Friday, November 19, 2010

What Fact Did Lord Young Get Wrong?

It comes to something when a government advisor has to resign for actually stating facts, but there you go. That's modern day politics for you. Perhaps someone could explain to me which bit of what he said was wrong, because I am buggered if I can see it. Yes, he could have put it better but if everyone in politics and government was called to account like that we would have many politicians left. If I were one of the 46 government PPSs I might be feeling a little nervous today. Perhaps this means Vince Cable might now be a little more considered in some of his remarks. Or is one rule for some and one rule for others?

Lord Young, it should be remembered, is not really a party politician. He was brought into government because of his business background, so he can be forgiven for being slightly naive.

However, I was also guilty of being naive in going on Sky News on the phone when the story broke and talking about something I was not fully across. I think I appeared to call into question whether Lord Young knew he was on the record and being recorded. And by saying that I appeared to be impugning the integrity of Chris Hope of the Telegraph. That absolutely wasn't my intention and I apologise to him if anyone was left with that impression. He has made clear that Lord Young knew exactly that everything he said was on the record.

40 comments:

Anthony Trew said...

I agree with your post.

The problem for Lord Young, David Cameron and the government seems to be that they were said in public.

Note the lack of any Conservative disagreeing with what he said. And note the lack of a real apology and a real rebuke.

See my blog on the matter...

http://anthonytrew.blogspot.com/2010/11/lord-youngs-apology.html

Blue Eyes said...

Come off it Iain. If he had said "some people have benefited from the rate cuts if their mortgages have fallen commensurately and they have not also lost income" then he would have had a very reasonable point. Unfortunately he didn't say that. He said that "most people have never had it so good".

Most? Never?

It's a pretty stupid thing to say. Lots and lots of people have lost their jobs. Lost of people have not had their mortgages reduced by the rate cuts. Lots of people have accepted pay cuts and freezes.

If "most" people were doing as well as you and Lord Pillock seem to think, then how come there has not been a massive splurge on the high street or surge in investment as a result?

Iain, did you not realise that a huge part of politics is showing people that you understand the issues they are facing?

JuliaM said...

" Perhaps someone could explain to me which bit of what he said was wrong, because I am buggered if I can see it."

It was wrong because it reminded all those Tory voters out there that this government was supposed to be a Tory one.

And iDave can't have that, can he?

Jimmy said...

"Lord Young, it should be remembered, is not really a party politician"

An odd claim to make for a former party chairman.

Spenny said...

The problem is, his comments suggest he's viewing everything through the lens of a borrower, when there are savers and retiring pensioners who have 'never had it so bad' with regard to their nest eggs.

Dave can't be seen to be being advised from someone who can't see the big 'we're all in this together' picture, so politically speaking he had to go.

P. Stable said...

"Lord Young, it should be remembered, is not really a party politician"

And there was me thinking he spent half a decade serving as a party politician in Thatcher's cabinet, having spent the previous five years advising the Conservative Party on economic policy.

Alan said...

He forgot that a lot of people are trying to live on investment income, and with high-ish inflation and record low returns, this is very difficult.

He forgot that whilst not necessarily bad in aggregate, any individual affected by cuts, low returns, falling house prices, unemployment etc feels devastated.

He forgot that opportunistic opposition will use any hint of "Tory Glee" to undo years of detoxing the Tory brand

He forgot that he is a politician, and that anything he said to a journalist would be taken down and used against him

He forgot to retire when his senses started to leave him

jwildbore said...

I think the issue in the statement is that he said "the vast majority of people..."

I don't think that is really true. Those who rely on savings and investment income aren't better off, those not on tracker mortgages or who's tracker mortgage has come up for renewal are not better off, those who lost their job are not better off, nor are those who reduced the salary and/or hours to keep their job.

With inflation running at over 3% and wage inflation near flat - most of us are probably feeling a little poorer.

The comment was crass,stupid and largely inaccurate, but i agree it isn't a sackable offence and Lord Young should have been given some support as he is a businessman and not a politican.

Alex said...

Nothing. You can get a bottle of champagne from the Co-op this Christmas for £12. The price of Champagne Socialism has come down, and theyv'e never had it so good.

Archbishop Cranmer said...

You ought to know by now that some may make mistakes and there are no consequences; others, however, are immediately cast into outer darkness from which there is no redemption.

It is not so much politics, as who you know.

Right Hon. said...

Surely you realise that politics nowadays is all about presentation, superficial sound-bites and air-brushed posters. Lord Young went way 'off message' by telling us that it's really not bad when Cameron and Osbourne spend every waking hour telling us what a mess Labour has left and sorting out the deficit and the debt will be a long and painful process for all of us.

Dave&George: "It'll be tough, but we are all in this togather..."
Lord Young: "Recession, what recession? I'm all right Jack."

Douglas said...

I think that the way he said it kind of revealed that he doesnt know the pain of unemployment (and wanting to work). The pain of losing your home because your business failed. The pain not being able to buy a house because the banks now want a ridiculous deposit or even the pain of knowing that no matter how much you save out of your meagre earnings, retirement is going to be a time spent in poverty before death.

I agree with pretty much everything the government has done since May (except tuition fees but that is a 13 year old point of view not one about the government). Yet I know because I work for a charity my earnings will never mean I can buy a house or retire with a reasonable amount of money. My Dad is 66 and worked in Rosyth Dockyard and Faslane doing stores. He is retired on good pension and owns is home. I earn more in my 30s than what he retired on but I doubt I will be where he is now when/if I retire.

My dad had is better than me. Lord Young is wrong.

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

'Is', note.

'Was', possibly.

But then what shall we do about various Labour politicians who once supported and were active Conservatives? Are they sort of closet Conservatives, or Fifth Columnist Socialists?

juga said...

"What Fact Did Lord Young Get Wrong?"

The issue is not whether he got facts wrong. I, for example, am benefitting from lower mortgage payments but I was only saved from redundancy last year by foregoing a month's salary. Although I still have my job, it doesn't exactly feel secure and I don't have money to spare.

Lord Young is financially independent and his comment indicates he has little understanding of what it is like not to be in that happy position. You don't need to have a PhD in Politics to know the political consequences of saying what he did.

The Purpleline said...

The fact is this has been to some extent a phoney recession. Beefed up by politicians bashing bankers to win votes while constantly talking down the economy.

Is the cup half full or half empty.?

Recessions are a renewing process and is part of the capitalist system. Where the weak fail and come back stronger.

We are in danger if we keep this up of being run by headlines. The Telegraph chap acted like a tabloid journalist, he should have gone back and phoned Lord Young before publication for clarification.

Seeing Miliband on TV claiming small businesses have had a terrible time is pure irony, his boss and union henchman caused the recession. They asked banks to re-build forced them into some very expensive insurance and capital requirements and then told them they lent money without regard to the risk.

The fact is the banks have now installed more stringent lending conditions forced on them by capital requirements.

Cameron is silly boy he should have corrected the comments put them into context with Lord Young next to him and let that be the end of the matter.

The Telegraph needs to watch itself, the MP's expenses revelation has gone to their heads.

Bongo said...

Oh come of it!

If most of us 'have never had it so good'? Why are there tax rises? Why is unemployment not nosediving? Why are there 500,000 jobs to go in the public sector with almost all departments being cut back?

Are Cameron, Clegg and Osborne lying or has one silly old fool stuck his foot in his mouth along with one increasingly out of touch Conservative blogger and Westminster Villager who seems to back the political classes over the British people every time?

HampsteadOwl said...

Lord Young deserves everything he got.

This is the crassest political faux pas since....since the prime minister put his vanity photographer on the public payroll.

Resignation was inevitable.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Used to have respect for Lord Young, but at 78 he`s out of time and out of touch.Long overdue for retirement...

As for his fatuous comments, he ought to ask the millions of savers,who have been subsidising mortgages for the last 18 months,if they have ever had it so good???????

As Del Boy would say.......You Plonker!!!

Michael Fowke said...

"That's modern day politics for you."

No, that's Cameron's Conservative Party for you.

Weygand said...

The damage is the perspective of the remark.
When thousands of people drown in a flood, you don't say "Oh but the majority were saved" - your concern is for the victims.
DC knows that the focus of the coalition must be and be seen to be on those who are going to lose their jobs, homes etc. Anything else will feed into a narrative that risks undermining his whole approach.
For this reason it does not matter whether or to what extent what Young said was true.

pete-s said...

The Tories have failed to nail Brown et al, that the reckless spending started before the bank problems. Look at the exposure of RBS to Irelands problems, people are not joining up the dots, they think that Labour's lack of Bank regulation is over.

Labour have managed to nail a non ministerial advisor and the Tories have not nailed Brown and the rest of the motley crew.

trevorsden said...

They were silly things to say albeit partially correct.

But they were not really said 'in public' - as I understand it it was a remark to someone from The Telegraph at the Spectator lunch.
The fact that the Telegraph presumed to leak a private remark by him and also misrepresent it tells us all we need to know about the Telegraph.

Weygand said...

And the post by Michael Fowke makes my point.

How many others, whether motivated by prejudice or opportunism will be singing the same song?

gordon-bennett said...

Lord Young states that after 13 years of nulav rule ending in a recession most people are better off.

No they're not say red ed and angela eagle on behalf of the said nulav party.

Politics through the looking glass?

Newmark said...

trevorsden said...
"But they were not really said 'in public' - as I understand it it was a remark to someone from The Telegraph at the Spectator lunch."

Not actually 'in public' but he was being interviewed over lunch in a Parliament Square restaurant by a Daily Telegraph reporter.

DespairingLiberal said...

He used the phrase "so-called recession". What exactly is "so-called" about it? Perhaps you can explain Iain, because that sounds to me like there is some kind of view in high Tory circles that the international crisis was all made up. I wonder what other strange beliefs circulate in those illustrious brains?

Chris said...

As much as I normally find much to agree with in your musings, I do think that Lord Young's comments were somewhat impolitic. As shrewd a man as he is, he must surely know that many people have done very badly through this recession as well as many, who through a secure job & low mortgage rates have had done very comfortably. Why did he not think of what an impression his remarks would have? Sad because this government needs clever people!

bryhers said...

The dying embers of the Thatcher revolution

andreasmoser said...

I am not rich, I am not a businessman, I am not a Lord, but I agree with Lord Young on this one: I am tired of hearing the whining of people who have a house and a car and a pension. This is a welfare state, and nobody ever had to starve or die out of need. And the alleged spending cuts are no cuts really: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/uk-budget-what-cuts/

I have travelled many places, and one thing I have learned is that we Europeans moan and whine at a very high level. While others, who are truly in need, are forgotten by us.

A civil servant who loses his job and has to look for one on the free market with his experience, connections and references is not in a terrible situation. A farmer in Bangladesh is after a flood. Or a refugee in Kigali who doesn’t know where his family is.
Think about this, next time you warm up with a coffee at Pret-a-Manger after a protest in London.

trevorsden said...

So thats all right 'he' the Telegraph journalist says so.

Journos always so honest and selfless.

We have Witchel and the BBC currently saying that Charles has given an interview saying that he hopes is wife will become 'Queen' In fact the actual clip seems very far from that.

Unlike you I do not have your toughing faith in what the Telegraph says.
The Telegraph after bigging up the story and creating the row now says that Young should not have been sacked.

Tossers

Gareth said...

Leaving aside whether Lord Young was right or wrong I am surprised at the vast difference between Lord Young's speedy descent onto his sword and SirAlan after he said "Can't we get off this recession kick once and for all? I don't think we're in one now, ok?"

Well done Lord Young. Setting a fine example of what to do when you haven't chosen your words seemingly with enough care.

And imo he didn't. The recession isn't all bad and it was thoroughly demonised in order to ram through bank bailouts and justify a continued wasteful spending spree by a spendthrift Government. But if you're going to point out the benefits of a recession and low interest rates you can do it better than Lord Yound did. It clears the air in the way rain does. Badly managed companies go to the wall. Inefficient business is removed. The economy *will be* better off for having a correction than it would be if the bad investments and wasteful spending had continued.(Or rather, had continued at the rate they were. The bad investments and wasteful spending have been trimmed not stopped).

However, his opinion on mortgages may be wide of the mark. A lot of people have tracker mortgages but many of them track a bank's own standard variable rate not the Bank of England rate directly. As BoE rates were cut the SVRs stayed relatively high.

John Woodman said...

The fact he got wrong was "so-called recession". There was in fact a deep and lengthy recession. A fact the Tories emphasised last year.

And it was also a crass phrase to use; it shows a lack of judgement because it detracted from the relevant point he was trying to make.

Rich Johnston said...

This is what David Young got wrong;

"For the vast majority of people in the country today"

He should have said

"For the vast majority of people in the country I know personally"

Blue Eyes said...

Notice no further comments from Lord Pillock-Dale on this one. One might mutter "quelle surprise".

Hey Iain, sub us a million old boy? You can spare it. Or are you WRONG

M. Hristov said...

Amazing performance by Simon Heffer on "Question Time". He castigates Cameron for sacking Young after the Daily Telegraph published Young's incautious words. Heffer goes on and on about how Young is an old friend. If this is how Heffer and the DT treat an "old friend", I would hate to be one of their enemies.

neil craig said...

One of the Tes Minister episodes answers the question Iain by defining "political gaff".

A mistake is when a politician accidentally says something wrong & can be easily solved by apologising & admitting the mistake.

A gaff is much more serious & occurs when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Then he cannot withdraw it as an error because it clearly isn't. For this reason experienced politicians, of whom Lord Young isn't one, go to great lengths to avoid telling the truth, except when they are absolutely certain it will be palatable.

Hence the weaknes of our entire "democratic" system where everybody goes to great lengths never to tell the people anything.

Grand_Inquisitor said...

The problem with the Lord was that he was economical with the truth. The wider truth in this case is that millions are getting way below real market returns on their nest eggs just to subsidise those on inflated mortgages.

The word verification is appropriate "skinti"

johnpaul said...

The thing is if (we)Labour had won the election in defence of our cuts we would have said the same,(low interest rates are good for mortgages) THats hypacritical of my party

Derek said...

Lord Young was wrong on a number of fronts.

Firstly: We have had it so good, both for periods during Labour and the previous Tory administrations.

Secondly: The so good, he's referring to, is down to the aftermath of the recession, and can't be enjoyed by large sections of the working population, who're on restricted hours, fixed term contracts, uncertain future prospects, etc.

Thirdly: I'm fed up being patronised, yet again, by someone from Planet Politics. Lord Young, I seem to remember, was one of the many Conservative Ministers criticised by Labour when they were in opposition, for getting lucrative jobs with industries they oversaw.

Fourthly: The recession wasn't our fault. Gordon Brown and the rest of Labour boasted for years, starting from before they even took office, about his/their economic competence. With very few exceptions, the majority of our politicians just took the economy for granted, and ignored it until the recession forced them to belatedly take notice.

With complacent politicians, lazy regulators, and a finance industry, acting more like a bunch of bookies, who also like to gamble, it's the same old story, and we're left holding the bill. While all the people who caused it, slink off to nice pensions, titles and more taxpayers cash.

Derek.

geraldallen said...

Poor Lord Young, such an old doddery, naive innocent abroad out to lunch with the Torygraph(house magazine), recorder placed on table;follows Camerons instructions to be brutally honest.He tells it as a multi-millionare see's it, and gets the sack, at least he'll not be bothered it's only on the margin of error. I suppose he can always cry on the shoulder of the Wicked Witch of the West,if she can remember him.If he's struggling he can always pop in to the the House of Lords for his £175.00p per day+ allowances, to help him to survive.Compare the cost of his lunch £100.00p+, with weekly J0b Seekers Allowance of £65.00p and then you can see why he ca'nt see a recession.