A U-turn every three weeks: Government’s 32 major policy retreats in two years
In the two years since the general election the Tory-led Coalition has been forced to retreat on 32 major policies
Thus today’s Daily Mirror, which proceeds to list ’em in full:
Those u-turns in full
1 Rape anonymity, July 2010
PLAN to give defendants rape case anonymity dropped after outcry.
2 Selling off the forests, Feb 2011
SCRAPPED plans to privatise state-run forests after public backlash.
3 Vanity photographer on the public payroll, Nov 2010
Cameron gave his election snapper Andy Parsons a civil service post. Removed after Mirror story.
4 No under-5s school milk, Aug 2010
RETREAT ordered after uproar over the announcement.
5 Scrapping Bookstart, Jan 2011
PLAN to cut funds to charity which gives children free books dropped.
6 Axing of the Financial Inclusion Fund, Feb 2011
Fund gives debt advice. Stopped after “devastating impact” alert.
7 Housing Benefit cut for jobseekers, Feb 2011
No 10% cut for those jobless over a year.
8 Immigration target policy, May 2011
ELECTION vow to cut it by tens of thousands a year now an “ambition”.
9 Coastguard cuts, May 2011
PLANS to close 18 stations shelved.
10 Circus animals ban, June 2011
THERESA May said no to it. After backbench revolt, it was yes.
11 Reduction in BBC World Service cuts, June 2011
FOREIGN Secretary William Hague finds money to save channels.
12 Support cuts for disabled in care homes, Dec 2011
OSBORNE cut in Disability Living Allowance gone after a year.
13 Chief Coroner axe, Nov 2011
TOO dear, said PM. Reversed.
14 Automatic jail for having knife, Oct 2011
LAW says it will “normally” happen.
15 Military Covenant in law, May 2011
MINISTERS wanted it watered down. Now law.
16 50% jail cut for rape guilty plea, May 2011
Out after Ken Clarke gaffe on “different types” of rape.
17 Youth Justice Board axe, Nov 2011
DROPPED from Tory quango cull.
18 Scrapping Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Nov 2010
OSBORNE cut in spending review, then May gives them go-ahead.
19 Surprise Ofsted inspections at schools, May 2012
Education Secretary Michael Gove says they will not be introduced.
20 Child Benefit cuts, March 2012
IN 2010 Osborne targets £45,000 a year earners. In last budget impact limited to £50,000 to £60,000.
21 Video games tax, March 2012
2011 plan to scrap relief on them gone year later
22 Granny tax, March 2012
IN 2011, age-related allowances to rise. Now relief axed for four million OAPs.
23 NHS targets axe, Nov 2011
LABOUR 18-week waiting time target back this year.
24 Joint Strike Fighter mess May 2012
Flight-deck launch fighters for aircraft carriers out. Labour’s original plan for vertical landing jets back.
25 Plans to recall MPs, May 2012
PLEDGE to let voters “recall MPs” not in new Queen’s Speech.
26 Secret Courts, May 2012
Green Paper plan for inquests to be held in private axed.
27 Pasty Tax gone, May 2012
No VAT on them after all.
28 Caravan Tax, May 2012
Plan for 20% VAT on static caravans slashed to 5%.
29 Church repairs VAT, May 2012
No VAT now. And extra money found.
30 School sports cuts, Dec 2010
GOVE reversed move to cut funding for partnerships.
31 Forces cuts, March 2011
HMS Cumberland, RAF Nimrods and Sentinels saved.
32 Aid, May 2012
VOW to make Labour commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas aid not in Queen’s Speech.
Which all, somehow, brought to Malcolm’s mind the bad old days, when the Blessed Margaret had no alternative and Britain so enjoyed the Thatcherite smack of firm government.
They don’t make Tories the way they used to.
BREAKING NEWS: The government makes a policy u-turn on how to control buzzards.
A bit of background there, thanks to George Monbiot at the Guardian:
David Cameron must have been having a laugh when he made Richard Benyon his minister for wildlife and biodiversity. In a previous post I explained what appears to be a crashing conflict of interest. Last year, Benyon, inheritor of a vast stately home and a 20,000-acre walled estate in the south of England, as well as properties elsewhere, managed to get planning permission for a sand and gravel quarry. It was fiercely opposed by conservation groups, on the grounds that it will damage wildlife and biodiversity. But his latest act suggests something even worse: that he is using his department’s budget to subsidise the class and culture to which he belongs, at the expense of both taxpayers and birds of prey…
Pheasants, which are an exotic species in the UK, are bred here in large numbers to be shot, generally by and for some of the richest people in the country. They are reared in pens, then released into the countryside. People then pay a fortune to line up in a field, armed with shotguns, while an army of beaters works its way through the woods towards them, driving the pheasants into the air and over their heads. This activity is classified as “sport”…
Woods where once as children we could freely roam are now filled with blue plastic pheasant feeders, and anyone stepping into them is quickly rounded up and ejected by an angry man on a quad bike. Pheasant pens seem to be springing up everywhere, as the money flushing through the City is spent on the traditional pursuits of the ruling class.
We don’t know what impact this might have on our native wildlife. Every year some 40 million pheasants are released. They scour the woods and hedgerows for invertebrates, seeds and seedlings and compete with native birds and other wildlife, but the impacts have not been properly quantified. Nor do we know what effect the beating and shooting of other wildlife might have, nor do we have a clear idea of the scope of illegal killing of predators and other wildlife by those who manage the shoots.
But none of this seems to be of interest to Richard Benyon’s section of Defra. Instead of defending the wildlife and biodiversity from pheasant shooting, he appears to see his role as defending pheasant shooting from wildlife and biodiversity. His department is about to spend £375,000 on capturing buzzards and destroying their nests to see whether this reduces their consumption of young pheasants (or poults). The buzzard is a protected species, whose continued survival is one of Benyon’s responsibilities.
Or, as they used to say around the Holkham Estate: Up goes a guinea, bang goes sixpence, and down comes half-a-crown.