Diary: Labour MP helps chagrin the Chancellor over welfare


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The Independent Online

David Cameron could not have expected to get through Prime Minister's Questions yesterday without mentioning the Disability Living Allowance after competitors in the Paralymics had warned about the consequences of scrapping it. Even so, he sounded a bit grumpy in his reply to the Labour MP Anne McGuire, although she was blaming the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith: "Why don't you take aside your immovable Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and say to him that it is time we thought again on this one?"

She was being disingenuous because it is well known around Westminster that it is the Treasury and the Chancellor George Osborne trying to bear down on the cost of welfare for the disabled. The "immovable" Mr Duncan Smith wants to be remembered for reforming welfare rather than restricting it. Mr Duncan Smith took Ms McGuire aside afterwards and said: "Thanks very much for your question. It helps put the pressure on them." That helps explain why the Chancellor wanted Mr Duncan Smith moved in this week's reshuffle and why he refused to budge.

Reshuffle rocks the cry babies

The strange taunt that the Prime Minister aimed at Ed Miliband for his alleged failure to be "butch and assertive" is made odder by a rumour, picked up by The Spectator's political editor, James Forsyth, that three of the ministers who lost their jobs in the reshuffle reacted by breaking down and crying. Names suggested were Cheryl Gillan and Caroline Spelman, although their colleague Baroness Warsi is known to have put up an impressive fight to win herself an improved job title outside the Cabinet. Some ministers do take it badly when they discover they have lost their chauffeur-driven cars. Winston Churchill's son-in-law Christopher Soames was so furious when Margaret Thatcher sacked him that his reaction could be heard outside 10 Downing Street. One minister sacked by Tony Blair shouted: "Prime Minister, you have ruined my life!" But three cry babies in one reshuffle has to be some sort of record.

Traffic woes for Transport Secretary

It is said that one of the drawbacks of being Secretary of State for Transport is that you have to apologise when someone else is late for a meeting because they are so often stuck in traffic. Who, I wonder, did the apologising when the new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin turned up for his first Cabinet meeting yesterday – 17 minutes late.

Insult costs George Galloway

Readers of the Daily Record, sister paper of the Daily Mirror, in Scotland are accustomed to seeing an outspoken column penned by George Galloway every Monday. He even submitted a column from Indonesia, which included some scathing remarks about Madonna having a 25-year-old boyfriend. Mr Galloway, 57, was in Jakarta on a honeymoon with his latest wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, who is 27.

But this Monday, there was no column. The Daily Record stood by its columnist through the furore he cased by his comments on rape but I hear that when Mr Galloway tweeted that an argumentative Rangers fan was a "window-licker", the editor, Bruce Waddell, decided that it was an insult too far.