Some people are rejoicing and pointing out that this shows the government is ready to listen to the people. Who those people are is hard to tell as they tend to be either those who are somehow going to lose their livelihood if the Forestry Commission goes or those who have not bothered to read the proposals but acquired their information from the BBC. I had an argument on the subject with someone who seemed to think that land owned by a quango is the same as common land.
What it actually shows is that the government has no particular principles and has not the first idea how they would like to see this country run; therefore, at the slightest sign of opposition they turn tail. After all, as Dr Butler says, it was obvious that old cliches would appear:
It's not too difficult to predict that the 'selling the family silver' charge is going to be hurled against any privatization (or in this case, merely leasing-out) plan. That's the statists' nuclear weapon. Most people don't realise that the family silver is already bashed and tarnished – that part of it that hasn't been stolen in a smash and grab raid by the trade unions and the officials in Whitehall who actually run things.Nor is it particularly difficult that local authorities faced with budget cuts would take the knife to front-line services or anything that might excite opposition, like the closure of underused and understocked libraries. They are not likely to get rid of highly paid bureaucrats in the back offices, are they now? Why, precisely, did the Cleggeron Coalition or the Conservative leadership not realize this and prepare for this?
Dr Butler finishes on a surprisingly optimistic note:
I do hope this government is not going to be like Blair's, tossed on the sea of public opinion as it ditches good policies that don't go down well. My guess is that it will not, and that it has a better sense of direction as to what it wants to achieve and the difficult measures it needs to take to achieve them. But when you know you will face difficulties, you need to prepare well to get through them.So far we have seen little evidence of that sense of direction. I am a little more pessimistic than the great Eamonn Butler.