22 December 2013

The Ebenezer Scrooge de nos jours

According to Wikipedia, Scrooge is 'a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas. Dickens describes him thus: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and he spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice ..."'.  He is 'a coldhearted miser with nothing but contempt for the poor, and who despises Christmas as a "humbug"'.

In this season of goodwill to all men, there is one politician who appears to be making a deliberate attempt to adopt Scrooge's mantle.  The Observer reports:
Iain Duncan Smith, the embattled work and pensions secretary, is refusing to meet leaders of the rapidly expanding Christian charity that has set up more than 400 food banks across the UK, claiming it is "scaremongering" and has a clear political agenda.
Duncan Smith began his reply by criticising the "political messaging of your organisation", which "despite claiming to be nonpartisan" had "repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform". He said his department's record in processing benefit claims had improved and should do so further with the introduction of universal credit.
He rejected any suggestion that the government was to blame. "I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way. I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I'm concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear."
The standoff will further anger church leaders who were incensed by reports last week that the government had turned down a potential pot of £22m of EU funding for food banks, on the grounds that the UK did not want to be told by Brussels how to spend money for European structural funds.
In Dickens' novel, Scrooge eventually sees the error of his ways, persuaded by the three Ghosts of Christmas.  I regret to say that Duncan Smith is unlikely to be amenable to ghostly intervention.


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