Harry Truman, when he was in the White House, had a sign on his desk. Not one of the ‘funny’ ones my boss has. You know the type.
When you work here, you can name your own salary. I named mine Fred.
That sort of thing. Well, Harry didn’t go for that. He had a simple wooden one. Nothing too fancy at all. You can see it here on the left. All it says is
The buck stops here
And it did. Truman managed to make the toughest of all decisions. He ended the second world war by dropping the A-bombs on Japan. A decision he must have deliberated and debated over for a long time. And then, I imagine, spent the next 27 years thinking about.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg however, are world champion passers of the buck. I strongly suspect that on Cameron’s desk there’s a plastic sign, probably neon yellow, saying something like
The buck doesn’t even pause here. There’s no point looking at me
My mum, who works for our local authority, got a letter with her pay slip this week. Dave and Nick had signed it and basically asked my mother for her ideas on where cuts were best made. She’s suggesting the office of deputy prime minister, cynic that she is.
As well as creating mass nimbyism sending this letter to all public sector employees, they also launched the ‘Your Freedom’ scheme. This is basically asking the public which laws, if any, the government should repeal. So far, I’ve seen someone who thinks they should repeal the law banning a man from marrying a horse, this work of genius suggesting the repeal of the second law of thermodynamics.
So Dave and Nick want us to choose where the government make cuts and what laws are repealed. They’ll spin that as a nice public consultation exercise. In fact, it’s a way of passing the blame sharing responsibility with the voters. They’ll make the cuts and repeal the laws they always wanted to. At least the last government made the tough decisions and stood by them, whether you agreed with them or not.