20_october_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,236

Tuesday 20 October 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

For a man who has visited Auschwitz and written a fairly detailed account of his experiences I can only conclude that Iain Duncan Smith has found inspiration in the brutal cruelty of those who so willingly presided over the suffering and deaths of others. Smith recounts: “Auschwitz was deliberately turned into a factory. To understand how this was achieved one needs to look at the Commandant. According to Whitney Harris, the American prosecutor who interrogated him at the Nuremberg trials, Rudolf Höss appeared “normal”, “like a grocery clerk”. During his working days, Höss presided over the murder of more than a million people, but once he came home he lived the life of a solid, middle-class German husband and father. He even said to the prosecutors that he liked nothing more than to go back to his house and play with his little children in the evening after work.”

I am not suggesting that Iain Duncan Smith is, as yet, responsible for anything like the same atrocities as Höss, but he clearly acts in the same spirit as Höss, deciding the fate of millions, impervious to the suffering, despair, anger, reasoning, entreaty, hopelessness and even deaths of the most vulnerable people in Britain. His faith in himself and his policies is absolute. He responds with anger when challenged in the House of Commons, absolutely refusing to accept for one moment that, as MP Debbie Abrahams said in parliament, “People are dying because of these sanctions!”, to which Smith responded, “No I don’t agree with that”.

It was with feelings of acute dread that I learnt that Doctors are being instructed not to sign people unfit for work on the obscenely renamed ‘Fit Notes’ if they are capable of any (undefined) work at all. My dread arises not from his pernicious interference in the professional capacity of doctors to care for their patients health, that is entirely in keeping with Smith’s welfare, benefits, sanctions regime, it arises because in order to pursue his policies he, like Höss, must dehumanise his victims and deny them any possibility of self determination. This is the despot in action, enforcing conformity to his narrow twisted view blissfully confident, in his overweening arrogance, in the righteousness of his cause. That is what is most terrifying.

As a severely disabled man and writer of these letters this strikes to the very core of my being. Many have questioned why I bother writing a letter a day, what’s the point of writing to a government that doesn’t have the slightest regard for my humanity, a government that regards me merely as ‘stock’? Am I meant to go meekly, a lamb to the slaughter, head bent to the inevitability of despotic totalitarianism from a government that subjects itself to neither legal restraints nor mechanisms of popular control? Do I give up my humanity because that is what is expected and demanded of me and wait for the hammer to fall without one word of protest? I may be ill but I am not stupid. I may be silenced, but it will never be my decision to be silent. I grew up in a world of enforced obedience and oh how I tried to be what was expected of me, and guess what? It didn’t change a damned thing. It was only later in life I leaned to fight, to stand up to injustice, and I’ve seen many changes, no matter how long it has taken to achieve them. It is clear you will never treat ordinary people with dignity and respect, as ever the fight for social justice must be hard fought and hard won.