£53 a week

According to Metro, Iain Duncan Smith said that he could live on £53 a week if he had to. It provoked outrage, which surprised me. Come on, he couldn’t quite say – this cannot be done and I don’t know how so many people are managing on benefits.

For propaganda purposes, he might even go and live like that for a week (which I doubt). But it would be just trying to live like common people:

  • he would know that the hardship was going to end soon – he could even survive on bread and water – his pride and career would be at stake
  • he lives in a comfortable house – no lumpy mattress, draughty windows and threadbare carpet that need replaced even though there’s no money
  • he has everything he needs already – his winter boots are not falling apart, his kitchen blender is in fine working order and the microwave is not just a distant memory
  • he wouldn’t know the fear many of us feel every fortnight – will the benefit be arbitrarily stopped or sanctioned? What happens then? An hour on the phone to get a crisis loan? No electricity or gas until they sort out the blunder?
  • he would not feel the shame when a cashier chattily asks you about what you do for a living or how was work – you don’t want to lie but neither do you want to justify yourself.

Anyway, let’s be really daft and imagine that IDS would come to live with one of us and share everything. Do you think he would say what he really thought about this experience or that it would have any impact whatsoever on his policies? Just listen to him: we are scum. We put ourselves in this position by not being able to find a job in the recession or by getting sick. Now we are bankrupting the state by asking for handouts. Do you ever compare your life to a sewer rat’s? Well, nor does he.