Posts Tagged ‘Cameron’

It’s Cameron, Osborne and Cable who are the enemies of enterprise

10/03/2011, 02:30:12 PM

by Hugh Golbourne

The small to medium sized businesses that I work with around the UK will have been more than a little confused to hear about David Cameron’s declaration of war last weekend on civil servants within his own government departments. The so called “enemies of enterprise” who are holding back entrepreneurs through red tape – for example, long winded procurement and planning processes.

It is not that Cameron is wrong to have pointed the finger at his civil servants. He is certainly right to identify them as the people who are holding back the economy. However, he is pointing the finger in the wrong direction. It is well known to all – except, it seems, to the man who lives next door – that the treasury has been captured by its senior civil servants. Graduates of the Chicago school of economics and the very product of the baby boomer generation, they assume that the British economy can continue to grow exponentially, regardless of global competition and Britain’s slide down the table of world powers over the past 60 years. (more…)

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Cameron: a Tsar is born? Or saloon bar prime minister?

07/03/2011, 03:00:30 PM

by Dan Cooke

Downing Street spinners apparently briefed this weekend that in future David Cameron plans to use his office to “act as a critic of the government” and speak “as a tribune of the people against the government when it gets things wrong”.

The prime minister recently “joked” to the Westminster press gallery that he is more a chairman than chief executive of the government. The response was negative commentary suggesting lack of grip, surely giving pause for thought about the wisdom of such remarks if not meant in earnest. Nevertheless, the suggestion must be taken as a significant indication of Cameron’s strategy for the rest of the parliament.

The prospects for success of any strategy of prime ministerial detachment from day-to-day responsibility for government depend significantly on which of two principal alternatives No. 10 has in mind.

First, the briefers hint at a desire to present the prime minister as elevated above the decision-making of his ministers, while intervening selectively to correct errors or chastise lack of progress. Such an approach might appear cunning in the mind’s eye of a strategist, but would be disastrous in practice (like a restaurant manager wandering into the dining room to taste the food after it has already been served, as one commentator has observed). (more…)

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Cameron’s brave boasts ring hollow: the Tories are failing to back British business.

07/03/2011, 09:17:34 AM

by John Woocock

David Cameron has faltered abroad of late because under him Britain lacks a coherent foreign policy to guide it, as Douglas Alexander cogently set out in the Observer yesterday.

But yesterday the prime minister’s incoherence spread to the home front. Cameron’s speech to the Conservative spring conference highlighted a weakness in his leadership and the government’s economic position that is worth dwelling on, beyond the two lines of rebuttal to which such orations are usually treated.

The foreign policy section of the speech bad enough. Was there really a single true blue activist in the Cardiff hall, never mind anyone in the rest of the country, convinced by the notion that the key difference between Labour and the Conservatives in foreign affairs is that we do “dodgy deals with dictators” while they are primarily interested in volunteering to build schools in Africa? And if any Cameroon speechwriters read Labour Uncut (They do – Ed.) let me help you out: if you are going to force that kind of absurd contrast on your audience, don’t then segue into a eulogy of Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy principles. Some would say she ended up being a teeny bit too close to a dodgy regime or two herself, as her friendship with General Pinochet and reluctance to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa showed (which latter Mr Cameron himself adversely criticised back in the days that he wished to project himself as a break from Tory tradition). (more…)

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You can’t take on the Taleban with a rolled-up copy of the New Statesman

28/02/2011, 07:00:41 AM

by Michael Dugher

The timing of David Cameron’s trade mission to the Middle East last week, during which he took a large delegation of business figures, many from the defence industries, was awful.  The government’s response to events in Libya and the wider region have been condemned as a complacent shambles. The prime minister, a former marketing man, tried to “rebrand” the trip when he should have known that he needed to remain in the UK to “take charge” and to manage the implications of the growing crisis.

The prime minister should also have had the judgement to know that it was not an appropriate time to be pursuing trade interests with regimes that had begun to attack pro-democracy campaigners in their own countries, and that the priority needed to be the safety and security of British nationals. Douglas Alexander summed it up best:

“I support the promotion of British exports and British goods; that is important to our economic recovery. But I think the last couple of weeks have been a very salutary reminder to David Cameron and to others that foreign policy embraces more than simply trade policy”.

And similarly Ed Miliband wrote in yesterday’s Observer: “Trying to pretend a trade mission for defence manufacturers and other businesses is a ‘democracy tour’ doesn’t cut it”.

But Cameron’s trip also sparked an avalanche of criticism from those, mainly on the left, who remain totally opposed to very existence of the British defence industry. Twitter, in particular, was alive all last week with angry tweeters denouncing the “arms trade” and the “arms salesmen” on board the PM’s plane. The list of major British defence companies who jumped on board the prime minister’s flight included Cobham, Thales UK, QinetiQ and – cue for an especially big boo and an extra large hiss – for that favourite pantomime villain, BAE Systems.  The list also included firms like Rolls Royce, Serco and Amec, all of whom have large defence interests. (more…)

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Carry on up the Suez: gutless and incompetent Tories bring shame on us all

25/02/2011, 04:30:59 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The epoch changing events in the Middle East, lest we forget, were precipitated by Tarek el-Tayyib Mohamed Ben Bouazizi. Just over a month later, Karim Medhat Ennarah, an Egyptian protester told the Guardian, with tears in his eyes, that:

“For 18 days we have withstood teargas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, Molotov cocktails, thugs on horseback, the scepticism and fear of our loved ones, and the worst sort of ambivalence from an international community that claims to care about democracy. But we held our ground. We did it”.

In the intervening period, the most that William Hague could do to respond to the beauty and bravery of these protestors was to mouth almost exactly the same measly words as Hosni Mubarak about an orderly transition. Britain managed to be dismissed as at best irrelevant, as Krishnan Guru-Murthy noted, both by the Mubarek regime and by those risking their lives to overthrow it.

Our Garibaldi, David Cameron, wasn’t content. He set off on a crusade for freedom. He was the first western leader to visit post-revolutionary Egypt. All very noble. But are arms really the first thing required in the birth pangs of democracy? And is the most fundamental right of British citizens not protection from indiscriminate violence? (more…)

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Peace in nobody’s time – Why David Cameron will come to regret his Munich moment

07/02/2011, 07:00:40 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The English Defence League marches through Luton and David Cameron pops up attacking multiculturalism. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

Tackling radicalisation and its root causes is enormously important, but blaming the right’s favourite bête noire, multiculturalism, is lazy and wrong. Wrong about the reality of multiculturalism in this country and wrong about what will make us all safer.

In Britain there are nearly 11 million people from minority ethnic communities. The minority population in towns across the Northwest, Yorkshire, the Midlands and Bedfordshire where there have been problems constitute a small fraction of the total in Britain.

In these areas, the muslim population tends to be from the British Pakistani community and numbers about 500,000, of whom the vast majority will be utterly opposed to extremism. The problems that Cameron was referring to are real but are manifest in less than 5% of Britain’s minority communities.

The reality is that in most of the country, people from different communities get along fine. No conflict, no protests, they just go about their business, day in, day out. Because it’s so prosaic, it doesn’t make the news. But it’s what happens. (more…)

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Only direct action can save us from Cameron’s Machiavellian Prince

28/01/2011, 03:00:42 PM

by Robin Thorpe

Machiavelli advises any aspiring Prince (or ruler; royal blood not necessary, although being related to the Queen can’t harm) to be ruthless from the day that he seizes power and “to determine all the injuries that he needs to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all, and not have to renew them every day, and in that way he will set men’s minds at rest and win them over when he confers benefits”.

The ruler should do this while his people are still getting used to his rule so that they start off fearful and learn to love him as he becomes more lenient. The lesson is that people do not mind being afraid if they are looked after and that things improve. If they improve, then it does not matter if they are not as good as before, as long as there is tangible improvement on the immediately preceding time. Machiavelli advises not to be timid or delay any acts of violence, but to inflict them once and for all so that “people will then forget what it tastes like and so be less resentful”. (more…)

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Ruthless, brutal, heartless: our attacks are music to Tory ears

15/01/2011, 10:23:16 AM

by Dan Hodges

The trouble with politics is there’s never a ragin’ Cajun around when you need one.

Ed Miliband has begun the New Year by springing from his corner with the speed and ferocity of Jake LaMotta. Cameron and Clegg have been pinned to the ropes as the punches rain down. VAT. Banker’s bonuses. Oldham. One killer blow and they’ll be eating canvass.

But something’s holding Raging Ed back. The final hay maker feels heavy in the glove. For some reason, he can’t quite put them down.

James Carville would know the reason.  Bill Clinton’s campaign manager had the answer to every political conundrum. And it was the same answer.  “It’s the economy, stupid”.

Ever since the graphic, “Conservatives retain Basildon”, flashed across our television screens that cold morning in 1992, Labour strategists have held one truth to be self evident. The party that is not trusted to run the economy will not be entrusted with running the country.

Bill Clinton’s election victory later that year confirmed it. For the first time for over two decades a progressive party had taken on the right, and bested them, by selecting the economy as their battleground. As we watch Barack Obama move to heal his nation, and look back wistfully at three consecutive election wins, it’s easy to forget the significance of that victory.

But some have forgotten. To them it’s no longer “the economy stupid”. Now, it’s “the cuts stupid”. Polly Toynbee’s “red carpet of opportunity” lies enticingly before us. As the Tory led coalition scythes through our public services a terrified electorate prepares to leap gratefully into the arms of their Labour protectors.

Possibly. The Lib Dem’s are already in free fall as a result of their cynical act of appeasement. The Tories cannot indefinitely defy the laws of political gravity. Ultimately, the cuts will take a toll of the architects as well as the victims.

But a word of warning: if we have learnt anything about this Government it is that their callousness is underpinned by a low cunning. Cameron and Osborne are not fools. They have a strategy. And we are playing to it.

Ruthlessness implies competence. Brutality; strength. Heartlessness; decisiveness. (more…)

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Ed needs to answer the question Cameron can’t: why does he want to be PM

22/12/2010, 03:00:01 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The front page of the Spectator Christmas special depicts Nick Clegg crushed between David Cameron’s foot and ice. This captures the conventional wisdom. Cameron is doing well out of the deal that created his government. Clegg isn’t; and Ed Miliband isn’t in sight. The Tories hover around 40 per cent. The Lib Dems have shrunk beneath 10 per cent. Labour leads these polls, but we are told that Miliband is insufficiently visible.

While Cameron may glide over the ice on The Spectator’s cover – just as he glided away from the bullets that Clegg took on tuition fees – this ice masks ideological differences in all three parties. The strategic questions are obvious. How should Cameron consolidate his dominance, Clegg recover and Miliband become more prominent? The answers, however, reveal deeper ideological fissures.

John Kampfner urges a bolder articulation of Clegg’s liberal beliefs in the face of the existential threat to his career and party:

“He has to produce a radical narrative that differs from the Tories’ ideological opposition to the notion of government as an economic actor, while maintaining his distance from the overtly statist instincts of Labour traditionalists”.

Clegg will campaign for AV, while his Tory ministerial colleagues defend the status quo. Kampfner demands, additionally, a full and distinctive articulation of liberal principles from Lib Dems in government.

The more principled Lib Dems have been thought those who stayed out of government, voted against tuition fees and who have been wooed by Miliband. Tim Farron leads this cadre from the backbenches, as Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, leads what Tim Montgomerie calls mainstream Conservatives. Kampfner wants Clegg to prove that Lib Dem principles aren’t the exclusive preserve of the backbenches.

For Clegg to do this he needs more policy wins to justify his cohabitation with Cameron. However, these wins would threaten liberal conservatism, the counter point to mainstream conservatism. As a Cameronian minister put it to Daniel Finkelstein:

“The narrative might easily develop that anything progressive comes from the Lib Dems, and that is very dangerous to us”.

Liberal Conservatives, like Nike Boles, want Tory/Lib-Dem government to last into the next parliament. Maybe they see more to like in Clegg than Brady. However, the Conservative brand may retoxify (assuming it ever fully detoxifies) if they allow liberal conservatism to seem only capable of delivering progressive outcomes in combination with Cleggite liberalism. The Lib Dem ideological renewal that Kampfner wants is not, therefore, without risk for Cameroons. Particularly if this renewal combines with louder and more organised complaints from mainstream Conservatives about dilution of Conservative principles on tax, crime, immigration and Europe, the need for liberal Conservatives to flesh out a principled argument for continued Tory alignment with the Lib Dems may become more pressing.

Two-party government is unusual in this country. Two parties clearly setting out ideological differences in government is more unusual still. The likes of Farron and Brady may sit on the same side of the House but they are sure to make ideological arguments of quite different flavours over the next year. Kampfner illustrates the pressure Clegg is already under to demonstrate the ideological consistency of decisions taken in government. Cameronian ministers may come to face similar pressure. How will they react?

In last year’s Spectator Christmas special James Forsyth wrote:

“The most important thing Cameron should think about over Christmas is why he wants to be prime minister. As the Times — normally favourable to Mr Cameron — opined last week, he has not yet conveyed a clear sense of this to the public”.

The failure of the Conservatives to win an outright majority shows that Cameron never managed this. Abandonment of Conservative principles is unconvincingly blamed for this by mainstream Conservatives. Cameron displayed agility in forming a government having failed to secure a Conservative majority. But it remains bizarrely unclear why he wants to be prime minister. It may be out of belief in the same things as Brady. It may be out of belief in the same things as Clegg. Or does Cameron stand for a liberal Conservatism that is distinct from both Brady’s mainstream Conservatism and Clegg’s liberalism?

He seems likely to believe whatever is necessary for him to remain PM for as long as possible. Undoubtedly, there is scope for Miliband – leader of the most ideologically united of the three parties – to make mischief. He should build bridges with disenfranchised Lib Dems. And encourage the disgruntlement of mainstream Conservatives.

But, first, this Christmas, Miliband should answer the question that Cameron didn’t answer last Christmas: Why does he want to be prime minister? He doesn’t want to be prime minister to make unhappy Lib Dems feel better. He doesn’t want to be prime minister to resurrect policies rejected by voters in May.

He wants to be prime minister to prove that Labour’s best instincts are in tune with the best instincts of the British people. That when the native genius of these people combines with the liberating force of Labour government, great things happen. Finding a way of successfully communicating this, and embedding Labour’s authenticity, is a more important strategic challenge than the tactical games of pulling at the ties that bind the Tories and Lib Dems together. This is, fundamentally, about ideology.

Jonathan Todd is Uncut’s economic columnist.

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Five tests for Cameron in Russia

15/12/2010, 05:23:07 PM

by James Watkins

We missed a trick in 1991 – and David Cameron will know this when he visits Moscow in the New Year.

Back in the early 90s the then US president, George H W Bush and John Major,  hunkered down in Downing Street, may not have publicly crowed at the collapse of the Soviet Union, but their actions spoke louder than their words. Though Russia joined the G8 group of wealthy nations, the lack of assistance fully to buttress the Russian economy led to a dive in living standards – rubbing salt into Russia’s already wounded pride.

This chain of events has led to the nationalism we see today, with Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, saying that Stalin was not all bad and that the Soviet collapse was a “catastrophe” while Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, deliberately made a show of visiting islands that are a bone of contention between Russia and Japan.

All of this is not the best backdrop to the British prime minister’s visit, but there have been some developments that have recently boosted Russian confidence.

NATO and Russia agreed this autumn to work together on anti ballistic missile defence. In April, the United States and Russia agreed on a major nuclear arms reduction treaty. The Russian government was able to extend its lease for its Black Sea naval port – thanks to a pro-Moscow Ukrainian government. Russian troops still occupy parts of northern Georgia which – superficially – gives Russia the upper hand in the region. And, as we all know to England’s cost, Russia will host the World Cup. (more…)

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