English: Iain Duncan Smith, British politician...
English: Iain Duncan Smith, British politician and former leader of the Conservative Party. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is said that we are living in an Age of Austerity here in Britain, yet let no man say that we are suffering from austerity of the spirit!

It is written in the Book of Matthew that “the last will come first and the first will come last”. Today in Britain our Get-Up-and-Go-vernment insists, with a warm clap upon our collective backs, that the very last amongst us – those laid low and inactive by paralysis; riddled with poor timekeeping skills from schizophrenia; or just stricken lazy with a coma – will be first, both out of bed in the morning and to their merry graves in the evening, with nothing but a job application in their hands and a positive attitude in their hearts. Even those without feet on which to wear their boots have been instructed in the employability skill of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps; bootstraps bought with the wages from the employment gained through the successful application of their bootstrap-pulling skills. In the regrettable event that a jobseeker’s Will to Succeed is insufficient vis. a vis. overcoming a.) their debilitating physical condition b.) acute neurological damage c.) the laws of logical possibility ~ they are cordially invited to cut the costs of living by tying their bootstraps about their necks and joining the ranks of the Irredeemable Workshy[1] who this government promises will soon be contributing to our economy, if only enough zero-hour contracts can be drawn up for the working stiffs.

If it is feared that a woman inside an iron lung may not be able to hold a secretarial position or that intensive chemotherapy is incompatible with a competitive 9-to-5 work environment, then this can only be due to unfamiliarity with the High Magus of Employment the Hon. Iain Duncan Smith – a man who makes people with terminal, debilitating illnesses fit for work. Listen. Imagine someone in the latter stages of MS ~ almost entirely confined to their bed or chair, their nervous system shot to pieces, difficulties speaking, extremely weak… and yet this wise, this learned, this compassionate man, can make them well enough to hold down a paying job five days a week. Junior doctors and nurses blanch, humbled with shame, in the face of such medical knowledge and prowess; magic worked for countless thousands and thousands of people across the country. Miracles that beggar belief.

It is not as thought the honourable Iain Duncan Smith can merely change the definition of disability or what it means to be “fit for work”. Changing the words would not change the things themselves! Such behaviour would be mendacious and cowardly and Iain Duncan Smith is not mendacious or cowardly (standard definitions not permitted).

Only the other day the venerable I.D.S. painted us a scene. He speaks!!

75% of those stripped of their benefits join in a Heavenly chorus cheering that their punishment for being 5 minutes late to an appointment or needing major surgery on the date of a job interview has helped them “get on”.

Humans like Sarah [her very name emblazoned upon official pamphlets and leaflets] – a woman forged into existence by the very words of the Department of Workfare and Pensions, as per emet inscribed in the forehead of a clay golem – speaks for these unseen, unknown, undocumented masses as she sings: “I didn’t complete my CV and so I was rightfully sanctioned and all my benefits were withdrawn. This gave me the incentive I needed to finish my CV so I’m really pleased my benefits were withdrawn.”

Meanwhile Ian proclaims, in soul-stirring aria, the very walls of existence shaking with the truth of his words: “I told my work coach I had a hospital appointment so I would miss a meeting. This was a legitimate reason and as such my benefits were not stopped.”

Graham, in the golden voice of the holy: “I had suffered a spinal fracture but lo when the angelic hoarde bore Iain Duncan Smith to my bed I cried tears of gratitude as he scattered my benefits to the four winds and lo as my tears hit the floor did my spine fuse back together with my recognition of his beautific and visionary politics! O! Ian Duncan Smith is really good and clever and deserves every penny he gets and definitely didn’t lie about his exam results in his job application or make any bad claims for money and this is all definitely true and I am a real person.”

(While the last quotation is pure fabrication the author submits that he was merely following the spirit of the letter).

It is a testimony to der entrepreneurial geist transfused into the disabled of Great Britain that David Clapson, a proud veteran of our country, despite dying with no food in his stomach and no insulin in his veins, was found laying next to a stack of crisply printed CVs, evidencing his incentivised “can-do” attitude to all who might care to look. One’s heart rests happy in the knowledge that when Saint Peter met him at the Gates of Heaven he was surely given a job at the door! In an age of internet memes and celebrity pranking it shows shrewd business acumen worthy of The Apprentice for a man – faced with the stripping of his benefit – to douse himself with petrol and set himself on fire, sloughing off his skin outside his local Job Centre. Who knows what talent scouts might be scouring the streets of Selly Oak, Birmingham, where the streets are paved with good intentions!

Our Country is, in fact, such a beacon of Hope and Truth and Compassion in its treatment of our disabled (and here the author shamefully admits that he too is one of the many guilty of a hereditary condition he might have snuffed out in the womb) that the United Nations are currently investigating Britain to work out who to praise when the numbers show by how many thousands our disabled population has been decreased. What glorious quotas to have met! Such targets and percentiles! Oh brave new world that has such people purged from it!

And at the centre of this grand experiment the shining unspeakable truth that the man behind so much of this restructuring – our Prime Minister, David Cameron – had a real, disabled son whose short life was supported by the NHS and with governmental benefits that only the most callous and hard-hearted would have taken away. And I don’t even have the heart writing this to facetiously suggest that Ivan Cameron should have paid his own way, even though this man’s regime is literally (not just as a piece of writing on the internet, but really, honestly happening now) asking disabled children and adults with the development level of children to do just that.

In a country in which Ruth Anim – a 27-year-old requiring constant one-on-one care, who doesn’t understand that getting hit by a car will kill her and has the mental age of a 10-year-old – can be declared fit for work, no nasty satirical barb, no joke borne out of anger and desperation potentially misinterpreted as being at the expense of a dead child could possibly be more callous or cruel or inhumane than what this government is currently doing to our country’s most vulnerable.[2]

And if you reading this are, like me, disabled, then please, please hang on. We cannot let those without spirit destroy our own; we cannot let them define us out of existence.

[1]    The “dead”.

[2]    Yet not the last. Whatever they do to us we will never be the last.