Category Archives: David Cameron

What’s sauce for the goose…

WATCHING Newsnight this evening it became clear that in the next few weeks, President Obama will embark on (a) a rescue plan for America’s banks, and (b) a massive stimulus package for the economy.

Since America’s economic problems are similar to our own, and the prospective remedies similar to those already carried out here, can we expect David Cameron to welcome the American rescue package(s) with the same derisive scorn with which he greeted Britain’s?

Perhaps not the most auspicious start to a relationship with a president Do-Nothing is pathetically desperate to emulate. But it would certainly confirm Obama’s initial, instinctive view of him as “a lightweight”.

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Filed under Barack Obama, David Cameron, Economy, United States

Beware the economy bullies

THERE’S almost a bullying tone to some of the voices raised in criticism of the government’s economic policies. Anyone who dares to suggest that the current crisis is not of our making gets the proverbial Chinese burn behind the bike shed and has his dinner money stolen.

So Sir Alan Budd, former adviser to Tory chancellors Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke, might want to get his mum to pick him up from school for the next couple of days. According to Paul Waugh of The Evening Standard, Sir Alan told Radio 4:

On the issue of whether the nation is on the edge of “bankruptcy”, he said:

“Expressions like the country going bankrupt aren’t really suitable to be used in these circumstances. There are problems out there but they’re not to do with bankruptcy.”

This contrasts slightly with D Cameron (who worked alongside Sir Alan when he was with Lamont) just a week ago, declaring “We’ve got to stop this Government before they bankrupt our economy and bankrupt our children’s future”.

Here’s Sir Alan on the fall in sterling:

“I don’t think a fall in the currency in itself is a serious matter, this is a price that is determined in free markets. Let people take their views of the future value of Sterling, some will get it right and some will get it wrong. This doesn’t prevent the Government from being able to finance its deficit and it is able to do that at the moment at very low interest rates”

And on the public finances in general:

“I don’t think public finances are a problem at the moment. They are not nearly as healthy as one would wish but I don’t think we need worry about the public finances, what we do need to worry about are the commercial finances and the operation of the banking system.”

I don’t deny that recent polls suggest Labour is losing the economic argument. That doesn’t mean the critics are right or that the public won’t give us the benefit of the doubt when polling day comes around.

I remain firmly of the view that, had we been inflicted with a Conservative government in the last decade, not only would we be facing exactly the same economic difficulties as today, but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.

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Filed under Blogging, David Cameron, Economy

The ups and downs of reshuffles

A RULE about reshuffles is that, whether in government or in opposition, they tend to be initially welcomed by the media. If doubts emerge, it is only in the aftermath, 24-48 hours later.

So the Tories have done well so far to dominate the political headlines on the day a second tranche of cash is to be shoveled into the black hole that is our banking system. And there are some interesting and intelligent moves: Grayling has done well in both his recent positions – transport and DWP – and it will be intersting to see how effective his rottweiller approach will be at Home Affairs.

Theresa May will probably be glad to have her second stint as Shadow Leader of the House finally end. Alan Duncan will enjoy his weekly jousts with Harriet Harman during Business Questios on Thursday mornings. As Coffee House rightly says this afternoon, Dominic Grieve should probably not have been given Shadow Home Secretary last summer when David Davis resigned, and he may well be more suited to Shadow Justice Secretary.

Two negative points, though: I share the disappointment of the business community and a sizeable number of Tory MPs that Cameron has not shifted Theresa Villiers out of transport (though I accept that would have been difficult following a week when he gave her such unambiguous support in her campaign against economic growth Heathrow’s third runway).

And then there’s the DD question. Having accepted the argument for bringing back at least one of the so-called Big Beasts, what is Cameron’s reason for not bringing back David Davis, especially after his tacit admission today that DD’s replacement has not performed well?

Having won the argument for Clarke’s return, DD’s supporters are unlikely to allow the prospect of his eventual return to the front bench disappear from the headlines or from Tory blogs.

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Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Politics

Clarke returns to the front bench

THE BBC website doesn’t appear to have it yet, but Iain Dale does: Ken Clarke is returning to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary.

This is a very clever move by Cameron; KC is undoubtedly the biggest of the Big Beasts. He’s still (I assume) popular among the electorate and has that priceless quality for a politician: he comes across as an ordinary bloke. He speaks Human and doesn’t sound – has never sounded – like a political “Speak Your Weight” machine.

And try as I might, I can’t actually come up with a plausible reason for criticism. Damn, hate it when that happens.

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Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Politics

PMQs: Cameron stoops even lower

HOW telling that Dave chose to make a cheap, sneering political point about “planted questions” before echoing the Prime Minister’s tribute to our fallen troops. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that has ever happened before. Shameful.

UPDATE @ 1227: I’m grateful to Labourboy for pointing me in the direction of Hansard from 23 April 2008, when Dave’s first comments to the House were these:

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I think that we should call this session Prime Minister’s U-turns rather than Prime Minister’s questions. I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Senior Aircraftman Graham Livingstone and Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson, who were killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 13 April, and to Trooper Robert Pearson, who was killed on Monday. The whole country owes them a great debt of gratitude.

I’m sorry, I don’t care how much you hate the Labour Party or Gordon Brown, but surely no-one is going to excuse Do-Nothing making political points ahead of paying tribute to our troops? Surely…?

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Filed under David Cameron

I know I’m on a loser here…

… but Cameron is dead wrong in calling for a reduction in the number of MPs.

There, I’ve said it – do your worst…

This kind of promise – like the one made by his predecessor, Michael Howard, before the 2005 election – is lazy and cynical. Also popular, which is why he made it.

But we’re an easy target, aren’t we? No-one’s going to get shouted down for proposing a cut in the number of MPs, or a cut in our salaries, or by demanding we travel everywhere in standard class. A colleague once bitterly said to me: “If the only reward for public service was to be put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit every month, there would be public demand for it to happen every fortnight.”

Nevertheless, Cameron’s wrong on this. And he’s not doing it out of any kind of principle, other than the principle that whatever benefits his party is a good thing. Yes, there is a pro-Labour bias in the current pattern of seat boundaries, just as there was a pro-Conservative bias in the 1980s (though I don’t remember any Tories complaining about that at the time…). And the reason that bias has developed is because it is actually quite difficult to draw a boundary that will contain a specific number of voters as well as accurately represent and reflect a particular community.

Any perceived bias could just as easily be sorted out by a redrawing of the existing number of seats. Iain Dale points out that while some inner city seats have electorates of about 50,000 (he doesn’t say which, incidentally), the Isle of Wight has about 100,000. So, in the new set up, would there be an Isle of Wight East and an Isle of Wight West, each with 50,000 electors? And if the two Isle of Wight seats have 50,000 electors, does that mean every seat on the mainland should have the same number? Or should 100,000 be the figure we’re aiming at for every seat? You can see where simplistic arguments start to fall down when it comes to the unexpectedly complicated area of boundary maps.

If Cameron wants to make a case for fewer MPs on the basis that we don’t need our current 646, then let him do so. But he shouldn’t simply be calling for an entirely arbitrary just because some seats have more electors than others. 

And he certainly shouldn’t be trying to score cheap political points by having a go at an easy target, made all the more easy by the fact that no bugger ever raises his heads above the parapet to defend us.

More seriously, any political leader may come to regret fueling the already absurdly high levels of anti-politics sentiment in this country.

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Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron, Parliament

Is Milburn’s return bad news for Cameron?

JANET Daley is no great fan of Dave’s, but, then, she’s even less a fan of Gordon Brown. Her column in today’s Telegraph makes for interesting reading, particularly for those who believe the next election is in the bag for the Tories.

Talking of (welcoming?) Alan Milburn’s return to government, she writes:

If there is a single figure in the Labour ranks who can make the Conservatives – in their present incarnation – seem irrelevant, vacuous, indeed worse than useless, it is this former Health Secretary who is genuinely convinced of the need for more choice and competition in public services, and more real independence for the institutions that deliver them.

I was asked about Alan’s return on last night’s Westminster Hour. Isn’t the return of former Cabinet ministers a sign of desperation? seemed to be the gist of the interrogation. Yet why should we leave talented people like Alan on the back benches if they can contribute to Labour’s delivery  and, consequently, electoral performance, in government? Personally, I was disappointed that he didn’t return to the Cabinet last year.  

So while Janet Daley and I might be approaching the subject from different directions, I certainly hope her analysis is spot-on.

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Filed under Conservative Party, David Cameron