Matthew Norman on Monday: What's Iain Duncan Smith doing running welfare?

Plus: Cameron remembers things differently, On election debates,  I agree with Ed, A fat lot of respect for poor Michael Gove

Share
Related Topics

It has been so long since a book unveiled internal political strife that we must thank Matthew d’Ancona for reminding us that within a party all is not invariably sweetness and light. Among the enchantments in d’Ancona’s In It Together is the revelation that the Chancellor does not share this diary’s high regard for Iain Duncan Smith’s mighty intellect. “You see Iain giving a presentation,” George Osborne, right, is reported to have observed during a turf war, “and realise he’s just not clever enough.” The failure to spell out for precisely what Iain is not clever enough will lead to speculation. Were he late for a morning meeting, for example, the suspicion might be that he is not clever enough not to have spent 43 minutes struggling to tie his shoelaces before realising that Betsy had laid out a pair of slip-ons. If the Chancellor thinks Iain too dim to resolve a fiendishly complex area of social policy, on the other hand, this raises an intriguing question. If and when the Universal Credit IT catastrophe anticipated by the National Audit Office comes to pass, will George explain why, as the second most powerful minister in the Government, he stood by and permitted a man he regards as a bit thick such power over the lives of the most vulnerable?

Cameron remembers things differently

Other revelations in the book provoke questions about David Cameron’s memory. Yesterday, asked by Andrew Marr about the impeccably sourced d’Ancona’s claim that he discounted winning a majority months before the election and began formulating a coalition deal, the PM said: “That’s not how I remember it.” As for the  confession that he would never have pushed gay marriage through had he foreseen the ensuing grief, he said: “No, I don’t agree with that.” Since a reported quote is hardly open to philosophical dispute, the likely explanation is that, as with the months spent planning the coalition deal, the memory escapes him.

On election debates,  I agree with Ed

As for the PM’s confirmation that he hopes to spread the live TV debates out over several months, Ed Miliband should send a junior in a giant chicken suit to follow Mr Cameron wherever he goes until he churlishly agrees to the three eve-of-election debates that gave the last campaign what minimal energy and fascination it had. We all know he had a total mare in the “I agree with Nick” first debate of 2010. But  as Rebekah Brooks might  have told him, with a gigglesome LOL, when he lost his seating on Raisa of the Met, sometimes you just have to get back on the horse.

A scoop from the  Sun – well, almost

Hats aloft to Sun political  editor Tom Newton Dunn,  who on Friday gave us the “exclusive” about Ed Miliband being coached in delivering his conference tour de force by the film director Paul Greengrass. Admittedly, this fact did once appear in  Mary Riddell’s Daily Telegraph column. But since it was as far back as last Thursday, it would be prissy to remind  Tom that the first rule of this trade is: read the papers.

A fat lot of respect for poor Michael Gove

Michael Gove’s insistence that under no circumstances would he dream of accepting the Tory leadership is derided by the Mail on Sunday. It reports that the Education Secretary “has spent a week at an Austrian ‘fat farm’ to help him show off his leadership credentials...” It seems Michael was restricted to 600 daily calories of haute cuisine (soup and stale bread) and treatments on offer included bloodletting and colonic irrigation. He has since dropped two stone. Why the MoS wanted to embarrass him so soon after his missus, Sarah Vine, ascended to the post of the Daily Mail’s resident Lynda Lee Potter is a mystery. Internal skirmishing may bedevil political parties, but one place you will never find it is among brother editors at Associated Newspapers.

The inspiring oratory of Eric Pickles

The year’s most inspiring political quote came from Eric Pickles. Asked to comment on the Miliband energy-price freeze by Sarah Montague on Radio 4’s Today, one minister who has  not visited an Austrian fat farm of late replied: “I came on to talk about parking.” Twice. There, you glimpsed the vignette of Eric practising his oratory as an idealistic lad in Keighley. All the great ones do it, as other boys play air guitar. But where we may imagine Martin Luther King miming  “I have a dream”, the 16-year-old  Eric stood before his mirror preparing for political  immortality with “I came on to talk about parking”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links