Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal legacy marches on


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,501

Sunday 24 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Words are the candles of our souls, in which a brighter light shines but stumbles for expression. 1,500 letters are just my own flickering light of the struggle in Tory Britain.

For reasons which are beyond comprehension, David Cameron led your party in a brutal war of austerity aimed specifically at the poor and disadvantaged in which disabled people have borne the greatest burden of cuts.

I graphically remember the day I discovered that I was not well, that I lived with an internal austerity I do not believe you have any concept of or idea about. I was in my early twenties and woke one morning feeling extremely strange, a feeling that persisted throughout the day. It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I realised what it was about. For one day I felt inexplicably well and it was in that moment in the afternoon that the thought occurred to me, ‘If this is how most people live their lives, no wonder they seem to manage life so much better than I do’.

For one day I was free of the searing black hole in which I lived my life, the terrible mind bending austerity of depression which at one point had led me to beat my head against my bedroom wall, without awareness and without conscious volition. My brother found me and held me, preventing me harming myself further, until I came back to conscious awareness.

For this, for the crime of disability, Iain Duncan Smith launched his crusade of punishment and denial of social security declaring, ‘work actually helps free people’. This from a man who had visited Auschwitz and seen the words forged in iron above the gates, in his own words, “It was when we walked into Auschwitz 1 through the gate with its infamous statement, Arbeit Macht Frei, that I realised how little I really knew about this place of cruelty and death.”

Who could have guessed that he would ever bring the legacy of Auschwitz to Britain and build it into his pogrom of welfare reform? Who could have known that a peer of the realm, David Freud, and unelected Minister of State for Welfare Reform would have the temerity to say, “people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks” as they have “the least to lose”?

As MPs take their summer recess, the legacy of Smith lives on whilst he walks free, as does Freud. Men guilty of unimaginable crimes against poor, sick and disabled people, men without care or conscience. My voice may not count as much, but of this I am certain, I will never be silent in the face of such brutality.


Work makes you free

Iain Duncan Smith MP: Reflections on a visit to Auschwitz amid political crises back home


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