The Conservative Party showed their compassionate side yesterday when Iain Duncan Smith announced a series of training initiatives aimed at helping the homeless by improving their begging techniques.
Seen as central to the idea of the Tories’ Big Society, in which every citizen takes responsibility for his or herself and their community, Duncan Smith told a packed conference hall ‘We need to do more to help these people help themselves. I am ashamed of the state that our country has allowed these people to get into. Their general level of skills is deplorable.’
Mr Duncan Smith, who chairs a Cabinet Committee tackling the underlying causes of poverty, reminisced about the standard of street begging under previous Conservative Governments. ‘I know things were tough at times under Thatcher and Major, but in those days every beggar could play an instrument, sing a song or do a funny little dance. That gave them a bit of self respect because the felt they had earned the few coppers that we would give them.’
Speaking later at a fringe meeting, David Cameron agreed with the former Tory leader. ‘I can speak from personal experience because I met a homeless person once. The poor chap just sat at the side of the road crying and looking rather pathetic. We owe it to these people to give them the tools to increase their earnings potential, so our proposal is to give them lessons in music, dance and marketing.’
The Prime Minister concluded by calling for indigenous British beggars to follow the example of migrant vagrants. ‘You’ve got to hand it to these Eastern Europeans. Iain tells me that he saw a Polish beggar at Westminster station the other evening. His ‘Homeless and Cold – Please Help’ sign was written in four different languages. Brilliant! This makes sound business sense as he was increasing his potential market spread considerably. This is a classic example of Conservative principles in action.’