Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Iain Duncan Smith puts ministerial career on the line after rolling out a barrel-full of jargon and clichés

 

Share
Related Topics

It’s a sure sign that a minister is under pressure when the jargon level rises. As Iain Duncan Smith defended himself today the jargonometer surged into the red zone.

Government programmes no longer start – they are “rolled out”, something that used to happen mainly to barrels.

But today the Work and Pensions Secretary took the term to new peaks.

“I intend to roll out a clear statement in the autumn about how and when we will roll this out,” he declared at one point. 

Since instead of fuddy duddy old “pilots” we now have “pathfinders”, he insisted that universal credit was not just “succeeding but progressing”. He said: “It is progressing because we have already started to roll out the pathfinders.”

In case we should doubt this optimism in the face of the National Audit Office’s excoriation of what it described as “weak management, poor governance”, he told MPs that he was not being “over-bullish”. Certainly no-one could accuse him of being under-bullish.

Forget about the “historic” problems highlighted in the report. Jobseekers’ allowance and tax credit, which the new system will replace, would be closed down “well before the election”.

About a dozen times, at a rough count, Duncan Smith promised to deliver the programme “on time and on budget” – or occasionally, for the sake of variation, “on budget and on time”.

This gelled with the defence against his shadow Liam Byrne’s charge that having said in  March that the programme was “proceeding exactly in accordance with plans” he had “let this House form a picture of universal credit  which the nation’s auditors say is wrong”.

The subtext of that defence seemed to be that yes, the IT  system was a total shambles  but because he had then “re-set”  it, there was no need to bother  MPs with the turbulent, but essentially irrelevant, backstage goings on.

Now that they were in the open, his explanations for who was to blame for those  goings-on were somewhat varied.

“I am not blaming civil servants,” he insisted, before adding in the same breath that he “made decisions that led to the removal  of some of those who were  charged with the responsibility of delivering this”.

So that was clear. He was not blaming those civil servants who he didn’t sack.

But none of this really mattered because it was all now on target. Quite a gamble.

Or put another way, the Duncan Smith career could now depend on a roll-out of the dice.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
 

The two most important parts of Obama’s legacy could be on the brink of collapse, and this time there's no back-up plan

David Usborne
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