The tyranny of ideas

 

                Amidst all the discussion of British values yesterday, and during the maybe democratic revolutions in  the Middle East, we should ask ourselves about the underlying theories and values of the UK establishment.

               Sometimes those who argue strongly for toleration and civil liberties are the ones who are harshest in seeking to censor or silence people of differing views. In the UK over the last couple of decades there have been several Establishment assumptions which you question at your peril. A  successful and open democracy is one where there should be healthy scepticism about the assumptions and theories behind public policy.

                 In the late 1980s the political and business establishment all believed that the Exchange Rate Mechanism was the right way to run our economy. It was disastrous. Those few of us who kept up the argument against were pilloried as beyond polite society and commonsense. The ERM ers  dared to say they were creating a “golden scenario” when they plunged us into boom and bust.

              In the last 13 years the Establishment has told us that an independent Bank of England would  give us low inflation and economic stability. Instead, that too has given us boom and bust on an even bigger scale, and now has delivered high inflation by western standards as well. Still many hold to the conventional wisdom, and few see that you cannot have a truly independent Central Bank in a democracy. As has happened at least twice recently, the elected officials will override when needs must. ( Ministers effectively set lower interest rates in the slump, and changed the inflation target)

              The Establishment believes in global warming theory. Anyone who dares ask questions or seeks to test the underpinnings of this theory is treated to intellectual abuse. The growing dislike of some of the policy consequences and the unwillingness of the Establishment to argue its case for the theory backed up by data creates tension between governed and governors.

           Eurosceptics have grown used to being treated badly by large sections of the UK establishment, which has for a long time wished to blend the UK into the EU against the instincts of many voters. The British media, as opposed to the press, has been reluctant to provide a reasoned and sustained critique of EU government in the way it allows for UK government, shielding the EU from proper criticism and analysis of its waste and error.

            These and other commanding ideas need to be properly  exposed to challenge and criticism for us to have a vibrant democracy.

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61 Comments

  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    In the British press articles and columns I also observe tyranny the other way around, especially in the reactions. It is as though people are so frustrated and angry that they have projected it on some eternal external “evil empire”.
    I do wonder whether a reasonable public debate on the EU would ever be possible in the UK.

  2. Simon
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure you can really equate dodgy political and economic ‘theories’ with actual science. The former are predominantly contests of ideas, the later a discussion of evidence. Having studied all three, I know which I have more trust in.

  3. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Do I sense your head appearing over the parapet? Are you ready to declare AGW the nonsense that it is, the Trojan horse for green socialism and rationing and control of the populace?

    I suspect the smarter honourable members know this is the case…

  4. lifelogic
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    A good rule of thumb is that if both main parties (and usually the BBC) agree on something it is usually a bad idea. I give a few examples.

    Blair’s wars
    “sustainable” energy
    ERM
    EU
    Global Warming Exaggerations
    The Euro
    Millennium Dome
    Olympic Games
    Excessive employment and tenancy laws
    Excessive Heath and Safely
    State support for Religious Schools
    The Equality and human rights commission
    CRP checks

    I am sure there are many more that can be added.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      And if the government really wants less racism they might start by getting rid of support for state religious schools, and the equalities and human rights commission and somewhat selective policy in racial incident prosecutions which does so much to incubate it.

      Indeed most quangos set up to deal with a problem in society tend to start by first exaggerating the problem and then going on to actually exacerbate them. After all it is their meal ticket. They are never going to say “great we have dealt with that problem please close us down”.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Reported, rather depressingly, this morning from a Cameron interview:

      “I would love to see tax reductions. I’m a tax-cutting Tory and I believe in tax cuts, but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t,” later “It’s no good saying we’re going to deal with the deficit by cutting spending, but then we’re going to make things worse again by cutting taxes. I’m afraid it doesn’t add up.” later again “Do I want to see, at the end of this hard road, relief and lower taxes for hard-working people? Yes I do.”

      Well then, just do the right thing and cut all the daft, pointless and destructive government expenditure and over regulation then!

      It was also reported that Mr Osborne was considering a new tax levy on wealthy “non-doms” which could be announced as early as the Budget.

      Good Idea Osbourne tax those wealthy non doms who, with their overseas connections, are probably the most likely to leave (as many already have, taking their taxes with them).

      Why not just try something that would actually work: lower tax rates, lower spending, less over regulation, a cheap energy policy and thus higher actual tax receipts a growing economy and an election win in 2015.

    • Acorn
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      “Background: The Council working party has abandoned discussions on the Commission’s proposal for an EU-PNR scheme and are going to start again drawing up their own proposal because a number of EU governments want to go much further. With the UK in the lead a number of member states want:

      – the system to cover not just flights in and out of the EU but also flights between EU countries plus all flights within each country;
      – the system to cover not just all flights but all sea and land travel as well;
      – the data and information gathered to be used not just for entry-exit but also for any law enforcement purpose.”

      JR; this is definitely one for Bill Cash and his Committee. This is the second shot at this one. The first one was so tyrannical, even MEPs wouldn’t vote for it. Alas, nice to see the UK is in the lead on a piece of EU legislation; for a change.
      http://www.statewatch.org/eu-pnrobservatory.htm

      • Mark
        Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        The Soviets used to monitor their citizens’ movements via internal passports.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Very good, add government administered foreign aid and the hopelessly inefficient, regressive tax system unfair to the workers and business. The reality is on many issues there is barely a cigarette paper between the main parties e.g. Milliband on PMQs on Afghanistan.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      In your previous blog you say:

      “I think one of the best things the left has done over the last couple of decades is persuade more people in the UK that racism is unacceptable. The UK is a more tolerant and better place today.”

      But it was not the left that did this on the contrary I would argue that the left have incubated the problem for pure political advantage. All right thinking people judge people as individuals on ability and if that mean you end up with a totally black sprint running team so be it.

      The left on the other hand wants positive discrimination (which is blatant negative discrimination for any non selected groups). They want laws against free speech to prevent people passing comments on others beliefs lest they are offended. They want different planning laws for some groups and silly forms everywhere with intrusive ethnic questions so they can check on you.

      And all administered at huge pointless cost by state employees with the main result that racism increases as people think, often quite rightly, that some groups are treated better by the state than they are treated. Due to a sort of state induced racism. The same occurs with reverse sexism in the BBC where anyone watching might well get the impression that nearly all engineers and scientists in the country are women.

      Also the quangos/charities spend so much time publicising the issue and in self promotion this alone harms racial harmony hugely.

      In a similar way they absurdly they take lower average wages for women as evidence of discrimination when it is clearly is nothing of the kind unless you assume (absurdly) identical motivations of the groups. They then use this to incubate discontent for political reasons.

      The left have actually a great deal to be ashamed of as usual.

  5. Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    The establishment really is arrogant about Everything it believes in,people who believe otherwise are browbeaten and worse.I suggest all who think differently follow my example.
    When I meet up with or even just deliberately communicate with part of this group I set out to terrorise them with debate and criticism,especially if there is an audience.At the age of 65
    I have arrived at the point where I actually have Contempt and deliberately show it ,I learned this in opposing Apartheid in my 28 years in South Africa,I cowed the Afrikaner into submission,I once when younger ,because I have a Coloured wife actually assaulted a member of the security police and Dared him to do something ,telling him that He would be on the front page of all the British Press as a Quintessential example of Apartheid and it,s proponents and defenders,What happened NOTHING.I can absolutely tell anyone that the
    establishment there KNEW that their THING was doomed from 1985 P W Botha,s
    Rubicon speech, and Mandela,s release coupled with the ANC,s unbanning would lead to majority[non white rule],in fact they actually were Terrified of Mandela,he basically dictated events from inside prison,look at the orderliness of his release on That Sunday,he actually became President on that day which was 4 years before 1994.There was a continued assault on the Afrikaner establishment from about 1983 on ,it was the force of argument and opprobrium that created the outcome . Be like a dog with a bone Never let go
    or like a boaconstrictor every time the victim struggles adjust your grip tighter,it is the only way and tell the establishment what their fate might be.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    In the TES this week was an article about the Free Schools. Gasp, Shock, Horror, one of the Swedish Providers has (and I am going to have to ask you to sit down before you hear this) shareholders and works for profit.
    There, I’ve said it.
    So they smell.

    The fact that Eton, St Paul’s, Merton College, Oxon and several other alma maters also work on the very same basis, but call themselves Charities with Governors is neither here nor there, of course. They are OK – so long as you can afford them, like Diane Abbott.

  7. John
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, the media and political establishment have a stranglehold on “acceptable public thought”. They control what the public are allowed to hear or think about and it has to come to an end.

    The first step must be the privatise the BBC and all other media outlets, abolish Ofcom and ultimately liberate the media, so that opinions other than the status-quo are allowed. It’s shameful the way the British sheeple have allowed themselves to be herded by the establishment.

    With regards to the economic situation, the solution must be to free the currency from the monopolistic government. Let’s question everything we’ve been fed to believe by the elites for a second… Ask yourself, why do we allow the government to have a monopoly over the creation of money? The state has a terrible record, filled with inflation, recessions, corruption and so on.

    The idea of privatising money is very compelling. Think of it this way, we have the US, the UK, China, Germany, India and so on with their own currencies, competing in a marketplace of currencies. So why can’t we extend this principle to include corporations, businesses and cities? Why should the national government control it all?

    Imagine Tesco dollars, Halifax dollars, Manchester City Council dollars, John Lewis dollars etc. all competing against each other for the British public’s loyalty. There would be exchange rates like there are now and the people would naturally choose to use the currencies that offered the best value for money.

    Indeed, in a sense we use privatised money already. When you have these Loyalty and Reward cards from corporations like Tesco, you are, in a sense, using Tesco money. Only, with a privatised system of money, your Tesco dollars wouldn’t be constrained to being used only at Tesco, but rather, they could be used anywhere. All you would have to do is swipe your Tesco card to pay for your John Lewis bedcover and the exchange rate mechanism built into the swipe machine will do the rest.

    This country needs new ideas and a fresh perspective. I think many of us in Britain know that the country is on the wrong track and has been for many years, regardless of which political party has been in charge.

    It’s time for fresh and better ideas to counter the usual elitist, quasi-socialist, brain-draining establishment. Liberating the media and privatising the money are two such improvement we could make to Britain. The special interests are the main obstacle to such reform.

    • Gary
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Abolish the tyranny of legal tender laws and allow people to choose the currency with which to transact. That is a basic freedom denied, because overnight it would be the death of the Big Govt and bank duopoly, for the elite an unthinkable step too far. But, certainly in such a case we will choose gold and possibly silver and they will flow to the most productive since metals pay small interest. It has been that way for over 5000 years and for reasons of the almost immutable nature of sound money.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      I think the idea of allowing private creation of money is sound, albeit who would trust fiat private currency for serious wealth storage? It would need to be commodity backed I suspect.

      There is zero chance any established party would propose this because they would be giving up the monopoly right to counterfeit and the less intelligent ones simply don’t get the idea.

  8. rose
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    We don’t just have a tyranny of ideas, but of language too. Even the classics are forbidden to use their own words.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:37 am | Permalink

      Really? which ones? I feel an ‘Amazon’ moment coming on.

  9. Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    You could have added multi culturalism and perhaps appeasement in the 1930’s to your list.

    The truth is that we are very intolerant of certain types of dissent. I wonder why ?

  10. Richard
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Its called group think. And part of that process is that those who dissent are labelled in stereotypical and often pejorative terms. Eurosceptic is such a label. Why who could be against the cuddly EU? Afterall its like motherhood and apple pie.

    Its only when an ugly reality intrudes does the group need to rethink their position.

  11. zorro
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    ‘…for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing…..” (Edmund Burke)

    The principle in your example is the same. If we allow this word fascism or bullying received logic to go unchallenged it always ends badly. What do we have though over at least the last 30 years with regards to EU type issues?…….

    A very good case to show that those pursuing this forced union are fundamentally flawed in their reasoning on both a political, economic, and social scale. In addition to what you mention, we belong to an organisation (EU) which has been unable for a very long time to have its expenses and spending properly accounted.

    Faint heart never won fair lady, and if we love our country and what it stands for, we must always be bold and not be cowed and call out those who would look to abuse us intellectually (for now) or prevent us from doing so. The freedom which we have to speak is hard won and we need to be eternally vigilant. Very rich and entrenched interests want us to go in a certain direction. Who knows how far they will be prepared to go to achieve their vision?

    zorro

  12. wab
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Methinks you protest too much. I don’t remember Thatcher believing that the ERM was “the right way to run our economy”, she was bounced into it.

    As you say, the Bank of England is not truly and can never be truly “independent” of the government, since the latter determines under what terms it operates, in particular what its objective is (e.g. an inflation rate of 2%). On the other hand, does anyone believe that the economic situation would be better now if Brown and Balls had had even more control over the Bank of England?

    As for global warming, there is plenty of physics to back up the conventional theory (see realclimate.org if you have the time). If you, or anyone else, disagrees with the conventional theory, then the climate physicists would be more than happy for you to “test the underpinnings of this theory”. The data is all out there for you to examine (in spite of the denialist claims to the contrary). Unfortunately the denialists (especially the American denialists) are (mostly) not interested in testing anything, just screaming abuse at scientists. And if you count the Telegraph leader writers as part of the Establishment (they certainly seem that way to me), then you will find plenty of anti-warming writing in the UK media.

    The poor Eurosceptics, eh, nobody treats them with any respect. Maybe because most of them (present company excepted of course) sound bonkers. But I bet you that the anti-EU stories in the British media far outnumber the pro-EU stories. I agree, though, that there is no sensible critique of EU governance in the media.

    • Tom
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      After looking at realclimate.org have a look at climaterealists.com and decide for yourself which views are more accurate and scientific.

      Why has Al Gore, for one, consistently refused an open debate?

  13. Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I think you are right to exclude the press from your criticism of the media.

    So what is the solution?

    For what it is worth I would suggest that you look at your own tactics and those of other eu-sceptics.

    With respect I would suggest that you attempt keep these two issues as separate as possible:

    1) your distaste for eu ideology
    2) the threat to our sovereignty

    On number 1 you have solid support from people like me and a limited number of fellow MPs (I suspect you also have the support of most of the country, but that’s another matter).

    On number 2 you will surely have common ground with a wider group of MPs across all parties. Some of these will be more palatable to Centre-Left media.

    I would suggest that the route towards improved media coverage is the formation of an all-party alliance of those MPs who wish to defend Parliament.

    This can only be done if party leaderships are convinced that such a group will be determined to place the business of this group above party politics and beyond the reach of whips with the aim of protecting Parliament itself.

    Hopefully such a group could form a committee with communication via the media on the agenda. With a broader platform the left-centre media which at the moment sees the Conservative group of eu-sceptics as a marginal force will have a harder job ignoring views from a broader-based rainbow group.

    The only way such a group would stay the course and not break up is if its business and remit is strictly limited to dealing with eu encroachments on Parliament merely as encroachments and without any comment or reference to the political nature of such encroachments. I suppose this is lawyer’s stuff but, although not easy to pull off, surely worth a try.

  14. Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Well said Mr Redwood,

    It could be said the strength of the denunciations of opponents is in inverse relationship to the robustness of the case.

  15. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    All led by the BBC breaking its charter all the time on balance.

  16. lojolondon
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    John, THIS is why I read your blog. The main issues of the day crystallised into a couple of paragraphs, well done.
    One point that I believe is key to all of this is that MP’s, like any human being, are driven by perfectly natural self interest. The biggest threat to an MP’s job ins 2011 is that he annoys his party and they nominate someone else in his place. So he will follow the whip and take the party line, often against the interests of his constituents. Open primaries change all that, because then his biggest threat is that the people vote for someone else, so he has to represent his constituents and constantly publicise the good job that he does.

    I am going to put pressure on my useless local MP to listen to his constituents and take action.

  17. lojolondon
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    A couple of more points –

    “The establishment” CAN be changed – the media in the UK is driven by the BBC. The BBC is totally biased, abusing their monopoly in the UK to promote the EU, Global Warming and the left-wing parties. By changing the message from the BBC I believe we can change the direction of the country. We do not want a right-wing BBC, all we want is that they should represent the views of their viewers fairly. This is is their mandate after all. I believe that change at the BBC is a pre-requisite for improving the UK.

    • Bob
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Seconded

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Never having read any Antonio Gramsci, the tories don’t get this ~ If I may, he suggested before winning political wars one must win the cultural battle.

        The left has, via the BBC.

        The next step, to me anyway seems rather obvious.

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes but how can this be done?

      Politicians cannot change the BBC through conventional methods and the BBC doesn’t appear to be able to reform itself (for example, despite accepting the findings of the Bridcut Report about poor scrutiny of the eu and insufficient eu-sceptic representation it then carried on pretty much as before as if the report had never been published).

      My feeling is that the only way the BBC issue will be brought into the public domain is if the Prime Minister raises it forcibly directly live on air. Even then a public debate is likely to be stifled and skewed as the main forum will be the BBC itself.

      Too many people: politicians, journalists etc – in fact the ‘establishment’ – rely indirectly on the BBC their current or future livelihood that any move against it will surely be an uphill struggle.

  18. Alfred T Mahan
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    You can add several more to that list – multiculturalism, the NHS, education and how to help the poor are four other areas where conventional Establishment wisdom has got it quite wrong. EU fisheries, the UN – the list is growing as I write!

  19. oldtimer
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    You are absolutely right in your analysis – and in your remedy ” These and other commanding ideas need to be properly exposed to challenge and criticism for us to have a vibrant democracy.”

    In the absence of challenge and criticism these “commanding ideas”, as you describe them, come dangerously close to Dr Goebbels` definition of The Big Lie.

  20. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    There is always a prevailing view. Just think of the consequences of an Anglican becomming a Roman Catholic in Victorian times, or even later.

    Many people are so intellectually unsure of themselves that the Establishment view is the only one they can propound with confidence. Others are so cowardly that they will not risk their very comfortable position in the world for mere intellectual honesty. (In both cases I mean people at the top of society, not middle or bottom).

    The contrarian is a rare beast indeed. Always has been, always will.

  21. Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “Sometimes those who argue strongly for toleration and civil liberties are the ones who are harshest in seeking to censor or silence people of differing views.” Too right.

    Around five years ago Channel 4 ran a programme about(word left out) grooming gangs. Channel 4 was pilloried by the establishment for “inciting racial hatred”. Plus they had to withdraw a similar programme, “Edge of the City”. And in 2001, Nick Griffin stood trial for saying much the same.

    Then a month or so ago, the establishment’s favourite newspaper, The Times devoted no less than five pages to the same point. The subsequent silence from the establishment was as deafening as it was hilarious and hypocritical. The moral is: don’t stray too far from the British establishment’s view. It can damage your career to the same extent as in various unsavoury dictatorships, past and present.

  22. Martin
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    There are too many people who see left wing conspiracies everywhere just as there are those in the public sector who see unaffordable spending as a sinister right wing plot.

  23. Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    What about the idea that if we all borrow larger and larger sums of money, and buy and sell the same little plots of land to each other for bigger and bigger prices, we can all get rich?

    And the idea that this is a sensible/sustainable economic model?

  24. BobE
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Companies used to be run by enthusiastic experts in the particular product being sold. Often these people began the companies and ran them with success as the outcome.
    Companies are now run by bean-counters with success being judged by money.
    Parliment was run by enthusiastic people who were driven to create a better society.
    Parliment is now run by inexperienced jobsworths who would have little chance of success outside of the public network.
    The EU is just a bigger trough.
    BobE, Region 6, EUSSR

  25. john rumary
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    ESTABLISHMENT ?? What the 1980’s Porche driving coke-heads who run the Banks are considered “The Establishment” now are they, Huh. And The political establishment are Oxbridge bread roll throwers who go straight into central office for their career training. SO We are Governed by fools now. This must stop.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      This lamentable phenomena is common in both parties not just the conservatives.

  26. Iain Gill
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    the biggest question I have, having spent a lot of time in Copenhagen recently is how their interpretation of European rules are so different to ours

    lots of the stuff we are routinely told is imposed by Europe is handled so differently there

    and they sure aint swamping their workforces with ICT visa holders from India either, or handing out indefinite leave to remain like confetti

    and they are quite happy to deport EC citizens for minor crimes,never mind none EC citizens, never mind serious crimes

    and so on

  27. alan jutson
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    This one is a difficult one to unravel because successive governments have stiffled debate even between their own MP’s views when both in, and out of power.

    Until we have a Prime Minister who is confident enough in his own ability, to abstain from employing yes men and women in positions of power, but instead employ the best of talents within their Party as their Ministers, whilst at the same time encouraging honest debate, we will not move forward.

    So much of Politics is now a sham, a PR stunt for the press and the 24 hour media.

    Whilst there appears to be a hunger for 24 hour news with constant speculation and broadcasting opinion, it has crippled the normal function of management, as every little decision, statement or interview is examined in detail and picked over.

    Governments have not helped themselves over the years by trying to micromanage every aspect of our lives by bringing in unenforceable, unworkable and in some cases unfair laws, directives and regulations.

    Yes we need small government , yes we need people with ability in government, but above all we a house full of Mps in all Parties who are not affraid to speak their minds. Only then may we stand a chance of moving forward.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      re “every little decision, statement or interview is examined in detail and picked over” sadly not, the news output from the main media channels is all very predictable, covers the same old topics, and fails in spectacular fashion to examine the detail of many areas of public policy

      there is a massive difference now between the biggest genuine concerns of the public and what the media choose to discuss

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Iain

        Agree with the point you make, perhaps I should have expanded my comment in so far as detailed examination only in trying to put a wedge beween one member of the coalition and another. Speculation often about trivial parts of a policy or statement, but never a balanced view.

        Oh I wish for the days when we had Sir Robin Day in his prime, who could undertake a detailed forensic examination/interview and get at the real facts.

  28. Richard
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    We have moved on a little from centuries ago. Then an anti-establishment view would have led to charges of heresy.
    People were killed for suggesting the earth wasnt flat, now you just get bullied verbally, so in some ways we have become more civilised.
    Some have already said that the mian driver is self interest and I agree, the big problem today in changing the opinions of the establishment is the power of vested interest groups.
    Brown realised this was a way of retaining power and increased the size of the “salariat” enormously.
    We now have millions more who depend on the state for their standard of living, at all levels.
    They will defend the role of the state and their part in it to the end in order to protect their income stream.
    As a result change become far more difficlut to achieve.
    It was a surprise to me that the Conservative Party facing this problem and boundary changes and massive immigration managed to get the recent election result they did.

  29. Javelin
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    There is a theory calked the “Paradoxical Theory of Change” that explains why things often achieve the goals for which they were intended. It comes from Gestalt Psychotherpy but can be applied to any complex system.

    Primarily it means the more you try to achieve something (generally a superficial behaviour) directly the further from your goal you get. In psychology, the more you try to hold your temper the stronger the outburst. For example political correctness has reduced freedom by intruding intrusive laws, or trying to reduce inflation through globalism has led to inflation.

    The lesson is that a wise man knows how to tinker with the deeper principles to achieve the goals with less side effects.

  30. Peter Turner
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    A very simple policy statement – Simplify at every opportunity.

  31. BobE
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    We need a guillotine

  32. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    “The Establishment believes in global warming theory. Anyone who dares ask questions or seeks to test the underpinnings of this theory is treated to intellectual abuse.”

    Intellectual ? I’ve been subject to outright ad hominem abuse from lefties, sometimes bordering on the violent.

  33. doppelganger
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    i read modern history at oxford a few years after john redwood. i also worked in the city. it became clear to me that received wisdom whilst often celebrated was sadly often wrong. examples included the lawson boom (including tracking the DM, cutting income tax whilst the boom was going on, announcing the abolition of double miras but then delaying its implementation thus adding to the collapse); then we had john major; the so called experts i worked with in mega bank thought the erm was good news in spite of the principles of basic economics. it seems nothing has changed. the tories or rather the cameroons seem ignorant or determined to ignore the lessons of history.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      The lesson of modern history is that the people usually know better than the leaders/experts what is good for them (or the leaders/experts just dishonestly act purely in their own interests and against those of the people if they can get away with it with spin).

  34. Derek Buxton
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Good as your post is, I would suggest that the media in general have colluded with all governments in pushing the myth of a benevolent EU, it isn’t. Just as in similar manner they push the AGW scam, with a few honourable exceptions. Our governance is not democratic, it does not listen to the People. I agree that although the majority view should hold, that only applies as long as this majority does not harm any minority, a view which I think you appreciate. Unfortunately this is what is happening, hence the “green” scam, which we cannot afford. It needs to be brought down, how many deaths will green Huhne accept as a result of his policies, backed as they are by Cameron.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      As an engineer/physicist whenever I meet someone who believes in the global warming/alternative energy exaggerations I find, upon questioning them, that they rarely know anything at all about the science in general or the science of energy at all.

      They cannot tell you what a Kilo Watt Hour is, what it costs to store electricity, how a heat pump works, how much electricity you get from a m2 of PV panel or explain what entropy means. What is the point is listening to a word they say – would you fly on a plane designed by these people? They “think” in terms of pretty photos of Polar Bears floating on bits of ice.

      They just think that if governments and BBC think it true it must be and the pictures of polar bears are sad.

      • APL
        Posted February 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “They cannot tell you what a Kilo Watt Hour is, what it costs to store electricity, how a heat pump works ..”

        Dare I say it? The result of the dead hand of the State on our education system.

        Lifelogic: ” the BBC ”

        Time was when you might watch the BBC for informed discussion in a factual manner about science and technology, programmes such as Horizon and even Tomorrows world. The most recent Horizon programme illustrates how degenerate the BBC has become.

        Still the ‘Tories’ refuse to do a damn thing about the BBC.

        What about the BBC executive who was made redundant after 20 years, no doubt picked up a hansome payoff, moved to the US and is now contracting for the BBC commuting between the US and the UK, but only just enough to avoid UK income tax liability.

        It’s enough to make one spit blood!

  35. Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Parliament has the ability to confine most national political debate to within its walls. All it needs to do is go back to the old rule (not sure if was a law or a convention) that MPs do not debate politics in radio and tv studios but rather in Parliament only.

    If this agreement was to be brought back it would (nowadays) require that Parliament have its own media centre and production facility.

    That is not to say that output from this media centre would be restricted. It would surely be freely available to broadcasters but debates would at least be chaired and managed by Parliament and not by tv and radio stations that may have their favoured guests and may want to steer arguments in particular ways. If Manchester United can do this then so can Parliament.

    This would surely be a cross-party issue free from party whipping.

    Incidentally I think it is high time that on this issue and others, MPs formed non-party single issue committees. Well why not?

  36. grahams
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    You are right that Establishment orthodoxies should always be challenged, even when one is blackballed as beyond the pale for doing so.

    So, to be consistent, you should also include on your list:

    1) That more competition is everywhere and always a good thing: it isn’t. Ask any company trying to borrow money from a bank.

    2) That it does not matter who owns British industry and that to challenge foreign multinationals buying key UK firms is against the principle of free trade.

    Having been laughed out of Establishment courts for querying the latter and now seeing the consequences, I feel your point particularly keenly.

  37. Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    In truth the issues are not cultural ideas, but political-economic.

    The abandonment of cultural ideas is itself a problem of modern politics. Culture is now so far removed from anyone’s awareness that it has become a non-subject. The elite has removed it from the agenda entirely. Yet in cultural ideas lie the key to good policy in all areas.

    What for example, has happened to the right to the pursuit of happiness, the idea that underpinned the Enlightenment, social sciences like economics, the American War Of Independence and the surge of western civilisation over two hundred and more years?

  38. BobE
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    The Cameroons. What fun!

  39. adam
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    As the BBC is the national broadcaster, will climate sceptics get a right of reply to the recent two BBC documentaries maligning them.
    I would be happy to consult. I could build a devastating case against them.

  40. APL
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    JR: “These and other commanding ideas need to be properly exposed to challenge and criticism for us to have a vibrant democracy.”

    Yes.

    But the sort of exposure and discussion of ‘ideas’ can never happen when the PARTY dictates who may say what, who is hired and who is fired, what blandishments a party member may recieve or not, is is credible for instance that Derek Conway’s antics were unknnown to the party heirachy? Yet he was pilloried by the very people who later were exposed as behaving in very much the same way.

    The point is, while the PARTY controls the terms of the debate from the TOP, you people – MPs will never hear what we people are really concerned about at the bottom.

    You will continue on deludedly believing you are listening to the ‘grass roots’, the lobbyists; the Greens, the Anthropogenic global warmists, both of whom are paid for or their activies are subsidised by the very government that is really an extension of the PARTY.

    In short you are listening to yourselves and ignoring US. I doubt it will end well.

  41. stred
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    It is a sad fact that so many Green activists cannot find the time to study the engineering of non carbon energy sources. I heard the new Green MP, Caroline ?, saying on radio 4 that the French had got it wrong when it came to energy. Their technocrats have ensured that their system has almost all non carbon sources and developed nuclear with an excellent safety record, through good engineering. They also exploit wind wherever it makes economic sense. Here, electric cars are useless and will be for 15 years. In France they already work.

    In Prof David MacKay’s book, Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, most of his options put wind power at about 4-8% of national load. For this we would need to build enormous hydro storage or use spare electric car batteries. Even the ‘greenest’ option puts wave power at only 3%. Tidal at 3.7%. This is not because of cost, but because the energy just isn’t there, even with generators all around the coast. And yet we still hear wave energy trotted out as the solution by Green… politicians.

    Then in Green…. marketing, energy companies ask whether we wish to pay a bit extra for a Green tariff. But, if we buy from say the 10% of the non-fossil generators, then someone else will have to buy more fossil generated. The overall proportion stays the same. They don’t suddenly shove up a wind farm to suit the number of customers.

    Another point which seems to be forgotten by the Antis to Warmists is that the main problem is not whether a rise of 280 to 400+ part per million CO2 will cause warming or not. The main problem is rising population and industrialisation in the emerging countries. Oil will be in short supply soon, even if new fields are found. Gas will follow, then coal. The Uk will depend on imported energy more quickly than most countries. Imagine the risk to supplies if MacKay plan N were to be installed- 20% from N.African PV farms. It is of note that even in the most optimisic plans,home installed Photo Voltaic panels could produce only 3%.

    The ridiculous subsidy being paid to stick these expensive and unreliable PV panels al over the place beggars belief.(personal attack on a PV magnate, and general disagreement with spending on all this-ed)

  42. Posted February 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    100% agree.

    The idea that government is largely parasitic rather than overwhelmingly productive is something that cannot be said on the BBC (which is, after all, the propaganda arm of the civil service).

    The dissociation of what may be said from fact is well shown over our criminal wars. It has become official wisdom that the Iraq war (fought on the basis on nonexistent WMDs) was fought on (very questionable grounds-ed) whereas the Yugoslav war (fought on the basis of claims of Yugoslav genocide which were (questioned at the time-ed)) & fought to allow our KLA “police” to engage in (disputed activities-ed), was, if no longer considered “good” at least something which should never be objected to in polite society.

    Regarding the global warming fraud – I am in receipt of an email from a BBC producer who, while making no atempt whatsoever to dispute having repeatedly (misinformed-ed) in a programme he disputed, claimed that the BBCs decision to produce 10s of thousands of hours promoting the warming scam but not a single one on the other side had maintained their legal duty to show “due balance”. I guess I must accept this as the very highest standard of honesty to which anybody at the BBC ever aspires, but it is still alie that could never be promoted by a remotely (independent?-ed) human being.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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