David Cameron faced a binary decision at the back end of last week over the Big Society. Did he throw in the towel over a concept which is being met with rising suspicion and hostility? Or does he go out to bat for the idea, putting his own credibility on the line?
It’s an interesting insight into Cameron’s character that he hasn’t dumped the slogan at the first wave of trouble but has instead decided to stay the course. He will today make a speech defining his own political philosophy as the Big Society – which effectively lashes him to the mast. We may not know for some time whether this is a great idea or an ill-conceived error. Read more
One problem that Defra has over its forest plans is that many potential stakeholders aren’t as keen as Caroline Spelman had originally thought.
When I was first told about the plan a few weeks ago, I was informed that the Woodland Trust was typical of the charity which would be keen to take on the “heritage woodland” which would be spun off into the Big Society/voluntary sector – while the privatisation of the “commercial” pine forest went ahead. Read more
I wrote in yesterday’s FT that the cost of getting a dozen more elected city mayors could be up to £15.9m: Is this an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money at a time of such severe financial austerity?
Meanwhile the mayors are likely to be paid double what existing council leaders get. The idea is that expensive chief executives will then be removed, saving money; but this raises two further points. Read more
Actually, Vince was far from celebratory on this morning’s Marr Show when discussing the bank-government talks which concluded last week. He was asked whether he agreed with his friend Lord Oakeshott, who had claimed the Treasury “couldn’t negotiate its way out of a paper bag“. The answer was far from a ringing endorsement of the deal*, which left most banks free to pay whatever bonuses they like to their top traders:
and in our friendly discussions, I mean what I’ve suggested is that the glass is half full rather than half empty, and that some of the most important things in the discussions on the banks this week took place outside the Merlin Agreement