Taylor to lead major government review

Prime Minister Gordon Brown – as part of his New Politics / Big Tent relaunch of Labour – has appointed Matthew Taylor, Lib Dem MP for Truro & St Austell, to lead a major independent review of planning and land-use policy in relation to rural and affordable housing.

Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has been quick to welcome the news:

“Matthew and I have agreed that he should take up this opportunity to review rural housing and business policies. As the MP for a rural constituency with the least affordable rural housing in the country, Matthew has direct experience of the impact that the rural housing crisis is having on local communities.

“I am delighted that Gordon Brown has once again recognised the knowledge and experience that Liberal Democrats have to offer in tackling major policy challenges that the Government has proved unable to solve.”

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  • This time Min clerly won’t even get the chance to backtrack, hes just playing right into Browns hands. At least some conservatives got taken in too, but working with the government without any real possiblity of implementing policy is going to do nothing but help Gord’s polling.

  • I welcome it. This is how politics should be done.

    Even if you would rather not get the offer, turning it down when you get it would be petty.

  • Tristan, does it matter whether Brown believes in consensus politics?

    He reaches out across the divide. You want to slap him away and then say he doesn’t believe in consensus politics! Any non-aligned 3rd party would laugh.

    Perhaps he is just appearing consensual for base cynical reasons – does that mean we should appear cynical?

    In any case it is over-egging to call this ‘consensual’. Taylor is not getting any power here – or there would be issues. He is merely being asked to elaborate and articulate some analysis and policy. This is something any politician should be willing to do at any time. Or do you think we should only tell Labour where they’re going wrong when they don’t ask us to?

  • mellow yellow 3rd Sep '07 - 3:51pm

    I agree Joe, it gives Matthew a chance to show what he can do, and if he does well he gives the Party a touch of credibility at the top level which is desperately lacking.

    We can’t just sit here throwing stones and afraid to put up, now he’s got the chance and if he does well it reflects on the party.

  • Yasmin Zalzala 3rd Sep '07 - 4:39pm

    And supposing they do not like what Mathew Taylor & co comes up with?

    Will that not be damaging for the Liberal Democrats?

  • What’s wrong with LibDems and Tories taking part in reviews of government policy? It’s an opportunity to influence. As LibDems surely we are meant to believe in this sort of thing?

    To reject it out of hand and argue that we should have nothing to do with the Labour Government is surely the kind of politics we often say we reject.

  • As some supporters of the acceptance have stated, Mathew will be able to do nothing more than make suggestions.
    The only benefit is that the party will marginally more coverage to advance views in a very narrow area- views which will promptly be either ignored, or will be ones on which there is cross-party concensus and thus will be unintresting.
    For this tiny gain, we give Brown a lot of positive publicity and open ourselves to constant implications of being in bed with labour. This is a critical error, and Ming’s endorsment leaves no room for movement.

  • Of course we should not shy away from positions of power due to fear of spin- just as we did not in Scotland and Wales previously, and as we do not in councils across the country.
    This doesn’t mean we should not consider the impact of spin in advancing our policy agenda. In taking advisory positions that offer no real influnce but damage the parties prospects, we harm the cause as a whole.

  • It is a little odd that Gordon has commissioned this enquiry so soon after receiving two reports from Kate Barker and one from John Hills on housing! Will Matthew be given a decent set of civil servants (I think Kate had 6, which was small by govt review standards)? Or a budget? These are the questions that will tell us if this is serious policymaking or not.

  • Yasmin Zalzala 3rd Sep '07 - 11:01pm

    Joe Otten

    This is hardly Part A v Party B.

    This is a joint committee (or so I understand) and they will work together to produce new ideas to solve the housing crisis.

    Supposing MTaylor puts in suggestions the others do not like or vica versa then the final report will carrying only their own views?

    This is a joint committee after all and they are political rivals

  • I am deeply saddened that another of our parliamentarians has taken the Brown shilling and horrified that Ming is praising it! Has he not seen our poll ratings recently?

    My motivation level has been sapped again.

  • Who is going to accuse us of getting into bed with Labour?

    The Conservatives?

    But, just a minute. Two Conservative MPs have taken up Brown’s offer, and with Cameron’s express permission (certainly with Michael Gove’s express permission, as revealed on tonight’s “Newsnight”).

    Whenever the next GE takes place, we can tell the people of Cornwall that we made an honest, genuine attempt to get them more affordable housing.

  • This won’t just play in Cornwall, but across the country.
    Just because conservatives have done it too, doesn’t mean they can’t put it in their own material- they don’t have to mention it. We are getting no influnce, and are allowing ourselves to be painted as in bed with labour. Equidistance may not be what we need, but appearing not to be independent will cause real problems.

  • While I don’t think it is a good idea to undermine our political independence by allowing coalition-talk to be insinuated, it would be far more damaging to go to the country with a track record of avoiding taking decisions which could make a positive difference.

    Mathew Taylor is in an ideal position to offer specialist knowledge on a specific problem – we should be trumpeting his contribution so we can claim the credit where it is successful and call foul-play when Labour cocks up any proposals by bundling them into a one-size-fits-all policy.

    The nature of political dialogue in this country is flawed but we don’t raise the level of confidence held in what we do have by stooping to the tactics of those we oppose.

    There is always a tightrope to be walked in these situations, which is why we must not make pre-emtive statements about any conditions for cooperation and examine our options on a case-by-case basis.

  • Yasmin Zalzala 5th Sep '07 - 12:39am

    I have learned that the group of mp’s includes the conservative who thought that racist banter is ok.

    What illustrious company the Lib Dems are joining!

  • Sarah Newton Tory PPC for Truro is non too pleased. It appears she had selected Affordable Housing as one of her benchmark campaigning topics and is spending a bit of time on the subject, most of it re-inventing the Wheel. Anyway it is tough at the top, but even tougher when PM Gordie has interfered- he is determined that the Tories do not win any seats in Cornwall. Gordie feels that Cornwall is a no hope for Labour now that Julia has tied up the only Labour hope -Camborne, and is going out of his way to ensure a tory majority doesnt get a foot hold in there. The problem is that the Cornish Tories picked the wrong Candidate, in Newton, and Truro local Tories know it, and are quite vocal about the cock up.They know that they have blown themselves out of being a serious and effective force and have all but given up. It does’nt help when former tories are actively supporting us.

  • We should not think this decision of Ming/Matthew’s is ‘ok’ just because two Tories have done the same thing.

    What happened to us being different, unique and radical?

    If we look the same as the Tories, then people will vote for the Tories and not us…it’s as simple as that.

  • “What happened to us being different, unique and radical?” – let’s see what Matthew comes up with! But I doubt he will ever look the same as the Tories.

  • John Buckfield 7th Dec '08 - 5:38pm

    Dear Mr Taylor
    I am a mature student at the start of my Foundation Science degree course in Public Health. As part of my directed study, I am required to assess in which way the EU has changed the way in which the UK addresses the issue of Health & Safety. Whereas, I have been able, to date, to establish the current position with regard to Health and Safety and the EU, I cannot identify the change point and it’s impact on the UK. I would be most pleased to receive your comments.
    John Buckfield

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