Conservative Diary

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Conservatives fight back on Council Tax, quangos, and spending control (and fire more early shots at Labour's leader-to-be)

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-09-24 at 07.32.33 As Tim and I wrote recently, the Coalition's "summer of scrutiny" of Labour didn't happen (see here and here).  And the Coalition still doesn't seem to have united on a message to give voters.  But this morning, Conservative Ministers and MPs are making waves.  Indeed, they're fighting back against their critics and Labour like scrappers in one of those old-fashioned episodes of "Batman" -

Zap! 177 quangos are to go.  Ministers have either listened to our advice, taken someone else's or hit on the idea themselves.  The Daily Telegraph leads on the story.  I'd like to see the details, but it's a promising start.

Bash! As Harry Phibbs reports today in our Local Government section, Eric Pickles, newly appointed to the Star Chamber to help concentrate the minds of erring spending Ministers, presses his steamroller progress on by cancelling Labour’s plans for a council tax revaluation in England, saving families up to £320 a year, and launching a review into intrusive snooping by council tax inspectors.  He was pressing the fairness angle during a joshing Today interview earlier this morning.  Again, let's wait to see what the review comes up with, but it's a sound initiative.

Screen shot 2010-09-24 at 07.32.48 Whack! As Tim reports in LeftWatch, Matt Hancock is up and at Labour again, pinning the Milibands to the Labour spending scaleback they supported in Government, highlighting their campaigning spending commitments during the last few months...and their opposition to just about every saving the Government's announced.  First of all, they're committed to savings, says Hancock - but won't say how they'd make them.  Next, they're committed to spending - but won't say how they'd fund them.  Labour's sums don't add up!  This is classic Treasury/Shadow Treasury Ju-Jitso of the type that Hancock (and Balls on the other side of the aisle) excel at.

It's heartening to see the Government fighting back.  Oh, and one point from today's push that may be the shape of things to come - namely, that the Liberal Democrats don't seem to have played a part in the assault.  I suspect that the main reason isn't unwillingness or incapacity.  Rather, it's that it's less easy for the two parties, with their different centres of political and ideological gravity, to agree on a line of fire.  When it comes to Labour to account, expect Conservative Ministers to take the lead - as well as when it comes to cutting household bills and shredding red tape.


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