Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
15 February 2010

Co-ops, pregnancies, policies and a bad week for the Tories

In fact, David Cameron's "project" has been under threat for years.

By James Macintyre

Interesting to see the Conservatives attempt to “launch” an initiative this morning on mutuals and co-operatives, about which I wrote last week. It would be unfair to say that not a dog has barked, but it hasn’t exactly taken off. Let’s hope this initiative fares better than the “Conservative Co-operative Movement”, launched with fanfare two years ago.

Interviewed about the plan on Sky News this morning, the Tories’ shadow chancellor, George Osborne, claimed that they were now speaking the language of ordinary voters. But he was soon asked about the latest Tory attack document — Labour’s Two Nations, prominently advertised on the Conservative website — which states that women under the age of 18 are “three times more likely to fall pregnant in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas”. And that: “In the most deprived areas 54 per cent are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18, compared to just 19 per cent in the least deprived areas.”

As Will Straw has pointed out, “The figure was out by a factor of ten and is coming down.” Our own George Eaton makes a similar point.

When asked about this, Osborne actually sniggered. At that point, he didn’t seem to be very much in tune with the electorate at all.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. Sign up directly at The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Sign up directly at Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

More broadly, it is also interesting to note that — finally — the wheels are beginning to loosen on the great Tory bandwagon, even in the pro-Cameron media. I first wrote that the Cameron façade was beginning to crack in October 2008, and my colleague Mehdi Hasan and I returned to the subject — and predicted a hung parliament — in June last year.

I suspect that as the election draws nearer, and the Tories are finally forced to face some real policy scrutiny, David Cameron will start to get a little hot under the collar. We shall see.

Content from our partners
Planetary perspectives: how data can transform disaster response and preparation
How measurement can help turn businesses’ sustainability goals into action
How UK ports are unlocking green growth


Here is Michael Stephenson, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, on the Tory co-op plan:

George Osborne’s comments show the Tories are completely clueless on co-operatives. Mutuality is about giving communities a say in how services are run. That is about more than involving workers, it is about people running services as a community asset.

The Tories don’t have co-operative values. Just as Cameron’s Conservative Co-operative movement turned out to be neither a co-operative, nor a movement, George Osborne’s plan for employee-run public services fails to balance the needs of consumers, the public, with the interests of the public-sector workers themselves.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.