So where will Duncan Smith find those £12bn of welfare savings?

Iain lives in a fantasy land of beanstalks leading to gold-filled chests and unicorns dancing the tango with centaurs

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The Independent Online

Days after the PM’s blurt about not seeking a third term enticed Michael Gove to herald a “brave new world” where Tory politicians give straight answers to straight questions, what joy to find Iain Duncan Smith lighting up the start of British Summer Time with dazzling frankness. IDS joined Andrew Marr’s BBC1 sofa to discuss, sort of, the extra £12bn he plans to cut from the welfare budget if the Tories cling to power.

A Whitehall leak identified the disabled and child benefit as possible targets, and Marr asked if he’s discussed these things with the Chancellor. “None of the stuff you’ve seen reported have I discussed with him… particularly,” said Iain. Noting his cunning deployment of that “particuarly” as a weapon of future deniability, you seethed yet again about George Osborne allegedly describing IDS as too dim-witted to reform benefits. In fact, as he mentioned, his reforms have gone so spiffingly that warnings about “people being driven into homelessness, being moved hundreds of miles… none of that happened.”

In a sense, this is true. In Iain’s fantasy land of beanstalks leading to gold-filled chests and unicorns dancing the tango with centaurs, none of it happened. In this earthly realm, admittedly, homelessness has not declined as he honestly claimed, but risen relentlessly since 2010, while the housing benefit cap  has forced London councils to relocate families. The detail can be found on what we earthlings call “the internet” should Iain ever have time to visit.

But where precisely, Marr kept pressing him, will he find that £12bn? “When we’re ready, we will talk about what we plan to do,” said Iain. And will that be before the  election, in case it might influence voting intentions? “Well, we may and we may not decide that it’s relevant to put something out there about those changes.”

You can’t say fairer than that, because where the loss of income may be relevant to the disabled person concerned, it may not be relevant to Iain. “I’ve been honest with the British people from day one,” he declared with the ringing truth of one who repeatedly insisted that Universal Credit (UC) was on time and on budget in defiance of the evidence, and now honestly claims to have not the foggiest where to find that £12bn.

His supporters tell us that Iain is a hero of this government, and so he is. Whatever the snotty Osborne thinks of his intellect, the Tories should put that gleaming pate on the manifesto cover with the caption: “The brain who put the UC in FUC***G GENIUS!”


Channel 4 uncovers the bald truth behind Coalition deals

So impressive was the ringing authenticity of Coalition, the Channel 4 drama about the coupling of Cameron and Clegg, that it feels churlish to pick a highlight. But if we must, it was David Laws and the Lib Dem team preparing to negotiate with the Tories. “Hague,” one recited as he studied a photo of a profoundly obscure figure. “Yorkshire. Bald.” Quality work.


Putting it all on Ed

With all election punditry, Deep Throat had it right about following the money, so it’s instructive that Betfair punters backed Ed Miliband heavily to be next PM (in to 11/10 from 6-4) in response to the YouGov poll showing Labour four points ahead. So many commentators have taken pleasure in writing Little Ed off as a waste of space, and none more vindictively than that small but vocal cabal of Blairite ultras who believe a Tory victory would somehow vindicate their beloved and themselves. What was always a fatuous caricature will begin to look deranged if he puts in another stormer in Thursday’s seven-way debate, and finds himself an odds-on favourite by this time next week.


Clarkson exit opens up an opportunity for Miliband

The gravest threat to any Labour momentum is of course is Ed Balls. How the schlemiel will sabotage the campaign is anyone’s guess – a proposal to tax dandruff, or take £3bn from the NHS budget to spend on bouncy castles? It could be anything – but at some point he’ll do something crazy. So the advice to Miliband is to find a displacement activity.

One possibility opened up yesterday when Chris Evans ruled himself out of presenting Top Gear in the paper for which he writes a motoring column. Given his Mail on Sunday piece included a reference to driving “a Smart car; I wasn’t too keen but my wife loved it so there’ll be a decent four-star rating come publication”, this is a sadness. A new Top Gear host talking up weeny, environmentally sound cars because the missus took a shine would be a useful corrective to the old one.

But since Evans doesn’t want the job, Miliband must persuade Balls to go for it himself. A six-week preparatory course entitled How To Park In A Space The Size of Wyoming Without Pranging Another Car And Driving Off Without Leaving A Note would keep him out of harm’s way until after the election. Failing that, Miliband should have him kidnapped and held in a safe house. No worries about anyone developing Stockholm Syndrome there.


Yentob revives the class war

A reaction to the Clarkson sacking drives the Daily Mail into an unfamiliar frenzy.

The object of its ire is Alan Yentob, who insisted that even a Clarkson-free BBC caters for the working class demographics known as C2DEs. “What an exquisitely condescending description of half the

British population,” raged a leader. “And how telling about the arrogance of the metropolitan elite who run the BBC.” Indeed. Anyone needing further illumination about this marketing terminology is directed to a Mail report from April 2014, which pointed out that “some 55 per cent of

Ukip backers are from C2DE social class groups, compared to 45 per cent ABC1s, dominated by the upper and middle classes.” Or to a 2012 Daily Mail pitch to advertisers, on, with pie charts usefully splitting its readership into ABC1s and C2DEs.