June 2010 Archives
In the rush to liken the current Tory administration to the dark days of Margaret Thatcher at every opportunity, Labour didn't take long to liken Iain Duncan-Smith's news plans to a famous speech by Lord Tebbit.
Lord Tebbit's 'on your bike' speech in the early 80s is among the famous speeches regularly dragged out by Labour to demonstrate how mean and evil the old Tories were. And they're right, Lord Tebbit was on a different planet.
But to liken Duncan-Smith's plan - which would involve given people who moved to get a job priority on housing waiting lists - to the attitude of Lord Tebbit is very unfair, and also misses the opportunity to provide real opposition.
Yesterday, I mentioned that one of George Osborne's (many) failings was his inability to read the mood of the public correctly. Had he done so, as the election mastermind for the Tories, they wouldn't now be relying on an increasingly impotent Liberal Democrat party for their right to govern.
But he's not alone in lacking this skill. Over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that many of the trade unions are in danger of writing themselves into the history books simply because they don't understand what the public is thinking.
Of course, the trade unions' top priority has to be to their members, and if they are angry, then so are the members. But if with power comes responsibility, surely it is incumbent on all trade unions to do a better job of advising their members on what the best course of action is.
Regular readers of this blog will know I'm no fan of George Osborne. The illusion that he was some sort of political genius capable of plotting the return of the Tories to Number 10 in a landslide election was shattered in March.
His inability to tap into the public mood cost the Tories dear on election day - it's pretty much the key skill any election strategist needs. His voice, whiny like a spluttering lawnmower, has all the public appeal of a band of vuvuzelas on Remembrance Sunday.
The Tories still don't grasp that, when talking about financial pain, the phrase 'we're all in this together' carries little impact if uttered by someone who is clearly immune to recession thanks to personal family (inherited to married into) fortune.
In hindsight, there was probably one argument which the coalition government could have used to convince the public that David Laws should have been allowed to keep his job.
Forget all the nonsense that he broke allowances rules not for financial gain but to keep his private life private - an easier way for the millionaire Mr Laws to do that would have been to not claim a relatively modest amount of money.
Forget the idea that he's so brainy and bright that the government can't afford to operate without him - that carries no weight either, unless you're happy to assume that brainy people are allowed to be above the rules.
No, the argument they should have given is: We'll appoint Danny Alexander to the job if Laws goes.
There's no doubt that some credit is due to George Osborne for introducing the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Sure, it goes against the principle of reducing the number of government organisations, but removing from politicians the ability to manipulate economic figures was certainly a welcome move.
Sadly, however, the interpretation of the first set of figures from the department leaves a lot to be desired.
I think Tony Blair proved a long time ago that there's little point a politician pretending to be a football fan unless they are REALLY a fan of the beautiful game.
His odd support of Newcastle United stank of prawn sandwich all the way from Downing Street to St James's Park. It simply wasn't sincere. Gordon Brown, on the other hand, was much quieter about his support for Raith Rovers. He'd mention it if asked, but that was it.
So quite why David Cameron - so keen to keep reminding us that he has learnt the lessons of Labour's mistakes - insisted on that dreadful video message to the England team is beyond me.
He supports Aston Villa, apparently, although I suspect it's a long time since he stood in the Holte End on a Saturday afternoon.
MICHAEL GOVE, I think I've said before, has one of those faces which instantly suggests the school bully never tired to punching him. Yet somehow, I don't think David Cameron and George Osborne will have had to take him behind the bike sheds for a wedgie to make him start slashing and burning the education department.
Like most school swats, Gove appears determined to not only do what teacher says, but to go one better as often as possible. So when Cameron talked of a bonfire of the quangos before the election, Gove knew what he had to do to get into Cameron's good books.
The fact that the bonfire of quangos has actually turned out to be more like the occasional throwing of a bit of waste paper on to an open fire in warm sitting room - therefore creating very little heat for the coalition - doesn't seem to have registered with Gove.