Last updated at 8:49 AM on 14th June 2011
Health reforms, welfare benefits, student visas, bin collections, sentencing policy... On one front after another, the Government is in disorderly retreat, with a U-turn almost every day.
Though it saddens the Mail to say so, everything we warned about the paralysis and fudge that would flow from coalition politics is coming true.
Take the Health Service. Yes, Andrew Lansley failed miserably to sell an over-complex message. But as the recent glut of horror stories has confirmed, the NHS is in desperate need of reform.
Political push-me pull-you: The Tories are pulling in one direction and the Lib Dems another, leaving Britain stuck without advance
After yesterday’s multiple U-turns to please the panicking Lib Dems, however, basic principles have been ripped out of the health Bill. The upshot is that a vital opportunity to make the NHS fit for the 21st century may now be missed.
And isn't there something sickening about Nick Clegg's glee in claiming 'victory' for sabotaging policies he backed enthusiastically before he took fright from his poll drubbing last month?
Or take the confusion over the proposed cap on state benefits. On Sunday, welfare reform minister Lord Freud delighted the Lib Dems by promising a wide range of exemptions.
But less than 24 hours later, his boss Iain Duncan Smith was protesting: 'The policy is unchanged. The £26,000 benefits cap remains.'
So here, again, in this pantomime horse of a coalition, the Lib Dems are pulling one way and the Tories the other.
Or take visas for foreign students. First, they were to be slashed by 100,000 a year. Now by only 52,000.
Big beasts? Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was forced to roll back on shorter sentencing plans, while Eric Pickles is in conflict over weekly bin collections
Or bins. No sooner does Communities Secretary Eric Pickles promise to restore the 'basic right' to weekly collections than we're told councils can go on collecting them fortnightly.
And of course a justified public outcry and a Tory backbench revolt forced another U-turn over Ken Clarke's plans to cut prison sentences still further.
In almost every other instance, however, the back-pedalling has gone the Lib Dems' way.
Why is the Lib Dem tail so often being allowed to wag the Tory dog? Could it be that some of these U-turns suit the Prime Minister's own timid nature to a T?
What is deeply worrying is that many policy reversals, such as concessions over tuition fees, jeopardise the attack on the deficit, the Coalition's raison d'etre.
But there is one exquisite irony in all this. For despite the serial U-turns, there is one policy on which David Cameron refuses to budge an inch: his insistence on increasing overseas aid to a crippling £12billion a year.
Misguided: The one policy on which Cameron is sticking to his guns is on foreign aid, and it should be the least of his concerns given the domestic financial situation
If would be commendable if all this went to saving children’s lives – as the Prime Minister tried to suggest yesterday, when he promised five times as much as the U.S. to a vaccination initiative.
But on Saturday this paper revealed our aid was propping up tyrannical regimes, even financing a £30million private jet for the President of Uganda.
And this at a time when the head of the Navy warns that the defence of the realm itself is at risk if the Libyan war drags on.
Meanwhile at home, stagnant incomes are being squeezed by soaring prices as never before.
Indeed, every day, the Coalition seems further removed from the concerns of struggling families and businesses, as it pursues the obsessions of the Westminster village with political horse-trading, environmentalist grandstanding and detoxifying the Tory brand.
Mr Cameron is the most formidable leader the Tories have had for many a year. But leadership demands taking difficult decisions and then persuading the public of their necessity.
The Prime Minister should put more trust in his brilliant communication skills – and less in the findings of focus groups.
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In answer to James de la Mare’s comments earlier. It was not the brilliant communication skills of Cameron which got him the job as leader of the Tories over David Davis. It was the backing from the BBC and left wing media who saw in him what we are seeing now. A man with left leaning ideas.
- jhlc, welwyn, 14/6/2011 10:16
Can you imagine working for a company that only has a little more than 635 employees, but, has the following employee statistics.. 29 have been accused of spouse abuse 7 have been arrested for fraud 9 have been accused of writing bad cheques 17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses 3 have done time for assault 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges 8 have been arrested for shoplifting 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits 84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year and collectively, this year alone, they have cost the British tax payer £92,993,748 in expenses!!! Which organistaion is this – it’s the 635 members of the house of commons That’s why the Country is in this mess.
- Red Fred, England, 14/6/2011 10:12
when the last tory government had power Mrs Thatcher brought down the biggest threat to their power regime the Unions just look how she attacked the miners and privatised what they could and now this coalition are attacking what is left to be attacked in the same they undermine everything this country stands for i agree things need to be reformed in some way but in a fair way not everything at the same time, the first thing this coalition did was protect their future by changing the termof office to 5years, The education is basically being told academies are the way forward this is a backhanded way of privatising the schools and the services that help them provide the education to our children bring back the apprenticeships and YTS schemes yto give the school leavers the oppurtunity to get out in the world and not forced back to then classroom until they are 18
- andrew cartwright, glossop derbyshire, 14/6/2011 09:50
With the civil service unions now flexing their muscles the track record of this government is as bad as Ted Heaths back in the seventies. To Joe public it looks like the tail is wagging the dog. To much Liberal influence is obvious when you see whats happening too policies. The danger now is that with union strikes the government will cave in derailing the policies to reduce the deficit. This will achieve exactly what they were trying to avoid. The UK credit rating will marked down. The only answer then will be increased taxes for all. Not a good prospect for any of us. They need to hold the line with the unions. If it means strikes let them get on with it. These strikes have to be broken. Like the mining unions of the past these unions will try to dictate policy to an elected government.
- Pa Broon, Edinburgh UK, 14/6/2011 09:43
Leadership is more than taking a stand on a policy and sticking to it come what may. Leadership is about listening, reflecting, demonstrating approachability on controversial issues and then taking a decision. If anything, all these so called "u-turns" are a demonstration of two things: 1. They are listening and reflecting. 2. They are doing so in the context of a political landscape the UK is generally unfamiliar with. As usual, they can't win. Propose something unpopular and they are accused of imposing ideology dictatorially. Listen to the objectioons and reflect and they are accused of u-turns. If I took no time to reflect on a course of action and diddn't have the capacity to change my mind, then my life would be in a real mess. Everyone has this ability and uses it throughout their lives, so why are politicians not allowed to? The real story here is not about the government, its about the opposition who object relentlessly but give no alternative policies.
- Bevans Ghost, London, 14/6/2011 09:38
I'd rather have a government that listens to the public and makes changes based upon feelings and opinion that a government who ignores the electorate and blindly goes ahead with projects listening only to their own "yes men". ID cards, Millennium Dome, BSF to name but three wastes of money.
- Andy, Manchester, 14/6/2011 09:29
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