Duncan Smith: Government is suffering a 'nervous breakdown'

Public services
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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith will claim that the Government is suffering a "nervous breakdown" as it struggles with the problems in public services.

In a speech setting out his philosophy, the Tory leader will argue that Tony Blair's strategy is unravelling because it is based on expediency. In contrast, he will promise policies based on Tory principles that have stood the test of time. "The problems may have changed, but the values that underpin our solutions are as relevant as ever," he will say. Mr Duncan Smith believes that, for the first time, the Tories have "rumbled" Mr Blair as he faces problems with the railways and the National Health Service.

In the speech, to be delivered in Birmingham, he will say: "It is no surprise that when Labour's policies are tested by crisis they fall apart amid chaos and recriminations. When its rhetoric rails against its own instincts, it is inevitable it should suffer the political equivalent of a nervous breakdown. It has no basis of principle for its policies, so it has nowhere to go, nowhere to turn. So it barricades itself against reality with five-, 10- and even 20-year plans, each one more ludicrous than the last."

The Tory leader will say his party's first duty is to expose the problems people face, despite the Government's attempt to disguise its failure by a culture of deceit. "But the way we oppose must also convey our own principles, and exemplify, rather than detract from, our own approach."

In the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Duncan Smith accused Labour of being "a case of power without purpose, politics without principle and a Government without any direction". He used Prime Minister's Questions to attack the Government over a series of U-turns. Mr Duncan Smith quoted The Independent, which reported last month that Alan Milburn, the Secretary of State for Health, had insisted that the NHS "should no longer be a monopoly provider of care".

Only five months earlier, Mr Milburn had told MPs that the health service should remain "one monopoly provider" of health care.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "On health as on everything else, they haven't got a clue." He added: "Before, school bullies were to be kept in schools; now he [Mr Blair] wants them kicked out. He dispersed asylum-seekers and now he wants them all kept in the same place. He said he wants to renationalise railways; now he is crying, begging for private money."

But Mr Blair accused the Conservatives of trying to "run down" the NHS to justify its privatisation. He said: "We do know what the difference is between the political parties; we support the investment and the reform because those are important. He does not support the extra investment going into the NHS."

The Prime Minister said: "We know what he wants to do, which is to run it down, to say that everyone gets hopeless service in the National Health Service, so he and his supporters can turn round and justify privatising the national health service."