Oops, he did it again. Having spent years giving the impression of being all “grand narrative and no radical policy,” David Cameron is on a roll. He recently announced plans to publish every government contract, a genuinely radical change. And now he has announced something even more daring: giving all public sector workers the right to take over the body in which they work (reaction from Conservative Home is here, and Phillip Blond’s original idea proposing something very similar to this is here. ) Three thoughts:
The media are on a Tory crisis trip, which looks increasingly odd. The Guardian, unless I’m missing it, haven’t written this up. (George Osborne was on the Today programme talking about it.) Very odd, especially given how yesterday Toby Helm wrote in the Observer that Cameron was beset by a “growing sense of crisis.”
I have to say I don’t see this. Yes, there has been a good deal of faffing on the right about whether to cut now, or later. Labour are in the right place on this—cut when you know you aren’t going to damage the recovery, not before. But the Tories have a point too: credible plans are needed to do the cuts: at the moment we have no such details, just a pledge to cut later. Both approaches miss the fact that any plans need to relate to whatever happens with GDP, which went up by much less than everyone expected last time, and could go either way next time the figures come out.
But, putting that to one side, behind the budget issue the combination of things like this employee ownership pledge, and the open contracts push, should make their opponents view the Tories as worryingly composed, and increasingly ready to float big ideas. Fair enough, in some areas, Labour are already here—they have co-op schools, and also some rights to spin out parts of the NHS. But a general right, in all areas, seems a different order of magnitude to me.
Cameron also seems, in some areas, to be fleshing out his rhetoric. In the past Tory policies were often less impressive than their rhetoric. Slogans about “giving power away” seemed empty and looked empty (and still do in many cases) with regard to…