Tag Archives: frontline

Cameron’s ‘preferential treatment’ offer to council leader breached ministerial code – claim

Wednesday really wasn’t a good day to be David Cameron.

First he was labelled stupid, for failing to realise what his cuts to local government funding actually meant.

Then he was called a hypocrite, for claiming that Oxfordshire County Council – his own local authority – should not cut particular services; services that were only endangered because of his cuts.

Now – most seriously – he has been accused of breaching the ministerial code, by offering help to the same authority that could only be provided by the prime minister, while corresponding with its leader in his capacity as a constituency MP.

There is a strict rule that ministers may not use the resources afforded to them as members of the government to provide preferential treatment to others – such as special access to top advisers.

David Cameron has been accused of offering a Conservative council chief special access to No 10 advisers as a way to resolve a disagreement about proposed budget cuts.

The prime minister is facing questions about his conduct after he wrote to Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire county council, chastising him for considering cuts to day centres, libraries and museums. Cameron’s own constituency of Witney falls within the area.

In the letter, Cameron extended an offer for how to help to manage the cuts, saying he would be happy to “initiate a dialogue” with the No 10 policy unit about the possibilities of devolution deals and suggesting that Hudspeth contact his aide Sheridan Westlake, who used to work in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Jon Ashworth, a shadow Cabinet Office minister, has written to the civil service chief Sir Jeremy Heywood asking for advice on the propriety of Cameron offering extra help for Oxfordshire.

He points out that the letter appears to have been written by the prime minister in his role as a Witney MP, even though the ministerial code states that he must keep separate his government and constituency role.

“Is it the case that if the prime minister has made this offer of ‘further dialogue’ available to the leader of his local county council, similar offers should be made to all the leaders of other councils?

“Surely the leader of the prime minister’s county council should not be given preferential treatment?” Ashworth writes.

Source: David Cameron ‘offered Oxfordshire council leader access to advisers’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Clueless Cameron has never considered the true impact of his cuts – until now

Stupid David Cameron pulls a stupid face. He's probably just realised how stupid his letter to Oxfordshire Council Council really was. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

Stupid David Cameron pulls a stupid face. He’s probably just realised how stupid his letter to Oxfordshire Council Council really was. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

David Cameron will go down in history as the British Prime Minister who was so out-of-touch with the impact of his own policies that the leader of his local council – who is a member of the same political party – had to spell it out to him “as if to a slow learner”.

Now, Cameron’s letter of protest to Oxfordshire County Council has prompted the Labour Party to accuse him of hypocrisy – supporting harsh cuts while pretending not to know their implication for the country.

In fact, it is more likely that he is just plain stupid – but neither explanation excuses him for what he has done.

Here’s Guardian columnist (and fellow Mid Wales resident) George Monbiot on the latest blunder of the Stupid Party:

In leaked correspondence with the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (which covers his own constituency), David Cameron expresses his horror at the cuts being made to local services. This is the point at which you realise that he has no conception of what he has done.

Cameron complains that he is “disappointed” by the council’s proposals “to make significant cuts to frontline services – from elderly day centres, to libraries, to museums. This is in addition to the unwelcome and counter-productive proposals to close children’s centres across the county.” Why, he asks, has Oxfordshire not focused instead on “making back-office savings”? Why hasn’t it sold off its surplus property? After all, there has been only “a slight fall in government grants in cash terms”. Couldn’t the county “generate savings in a more creative manner”?

Explaining the issue gently, as if to a slow learner, the council leader, Ian Hudspeth, points out that the council has already culled its back-office functions, slashing 40% of its most senior staff and 2,800 jobs in total, with the result that it now spends less on these roles than most other counties. He explains that he has already flogged all the property he can lay hands on, but would like to remind the prime minister that using the income from these sales to pay for the council’s running costs “is neither legal, nor sustainable in the long-term since they are one-off receipts”.

As for Cameron’s claim about government grants, Hudspeth comments: “I cannot accept your description of a drop in funding of £72m or 37% as a ‘slight fall’.”

Again and again, he exposes the figures the prime minister uses as wildly wrong. For example, Cameron claims that the cumulative cuts in the county since 2010 amount to £204m. But that is not the cumulative figure; it is the annual figure. Since 2010, the county has had to save £626m. It has done so while taking on new responsibilities, and while the population of elderly people and the numbers of children in the social care system have boomed. Now there is nothing left to cut except frontline services.

Have you ever wondered how the prime minister sleeps at night? How can he live with himself after imposing such gratuitous pain upon the people of this nation? Well now, it seems, you have your answer: he appears to be blissfully unaware of the impact of his own policies.

Source: David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

Amazingly, the stupidity does not even end there. In a related Guardian article, a stupid spokesman for stupid David Cameron said, stupidly: “There is still significant scope for sensible savings across local government to be made by back-office consolidation, disposing of surplus property and joining up our local public services; we will be discussing with Oxfordshire how this can be taken forward to help protect frontline services.”

What part of “the council has already culled its back-office functions” is in a foreign language to this stupid spokesman for the Stupid Party? What part of the information that the council “has already flogged all the property” available to it? What local public services does he envisage “joining up” – waste collection and adult social care, perhaps?

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