WHY HAS IDS REALLY RESIGNED?…ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD PLEASE

JOHN McGURK

One of the joys and privileges of running a proper newspaper is the ability to call upon the specialist responsible for trying to make sense of the big issue of the day and demand that 1000 words be ready when the editor returns from lunch.

Naturally, some were able to perform this task with ease and enthusiasm while others visibly dropped their shoulders and wandered off muttering under their breath that they were being hard done by, poor souls.

And so it is with the story which is dominating the news agenda: the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, the man who led the “bastards” against one prime minister, John Major, and who now seems determined to derail David Cameron, and in particular, the Chancellor George Osborne.

Some commentators have tackled the story with great insight but, although there are any number of theories about what’s really going on in the village of Westminster, it does seem that no-one has yet been able to truly answer the obvious question “Why has Duncan Smith really resigned?”

Some of his reasons have led to other speculation, which have lead to other theories, including:

1. He is a scapegoat who was not prepared to defend last week’s budget.

2. He claims the government only cares about those in society who will vote for them.

3. He is against welfare cuts which hit the disabled while the wealthy are getting tax cuts.

4. He thinks it’s unfair that well-off pensioners appear to be ring-fenced.

5. He believes the government should act for the benefit of all rather than the few.

6. He is railing against the drive to cut the deficit without caring about the social consequences.

7. He has done this because he wants Britain out of Europe.

8. He has not done this because he wants Britain out of Europe. His resignation is a coincidence.

9. He has acted to stop George Osborne becoming the next prime minister.

10. He wants Boris (who seems to have conveniently disappeared during this drama) to become the next prime minister.

In fact, this whole business appears very odd. Surely the Conservatives should be at the top of their game after winning last year’s general election outright.

Then there’s the the current Labour opposition which is more likely to guarantee that the Tories will remain in power for years to come.

Yet the party now looks to be heading for disaster while the authority of Cameron and Osborne, the authors of that election victory, suddenly appears to be very shaky indeed.

In fact, their political credibility is so precarious that they’ve had to retreat on last week’s budget and give in to IDS by not going ahead with the Personal Independence Payment cuts to disability allowances as planned, leaving a £4 billion hole in their figures.

Perhaps the most baffling aspect of Ian Duncan Smith’s decision to resign as works and pensions secretary is that he wrote defending the Osborne disability cuts on the same day that he quit.

Couldn’t he have used the U-turn and claimed a victory; continued to fight for his own reforms in cabinet; worked on other ways of meeting the budget demands and avoided this collateral damage altogether?

After all, he’s committed to welfare reform and this was a dramatic and very speedy U-turn, something which is pretty unusual in politics.

Instead he has thrown the Conservatives, already split over how to vote in the EU referendum, into further civil war chaos.

Whatever it’s all about, it’s most likely to be a combination of some of the 10 thoughts above or, indeed, all of them.

But there does seem to be a particular emphasis on doing in George Osborne and stopping his bid to become the next prime minister.

If that really is the case then IDS, in reprising his role as a “bastard”, may well be doing us all a great favour.

John Major, a man not known for his humour, never forgave Duncan Smith and his other “bastards” of the early 1990s although he did concede when speaking at a parliamentary lunch years later: “What I said was unforgivable” followed by a deliberate pause.

Then he added: “My only excuse was that it was true!”

Be the first to write a comment.

Letters to the Editor