There was bound to be a hiatus
The kissy-kissy phase of a honeymoon is no time to snipe: the happy couple are too preoccupied, and too many onlookers go gooey-eyed anyway. Even so, Harriet Harman has landed the odd low blow.
Then there is need to devise a new rhetoric
The delight of the present Labour leadership race is that the runners and riders get opportunities to edit scripts. What finally reaches Broadway is rarely what opened:
To change the metaphor, Ed Balls may be gaining the punters’ nods , but they’re still betting, and wisely so, on a Miliband win. Malcolm’s original choices would have been either of the two non-runners:
- Jon Cruddas shrewdly ruled himself out, on the grounds that he is a constituency rather than a Whitehall man. He has still a long way to go to deliver his potential.
- Yvette Cooper gave way to her husband, proposing family commitments, but is clearly the spare to whoever is heir. But, oh, she is an effective interviewee for media appearances. Watch this space.
The stirrings of new opposition
The generality of the British media, taking its cue from what is thought to be the public mood, gives the ConDem government a fair wind. There is grumpiness among the usual suspects: Michael White in the Guardian keeps coming the old soldier. His time will come again, never fear.
Less predictably, the strongest criticism, the most penetrating critique is found elsewhere … in the Financial Times.
So, today, there are two very sharply-worded commentaries:
- Philip Stephens in Political squalls before the cuts get serious bites chunks out of the Treasury’s machinations over the Office of Budget Responsibility, then has another gosh-oh-golly observing Michael Gove’s continuing roadcrash at Education.
Short of a pontifical demand that “the Minister must go!”, there can hardly be a dismissal more brusque than:
One of the first rules of government is to get the facts right. Michael Gove, the education secretary, got them badly wrong.
The impression of incompetence is damaging …
- Meanwhile, Nicholas Timmins is less than enthused by the doings at Health:
A policymaker’s dream. A pragmatist’s nightmare. That has to be the verdict on Andrew Lansley’s white paper “Liberating the NHS”, published on Monday.
Again, hidden in the text, a stinging put-down:
Yet in a dirigiste decision that smacks more of old Labour central direction than anything else, the Conservative health secretary has decided not to allow GP commissioning to evolve into something demonstrably strong and effective but to require that all GPs – whether willing or not – do the job or acquiesce in their colleagues doing it for them. All in one big bang.
Where Gove is a proven incompetent, Timmins sees Lansley as:
a man with a plan in a hurry, [who] risks losing both financial control and performance.
Ask any patient who has had dealings with the NHS and the experience will have been, with few exceptions, a good one. At the street level, then, the thing works. Politicians and commentators obsess about its structure. For why? The answer is with the aforementioned Michael White’s headline:
Andrew Lansley’s £80 bn adventure
The show must go on!
There is a reason why a show “tries out” in the stix with the hix:
Four weeks you’ll rehearse and rehearse,
Three weeks and it couldn’t be worse;
One week; will it ever be right?
And, out of the hat, it’s that big First Night!
In UK politics there is no “try-out”: it’s instant First Night with the full panoply of critics in the stalls.
And each and every night. And matinees.