Conservatives can win the 2015 election

Yesterday Tim Montgomerie wrote a depressing piece on Conservative Home, reporting the views of Number 10 stating that Conservative victory in the 2015 election would be difficult if not impossible, and that a further period of Coalition with the Lib Dems might be the best outcome. This pessimism was based on the inability of Conservatives to win more than 36% of the vote in the last four elections, and the absence of a way of  “transforming the brand” in time for a knock out offer at the next election.

Let us assume Mr Montgomerie did his research well. I have no doubt that the issues raised by Number 10 are serious ones which Conservatives need to address. He mentioned two in particular which do matter a lot. He reported that there are worries the health changes could upset more electors. He quoted a Lib Dem source as saying that Conservative Ministers are not engaged in tackling one of the great evils of our time, unemployment.

I disagree with his statement that there are no people within the Conservative party expressing an alternative which could make a difference for the country, and in due course for Conservative electoral prospects. He is right that there is no figure on the right acting as a challenger or alternative to David Cameron. That is a deliberate choice by some figures on the so called right. They do not wish to be factional, to create an impression of personality based splits. They do not wish to divert the government from its crucial national task of economic recovery and public budget improvement.It is an irony that this is taken by some on the inside as a welcome weakness, rather than as a wise and helpful assistance to a government facing a very difficult set of challenges.

There are a wide range of attractive policies proposed by a range of Conservative backbenchers that could make an appreciable difference to the future of the coutnry, and could boost Conservative poll ratings. Many Conservative MPs do not share the pessimisim about prospects. After all, they argue, the polls were boosted rapidly by using the veto on the EU last December, and were boosted again by the benefits cap policy in January.

There are many ideas bubbling out of the talented 2010 intake on new Conservative MPs, as well as ideas coming from more experienced Parliamentarians. Most Conservatives would like to break the state banks up and get them powering a stronger recovery. Tough action to make the banks work better polls well. Many Conservatives would like a revolution in the energy department, so the UK could offer cheap energy to fuel industrial recovery as well as helping hard pressed household budgets. Polling suggest cheaper energy would be very popular, would relieve the squeeze on incomes  and could be delivered by  market solutions with private sector  investment money.

Many Conservatives want power back from Brussels, as promised in the last Conservative manifesto. Making moves to start to do that would be popular, as the country is now far more Eurosceptic than its Parliament. Tax cuts are always popular. Conservative Ministers should not let Lib Dems pose as the tax cutters, demanding a higher income tax threshold, when Conservatives are yearning for a tax break of any kind and would happily settle for higher thresholds.

Many Conservatives want a Freedom Bill, to reduce bureaucracy to liberate  enterprise to get on with creating more jobs. They want better control of our borders, so more of the jobs go to people already settled here, and want sensible welfare reforms to make it more worthwhile to work. Far from being uncaring about unemployment and people’s prospects for higher incomes, most Conservative MPs I know would list that as one of the most central tasks they wish to promote. In many cases they would say it is the overriding task. When asked about the government,  they are proudest so far of the welfare reforms being carried through.

Conservative MPs wish Andrew Lansley well with the health reforms. They were unhappy about the way the Lib Dems forced a pause and then changes in them.  Mr Clegg had after all  signed up to the whole package and  signed a ringing   recommendation of them in the original White Paper. Conservatives have no difficulty with giving more power to Doctors to make choices for their patients. They are becoming more nervous about the bureaucratic changes being forced on the government by Lib Dem and special interest pleading. It would be wrong to think the health reforms were some incubus designed by the Conservative right. Most Conservative MPs are entirely pragamatic about the reforms, wish them well, and do not wish them to do any damage (nor do they do any damage by design). All Conservative MPs I know are wedded  to the funadamental popular principle of the NHS, free at the point of need. The government did not embark on these reforms to placate the “right”.

All Conservative MPs recognise that the next budget is a crucial event for Conservative and government fortunes. This is the last budget that allows three years to see the beneficial consequences of any of its proposals, and still allows a decent length of time to undertake reform and get it to settle down before the General Election. The budget needs to set the course for faster growth – and therefore for a lower budget deficit – for the rest of the Parliament. The best way to get the deficit down is to promote faster growth and generate many more jobs. If the government does this, the Conservatives could be rewarded with a majority next time. There is no substitute for fixing the roof now it’s raining. I will return to more detailed Budget measures in the days ahead.

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154 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Of course they could win. They should have won last time, and would have, had they not backtracked on the “cast iron guarantee” and put a socialist, big state, pro EU, quack green agenda to the nation.

    What Cameron needs to realise is what people say they want in polls is not what they vote for. They say they want to help the poor, save the planet or might appear heartless (or sensible). But in fact they are not that daft and know only too well how people are cheating the system, they know the NHS could be loads better, they know that public services are poor and that they pay a fortune for them. The know waste is rife and the state sector is often a racket run for the benefit employees and their pensions.

    Also we are lucky in having such a lame duck and Union lap dog as Milliband – but he is not as lame as Brown was at the last election as he called pleasant old ladies Bigots.

    The problem is Cameron has destroyed his credibility, he has policies that are hardly any better than Labour’s and has no small government agenda, will not get a recovery in time as a result and he is way too pro EU (No one can look at him without thinking of his “Cast Rubber promises”.

    He is very polished but under it all he is a big state, pro EU, quack green, socialist. Can he change his spots and if he does would he be trusted?

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      I see that the NHS seems happy to have 13% more deaths on Sundays and weekends and perhaps nights too. This so that staff can get their weekends uninterrupted and their golf in. As we all know the state sector is mainly run for the convenience of the senior staff, especially the “free at the point of use (and thus heavily rationed) public services”.

      I suppose like John Major’s idiotic ERM, CAP, the mad EURO, youth unemployment, and the lack of any recovery – it is just a price worth paying. I just hope non of my family has to pay with their lives.

      • Acorn
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        ERM reminds me of this from Marshal Auerback.
        “Anschluss economics, [Greek solvency edition] plain and simple. Is this too harsh an assessment? Well, when their national interests are at stake, the Germans are perfectly prepared to shed the “good European” persona and play hardball. Think back to how the Bundesbank engineered the departure of Britain from the ERM back in the early 1990s, and you’ve got the template for today. By publicly suggesting that sterling was overvalued and refusing to offer support to the British pound (in contrast to its subsequent defence of the French franc), then BUBA President Helmut Schlesinger virtually assured the UK’s ejection from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Let’s face it: history shows that Germany doesn’t do “subtle” very well. This looks like (hard ball-ed), plain and simple. Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy – you have been warned.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        “I see that the NHS seems happy to have 13% more deaths on Sundays and weekends and perhaps nights too.”

        How does this compare to private hospitals?

        • Bazman
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          When the private insurance runs out or complications set in such as in sight correction operations. The state takes over. All a bit like nuclear power or the railways. Just a private enterprise fantasy backed by the taxpayer banking being the biggest fantasy of all.
          He says the state sector is a racket run for the benefit of employes and their pensions. What in that case who is many of these fantasy private sector companies a racket for. Certainly not the employes or the share holders. If the banking sector is not ‘big state’ then what is? All the fault of regulations and regulators? What part did banking and bankers play in this scam.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          They do not usually do A&E emergencies, but if they did I hope they would make sure they had the right people on at the right times to meet demand as most businesses do they should respond to “paying” customers.

          Rather than an NHS rationing system.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Also if people thought they would win the next election – it would, of itself, do much for the recovery and business confidence.

      • Mick Anderson
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Also if people thought they would win the next election – it would, of itself, do much for the recovery and business confidence.

        Perhaps:- “if people thought they deserved to win the next election….”

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          They do not deserve to win they are just not quite as bad as the alternative.

          • Timaction
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            So what is on the minds of most voters after 21 months of Coalition rule?
            Immigration – all spin and no action Green. (large numbers of migrants still coming in -ed) but nothing has changed. How many illegal immigrants removed? Action not words is needed. 1000,000 young people unemployed as jobs taken by Eastern Europeans on minimum wages at vast expense to all our public services.
            EU – budget up to £11 billion for the benefit of foreign infrastructures and farmers. No repatriation of powers, no reform to the CAP or Fishing and NO In/Out referendum. The veto was all about preventing a referendum nothing more, as we now know. There is nothing in the EU for us other than regulations and costs from foreign dictators. We bailed out Greece so they could staff a 100,000 standing army and buy German submarines and French jets!
            Foreign aid still being dished out to the tune of £11 billion to places like the indian sub continant where they have large military presence, space and nucleur programmes. There choice instead of feeding their poor. No one other than a few leading Coalition members agrees with this ridiculous policy. Get out of Westminster and ask. It doesn’t even buy influence so that they buy our jets!!
            Public spending up.
            Direct and indirect taxes up.
            More windmill tax on our energy bills (10%).
            No wage rises and inflation at over 5%.
            I think unless u turn Dave is replaced with a Tory the Conservatives don’t have a lot of chance.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Gordon Brown was the most loathed politician of our generation, Cameron failed to beat him because he did not set out what the Tory party stood for. He was scared to do this because mass immigration might have changed the face of Britain as intended by Blair. What he got wrong was that people of all social classes and nationalities wanted similar things ie appalled by the Iraq war and lies surrounding it, sort out the debt and deficit of the country, less Europe, less immigration and cut welfare. He offered little information about what the Tory party stood for. Ashcroft was right, his campaign was a disaster. Why he would keep Osborne as his political strategist after this defies logic. Unfortunately John, the public do not trust politicians. They give them the benefit of the doubt. Cameron has this and now he does not. He has not acted on the little we thought he promised. He also acts in contrast to his bold forceful statements that he subsequently does a quiet U turn on. The public notice. Even though Brown was loathed the Labour party still got votes in the hope someone would take over from him. I suspect the same will happen next time. This will leave the Tories in opposition. My advice: get a new leader while there is time to settle in and make things happen before the next election. Cameron is a dead duck.

      Clegg was a disaster after his first TV appearance because it became clear he wanted more immigration, more Europe, did not have a clue about the budget as Cable change his mind on a weekly basis and wanted to get rid of our nuclear deterrent in an unstable world where politicians had been convincing us in language of fear about terrorism. Clegg got it spectacularly wrong and hence the Lib Dems got fewer MPs and less of the vote than the previous election.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Cameron could perhaps turn and become a real Tory but he has two problems. Firstly he does not want to as he is clearly genetically at heart a pro EU, soft “fake green” socialist and secondly he has the Libdems twisting his arm (or worse) behind his back anyway.

        He is though a very polished performer and say the right things often, but the message and the reality is even more important.

        On the plus side Labour are hopeless and have a clearly useless leader and are clearly in the state sector union’s pocket and the LibDems stand for everything that no one wants – the EU, green expensive energy, big government, over taxation, over regulation and pointless HS trains.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      I assume, given his track record, Cameron will replace Huhne with another high priest of the quack green energy religion. Would it be too much to ask that we get someone with someone with at least some knowledge of engineering and energy systems perhaps just a good A level in Physics at least. Do they have any engineers or physicists in the commons? If not get one in the Lords and appoint them. We cannot afford any more religion in energy supply.

      Clearly Huhne should have gone mainly for his absurd energy policy years ago. Indeed why on earth was he ever appointed.

      • waramess
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, Windmills are a policy adopted by the civil servants and politicians simply present the policy.

        The problem of replacing Huhn with someone who knows their onions is that if they had no hidden agenda they would not be in favour of what is happening.

        We are, as Margaret Hodge says, ruled by Civil Servants who present their policies through Members of Parliament who are in the main constrained by the party whips.

        Not so very funny, is it?

        For my part I cannot see that it matters who wins the next election because there will be little change; a lot of talk about change of course but nothing will happen without the consent of the Manderins.

        Unfortunately UKIP does not represent a realistic alternative and so we must resign ourselves to more of the same until there is a watershed of some sort.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

          Very depressing but alas probably true.

          You saw the ministers just as ham actor/announcers when Justine Greening made her huge error on the initial costs of HS2. It is hard to see how anyone, who had considered the numbers for even an hours or two, (and she is an accountant) could have made such an error.

          One has the impression they just learn their lines and never think at all.

          So in essence no one at all is protecting the tax payer from the unelected doing what ever they want. Democracy has vanished.

      • Disaffected
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, Cameron is more Lib Dem than most of the socialist Lib Dem party. He has continued with Labour’s plans. He appointed former Labour ministers to report and suggest public service reform and has continued the same reforms Labour had planned. Darling wanted to halve the deficit in four years, Cameron scoffed and ridiculed him. It is now allegedly going to take five years- longer than Darling suggested. The borrowing and spending that Cameron ridiculed Labour for is higher than when Labour were in office. Immigration is higher than when Labour were in office, no change with the EU laws and stealth takeover, crime and disorder is fast becoming a joke with EU soft on crime Clarke at the helm. All Labour need is someone to tell the country and the Tories will be dead ducks like the LibDems. Look at any policy issue and you will find it is not different from Labour’s plans, it is only spun differently by the snake oil salesman Cameron.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          So Cameron is stealing ideas from Labour and is implementing them more ineptly than Labour?

        • Steven Whitfield
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

          Well said – it is pointless fighting for a Conservative victory in 2015 when it will change nothing . All such a victory will achieve is to leave the Osborne /Cameron clique vindicated for they’re ‘modernisation’ agenda….and push the sort of Conservatism favoured by John Redwood another generation away from our grasp.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        So it is Edward Davey MP – yet another PPE and management consultant chap I see. Could we please have some Cambridge or other scientists/engineers for a change, they are far superior and tend to know what they are talking about.

        • Mark
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          As I noted here the other day, the ECC Select Committee lacks anyone with those skills, so DECC policy is not subject to proper scrutiny in Parliament.

        • alan jutson
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic
          Do not know much about Edward Davy, will have to look him up.

          But if as you say he is yet another theory man, who has never ever cut it in the real World, then he will be another lamb to the slaughter to the faceless manderins of Whitehall.

          Could not agree with you more that we need an engineer or scientist who has had commercial experience, who can not only recognise a crap idea when they see one, but who can promote some good ones.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Don’t expect to get any good engineers or scientists who have had commercial experience in the UK, they all go abroad because off the poor opportunities available in the UK.

          • A different Simon
            Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            For once I agree with you Uanime5 .

            It hasn’t always been that way in the UK .

            I noticed a sea change away from maths , computer science , engineering (except financial engineering) and the sciences about 25 years ago .

      • uanime5
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        I doubt having a scientific person as Energy Secretary would help as all scientists says that global warming is real.

        • Mark
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          Actually the consensus is there has been no warming for over a decade. Even UEA agree with that.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          Not true. All scientists, who are worthy of the name, (and not on the Warming pay roll) know that predicting things for 100 year hence, that are as complex and chaotic as the weather, (and without much of the information needed suns output, volcanoes and many more) is just called “guessing”.

          The solutions proposed windmills and the like do not work anyway even if you do accept the absurd projections of doom.

    • Bob
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      @lifelogic
      I might consider voting for the Tories if they keep interest rates artificially low, print a few more billions of QE pounds and promise some more increases in foreign aid.

      But then again maybe not.

  2. Antisthenes
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Commendable wish list but there are too many obstacles in the way to realise many of them. The NHS is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose and inexplicably the majority prefer it that way. The reforms are not the right ones but were a step in the right direction and are now not even much of that as too much has been watered down. A service à la française would have been a much better option with provision and funding a mixture of private and public. Taxes cannot be cut because spending cuts were not deep enough or fast enough. Human rights and much more are out of the hands of the UK government. Repatriation of powers to counter that is not a real Conservative agenda as the PM is not euro-sceptic enough and probably like the Coalition partners not at all. The housing market and lending is in a mess despite efforts to boost both and will continue to be for a considerable time as the economic environment encourages risk aversion. Recession possibly depression is on the cards wreaking growth prospects and putting deficit reduction further behind. Welfare reform although an improvement does not really address the problem of benefits being more attractive than work because it is still too generous. The future does not look Conservative at all and the next election could see them replaced by the left just in time for the economy to start the upturn.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      the NHS needs to be fixed in an iterative way, start by giving the patients forced to wait longer than X weeks a cheque to go private and dock the relevant NHS trust that money, reduce X through time, allow any patient able to prove obvious dirt in their hospital with say their mobile phone camera to email it in and if proven immediately give them the money to go private. Open it all up to competition. Force the money to follow the patient. Allow patients to go to any GP they like not a few dictated by the state, pay GP’s per consultation not per patient. So much of this is the bloomin obvious. Yes the people are attached to the notion of the health service, but they know it lets lots of people down and they would not object to those people being rescued from the nhs. And over time NHS units up their game or shut down, allow the worst hospital units to shut in fact sell this idea as good for the country which it is.

      And so on.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      If the reforms were a step in the right direction doctors and nurses wouldn’t be objecting to them. The Government should have worked with doctors and nurses, rather than against them.

      If you want people to come off benefits then raise minimum wage so it’s more attractive than being on benefits.

      • Paul Greenwood
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        you are 100% wrong
        we are not competitive as it is, raising the minimum wage is not the answer
        reduce benefits, they are meant to be a safety net, not a lifestyle choice

        • Bazman
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Make them more desperate and they will find work. You could not be more wrong. You can be sure ‘Greeny’ (Cos he’s not) has never been on the dole or on benefits. Never mind this will be his only post on this subject.

      • Bickers
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        I think you’ll find that there are vested interests who don’t want any modernisation as it’ll threaten their cost cartel.

        The NHS is like a bottomless pit; there is no limit to how much of our GDP it could gobble up if allowed to.

        There are vast savings to be made without affecting front line services.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

          Like to know what?

  3. Mick Anderson
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The Lib Dems have certainly caused some of the policy trouble that the Conservatives are suffering, and after Mr Brown (in either post), we didn’t need more Socialism.

    However, Mr Cameron seems to be anything but unsympathetic to the Yellow cause. We had enough clues from his actions in Opposition, and it goes some way to explain why there is a Hung Parliament.

    On the few occasions that Mr Cameron has managed to make a statement in tune with the feelings of the Country, we have all ended up feeling let down by the subsequent back-sliding.

    He appears to believe more in lack of change than Conservatism, when what the Country really needs is a radical switch from the failed policies of the previous Administration(s).

  4. John Page
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    An interesting exercise … set out a shopping list and see where the comments focus.

    I will pick up the mention of cheap energy. But the government’s assumption is that it will keep getting dearer.

    1. For senior ministers, “shale” seems to be a word they do not dare to speak. Mr Hendry seems to be left to battle stoically against the PC greenie ethos, alone apart from the Select Committee. Well done, Mr Hendry. But senior ministers are wimping out.

    2. Every energy utility should have to offer a cost plus tariff option for at least gas, related to short term movements in the power price. I gather this is how some at least work in the US. The government will say they rely on the energy companies for infrastructure and various imposts. Let’s have some transparency on the bills. Then we can see what we’re paying for too.

    • Robert K
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Cheap energy is easy – cut taxes and dig up the coal

      • Robert K
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        oh, and don’t shut down perfectly servicable mixed-fuel power stations because they don’t meet some EU diktat, and allow the nuclear industry to do its bit.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          Indeed

      • uanime5
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Digging coal is labour intensive and difficult, so unless you pay high wages for miners don’t expect anyone to dig for coal.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Who’s going to dig up coal cheaply. You?

        • Andy
          Posted February 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          I doubt that the actual wages paid for a modern mining operation make a huge difference to the overall cost. A couple of hundred miners on £40K a year would only cost £8M annually. round it to £10M with overheads.

          Or are you thinking that we would need to employ people with picks to hack the stuff out of the seams and push it back up to the surface in a cart?

      • Bazman
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        We will be needing a reply Rob. Or do you just come out with it?

    • Mark
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      The ECC Select Committee seems to think that its report into shale gas is sufficient: they consider it a potential distraction from pursuing the green agenda.

      Since the report was published, we have had announcements of discoveries amounting to at least 204.6Tcf, nearly 50 times as much as they considered to be “potential reserves” (which are no more than 50% probable on industry definitions). That’s over 60 years of gas supply at current UK consumption rates. Secure supply, in England (giving a counterweight to Scottish “ooor oil”). Large potential import savings, and large potential tax revenues, and large potential cost competitive energy supply that would transform our international competitiveness.

  5. Geoff
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    It will be difficult for the Conservatives to win the next election because of their track record so far. No de-regulation, no tax cuts, no cuts in spending, no growth, no backbone on Europe, no Conservative policies on anything, U turns every other day, HS2 go ahead. \All talk, no action.
    The only thing in their favour is they’re not Labour.

    • Robert K
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      You’ve got it

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Geoff, I agree with everything you say other than the last line. They are Labour by another name. They are implementing many Labour policies whether it be school reform, welfare, pensions, EU. Cameron even appoints Labour ministers to draw up plans for him to enact ie pensions. As if Labour did not muck up all private and public sector pensions in the first place.

    • Michel d'Anjou
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      You have the problem in one. The outcome will be plenty of time to rethink policy in oppostion.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Or Libdem.

  6. ian wragg
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    John, with Cameroon in charge there is not a snowball in hells chance of winning the next election. Until a leader with England and Britains requirements being put first, my vote is on loan to UKIP. Please no lecture on jam tomorrow as it will never happen.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Ian.

  7. ROGER THE PILOT
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    “The best way to get the deficit down is to promote faster growth and generate many more jobs.”

    The first main party to ‘guarantee’ a EU in/out referendum will walk it!

    But, it’s not looking likely! However, you mentioned ‘the lack of Jobs’

    Whenever politicians talk about youth unemployment, invariably they quote the experiences of those who despite having many ‘A’ levels and Degrees, cant find jobs.
    The problem is when there are no jobs; you have educated people willing to take practically anything for extra money to stay afloat even if it means delivering fast food or stacking shelves in the supermarket.
    This then pushes the uneducated out of their working arena and into welfare and onto the streets.
    This is where the trouble starts. These are the people who find it easier to steal and riot than look for non-existent work.
    This problem is not one that be fixed overnight; in fact it will never be totally eradicated whilst we turn out individuals who have no aspirations, low self-esteem, little respect for others and who therefore are considered unemployable.
    The National Literacy Trust conducted a survey of 18000 schoolchildren and discovered that 1 in 3 did not have any books of their own, but I’d be willing to bet they had plenty of DVDs, smart-phones and computer games!
    So, here’s a challenge for all politicians; come up with a idea that would create jobs for those people who may have a distinct lack of education, morbid obesity, or the inability to form complete English sentences?
    Here’s one to get you started.
    Using your Government muscle, ‘talk’ to the heads of the Petrol Companies; those who post massive profits year on year.
    If they were to employ 6 people on the NMW – £6.08 (2 shifts of 3 35hrs) dress them in appropriate branded work ware, to help dispense petrol/oil, windscreen clean and carry out tyre checks to motorists.
    Let’s call them Forecourt Service Staff. As of 2010, there were 8,787 petrol stations in the U.K
    Let’s say 8000 were suitable. That could see some 48.000 young people working full time taking home £200 per week! This would cost the collective Petrol companies £500million which they could off-set against their tax bill. In other words, it would cost them virtually nothing!
    It would also save the Government over £66million by not paying JSA for 26 weeks and get another 48.000 people spending again.
    A simplistic example of a ‘backdoor way’ of Government helping facilitate employment!
    Now, you try.

    Reply: I want a referendum, say so, and vote for it. However, I do not think just offering a referendum would allow any party to “walk it”. Indeed, one of the ironies is that the people who often say that are the very same people who wrongly allege the Conservative party offered a referendum at the last election. If they did how could they have lost?

    • Mazz
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      This is David Cameron in 2009 attacking Gordon Brown for having ‘flip-flopped:

      http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2009/04/Join_our_campaign_for_an_EU_referendum.aspx

      Surely that’s offering a Referendum?

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Indeed a bit rich coming from flip flop, cast rubber, Cameron.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Oh, but you forget that at the instant the Lisbon Treaty came into force it ceased to exist and so it would have been impossible to have a vote on it.

        Cameron did explain that, on November 4th 2009.

        Oddly enough the EU seems to think that it does still exist:

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

        I sent an email to Cameron pointing out that if the Lisbon Treaty no longer existed, as he had claimed, then obviously it couldn’t be added to “the list of treaties in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 (c. 68)”, as intended by section 2 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008.

        So the 2008 Act must be nugatory, and we could simply carry on as if the Treaty of Lisbon had never existed.

        He didn’t answer.

        Reply What Mr Cameron meant I think was the Lisbon Treaty has now been consolidated into the Treaties. There is no particular reason today to seek to renegotiate the Lisbon amendments to the total Treaties, when many featires of prior Treaties are also unacceptable to many UK voters. There was every point in trying to stop ratification of Lisbon, for if the UK had refused to ratify it would not now be part of the Treaties. You seem to overlook the work many Conservatives did to try to delay ratification elsewhere until the UK Election, so we could have prevented the Lisbon part coming into force.

        • APL
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          JR: “What Mr Cameron meant ”

          So now we need a high priest to interpret the holy word of Cameron?

          What Cameron said, he said in English, ordinary English men and women can interpret the words he said themselves.

          It does you no credit to try to disguise Cameron’s words or to pretend they mean something else.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Well, we know that for two years Hague repeatedly said that without approval in a referendum the Lisbon Treaty would lack democratic legitimacy in this country.

          Starting as early as Column 423 here on November 12th 2007:

          http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm071112/debtext/71112-0008.htm

          “… we would have a new treaty in force that lacked democratic legitimacy in this country and in our view gave the EU too much power over our national policies. That would not be acceptable to a Conservative Government and we would not let matters rest there; the right hon. Gentleman can be assured of that.”

          Patently the treaty could not gain democratic legitimacy in this country through anything which happened in another country, and it was always absurd that the future of our democracy should be held to depend on the Irish voting “no” or the Czech President refusing to sign the treaty off.

          Consolidation of the treaties is a great convenience for anyone who wants to know what the present treaties say after the latest amendments have been applied, but that wouldn’t make it impossible to ask the people whether they agreed with those treaty amendments which are still there in a separate legal document, the amending Lisbon Treaty.

          It would have meant that if the people rejected those treaty amendments and the UK withdrew its instrument of ratification for the Lisbon Treaty then there would have been frequent rows within the EU when the UK government had to say that it could not necessarily accept a new Directive or Regulation because it was based on a treaty amendment introduced with the Lisbon Treaty, which Parliament had not approved and which was not binding on the UK.

          But then the desire to avoid unseemly scenes within the EU has come to nought anyway, even though the Tory leadership gave up and decided to swallow the Lisbon Treaty whole despite its lack of democratic legitimacy.

          Reply: As you know I too want a referendum, and want to start to get powers back. The Conservatives in the Coalition argue that they promised to repatriate powers, a sensible approach once Lisbon had been ratified, but have been blocked from that by the Coalition agreement.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Slight problem with your suggestion. Most petrol stations are staffed by Asian migrants, often from Sri Lanka. Its a similar situation to merchant shipping, where Philipinos are favoured. There is an infinite supply of eager, cheap labour from developing nations. A deliberately liberal and easily abused immigration system and a generous welfare State will ensure failure.

    • Disaffected
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Some might be wrong because of the weasel words used by Tory politicians. Cameron made it clear he would do his best to repatriate powers from the EU etc. It was a false claim. He has ceded more powers to the EU than he has retrieved. I think Labour will be back in power. Cameron thinks it is okay to use former Labour ministers to plan his strategy for policy reforms therefore the public will rightly assume that he is continuing their plans- and let us face it he is including public spending and borrowing. Darlings forecast was more accurate than Osbornes’. They will put the last episode down to that horrible Gordon Brown.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Just a few problems with your argument.

      “This problem is not one that be fixed overnight; in fact it will never be totally eradicated whilst we turn out individuals who have no aspirations, low self-esteem, little respect for others and who therefore are considered unemployable.”

      So the problems with unemployment are that people have no aspirations, low self-esteem, and have little respect for others.

      “The National Literacy Trust conducted a survey of 18000 schoolchildren and discovered that 1 in 3 did not have any books of their own, but I’d be willing to bet they had plenty of DVDs, smart-phones and computer games!”

      So what? You can learn from DVDs and many computer games require a lot of reading. A lack of books does not mean a lack of education.

      “So, here’s a challenge for all politicians; come up with a idea that would create jobs for those people who may have a distinct lack of education, morbid obesity, or the inability to form complete English sentences?”

      Wait weren’t the problems with unemployment that people have no aspirations, low self-esteem, and have little respect for others? Lack of education, morbid obesity, and the inability to form complete English sentences are 3 different problems? Also morbid obesity isn’t much of a hindrance if you want an office job.

      “If they were to employ 6 people on the NMW – £6.08 (2 shifts of 3 35hrs) dress them in appropriate branded work ware, to help dispense petrol/oil, windscreen clean and carry out tyre checks to motorists.

      Let’s call them Forecourt Service Staff. As of 2010, there were 8,787 petrol stations in the U.K
      Let’s say 8000 were suitable. That could see some 48.000 young people working full time taking home £200 per week! This would cost the collective Petrol companies £500million which they could off-set against their tax bill. In other words, it would cost them virtually nothing!
      It would also save the Government over £66million by not paying JSA for 26 weeks and get another 48.000 people spending again.”

      There’s some problems with your maths.

      1) If you work 35 hours per week at £6.08 per hour you’ll earn £212.80 per week.

      2) 48,000 people working 35 hours per week at £6.08 per hour in 8,000 petrol stations will cost £10,214,400 per week or £531,148,800 per year.

      3) JSA is £71 per week so 48,000 people will cost the Government £340, 800 per week or £17,721,600 per year.

      4) So if the Government pays £531,148,800 per year to have people employed in petrol stations, rather than pay £17,721,600 in JSA, it will lose £513,427,200 per year.

      Consequently your idea isn’t financially viable. It will not be viable even if you include other benefits because they can be claimed even if you’re working.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        It’s a good point not made very often that it is often cheaper for the government to let people be on benefits instead of putting forward or creating the conditions for work. The benefit claimants are then made out to be lazy scroungers who should be paid less. The only real way to bleed the benefit system enough to pay for a decent lifestyle is to have lots of children and not spend the money claimed on them. A very difficult situation for the state to stop or control without effecting responsible claimants with a large number of children.

  8. Richard
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    As you correctly say, when Mr Cameron stood up for Britain in his recent negotiations with our European partners and when he promised to cap benefits to £26,000, the Conservatives poll ratings rose considerably.
    In addition to all the items mentioned in your article, there is still no action to stop squatters invading an empty property, nor any real determined action to remove illegal immigrants and bogus asylum seekers.
    We still seem unable to be able to deport even the most dangerous criminals and terrorists from our own country.
    There still appears to be a soft approach to crime with our courts already short sentences being automatically halved and prison being avoided by career criminals with dozens of previous convictions.
    Bail conditions are increasingly flouted and fines are left unpaid by nearly half of all fined.
    The police are still felt by many voters to focus on the motorist and to see themselves as a politically correct social service.
    Clamping has still not been made illegal, in fact DVLA are still allowed to routinely pass on details of vehicle owners to these parasites despite us having a Data Protection Act.

    Waste collections in many areas, are still fortnightly and policed with Stalinist zeal for errors by local councils.
    Planning permission and renovations to properties are still a maze of red tape as you work around the random opinions of council building inspectors and their “conservation officers” causing delays and extra costs.

    There are many more small and inexpensive changes that could make the Conservatives popular enough to win a majority but the party seems unaware how many voters are waiting for decisive and even dare I say it, radical action to be taken, instead of the party just trying to appear nice.

    • lojolondon
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Funny how Cameron’s ratings rise whenever he does anything ‘conservative’. Even funnier how he hasn’t noticed the pattern and become a proper Tory, make some changes and call an early election to get a mandate.

      • APL
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        lojollondon: “and call an early election”

        The Tories and the Liberals have passed the fixed term ammendment. That is the Tories have bought the Libdem support with an assured term playing with the ministerial cars.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        His ratings would rise if he offered free chips and petrol to everyone. Which in reality is what he is doing. Let’s see how far he gets as a ‘Real Tory’. They don’t come much more Tory than him. What you want to say is right wing which is not the same. Lets see how far he gets with being right wing? Less than by being a Tory that’s for sure.

  9. Robert K
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Like many in this country who believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility and a small state, I am convinced that the reason the Conservatives did not win the last election is because they were not bold enough in analysing and rebutting the deceitful and shameful policies of the Blair/Brown era. The crisis of the late 2000s was more dangerous than the awful mess of the 1970s and required even more radical answers than the Thatcher government needed to find. Instead, the government has continued in its safe little rut of consensus politics and doing little to articulate why a seeking small state and free enterprise is the most moral course. Now, inevitable, they are fretting about how they can differentiate themselves from their awful LibDem partners.
    If the Conservatives were to re-read their Hayek, Mises and Rothbard they may surprise themselves – be radical, be bold.
    By the way, if the Conservatives do win, how about we suggest a Cabinet: PM – Dan Hannan; Chancellor – JR; Foreign Secretary – Bo Jo. Any others?

    • Robert K
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      …now, inevitably…
      Sorry about that

    • liz
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      This hits the nail on the head. So many popular things promised that would not receive the Clegg veto – but nothing has happened despite Parliament not being busy. Surely it is not that difficult to collect fines – efficient collection would pay for itself. There seems to a complete lack of will by many ministers with the exception of IDS and Michael Gove. Court judgements are becoming a complete joke. Probabtion – not completed, community service orders -not enforced (might humiliate them), prison sentences only half finished or even two thirds off, fines not collected. It is all so slipshod and contemptuous of the public. No wonder people don’t bother to vote.

      • Cliff
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        I feel people don’t bother to vote because there is no real choice.
        We have a kind of progressive Marxism on offer across the political board and our only choice is which face implements that progressive Marxism; everybody wearing everybody else’s clothes.

        If there was anything to choose between the parties, Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron would not have been able to jump into bed together, because real Conservatism and real LibDemism are supposed to be at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

        When in opposition, politicians slag off the government’s policies etc but, when they get into power, seldom do they reverse them or do what they said they’d do whilst in opposition. When Mr Cameron snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the last election, there was a seemless transition from Nu Labour to Blue Labour and that has frustrated many of us.

    • David
      Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      Excellent summary.

      In our fantasy cabinet, how about, finally, an ex-serviceman in defence – Mercer perhaps. Rory Stewart as foreign secretary, plenty of capable current backbenchers to fill other posts, Rees Mogg, Brady, etc.

      Ho-hum, another day, another wishful thought…

  10. alan jutson
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Socialist policies always eventually fail through lack of money, and at the same time kill off business initiative and drive with high taxes.

    Outright Capitalism where it is a free for all, and only the strong survive, is certainly not the answer.

    As always he best solution is a balance, but at the moment the balance is too far towards the socialists welfare dream of the big Mummy State (cradle to grave) where people are spoon fed.

    We need to get back to reward being worth the risk, perhaps back to the Victorian times where businesses had the drive and initiative to invent, design, compete, produce and were encouraged to take risks and rewarded for being successful.

    Yes of course it needs to be tempered with regards to working conditions etc.

    But can anyone imagine Brunell being as successful today, as he was then, given all the present rules, regulations, health and safety, employment laws, taxes and the fact that he would have problems getting anyone to work for him, because they would be better off in bed at home, doing nothing !.

    This country needs to wake up, its going downhill, the debt is getting larger, we are falling further behind developing nations, because we cannot compete, and I do not see anyone in Government taking it really seriously at all, otherwise we would have a very different policy to what we have at the moment, which amounts to nothing more than tinkering around the edges.

    We need action not talk, talk is cheap.

    Fully accept that you have many ideas John, as do others, but they seem to be falling on stoney ground.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      “As always he best solution is a balance, but at the moment the balance is too far towards the socialists welfare dream of the big Mummy State (cradle to grave) where people are spoon fed.”

      At least it’s better than no welfare, and the choices being beg or steal.

      “We need to get back to reward being worth the risk, perhaps back to the Victorian times where businesses had the drive and initiative to invent, design, compete, produce and were encouraged to take risks and rewarded for being successful.”

      Why go back to Victorian times? Why not just copy the business models used in major manufacturing nations such as Germany or Japan?

  11. lojolondon
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    John,
    All your sentences start : “Many conservatives want …” and that is the point – Conservative voters, like conservative MP’s are not getting what they want, what they were promised. Three things could be done THIS WEEK that would ENSURE conservative people vote for the Conservative party.
    1. Announce and in/out referendum on the EU
    2. Announce that global warming does not exist, and the HS2 money is going to be spent on nuclear power and Shale power
    3. Privatise the BBC, who undermine democracy by attacking every move by the Conservative party, and providing partisan support for Labour. No matter what you propose, they always dig out someone who objects

    The bad news is that I think the Tories cannot win an election. Proper Conservative voters will vote UKIP. Not ‘because they have a chance’ or whatever, but because these are the people who are promising to deliver what we want. That is democracy.

    My biggest hope is that UKIP could overtake the LibDems, now THAT would be a coalition worth having!!

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      “My biggest hope is that UKIP could overtake the LibDems, now THAT would be a coalition worth having!!”

      Assuming Farrage was P.M. of course !

      Replky: Is that the same Mr Farage as came third in Buckingham, with a strongly pro Euro pro EU independent in second place above him?

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        In the MEP’s pointless, powerless, talking shop perhaps but it can never happen at Westminster.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      “Announce that global warming does not exist”

      Real science shows that global warming does exist so any politician who announces that it doesn’t will look as stupid as if they announced that evolution doesn’t exist or that the sun revolves around the Earth.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      His third most important task for a Conservative government is to privatise the BBC. Interesting and telling that of all the things you would want any British government to do is this? That the BBC is responsible for undermining his dream of a independent Britain (or England) powered by expensive and dubious shale gas and nuclear energy. No doubt with little health and safety, wages, or rights for most of the population. The ones who have a job that is. Of course he will be in the inner circle of this communist dream and none of it will effect him. Ram it.

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    A visionary leader is needed, who take little heed of focus groups, who relies instead of first hand knowledge of what its like being part of the struggling classes and who has close contacts with all parts of society. Someone who for instance could see the link between controlling immigration and unemployment, like the common sense view on the streets, and would actually get a grip and sort it out. Someone who would put the patient at the centre of the health system and not PCTs and not GPs, and improve the patient expetrience by giving the patient real buying power and free them up from state controlled providers of care with a take it or leave it style. Someone who has actually spent nights on a sink estate and knows that the parents there are as desperate for good schools for their children as anyone and would vote in large numbers for anyone delivering this. Someone who surrounds themselves with people based on merit and not accent/schoool they went to/some weird attempt at positive discrimination. I think the Conservatives could dominate if they stopped fretting about detoxifying the brand and moved onto understanding the pragmatic views of the people.

  13. frank salmon
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Cameron can win by a landslide if he a, stands up to the EU, b, stands up to Labour, c, stands up to Nick Clegg and the Lib Doms, d, stands up for libertarian values…….

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    JR: “…reporting the views of Number 10 stating that Conservative victory in the 2015 election would be difficult if not impossible, and that a further period of Coalition with the Lib Dems might be the best outcome.”
    If the leader thinks that, it has every chance of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nearly two years in office has shown Cameron already to be more sympathetic to the Lib Dems than his own party. It looks as though we can expect more of the same as he makes his plans to retain his premiership. If after so many years as leader of the Conservative party he concedes that he is incapable of raising its share of the vote above 36% then he isn’t leading it and shouldn’t be its leader.

  15. bertsanders
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Conservatives have to be clear on Europe – the Coalition seems to support Liberal views on the subject as a trade off for other conservative viewpoints. So far I consider Mr Cameron has done well considering that he does not have a complete power. Europe has always been a problem and until we are allowed a referendum it will remain so.

  16. Brian A
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Sitting well outside the SW1 political bubble I get the feeling that Cameron is rather happier working with the Lib Dems than with many of his own backbench colleagues. On this view, he would not be unhappy with an ongoing coalition in 2015 if it could keep those pesky eurosceptic, deregulating, free market favouring backbenchers away from the levers of power.

    To take the example of your outstanding record of getting all the big economic questions right, and your ability to explain complex economic issues, it surely says a lot about Cameron and his team that you are not on the frontbench, where your judgment and skills could be used to maximum advantage. The fact that this has not happened for you and a number of other talented backbenchers simply reinforces the point that Cameron is just more comfortable with the idea of a highly regulated, corporatist big state with all its incompetence and waste. Cameron is truly the heir to Blair in promising reform but, with a few honourable exceptions (Gove, IDS and Pickles), simply delivering more of the same.

  17. Shade
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    John, looks like you are whistling in the dark to keep your spirits up. Underneath that, I am sure you are dismayed by the state of the party that you have been a member of for so long. Unless there is a miraculous change in the economy, or in our relations with the EU, I think it highly unlikely that the Tories can win the next election – even with the useless Miliband as the Labour leader.

    I and many, many people I know who should be natural conservatives, no longer vote, or vote UKIP. For me, the defining moment was when Major rammed through the Maastricht Treaty without a referendum – presumably because he knew he would lose it. After that there was the ridiculous breast-beating and wailing about being seen as the “Nasty Party”. I believe the Tories got both things wrong which has defined their policy attitudes ever since. This has lead to an underlying pro EU stance, despite Cameron’s attempts at camouflage. Perhaps even worse, it has led a failure to chose and carry through the tough policies that are needed against the rising mountain of debt and the staggering acceptance of the position where spending is still £140bn or so more than already extremely high taxes.

    I wish you all the best but I cannot see your party changing in a believable way that would persuade me to consider voting for it under its present leadership (and not just Cameron).

    Toodlepip

  18. stred
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The Coalition have allowed regulation to grow and facilitated increased taxation and charges by Local Government. For example, my neighbour now has to pay £300 to the LA to have the re-tiling of his small terraced house inspected and certificated. Additional insulation work has to be carried out by government approved contractors. The whole system puts up the cost and channels the extra money to HMG and the larger companies who can afford to lobby. This is one of many examples.

    As to general taxation, the increased income tax allowances have been delayed, except for over 65s, while the upper tax limit has already been lowered to hit modest salaries with 40%. Even if a taxpayer has reached 65, the raised limit does not apply until he or she is 65 in the year of taxation. Having just returned my tax by internet, the calculator put my bill higher than lower or higher personal allowances and I could not challenge it. When my wife could not find her code number, which is needed to make a return, she asked for another a week before the deadline and it still has not arrived. Fines may follow. Meanwhile the chief inspector is retiring early with a huge pension, having had a few too many dinners with mega tax avoiding accountants and losing the country billions.

    We are being over regulated, all the unwanted waste and spending continues, the LA bureaucrats running the system are still there or awaiting fat payoffs, and we are being fleeced to pay for it.

    The view that the Conservatives cannot win is correct. But the Coalition is even less likely to attract support. Your best bet is to split now and form an English party with commonsense policies, free of the Scots, and then we might have someone to vote for.

  19. figurewizard
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    His first priority when it comes to budget measures is business. That does not mean more ‘initiatives’ with a catchy name and a strictly notional budget. Small and medium businesses are the likely source of new jobs in the short and medium terms and it is these that still need urgent and unambiguous action on regulation and tax. If this actually happens jobs will follow and jobs are what the economy needs and the party, if it is to win an election with a strong working majority next time around.

  20. william
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The welfare budget,at £192 billion,is bigger than health,education and defense combined;one can also argue that it is funded entirely by borrowing.There will be no private sector growth without tax cuts,which can only be financed by getting the welfare monster reduced,winter fuel payments,tax credits, incapacity benefits and so on.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Given that housing benefit makes up a large part of welfare the simple solution is to cause a crash in the housing market.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Tax cuts funded by the poor are the only answer? The companies are not doing anything as they can’t be bothered as the money all goes in tax and there is no incentive for them to employ feckless benefit scroungers? Oh really? What is your solution to the drugs problem? People should stop taking them? They should not be allowed? I bet William actually has quite a good job. How he got it, keeps it and does it is one of life’s mysteries. How can I get a claim in for the middle class social security system? I’m fed up of having to do real work for a real boss at a real company.

  21. javelin
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I am increasingly concerned that this will be a Government managing a global economic crisis – the trade volumes in many world markets physcial and paper have sunk to lows and there is a deep expectation that a large correction is about to happen.

    Last night I actually woke up and worried about instablity of the world economy – the central bankers are going to do us all in – by believing they can manage their way out of this with funny money.

    All this debt and no growth cant go on forever.

  22. Winston Smith
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The 2nd biggest CA contributor to Party funds is Beaconsfield. Their Chairman has stated they are looking at a loss for 2011 and membership is plummeting. This is a similar problem for other leading CAs. Cameron has presided over a disastrous membership fall of 60%. My old association was one of the top 10. It can barely hold an event and it is unable to attract younger members and offers nothing to the aspiring lower classes that voted for Thatcher and Major. The leading CAs would campaign in marginal seats. Now they have insufficient resources to mount a campaign in their own constituency. What is the situation in Wokingham, John? Where are the activists to knock on doors and deliver leaflets? Members are motivated by strong, decisive leaders offering Conservative policies. We have neither.

    The Cameroons think they can wing it without activist, hoping the media to help them out. It’s not working with Boris. 70% of digested news comes from the ideologically hostile BBC. Good luck.

    Reply: In Wokingham we have a good body of people willing to deliver leaflets, talk to people on doorsteps, run for Council office and attend events. The Earley team, for example, go out every Saturday morning to talk to people. We have recently held a well attended Burns Night supper and an early evening fork supper event.

    • StevenL
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      and it is unable to attract younger members

      No one is interested in their vote. All parties support policies offering unaffordable housing and high youth unemployment. Everyone, from right wing tories to left wing trade unionists, prioritise the incumbent homeowner and employee over the school / university leaver.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Too true. This will have disastrous consequences when employees start to retire and businesses are unable to find enough replacements because several generation haven’t worked.

      • outsider
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree. Measures to ensure that we build 300,000 houses a year (like Harold Macmillan) and reverting to a conventional monetary policy that gives young people some hope of saving up a deposit on a home (like Rab Butler) would be great for the economy all round.
        Youth unemployment may need more controversial policies. Would be interested to hear suggestions from your point of view.

  23. Auror
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    The Conservatives should have won the last election, and it is far from clear that the Conservative party have learnt any lessons from this experience (excepting people like JR and TM of course). So far the government lead by DC has been a big disappointment, but disappointment with politics is simply part of the modern British life experience. At least there have been some positive developments, e.g. free schools.

    Like Lifelogic, I think that the two best reasons for thinking that the Conservatives stand a chance in 2012 is that 1) Many people in Britain actually favour a number of “rightist” policies, and 2) Labour looks deeply unappealing to many.

  24. JimF
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    There are too many uncertainties between now and then.
    When the ramifications of the current financial instability are felt, rather than cushioned against, we might see some sweeping and unpredictable change.

    People know Labour are a big risk on the economy, Ed Milliband is an pseudo-academic lefty theoretician, but they also think Cameron is one of the city lads, who will let your average multi-millionaire banker off the hook whilst stamping on benefits cheats and welfare claimants generally. Clegg could still come across as everybody’s friend, and his rather extreme views which are leading us into Euro oblivion are actually well hidden.

    So the choice is pretty poor on a leadership front, which might, just might, prompt people to hook up with Mr Farage’s UKIP.

  25. oldtimer
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    The next budget is indeed critical for national recovery. The Chancellor has been too timid in several respects in past budgets, particularly concerning tax reform and simplification.

    Energy policy is a total mess, adding unnecessary costs to everyone and requiring huge investments in unproductive and unnecessary wind farms and solar energy schemes. In the opinion of some, it is based on phoney science. In this connection I draw your attention to the paper available here:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0707.1161v4
    …wher links are provided to pdf and other formats. The paper was originally published in the International Journal of Modern Physics. Its conclusions are clear “… there is no atmospheric greenhouse effect, in particular CO2-greenhouse effect, in theoretical physics and engineering thermodynamics.” This is a highly technical paper. May I suggest you secure an independent review of and comment on this paper from distinguished physicists among your Oxford and other contacts? If the authors have argued their case cogently and accurately, then the implications are profound and will cause the Government`s Chief Scientist sleepless nights.

  26. fake
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    The EU is a big issue for me.

    As long as Cameron is the conservative leader, I will continue to waste my vote on UKIP.

  27. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    The EU veto and benefit caps that you mention and which boosted the poll ratings of the Party (or was it the administration?) suggest that, as many commentators on this blog say, the Conservative Party has not been courageous enough to promote and put into practice policies based on conviction and real pragmatism rather than weak expediency and “concensus”. Cameron looks good and is not a leader to be ashamed of (yet) unlike the ghastly Brown but he does seem to need a good prodding from wiser heads such as yours from time to time. When Cameron does occasionally walk the walk and not just talk the talk it boosts morale as well as the polls.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Should be “consensus”. Apologies

  28. backofanenvelope
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The problem for the Tories is that this government, like every government since 1990, is a facade. Behind the scenes everything is continuing more or less as before. What happened in 1990? SHE was deposed and the backbone of the Tory party gave up. I am coming up to my 76th birthday, so I have lived under quite a few prime ministers. The only two who could be described as having integrity are Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mrs Thatcher. What a record!

  29. Pericles
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Both Mr. Redwood’s article and all but one of the comments lodged hitherto ascribe to reducing the burden of taxation and regulation on business the ability to solve the economic problems facing the U.K. ;  there is the odd mention of the willingness of banks to lend to SMEs as part of the mix – a hopeless idea in the absence of demand for their products.  As far as I can see only ‘javelin’ has touched on the fact that economic activity, commonly called simply growth, depends upon confidence – across the World.

    The reality is that the elimination of debt by the time of the next election – despite our having over the preceding century almost lived on it – and the economic growth needed to meet that aim are irreconcilable.  We might be doing somewhat better than the Greeks &c. but we are in substantially the same position :  the debt continues to grow as the economy shrinks.

    Unfortunately the errors of the past few years – baling out the sinking financial institutions, slamming the economy in to reverse gear – cannot be rectified simply by some form of modulation :  we have gone through a one-way door.  A new driver is needed for global economic activity.  Can the government of one country find it and set it in train ?  I doubt it.

    The first thing all governments ought to do, despite their having nailed their respective colours to her mast, is to sink the fraudulent ship of climate change :  for reasons both scientific and economic this is a burden the World’s economy cannot bear.

    Policies based on (largely socialist) dogma, such as further integration of the European continent’s polity, must be ditched.  That is not to say that compassion should be eliminated from government ;  only that, where policies – such as the single European currency – are seen to fail, they ought to be changed quickly.

    I don’t think any country in the West has enough politicians with either the nous or the cojones to do any of these things.

    ΠΞ

    • uanime5
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      “climate change : for reasons both scientific and economic this is a burden the World’s economy cannot bear.”

      And these reasons are what?

      “Policies based on (largely socialist) dogma, such as further integration of the European continent’s polity, must be ditched.”

      What does this have to do with socialism?

  30. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The most interesting thing about Tim Montgomery’s list of ten is the topic it did not mention. If, as you say, we assume this list represents research well done, then the elephant in the room that is too big to mention, the emperor’s new clothes that dare not be criticised, is the EU!

  31. john w
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    John,i will be voting for UKIP at all elections from now on.

    • BobE
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Me 3

    • Bob
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      At Thursday’s Council by-election in Amersham, UKIP took 26.6% of the vote in a ward which they had never contested before. Although the UKIP candidate finished in third place, he was just 34 votes away from winning!
      The results in full:
      Lib Dem 286 (30.1%)
      Conservative 282 (29.7%)
      Michael Hurley – UKIP – 254 (26.6%)
      Labour 127 (13.2%)

      The tide is turning.

  32. Sir Richard Richard
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    If there existed a Conservative majority in 2015, would we get something fundamentally different to what we currently have?

    What’s stopping David ‘Heir to Blair’ Cameron from introducing wondrous change? Is it the Liberal Democrats? I know Gordon Brown with an Etonian accent Mr Cameron would certainly like us to think that, but let’s say Mr Cameron proposes a measure that’s unpopular with them. What would the Liberal Democrats threaten to do? Break the coalition, call an election and wipe out all their seats in one fell swoop?

    No, it suits Mr Cameron perfectly well to have people think that his ‘inner Tory’ is somehow being restrained by those dastardly Liberal Democrats, but there’s actually very little difference between the viewpoints of Cameron and Clegg.

    So why should any true conservative (small ‘c’) want a Conservative majority in 2015?

    Grammar schools – Oh wait, Cameron hasn’t promised their return, has he? Just a half-hearted ‘free academy’ programme.
    Strengthening marriage – Homosexual marriage is one of Cameron’s pet projects, isn’t it? Nevermind.
    Taking us out of the EU – A three line whip against the proposal from the man himself.
    Aggressive anti-drug measures – We’re not going to get that from a Prime Minister who smoked pot.
    Saving British soldiers from being killed in the Middle East – Nope, we’re still mucking around there.

  33. Steve Cox
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    QE3 coming up, no end in sight to the theft of people’s savings via zero interest rates to fund the government’s utter failure to cut public spending, continued kowtowing to the EU disguised as Call Me Dave being forceful, a bonfire of the quangos that never was, an energy policy based on utterly stupid predictions of global warming when there’s plenty of evidence that we should be worrying about the exact opposite… do I need to go on? Screaming Lord Sutch couldn’t make more of a pathetic mess of things than the coalition has done and is continuing to do. The only bright spot is that we are finally rid of the (man on a criminal charge-ed) Chris Huhne. Why would I ever vote for such a rabble as we have in charge now? If you want to see how bad things really are, read this article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9057320/Will-the-great-interest-rate-gamble-pay-off.html

    “In Britain, the Bank of England has already bought up more than a third of the conventional gilts market, or rather more than a quarter of the entire national debt. Since quantitative easing began, the Bank has hoovered up gilts to the value of more than a half of those issued by the Debt Management Office, greatly easing its task in financing the deficit. “

    These are statistics that even JR has not highlighted, and I for one am disgusted that a (nominally) Conservative government would ever allow this to happen. The end of Sterling is not far off when you print this much money.

    I will vote for whichever party is serious about reining in spending and debt and restoring normal interest rates. That’s clearly neither Conservative nor Lib Dem, and it is unlikely to be Labour. So it will either be UKIP or abstain for me, I will never vote for a party that has cost me so much in lost interest and low annuity rates.

  34. cosmic
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives too often appear to go out of their way to infuriate what should be their natural supporters.

    The Cast-Iron Promise. It can be argued that it didn’t exist and people should have read the small print etc. However, people were allowed to continue believing something that wasn’t true and were left cross at the end of it. It would have been far better to come clean and leave no one in any doubt.

    A lot of people can’t see why there’s such determination on foreign aid at a time when the country is heavily in debt.

    HS2.

    Two things they could do are simplify the tax system and develop an energy policy which is likely to deliver cheap, reliable energy.

    In general, I don’t get the impression that the Conservatives have principles, from which they take positions and then develop policy. They appear far too much like a rival set of managers wanting to manage the same set up with slight differences of emphasis and presentation.

    Reply: As I often point out, the referendum promise was met by voting for one in the Commons under Labour. Unfortunately they abandoned the promise once Lisbon was ratified. There was a very public row about it at the time, as some of us wanted to change the referendum question post Lisbon, but to have a different EU referendum for the new circumstances. We lost the argument. Anyone interested in this argument knew there was no referendum promise for the Election, no promsie in the Manifesto – indeed UKIP complained during the election about the absence of a Conservative referendum promise. So Mr Cameron did not lie – he merely did not do what many wanted.

    • cosmic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Mr. Cameron didn’t lie and Mr. Hague didn’t lie but neither were they completely forthcoming.

      When Mr. Hague was pressed on the matter before the last Euro elections and before the 2nd Irish referendum and asked what would happen if if the result was yes, as seemed likely, he went to all sorts of lengths not to answer the question. By not saying they would do nothing, he was keeping a hope alive, or at least wasn’t killing it.

      We can argue endlessly about what Messrs Cameron and Hague and others said, and what conclusions we were entitled to draw.

      The fact is that knowingly or unknowingly ( I suspect knowingly) they raised or allowed to be raised and did not deflate, expectations which they wouldn’t satisfy.

      This is simply bad political judgement. It gives an impression of slipperiness.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Just stringing supporters and the wider public along with false promises.

        As late as the EU Parliament elections in 2009 the manifesto said that if the Lisbon Treaty had already come into force then a Tory government “would not let matters rest there”.

        Moreover during the campaign a story was spread into the media that Cameron would hold a referendum even if the treaty had come into force, and while that was eventually denied of course some people would have voted having heard the story but not yet having heard the denial.

        Reply: I do not recall that. I do recall complaints to me as a candidate in Wokingham that the Conservative party was not promising a referendum. I said I was still promising to vote for one, and would help ensure it was voted on the in the next Parliament, as I did.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          Nationally, starting with Cameron in the Guardian:

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/25/david-cameron-a-new-politics1

          “We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty; pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU; negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending.”

          And then spreading onwards, for example here:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2009/05/cameron_tougher_on_lisbon.html

          “So I duly read Mr Cameron’s pronouncement in full. There are no qualifications … Whether he meant it or not it is now on the record: in government the Conservatives will hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, no ifs, no buts.”

          And a local instance I drew to your attention at the time:

          http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2009/05/30/she-who-pays-the-piper-may-call-the-tune/

          ” … your colleague Rob Wilson writes:

          “The Conservative Party view is that the Lisbon Treaty is a European Constitution which removes too many powers from us, so we oppose it and will honour our manifesto commitment to let the people decide with a referendum.”

          and

          “That’s why a Conservative government will put the current proposals and any future European changes that increase the power of Brussels to a referendum.” ”

          Your reply was to confirm that “the Lisbon referendum is conditional on it not being in force”.

          Reply: thank you for the quotes. Mr Cameron would say he met his promise by a) voting for a referendum on Lisbon in the Commons prior to its ratification, and by trying to get other EU countries to hold off ratifying until after the UK Election b) has now passed legilsaiton offering a referendum on future transfer of powers and c) by improving scrutiny of EU matters in the Commons. Meanwhile I continue to want a refeendum, and do not myself think the new Act is sufficient to bring one about any time soon given the current EU situation.

        • cosmic
          Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

          “{We] would not let matters rest there” is a case in point.

          Most people would take it to be a declaration of an intention to take substantive action.

          They would not expect it to be explained by a “zero and minus one are both numbers” argument.

          After the word games, lawyerly evasions and sleight-of-hand of Nu Labour, people were looking for something more like straight dealing.

          Sure, UKIP and sympathisers have played up the Cast Iron tag, but there’s no avoiding the fact that the way the Conservatives handled the Lisbon Treaty created an own goal.

  35. BobE
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    The Lib Dems will be decimated in the next election. Their core vote, the young, no longer belive what they say. A coalition will be impossible.
    BobE

  36. Peter Davies
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The tories should win more as a result of the fact that labour would be a nightmare alternative. I suspect as many have said Cameron has given far too much ground to the Lib Dems meaning that there are too many similatiries in policy to labour who we thought we’d seen the back of.

    This European issue does need resolving, I think showing some bold courage on this issue, taking back powers and even setting the groundwork for a future referendum would bring them back a lot of votes. They talk about being scared of the EU and inintended consequences – I cant see what they are right now – Europe is burnt out, as long as we can be included in EU trade agreements and still free trade with Europe – whats the problem?

  37. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Having voted Tory all my life. The only way I would ever vote for them again is by them becoming Tories again. What we have is a continuation of much of what Labour were doing. They despise the grass routes and it shows.

    • APL
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Johnny Norfolk: “The only way I would ever vote for them again is by them becoming Tories again.”

      Exactly right. The supporters haven’t deserted the party, the Tory party has deserted its supporters.

    • Mazz
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      That is my feeling too and I suspect, very many others.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Johnny Norfolk

      Would agree with you entirely, and my actions wuld be the same if it were not the case that JR is my MP.

      Hence I live in hope, and I have to say it is only hope at the moment, that one day the Party returns to rather more traditional Conservative polices.

      • Cliff
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Me too.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Funnily enough. I agree with this. Looking after your pubic school chums is reason enough for any party to face a whitewash on par with your favorite football team losing 8-0 and then trying to claim victory by claiming they touched the ball and the ref was bias.

  38. forthurst
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Why are we to expect Conservative policies when the PM’s Office consists of Cameron and Letwin? The Conservative Party’s support consists in the main of English people who are independently minded, who are proud of their country and its history and wish to preserve it as an identifiably different place to anywhere else. Letwin, like Cable, is concerned over the immigration cap being too vigorously applied. He is ‘worried’ about potential ‘damage’ to our economy. Letwin like Cameron went to Eton so is by definition, privileged and posh, typically Conservative, but were his forebears represented on the field of Waterloo, before the battle?

    We are not going to get authentic Conservative policies enunciated by those who are not authentic Englishmen because when push comes to shove, an Englishman is more concerned with preserving his ancestral land than dreaming up excuses to facilitate never ending third world immigration.

  39. David John Wilson
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    There a re major concerns about the lack of visible positive action from the government to reduce unemployment. I would like to see:
    A closer link between vocational courses in schools and subsequent apprenticeships in the same subject. This would mean involvement of future employers in the actual courses and also in providing work experience and Saturday jobs. We need some joined up thinking on these.
    A tax system that encourages employment. A major reduction in employers’ NI payments would help. This would help with cash flow and exports vs imports as well as the obvious reduction of employment costs.
    A reduction in energy costs is probably the wrong solution. Better would be a reduction in energy use and a movement towards UK produced energy. Any money should be spent on grants to achieve these objectives. For example there needs to be much better use of the waste heat produced from offices and industrial processes.
    Infrastructure improvement needs to be directed at linking high unemployment areas to neighbouring areas where jobs are available with relatively cheap transport.
    We need to give a tax advantage to companies that provide accommodation with jobs. This will bring accommodation over shops back into use and bring back into use the houses on industrial sites that were originally provided for caretakers etc. If properly implemented it would also prevent such accommodation being used to hide illegals. Similarly a tax encouragement for live in domestic staff by reducing employers NI contributions in this and similar situations.
    Freezing or possibly reducing the minimum wage for the under 25s.

  40. APL
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Chris Huhne resigns over fraud allegations

    Well Chris, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

    Next career move, make a few calls to Euro chums.

  41. Neil Craig
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    If Putin could get massive majorities because his government had achieved 7% growth rates I suggest that a major British party that went for that would achieve the same result. What a pity that it is only in Russia that that choice ios offered while here the consensus of all 3 official parties (or all 3 factions within the official party) are actively opposed to growth.

    I also think relying on the LudDims to get enough seats to hold the balance of power next time is putting an awfukl lot of weight on a very weak reed. It is likely that UKIP will get more votes than them (possible that we are already in that position). But then what sort of Conservative party woyuld consider relying on UKIP support – certainly not one led by David Cameron.

  42. Damien
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    JR : I think Tim M has arrived at the right conclusion having crunched the numbers however I also think there is time to recover from this gloomy prognosis.

    The policies you have listed are all necessary and worthwhile but would they inspire a voter? Certainly businesses would welcome these policies but how many votes would that bring in?

    The reality is that with 50% of the population claiming some sort of benefits and those benefits being squeezed it will take more than business friendly policies to persuade swing voters to vote Conservative.

    Camerons instincts are spot on in the way he has handled the veto, welfare reform and even the health reform. There are enough voters who support these reforms even though it upsets the vested interests.

    Cameron looked set to repeat Thatchers successful right-to-buy scheme yet Shapps managed to clutch failure from the jaws of success by reducing the discount so as to make it virtually worthless. Yes the vested interests of builders developers councils, housing associations are all delighted but where are the votes for Conservatives in this? Just look at the mess over immigration. On the current tradjectory it is doubtful the targets will be met but nevertheless it will be uppermost in peoples mind when they come to vote at the next election.

  43. Jon
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I scanned through the piece by Tim Montgomerie and the comments here, above. I think both of them would make for depressing reading. Fortunately Tim Montgomerie’s piece is all about naval gazing for political insiders and not what I imagine the general electorate are concerned about when they go to the polls nor many comments above.

    The general public are concerned about their jobs, inflation, transport, fuel costs, benefit costs and the economy in general. For me this government has done a lot of things I like. The alternative is a lot of things I don’t like such as a return to labour which a split conservative party would deliver.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I’m interested to know what this Govt has done to your liking.

      • Jon
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Had the government not drastically change the direction on public borrowing I recon we would have needed an IMF bailout in 2011 which would have been compounded by bringing down the euro area further. Thats given us record low borrowing rates. I don’t feel the oppression of socialist creep against out rights and freedomw that there were. I like IDS’s ideas and ssupport the cap on housing and other benefits. I like the fact that they are frequently on trade missions rather than spending that time at numerous minority activist groups that were about dividing the nation. I could go on but yes I think its been a change for the better.

    • Pericles
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      On a lighter note — do you think my extremely dusty bridge watch-keeping certificate would be qualification adequate to the requirements of naval gazing ?

      ΠΞ

      • Jon
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Thats a far more useful form of naval gazing!

  44. Barbara Stevens
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives would have won the last election if they had concentrated in certain areas, and meant what they said. They have now seen a boost when they decided on the benefit cap, and rightly so but they need to address many issues that concern the electorate. Firstly, immigration, not talk and waffle, action. People who have been born here, see their country being taken over slowly, and those allowed in a law unto themselves.
    Take housing for an example, which you John touched on the other day. Rents now so high people cannot pay them, and who are the landlords, foreigners. They own multiple houses, poorly maintained, and in a poor state. We have no control in local councils to counter this, and what we do have costs the taxpayer millions. What we need is licensing for all landlords, where this licence to rent can be evoked if certain standards are not met. Fines inplace if the fail to comply. May I suggest, £30/flat – £35/2bed flat – £40/2 bed house – £50/3 bed house – £75/4bed house – £100/5bed room house. This could be paid into the private rented housing sector of local councils who have to deal with complaints from tenants. This would help avoid bad housing. We are now begining to see the ‘Rachman’ style landlords appear again. This effects not only tenants but private householders too; they have their properties blighted and devalued by bad landlords.
    Immigration still remains the head of problems in this country, whatever the media say, I know from talking to people on the ground. Simply, we don’t need mass immigration, we are full up as it is.
    Unemployment is linked to all of the above.
    The EU is another element of whether the Conservatives win or not, as is the NHS. Trust is another. Many do not trust them on either. I for one have my doubts. On the NHS, take foreigners using it and not paying. Some 55 million per year, that is not fair on people who pay taxes here. If we are so short of money, why is it allowed to happen in the first place?
    Then foreign aid, while we take cuts here, are told time and time again we are in dire straights, and yet, we give far to much money away. Germany gives about 38 million per year, we are giving 12 billion plus, this cannot be right or justified. We are not the worlds benefactor. If these issues were dealt with I’m almost certain the Conservatives would win the next election, but we want action and promises kept. Not lied to and given feeble excuses. It’s our money any government spends, and it’s right we should demand it’s spent how we want. At the moment we are being ignored and the danger is we might ignore those who ignore us when it comes to voting.

    • Mark
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that councils and housing associations often make poor landlords too.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        All have to deal with (nasty-ed) tenants that do not deserve to live (even in an unpleasant place-ed).

  45. uanime5
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    John you post identifies one of the major problems the Conservative party need to deal with; using spin rather than actually fixing problems. The Conservative policies are unpopular for a reason and ignoring these objections will cause the Conservatives to lose the next election.

    Cheaper energy is unlikely because in 2012/13 several power stations will be going offline because they’ve reached the end of their life cycle, however there’s nothing to replace them with. A lack of power in 2015 will definite prevent the Conservatives from winning.

    Tax cuts are only popular among those who get tax cuts and can be unpopular among those who don’t. For example removing the 50% tax rate may be popular among those who pay the 50% tax rate but the other 99% of the population won’t be happy that the rich pay less taxes while they have to pay the same amount of tax. The Conservatives should be wary of introducing tax cuts that don’t provide a direct benefit for the majority of the population.

    Regarding unemployment the Conservatives decided to response to rising unemployment by introducing the Work Programme. Before going on the Work Programme the unemployed have to go to the Job Centre to sign on and show that they’ve searched for 3 jobs per week. While on the Work Programme the unemployed have to go to the Job Centre to sign on and go to a private company to show that they’ve searched for 3 jobs per week, making the whole thing a waste of time. The only benefit the Work Programme has to the Government is that it lasts for 2 years and those on this programme don’t appear on unemployment statistics. This is why many people feel that the Conservatives don’t care about unemployment and will continue to feel this way as long as the Government fund these pointless programmes.

    The Government has made the unemployment situation worse by firing large numbers of people in the public sector on the basis that the private sector would create enough jobs for them. Many of those who were fired are now unemployed because the private sector didn’t create enough jobs. Not content with just aggravating those they fired the Conservatives unilaterally decided to reduce the pensions of those still working for the state to provide additional funds for the treasury. Is it any wonder why the public sector doesn’t support the Conservatives.

    To try to bribe the private sector into creating more jobs the Government then decided to make being employed even more unpleasant by removing the rights of employees and restricting their right to employment tribunals. So not only will the Government lose votes from the unemployed but will lose them from those who managed to keep their jobs.

    John nothing the Conservatives are doing to the welfare system is something the Conservatives should feel proud of. So far the Conservatives have tried to declare that many disabled people are not disabled enough for disability benefit so the Government can pay the disabled the lower cost Job Seeker Allowance (fortunately two thirds of these cases were overturned on appeal), and are currently trying to remove benefits from the disabled and those suffering from cancer. It was only due to a rebelling in the Lords that the latter was stopped. The cruel way the Conservatives are trying to take benefits from the most vulnerable will result in a large loss of votes, especially from those rely on benefits or have relatives that do.

    Finally regarding the NHS reforms there’s a reason why doctors and nurses are objecting to the but the Government is simply too pig-headed to listen to them and instead claims that everything is wonderful. Guess what John if nearly all NHS workers are objecting to these changes don’t expect them to be implemented without a major fight that will make the Conservatives look very bad. Also most people don’t feel that these reforms were implemented to placate the “right” but to reward the private healthcare companies that donated large amounts of money to the Conservative party and senior Conservative ministers.

    In conclusion unless the Conservatives party stops making the country worse for everyone except the mega-rich they will lose the 2015 election like they lost the 1997 election.

    • Mark
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      A thought about energy: many of the disastrous policies were implemented by Ed Miliband when he was Secretary of State. That alone might make him unelectable in 2015. More disastrous policies have been implemented by Huhne – conveniently not a Tory. His replacement pro-tem is also a Lib Dem. The question is how much mud would stick to Cameron and Yeo (chair of the ECC Parliamentary Committee and golfer) and Goldsmith and their fellow greenergy travellers.

  46. Paul
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    If Labour keeps the hopeless Ed Miliband as its leader, for me there is no doubt the Conservatives will win a majority at the next election. The Conservatives, under the weak leadership of David Cameron, will continue to let down and fool the British people. The Conservative eurosceptics will continue in achieving nothing, remaining loyal to their incompetent and inexperienced leader and criticising anyone who believes UKIP offers an alternative. I have no idea why Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems do not merge together – they all represent nobody and are all happy to do whatever their bosses at the EU want.

  47. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    As a one time member of the Party, a supporting voter in all elections from 1964 to 2005 and a believer that Mrs.Thatcher embodied all that the Conservative Party stood for, I have not regarded Cameron from his early election as LOTO as anything approaching a mainstream Conservative, if at all. In fact I think he has done a very good job of hyjacking the Party. Of course the members of the Party elected him fairly, but since that time many thousands appear to have cancelled their membership or vocally disapprove of him. No traditional Conservative would have had anything to do with Clegg, Huhne, Cable and most of the non Trade Union wing of the Labour Party.

    The electorate increasingly are very disparaging of Government and politicians but perversely the “my vote does not count realisation, we are powerless” is working to their benefit in the current party and voting systems. Public opinion is and has been at odds with Government over key issues for years: EU, mass immigration, Iraq, Afghanistan, foreign aid, law and order, Human Rights Act, deportations, still ridiculous benefit system, tax fairness and more but our all knowing political parties think they know best. At some point the electorate en masse will wake up and not vote for the main parties or the Conservative Party will get back to conveying the wishes of its traditional supporters, who are probably close to the majority of voters.
    As to 2015, Cameron will not win a majority and what is left of the Libdems will form a coalition with Labour. Unless some big names in the Party start rebelling or join another party or set up the Real Conservative party the die is cast for another three years of what we have endured since 2010.

  48. Martyn
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    John, your background includes wide business and economics experience that is often very apparent from your blog. But what of those in whose hands lie the reigns of governement?

    Have any of the 3 parties’ top people ever done a real job of work outside of their political careers, having been exposed to the hard world of business, perhaps being responsible for a work force and their own living and future at stake if they get it all wrong?

    Doesn’t appear so and hasn’t seemed like it for years and most seem to be quite detached from the cruel world outside of the HoC.

  49. William Blakes Ghost
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Whilst I agree all the measures highlighted would assist the Conservatives to win a majority (and certainly were still on the table when in opposition and the Tories were polling 42% and above), Cameron has made it clear that he prefers wishy washy meaningless ineffective liberal centreism to radical reforming progressive conservatism and consequently backed those who will sit on the fence with him doing nothing. If ever there was someone whose political judgement was dysfunctional it is Cameron:

    Allowing Cabinet government to turn into a (noisy mess-ed) (Huhne et al) is weak spineless management.

    Letting Clarke destroy the Prison Service and Criminal Justice system is malfeasance

    Letting Huhne and Cable choke any economic growth with disasterous energy and non existent business policies is irresponsible madness

    Letting Clegg waste millions on his trivial, pointless and unwanted constitutional tinkering is pure negligence.

    Equivocating over the EU is suicidal

    Pandering to foreign interests and dishing out taxpayers money to foreign tax avoiders, foreign benefit scroungers and foreign bureaucratic profligates to bail out their public sectors whilst our public sector workers lose their jobs and benefit claimants lose their benefits is an affront to the British Electorate and a dereliction of duty.

    Basically, the Conservative’s biggest reason for not winning a majority at the next election will likely be David Cameron. The Conservative party need a leader with both a spine and a conservative conviction. Cameron has neither.

    Cameron wants to straddle the centre of politics but with the demise of the Libdems the old two party war will return between Labour and Conservative. If any one hadn’t noticed in a war the centre of the battlefield is usually No Man’s Land and thats where Cameron wants to position the Conservatives – in no mans land.

    There is time to change the likely outcome of the next election (another disasterous inneffectual bickering Coalition involving the Libdems) but I really don’t think Cameron is up to the task. He lacks the bottle to be a real leader just like his predecessor in Downing Street. Time for those on the right who have been so considerate of the country’s short term interest to start thinking to the medium term I think. There is no future with Cameron worth looking forward to.

    I will not be voting Conservative again until it is clear they no longer wish to abdicate the responsibility for running the country to foreign interests.

  50. William Blakes Ghost
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh and I almost forgot then there is Cameron’s star, world beating policy…

    The Happiness Index [sic]

    How ridiculous can it get ( and how many millions is that going to cost?)!

  51. Steven Whitfield
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I think this article wasn’t up to your usual high standards . To excuse what appears to be an ineffectual and disorganised ‘right wing’ of the party by suggesting they are somehow working in the national interest is foolish in my view .

    How can ‘the right’ hope to have any influence if they have reconciled themselves to sitting back as if they are merely passengers on the government train ?.

    Imagine a burning building – your argument is akin to suggesting a person trapped inside should not point out the location of a fire hydrant to the chief fire officer as it would be a ‘distraction’

    Why is it okay for Liberal Democrats like Nicolas |Clegg to express a contrary point of view but unacceptable for a ‘right wing’ Conservative MP to stand up and be counted?. I think it is this that makes the core Conservative voter hot under the collar.

    I don’t share your enthusiasm for another Conservative government – although I would change my view if I thought you and your policy’s would form a central part of it. I don’t believe that the spectacle of a renewed and victorious David Cameron, enobled by the endorsement of his anti – Conservative views is a spectacle you or your supporters particularly relish.
    A period of reflection and re-organisation on the fact that endorsing much of the works of New Labour had been a complete disaster would be the better option.

    To the prospect of another Conservative governemt I say ‘please have mercy upon us!. By the 2015 election we will have had close to 20 years of politically correct meddling government with it’s high taxes, unsustainable migration and overspending. The British people need a break.
    I urge you to join with messrs Hannan, Carswell , Bone and other like minded Mp’s and help form a re-aligned party that actually works in the best interests of this Country.

    Reply: The last thing the Conservative party needs at the moment is personality based factionalism. Many Conservative MPs are speaking out and voting for policies which can improve the country, even where this is not in line with the leadership.

    • Steven Whitfield
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Reply: The last thing the Conservative party needs at the moment is personality based factionalism. Many Conservative MPs are speaking out and voting for policies which can improve the country, even where this is not in line with the leadership.

      Thanks for your reply Mr Redwood.

      I agree that a factionalism based on personality would be a step backwards for the party. What I’m calling for is a Conservative party leadership that properly represents the strength of feeling from both sides of the party – for too long it has tilted to ‘the left’.

      I know your opinion may have been coloured by the troubled recent history of the party. But time and events have moved on – we need a more responsive kind of Conservative party to meet the challenges of 2012.
      If not John Redwood, who is the man to form the cornerstone of such a party. You are at your best when you are outspoken and bold as we saw in the referendum debate.

      As we have seen on the EU referendum bill, what is the point of Conservative Mp’s speaking out according to their personal views if the control freaks in the leadership use the whips to get their own way anyway ?

      We speak of the ‘leadership’ asthough it is some kind of remote and unaccountable body to backbench Mp’s – which indeed it is. It is all very fine saying it is a difficult time for government and we must not create difficulties – if they were actually doing the right things and dilligently bringing down the deficit. But they are not doing that – the borrowing and QE figures speak for themselves.

      A challenge to the Leadership should never be ruled out – you should reserve the right to say ‘I was elected as a Conservative MP, if you continue to spend and print money like a drunken socialist ,I and my colleaugues will withdraw our support ‘. That’s is a more healthy position to take in a democracy .

      What is the point in defending to the hilt , a Conservative party that is only conservative in name only.?. A rotten, hollowed out husk of a party – for that is what it will become if good men stand aside and let it happen.

  52. Socrates
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Time for flat tax.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Good if you are rich or poor but not for the rest So Crates.

  53. William Blakes Ghost
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Incidentally as an MP can you tell me does Ken Clarke’s latest diabolical plan for the Criminal Justice System (slashing the time before convictions are spent) include subborning convicts lying on their CV’s to explain the large gaps caused by imprisonment? Otherwise whats the point of hiding their criminal convictions from employers?

    Of course it could just be a trick to reduce sentences through the back door…..

  54. Billi
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    The problem they have is that the speeches of Mosley are available on the internet, so we can contrast and compare the old, pro-Europe Blackshirt program, with the British Conservative values of Democracy and freedom.

    Therefore to meny former voters will not only fail to vote for them, but will vote for any thing but them.

    Remove the Euro National Socialists and replace them with Daniel Hannan and you may get somewhere.

  55. Caterpillar
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    What do Labour need to do to win? Simply change the leader 12 months before a known election date. They’ll win on fresh appeal.

    Do conservatives deserve to win next election?

    (1) Attempts at focusing where competition acts in NHS. GRADE C.
    (2) Attempts at benefit caps. GRADE C+, but could move.
    (3) HS2. Grade E if one is a nimby, GRADE E if one is a supporter. This has upset people who don’t want it and upset people who understand its needed now.
    (4) BoE moving from price stability to financial stability. GRADE D. Understanding that BoE could have some responsibility for credit and asset bubbles as well as prices is an about time realisation, but not dumping all the MPC and the governor is a mistake. The BoE has completely failed on a single price mandate, has stolen from savers and pointlessly destroyed sterling. Has the funadmental link between saving and investment been improved or wrecked? Wrecked.
    (5) Europe. GRADE C-. Pragmatism rather than principle.
    (6) Scotland / the Union. GRADE E. Wishing to rush to give those north of the border a say on the Union, but not giving the rest a say on its identity is political game playing.
    (7) Education. GRADE C+ Free schools is a mover in the right direction but painfully slow (I prefer the idea under M.Howard’s leadership of vouchers to spend wherever).
    (8) Student loans. GRADE C-. Making HE sustainable is a good aim, but having the taxpayer underwrite the loans rather than the HEIs means the market won’t move to an impoved Q,P point. Dump limits and let HEIs take the strain (either an insurance market will form or pricing and course offers will modify).
    (9) Taxes in general. GRADE E – simplification needed.
    (10) Planning and employment regulations. GRADE E – no comment needed.
    (11) Support for capitalism. GRADE D. There has been no overt support, but at least there has been no more nationalisation, yet.

    And the small, non-rainbow parties at the next GE?
    Sadly only AV was offered not MMP, but the smaller parties can presumably look at the Greens. They developed a council base in Brighton and now have an MP there as well. If some of the smaller parties recognise and develop bases for three years, agree with each other where to field candidates (based on bases, major party candidate leanings and marginality), spend time pointing out that a vote isn’t wasted – the Greens did it, others can to etc, then they may have more chance to break through at the next GE.

  56. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    All this is excellent but it does depend on getting a grip on public expenditure and also on getting rid of the Lib Dems at the right moment. After the 2013 budget things should be looking up and the Conservative Party should start producing policy for 2015. On European policy, we the electorate can help by electing only Eurosceptic MEPs in 2014 – whether Conservative or UKIP.

    I would imagine that at some point the Lib Dems will want to drift apart and reassert their own identity. A year during which the coalition slowly broke up and the Lib Dems inflicted the odd defeat on the government, but without supporting a Labour no confidence motion, would probably suit both parties.

    Of course, public expenditure is not coming down fast enough and it is not only the fault of the LibDems. The Prime Minister has created too many sacred cows. At last we are planning to get welfare expenditure under control – although the benefits cap is too high except in London and the Home Counties.

    However, NHS spending has doubled in real terms since 2001. The Lansley reforms are good but we really need to get frivolous and irresponsible demand out of the system. Even though it is overwhelmingly popular, making health care free at the point of consumption is unwise. Those hypocondriacs and lonely people who just want a chat should not be cluttering up doctors’ surgeries. We should not be prescribing expensive drugs to people over 75 so that they can live long enough to suffer from dementia. When teenage girls are given abortions on the NHS, we should be extracting a contribution from the fathers etc. etc. etc.

  57. William Cowburn
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    This ought to be the basis for the next election manifesto for the conservatives!
    Why can everyone see this in the country but not the leaders of the party?
    My grand children say and my 80 year old friends as well!
    I believe we would win with such an approach; polls are only yesterday’s views!

  58. Anne Palmer
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives will only win the next General election -if there is one-if they have already taken this Country out of the European Union and set us free once more.

    I say “if there is one” because now Mr Cameron has set up the required EU Regions, why should we need two full Houses in Parliament? We can’t afford all these extra layers of Governance. We have been crippled financially by contributing £billions to EU Contributions over the many years, and then there are all the EU Agencies.

    AND NOW the people will be expected to pay for all the elected Mayors (strange how we can afford referendum on elected Mayors.) full Cabinets with all the entourage that goes with it, yet still have a Government?? REALLY?

    Remember now however. The people are wise enough now to realise that ALL THREE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES WANT TO REMAIN IN THE EUROPEAN UNION. So WHY should anyone want to vote for any one of them?

    Reply: In recent elections a big majority of the public have voted for parties wishing to remain in, even though there were parties recommending your preferred route of exit.

  59. Anne Palmer
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Reply: In recent elections a big majority of the public have voted for parties wishing to remain in, even though there were parties recommending your preferred route of exit.

    Because John, although I am not and never have been in any Political Party all my life and now of course, never will, I have until the last General election voted Conservative. I did not, obviously along with many other people, did not vote for the Conservatives at the last General election. Even I didn’t realise until come the last General election that all three major political parties wanted to remain in the EU, yet still get paid as they were Governing this Country. Even now, many do not realise that the Localism Act, HS2 etc, was not the idea of the United Kingdom’s Government.

    Had we believed the Conservatives actually wanted to Govern this Country according to its Common law Constitution, the Conservatives would have got in with a landslide.

    I am old enough and yes foolish enough to hope, perhaps even believe that there may come along one British Politician that wants actually to Govern this Country according to its Common Law Constitution. What a fool I am! Look at all the Countries that are in the European Union-really look at them. When they, like us are paying billions and billions of euro’s and us billions of pounds for the many long and weary years we have been paying Contribution into the EU plus to all the many EU Agencies-is it any wonder we are all in debt up to our necks and always will be so as long as we remain in the blood sucking EU? Every country should be rich-flowing with money for everything their people could wish for. But where has the money gone to? Most certainly there has been no cuts at all in the Headquarters of the EU or its Commission etc.

    You are in a Coalition Government, yet there is no way can either Political Party fulfil their proposals or promises either Party made before the general Election that people voted for them for. The people have every right to feel cheated. FOR THEY HAVE BEEN. Would anyone that voted for the Conservatives wanted any policies of the LibDems? Yet to keep the LibDems on board it seems to the people the LibDems have more POWER in this Coalition Ggovernment.

    This emphasizes to me, that a coalition Government’s programme, drawn up AFTER an election, cannot have the same mandate as a party manifesto, which is available to the people BEFORE they voted.

    There has only ever been one Politician I have believed and had faith in, and that was one Winston Churchill. Yet he sure made every one worked and worked hard to the better end for this Countries FREEDOM TO GOVERN ITSELF.

    reply: As someone who does want this country to govern itself I understand your frustration. However, most people are glad two parties are trying to provide some stable government after the stalemate of the last election.

  60. Anne Palmer
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Headlines in the Telegraph today, was an article re “MP’s urging Cameron to opt out of EU laws on Policing” Well on checking up on this article there was also included an “opt in” JHA too among other things.

    Mr Cameron has made a firm promise to hold a referendum should any further Sovereignty be handed over to the EU. This touches at the very heart of our Common Law Constitution for which there are still other laws that protect our Constitution from such as is proposed here.

    He has made a promise to the people of this Country, a very firm Promise which must be kept because the EU is not going away. If he decides to “opt in” to Justice and Home Affairs” or “EU Laws on Policing” , the people of this Country-probably the vast Majority of them-will demand a referendum on our involvement in the European Union. This is one promise the people will not allow him to renege on-there is absolutely no “get out clause “ any longer.

  61. Keith Peat
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Cameron lost the election by allowing Murdoch’s Sky Tv to bully him into a live debate with the Clegglet. Until then he was running away with it.

    We must never allow a Tv company to change an election like that again. Have the Conservatives learned from that?

  • 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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