IAIN Duncan Smith should stop worrying about making the right political appointments to his staff and instead get someone who knows something about football and the geography of the North East of England. It is hard to think of a worse gaffe than his remarks yesterday congratulating Bobby Robson and Newcastle United for their success in the Champions League while speaking at a factory in Sunderland. Given what football means to the North East, and Sunderland's present parlous state, it was almost as bad an error as Governor Jeb Bush's unfortunate political faux pas in Madrid the other day. And look at the language: ...congratulations for their excellent result I understand they had on Tuesday. I understand they had. Didn't he know for himself, or bother to find out? Not a good day for Mr Smith. He started it with an interview on BBC radio's Today programme in which he countered questions about the future direction of the Conservative Party by keeping up a rumbling chuckle presumably intended to indicate how risible he found the questions. But, as an indication of what Mr Smith stands for, the firing of two senior Conservative Central Office officials known as modernisers and the appoinment in their place as chief executive of Barry Legg. a former rightwing MP with strongly sceptical views on the European Union, must be considered a matter of interest. As for policy, all we heard was that Mr Smith wants to improve the public services while keeping down taxes.
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