Coffee House

Hammond speaks out

13 May 2012

10:56 AM

13 May 2012

10:56 AM

Generally speaking, Philip Hammond is one of the Cabinet’s
quieter members; a sort of human calculator designed to run a department efficiently and with the minimum of fuss. Which is why his interview with the Sunday Times this morning (£) is so eye-catching. There’s very little that’s understated about it at all.

ConservativeHome’s Matthew Barrett has already put together a useful summary of the main
points, so suffice to say that Hammond is dismissive about both Lords reform…

‘He believes the upper chamber “works rather well” as it is and that voters are “probably largely indifferent” on the subject.’

[Alt-Text]


…and gay marriage:

‘He believes gay marriage is too controversial for the government to tackle right now, suggesting it would be “difficult to push through”, “use up a lot of political
capital” and “a lot of legislative time as well”.’

And, if that’s not enough, he also has a pop at the Lib Dems for impeding Tory efforts to create ‘a sensible and UK-based approach to human rights’.

All of the above will surely aggravate Nick Clegg & Co, but it might also do similar for David Cameron. While most ministers are now downplaying Lords reform and gay marriage — stressing
that they rank some way behind the economy on the government’s list of priorities — it seems to me that Hammond is taking that further, perhaps even questioning the policies in
themselves. And if one of the Cabinet’s quiet men is willing to speak out, adding his voice to the growing throng, then what trouble lies ahead for the coalition?

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Show comments
  • j7sue
  • Fergus Pickering

    Good for you, Milk Snatcher. A banker, then, or near enough eh? The noose is ready for you, sir.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Fergus Pickering – nearly – I work in mergers and acquisitions in Asia

  • JD

    I cannot say that gay marriage bothrrs me one way or the other, but those who object are not just the Turnip Taliban of the shires. Many of our new communities from Poles to africans to Bengali are opposed to gay marriage.

    Part of the problem of this sort of identity politics is that what appeals to one minority often appals another.

  • Kevin

    “‘He believes gay [sic] marriage is too controversial for the government to tackle right now”

    So is the national debt and easy money. Unlike Thatcher, the current Conservative leadership has neither the stomach nor the desire to take on any form of liberal decadence. Apres eux la deluge.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    Maybe the Conservatives should ditch Cameron, and put Hammond in charge while they decide what kind of party they really want to be.

  • tom jones

    Conservative HQ? ME? Ha! If I was there, I wouldn’t tell them to try and turn the clock back like a vocal minority in our party are trying to do. Yes, I’d say justice is on the side of criminals and it needs to change, yes immigration is too high and we’re not doing enough to tackle it and yes the economy needs growth and that means slashing red tape. But I’m more liberal on things like gay marriage and HOL reform because if vested interests are against something (Unions, church, MPs who hope to become Lords one day) then they shouldn’t be bowed down to.

  • Cynic

    I foresee that gay “marriage” will mean Cameron has lost the postal vote!

  • Fergus Pickering

    What is it you do, Milksnatcher? Child slavery? Manning galleys? Come. We long to hear.

  • Archimedes

    Why would this aggravate Cameron? William Hague, Eric Pickles and Phillip Hammond all coming out with pro-Tory and slightly anti-LibDem rhetoric today – you think this wasn’t coordinated by the higher echelons?

  • Ostrich (occasionally)

    stereodog 13th, 1:37pm

    “House of zlords”

    That’s what it was like the first time I visited, too.

  • stereodog

    Without paassing judgement on the substance just because the public aren’t interested in an issue doesn’t mean it’s not important. Constitutional issues rarely impact directly on peoples lives but they’re important in the long run. Conservatives above all ought to know this. They kept the issue of Europe alive in the teeth of public indifference. Now people care about Europe and they may one day have cause to care about the House of zlords.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Hello tom jones from Conservative HQ. If P Hammond should get back to running his department presumably so should William Hague stop making puerile comments about British business having to work harder and concentrate on doling our taxpayer funded largesse to developing nations. Oh and by the way Mr Hague, if you want to experience hard work, come and work with me for a week and you’ll crawl away crying for your mother.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Gays have money and are natural conservatives. Lords reform is a very bad idea. So ditch that one and push for gay marriage. Most of the vehement opponents are old rather than young so will die off soon. Can’t be too soon.eh?

  • Augustus

    The gay Conservative is a noble being, who receives precious little recognition. He is not consumed by an issue that may not be the omnipotent answer to all things gay, he sees through the hype and realizes there are more important issues than marriage on the horizon. Far too much is being made of the gay marriage debate, and the gay Liberals, the progressive hucksters, are glad to have people so committed to the debate, for they then have less time to dwell on realistic issues like the economy.
    And anyway, isn’t gay marriage just another step on a never-ending gay agenda?

  • Nicholas

    Further thoughts. Of course in the age of spin where marketing is king it is about shape-shifting – the makeover – and spinning any old yarn to win votes. Like spinning any old yarn to sell washing powder. What else would you expect from a PR stuntman?

  • Nicholas

    ” . . but gay marriage and lords reform are our Clause 4 moment and if we go ahead then we’re a modern party and if we don’t then we’re basically the same old Tories.”

    You jest surely? If so, why didn’t Cameron go the whole hog and re-name the party “New Conservative” – yuk. I note Ed has dropped the “New” in Labour but is it old Labour or new New Labour? Is a political party really about shape-shifting to win votes or about having beliefs, articulating them clearly, sticking to them in a manifesto and attracting those who share them?

  • balfour

    Here are some facts for those of you who want the conservatives to win the next election:
    The majority of people who are vehemently anti gay marriage already live in safe conservative constituencies.
    The majority of gay men and women in contrast live in highly marginal urban area such as London and Brighton (where two tory mps have majorities of little more than a thousand). They may not necessarily want to get married and many may be instinctively more right-wing on issues such as tax but they do care about equal rights and homophobic prejudice and are far less likely now to vote conservative as a result of the government going back on its commitments.

  • balfour

    Here are some facts for those of you who want the conservatives to win the next election:
    The majority of people who are vehemently anti gay marriage already live in safe conservative constituencies.
    The majority of gay men and women in contrast live in highly marginal urban area such as London and Brighton (where two tory mps have majorities of little more than a thousand). They may not necessarily want to get married and many may be instinctively more right-wing on issues such as tax but they do care about equal rights and prejudice and are far less likely now to vote conservative as a result of the government going back on its commitment.

  • Jeremy

    Peter Hoskin:

    “…he (Philip Hammond) also has a pop at the Lib Dems for impeding Tory efforts to create ‘a sensible and UK-based approach to human rights’…”

    Given the fact that the coalition government is currently seeking to introduce two of the most sinister and Orwellian measures of recent years – namely, The Justice and Security Bill and The Communications Data Bill – one wonders quite what Mr Hammonds ‘unfettered’ and ‘Tory’ approach to human rights might consist in? Searchlights, concentration camps and machine-gun posts, perhaps?

    It seems almost superfluous to point out that The Communications Data Bill contradicts the Prime Minister’s stated intention to ‘reverse the rise of the surveillance state’.

    This government appears to be interested in civil liberties only to the extent that it needs to know what they are in order to stamp them out.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Just because Downing Street and their little yellow pals want to brush under the carpet their furtive sweaty little attempts at social and political manipulation/ engineering under the carpet and pretend they are not doing anything only highlights their cowardice under fire and their lack of character. The fact they have even contemplated taking such actions when they are failing our economy only demonstrates their self-indulgent obsessional delusion.

    So Hammond is right to highlight it. Its in the best interests of the nation that Camerons pathetic little ‘liberal’ clique are shown up for what they actually are……

  • MilkSnatcher

    Actually what Hammond is saying that the Government has run out of ideas and is instead focussing on easy but largely irrelevant targets in order to shore up support within the various swing voter groups. And he’s right.

  • Tulkinghorn

    This is the kind of fighting talk that will restore our morale after the stupid budget.

    While others mince their words Hammond is not afraid to stick it to the liberal mish mash and socialists that seem to be controlling all around us.

  • tom jones

    Obviously the economy should be our #1 priority, but gay marriage and lords reform are our Clause 4 moment and if we go ahead then we’re a modern party and if we don’t then we’re basically the same old Tories. Yes our party did really really well in the 80s, but that was largely down to Thatcher and the divided opposition. We did terribly in the late 90s and 00s and I don’t want to go backwards, I want us to go forwards and be a party for all people not a party for the very few. Hammond is wrong and he should get back to dealing with his department not interfering with other ones.

  • Nicholas

    Now he’s done it. Doesn’t he realise that in modern “progressive” Britain only lefties in Labour and the Lib Dems are allowed to “speak out”? I can hear the “outrage” hair triggers twanging from all the usual suspects already.

    As an aside of little consequence I recently watched an old clip of Parkinson interviewing Peter Cook in the 1970’s. Cook was smoking and drinking throughout the interview. The jokes were grown up and subtle. It was quite a contrast to the dumbed down, shrieky, politically correct, sanctimonious, pompous, emasculated, kidult bilge with studio audiences full of smug lefty seals clapping inanely that passes for interviewing these days. How did we ever come to have a country so infested and run by simpering lefty wimpish “men” and the strident ban-everything women who control them? Is it a proliferation of mummy’s boys brought up in a single mother households? People who think the whole country should be governed like an infant class in primary school? It’s like a touchy, feely, ever so sharing and caring version of Lord of the Flies, No adults and the shrieking (but oh so caring) kidults are out of control.

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