James Forsyth James Forsyth

When u-turns matter

When I asked one Tory how things were going the other day, he replied “we’re living by that Silicon Valley phrase: ‘fail fast and fail often’.” His argument was that for all that we in the press work ourselves into a frenzy over u-turns, the public don’t much care about them and it is much better to get these things out of the way quickly.
 
When I challenged him that all these shifts made Cameron look weak, his rejoinder was that as long as the coalition stuck to its deficit reduction programme voters would know that it could hang tough when it needed to.
 
I suspect that this argument is half-right. But so far all the u-turns have been about policies initiated when Downing Street was in its hands-off phase, letting departments do what they want. It’ll be far more difficult — and damaging — to u-turn on policies that Cameron has been intimately involved in the creation of.

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