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Good riddance IDS: long may this internal warfare continue

IDSWhen you’re the head of a department that has meted out cruel and inhumane treatment to disabled people, when you’ve sat in the Commons and nodded through cut after sanction regime after tightened eligibility criteria, at what point do you say enough and call time over your complicity in these proceedings? Does one draw a veil over the old ministerial career by claiming principle and love for the charges you’ve spent six years abusing, or stick the boot in to cause maximum political damage?

Iain Duncan Smith, the so-called quiet man who’s done catastrophic harm to the position of disabled people in this country, has elected to do both. Uncharacteristically, an attempt to fund tax cuts for the well off by taking monies from payments to disabled people has gone down like a cup of cold sick. Which is interesting, considering their previous attacks have gone by with nary a murmur from outside the ranks of disability campaigners, the left, and the labour movement.

Okay, so let’s look at IDS’s “good reason” for resigning – the statement he’s put out himself.

I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest.

Blimey, IDS is lining up with John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn! Almost.

He goes on …

Too often my team and I have been pressured in the immediate run up to a budget or fiscal event to deliver yet more reductions to the working-age benefit bill. There has been too much emphasis on money-saving exercises and not enough awareness from the Treasury, in particular, that the government’s vision of a new welfare-to-work system could not be repeatedly salami-sliced.

To understand where IDS is coming from, one has to step inside his head. It’s scary, so come walk with me. Having previously corresponded with his ministerial office on dozens of occasions, I got the sense that IDS was acting out of ideological zeal. All of his letters would come back extolling the virtues of work, and ironic considering that IDS’s prescription for others is something he’s never really availed himself of. No matter. Work was the route out of poverty. Work was the route to self-respect. Work was the route to good health and mental well being – views typical of someone for whom low-paid drudgery is but a rumour. And IDS knew this better than the medical establishment and disabled people themselves. If only they could be liberated from their can’t-do mindset, hundreds of thousands drawing down disability support could become fully productive citizens. It is a sick joke when you think about the fates of some unfortunate ESA recipients, but IDS absolutely, genuinely believed he was designing a social security system that would “save lives”.

IDS has sat uneasily (to a degree) in Dave’s cabinet. He is an ideologue who takes his twisted principles seriously. Dave and Osborne are a touch more mercurial. They are wedded to broken Tory economics, but are quite willing to ditch principle for expediency. In Wednesday’s budget, Osborne was interested in shoring up a Middle England constituency ahead of the EU referendum as well as making a play for succeeding Dave. As he was prepared to give nice middle class people like me another tax cut and have disabled people pay for it, this clearly was too much for IDS. Just so Osborne was prepared – again – to throw IDS’s life work under a bus, so the Quiet Man has finally returned the favour.

What about the real reason? A little bit has to do with Europe, innit? Exit is another of IDS’s cracked priorities, and again must be frustrated that a number of ambitious Tories – not least the Mekon-like Sajid Javid and other heir-presumptive Theresa May – have dumped principles for position. By strengthening Osborne’s association with attacks on disabled people, he’s calculated that the chancellor will not pass the work capability assessment for Tory leader and the way be open to someone who’s either a bit more ideological, or will allow him space for his continued misadventures in social security. If only there was an unprincipled, opportunist celebrity chancer in the running for the leadership who fits the bill.

To be sure, IDS’s resignation is the biggest blow yet to Dave’s leadership and the his hopes of keeping the Number 10 sofa warm for Osborne. Long may this internal warfare continue.


  1. jeffrey davies says:

    rid of one demon another imp turns up crabb you better believe just another louse you really dont want but i wonder will rtu ids keep his gun totting pack to protect him hmm i wonder will they go for that quiet cuppa hmm

  2. David Ellis says:

    The growing civil war in the Tory Party reflecting a thoroughgoing split in British capitalism itself is being played out free of charge because of Labour’s decision to vote for Cameron’s EU `reforms’ after 40 years of Labour Left opposition to the EU and its predecessors. Whatever happens now Corbyn gets the blame. If Brexit wins Corbyn will be blamed for not campaigning hard enough for Remain and if Bremain wins his party will be blamed for propping up Cameron and Labour will be as wiped out in England and Wales as it was in Scotland after it stood with Cameron in the independence referendum. Unlike in Scotland however the beneficiaries won’t be some vaguely left liberalish SNP but the far right and UKIP who will succeed to the role of opposition to the mainstream as it elbows Labour aside and into the dustbin of history. However the split in British capitalism will still be there and will be getting worse. The neo-liberal consensus will never be re-established and so it may still be possible to rebuild a principled political leadership of the labour movement despite the very tricky circumstances bequeathed by the Labour Party opportunists both left and right.

  3. James Martin says:

    It’s been an unexpectedly enjoyable weekend following the beginning of the week and the announcement that all English state schools would be forced to privatise, sorry, ‘academise’. To think that IDS, the man of the bedroom tax and benefit sanctions that have been directly responsible for countless misery and a number of suicides, has suddenly found a conscience is laughable, although I suspect the laughter won’t stop there. His replacement, Stephen ‘Crutch Kicker’ Crabb has already been exposed as a homophobe with strong links to a far-right Christian group called CARE who believe that gay people can be ‘cured’ (he used to work for them in fact), and who may have even have ‘cured’ himself (*cough*) which enabled him to vote against same sex marriage. It surely can’t be long before an idiot like that will himself be having to spend some more time with his own definitely not same sex family.

  4. David Ellis says:

    The Tories are providing their own opposition such is the irrelevance of the Labour Party. After the referendum the far right will take up the role of opposition to the pro-EU, neo-liberal establishment and Labour will simply disappear up its own fundament.

    But it’s not too late. Corbyn can still reverse his disastrous decision to ditch 40 years of Left Labour opposition to the EU and vote against Cameron for Leave. This would put Labour back at the heart of the political discussion and gain it a serious hearing for its vision of a post-Brexit socialist Britain and Europe.

  5. Bazza says:

    In an article in New Left Review an old Benedict Anderson article uses a wonderful quote from Sherlock Holmes: “If you are looking for a solution to a problem don’t look at what you can see. Look at what you can’t see.”
    When Osbornne became Chancellor the first thing he did was to give tax cuts to millionaires and corporation tax cuts to big business: the message was clear to the rich – don’t worry about this austerity stuff, it won’t affect you.
    And there’s the thing, most of the Left don’t seem to see there are 2 welfare states – ours the working class one which is minimal and is associated with shame and stigma and is under attack and the upper class welfare state which is luxurious as the wealthy are subsidised on everything with the likes of tax relief.
    Just witness the last budget to see the upper class welfare state in practice – corporation tax cut from 20-17%, Capital gains tax cut from 28% to 20% but the disabled to lose £3,500!
    Middle class Hayek who like IDS is perhaps ignorant about poverty felt that welfare is tyranny well then perhaps we should remove charitable status from public schools and tax subsidies and free these wealthy parents from their tyranny and enable them to stand on their own two feet to pay the true cost of private education or is it market forces for us but not for them? It is the labour of the working billions who create the wealth & make societies work and the rich & powerful are totally dependent on us all turning up for work tomorrow – their’s is the real dependency culture & they legally nick our surplus labour – how truly unethical. The rich globally also stash 22 trillion dollars in illicit offshore bank accounts (New Internationalist) and perish the thought they pay their share for health, to address poverty, and to care for older people etc.
    So brothers and sisters also think about what you don’t see.
    Time to expose the Tories for what they are really about – helping the rich and conning the masses – CONservatives are well named.

  6. Bazza says:

    The Tories (and Lib Dems) also changed the local government settlement rules to ones based on population size instead of under Labour poulation size and NEED.
    So the message to Tory Councils was: don’t worry about this austerity stuff it won’t affect you.
    So we have had hundreds of millions of cuts for Northern,Welsh, Scottish, Midland Councils etc. and few if any for Tory Councils and the Tories have recently announced £300m extra aid for Tory Southern Councils a point we should get over in local & regional elections!

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