The government is not a court for law, and no one is governing

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    10th August 2010

    To paraphrase: The inquiry government is not a court of forum for law, and no one is on trial governing



    In our Big Society, where we ALL take the responsibility blame, the present government reminds me of one of the non-governmental organisations all governments promise to do away with, and then produce more of.

    I’m not suggesting that the present NGO hasn’t made a running start at law-making or at least laying down future lawmaking. It certainly has.  And it’s even thinking the unthinkable as did Frank Field for New Labour, all those years ago.  We know what happened to him and his unthinkable thoughts.

    The thing to remember is that we, the voters, only have to pay attention when Mr Cameron says we should.  Or when his spinners, sorry, p.r. people say “no, no”. The rest of the time, well… only joking, testing, imploding.

    Under the cover of the economic disaster we are all sinking in (they all say it, so it must be true) the two parties currently running the show seem to be saying you sing it, I’ll play it to the poor tone-deaf punters. Few of them ever requested most of those songs in the first place. And some of them, voting for the Lib Dems and Tory (“brokeback coalition”) David Davis’s brand of Shami Chakrabarti-like liberal conservatism certainly didn’t think they were voting for more intrusion – a la credit check bounty hunters’ Big Brother type checkups on possible fraudulent social security claimants.

    Ahh, but needs must while the devil takes the hindmost best tunes, to sing metaphorically all together now.

    How different from our own dear erstwhile ‘dictator’ Tony Blair. He didn’t reckon much of his own cabinet’s ability to agree or decide, so he got a few worthies on the sofa to sort out policy. And thus we stumbled on, reforming Health and Education, devolving power, making London the world’s financial capital, sorting out the odd dictator. Purely co-incidental, of course that the worldwide economic downfall hit the USA and then the rest of us months after Mr Blair had left office.

    Let’s put aside for a moment CameronGaffes such as the Junior Partnership of Britain in WW2, the date the Americans entered the war, Turkey into the EU, the Gaza/Israel one-sided ignorance, Pakistan’s terrorism links and so on and so forth. [Update: a Facebook commenter just reminded me of DC’s ‘Iran has nuclear weapons’ gaffe. How could I forget a little thing like that!?]

    For now the Cleggaffe – ‘illegal’ Iraq war and the Cameron Milk Snatcher – or NOT, recent misspokes are enough to be going along with for the silly season:

    Illegal War – Iraq – Nick Clegg – PMQ’s 21.7.10

    Clegg’s “illegal” Iraq war gaffe, excerpt Guardian (my bolding):

    Downing Street: “The Iraq inquiry is currently examining many issues surrounding the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the legal basis of the war. The government looks forward to receiving the inquiry’s conclusions.”

    But this appeared to be contradicted by the Chilcot inquiry, which issued a statement saying it was examining the legal issues in the run-up to the war but would not make a judgment about the legality of the war. A spokesman said: “The inquiry is not a court of law, and no one is on trial.”

    Downing Street deny milk cut proposals


    After one of this summer’s many gaffes by the present non-governmental organisation and the Chilcot Inquiry statement after the Cleggite boob on Iraq – “The inquiry is not a court of law, and no one is on trial” – perhaps the present NGO is telling us this:

    “The government is not a court for law, and no one is governing”

    There have been so many backtracks and volte faces since we were lumbered with (sorry, seemingly voted in) this coalition in May that even its supporters are beginning to feel cold around their twinkly toes.  Vince aside, the Telegraph today says that David Cameron ‘should trust his team’

    Especially since he said this in April this year:

    “I can promise that you will get a different style of government from me. It will be a collegiate one, where the team I appoint are trusted to get on with the job.”

    The (two) brains of David Willetts were in brow-wrinkling conflict when he was informed live on air that Downing Street says “NO! There will not be a withdrawal of free milk”. (See here, BBC)

    Defending scrapping free school milk for under-fives on principle is ONE thing.  Probably even defendable. Defending trying it out on Scotland first is quite another thing. Echoes of Thatcher the Milk Snatcher AND the Tory poll-tax (first tried out in Scotland) would be a double whammy.

    The Tory Telegraph continues today –

    “It is hard to square that sentiment with Downing Street’s reaction to a proposal from Anne Milton, the Health Minister, to scrap free milk for nursery school children to save £50 million. Given the need to find cuts in the public sector, this seemed a pretty unobjectionable suggestion – but it echoed one of the most notorious political decisions of recent times, Margaret Thatcher’s decision to remove the legal duty on local education authorities to provide free milk.

    Yet the symbolism of the “milk snatcher” controversy of 40 years ago would not have played so powerfully today as it did then. Moreover, the idea of focusing scarce public resources on the most needy was a good one that merited a calm and level-headed debate and not what looked like a panicky volte-face for fear of a bad tabloid headline.

    As Mr Cameron implied in his article a few months ago, a collegiate ministerial team is one that will feel emboldened to come up with the right policy, and not only the popular one. It was also somewhat surprising to find the Prime Minister so readily available to slap down a junior minister in the second week of August, when he should be taking a break with his family while allowing the team he has appointed to get on with the job.”

    Government Health Minister Anne Milton laid out Tory proposals to banish school milk for the under fives. Instantly DC did a u-turn, and forgot to tell David Willetts until he was live on TV.

    Some think, or would like to persuade themselves that Cameron had it all planned. So, presumably, that he could stab his health minister in the back – tough on silliness, tough on the causes of silliness. Perhaps, that argument goes, DC wanted to highlight the Cameroonian killer instinct that Tony Blair apparently lacked.  The comparison? What Blair should have done with such as Clare Short and even Gordon Brown when they started talking out of turn; if only he had had the Cameroonian guts. Even the commenters at Though Cowards Flinch don’t swallow that guff, I’m afraid. Nice try, though.

    Conservative blogger Iain Dale thinks Milton was right. That, Iain is not the point. Arguing the merits and demerits of free milk is by-the-way.  This is government, remember. It’s all about joined-up-ness.


    A few days ago, before the milk-snatcher fiasco, the hard-blogging Lord Tebbit of Chingford was headlined as saying – “This Coalition is in a muddle – it is time for disciplined action”

    Norman Tebbit actually said –

    “I called it sloppy, slap-happy government. Charles Moore finds a muddle in that most important area of our security, our policy towards terrorism. It is time for some disciplined thought and disciplined action. Being a Prime Minister is a serious business.”

    QUITE. The sloppy, slap-happy, the muddle, the terrorism policy, the disciplined thought and action, the serious business of being prime minister. But the headline is limited to “disciplined action” on the coalition “muddle”.
    Meanwhile  I struggle to get my head around this nonsense –  HEADLINES OF MY BLOG NOT WRITTEN BY ME

    Norman Tebbit:  “Thanks too to CastIronWithRustSpots for correctly divining that the headlines to my blog are not written by me.”

    It’s like writing a mini-book and then letting someone else decide what you really meant readers to take away as the main story.

    Oh press, thy word is the message and thy message is the word.


    Calamity Cameroon/Cleggerons



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    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”

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    2 Responses to “The government is not a court for law, and no one is governing”

    1. Dave Semple Says:

      Impressive straw-manning of the position I advocated – and some of the commenters / tweeters in response to my article didn’t think it so far out.

      No one regards it as Cameron backstabbing his minister – not one mainstream outlet has taken that approach. And the general public aren’t likely to think that either.

      Next time, some solid argumentation always helps an article along.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Mr Semple, it seemed to me that you were suggesting that Cameron had set her up for a fall. The press are still in the honeymoon period. THEY wouldn’t suggest this, of course. If I’m wrong I must have misread your words. Will go and take another look.

        Right, I’m back.

        I still think my interpretation of what you were suggesting is right. That’s my “solid argumentation”. YOUR words. Who were you suggesting approved if not someone “higher” within the Tory party?

        Recent commentary by Liberal Conspiracy and the New Statesman on the Con-Lib “u-turn” over whether or not to abandon free milk for nursery school kids seems to have missed how suspicious the whole thing looks. Or maybe I’m being overly cynical.

        Why do I think it was a stunt? The evidence is circumstantial at best, and requires the addition of a deep sense of skepticism as regards the government’s relationship with the press. But I’ll do my best to present it.

        The letter that health minister Anne Milton sent to the Scottish executive is declarative, that there is a Tory proposal to scrap free milk for the under-5s. It doesn’t waffle, it doesn’t suggest this is a trial balloon. It says that the Tories want to press ahead with it and want the opinion of the other three home-nation governments.

        A timeline for the transmission of information from government to government is as close as August 18th.

        Why does this have an impact? Something as controversial as this will have had higher approval. It doesn’t have the feel of an errant minister floating tentative ideas, which is what Tory spokesperson Stephen Dorrell subsequently claimed. So either the Tories were genuinely proposing this or it was floated in order to be smacked down.

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