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: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A royal serving the nation

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn