Listening to Iain Duncan-Smith can be enough to send anyone to sleep. He drones on and one can be lulled into thinking he is being quite reasonable.
However, behind his warm words, there is a chilling attitude to disabilities and particularly to mental illness.
He seems to be saying: There must be something you can do if you are suffering from depression.
And: If we start cutting your benefits, that’ll act as a little nudge to push you gently into work.
Blimey. What planet does he live on?
Having had a little experience of mental illness and those suffering from such long-term disabilities, I have to say that none of this washes.
If you have depression you are ill. It is ridiculous to suggest that you can even get to an interview and give a reasonable performance under such conditions.
The ineffable Mr Duncan-Smith talks blithely about getting into work being like “health treatment”. He seems to be blissfully unaware that in many, many cases the reverse is true. For many mentally ill people, having to even think about going to an interview, especially with a reduction in benefits hanging over their heads, is likely to send them into a grim downward spiral, which could well include suicidal thoughts.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team and blogs at Liberal Burblings.