Iain Duncan Smith - smarter than Joey from ‘Friends’, but blind to the truth

Who will hire a man unable to differentiate fact from fiction?

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The Independent Online

Imagining a tomorrow when the political titans of today are forced on to the jobs market by the cruelties of electoral politics, I fret about Iain Duncan Smith.

The Work and Pensions Secretary struggled to find work on leaving the army in the early 1980s, and next time things could be bleaker. Who will hire a man unable to differentiate fact from fiction? While this is an old problem for IDS, his claim to have attended the University of Perugia – exposed as a fantasy by Newsnight in 2002 – was understandable. I myself falsely recall a spell as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Less easy to write off, however, was last week’s insistence that 8,000 unemployed people have been motivated to find work by the benefits cap IDS masterminded from the £2m Tudor home in Bucks in which he lives rent free. This was ridiculed by the UK Statistics Authority’s Andrew Dilnot, whose patience with Iain’s more fanciful statements is close to exhaustion. Since there is no questioning Iain’s intellect – BetFred make him 8-11 favourite to edge an IQ contest against Joey from Friends – it must be a psychological flaw that blinds him to the literal truth. With the spectre of unemployment in mind, he needs professional help if he is ever to win his dream job as a shelf-stacker. He wouldn’t last two hours if he fiddled the figures with his price sticker gun, and labelled Tesco’s Finest fillet steak at £0.17p per kilo.

English as a foreign language, or gibberish?

Things look brighter for the shadow Home Secretary should she leave politics. Yvette Cooper has a future teaching English as a foreign language, having illustrated on BBC1’s Marr show that she already speaks English as a foreign language. “We want him to face a fair trial in Jordan,” said Yvette of Abu Qatada, “for the serious crimes, you know, against which he’s been accused.” Anyone who objects to that on the grounds that it was gibberish is reminded that this is just the sort of grammatical pedantry against with which we will not put.

Activists attack as badgers are culled

I am saddened to read, in The Sunday Telegraph, that Dorset’s wealthiest landlady has been the victim of online abuse from animal rights activists who believed she was allowing a badger cull on her estate. Charlotte Townshend is well loved throughout Dorset, but particularly in the village of Melbury Osmond abutting her home. Tenants are especially thankful for the free wake-up call each morning, when her biofuel-filled trucks begin their incessant journeys through the village at 3am, in the cause of raising her estimated fortune of £375m to a less precarious level.

Blair’s guilt for the suffering of children

On entering his seventh decade, a reflective Mr Tony Blair shares his guilt over the troubles endured by his children during the No 10 years. He only learned of this at a recent family dinner, Blair tells CNBC, because at the time Cherie felt her role was to protect him from domestic pressures “so that he could make the right decisions.” And thank heaven for that. Had he known his kids were suffering, he might have made a grievous misjudgment by steering clear of Iraq. There is no word whether he feels any guilt for that country’s young, though of course their problems were restricted to the more trivial end of the childhood spectrum (hunger, disease, being orphaned, death, that sort of thing).

May the force be with you George

Is George Osborne trying to become likable? Fresh from an amusing interview with John Humphrys about the lachrymal eruption at the Thatcher funeral, the Chancellor popped up yesterday to brag about his part in bringing the production of the latest Star Wars movie to Britain. “It looks like the force is strong with this one,” he concluded, before succumbing to a frantic giggling fit. All right, the aperçu would not have won George a lifetime pass to the Algonquin Round Table. But at least the boy’s having a go, and we must give him credit for that.

Surgery, then presidency ...

Chris Christie, the morbidly obese governor of New Jersey, tacitly announces his intention to run for President in 2016 by way of gastric band surgery. Just sayin’, Eric Pickles. Just sayin’ ...