BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

'Shovel ready' schemes

Nick Robinson | 09:58 UK time, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Combine Bob the Builder and Barack Obama and what do you get? Nick Clegg or, at least, his latest economic offering.

Nick Clegg"Can we fix it? Yes, we can" is the Lib Dems message today. They are arguing that £12.5bn cost of cutting VAT would be better spent on fixing and building things.

Their "Green Road out of the Recession" proposals include:

• A five-year programme to insulate every school and hospital, with 20% completed in the first year
• Funding insulation and energy efficiency for a million homes, with a £1,000 subsidy for a million more
• Building 40,000 extra zero-carbon social houses
• Buying 700 new train carriages
• Reopening old railway lines and stations, opening new ones, electrifying the Great Western and Midland mainlines and beginning the Liverpool light rail network
• Installing energy and money saving smart meters in every home within five years

These are designed to be the sort of schemes which Obama describes as "shovel ready" - ie projects that can begin now without lengthy planning, design or logistical delays.

Interestingly, I sense that the Tories are beginning work on how to re-target public spending to prove that they can get more bang for the buck than the Treasury.

Both main opposition parties are bringing forward their plans just in case the PM does hold that an election in early 2009.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick Clegg sometimes speaks sense. . .

  • Comment number 2.

    Dear Nick,

    From "War in NUMBERS" TO " Sovel Ready Schemes in a blink of an eyr, war too much to handle?

  • Comment number 3.

    Simply give people who work some of their money back. It ain't rocket science.

    Up the tax allowance to £18k, keep the next £22k at basic rate, with the rest at higher rate. Average worker over £200 per month better off.

    Limit pension contributions to basic rate tax and stop subsidising rich people funding their pension schemes.

    Increase VAT to 20%. It would be a blip in a 50%-off world.

    Result is practically neutral to the government. THEN they should start employing gangs to dig and then fill holes in the road.

    They need to create demand. They need to stop micro managing. They need to put PEOPLE in charge of their own lives.

    But, under ZaNU Liebore, there's no chance.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Nick,

    Actually, what you get is a highly successful industrial worker who has just been elected by majority popular vote.

    Something you know who ain't!


  • Comment number 5.

    This looks pretty good. It does what it says on the tin: it is fresh thinking.

    It is at least a plan which is more than anything the government has produced.

    I am going to repeat my litany that we need a national government which can set out to redefine the political consensus as it takes our economy through the next few years of dire economic circumstance.

    The need to cut our public spending coat according to our income cloth is paramount for our economic recovery.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sounds more worthwhile than p***ing £12.5 billion in the wind like Gordon Brown has done with the VAT cut, lost among the 20% - 60% discounts available on the High Street.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm praying for a good Lib Dem showing and a hung Parliament whenever the election is held.

    The only way we'll ever get anything approaching democracy is through a coalition government and proportional representation.

    The current situation where any party with 35% of the vote from 25% of the electorate is likely to have a workable Commons majority is a travesty and always has been.

    We inched our way slowly towards proper democracy after Great Reform Act in the 18332 but have had no significant democratisation since all women got the vote in 1928. Neither Labour nor Conservative parties will undertake electoral reform from a majority position so we need the Lib Dems.

    Bring it on!

  • Comment number 8.


    You have my vote!

  • Comment number 9.

    Interestingly both opposition parties are trying to force Brown's hand cos they know he is weak when he has to make a decision - and this is going to be the biggest in his life. When does he want to lose power?

    All the stats show things are going to get a lot worse. McNulty on Newsnight last night showed precisely what is wrong with this government - talks a reasonable game, offering support, incentive this, scheme that, but the policies are not there to make this country work again - and especially his comments about Woolies workers.

    I would suggest Gordon holds on as long as possible. Get himself into the record books as the bottler we know he is and be the longest unelected PM in history. We could even get Jimmy Saville to present him with the medal.

  • Comment number 10.

    Exactly what we should be doing. The point is that this makes the money into a structural investment, something that will save us money in the long term. Thus the additional debt is turned into capital, not just frittered away on playstations.

  • Comment number 11.

    I used to vote for this lot!

    Now I realise they are just out of touch with reality.

    Building trains or railway lines won't effect me or the average person on the street, as 90% of the population have no trains anywhere near where they live or work!

    All you would end up doing is funding Polish builders, the rest of us would just be worse off as we pay for this through our Taxes.

  • Comment number 12.

    Lib/Lab coalition next time round...?

  • Comment number 13.

    Buying 700 new train carriages

    This concerns me.
    Do we have the ability to build rolling stock in this country. I thought the majority was sourced overseas.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with Nick on this one..

  • Comment number 15.

    Could work ...

    Let's seem some action, though. Any politician can spout this stuff. What are they going to do about it?

  • Comment number 16.

    Clegg makes sense.
    Cameron makes sense.

    Brown does not make sense.
    Even the Germans think so!

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm not sure if the LibDems are saying all of these projects could have been been funded through the CAT cut but I agree that this is the type of scheme that should have been introduced.

    Instead we had a tax cut that didn't apply to the main areas people spend their money on fuel, food and energy and was swamped by existing discounts elsewhere.

    Whilst Labour claimed that they would be bringing forward major building projects to boost the economy to date they have only announced the delay of building the new aircraft carriers.

  • Comment number 18.

    The 'election' rumour has been put out for precisely this reason.

    Brown has not got a 'creative' bone in his body - he has no new ideas, at all, ever - that is why he dithers - he is incapable of thinking his way out of anything.

    The 'election' rumour has been put out so the other parties show their hands, and brown/mandleson can steal all their best cards.

    Brown backs any 'lefty' looking polices while Mandleson can backs an 'right' looking policies - between them there is nothing they can't propose.

    However Brown is also completely unbalanced - our children will curse us for letting him get away with it.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think it was the Tories who first suggested building a fast rail link to the North many weeks ago as part of their alternative plans to counteract the need for airport expansion at Stansted and Heathrow and limit short-haul internal flights. This would of course, provide a lot of engineering and construction work during the recession and benefit the country's infrastructure for many years to come sustainably.

    So where does Nick gets his "Interestingly, I sense that the Tories are beginning work on how to re-target public spending to prove that they can get more bang for the buck than the Treasury."

    Perhaps he's been so busy concentrating on what his brief masters have been writing for him he wasn't paying attention to the other parties' plans at the time.

  • Comment number 20.

    ".......just in case the PM does hold that an election in early 2009."

    Come on Nick, spill the beans. We know you know. There must have been more to Mandy's wee pep talk the other day than the single question/answer that appeared on your blog.

    I'm still betting on February.

  • Comment number 21.

    Sounds like a plan to me. I just wish people would stop saying "I'd vote for them but they don't have a chance..."

    They do have a chance if people vote for them! (I certainly am - well, what are the other options, the nasty party, zanu labour... the greens (one policy) or the BNP (eeeeeeevillll)

  • Comment number 22.

    Quick Quiz, would you replace a 40k BMW with an 80k Aston Martin?

    If not why not? Could it be the Aston is twice the price of the BMW and half as practical.

    Train lines cost twice the price to put down as roads and are not practical for the majority of UK workers.

    When will we wake up to reality and realise that trains are not the future.

    Oh and trains output more CO2 than cars per passenger if you care about such things!

  • Comment number 23.

    Problem for Nick Clegg is whatever he says all the polls point to the LibDems losing seats at the next election as the electorate switch to the two main parties. The other problem for him is that his own Sheffield seat could be one to go. It is not a traditional Liberal area and I can see the Lib Dems shrinking back to their traditional areas in rural Scotland and the South West.

  • Comment number 24.

    Is Ratan Tata ( the very very rich Indian owner of Jaguar and Land Rover ) a very very good friend of the dodgy Lord. PM seems very keen to help, he must be on their Christmas card list!!
    Please Nick can you have a look at it .
    Great news for sufffering British businnesses, they all are going to get help from the taxpayers. Who cares now another billion there another couple there if it can get a couple of votes. In the meantime the Guardian pages are still full of adverts for useless well paid public sector jobs!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Why would we do something sensible like this, when we could fritter £12.5bn on a gimmick to subsidise Chinese imports instead?

  • Comment number 26.

    Well, I have to say, I completely agree with Cleggy on that one.

    If the problem is now unemployment or fear of unemployment, any cash that can be spared from the public purse (such as the 2.5% on VAT) should be spent creating new work...

    And making sure it goes to British citizens, rather than migrants...

  • Comment number 27.

    What we need to do is write off all debt and start afresh with a new system of sound money.

    All this fractional reserve banking of a fiat currency, backed by nothing and created out of thin-air only created a situation where bankers could invent money, then gamble trillions of dollars of more invented money in masses of complex financial instruments based on this invented money that had been created at the click of a mouse and loaned into circulation.

    I predict that such a system will not happen because the rich city fat-cats cannot create more money out of nothing that way. They would have to work for a living and EARN real wealth.

    The only way to create real wealth is out of the ground or through productivity. NOT shifting vast sums of figures about in complex computer systems really quickly to create the impression of wealth.

    The whole system is wrong!

  • Comment number 28.

    I think you are ALL missing the point on this policy.

    The £12.5 billion that Nick Clegg is referring to is money his party would NOT have spent in the first place. Therefore, any counter policy he is proposing is merely political point scoring.

    I would also refer you all to his original stance "When a ship is sinking, we must send out the lifeboats, not argue about who steered the ship into the iceberg" and he also argued that money should be "used to cut taxes for low and middle income earners. Hard-pressed families and individuals need more of their own money back now more than ever as they are worrying about their savings and facing mounting bills".

    Now he is arguing that this £12.5 billion cut in peoples taxes should have been spent elswhere.

    In hindsight you have plenty of time to make your mind up. During a crisis you do not.

  • Comment number 29.

    Vince Cable is a quiet calm and likeable chap. He is doing loads to up the Liberal's popularity.

    I can see that the electorate, heartily fed up with the unelected Brown, will vote Tory and Liberal in numbers closer than one would have seen historically.

    I still feel Tory is the way to go but can quite understand Cable's way of spelling out matters economic is appealing.

  • Comment number 30.

    Vince Cable is a quiet calm and likeable chap. He is doing loads to up the Liberal's popularity.

    I can see that the electorate, heartily fed up with the unelected Brown, will vote Tory and Liberal in numbers closer than one would have seen historically.

    I still feel Tory is the way to go but can quite understand Cable's way of spelling out matters economic is appealing.

    Clegg though, I find a bit of a watered down Tory. Which is what he is of course.

  • Comment number 31.


    Tata should NOT BE GIVEN A PENNY - of UK tax payers money...

    Tata is NOT a UK company.

    It claims one of its wholly owned companies Jaguar - needs UK Government support - yet on the same day it (Tata) signs a multi million pound sponsorship deal to buy advertising space with Ferrari F1 Team!

    As much as I love FI - this is taking the mick!

    IF - Lord Mandelson has to support the UK Car Industry he should be targetting any help thus...

    The UK Components Industry - that supplies the Car Manufacturers....providing countless jobs and vital to many parts of the UK - specifically the Midlands.

    He could do this in avariety of ways - and any help could be relatively inexpensive,immediate,targetted and safeguard jobs,companies and more importantly keep people off benefits and help the companies/individuals to explore new and possibly productive production lines going forwards....

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been consistently saying the most sensible things during the current financial crisis.

    Unfortunately, because they represent a minority party, under the UK's broken political system they are unlikely to become members of any government.

    Up until a few months ago it looked as if the Labour party might be about to become a minority party and Gordon Brown might therefore dust off the Jenkins report and implement some of it before his departure. So as to improve the chances of his successors.

    On the other hand he will be painfully aware of what has happened in Scotland under a more proportional system.

  • Comment number 33.

    You can quibble over what should be on any politician's shopping list.

    Key point seems to be that nobody has any idea why Brown and Darling believed that easing VAT by 2.5 percent (with a promise to increase it later) could make any sense whatsoever.

    Raising tax-free personal allowances would have put money directly into people's pockets.

    Food, childrens' clothes, council tax doesn't come with VAT. They are absolute essentials.

    If Brown wanted to focus on "essential" elements, he could have applied major VAT reductions selectively on energy / heating supplies. They are pretty important, too.

    He could even have re-instated the 10p tax-break for the lower income group. That could have been made selective (i.e. only applicable where total income was below a certain figure). But it would have meant admitting that he screwed up. Shame he's so proud and ego-centric that his pride has to be protected, to the detriment of low income folks.

    Brown doesn't ever appear to have learnt that spending money is NOT the same as buying benefit.

    There's no point being the world-saving, dynamic "Do something" PM if what you do is a waste of time.

    Loudly trumpet tough conditions to inject money into ailing banks (then quietly let it emerge that the terms and conditions have been watered down, as they were just not acceptable)... The trouble is that too many things are done - but few are properly thought through.

    Goodness knows why many people appear to think Brown could handle the economy better than Mickey Mouse. (That's not fair. Mickey Mouse made a fortune for Disney.)

  • Comment number 34.

    If Brown/Mandelson really think they should inject money into Jaguar, they should ensure a corporate structure, where the UK obtains a stake in the company.

    (Bit like the UK banks. We'll provide money under agreed conditions and have a holding you - Tata - can buy out when we've got our money back.)

    Shouldn't be too difficult to fix.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 21. , ProLiberty wrote:

    "Sounds like a plan to me. I just wish people would stop saying "I'd vote for them but they don't have a chance..."

    They do have a chance if people vote for them! (I certainly am - well, what are the other options, the nasty party, zanu labour... the greens (one policy) or the BNP (eeeeeeevillll)"

    IF they had any policies at all then they would possibly be worth voting for, but in reality, they only have one policy which I outline below.

    1. Complete and utter subservience to the EU!

    Their policy regarding the EU means that ALL their other policies are, at best, subject to EU approval and at worst "Whatever the EU tells us they are".

  • Comment number 36.

    Well done Nick Clegg.

    Put some meat on the bones and put the newlabour apologists on the back foot.

    Wht are newlabour playing at? They can't even be bothered to make sure the 500bn they have spent bailing out the banks is working properly.

    Thye come up with a VAT cut in a high street that is idscounting at 50 percent plus.

    Now they are in talks about bailing out Jaguar LandRover.. it's privately owned for heavens sake. isn't it up to Tata what they do with it? We'll be bailing out the whole of the sub continent at this rate.

    This is a bunch of economic numb skulls.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 37.

    Can anyone actually recall WHAT this government has invested in infrastructure wise in the last 11 years? I cannot!

    Its all been a giant Ponzi scheme of shifting around taxpayers money from their hard earned pockets to Quangos, Welfare State, beurocratic wastage and WAR!

    Investment in INFRASTRUCTURE is what adds value to our economy in the long term, especially investment in new, green technology and improving our self reliancewith regards to energy and food

    Britain spends FAR TOO MUCH MONEY on foreign imports. We have SO MUCH argicuultural land in this country yet import ridiculous amounts of foreign foods!

  • Comment number 38.

    What the country needs is for everybody to pull together and not follow selfish ends. The Tories talk about social justice and the Lib Dems have good social credentials too looking at this list. Cooperation can't be too much to wish for?

    The opposition may not be able to agree across the board but I bet they can achieve some consensus on the really big issues.

    Clegg's list speaks to the fiscal stimulus bit and the Conservatives could do more to spell out the sort of projects they'd support if they can divert some spending or waste. Must be costed - no more debt.

    For the LIb Dems, this doesn't address the urgent need to keep businesses working by freeing up loans. The Conservatives are right to bang on about this and I'm sure they could agree something with the Libs, not to achieve majority, but to set the example that party ideology has to be put aside and we must all work together.

    Why are Labour plans on supporting loans only starting in January? Businesses are closing today! Urgent action is needed. Do they not understand this? Banging on about saving the banks is all well and good. Savers deposits have been secured but their returns are trashed. How can banks borrow at 12% and then loan at 6% or less. It makes no sense.

    For all Labour's claims to support business, the VAT farce will not stimulate more sales compared to existing retail incentives, and the admin required is a tax levied in time and effort. The adjustment to negate the VAT effect on fuel will be another tax on business as most are VAT neutral but can't claim back the adjustment. The increase in NI will be a tax on employment. Woof!

    Hung parliament or conservative majority, I hope they work together in the country's best interest. I want social justice so Dave get's my vote, but look at the compassionate way that Vince dealt with the pensions scandal. He didn't just attack labour for maximum political impact. He allowed time for the pensioners to be told. When half answer after half answer came out of Labour about clawing back overpayments, he persisted until he nailed them - not now, not in the short term. Greyness still exists about "adjustment" in the future but Vince will have made a note.

    My point is that anybody that can serve the best interests of the nation with ability and compassion should be part of the rebuilding process. I can't name them off hand but there must even be some Labour MPs with integrity who believe contry first, party second who should be employed in such a venture.

    Near the top of my to-do list would be to remove ownership of public information from the Government. Have an a-political civil service that collects, manages and distributes information as required to enable transparent (and secure) democracy. No need for leaks, suppression of vital info becomes the crime.

  • Comment number 39.


    I agree entirely about Vince Cable - I cant see him ever "in bed" though with the Tories

    In many ways he is the nearest thing currently in Parliament in terms of ideology,politics,personality and ethics to the late John Smith...

    Clegg,I agree is a nothing,a watered down Tory - as opposed to Huhne - a watered down Labourite..

    It is of great regret politically I think that the Lib Dems lost 2 generations of Leader - Kennedy - due to personal issues and problems that led to him being stabbed in the back by his former PA to further her journalistic career and the potentially brilliant David Penhalligon - taken by a tragic car accident - at a time when there was a real chance and desire for a third party explosion...

    I believe that Cameron is too politically and personally welded to Osborne to see the opportunity here - Browna nd Mandelson on the other hand - political street-fighters may yet come up with the idea of maybe tying in the likes of Cable and possibly Clegg - on the back of some form of loose electoral pact - certainly to cover a general election period...

    A cabinet seat or two - Cable would fit seemlessly into the Treasury Team - a promise (whatever they are worth) of some form of PR being used in local elections maybe - crucially - withdrawal from Iraq - and possibly the public enquiry the Lib Dems crave might just open up Lib dem/Labour relations to a better level than they have been since the millenium...

    I just get the hunch that Clegg in paticular - and some of his followers are not adverse to the idea of "soul-selling" to gain a foothold of sorts at Westminster.....

    Right now-Brown though he wont admit it - has far more to gain from such an alliance....hence imho it would be no great suprise!

  • Comment number 40.

    I heard Tata were sponsoring a motor race. Not sure if it was Formula 1 or such like.

    My point is, that if this company can afford to sponsor such races, they don't need money from us!

  • Comment number 41.


    Making components for who, exactly? I'm not advocating it, but I assume the argument is, if you save the car makers, the supply line gets saved too. If you save the supply line, there's lots of components, but no-one left to put them together into cars.

    I realise that in the economic system you prefer, lots of components, rusting in fields, makes perfect sense, but I'm afraid the logic is lost on me.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 31,

    For once I agree with Greatandydudley. We need to support OUR manufacturing base, especially as the pound is so weak, our exports become so much more competitive. We would lose ALL of that competitiveness with the Lib-dems determination to join the Euro.

  • Comment number 43.

    Sorry, but the Liberal plan isn't good enough. They talk big and handwring over human rights but the second it comes to the crunch they just come out with generic retread material and their spine turns to water. It's not a great advert for Clegg's leadership.

    If the Tories want to take their "billions of savings" and create some carefully targeted X Prizes, and invest in gold standard training and higher welfare payments for folks on the margins I wouldn't vote for them but it would get my attention.

    It would make a change for Britain to get into an arms race over quality and investing in the bottom rather than the historical pattern. Brown and Mandelson have been irritating me over the past two weeks and lighting a fire under their ass would help.

    C'mon, if you thing you're hard, etcetera.

  • Comment number 44.

    I would have to agree that VAT giveaway is complete waste of time and there are any number of better ways to spend it.

    I find it interesting that we should even need a 5 year plan to insulate every school and hospital, why the hell aren't they insulated already?!!

    If only this government had even the vaguest clue how best to spend OUR money.

    Here's a radical idea, how about spending the money on free childcare for everyone who's not a high rate taxpayer. Making it worthwhile (and possible) for millions of single parents to go out and work.

    What we need is a genuine boost to teh real economy, not tinkering around the edges of financial disaster.

  • Comment number 45.

    This sounds good. Spending to improve employment and make improvements in infrastructure and therefore the economy. A bit to radical for the reserved and stuck in their ways British Governments though. Who prefer tinkering with the tax system. To try to impress Middle England. Because their votes count. They said they wanted to cut taxes with the money as well though. Please get your act together Lib Dems.
    For this countries success we need all parties to raise their game. That needs more competition. to make sure that the opposition doesn't just sit back and wait for things to go wrong to get their turn.

  • Comment number 46.

    There are two separate questions:

    a) should there be a fiscal stimulus, and how much? (in my opinion this should be led by countries with a sound fiscal position, and not by the UK and Iceland).

    b) if there is to be a fiscal stimulus what form should it take? The LibDem proposals are definitely an advance on Gordon's nonsensical VAT reductions on DVDs and imported televisions.

    The priority remains, however, fixing credit in the banking system such that as many as possible companies with sound business models survive the recession (to provide sustainable economic growth in the future). Everything else is secondary.

  • Comment number 47.


    Did Clegg say that what he was doing was the right thing? Whenever the government speak, they always add on the last 3 words to imply that any other proposal is the wrong thing. So what do you think, is the Clegg plan capable of withstanding the usual parrot phrases of Labour against the alleged do nothing parties or that proposals from the other parties are not right?

    Have you spoken to Cameron or Osborne on their proposals? Have you even read any of the material produced over the last few weeks that indicates that they have many of these 'shovel ready' plans available? If not, why not? Why do you imply that they have been doing nothing up until now when this is clearly not the case?

    Can we have the old impartial and balanced Nick Robinson back please?

  • Comment number 48.

    This sounds like a reasonable plan, anyone with an IQ over their shoe size realised that the 2.5% VAT cut was a ridiculous and expensive waste of time of effort - it was never going to put extra money in peoples pockets

    Either directly cut taxes or spend the money on infrastructure (as suggested) this not only creates important jobs, but also creates assets worth something to the population. I would like to see increased spending on public transport and housing schemes

    The public transport where I live is a joke. It costs about 2 quid extra for me to get a taxi into town than the bus! We live about 7 miles from our nearest large town and it's over 5 pounds on the bus - plus it takes about 45 minutes to complete the journey. It costs about 6.50 for a taxi

    By contrast the train is 2 quid return and it takes 5 minutes, great value for money!

    I would far rather any borrowed money (of which there will be plenty next year) goes into projects like this - and can we please not let this descend into the usual 'migrants will get all the work' blah blah

    I'm not a massive fan of the Lib Dems as a whole but Vince Cable has consistently talked the most sense from all the parties during the recent financial fiascos and this sounds like sense to me as well

  • Comment number 49.


    I thought Gordon offered Sir Ming Campbell a job when he first took over as PM - which Sir Ming firmly turned down.

    Why would you think that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable could be bought in the same way? Does't say much for them, does it.

  • Comment number 50.

    The DO Anything Party, as we now know labour to be, could do well to look at the tory Do Nothing Stupid approach. As long as they are being interviewed and appear on tv making announcements, which come to nothing, they think that will do the trick. . The labour ideas so far are not working and it is because they have no idea how businesses are run.
    Nick Gleggs ideas is not without merit, it would leave a lasting benefit and would be simple to implement.

  • Comment number 51.

    JAguar LandRover shouldnt be given a penny.

    They are owned by Tata who have just unveiled sponsorhip of Ferrarri in the F1 championship.

    Financial responsibility is what is required
    Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of Rallying. Honda pulled out of F1 and are considering pulling out of MotoGP, Jag owners Tata add sponsorship of Ferrari. Its a question for have I got news for you someoen call Merton and Hislop

  • Comment number 52.

    I like all the ideas apart from the "smart" meters, which I think is a waste of time and unneccessary expense (people should know how to read their own meters and adjust their useage accordingly).
    Now if he promised a referendum on a move to PR or a move to referenda on all "contentious issues" he'd get my vote. Perhaps the ID card could entitle citizens to vote in these referenda (at least we'd get something for our money)

  • Comment number 53.

    Isn't it terribly sad that the party that's actually coming up with half-way sensible policies is the one that has no chance of being elected?

  • Comment number 54.

    No9 gthebounce.
    If you are unaware that we do not elect Prime Ministers in the UK, it comes as no surprise that the rest of your contribution is bordering on nonsense.

  • Comment number 55.

    As the polls seem to suggest, there is still a feeling afoot in the land of
    "stay close to nurse for fear it gets worse" re Brown and his save the world antics.

    However, I do have inside information on David Cameron and he is said to be far stronger and harder than his present public appearances sometimes show him to be. (Note his anger when he swept aside the papers at PMQs whilst lambasting Brown re the lack of proper investigation on the Baby P case).

    DC is young. (so is Obama of course). His advisers are young. But they are training, priming up, and when the time comes they will be in for the kill and, I believe, they will win. Street parties!!!!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Oh crikey CEH you off the Labour payroll now?

  • Comment number 57.

    Quote: "49. , shellingout wrote:


    I thought Gordon offered Sir Ming Campbell a job when he first took over as PM - which Sir Ming firmly turned down.

    Why would you think that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable could be bought in the same way? Does't say much for them, does it."

    Additionally, does anybody think it credible that Gordon could ever give a cabinet position to the man who said of Brown, "he went from Stalin to Mr Bean"?

    Knowing what Gordon's ego and less than stable state of mind mean, I foresee ice covering Barbados before Brown gives Vince Cable a job in cabinet. (unless after the next election there is a hung Parliament and it would be the only way to prevent a minority tory/lib-dem coalition government)

  • Comment number 58.

    Well, its a start. More than what Broon has given us.

    Considering I spend a good amount of time criticising politicians of all flavours for taking the short term view, the only thing I see about the transport infrastructure projects in this is that they are likely to be long term - more than the lifetime of one parliament.

    Good in the sense that it is forward looking and will provide work.

    Uneasy in the sense that we may have lost some of the expertise to be able to build these solutions ourselves - especially manufacture of rolling stock.

    This would also have to be part of a greater integrated plan - there is plenty of rolling stock out there but the train operating companies are not using it, because using more carraiges impacts their margins. Again, some form of tighter regulation required. Prescott's initial integrated transport plan from 2001-2 actually looked pretty good until it ran into the buffers and Broon killed it off.

    Someone has to do something and although I dont have any electoral affinity towards Clegg, I have to give the Lib's credit for putting some of their cards on the table. Now, its up to the rest to do the same.

    I've noticed a couple of the regular left of centre posters hinting that "ah yes, Cable... he could be bought off with a cabinet job.."

    Do you lot seriously think that you're going to have any MP's left outside of Newcastle & Fife when Broon goes for it? Especially if one of the other players presents a viable, detailed, costed alternative??

    Typical Lieboor. Do anything, say anything, bribe anyone, to get elected.

    'Twas ever thus.

  • Comment number 59.

    Trouble is, as my parents have found out, this free insulation is dependant on the loft insulators. My parents and many others have standard houses, but because the insulators cannot stand upright it is a health and safety issue.
    Clegg may have ideas but delivering them is a different issue. RED TAPE BRIGADE rules!!

  • Comment number 60.

    41 -

    For over 200 years the industrial heart of Britain e.g the Midlands has proven time and time again its ability to be ingenious and to accept change...

    Of course I am not advocating they continue to make some kind of subsidised screws and parts to rot in fields...

    What I am advocating is (a) - as they have done before diversification in to new fields (b) - that someone like Mandelson actually goes and does what he is very very good at e.g sell British manufacturing overseas...

    If,as an example Tata want investment by the Government in to Jaguar - the price to pay should be an immediate deal whereby Tata's other arms - they are big in all forms of engine/diesel manufacturing - have to use and utilise British made products - its called protectionsim - you scratch my back - I'll scratch your....

    There is also no reason why some of the infrastructure plans being considered - could'nt and should'nt utilise the manufacturing base in the Midlands for components and parts...

    Lets terminate any contracts signed or not for the Olympics that are with companies that are NOT 100% British - and replace them with contracts that are 100% British....stadiums may appear to be made of concrete - but there is an awful lot of metal and metallic parts and equipment in fact our Olympic USP should be.....100% MADE IN BRITAIN!

  • Comment number 61.

    49 - My opinion is that Ming turned it down on 2 counts (1) he did'nt want to be disloyal at the time to his party even though he was not happy with the way he had been ousted (2) he could not ethically join a Party involved in war with Iraq - about whom he was the most consistent critic...

    With regard to Clegg and Cable - no 2 - will become a non-issue as it happens and they may see the benefit of a "loose" no more than an indication of whom they could work with and on what basis in a hung parliament - electoral pact...

    Iraq has no political capital for anyone other than the Lib Dems since the Tory Party 100% wholeheartedly backed everything Blair fact if you look at voting records - Tory support via MP vote for Iraq was GREATER in the Conservative Party than the Labour Government - since a slither of the hard left that remain in the Parliamentary Labout Party - never actually voted for the Government on Iraq...

  • Comment number 62.

    These are some pretty good suggestions - would create jobs and help out certain businesses in these sectors. And i would certainly trust the Lib Dems more than Labour to actually get them off the ground.

    I can only concur with others who mention Labours recent cancellation of the aircraft projects - my 2 major clients at work are government bodies and they are cancelling projects and taking money back everywhere - some injection of cash to help the economy Mr Brown! More proof that this government are simply in it for the power now and not to serve the great british public.

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

    I've never been a fan of Clegg, and disagree with many of his party's policies, but credit where it's due, these proposals are not without merit.

    At least one of the major parties is considering a series of measures that can actually help to lift the country out of the mess we're in (usual attribution) by doing something that actually has long-term benefits.

    Let's hope at the very least it prompts some constructive debate and suitable action.

    #22 Septic Tank

    Please tell us where you got your "facts" from? You obviously have some unique insights.

    #43 C-omm-E-nts by t-H-e do-ZEN

    There was I thinking you only had one shade in your pallette, so it was a pleasant surprise to read your last paragraph.

  • Comment number 65.


    The Lib Dems are'nt going to win 200 plus seats...

    Cameron simply is'nt attractive to floating voters in the Midlands , the North West and Scotland and Wales...

    Nationalism in the latter two is running out of steam...

    The best the Lib Dems can hope for - which would be a breakthrough for them is - 70/80 seats....if they did that - they would take as many Tory marginals as Labour marginals...

    I dont subscribe more than a glance to any opinion poll BUT - one thing is clear - there is NO LANDSLIDE OUT THERE - of 1979 or 1997 proportions....

    Cameron is struggling to break 40% in the face of a global recession and potentially 4th term Government...

    The Lib Dems are stagnant around 15-17%....under the same criteria...

    At this stage - it looks very much "hung parliament" territory....

    IF IT is my opinion - thats all - an opinion - that Clegg and his Team may see a "loose" pact as the best way forward to (a) IMPACT on UK politics (b) INCREASE AWARENESS of their policies and personnel and (c) BREAK the log-jam of 2 party politics in the UK....

    It is also my opinion right now that any such deal is more likely to be done with Labour (a) as Brown and Mandelson would see it as a way of regaining control and Government and (b) Cameron would see it as defeat for his ideals and policies...

    Political pragmatism against political realism if you like...

    What that says about individuals and parties is by the by - I am merely trying to make the point that you can only impact from inside - you cant do it from outside - and maybe just maybe the Lib Dems will grasp the nettle...

    and they could just as easily grasp it from Cameron - but for the bulk of their party membership I think that would be too far accross the politcal rubicon! - unless Cable was given the unthinkable....Chancellor...

  • Comment number 66.

    #61 greatandydudley

    My opinion is that Ming turned it down on 2 counts (1) he did'nt want to be disloyal at the time to his party even though he was not happy with the way he had been ousted (2) he could not ethically join a Party involved in war with Iraq - about whom he was the most consistent critic...

    Nothing to do with the fact that he just couldn't work with Gordon, then!


    With regard to Clegg and Cable - no 2 - will become a non-issue as it happens and they may see the benefit of a "loose" no more than an indication of whom they could work with and on what basis in a hung parliament - electoral pact...

    Sorry Andy - I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about here.

  • Comment number 67.

    Giggle, Fair Tubestar (whatever).

    Love the way you put your last paragraph. There's a lot I could say on THAT one, whistleblowing but of course it gets moofed by the subject.

    I agree, Clegg et al are beginning to be listened to.

  • Comment number 68.

    My mother is also waiting for her insulation. This has been going on months and mon
    ths. She applied for it as soon as it was pubicised and the firm doing the work can give her no indication of when she can expect them. They said it will be well into spring next year at the earliest.

    At 82, she needs it now!

  • Comment number 69.

    Let me see if I have this right Nick- Tata only a short while ago Buy Jaguar Land Rover? Ratan Tata Is now so broke he needs a hand out from the British tax payer so he can sponsor the Italian company Ferrari? What an absolute P!$$ T@%£.


  • Comment number 70.

    So the election might be on then?

    Clever game Brown is playing, keeping the opposition guessing, saying the opposition doesn't have any plans and paint them as do-nothing and finally copy plans of the opposition, as Brown will do since he has done it before (remember death taxes?).

    I will not debate the silly prerogative that the prime minister has to call elections willy-nilly (which he perhaps should only have in case he wants to embark on war or something similarly important). I just want to point out here that especially the conservatives face enormous hurdles to actually (I love that word) win a majority in Da House:
    -Labour need fewer votes per seat thanks to crafty gerrymandering;
    -Brown has cleverly been buying votes through the significant expansion of the public sector, both in terms of jobs and in terms of benefits (tax credits by another name.

    The vote buying amounts to some 10 million votes at least, with 6 million public sector employees in the mix. With the recession (oops I forgot Mandy: downturn imported from the US) and everyone in the government talking up its severity, voters will get scared and especially those benefiting from the state's largesse will be more inclined to vote for the status quo.

    Sterling has further to fall.

  • Comment number 71.

    Brown cannot win either way.

    If he stalls and goes for a late election then he gives more time for the Conservatives "in training mode" so they will serve with even more power to their elbow.

    If he goes for an imminent election he will lose to them anyway.

  • Comment number 72.

    49 - My opinion is that Ming turned it down on 2 counts (1) he did'nt want to be disloyal at the time to his party even though he was not happy with the way he had been ousted (2) he could not ethically join a Party involved in war with Iraq - about whom he was the most consistent critic...

    You forgot

    (3) Hadn't forgotten how Labour stitched up Paddy Ashdown in 1997 - promised PR in their manifesto and then reneged under cover of revelations about Paddy Ashdown's affair.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nick Clegg did himself an immense amount of self-harm which landed him with the 'Cleggover' epithet.

    Politics being the brutal 'sport' that it is, he gets reminded of that every time he opens his mouth in Parliament and references women.

    So, whenever this blogger reads 'Clegg', he has to try and put that to one side and see if the actual ideas being presented stack up.

    Which of course, some do, because no single individual or indeed party, has a monopoly on good or bad ideas.

    I particulary liked the idea of resurrecting old railway lines, murdered by the Tories (as in Transport Minister Marples, also of Marples Ridgway - motorway builders) via Dr. Beeching all those years ago.

    How incredibly shorted sighted was the axing of those railway lines but all too typical of our politics.

    I'm not sure if anything has substantially changed in the land-of-nod.

  • Comment number 74.

    #39 greatandydudley

    I think you and I are miles apart in our political thinking, but your post at #39 is excellent and very well worded. Your inclusion of a reference to the late John Smith is thought provoking.

  • Comment number 75.

    68 In the Midlands on eInsulation Company has gone in to Administration...

    Can you believe it....

    To my knowledge EVERY OAP who qualifies has been sent a form to fill in to cover insulation...

    Funds are ready and waiting...

    Whats the problem..

    I do concur with two known problems...

    1. Roofspace and health and safety

    2. Many OAP live in older houses - with walls that cannot be insulated via cavity wall insulation..

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.


    I have to say that I wept the day John Smith died - having been fortunate enough to have met him - as a politician and as a man - my impression was that Blair and Brown are not/were not worthy to lace his shoes....

    I have no doubt had he lived that Brown may have been his natural successor - but it would have been a very different Gordon Brown that would have emerged from the over-politicised beast - we see today...

    In any generation - irrespective of ones political views - there are politicians that inspire and earn respect - often you can be politically diametrically opposed to them - but you can respect them...

    Penhalligon in my opinion was a TRAGIC loss....a personable man,an excellent communication,a bit of the Celtic/Cornish devil in him - and with an intellectual ability that Ashdown - could never quite match....

    I have to say I had very similar views - having met him too - of Alan Beith - to Vince Cable - very capable and fundamentally decent people - with a view that needs to be listened to - and brought in to the mainstream!...

    My core point is this - who will have the intellegence to use these types of people....

    I believe dogma and arrogance will prevent Cameron from doing it - and whilst I dont think Brown and Mandy will do it for honourable reasons - I do think their gutteral street fighting political instincts - might!

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick Clegg must be commended for pushing for schemes that actually benefit the infrastructure of the country that will still be there once Crash's deep ravine has been traversed.

    Plus his plans will allow for our "flexible" economy to be in a position to respond to the bright new world on the otherside.

    Since you hint that the Tories are also in the late stages of planning it will be interesting to see which ones Crash and his cronies pick after they decide their current positions are untenable.

    ...and still hints of election without dates, unless it is embargoed I'm sure certain freedom of information questions aimed in the right places would whittle the answer out. With the Labour big wigs denying it, I can only assume that it is imminent to coincide with the new taxes in January

  • Comment number 81.

    The ideas are good and at least examples of what an opposition should be thinking about.

    It would be really good if those who go on and on about 'bottler Brown' and Nulabour would give this attempt at helping solve our problems some serious consideration. To win an election Cameron will have to come up with some convincing suggestions. He is quite capable of doing this, but at the moment seems to want to please the 'name calling' wing of his party who tediously fill this blog with insults massquerading as intelligent comment. Not a good way of ousting Gordon.

  • Comment number 82.

    75 It just goes to show how bad things are when not even insulation companies are insulated from the recession.

    If the governments insulation initiative was intended to save companies like this one by creating a huge new market of work opportunities, my feeling is that this is probably the result of the usual botched process of delivery from the government, probably involving a 200 page form to fill. Throwing money at a situation simply isn't enough.

    I am slightly surprised but only very slightly.

  • Comment number 83.

    #75 greatandydudley

    Perhaps this company didn't get paid as quickly as they should have done.

    All Governments have a reputation for doing this. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 84.


    By restricting tax relief to basic rate on pensions, you only restrict private pension savers.

    Anyone who has an employer can opt for a salary sacrifice scheme. Employer pays the premium, your salary is less, you pay less tax (and NI) and therefore save cost at your highest marginal rate - easy!

    The big one however is anyone in a local authority pension. If you employer is paying direct for most of your pension benefits at a cost of, say 20% + of your pay, then if you are restricting tax relief for private pensions to basic rate, you would have to charge a BIK on substantial contributions for such employees.

    It cant be done with any degree of equality. However I am not sure that equality comes into the equation where local authority pensions are concerned....

    I pointed this issue out to the Lib Dems at a conference a couple of years ago - interesting to see that it seems to have been quietly removed from their agenda....!

  • Comment number 85.


    Cameron and his young team "training up".....ready for the kill!

    The mind boggles...

    Fundamentally - Cameron lacks experience - he is politically nieve therefore - if he has as you confirm - surrounded himself - with similarly inexperienced people - and of course his Shadow Chancellor...

    He reminds me of Roy Keane and Paul Ince......excellent prospects - promoted to managerial positions way too soon - frankly - out of their depth....

    (though I'd not fancy telling either personally to their faces...LOL)...


  • Comment number 86.

    Mr Robinson,

    I know you will continue to publish many fotos of Brown together with Obama because you want Labour to win the next election since they will give more funding to the BBC and its pension fund, but do you actually (I love that word!) know what Obama's economic plan is?. Have you seen what happened to the dollar in the last few days?

    Obama, like Brown, does not really seem to appreciate that this is more than a banking and credit crisis. What has happened since say 2000, is that countries where the workforce puts in a proper effort (China) and countries that were sitting on a pile of natural resources sent their money to US and UK consumers through the purchase of government and mortgage-backed bonds, apart from buying the odd piece of real estate or a stake in a bank. The recycling of meny kept world wide interest rates low, fuelling a real estate and consumption boom. US and UK consumers were spending all (yes ALL) their disposable income! This should not be a problem in case everyone has great company pension schemes and health insurance and never gets made redundant, but unfortunately that is not the case. Hence consumer behaviour was unsustainable in the long run. Indeed we're all dead in the long run (forgot who came up with that phrase!) but now consumers face the slight problem of having to pay higher interest rates prior to moving on some sort of afterworld (from Prince, Let's go Crazy). Consumers should save some of their income, like Germans and French who save some 10% of it (you see, Mr Steinbruck is not an idiot). Unless Obama grasps that the current problems can not entirly be pinned down on banks but are also caused by silly consumers and governments that like Brown were running a deficit when the ecnomy was growing above trend, there is decent chance that the dollar will fall as quickly as sterling, which is not reallly a compliment.

    Obama and Brown, Brown and Obama. Perhaps lovely in a foto frame (not my taste though) but maybe two economic ignorants squared as well.

  • Comment number 87.

    82/83 - I'll see what I can find out....its very bizarre...

    unless of course its something wrong with the company that means they were'nt eligible to get government contracts..

  • Comment number 88.

    Mr Robinson,

    In addition to the above, which you probably don't accept, I would like to refer you to page 10 of the Bank of England's Financial Stability Report published recently (i'm too lazy to provide the link). There you will read and find a graph that already in 2007 in the UK companies accounting for 25% of borrowing by non-financial companies had insufficient operating profits to service their debt: borrowing is the problem, more borrowing is certainly not the solution, it's not just banks that should change (but don't tell Mandy, Mr Mandelson for me, he and spin class teacher Campbell may order the LBC board to have you replaced as political reporter).

    PS for those not in the know, LBC is the Labour Broadcasting Cor........... rather than the beeb

    PS2 Haven't spot the UK ambassador to my country yet, but the anxiety-induced insomnia is not taking its toll on my looks I think

  • Comment number 89.


    People in authority seem to be extrtemely lax about paying others for work already completed.

    I have a vague memory of Heseltine getting into hot water for leaving it until the very last minute to pay someone - who eventually went out of business.

  • Comment number 90.

    "chrisleopard wrote:

    Lib/Lab coalition next time round...?"

    Hahaha dream on.

    The Lib Dems will lost my vote and many others if they even contemplate this.

    More likely to see a LibDem/Tory coalition

  • Comment number 91.

    "Fundamentally - Cameron lacks experience - he is politically nieve therefore - if he has as you confirm - surrounded himself - with similarly inexperienced people - and of course his Shadow Chancellor...

    He reminds me of Roy Keane and Paul Ince......excellent prospects - promoted to managerial positions way too soon - frankly - out of their depth...."

    To continue the analogy, Brown reminds me of Sam Allardyce.....

  • Comment number 92.

    Sam Allardyce as much as in old, tired, never succeeded at much, failed strategies, and unproven but persistent allegations of corruption.

  • Comment number 93.

    Another example of this government's unbelievably gutless attitude:

    Can you credit it? Hundreds of thousands of pubic sector workers have their pensions overpaid for year and they waive it.

    Farmers are over paid a mere 15,000 pounds and they want the money back by Christmas.

    Pathetic, pusillanimous tripe.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 94.

    Re experience, and Osborne in that context:

    Osborne did warn about the pound at 1.18 euro to the pound, now less than 1.06!

    Don't worry, I'm not eligible to vote in the UK, don't have a British passport (perhaps there is some correlation between the 2) and I'm not employed by the conservatives, not the lib dems.

    I'm just on these type of sites/blogs to see where policy is heading and then place my bets.

    But I'm amfraid of the prospect of having to deal with your ambassador!!!


  • Comment number 95.

    #79 greatandydudley any generation - irrespective of ones political views - there are politicians that inspire and earn respect - often you can be politically diametrically opposed to them - but you can respect them...

    I think you're spot on there, I can't think of many latter day Politicians who, for me personally, fit that category. I believe Vince Cable, as has been mentioned in various previous blogs, is a high calibre politician for different reasons and Frank Field has conviction and intellect. Arguably, another late Scotsman Robin Cook, marital infidelities aside, was out of the same mould.

    Clegg and Cameron are somewhat lightweight, and as my vote in the next General Election will go to one of these two, both need to do considerably more to persuade me.

    Robinson has detailed Cleggs policy initiatives, some of which aren't entirely without merit. I'm sure to get shot down in flames elsewhere in these pages, but politico's of all parties seem to be hung up on that "Green" thing. It seems de-rigueur to append an environmental handle on almost anything in this way, viz "Green road out of Recession"
    Populist, not sure!

  • Comment number 96.

    I think that it is now obvious that there is a run on the pound with speculators pushing the pound lower in the certain knowledge that the Brtish Governmen has neither the means, nor the will to stop them.

    Eventually the threat of inflation will be too great and the Government will snap and raise interest rates to too high a level. This will be an admission that their policy has failed.

    So: fix your mortgages my friends - for as long as you can.

  • Comment number 97.

    greatandydudley, have I turned over a new leaf or have you? I recall in recent weeks, during my self imposed exile from Robinsons blog, being infuruated by one or two of your contributions. Soon I'll look forward to them as much as I do those from Balhamu, but not with the grudging respect I give grandantidote.

    Now for the third time I found myself agreeing with you, in particular your number #85. As a football writer and photographer the Ince/Keane analogy is a good one.

    Cameron doesn't have the strongest line up for a potential Government in waiting aside from William Hague and Liam Fox. He could do far worse than avail himself of the acumen of Kenneth Clarke and hold out an olive branch to David Davis

    Clegg likewise only has Cable, Hughes, and Huhne.

  • Comment number 98.

    #91 DialSquareDomination

    .....To continue the analogy, Brown reminds me of Sam Allardyce.....

    More Steve McLaren or Graham Taylor no?
    Thinking about it these two were probably more popular in their respective days than Gordon Brown seems to be now.

    Posted with apologies to all for going completely off topic without even a tenuous attempt to steer it back on track.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 24 "Is Ratan Tata ( the very very rich Indian owner of Jaguar and Land Rover ) a very very good friend of the dodgy Lord."

    Lately I seem to have become another target of the moderators, so here I go again with a politically correct version of a news announcement on today's Italian Press:

    The Tata Group will sponsor the Ferrari Formula 1 team next year.

    To the moderators: is this version acceptable now?

  • Comment number 100.

    # 73 JohnConstable

    I agree with you, we are still too inclined to implement the latest political gimmick.

    Some of the recent programs on TV showing disused railway lines that are used for cycling and walking reminded me what we had given up in the name of progress.


Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.