Based on the reaction of usually coherent lefties on my social media feeds you’d have thought Margaret Thatcher had been resurrected from the grave, only to be slaughtered by the ghost of Tony Benn. On the 18th of March 2016 the Work and Pensions Secretary, and prominent Tory hate figure, Iain Duncan Smith had resigned from his position – ostensibly in protest being forced to cut working age and disability benefits whilst protecting benefits for wealthy pensioners. On the face of it, this seems principled. Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, practices an aggressive method of staying in government in which reliable voting demographics are targeted with perks whilst other low worth groups are neglected.
It’s plausible that Duncan Smith has finally had enough of these politicised orders from Downing Street and has decided to make as big a fuss of the issue as possible. However it is important to look at the political context and timing of his resignation. David Cameron will step down as prime minister before the next election and prominent Tory figures are already manoeuvring to replace him. The former Tory party leader’s resignation can only be seen as an attack on the competency of the of prospective leader George Osbourne, and a tacit endorsement of his biggest rival – Boris Johnson.
The EU membership referendum is another factor. Duncan Smith is strongly in favour of Out, whereas Cameron and Osbourne are In. It could not be a more opportune time to undercut the Tory In campaign in the run of to the referendum in the summer. In light of these two issues the resignation is actually a pretty cynical move, with more relevance to internal Conservative party politics than any wider discussion on the attacks on the disabled, the young and the poor.
It’s true that this is hugely embarrassing for Cameron and Osbourne – and has given much needed ammunition to Jeremy Corbyn. However the 2020 election is still years away, and in the meantime the marginalised are still going to get fucked over like never before. Iain Duncan Smith’s replacement, aside from being a fundamentalist bigot, is a safe bet to be nothing but a glorified yes man for whatever else Osbourne’s got planned.
Celebrating IDS’s resignation is silly, he’s still an MP, he’s still rich and he still lives in a huge country estate. The policies he put in place are going to continue and poor, disabled and young people are going carry on suffering.