"this lady is not for turning." was one of the defining phrases of the rule of maggie thatcher.
it implied strength and certainty. it implied she (and the government) knew best: no matter what.
the idea that a politician or a government might change their mind or position has become a sign of weakness. it lays them open to being a 'flip-flopper' or has them accused of performing u-turns.
i have never seen the point of using it as an accusation, especially from opposition parliamentarians - after all the point of the opposition isn't just to warm the seats in the houses of commons but to try to persuade the government of the day that they are wrong and that their plan is flawed. if they succeed then the government doesn't carry out bad legislation and the opposition gets to claim that they would be better being the government.
instead of championing how they presented the alternative case we just get them shouting 'u-turn! u-turn!'
with all that said i can't help but put point to michael gove as becoming the king of flip-flopping u-turning. first it was the mess of buildings schools for the future programme - where by the end of it no one was quite sure how well mr. gove understood his portfolio.
just recently it was the cutting of school sport partnership - which saw mr. gove being accused of being the kid who was always picked last in team sports. in the end the position changed from getting rid of them all to most of them getting a temporary reprieve until after the london olympics. such a principled move.
given that mr. gove is a brainiac you could almost understand his attack on schools sports, his attack on the booktrust, a charity that provides free books to children, seems a bit odd. (oh hold on what am i thinking some of those kids will be working class kids - don't want them getting ideas above themselves. is what i might be thinking if i were a cynical bunny, but as you know i am not.) the booktrust were told that their £13 million government funding was going to go in april 2011 (this in a week when we were told that the government was giving £40 million to the united nations for their disaster fund - one of those annoying charity begins at home type debates; as well as being a time when we will hear about bonuses in the financial sector that will make the £13 million look like pocket change).
never fear though after a barrage of outrage the government is for turning on this issue and is now saying that funding will continue.
ed miliband described it as a fiasco and that was no clarity at all to the situation.
perhaps 'no clarity' could be michael gove's nickname?
perhaps mr. gove should take a word that was used as an attack on gordon brown and just dither a bit before he announces a new policy in order to see if it is going to work properly.
perhaps we now see why the tories don't like the idea of a central government: they are pretty shit at running it.