IDS, chief poor-basher, tells Tories not to bash the poor

Wed, 04/03/2015 - 14:02 -- nick

We are used to rank idiocy from Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and a man who George Osborne apparently described as 'thick'.

We are used to his dangerous sense of reformist zeal, imagining himself as a Gladstonian figure who is determined to go into the poorest parts of the UK and reform their residents by starving them into submission.

But his latest speech in the run up to the May general election adds a new charge - hypocrisy - to his reputation as the quiet hatchet man of the coalition.

He took poverty as his subject, an issue he knows nothing about having never experienced it. He did once agree to live on £54 for a week having been challenged by a man who was forced to due to Smith's benefit cuts, but he later refused to do so.

Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute, he said:

"Historically, perhaps our main contribution to the subject [of poverty] was that whenever Conservative politicians did speak about poverty, they did so with fingers wagging and harsh punitive language."

Smith is being to hard on himself and his party; he has made a far greater contribution to the subject than simple language issues, being more responsible for the creation of poverty than any other member of the government except Osborne.

His 'reforms' - Smith-speak for benefit cuts, caps, delays and punishments - have led to a huge increase in food bank use, another link which he denies despite all of the evidence which includes the West Cheshire Food Bank yesterday confirming that half of its users were referred because of benefit delays and sanctions.

Talking of sanctions, Smith has overseen a doubling of their number and an increase in maximum sanction periods, meaning an average jobseeker should expect to have their benefits taken away by the time they have been signing on for 11 months, while around a third of appeals are upheld.

Smith has consistently denied the existence of sanctions targets even as whistleblower after whistleblower, including one who spoke to UnemployedNet last year, confirmed them.

There is a bizarre irony in Iain Duncan Smith bemoaning the view of the Tories as the 'nasty party' when he has done more than any other Conservative to justify the tag.