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Can new man at No 10 steady Team Cameron?

Nick Robinson | 09:03 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

It is not just a new cat that is moving into Downing Street.

The appointment of a new director of strategy is to be announced very soon. Andrew Cooper, the founder of the polling company Populus and the former director of the Conservative research department, is dotting the i's and crossing the t's on his new role. His task will be to give the government "narrative coherence".

Downing Street certainly needs someone to ensure that the government had a clearer message and makes fewer unforced errors. In my interview with the PM yesterday he as good as acknowledged that the government had tripped over itself while trying to go too fast. Stumbles over school buildings, books and sport, the sell-off of the forests (soon to be abandoned I predict) and prisoner votes have all unnerved Team Cameron.

Cooper's appointment will be controversial, however. He has been seen as an uber uber moderniser (see Conservativehome) ever since producing polling that told the Tories they need to keep modernising to salvage a contaminated brand. Cooper joined the Tories when David Owen's SDP folded. Those who portray themselves as "mainstream Conservatives" will see his appointment, alongside Craig Oliver's, as evidence that their party is not interested in reaching out to them. Our mistake, one Cameroon told me, was to look like we wanted and were enjoying coalition rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into it.

Further evidence of the confidence wobble in No 10 is the creation of a new policy unit to shadow and monitor the work of government departments. It will be staffed by civil servants as the Tories have run out of special advisers having promised to cut their number and then having to share them with the Lib Dems. First on the list for monitoring will, I'm told, be Defra and those forests.

A minister confesses that for a while the coalition thought it could do anything. It has now become painfully clear that that is not the case.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    "Downing Street certainly needs someone to ensure that the government had a clearer message and makes fewer unforced errors" It is difficult to see in the recent past they could have made more unforced errors. It will be interesting to see the spin on today's inflation figures - try deferred success? Everyone knows they are becoming worse off (except some of those working at Barclays) but the CPI and the more relevant RPI will now make it official. Not long for the local elections when many who voted Lib Dem will be able to wreak vengeance on those who were so treacherous.

  • Comment number 2.

    Although I suport most of what the Goverment is trying to do . They need to ensure they stop rushing things out and consult people more . That way they have a chance of taking the ratoinal members of the public with them .

  • Comment number 3.

    That sounds like an interesting and challenging job, trying to give the government a coherent narrative. They do need one, now that the yucky "cleaning up Labour's mess" has been discredited. Let's see what he comes up with, this Andrew Cooper. Recommend we reserve judgement until such time as he's made a pig's ear of it.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think it's probably a good idea to get someone to be able to give them a better and more coherent narrative as that's what they're lacking. The coalition seems to have lots of people running around with their hair on fire trying to modernise and reform but no-one able to discuss that with the public. Sometimes spin doctors are useful, as long as they don't start running the show a la New Labour.
    It's also about time they took the fight to Labour and showed up the inherent weakness of their arguments, that they are good-time government and also to make sure that policy is properly implemented by the government departments. Good scoop Nick.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, he did say he was the Heir To Blair... oh well. You get what you pay for. At least its better than the last incumbents.

  • Comment number 6.

    Come in the focus groups.

    Only four years to go to the general election. Might as well start polling now...

    Does he live in north London?

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 Watriler.

    Of course there are going to be some poor growth figures, the economy has to recover from living on borrowed money to actually producing things and living on it's own merits. QE is going to take a long time to work through the system as well, we just have to hold our nerve and carry on working hard - or maybe we should carry on as we did under Labour, assume everything will be OK and leave someone else to pick up the pieces? Anyone got a spare credit card, I'd like to build a London eyesore?

  • Comment number 8.

    Wow ... and I thought it was bad under labour with Cambell spin doctoring.

    Sounds like the tories need a spin doctor skulking behind the spin doctor in order to pull the wool over our eyes.

    He's going to have to be good in order to stop us all laughing at policies like BS.

  • Comment number 9.

    At the moment they seem to be fighting like cats in a bag - there is no coherence but perhaps there cannot be because if we really clearly saw what they were proposing there would be an uprising. At the moment it is like watching a horror movie unwinding - even the caste look appropriate -
    If you dismantle society it is not just the weak and disadvantaged that will protest - indeed it is more likely to be the solid centre of the community who have a greater investment in the social structure - but almost all of us except perhaps the very rich have an acquaintance with old age, disoccupation, poverty, loneliness, stress, mental illness, illhealth - through our families, neighbours, charity work etc So the cuts affect all of us and we are touched even if not directly and personally -
    The constant flood of media images of wealth increase this distress and make our society feel even more unjust and unequal - Essex County Councillors pay themselves £1,600,000 in expenses but cut the support from the poorest in our local communities - the editor of the Daily Mail preaches hatred of the hardworking men and women in local government whilst he is paid £2,900,000 a year - enough for 100 teachers or nurses
    The reality of this injustice is spreading through the internet and by word of mouth

  • Comment number 10.

    At last some good news from No. 10.

    Larry the cat has arrived to clear out the rats.

    He is going to be busy for quite some time.

    PS. At least he won't have to avoid Cruella De Ville!

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick

    You may add the changes in the NHS to your list of policy faux-pas. GP Fund-holding all over again. Once implemented this may well be seen as an expensive mistake too; not part of the coalition agreement, either.

  • Comment number 12.

    By the way ....

    WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS NEW POST ?

    Is it paid for by the tory party? Or is it paid for by the taxpayer?

    If - as I suspect - it is the taxpayer, then how much are we paying for the tories back room spin doctor?

  • Comment number 13.

    #1 Watriler

    The difficulty is that its government and therefore coalition policy; i.e both political parties making up that coalition that are responsible.

    The blame game within coalition partners will probably precipitate an end to the agreement between those parties.

    It is quite normal for ruling governments, especially unpopular ones, taking difficult measures to be punished at the local elections. It would be surprising if only the Liberal Democrats were the only party to be punished by voters. Surely either both or neither get punished or is the electorate really that fickle?

  • Comment number 14.

    No 7
    You need to get out more because out there are many who would like the opportunity to carry on and work hard and many for whom carrying on and working hard will become just nostalgia thanks to the swingeing cuts of the Cleggmeron.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is Nick Clegg running the Government, because this is the kind of appointment he would make not a Conservative. If Cameron is not careful, he will make the Conservatives unelectable let alone a detoxified brand.

    A moderniser my foot, Cooper is just a spin man. I will give Cameron some advice for free. The message from Government is not clear because you have Conservatives saying one thing and the Lib/Dems another. A strange mix of socialist policies and Conservative policies are being churned out which bear no resemblance to any manifesto produced before the Election. None of which address the real problems Britain has. The public is therefore confused about what the message is.

    Cameron should get on with dealing with the cuts he promised before the election and reforming the public sector. That is all this Coalition is there to do. If he is successful at this, that is what will win him the next Election, not all this spin nonsense. There, it was so easy to articulate what is going wrong, he can now sack Cooper.

    I suppose next this guy will tell Cameron the Conservatives must embrace the EU. I am just waiting for that to happen.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think we can start by cleaning up Labour's mess. See how that polls (except with sagamix). Right now, it appears to be having the right effect; a majority recognise that labour left us in the merde with no plan to get us out of it.

    Then we can move on to a continuing contamination of the labour brand, which has decided to dump all pretence of ever being centre left and revert to its labour roots. I understand REd wanted to brand it 'Radical Labour' in his own inimitable way. Failing to spot that might actually mean doing something about the deficit. It must be so depressing sitting in a room with that man pretending you are inspired by his classroom economics and common room politics.

    All in all a positive day for the tories...

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd rather listen to the new cat than to yet more PR spin-merchants.

    Whatever happened to proper political debate? You know, when people advanced ideas that they thought might benefit the country and then presented arguments in support of them, and other folks produced counter-arguments...

    Suppose that went out with the idea of entering politics as public service, instead of a 'career' best suited to self-serving mediocre people who'd never get anywhere without a coterie of cronies.

  • Comment number 18.

    "They do need one, now that the yucky "cleaning up Labour's mess" has been discredited."


    You wish mate. You wish....

  • Comment number 19.

    "I understand REd wanted to brand it 'Radical Labour' in his own inimitable way."

    How about Cillit Labour?

    *BANG*..... and the money is gone!

  • Comment number 20.

    #3 Sagamix wrote:
    "That sounds like an interesting and challenging job, trying to give the government a coherent narrative. They do need one, now that the yucky "cleaning up Labour's mess" has been discredited."

    Obviously I don't agree with this, but rather than argue about it, at least not for the moment, I suggest we differentiate three strands of opinion:

    a) Labour left an economy that was in a mess and it is (almost) all Labour's fault
    b) Labour left an economy that was in a mess and it is (almost) all not Labour's fault
    c) Labour left an economy that was not in a mess

    So, Sagamix, I know you won't take option a), but do you prefer to dine out on option b) or option c)?

  • Comment number 21.

    "The reality of this injustice is spreading through the internet and by word of mouth"

    If they can talk, type and breathe through their mouths simultaneously whilst licking the double glazing.

    Might take a while for the message to get through at that rate. Its a long distance for the knuckles to travel, from floor to PC keyboard...

  • Comment number 22.

    YO!!!...'Spin City'

    Here we go again. I thought this government had learned from Tony Blair. The country is tired of these ex-Fleet St. hacks telling everyone what they should think.

    Apparently No. 10 can't do without someone 'real' to tell them what is happening in the rest of the country.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm going to take a punt and predict how the comments on this blog post will pan out. We'll see around 4 or so sensible observations and then another 30 or so posts from the labour peanut gallery calling Cameron Lord Snooty, snarking that he went to Eton and/or suggesting he sleeps with bankers/ordered the slaughter of the first born. Around post 40 Fubar will wade in at which point a 100 comment firefight will ensue with both sides alleging that Nick R is a stooge of the right/left/greens etc. By post 150 side arguments will break as people discuss the relative merits of IQ measurement, home cookery etc. One comment I would make on the shambles of yesterday's big society blog is that I suspect most people posting on here have nothing to learn from it. It's worth noting that there are many communities that have no volunteerism ethos and as someone correctly noted on the today prog yesterday, opening up these to a BS programme with micro financing provided by the BS is surely worth trying. And oh yes, wouldn't it be nice if people could raise the standard of debate on here as the signal to noise ratio is absolutely appalling.

  • Comment number 24.

    #14 that maybe so but it will be better than carrying on in the vien of brown and balls and millband where the whole country would have been shuffled into the atlantic ocean to be forgotten, as a result of the scorched earth policy of labour

    At least we will have a chance of getting back to 97 levels

  • Comment number 25.

    I can tell you how it polls, Robin (16), since we've done precisely that.

    Question was: When you hear the trite phrase that is "Clearing up Labour's mess", do you?

    (a) nod in agreement due to a combination of tory tribality and ignorance of the root causes of the economic crisis.

    (b) laugh with a mixture of irritation and derision at how dumbed-down politics has become in the UK, particularly Conservative politics.

    (c) just block it out, pretend not to have heard.

    And we got - from quite a large sample - all Bs and Cs. Now okay, that's only Hampstead & Highgate plus a touch of Swindon, but still.

  • Comment number 26.

    fubar @ 18

    No I don't wish, I know. Totally discredited. "CULM" has become the sort of phrase which is said with inverted commas; has become an arch joke, in other words, shorn of any political power or resonance.

    Even Cameron has dropped it. He recognised (just in time) that it was becoming his very own "No more Boom & Bust".

    Course, we still get the likes of Robin churning it out (plus Jobs and his ilk) but only reason they do that is to annoy me. Which it doesn't, because it's discredited.

  • Comment number 27.

    With the rolling news agenda and so much to do it is unlikely this will prove successful.

    Cameron's main problem is that he is spread too thinly with very limited skills in his cabinet. Weaklings like Gove in charge of Education is failing not only on communication but the delivery. Owning "free schools" and failing to enable profit to be made from education being the key failures. The need to have a widespread take on the the IB is also being missed as we seek English solutions that do not work.

    As for Lansleys attempts with the NHS these are being lost in the noise.

    Cameron needs focus on success by competent minister forget BS it is seen as a waste of time and effort by the people as well as many in government.Focus on real initiatives to solve real problems such as poor schools, over rewarded PFI's (nationalise them all).

    A distinct lack of thinking is going on that is probably inherent in a Government rooted in spin and lead by a former spin doctor.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fubar..

    Cillit Labour.... 'Bang' and all the money was gone.

    I am crying with laughter. You should be a screen writer. Or work for the tory party. That's the best line I've heard in ages.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 29.

    sagamix..

    clearly you have decided not to read the polls that suggest that David Cameron and George Osborne are still preferred above REd and Balls.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 30.

    23#

    You've been here before then?? :o))

  • Comment number 31.

    #12 Jon

    I suppose Tony Blair paid Alistair out of his own pocket then did he?

    New Labour started the spin doctor reliance, I had hoped we might see an end to it but it's taken root too deeply now. Why can't the government just explain to the public what it is they are trying to do? If it's not understandable then there is something wrong with the policy! (BS is a good example)

    We should end spin doctoring for all parties, however I fear that unless it appears in The Sun/Daily Mail etc then no-one in the country would even realise we have a government that makes policy, or what that policy was!

  • Comment number 32.

    One of the problems at the very core of this government is that so many are public school boys. As a result of their education they think they are a lot brighter and more talented than is in fact the case. They underestimate others and the difficulties thrown up in the real world.

    But I do admit it is nice to see a government learning from history and endeavouring not to repeat the mistakes of Thatcher or Blair. I also love the fact that the old fashioned Tory right is proving just so impotent in government. What future does someone like Dominic Raab (a man who retoxifies the brand every time he opens his mouth) have so long as the Cameroons are running the Tory Party.






  • Comment number 33.

    16. At 10:41am on 15 Feb 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:

    "All in all a positive day for the tories..."

    ---------

    ^ Really?? Good grief... then I'd hate to see what a bad day looks like in Toryland. Does it look something like North London, perchance?

    And I notice that while this story has little mileage for us bloggers, we've quickly regressed back to discussing how it's all Labour's fault: "that's another fine mess you've gotten me into, Stanley". Or more accurately: "We didn't break it! It' was broken when we got here - honest!"

    Do you honestly think that line of defence is going to hold water come the next election? By then we'll have had five years of rising unemployment, rising taxes, rising deficit (and you know it), combined with highly unpopular 'attacks' on education, the NHS, woodlands, the voluntary sector... and the list goes on.

    So I doubt that turning to the electorate and saying: "Labour made us do it - blame them!" will sway things in favour of the Tories. Because by then, people will have become well and truly sick of such rhetoric, I assure you.

  • Comment number 34.

    who was it that said that ALL the MONEY was GONE

    1) labour Treasury Minister
    2) labour Treasury Minister
    3) labour Treasury Minister

    why did he say that

    1) Labour had wasted it all on social engineering sovietisation of the UK
    2) Labour had wasted it all on social engineering sovietisation of the UK
    3) Labour had wasted it all on social engineering sovietisation of the UK



    which adviser told the IMF they were wrong to critise the state of the UK economy in 2004

    1) Ed Balls
    2) Current Shadow Chancellor
    3) Former runner for the Labour leadership race



    I have nmade it easy for sagamix as he has trouble with reality

  • Comment number 35.

    sagamix 25

    Well whos mess is it then, I will give you a clue the Conservatives and Lib/Dems have only been in Government a few months. Labour 13 years before that, who inherited a decent economy, in balance from the Conservatives. During those 13 years the economy was ruined. Now it could be spacemen who took over our Government, in which case I would gladly take the first available flight out of here with them, or it was Labour. Which do you think?

  • Comment number 36.

    B, John (20). B for me - all day long.

  • Comment number 37.

    32#

    Depends on what the coalition delivers, Cass. If they deliver, then the right will be neutralised in the mainstream of the party or pushed over to UKIP.

    If they dont... you might see someone like Raab doing a Neil Kinnock in a few years ("we got our party back...."...and its still unelectable...)...

    FWIW... nah, you'll have to wait and see.

  • Comment number 38.

    I love the latest labour spin...'we're not in power anymore it's not our mess' .. or 'that won't work at the next election' ...doh!

    Shock me, lads.

    The mess was created by newlabour. Doubling and tripling of government budgets without any result and no idea how to pay. Health, welfare, education, PFI... you tirned on the spiggots and let rip. What did we get for it? 98% of new jobs went to non UK residents in the last ten years. A terrific result while the feckless sat on their backsides watching daytine tv collecting newlabour's incapacity benefits.

    Is this a result to be proud of? Please tell the entire population of the UK of your pride at this monumetally rubbish achievement.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 39.

    Not very easy for anybody to put a good spin on the blatant display of cronyism and disregard for the majority of people exhibited by this government. Where's our equivalent of Tahrir Square? I've got my bedroll ready.

  • Comment number 40.

    susan @ 35

    You misunderstand the point I'm making.

    "Labour's mess" is fine; but only from somebody (or some organisation) who didn't sign up to the consensus on (i) public spending levels and (ii) a free-for-all in the City.

    It cannot be used, therefore, by the Conservative Party. Unless they don't mind being charged, tried and convicted of rank hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 41.

    33. Skol303 wrote:

    "Because by then, people will have become well and truly sick of such rhetoric, I assure you."


    Ain't that the truth.

    Unless it's the rhetoric you want to hear, of course.

  • Comment number 42.

    #23 Tynan

    Well said !!

    I would agree on an argument along the lines of CI ratios or SN as well, it's more in my line of work (they are different although based on the same basic lines :)

    And now back to the bun fight......

  • Comment number 43.

    #15 Susan-Croft:
    "A strange mix of socialist policies and Conservative policies are being churned out which bear no resemblance to any manifesto produced before the Election."
    But Susan, you were warned. The Conservatives and many media commentators pointed out repeatedly before the GE that under a coalition government that's exactly what you get, policies no-one voted for.
    Anyone who voted Lib Dem was, by definition, voting for a coalition, since there was no chance they would win the GE outright. But now, bizarrely, lots of Lib Dem MPs, councillors and supporters seem unhappy with being in a coalition.
    I suppose the moral is - be careful what you wish for.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hopefully a good move, after all who better to know the opinions of actual people than the founder of a polling company?

  • Comment number 45.

    I know Banks have signed up to the Merlin Project recently but have another thought on how Banks can show they are collaborating well with Ministers for the benefit of the country. I should like to make a suggestion about Investment Banker's bonuses. Is it possible for someone from the BBC to get a Banker into the studio or on the phone for an interview. The purpose of this would be for them to do a PR job and explain to the public why they deserve their bonuses. I am convinced that this is a massive public interest story and that we are all interested to know what it is they actually do for the economy that warrants their rewards. Surely this would help us increase our understanding.

  • Comment number 46.

    #33 skol303:
    "Do you honestly think that line of defence is going to hold water come the next election? By then we'll have had five years of rising unemployment, rising taxes, rising deficit (and you know it), combined with highly unpopular 'attacks' on education, the NHS, woodlands, the voluntary sector... and the list goes on."
    Have you been fortunate enough to be living abroad for the last 14 years? By the next election, if current trends continue, we will have had 7 years of rising unemployment, 18 years of rising taxes and 13 years of rising deficit.

  • Comment number 47.

    Is it just me or does this particular post seem to enjoy reporting on the current government's problems?

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm afraid not many will see it as discredited Saga.

    I agree with you that it is unhelpful, lets leave the issue of whether or not its discredited to one side shall we.

    I also agree that its a pretty sad indictment of politics that its all about the blame game. But I scarcely think you can lay that at the feet of one party above any other. Christ, we still hear people blaming Thatcher, blaming Major, blaming Clark, blaming whoever the hell they think they can get away with pointing a finger at. It bugs me, no matter who it comes from.

    Lets approach it instead from an "is this necessary/ right" angle shall we. Given that we are in a mess, irrespective of blame, is it right to make cuts. And given that we are in a mess, is there anything that should be done differently. There is more than enough fertile ground for disagreement and argument there.

    Oh, and as for your 40#, I seem to remember Cameron admitting to signing up to the "cosy economic consensus". I also remember plenty of criticism of the way Brown was running a deficit during the boom. So while we can certainly agree that there would have been a recession no matter what, the argument, as ever, comes down to length and depth.

  • Comment number 49.

    The appointment of a new director of strategy is to be announced very soon. Andrew Cooper, the founder of the polling company Populus and the former director of the Conservative research department, is dotting the i's and crossing the t's on his new role. His task will be to give the government "narrative coherence".
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Narrative coherence eh; are you trying to say that the Condems have lacked this up till now Nick – no way....way.

    I don’t know what they stand for really & I’m more confused with every passing Day.
    They certainly don’t seem to support Conservative values of rewarding hard work that’s for sure.

    I’m not even sure they know whether they support stay at home parents or go to work parents, support small business or not, high taxation policy or expansion of the economy from low(er) taxation?

    Poor old Dave; he’s trying to please everybody & it just doesn’t work.
    Jeez, what’s the matter with the Tories these days, the message should be clear, but all we have are conflicting, airy fairy policies.

    Still, we don’t need a New Swinging Cat in No 10 to play the same old 78 do we (“It’s all Labour’s fault” now available on CD ROM).

  • Comment number 50.

    sagamix 40

    Sounds as though New Labour had no significant impact whatsoever then Saga. In fact you'd have been better off with the Tories staying charge because it would have been the same outcome, but without the huge disappointment.

  • Comment number 51.

    38. rockRobin7 wrote:
    ".....A terrific result while the feckless sat on their backsides watching daytine tv collecting newlabour's incapacity benefits."


    rabidRight7 ??
    Robin, you're not helping Dave with his decontamination process.

  • Comment number 52.

    I hope the new person can counter the BBC labour bias.
    Still no blog from Nick on what labour would do to fix the financial crisis.

  • Comment number 53.

    This wooden Cabinet needs more than a coat of varnish; it’s hard to find a good word for any of them – but fun to try … With no apologies for failing to keep to the (one word) Budget, here are the images evoked (in me, a Scot, from the perspective of the devolved North where going over – Budget on vanity Projects is a way of life, larded over by the prime suspect in the ‘Who ate all the Pies ???’ mystery) by (a select subset of) your coalition of the winging - it (in no particular ordure) …

    Gove – Irritating, unexpectedly lightweight
    Pickles – Seaside Postcard, caricature
    Huhne – Pretentious, self – inflated (“How can you take seriously someone with 2 ‘h’s in their surname ???” – Nathaniel Hawthorne …) …
    Alexander – Drowning not Swimming
    (Vince) Cable – Great Adult - Film name
    Cameron – Obsequious, privileged
    Osborne – Thick, privileged
    Lansley – Pike (Dad’s Army), featherweight
    Fox – Pusillanimous
    Hammond – Creepy
    Hague – Nasal, risible
    Clegg – Unspeakable
    Maude – Relic, oleaginous
    Letwin – Punch – able …

    Please feel free to add your own impressions; surely the Shadow Cabinet provides rich pickings ??? …

    Spot – on and well said Kenneth @ #23; if only you’d posted before yesterday’s BS Blog debacle …

  • Comment number 54.

    notfooledsteve 39

    ' Where's our equivalent of Tahrir Square? I've got my bedroll ready.'

    Too late. We got rid of a despotic leader that bankrupted the country and left it economically destitute, back in May.

    Not to say some of his henchmen (Miliband and Balls) aren't still lurking around mind you.

  • Comment number 55.

    "while the feckless sat on their backsides watching daytine tv collecting newlabour's incapacity benefits." - rr7 @ 38

    Good luck with this, Robin. When is Littlejohn standing down? Is there an interview or do you just have to supply samples of low rent tat? You know, show what you can do.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have a suggestion for consideration.
    As the BBC is license payer funded,then all of the BBC political editors / correspondents should state which UK political party they support. This would allow the viewer / listener / reader to judge how biased or not the reporting is.
    Will this be posted?

  • Comment number 57.

    47.
    Some reporters within the BBC have their own agenda.
    Have you only just twigged on?

  • Comment number 58.

    greatHayemaker @ 48 wrote:

    Lets approach it instead from an "is this necessary/ right" angle shall we. Given that we are in a mess, irrespective of blame, is it right to make cuts.


    >>

    Hey, Haye! Where have you been? Or do you have another nom de plume?

    Anyway, I'd just like to chip in with the observation that all parties accept the need for tackling the deficit. The only issues are the speed of deficit reduction (within one parliament or over a longer period) and the precise route (the balance of tax rises and spending cuts).

  • Comment number 59.

    Our Nick reports that Andrew Cooper's task will be to give the government "narrative coherence" and 'a minister' (via one of the greatest sins in journalism - the unattributed quote) confesses that for a while the coalition thought it could do anything and it has now become painfully clear that that is not the case.

    So what could this "narrative coherence" be?

    I would suggest starting with a confession - we, that is, politicians, are directly responsible for around three-quarters of the public sector debt total, amounting to some £700Bn pounds, which is solely due to our previous inability over two or so decades, to only spend revenues that were collected via taxation.

    Next, I would say that we are having to take steps to remedy this situation because this debt will threaten our whole way of life if it is not bought down to more manageable levels, commensurate with (any) economic growth.

    The public sector itself has already had to find 'efficiency savings' via the Gershon Review, which is still ongoing.

    However, we expect local authorities around the country to honour local level service agreements and not close libraries, leisure centres etc but to find innovative ways in which these services can be maintained.

    We need to tell the general public that the public sector itself has to have a certain level of back-office functions to support the front-line services that they see but we recognise that if we can drastically simplify certain functions, for example, the revenue tax code, then this would allow us to operate these services more efficiently.

    Well, that is a start but the "narrative" cannot have too many threads, which is what has happened to date as the Coalition Government has acted like a supercharged Tony Blair and has taken on too much in one go.

    I can understand why professional politicians such as Cameron admire Blair so much even if the rest of us usually cannot but this fixation with Blair and his methods is unhealthy and maybe not even particularly appropriate for the current circumstances.

  • Comment number 60.

    TCD @ 56

    They tried that in the US in the 1950s.

    It was called McCarthyism.

  • Comment number 61.

    46. At 12:08pm on 15 Feb 2011, vstrad wrote:

    "By the next election, if current trends continue, we will have had 7 years of rising unemployment, 18 years of rising taxes and 13 years of rising deficit."

    ----------

    ^ Like I said, tell it - or rather "sell it" - to the electorate. That's the challenge.

    Because I'm sure the majority of voters won't be so very interested in Tory rhetoric regarding "Labour's mess" when they/we visit the ballot boxes in 2015.

    I don't imagine many students are going to be voting blue or yellow. And I imagine that a few pale blue voters will be switching sides in protest against privatisation of woodlands, the NHS, closure of libraries, etc...

    Blaming it on Labour will always get guffaws from the right on this blog. Trouble is - for you Tories - that the electorate en masse will base their opinions on far less political and more 'personal' evidence: do I still have a job, can I afford my childrens' education, are my parents getting the care/treatment they need, what happened to our local library, has crime risen in our community? And so on.

    On here, you're preaching to the converted - nobody on this blog is ever going to change their opinion based on that of anyone else here: we're all too set in our ways; we don't come here to learn, we come here to 'spar' (ain't it the truth).

    So the big challenge for Tories is to win over everyone else. And good luck with that... Big Society, anyone??

  • Comment number 62.

    If Team Cameron really want to do some good, they urgently need to tell their man 'get a grip'.

    Cameron is all over the place. He needs to focus on getting the economy right and cutting waste, particularly in local government.

    People are totally unimpressed with his 'Big Society' and social engineering nonsense. It's a distraction - and the more he goes on and on about it, the more ridiculous and out of touch he looks.

    Most people do not live in quaint little villages like Dibley, where local parishioners can gather round a table once week to decide what they want for their community.

    We already pay through the nose for local services - and people need protection from wasteful local authorities who give poor value for money. The idea that local people will be queuing up to volunteer to run services that we are already paying for is pure fantasy.

  • Comment number 63.

    $43 vstrad

    Hit the nail on the head - many people (myself included) have pointed this out before and after the election. The UK is not ready for coalition government, and I doubt we ever will be

    We want coalitions because we feel they somehow represent more of the population than a single government, but what most people (certainly nearly all posters on here) mean is that they want a coalition; as long as the coalition does exactly what 'their' party in the coalition wants

    Most coalition governments take months to agree on a direction before they even take a seat in Parliament, this is because they have to try to agree on lines to take over policies that have gulfs between line of thought. Our coalition was formed in 72 hours - and it shows, everything appears rushed because it is rushed. Much of this should have been negotiated in advance

    Over here (Holland) they took some 4-6 months to negotiate the government, this is because the right wing majority party has had to agree to water down most if it's election promises, they have had to concede many many points to other parties and vice versa

    The simple fact is that with coalitions you never ever get what was in the election manifesto - it just isn't possible

  • Comment number 64.

    #53

    Its interesting to note that your political opinion is formed entirely by your personal impression of the men/ women involved.

    Its a shame, I suspect there are a large number of people who exercise their right to vote who are similarly challenged.

    For myself, while I find I don't disagree with all of your comments, I like to judge based on performance. And we are still very much in the wait and see space there, aren't we? Clegg aside of course (he has been soundly judged by now I think).

    Would you care to put together a similar one for the Labour Shadow Cabinet? I suspect if you were honest, you would end up with plenty of "thugs", "bullies", "prospectless", "dishonests". And also no shortage of "priveleged", which you seem to find distasteful (for some reason). But I doubt you are. Honest that is.

  • Comment number 65.

    I wouldn't be so sure that the 'Labour's legacy' line has died a death, sagamix.

    No-one in their right mind is going to deny that the crisis was a global phenomenon. Western economies built-up on the back of property booms and under-regulated/reckless banking activities: there's no one government to blame for that.

    But (and it's a big but) Labour was in power at the time in the UK. It's all well and good (and accurate) to say that Cameron and co were committed to matching spending commitments and showed no appetite to rein in City excesses, but really it won't do. History always judges those who were in a position to change things more harshly than those who agreed from the sidelines. Quite right too.

    Further, although the crisis was international by nature, the reason that the tag 'deficit deniers' hasn't been utterly discredited as you claim is because we did have a massive structural deficit and people like Ed Balls have gone on record denying this. That simply won't do. Any politician who argues that black is white, or vice versa, will never command my respect.

  • Comment number 66.

    57. At 12:25pm on 15 Feb 2011, telecasterdave wrote:
    47.
    Some reporters within the BBC have their own agenda.
    Have you only just twigged on?


    ---------

    The problem is that they are not allowed to so much as pay lip service to their own agenda.

    It is perfectly right that they are challenged when they seem not to be completely independent. I'm not sure whether that applies here, but its certainly reasonable to ask the question.

  • Comment number 67.

    58. At 12:26pm on 15 Feb 2011, pdavies65 wrote:
    greatHayemaker @ 48 wrote:

    Lets approach it instead from an "is this necessary/ right" angle shall we. Given that we are in a mess, irrespective of blame, is it right to make cuts.

    >>

    Hey, Haye! Where have you been? Or do you have another nom de plume?

    Anyway, I'd just like to chip in with the observation that all parties accept the need for tackling the deficit. The only issues are the speed of deficit reduction (within one parliament or over a longer period) and the precise route (the balance of tax rises and spending cuts).

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

    Busy, I find I have much less time for blogging these days. Except at the weekends, and the boards seem to be shut then.

    I would challenge whether "we'll do it later" is an acceptance of the need to tackle the deficit. But thats the sort of debate that should be taking place. As opposed to "its your fault".

  • Comment number 68.

    Nick Robinson.

    "His [A Cooper] task will be to give the government "narrative coherence"."

    classic, literally.

    en par with the labours of Hercules, approaching the plight of Sisyphus.

  • Comment number 69.

    On this specific story, I'm getting increasingly fed up with Cameron's fixation with Blair. He seems intent on modelling his career on Blair's.

    What with the presentational style, the fawning praise for the ex-Prime Minister from his inner circle, courting of Blair's favourites (e.g. Alan Milburn) and fondness of management speak and 'big ideas', I worry that he'll turn orange next.

    I understand why one politician can admire another who enjoyed such success at the ballot box. But I think that this admiration can go too far. Blair made many mistakes and, in my view, either had no real vision for how to change the country or no desire/bottle to see that vision through.

    Further, this obsession shared by Cameron and his chum Hilton of 'decontaminating' the Tory brand may have served a useful purpose but has probably had its day. Appointing a director of strategy who argued strongly in favour of Euro membership is not what the Conservative Party members want or need. Shaping a party in your own image is a big project for any leader. However, if your own image doesn't truly fit with the identity of that party, perhaps you're in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing...

  • Comment number 70.

    pdavies65

    'Anyway, I'd just like to chip in with the observation that all parties accept the need for tackling the deficit'

    and I'd like to chip in and point out that one party has opposed every single cut proposed by the coalition, and every tax rise, without any credible alternative.

  • Comment number 71.

    62

    We already pay through the nose for local services - and people need protection from wasteful local authorities who give poor value for money. The idea that local people will be queuing up to volunteer to run services that we are already paying for is pure fantasy.

    ---------

    Problem is DT, when you take away the money, they don't cut the waste. They say "oh, well if you take the money, we'll take away the services".

    Very lazy minded thinking from a certain council that has been very much in the news.

    I was very amused recently (perhaps I should have been appalled) when my local council installed lots of new speed bumps on the roads around my house. I checked, very accidents and only very minor ones in the last 3 years. Not only that, a matter of a few weeks later, they recovered the road, and the new surface goes above most of the speed bumps they had only just installed.

    Might not be a big example of wasted money, but its one that tickled me.

  • Comment number 72.

    26 sagamix
    "fubar @ 18

    No I don't wish, I know. Totally discredited. "CULM" has become the sort of phrase which is said with inverted commas; has become an arch joke, in other words, shorn of any political power or resonance."
    ============================================================

    Totally discredited ? Something of an exaggeration here I think.

    It was interesting to hear Ken Clarke at the weekend saying that most people had no simply idea of the scale of the cuts required to address the deficit problem. Apparently the interests payments alone on the national debt are running at more than £100 million a day. That's an awful lot of money just to simply giving away, and that's each and every day at present. Whatever the reasons you may think are behind this level of deficit and debt, it is difficult to discredit anything like this when the true extent of problem is hopelessly misunderstood by the vast majority of people. It simply isn't possible for most people to imagine what a debt of £1 trillion plus actually means - or where all the money has gone, and is still going.

    Not that things are going well for anyone with all this. New Labour's policies pre-election did not really include any details of what they would do post election. Their economic policy was only ever short term to get to the next election, and they had not a clue what to do if they had won it. Even now, with Gordy gone, and Red Ed at the helm, they have a blank sheet of paper, and no real idea as to what to put on it. Ed Balls bluster won't change anything the government does, simply because he's not part of it. He'll soon realise this, and his toxic association with the problem means he'll probably distance himself quietly from all matters economic and concentrate on positioning himself for the next leadership bid.

    Not that David Cameron is doing much better. I'm bemused by this Big Society things, and even more bemused by the allegation it is a cover for cuts. Is a cover actually needed ? The cuts will be there for all to see surely ? I think that Big Society was a big mistake and actually a major contributory factor to their failure to win the last election outright. Thy had years to prepare for the lectionin opposition, and were up against the totally inept and useless government. Then they announced Big Society ! Errrrr .... is that it, I thought. Is this the best they can do ? It fell totally flat, and I doubt that life can be breathed into it no matter who is tasked with presenting it, and how much effort they put into it. What concerns me more about David Cameron, is during PMQs he is just as bad as Gordon Brown for not even attempting to answer the questions. I'm not concerned about what Ed Miliband would do, he's not the PM. This does little to restore any faith in our political system, and until positive steps are taken to get this faith is restored, I doubt it will get any better for David cameron, Ed Miliband or the country in general.


  • Comment number 73.

    Probably this could be one of those stories that just slipped under the carpet or on the other hand it could be a weapon of mass destruction for Ed Balls, The headline in the FT reads;

    "IMF admits wilting under Brown Treasury"

    It goes on to say;
    "In particular, the constant sparring over the public finances between the IMF and Gordon Brown’s Treasury, when Ed Balls, now shadow chancellor, was a key figure, contributed to fund officials being insufficiently robust with the Bank and the FSA."

    The report makes interesting reading....

    https://imf-ieo.org/eval/complete/pdf/01102011/Crisis_BP5_UK_Bilateral_Surveillance.pdf

  • Comment number 74.

    "Where's our equivalent of Tahrir Square? I've got my bedroll ready."

    Hahaha. You wouldnt have lasted 24 hours of what they went through, Steve. First smell of cordite in the air or the swoosh of a baton and you'd have run home to mammy. Get over yourself.

  • Comment number 75.

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

    Read the rest of the article here:
    Already tired of Cameron's BS

  • Comment number 76.

    New politics from the Tories then - oh no its not - increase spin back to New Labour levels.

    Moving on to the Labour mess stats (sourced from hm-treasury.gov.uk, public sector finance database):

    April 1997 net borrowing £37bn
    April 1997 net debt £347bn

    April 2008 net borrowing £35bn
    April 2008 net debt £527bn

    April 1997 public services - total mess
    April 2008 public services - vastly (if not consistently) improved

    OK the last bit is clearly subjective and I'm sure they're will be differing views.

    So as at April 2008 all the parties had broadly the same tax/spending plans (as they had for prior 10 years too) and Labour had increased debt by less than the John Major government (over 2.5 terms versus 1 term).

    What happened next? Big global financial crisis that impacted all developed economies on a massive scale.

    Please can someone explain why April 1997 is some halcyon paradise of economic times compared to April 2008 and then explain which UK political party would have left us better placed as at April 2010.

  • Comment number 77.

    It's not Team Cameron who need steadying. The Lib-Dems need bracing for a wipe-out in May. A good spin doctor wont do the Tories any harm mind you but the key task is for Cameron to hold the coalition together through what are going to be a very difficult few months. This will be a very difficult test for DC.

  • Comment number 78.

    tony #9 Susan-Croft #15

    Wise words Susan,the public sector most certainly does need reforming,and
    we must be told why councillors are costing us such huge amounts.The figures quoted by tony #9 for Essex County Council can only lead us to assume that this is replicated with other/all councils.

    Manchester council has been busily informing us of all the cuts that they
    are having to make,closure of public loos,lollipop patrols,swimming pools
    and libraries etc etc.All the fault of the coalition they tell us,but they obviously found no difficulty in handing out almost £2 million last
    year to 96 councillors in "allowances".

    Equally there was no problem in awarding salary increases in the past 5
    years by over 30% to the CEO and his deputy,now on £232K and £139K.Do the
    good folk of Manchester really benefit from a "Creative Director" whos
    remit is to help Manchester "compete with Bilbao,Barcelona,Lille and San
    Diego"? Are they desperate for a "Zest Hub Co-ordinator"? Or maybe they
    all lobbied for a "Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat Policy and
    Research Officer".

    I rather think that Manchester folk would prefer to keep their libraries
    and public loos open.

  • Comment number 79.

    That, Jobs (50), is on the very edge of being a good point. What's happening?

  • Comment number 80.

    Sagamix 40

    You have changed your tune.

    You know that statement puts you completely at odds with your wonderful Shadow Chancellor, who believes Labour did nothing wrong with the economy during their time in Government.

    All I will say to you is that it was a plain as the nose on your face, that Britain with or without a banking crisis was heading for recession. The imbalance in the economy would have made itself known very quickly over Labours final years in Government. The banking crisis was easy to predict also, with easy credit everywhere and private debt sky high. Brown refused to take note of all the signs, he must have seen, if he had any nous at all.

    I believe the Conservatives did see the problem of Government overspend as did Blair himself in 2005. However Michael Howard had gone to the Election saying the banks had a problem with captial to lending, the Government was spending too much, private debt was too high amongst the public and savings levels were too low. The message was lost on the public, who wanted to continue to spend. Therefore, Cameron changed the message, to try to get elected.

    It is often difficult for an opposition to recognise how deeply in trouble a sitting Government is. Especially considering how secretive Labour were and how much debt was hidden. I doubt if Blair himself knew how bad the problem was.

    In the end though it matters very little what the opposition did or did not do, Labour were in charge of Britains economy. They behaved with total irresponsibility with the economy in order to stay in power. That should never be forgiven, they sold future generations lives down the river for their own political skin.

    Further to that, there were many more problems with social issues and untruths told to the public, which should have put them out of Government long before the recession anyway.


  • Comment number 81.

    53 The_Concept_Of_Mind wrote:

    Spot – on and well said Kenneth @ #23; if only you’d posted before yesterday’s BS Blog debacle

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

    At least you've raised the standard of debate with your insightful list.

  • Comment number 82.

    12. At 10:26am on 15 Feb 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    By the way ....

    WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS NEW POST ?

    Is it paid for by the tory party? Or is it paid for by the taxpayer?

    If - as I suspect - it is the taxpayer, then how much are we paying for the tories back room spin doctor?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rather unfair, this comment!

    NR is reporting something that has happened, that those of us see as a Dave weakness - strategy - is to be fixed. In a way. What is wrong or partisan with that?

    N.Labour is bust and has a weak, directionless leader (and Cabinet) but Nick can't Blog on that every day of the week.

    For Dave and the Conservatives the question is: is the problem a lack of strategic advisors or is it a lack of clear political understanding and strategy in the leader's head? And if the answer is no to the latter part of that question, then is the problem around the cabinet table or in the wider parties in Government?

    In my view the appointment is too late. Dave has nailed himself firmly to The Big Society flagmast. What can an in-house advisor do now?

    And it's possibly bad strategy as well. Bringing someone INSIDE No10 now does all of the wrong things. Better to keep advisors at this stage at arms length. Listen to their advice, keep or discard what the leadership wants, acting on it as it chooses and taking the glory and the flak, if any.

    If Cooper tells Dave he has got TBS all wrong - what can be done? Cameron has an advisor on board - in N0.10 - who is diametrically opposed to the guy in the big chair. He either has to go or will be seen as a focus, a lightning rod if you will, for dissent. If he merely says TBS is wonderful, it's going really well, there are no problems, what has Cooper brought to the party? At best, an opened bottle of flat lemonade and a packet of crisps. And if TBS goes wrong - Dave HAS to do a U-turn. Nothing wrong in that, in my view. A bit more flexibility in politics (and in the media) in the last fifty years and we probably would not be in quite such a mess.

    But I cannot see the media letting Dave get away with abandoning any part of TBS now. It is going to be a nightmare. The jokes will only multiply and get worse. The Conservative part of the Coalition will be bracketed with the Major and Thatcher administrations at their worst.

    And if Mr Cooper is there for his polling abilities, then all he is going to be doing is laying bad news on Dave's desk.

    In the words of Indiana Jones, "I have a very bad feeling about this'!"

  • Comment number 83.

    What Balls said (the Bloomberg speech):

    "There was no significant structural deficit in the public finances until the collapse of tax revenues from the City of London in 2008."

    This is contradicted by all the research of independent commentators (the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for example).

    I think that the sentence I have quoted is unverifiable, and hangs on the meaning of 'significant'. Balls would no doubt argue that the deficit, whatever its level, was insignificant because that is the case he wants to make (and he has decided it without reference to the evidence).

    So the sentence has no meaning (I could argue, for example, that there was no significant loss of life in World War 2, and whatever numbers were presented to me I would always respond that they were insignificant).

    Balls is a deficit-denier. He doesn't understand the past and he should have no role in determining the future.

  • Comment number 84.

    It's not before time that this government came over with a clear message that informs the people and makes clarity more the issue than beating around the bush in case they may upset someone.

    They have to ignore Labout who are in some far off planet pretending they had nothing to do with the present dire situation. I could list streams of mistakes Brown made which gave them an advantage in the short term in time for an election but which in the longer term are creating mayhem. Saving all of the banks at the cost of the taxpayer is only one.

    There is an enormous amount of confusion among the people about who is running the show and if they really do know what they are doing. Those setting interest rates for a start.

    Is it the economy in trouble or what to do about the banks and their inability to deleverage quickly enough?

    Whatever, the message coming over is repetitive and confusing and if not clarified soon will create utter disillusion among the people and we know what happens then.

  • Comment number 85.

    Lars @ 65

    Was just specifically talking about Conservatives chanting CULM; that's dead for the reasons at 40.

    "Deficit deniers", yes, that's still a runner. Quid pro quo for the tories dropping CULM has to be for Labour to NOT oppose every single spending cut - they lose face when doing that. They must accept the need to bring the deficit down and should oppose only those cuts which are (i) in excess of what they would have done, and (ii) look to be ideological and unduly damaging, and (iii) hit the poorest the hardest. And if that's most of them, well so be it.

    Re the matter of "legacies" generally, I agree with you that this is always going to be an integral part of political debate* (although I also agree with the Haye Maker @ 48 that it'd be better if we didn't get quite so hung up on it).

    The Coalition have inherited a difficult economic situation and they're quite right to try and keep this in the public mind. But no more nonsense about CULM, thank you very much - utterly discredited.

    * Thatcher would say she had to CUTM from 70s Labour. Blair/Brown would say they had to CUTM of two decades of tory neglect.
    Etc.

  • Comment number 86.

    greatHayemaker 67

    It actually does matter, to establish whose fault the deficit is. Especially if that party would come to Government again and make the same mistakes. It needs to be uppermost in the publics mind, in order that Britain never makes the same mistakes again.

    It also makes it much more difficult for an incoming Government to make proper cuts, if the public is not aware of what and who, brought Britains economy to this sad state in the first place.

  • Comment number 87.

    70. At 12:50pm on 15 Feb 2011, jobsagoodin wrote:

    pdavies65

    'Anyway, I'd just like to chip in with the observation that all parties accept the need for tackling the deficit'

    and I'd like to chip in and point out that one party has opposed every single cut proposed by the coalition, and every tax rise, without any credible alternative.
    ---------------------------------------------------

    And I'd like to chip in and point out that one party doesnt think there is a deficit at all and that it was nothing to do with them. They werent there, they didnt do it, it started in America...

  • Comment number 88.

    Oops!

    Fiasco of the day ...

    Inflation climbs to 4%

    Meanwhile growth has collapsed - no more than 0% even if you believe the spin about the wrong kind of snow or whatever.

    Never mind, at least rockyrobin thinks they are doing a good job (#16) - ho, ho, ho

  • Comment number 89.

    20. At 10:52am on 15 Feb 2011, johnharris66 wrote:
    I suggest we differentiate three strands of opinion:

    a) Labour left an economy that was in a mess and it is (almost) all Labour's fault
    b) Labour left an economy that was in a mess and it is (almost) all not Labour's fault
    c) Labour left an economy that was not in a mess
    ==============================

    How about option d) ….

    d) Labour left an economy that was in a mess and the tories have made it even worse

    (See #88 above)

  • Comment number 90.

    "Please can someone explain why April 1997 is some halcyon paradise of economic times compared to April 2008 and then explain which UK political party would have left us better placed as at April 2010."

    Why bother? Would you believe anyone if they offered you an explanation?

  • Comment number 91.

    78#

    And now you're hitting on the nub of the problem.

    I know it'll get the knuckle-dragging left foaming at the mouth, knees jerking away like crazy, but... there is a charge to be answered.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1357039/Tory-cuts-Women-children-first.html

    Its a lot easier and gives more political leverage to get rid/renegotiate front line services rather than get rid of the non-jobs empires, especially when you can blame it on an unpopular administration and use their own sticks to beat them with. After all, a good portion of the wider public dont have the level of political sophistication necessary to tell the difference...

    When are the studes and the unions going to start organising marches against the councils and councillors responsible for such profligacy?


    Errrrrrr....... never.

    Because its not about the "cuts." Never has been, never will be. Its about using political leverage to get what you want without having a public mandate for it and scaring the bejesus out of the natives in the process...

  • Comment number 92.

    The problem for the Tory party is that polling shows people who vote Tory really, really like Cameron and the coalition. On the other hand the actual members are very uncomfortable with the Cameroons' liberal conservatism. Like the loony left of the 1970s they can have their agenda in opposition or fume in government when their party pays more attention to the voters than to its members.

  • Comment number 93.

    It's pleasing to see that 'cleaning up newlabour's mess causes such immense irritation to the left.

    It's also illustrative of their impotence in the face of this charge that they simply resort to personal insults. Very Alistair Campbell.

    Newlabour left a mess. It has to be cleared up by someone and they have yet to step up tothe plate with a credible alternative economic strategy other than 'let's go more slowly' .. a real vote winner that one.

    Sadly for the left their tribe reverted to tax and spend type and, as always, ran out of money. This time, in spectacular fashion. The splutterings of opposition to the coalition's (sorry, tory led government) fiscal policies have about as much relevance as would the councillings of an alcoholic to a drunk.

    Four more years to go, four more years of borrow, looks like the labour anthem right now. Where is the great ex leader with a strategy to get us out of this? Or more likely a strategy to gather together all the leaders of the OECD and persuade them never to stop spending, whatever the long term damage done.

    The world has moved on, lefties. Do keep up. The US is recovering, China is putting the brakes on. New times need new policies and new faces not the tired old spend more money mantras of the left.

    The best thing the left could do is stop bleating about the big society and get in touch with their altruistic side and get involved. They might find they enjoyed it.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 94.

    sagamix 79

    'That, Jobs (50), is on the very edge of being a good point. What's happening?'

    Not sure Saga. Unlike one of my points not to be bang on the money.

  • Comment number 95.

    "You have changed your tune." - SC @ 80

    Have I? Or have I just done a re-mix using all the very latest equipment?

    No, Susan, thing is - as I think you know - I've always been at pains to say that the big problem with the "CU Labour's mess" statement arises when it seeks to emerge from the mouth, pen or keyboard of a member (or supporter) of the Conservative Party. It comes out looking all sick when that happens.

    And I'm afraid I'm less than impressed with your boasting that the implosion of the western financial system was "easy to predict". If only.

  • Comment number 96.

    I realise that Fubar-Saunders & rockRobin7 are essentially conservative party propagandists, but if they look at the latest opinion polls which shown Labour ahead, they might pause for a moment to think that the "cleaning up Labour's mess" is no longer working, (a) because the present Government is creating its own mess through dogma & lack of management skills and (b) because it isn't true either. Most of the deficit was caused by reduction in tax revenues arising from the global recession (to which the UK contributed but marginally). If you believe that Osborne & Cameron would have restrained the bankers if they'd been in power in 2006-8, you obviously live on a different planet & they also went along with Government spending plans up to 2007. I realise that you see it as your daily task to contribute to Conservative party spin, but few of the rest of us see the world through your blue-tinted spectacles.
    It must be grim in rockRobin7's nest

  • Comment number 97.

    75. At 12:59pm on 15 Feb 2011, sturdyblog wrote:

    "True, banding together and buying The Ancient Foresters [pub] will not do anything to replace the hundreds of front-line services which are being cut, but perhaps we will all be too drunk to notice."

    ^ Exactly. Cameron's Big Society sounds great - utopian even - but really, it boils down to (mainly rural and wealthy) communities supporting their local Post Office and chipping in to help fund a new roof for the village hall. Oh yeah, and something on TV about a People's Supermarket. Just don't mention support the homeless, for children, for jobless youths, for the mentally ill, etc... it doesn't make for pleasant after dinner conversation in Toryland.

    76. At 1:03pm on 15 Feb 2011, TheGingerF wrote:

    
"So as at April 2008 all the parties had broadly the same tax/spending plans (as they had for prior 10 years too) and Labour had increased debt by less than the John Major government (over 2.5 terms versus 1 term). Please can someone explain why April 1997 is some halcyon paradise of economic times compared to April 2008 and then explain which UK political party would have left us better placed as at April 2010."

    ^ You know it. I know it. The Tories don't want to know it... bashing Labour over the economy is the ONLY crutch they have to prop themselves up with at present. Let's not stoop to their own level of cruelty and kick it away... let them keep on repeating it till they're blue in the face ;-)

  • Comment number 98.

    Dear greatHayemaker (@ #64 …

    Many thanks for your comments; most interesting that you impute motives, political inclination and an Agenda from my scant outpourings; I’d like to respond to each of your points so have reproduced them below …

    Its interesting to note that your political opinion is formed entirely by your personal impression of the men/ women involved.
    TCOM: These are not my political opinions (I am entirely apolitical), simply judgements of character of the over – exposed based upon observations of their presented public persona (PPP) … I think The People are not only entitled to use this (PPP) as the basis of their decision – making, they’re virtually bound to; unless, Cable – like, an apparatchik speaks what passes for his/her mind unfettered by Party Lines, then all we get is the Maudelin repetitive mantra … There is no performance against which we could reasonably be expected to judge …

    Its a shame, I suspect there are a large number of people who exercise their right to vote who are similarly challenged.
    TCOM: Do you mean it’s a shame that the number is so large, or it’s a shame that they so exercise that right ??? … The term ‘challenged’ comes with baggage (for any excess of which you will in the near – future likely have to pay more) …

    For myself, while I find I don't disagree with all of your comments, I like to judge based on performance. And we are still very much in the wait and see space there, aren't we? Clegg aside of course (he has been soundly judged by now I think).
    TCOM: We’ve been ‘seeing’ for ages; most of this crew has been ‘performing’ whilst in opposition/the wilderness (with the exception of Alexander of course, who was in Nursery) …

    Would you care to put together a similar one for the Labour Shadow Cabinet? I suspect if you were honest, you would end up with plenty of "thugs", "bullies", "prospectless", "dishonests". And also no shortage of "priveleged", which you seem to find distasteful (for some reason). But I doubt you are. Honest that is.
    TCOM: I am dismayed that you are so ready to rush to judgement and impugn my integrity; I regard myself as totally honest, if deranged (therefore at least self – aware) … Privilege itself of course is morally neutral (being biologically inevitable); what’s distasteful is the acceptance that it’s necessary for running the Country – but that’s your fault …

    So, to rise to the challenge, step up to the plate, grasp the nettle (Zzzzz), here comes a sampler of the same for the Shadowy Cabinet …

    Balls – Crazed, incoherent, Feldman
    Miliband (E) – Innocent, lacks punch, over - toothy
    Miliband (D) – Wonk, hints of gravitas, disdainful
    Alexander (Do) – Weedy, needy
    Flint – Estate – girl, foxy
    Murphy – Skeletor, other – worldly

    Is that honest enough for you ??? …

  • Comment number 99.

    "Not that things are going well for anyone with all this." - PF Bat @ 72

    I agree with you that the deficit and the debt are frightening. Mustn't panic though; some spending restraint, some tax rises, bit of growth ... reform of the banks ... and things will look better.

    Did I mention reform of the banks? Hope I did because this is key. Your statement above, for example, is true enough but has this glaring exception. Things are going very VERY well for the banks and the bankers within.

    Barclays, for instance. Hot off the press and the larceny goes on. Bonuses down a bit (for PR purposes) but - lo! - salaries have skyrocketed. They've just fiddled it - shifted bonus to salary. Aren't they clever and sophisticated? I tell you, Bat, they're taking the Mick, these guys. A failed, quasi-public-sector industry, freshly bailed out by enormous sums of taxpayer money, they're now paying themselves more than ever. If you have a taste for surreal humour - as I do - it's a killer.

  • Comment number 100.

    Oh look. sagamix has even developed his own acronym to decontaminate 'Clearing up new labour's mess'.. 'CULM'. How very groovy.

    Seeing as Gordon Brown made it a life's work to tell us how his 'investing' was reversing years of tory decline I think you are barking up the wrong tree to imagine this one will go quietly. And you didn't even want it to go quietly. Not so long ago you were proposing a fifty year repayment schedule and issuing personal bonds to apy it off at higher rates than the government was already paying. Sparkling stuff that. Straight out of central casting.

    It's grim up north London...

 

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