Who is on the centre ground?

Modern politics is dominated by a very simple theory. It is a dumbed down version of Blair’s triangulation. The theory states that a party of the left has to attack the left and show it is moving towards the centre to attract the floating voters there, whilst a party of the right has to attack the right and show it is trying to occupy the centre ground in its turn.

As with so much modern politics there is little thought and lots of spin. As I have argued before, the idea of “left” and “right” is far from a good way of analysing modern politics. Is David Davis of the left for wanting more civil liberties? Is Yvette Cooper of the right for wanting more state control and more police to improve public order and safety? Is a Eurosceptic Labour figure right wing because he is Eurosceptic? Am I left wing because I want to end our military involvement in Afghanistan immediately? And so on.

We should also question who all these voters are, huddled on the centre ground. They may dislike both Labour and the Conservatives, but many of them are far from being in the middle between Labour and Conservative positions. Indeed, Coalition and Labour positions on many things are so closely together, that it would be difficult to find people camped between them. Both the Coalition and the Labour front bench support quantitative easing, a high deficit, reducing the deficit in due course, increasing current public spending, cutting public capital spending, owning loss making banks, staying in the EU as currently constituted, welfare reform to make it more worthwhile working, more Academy schools and the rest.

Indeed, because both main parties believe the theory of moving to the centre, it is inevitable that they end up together on many issues, bumping into each other with enthusiaism to show how moderate and centrist they are.

The floaters, however, are a very varied group with many differing views. Many of their views lie well outside the polite spectrum of views espoused by the three main parties. Large numbers want to pull out of the EU altogether. Many wish to restrict immigration very tightly. Some think both Coalition and Labour are far too generous on benefits to the workshy and recently arrived. Many think both main parties are too weak on crime and punishment. Many think politicans of all persuasions overpay themselves and waste loads of public money. These people would be said by the sloppy theorists to be well to the right of polite society.

Others think both the Coalition and Labour are far too mean on state pensions and other benefits that matter to them. They think students should have grants, not loans. They think the state should be much more generous over care for the elderly. They think the state should do more to regulate every aspect of private sector commerce which annoys them. They are said to be to the left of the main parties.

The problem for the theorists is both groups are not in the centre but outside the parties narrow definition of the acceptable and affordable. Worse still, many people have elements of both agendas in their thinking. You meet people who want to pull out of the EU and have a higher pension, and who say stopping the EU contributions would help pay for it. You meet people who both want to have fewer migrants here, and who want more generous care for the elderly. Voters refuse to be pinned down in the silly left-right boxes the politicians and their analysts often use to decribe the people they wish to represent. They should get out more and listen to the voters.

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  1. Adam5x5
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Is David Davis of the left for wanting more civil liberties? Is Yvette Cooper of the right for wanting more state control and more police to improve public order and safety?</i<

    Surely this is the wrong way round? The left prefer ever greater state control and nannying and the right prefer individual responsibility.

    The floaters, however, are a very varied group with many differing views. Many of their views lie well outside the polite spectrum of views espoused by the three main parties.
    Which is why politics is becoming ever less appealing – you’re not listening to what the people want, you’re trying to guess or tell us what we want. If you listen, we’re telling you, which is…
    Large numbers want to pull out of the EU altogether.
    Many think both main parties are too weak on crime and punishment. Many think politicans of all persuasions overpay themselves and waste loads of public money.

    The problem for the theorists is both groups are not in the centre but outside the parties narrow definition of the acceptable and affordable.
    God forbid we should not conform to the parties’ definition of acceptable. *roll eyes*

    They should get out more and listen to the voters.
    Which is true. The problem is that a lot of politicians go out, meet the voters, nod, smile and agree. Then when they’re in power, do what they think is best anyway as they think they are the boss. They’re not. Politicians work for us.

    Discouraging career politicians would be a good idea. I could see the party that only lists people with a history in industry/business being very successful as people would relate to them a lot easier.

    • Disaffected
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I agree. The flaw with JR’s view is that he is second guessing what the public wants. There will always be a variety of opinion, but on some key issues there is public consensus and the politicians ignore it. Lord Tebbit wrote an article which explains it is not about left or right or centre, but about COMMON GROUND where ordinary working people should be rewarded with policies that reflect the normal aspects of life. It pays to work, teachers have authority in the classroom to act as surrogate parents to help behaviour in society, success is rewarded not failure, welfare should be a temporary state not a permanent life choice, the few workers should not have to pay for shirkers, less state and big government, stop telling the people what they want and LISTEN, minority views should be tolerated and respected NOT forced on everyone else, it is not for the majority to conform to minority views etc.

      As above:
      Cut public spending and stop squeezing every penny of tax from us- ALL departments should work towards this not a star burst approach like the current situation. Cut government spending it is not hard to do.
      Out of the EU
      Stop mass immigration
      Crime and disorder- there should be consequences for criminal behaviour so there is a deterrent. Prison is a better living environment than most prisoners homes.
      Stop political correctness/green babble- Cameron completely out of touch in this regard- Women’s minister FFS
      A society where meritocracy is promoted, ie not the current Vince Cable/Prof Ebdon dumbing down of university education.

      • zorro
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Thanks and well said, you saved me some time today – Find the Common Ground by listening…..


        • nicol sinclair
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          Ditto, Zorro although I arrived late in this discussion…

        • Timaction
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          I agree with these comments. The fact is the politicians know what the public want on public spending, welfare, immigration, EU, Human Rights etc but just ignore us. If we want more of the same just keep voting for the same LibLabCon. If we want REAL change there is only one true patriotic party who will look after the English and take care of the issues of concern for the public and its none of the above. Everyone is waking up to this.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Parliament should be fixed for 4 years. A quarter of the house shoul be re-elected each year in May. More promises would be kept.

      MPs are possibly not paid enough. The expenses was a result of needing the cash to live and maintain a level of professionalism that many of us do not require. Much as though I like to show disdain for politicians, I do accept that their job isn’t easy. I’m not sure many people would welcome a TV interview where they are hostile to you. However it should have been income and therefore subect to the Tax they put on the rest of us. Maybe the 40% band would be lifted then.

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Right to recall MPs as promised by Cameron and Clegg- still waiting. Laws would be out on his ear, no chance of being an MP let alone back in cabinet. Even his father was quoted as saying he was lucky.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Not sure about the compatibility of having a quarter re-elected every May and a general election every 4 years. Wouldn’t this result uneven lengths of term, with some being very short?

        Although I like the idea of having a quarter re-elected every May. How about this instead of a general election and the quarter in question merely rotates every year?
        Would certainly make for interesting politics as we could end up with a new government every year.
        Could see possible issues with stability of the system though…

        • Mark W
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          That was the idea. No general election. Just 4 quarter elections in every 4 year period. Every May. No more getting elected then ignoring the public until the next poll 4 or 5 years later. A quarter of the public would have the chance to remove government every year. Admittedly people who move house may vote more often but that’s life.

          I can’t see that the cost would be any greater than current system. Would it produce less stable government. Possibly, but only the party’s machines will feel less stability.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      “Politicians work for us” well not really many mainly respond to their party (as being deselected by the party is the surest way to lose the seat), then to the PM as they would often like a government job, then to their outside “consultancies” and perhaps the EU and other potential jobs, TV interviews and TV dancing perhaps and other outside interests. Then, and finally, they perhaps consider the voters interests if an election is near.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Exactly the problem.
        How to ensure the voter’s interests are considered by their representative?

        More regular votes? Compulsory 6-monthly open debates with the public by each member would be a good start.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    I want to see:

    Civil Liberties, smaller Government, no pointless counter productive wars, no EU, fewer regulations, a sound currency, lower taxes and green religion tosh, immigration that allows the right people in as needed (rather than almost anyone), a policy based on real science and real economics.

    Does that make me left, right or just sensibly in favour of what works and what provided maximum benefit for the population, on average, in the long run?

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      The student loan will for many be, in effect, a grant. You need to start after university on about £38,000 to have much chance of paying it back fully. Few overseas student will pay it back, certainly few woman who take career breaks (so it is clearly rather sexist in its action), and few in the north. It will be another tax on London the South East and a few select overpaid professions.

      I see the BBC today is much concerned (indeed as it usually is) by the fact that women do not study physics and science very much. In my experience most are simply not interested or motivated to do so. Why is the BBC so desperate to change human nature and what sinister methods are they proposing to force them? They seem to think it needs to be taught differently and feminised somehow. Distorting the physics to become PC perhaps as the BBC have done with the green religion.

      Of course if male and females are different, on average, in motivations (as all the evidence shows they clearly are) then it is completely (stupid-ed) to suggest that the pay gap is due to “discrimination”. But then logic was never a strength of the arty, politics of envy, Harriet Harman type, emotion led BBC and their hilariously irrational programs like Woman’s Hour.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        It seems only 20% of Physics A level students are female and that half of state schools have no female Physics A level students at all.

        They also report that physics graduates earn about £100K more over their working life than non science graduates. Mind you as they are nearly all men and men, anyway, earn more (due mainly to fewer career breaks) this is perhaps not at all surprising or very significant. A point the BBC seem to have missed given their agenda. Woman without children apparently do already earn more than men a point the BBC also rarely make.


        • Norman
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          On the bright side 23% of labour MPs knew the odds of getting two successive heads so all those ppe degrees aren’t a total waste of time.l

          • lifelogic
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            Where did you get that depressing statistic from? It seems you can never underestimate the intelligence and numeracy of Labour MPs not that the others are much better. Surely even 10 years old children know that.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        It seems that in England in 2011 physics was the fourth most popular subject for A-levels for boys in England. For girls it was the 19th most popular. Surely this says rather more about boys and girls than it does about the way Physics is taught.

        Not of course to “BBC think enforced equality” people though. Will they demand some sinister, test tube, genetic re-engineering one wonders?

        • zorro
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          But this is the logical consequence of forced diversity and equality….Perhaps it will next be not enough black or Asian students or homosexuals studying another subject. But don’t worry it keeps lots of people in jobs monitoring and coordinating all of this stuff…..


          • lifelogic
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

            “It keeps lots of people in jobs monitoring and coordinating all of this stuff…..”

            Yes but then the tax levied to pay for them all destroys perhaps 10 times more real jobs in the wealth creating sector, by making them uncompetitive -rather like the imagined “green jobs”.

          • zorro
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            As you probably know, I was being ironic….


        • stred
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          My bird and my friend’s passed A grade A level physics. One is a scientist and the other a GP. Neither of them understand how anything works. It was just something to learn in a book. They are both very good at their jobs though.

        • nicol sinclair
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          But neither you nor the BBC you can change the genes, Lifelogic…

          So, in case I do not make myself clear, I agree with Lifelogic (and Zorro and anyone else who will post/has posted similar prognostications).

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

          For those interested in the subjects boys and girls prefer to take here’s a list of the subjects with the composition of the class.


          Based on the percentage of the class that is male or female it’s possible to determine which subjects each gender prefers.

          Girls prefer the following:
          Performing / Expressive Arts (87% female)
          Welsh (78.6% female)
          Sociology (74.5% female)
          Art & Design subjects (73.4% female)
          Psychology (72.9% female)
          Communication Studies (72% female)

          Girls dislike the following:
          Economics (32.1% female)
          Mathematics (Further) (31.2% female)
          Other sciences (22.8% female)
          Physics (20.8% female)
          Computing (7.5% female)

          Obviously the subjects girls like has a low percentage of boys in it and vice versa.

          • outsider
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            Dear uanime5, what an interesting list. And who are we, individually or collectively, to say that these pupils are not making the right choices to suit their personal priorities? It does rather suggest that, strictly on averages, fewer girls are interested in high pay than boys but, again, who is to say whether mathematics or psychology is more likely to qualify you for a top job?

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps boys and girls, men and women, have different interests and aptitudes. And just possibly thousands of years of evolution and different social roles have something to do with that.

            There, I’ve written it. See you all in the Tower of London.

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        I do not see female/male quotas being imposed on some jobs where women are in the majority such as: nurses, care staff at old people’s homes, ‘dinner ladies’, infant and junior school teachers, teaching assistants. Some jobs are suited to genders and they are good at it because of their gender. No queue for women applicants at abattoirs, being a bricky, digger driver and no government quotas, why? So why are the government and EU fixed with the number of females in board rooms? Or should I say the government is fixed with this idea because the EU says it should be? Why have a woman’s minister? After all we are all equal under the law and they make it!! How about a Jedi minister, scientology minister, man’s minister, heterosexual minister, lads minister or a transgender minister- politicians have lost the plot from ordinary people.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          You do realise that we are only a short time away from being arrested for views like that. Common sense and experience will count for nothing. Nothing like text book theory to dictate life.

      • Nina andreeva
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Overseas students pay upfront and at a rate about double what a UK student does so the claim about them not paying their loans back is a fallacy

        • lifelogic
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

          Not for EU students they get the same soft loans and fees and few will ever pay back.

      • wab
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        “I see the BBC today is much concerned (indeed as it usually is) by the fact that women do not study physics and science very much. In my experience most are simply not interested or motivated to do so. Why is the BBC so desperate to change human nature and what sinister methods are they proposing to force them?”

        Really, if you want to bash the BBC then you should at least pretend to pay attention to what they say, rather than just espousing your usual knee-jerk view of the world:

        “Girls were two-and-a-half times more likely to go on to study A-level physics if they came from a girls’ school. The same is not true of other science subjects, suggesting that physics is uniquely stereotyped in many mixed schools as a boys’ subject.”

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        The government make political choices to spend our taxes over and over again. When they say there is not enough money for educating our children at university or helping the elderly in their dotage it is complete rubbish. It is not a priority for them, but they will not say that.

        It is affordable if they stopped other spending which they choose to do ie EU, overseas aid, Whitehall support staff ie two support staff for very front line military personnel- this would not work in business. Clegg has a huge back room office, why? So he can finish early? Osborne could spend more time in the Treasury than No.10 pretending to be a political strategist we might see an improvement in the economy. He should not be taking his staff’ view but making his own after scraping beneath the surface; as we have seen today by the West Coast Rail cock-up. Greening was not on top of her brief, she should resign or be sacked for incompetence. It has cost us, the taxpayer, £40 million. £40 million that could be spent elsewhere or go towards paying off the debt. The lunacy of the energy policy, the lunacy of the OFFA to dumb down university education for political ideology, look at the lunacy of all the quangos. If every penny counted the deficit and debt could be reduced or spent wisely elsewhere. These jerks do not have personal consequences for their incompetence or poor decisions- why not? Right to recall MPs ASAP and more refernda.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Sorry “no green religion tosh” I meant of course.

    • Single Acts
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      for me it makes you electable!

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      You forgot the right of the state and employers to plunder the undeserving poor as this is what is best for all concerned including the poor. Workers rights to be eroded to zero and forced labour for those able to pay for living expenses without working or claiming benefits if they have skills that can be used by the state or preferably a private company. Did I just make that last bit up?

      • Mark W
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

        How can employers do anything to the undeserving poor? The undeserving poor go nowhere near employers. Undeserving, idle, feckless call it what you wish but to be employed means working.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          There is no working poor? What planet are you on the majority of the poor work. Ram it.

          • Adam5x5
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

            I don’t think that’s what he said.
            Plenty of people globally work, yet are considered poor by global standards.

            The conflict here is from the term undeserving poor. I think Bazman, you mean those who are (what you see as undeservedly) poor – ie. they work hard but earn not a lot. Wheras Mark I think had the same interpretation as myself – that the poor were not deserving our assistance as they were bone idle and wouldn’t make an effort to support themselves even with our help.

            Correct me either of you if I’m wrong, but maybe we could all do with a clarification of terms?

          • Mark W
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink


            There is no working poor? What planet are you on the majority of the poor work. Ram it.

            If you actually look what I wrote it was that the “underserving poor” go nowhere near employers. You used the term in your initial post. I did not use the term “working poor” as I do believe that there is a large amount of working poor.

            The point you missed was one of your own. Why are the “working poor” poor. Possibly because they pay heavy taxes to subsidize the “underserving poor”, who are underserving becasue they won’t work and have dedicated themselves to living off the backs of others.


            I think we are on the same page on this one, as I think Bazman was too. The term underserving poor has long been a stick used by the left to attack the right. As people like myself do care about the poor but couldn’t give two hoots for the underserving poor.

            I’m awaiting my lecture with delight and looking forward to ramming it.

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

            It’s quite simple. Most of the poor work in Britain. The idea that if they paid no tax they would not be poor is a fantasy. The problem is that they often cannot get enough hours of minimum pay to even pay tax and have to claim benefits to live. If you have more than four children then you would need top have quite high rate of pay and get enough hours to make working economically viable. Put this in the context of unemployment black spots and age/skill. Viable work becomes very difficult to find and other methods of income must be sought to pay bills. Is this what makes them undeserving? Maybe you could have local committees to decide whether families were deserving of state support with local busy bodies inspecting individual homes for cleanliness, drinking/smoking, SKY and evidence of the ways of righteousness. Singletons by default undeserving? Basically what you are trying to achieve is to cut benefits by citing a percentage of the hardened feckless and using this as a lever to reduce benefits for the majority in order to increase desperation, which will create work. How work is created from desperation is not clear, even to you protected by past and present circumstances, the MCSSS probably. Enjoy your lecture? Ram it.

          • Mark W
            Posted October 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Rather enjoying lecture thanks. I think we only disagree on one issue. Undeserving to my mind is those that don’t and make no attempt to work. The definition ends at that point.

            Low wages, unavailibility of hours, no work (of any type) are a different thing. And of course of civilised society has to have a safety net. But when they safety net becomes an option then the idle and feckless gate crash the party. I’m not sure that four or five children is a reasonable lifestyle choice to expect others to pay for though.

            I just feel something should make the safety net lose some of the benefits that working pro

          • Bazman
            Posted October 7, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

            Can’t argue about having five children and expecting the state to pay for them, but how is it possible to stop this? It isn’t and what if two divorced/bereaved people with three kids get together? Charity or workhouse?
            The punishment for not working is that you are always skint unless you have multiple children and neglect them by spending the money on yourself.

  3. David Jarman
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Politics is about making people believe they live in a democracy when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Only the uneducated vote in main stream politics.

    • David in Kent
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      David Jarman, you undervalue voting. It is the critical method we have for holding politicians to account and getting rid of the ones which we don’t like.
      As John Redwood describes, the desires of the vocal elements in the population are frequently incompatible and need to be reconciled into a coherent policy by someone. In doing so and also taking account of the views of the less vocal, the politicians are bound to offend some of the most vocal and that is as it should be.

      • nicol sinclair
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        David of Kent.

        First paragraph = ‘tosh’.

        Second paragraph = better. Actually, bang on the money.

      • David Jarman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        This must have been written by a politician, as David from Kent says, complete TOSH! I could spend all day destroying that statement of yours but try this one for a start, what options were given and how many voted to send £54M PER DAY to Europe? When Ted Heath signed us in to the common market he was advised and KNEW it would lead us in to a European superstate but sold it on a completely different platform. The way they get away with it is because 95% of the population are dumbed down, watching mind mushing TV INSTEAD of holding our politicians to account. Research the BILDERBERG MEETINGS and who has attended and you might start to realise where your “democracy” is decided. Wake up! John Redwood is one of the few in office I truly believe tries his best to represent the people and communicates with them which is very rare in parliament. It was disappointing he did not win the leadership back in the day. Which leads back to BILDERBERG and look at the media moguls who have attended.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          Dumbing down is not new. Every so often I re read Brave New World. I still think that Huxley’s 1930s view of a utopian nightmare far more accurate than Orwell’s magnificent 1984.

  4. MickC
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    There is no Left or Right. There is only more or less State control.

    Hayek was not Right-just right.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Ultimately you are right. Big state or little state.

      Take the NHS,(some-ed?) hospitals are (not clean enough-ed). Yet the footfall in any supermarket is far higher and their staff can mop floors. Nurses used to be capable of this but once some interfering politician got the idea of university educating all nurses they seemed to think the job beneath them. Law of unintended consequence strikes again. And always will. Private enterprise gambles with its own livelihood, particularly in small independent business, therefore bad decisions are less likely.

  5. Reaper
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Indeed, the attempt to position to gain the theoretical median voter is a flawed concept.
    Only FPTP and party infrastructures have to date prevented such dumbing down backfiring massively; Cameron’s lurch to the centre has left many former Tory voters feeling disenfranchised.
    In many ways parties could be said to be prepared to abandon their roots, their core support, their very heart in the pursuit of power.

    The statistical basis upon which such strategies are made fails to take account of those who see nothing to inspire them in the political options on offer and in the absence of a “none of the above” option often decline to vote. There are many more people disengaged from the political process than floating in the “middle ground”, engaging with and inspiring even a proportion of those people could pay much greater dividends, but then that would take more effort and understanding than the simplistic centrist nothingness that we’ve slid towards.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Actually FPTP has contributed to all three political parties becoming identical as they’re trying to appeal to the largest minority. In countries with PR the parties have to offer different policies in order to appeal to different groups of voters.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      We have had a none of the above option for years. Simply spoil your paper

  6. norman
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Didn’t this get settled years ago? There is no such thing as the centre ground, only the common ground.

    I guess today’s fresh faced bag carrier polticians are much like George Osborne and think that history is bunk and they are here to construct a new paradigm and shape human history, the new ubermensch, Guardians, Caesars, call them what you will, history is littered with them and their vainglorious failures.

    They should just accept that human history shapes politics not vice versa and do what is sensible according to the times, not according to how they see their particulr brand of Utopia. A touch of sense too much to hope for from this bunch of clowns though.

  7. colliemum
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    John, your post for today is one which should be made required reading for all politicians and journalists.
    Your last sentence ought to be copied down, in fine handwriting, one hundred times by all concerned – copied in hand writing because that which one has to write down by hand remains in the memory for longer.

    It is interesting that political divisions are still perceived and maintained on the back of last century’s ideological distinctions.
    Perhaps what we are seeing now are post-ideological voters, better informed than ever, who are not so much ‘centre ground’ but ‘common sense ground’.
    Are the people ahead of the journalists, politicians and political theorists? I think so …

  8. lifelogic
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    People do not know what they want until they see it.

    I am quite sure that a proper small government, low tax, no green tosh, less EU, large growth agenda could win huge support as Mrs Thatcher showed. Providing the moral and practical case for it was properly made. But with the BBC dripping socialist, politics of envy on the nation, at every turn, is this possible?

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      You could add a large client vote in the benefit class, and the bias nature of lefty teachers too

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      How about your dripping of right wing fantasy? Have you decided if UKIP are to dispersed or to compact yet? Or a private company with only one customer is a private or state funded one. To name just a few of your tangled minds conundrums. Not answering or pretending the questions have not been asked does not help you or many of the other right wing fantasists supported by the MCSSS. Ram it.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:12 am | Permalink

        What’s MCSSS?

        • Mark W
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          I’m glad you asked that. Possibly some “in joke” at the local Socialist Workers club.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          MCSS. Middle Class Social Security System. Yes. A sort of socialism.

          • Adam5x5
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

            I must admit Bazman I’m actually generally curious now.

            Middle Class Social Security System fantasist.
            Would you consider me to be one of these?

            Also, how could you determine from the information given, if a company is private or state funded if it has only one customer?
            Surely you require more information?

            Note: I’m not trying to be difficult or provoke an argument. You’ve actually genuinely sparked an interest in the responses.

          • Mark W
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink


            You beat me to it. I’m genuinly interested in an illustration of this.


            I’m sincerly not trying to spar for fun, I’m interested in this.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

            First rule of the MCSSS. It does not exist.

  9. Pete the Bike
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    What about those voters that have come to realise that party politics is the problem not the solution.? Maybe they see that “democracy” is really an illusion maintained to encourage the tax slaves to work harder than they would if they knew the truth. Perhaps they even think that government is a group of people that have the monopoly on coercive violence in a geographical area and violence is the absolute enemy of freedom, which means that government is the enemy. Revolutionary thoughts but lets hope that enough people do see through the never ending propaganda to prevent the ongoing slide into socialist totalitarianism.

  10. lifelogic
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I hear that Miliband went to “a comprehensive” and believes in “one nation” I think it was mentioned about 1000 times yesterday. His speech seemed to be addressed at rather dim 6 year olds’.

    Did anyone hear him say anything sensible? He seemed not to understand the difference between Millionaire (which I would think he probably is anyway) and earning a £Million PA thus getting a £40,000 tax cut, (getting a cheque written by Cameron as he wrongly puts it) . Should someone so confused be allowed to run anything at all?

    • Martyn
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Miliband, in mentioning “one nation” so many times in his speech seems to have forgotten that it was his Labour party which devolved the UK and split England into regions, each with a hugely expensive and ineffective regional goverment. These were deliberately devisive measures which together with their unrestricted immigration policy were designed to undermine middle England and leave it isolated, unlike the other UK countries, without a government of its own.

      “One Nation?” – the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments (not sure about N Ireland) each want yet more independance (to be funded by England, naturally) and Miliband babbling on “one nation” is pure spin. His party was directly responsible for breaking it apart in the first place and it is clearly risible for him to now claim that he will rebuild it.

      Mind you, he made a good, lengthy speech without notes and did score several important points over Messrs Cameron and Osborne but, at the end of it, I thought to myself ‘This man and his belong firmly on the list of politicians I would trust any further than I can throw my bungalow down the road’.

    • APL
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “Miliband went to “a comprehensive” and believes in “one nation” ..”

      I saw his pathetic speech, the mindless meja blowing it out of all proportion, just like they did with Cameron. They really have as low opinion of the general public has I, a member of the general public have of them. A sort of mutually assured loathing.

      Back to the ‘speech’, every time I heard him use the term ‘one nation’ I thought, he’s gonna accidently add ‘tory’ on the end. That term used to belong to the wet wing of the Tory party, One nation Tories, it was a lie then and it is a lie by Millibrain now.

      Labour, the party that has done more to promote the fracturing of the nation by its immigration policies, its attempt to claim to be a unifying force is just risible.

      Yet the current ‘Tory’ (snigger) administration have had two years and refused to substantially reform the immigration policies of the last Labour administration. That is a betrayal.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      The absurd muddying of water between millionaire and million in income is dishonest. The rebuttal on the million income should at least be to calculate the amount of tax that they still pay.

      I’d like to know what sort of comprehensive Ed Miliband went to. Was it the school fee by mortgage affair or the Blair approach of the Oratory.

      But fear not Major-state education, Blair-public school. The result of that election?

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Haverstock Comprehensive School in Chalk Farm, North London near Primrose Hill, Swiss Cottage, Camden and Hampstead etc

        • Mark W
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          Thank you. For a period in the early 80s I knew chalk farm well. Primrose hill struck me as posh. Without knowing the school I’m guessing it fits the posh comprehensive school scenario and not the inner city sink they try to pretend it is.

    • zorro
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure how he can be a millionaire looking at his employment resume. Apparently, he was one of the ‘saints’ of the expenses saga. He has married a barrister, and might have got an inheritance off his father, made some wise property investments, or perhaps won the lottery…..


      • lifelogic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Given that a decent small flat in central London now cost more than £1M then I suspect he, perhaps together with his wife, they probably are. Perhaps he will show us the £40,000 cheque. if and when the Government sends it to him as he wrongly said they were.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      He said many ‘sensible’ things. The main one being the banks my way or the highway bit. We do not respond to threats. That is your business and your decision etc. If you heard any of this from Dingbat you would be in awe and you know it. Surprised me as I was spitting his name for a while and had him down as one of those witless managers who hide behind everyone and in their offices. Lets see if he can keep up the momentum. Your elitist ideas and pandering to the rich are well dead.

  11. NickW
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I think that post sums up the situation perfectly. It is wrong to assume that the floating voter and the abstainer is a centrist it’s just lazy thinking.

    What both Labour and Conservative have been missing for years is a vision of the kind of Society which they would like to aim for. Labour cannot be honest about theirs because it is utterly repellent and in practice, doesn’t actually work, and the Conservatives simply don’t have one, or if they do, they have not succeeded in communicating it effectively.

    Most people want the same things out of life; clarify what they are and aim for them.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Labour had their shot at an ideal society. The biggest example was from 1917 until 1989. I guess Cuba or Eritrea might allow some diehards to join their comrades.

      The Tories are largely frightened into portraying their real conservative vision as they swallow the leftist self righteous nonsense enough to brand themselves the nasty party. But only socialist countries pointed guns at their own people on their borders. And the Anglo capitalist societies have people trying hard to get in

  12. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The two main parties dream up their own version of the centre ground. If either Party represented the true centre ground of the country i.e. what the majority want then that Party would win a landslide. The classic recent example is Cameron refusing an EU referendum in 2010, which most agree would have won him an outright victory. He chose not to for his own reasons, mainly as we now know and previously suspected he is in the wrong Party.

    The majority of this country think we are full and immigration must stop, Afghanistan is a tragedy, benefit scrounging needs to be stopped, foreigners and recent immigrants should not have full benefit entitlement, the human rights act is barmy likewise much about health and safety, windmills are a crazy way to produce electricity, our Defence capability has been weakened too far, state overseas aid needs slashing or abolishing not ringfencing, our fuel costs are too high, law and order is too soft and the police have become obsessed with pc.

    The majority in this country are working or have had a working life or are bringing up a family(another contentious issue – full pension rights for stay at home mums), and have to manage closely household budgets. Being critical of Government wasting our taxes, not spending them wisely and unfair handouts to all and sundry is the common ground and is why Margaret Thatcher won three elections. The diehard socialists hate her because they know there is no answer to her political philosophy. Since her departure we have probably had the four worst PMs in our history.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Thatcher is the only breath of fresh air between 1945 and now. It’s a shame she failed to spot the danger of the EU until it was too late. She never reversed the absurd decision to smash Grammar Schools. (A policy Germany has)

      • zorro
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        I think so too, she had a genuine zest to be practical and achieve things rather than theorise from a privileged position.


  13. DaveK
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I believe in yours and other blogs such as Lord Tebbits, that the area is described as “the common ground” and not defined by a rigid left/right stance (which can lead to Monty Python argument sketch territory).

    Using left and right means that a shift either way would move the position of the centre, which seems to be the way Mr Cameron operates, rather than the “common” position remaining fairly static. The common position does however appear to shift depending on the perceived affluence of the country at the time.

  14. merlin
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I can sum up my own political position very easily the individual is more important than the state. All 3 main political parties agree that the state is more important than the individual. The result of my political philosophy, freedom, the result of the 3 political parties philosophy totalitarianism.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. The biggest division is inceasingly becoming the people against the politicians.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m alright Merlin as they say. No doubt you are another waster in disguise. No round table for you is there? Ram it.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I’d have thought that the moderator might have picked up on some of the spiteful and ignorant nonsense you write here sometimes. Why do you have to be so ill mannered?

        • Bazman
          Posted October 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          Maybe you could enlighten me on why my views are spiteful and ignorant nonsense? This constant right wing nonsense of creating desperation and hardship by lazy fatalistic proposals that they themselves would be willing to accept in their own lives is highly offensive to me, so in the mean time I will take any attitude I see fit and my manners are my business Ram it dear chap.

  15. lifelogic
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Just in case we needed yet more evidence of the incompetence of the state sector and the Coalition we now have the West Coast Main line fiasco. Tax payers will, as usual, pick up the bill it seems, for the millions spent on wasted bids. No one will resign, be fired or even have to miss lunch, one assumes.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      West Coast Main Line contract fiasco ‘will cost taxpayers £40m’ as reported in the Telegraph today. Still cheaper than HS2 cost just so far, I understand, and that hopefully will be scrapped soon or kicked into the long grass.

  16. alexmews
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Somewhat off topic – but if anyone wondered whether green tax was about environmentalism or revenue – you can see the answer for yourself here.


    The gaping maw of government spending needs desperately to be addressed. Fuel duty is meant to cover the environmental issues presented by larger emissions and to drive folks to more efficient vehicles.

    Going back on topic now – politics these days is all about finding new ways to bribe the electorate with their own money. It is not about choices but about having THIS and THAT – a process any parent knows about as we run up to Christmas. The longer the electorate continues to fall for this scam; the ever more desperate we all become. It is not the politics of the centre; it is the politics of infantalism.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      So instead (OK as well as) taxing fuel they want to load a tax on cars with big engines (could just as easily be a tax on engines which are painted red) and subsidise cars with small engines .

      I suspect they are incapable of seeing that the energy required and therefore fuel used are determined more by the weight , effective frontal area , speed driven at , distance driven than the swept volume of the engine .

      Even if they were capable I don’t think they would be honest enough to put all the tax on fuel instead . That would be simple and “goal oriented” and encourage increased efficiency , weight reduction and frontal area reduction whilst not restricting the designers freedom .

      Politicians never consider the long term consequences of their actions .

      The dumbing down has come home to roost .

      There is no hope for the UK with LibLabCon in charge .

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Many politicians do not consider anything much, beyond conning voters at the next election, their expense claims and “consultancies” it seems.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        That would be simple and “goal oriented” and encourage increased efficiency , weight reduction and frontal area reduction whilst not restricting the designers freedom .

        Reducing the frontal area would be difficult. It’s fairly consistent across car types (~2m^2 for a standard family car as I recall).
        You’d be better trying to reduce turbulence (although some is required) or otherwise reducing the drag coefficient.
        If car manufacturers were serious about it, we’d all be driving raindrop shaped cars…

        • Adam5x5
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          Alternatively we could reduce speeds – but cars have a speed at which they are most efficient.
          Perhaps we should campaign for this also to be published like the 0-60 times?

          • A different Simon
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Adam ,

            Old car magazines used to measure and publish constant speed fuel consumption .

            Here is Autocar in 1962 on a U.S. spec (lower axle ratio) Jag E-Type 2+2 with manual transmission . Figures in U.S. gallons rather than imperial :-
            30 mph / 29.2 mpg
            40 mph/ 28.2 mpg
            50 mph/ 26.7 mpg
            60 mph / 24.8 mpg
            70 mph / 22.2 mpg
            80 mph / 20.0 mpg
            90 mph/ 18.6 mpg
            100 mph / 15.7 mpg

            Overall during normal driving , 18.7 mpg .

            The relationship between speed and wind resistance is the same in 2012 as it was in 1962 .

            Even with electronic management , whether using petrol or diesel , all other things being equal a modern car is going to use significantly more fuel at 60 mph than it would use at 40 mph (unless the engine is run in a very low gear at 40 mph) .

            Can’t see too many people driving that speed by choice . Still politicians might like the idea of compelling us plebs to drive at 30mph – 50mph under the name of climate change whilst their Zil lanes are empty .

          • Adam5x5
            Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            Agreed, the principles are the same now as then.
            I also didn’t know car magazines did that – I’d like to see them starting again.

            Aerodynamically speaking Power required is a cubic function of Speed – double your Speed = 8x Resistance.
            The point I was making, rather unclearly I admit, was about the engine running speed. If you graph the specific fuel consumption against the revs, you get an inverted parabolic (roughly) shape.
            Run the engine at the bottom of this curve and you minimise fuel consumption.
            Doing this in real life is very difficult it would be easiest with a Continuously Variable Transmission allowing you to run the car at this speed permanently (at least until the resistive forces match the output from the engine).
            Alternatively we could use variable compression to alter the output curves – but this is nigh on impossible in a fourstroke, though I think Lotus have done some research into a two stroke which could be promising…

          • A different Simon
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            Yep good to have an engine/transmission combination which is optimised to the proposed usage .

            If you go for a diesel the mechanical compression ratio is higher , constant and the power is metered by controlling the amount of fuel rather than the amount of air admitted . Thus a diesel should perform more efficiently at lower loads than a throttled petrol engine .

            I radically altered my old Cortina with a V8 engine from a Ford Fairlane requiring recessing of the bulkhead etc .

            It always amused me that most people considered a passenger car to be a precision piece of kit beyond the modification of a layman . Given the wide range of service they are expected to perform with 1 passenger , 5 passengers , a roof rack a caravan etc they are hardly precision .

            I chose the Jag E-type article purposely because the car had a manual transmission rather than an automatic with fluid clutch/torque converter so was more representative of what we have .

            Actually had one (2 seat fixed head rather than 2+2), on UK roads overall it gave me 18 imperial miles to the gallon tank average . Those SU carbs are brilliant for the road .

      • David John Wilson
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Putting all the tax on fuel and getting rid of VED has a number of advantages. Getting rid of the red tape of the licensing process. Creating a more level playing field with foreign vehicles particularly HGVs. If part or all of the VAT was also moved to fuel tax this would reduce the disadvantage of higher prices in the more remote areas of the country as the duty element would be constant.

        • wab
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

          “Getting rid of the red tape of the licensing process.” Yes, how terrible the “red tape” is that once a year the government requires that you have an MOT and insurance before you can drive a car, eh. While the MOT is a bit over the top in its requirements, it’s better than nothing, and people who drive without insurance are a major nuisance.

          There is nothing wrong with having both the VED tax and the fuel duty tax. That means the total tax is A + Bx (x = fuel used), which seems like a fairly sensible formula. Of course A and B are arbitrary, as with all other taxes on the planet. The idea behind A is that the roads need maintenance even if you only drive 5 miles a year, so you should contribute to that. The idea behind B is that the more you drive the more damage you do to the road and to the environment. There are plenty of ways to deal with the foreign vehicle issue, and for ordinary cars it is a small problem.

          The extortionate tax on “gas guzzlers” is a typical response of the sanctimonious and puritanical middle class people who run the country. (The Lib Dems are the worst offenders amongst the big three, but all the parties are bad.) Fuel duty makes sense because if you choose to consume twice as much fuel (e.g. by having an inefficient car, or by living far from your workplace) then you pay twice as much tax. But apparently it is “immoral” if you choose to have a “gas guzzler”, because this offends the sanctimonious and puritanical middle class control freaks, so they have to clobber it.

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        Big engines equal power. You cannot beat cubes and power equal fuel. Despite all claims to the coronary.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Luckily your theory books are only at the ladybird level for engineering. Larger capacity and power do not equate proportionally with fuel efficiency. For many factors.

          Clean engines with lower particles have poorer fuel consumption .

          I’m sure you’ll find a textbook on it somewhere.

          • A different Simon
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

            A piston engine achieves greatest efficiency at about the engine speed at which it achieves maximum BMEP (brake mean effective pressure) .

            This is the engine speed at which it makes peak torque . Running the engine at that speed at a load which does not require a rich air/fuel ration gives max engine efficiency .

            In general a larger swept displacement engine is running at speeds and loads further below peak efficiency than a smaller one so in general what Bazman says is true .

            Manufacturers like Bentley (VW) and Cadillac even cut fuel off from some cylinders at low loads to force the remaining cylinders to operate at higher load and higher BMEP ; aka capacity on demand .

            At the end of the day what matters is the results , not the approach used to achieve them .

          • Bazman
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            I was just talking about brute power.

        • Adam5x5
          Posted October 5, 2012 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          While the old “There ain’t no substitute for cubes” is true, it is only true up to a point.

          ‘Big engines equal power’
          I think you’ll find there are diminishing returns involved. The bigger the engine gets, the harder it is to make it make more power than the smaller size. This is due to the difficulty of burning the fuel in the cylinder resulting in ever less complete combustion.
          It isn’t actually possible to get complete combustion, and the more fuel you chuck in, the harder it gets.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

            In the real world for example a motorcycle there is some physical constraints. ie the length of the stroke. The engine becomes to tall, the cylinder bore is increased but can only be increased so much. The engine becomes ‘over square’. leading to rough running and less power as you say. Smaller bore more revs per min being the answer. In the case of the Suzuki Hayabusa 1299 cc = 81.0 mm × 63.0 mm (3.19 in × 2.48 in) The piston moves less than 2 1/2 inches and revs to 13000 rpm giving 175 bhp-200. Another method would be to increase the number of cylinders and configuration, but this becomes complex heavy and expensive with often regressive problems.

          • Adam5x5
            Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Interesting choice of example.
            Making an engine oversquare does not necessarily make it rough running. Making it overly so would, however oversquare dimensions are used as a method of chasing high power values as it allows extremely high rev speeds due to the short stroke – the short stroke means the average piston speed stays low (anything above circa 24m/s will rip the steel to pieces, precise value obviously depending on the alloy used).
            The expense is that your engine will make a lot less torque as the throw is very small – not really an issue on a Hayabusa where there is no virtually weight to shift.

            Look at a diesel engine – say a 2.0L TD. In the average car it would make approximately 130hp. or 65hp/litre, and will make bags of torque as the piston is designed with a long stroke by necessity.

            Compare that with an engine from an ocean liner – where you can actually stand up in the piston cylinder with plenty of room to spare.
            0.96m bore x 2.5m stroke, 1820 litres/cylinder
            7670.6 hp/cylinder
            It gives you 4hp/litre displacement.

          • Adam5x5
            Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
          • Bazman
            Posted October 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

            Over oversquare was my point. Big bore kits increasing cc by increasing the size of the bore are often a bit rough because of this. They can also lack torque, but 1000cc+ motorcycles do not lack torque. I can vouch for this whatever you have read. The acceleration is almost blackout inducing.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      PS , UK politicians have a dismal record with regards to taxation on cars .

      From the 30’s onwards , cars were categorised by “RAC horsepower” .

      This was based on the sum of the area of bores eg 4 cylinder * (25mm * 25mm) * pi for a four cylinder car with a 50mm/2 inch bore .

      This encouraged designers to come up with long stroke narrow bore engines .

      Thus there was little incentive to move from side-valve and l-heads to overhead valves as due to the narrow bore the pair of valves would have to be so small that they wouldn’t flow diddly .

      Combined with inadequately supported crankshafts (often only 3 main bearings) and pool petrol the situation was made even worse .

      Almost every British car made from 1930 to 1955 had an embarassingly rubbish engine which might wheeze it’s way to 40,000 miles before rebuild with a few decokes along the way .

      The Dustbin 7 might have been decent if it had had a proper engine and the same can be said of almost every other British car .

      Contrast the American auto industry where they didn’t try to discriminate against short strokes and ended up with much more efficient and powerful free breathing overhead valve V8’s from 1949 .

      The designers weren’t handcuffed either and they came up with the first automatic transmissions in the same era .

      Why do politicians feel they have the need , let alone the right or the qualifications , to interfere with everything when they know next to nothing ?

      • Adam5x5
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that Simon.
        Very interesting stuff I didn’t know – I admit I don’t know much about the 30s 40s and 50s UK cars.

        I agree – politicians like to stick their nose into things they know nothing about. Hence why I think politicos should be from the field they govern – or at least a scientific/engineering background or similar which allows you to analyse and gets to grips with the basics of a theory quickly to make an informed descision.

      • Mark W
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Fascinating post. Thank you

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        America had cheap fuel is the short answer to that. A V8 in Britain was a non starter to use a pun.

        • A different Simon
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

          No arguments there .

          Just prefer legislation and regulation to be “goal oriented” leaving the designers to do the designing .

          Cubic capacity like bore area is just so arbitrary and an artificial way of categorising engines , let alone the complete package of vehicle .

  17. John Ward
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t have put it better myself.
    I have long felt our Left/Right obsessions to be sclerotic and pointless.
    Mr Redwood signals once again here that he is much closer to the National Pulse than most of the Westminster Windbags.
    Watching Mr Miliband’s performance yesterday, the fuss surrounding somebody stealing a 170 year old idea was ludicrous: so stale are our politics now, old ground gets trampled on over and over again.
    In the inner circles of power, there simply are no people with new ideas.

  18. Faustiesblog
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Political parties are losing their legitimacy. Once, they were an agglomeration of like-minded people with a significant number of shared views, such that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts in terms of the party’s reach.

    In those days, members views were important – as was their financial support. Now, centralisation has squeezed members’ views out, replacing them with party insider views. Now, party insiders make the policy and sell it to the members – rather than the other way around.

    Now, the parties represent big business and NGOs (domestic and, increasingly, global) – not the views of the members and not the views of the populace.

    The parties proposed’ solutions?

    * better communication, they warble,
    * simpler message, they opine,
    * better ‘minority’ targeting, they say.

    It doesn’t seem to cross their minds that grass roots policies will automatically be held in better favour. Perhaps they’re all too busy having their pockets lined by those organisations which have purchased them in all but name.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Another perceptive analysis to which you should add that we want a government that is competent. Today’s announcement on the west coast main line franchise shows, yet again under the coalition, a level of incompetence that rivals the previous Labour government. The calibre of personnel on the respective front benches is poor. We now have to endure ministers who lack vision or belief. Make sure the presentation is good seems to be the order of the day. A far better cabinet exists on the backbenches but, alas, we shall be denied their talents.

  20. merlin
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    We have reached the point now in politics where if you vote for any of the 3 main parties all you get is basically the same, there is no real difference between any of them. So effectively the voter today has no choice, maybe this is why the apathy party is the most successful party or maybe this is the hidden agenda political strategy to ensure that in the future we are governed by a totalitarian regime. As an example european politics, the EUSSR dominates european politics and westminister is just an amusing sideshow.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Your wand is getting tired. Same old same old. Your no government state is not going to happen in a modern society. Expectation are quite rightly to high for this.

  21. Acorn
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Some of us moved on from the linear to the planar definition, as shown in http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010 . Notice the positions of Conservative and UKIP. Imagine if we had primary elections for Westminster at least; I would love to see what that compass plot for 650 candidates would look like, rather than 13, sort of, collectives, as we currently have. Issues have replaced ideologies me thinks.

    BTW. I am in favour of pay-as-you-use public sector services, particularly if it comes in the form of a government issued credit / debit type card. (The government promises to pay 95% of the cost of your GP appointment; and / or promises to pay £5000 to your child education, state or private, etc. etc. You get my drift). Well if you are a Quango times is ‘ard. Your budget has been cut but, the government has passed a law that says the HSE for one, can now charge you for kicking your a**e. If you thought changing regulations is easy, have a look at The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1652/pdfs/uksi_20121652_en.pdf .

  22. The PrangWizard
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I am one of those who have moved away from traditional thinking, and have moved from being a Conservative Unionist to embrace English nationalism. Yes, English Nationalism. It can be mentioned, it is legitimate. Devolution to Scotland in particular opened Pandoras box because devolution deliberately and conciously excluded England, and the English are at last realising that they were unreasonably excluded, and are being disadvantaged, in terms of both identity and wealth. The traditional parties ignore the democratic aspirations of the English. It is a constitutional outrage, and that England as a nation is treated as if it does not exist, repeated in parts of the media. I will not give examples here, patient moderator and readers. I have turned my support as a result to the Campaign for an English Parliament, and the English Democrats party which also wants an English parliament, and is developing policies to with this in mind, but independent of traditional ties to either Left or Right. And it is anti-EU.
    Whilst I am sure there are MPs who support an English parliament, they are limited, it seems, to being able to speak out only on the EU. Few if any speak in support of an English parliament or campaign for it. Should we detect hypocrisy, when they support devolution to the other nations? Why? Why? Is it just too revolutionary? We, the people must decide.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      UKIP first; that will drive the SNP entirely off the reservation (& they will be free to return to (old habits-ed) should they wish). Then, de-facto, we shall have England (sans dead weight!).

      • Christopher Ekstrom
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        Cheers to whomever substituted “old habits”; rather better in its enigmatic reserve. Knew my suggestion was too cheeky; sorry!

        • Bazman
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          As many as that?!

      • Norman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        (Condemns racism against the Scots by the English)

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Remind me how many UKIP MP’s there are Chris?

    • uanime5
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I suspect there’s little support for an English Parliament because if England devolves then the UK Parliament’s functions will be greatly reduced. This will most likely result in a reduction of MPs and Lords.

      • Norman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Labour voter? Can’t see too many tories losing sleep over the influence of 50 Labour mps. No wonder miliband is one nation all of a sudden.

        My tip: watch Osborne. If he is put in charged off 2014 Scotland has been written off and is this a second term I see before me? Osbornes ‘punishment’ for the loss will be lord chancellor or party chairman, basically name his job and a chance off a decent chancellors (Bo Jo?).

        • Mark W
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          If the Tories want to choose a current high profile Politician as chancellor then not BoJo. Philip Hammond would be a better choice. Although I would be happier with JR but that is unlikely

  23. forthurst
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I have just arrived on JR’s blog, when there were 23 moderated comments, in order to read those varied responses to JR’s post, only to find that 16 out of those 23 were from lifelogic, none of which I would describe as unexpected in its content.

    • Richard
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      You should be thankful for small mercies, there could have been 16 posts out of 23 instead, from unaime5 and his pal Bazman!

  24. Solly Gratia
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ have certainly become useless terms, like ‘working’ and ‘middle’ class. The divide is between ‘Interventionists’ and ‘Libertarians’. This cuts across the old divides, although not everyone is consistent in economic, social, or legal terms. For instance, Daniel Hannan is an economic Libertarian but a Tory none the less, but JR is obviously Libertarian on at least foreign policy. the trouble is, people can often be Libertarian when it comes to what they don’t want others to have, but interventionist when it comes to what they want. If schools taught politics and economics as basic subjects (like maths and english), we might get somewhere.

  25. Daniel M
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Good blog post. Left and right are completely blurred terms, but useful for simpletons I suppose.

  26. Winston Smith
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    As the more intelligent commentators are finally concluding, LibLabCon are all offering the same EU dominated, corporate socialism and debt based, short-termist economic failure. The differences are exaggerated in a contrived manipualtion with their friends in the media. The only alternative to this con and for a better future for our children and gradnchildren is UKIP.

  27. merlin
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    One of Cameron’s great achievements is the decrease in the membership of the Conservative party while Labour membership has remained fairly constant. What is also clear is that the political class are even more detached from the population than they ever were before. The cycle of detached political class and non voting public is a system that needs to be broken and no-one has the solution, anyone any ideas? I doubt whether compulsory voting would solve the problem-answers on a postcard, no prizes for the winner though.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Try voting UKIP, Merlin. Lets put the magic back in Merrie Old!

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        An England that never was and never will be. Even in the minds of Daily mail readers.

    • APL
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      merlin: ” .. answers on a postcard .. ”

      The political classes favored answer is of course tax funded parties. They would then be utterly divorced from the average man and woman in the street.

    • Norman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Unless over 100k postcards (e-votes) are received, then we simply ignore the plebs.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Disaffected and Norman above both mention ‘Common Ground’ a sound response to your excellent article.

    Mr Redwood writes “They think students should have grants, not loans. They think the state should be much more generous over care for the elderly.” The people I talk to are more upset about the disunited response to these charges, live just over the border in Scotland and Wales (paying the same tax rates) and your children are treated differently. Parents out of work, the children are treated differently after graduation, why when it is based on career earnings of the child after graduation with no up front fees? The EU students being given British taxpayers loans that the state mechanism for earnings taxes to repay them can’t be done easily abroad. This all needs stopping immediately.

  29. oldtimer
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the political parties, you conclude:
    “They should get out more and listen to the voters. ”

    Indeed they should. Whatever methods they employ (focus groups are said to figure large in their methods) they are not very effective. The three traditional parties are failing in the most obvious way – declining market share as measured by turnout at elections.

    Their attempts to cluster around their idea of the centre ground have failed. The controlling political class is dominated by PPE graduates. They exhibit remarkably narcissitic tendencies. Each seems to gaze into the same shrinking pond. They are also adept in organising their affairs so that Buggin`s gets his turn every five or ten years. There will be little change unless and until this narrow self-selecting circle, which spans the three parties, is broken and sent packing to do actual work and are replaced by people with actual experience of the world.

  30. sm
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    On the EU, on immigration,on banking, on the ECHR, on offshoring and outsourcing, on simpler tax.

    The Ancien Regime as you put it is now more or less at their ‘Let them eat cake moment’

    The continued and current policy actions, have drifted far away from the electorate.

    Sorry , i want clear choices and immediate actions on the main issues not deception!

    Beware the LibLabCon!

  31. Neil Craig
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Partly it is, as you say, that “left” & “right” are meaningless terms. You won’t find any 2 “left wingers” who define it the same (arguably “right wingers” aren’t particulalrly consistent either).

    Partly it is that “its the economy stupid” is the major issue in almost all elections & anybody who can convince they are significantly more competent at growing it should win – this should not be difficult since the competionm in Britain is so abysmal or we wouldn’t be in recession when the HOUSE countries are achieving 7% annual growth.

    But a large part of it is the control of political debate exercised by the state broadcasting monopoly. The BBC get to define who is “moderate”, who is “extreme”, what the major “issues” are (catastrophic warming, gay marriage, falling government spending, increasing racism/homophobia/hate speech in Britain, the world recession) & what isn’t (world growth rates, getting out of recession, immigration, the threats to free speech particulaly by the BBC, war crimes by our politicians, hum,an progress) and what may or may not be said about them and by who.

    There is conclusive evidence that there is a close correlationn between state ownership of the media, particularly TV & authoritarianism & economic failure. http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/shleifer/files/media.pdf Britain has some of the most state owned broadcasting in the developed world and even moreso in the Anglosphere and if we want to live in a free society where political debate is uncensored we have to get rid of the BBC.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Admittedly off-topic, two interesting and related articles today.

    The first is in the WSJ:


    “Merkel, Mario and the European Money Machine”

    “Why risk death at the polls if you can bribe your voters with cheap money?”

    “Say goodbye to the ECB as inflation-fighting Praetorian of monetary probity; say hello to the Euro-Fed as cash machine. Never mind its statutes, which do not allow for money-printing, let alone for bailing out member states. The old rules ended up in the shredder at the end of July when ECB chief Mario Draghi unveiled the new dispensation.”

    The second is in the FT:


    “ECB is tangled in its own logic on Greece”

    It points out that there is little prospect that the Greek government can repay its present debts, but those holding its bonds now fall into five groups.

    Of those five groups, three can be considered more or less untouchable:

    The IMF, which must always be repaid.

    Greek banks, which must be repaid to avoid a collapse of the Greek banking system.

    Private investors, who have already taken a massive hit and now have bonds written under English rather than Greek law.

    Therefore, it argues, the other two – the ECB (€55 bilion) and the eurozone governments and their rescue funds (€126 billion) – must agree to take losses on their holdings if Greece is to stay in the euro.

    It ends:

    “The ECB is tangled in its own logic, after saying it would be treated equally with private bondholders if a country it helps under its latest rescue plan were to default. Yet it continues to insist it cannot accept a similar default in Greece, because that would amount to (illegal) monetary financing of a government. It cannot have it both ways.”

    My answer is that the EU has moved on from merely bending and stretching the law, to brazenly breaking it; but then my question is why on earth we should want to remain part of an organisation which pretends to the world that it is committed to the rule of law, and even has the arrogance to claim that its own legal order is superior to our national legal order, while clearly having no respect even for its own laws when they prove inconvenient.

  33. Michael Read
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Excellent illuminating analysis. Stick to thinking. Stay away from the nation’s trees.

  34. stred
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Politics is about Bungs. The ‘left’ attempt to bung as much money and privileges to their supporters as possible in the form of subsidies, credits, housing and free immigration amongst others. The ‘right’ see this as counter productive, encouraging the recipents to be lazy and (have lots of children-ed_. They also do not like having to pay for it and the necessary administration. They are Anti-Bung.

    Civil liberties and state control are less well defined, being supported by ‘right’ and ‘left’ , where anarchists and conservative align.

  35. Charlie the Chump
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Surely the whole calculation of just where the “centre ground” really lies is skewed by the fact that greater and greater numbers of voters either do not vote at all nor participate in polls or focus groups?

  36. Andy Baxter
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood;
    Representative democracy is unfit for purpose, way past its sell by date and frankly is nothing more than living under ‘democratised dictatorship’ i.e. evidenced by your last sentence, where not one of the political class ‘listen’ except they pretend to do so once every five years when they come crawling for votes.

    We have a legislative assembly (Parliament) stuffed with vast numbers of the executive (Government and its ministers)so true separation of powers does not exists that can counter the endless reams of SI’s and other nonsense that spouts forth from the cabinet office and the EU.

    There is no left or right in politics now; the line has shifted from the vertical to the horizontal and we ‘the have not’s are governed by ‘the have’s’ who live above the line and are immune from even prosecution for such things as stealing public money via expenses. And the ‘it was within the rules’ excuse just does not wash with those of us still with a moral compass.

    Where is the legitimacy of the current coalition? Not one party garnered enough votes to achieve a majority for going after the supposed ‘centre ground’. It does not exist except perhaps unless it is full of people who are not apathetic but angry at the current way we are governed.

    As further evidence of the gulf betwixt or should I say how high the bar is above the rest of us, known as the franchise and the political class and I count you in amongst such I offer these links.


    it matters not this was in response to a Labour conference for the same scenes would be repeated were it Conservative or Lib Dem because party members or the general franchise because all are so excluded from policy or influence on such. The anger is palpable, it’s real, it’s becoming visceral and beyond the gated, fenced off, security barriers, hundreds of thousands of us are so angry at;

    a) Not being listened to
    b) Feeling powerless to influence (for we have not the corporate or big money cheque books)
    c) Having no voice to mirror our genuine well thought concerns and fears for our country’s future
    d) Taxed till the pips squeak both directly and indirectly to pay for all the incompetence and malfeasance.

    There is a wind of change coming people; some of us up and down this land have had enough and are taking the first tentative well thought out steps towards something bigger than personalities and brand image spouted at the party conferences. It may take some time but its building slowly and intelligently.

    Watch out; watch out for its coming to you with a simple message;

    “Do you want something you’ve never had?”

    Yes. True democracy along with the ability to exercise REAL power as sovereign people where it matters at a local level.

  37. Mark W
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I dislike the left and right terms. We appear stuck with the labels though.

    Surely David Davis on the issue of liberties is a Right wing thing though. Less state interference.

    State control and interference with every aspect of life is a Leftish thing. There have been authoritarian Right wing regimes, Hitler being a good example, but I can’t think of anthing remotely right wing about the Nazis. State Control, State corporatism, Totalitarian national police force. All Left wing.

    The Left have only one jewel in their crown. They started the fight against racial discrimination. The Right were slow to catch up. Although Wilberforce was a Tory.

    Labour did achieve one thing in 13 years of power. The minimum wage. The Tories should be ashamed of themselves for not adopting it sooner that 1997. It has been the greatest tool for eliminating cowboy competion against reputable business.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Pity the Conservatives undermined minimum wage with their apprentice wage and by forcing the unemployed to work for free.

      • Richard
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        uanime5, I would have thought getting citizens who receive benefits to do some work in their community in return for their benefits would be a something a socialist would find natural and acceptable.
        Remember, Work makes you free.

      • M.A.N
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        The minimum wage is a piece of posturing nothing else. All it does is reduce the amount of paye work available. What was the first thing that happened after introduction? , an explosion of agency work, was almost unheard of before. It means your average joe can’t string together a working week, with the associated stress this causes. Bookended with this is an almost constant stream of non eu immigrants in security work, and lots of eu workers in the hotel, catering, care, farming industries etc etc. A lot of those staff are ‘hidden’ because they aren’t customer facing. It has resulted in more people being inducted into the benefits system, even if still working, which was surely new labours intention. Turkeys and Christmas and all that.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          I thought agency work picked up to avoid employment rights.

          The minimum wage was one of very few pieces of useful (sorry virtually only useful) legislation that Labour passed between 1997-2010. (They did stick with Tory spending plan for first 2 years of power which helped keep the growth that Ken Clarke had set in place).

          Obviously I have a bias on this. It protected my company from cowboy competition. I know some employer involved in employment of labourers and are having to pay higher rates than their markets sustain as they need to go above minimum wage to have differentiation of jobs. And I know I’m attracting the sixth form politicians here with those remarks but why do people who dislike low wages have kettles with Made In China stamped on the bottom when they could pay a far higher price for one with Made in Britain stamped on it. I guess in practice they like low wages just in theory they don’t.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        How sad to think that those in receipt of unemployment benefit should have to do anything to earn it.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          They are unemployed having paid enough national insurance. That is what they do. If they have not done or are not doing either they are not entitled to the this benefit. Even millionaires can claim it and should do so. Take you knowledge of this benefit down to your country pub and bore everyone there with it.

          • Jon Burgess
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            If only that we’re true, but sadly we all know of cases where the recipients of benefits have not paid in a penny to the system and make benefit dependency a life choice. Do you dispute this?

          • Richard
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            Whilst unemployment benefit is linked to NI contributions, other benefits are not.
            We all know this. Bores like you know it and all those down at the country pub do too.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

          You assume they have some sort of ‘choice’. Like they have decided to become benefit depend and bums like they would choose a career. Hmmm Bum or take to the stage? If any of the fantasists smoke then they also have a ‘choice’. Why do they ‘choose’ to smoke if as a presumably self respecting person why can you not even control your life as to not even do this how can someone at the bottom control;l their own destiny? Ram it.

    • zorro
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Hitler was a national socialist who was opposed to the Bolsheviks (competitors). Hitler’s ethos was state corporatism, who attracted traditionalists to his cause by his strident nationalism.

      Better examples of right wing authoritarian, traditionalist, religious friendly regimes were Franco and Pinochet.


      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        World domination? Is that not a bit ambitious?

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted October 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Let’s get Nazi economics right. It was the economics of plunder. Invade one country, bleed it dry, then look for the next victim. From 1942 onwards, Hitler threw all caution and decency to the winds and defined the greatness of the German people in terms of ENDLESS war. This was from the coffee house raconteur who couldn’t even sell his own second rate paintings, having to rely on a Jew who felt sorry for him.

        Don’t ever call the Nazis socialist, and don’t call them capitalist. They were quite simply unspeakable.

    • Norman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      I can’t think of one right wing tendency Hitler held. I’ve only read kershaw, liddlehart, Shirer,hoess, Grossman, Irving (I try cover every angle) , guderian, manstein, and all the other usual suspects including cranks like Suvorov and draws blank.

      Id appreciate a few names I can read of this free marketer liberty living laissez fair leader you ate acquainted with. The one I read off is so far top the left as to reside next to Stalin.

  38. Ashley
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    A very shrewd analysis of what is happening in British politics but UKIP worked this out years ago and it’s the rest of the political establishment that is out of step. Peter Hitchens wrote a book called The Cameron Delusion that is worth reading.

  39. outsider
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank for this commonsensical post Mr Redwood.

    We might add one paradox. The Centrist Establishment all claim to be “One Nation” Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dem but many of them and their policies are actually “No Nation”.
    The extreme case is that of leading Liberal Democrats, who favour “ever closer union” with our brothers and sisters in a “Europe sans Patries” but at the same time want an ever-looser union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Another characteristic of the Centrist elite is that they have no practical interest in British industry. Of course they all compete to say how much they favour small business, which is good, but they are also united in hostility to British big business, which is the growth engine of the economy. No votes in it.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      That is because Labour and LDs are univeral socialists and most Tories are ‘yes men’, without principle.

  40. Peter Geany
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    John agree with what you say about left and right and up and down. The confusion is simply everyone confuses systems with policy. The words left and right as applied to politics should refer to the system of control. Left is central control and right is devolved control. At the extreme of left we have monarchies and dictatorships, and to the extreme of right we have anarchy or no control.

    Policies can be implemented in any form, and if we take our NHS the argument is not whether we should have it or not but always about how it is controlled.

    Hitler is nearly always quoted as being a right wing dictator which is a contradiction in terms. He and Stalin were exactly the same, left wing, because that is the only way dictators retain control.

    If you study Labour home secretaries over the years they have invariably reduced the freedom of the people more than conservative home secretaries. They have tended to legislate far more than their conservative counterparts. Freedom for the left often means do what I say rather than do what you think best. Also the left has a well-developed notion that only they are right on every subject, so they will legislate to force their view. This trait also manifests itself as intolerance of other views.

    There are always exceptions to these generalisations, but the general trend holds. One last point about the confusion in terms. The left hate the notion that Hitler was left wing, or that someone who is right wing could want greater personal freedom for all. So they constantly paint everything that is wrong in terms of right wing behaviour.

    The perfect topical example of this is banking and capitalism. That banking has broken down is no secret, and it is being constantly stated by the BBC and others that capitalism is not working. Well I would argue that we don’t have capitalism because of our centralised and over regulated world, (very left wing) and that our banks cannot function correctly due to central banks and the zero interest rates. Yet the BBC and others say this is the result of right wing greed and that the solution is yet more of the same that got us into the mess.

    My wish if I had one from a genie would be that we could have politicians who’s intellect matched that of the electorate.

  41. nicol sinclair
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “They should get out more and listen to the voters.”

    How true, how very, very true.

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I was very late and had not read the previous posts when I posted this. That is the disadvantage of working and living 5.45 hours ahead of GMT!

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        Are you a shift worker?

  42. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Rather than the centre ground of ideology, I seek the solid ground of reality and pragmatic policy.

    I support policy which seeks to devolve power to the lowest level but to organise at higher levels if it is efficient and effective to do so, while retaining maximum transparency. I believe in fairness.

    I don’t think this is a centre ground between serving the interests of the rich and serving the interests of the ‘ordinary workers’ whoever they are, or between anarchic libertarianism and the flawed idea that socialist values should be expressed through the state rather than the individual. I think it’s liberalism.

    • outsider
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Dear Rebecca Hanson,
      You repeat an essentially meaningless LibDem formula: ” I support policy which seeks to devolve power to the lowest level but to organise at higher levels if it is efficient and effective to do so.”
      In practice, this seems to mean devolving power down from the nation and surrendering power up from the nation to “higher levels”. This is a “No nation” policy rather than “one Nation”.
      If you disagree, please give examples of powers that you and/or the LibDem policy hierarchy want to centralise upwards to the nation and downwards from “higher levels” to the nation.

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
        • outsider
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 4:57 am | Permalink

          Gosh, that conference resolution is longer than some books of the Bible. It is, of course, nothing whatever to with with the point about the LidDems only wanting the nation to cede its powers both upwards and downwards. Wonder why?

          • Rebecca Hanson
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            It’s precisely in topic outsider. Pragmatic and effective policy can require some effort to understand. I presume you prefer simple, idealistic policy contaminated by the complexities of the real world but i don’t. I’ve spent too much time dealing with the consequences of politician’ self-indulgences.

          • Rebecca Hanson
            Posted October 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

            Ooops – sorry – that’s what comes from my trying to post from my mobile!

            It’s precisely on topic outsider. Pragmatic and effective policy can require some effort to understand. I presume you prefer simple, idealistic policy uncontaminated by the complexities of the real world but I don’t. I’ve spent too much time dealing with the consequences of politicians’ self-indulgences.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Oh my! So socialism is best practiced in “private”: all this pragmatism has made you entirely too “fair”. You are headed to a Labour policy shop with Alice in Wonderland formulations like that!

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        “So socialism is best practiced in “private””

        You’ve misunderstood me.

        I think we should have systems of state which encourage socialism in society but don’t replace it and don’t penalise individuals who don’t want to focus on society (instead we should set them clearly rules they can work freely within).

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Like right wing charity.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          Try these two words together in google: 1) philanthropist 2) victorian

          Amazing what private business people did before the resentment against punative taxes kicked in.

          • Bazman
            Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

            Cheers Guv. Cough! Hack!

    • Richard
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      The problem with “fairness” is it is like “common sense” ..We all like to think we have the same idea about what it is, but in fact we all seem to have different views and definitions.

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Richard.

        And that’s okay.

        Give me a group of people who are having an interesting and passionate debate and are working things out over a flock of sheep any day. Except on days when I’m on the farm.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted October 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Your principles break down when considering actions of the EC, in practice the executive arm of the EU. It loudly trumpets the principle of subsidiarity, that decisions should always be delegated to the lowest tier of government possible.

      However, take a brief look at a summary of the Lisbon Treaty, the latest one. There is a long list of activities and industries in which the EC and the Member States excercise ‘joint competence’. However, whenever there is a dispute between the EC and a Member State as to where the bounday of ‘competence’ lies, the matter is referred to a European court that invariably decides in favour of the EC.

      You would think that the LibDems would object long and loudly to this state of affairs, but they don’t.

  43. Pleb
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The problem is “the whip”. It forces power into the hands of a few elite. There should be no whip, every MP should vote on his/her own view. The whip prevents democracy and should be abandoned.

  44. Atlas
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Miliband gave a good speech yesterday – Cameron should worry. Being ‘Posh’ and yet being incompetent in many matters is not a winning formula – more important than Osborne’s ‘triangulation’ posturing.

  45. Michael Cawood
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    What is needed is another really great person like the great Margaret Thatcher to run Britain. Sadly lacking in today’s Conservative leadership. With the right leader the Conservatives would romp home with an outright win.

  46. forthurst
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “You meet people who want to pull out of the EU and have a higher pension, and who say stopping the EU contributions would help pay for it. You meet people who both want to have fewer migrants here, and who want more generous care for the elderly.”

    Many people want to pull out of the EU [full stop] Many people believe that public sector pensions are far too generous and are actually unaffordable. Many people believe that benefits should go to those who are too old or too ill to work rather than the workshy and anyone else on the planet with a lower standard of living than they might get here simply by claiming asylum etc. Many people believe that we need a halt to third world immigration because the majority of third world cultures are (different from -ed) ours. Many people believe that caring for old people should not be the province of (questionable busienss people and financing models-ed), that the majority of old people will not require 24×7 supervision, which in any case would be perfectly manageable if organised and funded properly, and that the majority of old people could live independently with small measures of compassionate assistance.

    The question that JR poses is why does the LibLabCon operate with a single agenda and why do many peoples’ political beliefs lie outside. Put another way; why are the main political parties acting simply as excipients for an agenda derived from externalities which operate across borders as well as across political spectra? What is their source? Who are acting as the vectors transmitting these externalities from their sources to the hierarchies of the parties? Who are determined that no alternative political parties will arise to challenge? Who are determined that those within those parties who wish to adopt policies outside of that ‘mainstream’ are locked out of power? Why is a party leader always selected who follows the agenda of these externalities.

    Who decided it was time for an ouster for Gaddafi and Assad? Why did Cameron become so excercised about Assad? Has he always harboured a hatred of that individual? If so, why? English people if asked to nominate a prospect for an ouster would nominate Mugabe, almost certainly. Yet he manages to survive the attentions of those in charge of putting the world to rights.

    Why is ‘gay marriage’ now on the agenda within swathes of countries, broadly defined as the West or put another way, those which are not powerful nationalist countries like Russia or China or any Islamic country whose religion renders them impervious to the tenets of Cultural Marxism (political correctness) or the equivalence of unequivalents. Women are not equivalent to men; homosexuality is not equivalent to heterosexuality; exotic or primitive cultures are not equivalent to English culture or Western culture; the daubings of a slattern are not equivalent to the gifts of JMW Turner etc.

    The Christian ethic is under attack because it is seen as the soft underbelly of Western civilisation, to be deprecated and ridiculed to extinction. This, of course, gives us an immediate insight into what the proponents of this ‘new world order’ without borders or moral compass, are not and therefore by reduction what they most probably are. The ‘world’ was shocked when Russia locked up a ‘pop group’ for thoughtcrime against Christianity; of course, no shock would have ensued if someone else, somewhere else had been locked up for ‘holocaust denial’ or other thoughtcrime against gays or black or brown people, even if instead of being deliberately provocative and almost certainly externally funded like the Russian ‘pop group’, they had merely given vent to sincerely held beliefs.

    It is time for a seachange. The world must not be driven by the esoteric interests of a group of extremely powerful and wealthy people who are intent on using that wealth to further their evil intentions through the universal control of the political discourse and thereby the destruction of ordinary peoples’ sense of national or cultural identity.

    • Mark W
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Why is gay marriage on the agenda?

      It is a red herring to wrong foot social conservatives into looking like relics from a bygone era and to rubbish their valid opinions on other issues. They would be wise not to fall for it. I actually agree with Cameron on this issue. (I’m sure our two sixth form, textbook lefties may struggle with the idea of not having to hold an entire set of views off the same metaphorical hymm sheet).

      The church and those likely to be wrongly accused of believing there was some golden age in the 1950s (there wasn’t) and the Daily Mail (I don’t read it), should start campaigning for gay marriage in church. The Cultural Marxists will not knwo what to do.

      • forthurst
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        “The Cultural Marxists will not knwo what to do.”

        Everything on their agenda has so far been adopted with or without rearguard actions. They’ll simply tick gay marriage off and move on to the next item on their agenda.

        • Mark W
          Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          There’s much truth in that point.

          The cultural Marxists have followed the teachings of Antonio Gramsci who was a genius to his cause. No need for revolution, just control the classrooms.

  47. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Hogwash! The categories are created by marketing research. Today’s politicians are hardly Churchillian in their capacity for independant thought. This lot transported back to the 30’s would have concluded Adolfo Hitler was too popular with Britons to take on!

    Your party is worthless & weak, Mr. Redwood. It is driven by the same nanny-state paradigm as (non-labouring) Labour. It’s simply not working! Join UKIP or step aside.

    • outsider
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Dear Christopher Ekstrom, Just what would be achieved if Mr Redwood were to “step aside”? He would simply be replaced by an imposed centrist elite Conservative candidate who would almost certainly hold Wokingham (albeit with a heavily reduced majority) and would lose his distinctive voice in Parliament.

      • Christopher Ekstrom
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Your political analysis is impeccable; no doubt if JR chose to go out with a roar (denouncing Cast Iron & his fellow social-democrats) he would be replaced by a far inferior MP (& I daresay, Man!). But this is a Crises; too many docters are avoiding necessary measures. Some one inside the former Tory elite must speak the Truth. Cast Iron’s house is rotten to the core; we have only to kick in the door!

  48. Vanessa
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Nobody in government has the guts to stand up and say what he believes in and bugger the people who do not agree with him. You cannot please all the people all the time and the over-crowding in the middle is leaving most of us without anyone to vote for.

    The tories are inexperienced in life, incompetent and without substance – bit like the other two. Who to vote for? UKIP is the only alternative with a guttsy leader, people who have worked for a living and run companies, stand up for what they believe in and have the courage to say it.

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      It may just take another Lady to set things right on this Blessed Isle!

      • Bazman
        Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Or alight. The days of the public accepting this are over with no big unions to bash now. What you might find is the population just refusing to work for the pennies offered by big corporations. The internet has changed much. More censorship by governments putting pressure on the internet providers may be the next ‘Thatcher’ moment, but this would be difficult to do unless America was on side.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink


      I agree broadly with your comments.

      There is a clear distinction between the conviction politician and the politician interested only in gaining power and clinging on to it. Tony Benn has described the latter publicly as “weathercocks”.

      The weathercocks have no core beliefs or principles and decide their policies based on focus groups. They think that focus groups reflect the desires of the electorate so they spout policies accordingly. When the wind blows in a different direction then the policies will change forthwith. Examples of weathercocks in my opinion include Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

      Conviction politicians have developed their core beliefs and principles over the years and care nothing for focus groups. They drive through their agendas regardless of what opinion polls tell them and leave it for the electorate to decide if they remain in power. Examples include Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

      The principal reason for the decline of the UK and the USA is the absence of leadership which only conviction politicians provide and neither country has had such leadership since Thatcher and Reagan.

  49. peter davies
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately despite Red Ed’s attempts to convince everyone all politicians ‘are not the same’ I’m afraid it would be extremely difficult to tell the difference between the front benches from all 3 main parties if we didn’t know who they were.

    As has been alluded to by Winston Smith they are all committed to the same big state EU dominated socialist agenda so are all on the same path with minor variations.

    The terms “left and right” are hard to identify, politicians who are interventionist and those who are Libertarians as has been said above are probably more appropriate terms now.

    We know that labour would intervene with every part of our lives if they could and are more inclined to want a big state which normally means reams of red tape and huge taxes to pay for it thus choking the life out of the country whilst the tories are more likely to keep taxes lower (used t0 be) and back off a bit though intervene when it is deemed they need to.

    I personally think wiping peoples back sides doesn’t help them in the way we have nurtured generations of Jeremy Kyle types with soft criminal justice and too easy benefits system, everyone needs to pay their way and stop looking at the state for answers all the time so the libertarian approach has to be the best way in my opinion.

    So I think crime punishment should come with ball and chain hard community work, like cleaning up places they have helped destroy, litter picking etc and those who do serious stuff (murder etc) should never be let out/capital punishment, on the other hand we need to be left to get on with our lives without too much state interference – am I right or left or just right?

    • Adam5x5
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      Just right (as in correct).
      I definitely don’t want someone telling me how I should live.
      Though if you want to be happier, I recommend stop watching TV. It’s full of it – Buy This! Stop Eating the ‘Wrong’ Food! Don’t Drink! Buy This! Buy This! Don’t Smoke!

  50. Winston Smith
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    An important example of the Left/Right contrived differences within LibLabCon is QE. Vince Cable described QE as “Mugabeconomics”. Osbourne described it as “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.”. Yet, both now support £375bn of QE. LibLabCon are the etablishment political elite simply following the policies set by our permanent civil service Govt. Stop voting for them.

  51. Robert Pay
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Left and right are not useful as you say. Words like “progressive” are clever hurrah words, because who wants to regress, however, I think we should call progressives what they are. Statist!

  52. Richard
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice if political parties tried to formulate policies which met the core historical values of their party and then we would know what they firmly stood for.
    Come forward with policies you really believe in and can argue the rationale behind them.
    Too much listening to the opinion polls and then chopping and changing policies to suit is a recipe for disaster and voter mistrust.
    Listen of course, but we need leadership and innovation and some radical action.

    All this has led to the situation we have now, where all parties are trying for the middle ground, where they think we all are, but its where the bored are gathering and many of them don’t even bother to vote.

    As an example, in the auto industry “customer design circles” as they were known , were thought to be a good idea, getting customers in a room and asking them what kind of car they wanted as the next model. Ford tried this with the Escort which became more boring each time a new version was launched and sales began to drop.
    Around the same time Honda realised the dangers of this policy and their rather boring Civic was radically redesigned without involving their customers in the process.
    Whilst it shocked many customers, sales grew dramatically.
    As lifelogic put it earlier today:- people dont know what they want until they see it.

    • Bazman
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      The sooner Ford gets back to naming their cars after jazz mags the sooner car sales will pick up again.

      • Mark W
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Very good!!

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        A Penthouse estate or a sporty little Razzle?

  53. Derek Emery
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The centre parties have no interest in what the voters want because they know what is best for us without even asking – which always happens to be what the EU want.
    They see their interests as identical with the public’s which is one expression of their narcissist conceit and disinterest in the public. They have virtually identical policies with slight differences on how they will spend the ever- increasing sums they borrow. They are all in love with the EU and hence all favour reducing democratic accountability.

    The reality is that both they and their bureaucrats are incompetent as they have endlessly proved over and over again. There is not even the slightest indication of any learning process from previous failures. Fail fail and fail again is their motto as their is nobody to stop endless failure as a way of life.

    Both politicians and bureaucrats are rank amateurs but possessed with massive over-confidence that they know better than anyone else and most of all in areas where they know and understand nothing which is pretty much everything.

    Someone could make a list of some of the many projects politicians have created that have either failed uncompleted or delivered nothing of value to the public.

    There is little point however because politicians are convinced they are the best thing since sliced bread regardless. Confirmation bias ensures they will see all their failures as brilliant successes.

    The other characteristic that is totally obvious to the public is that politicians are intensely self-serving. The expenses saga showed that the majority are very good at looking after their own interests.

    Its also obvious that companies have been buying work from government for years if not decades. You can’t serve two masters. Either politicians are working for us of for companies. The fact the politicians can be on boards of companies and on government committees dealing with areas where these companies benefit is very smelly but normal in UK politics.

    All this has lead to ever-decreasing trust in politicians, their parties, and the political process which they totally ignore. see “trust in politics hits rock bottom at http://www.iaindale.com/posts/friday-diary-trust-in-politics-hits-rock-bottom

    I suspect trust by the public will be virtually zero by 2020 – justifiably so.

  54. nemesis
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I dont think there is any problem that political meddling doesnt make worse. I believe it was Nicholas Ridley when first elected, was asked what he intended to do – He replied “As little as possible”. I think he had it about right!

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted October 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      In the same vien, when Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California, he shut government offices at 2 pm each day. His reason? If officials needed to work longer hours, they were interfering too much. No doubt his action saved a few dollars on payroll costs too.

  55. Jon
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    The media plays a big part here in corralling views into the simplistic.

    I seem to remember if anyone questioned imigration levels they were hounded as a bigot. Many saw Abu Hamza’s anti democracy rantings clocking the road at Finsbury Park as freedom of speech. Anyone who questioned debt or that Brown was not prudent was deemed to be a loon and not understanding debt servicing.

    In the industry I work in its the media too that has done a lot to spread mis information. I also blame my side of the industry for not lobbying well enough (if at all) to put the other side.

    • Bob
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Spot on Jon!

  56. Electro-Kevin
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    “You meet people who both want to have fewer migrants here, and who want more generous care for the elderly.”

    Without mass immigration the pay would be a lot better. Then you could reduce the welfare bill.

    There is a surfeit of people in this country who could do these jobs.

    We are told that ‘politicians must reflect the variety of views in the country’ and yet voter turnout has never been lower.

    Politics is a football match in front of an empty stadium.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      We were told (by Labour) that we wouldn’t be able to eat curry if we didn’t allow the immigration of Indian chefs.

      Could you arrange for me to emigrate to Australia or NZ as an unqualified carehome assistant or breakfast chef please ?

      I promise to drop the issue if you do.

  57. Paul
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Good post JR, agreed with every word. The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ are meaningless for the examples you give. The BBC, of course, love using these terms to promote their love for the EU, higher public spending and the green agenda. It describes anyone who disagrees as a nasty ‘right wing’ dinosaur. It was laughable listening to the BBC repeatedly describing Cameron’s recent reshuffle as a shift to the ‘right’. The coalition is still firmly rooted on the supposedly wonderful centre ground. Your post highlights just how identical the three main parties are and whether we have a Labour or a Conservative led government things will remain exactly the same. UKIP is the party of change and people who want a fair, prosperous and self-governing society should join us. Why you remain in the Conservative Party is a bit of a mystery. It’s a sinking ship and many of us are looking forward to the day when this total failure of a PM is kicked out.

  58. merlin
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    The major problem with politics today is that it has become a well paid lifelong career and the individual politician is more concerned with his own personal advancement than actually serving the general public. From a career point of view the opportunities are limitless since government is expanding exponentially, so, you could start off as a local councillor and end up evetually as an MEP or even the united nations. For an ambitious politician it’s a toss up between self interest and the general public, my bet always is that self interest always wins, after all climbing the greasy pole is what matters. Solution- politics should be an unpaid voluntary profession, at least than we would get real and honest opinions, not career induced hypocrisy.

  59. Quietzaple
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    The multi dimensional nature of politics was highlit by Prof Hans Eynsenck in the 1960s.
    If we are to take One issue and place people left/right/centre on
    That then I’m about the only centrist re foreign residence – UK tax avoiding ownership of UK media. I’m against hanging. Almost everyone else seems to approve or tolerate it.
    Why it is imagined that they share our interests at all is a mystery. The BBC commonly follows their output and quotes them all the time.
    Perceived Self Interest determines action: most of you are witlessly working class Tories.

  • 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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