Conservatives continue to hold their cards close to their chest

Image: altogetherfool via Flickr Creative Commons

Image: altogetherfool via Flickr Creative Commons

On Sunday George Osborne (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) appeared on the BBC’s Politics Show. His appearance reinforced a concern I have held for a long time about the Conservatives lack of commitment to policies. With speculation that a general election may be called as early as March, this stalling on crucial decisions becomes increasingly serious.

I am very much of the opinion the Tories are operating a policy of staying quiet. Currently they are ahead the polls, so rather than dedicate to specific polices and make promises, which have the potential to lose support as well as attract it; they are opting to sit on the fence.

In fairness to Osborne, he did make it very clear that he wanted to tackle the current budget crisis by cutting expenditure rather than increasing taxes. He has also indicated for some time that he believes more power should be given to the Bank of England in regulating banks. However, ‘expenditure’ is a very general area and he refuses to be specific on any individual departments.

One naturally wonders how extensive these ‘cuts’ are going to be. Are the conservatives planning to dramatically shrink the state? The consequences of such large-scale reduction could be massive. If the state funding into the economy was slashed too quickly, in a hurried manner, then it could send a fragile, recovering UK economy back into recession. Someone has to lose out as a result of scaling back. Who it will be and how many will it effect are questions loaded with trepidation.

A prevalent trend of David Cameron and his party is that they are always quick to criticise Gordon Brown and Labour, but offer very little of their own input. Sometimes I doubt whether the Conservatives themselves are sure of what exactly they want to achieve if voted into government . It is easy to judge Labour’s ideas and suggestions; offering pragmatic and varying policies is a whole lot harder. The Conservatives have not convinced me they can do the latter.

On the Politics Show, Osborne, in an attempt to avoid a concrete answer on policy, said that he didn’t want to commit to making promises until he was certain he could live up to them. There may be some truth and sense in this, but the Conservatives are leaving it extremely late. The prospect of a government with an uncertain agenda is a frightening one.


  1. Why don’t Nouse just stop trying to be the Guardian for once? The reason the Tories are reluctant to say too much is that every time they make a new policy announcement it gets stolen by Labour, who are totally banrupt of ideas.

    To argue that they have made no announcements as to where they would cut expenditure is just a complete inaccuracy. Osborne told his party conference in september that they would freeze pay on public sector workers and raise the pension age. This is much more than Brown or Darling have ever said.

    I accept that this is a comment piece so you can express an popinion, but just making up lies like this makes you seem like a Labour Party propaganda machine rather than an objective news outlet.

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  2. Goodricker, firstly, I am neither pro Labour nor pro Conservative.
    On your point that “they would freeze pay on public sector workers”, this does not conflict with what I said, I stated he “refuses to be specific on any individual departments.” the ‘public sector’ is a blanket term. I didn’t make anything up.
    Fact of the matter is, he refused to go into any kind of detail on the BBC and simply refuses to fully commit.
    I agree with your point that Labour may steal good policies, but you have to strike a balance between this and offering voters substance to base their decision on.

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  3. I would love it if the parties stole good policies from each other and put them into effect; the Conservatives have taken as much from Labour over the last 30 years as vice versa so I wouldn’t really say it’s a one-way situation…

    But in reality, the piece is true. The Lib Dems have been as vocal as they can about policies whilst the Conservatives have been as vague as possible. Labour have spent a reasonable amount of time painting the Conservatives as being the age-old evil of the country whilst the Conservatives have blamed Labour for many things that aren’t their fault. Politics is still a messy and disgraceful place in the UK; hopefully things will change though!

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  4. And there i was thinking this was in the politics section

    Comment maybe, but not excatly the kind of political information and journalism i’d hope from reading this section of Nouse. Note: ‘I thought’ and other such utterances make you sound arrogant.

    I’m a fresher and even we’re commenting on how the first issue of Nouse this term was of a much higher standard than since the editorial change over. Sort it out guys.

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  5. Great you feel that way about the paper!

    The Politics section has two sub-sections, Politics News and Student Perspective.

    It’s not clear now, but this article is in Student Perspective which is meant to have some personal opinion which you can then agree / disagree with.

    After the next Politics article comes in, this one will slide into the right hand column of the Politics page, but you’re right it would be nice to make the section more obvious for the latest story.

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  6. Emma,
    As Ali pointed out, I didn’t intend for this to be a ‘report’ or an ‘informative’ piece.
    Occasionally some opinion is better for sparking debate than solely reporting style journalism.

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  7. 15 Dec ’09 at 11:10 am

    Luke Sandford

    @Emma. I think you are missing out on the point of the section. There is nothing wrong with the idea of comment within a politics section – Sure, in a real paper the main politics is mainly analysis, but this is a fortnightly (or less) student paper! It’s not the primary source of political analysis for students. It’s a good opportunity for students to reflect on stories and trends in the political sphere. It works much better that way.
    Not everyone will agree, but that’s half the point. If you think the Tories have substance, then tell us what makes you think that.

    If the words, “I am very much of the opinion” don’t scream opinion piece I don’t know what does…

    This article is pretty bang on though. Some fairly specific policies, such as the inheritance tax cut, but otherwise very general ‘cuts’ and ‘honesty’ type assertions.

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