A Hung Parliament would be dead from the neck up

30-30-30 we were told was the scoring at last night’s political X factor show. The Lib Dems and their sympathisers in the media are working hard to say people want a hung Parliament. We are told that floating voters in the audience expressed approval when Mr Clegg appealed to politicians to work together for the public good.

There are several different reasons why some people want a hung Parliament. The most common, that we would be better governed if politicians brokered compromises instead of arguing it out, is perhaps the most dangerous. In my experience this country’s biggest mistakes in the last 20 years have come from policies backed by more than one political party. There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something. They impose a suffocating blanket on anyone who disagrees and who might be right, as they cannot bear to be shown up as wrong.

Good government needs strong opposition. It is the need to face challenge and to listen to criticism which hones policy and improves administration. Agreement creates laziness and sloppy thinking.

Consider three big errors. The first has been the boom and bust presided over by Labour. They should take the main blame, and it was their policy of changing the regulatory and monetary arrangements which caused it . However, the Lib Dems agreed with Labour’s policy of a so called “independent Bank of England”. Conservatives opposed it at the time, but subsequently stopped challenging it. Lib Dems always liked it. The MPC has regularly failed to hit targets, the government has called the big shots over money printing, the Bank was stripped of its powers to regulate the credit creating banks, yet intelligent people sitll talk about the “success of Labour’s independent Bank”.

The second was the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq to stop weapons of mass destruction-weapons which turned out to be illusory. Conservatives did the “decent thing” They supported the Prime Minister over a matter he said was one of national security on the grounds that the Opposition should co-operate at a time of war, showing national solidarity. They took the PM’s claims and intelligence on trust, instead of opposing.

The third was the Exchange Rate Mechanism. All three main parties pursued this damaging policy which gave us inflation followed by a needless recession. Nick Ridley and I from within the government followed a lonely course trying to stop the folly. We watched in horror as the whole UK political establishment became gripped by this absurd idea that the UK currency could be kept stable agaist the DM, and that this would create a stable economy!

Please spare us more of these establishment disasters. I have had to fight too many battles against the establishment tribal view – it always takes too long, and if you do eventually win it is usually because the damage done by the consensus has been so great.

The second reason some people want a hung Parliament is that they are fed up with the whole system and want to change it. They think change would come from the deadlock a hung Parliament could create. They too might be disappointed. A hung Parliament might simply end up delaying any difficult decisions, thinking they could carry on spending and borrowing too much and pretending there is no deficit problem to be tackled. Ask politicians to compromise and they usually do so at the expense of the electors – compromise will probably mean spending more, regulating more and passing more power to Brussels and quangos, given the views of the Lib Dems.

The third group who say they want a hung Parliament are UKIP. They should grasp that we can only have a hung Parliament if the federalists have yet again won a majority of the seats. Far from getting us out of the EU a hung Parliaernt will ensure we drift even further into it.

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokinbgham RG40 1XU

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

64 Comments

  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    The fourth group who say they want a hung Parliament didn’t understand the question, and have a mental (sic) picture involving MPs, lamp-posts and short lengths of rope.

  2. david b
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I want the Conservatives to win. And with a reasonable double digit majority.

    I just want to plead that you ask the coaches of Dave to nail this junk factoid the incumbent PM seems to get away with constantly making unchallenged. Not taking 6 billions in NI does not remove that 6 billions from the economy. Taxes transfer money from the citizen to the state. Not taking the money leaves it in the private economy. Taking it moves it to the public sector. It is more likely to be used productively in the private sector. The economy does not benefit by the state wasting 6 billion any more or less than by the taxpayers buying lotto tickets with the money.

    The logic of Mr Browns constant assertion ( unchallenged ) is that we may as well give all our money to the government and let them feed us in canteens and clothe us in Mao suits

    Reply: I agree. We also need to point out that £6billion is a rounding error not a winning sum in a £1.4trillion economy, and ask repeatedly why the state owned RBS has taken £700 billion off its balance sheet.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      david b

      Agreed, by not challenging Browns statement about the £6 billion, Cameron is giving the impression that Brown is right. He needs to nail this in the last Debate big time, as Brown will bring it up again.

      Thought it all much livelier last night, and much, much better managed and moderated by Sky.

    • Norman
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I'm glad I wasn't the only one apoplectic with rage when Gordon Brown repeatedly stated that and it went unchallenged. Instead Mr Cameron just bleated on about how 1,100 business leaders supported it. Tell us why they support it, otherwise you're just leaving the door open for Labour to say 'Of course the fat cats want to pay less taxes but we want a fair system for everyone'.

      Sheesh, it's not rocket science.

    • gac
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      And this letting Gordon get away with it has been going on for weeks.

      It is though the Conservatives do not want to win this election!

      Just wait until next week when Dimbleby moderates it – Mr Cameron will really have to be on top form!

      • APL
        Posted April 24, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Gac: "And this letting Gordon get away with it has been going on for weeks."

        Years!

  3. Andrew Withers (LPUK
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I want small and decisive REPRESENTATIVE Government, not the farce of 'landslides' with less than 40% of the popular vote.

    I am 53 and not one local or national administration in 35 years of voting has relected my views.

    The current 'safe seat' system is a travesty, may I suggest that you still do not get it !

    We are sending a message that we want a new constitutional settlement, not more of the same.

    • gac
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Do not worry – with c 75% of our laws made in Brussels and nodded thru in our Parliament very few of us get what we think we are voting for!

  4. APL
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    JR: "A Hung Parliament would be dead from the neck up"

    The instructions of our real government would still be passed into law by Statutory instrument though wouldn't they?

  5. Duyfken
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I find an interesting parallel of what could happen with a hung parliament, is the result of a recent election in small, far-away Tasmania.

    The election took place last month but, because of the preferential voting system, the result did not become clear until over two weeks later, the result being a stalemate.

    The sitting Labo(u)r government suffered a defeat in the total number of votes cast but managed to hang on to 10 seats, matching the same number taken by the Liberal (right-wing) main opponents. However, there was an upsurge of support for a third Party, in this case it is the Greens, which managed an impressive 6 seats. The Labour Premier had promised he and his Party would stand down should it not win the popular vote and expectations were that the Liberals would take power.

    However, the Liberals failed to communicate or deal with the Greens, so the Governor, the Queen’s representative, had to step in to adjudicate. Labour declared it would not give support to the Liberals for “Supply”, the legislation needed to ensure financing the State sector. So, by default, the Governor ordered Labour to continue in government. The Greens and Labour then cosied up to one another with the Greens obtaining some cabinet positions in return for support for the government.

    So that is the result after about a month of machinations; the Greens are cock-a-hoop, Labour smugly relieved, and the Liberals, the winners of the popular vote, in despair. How long the government will last however, is moot, as is the effectiveness of government decision-making.

    If something like this circus were to occur in UK, I wonder how well our economy would handle the hiatus.

    • Ian B
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      All a direct consequence of the absurd idea of choosing a winner by a majority of an electoral college. You can't fix such a system without completely doing away with it. It is fundamentally broken.

      If you want an elected executive, they have to be directly elected.

  6. PHM
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    dave b

    exactly. i watched in amazement last night as Dave let this one roll on past without challenging Gordon Brown on it. if the logic holds true then what exactly was Brown's VAT-rate cut? How much did that 'take out of the economy.' It is a completely fatuous point.

    on the subject of hung parliaments – the case against them is often condescendingly made by presenting Italy or Belgium and such like who routinely have fragile, coalition government. However, if not the USA, with its strong constitution & checks and balances between the 3 branches of government also pretty much a 'hung parliament' most of the time in all but name? The Fouding Fathers designed it that way to prevent a Georgian abuse of power by the executive. As such; the US government actually can do very little – as we have seen with the monumental struggle they have gone through on the Health Care Issue.

    Perhaps if you belive Government should do as little as possible, and proividing it is cheap (which, for us, in London, with local / metropolitan / national and european tiers it most certainly is not), maybe a hung parliament is not such a bad thing.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The TV companies have hijacked the election and dumbed it down with these so-called debates and turning them into a personality contest. The newspapers anxious not to be left out write about the pre-show preparations, the show and the after show polls. Who listening understands what any party really stands for? Perhaps that’s why the polls now show them roughly equal in popularity. There are two weeks left to save our democracy from this affront to its existence.

  8. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    You said: "Good government needs strong opposition. It is the need to face challenge and to listen to criticism which hones policy and improves administration."

    A government with a working majority need take no notice whatsoever of any opposition, regardless of how 'strong' they are. Neither do they listen to criticism.

    Look at governments that have had big majorities over our lifetime – when have they ever listened to anyone?

  9. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Actually, thinking about it a bit more …

    Imagine you were reading about a democratic country elsewhere in the world. They are about to have an election and it looks as though 3 parties are about to get 30% of the vote each.

    Yet, by some strange quirk of their electoral system, 2 of those parties think they will have a majority of seats in their parliament and that they will have a mandate from their electorate.

    Sounds surreal does it not?

  10. JimF
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    With no real dissent amongst the 3 X-Factor parties against an "open doors" immigration policy, no real determination amongst them to curb the debt, no real determination to stop printing money, or raise taxes, the small boy sporting a UKIP sticker in the background is shouting "the Emporers have no clothes".

  11. JimF
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I meant "not to raise taxes" in my post, of course, please edit, ed

  12. a-tracy
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    The fourth reason I hear is that you'll all be so paralysed in disagreement nothing will be agreed and the politicians can do any more damage with their constant new laws and regulations to restrict our freedoms.

  13. backofanenvelope
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    You say:

    "There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something"

    And that is the problem in a nutshell. The electorate can see little difference between the main stream parties because there is little difference. Your supporters on this blog can see that there is a lot of difference between your views and those of Clegg and Brown – and Cameron. But we can't all vote for you can we?

  14. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    DC was by far the most impressive last night, however he has not given us strong opposition he has contrived over the past 4+years to give us three left of centre main political parties.

    Last night was his chance to show judgement, which he worryingly lacks over the EU and how to win an election. He should have dropped a bombshell and said – I have decided that an in/out referendum within 6 months of taking office would be beneficial to the country and close the matter politically and electorally for at least another generation. No hung parliament, no UKIP, no BNP just a seriously working majority would follow.

    Last night was further evidence of how unfair the political system is when the parties that came third and fourth in the recent European Elections would given total preference to the party that finished second.

    Whilst the the three main parties have been forced to speak a little about immigration, not one is brave enough to slay the net migration dragon (words left out)

  15. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    for would please read were

  16. Matt
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    All the hype of the leader’s debates to determine which of them will become our next Prime Minister, and my guess right now is that it will be David Milliband.
    I think I will emigrate.

    An American would never understand it.

  17. English Pensioner
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Not one mention of St George's Day !!!!!

    I expect this of the BBC, but surely a real Englishman shouldn't have overlooked giving it a mention!

    I trust you are not one of those MP's who consider the St George's flag to be racist.

  18. A T
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    A hung parliament might force those on the right to think why it has happened. My explanation, should it occur, is the lack of differentiation between the big 3. OK – John Redwood's position is differentiated, but he is not in the leadership.

  19. John
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    The point is that what our politicians do usually make things worse.
    It is essential we have a hung parliament so our politicians are powerless.
    Good Conservative politics. Let the economy run itself.

  20. Citizen Responsible
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I see that Alex Salmond is also in favour of a hung parliament which he thinks will give his party more leverage in opposing cuts for Scotland. The BBC is also doing their bit by spinning a hung parliament as a “balanced” parliament.

  21. William Grace
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Well it would mean you have to work for your money, you would have to be there for votes, and debates.. Is there a problem with that? Do we really need a majority?

    Lets face it, Labour Hates the Tories, and the Tories hate Labour, you would never work togeather for the better of the country because for both parties it is all about the hate, not the country.

    Clegg, well he takes us into Europe, and that is about the only way to finish the job labour has started. Once in Europe we no longer become a country, we become a state, and watch the people leave the UK then.

  22. Martin
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I recall that Mr Cameron was very keen on the TV debate thing despite being ahead in the opinion polls. Mr Blair when he was ahead in the opinion polls always declined these "X-Factor" things.

    These debates always struck me as a bit of a gamble for those out in front.

    Mind you at least the X-Factor can tally millions of votes faster than the old fashioned way we vote – not sure about the cost – or the integrity of phone voting !

    I'm note sure about Westminster but the Scottish Parliament has managed with two coalitions and now a minority government.

  23. Jonathan
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    A hung parliament will also lead to more backroom deals, in some cases watering down of policies the public likes and in other cases of a complete stitch-up.

  24. Javelin
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I have come to the conclusion that there will be a downgrade by the rating agencies.

    Labour will not get in – if they did there would be a downgrade. QED.

    If there is a hung Parliament Brown will have to go.

    If there was a lib-lab pact then there would be a downgrade

    If there was a Conservative or Lib-Con pact then they would be CRAZY to cut as deep as is necessary and have the Labour Party accuse them of being NASTY at the next election. Then we would be back to where were are now in five years. That would not be good for the country.

    The best political option is to play brinkmanship with the credit agencies – and get the IMF to recommend the level of cuts that are necessary. That way the Conservatives can say that they made cuts deeper than Brown recommended and the credit rating agencies said it was not deep enough.

    However, I don't think the IMF will make recommendations util we lose our AAA status. The IMF cannot simply go around telling AAA rated countries how to run their economy – they will have to wait to be asked. That will only happen after a downgrade.

    We cannot get into a position where Cameron cuts public spending to the necessary level then the Labour party accuse them of being the NASTY party and get back into power in 5 years only to mess things up again.

    This is all about short term politics to get into a better long term economic position.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    In the final economic debate, David Cameron needs to demonstrate that his debt reduction would be sooner and deeper than the alternatives, and the benfits to business. He must show how disasterous Labour policy is, particularly on debt interest – set to rise to more than the Defence and Transport budgets combined. He must also highlight the similarities between Labour and LibDem policies. Clear blue water!

    I worry that the TV debate format gives insufficient time to develop an arguement fully. David Cameron was building up a fine head of steam on Europe and immigration; given another couple of minutes, he could have demolished Clegg. But Sky thought it was more important to include a question about the Pope; the mind boggles.

    To develop our economic arguements fully – yes, including the negative campaigning – requires a full set piece speech from a major Conservative politician, trailed in advance to the press. It would complement David Cameron's effeorts. Too often, the Conservative Party – do its immense detriment – has indulged in the cult of the leader.

    If the worst happens and there is a hung Parliament, there should be a Conservative minority government or a LibDem minority government. Conservatives should not enter a coalition; the price will be too high. A LibDem minority government would be given a life of six months unless it misbehaved, followed by a Con-Lab no confidence motion in December and another election in January 2011. Mind you, we would need to obtain a public commitment from Labour on the no confidence motion because they are perfectly capable of ratting on promises.

  26. Richard
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    The coaches advising Mr Cameron according to the Mail appear to be the very well paid Mr Andy Coulson.

    Mr Coulson is so far off the pace of this election he thinks Mr Cameron did well in the first debate. (not a good start Mr Coulson)

    The Mail go further in saying the tories tore themselves apart in how to respond to Mr Cleggs strong showing in the first debate.

    The second debate last night was only slightly better from Mr Cameron, I still find him weak and not keen to really attack any of the other parties directly.

    Can you imagine Mr Brown attacking the tories if they had presided over the last 13 years!!

    Mr Brown broke all the rules last night and scored points over the tories. Mr Cameron has been advised to appear Prime ministerial – frankly that is why he has not shone in either debate so far.

    No heavy blows landed again!!

    After 13 years of this shower it is like missing an open goal

    Mr Coulson you are wrong and the tories will pay by taking your advice. Mr Cameron was not strong enough, not angry enough to register with the voting public – one more debate to go and the game is up!!

    • Mr C
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      An effective politician shouldn't need 'advice' or over-paid handlers to counter Brown's assertion that by not raising NI the Tories would be 'talking £6bn out of the economy'. Brown's statement was arrant nonsense and betrays Labour's financial incompetence. Cameron should have taken Brown to task on this – an open goal if ever I saw one. However I fear that during this election campaign Cameron has been too on message, too scripted (his overuse of the word 'change' is irritating) and too supine in the face of provocation for his own good. Cameron is clearly a well briefed, intelligent politician and in the past has shown that he is more than capable of besting Brown and Co when performing without a script. We need to see some fire in Cameron's belly on big issues such as immigration, taxes, financial responsibility and the EU. The 20pt lead in the polls has not gone and it's no longer an option to coast to power on the anti Brown vote, yet the CCHQ strategy hasn't really changed . Cameron needs to sideline the deluded handlers and PR men and start getting to grips with serious politics of interest to the man and woman in the street.

      • richard
        Posted April 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I agree Mr C, but am I alone in wondering why Cameron will not challenge clegg on a number of things

        1. 'OLD' parties – why not remind him how 'old' his Liberal party is – it will not wash with me that the Lib Dims are this new shiny party.

        2. 'Ban The Bomb' is not the answer and this phrase should be used, yes it is a sound bite and maybe a bit shallow – but this is X factor politics and the Tories need to get with the programme here.

        3. I think they should work on the Lib Dem split and trust me their is one – Clegg and the Orange book may want to dance with the tories – but a majority of the MP's and Lib Dim voters want none of it. This is a major fault line much stronger than the tories on europe. It should be highlighted, because there will be TROUBLE ahead.

  27. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Beyond a few very eurosceptic constituencies, IMHO the best strategic vote for a UKIPer would be LIBDEM:
    1) Only electoral reform will give UKIP a fair chance to voice its opinion in parliament. (that's why it is represented in the European Parliament but not yet in Westminster, in spite of 17% popular support)
    2) "In Europe but not ruled by Europe" is not enough for UKIP. The Conservative Party is too broad a hcarch to ever give them their wish – the UK out of the EU.
    3) As the debate yesterday illustrated, only Nick Clegg claimed to offer an in-out of the EU referendum. He is probably confident that he would win such a referendum, but that is the risk that UKIP has to be prepared to take.
    Another perspective on the apparently dreaded "hung" parliaments would be: "an end to decades of defacto minority governments" in Britain. (supported by a minority of the population)

  28. James Morrison
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    John,

    The key sentence in your article is "Good government needs strong opposition." Unfortunately, the reason we find ourselves in this situation is that there simply hasn't been strong enough opposition over the last 13 years. You could argue (and, I think, you have) that the size of the government's majority meant they were able to shout down any opposition, but even now, when David Cameron has the floor and all the media coverage he can eat, the public just aren't buying it.

    From what I can gather, listening to friends/family/colleagues etc, people ARE desperate for change, but they don't see anyone out there offering to make the sorts of changes they want, or changes that are big enough.

    For example, time and time again we see the "skirting down the edges", watered-down argument about immigration. All three leaders talk about cutting immigration, and ALWAYS add the caveat "from countries outside the EU". What none of them seem to grasp is that it is just as much, if not more, the immigration from countries WITHIN the EU that is the main problem. Businesses are promoting it because it drives down labour costs, but this also means less jobs available for British people who realise they can earn more "on the welfare" than by getting a job. Why should they go and do a minimum wage job when they can get everything paid for without having to lift a finger!?

    Michael Gove, a Conservative front-bencher, and a man I had high hopes for, told us “At its best, New Labour was a recognition that the values of enterprise and aspiration could be fused with commitment to social justice and fairness. The party that best represents that fusion now is David Cameron’s Conservative Party.” How exactly is that going to appeal to the millions of conservative (small c) voters out there? Or to the millions of people who were suckered by Tony Blair the first time round, and are now looking for an alternative.

    – Parents setting up their own schools? I would love to see how many parents have time to do that!
    – Community Organisers? Truly scary – and straight out of the Gramsci/Alinsky/Obama book of Marxism.
    – £150 marriage tax relief? Great, will be able to use that to pay for the £600 per year of new energy taxes to save the planet from the Climate change myth!

    So what are our options? We're stuck between a rock and a hard place – not just stuck between who to vote for, but whether to bother at all. After all, it doesn't really matter who wins; apart from different wallpaper, the house will still be the same. Crumbling through disrepair, being constantly remortgaged, and sinking in a quicksand of debt, which we will have to work harder and harder to pay for.

    People will look to UKIP and the BNP as a means of registering/recording their frustrations, particularly in respect of Europe and immigration respectively. They won't care about the nitty gritties of what this means in terms of our continuing membership of the EU, and how watered down the rulings they inflict on us are by Westminster, they see it in black and white: Membership continues regardless, as does immigration.

    I still find myself wishing that you could have won one of the leadership battles you contested. I feel very strongly that if you, or one of your likeminded colleagues, had done this, we would be looking forward to a lengthy Conservative tenure, with a considerable majority in May.

    As it is, I know there is no point in looking backwards, so I just find myself looking forward to the death of the social democrat, hopelessly out of touch, Conservative party.

  29. Freeborn John
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    JR: "Far from getting us out of the EU a hung Parliament will ensure we drift even further into it."

    You are thinking too short-term. The best possible outcome of this election is that Cameron fails to win a majority by less than the UKIP vote. The Tories have to learn that they cannot win elections with a disingenuous policy on Europe. A few months (or even a max of 5 years) of a LibLab pact may not be very appetizing, but it is better than 100 more years of Brussels which is what 'not letting matters rest' amounts to in practice.

    • TCD
      Posted April 26, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      This is precisely the situation I fear. It seems to me that Clegg is angling for a coalition with the Conservatives.
      And Cameron will have difficulty resisting that. What concessions will he make? This in my opinion is a real
      possibility as Clegg's and Cameron's views are not that far apart. And Ken Clarke would embrace their
      pro-EU stance. It would put our host in a very awkward position though, having to support a government
      which he disagrees with on many occasions.

  30. Colin Hart
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Can't disagree with the logic but the problem is our system confuses voting for a Parliament with voting for a Government. Separate the two and you might just get government with a clear mandate, challenged and srutinised by a parliament whose members think for themselves.

    • Acorn
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      That's three of us now Colin; keep this up and we could start our own party soon.

      If these debates prove anything, it is that presidential style government might be popular in the UK. It is the nature of our species to follow individuals, rather than collectives. All these X-Factor type shows prove that.

      The volcano crisis was another demonstration. The media has to find the single mother; with five kids in wheel-chairs; sleeping on an airport floor; to personify the crisis.

      Separate the executive and the legislature. Elect them separately even if you just elect a PM and he appoints his own cabinet, say. If a proportional legislature is preferred, the New Zealand system is as good as any. They elect a constituency MP and a Party listed MP, separately on the same ballot sheet. "Two Ticks Too Easy", they call it. See:-
      http://www.elections.org.nz/voting/mmp/two-ticks-

      We would have to have considerably less constituencies than we have now, to make it work. But at least one of my two votes would have an effect in my present constituency.

  31. A T
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Ooops. Special characters messed post up. I'll try again.

    PS “Far from getting us out of the EU a hung Parliament will ensure we drift even further into it”

    I think this is where I part company with John’s logic. ” drift(ing) further into it ” is not the issue. I’ve got a computer – it’s what I’m typing this on 😉 . Google

    EU 'whatever'

    Whatever 'whatever' is, you get back a mass of EU regulations, initiatives, co-ordination etc. We’re in it up to our neck, and are in danger of drowning, already.

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, do you have access to David Cameron? Are you telling him to raise his game, or change his strategy.

    I watched open-mouthed with disbelief last night as Gordon Brown pointed at him and said; "David, you're a risk to the economy."

    And there was NO RESPONSE. Utterly unbelievable! It's one thing trying to campaign positively but to allow Brown to get away with this borders on the insane.

    How about:

    "Me irresponsible! The man who is leading this country into the biggest debt in its history. The man who is leading us into a debt of 1.4 million, million pounds. The man who criticises us for wanting to NOT RAISE TAXES ON JOBs in the amount of 6 thousand million – is putting this country into debt to the tune of 1.4 million, million pounds. Yes, 6 thousand million sounds like small change when you think of a total debt of 1.4 million, million.

    Look at the debt, look at the deficit! And he accuses me of being a risk to the economy! It's completely unbelievable. What if international investors stop buying our debt? What will you do then Mr. Brown? You'll raise interest rates because you'll have to and the economy will sink.

    As chancellor and Prime Minister you have led this country into the biggest economic disaster in our history and people 50 years from now will be questioning why they are still paying higher taxes to repay the debt you took on.

    You have borrowed indiscriminately to try to save your reputation without thought of who is going to pay all this debt back. You're borrowing like there is no tomorrow in the desperate hope that the people of this country will not realise the scale of the mess you've created.

    The economy is AT RISK NOW because of your actions. I am no risk to the economy. The only way out of the mess you have created is with a dynamic new government that creates growth in the private sector – to generate the real wealth we all need to fund our public services.

    You've had 13 years in power and, just like the last Labour government, it's ended up in a debt crisis.

    The biggest risk to our economy is if people don't see through you and buy into the idea that the man who led us into this crisis is the man to lead us out.

    This country, quite literally, cannot afford another 5 minutes of you, let alone another 5 years. In the 90 minutes this program has been on, the people of this country owe an extra half a million pounds – that is the scale of the reckless borrowing you are doing."

    Instead of that, David Cameron stands there and takes it. If he didn't want to fight for power, he shouldn't have stood as leader.

    He's got one more chance – the next debate is on the economy – he has to come out fighting and destroy Gordon Brown.

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      POWERFUL.
      EXCELLENT.
      JUST DO IT DAVE!

    • Citizen Responsible
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

  33. Neil Craig
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    " There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something"

    Precisely. And right now we have a political system that prevents the emergence of new parties & ideas & by disenfranchising people who don't vote Lab/Lib/Con prevents any change when the political establishment do agree on something (eg the EU,) the people oppose. We need a democratic electoral system allowing innovation far more than we need to avoid the £ falling.

  34. Peter Corbett
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I thought David did a lot better last night and actually seemed to win on most if the topics except perhaps the environment. The spectre of a hung parliament scares the hell out of most of us here so why did is take him all week to mobilise Ken Clarke to get the message out to the media? Clegg's arguments are a mess and he was shown up as the junior member of the trio last night but it's time to stop indulging his silly and often contradictory ideas. For example how can the LDs include a policy to recall MPs in his manifesto when their goal of PR remove the link between MPs and consituencies? It's time to "get real" as Gordon said!

  35. gac
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    If £6bn is going to save/kill the economy, kill/start growth then why do we not borrow it?

    After all, what is another £6bn when you already owe £1 trillion+?

    Vince Cable, that well known financial guru of mythology, seems to think that keeping the NI £6bn in the pockets of business and workers is somehow stopping the drip-feed of spend necessary to maintain growth. Oh, he is also forecasting a double dip recession if his 'policies' are not followed.

    So what do I know!

  36. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    So now we have it. GDP grew by 0.2% in 2010 Q1. This follows 0.4% in 2009 Q4, half of which was due to a downward adjustment to GDP in 2009 Q3. Five measures of fiscal and monetary stimulus have been or will be withdrawn during 2010.

    Our population is still rising, so GDP per capita growth is even less than GDP growth.

    Unemployment is still rising, with an 89,000 increase in long term unemployment, a rise in youth unemployment, and an increase in the number of economically inactive people. Productivity fell by 3.1% in 2009, so perhaps there is more of a shake out to come. Only public sector employment has been rising.

    RECOVERY? WHAT RECOVERY? BY WHAT MEASURE?

  37. D Hope
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    It's a relief to hear you saying this. When I watched the debate last night and the subject of coalitions, hung parliaments and collaboration came up, I was dismayed that no one seemed to understand what democracy is! Why do we take it for granted so much in this country. The last thing I want is the political elite/establishment all agreeing (as our supposedly great superiors) about what is good for us. What power does that then give the voter?
    It is true that many people vote for many parties and only one gets it currently and that party most rule for the whole country not its supporters. But this is best done without coalition, because only with criticism can good governance be achieved. The differences are sometimes in the detail, sometimes in the big picture but there should always be pressure to do the best job and reassess all assumptions.
    On care which was discussed last night, I would argue its too big an issue not to debate and discuss differences on, otherwise it will become a botched mess!
    I certainly hope you can encourage more of your fellow Conservatives to emphasise your points here, and not in a sense of the tories picking fights which it might be portrayed as by some but purely as a party that believes in democracy and giving people their say.

  38. Tony
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Nail this one as well. The Libdems want an amnesty for 800,000 (Libdem estimate). Great, assuming these illegals are not working in legitimate jobs, where are we going to find employment for them? Answer, no jobs. Conclusion, another 800,000 claiming benefits.

    • SJB
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Surely most of them must be in some form of employment (e.g. hotels, food processing) otherwise how could they survive?

      • Tony
        Posted April 23, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        My point is they will not be in legitimate work, i.e. paying tax, receiving the minimum wage, paying NI. As a consequence their gang masters will drop them for new illegals. Another point worth pointing out to the Libdems is how can anyone prove they have been here for 10 years?

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Tony

      You forgot to say that if you legalise their status they could then bring their own families over, so treble it. !!!

  39. Yarnesfromhorsham
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    John – not sure what if any influence you have in the upper regions of the party but unless Dave and Co get out there and rebut the lies that are being spread about the Conservation party and its intentions the Tories will be going down. There has to be more hard nose from DC and greater contribution for the seasoned heads within the party.
    DC has to do well tonight against Paxo and take the opportunity to show Brown as a serial liar. This is the best chance he has – on his own – to express and get the reasons for his policies/actions as a future PM.
    Big Society Large Society – we dont want concpets we want to know the action to be taken to sort out the defecit and then the Nation Debt (people seem to forget this) and why the Conservative plan is better than the other parties. Simples.
    So why do I have my doubts.

  40. Steve Cox
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    John, you wrote that:

    "There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something. They impose a suffocating blanket on anyone who disagrees and who might be right, as they cannot bear to be shown up as wrong."

    Much as it's a breath of fresh air to hear that, can you remind me how many MP's voted against the Climate Change Act? I seem to recall that it was one – certainly fewer than 10. And now we are landed with the largest bill ever for any act of Parliament.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/chr

    I'm sure with a little research one could go back and find many examples of cross-party support for a policy that later turned out to be disastrous. The Iraq invasion? Joining the EEC?

    Anybody think of any others?

  41. Demetrius
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Our situation is such that we have neither the time nor the resources to waste in playing political games. It is unlikely that either the markets or our global competitors will allow us any leeway. Nobody will want to see an uncertain and divided British government staggering from one crisis to another. More important they will not want to buy from us or lend money to us and we cannot go on creating money to lend to ourselves.

  42. Steve Tierney
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The problem with UKIP is that, although they'd ferociously deny it, they've gone native.

    They are no longer thinking about how to get Britain out of the EU. They are thinking about how to increase their party's representation in government. The two are not the same thing – though they'd try to justify that they were.

    A handful of UKIP MPs elected via a new PR system would be up against an enormous lefty majority of EU-loving Libs and Labs and LibLabs and LabLabs.

    A hung parliament may well eventually deliver more power to the UKIP party, but it will draw Britain ever further into full integration with the European Superstate.

    What their rationale achieves is a small amount of future party success in exchange for the death of their dream.

  43. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    David Cameron was on the World at One today, and I thought did a good job. But in one respect he was not properly taken to task. He was asked about the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (EU Constitution), to which he replied that the treaty, having been ratified by all member states, the point of the referendum became null and void. The more telling question would have been that he, having foreseen this situation could arise, had undertaken "not to let the matter rest", and what was he now going to do. It seems to me the only honest answer he could have given would have been "nothing".

    As to the significance of a hung parliament, you seem to be of the assumption that a Conservative government will, at the very least, ensure that we will not drift further into the EU. This is naive, excessively optimistic, or a combination of the two. With the Conservative Party Leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary committed to the UK's long term future being in the EU, history teaches us that movement is only one way: the EU becomes ever more a federalist super state and we are taken along with it.

    You write elsewhere today that your web site is not an official Conservative party web site. I, and I suspect many others, appreciate the independence of thought. When you become Conservative Party Leader (I am not implying that is what you are seeking) I am sure the cheers from many parts of the country will be heard all the way to Wokingham. Until then euro realists (scepticism long ago having been replaced by certainty) have only limited, realistic options.

  44. Ian B
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    In my experience this country’s biggest mistakes in the last 20 years have come from policies backed by more than one political party. There is nothing as dangerous as the whole political establishment agreeing about something. They impose a suffocating blanket on anyone who disagrees and who might be right, as they cannot bear to be shown up as wrong.

    And there's your problem John. Neither the odious ideal of "consensus politics" or the rather mythical "oppositional politics" address it. As you say, the problem in any representational system is that the representatives all come from the same "class" and thus, when that class gets some damned silly idea in its collective mind, it gets to impose it on the rest of us regardless of what we think or desire. At least a hung parliament might produce some gridlock and slow down the legislative frenzy slightly, but I wouldn't bet any money on it. I'd bet other peoples' money on it, but then it's easy to be loose with other peoples' money, as we are all aware.

    One of my hobby horses- an ishoo that got me, as a young adult, angry at parliament (an anger which gladly has intensified over the years)- was the infamous Video Recordings Act 1984. Remember that? A moral panic in, of course, the Daily Mail, (W0RDS left out) Mary Whitehouse, the political class deciding that "something must be done" and BLAM, through the Commons it went. Take the time to read the "debate" in Hansard. There is no debate, just supposedly oppositional politicians indulging in a group hug about how moral they all are and raising the moral stakes with each speech, and blathering about how anyone opposed to the act must be depraved. Only Matthew Parris raises a lone voice of heavily moderated dissent, warning against being too draconian, but then blows it entirely by saying the Act is fine.

    And why? Because a few people were sitting in the privacy of their own front rooms watching some silly foreign zombie movies. The result? Britain again led the "free" world in implementing the most draconian censorship laws anywhere in that "free" world. Did the people want that law? Did anyone besides The Daily Mail and Mary Whitehouse and a few fanatics give a flying fig about zombie movies? Of course we didn't. But Parliament didn't care, because it never does care what we think.

    Hung parliament, or "strong government", FPTP or AV or PR, none of it matters until we make some real effort to restore the democratic ideals as, firstly the will of the people (rather than the will of some people) and democracy as a restraint on arbitrary power. Until then, the details just don't matter.

  45. The Great Ignored
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I want to see an end to welfarism. It's out of control and at the root of nearly everything that is broken in Britain: crime, unwanted immigration, dependancy, sloth, rudeness … it is socialism in all but name. It rewards the unacceptable.

    What will bring it to an end (in the absence of any party prepared to take it head on) ?

    Bankruptcy

    What will bring bankruptcy ?

    A coalition … or another Labour Government.

    The Conservatives – as they stand – will just do a reasonable job of perpetuating the problem and we – the ignored – will eventually lose the opportunity to put it right because we are being outbred fast.

    And then there's the issue of EU membership which has been decided for the people without their say.

  46. ManicBeancounter
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,
    You point out the three major examples in the last 25 years where a consensus has failed. But go back further, to the period from 1945 to 1976 and you have an even bigger failure of consensus. The three major parties all agreed on a number of things
    1) In the Keynesian ideas of control of the economic fluctuations through fiscal policy. In a recession, decrease taxes and increase spending.
    2) Tight control of the money in and out of the country. Going abroad, the quantity of cash you could take was restricted.
    3) There were tight controls on the city of London.
    4) All political parties accepted that certain industries should be nationalised. Failing industries were subsidised until a major part of government expenditure was subsidy.

    This consensus collapsed with inflation peaking at over 25% and Denis Healey going on bended knee to the IMF. As Prime Minister Callaghan put it to Labour conference in 1976
    "We used to think you could spend your way out of a recession, and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists……"

    The situation is now different. We may not have the high levels of inflation of the 1970s, nor the government ownership (without managerial control) of much of the economy. But we have a massive deficit and national debt rising to unprecedented peace time levels. In 1976 all the political leaders had long accepted that the UK was the "sick man of Europe". Now we have a consensus that a little amount of belt-tightening will essentially solve the problem (give or take a quarter inch) and a Prime Minister who says its all under control and the nasty deficit is nothing to do with him.

    It is time to diagnose the cause of our current mess. I do not want to wait two or three more years, with increasing debts and increasing unrest, until we send the chancellor on bended knee to the IMF again. I would like for the next leaders to debate on the economy for Nick Clegg or David Cameron to turn on our Prime Minister and declare
    "You created a structural deficit and increased the National Debt during the boom years. As a result, half the National Debt by 2014 will not be due to the deepest recession since WW2, but to a Labour Government. You should acknowledge your mistakes, apologise and then step aside for those willing to tackle the problem".
    It will not happen, as whoever says it will be effectively anointing the other as Prime Minister.

  47. Adam
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    David Cameron was on the World at One today, and I thought did a good job. But in one respect he was not properly taken to task. He was asked about the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (EU Constitution), to which he replied that the treaty, having been ratified by all member states, the point of the referendum became null and void. The more telling question would have been that he, having foreseen this situation could arise, had undertaken "not to let the matter rest", and what was he now going to do. It seems to me the only honest answer he could have given would have been "nothing".

    As to the significance of a hung parliament, you seem to be of the assumption that a Conservative government will, at the very least, ensure that we will not drift further into the EU. This is naive, excessively optimistic, or a combination of the two. With the Conservative Party Leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary committed to the UK's long term future being in the EU, history teaches us that movement is only one way: the EU becomes ever more a federalist super state and we are taken along with it.

    You write elsewhere today that your web site is not an official Conservative party web site. I, and I suspect many others, appreciate the independence of thought. When you become Conservative Party Leader (I am not implying that is what you are seeking) I am sure the cheers from many parts of the country will be heard all the way to Wokingham. Until then euro realists (scepticism long ago having been replaced by certainty) have only limited, realistic options.

  48. Sam
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    The problem with UKIP is that, although they'd ferociously deny it, they've gone native.

    They are no longer thinking about how to get Britain out of the EU. They are thinking about how to increase their party's representation in government. The two are not the same thing – though they'd try to justify that they were.

    A handful of UKIP MPs elected via a new PR system would be up against an enormous lefty majority of EU-loving Libs and Labs and LibLabs and LabLabs.

    A hung parliament may well eventually deliver more power to the UKIP party, but it will draw Britain ever further into full integration with the European Superstate.

    What their rationale achieves is a small amount of future party success in exchange for the death of their dream.

  49. freesoft
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you..really informative!!

  • 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.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page