SALMA YAQOOB confronts Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith on poverty, austerity & and the government’s labelling of those on benefits as “scroungers” | BBC Question Time, 12 June 2014
"My full-time job is actually mental health. I have seen myself, how people have become suicidal. I have had to counsel people who have lost their loved ones who said they did not want to be a burden on their own families because the support has been taken away. These are very, very real issues. And it’s [cuts to benefits] being done in the name of austerity. We’ve had this drive of people being called scroungers when actually half of the people on benefits are pensioners, our pensioners in this country are not scroungers. 60% of people on benefits are in work, but the wages are not paying enough to feed their families.
Yet I’m sitting next to Iain Duncan Smith, who quite happily labels poor people as scroungers, when you claim £39 for a breakfast, like you can’t afford your own breakfast, when you live on your wife’s estate, and have taken £1.5 million of taxpayers money. That’s what I call scroungers, that’s what I call shirkers.”
So glad that Yaqoob said this. Like so many, I’ve been disgusted by the vilification of poor people under the current British government, and the political impunity the Lib/Cons have enjoyed as they wage their war on the British welfare system and the people it used to assist. Lord knows, back in 2012 that was basically all my tumblr was about.
I’m elated that Yaqoob says what she came to say despite being interrupted by three different white men in under two minutes. See how they flail about trying to shut her down? Trying, and failing to close ranks. Their language intends to belittle her intelligence, accuracy and question her political maturity. “What a lot of nonsense” says Iain Duncan Smith again and again, as she backs him into a corner. The dimwit David Dimbleby, whose sole public function is to maintain the status quo, (in a very gentlemanly fashion) orders Yaqoob to answer the question. Surely a person with his journalistic experience knows that politicians reframe the question they’re asked and give the answer they came to give? It’s alright when white men with party backing/influence/money do this very thing, but apparently not when Yaqoob does. I’m sure the question was boring anyway.
But she doesn’t let them to dismiss her! I cannot count the number of times I’ve been talked over and talked down to by white British men. My statements informed by education, research or experience are interrogated, picked apart, evengoogled when similar statements by a white man would be accepted as truths. Apparently, women of colour’s speech is always awaiting verification. I love that Yaqoob refused to succumb to all those familiar silencing tactics, and so quickly articulated a powerful case against austerity.