In the wake of a post-budget rebellion, EU splits, and the resignation of the Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, are the Tories about to self-destruct?
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith resigned from office on Friday with a letter to the Prime Minister, its contents hint that he seemed to have grown a conscience overnight as he criticised the agenda of cuts and austerity, policies he had only seemingly days before wholeheartedly supported, and according to colleague Nadine Dorries “begged” other Tory MP’s to vote for.
In his letter he said the cuts laid out in the budget were “deeply unfair”, he continued to add “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”.
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Attacking the cuts of austerity as political rather than necessary is something a number of campaign groups and political parties alike have been doing since the early days of the coalition government – and that same blow has now come from one of the top dogs who has served in that government, and carried out said cuts.
Why the sudden change of heart you ask? Could the man have discovered a conscience after many years of brutal cuts? Many have been quick to cry out that this is merely a political stunt, and it is easy to see why that would be the consensus – and not just because it writes good headlines.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was to make a difference,” claimed Duncan Smith on The Andrew Marr Show – and he certainly has, as countless lives have been made more difficult due to his decisions, so forgive me if I show little apathy and an inherent distrust towards the man’s new found sense of caring.
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Iain Duncan Smith is not a hero of social justice, and he will not be allowed to get away scratch free – as the wheels of the Tory machine are coming off, and their tricks become much more apparent to the public.
This is an attack, mainly on George Osborne for whatever reason, political or personal… or both: but one that may do much damage to the Conservative government, especially in already turbulent times, with the party divided over Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Duncan Smith is in favour of leaving the EU, and this attack has been heralded as an attempt to bolster the leave campaign and damage the remain campaign. There had been mutterings that he had been looking for a reason to resign since last summer, and that the budget provided that opportunity.
According to some a coup may be on the cards to remove David Cameron and George Osborne from the head of the party, and this move could be strategical – it is widely believed that Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech brought down Margaret Thatcher, and this could be a similar attack to remove Osborne, possibly even Cameron. Osborne clearly has leadership aspirations, and the less fellow Tories believe he is likely to succeed Cameron, the more openly they will challenge him.
Alternatively, the government were being pushed by a number of Tory backbenchers to backtrack on cuts to PIP (personal independence payments), and Duncan smith decided to abandon a sinking ship, as he was most likely to be the fall guy in any rebellion.
Osborne’s budget has not been received nearly as well as he would have hoped, despite a great deal of the media running the “sugar tax” as the main headline, and leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn gave a scathing speech that attacked the heart of the Tory agenda. Corbyn is doing a great job of presenting an alternative argument, and dragging the argument away from the right of politics as many of his supporters hoped he would – could he yet drive splits into, and be the downfall of the Conservative Party?
Whatever the reason for Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation, the party seem on the brink of civil war, with the possibility of self-destruction, and for the good of the country Labour must hammer home this advantage and expose the plot holes in the Tory agenda. The Tories, perhaps too complacent and still revelling in their victory, are going too far with their austerity agenda and hurting too many: if they start to lose the middle-class vote then their grip on power will slip, and Labour must be ready to pounce.