Saturday 19 February 2011

Weekly Round-up

This week we saw the coalition falter on almost everything, but were they pushed or did they jump?

Cameron's new spin doctor, Craig Oliver, allegedly suggested the u-turn over forests  I imagine on taking up the job he said something like "What on earth are you thinking man. You might as well announce that all first born puppies will be drowned!" For the sake of a few million quid, it was always a ridiculous battle to fight.

Andrew Lansley turned a little on his chaotic NHS plans. Private firms will now not be allowed to undercut the NHS in a race to the bottom to provide bargain basement care. Might be some time before we see the DIY-Surgery kits after all.

On sickness and disability cuts, there was the wimpiest little mutter about maybe thinking again for a while about stopping mobility payments for adults in residential care. Not exactly a u-turn, but as a friend put it, a "chink of light. Now we can shine it into all those dark corners"

The plan to cut housing benefit by 10% for people on Job Seekers Allowance was dropped - allegedly because the Lib Dems and Mr Clegg argued hotly against it, so well done on a bit of a triumph yellows. The policy would have caused great hardship.

Finally, the government announced a u-turn on scrapping debt counselling. Ker-ching! The penny dropped that now might not be a good time! What with all the unemployment and inflation and cuts and stuff.

**CAUTION** The first rule of negotiating is "Go in High" You never expect to get all your demands, but if you throw in a few curve balls, then drop them as though you are making concessions, you get everything you wanted all along. 

Could it be that our cunning coalition never really intended to sell all our trees anyway? Was the 10% housing benefit reduction idea just a decoy? Is the NHS now safe? Can we take it off the ventilator?

This week, we saw a little bit of movement here and there, but we're not out of the woods yet. (Though the trees are out of the woods apparently - confusing.)

My laugh-of-the-week was reading that the Conservatives in this coalition are "Masters of Spin." I spat tea all over my keyboard in fact. This would be the same Mr Cameron who made airbrushed gaff after shirt-sleeved gaff during the election campaign, steadily eroding a 21 point lead down to a majority-denying 6?

These are the same Conservatives who went ahead with buying aircraft carriers with no aircraft to carry? The same Conservatives who allow Michael Gove anywhere near a TV screen ever? The same Conservatives who think that taking wheelchairs away from the disabled is ever going to play well on Question Time?

We should be careful that we're not just being thrown a few crumb-silencers, but one thing I can be very sure of is this government are most certainly not masters of policy. (Just typing it is making me chuckle.) One might argue that they couldn't in fact organise a sell-off in a forest.


  1. If they are trying to hide something, it'll probably be this,

    The changes in tax to make large businesses and corporations exempt from practically all tax.

  2. Already Blogged Gregory!

  3. But they did listen to people about the forest, they are listening to people about what we think, OK I know they are only doing it because?

    But if this was New labour they would have gone forward with the idea that they are the power not a bunch of socialist.

    so it shows the Tories can and will change, not something Blair would have done, and Brown well he would have just said what a bunch of bigots.

  4. Awww, Robert, how sweetly naive.

  5. Of course MP's don't listen, they never have;

    A little negative publicity genertaion for my MP I just posted. Lets see if I get a bite...

    Meh, blogging on the Torygraph annoys me, I can't log to comment here as me. I'm Madwitch :)

  6. Oh pooh, I can't read it, can you post it here Mad Witch?

  7. It's a little long, as in I mean huge. Is that ok?

  8. Scratch that. I'm blogging here now as well. I think that makes 5 blogs now...

  9. It's very good. Depressing and all too familiar, but very clearly written. I linked it on right of my site under "Interesting Articles"

  10. Thank you - we all need to stick together to make ourselves heard.

  11. The u-turn on the forests, I heard on the telly, was because "the public and" here's the bit I loved: "honourable members weren't happy."
    We all need a few "honourable members" in our camps methinks.
    As for the 10% housing benefit u-turn, I think you are right. It is absolutely horrifying how grateful one can be for a crumb (and also ungrateful - a letter to my local paper I've drafted about housing in general).
    However, at least it's all food for thought..heh heh...

  12. I'm with Sue on the 'go in high and see what you can get away with' type of Conservative strategy.... and it always seems like the small print shows that they are still getting away with most of what they wanted.

    The book charity and Sports for schools are considered by the press as reprieved but in fact funding has been cut and will only be provided for one or two more years.

    The much heralded Forest u-turn hides the cuts to the Forestry commision and the intention to stop the cross-subsidy from the profitable bits going into maintenance and restoring our ancient forests.... and it was convenient that the forests virtually obliterated discussion of Lansley's health and IDS's welfare reforms ... but then are they that clever... ?

    Meanwhile George Osborne beavers away unnoticed in the treasury, increasing the scope of tax havens and cutting taxes to the banks .. estimated loss of revenue to the UK was 18bn/y ... wonder what it will be in the future ?

  13. Syzygy Sue - It still amazes me people have forgotten 97, but to have forgotten how totally incompetent the Tory election campaign was, beggars belief!!

    We were there, at the cutting edge eh Sue? We debated ad infinitum on the "other place" and not even the staunchest Tory (well, perhaps Colin ;) thought they were competent.

    That's what worries me now. They showed clearly that they didn't have a clue about much at all and now they're running the country. Feels a bit like Swallows and Amazons.