“New” government – old ways

A constrained PM had to keep many of the old faces. I doubt if we will see an invigorated government suddenly putting right the wrongs of past years, suddenly gripping the agenda and pointing the country in a new direction.

The new Home Secretary could cancel the ID computer, saving us loads of money. He could tell us he will dismantle the worst features of the surveillance society, removing cameras, prying powers and meddlesome rules. To protect us he could instead put in proper border controls. Don’t hold your breath.

The not so new Chancellor could tell us when and how he is going to get out of quantitative easing, and when he will normalise interest rates and give savers a better deal. He could start to control costs and spending properly.

The new Communities Secretary could save us the money and hassle of unelected regional government by abolishing it. He could devolve some power to people and Councils away from the centre.

The new Europe Minister along with the old Foreign Secretary could hold the promised referendum on Lisbon, and try and explain to us why they have given so much of our power and money away – even better they could start to get some of it back, as a contribution to cutting the costs of the public sector and curbing the powers of big government.

The trouble is, the idea that this is a new government is just spin. It will be more of the same. Tacky sound bites, family squabbles, more wasted money and ever more power to the centre.

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30 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The most pathetic thing is the Labour view of the “Tories”. “Tory cuts” is all they seem to be able to say. Labour deserve to stay in power to keep the “Tories” and the BNP out. The workers’ party seem stuck in some kind of time warp about a hundred years old where the “Tories” stopped the noble dockers earning their “tanner”.
    The other terrible thing was that back bench Labour MP on Newsnight who gradually turned from a rather buxom and smiling Mummy into a Vampire as she described Caroline Flint’s tantrum when she didn’t get her own way in the Cabinet.
    Meanwhile, as you rightly point out, Rome burns.

  2. Kevin Lohse
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Careful John, a desperate Labour spinmeister could accuse you of making Tory policy on the hoof – especially the referendum bit.
    Expect a Brownite jeer point at PMQ’s next week.

    • Kevin Lohse
      Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      You are, as usual. completely correct in your summation.

  3. Dungeekin
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The shocking results, an appalling reshuffle and that excruciating speech… enough is enough.

    The post-election map of the UK should tell this PM all he needs to know.

    He needs to reflect, and realise he’s not wanted.

    Dungeekin

  4. Blank Xavier
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    It could not be a ‘new’ Government with Brown still as PM.

  5. Simon D
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    The most spine-chilling moment for me was during the Downing Street Press conference. Brown launched into a tirade about “the Tories”. First he said that the Tories would cut public spending: but this would not be the policy of his government. Public spending would be safe on his watch. Secondly he said that Tory cuts would lead to teachers, doctors, nurses and other public sector workers being out of work.

    So now we have the answer – no public expenditure cuts. How, then, do we get out of the economic mess? Higher taxes, more printed money, bigger borrowings? What is the plan and where is the grown up public debate about it?

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Coin our own money instead of Borrowing it, if the Govt must insist that Borrowing our money is better than coining it ourselves, can someone pursuade the govt to borrow it from me, I wil under cut the Bank of England by 100%.
      No 500%

  6. Brigham
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    We have a PM that was voted for by a few Scots. Now we have a top minister that has twice been disgraced and is not even in the Commons. Perhaps Brown has an extraterrestrial up his sleeve when he hands over the reins.

  7. Mr D Williams
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Might the greater concern be that your headline won’t be used regarding Mr Cameron’s goverment in 12 months’ time?

    Regards

    • jean baker
      Posted June 7, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Hopefully yes – the reinstatement of a Conservative government which supports democracy and it’s principles is the message behind the election results. Few sectors of society have not been affected by the bullying, spying, spinning regime ‘ruling’ those who pay their salaries.

  8. Acorn
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    JR, is it possible for us to have a Prime Minister who is in the House of Lords? This question is not as silly as it may sounds.

    It arose yesterday during conversation with an historian friend. We were discussing Mandelson’s new role as “First Secretary of State”. As you say above, Deputy Prime Minister. My friend says, using the words “prime” and “minister” in his title would have constitutional experts reaching for their pens.

    Apparently it is all the Tories fault anyway; you failed to repeal the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

    The following makes interesting reading on how we have got where we are today. It is the only link where I found “Treasury Bench”; Standing Order 66 and “Peers as Prime Ministers” in the same article.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_the_United_Kingdom

    Reply: Yes, you could have a Lord as PM if the majority party in the Commons voted for one. It is very unlikely,as Ps prefer one of their own as Leader.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It all adds to the public perception of politicians as lying, self-serving manipulators. I hope that David Cameron, who should not be constrained by his own weakness as was Brown, will soon purge from the shadow cabinet those who flagrantly abused the expenses system and those who clearly do not have the necessary ministerial capability.

    • jean baker
      Posted June 7, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      The Fees Office is wholly accountable for the authorization of valid expenses. Odd that those 100% responsible are not being held accountable by Brown amid the media hype, spin and manipulation.

      Blair & Brown have shown themselves to be untruthful manipulators; Joe Public is intelligent enough to form his own opinion regarding Nulabor’s ‘expense system’ under which one of it’s ministers (reportedly) sanctioned financial impropriety.

  10. A. Sedgwick
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Good stuff – one of the many deficiencies in government are shuffles. In the real world successful people are in a job for years. The average cabinet minister lasts 22 months – ridiculous. As it should be with an elected prime minister, cabinet ministers should be picked for their expertise(don’t all laugh) and barring unforeseen circs. for a fixed term. The odd vacancy should be filled by the deputy or a fresh face. The date of the general election will now be determined by how bad state debt is, either next October or March to hide away from an Autumn statement or Budget. Whoever is in the Cabinet it is a lame duck, fag end Parliament and one or two of the resignations clearly recognise this.

  11. oldrightie
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    “He could devolve some power to people and Councils away from the centre.”
    Not if they aren’t Labour, which most of them are not!

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      This just fulfils the EU Regionalisation plan for Great Britain

  12. guy de Moubray
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Wasn’t Peter Hain terrible on Newsnight last night. He said the Conservatives would make savage cuts in spending on services and “increase debt”. How he thought they could do both at the same time, I don’t know

  13. james barr
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Is it a wonder so many are turned off by politics?

    We read in the press that Brown is going to fire Darling and appoint Balls. We know this to be true but when Darling stays in his seat the PM lies through his teeth that there has never been a better Chancellor.

    The eve of the local election tsunami Caroline Flint takes to the airwaves with a slightly demonic speech praising the virtues of the PM. The next day she stilettoes him royally between the shoulder blades.

    Fraser Nelson asks a fundamental question about the PM’s plans to cut public spending after 2010 as reported by the IFS. Brown replies with the usual tirade about Tory spending cuts. We know his answer to be untrue.

    Surely the time has come for the press to be upfront and name their sources? Our elected representatives behave like children in the playground and expect us to respect them. It’s a farce.

    The number one issue in the UK, and indeed throughout the world, is to control how governments spend our money. The waste of taxpayer’s money is mind boggling. Is anyone ever held to account? Of course not.

    The socialists confuse spending and investment. This happens everywhere. I live in Spain and witness the same phenomenon of largesse with our taxes. I previously witnessed the same spectacle in France. And let’s not talk about Italy and Greece.

    The time has come for the people to take back control of our money. The Tories appear to be the only party expressing an interest in addressing this. Socialists, and I include Obama in this category, want to flood the world with money. We are rapidly heading towards a completely ‘virtual’ economy where money is produced like a rabbit from the magician’s hat. This is madness and can only end in tears. As ever, the tears will be both physical and monetary as yet more people lose their livelihoods, businesses close and taxes head ever upwards.

    The New Labour utopia of wealth for all was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The sunny uplands of Mr Blair’s Britain are shown to be devoid of milk and the honey bees are on strike.

    John, I have always found it sad that you are considered to be radical and therefore dangerous. What is radical about proposing politics based on sound finances?

    What the socialists have never understood is that a country functions at its optimum when individuals are left to pursue their own ambitions. Socialists abhor individual choice. They want to control every aspect of our lives.

    The role of government is to protect us and provide the essential services of health, transport and education. A government should be the conductor of the orchestra. We need less not more government.

    We live in a world dominated by ‘government’. This army of lobbyists, consultants, councillors, special advisors, elected and non-elected representatives have one thing in common. They are paid for by the taxpayer.

    This morning we have the spectacle of Glenys Kinnock being appointed Minister for Europe. Can someone please explain what Mrs Kinnock and her husband have contributed to the UK? European taxpayer’s have contributed hugely to the bank accounts of the Kinnock family. What do we have in return?

    I recall Mr Kinnock was the corruption czar in Europe. Has corruption diminished? Of course not. The Danish accountant appointed to overhaul Europe’s finances was booted out when she got too close to the truth. The elected/unelected elite don’t want the tax paying proles to discover the reality of the ‘European Project’.

    The time has arrived for the electorate to wake up and take back ‘their’ democracy. David Cameron gives signals of recognizing this shift in the public mood. Let’s hope his policies match his evolving rhetoric of ‘thrift’.

  14. Freddy
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I came across an article saying that Darling’s last budget actually has a lot of cuts hidden away inside it (post-election, naturally). See :

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3560461/significant-cuts-are-hidden-away-in-the-budget.thtml

    Have you already commented on this anywhere ?

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I think that quantitative easing will stop when the MPC can no longer plausibly justify it as a necessary measure to prevent our descent into a deflationary spiral.

    That could be as early as their next Quarterly Inflation Report in August, or it might not be until November or even later.

    The question then will be whether the economy is showing sufficient signs of recovery to reassure gilts investors that the government isn’t about to go bust, and so they can assume that eventually there will be enough tax revenues to pay them back, but at the same time there isn’t going to be an inflationary spiral which will devalue their investments.

    If they were willing to carry on buying new issues of gilts even though the Bank of England had stopped buying up existing gilts, mopping up the surplus supply from the market, then immediate catastrophe could be averted.

    Otherwise, we could end up like Latvia:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/5438615/Latvian-debt-crisis-shakes-Eastern-Europe.html

    “Latvia has become the first EU country to face a sovereign debt crisis after failing to sell a single bill at a treasury auction worth $100m (£61m), prompting fears of a fresh storm in Eastern Europe as capital flight tests currency pegs.”

    “The finance ministry expects GDP to contract 18pc this year. House prices have fallen 50pc, the world’s most spectacular crash. A third of the country’s teachers are being fired and public salaries will be slashed by up to 35pc to meet bail-out terms imposed by the IMF and the European Commission. The policy risks a deflation spiral that defeats its own purpose.”

    Incidentally, this week on the money-go-round the Bank of England has used another £6.50 billion of newly created money to buy up existing gilts, bringing the total so far to £77 billion, while the Treasury’s Debt Management Office has flogged £6.05 billion of new gilts so that we don’t have sack a third of our teachers.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Newly created ? you mean it just printed it ?
      we could have done that free, just print the money instead of the Gilts.
      No loan to pay back.
      Not quite as good as having sound money based on real wealth like precious metals but much better than borrowing worthless bits of paper at face value and at interest.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 7, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        At one time the Bank might literally have printed more banknotes, and it remains the simplest way to think about it.

        As the Bank is publicly owned, all its profits can be claimed by the Treasury – but, likewise, the Treasury has indemnified the Bank for any losses arising from its quantitative easing operations, see this January 29th letter from Darling to King:

        http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/ck_letter_boe290109.pdf

        I have read an estimate that so far the Bank’s losses on its gilts purchases are around £1.6 billion, based on what it paid and current market prices.

        As far as interest due on the Bank’s gilts holdings is concerned, in principle the Treasury could pay it, but then recover it from the Bank as part of its profits; so the question is whether the Treasury will have to pay more or less interest to private investors as a result of quantitative easing – the objective being that it should pay less.

        Apparently the Bank can’t buy gilts direct from the Treasury because of the Maastricht Treaty, and nor can it simply credit more money to the government’s account – hence the newly created money is being laundered through the gilts market, with the Bank buying and the Treasury selling.

        Article 101 TEC on page 83 here:

        http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:321E:0001:0331:EN:pdf

        “Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the ECB or with the central banks of the Member States (hereinafter referred to as ‘national central banks’) in favour of Community institutions or bodies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the ECB or national central banks of debt instruments.”

        Although we have an “opt-out” from joining the euro, the relevant protocol, Protocol 25 starting on page 299 above, doesn’t exempt the UK from Article 101.

      • Acorn
        Posted June 7, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        You could make the process even cheaper. Don’t bother printing money, just use pebbles off the beach. Every time you need more money, take your bucket down to the beach.

        Naturally, the “value” (purchasing power) of pebble currency would rapidly drop like a stone. Particularly as you have not left an IOU (Guilt) on the beach to say you will bring them back.

        See the problem? Unfortunately every BoE liability has to be balanced by an asset; ask Zimbabwe.

        Gold holds its value because everyone who holds it knows that out of the 140,000 tonnes of it, there will only be another 2,000 tonnes of it this time next year. Digging it up won’t be cheap either.

        • Adrian Peirson
          Posted June 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          I’m well aware you can’t just Print wealth at will, that it must be regulated, pebbles or blades of Grass would be useless as the Vendor would simply say, that’s no use to me, I can get those off the street.

          So there must be some scarcity value, like in Gold or Silver.but if we had Printed, at the same time, EXACTLY the same amount of money as we had borrowed ( through the Issuance of Gilts ) from the Bank of England ( which just prints the stuff out of thin air, when we hand them the Gilts )
          Over the past 50 yrs.

          What would our National Debt be.

          I think it would be ZERO.

  16. Jim Pearson
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, but hope that the PLP on monday night agree to hold a secret ballot. We might get rid of the prime minister, who is I think the root cause of the country’s woes. Plus it might also get us the general election the majority of people want. But I am not holding my breath, the prime minister is a stubborn man.

  17. John
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Your blog is better, and without spin, than anything in the media! Continue the good work.

  18. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    The Guardian reported today.

    “In the St Ives ward of Cambridgeshire county council, Labour came sixth behind two Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats and Lord Toby Jug of the Official Monster Raving Loony party.”

    Not bad after 12 years.

  19. Paul
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Last week on the apprentice.

    Sir Alan Sugar ” This is the biggest cock up I’ve ever seen, failure to control costs is the worst thing you can do in business”

    Gordon Mental Brown In reshuffle speech yesterday. ” The conservatives want to control spending, you can’t cut your way out of recession”

    So more joined up government there then.
    As the song goes There may be trouble ahead…..

  20. Gavin
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Johnny Norfolk

    This is funny but has to be balanced by the Mayorial result in Hartlepool in which the Conservative Party came 7th behind 3 independents, Labour, UKIP and BNP.

    Mr Redwood
    How much public money would a referendum on the Lisbon treaty (already rejected by the Dutch, Irish and French) cost. However desirable a referendum might be, in these troubled times it is an expense the taxpayer does not need to pay for.

  21. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    A reshuffle makes no difference, the Bilderbergers will still dictate to the PMand he in turn dictates to his minions, so what has changed, NOTHING

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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