Magazine article The Spectator

'Everyone' Says That IDS Is Doomed, Which Is a Good Reason to Suspect That He Is Not

Magazine article The Spectator

'Everyone' Says That IDS Is Doomed, Which Is a Good Reason to Suspect That He Is Not

Article excerpt

Thank you, Charles, for putting me through such hell. . . . ' Thus Diana, Princess of Wales, in the newly revealed letter to her butler, Paul Burrell, not long before her death.

Ours is an imitative age. Epistolary revenge - the letter only to be made known after the feared and forecast catastrophe has happened - could catch on among public figures who, rightly or wrongly, feel themselves persecuted. The way things are going, we may expect in a few years' time a letter to come to light which lain Duncan Smith wrote just before the crash. It would have been sent to his deeply devoted butler, Bernard Jenkin.

It could begin with the same words as Diana's did: 'This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous.' It could go on: 'X is planning an accident in my leadership. . . . ' The X would indicate a person who cannot be identified for legal reasons but whom future scholars would assume to be cither Michael Portillo, Theresa May, John Maples, Francis Maude, or the entire backbench parliamentary Conservative party.

'I have been battered, bruised and abused mentally by a system for two and a half years now. . . . Thank you, Michael/Theresa/Francis/the Times/the Sun for putting me through such hell. . . . '

The question will arise: why is the butler making lain's letter known now? Why did Mr Jenkin not hand it to the authorities immediately after the crash? Obviously, one explanation will be money. Mr Jenkin offered his buttling services to all the candidates in the election for Mr Duncan Smith's successor, but was rejected. His heart would always be with lain, they thought. No, no, he vainly cried. There must be closure. My heart is available to either Michael, as well as to Ken or David, though I draw the line at Theresa. To no avail.

Then, inevitably, will come the attempt to discredit his story. Mr Maude will go on all available television and radio stations. 'Face it, lain was under stress. He said all sorts of things during those last months. At one stage, he said something very odd to some people when he thought no one was listening - the Conservative party conference. He told them he was going to lead them to victory at the next general election, or maybe it was that, at the next election, he was just going to lead them. He was so distraught at the time he was speaking that it was unclear exactly what he was saying.

'Anyway, just because he said it, it did not mean it was going to happen. Also, this butler, Jenkin, sounds a highly dodgy character. For a start, he's believed to be heterosexual. That's pretty strange in a butler.'

We shall probably never know exactly how Mr Duncan Smith met the fate that, at the time of writing, nearly everyone seems to think he will. But, also at the time of writing, the Guardian has just published the results of an ICM poll under the headline: 'Voters reject Tory rivals.' The poll shows Mr Duncan Smith to be more popular, or at least less unpopular, than his, at the moment, two most talked-of successors: Mr Howard and Mr Davis.

This confirms my own suspicion that a leadership election would hinder rather than help the Conservatives. …

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