Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Big fuss over Mid- ranking problem

Been doing quite a bit of media today. Bit of excitement going on over resignation of a Cabinet Minister. Like it's never happened before. Felt at my most avuncular. Advice to all us "Calm down dears".  "Don't get over-excited".

The root of the problem seems to have been Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), which are due to replace Disability Living Allowance in 2017. Announced in the budget was a reduction in the cost of PIPs - though well trailed beforehand. Sec of State at Dept of Work and Pensions decided, after some consideration, that he could not support this budget measure and resigned. Pity I thought. He was replaced by the well thought of Stephen Crabb, a good friend. This opened the door for the promotion of two other good friends, Alun Cairns and Guto Bebb. Did seem like a Welsh reshuffle.

Now of course it would have been preferable if this had been handled better, but Ian Duncan Smith gave no warning of his resignation. No chance for the 'comms' teams to swing into action. By today, they were back in control of things.
So where are we today. Firstly, we should say thanks to IDS. He has done six years in a tough job, and achieved much in his personal mission to move people from welfare into work. He should be proud of what's he's achieved. And let's wish his successor, Stephen Crabb well in his new role. It will be a stern test of what he's made of. I reckon he'll do ok. "No more welfare cuts in this Parliament" was a great start, and surprised me - bearing in mind our manifesto promised £10billion reduction in welfare budget. (I think so anyway). Must admit I'm pleased about this, no matter what our manifesto said.
Some of the media comment has been mightily overblown. 'Govt in Crisis' sort of stuff. Reality is it will be forgotten by next week. Though there is the associated matter of the EU Referendum which will be the source of multiple spats until 23 June (and perhaps afterwards).
Goodbye and thanks IDS. Welcome and good luck Stephen. Congrats to Alun and Guto. Now move along please. Nothing more to report. At least that was my line with the media today.

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