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Sir Humphrey praises politicians shock

Nick Robinson | 10:56 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Ever since Sir Humphrey graced our screens in Yes Minister the impression has been forged in the nation's minds that senior civil servants look down their Oxbridge-educated noses at the childish manoeuvring of their intellectually inferior political masters.

Sir Gus O'DonnellAll the more striking then that Britain's top civil servant - who's called Sir Gus not Sir Humphrey - has revealed that he and his officials underestimated the capacity of our political leaders to do a deal in the national interest.

In a lecture last night, Sir Gus O'Donnell reported that his team had role-played the political negotiations in preparation for a hung Parliament:

"The good news was that we had practised handling a result that was very close to the real one. The bad news was that, under our scenario, no stable government had emerged".

Sir Gus says that their discussions broke down, unlike the ones which actually took place during those Five Days Which Changed Britain*, He goes on to ask an important question :

"So why, in the event, did the politicians do so much better? I believe it was because, in our role-played negotiations, there was one vital ingredient which was not possible to simulate - and on which, in fact, the founding and sustaining of a coalition rests. That ingredient is 'trust'.
 
"The coalition came together not just because of an alignment of party interest, but because politicians - contrary to the expectations of many - were able to develop the necessary level of trust in each other."

What mattered, he says, was the establishment of a process that would build mutual trust between the parties and politicians involved and hence reinforce a co-operative approach to policy development. It is trust, he concluded, which will be the key to whether the coalition thrives and, by implication, survives.

Lest you think that Britain's top official has got carried away by the excitement of the "new politics" let me relate a relevant tale from this week.

The proposals for a re-organisation of the NHS included a fundamental and little-noticed change from those contained in either the Conservative manifesto or the coalition agreement. The government now plan to give councils a major new strategic health role, examining the purchasing decisions of GPs and fitting them together with their plans for public health and social care. For the Lib Dems, this represents an important injection of democracy into the new health market. For the Tories, it allows them to propose the abolition of primary care trusts altogether instead of, as originally discussed, having to hold elections to them.

This was the result of the first negotiated departure from the coalition agreement. First the Tory Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and his Lib Dem deputy, Paul Burstow had to agree. Then they had to persuade the Tory Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles. Then the idea had to be taken to the cabinet home affairs committee chaired by the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Finally, it had to be approved by the coalition committee which considers any major departures from the original agreement.

This is what today's Sir Humphrey sees as the restoration of cabinet government, which is one reason he and some other senior officials are going round praising politicians and not patronising them (in public, at least).

* Five Days Which Changed Britain just happens to be the title of a one-hour documentary I'm making which will air on BBC2 at 2100 on Wednesday 28 July. Please brace yourself for endless plugs from now on. After all, if Alastair Campbell can go on and on about beating me on Top Gear, why shouldn't I go on and on? (Though he also has other more interesting things to say in his Telegraph column today about the reliability of political memoirs.)

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Do you think it wise Nick to 'copy' Campbell, Prescot, Mandelson etc. Don't forget you were one of their greatest supporters over the last 13 years along with most of the media pundits.
    This all appears to the public (those that pay the BBC licence fee)as money grabbing exercises by those who have profited most by labour.

  • Comment number 2.

    "This is what today's Sir Humphrey sees as the restoration of cabinet government, which is one reason he and some other senior officials are going round praising politicians and not patronising them"

    Surely a good thing, n'est ce pas, compared to the Blair Sofa & back of a fag packet regime?

    Also interesting is the: "in our role-played negotiations, there was one vital ingredient which was not possible to simulate - and on which, in fact, the founding and sustaining of a coalition rests. That ingredient is 'trust'"

    Why is it not possible to simulate it, I wonder? Surely Sir Gus cant be implying that it is only trust that is the glue that holds it all together? And I wonder how he came to that conclusion, given the events of the last 5 years?

  • Comment number 3.

    Incidentally, Nick, as your footnote refers, the goings-on at the Telegraph, with Campbell accusing Mandelsons memory of playing tricks with him - spinmeisters both - is deliciously interesting.

    Suddenly we have any number of Labour leadership candidates and others ready to emerge from the woodwork, telling us that they knew the answer to the party's problem all along (just as some of us less-well connected mortals did)... but how they ultimately did nothing and more importantly, they all seem to be avoiding answering the question of why they did nothing.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Comment number 4.

    I too was surprised at the speed at which a seemingly strong coalition was put together.

    However, as time goes by it is becoming more obvious why it happened in the way it did - the complete lack of spine demonstrated by the Lib Dems at every available opportunity.

    It seems that each week brings another piece of Tory policy, be it the budget, or Lansley's disgracefully ideological attack on the NHS, and the Lib Dems, who I hoped would fight to protect us from the worst of the Conservative Party's damn or be damned attitude, have shown themselves to be completely unnecesary - merely the soft and cuddly trimming that disguises the unmitigated self-interest and cruelty of the Tories.

    In the rest of the world it can take months for a functioning coalition to emerge because the protagonists each fight their corners and aim to find some kind of consensus that fits in with the demands of the people.

    Does anyone else feel like we simply have a Tory government? The coalition only exists in Nick Clegg's head. The sooner he steps across the floor and joins the tories the better. Then the Lib Dems can get back to forming and fighting for policies that their voters, and I would hope the majority of there members, actually support.

  • Comment number 5.

    Trust is not enough when the going gets tough and the Lib Dems get wiped out in local and bye - elections. It is not the 'tough' and heroic decisions that cleggmeron talk about it is when the tough consequences hit the voting and complaining public in the form of cuts in living standards and public services when the LD's may panic about their rapidly diminishing political base. Trust in those circumstances will be irrelevant.

  • Comment number 6.

    4#

    Its hardly surprising that you get more tory policies each new week when a tory government is pretty much exactly what you've got, albeit with some of the rougher edges knocked off it.

    6#

    They wont give a monkeys, watriler, they've got their feet under the big table for the first time in about 80 years. They're not going to give a stuff about by-elections.

    You're likely to end up disappointed.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't think the LibDems will be wiped out at the next election.

    They are demonstrating something the previous labour government never did and the civil servants are finding it a refreshing change.
    They actually get on with each other and are concentrating on sorting out the mess left by Labour and putting the country first.

    The media are slow to respond to this and are acting like the labour party ex Minister failures and misfits by trying to find any and everything to split the LibDems and the Conservatives.
    Both the BBC and Sky continue to wheel out Blears, Campbell, Mandelson, Prescot etc. and cannot understand the majority of the public (10million conservative voters and 6million LibDem voters) do not want to hear any more from them.

    Get some new MP's, LibDems, Labour and Conservatives on politics shows and interviews. Labour all now are singing "lets put the past behind us", but the public are going to be reminded of the last 13 years for a generation.

    A sensible government without spin, lies and bitterness is a welcome change.

  • Comment number 8.

    Trust?

    Maybe. But personally, I think I'd rather go for the theory that both the Tories and the LibDems were desperate to be in power and were prepared to compromise on pretty well anything to be able to achieve it.

  • Comment number 9.

    #4 If I understand Nick's blog he is saying that the changes to the NHS involve bringing local councils in to ensure that health care is delivered by GPs broadly in line with local needs/plans.

    So on the basis that you have accused the govt of an ideological attack on the NHS, you presumeably therefore believe that local authorities and local people should have no say whatsoever in what health care provision occurs in their area and that everything should be decided centrally by civil servants who will not have any dealings with the great unwashed.

    Interesting ideology, tell me do you also believe that local people should not be allowed to elect a local MP but simply have one imposed on them that matches the national average vote?

  • Comment number 10.

    The over-powering political personality of Gordon Brown crushed all opposition to 'his patch' during his tenure as Chancellor and directly lead to the overspend of some £400Bn pounds over the period 2002/2007, which now has to be paid down.

    Therefore, the restoration of Cabinet Government is not a minute too soon and should stop the sort of behaviour demonstrated by Brown leading to bad policies.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Trust"? This is more like a betrayal of trust, in particular by Mr Clegg.

    He was "married" to Lib-Dem supporters, but has been wowed by a suitor who has appeared to offer him more (for now). His supporters will be suing for divorce soon.

    However, Mr Cameron has got what he wants and will stay faithful to his own vows - although the affair with the Lib-Dems is a warning to his own supporters that they should remember their place!

  • Comment number 12.

    Fubar Saunders #3 wrote:
    "Suddenly we have any number of Labour leadership candidates and others ready to emerge from the woodwork, telling us that they knew the answer to the party's problem all along (just as some of us less-well connected mortals did)... but how they ultimately did nothing and more importantly, they all seem to be avoiding answering the question of why they did nothing."
    I couldn't agree more and, in addition, if they recognised how disastrously the country was being run why didn't they have the guts to get rid of the leadership - even if they didn't have all the answers themselves - instead of letting things drag on making matters worse?

  • Comment number 13.

    Bureaucrats of the cloistered government always see things with additional drama as they struggle with making important the mundane activities of their daily work. New governments usually bring review and review may even lead to accountability, although that would be on paper and not in reality. Bureaucrats always start by bowing to the authority of the newly elected and than return to the business of maintaining the bureaucracy. The newly appointed, or anointed,read volumes of materials on services and missions and end up realizing that there is only a slight relationship between the purpose and the realities. Most changes in a bureaucracy take about 20 years....and it is very expensive to save money in a bureaucracy.
    The is a new boy at school and the teenage girls are all gossiping.

  • Comment number 14.

    To the various posters claiming that the LibDems have just rolled over and decided to support a Tory Government: "open your eyes and ears".

    Take just 2 big policy changes that are 100% LibDem. Firstly, the agreement to hold a referendum on a form of proportional representation whoch is so close to LibDem hearts.
    Secondly, the raising of the income tax threshold to £10,000.

    Coalitions are about getting some of what you particularly want and trying to make sure that the rest is not too awful. I would say that for a very junior partner (by number of seats, number of votes, experience of government, whatever measure you choose), the LibDems are doing pretty well in getting their policies put into place.

    In a democracy, the party with the most votes and seats (in this case the Tories) should always have more influence than the minority partners. That is what is happening.

    Get over it.

  • Comment number 15.

    9. At 1:14pm on 14 Jul 2010, Justin150 wrote:
    #4 If I understand Nick's blog he is saying that the changes to the NHS involve bringing local councils in to ensure that health care is delivered by GPs broadly in line with local needs/plans.

    So on the basis that you have accused the govt of an ideological attack on the NHS, you presumeably therefore believe that local authorities and local people should have no say whatsoever in what health care provision occurs in their area and that everything should be decided centrally by civil servants who will not have any dealings with the great unwashed.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Local communities are already involved in the provision of their own healthcare through the PCT's (imperfect, but getting better all the time) and through community representation at local Trusts. Considering my local authority struggles to pick up some bins once a week I'm not prepared to let them anywhere near the commissioning of healthcare.

    Civil servants have no say in the commissioning of health-care so I'm not entirely sure why you might think I would want this?

    The ideological attack comes in the form of the back-door privatisation that Lansley's white paper will lead to. GP's, in my opinion the most expensive and least effective health-care professionals, are already in a situation that allows surgeries to be run for profit and the Tory plans will accelerate the full privatisation of general practices and also the administrative wing of the NHS that people are constantly up in arms about. Except they will still be getting paid with tax payers money - just as sub-contracted work, rather than being directly employed by the government.

  • Comment number 16.

    My purely personal opinion is that this is a normal coalition arrangement i.e. the party which got the least votes ends up with the most power. Most of the policies implemented so far seem pretty much pure LibDem e.g. review of security legislation and Ken Clarke's pronouncements on sentencing.
    Mind you since David Cameron took over as Tory leader (I confess to voting for him) he has moved the party a long way in that direction anyway.

  • Comment number 17.

    'Trust' is the wrong word, but the right word rhymes with it and gives a better explanation.
    The word is lust - as in for power. F_S seems to agree judging by his post @6 except he omits to admit that the Tories were every bit as desperate as their 'intended' - a true marriage of convenience. Also the Conservatives and Lib Dems must be all too aware that some species consume their mate not long after the nuptials are consumated.
    If the Humphrey's are giving out compliments the Coalition will have to extra careful.

  • Comment number 18.

    8#

    As indeed were New Labour. The only way to be shot of that is to get rid of the old duopoly altogether and vote for independents or other parties instead of along the old tribal lines.

  • Comment number 19.

    12#

    Indeed Chloe, indeed.

    You may also remember these remarks:

    "Mad, bad, dangerous and beyond hope of redemption… flawed, lacking perspective and having a paranoia about him… He’s like something out of the mafiosi… He’s aggressive, brutal…there’s no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery."

    John Prescott believed "There was something wrong with him" and "Was scared of him"

    Peter Mandelson believed Brown wanted to “bury him”

    Yet all of these men recommended we re-elect him as PM of the UK.

    Mandelson also said at the time of the failed Hoon/Hewitt coup:

    "The Prime Minister continues to have the support of his colleagues and we should carry on government business as usual."

    Theres "say anything to get elected" and then... theres REALLY saying ANYTHING, including taking the public for fools to get elected!

  • Comment number 20.

    It's touching how innocent the Tory Government is! Maybe that's the Lib-Dem influence? We may never know.
    Planning anything as complex and as driven by insider interests as the NHS, is well beyond Councillors and LA Officers. Which was why the Heath Government abolished Councils' baleful influence over local health policy. That Tory Government was also ‘radical’. It set up Regional Health Authorities to plan strategically - which the local authorities definitely couldn't do. That didn't work either: the hospitals and GPs they were supposed to be supervising, quickly captured Regional Health Authorities’ plans.
    Local Government watchers know that Councillors of any Party are neither selected by their Parties nor by electors because they're good planners or managers. The main swing criteria are that Councillors are 'people like us' and that they aren't of the party in power at Westminster. Competence has nothing to do with it.
    What goes around, comes around. Just as GP fund-holding system failed in the 1990s, the Local Authority involvement in NHS planning had failed 20 years before.
    This coalition government is like watching a 'Back to the Future' movie all over again.

  • Comment number 21.

    17#

    See 18# :-)

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes there is trust amongst the coalition, but even more importantly that trust is building. No new announcements are made without clearing it with both parties as a part of a sound structural process. Contrast this with Labour when the 10p in the tax band was withdrawn - it wasnews to many in the Cabinet.

    The civil servants naturally assumed that 13 years of Labour infighting could only be followed by more infighting. What is striking is that most of the new cabinet actually get on with ech other, some more than others it has to be said. The other difference is that communication is not just about speeches but also listening - so far this is happening e.g. the Q and A Cameron had with selected civil servants last week. With Labour they said they were listening but they did not.

    The meeting of minds has also kick started more thinking in terms of the national interest and dropping party ideology. Equally the prospect of Labour continuing in power as a minority adminstration and Brown as PM would have been seen as horrific for both Cameron and Clegg. The irony that many of the ideas put forward are Blairite ones that were blocked by Brown is huge. Indeed Brown could cost labour being out of power for a generation or more.

  • Comment number 23.

    Another feather in his cap: he has outlived the last government - something loved by both monarchs and civil servants

  • Comment number 24.

    So the fact that cabinet members supposedly are a bit fairer to each other and the Sir Humphreys of this world is somehow of fundamental importance, but the fact that there is a dogma-based privatisation and unjustified abandonment of manifesto and personal pledges to protect the NHS doesn't matter a jot?

    That's the real meaning of this coalition government: the voters get conned shamelessly and are now being screwed within months of the election. As for the fig leaf of local council involvement, just what depths will the Lib Dems plumb?

  • Comment number 25.

    One of the most impressive things about this coalition has been their ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

    Manifestos are fine as general outlines before an election but in this fast moving complicated world they are and were totally out of date before the election was even over.

    Only time will tell if the changes having to be made will be successful in getting our country out of its present decline and time is what we have to give them.

    I'm truly impressed by the calibre of some of the Liberal Democrats so what a waste it would have been to have seen them lanquishing on the back benches forever more. Some of their fellow MP's would do well to support them instead of bleating on about outdated manifestos based on hyperthetical figures. The term 'get real' comes to mind.

    As far as the third party is concerned they would do well to stay in their box until they find a proper leader and manage to come up with some realistic ideas of their own. Whining on about the coalition is their sole aim in life and is beginning to sound boring and desperate.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fubar @ 19.

    You know you're right, some people will say anything to get elected...


    For instance Andrew Lansley has recently said he wishes to end the “witch-hunt against saturated fats, salts and sugars” and thinks obesity is all about low self-esteem. Communities need to sort it out themselves, hence the deal with big business not to regulate further on the witch-hunted foods...he may even abolish the FSA. Effectively companies producing alchopop and junk foods will pay for the advertising that tells us to eat a healthy diet.

    But hang on who said this before the election?


    "As Britain faces an obesity crisis, why does WH Smith's promote half-price Chocolate Oranges at its checkouts instead of real oranges?"

    Why it was "honest" David Cameron.


  • Comment number 27.

    Hey Fubar, here's another good one:

    "We will stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care."

    Coalition policy document.

    I do believe GPs and LAs have no choice in the proposed reforms...ie. its the biggest top-down reorganisation ever.

  • Comment number 28.

    20.

    Couldn't have put it better myself.

    Welcome to corprate health UK.

  • Comment number 29.

    My comments to those who say that both parties wanted to be in power, well yes obviously you do not go into politics not to embrace power. What sort of leaders would they be if they turned round and said no we would rather just sit and criticise from opposition? I find the coalition to be a refreshing, more open sort of politics and two parties trusting each other is something to be celebrated not be cynical about. I do not believe the lib dems have no spine, they got an increase in the personal allowance which was in their manifesto and the referendum. There was other common ground between Lib Dems and Tory so the two parties are not miles apart. The vat rise was inevitable and Labour would also have done that. It is naive to suggest otherwise. I think they can be braver and more radical because the two parties together represent 60% of the voting public.

  • Comment number 30.

    There are constructive Labourites in England such as Field and Hutton who are assisting the coalition and then there are those who simply cannot think outside the defines of narrow party dogma and are determined to 'make trouble'.

    Which seems to mean attempting to peel away those Lib-Dems who lean towards, for want of a lazy term, 'the Left'.

    This is utterly destructive, unhelpful and selfish in the current circumstances.

    Labour in England would be more usefully employed if they :

    a) accepted that the Scottish and Welsh Labour Parties are now on different, more nationalistic trajectories

    b) came up with some state-of-the-political-art policies, such as the original idea of the universal health care for all, free at the point-of-use i.e. the NHS

    c) tailor their policies for England and accept the possibility that coalitions may become the norm in England

  • Comment number 31.

    I find it extremely funny that the Shadow Labour Ministers and almost every Labour MP and their supporters on this and other blogs still don't understand they are not the government any longer.
    The people of this country would prefer them to be giving positive ideas to the new coalition government to help sort out the mess they, Labour, left behind.

    They all really do appear not to get it, they are an ex government.

  • Comment number 32.

    29.

    If the LibDems had spine why did they agree to a "significantly accelerated" deficit reduction " within the year 2010/2011",including the £6 Billion, when they previously campaigned against both ? And don't forget this was agreed during the coalition negotiations, and thus before they could have talked to officials in Govt. and the Central Bank, which was the reason both Clegg and Cable have since given for the change of policy.

    Lacking both spine and honesty if you ask me.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Coalition seem to be having a little local difficulty down in Barnet.
    Incidently, these people with massive pay rises, how come they aren't Public sector and subject to freezes? Who else might ,surprisingly, turn out not to be public sector and sidestep the big freeze?
    I hear coalition ministers are concerned.

  • Comment number 34.

    19. At 3:03pm on 14 Jul 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    You may also remember these remarks:

    "Mad, bad, dangerous and beyond hope of redemption… flawed, lacking perspective and having a paranoia about him… He’s like something out of the mafiosi… He’s aggressive, brutal…there’s no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery."

    Yes indeed, exactly my thoughts when reading both AC's and PM's accounts today, why on earth could a person like this end up as Chancellor let alone an unelected PM and why did "they" do nothing about it?

    Dreadful, and neither DM or Blinky come out with much credibility either.

    Off to buy AC's book. Not much point both of us wasting our money so I'll post it to you once I've read it.

    The three F's sum up the last 13 years quite nicely.





  • Comment number 35.

    To have cancer targets or not to have cancer targets.
    That is the question. And Kev said I was in two minds!
    Coalition give new meaning to 'between a rock and a hard place'?

  • Comment number 36.

    #32 craigmarlpool
    Because they realised that, given the £4 trillion + of debt (see today's papers) we ow, £6 billion is the equivalent of the cash down the back of the sofa when you need a mortgage.

    £6 billion in a total spend of £700 billion is 'noise' - well within the margin of error on all predictions.

    The reality, of course, is that £200 billion pa over a whole decade is what has to be saved, given that we cannot be taxed any more (all parties at least agree on that - yippee!)

    Welcome to a 'New World' in which the State is shrunk to minimal size, and we have the freedom to make the most of our talents and abilities.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Five Days Which Changed Britain just happens to be the title of a one-hour documentary I'm making which will air on BBC2 at 2100 on Wednesday 28 July."

    Yes I've made a note of this, Nick, and I'll be watching unless it clashes with a quality drama or a good film. Or a sporting event of some sort.

  • Comment number 38.

    34 ""Mad, bad, dangerous and beyond hope of redemption… flawed, lacking perspective and having a paranoia about him… He’s like something out of the mafiosi… He’s aggressive, brutal…... someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery."

    Yes indeed, exactly my thoughts when reading both AC's and PM's accounts today, why on earth could a person like this end up as Chancellor"



    Come on, give him his proper tirle. Reich Chancellor. I mean, that IS who is being described....isn't it?

  • Comment number 39.

    HD2 @ 36.

    My point is that the LibDems in an amazingly short amount of time have proved themselves just as adept as the other two parties in the smoke and mirrors dept.

    New politics...do me a favour.

    Thankfully, the "new world" you speak of is likely to remain just that...yours.

  • Comment number 40.

    "29. juliet50 wrote:
    My comments to those who say that both parties wanted to be in power, well yes obviously you do not go into politics not to embrace power. What sort of leaders would they be if they turned round and said no we would rather just sit and criticise from opposition? I find the coalition to be a refreshing, more open sort of politics and two parties trusting each other is something to be celebrated not be cynical about. I do not believe the lib dems have no spine, they got an increase in the personal allowance which was in their manifesto and the referendum. There was other common ground between Lib Dems and Tory so the two parties are not miles apart. The vat rise was inevitable and Labour would also have done that. It is naive to suggest otherwise. I think they can be braver and more radical because the two parties together represent 60% of the voting public."

    An excellent post. If only the sreeching left could get over their tantrums at having lost power, they'd see it too.

    Meantime, here's one for those who like a conspracy theory and a choice of options.....

    I read that more and more schools are ditching devalued 'A' levels and adopting the International Baccalaureate, a much more European qualification. Now given Labour's love of European integration, should we put down the collapse in standards in the 'A' level to:

    1) A deliberate and cynical move by Labour to push us closer to Europe

    or

    2) Just the inevitable result of Labour's dogma and incompetence.

    A tricky one....

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

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  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    I see Old Boris Johnson (Lord Nimby of London) has got his mop top in a bit of a knot about the impending cuts. Wants London singled out as a special case for leniency it being the capital and all. Perhaps he thought the cuts would only affect those whallers up north ?

  • Comment number 47.

    36 Hd2

    The 80/20 was revised to 77/23 in the budget. It's a just a shame that some of the 157 Stealth Taxes imposed upon us by GB couldn't be reversed. Hey ho. Maybe one day.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    #46 craigmarlpool
    Since the City generates most of England's wealth and is (along with the SE) the ONLY bit of the UK which generates more tax than the Govt spends there, he has every right to object.

    Cuts should be hardest where most money is spent - which is the further north and west you go from the centre of wealth creation.

    Glasgow's in trouble.

  • Comment number 50.

    #47 mrnaughty2

    THAT was just the first wave - wait until we get to the real Budgets.
    Both Coalition leaders just released a statement saying that though Deficit reduction was critical in the short-term, they shared a belief that the smaller the State was, the better, and so that was their shred long-term objective.

    Since Labour/Socialists have ALWAYS wanted to do the exact opposite,it means that, short of a Socialist landslide at the next GE, the only players in the Coalition game will be the current two parties and no LD/Lab grouping will be possible.

    That all means we have 10-15 years of Coalition Govt to come and the size of Govt spending will be reduced to ~30% from the current ~50% (stated aims of Clegg/Cameron).

    Lots of people on here seem to be the same as 'climate change' politicians. Instead of saying 'how can we best live in a changed world', they say 'how can we stop the unstoppable? I know, put up fuel taxes, build wind-farms and tax us all into oblivion'. Overall climate effect? Diddly-squit - 92% of global CO2 is natural, and only 2% comes from all mechanical forms of transport.
    So electric cars won't make one single iota of difference - even if the whole planet used wind-generated electricity to power them.

    Madness.

  • Comment number 51.

    CraigM @46
    Yes, Craig. Bit like those naughty Conservatives in Brent giving up to 26% rises because the people concerned do a v. hard job. Did they miss the 'there is no money left ' bit or is it just the usual Tory 2 digit salute to the rest of the plebs. Lot of it about.

  • Comment number 52.

    From pre election politicians promising that they knew the answer to everything to a bunch making it up as they go along, what has changed? nothing other than the hand working the puppets has changed.

  • Comment number 53.

    49.

    Aberdeen to shut down completely then.

  • Comment number 54.

    By the way has anyone got any ideas whatsoever where we will find 2.5 million private sector jobs in five years ?

    Thats 500,000 a year

    41,667 a month

    9,615 a week

    1,370 a day.


    Methinks old Lord Snooty may regret his unemploment will fall every year comment.

  • Comment number 55.

    4. At 11:44am on 14 Jul 2010, tossacoin wrote:

    I too was surprised at the speed at which a seemingly strong coalition was put together.

    However, as time goes by it is becoming more obvious why it happened in the way it did - the complete lack of spine demonstrated by the Lib Dems at every available opportunity.

    It seems that each week brings another piece of Tory policy, be it the budget, or Lansley's disgracefully ideological attack on the NHS, and the Lib Dems, who I hoped would fight to protect us from the worst of the Conservative Party's damn or be damned attitude, have shown themselves to be completely unnecesary - merely the soft and cuddly trimming that disguises the unmitigated self-interest and cruelty of the Tories.

    In the rest of the world it can take months for a functioning coalition to emerge because the protagonists each fight their corners and aim to find some kind of consensus that fits in with the demands of the people.

    Does anyone else feel like we simply have a Tory government? The coalition only exists in Nick Clegg's head. The sooner he steps across the floor and joins the tories the better. Then the Lib Dems can get back to forming and fighting for policies that their voters, and I would hope the majority of there members, actually support.

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

    Couldnt agree more with you this is very much a Tory government with a few fops in the guise of Libdems,sympathetic to the tory cause kibdems at that.

    I fear for them at the next election i truely do i can see them being swept away by this,Clegg has become worse than the Steel/Owen puppets on pitting image,he's become Chruchill the nodding dog from the adverts and the libdem henchmen such as Danny Alexander look frightened by things.

    Clegg promised "new politics" and what we have is the worst of old style politics a deal done in a smoky back room behind closed doors,dear god what people will do for a bit of power,oh sorry "the national interest"yeah right i believe that last statement.

  • Comment number 56.

    51.

    Hows Iceberg watch going ?

    Things not looking too good on the double dip front...all indicators pointing the very real prospect of it actually happening.

    Still Georgey Boy is obsessed with the bond security, doesn't realise his VAT rise will cancel out any of the corp. tax measures.


    Thus no demand, no business confidence, no investment, no jobs, no recovery.


    I think Richard Barwell has it spot on..."there is a cliff we are racing towards and its huge."

  • Comment number 57.

    HD2 @50
    You do have a talent for (inadvertently?) hitting the nail on the head.
    Re the ills of income (direct) tax. If the evil, mad and bad Brown had left income tax at 23p/£ we would have by now no need for the Coalition's 'austerity' budget manoeuvres. You might just have cracked it. We have to pay for services received.

  • Comment number 58.

    O.K., one last time for Craig
    Iceberg watch 5.
    Last spotted near Marlpool. Couldn't take the heat.
    Seriously, I had to move on. Taking potshots at easy targets is fun for a while, but these people are intent on serious damage, some of which they intend to make it very difficult to undo. I'm afraid we'll have to 'fight them on the beaches', etc. Damned difficult when as yet no political party comes near what is necessary.

  • Comment number 59.

    HD2

    Yes, it's all quite depressing.

    One of the most depressing figures that I read today was the number of people left in full time employment. There was even a more depressing figure that it is estimated tat of those 10% were needing Government tax creditsjust to survive.

    I think that I must be the only person left on the Country that believe that the National Minimum Wage has done more damage than good. I still don't understand how we got ourselves in a position where a large corporporation gives millions back to their shareholders in dividends but cannot pay their staff more than the minimum wage, so we the tax payer are effectively paying the employees wages.

    As you say, Madness.

    I'm signing up for an electric car and have done a calculation that this can be charged overnight by the use of wiring up a thousand hamster wheels. Not sure of Mrs N's reaction so if you come up with an alternative let me know. Just imagine my motoring costs will be equivalent to a box of Alpen a day.

  • Comment number 60.

    #54 craigmarpool

    I don't think referring to 'Lord Snooty' helps your credibility, especially when the PM said according to the OBR, unemployment would fall every year for this parliament, not be eliminated.
    The statement also said the OBR expected employment to rise every year.I would suggest you at least try and get your facts straight before making the usual comments which the ;last failed government made i.e. misrepresenting what someone said.

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

    Amazing after 13 years of labour government incompetence leaving massive unemployment and millions more on benefits, the largest debt in the history of this country, the largest gap between rich and poor, some contributors can only complain about 7 weeks of a coalition government.

  • Comment number 63.

    Take the tough decisions, the flak & the opinion poll slump upfront. If the economy starts marching upwards a year or even three down the line do you honestly think that the coalition will be hammered in 2015?

    Personally I don't. Both parties will trumpet clearing up Labour's mess, that they've done it together ('grown up' politics), the Tories will have successfully moved to the centre and Lib-Dems show that they're capable of being in government and take the hard decisions.

    As long as they've the spine to see it through, Labour will remain in opposition.

    The best thing Labour could do is persuade Harriet Harman to take the job on permanently rather the 5 leadership candidates on offer. She's not doing badly and comes out of the Mandelson Diaries quite well!

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 9:17pm on 14 Jul 2010, NeverRed wrote:
    Amazing after 13 years of labour government incompetence leaving massive unemployment and millions more on benefits, the largest debt in the history of this country, the largest gap between rich and poor, some contributors can only complain about 7 weeks of a coalition government.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    It is truely astonishing. No, incredibly and utterly astounding that the Coalition could have supplied so much ammunition to their critics in so short a time.
    Will we hark back fondly to the halcyon days of Brown when distressing mistakes were only made every other day?
    Should have had a landslide - only got a coalition.
    Brown and new labour despised - should have walked it for at least 18 months.
    New politics - the crowd mumbles 'rhubarb'

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    60 & 62.

    Tosh...

    OBR report says that during this parliament:

    600,000 jobs will be lost from the public sector (although this may have been "tweeked" downwards from 775,000 but lets stick with 600,000)

    700,000 jobs will be lost from the private sector.

    However, it goes on to say overall employment will rise by 1.2 million.

    Now, given there is a ban on public sector recruiment, that means the private sector will need to create 2.5 million jobs.

    Clear.


    I suggest you read the report...before accusing me of misrepresentation.

    I don't know where you get this eliminating unemployment from...I did not mention that at all...please do not misrepresent me, as usual.

    As for the Lord Snooty reference...allow me a little fun at this otherwise depressing Govt's expense...you seem to have had fun with the last administration.

  • Comment number 67.

    64.

    Indeed. Must gall them that Cameron limped over the finishing line with Clegg's help.

  • Comment number 68.

    Liberals, Liberal Democrats, Conservatives:
    I grew up in Eastbourne and have heard them talking for many years. They all sounded very similar.
    I now listen to the members of the coalition government, they still all sound the same. Not Liberals, not Liberal Democrats, but plain old Conservatives.
    I watch the faces of the Conservatives, they cannot beleive their luck to have successfully conned the sheepish Lib-Dems and their reaction is to every day revert to their 'nastiness'. I watch their sneers and their schoolboy attitudes. I particularly watch the boy Osbourne and his delight as he unfolds more vicious proposals which will be disastrous for the poorest of our society.
    They make a point of constantly saying that their measures have been produced in a very short time, since the election.
    They have known what they have been wanting to do for a very long time.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

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

  • Comment number 73.

    Steady on Bobm5 (@68). If they were that obvious their game would be up. They do really want to help us - show us the 'error of our ways' and so on. Damaging though they are its more unconscious than meant (with possibly a few exceptions). What they need is our pity. Rejected at a young age in favour of full time indoctrination (at great cost so it must be 'special'), they really are a class apart (possibly above?).
    The way you were putting it will just have them chunnering on about 'chips' on your shoulder!

  • Comment number 74.

    I suppose it is necessary to say that Local Councils do have a statutory say if they want to use it in local Health Care provision. It is supposed to be a joint effort, so all the civil servants a doing as in many other sectors is telling their masters its already happening so they can claim they thought it up. The appropriate scrutiny committee in many Councils receives a report from the PCT. The problem is that you need resources to offer oversight and the Council has no expert officers. The complexity of the delivery of health care is unbelievable and such that my local PCT could not even list the services it offered (outside the acute sector) and how access was gained to them in response to a F.I.R.

    For this reason I believe the new GP Groups will contract out the commissioning ole to the private and often US based agencies.

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    69 John Constable

    So under DM one can assume that the New Labour project will live on.

    Re your comment on Wilson. Hear here!

    BTW - At the end of the 1950's

    267 Technical Schools
    1252 Grammar Schools
    5493 Secondary Moderns.

    I mention this only that I'm surprised of the lack of Technical Schools compared to Secondary Moderns. It seems that we never really embraced Technical Schools at all?

  • Comment number 77.

    #67

    I'm just glad Brown didn't.

  • Comment number 78.

    And sagomix can we kill the notion that the '44 Education Act' required local authorities to introduce Grammar Technical and Secondary Moderns. It did not and indeed at leased three counties organised of a different basis, , Leicester and Cambridge and those who were combined with Cambridge in the 60's.

    It was the Spens and 1938 and Norwood 1943 reports which created the commonly held view that Children has three sorts of brains so there had to be three sorts of schools to accomodate them. That was the ideology but it is NOT prescribed in the act. In fact Grammar Schools remained Grammar schools and senior elementary school were expaned to meat the new school leaving age requirements and the

  • Comment number 79.

    Saga 70

    I'll go on a fact finding mission. You could well be right on the basis that out of the four of us, your the only one one who has spelt his name correctly.

    Crosland!

  • Comment number 80.

    71 - Up2Snuff

    By Product 1. = Fuel
    By Product 2. - Cat food. (just a case of deciding whether Hamster is having off day or has come to the end of it's useful life).

  • Comment number 81.

    Let us wait and see how much "trust" there is when the effects of the austerity measures begin to really bite.

    We already have some Tory MP's whingeing "it's not fair" since that nice Mr Gove (surely he IS one of us?) declared that the school building moratorium was not exclusively aimed at Labour constituencies.

    Then we have the spectacle of that buffon, Boris of London, telling his government chums, that London should be an exception in all this cost cutting thingamabob.

    Eventually, we will be treated to the sight of the inbred backwoodsmen of the Tory party forced, blinking in the unaccustomed glare of the masses, to denounce the Dear Leader, with threats of backbench anarchy and revolt unless their interests are protected from the much needed cull of the proles.

    Trust - don't make me laugh!

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    82 Me re Mr Naughty 72

    What is the matter with you mods ? I have said nothing that is not available in the wider world about two now dead politicians Anthony Crossman and Anthony Crossland.

    In fact my post refers entirely to Anthony Crossland and confirms the content of post72 that he was considered a nasty man for good reason.

    I can see nothing in my post that validates your reason for removing it.

  • Comment number 85.

    70 wrote

    Margaret Thatcher presided over a greater number of new comprehensive schools than any other single politician.

    Wasn't she married?

  • Comment number 86.

    Socialist always seek to deny to others what they have themselves benefited from - whether that is a good education, financial success, freedom to practise their religion and freedom under the law.

    The guiding principle is that we, the elected elite, know how to organise your lives better than you, ignorant fools, could possibly do.

    They preach 'fairness' and 'equality for all' and then travel in chauffeured cars from protected offices to imposing and protected homes. The more passionately they preach Socialism, the further removed from it they distance themselves by their own actions.

    How many, for instance, of the Last Lot donate (say) 75% of their net salary to charitable causes and live in modest homes?

    'Do as I say, not as I do' is what comes over and the sickening hypocrisy involved nauseates most of us.

    No - rather a Libertarian Govt where 'it's up to you to make the most of your lives and the opportunities that come your way' is the mantra. Yes, some fail, but most do not and individuals' compassion looks after those who have failed and who need help.

    Crosland and Crossman were serving the interests of the Soviet Union throughout their political lives as they thought that was an 'ideal society'.

    Poor deluded fools - and Wiki calls them 'intellectuals' RotFLmAO!!

  • Comment number 87.

    #xtunbridge 84

    Re 82.

    Thanks for your efforts. It seems that complete nonsense (mine 80 prime example) can get through but anything of value (yours 82) cannot. Madness.

    Have a good day.

    Mr N

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    20#

    Interesting. So, this is an attempted re-hash of something that has already demonstrably failed on the altar not of ability but ideology.

    Hmm.

    So, how do we do it instead, if all the things we've tried so far are too subject to political interference? (genuine question)

  • Comment number 90.

    86#

    Too darned right.

  • Comment number 91.

    70. At 10:25pm on 14 Jul 2010, sagamix wrote:

    The Crosland quote is intemperate and reprehensible, but it's a myth that the replacement of grammar schools by comprehensives was some sort of crazed experiment of labour lefties in the nineteen sixties.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BULL.


    It was no myth mate and fine well you know it too.

  • Comment number 92.

    80. At 11:47pm on 14 Jul 2010, mrnaughty2 wrote:
    71 - Up2Snuff

    By Product 1. = Fuel
    By Product 2. - Cat food. (just a case of deciding whether Hamster is having off day or has come to the end of it's useful life).
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    re By product 2: Not if Ted gets there first ...

    Wonder what his ranking of cats and hamsters is? Craig said that its 'extreme prejudice for rabbits', so could be #2 cats, #3 hamsters, #4 ?gerbils? ?squirrels? ...

    I can see squirrels being #2 actually. Craig to advise, please.


  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    34#

    Likewise Mr N, once "End Of The Party" by Andrew Rawnsley comes out in paperback, I'll return the favour. Enjoying "The Spirit Level Delusion" by Christopher Snowdon at the moment.

    Like taking the muslin off the left wings' biggest truckle of what they purport to be the finest vintage cheddar... and discovering instead that what you've actually got is a mouldy old Emmenthal, full of holes.

  • Comment number 95.

    93#

    What the devil is the matter NOW?

    Am I going to be spending the whole day locked in battle with the Central Communities Team AGAIN? Or can I escalate this censorship higher??

    There is NOTHING in that post re Crosland or Thatcher OR Benn that is factually inaccurate.

    Lets not have another day like Monday, eh?

  • Comment number 96.

    87/84#

    Looks like we're in for another day of fun.

    Strange how you can, should you so wish, post similar sentiments over on Andrew Neil's page.... and nothing happens.

    Yet, step a millimetre out of line on here and you get royally jumped on.

    Unless you're slagging off the tories, that is.

  • Comment number 97.

    How can something I have written be off topic, when I am responding to a post, when that post itself was not deemed off topic, otherwise I could not be responding to it?

    Is Gordon Brown now a moderator at the BBC I wonder?

  • Comment number 98.


    It is encouraging to see the Civil Service confirm that the Coalition Government is actually acting like a Government, and also that the days of fag packet sofa government, at the whim of one or two figures, are over

    It is an important sea change, and to me it seems like Labour and their supporters still don't get it, and are still in denial

    To be fair, it took the Conservatives 9 years to adjust after 1997, so it is still fresh and the denial still growing

    Those that supported Brown prior to the election, and tried to rubbish anyone who said what Mandelson himself is now saying, were attacked at the time, as being wrong, by .....

    Errrrm......Mandleson

    How odd is that

    As far as those on here that are saying that the Lib Dems, and/or the Conservatives have sold out, I think it depends on which part of the the Lib Dems you look at, the Libs or the Dems (which is in itself far too simplistic)

    The Liberal part of the Conservative Party and the Liberals are pretty close, whereas the left of the Lib Dems, is far more left wing than labour, although I agree that this part IS closer to Labour than the Conservatives

    What we have with the coalition is consensus, with the right of the Conservative Party pretty unhappy, the left of the Lib Dems seething, the Labour Party convinced that it will fall apart, and that this will happen without them needing to do too much

    Labour tactics seem to be to attack the Lib Dems, as they perceive the Lib Dems who are seething, with Simon Hughes at the head of this 'rump' to be capable of destroying the coalition

    Personally, I think that they have misread both the Westminster attitude and also Public opinion

    Obviously there are many in the country who will always be anti-Conservative, and there is nothing that can be done to alter that, likewise with anti-Labour sentiments

    The referendum vote wil be close, and there is clearly a view that many hold, that change is in the air, and the coalition for many, many people is a breath of fresh air in many ways

    If the coalition fails, it would show that AV, or PR should never be allowed anywhere near our politics, if we can't get people to work together, so there is pressure from that direction as well

    Most people seem sick to death of spin, and New Labour seems to be damaged goods currently, which is why the 5 Labour Leadership contenders can't do enough to distance themselves from it

    With it, Peter Mandleson, and Alastair Campbell, who seem to have come to the end of their methods being used politically

    I cannot see on here, so far, too many people defending Mandleson, unless these were the moderated out comments, which seems to suggest, rather unscientifically, that even Labour Supporters do not wish to defend him

    Also, does it not prove that Andrew Rawnsley's book was correct, and that all the people denying the Brown stories prior to the election were in fact 'lying'?

    We need to restore the powers of parliament, and we need to get back to some pretty simple truths, pretty damn quickly

    The fact that the Sir Humphreys are confirming we are getting back to this, is welcome, especially under a coalition government, and especially at such a tough time

    That a Conservative MP, so drunk, he did not feel that he could vote, was called Mr Reckless, is proof further, that truth is stranger than fiction

    This sort of behaviour is utterly unacceptable, and he should be fined a month's salary

    Standards need to rise, and we, the public also need to remember that MPs are human too, and Michael Gove apologising, was the first time that has happened in parliament so openly, for some time

    We need to re-establish when a minister should resign, and when an apology is enough

    We want clean politics, and we want it now

  • Comment number 99.

    97#

    Take it up with the Central Communities Team. Follow the Moderation tab at the bottom.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/messageboards/contact.shtml

  • Comment number 100.

    70. At 10:25pm on 14 Jul 2010, sagamix wrote:
    The Crosland quote is intemperate and reprehensible, but it's a myth that the replacement of grammar schools by comprehensives was some sort of crazed experiment of labour lefties in the nineteen sixties. The policy had majority public support (due to concern over the eleven plus, and to the fact the vast majority of children were consigned to poor relation, badly resourced "second best moderns") and it was implemented with cross party consensus at both national and local level. It started before the sixties and continued well after; Margaret Thatcher presided over a greater number of new comprehensive schools than any other single politician.

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

    There are a few factual elements which are incorrect with your statement. Comprehensive education was not started in the UK prior to the sixties, in fact lets be a little more precise 1965. Although the idea had been kicked around there had been no schools deemed as comprehensive establishments. However there had been a ongoing campaign for comprehensive education prior to 1965 and it had gained some creedence through 10/65 which was a statute rather than a Government Bill. This was seen as very controversial at the time with claims that it was being brought in through the back door. Even though a government motion in favour of the policy had scraped through in January of that year.

    There was also not cross party support for the abolition of grammar schools but the replacement of secondary modern and tech schools with the new comprehensives.

    Crosland was seen as instrumental the implementation of this policy and it has been documented that he had a hatred of grammar schools. In fact his wife wrote in her biographer that he had said "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every ******* grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland". Which is strange as he himself was educated at Highgate, an independent school. Crosland himself had lost his seat in gloucestershire and only returned to parliament by moving his attentions to Grimsby.

    There were more comprehensive schools opened under Mrs. T as there were more new schools built, a fact rather pushed into the shadows.

    My own observation is that in the UK we would rather lower everyone's standards rather than try and raise those of under performing, less privileged Etc Etc Etc.........

    In Education if Grammar Schools are seen as being establishments that deliver excellent results. Even Crosland acknowledged this point. Why did we not leave them alone and concentrate on raising the standards of the then secondary modern and tech schools. Rather than this we brought everyone down to the lowest common denominator. A practice which had to be reversed with streaming being brought into comprehensives in the early 70's.

    I could go on but it is going to turn into a lecture......

 

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