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What would Tories cut?

Nick Robinson | 17:18 UK time, Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Tories boast that they're being honest about the need for spending cuts but are they being honest about what they'll cut and what the impact will be?

That's a question I've been pursuing in an interview with the shadow chancellor George Osborne.

He claims that the prime minister is denying him the information he needs to decide where the axe should fall. A request for access to the detailed spending information available to ministers has been turned down.

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The Tories wanted to see the COINS database - that stands for Combined Online Information System - which contains information about what's been spent in over 12,000 category headings.

Mr Osborne tells me that:

"Gordon Brown is denying to the opposition the information on individual spending items in the government Budget that would help us plan for government, help us plan for dealing with the debt crisis. He has denied us access to that information. That makes our life as an opposition more difficult, but more to the point for the country, it means the country doesn't know the truth about where their money is going."

Neverthless he promises that the Tories will in future "provide more and more details and examples of specific schemes" they'll cut.

The shadow chancellor also makes clear that the Tories are not committed to protecting spending on schools or the Sure Start programme. Earlier, the shadow schools secretary, Michael Gove, insisted that the Tories would protect what he called "front line spending" on schools.

Pressed on why the country should trust him - a young and privileged man - with this task, the shadow chancellor replies:

"We're going to protect the poorest, we're going to protect the vulnerable, but we're going to deal with the debt crisis because, let me say this, I've got young children, many people watching this programme have got young children, and it is not fair to leave them with our debt. We have to deal with the situation now and not leave the problem to another generation."

PS. For those who want the full quote on spending priorities:

Osborne: "We've taken a tough decision, which is to protect health spending - I could have put health spending into the pot - I'm also protecting international development spending because we've made some moral commitments to the rest of the world. That means..."

Robinson: Are you protecting schools?

Osborne: "I'm not protecting other areas at this stage."

Robinson: Are you protecting Sure Start?

Osborne: "I'm not protecting other areas. I'm not going to go into specific details of individual programs but I've made a positive decision and this is part of the choice that David Cameron and the modern Conservatives have made to protect health spending, to protect international development spending because we think those are important commitments for the kind of society we want (interruption)."

Update, 18:35: The Cabinet Office insist that the decision not to give the Tories the spending information they requested was taken by the cabinet secretary and not ministers after normal pre-election contacts between civil servants and opposition leaders.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Nick, another u turn today from the government this time on ID cards.

    Is this just a softening up for the announcement that we can't afford ID cards like the Liberals and Conservatives have said all along?

    If we knew how much the government have allocated to ID cards then maybe George Osborne could give you an informed answer to your questions.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well, I expect we are going to see a lot of trolls write down, in a predictable mantra, nurses, doctors, teachers, firemen, policemen. To those trolls I say, go on, get it out of your system and post what you have been told to as soon as possible. Then we can have a sensible debate afterwards.

  • Comment number 3.

    You seem to expect Osborne to make half-cock commitments when he hasn't been given the information with which to work out the details. Why is your post more adversely judgemental against Osborne for not giving details than it is about Brown/Labour for denying him the information?

    Have you asked the government to comment about the denial of the information? And have you got your supplementary lined up to deal with the answer "we are only following normal procedure"?

  • Comment number 4.

    Interesting headline, anyone would think it was trying to distract from the very disturbing news that G Brown is denying Her Majesty's Opposition the information to which they are entitled.

    Alongside the news that:

    - In breach of protocol, G Brown and his Balls turned up for a photocall at a school without informing either the local MP or Council and attempted to prevent them being there once they did find out. http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2009/06/how-not-to-be-prime-ministerial-on-a-pm-visit.html

    - Ed Balls ringing up a journalist and demanding that he remove a piece that accurately describes his falseheads in presenting the growth in UK debt. http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3725688/talking-balls.thtml

    It does make you wonder exactly what country Brown and co think they live in. I don't use the word govern deliberately as that would imply some sense of competence which is totally unwarranted.

  • Comment number 5.

    Seeing as the mendacious Brown refuses to let the Opposition look at the books, and seeing as how Darling's budget forecast of a 1.6% fall in GDP for the first quarter was totally inaccurate, when in reality it fell by 2.4%, thus making even Darling's pie in the sky predictions for growth coming out of recession totally irrelevant, how can anybody expect details from any opposition party at this time?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Come on Nick. Why focus on the Tories? Even if the electorate are daft enough to re-elect Labour, cuts are coming anyway. The difference between the parties is that Labour refuse to tell the truth about this.

    Thanks to Brown's utter fiscal recklessness since 2001, we are facing a huge, economically-threatening deficit. Spending will HAVE TO BE cut, by ANY party, not just the Tories, after the next election.

    Or maybe you think that Labour, if re-elected, would carry on spending at current levels? If so, please tell us, because, unless we cut public spending, the UK is heading for bankruptcy.

  • Comment number 8.

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  • Comment number 9.

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  • Comment number 10.

    Rather rediculous to ask what the Tories would cut. They still have almost a year to try and work out what the reality of government finances are before being obliged to make sensible suggestions.

    Brown and Co say that the various "new spends" announced to Build Britain's Future are actually monies to be switched from existing unused or uncommitted budgets across the departments.

    It suggests that there is a lot of cash allocated, but never really ear-marked for a specific purpose. Far as I can see, that would mean many Billions could be cut from government spend without making any real impact. Add that to some quite wasteful initiatives and before you know it, you could reduce taxes - or borrowing by 5 percent without really noticing...

  • Comment number 11.

    I really hope this is the start of some sense.
    We are spending way more than we earn, we can't borrow indefinitely and even if we could borrowing itself costs money. Therefore we have to make some hard cuts. Yes these will have negative impacts on lots of people, but until we can pay off our debt and increase our productivity that is the way it has to be.
    Brown is saying "There is no impending debt disaster and we can keep spending."
    The Tories might finally be saying "We've spent too much and now we have to cut back."
    Roll on the general election, because like most people I know it is time to take the bitter pill...

  • Comment number 12.

    Hopefully Osbourne will have a rethink on this. I for one dont want to see a single penny spent on international development, we are on the way to becoming a 3rd world country and the idiot is worrying about moral commitments made by the government who are bankrupting the country.

  • Comment number 13.

    So there we have it.

    Labour knows where the skeletons are hidden and won't tell the Conservatives which allows Brown to lie to the public.

    The Conservatives don't have the information, want to make it public, and are pilloried by Mr Robinson.

    Really balanced I would say Nick. Why not make it balanced piece by asking Labour why they won't give the information.

    This stinks. Things are much worse than we think and Labour are to blame.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Tories could start by cutting out 'waste' in government and there is plenty of that with the present administration.

    International development would be a good one to cut - otherwise known as 'empire building' by sending/gifting millions of pounds overseas to people who hate 'us'.

    Subsidising Scotland, Wales and Ireland should be cut - let them sort themselves out.

    The Tories need to start talking about Labour's 'double whammy' - tax and spend - if labour are not going to effect comprehensive cuts in public expenditure to balance the books then there is a tax bombshell looming for 2011 and thereafter. This sent Kinnock and the loonies packing in the 1990's and the labour urge to PAYE tax ordinary people until they bleed, is still there, as a psychological defect.

    The government needs to delay population growth and cut costs - Gordon Brown said in Parliament that each resettled Gurkha would cost the UK taxpayer around £50,000 if you can make any sense of what he said and the total bill would be £1.5 Billion. So cutting out mass immigration on four or five million 'immigrants' would eliminate the national debt according to Gordon Brown's own figures.

  • Comment number 15.

    1. At 5:36pm on 30 Jun 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:
    Nick, another u turn today from the government this time on ID cards.

    Is this just a softening up for the announcement that we can't afford ID cards like the Liberals and Conservatives have said all along?

    If we knew how much the government have allocated to ID cards then maybe George Osborne could give you an informed answer to your questions
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Actually if you read the story, it is only a uturn on making it compulsory for airport staff... there is no indication that the whole thing has been scrapped. Infact one of the comments in the article is that ID cards are still being pushed ahead by Labour

  • Comment number 16.

    Sounds honest to me. Health and international development are protected, everything else is fair game. What else can you ask for this far ahead of an election? Better than Brown who flatly denies any government cuts.

  • Comment number 17.

    The point is how can the Tories say what they will do if their requests for information is being blocked by the current government

  • Comment number 18.

    "Pressed on why the country should trust him - a young and privileged man - with this task, the shadow chancellor replies"

    Nick most of the Labour government are what can be only described as privileged in backroundw and education... Where did Harriet Harmen go to school nick and what family backround does she have

  • Comment number 19.

    Still doing your damnedest to get that word "cuts" next to the word "Tories" aren't you Nick ;)

    It's hardly as if it's news to anyone who reads these blogs that it's impossible to develop specific details of economic policy without knowledge of the full facts concerning the nation's finances first.

    The first priority should always be that we hold the people who do have this knowledge to account, to ensure that they do their job properly. More of this instead, please Nick.

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

    It seems ridiculous to ask anyone to project any figures at all if the government continue to hide or camouflage the facts.

    Can anyone know apart from the treasury the shortfall in payments to HM Customs & Excise and the Revenue. The tax refunds having to be paid out to loss making companies certainly won't help. After all if there is not sufficient coming in to pay existing commitments how many departments will the government raid before we all get the message. It won't be just 10% cuts it will be a case of what can we afford to keep.

    The 2007 spending review certainly didn't project billions of pounds to be paid in interest for the massive borrowing this government has committed the taxpayer to.

    There seems to be no reliable figures coming out of anywhere judging by the constant revisions from one month to the next which have all been worryingly downward.

    Conservatives or any other party for that matter can only project on figures made available to them.

    The real pressure should be put on Brown to produce the real figures before an emergency budget is forced upon him.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Pressed on why the country should trust him..."

    Nick it seems you like to press the opposition but prefer to fondle the government.....

    The poor guy can't commit to anything because the powers that be are denying him information. Will you please massage them vigorously for a reply?

  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

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  • Comment number 25.

    Nick

    Please could you interview Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling and ask them whether they will make cuts in public spending in real terms. Simple question needing a simple answer. The Tories have said they will. I need to know so that I know who to vote for at the next election.

    Put simply, who will manage the economy effectively? Who will make tough decisions needed to restore public finances? Will the NHS be a priority?

    If I am in debt or have a reduced income I must take action to ensure my personal solvency. I need a government who will do the same for the sake of my family.

    PS - Have a word with Stephanie Flanders - she might be able to explain about the economy etc if you are struggling.

  • Comment number 26.

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  • Comment number 27.

    Oddly, up till now, I had never really agreed with those who accused Nick of blatant NuLab bias- it seemed more as if they wished him to join in with a bit of Brown-lambasting, and he was being more cautious.
    But this contribution is, I'm afraid something of a disgrace.
    We have a Government who are so ready to use any underhand tactics to misrepresent the Opposition's plans that the Tories are wisely being coy about what they will inevitably have to do; and even then, they cannot plan properly until their horrified gaze falls upon the true state of the Great Chancellor's economic legacy.

  • Comment number 28.

    Frankly, it's impossible for the Tories to say which government expenditure is going under the knife and which is protected in anything but the most general terms, simply because it could be anything up to 11 months before the next election and the government finances could be totally different (i.e. worse) than now.

    No politician in his right mind ties his hands a year before the electorate are expected to vote. Mr Osborne is doing very well to ring fence Health and Foreign Aid at this point. Health, especially, is comforting because it puts to bed any notion that Labour historically tried to use, that the Tories are anti-NHS. As we all know, Mr Cameron is a big fan.

    Expect from Labour, though, plenty more Tory cuts jibes and plenty more outright lies from people such as Balls who pretend that everything in the economic garden is all roses and who hope that the electorate won't see through Labour's sham.

    http://cogitodexter.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/breathtaking-lies-from-balls/

    The Tories are doing excellently in making cautious and sober promises. Labour are spinning every which-way and promising the earth knowing they won't be around to either deliver or be held to task.

  • Comment number 29.

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  • Comment number 30.

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  • Comment number 31.

    Such Paranoia! I see many non-Labourites here are concentrating more on Nick Robinson rather than the matter in hand. Then again, that's what the conservatives do best- not bothering about the details but worrying about personality.

    Anyway, back onto the subject. Osbourne's being a bit vague. Labour's practically released their manifesto, so why can't the Tories do the same? Do they have a full plan, or are they just trying to kick up a fuss again?

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick,
    On reflection, do you really feel your latest blog is fair ? Given that Labour is in governemnt, Labour has access to all the books and Labour has just published it's policy "visions", shouldn't you be pressing the government about what they would cut from their stated plans ?

  • Comment number 33.

    "Update, 18:35:

    The Cabinet Office insist that the decision not to give the Tories the spending information they requested was taken by the Cabinet Secretary and not ministers after normal pre-election contacts between civil servants and opposition leaders.

    Right. So now ask the government for a comment on the Cabinet Secretary's decision, and for confirmation that no member of the government has communicated with him about it at any time before it was announced. And ask Osborne whether he has any more information to give about who notified the decision to him, and what reasoning, if any, was given for it.

    You might also ask a Labour spokesman if his party thinks it reasonable to keep bombarding the Conservatives with requests for details of their spending plans, when the information needed to make these plans has been denied to them by the civil service, apparently.

  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    One might speculate that the Cabinet Secretary will not hold that position once the Tories sweep into power. His recent decision on COINS neatly illustrates how remote from reality the mechanics of central government are, especially the 'mandarins' of Whitehall.

    While I can appreciate that an Opposition must be tested to see if they have the goods to run the country, with few exceptions the quality of questioning on future economic recovery, especially on taxes and public spending, seems to be much more laissez faire when interviewing ministers and more combative when demanding the impossible from shadow ministers.

    Taxes, public spending, and the future for our next generations are weighty matters. In trying to get to the truth of how each political party will tackle these difficult matters it does seem that the BBC, our public broadcaster, should demand the very best from its political journalists at all times, on air and blogging.

    Cameron and Osborne are being scrupulous in not putting forward policy that they cannot know if it can be implemented. The scale of government borrowing is so serious that we deserve to have the COINS information available to all. What is there to hide? Can it possibly be worse than MPs expenses?

    If the BBC focussed on what could possibly be in COINS that would have to be redacted before it could be made public then the voters could see for themselves which political party offered the best way forward in dealing with economic recovery.

  • Comment number 36.

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  • Comment number 37.

    "Subsidising Scotland, Wales and Ireland should be cut - let them sort themselves out."

    Except Scotland isnt subsidised

    http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.2515217.0.North_Sea_oil_revenue_would_see_Scotland_in_the_black.php

    While Scotland gets more from London that it would if there was no Oil it gets less than it would if it got to keep all the Oil revenues in its boundries.

    Also London does better than anywhere else in the UK and its taxed raised were mainly from the banks and finacial sector - you can guarentee the rest of us are propely subsidising the Captial now the bank revenue isnt coming in!!

    As a Scot im happy in the Union but want big changes to the whole setup - what im less than happy with is this continual peddaling of these complete myths.

    Something I will say is we are wasting the extra money we do get - we have a large public sector that is bloated and inefficient - but for some reason politicians of any party dont want to tackle it.

  • Comment number 38.

    oh nick you are blaming the tories for not telling you what they would cut when the headline should be "government refuses to give information to opposition"..... Of course they want to keep it a secret, they know the figures are even worse than we think...... i see GDP was adjusted to the worst decline in fifty years...luckily Alistair Darling said the recovery will start in the second half of 2009..well Alistair that is tomorrow, seen any green shoots to write about Nick...?

  • Comment number 39.

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  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

    Mr Ten Percent is going to make huge and massive cuts and they dont care about the people of this country...onlt about the few familes on inhertance tax....which teacher, policeman, doctor and mmemeber of the military are they going to sack...im tired of the same old toy rubbish...I don't trust no tory on public spending...they have'nt changed

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick dearest

    Why not pursue the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families with a line of questioning based on this article?

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3725688/talking-balls.thtml



  • Comment number 43.

    Nick,
    the questions you should be asking is-
    A) Why are the Goverment not allowing access to their spending details?
    B)How are the present Goverment going to pay for all these massive spending plans?

    Believe it or not there are some people who actually want to see public spending bought under control, we pay nearly the highest in taxes in europe as it is. With your lavish BBC pension and expenses you do not have to worry so much about the tax bomb heading this way, but the ordinary working man like myself, earning less than 20K a year would like to decide how I spend my money, rather than handing over more and more in tax to be squandered on the irresponsible.
    I am sorry Nick but like Brown you also seem detatched from reality. Start asking Brown some serious queations please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 44.

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  • Comment number 45.

    Ed Balls has just said on C4 news "we're able to allocate extra funds as the economy has turned out better than expected".

    Yet again, a blatant lie to add to Brown's lies on spending. Nick, there is a year to the election - no opposition party would have finalised their plans this far out. Instead of questioning the honesty of George Osbourne to deliver yet unannounced policies a year from now, why are you not challenging the PM and the cabinet on the ever increasing misinformation and lies they are feeding to the public.

  • Comment number 46.

    oh dear Nick , your cover is well and truely blown

  • Comment number 47.

    Maybe Mr Robinson , you could get our , or your esteemed leader to tell everyone just exactly how much cash will have to be cut from public spending to keep the country from begging for help from the IMF, then you can ask the Tories how they would solve the problem. In the meantime perhaps you could refrain from taking government propaganda and spin as bearing any semblence of truth. If as an unbiased political correspondent you were to ask the government which services they are going to cut (which they are ) then a bit of integrity might return to your reports. Sadly this seems to be a forlorn hope, I fear that the once proud tradition of BBC impartiallity has sadly been lost somewhere along the way, or perhaps like the old Soviet Union so beloved of the Labour party the media (in the BBC's case ) is no longer free.

  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 54.

    Nick,

    You can't have it both ways you cad you!

    If the government won't release the figures or give a clear picture of the dreadful state of the books how can he possibly tell you what you are asking him to give you commitments to?

    This is Punch and Judy journalism and a sign of how rotten the Labour spin machine has made this country. Even you Nick - and frankly I did think higher of you - are claiming inpropriety when to fair to Osbourne he is unable to answer.

    How about you pop and see Gordon and ask about the U turn on the ID cards? Or the review of our economy that we are going to have to wait to find out on?

    Oh poor Britain - how Great they once called us!

  • Comment number 55.

    41. At 7:19pm on 30 Jun 2009, davidou1234 wrote:
    Mr Ten Percent is going to make huge and massive cuts and they dont care about the people of this country...onlt about the few familes on inhertance tax....which teacher, policeman, doctor and mmemeber of the military are they going to sack...

    ===

    None. Is that clear enough for you?

    ===

    im tired of the same old toy rubbish...I don't trust no tory on public spending...they have'nt changed

    ===

    Don't trust no tory, a double negative there David, I really hope you don't teach English!

  • Comment number 56.

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  • Comment number 57.

    Cuts need to be made - without that or huge tax increases driving the economy into further decline, the county will go bankrupt.

    Of course information is being kept hidden as long as possible; it means other people can't prove the detail of how big a mess the economy is in and how hopelessly the economy has been managed, living beyond our means and financing excessive promises on the never never.

    We certainly need an end to generous public sector pensions, a debt that is continually hidden and means with wages now being comparable, in general, the total package received by staff in the public sector exceeds the going rate.

    We've been engaged in a sustained period of short-termist economic lunacy for a considerable time, borrowing in the good times to keep interest groups happy rather than to invest in projects with an economic payback encouraging real growth.
    Window dressing, spending money we don't have and relying on debt, encouraging a superficial consumer culture where everybody believes they deserve luxuries and few believe they have to earn them first.

    A social and economic mess that will take much longer than the next parliament to resolve, that is the legacy of Nu Labour.

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  • Comment number 61.

    I agree with some of the sentiments already made. At least the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have stated the bleeding obvious -that the next government will have to raise taxes and severely cut expenditure.

    The searching questions should be directed to the Government. Until they tell us where they will reign in spending or increase taxes I don't think that the opposition need to say too much. It is quite clear from recent comments by individuals that the Cabinet is in a real mess on this matter.

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  • Comment number 64.

    The usual cyber-tory bile response to Nick's Blog. Everyone knows that Cameron and his sidekick Osborne have simply no intention of coming clean over the scale and scope of their cuts. Both don't want to frighten the voting public into running away.

    Cameron will revert to type and follow the fiscal policy of his heroine Margaret Thatcher (He of the "Thank God for Margaret Thatcher!" quote a few months ago) Education, training and local services will be the obvious targets- so woe betide anyone with children aged 4-18 and/ or elderly relatives needing social care.

    The data Osborne bleats about not having access to is not routinely given to the opposition- and this was the same scenario under the last Tory regime. Neither he or his boss have a political scruple in their bodies and won't make a comittment to what they stand for (does anyone know this?)

    I have never been a supporter of Tony Blair and GB isn't a very good PM, but the alternative snake oil salesmen make me feel distinctly nauseous.

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  • Comment number 68.

    Dear Mr Robinson

    What exactly was the point of using the ad hominem "a young and privileged man" when referring to wee George? I don't recall you dropping Brown or Balls or Darling into the British class structure in any of your previous blogs (please correct me if I'm wrong). Perhaps you should use "Brown, an old and presbyterian man", or "Balls, a middle-aged bloke with a chip on his shoulder", or "Darling, an old and privileged man"?

    Right now, it is indisputable that Gordon Brown, Ed Balls and others are lying to the British public; just lying; there's no other word for it. I fail to understand why you should focus on Conservative requests for information and their, perhaps, understandable lack of detailed budgeting plans at the moment whilst the public finances are in unmitigated chaos?

    See you down the pub

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  • Comment number 70.

    #14 nautonier

    "Subsidising Scotland, Wales and Ireland should be cut - let them sort themselves out."

    Translating that into meaningful language, you are advocating fiscal autonomy for England, Scotland, Wales, and (I presume you mean Northern) Ireland - sloppy language is seldom productive.

    According to the recent BBC poll more than 60% of Scots would agree with you, and I am one of them.

  • Comment number 71.

    "They might be right if Robinson's General Election performance is anything to go by. The tenacious journalist grilled the Prime Minister over a Labour poster on Conservative tax policy and even had the pleasure of being called a "-ing pillock" by John Prescott.

    Robinson has already ruffled a few feathers in Downing Street, a legacy that is likely to continue at the BBC."
    Daily Mail July 2005

    =

    Was this another Nick Robinson? Or the same bloke who writes these blogs?

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  • Comment number 74.

    Comment 48 : Sagamix

    "hi Nick,

    Personally, I have no problem with you describing the Shadow Chance as a "young privileged man" ... he is each of those 3 things, after all ... but maybe you should pick your words a little more carefully in future, given the level of Clownly upset that sort of language seems to stir up - doesn't help subsequent debate - so less of it from now on, if you don't mind - let's try and stick to the tried and tested ... and I think now (pretty much) generally accepted term ... VACUOUS POSHBOY!"


    You and your fellow Labour troll General Fondue don't seem to agree about how relevant ad hominem attacks are to political discussion. The good General sems to think that there are too many people attacking Nick Robinson personally instead of addressing the issues he has raised, yet here are you failing to address any of the issues George Osborne has raised and launching an ad hominem attack on him.

    You'll have to excuse me, but my education only goes as far as to say that if you express disagreement with something, that is the position you have taken. And if you subsequently decide to change your opinion then this change of opinion also applies to the first case when you took the alternate view.

    So what do you Labourites think about ad hominem attacks? Do they add to political debate? Are you happy for your opponents to use them if you decide to?

    In fact, do you believe in single standards at all?

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  • Comment number 77.

    As usual you are very keen to hold the Tories to account for their spending plans, yet you will accept the Government announcements of "no cuts" without question?

    The BBC's attitude to political "balance" is an odd one.

    Without access to the books and no honest estimate of our final total borrowing, how can anyone say what the extent or areas of reduced expenditure will need to be?

    Good luck with your attempts to spread the blame for the mismanagement and spin of the last 12 years.

  • Comment number 78.

    "Are the Tories being honest about cuts?"

    Dare I presume you're only asking that question about the Tories because the only response to asking it about Labour would be a loud snort and disbelieving laughter?

    (Oh, and Nick, try and get On Message. Governments don't "cut" these days, they merely "reprioritise" them...)

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    The conservatives have stated that spending cuts will be needed, but it's only Brown's government that will not tell the truth. In fact we all know that cuts are needed urgently. Why does the government persist with their lies.
    The conservatives have every right, as do the electorate, to know the financial state of the country. How else can a full assessment be made.
    We now see labour ministers begin to jockey for Brown's job. Ed Balls is trying to look good by this sudden £400,000,000 spend while Alan Johnson is scrapping compulsary i.d. cards. Balls has made himself look ridiculous, would you spend that amount at this time with the countries finances in such a state. NO YOU WOULD NOT!!
    What an utter farce this labour government has made of running the country.
    What price the integrity of labour MPs who back Brown.Shame on you all.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    Trouble is it's like saying Nick has ten grand in his piggy bank, bills need to be paid essential items to be had, now then how are we going to tell him what to pay and what to spend it on, along cometh the gasman with a whopping bill for two grand, now to make ends meet we need to know the incoming and out going pennies if he doesn't tell us what they are how are we to judge, for all we know some of it could be frittered awayt at the bookies and bingo halls - get the drift?

    One thing that you can be sure off is this big black hole the money flows through is a darn sight bigger than they are letting on, you really think they are going to be honest about that when they can't be honest about themselves!

    And with Labour being spend now pay later party when have they ever saved for this or that - they will have to sell Blackpool Tower to make ends meet soon and one day they will have to stop Robbing Peter to pay Paul, all they are doing is shifting debt around as it grows playing 'make believe'.

    What prudence the entire lot should be booted out now, let you into a little secret MPs... any MPs will never be honest Tory, Labour or Liberal they will ALWAYS tow the party line instead of speaking out that IS the problem and may be why we are in this mess!

  • Comment number 85.

    sagamix 48

    Most amusing, as ever. One of the more interesting numbers in the current Labour song book is the concentration on undermining Osborne. Clearly the idea you are collectively trying to spread is that either Osborne remains as the Shadow Chancellor through Cameron's unlimited loyalty to an old but dumb friend, or that there is some sort of a bet on about how long Osborne will stay in place and Cameron has bought the high field.

    I think we all know, however, that the truth lies elsewhere. Brown hates Osborne for a past perceived misdemenour (well reported elsewhere so I won't repeat here), and would rather eat his own face than speak constructively of or with him. Meanwhile, elsewhere in The Bunker, notwithstanding Osborne's frequently weak media performances, Labour fear and loath him as a good Commons performer, smart political operator, strong team man and the possessor and efficient user of a considerable intellect.

    Osborne, of course, doesn't need me to defend him. I just thought I would make the point that the fire behind Labour's smoke is, yet again, of an unusual hue.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    64. At 8:12pm on 30 Jun 2009, MacTheLife wrote:

    ...The data Osborne bleats about not having access to is not routinely given to the opposition- and this was the same scenario under the last Tory regime. Neither he or his boss have a political scruple in their bodies and won't make a comittment to what they stand for (does anyone know this?)...

    ===

    Yes it is. John Major let Blair & Brown have access to the Civil Service before the 1997 election, even though he was expected to lose.

  • Comment number 89.

    This seems a rather partisan blog entry. Where are the tough questions on why Brown won't even hold the regular spending review? Why give in to the ludicrous soft response of "because we haven't reached the end of the recession, so we can't make predictions"? What a load of utter nonsense. Did the Budget get cancelled because it was suddenly too difficult to make predictions about the future? Is the current government's inability to control its own members or even think about passing legislation due to the same problem? The whole affair would be laughable if it weren't so damaging for our country.

    It's ridiculous to hold the party that's not in power more accountable for explaining what it would do than the party in power accountable for what it is doing! What is this? Brown's about a millimetre from the line of "the Opposition isn't in charge of government at all; we are; we are the party of doing something, they are the party of doing nothing!" - he might as well play that one and make it clear as clear could be that he thinks the electorate are moronic beyond belief. Spin, substance, actions, doing nothing? Is the irony of this line of attack not agonisingly obvious to Brown and co?

    I pity the opposition parties, all of them, and can only think of the following: Never fight an idiot. He'll take you down to his level, and beat you with experience.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    31 general fondue

    "that's what the conservatives do best- not bothering about the details but worrying about personality."

    ================

    And using phrases such as "young and privileged" as a phrase implying untrustworthyness isn't bothering about the details either.

  • Comment number 92.

    Comment 66 : General Fondue

    "And I don't think there'd be quite the same number of complaints if Nick Robinson was taking a conservative slant to the stories, hmm?"

    I can't speak for the others, but what I'm after is balanced, objective reporting. No slant, no prejudice, no double-standards.

    What we get throughout the media, at the best of times, is an almost total bias in favour of mainstream opinion, so that anyone advocating anything outside the incredibly narrow range of "acceptable" ideas is portrayed as either an "extremist" or a crank. To anyone with an independently functioning brain, Spiked and Private Eye provide a welcome opportunity for reassurance that one hasn't gone completely doolally - otherwise it's blogs.

    Labour, with its huge parliamentary majority, has had it so easy for all but the last few months, despite the fact that its majority in the Commons greatly exaggerates its support in the country at large. Its beliefs and its behaviour have been normalised in the press as being unquestionably correct, with the result that for opposition to make any progress at all they've had to join the club, and accede to this normalised behaviour.

    How long it will take the next non-Labour government to unravel this assault on reason and democracy heaven only knows. It'll be a monumental task, because most of those who have benefitted from their sycophancy will be deep-seated in their positions of power by now, and will take a hell of a lot of uprooting. But uprooted they must be, if we are to get out of this shambles.

  • Comment number 93.

    41 davisou1234

    "I don't trust no tory on public spending"

    ----------

    Did you say you were a teacher in any earlier post ?

  • Comment number 94.


    Plenty of accusations about the BBC being the propaganda arm of the government. Does the Iranian government read this? also stop trying to rig this blog by calling anyone who disagrees with you a troll! Take a look around you.

    Thanks to the Bankers! and thatcherite policies they will both have to cut services. One will care less than the other though.

  • Comment number 95.

    Thanks to #76 lukeireland for that link.

    The fact that I have seen less than five posts that havent called into question the integrity of this blog CLEARLY shows how many people are deeply unsatisfied with this dismal brand of journalism.

    How can the author call into question the details of proposed Tory cuts when Labour are DENYING the need to cut spending? Surely that should be the topic of discussion when the country is in so much debt and the government intend to make it worse!

    In regard to the comments about the millions being wasted on ID cards and various databases, have you thought about how much they will cost to maintain? The cost to improve the security when the system is compromised? That will add up over years and instead of talking relatively, the more ill devised schemes we get like this, the more money will have to be clawed back from other areas.

    Anybody with any sense should be able to tell you not to spend what you dont have. The government seem to have forgotten this and sent the country spiralling into further debt by consistently living beyond their means for over a decade now. When will it stop? I doubt it will until we oust these clowns from politics

  • Comment number 96.

    31 general fondue

    "that's what the conservatives do best- not bothering about the details .... Labour's practically released their manifesto"

    =========================

    And the details in yesterday deeply dull and uninspiring "Vision" are ??? Lots of bland comments but no actual detail, and dog whistle rehashed ideas that will never be implemented.

    "Local homes for local people" - care to give us any details behid this one for example ???

  • Comment number 97.

    Nick, as a public sector employee (I know everyone, sorry) I can tell you two facts that seem to have escaped you:

    (1) the Government has already started making significant cuts whatever ministers might say; and, (2) public servants (of which you are one) have a duty to do what is best for the country and that does not include giving one party (Labour) an inordinately easy ride and another (Conservative) a hard time when both equally deserve to be challenged on one hand and allowed air time to express their views on the other.

    Thankfully, the civil service is in my experience a lot less partisan than the BBC seems to have become and will serve whichever party is elected by the country next year. There are no illusions though that spending cuts will be the order of the day whoever wins. At such a time, I don't imagine that the once so highly respected news services of the BBC will be immune....

  • Comment number 98.

    The educashun secretary was talking pure Balls on channel 4 news tonight about tory cuts and NooLaburr's contrasting mantra to spend more every year for ever.

    No Balls there all right - he buckled under Snow's paxo-style repeated "just give a yes or no". In the end he stopped saying NooLabuur would be increasing budgets after 2011 - except if his mysterious "five ifs" were satisfied.

    Iffy Balls - not a pleasant prospect to woo the voters.

    Great fun, especially as he seems to have all the budget figures already that poor old eyebrows is patiently waiting for. By the way has there been another cabinet reshuffle this week? Slipped out as bad news under cover of heatwave/wimbledon/pop star's death/yemeni plane crash?

    We should be told...

  • Comment number 99.

    Sagamix

    "Personally, I have no problem with you describing the Shadow Chance as a "young privileged man" ... he is each of those 3 things"

    ==========================================

    The same could almost be said of the the niece of the Countess Longford, who's also the daughter of a Harley Street physician. But then your dream girl Harriet isn't that young I suppose.

    Now there's someone truley worthy of Nick's question "why should we trust you ???"

  • Comment number 100.

    96. StrictlyPickled

    Yes, I will. It means that if you come from an area, you will have more priority when getting a house.

    And, of course, your suggestion that the Vision was dull is your opinion- I happen to think that it's a good set of plans. But that's just my opinion.

 

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