Tag Archives: george osborne

U-turns inspire little confidence in Cameron

I don’t quite understand anyone who praises the latest U-turn by our government, saying it shows that the coalition are listening to voters.

I would much rather have a government that actually knows what it is doing, and has confidence in itself. One that is able to deliver a Budget that is thought-through enough that the things it contains can come into fruition.

Not one that is so hapless and unsure of its own ability that it is willing to drop policies all over the place at the whim of an opinion poll or a few angry journalists. David Cameron’s PR background is showing through more and more, with evidence stacking up that all he really cares about is opinion polls, not what is best for this country in the long-term.

Even those who are natural supporters of the government are beginning to realise just how serious and damaging this behaviour is.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, says in his latest Telegraph blog that the sense of mission is draining away in Downing Street. “I gather that even Mr Cameron has started to wonder where his Government is going, and has been asking aides what his legacy will be,” he writes.

He later adds why this is particularly worrying: “Each U-turn may be trivial in itself, but there is a cumulative effect. They serve to devalue the word of the Prime Minister and, worse, the credibility of the Chancellor.”

So I for one am not happy about the latest U-turn, on this occasion delaying the rise on fuel duty. The majority of the public do not have available to them the insight to research and other key data and analysis that the government does. And if the government genuinely believed this policy was for the best for this country then it should have stuck to it, no matter how unpopular that decision may have been.

Of course, the other possibility is that there was not the meticulous planning behind this policy that there should have been before it was announced. And then subsequent research found that it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Clearly, both of these situations are far from ideal, and I would hope for a lot better from a government – the supposed leaders of our country.

By Sophie Hudson

Minimum alcohol pricing will not be enough

So, after a disasterous budget, in which the chancellor George Osborne managed to upset just about everyone other than his stock broker and Tarquin and Hugo down on the Kings Road, the government is now proposing a minimum alcohol price for England and Wales. 

(Side note to the Sun about its budget coverage: it’s no good feigning utter outrage on behalf of all your valued readers now. You were largely responsible for putting Osborne and Cameron in charge of the nation’s finances. What on earth did you expect from a Tory government?)

The alcohol news is conveniently timed to say the least – given the general reaction to the budget. But to be fair it is probably a sensible strategy – although I’m not sure how much difference it will really make.

If people want to get wasted on some kind of a substance – be that alcohol or drugs – they will, often regardless of price. There is a binge drinking culture in this country that businesses, young people, middle aged people and some old people often take full advantage of, and it is heavily engrained.

It’s acceptable, no more than that, it is actually normally seen as funny and entertaining in this country, when someone stumbles around drunk, yelling stupid things or falling over their own feet.

Elsewhere this isn’t so much the case. I was recently in Italy, and on nights out the atmosphere in clubs was very different to in London. Yes, young people were drinking and having a good time and dancing until the early hours, but there was a nuanced difference to the way they were doing this.

It, generally, wasn’t a case of people downing as much as possible to get trashed as quickly as possible, but instead most were enjoying a more sensible level of drinking, while they chatted to friends and danced for hours on end.

If you exit one of these clubs and find a local shop that sells wine, you can find bottles of the stuff for just as little, if not a lot less (and they taste a lot better) than you can in shops in the UK.

So I don’t think the government’s minimum pricing will necessarily harm the situation, but by themselves these types of measures are not going to make much difference. It’s a slow cultural change that is needed, and for that to occur all of society, from parents, to schools, to businesses need to play their part.

I can’t help but worry that the government’s new agenda by itself will do little other than further line the pockets of big supermarkets.

By Sophie Hudson