My response to advice

Some of you have written in wanting me to cut loose from the Coalition and speak out for doctrinal purity. Others have written in urging me to support the Coalition.

I wish the Coalition every success. I have been arguing for months that this country needed to get rid of Mr Brown’s government, and needed a government which would start to control the deficit before the deficit swamps us. That has now occurred.

Contrary to those who fear “sell out” or “treachery” the events of the last few days have not suddenly changed my views on Europe, taxation, the enterprise economy or freedom. Just because the Conservatives are in coalition with the Lib dems I do not become an overnight convert to Lib Demmery, anymore than left of centre Lib Dems will suddenly become a convert to my views.

What both sides have to accept is that the Conservatives, the largest party, do not have the votes to implement their full manifesto, but they are the best placed to lead the task of financial and economic reconstruction which this country needs. The Lib dems can veto some of the things they most dislike. The Lib Dems did not have a good overall result, and they can only hope to get through those things which meet with the approval of many Conservatives. Thus, I have no problem voting for Income Tax cuts by raising thresholds rather than some other tax cut, but I could not vote for a Mansion Tax or for an increase in EU powers or an amnesty for asylum seekers.

Each individual issue of contention will cause argument and may cause rebellions in the Commons. What Eurosceptics have to appreciate – and I have no pleasure in reminding you of this – is that once again we have a Eurofederalist Commons, so rebellious Conservative Eurosceptics are unlikely to win as Labour -certainly under Miliband – will be firmly on the side of more European integration.

It therefore rests with us to influence the Coalition government in the right direction.They have a substantial majority for most of the things the two leadership teams agree. The large Conservative minority is the best buttress of our EU position we have.

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54 Comments

  1. Naomi Muse
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    It would be a great shame if you and other MPs were to withdraw from the coalition.

    Whilst it does not have the ideological purity of a single party government, it does give opportunities for both Tories and Lib Dems to prove their worth to the electorate.

    The opportunities to address issues that simply could not be dealt with properly if the working majority were not there, will make it all worthwhile, as long as the glue in the coalition sticks.

    There is no other way for the truth of the appalling mess that Labour has left in the public finances to come out.

    There is no other scenario where the inequalities of per capita spend between Scotland and England can be addressed because of the profusion of Labour MPs in Scotland.

    Within the coalition there are aspirations for enormous and difficult work to be achieved, for changes to be made, and most of all for the profligacy of Gordon Brown’s Labour to be dealt with properly to a planned end.

    Voters did not give a clear mandate by working majority so working together for the best for us all has to be the only way in this 5 year plan.

    Thank you for not jumping, John.

    • THE ESSEX GIRLS
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Hear hear Naomi!

      We agree with the 69% of Conservative members who are enthusiastic about the coalition but clearly there needs to be the kind of businesslike economic reality that this site has established.

      With the author beyond ministerial responsibility (as far as we've heard) the site will continue to be the bastion of common sense that has attracted regular contributors.

      There's certainly the twin dangers that
      a) coalition ministers will retreat into the familiar establishment comfort zone and
      b) the Lib-dem influence will water down firm action.

      That makes the Redwood site even more important than before and we trust that sensible government ministers will continue to keep a close eye on it and all of us can continue to bang the table and rock the boat in the face of any complacency!

  2. James
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Here Here John – How ironic it is the UKIPers prevented a majority Conservative Govt – best to work from within to change things.

    • Michele
      Posted May 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Just like John Redwood, who has stated that ‘I could not vote for a Mansion Tax’, those who voted for UKIP did so because they took everything into account and didn’t like what they heard from the conservatives. They simply believed the tories didn’t go far enough. You have a free vote and so do others. Isn’t it great just to blame other people! The conservatives didn’t do enough – ok, just stop.

      It’s the same as people saying Gordon didn’t remain in power because people didn’t like him and his lacklusture style. For goodness sake, Cameron and Clegg don’t exactly win the ‘Mr. Charismatic’ prize. The electorate can be a bit fickle but they can look beyond someone’s looks and facial ticks to know whether they are being sold a pup.

      I know plenty of people who voted UKIP because their consciences told them to do so. These same people are now willing to embrace change and get behind what is an exceptional set of circumstances.

      Good Lord, one of the things we hated about the last government was the spin, the twisting of the truth and the sniping.

  3. S Matthews
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood

    It is not only the EU that is problematic. The 'green' energy policy is possibly an even greater problem. Both the Conservatives and Lib-Dems seem hell-bent on building huge numbers of expensive, unreliable windmills. This can only lead to expensive and unreliable electricity supply, with the concomitant effect on our competitiveness.
    How can it be that we are spending fortunes on these white elephants? How can it be that we provide huge subsidies to companies to build them? How can it be that wind power can be subsidised but not other low CO2 mechanisms for power generation (nuclear)? Is this a case for the OFT to examine?
    What can ordinary people do to bring this to light, now that our votes are cast?

    • simon
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      The wind itself may be unreliable but why do you think windmills themselves will be ?

      Nuclear generated electricity was subsidised for years because it was not cost competitive with coal . What is going to happen to Uranium and Plutonium costs in the long term . How are we going to dispose of the radioactive waste ?

      A lot of the "green" proposals amount to shooting yourself in the foot especially when you do them unilaterally . For instance requiring that carbon dioxide from newly built coal powered powerstations be captured and secreted underground . Between 20% and 30% of the energy generated is needed to liquify the CO2 and pump it underground ie you need to burn between 25% and 40% more coal to generate the same amount of energy .

      It's not all pie in the sky though , tidal , wave and wind together can make a real contribution to our energy supply and independence .

      The solution to public finances is to largely demand side -cutting back public spending .
      The ordinary man in the street can make a significant difference by adopting the same attitude to wastage of energy and encouraging others to do so .

  4. Uncle Bob
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I'm glad (but not really surprised) to see the sensible and mature attitude that you and many of your parliamentary colleagues are taking to this. The media at large and the BBC in particular seem determined to push 'Euro-splits' in this political partnership while it's still in it's infancy. Bill Cash has never been on our screens as much as he has in the last few days as he has through the rest of his parliamentary career! I don't think it'll be an issue. There'll be no further integration with the EU in this parliament.

    Ultimately this could be a very effective coalition. We agree on so many civil liberties issues as the Libdems and I (as most other conservatives) wish the £10,000 tax threshold had been our policy to begin with. We will get to implement most of our manifesto, and have only ceded ground on policies which were not beyond the pail to most of us (Not too keen on the CGT increase but that tax threshold rise does have to be paid for!). Fortunately the Libdems have agreed to allow us to make a start on reducing the deficit this year. It won't be much but it'll be a start and has overwhelmingly been supported by the markets and the governor of the Bank of England.

    The test of this coalition will be can we get our economy under control and will our politicians help the public make this country a better place in the next five years. I am very optomistic that the answer is yes on both counts.

  5. no one
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I've read the "coalition negotiations agreements reached" document

    while there is much in there I support I dont think it does democracy a whole lot of good to see the second biggest issue on the doorstep in the election (ie immigration) get only 3 lines in the agreement.

    Given the open desire to see more "social mobility" in the document I would have thought more concrete action could have been taken there

    And I agree with everything you have said in your post John.

  6. Bardirect
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Surely, eurosceptics need a new agenda – why should forced political and monetary union be the primary complaints? Far better to highlight the enormous disparity between the member states with regard to ethics, social mores and concepts of justice.

    Wikipedia notes that most countries have an age of consent ranging from 14 to 17, the exceptions being Vatican State (age 12); Spain (age 13). There should be reform and harmonisation.

    Look at the disgraceful criminal (and civil) justice systems eg Greece, Portugal and Italy, which are still supposed to enforced many laws based on directives but with fundamentally different approaches (and outcomes).

    These examples demonstrate how premature political and monetary union was. But could the integrationists argue against such reforms?

    • Ian B
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      I hardly think trying to enforce a unified personal moral code across the EU is going to be useful at this juncture, particularly as the puritans (striking particularly from the Left at the moment) are on the march, and are chomping at the bit to raise ages for lots of things, from age of consent for sex to age of legality for alcohol. The child protection lobby are trying to get the age up to 18, which is a disastrous denial of human biological reality.

      The last thing we need right now is more EU interefence in the most personal matters. The most obvious lesson of The EU is that it is like a vampire; you must never invite it in, for any reason whatsoever.

    • A. T.
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      "Far better to highlight the enormous disparity between the member states"

      Sounds a bit dumb to me. You know what the response will be. OK, there has to be more cooperation/coordination/commonality/consistency. I.e. more direct centralised control from Brussels.

  7. Ruth
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Hear, hear. Those in both parties who want "doctrinal purity" (good phrase) clearly don't live in the real world. Having worked in business and introduced major changes to structures and working practices, I learned the hard way that you have to be pragmatic about this kind of thing.

    What I found is that you have to compromise on your ideals in order to move towards your goal. Once you have brought people part way there, you tend to find that they naturally want to take the next step which they wouldn't have done if asked to take that step much earlier.

    I think the new government is going in the right direction, and speaking as a floating voter, I am happy with a centrist party, shorn of the extremes of both parties.

    • StevenL
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:09 am | Permalink

      I want the centrist coalition to work too.

  8. Norman
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    The right needs every voice it can get in the Party and thank goodness it has one as articulate as yours. I'm sure you and other like minded MP's will be doing their utmost behind the scenes to steer policy in the right direction and it's far better to be doing it from the government benches than anywhere else (apart from the front benches but we still all hold out hope if things don't go as well as anticipated!).

  9. rose
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I concur in all you say and would add this is the least terrifying of all the possible governments which might have been formed, bearing in mind what lies ahead, and how fickle the electorate is.

  10. Matt
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I think that you’re doing the only sensible thing that you can do.

    The shame is that I think Mr Cameron may have won an overall majority, if the campaign had been run promoting Conservative values.

    Secondly I think that he conceded too much.

    I would have preferred the Conservatives to try go it alone as a minority. Once the honeymoon is over I think this alliance will become unpopular and Labour with Mr Milliband as the sole opposition will open up a lot of cracks. Lib Dem backbenchers will become vocal.

    I suppose after so many years out of power there’s a desperation to get a deal done.

    A lot of Lib Dem voters will switch to Labour.

    Hope I’m wrong

  11. Josh
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. I was very unhappy that Blair received a 66 seat majority on 35% of the vote and fewer votes than Major in 1997. We had around 36% (40% in England however) and the same number of votes as Blair in 2001 (once the Thirsk and Malton notional results are included).

  12. michael read
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Still hoping for a job, then?

    reply: No, and that comment is unworthy.

  13. ManicBeancounter
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    You are quite right here. The coalition of two parties is an extension of a single large party. One compromises to get the things that are most important. At the present that is fixing the deficit, somthing that will require strength and determination. A minority government could not deliver that.
    It is also important to point out the common interests, especially on more open government and scrapping the illiberal ID cards.

  14. Rich
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi John, some interesting points have been made about the Coalition, but I have been wondering about the proposed changes to the Prime Minister's preogative to ask HM to dissolve Parliament.

    I'm a bit tired and stressed from the last week, so it's taken a bit longer than usual to apply myself fully to it, but it would appear that the 55% of votes in the Commons it would take for dissolution is designed to stop either the Conservatives (or Liberals) from "ratting" out on the other and calling an election for political gain before the five years is up; as if the Liberals joined with Labour, they would only command 53% and the Tories only 47% – ensuring only the Tories and Liberals together can voluntarily dissolve Parliament.

    But what happens with confidence votes? At the moment it requires 50% +1 (allowing for the Speaker) to require the PM to resign and an election called if no other Government can be formed. Will there now be an effective 55% threshold even if a vote of no confidence is passed?

    • Jeremy
      Posted May 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      So far as I can see, most of what has been said on radio and TV on the 55% subject, particularly by those who should know better (incl. Tory MPs), has been wide of the mark, and this has led to unnecessary alarm among the public.

      MPs never had the power to dissolve Parliament (that is for the Queen, having heard the advice of the PM), but they could force the PM to offer his/her resignation to the Queen by a 50% + 1 vote in a motion of confidence.

      What has confused people is that losing such a motion has typically (but not inevitably) been followed by the PM asking the Queen for a dissolution, and her agreeing to it when no other PM was able (or wanted) to replace the outgoing PM. Think Mrs Thatcher, who obviously did not want to take over the existing House from Jim Callaghan in 1979 just a few months before an election had to be called anyway, when she could win an election instead and get her own majority. If she had replaced Jim C without an election, she only had a minority, the same as he did, so the situation would have remained unstable.

      As it is, IF we are to move to fixed-term Parliaments, as proposed now by all three main parties (it was in Labour's manifesto, I understand), then the Parliament should last the 4 or 5 years that is laid down. That does not mean the government does too, if it loses a confidence motion, because the Queen can appoint a new PM just as now.

      The 55% idea has been proposed as a safety valve, and nothing more than that, so if the government loses a confidence motion (by 50% + 1 vote), and Parliament (also) expresses itself as wanting a dissolution by a 55% vote, then it can go to the country before the end of the fixed term.

      Equally, if the PM wants to have a dissolution without having first lost a confidence motion then he could still ask for one under this proposal, but ONLY if 55% of the house supports it (and presumably he would have to have a good reason for undermining the fixed-term principle, if he was not to be 'punished' by the electorate at the ensuing election).

      Mr Cameron has been very patient in putting up with a barrage of incorrect and ill-judged comment over his motives for the 55% proposal, but he put the point well in the HoC the other day: this (55% issue) is not about MPs being unable to get rid of the PM, but about the PM being unable to get rid of the MPs!

  15. john east
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    John, your reaction is exactly what I would expect, magnanimous and lets wait and see if there are problems before criticising the coalition. The venal left have been attacking Clegg and Cameron from the very minute the union was announced. Right wingers jumping on this bandwagon should be ashamed of themselves.

  16. Simon Denis
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Hear, hear Mr Redwood. If only the angry, impractical and self defeating elements on the right had thought for a moment and supported Mr Cameron instead of a busted flush like UKIP, there might have been a Eurosceptic majority. It seems to me that the British right risks falling into the kind of resentment which finished off the French monarchy and countless other institutions. It goes like this: infuriated by the leadership's least concession to the centre or to public opinion, the purists withdraw their support from mainstream conservatism. That conservatism is thereby obliged – note that, obliged – to turn to its nearest political neighbours to the left in order to combat the out and out socialists. This is then held up by the angry nostalgic brigade as further evidence of "sell out" and the split is institutionalised. The "legitimists" retire to provincial dug-outs, cultivating a body of increasingly eccentric and out of touch opinion, whilst the "orleanists" are forced to become "republicans". The pity of it is that the Orleans party can see the virtue of so much which the Legitimist wing would advocate; but they lose everything from a stiff necked refusal to recognise the irregular, bumpy, winding path which things must take in our fallen world. For all his intelligence and culture, Chateaubriand was not so good a servant to France as the supple, accomodating, persistent Talleyrand. Let England's conservatives take note.

  17. Mark
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Europe will be coming to a head as an issue across Europe as a whole. Germans aren't prepared to bail out Greeks and Spaniards, who aren't prepared to knuckle down to the spending cuts they need to make. One is reminded of the foment ahead of the French Revolution, or even darker times 80 years ago. This isn't going to be about working time regulations and CAP budgets. Precisely what Jean Monnet thought he was avoiding he has engineered.

    There probably isn't time enough left to modify the outcome towards a prosperous free trade area – but that is what we must try for.

    Meanwhile, there is much to do at home: ensuring the new coalition doesn't adopt anti-democratic measures that undermine its legitimacy such as the 55% rule; preventing CGT from becoming a mugging of old grannies trying to fend for themselves with their savings; exposing the truth about the damage Labour has wrought on the economy; finding a way to defuse the housing bubble without bringing down the banking system; tackling spending in ways that don't cause everything to fall apart at the seams; providing a climate for business to grow competitive again; not shooting ourselves in the foot with green projects that have negative present value, kill industry and impoverish consumers; restoring standards in education; extracting ourselves from unaffordable foreign adventures whether military or aid; protecting ourselves from terrorism; restoring civil liberties to ordinary citizens, and so on.

  18. grahams
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, I am sure that you are disappointed not to be inside the Treasury. Rest assured that many others, who do not necessarily share all your views, are also disappointed. When a Conservative majority seemed likely, one hoped you would be Chief Secretary. After the alliance, one hoped you would be FST, since none is so well qualified. This Government has many qualities but, sadly for us electors and taxpayers, it is evidently not a government of all the talents. One hopes that the Cabinet proves determined and competent but it is plainly not the best available. At least your blog may continue.

  19. Brigham
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Of course the economy is of paramount importance, but one of the vital issues is the voting system. You have the opportunity to devise a system that would prevent the Labour party ever gaining a foothold in parliament. There is a precedent for this. The boundary changes the last government put in place was a blatant bit of "fiddling". One other way would be to give Scotland their independence. This would ensure the Tories a majority, unless they did something really stupid. Something must be done to stop this bunch of incompetents ever again becoming a power.

  20. Mark J
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    The most important thing to remember is that the corrupt, dishonest and anti-British Labour dictatorship (with equally odious leader) are out of power.

    This will now allow the Conservative and Lib Dems to reverse much of the damage done to the UK and the economy. Crys of "Labour were wonderful" by some vistors to this blog do not wash if those individuals were to take off their red tinted glasses for a while they would see the mess that Labour has left us in. Eeonomic dire straights – each and every one of us will have to foot the bill for this incompetence! Forced controllership by the EU that no one wants, nor were asked an opinion or allowed a say regarding this. A immigration nightmare placing undue pressure on national and local public services; last but not least a forgotten generation of unemployed youngsters, who thanks to Labour can look forward to their next benefit payment rather than a working wage.

    Labour…….

    Goodbye and good riddance!

  21. FabianSolutions
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood

    I'm sick of hearing rich Tories like you bleat about the national deficit and framing it as an excuse for attacking the working class.

    What about the massive personal debts working people will incur as a result of job and pay cuts?

    The fact is the economic system relies on workers staying in debt so it can squeeze more cash out of them after exploiting them.

    The Tories are still in thrall to the completely discredited doctrines of the reactionary Friedman, who was complicit in Suharto and Pinochet's bloody coups and military dictatorships, and whose ideas were adopted by Thatcher in her ruthless smashing of working-class communities.

    You clearly haven't read Klein, Greg Palast (who studied under Friedman) and Joseph E Stiglitz who effectively debunk monetarism and neoliberalism.

    If we need to raise money let's start by jailing the parasitic bankers, seizing their assets and redistributing them to the people who actually do proper work – the miners, the factory workers, the train drivers and mechanics, nurses and labourers.

    Reply: I came from the working class, and have always wished to follow policies which enable and encourage upward mobility and higher living standards for all. Your ugly class rhetoric is very out of date, and your economic views rejected by many in the Labour party as well as in the Coalition.

    • Eotvos
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Well here we have FabianSolutions who has been very active posting hatemail on various DT blogs during the election campaign.

      The Fabians detested the working class….(Severe allegation about their approach to the working class removed as no evidence is offered for it-ed)

      • Eotvos
        Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, it should be G B Shaw as is in George Bernard.

  22. Douglas McLellan
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    As a Lib Dem and a Scotsman I find it very weird that I am agreeing with you on this issue Mr Redwood.

    We can all of hoped for different results in the election that would have granted more or less power to any of the parties but we are where we are. The approach taken by David Cameron has been surprising, yet bold and very thought provoking. I am happy with this government, not becuase it contains Lib Dems, but the partnership agreement shows a political outlook that is very close to my own – that there should be equality of opportunity for all but not state forced equality of outcome.

    I dont believe that Europe will be a 'make or break issue' as although most Lib Dems are pro-European, it makes no sense to enter the Euro now so it will not be an issue that will arise. Further changes in the relationship with Europe will need to go to a referendum which is clear example of people expressing their desires and any Lib Dem who argues against the will of the people needs to seriously examine their political outlook.

    As Marks comment at 8.50pm highlighted there are a number of other issues where genuine partnership working can achieve real results.

    My only worry is that those who oppose the deal before it even starts working will aim to undermine it at every opportunity. Fraser Nelson I fear will be one of those leading that charge from the right and you can already see a number of Guardian writers opposing it from the left.

  23. Simon
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I agree completely, this is not a Conservative Government this is a coalition. The dire state of our finances means that a stable platform to undertake the necessary action was needed. It is a pity more right minded Labour MP's haven't reasoned the same and offered constructive opposition to deal with the challenges ahead. i.e acceptance the Greek bond crisis mean't not starting to deal with the deficit this year was no longer possible.

    For the Conservative Party to undertake the necessary austerity measures alone risks the potential for the party to be thrown into opposition for a long time. A combination with the Liberals should outflank the tribal Labourites who simply believe chucking money at something means it gets better. Once the economy is undercontrol the arguement for tax cuts grows. The Media already is confused of what approach to take they could be more supportive or at least less cynical.

    Another welcome benefit of course is that as long as the party is able to stem any further loss of support to UKIP the coalition has helped all MP's at risk of Labour/Lib Dem tactical voting

  24. david kendrick
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Coalition govts lead to more referenda. We've been promised one on PR. That one feels unwinnable—AV is not particularly popular with PR enthusiasts, and there can't be a majority for it amoung the normal 90% of the population.

    And aren't we more likely to have an in/out referendum on the EU with a coalition? BOO would win that for sure, even against all the main parties campaigning to stay in the EU.

    Maybe the UKIP voters aren't quite so dim.

    Reply: No, I see no enthusiaism for an In Out referendum from the government.

  25. Citizen Responsible
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    An ideal result would have been a Conservative majority, but we are where we are. On Sunday, when it started to look like we could end up with a Lab/LibDem /Nationalist coalition, I thought we were all doomed. I find JR’s mature, realistic and magnanimous attitude to the new government encouraging and welcome.

  26. thud
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    A commendably realistic appraisal of the current state of play. I can only hope your views are in the majority as we need to work with what we have.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      thud

      Agreed, and let us hope that JR still has a route to the ear of D Cameron and G Osbourne with his suggestions, advice, and policy ideas from time-time, as he did in the past.

      Just out of interest, do you have such a route John, or is time to early to yet know.

  27. Robert George
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    I am one of those who on economic and EU issues is very much of the Euro-sceptic right. I am also one of those, many I think, who voted for Cameron primarily to get rid of Brown and in my constituency (Stroud) we did get rid of Labour.

    It is correct up to a point to tell people like me that we have to put up with what the coalition brings because the numbers dictate it. However, I remain concerned because I am convinced that the core of the active party in the constituencies thinks similarly to me (and you for that matter).

    Cameron seems to think he can take this element of the party for granted and I am particularly dismayed at some of the lightweights on the front bench whilst Redwood, Davies and so on were not considered.

    Cameron does not impress me, I do not like his fuzzy policy stances or the way he has isolated elements of his own party and embraced the Lib Dems, however, I think he should be given an extended chance to prove people like me wrong. In practice this means above all a vigorous approach to debt reduction and government waste. If he fails that test no matter what else he fails entirely.

    But how long do we give him? My view is that two years should suffice to set things moving in the correct (right!) direction.

    A final plea. Please someone, do something to rid Parliament of the oleaginous excrescence in the Speakers chair! A renewed respect for the institution of Parliament is essential and cannot be achieved without Bercows removal.

  28. Ted Foan
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    The one thing from you that I always expect when I read your blog is your balanced analysis of any given situation. Once again you display the erudition to see the bigger picture.

    This coalition will need your wisdom over the next few years. I look forward to following your responses to events.

  29. Socrato
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Work it from the inside, as you wisely say – i think that the biggest gainer might be democracy as the level of debate required will certainly be much higher under this administration than under the dictators that have just been removed.

    One slightly worrying thing I have been reading and commenting on in the Telegraph, is the forthcoming commission to decide whether to split up the banks. Surely given that we wish to maintain and solidify our credit rating, shouldn't we be selling off these banks (to which we still have potentially very large liabilities).

    Bringing uncertainty into their operating environments is not the best thing to do if one wants to divest in these banks was an argument put forward by an analyst in the piece. So what should the priority be – disposal or regulation. I would think that the most pressing need is to take action on debt and deficit. Surely the best way of convincing credit agencies is to remove the liabilities? That would be an instant winner one would have though. The operating environment of the banks should seem to be a secondary consideration. One thing we need to be really clear about is coherent policy and actions. Unfortunately, we know the result of incoherent policy measures and goals, you told us about the incoherence of tightening capital requirements and expecting banks to lend more. We should not want to make similar mistakes. I too, like many, cannot believe they have not given you a front bench position. It is a big loss to our nation. Lets hope they rectify this soon.

  30. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    If anything brings this coalition down in ruins, it will be Europe. The Lisbon "Treaty" is just plain unacceptable. I am given to understand that there is rather more Euroscepticism among the LibDem's west country grass roots than there is in their ruling elite. Try, for example, talking to Cornish fisherman. There is nothing in the coalition agreement that prevents Conservatives talking to LibDem activists.

  31. Steve Tierney
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    You're right. It's time to make the best of the coalition. I'm quite enthusiastic with its announcements thus far – Conservative principles, tax cuts, Localism and a return of civil liberties. What's not to like?

  32. John Hatch
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    As a former economist, I would hang on to six economic principles:
    1. The Law of Supply and Demand is sound; although the disequilibrium dynamics implicit in an adjustment process still require further study.
    2. The Quantity Theory of Money prevails in the long term; but the general price level may mask differences between asset and consumer prices. (The Bank of England MPC was given an incoherent brief). We still await the consequences of printing vast sums of money. Can the excess be withdrawn from circulation before hyper-inflation ensues?
    3. The Theory of Comparative Advantage is sound. People benefit from free trade. (It helps if you also control the means of distribution/transport – both commercially and, as required, with naval, military and/or air force back-up.)
    4. Flexible exchange rates are a good way of effectively reducing domestic wages and prices, to restore international competitiveness, without having people rioting in the streets and spilling blood because money has been deducted from their pay packets.
    5. Economic growth normally depends on sucking in people from a pool of those unemployed/under-employed or who are immigrants.
    6. Government expenditure; patronage; and requirements all have huge effects on the private sector; some beneficial, many bad.

    I trust John Redwood's judgment in all such matters; but I would also appeal to him as a distinguished Tudor historian. What about the Protestant ethic of work, family and self-confidence, perhaps the greatest legacy of the Tudor monarchs, which underpinned our industrial revolution and empire?

    The marxoid, liberal elite have been set upon destroying this ethic for some 40 years; and they are now very close to succeeding. Our public services are infected from top to bottom with the cancer of aggressive 'equality and diversity'; intended to undermine and destroy the traditional English values which often prized common sense and moderation.

    Nihilist, marxoid attitudes of welfarism and egotism are undermining our economic performance. The Coalition leaders should take note of that.

    But such attitudes are also undermining the whole point of our society/nation. What's it all about, Alfie?

    In my view this requires some urgent attention; and I regard it as an English matter. The Scottish MPs should be excluded from the discussion; never mind the votes.

    The other urgent question is whether traditional Conservatives who do not trust Mr. Cameron (okay, beyond the immediate economic stabilisation measures that are required) can organise better under an Alternative Vote (AV) system.

    If the crucial political divisions are now on the right, it is we, not the left, who will benefit from AV.

    I repeat an earlier comment that I cannot conceive how anyone fortunate enough to live in Wokingham did not vote for Mr. Redwood to represent them as their MP. (A view, I am glad to say, that was shared by the majority of Wokingham's voters.)

  33. Paddy Briggs
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Pragmatic post Mr Redwood. But I have not the slightest doubt that at the appropriate moment you and the rest of the Tory right will cut and run. What the LibDems stand for at their core is anathema to you and you know it.

  34. savonarola
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    We all have our own tipping points.

    Mine. Lower CGT threshold and increase the 18% to 40% or more. Introduce this and my card is returned and the debit order cancelled.

    I just could not accept another burden for being prudent.

  35. Winston's Black
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    We have a Lib Dem Government albeit with some wearing blue rosettes.

    Federalists like Clarke are gorging at the top table.

    Name me one "proper" Eurosceptic anywhere near the Cabinet.

    Where are the Carswells, Hollobones, Shepherds or Davies (as opposed to Davis)? Where are you Mr Redwood with your experience of Cabinet work?

    Cameron would have appointed similar personnel if he had gained an overall majority. The man is a Lib Dem with a blue rosette.

    I voted UKIP in the hope that a "proper" Conservative Party would emerge which would get our country back from the tentacles of the EU once Kenneth Clarke's protoge Cameron got the heave-ho for failing to destroy one of the most unpopular governments ever.

    My conscience is clear. Brown, Clegg and Cameron are peas grom the same pod.

    • Paddy Briggs
      Posted May 16, 2010 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Your vote for UKIP has achieved exactly the opposite of what you hoped for !

      • Winston's Black
        Posted May 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Voting Consevative (in my constituency) would have achieved exactly the same thing!

        My pro EU Conservative MP stood for Labour in the 2005 General Election!

        Cameron parachuted pro EU placepersons whom were sufficiently, female, non-white, homosexual, disabled, anti-motorist etc, etc riding roughshod over the wishes of local Conservative Associations.

        Why would one vote Conservative given such a dictatorial attitude?

        Cameron wilfully set out to become Prime Minister of a pro EU Lib Dem type Government. He has succeeded.

        My hope was that "proper" Conservatives would ditch Cameron given the failure to attain an overall majority against such an unpopular totalitarian government as that presided over by first Blair and then Brown.

        The blue rosetted snouts appear too attached to the trappings of power though to consider principles and ideology.

        • Paddy Briggs
          Posted May 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Very interesting post. I suspect that you are in a minority amongst Conservative voters, but not an insignificant minority. But for the Tories to get only 36% of the vote in a General Election when the governing Party had been in power for 13 years, when the economy had melted down and when the Prime Minister was widely derided was a piss poor perfomance. Labour and the LibDems by contrast did surprisingly well all things considered (not least the rabid right-wing press). The fact is that there is a stong anti "old style" Conservative majority in the country – and that this will not change. If the Tories want power they will have permanently to embrace Cameron's new liberal pragmatism. And I'm afraid that you, UKIP and the rest will just have to settle for being a protest movement thrwoing brickbats from the sidelines!

  36. Dr Bernard Juby
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Fine, but why not be really daring and invite Frank Field to help sort out Welfare & Social Security????? Now that would be innovative.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 15, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Think your idea is a good one, Frank Field has been true to his beliefs for many, many years, and not afraid to speak his mind.

      Would show some real commonsense to at least listen to his views on Welfare reform, to see if there was any common ground with current thoughts.

      Shame that FF was sidelined by his own Party for years, like a number of Tory Mps.

  37. Coalitionista
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I concur. People forget the all political parties are themselves a coalition of different factions. The only sticking point is when do you start briefing against the Lib Dems and vice versa in preparation for the next election.

    Unless the economy does really well and we win the 2014 world cup. I predict a mauling at the 2015 election.

  38. Martin
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    The UK needs a stable government. The world is in a great stage of flux at present.

    I am no fan of devaluation. Some of us remember Mr Wilson's Pound in your pocket..

  39. Gabriel
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Before the election the primary argument produced by Tory stooges for why those us with right-wing views should vote for a left-wing party named Conservative rather than a conservative party named UKIP was that Cameron and his gang of (words left out) liberal dilletantes needed to make concessions to the centre ground in order to win, after which they could take off the mask and implement conservative policies. Well, in the event, Cameroonism proved to be an electoral disaster, which against a wildy unpopular government with a good claim to have been the most incompetent in the era of mass suffrage led by, quite literally, a madman who couldn't resist personally insulting his core supporters, managed to, err, almost win. Subsequently, Cameron and his gang have, to put it mildly, failed to shift to the right.

    The second most prominenta and more recent argument was that we just simply had to vote Tory because otherwise there would be a coalition government including the Lib Dems who would set about their task of rendering Britain a multicultural province of the E.U. Some commentators even ludicrously claimed that this was a such a dire possibility that UKIP should pull out of the election. And now you lot don't even pause for breath before telling us how reasonable the Lib Dems really are. Shameless. Again, why should conservatives support a man who refused to do an electoral deal with UKIP (but still deceitfully claims they cost him the election), which would have involved nothing more honerous than keeping his 'cast iron' pledge, but will form a government with the Lib Dems, a party committed to the abolition of Great Britain? Why should we trust a party that falls in so meekly behind him?

    But let's keep looking at our new cabinet. IDS is a good man and Liam Fox is alright, but apart from that: wall to wall rubbish. Chris Grayling is out for the heinous sin of suggesting that possibly renting a room to guests and cooking them breakfast doesn't void one's rights to private property and free assocation. As a result we have achieved the great feat of replacing Harriet Harman with a slightly stupider version of Harriet Harman. William 'we need to negotiate with Hamas for some unspecified reason' Hague takes over at the Foreign Office, and George 'electoral liability' Osbourne gets to safeguard the nation's finances, which is quite a step up from sucking his thumb. Worst of all there is Chris Huhne, enthusiastically backed by the leadership of both parties repsonsible for making sure we don't spend the next decade shivering in the dark and commited to ensuring that we do precisely that. The environmental policies of this government are straight out of what Lenin would call the 'Infantile Left' playbook, firnly putting the kybosh on whatever chimerical plans you have for growing us out of our debt hole.

    Nope, don't like it and I will be writing to every tory MP that I have even the most tenuous connection with over the next few months specifying my desire to see them work unceasingly to bring down this rotten government.

    Soon enough Cameron will purge your saving remnant and any future you will have in politics will have to be in a new right wing party, most likely formed around what is now UKIP. If you don't raise your head soon, you won't be welcome there either.

    Reply: A little charm can be more persuasive than threats.

  40. Gabriel
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    You're right, that was excessively fraught all round. However, it's not really a threat, after all I'm in no position to theaten anyone with anything, rather an observation. You must have read the reports on Steve Hilton's interventions into the coalition negotiations, you must have noticed Portillo's remarks about jettisoning the Tory right, you must have stopped to ask yourself why one of the very few people in this parliament who has ever successfully cut a ministerial budget (you) has been left out of a supposed austerity government. You must at least partly suspect that IDS will be out pretty soon and that the purge of conservatives is not merely in the woodwork, but well under way. Accordingly, you must suspect that a meaningful future for you in British politics is as likely to come outside of the Conservative party as within it.

    If you ran under either a UKIP or Independent Conservative ticket in the next election, you would almost certainly keep your seat. You would not be any more of a marginal figure than right now and possibly less so. You could still vote with the government on all the budgetary measures you wanted, of course, and support it in a no confidence vote should you wish. So really, why on earth not? And, if now is not the time to get started, then when?

  • 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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