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Earlier this week Iain Duncan Smith was given the social justice prize at the ConservativeHome awards.  He received an overwhelming majority of votes from the ConservativeHome readers who decided the prizewinners.

It is also good to see that people outside of the Conservative Party are now giving Iain the recognition that he deserves.  Today’s Times carries an extended interview with the former Tory leader.  Helen Rumbelow and Alice Miles give IDS a lot of room to explain his compassionate conservatism and conclude:

 "Being
deposed does funny things to a politician: they are bored, many get
depressed, some go mad. Mr Duncan Smith went back to Gallowgate and
Easterhouse, was inspired to found his Centre for Social Justice and
dedicated his life to helping the poorest in Britain."

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On 29th June 2004 Ben Brogan, then still at The Telegraph, penned a sketch about IDS’ launch of the CSJ.  I found Ben’s words a huge encouragement at the time (Declaration of Interest – I helped Iain found the Centre) and Iain is certainly beginning to show that a "strong idea" is, indeed, more powerful than a concrete monument.  This is what Ben wrote:

"Iain Duncan Smith popped up yesterday to unveil a memorial to his brief leadership of the Conservative party. Seven months on from his forced removal, his followers gathered for a ceremony to open what they hope will be a monument to his legacy. It’s a south London thinktank.  Former American presidents get lavishly endowed libraries charting every minute of their administration; French presidents build themselves glass pyramids, wonky opera houses and national libraries that leak; in the heart of the African jungle there is an empty cathedral bigger than St Peter’s built by a now-dead dictator.  On that basis Mr Duncan Smith might have hoped for a bit more than an office next to Lambeth Tube station… {But] it was his message – that politicians can no longer afford to ignore communities racked by alcohol and drug abuse – that mattered to his audience.  They know, as Westminster may be about to discover, that a strong idea coupled with dogged enthusiasm will achieve more than a plaque, a portrait, or a glistening library.”

Related Times link: "David Cameron, most of the Shadow Cabinet and the majority of backbench Conservative MPs are to improve their understanding of social exclusion by spending a week with homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, HIV sufferers and victims of sexual abuse."  Also see Ed Vaizey’s diary of his time at a homeless shelter.

39 comments for: The Quiet Man finds his voice and his mission

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