Thursday, 2 September 2010

Breakthrough and IDS

Iain Duncan Smith also spoke at the launch of the Breakthrough report.  His speech wasn't the best but it never was his forte.  However, it was in the Q&A that he came into his own addressing concerns, making the case for the changes to welfare he wishes to achieve and challenging the preconceptions entrenched in the present system that was behind the line of questioning.

IDS is a political figure I have always liked despite the general view but then again I am one of that small band that has time for Lyndon Baines Johnson.  I wasn't a member of the Tory party when he was leader so I'm in no position to comment how effective or otherwise he was in terms of the party.  However as a leader he was never given a chance by the media.  They had wanted to Ken Clarke to win and set about proving why the wrong decision had been taken come what may.  The poor quality of his speeches gave them some ammo as did his difficulty in getting a good point into a soundbite but what about substance?

The media myth that is Ken Clarke still remains strong.  However, look who has made the meaningful contribution in the last five years, it was IDS.  When he lost the leadership he could easily have walked quietly back to the backbenches but he chose not too.  He created the CSJ to carry on work that he had started as Tory leader and developed a strong and credible case on an important long-term social and economic issue, poverty and the welfare system.  In the sparse policy cupboard that is Cameroonism he provided the only real meat.

In government he is trying to implement that programme despite the fact it is quite possibly the most difficult time to do so and involved a vicious internal fight.  George Osborne would certainly have thanked him if he'd said that welfare reform was Labour's biggest failure but nothing could be done now but simply cut the benefits.

In the same period of time Ken Clarke has made his usual six monthly condescending pronouncement and a constitutional reform report that appeared dead on arrival.  Clarke suits his present ministry well because his main job will be pushing through a policy the Tory right and public opinion won't like and ignoring anyone but himself (and inconvenient facts) is his trademark.

PS I do realise the IDS pic looks a bit OTT but couldn't resist it.

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