Monday, August 02, 2010


How 'Brokeback' is the Coalition?

My use of David Davis's image of the former leadership rival's is not meant in any homophobic fashion- just looking for an image to head up my post. It's nearly three months since it was formed; so how's it doing? Well, much better than I thought it would I have to say. Which is not to say it hasn't got severe problems, if not right now but in the near future.

On the plus side I think are the following:

1. The Cabinet seems to have maintained unity, at least in public so far. I'm quite surprised at how well actually.

2. Cameron has been a success overall as prime minister. He is quoted as saying he wanted the job because he thought he'd be 'good at it'. And he certainly has the confidence and the Blairlike communication gifts. He doesn't get 10 out of 10 though as I say below however.

3. They have been clever at blaming Labour for the economic situation into government as well as when campaigning. This has helped them fudge the extent of the forthcoming cuts.

4. They have looked and sounded like a stable government to an extent which which also surprised me.

On the debit side:

1. Cameron has been good at speaking his mind when abroad and I liked his swipe at Israel- can you ever imagine Blair daring to say anything remotely as off message with the USA? However his jibe at Pakistan was not well advised. Pakistan does face both ways on Islamic terrorism because there are parts of its government which are not fully 'inside the tent'- one thinks of the ISI, Pakistan's extremist pentrated security service. But Pakistan has done much to fight its own Taliban and has lost many more young men in the process than the west. That's why Cameron's comments were poor diplomacy. He has been grandstanding to please hosts: Turkey ansd India. But he will find such tricks cut both ways and keeping Pakistan onside is more important then seeking economic deals with India.

2. Michael Gove has been a bit of a disaster as Education Secretary. First he announced a list of school building projects which turned out to be wrong causing much gnashing of teeth. His attempt at disarming honesty did not quite acquit him of incompetence. Next he exaggerated the number of schools said to be interested in becoming academies: only 153 rather than the hundreds he had claimed. Now he seems to have hugely over egged the number of schools interested in the new Swedish style 'free' schools. he had airily spoken of 700 such expressions of genuine interest but the actual number of applicatins has proved to be only 62. He could be the first of Cameron's close circle to be reluctantly dropped.

3. Trouble is brewing over the AV referendum, as I have written elsewhere. 45 rightwing Tories are rebelling against the legislation rquired to hold the referendum and, with Labour opposing it, perhaps opportunistically, perhaps not, this threatens to rob the Lib Dems of their 'pay-off' for supporting the awful Conservatives.

4. Huge friction is awaiting the announcement of the 30-40% cuts planned in the big departments. Duncan-Smith and Ken Clarke are spoken of as being potentially in the rebel camp over cuts intended in their departments.

So what is the overall judgement? Pretty good so far but only because the real brown stuff has not yet been propelled at the whirring instrument. I would still put money on the colaition being out of business by this time next year.

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