Posts Tagged ‘Ian Duncan Smith’

If Ed Miliband wants to make a come back, he needs to go away first

06/07/2015, 12:30:19 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Somehow Iain Duncan Smith retains a frontline political role. Tony Blair doesn’t. But, even after the Iraq war, Blair looked set to defeat Duncan Smith so comprehensively that serious, sober people wondered whether we’d see another Tory government. Then Michael Howard steadied their ship and was returned not to government but with honours at the 2005 general election.

As a widely respected figure, who’d just fulfilled his brief by performing better than Duncan Smith was expected to, Howard was well-placed to stay on as leader during the extended leadership election, which, ultimately, resulted in the youthful but arguably more electable David Cameron, not the older but arguably less electable David Davis, emerging victorious.

Uncut will leave it to readers to decide whether the Labour leadership now contains candidates comparable to Cameron and Davis then. But the idea – as proposed by James Forsyth in the Spectator – that Ed Miliband might now be performing a Howard function for Labour, staying on for long enough that the most electable successor wins out, is a false analogy.

The more accurate analogy to Forsyth’s argument is if Duncan Smith had stayed on as Tory leader, leading them to a calamitous defeat, and remained as Tory leader throughout an extended leadership contest. The logic of this is implausible at each step.

Tories junk leaders doomed to defeat, including one as revered as Margaret Thatcher, which is a lesson, having failed to strike two under-performing leaders, Gordon Brown and Miliband, Labour might learn at the third opportunity. Neither party, though, could stomach a long leadership election under a leader who has just led their party to humbling defeat.


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On welfare, Labour needs to be the party of work

07/01/2013, 07:59:11 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour debating the Conservatives on welfare is not a clash between two settled bodies of opinion. As public opinion evolves, so does internal debate within both parties. Casualties will come from “friendly fire” and the fog of war is thick.

There are those within Labour who think that George Osborne has snookered our party with the welfare uprating bill. In contrast, others think Osborne has overplayed his hand and we will be rewarded for principled opposition to the bill.

The latter are in sympathy with the rhetorical question of John Harris: If every Labour politician cannot oppose Osborne’s strivers and skivers plan in its toxic entirety, what exactly are they here for?

The former both dismiss this as naive and discount the capacity of the more nuanced opposition that Gavin Kelly has articulated and which Labour’s guarantee of a job for those out of work for 2 years is a variant of.

This guarantee seems a step away from the Harris position, which rejects absolutely the welfare uprating bill, and towards a position that argues the bill is unnecessary as there are better means of reforming our welfare system. Taking this step has the advantage of reducing the extent to which we seem to defend a discredited status quo. Equally, it will disappoint those attracted to a more visceral rebuttal of Osborne.

While there is diversity of opinion within Labour, it would be mistaken to think that the Conservatives are united. Indeed, they are at war, if a Peter Oborne piece from just before Christmas is to be believed. Soon after Christmas a cabinet minister was speaking in less than glowing terms about Iain Duncan-Smith’s universal credit. “The information technology for the new system is nowhere near ready. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”


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We need to address our poverty of language

19/06/2012, 07:00:03 AM

by Peter Goddard

So Ian Duncan Smith busy is developing proposals for new measures for child poverty, to include various social and lifestyle measures.

That sounds sensible enough, but there are some on the left who were quick to disagree. Polly Toynbee was one of them. On the eve of Duncan Smith’s announcement she was doggedly insisting that “the only way to measure a nation’s poverty over time,” she states, “is to count how many fall below the norm, and how far. This international measure counts anyone on less than 60% of a country’s median income.”

As Neil O’Brien points out, though, this “effectively conflates poverty and inequality.”

Needless to say, equality and measures thereof are of vital importance, and much valuable research indicates that equality is a vital national good. But equality is not poverty.

The dictionary (OK, defines ‘poverty’ as “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.”

According to O’Brien’s research, most people share this understanding, “(70pc) think it still means not having enough to eat, or a place to live.”

In fact, almost nobody outside the political classes, when asked to define poverty, will ever use the words ‘median income’.

By confusing relative poverty with absolute poverty, Toynbee and her ilk enable some stirring invective. But it also creates some curious paradoxes.

It is, for example, perfectly feasible for everyone in an economy to improve their income and become visibly better off but, through an increase in inequality, this to result in more people falling poverty.

So by using this measure you can become materially better off whilst simultaneously plunging into poverty.  Most would agree this seems counter-intuitive at best, manipulative spin at worst.


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