Rattled: IDS charges Flanders with 'peeing all over industry'
Iain Duncan Smith's attack on BBC economics editor is further evidence of panic at lack of real growth
ALLEGATIONS by Iain Duncan Smith that BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders was guilty of "peeing all over" British industry are being held up by Labour as evidence of jitters at the heart of Team Cameron over the failure of the coalition to get the economy working.
Today's papers are full of further evidence of Tory nerves at the failure to stimulate growth, including the front page of The Independent's cheap sister, the i, reporting that local government minister Eric Pickles is planning to scrap rules that he believes inhibit private house builders, including the requirements for 'affordable' housing in all new home developments.
Duncan Smith's outburst at the alleged anti-Tory bias of the normally well-respected Flanders is seen by senior Labour officials as further evidence that Cameron and Co are rattled by the failure of George Osborne, the Chancellor, to produce real growth in the economy.
Flanders provoked the Work and Pensions Secretary into an angry rant in the Mail on Sunday by posing the very real question – why is the economy stuck firmly in the doldrums while the latest unemployment figures last week showed that the number in work has risen by 201,000, the highest increase for two years?
Of course it was "good news" that unemployment was falling, said Flanders, but the figures were a puzzle. "It is not necessarily good news for us or the Chancellor if we are needing more people as a country to make less stuff."
With economists who previously supported the Osborne austerity plans increasingly calling for a Plan B to be tried, there is more evidence of the growing desperation in the Tory ranks on the grassroots ConservativeHome website where Paul Goodman, the former MP for Wycombe, is warning this morning that Cameron's leadership is now open to question.
"Mr Cameron's position is at risk - and would be more so were there a convincing challenger in the Commons," he writes.
Goodman also predicts that "in the absence of any compelling plan to open up a ten-point lead over Labour, party conference will be far more tense than last year's."
He reckons Cameron's hopes of pushing through a big economic renewal package are doomed to failure because the Liberal Democrats and Labour would vote against them. That's because the PM's plan is based on tax cuts for the rich and a massive deregulation programme.
Cameron is spending the holiday contemplating how he can reassert his authority with a reshuffle when he returns to his desk - but he can't even do that. Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, warned through "friends" to the Mail on Sunday that he won't be removed without a fight.
Clarke has long been a target of the Tory right. If Cameron caves into pressure to sack him, the PM will be accused of removing from the Cabinet one of the few genuine heavyweights who helped reassure liberal Conservatives that Cameron would not be made a hostage of the Tory right wing.