Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Dumb Political Decisions R Us (cont'd)

NCC got a mention in the mother of parliaments today in a classic demonstration of how not very good politicians turn themselves into a political football.

At Prime Minister's Questions today, Ed Milibean asked a perfectly reasonable question about the horrendous cuts to local government using a Tory council as an example of the hollowness of the government's claim that frontline services should not be affected. DavCam responded thusly (from Hansard) -

"The Prime Minister: Yes, we have made reductions in local government grant, because frankly we inherited a complete mess in the nation’s finances. What we have done is ask every single local authority to make public every single bit of spending they do so that members of the public can make sure that they are cutting bureaucracy, cutting councillor allowances and cutting pay, rather than cutting services. When the right hon. Gentleman gets to his feet, perhaps he can tell us why only one authority in the entire country, Labour-run Nottingham, refuses to do so."

Now by any standards that is a crap response, any idiot can see that. But political point scorers home in on the 'only one' and 'Labour run' aspects, shout 'yah boo sucks!' very loudly and Cameron gets away with it.

Now I'm strongly in favour of this initiative to publish local government spending because I'm a big fan of accountability. I accept it's flawed and that most people will be able to make only limited use of the data but it's a start. What's more I fully agree that it perhaps isn't the most important issue facing local government, although that in itself is no reason not to do it. However, Ed M was raising a serious point about a tory council shutting 13 of 16 children's centres and one council's (and probably one man's) belligerence allowed DC to avoid the issue entirely.

I wonder if the Labour party's national office is right behind JoCo's principled stand.

Update - some increasingly desperate sounding tweets from the man himself here and here.

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