The now former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith resigned last week from his cabinet position. The man himself pointed to an “unfair” budget, put forward by the Chancellor George Osborne, and cuts to the disability benefits as his reasoning behind this sudden move.
Mr. Duncan Smith said, in his first interview after his resignation to the BBC, that the government was risking “dividing” the nation, with a budget that was desperately seeking savings. He accused the tories of targeting those on benefits, as they were those who “would not vote for us [The Conservatives]”.
Many are now suggesting this is the first abundantly clear signal that the Tory government is splitting. With the seams splitting over crucial social issues and their economic compromise, which have been made worse with the evolution of the Tory governments austerity policies. However, more important are the ramifications this may have for the 2020 general election, and the Tory leadership election.
Lets start with the Tories. George Osbourne has a lot of thinking to do! He needs to be very wary of not creating, or rather furthering, the idea that he is a minister for the rich and not for the poor and needy. He is already lining up against potentially the most charismatic and instantly likable politicians the UK has seen for decades in Boris Johnson. The greatest problem old Georgie will find is that he will be punished for the sins of his past, by which I mean the acts of his during his spell as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although acts in favor of money over social issue may be popular with the old class of Conservative, the same cannot be said to the same extent with the younger class of Conservative who hold social issues in higher esteem. Where as the blond haired, latin speaking, apparent comedy gold Boris Johnson will be judged less on his past mistakes, to which there re many let me assure you.
The next issue for either candidate in the Tory leadership challenge would be the 2020 general election. Lets say for now, George Osbourne is the new Tory leader (hear the crowds moan). Now we have a party (the Tories) who are labelled as “anti-poor” and another party (Corbyn’s Labor) who will be labelled as the “people’s party”. Now be honest with yourself! Would you rather the “anti-poor party” or the “people’s party”?
Now how about lets say that Boris Johnson is the new Tory leader (hear the Roman senate cheer, or rather Romanus clamore senatus). Now the 2020 general election is suddenly far more appetizing for the public to sink its teeth into. It is even highly possible that the promise of an election between two charismatic leaders such as Corbyn and Johnson could drive election turnout up, especially youth turnout. The parties would no longer be labelled as anti this or that! No longer a politics of bad news, all doom and gloom.
However, there is still plenty of time before the Tory leadership election and even more before the general election. Therefore, there is still plenty of time for Osbourne to build a better image of himself and become a more electable prospect. So if Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation was a nail in the coffin of anybody so far it is not all the way in, and can still be pulled out of the coffin of Osbourne’s Prime Ministerial hopes and those of a third term for the Tory party in Government.