Fraser Nelson

Cameron’s real enemy will be the machine

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A sound objection to David Cameron’s welfare reform policy is raised today by Richard Littlejohn. Norman Fowler took him out to Washington and Baltimore in the 1980s when he was a Labour Correspondent to show him workfare, and pledged to introduce workfare to Britain. Nothing happened. “If Thatch couldn’t force it through, it’s not going to happen now,” he says today. It’s unclear just how hard Thatch tried – but it’s true that the Cameroon team may underestimate how hard it is to get the civil service to do anything. The drawback of a long period of Opposition is one forgets the frustrations of government – and you enter the delusion that you can go into a department, say “do X” and X happens. Now, take John Hutton - a forceful and sincere advocate of welfare reform. All he managed to do was pledge to get a million off (gross, not net) over ten years. Why so little? Because he was defeated by (as Littlejohn puts) "the Guardianistas who run the system ". The DWP wants to keep its empire. It commands some 5.2m subjects (or “clients” as they call them”) – more than the population of Norway, Ireland or Cyprus. Blair lost several battles against this mammoth government machine. Cameron had best be ready to win them.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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