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A petition objecting to a knighthood for former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith has hit more than 200,000 signatures.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain was knighted in the New Year’s Honours list for “political and public service”, sparking a backlash over his role in the creation of the Universal Credit benefits system.
Sir Iain was the architect of the heavily-criticised system that has been blamed for leaving poorer claimants worse off and causing problems as people face delays for payments.
A signature set up objecting to the politician’s knighthood on Tuesday had reached more than 220,000 signatures.
The petition on change.org, set up by psychiatrist Mona Kamal, brands Sir Iain “responsible for some of the cruellest most extreme welfare reforms this country has ever seen”.
She wrote: “Under his stewardship of the Department of Work and Pensions the UK became the first country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people – an investigation which later confirmed that our government had been guilty of “grave and systemic violations of the rights of disabled people.”
The Labour Party activist, who has been pictured with leader Jeremy Corbyn, said she has witnessed people driven to panic attacks and depressive illness “over the prospect of losing their welfare payments”.
She added: “There is no place for these cruel dehumanising measures in any civilised compassionate society, and the fact that Iain Duncan Smith the individual responsible and the architect of such misery, is to receive the honour of a knighthood is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable individuals across this country who are suffering as a result of his policies and to those who have tragically lost loved ones as a direct result. He must not be knighted.”
The petition creator isn’t the only one to criticise the decision to award Sir Iain a knighthood.
Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said he had been responsible for creating a welfare system in which people were expected to survive for weeks without payment, causing “untold stress”.
“It beggars belief that Iain Duncan Smith has been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours list,” she said.
A Labour Party spokesman said it was “unfortunate to see that one of Boris Johnson’s first priorities” was to reward Sir Iain – the “primary architect of the cruel Universal Credit system, which has pushed thousands of people into poverty” – with a knighthood.
“Boris Johnson should be trying to fix his party’s shameful mistakes, not give out rewards to those responsible for its failure,” they said.