Sunday Express article

Strange as it may seem, it’s a good time to have conservative values. After twelve years of grim socialism, we have had our fill of enforced living beyond our means. We are fed up with so much of our money being showered on nationalising banks and railways, on hiring a huge army of officials and expensive quango chiefs. We are tired of being subjected to the politically correct thought police. We don’t want a regulator making obstacles for every simple event we used to enjoy. Motorists don’t feel they are the cause of all the world’s ills, savers think it’s time they were rewarded rather than penalised, and people who pay their bills on time and look after their own families feel they should be offered a better deal.

The Conservative party is right to say “We cannot go on like this”. It is time for change. The change we want is change to a world where the doers, the savers, the strivers are treated fairly. We want to live in a state which respects other people’s freedoms and stops taking so much of our money.

There can be no change for the better without sorting out the dreadful national finances. This government carries on spending and borrowing, telling us that will get us out of the hole they have placed us in. It won’t. They are just digging us deeper into the mire of debt.

They say the government will borrow, the state will provide. Who is the state? All of us are the involuntary backers of the state and the paymasters of the government. The government’s debt is our debt. The more they borrow the more we have to pay interest. The more we will one day have to pay back.

The government says a state budget is different from a family budget. It may be in scale, but the principles are the same. If you’ve reached your credit limit you know you have to put off more spending until you’ve got the debt under control. If you are going bust you have to cut spending before it’s too late.

So it is for a state. Iceland,. Ireland and the Baltic states have already found out the hard way that sometime the bank manager – for them the world markets – say enough is enough. They have to cut spending. This week it’s been the turn of Greece.

The UK has overspent. As a nation we’ve built up huge debts, imported what we need from China, and put off settling the bills. We need to make more of our goods, grow more of our food, live more within our means. The public sector needs to deliver more for less. We are close to that worrying hour when the world’s money men tell us the game is up.

Gordon Brown says the cash they are borrowing will help lift us out of the recession. We need to remind him that he has already borrowed and printed record amounts, and yet we are still deep in recession. Over the last five years the government has doubled the national debt and almost doubled the money supply, yet they have achieved no growth at all. The stimulus has not worked.

When we got out of previous recessions we always did so with the help of spending cuts. The IMF forced that on labour in1976. A Conservative government did it in 1981 to sort out Labour’s mess, ushering in a good long period of growth and prosperity. You need to do that to keep lending rates down, and to find the money for the private sector to create the jobs we need.

It is not just sound money and sensible financial management we need now, to stave off a worse financial crisis. It is also some commonsense in everything else. If you want less of something you tax it. If you want more of something you subsidise it. This government is busy raising the taxes on enterprise and hard work, with their National Insurance and Income tax increases. They are busily subsidising banks and bankers pay, spending a fortune on unemployment, on quangos and on self promotion. If spin doctors and adverts could put a country right, we would be the most successful country in the world by now.

There are many good people in Britain who want their democracy back. They want a strong Parliament that can curb government’s appetite to spend too much and legislate too much. They want to be proud of their country knowing the main decisions are taken here in a democratic way, not in Brussels. They want to be left to make more of their own decisions, free from needless regulation and inspection. They want to feel they can pass on their savings to the next generation when the time comes. They do not want their children and grandchildren left in huge national debt.

I know that’s how I feel. I want a government which will reflect these conservative values. Hard work should be rewarded. Most people should be left free to look after themselves and their families as they see fit. The UK needs to be a country open to enterprise and willing to work harder to earn the standard of living it wants but currently cannot afford. Our government should control our borders, keep us safe, cut the spending and the debt, and allow savers and job creators to keep good rewards for their efforts.

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6 Comments

  1. Jonathan
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi John, it's unfortunately not just Labour that seem to want to carry on spending. The Tory leadership appear to have gone from brave, on the economy, to timid; which is a huge shame. Saying that I would always trust Conservatives more on the economy than Labour.

  2. Derek Monnery
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    John

    Are seriously saying that you would have preferred the government to let several banks go the wall, and have thousands of innocent savers find they are bankrupt? It is of course not good to have to part nationalise banks, but the alternative really is not credible. I have compared notes with many of my friends, and we all feel that while the government is old and tired, the opposition has not got its feet on the ground.

    When the spotlight comes onto Tory policies they appear to be not as viable an alternative as many would have hoped they would be. Don't be surprised if in May, the voters say better the devil you know……

    Reply: I set out my way to rescue the deposits without nationalising the banks – it would have been cheaper and much less risky for taxpayers. See back issues at the time on this site.

  3. Frugal Dougal
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Well said – we the people have had enough!

  4. Steve Tierney
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    An excellent speech. I'd vote for you.

  5. Kevin Peat
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    We all know what a landslide manifesto would look like – it would be packed with common sense.

    We won't get it. And judging by what you've left out of this article (social issues crucial to economics) not even you – the most conservative of Tories – are offering us it.

  6. self storage
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Took me ages to find this post, this time I'll bookmark it.

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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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