The man charged with administering benefits to thousands of disabled people has been blasted for "shocking" comments made on Monday, which suggested that they are "abnormal".
Iain Duncan Smith, the government's work and pensions secretary, was blasted for creating a "them and us" mentality.
The Tory minister earlier this week responded to news of a rise in the number of people with disabilities returning to work, commenting it was important the figure rise further to meet the employment rate of "normal, non-disabled people".
Duncan Smith's statement earned him a swift rebuttal from one MP, an SNP veteran and the party's social justice spokesperson, who decried his remark as shocking.
Dr Eilidh Whiteford, who worked as a co-ordinator of the Scottish Carers' Alliance prior to becoming an MP, lambasted the ex-Conservative on Twitter, writing: "Did I really hear Iain Duncan Smith talk about 'normal [sic] non-disabled people' just now? Shocking insight into the mentality..."
Did I really hear Iain Duncan Smith talk about 'normal [sic] non-disabled people' just now? Shocking insight into the mentality...— Eilidh Whiteford (@EilidhWhiteford) September 7, 2015
It has since been confirmed that Duncan Smith did make the remark.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK after her original outburst, Whiteford added that the comment was just the latest case in a long line of Conservative attempts to vilify those with serious health problems.
"I thought it was quite a revealing use of language," she told HuffPost UK.
"Given what we know about the very high proportion of those who work with disabilities, to say they're abnormal is not right; it creates a 'them and us' kind of attitude.
"I was quite taken aback," Dr Whiteford added. "I thought the discourse was more evolved than that.
"This government has spent the last five years vilifying disabled people as work-shy, despite the fact some of them have very serious health problems."
Her criticism was echoed by Labour’s shadow minister for Disabled People, Kate Green MP, who lambasted the remarks as "ignorant" and called on Duncan Smith to apologise for them.
“Iain Duncan Smith’s remarks about disabled people in parliament are offensive, hurtful and ignorant." Green told HuffPost UK.
"It’s completely unacceptable for a government minister to single out disabled people as not ‘normal’. The Work and Pensions Secretary should issue an immediate apology for calling non-disabled people ‘normal’.”
Trade union Unite also spoke out, saying the original remarks wrought "shame on IDS".
Shame on IDS and his shocking language | Iain Duncan Smith criticised for calling non-disabled people 'normal' http://t.co/bJn6Jz1Js0— Unite the union (@unitetheunion) September 8, 2015
Other social media users also hit out at the Tory minister, one accusing Duncan Smith of being 'inhumane'.
Iain Duncan Smith says the opposite of disabled is 'normal'. Similarly, the opposite of Iain Duncan Smith is 'human'.— Susan (@marthasydenham) September 8, 2015
A DWP spokesperson refused to comment to HuffPost UK.
The latest scandal engulfing the controversial minister comes weeks after it emerged more than 2,650 people died within six weeks of being found “fit for work”.
Labour branded the figures a "wake-up call" for the Government, which has faced criticism for the way its assessment tests are carried out.
- Group Of Student Lawyers Overturn 95% Of DWP Decisions
- UN To Investigate DWP Over Disabled People's Human Rights Abuses
- Iain Duncan Smith Should Resign, Says Jeremy Corbyn