James Forsyth

Osborne and Pickles defiant on planning reform

Osborne and Pickles defiant on planning reform
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George Osborne and Eric Pickles’ joint op-ed in the Financial Times on planning reform is meant to send the message that the coalition won’t back down on the issue. They warn that "No one should underestimate our determination to win this battle". Allies of Pickles are pointing out that these planning proposals are different from the NHS reforms or forestry, both issues on which the government did u-turn, because they are crucial to the coalition’s growth strategy and fully supported by Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street.

One other thing that separates planning from the issues on which the government has u-turned is the confidence Numbers 10 and 11 have in the ministers charged with selling the plans. Pickles is regarded by Downing Street as one of the most effective operators in the Cabinet. Tellingly, Number 10 wanted him out doing media during the worst of the riots. And Greg Clark, the junior minister responsible for pushing these plans through, has been earmarked for promotion to the Cabinet in the near future.

The Conservatives are, at the moment, relatively relaxed about the level of opposition to their planning reforms. They intend to use the argument that’s coming over this to show that they are putting growth first.