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Issue #1624      January 29, 2014

“Freedom from benefits” ridiculed

BRITAIN: Disability campaigners poured scorn on millionaire minister Iain Duncan Smith following his comparison of benefit cuts to ending slavery. The Tory Minister for Work and Pensions became an object of ridicule after lauding his regime of savage benefit cuts and sanctions before an audience of politicos at his right-wing think tank, the Centre for Social Justice.

Mr Duncan Smith said his guidance on “the journey from dependence to independence” was “part of our party’s historic mission – just look at Wilberforce and Shaftesbury.”

William Wilberforce and the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury were 19th century politicians known primarily for pioneering anti-slavery legislation in England.

Disability activists planning a day of action next month against reviled welfare contractor Atos derided the speech.

Campaigner and “Where’s the Benefit?” blogger Steven Sumpter dismissed the comparison as “deluded”. “It’s definitely getting rent and food money that traps me, not my illness at all.

“And as for that mobility allowance – that keeps me trapped in my house. That car it pays for enslaves me. I should be freed from its grip,” he said.

Leeds-based activist Ian Morrison called the speech “a complete and utter joke.”

“I’m an ordinary guy who’s worked all his life. I’ve paid into national insurance under the taxation system in this country. That’s what it’s for – to help when something goes wrong – but now I’m being blamed for claiming it because I’m a ‘burden on society’.”

Mr Morrison said many people were scared of publicly protesting for fear of retaliation, but disability benefits were “life or death.” Mr Morrison said the February 19 Day of Action had already seen a 144 pickets confirmed across Britain. “February 19 is going to be a day that this country has never seen before,” he said.

Morning Star

Next article – Okinawa: Anti-base mayor’s election sends message

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