Well well. It has been an interesting week so far and it’s only Saturday.
We’ve had the government ram through the ESA cuts by using parliamentary procedure to prevent the Lords blocking it a third time, we’ve had changes to working tax credits sneaked through late in a sitting, without debate, then we had Osborne’s budget and what a mess that was hidden behind the dead cat of the tax on sugar drinks.
Then last night we had the latest front page news, IDS quit.
Millions across the nation cheered.
I’m not going to cover every complexity of the political in fighting over the budget and the EU referendum, you would be falling asleep before you go halfway through the massive post but the situation is complex and confused. The Tory party is basically in three parts, the openly Pro EU, the openly anti EU and those who are either hiding their views or don’t have a strong opinion.
Osborne is one of the strongly pro EU, IDS is one of the strongly anti EU.
How does that relate to IDS resigning over the budget and cuts to benefit payment?
Well at the risk of being called hateful and an idiot by someone else on Facebook who disagrees with me (Yes, shocking but there are people on line who disagree with me, some of them argue and articulate, some of them just use insults. It’s the internet), it has everything to do with the resignation where as the benefit cuts have very little to do with it.
This has a strong smell about it, sinking ships and rats heading for the lifeboat.
IDS has overseen six years of crushing cuts and attacks on those who should have been protected by his department. Not so much as a hesitation before now. He has defended the actions of his department, or hidden them and used the courts to protect them.
When challenged in a way he couldn’t ignore such as in the house he just sent a poorly briefed lackey who refused to give straight answers in his stead. A few people have charitable said the IDS meant well and intended to enact fair reforms, he just didn’t understand the way to do it. Most people I know are of the opinion that he is a hatchet man fronting Osborne’s massive wealth transfer (also called Austerity) by slashing support for the most vulnerable.
IDS has hardly given anyone the idea that he gives a damn about the mixture of cruelty and incompetence that is the hallmark of the DWP under his six year rule.
So what is different I ask myself, why now and not before?
Is it that he has suddenly had some sort of Christmas carol discovery and become a nicer person? Did someone buy his soul from the devil and release it? Did he check behind the sofa and find his conscience?
None of the above I would say. This is politics, purely and simply looking out for himself first and always. Cameron is going, within months or by the end of the year, no point hanging onto those coat tails. As for Osborne, no one who is on Team Osborne is going to survive this. That last budget was too blatant, too obvious. The back benches are doing more than just the usual muttering, the name and shame campaign highlighting those who voted to cut ESA while at the same time grabbing every penny they could in expenses seems to have the rank and file worried.
Charities sacking MPs who had places on boards or who acted as representatives, well for a politician who is mostly or completely dependent on marketing and PR to get re-elected, having a host of charities turn against you isn’t a good thing.
And it’s all come to the surface with Osborne’s budget.
I have long been of the view that IDS was there to be seen as the thug fronting the government and there to take the blame for the suffering and the deaths that can be directly laid at the feet of the DWP and the government policies that the Department of Workless Persecution enacts.
A year ago I was thinking he was the sacrificial goat, to be thrown under the bus mid parliament when Cameron is replaced by the new leader, a widely hated figure who can take the blame and allow the new leader to build a new cabinet that doesn’t have the baggage of the last seven or eight years (at that point) of Tory rule.
This would have worked as long as IDS was more hated that the other senior figures who would then gain credit for sacking him, the same case as we see with Hunt and Gove, publicly they are seen as responsible for the actions of their departments and as such they are widely hated, taking the blame for what is a Tory policy rather than a specific departmental policy.
Anyway something happened this week and that something was Osborne suddenly became vulnerable. The media and the nation at large took a look at his budget and started asking questions and even the HUGE smoke screen of the tax of fizzy drinks couldn’t hide the rest for long.
Oh in case anyone missed it, that’s exactly why the fizzy drink tax was included at the last minute, it won’t do no more than a token amount to help with childhood obesity but it’s such a big thing that it was easy for the government friendly media to blow it up and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Front pages and TV debates have all been about FIZZY DRINK TAX.
But that wasn’t enough and the underlying anger broke past the smoke screen and suddenly Osborne was the guilty party, it was his budget, his policies, everywhere you looked MPs were pointing the finger at Osborne.
So this is why I think Mr S Goat acted now, because he can shift much of the blame for his actions onto someone who has suddenly become an even bigger villain, his letter made that fairly clear.
So suddenly it's all Osborne's fault, Gideon made me do it, I never liked hurting people, I was just following orders. The backbenchers seem to have suddenly noticed that lynch mobs or unemployment are in the future and IDS is just being more public about distancing himself from the soon to be ex chancellor.
Instead IDS has shunted the blame onto Osborne and run for it, leaving the whole stinking mess behind him as he goes. Such a senior figure openly blaming Osborne for the cuts and the cruelty is a serious blow for both Osborne, Cameron AND for the pro EU group.
Yes, I did say a blow against the Pro EU group, Osborne is very Pro EU, he even used his budget of all things to preach the pro EU agenda and make a few veiled threats about what would happen if the UK left. But now, who is going to want to be part of team Osborne, who is going to be supporting a pro EU campaign that has suddenly been linked to taking money from the disabled and giving it to those on £40k + in tax breaks, people in wheel chairs going hungry to pay for handouts for the wealthy. Osborne represents both and by his presence links both even though there is no such correlation.
But when people are angry they don’t think about clear distinctions, it’s easy to lead the mob to think Osborne and the EU are the same thing.
I expect IDS is going to be throwing himself fully into the anti EU campaign fairly quickly, working with the other Tories who are part of the leave campaign and re-establishing his credentials as a Tory Leader.
Oh and get into the good books of the next leader whoever that will be, either by working with them in the leave campaign, or if the UK votes to stay and Boris isn’t the next leader then being in a strong position with a solid block of MPs behind him to get back onto the cabinet or a senior position again.
Very little of this affair is to do with benefit cuts IDS has known about for weeks or months and everything to do with politics and looking out for himself.
I suspect Osborne is going under the bus simply to save the government and no one wants to be anywhere near him when the 'Accident' happens. Too many people now blaming him directly and too few (that matter) supporting him. Widely known and respected economic organisations and experts are openly questioning Osborne's economic policies, even the economy is in on the act by doing worse that Osborne promises.
So it's time to quit, plead innocence, jump on the Brexit campaign full time to look good to the back benches and butter up the party for a cabinet seat under the next leader.
Of course I could be me being cynical as usual but it has a smell about it.
Sinking ships and rats.