A relatively quiet week for the government, in the context of the past couple of months: only threatened police strikes, a contentious EU treaty and a tricky international climate change deal to negotiate.
Jacqui Smith’s decision not to backdate a 2.5% pay rise for police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, prompted Lenin’s Tomb to write: “While public sector workers are ‘valued’ in a sentimental fashion, the general implication is that union leaders should shut their mouths and accept a period of belt-tightening in order to keep Brown’s ‘Miracle Gro’ economy afloat.”
Less sympathy can be found at A Tangle Web: “I say the police should damn the law and strike. It’s not as if we’ll miss them if they withold their labour. We learn today that they are on the beat for one hour in seven – as much as that, eh? Ministers often make the claim that there are more police officers than ever before and they speak the truth. There are more officers than at any other time, yet the police has never been less visible to Britons.”
This hyperbole is perhaps explained when the post later reveals: “Yesterday a turd in a police uniform stepped from behind a bush and recorded me driving at 38mph whilst leaving a 30mph zone on my way out of a small rural town.”
Daniel Finkelstein queries Brown’s defence that the decision was made to keep inflation low: “The deal isn’t big enough to cause inflation by forcing the government to borrow. So he can only mean that a large amount being paid to police would encourage other large pay increases. Fair enough. Except that the headline amount, the permanent part of the increase, is the one that will drive other wage claims and any increases based on comparability. If inflation was the issue it would have been better, surely, to have offered a smaller headline figure and then backdated it. So it seems more likely that public.”
With Eurosceptics among the most conspicuous in the blogosphere, the signing of the Lisbon Treaty did not go unnoticed. For The Huntsman, it was “surely one of the most dishonourable and dishonest acts by a British Prime Minister since the early hours of 30th September 1938 when Chamberlain effectively signed away Czechoslovak independence to Germany”.
While, Cranmer writes: “Nations tend to get the leaders of which they are worthy, and there is little doubt that the people of the United Kingdom deserve this – for their apathy, ignorance, and indifference. The reality is that so few care because so few understand, and so few understand because they are more absorbed by Big Brother, X Factor, Come Dancing and the National Lottery, than they are by matters spiritual and political.”
As environmental concerns took centre stage in Bali, despite the US and Canada holding out on agreeing to emission cuts, John Redwood manages to lay the blame at the EU’s feet: “The EU should grow up, and learn that if the world is to reduce its carbon output it requires goodwill and understanding on all sides, not a combination of bullying and vain posturing. We will not cure the world’s CO2 problem unless India and China, Japan and Russia are involved as well as the USA.”