Monday 23 December 2013

Iain Duncan Smith's tirade against the Trussell Trust

For once the mainstream corporate media has picked up on the appalling behavior of the Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and actually condemned him for it. The criticism was provoked by the contents of a letter written by Iain Duncan Smith to the food bank charity the Trussell Trust, in which he made clear once again his inability to string together anything remotely resembling a coherent argument.

Iain Duncan Smith's arrogant and downright dishonest rejection of an invitation to meet with food bank bosses in order to discuss strategies to cope with the exponential rise in food poverty is yet another demonstration of his refusal to take the issue of food poverty seriously. 

His outright refusal to meet with the charity that has fed over 500,000 people since April, and expects to feed over one million next year is just another example of his absolute contempt for the desperately poor. Just a few days previously he made his total lack of concern perfectly clear by putting forward the atrocious Esther McVey to make one of the most nauseatingly partisan and dishonest speeches ever made in parliament, sniggering away behind her for a while before ducking out of the debate entirely.

One of the most ridiculous parts of Iain Duncan Smith's ranty letter was the part where he accused the Trussell Trust (a charity) of only raising the issue of food poverty in order to boost their "business model". Using the term "business model" to describe the activities of a charity that receives charitable food donations and distributes this food aid for free to the needy as a "business" is a clear attempt to create the fiction that the charity is only interested in raising awareness of food poverty due to their own self-interest. He is an absolute cretin if he thinks anyone but the most hard core Tory tribalist is going to unquestioningly accept his transparent efforts to undermine the good faith of the Trussell Trust directors, the hundreds of volunteers that work for them and the tens of thousands of people that provide the charitable food donations.

Another absurd part of Iain Duncan Smith's diatribe was the part where he chastised the Trussell Trust for supposedly "scaremongering". The audaciousness of accusing others of scaremongering over the subject of food poverty is made absolutely clear by the contents of the appalling Esther McVey  food poverty speech I mentioned earlier, in which she repeatedly used the tired Tory tactic of fearmongering about the national debt in order to justify the exponential growth in people reliant upon food banks since the Tories came to power in 2010.

In defence of his decision to snub the charity that is doing so much to help the desperately poor - and their children - to avoid malnutrition, Iain Duncan Smith wheeled out a DWP spokesperson who claimed that "There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks". 

This is quite an extraordinary assertion given that in April 2013 the DWP unilaterally changed the food bank referral form used by jobcentres in order to remove the section detailing the reason for referral. The Trussell Trust had been using it to collect statistics that clearly demonstrated that significant percentages of Jobcentre food bank referrals were being made due to changes in the welfare system and long delays in processing claims, so the DWP just deleted their source of "robust evidence" in a blatant attempt to obstruct the truth.

To make such a brazen attempt to hide the evidence is bad enough, but to then falsely accuse the Trussell Trust of lacking "robust evidence" is truly shameless stuff. To their credit the Trussell Trust have continued gathering evidence about the reasons for referral despite the deliberate obstruction of the DWP. If this independently gathered evidence is not "robust" enough for the DWP, perhaps they should reinstate the reason for referral section on the forms that they use to send those rendered destitute by Tory social security cuts off to their local food bank?

Another factor that should be considered when the DWP claim that the evidence presented by another organisation is not "robust" enough is Iain Duncan Smith's claim in July 2013 that he doesn't need to present evidence to support his (false) assertions about the welfare system as long as he claims to believe them to be true. If Iain Duncan Smith doesn't require evidence to back his own assertions, it is stunning hypocrisy for him to chastise others on the basis that their evidence isn't good enough.

The confrontational attitude adopted by Iain Duncan Smith towards the Trussell Trust is indicative of his deep psychological problems. It is clear that he sees anything that is not an outright declaration of support for his attacks on the social security system as personal criticism, which he cannot abide.

The tactic of the compensatory narcissist is to resort to outright attack against anyone that is perceived to be a critic, even when the source of the perceived personal criticism is a charity which is clearly acting in good faith.

As bad as it is, Iain Duncan Smith's aggressive and confrontational attitude towards a charity that has helped hundreds of thousands of people put meals on the table for their kids isn't even the worst of it. There's a very sinister undertone to the letter which has been completely missed by the mainstream press.

The parts of the letter that are of such concern are the points at which he criticised the “political messaging" of the Trussell Trust. He claimed that they are politically partisan because they link the growth in food poverty to Tory "welfare reform".  Here's a quote:

 “I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear"
In the context of the Tory attempts to use their so-called lobbying bill to censor what can be said by charities, voluntary groups, social activism sites, trade unions and religious organisations, this kind of language is deeply concerning stuff.

The Tories and their Lib-Dem sidekicks have attempted to claim that their "Silencing of Legitimate Political Debate and Protection of Corporate Lobbying" Bill will not be used to silence charities and other independent non-profit organisations, however it is absolutely clear from Iain Duncan Smith's wording that he is determined to create the narrative that the Trussell Trust are pushing a political agenda when they talk about food poverty, or present evidence that the rise in food poverty is linked to Tory welfare reforms.

This kind of language demonstrates that Iain Duncan Smith is eagerly anticipating the passage of "the gagging law". He's already building the narrative that the DWP will be using to silence criticism once the gagging law comes into effect. Once this rotten piece of legislation is passed, the Tory party will be able to use it to intimidate charities like the Trussell Trust into remaining silent on welfare reform, no matter how strong their evidence of a link between that Tory "welfare reforms" and rising food poverty. If they dare to speak out about it, Iain Duncan Smith will try to use the gagging bill to silence them.

The worst thing about this Tory attack on the free speech of charities and other organisations that Iain Duncan Smith is eagerly anticipating is that legitimate evidence based criticism of charities will be deemed "political interference" and stifled, yet corporate media outlets like the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Murdoch rags and the Express will be allowed to overtly support the Tory party, and to continue publishing outright lies about the welfare system (many of them originated by the Iain Duncan Smith, the DWP and other members of the Tory government).

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