I read this about Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol”, and it occurred to me that although this story was written in 1842, it could just as easily apply to Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP today.
His dranconian policies relating to benefit sanctions for the most spurious of reasons, leading to huge increases in people attending food banks, the bedroom tax meaning that people are left in debt in order to pay the spare room subsidy. If people are unable to pay this, then they could be evicted and made homeless. The merciless persecution of the sick and disabled by way of Atos assessments. His dogged refusal to meet with the Trussell Trust, his abuse of statistics, the obscene cost of Universal Credit.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is the second of the three spirits (after the visitations by Jacob Marley and The Ghost of Christmas Past) that haunt the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to prompt him to repent. When he first appears before Scrooge, he invites him to “come in and know me better, man.” According to Dickens’ novel, the Ghost of Christmas Present appears to Scrooge as “a jolly giant” with dark brown curls. He wears a fur-lined green robe and on his head a holly wreath set with shining icicles. He carries a large torch, made to resemble a cornucopia, and appears accompanied by a great feast. He states that he has had “more than eighteen hundred” brothers (1,842 to be exact, the story being set on Christmas Eve 1843, the year of its publication) and later reveals the ability to change his size to fit into any space. He also bears a scabbard with no sword in it, a representation of peace on Earth and good will toward men.
The spirit transports Scrooge around the city, showing him scenes of festivity and also deprivation that are happening as they watch, sprinkling a little warmth from his torch as he travels. Amongst the visits are Scrooge’s nephew, and the family of his impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit.
The spirit also shares a vision of Tiny Tim‘s crutch, carefully preserved by the fireplace. Scrooge asks if the desperately ill Tim will die. The Ghost first states that “If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.” Then – quick to use Scrooge’s past unkind comments toward two charitable solicitors against him – suggests he “had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
The spirit finally reveals to Scrooge two emaciated children, subhuman in appearance and loathsome to behold, clinging to his robes, and names the boy as Ignorance and the girl as Want. The spirit warns Scrooge, “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” The spirit once again quotes Scrooge, who asks if the grotesque children have “no refuge, no resource,” and the spirit retorts with more of Scrooge’s unkind words: “Are there no prisons, no workhouses?”.
The Ghost of Christmas Present, having already aged, reveals that he will only exist on Earth for a single year’s Christmas holiday. He finally disappears at the stroke of midnight on Twelfth Night, and leaves Scrooge to face the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, as it approaches “like a mist along the ground”.
I pray that IDS is visited by the ghosts of those individuals that his policies have killed.