Ken Loach’s film is too negative about life on benefits, says Iain Duncan Smith

Written by David Singleton on 28 October 2016 in Diary

The former work and pensions secretary is not a fan of the Palme d’Or winning film.

Ken Loach’s new film about life on benefits has won rave reviews from many critics.

I, Daniel Blake scooped the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for its stark portrayal of a 59-year-old joiner facing nightmarish fit-to-work tests.

The Observer’s Mark Kermode gave it five stars and said one sequence left him “a shivering wreck… awash with tears, aghast with anger”.

But others have been less impressed. They include The Sunday Times’ Camilla Long, who branded it “a povvo safari for middle class people”.

And now Iain Duncan Smith.

The former work and pensions secretary believes that that the director has painted an unrealistic picture of life on benefits by focusing on “the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody".

Duncan Smith, who is personally targeted for criticism by characters in the film, said he did appreciate some of Loach’s previous work.

“I happen to have high regard for him as a film director. I’m old enough to remember great films like Kes and stuff, which had huge take-up,” he said.

But speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “The film has taken the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody and lumped it all together and then said this is life absolutely as it is lived by people, and I don’t believe that."

He went on: "The one area I just had criticism of really was his portrayal of the Jobcentre staff.

"I just thought it was unfair. I mean I have travelled round so many Jobcentres talked to so many of them. The vast, vast, vast majority… are there to work to help people sort themselves out.”

There were £15 billion of cuts to the welfare budget over the five years between 2010 and 2015, during which time Duncan Smith was work and pensions secretary. 

In the film, one character disparagingly refers to Duncan Smith as "that baldy t*** Iain Duncan Whatsisface".




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