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Iain Duncan Smith heckled at Edinburgh speech

Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith. Picture: Getty

Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith. Picture: Getty

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

THE UK minister behind the controversial bedroom tax was shouted down by protesters during a keynote speech in an upmarket Edinburgh hotel.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was twice forced to call a halt to the address to charity leaders yesterday after demonstrators smuggled themselves into the event and caused disruption.

The Coalition Government minister has been at the centre of angry protests in recent months over the impact of the overhaul of the benefits system. It includes the bedroom tax which will see housing benefit cut for tenants with an empty bedroom in their homes, but has been met with opposition from the SNP Government and council leaders in Scotland who will have to implement it.

The former Tory leader had been attempting to defend the shift towards a universal credit yesterdaymorning. But he was silenced as he rose to speak in the George Hotel by North Edinburgh anti-cuts Protestor Willie Black who shouted him down for several minutes before storming out.

A few minutes into the address he was then interrupted by two partially sighted protesters, Sasha Callaghan and Cameron McKay, who stood up and began heckling the minister.

Mr McKay said afterwards: “I’m looking at losing my house, which means I’m looking at moving to a smaller place which means I’m going to spend large periods of time in hospital having a carer to take care of me in my house.”

Mr McKay, who suffered two strokes and caught pneumonia, relies on income support and disability living allowance which are being hit.

Ms Callaghan said: “Nobody who is a disabled person deserves what’s happened to us at the moment - all that rhetoric calling us scroungers and skivers. That’s leading to so much disability hate crime.”

She said her 19-year-old son, who has learning difficulties, was being hit by cuts to the independent living allowance and claimed the reforms have led to a rise in disability hate crime.

She added: “That man in there is responsible for some of the policies and rhetoric that is making people behave like this towards disabled people and actually we wanted to give him a little bit of his own medicine.”

 

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