I realise it’s still early in the game for this Government, but I’d like to offer everyone an insight now about Coalition legislative content – and see if it keeps on happening. With a bit of luck, it might turn into a self-denying prophecy.
The reason why, I suspect, the policy White Papers we’ve seen to date are such a bugger’s muddle of old polemics and fluffy new nonsense is a direct result of trying to please everyone from Norman Tebbit to Simon Hughes. A few steps further down the ladder, it’s an attempt to mollify ToryHome and LibDemVoice. It’s at this point that it gets silly – and pointless, because one winds up pleasing nobody.
Lansley’s health reforms are a dog’s dinner of ‘everyone’s an entrepreneur under the surface’, alongside keeping Big State bureaucrat-riddled hospitals….but starved of money. GPs are not entrepreneurs, and as service businesses they are and always have been execrable. And starving hospitals of cash will result in ward closures, not bureaucrats getting the push.
Gove’s education proposals are better, but similarly confused: take the schools away from local authorities and give the parents more choice….but do not attack curricular pc, or the fact that most teachers appear to have no calling beyond insisting that same-sex parenting is normal.
Theresa May’s attempt to elect people to police the police authorities already policing the police is perhaps the most bewildering oil-and-water job of the lot so far. Local power to elect commissioners and deselect Chief Constables (can anyone really see that happening?) sits side by side with getting everyone back on the beat in order to keep a beady on all those volunteer constables just gagging to restore the 1950s rough justice we all remember so well. I see no sign in any of this that pc careerist cynics and real criminals will be brought to book…..but I do detect right-on LibDem localism trying hard to shake hands with bobbies busy giving scrumpers a clip around the ear.
Economic policy as elucidated so far has wannabe nationaliser Vince Cable standing shoulder to shoulder with arch-austeritist George Osborne. But he is also standing nose-to-nose with David Cameron on the subject of economic immigration. There was the prospect of a graduate tax, and before that the concept of everyone not living in a dustbin paying a property wealth tax. Both these have disappeared, perhaps on the plane to India.
Talking of foreign policy, LibDem support for all things Islamic has collided with slavish Tory devotion to all things American. Thus we are pro Turkey, anti Pakistan, and on message in Afghanistan. The Tory Right wants to sell lots of things to India and the Cleggies want a liberal immigration policy, so this at least has culminated in an attempt to reduce doctor overcrowding in Delhi.
But the oddest policy area of all is at Energy, where nothing at all is emerging owing to the impasse between Chris Huhne’s desire for 230,000 wave pedallos, and implacable Conservative backbencher support for tree-fuelled nuclear reactors. Only the more surreal imagination can see any output from this, but even if we wind up with coal-fired wind farms, this will at least represent a policy decision.
There is a serious intent behind all this feeble satire, and it is this: only ten weeks in or not, the Coalition is producing legislation that is neither fish nor fowl – and more to the point, highly likely to be entirely ineffective in the real world.
A much better approach would be to give all the social posts to the Tories, and all the commercial posts to the Libdems. This would, at a stroke, solve the problem all real people recognised years ago: that social policy is far too fluffy and inclusive, while economic policy is much too elitist and greedy.
However, I cannot help feeling that in the current circumstances, what we really need before too long is another election, following which an extremely nasty Tory Government would be returned to power with a majority of 140. The voters now instinctively when things have gone too far for fluffiness, and I will once again – against my better judgement – put my trust in them.