Change is in the air in the US and the UK – the lessons of Iowa

In 2005 I voted for change when I voted for David Cameron. I voted for him to change the Conservative party, and to go on to change the way political parties are run and organised, as a platform for going on to change our country for the better.

I wanted him to move away from the big money highly spun model of politics that defined the Blair era. I was delighted when he came out for a ?50,000 cap on individual donations to parties, championed more local, family and individual decision making, and stood against more centralisation of decisions in the EU, Whitehall and quangoland.

In Iowa the victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee were also victories for change. They were a small voice grabbing the medias attention for a few days, saying that many US people too are fed up with big money centrally driven politics. At least in the snows of Iowa the big money battalions of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney were brushed aside.

It may be that on either or both the Democrat and republican sides big money machine politics makes a comeback in subsequent contests. It could be that Barack Obama continues to do well, but finds the pressures of machine politics start to overtake him. In the meantime even those of us who disagree with some of his policy proposals should study his inspiring words about the how to undertake politics, how to change politics for the better, how to engage people again in democracy by overcoming their cynicism about the process.

In his victory address Mr Obama said:

??You said the time had come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voice that they dont own the government, we do; and we are here to take it back??

??The time has come for a President who will be honest about the choices and challenges we face; who will listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree; who wont just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know????

These paragraphs are a fine text. People are sick of tired of parties that raise large sums of money, spend it on researching what the average view is, and then on saying that is the view of the party. Labour has tried this for more than fifteen years, and proved conclusively that it does not produce good or competent government.

People are fed up with being lied to. In the UK we have a cheaper version of the US big money politics, but we have a worse version of the dislocation between central government and people, because we have two central governments, one UK based and one European. All too often this dual monarchy spawns too much regulation, too much intrusion and too much cost. All too often the UK government pretends to want something which it has to do under EU law and is then forced to display inflexibility and deafness in the face of public disagreement.

All sensible politicians in Britain will study Mr Obamas success in Iowa, and take to heart his fine words about the need for political parties and leaders to listen and reconnect with voters, free from the costly intermediation of big money lobbying.

PS: I see some are out to misrepresent this statement- I am not a Democrat party supporter, I do not support all Obama’s policies and I am not proposing that people should vote Obama. That is a matter for Americans, not for me. Any sensible Republican or Conservative needs to understand the reasons for Obama’s popualrity, and will discover that one of his main messages about how we need to change the way the big parties undertake their politics is relevant to us.


  1. rightsideforum
    January 5, 2008

    It was hardly that great of change other than for the fact he is a black man.

    Ultimately he will lose to Hillary and we will have a nother Clinton and perhaps in Huckabee another southern Christian conservative.

    Obama is hardly one to rail against big spending parties, he has raised HUGE ammount through tens of thousands of donors.

    He's spent millions.

    Ultimately Iowa should be an embarassment for our American friends – a few hundred thousand people can completely change the course of the country in just a couple of hours.

    Yes, Mr Obama does spend a lot raised from individual donations. He is, nonetheless, right in saying that people have become disenchanted with politics on the old model, and he did draw many new people into politics in Iowa.

  2. Bazman
    January 5, 2008

    This spoof is a bit close to the bone for some. Conservative and Labour. This is what everyone has really had enough of.

    Funny though!

  3. mikestallard
    January 5, 2008

    Did you know that, politically, you are now famous?
    In Tamsin Lightwater, (Spectator), your books are mentioned as "intellectual".
    I am not at all sure that this is nice.
    What do you think?
    As to the feeling that politics no longer belong to local people, but to a huge machine based "out there" – alleluia! Our local conservative club is a billiards hall and bar. "We don't talk politics here."
    I didn't think people could see that from London.

  4. Richard
    January 5, 2008

    You seem to dismiss Romney as somebody who spends to much money without really examining his policies. He believes in making all of the Bush tax-cuts permanent, lowering corporation tax, and tax-free savings and capital gains for those earning under $200,000 per annum. He also believes in the right to life, strong families and greater freedom to express religious beliefs. He aims to significantly diminish the role and power of the Federal government. These are policies which I would, and I think most conservatives would agree with. He may be spending the big money, but he is also making sense on the big social and economic questions.

    Reply: No, I do not mean to dismiss Romney. I was explaining why Mr Obama caught the mood, but pointed out that I do not agree with all his policies and he may have his head turned by big money politics later. I did not comment on Mr Romney's views, just on the fact that he did not get the support he needs.

  5. Bazman
    January 6, 2008

    Idiom Quote: Someone once said: "Religions a joke"

  6. Cliff
    January 6, 2008


    Great video!!
    Many a true word spoken in jest, me thinks.

  7. UK Daily Pundit
    January 6, 2008

    Early contender for quote of the year:

    John Redwood – "I am not a Democrat"

    Reply: note context!

  8. Cricketer
    January 6, 2008

    'Time for change. Listen to the people… yah… da… yah… da… yah…'

    The clapped-out, clueless and idealogically vacuous politician's refrain. The fact that Obama said it in an interesting way is nothing to get excited about.

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