The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has a new boss. PM Liz Truss has moved former minister for disabled people, Chloe Smith, into Thérèse Coffey’s old job. So, what does this mean for social security claimants? It’s going to be years more abuse, wilful neglect and human rights abuses.
DWP: talking about Smith is a waste of column inches
I was going to write a takedown of Smith. Her bullshit former job as a “management consultant” makes her completely unqualified for the DWP. She only got a senior government role under David Cameron by accident (he wrongly thought she was an accountant). Years ago, instead of asking disabled people what made public transport difficult for them, she pretended to be blind to give herself “greater insight” – trivialising and disrespecting people’s lived experience.
But what’s the point in me spending hundreds of words dragging her alone? Smith is just another talentless, terrible twat in a long line of talentless, terrible twats: over-promoted beyond their capabilities, inherently useless and yet with a nasty streak when it comes to poor and marginalised people. The reality is, of course, that with Truss’s government the Tory Party has literally scraped the dregs off the bottom of an already drained barrel.
Truss’s government: vicious yet vacuous
Make no mistake, though – these fools being utterly incompetent makes them more dangerous than Cameron, Theresa May and even Boris Johnson’s governments. The three of them were just as unpleasant as this lot. But the former two at least had some skill at governing to their toxic agendas, regardless of how horrible the end result was. Johnson was also incompetent but with delusions of grandeur and an ability to showboat that carried his nincompoopery. Truss’s vicious yet vacuous mob have none of this. As the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire wrote, our “clueless” PM:
is untrustworthy and incompetent and has no plan for the country, she is shaping up to be… Johnson without the Old Etonian boorish humour
This will mean more of the same for the rest of us; with Smith, this is particularly true for social security claimants. She has been a DWP minister since 2019. The department on her and Coffey’s watch has continued the wilful negligence, demonisation, human rights abuses and indifference to the deaths of claimants that’s happened for years. For example, Smith herself has defended not involving disabled people in policy making. And Truss has said she is going to “change the incentives” of the DWP to force more people into work. That’s the standard government-speak for ‘cuts’.
The DWP’s hostile environment continues
Of course, the bigger point here is that our social security system is broken and unfit for purpose. Governments based it on the toxic idea that chronically ill, disabled and non-working people are undeserving of the quality of life others have. The DWP keeps them barely living, treating them as a burden on hard-working tax payers who society should exclude because of their inability to be useful to capitalism. This mindset has pervaded successive governments.
With Truss and Smith in charge of the DWP, this won’t change, but their collective incompetence and arrogance will make life even worse for social security claimants.
Featured image via the Guardian – YouTube, Richard Townshend – Wikimedia (cropped under licence CC BY 3.0) and Wikimedia