Once upon a time, there was a discredited Tory leader. There’s been a fair few of those. This one had led his party to electoral humiliation at the hands of Tony Blair’s New Labour, and his lack of leadership skills, his insensitivity and tin ear, his gross incompetence, and his inability to distinguish truth from fiction had caused him to become the most risible leader of a major political party in decades. And that was no mean feat because this is the UK, where establishment incompetence and venality is so entrenched that Gordon Broon is still regarded – at least by the media – as a statesman instead of a man in a bit of a state.
That Tory leader was Iain Duncan Smith. It all started off so well, the Tory hopes that the quiet man of the right would set the party on the road to power after the serial disasters of William Hague’s term and leader were as bright as the glare on Iain’s shiny bald head which was going to rise like a full moon and cover up the star struck embarrassment of Wullie in a baseball cap yo-ing wit da yoof in a pathetically transparent attempt to make like the Tories still had some sort of relevance in the 21st century. The Tory party assured its media acolytes that there would be no more of this press office idiocy, and moon heid Iain’s straight talking and no-nonsense leadership would be a total eclipse of the spun.
The Tories had invested a lot of confidence in a man whose previous term in high office had been restricted to shouting at squaddies while having a sergeant major standing behind him. Following in the traditional pattern of rich and well connected families with idiot offspring, Iain got a commission in the British army. Unsuprisingly, within months it became clear that Iain was scarcely fit to manage a knitting pattern, as he purled himself in knots before the press on a daily basis. Sadly for Iain, but not anyone else, it all unravelled as quickly as the sock puppets on the BBC news, snagged on Nick Robinson’s toenails.
The core difficulty with Iain’s term in office wasn’t any great political dispute, it wasn’t any high priniciples. It wasn’t even the traditional Tory seppuku of party self harm over EU membership. It was that he was a duplicitious lying wee shyster and everyone was laughing at him. It soon transpired that Iain’s claims to have studied at the highly prestigious Italian university of Perugia boiled down in reality to having looked at a pamphlet advertising a course when he was there one weekend with his terribly well off missus, eating pasta and pizza on the piazza.
Iain had wrought such utter devastation on his own party and his own reputation that he wasn’t even able to take the traditional way out, accepting a directorship in a City financial institution. That’s how crap he was, and City financial institutions don’t exactly demand competence, skill, knowledge, or indeed moral probity from their political refugees. Instead, Iain had to flee on pilgrimage to Easterhoose in the hope of rescuing the remnants of his career from the wreckage of ruinage he’d brought down on his own baldy head. You have to be pretty piss poor as a Tory if you need to go and find some credibility in Easterhoose.
Iain came to Easterhoose. He basked in the poverty like a supplicant seeking salvation. Which is exactly what he was, unfortunately the only saving he was seeking was the salvation of his career. And as soon as he’d re-established a place for himself in the Tory party as the man who really “got” poverty, he pissed off in a posh car to a big house, a feat previously only achieved by some of the more entrepreneurial minded residents of the scheme. But Iain did it with pharisee press calls instead of pharmaceuticals.
Rebranding himself as a compassionate Conservative, Iain rebranded compassion too. Previously it meant to share in someone’s suffering, to feel their pain. Iain’s compassionate Conservatism means sharing out the pain so everyone suffers. Everyone except people like Iain, who have had the good fortune to have well connected and wealthy families. Iain’s never had to worry about feeding his well padded stomach. He’s never had to fret about ensuring that his kids have new shoes, that they’ll wake up in a house that’s heated. Iain’s got a cosy life, and that apparently makes him an expert in the psychology of poverty. Although admittedly a day trip to Shandwich Shopping Centre is more experience of poverty than any of the rest of the Tory Eton Boy cabinet have got.
Now Iain is telling us that work is good for your health, and wants us to believe that forcing the sick, the disabled and the terminally ill out to work in a crappy job on the minimum wage is actually a form of therapy for them. It’s all for their own good, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with an ideologically driven assault on the state. Heaven forfend you could think that. Iain’s a compassionate Christian Conservative.
Iain’s the kind of Christian that Jesus would condemn along with the money changers in the temple. I’m not a believer, but Iain is the kind of Christian that gives his faith a bad name, and he’s up against child abusing priests for competition. He thinks that social security is charity, and not an essential means of ensuring that all of us have a decent standard of living and a decent life. Because when there is poverty, when there’s a yawning gap between the richest and the poorest and that gap grows every wider, all of us are impoverished.
The usual suspects have joined in the condemnation of Iain’s incompetent compassion. Andy Burnham and the Daily Record fulminate against Tory policies that penalise those who are already poor, that punish the powerless and malkie the marginalised. But Andy condemnation couldn’t stretch to voting against the Conservatives, and the Daily Record campaigned for a No vote so Scotland was left prostrate before the Tory voting shires. Their compassion is as counterfeit as Iain’s.
There’s only one way to ensure that Scotland is safe from Iain’s brand of pitiless compassion and cruel care. That day is coming ever closer, when the unbearable snideness of Iain and the crocodile tears of those who only pretend to oppose are no more.
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