‘The Corn Laws analogy is misplaced. There’s no good reason why the Tories should split over Europe’, ConservativeHome, 17 May 2016.

An apocryphal aphorism coined by a firebrand left-wing legend might not be an obvious way to start a discussion about what could happen to the Conservative Party in the wake of the EU Referendum, but Nye Bevan surely had a point when he asked ‘Why gaze into the crystal ball when you can read it in the book?’  The past may be a foreign country but it’s often a better guide to the future than even the best-informed best-guesses.

The problem, however, in this case is that just about the only book anyone seems to have read is the one which features Robert Peel’s decision back in the mid-nineteenth century to repeal the Corn Laws – a move that triggered a huge split in the Tory Party and put it out of power for decades.  Rarely, these days, does one read a column talking about the Conservatives contemporary travails over Europe which doesn’t make at least a passing mention of the precedent. I should know: I’ve written one or two of them myself.

Yet, to enter a plea in mitigation, I’ve only done so to make the point that, even if it is the first example for which everyone wanting to demonstrate a portentous sense of historical perspective reaches, it’s not actually very useful.

For one thing, Peel’s decision was so divisive because it was so obviously at odds with what the vast bulk of the Tory Party at the time stood for – both ideologically and in terms of the socio-economic interests it represented.  This is not the case with Cameron’s decision to back remaining in the EU – a position supported by, let’s not forget, the majority of his colleagues in Cabinet and in the Commons, as well as by many of those who’ve backed the Conservatives financially over the years.  Moreover, whereas Peel’s move represented a break with the status quo, Cameron’s stance merely confirms it.

For another, the parties and party system of 1840s were nowhere near, to lapse into social-science-speak, so institutionalised as their equivalents today, when parties are (relatively, at least!) disciplined outfits with fairly clearly-defined programmes on which they are regularly held to account by a mass electorate and a mass media.  This has been the case in liberal democracies all over the world since 1945, and one would be hard-pressed to think of a single mainstream centre-right party that has melted down or smashed itself to pieces over even the most fundamental of internal disagreements.  The idea that this would happen to a party operating, as the Tories do, in a first-past-the-post system that mercilessly punishes small and splinter parties is even more far-fetched.

So the crystal ball it will have to be – and gazing into it gives us two obvious scenarios.

First up: we vote to remain.  In which case David Cameron is highly unlikely to attempt a ‘revenge reshuffle’ in order to see off the sceptics: he lacks the strength to do it and anyway it’s not his style. Instead, he, and even some on the other side, will try to forgive and forget – and to prove that you can indeed put the genie back in the bottle.

Whatever the margin, however, this won’t provide a miracle cure for the Conservative Party’s problems over Europe.  Instead those problems will return, at least for a while, to being chronic rather than acute, although they will doubtless flare up again as soon as Brexiteers feel they’ve left a decent interval or Brussels decides to amend a treaty, whichever is the sooner.

If, on the other hand, we vote to leave, things may actually be easier – certainly in the long term.  In the short term, of course, Cameron might have to go, although maybe not quite as quickly (or as willingly) as many assume.  Meanwhile, those who joined him in campaigning to remain will accept the will of the people: after all, they’re pragmatists – that’s why, some would say, they’re in the Remain camp in the first place. Just as importantly, they will be supported, rather than summarily executed, by the majority of those in the victorious Leave camp, most of whom, it is all-too-easily-forgotten, are grown-ups too.

Leaving might also have an upside in the sense of encouraging the Tories to turn to what some people (and most voters) regard as more pressing matters – the economy, housing, social care, the NHS and the slow-down in social mobility.  As long as the party’s Ayn Rand faction doesn’t interpret victory in the referendum as a mandate to drag the party way off to the unchained right, a chance to re-focus in this way can only be to the good.

But leaving throws up a potential downside for the party too.  If Brexit does trigger a leadership contest, whoever wins it will face huge pressure to seek a personal mandate via an early election. Gordon Brown’s experience will weigh heavily, as will the overwhelming likelihood of an easy victory over a Labour Party which is at best out of sorts and at worst out of its mind.

The Conservatives would win that election, yes.  But Corbyn would lose it – and badly.  A 1983-style defeat would offer Labour a chance to come to its senses much earlier than might otherwise be the case and mean that the Tories could face an election in, say, 2023 against a much more formidable opponent – possibly against the backdrop of a) an economy still struggling to recover from the initial shock of Brexit and b) net migration figures which Brexit had done little or nothing to reduce.

All of which recalls another aphorism, although not, this time, one we can attribute to anyone in particular: ‘Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.’


Originally published at http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/05/tim-bale-what-will-become-of-the-conservative-party-after-the-referendum.html


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‘David Cameron is not the man to shoot the Conservative Eurosceptic dog’, Telegraph, 10 May 2016

You know the Tory Civil War is back on when the body-snatching starts again in earnest.  A few weeks ago, Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, the MP for Mid-Sussex, made it plain that he took a dim view of Leave campaigners trying posthumously to enlist the great man to their cause.  Now, however, the other side are up in arms because, in their view, the Prime Minister tried to do pretty much the same during his speech at the British museum on Monday.

But before we worry about how much more we, or indeed the Conservative Party, can take of this sort of stuff between now and June 23rd, it’s worth stepping back to ask who’s really to blame for the sorry state of affairs in which the Tories now find themselves.  No-one, of course, emerges spotless from such an excercise.  But David Cameron surely has more to answer for than most – and not because he’s at last being beastly to the Brexiteers but because he wasn’t beastly enough to them in the first place.

It was Sir Nicholas who recently declared in an interview with ConservativeHome that “If you have an Alsatian sitting in front of you, and it growls at you and bares its teeth, there are two ways of dealing with it. You can pat it on the head, in which case it’ll bite you, or you can kick it really hard in the balls, in which case it’ll run away”

Cameron chose right from the start to pat Conservative Eurosceptics on the head rather than kick them where it hurts.  Hence the trouble the Tories are in today. The Prime Minister hasn’t always crossed the street in order to avoid a fight with his own party.  But he is not by nature confrontational, preferring calibration and conciliation to outright conflict.  And nowhere has his tendency to buy himself time and to buy his opponents off been more evident than on Europe.

When, during the 2005 leadership contest, Liam Fox declared that he would pull the Conservatives out of the EPP group in the European Parliament, Cameron, who had previously given no indication whatsoever that he intended to do anything so self-defeating, almost immediately followed suit.

Once he had won, Cameron found that, despite some stalling, he couldn’t renege on the pledge, notwithstanding the time and effort it was bound to take in order to restore the damage it did to his relationship with Angela Merkel.

In any case, he came to appreciate that honouring that pledge, along with giving in to demands for a further promise of policy repatriation and a referendum lock on any further transfer of power to Brussels, would be a useful and apparently cheap way of proving his Conservative credentials to those worried about him taking the party too far into the centre ground.

However, the fact that Cameron failed to win the 2010 election and therefore had to do a deal with the Lib Dems – and the fact that the Eurozone seemed on the verge of collapse while UKIP began to threaten his MPs’ majorities – meant that when his right-wingers presented him with the bill for services rendered, they insisted on adding extra items.

Suddenly, they demanded , the Prime Minister would have to veto this and avoid opting back into that.  Oh, and that referendum – well, it would no longer be enough to keep it in reserve as a rocket of last resort; instead it had to be brought up to the front line and fired off immediately. And, in case he didn’t quite get the message, they would rustle up the odd rebellion just to remind him that their bite could be as bad as their bark.

Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, at which he finally gave the leavers what anyone with any sense knew they’d wanted all along, may have seemed to some like an act of leadership – but only in the sense apocryphally attributed to the French republican, Ledru-Rollin: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

But even if, as the referendum result seems to hang in the balance, there are signs that he may finally have decided to fight fire with fire and show the Leave Alsatian who’s boss, there’s a catch.

For one thing, that Alsatian isn’t a puppy anymore, meaning that a few swift kicks aren’t going to be enough to do the job.  He’ll have to hurt it more than he might want to – and if he loses in June, it will be him, not the Alsatian, who’ll have to run away. For another, what is Cameron going to do with said canine if, in the end, Remain wins the day?

Talk of some sort of post-referendum “reckoning” – the proverbial “revenge reshuffle” – might excite some particularly zealous In campaigners.  But it seems improbable, largely because it would be so out of character: even if he could control it, Cameron simply isn’t the kind of guy to take a dog out back and shoot it.  And nor, one suspects, are any of his probable successors.


Originally published at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/10/david-cameron-is-not-the-man-to-shoot-the-conservative-euroscept/


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‘Labour voters don’t have a problem with Jewish people….’, Telegraph, 5 May 2016

This time last year, many people believed that the Labour Party was about to supply the UK with its first Jewish Prime Minister since Benjamin Disraeli.  How things have changed.  The party that was led by Ed Miliband for five years between 2010 and 2015 and has a proud record of fighting discrimination in all its forms seems to have a serious problem with antisemitism.

But what about Labour’s voters?  Are those likely to back the party at the polls today any more likely to harbour anti-Jewish sentiments than those who will put their cross elsewhere? A survey conducted exclusively for Queen Mary University of London by YouGov on the first two days of this week suggests not.

Certainly, it looks as if the long weekend’s headlines about Ken Livingstone may have driven awareness of the issue up the agenda. Of nearly 1700 people questioned, some 29 per cent think there is a good deal or a fair amount of prejudice against Jews in the UK – up from 24 per cent when we asked the same question last year.

Yet when we asked people this week how much they agreed with the statement “Jews have too much influence in this country”, we found only seven per cent agreeing with it.  Moreover, only two per cent out of that seven per cent agreed strongly, suggesting that hard-core antisemitism is, thankfully, pretty rare in twenty-first century Britain.

And Labour voters, it seems, are no more likely than anyone else to have a problem with Jews. Indeed, if anything, they were, at 48 per cent, more likely than people as a whole (at 43 per cent) to disagree with the idea that Jewish people have too much influence. Indeed, the only outliers on this question were Ukip supporters, only 31 per cent of whom disagreed with the idea, with 14 per cent of them actually agreeing.

Furthermore, Labour voters (at 74 cent) actually seem happier than their Tory-voting counterparts (at 67 per cent) with the idea of the country having a Jewish Prime Minister – something some 65 per cent of people as a whole had no issue with.  Indeed, if any party’s voters had a problem with the statement, “A British Jew would make an equally acceptable Prime Minister as a member of any other faith”, it was, once again, Ukip’s: at 51 per cent, they were much less keen on the idea than average and more likely (12 per cent compared to 6 per cent of people as a whole) to say they didn’t like it.

But what was also interesting on this question, particularly in view of some of the mud that has been slung around during this year’s mayoral contest, was the apparent difference between voters in London and those living in other parts of the country. In the Midlands/Wales, in the North, in Scotland, and in the rest of the South of England, two-thirds of people said they had no problem with the idea of Jewish Prime Minister. In London, however, agreement dropped to 57 per cent. Londoners were also slightly less inclined to insist that a party having a Jewish leader would make no difference to whether or not they would vote for it.

Quite why this is the case, we can’t know for certain, though some are bound to point to the fact that, just because the capital is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, doesn’t mean all of its communities embrace cosmopolitan attitudes – hence accusations levelled at Labour by some of its opponents that its antisemitism problem stems not just from sympathy with the plight of Palestiniansin the occupied territories but from its unwillingness to stand up to distinctly un-progressive prejudices back at home.

True or not, the results of our survey point, on this as well as other issues, to a mismatch between what Labour seems to have become under Jeremy Corbyn and the views of some (although not necessarily all) of its voters.  This might not stop the party winning London today. But the rest of the country? Forget it.


Originally published at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/05/labour-voters-dont-have-a-problem-with-jewish-people-but-london/


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‘How should Labour’s disgruntled moderates behave?’, New Statesman, 4 May 2016

When Albert O. Hirschman was writing Exit, Voice, Loyalty: Responses to decline in Firms, Organizations, and States he wasn’t thinking of the British Labour Party. That doesn’t mean, though, that one of the world’s seminal applications of economics to politics can’t help us clarify the options open to the 80 to 90 per cent of Labour MPs who, after another week of utter chaos, are in total despair at what’s happening under Jeremy Corbyn.

According to Hirschman, people in their situation have essentially three choices – all of which stand some chance, although there are no guarantees, of turning things around sooner or later.

The first option is simply to get the hell out: exit, after all, can send a pretty powerful, market-style signal to those at the top that things are going wrong and that something has to change.

The second option is to speak up and shout out: if the leadership’s not listening then complaining loudly might mean they get the message.

The third option is to sit tight and shut up, believing that if the boat isn’t rocked it will somehow eventually make it safely to port.

Most Labour MPs have so far plumped for the third course of action. They’ve battened down the hatches and are waiting for the storm to pass. In some ways, that makes sense. For one thing, Labour’s rules and Corbyn’s famous ‘mandate’ make him difficult to dislodge, and anyone seen to move against him risks deselection by angry activists.

For another, there will be a reckoning – a general election defeat so bad that it will be difficult even for diehards to deny there’s a problem: maybe Labour has to do ‘déjà vu all over again’ and lose like it did in 1983 in order to come to its senses. The problem, however, is that this scenario could still see it stuck in opposition for at least a decade. And that’s presuming that the left hasn’t so effectively consolidated its grip on the party that it can’t get out from under.

That’s presumably why a handful of Labour MPs have gone for option two – voice. Michael Dugher, John Woodcock, Kevan Jones, Wes Streeting and, of course, John Mann have made it pretty clear they think the whole thing’s a mess and that something – ideally Jeremy Corbyn and those around him – has to give. They’re joined by others – most recently Stephen Kinnock, who’s talked about the party having to take ‘remedial action’ if its performance in local elections turns out to be as woeful as some are suggesting. And then of course there are potential leadership challengers making none-too-coded keynote speeches and public appearances (both virtual and real), as well as a whole host of back and frontbenchers prepared to criticise Corbyn and those around him, but only off the record.

So far, however, we’ve seen no-one prepared to take the exit option – or at least to go the whole hog. Admittedly, some, like Emma Reynolds, Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper, and Rachel Reeves, have gone halfway by pointedly refusing to serve in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet. But nobody has so far declared their intention to leave politics altogether or to quit the party, either to become an independent or to try to set up something else.

The latter is easily dismissed as a pipe-dream, especially in the light of what happened when Labour moderates tried to do it with the SDP in the eighties. But maybe it’s time to think again. After all, in order to refuse even to contemplate it you have to believe that the pendulum will naturally swing back to Labour at a time when, all over Europe, the centre-left looks like being left behind by the march of time and when, in the UK, there seems precious little chance of a now shrunken, predominantly public-sector union movement urging the party back to the centre ground in the same way that its more powerful predecessors did back in the fifties and the late-eighties and nineties.

Maybe it’s also worth wondering whether those Labour MPs who left for the SDP could and should have done things differently. Instead of simply jumping ship in relatively small numbers and then staying in parliament, something much bolder and much more dramatic is needed. What if over one hundred current Labour MPs simultaneously declared they were setting up ‘Real Labour’? What if they simultaneously resigned from the Commons and then simultaneously fought scores of by-elections under that banner?

To many, even to ask the question is to answer it. The obstacles – political, procedural, and financial – are formidable and forbidding. The risks are huge and the pay-off massively uncertain. Indeed, the whole idea can be swiftly written off as a thought-experiment explicitly designed to demonstrate that nothing like it will ever come to pass.

On the other hand, Labour MPs, whether we use Hirschman’s three-way schema or not, are fast running out of options. The price for loyalty looks like being long-term opposition. Voice can only do so much when those you’re complaining about seem – in both senses of the word – immovable. Exit, of course, can easily be made to seem like the coward’s way out. Sometimes, however, it really is the bravest and the best thing to do.


Originally published at http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/05/how-should-labours-disgruntled-moderates-behave

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‘Where now are the earthly paradises from which an idealist can take hope?’, Observer, 20 March 2016.

It is only natural, when that hopey-changey thing is in short supply at home, that idealists start looking overseas for inspiration. And for some, it doesn’t stop there. Not content with attending demos and maybe tweeting and Facebooking in support of whatever country they happen to be making common cause with, they actually go there to express their solidarity.

That is not, of course, why Barack Obama is visiting Cuba this week, but it is why British leftwingers have made the self-styled socialist paradise their holiday destination of choice for decades. Sure, the weather’s great and so is the music. But what really attracts them, as long, that is, as they can forget about all the political prisoners and all the rationing, is its defiant refusal to compromise its principles.

Lefties aren’t entirely alone in this. The British right, after all, began its ongoing love affair with the US long before the left fell head over heels for Havana. Rightwingers’ affection for the Anglosphere also means that Canada, Australia and New Zealand regularly get prayed in aid of a policy being pushed at home, be it a supposedly no-strings-attached free-trade deal, a tough-as-it-gets asylum regime, or a system of contestable advice and recruitment from the private sector in the civil service.

But the left has always – and perhaps has always had to – cast its net rather wider when looking for shining examples and sources of optimism, revolutionary or otherwise. Sadly, however, the sheer variety of countries in which it has invested its hopes, as well as the sometimes wilful naivety that helped nurture them in the first place, has seen those very same hopes dashed time and time again.

As long ago as 1956, Jimmy Porter, the antihero of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, was lamenting: “There aren’t any good, brave causes left.” And in some ways the first cut was the deepest. Many progressives had put their faith in the Soviet Union – and continued to do so long after it made any moral or practical sense – only to see it smashed to pieces by the invasion of Hungary that same year.

Fortunately, for the British left anyway, the often dark and disturbing legacy of this country’s colonial past provided plenty of other causes to latch on to. Perhaps the most significant, because it was so self-evidently ethical, was the long-running campaign against apartheid South Africa, a cause that could be easily converted, once Nelson Mandela became its first black president, into sympathy and solidarity with the “Rainbow Nation” he hoped to build.

To claim that Mandela’s project has run into the sand would be going too far. But anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to how things have gone since his departure would be hard pressed to regard today’s South Africa with starry-eyed admiration.

The same goes for the Latin American countries that used to command so much of the left’s empathy and attention. There were times, in the 80s, when deciding between the T-shirt advertising your support for the ANC and the one showing your solidarity with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua represented a serious political, as well as fashion, dilemma. It turned out, as it always seems to, that things weren’t quite as black and white as we thought.

Daniel Ortega and chums might not have been the devils they were accused of being by the Americans, but they were no angels either. And dammit if the same doesn’t apply to heroes of more recent vintage such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who left a legacy of chronic shortages and human rights violations, and now Brazil’s Lula and Rousseff, both of whom are facing allegations of high-level corruption.

Turn to the Middle East and it’s a similarly sad story. The same year that Soviet tanks trundled down the streets of Budapest, Britain, France and Israel were involved in an outlandish conspiracy to snatch back the Suez Canal from what some of the more zealous progressive opponents of the operation came close to portraying as plucky little Egypt.

Rather embarrassingly for the left, however, it was the Americans who put the mockers on the whole thing. And, once the heat had gone out of the situation, even the most dedicated anticolonialist found it hard to retain sympathy for the Egyptian dictator, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and his brutal successors.

For a time, Israel’s kibbutz-style socialism seduced some on the left. But they couldn’t ignore the plight of the displaced Palestinians for ever, especially once voters started chucking out the centre-left in favour of rightwing hawks reliant for their Knesset majorities on some seriously dodgy characters. And then, just when the British left had begun to get comfy in their Yasser Arafat scarves, Gaza goes and elects Hamas, an organisation that even the most dedicated fan of its welfare work in the occupied territories would have to admit isn’t really progressive poster-boy material.

So where is a self-respecting radical to turn these days? Not even Scandinavia, long a good bet and a safe haven for those of a vaguely socialist or social democratic demeanour, seems up to the job any more. Maybe there was always less to it than met the eye, as Perry Anderson suggested in his 1961 essay Mr Crosland’s Dreamland. But it is harder today to argue, as Anderson noted some on the British centre-left did back then, that Stockholm is where “[e]lectoral realism and social idealism sublimely coincide”.

Nordic social democracy isn’t dead. Indeed, its entrenched values and institutions continue to constrain its opponents in ways that leftwingers living in Anglo-Saxon democracies can only dream of. But its political representatives are in no ruder health than they are anywhere else in Europe.

The Swedish Labour party may be clinging to office but the centre-right is in power in Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway. And in the last three cases, it governs with the support of radical rightwing parties. And the virulently xenophobic Sweden Democrats are now the third biggest force in that country.

Still, there is always Spain, in whose civil war Jimmy Porter’s idealistic dad supposedly received the wounds that eventually killed him and where the pony-tailed Pablo Iglesias is the latest leftwing pin-up – and Greece, even if its rock-star radical Yanis Varoufakis long since left the building.

Yet, if the past is any guide to the future, both countries are bound to disappoint sooner or later. Who knows, though? With Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, perhaps the British left no longer needs to look overseas to have its hopes raised and then dashed on the rocks of political reality.


Originally published at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/20/which-earthly-paradises-can-good-socialists-visit

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‘Gloves are off in Brexit battle’, Mirror, 20 March 2016.

VOTERS might never have been able to take Iain Duncan Smith too seriously, especially when he was Tory leader from 2001 to 2003. But to many MPs and ordinary grassroots members he matters.

IDS represents the “faith, flag and family” wing of the party – people who believe Britain should be outside the EU and who, while keen on the free market, reckon the rich have a responsibility to look after the less fortunate.

There are a fair few Tories of this persuasion in the Commons, and David Cameron only has a narrow majority. It is another indication the gloves are coming off in the fight between Tories who want Brexit and Boris and those who’d prefer to keep us in Europe and a smooth transition from Cameron to Osborne.

It’s not quite no-holds-barred stuff yet.

But in politics things can spin pretty swiftly out of control. Watch this space.

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‘Why Iain Duncan Smith resignation registers a six on the political Richter Scale’, The Conversation, 20 March 2016.

If there were a Richter Scale of Political Resignations, then prime ministers such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Harold Macmillan would register at the very top – on nine.

Big beasts such as Conservative Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine would register at about seven. Iain Duncan Smith’s departure, on the other hand, would probably score around six.

The work and pensions secretary’s departure is the sort of earthquake that would only inflict slight to moderate damage on solid structures but is capable of causing more severe problems for less stable edifices. Unfortunately for the Conservative Party, at least in the run up to the EU referendum, it fits all-too-easily into the latter category .

Duncan Smith can hardly claim to be in the same league as Geoffrey Howe – a genuinely quiet man who altered the economic and social destiny of his country. His resignation has clearly resonated, crystallising the antipathy many Tories feel toward a chancellor they see as too clever by half and a prime minister they regard as far too desperate to keep the UK in the EU. But Howe’s resignation really detonated, blowing a decade of British politics to kingdom come by triggering the defenestration of an icon and the eventual defeat of the Conservatives by New Labour a few years later.

Still, while Duncan Smith’s departure doesn’t represent a direct threat to a sitting prime minister, like Howe’s did, it is nonetheless a direct hit on the prime minister’s entire political project. It strikes at the heart of Cameron’s attempt to persuade the country that it can trust the Conservatives to combine competence with compassion and that it should vote to stay in the EU.

The critique that came through in Duncan Smith’s resignation letter rams home the Out campaign’s portrayal of David Cameron and George Osborne as disingenuous out-of-touch toffs who don’t give a monkey’s for ordinary people. And that is one of the few narratives, along with the idea that Britain will be overrun by foreigners unless it gets out of the EU, that stands a chance of overwhelming the In campaign’s message that Brexit is a leap in the dark that will endanger Britain’s prosperity and security.

Who to believe

Blogs, newspaper columns and the airwaves have been running hot with analyses of Duncan Smith’s “real reasons” for going. But motives in these cases are always myriad and mixed. They are one part long-felt frustration (in this case over Osborne’s game-playing and determination to achieve savings without hitting those voters the Tories need most), one part eye on the main chance (in this case kicking one of the guys who is key to battling Brexit while he’s down).

It is impossible at this stage to tell whether, by resigning, Duncan Smith has inflicted a flesh wound – superficially nasty but no risk to the Remain camp in the long term – or something a whole lot more serious.

Which kind of wound it turns out to be will depend partly on the Conservative Party itself but also on the public, too. And when it comes to the latter, political junkies would always do well to remind themselves that most people aren’t paying anywhere near as much attention to all this as they are. By the time the referendum rolls round, pollsters will be lucky to find a majority of ordinary voters who not only know some Tory guy resigned back in March but that his name was Iain Duncan Something.

This weekend, then, has been a bad one for Cameron, and especially for Osborne, but earthquakes, even moderately severe ones, are very often survivable.


Originally published at https://theconversation.com/why-iain-duncan-smith-resignation-registers-a-six-on-the-political-richter-scale-56574

Also published as Why the IDS earthquake (probably) won’t kill Cameron http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12199994/Why-the-IDS-earthquake-probably-wont-kill-Cameron.html

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