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The laddie's for listening

Nick Robinson | 12:37 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011

"I am different to Margaret Thatcher," David Cameron told me earlier this week and today he demonstrated just how different.

She famously said "the lady's not for turning".

He said today - the day his government confirmed u-turns on selling off the forests and cuts to housing benefit for the long-term unemployed - "should we listen to people along the way? Yes. I thought that was the point of a listening government".

You can, of course, take listening too far. The prime minister confirmed that he does occasionally listen to BBC Radio 4's Today programme but joked that only in limited amounts as "sometimes I find it gets in the way of my well-being and general breeziness".

PS This is beginning to feel like the week reality hit this government. Until recently ministers were largely in control of the political news agenda. At today's welfare launch, however, the PM faced awkward questions about forests, NHS cuts and battles with councils. He had to placate Iain Duncan Smith who angrily denied calling the unemployed "lazy". The noise of angry protesters drifted through the windows of Toynbee Hall. As someone once remarked about a previous Tory government: "never glad confident morning again".

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    As long as the listen does not lead to mishmash of policy.

    There is nothing wrong with saying some of the unemplyed are lazy
    because some are, I could give you names if you like.

    There are issues like the family Courts and CAFCASS where they could do with more listen so to get the changes right for a change, unlike labour whom progressivley make it worse out of idealology

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Lady T put a but more though in which is why she feel there was no need to turn and in most case was right

    Trouble is we have a coalition which sometimes muddles the thinking which is bound to lead to re-thinks when perhaps they should not be re-thought.

  • Comment number 3.

    If you think DC and his coalition are having a tough time think again. We'll see whether he's like Mrs T when he has to deal with double digit inflation and rising interest rates.
    The pips will be squeaking when their mortgages are going up, petrol goes through the £1.50 per litre barrier and unemployment rises to record levels.
    If you think the present cuts are drastic wait 12 months.
    It will be a bumpy ride to say the least and he'll need Mrs T's mettle to weather the storm.
    Mark my words.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think it is a very clever game of going for a lot of measures, but prepared to abandon 20% of it. It is a classic negotiation technique. Never go in with your lowest price. This way we all feel they are reasonable and that we have won a victory.

    When faced with dissenting voices (in interview with Nick Robinson) he remained resolute and beautifully eloquent: “Now, people that say ‘oh, that’s naive’ I don’t care, that’s what I think, that’s what I think government ought to be doing”. The contempt for reasonable debate – a lot of it from within his own party – is positively Mubarak-like.

    Still Cameron drones on with that rosy-cheeked, Look-Master-Geppetto-I’m-A-Real-Boy! expression: “in my own constituency, for example, there is a proposal to buy the local village pub”. Hold on – I think he’s on to something. This could be a winner where I live, in Bermondsey. True, banding together and buying The Ancient Foresters will not do anything to replace the hundreds of front-line services which are being cut, but perhaps we will all be too drunk to notice.

    Anyway, if you're interested in the full article, you can read it here: sturdyblog.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 5.

    And this is just the beginning of all the 21st century 'Cathy Come Home' stories that will hit the fan -not to mention public sector workers having a Tahrir Square moment next month. Mr Clegg has been a bit quiet lately - most out of character.

  • Comment number 6.

    "PS This is beginning to feel like the week reality hit this government."

    makes a change, it never did with the last lot.

    And whats the betting that Alex is advertising his blog again, about that latest opus of Monbiot attention grabbing, in post 4?

  • Comment number 7.

    I'd have thought the protests over tuition fees provided a pretty heavy dose of reality as well? Or are the Lib Dems not really part of this government?

  • Comment number 8.

    "sometimes I find it gets in the way of my well-being and general breeziness"

    Perish the thought.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good afternoon Nick,

    maybe it is about time for Cameron to 'get a grip' as Ben Bradshaw said in the commons this afternoon. I think what you alluding to is that that the government of national unity is falling apart at the seams, maybe we will have an autumn election. Finally, what is the government going to do about the failure of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli crop. Something must be done, get a grip.

  • Comment number 10.

    Prepared to be proved wrong, but I suspect these are reasonably cheap u-turns for Dave to make in financial terms - barely registering on the deficit reduction plan. With the economics all going the wrong way just now he is under pressure to do something before May elections to save a few votes, so sensible politics. New comms and strategy spin boys working their magic already?

    Compared to zero pay increases for council workers (not just those overpaid CEs) who will suffer VAT increase and inflation hits this doesn't even register. Osborne offered £250 one-offs back in 2010, but expected councils to pay for it - they said no. Now I wonder if there will be a u-turn on this with George stumping up £250m to help 1m people on less that £21k just a little bit over the next 12 months. Absolutely no chance cos that isn't financial small beer. George would be worried it might result in a credit downgrade for the UK (current Osborne saving compared to end 2009 running at 0.15%-0.20% - whoa).

    Well done to people who lobbied to have the forestry decision overturned and grudging acknowledgement to IDS for the housing benefit move (which if left was effectively kicking someone very hard while they were already down).

    The laddie may listen, but he'll only hear if he doesn't need to dip into his pocket.

  • Comment number 11.

    6 Fuber

    Come on then, I'll start. I do read your posts but

    "sometimes I find it gets in the way of my well-being and general breeziness".

    Your turn.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm all in favour of rethinks, adjustments and, if not u-turns, then significant changes of directions.

    But coming into Government from a long period in opposition with a settled leader - best part of five years - one would expect a new Government to be able to announce its policy on Benefits today, for example, knowing pretty clearly what it proposed to do. What did we get from Lord Freud on the radio? "Well that is still to be worked out." "We are not exactly sure how all claimants will be affected."

    To be fair, the coalition with the LibDems has complicated things and there has obviously had to be some trading of standpoints and policies.

    The full-stop on the forestry sell-off is welcome. It shows The Coalition is listening - up to a point. The change of direction that was needed and would have really scored highly with everyone, and would have shot N.Labour's fox into the bargain, was on tuition fees.

  • Comment number 13.

    I still think he'll cancel the closure of the coastguard stations as is. It IS a stupid idea.

  • Comment number 14.

    5. At 1:14pm on 17 Feb 2011, watriler wrote:

    "Mr Clegg has been a bit quiet lately - most out of character."

    Sitting, watching, waiting, plotting. Won't be long before the people want rid of the ruling party and demand change!


  • Comment number 15.

    "I find it gets in the way of my well-being and general breeziness."

    Not as much as rocketing tuition fees get in the way of the well-being and general breeziness of the aspiring working-to-middle class student.

    Not as much as local government cuts get in the way of the well-being and general breeziness of hard-working, under-paid front-line staff delivering essential local and social services.

    Not as much as burglary and violent crime get in the way of the well-being and general breeziness of those suffering at the hands of thugs and thieves who would have been locked up - had all the police not been pulled off the streets to do the back-room tasks of recently-redundant civvies.

    Well-being and general breeziness? CallMeDave seems to be channelling Bertie Wooster, with all the attendant astuteness. Trouble is, Boy George ain't no Jeeves. Nor's Nick Clegg, come to that.

  • Comment number 16.

    9. At 1:16pm on 17 Feb 2011, Catch22 wrote:

    "what is the government going to do about the failure of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli crop."

    Catch, is this one of the issues that Susan was alluding to on the last blog? If so, we're on the case.

  • Comment number 17.

    11#

    The Toady programme is enough to give anyone on the right or centre right an attack of the vapours in the morning, let alone a conservative PM. I only listen to it on long Wave because theres no other English language broadcasts I can pick up in the car on the drive into work. Doom, Doom, Doom, you're all dooooomed....

    Looks like I was right about Post 4 as well....

    "The contempt for reasonable debate – a lot of it from within his own party – is positively Mubarak-like."

    God knows what they're putting in the water in Bermondsey. No wonder those from the north bank of the Thames try and avoid it like the plague. Yet more LoonyLeftHyperbole.com

  • Comment number 18.

    Compared to zero pay increases for council workers (not just those overpaid CEs) who will suffer VAT increase and inflation hits this doesn't even register. Osborne offered £250 one-offs back in 2010, but expected councils to pay for it - they said no. Now I wonder if there will be a u-turn on this with George stumping up £250m to help 1m people on less that £21k just a little bit over the next 12 months. Absolutely no chance cos that isn't financial small beer.
    -------------------------------------------------------

    Bl**dy right too, where the hell was Gordon and Darling's largesse to help out the "hard working families" when they doubled income tax on them overnight and when the private sector was having to take paycuts rather than have redundancies?

    Or is it only a scandal when it affects the unions and the private sector then Ginge?? The rest of us dont count?

  • Comment number 19.

    Yep - the meltdown has started ... and his cuts have barely begun yet.


  • Comment number 20.

    (In case I remain moderated!)
    If David Cameron is listening he will call a halt to the planned changes to the coastguard service.
    Because they ARE stupid.

  • Comment number 21.

    re #4
    Ah, but when you own the pub, will you really want to drink away the proits?

  • Comment number 22.

    I wonder whether this is all part of the overall scheme - announce some cuts that will get lefties up in arms, allow them to vent their spleens and show that you are a caring, sharing government by listening to the majority and changing your mind. When it comes to the big stuff that affects the economy, get stuck in and get it done to show the electorate that you're strong and true to your word. I think this may be a much smarter and more nuanced plan than we give them credit for, and I can see it working.

  • Comment number 23.

    Her Majesty's loyal opposition has still not presented a set of policies so there isn't much to discuss at the moment.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm not surprised IDS is getting a bit tetchy, he's probably just woken up to the fact that his welfare master plan relies on the HMRC IT system, which is the most disfunctional in all of government's many and mostly inferior contractor provided systems. 'Good mornings' are definitely going to be in short supply.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 25.

    22#

    He probably did before writing the blog. Particularly if this pub only sold absinthe....

  • Comment number 26.

    18 Fubar,

    Thought I might get picked up on that!

    Good though that you picked up on one of the few examples of Brown u-turn, when he left Darling to clear up the 10% tax rate mess - but it was made good in the end and at some cost. That tax rate was always a mistake - should have been personal allowances in the first place, but Labour couldn't resist an opportunity to further complicate our tax system.

    You are also correct to pick up on low paid private sector workers too - thats why the VAT rise is such a bad policy, as is some of the tax credit changes going through.

    I'm not a public sector good, private sector bad cheerleader, but after 20 years of being whacked and then some recovery under Labour, the Tories do seem to want to punish the public sector a little disproportionally again.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good Afternoon Nick,

    as the news from North Africa and the Middle East gets worse then I demand that the left, and all those with any interest in in politics, and philosophy take to the streets. We must not be deprived of our Purple Sprouting Broccoli, for ever more referred to as the PSB, which must not be confused with the PSB, the Public Sector Borrowing.

    No Nick, this is deadly serious, the effect on the RPI will be disastrous, we can expect it to rise inexoribly for the next few weeks, and months. The guvnor of the BofE was so right to warn us of these rises. Without the money from the sale of the forests we can expect inflation to worsen, we must sell off the woodland so that food can be grown on the fertile soil, we must immediately turn over vast tracts of previously brown field sites to the growing of PSB, as Winston, the last great Englisman would say, 'action this day' or as I would say 'Get a Grip'.

  • Comment number 28.

    Surely Nick, there is a gulf between Cameron and Thatcher in that she, (commonly known as the evil one) came in with a plan to reduce the British industrial base, relieve the high earners from re-distributive taxes, allow them to ship more of the money they earned here to off-shore tax havens, reduce the effectiveness of organised labour, create a pool of unemployed in order to create a less secure lower paid workforce and allow freedom for those who take from the pot by trading in money and shares.

    Whereas, Cameron just said he was "a man with a plan".

    What he actually was, was a man with lots of , well he thought they were good ideas.

    As he has admitted to you, opposition is easy, making decisions is alot more tricky. It wont be long before the men in grey suits will be saying, "We think it is time for a new leader to emerge"

    Can't wait.

    It's always a good time to be a socialist, Robin.

  • Comment number 29.

    #18 Hear hear, it's easy for the unions with their squillions to pay for PR, lobbyists and government insiders to make a big hoohar about the cuts that Labour left us with. Not so easy for the majority in this country to get our voices heard about working hard and paying for a bloated public sector. I can see Labour going the same way as Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock and not having a sniff of power for a very long time.

  • Comment number 30.

    22 Peter White

    Another person suggesting that this government is full of deceipt. Surely, this was the government to regain the trust of the people after the MP's expenses and as DC said "it's right to be straight with people". Hope he and the government are not going against their word because that really would get in the way of all our well-being and general breeziness.

  • Comment number 31.

    Fubar - my blog contains my opinion. It is expressed in sentences that form paragraphs. It contains a picture or two and an audio clip. I cannot post all of that here. 10,000 people have read it so far, commented, engaged, disagreed, subscribed.

    If I ever decide to adopt your strategy of heckling from the sidelines with unfunny, malformed one-liners, I will let you know.

  • Comment number 32.

    I watched the welfare speech and the questions this morning and was struck by how uncomfortable the PM looked. I think he had a good story to tell -now that they have U turned on the housing benefit cut for the long term unemployed (during a slow recovery) the direction of policy makes sense to me.
    The devil is in the detail though and this government doesn't do detail that well -they seem to spin then engage brain hence the need for so many U turns. The PM seemed a bit shocked, I thought, when charity leaders told him the contracting process for his back to work plan has difficulties already. This shows a lack of business experence (just like GB)outside politics. The real success of this policy now depends on social enterpises having the cash flow to survive the contracts the government wants to put in place. This will be difficult and I suspect will have to change before they get the results they want.
    I did smile at the PM talking about the entitlement culture to benefits and how it needed to change. He then admitted in the questioning that he had applied for disability benefits and the forms were terrible-nothing wrong with that but a bit naive politically to say it when you are criticising a benefits entitlement culture in the UK.
    I don't think he (No 10) is/are working hard enough for the speed the government is going -he doesn't seem on top of the detail until problems arise and then the spinning starts. At least he is aware of this and is taking on more special advisors (like Labour did, a fact he criticised a lot) to help him get on top of things. I think he will need them.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm so cynical that I wonder whether the U turn about the forests was planned in advance. The proposed changes to the forests got a lot of high profile publicity very quickly. Not much political damage has been done long term. NOW Cameron can say, "I do listen. I'm not stubborn. We changed our minds over the forests." I think we will hear this mantra several times as the coalition try to push through unpopular policies. Expect a U turn every year to show how caring and listening they are. One of Gordon's many failings was that he forgot this basic way of manipulating the public perception. Glad to see that david has revived it.

  • Comment number 34.

    No2 IR35
    Davey U-turn appears spineless when compared to 'La passionaria of middle class privilege'
    You will no doubt remember what happened to her. The Tory backbenches, the people who knew her best, stabbed her in the back, booted her out and stamped her out like a rodent.
    They did of course get some help from the chief assassin, the international cigarette salesman, European fanatic and current Minister of Justice.
    It does not bode well for the Bullingdon Kid.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ian Duncan Smith does not need to call the 'unemployed lazy?'. His very policy is to imply they are? In the absence of work availability it's probably helpful to him a few people saw fit to elect him, the only other job he might get is of course with Osbourne, Cameron et al in the family bank!

    Too late with 'soppy' 'we are a listening government'stuff now Nick, team Cameron are not very good! The political news agenda you and others help them with is now unravelling! This is about peoples lives, something this cabinet of millionaires have little experience of.

  • Comment number 36.

    #29 p w

    What is this bloated public sector? It is only bloated if you are lucky enough never to need the services that they carry-out, they provide services that most people need from time to time or occasionally.

    The interesting intervention by Mr Pickles that council staff should not be paid over £100k without a vote could be a precurser to the tory-led coalition making this a requirement for shareholders in companies as well.

  • Comment number 37.

    Peter White @ 29

    Oh Peter

    Come now and lets take off those blue-tinted spectacles for a brief moment.

    Methinks the Hedge-funds backed Tories trumps Union-backed Labour for funds arising from the respective arrangements. I think you'll also find that lobbyists will be a bit more private sector biased than public sector (given the colour of the current government). Pretty sure you could look high and low for union member government advisors and be sorely disappointed.

    I know you are probably disappointed that when the Tories got put out of govt they faced a Labour majority of 160, whereas when that nasty Labour party lost, it faced a Tory majority of, eh, -20. What that means is it may not be a long time before you need to take a deep breath and put up with Labour in govt again. Politics - its a funny old game.

    What we really really need is a nice balance between public and private. You think Labour got that (badly?) wrong, I'm not so sure, but I reckon the Tories are going to wind us all back to the 1990s if they can get away with it. Not sure that will help anyone.

  • Comment number 38.

    She was more masculine.

  • Comment number 39.

    Alex in 4 may be right, it's like what's been called 'chaos theory' where you open as many cans of worms at once and while everyone's distracted you push down the bitter pills you always intended to, not actually caring about any of the other cans you've opened, e.g. Forests, Coastguards, Libraries, un-built Schools.

    Alternatively, with no clear plans in so many areas of life (for ordinary people you understand – not people like Us), no clear picture of how to bring the country to glory after all the destruction. After five years' potential planning perhaps the Eton Rifles are as naive as they seem, maybe they simply don't know what they're doing!
    Government's just like Debating Club isn't it? Just like Bullingdon, Yah?

  • Comment number 40.

    27. Catch22 wrote:

    "We must not be deprived of our Purple Sprouting Broccoli, for ever more referred to as the PSB, which must not be confused with the PSB, the Public Sector Borrowing."
    "Without the money from the sale of the forests we can expect inflation to worsen, we must sell off the woodland so that food can be grown on the fertile soil, we must immediately turn over vast tracts of previously brown field sites to the growing of PSB, as Winston, the last great Englisman would say, 'action this day' or as I would say 'Get a Grip'."

    Catch, whilst I share your concerns about the PSB I can't agree on your idea of turning woodlands into agricultural lands. They are more than just recreational areas, they support a diverse eco-system; a mass of organisms which are vital for the health of our local environment.
    No, rather think about tearing down sub-standard housing estates and turn them into farming co-operatives or kibbutzim. Teach the unemployed to farm, to till the land again. Cut down on imported foodstuffs, grow the economy and put people back to work.

  • Comment number 41.

    #156. At 12:19pm on 17 Feb 2011, labourbankruptedusall wrote:
    (A few blogs ago)

    Aye. But your issue then should be with the elected members of the council who approved it rather than the council officials.

    You sound like you are having a pop at the officials which is not fair.

    The problem you appear to have is with the elected members who will have voted for it. That's democracy - or at least it is elected accountability. Vote them out but don't take it out on the council officials who are not allowed to make these decisions without approval from the elected members!

  • Comment number 42.

    The BG @ 84 (previous thread)

    Yes, you're right, I did support the invasion of Iraq.

    Interesting times for the middle east at present. You know, Blair was right all along when he suggested that seeing Iraqis going to the polls would inspire pro-democracy campaigners in other parts of the region. Just took a bit longer to happen than we (Tony and I) expected.

  • Comment number 43.

    No28 eye-wash,
    Your first paragraph details the aims and success of the 'Grantham Spam Hoarder' in a manner second to none.The last governments acceptance of the 'Thatchrite Settlement' has done enormous damage to the future economic life of the nation, and its social fabric.

  • Comment number 44.

    This govt is in trouble. They have failed to:
    - remove taxpayer liability for the future losses of bank bondholders,
    - stick to their view that it is not the govt's role to farm spruce trees,
    - enable growth by changing planning law to get the needed million plus new homes built in the South East and manufacturing with supporting infrastructure built in cost effective Eastern and Southern coastal locations.

    This govt, the media and the population haven't understood the lesson of the credit crisis. Not only was the revolution in Egypt triggered and suppported by ambitious youngish people with computers and an internet connection, so to was the credit crisis only these protagonists had access to the throw away millions of wealthy investors. In both cases those bought low were failing to govern their sphere with competence.

  • Comment number 45.

    Cameron, could he run a tuck shop? Did he run a tuck shop? Could well be 'no' to both.

  • Comment number 46.

    #36 eye-wish wrote:
    "What is this bloated public sector? It is only bloated if you are lucky enough never to need the services that they carry-out"

    This is the argument that goes:
    a) we rely on the NHS (public sector) when we are going to die
    b) all men are mortal
    c) therefore, we all rely on the public sector

    The public sector is more or less bloated to the extent to which it provides more or less high quality services at more or less cost to the public purse (i.e. more or less than the private sector could provide).

    The 'public sector = good' mantra actually encourages under-performance in the public sector.

  • Comment number 47.

    Changed my post at #46 at the last minute and completely destroyed the logic.

    No edit facility, unfortunately.

    Come on BBC, even a cheap and cheerful forum allows this.

  • Comment number 48.

    42. pdavies65:

    'Interesting times for the middle east at present. You know, Blair was right all along when he suggested that seeing Iraqis going to the polls would inspire pro-democracy campaigners in other parts of the region. Just took a bit longer to happen than we (Tony and I) expected.'


    Yep, I suspect the CIA is behind all this.
    A cheaper way of eventually sorting out Iran. Of course like most of their escapades it has the potential to backfire.

    Nothing like a good conspiracy theory.

  • Comment number 49.

    A more pertinent question is how Cameron is going to keep ministerial loyalty. Spelman's forest sell off policy was ridiculed in the Commons by Cameron at PMQs - whether this was intentional, who knows.

    It is poor leadership and bad management. I know politicians want to look good all the time but in a government of national unity it would be good to see some mature responsibilty for once.

  • Comment number 50.

    "I attacked his methods, his megalomania, his incompetence, his lying." - fubar

    Did you? Did you really?

    Suppose you’ve skidadled now but, okay, fine, you stay in a make-believe world where you didn't author a veritable deluge of posts attacking Brown for things which had nothing to do with policy or with his abilities as a politician. We know who's got the better memory on this one, don’t we? Yes we do. Call me The Elephant. An elephant with a great memory, that is. An unusual one.

    And all that "I'm more working class than you are" stuff you're coming out with - (a) You have no clue, and (b) It's beyond funny, it really is, your fixation on class, when you've just finished a rant about how it's a heinous crime against rational debate to even mention that the PM (Mr Cameron ... for it is he) comes from privilege.

    You do see this, don't you? What a godawful mess you're making.

  • Comment number 51.

    ScotInNotts 87

    From previous blog.

    You have to remember that England has had high levels of immigration, these people have come over the years to recognise themselves as British, long before devolution happened. Scotland in the past has had very little immigration. Therefore it seems apt that people still identify themselves as British in England. Having lived in both Scotland and England over recent years, they are totally different in approach and culture. In England it could be a very different ball game if we began, being all nationalistic and waving flags all over the place. It may very well send out the wrong signal, especially in these troubled times. A balance has to be kept between loving our Country and accepting we are one people no matter what our race or creed.


    The other issue you must understand is that the English do not have the anger towards their Scottish neighbours that you seem to think. I am surprised you do not know this living in England as you do. It is not necessarily apathy that makes the English much less concerned about the issues of being called British etc. It is because, in a lot cases, they are unaware of how the Scottish view the English, they frequently see it as just harmless banter between Nations.

  • Comment number 52.

    If Mr. Cameron is really prepared to listen -- how about a U-turn on his commitment to ring fence Foreign Aid -? When we hear of Aid to China, Russia and India - all who are probably better off than we are, perhaps he should listen to "Charity begins at Home " !

  • Comment number 53.

    Interesting times for the middle east at present. You know, Blair was right all along when he suggested that seeing Iraqis going to the polls would inspire pro-democracy campaigners in other parts of the region. Just took a bit longer to happen than we (Tony and I) expected.

    So it was Blair's crusade, rather than rising food prices. Shame about all the dead though.

  • Comment number 54.

    The u turn on the Forrest sale is something they will quickly put behind them . Having just listened to an interview of the bbc news with one of our career benifit culture recipients tell everyone that the only way he would look for or go to work is if the goverment stopped all his money . If I was a cynical left wing blogger I may think that he was a plant to give the welfare remorms the support of public anger and that the u turn was another softening up tactic

  • Comment number 55.

    jh66 @ 47

    We get the gist, John, don't worry.

    And you're right. The 'public Good, private Bad' mantra doesn't illuminate. Gets us nowhere. Neither, of course, does the 'public Bad, private Good' mantra.

    A conclusion, there, I think, a pretty clear one - mantras get us nowhere.

    All together now: "Mantras get us nowhere. Mantras get us nowhere, Mantras get us ..."

  • Comment number 56.

    45. sagamix wrote:

    Cameron, could he run a tuck shop? Did he run a tuck shop? Could well be 'no' to both.


    Only the Imported Cheese section, S, as my sources have it.
    Osborne was packing and stacking, wouldn't let him near the cash register.

  • Comment number 57.

    pd@42
    "You know, Blair was right all along when he suggested that seeing Iraqis going to the polls would inspire pro-democracy campaigners in other parts of the region. "

    Not completely convinced with that argument - the other way of looking at it is that the region has beem destabilised.

    I'm guessing you concur with Michael White's response to Curveball - "another liar surfaces in the Iraqi tragedy and, yet again, doesn't turn out to be Tony Blair".

  • Comment number 58.

    Don't know who else saw it but when Cameron was asked by Milliband in the Commons about "whether he was happy with the governments policy on forestry" and he answered "No".......and the whole of the Coalition front bench started guffawing, very strange, as though there was some in- joke going on.

    I reckon it is merely a set-up, U-Turn on things that you're not really bothered about, appear to be concerned and listening........blah blah blah....

    Tory Boys.....Not Fit for Purpose.....

  • Comment number 59.

    Poor David Cameron. When he became PM he thought he could do anything. Now he's found out he can't even sell a few trees.

  • Comment number 60.

    The whole coalition's economic and social policy is a house of cards and one of the most critical ones that must hold up the rest is job creation.

    Without new private sector jobs in large numbers to replace the public sector redundancies there will be no economic growth, welfare bills will rise and tax take will fall leading to the deficit rising not falling, which in turn will see our borrowing costs rocket, the Pound will fall even further and cause even higher inflation.

    The CBI says there is no plan - the White Paper before Xmas was cancelled - we hear that the Government is focussed on job creation - but nothing happens and the doles queues get longer.

    Where are the 2,000,000+ new jobs to come from?

    No amount of mentoring the unemployed or "sorting out" drug/alcohol addiction to get people ready to work is going to change anything if the jobs aren't there in the first place.

    I support much of what IDS is doing to try and end the benefits trap and give practical help to the unemployed rather than letting them sink or swim - it makes sense.

    If this was against a backdrop of growth and a reasonable level of job creation, then it would make a difference - the risk is that we are flogging a dead horse if there aren't the jobs there.

    The other contradictory position is on pricing the poor out of affluent areas - these will be the places where there will be jobs available, but if the unemployed can't afford to live there or commute to them either, we'll end up with a new form of "trap" to replace the benefits trap - "the Mobility Trap" seems a suitable name - by making no go areas where rents are unaffordable, we will have the unemployed trapped in low rental areas whilst what jobs there are are in these new no go areas.

    With real incomes being squeeezed by inflationary pressures from abroad and $110 Bn being taken out of the economy, there's a very real risk of further contraction in demand that will lead to more job loses and the vicious spiral of stagflation will set in.

    So my suggestion for DS's next U turn would be a major programme of construction of social housing to create homes for lower income people and jobs for the building workers facing the dole as existing programmes come to an end, plus a youth trainig and work experience programme to give employers a wodge of money to take them on. He could also defer the cuts in local autority spending and spread them over three years.

    Bit of a problem with all this though - it's exactly what Alistair Darling planned to do...

  • Comment number 61.

    53. WunnyBabbit wrote:

    'So it was Blair's crusade, rather than rising food prices. Shame about all the dead though.'


    I believe they call it a 'price worth paying', WB.

  • Comment number 62.

    54 jim3227 wrote:

    Having just listened to an interview of the bbc news with one of our career benifit culture recipients tell everyone that the only way he would look for or go to work is if the goverment stopped all his money . If I was a cynical left wing blogger I may think that he was a plant to give the welfare remorms the support of public anger and that the u turn was another softening up tactic

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

    There was an interesting piece on welfare reform on Newsnight on Tuesday with Lawrence Mead in Liverpool.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9397570.stm

  • Comment number 63.

    bit of a kefuffle on here today...

    Can't see the wood for the trees.

    Clearing up labour's mess...

  • Comment number 64.

    56 TheBlameGame wrote:
    45. sagamix wrote:

    Cameron, could he run a tuck shop? Did he run a tuck shop? Could well be 'no' to both.


    Only the Imported Cheese section, S, as my sources have it.
    Osborne was packing and stacking, wouldn't let him near the cash register.

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

    ...and Pickles was only allowed on the till, couldn't have him within a tongue's length of the stock.

  • Comment number 65.

    I know that a u-turn is always regarded as politically damaging, but I'm not convinced it need be. Consistent indecision reflects poorly on one's leadership, so yes, a series of u-turns would adversely affect a government. But an occasional change of mind is perfectly healthy; I would rather have a government which recognises it's going down the wrong path and changes policy than one which ploughs on regardless, merely to prove that it has conviction.

    On this specific issue, I think it's clear to see that Cameron recognised it wasn't a fight worth having. This was an issue which unified right and left in opposition and, in the grand scheme of things, the policy can't have been a priority. Dropping it was the sensible course of action, although I bet he wishes he could have done it away from the spotlight. The most damaging aspect of this, in my view, is how poorly the policy launch was handled. If it was such a fantastic scheme, why were Spelman and co unable to get the message across? If it was a rubbish idea after all, why on earth pursue it in the first place when there were, and still are, so many important things to be getting on with?

    Better from Cameron's point of view to back down on this than to give in on, say, free schools or, worse still, the pace of deficit reduction. Those will be greater tests of his leadership because although the opposition doesn't stretch across the political spectrum in the same way, it is strong and deeply-felt. He'll require backbone then and I'll reserve judgment on whether he has it. Early signs aren't good, however, given that I hear IDS has omitted much-needed reforms to housing benefit in the new welfare legislation.

  • Comment number 66.

    susan @ 51

    "You have to remember that England has had high levels of immigration"

    Yes I suppose so.

    What do you think of Jimmy Reid?

  • Comment number 67.

    51. Susan-Croft
    "Scotland in the past has had very little immigration."

    100% inaccuracy is really difficult to attain!

    In fact every single person in Scotland is descended from immigrants.

  • Comment number 68.

    @1 "There is nothing wrong with saying some of the unemplyed are lazy
    because some are, I could give you names if you like."

    So could I. I agree, and I'm somewhere to to the left of Robin Hood.

    A big problem in politics is that all sides try to simplify the truth to suit their agenda. In the end, the power of groupthink makes reasonable people try to defend the indefensible, or use the argument of "what about what the other side did." That's why this blog, unlike some others, too often ends up as a sterile point-scoring match - the kind of argument that ordinary electors despise. (And I've done enough canvassing over the decades to know!)

    I think the coalition's policies are terrible, and that Cameron's world view is blinkered and inadequate. But you won't find me demonising him as a human being.

  • Comment number 69.

    36. eye-wish

    Shareholders can bring about the removal of a director. Further, if a director is offered a service contract with a fixed term of over two years, this must be approved by the shareholders.

    I think the above shows that there are greater accountability structures in your average company than in local government.

    Besides, while I might not like the eye-watering sums on offer to CEOs of private companies I can, ultimately, console myself that I don't have to pay for it (except in the case of RBS, for example, which I and many others remain furious about). Further, if I'm not a shareholder in that company or user of its products, I don't even need to worry about any dividends or quality, respectively.

    Local government is different in that taxation forces me to subsidise wages and output. If wages are excessive then of course I'm going to question whether there's value for money. More galling is when, in spite of the colossal wages (which I'm told are offered to attract the best people for the job...) services are poor or non-existent.

    In short, I don't think the comparison between private companies and local councils really works.

  • Comment number 70.

    reincarnation 67

    You know exactly what I mean. I don't mind you being anti English but at least make sensible points.

  • Comment number 71.

    #51 Susan-Croft

    Hi Susan, how are you, hope you're well?

    Have to correct you I'm afraid. Scotland has had it's fair share of immigration in the past from all over the world; Eastern Europe (both past and present, a nice story about the Lithuanian community), countries formerly part of the Empire, Asia and of course from Ireland. They have all come to reconcile themselves as Scottish/British whilst still retaining something of their ancestral culture within Scotland. In this regards Scotland is not any different to England in that they have had successive waves of immigration.

    As for the rest of you're post and to what point you were attempting to make I have no idea what you're blethering about?


    The other issue you must understand is that the English do not have the anger towards their Scottish neighbours that you seem to think. I am surprised you do not know this living in England as you do. It is not necessarily apathy that makes the English much less concerned about the issues of being called British etc. It is because, in a lot cases, they are unaware of how the Scottish view the English, they frequently see it as just harmless banter between Nations.

  • Comment number 72.

    @51 Susan: Very thoughtful and largely true.

    re @71 on the previous thread - I think our worldviews are in many ways incompatible.

    My post-school education was in maths and science, but history was my first love, and is an enduring passion for me. I live and breathe it. I beleve that our history, even that of your child chimney sweeps, makes this country what it is today. (I was brought up with Mrs "BeDoneByAsYouDid")

    "Clarkson's first law of mathematics" is that everything is connected to everything else. I think that applies to history too. For example, I would bet that I could give you a credible chain of cause and effect linking Wycliff and the Lollards with the financing and building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway 500 years later.

    I see the picture of history as a vector graphic as much as a bitmap. There are recurring and interweaving themes, some of which I would pesonally encourage; others of which I would fight against.

    Peace be unto you :-)

  • Comment number 73.

    sagamix 66

    Actually I was getting round to writing to you on the subject of Jimmy Reid. It was about the only thing you have said to me today which interested me. However, I have to go out to dinner, I will maybe try and do it tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 74.

    RB @ 60

    The youth unemployment figures are terrible. This must be addressed and I don't care how much it costs; we can't tolerate having large numbers of young people not able to get going in life. That's tragic. That's not acceptable.

  • Comment number 75.

    4. Alex_Bermondsey said

    'The contempt for reasonable debate – a lot of it from within his own party – is positively Mubarak-like'

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

    I don't think that's called for.

    Now if you're actually an Egyptian, or if you lived there for any length of time and were prevented from expressing a reasonable view, then fair enough, you'll be able to judge whether our societies and governments are similar.

    Otherwise, I think it's disrespectful and wrong to compare the leader of a (comparatively) free country, of whom you don't approve, with a deposed leader of an undemocratic state where dissent was violently suppressed.

    I'm not Cameron's biggest fan but at least I feel confident enough to say that, in private or in public, without the fear of a knock at the door from the authorities. I trust you feel the same?

  • Comment number 76.

    reincarnation

    I'm intrigued, what did you do to deserve that label from Susan?

    "70. At 5:43pm on 17 Feb 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:
    reincarnation 67

    You know exactly what I mean. I don't mind you being anti English but at least make sensible points."

  • Comment number 77.

    Nick he is more PR than PM. He will be rememered as the man who

    -U turned the UK economy
    -U turned on banckers bonuses
    -U turned on selling woodland
    -U turned on localism (where it was a Labour authority)

    I mean, where does this man get off saying he does not like the woodland policy? It was his pathetic Condem dham that proposed it!!

  • Comment number 78.

    SC @ 73

    No, Susan, don't go out to dinner. It's just 6 pm, only very old people eat at this hour. You definitely still have time to tell me what you think of Jimmy Reid, the man and his politics. Let's not leave it till tomorrow morning. I might not even be around tomorrow morning, I might be doing something else.

  • Comment number 79.

    56 Blame

    Not for profit organisation - so George had no choice but have the tuck shop closed. Still waiting for it to be re-opened under the BS banner.,

    22 Catch22

    PSB - I've left the woodlands alone but made a start by digging up the local bowling green. I'll start rotivating the Oval tomorrow and Twickers next Monday. Hope this meets with your approval.

  • Comment number 80.

    #68 Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    "A big problem in politics is that all sides try to simplify the truth to suit their agenda"

    "That's why this blog too often ends up as a sterile point-scoring match."

    "I think the coalition's policies are terrible."

    Thank you for your contribution. I've been trying to relate the first two sentences to the third, but am unable to do so.

    Why not stick to good old-fashioned honest political partisanship?

  • Comment number 81.

    ScotInNotts 71

    Yes you do know what I am bethering about, unless you have less of an intellect than I thought you had, you just don't want to admit it on the blog. That the English on the whole are more tolerant towards the Scottish than the other way round.

    Furthermore the more recent immigration levels into England have much more significance as to how we should approach Naitonalism. Scotland is a very small Country compared to England with a much less recent history if you like, of immigration.

    Why I bother taking an interest in the subject of Scotland, I don't know, your minds are closed, it won't happen again, I will ignore it, like everybody else.

  • Comment number 82.

    78 Saga

    :-( So why the long face? I've just finished my dinner!

  • Comment number 83.

    74. At 5:50pm on 17 Feb 2011, sagamix wrote:
    RB @ 60

    The youth unemployment figures are terrible. This must be addressed and I don't care how much it costs; we can't tolerate having large numbers of young people not able to get going in life. That's tragic. That's not acceptable
    =================================================

    A solution that would create tens of thousands of jobs overnight is to scrap Intra Compnay Transfers. But this will not happen because Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems believe it is more important to Britain's economy for companies like Tata IT to bring in their employees from India. Initially short term contracts were involved but now duration is over 12 months to well indefinite? Between the Home Office and UK Borders (both of whom have terrible track records) do you think these are being policed and regulated properly? I sincerely doubt it.

  • Comment number 84.

    sagamix 78

    Its a work thing can't help it, Im already late, sending that one to scott. Wish I hadn't actually, waste of time. I should have answered you instead. There you go thats life.

  • Comment number 85.

    #72 Sasha Clarkson

    "@51 Susan: Very thoughtful and largely true."

    As you appear to have an idea of what Susan was on about, and she's no longer here, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what the point was?

    #51 Susan

    Having re-read your post I'm still none the wiser; I've addressed the erroneous immigration bit, but fail to see why youy mentioned any of this at all. As for the second paragraph...where did that come from?

    This post was supposed to be in response to this:

    "If I were an Englishman I would be rightly annoyed every time England was referred to as Britain; much in the same way as it is tiresome to hear Britian or the UK referred to as England by unknowing persons. Hopefully this realistion amongst the English electorate will grow into a healthy desire towards change for the better." Which in itself was in response to JohnConstable's post, himself commenting on englandrise contribution.


    Don't recall mentioning English people being angry, at Scots or anyone else, but that they (some) were rightly annoyed when the MSM or their elected representatives referred to "Britain" or the "UK" when they actually mean England.

    "It is not necessarily apathy that makes the English much less concerned about the issues of being called British etc. It is because, in a lot cases, they are unaware of how the Scottish view the English, they frequently see it as just harmless banter between Nations."

    How does the first sentence relate in any way to the second? Why does how Scots view England and it's people have any bearing on how English people feel about the terms "Britain" or "UK" being used when the term used should rightfully be England?

    Therefore I'm at a loss to explain what you've posted, and will remain so until you enlighten me after your sojourn.


  • Comment number 86.

    #81 Susan-Croft

    Behave yourself Susan; no need for the personal slurs. You appear to be determined to have an English v Scottish slagging match, why is that? I only ask as you're the only one to have brought up tolerance between England and Scotland, immigration and nationalism; to what end?

  • Comment number 87.

    78 sagamix

    "No, Susan, don't go out to dinner. It's just 6 pm, only very old people eat at this hour. You definitely still have time to tell me what you think of Jimmy Reid, the man and his politics. Let's not leave it till tomorrow morning. I might not even be around tomorrow morning, I might be doing something else."
    ==============================================

    Perhaps you could go and cook a souffle ? A really good one, you know, like you used to ? Did Jimmy Reid enjoy a good souffle ? I think we need to know.

    Sorry about my nom-de-plume, my previous one got modded.

  • Comment number 88.

    ScotInNotts 86

    My last post on this issue, you are incorrect, I am not interested at all in the Scottish issue. I was trying to help explain, in reasonable manner, why we English accept being called British. I did my upmost not to upset you in fact.

    Reincarnation has sent us many posts BTW which have been anti English, but mostly ignored by us all. I see you are the one trying to stir the blood in that direction.


  • Comment number 89.

    Maggie wouldn't ever entertain the idea of a U-Turn, she saw it as a sign of weakness. The rest of the world saw it as pig-headed stubbornness...

    There's no harm in DC and the current Government executing a few appropriate Yew Turns, to differentiate themselves from Maggie's era.

    Obviously better that they don't have the stupid ideas in the first place, but when its apparent they've got it horribly wrong its better that they execute a swift change of direction rather than blunder on blindy with the mistake..

    Actually, I rather admire the Ministers who will stand at the ballot box, admit the cock-up and apologise.

  • Comment number 90.

    Mr N @ 82

    Well you'll be struggling later then, won't you?

    On this 'U turn', the Coalition spokeswoman was so grovelling and humble about it in the Commons - just watched it - that even though I'm not usually someone to impute devious & impure motives to politicians (e.g. I think Brown was pretty much above board most of the time), I have a feeling this one might be a set-up; you know, look like we're 'listening' by changing tack on a policy we're not particularly fussed about in any case. Hope I'm wrong. I'm not usually, though, when it comes to this sort of thing.

  • Comment number 91.

    ECB @ 83

    I don't know what the answer is (or answers are) - that's why we elect experts like David Cameron and George Osborne, isn't it? - but there's something particularly awful about the idea of a willing & able young person just not being able to get a start in life. All (forced) unemployment is bad, but I find that the worst.

  • Comment number 92.

    susan @ 84

    Okay, if you must. Tell me tomorrow morning then. Jimmy Reid and the National Mortgage Bank - 'proper left' person and policy? Or not?

    But it's quite likely I won't see it - there's every chance that I'll be going out for breakfast.

  • Comment number 93.

    70. Susan-Croft
    "You know exactly what I mean"

    I'll ignore the offensive slur that you make. Too contemptible to bother with.

    If I knew what you meant, I'd have responded differently. At precisely what point is someone an immigrant as opposed to a native? It is possible that your view is that people are immigrants if they don't look or sound "English".

  • Comment number 94.

    "This is beginning to feel like the week reality hit this government. Until recently ministers were largely in control of the political news agenda."

    Good to see you have trying to hold them to account then. Or is it easier for you just to cuddle up to them.

  • Comment number 95.

    85. At 6:31pm on 17 Feb 2011, ScotInNotts

    How come you are in notts (nottinghamshire?) if you are so proud of being scottish and don't like the english very much?

    Nothing wrong with being patriotic but why live amongst people you have a chip on the sholder about?

  • Comment number 96.

    British troops stationed in several foreign countries
    £1.5 trillion national debt
    £200 billion Balance of payments deficits
    Trillions of quid in other national liabilities
    Inflation rising on two year upward spike
    Unemployment rising on 3 year upward trend
    8.4 million economically inactive
    14 million in need of a stable sufficient family income
    More than 50% of UK population receiving govt benefits

    + another list of iutems as long as your arms as including e.g.
    Chilcott enquiry raising more questions than answers
    El Megrahi

    and you're reporting about:
    - cuts to an unsustainable UK NHS world health tourism budget
    - a completed consultation on how to manage UK woodlands and forests
    - James Purnell's proposed welfare reforms being actioned by ... IDS
    - council 'fat cats' and 'champagne socialists' being taught the financial facts of life

    Now who is really being lazy here?

  • Comment number 97.

    Pickled 'U' @ 87

    What do you mean used to (make good ones)? No drop in standards chez-moi, I can assure you - souffles, political analysis, the works. Like today, for example, I managed to get sundry tory bloggers to acknowledge that David Cameron never did get to run the tuck shop at Eton; he wasn't allowed to - none of the pupils were - it was felt more appropriate that a member of staff did it. And now he's running the country, Cameron is. Or trying to. Food for thought, at the very least - maybe more than that.

  • Comment number 98.

    No72 Sasha,
    Like you I am also interested in history. Is it true that William the Conquerer, mentioned earlier, doled out the land to the 'robber barons'and even after all the years since, 15% is still owned by some of their descendents. Some of them can be seen dossing in the House of Lords everyday picking up their £400.00 daily allowance. Do you think that is one of the reasons the British have been ruled for so long by upper class idiots?
    Davey U turn has an interesting family tree.

  • Comment number 99.

    37. At 3:46pm on 17 Feb 2011, TheGingerF

    >"What that means is it may not be a long time before you need to take a deep breath and put up with Labour in govt again. Politics - its a funny old game."


    Personally, I was against Cameron forming this government in the first place (hiding to nothing), however, I think that you're getting a bit over-confident here.

    Unpopular deficit reduction could very easily become popular tax reduction, in 4 years time. With the structural deficit eliminated and the economy growing, Labour's mantra's of, ‘too deep, too fast’ and ‘its so unfair’ will no longer apply. And, at that point they can be accused of being wrong about the deficit! It won't be so easy then, and they’ll also have to come up with something constructive! As such, things could be very different indeed.


    BTW, interesting that Manchester council came up again today??

  • Comment number 100.

    Complain about this comment

    69. At 5:37pm on 17 Feb 2011, One_Lars_Melvang wrote:
    36. eye-wish

    "Shareholders can bring about the removal of a director. Further, if a director is offered a service contract with a fixed term of over two years, this must be approved by the shareholders.
    I think the above shows that there are greater accountability structures in your average company than in local government."

    Questionable,in many companies the CEOs appoint the board who will proceed to reward them for mediocre results.

    However these fixes are nothing compared with the scale of reward available to the CEOs of the footsie 100.Average annual salary of 2.8 million plus stock options,the ratio between earnings at the top and bottom,2620/1. Thirty years ago the ratio was 50/1,illustrative of the gross inequality which has developed since the 1980s and its attendant celebrity culture.

    It`s politically driven here and the USA.The market has been allowed to dominate public policy,along with it the change in values which legitimizes this excess.What redistribution there has been is from the poor and middle class to the rich. The present government is now taking this revolution further,removing the planks of security in public services which provided a safety net,turning socialized forms of capital in health,education and local government into enterprises for profit.

    This is the step too far,like the failed privatisation of forests it smacks of desperation as big capital increasingly looks to government for its stability.This is the systemic contradiction behind the policy,to shrink the state in the interests of private capital while having to expand it because the same capitalist interets are unstable.

    It was the contradiction the Thatcher government wrestled with thiry years earlier and didn`t resolve.Their intention was the same as the present government,but government spending grew as a consequence of capitalist failure.

    Like the Bourbons, they never learn or forget anything.


 

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