Prepare your lachrymals for the heart-rending tale of Iain Duncan Smith's trying months of hardship

Plus: Mad Mel's insane logic on Philpott is incontrovertible; Petronella Wyatt bares nearly all for a mere £35,000; and Liz Jones, the Rosa Parks of our generation


After the most heart-rending interview since Simon Cowell told The Looking Glass Gazette of his struggle to find enough Florentine renaissance mirrors to furnish his LA mansion, how long now before a dramatist writes the Kennexfest drama, The Hardship Months of Iain Duncan Smith?

Days after IDS’s chat with the Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce, the lachrymals still seep over how, when he left the army in 1981, poverty obliged him to “live illegally” with his future wife Betsy in a bedsit.

Precisely which legislation the Outlaw Dozy Fails broke is uncertain. It may well have been the since-repealed Censorious Landlady (Living In Sin) Act, 1956, which carried  a minimum sentence of concerted tutting and old-fashioned looks.

Why IDS, pictured, claimed no benefit while briefly out-of-work is also obscure, though hurried references to bank savings and Betsy being employed cannot be discounted. Anyway, this tale of gruelling deprivation explains his fury at the petition asking him to live on £53 a week.

“I have never taken anything from anybody else,” thundered this king of self-reliance, who lives rent-free in his father-in-law’s  £2m Tudor house.

“I ... make my own bloody way in the world ... The personal vilification we have endured over where we live is outrageous.”

Isn’t it though? It’s an abhorrence. The stigmatising of those who must rely on housing benefit, be it from their literal family or the metaphorical one we used to call “the state”, has no place in an all-in-it-together society, and it’s tremendous to see this warrior against social injustice opposing it so strongly.

Keeping culture in the family

We already know, by the way, where The Hardship Months will be staged. The play will debut at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre, named after Betsy’s Arts Council stalwart grandfather, the 4th Baron Cottesloe. The importance of traditional family values in testing times cannot be overstated.

A compromising European connection

Thankfully, IDS’s in-laws need not scrape by on the one title. Betsy’s father, the 5th Lord Cottesloe, is also the 5th Baron Fremantle of the Austrian Empire. Why Austria saw fit to honour a Thomas Fremantle in 1816 seems less a mystery than why no one disavowed the title after the Anschluss, when it effectively fell under Hitler’s aegis.

Another Austrian nobleman, Baron the Captain Georg von Trapp, climbed at least one mountain to dissociate himself from the Third Reich. IDS might petition his father in-law retroactively to do the same. For the professional Little Englander, such a connection must be rather embarrassing.

Mad Mel’s logic is incontrovertible

Melanie Phillips dips a delicate toe in the Philpott debate, meanwhile, blogging that the welfare system is “inescapably implicated in creating a lifestyle of profound amorality and barbarism”. Mad Mel has a gentle rebuke for dissenters from this nuanced viewpoint.

“Those who claim that such an analysis demonises the poor are themselves wholly complicit,” she posits, “in condoning ... the neglect and victimisation of children, the abandonment and abuse of women ....” We leave it there, because the point is already well-made. The best way to demonise the poor as amoral and barbarous is to take issue with those who demonise the poor as barbarous and amoral. Once she explains it, as so often with Her Serene Insanity, all becomes crystal clear.

The Rosa Klebb-Parks of disabled parking

That snap of George Osborne parked in a disabled space inspires a boast from fellow Land Rover-driver Liz Jones. “I do it all the time,” she informs Mail on Sunday readers. “I make a point of doing it.”

For her, this is heroic defiance of wicked councils who over-indulge those unable to walk. Liz is the Rosa Klebb-Parks of the disabled bay, and we salute her as we applaud her brother-in-arms against social injustice, the magnificent IDS.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Production and Merchandising Assistant

£19,000 - £21,000: Sauce Recruitment: A contemporary, original wholesale distr...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor