Coffee House

David Cameron: It’s our fault voters don’t understand why austerity is necessary

10 December 2012

David Cameron paid a rare visit to those hacks that lurk in the Commons press gallery for lunch today. In between cracking jokes about how ‘as you know, I have very little control over what Boris does’, and tantalising us with references to his EU speech, which is coming ‘soon’, the Prime Minister made an interesting admission about the way his government is communicating with voters about the difficulties in the economy:

‘They are not expecting miracles. I think what people hear is a rather hard, technocratic message. They are not hearing – in fact, this is our fault – they are not hearing enough about why this matters and who this is for.’

He did say that the Autumn Statement did demonstrate that the government was on voters’ side, with its measures on fuel and personal tax allowances.


But as well as attacking Labour for not being ‘engaged’ in the central issues of politics, the Prime Minister also made the claim that this coalition government is going where previous Conservative governments had feared to tread. He said:

‘Previous Conservative governments were not prepared to cap welfare, previous Conservative governments did not reform state pensions, did not reform public sector pensions.’

One really interesting point – and one those leaving the government operation repeatedly make – was about the ‘gumming up’ of the Whitehall machine. It was one of his biggest regrets, he said, that he and other ministers hadn’t spent more time looking at the process by which their radical reforms could be realised: the stakeholder consultations and equality impact assessment that slowed up the process.

And as for that EU speech, well, he’s not giving much away, other than that he doesn’t want to leave the union. Apparently, his EU policy is ‘tantric’, in that it will be even better once it finally comes. What a delightful image to help the hacks digest their lunch.

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  • TomTom

    Die Welt 11 Dec “The New Sick Man of Europe” “bisher ist abgesehen von Steuererhöhungen und gestoppten
    Infrastrukturprojekten wenig passiert.” Apart from Tax Increases and Cuts in Infrastructure Spending nothing has changed. 0.9% growth since May 2010. This article by Simon Nixon is from the WSJ.

    Cameron is simply drifting and letting the country slide into decades of no growth and perpetual pockets of unemployment. this country will resemble Detroit MIchigan with a gilded elite living in London and the country sliding into decay

  • redrum

    No wonder they don’t know anything about it – no one’s actually talking about it, how deep the hole is, and they are even further from actually doing anything about it.

  • dalai guevara

    It sounded promising two years ago – austerity, the Greek solution, was coming to Britain.

    The bonfire of the quangos, check
    PFI school cull, check
    No cuts to the NHS, check
    Olympic sustainability, check

    In less than 24 months, we are reminded that quangos are phoenixes by nature and that *sustainability* is a buzz word of German origin.

  • barbie

    Well he can keep talking about austerity because he knows little about it, its just a word to him. We who are suffering it know full well what its all about, so for him to assume we don’t understand is foolish and taking us for fools. Trying to find enough money to fund heating bills, food, and debt for many people makes them more astute than he thinks. Its called living in the world of reality.
    However, when people read and hear people like the Chancellor saying its our moral duty to spend 15 billion on foreign aid, and we have to accept it, it makes them very angry. When they see foreigners claiming child benefit here at a great cost to the nation, they don’t like it. When they see foreigners taking jobs we should have for our own, they don’t like that either. Most of all, when they see a PM doing nothing but quietly agree with the EU and do nothing what the nation wants, they get very angry. We have conflicts of interest over prisoner votes, gay marriage, now the EU Human Rights Court. The nation is confused. The Conservative party is confused, in fact its split right down the middle. Where does that leave a nation, who have been bleed dry by two previous governments, we could do without another one. Cameron does not realise the extent of anger over the question of a referendum, his betrayal and lost promises. You can fool a nation some of the time, but not all of the time, its decision time for Cameron and he knows it.


    Camoron’s tombstone should read “At last, sharing the proceeds of growth.”

    The first and last time one of his pathetic utterances would actually prove true.

    And I do hope some of the more realistic and brilliant postings by today’s contributers to the New Spectator, the non-salaried ones that is, are being read by someone in Downing Street.

  • Robert_Eve

    How can Cameron say he underestimated the effect of the Equality Act? Harriet’s legacy.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    And as for that EU speech, well, he’s not giving much away, other than
    that he doesn’t want to leave the union. Apparently, his EU policy is
    ‘tantric’, in that it will be even better once it finally comes. What a
    delightful image to help the hacks digest their lunch.

    One has often proferred the view that those in the Freakshow are a bunch of onanists!

    Of course the irony is Cameron has less than three years to deliver it because there ain’t a cat’s chance in hell of him winning the next election

    • HooksLaw

      ‘This week in Brussels, I actually had a meeting with representatives
      of the Norwegian government … They actually wanted my help in changing two pieces of EU legislation; the tobacco products and audio visual directives.
      …. why would Norway – a country outside the EU – be worried about EU law?

      Quite simply because, as a member of the European Economic Area, which has
      favoured trading status with the EU, Norway has to conform to EU laws.’

      Its sad to see ‘LabourList’ are more in touch with reality than the Speccy Bozos.

      • an ex-tory voter

        The only “bozos” on Speccy are the trolls such as yourself.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    He’s certainly right about that after all why should people understand when all Cameron has done is applied the brakes to the government spending slightly more than Labour. Debt is still rising at an outrageous rate and if ever the interest rates shift upwards the country is screwed. Government is still seriously in need of counselling and rehabilitation for its debt addiction .

    John Major’s Government 1990-1997 borrowed an additionl £196 billion ( 28 billion per annum)

    Tony Blair’s Government 1997 – 2007 borrowed an additional £152 billion (£15 billion per annum)

    Gordon Brown’s Government 2007-2010 borrowed an additional £260 billion (£86.5 billion per annum)

    David Cameron’s Government will borrow an additional £606 billion (£121 billion per annum)

    This is not austerity. Its Government lunacy.

    Not only that but whilst Cameron keeps on with these profligate and ridiculous policies such as the International Aid increase, the peddling of the least efficient form of clean energy technology (wind turbines), the soft shoe shuffle over EU spending, HS2, the Snoopers Charter, the NHS database reinvented etc etc etc how can anyone believe that Cameron is taking austerity seriously?

    At best all this is is Cameron punishing the electorate (minimum alcohol pricing, welfare cuts, forcing up energy prices) so he can pay for his and the rest of the liberal elites vanity projects. Where is the money going?

    Until Cameron gets his priorities right (and I won’t even go into AV+, boundary changes, Leveson etc etc) no one is going to accept this pathetic line about austerity. Because in reality what this government is doing is nothing like austerity. Its not even tightening the belt by one notch.

    In general this Government is increasingly looking like a sad third rate replica of the Blair/ Brown Government which promised much delivered almost nothing of worth actually did considerable damage to the country and spent a whoie lot of our money in doing nothing.

    What’s worse is even if we rid ourselves of Cameron we get the idiot Miliband who will no doubt just carry on down the same course as his predecessors wrecking the country as he does and sending us hurtling towards bankruptcy

    • HooksLaw

      Non discretionary government departmental spending is being reduced by 25%. In cash terms ‘total managed government spending’ is set to rise by £69bn. Adjusted for inflation it will fall by £35bn, or 5 per cent through to 2016-17. And departmental spending will fall by £51bn in real terms, or 16 per cent.

      What were the figures for Blair Brown?

      The Autumn statement announced further cuts (so successful have they been in not actually spending). The AS also announced ‘cuts to welfare’ which were immediately attacked by the opposition and hammered by the BBC.

      In other areas government jobs have fallen and are set to fall further. Its expected that there will be 1.1 million fewer public sector jobs by 2017.

      What were the figures for Blair and Brown?

      Answer those questions and you will see you are talking cobblers.

      • TomTom

        “Non discretionary government departmental spending is being reduced by
        25%” .That is simply not possible or DWP would be cutting the State Pension and the DoH would be cutting NHS BUdgets dramatically and DfID would be reduced dramatically

  • johnproblem

    “Also, remember I am getting Britain moving again. I was personally responsible for £100 million of business orders in Brazil, during the 24 hours I was there. Even if it did cost £800,000 to hire the plane. But that’s a small amount and only equals 0.001% of the orders I got, according to George. Tell you what though, chaps, and this is off the record. You must admit that my going on about Europe is a jolly good way to keep the voters’ mind of the economy. Ditto the civil service, and gay marriage and regulating the press, and so on. Doncha think?”

  • HooksLaw

    The Dutch government have just had an election. Anti austerity socialists defeated. As indeed was the loony tune right. Guess what – the new coalition (basically conservative social democrat liberal) have announced an austerity package. Someone better tell Ed and Ed.

  • pigou_a

    The “austerity” measures have increased the deficit and debt, as predicted by many economists. Cameron and Osborne have failed.

    Would it be worth someone asking Cameron whether he thinks Larry Summers has changed his mind?

    Larry Summers April 2011:

    “I am too soon out of government to use a word like “nuts” [of the Brito-European austerity policy.]

    I find the idea of expansionary fiscal contraction in the context of the world in which we now live today to be every bit as oxymoronic as it sounds. I think the consequences are likely to be very serious for the countries involved.

    I think it is important to distinguish between countries that are not borrowing [and spending] because they cannot borrow, where there is a question as to how large a subsidy they should be given from the outside when they have worked themselves into a situation in which they are no longer able to borrow. That involves one set of issues.

    A very different set of issues is raised by those with very little scope to expand monetary policy with the capacity to borrow who choose not to borrow based on the conclusion that improved fiscal hygiene will make everyone so much better that the economy will recover. This seems to me to be a very high-order gamble. It is not one I would be prepared to bet on.

    I have always been an empiricist, so I will be happy to say that if Britain enjoys a boom over the next two years coming from increased confidence, I will be required to quite radically rethink my view of how the macroeconomy operates, and to be quite contrite about the seriousness of the misjudgments that I am making.

    You can make a judgment, those of you who know me, how big a risk I would take of putting myself in such a position of contrition. And you might conclude that I am highly confident that the [Brito-European] experiment is not going to work out well.”

    • Curnonsky

      Well, since Summers quietly slunk out the back door of the White House some time ago as it became apparent that his Keynesian spend-your-way-out-of-the-hole plan was a colossal failure, perhaps we should take his prognostications with a pinch of salt?

    • HooksLaw

      ‘increased the deficit’ ? Instant fail. Or did you switch off the BBC after Ed Balls’ first spluttering sentence?

  • Madame Merle

    What can anyone expect, he’s a PR type?

    To the medical profession PR stands for “per rectum” , so Dave,

    up yer bum !

  • Daniel Maris

    Necessary for whom? The CEOs who saw a 27% rise in remuneration last year? Is that austerity? Or maybe the companies earning hundred of millions here and paying no corporation tax…is that austerity?

    • OldSlaughter

      The difference being that that is his money and between him and the board and the shareholders.

  • ben corde

    We hear okay, but we don’t believe a word because Mr Cameron has previous for broken promises and U turns. In short he’s the reason why UKIP is growing so fast and ex Con voters like ourselves now see him as overseeing the continuance of the great betrayal of Britain’s heritage and future by the established three parties. Ask him what he thinks Winston Churchill would think of the present state of our country. There is only one party now with the manifesto that this country needs and that is UKIP. I’m looking forward to seeing some big name defections before too long.

    • realfish

      Quite right. UKIP for me too, by a landslide I’d say. Bound to be. No? That’ll send old ‘flabby face’ (well said, Vulture) packing…and that young lefty Miliband. Mind you, if UKIP did open the door for Labour, I’d sooner have the commie than Cameron and his band of lefties. If he and Balls bugger-up the country, even more, it’s a price worth paying, just like it was in ’97, don’t you think? Bill Cash, Teresa and the other ‘bastards’ were the heroes of their time and made Britain a better place. Once again we can retrench and build a proper Tory party that everyone in the country will support. Peter Bone has got it right. Back-Bone, I say!!!!…and Nadine (who surely must be one of your big name on the brink )

      And talking of buggering things up, Farridge will soon sort out all of those homos, don’t you reckon? According to Con Home, they’re everywhere. Buggered us all in the dorm, mercilessly. Now they want to bugger up the church by getting married there. You’re right, this wouldn’t have happened with dear old Winnie…nor that pesky, EU sponsored, HS2 business.

      We’ve got to stop. Whatever it is. Now. Britain never got to where it got today by bending the knee. Yes! UKIP by a landslide.

      Must go. Off to watch ‘American Beauty’.

  • TomTom

    Cameron is a poster boy for revolution. He symbolises all that is wrong with the political system in this country with his hereditary position in the House of Commons and his total divorce from the everyday reality of the citizens of this island

  • Bellevue

    Talking about reforming the state pension…… I see this is not going to apply to MPs. Well thats a surprise!

    • HooksLaw

      The ‘state pension’ is not an occupational pension scheme. MPs have a final salary scheme. No surprise that you do not know the difference

      MPs have a scheme with a choice of accrual rates. MPs can choose to contribute at 1/40th, 1/50th or 1/60th. It is a contributory pension with the contribution rates set at 11.9%, 7.9% and 5.9% respectively. The contribution rate was increased for all MPs as part of a package of cost-saving measures agreed by the House of Commons on 25 June 2009

      It is contracted-out of the second tier of the State Pension. The main
      rules of the PCPF are in regulations made under sections 40 and Schedule
      6 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010) (CRAG).

      To cut a long story short, since most people on here are only interested in a vague link to reality, the average MP’s pension being paid that has been financed by a contribution from the Exchequer is estimated to be around £15,000 pa


  • Silverghost

    I don’t understand why he doesn’t stop talking about austerity and do something about it. Cuts of 1.6%? Nowhere close to cutting the waste. But then, if he’s never had a proper job, he hasn’t got any experience to draw on.

    • telemachus

      Stop talking about austerity
      Stop thinking austerity
      Think Growth
      If he spent half the time he bleats about austerity planning a true Growth Agenda we would be powering ahead now
      He could listen to Ed Balls

      • redrum

        Oh dear – might I suggest the Spectator isn’t for you my friend. Balls by name, Balls up by nature. A true Growth Agenda (your emphasis) requires a dramatic withdrawal of the state, giving the people back their own money, and allow us to create a more prosperous future. Turning people into “state clients” can never achieve this

        • telemachus

          I actually agree with you but since the banks will not let our entrepreneurs get there we need Balls style pump priming

          • TomTom

            You really must learn some Economics sunshine and read some Hyman Minsky before spouting drivel

      • mikewaller

        Which part of cuckoo-land do you live in? Politicians of Ball’s type have spent about 60 years taking your approach and in doing so have built up a debt so massive that if we show the slightest sign of cutting back on cuts we will be crushed under the weight of rising interest rates. The problem is that our national productivity when measured in terms of volume of goods or services created per unit of cash spent does not enable us to complete across a very wide range of economic activity. In some specialist areas we are still OK but over time it will get worse and worse. How long, for example, before the Chinese have a large aero-engine industry? The happy days when we and our like make the clever things and the third world sold us the raw materials very cheaply are well and truly over.

        Where Cameron is right is blaming the politician for not really getting the message over. As I have repeatedly said, the biggest villains here have been ego-maniacal Tory MPs – many new intake – who seem to see themselves as latter-day John “Ship Money – Hampdens rather than the posturing fools they are. Their primary objective seems to be impressing their chums down at the Conservative Club by “dissing” the LDs. No wonder Joe Public thinks it cannot be that bad if MPs are carrying on as they are.

  • LB

    Of course it is.

    The reason is that you’ve hidden the big debts off the books.

    See for 4,700 billion hidden off the books.

    It’s a bit late to come clean. You could have come clean, and dropped Labour in it.

    However, since all parties have been in on the Fraud, its hard to tell people, well, you know all your pension contributions, cradle to the grave etc, we’ve spent it. The whole lot.

    You won’t get a state pension, but you’ve contributed to other living on welfare. That’s jolly nice of you.

    PS, My pension? Well, we made sure that had assets backing it up, and we’ve exempted it from all those caps and limits. That’s for the little people.

  • Vulture

    Every time I see that flabby well-fed face, the colour and texture of smoked salmon, my heart sinks. Of course people aren’t going to accept lessons in austerity from a posh toff who has never missed a meal in his priviliged existence. Everything in his well-manicured hands turns to shit.

    • LB

      They were shit when he took over.

      They are now even more shit.

      You’re pension – spent. It’s gone. There are no assets. It’s Maxwell all over.

      • 2trueblue

        Well who do you think spent your pension? HE may not be up to much but he didn’t do it, the other lot did, let by Teflon Tony, Balls, Brown, Millipedes and Whelan.

        • TomTom

          Actually Lawson and Lamont raided private pensions first which is why there were pension fund deficits in Plcs

    • 2trueblue

      And we had the Liebore version for 13yrs prior to that. We are totally and utterly stuffed. Where can he take us with nothing in the coffers? Liebore truely did a job on the finances of the UK over 13 yrs and until people realise that there was nothing there then, there is even less now. Blair really was a master at the illusion and we need a ton of miracles to get us off the bottom. It there enough of the British spirit to get us there? Are there enough British here to do it?

  • the viceroy’s gin

    This guy is one of the most useless gits to appear on the public stage in my lifetime.

    And not even a puff piece like this one can cover it up. It’s hopeless.

    • EJ

      This country is descending into hell while this pompous twit dithers at the side-lines with gay marriage. This publication should be tearing him to shreds, not writing non-articles like this couched in the language of the starry-eyed student desperate to get a summer placement.

      Within twenty years this country will be in social, demographic and economic turmoil. And this idiot had a chance to do something about it. Instead, he’s handed the next election on a platter to the traitorous, anti-British shower of Labour to finish the destruction they started under Blair. I despair for this country.

      • BurcombeMan

        So careless have Cameron and Osborne been with the Tory party, I doubt we will ever have another Tory government. I find the pair absolutely depressing. I am astonished that the lobby fodder do not understand.

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