A most appropriate double-page spread (above) from the Sun set the scene for Iain Duncan Smith to be caught with his pants down — not in a disabled toiletthis time — twice in one week.
LIE ONE: Iain just loves to claim that Britain is full of inter-generational shirkers:
“often three generations of the same family have never worked”
Except academics have found that this , errr, isn’t true. Even the data used by IDS’ own department gives “clear evidence” that even two-generation-never-working-families are rare. Another study sent researchers out to deprived areas of Glasgow and Middlesbrough looking for such a skiving brood — they couldn’t find one.
LIE TWO: The apposite Sun feature shown above provided a platform for IDS to whinge that the BBC were unfairly targeting him — by using the words “cuts” instead of “reform”:
“The word ‘reform’ very rarely passes their lips but the word ‘cuts’ is always in their broadcasts.”
But according to IDS’ own measure, the BBC provides him the most sympathetic coverage of any media outlet in a cross section examined by Scrapbook – proportionately mentioning the word “reform” more than any other in comparison with the word “cuts”:
While references to “reform” trump “cuts” in all the material we examined, the BBC is the fairest, using “cuts” in 16.7% more web pages than IDS’ prefered word. Incontrast, the Daily Mail references “cuts” in 30.5% more articles than “reform”. Even The Sun — from which Duncan Smith launched his attack — seems to prefer the language of anti-austerity campaigners to DWP spin.
Back in 2002, the then Tory leader was exposed by BBC Newsnight for lying on his CV. “Dunchurch College of Management” appeared in the very first line of his official biography on the Tory party website. But investigations revealed that he did not receive any qualifications from what was essentially the staff college for his employer GEC Marconi, at which he attended several short courses lasting a few days:
“Newsnight has now spoken to 19 former tutors at Dunchurch. Most agree it is over-emphasising his experience at Dunchurch to describe it in the way he does.”
His bio also claimed he attended the Universita di Perugia in Italy. But this was a lie. He actually attended a less prestigious institution in the same city and didn’t even finish his exams.
Headlines in the Tory press would have us believe that Iain Duncan Smith has “lived on the breadline twice”. But suggestions that he suffered like others on benefits are undermined by an examination of his biography — which reveals one of these periods of unemployment was AFTER he married his wealthy, aristocratic wife.
After spending seven years with GEC Marconi (1981-88), IDS joined a property company, Bellwinch Property Ltd, but was made redundant after six months. He talks about having to “start all over again from scratch”:
“Later on in life when I worked my way up I was made redundant, I again had to start all over again from scratch and this time I had kids. I didn’t have any financial backing and I had to pick up the pieces, find another job and get back to work.”
Perhaps the 1989 “on the breadline” claim would hold water if IDS hadn’t, errr, married into the aristocracy seven years earlier. His father-in-law is 5th Baron Cottesloe, in whose £2m country house Duncan Smith now lives.
Six months after leaving Bellwinch he was working for one of the world’s leading publishers of military information as marketing and development director. Three years later he was a member of parliament.
No one would deny the stress of being made redundant with a family to support — but IDS was never “living on the breadline” in 1989.
Iain Duncan Smith told a boy to ‘go to the Jobcentre’ when his disabled father died a day after after being declared fit for work by the DWP. Kieran McArdle claims that the stress caused by the results of an Atos test contributed to the death of his dad, who was left half-blind and paralysed following a stroke.
When the 13 year-old wrote to IDS, however, the response from the work and pensions secretary concluded with a ’cut and paste’ invitationto make an appointment with a Jobcentre to “discuss the outcome of your father’s claim”.
The derisory reply was sent despite extensivemediacoverage of the case of Brian McArdle, who was just 57 when he died.
Thirty two claimants each week — nearly 1,700 per year — have died after they were branded “fit for work” by Atos and the DWP.
It seems that Spelthorne Borough Council are not the only Conservative local authority who see no problem with giving public platforms to their own candidates — the London Borough of Croydon apparently has given Iain Duncan Smith a platform to promote the Tory by-election candidate.
A local news and politics blog reports that IDS was attending the publicly-funded “Croydon congress” meeting, when he said he was “obviously” there to back the Tory candidate Andy Stranack.
Blame this time, however, is being laid at the door of council chief executive John Rouse. Rouse seems to have a history of questionable decisions, banning Labour and Co-operative candidates from using the Labour rose emblem on ballot papers — and was on the panel with the Work and Pensions Secretary at the event.
The Chancellor’s goodwill amongst the Tory right has been severely flagging of late, so the strong positions of Grayling and IDS will not be welcomed in Number 11, especially after they have proved resistant to the idea of further departmental budget cuts. Additionally, Ken Clarke’s apparent “oversight” role could be seen as a threat to Osborne’s economic primacy.
Bad news for Danny Alexander over at the Lib Dems’ leading grassroots website today, where a survey of members reveals more of them want David Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague in the cabinet than Beaker.
With a September reshuffle looming, it looks like beleaguered party supporters don’t fancy another 18 months of Alexander spinning their austerity policies (badly). His poor performances see him as the 14th most popular member of the cabinet, with a significant minority demanding his removal.
“I think it’s crucial we retain a foot-hold in the Treasury with the post of chief secretary. Whether Danny Alexander is the right person for the job is another matter … I just don’t think he’s the person you want fronting for the party on Newsnight.”
Scrapbook has to agree he has a point. Here’s some vintage Beaker from Question Time, in which the former Cairngorms National Park press officer shows his mettle:
Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith met Miss Essex and spent the whole time staring at her breasts, it has been claimed. Twenty year-old Chingford resident Amber Zakrzewski triumphed in the county’s beauty pageant in March, after which her MP arranged a meeting in an attempt to recruit her to the Tories.
Having previously attempted to elicit details of the meeting with the aid of a £280 magnum of Grey Goose vodka, The Sunday Times’ (£) Taya Gold finally got Zakrewski to spill the beans at a society polo meeting:
“Her reticence cracks and she finally tells me something interesting about her meeting with Duncan Smith, which is he stared at her breasts for 20 minutes.”
IDS even invited her to the House of Commons — to see PMQs, of course.