How radical should this government be?

The departure of Steve Hilton as the PM’s Blue skies adviser will co-incide with the end of the first two years of the Coaltion government. The Sunday newspapers were speculating on whether this marks the end of the radical reform phase of the administration.

The government always designed its period in office in two stages. In the first stage, they planned to put through substantial legislation to reform education, health and welfare. They conducted a wide ranging Strategic defence review. They set out a five year trajectory for public spending and taxes. They put their main tax increases into the first period, increasing VAT, living with most of the Labour increases in fuel duty, NI and Income Tax, and imposing higher CGT. They enacted their localism measures, changed planning offering more elected Mayors and police commissioners. They put in place the Green Deal, and started to rebuild the UK’s diplomatic links with the emerging world.

In the second stage they planned to manage the results of all these changes, tweaking the main welfare, local government, health and educational reforms, and adjusting the economic strategy at the margins. They probably hoped that one of the windfalls like the sale of RBS might come in and permit some modest tax cuts later.

It was never going to work out quite like that. The spending squeeze was always scheduled to get tougher in the second half. The first two years see £55.8 billion a year of increases. The last three years see just £37.9 billion a year of further cash increases by 2015 compared to 2012. That was always going to make the politics of the second half more difficult. The welfare reforms will come to a crescendo near the next election, as it takes most of the current Parliament to prepare the computer prgrammes and proceed with a working new system for benefit delivery. They will need to be well tested and well based for them to be well received in a more febrile pre election atmosphere. The Health reforms will take some time to bed down. The deficit reduction programme has so far fallen prey to slower growth leading to higher borrowing. This in turn leads people to demand a better series of measures to promote economic growth.

More importantly, a government has to manage what comes along. It cannot always set out a strategy and stick to it. The Coalition hoped that it could place Europe on the back burner. The two main parties have very different viewpoints on the topic. The Conservatives at the very least want powers back and do not wish to travel with the other EU members in the direction of EU integration and political union, whilst the Lib dems have always been a federalist party. Throughout the last two years the EU issues have kept bouncing onto TV and onto the political agenda, thanks to the Euro crisis and the continental EU wish to integrate more. Many Ministers are discovering that they cannot do what they wish to do in the UK, owing to the stranglehold EU law, the ECJ and the ECHR now has in so many areas. The frustrations the EU are causing are tipping more Conservatives into considering pulling out altogether.

The departure of Steve Hilton should not be taken by the government as a watershed, allowing them the luxury of no more serious reform. The economy is crying out for less regulation, for lower taxes on enterprise, for more working banks, for more realistic energy bills, for more competition in several areas. Ultimately the government will be judged by whether it has turned the economy round or not. It is requires more reform to bring about that task.


  1. lifelogic
    March 5, 2012

    You say “The economy is crying out for less regulation, for lower taxes on enterprise, for more working banks, for more realistic energy bills, for more competition in several areas.”

    Indeed, this should have been done two years ago. It is almost too late now already, given we have only three years left until the election. The Tories would have won the election had they put a proper Tory agenda to the country instead of lefty, pro EU, PR, green wash.

    From here we need very rapidly to cut redundancy pay offs and cut the state sector hugely. Many do nothing of any use anyway and many others cause positive harm. Reductions in taxes and regulation of industry and changes in bank regulations and structures to stop them (RBS group in particular) from pulling working capital back from sound business – as they are still doing all over the place.

    1. Disaffected
      March 5, 2012

      Well said. The socialist Coalition have continued where Labour left off. Same policies different front men.

      John, you pointed out previously on many occasions how the socialist Coalition has continued with borrow and spend because they do not have the courage to cut welfare and other forms of spending. You cited the Red Book on many occasions to make your point.

      There has not been any change on the borrow and spend budget- worse than Labour.
      More taxer rises not cuts as there should be- Worse than Labour.
      Raiding pensions and savings worse than Gordon Brown.
      More bashing of capitalism and CEOs- worse than Labour.
      Universities about to be dumbed down like Education, education, education of Labour. More increases in tuition fees- worse than Labour.
      More EU not less. Cameron fought to prevent the public having a referendum in October last year, even though the Lib Dems claimed they would give a better referendum than the Tories.
      Mass immigration continues- worse than Labour.
      Soft on Crime Clarke lets out more offenders- worse than Labour.
      Clean up politics- Westminster is still in a very poor state and no one has the honour to resign no matter what they they done and only exceptional cases get referred to the police. Still waiting Mr Clegg for you to shut the gates of Westminster or least clean up your party.

      John, quite frankly there is not any change from Labour. The situation is worse after two years of government. I am surprised with todays blog and the one about the EU veto that never was. Perhaps you have strayed from the facts to be controversial to stimulate debate.

      1. zorro
        March 5, 2012

        The present government has already judged itself……

        ‘The last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed…’ (George Osborne on QE in 2009)

        ‘Sometime soon it will have to stop because in the end printing money leads to inflation….’ (David Cameron on QE in 2009)…We’ll see when David decides to stop….


    2. Bazman
      March 5, 2012

      Less than 10k redundancy for someone on £400 pw with thirty years of service to an employer is to much? You need to say why instead of constantly putting this no redundancy argument forward.

      1. lifelogic
        March 6, 2012

        Because the company no longer needs them and will be more efficient, profitable and competitive without them. If they are any good they can get another job, so suffer no real loss anyway. Employers needs change and they need to be able to change their workforces. Not adopt them for life as laws now dictate.

        1. Bazman
          March 6, 2012

          Silly fantasy. Often they are not changing their workforce, but reducing it. Contracts have been signed and must be made good. The workers are not self employed and if they where this would be reflected in their rates of pay. Your basic problem is that like many employers you seem to be of the belief you do not and should not have to pay for work. You think that jsut chucking someone few quid now and then is enough. Of course people like myself just drive off without saying a word, but many are poor and vulnerable so need the laws of the land to prevent exploitation of their low status. They are in a position to be exploited much more than employers. Ram it.

  2. Mike Stallard
    March 5, 2012

    It is terribly easy to underestimate Mr Cameron and several people on this blog do so regularly.
    He is, we must surely agree, outstanding in a crisis. He is loyal to his ministers. I am proud when I see him represent our country because he does it in such a civilized way.
    On the other hand, the record so far is pretty unimpressive compared to what was promised. We are even getting deeper and deeper into debt.

    1. Robert K
      March 5, 2012

      I don’t underestimate Mr Cameron, I just disagree with him. He highly educated and highly intelligent, but he believes that the state is the answer to many ills. For all his talk about the Big Society, I have seen little in government that demonstrates a commitment to a small state.

      1. Disaffected
        March 5, 2012

        A good expensive education does not necessarily equate to high intelligence.

      2. lifelogic
        March 5, 2012

        What people want is what will actually work namely a smaller state sector.

        His approach is all polished PR, green wash and pretending to be all things to all men and assuming that yet more state sector is the solution to everything. He behaves as if he is managing the state sector for the benefit of the employees. He need to start leading in the interest of the vast majority of voters who do not work for the state and who are sick of and being crushed by their huge costs and general incompetence all round.

        1. APL
          March 5, 2012

          lifelogic: “His approach is all polished PR, green wash and pretending to be all things to all men ”

          In short Blair MK II

          Just as it was finally dawning on an increasing number of people the terrible mistake supporting Blair MK I, we get lumbered with the ‘new improved’ version.

          1. lifelogic
            March 6, 2012

            He is better than Blair, slightly, but he still lacks working a compass so will end up falling of a cliff like Major.

    2. A.Sedgwick
      March 5, 2012

      “Cameron has been precisely what I thought he would be-utterly useless. Spin and PR may win an election, but cannot deliver results; substance is required for that and Cameron has none.” – MickC sums it up for me.

      He stitched up the real Conservative Party, reneged on Lisbon, went into a coalition without a mandate to do so and then locked himself and Clegg into five years of Government – how’s that for starters.

    3. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      Cameron is a good presenter debater (and leader in many ways) but he has a defective compass. A good presenter and leader with a defective compass will still take you over the cliff edge perhaps even more effectively than a bad one, such as John Major.

      In some ways, as he clearly has a defective compass, it might perhaps have been better if he had been a poor presenter and leader. He after all lost the last, sitting duck, election by putting a caring sharing, ever large state, soft left, pro EU, green wash agenda to the country. The country was crying out for the reverse.

      Also due to his inexplicable decision give Clegg equal TV billing in the debates.

      Will someone please give him a compass and start cutting the state, regulations and taxation and sort out the bank lending quickly. Very little time left now to get any real growth going.

      1. rose
        March 5, 2012

        I can”t agree with you, Lifelogic, over this: the last three conservative leaders were all defeated at the ballot box – mainly by the media brainwashing the electorate, but also by great numbers of the public being corrupted by the Big State. The very fact that the media managed to convince people they didn’t know what the Big Society meant, when it was so obviously the opposite to the Big State, tells you what a hopeless task it was to try and wean them off voting for the latter.

        Then there was the mass importation of people deemed likely to vote Labour. Michael Howard offered to stop that process and the electorate took fright – prompted by the media.

        How can you blame Cameron and Osborne for studying the problem over many years, sticking with their party through repeated electoral failure, and trying to get into office another way? There just weren’t enough people like you to give them an outright majority, just as there aren’t enough people like me to return a government that will get rid of noise and pollution.

        It would have been another Howard-like throw of the dice to say to the electorate: vote for us and we’ll get rid of mass immigration, crime, inflated public bureaucracies, public debt, bad schools and hospitals, political correctness, and all the rest of it. That is because there is such a huge vested interest now in so many, and in some cases all, of those things. Of course it would have been nice to have got an overall majority and then faced internal opposition just from wet conservatives instead of wet liberals as well. But the danger remains: the Liberals can go off and form what they would obviously prefer – a lib/lab coalition propped up by the Celtic Big Statists and Miss Lucas at any time. As one of them said: they are tribal and utterly ruthless – and they will collude eventually. Don’t rely on the electorate to get us out of this. We can throw out the government but we are still stuck with them – and the broadcasters. Perhaps you should go on to Mumsnet and cast your pearls there.

        1. uanime5
          March 5, 2012

          If Cameron and Osborne has been studying the problems for years they obviously didn’t do a good job of it as they keep having to make u-turns when their policies meet with objections. They need to start making policies that the people will approve of.

        2. Bazman
          March 5, 2012

          Everyone is brainwashed apart from you? The electorate understand only to well. This is the problem for the Tories.

          1. rose
            March 6, 2012

            I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you don’t think for yourself, Bazman. But a lot of people, probably the majority, unlike you, are apolitical. They are bored by subjects like the EU and switch off if it is raised. They are susceptible to a public service broadcaster, and always were.

        3. lifelogic
          March 5, 2012

          As I see it John Major lost the three elections against Blair because, through the ERM fiasco, he buried the parties reputation for economic competence. He failed even to apologise and admit his mistake. The opposition could always point to 15% interest rates and black Wednesday, also under Blair it did not seem too bad economically – until it collapsed under Brown.

          There is a very good and a highly moral case to be made for a smaller state, less EU and lower taxes and it is very popular. Just look at the polling when Osbourne promised £M before paying IHT (where did that go?) when Brown bottled it. I thought Brown would live to regret it at the time.

          1. rose
            March 6, 2012

            Yes, Lifelogic, John Major and his mentor Chris Patten must take responsibility for caving into the pressures of our media led democracy. We watched in despair as they bought that election of 1992 – and paid for it later. CP’s seat was the first to go. The banker in JM misjudged the ERM as a simple mechanism to curb inflation, but his real achilles heel was wanting to be loved. Mrs T didn’t suffer from that disorder, and that is what DC chiefly needs to remember.

          2. Disaffected
            March 6, 2012

            You might recall the biggest failure- no one trusted them because of all the personal scandals. Rose has got it completely wrong. Even first line immigrants do not want more immigration. And as for the rest of the material she mentions, she might have noticed that Cameron is promoting it not getting rid of it.

          3. rose
            March 6, 2012

            Top drawer adultery didn’t start in the 1990s. The personal scandals or “sleaze” – a word which used to mean something rather different – were orchestrated deliberately by (named people). If you can’t win the arguments, then throw mud instead. It usually works.

          4. rose
            March 6, 2012

            I agree immigrants are just as frightened of instability and overcrowding as the rest of us, but the fact remains, people had the chance to return Michael Howard when he promised to stop it, and they didn’t. The same argument goes for the EU, as Mr R is always pointing out. It does seem strange that these two topics should be so far down people’s list of priorities when they go into the ballot box that we still haven’t got a majority government in to deal with them, but there it is. No good blaming DC.

          5. rose
            March 6, 2012

            And because people have still not returned a Conservative majority government, the first two lords of the Treasury are in hoc to the third, who, together with his friends, is capable of reneging on their undertakings any time they wish. This needs to be faced up to by DC’s armchair critics. How would they manage the situation? It has to be done through diplomacy, and that is a difficult game. Always was.

        4. Cynfeeaarr
          March 5, 2012

          Excellent post Rose,I couldn’t have said it better myself.

        5. stred
          March 6, 2012

          If the majority has too big a stake in the Big State, we may as well give up and stop arguing. Perhaps a few pints of strong ale is the answer. Wait a minute- Dave is about to price that little avenue of relief out of reach too.

          1. lifelogic
            March 6, 2012

            Perhaps just stop working and brew your own usually far better than bought beer anyway. Then barter it perhaps.

        6. Disaffected
          March 6, 2012

          Utter rubbish. Cameron/Osborne had an open goal and they kicked it right over the cross bar. I hope they enjoy the back benches of opposition in 2015.

          1. lifelogic
            March 8, 2012

            It is hard to think of an easier person to beat than Gordon (some bigoted woman) Brown was at the last election.

      2. Robert Christopher
        March 5, 2012

        lifelogic, (logic?)
        “Cameron is a good presenter debater (and leader in many ways) but he has a defective compass.”

        A leader with a defective compass is not a leader!

        1. lifelogic
          March 5, 2012

          Indeed a good leader (in the other leadership sense) just imagine how good a leader he could be with a good compass. He would then only have to defend a sensible line rather than as now the indefensible big state, pro EU, green tosh.

        2. lifelogic
          March 5, 2012

          OK perhaps a good pilot but lacking a navigator.

    4. Timaction
      March 5, 2012

      So here in the real world what has happened since the Coalition has come into office? A useless AV referendum but no IN/Out EU referendum. EU contributions up (£10 billion net and rising). More powers ceded, no repatriation of powers. No reform of the CAP or CFP. EU arrest warrants and USA extradition treaty unreformed. So pensioners can be extadited to the USA without evidence whilst the EU Human Rights Court overrules the UK’s Supreme Court and we are not allowed to deport a terrorist! So who’s really in charge here? No reduction in EU created bureaucracy, in fact we’re getting more with having to give leave back to those who are sick! EU bailout monies up with more promised through the IMF. Foreign Aid up, especially to nucleur powers who don’t want it and choose to spend their monies on a vast military. Immigration up and no effective reform in the near future. 593,000 immigrants to the year ending June 2011 with over 750,000 given permanent leave to remain last year alone. Public spending up. Income tax and indirect taxes up…………………… It would be good if we could have just some effective Conservative policies.

      1. lifelogic
        March 5, 2012

        I cannot disagree with any of that list.

    5. Disaffected
      March 5, 2012

      What crisis was he outstanding?

      He had to be forced from his holiday by the press to take control over the riots last summer.

      I do remember he poked his nose in a Middle East civil war that had nothing to do with Britain and went beyond the UN resolution for regime change so that Russia and China do not trust the West over Syria.

      In relation to loyalty. He sacked a Tory peer for being, what he thought, was outspoken, but did nothing when Lib Dem ministers briefed against fellow ministers or talked inappropriately about the cabinet to a NoW sting. Is this what you mean by loyalty? How about the loyalty not honouring what he told the public to get elected?

    6. zorro
      March 5, 2012

      If you look at him in comparison to Brown, it’s difficult to look worse, but you are right with regards to the economy. More debt, more QE, more of the same….Under Brown, Lin Homer was in charge of UKBA, under Cameron, she is now in charge of HMRC! Plus ca change….I still can’t believe it.


  3. norman
    March 5, 2012

    So, so far a complete disaster, apart from Education where Gove has played his hand firmly and well.

    Health reforms – you’re going to get all the bad press and ill feeling but the next election will be far too soon to see any positive outcomes, if there are going to be any which the BBC et al will delight in telling us all there won’t be.

    Fiscal policy – far from getting rid of the deficit the deficit is still going to be here, taxes are higher than ever (and they were already sky high), debt is now completely unmanageable and government relies on the printing press (theft from the citizenry) for funding.

    Welfare – anyone who thinks the computer system required will be in place and working smoothly before the next election should be drug tested. Best case scenario is that it isn’t, cause with all the inevitable problems and bad headlines there will be that’s another battle Conservatives can’t afford to give away, as they have health.

    Europe – same old Tories (the press will say), split over Europe and bickering amongst themselves to placate a handful of …… right wing fruitcakes banging on about Europe all the time

    1. A Different Simon
      March 5, 2012

      “Welfare – anyone who thinks the computer system required will be in place and working smoothly before the next election should be drug tested. ”

      Let’s see :-
      – analyse , document and communicate the policy/business requirements (I.D.S. and Frank Field) + several iterations of review process
      – identify the facts to be represented , properly define database tables for them
      – design applications , write specs and test-plans
      – write applications for capture and output of data
      – web interface on gov gateway
      – integrate said system with tax system and other systems
      – functional testing , performance testing , stress testing
      – implementation plan
      – contingency plan
      – backup and recovery plans

      I suspect , conservatively , the requirements analysis phase took the first two full years of the coalitions time in office .

      If this is the case then if they insist on implementing before the next election they are likely to implement a disaster i.m.p.o.

      1. A Different Simon
        March 5, 2012

        Coming to think of it I don’t even know whether it will be a new system or enhancements to an existing system , what downtime will be allowable for the changeover , whether data will need to be migrated .

        Add user acceptance and education .. the list just gets longer .

        Reminds me of the old joke about the I.T. director who was going to rush the development so there was more time left at the end for testing .

    2. uanime5
      March 5, 2012

      You forgot unemployment.

      Unemployments – constantly increasing since taking office. The Government’s policies have been for the unemployed to work for free in jobs that used to be performed by paid employees and the Work Programme which is an expensive way of hiding the number of people unemployed.

  4. Steve Cox
    March 5, 2012

    I think they should be as radical as the Icelandic government is being at the moment by trying the Prime Minister who presided over the collapse of the banking system, economy and currency on a charge of negligence.

    Gordon Brown was just ( as subject to charges of -ed) criminal negligence both during his time as Prime Minister and in sowing the seeds of the crisis in Britain during his long period as Chancellor, running deficit at the peak of the cycle. Personally I’d put Mervyn King on trial with him as he is almost as much to blame for our present misfortune.

    Is that radical enough? 😉

    1. Alan
      March 5, 2012

      I think we should restrict accusations of criminality to real crimes, not use them to attack political decisions that turned out to be wrong.

    2. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      I tend to agree that the bank supervision was hugely negligent and probably criminally so.

      The whole accounting rules & systems and audits that allowed RBS and other banks to get rights issues away and/or present accounts to the public, which clearly did not give “quite” the full picture, needs to be addressed too. It has not been.

      Mind you this government seems to approve of local authorities valuing trees as assets (in Torbay I think it was) so what hope it there? One wonders what they would fetch (in fact cost) in a liquidation.

      1. zorro
        March 5, 2012

        With regards to the bank auditing/supervision system perhaps the following is appropriate – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


        1. Alan
          March 6, 2012

          Well, the FSA I suppose, and above them the Treasury and the newspapers, and above them the people. One of the secrets of how to make a democracy work is, in my opinion, that no one has power without being subject to someone else’s supervision.

  5. MickC
    March 5, 2012

    Your last two sentences are the essence of the problem.

    This government is not going to do it. It is therefore dead in the water.

    Cameron has been precisely what I thought he would be-utterly useless. Spin and PR may win an election, but cannot deliver results; substance is required for that and Cameron has none.

    1. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      He did not win the election.

      1. Duyfken
        March 5, 2012

        And that is an indictment as well. How could he not win the election with such an unpopular and incompetent previous PM and government? Spin and PR lost him the election.

  6. Antisthenes
    March 5, 2012

    It is all rather academic because the bond market has become a bubble on the verge of bursting. Central banks have being buying up bonds or encouraging their purchase so as to artificially inflate their value. Coupled with which economic and social policies and practices are making return to growth evermore elusive. Deficit let alone debt reduction is becoming difficult even impossible to accomplish and the very act of accomplishing the reduction is further hampering growth. So with little prospect of the growth levels needed to pay down the deficit and to sustain government spending at current levels. Also with so much misaligned investment and with bloated central banks balance sheets it all points to a massive collapse of financial markets. From which point the government will not be running the economy the economy will be running the government. This will force the government into drastic austerity and the abandonment or severe curtailment of many of the social democrat inspired policies, practices, systems and structures. So that which the coalition is reluctant to do now will sooner rather than later have to be done anyway.

    1. oldtimer
      March 5, 2012

      I think this is an entirely feasible outcome. Osborne has muffed the opportunity provided by the past two budgets to implement the reforms needed in the tax system to encourage earnings, savings and investment. The present arrangements entrench idleness at the bottom of the income scale (via welfare) and coasting at the top (via taxation). It is no way to generate the growth which is the only way to climb out of the hole we are in. Events, and the markets, seem certain to take over.

      1. lifelogic
        March 5, 2012


        The present arrangements entrench idleness at the bottom of the income scale (via welfare) and coasting at the top (via taxation).

  7. Freeborn John
    March 5, 2012

    The Tory-part of the government certainly shows every sign of having run out of ideas. Michael Grove was the only minister who appeared to have any policy ideas prior to the last election anyway. Hagsedges been accused of having lost his mojo but in truth the entire government has been drifting along the course of least resistance since the beginning. The country needs real change, not least in the relationship with Brussels, to liberate policy from decades of LibLabConB stasis but instead we just have more of the same drift in Cameron. One term is far, far too long for a man of no ideas and no action. The shame is the first past the post two-party Westminister system reduces choice to two identikit parties of mangerial drift who don’t care where the country is going so long as they are at the wheel.

  8. Caterpillar
    March 5, 2012

    “The economy is crying out for less regulation, for lower taxes on enterprise, for more working banks, for more realistic energy bills, for more competition in several areas.”

    less regulation – largely agree,particularly planning and greenbelt.
    lower taxes on enterprise – this my leaning, but I think great care is needed to ensure revenues don’t go down. I’d prefer to see simplification, removal of NI, and rebalancing between tax types.
    more working banks – yes, + its a pity QE1 didn’t buy more corporate debt, that the capital requirements seem to have been a procyclical policy.
    more realistic energy – if only sterling hadn’t been devalued.
    more competition in some areas – agreed.

    But also the Chancellor should have held Sir MK and MPC to account on inflation – the evidence is it slows growth. Also austerity probably needed to be quicker and carefully targeted (due to evidence of crowding out in UK, though not in all countries). And we should have learned that the taxpayer should not take all the downside risk and yet the tax payer seems to for student grants.

    (I hope IDS’s plans do come to fruition, it is a b’ of a time to try to do this, but nonetheless needed. Also I’m mostly happy with Andrew Lansley, a step forward. I am yet to be convinced that Messers Gove and Gibb have much conception of learning & school dynamics … but hopefully I am wrong. The PM on alcohol unit pricing rather than sugar, sodium and transfats – unconvincing.)

    1. A Different Simon
      March 5, 2012

      I too hope IDS”s plans come to fruition but it won’t be under this term of office .

      What was it that Gen Patton said , albeit during time of war ; a brutal plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week .

      1. Caterpillar
        March 5, 2012

        Fair point. I shall at least hope the political direction has changed across parties.

    2. uanime5
      March 5, 2012

      “I hope IDS’s plans do come to fruition, it is a b’ of a time to try to do this, but nonetheless needed.”

      To get 2 million people off the unemployment statistics and onto the Work Programme? How will that fix unemployment?

      “Also I’m mostly happy with Andrew Lansley, a step forward.”

      Selling the NHS to private companies is a step forward?

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    March 5, 2012

    When looking for a description of this government the word “radical” doesn’t readily spring to mind. Those that do are: tax and spend; u-turns; poor communicators; LibDem; wasted opportunity; wedded to the EU; a big disappointment.

    1. Graham
      March 5, 2012

      I agree.

      There has been little positive move to change society and the EU and overall a poor use of 2 years. Momentum all but lost!!

    2. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      More “tax borrow and waste” I think.

  10. alan jutson
    March 5, 2012

    I thought Mr Hilton was on unpaid leave for a year ?

    From Press reports, he has chosen areas anew because of immense frustration with the Civil Service, with the Lib Dems, with all things EU, and with the slow speed of change.

    He like many of us out here, was simply getting frustrated that good ideas were not being transformed into action, but instead were being sidelined, and being constantly revised until they were but a shadow of their former purpose. So I guess he thought continually banging his head against a wall, eventually hurts.

    Today we have newspaper headlines/speculation that Child Benefit is going to be revised, and that now the limit may be nearer to £80,000 before it is removed.
    Clearly from a fairness point of view this makes sense, but it was the wrong choice in my view in the first place.
    If you are going to have child benefit at all, limit it to two children per couple or better still one each.
    Stop encouraging people (by financial reward) to have more children than simply a replacement for yourself.

    George Osbourne has shown how limiting being a member of the EU is when he admitted he was constrained by certain rules on taxation in the last Budget.

    Aware that you cannot change the direction of welfare and the economy rapidly, but things are simply not happening fast enough.

    The Debt is still growing.

    1. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      Indeed the proposed attack on child benefits (without any compensatory tax reductions) is yet another back door tax increase – best to leave now I think. Three more years of this soft socialism, followed by five of Labour is not a very uplifting prospect.

    2. zorro
      March 5, 2012

      The alleged following encounter around the Hilton affair reported in the Daily Mail summed it up for me….

      We should ignore EU rules’ – Steve Hilton

      ‘We can’t. It’s EU law. The PM could go to jail’ – Jeremy Heywood

      ‘Rubbish. You’re being ridiculous.’ – Steve Hilton

      Political commentator Peter Oborne wrote: “Heywood is a perfect manifestation of everything that has gone so very wrong with the British civil service over the past 15 years.”

      To probably almost every suggestion Hilton made, the answer would probably have been about the same….’We can’t, it’s EU law’….a typical civil servant reply


      1. sm
        March 6, 2012

        Curiously it seems EU/the law is an issue only as cover when needed. If there was a will there would be a way.

        The PM might go to prison. – But they extradite citizens willy nilly – except the ones they cant or wont. But are prepared to send the armed services into conflict.They send people to prison for not paying BBC tax,Council Tax. The PM is expendable he can be replaced, it would be useful to us if the EU did try and extradite and jail the PM. It might get reported by the media.

        I guess (Mr Hilton) realised that banging your head like woodpecker was pointless. All credit to you JR for continuing to make strong suggestions particularly over the EU and banking disasters.Its just as well you get paid for and are drawn to this- not like most of our drones MP’s who are part of the collective and have not the strength for actions preferring just cheap words.

  11. Denis Cooper
    March 5, 2012

    By the by, it seems that Labour may abstain on the Bill to approve the EU treaty change formalised as European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011, when it comes along:

    “Yet Mr Cameron faces a fresh Commons rebellion over Europe within weeks, as Tory Eurosceptics prepare to use an upcoming vote on the EU’s bailout mechanism to defy the PM.

    The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, is being urged to help the Tory rebellion by using Europe as a “wedge issue” to expose divisions in the Government. One option considered by party strategists is for Labour MPs to abstain in the Commons vote on ratifying a treaty on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).”

    As there is no requirement for the UK to ratify the actual ESM treaty, presumably that refers to the enabling EU treaty change which cannot come into force unless and until it has been ratified by all EU member states including the UK.

    Labour are now making it almost their standard practice to cop out from expressing a clear view on EU developments, largely restricting themselves to the rather childish refrain that government has got it wrong and they would have done it differently.

    Their spokesman carefully avoid answering the question whenever they’re asked whether a Labour government would have signed up to the measures in the “fiscal pact”, and going back a year now almost all their MPs abstained in the March 23rd 2011 vote on whether to pre-authorise Cameron to agree to the EU treaty change, Division No 236 here:

    The result of that vote was Ayes 310, Noes 29, JR being among those who dissented.

    Reply: Labour refuse to oppose most EU developments. Labour abstaining will not block any EU matter, as Coalition Ministers, Lib Dems and nationalists can always defeat Conservative Euroscpetic rebels. Labour has to oppose and vote against to stop something.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 5, 2012

      Yes, if the Labour MPs are whipped to abstain from a vote then the overall effect will always the same as if they had voted in favour of the government’s proposal, unless getting on for two thirds of the Tory MPs rebel and vote against it.

      It’s a cowardly way to proceed, whether here or in France where the socialists have abstained on the parliamentary votes to approve the ESM treaty.

      “The move would follow a similar act by the French Socialist presidential candidate, François Hollande, whose party abstained on the treaty vote in the French parliament.

      Mr Miliband met Mr Hollande in London last week. While not voting down the treaty outright, the abstention allowed the centre-left party to force a debate about growth and jobs, said Labour sources, because as it stands, the ESM is a “significant austerity-driven process”.”

      So if they don’t like it, shouldn’t they vote against it?

      Rather than just letting it go through while demanding that it be re-negotiated, which they must know is very unlikely to happen once it has come into force.

  12. Paul Danon
    March 5, 2012

    As Mr Osborne has suggested, we ‘re skint. Ideas need to come not from paid advisors but from elected ministers themselves. On reform of the public services, we must we wary of sabotage by welfare-, education- and health-workers who oppose change.

    1. uanime5
      March 5, 2012

      But sabotage by Ministers is fine?

      Perhaps Ministers should start listening to those who work welfare, education, and healthcare rather than ignoring them.

  13. ian wragg
    March 5, 2012

    There will be no radical policies while everything is frustrated by EU membership. The country will continue to decline, HSBC and Prudential are top line for leaving the country to Hong Kong.
    Cameroon will continue to manage our decline until he is ousted and takes up his post in Brussels.

    1. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      Where he could continue to “manage our decline”.

  14. Bob
    March 5, 2012

    Before you can make any progress you will need to deal with the BBC.
    They set the political mood music, as you probably know.

  15. lojolondon
    March 5, 2012

    I wonder what Ron Paul’s input would be for the Conservative party – I bet he could find some proper cuts in our budget. I know I could, here are some ideas (and the best political advert I have ever seen!)

  16. Denis Cooper
    March 5, 2012

    Connecting with my earlier comment about the Labour party copping out from adopting clear positions on EU developments, apart from saying that the government had got it wrong and they would have done it differently, the French socialists are coming in for similar criticisms after they abstained from the parliamentary votes to approve the ESM treaty.

    “The row over the EU’s new treaty was partly ignited by French president Nicolas Sarkozy who tried to revive the Socialists’ old divisions on Europe at an EU summit in Brussels last Friday.

    Asked about the French Socialist’s opposition to the fiscal treaty, Sarkozy said left-leaning politicians could still ratify it by abstaining from voting in the Parliament, where they have a majority.

    Recalling the socialists’ abstention on the ratification of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which established the EU’s permanent bailout fund, Sarkozy said: “If the socialists abstain again – which could become a habit – that would suffice for the treaty to be ratified.”

    “This is probably what they would call unwavering European conviction. That might be the new European policy,” he said, referring to the French Socialist party.” ”

    And of course it’s true that if Labour similarly abstain from voting on the Bill to approve the enabling EU treaty change, European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011, then that will not impede its ratification by the UK unless getting on for two thirds of the Tory MPs rebel and vote against it.

    I’m concerned about the first paragraph of that article:

    “Conservative European leaders from Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain have banded together to shun the campaign of François Hollande, the socialist candidate for the presidential election in France and front-runner in the opinion polls, according to weekly magazine Der Spiegel.”

    If that is true, what on earth is Cameron playing at, joining with Merkel to try to ensure that her “fiscal pact” is ratified by France?

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    March 5, 2012

    Because of the huge and persistent differences on Europe, the coalition should last only until we have got the 2012 and 2013 budgets out of the way, by which time the deficit must have been substantially reduced for the sake of the country.

    Conservatives will then be free to determine their own European policy. Most Conservatives want a renegotion that would effectively involve the repeal of the Lisbon, Amsterdam and Nice treaties (the Prime Minister may be an exception; let us ensure that is his problem, not ours).

    I would go further and repeal Maastricht as well. That would mean that the Euro became a de facto currency, not a de jure currency.

    UKIP have got it wrong. We should not leave the EU because of the European federal project. We must stay inside and wreck it. Remember de Gaulle – he delayed the federal agenda for a decade.

  18. Leslie Singleton
    March 5, 2012

    My apolitical young daughter recently hit the nail on the head when she described Cameron as “just a salesman”. I’ll give him that he looks the part and is calm in a crisis but I reckon his brain is wired up all wrong causing him to pander and grovel for votes instead of winning respect. His insane idea of pretending that same sex couples should be able to marry (not to mention the thoroughly ( BAD-ED) idea of, especially, two men being able to adopt a child) is a case in point.

  19. Rebecca Hanson
    March 5, 2012

    “tweaking the …. educational reforms”

    In your dreams government. Coping with the complete implosion of the education reforms due to them having been based on no evidence or logic grounded in reality and them not having been consulted.

    If you think driving through the health reforms is proving difficult it will seem like childs’ play compared with trying to mop up the mess which is developing in education.

    This government needs to reserve it’s energy for dealing with this and also to recognised that correcting its mistakes will be extremely costly – just as has always been predicted by the study of the economics of education. Shame no-one bothered to read it or speak to anyone who understand education planning.

    1. Rebecca Hanson
      March 6, 2012

      No dissent at all on this comment then?

      There’s not much on any of the discussion forums now either – just a gathering sense of rage.

  20. Alison
    March 5, 2012

    Pretty much a dead loss on the first stage. All tax rises and no spending or bureaucracy cuts. Can’t see any other policies likely to rebuild the economy and get them re elected in 3 years so we’ll either have a return to Labour or maybe a Brussels appointed Junta like Italy and Greece.

  21. Alan Wheatley
    March 5, 2012

    The over-used adjective is the curse of intelligent argument. Apparently “radical” is a general term of approbation, especially among skateboarders. Perhaps my thirty year old dictionary points to where politicians picked upon the idea: some change is good, more change is better, and radical change just has to be tops.

    This is the technique of trying to better your opponent by categorisation rather than on merit. It is the same as dismissing a person’s argument by asserting that they are on the far right, or far left, and consequentially what they say is of no account. I am surprised that you never hear the obvious repost: I am in the centre, I only appear to you to be far right/left because your viewpoint is from the far left/right.

    We would all be far better served by the issue being argued on its merits. Sometimes a small tweak is what is needed, on other occasions something radical is necessary. In all cases if government wants to act they should make the case and back it up by sustainable argument in the face of criticism from opponents. Merely describing a vision of a better future is not good enough.

    It is likely the bigger the change the more work that will be required to ensure all aspects have been properly considered and the proposals are sound. It seems to me a common failing of government is to seek to do too much too quickly with the consequence of having to re-plan, adjust and worst of all U-turn. This is no good as what may well have been a sensible objective fails to be achieved and one flawed system is replaced by a different, flawed system.

    The perceived need to make a big impact is not entirely the fault of politicians. As long the public debate is controlled by the media they are as much to blame for too much froth and too little substance.

  22. Captain Crunch
    March 5, 2012

    I recently met a ranting man who said something that I initially thought was crazy.

    But the more I thought about it, the more I though it might be true.

    He said that David Cameron had deliberately tried NOT to win the 2010 General Election.

    That David Cameron had taken his foot off the gas in the last few weeks. That he had his foot on Gordon Brown’s windpipe (awful metaphor) and had eased off instead of pushing harder. He argued that the great debater who had won the Tory Leadership with such panache, famously speaking so eloquently without notes, had deliberately held back in the TV debates. That the PR professional had released the most boring looking and sounding manifesto since records began. That the “heir to Blair” had campaigned like Tony Hancock not Tony Blair. It went on an on….

    But why? I asked. Why would someone facing an open goal choose to miss? Or, at least, hit the post? Why would someone deliberately lose an election?

    The reason, he told me, was that he and George Osborne had seen at close hand what a slim majority had done to the last Tory Prime Minster. That John Major had struggled with a small majority and a party that pulled him in two directions. But with no majority, Mr Cameron could call on the support of his party and on the support of 50 t0 60 grateful Lib Dem MPs.

    With more in common with the Lib Dems than the right in his own party, Mr Cameron could forge a different coalition. The Conservative Party has always been an uneasy coalition, so why not have a new, exciting friendly coalition? Have a coalition agreement that discards the ideas of the right.

    At first I thought this was nonsense. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if it makes sense.

    1. stred
      March 5, 2012

      This adds up.

    2. zorro
      March 5, 2012

      I have heard this theory, and it is not illogical if you look at the way Cameron has acted in government. He definitely fluffed the debates and allowed Clegg and Brown to get away from points where they could be crushed. At the time, I was shouting at the TV stating that he had missed an open goal and then I thought that there might be another reason…either the one you state or that he had realised the enormity of what was going to happen and he froze.


  23. Bandit 1
    March 5, 2012

    Ian Wragg has it exactly. The ‘government’ is no longer in any shape or form a real government. It has zero scope for action – radical or not – as the EU has entirely usurped its role. Those are the facts. Everything else is just blather.

  24. Winston Smith
    March 5, 2012

    Election strategists believe 2015 will definitely be another hung parliament. People like Mr Redwood must understand it is very unlikely there will ever be another Tory Govt, whilst blue socialism prevails, unless Scotland goes it own way. UKIP will continue to take Conservative votes and activists. The 2014 EU elections could be a springboard to UKIP taking 10% of the vote. The conundrum for centre-right politicians and activists is how long will they continue to be sidelined by the socialist clique running their Party. History records the brave.

  25. sm
    March 5, 2012

    1) Repatriate powers from EU or leave.
    2) Reduce or stop our contributions to the above or to rich countries.
    3) Eliminate conflicts of interest in government with the EU. Any clause threatening withdrawal of pensions of former EU must be neutralised. A deduction from our contributions should be made to fulfill this obligation and held by the UK government. We could just ban those conflicted former office holders, working in uk publicly funded organizations at senior levels.
    4) Reduce immigration by all means possible.Skilled short term visa’s must be auctioned and the funds used to train local residents.
    5)Mandate that our Supreme Court reaches its own judgements based on all sources it needs. By default the court should not be over-ruled by foreign courts unless parliament so directs after a debate and a free vote.
    6)Setup community volunteer groups, where unemployed or under-employed volunteers can barter labour for waiver of council tax and charges and others who want to volunteer. No petty sanctions from DWP on voluntary schemes.
    7)Enable vocational learning via online material to be made available FOC to UK residents.
    8) Consider a citizens income, then a flat tax of 35% up to £100k. Maybe 40-50% after that.
    9) Introduce a robust general anti-avoidance rule. Merge NI&Paye and or eliminate NI on employees, labour intensive industry. Tax capital gains as income when taken. Reduce tax advantages of debt interest over equity. Loans should be based on income yields, not asset values.
    10) Reform banking laws. End private money creation.Move to full reserve banking. Money creation should be a state function with the funds spent into existence on long term infrastructure or similar.Enable pension funds to invest in business direct via new competing structures or allow pension funds to build housing for rent.
    11) Reform politics with constitutional reform a la suisse with more referenda.
    12) Remove special laws and tax exemptions (House of Lords tax free daily allowances). Subsidized alcohol & bars at HOC. Remove public pensions for publicly engaged non-employee’s.Domicile laws.
    13) More Freedom of information and transparency.
    14) Reduce public sector jackpot pay & merry go round.

    So many good ideas in this blog over the years.So little action.

    1. uanime5
      March 5, 2012

      Most of your ideas are bad.

      1-3) No chance of these happening while we’re part of the EU.

      4) No chance of this happening while companies need cheap labour.

      5) Blindly following UK law isn’t always compatible with justice. Politicians too often make laws that benefit their own interests rather than for the good of the people, so the courts need a way to override bad laws.

      6) The unemployed can get their council tax paid via the benefits system so they have no incentive to volunteer.

      7) What use is this? Unless employers value these qualifications they’re a waste of money.

      8-9) These could work as long as the tax rate is 50%.

      10) Limiting the amount of money that can be created by a fixed amount is a better solution. For example banks can only lend 10 times the capital they possess.

      11-13) Good ideas.

      14) No idea what this is.

      1. sm
        March 6, 2012

        1-3. Why not – we would not be thrown out of Europe, just watch the Greeks,Italians or Spainish in action. Germany and others would leave shortly after.
        4) There is already surplus labour >35 people chasing each vacancy. Unfair wage subsidy for temporary immigrant labour via tax regulation must cease.
        5) Reread what i said. Parliament is supreme and acts as a final check/arbiter on judge made law.It shouldn’t be required to state it, the fact you are confused points to a crisis caused by EUlaws and foreign courts. There is a delicate balance of powers required to prevent dictatorship, you can see how its developing on the continent.
        Power ultimately rests with the people via representative politicians or direct democracy. (Dont you remember the Poll tax?)
        6) Incorrect. (Type in savings £16,000)
        7) Employees do. At least for the quality ones. Online is a relatively cheap,flexible and easy method of delivery. It is a growing area and well suited to learning technical skills, maths,law,engineering, finance. As more people qualify or upgrade or consolidate it increases the skills of the workforce,its called aspiration or competition.
        10) IMHO Banks will find ways around ratio rules via offshore shadow banking or create so called assets at fair value. Better to relate the ratio to cashflow or yield on the assets not the value.
        The problem would be then a state constitutional issue to avoid a Gordon Brown scenario.

        14) Open your eyes – Revolving door appointments. CEO payoffs/new contracts/early pension deals. Sinecures in the Lords or EU or BBC or elsewhere. Look a bit lower down at local government and look at the managerial size salaries v the risk/rewards. I wouldn’t bother looking at those working below the £25k level, working that is until we resolve the top pay problem and housing costs.

  26. outsider
    March 5, 2012

    Last night I heard a Conservative MP say how proud she was to belong to such a radical government. The context was gay marriage but it could have been the NHS, constitutional reform, QE or much else. What nonsense this is. Progressive Conservative yes. But radical conservative is an oxymoron is reality as well as language.
    By the age of 18, I had learnt that radicalism usually meant sacrificing the present generation for some theoretical future benefit. Free markets are the great force for change. The purpose of a l/c conservative government ( in the absence of some national agenda) should be to help people get the best out of this change with the least pain and disruption. This government is delivering the most disruption for the least effect.
    I realise that most people who comment on Mr Redwood’s blog are Whigs or radical liberals but many of us in all parts of the community yearn for such a conservative alternative to vote for. Even Margaret Thatcher, though radical in action, had the conservative aim of restoring Britain. I see no such purpose today.

  27. Publius
    March 5, 2012

    I’m afraid I have stopped believing anything Cameron says. The trust is gone. He can say what he likes come the next election. I won’t believe him.

    1. lifelogic
      March 5, 2012

      Nor will anyone else with any sense – not that anyone with any sense ever does believe politicians.

  28. A Different Simon
    March 5, 2012

    Looks like the public finances need another source of revenue .

    Is there any danger that the Govt may actually do something by the way of supporting exploitation of shale hydrocarbons in the UK ?

    The treasury is telling us that the money has run out and DECC is telling us that the UK is rich enough to leave this stuff in the ground .

    Which department is telling us the truth ?

  29. REPay
    March 5, 2012

    Your suggestion on breaking up the nationalized banks would be popular and might help get growth going – though I suspect it would take a couple of years to get going. Imagine more competing banks, looking to lend to businesses…bust the oligopoly! It would make our high streets look different – a great, radical legacy for the goverment and they could do it…where is the will.

    Did your recent speech give us any grounds for hope.

  30. RDM
    March 5, 2012

    We are running out of time!

    The result will be a “Progressive (Lib/Lab) pack” that will try to bounce GB into the Euro! Or, at least, that’s what the establishment has in mind!

    We are so desperate for reform of the Banking system, for de-regulation of the Planning system, Energy Market reform, etc … A slow process! Combined with both a Debt laden business cycle, and slower growth within the Euroland, it’s going to be difficult!

    Benefits Computer System; I’m one of many hundreds of Project (Software) contractors that are available? O, sorry, a big company has tied it all up? We’ll never see it working, if we do, it’ll cost a lot more then we’ll save!



    1. A Different Simon
      March 5, 2012

      “The result will be a “Progressive (Lib/Lab) pack”

      Surely the Conservative party can see the canny Lib Dems are just killing time waiting to jump into bed with Labour . I pity the grass roots members of the Labour party .

      Nothing will happen in the term of office of this Govt or the one which follows it if it is lead by one of the three major parties .

      It’s will be 2020 before the UK is forced to come to it’s senses .

      We are the only country in the World pursueing an energy non-policy based on making fossil fuels as expensive as possible in order to make renewables viable .

      Why are politicians and civil servants being allowed to drag their heals to put off the innevitable of shale hydocarbon extraction ?

      Since we are going to have to do it , how about starting before it’s too late ?

  31. AJAX
    March 5, 2012

    Q: How radical should this government be?

    A: Very, England’s in trouble on multiple fronts, as much now as she faced in 1979 perhaps

    Q: What does Hilton leaving portend?

    A: Small time P.R. man takes his leave of the Prime Minister’s entourage & there’s a tremor of what it portends. This says all you need to know about the Cameron administration.

    Q: Will the on-going & now far advanced piecemeal destruction of England’s sovereign power & its handing over to the EU cause the Conservative Party to step willingly into the hazard of a grand history moment, withdraw from the EU, & siezing England’s tiller of destiny & steer it away from the dull marshland of the Scheldt, out to the unknown opportunites offered by the seabourne horizons of the globe again, seeking to re-engage with the Anglosphere, & the immensity of the 5 continents as a free agent once more !!!??

    A: …. Well…. no, it won’t, it didn’t get the name “Conservative” by doing that sort of thing, leave that to the radical Liberals, which have yet to re-appear on England’s political stage.

    Cue UKIP …..?

  32. BobE
    March 5, 2012

    Will all politicians holiday in the UK this year? We, the people are being asked to do so. This government are spending 5 million on advertising this. If you do spend that much then no politician can dare risk a holiday abroad.

  33. Mactheknife
    March 5, 2012


    I’ve mentioned before that I was a first time Conservative voter at the last election. Why did I vote this way ? The reasons were that Labour had lurched to the left and had lost their direction (and probably still have). Their “greenwash” policies were killing the economy and anyone who bothered to look could see they would result in rising household energy bills. They swallowed every EU law and directive and even though they challenged human rights decisions, they still continued to devolve national powers to Europe. They were happy to support millions on benefits which were way above the average salary and allow benefit fraud to continue, as the left see this area as their core support base.
    I had hoped that a traditional party, centre right, would come to power and address these issues. The frustration is that the national mood was right to tackle all these , but no, Cameron targeted the NHS and has landed himself with a poison challice. If Hilton was the brainchild of this then its perhaps just as well that he is off to sunny CA, but reports suggest that he has become disillusioned with the ‘stagnant and status-quo policies.
    In my view the Conservatives have not been radical enough in the areas where they should have been and have involved themselves in areas which they should not have. I suspect this is the result of the LibDem stranglehold, but we are now seeing high profile defections to UKIP.
    Cameron beware !

    1. rose
      March 5, 2012

      I think the Conservatives should have got on and done all the unpopular things right away, before people realized, and before the Liberals got uppity. So many nasty bits of medicine all at once, that they would have cancelled themselves out, bad-publicity-wise. Talking to BBC people like Nick Robinson should have been left till just before the election. The same goes for people like Fraser Nelson. Trying to get a good press while in government might have been easy for the Socialists but it was never going to be granted to Conservatives. Mrs T understood that and got returned 3 times, despite an appalling press. She was never defeated by the electorate, only by her own MPs losing their nerve.

      Whether there is time now, I don’t know. One might say there is nothing to be lost in doing the right thing, even late in the day.

  34. lojolondon
    March 5, 2012

    John, this is how radical we do NOT want our government to be – just like HS2 and the 80mph speed limit, the government dishonestly pretends they are thinking about new initiatives, and announce an idea, when you look into it the whole silly plan comes from the EU –

    9 February – Dave suggests quotas to get more women in Boardrooms
    Today – the EU threatens quotas to get more women in Boardrooms

    Lastly, I see the PM of Iceland is in the dock facing jail time for allowing the country to go bust. I guess we won’t take the same action against Gordon Brown, but why not??

    1. Caterpillar
      March 5, 2012

      I don’t think Govt should interfere with board membership of companies, but if it did the sex route is an odd one to go.

      As organizations have flattened and career patterns have changed the progression upwards from middle mangement has become rarer. I admit I am guessing, but I suspect that this difference may have contributed to females as well as males of a certain age reaching high but not highest levels. I suspect if Govt did wish to interfere then requirng companies to draw from their own middle management layers would consequentially have a sex count effect.

      Anyway, quotas seem odd, understanding some structural reasons might be an alternative approach (for Govt interference to take).

    2. uanime5
      March 5, 2012

      We’re probably not trying to imprison Gordon Brown because the Conservatives not only didn’t oppose him but were claiming Brown should have been more leant. So the Conservatives may end up being charged as co-conspirators.

      1. APL
        March 6, 2012

        uanime5: “We’re probably not trying to imprison Gordon Brown ”

        Perhaps he should be arraigned for taking money under false presences. The pretense being, he representing the constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

        It is not quite two years since the general election and the number of times Gordon Brown MP has attended Parliament can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

        Reply: I think he comes to Parliament quite often – that is not the same as speaking in the Chamber.

  35. uanime5
    March 5, 2012

    “Many Ministers are discovering that they cannot do what they wish to do in the UK, owing to the stranglehold EU law, the ECJ and the ECHR now has in so many areas.”

    Many Councillors cannot do what they wish to do because of statutes passed by Parliament but this doesn’t make these laws wrong. It’s a good lesson for Ministers to learn that they’re not all powerful and cannot infringe on the rights of others to purse their own agenda.

  36. Bazman
    March 5, 2012

    Being a Knob does not make you radical. “Get ‘rad’ with Steve” Dave’s Dashboard. Can Dave not even come up with his own stupid ideas? Here’s a radical plan Dave. Suspend your pay for a year to see what happens, then tow Britain to a place with a better climate. Had to Google this guy and my idea of towing is one he could have already come up with. How much did he earn for this tosh?

  37. Caterpillar
    March 5, 2012

    (Apologies for tangential comment, but jsut catching up with various news).

    Is the wide ranging SDR going to be re-considered?

    No carriers, no suitable aircraft, no reliable French ally.

  38. Chris
    March 5, 2012

    Delighted to hear of Mark Pritchard’s firm stance with regard to Cameron and the EU, and immigration, and other matters. He has apparently just resigned from the position of deputy chairman of the Conservative Party International Office, as he does not agree with Cameron on these issues, and wishes to be free to speak out. See politics home for copy of letter andd also huffington post.

  39. A Different Simon
    March 5, 2012

    I think I’ve found out why the Govt can’t achieve anything .

    Appears that an impact analysis for anything needs to consider EU compliance , CO2 emissions and possible effects on disabled gender reassigned dislexic members of a racial minority :-

    Take a look everyone , this is unbelievable .

    You didn’t tell us it was this bad John !

  40. bin lurkin
    March 5, 2012

    Desparately disappointed in the Coalition government and its total lack of understanding of and indeed increasingly vehement anti business agenda. Two honeymoon years almost entirely wasted, the most recent example being the “instant dismissal” of 50 experienced businessmens’ perfectly cogent point that we need to invest in Heathrow, ourmain gateway to the ouside world, and we need to do so now (not in the next 10 to 20 years Justine). Its not just Prudential and HSBC that will be upping sticks and heading east, key Thames Valley employers such as Microsoft and a host of London based businesses need urgent access to export markets, through a hub that is also accessible to the rest of the UK unlike Boris Island. Bye bye to their future tax revenues, sacrificed by the traitorous 5th column on the altar of fallacious green energy policies and mindless political correctness.

    Meantime the insurance industry in this country which is still world class if no longer a world leader and came through the financial crisis in respectable shape is being singled out by the FSA and regulators for arbitrary punishment. Further decimation of our pensions system – there was a time when the UK was in far better shape than continental Europe, no longer.

    So much to do, so little time remaining, and virtually no sense of direction.

  41. John Maynard
    March 8, 2012

    John wrote:
    “The deficit reduction programme has so far fallen prey to slower growth leading to higher borrowing. This in turn leads people to demand a better series of measures to promote economic growth”.

    That is not true.

    The OBR, in it’s wisdom, substantially revised it’s estimates for economic performance, (and thus the resultant deficit), in the light of last November’s Euro-panic, and the herd panic of City economic “diviners”.

    The deficit to date, for 2011/2012 is well below original projections, let alone the OBR/Treasury’s more pessimistic November forecasts.

    The “plan ‘B’ ” snake oil salesmen are the same vested interests that have always been there.

    These days, the press tends to make screaming headlines out of any pessimistic forecast from any self-publicising City “guesstimator”, but the actual hard economic data – usually far less dramatic and mildly positive, gets only a brief item hidden away in obscurity.

    John seems to have fallen into this trap.

    Reply: I report the figures. I reported the January figures which did show at last some better performance than frorecasts.

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