[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Will the IDS inquiry clear the air?
Iain Duncan Smith

Sir Phillip Mawer, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has decided to go ahead with his formal investigation into Iain Duncan Smith's employment of his wife as a diary secretary.

This comes after the investigative journalist Michael Crick submitted further evidence in order to find out whether Betsy Duncan Smith did enough work to justify her salary.

Mr Duncan Smith has said that he is confident he will be cleared by the inquiry and has already submitted evidence which he says refutes the claims against him.

Do you think that the inquiry will resolve the crisis in the Tory party?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The comments published reflect the balance of views received:

This inquiry might just give the Tory Party the impetus needed to rid itself of its least charismatic leader to date - but then again, nobody seems to have the courage to make their accusations openly - confirming the image of the 'nasty' party.
Lynne White, England

I am sad to see how eager the British public is to crucify Mr Duncan Smith over this small incident and how quickly the very same people forget the staggering sums spent by the current government on projects such as the Millennium Dome...
Raluca, UK (currently in US)

This is a waste of valuable time and money
Mr Les Woods, England, UK
These are diversionary tactics on the part of all parties. This is a waste of valuable time and money. The country slips and slides around without any clear direction. When will we learn? Get the country back on its feet and then play games, please.
Mr Les Woods, England, UK

Why does Mr Duncan Smith think that it's acceptable for him to pre-judge the Hutton Inquiry (by making rash allegations against the Prime Minister) while refusing to do the same in the case of Sir Phillip Mawer's investigation into his own affairs?
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

I'm afraid I can't see the problem here. It's been a very common practice in industry for many years to "employ" a spouse, paying just below the income tax threshold so as not to have to bother with NIC, PAYE etc. Also it attracts tax relief for the company. I have seen this trick used in all sorts of businesses from Dentists "receptionists" to "Company Directors" who don't actually do very much! If IDS is going to be investigated, surely all these other businesses should be targeted as well?
Chrissie, Scotland

I may not be a conservative voter (though not much difference exists between Labour and the Tories), but it seems just when the Conservatives are showing increased popularity in the polls, certain elements of the Party are attempting to oust poor old IDS in order to reap the benefits. They are a two-faced lot!
Andrew, UK

What on earth was he doing employing his own wife? I'm sure he's not short of a few quid. This is the head of a major political party not a small business that needs all hands on deck. I'm not suggesting anything other than it was a quite amazingly stupid thing to do. Where do they find them?
Mike, UK

The world has moved on, the Tories needs someone who will move the party with it
nTim, UK
I am neither Tory nor Labour, but like the majority in the UK have a world view. More people travel than ever before and realise that the world is not just the UK and they want to be part of it while not losing national customs, traditions etc. Ken Clarke and others like him represent that world view rather than a narrow parochial view associated with IDS and his followers. If the Tories want to attract the voting public rather than the 'I'm a Tory right or wrong' variety they need to appoint a new leader fast who can give a commanding performance in the Commons, on televised debates and is media friendly. The world has moved on, the Tories needs someone who will move the party with it.
Tim, UK

No this inquiry will not solve the crisis in the Tory party. As a life long Tory voter I am extremely frustrated to see yet again the party looking in on itself and the leader rather than taking the fight to this terrible Labour government. WAKE UP NOW before it's too late - stop fighting amongst yourselves and get behind IDS and take the fight to Labour. Yes IDS may not be the best leader in the world but then again the other options in Ken Clarke etc... will not be any better. So STOP arguing about the leader before its too late and we have to face yet another five years of phoney Tony and his disastrous policies.
Steve Plank, UK

Labour are firmly rooting for IDS, they even tried to put a motion before the house praising him for his great leadership of the Conservative Party. Why? Because IDS is the best chance Tony Blair has of getting re-elected. Despite my extreme dislike of Tony Blair and his government I wouldn't dream of voting for IDS or the current Conservative Party policies. A more liberal form of conservative like that represented by Ken Clark I might consider. The problem is not the infighting it's the direction the party has taken in recent years.
Colin Wright, UK

This is the best thing that could happen to the conservative party. Now they have an excuse to get rid of him quickly. People have criticised his lack of charisma, but what about his lack of intelligence? By saying this is a matter for the commissioner to solve, he's not realised it's us voters who he should be trying to convince! WE want to know exactly what his wife did to earn her salary!
Ricardo Molina, London, UK

Mr. Duncan Smith should never have been made leader, he was basically used as a scapegoat by the euro-sceptics
Lynne Harrington, UK
No, I do not think the inquiry will clear the air. In my opinion Mr. Duncan Smith should never have been made leader, he was basically used as a scapegoat by the euro-sceptics. In a nutshell the Tory Party are too frightened of electing Kenneth Clarke as their leader because they are still living a life of 'Little England' politics and for these conservative voters to have Ken Clarke as leader would be 'a fate worse than death'. Come on wake up and elect Ken as your leader!
Lynne Harrington, UK

It was for sure a good and honest decision but politicians must avoid becoming controversial and that decision could not escape controversy and therefore it was not wise.
Artur Freitas, South Africa

If IDS is innocent he can go forward with integrity and attack all forms of sleaze both in the UK and the EU. If he is guilty he has proven that he is learning how to be a political leader (look after your own and your cronies). The behaviour of the plotters hardly recommends them as people that can be trusted. Any potential replacement for IDS can not declare himself now as his integrity and credibility will always be in doubt.
Alan Dugan, UK

The crisis is not just for the Tory party... it's the fact that he is not running an effective opposition, which is therefore a crisis for this country! If this spells the end for IDS then all the better for everyone. Get Portillo back, or step aside and make way for the Lib Dems.
David, England

This is the first real sign that the Conservative party are becoming a credible force for the next election and that Labour are running scared. Furthermore, while this grabs the public eye, what is getting swept under the carpet on what is, again, another "good day for burying bad news". After all, who's remembering Dr Kelly now?
John Dickinson,

It's good that IDS wanted to employ his wife as his secretary rather than a secretary who would become his new wife. I bet the inquiry costs more than she was paid.
Roger Jackson, England

I think that whatever the outcome of the investigation into the IDS affair, what is clear to me is that there is not much to be said for putting ones faith in "shadow plotters" to run the country when they do not even have the courage to come out in the open and be recognised in their to wrest power from IDS.
Nigel Clarke, UK

Why can't they stop bickering and get on with their elected job of being a proper opposition?
Richard, Singapore
If the Tory party wanted to show the electorate how irrelevant it is, it could not have picked a better fight at a better time. Why can't they stop bickering and get on with their elected job of being a proper opposition? There are more important issues going on than whether IDS' wife worked for 25 hours a week or not as his private secretary.
Richard, Singapore

If IDS goes, the Conservatives will have their fifth leader in little over a decade. Hardly reassuring from a party that promotes itself on being one of stability.
John Kirriemuir, Lochwinnoch, Scotland

By now even someone as thick skinned as IDS should have realised he has no chance of leading a united party. If this latest plot fails others will surely follow, he should stand down for the sake of unity before he takes the party to oblivion.
Michael, England

This sort of abuse of power was the hallmark of the Tories in the nineties and I see no reason to believe that the current party is any different. There was a very good reason for ousting the them six years ago and despite the problems in the current government, I am not about to give IDS the benefit of the doubt, just because it is trendy to bash Blair at the moment.
Tim Nicholson, England

Is this is the worse 'mud' they can throw at him. Unfortunately this is going to back fire and many MPs will probably stop employing relations, who often work longer hours than they are paid for.
Caron, England

I'm no fan of Blair but do we in this country want a PM who says he's going "to fix" critics?
Andy, UK
What Crick has revealed already is the fact that Duncan Smith doesn't seem able to handle stress. His performance of mock dancing tonight for example. I'm no fan of Blair but do we in this country want a PM who says he's going "to fix" critics?
Andy, UK

People are missing the point here. It's not the fact that IDS employed his wife - of course there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that he used public money to do so and whether she actually really did a job to earn the money.
Also, it strikes me as amazingly inept for someone in IDS's position not to think this would be an issue.
Ian Bartlett, UK

I wouldn't want a PM that has already broken Parliamentary Standards Commission rules, not a good start, what will he get up to in office? If it is time for a change then there should be a significant change not a carbon copy of the predecessor. Perhaps it's time the Liberals were given a chance.
seb Shiaramello, UK

There's no such thing as bad publicity
Graham, UK
If he deals with it well, it could be the best thing that ever happened to him. There's no such thing as bad publicity - at least he's in the news, though sadly his initial reactions do not bode well.
Graham, UK

Interesting table in the Daily Mail showing which MPs employ their family. Lots of Labour MPs on the list. It's not wrong and never has been, this is just spite.
Paul, UK

People giving their family members and friends jobs based on their relationship with them rather than their suitability for the job happens all the time in this country - especially in smaller towns and communities. However, I can understand why IDS might have done it - there's so much back-stabbing going on that besides himself, there's only really his own wife whom he can really trust.
LW, UK

Forgive me, but did not one of Blair's people have a similar issue recently? Swept away into the shadows as always! Personally, my partner is my stalwart. I rely on her to make sure I am in the right place at the right time. Nothing sexist in this, just that she is so much more organised than I. On a slight tangent, if more MP partners were to be involved in diary management, maybe we would see less sleaze. This should be encouraged, not attacked.
Bill, Limassol, Cyprus (ex UK)

Why do we have to have another inquiry? So many inquiries and so little action. How about doing something about it?
Gabriel Asseily, UK

Let us hope that it clears the air because if IDS is found to have acted improperly then I suspect that about half of all MPs could be under scrutiny regarding their staffing payment practices.
Keith, England

MPs are elected to represent us, let them get on with the job
C J Hendrick, UK
The Tories had their hour with the Cheriegate scandal, now it's Labour's turn to gloat. I fail to see why these 'issues' are relevant. Is our political future to be dictated by tabloid scandal? MPs are elected to represent us, let them get on with the job without sensationalising trivia. IDS' defence of his wife is admirable and he has gone up in my opinion. However, the only Tory I believe would make PM is Boris Johnson, he has the strength of character to succeed.
C J Hendrick, UK

This isn't a waste of time at all. It will determine whether IDS has acted in an improper way by having his wife paid out of public funds for doing not a lot to earn it. That's important. If he's found wanting, he could hardly hope to lead the country as PM, could he? Michael Crick's assertions appear to be reasonably well founded. They need to be investigated to establish the truth.
Randy, UK

We now have the two most senior government figures (the PM and the leader of the opposition) involved in inquiries into the running of their affairs. Whilst recognising that IDS may have done no wrong, it does nothing to inspire confidence in politicians. The British electorate has been fed a diet of 'sleaze' and 'accusations of sleaze' for the last 20 or so years. This constant diet has led to increased cynicism and pathetic voter turnouts. When or if IDS is cleared, the doubt in certain sections will remain. The old adage is mud sticks, and IDS may pay the price his party's recent record of sleaze.
Martyn Howie, Scotland

It strikes me that the latest allegations are contrived
Graeme Dobie, Scotland

I'm neither a Labour nor Tory supporter, and it strikes me that the latest allegations are contrived, or at least blown somewhat out of proportion. Irrespective of the legality of the situation, it is obvious that IDS is 'damaged goods' and doesn't have the political 'clout' to see off such accusations. It's only a question of time before he goes. What is rather more worrying is that with the Tory party in the state it's in at the moment, it's unlikely to elect anyone who will fare much better.
Graeme Dobie, Scotland

This issue will buy IDS some time. It is unlikely that there will be a leadership challenge before this matter is cleared up. The allegations seem pretty tame and won't harm IDS in the long run. However, once it is all over the knives will still be out for him.
Peter M, UK

What difference does this make? At least he knows he can trust his wife not to leak everything to the opposition or the media. That's why they employ family members in the first place. Plus they don't have to pay them as much.
Rick, UK

The only thing that will clear the air is a full clear out of the corrupt and in-bred way in which parliament operates. Like the Royal family, all the political parties act in ways that no council or company would be legally allowed.
Alastair, UK

I'd rather trust my partner than a complete stranger
Melissa, UK
Can't believe what a waste of time and money this is. Most MPs have needed the support of their partners over the years - he is not the only MP whose partner has been paid to do this. What is the problem? I'd rather trust my partner than a complete stranger anyway. It's all in the past now - let's move on shall we?
Melissa, UK

While I am by no means a Tory supporter, I am somewhat suspicious about the timing of these revelations so close to the party conference. I hope that the inquiry does resolve the issue either way.
Roger, UK

Do you think IDS would be so stupid to bend the rules? After the sleaze of the previous Tory administration? No way. This is media manipulation plain and simple. I do not like IDS but put such gross stupidity way beyond his faults.
Toby, Spain

MPs of all parties have "employed" their wives for decades. It is common practice and unworthy of the prominence the media give it. Regardless of one's political views it must surely be distasteful to attack an individual through his family, in this case a wife who has clearly avoided the public eye as much as possible.
James, UK

It's about time Parliament was dragged into the 21st Century
Markham, England
Why do MPs still insist on employing spouses, relatives and significant others on Parliamentary duties? It's about time Parliament was dragged into the 21st Century and MPs were given administrative and research help commensurate with the job they have to do. If that means halving the number of MPs and reallocating the monies saved so be it. MPs should be professionals not amateurs doing the job "part time"
Markham, England

No it won't clear the air but it will clear the way for Tony Blair's third term.
Phillip Holley, UK, London

What a storm in a teacup! Let's get the priorities right. Most male MPs probably employ their wives on a similar basis, and frankly I don't care very much if IDS ends up being slapped on the wrist for a minor misdemeanour. However, I do care very much that a man so plainly weak, incompetent and lacking in any statesmanlike qualities could, under somewhat extreme circumstances, become British Prime Minister.
Andy Millward, UK

The crisis within the Tories is that they have a weak leader and no clear direction
Mike Smith, UK
This whole affair was as predictable as tomorrow's sunrise. Following IDS' wooden and embarrassing performance at the Tory party conference, it's pretty clear that some people within the party are trying to get rid of him before he costs them the next election. The crisis within the Tories is that they have a weak leader and no clear direction. I'm a lifelong Conservative, and I'm praying for IDS to go before he's pushed, as I believe that the only credible potential leader is Ken Clarke.
Mike Smith, UK

This is just another case of politicians using public money to provide themselves with the kind of lifestyle they think they should be having. Why are things so hidden in politics? If Mrs Duncan-Smith was being paid to work for her husband, surely this should have been declared to constituents up front.
Kay Bruinster, Scotland

It is fairly evident that he does not have the support of his party, let alone the voters, otherwise this issue would not have been raised in the first place. Once the leader of a political group is made a target by his own party it is self-evident that they are looking to replace him. This issue will only be resolved once he is ousted and Portillo is made Conservative leader.
Jamie, Cyprus

He's a decent man wholly unsuited to the task of leading the Tory party
ML, England
Rather than using secretarial allowances for employing people unconnected to them, MPs have been applying secretarial allowances for decades to 'employing' their own wives so that the money stays with them. It's an old trick used by countless MPs. IDS is not the first to do this. He's a decent man wholly unsuited to the task of leading the Tory party let alone winning the next election against the slick yet insincere Tony Blair. However, hounding him out like this is not the way to oust him. Why can't the plotters stab him in the chest rather than the back?
ML, England

Another attempt by the UK/US corporate takeover gang to deflect attention from the real issue: the illegal war in Iraq and the ignoring of public opinion. There is a cross-weave of right-wing extreme capitalist infiltrators in BOTH parties who are attacking British democracy. IDS is too inexperienced and honest to survive this kind of battering. Why not an inquiry into the war? PS, I am not a Conservative Party supporter. Nor am I a Labour Party or Lib Dem supporter. I am politically independent.
Sally Hine, Spain

This is quite clearly a smear campaign by the Labour government and one which completely smacks of hypocrisy. Quite possibly there's an element of truth in the favouritism IDS has shown towards his wife but surely this is nothing compared to Tony Blair introducing the appalling Human Rights Bill which he must have known would provide his wife with lucrative work as a specialist in this area!!
J, England

This will just delay the inevitable for IDS. The hawks will move regardless. Even if he comes out clear (as no doubt he will) this will just add to the calls for his head.
Andrew Morrow, UK




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific