Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brown's New Politics: Let's all Jerk our Knees

And there was me thinking that Gordon Brown wanted a new sort of politics. Labour's reaction to IDS's report on Social Breakdown today proves that nothing has changed. Rather than welcome the report as a contribution to an important debate, or even, heaven forfend, to talk about some of the issues raised in the report, Labour's Andy Burnham responded thus...
This is a con from David Cameron because despite his warm words, he does not
have the money to pay for his proposals. Today's report follows the Forsyth
Commission, which proposed GBP21 billion in tax cuts and now we have billions of
extra commitments. Once again we see a Tory party making incredible commitments based on sums that simply don't add up.

Oh change the record. How is it possible to engage in rational debate when politicians come up with fatuous knee-jerk responses like this? Burnham must know that none of the proposals in either the Forsyth report or the Duncan Smith report have been adopted by David Cameron. He has made no commitments yet, so there are no sums to add up. Not a good start to his cabinet career.


Anonymous said...

Burnham is one the biggest idiots in government. I have yet to hear him make any coherent arguments on any subject. He was savaged by paxman the other week.

Hughes Views said...

Heaven forefend - pointing out that IDS's tax and spend nanny state proposals don't add up. What an awful thing to do...

Anonymous said...

"He has made no commitments"... Says it all. We are unable to comment on Tory policies because they have none.
When an ex-leader reports from a Conservative Policy Group (set up by his leader) - It is Conservative Policy until The Conference/The Leader/Mrs Thatcher, or whoever comes up with something else.

Anonymous said...

browns spin is unravelling fast. the excellent EU referendum site coninues to expose the bl;atant lies told by Brown himself on the subject of teh EU treaty. Cameron can demolish him at PMQs with this latest evidence that sovereignty is being handed over completeley to the EU.

Brown is trying to con parliament and the public by appearing to give parliament more power and "restore trust" when he is secretly working to do the exact opposite!

Anonymous said...

"Burnham must know that none of the proposals in either the Forsyth report or the Duncan Smith report have been adopted by David Cameron."

Whats the point of them or the rest of the so called policy reviews then. Or the conservative party for that matter if all they can do is come up with policies they arent going to use.

Anonymous said...

Quick. Quick. Change the subject. Talk about something other than Shapps the Plonker.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Livingstone is also belittling this piece of work today.

His headline is: "Mayor rejects tax discrimination against single parents, cohabiting and same sex relationships".

The BBC was doing its bit to contribute to the general leftist rubbishing of the report this lunchtime on the World at One by replaying Major's "Back to basics" soundbite.

Anonymous said...

Brown in a whole

A stopped watch tells the right time at least twice a day.

Even a spinning top is the right way around at least some of the time.



We have swiftly and undemocraticaly moved past the age of socialist spin into straight forward, in your face, imobile, Orwellian, authoratarian socialist double-speak.

This does make working out what Gordon Brown has in his mind, very much easier to understand then what was in Tony Blairs confused schoolboy one. As you so rightly observe.

He does the EXACT OPPOSITE of what he and the BBC lets you believe he will do.

Anonymous said...

They all do it. I'll wait until the next policy announcement from the LibDems or Labour I'm pretty sure some Tory will poo poo it.

I like IDS, let's digest his suggestions and get some policies to throw at Labour - if they agree that's not going to be interesting is it?

Anonymous said...

No use looking for rational contributions to this debate on the left. They are tribal. Have you ever tried to discuss taxation with a liberal? It's like trying to cuddle blancmange.

Anonymous said...

""He has made no commitments"... Says it all. We are unable to comment on Tory policies because they have none."

Too many comments like this. That's because they'll be ready in November, when they've been debated and adopted.

donpaskini said...

Hi Iain,

I'm actually interested in the report, and welcome the debate, though any report which has over 40 unfunded spending commitments is going to be criticised in this way. The report raises lots of questions - here's just a few for you or anyone else who is interested in debating the issues raised:

Would be interested whether you support the report's idea of increasing spending on welfare benefits by several billion pounds (as a lefty I do, though I think that the suggested recipients are not the ones who need it most), and whether you support hiring hundreds of 'Home-School Co-ordinators' at 31 grand each (sounds like a load of Guardian Society-style jobs to me - again, I like, but would be surprised if your party went for it), or issuing a load more directives to head teachers while complaining that they have to put up with too many bureaucratic regulations.

Also interested in what you make of the figure that the divorce rate has fallen by 15% since 1992 (cited in the 'Family Breakdown' section), and how that relates to the suggestion that families break up because of the lack of support from the tax and benefit system.

Do you agree that state-provided childcare should be closed down because it competes unfairly with the private and voluntary sector (could be unpopular with parents, seems based more on dogma than on helping families), and what do you make of the idea that lone parents should be encouraged to go to work because it is important for children to have parents who work, but married women should have more opportunities to stay at home and look after their kids rather than go to work?

I don't believe that the analysis in 'Breakdown Britain' will get anywhere near tackling the problems in the UK today, because it is not evidence-based, but is instead based on a very particular kind of Christian conservatism. But there are probably some good ideas, so how's about a thread for rational debate of the subject, without comments which are just scoring points (there's plenty of other threads for that, after all).

Tapestry said...

Brown's efforts at rebuttal against IDS are pedestrian. That's good for the Conservatives Iain.

When under pressure, Brown cannot mount a counter-argument very quickly or even at all. His main tactic is to rerun old arguments, which repeat his old cliched mantras.

Blair reinterpreted reality every day to provide whatever he needed to sound good. Brown does it once every twenty five years. We were up against the hare. Now we're up against a slug.

Anonymous said...

I think Cameron could be on to a winner here if he lets it run.

All he has to do is to invite discussion and let Labour try to close it down and stifle debate.

He needs to have it discussed in newspapers and to set an agenda so even the BBC has to take note.

Just let Labour do its usual stunt...it would be worth getting a lot of coverage in Hull which has a large single parent population and anger at Labour - Prescott's seat must be up for a by-election soon.

This can run and run and keep Gordon on the back foot - he spent £14 billion pa of our money on creating this shambles of tax credits which leave so many claimants exhausted in telephoning the Revenue; and yet still writes off £6 billion in unrecoverable overpayments.

There is so much you can build around this policy - you cover Education, Law & Order, Taxation, Benefits, Housing, Family Courts,--it is super.

Labour has to defend the status-quo and people hate it.

I thought Cameron sounded very reasonable and I am no fan - but he might have that sliver of glass to pierce Labour to the heart if he plays this card well

Anonymous said...

Also interested in what you make of the figure that the divorce rate has fallen by 15% since 1992.

Be careful to distinguish between first-time divorces and remariied divorces divorcing.

Since the marriage rate has fallen divorces may also have fallen because marriage occurs later...but separations are what matter not divorces since a contested divorce can take 5 years to come through.

The issue is however whether the taxpayer should give a higher standard of living to a non-working single parent with several children than one with a working parent and an intact family......it is the old question of whether the taxpayer should make it uneconomic for people to have a job

Anonymous said...

Paxo made Burnham look like a cretin on Newsnight.

He seems determined to consolidate his reputation, too.

Anonymous said...

Is not the fact that David Cameron has "made no commitments yet" on any area of policy a fact worthy of comment? How on earth is the Conservative Party in any sense a party worthy of government when it does not actually have any policies?

Iain Dale said...

David, that is not worthy of you. As I wrote in the Telegraph last Friday, the Conservatives have a lot of policies in all different areas. But as you well know Cameorn is not making concrete policy from these policy groups. They will all be reporting over the next 8 weeks, this will be followed by a period of debate up to the end of October and by that time he will decide which aspects from the policy commissions to endorse. A very clear and transparent and sensible way forward

Anonymous said...

"Cameorn is not making concrete"

How WILL we get those hundreds of thousands of new homes then??

Anonymous said...

No it's not. It's a way of trying to test the water while being able to distance the party from anything which is unpopular. Cameron wants, understandably, to postpone the day he finally has to show his hand for as long as possible, because while it remains hidden, he hopes voters are projecting on to the Conservative Party the policies they personally want. He can only disappoint them by announcing a definite policy.

The Conservative Party does not have any policies.

Chris Paul said...

Sounds like fair comment Iain. Particularly given that there are by-elections on and the last thing Burnham can afford to do is let those electorates get conned by a load of proposals for things Tories generally vote down ...

Not a knee jerk. Just a 2+2=4 thing. Lots of spending commitments. Lots of tax cutting. Big hole in the economy.

Anonymous said...

I agree Iain. This remark was reported on R4 news this evening and I thought, "Why do we have to hear this nonsense every time the Tories come out with constructive ideas?". It's always at the report stage too, before it's been considered by the party and naturally before anyone commenting has troubled to read it. Besides which there is ample evidence to suggest the Labour government hasn't spent all that extra tax revenue wisely (even before you consider all the borrowing).

The way the BBC presented this was quite poor - the newsreader said something brief about supporting evidence for the Conservative view, then reeled off four quotes criticising the plans... not just the spending stuff, but how this is an affront to single parents, marriage is declining etc. etc.. I'm getting sick of it; is there no room for reasoned evidence-based argument any more?

At the same time I wondered whether, were this a Labour plan, we would have heard more than a single quote in opposition (i.e. from the Conservatives)? Seems unlikely to me.

Geezer said...

A very clear and transparent and sensible way forward

Very true. The problem is that, whatever The Conservatives say or however they want to present their ideas or policies, they have to rely on 3rd party media outlets to reach the majority of floating voters, with the BBC leading attacks on whatever they say and generally misrepresenting and undermining them, They present the Conservatives the way Labour want them to be presented, they have done for decades! Added to that the general lack of support for the Conservatives in the MSM, and getting any sort of message across to the wider electorate is very difficult when it has to pass through the filters and firewalls of their enemies.

Old BE said...

Indeed it is still not fashionable enough to be a Conservative for the media to give the party a fair hearing. Publishing potentially controversial policy reviews especially in areas where the Labour party can use their "nasty party" attack seems like shooting oneself in the foot.

Anonymous said...


"Brown's efforts at rebuttal against IDS are pedestrian"

Give IDS and Cameron enough rope....


Spot on. Except I'm not a "leftie". I'm sort of middle right Labour.

Anonymous said...

The standard NuLab attack:
If money is to be spent - the plans arent costed - tax rises!
If money is to be saved - Tory cuts!
Then pick one detail to try and split the party - ie civil partnerships

Apparently by 7.30am, BBC Breakfast had "been inundated with emails" [from Labour HQ no doubt] saying that the ideas weren't costed, and did they include civil partnerships? - no doubt to try and cause a "gay-gate" from the Tory right

like a stuck record

Anonymous said...


"Brown's efforts at rebuttal against IDS are pedestrian"

Give IDS and Cameron enough rope....


Spot on. Except I'm not a "leftie". I'm sort of middle right Labour.

TaxCutter said...

If only the Tax Reform Commission's recommendations had been adopted ....

Iain, I agree with the vast majority of your views, but do you seriously believe the Cameroon run party will allow serious debate of these reports given their views on tax cuts, the grammar school fiasco, the A list (officially abolished, unofficially very much still there), trying to pick non-Tories for Mayor etc?

The Cameroons don't like us rank and file party members; after all they've never been part of the rank and file. And Dave, who wrote the policy-free 2005 manifesto doesn't much like policies either.

Alas and unfortunately, I share Dave Boothroyd's concerns.

Anonymous said...

Iain if Labour had come up with a report you would have bashed and discredited in exactly the same way as Labour is doing. This is politics.

On another matter didn't IDS vote against sure start, the most important and effective social programme of the last 10 years?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, I would like to think you are wrong on the first point. There are some issues and reports that merit proper debate without the kind of knee jerk reactioN Andy Burnham has given. Sure, on occasion I am prone to the odd knee jerk reaction myself, but not on a really important issue like this.

I don't know how IDS voted oN Surestart.

Steve_Roberts said...

This is one example of how politics is ill-suited to dealing with serious issues. From an engineer / business mindset, we start with the facts that define the problem, that is the things that are bad in themselves such as crime, addiction, unemployment, and poverty. We then look into the causes, and here is there are usually multiple causes and some room for argument about their relative significance. Then we proceed to devising solutions for the key causes, in the expectation that these solutions will strongly impact the facts constituting the problem. Labour ministers by contrast seem to operate by two principles, firstly, they know the solutions to every problem - current shibboleths being high taxes, high benefits; state control; feminism - and secondly any proposal arising from the opposition is a threat to be fought by every means at available, regardless of whether the facts are true, the causation logical, or the solutions valid.

I personally do not agree with raising alcohol taxes as a necessary part of dealing with social breakdown, but if we have agreed on the fats of the problem and identied the causes driving them and are only disputing the precise solutions we have come a very long way down the road towards the answers.