- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SOCIAL JUSTICE

When Iain Duncan Smith talks to a conservative audience about “social justice,” he says he can see their “eyes roll.”

“What is this rubbish?” he asked, posing the question that some conservatives at the Heritage Foundation were probably thinking Monday, as they listened to the former chairman of Britain’s Conservative Party.

“Social justice is an abomination to most conservatives,” said Mr. Duncan Smith, now chairman of an independent think tank, the Center for Social Justice, in London.

Conservatives consider social justice as left-wing buzzwords for more spending on poverty programs that fail, for redistributing wealth for socialist goals or for excusing illegal conduct in pursuit of the “root causes” of crime.



However, for Mr. Duncan Smith, social justice is one of the keys for a conservative revival in Britain. He sees social justice as a way to encourage personal responsibility, mend broken families or battle drug addition and alcoholism.

“We abandoned social justice to the left, and they’ve ripped the hell out of my country,” Mr. Duncan Smith said.

Along with a conservative approach to social justice, he said conventional issues such as lower taxes and effective government spending have poised the Conservative Party to retake power at the next parliamentary election, due by June 2010.

“The prospects of a Conservative government grows by the day,” he said, citing public opinion polls that favor the party, nicknamed the “Tories,” by 12 percent to 20 percent.

“We will take over the leadership of a country facing not only economic crisis but also a civic breakdown of fundamental British society.”

The Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is facing its worst approval ratings since taking power under the charismatic Tony Blair in 1997. Once more popular in Britain than President Obama in the United States, Mr. Blair saw his fortunes decline until he resigned the prime ministership in June, 2007.

The Conservative Party, meanwhile, spiraled downward until the public grew tired of the Labor government.

“We were out of power in almost every part of the country,” Mr. Duncan Smith said of the election of 1997.

His own term as party leader from 2001 to 2003 proved tumultuous, ending in a vote of no confidence that removed him from office. David Cameron won the leadership in 2005.

Mr. Duncan Smith urged the U.S. Republican Party to be cautious as it tries to repackage its message to regain the White House and Congress.

“We needed to broaden our approach,” he said, “rather that transform ourselves beyond recognition.”

‘PLOTS’ IN BOLIVIA

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday announced the expulsion of another U.S. official, only a month after claiming he wanted better relations with President Obama.

Mr. Morales accused Francisco Martinez, a political officer and career diplomat, of plotting with a Bolivian police officer who Mr. Morales said was working with the CIA to undermine his government.

In September, Mr. Morales expelled Ambassador Philip Goldberg after claiming the U.S. envoy was conspiring with the political opposition in the South American nation. The United States responded by ordering Bolivian Ambassador Mario Gustavo Guzman to leave the country.

TIME CHANGE

Hungarian Defense Minister Imre Szekeres will hold a 5 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

The press conference originally was scheduled at 4 p.m.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.

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