don’t have to be an evil person to receive social security benefits – look at the current government!

In fact, let’s look at the Secretary of State responsible for social security benefits – he likes to call them “welfare”, possibly because it gives him a feeling of superiority over their recipients. This is interesting in itself, because he used to be one of them.

Iain Duncan Smith was on the dole for several months during 1981, after leaving the Scots Guards, where he famously enjoyed a career as a bag-carrier for a higher-ranking officer. Did he get out by finding a job? Hard to tell. What we do know is that he married the very wealthy Betsy, daughter of a very wealthy man, the following year. In other words, he got off benefits by marrying into money. That’s not evil in itself, but how many of us have that option?

I don’t propose to rehash the hypocrisies of Iain Duncan Smith in full here, but I will quote three relevant paragraphs from the Edinburgh Eye piece I reblogged earlier today, as follows:

“He has four children, yet argues that families with more than two children ought to be sanctioned: in 2009 he took six months paid leave without notice to care for his wife when she was desperately ill, yet has instigated changes in benefit to ensure that neither sick people nor their carers will be supported. In 1981, jobless and unqualified, he took full advantage of the welfare safety net to claim benefits for months while looking for suitable work, yet in a recession as bad as that of thirty years ago he claims graduates are “snooty” if they don’t agree to work for Poundland for free. While attending further education for two short periods, IDS gained no qualifications, and asserts that shelf-stackers are more valuable than scientists. While benefiting hugely from MP expenses, Iain Duncan Smith tells many untruths about the cost of people claiming disability and welfare benefits.

“Iain Duncan Smith has made many speeches in favour of law and order. Yet when IDS’s workfare sanctions were ruled unlawful by the courts, instead of accepting that millions taken unlawfully would have to be repaid and that people unlawfully made to work for commercial organisations for free had a claim to minimum wage for their hours (or, if determined to fight lawfully for welfare, proceding to the Supreme Court for a further appeal) IDS decided to have emergency legislation passed making his unlawful sanctions retroactively lawful.

“Iain Duncan Smith lives in a large and comfortable home which he does not own and which it’s doubtful he pays market rent for, yet has instigated the bedroom tax. The idea behind the “bedroom tax” is that the housing shortage can be remedied not by building more social housing or by preventing bankers from gambling on house price rises, but by forcing people who live in social housing and have a “spare room”, to move out into private rented accommodation of a more suitable size. This won’t save money at any level (Iain Duncan Smith calls this the ending the spare-room subsidy).”

And there remains the matter of the 73 people per week, on average (and that average was reported nearly a year ago, so it may well have risen massively since then), who are dying as a result of the pressures put on them by the merciless Employment and Support Allowance assessment regime for people who have long-term sicknesses or are disabled.

If the Philpotts are a “vile product of welfare UK”, then is Iain Duncan Smith – who admits he has been on the welfare system, equally vile?

This week, he was in the news because he claimed on the BBC’s Today programme that he could survive on £53 per week if he had to, after market trader David Bennett said the bedroom tax meant he must now live on that amount.

Almost immediately, a petition by Dom Aversano appeared on the change.org website, calling for him to put his money where his mouth is.

His reaction? “This is a complete stunt which distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done. I have been unemployed twice in my life so I have already done this. I know what it is like to live on the breadline.” (Quoted from the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian).

In other words, this slimeball is trying to slither out of it! Could this possibly be because he knows the benefit regime he has instigated is much harsher than the system he enjoyed in 1981 (and again in 1989) and he knows he would not fare well as a part of it?

The report of this story in The Guardian seems intentionally hilarious. It states: “The Daily Mail [that rag again] reported Duncan Smith as saying: ‘It was a shock – absolutely awful. I felt pathetic. I remember telling my wife. We looked at each other and she said: “God, what are we going to do for money?”‘”

The report continues, straight-faced: “Duncan Smith’s wife, Betsy, is the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe who served as lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in the 1980s and 1990s. Duncan Smith and his wife, who sent their children to Eton, moved into Lord Cottesloe’s 17th-century Old House in the village of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire in 2002.”

What were they going to do for money, indeed!

He is a man who has played the system for all he could take and then changed it to make sure nobody else could enjoy the benefits he received. He is a man who talks a good fight but runs away from supporting his words with real action.

If ‘welfare UK’ has any ‘vile product’ at all, then it must be Iain Duncan Smith.

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Iain Duncan Smith – what went wrong?

The mask slips: Iain Duncan Smith shows us all his true face.

On the face of it, he looked so promising, didn’t he?

When Iain Duncan Smith took up his position as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2010, it was as one of the architects of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, a project that was the first to be announced by David Cameron after he became Tory leader in 2005.

The new minister had been involved with social issues ever since the theme of the Conservative Party spring conference in 2002 struck a chord with him – it was ‘Helping the Vulnerable’.

Apparently it touched on his beliefs as a devout Catholic, and came at the same time as he visited Easterhouse and Gallowgate in Glasgow, where he was struck by the run-down housing, visible signs of drug abuse and general lack of hope.

Critics within the Tory party said they didn’t understand his interest, as it seemed to involve him walking around housing estates. Liam Fox (now a disgraced former Defence minister) said it needed a context, such as stressing the role of the family in lifting people out of poverty. It seems he also lacked the deft communications skills that were necessary. Perhaps we should have listened to these criticisms.

Iain Duncan Smith later wrote the report ‘Breakdown Britain’ about the harsh realities of family breakdown, drug abuse and youth crime.

All of that promised a turnaround for the ‘Nasty Party’, with an emphasis on helping the most disadvantaged people to advance in society – a philosophy that many believed was vital for a party coming into power – albeit in coalition – at a time when the UK was facing its worst economic crisis for 70 years.

What a shame that it was all a lie.

George Orwell once, famously, wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” To understand Iain Duncan Smith’s social security policy, insert the word “Conservative” before the word “boot”.

Just look at what he has done to the sick and disabled. People who rely on state support for their very survival have been subjected to a humiliating and highly-stressful regime of tests in order to keep their benefits – tests which are entirely pointless because it has been proved that only 13 per cent of them will be allowed to continue receiving their benefit indefinitely. The rest go into either a ‘work-related activity’ group, for people expected to be fit for work within 365 days, or are signed ‘fit for work’ and forced onto Jobseekers’ Allowance immediately.

At the time of writing, official figures show an average of 73 sick or disabled people are dying every week as a result of this Iain Duncan Smith policy. Every six weeks, more of them die than have been killed on active service in Afghanistan since the British Army moved into that country 10 years ago.

That is his worst crime – but not the only one.

He has raised the retirement age, meaning millions will have to wait longer for their state pensions.

He is forcing millions of benefit recipients to take less money by ‘streamlining’ their payments into a single Universal Credit, which will be more difficult to manage and will be governed by a computerised system that – at present – doesn’t work.

He has pushed hundreds of thousands of jobseekers onto a work programme that turned out to be more of a way for his friends in the private sector to take public money than a channel back into work. Figures released yesterday show that the government would have achieved better results if the work programme had never been put into practice.

He has taken jobseekers away from activities likely to lead them into fulfilling full-time work and pushed them onto ‘Workfare’ programmes, forcing them to carry out menial tasks like stacking shelves in shops, just to keep their meagre benefit money. The system means participating businesses don’t have to take on new employees, so unemployment remains high, and the state – in effect – subsidises those firms.

His benefit cap will lead to a rise in homelessness and child poverty.

In December 2011 he drew up proposals to stop “under-employed” people “topping up” their wages with hand-outs when they are capable of working for longer. Individuals will be told they must earn a minimum amount each week from their jobs and will face being stripped of their housing benefit and tax credits if they fall short, under the plan. He has not, to my knowledge, told employers that they must ensure they pay enough for this policy to work. Therefore we can assume that this is a plan to take housing benefit and tax credits (or Universal Credit) from low-earners – depriving them of their homes as well, as they go into debt with their landlords.

In short, far from helping to solve problems of poverty, homelessness, and crime (which is often related to these), his policies seem designed to make them worse! Despite being shown – at great length – the error of his ways, he has refused to be swayed and remains determined to stick to his homicidal course.

And this is strange, because this is a man who has personally profited greatly from state support.

His first job was taxpayer-funded military service, carrying bags for a Major-General. After six years of this, he left the Army and spent six months on the dole. You can guarantee he was getting housing benefit for it. Current plans would give a man that age only as much as if he was renting a single room in a shared house, and one must wonder how well this gentleman would have coped in that situation.

He then started a job, using the skills he had gained while being paid by the taxpayer in the Army – as a salesman for arms dealer GEC-Marconi. Remember, this is the man who would later play a major part in ‘compassionate’ Conservatism.

He moved on to a property firm, but after six months found himself back on the dole (and housing benefit, one presumes). Then he sold gun-related magazines for Jane’s Information Group.

Then he got elected to Parliament, in 1992. Every year since then, he has been paid more than most taxpayers earn, and currently receives £134,565 per year.

He has had four children and received child benefit for all of them. He currently plans to restrict child benefit, making it payable for only two children per household. He put all of his children through private school – with the help of his MP’s salary which is paid by, you guessed it, the taxpayer.

His wife’s record of work, since they married, totals 15 months as his diary secretary – for which the taxpayer gave her £15,000. It has been suggested that she did not, in fact, do any work at all while drawing this paycheck.

A more recent example of this behaviour pattern involves his policy adviser Philippa Stroud, who also receives cash from a political thinktank. Read about it here.

He lives rent-free in a £2 million Tudor farmhouse on his father-in-law’s ancestral estate in Buckinghamshire, with three acres of land, a tennis court, swimming pool and some orchards.

One would think, if anybody had reason to be grateful for taxpayer-funded benefits, and to understand how this funding can help improve the life of somebody on the dole, it would be this former jobseeker, whose salary is paid by us to this day.

What a small-minded, evil bigot.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Hapless Jeremy proves yet again what a… Hunt he is

Not the right kind of tree-hugger: This is an artist’s impression of what Jeremy Hunt looked like, hiding behind a tree to avoid being seen going to a meeting with Rupert Murdoch.

It is not a good time to be Jeremy Hunt.

“When is?” I hear you cry. Fair point. The reactions of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh certainly seem to have put the Health Secretary in a state.

He was at a smart Buckingham Palace event, arranged to thank everyone involved in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which took place while he was Culture Secretary. He decided this was the moment to put his greatest talent on display.

Clearly, it wasn’t his wit. No, I refer to his talent for making a faux pas – or, in English, a bloody fool of himself.

“I read about a Japanese tourist who said afterwards how wonderful our Queen must be to take part in that, as they would never get their emperor to jump out of the plane,” he told Her Majesty. Faced with an irrelevant comment about a completely different event, she paused, smiled politely, shrugged, and moved on.

Then the Duke of Edinburgh turned up. You may remember he had quite a rough time during the Diamond Jubilee, contracting an infection that hospitalised him for several days. As a result, he probably saw most of it on TV but – clearly – the then-Culture Secretary hadn’t made the slightest impression on him as the first thing he said was, “Who are you?”

Hunt managed to spit out some information about his current job, and that he was Culture Secretary during the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, only to have the Duke respond: “Well they do move you people on a lot.”

We are led to believe Mr Hunt was embarrassed by the whole episode. What makes it worse is that he might have gained a bit more recognition if he had mentioned some of the other public disasters in which he has been involved.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls: Mr Hunt’s bell-end landed in a passing lady’s lap. Oh dear.

Perhaps he should have said, “I’m the fool who went ringing a bell to announce the start of the Olympics, only to have the end fall off and hit a passing lady in the lap”?

Or: “I’m the twit who arrived at a meeting with Rupert Murdoch – a gentleman with whom I have long-standing ties, even though he’s being investigated by an official inquiry ordered by my government – but, finding a multitude of press photographers there and not wanting to be seen publicly with the head of NewsCorp… hid behind a tree. One that was too narrow to stop them from spotting me.”

At least he had the good taste not to mention the moment when James Naughtie mispronounced his surname, live on national radio. The use of the C-word would have been beyond the pale.

(Although, it might have won him the recognition he wanted from the Duke).

Perhaps David Cameron would have been better off introducing into his Cabinet some faces that were more recognisable?