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UK Politics

Iain Duncan Smith Shows a Compassionate Side, Following His Resignation

 

Yesterday certainly came as a shock. Iain Duncan Smith resigned from his position of Work & Pensions Secretary, which he had held since 12 May 2010. Since the Conservatives won a full majority on parliament last May, IDS has been the center of further controversy. With the party not being completely watered-down by the Liberal Democrat’s presence in the coalition government (from 2010-2015), the floodgates for harsher cuts to welfare were seemingly flung open. Being in this highly unpopular position, IDS was perceived as the demonic figure behind the cuts. The mentioning of his name in many suicide notes shows this.

Yet his resignation letter, which was presented yesterday, shatters this narrative of him being a heartless, blood-sucking – or welfare-sucking – fiend. He showed that he was becoming increasingly unsettled and opposed to the cuts. The section below summarizes this:

“I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest,”

The letter can be read in full here. 

 Many of IDS personal friends had reported the discomfort he felt in being asked “again and again” to implement cuts on benefits for working aged people and the disabled. As suggested in his letter, he clearly saw the policies as morally indefensible.

Conservative ministers have cultivated a reputation from critics of the party, particularly the left, of being out of touch with the masses, and having disdain for the poor and vulnerable. In the eyes of many, the stereotypical Conservative politician will be someone who was raised in a privileged background, independently educated, an Oxbridge graduate, who then transfers into a comfortable political career.  This ‘elitist’ portrayal of course rubs off on the overall party image; contributing to its prevailing reputation as “the nasty party”.

Yet IDS did not come down this traditional route. He was by no means from a typical ‘Tory minister’ background. He actually had a rather modest upbringing, and attended a comprehensive school in Scotland. After leaving school, he served in the army from  1975-1981. Rather than a lavish, paid-for-by-parents education, this served as his educational background.

His religious faith adds to this modesty too. Being a Conservative and a Catholic, you’d expect him to fall in line with the view of many church-members in Britain, who are seen as constituting “The Tory Party at Prayer” – as it is known. Christianity is commonly connected with Conservative politicians. Yet many of them overlook their Judeo-Christian values of giving to the poor, helping the weak, and looking after one’s fellow man – compromising on their faith for their career. IDS was perhaps a different case. Perhaps he truly succumbed to the morality promoted by his faith; realizing that he was being untrue to his identity.

He was often a rebel from his party’s narrative too. Take the case of the European Union. He was one of the leading figures to oppose Prime Minister David Cameron’s position, and desire to stay within the EU. Instead of falling inline with what his leader wanted, he pursued a staunch opposition to Britain remaining. Some have even attributed this to him leaving.

I’ve seen many people rejoicing and cheering now that he has stepped down. Given that many have been affected by the cuts made under his watch, I can fully sympathize with this. Yet nothing remarkable will change. Some people’s initial reactions to his resignation suggests many believe that things will miraculously improve now that IDS has gone. Clearly however, as he began to show opposition to the cuts, he wasn’t exactly contributing to the severity of them.  Bear in mind, it was George Osborne’s budget which forced the implementation of the recent disability cuts.

Even if another figure from a modest background – Stephen Crabb – has assumed the position of Works and Pensions Secretary (an odd pattern, two figures from working-class backgrounds assuming this position within the Conservative Party), surely he will also fall in line with his party’s aims, become a careerist for as long as possible, and continue the trend of debilitating cuts – in the clearly undesirable position of Work and Pensions Secretary.

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Discussion

6 thoughts on “Iain Duncan Smith Shows a Compassionate Side, Following His Resignation

  1. Very good article summing up the events of the past few days regarding IDS… I must say it did shock that me that he resigned when he’s actions have in the past have been more right-wing, but it does show his compassionate side.

    Like

    Posted by mutteringsofateenagemind | March 19, 2016, 9:39 pm
    • Thank you. Well given his personal background, along with other factors, it’s conceivable be became harsher in his public appearance and measures to comply with the direction of his party. In other words, he was a careerist.

      Like

      Posted by Jonathan Fenton-Harvey | March 19, 2016, 9:51 pm
  2. its the pensioners who will now see the cuts they were half expecting before the budget. WFA and transport/bus passes will go.

    Like

    Posted by Steve Howard | March 19, 2016, 10:15 pm
  3. The Government have left pensioners alone it is said because they are most likely to vote for them,so they are clearly out of touch as most of these pensioners have families and have seen what the Government has done to them,the i,m alright Jack may be alright for MP,s ect but most of us pensioners care what is happenning,i am a pensioner and could be comfortable though not well off but most of my money go,s towards helping my family along with childcareing as they would not survivd so they need to think again if they are banking on the grey vote.

    Like

    Posted by Joyce Lawrence | March 20, 2016, 12:39 am
  4. I don’t agree with you, I don’t think he has compassion, it was an excuse, a stab at the rest…. He did it for his own reasons and they will come out in the wash, in dirty water no doubt…

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by khat | March 20, 2016, 3:43 am
  5. I have to agree with Khat. This has nothing to do with compassion. He clearly has none. As Mr Corbyn said if this is compassion where has it been in the past 6 years.

    He has overseen and introduced many cuts to the disabled and jobseekers in his time in office. This has been despite protests and clear warnings that they would increase hardship and suffering. But he refused to listen for SIX YEARS..Most recently was the ramming through with the use of financial privilege the cuts to ESA claimants. That was just a couple of weeks back.

    So where was this compassion then?

    As foodbank use soared (I had never heard of these until after 2010 btw) because of the harsh actions of his department, where was his compassion and Christian principles? Nowhere to be seen, in fact he denied there was any link to his policies and the increase.

    Deaths and suicides followed, he tried to hide the information in lengthy and costly legal battles. The latest battle over Universal Credit details was lost just before his resignation – is there a connection I wonder? Did he decide to jump before he was pushed anyway?

    The WCA and sanctions regime, while granted he did not introduce them they were around before, they were not as draconian as they became under his reign over the DWP and the sanctions were extended to go beyond the normal jobseekers to those with sickness and disability as well. This was not so before as those on incapacity benefit were exempt from sanctions before 2010 it was only the changes to the two tier system that saw them extended. I will stand corrected if there was sanctioning of the disabled before 2010, but I think you would have to look a long way to find it.

    Bedroo…sorry spare room subsidy, hitting the poorest and disabled hardest beset by legal challenges throughout. Where was his compassion?

    To then suddenly find his heart now? No I am sorry I do not buy it in the slightest. This is not about compassion. There is some other factor at play here but compassion I seriously doubt is one of them.

    Like

    Posted by Paul Billanie | March 21, 2016, 8:44 am

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