When Gordon Brown took his Cabinet away to Leeds for the day in 2009 the Tories were quick to pounce on his wasteful spending. Robert Goodwill, the then Shadow Minister for Leeds went on the attack:
“The cost of hosting them given the increased security is something that should be borne by Labour rather than by the taxpayer. I can understand them wanting to show their presence in Yorkshire for political reasons.”
And there was plenty of wider condemnation of the idea. The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s Mark Wallace, for it was he, said “These meetings are expensive and of dubious worth to areas that the Cabinet chooses to visit.” Yesterday David Cameron took his Cabinet away to Derby for the day.
Asking around, you can see why they look like a good idea. The Civil service like them because it gets those pesky ministers out out of the way so they can run the country for a couple of hours and the party machines love the fact they get some coverage and face-time in marginal seats, with all the transport and logistical costs paid for. The regional lobby even get spoonfed. As one former Labour SpAd put it to Guido:
“The whole comms side of government and regional offices get to rev their engines. Everyone wins except the taxpayer. I actually hoped the Tories would stop that bollocks, but no.”
Robert Goodwill MP is very quiet today.