Iain Duncan Smith
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In this name, the family name is Duncan Smith, not Smith.
George Iain Duncan Smith (born 9 April 1954; often
referred to by his initials "IDS") is
a British Conservative politician. He is currently the
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and was
previously leader of the Conservative Party from
September 2001 to October 2003. He was first
elected to parliament at the 1992 general election as
the MP for Chingford and has represented its
successor constituency of Chingford and Woodford
Green since the 1997 general election.
Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and served in the Scots
Guards from 1975 to 1981, with service in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia. He
joined the Conservative Party in 1981, and was elected as a Member of
Parliament in 1992. When William Hague resigned as Conservative Party leader
in 2001, Duncan Smith won the subsequent leadership election, bolstered by the
support of Margaret Thatcher and his Eurosceptic ideology. Duncan Smith was
the first Roman Catholic to serve as Conservative Party leader, and the first born
in Scotland since Arthur Balfour.
In 2003, the Conservative Party passed a Vote of No Confidence in Duncan
Smith, as many considered him unable to return the party to government. He
resigned, and was succeeded as party leader by Michael Howard. As a
backbencher, Duncan Smith founded the Centre for Social Justice, a centre-
right think tank independent of the Conservative Party and became a published
novelist. On 12 May 2010, Conservative leader and Prime Minister David
Cameron appointed Duncan Smith to serve in the cabinet as Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions.
Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1954. He is the son of W. G.
G. Duncan Smith, a Royal Air Force Group Captain highly decorated in World
War II, and Pamela Summers, a ballerina; they married in 1946. Duncan Smith's
matrilineal great-grandmother was a Japanese woman, Ellen Oshey Matsumuro,
who married Pamela's grandfather, merchant seaman Captain Samuel Lewis
Shaw. He is thus one-eighth Japanese (Yonsei). Other relatives include British
Canadian CBC wartime broadcaster Peter Stursberg, whose 2002 book No
Foreign Bones in China records the story of the Anglo-Japanese couple, and his
son, current CBC vice-president Richard Stursberg. Through Captain Shaw,
Duncan Smith is also a distant relative (3rd cousin once removed) of George
Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright and socialist.
Duncan Smith was educated at St. Peter's RC Secondary School, Solihull until
the age of 14 and was subsequently educated at HMS Conway, a naval training
school on the isle of Anglesey (where he allegedly played rugby union in the
position of fly-half alongside Clive Woodward at centre) until he was 18. He then
also attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He was commissioned into the Scots Guards as a second lieutenant on 28 June
1975. He was assigned the service number 500263. He was promoted
to lieutenant on 28 June 1977. He was moved to the Regular Army Reserve of
Officers on 2 April 1981, signalling his retirement from the military.
His six-year service including spells in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia, where he
served as aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir John Acland
On leaving the Guards, Duncan Smith joined the Conservative Party and took up
employment at the General Electric Company in 1981.
Member of Parliament
At the 1987 general election, Duncan Smith contested the constituency
of Bradford West, where he was defeated by the incumbent Labour Party MP
Max Madden. At the 1992 general election, he stood in the constituency
of Chingford (where the Conservative MP, Norman Tebbit, was retiring), and was
elected to parliament. (Following boundary changes, Duncan Smith's
constituency became Chingford and Woodford Green in 1997.)
A committed Eurosceptic, Duncan Smith was a constant thorn in the side of
Prime Minister John Major's government in 1992–97, disrupting Major's pro-
European agenda at the time (something that would often be raised during his
own subsequent leadership when he called for the party to unite behind him).
Duncan Smith remained on the backbenches until 1997, when the new
Conservative leader William Hague brought him into the Shadow Cabinet as
Shadow Social Security Secretary. In 1999, Duncan Smith was moved to
replace John Maples as Shadow Defence Secretary.
Leader of the Conservative Party
William Hague resigned after the Labour Party's victory in the 2001 general
election. On 13 September 2001, Duncan Smith won the Conservative Party
leadership election. He had initially been seen as an outsider candidate, but his
support was bolstered when Margaret Thatcher publicly announced her support
for him. His victory in the contest was helped by the fact that his opponent in the
final vote of party members was Kenneth Clarke, whose strong support for the
European Union was at odds with the views of much of the party.
As a mark of respect for the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, the announcement of Duncan Smith's
victory in the leadership contest was delayed until 13 September 2001. In
November 2001, he was one of the first politicians to call for an invasion
of Iraq and held talks in Washington, DC, with senior US officials, including Vice
President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.
In local elections, the only elections in which Duncan Smith led the party, the
Conservatives gained over 500 extra seats on local councils, primarily in
Problems as leader
In 2002, Michael Crick on the TV programme Newsnight caused some
embarrassment when probing Duncan Smith's curriculum vitae, which had been
in circulation for years, for example, being reproduced in the authoritative
annual Dod's Parliamentary Companion for the previous ten years. The CV
claimed that he had attended the University of Perugia when he had in fact
attended the Università per Stranieri, which did not grant any degrees at that
time, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Dunchurch
College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC
Marconi's staff college.
Duncan Smith proved not to be a particularly effective public speaker in the
rowdy atmosphere of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of
Commons. His seeming troubles with a "frog in his throat" throughout most of his
two years as leader prompted Private Eye to refer to him incessantly as "Iain
Duncan Cough". As well as this, there were continued rumours of discontent
among his backbenchers, not dampened by his warning to his party in November
2002: "My message is simple and stark, unite or die".
The 2002 Conservative Party conference saw an attempt to turn Duncan Smith's
lack of charisma into a positive attribute, with his much-quoted line, "do not
underestimate the determination of a quiet man". The line was as much derided
as it was admired. During PMQs, Labour backbenchers would raise their fingers
to their lips and say "shush" when he was speaking. The following year, Duncan
Smith's conference speech appeared to have abandoned this technique in favour
of an aggressive hard-man approach that few found convincing, even if the party
members in the hall punctuated the speech with several ovations. The most
remembered sound bite from the speech was his, "the quiet man is here to stay,
and he's turning up the volume."
Duncan Smith stated in December 2002 that he intended to be party leader for a
"very long time to come." This did little to quell the speculation in Westminster
regarding his future. On 21 February 2003, The Independent newspaper
published a story saying that a number of MPs were attempting to start the
process of petitioning for a vote of no confidence in Duncan Smith, as many
Conservative MPs considered him to be unelectable.
These worries came to a head in October 2003. Michael Crick revealed that he
had compiled embarrassing evidence, this time of dubious salary claims Duncan
Smith made on behalf of his wife that were paid out of the public purse from
September 2001 to December 2002. The ensuing scandal, known as "Betsygate"
weakened his already tenuous position.
Vote of no confidence
Under leadership vote of confidence rules, 15% of Conservative MPs (at this
point twenty-five MPs) had to write to the Chairman of the 1922
Committee demanding the vote. On 26 October, amid mounting claims that the
threshold of 25 was about to be reached, Duncan Smith made an appearance on
television daring his opponents to show their hand by the evening of 29 October
or to withdraw their challenge. He also stated that he would not step down if a
vote was called. Duncan Smith's demand that 25 MPs write to the Chairman by
29 October had no bearing on party regulations. Had the votes not been
delivered until later, the vote of no confidence would still have gone ahead.
Nevertheless, by 28 October, 25 Conservative MPs had indeed signed on to
demand a vote.
After the vote was announced, Duncan Smith made an appearance in front of
Conservative Party headquarters in Smith Square, where he stated that he was
"absolutely" going to contest the vote, which was held on 29 October. He lost by
90 votes to 75. He stepped down as leader eight days later when Michael
Howard was confirmed as his successor (Howard was unopposed for the role
and so no election was required).
Duncan Smith followed William Hague as only the second Conservative Party
leader since Austen Chamberlain not to have become Prime Minister and was
the first since Neville Chamberlain not to have led the party in a general election.
Return to the backbenches
After his term as party leader, Duncan Smith established the Centre for Social
Justice in 2004. This organisation is a centre-right think tank which works with
small charities with the aim of finding innovative policies for tackling poverty.
(Duncan Smith served as the centre's Chairman until he joined the Cabinet in
May 2010, and remains its Life Patron.) He also served under Michael Howard
on the Conservative Party's advisory council, along with John Major, William
Hague and Kenneth Clarke.
On 7 December 2005, Duncan Smith was appointed Chairman of the Social
Justice Policy Group, which was facilitated by the Centre for Social Justice. The
group's aim was to "study the causes and consequences of poverty in Britain and
seek practical ideas to empower the least well-off," and was one of several that
were set up by Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Duncan Smith's
Deputy Chair was Debbie Scott, the Chief Executive of the charity Tomorrow's
People. The group released two major reports, "Breakdown
Britain" and"Breakthrough Britain". "Breakdown Britain" was a three hundred
thousand word document that analysed what was going wrong in the areas of
Economic Dependence and Unemployment, Family Breakdown, Addiction,
Educational Failure, Indebtedness, and the Voluntary Sector. "Breakthrough
Britain" recommended almost two hundred policy ideas using broadly the same
themes. On their website the group claimed that the Government has so far taken
on sixteen of the recommendations, and the Conservatives twenty-nine.
Duncan Smith was re-elected comfortably in Chingford and Woodford Green at
the 2005 general election, almost doubling his majority, and remained a
backbencher for the Conservative Party. He has been Member of Parliament for
Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997, having succeeded Norman Tebbit as
MP for the predecessor constituency of Chingford at the 1992 general election.
In September 2006 he was one of fourteen authors of a report concerning Anti-
Semitism in Britain. He was also one of the only early supporters of the Iraq
surge policy. In September 2007, he called for Britain to withdraw from the war
against Afghanistan and to fight in the war in Iraq indefinitely. In his 2009
Conservative Party Conference speech, Conservative Party leader David
Cameron signalled that Duncan Smith might serve in his Cabinet, with
responsibility for social justice, should he be called upon to form an
administration after the next general election.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Following the 2010 general election, the Conservative Party formed coalition
government with the Liberal Democrats, with David Cameron as Prime Minister.
Cameron appointed Duncan Smith to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work
and Pensions, with responsibility for seeing through changes to the welfare state.
Outlining the scale of the problem, Duncan Smith said almost five million people
were on unemployment benefits, 1.4 million of whom had been receiving support
for nine or more of the last 10 years. In addition, 1.4 million under-25s were
neither working nor in full-time education. "This picture is set against a backdrop
of 13 years of continuously increasing expenditure, which has outstripped
inflation," he said. "Worse than the growing expense though, is the fact that the
money is not even making the impact we want it to. He continued saying "A
system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now
trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate."
It was also announced that Duncan Smith will chair a new Cabinet Committee,
involving Cabinet members from the Treasury, Home Office, Health, and
Communities and Local Government departments, to tackle the underlying
causes of poverty.
In June 2010, Duncan Smith said that the Government will encourage people to
work for longer by making it illegal for companies to force staff to give up work at
65. At the same time, the age at which employees can claim the state pension
will rise to 66 as soon as 2016 for men – 10 years earlier than the last
government had decreed. Life expectancy is currently 77.4 for men and 81.6 for
women. At present rates, there will be three people in their nineties for every
newborn by 2050. Duncan Smith told The Daily Telegraph that the radical
pension reform he will oversee was designed to “reinvigorate retirement”. “People
are living longer and healthier lives than ever, and the last thing we want is to
lose their skills and experience from the workplace due to an arbitrary age limit,”
he said. “Now is absolutely the right time to live up to our responsibility to reform
our outdated pension system and to take action where the previous government
failed to do so. If Britain is to have a stable, affordable pension system, people
need to work longer, but we will reward their hard work with a decent state
pension that will enable them to enjoy quality of life in their retirement. He
continued saying, “That is why we are issuing a call for evidence on moving the
state pension age to 66, and thereafter plan to take a frank look at the
relationship between state pension age and life expectancy.” The announcement
coincides with John Hutton, the former Labour minister, beginning a review of
public sector pensions which is expected to recommend that staff contributions
increase substantially as soon as 2011.
In July 2010, Duncan Smith said that more workers will have to wait until they are
68 to claim their state pension as the Government speeds up plans to raise the
retirement age saying the move would save billions of pounds. Labour set out
plans to increase the retirement age to 66 by 2024 and 68 by 2046 to reflect
growing life expectancy. Before the election, the Tories suggested that it should
rise to 66 sooner – by 2016. Duncan Smith said workers would have to accept
even quicker increases as Britain tightens its belt. The Government's timetable
suggests that the retirement age is likely to reach 68 by 2038, meaning millions
more will be forced to wait for their pension.
On 30 July 2010, Duncan Smith announced a series of reforms that are intended
to ensure that low earners will always be better off in employment. They are in a
document that will form the basis of a White Paper to be published this autumn
and herald the end of Labour’s complicated tax credits system, with many
benefits being rolled into one. "After years of piecemeal reform the current
welfare system is complex and unfair," said Duncan Smith. One example cited by
Duncan Smith involves the case of a lone parent with three school-age children
earning £7.50 an hour as an office administrator. Working 23 hours a week, he
says, she would have a net weekly income (including benefits and tax credits) of
£345 after paying rent and council tax. However, if she were to increase her
hours to 34 a week she would get only about £10 more due to a loss of
benefits. The new system will be called the Universal Credit.
In November 2010, as Work and Pensions Secretary, Duncan Smith said a major
shake-up in the welfare system would benefit all those who "play by the rules".
The plan, which will see people who refuse to take up job opportunities stripped
of benefits for up to three years, is part of a "contract" with the unemployed.
Duncan Smith said simplifying the welfare system would ensure "work always
pays more" than relying on the state by easing the rate at which benefits are
withdrawn as income rises.
In a Commons statement on 11 November 2010, he said: "This is our contract:
we make work pay and support you through the Work Programme to find a job.
"But in return, if we do that, we also expect co-operation from those who are
seeking work. "That is why we are developing a regime of sanctions for those
who refuse to play by the rules as well as targeted work activity for those who
need to get used to the habits of work".
Duncan Smith, in December 2011 has drawn up proposals to stop “under-
employed” people “topping up” their wages with hand-outs when they are capable
of working for longer. Individuals will be told they must earn a minimum amount
each week from their jobs and will face being stripped of their housing benefit and
tax credits if they fall short, under the plan. The reforms, which could come into
force from 2013, mark the latest stage of Mr Duncan Smith’s drive to encourage
more people to move from a dependency on benefits to earning a living through
work. Duncan Smith said benefit claimants “must take responsibility for
themselves” and their families. “We are already requiring people on out of work
benefits to do more to prepare for and look for work,” he said. “Now we are
looking to change the rules for those who are in-work and claiming benefits, so
that once they have overcome their barriers and got into work, in time they can
reduce their dependency or come off benefits altogether.”
In January 2012 Duncan Smith said that imposing a planned £26,000-a-year
benefits cap would not lead to a rise in homelessness or child poverty. He
admitted that peers may want to "vent" their feelings over the cap, the equivalent
of £35,000 before tax, but said it would help families who are trapped by a
dependence on benefits. "The reality is that with £26,000 a year, it’s very difficult
to believe that families will be plunged into poverty – children or adults," he told
BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Capping at average earnings of £35,000
before tax and £26,000 after, actually means that we are going to work with
families make sure that they will find a way out." He added that there would still
be some flexibility in the system to help struggling families who were genuinely
attempting to get back into work. Mr Duncan Smith said: "For people who fall out
of work, we have always said there will be discretionary measures to make sure
that this does not punish people but we make sure that we help them to change
their circumstances. "For those who are doing the right thing who have fallen out
of work, we will support them and make sure they get back to work. "Councils will
be able to work with certain key families who may need a little bit more time to
make some changes to their circumstances while they push them through the
cap and into new housing."
In June 2012 Duncan Smith argued that families should work at least 35 hours a
week, rather than rely on state handouts, if they want to avoid their children living
in poverty. Duncan Smith, said that Labour’s strategy to spend more than £150
billion in extra benefit payments for poor families had failed to stop child poverty.
Figures published show that the Government failed to meet its statutory target to
halve the problem by 2010 – despite the huge amount of taxpayers’ money spent
on tackling it. Duncan Smith unveiled a new analysis which will show that
hundreds of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty if at least one of
their parents works 35 hours a week earning the minimum wage. The introduction
of the universal credit, under the Government’s welfare reforms, will mean that
people returning to work from benefits will continue to receive some state
support. Mr Duncan Smith will also set out plans to change the definition of child
poverty so that a more sophisticated analysis is used. He said that the strategy
has failed and parents need to be helped back to work rather than simply
subsidised by the state. He said: “With the right support, a child growing up in a
dysfunctional household, who was destined for a lifetime on benefits could be put
on an entirely different track — one which sees them move into fulfilling and
sustainable work. In doing so, they will pull themselves out of poverty.”
In the September 2012 reshuffle, Duncan Smith was offered the job at the
Ministry of Justice replacing Kenneth Clarke but declined to remain in his current
Iain Duncan Smith has become significantly involved in issues of family and
social breakdown. He has stated his support for early interventions to reduce and
prevent social breakdown.
During Duncan Smith's leadership campaign in 2001, he changed his stance on
the now repealed Section 28 from opposing repeal to supporting it. In 2003,
Duncan Smith's decision to compromise on repeal of Section 28 was described
as "illogical" and "messy" by other Conservative MPs.
Views on marriage
In December 2010 Duncan Smith studied a state-sponsored relationship
education programme in Norway, under which couples are forced to “think again”
and confront the reality of divorce before formally separating. The policy has
been credited with reversing Norway’s trend for rising divorce rates and halting
the decline of marriage in the country over the past 15 years. Duncan Smith said
he was keen to explore ways in which similar approaches could be encouraged in
Britain. Officials point out that such a programme would be expensive but an
approach could reduce the long-term cost of family breakdown, which has been
estimated at up to £100 billion. Duncan Smith said couples in Norway were able
to “work through what is going to happen with their children”, which has “a very
big effect on their thinking”. “Many of them think again about what they are going
to embark on once they really understand the consequences of their actions
subsequently,” he said.
Duncan Smith said in February 2011 that it is "absurd and damaging" for
ministers not to extol the benefits of marriage for fear of stigmatising those who
choose not to marry. Duncan Smith said: "We do a disservice to society if we
ignore the evidence which shows that stable families tend to be associated with
better outcomes for children." He added: "There are few more powerful tools for
promoting stability than the institution of marriage." He added that "The financial
costs of family breakdown are incredibly high. But what is most painful to see is
the human cost – the wasted potential, the anti-social behaviour, and the low self-
In late April 2012, Duncan Smith signalled his support for same-sex marriage on
the basis that it would promote stability in relationships.
Views on immigration
In July 2011 Duncan Smith said that tighter immigration controls are vital if Britain
is to avoid “losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness”. In a
speech delivered in Spain he said that only immigrants with “something to offer”
should be allowed into the country and that too often foreign workers purporting
to be skilled take low-skilled jobs that could be occupied by British school leavers.
According to the Daily Telegraph's analysis, the speech contained a warning to
David Cameron "that a 'slack' attitude to immigration will result in the Coalition
repeating the mistakes made under Labour, when the vast majority of new jobs
generated before the recession were taken by immigrants". However, the
published text of the speech does not refer to the prime minister in its comments
on "seeing the situation repeat itself, with more than half of the rise in
employment in the past year accounted for by foreign nationals".
Mr Duncan Smith believes that some companies are using immigration as “an
excuse to import labour to take up posts which could be filled by people already
in Britain”. He says Britain needs an immigration system that gives the
unemployed “a level playing field”. “If we do not get this right then we risk leaving
more British citizens out of work, and the most vulnerable group who will be the
most affected are young people,” he said.
On 6 November 2003, Iain Duncan Smith released his novel The Devil's Tune.
The book received heavily critical reviews such as, "Really, it's terrible ... Terrible,
terrible, terrible.", by Sam Leith in the Daily Telegraph. The book was never
published in paperback.
He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle, daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe, in
1982. The couple have four children.
His wealth is estimated at £1 million much of which has been earned by working
as a high end after dinner speaker.
Duncan Smith has been reported to support both Tottenham Hotspur where he
holds a season ticket and Aston Villa. Gareth Southgate cited Duncan Smith
when he remarked afterEngland's 2002 World Cup quarter-final defeat
against Brazil that "we were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain
Duncan Smith." This comparison was seen as being a scathing criticism of the
then England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson's quiet and understated approach