Iain Duncan Smith has made two notable media appearances today and his comments will
reveal how the government’s plan to fight gangs and lawlessness will unfold. He has just told Sky News that cuts to local youth programmes should be revisited. If the government reverses some of
these decisions, it might satisfy the need for a positive policy angle, as described by James
earlier. On the other hand, some Tories voice private concerns about reversing spending decisions, fearing that it would play into the Harmanite school of thought that cuts are to blame in part.
Youth schemes and work are IDS’ inclusive carrot, but he also wields a coercive stick. He has already vowed to make life “hell” for gang members and, during an interview on this morning’s Today programme, he insisted that there will
also be no escape from justice for those people blessed with power and wealth. (Below is the transcript of IDS’
interview with Jim Naughtie.)
Society as a whole has been diagnosed as ‘sick’ and the government intends to cure, not just those areas that are most visibly broken, but also were the malaise remains latent. It is a
colossally ambitious task, especially when coupled to the government’s ever more pressing economic challenges.
IDS: These [damaged] communities are almost like an inverted society, where people don’t recognise any concept of authority. At the same time, they have no
sense that there is much purpose putting back into society.
JN: Well, they may feel slightly hopeless about their prospects, and at the same time they may open a newspaper and read that MPs are being sent to gaol for
fiddling their expenses. That is one side of the argument?
IDS: It is. We all have to put our hands in the air, those of us in leadership positions, and recognise what has happened to us. That many of us decided that life is
about what you take out of it, not what you put back in. So stiffing somebody on a debt in the city, or raiding someone’s telephone for messages, or claiming expenses that you
shouldn’t have done, these are areas where we have to put our house in order.
JN: You’re putting it together? What we might term ‘bad behaviour’ by people in positions of power or wealth is the same problem as people who are
at the other end of the spectrum who are behaving badly?
IDS: Yes. We all need to recognise the culture of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ [can’t continue]. This process of right and wrong counts for all of
us…so when people transgress they will be [punished] too, no matter how wealthy they are.
JN: So, in other words, if people with wealth don’t set an example they can’t be surprised when things go wrong elsewhere?
IDS: Yes. It goes right the way through.