Friday, 15 February 2013

Iain Dunky Smith

Iain Duncan Smith has been Secretary of State for Euthanasia since 2010 but has anybody else noticed how bad-tempered he's been just lately? It was only a couple of months ago that he got all in a tizz on Question Time after Owen Jones attempted to put some statistics to him that concerned the number of deaths of sick or disabled people following ATOS assessments that had ruled them fit for work. We could talk a bit about all the ATOS scandals* or we could come back to them another time because he went and lost his frothy rag in public again a couple of days ago following the Court of Appeal ruling that found against government plans for workfare

How did it come to be that this dreadful, inadequate, vile piece of shit managed to acquire so much responsibility for misery and multi-death?


On 13 September 2001 Iain Duncan Shit won the Conservative Party leadership election after William Hague's resignation. He had initially been seen as an outsider candidate, but his candidacy was bolstered when Margaret Thatcher publicly announced her support.

In 2002, Michael Crick on the TV programme Newsnight caused some embarrassment when probing Duncan Smith's curriculum vitae, which had been in circulation in the authoritative annual Dod's Parliamentary Companion for the previous ten years. The CV claimed that he had attended the University of Perugia when he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri, which did not grant any degrees at that time, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Dunchurch College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC Marconi's staff college.

Duncan Smith proved not to be a particularly effective public speaker during Prime Minister's Questions. His troubles with a "frog in his throat" prompted Private Eye to refer to him as "Iain Duncan Cough". There were continued rumours of discontent among his backbenchers, not dampened by his warning to his party in November 2002: "My message is simple and stark, unite or die". The 2002 Conservative Party conference saw an attempt to turn his lack of charisma into a positive attribute, with his much-quoted, much-derided line "do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man". The next year, Duncan Smith's conference speech abandoned this technique in favour of an aggressive hard-man approach that few found convincing.

Iain Duncan Smith stated in December 2002 that he intended to be party leader for a "very long time to come". This did little to quell the speculation in Westminster regarding his future. On 21 February 2003, The Independent newspaper published a story saying that a number of MPs were attempting to start the process of petitioning for a vote of no confidence in Duncan Smith. These worries came to a head in October 2003. Michael Crick revealed that he had compiled embarrassing evidence, this time of dubious salary claims Duncan Smith made on behalf of his wife that were paid out of the public purse from September 2001 to December 2002. The ensuing scandal, known as Betsygate weakened his already tenuous position.

Betsygate concerned the level of pay that his wife enjoyed as her husband's diary secretary. In May 2002 Michael Crick had initiated an investigation on the pay received by Betsy, and asserted that the pay was not commensurate with the duties she performed during the period from September 2001 to December 2002. Rikki Radford, Duncan Smith's constituency agent since 2002, denied that Betsy had fulfilled a professional role for her husband since he became party leader, saying: "I know for sure she doesn't... The bottom line is that she's his wife and she gets on with looking after the kids." Furthermore, only one of 18 groups in Duncan Smith's constituency visited by him in 2002 recalled any contact with Mrs Duncan Smith. A party official in the constituency and six Tory MPs also told the journalists that they saw no evidence of Mrs Duncan Smith working for her husband during the 15-month period in question. Crick's report was expected to go out on the Thursday before the Conservative Party conference but it was vetoed at the last minute by BBC executives.

Under leadership vote of confidence rules, 25 Conservative MPs had to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee demanding the vote. On 26 October, Duncan Smith made an appearance on television daring his opponents to show their hand by the evening of 29 October or to withdraw their challenge. He also stated that he would not step down if a vote was called. Duncan Smith's demand that 25 MPs write to the chairman by 29 October had no bearing on party regulations. Had the votes not been delivered until later, the vote of no confidence would still have gone ahead. Nevertheless, by 28 October 25 Conservative MPs had indeed signed on to demand a vote. Duncan Smith lost by 90 votes to 75 and stepped down eight days later when the unopposed Michael Howard was confirmed as his successor. Duncan Smith followed William Hague as only the second Conservative Party leader since Austen Chamberlain not to have become Prime Minister and was the first since Neville Chamberlain not to have led the party in a general election.

On 6 November 2003, Iain Duncan Smith released his novel The Devil's Tune. The book received heavily critical reviews such as "Really, it's terrible... Terrible, terrible, terrible" by Sam Leith in the Daily Telegraph. The book was never published in paperback.

He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle, daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe, in 1982. The couple have four children and live in a rented house on her father's estate in Buckinghamshire.

What a guy.

Source: Wikipedia


*Further reading

Scottish Daily Record
ATOS benefits bullies killed my sick dad, says devasted Kieran, 13

New Statesman
How many more disabled people will die terrified that their benefits will be taken away?

Benefit Scrounging Scum
Karen's Story – RIP Karen Sherlock, Disability Rights Campaigner – Died June 8th, 2012

Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
A site to share information on welfare cuts, illness, disability and general, current, political thought

The People's Review of the Work Capabilty Assessment
The experiences of more than 70 claimants who have been wrongly assessed, humiliated, badly treated and forced to go to tribunal to secure the benefits to which they are legally entitled


“It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that ATOS is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system. When GPs are reporting an increased workload, not just as a result of providing reports but as a result of treating patients whose condition has worsened as a result of their WCA experience, there is something wrong with the system.

When my constituent, who has lost his job because he has motor neurone disease, scores zero on his WCA and is found fully fit for work, there is something wrong with the system. When that same constituent appears in front of a tribunal and in less than five minutes is awarded 15 points, there is something wrong with the system. When people with rapidly progressive illnesses are not automatically put in the support group, there is something wrong with the system. When some people would rather do without the money to which they are absolutely entitled rather than submit to the stress of a WCA, there is something wrong with the system. When someone with a severe illness has to fight for a year through an appeal to get the correct benefit, only to be called in almost immediately for another assessment, there is something wrong with the system. When the recall and assessment happen the following year, and the following year, there is something wrong with the system. When people feel so persecuted, there is something wrong with the system. To top it all, they lose their contributory ESA after only a year if they are in the WRAG group.

When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When so many appeals result in an award of ESA support group status when the original assessment was no points, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no penalty for a high percentage of wrong decisions, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract. It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system.”

— Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair, Work & Pensions Committee, 4 September 2012

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