If IDS has got something against Canadians taking our plum banking jobs, he should come out and say it

We've all had enough of this petty-political point scoring


If that ancient injunction “Beware the IDS of March when he’s talking  self-aggrandising gibberish” needed any confirmation, it comes from an interview with The House magazine.

 “I don’t really mind,” says a defiant Iain Duncan Smith of the Chancellor’s famous depiction of him as too thick for the work and pensions portfolio. “It doesn’t bother me at all.”

Palpably it does, and Iain’s best efforts to deflect George Osborne’s concerns serve only to deepen them. Modestly mentioning that someone once questioned Churchill’s intellect, Iain claims he is “content to see what history’s judgement of me will be. Politics is a silly game.”

It is, and here we find him embracing the silliness by launching a childish counterstrike against Osborne. British employers should “try one of our workers” before hiring an immigrant, posits IDS, and though he feebly seeks to disguise his intent by citing Eastern European plumbers and carpenters, you hardly need bother Bletchley Park to decode the real target.

No one as clever as Churchill, having duly noted the response to James Brokenshire’s thoughts on the “wealthy metropolitan elite” hiring foreign plumbers, would confuse doubling down on that imbecility with a smart move. So IDS can have been thinking only of Osborne’s appointment of the Canadian Mark Carney to run the Bank of England when various highly qualified Brits were gagging for the job.

This brand of petty score-settling is precisely the sort of silly politics up with which, to borrow the mock syntactical pedantry of his cerebral role model, we will not put. If IDS thinks that Bank of England Guv’nor is a British job for a British worker, he should say so loud and proud. If he cannot stop throwing stones at Osborne while skulking like a sissy behind Polish toolboxes, he should leave the Commons forthwith to spend more time with his Spiro Agnew Compendium of Colouring-In Books.

Bellicose Mal has long  since had his day

If Iain does quit the Commons before the general election, his Chingford seat – 15 miles from Parliament Square, and even less from the London mayor’s Islington home – would do nicely for Boris Johnson. Of course, there are many constituencies dying to host the albino Saviour’s return, my own preference being for Kensington. Apart from it being the safest Tory seat in the land and a brief stroll from Westminster, the incumbent MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has delighted us long enough (though not himself; how this sonorous blowhard could manage that is beyond me).

After dismissing Mrs Thatcher’s passionate call for intervention to prevent further massacres in the former Yugoslavia as over-emotional, and later wisely criticising the war in Iraq, Big Mal had a bellicose epiphany. Gung-ho for a bombing campaign in Syria, the former foreign secretary now rails at the West’s “pathetic” reaction to events in Crimea, demanding it bring the Russian economy to its knees before Putin recreates the USSR and sends his nukes to Cuba. The appetite for Malcolm’s exhausted brand of big-stick-waving bluster was sated long ago, and an unbroken period of silence would be bliss.

Mutton driving a Lamborghini

Has the Pensions minister, Steve Webb, who yearns for the day when annuity-liberated pensioners splurge on Lamborghinis, thought this through? It’s one thing being stuck behind an ancient doing 13mph on a single-lane A-road in a 1972 Austin Princess. Imagine being reduced to a crawl behind a new model Lamborghini Pipesmoker with a top speed of 190mph.

Double vision? Think carefully before you act

To our loyal army of readers in Afghanistan, who seem poised to elect Abdullah Abdullah as their new president, the advice is this. Don’t. Humbert Humbert, Nabokov’s paedophile in Lolita; Sirhan Sirhan, who shot Bobby Kennedy; Neville Neville, who sired Phil; Durand Durand, the evil maniac who imprisoned Barbarella; Baden Baden, host city for England’s horrendous World Cup campaign under Sven, Wagmania and all, in 2006… Afghans, I have been very clear before what history teaches about the double namer. Take note.

Very, very irritating  – that rings a bell

James Naughtie finds it “very, very irritating” that Today show political chats are so hurried. If only there were a simple solution, such as interviewers lavishing less than 83 per cent of the time on circuitous, rambling questions. Just a thought.

Twitter:  @MatthewJNorman

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