An all-listening, non-arrogant Stoltenberg? / News / The Foreigner

An all-listening, non-arrogant Stoltenberg?. New Year’s speech touches central issues, and hints at major saving measures. Jens Stoltenberg’s New Year’s speech looked to both the past and the future, waxing biblically about the importance of investing for what lies ahead.Building the country Drawing upon the example of Joseph’s advice to the Egyptian pharaohs to save corn during seven good years because they will be followed by seven lean, the Prime Minister believed that hard work and education are the key to Norway’s prospects in the post oil era.

jensstoltenberg, labour, party, ap, prime, minister, norway, new, year, speech, biodiesel



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An all-listening, non-arrogant Stoltenberg?

Published on Sunday, 3rd January, 2010 at 21:01 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

New Year’s speech touches central issues, and hints at major saving measures.

Jens Stoltenberg, Huk
Jens Stoltenberg, Huk
Photo: Prime Minister's office


Jens Stoltenberg’s New Year’s speech looked to both the past and the future, waxing biblically about the importance of investing for what lies ahead.

Building the country

Drawing upon the example of Joseph’s advice to the Egyptian pharaohs to save corn during seven good years because they will be followed by seven lean, the Prime Minister believed that hard work and education are the key to Norway’s prospects in the post oil era.

“I’m often asked the question: “What shall we live on after the oil runs out?” The answer is that we shall live by each others’ work...The value of the Norwegian people’s labour and knowledge are many times greater than the value of oil wealth.”

Education

Stoltenberg went on to talk about the value of education and the problem of school dropouts; something which he called one of the government’s biggest challenges regarding Norway’s ability to create jobs for the future benefit of the country.

“Nature has given us a lot, but it is knowledge that has enabled us to be able to put it to use. It’s the small people who started school last autumn with high hopes...that will build and carry our country in the future to come.”

The sick pay scheme

And “jobs for all” has always been one of Labour’s central social-democratic policies since the Second World War. So has building a well-functioning welfare state that, amongst other things, supports the sick financially.

He connects this to one of his government’s forthcoming challenges this year: reducing the huge annual costs associated with sick pay.

“If the unthinkable should happen that all of us just sat down, stopped working, and lived purely off the pension fund, its entire assets would be gone in just over a year...Therefore, we must constantly ensure that as many people as possible are employed...We shall defend the sick pay scheme, but not the high absence due to illness.”

A climate for change

To help the government solve these issues Stoltenberg invited nationwide cooperation, stressing the importance of debate, and saying that his Cabinet will travel the length and breadth of the country listening to both businesses and people.

Touching briefly on what has been criticised as being a lily-livered climate agreement at the recent world summit in Copenhagen he reminded the nation of the challenges ahead regarding climate change, with his speech taking an almost visionary tone when talking of how little care we take of the planet.

“It’s been more than 40 years since man was able to first see the far side of the Moon with his own eyes. The Apollo 8 expedition...brought completely new pictures home, not just of the moon, but pictures of Earth, seen from the Moon...They gave us a completely new understanding of how unique our planet is, but also of how vulnerable it is.”

A flop?

“Stoltenberg has struggled slightly to find his form in his New Year speeches. He made a brave effort with a Kennedyesque moon landing – and belly landed due to the weight of expectations that his big words created,” writes Dagbladet’s political editor, Marie Simonsen, in her commentary last weekend.

Whilst in Saturday’s leader, the paper highlights the question of responsibility.

“Behind generous formulations lies a warning of future restrictions...This year’s speech by the Prime Minister was a solid review of the central challenges for both this year and the future. (But) it’s not the analysis that is weak. The weakness is that Jens Stoltenberg is passing the buck further on instead of delivering insight and solutions.”

Arrogance

Aftenposten, though quite supportive of Stoltenberg’s idea of a broad debate about how to solve the challenges he laid out in his speech, writes it is worried about stagnation.

“There is hardly anyone who disagrees with the Prime Minister that these areas represent future challenges that are important to deal with. There’s also broad agreement that it’s worth getting new suggestions as to how the problems can be solved... At the same time, such wide-ranging endeavours easily become ritualised and a matter of course.”

They also expressed their concerns about whether or not Labour’s reputation for arrogance – displayed during the recent biodiesel tax fracas – may push the national debate into the sidings.

“But this requires that the Prime Minister is really interested in listening to others than just his own. He must put aside what can be perceived as being an arrogance of power. In the meantime, a good conference requires real openness.”




Published on Sunday, 3rd January, 2010 at 21:01 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: jensstoltenberg, labour, party, ap, prime, minister, norway, new, year, speech, biodiesel.





  
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