Friday, 19 August 2011



Disabled people query whether telling him to jump off a cliff would have the same level of obedience...

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been caught using an accessible toilet, just minutes after telling a live television audience that parents must teach their children “right from wrong”.

Duncan Smith – responsible for a series of sweeping welfare reforms that will see savage cuts to spending on disability benefits – had been one of the guests in a live debate on the riots that had swept across England.

At the end of Saturday’s debate, hosted by Channel 4, the Conservative cabinet minister told the audience that the one thing the riots had shown him was the need for “communities where people take responsibility for their actions for bringing up their children, for teaching them right from wrong”.

Minutes later, the Work and Pensions Secretary – who is not disabled – was caught coming out of an accessible toilet on the ground floor of the building.

Sean McGovern, a wheelchair-user and chair of Lambeth Pan-Disability Forum, who had been in the front row of the audience and spoke during the debate, had been waiting in some discomfort to use the accessible toilet, and challenged Duncan Smith.

When McGovern reminded him of the words he had used in the debate, Duncan Smith replied that “someone told me I could use it”.

McGovern told Disability News Service: “He had been sitting there pontificating, telling us what we should be doing as a society, only then to walk away and flout the ‘rules and regulations’ because he can, because he is who he is.”

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman said: “He wouldn’t have been jumping the queue. He would have been using facilities he was directed to use by the event’s organisers.”

But she refused to say whether this response had come from Duncan Smith, or even whether she had contacted him to pass on the request for a comment.

Disabled activist Kaliya Franklin, co-founder of The Broken of Britain, who published McGovern’s account of the incident on her blog, said: “Recognising when the needs of others take priority over our own is a fundamental part of knowing right from wrong and taking responsibility for our own actions.

“As minister for DWP, IDS is expected to have a greater understanding and sensitivity to the needs of disabled people, especially as the many ‘reforms’ to disability benefits and services are predicated on a claim that accessible facilities are now readily available wherever needed.
“Given the minister’s commendable desire for everyone to be held responsible for their personal behaviour through community service, sick and disabled people will expect the punishment to fit ‘the crime’.

“Apologising and committing to inspecting the standard of accessible facilities, cleaning them himself where needed, would show strong leadership and set an example to the rest of the country that ministers are not exempt from the standards they themselves set for others and demonstrate that we really are ‘all in it together’.”

Channel 4 has so far failed to comment.

News provided by John Pring at


Anonymous said...

But i bet C4 and IDS would happily slam the rioters who claim "my mate/parent/sibling told me to do it".

Obviously he thinks that he is above the rest of society, and proves it by not being able to think for himself.

I would love to see how he copes if he ever ends up disabled. Maybe then we can kick him to the curb and say sorry mate, no benefits cause you shook my hand when ya supposed to have arthritis..

Tim said...

How dare you!

IDS is a gentleman who knows right from wrong. After all, he attended the University of Perugia and Dunchurch College of Management.

Visually Impaired said...

No this is totally systemic throughout. His mentality is do as I say and not as I do. IAN three words for you LEAD BY EXAMPLE

On another note I have been having my own go at the DWP regarding small print documentation. The response I have had from the DWP is no one else has complained ?

Anonymous said...

I guess it proves that they assume they can do all they please!

A joke I just read:---
Five surgeons are discussing the best patients to operate on.

The first surgeon says, 'I like to see Accountants on my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.'

The second responds, 'Yeah, but you should try Electricians!
Everything inside them is colour-coded.'

The third surgeon says, 'I think Librarians are the best;
everything inside them is in alphabetical order.'

The fourth surgeon chimes in, 'I like Construction Workers.
Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.'

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed, 'You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on.
There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine and there are only two moving parts - the mouth and the a$$ - and they are interchangeable'