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Has the bonfire gone out?

Nick Robinson | 15:24 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

Curiously, Tory HQ are now pouring cold water on the bonfire of the quangos.

They have called to say that Mr Cameron's speech was not, as I reported, called "Bonfire of the Quangos" but called instead "People Power - Reforming Quangos".

What's more they point to their leader saying: "it would be far too simplistic for me to stand here and announce some kind of 'Bonfire of the Quangos.' People have heard that kind of talk many times before, and seen little to show for it."

I am happy to correct this whilst merely noting that the invitation to his speech read: "Reform invites you to: Bonfire of the Quangos". Also, the quote above was not in the speech extracts issued in advance and may have been written after my first blog post.

Incidentally, on the substance of the issue, one senior Tory has called with an interesting question about his leader's speech. Isn't the Tory plan to de-politicise the NHS and have it run by an independent board the creation of the biggest quango of them all?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Just shows why all parties cannot afford to get these cuts wrong and how difficult it will be to implement them

    But implement them they must which is why the whole process of spending cuts has to be debated openly with the present state of the nation's finances made public.

    Financial forecasts should err on the side of pessimism as they are only guesstimates anyway and that always leaves room to manouvre

    Only then will we see which party can be the most creative and daring and deserve our vote at the next election. That's if they really want to win it by then.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Nick,

    "Also, the quote above was not in the speech extracts issued in advance and may have been written after my first blog post."

    And it may not have been. Nothing like a bit of second-sourced reported fact, is there? And that speculation certainly isn't.

    See you in the pub.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    #3 virtualsilver

    it makes a refreshing change form the usual newlabour line that everything they announce is - the right thing to do.

    If I heard Ed Balls say that phrase once I heard him say it a milllions times abut the Haringay shame. How can anyhting that has been done by that inept council be the right thing to do. They should all be fired.

    Cameron has tapped into the public's desire not to be preached to. Pure and simple and newlabour don't like it because they have all the answers

    Call an election

  • Comment number 7.

    Would it not be better all round if politicians did not pre-release quotes from speeches and journalists waited until a speech was delivered before commenting on them? Then there would be no question as to what had been said, or whether elements had been changed to dodge early criticism.

    Politicians should be accountable for what they actually say to the electorate, and we should not have this ridiculous culture of pre-announcements and deliberate leaks. I don't care whether the chicken or the egg makes the first move, I just hope someone does.

  • Comment number 8.

    Gosh U-Turnitus is spreading from nuLabour to the Tories!

    Definition U-Turnitus

    Anounce a policy/sheach one day and the same or following day deny that you said it.

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    "independent board"?

    What does "independent" mean in the context of quangos?

    Is it independent from political appointees, financial and budget independence, policy and management independence, perhaps the freedom to hire and fire?

    Does all this give the PM too much opaque influence and power over the quangos?

    Whatever it is called, however it is cut and diced, if it take the public's money, it should be a public service and not serving a few. Enough resources must given to carry out the responsibilities and accountabilities must match the responsibilities and the resources used.

  • Comment number 11.

    The problem with this whole daft topic is that you need groups and departments to run things.

    What you call them and how independent they are is irrelevant, they will still exist under which ever system - they HAVE to.

    The white hall mandarins know this and just change the letter head as they are asked.

    It is like complaining that a food is full of chemicals and is therefore bad. EVERYTHING is chemicals - that is the science.

    EVERYTHING has to be managed somehow - that is the politics. If politicians were as honest as Cameron claims he is, maybe he would admit to that fact.

    Oh, I forgot, he is a politician. Why tell the truth when misleading the public gets you more votes?

  • Comment number 12.

    Neither here nor there Nick. Isn't the fact of the matter that at least the Conservatives are being honest about having to make cuts (not as detailed as I would like, but it's a start) and are proactively starting to talk about areas where they can be made? Contrast that with 'spending will increase year on year', 'Labour Investment...blah, blah', 'No more boom and bust' etc, etc, etc....

    Start questioning the Government, Nick, they are in a position, for a few more months at least, to do something whereas the Tories can't do a bean, no matter what they would like to do. I can't actually think of a thing that the Govt has said it is going to do NOW, as opposed to leaving it until 2010. The Labour Party seems to be taking the attitude of 'why put something off 'til tomorrow when you can put it off 'til next year'....presumably when they won't have to (or be in a position to)do anything anyway.

    What's the betting that at PMQ's on Weds, Gordon still trots out the same old lines about 'Do nothing Tories' & 'Labour investment vs Tory cuts'. Surely someone in the Cabinet has the bottle to tell him that nobody, absolutely nobody, believes that guff??

  • Comment number 13.

    There was a story.
    Which wasn't one after all.
    Now that's the story.

  • Comment number 14.

    You should listen to what Cameron actually said (on the BBC this morning!): it is clear he has no intention of a clean sweep of Quangos, he said loud and clear that some are essential; others not so and they will go...

    Maybe he should have a REAL bonfire in the original sense...a BONEfire, of New Labours dead and dry bones and to ward off their evil spirits!

  • Comment number 15.

    "Also, the quote above was not in the speech extracts issued in advance and may have been written after my first blog post."

    Presumably, therefore, we can credit Nick Robinson with re-writing Tory policy?

    Alternatively, of course, perhaps you're wrong, and it just wasn't in the extracts issued in advance?

    I guess your theory just makes for a better story.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick

    Shame you didn't listen to Today this morning. Cameron made exactly this point under questioning from Humphries - the intention is to get some savings but more importantly to get more democracy with politicians making policy not unelected bureaucrats.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting one on the NHS. I guess it would effectively be a quango under this setup.

    However, I have experienced the chaos that is the NHS first hand (one of post University temp jobs was in a back office function in a hospital), and there is no way there are enough politicians in Westminster to run it well. I think the NHS more or less has to be run by an independent body, BUT it should be an accountable one, and driven by government.

  • Comment number 18.

    All this reinforces my depressing view that, whilst most of us will be delighted to see the back of Gordon Brown's disaster of a Government, few of us are in the least bit impressed by the Tory alternative.

    The Tories are still doing the political equivalent of dancing around the handbag. No clear understanding of the scale of the mess we're in; no clear strategy for dealing aggressively with the economic war zone they'll enter the day after the election; the usual political waffle-speak that any of them can get away with in "economic peacetime", but hopeless, uninspiring and positively dangerous in "economic wartime".

    Cameron and the Tories need to get a grip, raise their game and connect with the British people's desire for firm, decisive political leadership aimed at rolling back the state and cutting public sector costs by at least 10% ... and more like 20% or 30% truth be known. Use Canada as the Case Study.

    It's easy Dave: just pipe up and tell us you're going to cut the number of quangos by one-third for starters. The British people will trip over themselves to vote Conservative. And do you really think the state will collapse with one-third of its quangos abolished? I doubt it very much.

    Out here in the real world, if a business was faced with the type of financial disaster looming for the UK economy, only bold measures would stand any hope of turning around the situation. Please stop pfaffing about.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just in case - the term "Bonfire Of The Quangos" was first used by one James Gordon Brown, before the 1997 Putsch; he noted that he was going to put, I think, 40%, to the torch.

    I gather we now have over 40% more; of course, they are a prefect vehicle for Brown's contempt for the democratic process, in that they are unelected and unaccountable, and devour more and more of our money every year.

    Which, in an economy in which tax receipts are now insufficient even to fund all welfare requirements, is not healthy.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick, one of the many hazards for journalist who speculate rather than report...

    "Check against actual delivery"

    Perhaps that would have been better to have called this blog!

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    A bonfire might be good but a reform with full accountability might be better along with parity on salaries and benefits, but accountability is definitely the most important, and some of the roles in quangos should be cut immediately - like the plethora of prs.

    Maybe Nick got it right all along, he usually does.

  • Comment number 23.

    18. moraymint wrote:

    "The Tories are still doing the political equivalent of dancing around the handbag. No clear understanding of the scale of the mess we're in;"

    =

    I'm sure they understand very clearly the scale of the mess.
    As you go on to say it's now about starting to piece together an alternative plan. One which won't scare the horses but is honest enough to give the electorate a sense of trust, but I think it will be more political card playing up until the elections.

  • Comment number 24.

    Quangos offically entitled "Non-Departmental Public Bodies" , or NDPB for short is where you will find ALL the Jobs for "The Boys" such as Ex-Ministers and M.P.s' etc: endlessly and effortly soaking up an Expense Account as CEO's and Secretaries that the rest of us can only dream about.

    Another misuse of these Bodies can only be measured by the utter waste of Public money they spend doing worthless Government exercises that appear pointless to anyone but the Quango itself in a vain effort to justify their worth.

    Therefore, to sum -up "Quangos". One of the truly many waste of time inventions ever invented by Government too appease a one sided independent view of things that for the most parts ARE NOT in the Public Interest, therefore any Bonfire of the Quangos is long overdue, and the only objection shoulb be, "Why has it taken so long" to rid ourselves of this brigade of un-wanted and totally un-needed Placemen and Women.

  • Comment number 25.

    21. jrperry

    "prop up Brown and avoid an election here until after the Lisbon Consti-treaty is ratified"

    Indeed can't have democracy interfere with the EU.

  • Comment number 26.

    Anyone else having trouble signing in? getting a page not found message?

    delete the web address back to

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2009/07 and select. you will be signed in.

    Or is it just me?

  • Comment number 27.

    Curiously, Nick, you started your original blog post in exactly the way I always assumed commentators have got used to after years of Campell and Mandelson media manipulation, i.e. looking a the latest releases, rather than checking the facts.

    It may be interesting to comment that "Cameron - or any other politician - will talk about this or that....".

    But to get sniffy because YOU chose to go with a headline about speculation and a speech had another title when actually delivered doesn't impress me a lot.

    Actually the big issue today is why, all of a sudden, a report that yook FOUR years to prepare is referred to the SFO by Mandelson. If there is something in that report that suggested fraud, the members of the investigation team had a legal obligation to advise the SFO as soon as that information emerged. So the question is WHY was no referral made earlier?

    Was Mandelson's department totally outside the investigation, totally unaware of any likely content? Who appointed the investigative team and what special terms were arranged, or assumed, so no previous "fact" was referred to the SFO?

    Now that is really smelly.

    I don't give a paper tissue about what you call the examination of QANGOs. All political parties seem to agree that value for money is vital in every area of (tax or borrowings on "our" behalf) public spend.

    Not bothered if you get the title of a speech right. It may matter to you, but it has no relevance to anything in trying to unravel the disastrous situation that Brown has helped create.

    Bit bothered you seemed to wander off for 3 days with Brown last week and all we got was a single post. What on earth was the guy doing all that time? "Listening" to "the people". Bit late for that.

  • Comment number 28.


    I wonder when the last time Nick Robinson posted something that was not favourable to the Govt. It'll take a lot of searching the archives thats for sure.

  • Comment number 29.


    Is it really newsworthy that the Conservatives aren't going to simply destroy everything that is currently called a quango? That would make no more sense than revoking every single law on our books in order to get rid of the stupid laws Labour has introduced in the last few years.

    As with anything like this it's about figuring what adds value and what doesn't. Bodies that soak up public funds and produce nothing of commensurate value need to be abolished. Bodies that provide services commensurate with their costs may still need to be streamlined but not abolished.

    If anything we need this to go further and deeper, we need to root out vast levels of waste across the whole of the public sector. Then perhaps we can address the ongoing lie that spending cuts means fewer teachers and nurses. Who knows, given the huge salaries paid to some roles of questionable value within the public sector, we might get spending cuts while hiring more teachers and nurses.

  • Comment number 30.


    23

    Agree. The Tories understand very well the enormity of the problem - hence the request for detailed figures - denied by the party in power!



    27

    My first thoughts on the four year delay - what is the 'bad news' being buried.


  • Comment number 31.

    Sorry, Nick. Bit tetchy today.

    You aren't just a commentator. I understand you're the Political EDITOR of BBC news. Thought those guys were supposed to check the facts.

    Speculation just ain't fact. Bits of paper from a PR aide should be treated as something possibly useful in the privvy.

    Of course you have to try and analyse loads of different input.

    But if you think it's worth posting a follow up because you got the title of a speech wrong, you aren't going to get through the upcoming flood of garbage that will be unleashed between now and June next year.

    For goodness sake, Darling's saying that all aspects of public spending are up for grabs. He didn't say that civil servants WEREN'T looking at cuts of up to 20percent - just that such leaks weren't attributed to the Treasury. Meanwhile Brown still wants to peddle his mirage of Labour sustained "investments"...

    The country's falling to bits, Nick, and you get uptight because someone didn't give you the proper title of a speech... No wonder we're in a mess. A little bit more focus would help.

  • Comment number 32.

    Typical Cameron-----all mouth and then no b***ocks

  • Comment number 33.

    @31

    Only a matter of time before your comment is removed on the grounds that it, er, broke House Rules (which it doesn't).

    Increasingly, Nick is becoming the story.

    So, come to think of it, this comment will probably be removed before you have a chance to read it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick,

    Don't forget the other mega quango promised by Cameron, The Fiscal/Budget monitoring body they intend to set up, cant remember its name now, no doubt someone would be kind enough to remind us.

    The old culling of Quangos promise is about as "honest" as the "we haven't seen the books" chestnut or "We'll only cut waste and bureaucracy" pledge. Its just typical "opposition speak", populist, vote catching, but ultimately NOTHING can be done without losing a "function" or "service that is needed or valued by someone. We've all heard it all before from all parties when in opposition.

    But hey, no "thread of dishonesty" from Dave, no way, "Straight as a dye Dave" as you will be known.

    By the way Dave, is Lord Ashcroft registered to vote and paying taxs to the UK exchequer?"

    "...erm, cough..is that call for me cough....taxi, taxi"

  • Comment number 35.

    Quite right to try to take as much as possible the running the country of the country out of polticians' hands. Their job is to provide funds, set general directions but not get bogged down in detail, whilst keeping a check on what's going on. They are not experts but even experts need to be controlled. If you don't have quangos, you end up with detailed decisions being made on the advice of civil servants, who often have little real experience in a particular area. That does not mean that I think all quangos are needed and that they all do their job properly.

    At last David Cameron is showing a little maturity. However he needs to rein in the temptation of crowd pleasing headlines and ensure that the headlines match his more mature thought. The issue is that he knows that he will be PM in a year's time, so now is the time for him to begin tuning into what a PM should do and how they should act. He and his shadow cabinet should start talking as if they are ministers of HMG and not just opposition politicians and do more than making snide comments about Gordon Brown and his ministers. Today was a good start.

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

    Deary me, Nick, so you are posting blog posts about events before the actual event! Time the BBC started reporting the news and abandoned their non-charter agenda, don't you think?

  • Comment number 38.

    Cameron is getting a bit tiresome now, isn't he? - looks like what went down here is, whilst sniffing the air in various golf clubs up and down the country, he detects a fair amount of animosity towards the Q word - so, toffee nose wrinkling at the aroma of that particular wind blowing though the portals, what does he do? ... he moves like grease lightening to catch and bottle it with a "policy" announcement! - I'm sorry but stuff like this is just NOT going to get my vote

  • Comment number 39.

    Probably Cameron doesn't actually know what a quango is but as long as it sounds really dangerous he can look like George slaying the dragon. Just looked at the Economic Research council and between 1998 and 2006 the number of quangos seem to reduce from 692 to 524. By the way who does he think will run the NHS as the PCT and Health Boards (the biggest quangos by spend) I know what he will do, change the name! to cangos (Cameron autonymous non-governmental organisations. To be serious his Uturn on this issue has demonstrated his grip on convincing leadership - Not!

  • Comment number 40.

    Not sure if I heard everything correctly on Radio 4's PM show.

    Seems that a guy HEADS a team of 90 people with a fairly small budget (but which channels around 80MIL to other QANGOs) is paid GBP170,000.

    For goodness sake, in private companies that would be a middle manager job. GBP170K - to identify skills that businesses may need but the country has no delivery structure to produce anyway...?

    It's madness.

    The Learning and Skills (sic) Council couldn't work out how much money they really had, so got colleges to go in for redevelopments they promised funding for, but just didn't have the funds to deliver...

    SKILLS? LEARNING? Under this mob?

    This government has lost all contact with reality.

    Because it's a QANGO, no minister is responsible, so no one with the big one's in Brown's cabinet to take any blame. What a surprise.

    The Times reported a ministerial comment:

    "Siôn Simon, the Further Education Minister, said: I really do understand and I sympathise with the frustrations of colleges in this kind of position. There will be colleges who have invested money, who have borrowed money, even some who have started doing building works. It is right to say that the LSC has given in principal approval to 79 colleges which would total nearly £3 billion of government money and it is clear that that level of expenditure cannot be funded in the current spending round.

    We are quite clear as ministers that that's not acceptable. We shouldn't be in that position. This programme has not been managed properly.

    Just like the rest of the economy. It ain't what you want the outcome to be - it's the DELIVERY, stupid!

  • Comment number 41.

    34 Eatonrifle

    Why do you say the budget monitoring body (no, I can't remember the proposed name either) will be a "mega quango"? The job can be done by half a dozen accountants, a couple of accounts clerks and three or four support staff. Even if Cameron wants to double-up on my estimate, it will still have a headcount under 25. That's not "mega" in anybody's book.

    While we are at it, on Lord Ashcroft, I think you will find the answers are "yes" and "yes". What's your point?

  • Comment number 42.

    "You aren't just a commentator. I understand you're the Political EDITOR of BBC news. Thought those guys were supposed to check the facts.

    Speculation just ain't fact. Bits of paper from a PR aide should be treated as something possibly useful in the privvy. "
    e
    You should try googling the phrase everyone was fooled. Even dennis Hannon MEP of the Telegraph and the Daily mail who changed the title in the article.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick

    David Cameron, I think, made himself very clear on TV today. He said that he saw two issues

    1) Waste/cost relating to quangos - there's is plenty of that and the financial saving is not small beer as the annual savings would dwarf e.g. scrapping the Trident replacement.

    2) Direct politics/accountability.

    I do not think you are giving David Cameron fair reporting here - no mention also of why our Labour government after 12 years of quango waste of between e.g £10-£20 billion + per year now suddenly thinks that money can be saved on quango bashing.

    Your questions should surely be put to G. Brown's moneywasting government before trying to press David Cameron whilst in opposition - remember - Newish Labour are in power and not the Tories?

    However, it's not rocket science to see that most of the quango's can go on the bonfire along with that disgraceful lazy and ineffective organisation known as the Local Government Ombudsman.

    What I would like David Cameron to do is to do away with all of the qaungo's and LG Ombudsman and it's small army of incompetent waster ex-bureaucrats and replace it with a comprehensive modern tribunal system dealing with all public service decisions that would overlap with a reform of our legal system to enable all legitimate complaints about public and governmental operations, actions and decisions to be considered. This could also replace/reduce legal aid payments and give proper justice to the man in the street without getting robbed by lawyers and barristers in the legal system. This would be fairer and provide access to justice whether it is low pay, audit MP's expenses etc etc.

    So Nick - What is 'curious' that both Labour and Tory parties being cautious with their statements in the run up to the next by-elections and general elections?

    If someone would point out my proposal to David Cameron I would be most grateful - I don't think that 'Incapability Brown' will try and 'nick' this idea (about a a modern comprehensive tribunal service) as it involves noble and honourable notions about accountability, fairness, simplicity, direct politics etc which is all clearly alien to our Prime Minister.

    The quango's are now/still in a bureaucratic mess and reform is overdue and there is now a massive opportunity to move the country forward with a radical reforming 'bonfire'. A modern reformed tribunal system could deal with everything that the quango's deal with and bring in members of the public in as Tribunal officers and members.

    A comprehensive modern tribunal service could in fact provide the missing link between the ordinary person and Parliament as all MP's could be involved with the process and do a bit more for their enormous salaries and fat pensions. The service could be used to deal with many disputes more cost effectively with alternative resolution methods and could be used to slim down many government departments having their own repeat Tribunal services and which again - wastes money.

    The first area it could be used would be to e.g. review decisions of local authority planning committees who seem to delight in completely ignoring the represenstations of local residents against e.g over-development in their family neighbourhoods - even when there is a full petition of local objectors.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ahh, good. The cocktail hour.

  • Comment number 45.

    I see a hint of criticism of David Cameron by Nick Robinson has flushed most of the Labour muppets out of their caves. davidou the teacher I see you are now using a spell checker. What you really need is a logic checker!

  • Comment number 46.

    It doesn't really matter who said what and when, the important fact here is that Quangos are eradicated as the expensive waste of taxpayers money that they are, and I don't care who does it!

    Maybe we should start with the biggest and most expensive Quango, the BBC Board?

    Mind you, we've heard it all before haven't we? Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, and now Cameron!

  • Comment number 47.

    There was an interesting bit on radio (possibly also in the press) some few months back, when Miliband Minor went to China to discuss climate change and environmental matters.

    The Chinese were curious that Mili Minor was the minister responsible for a department that is largely dependent on scientific knowledge but has absolutely NO qualifications in such an area. His Chinese counterpart had several decades of immersion in the scientific/technical arena. (Just as their Defence Minister actually understands about military matters, their Economics ministers have been in that zone... etc Whatever... I bet the Chinese ministers aren't as good at talking to focus groups. And I'm confident they don't have good Oxbridge degrees in PPE. So they will really struggle whichever UK government ministers turn up, won't they?)

    You could justifiably argue (as do many scientists who contributed to the original IPCC information gathering, but backed away when it all got overtaken by political, rather than scientific synthesis) that climate change is an act of nature we have to put up with anyway, so it really doesn't matter whether you understand it.

    But in the UK we have had ministers "responsible" for Defence who cycle through the department at roughly two-yearly intervals, who have no credibility in the role, don't seem to bothered, and the latest one is ranked 21st out of 23 cabinet ministers! Behind the Ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for Gooodness sake!

    It's appalling. The Westminster ministers for Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales can't actually DO very much in the territories they supposedly oversee. The guy/gal heading Defence looks after the whole of the UK.

    Good to see the PM's assessment of his political priorities.

    Right now I'm fairlyopenminded about (just self-edited that, as it could have gone beyond the house rules)...

  • Comment number 48.

    44

    Over on www.politicalbetting.com IIRC the Cocktail hour you refer to was aptly named the "lagershed" by one on the contributors. How true.

  • Comment number 49.

    41 JRPerry.

    said

    "While we are at it, on Lord Ashcroft, I think you will find the answers are "yes" and "yes". What's your point?"

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

    Well if you say so JR.

    Look forward to Dave confirming this rather more clearly than Hague managed to.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8080379.stm #

    Worth another watch of Hague's squirmathon.

    Oh and if you think that Cameron's Budget Monitoring Quango will have a staff of 25 you are in for an unpleasant surprise IMO. We'll see.



  • Comment number 50.

    38 Sagamix

    If you're tired of Cameron now, I can't imagine how you will feel in 2018 as he announces he's stepping down as PM for someone younger. I don't think they need your vote, either.

    Actually, golf is very popular with the hoody contingent in my 'hood, so it would appear the real world has left you behind in the 1970s, scoffing curly sandwiches, drinking warm beer and eyeing up the skirt as you prop up the bar in your local Labour club!

    Roll on the election, 'cos ya know - things can only get better, lol!

  • Comment number 51.

    45 Sicilian

    said

    "I see a hint of criticism of David Cameron by Nick Robinson has flushed most of the Labour muppets out of their caves."

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

    Which in turn has flushed you out Sicilian.

    So my teacher friend, you must have heard many times the playground addage "sticks and stones...etc" However, you have arroused my curiosity.

    Labour (supporter) = Muppet
    Tory (supporter) = ??

    Let us know..

  • Comment number 52.

    46 Rock

    said

    "Mind you, we've heard it all before haven't we? Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, and now Cameron!"

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

    Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As I said at #34 its "opposition speak" but it doesn't stop the gullible falling for the tired old clap trap.

  • Comment number 53.

    49 Eatonrifle

    Yes, I saw the Hague interview, live and uncut, rather than the edited version you are linking to. Hague had a clear answer to a far-from-well-put question by Paxman. Paxman, desperate to revive his sharp-toothed reputation of two decades ago, thought he could see a reprise of his ancient Howard moment, and had a go at making a last headline, but failed. In the end, Hague was laughing at him, and rightly so. The Beeb, whose investment in Paxman exceeds seven figures in pounds of your money and mine, have done their best to polish the results up (because if Paxman looks stupid then so does the entire BBC management). But let's face it, Hague's answer is true, fair and honest and he had no reason to change it no matter how many times the question was put, and Paxo is a sad caricature of his former self.

  • Comment number 54.

    #42, dhwilkinson wrote:
    "You aren't just a commentator. I understand you're the Political EDITOR of BBC news. Thought those guys were supposed to check the facts.

    Speculation just ain't fact. Bits of paper from a PR aide should be treated as something possibly useful in the privvy. "

    =======
    You should try googling the phrase everyone was fooled. Even dennis Hannon MEP of the Telegraph and the Daily mail who changed the title in the article."

    DH,

    Thanks. You reinforce my point. Too many journalists and Westminster villagers have been conditioned over 12 (possibly 15) years to take pre-released, pre-fact comment as "information", and PR splurge etc as the basis for a hook to try and set the news agenda for the day.

    Whichever government will be in power in late 2010 will have a massive task to try and bring the UK's wildly excessive spending under control.

    So, when Darling's talking about nothing being exempt from spending cuts, Mandelson is kicking a GBP16MIL report into the long grass, why is a speech about reducing the number of QANGOs a big issue?

    It should be just another, OK that has to happen moment.

    My real point was that a BBC Political Editor felt that he should come back and re-post, just because the title of a speech was not as anticipated. NO comment on Mandelson's SFO referral. NO reference to Darling quite obviously trying to be realistic, while Brown still talks about "increased investment". Brown never explains that "investing" money he never had, could only come from tax or borrowing - but he is legally entitled to force a couple of generations of fellow citizens to pay for - is actually NOT a good thing.

    It's madness.

    Like the 10p tax band nonsense. "Nobody will lose out." Well, maybe if they can work their way through the thousands of extra pages of regulation he introduced and zimmer their way to a sympathetic tax officer - and turn the gas down just a touch for a couple of years...

    It's down the pan, DH.

    Goodness sake, if the "Learning and Skills" Council can't add up, how do expect the next generation to get by???


  • Comment number 55.

    muppet @ 50

    so it would appear the real world has left you behind in the 1970s, scoffing curly sandwiches, drinking warm beer and eyeing up the skirt as you prop up the bar in your local Labour club!

    knew I was being watched! - you're wrong about the Clowns not needing my vote though - for one thing, I get 10 votes as an officially accredited Clear Thinking Progressive, and for a second thing I live in a razor edge 3 way marginal - so it's probable that, as a floating voter ... or voters rather ... whoever I plump for will form the next government - quite a privilege, I guess, but also something of a burden

  • Comment number 56.

    Trying again.

    There was an interesting bit on radio (possibly also in the press) some few months back, when Miliband Minor went to China to discuss environmental matters.

    The Chinese were curious that Mili Minor was the minister responsible for a department that is largely dependent on scientific knowledge but has absolutely NO qualifications in such an area. His Chinese counterpart had several decades of immersion in the scientific/technical arena. (Just as their Defence Minister actually understands about military matters, their Economics ministers have been in that zone... etc Whatever... I bet the Chinese ministers aren't as good at talking to focus groups. And I'm confident they don't have good Oxbridge degrees in PPE. So they will really struggle whichever UK government ministers turn up, won't they?)

    In the UK we have had ministers "responsible" for Defence who cycle through the department at roughly two-yearly intervals, who have no credibility in the role, don't seem too bothered, and the latest one is ranked 21st out of 23 cabinet ministers! Behind the Ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for Gooodness sake!

    It's appalling. The Westminster ministers for Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales can't actually DO very much in the territories they supposedly oversee. The guy/gal heading Defence looks after the whole of the UK.

    Good to see the PM's assessment of his political priorities.

  • Comment number 57.

    53 JRPerry

    My God JR that's breathtaking it really is.

    Never have I seen such a robust defence of the indefencible.

    You think Hague was "true, fair and honest" and simply laughing at Paxman!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'd be amazed if even on here, a hotbed of Tory support you can get anyone to (seriously) back up your assessment of Hagues response to the Ashcroft intrview.

    But hey who knows, Sicilian perhaps, Robin probably would.

    Oh no of course Susan Croft, a cert!

  • Comment number 58.

    54 fairly

    If you are suggesting that Robinson's mini postathon today was calculated to distract rather than inform, then see my post 21 above for an appropriately cautionary message.

  • Comment number 59.

    Fairly
    "My real point was that a BBC Political Editor felt that he should come back and re-post, just because the title of a speech was not as anticipated."

    You mean not as it was printed on the invitation? This is a politics blog. The Conservative party is a political party who want to be the government. They also should be challenged. This isn't the bring down the government blog.
    The quango's issue is always brought up by the opposition and nothing is done about it. Its pure electioneering and should be challenged. I can't stand political b.. nonsense.

    The type issues you mention also feature in Peston picks and Stephanomics blogs. How much more do you need?

  • Comment number 60.

    57 Eatonrifle

    Clearly, you did NOT see the original Paxman-Hague interview.

  • Comment number 61.

    Quangos would run far more efficiently and effectively if:

    1. Members of quango boards were precluded from sitting on other quango boards.

    2. Members of quango boards were precluded from "serving" if in the last 12 months they have "served" on another quango board.

    3. At least half of the members of every quango board had a successful track record in the private sector real world.

    4. Quango boards were incentivised to reduce the total cost of their quango, and were paid a bonus linked to cost reductions.

    And that applies equally to the BBC Board of Governors.

    I'll not comment on Nick's impartiality or otherwise in this latest blog post, since every single time I have suggested any lack of impartiality my comments have been modded-off as being "off topic" even though I have been commenting on what Nick wrote.

    And as for Cameron...he needs to explain how he will avoid the trap of being persuaded to expand the quangos once in government. Or maybe he is best just keeping quiet till after the election so he does not get hammered by the endangered quangocrats, then hammer them back into the real world once he is in office? I'm not at all sure that making quangos more accountable is the answer; we managed for centuries without most quangos, so why do we need most of them now?

  • Comment number 62.

    60. At 9:06pm on 06 Jul 2009, jrperry wrote:

    "57 Eatonrifle

    Clearly, you did NOT see the original Paxman-Hague interview."


    Well I did and I agree with "Eatonrifle", Huge was flannelling so much I thought he was about to wash his own or Paxman's face!

    Huge was looking distinctly uncomfortable at being questioned about Ashcroft, you are so obviously besotted with Huge (or the Tories as a whole) you mistook a nervous laugh as a genuine sign of humour...

  • Comment number 63.

    I see a lot of posts about the Hague interview etc but very little accuracy about what David Cameron has been saying today about quangos.

    Surely all that D Cameron is saying about quangos is that some of them will be eliminated as a waste of space and the few remaining useful ones will be reviewed so that they function better?

    Totally misleading blog and unfair to David Cameron!

  • Comment number 64.

    "Cameron promises ..." woah, stop right there.

    This is a politician who uttered those words ... correct?

    Well excuse me whilst I just blank the rest of it.

    Politicans have an Everest of trust to climb, especially senior ones who'd rather that awkward questions about their expenses would just go away.

    After the past couple of months of stone lifting on MP's expenses, I'd rather they just crawled back under said stone and stayed there until the election.

    But no such luck, these people have such neck and some are still spouting off in the media.

    Shameless.

    Nevertheless, the fact that about half of the Labour MP's are not even standing for re-election is a strong indicator taht soem have already taken the hint.

    Probably a similar percentage of Tories and Lib-Dems should also be considering their positions or possibly risk being punished at the polls by their respective electorates.

    PS. Talking of stone lifting, the BBC itself is revealed to have some very senior people feasting at the license fee payers expense. Where will all end?

  • Comment number 65.

    60 JR Perrty

    JR, I most certainly DID see the original interview and the link to the current BBC version is exactly how I recall the Ashcroft Qand As.

    What are you saying? That ist been cleverly edited to make Hague look evasive and dishonest?

    Well if you are its certainly worked because guess what, he looks evasive and dishonest!

  • Comment number 66.

    susan ... eaton (57) is calling you a "cert" ... want me to talk to him?

  • Comment number 67.

    63 Nautonier

    You didn't get a sense of DejaVu at all???

    Every opposition leader for the last 40 years has said this!!!

    Then they get into power and get a reality check about the consequences of getting rid of the "function" or "service" they deliver or regulate.

    It populist "opposition speak" I'm surprised so many get taken in by it particularly as we've seen it all before.

  • Comment number 68.

    Surely a quango can be of good use as long as its make up is totally independant, and its brief is clear. The problem is when a quango is made up of cronies and is an easy buck for government supporters.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 Saga

    Not even with Your's Saga!

  • Comment number 70.

    How is it that I have had posts removed that are far closer to the subject than the Hague-Paxman interview is to quangos?
    Enjoyed Hagues squirming, but can't see it's relevance here!

  • Comment number 71.

    26 dhwilkinson

    Bit late but Ive only just got round to scanning todays posts, yes I twice got an error 404 site not found notice and eventually went in through yesterdays history.

    Very strange!

  • Comment number 72.

    67. At 9:36pm on 06 Jul 2009, Eatonrifle wrote:

    63 Nautonier

    You didn't get a sense of DejaVu at all???

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Not at all - I think that David Cameron understands the gravity of political pledges and will try and deliver - as unlike the current Labour Party.

    I'm ashamed to say that I voted for Blair in 1997 but I will never make that kind of mistake again!

    And...

    an effective tribunal service could be used to hold politicians to account on manifesto pledges. Quango's will not do that and no other mechanism will hold a liar UK MP/party/government to account, it seems.

    I think we need to be careful questioning D. Camerons' integrity when the current labour government have reneged on virtually everything that they have promised - the UK 'constitution' provides a way of doing things by way of 'us' having to trust our politicians to deliver once in power - that is the reality.

  • Comment number 73.

    Eaton
    Of course it is opposition speak to threaten to sort out quangos, just as it's Government speak to ply the tactics of fear for what change will bring. Unfortunately for GB the tactics of fear are about 10% cuts which everyone knows will come whoever wins.

  • Comment number 74.

    26 and 71
    Since the website was changed a couple of weeks ago I can't get onto most of the sports pages or many of the news pages. It thinks I'm logging on from outside the UK. Its rubbish and now spend more time on Sky news and sport.

  • Comment number 75.

    65 Eatonrifle, 62 Boilerplated

    I have a recording of the Hague - Paxman interview, and I have just re-watched it to check the fairness of my earlier comment. I am quite happy that indeed I was being fair. Indeed, on re-watching, the whole thing seems even more tragi-comical, in the context of Paxman, than I recalled.

    You are seeking to take advantage of an edited clip, resulting from a prime BBC editorial policy, (that is, to make their investment in Paxman look sound by boosting him) which happened to coincide with your own political advantage (to make Ashcroft seem like a crook and make Hague look like a mug who was backing him up). Your assertions about having seen the original are at best unlikely, at worst based on false memories determined by your wish to find round every corner evidence, however tenuous, to support your particular political views.

    What can I say to two people who would happily argue that black was white, if it was necessary to bolster the flagging Labour cause? Wake up and smell the coffee!

  • Comment number 76.

    Nick it looks like Guido has got it nailed:

    Here are the 17 quangos the Tories have proposed.

    Source of list: Labour Party press office.

  • Comment number 77.

    #59, dhwilkinson wrote:
    Fairly
    "My real point was that a BBC Political Editor felt that he should come back and re-post, just because the title of a speech was not as anticipated."

    You mean not as it was printed on the invitation? This is a politics blog. The Conservative party is a political party who want to be the government. They also should be challenged. This isn't the bring down the government blog.
    The quango's issue is always brought up by the opposition and nothing is done about it. Its pure electioneering and should be challenged. I can't stand political b.. nonsense.

    The type issues you mention also feature in Peston picks and Stephanomics blogs. How much more do you need?

    =====

    DH,

    There are plenty of people on blogs like this who are very party political. I'm not attached to any party. Deliberately so. All I'm interested in is the outcome - the delivery - NOT the carefully worded political justifications for attempting change. NOR the badly written legislation that seems to have emerged over the years.

    (By the way, I haven't checked on Peston or Stephanomics... )

    I don't care whether it was a Labour, Tory, Lib/Dem or other party's "invitation". It just seems wrong that, while significant political news requires examination, we have a BBC editor blogging and sounding a bit annoyed because the title of a speech from a PR puff was inaccurate. So what? Surely nobody believes PR output? Let alone a BBC man?

    Point is, should there be a real examination of the costs associated with delivering services to Joe or Jane Blogs? Joe or Jane, by the way, may not be tax-payers. Maybe too young, too old and poor, etc. But they still either shop or have things bought for them that come with a tax-take. Tax attaches to everybody. Government spend is drifting away from what is collected via tax into what can be raised by borrowings. That worries me. Hope it worries you, too, as the numbers we're looking at won't be managed down for 40 years. So that will include next generations. Maybe you're single. That's around the time it took the UK to pay back the USA for loans allowing us to get through WWII.

    So do QANGOs deliver good value? I'm not smitten by the OUTCOME.

    If QANGOs are headed by the great and GOOD - why do those good people require such high salaries? If they want to "put something back", why does it cost us so much?

    Money that's cycled through governments incurs costs. Handle it once via tax and borrowing (direct expense)- that costs - handle it twice (including QANGOs) and the cost of handling goes up. Get a QANGO to pass money to another QANGO and, well, costs rise again. We pay for all that, but democratic responsiblity just disappears.

    What's the OUTCOME?

    Learning and Skills Council is apparently going to change. (Not sure if that's just a new set of headed note-paper we'll pay for...) BUT they still couldn't manage the sums. Skills? What had they Learnt? That doesn't look too good to me. And not very impressive to the foreign people/governments we hope will buy UK bonds to help this mob get access to cash they don't have and still talk about "investing", when we all know it's a case of get out the life jackets...

    Any minister responsible, prepared to resign, because the LSC messed up? Nah. Not me, guv, it was the folk in the QANGO...

    Regional government? Who, exactly voted for that? Only time it was put to a direct vote of the people it could affect, it was rejected out of hand. So what couldn't be done by a few civil servants co-ordinating objectives but instead costs us a fortune via unelected, unaccountable people?

    I rather appreciate "he/she said or did" journalism, accompanied by analysis. I really don't like "he or she WILL say or do" stuff (as promulgated by Campbell Mandelson and Co). The first is news, the second is speculation on the circumstances that may occur - or may be stopped by some change in the world.

    I don't mind political commentators speculating. I don't like editors who should be a little more circumspect, confusing "will" with "did". How many journalists failed to understand that after JFK "will do something", but was assassinated; the G8 "would" come up with, when 7/7 rocked London, so a little refocus was needed?

    "We WILL" just doesn't put bread on the table, despite the brave new words. We DID is something to talk about. That's NEWS, actually.

    Remember "Things will only get better"? Care to use that as a theme tune for the New Labour project now? Well, maybe this time, at least, things could hardly be worse...

    Still non-aligned, but it's getting harder!

  • Comment number 78.

    75 JR

    Cut the bluster JR, are yoy saying the website clip has been edited?

    If so what/where is the edit?

  • Comment number 79.

    76 Roll on

    You do realise they would be new quangos created by Cameron NOT abolished?

    including the "Office of Budget Responsibility"

    I was trying to remember that earlier at #34. Thanks for that

  • Comment number 80.

    Some quangos are good, some are bad.

    We want rid of the bad, keep the good and bring in quangos that are necessary.

    What's the story?

    You were doing so well when you asked the PM about the "CUTS" story... "This is a debate he does not want to have, an interview he did not enjoy, but a subject that will not go away."

    And then it went away......

  • Comment number 81.

    #75. At 10:01pm on 06 Jul 2009, jrperry wrote:

    You are seeking to take advantage of an edited clip,"

    No I'm not, I haven't actually ever watched, the cited (edited?), clip in question, my recollection is of the original (and full) broadcast.

  • Comment number 82.

    Just watched a TV documentary about the low life scum Kohli who murdered Hannah Foster in Hampshire. Rather puts into perspective all this silly political bickering. It won't change anything because the result of The next General Election is now set in stone. If cuts have to be made it seems sensible to begin with useless quangos.

  • Comment number 83.

    Sad thing is that the "bonfire" was probably removed because someone realised that under Health and Safety regulations, it wouldn't be permitted.

    Now that's a shame.

    Somebody hadn't checked out the carbon-swap rules.

    I'm always surprised that anybody paid for from the public purse is paid more than the Prime Minister. Just how many other people get to run a country?

    OK, a PM is just the leader of whichever party wins more seats. Disposable really, every 5 years max.

    EVERY CEO should be disposable every 5 years if a decent form of corporate management could have been introduced over the last 12 years... But I never expected Gordon to make the change. After all, he needed the tax-take, to spray over the long grass, so it would grow high enough to hide the awkward issues chucked its way over the years...

  • Comment number 84.

    rifle @ 57 wrote;

    I'd be amazed if even on here, a hotbed of Tory support you can get anyone to (seriously) back up your assessment of Hagues response to the Ashcroft intrview.

    But hey who knows, Sicilian perhaps, Robin probably would.

    I'd be grateful if you didn't presume to speak for me. We're discussing quangos not Lord Ashworth so kindly keep me out of your irrelevant little spat with another blogger.


  • Comment number 85.

    Nick,

    as David Mitchell so eruditely puts it:








    It just goes to show you can't be too careful!

  • Comment number 86.

    82 sicilian
    I can't understand what it is that you and Cameron have got against Carrots, he may be a Tory but he seems like a nice bloke, does this mean that you Tories are turning in on yourselves?.

  • Comment number 87.

    The Conservatives plan is to transfer policy making functions from quangos like Ofcom to the civil service. I thought they were in favour of smaller government?

    Interesting they choose to single out the media regulator.
    They obviously want government control of the media. 1984?

  • Comment number 88.

    84 Sicilian wrote

    "We're discussing quangos not Lord Ashworth so kindly keep me out of your irrelevant little spat"

    Well except at #45 it seems

    "I see a hint of criticism of David Cameron by Nick Robinson has flushed most of the Labour muppets out of their caves. davidou the teacher I see you are now using a spell checker. What you really need is a logic checker!"


    No mention of Qangos at all just a "spat" like opportunity to "name call"

    Double standards anyome?

  • Comment number 89.

    78 ER

    In answer to your question, yes. The original cuts backward and forward between face shots of Hague and Paxo, who seems to keep up a set of gruesome, clown-like facial expressions throughout. There is also a studio area shot that has been edited out.

  • Comment number 90.

    89 JRP

    But the questions and Hagues answers remain the same?

    I suggest you close your eyes and just listen rather than looking for excuses in the camera shot then if you still feel Hague was Fair, true and honest well, like I said, try to find someone (not Sicilian though) to back you up?

  • Comment number 91.

    dhw @ 87

    They obviously want government control of the media. 1984?

    a disturbing thought - Orwell's 1984 is a truly terrifying vision of what life could be like under the "wrong sort" of Conservative administration - satire, of course, but no less effective for that - a warning we should all heed, regardless of our political views or current voting intentions

  • Comment number 92.

    77 fairly..

    Yeh thanks fairly... I do understand tax, I do understand cost cutting and I can also recognise political BS when I hear it from politicians.

    Quangos and the media are popular scapegoats for the right wing and both have beeb attacked at once by Cameron and the tories today. IMO they've been trying to give 2 different impressions to 2 audiences. They are both having a bonfire of the quangos to some and a thoughtful cost cutting excercise to others. Nothing will happen. Its electioneering. Someone has to make decisions and there is often a need for impartial decision making seperated from politics.

    I'm not in a position to judge which quangos are important and which are a waste of money but at least I can admit that. Unlike some self proclaimed experts. Not you! I know all about you.





  • Comment number 93.

    More a case of seeing smoke and calling fire when it was actually fog in which we are all lost.
    The issue is we have:-

    A guango with specific real world experience, no diplomacy, no democracy

    Or

    The civil service with no worldly experience, no democracy, plenty of diplomacy

    Or

    The government little worldly experience little diplomacy lots of democracy that means they are out before they are accountable.

    So who do you want planning your future and who will make the best job of it

    Problem is we are again looking at the wrong end of the problem, what has gone wrong, we should be asking

    Are we happy with the road we are on and where it is going?

    Do we know where it is going?

    Where would we like to be going what would we like when we get there?

    If we decide first the type of socio-economic environment and community we want and the type of sustainable society that will meet the needs of the majority we can then decide on the best vehicle to get us there.

    The real problem is we need some real big CHANGE in the world starting in our society to meet the needs of people in the near future. Until we can picture and decide on what is achievable and essentially sustainable we are lost, no point building for a decade we have to design for life, or we will remain the victims of our leaders and not the supporters of them.

  • Comment number 94.

    Two bloggers trying to wind me up on the subject of William Hague. Have you not noticed one of you that I now don't respond to at all to any of your warped views on Gordon Brown and all things Labour while the other is a new addition to my ignore list! Goad as much as you like I won't be engaging in silly tit for tat exchanges and I certainly won't be responding to any of your questions.

  • Comment number 95.

    If Cameron means he will only have 17 Quangos then I would perhaps agree with him.

    We do not need most Quangos and we certainly cannot afford them, most should be abolished especially the BPC of potato heads. Quangos are just a useful tool for Government to avoid responsibility. A lot of their powers should be handed back to ministers as their decisions and services are carried out by people who cannot be voted out by the public. Their leaders are often earning fantastic salaries very often for little work and they are jobs for the boys organisations.

    Inspite of the rise of Quangos under this Government we still have massive amounts of civil servants. When the Conservatives came to office in 1979 there were 735,000 civil servants when they left office in 1997 there were 450,000 now we are back to the levels of 1979.

    On the face of it, considering our massive debt, cutting Quangos does not seem like it will save a lot of money. However I think if you dig deeper you will find that cutting these organisations will prove very profitable indeed.

    I just wish someone would get on with cutting something to stop our debt mounting up.

    Eatonrifle 57

    Nobody speaks for me, except me and that includes you, its just a pity you have not learnt to do the same as you always allow the Labour Party to speak for you.

  • Comment number 96.

    A fair article on Public Service pay by Polly Toynbee in case Darling decides that he wants to curtail independently reckoned pay awards in order to claw back some the money lost to The Treasury as a result of partial mismanagement of The Economy:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/public-sector-private-pay

  • Comment number 97.

    #77 fairlyopenmind

    You're still the most sensible and level-headed out of all the bloggers on here, great post!

    Like many others on here, I still wonder when we might see such balance, eloquence, common sense and neutrality from Mr Robinson!

  • Comment number 98.

    I find it very curious that you seem to be blaming the Tories for your reporting errors?!

    I listened to the speech and Tory HQ are quite right.

    Maybe you need to re-evaluate your sources or more importantly your reporting impartiality!



  • Comment number 99.

    96. At 07:06am on 07 Jul 2009, sicilian29 wrote:
    A fair article on Public Service pay by Polly Toynbee in case Darling decides that he wants to curtail independently reckoned pay awards in order to claw back some the money lost to The Treasury as a result of partial mismanagement of The Economy:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/public-sector-private-pay

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks for the link Sicilian... I don't usualy agree with Polly but she has seen the light recently. A superb article that as the word in the title suggests blows the myths created with regards the public sector

  • Comment number 100.

    95 Susan

    Cameron is saying 17 "New" quangos MOT 17 in total!!

    That would be an extra 17??

    Keep up Susan.

 

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