Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We're all gannin' "darn sarf!"

"Ee were a grand baker, were our dad..."

A remarkable piece in today's Telegraph about a report from David Cameron's favourite think-tank Policy Exchange.

Apparently the Tory boffins have concluded that it's all too hopelessly ghastly "oop North", and the best that can be achieved now is for us to leave our whippets and pigeons behind and decant to London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Let's leave aside for a moment whether those cities would want three million extra housing units, a sizeable proportion of which would have to be in the green belt. Particularly as we still keep coal in the bath.

And, difficult though it may be for southern policy wonks to understand, actually the vast majority of us love living in the North, having a quality of life which far exceeds the miserable South East.

What's telling is what this report says about the metropolitan Tories' instincts towards the great former industrial cities. Cameron's Notting Hill set had ambitions to make significant political progress in the North and North East, but generally have failed to make their mark. Ironically, Sunderland, picked out in the report as one of the places we should be fleeing from, has one of the healthier Conservative groups. This report has given my Labour colleagues plenty of ammunition to use against hapless Tory candidates at the next elections.

For as the introduction to the report states (thanks to Iain Dale for this)

"Ministers in the current Labour Cabinet overwhelmingly represent inner city areas. A future Cabinet, perhaps more representative of suburbs and the wealthy South East, may not have the same commitment to high levels of regeneration funding, particularly if economic circumstances demand a squeeze on public spending."

So vote Tory, and see the plug pulled on regeneration schemes across the North, or in fact anywhere which hasn't bought into Cameron's slick brand of Conservatism.

Policy Exchange has, I think, rather let the cat out of the bag.


More misery for David Cameron and local Tories in the Northern Echo's leader column this mroning. It concludes,

"Mr Cameron was left with no option but to distance himself from the report. compiled by what has been widely reported as his favourite think-tank. After all, the "abandon the north" message is hardly in keeping with his new, all-inclusive, cuddly form of Conservatism.

But the storm which has blown up by Policy Exchange has served as a reminder of the way regions such as the North East were shamefully neglected under previous Conservative administrations - and how a decade of regeneration under Labour has made a tangible difference.

Indeed, Mr Cameron's comment during a visit to Carlisle yesterday that "Conservative Party policy will continue the good work of regenerating cities right across England" sounds suspiciously like an endorsement of the Government."

Update (2)

Final word - there's a long, worthy piece by various outraged northern writers in the Guardian today - Stuart Maconie quoting Tennyson, you know the sort of thing.

However, can I recommend the always excellent dailymash which has definitively nailed the story...


Paul Cain, New York said...

In November 2007 another think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, called for Christmas to be banned because it offended non-Christians.

The IPPR is New Labour's favourite think tank. A brief look at its membership reads like a who's who of the New Labour project.

Was the IPPR 'letting the cat out of the bag' - or simply doing what think tanks do - chewing over ideas that one day may, or may not, become policy?

And isn't that precisely what Policy Exchange is doing?
New Labour dismissed the IPPR report out of hand - and this afternoon David Cameron called the Policy Exchange report 'insane'.
So what's the difference, Coun Wallis?
You didn't blog, in November, on the IPPR report - I've just checked your archive.
So we've no idea what your thoughts are on the banning of Christmas, and the wider attack on British values that that implies.
So come on, tell us: are think tanks a good idea or a bad idea?
Should we take them seriously, or ignore them?
Or should we only take some of them seriously and ignore others, as you, Coun Wallis, appear to be doing?
Man, you're beginning to sound desperate.
I see you've another by election, this time in Glenrothes coming up.
Looks like I'll be running up another celebratory bar bill in New York some time around the middle of September.

Anonymous said...

Paul Cain here again, Coun Wallis.

Instead of talking about think tanks, any chance of starting a thread on the Home Office consultation paper, published today, in which your government lays out plans to allow it to see any and all of anyone's personal emails, internet useage records or phone records?

Do you think it's a good idea for organisations such as Darlington Council to have the right to see my personal email in case I have committed 'any offence'? (Note - not just serious offences or terrorism, but ANY offence)

Given the amount of new offences New Labour has invented in the last 11 years, isn't it only a matter of time before all of us, by default, are guilty of 'an offence'?

Do you think it's a good idea, Councillor Wallis, for phone companies to have to retain records (a billion pieces of data a day) for 12 months?
Do you think there should be a right to privacy, Councillor Wallis?
The Human Rights Act says there should be. Do you support the HRA, or not, Councillor?

How many times has Darlington Council used its existing snooping powers to look at phone and internet records, Councillor? Can you find out and tell us please?

Given your government's obsession with controlling every aspect of our lives, and introducing legislation to force us to think and behave only in the ways of which you approve, isn't this issue far more important than some nonsensical froth about think tanks?

what do you think Councillor? Will you start a thread on this?

Darlington Councillor said...

Well, it's always a rare treat when Mr Cain crosses the pond (metaphorically speaking) to hand down some great piece of wisdom or other.

Alas, Paul, I didn't see the IPPR report, but I can reveal that I don't think Christmas should be banned. Is that helpful?

As for the Government consultation paper - well, I'll try and take a look, but as you will appreciate, I can't blog on everything. You've very effectively put your point of view across.

I think I'll leave it at that.

Aeres said...

The report itself is here if anybody is interested:

I thought it was quite interesting really. It's a shame the subsequent national debate has almost entirely focused on the 'grim up North' v 'great up North' argument as a lot of what it written is really quite logical (just in my opinion, naturally).

Paul Cain is abolutely correct of course, think tanks are not the same as policy by any stretch of the imagination. However, I guess you can hardly blame Labour for making some political hay out of the situation - I'm sure if the roles were reversed it'd be exactly the same.

Chris Close said...

Of course you can blame labour and certainly the entirely 'lame' response from Wincey to Paul Cain.

Is he mad as well wincey?

david walsh said...

If you look at history, there was a big scandal in the 1830's when the workhouses in towns in the south (which were distressed due to the big slump in agriculture) started shipping orphans, waifs and strays and able bodied young men to the mills of Manchester and Oldham as surplus labour. The tories never change their spots.....................

John B said...

[note that the IPPR suggested that, as well as marking Christmas, we should mark other religions' festivals too. If you rate this as 'banning Christmas', you are a loony].

Ian White. said...

Paul, Darlington Borough Council has used its existing powers 13 times I FOI-ed it here is a subsequent reply from FOI I recieved...Please note how many of the people who were targeted using an anti terrorism law were actually terrorist!

1, You say "applications were made" who are they made to (who authorises them)?
Applications are made by an investigating officer to a designated senior officer who must authorise them before any action can be taken.

2, Of the 13 in total people that were spied upon were any of them found guilty of any offence?
This information is not held in the format requested and, as such is being refused under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Act allows a right of access to information ‘held’ by public authorities and does not requires those authorities to create new information in order to satisfy a request.

3, If any offences were found guilty how many were "terrorist" related?
The Council has not carried out surveillance for terrorist-related offences as it does not have the power to investigate such offences.

4, Without being specific can you state what all the applications were made for?
The applications were made in respect of consumer protection investigations and fraudulent housing benefit claims.

So I for one do not think anyone should be allowed to spy on me especially a loacal council that openly admits to using an ant terrorism law then goes on to say
"The Council has not carried out surveillance for terrorist-related offences as it does not have the power to investigate such offences"

How can it get away with using the ACT then.

Why should others know my private business who I phone and what I research on the internet!

I say NO.

Ecki Thump said...


You know what they say ...

"You can always tell a Cockney...

But you can't tell him much"

Off to buy some black puddun

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