Uniting the Conservatives

 

         It is conventional wisdom that a party needs to be united to win an election. This bears little relationship to reality. After  all the Conservative party of Margaret Thatcher was divided between wets and dries,with very different views on the economy and public spending, yet won three big victories. The government of Mr Blair was dominated by a major rift between himself and Mr Brown with daily stories of their rows from the battlefront, yet they too won three  large majorities, albeit with a falling percentage of the vote.

           However, perceptions matter and many people write the line that unity is good. I agree that it is better if the party is happy and broadly of the same view on the main issues, encouraging and supporting  the leadership in the preferred direction of travel. To achieve this requires not just mature conduct by followers, but also wise choices by leaders. It also requires controlled and supportive briefings of the press. Some argument and disagreement is also a good idea as well as inevitable,  showing and recognising  that the party is actively thinking and debating how to do better. The party in the country and most of the MPs want the party to move quickly to giving us a new relationship with the EU that frees our democracy from EU government intervention.

           I have read in recent days that the Chief Whip is to be replaced. I have seen reference to at  least three people who might get the job. It is possible all this is made up by bored journalists, but it is more likely that someone thinks this kind of briefing is helpful. All it can do is pit colleague against colleague and lead to disappointments.

           I also read of several members of the 2010 intake who are due promotion to the threshold of the Cabinet, and several others who need to be brought into Ministerial positions. That is great for them if it happens, but in the meantime all those currently occupying the Ministerial jobs they might get are going to have a miserable time.

           I often read that there are two Conservative parties, the 2010 intake and the rest. It does not feel like that inside Parliament. The 2010 intake is a large one, with plenty of talent . It also has a very wide range of views, and  some strong campaigners.  It is interesting that members of the 2010 intake have led all the large rebellions in this Parliament, tabling the proposals on an EU referendum, Lords reform, cutting the EU budget and writing the letter on intervention in Syria. Far from being the loyal inner group having to fend off difficult colleagues from earlier intakes as some of the stories imply, they have often been the fire brands for change.

              A more united party needs to read in the press that the leadership likes the MPs and followers, and is happy working with them in the national interest. Stories about divisions can help create the very divisions we do not need or want. It is not a good idea to divide up MPs into modernisers versus traditionalists, or 2010 ers versus the rest. In Parliament all MPs are meant to be equal, each having one vote on every measure, and each having the same duty to represent their constituents.

          It is interesting that the party is very united in its enthusiasm to vote for a Conservative Bill to hold a referendum in due course. The party is also keen on many of the  measures to bring down the deficit by curbing the growth in public spending, and  keen on the Schools reforms as well as other government measures.

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87 Comments

  1. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    The Conservatives have voted for and retain a leader who a lot of us think has made some hideous, and hideously stupid, decisions which very unfortunately cannot ever be rowed back from and whom in any event we no longer trust. I used to call myself Truebluechap but those days are gone and there is no way I shall ever vote Conservative while that (individual) is in charge.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      @Leslie Singleton: Indeed and that is something both wet or dry, left or right can agree on!…

    • Hope
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Well said. Any division was created by Cameron and ably assisted by his fellow Europhile fanatics with total disregard for his party and its supporters in the hope everyone would choose him instead of Miliband.

      Most people are now wise and see little difference between them. The LibLabCon only present EU views on a regional basis. Therefore people have left in droves to UKIP. Today we have an article by a former Labour minister who appears to share the view of the public for this change in mindset and thinks Labour will fall to a similar fate by abstaining from the EU vote on 5th July.

      The folly of today’s blog presupposes you can unite two sides of something when one side has left.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but alas there is no alternative to the dreadful Cameron for 2015, he is not going to be replaced until after May 2015. No one else would do any better now anyway, the only route is a deal with UKIP following the Tories coming a poor third to UKIP and Labour in the EU elections.

      Has he decided what powers he and all the other Ken Clark types want back from the EU yet, or is he still thinking about it?

  2. lifelogic
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    The party needs sensible policies, a party united behind mad policies is a disaster.

    You say “the party is very united in its enthusiasm to vote for a Conservative Bill to hold a referendum in due course.” The problem is for many “in due course” means “when the time is right”, “when we will win it” or in short “never”. We do not even know what powers Cameron wishes to negotiate. The pathetic ratter cannot even tell us this.

    Cameron simply cannot be trusted, as he has shown clearly by his actions. Anyway his inability to manage to even beat the hapless Gordon Brown (this before much of his post election ratting) hardly inspires confidence he could ever win again. The only hope is some deal with UKIP. Otherwise we will have destruction and civil war in the party in 2015. Just as Major gave the party in May 1997. Can they ever recover from it at all this time I wonder?

    • zorro
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      To reiterate the potential ineffectiveness of Cast Elastic’s powers of negotiation, I see that there is to be no proper celebration of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015……The defining moment (after over 20 years of war) when the Allied Coalition finally defeated Napoleonic and the centralising dictatorship he was creating for Europe. Even the Belgians are spending money on it…….Is it because he doesn’t want to upset the French? One of the reasons why they probably moved the Eurostar services from Waterloo to St Pancras, I suppose…….How can we expect the government to negotiate anything of value back from Europe if they won’t officially and properly recognise this event?

      zorro

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: Even UKIP are not making EU-UDI an election issues, they call only for a referendum and did not specify (in 2010) by-when they would hold it if elected, just that they would. From what I understand there is only one party who is making this an election manifesto issue, saying they will UDI (withdraw) from the EU upon taking office and that is the hard left SLP. Thus I’m not sure what your point is, unless it is to point out that it is UKIP who needs “the deal” in 2015 if they are not going to fail yet again to get a single MP elected.

      Saying that, what hasn’t been explained by Mr Cameron, or anyone else from the Tory party, is why a referendum in 2017. Why not 2016, why not Oct. 2015?

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile Cameron and Clegg are still wittering on about tax havens, have they nothing better to do. The UK anyway, for non doms, is perhaps the best tax havens going at the moment. Just pay £30K PA and that is all, if your affairs are structured well. Perhaps the only bit of the economy doing well as a result. He should extend it to the UK population too.

      This is attack on tax havens by them is total hypocrisy of the first order. Tax competition is after all one of the main things that keeps 50%+ government slavery at bay.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile we learn that every so called green job cost us £100,000 PA thus destroying net jobs on a vast scale.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/10122850/True-cost-of-Britains-wind-farm-industry-revealed.html

    • Hope
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Cameron still makes it clear he will do everything to stay in the EU. This is not a good negotiating position for any discussion with the EU and it resoundingly fails to convince anyone of his sincerity when his record to date is now clear for all to see. He is an electoral disaster and if the Tory party MPs fail to see this then they will be out of a job and the few remaining will be in opposition for a very long time.

  3. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    It all seems very staged John . I agree with you in the main, but this staging also smacks of insincerity.

  4. Andyvan
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Rather than worrying about the appearance of unity perhaps the appearance of competence might be more appealing to voters?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Andyvan–Amen to that–Osborne firing the successful Hester (and of course with our paying the maximum for the privilege via our ownership) is only the latest piece of incompetence. What Osborne thinks he knows about banking is hard to fathom and then there is the usual slippery manifestation of what this Government sees as PR with the complete baloney about the Board making the decision, with which, even per John, “the principle shareholder had to be content”. Twaddle of the first order. Entirely certainly it was the Board that had to be content (mind you I am sure the Board like their positions and high salary well enough to have fallen in line fusslessly). The whole matter seems to have been handled childishly throughout: instead of all the nose-out-of-joint meetings we read about it and if Osborne wanted it done his way (he is after all Chancellor, for our sins) he should have instructed Hester what to do long ago and if he didn’t like it he, Hester, could have quit, at much less cost to boot and without Osborne’s looking like a (vide supra).

  5. Mick Anderson
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe that the majority of the Electorate notice if a Party is united or not, and care even less. The Party activists should care, but they are a very small minority of the populus and will only care about their own Party.

    Mrs Thatchers Conservatives were successful because enough of the Electorate could see that necessary reforms were being made. There were (are still) some very vocal objectors, but they are clearly outnumbered by those who found the changes improved their lives. Everybody was adversly affected by the three day week, and ending that sort of Union-inspired trouble was something to vote for. The Falklands conflict worked in the Tories favour, too.

    Now we have a PM whos policies can be seen to do damage to ordinary people. High taxes, increasing energy bills, broken promises, to name but a few. I can’t see anything in what Mr Cameron has done that is other than to my personal disadvantage, and without doing good to any other significant group in the Country.

    Mr Gove might well be doing well in education but we’re not going to reap rewards from those changes for many years, even assuming that his reforms have the desired results. Mr Pickles early triumphs have fizzled out; the NHS changes feel (to an outsider) as merely rearranging the proverbial deckchairs on the Titanic.

    I am only going to vote for a Party that does things (or I can trust to do things) that I can see to be good for both me and the Country. That does not apply to any of the big three, and the small matter of apparent Party unity isn’t going to change my mind.

  6. barnacle bill
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Cameron by his actions has shown that even Conservative Party cannot be trusted in office anymore.
    All three major parties have become corrupted by Westminster.
    Instead of being the elected representatives of the people MPs from all parties have taken the thirty pieces of silver. Either directly from out of our pockets with their expense claims or, from which ever lobbists happened to be in their office that week.

    No, you might be united in trying to con us to vote for you in 2015, but with Cameron at the helm you’re going to shipwreck your party.

  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that Mr Cameron is a good organiser and that he keeps calm in a crisis. But that is not enough.

    Mr Blair and Mr Brown made a lot of changes in how Parliament works. They encouraged the EU for a start. Then they centralised government at No 10, No 11 and picked their own advisers and friends who had nothing to do with parliament at all. All the major speeches on policy were made in front of picked audiences for TV presentation. They also spent ages keeping the press on side. The BBC, of course, was a loyal lieutenant.

    Mr Cameron has continued this tradition when it needed serious reform.

    Separated from his rapidly diminishing support in the country, both he and Mr Miliband are now marginalised by the lefties, the EDL and UKIP in the minds of people who care. Mr Farage (and I do not blame him at all) is rightly offended by being dismissed with insults and it is going to be really hard to get him on side with his many supporters.

    The difference, of course, is that the TUC is firmly behind Mr Miliband with all the money, votes and Welfare that they can provide.

  8. Acorn
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Think how different your post would have been if MPs had a term limit. A maximum of two or three, preferably fixed term, parliaments. We all run out of ideas after eight years in a job; sclerosis sets in. Even a US President was only given eight years max.

    My late mum used to change a vase full of flowers (think: ministers) every week. You got a nice new smell for a day or so (think: minister has to have a new initiative to impress the boss). The new flowers look good for a few more days then start to wilt, eventually to be discarded with no further thought and easily replaced. Those flowers were intent to attract bees and perpetuate their species. The species that put them in the vase (think: PM), just wanted them to look and smell nice for a while, and that’s all.

    The trouble is the current flower shop has a very limited range of flowers with some of dubious quality; particularly the energy and culture variety. The US President gets to pick any flower he likes from any shop he likes, and they tend to last longer in the vase.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    If a leader wants to lead a united party then he doesn’t allow those close to him to indulge in playground taunts such as “Turnip Taliban” to denigrate loyal longstanding supporters who happen to disagree with him on some point.

    Nor does he first disparage members of another party as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”, and then later allow those in his circle to redirect those insults to large numbers of his own party’s members who happen to agree with much that the other party says and disagree with his views.

    Nor does he rely on a small minority of members who agree with him to campaign against the mass of members and try to suppress their views.

    It has been said that if Cameron carries on like this then he will end up leading a party of one, which of course is an exaggeration but still has a kernel of truth.

  10. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, the Sunday Telegraph claims that on average every job in the wind industry is being subsidised by £100,000 a year:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/10122850/True-cost-of-Britains-wind-farm-industry-revealed.html

    Why? If coal miners or steel workers or shipbuilders were being subsidised to that extent the Tory party would be up in arms and demanding that it must stop.

    Meanwhile, I read elsewhere that while all our coal fired power stations will be shut down over the next three years Germany will be opening six new ones just during 2013, with six more to follow by 2020, and in relation to a point raised here recently none of those new coal fired power stations, and none of the twenty seven new gas fired stations, are being equipped for carbon capture and storage:

    It is worth noting that none of these coal or gas plants will be built with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), which is a legal requirement for coal generators in the UK, despite the fact that the technology does not yet exist on a commercial scale.

    How is it possible that we have got such a bunch of lunatics in charge of our country?

    • Mark
      Posted June 17, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      A quick back of the envelope calculation shows that offshore wind was being subsidised by around £90/MWh, and onshore wind by £45/MWh in direct payments (and much more via the spreading of the added costs of grid connections across all our bills) – yet the energy produced was barely over 5% of our electricity, or just 0.9% of our primary energy supply. The potential impact on our bills of expanding reliance on wind (and particularly offshore, with its double ration of subsidy) is catastrophic.

      For comparison, at 60p/therm~=£20/MWh for gas, at 60% efficiency CCGT has a fuel cost of around £33, while the capital cost should add no more than £5-10/MWh (depending on average utilisation) based on a 25 year life and a generous £1m per MW of capacity capitalised cost (i.e. including loan interest).

      Wind is getting twice (onshore) or three times (offshore) the price of CCGT power.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      For comparison how much is oil and gas subsided per job? Given that Osborne recently had to give them £1 billion worth of tax breaks to continue drilling in the North Sea I’d say the figure would be much higher than for the wind industry.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Absolutely typical of your thinking that you see “tax break” as synonymous with “subsidy”.

      • Mark
        Posted June 18, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        You do realise that oil is taxed far more heavily than any other industry, don’t you? And that Osborne increased the Supplementary Charge from 20% to 32% – on top of Ring Fenced Corporation Tax (so profits can’t be offset against losses in assessing the tax due, as normal businesses are able to do).

        The current marginal rates of tax are:

        Corporation Tax and Supplementary Charge – 62 per cent
        PRT, Corporation Tax and Supplementary Charge – 81 per cent

        What other business pays so much?

        http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/oilandgas/guide/index.htm

  11. alan jutson
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    A good school is kept on track by a good Headmaster.

    A a good business grows with a good and perceptive Managing Director.

    A happy ship follows its course with a with a good Captain.

    A successful team always has an inspiring and respected Captain.

    The common theme, the person at the top really does matter.

    The same can be said, and is true of any Political Party.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      @alan jutson: “The common theme, the person at the top really does matter.

      But if the staff or crew are unwilling to even give the Headmaster, Boss, Captain etc, a chance then there is not a lot of hope for even the best. 🙁

      Sorry to say this but some within the Tory party have had it in for Cameron, like they did for Major, from the start.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Oops, should have added.

      Is Mr Cameron an inspirational, astute, determined, perceptive leader ?

      Make your own mind up.

      For me he lost the plot when he agreed to go into Coalition with the LibDems instead of forming a minority government, then within 6 months he could have presented to the Nation the actual truth about our financial situation, and the Conservative policy for correction
      If those policies failed to get through Parliament with Labour and Lib Dem opposition, then he should have called another general election.

      I said this at the time, and still believe it would have been better than what we have now.

      The fact is Mr Cameron underestimated the ability of Mr Clegg to frustrate true Conservative policies, and he will pay the price for that, as will the Country in due course.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        @Alan Jutson: “For me he lost the plot when he agreed to go into Coalition with the LibDems instead of forming a minority government

        Do the maths for goodness sake, Cameron and your minority government wouldn’t have lasted a month, they would not have got their first Budget though the HoC, the LibDems saw the opportunity but there would have been no skin off their noses had there been another election within weeks – in such a situation, second time around, having been seen willing to form a coalition they might even have done better!

    • Ilma
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      …which basically means Cameron has to go, and why UKIP is gaining so much ground. Are you sure you wouldn’t be happier in a party in the ascendancy rather than one of the three in decline?

      • Jerry
        Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        @Ilma: Trouble is, Cameron is loosing voters to both the left-wing and right-wing, just as many people are feed up with his anti EU rhetoric as there are feed up with his pro-EU rhetoric, net result is a split in the vote and an open door to the Labour party.

        • APL
          Posted June 17, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “just as many people are feed up with his anti EU rhetoric as there are feed up with his pro-EU rhetoric .. ”

          Wrong Jerry. People recognize indecision and know the characteristic makes a bad leader, that’s why Cameron is losing support.

          They want to be led, but instinctively know you can’t be led in two directions at once.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            APL: “People recognize indecision and know the characteristic makes a bad leader

            Sorry but you are wrong,. otherwise please do tell us who that UKIP member of Parliament is, the one who won their seat at the recent by-election… Oh and whilst you are at it do remind us how many UKIP MPs were elected at the last GE.

            They want to be led, but instinctively know you can’t be led in two directions at once.

            No one is suggesting they are or should be, Cameron has said that -if he is PM then- there will be a referendum in 2017, what has Farage promised, heck his party can’t even get elected to make such a promise – only printed wishes and day-dreams – the europhile Greens did better!

            APL, If you really think, should the ‘miracle’ happen, and Farage is a leading member of a government (either outright or within a coalition), that Mr Farage will not also have to compromise, do deals or consult other diaries before setting a date for his own EU referendum then you do not live in the real world.

            As I’ve said before, if you want EU-UDI you are backing the wrong horse, you need to do an about turn and head towards the hard left of UK politics, no other political party is promising an EU exit, not even Farage and his band of merry men and women.

          • APL
            Posted June 19, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “Sorry but you are wrong,. ”

            Possibly.

            Jerry: “otherwise please do tell us who that UKIP member of Parliament is,”

            What on earth are you talking about? Trying to set another hare running?

            This was about Cameron’s ability as leader of the Tory party, he is trying to do a ‘Bliar’ be all things to all men. It is clear he has failed.

            I haven’t time nor inclination to address your other off topic wittering.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

            @APL: I’m very sorry that you do not seem able to follow a debate, I will now try and remember that for you every comment is made in isolation to what ever has gone before.

            This was about Cameron’s ability as leader of the Tory party, he is trying to do a ‘Bliar’ be all things to all men. It is clear he has failed.

            But even having the debate your way, history shows that Cameron has not failed, otherwise do tell us who that man is who stands up at PMQs and takes the questions, it sure looks like and sounds like Mr Cameron!

      • alan jutson
        Posted June 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Ilma

        “…..Are you sure…..”

        I am not a member of any Party !

  12. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    It was reported that Sir George Young took on the job as Chief Whip because of the political disaster created by yet another Cameron insider behaving badly. He apparently did not want the job and accepted it only as a stop-gap to help the Party out. If this is the case, it would make good sense to replace Sir George this summer so that the new man is settled in for 2015.

    The Referendum Bill is a typical Cameron fudge intended to create an appearance of dynamism while actually doing nothing. In fact, the small print of the Bill is such as to enable the direct opposite of the title of the Bill. Cameron will not willingly give the electorate a say due to the likelihood of obtaining a result he would have no intention of acceding to. Cameron has dissembled on Europe far too often to retain the trust of traditional Conservatives.

    Reply Mr Mitchell did not say what he is alleged to have said, it appears.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      @Kevin R. Lohse: You appear completely out of touch regarding “Pleb-gate”.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      @Kevin R. Lohse

      I wonder if you could enlighten us on the small print of the Bill which is to enable the direct opposite of the title of the Bill.

      I know hell will freeze over before we are given a referendum on Europe but I would be interested to read exactly how they have phrased the Bill to make sure we never get one.

      Mind you, I am forgetting. You have to win the 2015 election first.

    • matthu
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Neither will he confirm what he did say, unfortunately. It may well have been worse.

  13. Jerry
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    John, I was going to write a ream in response but lets just say that whilst I disagree with much you say I accept that this is your own taking on how your party is working, to those on the outside and even more those out side of the Westminster bubble will see much differently but thanks for the insight.

    Please just remember that whilst something might be popular within the ‘bubble’, or the wider party, it needs to be popular amongst the wider electorate – at this point in time much is not and 2014/15 is beckoning…

  14. Winston Smith
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    A post that demonstrates that even you, as the leading free thinker, in the Conservative Party, are still out of touch with Conservative voters. The split within the Party is largely irrelevant, its the chasm between the Party, its members and the voters that you fail to understand. 5m lost voters and several councillor defections to UKIP, each week.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      @Winston Smith: It is not the Conservative voters that matter, it is the NON Conservative voters, had Labour voters not changed their vote then not only would UKIP have been licking their wounds after 2010 but the Tories to, as well as both looking for new leaders.

      • APL
        Posted June 17, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Jerry: ” it is the NON Conservative voters ”

        Nearly right, but not quite.

        There is almost 35% of the electorate that didn’t vote last election. That is a huge quantity waiting to be captured by a party that offers ‘vision’ and direction.

        None of the mainstream parties are doing that, squabbling as they are about the declining share of voters that are content to turn out and vote for Tweedle-dee or Tweelde-dum.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          @APL: Indeed, but who says that they are disaffected right wing voters, what if this huge number of voters woke up and voted for an old style Labour party? Remember that Thatcher didn’t win over all the votes and Labour lost many of their once-core voters when Blair got rid of the parties “Clause Four”. It might actually be more problematic to the right if this 35% woke up than if the existing floating voter (of whom I was referring to) swapped sides.

          • APL
            Posted June 19, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “what if this huge number of voters woke up and voted for an old style Labour party?”

            Not too keen on democracy are we Jerry?

            If this very significant rump did vote old style Labour party, it would be a good – since the old style Labour party, was anti EEC.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            @APL: Once again you are implying that I said something I did not. But glad to hear that you will be voting SLP at the next election! 😛

          • APL
            Posted June 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “Once again you are implying that I said something I did not.”

            I suggested the Parties tried to galvanize the nearly 35% of the those eligable to vote who currently don’t bother now. You warned against that just in case they were Labour voters.

            How else can one interpret a remark like that?

          • Jerry
            Posted June 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            @APL: It was your suggestion that I am not keen on democracy that I was objecting to.

    • Chris
      Posted June 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I think you are absolutely right, WS.

      I also think that the argument that voters don’t like split/bickering parties is misused by some who just want grassroots to drop their opposition and support Cameron. What voters do not like is a political elite, which seems intent on not listening to grassroots and which instead seems intent on trying to mould us into something that the metropolitan liberal elite approves of. There should be a split in these circumstances i.e. the true Conservative MPs should take a firm stand against Cameron and his followers, and take the necessary steps to save the Conservative Party, or what is left of it. Only in that way will the grassroots return, and there be any hope of the Conservatives winning the next election. I personally fear it is far too late for this, as so many others have said, and that the Party will have to experience some years in the wilderness before it really learns its lesson.

  15. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    “a new relationship with the EU that frees our democracy from EU government intervention”.
    To achieve this, i.e. no pooling of sovereignty, would require you returning to the pre-1957 period, because this intervening started in 1957: A Brexit. Do you expect the Tories to unite over this. Do you expect the country to throw, away 40 years of EU participation?

  16. JoolsB
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    ” In Parliament all MPs are meant to be equal, each having one vote on every measure, and each having the same duty to represent their constituents.”

    With respect John, all MPs in Parliament are anything but equal. We have UK MPs with English constituencies voting on all matters relating to England (but not on most matters outside of England which are devolved) and then we have 117 UK MPs with Scottish, Welsh & NI constituencies who bizarrely CANNOT vote on devolved matters for their own constituents and therefore cannot represent them, these being devolved to their own parliaments at Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont but they can definitely vote and meddle on all matters relating to England where they represent no-one and where no-one voted for them.

    Cameron and the present ‘Tory’ party’s biggest mistake has been to stand by and ignore this insult to the people of England, the very people who they rely on for their support. England is now the only country in the western world without it’s own legislature, without a voice and denied self determination. England is now the only part of the UK whose young face crippling £9,000 tuition fees, it’s sick are now the only ones who have to pay for their prescriptions and it’s elderly have to hand over to the state everything they have worked hard for should they be unfortunate enough to need care. Meanwhile, our so called representatives have stood idly by whilst England has and continues to be shafted both politically and financially by successive UK Governments, even this Tory led one. The Tories have let England down badly and have proved they are just as anti- English as Labour and the Lib Dums. The only difference is the Tories are dead outside of England but that won’t stop Cameron offering Scotland even more goodies at England’s expense to vote no.

    If the Tories want to know how they can win majorities, then they can start by addressing the English Question. The Tories won a 62 seat majority in England in 2010 and yet England alone is denied the government of it’s choosing. By continuing to refuse to champion England in it’s quest for equality and democracy, they will be handing England over to Labour on a plate whether she votes for them or not in 2015 but shamefully the Tories, the so called English Party, cannot even bring themselves to say the word England let alone stand up for it. They deliberately conflate England and the UK referring to ‘the country’ instead when they know full well that most of the UK Government’s business nowadays only refers to England. Labour denied England it’s own parliament because how else could they govern England without their Celtic votes and their Celtic MPs but why the Tories refuse to speak out against the constant discrimination levelled at their English constituents at every turn is a mystery. Of course 650 UK MPs would no longer be needed (nor 800+ Lords and Ladies especially as only English legislature is scrutinized) if England had it’s own parliament, so maybe it’s a question of naked career self interest being far more important than what is right and fair for those who sent them to Westminster to represent them in the first place.

    No wonder we are all turning to UKIP, the only party offering to square the circle of devolution and offer England it’s own parliament. I have voted Tory all my life John and spent months campaigning in 2010 but no more. UKIP are now the real Conservative party with real Conservative policies and they have also replaced the Tories as the English Party and the Tories have no-one to blame but themselves.

    Reply You ask why this was not posted quickly. I was playing cricket for the Lords and Commons at Lords yesterday so was not around to post things. This was very long and is close to being a party political broadcast on behalf of UKIP.

  17. Kenneth
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Any grouping, whether it is a political party, family, football team, company board etc will always be balancing unity against the needs to maintain a “broad church”.

    The fact that some of the media dwells on differences within the Conservatives and ignores those in other parties tells us more about the media than anything else.

    I blame the messenger.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    JR: “Uniting the Conservatives”
    Just who are the Conservatives in this context? I think you mean the MPs in parliament. Your so-called leader isn’t a uniter, unless it is with his best pals in the LibDems to whom he is eternally grateful for allowing him to take the job he mistakenly thought he wanted because he would be good at it. With regard to his own party he has proved to be a mendacious duplicitous divider. He had to rid the party outside Westminster of the old fogies and drive through his ‘modernisation’. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in driving out the core supporters. He has jettisoned trust. How can even your small coterie ever unite under such leadership?

  19. Peter Stroud
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Others have said that Cameron might not have called local Tory activists swivel eyed nutters, but unfortunately, many believe that he might say such a thing. Our leader seems more and more out of step with the rank and file. This is bad. But what is worse he seems to be out of touch with many of his backbenchers. Only today he still seemed to be threatening to arm the ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels. Surely he realises he is not going to get the Commons onside. So one has to doubt even his political judgement. No much hope of party unity until our leader changes his ways.

    • rose
      Posted June 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      “but unfortunately, many believe that he might say such a thing.”

      These weasel words of black propaganda against individuals are far too fashionable for the good of the body politic. They date from the days when A Campbell used to brief against John Major (only then it wasn’t “many believe he might say such a thing” but “many believe he might do such a thing”, e.g. the squalid vest tucked into underpants rumour.) This was the device by which Andrew Mitchell was removed from office. It reflects very badly on the people who do it and also on the judgement of the people who fall for it.

  20. rose
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Mrs T led a coalition – of Economic liberals (Thatcherites) and Conservatives. It used up a lot of time and energy keeping it together and prevented her from going on to deal with the other 2 great vested interests: teachers and lawyers. She never got a chance to do what IDS is doing now either. It was only the weakness of the official opposition that enabled her to tough it out. In fact the real opposition was within her party – Gilmour, Pym, Prior, Patten, and the rest, eventually taking in Howe, Heseltine, and Clarke; and in the Lords, not just on the Bishops’ bench. Disunity of purpose is a very bad thing, as the soldier Willie Whitelaw understood. As long as he was there drawing its sting, she was OK.

    That is not to say MPS shouldn’t speak their minds and air their principles. But that is very different from plotting: and it is plotting and “briefing” which are so very destructive.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      @rose: Mrs T lead a single party government, stop gilding the lilly!

      • rose
        Posted June 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        It is “to paint the lily” – look it up in King John. You may be thinking of “gild refined gold.”

  21. A.Sedgwick
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    The voters of England are the only reason the Conservative Party exists and there are substantial indications both in actual voting patterns and anecdotal information through polls, blogs and readers’ comments that the trust has long gone. A smart politician leading the Conservative Party would have latched on to the simple correlation that such a political party needed to address the needs of the increasingly sidelined voters of England. The 15 year anniversary of the West Lothian question has just passed and the inbalance has increased rather than diminished over this period.

    Cameron’s clear support for the EU maybe the realisation that our exit will see the UK comprising four largely autonomous states with the PM being not much more than the leader of a senate with limited power and further declining world influence. Although total EU subjugation would be a worse picture

    It doesn’ t make much difference if Conservative MPs appear united behind Cameron, the decline in party membership since 2005 is more relevant.

    There is an increasing national undercurrent that our political system is rotten and in need of drastic reform, the next GE could hasten change or condemn future generations to never ending pseudo democracy.

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. Cameron’s Tories refuse to admit they are dead outside of England and are unwilling to address the English Question and the unfair manner in which England is governed both politically and financially. They have carried on where Labour left off in their contempt for England and for that they will pay the price come 2015.

      John, I notice you haven’t printed my comments on this article yesterday. They were in no way offensive but did point out a few home truths that 650 UK MPs are more interested in their own careers than doing what is right for England because they know there would be no need for anywhere near that amount of MPs if England had it’s own parliament. Why have you not shown my comments?

    • Jerry
      Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      @A.Sedgwick: The voters of England (and the other three nations that make up the UK) are the only reason any political party exists!

  22. David Saunders
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    The Party needs a Leader who can win elections and not continually pick fights with his own supporters.

  23. Normandee
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    In how many other areas of policy is there such a fundamental difference across the party as in the European Union debate? Across the rest of the governments programme there is broad agreement, forget the differences with the lib dems I mean amongst the conservatives. Some tinkering around the edges, Gay Marriage has been a pain, but on it’s own it would go away. There is a cliff and chasm between the in’s and the outs, and its effect on this country and it’s future is enormous. Which takes it away and above any other bickering over policy, but if that debate is chained down and incapacitated by party loyalty it cannot come to a sensible conclusion. It is outside party politics, and it deserves a loyalty of it’s own. So you need to decide if you are a British Conservative or a Conservative Britain. So it’s party or country you cannot have both.

  24. Credible
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Most politicians live in a egotistical bubble of corporate ladder climbing, lies and backstabbing. They live by the premise that only the strong (and lucky) prevail. As long as the primary motivation is self aggrandisement, unity is impossible. It’s no wonder most people are getting increasingly turned off by it all. If this is not the case, John, please tell me and everyone else who has become sceptical and feels increasingly disenfranchised, how it is not the case.
    The sad thing is that, as history has shown, politics is important and potentially very destructive, otherwise we could happily ignore these little games.

  25. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    WRONG: as I am sure you very well know the split is PRECISELY between the Mods & the Conservatives. UKIP has become the party of those with convictions & a sensible aversion to lies & damned liars. Cast Iron is losing the ship & your days as a political force are over!

  26. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m really puzzled by this topic. It makes all sorts of strange assumptions like, for example, that people think before they vote. And, of course, that the votes of those that do vote actually count for something.

    In the 2005 election, more than half of all voters did not vote for the winning MP.

    In the UK, the only voters with any real power to choose the government are those who live in marginal constituencies and less than 20% of constituencies can be considered marginal.

    The rest of us have little or no power to influence the outcome of the election. Here, in Wokingham, we have no chance. Mr. Redwood could do nothing but laze around all day, if he wished, and he would still win.

    So, I suppose you might argue that presenting a united front is important, but only to less than 20% of the 60% that bother to vote. So you just have to target 12% of the electorate.

    I am pleased that ‘The party is also keen on many of the measures to bring down the deficit by curbing the growth in public spending’. Yes, for heaven’s sake let us not cut public spending – currently at the rate of 120, thousand, million pounds more than we can afford. No, no, no! We must ‘curb the growth’ in public spending and hope against hope that, somehow, growth and inflation deliver us from our spendthrift ways.

    For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let us hope so.

    Reply I work hard as an MP because I believe that is the right thing to do, but also because lazy MPs can be removed by electors in any seat.

  27. Bert Young
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    It is clear from your responses that there is little respect for the leadership of the Conservative Party ; it is understandable why there are rumours of a challenge . Leaving a referendum until after the election and the bill to authorise gay marriage has done a great deal of damage ; the big question is “can it be put right ?” . Under Cameron I have grave doubts , but , at the same time I have difficulty in identifying a successor . Boris is , theoretically unavailable , Hague has definitely ruled himself out , Osborne is not in the reckoning ; we are left with Theresa May and Hammond . Have I missed someone ? Change must happen .

  28. nTropywins
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    John

    You say ” It is interesting that the party is very united in its enthusiasm to vote for a Conservative Bill to hold a referendum in due course.”

    I say “It’s a pity that the party is not similarly united in its enthusiasm to repeal the Climate Change Act”

    When it is, let me know. In the meantime UKIP can rely on my support.

  29. David Langley
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives will do a deal with the devil to remain in so called power, I prefer to carry on pushing for the policies that will make sense. Only UKIP will offer that broad reach of sensible policies that we all want. Its OK for those in other parties taking the view that too young to succeed UKIP will not be able to run the country. Want to bet, the make up of the UKIP party is predominantly older and wiser heads and there is a manifest desire to recruit younger skilled and sensible people to get into government and overturn the power and spend mad current lot.

  30. David Langley
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Most of us are not really interested in the micro rictures those in the Westminster village seem to think is important. We have bigger fish to fry and more important issues to sort out. I want to see the back of the career politicians and welcome those citizens who will do the right thing for GB.
    When you are bankrupt is would be wise to concentrate on the alligators biting your behind rather than wondering about draining the swamp.

  31. Paul
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see how united your party is when Labour returns to power in 2015. The idea of Cameron winning enough support to form a Conservative majority in 2015 is laughable. Keep the letters to Graham Brady coming!

  32. Andy
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    As a lifelong Conservative voter no matter was is said I will never vote conservative as long as Cameron , Osborne etc. are at the helm. I was conned by them once but never again

  33. Tom William
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    John Major spurned a deal with the Referendum Party in 1997 (i.e. just to promise a referendum) and it cost him dearly. It looks as if Cameron is going the same way.

  34. Douglas Crafford
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    John, there are two reasons John and Jill Bull will no longer vote Conservative (and why it is a dying party):

    1) Theresa May’s difining of the party as “nasty”. This is the sort of handle that sticks – and people will not want to be associated with a nasty organisation;

    2) It has not, since Heath (except for Maggie, who was “let in to leadership” through those in control being off-guard) been conservative, having been infiltrated by Fabian Society values through the Oxford connection.

    Consider your future John. Carefully.

  35. Jon
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    The divisions within the Conservative party reflect the debate that the electorate is having. I hope the exec don’t throw that away!!

  36. libertarian
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    The Conservative Party is dead and buried, Its had its day and is now in the same category as all the other big failures bought down by failure to listen to their customers ( members/voters) by failure to adapt to the zeitgeist by failure to innovate and to engage.

    Interestingly Labour did do those things, succeeded temporarily until shooting themselves in the foot by letting dinosaur Unions usurp them again.

    The Lib Dems are just a complete bunch of wasters and always have been.

    Wouldn’t like to speculate on who that leaves

  37. matthu
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Iain dale asks on his blog:

    Cameron has a cabinet and a parliamentary party which are both deeply divided on the issue. At a guess I’d say both would be 70-30 or 60-40 against arming the Syrian rebels. Cameron must know that, so why on earth is he, at every opportunity, seeming to talk up the prospect? He has already committed himself to holding a parliamentary vote before any such decision is taken. We already know that Labour and the LibDems would vote against any such arming, so how does he think he could ever get a parliamentary majority?

    It’s a bit of a mystery.

    One might also ask, why has David Cameron suddenly signed up to nearly a third of a series of European policing and criminal justice measures that have been heavily criticised by backbenchers?

    Or why has David Cameron suddenly decided the time is right for britain to relax the rules on genetically modified crops?

    Why these sudden signs of apparent suicidal intent? Why go to such efforts to rile his backbenchers?

    Has he been got at by lobbyists? Are they all the result of his attendance at the recent Bilderberg meeting?

    Who is he appeasing by continually talking tough on Syria? By signing up to more EU control? By seemingly opening the door to GM crops?

    Reply He has not suddenly signed up to a thrid of Criminal Justice measures. We are debating the mass opt out from these measures.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Conservatives need to be united on their negotiating position for the new relationship sought with the EU, and that negotiating position needs to be written into the Party’s 2015 manifesto, including any red lines. In order to give the electorate a clear cut choice, any would be Conservative candidates who refuse to sign up to those red lines should be deselected.

    My red lines are that we should be no longer commit to ever closer Union and that our Acts of Accession to the federalist Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon should be repealed. If those are the red lines of the Conservative Party, then the repeals may as well be implemented on day one of taking office.

  39. Martyn G
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    It’s all about party leadership, is it not? The party needs a leader whose personal qualities such as presence, honesty, superior knowledge, experience, integrity, trustworthiness, competence, incisiveness and concern for others combine to inspire trust in people, even when the leader has to sacrifice, if necessary, a minority for the good of the whole.
    There is little to suggest that any of the current political leaders, either individually or collectively, have those qualities we instinctively expect of them, hence our lack of trust them; many in fact appear to be in place via political maneuvering where leadership qualities have little to do with climbing the greasy pole of politics.
    It goes further than party politics, because our instinctive mistrust of both UK party and EU leaders stems from seeing that they seem always to be working to separate we, the voters, from having any real influence in our governance. This type of leadership, in effect a form of benign dictatorship, cannot be sustained for ever and at some point real leaders will appear on the political stage, perhaps brought about by external forces over which the current lot has no control. I look forward to that day and meanwhile, as a third generation Conservative voter, will not be voting Conservative again any day soon.

  40. lojolondon
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Blame the Biased BBC, John. The BBC used to be impartial, but felt that Labour was no match for Lady Thatcher, and since then they have appointed themselves as the official opposition. Labour is delighted, and the wets running the Conservative party have continuously hidden behind the pretence that the BBC is impartial to avoid tackling this propaganda machine.

  41. Faustiesblog
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I’d wager that those who spout the line that unity is essential, wish to curtail dissent within their parties, so that they can push through unpopular measures. This tactic only succeeds if the party is populated by the gullible, those who are happy to have GCHQ do their thinking for them and by those who put ambition before country.

    Bush’s “Either you’re with us, or against us” line is a warning frequently adopted by Cameron, in various guises. It aims to demonise those with differing views and create taboos.

    Taboos are powerful self-censoring mechanisms for those who lack courage.

    Cameron’s is the politics of fear and divide and conquer.

  42. Eric McGonagle
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    John, get busy sorting out the green energy policy bestowed on us by Millitwat and perpetuated by Huhne and now Davey, exposing this charade and putting money back into ordinary peoples pockets will earn you many brownie points and you won’t have to resort to the impossible task you have set above.

  43. NickW
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The problem is that “Not having an argument” is not news and will not sell newspapers or attract viewers.

    Successful media management requires that the media monster is given a regular diet of palatable morsels which will be sufficient to curb the mischievous speculation that fills a “No news” vacuum.

    I actually agree completely with Clegg about paying benefits to wealthy people who do not need them. Politicians should be careful not to use force to persuade people to do something they might be willing to do voluntarily. Make it easy, simple, and rewarding for people to relinquish benefits they do not need. The only necessary reward might be to make people feel good about it.

    In the same vein, make it easy and acceptable for people to make a voluntary contribution in some form towards free treatment on the NHS.

  44. burkeian
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we can trust Cameron on the EU Referendum. Regrettably he has form – and ‘ cast-iron’ will be engraved on his political tomb. There is absolutely no way in which we can reclaim meaningful sovereignty from the EU by neg0tiation. Everyone knows this but the pretence is maintained. Even if a referendum were actually to happen ( in the extemely unlikely event of a Conservative victory in 2015 ), Cameron has made it clear that he would fight against our exit.
    He has already , of course, lost hundreds of thousands of votes by his personally crass , undemocratic and irreparably damaging actions over the destruction of real marriage. Just as homosexual ‘ marriage’ would be irreversible , so will be the loss of those votes. Just in passing, it is amazing how analysts mange to ignore this issue in their blogs !

  45. burkeian
    Posted June 17, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I wonder where my earlier contribution has gone . Has it been eliminated ?

  • 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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