A couple of answers

 

             Some contributors have written in to say they think the answer to the prisoners’ votes issue is for the UK to pull out of the Convention and settle its own ideas in Parliament. The piece I wrote did not express my view, but sought to say what I think the government will do, and what Parliament might then do. I often use this site to provide commentary and forecasts. Sometimes I give my own personal view, but I think the site needs to do more than that to make it a wide ranging forum. Contributors should know by now that I do think Parliament should make these decisions, but that does not mean it is about to happen in the pure way many would like.

       Some have written in to say the west has been hypocritical in welcoming the success of people power in Egypt when the west has in the past supported the old regime, and still supports other regimes in the  Middle East that are far from democratic. Western countries do not think they should be trying to topple all undemocratic regimes. They accept the need to get on with a variety of different styles and types of government, and to usually leave how a country is governed to the people who live in that country. There is nothing hypocritical about welcoming changes to governments that go in the direction we favour, without having worked to bring that about.

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29 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I tend to think we should pull out of the convention and fix our own laws – if nothing else it will save on legal aid and release some lawyers to get a productive job. Surely we can decide our own laws without the ambiguity of this expensive higher court hanging over the system.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      More good news the nonsense PV feed in tariffs are being reviewed and restricted to non industrial users (just small scale householders) I understand.

      Of course the industrial ones are actually slightly less mad than the small scale house ones but better than nothing I suppose as both are tipping money down the drain.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps JR you could ask Cameron how many KWHours he has got out of his turbine so far in non windy Notting Hill and if he would recommend one of these silly badges to others. If it ever was finally installed.

  2. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I agree. Festina lente!

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The real hypocrisy is our politicians supporting moves towards democracy in Egypt whilst simultaneously destroying our own by passing powers to the EU and ECHR.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Brian Tomkinson: “..whilst simultaneously destroying our own..”

      The interesting thing about Egypt is that the demonstrations were / are not about democracy, they were about the cost of living and particularly the cost of food staple.

      When you live on EGY £1000 per year, you cannot afford a 30% increase in basic foodstuffs.

      People will put up with an awful lot, but the simply cannot put up with being starved to death.

      The inflation we see here in the UK is a much attenuated version of that the Egyptians have experienced, but its source is much the same. US quantitative easing leading to an explosion in the price of world commodities.

      This is thanks to Ben Bernanke irresponsible actions. Egyptian stability has been subsidized by the west for thirty years, Bernanke’s actions at the Federal reserve have destroyed that in two.

      It’s not desire for democracy that have seen the Magreb explode, its a need for food at a decent price.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    John

    Now that Parliament has at last drawn a line in the sand on this but one small policy initiative from Europe, let us hope they will defend that decision against the threat of fines and the like that will surely come.

    Let us also hope that this stand has at last woken up the house, and given them strength of mind to question, and act against European interference in so many other areas.

    I wait, but will not hold my breath.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Stewart Knight
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    and to usually leave how a country is governed to the people who live in that country. There is nothing hypocritical about welcoming changes to governments that go in the direction we favour, without having worked to bring that about.

    I would agree with this John, but the problem is that for the most part we aren’t dealing with, or referring to, Governments or countries that are Governed by the people who live in it are we, and that is why you are wrong, totally and completely wrong.

    Regimes like Saud only exist by our and the worlds indulgence and reliance on their money, same for many other regimes far worse that Egypt, even China. We can change them by threatening, at least, the withdrawal of that indulgence, but that won’t happen.

    I’m a realist that agrees with the sentiment you make, but also I’m a realist in knowing that we have taken our indulgence now too far.

  6. Damien
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I am growing increasingly concerned about the role the UK financial system plays as banker to a growing number of dictators and unsavory regimes. Other European countries have taken swift action to freeze the accounts of the ousted President of Tunisia and now the deposed President Mubarak. Cameron has publicly stated his solidarity with the liberated people of Egypt yet we are unwilling to block money transactions of the former President and his cronies immediately.

    The UK must know full well that the interim government of Egypt will be unable to act with any speed in taking legal action and will be exposed meanwhile to massive transfers of its nations assets from the UK to other dictator friendly regions.

    It could be that the UK takes the view that there is ample legislation to sue any banks that may breach money laundering and other rules. I am thinking of the trustee of the liquidation of Madoff’s investment firm who is suing HSBC for $9 billion alleging (words left out) misconduct against the bank.

    But surely the UK government should go further than the mere legal minimum when considering the risk of misappropriation of the wealth of Egypt? I would have hoped that the precautionary stance taken by other countries could be applied here. This is a matter of the highest media interest both abroad and as seen in todays papers and even on the Andrew Mar show this morning. Neither Vince Cable nor Tony Blair were able to give satisfactory answers on the matter.

    If it later transpires that Egypt is looted financially in the coming months and the UK failed to act then irreparable damage will be done to the credibility and reputation of the UK.

  7. Nick
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Contributors should know by now that I do think Parliament should make these decisions, but that does not mean it is about to happen in the pure way many would like.
    ================

    So no role for the electorate, just a dictatorship in Westminister telling the population.

    Where is the role for the electorate to have the say, yes or no?

    Reply: The electorate chooses the MPs and influences their opinions.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      That is a fine reply! Ever get the feeling your being swindled? The real response is his fey support of the REVOLT!!! I use bold face because this should be a REVOLT against the usuarpation of national will. Influence over the actions of your MP is slight; over this “court” it is nil. Now is the time. But with friends like DC & JR we get window dressing. Once there was Traitors Gate…

      Reply: I seem to rememebr voting against the ECHR a couple of days ago.

      • foundavoice
        Posted February 15, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Actually Christopher, John is right in his reply. The job of Parliament is to scrutinise proposed legislation and hold the Government (and its agencies) to account.

        The problem is that Parliament has been bypassed by Quangos, the EU and legislation that has been pushed through with clauses that allow for further changes without Parliamentary scrutiny.

        Parliament has been marginalised from providing a check and protecting our interests.

        Having said all that, I can’t see it getting significantly better (because fo all the self-interest from those who currently hold the power in different places) in my lifetime. Viva la Revolt!

    • Eric Arthur Blair
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply:

      John, with respect to yourself because you’re not especially part of this problem…

      …but isn’t that part of the broken politics?

      The PPCs are selected by the internal party machines – Conservative, Labour, LibDums, the Greens, UKIP, the BNP – all of them.

      Carswell and Hannan have the solution to this. Local primaries.

      As it is, the majority of MPs then vote according to their party whip – not according to the wishes or correspondence of their constituents.

      Defy the whip and..?

      Indeed, did you see what Bill Cash said over on The Spectator today re. the ECHR vote (under Fraser Nelson’s post):

      “It was an engineered free vote and the whipped vote is to come.”

      That’s Bill Cash.

      What is the public to do, when the PPCs are selected for us (and local constituency offices over-ruled), when the whips have MPs by the tight and curlys..?

      And for every Carswell or Redwood, there’s another one hundred apparatchiks – of all parties.

      Please – would love to see you make a blog post out of this. It’s a problem we, the people all see and recognise and can identify. It needs dealing with, else democracy means little.

      Reply : Conservative Associations are still free to choose their own candidate.

      • Eric Arthur Blair
        Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        Come now John…

        “Tories’ secret plan to kill off party dinosaurs”

        Action Plan for Candidate Selection in Safe Seats is a fascinating insight into how modernisers have planned a gradual Tory party takeover.

        Their efforts finally paid off last month when Mr Cameron imposed shortlists of ‘suitable’ Parliamentary candidates.

        The move has incensed the grassroots – who have always had a say over which candidates appeared on shortlists – and triggered a wave of protests and resignations.

        It was written by Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove, an influential member of Mr Cameron’s inner circle, and Dean Godson, a director of favoured think-tank Policy Exchange.

        Mr Gove is a close friend of Joanne Cash, 40, the poster girl for the Tories’ so-called A-list of candidates designed to fast-track women, ethnic candidates and gays into winnable seats.

        She was involved in perhaps the most notorious row over new candidates, in the key marginal of Westminster North.

        Mr Cameron is unrepentant and his decision to seize power from local associations, say his friends, is the culmination of the secret plan on how to neuter the party faithful in the country.

        These members of the Tory grassroots, cruelly nicknamed dinosaurs, are seen by modernisers as impediments to a progressive party. Mr Gove’s and Mr Godson’s document was written in February 2002.

        But even Shadow Cabinet ministers concede it has been hugely influential and the central platform of Mr Cameron’s programme.

        But it also predicts there would be flashpoints over plans to parachute in outside candidates.

        ‘The party has little direct leverage over associations, consisting of volunteers who guard their local autonomy jealously and value their ability to choose future MPs. Nevertheless not only can objections be overcome, they MUST be overcome.

        ‘The clever approach is to maintain the illusion that a good cross-section of approved candidates is being offered.’

        Suggesting a degree of subterfuge, the document goes on: ‘There are several reasons why the Party should not publicly proclaim the new methodology.

        [All from Daily Mail article, 19th February 2010]

      • APL
        Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        Eric Arther Blair: “Defy the whip and..? ”

        But defy your constituents and despite losing your constituency, you get parachuted into a safe vacant seat somewhere else.

        Your party gets rejected at the polls, a dozen of so deadbeats get promoted into the Lords.

        Under this system, built by the PARTY we simply can’t get rid of the cancerous tumor.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      “The electorate chooses the MPs and influences their opinions.”

      Yes a bit but only between a few party preselected limited candidates and only then on the basis of what they promise (which they will probably not actually do). And not very much influence either alas. Far less than the political parties, the civil service, ministers, the EU, the BBC, the press, lawyers and companies paying large consultancies fees have.

      Democracy it certainly is not by any remote stretch of the imagination.
      Where is the influence of the 70%+ of people outside these groups.
      It is government in the interest of big government, big business and the state sector.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Jr: “The electorate chooses the MPs and influences their opinions.”

      Not true.

      The Conservative central office through its selection lists and candidate lists choose the prospective MPs. We only get to choose who the PARTY has selected first.

      Ditto the Labour NEC or whatever acts as parallel for them.

  8. Ian harris
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood, You state in the last sentence (above) “There is nothing hypocritical about welcoming changes to governments that go in the direction we favour, without having worked to bring that about.”
    As is usaul with politicians, this sentence is very ambigiuos after the comma.
    I am unsure just how to interpret this.
    However, the fact that Mr. William Hague MP can come on the T.V. to say ‘that he hopes the Egyptian government will respect the rights of the protesters to protest, and that the protester’s Human Rights must be respected.’
    To state this when he was a member of the government that cracked the heads of protesting miners’, in their strike under the Thatcher government. Further, only recently their was/has been talk of opting out of the Human Rights Act.
    Mr Hagues comments to Egypt was in my opinion ‘hypocritical’. And, I feel your last sentence as confusing, and which could and should have been made clearer when we hear that the youth’s leaving primary/secondary shools in the U.K do not have a full grasp of reading & writing..
    I.Harris

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Leaving aside the little matter of the miner who died when NUM strike supporters dropped a rock from a bridge onto his car, does Mr Harris believe that inhabitants of the UK enjoyed no human rights prior to 1998?

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I have no views on Egypt.
    On the matter of Europe, it really comes down to this, doesn’t it? Do we think that the British people are still among the most inventive, the most naturally efficient and sensible people in the world, as we were in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? (And up to 1945.)
    Or are we so far corrupted by the alienation of the Welfare State, emigration and immigration that we need to be supported by a strong central government and elite bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg who really do know what is best for us now we have lost our grip?
    This is not rhetorical. It is the issue as I see it.

  10. English Pensioner
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I am pleased that you are one of the few MPs who wishes to hear the views of the public, and I suspect that you are one of a very small minority. At least no-one can claim that you are out of touch. Perhaps we need a rule requiring all MPs to have a blog and update it weekly!

    In the matter of Egypt, I think this country has pursued a perfectly sensible policy (which is more than one can say for the EU which doesn’t even seen to have got round to deciding a policy). As we are not normally in the business of overthrowing governments (although I wouldn’t mind some action in Zimbabwe!), one has to do one’s best with what exists. If this is changing, as now, it is obvious that we should work behind the scenes to try to secure the least worse option from our point of view and I can’t see anything hypocritical in that. As the army has taken control, pushing them to hold democratic elections in due course seems a sensible approach, far better than a free-for-all now as, with no established political parties, the Muslim Brotherhood would be the only victors and we could have another Iran on the doorstep of Europe.

  11. Eric Arthur Blair
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    But John, it is hypocritical of Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries to talk about ‘democracy’ and the ‘will of the people’ while not bowing to that will and democracy at home by putting the thorny issue of the European Union to an In-Out Referendum.

    …a referendum that is not actually needed, as the treason laws and the Bill of Rights say that no minister – from the traitor Heath onwards – had any basis to surrender this nation’s sovereignty without the will of the people or defeat in war.

    Parliament has received neither permission from the people and this country has not been defeated in war – and therefore Parliament will continue to be viewed with the contempt it deserves (Thursday notwithstanding) until the will of the people prevails.

    Reply: I do support a referendum as you know. However, the British people did have the chance of a vote on what Mr Heath did, and they voted Yes – though a few of us voted No at the time.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      A vote on the common market “Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?” in 1975 36 years ago. “Common market” always the phrase used. No mention of giving up self governance, free movement of people, huge central government expansion, EU superior courts, EU taxation and the a socialist big government non democratic agenda. And no one under 54 could have voted anyway – just sold as a vote on “do you believe in free trade with Europe”.

      A gigantic fraud which has continued under all the leaders since and now under “Cast Iron” Cameron.

      • APL
        Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        lifelogic: “36 years ago.”

        Isn’t it funny, the Irish get two votes within two years that returns a verdict that the EU doesn’t like, yet we only get one in 36 years.

    • APL
      Posted February 15, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      JR: “the British people did have the chance of a vote on what Mr Heath did, and they voted Yes”

      This Briton had no such chance. I have lived all my adult live under an ever encroaching foreign power.

  12. Doug Orchard
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr Heath lied to the British people when he stated tha we were entering a Common Market, the EEC a purely trade aggreement. He did not state that we would be entering the EU and that we would surrender our sovereignty. Had he done so he would have lost the vote.

    The reason that no prime Minister has had another referendum after the Heath and Wilson ones is because they all know that we are now wise to what the EU is about and that any referendum would mean that we leave the EU. That would not do for the supporters of the EU in parliament who do so to maintain their position and the expeses that accrue as a subordinate of the EU and its two dominant states

    • sjb
      Posted February 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      If you read the leaflet that was produced by the Government in 1975 and delivered to UK homes you will see that the Common Market was much more than a pure trade agreement.
      http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm
      (The aims of the Common Market are set out on page 5 )

  13. Acorn
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to disagree John but the US has no interest in the little people in Egypt or any other Arab state. Its middle east policy is only ever concerned for Israel. You know how big the Jewish parliamentary lobby is in the UK; it is very much bigger in the US. The US has poured $60 billion into Mubarak’s thirty year regime. I expect a lot of that is in his family, and his enforcers, Swiss bank accounts. One day, the US voters will get educated and start to understand what is being done in their name, and with their tax dollars.

  14. zorro
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    John,
    Two of my posts on ‘Inflation’ didn’t appear, is there any particular reason why?

    zorro

  • 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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