Iain Duncan Smith had big ideas for improving social justice in the UK. How much did he actually achieve?by Philip Collins / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Fifteen minutes by car up the M8 motorway out of Glasgow you arrive at the site of the epiphany. On the Easterhouse estate in 2002, close to tears at the squalor he witnessed, the Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith changed his mind about politics. Posing in front of the dilapidated housing blocks, he was both incredulous and ashamed that people should live in such circumstances in a rich nation. Duncan Smith committed his party to compassion on the spot.
Still, better a late convert. When Duncan Smith returned to London, he established the Centre for Social Justice and turned himself into John Profumo without the scandal. Though there was always a suspicion that the think tank’s conclusions had a habit of reflecting what Duncan Smith already thought—marriage and happy families were the road to social justice—his new-found passion lasted all the way up to the point that his party returned to government and he was granted the opportunity to embody his principles, as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.