Iain Duncan Smith knighthood a reward for ‘a legacy of cruelty’
135,000 kids won’t have a home to call their own this Christmas while Ian Duncan Smith gets his knighthood.
The UN Special Rapporteur’s Professor Philip Alston findings on the UK. During his 12-day investigation into extreme poverty and human rights found the Government’s efforts had been instrumental in exasperating poverty and inequality, brought about with the impact of austerity measures, Universal Credit and an increasingly digital government making it inaccessible for people living in poverty.
Philip Alston said the government was preoccupied with reducing welfare dependency. “The era of connectivity and the era of social media makes it much less sustainable to have this dramatic difference between people living the high life, a higher life than has ever been lived before, and at the other end, people who can’t afford a tin of beans, can’t afford the seventh meal of the week.”
The approach to benefits was “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous”, he said.
He gave the example of “draconian sanctions” which shut people out from the benefits system for weeks or months at a time, sometimes for minor infringements such as missing an appointment.
Prof Alston claimed many of the “harsh” policies could be ended “overnight” at little cost.
- Thousands of children in ‘bed poverty’
- Two-child benefit cap lawful, court rules
- Education spending now ‘skewed’ to poor
These included the delay of five to 12 weeks before Universal Credit was paid, the single household payments which give more leverage to controlling or violent partners, and the two-child limit for benefit claimants.
Prof Alston compared this limit to China’s notorious one-child policy and said it was:
a perfect way to punish families
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – known as IDS the architect of the controversial universal credit reforms that prof Alston highlighted in his report has been given a knighthood in the New Year honours list.
Iain Duncan Smith, whose controversial welfare shake-up has been blamed for pushing thousands of people into poverty, is among several political figures celebrated for their apparent contribution to public life.
The Chingford and Woodford Green MP is undeniably a huge political figure, having led the Conservative Party from 2001 to 2003 and acted as chairman for Boris Johnson’s successful 2019 leadership campaign. None of this is deserving of a knighthood and only adds to the continued cronyism of such honours.
The decision to knight the former Conservative minister has sparked fury amongst the working class, images of Iain Duncan Smith laughing during a Bedroom Tax debate and shedding ‘crocodile tears’ online are still fresh in many people’s minds. He is responsible for “some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen”
His ennoblement sparked anger from critics who said it “beggars belief” that he had been given an honour while his reforms had left thousands of families struggling to pay their bills.
The UK became the first ever country to face a United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people and that the “suffering and impoverishment” seen in the UK today are a “direct result of the welfare reforms Iain Duncan Smith implemented has Work and Pensions Secretary”.
Iain Duncan Smith once claimed he could live on £53 after he was asked about a market trader, David Bennett, who claimed that he had to live on that amount after his housing benefit was cut. “If I had to, I would,” Duncan Smith replied.
He went on to related how he had once been unemployed telling the Daily Mail reporter: “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?'”
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. His in-laws moved into smaller accommodation to make way for the Duncan Smiths and their four children.
Duncan Smith told the Daily Telegraph in 2002 that he found Swanbourne a relief after the hectic pace of Fulham, south-west London, where the family used to live. “I was brought up all over the place but I’m more at ease in the country,” he said. “The side of London I like is the opera but I hate the noise, the dirt, the fumes and the grinding chaos.”
The boost of being able to survive on £53 lead to an online petition with over 300K signatures demanding he did exactly that.
The anger against Iain Duncan Smith has prompted a NHS doctor launch a petition against IDS receiving a knighthood.
Dr Mona Kamal Ahmed, a NHS psychiatrist, who claims Mr Smith was responsible for “some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen”
Iain Duncan-Smith should not receive a Knighthood
This petition objects to the Knighthood of Iain Duncan Smith.
During his time as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith was responsible for some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen. Under his stewardship of the Department of Work and Pensions the UK became the first country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people – an investigation which later confirmed that our government had been guilty of “grave and systemic violations of the rights of disabled people”.
The suffering and impoverishment which are a direct result of the welfare reforms he has implemented are now undeniable. The callous and humiliating Work Capability Assessments where people with chronic disability are required to continuously prove they are deserving of their welfare payments or else be stripped of their entitlements have caused needless stress and misery. They have been directly linked to relapses of depression and anxiety and have even been linked to excess deaths through suicide.
As a NHS psychiatrist I have sat in A&E departments with people diagnosed with chronic mental illness who have been driven to panic attacks, acute relapses of their depressive illness and suicidal ideation as a result of the anxiety caused by these tests and over the prospect of losing the welfare payments they rely on. This has only intensified with the chaos and uncertainty of Universal Credit a system known to be causing hardship to millions and for which Iain Duncan-Smith is again wholly culpable.
Over the past decade of austerity, very little has demonstrated the callousness and incompetence of this Tory government than their treatment of people with disabilities and mental illness. There is no place for these cruel dehumanising measures in any civilised compassionate society, and the fact that Iain Duncan Smith the individual responsible and the architect of such misery, is to receive the honour of a knighthood is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable individuals across this country who are suffering as a result of his policies and to those who have tragically lost loved ones as a direct result. He must not be knighted.
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