Thursday, 28 October 2010

Coulson diversions unravelling

Three weeks ago I blogged about how the timing, execution and end result of the announcement of cuts to child benefits suggested that it was more about press cover than deficit reduction. (The announcement was rushed out, a surprise to senior ministers and the media alike, on the day that Channel 4 showed the Dispatches programme which exposed the complicity of Andy Coulson in widespread phone hacking.) The idea of avoiding the "cost" of means testing by excluding people on the basis of total household income simply didn't stand up to proper scrutiny, and the fact that joint incomes of £80k plus didn't exclude CB while an individual income of £45k did was categorically unreasonable.

More evidence emerged today to back up the suggestion that this was policy on the hoof. According to the WSJ, the Treasury is in disarray over a policy they are calling "unenforceable" for a whole range of reasons well laid out in the linked article.

The bottom line is that it undoubtedly will be more expensive to implement this "is there a higher-rate taxpayer in the household" approach than it would have been to create the means-testing which George Osborne claimed would be too expensive itself to give any overall benefit. And that means that the policy cannot have been checked by civil servants, in the Treasury or in HMRC, before being rushed out as a surprise announcement the day that Dispatches aired.

It was Coulson cover. The cover is blown.


  1. So the big question is - Should the left support Agent Coulson in his incompetence (well he wasn't to know was he - shades of NOTW days) or should they demand his removal which would obviously be better for the country?
    And then again if he goes who is going to help George in his relentless drive against all those tax avoiders all in it together for the Big(Toff)Society?

  2. Interesting point, Anonymous, but I don't think he's being incompetent, I think he's being a devious bastard and a representative of Murdoch at the heart of government.

  3. "I think he's being a devious bastard and a representative of Murdoch at the heart of government."

    Ah yes I tend to agree with that but would you want a replacement who could be a more competent, less recognisable as a Murdoch placeman, but still devious bastard etc etc?

    There seems to be a bit of disarray within the Coalition at the moment, with plenty of targets to have a go at, even though it is theoretically still in it's honeymoon period with the electorate.

    Coulson going could be a morale booster in the short term but a long drawn out drip drip effect may be more beneficial long term strategy. And there is allegedly more to come on the Coulson Saga. The more balls there are in the air the greater the time needed to keep them all going and increases the chances of them all crashing to the ground.