Who is more guilty: Michael Howard or Howard Flight?
The linked article also has .wav files of the talk Howard Flight gave on 23rd March 2005. It was the original "timesonline" quote.
I have arranged for the .wav files to be transcribed and the transcription follows.
The big question for the Tories is whether it appears on reading the full text that Howard Flight is actually implying the Conservatives will cut more spending than the £35 Billion in the James Report. (Which includes Labour's £21bn cuts (Gershon savings) in any event.)
At the end he says: "I've probably banged on too long."
I would agree with that particular line. The real issue, however, is should Michael Howard have sacked him for what he said? I am not convinced that that is the case.
To me this shows how Michael Howard should not be trusted with any power.
What you can conclude from Howard Flight's talk is that
a) The tories have policies that are designed to attract support.
b) The tories have dumped suggestions that people would oppose.
c) Howard Flight is (was) a "dry"
On the key question as to whether he is suggesting that the tories would do something different to that in their manifesto I would say that the jury is out.
Personally it looks that Michael Howard is far more guilty than Howard Flight and that it is Michael Howard that should resign for abuse of power. Howard Flight clearly makes the distinction between his views and those of the party although he could have been clearer on the substantive issue.
The debate is quite a flawed debate as the Labour Party are proposing £21 billion pounds of cuts by the year 2007-8. These figures are included in the Conservative Proposals. We estimate that about £8,000,000,000 of the Conservative proposals are bogus anyway.Transcription of Howard Flight's Talk to Conservative Way Forward"But the the no the areas of actual tax reductions of only one have already been announced, which is nakedly political, which is the council tax deal. I think it is politically, sensible, simple and understandable and not respect with the protesting nonsenses and it just happens the two other areas in which er I have yet to be announced, but I anticipate are likely to be the two areas will be raising thresholds a bit and hopefully raising the IHT floor level a bit so that as it were Middle England comes out of the equation for the time being.
"And indeed the I mean I think the potential for getting better taxpayer value is a good a bit greater than the James findings and the James findings I think quite unashamedly have been if you like seived for what is is politically accept politically acceptable and what is not going to lose the argument by the main argument by a sort of welter of specific moanings and complaints.
"Now you all we all broadly want the sort of things that are being talked about quite when and how precisely (unaudible) I mean I know we are right therefore all you have to do is to say it and everyone will agree with it and then you will win an election life is just not like that (laughter) you have just got to be practical Birmarck's famous phrase "politics is the art of the possible."
"The real issue is having won power do you then go to it and then of course we are back to you know wets and dries and all that happened in the 80s and be sure where I stand once we gain power in terms of putting my maximum weight in the direction we go in.
"But I think where we are posited is absolutely correct in terms of the cycle where public opinion is where it is going perceptions where it can be misrepresented a whole lot of things and I go further I was disappointed that Andrew although I partly agree didn't like it I mean in many things and these aren't economic Michael said the unthinkable all those politically correct things you couldn't say if you said a word about immigration you were being racist If you said a word about travellers you were just being wicked. I mean all the things that common sense Middle England knows are a load of crap and noone dares to speak up. He has spoken up. What more do you want? People understand that."
Questioner: "Howard I did recognise that in my question."
"Thats how you win elections and instead of about what you do economically what you when you've got there
"But there is not yet a huge appetite and movement for saying come on lets get taxes down substantially. I think that will come as the curve continues because it is in part about levels of disposable income and in part about levels of interest rates and I think, whatever the fine principles, you have to win an election first before you can actually get on with what needs to be done. So I mean, that is a a brief summary of where we are what we are committed to the latter two not yet announced. I think everyone on our side of the fence believes passionately that it will be a continuing agenda and for it to be a continuing agenda there obviously has to be a continuing agenda of reforming public services of changing how a lot is delivered and apart from what I would call some more radical thinking some of which I think is very good I have been inspired by Lesley Chapman who Patrick may remember who was a Public Works Loan Board civil servant in the 70s and he sort of said I have had enough of this went round looking at overmanning and looking at use of property.
He set a 15% target achieved 35% and wrote a splendid book called your disobedient servant which alienated him from much of the rest of the civil service he writes to me (inaudible) he hasn't for 6 months. He has been writing to me previously about every quarter and really making the fundamental point that this is an ongoing exercise like any sensible business. How you run the public sector, whatever the politics, unless there is the machinery to go on all the time looking at it being run efficiency it will quickly go the other direction all the more because it is a monopoly.
"So there will be some announcements coming about implementation and they will include release of ideas about cutting waste.
"I've probably banged on too long.
"Thank you very much."