The backlash over the child benefits announcement has the Conservatives wobbling all over the place and sidetracking their conference. Cameron was sent out to defend but he unwisely added some dissipation of saying other reforms would help those affected. The single/dual income issue makes it a sticky wicket especially on the issue of fairness but anything further muddies the water. This has been followed up with a leak to the BBC that the marriage allowance measures will be introduced in 2015.
Presentationally this is a mess. This now means the government position can be boiled down to we'll take something off you in 2013 and give it back to you in 2015 by a different route. It seems to be another example of how the core problems with strategic communication that dogged their election camapign have continued in government. To wobble so quickly over measures that are 3 years away also does not smack of firm government.
Jens Henriksson's essay on the Swedish cuts programme stresses:
"Never say that it won't hurt. Never say that it is peanuts...This will help ordinary people to plan ahead and to limit shocks."
Wobbling on cuts comes close to an implicit breach of that. He also highlights the pointlessness of dissipating measures. They introduced a small tax cut. The result was:
"...when the government came out with a bonus, they just became puzzled."