Iain Duncan Smith has been heavily criticised after appearing to suggest that people with disabilities are ‘abnormal’, it has been reported today.
The ‘shocking’ comments were made in Parliament on Monday, where Iain Duncan Smith was defending the Government’s record on helping unemployed disabled people into employment.
Mr Duncan Smith told MPs in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon: “I think the figure is now over 220,000, which I believe is the highest figure since records began, in proportionate terms.
“But the most important point is that we are looking to get that up to the level of normal, non-disabled people who are back in work.”
He was immediately criticised by the SNP social justice spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford, who took to twitter to say his comments showed a “shocking insight” into his mentality.
Did I really hear Iain Duncan Smith talk about 'normal [sic] non-disabled people' just now? Shocking insight into the mentality…
— Eilidh Whiteford (@EilidhWhiteford) September 7, 2015
Mr Duncan Smith’s comments come soon after official figures revealed that around 90 benefit claimants have died each month in the last three years after being found ‘fit for work’.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Ms Whiteford later said the Conservatives have a long history of vilifying sick and disabled people – and this was no exception.
“I thought it was quite a revealing use of language”, she said.
“Given what we know about the very high proportion of those who work with disabilities, to say they’re abnormal is not right; it creates a ‘them and us’ kind of attitude.”
Ms Whiteford added: “I was quite taken aback. I thought the discourse was more evolved than that.
“This government has spent the last five years vilifying disabled people as work-shy, despite the fact some of them have very serious health problems.”
Yesterday, the SNP reiterated its calls for benefit sanctions to be frozen, as well as calling for a full and independent review into Department for Work and Pensions practices.
Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Kate Green MP, described Mr Duncan Smith’s comments as “ignorant” and called on him to apologise to anyone who may have been offended.
“Iain Duncan Smith’s remarks about disabled people in parliament are offensive, hurtful and ignorant”, she said.
“It’s completely unacceptable for a government minister to single out disabled people as not ‘normal’.
“The Work and Pensions Secretary should issue an immediate apology for calling non-disabled people ‘normal’.”
Britain’s biggest trade union Unite tweeted: “shame on IDS and his shocking language”.
Shame on IDS and his shocking language | Iain Duncan Smith criticised for calling non-disabled people 'normal' http://t.co/bJn6Jz1Js0
— Unite the union (@unitetheunion) September 8, 2015
Another twitter user added: “Iain Duncan Smith says the opposite of disabled is ‘normal’. Similarly, the opposite of Iain Duncan Smith is ‘human’.”
Iain Duncan Smith says the opposite of disabled is 'normal'. Similarly, the opposite of Iain Duncan Smith is 'human'.
— Susan (@marthasydenham) September 8, 2015