.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The quiet man goes out with a bang

I am sure I was not alone in having my Friday night TV viewing disrupted by an explosion of astonishment on Twitter at the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith.

According to the Telegraph, the former Works and Pension Minister quit in protest at George Osborne's plan to cut the benefits paid to the disabled by more than £1 billion, which he said were a "compromise too far" arguing that welfare for pensioners should be cut instead.

Mr. Duncan Smith's resignation letter argued that these cuts are "not defensible" when announced alongside a budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers. He also accused the Chancellor of forcing through cuts to welfare for "political" rather than national economic reasons.

This is quite a bombshell for the Prime Minister and further undermines the position of George Osborne. All we need now is a statement in the House of Commons by IDS along the lines of Geoffrey Howe's clincal dismantling of Margaret Thatcher and anything can happen.

David Cameron's response thought is equally interesting:  In his reply to Mr Duncan Smith's resignation letter, the Prime Minister said: "We collectively agreed – you, No 10 and the Treasury – proposals which you and your Department then announced a week ago. Today we agreed not to proceed with the policies in their current form and instead to work together to get these policies right over the coming months.

"In the light of this, I am puzzled and disappointed that you have chosen to resign." 

And there is the nub of my problem with this resignation. The cuts which Duncan Smith argues are a step too far were actually announced by him a week ago, before the budget statement was made. He has been party to the gradual diminuition of disabled benefits for the best part of six years and, in any case, it looked like the Government were about to make a u-turn on these cuts anyway.

In my view the real reason for this announcement lies elsewhere. Iain Duncan Smith is a big advocate of the case to leave the European Union. Did he jump before he was pushed? Is this manoeuvre part of a wider plan to depose Cameron and replace him with a Euro-sceptic? We can only wait and see.
Alternatively, IDS was offended by the spin put out by Osborne and Cameron that all the pressure for the cuts came from the DWP.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?