Iain Duncan Smith, in classier times. Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images
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What's this? Is Iain Duncan Smith visibly excited by prospect of hurting the poor?

The work and pensions secretary cheered on the new "living" wage, which turns out to be nothing of the sort.

What was the most galling part of the budget?

Cutting housing benefit for 18-21 year olds? Turning the university maintenance grant into a loan? Tax credit cuts that make sure children are suitably punished if their parents have large, low-income families? The complete absence of any climate change or green issues? 

All good contenders, but this mole reckons this is the clear winner:

That's right - it's Iain Duncan Smith, cheering as George Osborne introduces what was disingenuously termed a "living" wage despite being quite clearly nothing of the sort. Oh, and by the way, you won't get it if you're under 25. If you're under 25, your parents should be able to sort you out.

Some might suggest it's a bit gauche to act like you're in a football terrace as your party introduces a series of measures which bring suffering to vulnerable young people, but let us all take comfort. While working class teenagers - and disabled people, and low-income workers - across the country sit wondering how they're going to deal with this, at least one Conservative politician is very, very happy.

I'm a mole, innit.

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Zac Goldsmith to quit as Tory MP after Heathrow decision announced

The environmentalist is expected to stand as an independent candidate.

Zac Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and a committed environmentalist, has announced his resignation after the government backed a third runway at Heathrow. 

He has told his local Conservative association of the decision, according to The Huffington Post. The group has reportedly agreed to back him as an independent in a by-election.

Goldsmith tweeted: "Following the Government's catastrophic Heathrow announcement, I will be meeting my constituents later today before making a statement."

Goldsmith had previously pledged to resign if the government went ahead with the decision. By quitting, he will trigger a by-election, in which he is expected to stand as an independent candidate. 

Speaking in the Commons, he said the project was "doomed" and would be a "millstone" around the government's neck. He said: "The complexities, the cost, the legal complications mean this project is almost certainly not going to be delivered."


However, there is no guarantee it is a by-election he will win. Here's Stephen Bush on why a Richmond Park and Kingston by-election could be good news for the Lib Dems.

After years of speculation, the government announced on Tuesday it was plumping for Heathrow instead of Gatwick. Transport secretary Chris Grayling called it a "momentous" decision.

The announcement will please business groups, but anger environmentalists, and MPs representing west London constituencies already affected by the noise pollution. 

In a recent post on his constituency website, Goldsmith highlighted the noise levels, the risk of flying so many planes over densely-populated areas, and the political fallout. He declared: "I promised voters I would step down and hold a by-election if Heathrow gets the go-ahead and I will stand by that pledge."

Once a Tory "nice boy" pin up, Goldsmith's reputation has suffered in the past year due to his campaigning tactics when he ran against Sadiq Khan for London mayor. Advised by strategist Lynton Crosby, Goldsmith tried to play on racial divisions and accused Khan of links to extremists. Despite enjoying support from London's Evening Standard, he lost.

The former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, once declared he would lie down "in front of those bulldozers" but has toned down his objections since becoming foreign secretary.

Green MP Caroline Lucas urged him to follow Goldsmith and resign, so he could team up with her in opposing the extension at Heathrow.

Labour, in contrast, has welcomed the decision. The shadow Transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “We welcome any decision that will finally give certainty on airport expansion, much needed in terms of investment and growth in our country." He urged the government to provide more detail on the proposals.

But London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan accused the government of "running roughshod" over Londoners' views. He said: "Heathrow expansion is the wrong decision for London, and the wrong decision for the whole of Britain."

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.