Labour’s great mistakes

Last night at a meeting I felt the need to remind people just why we need change, and why that change has to be the Conservatives. Everyone has their ideal view of what the next government should do, say and be like. It will soon be time to live in the real world, and recognise that the choice lies between Labour and Conservatives.

We need to remember:

Conservatives opposed Mr Brown’s changes to the Bank of England which stripped it of important powers and contributed to the banking crash.

Conservatives opposed the switch in inflation target before the 2005 election, a switch which led to a bigger credit bubble than we wanted.

Conservatives opposed the excessive deficit of the last year, voting against the VAT reduction and proposing lower spending.

Conservatives opposed the tax raid on Britain’s pension funds, a raid which led to the closure of most funds to new members and the winding up of many funds.

Conservatives opposed the Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, because they transferred power to Brussels.

Conservatives opposed Labour’s lax approach to our borders, wanting proper border controls and limits on numbers.

Conservatives offered a refererendum on Lisbon and voted for one in the Commons. Lib Dems and Labour ratted on their promise and voted it down.

Conservatives opposed much of the new red tape which now envelops local government and business.

Conservatives opposed attacks on our freedoms and civil liberties.

Sorting out the mess our country, our economy and our society is in is no easy task. It will not be possible to tackle everything all at once. Even mending the economy will take time. The question being debated today is do we want to make a start, or do we intend to carry on living in make believe land, awaiting the market crash which is likely to happen if we do not start to live within our means and begin the task of running our public sector efficiently and well.

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35 Comments

  1. Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I have a couple of worries about the current leadership. The first is that they are blase with the scale of the problem, events overtake them and Labour then point the figure at the Conservative government. Although I'm sure the leadership know this very well so I still have faith that the necessary measures will be taken in time.

    The second point is the policy announcement last week of full steam ahead on man-made global warming and swingeing cuts in carbon emissions (there's one number the Conservatives certainly aren't shy of outcutting Labour on). With only 26% of Britons (according to a BBC poll this week) now believing in AGW I think a more realistic line should have been taken.

    I have no problem with green policies, as you have often put forward on this site, recycling, energy efficiency, cut back on waste, etc. All sound conservative thinking.

    As far as AGW goes I'd have liked to have seen a proper review of the current state of research taking place as well as a pledge that any future Conservative government would not fund, directly or indirectly, any research into this unless all calculations and data were published in full for anyone to access. More of an open minded approach rather than fingers in the ears science is settled ignore the worries of 74% of the population on this issue and the cranks will go away.

    Alternatively the AGW issue could have just been left to the side and tackled in the future if the policy makers were afraid of some sort of backlash.

  2. Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, although the Conservative Party opposed all these things, they are quite happy to leave them in place. So, although (if elected) Mr Cameron might change direction, he does not intend to roll back the damage done by Mr Brown.

    Starting to undo the damage to the economy is all very well, but he appears to want to keep the Lisbon Treaty, not eject illegal immigrants, and continue with the waste in the public services. Many of us mock do not believe in his stance on the environment, and object to the restrictions and taxes that these policies will inflict on us.

    In effect, those of us who might vote have a choice – either for or against Mr Brown. In spite of some excellent Conservative MPs, it is hard to vote in favour of the Tories. The best you can hope for is people not wanting to "waste" their vote on the parties who have no chance of winning a majority.

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to be able to vote for something? Revolution, not evolution.

    • Posted February 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you but I can't accept that the Conservatives offered an honest referendum on Europe. This offer was made only when it was patently clear that no referendum would be possible. Cynical?

      Also the Conservatives opposition to last years deficit was, I hope inevitable, because they have not, so far, adopted Keynesian economic strategies but, their opposition to deficits came too late in the day to have a serious impact.

      Far better to be honest with the electorate than claim high ground that does not exist

      Reply: There was nothing cynical abour us proposing a referendum and voting for it – the whole point was we needed to have it before the Treaty was ratified.

      • Posted February 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Come on John tell the top brass (David Cameron and co) to stop making bold statements, only then to water down such decisions. David needs to remain bold and them have the courage to stick with his statements. It is bold decisions that are have been attracting people to the Conservatives and away from Labour. It is the major U-turns such as the deficit, marrage tax breaks and the EU referendum that so many still desire that is responsible for the voting intentions to narrow (Con 39, Lab 30 when I last looked a few days ago). With the way that the Labour Government has been exposed in the last year as liars, cheats and selling us short to the EU the Conservatives should be looking at 50+ with Labour under 20. We need Labour out of power, and we need them out in the May election! Another five years of a Labour Government and the country will be finished and possibly beyond repair.

        In order for the conservatives to secure a victory, promise us a "in or out" of the EU, for which we pay in nearly the most but receive the least out of it. Promise to reduce the ridiculous number of immigrants both legal and ilegal from entering the country (not racist, common sense is needed, as too many people chasing too few jobs). Promise us a reduction in tax when it is affordable and promise to rid us of the appaling Human Rights bill that is allowing criminals to laugh at their victims.

        If the Conservatives can start seriously looking at these issues that are of importance to the majority of the electorate including myself, then you will get my vote in the next election, otherwise UKIP will be getting it.

  3. Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    "the choice lies between Labour and Conservatives"

    Does it?

    Both pro-war(s)
    Both will run large budget deficits
    Both will run a state in excess of 40% of GDP
    Both pro nationalised schools
    Both pro nationalised medicine
    Both pro BBC funding via mandatory poll tax
    Both pro AGW and green taxes
    Both pro fiat currency and national bank
    Both pro gun bans
    Both front benches pro QE
    Both incapable of real social security reform
    Both talk tough on crime
    Both fail to provide enough prison places to jail criminals however
    Both leaders affect to be plebeian
    Both aren’t
    Both continue with deceitful Ponzi scheme of social security
    Both will maintain freedom-crushing anti-terror laws (just watch!)
    Both are stuffed with those who have taken drugs
    Both support drug bans
    Both are stuffed with expenses cheats

    Labour are certainly the greater of two evils, but this is no choice at all. While people continue with the mantra that there is no point in voting for anyone else they can expect no change

    • Posted February 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Both are in love with Quangos

  4. Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately it only took one Conservative mistake to seriously hurt their electoral chances.

    "2nd Sep 2007 – George Osborne promises to match Labour's spending plans"

    12 days later we had the run on Northern Rock and the financial crisis was imminent.

    The reason this was such a mistake is that the Tories could not attack Labour for overspending, as 'matching their spending' implies that you agree with both the current and all previous levels of spending.

    More damaging, as Fraser Nelson pointed out recently, it meant that the Tories agreed with Labour that spending more = good, spending less = bad. Instead of arguing for cuts in unnecessary spending and the shifting of responsibility to the individual, the Tories gave in and accepted that you measure the success of a government by how much it spends.

    You are absolutely correct when you write about Labour's failures and how the Conservatives rightly opposed certain measures. It's just a great shame that party leadership lost faith in Conservative fundamentals only weeks before the onset of the credit crunch.

  5. Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Now if The Party proposed to re-instate or correct all of the things opposed it would be at 50-60% in the polls!!!

  6. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    The sticking point is the leadership's refusal to accept that there is no climate crisis and never was. Using it as a means to solve the looming energy crisis, which is real, is not going to work.

    Sticking with Labour policies on unachievable emissions and trying to outdo them, will impoverish millions of people and have no impact on climate, which will do as it always has, change cyclically.

    Micro-generation is a green fantasy, it is not going to keep the lights on. Claims of green jobs are empty claims, such jobs only exist by subsidy because the end products are non-viable and divert resources from real jobs.

    Carbon Capture and Storage is both unnecessary, unproven, non-commercial, possibly geologically damaging and massively expensive. Modern technology can produce cleaner power stations, safer coal mines and combined heat and power. Telling the EU to go jump on the Large Combustion Plant Directive, (and on everything else), would give us extended life from our coal fired stations.

    • Posted February 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      DennisA: "The sticking point is the leadership’s refusal to accept that there is no climate crisis and never was. "

      Excellent post, as to each of your other points, each one spot on. Well said!

  7. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    So, we know what you stood against, how about a list of all the things that you have agreed with?

    How about another list of what your priorities are going to be if you are elected?

    How about telling us how you will over turn some of the things introduced by Labour that you disagreed with?

    …and an easy one to start…how are you going to solve the West Lothian Question?

    Reply: Try reading the back numbers on this site where you will find many of the answers. English votes for English issues is my answer on W Lothian.

    • Posted February 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is your answer and I am sure we all give you credit for it. But it isn't the Tory answer is it?

      As far as I am aware, the Tory policy is that given by Kenneth Clark, some sort of gigantic toothless committee .

      What is needed is a simple procedure whereby the Speaker certifies measures that are England-only. All MPs can speak on the matter; only English MPs can vote.

      Such a solution would be democratic and cost nothing.

      • Posted February 8, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        my point exactly, unfortunately I believe that you took "you" to mean singular when I actually meant plural

        My apologies for the ambiguity

        It gets right to the heart of the matter. I note that a few MP's can spout off about certain matters, but can be seen as mavericks outside the inner circle of control

        I want to see the party attack the government, make them stand up and be accountable for their mistakes…there is such a large amount of open goal area

        But if you think that policies of "we will do things exactly the same but slightly differently" will stand up then I believe that the party will miss the greatest opportunity to destroy an opposition party; but first you must win the election convincingly, and for that you must have policies which convince the electorate (who will vote), and you must appear united in your attacks

  8. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    It took the Soviet communist/fascist thugs 72 years to destroy all the liberty and wealth of the countries in their totalitarian empire.

    It's took New Labour just 12 years.

    They should be very proud.

    • Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      The Soviets managed to destroy Russia in a similar time. By the 1930s they were using famine as an adjunct to the gulags. It took another 60 years or so to throw off the yoke. I hope we will manage that sooner.

      • Posted February 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        True true. I was being over-kind to the Soviet thugs.

  9. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Don't forget the anti-Englishness of New Labour, you oppose that too. Right?

  10. Posted February 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    JR: "The question being debated today is do we want to make a start,…"

    Yes we would like to make a start, I have serious doubts that a Tory party led by David Cameron, vehicle to begin the task.

    Why?

    Cameron seems more interested in trying to capture the floating green vote than consolidating his electoral base.

    Cameron has wasted the last three years trying to convey a 'perception' like Blair, of being all things to all men. Consequentially, those of us who want something more substantial in a leader, perhaps someone guided by principle distrust him and wouldn't touch him with a ten foot barge pole.

    A leader of the Tory party who has spent more time courting the AGlobal warmists than his own Tory core vote, just as that aspect of the green movement is disintegrating has been shown to posess very poor judgment.

    Even now when it has been shown that the IPCC is riddled with (questionable statements and practises-ed) ……, that the figures produced by the UEA Climactic research unit and that the government has been buying support for AGW movements across the globe with tax payers money, even now, Cameron is not backing away from his support for AGW.

    I put it down to the faustian pact he has with that Arch Environmentalist and green 'tory' party supporter Zak Goldsmith.(false allegation left out)

    • Posted February 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      JR: ".(false allegation left out)"

      Please explain then, why if Cameron is such an intelligent man, why despite the evidence that the Anthrogenic Global warming 'scare' has been comprehensively discredited, yet David Cameron still adheres to it?

      (unknown website reference deleted)

  11. Posted February 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I think the present Conservative slide dates from Cameron breaking the "cast iron" promise on a referendum. Much better never to make it than to reveal such unreliability.

    All the things you say John are true but they do not amount to more than saying Labour are truly abysmal & we aren't quite that bad which hardly enthuses.

  12. Posted February 6, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Fair points but it is surely easy to oppose anything when you know you will not ultimately succeed in preventing it happen. The Conservatives opposing issues under the last couple of governments is a bit like the Lib Dems offering policies for when they win the next election.
    It would be useful if you would refer to what will happen with a Conservative government not what hasn't happened in the past.

  13. Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    "Conservatives opposed the excessive deficit of the last year, voting against the VAT reduction and proposing lower spending."

    So you conceed that you're a party that supports high taxes and blocks attempts to lower them?

    The logic behind the VAT reduction was to get people spending again as wealth became cheaper and easier to obtain. This is sound reasoning and the Conservatives should have supported Brown on this and used it as a platform for lowing taxes across the board.

    Its one on the few things he got right, albeit temporarily.

  14. Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    This message has been pre-approved by CCHQ? Big Brother is watching you.

    Reply: No, of course not. I will still be arguing for what I want to see, but the starting point for reform has to be a change of government.

  15. Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Goods points but what you advocated in the past shouldn't constrain what you advocate in the future.

    We are deep in the Brown stuff and we can't let the past constrain us.

    Reply: No, my ambition for Britain is not dimmed

  16. Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    John. Your last paragraph smacks of a lack of ambition which is also present in Osborne's presentations of late. "Making a start" is a kind of Osborne turn of phrase, which doesn't really tell us how or where he's going. It signifies a change in direction, sure, but without a course true and fixed. It is just glib and unlike words normally written by you.

    So just what is the "end game" for the Tory government you will soon be asking us to vote for? Policy statements at the moment seem to be all about "this is wrong and we'll turn it around" but don't really say how, and where we're going to end up.

    As three examples:

    "Working with" (G.O.) BOE QE measures (to prop up house prices) or stopping printing money (yourself) regardless of (interest rates and house prices and) their advice?

    Following Clarke/Heseltine into closer ties with Europe, staying static (Hague, Cameron) or pulling back to a trade zone (yourself, Hannan)?

    Measures of inflation. Will you stick with mortgage costs in RPI, when they rip higher, causing higher inflation causing higher interest rates causing higher inflation, or will you use some other measure?

    If you deserve our vote, corporately, we deserve your promises, corporately, fixed for the term, adhered to. It's not too long before the election now, surely, for us to be told straight what your aims are and preisely where you are headed. Not yours personally, but yours corporately. Without these, written large, in stone, the votes won't be coming your way. And infact without them in my view a hung Parliament might be a more morally correct result.

  17. Posted February 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    He who can express an appealing direction in which to head, argue convincingly of the means to get there and demonstrate a resolve to see it through will likely get a good following.

    Where can I find such a leader?

  18. Posted February 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    John

    Desperate times very often call for desperate measures.

    Well thought out measures, but very significant measures.

    Tinkering with the problem is of no use.

    We have to wake up sooner, rather than later, to the fact that as a Country we are heading for bankruptcy if present policies continue.

    We are no longer in control of many things (EU controls and regulation) we will not be in control of our own finances if the IMF get called in.

    We will not be able to preserve any form of benefits at all, if those in private employment shrink much further.

    We have already been told that income tax does not cover the Benefit cost at the moment.

    We are already some way down the slippery slope.

    There is not much time left.

    Aware of your views, but that does not seem much like Tory Policy to me at the moment, unless you know something we do not !!!!!!!.

  19. Posted February 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Nobody knows what the future holds, but we all know that we are going to be very lucky to retain our AAA status. The worst case scenario could well be a global meltdown with the PIIGS and GB leading the USA into defaulting on the government debts.
    Who is better placed to deal with this? Harriet Harman? Mr Brown? The Miliband brothers? Ed and Yvette Balls? Mr Darling? Mr Benn?
    Or, maybe, one of the many little parties which appear from time to time in my e mails? UKIP, under a new leader? The Lib Dems?(Slippery!)
    I have every intention, myself, of supporting the only party which promises anything realistic about our local comprehensive scandal here in Wisbech. (25% GCSE pass rate: 10% absentee rate).

  20. Posted February 6, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I am finding it increasingly difficult to vote for Cameron – every week he makes some statement which makes many of us wince. In my book and by definition the Conservative Party is right of centre, DC is decidely left of centre. I almost feel that he has hijacked the Party, similar to Blair & Co with the true Labour Party.

    Your argument is sound that only voting Conservative will see off Brown, but maybe another 18 months of Brown, a replacement Conservative leader who offers the policies I believe the majority want(e.g. EU referendum, out of Afghanistan, immigration pause, zero tolerance law and order, repeal human rights laws etc.) gives the country a better future.

  21. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Let's face it, Northern Ireland has shown us that some of the best practical solutions are political compromises. A lot of time, energy and resources are wasted in the fighting.
    There is a large mass of young adults that have grown up with labour's ideas, and banging on about radical solutions is going to frighten them off. I know that only the Conservatives understand wealth creation and that this is all that matters now that the country is broke, but the brainwashed probably don't even know where the money comes from. They will look at the economy in an individualistic and rights driven way, where guilt caused by their selfishness is offset by a OK. for the least well off to be given the most. They will need a huge leap of faith to vote Conservative and it must be made easy for them.
    The country has the same wish for life to get better as it did in 1997 but wants the real thing this time. We are all scared of being conned again. Mr Brown wants us to run to him in fear. David Cameron must make us turn to him in hope and with the will to follow him up that mountain to the clean air.
    I think the 'you-kippers' and Cam-bashers are like kids having a tantrum. They need to grow up and be pragmatic. Only the Conservatives can get rid, and oh how we all long to get rid!

    I would like to see the opposition team looking more friendly and relaxed in public but also letting Labour have it with both barrels! They should all be on show more, have an obvious camaraderie, and flow together naturally, like a river or a good dance. I don't like the spotlight being only on the leader. It loads him with too much stress and makes it all look depressingly like Labour. Let's be true to freedom of ideas, freedom of speech and freedom of information. I want to throw off Labour's chains and shackles and get on up t'hill. Let's start right now.

  22. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    The problem for the Tories is this – since Labour's cupboard of policy, strategy and ideas is as bare as old Mother Hubbard's, it's not impossible they might use and adapt any detailed policy announcements issued by the Tories.
    Whilst I have sympathy with many of the comments on this blog, I've decided to wait till all the parties manifesto's are printed after the General Election is announced before making too many comments about the apparent lack of detail of conservative policies.
    In the meantime, I believe John's position is a sensible one.
    The most pressing priority before the nation is the removal of the Labour Government. They must be voted out. Voting for the Greens, Ukip, BNP , Lib Dem or the monster raving loony party will not achieve that. For these reasons, real Conservatives don't have any alternative but to vote Conservative at the next election.

    The good news (sic) for real conservatives is that given the Himalayan scale of the problems facing any incoming government if that government doesn't adopt something akin to the sensible and pragmatic conservative policies advocated by John and others, the problems will deteriorate forcing another general election within 2 years or so.
    Who knows what might happen then?
    In the meantime, shouldn't we be as supportive and encouraging as we can to real conservatives like John? I for one, am extremely grateful for this blog, which is a small oasis of future possibilities. From tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow.

  23. Posted February 7, 2010 at 3:26 am | Permalink

    The Tory post-Lisbon policy is pure capitulation to the E.U..There should still be a referendum immediately if they gain power,with different wording of course.Their promise of one 5 years later, if necessary ,is a sick joke.

  24. Posted February 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Sadly the conservatives are not Conservatives any more, as I look aroiund me I ask myself, what exactly are they conserving, what do they plan to conserve.
    Are they talking about creating REAL Jobs, cars, ship building, electronics, fishing, farming, nope.

  25. Posted February 11, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Loved this post!

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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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