Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shooting from the lip: another day, another dodgy Conservative policy

I have, in the past, commented on the weakness of Conservative Party policy making. Putting aside for the moment their tendency to deal in gut reaction responses to often quite difficult problems, the suggestion that, were they to be in government alone, they would be minded to remove the right to housing benefit for those under the age of twenty-five, is a sign that their instincts remain suspect.

It often appears with Conservative policy that it is made by, and for, the upper classes, and the notion that people don't live orderly lives out of Conservative Party central casting appears beyond their comprehension. It is almost as though someone has a bright idea, it is examined by a group of similar people through the prism of their own life experience, and then broadcast without any concept that the real world isn't like that.

In the world of Conservative policy making, everybody comes from a nuclear family, where mummy and daddy have a spare bedroom for each of their children, where family life is sepia-tinted, and where domestic violence, poverty and unemployment don't exist.

So, from that perspective, the suggestion that housing benefit might be withdrawn from the under 25's makes perfect sense. After all, in such a scenario, nobody gets hurt, and the State is freed from the burden of supporting a group of people who actually have somewhere safe and cheap to go to.

I won't tear this policy to pieces - too many other people have done so already for me to add much - but, once again, it demonstrates the advantage of a more robust policy making structure, the like of which Liberal Democrats still cling precariously to. And it is noticeable that, where Liberal Democrat Ministers have gotten into trouble, it tends to be when they have gone 'off piste' on a matter of policy.

However, as an attempt at differentiation, I have to admit that it has worked. There can be no doubt now, although the Left will doubtless continue to muddy the waters, that the Conservatives would make far more painful cuts than anything the Coalition is doing, given the opportunity. And given that the cuts are pretty painful as it is, it perhaps does put the cries of Liberal Democrat betrayal into perspective...


Don't Call Me Dave said...

Can we please stop all this nonsense about coalition cuts. The National debt continues to rise and public spending remains completely out of control. In Opposition, Boy George warned against printing money, but has continued with this policy knowing that it will stoke inflation. This is hugely damaging to the economy (and those on fixed incomes) but it is a cheap way for governments to pay off debt by making the currency worthless.

I really don’t think the LibDems can assume the moral high ground on policy making. How did that policy on tuition fees work out? The Conservatives are the largest party in parliament, yet the party which came third is constantly interfering with the will of the people. The only consolation is that the LibDems will be annihilated at the next General Election.

Mark Valladares said...


Alas, you fall into exactly the same trap as your friends in government, confusing process with outcome, and forgetting that the two are mutually inclusive.

A defined outcome is all well and good, but without a workable process through which it can be achieved, it will not be reached except by accident. Conservative policy making is done by a very small, unaccountable group - and by unaccountable, I mean unaccountable to Conservative Party members and activists. Liberal Democrat policy making is more inclusive, includes party members and activists in the design phase and requires debate and approval at our Federal Conference. It is therefore more likely that key weaknesses of process will be revealed before we try to impose them on an unsuspecting populace.

If you stopped trying (and, by the way, failing) to be clever, and started using your intelligence, you might appreciate the difference. Conservative Party activists do, as noted by that well-known bastion of wet, fluffy Conservatism, Conservative Home.

And as for cuts, they're painful if you're on the receiving end, even if, overall, cuts in public spending are not as you (and I mean you personally) would wish them. But, as someone who is rather better off than most, any cuts in public spending are more likely to benefit you than hurt you. You can argue all you like about Labour's creation of a client state - and I'd agree with you in terms of Gordon Brown's cynicism - but as you unpick that, individuals get hurt. Some of them you might define as 'undeserving poor', but you'd better believe that others are just unfortunate and vulnerable.

And finally, on the question of tuition fees, again, you confuse process and outcome. The policy was sound, but undeliverable in coalition - you'd better ask your mother why that might have been. And given that, for every three votes your mob won, ours won two, it's Not so much the tail wagging the dog, as the legs walking the torso about.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

You seem to think I am a member of the Conservative party. I am not. My mother's views are her own and it is typical of the contemptuous dirty tricks so beloved of LieDems that you have drawn her into this discussion. I will not correspond with you further. I have been patronised by far better people.

Mark Valladares said...


I referred you to your mother because she clearly has a far better idea about how politics works than you do. And if you really can't come up with a better argument than the school playground 'LieDems', then you're out of your depth and sinking fast.

I'd stick to the easy targets that are Brian Coleman and the Conservative Group on Barnet Council, if I were you...