Tory moderniser or old fashioned Conservative?

 

            This old canard is back on the agenda. It is being placed there by  the Leader of the Opposition, seeking to portray the Prime Minister as “same old tory”. Meanwhile many Conservatives, perhaps helpfully from his point of view, say the Prime Minister is not Conservative enough. They define Conservative according to their own beliefs – tough on crime, supporters of traditional families, Eurosceptics, low tax enthusiasts or whatever.

          My heart sinks when we get back into this kind of discussion. It acts as an overlay or even a complete impediment to intelligent debate about the country’s problems and what might fix them. Too many well paid intelligent people spend their lives formulating soundbites or trying to interpret soundbites with these political questions in mind. Too few wrestle with what might work, what could make the economy and society better. They either are not interested in what works, or they fear coming up with something  new which will put them on the wrong side of the row between  little or big enders, on the wrongside of the divide between modernisers or traditionalists.

            It generates a strange passivity amongst the political classes. It engenders the thought that public opinion is as it is, and so the politicians have to poll the public to find the answers then stick to what the polling says. In truth public opinion is mobile, and many views on how to solve a problem are not deep rooted or not based on experience or probability of success. The public on the whole thinks the politicans with their armies of expensive government advisers should come up with the answers. Within reason the public is there to be persuaded about the answers, as long as the politicians have got the point about what are the main problems. Intelligent dialogue is important, but passive acceptance of majority poll findings can be  silly. Most  Opposition parties cannot accept the findings of the polls, as the polls usually say they cannot win. Sensible opposition parties know they have to seek to change opinions.

             I do not know whether I am a traditionalist or a moderniser. What’s more I don’t care. I don’t think it is a meaningful or helpful way of looking at the challenges facing our country. If so called traditional remedies fix the economy and lead to faster growth and more jobs, the public will vote for them when they see they work. If modernising agendas do that, they will vote for that. If it’s a mixture, then have a mixture.

                  It’s not entirely clear what is modern and what is traditional. Traditional Conservatism includes a tradition of generous support for the disabled and unfortunate. It includes strong interventionist tendencies for law and order and the offer of a better life through state education and welfare. Modernising Conservatism can include tax cuts as well as social liberalism. The belief in better civil liberties unites some so called traditionalists and some modernisers. Practically  all modern Conservatives are Eurosceptics, arguing over how and how far rather than whether we should move to less EU interference. I know many of you say they do not do enough, but they will say if challenged they agree with Euroscepticism. Most of them are not trying to get you to believe the EU in its current shape is a good thing.

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90 Comments

  1. Mr. Green
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Conservatives who think that ‘traditional’ Conservative policies alone will gain electoral success are mistaken. The two election defeats with William Hague and Michael Howard indicate that.

    I agree that the characterisation of ‘moderniser’ or ‘traditional’ is unhelpful. If Ed Miliband uses this line of attack, though, it is rather revealing of a reluctance to participate in the policy debate, a reversion to name-calling rather than a rational exchange of views. If this works as a presentational trick, though it may pay electoral dividends.

    I was always irritated by Tony Blair’s so-called triangulation approach. During the 2005 election he made a speech in Dover on immigration that could have been made word for word by Michael Howard. Yet Labour managed to portray Conservative policies on immigration as tantamount to killing the first born, whereas in reality Labour presided over a system of useless authoritarianism. That also went for the criminal justice system.

    The presentational challenge remains though – even if you have the right policies for the nation, and the ones that most electors subscribe to, you can still lose the battle for hearts and minds, and the next election.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      “The two election defeats with William Hague and Michael Howard indicate that.”

      No – It showed that voters thought Labour was not doing too badly at that point and they still remembered John Major and his pointless 15% interest rates (in a futile attempt to keep the pound at 2.95 DM for his idiotic invented reasons) and his dishonesty and failure even to apologize for the predictable disaster that ensued.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        On the other hand Cameron lost a sitting duck post crash election against an absurd Gordon Brown by putting a green lefty big government agenda to the country.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          and a pro EU, cast rubber agenda to the country.

          • lojolondon
            Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            And we knew, even then, that he wanted to be the Lib Dem leader, not a Conservative leader.

      • sjb
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Assuming that all Labour voters in the 2005 General Election “thought Labour was not doing too badly” (arguably some thought they were doing babdly but voted Labour because of party loyalty) they still managed to win only a 35.3% share of the vote. In fact, just over one fifth of the electorate voted Labour.
        Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/constituencies/default.stm

    • APL
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      JR: “The two election defeats with William Hague and Michael Howard indicate that.”

      It certainly didn’t help to have Ken Clarke sniping at any policy Hague announced from inside Tony Blairs ‘big tent’. Cheeky chappie Ken was quite happy to break bread with Tony Blair.

      Clarke should have been expelled from the party then and there! But Hague was too supine. That and the Strathclyde betrayal from the Lords was on the same continium of Tory bitching and back stabbing.

      Isn’t it odd, Tony Blair comes up with his ‘big political tent’ idea about the same time he was consorting with the murderous Gadaffi.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The town where I live seems to have changed very little since the 1700s when it was built. The houses, in the centre are still the same. The mediaeval Church is still the centre and it looks just the same as it was when my grandfather was the Vicar in the 1930s. The Mayor and Councillors still process, in their traditional robes, through the streets. The market still functions. A tourist might get the impression that the town hasn’t changed for hundreds of years.

    In fact, it has altered quite dramatically. Many of the shops are Polish. The market has shrunk considerably as people go to Tescos etc. The railway has gone. The houses are often burned out by our friendly local arsonist or else condemned because they are falling down. Government is done from London, Cambridge or March. Almost everyone lives in the suburbs.

    This country has a genius for continuity. It all looks the same even while it is changing dramatically. And politics is no different. You have to balance the traditional (Labour vs Conservative in the Mother of Parliaments) with the new (government from Brussels, Welfare Reform, National and International Bankruptcy).

    I think the Labour Party is much more conservative now than the top hatted Bullingdon Tories. I also think that London is more and more isolated from the rest of the country with its own mind set (as publicised by the BBC) and its strengthening links with the continent. England, as ever, is in process of change. It is hard to keep up. Although things look the same, they are not.

    Those who understand all this will be very powerful.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Mike ,

      They will only be very powerful if they have an opportunity to do anything about it .

      Typically big corporations have a stranglehold over everything , including the Govt and pervert patent laws , regulation etc to operate a closed shop .

      As a country we will get nowhere until we sweep away the vested interests as Margaret Thatcher used to .

      To your examples of continuity I would add that we’ve got elections which provide the illusion that things are the same as they always were yet the decisions which matter are made in Brussels .

      Good article by the way J.R.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    What matters most is being HONEST with the electorate.
    Both BEFORE any ELECTION and AFTER.

    If we are in debt, say how much.

    If we are going to war say why.

    If we are going to raise taxes, explain what they are going to be spent on.

    If we are going to need cuts, be clear why and how much.

    If you are fully supportive of the EU polices explain clearly with reasons

    If you are against EU Policies explain clearly with reasons.

    If you are going to alter the structure of the NHS, Education, Prison, Welfare, Benefits, Tax, etc explain why clearly.

    And one for individual MP’s, If you are going to be the whips lobby fodder say so.

    At all costs DO NOT try and spin a story for political gain, and then fudge action.

    If a mistake or error has been made, say so, and then explain what you intend to do to rectify it.

    Do unto others, as you would like others to do to you.

    Its Simple really.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Alan,
      I totally agree but suspect that you and I have a view of how politicians should operate that will never happen in our lifetimes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      “If you are fully supportive of the EU polices explain clearly with reasons”

      Does anyone have any reasons beyond the bogus “we trade a lot with them” and “we need to have a say at the table” I have heard no one put any they just pretend to be against then make concession after concession.

      No even the LibDems make any real pro EU case in public they know they do not have a leg to stand on. Say one cast iron thing then do the opposite is the order of the day.

      • David Price
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I grazed the internet a while back lookiung for justifications for the EU. The Independent had put together a list of 50 in 2007 entitled “So, what has Europe ever done for us? Apart from…”, I think they need to revisit the list of benefits as many have crashed and burned (2. Once poor countries like Ireland, Greece and Portugal prospering) while others are simply comical (2. Democracy is flourishing in 27 countries).

        I wouldn’t have treat the list seriously in 2007 let alone now. I still don’t know what the overwhelming benefits to us are compared to what we have lost and given away, My grandparents and great uncles, those that survived, would be disgusted.

        • sjb
          Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          But you have to look beyond the headings, David. For example, under Democracy is flourishing in 27 countries :
          “Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the EU’s 10 ex-Communist countries are parliamentary democracies. None of these nations were truly free in the decades following the Second World War. Each is now a democracy anchored within the EU and is unlikely to change course.”
          Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/so-what-has-europe-ever-done-for-us-apart-from-441138.html

          The countries you list, despite recent events, are considerably better off than before they joined the EU. For instance, GDP per capita in Ireland is $2,500 more than in the UK.
          Source: CIA World Factbook

          • David Price
            Posted September 4, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

            I looked beyond the headings – neither of those, nor the rest of the list, are reasons for us to be involved with the EU experiment in the way we are considering the costs in terms of funds and lost freedoms.

            From wikipedia (apologies) – “Democracy is a form of government in which all people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives”. It’s a big stretch to say it is flourishing in the EU, or is it the ability to vote in someone who has no influence anyway on the decisions and laws determined by the council that makes it a flourishing democracy? I am happy for those citizens in countries which now have a less restrictive government though I suspect they would retain their democracies even if they left the EU, but what benefit is it that to us. A key aspect of a democracy must be the rule of law and that no-one is above it yet the EU leadership breaks it’s own laws on a whim, so much for democracy.

            GDP is no measure of prosperity considering it includes government expenditure – give Labour a couple of months and they’d borrow enough to become world leader in GDP per head.

            The people to blame for the EU failure and anti-EU attitude in this and other countries are not the “little Englander” or local equivalent. It is those in Brussels and beyond who took what could have been a community of trade and co-operation and turned it into a power game providing career extensions for themselves. I suspect we are at the point where no-one can change the EU since so many members are gross beneficiaries, so for our own sake we need to leave or for the EU to implode.

            At the very least we need a return to democracy where we decide how their rules apply to us, along the lines advocated by John in a recent thread.

            I wrote my comment in the context of Lifelogic’s question – Does anyone have any reasons beyond the bogus “we trade a lot with them” and “we need to have a say at the table” I have heard no one put any they just pretend to be against then make concession after concession.

            That question still stands, I haven’t found an accessible or worthwhile set of reasons for the reality of the EU as opposed to it’s advertising hype. I would be interested in seeing something, anything, that justifies the EU to me as a taxpayer and citizen.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        I visualise that “we need to have a say at the table” argument taking an increasingly dangerous twist, as over time the table where the decisions are made will gradually become the one in the back room where the eurozone states or “euro group” now meet, not the one in the EU anteroom where the representatives of the non-euro EU member states are also allowed to sit.

        I’ve read somewhere that in the late 1990’s when he was Chancellor Gordon Brown assumed that he could sit in on a meeting of what was then called the “Euro-X”, and he had to be almost physically restrained from doing so, and this is from 2008:

        http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/66901

        “The chairman of the euro group of finance ministers said Gordon Brown had to “beg to be let into the room” where crisis talks took place place last week.

        Luxembourg finance minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the group warned the Prime Minister he could be excluded from future talks on the European recovery as long as Britain remained outside the single currency.

        Asked whether he thought Britain would now join the 15 countries who have adopted the euro, Mr Juncker said: “For the government leader of a big country it cannot be pleasant to invite himself into a meeting and then to have to leave the meeting when those who are sharing their currency make the ­decisions.””

        Yet as far as I can discover there was actually nothing in the EU treaties in force at that time to permit this euro group to meet separately and to involve EU institutions, namely the Commission and the ECB.

        That legal base only appeared with this protocol, which came into force with the Lisbon Treaty on December 1st 2009:

        http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12007L/htm/C2007306EN.01015301.htm

        The words “pending the euro becoming the currency of all Member States of the Union” spring out from that text, and I’m sure that eventually UK ministers would get tired of sitting outside the main meeting with just the representatives of the most recently joined EU country or two for company.

        • sjb
          Posted September 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          I think the Eurogroup was a 1997 decision of the European Council [1]. In paragraph 44: “[t]he Ministers of the States participating in the euro area may meet informally among themselves to discuss issues connected with their shared specific responsibilities for the single currency. The Commission, and the European Central Bank when appropriate, will be invited to take part in the meetings.” [2]

          [1] European Council consists of the elected heads of state/government of the Member States + Commission President + Council President [this is for the benefit of readers not as learned in the ways of EU as you, Denis]
          [2] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/032a0008.htm

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted September 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, very interesting.

            However to continue to be pernickety – evidently there was and there is nothing in the EU treaties to prevent a group of EU member state governments holding meetings among themselves, but in the absence of any legal base in the EU treaties as approved by national parliaments I would question whether the members of the European Council had any lawful authority to decide that EU institutions could become involved in those meetings.

            But this is how the eurocrats like to proceed – execute what is in effect a revolution by doing something for which they have no legal authority under the treaties, or which is even prohibited by the treaties, and then subsequently amend the treaties to legitimise what they’ve already been doing.

            Sometimes it’s a very small and hardly perceptible revolution, as in this case, but occasionally it’s a major revolution, as in the case of the two decisions taken on May 9th 2010.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      “And one for individual MP’s, If you are going to be the whips lobby fodder say so.”

      I broached the lobby fodder phenomenon with an ex-Labour spin doctor I know .

      He explained it was due to the majority of M.P.’s considering being an M.P. above all else “a job” and their “employer” to be their party , not the electorate .

      We all know what happens in the real world if you make a habit of defying your employer .

      Mate of mine stood as an independent candidate . The local MP there (Labour in this case) had not opposed the party line even once in 10 years .

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        ” the majority of M.P.’s considering being an M.P. above all else “a job” and their “employer” to be their party , not the electorate .”

        Indeed they do and they are quite logical – under the current system party loyalty is better rewarded than responding to the electorate – democracy it is not by any measure and that is even before you consider the EU influence.

    • Stephen W
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree. Spin sounds like a good idea in the short term, but in the long term it will come back to bite you.

      The public don’t mind actually when politicians cock up in minor ways. They know everyone does. They dislike much more when politicians massively cock up and then just lie and lie and lie about it even when it’s blatantly obvious.

      As much as it may be painful on this day or that, over the long term honesty is the best policy.

  4. Martin Cole
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I do not believe that the public, nor even past or present members of your party, are asking whether you are “whether you are a traditionalist or a moderniser” within that party or could care much either way, that even you do not know the answer.

    What we are asking, in the face of a now plainly obvious near terminal breakdown of the institution which your party has supported since the leadership of Harold Macmillan, is that you declare your position on the best course for our country, in the face of this terminal failure, or failing that, at least demand of your own party leadership, that they confront and address the crisis facing the 27 former nations of most of Wetsren Europe, and indicate what preparations thay are making for the several widely varying potential outcomes.

  5. lifelogic
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The unifying factors for conservatives should be smaller government, smaller taxes, good defence, a return to democracy and to, free trade only, with the EU, control of our own laws and courts, a sensible system of law and order (which includes some real deterrents), energy and transport systems based on science/engineering and not the green religion, a basic safety net for those who need it – not generation after generation living of others on benefits, sound banks and a sound currency and control of our own borders as we see fit.

    Also the general belief, that people spend/invest their own money far better than the state does. Cameron, Clark, Clegg, Cable, Osbourne, May, Huhne and very many of the rest clearly have no such beliefs.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      What about free chips and petrol? Reading this sounds good. On the ground we would see an even more divided and isolated society with laws for the rich and pollution being acceptable. Well not near you house anyway. ‘Control of our borders as we see fit’ What do you propose? A moat…

      • A different Simon
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        We don’t have to pull up the draw-bridge just be in control of it ourselves .

        You are aware that immigration policy has via the EU been privatised and that transnation corporations decide who can come into our country via the I.C.T. visa route ?

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        “we would see an even more divided and isolated society” Why?

        Nonsense we would see the complete opposite and increasing affluence for all.

        • zorro
          Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          Mode 4 on the EU – India treaty will also bring in cheaper labour into ICT positions…but don’t worry because quid pro quo the Indians will grant the banks access to their financial markets and their populace….oh wait.

          zorro

          • Bazman
            Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            Skint Indians/Chinese/Russians are not going to happen

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 4, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        How on earth did we manage for all those centuries prior to January 1st 1973, without having foreigners tell us what to do?

    • Samuel
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t have put it better myself!

    • uanime5
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Climate change is based on science, so our energy policies are based on good science. The fact that you don’t like their conclusion doesn’t make it a ‘green religion’.

      Yet again you have failed to grasp that if there aren’t enough jobs for everyone then people will remain on benefits. Unless the Government gives more help to people on benefits they will continue to remain unemployed.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        You say “Climate change is based on science, so our energy policies are based on good science. The fact that you don’t like their conclusion doesn’t make it a ‘green religion’.”

        Any decent engineer can show clearly that the solutions they offer, wind farms, PV cells, electric cars and the rest simply do not work anyway – even if you do accept the Carbon theory.

        C02 is only one of millions of factor controlling the climate. How can controlling just one variable alone control the climate? It is bogus science. C02 clearly is rising and clearly influences the climate but to project for 100 years on this basis is totally bogus.

        Is it easier to predict the weather on Friday week or in 100 years time? They cannot even do the former – so why do you think they can do the latter?

        Why are the vocal (though often not in their actions) proponents of this green religion such as Prince Charles also often keen on “Alternative” medicine or being protector of all faiths. It is a religious/political movement with a fake scientific veneer.

        Anyway it clearly seems to have stopped in 1998 according to scientific measurements.

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    JR: “Most of them are not trying to get you to believe the EU in its current shape is a good thing.”

    By appearing to be doing nothing and saying little, if anything, publicly about the EU they are failing in their intentions. I would wager that there will be no serious discussion about the EU at the Conservative party conference either.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      “I would wager that there will be no serious discussion about the EU at the Conservative party conference either.”

      Certainly not in the main area you can be sure of that. Nor any serious discussion on the green energy nonsense, nor “migration”, not the failure to cut government, expenditure and regulation.

  7. norman
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I have no idea what a modern or traditional Conservative is – to me you are either a conservative or a statist, take your pick.

    As to what wins elections that’s the easy part – successful government wins elections, poor governance loses them. That’s why Labour won three elections, I imagine it had little to do with the nuances of policies they had or the Conservatives had. The country (apparently) was motoring along nicely, boom and bust was ended, we were investing like never before, what wasn’t to like?

    Then reality bit and you could have put a rabbit with a blue rosette up against Gordon Brown and he wouldn’t have won. The campaign was a shocker, and the TV debates baffling, but even then Cameron managed to win.

    So we can ignore the NHS reforms, free schools, benefit reform, what have you, unless someone makes an absolute shocker then these things won’t matter so much as to how we feel the country is going ahead (or not) in four years time.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Cameron failed to win he managed to loose and now has Cable, Huhne and the rest to handicap him not that he needs much more of a handicap.

    • oldtimer
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      The situation is, I believe, even more confused because the Conservative party of old has been infiltrated by ex SDP and covert (and not so covert) Greens. Cameron`s successful bid for the leadership was a remarkable coup. It has enabled these alien influences to mould Conservative policy in ways which many long standing supporters of the Conservatives find unsatisfactory to the point of unacceptable. Cameron`s Green agenda, cosying up to Brussels, dismantling of the armed services, failure to meet promises on government spending while expanding spending on foreign aid, for me, fall into the unsatisfactory to unacceptable category.

      In this context the use of language like “old-fashioned” or “moderniser” are merely adjectives employed to tarnish or buff the image that someone wishes to portray. It is widely employed in British politics to distinguish positions in an increasingly one party state. New Labour used it extensively to rubbish their opponents. For example opponents of increased immigration were described as racists; at the same time, according to my reading of Chris Mullin`s memoirs, New Labour ministers themselves were extremely worried about it. The use of the adjectival to label opponents is, more often than not, an exercise in camouflage to conceal ones own real views and to discredit the opposition.

      • sjb
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Consider the Conservative share of the vote in 21st C general elections: William ‘save the pound’ Hague, 31.7%; IDS, ditched before the 2005 general election; and Michael ‘are you thinking what we’re thinking?’ Howard, 32.3%. Surely Cameron won the leadership because his opponent (David Davis) was yet another right-winger.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 4, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          Any guess what would have happened in the 2001 election if the Tory leader had been Cameron rather than Hague?

          • sjb
            Posted September 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think Cameron was even an MP in the 2001 general election campaign, Denis. But I suspect your point is that even if someone from the Left of the Party had been leader the Conservatives would still have lost. I agree, but I suggest someone like Ken Clarke would have done better because he had cross-party appeal, enough to outweigh losses from any anti-Clarke Tory voters lost to UKIP or who failed to vote. Furthermore, it is submitted that Clarke’s correct judgment over the Iraq invasion, his courage in not changing his position on the EU (contrast with Healey over unilateral nuclear disarmament), and not being Michael Howard would also have appealed to sufficient numbers who would not normally vote Tory for him to have won the 2005 election. Arguably, if Clarke had been Leader of the Opposition around 2003 then perhaps the UK’s involvement in Iraq would not have happened at all.

  8. Graham Swift
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Lifelogic has summed it up perfectly. I respect a handful of MPs who I consider honest. The rest are charlatans interested only in lining their own pockets at our expense. They couldn’t give a damn for the rest if us. And sadly this same attitude pervades the whole of local government as well. This country is in terminal decline.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      “sadly this same attitude pervades the whole of local government as well” not just local government. Try getting a sensible and prompt reply (from someone who has read and understood the letter sent) from say the inland revenue for example. It is much worse than it was even just 10 years ago let alone 20. Countless major errors all over the place, half the calls unanswered or answered by people who know almost nothing and often have a limited command of English to compound the problem.

      Many public sector staff regard the public and an inconvenience to their “working” day and often with complete contempt. Hence the phone systems you hold on for ages then get told to get lost and ring back later (you cannot even leave a message).

  9. Bazman
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    ‘God, King and Country.’ God, Man, Horse, Dog, Woman and Rat. Or something like that. Cleggy Dave and Gideon are all multimillionaires who have never had a real job in their lives, have all had private education at elite schools and all, especially Dave, take a lot of expensive holidays on the continent and in the country. Dave and Gideon are married to and related to rich aristocrats. Maybe they just attend parliament in the mornings and attend to private business in the afternoons in a Cafe’? I couldn’t say as I don’t know what hours they keep.
    If you are trying to persuade us that this lot are one nation conservatives and not old Tories then I do not believe this for one second. Supporters of outlaws, robbers and brigands for sure.

    Reply: Ministers are not allowed to attend to private business in the sense of family companies, shareholdings etc.

    • norman
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      The sad thing is Baz you could say the same about the top of the Labour Party as well and it would be equally true! Oh for the good old days of left vs right, then at least we had a choice.

      Now there’s no real difference, you’re kidding yourself if you think that Gordon Brown & Darling / Balls (good chance Darling would be kicked out of No.11 immediately after the election) would have done much different than what we are seeing now.

      Schools policy would have been running at a slower pace (but still following the same principles maybe without the free schools) but other than that there isn’t a lot of difference – benefit reform (Tory’s are simply continuing Labour’s policy), economy, health (or what is left of the health reforms at any rate), armed forces – all these areas there are hardly any difference between the expensively public school Oxbridge PPE Labour Mps and Tory ones.

  10. Ross
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Even what is perceived as traditional conservatism, will contain an element of modernisation as, over time, the party, problems, and society move on.

    Although you do have certain core beliefs that guide you.

    The change is not usually perceptible – just a slow evolution, but over time it is noticeable.

    I think the best approach is to be free of dogma, fixed ideas and (as Woody Allen said) take the approach of “whatever works”

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      What clearly works is more people doing useful things and fewer doing things that are pointless, parasitic or create similar work for other. In other words a much smaller state.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Again give some examples of what you propose to cut to produce this smaller state fantasy. No examples. No credibility.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Here’s one to start you off. The tax credit system. What a waste of time and money why not just have a different tax code? The whole thing is just taking the piss. Gave my information on Friday. How anyone is supposed to know all they ask is very difficult unless you are in one steady job, any benefits, other jobs, childcare costs and so on make it a nightmare. They say they will check for false information, so they must know anyway. Getting through on the 0845 number at peak times is impossible, but you have to listen to a recorded message anyway. I found a number to avoid the 0845 making the call free.What if you have only a mobile?
        Since this 45 minute call I have been sent 6 letters. My wife receiving the same letter to the same address. Each letter dated the same saying I am getting some money and another saying I am not.
        If you rely on this money you would be pulling your hair out. Seriously. I am not bad with this type of bureaucracy, but I bet many desperate people just give up. If you predict you will earn more than you do then the next year you will get the credits cut the following year. Good fun if you live on the financial edge as many do.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Unless the private sector magically creates jobs a smaller state means more people on welfare.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          Release the people they will certainly create the jobs magic is not needed.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            Magic may not be needed but funding would either of the benefit system or the police. Do you seriously think they would take this lying down?
            Do tell us how you fund to cut or fund these benefits to enable your small state low tax fantasy as this is pivotal to this. If you cannot answer this you should stop singing your hymns.
            The majority will be on the dole costing the state large amounts in benefits. You plan to cut these benefits I presume to force them in some way to find work, any work? Thousands of desperate people looking for work. Will it be you?
            Maybe they could all open a wine or antiques shop or some other middle class fantasy? Or they could go on to become the next Honda or Bill Gates. Or a romantic British peasant living off the land listening to sermons on the small low tax state and how good it is for everyone.

  11. Stewart Knight
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    This old canard is back on the agenda. It is being placed there by the Leader of the Opposition, seeking to portray the Prime Minister as “same old tory”.

    It makes your heart sink?

    It makes my heart sink when I hear this rubbish with Tories, especially leaders, frightened of people accusing them of following policies of Thatcher. Let Milliband and the like make this accusation, and so what? What are Tories, of any hue, frightened of? They allow them to make this agenda an issue.

    They should stand up and say yes, I am a Tory and so what?

    But no, lily livered cowards that they are, they are frightened of losing votes of people who would never vote for them anyway.

    The Tory leadership should grow a backbone and gain million of votes by proclaiming they are going to be tough, they are going to get rid of the BBC etc. etc. but they won’t, because they are as much in the pocket and sucking up to the likes of Mandelson as anyone else. They are out of touch with the people that put them in power, and like every other public body from police to NHS they have forgotten that they are there to serve us first and themselves second if at all, not the other way round.

  12. NickW
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The biggest Conservative failure is to educate the public into the concept of lowering tax rates to increase tax revenue and increase the amount of tax paid by the rich.

    The Labour and Lib Dem view that the rich should be “punished” for their success is one that should condemn both these parties to the dustbin of history.

    In the area of taxation, although not in Government, Labour is still being allowed to set the agenda. This is not only patently absurd; it is condemning the country to poverty and failure

    • uanime5
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      Lower taxes = people pay less taxes. The rich will not pay any tax they can dodge, no matter how little it is.

      The rich are rich because they pay their staff so badly; often with the level of income between the highest and lowest paid worker being over 1,000 times higher. Until the rich accept that anything higher than a 10 fold difference between the highest and lowest paid workers is unacceptable the rich deserve to be punished.

      • Stewart Knight
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Total, ideological, and discredited repeatedly rubbish.

        Go back to your tofu butties and sixth form play room child.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        They can only pay them a little if they have no better job to go to. The reason they have not better options is due to the over large parasitic state sector, over regulation, over taxations and high green energy prices.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          There can never be more cleaning jobs than cleaners and often cleaners are cleaners not because it is their career choice. They do not have better options because they are cleaners and employers pay them the minimum they can get away with whatever regulations taxes, energy prices are. Better to be a state employed cleaner than work for a private company. Maybe they should all go self employed? Billing the employers real rates of labour in that area and for all materials/equipment used and travel costs. London would be about twenty quid an hour by my guess. Will not be much work at that price. So now read from the start again.

  13. Caterpillar
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I suspect an underlying problem is that there are many politicians, in particular senior ones, who view their role as to – put their party in power, or to keep their party in power. Now, if there is a single absurd policy or mistaken image associated with a party then the role a leading politican can take to correct this is important, but once the obvious (even if difficult) have been modifed then the role should be one of solving problems, not of attaining power for the sake of it, or carrying on idealogically irrespective of context.

    There are several things that I see wrong with the coalition government and the opposition, but what I admire at the moment is that the coalition has to some extent tried to focus on problems, and that ex-Labour ministers such as FF & AM have made inputs. I do think some of the policies are stupidly wrong (particularly serious is the backtracking on NHS and allowing the BoE to continue its unstated nominal growth rather than inflation target.)

    In summary, too many politicians seem to see power as an objective and not as a means, in so doing they can (i) miss alternative means of achievement, (ii) put off other problem solvers from becoming politically active, (iii) develop vote buying policies and (iv) bend to media criticism even when they oughtn’t.

    Simply view power as A means, and, as JR says, “wrestle” with the problems.

    • norman
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I imagine for a significant number of politicians getting themselves in power comes above getting their Party in power – as evidenced by a number of Conservative MPs jumping ship to Labour over the last dozen years!

  14. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I do think, that what characterises our current prime minister is that he has never before held a portfolio.

    The fact that he is also in coalition with the Lib Dems who never seriously thought that they would be in power is a double whammy.

    Your topic also shows the poor grasp of actual policy coming from the Labour party, unless it is to ensure that they do not win the next election either.

  15. Acorn
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    To: Supreme Commander; Galactic Commerce Ministry
    From: Director of Cognitive Psychology; Earth Station Zebra. (Please leave parcels at the International Space Station for customs plus biological health and safety requirements)

    Dear Mr Redwood. I thank you for your Freedom of Galactic Information request. I reply in the order of your questions.

    Introducing a species on this planet with high cognitive ability and high dexterity,was frankly a mistake. A mistake compounded by giving them limbs that enabled them to manufacture tools as complex as its cognitive ability could “think up”.

    The original plan was to introduce high cognition into the bird species. Any consequences of it getting out of control would have then been limited by pecking with Bills and defecating on other species from a great hight. It is difficult to construct an AK 47 self loading carbine with a beak and two webbed feet. But, they would have been able to record their thinking; pecked on cave walls probably.

    We do not know how many species are left. We are pretty sure that 99.9% of everything we put on this planet is extinct. Unfortunately, the species we were using to count the species has recently joined the 99.9%. I would not recommend introducing any high cognition high dexterity species on any other of our planets without a major rethink of the planning policy framework.

    Yes; we should have stopped at the Great Apes stage. They could have been taught to be excellent Gold miners and operate standard galactic machine tools.

    I would recommend that we just leave Earth to decay naturally. There is little evidence that any of the cultural systems developed, are sustainable in the long term. Everything appears to depend on the future being much bigger than the past. Also, the future has to pay for the present. Concepts which are futile in galactic experience.

    It would appear that circa 4 billion was the sustainable population for this planetary development model. Naturally we must prevent any off planet contamination occurring to our other galactic assets, including space debris that has been launched from here.

    The concept of random development with periodic selection, works well on this planet. In fact, impacting with large asteroids etc., to perform the selection, is no longer required. The high cognition species (humans), have developed their own selection processes; big ones they call “world wars”. 😉 😉 😉 .

    • outsider
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes and, ironically, few in the West would bet against the next world war starting with an attack on the Supreme Galactic Commander’s adopted tribe. Still, the acorn was a good idea.

  16. Bazman
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I see America is suing British banks for selling dodgy mortgage products sold on but ultimately paid for by people who in reality could not afford them in the long term. The banks should sue the likes of Fred Godwin whose (bad characteristics-ed) put them in this position in the first place. Sitting in his drawing room wondering where it all went right for himself and wrong for everyone else is not enough.

  17. Mactheknife
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I have mentioned the fact on a previous thread that I was a first time Conservative voter at the last election as I turned away from Labour. I did so on the understanding that I would see some “traditional” conservative policies introduced, some of which may be painful to some sections of the population. I expected changes on benefits, immigration, crime, hunam rights, climate change, Europe and even taxation, although this would be limited in the circumstances. So far I have not really seen any significant policy changes. You may disagree with that view and argue that there are new policies and change on the way.
    What I’ve witnessed so far is in my view a stranglehold by the LibDems who on the announcement of any new policy immediate issue veiled threats through the media. So I would argue that Cameron and the Conservatives in general are neither tradionalist or modernisers.

  18. Matt
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    It is disappointing when the leader of the opposition talks in such terms.

    He says that the G20 should be brought forward….good start then it gets a bit vague

    “Speak with one voice”

    “Kick start the economy”

    “Invest” ……………….code for borrow?

    “Global plan for growth”

    If Mr Milliband was a satnav – you would return him to the shop – what exactly, is he proposing? His statements wouldn’t get him a grade c in a GCSE economics paper, even with grade inflation.

    I would like to see an interviewer of the like of Brian Walden (weekend World years ago) take EM to task

    Mr Cameron is lucky that he has EM as leader of the opposition.

    • Stewart Knight
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more, so why isn’t Cameron trawling around every TV station saying this like Thatcher and her government used to?

      Lily livered cowards and far too much friends with their opposition, who will go for the jugular every time regardless of how dishonest the point may be.

  19. Paul
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    The problem with labelling Tory MPs as modernisers or traditionalists is that it’s too simplistic and the meaning of those labels is far too broad and vague. Many people who still regard the Tory party as the ‘nasty’ party associate this with traditionalists. To get rid of this image Cameron will only have MPs who are modernisers or pretend to be modernisers. Could you honestly imagine Peter Bone, Philip Holobone, Philip Davies or indeed yourself John, being offered a job in Cameron’s cabinet? Traditionalists do not fit in with the modern conservative party. Those who have a track record of opposing things like the minimum wage, gay rights, continuing membership of the EU have no chance of a top job in the modern conservative party. I don’t know if you would like a job in the cabinet, John, but I don’t think any offers will be coming your way! Although, I am surprised that IDS has made it into the cabinet. It’s interesting to note that the cabinet member who is performing by far the best, IDS, is the most traditionalist in the cabinet while the useless Justice Secretary, who might as well be a Liberal Democrat, is performing the worst. Unfortunately, especially with the new intake of MPs, I think this is how the party is going to stay and those with more traditionalist views will gradually be frozen out of the party for good unless you agree to change your stance on a number of things.

    • Bazman
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Those opposing policies like gay rights, woman’s rights and the minimum wage have no place in mainstream politics and need to be frozen out. They are bigots not ‘traditionalists’.

      • zorro
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        So you are a bigot if you oppose the minimum wage….a bigot. Let’s get this right, you think that someone who thinks that setting a minimum wage, which may have the effect of creating less jobs and stopping people from earning money as they wish, is wrong and a bigot.

        Well, you must think that the governments of Austria, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Sweden amongst others are bigots by that definition.

        Bazman, what does the dictionary say about a bigot? – a person who is obstinately devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices (Merriam – Webster). Who could that be?…..oh wait

        zorro

        • Bazman
          Posted September 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          Nearly three-quarters of EU Member States have some form of statutory national minimum wage. In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Sweden – the remaining six ‘old’ EU Member States as well as in Norway and Cyprus, collective agreements are the main mechanism used for regulating low pay.
          Working for a pound hour is acceptable for the individual and the state? Absolutely not, and if you think it is you are wrong. This would be the exploited position of many if this legislation did not exist. If you cannot pay six quid an hour in Britain your business is not viable. Any business would be viable if labour costs were low enough. What next the right to work without any health & safety legislation to lower costs and earn money? You are fighting for the right to be exploited, but it will not be you for sure. That is bigotry.

          • zorro
            Posted September 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Oh no…..I was thinking 10p an hour and living on the street….I mean really, have you no vision? If there was a sensible immigration control, employers would have to pay the market rate for someone’s employment without the state subsidising the employer or employee, and the market economy would get in balance over time. Taxes could then be even lower and private money could be invested in business ventures and jobs get created far more efficiently than government in providing services. Do you get the picture?

            I really do not understand this socialistic mindset which states that there is a finite number of jobs and business activity. Do you have such a low opinion of human behaviour that the rich will supposedly hoard all the money and starve the supposed poor? If you are going to have a successful economy, people need to be paid money to spend in it, so it will happen otherwise they won’t be able to conduct business profitably or they will have to lower prices.

            I was wondering when the health and safety comment would come up…Yes, send those children up the chimneys!

            ‘You are fighting for the right to be exploited, but it will not be you for sure. That is bigotry.’…….No, I am not, I want all people within their ability to have the right to self respect through paid employment and individual responsibility.

            You are right though, I wouldn’t be exploited….If they did, I would carve the sign of the ‘Z’ in their bellies!

            zorro

  20. Mike Fowle
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree very much with you, Mr Redwood. My heart sinks when I read that there is an anti tory unit at Labour intent on presenting a negative image. The refreshing thing about David Cameron is that he is not bound by traditional beliefs or remedies but is willing to try new ideas. For all his faults so was Tony Blair originally, except that he was controlled by a party of bigots and narrow minded sectional interests. But Labour still seems obsessed with spin. The even more depressing thing is that it works. The media in this country is so lazy and ignorant that it simply spreads the account it’s given, appealing to the prejudiced and already decided.

  21. pipesmoker
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    JR as a longstanding Tory voter I have read your post several times, it is clear you have no answer and whilst politicians are led by fickle public opinion they will struggle to govern. We need leaders we can believe in and there are none just those seeking re-election by pandering to public opinion.

    The last great parliamentarians were Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher was a close second. Both suffered the same fate, I postulate for their honesty on this country’s membership of the Common Market/EEC/EU and I consider your career has suffered for this reason too?

    I decided to stop voting before the last general election and until someone like Powell or Thatcher emerge and awaken my interest in politics I will abstain.

    This country needs to be led rather than consulting the sheep and the sheep will follow? You are erudite enough but are you the man enough for the job or would you want to?

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      The polesters only consult the sheep to find out what they have absorbed from their diet of propaganda dressed up as news , education and revisionist history .

      Those under 35 years of age know little else . Time is on the elites side .

  22. Horatio McSherry
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    John, it doesn’t matter what label anyone gives Cameron – or the rest of the cabinet for that matter – what matters is that he’s just another Blair, another New Labourite. After the last election people were miffed when they voted Conservative and got a coalition; I never agreed with that, as that’s what happens in politics sometimes. However, if you voted Conservative in the last election you’d feel absolutely betrayed as the Conservative memebers of the cabinet are not Conservatives or conservatives – they’re New Labour “progressives” and have the same outlook on (big) government.

    People voted Conservative because they thought a Conservative government would get a grip on spending (ie our taxes), cut bureaucracy, and to undo all the social ills that a “Socialist” government had enforced on the country. They’ve got none of those things.

    Why do you think UKIP are getting more and more support from historically Tory voters?

    Reply: They didn’t in 2010 – they couldn’t even win Buckingham where there were no candidates for the main parties, and where they made their big push.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 4, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Well, Bercow was publicly endorsed by Cameron, and Farage was just beaten into third place by a man who was previously the Tory MEP for the Thames Valley, now a Liberal Democrat after being a Pro Euro Conservative, who stood at the suggestion of a previous Tory MP for the constituency and who was publicly endorsed by both the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates in 2005 and also by the man in the white suit, Martin Bell, for God’s sake, who represented himself to the Buckingham electorate as being the candidate for the “Buckinghamshire Campaign for Democracy”, and who in one of his campaign videos even had the brass neck to go into a shop and ask for “A pound of humbugs”, when he must have known that thanks to the EU it would have been illegal for the shopkeeper to have weighed out a pound for him.

      Reply: Exactly – UKIP’s final humiliation was to come in behind a pro Euro who resigned from the Conservative party because it was too Eurosceptic.

  23. Tom
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    We can all think of ministers who will say anything which is “correct policy” when they don’t really believe it. Of others who, if you know something about their subject, talk factual nonsense. Of some MPs who are so generally ignorant/biassed that listening to them is an embarassment. This, and snouts in the trough (eg “legitimate” claims for £9,000 for a TV), is why so many regard politics as a charade. Just as telling is the media’s tendency to portray those who do know what they are talking about (eg JR and Bill Cash) as boring andnot worth reporting.

    Life logic, as usual, writes a lot of sense. On his point about dealing with government departments, I know someone who wrote two recorded delivery letters to the Dept. of Work and Pensions which, although delivered, could not be traced when he telephoned. He then wrote to his MP, who forwarded the correspondence to the Minister of State – and five weeks later he still has not had a reply. The depressing point is that, when he recounts the story, no one is surprised.

  24. Bernard Otway
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    John your answer to Horatio bears no resemblance to the Current situation,May 6 2010
    is now but a memory and the promises and policies in the campaign having NOT been implemented,the landscape politically has changed very very much.If you check my constituency and ask him Brian Cowle the Chairman [former] of the Conservatives in council
    is now an independent along with two other councillors,also Brian acknowledges that he actually voted UKIP on May 6,the only reason he tells me he has not declared for UKIP is that
    he stood as a conservative in 2009 and he feels conscience bound to be an independant,he actually is also joining UKIP.Looking at the two English bye elections this year the conservative vote Collapsed while the UKIP vote increased and in Barnsley we came SECOND,the next general election will see IMHO UKIP increase it’s vote by more than double,and if the EU catastrophe keeps carrying on,which it will do as it is as inevitable as
    water running downhill,the message that belonging to that awful institution is BAD for all of us in the UK will become very widely known.I believe there is a very good chance of a Gang of much more than FOUR [a la early eighties] happening BEFORE the next election
    as there are so called rebels or free thinkers who know they may have nothing to lose,David Davis would IMHO win no matter what in his constituency. The label the nasty party actually belongs to LIEBOUR because the consequences of their policies since 1997 have been EXACTLTY THAT, for all, especially their basic CORE voters and the sooner that message is said and explained OVER and OVER again the better,Mrs May should be ashamed of herself for having coined that phrase.A sea change is taking place in politics which you lot don’t recognise ,understand or acknowledge,only those that do can be ready
    to live up to it.BUT mark my words it will surprise everybody,as the old certainties of Right/
    Left or centre are NO MORE ,when I tell my fellow residents all over 70 that foreign aid
    stopped would give pensioners a proper sized pension,they agree with me as well as saying
    that all the foreign aid both government and charitable in the last 50 years SHOULD have
    worked by now,they know that this is a huge corrupt scam,especially when I tell them what personally have seen in my 28 years in AFRICA.

    Reply Dream on, as UKIP have been doing for years.

    • Andrew
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      I voted Tory for the first time ever at the last election. Having grown up in an ex mining town on free school meals, that is akin to aconviction for child abuse.

      Having reached a level of maturity and met enough of the general public to realise that welfarism was why I was on free school meals, I votedfor change. I got none. It’s worse. This is an extremely left wing , running scared of the Today programme in a way that makes me sick to hear. Spending is RISING. And people are paid to sit at home and watch. When will the Islington lot learn?

      Clearly, beyond Farage, there are a lot of questionable characters, but very few of them are ‘professional political operatives’ and therefore do not depend on The Consensus for seats on the boards of the companies who lobby them in parliament.

      Although I recognise it as Russian Roulette, I may be forced to vote UKIP and return a labour government, which will rapidly bring in the IMF and hopefully some courage back to theconservative party in eight years time.

  25. Andrew
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    The reason why politics is all about these microscopic political ‘victories’ between the Sharks and the Jets is because few in parliament have the courage to do what they and the country know to be right.

    Instead, they sooth the black ache of absolute failure by pretending that when they successfully label Mr X a racist/elitist/phobe, they deserve to be in government just as much as their forebears and are doing a great job against insurmountable odds. With the exception of a few (including your good self) this must be the lowest quality bunch of
    parliamentarians in 200 years.

    Workfare would change this country overnight. At the very least, welfare bills would drop within 3 months by over a billion pounds and the knock-on effect on the British psyche of ending the rewards for laziness could be extraordinary. Everyone knows this, but no-one in parliament has the courage to challenge the BBC-Labour consensus and make it happen. Yes, the BBC would attack you. They have an absolute monopoly on public thought and the charges of ‘Tories bring back Slavery’ would need men of stature to face down.

    Surely, however, there is more than the one of you on those benches? Obviously not Cameron, who unfortunately really does appear to be the Heir to Blair, but surely someone?

    • sm
      Posted September 4, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      Work-fare

      Some would be grateful of the opportunity, especially if it offered respect and enabled some skills advancement and progression upward.
      But first it must be made that the poorest worker is better off than one who even through no fault of his own is- and we can still have a safety-net.

      I suspect that automation and technology are reducing available jobs along with outsourcing and export of jobs via imports and ‘Free Trade’.

      Traditional or not – Does the conservative party want to govern or be an EU lapdog? Labour make better lapdogs but I want out of the EU.

  26. zorro
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    ‘The new intake is a very Eurosceptic generation of MPs if you study what they said before election.’ (one of your replies on a recent blog).

    Just catching up after a couple of days away…If the new intake is so Eurosceptic we need to know why more of them aren’t putting their votes to good use.

    It is interesting to see the seeming dichotomy between traditionalists and modernisers. One might say that Margaret Thatcher was a moderniser in the way she tried to roll back the state and take on entrenched interests but in some quarters she might have been described as a ‘Manchester Liberal’.

    I actually think of Cameron as a traditionalist in the paternalist tradition of the old Tory party (perhaps some guilt over his wealth and his reactions to the poor) – a seemingly decent well brought up chap who tends to adapt some fashionable views.

    However, in historical terms, he is exactly what we do not need now. We need someone who is committed to bringing the country back from the brink.

    I spoke to someone after the election who knows Cameron well. He thought that Cameron just wanted to be Chairman of the Board of UKPLC for a few years and had no strong beliefs in anything really. In reality, I think that his actions are proving this assertion.

    zorro

  27. Bernard Otway
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    John you are as in the words of that Manfed Mann song “Blinded by the Light”,
    please answer this question on here,are we as a nation better off in or out of the EU,and WHY,
    I talked to my conservative MP and quite frankly he is not a sceptic BUT can not explain what
    we as a nation get out of the EU.
    Another question,given that we in our trade with EIRE sell to them £29 billion per annum
    ALL 4.3 million of them,What SHOULD we sell to the 62 million of Canada/Australia/New Zealand and What SHOULD we sell in total to all the Commonwealth Nations.

    Reply: I have made it crystal clear I think our current deal with the EU is a bad one. It costs too much, regulates us too much, limits our freedom to decide too much. We can trade already with Commonwealth countries and do.

  28. Electro-Kevin
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    “It generates a strange passivity amongst the political classes. It engenders the thought that public opinion is as it is, and so the politicians have to poll the public to find the answers then stick to what the polling says”

    I disagree entirely.

    The political classes have given us radical change in recent years, not passivity.

    The polls to ‘find the answers’ of what people want are a mere sop to molify justifiable public disquiet. If that answer happens to be ‘wrong’ then the poll finding will be ignored.

    A politician ought to stand or fall on his own beliefs – not change with the wind.

    We can take it that a politician who refuses to declare himself a traditionalist is a moderniser.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted September 4, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      The default mode of our political establisment is to go Left.

      Why ?

      It offers both the path of least resistance (in terms of hard decisions at least) and the path to more complexity, delays, prevarication – all of this is covered by state sanctioned deceit, be it on anything from fake prison sentencing to fake GCSE results.

      To be Leftist is to nearly always reject simple answers and to denounce those who believe in them as being ‘simplistic’.

      This both diminishes the intellectual reputations of opponents of Leftism and strengthens the case for more ‘complex’ solutions. This invariably means more bureaucracy which means more empire building, bureaucratic job security and salary hikes.

      The simple answer to problems is usually the right one. Certainly on many of the issues we *try* to talk about here. But this does not suite the bureaucrat and certainly not the bureaucrat tasked with solving the problem; he’d be doing himself out of work if he got the job right in the first place.

      This is also why the default mode for our political establishment is to draw towards the EU which is turning out to be bureaucratic Utopia.

      The politician who does not openly resist this because he is afraid of being called a ‘traditionalist’ (the inference being that he is backward and simplistic) does us no favours.

      Why can’t methods which were known to have worked in the past be tried again ?

      At least now I can see a rationale for why this country appears to have gone stark raving mad. At least I can now see why I am probably more despised by the state than drug pushers, drug takers, lawless travellers or those who took part in the recent riots.

      The afformentioned provide the state with work, not ‘problems’.

      And at least now I think I have finally mastered the spelling of the word ‘bureaucrat’ after all these years.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted September 4, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Then there is the fact that Leftism is a dogmatic religion with all the attendant contortions required reconcile it with the truth or to bend the truth to its needs.

        It is bonkers. It is utterly schizophrenic. It is firmly in power.

        To resist it take real guts and can be a career breaker in politics.

  29. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    A really good post.

    How do we nudge politicians of from looking for ‘the right rules to follow’ to realising their is no substute for being deeply connected to the world around them?

    I think we need to look at how we select politicians in the first place. The SNP are doing it much better because they are quite deliberately selecting candidates with the personal maturity many of ours lack.

  30. Javelin
    Posted September 4, 2011 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Theres nothing new under the sun – so my mum said and I think just as in music, fashion, financial engineering and art we’ve all seen the space of possible options explored. So it’s about policy combinations not policy novelty that matters.

    Political novelty has undoubtedly been to the extremes and back in the 20th century. Today’s the parties struggle to sound unique because so many options have tried and failed. So what’s left is how they combine and how well they are implemented. So I would say you also have to look for novelty in the delivery – such as the Internet. I believe this will be where politics will be heading. It will only take one election to be won by computers to change things forever. Look at The US fund raising. I thing the Conservatives are naturally in the area as it provides a bottom up individualistic implementation rather than a top down state controlled one. Look at Government publishing it’s spending online. It’s a natural conservative policy.

    I’d also say that focus on the family is also a Conservative, but proven formula. As I’ve said several times children need both the unconditional love of a mother (to grow up with confidence and self belief) and the conditional love of the father (to behave considerately and be responsible in society). The recent rioting shows what happens to children who grow up lives with heavily skewed towards unconditional love.

    Finally the term conservative and labour with a small c and small l – should get confused. The parties just have names given a long time ago. The important thing is that both parties evolve and provide relevant and successful policies for the people of the Uk.

  31. Bernard Otway
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    John I have proved myself a prophet in my post above re Australia,all you have to do is read
    page 82 in the Mail on Sunday of today and the article by Dan Atkinson entitled ” let’s take a
    liberating cue from Australia”.That was what I meant,in that trade with the whole Commenwealth SHOULD if necessary replace that with the EU.Also I watched again a Science fiction film on ITV tonight [Sunday 4th] called SERENITY it’s theme ENCAPSULATES the EUSSR and it’s doings EXACTLY,the end results of what “The Parliament” try on one of their planets are very likely in Europe and as other commenters have forecast on your site Revolution is very likely if the people are just ignored and treated as a HOST to a parasitic taxing Entity [Govt either nation state or this evil empire],I see also that Neil Hamilton is standing for office in UKIP.

    Reply: People are always subject to taxing entities called governments. Democracy remains the best way of trying to curb their control tendencies. This site condemns the use of violence.

  32. RDM
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I very much hope politicans of the day can solve our problems, but I then look at the housing market debate, for example, and end up with no respect for the two steps forward, and many steps back approach we end up with! People are suffering with a lack of housing, society is suffering with the lack of stable homes being built!

    Can you really borrow if you don’t own a house, how else are people going build a home? Do we really need the State to do this for us?

    PS: What does “social” in “social liberalism” mean?

  • 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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