Iain Duncan-Smith wants to drag British politics into a Dickensian dystopia where unemployment and poverty are seen as moral failings rather than social problems. In a recent interview he appeared to be describing the refusal of the unemployed to take up offers of work as “a sin”.
But who exactly is this egregious scumbag who pronounces upon the moral fortitude of people who have faced hardships beyond his worst imagining?
Duncan-Smith has personal wealth of over £1 million. That puts him towards the bottom of the Cabinet's rich-list (23 out of 29 Ministers are millionaires) but on a different planet from the people he will be throwing off or forcing to work for benefits.
After a private education at a naval college, and a few years as an officer in the British army in Northern Ireland, he walked into a highly-paid job at arms manufacturer GEC.
As Tory party leader, he was involved in a scandal about dubious expenses claims he submitted on behalf of his aristocratic wife, Betsy, who worked as his secretary and for whom he drew a hefty salary.
What makes Duncan-Smith’s welfare reforms galling is not the mere fact that he has a lot of money but that he has lived a life walled-off from the merest trace of any of the problems that the vast majority of Britain's benefit claimants have had to do deal with. His life has been characterised by privilege, entitlement and the easy transition from one job in the upper echelons of the ruling-class to another.
The only way to respond to him is by building for a future in which the views of people like Iain Duncan-Smith are treated with the same belligerent contempt as he now treats the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.