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5 April 2016

Iain Duncan Smith cries about a poor person – apparently forgetting his part in punishing poor people

The former Work & Pensions Secretary breaks down in tears about the plight of a single mother during a TV interview.

By media mole

In the most extreme and sickening case of “too little, too late” ever to happen in British politics since Nick Clegg’s autotuned tuition fees apology, Iain Duncan Smith has wept on telly about the plight of the poor.

During a documentary out this week called Workers or Shirkers?, the recently-resigned Work & Pensions Secretary breaks down in tears during an interview with Private Eye‘s Ian Hislop, who is presenting the programme.

(Watch from 1:09):

Duncan Smith is describing an estate he visited where he met a young single mother, when all of a sudden the most crocodilian of tears begin prowling down his cheeks.

“When I sat and talked to her, I sensed that she wanted to do something; she wanted to be better than her circumstances,” he tells Hislop. “But she had no skills, she had fallen out of school, she didn’t know where to go. And I remember leaving there thinking, very simply, ‘this is my daughter’.”

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He looks down as his voice quivers and his eyes fill with tears. “I’m sorry I’m quite emotional about this. 19 years old,” he swallows, before pausing for another weepy moment. “My aspiration for my daughter was boundless. And here I am sitting with a 19-year-old girl who’d written off her life and had no aspiration, and no self-worth. She was a product of the system. And my point was, what could I have done, what could we do, to change her life?”

Hmm, your mole could think of a few things. How aboouuuut stop punishing welfare claimants with arbitrary and punitive benefits sanctions so that they can actually pay to live and look for jobs without being at the mercy of Job Centre staff with sanction quotas, protect the state help disabled people rely on to stay alive, refuse to perpetuate a rhetoric of “shame” and “scrounging” surrounding benefits claimants, don’t impose damaging and thoughtless caps on welfare per household, let council tenants have a bedroom without further impoverishing them for it, and stand firm against the aggressive dismantling of the welfare state as we know it?

Or, y’know, you could just do a highly publicised weepy interview after the fact and claim you’re the moral one. That’s probably easier, to be fair.

If you want to read our coverage of IDS’s multiple mistakes:

Ashley Cowburn on IDS’s shameful welfare legacy

Anoosh Chakelian revisits Easterhouse to find the undoing of IDS’s “epiphany”

Stephen Bush eviscerates IDS’s record in government

Charlotte Jee tracks the failure of IDS’s welfare reform plan, Universal Credit

Sarah Ditum on why IDS is the Great Crapsby