Revenge on the politicians

I have often written about how much many people hate the bossy, autocratic snooper government which has damaged our freedoms in the last decade. We hate the cameras, the road blocks, the hectoring public advertisements, the multiplying army of regulators, the aggressive tax collectors, the enforced political correctness, the thought police, the concrete blocks around Parliament, the spying on our rubbish bins and the stealthy approach to making us all have Identity cards. Government, both national and local, has become a bunch of snoopers who know how we should all live and know where we live.

They want us to know they are watching us, with a view to fining us if we put a foot out of line with their view of how and where we should walk. They have used the threat of terrorism as an excuse to intensify their prying eyes, their eavesdropping and their defended lives. They have used climate change as an excuse to raise more taxes. They have sought to change people’s drinks and diet, using that as another excuse to raise more taxes.

In the age of the internet they are now discovering that the cameras which point at the public can also capture them. When people ask the old question, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – who will watch the watchers themselves? – we now have a new answer. The watched can watch the watchers.

Many people have mobile phones which contain cameras handy for instant recording of an offisde official. The internet allows access to plenty of public information. It permits people to transmit their anger and experiences of the guards instantaneously around the world. We can all now issue our own newspaper by web publishing, or make our own broadcast by webcasting.

The anger with the political elite in Britain is now enormous. The expenses row allows people to vent their anger about the behaviour of the politicians. That anger has been intensified by the them and us approach to life which has been on display from so many of the politicians who have lectured and hectored others on how they should live. Too many MPs spent taxpayers money on trying to create a ring of concrete and guards around Parliament, when Parliament should be open and welcoming to the public that pays for it and looks to it for justice and wise law. The public now have the means to put the guards under surveillance, and now have the issue to fashion their revenge.

I used to find latin hard work, but I do recall Quod me nutrit me destruit – what nourishes me also destroys me. That sums up what is happening to MPs who loved to regulate and tax people more.

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34 Comments

  1. Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    You are indeed correct, the tide is turning.

    Tony Blair knew when to get out, Just in time.
    Understand from the papers this morning (Jeff Randall Telegraph) that all of his reciepts were shreded just before he left Downing Street !!
    Interesting if this is true.
    One wonders why.

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I would be prepared to speculate but I fear I may fall foul of the moderator…

      • Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Certainly some of his receipts were destroyed and it was reported at the time that this was an ‘accident’.

        It was no such thing. He could see the writing on the wall. That is was only a matter of time before somebody got hold of the papers and sold them on.

        I wonder whether all receipts were shredded. He and Mrs B would defnitley have the full front page to themselves.

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      “Tony Blair knew when to get out, Just in time.”

      Well, he gave no sign of it, and had to be forced out by Brown.
      Which rather implies that Blair is not some machiavellian genius, but just bloody lucky.

      • Posted May 16, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Freddy

        I think you underestimate Mr Blair.

        I think he knew exactly what he was doing.
        He was a very clever politician (in the worse sense in my view) in so far as he agreed with everyone with a smile, then did his own thing, after first spinning a long enough yarn, and was never to be pinned down properly in 10 years.
        He was in fact the consumate chameleon, just doing enough to remain the acceptable face of the Labour Party, which kept them in power.

        The fact that he actually got away with “going to War” on the now discredited statement of wepons of mass destruction, outlines his skill (if that is what you want to call it) at convincing others.
        Other statements made which we all remember well include:

        Education, Education, Education.

        Tough on the causes of Crime.

        I will serve another full term.

        All of the above and many more, were just headlines with little or no substance, but enough of the Public were sucked in because he looked sincere.

        Now he has gone, the real face of Labour has been exposed for what it always was.

        Some of us could see through this presentation 12 years ago, sadly the majority could not.

        Blair knew when the time was up, and quit just in time.

        It is no coincidence that he is (we are informed by the Press) the highest paid speaker in the World at the moment. God knows why, but he has once again convinced enough people that he is worth it, otherwise they would not pay.

        The shedded reciepts.
        Make up your own mind if it was an accident.

        What is for sure is that they were probably paid in full if they existed.
        If so a record of payment must be on file somewhere, as money would have needed to have changed hands.

  2. Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The mismatch between the ruling political and media elite (the RPME) and the ordinary public is tearing Britain apart. We have woken up to the fact that the RPME is a collection of bullies which arrogantly despise the ordinary public. It is the 21st century version of the class war.

    For example, we are going to vote on 4th June, but the only possible outcome is that one or another version of the RPME will be elected. Take Europe. Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that the majority of the British public wants out of the present absurd arrangement whereby increasing parts of our national life are dictated by an un-elected, out of touch, arrogant and power-mad Brussels ruling class. Neither the RPME nor the election on 4th June offers any hint of a solution and we have even been denied the promised Lisbon referendum. The RPE dare not consult the public on Europe (the result would be bound to go the wrong way) and after 4th June it will get back to business as usual and continue to ignore our concerns.

    At one time all this did not bother me. House prices and share prices were going up and we were all living the good life. However, I am beginning to think there will be some unpleasant unintended consequences of the RPE’s iron grip. Large swathes of the UK are now showing the symptoms of a broken society and are up in arms with silent anger. The RPME will not fare well in troubled times. MPs are now finding out how unpleasant these unintended consequences can be. They are having to acknowledge that the public hates and despises them and is now subjecting them to the equivalent of a day in the stocks with onlookers throwing rotten tomatoes.

    It will be interesting to see how long the RPME can keep the public locked down and, if there are further revolts by the peasants, how unpleasant the consequences will be.

  3. Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Would that this scandal gave the political elite their ‘come uppence’. Sadly, the elite protect their own and at the end of day the price paid will not be in proportion to either the crime committed nor to the total lack of honour displayed by so called ‘honourable’ members. If standards and fairness were foremost in the Government’s mind, the order of the boot would have been given right away to the likes of Hazel Blears who cheerily insulted our intelligence by waving her cheque in our faces.

  4. Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    That is and excellent summing up of the current situation and I agree with every word of it. The trouble is that few in your party seem to agree and have remained silent whilst all this has been going on.

    What makes me despair is that this just doesn’t seem to register with David Cameron. We have the example of Boris in London. His first instinct upon gaining power was not to sack bureaucrats and make a bonfire of red tape, it was to impose yet another ban. I fear that we will get more of the same should Cameron come to power. There is no party to vote for if you want the Government off your back.

    It is heartening to read your comments and to know that there is at least someone speaking up for those want their freedoms back. I only wish that more of your colleagues would take the same view.

  5. Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    The people want basic justice, basic services and good value for money from a Government. The public have been conditioned by New Labour to be “good citizens” and now believe “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”. Even if it means a hundred or more MPs go to jail, so be it. There is no anger from me just good citizenry.

    P.S. (Dislikes) (words left out) Gordon Brown applying for children’s blinds first then resubmitting a claim for “Noah blinds” after he got rejected. As I sit here in my office trying to be as understanding and objective as I can it looks (wrong-ed).

    I would also like the tax man to justify why Gordon said he paid his cleaner via his brother to simplify NI. It was Gordon who introduced NI employer laws. He is admitting (adapting? ed) his own law because the red-tape was too much for him.

  6. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I’ve had it with MPs excuses about “it was within the rules”. Do I elect my MP on the basis that I think he is an honourable and upright person whose general political direction I like – or do I elect him to follow rules ? Rules are for the soldiers, because they need guidance and I had hoped our politicians were officer material.

    It’s this nannying and hectoring rules based Labour elite who are so utterly blind to the fact that ‘following rules’ is the road to abdication of responsibility – something we see so clearly now in many of their own behaviour.

    Any MP tainted by anything more than a smidgen of dirt sticking to them in this fiasco has to go at the next election, if not before – and with no ‘golden handshake’ pay-offs either.

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Understand that the Speaker whenever he goes, will go straight to the House of Lords.
      This it would appear is normal practice and proceedure for past Speakers as I understand it.

      • Posted May 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Judging by the magnificent careers and achievements of the ennobled Lords recently – (oh how unfair the old system was when Lords were hereditary like little Blair or little Gould!) – he should fit in very well among his peers.

  7. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Entirely agree with your sentiments. The expenses row is a catalyst for other issues. It emphasises the hypocrisy of the political classes attitude towards the rest of us. The people had already had enough. But the recession coupled with expenses has created a massive flashpoint.

    I find it hard to believe you found Latin hard work. Didn’t you have to do it for prelims.

  8. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Here’s another Latin tag which people should remember when reflecting on politicians and their public-pocket-picking habits: Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris – It’s human nature to hate those you hurt.

    My mum used to say she knew for sure that the war would be won when Churchill came on the radio and said: “The news from France is very BAD.” She felt the Government was at last being totally honest with the nation, and that together anything could be achieved. Mr Cameron must do the same. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and DEBT.” Oh, and he should invite you into his Government, Mr Redwood, with an expenses package commensurate to your talents.

  9. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Politicians are slowly realising that “the worm has turned”. Many of us have been predicting this wave of public anger for some time. Most politicians appear to have been living in “politician land” not the real world that the rest of us inhabit. There has developed an arrogance and self-serving attitude. How could they understand the concerns of the electorate whom they purport to represent when they themselves were sheltered from much of the effects of their own actions? In addition to your list, who gave them the authority to pass over to an unelected EU the lawmaking powers that we entrusted temporarily to them? I have warned before many times that our democratic system was in jeopardy. That reality must now be obvious even to MPs.

  10. Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    That would make a great inaugural speech JR. I may not have mentioned this before but this would be a great opportunity to redesign parliament, such that we would elect our “executive”, separately from the “legislature”. You know the rest; I have recruited BOM to the cause today.

    http://burningourmoney.blogspot.com/2009/05/fresh-start.html

    The trouble is that the British electorate has a very short memory and even shorter understanding of what is going on. This current mess could be long forgotten by the next general election.

    Also, there is one attribute the British have in spades. The ability to cut off their noses to spite their faces. For instance; they don’t like being spied on but will campaign to have CCTV cameras on every lamppost in a village. And; demand more houses be built, only to get up a petition to stop more houses being built, after they have moved in, (who’d be a local Councillor).

    Before I get started on loads of other clichés, I will leave you with this one, most appropriate to our current society. “Free at the point of use leads to abuse”. (Health Service; Education etc., etc.,)

  11. Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    And the latest Labour political party broadcast adopts a tone which just emphasises that aggression, big brother atmosphere.
    Have they no feeling at all for the public mood?

  12. Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    My opinion is that those MPs who have bent the allowance rules (they are a disgrace) should be deslected so we can have a clear out at the next election. They aren’t going to resign as MPs, they think they can say sorry, pay a bit back and carry on milking the system.
    Even the tory grandees involved should be out for good, whip withdrawn and get some fresh candidates in. They can carry on giving their advice behind the scenes so their so called experience doesn’t have to be lost.

    But any moral authority these people had has gone for ever. Why should the public accept them as our representatives?

    Please clear them out Mr Cameron and let’s get some new people in who can relate to the lives of ordinary Britons but hopefully with honesty and personal integrity.

    (As for the morally decrepid labour mps, let the voters clear them out and soon).

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      What really worries me about this whole affair, is that some people are still treating the expenses fiasco as party political; I read on one of Sky’s blog, that a Labour supporter believes it is a piece of anti Labour propaganda by the Torygraph(sic) because there appears to be more Labour MPs with snouts in the trough than Conservative ones. The expenses fiasco must go beyond party politics; I condem all politicians of all parties that have taken the mickey, and that should be the position of all right thinking people. Abuse of a system is abuse no matter which MP of which party is at it and it should be condemed.
      What I would love to see now is a similar exercise carried out in relation to MEP’s expenses; Now that would be a real eyeopener and if public opinion became as heated about that as with our own MP’s expenses, it may just kill off once and for all any debate about further integration into the EUSSR.
      If all current MPs are put up for reselection by our PC leader, will we end up with a bunch of MPs there purely on the basis of their gender/ethnic origin rather than the most important trait; Their ability to do the job well?

      I feel, as a law abiding private individual, that my home is too often invaded by state “Do as you’re told or we’ll have you” messages. The cost to put onto our TV channels all these threatening pieces of state propaganda must be very high.
      The role of the state is to protect us from hostile states, protect us from criminals and detect those that would do us harm. The role of the state is not social engineering and to rip us off. This current authoritarian state we now find ourselves living in is completely alien to my perception of what my country was only a couple of decades ago!! I want my country and way of life back and it is wrong of Labour and their pals in Europe to have taken it away from me in the first place!!

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I think what will happen is that if local committees keep any discredited people as candidates for the next general election then the electorate won’t vote for them even if this means they don’t vote on party lines. The electorate are not stupid and they now know what their local MP has been up to when for years they may have had the wool pulled over their eyes.

      For instance I won’t be voting for my local Conservative unless there is a new candidate. I will vote for whoever I think has the most integrity and with whos views I can mostly agree with. This could mean Green or, if I was still living in Wales Plaid Cymru yet I would like to be able to vote Conservative. I won’t vote for anyone who is there to milk the system.

      We really need to press for an election asap as all these people are going to hang on as long as they can. As you say none of them will have the decency to resign and those that do go will have been forced out.

  13. Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I should have been reading your blog before – I have only just come to it after the current episodes. I agree wholeheartedly with your views.

  14. Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t watched BBC Question time for nearly a decade, but as my son was born two weeks ago and he was awake, I found myself channel surfing with a restless baby. Anyway, it was quite amazing the level of anger and open hostility on display. Mrs Beckett in particular it seemed to me, was the target for some hostility.

    The gap between the rulers and the ruled is now enormous, even pre the 1832 reform act, the elite had their fingers on the pulse of the mob, not so any more. This is a desperate time for our democracy because if parliament is unable or unwilling to change, (or perhaps some members still don’t get it), there will be the clarion calls for extra-parliamentary action. This would be an awfully retrograde step, but in the absence of alternatives it would be adopted by some.

    I hope we are living in the modern equivalent of 1831 Britain, I hope to God this is not the ancien regime of 1788 France.

  15. Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Have just had a look at Shahid Maliks own web site.

    On it he proudly proclaims ‘New Labour, New Britain’.

    He missed one out. ‘New Television’.

    • Posted May 15, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Now in the interests of accuracy should you not say ‘New Home Cinema’

  16. Posted May 15, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    It is a wonderful moment to savour. These arrogant, venal ‘lords of all they survey’ [with many honourable exceptions] long used to being answerable to nobody but themselves and their own interests have at long last been brought to the realisation that we, ultimately, are the masters and they our servants. Oh, how i wish that Blair were here to share their fall. Until this mess is solved to our [the people’s] satisfaction it is everyones duty to be merciless and not to let them wriggle off the hook – for you may be sure they will strain might and main to do so-particularly the labour party. Indeed, there are many more to be brought to book: the Lords, civil service, local councils, quangos, just for starters. Let�s go through the whole system. Just a point. Hazel Blears has sent a cheque for 13k pounds. As someone pointed out the Inland Revenue must send a bill first otherwise the money is credited to you to be set against future liabilities. Can we get this clarified?

    Reply: I took this up with Labour yesterday, and was told it has been paid in as a donation to another Treaury account so it will not sit on her account as a credit for future tax.

  17. Posted May 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I watched Question Time last night and for me, Margaret Beckett typified the patronising attitude of New Labour politicians when questioned about her expenses. Basically, she treated her critics in the audience like idiots. Such is the arrogance of New Labour after 12 years in power!

  18. Posted May 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Further to my comments above, until a few weeks ago I was inclined to vote for the Tories in the next General Election (my MP is Douglas Carswell, and I think he is a good MP) but I am not so sure now. Unless the Tory Party really clean up their act, and I mean really clean it up, then there will be many like myself, who will either vote for another party at the next election or not vote at all. If the Tories are to win the Next election with any moral authority, they have got to show that they are above reproach. So all MPs (Tory, Labour and Lib-Dems) who have abused the expenses system should be sacked from their party.

  19. Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure we wouldn’t have minded the expenses quite so much had politicians not spent the start of the 21st century making our lives all the more unpleasant.

    As you say, the cameras, the snoopers and the excessive laws have aggitated us and yet politicians have rewarded themselves for their ruining of our lives with vast property portfolios, all paid for by the suffering public.

    Quite frankly, I would gladly pay each politician £200,000 a year if they just left me alone to live my life. Low taxes to help pay for the needy, no snooping on what I throw away, no ‘speed cameras for your own safety’, no deciding what I can eat or drink, no telling me that I should exercise more or less, no telling me whether I can smoke or not, no global warming guilt trip if I should choose to run my car to the shops.

    And most of all, no telling me that it’s my fault when you get caught with your hands in the cookie jar. The most disgraceful thing about this whole expenses saga has been the refusal to take personal responsibility. It’s the system’s fault, it was all within the rules, it’s the fault of the Telegraph for telling you the details – it’s not. It’s the fault of the people who have abused the system, and the fault of those who didn’t seek to fix it.

    Did no-one forsee the problems that could happen if you allow MPs to ‘flip’ their homes whenever they felt like it? Not one of our elected officials looked at that and thought ‘hmm, I wonder if we should close this loophole’? And if any of them did see it, why was the issue not raised?

    All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

  20. Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    “Too many empty green benches visible on TV.” Televising Parliament was fought against as hard as publishing expenses. It seems all too often that decisions are made outside the House, (viz, the eurofighter) and when important matters do come before the Commons there are only a handful of MP’s there. As most of our laws now come from Brussels, it prompts the question, why are we paying them at all?

  21. Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    i would be honored to walk into parliament every day, with its history.

    the internet is the new freedom, i can read documents online that would previously have languished in archives around the world and i would never have had access to.
    This one i was reading yesterday for example, the UN Vancouver Action Plan, which says:

    “Land, because of its unique nature and the crucial role it plays in human settlements, cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes.

    “Public control of land use is therefore indispensable to its protection as an asset and the achievement of the long-term objectives of human settlement policies and strategies.”

    can be downloaded here
    http://ww2.unhabitat.org/programmes/housingpolicy/overall.asp

    Just serves to confirm my suspicions.

    The internet is a great leveler and is beginning to threaten the monopoly of the corrupt mainstream mps who work to destroy peoples rights and liberties while claiming to represent them.
    I do believe a significant change is coming and that is why politicians are out to regulate the internet.

    As usual you are ahead of your colleagues in understanding the what is going on.

  22. Posted May 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I think they’ve got it! It has taken a decade, but at last……

  23. Posted May 16, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Being financially ripped off by our New Labour masters is only adding insult to injury. They could have used the past twelve years to really improve public services with the money they took from us. Instead they have majored on building what Tony Benn rightly called a totalitarian state, while pretending that they are servants of the people.

    They tried to sell road-pricing by blackmailing the people of Manchester, but there were too many concerns for privacy, and the local campaign came up with a great slogan ‘Tagged, Tracked and Taxed’ which sums up New Labour’s wider intentions towards us.

    I applaud Mr Redwood’s comments on the threat to our privacy and our pockets, but hope that we will go one better in totally rejecting national road pricing. This has been pushed for the past ten years by a European Union burning to fund its own Galileo military/spy satellite. It has been such a commercial embarrassment that New Labour has had to step in to underwite it with our money.

    Even if a road pricing system was totally in British and private-sector hands, I wouldn’t feel safe, as the record of our movements built up would be attractive to both prying commercial interests and identity fraudsters.

    So unlike New Labour in Manchester, I would hope that the Conservative Party has the sense to be in step with public opinion. Mr Redwood is also right to note that we motorists pay heavily for being on the road at the moment, and 30 million of us have votes!

  24. Posted May 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The Government, by the actions of some of their MPs, have now lost any moral right they may have had to extract so much of a penny in tax from any member of the public who is worse off than said MPs.

  25. Posted May 16, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    What lessons can be learned?

    1. MPs can’t be trusted. If you do this with expenses, you’re going to do worse with other things, and there we are talking real money.

    2. Transparency prevents this.

    So as one example, will you publish all the Equitable life information when in power?

    Nick

    Reply: A great deal has been published by the Ombudsman and others . The Ombudsman has found in favour of compensation. The Oppositon has said it will pay some compensation, if it wins the next election.

  • 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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