Conservative Diary

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Bad week for the Foreign Office, the United Nations and The Guardian

Tim Montgomerie

Week in Review yellow

Bad week for the Foreign Office: Getting Britons out of Libya did not go well. Andrew Neil tweeted yesterday that ministers were angry at the incompetence of FCO officials. And so they should be but that excuse cannot ever be used again. Lessons need to be learnt and lessons need to be learnt quickly. Another country in the region could be the next domino to fall. Cameron established the National Security Council to coordinate foreign, defence and homeland protection policies. It needs to recommend a way forward - perhaps putting the military in full charge of overseeing emergency evacuations.

RIFKIND NEW Good week for Tory foreign policy. Cameron edged to a more hopeful view of democratic change in the Middle East and it's not just he who is moving. In an important article Sir Malcolm Rifkind also suggested that there are good reasons to think democracy could now flower in the Arab world. Michael Gove will feel vindicated for all the reasons set out here.

Bad week for the United Nations. Yet again it has proved itself little more than a talking shop. At some point Conservatives need to become as UNsceptic as they are EUsceptic - only more so. We need to move to a world of maxilateralism - not waiting for the slowest, most reluctant nation in the convoy in order to make progress on an issue but to form coalitions of the willing, involving the maximum possible number of willing nations.

Good week for Eric Pickles. The best Tory councils are showing you can cut budgets AND protect frontline services. See this piece from the Leader of Southampton Council. We have another such encouraging story on the Local government blog tomorrow.

Statistic of the Week: "An analysis of papers sent to Downing Street and the Cabinet Office has revealed that just 40% are directly related to the Coalition's programme. Roughly 30% come from the Whitehall bureaucracy and another 30% from the EU." The new Downing Street structure - profiled here - is designed, in large part, to force Whitehall to focus more more on the Coalition's agenda. A key component of that agenda is a new presumption that alternative suppliers can deliver public services, ending the state monopoly.

David Cameron Moment of the Week: According to The Telegraph's City Diary the PM referred to the BBC as the BBCC - the British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation. Another sign of the Tory leadership's frustration at Auntie's coverage of the austerity era. Former BBC man Craig Oliver starts at Number 10 on Monday. His former employer's output will be at the top of his in-tray.


Friendly Fire Moment of the Week: The Telegraph splashing on job cuts in the NHS. Wednesday's Telegraph gave front page, big headline prominence to a trade union-sponsored report on job cuts in the NHS. Later that day the newspaper's Chief Leader Writer, David Hughes, described the job losses as a pin prick given the size of the NHS workforce. Mr Hughes was right and whoever splashed the story was wrong. Andrew Haldenby of Reform, more importantly, asked that we don't judge the effectiveness of an organisation by the amount of staff it employs.

Blog campaign of the week: Guido Fawkes' war against The Guardian's hypocrisy on tax avoidance and use of hedge funds. I think Guido is still waiting for Alan Rusbridger to answer his questions. I suspect he may wait a very, very long time.


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