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What's the Big Idea?

Nick Robinson | 10:09 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Can you remember a Queen's Speech? Not the Royal carriages or the ermine and tiaras or Black Rod having the door slammed in his face. The speech itself. No, not sure I can either.

Queen's Speech being read out in House of LordsEvery government tries to write a narrative to connect the 20 or more disparate pieces of legislation which Her Majesty announces. Every government fails to make that narrative stick in the mind.

This time round the themes are freedom, fairness, responsibility. Not memorable but revealing nevertheless. "Freedom" is the word this coalition feels it can unite around. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are anti what they call "the Big State" - whether it's issuing ID cards or a prescriptive curriculum. "Fairness" is Nick Clegg's favourite word and "responsibility" David Cameron's.

What this Queen's Speech won't tell you is how they'll resolve the inevitable tension between those three words.

Take the public services. The Tory guiding principle here is to harness consumer power. Look at schools. Their belief/hope is that once more schools are allowed to become academies and, therefore, free from much local council control and once new so-called "free schools" are created then competition for the custom of parents will encourage innovation and drive up standards in education.

So, too by allowing patients and their GPs to deploy the money which will be spent on their care in the NHS.

In welfare and prisons, private companies, charities and other local bodies will be paid by results for what they do - again, it's argued, encouraging innovation and improving results. All this can be defended on the grounds that it will give greater freedom and responsibility to those running public services and the users of them.

However, critics will be quick to point out that it may lead to bigger differences between good and bad public services - that term "two-tier" will no doubt return to the political lexicon. They will argue that de-centralised services often waste money - on, for example, high salaries in academies and foundation hospitals - and siphon it away from poor areas to richer ones.

Thus, promises of freedom and responsibility may soon clash with that promise of fairness. This government will be defined not by the list of bills it publishes but how and whether its competing aims can be reconciled.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick

    However, critics will be quick to point out that it may lead to bigger differences between good and bad public services - that term "two-tier" will no doubt return to the political lexicon.

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

    Labour and old socialist thinking people who spent all of the money on stupid level after level of bureaucracy will use this term.

    There is another term that rings true and this is the reason for the change.

    BOG STANDARD

    Labours way of dragging everything down to BOG STANDARD instead of encouraging high flyer's.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick

    Thus, promises of freedom and responsibility may soon clash with that promise of fairness.

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

    What is 'fair' about holding back the best?

    It probably fits in with the 'Progressive' thinking that has run us into the ground.

    For me the 'Progressive' thinking is just another term for failure, debt, irresponsibility, Bust, all fronted by a kindness facade.

    But in the end totally destructive.

  • Comment number 3.

    A massive public debt and ALL we got was BOG STANDARD. A truely criminal affence

  • Comment number 4.

    I know you need to feed the voracious maw of the BBC news Nick, but this harping on about the possible differences between the Conservatives and the LibDems is getting a bit monotonous ...

  • Comment number 5.

    The fairness issue is just a red herring. Many aspects of life aren't 'fair' - but that just depends on your perspective. To the idle poor, it's not fair because someone else has a job, or that they have more money. To the successful, it's not fair that so many sponge off the state.

    What, to me, is fair is that we each have some chance of achieving something in our lives, and if we choose not to take whatever oportunities we can make for ourselves, then we have only ourselves to blame. And if the new government manages to enable that to happen, then it will have made progress in addressing some of the wrongs of the last 13 years.

  • Comment number 6.

    Been there, done that. Applying market forces to public services was a failure last time and it will fail again. Only now, with a double-dip recession on the way and even less funding available, the results are likely to be catastrophic for the most vulnerable.

  • Comment number 7.

    What I find interesting is that all you hacks are having to talk policy now rather than just spreading Westminster Village gossip. Must be quite a shock to you all.

  • Comment number 8.

    I want to echo Conedia (5)

  • Comment number 9.

    Old and New Labour are dead as are Unions. I myself look forward to the next five years and really hope that the coalition will work and will change politics and the way Government works.

    It won't be easy, but things have to change and Labour being tied so closely to the unions is not the way forward.

  • Comment number 10.

    Following your comment about "paid by results", it's interesting to consider that any form of meritocracy, where the achievers receive and the non-achiever's don't, will naturally result in two-tiers.

    First you start large scale such as offices of government etc, and then it goes further down the food-chain until you get to Joe Public.

    At which point there will always be some who can and some who can't.

    I think this will be a huge stumbling block for a Conservative-lead government wishing to keep its core support happy... as it means that the only way fairness can be created is for the achievers success to fund the non-achievers perceived "inadequacies".

    And this does not strike me as a core principle of the Tories...whether as a coalition or not.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm not convinced that 'two tier' is the big issue.

    For me the big issue is the sheer administrative complexity and hence cost of 'purchaser/provider' schemes.

    Picture the NHS. At one time a relatively compact DoH would give a hospital a wad of money once per year. The hospital, mostly clinicians, went ahead and decided how to spend it. Not perfect but simple.

    Early nineties and the tories bring in an 'internal market.' Dozens of purchasers buy services off the hospital. The hospital employs an army of accountants and administrators to keep track of it all. Each of the purchasers employs another small army.

    Thats how we got to an NHS with more administrators than doctors.

    So now the 'efficiency' coalition is wanting to break it down to the level of individual people having money and buying individual services? At the same time as we are supposed to be having fewer administrators and accountants?

    Who will be doing all this bureacracy - the doctors and nurses?

    (Ditto schools etc etc)

  • Comment number 12.

    I liked the bit about co-determination of treatment with the your GP. Well that in part depends on the GP having enough budget to do what you ask. But it also depends on the patient, articulate, middle class like me who managed to spend about four times what ought to have cost on some diagnosis and treatment. If you click on my user name you will find the account posted on Stephnie's blog comments yesterday.

    The policy of co determination was implemented by Labour!!

    And the acute sector of the NHS was cut by 8% in May 2009 by freezing expenditure. This is what I expect (as an ex school governor) local authorities will do to schools. Expenditure per pupil various quite widely The government does not control how education money is spent on the 'front line.' or for the most part in Foundation Hospitals and doctors surgeries.

    And of course the fortnightly dustbin collection will be introduced more widely cutting payments to the contractors who will reduce their staff and making even bigger headlines in the Daily Mail.

    Finally can the Cameroon attack dogs on here stop fighting the last election.


  • Comment number 13.

    At 11:31am on 25 May 2010, conedia wrote:

    The fairness issue is just a red herring. Many aspects of life aren't 'fair' - but that just depends on your perspective. To the idle poor, it's not fair because someone else has a job, or that they have more money. To the successful, it's not fair that so many sponge off the state.

    What, to me, is fair is that we each have some chance of achieving something in our lives, and if we choose not to take whatever oportunities we can make for ourselves, then we have only ourselves to blame. And if the new government manages to enable that to happen, then it will have made progress in addressing some of the wrongs of the last 13 years.

    Totally agree!

  • Comment number 14.

    Well I guess we've spotted the BBC's big idea, 'Keep digging for differences!'
    Like the old government, this has become a bit tedious. How about just reporting the news instead of trying to create it? Now that would be a Big Idea!

  • Comment number 15.

    they can unite around these five words contained within the Queen's speech "the repeal of unnecessary laws" ... sufficiently broad brush to mean anything the newlabour legislating machine brought in during the last thirteen wasted years.

    newlabour have keft the building...

  • Comment number 16.

    In the current cuts, will the government be harming or even discriminating against those with disabilities? I hope not... as stated, "This time round the themes are freedom, fairness, responsibility." An example - Becta is to be axed (which I dont have an opinion on, either way), how will this impact the not-yet-awarded Assistive Technology Equipment Supply (ATES) contract to provide Home Access packages to those with disabilities AND low incomes?

    If ATES was axed, this would be direct discrimination of those with disabilities, versus those children who have already received their Home Access packages (handled under a simpler, hence more expedited procedure that went 'live' before the election). Children with disabilities still haven't received their Home Access systems, as their disabilities need to be addressed with speciailist equipment for them to use the systems, hence the separate ATES supply contract.

    I await with concern and enormous interest to see what the Cabinet decides in favour of awarding this very important ATES contract, which will demonstrate how fair and responsible our new government really is... I hope it makes the right decision.

  • Comment number 17.

    "However, critics will be quick to point out that it may lead to bigger differences between good and bad public services - that term "two-tier" will no doubt return to the political lexicon. They will argue that de-centralised services often waste money - on, for example, high salaries in academies and foundation hospitals - and siphon it away from poor areas to richer ones."

    They, i.e. Labour and many in the public sector, no doubt will argue that, but the argument is nonsense.

    Firstly, we already have regional differences in levels of service and provision, after decades of the NHS and state-run education.

    Secondly, why wouldn't or shouldn't we, and how could we avoid them anyway?

    The critic's argument might sound appealing, but will only ever mean cloying centralism, and uniformly low standards across the public sector.

    Just like Labour, then, really.

  • Comment number 18.

    7. At 11:39am on 25 May 2010, APbbforum wrote:
    What I find interesting is that all you hacks are having to talk policy now rather than just spreading Westminster Village gossip. Must be quite a shock to you all.

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

    This should be printed and framed in every newsroom in the land, for the gross dereliction of duty in reporting standards over the last 13 years. A classic comment.

  • Comment number 19.

    Strange isn't it that critics of de-centralisation seem quite happy to see devolved powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

  • Comment number 20.

    The terrible twins will give power to the people and take away the resources! Clegg seems very comfortable with Cameron and I was a fool to vote Lib - Dems.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a former Labour voter, I now vote for the SNP, what I will be interested in seeing is what the Government will say if following all these cuts the country enters into a double dip recession, thus proving the Labour administration correct, given that the most recent figures show a small (0.3%) increase in growth for the last 3 months

  • Comment number 22.

    Nick

    If we continue to attempt to be sceptical about everything that the new coallition try to achieve then we will end up with the Government we deserve rather than the government we need!

  • Comment number 23.

    I just wonder how the Tory Back benches will react in 3 years time when the madrassas are staring to appear as "free schools" - free of control. But then I am against religious schools of any sort!

  • Comment number 24.

    Within the "Fairness" agenda where is the missing piece of legislation that curbs public sector pensions so that those of us in the private sector, who's personal pensions go up and down at the whim of those "children" in the financial markets, don't wind up paying so much of our tax to pay for the feather bedded former public employees in retirement.

    A level playing field where we all suffer the personal pension system is all I ask.

  • Comment number 25.

    Whatever its challenges, thank heaven the government is getting to grip with the legacy of waste and debt left by arrogant Brown.

    While he tours the lecture circuit, unfortunate public services workers are having to pay the price for the reckless spending decisions of the Labour government & their union paymasters.

  • Comment number 26.

    I really need to reply to #11 and anyone that thinks that hospitals employ more administrators to track the hospitals than they employ clinicians to treat patients. I am sick of this one dimensional viewpoint. I work in a hospital which employs about 10 accountants of various responsibility and 4 data analysts. we are overworked, undervalued and sick to death of being typecast as the problem of the NHS.

    Accountants in hospitals earn a fraction of the equivalent in the private sector, most are just happy to have a job in the present climate. There is little money about for personal development so, as an analyst/programmer I have to use my money and my own time to update my skills.

    Please could the public stop believing the bilge that is fed them about admin in the NHS. Most are ward clerks/clinic receptionists who get paid less than 15k per year and who work damn hard for it. We are all overworked and underpaid compared to the equivalent job in the glorious private sector, even after pay cuts.

    Something else to note - The NHS received a pay deal of 6% over 3 years (2% per year). As inflation is above 2% we ARE taking real term pay cuts so you can all stop moaning about the Public sector not contributing in that way too!

  • Comment number 27.

    "This government will be defined not by the list of bills it publishes but how and whether its competing aims can be reconciled. "

    Personally, I think this government will be defined by whether it gets the public finances back into shape without destroying the economy in the process.

  • Comment number 28.

    anyone seen gordon brown ?

  • Comment number 29.

    #19
    And why were the Tories so critical of devolution in the first instance?

  • Comment number 30.

    "This government will be defined not by the list of bills it publishes but how and whether its competing aims can be reconciled. "

    Nick I suppose I am a cynic who laughs when the public finds inter party politics too aggressive and vicious and precarious.

    That is because intra party politics are exponentially worse.

    Consider the war of the Blairites and Brownites that the Labour Party lost.

    Major and his Euro sceptics before the Tory wilderness years.

    It should be a walk in the park in general as there are clear National Interest issues like an Everest debt mountain as the Independent showed on their front page and such problems have to concentrate minds.

    These aren't people deluded by their own publicity who are running up the debts in their favourite restaurant running up a large bill on a credit card as Labour frivolously did.

    These are the people who have to pay the bill and get the washing up done in the restaurant kitchen before the police get there.

    Fear concentrates minds.

  • Comment number 31.

    13#

    Well said Conedia. Some socialist will no doubt appear and decry you as a heartless tory baby eating facist running dog, but... whadda they know?

  • Comment number 32.

    How much did all this ceremonial cost? If the country is so broke that I have to lose my job to help repay the debt then perhaps the first cut the Government should have made is in all this unnecessary pomp and dressing up. Would it really make any difference if the Queen drove up in a car and addressed the two Houses in a dress and hat? Can't help thinking it made us look incredibly archaic and out of touch.

  • Comment number 33.

    re pensions , people in local government pay into a pension fund whilst working and on retirement receive a pension which is funded by the people still working in local government and by investing in various equities and busineses

  • Comment number 34.

    #20 never vote tactically vote for what you want, PR is going to be interesting then, Or is it people want PR just to stop the Tories forming a governement ?

  • Comment number 35.

    #21 the double dip Recession was asured by GB with his mountain of debt, question is will we get

    a DD followed by recovery or
    b long stagnation and then final decline ?

  • Comment number 36.

    #4 Brian_NE37
    '...harping on about the possible differences between the Conservatives and the LibDems is getting a bit monotonous ...'
    Not possible differences, differences. Capish?

  • Comment number 37.

    Portcullisgate plainly has a special pair of spectacles. Labour actually introduced foundation hospitals & academies. "Bog standard" was old Labour - actually New Labour differed remarkably little from what the Coalition is proposing. I accept that their response to terrorism & perceptions of crime was probably OTT, but one reason why they centralised was the complaints from many people that decentralisation caused "post code lotteries" for Government services. The problem is people want choice & freedom - but they also want the best - universally. No Government so far has managed to reconcile these, so we swing from one side to the other. Not surprisingly the Conservatives (no doubt including Portcullisgate) don't maind "post code lottery" because it generally favours the better off - but if Clegg really believes in fairness, he's going to face an awkward dilemma if that is the result of the policies he is currently espousing. You also need to ask yourself if "bog standard" actually raises standards overall, it isn't better for our society in the long run than an oiutcome in which a minority do well but the rest fall behind.

  • Comment number 38.

    Just wait until this batch of Captains Of Politics get really started! You ain't seen nothing yet..........the naive masses still don't get it, and I fear never will! We have a divided country and people, none of the 2 flavour of the month Captains at the helm give me any confidence!

  • Comment number 39.

    Re: Portcullis' comment on 'Bog Standard'.
    I was struck by the irony of a post which championed excellence managed to mis-spell 'fliers'. Best of luck with the free skools!

  • Comment number 40.

    Love it. you're getting all hot and bothered trying to find differences between the two parts of the government.

    They exist. We all know they exist. The voters knew they would exist when they determined that the next government would have to be a collaboration. Had the Lib Dems and Labour been able to form a viable coalition, I'm sure you'd be busy highlighting differenecs there.

    So, please, instead of trying to draw up the political agenda for the next 6 months, let's look at what has to happen now. Business in the HoP will be quite interesting as the bills are steadily presented. Some abolition type bills will be up before some of the other legislation is prepared, plus of course we have the emergency budget to look forward to.

    For the sake of those who still keep their eyes firmly screwed shut so they can avoid what is happeming elsewhere, markets are still trending lower, the euro is weakening while the dollar gets a bit stronger, banks are failing in other countries despite bail outs from the state, everybody else is cutting back on their deficits, volunmtarily or otherwise, and there is political uncertainty evrywhere in the world where we might be seeking to do business.

    Fortunatley we have got rid of the dead hand that was on our steering wheel, and we are steadily heading for happier times.

    Yippee.

  • Comment number 41.

    28#

    No, thank Christ, and we'd like to keep it that way as well. Havent you noticed the sun has been out a lot more since he left?

  • Comment number 42.

    Something else to note - The NHS received a pay deal of 6% over 3 years (2% per year). As inflation is above 2% we ARE taking real term pay cuts so you can all stop moaning about the Public sector not contributing in that way too!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What was inflation when that deal was agreed???

  • Comment number 43.

    @realityleak - 26.

    I sympathise with you: people like you and your colleagues are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    As an accountant, perhaps you can shed some light on where all the money has actually gone? The NHS budget is over £100bn. If they are not even paying you and your colleagues properly, where does it typically go?

  • Comment number 44.

    I work in a hospital which employs about 10 accountants of various responsibility and 4 data analysts. we are overworked, undervalued and sick to death of being typecast as the problem of the NHS.

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

    TEN accountants, for ONE hospital???

    Did they really need 10??? Madness.

  • Comment number 45.

    If I hear another ConDem lacky on TV mislead us by justify the 55% vote by comparing Parliament with The Scottish Parliament I'm going to go mad.The Scottish Parliament is very limited in its powers,It cannot start War,vote on the death penalty,raises tax's etc.It is not a direct comparison so stop doing it.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Big Idea? It is the ConDems phrase for passing the buck. The usual Tory tactic for saving face with the public in advance, and for misleading the voters with this unelected coalition when they file for divorce in several months.

  • Comment number 47.

    The start to dealing with the deficit begind with an ancient and mickey mouse charade of the Queens speach. Better to save the money and let the old girl continue on her holiday.No more this ancient out of touch rubbish. If the Uk is a modern democracy let us prove it by abandoning the pageant we can no longer afford.

    As to the content lets be clear, life is not always fair. If that is news to people OK but get used to it.

    In terms of differences between the coalition partners - please lets move on they are a government now. I'm interested in how, with least personal pain to my family and myself, this lot of politicians are going to prove themselves better than the last lot who got us into this mess.

  • Comment number 48.

    Words have no meaning in governments. No one wants clarity as that would require accountability. The canundrun for goverments is use ethereal terms that sound assertive to the listener but can be later re-stated without the assumption of a previous dishonesty. Political speeches are like banking regulations, they sound forceful but are actually hollow.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick

    You look tired and need a break from political correspondence. Labour did not encourage the best and brought every public service to BOG STANDARD.

  • Comment number 50.

    26 "Something else to note - The NHS received a pay deal of 6% over 3 years (2% per year)."

    Good for you.

    I've had a pay freeze for the last two years.

    But then, I'm in the private sector.

  • Comment number 51.

    Where is Gordon Brown - The Comeback Kid

    Now is your chance

  • Comment number 52.

    What differences between the Lib/Dems and Tories do you foresee Nick? There will be none, the Lib/Dems might make indignant noises now and again, but now they've got a wee sniff of power, nothing short of armageddon will tempt them to rock the boat. Principles, especially Lib/Dem ones are soon forgotten when fingers in the pie are at stake.

  • Comment number 53.

    #26 reslity check: "There is little money about for personal development so, as an analyst/programmer I have to use my money and my own time to update my skills."

    Just like I did through the 70s, 80s & 90s as a teacher?

    I grieve for you ... not!

  • Comment number 54.

    26. At 12:56pm on 25 May 2010, realityleak

    Flip side to my comment about purchaser/provider markets in health increasing the need for administration - I actually agree with part of what you are saying.

    I whole heartedly agree that Bertie Wooster can not just cut the admin support in the NHS. The systems - origninally set up by the tories -DEMAND those staff to adminster them. I know you guys are not sat there doing nothing.

    If they reduce admin support and at the same time actually go further into purchaser/provider funding then the result will be disastrous - presumably clinicians having to take on more of the admin work.


    (However if you think all the admin at the trusts, the PCTs, the SHAs etc etc does not add up to many times what hospitals had in the 1980s, I'm afraid I would have to disagree)

  • Comment number 55.

    36#

    {Pedant head on}

    You mean "capice".... Italian for "you understand?"

    Si?

    {Pedant head off}

  • Comment number 56.

    Under the Labour administration, we were drifting towards overwhelming state control of the minutiae of our lives. We know what's good for you, these apparatchiks claimed. Whatever the inherent tensions within the new government, I believe that the new Coalition will arrest and reverse this insidious trend. In the interests of "balance" Nick is obliged to chip away, to find cracks, to criticise; he cannot be seen to praise.

    Nick is always very civilised in his approach, unlike the vituperative interview with David Laws which I happen to see on a rival TV channel.

    Another contributor summed it up: "What, to me, is fair is that we each have some chance of achieving something in our lives, and if we choose not to take whatever oportunities we can make for ourselves, then we have only ourselves to blame. And if the new government manages to enable that to happen, then it will have made progress in addressing some of the wrongs of the last 13 years."

    As a "liberal" Conservative, the Coalition is for me the very best outcome of the Election. I was "over the moon"! Let's hope that we can all work to get the country back on track.


  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    School achievements are not low because they're not independent. When they're low it's because a stubborn minority of parents don't encourage their children's learning. It's an old problem here and in many other countries too. And boys are much more susceptible to low achievement than girls. It's the biggest problem in education: how to raise the learning of the under-achievers?
    Academies will not solve that low-achievement problem. Children with inadequate parental support won't be sent to academies: they'll end up in the remaining schools where the predominant ethos will be for under-achievement.
    Truth is, hardly anyone cares about low-achievers. Yet we can't get rid of them. And their low standards of education will costs both them, and the rest of us, dearly for the remainder of their under-achieving lives.
    Now if ambitious parents could be rewarded for recruiting under-achievers into their academies, perhaps they'd have to bother with them. But that's unlikely.

  • Comment number 59.

    2. At 10:43am on 25 May 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:
    "What is 'fair' about holding back the best?"

    Ahh, but who defines the best? Is is well off kids who live in an area with a well funded academy.

    I was the 'best' and am now top of my career tree, but due to childhood poverty it took me a decade longer to sort my life out. We've already had people on here cheering the comments about the 'idle poor', so even 25 years later I hold little hope of change for those from backgrounds such as mine.



  • Comment number 60.

    In response to comment 24 - I thought the reason that the public sector especially the nhs have good pensions is that they do not get paid appropriately for the difficulty of the job they do

  • Comment number 61.

    "46. At 1:53pm on 25 May 2010, Jawboneofanass wrote:
    The Big Idea? It is the ConDems phrase for passing the buck."

    That'll be the 'buck' firmly in Labour's camp for having made a shambles of the economy.

    For all the guff about the banking crisis, I wonder if anyone has done the sums on how much Labour raked in from banking profits in the good years. Maybe if they had put some of that aside instead of whizzing it up against the wall of their idiotic spending plans, we wouldn't be in this mess.

  • Comment number 62.

    47. At 1:58pm on 25 May 2010, DibbySpot wrote:
    "..lets be clear, life is not always fair. If that is news to people OK but get used to it."

    As an advanced civilization in the 21st century, we've moved on from survival of the fittest and therefore should strive to ensure that life IS fair.

    So no thanks, I'll not 'get used to it', and continue to fight for those less fortunate than myself.

  • Comment number 63.

    beesamen 14

    "Well I guess we've spotted the BBC's big idea, 'Keep digging for differences!'
    Like the old government, this has become a bit tedious. How about just reporting the news instead of trying to create it? Now that would be a Big Idea!"

    Well said.

    Increasingly, BBC news is driven by its own agenda. Most days, the 'news' is led by the 'big story' if there is one, and some report or other saying Britain's crap.

    Listen to Today over the course of any given week, and you'll see what I mean.

    As for the political news, it seems to focus on the moment on finding dissent within the Coalition. Regarding cuts, most coverage involves asking people with a vested interest in the status quo saying why there shouldn't be any cuts.

    One prime example is the Child Trust Fund - I've heard its defenders say that getting rid of it is bad for the poor. I've not heard anyone challenge those people, pointing out the way that this and other measures have created and fed the benefits-dependency which will result in greater poverty in future.

    I'm against the CTF mainly because I don't see why the govt should steal my hard-earned money to give to the feckless, but also because I see people producing kids they've no means or intention of supporting. Those kids will grow up in benefits dependency, and be tomorrow's poor.

    Classic case of misguided middle-class champagne socialists who've never set foot in a council estate or worked in the private sector, creating counter-productive policies which steal from the hard-working and subsidise the feckless.

  • Comment number 64.

    Was this blog necessary? I didn't get any new information at all here.

  • Comment number 65.

    Why do the people of this country always want to believe that "management functions" such as accountancy in the public sector is waste? and never complain about the same functions in the private sector. I am married to a banker - you want to see real waste!

  • Comment number 66.

    46. At 1:53pm on 25 May 2010, Jawboneofanass wrote:

    The Big Idea? It is the ConDems phrase for passing the buck. The usual Tory tactic for saving face with the public in advance, and for misleading the voters with this unelected coalition when they file for divorce in several months.

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

    While Labour leaves office every time with

    "I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left"

    Who was the cause of the pain to come


    LABOUR

  • Comment number 67.


    The Tories are continuing to pursue a con. Schools will not be free and neither will choice be available for all. If, and it's a big if, this ConDem coalition survives then at least we be able to see the evidence for their education policies- greater involvement of the private sector in education. Let's get beyond the rhetoric and let's look at the results as they unfold. Let's face it - Conservative County Councillors, who chair Education Committees, are against Gove's ideas.And they are hardly known for their radicalism - are they?

  • Comment number 68.

    #44 Gerry Mandering
    'TEN accountants, for ONE hospital???'

    (Some of our hospitals are quite big Gezza.)

  • Comment number 69.

    39. At 1:29pm on 25 May 2010, Patrick Cox w

    Address the issue. If you can.
    BOG STANDARD was a term used by your own spin master Campbell.

  • Comment number 70.

    37. At 1:26pm on 25 May 2010, lacplesis37 wrote

    Portcullisgate plainly has a special pair of spectacles.

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

    No I have lived through 2 Labour disasters that fooled people into thinking that the party could go on forever but the reality was they had just been setup for big fall.

    Also please cut the inverted snob **** I served my time on the shop floor under a closed shop so keep your prejudices to yourself.

  • Comment number 71.

    The 'Big Idea' that will slowly sink in, is that forty years after Shirley Williams and Tony Crossland fire-bombed the grammar schools we now have both a government and an opposition full of ex public schoolboys.

    See the latest from newlabour land where there is already a backlash againts the privately educated Ed Balls.... http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/3038

    There is a grim realisation that forty years on the state system has been unable to shape up and provide a good quality education.... and worse has made it easier still for parents with money to make sure their children do well and better than their state supported peers.

    Axing child trust funds will do nothing; but excluding 93% from the race to the top because of a rubbish comprehensive system unable to provide us with leaders is the greatest gift the left have given to the right, and those who choose to pay for their childrens education. They have excluded thousands per year who could have benefitted from more intensive grammar school type training.

    As usual with left wing political ideology; the complete reverse of the outcome they desired has been achieved. The left has made it easier for the privately educated to get ahead of their peers in the state sector.

    We shall doubtless uncover thousands of these types of stories as time goes by - socialism is a controlling agenda and the more you try to control something the harder it gets until... you are achieving the opposite outcome to that desired.

    Newlabour have left the building...

  • Comment number 72.

    51. At 2:10pm on 25 May 2010, onebadmouse wrote:

    Where is Gordon Brown - The Comeback Kid

    Now is your chance....

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

    Yep.... just stand still in the cross hairs for long enough!!

  • Comment number 73.

    54#

    "presumably clinicians having to take on more of the admin work."

    Yeah. Imagine how hard that must be for a clinician on 100K a year, no weekends, no night duty, having to send his/her own emails.....

    Poor dears.... Dunno how they'd cope.

  • Comment number 74.

    Nick.
    Is the BBC in general and its 'correspondents' (see opinionated bloggers) so lacking in political objectivity that it has the new government set up for a fall before it happens?
    Perhaps if you and your colleagues read page two of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines on a weekly basis, we might have the professionalism the BBC was once famous for. Here it is (I've highlighted the important bit in full caps):
    "Truth and accuracy
    We strive to be accurate and establish the truth of what has happened. Accuracy is more important than speed and it is often more than a question of getting the facts right. We will weigh all relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language.
    We will be honest and open about what we don't know AND AVOID UNFOUNDED SPECULATION."

    Stick to the facts please Nick.

  • Comment number 75.

    Difficult to see how the two coalition parties can possibly agree on education. The Lib Dems committed themselves to withdrawing state funding from any school which failed, within five years, to end selection by ability, aptitude or religion. This specific commitment, written in their endorsement of "Equity and Excellence" at their 2009 conference, was shortened/fudged in their manifesto into the requirement for a plan from such schools for "inclusivity" within five years. I can't imagine the Tories scrapping existing grammar schools or faith schools which allow family religious background to play a part in the admissions process, so possibly this will be another area where the "national interest" will induce the LDs to change their policy, or reinterpret it in the light of suddenly-discovered new facts!

    Like Labour, the LDs were committed, in their manifesto, to one-to-one tuition for pupils falling behind. Another commitment which will have to bite the dust for lack of money and one to which the Tories were never committed to anyway.

    Creating more academies is academic. Easier just to continue what Labour had already embarked upon (and not before time); freeing up schools more in terms of curriculum etc. It would be simpler and less expensive. An "academy" only has other advantages if it has a great injection of extra funding and even then it may not work. "Academy"?? A rose by any other name.....! And if it does have extra money, what are the implications for other schools in the locality?

    The "free school" idea is similarly flawed. It will be divisive in the extreme. In the end, "bog-standard" comprehensive schools will fall into Churchill's "net below which none can fall" because all the other schools will have extra funding. That's what Tory "diversity" and "choice" (a transparent lie, that last one) amount to.

    On the other hand, Labour has allowed a hotch-potch of provision to continue to exist in many places, thus ensuring that in some of our cities there are so many schools allowed to operate some sort of selection that the remaining comprehensives are not fully comprehensive at all. After years of total lack of financial support from a Tory government, Labour finally provided appropriate funding for building and other school necessities, but it wasted money on quangos, obstructive bureaucracy for schools, hugely expensive initiatives which were often only partially effective (at best), unsound inspection methods and misleading data. It also allowed a glut of primary school teachers to be trained recently, at huge cost. Many of these are now unemployed, at least as teachers.

    None of the parties seems to be capable of adopting a fair and intelligent approach to education, and it looks as though the Condem's contribution to the education of our children will be as unfair as anything that has gone before.

    Nickndave won't care because, even if they choose to eschew their own highly privileged education for their own kids, they will find the means to ensure that they are accepted at exceptionally successful state-funded schools, as did Blair.


  • Comment number 76.

    Never mind all this pomp and ceremony for a Government which is doomed to fail.

    Is nobody else concerned by the illegal arrest of Brian Haws this morning?
    A man who's protest has been legitimised by the highest court in the land has been arrested without the knowledge of the land owners - the GLC.

    Are you all going to sit around and wait until it's you that's arrested for speaking you mind? By that time it will be too late.

    So much for 'free and fair' and the 'good of the country' all this coallition has done since bartering it's way to power is:

    a) Tell us how these cuts are 'in our best interests'
    b) Tell us how that whilst 'far apart' during pre-election they now find they are 'almost in agreement' now that they're in.
    c) Try to change the law to make it harder for them to be thrown out.
    d) Allowed the illegal arrest of a long time protestor who the Government was told by the High court to leave alone.

    If you cannot see the problem in these actions - then I'm afraid you're already enslaved.

    The rest of us will be planning - for we do not hand over our freedoms in such a blase manner and we will not have them taken by force.

  • Comment number 77.

    50. At 2:10pm on 25 May 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    "I've had a pay freeze for the last two years.

    But then, I'm in the private sector. "

    ...or just not very productive because you spend all day on Nick Robinsons blog.

  • Comment number 78.

    At 11:50am on 25 May 2010, Clive Sinclair wrote:
    Old and New Labour are dead as are Unions. I myself look forward to the next five years and really hope that the coalition will work and will change politics and the way Government works.

    It won't be easy, but things have to change and Labour being tied so closely to the unions is not the way forward.

    If it wasn't for the 'Unions' you would be working a 100 hour week with no holidays (if you had a job at all) no health and safety, under the thumb of the 'Bosses' et al. Come on live in the real World, big business shouldn't be allowed to make profits from the sick, elderly and the poor. The Tories and Lib Dems don't like public service they are the two dirty words in their dogmatic vocabulary. The believe that Public services costs money and doesn't make a profit so should be done away with. Shame on them.

  • Comment number 79.

    onebadmouse 51

    'Where is Gordon Brown - The Comeback Kid

    Now is your chance'

    I think you'll find he had his chance, and spent it buggering everything up.

  • Comment number 80.

    leftie. So parents are to blame? It has nothing to do with the regime that has been in place for the previous 13 years? Your vision is about as broad as those members of unite sat in a meeting telling the world what was going on.......and your recall as good as Gordon Brown's recollections on Defence spending.....

  • Comment number 81.

    Every Reporter or TV corsepondent is waiting for a dissagreement within the coalition . This will happen in the same way it has done with every goverment we have had . The fact that this Queens speach is a mix of ideas will be no different . I watched Tessa Jowel whining today about every aspect of each bill and her message was old/new Liebour the state should do everything . Both the Tory and Libdem had differing views in certain areas but agreed that this was the time for GROWN UPS to try and do things together . Lets give them a chance instead of trying to look for differences.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ #5 conedia

    Here here.

  • Comment number 83.

    If I hear another ConDem lacky on TV mislead us by justify the 55% vote by comparing Parliament with The Scottish Parliament I'm going to go mad.The Scottish Parliament is very limited in its powers,It cannot start War,vote on the death penalty,raises tax's etc.It is not a direct comparison so stop doing it.

    Very true to me it's a sign of how desperate both parties are at keeping hold of power,the old system worked very well for a long time but no cam the man and his soon to be tory mate clegg(wait and see)are grimly going to hold on to power,for the good of the country and stable goverenment,blah,blah.

    As for the rest of the speech its all a bit neutral to me i wonder what a solely Tory speech would have looked like?and in some of its more tory aspects i cant help feeling i've seen similar sorts of policys tried by the major govenment all those years ago

  • Comment number 84.

    This is by no means the first time that a government has proclaimed that it has an idea that will allow it to improve public services like education and the NHS without spending extra money. It has never worked. What is surprising that there are still so many people prepared to believe that it will work this time.

    The simple fact is that these services depend on the skill and dedication of the people who work in them, and we will never have enough of them to provide uniformly good services, unless we are prepared to recruit them in large enough numbers and give them competitive pay and conditions.

    Particularly damaging is the threat to pensions. The money spent on pensions in the public services gives particularly good value for money. Private companies have to fund their pension schemes and as a result cannot compete with the public services in this area. This is one of the reasons why many highly qualified professionals continue to work in the public sector, even though they could earn more in the private sector.

  • Comment number 85.

    #45 markdpryan "If I hear another ConDem lacky on TV mislead us by justify the 55% vote by comparing Parliament with The Scottish Parliament I'm going to go mad.The Scottish Parliament is very limited in its powers,It cannot start War,vote on the death penalty,raises tax's etc.It is not a direct comparison so stop doing it."

    Actually Scotland can raise taxes, and Westminster couldn't vote on the death penalty without potentially breaking a whole raft of international agreements (which no-one is about to let happen any time soon).

    In the absence of any other data, the 55% threshold proposed for dissolution of the UK Parliament *is* comparable to the 66% threshold for dissolution of the Scottish Parliament. Votes of confidence remain unchanged, requiring a 50%+1 threshold as before, so a Government can still fall on a simple majority vote.

    But what is not yet clear is what happens if no alternative Government can be formed to replace it, yet not enough MPs vote for dissolution. The devil will be in the detail, and the Government hasn't exactly been forthcoming with any detail.

    It's also not immediately obvious that there are any constitutionally sound long-term grounds for this 55% figure. As a number of pundits have noted, such a figure appears to suit the short-term electoral arithmetic, and would have been too low to prevent Blair or Brown (for instance) from going to the country early in any event.

    #46 Jawboneofanass "The usual Tory tactic for saving face with the public in advance, and for misleading the voters with this unelected coalition when they file for divorce in several months."

    If I have to hear another person go on about "unelected coalition", I think I'll scream. Don't you understand our constitution? We do not live under a Presidential system; we do not elect a Government! We elect members to the Commons in *Parliament*, and the person who can command the confidence of the Commons generally gets to form a Government. That's the way it works. It's the way it's always worked. This Government is just as "elected" as any that has preceded it.

    #52 kaybraes "What differences between the Lib/Dems and Tories do you foresee Nick? There will be none, the Lib/Dems might make indignant noises now and again, but now they've got a wee sniff of power, nothing short of armageddon will tempt them to rock the boat. Principles, especially Lib/Dem ones are soon forgotten when fingers in the pie are at stake."

    Ooh, someone's bitter.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Consumer power"? Any chance, Nick, we could stop talking about people in terms of 'consumers', as if public services were shops? How about 'citizens'?

  • Comment number 87.

    Her Majesty mentioned the immigration cap. That is the biggest issue which voters were concerned about.

    That is truly a result. Now, hopefully people will LISTEN to concerns of ordinary voters when they say their neighbourhoods have been changed beyond all recognition, in many cases creating slums and ghettos which is not the English way of living. Along with that travesty is the fact that many schools are now overrun with foreign children which is causing problems for the English children who dearly want to get on and do well but are being restricted due to this.


    Also the hospitals which are in some cases mainly staffed by foreigners and mainly treating foreign patients - again who cannot speak English.

    I have seen all the above and it saddens me greatly.

    Let's hope the great Coalition government headed by David Cameron in whom I have every faith (he's doing a job which many would run a mile from) can get us all back on track again socially AND economically.

    If I'd wanted to have the country which Labour imposed upon me I'd have gone and lived in the third world. I did not.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick, Labour still haven't got it have they!!

    Deputy Harman, like a failing addict or alcoholic, knows she needs to stop now but will only promise to start cutting back sometime soon.

    Families from all corners of the UK, and wider afield, have already gone "cold turkey" on their overspending but Labour's death cry is "just one more for the road"

  • Comment number 89.

    It's a little bit simple to talk about fairness and sharing the pain and spreading the cuts universally. When you have a deeply unequal society, with the few being so much better off than the rest, and able more easily to survive the austerity measures than the majority, it seems the recipe for acute tension and anger. When all this starts to bite and people start to lose their jobs and money they will feel, quite rightly, that they are paying the price for the mismanagement by the financial sector and that the people who have caused the mess have avoided any punishment, in fact, they're doing quite nicely, as usual, thank you very much.

    This perception is not going to go away.

  • Comment number 90.

    Privatisation costs money, just look at BR before privatisation BR wasted millions on re-organisation and then a lot of the franchises went to the same companies. This especially noticeable in freight there were 5 fright companies to be sold off and then 3 of those were merged and sold to the same people that bought another and Freightliner were the other company. Also there is no mention of PFI in their cost reduction plans this is billions more expensive than normal government borrowing.

    I think most people just want a good local hospital, GP etc without having to choose. I recently had to have a consultation in hospital and I had to go and log onto the time consuming process of selecting a hospital in the end I chose the one I always go to. Talking about government getting out of our lives what about the NHS IT record system where every patient of the NHS will have their personal data stored on a big computer.

  • Comment number 91.

    PortcullisGate,

    If we still had the industries destroyed by the Tories in 1980's and 1990's, and the "family silver", we would be in better position for recovery.

    Other countries like Germany and France are in better position this time around because they protected their industry in 1980's unlike the UK government at that time. Remember, the two recessions under the Tories were home grown.

    Are you telling us that recession in other countries is caused by Gordon Brown?

  • Comment number 92.

    They will argue that de-centralised services often waste money - on, for example, high salaries in academies and foundation hospitals - and siphon it away from poor areas to richer ones.

    People are often bluffed into thinking that more centralisation makes for better efficiency. It might in terms of supply distribution, ordering, payment and such functions but the real downsides are:

    1) an increasingly bloated admin, finally ending with layers of admin administering and co-ordinating the admin. Levels of management, co-ordination and supervision get disproportionately large compared with whatever the unit of production is. Bureaucracy is inevitable: procedures and rules that are largely defensive but necessary to counter the politics of large organisations - backside covering, in short; meetings that are rarely more than managerial self-justification and a means of structuring the day. Gone are the benefits of lateral communication and a certain trust between people who work well together.

    2) the loss of local focus, the inability to respond to changes in local conditions.

    In something like the health service, certain specialised activies catering to very few users demand centralisation to pay at all.

    But there's a great deal to be said for de-centralisation, keeping decisions local, keeping management and staff costs down and avoiding co-ordination problems - you don't need a meeting to get a consensus decision (or worse, to avert a decision) along with the memo and transfer pricing factories that inevitably grind into action with large, centralised outfits.

  • Comment number 93.

    39. At 1:29pm on 25 May 2010, Patrick Cox wrote:

    Re: Portcullis' comment on 'Bog Standard'.
    I was struck by the irony of a post which championed excellence managed to mis-spell 'fliers'. Best of luck with the free skools!

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

    Better get use to it if these DIY schools take off. The idea is being copied from Sweden, who incidentally are dropping the scheme due to falling education standards

  • Comment number 94.

    78. At 4:17pm on 25 May 2010, Terry Askew wrote:
    If it wasn't for the 'Unions' you would be working a 100 hour week with no holidays (if you had a job at all) no health and safety, under the thumb of the 'Bosses' et al. Come on live in the real World, big business shouldn't be allowed to make profits from the sick, elderly and the poor. The Tories and Lib Dems don't like public service they are the two dirty words in their dogmatic vocabulary. The believe that Public services costs money and doesn't make a profit so should be done away with. Shame on them.


    True, although they have been slow to organise themselves worldwide or at least europewide. The huge "quality of life" gains they made leading up to the 1970s have partially been stamped out by Friedmanite capitalism. The aim in the 1960s was a 35 hr max working week; the amount of paid leave we've managed to retain; conventional and compassionate absence, etc. People and their roles were important. Work to live rather than live to work which is what we now have.

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the beneficieries of the wealth in society should look after those who create that wealth for them.

  • Comment number 95.

    A very inauspicious start so far as I am concerned for the new lot who have been trumpeting about reinstating our freedoms when Brian Haw is conveniently arrested and removed from his Parliament Square protest, which he has Judicial authority to maintain, on the day of the Queeens speech.

  • Comment number 96.

    44. At 1:46pm on 25 May 2010, Gerry Mandering wrote:
    I work in a hospital which employs about 10 accountants of various responsibility and 4 data analysts. we are overworked, undervalued and sick to death of being typecast as the problem of the NHS.

    @44..... "about 10 accountants" ? ?
    How difficult is it to be exact when counting up to "about 10"?
    If you can't even get that figure accurate then there are clearly too many of you, and the one thing you are not is over-worked ! !

  • Comment number 97.

    Apologies #44 .....copy/pasted from you instead of #26 original, Doh!!

    26. At 12:56pm on 25 May 2010, realityleak wrote:
    I work in a hospital which employs about 10 accountants of various responsibility and 4 data analysts. we are overworked, undervalued and sick to death of being typecast as the problem of the NHS.

  • Comment number 98.

    #85 - Keith

    I agree that "we do not live under a Presidential system...." so why did the Tories, LibDem, BBC and rest of the media keep on about Gordon Brown as unelected PM? When they were attacking Gordon Brown, I'm sure you were happy about it!

  • Comment number 99.

    28. At 1:00pm on 25 May 2010, David Williams wrote:
    anyone seen gordon brown ?


    He's out there somewhere, disagreeing with Nick.

  • Comment number 100.


    Why is there tension between freedom, fairness and responsibility? A libertarian state would provide all three very nicely.

    If by "freedom" people expect anarchy then that fails on all counts, and simply turns into totalitarianism where those with the biggest sticks make the rules. But what's wrong with rolling back government intrusion so we get to make more decisions for ourselves?

    If by "fair" people expect equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity they are going to be disappointed, as that is fundamentally not fair. How is it fair that those who work hard and take risks are taxed into oblivion to provide equal wealth to those who can't be bothered to get off the sofa? How is it fair if those who choose to not work end up equally wealthy as those who take on huge responsibilities to make a difference?

    If by "responsibility" we mean the current pathetic situation where people crow about the good decisions they made but want to blame someone else whenever something goes wrong then it's about time they got a grip on reality. Responsibility means ownership of all our decisions whether the outcome is what we wanted or not, whether the outcome is what we expected or not.

    The freedom to do as we please coupled with the responsibility to not intrude on the lives of others seems like a pretty fair approach to me.

 

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