The return of Duncan Smith, Cameron’s Workhouse Master


THE announcement that Iain Duncan Smith has been re-appointed as Work and Pensions Secretary and charged by Cameron to step up the Tory onslaught on benefits represents another piece in place in the civil war cabinet assembled by the Tories.

Duncan Smith, probably the most reviled and hated Tory by workers and youth for his previous attacks on the unemployed and low paid through the previous coalition’s ‘welfare reforms’, will now be turned loose with no restraint on the cuts he can inflict.

This was made clear in the Downing Street statement that he would continue with his task of ‘making work pay and reforming welfare’ through the implementation of universal credit ‘reforms’ – with their cap on the benefits that can be claimed – as part of £12 billion worth of cuts that the Tories are demanding must be made in the welfare budget.

During the election campaign the Tories flatly refused to say how these cuts would be made. What has been revealed so far is that they will freeze all working age benefit for two years, stop completely housing benefits for youth aged 18-21 and reduce the household benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has pointed out that this would only ‘save’ £1.5 billion a year leaving £10.5 billion unaccounted for. The rest of the money will come from cuts to every other benefit from, restrictions to child benefit, cuts in child tax credits, along with savage cuts to housing and disability benefits.

The intention is to drive benefits down to below poverty levels, with young people used as cheap labour fodder for the zero-hour contract employers on forced labour schemes.

Duncan Smith joins the equally hated Michael Gove, who is now the justice secretary, tasked with scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’.

The Tory definition of a ‘Bill of Rights’ is one that gives workers and youth the right to starve while fulfiling the Tory pledge to make strikes illegal.

The Tories are set to really go for the working class following their election victory, secure in the knowledge that they have no opposition from the Labour Party reformists who are completely shattered, to the extent where the discredited Blairites, with the blood of the dead in the Iraq war on their hands, are emerging from their holes to insist the party must swing even more to the right and become the main party of ‘business’ once again.

Similarly they face no opposition from the leadership of the trade unions who have been silent apart from TUC leader, Frances O’Grady, who ‘hoped’ that Cameron will govern ‘as a one nation Prime Minister’ and Unison who sent a letter to the new Tory health minister politely asking him to reverse privatisation of the NHS and ‘respect’ health workers by paying them the minuscule 1% pay rise recommended last year.

These leaders have sat back and done absolutely nothing to defend their members or the welfare state but have done everything in their power to keep the working class movement shackled to the Labour Party, despite its support for austerity and balancing the bosses’ budget.

Now they are reduced to begging favours from a Tory government that is out to destroy the unions and the working class and will use every means of the repressive capitalist state to achieve this end in order to keep bankrupt British capitalism from collapsing under the weight of the bankers’ debts.

It was this leadership that dumped its own policy of considering the feasibility of organising a general strike to fight the austerity of the coalition on the grounds that it would harm Labour’s chance of being elected.

This treachery cannot be allowed to continue. Workers must organise to remove the TUC leadership and build a new leadership inside the trade unions, one that will call a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers government and socialism.

This requires, as a matter of the utmost urgency, the building of the WRP and Young Socialists into massive revolutionary organisations capable of organising the taking of power by the working class. This is the only way to answer the question that the masses are asking – what do we do now after Labour and the trade union leaders have collapsed in front of the Tories.