A good example of his mendacity came last week when he said that he was "very pleased that the Supreme Court unanimously upheld" his programme to force the unemployed to work without pay or lose their benefits. "Ultimately, this judgment confirms that it is right that we expect people to take getting into work seriously." Not so, Iain, as you know full well: the Supreme Court had, in fact, found against him on every ground of appeal he had raised. Even though he had protected his department's hard line on the young by rushing through retrospective legislation, the Supreme Court still hammered him. The government had not provided "sufficient detailed prescribed description" of the work placement schemes on offer, the judges said. The unemployed could not make an informed decision on how best to find work.
Duncan Smith has form when it comes to twisting the truth. Remember when he said that around a million people have been stuck on a working-age benefit for at least three out of the past four years, despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work? His claim was false. Remember when he claimed that his benefit cap had encouraged 8,000 people to find work? Not true either as the UK Statistics Authority pointed out in a strong reprimand. Remember when he claimed he could survive on around £50 a week, carefully omitting to say that he was living in a mansion on his baronet father-in-laws estate? Remember when he claimed (falsely) that he had attended a prestigious public school.?Remember when he claimed (falsely) that he had graduated from a prestigious Italian university?
Why does he keep doing this? The short answer is that his department is falling apart and he has to spin and bluster to cover the shambles he has presided over. His once-grand plans for a universal credit to cover the whole country have shrunk to a pitiful pilot project. His equally overhyped "reform" of disability welfare payments looks as if it is going the same way. The work programme, launched two years ago, doesn’t work. The hardest cases are neglected while private providers profit from shuffling the easily employable into jobs.
It is one thing to be an individual fantasist, telling flattering stories about yourself. It is another to insist that government policy should be directed by fantasy: reality stubbornly refuses to comply.
However, it's not all bad news for Duncan Smith. At least he's getting a good coverage from the political cartoonists. Here's one from yesterday's Observer and another from today's Guardian.