In Laws we must Truss? The charm offensive ends as Loughton is axed?

Charming Tim, now axed, on the right

The CYPN reports that  Tim Loughton, the Children’s Minister has been asked to step down. Interestingly the piece features lamentations from leading lights across the youth sector about his demise. In the same vein Ravi Chandiramani bemoans his departure, going so far as to claim that “his axing is a big loss to the sector and crucially, to the children and families of this land.” Given the Coalition’s assault on the poorest in our land the latter is stretching the eulogy a mite too far. Ravi ends his piece with a nice ironic touch. Referring to Loughton’s successors he conjectures, “In Laws we must Truss.”

If you read the CYPN political obituaries it is clear that Tim Loughton was personable. Indeed his charm was such that no reference is made to the decimation of local authority youth services under his watch or his wholesale rejection of the Youth Services Select Committee’s proposals.  His magnetism was so beguiling that he seduced the voluntary sector into the embrace of the market and persuaded young people that his government was serious about democracy. From the point of view of his masters the lad was doing alright. His axing says something about Cameron’s opportunist and bullish incompetence. From afar I suspect Loughton’s appeal will be missed. As for those replacing him, the David Laws and Liz Truss of Ravi’s couplet, the first at best is a formidable hypocrite, the second is described as the Iron Lady Mark Two. If they prove less astute than Loughton in handling relations with the field, it might well be a welcome wake-up call for those still sleep-walking under the spell of TINA.  Certainly, for better or worse, a long period of continuity under Loughton is broken.



  1. This is a fair critique of Loughton’s role and contribution and rightly points out that he was a member of a damaging regime . But note a few other features. First, he was a very junior minister (third in the departmental hierarchy ) so his personal room for manoeuvre was limited even if he had showed any sign of disagreeing with the government’s overall line on spending or on setting national standards for youth services (which he didn’t).Instead he concentrated on a few areas within his responsibility,including children in care, where he could blame others (ideally local authorities ) for failures in service;his bluster on such matters won over those in the voluntary sector. Second, and to his credit, he generally eschewed the shooting-from-the-hip negative comments on young people which had been a feature of various authoritarian Labour ministers;hence his attraction to BYC . Third, too much attention is paid to the role of individual ministers and not enough to the continuity of policy secured by anonymous civil servants:much damage was done to youth work (and careers work) by those responsible for designing,implementing and managing the unlamented Connexions service. Finally , we don’t know yet if he has been replaced by Truss in respect of his ‘youth’responsibilities. She is really a specialist in the economics of childcare and another junior minister has also been named:Timpson ,the wealthy scion of the shoe repair company.Let’s see;but focus on the policy not just the personalities .

    • Thanks for the further background, Tom and the shot across the bows. By and large though I think we do focus on a critique of policy rather than personality. However there is an important caveat. Policies are implemented by individuals and groups and not by structures. In this sense the psychological dimension remains very significant. Of course politics is often reduced to clashes of personalities, to the machinations of the contemporary court and emptied of its wider and deeper meaning. Thus, accepting your stricture, we will endeavour to analyse both the subjective and the objective at each and every turn. Although, be honest, it is cathartic now and again to vent one’s spleen!!

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