Iain Duncan Smith gets a chance to talk up his caring credentials

Written by David Singleton on 21 August 2018 in Diary

The former Tory leader has told how he got made redundant - and made other people redundant.

Back in 2010, Iain Duncan Smith’s campaign manager provided an interesting take on the man he previously backed for Tory leader.

Bernard Jenkin is reported to have said that Duncan Smith was "not emotionally available. For someone who is so closely associated with compassion he is personally very old-fashioned, you might say".

Since the Tory leader-turned welfare and pensions secretary has been called far worse by Labour opponents of his benefits reforms. But pals of the self-styled quiet man of British politics have always insisted that he understands and cares deeply about the plight of unemployed people.

And now listeners of the BBC Radio 4 programme Reflections with Peter Hennessy can judge for themselves.

Appearing on the latest edition of programme, the former Tory is given the chance to talk about the inspiration behind his interest in tackling the root causes of poverty. In doing so, he speaks candidly about being made redundant as a young man.

"Being made redundant stays with you because you drive home, all your aspirations have fallen through a hole in the floor.... I think as a result of that I do know just how difficult it is. I often think politicians who haven’t been through that experience, it’s difficult to understand how human this experience is and they’re not just numbers on a board, being unemployed gives a devastating sense to somebody it can damage everything to do with their lives."

In the most convincing tale about his caring credentials, Duncan Smith tells how he once tore a strip out of a Tory colleague who said that people would have to get used to being unemployed.

"I remember rounding on them and saying: ‘Don’t you ever say that to someone who has been made redundant because you have no idea how devastating it is to be made redundant. They are not just numbers on a board, they are human lives that have been put there and it is our responsibility to make the economy right so that we don’t do this to them. And when we do, you have sympathy.'"

He also recalls the time before entering politics when somebody he had made redundant then died of a heart attack a few months later.

"I went to his funeral and you can’t help feeling that you had to do it because you had to tighten up on the administration…"


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