Given the choice between “national”, “health” and “service” the word that Burnham considers most key to the Labour approach is the former. Ignore “health”, never mind “service” – who needs a bandage when you can wrap yourself in a flag?
Poor old Andy Burnham. A few months ago I took him to task for aping the Tories and their proposed tax cuts for loveless marriages. Since then the boy has, improbably, gained a cabinet level post, but doesn’t appear to be doing any better.
His performance on the Today Programme (which doesn’t appear to be on listen again yet) this morning was probably the most lamentable I have ever heard from a cabinet minister. It was so clear he was not on top of his brief I almost felt sorry for him, were it not that it offended my sense of professionalism.
What is obvious is that these new proposals to force schools to provide pupils with five hours of “high culture” a week originated from his predecessor, not him. Purnell and Burnham could not be more different: the former – a bit of a dandy highwayman who was ushering in a new renaissance up until a couple of weeks ago – is Labour’s answer to Henry Conway. The latter more closely resembles Wayne Rooney.
Still, John Humphries doesn’t get away completely scot-free either. He was distinctly heard arguing that “creative reading” ought to be learned “by rote”. Uh?
UPDATE: The interview is now up. Listening again, it’s even worse than I remembered.
God, Labour really are in a full scale rout at the moment, aren’t they?
The tax system should reward married couples, a cabinet minister has said.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andy Burnham told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s not wrong that the tax system should recognise commitment and marriage.”
He did not advocate specific changes to the tax system, but said there was a “moral case” for using tax to promote the traditional family unit.
On the claim that there is a ‘moral case’ for using tax to promote marriage, he could not be more wrong. One of the least moral reasons going for getting married is acquiring tax advantages and if the system ends up penalising single parents, many of whom are not single through choice, then already unstable families will end up doing worse out of the system.
If there is a moral argument for marriage, money ought to be immaterial. You can’t tax and spend your way to righteousness.
Presumably we can depend on Harriet Harman, the only member of the Brown government to have a mandate from the party, to put the opposing view? After all, she’s been lambasting Cameron on this issue for months. But of course Harman’s first act as a government minister back in 1997 was to cut benefits for single mothers. I’m sure she’ll find a way to reconcile her own stated views with Andy Burnham’s. Her idea of radicalism in office is to call on Gordon Brown to do something that he committed himself to doing in a White Paper published three months ago, and which will not materially affect anything (if the Prime Minister has a majority in the Commons and demanded an election, do you seriously believe the party would turn him down?).
What amazes and appalls me the most though is how, in the space of a fortnight, Labour have seemingly done everything they can to transform Gideon Osborne’s reputation from whining top hatted toff who is totally out of his depth to a Svengali-figure who sets the entire political agenda of the UK. It’s utter madness. He came up with a few proposals that were economically irresponsible and fundamentally didn’t add up, and the entire Labour front bench falls down in a heap, struggling to emulate him in every way they can. Truly this is the single greatest mystery of modern politics.
Labour in freefall: huge Lib Dem opportunity. Time to step up a gear perhaps?