Monday, January 05, 2015

Has Iain Duncan-Smith conceded the General Election?

Iain Duncan-Smith is to accelerate the rollout of Universal Credit so that Labour can't scrap it, or so it is said by the Daily Telegraph.

My first thought, when Ros told me this, was, "Is that the action of a politician who expects to be in power after 7 May?". Hardly. And it isn't as though Labour are fifteen points clear in the polls, without a cloud in the sky to spoil their triumphant stroll to power. Increasingly, talk is of a hung Parliament without any clear indication of how the chips may fall. Heaven knows, I haven't a clue what the outcome will be, and certainly won't be betting my life savings on it.

And, as I've already noted, cancellation of the Universal Credit programme is not an obvious step - it offers a (potentially) genuinely innovative means of cutting the cost of welfare without having to cut benefits (sort of).

What worries me is that, in order to protect Mr Duncan-Smith's legacy, he will cause the very thing he fears most, cancellation of a project which, due to entirely unnecessary haste, ends up failing and failing badly.

Government should be about having confidence in your actions, and not about making it impossible or extremely expensive to undo your commitments. Labour demonstrated how not to do this when ordering aircraft carriers in the run-up to the 2010 election.

So, more haste, less speed, appears to be the appropriate cliche here. Nonetheless, it's not a bad dictum for government...

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