Blogs

Visionaries, poetry and a game that turned deadly serious

11 March 2012

9:13 AM

11 March 2012

9:13 AM

There is a certain poetry to the leaking of Vince Cable’s
‘vision thing’ memo and the departure from Downing Street of Steve Hilton, the very man who is supposed to have been
providing the government’s vision all this time.

Cable’s message to David Cameron and Nick Clegg was nothing if not forthright: ‘There is still something important missing — a compelling vision of where the country is heading
beyond sorting out the fiscal mess, and a clear and confident message about how we will earn our living in the future.’ It is also difficult to argue with. Where is the industrial policy?
Where is the distinct message that we are pursuing a high-tech future, or re-booting manufacturing, or encouraging the creative industries? At times, this government seems so set against anything
that might look like a centralised five-year plan that it has decided not to have a plan at all.

[Alt-Text]


The departure of Steve Hilton is genuinely strange. It’s very difficult to interpret this as anything other than a retreat from the front line. I’m sure the civil service can be very
frustrating, but why on earth why give them the satisfaction by leaving the field?

I am really not being sectarian about this. Maybe there is some ultra-sophisticated double-bluff going on here to keep the Cameroon project looking cuddly. But where are those Tories with the kind
of drive that makes lefties like me say ‘you may hate their policies but they at least have a fire in their belly’. You can’t really hate Andrew Lansley or Iain Duncan Smith or
Theresa May or Justine Greening. The nearest thing the left has to a hate figure within the Coalition is Michael Gove. And Nick Clegg of course, but that’s different.

You have to wonder how much the Cameroons really wanted this. What began as something of a game among a small group of bright young men (and they were all men) has ended up as a deadly serious.
This is not the time to walk off the job: most of us don’t have that luxury. 


More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.



Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice think.

  • David Bouvier

    “Where is the industrial policy? Where is the distinct message that we are pursuing a high-tech future, or re-booting manufacturing, or encouraging the creative industries?”

    You have to be kidding. What on earth about the 1970s makes you think that repeating that experience would be a good idea?

  • E Hart

    You are quite right. There is nothing there. Cameron is nothing but a vapid slogan-monger. Cable, of course, gets right up the nose of free-marketeers everyone – because he understands the vital role that government plays (and has played) in cranking up economies here, there and everywhere (including the US).

    The Cameron-Osborne axis believes in the 30-year-old fairy story that the free market can deliver on its own. It doesn’t want to, it can’t and it hasn’t.

  • London Calling

    Made in Great Britian
    Trade in Great Britain

    The country is crying out for change, not small change, just banks that will invest
    and sort out the tax for buisness and claw back our EU Contribution and get the wheels well oiled…

    Light bulb Bright….:)

  • Simon Stephenson.

    My comment : 11.26am

    Sorry, I intended to delete the third paragraph, but failed to do so.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Nicholas : 10.15am

    Yes, but I think that far more likely than that they are making a bad job of explaining what they are actually doing is that they are making no attempt to explain their actual intentions, choosing instead to pick up points through passing themselves off as something that they’re not.

    When the modern pinnacle of achievement is to be successful in persuading large numbers of people that something is what it isn’t, one can hardly expect that political statements are anything other than part of this process.

    But then, we live in a world where the pinnacle of achievement is to persuade large numbers of people to believe that something is what it isn’t

  • Nicholas

    “… to strengthen society rather than the state; to give more power to the people through increased localisation, transparency, choice and accountability; and to encourage enterprise by liberating individuals, communities and businesses from the dead hand of excessive bureaucracy.”

    If they are really doing this then their marketing must be really crap because the impression being given is of the exact opposite.

  • Fergus Pickering

    One of the things about Lefties, Martin, is their ability to hate, yes really to hate, Tories. Churchill? He’s the chap who shot the miners. Mrs Thatcher? Need I go on? Many Scots are the same about the English. The hate keeps them going, poor twisted souls. I do not hate Socialists in the same way at all. I often feel a sort of bemused pity. Can there really be people who think that Gordon Brown saved the world/ That Aneurin Bevan is a secular saint? That what the railways need is a return to their state in 1979, filthy, late and beset by strikes? These people live in a world of their own that never existed nor could ever exist

  • Dave B

    The best statement of the Cameroon plan/vision I have come across is from Oliver Letwin:
    “… to strengthen society rather than the state; to give more power to the people through increased localisation, transparency, choice and accountability; and to encourage enterprise by liberating individuals, communities and businesses from the dead hand of excessive bureaucracy.”

    standpointmag.co.uk/node/2166/full

  • Tom

    Martin: Your comments are well taken. I describe the lack of a substantive vision thing as the commercialization of our national lives. Leaders are products that are marketed to the electorate by the most effective means available. Moving product is the only goal. Issues are only packaging–images embedded in messaging.

    I did find a negative within the positive thoughts. Cameroon is a country, and the Cameroon Project is a relief organization base in the US. The PM’s name may be Cameron, but your several uses of ‘Cameroon’ and ‘Cameroon Project’ may justifiable be taken as a slur by the people of Cameroon.

    You might send a donation and apology to the organization at http://cameroonproject.org

  • Paul Danon

    A really visionary policy would be a nation where enterprise can flourish and the state is minimal. This is both Tory and liberal tradition, yet Dr Cable’s past is socialist so he perhaps can’t espouse it. For the left, interventionism must always seek to prove itself right even if it’s persistently proved wrong.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Martin

    The first stage in developing a workable vision for the future is to overrule the prejudices and biases which push one towards an outlook that is cozy, but unachievable. Such an outlook, as far as the UK is concerned, is one in which we are able to sustain a prosperous society that consists largely of manually-skilled producers of “things”. The days when the bulk of the labour force are employed doing repetitive mechanical tasks are over.

    The next stage, to which we must aspire, involves understanding two things:-

    1. The huge waste of potential that is involved in using human resources in processes where machines are more efficient.

    2. The major changes required to the education system so that it is less slanted towards the learning of rules and processes.

  • Garibaldi’s Ghost

    “There is still something important missing — a compelling vision of where the country is heading”

    It’s not missing, it is just ignored for what it is. The vision is East Germany and the compelling is them and the compelled us.

  • Jeremy

    A vision is not the same thing as a plan – certainly not in the socialist sense of the term. A vision is more like an idea of what you want the country to be. For example, do you want an England which is enslaved ‘with rotten parchment bonds’ to Europe and the United States – which is what we currently have. Or do you want an England that is genuinely strong, independent and free? My own choice would be for the latter.

    I have noticed that Mr Cameron is rather susceptible to sophists who are seeking to pass themselves off as philosophers.

    Perhaps this is because he cannot tell the difference between the two.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Martin, you may be the last one to notice, but they are really not any different from the wet centrist arm of the Labour party or the Libdems. They are all the same. Nobody else gets a look-in. The game is rigged. Policy is made or destroyed by the BBC. Oh, did you notice Cameron is an empty suit? How long did it take you to rumble Blair?

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here