The international news is pretty grim at the moment. This doesn’t really fit well with the traditional idea that we’re in silly season, when Prime Ministers travel to holiday destinations to point at fish.
Yet something that fits entirely comfortably with silly season is another self-justificatory speech by Iain Duncan-Smith. And today we were treated to a corker. It would be silly, if it weren’t so alarming.
I blogged about IDS’s last big speech back in January. Then I noted:
We have a fine smattering of slogans and soundbites.
There are some extraordinarily sweeping claims about the attitudes, lifestyles and behaviours of those who receive assistance from the state.
If you are looking for simplistic binary understandings of the world – those who work hard and those who are “trapped” in a lifetime on benefit – and implausible generalisations about the moral laxity or weakness of will of those who require state support then you’ve come to the right place.
We have an interpretation of the impacts of welfare reform that can only be sustained as long as we make little or no effort to understand what is actually happening on the ground. There’s a little statistical chicanery of the type that will be familiar to seasoned IDS watchers.
But then no one would mistake IDS for a member of the reality-based community.
Yet, mostly we have a great confused jumble of incoherent fragments of thought and inconsistent lines of argument.
Many of the same ingredients were very much in evidence today. But they were given some new twists and combined with some new ingredients. [Read more...]