Comment: Iain Duncan Smith is undoing years of struggle for disabled rights

For IDS disability is an aberration that needs to be, and can be, fixed


Iain Duncan Smith’s latest gaffe shows clearly the direction he is taking the country in. It is a return to an age of prejudice.

Speaking in the House of Commons, yesterday, the work and pensions secretary talked about getting disabled people in work up to the levels of ‘normal, non-disabled people’.

A slip of the tongue? Maybe, but one that reveals the dangerous ideology which lies behind IDS’s welfare reforms, which is reversing decades of struggle for disabled rights.

For IDS it is now clear that disability is not something to be embraced, let alone celebrated as part of the diversity which makes us all stronger. Disability is an aberration. It is a problem which needs to be fixed.

And if those who are different get the right therapy, or where necessary they are sanctioned, they can be pushed into the workplace to become like ‘normal’ people.

This is one-size-fits-all welfare. It is how over four thousand people can die after being certified ‘fit for work’. It is why he is moving therapists into job centres, and why and the Conservative manifesto suggested sanctioning those who refuse medical treatment. It may well be why some people on benefits are taking their own lives.

When my own disabled son started in a mainstream primary school, he lined up to take part in the 100 metres with the rest of his classmates. What the teachers didn’t know was that his small powered wheelchair would only travel around half the speed that a child of his age could run.

The starting gun was fired. The children set off, and as the penultimate child crossed the finish line there was my son half way down the track, pushing the joystick on his chair as far as it would go. Suddenly, someone in the crowd started to chant his name: “Samuel, Samuel…”.  Soon everyone else joined in, and cheered him across the finish line.

As a parent of three children, I know that we always tell our kids ‘it’s not the winning that matters, but the taking part’. Deep down we all love it when our children win. But at that point, in that school, I can honestly say that every child, every teacher, and every parent really knew that it was the taking part that was important.

Over the next few years, that school changed because it had included a disabled child. And it changed for the better. The monochrome culture of testing, competition and league tables was challenged. There was first hand exposure to the reality of a world of diversity and difference. Prejudices were overcome. Everyone’s experience was richer as a result.

‘Nothing about us without us’ was a slogan at the heart of the campaign for civil rights and the anti-discrimination movement. It led to important victories for equal opportunities, empowerment, the removal of social barriers and changes in attitudes.

The position of disabled people in the UK improved with more accessible transport, access to work, independent living, employment and housing, culminating in the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

Campaigners also recognised that equality required real social inclusion, not forced integration. Integration is about coercing the disabled to fit into a non-disabled world. But inclusion acknowledges the barriers that a non-disabled world creates. It then seeks to address them by changing the way it works, and empowering everyone to play a full part so they can help bring about further change. And when it does, everyone benefits together.

This was what lay behind the establishment of the Independent Living Fund and Disability Living Allowance. The former has now been abolished. The latter is in the process of being phased out.  And along with them progressive social attitudes are going too. A huge rise in disability hate crime should come as no surprise, when the disabled are told they must take on non-disabled notions of ‘normality’.

Iain Duncan Smith is returning us to dark times of inequality, social exclusion and discrimination.

Jonathan Bartley is the Green Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson. Follow him on Twitter 

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111 Responses to “Comment: Iain Duncan Smith is undoing years of struggle for disabled rights”

  1. Achilles

    What’s depressing is the number of people on welfare, who should be supporting themselves.

  2. Achilles

    What’s wrong? Can’t take criticism, you commie fool?

  3. Achilles

    If so, then the fools on this site who really believe that Socialism is the answer have not learned from history. Socialism DOES NOT work. It didn’t or doesn’t work in the USSR, Yugoslavia, China, Cuba and Vietnam.

  4. Faerieson

    And there we have it!

    You see, whereas I’m right to pigeon hole you- clearly, your hatred for your fellow, less-fortunate human beings has corroded your grasp of humanity- you’re quite wrong to pigeon hole me. I don’t depend upon welfare, I simply understand that it’s a natural progression for a decent society.

    It beats excreting upon one another, and then blaming each other for being excreted upon.

  5. remarx

    The phrase proto-fascist is perfectly matched for this man (check the dictionary definitions). His views are proto: “primitive, ancestral, or original” and Fascist ” a person who is dictatorial or has extreme right-wing views”.

    So there you have it; not silly phrases but straight out of the dictionary if you have the ability to use one. Tories can use them too!

  6. remarx

    By the way, I forgot to ask you if you were a NEO “Greek, combining form of néos; akin to new”, NAZI “implies being intolerant of other people’s views and practices”

  7. Achilles

    I’m a NEO-nothing. I’m a proud Libertarian. I believe in total freedom to live my life as I see fit as long as it doesn’t physically harm my neighbours. I don’t believe the State should feed me, house me, employ me, clothe me, or do what I am capable of doing for myself. My neighbours should do the same. And by neighbours I mean everyone else, including you.

  8. Achilles

    It’s not compassion, to take from others hard earned money (i the form of confiscatory taxes) to only give it to someone else who hasn’t the willingness to work for it. All this under the threat of imprisonment or financial penalties. Where is the compassion in that?

  9. Achilles

    Your philosophy is somewhat dictatorial (does dictatorship of the masses ring a bell?).
    You can name call-me whatever you wish to label me, it’s irrelevant. I’m neither from the Right nor Left, for that matter. I am a Libertarian who believes in total freedom from the State. You, on the other hand, appear to be quite content for the State to coddle you throughout your lifetime. This philosophy is similar to years past when the peasants where totally dependent on their Monarchies for survival (now who’s primitive and ancestral?)

  10. Jayne Linney

    I could justify myself for you but won’t; you’re presumption re my working status etc demonstrates your patronising ignorance nicely

  11. Achilles

    Obviously, my statements are accurate and to the point..

  12. Nick

    your too far on the right and that’s never good only those that show compassion for others have a genuine happy and fulfilling life

  13. Achilles

    You’re too far on the Left to understand the meaning of making your own way in life and survival. Compassion is a responsibility of charities not government. That’s why charities are exempt from paying taxes. Government should treat its citizens equally regardless of their status in life. Companion Fascists are as evil Croney Capitalists.

  14. Nick

    but most people in the world are on the left and are happy they work hard and ask for very little they love me which is important and in my travels over the past 60 i have had some wonderful moments with memories that will last a lifetime

    i live surrounded by those on the right with their front doors shut there of no use to me at all the sick and disabled

    JC is the future and over the next few years we will see big changes for the young and hope for everyone else

  15. Achilles

    Faerieson, if you have so much empathy for your fellow man, just turnover your paycheck (provided you have one) to whoever you feel is deserving of it. Stop trying to take other peoples money (OPM) in the form of confiscatory taxes just to make you feel good.

    Furthermore, who says that welfare is “… a natural progression for a decent society.” other Socialists. For thousands of years, Darwin’s conclusion of, survival of the fittest was the order of the day. It seems to me that that would be a MORE natural state than the Welfare State.

  16. remarx

    Most people wish for themselves what you are saying, i.e. self sufficiency from the state if possible, it’s human nature. But to address your quote:
    “or do what I am capable of doing for myself.”

    What of those who cannot do it for themselves? That is the point of this debate.
    What would you do with those unfortunates?

  17. Faerieson

    I’d seriously consider seeking some sort of ‘help,’ if I were you. Which I am not, and for that I am immensely grateful!

    I think we’ll call it a day.

  18. Nick

    achilles will never change his ways until he falls ill and then has to rely on the likes of my wife on the minimum wage for his care

    shes always being told thank you by the conservative relatives that they didn’t realize how involved care was for those at the end of their life

    on a plus note they do have the decency to write her a nice letter and enclose a small thank you gift card on the death of their loved ones for the wonderful treatment that she had given to their mother/father

  19. Faerieson

    My mother too, depends upon these levels of wonderful care. The owners of the home have set their costs sky high, but the delightful staff are on a minimum wage.

    Mum was a lifelong Tory and an avid Daily Mail reader, and is now too old to appreciate the irony.

  20. remarx

    Can’t take your comments seriously any more, I’m positive you’re a wind up merchant basing your persona on ‘Mr Doberman’ of Harry Enfield fame! Nice one.

  21. Wayne Pooney

    That’s communism

  22. Achilles

    Wayne, unless you’re an idiot or just pulling my leg, you know there’s only a hairline difference btwn Communism and Socialism.

  23. Nick

    and genocide against the weakest is also a failure hence all the uprising in the middle east all all led by far right conservative groups

  24. Achilles

    Before health care was provided by “the government” it was affordable for the masses. Now Doctors, other health professionals, Medical Schools, malingerers, scammers, and people with minor ailments (i.e, breast too small) etc. charge or cause to charge exorbitant fees because they know the Government will pay for it.
    Furthermore, why didn’t YOU take care of YOUR Mother instead of some strangers who were in business solely to suck from one of the government’s many teats. I would assume your parents took care of you as a child (and probably through early adulthood) You could you not see fit to return the care that your Mother needed and pawned her off to some strangers. Some child you were.

  25. Achilles

    First of all, the uprisings in the middle east were a result of people seeking freedom and liberty from oppression. It had nothing to do with Left or Right Groups. Seems to me as though they had more in common with Libertarians.
    Secondly, genocide is a strong word to describe a policy that coerces and encourages people to care for their needs themselves instead of having someone else do it for them. If everyone did that, there would be ample money available to take care of the really helpless members of society.

  26. Achilles

    Working people voted for this “lot”. You know, the one’s who pay taxes and don’t try to scam the people, which obviously doesn’t include you.

  27. Achilles

    No, I’m not a “fookin student” whatever that is, nor am I being paid by Disqus. I’m an independent thinker and libertarian who has a total dislike of assholes from the right and left.
    Both groups want dictatorships based upon their warped sense of “fairness”. I, on the other hand want total freedom, to do as I please, as long as it doesn’t physical harm others. I don’t want others to tell me how to live my life. Collectivism, gang-ism, clan-ism, tribalism, group-ism, nationalism, socialism are NOT my thing. Individualism is.

  28. Faerieson

    Go away!

  29. Achilles

    If you’d read my other submissions to this Blog, you would have noticed that I do believe in helping those who truly can’t help themselves. I just don’t want the government to do it. The government is a complete failure when doling out welfare. They have given out moneys to those who are undeserving of welfare, thereby depleting from the welfare budget, funds that should have ONLY been made available to the truly needy.
    The government has de-personalized welfare to such an extent that their own workers don’t really care who’s on welfare as long as their office space is rid of “these people”.
    Welfare should be dealt with by legitimate charitable organizations, only. Charitable organizations, Churches are tax exempt for a reason and should be made to earn their tax exemptions by administrating welfare. These orgs. profess to really care for their fellow man (and woman) so give them the responsibility. At first welfare money would come from taxes but gradually reduced over years, as they will have to survive with contributions. I believe they would do a better job of seeing through these scammers and frauds who are currently milking the system dry.
    I would venture to say, the country’s welfare recipients would be reduced by 90% if charities managed welfare.
    P.S. I do donate to responsible charities, do you?

  30. Achilles

    The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

  31. Faerieson


  32. Nick

    Your a little like myself quite a deep thinker and you have a point on the church and the charities with regards welfare

    with regret and i know everything about charities and the church there not what they were

    as for today’s charities they only offer verbal help and for anything above that will depend on your post code in many circumstances

    as for the church that is i have found over the years is just a meeting place for business and business chat and general chit chat nothing of trying to do something for the local community albeit this is a conservative church i grew up in in eltham

    by a large is was a conservative church going under the umbrella of a Christian church

    And there lies the problem from when i was kid looking out for the old the sick and disabled and being of help with a friend those days are over in fact if i’m being honest they never took off as it was only my family that provided any type of support to the local eltham community from 1950 to 1980 when my mother moved away after my fathers death

    so the idea that a charity or church will step in and fill any gaps is years away but it is something i would like to see in operation like on my estate as chairman i look out for those that need help or guidance and work on what i can do but as i say it’s not much as the charities as i say are not what they seam and in reality all they do is what i do and give advice

  33. Achilles

    Dear Nick,
    I can appreciate your skepticism re Churches (and other charitable institutions) “stepping up to the plate”, as they say in America, to take over the responsibility for seeing to the those of us who can’t take care of ourselves. However, I can almost guarantee you that once you take away any tax benefits from churches or a charities. they will fall in line quickly. To borrow from another American phrase, “money talks, shit walks”.
    Another aspect that has been missing from the conversation is the role of off-springs WRT to their parents. I believe once an OAP is declared indigent or otherwise incapable of taking care of them selves, all their off-springs should share in the responsibility to see to it. This could be in the form of taking them into ones household or through payments for their care. A penalty should be assessed on off-springs for failure to do so.
    And while we are on the subject of taking care of parents, let’s not forget the cost of raising a child. My belief is that both parents of a child should shoulder the financial responsibility to raise that child. If a custodial parent decides to remain single (or un-wed) he/she should be required to identify the non-custodial parent to the local council. Each council should assess the cost of raising that child (based on local COL) and notify the non-custodial parent. He/she would be required to pay half that sum directly to the mother or to the Council (with admin fees added). The Council would then make payments to the custodial parent. Failing to ID the non-custodial parent or failure to pay child support should be a felony and result in after hours/weekend jail, if necessary.

  34. Vice Squad

    Aye .. alright then…

  35. Achilles

    That’s the most sensible thing you’ve said so far. Have a good day, laddie.

  36. Achilles

    Now that you have your “Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party” stand by for heavy rolls, as we used to say in the NAVY.What I mean is, be prepared for permanent opposition. I wouldn’t be surprised if Labour split up over his coup. It happened before in 1981. Labour swung to far to the Left so numerous Ministers bolted the Party and formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). It then merged with the Libs in 1988 to form the Lib/Dems. So like I stated, it will probably happen again.

  37. Achilles

    Another broad brush of stereotypical banter. I read “. . . the Express, The Mail . . .” and few hundred other papers (the Guardian included). I’m very sane and fully understand how the political process works and doesn’t work. I also fully know how socio-economic systems work and don’t work. And Socialism/Communism does not work.

  38. Achilles

    Be leery of what you hope for, it may come back and bight you in the ass.

  39. Achilles

    The BBC is left wing and you know it. It just so happens it isn’t nearly as left wing as Jeremy Corbyn.

  40. Faerieson

    Truly, you are either God or you are insane/deluded. In which case you either already know what I’m thinking, or you believe that you do. Either way, we really don’t need to continue with this arcane means of communication.

  41. Achilles

    Wow, I must have really gotten under your skin. But as it has been said, the truth hurts.
    BTW, I thought Socialist/Communists don’t believe in GOD?

  42. Nick

    Dear Achilles 🙂
    your reference with regards offspring is very valid and yes they need to do more but for some reason tend to stay away in my experiences from seeing their elderly parents and only to be seen on the death of their parents

    This is uncommon in the international community and would be mainly a UK problem

    child support is a huge topic that if i’m honest not that best on

    my main topic of specialty is one of community care as that is what i have 50 years of experience in plus also my wife is a carer but we do need more overall responsibility in those that have children as bad parenting needs to be stopped by a better overall education and not by the government lowering the benefit cap

    The benefit cap is also a huge topic and in general needs a wide debate on how best to implement the change without clearing out all the low paid workers from London

  43. Faerieson

    I don’t! This being but one of several aspects of your posts, in which I do not believe. I’m comfortable with this. I could deal with truth, should it ever infiltrate your ramblings.

    The problem is your’s… but, for reference:
    Omnipresence requires that, yes, you must be “under my skin.”
    Omnipotence requires that you know what I’m thinking now. Deal with it and, when you have, understand my response in advance.

    Thus, any further correspondence on your part leaves you falling far short of your own high regard for self.

  44. Simon J Duffy

    Excuse me! I’m not sure who this “Left” are who don’t believe in God; but I’m quite sure God believes in the Left: “For thy power standeth not in multitude, nor thy might in strong men: for thou art God of the afflicted, an helper of the oppressed, an upholder of the weak, a protector of the forlorn, a saviour of them that are without hope.’ [Judith]

  45. Achilles

    Are you kidding me? Nearly 80 years of Communist power in the Soviet Union and P.R. of China, and nearly as much as preset day Cuba, Vietnam and to a lesser extent Venezuela and you quote me a scripture to justify your position, you need to better than that.
    P.S. Let’s not forget your very own, Corbyn.

  46. Simon J Duffy

    You have a curious way of constructing an argument. Just to be clear:

    (a) I agree with Jonathan that disability rights are under attack; in fact my organisation, The Centre for Welfare Reform, has proved that disabled people have been targeted above any other group by the Government [] (b) I am a Christian and, as far as I can tell, many other people who object to the current Government’s extreme right-wing policies are also Christians. In fact one of the founder of the welfare state was Archbishop William Temple. You can read more here: []
    (c) So, if you want on that basis to call people like me “the Left” then it clear that many on the Left do believe in God – which was your first ridiculous statement
    (d) Moreover I do not value or want to live in a communist society. One of the great achievements of the welfare state was to show that we could build a society which avoided the extreme exploitation of either uncontrolled capitalism or the totalitarian oppression of communism. See for instance Hannah Arendt on this subject: [] You cannot simply identify anyone who objects to the current Government as a closet communist.

  47. Achilles

    Simon – I don’t wish to call you a dupe of the Left (Socialist/Communists), but sharing like minded philosophies with the Left is tantamount to joining forces with a lesser enemy to combat a bigger evil. This is a common practice by the Left to ultimately overthrow their temporary partners once their shared foe is defeated.
    Your brand of (compassion) Socialism can not be sustained for very long. Even your beloved Swedes rejected parts of it when the people threw out its Socialist. Eventually reforming the system to a more capitalist friendly environment.
    Your glorious “Welfare State” will ultimately implode just as it did in the Soviet Union and as it is presently being transformed in the P.R. of China. The Welfare State needs to be dismantled now, for the sake of the country.

  48. Achilles

    Well Simon, now that I’ve read some of your rants for last few years, on this Blog, it’s easy to see where you are coming from. My conclusions on the Left and you in particular are confirmed. You madness is only preceded by you total stupidity on human nature, history and common sense.

  49. Wayne Pooney

    But there is a difference

  50. Achilles

    The only real difference is in the manner in which both philosophies take power. Socialist (rightly or wrongly) usually are elected. Communist almost always undermine the election process (through deceit, trickery or other chicanery) OR through violent revolution. Regardless how either attains power, they share the same goal. Just look at what you idol Corbyn just said. He wants to raise taxes (i. e. Soak the rich)
    He wants to re-nationalize all government services.
    He wants to nationalize strategic industries
    Sounds like communism to.

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