Coffee House

Cameron defends government policy his Tory colleagues hate

21 May 2014

4:23 PM

21 May 2014

4:23 PM

A Prime Minister defending a government policy is usually quite unremarkable. But today David Cameron defended the Government’s free school meals policy, and given the amount of vitriol this has attracted between the two Coalition parties in recent weeks, that really is remarkable. He told the World at One:

‘I don’t really accept it was made on the hoof because, as I say, it was trialled, a decent amount of time has been set aside for its introduction, £150m… Any change is always difficult and I think you should judge the change as it comes in.

‘This Government has made a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of changes but so often what you see is an enormous fuss when they’re announced and then actually after some time people can see well, actually, this policy is working, this is delivering.

‘And the idea of all infants in school being able to have school meals and sitting and eating together, I think in a few years’ time people will look back and say “well, why on earth didn’t we do that before?”.’

This is significant not just because Cameron is contradicting the briefings from former Conservative advisers such as Dominic Cummings about the policy being made on the hoof to please Nick Clegg but also because of what it says about the way the Coalition has worked on Education policy in particular. As Cummings told Coffee House recently, the only way the Tories in the Education department achieved as much as they did in terms of reform was because they ignored the influential Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Nick Clegg, ‘against the wishes of Downing Street’. It wasn’t just that DfE was in conflict with the Deputy Prime Minister, but that it was in conflict with Number 10, too, and it’s quite clear that on the matter of free school meals, Number 10 rolled over for Clegg against the wishes of the Tories in DfE.

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Show comments
  • Mynydd

    The question he should have answered, why should children in a family’s with an income of £250,000 plus have free school meals.

  • Peter Stroud

    Cameron is making a massive mistake if he is yielding to Clegg. The DPM is certainly not a man of principle, and he will always bite the hand that feeds him.

  • GraveDave

    Why not. Free schools meals today. Foodbanks tomorrow.

  • ArchiePonsonby

    Good luck today, Nige! (Not that I think that you’ll need it!) Wipe that smug expression from this useless bastard’s face!

  • HJ777

    In independent schools, the children always have school-provided lunches. And it happens without government diktat.

    This is another reason why there is no good reason for the government to run schools. Schools make better decisions when they have to satisfy parents and pupils and get their funding from them. This would only leave the issue of funding pupils and avoid all the arguments over what government policy should be on matters best left to schools and parents.

  • Blindsideflanker

    What are we paying Child support for if we are having to pay to feed their little darlings?

    • telemachus

      Every little helps

    • Makroon

      You may not like children. Mr Farage has four.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    ‘And the idea of all infants in school being able to have school meals and sitting and eating together, I think in a few years’ time people will look back and say “well, why on earth didn’t we do that before?”.’

    -but are the free school meals dependent on parents filling in stupid intrusive means testing type forms? Will such parents have to ring up some so-called government agency and plead ( since beggars can’t be choosers) to be a victim of financial circumstance in order to get the free school meals?

    One wonders; when will the government slip in the £20 service charge, for the joy of systematically pleading like a victim so the kids will benefit of free school meals?

    Will those people earning over a certain amount be excluded from the free school meals scheme? ( as in poor child benefits) In such a scenario; would it be fair that only wealthy parents could avoid the indignity of disclosing any amount of personal, private financial information to government ( or otherwise) funded workers -because they can afford to feed their kids without government help?

    Why on earth didn’t this government leave the child benefit system alone and instead give parents more money directly to benefit children?

    o i remember; more people making a meal out of other people’s lives, adds to the GDP.

    • HookesLaw

      I thought the policy was for free meals for all children of a certain age. So there is no means testing.
      Its without this policy there would be the tests, as I presume there are now.

      • telemachus

        Correct for once

        • HookesLaw

          So are you

  • Robert_Eve

    I read the headline and thought this post was about unreal marriage.

    • telemachus

      What on earth is unreal marriage

  • Blindsideflanker

    Of course Cameron does, if Conservative MP’s or activists, or voters are against something, then Cameron’s default position is to be for it.

    I was struck by May’s attack on the police force, and thought, though the Police deserved to be taken down a peg or two, I am not sure they deserved the vitriolic attack that May dealt them, and when I heard it thought Uhho, more triangulation coming from the Cameron Conservatives, where they attack groups who you might think were part of their core support.

    • telemachus

      May who purports to be a law and order home secretary is politically stupid to stick the boot in the day before they go head to head with right wing UKIP

      • MirthaTidville

        Well finally something we can agree on old Son. One of the most unpleasant people in politics, something sadly she seems to enjoy

        • telemachus

          Agree the politician who delights to sneer at the rest of us

      • Makroon

        So, as a lefty, northern lad, you would be quite OK with police and their federation lying through their teeth about Hillsborough ?

    • HookesLaw

      May was attacking the police federation. Which is not the same thing. We have just seen the police federation exposed as trying to bring down an elected government

      So despite what you and Tidville are saying she is not attacking the police. She she told the federation its public funding would be withdrawn from August.
      Good thing too.
      She went to the police federation conference and stuck it to them
      Good.
      She also announced the Home Office would use its powers to inspect the
      federation’s accounts, and announced that she would be bringing forward
      proposals to make the organisation subject to the Freedom of Information
      Act.
      Good
      After her speech a motion was passed to reform the federation
      Good.
      All things the public will applaud.

      When will thick kippers actually wake up?

      • Blindsideflanker

        Don’t bother with a name we can tell its you, HookesLaw , by your personal abuse, which usually resorts to play ground name calling that questions peoples intelligence.

        Oh by the way , the Police Federation, almost unanimously passed sweeping reforms today. So what was the purpose of May’s grandstanding?

        • HookesLaw

          So she was not criticising the police then – do you admit that? She was rightly criticising the federation. You are so thick it not true – you are calling me out for complaining that the kipper nutjobs are totally misrepresenting what May said.
          This you relate to as abuse.
          The plain fact is if I had not pointed this out we could hardly rely on the terminally thick editor of the Spectator to correct it.

          I think I am entitled to be more than angry when the actions of the Home Secretary are grossly misrepresented by some idiot propagandist for a vile political party.

          May did not grandstand the vote was after her speech. She spoke what had to be said. The record the truth now is enshrined in pixels

      • Kaine

        I love how Tories realised policemen sometimes tell fibs with Plebgate, a fact most of the nation learn as adolescents.

      • Makroon

        Indeed, that was a good start. Now she needs to remove the absurd hidden public subsidies for other unions.

  • southerner

    What school children? Nigel’s eaten them all hasn’t he? Or drowned them. Something like that.

    • telemachus

      He would if he could

      • Lucy Sky Diamonds

        would he really?

        • telemachus

          You know so

  • Colonel Mustard

    “And the idea of all infants in school being able to have school meals and sitting and eating together, I think in a few years’ time people will look back and say “well, why on earth didn’t we do that before?”.

    We did. I can remember them and the smell of overcooked cabbage and the dinner ladies BO, long before Mr Cameron was even born.

    • ButcombeMan

      So can I, but we paid for them, and why not?

      • telemachus

        Because we need to consider the poor who are getting poorer and reduce the level of malnutrition in our children

        • Colonel Mustard

          Er, three in 10 two-to-15-year-olds are overweight and 14-20% are obese.

          • telemachus

            Because their parents can afford only junk food

            • you_kid

              Nonsense – people cannot and will not cook. That’s why it’s on TV 24/7. Food is processed, even bits that do not require processing. Bread no longer exists in Britain, it’s steamed industrial product, one step away from Soylent Green.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …well it sounds suitable for your goat, lad. So there’s that.

            • ButcombeMan

              A myth, junk food is more expensive than cooking from the ingredients.

              • GraveDave

                Bollocks is it.

              • GraveDave

                I ‘m a chef. I can cook a meal out of anything. But the thing about eating bean soups and the like is that in practice it doesn’t actually feed anyone. In other words – two farts later and you’re raiding the cupboard again. Especially children.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Plainly not a very wise Chef. I grew up in 40s and 50s. There was no junk food.

            • HJ777

              I cook real food from scratch – junk food is far too expensive.

              • GraveDave

                Bollocks. Go in places like Iceland and then say that.

                • HJ777

                  We had my favourite home made chick pea, lentil and tomato curry last night (enough for 4) with rice, carrots and broccoli. Total cost around £2.

                  Iceland own-brand chicken nuggets 448g (enough for 4) £1.50. Iceland own brand oven chips £1.00 (for 1.5Kg – which may do two meals for 4 if not very hungry). Iceland own brand frozen mixed veg £0.90 for 900g.

                  One of us is talking bollocks – it isn’t me.

                • GraveDave

                  Yes, you are because you’re not including the other costs.

                • helicoil

                  I do every Saturday and marvel at how cheaply I can make a meal for 2 people for half the price of one pizza from the place next door.

                • GraveDave

                  Yeah, right . Twelve mini pizzas for a quid. And you can make your own cheaper I expect you can pull a rabbit out of your backside as well.

          • Kaine

            You can be fat and malnourished. Having a high BMI doesn’t magically protect you from vitamin deficiency.

          • GraveDave

            Well, we can always have a special table for the chavs and fatties . And they can have just bread and water.

            • helicoil

              Include thicks**ts in that list and you could join them.

              • GraveDave

                I’m only trying to be a real Tory. Cant you see that.

        • ButcombeMan

          Malnutrition is largely caused by ignorance, bad education and culture in the UK.

          Hence the Scottish diet.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Did we? I can’t remember. It certainly wasn’t me who paid for them. My pocket money wouldn’t have stretched that far!

        • telemachus

          We had to
          But my parents could not afford and so I first walked home with my siblings for lunch and later took sandwiches
          My parents( Liberals) would have welcomed this initiative

          • ButcombeMan

            Consider yourself lucky to have had two parents.

            Riches.

            • Lungfish66
              • ButcombeMan

                Exactly-Very good.

                telemachus “walked home”, poor lad and presumably was able to have an idle (Liberal) parent at home to feed him.

        • ButcombeMan

          There is a (slightly leftish) history here, Colonel.

          http://www.educationengland.org.uk/articles/22food.html

          I recall taking half a crown a week to pay for dinners.

          We were far far fitter typically, than kids today, far more active.and wore much less clothing in the winter We ate much more fat and much less sugar.

          Many did not drink their 1/3 pint of free milk so I usually got at least three.

          Beef dripping on toast with salt when I got in from school

          • Colonel Mustard

            Thanks for that.

          • telemachus

            In August 1970, Thatcher responded to a Treasury demand for education cuts in four areas: Further Education fees; Library book borrowing charges; School meal charges; Free school milk.

            Gillard D (2003) Food for Thought: child nutrition, the school dinner and the food industry http://www.educationengland.org.uk/articles/22food.html

          • Makroon

            Ah yes …. takes me back ..
            I think school meals were free for infants ?
            And as for sugar, in the days of rationing, we each received a “quarter of a point” each week for buying sweets, and religiously trotted off to the sweet shop to “choose our poison” (it was about the only indulgence in those days).
            Only a quarter pound of sweets per week, but that established a bad habit which probably rotted millions of kids’ teeth.

    • Kaine

      There is nothing inherent to a canteen that means the food it serves must be 1950s’ slop.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I did not suggest that there should be. My comment was in response to Cameron’s arrogant and rather stupid belief that he knows better than those who have gone before him as he re-invents the wheel. A trait of modern politicians of his type.

        Besides I rather doubt that you are old enough to comment from first hand experience on 1950s food, whether “slop” or otherwise. I can assure you from first hand experience that many food products then were of much higher quality and better taste than those of today.

    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, me too.
      Cameron could have said “all the parties agree that it is a good idea, but, as usual, it is a question of priorities and scarce resources, and we needed to reach a compromise”.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …a socialist compromise, as usual for the Camerluvvies.

  • itdoesntaddup

    What’s he getting from Clegg in return?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      He’s angling for Clegg’s voters, and will be from here on out.

      This numpty Cameron is now moving (further) to the Left, if you can believe it.

      • telemachus

        Not far enough

    • telemachus

      I have it on good authority that Clegg and Cameron will work together to negate the UKIP effect on Tory and LibDem marginals in 2015

      • Lungfish66

        duh

    • Makroon

      Married couple tax allowance.

  • WatTylersGhost

    I have heard that all the free school meals will be Halal and Cameron, like the imam will give it his blessing.

    • Shazza

      How will the little girls manage to eat with the burka?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        It’s not clear, and neither is it clear why all the little girls are always mysteriously sent off home for +6 weeks, when they reach a certain age.

        • telemachus

          You need to substantiate that slur

          • the viceroy’s gin

            What “slur”, lad?

            • telemachus

              A slur redolent of the Vicar

              • the viceroy’s gin

                What “slur”, lad?

                I don’t know who you’re redolenting yourself over, and I don’t care.

                • telemachus

                  You know well
                  The miniscule number to which you refer must not be used to stain a whole religion

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, I don’t “know well”.

                  What “slur”, lad?

                  I don’t now what number it is that you reference, and I don’t care about that any more than your previous redolentions.

                • telemachus

                  Do not allude if you are scared to specify

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  What is it that you imagine is “alluded”, lad?

                  What is the “slur” you previously referenced?

                • Chris lancashire

                  He’s scared. He’s also rather pathetic.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, you socialists do like to fantasize what others are thinking, as we see.

      • Lungfish66
    • telemachus

      I suspect you mean that in a derogatory way
      You know well that it makes practical good sense to ensure that the meals are acceptable to the vast majority of children

      • WatTylersGhost

        Halal is unacceptable to the vast majority of children – if you bothered to ask them.

        • telemachus

          Most folk do not give a fig whether the abattoir plays a recorded incantation over their processes
          All are moving to stun before killing
          Grow up

          • WatTylersGhost

            Out of touch with the public again – ask them.

            • telemachus

              I saw the opinion polls after the supermarket Mail scare story a couple of weeks back

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