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Nick De Bois: Government U-Turns Are Risking Our Credibility

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Senior Tory MP Nick de Bois has warned that the continuing U-turns by the government are "frustrating" and "irritating" to Tory Backbenchers, suggesting that any more policy reversals could start to seriously damage the coalition's credibility.

The newly-elected co-secretary of the backbench Tory 1922 committee was talking to The Huffington Post UK as the government made its fourth U-turn this week over a study into the humane killing of buzzards.

"Eventually there will come a point when competency can become an issue," he told The Huffington Post UK on Wednesday morning. "When it goes from a question of being a listening and responding government, it is quite possible that it becomes a government which has its competency challenged."

de bois cameron

Nick de Bois With David Cameron Last Year. The Tory Backbencher Was Elected To The 1922 Executive Last Week

The government has also staged three other U-turns so far this week, over VAT on Cornish pasties, a partial U-turn on VAT for static caravans, and a subsantial watering down of plans to allow secret trials to take place where security matters are being discussed.

Opinions vary as to exactly how many U-turns overall there've been since the last election - but it's widely agreed to be at least 26 and possibly as high as 35. Even the lower end of that scale suggests the coalition has been one of the most incoherent governments in British history.

"I think we're still at the stage that when there is a change of policy that the government can still credibly say, 'We are listening'. I think we're at that point where you can still do that," says de Bois.

"I think for backbenchers there's no question that if you are out there, defending a government policy, only to have it ripped away from you and changed, it does leave you somewhat frustrated and I wouldn't be surprised if some people were irritated."

Suggesting that some coalition policies hadn't been worked out properly before being launched, he told us: "We now need to make sure that we're giving as much time to thinking through the implications and analysis of policy.

"As it goes further down the line, as you would in a business. You would look at the potential unintended consequences, you would look at actually whether it achieves your main goals, what risks there are, and then you make a judgement.

"It has been immensely irritating to have been distracted by cornish pasties, and even caravan tax, which of course are important to the people they concern, I get that. But it's taken the eye off what the Budget has done. Everything we do should be focused on generating fiscal discipline and creating a climate for growth."

"If you look at this Budget there were some pretty impressive measures there. But what are we talking about? Cornish pasties. We need to avoid falling in those traps."

De Bois was considered a middle-of-the road candidate at the 1922 elections, and despite attempts by the 2010 intake of Tory MPs to takeover both co-secretaries of the committee, they only managed to achieve one gain in the form of Karen Bradley, who spoke to The Huffington Post earlier this week.

Many backbench Tories believe the government's next U-Turn will be on the Charity Tax, a cap on tax-avoiding donations to good causes by wealthy philanthropists. The government has set a tax-free cap of £50,000, a move which charities and philanthropists have warned will reduce the amount being donated overall.

Tory MP David Ruffley suggested the Budget measure would be the next U-turn casualty on Tuesday - something many Tories behind the scenes would clearly like to see.

The Charity Tax is considered an incoherent policy, both at odds with the spirit of the Big Society and making little economic sense because there are plenty of other tax-avoidance avenues for the super-rich.

See Also: Predict the next government U-Turn!

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