There’s an extended profile of Iain Duncan Smith and his social justice agenda in today’s Observer magazine: The second coming of Iain Duncan Smith.
The lion’s share of the progress that the party has made in this area under David Cameron’s leadership – recently acknowledged by the Church of England – is owed to Iain Duncan Smith. He has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for his Centre for Social Justice and many of the party’s policy ideas owe much to his work. There’s much more to come. A whole range of policy groups are about to report on homelessness, prisons, welfare benefits and housing. Perhaps most important of all is the little known CSJ Alliance. The Alliance is a support network for Britain’s most effective poverty-fighting organisations. Within the Alliance there are groups successfully tackling almost every single social ill. In the years to come the Alliance has the potential to offer a different model to the welfare state and to the establishment voluntary sector.
But Iain Duncan Smith is far from the only big beast in the Conservative jungle. The talent outside of the Tory frontbench is very considerable.
David Davis’ campaign on historic liberties has captured the national attention even if it has bypassed the Westminster village. He wins the endorsement of Tony Benn in today’s Sunday Telegraph. He published his manifesto on Friday. Incidentally, while ConservativeHome disagrees with him on 42 days we support eight-and-a-half of his other ten campaign planks. Both ConHome editors have recently slept outside of Parliament as part of a Burma protest so we support the right of free speech outside of Parliament but wonder what he means by wanting all restrictions on free speech removed. Would constant loud speaker protests, including loud music, be permitted?
We may start getting into hotter water with some of our other nominations but three other big beasts stand out:
Sir Malcolm Rifkind. It is an enormous shame that Sir Malcolm chose to leave the frontbench when David Cameron was elected leader. His views on foreign policy and the constitution make him a favoured media pundit. Only today he has penned a very good op-ed in The Sunday Telegraph calling for South Africa to bring Zimbabwe down within one month by turning off Harare’s power supply. Dan Lewis recommended the same on CentreRight just over a week ago.
Ken Clarke. He is heavily tipped to return to the Tory frontbench if we win the General Election. A poll of members found that most wouldn’t mind or would welcome his return.
John Redwood. The figure most party members see as the leading champion of ‘the Right’ outside of the frontbench has blogged a strong endorsement of David Cameron today: "No sensible Conservative need doubt the Leader’s Conservative credentials. This is the man who led his party in its calls for a referendum on Lisbon and to oppose the whole Treaty. This is the man who led his party to advance cuts in Inheritance Tax for the many, as well as the man who has presided over most important work on how to mend Britain’s damaged society. Under Cameron Conservatives know what we believe in – we believe in opportunity for all, with reform of public sector housing and schooling to make that more of a reality for those currently excluded from home ownership and good education by Labour’s clumsy state."
We return to IDS and David Davis as the two most interesting of the big beasts. They have led the party to take their respective causes very seriously. Both began to champion their causes while holding high office within the party but have persevered since. One big gap for a big beast cause still stands out to us: international development and international human rights. These related issues are still not yet quite top tier within the party. Who could be the big beast to champion them?