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Follow the (lack of) money

Nick Robinson | 10:19 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

Governments with money centralise and claim the credit.

Governments without cash decentralise and spread the blame.

Those are not the views of a hardened media cynic. They are what I was told by one of the Tories' top policy wonks before the election.

Eric Pickles

 

Today Eric Pickles will take money - lots and lots of money - away from local councils. He will, at the same time, promise them new freedoms to reorganise themselves and their services. The second will be regarded by many as good in itself but be in no doubt that it is connected inextricably to the first.

Pickles wants - as a matter of long-term belief as well as short-term political convenience - local people to hold local councils to account for what they spend. That is why he has highlighted the pay of council chief executives. That is why he has attacked council newsletters so as to protect and promote a vigorous local press to look for and criticise council waste. That is why he pursues populist attacks on council "absurdities" like staging Winterval instead of Christmas celebrations.

Deep council cuts are coming. The political question is who do people blame - the coalition, the minister or the council?

It's worth remembering today that the communities and local government secretary has spent his life studying how to get his way in politics. He is, these days, widely regarded as being on the Tory right. However, for his 14th birthday, Pickles - then an ardent left winger - received Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution as a present and learned a great deal from the master of political organisation. As a young man, when he was chairman of the National Young Conservatives and the Joint Committee against Racism, he was a Tory "Wet" who took on Margaret Thatcher on the issue of unemployment and racism in northern cities. As leader of Bradford City Council in the late 80s, the "right wing" Pickles emerged to announce a five-year plan to cut the council's budget by £50m, reducing the workforce by a thrd, privatise services and undertake council departmental restructuring.

Pickles is, in short, no pushover.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    "Deep council cuts are coming. The political question is who do people blame - the coalition, the minister or the council?"

    Nick, they've been dumbed down so much over the last twenty years, they'll blame whoever you and the Currant Bun tell them to blame. I'd have thought you'd have figured that by now.

    Incidentally, I'd rather have hoped you'd have been out in Westminster last week snapping banners and placards underfoot. Maybe I missed that broadcast.

    {Cue the usual avalanche of bleeding stumps, bed-sit fantasy revolutionaries and HaveYourSay refugees....}

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm not sure why it is worth remembering he has read Das Kapital, i assume he has also read Mein Kempf and the Wealth of Nations(?) Nothing new about the spread the blame philosophy, it's also called divide-and-rule. Nothing wrong with putting power in peoples hands locally, except that is not what happens because 'power' is not distributed equally in the first place.

  • Comment number 3.

    1. At 10:38am on 13 Dec 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    {Cue the usual avalanche of bleeding stumps, bed-sit fantasy revolutionaries and HaveYourSay refugees....}

    Or alternatively people with something interesting or constructive to say...like yourself(not)

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    How is that a balanced peice of journalism? - Ed Miliband asks Lib Dems to help draw up Labour policy

  • Comment number 6.

    Like all empire building exercises Councils have beefed up the admin side not just the pay levels of executives but also making councillors on full time pay when previously (about 40 years ago) they were part time, some volunteers and others on expenses. More and more councils are trying to whiitle away their core services and charge tax payers more.

    It does seem that all Chief exec roles earn a six figure sum usually more than the Prime Minister and also equivalent to the private sector. There is nothing wrong with that but a Chief exec in a council will have little influence in turning the budget around if privatsation is ruled out. Council tax rises are set by central government and costs are sometimes uncontrollable like gritting with all the bad weather.

    Unfortunately when you run out of money you cannot keep spending. One thing about spending cuts: too often the media stresses things at central government level but locally at the lowest levels of public spending a cut in budget spending has been a constant demand for the last decade. At Amersham hospital the physio department has had this request made on them every year ever since the Thatcher years and I am sure this is not an isolated case.

  • Comment number 7.

    'Deep council cuts are coming. The political question is who do people blame - the coalition, the minister or the council?'

    Answer: The previous government that almost bankrupted the country.

  • Comment number 8.

    Pickles would look better with a large black top hat and copious whiskers that would suit his return to the Victorian poor law for local services. A 7% annual cut in central government grant will either mean a large increase in council tax or severe cuts in services (or a bit of both) and even if councils could dream up the much talked of transformation they wont have time to do it. This is not all devil and angels because it is true both members (a local leader is on £30K part time) and senior officers have not stinted on pay while they sack workers and clip their T&C's.

    Many councils have millions stashed away earning derisory interest and comprehensively deficit free in contrast to central government. Nobody so far has got to the moral high ground on this one particularly as it will be the poor and ill that will suffer the most from cuts in local services.

  • Comment number 9.

    Who do people blame? Is it too far-fetched to suggest that with only the first of the major Tory cuts bringing riot onto the streets, and vilification heaped on Clegg & Co., they will blame the Liberals? There are many miles to go before the 'blame the Liberals' wagon runs out of road. With not far short of 50% of sitting Lib_Dem MPs failing to support the fees vote in the Commons, how much longer will it be before we hear talk of a leadership challenge? As soon, perhaps, as disaffected Liberals start talking to Labour. Milliband knows this.

  • Comment number 10.

    Not only do councils need to be cut back (a bit), they also need far greater scrutiny to weed out inefficiency and ineffective workers.

    So how to do this? Why, with the Audit Commission of course. But wait, some idiot has decided to get rid of that. Now who would do a stupid thing like that?

  • Comment number 11.

    3#

    If the cap fits old son, you wear it. Looks good on you.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not biased in any way, you understand.

    The BBC cull can't take place soon enough.

  • Comment number 13.

    #7 right on.

    labour governements want to spend all the money so that they can control the populations voting pattern, ie if you are in hock to the HMG you will more than likely vote for them.

    Conservatives have in all my life time have to fix the mess inherrited by Labour before they can even think of getting the country back in the right direction last time it took 17 years to fix and about another 5-7 for labour to sow the seed of destruction again.

    What people have to do is understand the the problems around them and vote in the local elections as well.

    labour indoctrinated the country with the story that there were free lunches to go around well some one has to pay and boy are we going to pay for the next 7-10 years.

  • Comment number 14.

    #10 I think the councils should be able to work that one out for themselves or are you saying that they are that poorly run, Buisness have to do it why not them ?

  • Comment number 15.

    It's revealing that as Pickles got older, his views became more realistic. Obviously learnt from life, unlike some.

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    "With not far short of 50% of sitting Lib_Dem MPs failing to support the fees vote in the Commons, how much longer will it be before we hear talk of a leadership challenge? As soon, perhaps, as disaffected Liberals start talking to Labour. Milliband knows this."

    Perhaps one of the Liberal MPs could become Labour leader, as Labour don't seem to have one at the moment.

  • Comment number 18.

    16#

    Gordon Brown and Hattie will BE the wall. It'd need something that thick to stop the rounds getting through.

  • Comment number 19.

    During times of plenty, bureaucracies proliferate and enlarge. Gordon Brown added 800,000 to the public sector, and at best, only 20% of these were doers (nurses, teachers etc.), the rest were non-productive. Now funding is to be cut, there is no doubt where the axe will fall. On the workers, NOT the bureaucrats, diversity officers, play specialists etc.

    There is great potential for cuts. What is wrong with having 'Town Clerks'? Why must we have very expensive C.E.O.s instead? Eric Pickles has my support, but he must realise that it is in the nature of bureaucracies to self perpetuate and protect their own interests at the expense of other, more productive, sectors of their empires.

  • Comment number 20.

    The way this usually works is for someone (in consultation with, in this case, the councils) to set up a private service company that will bid, with others, carry out street-cleaning, bin collection, asset maintenance, etc. That lowest-bidding company then employs, for lower wages, most of the people that have been sacked by the council, and the council then pays them to carry out the services. The companies, the councils and the government win, and only the employees and the communities lose so no problem. The problem is that a great many councils did this years ago in order to maintain salaries and pensions, so a lot of services are simply going to disappear because there will be no time to plan for anything else and a lot of public and private-sector workers will be permanently on the dole.
    It's going to get very messy indeed, and it's not Gordon Brown's government who are going to get the blame.

  • Comment number 21.

    So the news story today is that a prominent member of one party has read a book written by a different political philosophy to the one he currently espouses and has changed his views from when he was 14... And this is a problem how? Having grown up in a different country, I am shocked by just how insular a lot of British people are in politics. The left-wing of this country needs to get over the idea that the people on the right are their enemy and that they can learn nothing from them, and the same is true in reverse, although I think the Tory attitude to coalition shows that perhaps they've got more political gumption than you might think.

    The other side of any discussion is not your enemy. It's taken real guts for the Liberal Democrats to admit that they were wrong about what the next government could afford to do re: Tuition fees and have fought for a fairer deal than a majority Tory government would have given, but they had no option other than to vote for it.

    Frankly, I'd be more horrified if Eric Pickles had said that he'd never read anything other than Tory literature... but then, as far as I can tell, Ed Milliband has never read anything other than left-wing propaganda, but then, he's got the BBC to do his job for him, so he can just sit back and relax.

  • Comment number 22.


    I totally support Eric Pickles' stance on council waste. Problem is, as far as I can gather, most of my council tax is going into the bottomless pit that is the council's final-salary pension scheme. Unfortunately, the public sector needs to bite the same bullet that shot the private sector smack in the face a few years ago. Council taxpayers can't afford to sustain these schemes.


  • Comment number 23.

    Nick

    You ask: 'The political question is who do people blame - the coalition, the minister or the council?'

    Err, what about the previous Labour government which bankrupted the country? Labour would also have to make these cuts given their massive and irresponsible budget deficit.

    Your duty is to inform and present a balanced view, which you've just blatantly failed to do. The electorate voted Labour out because they/we realised what a hash they'd made of matters, on every front but especially financially. So why don't you mention this?

    Get real. At least acknowledge that these cuts are Labour's legacy: Labour campaigned on cuts also at the last General Election.

    Also, you've clearly never covered a riot before given your exaggeration of the impact of last week's riots on public opinion. Most decent people were disgusted: with the students, not the government.

    Though I understand of course that the BBC is institutionally left wing.

  • Comment number 24.

    Initially people will blame Nick Clegg for allowing the Govrnment to do this. A lot of people wil blame the last Labour Government at least for a while. It's likely that the arguement about wasteful admin will convince people that all that needs to happen is for other people to work harder etc. and reorganise.
    However, as the cuts bite and people see services that they use disappear at the same time as Tax and VAT increase they will come to blame the Government. I think this is especially true as the economy recovers but, because this is an ideological change, local services do not return to a level people are used to. Here on the Wirral the ConDem ruling group have sent out a questionaire asking us what services should we pay additional money for (from a huge list). This was mainly based around caring services for the elderly, do we need our grassy areas cutting so often etc. All things that will have an impact on every voter in this area
    I think Pickles will come to grief over this (eventually)-a minister who orders a new fancy jag whilst instructing everyone else to tighten their belts has a big ego (even for a politician). He'll over reach himself I'm sure because a politician can only get their own way for so long without taking their colleagues with them. Once tory backbenchers post bags are full of complaints about the lack of social care locally and realise the effect this will have on their majorities Pickles will be toast.
    In the meantime we just have to go with the flow and watch our local services disappear or get used to paying the Council tax and additional money for the services we use. This is where all the talk of the need to cut the deficit within 4 years really starts to bite on people's lives. Up until now its been easy to stand up and say we need to do this because its all been an abstract concept. I wonder how the Nudge unit will tell ministers to sell this policy......

  • Comment number 25.

    #19 and #16 there is going to be a revolution alright inside councils where the burocrats get the chop. There is much that the councils should be doing but there is also much that they should not be doing like many of the 800,000 that were taken on by Brown and CO and quadered ALL those taxes recipts on. Maybe the Council Taxes will then start to go down.

    Why should I have to pay expensive planning application when others ca njust turn up onto some land and do what they want ?

  • Comment number 26.

    11. At 11:47am on 13 Dec 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    3#
    'If the cap fits old son, you wear it. Looks good on you.'

    Thanks, but i'd rather be wearing a crash-helmet ATM

    '15. At 11:57am on 13 Dec 2010, AndyC555 wrote:
    It's revealing that as Pickles got older, his views became more realistic. Obviously learnt from life, unlike some.'

    It's revealing that as Hitler got older he invaded Poland.

  • Comment number 27.

    #20 History will show that it was all Gordon Brown doing as he was chancellor and the PM/Chancellor for the whole 13 years, the balme is firmly at his door

  • Comment number 28.

    #14 - I'm saying they are poorly run and will likely get worse if they are not accountable. If a business is poorly run it will make less money and will suffer accordingly. If a council is poorly run it receives money regardless.

  • Comment number 29.

    13. At 11:55am on 13 Dec 2010, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    'labour indoctrinated the country with the story that there were free lunches to go around well some one has to pay and boy are we going to pay for the next 7-10 years.'

    I'm sorry, i thought that attitude started in the 80's when people could buy and sell houses to make a fortune and the roulette wheels in the City started to spin. I blame Labour for not doing anything about it.

  • Comment number 30.

    #22 Lime Candy
    I dont know which council you are talking about, but the vast majority of Local Government Pension schemes do not require massive contributions from employers (which is what you are talking about). Indeed, many of them contribute less than the average amount a private sector eomployer contributes. Employee contributions are often higher as well.

    The real reason why many private sector pension schemes are in trouble is the "pension holiday" the employers took - some for over a decade - in order to boost their own profits. So why should public sector workers have to pay for the mistakes of private sector bosses?

    In the dier sense of whether councils can afford to keep making these contributions, you would be surprised at what proprtion of their gross revenue goes into the pension of their workers (average pension provided is £4,000 per annum, by the way). Please dont rely on the Daily Mail, who just made up a figure to scare people.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Pickles is, in short, no pushover."

    That's because you'd need a bulldozer to push him over!

  • Comment number 32.

    17. At 12:01pm on 13 Dec 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    On the contrary, Labour have got a rather cunning leader, who I do not estimate very highly as yet, but who is still doing exactly what you might expect him to do at such a moment. Whether he has the wits to continue to milk such advantage as accrues to him is another question. But I am sure that the least enviable position of all just now is that of the Liberals. Tory government, Liberal fall guys, Labour gloating. That has yet to change. Will it change?

  • Comment number 33.

    Also hopefully this will prevent any repeat of the force-adoption fiasco where large amounts of central governement money was awarded to local councils, for "raising" adoption numbers, that resulted in "cherry picking state santioned kidnapped" and then the money was avaliable to any part of the councils expenditure departements free of any controls.

    if that is prevented from happening again then that will be good.

  • Comment number 34.

    #21
    'Having grown up in a different country, I am shocked by just how insular a lot of British people are in politics.'
    Which country did you grow up in?

    '...Ed Milliband has... got the BBC to do his job for him, so he can just sit back and relax.'
    Ah, Dailymailia! It's not really growing up though, is it?

  • Comment number 35.

    Can't we adjust the question to:

    "Who should take responsibility?"

    We have developed a blame culture in this country where everyone, including the ruling class, need someone else to blame for things that go wrong. Very few people step forward among the shouting to actually try and work out where responsibilities lay.

    Responsibilities aren't about who did something but who should be taking responsibility for the underlying problems that have allowed an event to occur. For example, at work, we have our job descriptions to guide us on what we should be doing and what we are responsible for. However, just because one person is directly responsible for something, does this mean that we should all simply ignore things we see and simply say to ourselves that it's someone else's job so that when a problem occurs we can shift all the blame on to someone else.

    At times, there are so many bodies and departments, etc. that it's too difficult to try and work out who is responsible for things. Yet we all want the easy answer, the scapegoat to take all the punishment because nobody wants to end up in the firing line.

    What's wrong with simply saying "Well, actually, we're all responsible in a way."

    Yes, some people have more responsibility than others based on their positions and jobs but as a collective we all could have possibly done something if we had decided to open our eyes to the things we simply choose not to notice far too often.

    We all simply just want someone to blame because that's the simple short term answer that avoids the real issues. We just want a name and then we can move on and pretend that nothing has happened as we're all satisfied that it wasn't ourselves and the process will just repeat itself the next time a problem occurs.

    They all have their parts to play in the system and they should be liaising with each other to try to prevent and resolve problems before they occur.

    Yet here we are, we get the government saying it's the responsibility of councils and it's all their fault. We get councils blaming the government for a lack of funding. Well I simply say that there is shared responsibility and because of that there is shared blame not only on them but on previous governments and previous councils, as well as upon financial institutions and people who have helped contribute towards the nation's current position that has caused such decisions to be necessary.

  • Comment number 36.

    #26 That is a discuting parrellel you are trying to draw. You shoud inmediatley with draw that comments.

    The one real a present parrellel that can be drawn with Hilter is the social enginneering project known as force-adoption employed by Blair.

    That has blighted the lifes of so many people in the last 10 years.

  • Comment number 37.

    20. At 12:21pm on 13 Dec 2010, Its_an_Outrage wrote:
    'a lot of public and private-sector workers will be permanently on the dole.'

    Don't worry...they can contribute to the Big Society.

  • Comment number 38.

    It’s interesting, this, the Blame Game regarding the cuts. Just as it’s silly and wrong to blame Labour for the deficit (crystal clear that macro, non-UK factors dominate), neither should one blame the Coalition for the need to make some cuts in order to balance the books. They’ve only been in for six months, after all. Key word is some cuts. To the extent they’re cutting more than they need to (and doing so too quickly), are going for soft targets such as welfare and this one – local government – or making counterproductive cuts which will cost jobs; plus cuts which hit the poorest the hardest and sound the death knell for social mobility in this country (e.g. EMA and tuition fees) and also cuts which are ideologically driven, as with the Health “reforms” ... to the extent they’re doing all or any of this, they ARE to blame – very much so – and thus they’re fair game, as Prince Charles to be fair wasn’t, for a right royal seeing-to. It’s the duty of the Labour opposition to dish that out. Let’s see if the New Generation are up to it.

  • Comment number 39.

    #29 I too blame labour for NOT regulating the City correctly. There is nothing wrong with buying and selling your own home.

    Are you going to be giving away homes then as well as free lunches

  • Comment number 40.

    Is being £350bn in debt the same as being bankrupt? Just asking cos thats what Clarke and Major left us with back in 1997. We now have a further £550bn (and rising) to deal with, thanks to Brown/Blair, global crash, bank gambling and CamCleggOsb. (source hm-treasury.gov.uk, public finance databank, although they dont call it bank gambling).

    But wait, we are still spending money, so we are not bankrupt. Councils will get the blame once cuts feed through - they will clearly then try and pass blame back to Torylition if its a Labour run council - not sure what the others will do - Hobsons choice.

    Mr Cameron has asked councils to not put up council tax. Very wise cos it would look very very regressive to put tax rates up for pensioners, poor people by far more than those better off. Best not to and instead leave it to the councils to make nice regressive decisions like cutting down on meals on wheels, care centres, stuff like that. Never mind - the Big Society is on its way to save us all.

    I would lol but I hate all that text/twitter stuff and in any case there isn't any cause to lol.

    For anyone who asks - less cuts (although totally agree that council CEOs should not earn more than PM), less ideology and a bit more targeted tax is my outrageously high-level starter for 10.

  • Comment number 41.

    Fubar @ 1

    Your contempt for ordinary people is getting out of control. What makes you think the population at large believes whatever the media wants them to? It seems to me that people come to their own conclusions based on the information available (which for all of us - even you - comes via the media, admittedly). Do you include yourself in this mass brainwashing exercise, or do you stand alone and apart, able to see the truth in a kind of David Icke way?

  • Comment number 42.

    OMG - it took only 26 posts to mention H***** - the key indicator that a discussion is about to disappear up itself. Time to stop frothing at the mouth, chewing the carpet, and try can stand up after all that rolling on the floor.

  • Comment number 43.

    27. At 12:33pm on 13 Dec 2010, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    #20 History will show that it was all Gordon Brown doing as he was chancellor and the PM/Chancellor for the whole 13 years, the balme is firmly at his door

    I can't believe that you actualy believe that. We have 'spent more than we earn' for the last 25 years because the financial system works on the principal that we should take now what we will be earning in the future.
    I don't see the Tories or Libdems addresing the issue either... it makes a lot of people very rich.

    PS You probably think any form of taxation is wrong, unless perhaps it's some Feudal Landowner taxing his peasants.

  • Comment number 44.

    32. At 12:37pm on 13 Dec 2010, solpugid wrote:
    17. At 12:01pm on 13 Dec 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    'On the contrary, Labour have got a rather cunning leader, who I do not estimate very highly as yet, but who is still doing exactly what you might expect him to do at such a moment. Whether he has the wits to continue to milk such advantage as accrues to him is another question. But I am sure that the least enviable position of all just now is that of the Liberals. Tory government, Liberal fall guys, Labour gloating. That has yet to change. Will it change?'

    Yes...it's all very interesting. But only if you see politics as a game with no consequence. I find it sickening rather than interesting. Clegg has played the game well, getting elected saying he would do something and then not doing it. Bravo!! Ahh...but he will pay for it in the long run won't he. I doubt that very much...he'll make a living writing a book about it if all else fails.

  • Comment number 45.

    #40

    But you're comparing two different types of money - 1997 money to 2010 money. Anyone can use that argument "we're spending more than ever before on education - over 10 times as much as in 1970". Sounds good, doesnt it, but it could mean a cut.

    If we look at the level of debt compared to GDP, we can see the actual sustainability of the level of debt.

    In May 1997, government debt was 42.5% of GDP. In May 2007, it was 36.5% of GDP. Most of the rise since 1997 has been due to falling tax revenues, increased beenfit payments as people have been made redundant, and of course the cost of supporting the banks.

    Basically, the economy as a whole grew faster than the level of debt. In fact, we went into the recession with one of the lowest levels of debt to GDP of the G20 - and even at the peak (variously estimated at 72% or 83%) then our level of debt will still be lower than that of the US, Japan, France and Germany were BEFORE the recession.

  • Comment number 46.

    "He is, these days, widely regarded as being on the Tory right. However, for his 14th birthday, Pickles - then an ardent left winger - received Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution as a present and learned a great deal from the master of political organisation. As a young man, when he was chairman of the National Young Conservatives and the Joint Committee against Racism, he was a Tory "Wet" who took on Margaret Thatcher on the issue of unemployment and racism in northern cities. As leader of Bradford City Council in the late 80s, the "right wing" Pickles emerged to announce a five-year plan to cut the council's budget by £50m, reducing the workforce by a thrd, privatise services and undertake council departmental restructuring."

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

    Nick,

    Why do you persist in peddling such obfuscation?

    All three main political parties in the UK are now pro free-markets i.e. Libertarian (aka Trotskyite). They are all on the Right and therefore on the opposite side to real socialism.

    Labour ceased to be the only true socialist (Left) party of opposition when they dropped Clause 4....(Red Ed indeed!)

    All three parties supported the bank bailouts and hence, de facto bailout of Capitalism and big business.

    Think of it this way...as far as Libertarians are concerned, it's always 'heads, big business wins - tails, the taxpayer loses!'
    (aka privarised profits, socialised losses)

    All that your post above (as well as the current political establishment)endeavour to achieve is the perpetuation of the illusion of democracy with faux Left/Right politics in the UK, all in the name of the two gods - USUARY AND PROFIT!

    It's an internationalist/cosmopolitan/non-dom thing. We now live in a fascist state.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2008/02/01/GR2008020102389.html

    All Pickles demonstrates above is that he can't tell his left from his right - but then he is only a politician.

  • Comment number 47.

    The old political "pull the rabbit out of the hat" trick. Give the local councils more authority...but with less funding. The national government doesn't want to be burdened with all the bad news at the local level when they can lunch with bankers. As the cuts take hold they would rather the people take their protest to a council rather than Parliament. The elected bathe in the authority and run from accountability. The one who stole the car wants the passenger to change seats with them before the citation is written.

  • Comment number 48.



    24. At 12:30pm on 13 Dec 2010, wirralwesleyan wrote:
    Initially people will blame Nick Clegg.........[then]....they will come to blame the Government.""""


    Very interesting wording here. The post is well reasoned, but how easily one forgets that these are one and the same thing. Liberal Leader = Tory Deputy. Mistaken identity? Shome mistake shurely! How long can this farce go on? The whole point of the coalition was for the Lib_Dems to support Tory policy in return for office. But they are only delivering 55% support in the lobbies now. This is just the start. How long can it go on getting lower?

    I give it six months

  • Comment number 49.

    “although totally agree that council CEOs should not earn more than PM” No, I disagree because would it comes down to it the PM is just a pen pusher who has a few ideas. A CEO of a council is the one who makes all the local decisions.

    The big Tory/Lib experiment starts here today – personally I think it will be a great failure however the opposition is rather like a damp squid.

  • Comment number 50.

    39. At 12:45pm on 13 Dec 2010, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    #29 I too blame labour for NOT regulating the City correctly. There is nothing wrong with buying and selling your own home.

    'Are you going to be giving away homes then as well as free lunches'

    Who..me? I don't know....have you got a house? How many rooms are in it...are they all occupied? If not then perhaps you should down-size... sounds like waste to me.

  • Comment number 51.

    38. At 12:44pm on 13 Dec 2010, sagamix wrote:

    Can I point out that the political question is not who is to blame, but whom the electorate will blame, politics being greatly a matter of perception. My view is that the barely tenable position the Lib-Dems have put themselves in will weaken both themselves and the coalition.

  • Comment number 52.

    The blame will bounce around depending on which services you are used to. Those who want to be spoon fed and have everything done for them will blame everyone except themselves. Those who loose thier jobs will blame the coallition . The local politicians will blame everything on the goverment and those of us who only get the basic sevices from our council will see very little change

  • Comment number 53.

    alpha @ 35

    I agree. Political responsibility and real blame; separate things which must be considered separately.

    Political responsibility comes from being in power. Labour were in power when the global financial crisis hit, thus they take responsibility for its impact. Up to May 2010 that is, when they DID take the responsibility ... by being voted out. Likewise the Coalition are in power now (and making these cuts), by the same token they must take full responsibility for what they're doing.

    That's politics.

    But blame? ... this is very different. To assess blame you need to look at root causes. The root cause of the cuts is our fiscal crisis, for which the Coalition are not to blame. Likewise the root causes of the fiscal crisis are macro non-UK phenomena (all serious commentators, whatever their politics, realise this), for which Labour are not to blame.

    So to summarise:

    Labour responsible for the fiscal crisis, Coalition responsible for the cuts.
    Labour not to blame for the fiscal crisis, Coalition not to blame* for the cuts.

    This is the fair (non-tribal) and correct position.

    * except to the large extent they are, as explained at 38.

  • Comment number 54.

    45 - John Ruddy

    Fine John, but £350bn of debt in 1997 is still part of the current debt. My point is that the current level has not arisen purely because of Labour. Using percentages is an even better way of illustrating the point.

    It doesn't however help people who would however rather just blame it all on Labour and in particular Brown.

    The latter view does however help when politicians want to spin in order to push through ideological changes/cuts - like Mr Pickles.

  • Comment number 55.

    Who do we blame for the cuts?

    How soon we forget.

    Regardless of what/where the cuts are, the country needs to make massive savings due to the massive overspending of the last government. And on top of that there is the recession to pay for.

  • Comment number 56.

    48. At 12:59pm on 13 Dec 2010, solpugid wrote:
    'The whole point of the coalition was for the Lib_Dems to support Tory policy in return for office.'

    You've lost me somewhere. I thought the point of being 'in office' was that you could implement your policies?

  • Comment number 57.

    44. At 12:56pm on 13 Dec 2010, ukblahblahblacksheep wrote:
    32. At 12:37pm on 13 Dec 2010, solpugid wrote:
    17. At 12:01pm on 13 Dec 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    Andy, I can't see why my posts upset you so. You seem to be worried about the word 'interesting' which you use twice and I did not use until 48. Like yourself I am rather down on Clegg. What is your problem?

    Anyhow, lunch over.

  • Comment number 58.

    It is relatively easy to say that Council's are inefficient, paying too much and or doing the wrong things. It's a safe bet that money is being wasted and money can be saved.

    But no-one, surely, believes that the Government is cutting the funding of local Government because it believes we will get better and more efficient delivery of services.

    The name of the game is "budget cuts" but I note that total Government spending is planned to increase by roughly 2% per year during the life of this Government - so if local governments are facing actual cuts then it is because the money is being spent elsewhere.

    The Government is therefore setting priorities (and giving local services a lower priority) while ducking questions regarding what services people want for their money, and what they are getting, by passing the buck down to local authorities in the name of devolution.

  • Comment number 59.

    49. At 1:02pm on 13 Dec 2010, AM wrote:
    'The big Tory/Lib experiment starts here today – personally I think it will be a great failure however the opposition is rather like a damp squid.'

    Great... you have managed to blame Labour. I'm sure that will please some people. Petrol Bombs...the practical alternative to damp squibs.

  • Comment number 60.

    53. At 1:09pm on 13 Dec 2010, sagamix wrote:
    'Labour responsible for the fiscal crisis, Coalition responsible for the cuts.
    Labour not to blame for the fiscal crisis, Coalition not to blame* for the cuts.

    This is the fair (non-tribal) and correct position.'


    All very logical...your point/solution actualy is?

  • Comment number 61.

    sol @ 48

    Indeed so. What counts is who the electorate blames.

    The Tory Story - the narrative they'll try to weave over the next couple of years - is to pin responsibility for the cuts on Labour even though it's they and not Labour who are in office. This is akin to blaming the Conservatives for the deficit on the grounds it would have been just as bad (or worse) if they - and not Labour - had been in office pre May 2010. A charge they'd refute as risible of course (and with some justification), but it won't stop them trying the same trick.

    I say the "Tory Story" but we have a Coalition, so the Lib Dems will be peddling this nonsense too.

    Like you, I find it difficult to see a happy ending for Clegg & Co.

  • Comment number 62.

    55. At 1:11pm on 13 Dec 2010, TheWalrus999 wrote:
    'Regardless of what/where the cuts are, the country needs to make massive savings due to the massive overspending of the last government. And on top of that there is the recession to pay for.'

    Define 'the country'. I personaly did not generate the financial crisis that got underway in the 80's, nor did i benefit from the 'booms' in the 90'2 that preceeded it. Why should I have to pay for it? Can't you just cancel out a fragment of what i 'owe' by halving the £650k (or whatever it is) pension of Sir Fred Goodwin or someone like him?



  • Comment number 63.

    57. At 1:16pm on 13 Dec 2010, solpugid wrote:
    'Anyhow, lunch over.'

    Yes...get back to work you layabouts


  • Comment number 64.

    It's rather disturbing to see that someone who believes in the myth that Winterval has replaced Christmas is put in charge of something more important than a whelk stall.

  • Comment number 65.

    "The blame will bounce around depending on which services you are used to. Those who want to be spoon fed and have everything done for them will blame everyone except themselves. Those who loose their jobs will blame the coalition . The local politicians will blame everything on the government and those of us who only get the basic services from our council will see very little change"

    10/10 - most sensible post on this website ever.

  • Comment number 66.

    59. At 1:23pm on 13 Dec 2010, you wrote:
    'The big Tory/Lib experiment starts here today – personally I think it will be a great failure however the opposition is rather like a damp squid.'

    Sorry..misread your post. The damp squid reference is quite accurate. A squid, still slightly damp, washed up on a beach, it's tentacles flapping around trying to get a grip on something so it can drag itself back into the water.

  • Comment number 67.

    Sorry Nick, I know you try to be non-biased or to present a balanced approach in your reporting. But really your own views do come accross clearly e.g.
    'The second will be regarded by many as good in itself' Who are the many Nick? Your conservative pals? The BBC should monitor journalist views more closeley.

  • Comment number 68.

    PDavies @41 - Don't get too worked up about Fubar_Saunders. Anyone who can joke about Zyklon B as he did a few months back isn't worthy of anything except contempt. Disregard and move on.

    As for who gets the blame - Labour will gain in the local elections this May, and probably for a few years after that - because they've been virtually wiped out in the past five years so there's only one way they can go.

    It'll be interesting to see how keen Pickles and Co are on 'localism' when most councils are Labour run.

  • Comment number 69.

    52. At 1:09pm on 13 Dec 2010, jim3227 wrote:
    'The blame will bounce around depending on which services you are used to. Those who want to be spoon fed and have everything done for them will blame everyone except themselves. Those who loose thier jobs will blame the coallition . The local politicians will blame everything on the goverment and those of us who only get the basic sevices from our council will see very little change'

    Thanks for that...any idea who exactly is to blame? Don't worry...use of the word 'us' at the strategic place it appears in you post suggests to me that you don't really give a damn.

    Bored with this blog now......

  • Comment number 70.

    Two themes keep popping up on this Blog: namely who is to blame for the current cuts and the supposed political bias of the BBC in general and Nick Robinson in particular. Both of which are tedious but need to be nailed.

    As my understanding of Economics goes the deficit was caused by the deregulation of the Banks Both Tory and Labour Government’s are to blame here, the blessed Margaret Thatcher’s government deregulated the banks and Brown failed to do anything about it. The banks then set up a huge Ponzi like scheme where they were inflating the price of non assets and buying then from each other, in this case the financial system is to blame. The Labour Government, post 2005, then increased spending over trend growth without raising taxes to pay for it, thus making the deficit larger than it needed to be. Labour clearly guilty here but strangely the Tories (Osbourne) thought it was a good idea at the time. The majority of the deficit is still the responsibility of the banks which is why all other developed economies are suffering deficits. During the election the Tories argued for quicker and deeper cuts, Labour and the Lib Dems argued for slower and shallower cuts. We can’t test the Labour hypothesis but we are testing the Tory hypothesis and therefore these cuts are their choice and they should be proud of them (where the Lib Dems are, is anybodies guess!). The consequences of fast and deep cuts will be the Tories look out, if they are wrong and the Labour approach could be seen to work elsewhere, see what Obama is doing in the US for comparison, then we might know. The blame/praise for this will be on the Condem government as they ideologically believe in the cuts. The Labour Party still do owe us an explanation for what they would do as just objecting to every cut is economically illiterate.

    Now very quickly I come to BBC bias. First of all, all Tories believe the BBC to be biased because it doesn’t repeat the bias in the Mail, Telegraph and the Murdoch press. They forget the following; Andrew Gilligan and the Iraq war, the fact that Nick Robinson was once President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, John Humphries/Jeremy Paxman’s attacks on all politicians and the requirement on the BBC to present a balanced view to all items. It is cheap and easy to claim the BBC is biased. If the BBC was biased, which I think it isn’t, then it would only be addressing the bias of the rest of the media. If these people want to see bias then watch Fox News or read Pravda from the days of the Soviet empire. Finally despite the fact that Nick Robinson had such a senior role in the Conservative Party as a student I do believe he tries hard to be impartial.

  • Comment number 71.

    No17 AndyPandy,
    More infantile comment from AndyPandy the Toytown political spokesman. Most people know that the main opposition party elected a new leader a few weeks ago.

  • Comment number 72.

    '65. At 1:41pm on 13 Dec 2010, efan ekoku wrote:
    "The blame will bounce around depending on which services you are used to. Those who want to be spoon fed and have everything done for them will blame everyone except themselves. Those who loose their jobs will blame the coalition . The local politicians will blame everything on the government and those of us who only get the basic services from our council will see very little change"

    10/10 - most sensible post on this website ever.'

    Sensible? I'd say it may reflect what may happen but what is 'sensible' about it? It is 'sensible' not to step out into the road without looking, all you are doing is saying the road is there.

    I repeat... do you actualy give a damn anyway?




  • Comment number 73.

    Far too many people on this blog are using GDP figures to make important points which is all very well if the GDP figure was calculated scientifically. Unfortunately it is collated and is somewhere between an estimate and a guess. For the most part it is based on surveys of certain industries and those results are extrapolated upwards.

    Quite a few economists Ms Flanders amongst them are having severe doubts about the veracity of the numbers. However our scumbag politicians use GDP figures to calculate how much we spend on International Aid. Cameron, Brown and Blair have no interest in spending a pittance to corrupt African dictators - after all it is not their money. I suspect that the downturn was more severe than reported if only to maintain the illusion that house of cards did not collapse - tax revenues however have nosedived and this is inconsistent with what happened to GDP numbers.

  • Comment number 74.

    "All very logical ... your point/solution actually is?" - sheep @ 60

    That's a tough (!) question. I suppose all I'm doing is putting in a plea for grown up, non-partisan politics.

    For example, I want to see George Osborne come out and say: "Forget all the tosh about Labour over-spending ... that's on the margins ... the real reason I'm having to make these cuts is a very serious malfunction of the global financial system. And believe me, I also recognise the need to take action to prevent a recurrence. Just wish I had the wherewithal to do so."

    Round of applause (least from me) when he does that. Maybe even my vote next time.

  • Comment number 75.

    This Government is most likely to be around for the full term.

    If the 'mood music' in the 6 to 12 months before the next election is of a 'UK turned around and on the mend' then I suggest the electorate will not be so hard on the Liberals....., Gordon had a similar game plan but his time ran out.

    For Labour to win a majority they will need to do more than just snipe from the sidelines - at the moment they are only talking to their core supporters only.

    Without any policies they have nothing to offer to the arguement.

  • Comment number 76.

    72. At 1:59pm on 13 Dec 2010, ukblahblahblacksheep wrote:

    '65. At 1:41pm on 13 Dec 2010, efan ekoku wrote:
    "The blame will bounce around depending on which services you are used to. Those who want to be spoon fed and have everything done for them will blame everyone except themselves. Those who loose their jobs will blame the coalition . The local politicians will blame everything on the government and those of us who only get the basic services from our council will see very little change"

    10/10 - most sensible post on this website ever.'

    Sensible? I'd say it may reflect what may happen but what is 'sensible' about it? It is 'sensible' not to step out into the road without looking, all you are doing is saying the road is there.

    I repeat... do you actually give a damn anyway?

    It is sensible not to step out into the road without looking, just as it is sensible not to get worked up about who to blame for a big financial and political mess. Historically, that way leads to war my friend.

    And no, I don't really care - nothing will ever really change, governments are not interested in actual hard working people, just the ones that shout the loudest.

  • Comment number 77.

    sagamix

    'So to summarise:

    Labour responsible for the fiscal crisis, Coalition responsible for the cuts.
    Labour not to blame for the fiscal crisis, Coalition not to blame* for the cuts.'

    Without doubt you can argue that the coalition aren't responsible for inheriting the largest deficit in peactime history and this is the prime reason cuts are being made. Equally you can argue that New Labour weren't responsible for inheriting a golden economic legacy from the Tories in 1997.

    The difference with the position in 2008 is that by then New Labour had been in power for over 10 years. Over that period they implemented a range of policies that had a direct impact on the size of the deficit which is why we have the highest deficit in the G20 (note highest as opposed to average).

    Thus we conclude:

    Labour responsible for the deficit and therefore the cuts.
    Coalition responsible for clearing up New Labours mess.

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    If when I was voting for my local council representatives I was not a local person holding local politicians to account, then what have I been doing at local election polls all these years?

  • Comment number 80.

    38#

    So, after that Saga, you're not in favour of ANY of the cuts? Talk about dancing your way around all the houses... Len'd give you at least a seven for that....

  • Comment number 81.

    The latest wheeze I heard was the head of Westminster council claiming this morning that the damaged caused by students will lead to a cut in services.
    So it's the tens of thousands of pounds in damages which cause cuts in services, not the millions about to be wiped off the LA budget by the Government.

    Clearly maths is not the strong point of the head of Westminster. Am I surprised by a man who has overseen the introduction of charging for motorbike parking without any change to the actual bays or any improvements?

    I call that a tax - what do you call it?

    I'm sure all the clowns who support this government can show their outrage and anger at the riotus students - lets see how they're all feeling once the plans of local councils have been revealed.

    I hear Birmingham is going to be a stonker - big cuts on the way for the second city. That should help to keep the peace - I mean I'm sure the people are simply going to lie down and take it......aren't they?

    ...or is that the sheeple?

    This week the EMA protests get underway - most of you haven't even heard of it (and don't make it your business to find out) - however you're all going to know what it is soon as the people who are losing out from it's removal are the most volatile and angry of all the demonstrators. A consequence that was clearly lost on those out of touch politicans too.

    Are we getting scared yet? - I can see the fear in people like Fubar_Saunders coming through in their writing - fear that they may have got it catastrophically wrong.

    I only have face to loose - most capitalists have their fortunes - no wonder they're full of the anger of 'dead men walking' as they feel the cold spectre of left wing ideals creeping down the hallway...

    Don't feel sorry for them however - it's not like they earned that wealth is it? - I mean you cannot lose that which is not yours to begin with.

  • Comment number 82.

    jobs @ 77

    Yes well done, that's the Tory Story put quite competently - talking down the (dominant) non-UK, thus non-Labour, contributory factors to the fiscal crisis; whilst at the same time talking up the pre May 2010, thus non-Coalition, contributory factors to the spending cuts.

    Illogical, inconsistent, irredeemably flawed.

    Also directly at odds with my call (at 74) for a new, grown up and non-tribal brand of politics; both on this blog and in the country-at-large.

  • Comment number 83.

    41. At 12:48pm on 13 Dec 2010, pdavies65 wrote:

    Fubar @ 1

    Your contempt for ordinary people is getting out of control. What makes you think the population at large believes whatever the media wants them to?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    You flatter me unnecessarily, pd. Its quite simple my friend, the results quite clearly, on every level speak for themselves. You can see it all around you, every single day.

    The ordinary people are right where the political establishment want them to be. Dumbed down so they dont question too loudly what is served up to them, obsessed with the cult of celebrity, pandering to their worst handed-down prejudices, apathetic, "cant be bothered", "whats in it for me", "dont get involved", "someone must be to blame"...

    And as long as they're happy to be led by the nose and look as deeply into all these shenanigans as they are doing right now, then they'll keep on getting what they deserve. I have absolutely no sympathy with them whatsoever.

    Nothing Icke-y or Big Chief Of The Lizard people about it. Can you honestly tell me that all around you in the UK, that you see "ordinary" people who have got any form of political gumption whatsoever?

    They will quite happily lap up whatever the BBC, Sky, The Mirror, The Mail or the Currant Bun tells them and they'll sit in their "first year payment free" sofas over Christmas with their "Imported from China" Iceland party nibbles and they'll moan about it and do nothing and question nothing.

    And there are others who will tell them what they want to hear in order to exploit their gullibility for their own political and monetary ends. And these fools will let them.

    They dont get half the contempt they deserve. Their forefathers who fought in two world wars for their sakes wouldnt recognise any of them.

  • Comment number 84.

    It's amazing what some Tories will defend in the name of ideology.

    Council budgets are to be cut, which will result in a loss of services and potentially a drop in quality among those that remain - i.e. nobody wins, apart from the Treasury.

    Yet rather than comment along the lines of: "Well, this will mean a loss in council services, but it's a necessary step given the current financial situation"...

    ... what we get is a celebration of such cuts, on the grounds that it will cause some people greater hardship.

    That's like standing on a sinking ship, waiting to drown, and yet laughing at those who happen to be drowning before you.

    Honestly, the mindset of the right beggars belief some days. It's really not possible to run a political movement on schadenfreude alone, despite what some of you might think.

    Anyhow. Roll on the next general election... I'm hoping that at this rate, we'll see the Tory party being buried on the opposition benches for a long time to come.

  • Comment number 85.

    77. At 2:19pm on 13 Dec 2010, jobsagoodin wrote:

    "The difference with the position in 2008 is that by then New Labour had been in power for over 10 years. Over that period they implemented a range of policies that had a direct impact on the size of the deficit which is why we have the highest deficit in the G20 (note highest as opposed to average)."

    ...and the banks? - what was their 'contribution' to the deficit? Remember Gordon was under the 'golden rule' of spending being less than 40% of income - a well respected figure at the time.

    ...the double whammy of banking debt added to the deficit and the loss of tax receipts as a result of the 'credit crisis led recession' ensured that the deficit shot out of control.

    ....or did you forget all that happening? - rather convenient since it undermines your argument that it was Labours fault.

    I'm no supporter of Labour, but you seem to be altering the course of history in order to fit them up for this job.

    Also this is not correct...

    "Without doubt you can argue that the coalition aren't responsible for inheriting the largest deficit in peactime history and this is the prime reason cuts are being made."

    They took the job mate, how exactly does this make them not responsible for inheriting it? - do you start at your new workplace and then blame your failings on the 'last guy' - try it and see how long you and your credibility last. The cuts are not the solution to the deficit - otherwise they would be temporary (until the deficit is cleared) and Georgey boy has already indicated they are here to stay.

  • Comment number 86.

    "So, after that Saga, you're not in favour of ANY of the cuts?" - fubar @ 80

    Well how can anybody be FOR most of this stuff? Just to illustrate: I was on the bus today and there were two small children on the seat in front of me, their Mother sat apart but watching over them. A boy and a girl - five and three, I’d have said. As the bus jerked around a corner, the boy accidentally – and it was a total accident – caught his little sister in the face with his elbow. Nothing serious but it hurt a bit and she started to cry. Her brother was clearly mortified he’d caused this and he started to cry too. They were both crying. “Shush” said Mother, concerned but not overly. Didn’t work ... the blubbing continued. Then the boy, what he did was he whispered “I’m sorry”, and he leant forward and kissed his sister gently on the tip of her little nose. She smiled and stopped crying. Her brother, seeing her smiling, also started smiling - smiles replacing tears. The Mother smiled. I smiled. Absolute smilefest we’re having now, on the 31 bus. Sweet it was, and extremely nice. So very much nicer, I couldn’t help thinking, than cutting local council services, than trebling tuition fees and pricing poorer students out of our best universities.

  • Comment number 87.

    56 You've lost me somewhere. I thought the point of being 'in office' was that you could implement your policies? """""""""


    So Mr Cable must have really lost you somewhere by suggesting he might vote against his own Bill. Do not be lost, it's a simple tale. 'Jack-in- office' does not mean 'man in power'. That's Cameron. Puppets do not pull the strings.

    Clearer?

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    '15. At 11:57am on 13 Dec 2010, AndyC555 wrote:
    It's revealing that as Pickles got older, his views became more realistic. Obviously learnt from life, unlike some.'

    ...only as the people of Brentwood became 'Beckhamised' and their IQ's dropped a few rungs on the ladder.

    Is that why you think he's so clever? More importantly why are you on here writing your toytown analysis when your industry is going into meltdown - do you think your clients will be pleased when they discover that your tax 'assistance' has been pulled by Government legislation and you haven't come up with an alternative vehicle yet?

    Shame - maybe you're not the accountant you thought you were....

  • Comment number 90.

    Great! Saga dangles a deliberately provcative bait to any dumb right wing troll and sure enough who turns up to the feast but Jobs @77. And by rising to the bait he validates the argument he thinks he's arguing against.
    It doesn't matter who was to blame. It only matters whether the Coalition's policies will improve or worsen our current situation. Can't say I'm feeling confident.

  • Comment number 91.

    #40

    "For anyone who asks - less cuts (although totally agree that council CEOs should not earn more than PM), less ideology and a bit more targeted tax is my outrageously high-level starter for 10."

    how about less ideology of the spend spend type then

  • Comment number 92.

    Writingsonthewall

    I think I remember you admitting to being a public sector drone in one of the Government departments. Which means you are working for the coalition. Shouldn't you resign on a point of principle? Or are you a little afraid of live outside the cozy confines of the public sector?

    With any luck, you won't have a choice.

    Oh and I liked your earlier claim that you "eat people like me for btreakfast". Must be your attention to detail, like not knowing the the Inland Revenue became HMRC 5 years ago. I have you down as a coco-pops sort of person. I bet when the milk goes all chocolaty you still get excited.

  • Comment number 93.

    89 - "do you think your clients will be pleased when they discover that your tax 'assistance' has been pulled by Government legislation and you haven't come up with an alternative vehicle yet?"

    Calm down. The legislation isn't retropsective so none of the very many schemes we've already put in place will be affected.

    Haven't come up with an alternative vehicle? You must be joking. You think loans from EBTs is the only thing we have to offer clients? What a dork.

  • Comment number 94.

    83. At 2:45pm on 13 Dec 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    "The ordinary people are right where the political establishment want them to be. Dumbed down so they dont question too loudly what is served up to them, obsessed with the cult of celebrity, pandering to their worst handed-down prejudices, apathetic, "cant be bothered", "whats in it for me", "dont get involved", "someone must be to blame"..."

    ...like the students? - are they apathetic? are they ignoring the problem? Yes, clearly right where the Government wants them....
    Weren't you criticising them recently? It seems that you like to damn those that do and damn those that don't.

    "Nothing Icke-y or Big Chief Of The Lizard people about it. Can you honestly tell me that all around you in the UK, that you see "ordinary" people who have got any form of political gumption whatsoever?"

    It depends what you mean by 'political gumption' - if you mean decyphering the codes of the markets and politicans - then no, however if you mean the ability to tell right from wrong - then I would suggest the vast majority do. You may look down on them but their moral compass works - unlike yours.

    "They will quite happily lap up whatever the BBC, Sky, The Mirror, The Mail or the Currant Bun tells them and they'll sit in their "first year payment free" sofas over Christmas with their "Imported from China" Iceland party nibbles and they'll moan about it and do nothing and question nothing."

    Really? - I'm going to hold you to this. Already we have seen people 'doing something' - but like I said, you jumped to the other side of the fence when that happened.

    "And there are others who will tell them what they want to hear in order to exploit their gullibility for their own political and monetary ends. And these fools will let them."

    Really? - have we not got a coalition government because the people have decided not to follow the status quo?

    "They dont get half the contempt they deserve. Their forefathers who fought in two world wars for their sakes wouldnt recognise any of them."

    Their forefathers had a clear enemy - in this situation your supposed 'friend' is actually your enemy. Whilst the brave and good fought Hitler to save us from Fascism, they have actually engineered a situation where a new type of fascism has been growing. Sadly those who fought no longer wanted to fight - now their children are going to take up the fight against the ruling classes.

  • Comment number 95.

    fubar @ 83

    Mmm - so why, when people do rise up off their plump ones and get involved (e.g. with the campaign against the cuts), do you also sneer at that? Seems to be a case of sneer either way. Seems to be all a bit ... well sneery, I guess.

    Do you hate them if they're clever and despise a fool?

  • Comment number 96.

    81#

    No fear from me where bedsit Walter Mittys, sitting in their Che Guevara T-shirts, thinking they're sticking it to "the man" like you are concerned mate. Dont flatter yourself.

    At the moment it is just contempt, but it may later turn to pity as I mellow with old age.

  • Comment number 97.

    86. At 2:52pm on 13 Dec 2010, sagamix wrote:

    "She smiled and stopped crying. Her brother, seeing her smiling, also started smiling - smiles replacing tears. The Mother smiled. I smiled."

    Almost as sinister as that time you were feeding choclate muffins to that kid with a wheat allergy in the coffee shop.

  • Comment number 98.

    Ah well. Took less than a hundred posts for my initial one to be proved right. Gotta be a record.

  • Comment number 99.

    61. At 1:30pm on 13 Dec 2010, sagamix wrote:

    "The Tory Story - the narrative they'll try to weave over the next couple of years - is to pin responsibility for the cuts on Labour even though it's they and not Labour who are in office. This is akin to blaming the Conservatives for the deficit on the grounds it would have been just as bad (or worse) if they - and not Labour - had been in office pre May 2010."

    You've completely lost it this time. So, let me get this straight.

    Booboo picks up gun and accidently shoots Lucky dead because he is completely incompetent. Twinkle says "Lucky is dead! - its your fault Booboo". Booboo says - "you can't say that - it's akin to me blaming you because if you had picked up the gun the same thing might have happened".

  • Comment number 100.

    I blame the people responsible for the enormous budget deficit. The people responsible for the reckless spending over income.

    I certainly don't blame the people trying to bring that deficit figure down to manageable levels.

 

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