The new boss of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) probably wishes she’d never taken the job. Because after a staggering confession from her, Twitter stepped in to give her a bit of a reality check.
The DWP: one in, one out
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has only been in the job a matter of days. Theresa May flung her into the role after former DWP boss Esther McVey quit over the Brexit shambles. But she’s already caused an uproar; not least with her defiant attitude towards UN special rapporteur Philip Alston’s report into the state of the UK. Rudd and the government said they “strongly disagree” with Alston’s view that poverty was a “political choice”. How they can disagree with 14 million people living in poverty is anyone’s guess.
But disagree Rudd did. And when you realise who her favourite film character is, it may come as no surprise.
Slaying her reputation
As the Mirror reported, Rudd said of her “feminist role models” in Grazia magazine:
Could we call Buffy The Vampire Slayer an early feminist? And Katniss Everdeen!
OK, then. If you don’t know, Everdeen was the main character in The Hunger Games series of books and films. They were about a dystopian future where poor people were kept separate from the rich and had to fight each other to the death; all to ensure order was kept in society and the richest were entertained. Ahem.
Now I couldn’t possibly comment on the similarities (really?) between Tory Britain and The Hunger Games. But Twitter saw the irony of a Tory MP, implementing dystopian policies, saying her role model was a dystopian, working-class heroine. And it reacted accordingly:
One of Amber cRudds heroines is from the Hunger Games, she's clearly well suited to her new role as welfare secretary as she will be well used to watching kids fighting for food #AmberRudd #cRudd #poverty
— Call Me Cynical (@CynicalCall) November 27, 2018
BuzzFeed‘s Jess Brammar took the sarcastic approach (I think):
Amber Rudd is asked about her feminist role models, says Buffy and Katniss from the Hunger Games. No idea what this means for how she will deal with Universal Credit. https://t.co/I4xNQqrNIv
— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) November 27, 2018
This person had a message for Rudd:
Ok, so #AmberRudd has revealed that her ‘role model’ is the heroine of ‘The Hunger Games’, Katniss Everdeen. Now Katniss fights a Govt that kills its own youth whilst Ms Rudd BELONGS to a Govt that kills its own youth. Sit down Rudd & read the books again. 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/y5jSdfsT0G
— theninetypercent (@90percenters) November 27, 2018
And Nicola possibly spoke for many people:
Been saying its getting like the Hunger Games for awhile now. https://t.co/GeioGb6q6p
— Nicola Marie 🌹 (@nikpet1) November 27, 2018
But Bath Labour was particularly scathing:
Amber Rudd has hailed a character from the Hunger Games as her role model. A dystopian nightmare where children are forced to fight to the death for scraps of food to send to their poverty stricken villages.@AmberRuddHR: may the odds be NEVER in your favour. https://t.co/vclGW7S6ph
— Bath Labour Party (@BathLabourParty) November 27, 2018
A dystopian nightmare
Of course, the reality is that the UK is getting more and more dystopian under the Tories. As I previously wrote about the DWP’s flagship benefit, Universal Credit:
Its architects designed it to marginalise whole sections of society; to create a dystopian world where an underclass of people exists on its fringes. Couple this with the government cutting public services left, right and centre; homelessness rocketing; social housing decimated – and we are seeing a nightmarish vision, once reserved for science fiction, becoming a reality.
So Rudd’s choice of role model is cause for some mirth. But the reality is there’s a sick and twisted irony in her idolising a working-class, feminist hero. Because much like The Hunger Games, the Tories would probably dream of having any real-life Katniss Everdeen killed off at the earliest opportunity.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?