Friday, November 19, 2010

Peer silenced for speaking his mind

David Cameron can be quite menacing. Asked about Lord Young's comments yesterday, in which the Tory peer said that the majority of people had "never had it so good" during the recession and that some people did not have a right to state support, Cameron snarled: "I think he will be doing a bit less speaking in future."

Given that Lord Young is only an unpaid adviser to the Government rather than under collective responsibility, I don't see how Cameron has a right to silence him.

I know that Young's comments will be embarrassing for the Government and the opposition and trade unions have been predictably hysterical in condemning him. It would have been better if Young could have expressed sympathy for those who have lost ther jobs and are finding the economic situation tight.

But his basic points were not inaccurate. They certainly were not "offensive" as a Downing Street lackey called them. With interest rates at 0.5%, those for whom a mortgage is their main expenditure have done OK. This recession has been less calamitous for more people than other recessions.

There is belt-tightening and uncertainty, but not soaring costs for the majority. Very few people have had their homes repossessed. Government spending is only being cut back to the level it was three years ago. Some people are suffering and that is tragic, but it is a great shame that Cameron could not simply have said: "Those are his views, he is entitled to express them. It is not the view of me or my Government."

The Daily Mash makes a fair point:
The Tory peer was later forced to apologise for his sadistic, upper-class rightness, adding: "I'm very old. Look at my bow tie. I'm not right in the head.

"I now realise that if your income stays much the same and your biggest monthly expense goes down quite a lot then you're worse off. You don't need a PhD in maths to work that one out.

"And I don't know what I was thinking when I said some people think they have a right to state support. I suppose I must have just thought it was okay because it's a view shared by more than half the Cabinet and the vast majority of the people in this country.

"I'm so old. Can I have a cup of tea now?"

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