IDS: "You can't just arrest your way out of this"

The Welfare Secretary distances himself from Downing Street's "zero tolerance" message.

Iain Duncan Smith, the welfare secretary, has intervened in the row over the riots. In a sharp divergence from the "zero tolerance" message forwarded by Number 10, he said support for young people who want to leave gangs was just as important as tough sanctions for those who chose a life of crime.

Let's compare and contrast. Here's what David Cameron said on sentencing after the riots, in his speech in Witney on Monday:

Last week we saw the criminal justice system deal with an unprecedented challenge: the courts sat through the night and dispensed swift, firm justice. We saw that the system was on the side of the law-abiding majority.

And here is what Duncan Smith says in the Guardian today:

As senior police officers on both sides of the Atlantic have said, you can't just arrest your way out of this problem.

Duncan Smith's comments follow increasing disquiet from Liberal Democrats about the Tory reaction to the riots, which includes the suggestion that rioters be evicted from council houses or deprived of benefits. The question of proportionality of sentencing has not only caused friction within the coalition, but has also attracted criticism from legal professionals.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.