Thursday, 4 April 2013

I.D.S. = Irritable Dickhead Syndrome

In what will obviously deprive me of most of my remaining blog readers, I'd like to offer a simple (and obviously controversial) word of support for Ian Duncan Smith.

He was asked earlier in the week whether he could live off the minimum Job Seeker's allowance of 53 quid  and instead of giving the usual politician's fudge answer he simply said yes. This triggered a storm of abuse from the Twitterati and the launch of a petition to make him prove that he could do so. Everyone joined in to make the "Tory Scum" eat his words - the bloke is an obvious toff with three names and no hair so let's give him a good seeing to. It's like a populist version of "I'm a Celebrity" but with the witchetty grubs replaced by cheap ready meals.

It makes one despair that this Country is on the verge of becoming ungovernable. A stupid media question to a Minister is (unusually) given a straight answer and it is met with a veritable wall of idiotic abuse. The subtext is that the status quo (plus inflation and allowances) is always the preferable option. Proper reforms are always going to produce unpopularity and the idea that all benefits should be "comfortable and acceptable" to the recipient is nonsense. It takes guts to tackle the difficult problems.

What, I would ask, was he supposed to say to the question? If he had answered "no" he would have been pilloried as a heartless toff. If "yes" he gets pilloried as a heartless toff. It's a "when did you stop beating your wife?" question. 

Ian Duncan Smith has his faults but is a genuine sort of bloke who has made an honest and genuine attempt to get to grips with the ludicrous poverty traps created by our benefits system which have for many years penalized those who have attempted to break away from their state dependence and found themselves worse off for working. He hasn't done this from Whitehall, he has been out travelling the Country for the last few years researching and building up a case for a more sensible system and one which actually costs more in the short term through incentives to break the chain.

It is particularly stomach turning to see that the biggest sneerers and abusers are people like John Prescott and Alastair Campbell, Guardianista champagne socialists nouveau who were once at the heart of the problem but have used Twitter very cleverly to re-invent themselves to whip up moronic Tory-Hate and fan the flames of mis-information about benefits reform taking us "back to the 1980's". Frankly, Messrs Campbell and Prescott, I think even that would be preferable to what you both supported in Iraq which was bombed back into the Middle Ages. Sadly Twitter wasn't around in 2003 so we couldn't all read what you had to say about your support for Blair at the time.


Nota Bene said...

I'm so much in agreement with you...nearly. I signed the petition and have encouraged others to, not because I think he could or should try and live on £53/week (I know I couldn't) but because it was a stupid thing for him to say...his PR team should have briefed him - it was an obvious question from the press and he should have had a better answer. The mere mention of Campbell's name makes my blood boil...I hope there hell really exists and he spends eternity in torment and damnation. Prescott is a hypocrite, and the rest of Blair's cohorts I hope will one day get their just deserts.

Steerforth said...

I'm certainly not fan of the Coalition, but there does seem to be a collective amnesia about how Labour let us all down. There was so much hope after the 1997 election victory, but the spin doctor culture, the farce of the Millenium Dome and the Mandelson debacles soon put paid to any illusions. They were only re-elected because of the poor alternatives on offer.

I feel completely disillutioned with all of the main parties.

John Greenwood said...

Nice rant, Rog. It actually emerged that the bloke who challenged IDS lives on three times what he stated.

Martin said...

I'm not qualified to say whether IDS is "a genuine sort of bloke" or not. I signed the petition because having spent a long period on the dole in the early 80s, I remember how we sometimes had to wait a day or two for the next family allowance payment before there was any money for food. Of course he couldn't live on £53 a week, and should have said so.

Having said all that, reform of the welfare system is long overdue. Whether these recently introduced measures are the way to go, only time will tell. I don't hear any credible alternatives from the opposition.

Mike and Ann said...

What he actually said (I think) was "I could if I had to", which was an off the cuff, but honest answer to a trick question. I take it the question meant if he had the £53 a week to spend on food? If so, and if he spent it sensibly, he probably could survive for quite a long time on it. Wouldn't be any fun though.

Zig said...

In a previous life I might have agreed with you but now I live off benefits I'm not so sure.
I hate what Hunt is doing to the NHS but that too needs reform.
I don't trust any of them ...

Mike and Ann said...

Hear ! Hear! to that Zig. Nor do any of us, I think.

Z said...

Well put, Rog. In addition, I'm so fed up with the shouting down of free speech. Everyone is in favour of it, until someone says something they don't agree with. There's so much nastiness and intolerance around and such short memories.

The £53 per week turned out to be after paying rent and utilities and possibly more. So it was basically food and clothes. When Ronan was at university, we gave him a subsistence allowance of £5 per day - at the end, he said that had been generous and plenty to live on. He's now 28, so it probably isn't greatly different from £53 a week at current prices.

Z said...

Oh, he paid his share of utility bills too, in a house with four others.

dinahmow said...

I am often astonished at how some people spend their money...on any day at the supermarket I see trolleys piled high with what I call rubbish and very little fresh food. And it all adds up to a helluva lot more $100 (approx 53 quid)!
And the other side of the benefit coin? At the school where I sometimes "teach" some of the teachers started a breakfast plan for the (many) children who came to school without having eaten because the money had all been spent.
I suspect there is no easy answer, but more thought and compassion might help.

mig bardsley said...

The whole public debate system is getting bigger and noisier and more like a playground row all the time. It's heartbreaking.

Rog said...

Nota: it's rather sad, though, how much Politicians are all about PR and avoiding or capitalising on Pastygate this or Plebgate that and other trivialities.

Steerforth: I vividly remember the tidal wave of goodwill and hope that swept Blair to power but seemed so quickly squandered. Likewise Brown was a huge disappointment when actually handed the driving keys.

John: These things are so stage managed, which is a shame.

Martin: I was on Job Seekers allowance of about £25 a week and had to use all my savings and borrow money to keep going. The point is if it was a comfortable and reliable level of benefit there would be little incentive to get the hell off it.

Mike: I don't think he should have to bother. We didn't insist that Blair and Campbell went in on the first wave of the Iraq invasion (more's the pity).

Zig: It's a dodgy stick to pick up but hopefully sensible reforms will result in a more locally accountable, less wasteful , less beaurocratic edifice.

Z: Living to a budget ought to be a key subject in schools but as the entire country has been living well beyond its means for years it's something we've all been learning.

Di: Good point - the healthy alternatives are often the cheapest, although not always readily accessible to the poorest.

Mig: The naïveté of much political argument and the yah-boo nature of most political debate is certainly saddening.

Thanks all!