I can scarcely even scan the news right now without coming across at least half a dozen IDS hate pieces! Why all the brouhaha? Is he just a fashionable figure for hate? Like Coldplay or James Blunt? Mind you, James Blunt never caused anyone to commit suicide. Arguably.
Okay, so he falsified his CV, has lied repeatedly and unashamedly to the public, has overseen a set of welfare changes that penalise the sick, poor and disabled, has been found guilty in a court of law of implementing unfair workfare sanctions, and has lost most of the £425m of public money on Universal Credit, but still, poor Iain. I personally can’t understand it. Is he not the epitome of what the Tories might call “aspiration Britain”? Is his story not the very definition of the battle against the odds, the rags to riches, the inspirational, underdog struggle that people make movies about? You see, he may have had obstacles; he may have had shortcomings – but he had a dream.
Back in 1981, after leaving the Scots Guards and languishing on out of work benefits, with no degree or indeed any recognisable further education qualifications whatsoever, he dreamt that he would one day enjoy a £130k (plus 90k expenses) job that he had no skill for whatsoever, be married to a rich woman, have a full head of hair, and be living rent-free in a life he didn’t even have to pay for. And look at him now. He has it all. Well, apart from the hair.
It was a long, long road and it wasn’t easy. I for one, sympathise. There were plenty of hurdles. Not long ago, he was delivering speeches composed by another unqualified dreamer, your very own George Osborne. Hobbled somewhat by having Giddy as his speechwriter, Iain became the first ever Tory leader not to become Prime Minister, soon afterwards being voted out by his own party. (Incidentally, poor George’s follow-up assignment as speechwriter was William Hague, the second ever Tory leader not to become Prime Minister. I really don’t blame you for making Giddy Chancellor of the Exchequer. At least that kept him away from writing your speeches too!)
So a scandal or two later, (one involving giving his wife £18,000 out of the public purse for… well, being his wife) Iain is causing controversy again by making plans to scrap the WRAG. This is the Work-Related Activity Group invented to encompass some 550,000 people deemed unfit for work but able to work maybe at some point in the future. It includes many long-term sick and even some terminally ill.
People on the WRAG have their benefits stopped after a year anyway but that’s okay for some because they’ll be dead before that happens. But Iain has decided that he can’t even wait THAT long for them to kick the bucket, he wants to speed the process up by scrapping all their support now. Besides, he’d just be doing them a favour. Inspired by Iain’s belief in these people, employers will no doubt be lining up to give the infirm, long term sick and terminally ill jobs, and for those without the aspiration or motivation, well, natural selection will sort them out. As Boris Johnson said in a speech this week, “the harder you shake the pack the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.” And what better way to shake the pack than to deny the less fortunate of our species the means to even AFFORD cornflakes.
Apparently, over half the population of voters believe the Conservatives are the party for the rich. I, like you, am of the belief you are the party of hope – a hope that one day I might too be given a six-figure salary for something I can’t do and have my neighbours pay my heating bill. I can but dream.