Skip

Essential advice for David Cameron
March 11, 2013 12:47 AM   Subscribe

"Britain’s modern party leaders are not ousted by stalking horses; they are dragged from their beds in the dead of night, and shot in the courtyard with a Sky News helicopter overhead." -- Former New Labour heavyweight and Gordon Brown acolyte Damian McBride explains how to survive a coup attempt when you're prime minister.
posted by MartinWisse (28 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile, George Osborne, whose macroeconomic education and expertise consists of inheriting some income from a struggling, posh curtains company, is in the central position of Chancellor AND consigliere, suffers no threat and is basically un-fireable to David Cameron

He will be what brings DC down in the end.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:54 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a good article in this morning's Guardian on Cameron's chances of making it through to the next election: "most MPs are natural bystanders," and the bystander effect may ultimately protect him.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:27 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Gideon] will be what brings DC down in the end.

My favourite line about Osborne comes from Krugman:
Suppose George Osborne were to admit that austerity isn’t working. What, then, would be left of his claim to be qualified to do, well, anything? He has to stick it out until something turns up, no matter how many lives it destroys.
posted by the cydonian at 1:42 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes/deals-in-smoky-rooms history of modern British politics, and specifically the last Labour government, the rest of McBride's blog is well worth a look.

Now that McBride's political career is 100% dead, over and never to be revived, he's happy to go into detail. His posts on how the Budget is produced (specifically in the context of how George Osborne spectacularly knackered it up last time) and the election that never was that sank Gordon Brown are both great on process and personalities.
posted by Hartster at 2:00 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've been following McBride off and on and was toying with doing a post on how basically the UK budget is generated from gigantic Excel spreadsheet. He's an interesting figure; somewhat of a douche when in office (iirc he was one of the people planning to gin up fake Tory scandals in the runup to the 2010 elections), but remarkably sane sounding now he's out of politics.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:01 AM on March 11, 2013


Suppose George Osborne were to admit that austerity isn’t working.

Austerity isn't about the UK economy. It's a weapon to help dismantle the welfare state. It's working just fine.
posted by daveje at 3:05 AM on March 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


Austerity isn't about the UK economy. It's a weapon to help dismantle the welfare state. It's working just fine.

This is a comforting belief, because it means that there's someone at the helm of the ship who knows what they're doing (even if they are evil). That way we can hope that they'll eventually decide that destroying the welfare state is less important than the health of the economy and turn the ship around.

I know these people, they really believe this stuff.

Not George Osborne personally, but I have friends who are Conservative party researchers and one who is a SPAD to a PPS with a treasury related role. Not real players, but part of the same broad school of thought. They're all genuinely concerned about the deficit and believe that:
a) cutting the deficit is essential
b) reducing government spending and taxation will stimulate economic growth (which I do not agree with and certainly not during a demand crunch like what we have now)
posted by atrazine at 3:29 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where do these friends of yours, atrazine, get their beliefs? And - although this might sound naive - what would it take to change their minds?
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:59 AM on March 11, 2013


I don't want to say too much, but I have intimate insight of individual cabinet members from the civil service perspective, and yes, many of them including the principles do believe this stuff (though not the cabinet member I'm thinking of).

They believe that they are the grown ups, keeping bond markets happy - they believe they have a "growth agenda" that is a mish mash of supply-side thinking from decades previous, with no acknowledgement of the re-emergence of demand-side issues, they will file any of their "red tape cutting" as part of this "growth agenda"

I don't really understand how they ignore evidence that they are INCREASING the deficit and INCREASING government borrowing without any increase in productivity they might get with purposeful borrowing. I guess we are all marked by what era we came of age in, and these children of Thatcher came of age when inflation was a genuine threat, and perhaps supply-side issues were relevant.

Meanwhile, the US is moving forward while Britain treads water at best.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/10/us-economy-take-off-osborne

And, worse, exports decrease even while the currency deflates 30%, and Britain moves DOWN the scale of future productivity growth, depending more on raw materials export and not investing in forward-looking industries.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/08/britain-economy-long-term-fix
posted by C.A.S. at 4:14 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's of course possible to both believe in the need for austerity, that the welfare state needs to be dismantled and that the austerity crisis makes for a good opportunity to do so.

That's actually been the policy of both the previous and the current Tory governments. New Labour, for all its flaws, was still nominally in favour of the welfare state even if hugely influenced by neoliberal ideology.

For certain parts of the economy austerity is working: banks astock markets are enjoying growth again and that's almost all the government pays attention to.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:15 AM on March 11, 2013


The article Sonny Jim linked is very good. But I think it misses out on a collective action problem: the self-interest of each backbencher is not necessarily that of the party as a whole.

It might be that the best thing for a party to win power, is to take a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Make bold changes, like a leadership change. If winning power for the party is the goal, the worse the polls look, the better this kind of strategy looks.

But if you're an individual MP and your goal is to keep your seat, unless you're in the most precarious of marginals, you don't want a high-risk, high-reward strategy. You want a safe, defensive strategy that will keep the losses low enough that you keep your seat. If your party is in opposition but you still have your job, that's acceptable.

So, the media like to talk up exciting possibilities like a leadership challenges. But the backbenchers are not necessarily keen on taking that risk. They might well prefer to cruise to a modest defeat for the party than take a big risk, because that serves their individual interest.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:34 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Banks are not enjoying growth, many are still showing losses and have not rebuilt their capital bases to a sufficient strength. Neither are they lending in a way to support general economic growth.

There is no evidence "austerity is working". Stock markets going up is not evidence of "austerity working". Its evidence of profits increasing, or the prospects of profits increasing. Or, possibly, evidence of quantitative easing money being funnelled into financial assets.

If increasing profits only increasingly helping a narrower and narrower part of society, without employment rate gains, standard of living increases that would accompany even sharing of productivity gains (as has been the trend in the industrialised West since the war), or increasing the tax base (since much of it is off-shored and tax protected), then it probably isn't a sustainable long term trend.

Of course its possible to believe in the need for austerity, that doesn't negate the fact that there is little evidence austerity has been good for the economy or the government balance sheet. In fact the opposite.

Belief about the welfare state is a separate issue, but I'm sure the belief that it needs dismantling is driving Tory policy.
posted by C.A.S. at 4:35 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where do these friends of yours, atrazine, get their beliefs? And - although this might sound naive - what would it take to change their minds?

Some mixture of tribal belief and economics/PPE degrees.
posted by atrazine at 5:11 AM on March 11, 2013


I really dislike McBride: if anything he's written is true and accurate it can only have been inadvertent imo.
posted by Segundus at 5:38 AM on March 11, 2013


Segundus, can you back that up with anything? I don't want to come across as snarky - I just find myself wondering how you came to your opinion.
posted by pipeski at 5:58 AM on March 11, 2013


Dear Julia Gillard....
posted by Mezentian at 6:26 AM on March 11, 2013


This weekend there were a couple of papers that basically said, "Theresa May as PM: Not as Crazy as You May Think."

It makes me think I need a new word for crazy. But I also feel like it's a trap. Are they trying to win over the critics with, "It could be worse!"? I moved here almost 6 years ago and I admit I don't know much about Margaret Thatcher. But there were comparisons of May as a new kind of Iron Lady and I suddenly understood.
posted by like_neon at 6:28 AM on March 11, 2013


Some mixture of tribal belief and economics/PPE degrees.

Guess I dodged a bullet. (/me contemplated applying to do PPE.)
posted by hoyland at 6:32 AM on March 11, 2013


I don't really understand how they ignore evidence that they are INCREASING the deficit and INCREASING government borrowing without any increase in productivity they might get with purposeful borrowing.

It's all designed to be a sort of win-win for them, really. If, by some unknown black magic, their schemes actually do result in deficit reduction and economic growth, then, yay for them. On the other hand, if situations just get worse, then they spin it as further proof that government can't do anything right, so cut more budgets and privatize more. Yay for them!
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When it comes to examination of their ideas, the Tories are almost a replay of last year's US Republican echo chamber. Faced with low approval ratings, a large chunk of the party seems to think it's because they're not Tory enough, and this chunk is getting louder. Within the last few days, we've had cabinet ministers threaten to repeal the Human Rights Act and leave the European Court of Human Rights. We've had an ex-cabinet minister talking of reversing 'the great socialist coup' of the last decade. All this against a background of constant anti-Europe and anti-welfare rhetoric from the back benches. I think many of the back benchers think the safe strategy is a move to the right, under a new leader.
There is no opportunity or appetite within the party to allow consideration that their ideas may be mistaken. Their Calvinistic conviction that the worthy are rewarded is absolute, and if reality is at odds with this model, then the reality must be altered. Those who are unrewarded become by definition the unworthy. If the bloodletting is not curing the patient, it's because not enough blood has been let. That leaves plenty of scope for the unthinking in the party to be steered by those with interests in things like shrinking the state, privatising health and education, deregulating every aspect of business and so on, even in the face of empirical evidence of policy failure.
posted by Jakey at 7:12 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


pipeski - don't take me too seriously on this (or anything, really), but

(a) being a deliberate and scurrilous liar is after all what he's famous for; and
(b) very limited personal acquaintance from years back suggests he worked long and hard to deserve that fame.

People can change, YMMV, even the most egregious fabricators can be worth reading, etc.
posted by Segundus at 8:05 AM on March 11, 2013


The curious thing about austerity advocates is that they can simultaneously back tuition increases. So austerity is good for the government but it is important that individuals invest in personal infrastructure. So they use a household debt metaphor for reducing government performance but use a government debt metaphor for personal finances.
posted by srboisvert at 9:02 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


PS: If Boris Johnson starts hosting panel shows regularly again, you are as good as dead.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2013


pipeski - don't take me too seriously on this (or anything, really), but

I would tend to agree with Segundus' perspective. If they were such close confidants, why is McBride providing intimate details about Brown's emotional states etc etc on a blog of all things?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 AM on March 11, 2013


why is McBride providing intimate details about Brown's emotional states etc etc on a blog of all things?
I am thinking of ways that Brown could retaliate by doing the virtual equivalent of throwing a printer at McBride, but I'm coming up blank.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:48 AM on March 11, 2013


I think the long game for the Tories is to move safely rightward and increasingly insular/anti-EU with pro-secessionist rhetoric. This accelerates the divorce with Scotland and the North, thus effectively removing a large bloc of relatively leftist opponents. Ultra conservative Tories are a distinct minority within a national UK parliament, but they have a reasonable chance of forming governments in a successor rump State of England based in Westminster.
posted by meehawl at 10:49 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


why is McBride providing intimate details about Brown's emotional states etc etc on a blog of all things?

Nobody is paying him to publish his diaries like every other Labour ex-minister?
posted by MartinWisse at 6:25 AM on March 12, 2013


Oh I hope 10 O'Clock Live comes back again this year, this is all prime material.
posted by JHarris at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2013


« Older Projectors de cinema infantil   |   Grow Maze Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post