Posts Tagged ‘Plan B’

Osborne also needs a political Plan B

09/06/2011, 12:00:48 PM

by Kevin Meagher

“When the facts change, I change my mind” remarked the great John Maynard Keynes. Easy for economists. As George Bernard Shaw noted, if you laid them all end to end they still could not reach a conclusion.

Chancellors, on the other hand, cannot readily change their minds. They have to come to a conclusion; and then they have to stick to it. Their personal judgement is indelibly stamped on the government’s macroeconomic policy. They are locked into their strategies and directions of travel. Any deviation risks a fatal leaching of trust and credibility.

Of course, nothing changes with economic policy until it all changes. Which begs the question: does George Osborne have a Plan B in case the economy runs out of puff?

If he does, he’s not telling. Hardly surprising really; chancellors cannot be “a little bit pregnant”. It’s either one plan or the other.

Either way, Osborne is no slouch. He knows the economic outlook is precarious. And whatever else he is, the chancellor is a politician first and foremost. Economics – the dismal science, according to Carlyle – is a second order priority for him. He knows that the ice beneath his feet is thinning and he does not intend to sink.

If growth falters and requires a revision in policy, Osborne cannot afford for it to be on his watch. Although it would kill him to do so, he should heed Gordon Brown’s warning: there are two sorts of chancellor: those who fail and those who get out in time.


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Labour’s plan B: concede and move on, and more

13/05/2011, 07:00:33 AM

by Atul Hatwal

These are conflicted times for the Labour party. As the impact of last week’s election results has sunk in, two opposing camps have emerged.

On one side is the leadership and its loyalists. The official line is that the current strategy is working. In this interpretation, last week’s results were pretty good. 800 odd new councillors, an 8% increase in the national share of the vote and a Labour administration in Wales are indeed positives.

Not everything is perfect, ahem, Scotland, but things are basically going to plan.

On the other side are those unhappy with the current strategy. This is a big tent. In it, among many others, are Dan Hodges, Sunny Hundal and Rob Marchant and, based on his speech to Progress, Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary.

For this camp, last week was a disaster. At a time of unprecedented government cuts, Labour managed to lose the popular vote in both England and Scotland and virtually no Tory voters from the general election switched to Labour.

Plan A is failing and unless something is done soon, Labour faces a dismal return to the 1980s.

Cards on the table, I’m no fan of plan A. My own post last week puts me slap bang in the middle of the unhappy tent. But over the past week, reading the different despairing takes on Labour’s performance, one thing has leapt out.

There’s no plan B.

Not in the sense that we are doomed and nothing can save the party, but that the focus of analysis has been on why it went wrong rather than what can put it right.


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Sunday News Review

03/04/2011, 07:24:55 AM

Horror returns to Northern Ireland

A 25-year-old Catholic police recruit was been killed by a booby trap car bomb at his home in Omagh, County Tyrone, on Saturday. The device exploded under 25-year-old Constable Ronan Kerr’s car outside his home in Omagh, Co Tyrone, just before 4pm. The officer had only finished his training in December. He was getting into the vehicle in the residential Highfield Close development, off the main Gortin Road, when neighbours rushed to help him, some using fire extinguishers to put out flames from the explosion. He was the second police officer to be murdered since the formation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland out of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 2001 as part of the peace process. – Sunday Telegraph

Deadly terrorism returned to the scene of Northern Ireland’s worst atrocity yesterday after a young Catholic policeman was murdered by a car bomb in Omagh. Ronan Kerr, 25, who was was killed in the booby-trap blast  outside his home as he prepared to go to work, had only just completed his training. Last night tributes were paid to PC Kerr, who represented a new generation of officers trying to repair the image of the province’s police among the Catholic community. Last night Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin Guinness is understood to have visited Mr Kerr’s family. British Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘Those who carried out this wicked and cowardly crime will never succeed in dragging Northern Ireland back to a dark and bloody past,’ he warned. Their actions are rejected by the overwhelming majority of people from all parts of the community.’ – Mail on Sunday

Cameron humiliates Lansley over NHS reforms

Defiant Health Secretary Andrew Lansley yesterday ruled out a major u-turn in his NHS reforms – in a direct confrontation with Downing Street. He has faced a growing chorus of critics, ranging from medical organisations to MPs, and is even opposed in his own constituency. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg demanded substantial changes after a vote overwhelmingly against the plans at his Lib Dem spring conference. And PM David Cameron is now said to have accepted the need for “clarifications” on the pace and scale of the reforms. – the Sun

David Cameron will announce this week another humiliating climbdown, putting the brakes on the Government’s health reforms in a desperate attempt to rescue his reputation as a defender of the NHS. In the latest embarrassing example of the Prime Minister being forced to intervene in the policy of one of his ministers, Mr Cameron will publicly admit to mistakes in the plan by the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, to hand £80bn of health spending to family doctors, characterised by critics as privatisation by the back door. Mr Cameron will announce a “pause” of up to three months in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament, to allow for more time to reassure clinicians, patients and coalition MPs. One option being considered is a series of public meetings at which Mr Lansley would be forced to restate the case for reform in a less confrontational manner. – Independent on Sunday

Embarrassment for the Yes campaign

The “Yes” campaign, which is supported by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, was severely embarrassed after it emerged that it had removed the poet Benjamin Zephaniah from leaflets destined for the home counties, while leaving him in leaflets distributed in London. Mr Zephaniah is one of six celebrities who adorn a leaflet from the “Yes” campaign calling on householders to back the Alternative Vote in a forthcoming referendum on May 5 in which people will be asked if they want to change Britain’s voting system. He appears alongside Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Colin Firth, Honor Blackman and Stephen Fry in the leaflet which was delivered in London and which is signed by Katie Ghose, chair of Yes To Fairer Votes. However, in an identical leaflet sent to other parts of the country including Sussex and Cornwall the poet is not there. Only white celebrities are featured and Mr Zephaniah is replaced by a picture of the actor Tony Robinson. – Sunday Telegraph

Clegg likes Plan B, lets hope it’s not just his music taste

For the first time last night Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg held a Q and A in a cinema. The session was hosted by Capital at the Showcase Cinema De Lux in Leicester and more than a hundred people from Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham turned up. Capital didn’t just speak to the Deputy PM about politics though. The Deputy PM told us how much he loves Plan B‘s album, his secret passion for cartoons and his funniest moment in power so far….telling his son he wasn’t the Prime Minister. – Capital FM

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