Been running around all over the place, not seen the papers, nor heard the news, so unable to offfer much by way of comment on the Cameron cuts/pain strategy. Just remember one thing, however, about compassionate Conservatism, which is what he tried to emphasise in his campaign … the important word in that is Conservatism. The compassion gets laid aside quite quickly once power is won. Read the history books.
And just be aware that ‘things are worse than we expected’ (the deficit figures are not btw) is one of the oldest and least convincing tricks in the book. More anon.
Despite my last encounter with Andrew Marr getting a bit tense, I enjoyed Start the Week, and in particular meeting Burnley-born playwright Joy Wilkinson, who has written a short play based on Margaret Beckett’s bid to be Labour leader back in 1994, which is running as part of the Tricycle Theatre programme on women, power and politics.
We ended up, on and off air, discussing whether what Joy sees as Margaret’s ‘being somewhat written out of the script’ has anything to do with the fact that she is a woman. I’m not so sure.
Both Joy and Thea Sharrock, there to talk about the Terence Rattigan play she is directing at the National Theatre, felt that it seemed harder for women to get noticed in politics for their politics, and Joy pointed out that sometimes she got the sense that the men in my diaries behaved as often men perceive women to behave – histrionically (my word not hers).
As anyone who knows me is aware, I am a huge fan of Margaret Beckett’. I did not vote for her, either as leader or deputy, but I always admired her as a team player and someone who whilst not naturally New Labour always understood its importance and – as Joy captures in her play – TB’s broader appeal.
The other main character in the play is Clare Short and it is likewise no secret that I was never a fan of Clare’s. Indeed, as I record in the uncut version of the diaries, I was pleased when I heard Margaret had appointed Clare as her campaign manager because, as a TB supporter, I felt it would narrow her breadth and appeal within the party.
I feel that Clare is someone who in a sense reached a higher level in politics than her talents merited, whereas Margaret did achieve the heights she earned, whilst accepting that her lack of interest in personal profile for its own sake may, in the modern media age, have been a contributing factor in Joy’s argument that MB does not get the recognition she ought to.
But don’t forget that she was Leader of the Party between John Smith and TB, and occupied a large number of ministerial positions under TB and GB, including Foreign Secretary.
I was also chuffed to learn that Joy had used details for her play (with which Margaret did not co-operate btw) which she had found in my diaries, including one observation I never tired of making, namely Margaret’s habit of keeping a bundle of pens and pencils wrapped in a rubber band.
So it’s nice to see the diaries contributing to art and culture as well as politics. On which point, congratulations to the Thick of It team for their three Baftas. Given the whole Armando Ianucci spin thing started with his spoof Alastair Campbell column, which then morphed into Malcolm Tucker, I think it would not be unreasonable for them to give me a share of the takings, which I could pass on to the (cash-strapped) Labour Party.
I hope meanwhile they are now working on a coalition equivalent. There’s comedy in there aplenty if you look beneath the honeymood period headlines.
Enjoyed Start the Week very much today. Good conversation & great banter. Glad that your diaries are providing sound research material for future projects.
@AC “Read the history books.” These would be the same history books which state:
“The Problem with Labour is that sooner or later they run out of other people’s money”.
Any cuts that the coalition government make will be in order to clear up the mess left by Labour.
What a refreshing contrast it was to notice our classy new P.M’s dignified, understated, and somehow very British reaction to the Cumbrian tragedy last week, in comparison to the hysteria and breast beating we grew so used to at such times from the A.C scripted- Tony Blair.
Yet another example of how things are now getting better in this country.
No more Mr Nice Guy from David Cameron. He has delegated that role to Mr Clegg and his “caring, progressive cuts”.
It is nice to see that not all of us are cynics these days. 70% of people in Britain believe that cuts can be made without affecting frontline services. I wish them well!
Before I continue, please remember that David Cameron is a man who opposed the fiscal stimulus which saved British economy and jobs. He is a man who said that nationalisation of the Northern Rock would be a “disaster”.
And now he has the nerve to blame Labour for the global economic crisis which started because the Fed kept the interest rates too low!
Had David Cameron been in charge during the recession, Britain would back to the Stone Ages by now.
But I am glad that someone (DC) has finally started to tell the truth. Cuts will affect “our whole way of life”. But in the spirit of the age of austerity, Mr Cameron is still being economical with the truth.
Because of climate change, the only long-term alternative is a society without growth. It is time for someone to say this aloud. GDP per person must come down.
There is a movement called degrowth. It is based on environmentalist and consumerist ideas. It aims at downscaling of production and consumption. Maximizing happiness and well-being is the goal. It is against productionist capitalism which aims at accumulation of capital and commodities.
Degrowth movement is not the same thing as sustainable development.
It is better to have a deficit than depression. I believe that the economic policy of the Con-Lib government is wrong. Current policy of deficit reduction will result in downward spiral. Britain´s debt to GDP ratio is not a big problem.
Do not believe politicians when they say that there are no alternatives.
Ps. A good show by you again on Start the Week, my favourite radio programme.
Come off it Alistair, the cuts were always going to be hard no matter who was in power. Ask Alistair Darling! As for Margaret Becket I’m afraid she will always be remembered for the haughty way she tried to justify MPs expenses and being slaughtered by the audience on Question Time. Hope she pays for her own pot plants now! Clare Short let herself down by not resigning immediately over the Iraq War, but I still think she will still be remembered as a politician who stood by her principles more than any other. Like Diane Abbott, she was not everyone’s cup of tea but definitely not a yes man (sorry Harriet, Yes Woman). People respect that.
can’t think why you admire MB, she was the worst thing for british farming. Defra is a blot on the landscape. She was totally the wrong person for the job, and she made a right mess of it. Maybe not her fault? But as my gran used to say ‘she has a tongue in her head’ so she should have said it was beyond her capabilities. We are still paying the price for her input into agriculture. I haven’t seen the play but it could be a funny one to beat even the Thick of IT.
Having read Blair Years am interested in Alastair’s role in Kosovo Crisis. It seems he brought some sense and direction to what was at the time a failing NATO PR campaign. The ISAF’s Strategic Communication shortcomings of the current Afghan campaign are well publicised and it would be good to get Alastair’s perspctive on this as well as any observations he has regarding whether communication processes and practices used in the political arena might help NATO to get its side of the argument over. Am currently looking at this as part of my thesis at Cambridge. If Alastair gives an answer on this I will promise to buy his new book but I shall not shift my football allegiance from Blackpool to Burnley.
Charlie, your an idiot but carry on getting your political education from the Daily Mail while the rest of us live in the real world. These cuts are for idealogical reasons not economical, if you think anything else you are a fool, idiot and deserve to loose you job and home, the rest of us don’t though.
Could not agree more on Clare Short, even if she did win my admiration in the eighties for her fight against the terrible page three. More recently I have found her to care mostly for her own self-importance; truly a person who is happiest in opposition and found purpose in opposing the Labour government, instead of doing what was right. What went so wrong with you, Clare?
I did look up her attendance in parliament and it got progressively worse and worse during Labour’s time in office, until at the end, she barely bothered to turn up at all.
Great for the rest of us who didn’t have to put up with her so much, but not so good for her under-represented constituents.
Note yr interest in UK intervention in the Balkans. Worth remembering that, if the assertion that UK intervention in Iraq was illegal, then so was the intervention to prevent genoicide in Bosnia and Kosova…. and the intervention to halt civil war in Sierra Leone.
As for football loyalty, it is worth noting that SWFC did the double over Burnley in the yr they were promoted to the Premier League and did the double over Blackpool this season, before their promotion! I shall remain loyal to SWFC as we plan to tour most of the south coast – from Brighton to Plymouth – in our latest adventures.
Unlike many millions, you won’t be having any financial worries as a result of 13 years of wilful financial irresponsibility by your Labour pals!
Labour need to go on the attack, before the country are brainwashed by this nonsense about cuts. They should be all over the media on something like this.
And what of the Lib-dem’s? Why has Vince Cable suddenly lost the power of his voice? They were supposed to be opposed to the tory cuts. They will never be taken seriously again.if they don’t stop this happening. They’re becoming like their bedfellows; compulsive liars.
I remember not too long ago when the media would complain about spin and attack everything the Labour leadership said. But now with the new politics the government can run the most basic spin campaign and its lapped up by the media. For instance
Cameron states the debt is worse than we thought (even though the staistics qouted were pubilshed by Alistiar Darling months ago) and no questions are asked.
Cameron states the cuts are going to be really heavy (then when the cuts are announced they are not as deep as reported) no questions asked.
Clegg attacks Labour during the expenses scandal yet when Laws resigns in similar circumstances it is portrayed as an honoured stand for gay rights. This again happily accepted by the BBC and Sky. No questions asked.
This pro coalition bias in the media is in danger of effecting the nations ability to objectively discuss the forth coming cuts and the political landscape that will follow including welfare provision, global warming and aid to Africa. The broadcast media needs to allow Labour to put the opposition case fairly or risk a decade of monetarist economic policy and mass privatization of public services with no real discussion of the possible alternatives.
Having read your naive response to an earlier comment I would seriously suggest that you are the last person who should be calling anyone else an idiot.
If you really think that attempts to reduce a £700 billion plus defecit are purely ideological(note the correct spelling!)then you must,politically,be living on the planet Zog. I assume that any cuts that a Labour administration would have made would,in your eyes,have been for purely economic reasons?
Let’s face it,Rob,not even AC on top form would dream of attempting to defend your views.
I wish I could remember where I saw, recently, figures from an authoritative source saying that the deficit was actually many millions of pounds less than expected: still serious, but not at all as bad as Cameron now states. Also, I saw Digby Jones of the CBI on TV a few days ago giving a very upbeat comment on manufacturing. Jaguar in particular, has had a very profitable quarter and is ready to recruit new staff.
A small bit of spin to note: we’ve all seen Mr Cameron walking to work, and heard his instructions that ministers are to walk whenever possible instead of using government cars. Fine – but, as Sarah Vine, journalist wife of Michael Gove points out in today’s Times, the Red Boxes are always ferried in a locked car even if a minister walks. So it’s the old gimmick we had last time with Cameron bicycling to work – with the official car in tow.
I’m also looking forward to a coalition based Thick of It, although Malcolm Tucker can only be put to bed as a character when his muse becomes politically irrelevant. Given the brouhaha over Question Time it doesn’t look like its going to be any time soon does it Mr Campbell?
“….including one observation I never tired of making, namely Margaret’s habit of keeping a bundle of pens and pencils wrapped in a rubber band.”
A new insight into your depth of political analysis, Al. I am sure TB relied on your analsis when she was appointed as Foreign Secretary. God help us.