Having taken Peter Ainsworth to task for his relative anonymity in his Shadow Environment brief HERE, I was delighted to see the front page of this morning's Telegraph, where he is calling on Environment Agency bosses to pay back their bonuses, which were slipped out in a parliamentary answer last week.
This is two days in a row that Tory spokesmen have driven the debate on the front page of the country's most important Tory newspaper - yesterday it was Chris Grayling on the cuts in the drugs budget. The summer heat campaign on Brown has got off to a good start.
DIRECTORS ( Tory stalwarts )… To pay their bonuses back…..isn’t that a very Socialist approach and principle. What ever next will Billy Bragg be at the next Tory conference.
Odd idea as well. After all they can't - in all fairness - be held responsible for the weather..
One of the Tories main problems at the moment is their whole approach to the media. This is exacerbated by their fixation with getting columnes solely in the Tory press - ie. Mail and Telegraph. These two papers do not control the agenda between them. Your previous comments on Ainsworth not working the media were absolutely right. They need to get out and speak to everyone. It doesn't matter that the paper in question does not support them; to win they have to address the nation not just their typical supporters.
It is a good start and it is essential that the impetus is maintained right through to October. Yes it will mean hard work, but that is what the front bench team signed up for.
As James (above) points out, the Tory message needs to reach further afield. But I am confident it will do so as long as momentum is maintained and we focus on government failures, the ever present spin, buried bad news and broken promises.
Performance related pay isn't socialist, it does however depend on whether they could have done things better or if it was out of their control, either down to the weather or government policy on flood defences.
Billy Bragg be at the next Tory conference.
Only is its in Dorset the white flight haven where 0ver 80% go to church in which the multiculturalists has made his Dickensian rose covered abode .
What a creep Bragg is When it comes to stupid names the mother of them all must surely be Charter88 , the British pressure group that advocated constitutional and electoral reform.It took its name from Charter 77 - the Czech dissident movement co-founded by Václav Havel and included Salman Rushdie and Pinter and various arts luvvies like Bragg who use to have a good old whine about their grants in Pubs around Islington Green .The real thing ( 77) was just a teeny bit more serious being an artist revolt against a brutal Communist regime. Several means of retaliation were used against the Czech signers, including dismissal from work, denial of educational opportunities for their children, suspension of drivers' licenses, forced exile, loss of citizenship, and detention, trial, and imprisonment. Many members were forced to collaborate with the communist secret service.
Consider the loathsome sense of self importance of Bragg and his preening pseudo rebels and the development of financial opportunities driven by profile raising left wingery continues.
Now he has become the Daily Telegraphs pet red , selling his disgusting gaudy baubles to any buyer as ever .He has consistently promoted the failed multicultural experiment and advocated a cod mystic working class solidarity even claiming lineage with working and and Mystic Genius William Blake as a fellow Londoner.
He is a fitting emblem of the hypocrites and vaccuous poseurs that typify leftwing comment he could nmot wait to leave London and its melting pot .
I expect Chris Paul has all his records..
"will Billy Bragg be at the next Tory conference"
Equally one might ask if he will be at the next New Labour conference. After all, they have done so much for (or is that 'to'?) the working man - a class that Mr Bragg clearly wishes to associate himself with.
Well that was a really clever cheap jibe from Ainsworth....NOT
If his Environment cabinet ever gets to see the Light of day, it's going to have a great working relationship with the heads of the Environmenet Agency. Isn't it?
Both the CEO and the Chairman of the Environment Agency are Labour Placemen with no obvious qualifications on their CVs for the post. At least Lord de Ramsey the last CEO was a farmer in Huntingdonshire.
The point is that they were given bonuses for their long term work with the agency. Since it has now been demonstrated that this long-term work has not had the long-term effect of mitigating the floods, prima facie they do not deserve the bonuses they have been given.
It is nothing to do with a 'Socialist' approach, merely that they are undeserving of such largesse which is a 'Tory' approach. Do the business = reward, don't do the business = no reward.
These really are a pair of very weak stories. Tories are suggesting that:
Contractual arrangements for civil servants should be reneged on because we have had some 60-year rainstorms.
Delivery and budget arrangements for tackling drugs - improving lives should never be changed.
These really are Lib Dem-esque in their profundity and stupidity. Has Norman Baker changed sides?
Actually, scratch that, though he is a maverick he would not suggest reneging on an employment contract.
Andy Coulson: must try harder.
Listen to yourselves again..
Imagine that the localised floods hadn’t happened. What would you be talking about; what policies or initiatives would Cameron be trying to communicate to the public…Yeap..nothing !!!. He has to continue his quest to inject some human DNA in to the average Tory instead of getting on with what really matters - creating policy. Reacting to the government’s record on their inability to stop the weather is very weak indeed. So what’s the angle you are forced to pursue, the pathetic morale high ground harping on about directors bonuses; that is like trying to damage as tank with a snowball. There is a complete vacuum at CPHQ and this is why a disjointed, incoherent and reactionary messages rule the day.
Two posts by the anonymous "Jim", and I don't understand either of them.
Is it me or is it him? Discuss...
Iain, bring back the "media mentions" info.
"Tory spokesmen have driven the debate" - one of your best jokes yet Iain, glad to see some of the advertised humour coming back to your blog at last!
If this feeble bit of blatant opportunism is the best your mob can manage then Gordon should be set for a landslide next Spring.
Contractual arrangements for civil servants should be reneged on because we have had some 60-year rainstorms.
No CP just calling attention to the failure of the environmental agency as did the all Parliamentary Commitee months ago and reports commissioned by the government and then ignored . As the New Statesman said ,given the recent cut in funding in the teeth of all advice can you imagine what the Press would have done to Blair . What they should be doing to Brown is the answer and the Bonus is a convenient way to point out the failure of Browns administration without saying the floods were his fault which clearly they were not . The preparation or lack of it was and is symptomatic of the delivery failures that have bedevilled even quite good ideas within their own Socialist doctrinal framework like tax credits
Pulling out another little maggot with an unearnt bonus is something you could do non stop for weeks if that was the only point , no harm in it though. Surely you get it ...a little ?
Jim- See above you miss the point. In fact Supply of Jim very much exceeds demand in general
Am amazed fer once to find meself in agreement with Iain AND Newmania (his first post, not the Billy Bragg rant, which I'm sure will make BB laugh his ass off when he sees it).
The Tory attack on the flood czar bonuses and the demand they be returned is one of the few sensible pieces of propaganda issed by ANY representative of the Tory Pary in quite a long time.
BUT Jim also has a point, in that it's unwise to rely upon Acts of God (even when exacerbated by the Folly of Man) to drive yer strategy. One swallow does not a summer make . . . and one effective PR hit is not a strategy.
HOWEVER speaking of PR am a bit puzzled, Iain, that you've posted nothing (at least not yet) on Gordon Brown's trip to Washington (the disreputable district, not my beloved state!).
JUST by changing the tone from buttsucking lapdog to staunch but self-resepecting ally, GB is I believe making BIG points on both sides of the Atlantic.
BY WAY OF CONTRAST, just heard yer shadow Defense Secretary Gerald Howarth being interviewed on National Public Radio about the Brown visit. What a hoot!
For one thing, he made a point of using phrases like "sticky wicket" which are NOT calculated to have a favorable impact on an American audience . . . unless of course you're running for Upper Class Twit of the Year.
THEN he talked about how the well everything was going for the British in Basra because it was such a "quiet" sector! Well, everythings relative, I guess . . . but don't think THAT clip would (or will) sound so postitive to a British audience.
FINALLY he concluded (to an NPR audience mind you, which on balance is even more leftwing than I am) by TAKING CREDIT for the Tories for providing the votes in Parliament to sustain Tony Blair's assinine backing of the Cheney Administration's criminal stupidity and incompentence.
WHERE do you guys find lunkheads of this caliber? And WHY do you let them open their fool mouths in public, at least as YER spokesmoron?
There is a broader point that could be drawn out of this, if the Tories had the wit. It is a fair point that governments should honour employment contracts, but who designed these contracts? Bonuses should reward skill or effort in achieving goals which might not otherwise have been achieved and which make a real difference to the organization if achieved. Who included bonuses for meeting meaningless, misleading, subjective and sometimes suspect targets? How well-designed are targets that suggest that the EA are performing well, given their numerous, highly-visible failings? (About as well-designed as all the Government's other targets.) If it comes to that, is it possible to design rational performance-related incentives for civil servants, or are bonuses inappropriate to these jobs? Answer: the latter.
This episode is a beautiful illustration of this Government's incompetent blurring of the line between public and private, incomprehension of the difference between the two, and complete lack of management skills and commercial nous. If you could combine all their practical experience into one person, you'd get the equivalent of a junior management trainee in a provincial bank. The criticism should be not that EA managers took a bonus to which they were entitled, but that some fool in government offered it to them in the first place.
Baroness Young is an appalling apologist for a dysfunctional organization, but the Tories ought to consider not only whether she is the appropriate target in this case, but also whether it serves their purposes better to attack her or the Government. But of course, it's very difficult to criticize the use of management techniques imported inappropriately from the world of management consultancy, when that's all you really know about management, and you're planning to do more of the same yourself, because you claim that the problem with government is that it's badly run, rather than impossible to run effectively on account of its size.
Gordon is vulnerable to attack as an incompetent managerialist, but for that attack to be credible, the opposition has to position itself as anti-managerialist. That means committing to more that just "sharing the proceeds of growth" as a means to shrink the size of government. It means stating overtly that government is too fat, sticking its nose into too many things, trying to calculate things it can't and shouldn't calculate, and running things it shouldn't run. It means disclaiming the use of inappropriate tools from the commercial world in the properly bureaucratic management of those things that it should be doing. It requires a public commitment to making cuts and changes to the way government is run. This was an opportunity for the Tories to show that they, unlike the Government, understand the difference between the public and private realms, and they fluffed it.
Those who think that the EA's success in meeting their targets justified the terms of their managers' contracts and the awarding of performance-related bonuses might be interested to know that, amongst their 42 claimed "successes" were:
* influencing planning decisions in relation to development in the floodplain,
*offering an appropriate flood warning service to properties in the flood plain,
*getting more people to take their advice on flooding, and
* delivering their flood risk management programme.
For purposes of calculating their success-rate, they had ignored 14 of the 17 targets for which they had not recorded a success. Very few of their targets were appropriate measures by which to judge their performance. And treating this as simply a quantitative issue ignored the fact that one significant failure (e.g. failure to hold down emissions of priority pollutants) can weigh more heavily than a dozen insignificant successes (e.g. a minimal improvement in their racial diversity, or the putting in place of various plans or bureaucratic systems). This was a paper-pusher's dream, but a practical manager's nightmare. Lucky they didn't have any practical managers around then.
The full account of the inanity of these targets is over at Picking Losers, as is a poll on whether the targets and bonus-payments were appropriate.
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