14 December 2010

Pickles pickled

Even if you read no other commentary in the wake of the swingeing local government cuts announced yesterday, you should definitely read this piece by David Walker.

There is superb passage, which I simply have to quote in full, explaining just how much of an idiot Pickles is:

Pickles, not a man for figures, made a catastrophic error when he was one of the earliest cabinet ministers to settle with the Treasury. The size of the pending service cuts has since rattled him. Publicly he sneered at the Local Government Association's prediction of 140,000 jobs lost next year; privately he has been pleading with councillors to raid reserves to sustain their spending and begging George Osborne to ease off.

The man is a intellectually bankrupt fool. If people like this are being put in key positions in the ConDem govt it doesn't say much for its chances of re-election.

Pickles of course will try to put the blame for the impending collapse of local services on local government - but that will hardly be an easy sell, given that all the key parameters that local govt has to work with - the size of the funding settlement, and their ability to raise local taxation - are being determined by central government.

This is a supposedly "localist" administration that won't even allow elected local councillors to increase council tax.

One good thing about the local govt disaster is that Eric Pickles is not a Lib Dem and so there is no "human shield" for Dave Cameron here - Pickles is a Tory, and a particularly unpleasant one. A friend of mine with close links to the Labour party whom I had lunch with last week said it best: "Eric Pickles is behaving like a student activist". And this was a guy who was paraded up and down by Dave Cameron at the Tory conference as an example of a "good Cabinet minister". Draw your own conclusions.

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