Something pinged when I watched this interview. A connection was made where before there had only been a fuzzy proximity. And in that moment, one of the fundamental and perennial problems of politics crystallised.
“Low-value people”? Who defines people in terms of their value? As if it were some predetermined, unchangeable quantity? People who don’t see people as people, that’s who; people who see people as pieces in a game. Their game.
Look at yourself through Iain Duncan Smith’s eyes for a second. What are you? A pawn? A bishop? A king? Are you worth sacrificing for guaranteed mate in four?
Perhaps Risk is a better analogy. Up to six can play, diplomacy and chance have a greater role, and troops can be replenished. (There’s probably an even better one in the world of video games, but since I’ve been out of that world for a good 15 years now, I’ll leave that to the fancy of the digitally minded.)
The metaphorical link between politics and games has always been strong. Games started out, after all, as simplified simulations of life. Military commanders have long used counters on boards to represent troops. Game theory, under the right conditions and parameters, has been revealed as one of the better approximators of human behaviour. And increasing computer processing power means that the gap between simulations and reality is fast dwindling to nothing. It should come as no surprise that the opposite transformation sometimes occurs.
But when it comes to real policies, which affect real people – people you know, people you love – is it really acceptable to think, and legislate, in terms of pebbles or pieces of plastic? How does it feel when a vampire onion with a fake CV writes you off on the basis of a report drawn up by a prematurely balding double-barrelled nanny’s boy straight out of Oxford via Harrow? Who made this fucking loser God?
I can’t shake the image of Duncan Smith, and sundry shadowy halitotic sepulchraves like Dominic Cummings, releasing silent farts in their Soho club, cradling a brandy and sniggering as they dispatch five infantry and two cavalry from Japan into Kamchatka. And then your disability benefits are stopped. Kaboom.
I like to think, if more people kept this image in their skulls as they walked into the polling booth, that our governments would look very different from the way they do today.