Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Readers of an advanced age will recall the lady who was always worried about Jim. I find myself afflicted by a similar concern except that I am worried about Dave.

I have already written of my suspicions that they returned to power with inchoate plans; mere bullet points on their scheme for the first 100 days. Now it is beginning to look as if they are quite flat-footed and unable to oppose the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fly at them on a daily basis.
In the headlines right now is the question of a newspaper that solicited news leads from a private detective who hacked into individuals' mobile phone messages. A police inquiry had led to charges and convictions involving a newspaper employee and a hacker back in 2007. All went quiet until revelations that it was still happening. The story grew slowly like a mushroom in prime compost. A number 10 employee resigned apparently because he had been an executive at the paper. We know from the news today that there is a body of evidence being investigated which may have very serious consequences.

Theresa May had obviously been given homework to complete after her daily electioneering duties. She announced radical changes to the police service quite soon after getting her kitten heels under the government front bench. Even to me as one who has been close to police but not of them, these appeared to be a total dogs dinner. Not just a dinner but one that was only partly digested before being vomited up. I cite this as an example of where the bullet-point was all they had.
But there is more. She - or those responsible for briefing her - should have seen the hacking investigation as a thunder cloud. She should have been all over it like STD on a Club 18-30 holiday. The resignation of Dave's press czar ought to have rung out like a fire alarm bell. Who knows how much better the government's reaction might look with the benefit of 10 minutes in a dark room with him before he surrendered his door pass.

There are other instances of proposals that may well have read well in the manifesto but which went astray when exposed to the public gaze. Despite the severe cuts in public expenditure, Cameron is handing out unbudgeted aid to regimes renowned for its corruption. The cynics will see this as a quid pro for the withdrawal of our troops. That is promised by 'the end of next year'. It is open for Karzai to plead for more or for the new military commander to advise that the place is not ready to stand on its own two feet. We appear to lose about 38 soldiers a year and many more condemned to a living death so an early withdrawal have benefits beyond mere money. The suspicion that Tom, Dick and Harry are being robbed to pay Tomaso, Ricardo and 'arry would seem to be well justified.

The rioting that followed the uni fees proposals could have been foreseen. The police action was accepted by the Commissioner of the Met as weak and was to be reviewed. Such action must surely have been expected when the posh Tories started to grind down the faces of the poor downtrodden workers. Mother Theresa again.

We had the 'You fight, I'll talk' episode. Liam Fox is having to defend the Strategic Review as being at the recommendation of the Service Chiefs, He now claims that their advice may have been tainted by their desire to defend their own arm of service. Why did he not know or recognise that at the time? The very first challenge to our reduced forces showed we have trouble effectively pursuing even a limited scope air war.

So, that explains my concern about Dear Dave. I have not even touched upon the NHS - that merits (but will not get from me) a blog of its own. No - enough here about the style.
Yet in the first year of the coalition Mr Cameron's leadership flaws have become all too apparent. He is convinced of the need to cut both the demand for and the supply of the state, but his lack of attention to detail is largely to blame for the government's botched reforms to the NHS and higher education. As Tim Montgom­erie, editor of ConservativeHome, notes on page 32: "Cameron's ministers describe his dismissive wave of the hand whenever a conversation becomes focused on the detail of an initiative."