He rambled. He coughed. He coughed rather a lot, so much that the host of The Andy Marr Show (tm) had to repeat one of his questions. But Iain Duncan Cough made sure, during that interview, that he had taken out his dagger and put it into both Young Dave and his next door neighbour Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet. They were the bad guys, and he was the one who really cared.
He could, and should, have called the Tories’ press pals off. He did not. The idea that he was, as he put it to Marr, “Semi-detached” from all of this, is not credible. He ought to think himself lucky that the strongest language Cameron used in response to his resignation was to call him a “Shit”. His shambling exposition, in which he was reduced to trowelling on his love for his country and pretending to care, will persuade nobody.
No, Duncan Cough’s resignation is about many things, but giving a crap about others is not one of them. Ros Altmann was right that part of it is about the upcoming EU referendum campaign. Allied to that is a direct attack on PM and Chancellor, as he told that “we are drifting in a direction that divides society not unites it”, which is as clear a signal as any to other ministers who may also be thinking of resigning.
Another reason he has gone may be down to Universal Credit, the system dreamed up to simplify payment of benefits. It’s designed to give access to all benefit entitlements if only one is requested - so anyone making an application does not have to fill out a whole range of forms and undergo the same range of questions, vetting, and other enquiries. It sounds straightforward enough. But it could end up costing the Government dearly.
Why so? Well, the amount unclaimed in benefits has been recently put at as much as £24 billion a year. But Universal Credit would all but eliminate that - provided one benefit is claimed, all others would automatically kick in. Duncan Cough’s flagship benefit reform could end up costing his own Government tens of billions of pounds. Yet none of his colleagues seem to have figured this out - yet.
All of which means that Duncan Cough has shafted his party several times over with his resignation, his wayward self-justification on the Marr Show, and the financial time bomb of Universal Credit he has activated and left slowly ticking down with nobody yet looking to defuse it. Will his successor abandon it, after all the resources that have been expended so far? Don’t bet against it. The aftermath of Iain Duncan Cough has hardly begun.
The only fortunate number for Cameron is that it took his mentor “Shagger” Major little over four months before his post-election world fell apart in 1992. Dave has had the best part of a year. And it will only get worse, unless of course you are one of those who looks upon politics as being an excellent spectator sport.