Cannon to the left of him. You don’t care about the disadvantaged. You were part of the Tory cuts.

Cannon to the right of him. You don’t care about the disadvantaged. This is a plot against the prime minister and the chancellor and really about Europe.

Cannon to the front of him. We don’t appreciate your holier than thou tone. We want your reputation, your name.

Into the valley of spin rode the 1 – the other 599 nowhere to be seen.

Moving straight ahead, trotting. Calmly: this is about social reform. I have no personal agenda. I haven’t spoken about Europe for ten years. And again, and again. Same message. Keep on going.

And then just before ten, interview finishing. The charge of sorts really begins. Fear, knowing the end is near, pushing him out of his normal timbre, his comfort zone. You cannot have my name it is all I have. Voice quickened, intense. Not found so much in the transcript but in the voice.

The rhythm of a flat out gallop.


“I care for one thing and one thing only.”

“It is that the people that don’t get the choices that my children get are left behind.”

“I do not want them left behind.”

“I want them given that opportunity, and everything I’ve tried to do has been about that.”


“What I am passionate about is getting that reform done so society is reformed,”

“so that we have more of those people who’ve been left behind brought back into the sphere and the arena where we play daily but they do not.”

“That is my frustration.”


“It’s not easy. It’s painful to resign.”

“I don’t want to resign, but I’m resigning because I think it’s the only way I can do this”

Gallop stopped by Marr, cutting in, asking another question but also telling him he’s there, stopping him running on, taking a wrong step and falling flat on his face.

Spin against that.

Interview over Andrew Marr mouths “very good” or “well done” – lip readers please clarify. I know you are on your own, so good on you, mouth-winks Marr.

In desperation came poetics: “where we play daily but they do not”. He’s even interested in the future for adults, those of working age, not banging on about the children and their future or about suffering pensioners. Even the disabled feature here not as victims but as workers for IDS.

I don’t know him, but where did this charge really begin? Isn’t he the quiet man, personality lite?

I don’t know him, but let’s do amateur psychology for clues.

He went straight from secondary school and into the merchant navy. Left that for the army. Rose to General’s aide de camp. A toff’s lackey?

He never went to Oxford or Cambridge. Never considered studying  PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) (they call it reading cos’ that’s what you have to do). Or at least PPE never considered him.

In 2002 in Perugia of all places he flunked business school.

I don’t know him, but he’s not one of the anointed ones. He knows the fear of failure, I think. Maybe, he kens the salvation that came with a steady institution behind him.

This focus is not from morality, from God, or above. “Are the government cuts immoral?” “I’ll leave that to the churchmen” answers Ian Duncan Smith.

He’s in Norman Tebbit’s old seat. A strange place, perhaps, for a one nation Tory. Tebbit said get on your bike to look for work. IDS wants to stop the government from making saddling up self-defeating. Wants the government to help with the bike or at least not nick it.

So belief in the dignity of labour, that old left wing cause. Not bad. No wonder he’s misunderstood. For the left, the right-on boys and girls in waiting, he doesn’t care in the right way. He’s not sorry enough for the needy. For the right, the posh boys in charge who know they should care, he doesn’t get that being able to say “the money went up in real terms” is enough to establish compassionate credentials.

Does it work like how he thinks though? Are personal incentives, twitches of tax codes, enough? His universal benefits system is mired in IT disaster. Is this a technical solution ill-fitting the social that constantly writhes, ducks and dives to try to keep some sense of moving on anyway.

What about some investment? Public ambition, not just personal salvation. Not the point here, today, though, perhaps.

Came thro’ the jaws of Death / Back from the mouth of Hell / All that was left of them him

His name. He kept his name. Weirdly you get to keep that nowadays by saying, as he did, that “I have absolutely no personal ambitions”.

The Tory leadership are now backing off in fear, knowing that spin will only turn back on them, reflected by established authenticity of belief. Labour MPs are trying to establish that IDS shows the Tories really don’t care – because their own convictions are not convincing.

A strange sort of hero for this week’s news cycle emerges from the smoke, fired up by the worry that we may now be about to go in the wrong direction.


With apologies to Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Miller.