The current received wisdom in politics is that whenever the Tories do, or approve, something that insults the less well off, or gives the finger to those not wanting to see the top 1% get richer at the expense of everyone else, or ignores issues like the climate crisis, their hangers-on and press acolytes tell the rest of us not to be snowflakes, to get over ourselves, and to make sure we know they won, and everyone else didn’t.
But just occasionally, those out there on the right do something so insulting and outrageous that the press and their hangers-on fall silent. So it has been with the news that former Tory leader Iain Duncan Cough has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list. How many front pages carry the news? That would be none.
As the Guardian has reported, “While it is not uncommon for long-serving MPs, particularly former party leaders, to receive honours, Duncan Smith’s knighthood was met with criticism from opposition parties because of his record on benefits … Labour criticised the decision to honour ‘the primary architect of the cruel universal credit system, which has pushed thousands of people into poverty’”. And there was more on the charge sheet.
“As work and pensions secretary for six years from 2010, Duncan Smith was the central figure as significant cuts were made to benefit and disability entitlements during the peak of the Conservative-led austerity period … He faced particular criticism for a botched system of assessing people for disability payments and for helping preside over a rhetorical culture centred on ‘shirkers’ and ‘scroungers’, which charities said led to an increase in abuse against disabled people”. Then came Universal Credit.
The Guardian calls UC “his personal brainchild for a system to replace a series of working-age benefits with one flexible payment. However, UC has proved deeply problematic and slow to roll out, with particular criticism about delays to initial payments, which charities said contributed to an increase in the number of people needing to use foodbanks”.
As Ros Wynne Jones has said in a column for the Mirror, “IDS is being rewarded for his loyalty to the Brexit project, his loyalty to the Boris project and his future silence on the direction of the country, bought off for life … If this is one of the first actions of Prime Minister Johnson we should all fear where his government goes next”.
Worse, Duncan Cough has, by implication, been rewarded for his flagrant and deliberate dishonesty. Remember his going in to bat for alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson after Bozo was “empty lecterned” in Luxembourg? Duncan Cough sneered that the country had been saved by Britain in World War 2. But the army that liberated Luxembourg was that of the USA. And that was not an isolated incident.
He lied about discussions over the Irish border during Theresa May’s tenure as PM, and gave us the marvellously wrong-headed “there cannot be any regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK”. Bozo says there can, and will. His “Action Plan for Brexit” was ludicrously inept, and appropriately short-lived.
On top of all that, he was the one Tory leader who the party would not allow to contest a General Election, as he was widely considered to be terminally useless. Yet here he is getting a knighthood. Arise Sir Duncan Cough - knighted for services to stupidity.
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