Iain Duncan Smith Flatlines; Boycotting Bloomberg Parties; Benn Dozes off. (the Insider)

By Routledge, Paul | New Statesman (1996), September 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Iain Duncan Smith Flatlines; Boycotting Bloomberg Parties; Benn Dozes off. (the Insider)


Routledge, Paul, New Statesman (1996)


Regime change is back on the agenda. No, not in Baghdad. In Smith Square. After his lustre-free performance in the Iraq debate, question marks are again hovering over lain Duncan Smith, with a senior ex-minister saying the Tory leader must go if his party is still flatlining after the council elections in May. It would only take 25 Tory MPs to trigger a vote of confidence in IDS, and then 84 voting "no" to force a leadership election in which he could not stand. There cannot be a John Major-style "back me or sack me manoeuvre. "We've backed him. Now we should sack him," said one MP.

In last week's column, Tasked if the GMB general secretary; John Edmonds, had obtained a cosmetic eye operation on the private sector. I accept his assurances that he had a serious medical condition, and that the treatment was on the NHS; I regret any suggestion to the contrary.

The diminutive comic Sandy Toksviq, a great catch for the Lib Dems, enlivened a "Britain in Europe" conference fringe bash with a story about her Danish father. He attempted to be as English as the English by telling a Danish audience that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". In translation, it came out as "the vodka is good, but the meat is off".

Coloured perspex invitations are showering on Westminster from the Bloomberg news agency. The first, in the shape of a CD, was for drinks at the Lib Dem conference. The second, complete with swizzle-stick (appropriately), is for the Labour bash. And finally comes an invite in the shape of a posh hotel key for the Tories. Enough perspex to fit our the RAF Is this the same cash-strapped agency that got rid of its lobby correspondent, David Healy, because his long experience did not come cheap enough (though its founder had money to buy the votes of New Yorkers and become Mayor Michael Bloomberg)? …

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