After Michael O’Sullivan’s Death, Iain Duncan Smith Makes Obscene Claim that his Mission is to “restore people’s lives”.
Pleased as Punch: IDS Sneers at those Suffering Welfare Reform.
At the Conservative Conference the present Secretary of State for Work and Pensions poured scorn on people who have suffered, including those who have died, under the impact of his Welfare ‘reforms’.
Iain Duncan Smith has insisted the government must “rededicate itself” to its shake-up of welfare, saying its mission is to “restore people’s lives”.
The work and pensions secretary told the Tory conference the party was tackling the “something for nothing” benefit culture inherited from Labour.
He warned “the job was not done” and vowed to ensure to make work pay and reduce numbers on sickness benefits.
He also denounced the “bile” of protesters outside the conference.
Addressing Conservative activists, many of whom have said they have been subject to personal abuse from anti-austerity protesters as they entered the Manchester venue, Mr Duncan Smith said his party would “not be moved” and challenged Jeremy Corbyn and other senior Labour figures to disassociate themselves from such behaviour.
“You’ve had to come through the line up outside of the bile and hatred of what is now the Labour Party,” he said. “That is who they really are. That is what they represent.”
The same day the Guardian has published this:
Iain Duncan Smith will today have the chance to give his personal response to a case that has placed the darkest of clouds over his programme of welfare reforms, when he addresses the Conservative conference.
The discovery that a coroner had directly attributed a man’s suicide to his being found “fit for work” was a significant moment in the work capability assessment (WCA) scandal. It appeared to be the first time that a coroner had blamed the WCA process – designed and overseen by Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions – for directly causing a death.
“The anxiety and depression were long-term problems,” said Mary Hassell, the north London coroner, in her verdict on the death of Michael O’Sullivan. “But the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (benefits agency) as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.” Hassell felt so strongly that something had gone badly wrong that she completed a Prevention of Future Deaths report, because she believed there was “a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”.
But the significance of the coroner’s conclusion – and the report – would have been far less clear if it weren’t for a heart wrenching ITV News interview with Michael O’Sullivan’s daughter, Anne-Marie. “If they continue to assess people the way they assessed dad,” she said, “we will continue to lose lives. Vulnerable people need support and need help and we should be able to give them that support. We shouldn’t just let them fall by the wayside.”
Guardian. 6th of October.
Iain Duncan Smith did not respond directly to this tragedy.
He did however state,
Conservative welfare philosophy, he told his audience, was “rooted in human nature, not utopianism nor empty pity” and its reforms,such as the cap on household benefits, the introduction of Universal Credit and the national living wage..
Only to claim, that his attacks on people
were driven by the objective of “ending poverty, not entrenching it and restoring lives, not parking them”.
The brazen Welfare Minister continued,
Fairness must be at the heart of the welfare state, he insisted, not just for the most vulnerable but for the taxpayer as well.
The party, he said, did not regard those unable to work as “victims”, insisting that many of the long-term sick and those with disabilities wanted to return to employment and the government would help them to “work their way out of poverty”.
“We have to raise the value of work – but not as Labour tried to do with the taxpayer subsidising wages through tax credits,” he said.
“As Conservatives we don’t want people to work just for tax receipts. We want people to work because it’s best for them, their family and their communities… all our reforms have a simple principle at the heart of them: to restore lives.”
He added: “Surely, we want to know that what we do in government rebuilds and restores the least of us. That is our purpose, not to rejoice at victory, no matter how hard won but to re-commit, even re-dedicate ourselves to this simple yet vital task.”
During his speech Iain Duncan Smith mocked the dead and the victims of his sanctions schemes by attacking those who dared to protest at his cuts.
The work and pensions secretary began his speech with an off-script attack on Labour and anti-cuts protests that have dominated this year’s conference.
Mr Duncan Smith mocked the ‘tears’ of 60,000 activists who massed on Sunday to protest against cuts to child tax credit and disability benefit
He said he would reform welfare – but “not by tears and entreaties or slogans and protest so beloved of the hard left now running Labour.
“Rather by the simple, yet difficult act of helping to restore their lives to be the best they can be through determination and not dependency – that is genuine compassion.”
During this hysterical rant the Conservative Minister went still lower.
The Mirror notes,
At one point he even descended into a monologue about his war hero dad – saying he’d taught him a sense of fairness.
So fair, indeed, to Michael O’Sullivan.