The mood of the blogs may be the mood of the nation

I have been asked to sum up the mood of the bloggers. I think it is quite like the mood of the students I met at Oxford last week as well.

There is a new seriousness. The many who found economics dull are now straining to understand what is happening and are hungry for more news and views. Most share a sense that we are living through unusually worrying and dangerous times.

Most who blog on this site accept that government and regulators are deeply implicated in the banking crisis. Many agree with me that the government cannot simply spend and borrow its way out of it. They want to see some commonsense and business expertise applied to sorting out broken banks. They want the government to target its spending better on people and projects that need public spending, whilst reining in the runaway state with its spy cameras, its thought police and its overweening arrogance.

Most are appalled by public profligacy and waste, by the gross unfairness of job losses and more rules for the private sector, and better expenses and bonuses for the public sector. People are hungry for change for the better, but know they have to live with another year or more of the current government. They fear for their jobs and their savings and have a sense of powerlessness.

So what can we all do? We have to take to the airwaves and the blogsphere, answer the endless surveys and pollsters enquiries, to persuade the politicians in power of our views. The government is uniquely unsure of itself, and vulnerable to polls and media advice. We need to be noisy in asserting a different reality to the government’s parallel universe. Bailing out big banks and spending more money in the public sector is the route to undermining state credit and the currency, not the way to prosperity.

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30 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Government also needs to look at the benefits culture that is turning some, but it would seem a growing number of our Society into a “no work but no worries existance” where the working taxpayer seems to support a complete way of life for some, who simply want to take from the system and have absolutely no intention of making any contribution.

    Those who work are now getting absolutely fed up with constantly providing for the workshy and feckless.

    Yes State support should be in place as a backstop for those too ill to work, and for those who through no fault of their own find themselves out of work. But too often those who have been prudent and who have saved get nothing, as they are deemed to have too much (savings over £6,000) to get any help, whilst those who have chosen to spend thier lot, are able to get all help available.

    The System needs a complete rethink. We need to encourage the work and self support ethic.

    • Ron Lee
      Posted February 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely right a widow with £20000 savings plus her pension has had her savings income reduced from £20 a week to £4 a week this added to her state pension is much lower the the governments guaranteed weekly income, and she will get no help. Why save. Her next door neighbour although she had a good job never saved, had a great time, and now enjoys a good life living off her pensions tax credit. Why save.

  2. Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    In July 1975 when Tony Crosland told local government “The party’s over” it was a truth that many of them knew already, but that wanted a figure of Crosland’s stature to articulate it.

    That it was a Labour minister talking the truth to (largely but by no means exclusively) Labour councils carried a deal of clout. Could it happen today?

    Well, as the polls are scaring those on the Treasury benches talk of replacing Gordon is being reported again. Forget Harman; Alan Johnson alone has the gravitas to tell the nation ‘the party’s over’, and mean it. If he apologised to the nation for the mess Brown and Blair have made many would believe him. But those who claim to know Brown tell us that he will have to be dragged kicking from Downing Street, his chewed finger-stumps leaving gouges in the marble. Well, the comrades are capable of that, too.

    I don’t underestimate the ability of many in the Labour party to recognise the truth of what you and your colleagues have been advising, and nor do I underestimate their ability to seize a crescendo of public opinion and U-turn in order to remain in power. An immediate reversal of the VAT debacle, the destructuring and sale of banking divisions, a freeze on non-essential public recruitment, radical reform of public sector pensions, radical welfare reform and a step back on Leviathan Statism are policies that could all plausibly be voiced by Alan Johnson.

    Whilst we, bloggers and commentators, can provide all the background noise, the Conservative party still needs to make the case for the value it can add to make a clear choice from Labour; if Labour steals your clothes yet again, without this clear blue water you’re no better off.

  3. April Ryan
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    John I agree with every word you’ve written here and am one of the people you describe; hungry for change, disgusted with our so called ‘leaders’ and desperate to see some common sense applied to managing this country.

    Every day I feel sicker and sicker as I read the news, the wheels are coming off the wagon one by one and we are heading towards the cliff edge very rapidly.

    This government is so concerned with controlling every little aspect of our lives they fail to realise that they only really need to worry about war and the transport system. The rest could be handled by those working in the various industries. They think they are the only honest competent trustworthy people in the country, but in fact the complete opposite is true.

  4. Posted February 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    People feel more disconnected from the government than they have ever felt in living memory.
    It does not help that when you write to your MP (of any persuasion) you now do not routinely get a reply (well I don’t). Maybe that’s a measure of how much correspondence that they now get. But we keep getting told that people are not engaging with politics nowadays. Both cannot be true.
    Isn’t party politics to blame in great part?

    • James Morrison
      Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve twice written to my MP in recent times (using the “www.writetothem.com” website) and have twice had replies within 48 hours. I’ve been quite impressed!

      • Posted February 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that, I’ve used the same route with no results.

      • Hawkeye
        Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        My (tory!) MP is very good and always responds promptly. I shall continue to vote for him and hopefully increase his majority.

  5. Posted February 16, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Doing my best, John!

  6. Posted February 16, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    As you say difficult to know what the individual can do. Difficult even to know when the election comes because the choices are so limited – for most of us our constituency is a safe seat so there is little point. For the few whose votes actually count the choice is between Brown & Cameron which is no better than that between fire & frying pan. I know this is notv= your fault but it is the case.

    One thing we could all do is openly & very publicly protest against the statist bias of the BBC who will push any lie (global warming, nuclear power being dangerous, Vince Cable being the first politician to call for interest rate cuts) & censor any fact (…….., immigration numbers, the only discussable answer to any problem being more state regulation or subsidy, the fact that far from having been in a boom for the previous 10 years our economy had been growing at half the world average).

    I have no doubt whatsoever that if our media had not censored & lied about all these things (& others) for decades Britain would be a much wealthier, freer & more at ease place & a number of politicians would have been convicted & hopefully executed for war crimes & genocide.

  7. Colin D.
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “…vulnerable to polls and media advice…”
    No! To listen and change strategy would be to acknowledge they have got it wrong. Brown never admits to getting anything wrong. I fear the solution to everything is to borrow more knowing that the current government will never be long enough in office to have clear up the mess.
    What I find appalling is that the prudent savers are paying to bail out the debtors. Low interest and inflation is rewarding those who are profligate. Save for a rainy day?…forget it!

  8. chris
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all of what you put here – except for the part about being able to exert influence, I am rather skeptical about that point but it would be nice if it is true.

    You do miss one major aspect of great concern to many and that is the increasing removal of liberties and freedom and the increasing power and influence of the government over everything they choose. Oh yes, and the inability to hold any of them to account over their own bad behavior.

  9. Rare Breed
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Will do.

  10. Ian Jones
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately the damage is already done, its not a too big a jump to full on communism now.

    The next step is going to crucify one section of the country to please another. If they go for printing money it will crucify savers but reward debtors. If they let asset prices fall back to their correct level (deflation) then its the other way round. Same with Govt spending, if they go for broke then the private sector will suffer whilst the public sector and welfare sectors will be fine. If they cut then its vice versa.

    I dont think there is a way to muddle through, the battle is now on.

    This Govt have tried to divide and rule the British people for the last 11 years, now it reaches its logical conclusion!

  11. Hawkeye
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    There are two objectives:

    1. Get the election called
    2. Make sure Labour loses badly.

    On point 1 I feel the only way is a vote of confidence

    On point 2 we also need to persuade those Labour voters who will NOT vote Tory that they must vote Lib Dem this time around.

    John – the Tories and the Lib Dems need to reach an agreement that they will stand clear of each other in 3-way contests. If the LibDems are the likely victor then the Tory should stand down and encourage the locals to vote LibDem. The Libs should do the same from their side for the Tories.

    The objective must be to ensure that this putrid government falls and falls hard. I have no objection to the LibDems being the second party.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I agree entirely with some of your points.

      But I do not know of any Labour supporters to challenge, probably because all my contacts either work in a whole variety of commerce and industry, or have private pensions.

      Without exception all of my contacts feel nothing but disgust at the way this Country is being slowly bought to its knees finacially, and its way of life threatened by this Governments actions in the form of its financial incompetence, its quest for Political correctness, and the Heath and Safety Nanny State.

      The problem now is is what will be left to save, and how much and how long it will take.

      Unfortunately neither I or many of my contacts have a great deal of faith in any Political Party at the moment, as we really do have an Elected Dictatorship.

      Labour can do as it likes with the majority it has, unless a good number of Labour MPs refuse to co-operate and vote against the Government. As said before, Turkey’s do not vote for Christmas, so it seems its get your fill at the trough before their good times end.

      We need someone who can see the bigger picture, who has some clear and concise ideas, who can convey them to Public and inspire some confidence and hope for the future.
      In short we need a true Statesman who can rise above all of this Party Politics stuff and once again talk some commonsense.

      • chris southern
        Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Communism/socialism have been defeated before and will be defeated again. the first fight is here in the UK, then the EU.

        In the mean time, prepare the bomb shelter as it’ going to be a rough ride, they won’t give up easily (and more vote rigging will happen)

      • Hawkeye
        Posted February 16, 2009 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        One way is simply to articulate that this government must go. To be honest I don’t care if people vote Tory or LibDem, just so long as they do not vote Labour. I will be voting Tory and I tell anyone who asks and many who don’t ask.

        Maybe we need bumper stickers that say “Don’t vote Labour”?

        I also understand your worry about Cameron being “Labour-lite” but given the complete and utter mess the economy is in at present I would happily hand it over to a bunch of 6 year olds because they could NOT be worse than the current shower.

        Whatever Cameron does – if he possesses the tiniest bit of pragmatism then things will improve enormously.

  12. James Morrison
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I absolutely agree with all of this. It seems to me that everywhere I look on the internet I read how unhappy people are with everything, and I find the same when I talk to people I meet socially, or through work etc. The same complaints about the same things (crime, education, immigration, EU membership, recession etc) and the same frustration that there is nothing we can do to change any of it.

    The political elite (of all colours) have closed ranks, successfully destroying democracy, leaving us a choice of the rock or the hard place. I don’t know anyone who wants either Gordon Brown or David Cameron to win the next election, but as there are no viable/realistic alternatives, one of them will certainly win it – probably by default – leaving us little, or no better off than we are now.

    If the polls are right, then the tribal Tory voters will almost certainly be out in force to ensure a win for Tony Blair’s clone, and will then spend the next 5 years wondering why nothing seems to be changing. I find myself agreeing with Peter Hitchens’ theory that if the Tories lose the next election, there is a chance they will fall apart leaving room for a new, and truly (small ‘c’) conservative party to emerge. Unfortunately I think neither will happen in the near future. What worries me is the likelihood of increased support for the extremist BNP-type parties.

    What adds to the annoyance of our predicament is that everyone in the mainstream media sides with the political spin of the day and refuse to question anything, presenting only one side of a story. The BBC epitomise this, and this is made all the more aggrevating because I will go to prison if I refuse to fund them! True fifth columnists the lot of them.

    There must be a reason for all of this; for the blatant disregard for the opinions of the masses, the deliberate shutting down of debate, the destruction of our nation and incorporation into the EU (and probably, ultimately, one world government) and the poor decision making in this recession. I simply cannot believe these guys and their advisers are really this stupid, and can’t help thinking there’s something more sinister at work.

    So, in the meantime, what can we do, other than to sit helplessly in front of a computer complaining on blogs like this, it’s so frustrating. Actually, it’s pathetic.

  13. Amanda
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I will add three more things we need to do.

    1. Talk to people around us, particularly those who are inclined to vote Labour, and persuade them of the alternatives. For others who don’t read blogs it can be a real chance to express their feelings and know they are not alone in their views – this is particularly the case for older people.

    2. Talk to the young people in our families and of our acquaintence. I am now in the process of educating my hairdresser, beautician, and cleaner,(who all want to understand more) and my god daughter and a rather leftwing neice who are very happy to debate – useful for me to understand them too.

    3. Don’t stand for any assumptions in general conversations that left = good and right = bad. Politely challenge all views that enhance this view. I was recently on an art history course where the lecturer mentioned the Spanish Civil War. To her the fascists were wicked and backed by the Nazis and the left were ‘goodies’ (her words). I pointed out dreadful atrocities were committed by both sides, the politics were complicated, and ‘the Repulicans’ were backed by Stalin. Who would people choose for a friend Stalin or Hitler.

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted February 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Well done Amanda.

      Actually we see a great tv program coming out of this. Perhaps JR as a leading blogger could devise the format and sell the rights!

      Seriously…many of us remember ‘I’m backing Britain’ from the 60s and others recall Peter Finch’s oscar-winning performance and plaintiff cry from ‘Network’ in the 70s. In fact we were moved to use it in a blog at the weekend…

      “We’re as mad as hell and we won’t take it any more”

      We feel a combination of both evolving in Britain right now…and would love to see the mood of the moment somehow captured positively and imaginatively to shake and stir us to the core!

  14. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that John.

    It’s heartening to be part of what is really a significant political change via the blogosphere whereby ordinary voters CAN get their views heard and sometimes influence opinion.

    You’re right in that this government is uniquely susceptible to the winds of media and consumer opinion (probably why they have helped launch such a poor one-eyed site as Labourlist themselves…they don’t really want to court criticism!)
    and we shall circulate this particular blog of yours to as wide a readership as we can.

  15. Lola
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    ‘The mood of the bloggers’ – I have been allowing myself a little time to calm down before responding. I think ‘apoplectic’ best describes my feelings towards the deceitful junta that currently masqerades as the government of the United Kingdom.

    I am no extreme righty. I try to be compassionate and responsible. I have no personal malice towards Socialists. I just think that they are deluding themselves as to the soundness of socialism as a workable political philosophy as judged by all the evidence of history.

    And yet here we are again governed by a lefty party that has yet again created massive inflation and destroyed the currency, inflated the public debt, undermined enterprise, increased dependency and failed to improve, or even just run, state monopoly health and education systems (‘services’ they ain’t).

    Having abandoned Cl4.4 (nationalisation) you’d think they’d realise that tax ‘n spend was also not workable. But nope. Off they have gone using the only remaining leg of their philosophy and bust us.

    As regards the financial regulatory ‘system’ installed by Brown, well it’s just a travesty. It dismantled a workable system and replaced it with something that is accountable only to the whim of the Chancellor and has none of the checks and balances that the old tried and tested system had. Consequently an inept and ignorant Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to manipulate the workings of this system until it broke under the strain.

    None of this analysis is party political. It’s observational. If New Labour had got it right and reformed the state monopolies as they promised I would be the first to congratulate them. But they haven’t. They’ve just thrown massive amounts of our money at them.

    PS. I have had more bonkers ideas come in today from the FSA. Please will you lot make it clear that the FSMA 2000 is No 1 on your agenda for attention and caution the FSA that they’d better be very careful what they do between now and when (if?) you get into power? I can tell you that if you do not the small business retail advice end of FS will have been destroyed by them. And you should note that IFA’s get massive trust ratings from their clients. Trust ratings that far far exceed those of banks (and always did) and politicians. L.

  16. Posted February 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    So what can we all do?

    If you have a garden, dig it over and plant vegetables. Better still, get a pig and a shotgun.

    If this fails, buy shares in the hempen rope.

    BTW. I understand that Gordon is considering a KFC franchise. He certainly has a lot of chickens home to roost at the moment.

  17. mike stallard
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    The big question is this, surely: How representative are we on this site of the general mood of the country?
    And the answer is this: the country needs positive leadership ASAP from people who are listened to and who themselves listen. People who act straight and know what they are doing.
    That is why so many people want you, John, to be more of a Conservative voice in the shadow cabinet.
    Forget Jane Goody and the 13 year old (legal) rapist: people are worried about the future, about their homes, their jobs, their bank accounts……
    We can do it if we are led properly.

  18. David b
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    The system of winner takes all in elections is what brings us so many of these woes. Britain would be better governed if some system of proportional representation were in place. I have voted all my life, and only once in 30 years did I ever elect anyone. And that was due to the PR system for the Scottish Parliament. It is a disgrace to call a country a democracy when so many people vote yet never see anyone who shares their views elected.

    Mr Brown would not be PM if the 20 odds percent of electors who voted his party in, had 20 odds percent of the seats in parliament.

    Reply: On your proposed form of PR large numbers of seats would be empty to represent all those who do not vote, so we would still have a Labour majority! PR does not increase turnout in the UK, and produces something worse than majority government – government by a coalition who decide to change what they promised electors in order to scramble into power.

    • Posted February 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      While David is slighly gilding the lily in saying Labour would get 20% of seats under PR you are doing the reverse John in saying Labour would get a majority. Theu got 36% of the votes at the last election & under a true PR system would get 36% of seats. Granted that would still have left them the largest party but not one able to ride roughshod over something the representatives of the majority didn’t like.

      There is a further question of how much of the Labour & Tory vote is there because people feel they have to vote that way to keep out Tory & Labour respectively. If people felt able to vote for a party they actually liked, who put forward arguments & policies that were not merely designed not to alienate the “middle ground” it might well be that few would vote for either party. While such a society would be more democratic & I think more free & adventurous I can sees why their is a Labour-Tory conspiarcy against it.

      Reply: My point was just to illustrate that many people did not vote – not a serious calculation.

  19. Posted February 17, 2009 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    “I have been asked to sum up the mood of the bloggers”.

    Who asked you?

    Do you know how many bloggers there are in the world? Or, even just in the UK?

    In any event, people being people, bloggers moods will vary.

    Apparently, Derek Draper is claiming to be able to read people’s minds being a psychotherapist. Have you got a similar qualification which enables you to read bloggers moods?

    Reply: Try reading this blog, and you will see bloggers asked me to. I was referring to bloggers to this site.

  20. jim
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    We are entering a period of transition when everything that people used to believe will get thrown away. Whilst people may be getting steadily more angry we still haven’t had a catalyst, it’s hard to say what that might be, possibly the collapse of the pound, or a rapid increase in oil prices. Both of which are likely this year.
    What should be clear is that everything is about to change, hopefully in a positive way, restoring liberty to the people, sweeping away the Quangocracy etc. I’ll be really surprised if Gordon Brown is still alive next year.
    But things are going to be tough, most people aren’t going to have the money to pay tax, so government is going to be cut substantially, a lot of jobs will disappear, like teaching, to be replaced by voluntary workers. have a look at what’s happening in Iceland, the future is coming fast.

  21. Posted February 19, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    “Reply: Try reading this blog, and you will see bloggers asked me to. I was referring to bloggers to this site”.

    Your’s is not on my daily reads, and your politics is further right than I like, I only came over because Iain Dale thought you had something interesting to say. Even though I don’t like his politics either, it has been on my daily reading list for ages, and I did like 18doughtystreet.com. You did not say in your post, nor provide a link to follow the source of your thought. I am not a mind reader.

    Certainly, blogs are coming into their own. Obama puts his victory down to the internet. We are slower over here. Having said that, the government is desperately trying to control the internet. It is a waste of taxpayers money having 10 full time staff monitoring the internet to see what is being said about them. Google Alerts are free!

    The biggest waste is the money spent on our prisons. If the Titan Prisons project goes ahead, people will be walking around with wheelbarrows full of almost worthless banknotes. Smaller, more manageable units, is not only cheaper but the way forward.

    I note from your banner “today’s issues and tomorrow’s problems. An issue today is that the government has failed in its responsibilities to the Convention to implement the ECtHR decision in Hirst v UK(No2). The Observer reports: “The government must give prisoners the right to vote or the next general election will be illegal under European law, ministers have been warned by parliament’s influential Joint Committee on Human Rights” (9.11.2008). I think you will have to agree that this will be a problem tomorrow. It won’t go away. And yet, H.M. Opposition has so far been silent on this. Do you think that the Committee of Ministers in Europe on 17-19 March 2009 are just going to fire paper clips at the UK? Members States have to abide by the Convention to be Members of the EU. In my view, the UK should tidy up its act of face being expelled like a naughty school boy at Eton or Harrow. Just a thought, don’t you have to be in Europe for Economic Competitiveness to mean something in this country?. We have to play by their rules on this, over there it’s Roman law not English law which prevails. Charles Falconer failed to do his homework. Labour are trying to hide his incompetence. When I studied law I took on board the influence of European law, it wasn’t even around when Charles Falconer studied law. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Where are the Tory attack dogs? Shouldn’t you be sending them into this political bear pit?

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  • By SYNTAGMA » Highlights of Political Blogs: February 17 on February 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    […] The mood of the blogs may be the mood of the nation Most are appalled by public profligacy and waste, by the gross unfairness of job losses and more rules for the private sector, and better expenses and bonuses for the public sector. […]

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    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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