The Conservative Party is no longer ‘all in it together’. The Party has been ripped asunder by the resignation of a senior cabinet member, Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith. We have for some time experienced an open rift in the Conservative Party over the EU referendum. Now we have one over the Chancellor’s budget statement. The Conservative Party is ripping itself apart at the seams.
We are no longer ‘all in it together’, in the country either, according to Iain Duncan Smith. Paraphrasing and directly contradicting Cameron’s moral justification for austerity he calls into question Osborne’s commitment to fairness. This should be a mortal blow for any government. Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, Owen Smith, and Tim Farron, the Leader of the Liberal Party, are calling for Chancellor George Osborne to do the honourable thing and resign.
So what is the hoo-ha all about? Iain Duncan Smith declares in his resignation letter that he is unhappy about announcing cuts to disability benefits in the context of a budget in which the balance of tax changes strongly favours the rich. He is also unhappy to see that the young have been disproportionately hit relative to better-off pensioners. Could this be, as his hints, that this is because the latter is the Conservative Party’s prime target constituency? Duncan Smith goes on to say that his department has been put under pressure to make deep cuts in welfare payments for reasons of political expediency rather than economic necessity. Surely this is a very frightening, if not entirely surprising, admission for a senior cabinet minister to make.
In sum the axeman is now fed up with doing a job he has come to feel is unjust and opportunistic. At least that is what he says in his resignation letter. Whatever his personal political reasons may be we must, at least in part, take him at his word. Three Tory ministers, including mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, have been called upon to resign from charities due to their support for the government’s severe cuts to disability benefits. This seems to be Cameron’s equivalent of Thatcher’s Poll Tax moment. To many people ‘We are all in it together’ has become a laughable parody of the truth. The sheer injustice is causing widespread outrage. This is much more than a storm in a tea cup, it has become a veritable hoo-ha!