Iain Duncan Smith has said that his welfare reforms are a “moral mission” and has likened it to the “struggle against slavery”. My first thoughts were, “yikes, someone’s been poisoning him with laudanum” and “you shouldn’t make speeches when you’ve been drinking”. Once the initial concern, concern being hyperbole, for Iain’s blood stream subsided, I began to ponder this a little more rationally, and sincerely.
In his novel 1984 Orwell coined the term “doublethink”, this is the belief that people can hold contradicting ideas in their head at the same time and accept both as valid. A bit like cognitive dissonance, but without the insight. Orwell described it thus, “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed”. Iain Duncan Smith’s salvation of the poor has given me cause for alarm. This morning I woke up thinking I am a woman of 31 in the year 2014. I’m now rather concerned that this is 1984, I’m 2 years old, and someone’s plonked me in charge of 3 kids! That’s just not a reasonable thing to do to a toddler.
My early life crisis aside, Iain Duncan Smith clawing society back to 1984, and a fictionalised, dystopic one at that, is worthy of consideration. I have often been given pause to wonder if the Tories are using 1984 as an aide memoir. IDS likening his welfare reform, which includes workfare, the system by which people are made to work without payment, to the abolition of slavery brings to mind a Bill Hicks sketch in which he says “Go back to sleep America….you are free to do as we tell you”. The cost of living crisis, fuel poverty, benefits cap and bonfire of the public sector have all assisted in the rise of food banks, without which many families would starve. It’s horror film worthy that old Iain is capable of describing this as a moral mission. In what Lewis Carroll opium haze does thrusting children underneath the poverty line come with a moral imperative?
Iain Duncan Smith has a tendency to jab in his Christianity into his doublethink wherever possible. He describes his road to Damascus moment when visiting the Easterhouse estate in 2002 when he had the epiphany that he must help these people through welfare “reform”- reform apparently now being synonymous with “destruction”, “annihilation” and “obliteration”. Apparently there were even tears but retrospectively one cannot help but wonder if he was pre-grieving for the people whose lives he intended to destroy!
I’m not a Christian but I used to belong to the high church, and I’ve read the bible, but I missed the chapter that supports social Darwinism. Has Iain Duncan Smith been trusted with missing gospels which tell of Jesus snatching the fish and bread back from the people before telling them to invent bicycles and get on them to find work? I’ve always seen Jesus as a bit of a socialist, a bit like Tony Benn with a beard and awesome carpentry skills. He believed in healing the sick rather than removing support from them and leaving them to struggle with nothing. He believed in feeding the hungry and took issue with money lenders screwing around with currency and buggering people over regarding the cost of living. If he was alive today I find it highly doubtful that he’d be on board with Iain Duncan Smith’s “moral mission”. Poor Jesus, why does every right wing wanker feel the need to perform all kinds of nasty shit in his name? If he comes back for the “second coming” there’s a good chance he’ll be waving a placard and shouting “not in my name”.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, for just one day, these politicians treated us with a modicum of respect and just said what they mean, rather than appropriating the struggles of oppressed peoples and utilising doublethink? I would love to see an interview with Iain Duncan Smith where he says “I’m going to cut welfare because I’m an absolute wanker. I hate poor people. I think they’re lazy good for nothings. I keep telling people I claimed benefits and lived in penury, but really my wife is a millionaire and we moved into the country pile. I honestly couldn’t give a fuck about what happens to them. I just want to massage employment figures so that our party keeps getting voted in and I get the benefits which come with a ministerial position. I get that comparing workfare to the abolition of slavery should be the dictionary definition of “ironic” but fuck it, it gave Twitter a good laugh!”