Coffee House

Exclusive: why IDS was offered Justice, and how he turned it down

4 September 2012

10:09 AM

4 September 2012

10:09 AM

Yesterday afternoon, David Cameron met with Iain Duncan Smith. According to a Downing Street source, IDS was offered the job of Justice Secretary. But the Prime Minister did make clear that the former Tory leader could stay at DWP if he wished.

I understand that there were three reasons for the proposed shift. The first was articulated by Danny Finkelstein on Newsnight last night, IDS is a visionary and welfare reform — and the universal credit in particular — is now moving into the implementation phase. It was thought that Chris Grayling, a former management consultant, would be better suited to that task. The second reason was identified by James Chapman in the Mail over the summer, IDS is one of the few people who could sell a penal policy that prioritised rehabilitation to the Tory party and the Conservative-leaning press.


Finally, it was thought that a new welfare secretary would be more prepared to make the additional cuts in welfare that George Osborne needs to limit the cuts required in other departmental budgets. Numbers 10 and 11 are acutely aware that IDS won’t go along with cuts of this scale and if both him and Nick Clegg are determined to block them, they won’t happen.

But having agreed to think about it at yesterday’s meeting, IDS informed Downing Street this morning that he had decided he wanted to stay at DWP.

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Show comments
  • Tokohoko

    “IDS is a visionary”. That is without doubt the most hilarious thing I have ever read in anything purporting to be a serious piece of poltical journalism.

    • wrinkledweasel

      Ah, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    • wrinkledweasel

      Ah, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    • ChristopherHeward

      What makes you disbelieve this? Just because he’s not charismatic, etc. doesn’t mean he’s not a visionary, in fact often the opposite is true, where the charismatic ones are the ones that get by or personality rather than clearly thought out ideas. The reason he didn’t succeed as a leader was probabbly this reason, plus that he wasn’t the kind of person who would drive through people to do as he said, but instead wanted to create ideas and enact, which takes time and involves consensus and focus on the ideas themselves, rather than on being obsessed with promotion, or the party itself, or whatever.

  • dalai guevara

    If I was in IDS’s shoes, I wouldn’t let go of the implementation of UC, even if I was offered Gideon’s job.

  • colliemum

    Wrong headline – you told us why IDS was offered Justice, but you didn’t tell us how he turned it down, only that he slept on it.

    Must do better next time.

  • James102

    With regard to IDS being able to “sell” a penal policy that prioritises rehabilitation, it is said that a symptom of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
    Our criminal justice system has moved from an emphasis on punishment and deterrence to rehabilitation at the same time as we have become a non-homogenous society and opened our borders to anyone who can find their way here. The result is more crime and disorder.
    Like education policy there seems no point at which failure is recognised as being the fault of the policies and theory.
    Political ideology and religious faith have much in common neither has much time for evidence based results or applying falsification criteria to their beliefs.


    “met with”! Ugh! Ask Fraser to buy you a Fowler for Xmas.

    • nickwilde

      What about…”him and Nick Clegg”? That’s even worser.

    • johnfaganwilliams

      Happens all over the place now. Agree, can’t stand it. Part of the decline and Americanisation of the English language. Transient and intransient seems to be dead.

  • SchoolForScandal

    Good for IDS – he seems determined to see welfare reform through, without resorting to ’management-speak’, as espoused by Grayling and Co. I wish him the best…

  • Douglas Carter

    It’s nice to know that it’s been worth avoiding ‘Newsnight’ these days if they still insist on bringing know-nothings like Finkelstein to blather away.

  • Robert E

    By ‘I understand’ you presumably mean ‘I am the vehicle for a leak because I’m so good at brown-nosing Tories’.

  • Robert E

    By ‘I understand’ you presumably mean ‘I am the vehicle for a leak because I’m so good at brown-nosing Tories’.

  • Carl Gardner

    There’s also an EU angle to this I think: the UK has a big decision to make in 2014 about whether to opt in fully to EU crime cooperation laws, or else to opt out completely. (At the moment we’re sort of half in). Moving Clarke, and offering this post to IDS, is a clear signal Cameron prefers a Eurosceptic to be in the lead on that decision over the next 18 months.

    • blingmun

      Yeah that’s the kind of faux Euroscepticism we’ve come to expect from Dave. Nods, winks and faints in the direction of opposing Brussels but then staunchly pro-EU when it comes to anything substantive.

      Get rid of that lying weasel and there are several million voters like me who will consider coming back into the fold. Otherwise, good luck in the political wilderness.