Monday, 8 April 2013

The quiet man of politics roars again

At a convivial 50th birthday drinks party two years ago I managed to corner a backbench Tory MP who won the nomination for a very safe seat just before the 2010 election.  A year after the election he was bemoaning the all-consuming power of George Osborne and the dangers that this might create, foreseeing the Icarus career trajectory of our chancellor.  Two years on Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph highlights the problem, in a great article that shows how toxic the Osborne brand has become.

The quiet man of politics

The evidence against George Osborne is starting to look water tight!  He has pursued Gordon Brown style fiscal policies tinkering with the tax and spend regime without making any tangible difference to the economy.  Corporation tax down a bit, allowances up a bit, National Insurance up a bit, VAT (sales tax) down and all kinds of changes to the duties we pay on booze, fags and fuel.  Having wasted a once in a life time opportunity to restructure our tax regime to improve the incentives for work rather than benefits he is now trying to steal the limelight from Ian Duncan-Smith who has been steering through the important revolution in our overblown welfare and benefits culture.

In contrast to the paucity of our economic policy the coalition has been both courageous and farsighted in its policies for the reform of: Prisons, Education, Health and the Welfare state where Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has been a revelation in the dogged determination he has shown to see fundamental changes through.  Peter Oborne tells us that IDS has a “moral vision that contrasts very sharply not only with the automatic state worship of the Balls/Miliband Labour Party, but also the stark individualism favoured by Mr Osborne and other free-market Tories”.   Interestingly, IDS’s main opposition to his welfare reforms and the Universal Credit has come from Number 11 Downing Street, where Osborne has briefed against the changes since 2010 and more recently tried to get Mr Duncan-Smith sacked in 2012.  The important work being delivered by Michael Gove (Education), Jeremy Hunt (Health) and IDS to row back on the state’s meddling in all aspects of our lives have been the highlight of this parliament and in stark contrast to the unadventurous and disappointing ministrations at the Treasury.
Ian Duncan-Smith also disproves the rule that once you have led your Party you should slip away into retirement leaving your heirs a free reign.  Both IDS and William Hague (what a great Foreign Secretary he is proving to be) have been stars in this Government’s otherwise unglittering performance.  Is it just a coincidence that the two most effective Ministers in the current Government are both ex-Party leaders or is experience gained leading the most dis-functional of political party’s an unbeatable training for leading change within a major Whitehall department?
So hats off to IDS, the man once dubbed the ‘quiet man of English politics’ and lets enjoy the roar of man on top of his game!

By David Denton

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