The politics of vow-hail-vow:

It leaves us with a mess, but sees them through

For weeks now, George Osborne’s brain, along with seven of his best truth-benders, have been hard at work trying to think of a new name for Plan B. The fruits of their labours can be seen in the Daily Telegraph this morning: it is Plan A+++.

Entirely free of irony, the Torygraph reports that the New Plan ‘will stick to the Government’s original commitment of putting debt levels back on a sustainable path, but also focus on growth measures.’ So while I think we can all see the plus-plus-plus points of this New Mark II Plan, I am moved to ask why the Mark vehicle I was launched without wheels.

This sort of bollocks started off by being funny about ten years ago, then became irritating, and now leaves me with uneasy feelings of fear and pity. But I’ve decided after some consideration that there is now a universal dialectic to Western government, and I call it vow-hail-vow.

The Government concerned vows to do the impossible during an election. At the first sign of any data anywhere suggesting it might not be a complete disaster, the new policy is hailed. Then, when it goes tits up, the men at the top vow to see it through.

Seeing it through is a sort of Churchillian version of sticking doggedly to a direction that clearly isn’t working. When told that Greeks are having to get up before they go to sleep in order to have nothing to do earlier and then take a 90% pay cut thanks to austerity, Angela Merkel says they must show some character and see it through. Indeed, she vows that she will ensure they see it through: she is forced to vow, because earlier she hailed the policy.

It’s all quite simple when you get down to it. As Muammar Gadaffi began to wobble and then topple, David Cameron decided the time was ripe to vow that Britain would support the rebels. When the rebels won (having shot Gadaffi and then dragged him through the streets) the Prime Minister hailed it as another victory for The Arab Spring. Now that those left out have killed the American ambassador, William Hague is vowing that justice will be done.

When Tessa Jowell vowed to end Britain’s drinking problem by making it easier to get pissed, one monthly report followed in short order showing that there had been no increase in pub-related violence. The lack of violence was caused by every drunk in Britain being horizontal, but Tessa took the opportunity to hail her policy. As A&E admissions doubled and the number of pubs closed by the police rose by 30%, Ms Jowell vowed to wait and see. Very New Labour, vowing to wait and see: it was the follow-on from John Major’s ‘in due course’, but with less of a time limit.

Boris Johnson knows a scam when he sees one, and has been quick to use this approach in much of what he does…or rather, claims, as the two are often distant relatives. His grand London bicycles scheme vowed to cut car and tube traffic, and the minute more than two bikes had been pedalled from one staging point to another, BoJo hailed the initiative as a resounding success. Within months of that, Mayor Johnson was vowing to export and expand the scheme, even though by this time cracks were beginning to appear.

The cracks are still there. As – despite the shoal of spitting curses I got from bike users the last time The Slog posted about this – are the facts. In January of this year, a leaked Transport for London report declared that ‘the novelty has worn off’ and that satisfaction levels with the mayor’s bike hire scheme were lower than those for any other transport mode.

It later emerged that many docking stations spend eight hours a day with no bikes in them. Then in July, there were calls for Barclays to be replaced as the sponsor, following the discovery that most of Boris’s mates from Bob Diamond downwards had been swindling the nation for the last five years.

To date, I haven’t seen a single study showing any evidence at all that London has been unclogged, or Tube travel made more bearable. There is a simple mathematical reason for that: The bus network can carry 6.5 million people a day, the tube 4.5 million, but there are only a few thousand Boris-bikes. The last study I read condemned the scheme as ‘unreliable and nothing more than an amusing curiosity for tourists”.

So look out for it at a politician near you: vow, hail, vow. In particular, keep your eye on the new Health Secretary, for he is made for vow, hail, vow. As a methodology it is, after all, a punt using a stunt created by a *unt.

23 thoughts on “The politics of vow-hail-vow:

  1. “To date, I haven’t seen a single study showing any evidence at all that London has been unclogged”
    That’s because it hasn’t been unclogged. Studies show that the reason is other bodies working at cross-purposes.
    At the same time as the Congestion Charge was trying to reduce traffic numbers and speed up traffic flow, the pedestrian-friendly groups were installing more traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, pedestrian areas, longer pedestrian signal delay times, etc. etc. The result was that the reduced amount of traffic was flowing just as slow as it was before the Congestion Charge.


  2. Not too sure you’re right about the Boris bikes. Lots of people use them and are very pleased with them-quick, and cheap. Anecdotal-obviously.


  3. Yes but they are now making shedloads of cash from the congestion charge (which was the original unspoken reason for introducing it)


  4. There is absolutely no reason for any well bodied person to drive in central London. As a Londoner it would never even cross my mind that driving to the West End was in any way a sensible thing to do and I have had that view for the 35 years that I have been driving.

    I would be happy for the C charge zone to become a special vehicle only area, but then where would revenue come from?


  5. John if you are still in a position of having to watch daytime TV may I urge you and any other Sloggers to watch the following free 2 hour movie instead. It will be time very well spent. It is very informative about the world in which we live!


  6. ‘William Hague is vowing that justice will be done’.

    I thought it just had been done. Too bad it wasn’t Sarkozy and his running dog mate though.


  7. Your “uneasy feelings of fear and pity” should not be ignored.

    Not only is the country slip-sliding further and further into debt, it is fast returning to a point of being ungovernable. The middle classes, the back-bone of any civilised society, are losing the faith. They are being asset stripped and at last realising that they have been stuffed by incompetent politicians whose sole raison d’etre was to line their own pockets. Look at the Greg Barker story today. He should be resigning immediately and his ‘climate change’ department shut down.

    Elseshere what many have known for a long time is now becoming mainstream: that the police and corruption are never far from each other (Hillsborough, New International, Ali Dazai); that the promise not to cut front line services was simply a lie; that the NHS is a disaster waiting to happen; and that Labour really did fcuk the economy beyond repair.

    Most people I know have no idea who to vote for any more, because the people in office have simply hijacked democracy. We are in an age of soft-despotism, which others have described as statism bordering fascism.

    Any word from phony Tony ? The Middle East peace envoy? The EU President wannabe? The anti-Christ ‘convert’ to Catholicism who doesn’t actually believe in the teachings of the One True Apostolic Church? Can’t he come back a save us…..?


  8. William Hague – you mean that gay school-kid who has been making a fool of himself in public since he was aged about 16 ?

    What’s he going to do about it ? I thought he saw his role now as an overseas sales rep. anyway?


  9. # Kit Green

    ‘I would be happy for the C charge zone to become a special vehicle only area, but then where would revenue come from?’

    That would be easy, make the existing zone electric/pedal power only (make city centre taxis electrically assisted rickshaws) and put a ring around it (an annulus) that contains the same number of miles of roadway that becomes a new congestion zone.

    (obviously Government and one percenter Zils would still be allowed inside the exclusion zone)


  10. The fools have seduced themselves into thinking that perception is the cause of reality. There’s a name for people like that….. it’s ermm, wait a minute….. it’s ummm…… stupid! That’s it, stupid.


  11. Totally agree with with your observation that no one knows who to vote for, the choice is lamentable. A refusal to empower the “big three” once again leaves UKIP, Greens or abstention. On the grounds don’t vote don’t moan abstention is out, seems to me Mr Farage may do better than expected when the time comes.


  12. “There is absolutely no reason for any well bodied person to drive in central London. ”

    Unless that well-bodied person
    a) lives in London and needs to travel out of London
    b) is driving a delivery lorry
    c) is too unwell to travel by public transport
    d) is travelling late at night when public transport is closed or too (criminally) dangerous.
    e) has to transport large, heavy or bulky items across, into or out of London


  13. Vow..Hail..Vow?

    – A party makes a manifesto promise and VOWs to abide by it.
    – The party reneges on that promise and fall in a HAIL of bullets from a disgruntled populace.
    – The remaining parties VOW not to make the same mistake.

    Truly, if I was as bad at my job as the government is at theirs I would get the sack. These cnuts just seem to get bigger and better rewards the worse they are.

    Please someone tell me that I am asleep and that when I awake it will all be a bad dream!


  14. ‘Jim Rogers: QE3 Will Make the Fed “Look Like Fools Again”’


  15. Spot on JW.
    ‘Greece will need another bail-out, according to Thanos Catsambas, an IMF alternate executive director speaking to the Wall Street Journal:
    Greece will require additional financing, which may take the form either of official-sector involvement or of additional loans, hopefully on more favorable terms.’


  16. I would not say the politicians were incompetent. Focussed on their own personal gain, yes. In that (alone) they are very competent. See Tony Blair and more recently, Gordon Brown. Sadly hardly any politician is interested in the good of the UK as a whole, but then perhaps they never have been.


  17. Corporate money, corporate Water, corporate electricity, corporate gas, corporate food, corporate health, corporate police, corporate politicians……
    Like Blade runner or Hunger games!


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