The 301 group


             The usually reticent eminence grise of the Conservative party, the 1922 Committee, just cannot keep itself out of the news at the moment.

               Yesterday was election day, when Conservative backbenchers could choose the people they wish to represent them on the 1922’s Executive Committee. The committee meets weekly, and meets the Prime Minister regularly to update him with backbench opinion. It might have to lobby for more time for backbench debates, or warn that a chosen Coalition measure might not get the full Conservative support it needs. They might need to arrange meetings for Cabinet members to consult colleagues before doing something, or for Ministers   to convince colleagues about something they have announced. It is not a policy making body or cabinet. The committee allows backbench Conservatives to let off steam about aspects of government, without their comments making headlines.

               Individual MPs usually put up for election. They might write a personal letter saying what they wish to do in the job to each elector. They might talk to a few colleagues to ensure a reasonable level of support. Various MP dining clubs might discuss which of the various candidates would be best. That was as exciting as it got.

              This time there were  letters from a slate of candidiates saying they were all part of the 301 Group. I was also able to read a lot about them and their platform in the press, as they decided to brief the newspapers, which is why I mention it here.

               The agenda is apparently to secure the election of 301 Conservative MPs in 2015. 301 is the magic number, because they assume the Commons will be down to 600 MPs in total by then, following the current  boundary review. It’s an aim  that no Conservative MP would disagree with, unless to say that maybe the party should aim for a more ambitious number to be safe. Their preferred method is to up the attack on  Labour, and to use the official soundbites more regulary and loudly.

                There are dangers increating a campaign group with a press arm. This time it has not led to anyone running an alternative public  slate on an alternative manifesto. Some of the 301 ers have been elected, mainly because they are interesting people and it is a good idea to have some of the 2010 intake on the executive now they have been in the Commons for a couple of years.  All the Executive members now need to show tact and discretion, whilst speaking truth to power in private as often as it needs doing. As we have discussed here before, to win an election a government needs to demonstrate   success in its policies and actions, as well as speaking convincingly about the dangers of  the alternative.

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  1. norman
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    One of the best aspects of this site is that John Redwood rarely posts negatively or attacks people, and when he does I think it’s more out of frustration that a lot of us are too willing to give UKIP credit they’ve done nothing to deserve rather than out of malice.

    Every day new ideas, insights, and ways things can be improved. All of which ignored by the leadership. It’s tragic that a talented group of right wing MPs, of which JR is but one, have their views completely ignored so that the Cameroons can pursue policy in the same way as Labour did immigration – who cares what works, it’s enough that it gets up the noses of the right wing.

    Now we read that the grand strategy for winning power in 2015 is negative campaigning and attacking Labour. We’re not stupid, we know that Labour planted the seeds of this disaster. It’s not going to work. No one will listen though, so you’ll plough ahead with this and lose.

    I know I criticise him far too much, and unfairly a lot of the time, but having Osborne in place as chief strategist and Chancellor is so frustrating when there is so much talent languishing on the backbenches and his main qualification seems to be that he’s Dave’s best friend.

    • norman
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      On second thoughts maybe this is the only option available. What people want to know is that you can make things better, not that Labour will make them worse. That’s what will win votes. With the track record of this government there are very few who will swallow that line so maybe ‘We’re not Labour’ as the campaign slogan is the way to go.

      Pity Brown couldn’t be persuaded to make a return, Miliband is useless but not hated.

    • Bickers
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      “I think it’s more out of frustration that a lot of us are too willing to give UKIP credit they’ve done nothing to deserve rather than out of malice”.

      You’re being very unfair. Read UKIP’s manifesto; it’s made up of policies that the Conservative Party should be pushing and I don’t just mean the issue of Europe. They’re the only party that hasn’t bought into Millipede Junior’s disastrous Climate Change Act, which will bankrupt this country, regardless of the fact that it will do nothing f0r the global climate – pure folly!

    • Bob
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Every UKIP MP would have voted for an EU referendum given the chance, which is more than can be said for the majority of the Tories, even the EU sceptic Iain Duncan Smith voted against a having a referendum.

      It’s no good trying to lead us to believe that the Tories are going to get us out of this unholy EU mess because everything they do is designed to pull us deeper in. The Tories love the EU even more than Labour.

      When parliament held a vote on the EU Constitution Lisbon Treaty it was like a pantomime, with everyone playing their part including the Lib Dems who pretended that a referendum on Lisbon wasn’t enough, they wanted a full in/out referendum – tough guys eh! Of course they knew that their abstention would result in the ratification/ signing of Lisbon, but then that is what they wanted all along.

      Smoke and mirrors.

      Watch their hands, not their mouths!

  2. lifelogic
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    You say “To win an election a government needs to demonstrate success in its policies and actions, as well as speaking convincingly about the dangers of the alternative.”

    To win an election they need to make a convincing and moral case for less government, lower taxes, cheaper (non green religion) energy, stop wasting billions on the PIGIS and to get some real growth and optimism going. Alas they have wasted two years heading the wrong way and have the Libdems dragging them the wrong way too.

    Is it still possible for them to win from here, with a leader no one can remotely believe or trust and with only three years left and with the Euro still to fall apart? How will anyone take anything “Cast Iron” and “Morally Repugnant” may promise at the next election remotely seriously? I will just be thinking of their endless broken promises, the anti growth policies and Billions they have wasted on the PIGIS.

    I see that Boris want a Tory at the top of the BBC. Well just one or two might help amongst the lefty loons.

    Perhaps just someone that does not believe in the Euro farce/dream, an every bigger state sector and the absurd green exaggeration religion might be a start – preferably a sensible numerate, small state, freedom loving, atheist, anti war, science graduate – and a non “tax, borrow and waste person” for a change. When did we last or ever have one of those?

    £140,000 per annum is quite enough for anyone at the BBC too many would do a far better job than the current lot for nothing. The young musician of the year competition was absurdly dumbed down yet again, clearly aiming firmly for the idiot audience as usual.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      I see that Cameron is in his speech to business leaders in Manchester is expected to say: “We cannot blow the budget on more spending and more debt. It would squander all the progress we’ve made in these last two, tough years.”

      But “blow the budget on more spending” is what he has been doing for two years (also his mad gifts to the PIGIS and the IMF) and “squander all the progress we’ve made” what progress would that be Cameron?

      Perhaps all the new silly retirement regulations, the gender neutral insurance laws perhaps, the great bonfire of the quangos, the wonderful reductions in government tax, borrow and waste, the wonderful happy to lend banks.

      Progress where exactly?

      • Bob
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        “But “blow the budget on more spending” is what he has been doing for two years…”

        Judge them not by what they say, but rather by what they do.

      • uanime5
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        I thought the budget was already blown because low growth meant the Government had to borrow several hundred billion pounds more.

        • Bazman
          Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          That will be because of to much tax and regulation, except of banks of course. The same tax and regulations that existed when things were booming. Now they are not, the workforce and business has to take the blame for idleness and inefficiency. The answer being less regulation, except for banks who now need more, but less regulation as they are privately owned state companies, and less regulation of companies to allow the workforce to be exploited more to produce more profits, except banks who’s profits are not made from exploiting business via their employees and other companies, but from externalising costs onto business who then pass them onto the population after taking their bit. Like smoke dissipates into thin air. Ram it.

          • lifelogic
            Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

            No more just better regulation of the banks that addresses the real risks of deposit takers that the government underwrites.

        • zorro
          Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          All talk and no trousers as usual with DC….he has not delivered any growth after being unable to defeat ‘sitting duck’ Brown…..All he can do is lecture, then borrow and print some money to throw at the PIGIS….oh sorry, no we invest it with the IMF so that we can get it back with interest….Unbelievable, and we are supposed to expect that this lot are going to be able to unwind £500 billion QE (my estimate by the next election) and avoid creating/allowing inflation to take hold….totally inept.


  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post.

    Certainly the impression I got from the Telegraph was that the 1922 Committee was (again) being suborned by the Prime Minister to dodge a right wing revolt. The idea this time, it said, was that he would try and get as many junior ministers in so that he could adjust their salaries if they said anything out of turn.

    It is therefore very refreshing to learn the truth straight, as they say, from the horse’s mouth!

  4. Sue
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    For the Cameroons, the most important matter is controlling everything they can: party, Commons, backbench committees and, soon, the Lords. The ultimate goal of surrounding himself with yes men (and faux Eurosceptics) in order to cling to power no matter how unpopular he becomes with the electorate will be achieved.

    It’s a shameful exhibition of British Politics at it’s worst and another nail in the coffin for democracy. It’s a disgrace. Who speaks for us now?

    • zorro
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      He doesn’t like people who disagree with him or make him look silly….Well, he won’t have too many friends soon.


      • APL
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        zorro: “He doesn’t like people who disagree with him or make him look silly .. ”

        He also lacks self awareness.

  5. colliemum
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink


    So it is not the case then that Cameron and Osborne were and are trying to ‘reform’ the 1922 Committee into a group of uncritical yea-sayers, as was debated on another website? Something which would be against the spirit of the 1922 Committee and the way backbenchers interact with ministers?

  6. stred
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    David Cameron has previously tried to alter the rules to control the 1922 Committee, has now managed to rig the system for his bunch of incompetent twerps at the bottom of the ladder to vote. He has altered the parliamentary rules to give himself 5 years clear, even if he loses a majority. This man has no principles and what intelligence he has is restricted to his verbal skills and PR. He choses similar people to surround him. The Conservative Party roots are rotten and anyone with principles or intelligence has left in despair. Otherwise, why would they chose such a bunch of Cameron clones as candidates.

    It is time for the real conservative MPs to tell him to stick it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      His verbal skills and PR will need to be very good as they all fall off the cliff if he is to regain power again. I would prefer someone with a working compass who never said anything much at all.

      I see Lord Geoffrey Howe of Aberavon has found fault with the queens speech (not the lack of any sensible strategy for growth or the six new Quangos or lack of an real cuts). But, wait for it, a lack of a commitment to force the British to go fully metric as soon as possible – describing the current mix of miles and kilometres and pints and litres as a “uniquely confusing shambles”. Perhaps he is rather easily confused.

      Well firstly it seems to me that freedom of the individual (and Major subsidiarity con) should mean people can choose to measure things in what suites them – fathoms, hands, chains, furlongs, gills, a head, troy ounces, paces, diamond carats, oil barrels or anything else that suites them or their industry.

      Secondly they can all now be converted in a second at the click of a mouse anyway and thirdly might it not help children with their maths a little if it is not all in boring base ten (and the measure are appropriate in size to what is being measured).

      How many English people do you know when asked their height say 1 meter 76 and a half cm? Or he is very tall you know – well over 1.8288 meters just like his brother.
      Someone should ask Lord Howe his height, shoe size and length of a cricket pitch (before his has prepared some contrived answers).

      Reply: This is not a new campaign for Geoffrey. A few years ago he came to see me to seek my support for harmonising around a single set of measures. The only trouble was I am happy with the imperial of the pint, mile and pound which he did not seem to share.

      • zorro
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        He sought your support for that!?….I hope that you weren’t ‘savaged’ too much!


      • Bazman
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Metrication needs to be completed. The system is a shambles. If only the problem was just children adding up instead of shipyards and engineering having problems. Nut and thread sizes are simple in imperial measurement lifelogic? Oh really? More simplistic nonsense from you in your kitchen. You will not be arrested for drinking 1.76 litres of beer. Just for being drunk and disorderly after to many ‘pints’. The world uses metric except America. So get real.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Some press reports suggest that Cameron briefed many of the new intake (over whom he thought he had influence) to put themselves forward, so that the 1922 Committee would be rather more friendly to him, than some of the old guard had been recently.

    If the above is the case, then trying to put a lid on confidential (private meetings) real voters feedback via that Committee is a grave mistake, as those Mps who care about their constituants, and the right policies being put forward for the Country, may use a more public arena for their views with well timed leaks.

    Cameron needs to get a grip with the Country’s finances, rather than the Members of the 1922 Committee.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Cameron needs to get a grip with the Country’s finances, rather than the Members of the 1922 Committee.

      Indeed if he did that and had a sensible stance on not chucking billions at the Euro/IMF/PIGIS then he might not have such trouble from them. The are only trying to help him find his way in general.

  8. ianwragg
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    There may be a need for 301 after the next election but it certainly won’t be Tory led. Cameroon and Gideon are making such a pigs ear of things you will be lucky to gain 100 seats.
    I still think it was £30 well spent joning UKIP as even as he whole house of cards in Europe falls down Cameroon & Osborne continue to support further integration.
    The mans a liability and the sooner someone replaces him, the sooner mine and millions of other votes will become available again.

  9. oldtimer
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    As an outsider looking on, I get the impression that Mr Cameron has been trying to stitch up control of his party and that the 1922 Committee was there to prevent this. I am unclear to what extent the new 1922 Committee marks the success of the Cameron attempts at a stitch up or if it remains sufficiently independent in the face of the overwhelming power of the Executive arm of the government of which Cameron is PM.

    The other impression given by the campaigning is the public emergence of factions within the Conservative party. No doubt factions have always existed; but drawing public attention to them usually is not very good publicity. Voters like united parties as much as united governments – one of the reasons for the slump in the coalition`s ratings is the impression of disunity within it.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      The whole problem in politics is that the loonies are so often right. Just weeding them out because they are loonies, or from a different tribe is therefore very silly.
      Harold Macmillan used to visit the tea a rooms regularly and just sit there and listen to what people were saying. From that he picked up precisely what his supporters were thinking.
      Mr Blair used women mercilessly to support him and he despised parliament in his heart. That is why he made such terrible mistakes.

      • wab
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        Most of the mistakes of the last Labour government were the fault of Brown, not Blair. The worst mistake, the Iraq war, was down to Blair, but he convinced himself that that was a good idea because he wanted to be an international statesman and so buddies with Bush. If Romney becomes president, it’s quite conceivable that he would start another equally stupid war (e.g. against Iran), and it’s not unlikely that Cameron would follow along.

  10. Stewart Knight
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I don’t see the danger in creating a press arm.

    Labour, even though it is and has been since 1994, useless, incompetent, corrupt and lacking any principles or goals other than re-election and pocket ling in the long term. They have achieved office and power purely because they attack constantly with sound-bites and even lies.

    It has been particularly galling to see the Tories take all these sound-bites and lies and actually try to justify themselves and defend themselves when they should meet them head on to nullify; if Labour makes a sound0-bite out of the economy then Tories, ALL Tories, shou8ld scream that it was Labour put us in this mess. Tom Watson and the like have no principles or honour and should be treated to mass media scrums showing their hypocrisy. How did Livingstone manage to get so close to Johnson in the Mayoral election? Labour sound-bites and media manipulation.

    The majority of the people of the UK are intelligent, but too dumb at their core to believe anything but what is shouted at them, and Labour have shouted the loudest for a very long time.

    The Tories need to start shouting louder and use the media the same way the Labour party has done for near twenty years, or go back to opposition, and we don’t need and intelligent, principled and honourable opposition, we need a Government.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Except Labour didn’t put us in this mess; the banks did. Given that the Conservatives were calling for even less banking regulations than Labour it would be hypocritical to try to pin the blame on Labour.

      • Richard
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Labour put is in this mess.
        Brown’s administration overspent so much we are now left in debt for decades
        The banks were nationalised instinctively by Brown when they should have been left to go bust like any other failed business.
        Regulation is a waste of time.
        Once they get the message that they are not too big to fail things will change

        • uanime5
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          Osborne’s administration is spending even more than Brown while generating less growth. The is prolonging how long the UK will remain in debt.

          Given that the main loser would have been people who deposited their money in these banks letting them go bankrupt wasn’t politically viable.

          Had the Conservatives been in power the banks would have been even bigger when they failed because the Conservatives wanted less regulation and bigger banks.

      • Stewart Knight
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Absolute rubbish, and you show your ignorance if you think Labour are not 100% to blame and they actively encouraged the banks, deliberately.

        Labour from 1997 reveled in the revenue brought in in taxes, both income and corporation from the banks and especially from the over heated housing market. They scrapped great swathes of regulation to make it easier for banks to lend for the massive consumer credit boom, and took most powers to regulate financial institutions from the BofE and created the useless FSA. Massive housing boom fueled by easy mortgages and the biggest rise in history of stamp duty.

        That is just the tip of the Labour incompetent and economically illiterate iceberg that caused the whole mess in the UK. Brown and Labour spend spend spend with the banks the convenient scapegoats, though not completely innocent, that allowed Labour to convince some weak willed schmucks to believe it is all the banks fault; the banks did what any business would do while keeping within the strictures of regulation and is Labours fault when they tore up the regulations.

        Stop being naive and ask yourself why there were regulations in the first place, then ask yourself why Labour tore up those regulations.

        • uanime5
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          Given that the Conservatives not only supported Labour scrapping great swathes of regulation but were calling for even less regulation they are just as guilty.

          Poor regulation doesn’t justify the banks acting ineptly. Banks aren’t children who need a nanny state to guide them.

          • zorro
            Posted May 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

            Quite correct.


          • Stewart Knight
            Posted May 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

            Not in the least; you’re blaming Tories for something they actually didn’t do?

            First it was the banks, and not Labour, now it is the Tories. You said it son, poor regulation, and that was Labour, 100% guilty, and banks are like kids, as is anyone and anything else, and will do what they are allowed to do.

            Come on, tell us again who else it might have been other than Labour…..LMAO!

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink


        Do you really believe that Banks alone got us in this mess.

        Are you happy that it was absolutely nothing to do with Mr Brown and his spend, waste and tax policies, which mortgaged our future for the next few decades.

        Do you really believe that Brown by putting the FSA in charge of overseeing Banks, was a masterstroke for control and compliance?

        • uanime5
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Given that the Conservatives are continuing Brown’s spend and borrow plans, and supported putting the FSA in charge of overseeing banks it seems that the Conservatives don’t believe any of these were wrong.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Fewer, but sensible regulations, that controlled and address risk, systemic risk, gearing levels and over exuberance were what was needed. It was Labour who failed abjectly while wasting money hand of fist on nonsense and rescuing the banks in an absurdly bad way too.

        It was certainly caused mainly by Labour – but Cameron has clearly learned very little from the ERM fiasco, the Euro and the banking, the deficit and economic collapse nor from Major, Brown, Heath and the rest of the pro EU socialists he emulates.

        • zorro
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          Bearing in mind that he was Norman Lamont’s bag carrier, you would think that he would have learned something during that time!


      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        The gravest threat to our economy is private debt, public sector borrowing and public sector pension liabilities.

      • stred
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Also, Labour introduced legislation allowing debtors to dump their borrowings easily. Hence, all the phone calls from the new debt dumping industry call centres, that the rest of us have to pay for through bank charges.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        Who was it specified an inflation target that didn’t include any measure of asset price inflation? The great clunking fist, that’s who. When the money supply is expanded too fast, the money has to go somewhere. Even our ultra-timid Governor of the Bank of England warned him. But he took no notice – hence the naughties house price bubble.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      The problem is that the Tory animal is generally moderate and accommodating whereas the Labour animal is aggressive, assertive, doctrinaire and self-righteous. When have you ever heard Mr Redwood shouting or being unreasonable?

      • Bazman
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        That’ll be arrogant out of touch Tories on race to the bottom that will never affect them then? The idea that the Tories would have and supported more regulation of their banking chums is laughable. The City pays is the financial wing of the Conservative party. ‘Sensible’ means in middle class speak means: ‘Not affecting me.’ Which would be’ absurd’ and ‘pointless’.

    • zorro
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      ‘How did Livingstone manage to get so close to Johnson in the Mayoral election? Labour sound-bites and media manipulation.’……Because of the inept conduct, incompetence and U-turns conducted by the weak Coalition I would have thought….not really much need for adverse media comment, they can mess it up on their own!


  11. A.Sedgwick
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The 301 Group falls into the category of “rearranging the deck chairs….”.

    Cameron has chosen to ignore the core of the Conservative Party and consequently killed off any tribal loyalty in many previous supporters. What is happening in and to this country is wrong in many ways and virtually everyday there are examples. Yesterday another out of depth politician got her deserts at the Police Conference.

    The more mature Conservative MPs need to follow the example of Michael Heseltine when he resigned from Government and tour the Conservative Associations speaking up for proper Conservative Policies not the wishy washy stuff of Cameron. Bemoaning the situation in MP Dining Clubs and Blogs is not the answer for this country.

    • zorro
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear


    • zorro
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      notwithstanding the mess at the Border…putting people with no previous immigration knowledge and a day or two training (according to what was said at the Home Affairs Select Committee) to ‘secure the border’!……paying staff to leave and then having to pay them to come back because they remember that they are hosting the Olympics….omnishambles!


  12. Susan
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I have always believed a political party should be a broad church as I have said before. However when that is then used in a determined effort by Mr. Cameron and Mr. Osborne to close down views in their party they do not agree with, that is an entirely different matter. The 301 is being used for just this purpose. This is the sort of behaviour that went on during the years of Labour under Tony Blair. Right from the beginning of his time as PM, Mr. Cameron has put more effort and zeal into reforming his party to his view of what the Conservatives should represent than he has to actually running the Country.

    If Mr Cameron is not very careful he runs the risk of rivalling Mr. Brown as the most disliked PM.

    • zorro
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      He is certainly trying to pick up Gordon Brown’s ‘Jonah’ like qualities in his decision making processes as PM.


  13. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    “As we have discussed here before, to win an election a government needs to demonstrate success in its policies and actions, as well as speaking convincingly about the dangers of the alternative.”

    Education is a bit of problem area then – isn’t it.

    • Mark
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Nothing sensible has been done with tertiary education to rebalance it away from useless degrees towards providing better targetted vocational courses and remedial education for those cheated by the school system into innumeracy and illiteracy, or to cut the large numbers of subsidised foreign students that chew into its budgets. (I have presented the data from HESA here often enough to show that on average, foreign students are being subsidised)

      Important first steps to improve standards in schools have been taken. There is much to do after three or more decades of decline: it can’t be achieved overnight. It will be at least a dozen years before school leavers will have a chance to have been educated throughout to better standards – assuming some future government doesn’t resume the path of decline in the name of social dogma.

      • Richard
        Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Free schools and acadamies are very popular with parents and students near where I live Rebecca

        • Rebecca Hanson
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          What’s your general are Richard? I hearing about nightmares elsewhere. It’d be good to hear something positive.

          I’m no idealist – I’ll work with whatever works.

        • uanime5
          Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          Free schools are failed private schools bailed out with taxpayers’ money so it’s no surprise that they’re popular with parents. Academies usually aren’t popular with parents because they have dinner ladies instead of teachers, thus deliver a poor education.

          • Richard
            Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            Amazing that they are over subscribed.
            Follow what the customers want

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        There was an interesting meeting in committee room 14 about that last night Mark. It explained how Finnish students top the PISA ratings and continue to improve.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink


      Educational standards have been dropping for decades, how do I know,

      I have interviewed may applicants for jobs over many years.

      Its not just education standards that has dropped either, its the work ethic as well.

    • Bob
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink


      I saw this comment on Anna Racoon’s blog and thought you would appreciate it:

      ” I love the irony that we are suffering huge cost and inconvenience this summer to celebrate physical inequality and excellence but refuse to acknowledge intellectual inequality and excellence in our schools.
      auralay “

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        I dread to think how many typos you’d find in my blog on how we can resolve the issues around narrow high stakes assessment for students up to the age of 14 by integrating formative and summative assessment and properly harnessing ICT to democratise the curriculum Bob.

        Do you think you could proof it for me?
        It starts here:
        If you could post corrections as comments to the blog I’ll take them on board. Thanks. 🙂

  14. Martyn
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “There are dangers in creating a campaign group with a press arm”. Quite. The almost continual political media leaks, spin and briefings has caused a loss of trust and belief in many of our political leaders.

    Slightly OT, but what is one to make of the Chancellor and Prime Minister apparently holding opposite views on the Euro? The Chancellor repeatedly assures us that the Euro is quite safe and essential to our nation, whereas the Prime Minister yesterday announced that the Euro was in a real mess and the EU needed to get a better act together asap – the implication being that if they didn’t do so the Euro would fail. Was this a deliberate affort on their part to keep Parliament and voters in a state of confusion, or simply a lack of joined-up competent working together?

  15. Pericles
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “The [objective] is apparently to secure the election of [a majority of] Conservative MPs in 2015.  …” — J.R.

    That sums up the Conservative Party of Mr. Heath, does it not?  The only objective is to be in power ;  that is why, instead of leaving Labour to sort out the mess it had created (something it was quite willing to do) and in the due course to annihilate itself, the Conservative leadership forged this wretched coalition that will likely annihilate not only the Liberal Democrats, who will be missed only by themselves, but also the Conservative Party.  Mr. Heath would have agreed to anything to get his hands on the keys to number 10.

    Any hope that the 1922 Committee might have conveyed the feelings of true Tories to the leadership – might have toned down the socialist and Whig policies of H.M.G. – has now evaporated.


  16. Timaction
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    ……………”to win an election a government needs to demonstrate success in its policies and actions, as well as speaking convincingly about the dangers of the alternative”.

    So remind us how the Government is doing to repatriate powers from the EU, reform the CAP and CFP, reduce its costs, NOT contribute to the IMF for a bailout of the Euro, immigration, foreign aid, reform the Human Rights Act, cut public spending????………..

    I’m afraid out here in the real world all we see is more of the same, increase in taxes both direct and indirect for more socialism from u turn Dave and George. Too busy massaging their ego’s to get any Tory policies through. Meanwhile the £26,000 benefit cap is way to high and an insult to anyone earning less than £35,000, especially when its paid to those 370,000 families where no one has EVER worked!!

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink


  17. waramess
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Perhaps discovering why only 32 percent turned out for the Council elections might go some way to developing meaningful policies. To dismiss the low turnout as people not bothering or as it impacting on all parties equally should not be an option.

    The Conservative leadership must think long and hard, outside the group of chums as well as within otherwise they will lose the next election in spades.

    It was hard to understand how the present incumbent was actually unable to score a decisive victory against the much despised and indeed loathed Brown, but fail he did.

    Now he is pitted against the feeble Milliband and he is managing a repeat performance. and should Milliband follow in Balls footsteps and offer a referendum on the EU before Cameron does then I suspect it will be a rout. Maybe even Tebbit would vote Labour

    I wonder when the Conservative party will wake up to the ineffectiveness of this one trick orator

  18. Mark
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I have a different interpretation of the 301 group: 301 MPs will be just enough to ensure another coalition government in a Parliament of 650 MPs (which now seems likely, given Lib Dem attitudes to passing the necessary measure for boundary changes). This group, like Cameron himself, seem to prefer coalition to majority government.

  19. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    As things stand, 301 will not be enough to do what needs to be done on Europe. There are a number of dyed-in-the-wool Europhiles who simply won’t obey a 3 line whip (about 10% of the parliamentary Party?). Perhaps Mr Redwood should set up a 331 group and explain why he has selected a bigger number.

    The alternative is to purge the Augean stables and get rid of all Europhiles from the Conservative Party candidates list. How? Who is in charge of that list?

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      You will need more than 331 it is much more than 10%.

  20. Guy Forks
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I really do think that the government is playing on the dark side. Thats why Cameron and Osbourne have both taken part in Bilderberg. Bilderberg is of global importance, and is now advocating Rubio with Romney.

    Even without the terrifying importance of Bilderberg, this government has managed to pass three bills which will damage the fabric of society. They did these in a way which was reprehensible, with welfare reform bill, legal aid bill and health and social care bill.

    The really sad thing is that this was so unncessary. Its motivated entirely by greed and money, the grim fact is that in a recession the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Using the media the government has launched a cynical campaign of propoganda against disabled people. The welfare reform bill went through a scandalous process in the house of lords and was eventually forced through in its ugliness with financial privilege. The legal aid bill followed it closely, which was also cynically planned to fraudulently attack disabled people. The Health and Social Care Bill which is like a ‘hand grenade thrown into the NHS’ was also conducted with brutal suppression of sense, and was accompanied by a risk register which is yet unpublished.

    But now this is done, we are left with an aftermath which no politician has been able to forsee. The reason is that no MP is disabled and on benefits, being told to find a job which does not exist. Make no bones about it Johnny, after the olympics the country will go down disgustingly. First 500000 disabled people will be cut off support. With nowhere to turn to they will turn to the NHS. With no drugs, no homes, no future, there will be acts of desperation. People with mental health issues will set fire to themselves in public places. The NHS will fail. Rapidly there will be a state of national emergency. Tory toxicity will harm your party for the next three decades.

    Politicians will be scratching their heads wondering how this happened, because all over UK people will be angry and desperate. All because a handful of (words left out-ed0 super toffs have done a hatchet job on UK.

  21. Bernard Otway
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Just like to some of my comments on here,they want to close down opposition and debate from the Right,as I have said I conduct my own Poll daily with the at least 5o different people I come into contact with,and more than 80% are of the same opinion as me and others on here [the majority].Like for instance on Immigration read Leo Mckinstry in today,s Daily
    Express THEY ALL FEEL LIKE THAT,and other commenters like Hitchens,Hefer and
    James Delingpole.From my point the source I asked people to read from the USA which John completely censored about especially Immigration and the RACE issue,I have handed out photocopies of his last 10 articles of the last 2 months to 300 people since I was so censored
    with the comment to each recipient that “This is what JR wants BURIED’ and to me this is SINISTER WHY ???????? you cannot STOP information and debate and IF you do you have
    to deal with the consequences and opprobrium. Lets see IF this appears IF it does send the
    ambulances to me with cardiac arrest specialists.

  22. Steven Whitfield
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Who knew it was that easy to achieve electoral success !! – form a grouping with a catchy name to press for one more Conservative Mp than the other party’s. I had this old fashioned idea that an Mp should instinctively want to win elections anyway…..

    Perhaps some Conservative Mp’s had lost sight of the political basics (to hold power and have influence through popular support).

    I suspect this is true of Mr David I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative Cameron who is more at home within the Liberal Democrat party.

  23. A Different Simon
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    The country is going through the u-bend and all our politicians can think of is a P.R. campaign . You would have thought they would have learned that News International is not the answer .

    Quote Ed Davey :-
    ““The UK’s first carbon capture pilot, opened at Ferrybridge last year, is an early example of what CCS means in terms of jobs and growth ….”

    How can artificially and unilaterally penalising ourselves help growth and do anything other than kill growth ?

    Why is the Govt spending £1 billion of our money on this ?

    Apart from anything else that is a huge amount completely incompatible with the research element . The money must be going to quangos and other jobs for the boys . Time to call in the fraud squad .

    In their rush to tell us “Britain is leading the world” in this latest vanity project , our politicians completely fails to grasp why that is – specifically other countries have no intention of ever doing it except to use if for enhanced oil recovery .

    As usual H.M. Govt is making a fool of itself and showing how remote it is .

    To put it in terms they might understand the public is not impressed .

  24. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    It will not “wake up”. 301: never again! Mr. Redwood yours is a rump party; Cameron will be less supported (as opposed to the nebulous “popular”) than now in six weeks. Ted Heath was a political genius compared to this lot. Utter hubris.

  25. David Saunders
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    If the 1922 Executive Committee becomes simply a cheerleader for the government and is packed with MPs desperate for promotion, the purpose of the original formation of the Commitee in 1922 will be lost. In this case, the reaction will be, almost certainly, a new means of private debate for backbenchers using a different forum, perhaps called the 2012 Commitee.

  26. uanime5
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Somehow I doubt the public will be impressed by a press arm that exists to criticise Labour. Especially if this group doesn’t have any alternative plans and mostly produces spin.

  27. Terry
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Alas, you don’t say whether they are of any use to the electorate as their opinion seems to fall on deaf ears in Downing Street. Therefore, unless they are given more bite to their squeaky bark, they are a waste of time and space. It is very clear that the present Government have made some appalling decisions – many contrary to the wishes of true Conservative voters. If Cameron & Co cannot accept the advice of the 1922 committee nor the judgement of the electorate, then the Conservative party will be punished in 2015 and beyond. It is quite obvious what the country needs but Ted Heath-Cameron seems to want to hunt with the hounds as well as run with the foxes. Real leaders do not do that.

  28. Chris
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    It is helpful to have John’s analysis. However, as always, it is the perception (by the electorate) of what David Cameron and others have done with regard to the 1922 Committee that will count. There are many facts reported of previous action by David Cameron with regard to this Committee which are not edifying, and when these latest developments are viewed in the light of what has gone before the situation does not look encouraging.

    What I believe so many politicians still fail to factor in is the power of the internet. There is a large amount of accurate information/facts (as well as inaccurate) at the fingertips of the electorate available on critical issues. However, there is this assumption by some politicians that the “narrative” can be engineered in order to be palatable to the electorate without the electorate realising. This is what causes such anger and contempt for politicians amongst voters – the fact that they are treated as unintelligent, and incapable of assessing and processing information.

  29. Atlas
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I am confident that the Germans and the French will do something to avoid Greece leaving the Euro. We’ve been up this “it all going to crash” track too many times over the EU’s history and seen it not happen.

    Cameron’s public intervention will just mean that Merkel and Hollande can now publicly ask for us to help bail Greece out more than would otherwise have been the case. Cameron should have kept his opinions for private consumption.

    • zorro
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Interesting…..Cameron stated that he would do whatever is necessary to protect the UK economy. Notice that on this point he appears not to be ruling anything in or out (whatever is necessary) …….just saying.


  30. Electro-Kevin
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Is it 301 because ‘that number will do’ ? It smacks of ‘centre ground’ politics.

    It seems that it does not matter that an election is won on a minority turnout so long as it is won.

    All academic really. Without a massive economic turnround – which seems unlikely – the Tory party will lose to Labour.

    This is because the promises that would have made the pain worthwhile have been broken.

  31. John Eustace
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I wish the 1922 Comittee well in resisting the efforts of the Executive to steamroller them. As John clearly understands these battles within the party must be kept behind the scenes as the electorate severely punishes parties that are divided at election time.

    • Steven Whitfield
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      The public in general prefer free thinking Mp’s and are grown up enough to know that debate is necessary.

      My view is that the electorate punishes the Conservative party when it deludes itself that supporting left wing policies will broaden it’s vote share. The divisions within this party are a consequence of policy decisions not the cause of election defeats.

  32. David Langley
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I think the 1922 Committee is a great idea, it gains credibility if the ideas and knowledge of the members is well received.
    It could frustrate where those ideas and comments are seemingly ignored. Keeping the committee’s activities confidential is of course essential but I buy in to the idea that the leadership is not a dictatorship.
    I am slowly getting to feel that the EU project is running out of steam. The problem I have is that it was inspired by greed and certain governments allowed policies that would satisfy an uneducated and ignorant electorate, and keep the current leadership in power so they could milk the EU for all it was worth.
    I have no problem with those countries now having to undergo “Payback” except sorrow for those that praise the Euro because they dont understand what is happening to them and why.
    JR does your 1922 committee have these warnings in your past minutes? Does your committee
    fully understand why we are in hock to EU banking systems because we have to pay up when called? Do they understand that it is all one way and we cannot interfere or meddle with EU leadership?

    • uanime5
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Who exactly are the “current leadership” of the EU? The leaders of the 26 states that make up the EU? If so then the EU plan didn’t work as most of those leaders have been voted out.

  • 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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