Divisive politics

 

       Let those who are never divisive cast the first stone.

       In some senses all democratic party politics are divisive, as parties seek to differentiate their policies and achievements from the others. The Church of England can also be divisive, when it decides to intervene in party political debates.

       The 1970s were no haven from divisions. I seem to remember the punitive tax and spend policies which forced us to borrow money from the IMF, and forced large public spending cuts on us as a result, were very divisive. So too was the winter of discontent, when the Trade Union movements turned against the wider public and against the Labour government.

      The noughties were also divisive. The Iraq war was bitterly opposed by many. The boom and bust policies were oopposed by a few of us in the boom phase, but by many when so many suffered from them in the bust phase. Bankers were then made the scapegoats for a wider failure of the government, Central Bank and regulators as well as of the bankers.

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110 Comments

  1. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    “Bankers were then made the scapegoats for a wider failure of the government, Central Bank and regulators as well as of the bankers.”

    At last, a politician who is prepared to go public and highlight the role of politicians and government departments in Gordon’s mega-bust. Would that more of your colleagues had the same honesty. ( I am not, nor ever have been, a banker)

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Although the recent Parliamentary report primarily condemned HBOS executives there was also a perceptible movement of the spotlight onto the abysmal failure of the FSA to perform its newly assigned duty regarding the prudential supervision of commercial banks.

      (Raises questions about the role of the Head of the FSA at the time, and whether more blame should attach to him for the banking crisis that occurred on his watch-ed)

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        JR, do you think it wrong to highlight the role of Sir Callum McCarthy in the development of the banking crisis?

    • uanime5
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      The banks were made scapegoats because they combined bad mortgages with good mortgages, cut these packages into bits, and sold them as good mortgages. Also they took on too much bad debt.

      The fact that this was legal doesn’t change the fact that bankers made very bad decisions. I guess the private sector can’t operate without the public sector telling them what to do.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        The reason the build-up of debt was possible was precisely because of govt intervention distorting markets. would anyone have deposited money in a bank leveraged 50x with no explicit or implicit state support? No-one even thought about the riskiness of banks, they just looked at interest rates and fees. Deficit financing by govt and the related loose monetary policy were also public sector interventions. if we had had a free market & we hadnt had a big spending govt we wouldnt have had a financial crisis.

        As to your comment about the private sector only being able to operate unless directed by the public sector, have a look at the UK economy. All the sectors which have either been competed out of business or have had major problems are the ones in which there has been a high level of public sector intervention (coal, steel, shipbuilding etc). All the sectors which are competitive are the ones in which the market has operated (eg the recovery of the car industry now the hand of the state is removed).

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Given how the banks acted irresponsibly because there wasn’t any regulations preventing them acting this way your claim that less regulation would have resulted in the banks acting in a less destructive manner is nonsensical. You cannot fix problems caused by a lack of regulation with even less regulation.

          Also the car industry massively declined after the state stopped supporting them and only started to recover after these companies were purchased by foreign companies.

          • Richard1
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

            My point is the market is a much better regulator. If there had been a proper free market with no state support for banks (eg a right to unlimited funding at the bank of England) customers would have forced more rational behavior.

            The state car industry only existed in the UK – just like it did in the Soviet Union – because taxpayers were forced to subsidise it and customers were prevented from buying better competing products. At least now it stands on its own feet.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Given the banks are in a massive mis selling scandal over PPI how would the average customer ask about bank leverage and other complex banking methods? What a stupid comment and as for the subsidised car industry. Seems to be doing quite well in France..

        • Bazman
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          The bankers were and are still deluded on the collapse, blaming the markets for their reckless decisions and behavior as managers pretending to be directors with lunatic pretending any different.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        “I guess the private sector can’t operate without the public sector telling them what to do”.

        Couldn’t agree more. Exactly where these US subprime mortgages came from Carter and then Clinton Red Lines Bill. Forcing banks against their better private sector judgment to lend money to those unable to pay it back, with threats to lose banking licence.

        Private sector profit damaged by public sector interference.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          You seem to have ignored that the subprime mortgage crash occurred because banks were selling these bad mortgages as good mortgages; something they weren’t forced to do by Carter or Clinton.

          So it was the fault of the banks for manipulating their assets to try to make as much money as possible, not banks lending money to people with poor credit ratings.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            Yes but who started it Uni?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Mark,
          Your post neatly reveals the source of the disaster.

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            I’ve had plenty of fun with quoting the Red Lines Bill at Uni and his tag partner. Obviously to no avail.

            For banks to parcel the losses off within complex financial instruments is logical as the US government wouldn’t put right its error. Crisis brought chickens home to roost.

            Northern Rock wasn’t a casino bank, (idiotic term).

            How could less regulation have helped?

            You would have to have a shockingly low IQ to be trapped in this one dimensional thought track. You may as well ask how could 6 oz of fresh fruit be more nutritional than 12 oz of processed food from a fast food chain. That’s why I adore the ideological self righteous left, hours of amusement to be had.

      • Bob
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        @uanime5

        What would you have done if government had forced you to make sub prime loans?

        Would you have just kept them all for yourself?

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t have packaged these bad loans with good loans, claimed they were low risk, then encourages people to invest in them. So by not being greedy I could easily prevent the financial crisis.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

            You didnt know at the time they were bad loans Uni.
            Only when the economic downturn came in the USA and many manufacturing jobs were lost in particular towns and cities, did those who had taken out mortgages in the good times, find that they were unable to make the next payment nor more crucailly, sell their property.
            I am very impressed by your hindsight.
            Shame you didn’t warn everyone at the time though.

    • wab
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      “At last, a politician who is prepared to go public and highlight the role of politicians and government departments in Gordon’s mega-bust.”

      Yes, Mr. Redwood, the brave Tory Truth Teller, willing to face the wrath of hardly anyone by saying the great bust was all the fault of Labour.

      Bankers were a large part of the reason that everything went pear shaped. They claimed assets were worth X when in fact they were worth X/2, and they gave themselves huge bonuses because of the alleged worth of these assets. Then, when it all collapsed, they didn’t have to give any of the money back that they had effectively been awarded under false premises. And then, which is the best bit, Government had to throw money at the banks to rescue them, and the bankers creamed off a pretty good percentage of that (commission on deals). And they continue to pay themselves huge bonuses for not any good reason other than that they always have had huge bonuses so they should continue to get huge bonuses. Fortunately, “we are all in this together”. Not.

      This is not to say that other members of the ruling elite were not to blame as well, including the accountancy firms that passed off these valuations, and the senior civil servants and politicians who let it happen on their watch. But aside from a few token examples, the ruling elite have suffered not one iota from their actions. No prison, no having to hand back ill gotten gains, no loss of pension. Instead it is ordinary people who have had to take it on the chin.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        The reason the crash was the fault of Labour and not the fault of any previous govt, such as Mrs Thatcher’s, Gladstone’s or Robert Peel’s, is the build up of leverage in the banking system happened under Labour. Why did it happen? Incompetent regulation (the system established by Brown), big spending govt and related artificially loose monetary policy & in particular in the US, political internvention to create and enormously increase the sub-prime mortgage sector.

        You are right that few have been held to account, and no-one in the public sector. But that never happens. No-one has been held accountable for the disaster of the Iraq war. Ed Milliband and Ed Balls, who were Brown’s principle henchmen whilst he was bankrupting the UK are now put forward by the Labour Party to be PM & Ch of Ex! If they were in the private sector and had caused such a disaster they would certainly have been forced into retirement (etc ed)

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          While the Conservatives and Labour created conditions where reckless lending could occur it was the banks that engaged in reckless lending because they were motivated by making huge short-term profits, rather than sustainable growth. So it is the fault of the banks for not acting in a sensible manner, not the fault of Labour or the Conservatives for failing to create more restrictive regulations.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps Uni, Labour might like to hand back all the taxes they gleefully accepted from the Banks without question during these “good times”

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            Edward2, you best me to it.

          • Richard1
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

            I agree the banks and especially their top managements are due a lot of blame. But it is the state intervention and the illusion of safety created by extensive bureaucratic regulation which created the conditions for it. We need a free market in banking just like in other sectors.

  2. Steve Cox
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    And don’t forget the current great divide, begun by the last Labour government and continued quite happily by the current, supposedly Conservative-led, government, of savers versus borrowers. Predictably, as the government is far and away the largest borrower, the politics hugely favours borrowers over savers. However, when people who have managed their financial affairs responsibly all their lives see how the Conservative party now treats them, it is likely to drive them into the arms of an alternative party that favours sound money and treats savers with respect rather than utter contempt. The big question in this divide is: does such a party exist in British politics in 2013?

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    One of the things that makes me proudest to be British is the way we deal with people who disagree with us.
    In other countries, (and in barbaric parts of Britain nowadays), people who aren’t of your beliefs or your postcode get shot or treated with sarcastic scorn and shouting.
    Here we actually respect the other person’s point of view enough to have a parliament where people can listen and learn. This goes very deep. When people do disgusting things in public – on buses, in the street – we turn a blind eye and walk on. We are, generally, very decent to immigrants however barbaric some of them (and I do not mean all) are. We just feel uncomfortable when people behave badly.
    I like that very much. It is sort of Hegelian.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I always though “no return to boom and bust” was a very silly catch phrase for Gordon Brown – especially for someone with such foolish,over tax, over borrow and waste economic policies that he had as chancellor and PM.

    Politics could be less divisive if people just understood that too many employment laws destroy jobs, the EU is a disaster, the green religion is a con and pushed up energy cost and destroy jobs pointlessly, that too many tenancy laws push up rents for all, and that too much, tax borrow and waste, just impoverishes all.

    Alas much of the state sector, Labour/Libdems, schools and the BBC is dedicated to telling them quite the reverse, destroying democracy and incubating envy.

    • Bob
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I recommend the Martin Durkin documentary “Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary” on Channel 4:

      http://www.channel4.com/programmes/margaret-death-of-a-revolutionary/4od

      Note the reaction from Neil Kinnock when asked f Britain was better before or after Mrs T.

      • Andy Baxter
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I loved that documentary – completely biased but what the heck!?

        And yes, Kinnock was made to look even more of a fool than he looked thirty years ago – something I didn’t think was possible.

        How he could look at the 70s landscape under Labour and then say that the country today is not better post-Thatcher was simply breathtaking.

        Unfortunately, I’m afraid Cameron didn’t do himself any favours either as he squirmed through the question of whether or not he considers himself a “Thatcherite” (I think that was how the question was put to him anyway).

      • HJBbradders
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and what about the gracious comments of that alleged eminent philosopher, the Baroness Lady Warnock?

        • lifelogic
          Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, so bitter & twisted, how can such successful people go through life bearing such irrational pointless grudges.

          It cannot be good for them.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

            Yes indeed Lifelogic, you can see what this bitterness has done for the appearance of Ms Glenda Jackson.
            I watched her rant in The House of Commons and her face seemed consumed by anger and hatred.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you I watched it. Kinnock just needs enough rope to demonstrate his foolishness, but he has done financially rather well from taxpayers I note, despite his clear rejection by them.

        Cameron likewise, spending time reinventing/detoxifying/modernising the Tories – as a fake green, pro EU, tax borrow and waste party. Yet now pretending to be her greatest fan along with John Major disaster. At least the dreadful Ted Heath made clear his honest views of her.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      You have yet to name any employment laws that destroy jobs and have yet to answer how easy hire and fire does not already exist in the form of agency workers, umbrella companies, self employment in a number of forms, short term contracts as in picking packing at Christmas and a number of other methods. What you want is no contract and the ability to fire for any reason with no redundancy payments no matter how long the service with the employee having no rights and no minimum pay. Never happen and never should. The country and the individuals cannot afford it or stand for it.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Whilst I love picking holes in what you write (and Uni) I can’t help, as an employer, agreeing with you on this point.

        I don’t find employment law a problem. Providing a reasonable contract is drawn up and correct proceedure is followed in the event of bad staff then there is no problem. I’ve always prided myself in the length of service of some of my staff and that retirement is my biggest reason for leaving.

        Staff do not need the fear that they could be fired at will. Treat your staff well as equals at a personal level and there is rarely a problem. I have some enjoyable disagreements with staff and learn from it. If they had fear that they were on egg shells that a wrong word could get them fired then there would be a failure to progress.

        Some H&S legislation is too heavy with bureaucracy in a way that hinders the practical application, but Employment law is fundemental to protect staff from tyrant managers.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes I find Im agreeing with you again Mark W
          I once had 50 staff and most had worked for at the company for over 15 years many for their whole working lives.
          I can think of a few changes to employment laws I would like and some other changes to some of the more absurd H and S laws, but in general I am with you on this.
          Those employers who exploit their staff, cut corners on health and safety and chase prices to the bottom, always fail in the end, but can in the short term undercut decent companies and cause disruption in the market.
          They do need to be stopped.

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

            Quite right. Employment legislation does prevent competition from cowboys with no thought or care to longevity of a business and the jobs within it.

  5. Normandee
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    So now Germany want to tax house owners all over the Eurozone, something you will not even get to use your pointless vote against. I suppose you feel uncomfortable because I behave badly, it’s frustration, I can do nothing, you can do more. You don’t have to vote for UKIP to do more, but you can do more. Organise and threaten a mass abstention on an important vote, force an election, stir things up, but stop moaning and achieving nothing.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Normandee,
      I share your frustration. I wonder what Cameron said about this plan? I expect he was too busy helping his children to open their presents from Frau Merkel to comment.

    • sm
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      What about removing private banks ability to create money? and therefore help protect us from capture by vested FRB interests.

      Note nothing is as divisive as bailing out companies or rigging markets (with state backed created/loaned money). Then socializing losses & costs but privatizing profits & allowing excessive renumeration. How could this be worse?

      Taxing labour rather than excess inflationary capital reward.

      How much energy infrastructure could have been built using state non interest bearing finance -rather than taxes on heating bills.

      Let the bad banks wither AND encourage competition to reduce excess rewards and obscene plundering.

  6. James Matthews
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Margaret Thatcher was not divisive. When she came to power Britain was already deeply divided, and so it remains. She just refused to surrender to the extra-parliamentary left to hide those divisions, unlike most previous Conservative governments.

  7. Richard1
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Based on a > 90% reduction in strike days over the period of the Thatcher Govt I would say Lady Thatcher did much to heal divisiveness. What the Left can’t fogive Lady Thatcher for is making so many erstwhile ‘working class’ people middle class. People saw that capitalism works better than socialism. The Left’s desparate attempts to blame Thatcher for all manner of ills, including the financial crisis which happened 18 years after she left office shows the paucity of their arguments.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Given that capitalism resulted in wages becoming lower; while increased welfare, such as tax credits, made them higher it’s no surprise why people on low ages prefer socialism to capitalism.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        This is the direct opposite of what actually happens.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          Care to explain why the income disparity is highest in the more capitalism countries, while it’s lower in more socialists countries. Face it capitalism is all about greater profits by cutting everything as much as possible (except for executive salaries for some reason).

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Because Uni, everyone is equally poor.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        If socialism was so good the Berlin Wall would have fallen the other way with Western Europe, Britain and the USA embracing the 70 odd year socialist experiment of the USSR.

        Your ideal fantasy lands are still dotted about the world. Why not move to Cuba, Eritrea, North Korea or Venezuela (if its not too late) and entertain us with daily blog entries from your dream Utopias whilst we go to hell in a capitalist handcart.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          Firstly you’re confusing communism with socialism.

          Secondly German is far more socialist that the UK and the USA. They even have parties called the “Social Democratic Party of Germany” and the “Christian Social Union”.

          Thirdly you forgot about socialist countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            Ah yes Uni, that very subtle difference between socialism and communism.
            Under communism oppresion you get to vote once and if you guess wrong they lock you up.
            Under socialist oppression you get to vote every few years but still only for one candidate and this just increases your chance of being locked up.
            In both cases you end up with no freedom, poor and hungry.
            And if you really think the nations you have mentioned are socialist you are having a fantasy.

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

            I think Edward2 has beat me to it again. Apart from the spelling I fail to see much difference between socialism and communism. Both are failures in practice. Completely ignore human nature hence the need for oppressive authoritarianism to accompany it.

            Whilst other European nations have veered a little to the left of the UK I would hardly describe Germany as a socialist state. I think they have in the last century seen where that path lead.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          How do you explain todays socialism or even communism for the rich?

      • Richard1
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        If that were the case real wages would have been higher in communist countries such as the former eastern bloc, north Korea, Cuba etc than in capitalist countries. The opposite is very obviously the case. You have illustrated the point I was making.

        • Mark W
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          Indeed

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Giving that in many communist countries everyone was provided with housing, healthcare, and a job would your mind explaining just how you factored in the cost of living when calculating the “real wages” in these countries.

          Make sure you also factor in how the Soviet Union kept the prices of essential items low so that ordinary people could survive on a low wage.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Yes Uni,
            In the USSR potatoes and bread were really cheap
            After a 3 hour queue.
            But tractor production was up every year apparently

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            I am assuming you never yourself went behind the iron curtain before it fell. Where you obtain this nonsense is hilarious. I think your sociology lecturer may have been (misled-ed).

            Oh and yes I did, Pre 1989 too, and not East Berlin either.

          • Richard1
            Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            The bizarre nature of your posts are making my points for me. On any reasonable comparison living standards in the former eastern bloc were much lower than in western countries, and have risen since communism / socialism ended. No-one seems to be very keen on socialism once they actually get a choice at the ballot box.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          What makes you think the living standards have gone up for everyone in Russia since the fall of communism? For many such a s pensioners and the sick they have got much worse. It’s like your view of Tory governments putting millions on th3e dole but somehow improving everyones life and wealth.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

            Whereas Baz, the good old Labour party has never put anyone “on the dole” obviously.
            PS
            Have you ever checked the nonsense you come out with?
            eg Russia now compared to life under the communists ….claiming the standard of living has got worse!

          • Bazman
            Posted April 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            The living standards of millions of Russians got worse. Under Gorbachev the average lifespan of a man dipped to fifty something. Third world. The countries infrastructure crumbled. Do you think the infrastructure would not? Roads, street lights and general maintenance of the state. I saw it and it was really going down. Picked up a bit since then, but the average Russian finds it more economically difficult than under the Soviet system. Did they all suddenly get western standards of living. Ironically they now have extreme capitalism and the problems this causes for the average person. Poor in real terms. High prices and low wages with little state support.

      • Bob
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        @uanime5
        “…people on low ages prefer socialism to capitalism”

        Socialism is a degenerative disease.
        They just keep taking from the productive until there is nothing left.
        In the process the dependency culture leaves you with an uneducated and unskilled population who will be least able to survive when the handouts stop.

        The socialist elite however have their superior education, well stocked bank accounts and gilt edged pensions to protect their families from the inevitable hard times ahead.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          Let’s compare your claims to an actual socialist country such as Sweden.

          In the process the dependency culture leaves you with an uneducated and unskilled population who will be least able to survive when the handouts stop.

          In correct as in Sweden nearly everyone has a high level of education. This is why Sweden ranks 18 on the education index, while the UK ranks 31.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Index

          The socialist elite however have their superior education, well stocked bank accounts and gilt edged pensions to protect their families from the inevitable hard times ahead.

          No evidence of this happening in Sweden; though the UK does have a wealthy elite that attends public schools, who into high paying jobs using their connections.

          • Mark W
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

            Yes but if you look at things like the low cost of alcohol in such a huge population as Sweden then….. Sorry that’s not Sweden then is it.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

            If you think Sweden is a socialist nation Uni, you are deluded.
            Sweden is a modern, democratic, capitalist nation with a small population of intelligent, high earning and ambitious people who happily pay their taxes to an efficient Government
            A good model for other small non industrialised nations to follow, but not socialist at all.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

            He means they have a high tax and spend regime and are largely middle class as you well know, but are unable to answer.

          • Richard1
            Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

            It is a leftist fantasy to describe Sweden as socialist. No-one who knows the country would any longer do so. Extensive market reforms have been undertaken the last 20 years, including: labour reforms reducing an erstwhile average absenteesim in industry from 25% to close to zero, privatization in health and education, tax cuts including the abolition of inheritance tax, and balanced budgets in the 2000s (that’s the Gordon Brown tax borrow and spend era in case anyone forgot). Its good you point out Sweden’s superior performance in education. The UK used to be higher,but our state virtual monopoly system has dragged us down. If there was ever a good case study for free market, smaller government, lower tax reforms it is Sweden since 1992. Government is still too big in Sweden and taxes too high,but at least they’ve got the public sector money eating monster under control.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      How many working class were made an underclass in the areas where they live due to the lack of work? All the miners and shipyard workers suddenly just became self employed middle class citizens? A fact to be remembered by many is that just because you work in an office does not make you middle class. 15 k a year for this and you are middle class? Wot a laugh. Many office workers on 15 k actually believe this too!

  8. Peter Davies
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    A very good point on COE being divisive.

    Religious organizations all over the world are divisive as is anything that needs a tough solution.

    People need to stop wasting oxygen and learn to stand on their own two feet and just get on with it.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    The most divisive times in my memory were those when the trade unions thought that they ran the country. Strikes were the order of the day(literally in many cases). The closed shop meant that some peoples jobs depended on their union membership.Those who are making the most noise now, including journalistic staff at the BBC (you may have noticed how often they are striking even now), would like to return to those days. Days when the names of union leaders were more well known than the politicians they were trying to usurp. I can remember many of them even now : Vic Feather, Len Murray, Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon, Joe Gormley, Arthur Scargill, Clive Jenkins not forgetting ‘Red Robbo’. These people were always being interviewed as they led strike after strike and being called into Number 10 for beer and sandwiches. They almost destroyed this country, which was correctly known as ‘the sick man of Europe’. We must never return to those days.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Unlike the faceless elite holding us to ransom every day now though huh? The bankers who blame the government for allowing them to recklessly gamble on the markets and then try to blame the markets? The Foreign owned corporations ripping us off in every trade, business payrates and a government giving tax breaks to the very people who caused the problems whilst lower benefits to the poorest who are often the lowest workers without the protection of any organisation never mind a trade union.
      Run that one by me again Tomo.

  10. English Pensioner
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Surely the reason that politics is divisive is due to the present party system and the fact that “debates” in parliament aren’t true debates but “Ya-bo” point scoring sessions. The public is heartily fed up with this, and I’m sure this is the main reason for the general lack of interest in politics leading to a majority of the electorate not even bothering to vote.
    I’m sure that many of the major issues could be solved in a more constructive way if the parties stopped their “I’m right, you’re wrong” approach and tried some genuine debate. There are plenty of good ideas out there, but of course if one should be offered by the opposition it will immediately be rejected for no other reason that should it be accepted, the government would promptly be accused of doing a “U” turn.
    Until there is change, politics will remain divisive and the majority of the general public will have less and less interest except at general election time, and even then the small turnouts are hardly indicative of a thriving democracy.

    Reply Consensus politics has a very bad history, given that the 3 main parties all wanted membership of the ERM. The 2 main parties agreed on the Iraq war. All 3 front benches agreed with Brown’s overspending and overborrowing prior to the Credit Crunch. etc

  11. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The charge that Lady Thatcher was divisive seems odd for precisely the reason that democratic politics in this country, and many others, have for generations been defined by the struggle over the role of the state.

    Michael Durkin’s documentary on Saturday was a good reminder of the atmosphere which informed both her policies and the surrounding debate. There is a bit of left myth making in progress here which is that the 70’s were a time of plenty and happiness. No. No. No (as someone once said). They were absolutely awful.

    I believe I see Lady Thatcher through clear and not rose tinted spectacles, but the current debate illustrates that there is a lot of left wing evil (and the word is used with care) alive and active in this country and that we still owe her a big debt of gratitude.

  12. Peter Stroud
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The LibDems were promised a referendum on AV, and they got it. They were given the opportunity to draft a Lords reform bill, though it was not in the coalition agreement. Clegg produced what was effectively a Lords abolition bill. So, naturally it was defeated. So in a fit of pique he decided to renege on the boundaries bill, after praising it as democratic. That’s divisive politics pure and simple.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      No matter how many times you tell that lie it will never become true. The Lords bill was supported by a majority of over 300 MPs but was withdrawn because the Conservatives didn’t like it. So it’s clear that this bill wasn’t defeated but was removed for political reasons.

      Also an amendment from the Lords, that was approved by the Commons, meant that any boundary reforms wouldn’t be considered until after 2015. So it was democracy, not Clegg, that ended the boundary reforms.

      • Hope
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        It is not lie. What he says is perfectly true. You are talking socialist drivel once more. Additionally based on track record, no right minded person would believe a word Clegg says. He now wants to change his view on immigration, did not want to call those opposed to immigration pygmies?

    • sjb
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      @Peter Stroud
      In July 2012, the Conservative Minister of Constitutional Reform said: “both coalition negotiating teams that signed the Coalition Agreement were very clear that what they were committing both coalition parties to do was to actually deliver on House of Lords reform […]”.

      Source: http://skynews.skypressoffice.co.uk/newstranscripts/murnaghan-80712-mark-harper-mp-and-jeremy-browne-mp-lords-reform

  13. stred
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Fortunately, we in the UK do have an inbuilt tolerance which must be the result of a long history of avoiding civil war and acceptance of religious differences. My neigbours are so different politically from me that we think each other eccentric fools, but still chat in a civilised way. I went for a walk with a couple of lefties a few years ago and found that when I mentioned a Sky tv ad taking the p’ out of Stalin, they were qite upset and came to his defense. There are probably more communists here than are left in Russia. Needless to say they are all in education or law.

    However, the hard left and right are still there and, as with the NUM- moles lead by a ferret, when they use violence then they should expect physical action back. This is not to say that kettling or killing people who are in the way is acceptable action bythe police.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Fortunately, we in the UK do have an inbuilt tolerance which must be the result of a long history of avoiding civil war and acceptance of religious differences.

      Regarding civil wars there was the War of the Roses, the Civil War, and all the wars against the Jacobites. Regarding religious differences you seem to have forgotten about the whole Protestant-Catholic conflicts that occurred after Henry VIII declared himself, rather than the Pope, as head of the Church of England.

      Perhaps a few more history lessons are in order.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        Given that several hundred years can be described as long, your post can described as boring and very pedantic Uni.
        But nice to see you kept your Ladybird book of history from junior school

        • uanime5
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          Well Edward2 it’s clear from your post that you can’t debunk my argument that the UK hasn’t avoided civil wars and has been involved in religious intolerance so you decided to use petty insults instead.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

            Uni,
            Only because you are wrong in that civil war are from many centuries ago and you are trying to claim they play a part in today’s society.
            As Baz would say “you need telling”

          • stred
            Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

            Yes Hal, I forgot that, until recently, Lancashire folk and Yorkshire folk used to enjoy winding each other up. Bitterness can last hundreds of years to die down.

            I was hoping you were going to defend Stalin. His industrialisation plan went well apparently. In the Union of Soviet Socialist R’s.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        What relevance do these long events have to the original post. You may as well have brought up godwinson or a couple of cavemen having a swedge over a mamouth.

        The reformation was far more complex than Henry VIII’s Catholicism. The wars of the roses (which I honestly haven’t a great deal of knowledge) were I believe largly feudal and therefore not civil war in the sense that the average punter was motivated.

        The civil war was largly bringing power down one step of the class system. But whilst we benefit from parliamentary democracy and the Bill of Right from the turbulence of the 17th century it’s still a long time ago relevant to the point originally made.

  14. Tad Davison
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    As soon as a person decides on something, they divide opinion – decide and divide – but decisions that are founded upon good, sound, logic and common sense, inevitably win the day.

    Margaret Thatcher was a prime example. She was derided and criticised at the time by the political luddites who couldn’t see further than the end of their noses, but she is now seen as the person who had both the courage and the foresight to change Britain for the better, save for those who are so blind, they refuse to acknowledge the truth, and cling to some fanciful political socialist doctrine that never really delivered all that it’s exponents promised it would.

    Many years ago, it was a bit of a job trying to convince people that the Earth wasn’t flat, or later, that the Earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe, but those who knew the truth, kept arguing from a position of strength, even though they were in the minority. Some were even denounced as heretics, and their evidence-based work suppressed, and that presents an interesting parallel. Early astronomers were in much the same position in challenging the inane mind-set of the day, as we, who have always opposed the EU.

    And this is why I keep aiming most of my criticism at Britain’s membership of the EU. The decision to join it was at best spurious, and not founded upon any tangible benefits. It was always going to be an expensive nonsense and destined to failure, by the way it was set up and orchestrated. Only it has taken forty years for some people to see it for the mess it was always destined to be, and for the line of those original divisions to have moved to a consensus against it, based on insurmountable evidence. The tragedy however, it has been a massively expensive lesson for some to learn, and even now, there are those who like the believers in a flat Earth, fly in the face of sense and reason.

    Yet there can be nothing wrong with challenging a predominant position, and thereby creating a division, provided the case is strong. And sometimes, to be divisive, is also to be courageous.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • stred
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      When Copernicus was near the end of his life and keeping quiet about his findings about the Earth orbiting the Sun, a young Lutheran priest arrived in Catholic Poland and assisted him to eventually publish his book on the subject. There was goodwill on both sides even then. Copernicus had to hide him in his church house. Luther was dismissive, however, and the RCs only read it as a mathematical tool. Acceptance of the fact followed much later.

  15. Old Albion
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    It all seems syptomatic of the adversarial political system in the (dis)UK.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    If Tony Blair wasn’t ‘divisive’ it was because he aligned pretty much with BBC attitudes.

    Actually the main reason was that he inherited a sound economy and his government oversaw a housing boom and state spending spree. The people thought that Christmas had arrived.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      So how DID Tony Blair get away with it ?

      The Thatcher era is remembered for greed (by the Left) Yet there was no era greedier than the Blair era. The spiralling debt levels prove it. That period has gone under the radar somehow.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, not only did John Major bury the Tory party, for three + terms, he even left Bliar a sound economy. Due to the abject failure of his idiotic ERM, it was just about recovering when Major was finally dragged out of Downing Street.

      Why on earth he and the BBC think he has anything useful to say now on any topic I cannot imagine.

      Cameron and Lord Patten are also aligned, pretty much, with BBC attitudes, the usual fake green, big state, over tax, over regulate and waste, pro EU stuff.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      To the BBC being divisive is not thinking “BBC think”. You are either divisive, xenophobic or worse.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        ‘Divisive’ in BBC speak also means ‘right-wing’. I cannot think of a ‘divisive’ lefty. Even Arthur Scargill, who divided the miners by calling a strike and refusing a ballot, when half of them wanted to keep working, was not described as being ‘divisive’ as I recall.

  17. Kenneth
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    We have an in-built division in the UK which is roughly a north-south divide (with pockets of blue amongst the red and vice versa).

    It is disingenuous of the BBC and those it invites on the air to single out the Thatcher governments for presiding over division when this state of affairs has been among us for a very long time.

    This seems like yet another BBC propaganda campaign, this time to firmly associate division with Mrs Thatcher.

    I know this is not an orchestrated campaign. I am aware that the BBC does not plot. In some ways this would be easier to expose and deal with. It is much worse than that. It is visceral and gives rise to a meme.

    BBC editors, so immersed as they are in socialist ideology, provide the initial theme, and the meme soon transmits itself across its output and inevitably across other media outlets and society at large. It hides behind comments made by guests (forgetting that the BBC chooses the guests) and describes opinions made by its own staff as ‘expert analyses. However it describes these contributions, the end result is that the BBC is opinionated and, worse still, mixes its opinions with news facts, which are often the source of so many myths and half-truths in wider society.

    There needs to be a cultural change at the BBC. I have no quarrel with The Guardian and other left wing media if they are part of a plural media. However, the BBC’s effect on our society is devastating, in my opinion.

    This latest attempt to add more smears to the Thatcher governments is just one of many examples.

  18. Winston Smith
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I recommend reading this article, in City Am today, from one of the academics who berated Mrs Thatcher in 1981:

    http://www.cityam.com/article/i-was-wrong-criticise-thatcher-1981-she-didn-t-go-far-enough

    He highlights the growth of the socialist, middle-class public sector and they way they propogate marxist policies. They call it the Third Sector; in effect, an unelected government.

    Significantly, Cameron and his Party have done nothing to curtail the left-wing control of State institutions. They have continued to hand power to these people.

  19. Kenneth
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the coal mining industry and the myths being banded around, I have pulled this from another blog. I cannot guarantee its accuracy but it is claimed to have been sourced from the DoE:

    Columns:
    Year Total Pits Amount Closed PM

    Wilson
    ———
    1964 .. 545 .. 35
    1965 .. 504 .. 41
    1966 .. 442 .. 62
    1967 .. 406 .. 38
    1968 .. 330 .. 76
    1969 .. 304 .. 26 ….. total 278 NCB pits closed

    Heath
    1970 .. 293 .. 7
    1971 .. 289 .. 4
    1972 .. 282 .. 7
    1973 .. 261 .. 28 ….. total 39 NCB pits closed

    Wilson/Callaghan
    1974 .. 250 .. 11
    1975 .. 241 .. 9
    1976 .. 239 .. 3
    1977 .. 231 .. 6
    1978 .. 223 .. 8 ….. total 37 NCB pits closed

    Thatcher
    1979 .. 219 .. 4
    1980 .. 213 .. 6
    1981 .. 200 .. 13
    1982 .. 191 .. 9 ….. total 32 NCB pits closed

    Thatcher
    1983 .. 170 .. 21
    1984 .. 169 .. 1
    1985 .. 133 .. 36
    1986 .. 110 .. 23 ….. total 81 NCB pits closed

    Thatcher/Major
    1987 .. 94 .. 16
    1988 .. 86 .. 8
    1989 .. 73 .. 13
    1990 .. 65 .. 8 ….. total 45 NCB pits closed

    NCB pits closed under Wilson/Callaghan
    278+37=315

    NCB pits closed under Heath/Thatcher/Major
    39+32+81+45=197

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Not the impression you would get from the good old, “best in the world” BBC.

      • Mark W
        Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        We all know the BBC never let facts get in the way of a leftist rant.

        Like the money they generated for MGM this week by the free publicity to their 1939 tune. Odd that you had to delve very deep to find that there was a rival tune being pushed the same way but failed to do so well as the BBC didn’t promote it. I found out afterwards.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I think you need to consider the size of the pits and their outputs rather just their number.

  20. uanime5
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the new decisive things we have Gove trying to turn teachers again him by trying to change teaching to meet with his ideology, rather than what works.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/teachers-speak-out-against-michael-goves-lists-of-facts-curriculum-8572623.html

    There’s also the Conservatives plan to divide up people into those who are unemployed and claim benefits; and people who are employed, can’t claim working tax credits, and claim benefits. They then punish both of them for claiming benefits by capping their benefits. Not sure how this is going to encourage people to work and will most likely force many people working in low paid or part time jobs in expensive areas into cheaper areas where there aren’t any jobs.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/benefits-cap-rolled-out-in-four-london-boroughs-8572756.html

    Before someone mentions that people aren’t affected by this cap if they claim working tax credits you can’t claim these credits if you:

    1) Are single and earn more than £14,000 per year.
    2) Are a couple and earn more than £18,000 per year.
    3) Work less than 16 hours per week (I suspect this will apply to a lot of people on zero hours contracts).

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/people-advise-others/entitlement-tables/work-no-child.htm

    • Edward2
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Ref Mr Gove …so you think the current education system “works” do you … really?
      Teaching facts to children well how weird is that Uni!
      Ref your point on benefit caps… you have been calling for employers to attract staff with decent wages rather than calculating what benefits added to their low offered wages will give them and so these changes may bring about that change.
      So I think you should be welcoming these changes.

  21. David Langley
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I vote for policies, I am fed up with left right, centre etc. Its time for a government that is not obsessed with trying to get clear blue water between other political parties so they can continue in government or win the election. All parties may have policies that are the ones we want and need, so it boils down to us the people to have a system of voting that delivers what we want now not something promised but never delivered.
    Lets discuss the future and not the past which is shocking in wasted time and energy.

  22. David in Kent
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the opposite of ‘divisive’ is consensus politics. We had that in Britain from 1945 till 1979. Some think it worked well in the early years, though the Germans and French did better than we did by following other policies. It had certainly broken down by 1979 with neither Labour nor Conservatives able to manage the economy satisfactorily by adopting consensus policies.
    In 1979 the voters, in their desperation, decided that a new divisive politician was needed. it turned out they were right.

  23. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I cannot remember a time when personally, publically or professionally, that there was not some nastiness out there eager to divide and rule , by whatever underhand methods they could find. It probably stems out of jealously . That base instinct ruins lives and derives from all strata of society.

  24. Jon
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    The viscous attacks aver the last 25 years are not because she was divisive, its because of the extent of her success.

    She took on the old bowler hat closed market in the city head on. She took the unions head on as well and to the utter disgust of the left gave higher earnings and opportunities to the working class.

    She and those that worked on policy with her the most anti establishment, innovative and class breaking era to date.

    I thank her I thank JR for for being one of the major the brains behind it. The anti establishment idiots of the left do not know what they are talking about.

    For the free market, the down fall of the communist block and nuclear threat, the peace agreement with the IRA, the economic boom and not leaving future generations with debt I thank you!

  25. Bazman
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    where does your blind right wing think fit in and what about channel 4 News or SKY when they are saying the same thing as the BBC?

    • Edward2
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      The big difference Baz, is the BBC is funded by a compulsory tax whereas with Sky you pay only if you like it.
      Even Channel 4 are paíd for by adverts so if we all turn off they fail.
      Which is why the BBC is legally required to remain impartial and it is not.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:22 am | Permalink

        Advertising makes them impartial and SKY subscriptions are voluntary and only paid for by the subscriber? Not in the real world.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Well maybe so Baz, but at least you have a choice over your decision to subscribe to channels other than the BBC
          I resent being forced to pay £145 per year by law in order to be able to watch channels other than the BBC on Freeview.
          I would sell off the BBC making it a PLC, allowing advertising and let them find their proper role in the broadcasting world.
          Start like the Government did decades ago with BP, by selling just under 50% of the company’s shares.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Creating another SKY with their high quality original output huh?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            Well Baz Sky seems to be very popular and very profitable too.
            Why should the State basically control a TV and Radio business like the BBC?
            It should be set free to compete with the rest of its competitors not restricted to the revenue it gets from licence fee money set by the State
            You never know it might improve.

    • Jon
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      They do not say the same thing, for example CH4 pointed out that Labour closed more mines, that manufacturing increased and that the loads of money comedian caricature was based on a plasterer. As in the working classes started to have money to have foreign holidays etc.
      It was the last straw for labour, they feared and fear today that if you make the poor better off then they won’t vote labour. Thankfully for them they have people like you to keep then in a job and a good pension.

  26. Mark W
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Division in politics is necessary. Long live our adversarial system.

    Much of the dissatisfatcion now is that there is broad agreement on a social democrat ideolgy.

    But if all major parties started to agree openly far more then that is the road to tyrany.

  • 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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