Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Like a casual country gent – but he knows the language of the street

Related Topics

"There'll be business graduates working on checkout tills," one Labour member protested. If true, so what? It would take that over-educated gloss off them in a year or two and teach them business from the shop floor up. The Secretary of State didn't say that or anything like it. The casual, country gent that is Iain Duncan Smith has a better grasp of modern parlance than this street-level, petrol-sniffing sketch.

He's even sympathetic to those who "don't have the confidence" to work (I've found hunger overcomes shyness). And when David Winnick likened him to his Chingford predecessor in memory of his "on your bike" advice, there wasn't a ghost of a defence made of the previous polecat.

Whether or not it was the right advice, Poland took Norman Tebbit literally and cycled over here to find two million jobs that our English indigenes won't do.

IDS did fire up at one point to say he'd been unemployed himself and "quite frankly would have done anything to get a job". And when I glance back over my own employment history (rubbish shovelling, plastic injection moulding, vegetable canning, sketch writing) I find I'm on his side.

Peter Bone told us how people living on benefits kept ringing him up because they wanted a bigger house. I've heard that from a minister's surgery: "I've got two children and my partner has one but we want two ourselves so we need a five-bedroom house, what are you going to do to help?"

How did we get into this state? Yvette Cooper told the House some years ago that a couple with two children on the average income paid no net tax at all – it all came back in benefits. What an exercise in mutual debauchery it has become.

From Duncan Smith's figures, the better part of a million people will be withdrawing from incapacity benefit merely by being asked to turn up for an assessment test. And the system is so complex even the simplification is a cat's cradle of tapers, disregards and abatements.

There have been those who thought the ex-Tory leader was a bit low wattage, but he has put together a painfully detailed package which has a surprising range of support across the House. But it's early days. It's very likely that papers and programmes will be able to find 100,000 people to say helplessly: "I don't know what I'm going to do." But it may also be that the parade of victims having £20,000 a year of rent paid for them will harden the middle-class heart against them. Cuts cut both ways.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next

We need to talk about homophobia in the police

George Gillett

i Editor's letter: Summer holidays are here... so what to do with the children?

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
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