IDS Fell for the Same Reason as Ceausescu: His Security Apparatus Turned against Him

By Johnson, Frank | The Spectator, November 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

IDS Fell for the Same Reason as Ceausescu: His Security Apparatus Turned against Him


Johnson, Frank, The Spectator


For a party which all agree is unlikely to win a general election in the foreseeable future, the Conservatives arouse disproportionate interest. For weeks, an unprecedentedly open dispute between Mr Blair and Mr Brown has racked what has long looked like becoming the natural party of government.

But hardly anyone is really interested. Nearly everyone assumes that an unprecedentedly open dispute between Mr Blair and Mr Brown always racks the natural party of government. But the Conservatives? Now there is an interesting situation, everyone seems to agree. Not just what is going to happen but will having a 'big beast' of a leader make all the difference, and so on? People still seem to be interested in what happened. What brought about the fall of the little beast? How exactly did they manage to rid themselves of Mr Duncan Smith?

The orthodox answer is: because he was not up to it. But MPs often come to that conclusion about their leaders. Either they agree that he or she is not up to it, or that he or she was once up to it, but no longer is. But when the leaders do not go voluntarily, parties rarely get rid of them. Getting rid of them when they do not want to go is a considerable undertaking. In view of the gratifying interest in the Conservative party, then, it is worth trying to establish how Mr Duncan Smith was got rid of. Not why he was got rid of - we all know that it was because he was thought not up to it - but how.

My own modest researches suggest that were it not for Mrs Duncan Smith's unsuitability for the distaff side of the comparison, Mr Duncan Smith fell for the same reason that Ccausescu did in Romania. His security apparatus turned against him. Its members decided that it was in their personal interest to side with the mob rather than with the party boss whom they had served until then.

It was as if Mr Duncan Smith, when the crisis deepened by the chill north-western sea in October, had summoned his chief whip and ordered him: 'Arrest Maude. Shoot Maples. Torture every scrap of treasonable information out of the dog Bercow. Stop Blunt getting across the Hungarian frontier.'

'Yes, sir, right away,' the chief replied. 'None of those scum will leave Blackpool until they are broken men,' which admittedly is the condition of most men in Blackpool. But nothing happened. The chief had his famous 'career development interviews' with certain revolutionary ringleaders. But, since they entailed no violence, the interviews proved harmless.

Instead, the whips infiltrated the mob, assuring the backbench rabble that if they massed against the leader, they would not be fired on. The following week the revolt spread to the capital. A few stalwarts, such as Owen Paterson and John Hayes, remained loyal, and reassured the leader that he would put down the rebellion. 'Don't worry,' they told him. 'Johnson's fighting for you, giving everything he's got.' But they got the wrong Johnson. It was I who was fighting to the last moment, not the Member for Henley. In the confidence motion, the latter went over to the rabble as it surged forward on that last Wednesday.

We ordinary policemen in the IDS Securitate kept shooting. Our officers had long since escaped through the vengeful crowd - discarding their uniforms and disguising themselves as modernisers. …

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