Iain duncan smith

How has the Conservative party’s ‘Dr No’ escaped everyone’s notice for so long?

The reason conspiracy theories are so resilient, reproducing themselves from one generation to another, is that they are unfalsifiable. Evidence against them, however solid, has obviously been faked. Anyone who tries to demonstrate that Americans did land on the moon or that J.F. Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald is obviously in the pay of people who stand to benefit. If you ask who those people are, since there seems to be no evidence of their existence, the answer is always the same: they are very good at concealing themselves. And so the theory finds credulous punters. To save time, I should probably point out that The Spectator, which

Tory big beasts battle for Tugendhat’s job

The great ministerial merry go round continues at pace. Liz Truss’s triumph in the leadership race has seen a number of ambitious MPs enter government for the first time; among them is Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. His new frontbench role as security minister means he has to surrender his post as head of the backbench committee, triggering something of a bun fight over who gets to replace him. Select committee chairmanships are highly valued prizes, bestowing the incumbent with prestige, profile and an extra £15,000 salary bonus. And it’s no surprise then that two of the biggest beasts in the backbench Tory jungle are set

Tory MPs in stand off over Will Smith

Ding, ding, ding! It’s fight club time in the Tory party. In the blue corner it’s Simon Hoare. And in the, er, other blue corner it’s Dehenna Davison and Sir Iain Duncan Smith. The subject of today’s rumble in the Westminster jungle is Will Smith’s jab at Chris Rock at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. Well, they do say politics is showbiz for ugly people… Hoare was early out of the blocks this morning to engage in some ritual macho chest-beating. The Northern Ireland select committee chair scoffed, ‘I’d just hope if someone thought it in good taste to make a joke at the expense of a medical condition of my wife then I’d get

My encounter with Sue Gray

I only voted in one no-confidence motion. The leader was Iain Duncan Smith, and it was a bit awkward. I spent hours every week helping Iain with Prime Minister’s Questions, and felt sorry for him. At the same time, his leadership was a disaster. Indeed, Tony Blair was going easy on him in the chamber just to keep him alive. So what to do? On the morning of the vote, I conferred with two other new MPs in the PMQ team — David Cameron and Boris Johnson. We all agreed he had to go and swore a pact. So off I went to cast my ballot. A few hours later,

A short history of political violence

The ugly attack on Iain Duncan Smith by five protestors at the Tory conference in Manchester has been widely seen as another illustration of how dangerously embittered British politics has become. We now live, it is often said, in a world of deepening friction, hate and intolerance. Angela Rayner’s now notorious rant about Tory ‘scum’ was also seen as a prime example of the spread of ‘cancel culture’, or the way Twitter rage has ruined civilised debate. Ditto the alarming story of Labour’s MP for Canterbury, who refused to attend her own party’s conference in Brighton last week after she received a number of threats. It’s all very unpleasant. Amid concerns

Tory MPs are changing their minds on Universal Credit

Tory MPs will not get the chance to force the government into a U-turn on scrapping the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift this afternoon after the Speaker didn’t select their rebel amendment. Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green had tabled the motion refusing to give a second reading to the bill on the basis that the money saved by breaking the pensions triple lock should have been diverted towards keeping the uplift. The motion would not have reinstated the uplift, but would have blocked the legislation process enabling the government to suspend the triple lock so that the state pension rises in line with inflation or 2.5 per cent, rather than

Watch: Top five blue-on-blue Tory MP attacks

After seven and a half hours, the House of Commons debate on Afghanistan has finally concluded. Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab will not have fond memories of the day. Keir Starmer, in front of a packed House of Commons for the first time in his leadership, delivered a respectable performance, replete with jabs at the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. But it will be the criticisms from Tory MPs that will have alarm bells ringing in No. 10 tonight, after a series of bruising condemnations delivered by one senior backbencher after another. Below Steerpike brings you the top five flashpoints of blue on blue attacks from today’s debate in the House of

Keeping yourself angry, the Hare way: We Travelled, by David Hare, reviewed

A character in David Hare’s Skylight claims she has at last found contentment by no longer opening newspapers or watching television. ‘Well,’ says her astounded interlocutor, ‘you’re missing what’s happening. You’re missing reality.’ Hare himself can never be accused of missing (or missing out on) the reality of what is happening. He has already even mounted his response to ‘what it was like to experience Covid-19’ in Beat the Devil, starring Ralph Fiennes. His instinct has always been to tackle current affairs, sometimes with surreal consequences. When I saw Pravda, which was about Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen, the stalls were filled with Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen — art