McCain reaches out

The contrast of McCain and Palin worked well for the Republicans. The Obama camp is driven back onto attacks and disparaging comments whilst McCain tells the world he wants to work with Democrats for the change America needs and Washington will have to accept.

I heard McCain speak at the Conservative Conference when he joined us there. His speech made me appreciate how good David Cameron is as a public speaker! Last night he performed so much more effectively. His quiet lack of oratory was persuasive, followed by a crescendo in his credo which stirred the audience to enthusiaism.

The problem with all moderrn politics is Who will deliver? So much money is raised and spent on judging and polling the public mood, that you would expect both sides to know what the public wants. Of course electors want change, because the economies of the world are weakening and people are getting hurt. Of course many electors want politicans who will stand up to big government, and tame it to work for us. Of course sensible people are against war, and want the West to win more friends to its causes without having to exchange bullets. Mc Cain captured all that, thanks to the great words he and Palin delivered. They can afford the best in speech writers – as can Obama. The issue for both camps is can they deliver the policies that will make them come true?

Obama’s early brilliant rhetoric of change is looking stale, as the reality of more spending, more laws and bigger government emerges from beneath the noble aspiraiton to improve the lot of the people. Palin’s language that she will help tame the Washington bureaucracy looks fresher, because she has just arrived on the scene. McCain promised last night to unleash Palin on Washington. He promised smaller government and lower taxes. Can they deliver?

The race is still close. Both sides show what you can achieve in politics if you research the mood well and use words well. People can become interested and enthused. Whoever wins then has a far more difficult task. How can they make modern bureaucracy bend to their will, to get more out of it for less cost? If the winner cannot do that, the public will feel let down all over again. Can either side make a difference to the Credit Crunch and the economic troubles? Neither has so far come up with a plan which makes any sense. At least McCain’s wish to curb spending and the public deficit would help.

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10 Comments

  1. Obnoxio The Clown
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    John, isn't it wonderful to see a political system where people are at least offered a choice between more government and less government? Where there is a clear ideological divide between the parties?

    As opposed to the cynical, tired, Centrist politics of the UK, where Labour can steal Tory initiatives, not because they're good, but because all three parties are occupying the same tiny bit of political space, squabbling over millimetres rather than having clear air between them.

    It's time for a change here, too, John. And I don't see anything in Call Me Dave that makes me think we're not going to just get more of the same.

    Reply: Then you do not understand the importance of the formula "sharing the proceeds of growth", which means a different approach to the size of the public sector from Labour's spend and grow approach.

  2. Ben Gardiner
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    John

    The problem with the formula "sharing the proceeds of growth" is that it implies that government spending is still going to grow.

  3. Tony Makara
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I would have prefered to have seen Mitt Romney on McCain's ticket as on foreign policy issues Romney seems to understand that the west needs to check the rise of China in Africa. I am not particularly impressed with Palin, who seems to have a black and white mentality, a lack of pragmatism, which is vital for a potential president. Putin, Medvedev and others would outmanouvre Palin on world affairs.

    On the matter of speech-writers, I'm curious as to why politicians ever employ them? If I were a politician I wouldn't need anyone to write my speeches or to lead my thinking. These days when I hear a politician deliver a striking comment I often wonder whether he/she thought of that themselves? I well remember Michael Portillo heaping unbridled eulogies on Tony BLair's 'brilliant' speeches, yet Blair didn't write them. Politics becomes more evermore curious.

    Reply: I agree – I have always written all my own material

  4. Obnoxio The Clown
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    "I don't know what you mean by 'sharing the proceeds of growth,'" Obnoxio said.
    Call Me Dave smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
    "But `glory' doesn't mean `a nice knock-down argument,'" Obnoxio objected.
    "When I use a word," Call Me Dave said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Obnoxio, "whether you can make words mean different things."
    "The question is," said Call Me Dave, "which is to be master — that's all."
    Obnoxio was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Call Me Dave began again.
    "They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

    Reply: it means what it says – the state sector falls as a proportion of GDP!

  5. adam
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I didnt like McCains speech.

    How will the 'working with democrats' theme sit alongside
    Palin's reform Washington, throw out the big government liberals theme.

    Disappointed

  6. Andrew Forbes
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    However, McCain will be in the later half of his 70s by the end of 4 years, which, if age discrimination legislation permits me to say this, means that US voters must assess the VP candidate as a genuine substitute President. Mrs Palin may have many strengths, and ticks many boxes McCain doesn't, but lordy, lordy, lordy, I'm terrified by the thought of her handling her own gun collection, let alone the largest army in the world and the nuclear trigger.

  7. Patrick
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I'd like cast iron clarity from Osborne and Cameron on 'the state sector falls as a proportion of GDP'.

    They will inherit an unprecedented economic mess from Labour with potentially zero growth and a gargantuan public debt.

    Applying the formula will imply actual, real cuts in public spending.

    If I get promised that an incoming Tory administration will indeed cut spending (starting with easy fruit like quangos but soon working into structural elements like benefits and local education authorities) then you have my cast iron assurance of a vote. Hell I'd even hit the streets to support my local Conservative candidate!

  8. Ben Gardiner
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    "the state sector falls as a proportion of GDP!"

    Yes, John. But this still implies that government spending will increase in absolute terms. Given the wastefully high spending that this government has overseen, there surely is scope for a reduction in spending. Scrapping the ID card scheme, and eating into the £100bn spent on quangos would be a good start.

    David Cameron can look to Alaska for inspiration. Governor Palin has an 80% approval rating for taking measures such as selling the private jet and vetoing $500m from the budget.

  9. HJ
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Sorry, can't let you get away with this.

    "Sharing the proceeds of growth" does not mean "the state sector falls as a proportion of GDP". In fact, it doesn't tell you whether the share of GDP taken by the state will fall, grow, or stay the same.

    All it says is that of any GDP growth (not that we have any at present), some will go to the state and the private sector will retain some. Whether the state sector falls or rises as a proportion of GDP depends entirely on whether taxes on this 'extra GDP' are lower or higher than the current average level of about 40% (or 43% if you include borrowing).

    One of the myths that New Labour has been able to get away with is "Tory cuts". In fact, the Tories have never cut public spending in absolute terms. The only party ever to cut spending on the NHS, for example, is Labour – the Tories have always increased it. Some of us would like to see absolute cuts in state spending but, in the long term, much the same effect can be achieved simply by saying "we will raise state spending by less than the growth rate of the economy", which certainly means reducing the proportion of GDP taken by government.

    Reply: The intention is clearly to change from the Labour approach which increases the proportion of economic activity going to the state. Note also the Conservative opposition to expensive programmes like ID computers, top down management in key services, regional government in England etc.

  10. Adrian Peirson
    Posted September 7, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    The Issue is not the Election they are merely battles in the Bigger Picture :-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhvfCFCfdNk&fe

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  • […] John Redwood, a Conservative Member of Parliament in England said McCain did a good job reaching out to Barack Obama and to all Democrats. The contrast of McCain and Palin worked well for the Republicans. The Obama camp is driven back onto attacks and disparaging comments whilst McCain tells the world he wants to work with Democrats for the change America needs and Washington will have to accept. […]

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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