How about we stick Cameron’s entire cabinet on £53 a week

Sticking Cameron’s cabinet on £53 a week would in itself be a stunt. But in the age of rich public school boys being parachuted into safe seats without having any experience of life outside Westminster - the struggle for jobs and daily budgets far more demanding than anything Osborne has had to get his head around – it might just be a necessary wakeup call.

After Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live on £53 a week in benefits instead of his £1,581 a week post-tax salary, he was challenged by an online petition to put his money where his mouth is.

Within a day the petition attracted more than 200,000 signatures. It has now secured over 300,000 signatures.

Petitions are hardly the strongest form of political protest, and this is something of a stunt, but my name is on that list because I think there is a worrying disconnect between rich politicians and the real world.

If Iain Duncan Smith were to take the £53 a week challenge, I wouldn’t expect to see a road to Damascus, or for this die hard dyed in the wool Tory to abandon his long-held ideological commitment to neo-liberalism. But at least it would show the man whose bedroom tax is to make 660,000 people living in social housing £728 per year worse off the everyday effect of his policies.

It is little surprise that a cabinet dominated by millionaires has consistently acted in the interests of its class with expensive tax giveaways to society’s richest individuals and the world’s biggest corporations, while clawing back money from Britain’s poorest. It’s basic self-interest, which displays a tragic lack of empathy for those less fortunate.

Sticking Cameron’s cabinet on £53 a week would in itself be a stunt. But in the age of rich public school boys being parachuted into safe seats without having any experience of life outside Westminster – the struggle for jobs and daily budgets far more demanding than anything Osborne has had to get his head around – it might just be a necessary wakeup call.

You can sign the petition calling for Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week here.

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25 Responses to “How about we stick Cameron’s entire cabinet on £53 a week”

  1. Anthony Masters

    I think it’s quite absurd to mandate that ministers do something of a personal nature. If it isn’t absurd, why not gunk them whilst we’re at it?

  2. Salman Shaheen

    No one’s mandating anything. And no one’s saying this is anything other than a stunt. But the point is it does highlight just how disconnected the Tory millionaire front bench is from everyday existence.

  3. Anthony Masters

    Your article was more general about the disconnect between politicians and the public. It would be more interesting to explain how that gulf has widened, and the reasons for it, than to engage with political stunts such as this one. There is also an e-Petition now, but they’ve spelt Iain wrong:

  4. Salman Shaheen

    Even Monbiot, whose idea it was, says it was a stunt. I agree you need much deeper analysis, but I don’t think there’s any harm in headline grabbing moves to sharpen the debate. As I said, it’s hardly going to achieve anything like an ideological about face, but it does highlight the disconnect very crisply.

  5. Grocky Groc

    this could well be that ‘Let them eat cake’ moment – the UK is becoming a tinderbox of seething resentment and MPs are making sparks…

  6. Anthony Masters

    It does highlight that disconnect quite well, particularly when the wealth of both front-benches are brought up. Stunts are not overtly harmful, but too many in succession can dull public interest. They are also particularly helpful either. The petition itself is grabbing the headlines, but have not necessarily focussed around the benefit reforms themselves. It can back-fire too:

  7. Salman Shaheen

    Quite right, the wealth of the opposition bench is equally important and apart from a few honourable examples, I think Labour is every bit as guilty of promoting the cult of careerist politicians.

  8. Paul Madley

    Damn right. Here in Manchester people are raving about getting a female MP. That seems more important than the fact she went straight from Uni to working for Labour HQ…

  9. Anthony Masters

    The number of MPs that have flowed from university to a think-tank or affiliated organisation, to becoming a Special Adviser, to standing for Parliament is utterly incredible.

  10. nye bevan

    Labour is worse because they talk about sharing the wealth whilst accumulating it themselves when they can. Conservatives believe people can have different amounts because they believe in equality of opportunity rather than outcome.

  11. Salman Shaheen

    I don’t believe Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity, which begins with a level playing field. They are more interested in maintaining an uneven status quo. That said, I think Conservatives are often more honest in representing the interests of their class.

  12. Heather Buchanan

    Yeah i say they all do it for a year. In council houses. No carpets.

  13. Eric Harry Daly

    Iain Duncan Smith is like his father, a conman and criminal

  14. Alan

    I think it would do them good, character forming and all that. Seriously, they would gain insight and be the wiser for it. The arrogance of politicians who oversea departments they know absolutely nothing about never ceases to amaze me.

  15. SadButMadLad

    Well the first thing you can do is read into the real circumstance of Mr Bennett. It seems he has not been quite truthful about his situation. Not surprising with someone who calls himself a “ducker and diver”. It looks like he actually has £156/week left over after paying all his bills. A bit different from the £54/week. And Mr Bennett is not that badly off being able to pay the cost of a Sky subscription and broadband and run a van as well as gamble.

    Careful about signing that petition, it’s likely that you might get egg on your face when it turns out that Mr Bennett is a scrounger rather than a striving market trader.

  16. Emma Bain

    Indeed i wish people would stop dreaming there will ever be a good government, they are all corrupted and always will be, i don’t vote because i know it’s a lie that we make that decision when we actually don’t, it helps to create the illusion of freedom when were not free we are just slaves to pay off their houses that allows them to live off us for free. Even the fact that having money means were not poor is a lie, when money is all we really have so we are still poor. They hold against the people that we cannot survive without them but we can and eventually will, i have never danced around the idea of being governed or which party to vote for because i just want to be free.

  17. Sparkly

    What a load of crap. Does the chairman of a supermarket have to have spent time stacking shelves in order to run the company? Does the CEO of a building company need to know how to operate a digger to make strategic business decisions. You think former Labour ministers weren’t wealthy? You think John Prescott wasn’t a wealthy man? Why weren’t you calling for them to live on income support for a week? Hypocrisy.

  18. hardly likely but...

    how about left food forward pays its interns?

  19. 2Legsbetter

    I have experience of IDS, he was a non exec for a software company competing against my company. Although he had officially resigned the post he called the CEO of a major UK blue chip and demanded that the purchasing decision made in my companies favour was over turned. Unfortunately we live in a very corrupt country where people like IDS prosper!

  20. Salman Shaheen

    I’m don’t think Bennett’s individual circumstances are really at the heart of the issue. What’s important is what IDS’ policies are doing to the poor in general.

  21. Eve Hodges Hayes

    I imagine that he has direct debits that go well over this amount which would all have to be cancelled and some may be contractually binding. I think we need to address the them and us mentality and I’m not sure that some people are capable of that level of empathy and understanding of how people become who they are psychologically.

  22. salamisausage

    Mr. Shaheen,

    You write “rich public school boys being parachuted into safe seats without having any experience of life outside Westminster”. Surely you are describing Miliband and his cohorts..

  23. salamisausage


    Would you care to share the evidence you have
    for this ridiculous statement?

  24. salamisausage

    Mr. Shaheen,
    Now that poverty is “relative” do you personally know anyone who is genuinely poor? Anyone with a Sky subscription, a flat-screen TV, a car, a mobile ‘phone and the latest trainers is not poor.

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