Dear Sir Iain Duncan Smith: Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Dear Sir Iain Duncan Smith,

Re: Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Happy New Year and congratulations on your appointment as the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I guess you must be discouraged with the negativity surrounding your knighthood. I understand that over 220,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Queen to withdraw your name from the honour list. I also read that Mike Smith-Clare is planning to return his MBE medal in protest at the decision to knight you. Haters gonna hate. This letter bucks the trend and I hope it serves as a source of encouragement for the man who I regard as the most impactful and influential politician in the United Kingdom since Winston Churchill.

There is no one more deserving of this honour than you. Your life has been devoted to political and public service. In your roles as MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, Chairman of the Social Justice Policy Group, Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Leader of the Conservative Party, Leader of the Opposition and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, you have served Queen and country well.

I agree that you are not everyone’s cup of tea especially during your term as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; but let he/she that is without sin cast the first stone. You did your best under the circumstances, after all, Britain was on a cliff edge at the time of your appointment. With our finances in dire straits due to the Great Recession, we were left with no choice than to take money from the poor. Thanks to your strict adherence to the government’s austerity programme, you saved the country billions of pounds by milking the poor — the proceeds which were put to effective use in subsidising weapon manufacturers who were able to produce stuff, which is now being used to blow up little children in Yemen. Sir Iain, you have a lot to be proud of. Under your watch as Works and Pension Secretary, you contributed to the increase in the number of people using food banks, the demonisation of people living with disabilities, removal of poor people’s social safety net and an uptick in childhood poverty and homelessness.

You deserve a Noble Peace Prize for implementing the iconic Work Capability Assessment programme, which saw people with chronic illness humiliated by proving that they were deserving of their welfare payments. You must have been delighted seeing the mother with a grown-up son with severe brain damage receiving threatening letters from the job centre insisting he comes for an interview and hearing about the woman whose husband killed himself in front of her after losing his benefits. For Britain to progress as a society we have to make life difficult for “shirkers” and “scroungers” who don’t want to work. You would be pleased to know that you have many supporters who approve of your tactic to make life a living hell for the poor and marginalised. You are a Reverse Robin Hood who successfully stole from the masses to give to the classes.

For those who question your Knighthood, my question to them is — If Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin, if Robert Mugabe, If Jimmy Savile could all get a knighthood from the Queen, why on earth should you be stopped from getting this award? Sir Iain, fortune favours the meanest, the toughest and the heartless. You have always been on the right side of history. You were one of the first politicians to call for an invasion of Iraq; you made it harder for sick and disabled people to claim benefits; you were the architect of the much loved universal credit system which has plunged thousands into poverty; you were part of an organisation that came up with policy recommendations which the European Court of Justice deemed as “unfit for a modern democracy” and “verging on frighteningly authoritarian”.

Those who suggest that your knighthood is a reward for cruelty and failure insult Britain. The Knight of the British Empire (KBE) is the most prestigious award in the world. Besides being named after a ruthless empire that has no relevance in the 21st century, the KBE is only awarded to individuals with proven track records. Look at your remarkable achievements — you were the first Conservative leader since 1937 to fail to lead his party in a general election campaign; your leadership was once described as a handicap; you were kicked out as Conservative leader via a vote of no confidence; your novel with the apt title ‘Devil’s Tune’ received a negative reception; you were once found to have broken the UK Statistics Authority’s Code of Practice for Official Statistics and under your watch, the UK became the first country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people.

In conclusion, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Keep your head up because your place in history is assured. Don’t let the naysayers silence you. As you once said, “The quiet man is here to stay, and he’s turning up the volume.” Please continue to turn up the volume and don’t forget to screw the poor, the hungry and the infirm in the process.



January 2020


Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Centre for Social Justice

Faiza Shaheen

Disability Rights UK

The Trussell Trust

Writer and social critic