L’etat ce n’est pas moi

 

          When Louis XIV magisterially claimed that he was the state, he was pointing out a truth that as a highly powerful King in a centralised autocracy he decided what the state did. To him, and to the many who had to obey him, he and the state were the same thing. Subject peoples in France had to work round his dictats and live with this identity.

        In a democracy some think we are all the state, we should all be able to feel and say that the state is us collectively. To try to get voters to  buy in to this common feeling, many politicians and political parties work at trying to show the state is there for us in need. They seek to involve the state in many facets of our lives. They seek to bribe us with our money, taking money off us in taxes, only to give some of  it back in ways of their choosing.

           This model works for some of the people all of the time, and for many of the people for some of the time. It is a more stable and freer system than socialist tyrannies or military dictatorships. It does leave significant numbers feeling the state is their enemy, taking too much from their efforts, and doing the wrong things to them. In a democracy we are at least allowed to express our anger at what the state does, to press for it to reform its ways, and to change the people who direct it from time to time. That is certainly better than having to put up with a Sun King until he dies.

          The big problem with western democracy is the tendency for politicians driving the state to spend and tax too much, damaging the freedom and independence of the people who have to support the state. I wish over the next few days to explore this paradox of freedom. Many people contributing to this blog will say “L’etat ce n’est pas moi”. They do not want the state to spend so much of their money, and disagree with many of its decisions. As we will see, they will however end up paying the bills if they stay in the country.

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163 Comments

  1. Steve Cox
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville

    • wab
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      If you google (Mr Redwood does not like links) then you will find that it is unlikely that Alexis de Tocqueville ever wrote this. Indeed, the real origin is unverified and the first verified reference seems to be 1959, when someone asked in the New York Times where the quote came from.

      Of course you might agree with the sentiment, but don’t try to pretend that some deep thinker was behind it (rather than someone trying to make political hay).

      • cosmic
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Well there’s always,

        “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

        George Bernard Shaw, Everybody’s Political What’s What? (1944) ch. 30

        Whether you think Shaw was a deep thinker is another matter.

      • forthurst
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        misleading information in the NYT? how unusual.

        I can find this quote in fr.wiki:

        « Il y a en effet une passion mâle et légitime pour l’égalité qui excite les hommes à vouloir être tous forts et estimés. Cette passion tend à élever les petits au rang des grands ; mais il se rencontre aussi dans le cœur humain un goût dépravé pour l’égalité, qui porte les faibles à vouloir attirer les forts à leur niveau, et qui réduit les hommes à préférer l’égalité dans la servitude à l’inégalité dans la liberté. »

        • uanime5
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          Does the French Wikipedia also provide a source for this quote? If not then all you have is a French translation with no evidence to back up its authenticity.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

            unanime–This is a discussion forum not a Court of Law and your continual knee-jerk not-very-clever observations on lack of evidence (but in any event Wiki is mostly very reliable–how much certainty do you think you merit?) have become (note: not “are becoming”) tedious. They get in the way of the rest of us trying to read and make serious comments.

          • forthurst
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

            I meant to give the reference which is

            — Alexis de Tocqueville – De la démocratie en Amérique, T. I, première partie, chap. III (Vrin).

            On top form today, aren’t we unanime5, suggesting that French wiki would contain a French translation of an (American) English translation of an original work written by a Frenchman in French.

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Or in short….

        ‘Every nation gets the government it deserves….’ – Joseph de Maistre

        zorro

      • Anthony Harrison
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Agree with the sentiment? I should say so: it’s as fundamentally true as anything ever written, and the implications are observable all around us. I’d like to think British democracy will survive, but when around half the population are net beneficiaries of largesse created by their fellows the omens are not good.

    • Disaffected
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      When we have quotes in the paper from Blair and Mandelson supporting the government we know there must be something wrong with the Tory leadership and policies. Cameron claiming to be, heir to Blair- spot on.

      • Bob
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I’ve been warning about David Cameron since he threw his hat in the ring. It wasn’t difficult to spot, he is the Tory Party personified.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Bob–It seems you hate Cameron for being Tory–I hate him for being not–Does this bode well for him I wonder?

          • Bob
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton
            I don’t hate David Cameron, I just don’t trust him.
            I switched to UKIP when DC became leader.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

            In Reply to Bob (below as I write), I too switched to UKIP when Cameron became leader–and, Sorry, but I rather thought it went without saying that Cameron could not be trusted–and that’s apart from his hideously wrong judgement

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …”

      Winston Churchill

      And he really did say that, in the House of Commons on November 11th 1947:

      http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/nov/11/parliament-bill#column_206

      Not that Churchill always got everything right, of course.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Can you provide any example when this has ever happened (make sure you provide evidence that this country was a democracy)? If not then there’s no reason to consider it likely to occur.

      Also many civilisation have lasted much longer than 200 years, such as the Ottoman Empire which lasted for over 600 years or the Eastern Roman Empire which lasted for 1,200 years. So the latter part of this claim is clearly false.

      • zorro
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        But uanime5, what happened to the Roman Republic, and why did that fail……?

        zorro

        • uanime5
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Are you referring to the Roman Republic that was conquered by Gaius Julius Caesar after the senate demanded he disband his armies, the Western Roman Empire which was conquered by barbarians because they replaced their trained soldiers with cheaper local militias, or the eastern Roman Empire which was conquered by the Ottoman Empire?

          They all called themselves the Roman Republic but they all failed for different reasons.

          • zorro
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

            The Roman Republic effectively ended when Octavian (Augustus) turned it into a Principate and eventually an effective dictatorship as Imperator……

            zorro

  2. Single Acts
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Beautifully put and of course correct. You are an intelligent man and must see the implications of this.

    • Disaffected
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Putting thousands of people on the welfare state by providing child care is not a way to reduce the welfare budget (currently at £220 billion largest of all budget heads).
      Self -help and responsibility to look after ones own ought to come into the equation. Another example of Clegg changing the British culture. Where is the tax relief for married couples? IHT not going to be looked at?

      Now today we are told welfare will not be cut, it is the other budgets except NHS, Overseas aid, EU and Education. Wrong priorities for the the country, once again. NHS and Education have had billions thrown at it with NO improvement in standards. it does not need more money it needs change of culture and working practices ie try sacking the man responsible in charge of the NHS where 1200 people unnecessarily died through lack of care (the main reason for being in a hospital). Vote UKIP for a change to the three social democrat parties.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Child care is only available for those who work, so anyone who can claim child care won’t be claiming some unemployment benefits. Whether it is financially viable for the Government to provide child care for those working in low paid jobs, rather than encouraging them to remain unemployed, is another matter.

        Self-help and responsibility are no useless once you have a child and have to choose between working and claiming child care, or not working and raising the child yourself.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          unanime–Solely for completeness one could add “or not have the child in the first place if you cannot be confident that you, and dare I say your husband, can look after it”. Says a lot that you do not consider this as a possibility even.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    What we need is something really radical to pay off the debt and cutting down the state drastically ought to be part of the process. I do not believe myself that the state ought to do very much because it is so remote and so inefficient.
    We could start by getting rid of the following ministries all of which are either duplicates or else unnecessary:

    Faith and Commmunities
    Universities
    Women and Equality
    Culture Media and Sport
    Energy and Climate Change
    International Development
    Ministry of Justice
    Business Innovation and skills

    And, please, let us remember that the EU is run on precisely the lines which you attribute to Louis XIV. All we need is a Stalin.

    • ChrisS
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Or rather, a Thatcher

    • frank salmon
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Or a Hitler or a Napoleon….

      • ian wragg
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        We already have (an autocrat-ed).Ask the Cypriots!!

      • keith
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        we’ve got a Merkel

      • zorro
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        We defiinitely do not need one of those…..

        zorro

        • Bob
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          We need a Farage!

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Seconded

    • Monty
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      With the exception of Justice, I would agree with your list Mike S.

      There is a subset of activities which the state should do, and do well. Defence, the criminal Justice system, police and prisons, Border control, the maintenance of a sound national treasury, the regulation of utilities like the national grid, and the water grid. But the problem we increasingly see, is the state making an absolute hash of the things in which it should be demonstrating finesse and expertise. And almost as a displacement activity, it then turns it’s gaze on policing things like gay marriage, meddling in our diets, encouraging new mothers to “bond” with their babies, the setting up and financing of quangos to nag and scold us about every aspect of our lives, and the stoking of moral panics around invented crises.
      So my message to the state is this:
      Knock it off, and get on with your real work. We are wise to your caprices, we aren’t all stupid all the time.
      The latest example is the much trumpeted visitor’s £1000 bond. That is no substitute for a properly run visa service, financed entirely by the fees of the applicants who want to come here, NOT the taxpayers of the UK. It should already be the case that all applicants are thoroughly vetted by the embassies to ensure they are not prejudicial to our national interests, and they have acquired a certificate of fully comprehensive health insurance. And if they can’t afford to pay for that then they get no visa. And that fee should also cover the costs of tracking whether they leave by the stipulated date.
      I would give the state no more than four out of ten for it’s current performance against the real issues they should be prioritising.

  4. Crazed Weevil
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    If democracy is so much more of a stable and freer system than a socialist tyranny, why does the government, regardless of what colour tie they wear, spend so much time trying to turn our country into one?

  5. a
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The main problem most so called democracies have, seems to be the ability to borrow money on the peoples behalf.

    If the ability to borrow money was halted (other than in times of war to DEFEND the HOMELAND), then Governments would need to be more honest with their taxation and spending plans.

    At the moment we have a situation where the majority of the people attempt to be sensible with their own finances, only to find that their own financial budgets are cast to the winds by feckless politicians who always want more.

    Introduce Statute that no government can borrow money on the peoples behalf, and you not only go a good way to restoring the finances, but also returning to a proper more transparent democratic system of accountability.

    • Gary
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed, we claim to live in a democracy yet the printing of money by a central bank is one of the most autocratic acts imaginable. It gives the govt access to funds outside of taxation, bypassing the consent of the people. Even worse, it loots the savings of the people by stealth. It is a violation of the people, which is exactly against the definition of The Democratic State where the state is the people and the people are the state. The supreme irony is when the printed money is used to fund war where foreign lands are conquered to”spread democracy” !

      • Alan
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        I agree. I think it is a defect in our constitution that the government can get the Bank of England to print money and use it to buy government debt (albeit indirectly) without the consent of parliament.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          It’s a defect which could very easily be rectified by MPs, if only they would arouse themselves from their stupor and decide to become active participants on behalf of their constituents rather than mere spectators.

          If you click on this link:

          http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/Pages/apfletters.aspx

          then you can see the QE letters that two Chancellors have sent to the Governor, and on the side bar you can see links to other letters setting the Bank’s remit and responding to the Governor’s letters about the failure to meet the inflation target.

          If MPs were sufficiently concerned then they could insist on a new constitutional convention that each letter must be laid before the House in draft and can only be sent to the Governor after a debate and a vote on a motion to approve it.

          Reply QE requires to approval of the Chancellor. teh Chancellor needs the support of the Commons. The Commons could vote on QE anytime it likes – but as it is an agreed policy between all 3 main parties there is little point.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 25, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            JR, it may be agreed between the party leaderships but backbench MPs are abdicating their responsibilities by not using some of their allotted time for a debate and a vote.

            That is, their constitutional responsibilities as well as their responsibilities towards their constituents.

            I can understand that Chancellors may be content for the Governor to be the preferred target for public opprobrium, but it is the Chancellors who authorise QE (lawfully or otherwise) and ultimate responsibility must lie with MPs even if their consent is tacit.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        I previously pointed out that MPs have never been asked to vote on whether the Bank of England should create new money.

        The Chancellor merely informs them that it is going to happen, through a copy of the letter of authorisation that he sends to the Governor.

        Eg Osborne’s last letter of authorisation dated July 5th 2012:

        http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/chx_letter_050712.pdf

        ends with this sentence:

        “I am copying this letter to Andrew Tyrie, Chair of the Treasury Committee, and depositing a copy in the library of both Houses.”

        I have also suggested to both JR and Douglas Carswell that MPs should use backbench time for a debate on a motion insisting that the Chancellor should:

        a) clarify the legal basis on which he and his predecessor have sent these letters of authorisation; and

        b) agree that in future he will always seek prior approval from MPs, through a vote on a motion authorising him to send his letter to the Governor.

        Regarding a), my feeling is that two successive Chancellors have been skating on legal ice which is at best thin and at worst non-existent, and in the either case that tends to undermine the rule of law.

        Regarding b), my feeling is that in view of the acknowledged inflationary effects of QE it should be treated as being akin to taxation and therefore MPs should insist of taking control rather than leaving it to the Chancellor to decide.

        However at the time JR’s response was to the effect that there is broad cross-party support for QE and such a debate is unnecessary.

    • Alan
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      I think this is an interesting point.

      If Mr Redwood’s suggestion that tax is easy to impose were true governments would have little need to borrow. They would simply impose more taxes. It seems that voters object to taxes in a way that they do not object to borrowing, even though it inevitably results in more taxes or more inflation.

      We can’t rely on statute to prevent governments borrowing, but we could have joined the euro. If we had joined the euro the government would not be able to rely on inflation to drive down its debts, it would not be able to borrow more, it would be forced to raise taxes and the resulting unpopularity would ensure that our economy was more responsibly run in future.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        There speaks an enemy of our democracy.

        Why not just say:

        “Stop all this nonsense with parliamentary democracy and let the Germans run the country”?

        Because as we can see that is what being in the euro means, and that must be what you really want.

        • alan
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

          No, using the euro as our currency does not mean being run by Germany. It means we use a stable currency instead of one that has to be devalued.

          It’s not right to call me an enemy of democracy when I am discussing what our financial policy should be.

          • David Price
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            So why not use the Swiss Franc, Australian, Canadian or US $ as our currency? Why chose the Euro?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

            So how else do you think somebody should be described when they propose a “financial policy” which would disempower not only our government, as they openly say they want, but also our Parliament, the central institution of our national democracy?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            And if you want to see just how “stable” your beloved euro has been since its inception, here’s the ECB chart for its trade weighted index:

            http://www.ecb.int/stats/exchange/effective/html/index.en.html

            All over the shop, between the minimum of 81.1584 and the maximum of 114.3456.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      You say “The main problem most so called democracies have, seems to be the ability to borrow money on the peoples behalf.”

      Then use it on buying votes, wasting, giving to contacts and relatives of the powerful, fighting pointless wars on a blatant lie, propaganda, green quack energy or using it to further inconvenience the tax payers.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes, in addition to the above.

      Why not as part of our Democtatic system make it compulsary that any Government has to call an election within 6 weeks, if they cannot produce a balanced budget in any one year of their term.

      May go some way to concentrate their minds on financial planning, budgeting, management and bring some responsibility to the system.

      It gives the voters then a chance to say, we understand the difficulties we will give you another chance, or get out you have failed, and we have had enough, someone else should have a go.

      We then have a penalty for failure.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        What happens if the Government introduces new taxes in their budget, claims that these taxes will raise X amount of revenue, then use the predicted revenue to justify their current budget? In this case they have a balanced budget but there’s no guarantee that it will be balanced.

        The same problem can also occurs if the predicted tax revenues or growth are lower than the predictions. Even when these predictions are based on last years taxes and growth.

    • WitteringsfromWitney
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Methinks you may have been reading the Six Demands of the Harrogate Agenda? If not, then please do. Why stop at just the expenditure of public (our) money? If the majority of people disagree with, for example, wind energy, change to our society caused by immigration, should we not have the right to do so?

      Not that I can see Mr. Redwood agreeing with such a move to the principles of direct democracy – but then if the people demanded such a move and refused to vote for candidates opposing that move, Mr. Redwood’s opposition ain’t going to be a factor.

  6. Nina Andreeva
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    If voting changed anything they would abolish it. As far as I am concerned the UK is starting to resemble East Germany. Just like the Volkskammer, the House of Commons has lots of different parties in it, though essentially they all believe in the same stuff and govern accordingly . Look at the background of MPs there even appears to be self selecting apparatchiki, in that quite a few of them are the spouses or children of other MPs. While we do not need to mention how they help themselves to stuff we cannot have like a final salary pension, subsidised food and drink etc. There are surveillance cameras everywhere (far more than the Stasi could ever dream of) and we even have people rummaging through your dustbin to ensure that you comply to there petty rules on recycling. Oh yes and there is anonymous denunciation as well, in that if a neighbour complains about your planning application the council refuse to tell you who it was.

    • zorro
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      I was in Germany recently looking over the STASI apparatus. It relied on a network of informants……..Our system of MPs and government is held in such little esteem that they could not rely on that cooperation. The attempted police type stae rolls on though with the press regulation…..

      zorro

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Erm I think Labour and the Liberals rely of the cooperation of their ethic and welfare payroll vote to keep them in power. Let alone the various state bodies that allow their placemen to do their work under the guise of “full time union rep” etc

      • forthurst
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        “I was in Germany recently looking over the STASI apparatus. It relied on a network of informants……”

        Be careful. Being an armchair historian is much safer than studying sources; you might discover some real history which represents inconvenient truth.

        “..Our system of MPs and government is held in such little esteem that they could not rely on that cooperation.”

        There is a young Englishwoman who has been incarcerated for sixteen months on alleged evidence of thoughtcrime provided by informants.
        As we are told, “multiculturalism makes us stronger”. The question is exactly does the ‘we’ in this context refer? Certainly not the English.

        “The attempted police type stae rolls on though with the press regulation…..”

        I wonder who will be the first to be financially ruined for denying an official falsehood? What a disgrace that someone or some entity, without any due process of law, can be subject to ‘exemplary damages’ because somebody or some conspiratorial claque does not like a version of truth aired in public.

        • Historyfanatic
          Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

          Please provide evidence and justification for your comments. They are rather puzzling.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      We as a people have a rare, if not unique, opportunity in our history to vote for a political party leader who talks the language and needs of the people. No prizes for knowing I mean Nigel Farage. Describing him as a breath of political fresh air is a massive understatement and clearly he has rattled Cameron and Osborne, who are completing the wrecking job started by Blair and Brown at an even faster rate. If someone had been in a coma for three years and woke up to listen to them he would think that they are turning the country round, developing a low tax, small state, high enterprise democracy fully in control of all aspects of our lives, including national debt, immigration and deportation. In reality they are deluded and reckless with the well being of our future generations.

      The SNP and its high profile leader are a precedent that might repeat in England in 2015 with UKIP. On the Scottish Referendum, Cameron’s coup de grace could well be a yes vote. If I lived in Scotland, which I have for a time, I would vote yes on the basis that the future couldn’t be worse as an independent nation.

      Reply Last time Nigel came third behind a pro EU candidate in a seat where Conservative and Labour did not contest it.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        JR, all three of the large political parties did contest it, through a single candidate masquerading as an independent and keeping quiet about the part of his political history when he founded the Pro Euro Conservative Party before switching to the Liberal Democrats.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Don’t underestimate how bad it could get in Scotland if there is a Yes vote. It will make Cyprus look mild by comparison. The money will have to come from somewhere to fund the mad far-left socialist “aspirations” of the SNP and Labour.

      • cosmic
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Not really the answer as they are a political party and subject to the same pressures and temptations as the rest. maybe a part of the answer.

        We have to move to something more like a direct democracy on the Swiss lines, so the government is much less like two rival teams of elected dictators with more in common with each other than anyone they claim to represent.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Keep your head in the sand along with your party colleagues but you are all in for a very rude awakening starting with this May’s county elections and the EU elections next year when I repeat my prediction that UKIP will secure the largest proportion of the votes.

      • sjb
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        @A.Sedgwick

        Despite the opinion polls, I find it hard to imagine a majority of Scots voting ‘No’ to the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

        Wouldn’t even a pro-Unionist Scot consider their nation as independent?

        If so, perhaps many of them will stay away from polling stations on 18 September 2014. In which case would a ‘Yes’ vote on, say, a 35% turnout be sufficient to secede from the UK?

        • Jerry
          Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          @SJB: But they also know (if the truth is told), that Scotland will not be an independent country if it left the UK, sorry but Scotland has more chance of running its own affairs via devo-max from within the UK than full independence and then joining the EU as a new member as the SNP seem to want [1]. Nothing Independent about leaving the United Kingdom and then immediately joining another Union (compete with failing currency) of European countries that are being ruled from Brussels, Germany and the IMF!…

          [1] and how ever much the SNP say otherwise the EU top brass have made it quite clear that “Scotland” would have to apply for new membership…

  7. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I would prefer the Nordic kind of setting, a combination of good public services (requires a high tax base) and “representative democracy”. I would prefer representative over direct democracy, simply because of the complex nature of most political issues for which I prefer to have accountable (and electable) professionals. I don’t see freedom (to do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others) not in isolation, as expressed in “liberté, égalité, fraternité”, which replaced the previous “l’etat c’est moi” regime. Why not a bit of feeling of brotherhood with one’s compatriots?

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      Why should good public services require a high tax base? Surely that depends on which services need to be supplied by the state and how efficient they are. The other problem is that politicians, whom you consider to be professional, behave in a less than professional way by spending more than the high tax base they appropriate.

      • uanime5
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Good public services cost more money than poor public services, so they require high taxes to pay for them. You cannot have good public services while trying to pay as little as possible for them.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          “Good public services cost more money than poor public services”

          Of course they do, just a good car uses more fuel than a poor car.

          Oh, hang on a moment …

          It is your credo as applied by the last government that has got us into the present disastrous position and lost us our AAA rating.

        • Bob
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          @uanime5
          “Good public services cost more money than poor public services”

          More expensive doesn’t always mean better.
          Efficiency is the key factor that you have overlooked.
          To be more precise inefficiency and waste.

          The public sector are quite capable of overpaying by insane margins for things like toner cartridges, web server hosting and consultants among other things.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        @Peter

        You mention that you prefer to be a administered by ‘professionals’. Professionals in what ? Running up huge debts perhaps ?

        No, I prefer to have my MP’s under my thumb throughout the electoral life-cycle. Helps to keep them honest.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

          @Mark B: What I mean is that an MP has more time (24/7) to study and decide over complicated matters than me – thus representation beats direct democracy for me. Having your representatives under your thumb is a good thing. We sometimes have professionals as ministers, e.g a former head of police in Amsterdam as a minister of justice. The MP for Wokingham might make a better minister of finance than minister of youth affairs, etc.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: Public services are usually provided through public money, thus tax, although one could think of attracting private money and running semi-public services, like granting BT a “concession”(?) to provide telecom services, provided that it charges the same rates for rural as for urban connections. This wouldn’t work for those “public” services which cannot easily be made profitable. Putting more public money into a service can sometimes help to make it more efficient: Some tax money put into public transport increases the customer base, fills up the carriages and makes the transport more efficient. I believe that’s how the Paris metro system is run.
        Politicians should be democratically accountable as professionals, and fired if not performing well.

    • Ken Adams
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I don’t know why you think professional politicians will be more knowledgeable than the public, there are a quite a few examples where even ministers had not read the documents they were supporting. Ken Clarke – Maastricht Treaty and Europe Minister Caroline Flint – Lisbon Treaty, for instance, there are myriad examples where other MPs show they have absolutely no idea about certain subjects, on top of the general lack of knowledge, we have party whips forcing MPs to vote with their parties no matter if they think it right or wrong.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        @Ken Adam: While I see your point I would suggest that ordinary people had even less read and less understanding of the Lisbon treaty. Very recently, the Netherland’s parliament had its “State of the European Union” debate in which both Dutch MPs as well as MEPs (+ government) take part, and it was clear that not all national MPs understand the rather more complicated European decision making (the EU being a 27 country compromise). For treaties you need legal experts, and they may inform the other MPs, just like financial experts could inform MPs on financial matters. What remains is that MPs have a lot of time to work on issues, compared with rordinary citizens.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          The usual prudent rule is that you don’t sign something you don’t understand, and that applies in spades to EU treaties.

        • Ken Adams
          Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          Sorry Peter your argument that MPs are better placed to decided issues falls when the minister responsible for guiding the Lisbon Treaty through our parliament has not even read it. What you are missing is MPs and especially ministers are not independent they do as they are told and vote the way they are told unless they want to loose their jobs.

          Apart from that we elect MPs to represent us in our parliament within our constitution, parliament on its own should never have the power to change the constitution.

    • libertarian
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Peter

      You obviously missed that both Sweden and Norway have been LOWERING their tax rates for quite a while now

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        @Libertarian: You may have a point there. Would you say that their tax rate is lower than the UK tax rate. It depends a bit from how high they are coming down in Sweden.

    • James Sutherland
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      A good case for you moving to a Nordic country, then, Peter? I’d prefer almost precisely the opposite: lower taxes, less government intrusion in service provision and a more direct democracy – and yes, I will probably emigrate to obtain this, since Britain – where I was born – is much too close to your ideals for me to continue supporting or accepting.

      This is the strength of heterogeneous sovereign nation-states, as opposed to the homogenised setup the EU seems to aim for: we can each live in different countries with different approaches, as long as neither of us seeks to interfere with the other.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        @James Sutherland: I don’t see the EU striving towards a homogenised set-up. There is great diversity. Pulling strengths together in a global market will prove advantageous imho, let’s wait and see.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      In Britain, Divide and Misrule is the rule. Norway is different but your dream of brotherhood does not stand up to scrutiny in the light of recent violent events affecting the Norwegian Labour Party.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        A Norwegian sick man, extensively quoting a British MEP and a Dutch MP in his manifesto is a sad story. I do think though that democracies and indeed brotherhood can survive such terrorism.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      “I would prefer representative over direct democracy, simply because of the complex nature of most political issues for which I prefer to have accountable (and electable) professionals.”

      This obviously explains why one million British were in error when they marched in central London against war with Iraq. These foolish people, unlike Blair, were simply unaware of the importance of sacrificing Englishmen’s lives and wellbeing for the benefit of Israel, based on deliberate falsehoods.

      Menwhile, as we are about to run out gas storage and soon to experience the extinction of our lights, many foolish people are grumbling that saving the planet may not be necessary as the planet is more than capable of saving itself.
      Thank goodness, we have a parliament full of Physics graduates who are able to understand these complex matters better than us.

      Please remind me of the qualifications possessed by legislators equivalent to those of e.g. surgeons? I saw our ex-Deputy PM Lord Prescott on RT.com last night discussing the ‘decision making’ leading to the Iraq war: totally incoherent.

      • Historyfanatic
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        And what “qualifications” did Churchill have? Do you want three “A” levels before someone can become a politician?

        • Bob
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          “Do you want three “A” levels before someone can become a politician?”

          Some experience of life outside of the public sector would be a good starting point.

          A Chancellor of the Exchequer should have commercial experience, preferable having run at least a successful whelk stall, and anyone with a PR background should be banned from politics altogether.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        Forthurst–Prescott has never been much different–I remember in particular his passionately (etc-ed) supporting Labour’s last and blatant increase in the size of the public sector which he clearly believed, or perhaps said he did, that the public sector is good in its own right–Seared on my memory was his referring to “these lovely public sector workers”. Sometimes I weaken and think that democracy at least as we have it now is a very poor form of Government indeed if it is going to let people of Prescott’s (lack of ) ability have any say in Government. And in the context of what John has to say today remember Brown’s saying (something very like) we should not fear the level of debt–this at a time when it was heading skywards even faster than it is today.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Postscript–Has the new system improved such that not only is my un-moderated comment still there but that a Postscript (this is it) can be added (only by me of course) using “Reply”? It certainly appears to have done, which would be a marvelous step forward. And being able to add a Postscript goes a good way to being able to self-edit–witness that in the present instance there should be an ‘in’ before the ‘which’ at beginning of line 4. Mea culpa.

          • forthurst
            Posted March 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            Leslie. I can certainly see an unmoderated comment here myself. However the ability to edit is not really related and would require significant additional work; what would be more appropriate and easier to achieve would be the option to pre-display the whole comment as it would appear before submission.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: Wasn’t the Iraq war partly caused by the unwillingness to listen to professionals? Like Hans Blix and his UNMOVIC team, who demonstrated that there were no WMD in Iraq? Why a majority of your H.o.C. supported going to war against Iraq may be due to misleading information from other sources, and the demostrators may have been right, but that maybe it only proves that people tend to be against war. They didn’t have better information.

        • forthurst
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          “Wasn’t the Iraq war partly caused by the unwillingness to listen to professionals?”

          No, it was caused entirely by the desire of Bush to follow the prescription for regime change promoted by the neocon Project for the New American Century and the need to find an excuse that could used to obtain authorisation of such an illegal war from the UN. The people marched because they had been given no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein was a threat to this Trident armed state.

  8. lifelogic
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    “they will however end up paying the bills if they stay in the country” indeed that is why I have left to where I can compete and have a far better competitive advantage.

    The state is your friend up to about 20% of GDP exenditure, where is provides law and order, enforces property rights, a basic safely net for the sick, control of borders and a little infrastructure planing/organisation. At pushing 50% it is your huge enemy, forcing you out of business or being unable to compete and robbing you. Even arranging traffic systems, energy systems and other systems as a deliberate mugging system to raise taxes to divert to the state sector, buying votes or giving to friends of the powerful.

    The voting system in the UK is so very weak, and the totally undemocratic EU clearly have no democratic legitimacy at all in any sense. They are little better than 50% of GDP slave owners if many respects. Worse this 50% is actually often spent further inconveniencing the productive.

    Still Cameron will fight “heart and sole” for this exploitation to continue as he is a tax borrow and waste, pro the undemocratic EU, fake green energy, tax borrow and waste socialist to the core. But perhaps just 10% better than Miliband, the representative of the state sector unions.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      OK LL where is this sub 50% GDP Shangri La that you have found?

      • Nicol Sinclair
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Ninochka: It is a myth like all the other Shangri Las that are offered up to us…

      • sjb
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Nina wrote: OK LL where is this sub 50% GDP Shangri La that you have found?

        On the back of Lord Patten’s fag packet?

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        There is a plenty of choice just search government expenditure as a percentage of GDP or wiki

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_spending#As_a_percentage_of_GDP

        • Bob
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          @lifelogic
          “There is a plenty of choice just search government expenditure as a percentage of GDP or wiki “

          I couldn’t see Dubai on the list.

          Places like HK Sing, and the PI look good.

          EU bad.

        • David Price
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Oh look – Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Canada, even Japan.

    • Bob
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      @ll
      “pro the undemocratic EU”

      Correction: “anti-democratic”.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        Dubai, Singapore, Honk Kong? Bastions of democracy Bob? Don’t really care do you?

  9. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. It moves on. The State moves on. It’s original notion stays in the minds of those who were entranched in it’s values and I include myself in those original values. It is the safety factor in a flux of the base competitive urge which gentically predisposes to ‘I’ as the all important reason to live and survive. It is an infrastructure which uses values ,however lost many may be, so there is order and an implicit understanding of ethics.
    I am a State Registered Nurse and can relate to those who studied in the manner of the State. The NHS for the SRN fed us for free in a civilised style , provided libraries for learning, let us have the freedom for ward based seminars, guided us towards managing many unwell people in a spirit of cooperation and empathy.We were taught self reliance and responsibility for the lives of others in a setting where the need for the basics of life did not cause continual tension. There was mutual respect between all categories of employers.
    The free- ranging modern day spiv has caused many of the banking problems. The state is sometimes grossly unfair BUT I remember when the state representatives came to my teaching hosptial to assess me for my finals. I remember testing all the cranial nerves , being examined on different groups of drugs , discussing the differences between heart conditions and in comparison to University learning where he says this and she says the other ,I know that State learning was superior.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      @ Margaret B-J: Hear hear! If I’m ever seriously ill and I am in need of ministrations, I would hope to fall under your spell and not some graduate, who may not understand the meaning of compassion and …

  10. Gary
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Democracy is a form of tyranny, where the state and the people end up in a symbiotic relationship of mutual need. The people demand handouts and the state is happy to oblige them in return for votes. The state, exploiting this relationship, becomes a form of looting machine that is able to direct funds taken from the productive economy under the threat of force, and distribute the proceeds in ways that may enrich the parasites that congregate around the legislative heart of the state.

    Many countries try to prevent this by forming a republic where there is a written constitution and a bill of rights, out of reach of politicians, that is intended to guide the state and protect minorities. Alas, we have found that politicians seem to always find a way to subvert the constitution. Not least here, where the intention is to scrap the bill of rights.

    So, what can we do?

    I believe the state cannot ever be trusted and so it should be almost entirely abolished, and laws made in courts ruled by juries of peers, guided by precedent. The courts could be funded by the small remaining govt out of taxes or they could, as they have before be private. After all, private arbitration is still widely used.

    Govt can run the defense force, although I am not sure they can be trusted with that. Govt loves foreign adventures of plunder under the guise of defense. The military becomes the enforcer for private-state interests to conduct business by other means.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      A republic doesn’t resolve any of the problems you mentioned as you can have a constitution and a bill of rights in a constitutional monarchy.

      Given that politicians can rewrite the constitution if enough politicians support this change it’s clear that a constitution is never going to provide an any sort of protection from politicians.

      In the UK all the bill of rights does is outline the powers Parliament has and doesn’t give any rights to anyone else. So if it was removed few people would be affected.

      Your plan regarding making laws solely through the courts is completely ridiculous. This piecemeal system of law making often becomes so convoluted that the courts have to ask Parliament to make new statues simple because the courts are unable to change the common law due to the weight of precedent. It also means that only the wealthy will be able to change the law due to the high cost of taking a case to the supreme court to set a precedent that is binding on all the courts.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        unanime–Statues?

        • uanime5
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          I meant statutes.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            unanime–You never did! Lighten up

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      If everything was guided by precedent and what went before us , then there would be no room for change from one mindset to another .
      The State should be able to be trusted.That is what can be done. To look to those original values where the nation is important as a whole, where “The Big Society” operates for those who finace through their own business venture and those projects funded by tax. It is not acceptable to say there is no trust. Trust is in the deepest ethics of every individual from conception to death. The State is not a Nanny , but a mother who cares for freedom and nurture simulataneously.

    • zorro
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      ‘The military becomes the enforcer for private-state interests to conduct business by other means.’…….That is the history of the British Empire.

      zorro

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    JR: “In a democracy we are at least allowed to express our anger at what the state does, to press for it to reform its ways, and to change the people who direct it from time to time.”
    In this country, changing the people who direct it by choosing any of the three main parties in the Commons will achieve nothing. All 3 are addicted to tax, borrow, spend and waste. On top of that we have the EU (or is it Germany?) which is saying to its members ‘l’etat c’est moi’. Ask the Cypriots what they think of the way they are being treated.

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I think you will find that Germany is reluctant to pick up the tab for the profligacy of others – or, in the case of Cyprus, to bail out Russian depositors in Cypriot banks.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Maybe the Germans could do some property business with the Russians on the basis that they will get a bailout in exchange for Koenigsberg (Kaliningrad). The place is a filthy shambles apparently but still has the remnants of some fine old buildings.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Cypriot banks lost 4.5bn euros (£3.8bn) – equal to a quarter of the island’s gross domestic product – when eurozone leaders decided to write off Greek debt last year.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        Well the Germans should not have put in place such an unworkable EURO system should they. Pushed by many uk politicians too.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        You shouldn’t believe German government propaganda now any more than you would have believed it during the war.

  12. Andyvan
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The state does not look after us. It is not your friend.
    The state steals from the productive and distributes the money in the most wasteful and disruptive manner possible whilst giving lavish payouts to it’s leaders and functionaries. Even if you are unperturbed by the coercion and violence of the state the sheer inefficiency and unexpected consequences of all that the state does must surely give you pause for thought.
    Nothing the state does is based on voluntary exchange, it’s all done by force. Force never works. Tax is theft by force on any reasonable definition. The state claims to protect us from crime and violence and it does that by creating a monopoly of violence for itself. In some ways it is like a Mafia run village in Sicily, it dispenses justice and takes tribute as it sees fit but gives us the illusion of power through the ballot box. Yet when we vote nothing changes. Can anyone tell the difference between Brown and Cameron in any real area?
    So we vote and argue and the rich get richer and the politicians ride the gravy train. What changes for the tax slaves? We get more debt that’s what.
    “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    The answer is to make the State’s bill smaller, to cut public expenditure. Did you know that just about every major category of public expenditure has risen faster than GDP since 2001.

    In a subsequent blog, I am going to list the numbers for 2001 and 2012. I am also going to publish what the numbers would be if Liam Fox’s proposal were to be adopted – a freeze on public expenditure in cash terms. I shall assume 2.5% pa inflation and 1% pa real GDP growth, both likely to be conservative. This implies 3.5% pa nominal GDP growth.

    reply: You may recall I urged the new government in 2010 to have a one year freeze in current spending – we would now be spending £100bn less so far this government if they had done that.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Why on earth do you continue to support those who so clearly reject your sound advice?

  14. English Pensioner
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    When I was a child my mother’s favourite saying was “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. It’s time the government took the same approach, “Look after the millions and the billions will look after themselves”.
    But the government aren’t looking after the millions, every day when I read my newspaper there seems to be something new on which the government has decided to spend a few millions. Yesterday it was 25 million on the Olympic Stadium to convert it so that it can also be use as a football stadium by West Ham. Why? The football business seems to have plenty of money judging by the money it pays in transfer fees and wages for its players. Why should football get such a huge bung? The local golf club needs a new clubhouse, perhaps the government would like to give a mere fraction of that sum to cover the cost.
    It is this never ending spending on non-essentials which I find unacceptable and the fact that those at the top won’t accept the country is broke. I can see no reason why this country won’t go the same way as Cyprus, and I’m sure that I’m not the only person who wonders how safe my savings are, and whether with the low interest rates it would be safer to keep them “under the bed”.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Oh dear, oh dear! £25 million from whose budget, how silly. Why would opposing clubs fans, and the general public for that matter, want to contribute taxes to a competitors stadium when other clubs could buy it without a bung! There are just some decisions that are so wrong they need overturning.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      EP

      Yes and it is reported that West Ham United FC will it is suggested have a lease for 99 years at a rent starting at just £2 million per year.
      Not a bad deal for them when you understand that the Stadium which cost £500 million in the first place, now needs another £150 million spent on it, to make it suitable for football before they can start to use it in 2016.

      As I understand it the original design (submitted in 2006), was going to be suitable for multisports, (with retractable seating) including football, but was rejected in favour of the present set up.

      Another waste, another example of the private businessman out negotiating the wallies who seem to have no commercial or business sense at all.

      A £650 million asset for £2 million a year. What a result !!!!!!!!

  15. John B
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    It is not democracy if a vote is so diluted there cannot be any reasonable possibility thqt casting it making a difference.

    It is not democracy if there is no choice – do you vote we paint the town red from top to bottom, or paint it red from bottom to top – or if there is a single party either literally or in effect.

    See the great democracies of the USSR, North Korea and Saddam’s Iraq and now the UK and Europe.

    It is worth remembering what democracy was according to its inventors, the Greeks.

    First only landowners with a certain amount of land qualified to vote because it was they who paid taxes, then knights (sons of landowners) could vote because it would be they who would be called to arms in the event of war.

    Second, voting communities were relatively small so it was practical for eligible voters to meet, debate and vote.

    Thus the two groups who would directly feel the effects of decisions made, were the ones who made the decisions and could meet to do so directly without appointing representatives.

    In the ‘bad’ days, landowners and male heads of households voted in Britain… again the ones who paid taxes and who would have to fight.

    Then universal suffrage came along so that a large majority who would pay no taxes, women, young people in education or training and more latterly the welfare class could vote and now this non-tax paying, net recipients of redistribution of money confiscated from those who are net wealth generators, outnumber those who provide that wealth.

    This together with the population size and centralisation of power, and a politically indistinguishable class which sees itself as presenting its own interests and dogma, means there can be democracy in name only, not in practice, and in practice we have rule by oligarchy which like all oligarchies puts itself before the interests of those they rule.

    It is telling that in all the words spoken about the EU, in the UK and elsewhere, saving the project, saving the euro, solidarity, Britain’s interests, Britain’s influence, saving the banking system, the economy, never do you hear any of the oligarchy use the word ‘People’.

    Solution. Dissolve Parliament for good and the Civil Service. Let people figure out amongst themselves how to organise themselves at community level.

    Anarchy? Yes, but anarchy means no Government, not no rules.

    Everything the Government now does, it took away at some stage from voluntary or private enterprise.

    I read recently of a US community where the local authority does not provide rubbish collection, each household buys its service from a number of competing firms. This way they can decide the frequency of collections, what will be collected and when, and compare prices to get the best deal.

    A nearby community wanted to change to this. Their local authority put up a whole barrage of objections: there would be chaos, streets full of trucks, noise, some people would not pay and just dump their rubbish.

    But the nearby community had none of these problems.

    Why then do we need government to organise our rubbish, or for that matter policing, education, health and other public services?

    Some of us still remember when the State told us what phones we could have… if at all.. ran the railways, utilities, airlines, industry, shipping. And didn’t they do a good job?

    And all the things the State ran… ruined… where already there, set up by voluntary action or private enterprise. The NHS did not build its first hospital until 1964, so where did all the other ones come from?

    Time to get rid of the rulers and rule ourselves… could we do any worse?

  16. frank salmon
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    When the benefit recipients and the public sector account for over half of national income and expenditure, and for over half the vote, we have a recipe for disaster. We need strong government to fight the triple tyrannies of big government, monopoly markets and the out of control public sector

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      There’s a name for the type of system that controls over 50% of the economy.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Alternatively you could have the private sector pay better wages so that those who work in the private sector aren’t reliant on benefits.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        unanime–Replying in kind (in derision not interest–you do not seem to know the difference) it would be easier to pay workers more if they were worth more. If that were not an unfortunate truth we could all just step out and set up businesses. When are we going to see you have a go given that you reckon it is so very easy? And even if it were easy, which of course it is far from, prices would have to go up, else how to pay these higher wages. As well wish for the fish to be bigger when I go fishing. I give you my solemn word that your comments often have me doubled up with laughter two or three times a day.

        • uanime5
          Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          Rant all you want but that won’t change the real issue.

          Due to the high cost of living people in the UK need a certain amount of money to live on and at present those on low wages receive benefits from the Government to top up their meagre earnings. As a result the welfare bill is high and will remain high because even if unemployment is reduced there’s no guarantee that the cost of welfare will be reduced.

          As a result the only viable way to reduce the amount working people claiming benefits is to raise wages so that anyone working full time no longer needs to claim benefits to be able to afford to live in the UK. Until this happens those who work for a pittance will continue to claim benefits and never support a party that wants to cut benefits.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

            unanime–I’d like a second opinion on whether above is a “rant” and besides I am still laughing at your thinking I hadn’t realised you meant statutes.

        • Bazman
          Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          They more often than not pay what they can get away with, not market rates as they often set the rate. Supermarkets for example. Massive profits often boosted by low wages subsidised by the state. Your rent will be the market rate though thats for sure. Laugh at that.

      • Bob
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        @uanime5

        Have you considered employing some people on high wages.
        Thought not.

        (written in the style of uanime5)

      • behindthefrogs
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        How does paying higher wages in the private sector help? Around 40% of any increase is taken back by the government in income tax and NI. A further 20% is taken by them in VAT and the companies paying the increase contribute a further 14% in their NI contributions.

        At least those receiving benefits only have to pay the VAT

        • Bazman
          Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          On 71 quids job seekers allowance don’t forget. Is that to much per week?

  17. Acorn
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    “They do not want the state to spend so much of their money, and disagree with many of its decisions”. Can we get one thing straight, it is not “their” money, it is the “states” money. The state creates it when it spends and destroys it when it gets it back via taxation. It’s the private sector that insists on hanging on to it, which, when you add it all up constitutes the national debt.

    So if you want to reduce the national debt by about a half, overnight, send back all the cash, and financial securities issued by the UK Treasury and its Bank of England, that you are holding in current and savings accounts, and pension funds; and under the mattress to Merv King, Threadneedle St. He will power up his computer keyboard and his large industrial shredder for the cash notes; job done.

    Someone has to decide what we want the state to do. Decide what are the common goods and services the private sector needs (not wants), that the state sector could organise as a sub-contractor / facilities management company to the private sector. Leaving the latter to supply the worlds wants from a safety pin to a Jaguar XJR.

    Someone has to decide if we want the state to be a purchaser or a purchaser and provider. Do we want them issued free at the point of use; subsidised; suplied at a universal fixed price or at a percentage of the cost price at the point of use. Defence; legal and a money system for payments and settlements of trade, are the obviose ones.

    Unfortunately for the UK, there is no civilised, democratic way back from where we are now. We are destined to decline like every other other empire that has ever existed. It’s a basic rule in this universe. 😉 .

  18. oldtimer
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    The UK state has turned a Hobbesian nightmare into a reality. The political leadership of the three main parties are, to borrow a phrase, “all in it together”. A voting system that once provided for debate about and the resolution of alternative policies has now become the means to coagulate the group think that prevails in Parliament over all manner of issues. Change will not occur provided the current political oligarchy can keep a lid on trouble and the country on an apparently stable course. Whether that will be possible is an open question.

    To date the Brown and Cameron administrations have only been able to do so at the cost of printing billions of new money to keep the state apparatus running (otherwise known and described as QE). On present evidence there is no end in sight to QE nor is there evident any convincing strategy to bring it to an end (unless they are contemplating very high inflation). I note, in passing and FWIW, that Fitch has now put the UK on “negative watch”. Over time the only solution open to the state, alongside high inflation, is the expropriation of private assets – savings, pension funds, insurance funds and the like. This expropriation will be conducted in the name of “fairness”. Cyprus has produced a contemporary version of such a policy by the simple expediency of robbing bank accounts – I expect a revised version to be settled in the coming week as the price of a Cypriot “rescue” programme.

    Another issue which has real potential to blow up in the faces of our political oligarchy will be the failure of its energy policy to keep the lights on or businesses running. A government that boasts about guaranteeing returns for investing in inefficient energy production, and creating an enforcement scheme for the generators to ensure that it happens at the cost of practical alternatives is asking for trouble. The political oligarchy are already blaming the generators for high energy prices. One day, perhaps, JR could spell out the nature and implications of subsidy and tax regimes that are enforced by law throughout the energy supply chain – and how much it is costing the taxpayer. This will end badly.

  19. A different Simon
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Parliament and democracy is not about power to the people it’s about making the people feel obligated to honour the debts run up by it’s leaders .

    It goes back to the days when a King would borrow money to fight a war and the lenders would find it hard to recover their money back when the King died .

    The whole point of debt and the illusion of debt is control .

    “When Louis XIV magisterially claimed that he was the state”

    What is the difference between that and Mandelson telling us we have entered the “post democratic phase” ?

    The leaders of the three main parties have all been anointed by the elite establishment which Mandelson was talking about which includes him .

    Anyone who believes that the people have power through the democratic process is delusional . The real decisions are made by elites at their retreats , gatherings and in their not so secret societies .

    The elites are like the board of directors and the PM is at best a managing director , not a policy maker .

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I think it’s important to distinguish between the state and its government.

    I don’t see the British state as my enemy, but I’m not so sure about the government.

  21. The PrangWizard
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that one of our problems rests in the bureaucracy. Once it gets to a certain size it becomes self perpetuating and out of the control of elected representatives, and a bureaucrat of course is someone who must add to his powers or cease to exist. A law and power unto itself. I read that there are hundreds if not thousands of ‘authorities’ who can enter our homes without a warrant today.
    That’s where we are and it very frightening, especially with the State now having control of the press and a Leftist state broadcaster. Why should we need state permission to listen to the radio or watch television? What will happen when the Labour party is re-elected under the son of a Marxist, Ed Milliband; he will have total control of all the levers of the State. Is it now the time to leave the country before he gets in, closes the borders and robs our bank accounts?
    Sadly, and will those abroad please note, the UK is no longer a free country; we are in even more danger of a 4 o’clock knock on the door. The State bureaucrats and the Left must be beside themselves with glee. Which Leftist politician was it, I think he was Scottish, who said some thoughts must be made crimes, and another who said some reporters should be excluded from parliament. Was he referring to the Westminster parliament only or all including the Scottish one?
    These ideas are going only one way and never seem to get knocked back with convincing vigour.
    We need someone, and it would need to be a very strong someone to do what is necessary to cut the bureacracy and roll back the State. I agree that whole ‘departments’ should be done away with but I just can’t see anyone doing it. The Hard Left don’t want to, its the way they can control the people, and many of the rest don’t feel strongly enough to say anything. I suppose this disasterous state of affairs will continue until a courageous leader comes along to bring people to their senses, the state collapses.
    Maybe something could be done if we have genuine constitutional change in England and direct control of our own affairs through our own parliament.

    • Excalibur
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      Well summarized, PrangWizard. I don’t think most British people realize just how unfree they are. The tyranny of the ubiquitous fluorescent jacket; the ‘us and them’ police force; the endless surveillance by both camera and electronically; the constant oppression of the motorist; the suppression or ridicule of any dissenting voice; the penetration of every level of public service by the radical left; the ardour of the jobsworths; and, not least, the insidious BBC, are just a few of the elements that make the loss of freedom palpable.

  22. Barbara1
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Interesting quote by Italy’s Beppe Grillo on the nature of the state:

    “Whom does the money belong to? Who does its ownership belong to? To the State fine…then to us, we are the State. You know that the State doesn’t exist, it is only a legal entity. WE are the state, then the money is ours…fine. Then let me know one thing. If the money belongs to us…Why…do they lend it to us??”

    – Beppe Grillo in 1998

  23. William Long
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Some other Frenchman invoked ‘Liberte, egalite & fraternite’. I have always considered that the single one of these that really matters is the first. I trust I am correct in inferring from what you have said that you are of the same mind, but it is astonishing how few are the politicians that one can have any confidence pay great regard to the Liberty of the people they serve. In recent times I would limit my confidence to Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell and Joe Grimond, with, in peacetime, Winston Churchill from a slightly earlier era.

  24. Robert K
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Democracy should never be confused with liberty. Today, we have democracy but little liberty.

  25. Normandee
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    The “State” this and the “State” that, at least we still have a “State” to talk about, the way things are going and with this conservative party led by a strong pro european PM, held captive by a pro european party, we will not have a “state” to talk about. Our parliament (The Mother of all Parliaments), will be reduced to a parish council in the non democratic socialist state of Europia. All the moaning and “I told you so’s”, and “UKIP are wrong” will amount to nothing because it will be too late, then it will also be too late to say ” I wish I had done something when I could”

  26. uanime5
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    At the time Louis XIV lived the king was considered the personification of the state, much like monarchies and presidents are considered head of state today. So Louis XIV’s statement was in line with the thinking of the time, rather than arrogance on his part.

    Just because people who can afford private education or private healthcare don’t like the state spending taxpayers money on paying for public education and healthcare doesn’t make the state wrong to spend this money this way. Too many critics of state spending just want everything they don’t use cut so they can have lower tax bills, no matter how much it harms other people or hinders the economy.

    • outsider
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Dear Uanime5,
      Worth remembering, perhaps, that Louis XIV was just 7 years old when his would-be English prototype Charles I was beheaded at the behest of a (sort-of) elected Parliament. The Commonwealth that followed proved to be a false start but Louis still had 26 years of absolute rule left when the enduring seedlings of UK democracy were planted on by the Glorious Revolution of 1689. So Louis was not so much “in line with the thinking of the time” as representing one “arrogant” extreme in the great political argument of the time.

  27. Bernard Juby
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    We still pay the bills, John, even when we have left the country!

  28. Tad Davison
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting subject, and poses the question, what kind of society do we actually want?

    Everyone has their own ideas, but at the very least, a society should be democratic and equal in that each individual has the same rights, and the same opportunities, but it should also be equal in that everyone has the same set of responsibilities. Rules are then made by the elected legislature, which lay down a clear framework, and make clear what people can and cannot do in a civilised society in accordance with the majority view. But it is this that seems to constantly shift depending upon one’s political opinion and perspective, and of course, the determination of the government of the day.

    I can’t personally see much wrong with the model that gives everyone the opportunity to get on and succeed, and to provide for themselves and their loved ones through their own personal endeavour. To ensure they have a place to live, enough to eat, and a reasonable standard of living. And the harder they work, the more they can have and enjoy. That is at variance with the typical socialist system where people are subjugated, opportunities limited, and incentives suppressed.

    Where a free society fails to provide those opportunities, perhaps through an economic down-turn, it is only right, Christian, and decent, to lend a hand to those people who are in an unfortunate position not to be able to do it for themselves, with the proviso that they should make provision for themselves, once their circumstances improve. To allow people to languish on state benefits and not take responsibility for themselves, is grossly unfair on those who are called upon to pay for them, and amounts to a society that is failing its own people.

    At the higher end of the spectrum, there are the givers – those who work hard, and pay the most in taxes to keep it all together. At the lower end, there are those who take the most, the criminals who the do-gooders fall over themselves to excuse and protect, whilst often simultaneously deriding and condemning those who give the most.

    It is a universal responsibility of every citizen to be honest, law-abiding, and to be an asset to society, not a burden upon it. We really do not need those who prey upon others for their own selfish ends, and to give such low-life any quarter is not a mark of charity, it is a mark of weakness and failure. An honest way of life can also be encouraged, that makes dishonesty totally uneconomic in every sense of the word, to the relief of those taxpayers who have to fund the expensive and largely ineffectual criminal justice system we presently have.

    We also need a totally honest and decent police service we can trust to perform its duty in a just and equal way. One that protects us from those who would do us harm or exploit us for their own ends. One that does that, is worth paying for.

    On a larger scale, we need to pay for our armed forces to keep us safe from others who would do us harm, and value most highly, those who are willing to pay the ultimate price to preserve our national security.

    And any decent society worthy of the name, should provide a good, effective, and rigorous education system, regardless of ability to pay, that teaches proper values alongside a core curriculum. Without those, we cannot expect our children to master the more peripheral subjects, or become a responsible citizen. A proper education for all, is a great investment in this nation’s future, and vital if we are to preserve its competitive edge, rather than see it diminish.

    We also need to provide a decent system of medical care which is free at the point of delivery.

    But is it fair, that we keep on asking those who work the hardest, to dig the deepest to pay for these things, when some people are quite content to milk the present system for all it is worth without giving anything back, even if that means doing something in a voluntary capacity, or simply taking the time and trouble to ensure the wellbeing of their fellow man?

    Does that not show the society we presently have, values endeavour and thrift far less, than indolence and sloth?

    And does not a high burden of taxation that is siphoned off at source in a compulsory manner, provide a disincentive to work harder, to spend more on the things the individual actually wants to buy, and thereby generate greater wealth for everyone in the wider economy?

    I am all for equality, but it seems these days, and much to do with the legacy from the last Labour government, the more wealth you generate for yourself, which would otherwise inevitably percolate through the economy and thereby taken in taxes anyway, the more you are denounced as being greedy. For me, the socialist state model doesn’t work and never will, and the sooner this government takes us away from it, the happier I will be.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  29. muddyman
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    When bribery is shown as ‘welfare’, and the Government of the day can maintain its position by the import of more and more of those dependant upon it, then we can see the collapse of society and violence loom.

  30. Mark B
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    When you centralize so much power in one body, be it King, President or Prime Minister and you do not have sufficient mechanism to curb those powers, you run the risk of sleepwalking into a form of dictatorship. That is why the American (US) fore fathers built their republic in such a way

    We have such a dictatorship here in the UK. Currently our system of so called democracy has been usurped by a system of cronyism. MP’s are selected via central offices’ based on a PC criteria,not based on the individual and the constituency they will represent.

    Ministers positions are selected from the parliament by the First Lord of the Treasury (that will catch a few). He will decide their futures, not on the basis of the individuals character or ability but on the their loyalty to him.

    For parliament to hold the executive to account, it must be free from this influence, but so many are career minded, that they will fall under the influence of the executive and its leader.

    We therefore end up with a system of ‘representative dictatorship’. Unable to affect change at any level at any time. We do not even have a say as to when we can vote. That too is decided by an ‘individual’.

    Under Direct-democracy, politicians, laws and treaties can be challenged. Under such a system the political class KNOW to move much more slowly and deliberate more carefully, knowing that, should they displease the electorate, they can be held to account and their laws changed or struck-off. This is true democracy !

    The top of the political elite do not work for the good of the nation or its inhabitants. They work for themselves and those close too them. In order for them to make large profits from the state ie the people, they must at first gain office. Once office is gained, they can tax, borrow and spend to their hearts content with little opposition from parliament. Getting the top job really is like winning the lottery, you just have to kid enough people to back you supposed cause.

    In a direct-democracy the people get to choose what is to be spent on. Only then do the politicians get to raise the necessary capital to spend, and then, only on that which they have a mandate from the people.

    Simple.

    • uanime5
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      You do realise that the American republic works much the same way as the UK Parliament. The only difference is they elect their head of state and the upper house.

      Direct democracy occurs in some American states but not at a federal level.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        What are you talking about ?

        The American system is not like that of our own. They built their system of government so that they, “would not be under the rule of a King.”

        They have an elected leader, they have an elected upper and lower house. Their electoral cycle is different. It is nothing like our system !

        They placed the freedom of the individual and the equality of man above all. They did not want to live under a dictatorship, elected or otherwise, so built a system that constantly works against itself – A Democrat for President, a Republican dominated House.

        This was done at a time when most people in the UK did not have the vote let alone a say in their nation. We were rule by a German with a government that fought a war with the French and taxed as it saw it, its people, including those in the then colonies in anyway they wanted. The colonists then rebelled, and as they say, the rest is history.

        Today, we are being taxed for things we did not ask for or were promised. I did not ask for large sums to be spent on White-Elephants such as HS2. I do not remember the peoples of these Islands being asked to be members of the then EEC. I do not remember the three main political parties promising large sums of monies to countries who do not need or want it.

        The national debt is the peoples debt. It is our money. If so, then I want a say on how that is spent, since I, you and others are liable for it. Don’t believe me, ask the people of Cyprus !

        Representative Democracy has had its day. We live in the 21st Century and I think we can, and should, aspire to do better. Direct Democracy, not necessarily ‘like’ that practiced in say California would be a step forward.

        Oh, an neither Switzerland either. We are not the same as them but we can learn from them.

  31. Chris Rickard
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Well, this is half an article isn’t it. It deals wonderfully with the concept that democracies want to tax their citizens to support spending policies on matters those Governments suppose will improve our lives and in the mistaken belief they can spend our money to better effect than we can ourselves. That’s the easy part – to your readership if not to the wider electorate. The difficulty is twofold (1) having got into this position, how to win that argument with the electorate at large, who, according to the polls, are much more dependent on and variably disposed towards public services than the average Tory voter is apt to be; and (2) where to cut spending, how much to cut it by and how much taxpayers money to give them back. Unfortunately, you don’t address the difficulties, which is a shame. Still, you are one step ahead of the Chancellor who continues the Brownite policies of spending money he doesnt have so has to borrow as if it was going out of fashion.

  32. Martin Ryder
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    The state is the vast legion of civil servants, local government officials and Quango staff that govern the country, with very little control by the politicians (both Town Hall and Whitehall) who we elect when we are allowed to put our cross in one of the boxes on the piece of paper given to us every few years. A minority of the candidates are elected by a minority of the electorate and very few people, including those in the vast legion mentioned above, know, or care, who they are.

    The only people that the leaders of the vast legion take notice of are their equivalents in the new state being built in Brussels; their orders are obeyed slavishly.

    Every country on the planet is governed, especially where day to day low level matters are concerned, by its public officials. OK politicians shout out the orders and try to kick the great fat elephant that they are riding in the direction that they want it to go. Sometimes the elephant might turn its head in the direction indicated, especially if it is to the left, but as soon as the politician stops kicking the elephant will go back to its preferred course.

    The life blood of government is money, without it no one will work and nothing can be done. In theory the politicians control the money but it is clear that they don’t. If they did and ministers understood the need to keep their spending within the limits set by the state of the economy we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    As it is the big fat elephant is being ridden by drunken sailors whose only aim is to court popularity, both with the leaders of the vast legion and the people who might vote for them. The people who are most likely to take over from the present crew add stupidity to inebriation and our only hope will be for them to fall off sooner rather than later.

    How can we get out of this mess? Logically we would (a) get the crew to sober up and spend wisely and carefully; (b) slim the big fat elephant down (put every public servant, including the politicians, on a four day week for four days pay until conditions get better – of course we would have a massive strike but people on strike do not get paid; though Dave would cave and we would probably end up paying everyone extra); cut all inessential expenditure (take your pick from those discussed on this blog every day; everyone has their favourites); and make it illegal for the government to spend more than it receives in taxes.

    I also think that all the debtor nations are going to have to tell the creditor nations that they are going to have to whistle for their money. I would suggest that this is done before China becomes stronger militarily than the USA; which doesn’t give us much time.

  33. Iain Gill
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    The problem with “democracy” as practised in the UK are pretty obvious. Mostly the people I want to vote for don’t stand for election. The issues I want to see dramatic change are not put to referendum. There are massive disincentives in the system for anyone from a fast moving technological profession, for example, from standing – as after 5 years of elected office they would be unemployable in their previous role as far too out of date. So the folk who stand tend to be lawyers, public sector mannequins, and so on to a very disproportionate level. Then we have the party system and the way candidate selection works, and the dominance this has on those ultimately in elected office, far too much inbreeding of mates of the chosen elite getting in and representatives of some supposed underdogs its fashionable to support this week. And the way the party system discourages freedom of thought and loves lobby fodder. I think we need to improve the way democracy works big time.

  34. Jerry
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    John, sorry for going off topic but as you will be aware Didcot power station was shut down on Friday simply because the EU says that we should not burn any more coal (funny how Germany can though…), I read that decommissioning is due to start by the end of the month, once this happens that it, the end – is there anything like minded MPs, Lords and anyone else can do to stop (or once again question) this madness, here we are in (more than likely) the coldest winter for 50 years, natural gas reserves are depleted yet the UK is taking electricity generating capacity off-line…

    Did anyone from DECC ever get back to you in relation to the question you asked asked the other day about Germany and their ability to build new coal fired power stations?

    • uanime5
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      The EU only prohibits certain types of coal power plants, not burning coal. So if Didcot A been modernized, as required by the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, it could still have remained operational.

      • Jerry
        Posted March 25, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        @U5: The EU allows coal burning with carbon capture and storage (CCS), but as that technology doesn’t actually exist (work) yet please do explain how Germany can not only carry on burning coal but actually build new coal fired power stations – that is, without any CCS?…

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted March 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          It’s like this, Jerry. The EU finds many ways of giving special treatment to France and Germany. Cast your mind back to the early days of the Euro and the Fiscal Stability Pact. France, Germany and Portugal all ran a fiscal deficit in excess of 3% of GDP, thus breaking one of the rules. France and Germany got away Scot free, Portugal had to pay a hefty fine.

          You remember Animal Farm? One of the animal commandments was “All animals are equal”. Underneath, Napoleon and his fellow pigs added “But some are more equal than others”. The paint of the additional words was still dripping wet when the other animals saw them, but such was the reverence by the animals for their leaders that nothing was queried. Plus ca change, ………………………

  35. Tom William
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”
    Margaret Thatcher

    • uanime5
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Capitalism runs out of other people’s money much faster, which is why the banks keep needing to be bailed out after issuing too much credit.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        You ignore the fact that, up until 1997 we were run under a Conservative/Capitalist government which at the time handed over a sound economy to one, Socialist Gorden Brown.

        After the 2010 election, we were reminded by the out-going Socialist Government that, “there is no more money!” One has to wonder whether or not your statement stands-up to scrutiny.

        And remember, we have a Socialist-lite government now, which is taxing and borrowing, and all the indicators point to the fact that it is not working.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        But as I keep telling you, they didn’t have to bail the banks out; they chose to. They don’t have to bail out the Cyprus banks. They don’t have to bail out the zombie banks in Spain, France and Italy that have no money to lend.

        The rhetoric of shareholders is always “We are the risk takers”. Well, let them take the risks.

  36. libertarian
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Er any particular reason that none of my posts are appearing. Wasn’t aware of anything controversial in any of them.

    • Bob
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      @libertarian
      “Wasn’t aware of anything controversial in any of them.”

      They may not appear controversial to you, but Mr Redwood isn’t taking any chances. The Tories are under a great deal of pressure at the moment and loose lips sink ships.

      Reply I am trying to protect bloggers from libel laws

      • Bob
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        “Reply I am trying to protect bloggers from libel laws”

        You rejected my comment on gender equality because it might have been “controversial” – not libelous.

        So it’s anything that might be:

          a) libelous
             or
          b) controversial

        Sorted.

  37. Kenneth
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I believe the underlying problem is distorted markets, caused, ironically, by the state’s attempt to cure other problems caused by distorted markets.

    A viscous circle.

    A viscous circle made worse by the media’s tendency to exaggerate and caricature problems with left wing media always looking to the state to ‘do more’.

  38. Jon
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    How do we retain a democracy but get out of the cycle of politicians buy votes by spending more of our money?

  39. Barbara
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    In a democracy you get what you vote for as we know to our cost. We’ve had the spenders, the warmongers, the fools, and now the debts. Its our own fault really for its we who have given them the power, now we can sit back and be taxed to death and pay the bills. We’ve got immigration running amok even though they tell us it’s reduced, can we really believe them? We now might have Bularians and Rumainians joined the fray and the clocks ticking. We want out of the EU and the leaders proclaim we have to remain in, so where is this democracy they talk about? Who’s fooling who here.

  • 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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