The welfare secretary has emerged as the last man in cabinet standing up for the poor
The quiet man stopped turning up the volume and switched to listening mode. Ousted as Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith lent his ears to tenants on troubled estates, and then had two thoughts. First, the poor were worth worrying about; second, broken benefits could be fixed by integration. The latter proposition will be tested (perhaps to destruction) with his universal credit next year. As for the first, IDS sermonises, but warm words have, up until now, been undermined by the cold deeds of cutting £18bn from the benefit bill. This weekend, however, the welfare secretary publicly said “thus far but not much further”. In the Times, he rejected George Osborne’s demand for another £10bn on explicitly moral grounds. It’s a shame he didn’t find his bottle earlier, of course, but as Cameroons turn callous and Lib Dems sit limply by, it is an irony that the last man in cabinet standing up for the poor is a pillar of the Tory right.