Coffee House

Cameron takes it to the councils

11 April 2011

3:46 PM

11 April 2011

3:46 PM

Ignore what your council is telling you. So says no less a personage than the Prime Minister of our country, speaking at one of his freewheelin’ roadshow events this afternoon. Cameron may have
been referring specifically to the red tape being wrapped around Royal Wedding street parties, but it’s
still a pretty pugnacious point for a PM to make. Here’s the full quotation, courtesy of the superb PoliticsHome:

“I hope people are able to join in and celebrate and I am very much saying today that if people want to have a street party, don’t listen to people who say ‘it is all bureaucracy and
health and safety and you cant do it.’ It is very important to understand if anyone wants to have a street party you don’t need a food license, you don’t need an entertainment license, you don’t
need to have written documents about closing your street, you don’t have to pay for street closures, you don’t have to have special health and safety permission because there are councils out
there telling you you do need these things – you don’t.”


It’s the latest, and one of the most striking, episodes in the coalition’s ongoing battle with the local authoritarians. And it certainly typifies Cameron’s use of the bully pulpit of
government to shame other organisations into, if not compliance, then at least defensiveness. At the same event, today, he also attacked Oxford University’s record on attracting black students
— although, judging by the university’s rebuttal,
he got his numbers sorely wrong on that.

Question is: if you contravene council directives over a street party, can you say the Prime Minister put you up to it?

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Show comments
  • merlin
  • Mike Towl

    Years ago, when Honest John was PM, I lived in the Socialist State of Humberside. Prescot, Mitchel et al. I wrote to Major complaining about the Humberside Polit Bureau hiring, at the tax payers expense of course, a schools Rugby Leaugue Co-ordinater. Handy eh.? (Apart from people in Hull no one played the game). The reply from No 10, in not so many words, was. “Tough, you voted for them.” (I didn’t as it happend). “And stop whinging”.
    I took the point.
    Mike Towl
    Lagos, Portugal

  • Verity

    Robert Eve – “Nicholas – the words ‘Jo Brand’ just make me want to throw up.”

    Well, at least that makes her an emetic and attaches some value.

    I hadn’t thought of that before. At her appearances on TV, I’d just been in free-floating nausea before, but now I realise it may have a medical purpose, so thanks for that.

  • libertarian

    @Liz Brown

    You do know that your council tax doesn’t go anywhere near your local council, not paying it has no effect on them at all. Most of the council tax and all business rates go straight to central government and is then reapportioned

  • rich71

    People seem to confuse health and safety legislation with that tory favourite ‘political correctness gone mad!!!’
    Fact is local authorities are terrified of the lawyers chasing them down and bleeding them dry for every accident, incident and misplaced comment they can lay their grubby hands on.
    And id bet my house on most of those lawyers being tory voters.

  • QPQ

    Damn, that was good to hear and excellent politics as well; everybody views their local councils with contempt so sticking it to the chinless jobsworths and the shaven-headed rent-a-thugs they employ is going to go down very well.

  • Neil Turner

    I appreciate the sentiment

    Wish he would apply the same principle (I think it’s called leadership) to the EU bailout.

    Or actually, ANYTHING the unelected EU Commissioners try to foist on us

    What a round of applause he’d get then

  • Victor Southern

    Exactly the right attitude and a blow to the jobsworths.

    Predictably Verity finds a way to snide into the thread – Cameron can do no right as she sees it.

  • RichieP

    There won’t be many street parties anyway. Everyone will be watching the ones on Corrie, Eastenders and Emmerdale.

  • John HW

    Totally agree with Dave for once. Well put and most people will instinctively be with him. Shame it’s in aid of such a horrendously naff and tedious cause.

  • Robert Eve

    Nicholas – the words ‘Jo Brand’ just make me want to throw up.

  • AF

    Peasants with power.
    Thats the problem.

  • Occasional Ostrich

    @Rhoda Klapp

    Aye, Rhoda, I’m with you too, but councils seem to be able to get away with ignoring anything the government says until it’s explicitly included in an Act of Parliament.

  • Occasional Ostrich

    Liz Brown

    “they are there to serve the people and not themselves”

    I’m afraid that ethic was lost in 1974, once councillors started being paid more than their expenses. Introduced under Harold Wilson’s government, but all the groundwork was done under Heath.
    Mind, I think going back to pre 1974 would be worth a try.

  • Paddy

    A breath of fresh air.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    I’m not exactly his greatest fan, but kudos to him for this.

  • mick

    is he going to get osborne to give everyone a few shillings to enjoy ourselves

  • merlindragon

    It was really nice to see joy in Cameron’s eyes at the end of that clip.

  • dorothy wilson

    “Bully pulpit”? Surely it is the common sense pulpit.

  • Nicholas

    Pot Head I think the Royal Wedding party might have something to say about that. Without their express consent it would be rape on a massive scale.

    I love the list of Republic’s supporters though. All the usual suspects, misfits, and weirdos of the Left engaging in treasonable conduct but for the Human Rights Act – Yasmin Alibi, Polly Toynbee, Glenda Jackson, Will Self, Caroline Lucas, Jo Brand, George Galloway, Ken Loach, etc. 14 supporting MP’s – all Labour, Lib Dem or Green. Looking at those Friends of Britain I’ll stick with Her Majesty thanks.

  • Percy

    Good for Dave, he might struggle on many things but he’s spot on for once.

  • Liz Brown

    I’m all in favour of sticking it to the jobsworths in the Council. What is required is a concerted refusal to pay Council Tax until these jumped up little Hitlers finally realise that they are there to serve the people and not themselves

  • Verity

    Oh, are Cameron and his wife back from their pretend “budget break”?

  • bojimbo

    Don`t they all look bored silly ?

  • Pot Head

    What if you want to a organize a f**k the Royal Wedding party, can you quote Cameron too?

  • TrevorsDen

    I must say I like the phrase ‘local authoritarians’.

    No I seriously do, however I still prefer the much milder ‘jumped up bastard jobsworths’.

    3 cheers for our Prime Minister.