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Money turns out to be more of an object for floods than Cameron suggested

12 February 2014

This week is offering quite a lesson in how politicians answer difficult questions. Yesterday Philip Hammond said people like him didn’t ‘do’ yes-no questions, and today Patrick McLoughlin, the latest victim of the floods rota that sees a new minister trying to make sense of the whole thing each day, showed us how you can say ‘no’ to a question but using many, many more words. Asked on the Today programme whether David Cameron’s claim that ‘money is no object’ meant new money for transport infrastructure, McLoughlin said:

I think what you’ve got to look at is what we’re spending anyway. We’re about to embark on a new five year plan for Network Rail where we will be spending £38bn on the railway infrastructure over the next five years. Now that’s some very big and important projects that are going to increase capacity.’

In an earlier interview on ITV’s Daybreak, McLoughlin had said ‘I don’t think it’s a blank cheque’. But if money is no object then that means there is a blank cheque. Or was the Prime Minister exaggerating yesterday?

P.S. What the Prime Minister meant was that Britain could afford to look after its flood victims without raiding things like the aid budget. He wasn’t advocating some kind of wild Brown-esque spending spree. But the contrast between ‘money no object’ and ‘no blank cheque’ isn’t helpful.

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  • Smithersjones2013

    What the Prime Minister meant was that Britain could afford to look
    after its flood victims without raiding things like the aid budget.

    Well when we are borrowing £120 billion per year of course we can afford it.

    So he’s going to shake the money tree again and see what falls out is he? Let’s not forget that if he doesn’t take it from other budgets like the Aid budget it means additional borrowing. This glib dismissal argument of raiding “contingency fund” is just spin. Cameron is going to borrow more!

  • Makroon

    McLoughlin is a useless interviewee, which genius thought that was a good idea ?
    The maximum authorised capital for the contingencies fund is about £9B.
    Cameron was talking about “disaster relief”, not long-term projects. The government should easily be able to finance this.
    Despite the media frenzy, the number of households, and land area directly affected is not enormous.
    Of course Farage will talk through his backside to whip up a bit more xenophobia and panic, but if he was a serious politician, he would do some homework first.

  • WatTylersGhost

    Cameron will effectively bankroll an Indian space programme but not a railway to Cornwall.
    All hot air again from cast iron Dave

    • HookesLaw

      The govt is stopping aid to India which persevered throughout the Labour years.

      Its not a good advert for your logical and observational skills when you repeat lies about the tory euro manifesto in 2009.

  • southerner

    “Or was the Prime Minister exaggerating yesterday?”

    No, he was lying.

    • Alexsandr

      no the detail will be in the small print that will be full of caveats

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    ‘Money is no object’ — wise words, and indeed true. Money is created at the push of a button, it is ficitonal and no longer backed by fundamentals.

  • OriginalChris

    Another of Cameron’s “cast iron” promises?

  • anyfool

    Money nor principles are never an object when votes are at stake, especially when it is someone else`s money, and you are devoid of principles.
    Unfortunately this politically has been case for about 25 years.

  • Bluesman_1

    Not being truthful? A British politician? The Prime Minister?

    Surely some mistake.

  • George_Arseborne

    Does this Prime Minister seek advice before talking?. This is how damaging PR can do to a man who can not stand naturally. I believe Osborne is more powerful than this Cameron. Oh! What a waste.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Yes, why do you bother?

  • Thatcherite Lee

    Isabel yet again you disappoint me.
    Why does situations like this always end up with idiots demanding more money be spent from the magic money tree.
    How about we spend existing money more wisely or is that concept not politically correct in media land?

    • Mynydd

      It was Mr Cameron who said money was not a problem. One could add, because the magic money tree called welfare cuts will provide more than enough. By the way,m the idiots demanding more money to be spent, are the wealthy who bought fashionable riverside homes

      • Alexsandr

        not every place that floods is populated by the rich. I seem to remember a council estate in Hull and places north of Doncaster.
        Seem to remember some quite modest houses in Moulton too.
        But lets not let facts get in the way of envious bile.

        • Makroon

          Correct, and of course the 2007 floods also didn’t result in “financial meltdown” as large sections of the media and unscrupulous politicians would have us believe is threatened now.

      • HookesLaw

        Money is not a problem. There is a contingency fund in the budget for just such an emergency purpose and the money already earmarked for expenditure can be prioritised.

      • Thatcherite Lee

        The point I’m making is that it’s absurd to suggest we should be spending “new money” as the media like to call it which is just media speak for borrowed money.
        They’e made it clear today that they’re going to use underspends and contingency funds which is exatly what they should be doing but the media are gettting into hysterics because it’s not new.

        • Makroon

          Spot on. At least one poster on here who understands the ‘price of apples’.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Oh so wealthy people, having committed the grievous sin of being successful, are not deserving of any sympathy. Labour the spiteful arty of lies, lying and liars.

  • Colin56

    Politician doesn’t answer straight question: please explain why that is a surprise? Politician shoots mouth off and makes grandiose commitment on which he is later unable to deliver: ditto. It must have been a very slow morning at Spectator Towers.

  • david trant

    Hmmm money no object, that won’t last. Those who are pushing the alternative route avoiding the coast in South Devon, have obviously never been there, or can’t read a map. Devon’s almost entire population (85%) live in the narrow coastal strip between Exeter and Plymouth. A route branching off from Exeter to Newton Abbott linking to Torbay would have to be driven through really difficult terrain, costing billions, without the prospect of any worthwhile revenue to repay the capital costs. Repairing Dawlish and protecting by building a screen is the only viable answer. There would still have to be a rail link through Dawlish/Teignmouth to Newton Abbott anyway, those towns would not be happy if they didn’t have their rail link, their economies would be very badly affected.

    • rtj1211

      Can’t you just get Boris’ tunnelling kit for Crossrail down to Devon/Cornwall in about 2018 and blast a new route through the middle?? Penzance-Bodmin Parkway- Exeter as a new ‘High Speed Route’. Keep the coastal line for intra-SW traffic and have a nice park n ride in Bodmin with bus services fanning out to get there from all around in 30 minutes.

      It’s probably insane, but has anyone ever done the maths??

    • HookesLaw

      Can’t read a map?
      there are and always have been alternatives and proposals

      ‘Trains can already run to Meldon, west of Okehampton, on a freight line
      and there are currently plans to reopen a stretch of line connecting
      Tavistock southwards to Bere Alston.’
      ‘It appears the cross-country alternative is leading the race ahead of
      two other possible routes: a 15-mile stretch of the former Teign Valley
      line from Exeter to Newton Abbot which was closed in 1958, and the
      Dawlish Avoiding Line, which was legislated for in the 1930s but halted
      by the Second World War’

    • Makroon

      Sounds entirely reasonable. At times like these, the journos, cranks and opportunists of every hue, have a field day.

  • In2minds

    And this is the same Patrick McCloughlin who will not publish the unfavourable HS2 report, yes we can trust him!

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