In a democracy you spend a lot of time representing and helping the opposition

 

            Much of my work as a government Minister was spent dealing with the issues arising in areas of the country dominated by Labour MPs and Councils. These areas attracted the largest sums of money in public spending, looked to government much more for the answers to their social and economic problems, and expected a good service from Ministers. 

             Ministers are in office to serve the whole country. They are there  to reach judgements in the national interest. If areas controlled by the opposition need more help, it is the Minister’s job to give it, or to discuss better ways of solving the problems. Democracy only works where the majority understand their duty to the minorities, and where the minorities accept the need to oppose in democratic ways.

            It is the same for an individual MP. You campaign as a party representative, but you do the job seeking to represent all and to understand those who disagree with you as well as those who support you.  I do not try to find out how people vote before taking up their cause or looking into their case. 53% voted Conservative in Wokingham in 2010, but that does not mean I can or should ignore the views of the 47% or regard all that they say and do which is different to my view as wrong.

                I would guess from the emails and letters I receive that I spend far more of my time dealing with the views and queries of those who do not vote Conservative, than with those who do. Many of the people who write in on policy issues write from a UKIP, Green or Lib Dem viewpoint on a range of issues, and some write in regularly on issue after issue.  I do not tell them I will not deal with their points because   UKIP only got 3% and the Greens 1% at the last Wokingham General Election . People who back single issue parties, or parties that are associated with single issues, are often more vocal and persistent than the majority. They sometimes raise difficult and important matters which MPs need to tackle.

             Indeed, I sometimes have sympathy with what UKIP are saying and am trying to secure a referendum on the EU which is one of their demands as well. I have sympathy with the Greens when they are seeking to defend great countryside from inappropriate development or have good ideas for reducing the use and therefore the cost of energy.

          It is a sign of a flourishing democracy that those elected regard it as their duty to represent those they disagree with. Government needs to lead, to argue, to convince, to impart a sense of direction. But it also needs to be able to compromise, to understand the other viewpoint, and to make timely concessions that are welcomed but do not derail its strategy. Getting the right balance between strategic direction and tactical accommodation is the art of elected politics.

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103 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    “I have sympathy with the Greens when they are seeking to defend the countryside from inappropriate development or have good ideas for reducing the use and therefore the costs of energy.”

    I too might well have sympathy, but the greens virtually never do have any good ideas for reducing energy and are actively engaged in destroying the countryside with useless wind farms.

    There main characteristic is a total failure to understand the economics, physics and engineering of energy systems and a “renewable”, trains, buses and bikes good anything else bad religion, this totally regardless of the basic science. Combined with half witted and often illegal, actions and protests and a total hypocrisy on behalf of most of them, in the “do as I say not as I do Prince Charles mode”.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      This is hardly surprising as the Greens and Libdems are merely seeking for votes on green issues from voters. Voters who (rather like themselves, Labour, the BBC and even some Tories it seems) usually do not have a clue on engineering or the economics of energy production or storage.

      Voter and PPE graduates it seems just like the sound of pleasant sounding, but largely meaningless terms, such “renewable”, “sustainable”, “environmental”, “nice”, “pleasant”, “clean” and the negative ones use for nuclear and co2, such as “dirty”, “unsustainable”, “carbon pollution”, “radio active waste”.

      The propaganda and bias even fills the school and exam syllabuses. Get them when they are too young to question, as most religions do.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        People want sustainable and clean energy and society requires this abandoning all research into this is foolish and regressive. Dirty and clean is quite clear. The confusion being where the dirt is produced. Follow the carbon trail for dirt and what is there not understand about radioactive waste? Look at the nuclear fiasco sill going on and the cover ups still trying to be done in Japan. The propaganda lies with the state on this nuclear disaster as all evince show this. Who is going to pay for this? The private sector? Your own lies and propaganda is only believed by yourself and other fatasists.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          Nothing dirty about Carbon Dioxide, it is harmless plant food and breathed out by everyone in each and every breath.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Read my post again and try to understand. Carbon dioxide like many other gasses in massive quantities or percentages are harmful in various conditions. Your childish argument does not wash. Would you be worried if oxygen or argon in high levels were present in a room and tell us that both are pure safe and harmless?

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 22, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            @Bazman

            CO2 concentrations have gone up from about 300 part per million to about 400 ppm it is not a real problem. Furthermore for the past 14 years there has been no significant warming at all, this despite the recent co2 increases and the projections of the doom mongers. Countless other things affect the climate other than CO2 and we cannot control many of them anyway, the sun, volcanoes, asteroid impacts, plant life, animal life, clouds, countless feedback mechanisms and other random events.

            It is a chaotic systems where the future climate is affected by today’s and tomorrows climate. Neither you not I, nor the BBC or government experts can predict the climate in 100 times. The government PR “science experts” have been very wrong for the past 15 years, let alone in 100 years time. Predicting the outcome and all the ball positions throughout a full game of snooker is a far easier task why do the experts not try that first then move on to predicting the weather in a weeks time? If they can do that then perhaps they can move on.

            Do the “government experts” know all the inventions, the changes in plant DNA, the volcanic activity, and the suns activity for the next 100 years? If not the experts should shut up as they do not even have the input information.

            The Met Office’s temperature forecasts issued in 12 out of the last 13 years have been too warm. None of the forecasts issued ended up too cold. Far worse than just guessing the same as last years for all their expensive computers, “experts” and algorithms. They are a warmist PR outfit like Cameron it seems.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            As pointed out to you before it it is fatalistic to say that human CO2 output has no effect and and if it does then nothing can be done. Putting billions of tonnes into the atmosphere will have no effect? You have also failed to address my main point of dirty fuels and pollution from them which you think can just be allowed to continue without any consequences in the long and short term to human health?

          • Bazman
            Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Yellow?

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

        I had a small extension last year , which has left me with a not particularly good looking roof, yet perfectly placed for 6-8 solar panels. Could anybody advise me about the cost?

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          Do not bother, it is a hassle & a waste of money even with the absurd subsidy. They will need cleaning and some maintenance, costs which may well exceed the value of the electricity produced anyway over their lifetime.

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Getting the right balance does involve a significant amount of compromise and the most difficult undertaking is to project an understanding of the minority governing/ majority responsibilities. I don’t fully agree with you as I expect everyone to behave in an independently responsible and fair manner and understand that the role that they play is important as the next fellows. It is perceptual who is in a more productive , managerial or position of service, despite the false categorisations we tend to impose upon ourselves. A hypothetical example of this is a person who excels at his/her job with knowledge to match and another who has gone through ‘the system’ and qualified for such a position and has little experience yet has not reached the same acumen , but paid a lot more. Who is the master and who is the learner here? yet many who are in positions of responsibility and comprise the minority are the learners.
    I call for individual responsibility , but on my travels I realise that there are those who are incapable , due to social limitations, etcetera and should the majority of these begin to enforce their will then the anarchy would be unreasoned chaos. Tony Blairs’ calling for education, education ,education , was a good one , but there is something deeper that is required other than reading and gaining good grades at university and those who do have these gifts, which are difficult to define, are often over ruled by the belligerent.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    What a splendid attitude! Very well written!

    A lot of the trouble is that the Westminster people (of all parties) seem to be coming away from the rest of the country, North and South and the divide does make your tasks much harder.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Mike–You are so right about the difference between what you call “the Westminster people” and the rest of us. Unfortunately, John does not draw distinction between the Opposition and those gulled in to voting for them. The latter must be helped of course, but for my money this present Opposition are a rabble who deserve no mercy. Did you hear that Shadow Minister the other day seeking to compare the growth in the last four years of the last Government with the of course lack of growth more recently? He seemed to have no realisation that any household can spend like mad by increasing its mortgage each year but very much not indefinitely. This is not difficult stuff. Soon I’ll be veering away even from Free Speech as well as elections. In times gone by he would have had his head chopped off for talking such bilge and lying to people or at the least misleading them by his stupidity.

      Reply He would also have to ignore the biggest recession since WW2 in 2008-9.

    • Sue
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree. MP’s are stuck in the middle. MP’s are not necessarily the problem. Its the “unelected” that have taken over the asylum.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Considering minority views, yes, but representing them?
    Now that all ( 🙂 ) Green MPs in your parliament have been arrested, would you consider representing people’s concerns about fracking even more? I somehow doubt it.
    All the same it is laudable to aspire considering the views of those who disagree with you.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Under our system anybody can get arrested if there is sufficient evidence that they have committed a criminal offence, such as deliberately obstructing others from going about their lawful business and refusing to comply with police instructions to desist, and MPs have no immunity in that regard even if some may wrongly assume that their beliefs place them above the law.

      Maybe it’s different in your country.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Hi Denis, no it’s not different over here. My teasing was that with 1 MP all the Green MPs had been arrested, whereas in a normal democracy the Greens would have had 45 seats (7%) and UKIP 110 MPs (17%). But I know you just love your system and I don’t want to be too critical or off-topic today. I wish Caroline Lucas well, she has achieved some media coverage this way. Some other British do it by hurling abuse in the European Parliament.

        Reply The Greens and UKIP did not get those larger percentages in the 2010 election. They were both below the 5% German threshold for any seats.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          The threshold is lower in the Netherlands, more like 1% or 2%. But at least Caroline Lucas was elected through votes cast for Caroline Lucas in the Brighton Pavilion constituency, rather than through votes cast for the Green Party under a vile party list system.

          Reply Indeed- it is an example of how our FPTP system can give a minor party an MP which they would not have enjoyed on some PR systems

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            Indeed but FPTP only really works for a few regional minority parties with strong support in certain areas. It is very hard for parties with an even support across the nations to break through the old brand loyalties to Labour and Tory.

        • James Matthews
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          Worryingly, I have to support Peter Van Leeuwen about something. I think I am right in saying that he is Dutch, not German, and that under the Netherlands system you get one of the 150 seats if you get 150th of the votes. An admirably fair and straightforward arrangement. The German system was of course constructed with a view to excluding parties of the “far” right or left.

          Even if you take the German system as a yardstick it tells you nothing about likely UKIP or Green representation under a proportional representation system. Under our iniquitous first past the post system the electorate is aware that a vote for either will almost certainly be wasted and therefore many who would otherwise support them vote for whichever of the larger parties they regard as the least bad. Votes in European elections would be a more realistic guide.

          Reply Simply not true. Millions cast votes in UK General Elections for candidates who have no realistic chance of being elected in their chosen seat.In 2010 919,000 voted UKIP (no seats) 564,000 voted BNP (no seats) and 65,000 voted English democrats (no seats) whilst millions voted Conservative and Labour in seats those parties never win.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

            Your example of Holland’s election system does sound fair James, but would I know at the point I cast my vote exactly who would end up my local representative and would I have any idea what policies of the party I was voting for would be?
            Considering these systems nearly always result in a complex coalition where one party with just a few MP’s can end up calling all the shots I don’t feel they give the voter a better outcome.

          • James Matthews
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            Reply to Reply.

            I am afraid it is true . Your figures do not refute it.. I said that “many” (not all) are deterred from voting for parties they would otherwise support. It is common sense that this happens and anecdotally I know of many who have been so deterred, including myself. All the major parties use the “wasted vote” argument (as have you, in relation to UKIP) either generally, or in some constituencies, so clearly they believe it works on some people. They are right.

            You don’t think common sense and anecdote are good enough? Well we also have the comparison between how people vote in General Elections and how they vote in elections to the European Parliament. Sadly, because the system for European elections is self-evidently fairer, these give a truer reflection of the will of the electorate.

          • Mike Wilson
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

            Re. the reply. It is true because millions of us troop off to the polling station to vote for someone we know will never be our MP because our forefathers died to get us the vote and we won’t not use it.

            Your unfair, undemocratic system is indefensible yet you find endless ways to defend it.

            I’d like to see how many people would vote Conservative or Labour under a PR system. If people thought their vote actually counted they would vote for the party they most believed in.

            Many people who vote Conservative do so because they don’t want Labour. And vice versa. The system stinks and is indefensible. As for your patronising comment about FPTP generously giving a ‘minor’ party an MP – well that is one to make the blood boil. Under a PR system you might get 8% voting for parties with green agendas and maybe 12% for your lot. They are only minor because of the system that favours your party. There is nothing inherently good about it.

            Reply In the last 3 PR European elections more people chose to vote Conservative than for any other party

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            I agree with Edward2. In 2010 two parties got their official candidates elected on national manifestos, and immediately afterwards the party bosses decided which parts of those manifestos would be dumped in order to form a coalition government. I don’t like that, and nor do I like the way that since then one party has kept blaming the other for blocking it from doing what it really wants to do, when there are strong suspicions that the bosses of that first party didn’t really want to do some of those things anyway and they actively welcome the constraints of coalition government to defeat the wishes of its members and supporters. Nor do I like any electoral system where votes are cast for a party rather than for a person, a named individual candidate, a citizen who can be judged on his own individual merits and demerits by his fellow citizens, not just somebody appointed by the party to fill a seat and speak and vote as directed by the party bosses and who can later be replaced by somebody else entirely at their behest without any reference back to the electors. The problem is that even with STV, the British form of PR which is actually used for electing MEPs in Northern Ireland, you need to have large multi-member constituencies to give minority views anything like fair representation, and then the psychological link between the electors and the elected is inevitably weakened and the latter become increasingly detached from those they are supposed to represent. There is a partial solution to this conundrum for the UK Parliament, a simple and workable solution which would make a proper use of the second chamber rather than allowing party bosses to fill it with unelected and unaccountable legislators-for-life, but it is an innovative solution which is not welcomed either by those who prefer their own party to still have a chance of forming an elected dictatorship through FPTP (both the Tory and Labour parties) or those who are wedded to conventional forms of PR (the LibDems).

            Reply In our FPTP system you do vote for named individuals, who may or may not belong to parties. 2 independent candidates of no named party stood against me in 2010.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            Mike, people decide who to give their vote to for many different reasons, but one of them is the system under which the election is run. Arguments for PR instead of FPTP always assume everyone would vote in exactly the same way under PR as they do under FPTP.
            But if presented with different rules they would alter their voting tactics and the outcome could be very different and perhaps different to the one you envisage.

            If people really liked their local independent candidate or their local Green party candidate enough, then they could vote them in. No one stops them, they don’t have to vote for the current two main parties for evermore.
            One can only assume that the voters are happy with the main parties otherwise they would vote very differently.

            I think you misunderstood my comment about “minor” parties power.
            What I was referring to was the recurring problem in countries using PR where just one or two MP’s from minor parties are able to force a coalition to adopt policies that only a very few per cent of the population have voted for in order to get a Government formed.
            I don’t see this common outcome of PR as very “fair” nor “more democratic”

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

            @Edward2. Having more than 40 years experience with the results of absolute PR elections, I can probably aliviate your concerns: Finding a local representative is easy but most policies debated in parliament are national and international ones, so for any lobbying I get in contact with the MP in the party of my choice who has this topic in his portfolio, usually by email. Policies any representative defends are rather clear because of the party programs. The influence of very small parties on government policies does exist (fortunately! We’re talking democracy here) but this influence is limited and temporary. For instance, a delay of Sunday-shopping in some areas for a few years, re-visiting and improving of euthanasia legislation, support for special schools. Such concessions are like small change for the period of one government. Consensus building and compromise is part of any coalition government and a good protection against extreme policies.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply: Due to the FPTP system the treshold is much much higher than 5% and voters know that in advance. In which constituency could an MP win by scoring marginally higher than 5% ? The lack of proportionality causes almost all voters to go for parties which have a real chance at the constituency level. IMHO that is the reason that the Green party is much weaker in the UK than on the continent and also why there is a higher proportion of anti-EU MPs in the Netherlands than in the UK.

          Reply That simply is not true. Millions of votes go to parties and candidates that are most unlikely to win in FPTP elections. Many people vote for what they really want, whatever the odds.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            Reply to reply to reply: It is certainly an interesting disagreement and I’m not arguing that many people in utterly safe seats will still vote for a losing candidate. What I cannot explain though is that even taking Belgium, France and Germany, the proportion of Green seats held in their parliaments is between 20x and 70x the proportion of Green seats in the H.o.C. looking at figures published in wiki sites. Are public opinions so far apart?

            Reply Yes they are. The UK has a much larger Eurosceptic vote than the continent, owing to its different history and geography.

          • JimF
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            RTR: But you wouldn’t count yourself amongst those, would you?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            Well, I have a lot of sympathy for Peter’s view. On the other hand I’m also strongly in favour of our traditional system based on relatively small geographic constituencies.

            Most people in Wokingham will know the name of their MP but if asked to name their MEPs I guess that many would not be able to name even one, and only a very small minority would be able to correctly name all ten. Some might even name Caroline Lucas as being one of them, not having noticed that she preferred to become an MP and so her seat in the EU assembly was simply handed on to another member of the Green party without in any way consulting the 6.2 million electors in her constituency.

            Incidentally I find that Caroline Lucas is one of those MPs who doesn’t want to reply to any communications from people outside her constituency. Of course I understand the practicalities of an MP having to reply to numerous letters and emails, but as she has no reservations when it comes to putting herself about on the national stage and getting herself arrested at a protest site nowhere near her own constituency this does seem a little hypocritical.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

            “The UK has a much larger Eurosceptic vote than the continent, owing to its different history and geography.”
            How come that while UKIP has zero seats in the H.o.C. , its closest resembling party in the Netherlands, even after losing heavily in the 2012 elections, sill holds 10% of the seats in the Dutch parliament.

            ( from wikipedia:The Dutch Freedom party is consistently Eurosceptic and since early July 2012, according to its then presented program for the elections a few months later on September 12, even strongly advocating withdrawal from the EU. )

            Reply The Conservative vote is a Eurosceptic vote!

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: I don’t know the Scottisch election system in detail, but it seems to me that they succeed in striking a balance between increased proportionality and constituency based MPs.
            Might it not provide a way forward for the rest of the UK?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            No, Peter, there have been complaints in Scotland that the additional members appointed by the parties only represent their parties and float free from any censure by electors as they represent none. While your perspective gives parties a central position in the electoral system, mine is based on persons, individual human beings, citizens who wish to be elected as representatives of their fellow citizens rather than as representatives of one political gang or another.

        • sjb
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          @JR’s reply
          Peter’s share of the vote figures come from the 2009 European Elections. I think his argument is that had the GE the following year also been been held under PR then the House of Commons, which after all is supposed to be representative of the electorate, would probably have seen significant numbers of Green and UKIP MPs returned.

  5. Acorn
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Hold the front page!!!
    “Redwood ready to jump to UKIP” (Daily Maul).
    “Have sympathy with what UKIP are saying”: is Redwood ready to switch party.(Independent).
    “Redwood in Romney style “47 Percent” gaffe. (Grauniad)
    “Rebel Redwood storm in a D cup” says Page 3 Kate (23) 38-26-38 (Current Bun).

    Morning all, have a nice day 😉 😉 😉

    Reply The cited newspapers are much more sensible than the headlines you write for them. I have no plans to switch party.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      John, I believe Acorn was exaggerating for comedy effect. Quite successfully 🙂

      Reply You don’t say!

    • ian wragg
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Why not John. You must despair at Cameroon and his liberal left wing policies. Don’t tell me it’s because you’re in coalition, that’s what Cameron fought for.
      Your party has not a snowball in hells chance of winning the next election and you know it.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Why not? Well surely because he can clearly do far more where he is, in the admittedly dreadful Tory party. There is far more chance of it changing tack than there is of ever having a UKIP majority at Westminster. There is too much political inertia about and the Tory brand still has some value, despite Cameron’s best efforts to destroy it.

  6. Cliff. Wokingham
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    In a democracy John, if someone is an elected representitive of the people and sits in the House of Commons and they then go out on the street and commit an offence, whilst protesting about something which, the state has deemed to be for the good of the people and country and is legal, is that person really a supporter of democracy and should they still be able to sit in the house? What message does that send to the people? Does it say that you only need to be democratic whilst the majority agree with your views otherwise, you can do what you like to push your views onto others? Would you take to the streets and get aressted when you disagree with the result of the democratic process? I would be interested in your views John.

    Reply No I would not go onto the streets and commit an offence in order to get more publicity,nor would I ignore warnings if asked to desist from certain conduct by the police. An MP is under the same law as everyone else, with the privilege that we can change the law for the future if enough of us wish to do so.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Thanks John for the reply.

      I agree that it is wrong to put ones own opinions and beliefs above the will of parliament and, in my opinion, to do so is anti democratic.

      I suspect that you and the vast majority of people, including myself, abide by the law and act within its confines, even though we may personally dislike or disagree with a law. I do feel though, that at this present time in our country, top politicians take too much notice of and are too influenced by, shouty media and single issue groups and that, in my opinion, is anti democratic too. I often hear media report that something has generated outrage or is contoversial but, who has been outraged and who thinks it is controversial? Often, in my view, it is just the media trying to make and drive the news for their own agendas, rather than just reporting it. It is also my view that when a PM or other senior politicians implements knee jerk policies to satisfy the media created outcry or has semi secret meetings with celebs etc, that too is anti democratic and undermines our entire democracy.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Well, there is also parliamentary privilege, the boundaries of which are unclear.

      It certainly includes an exceptional degree of freedom of speech in Parliament, but just as certainly it does not include the freedom to commit fraud, as certain MP’s tried to argue.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      The state has done many things throughout history, such as the enclosure of common land, that is completely undemocratic. Should that not be protested against?

      How about the annual charade of appointing sycophants, lickspittles, donors and lobbyists to the House of Lords? Is that okay? Not right to object or protest about it because it is done by a ‘democratic’ government?

      Democracy is not a black and white word. It is a word with many shades of meaning. And one of them must be the right to peaceful protest (sitting in a road, linking arms is a peaceful protest in my opinion) against something the government of the day, in its FINITE wisdom, has decided should be done against the wishes of the majority of the people it affects.

      Fracking in Balcombe does not affect me. But if the majority of people in Balcombe do not want fracking, I don’t expect them to have to put up with it because I want the gas to heat my home a hundred miles away.

      Reply They are drilling at Balcombe. They do not have a fracking licence. The local Village has made clear it did not support the style of protest.

      • Cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Mike,

        Many thanks for your considered reply.

        I DO support the right to peaceful protest however, with that right, comes a duty.
        When does a protest cease to be peaceful?…Does it allow people to break the law or some element of the law? Is blocking the highway, which is a criminal offence, a peaceful protest? Would breaking a fence to invade a site be a legitimate protest? Would a mass invasion of a corporate HQ be deemed to be peaceful? Would those present at the time feel fear for their own safety? If someone is sat illegally in the road and is asked to move on by a police officer and then refuses to move on, is that truly peaceful? If locals cannot use that road due to the actions of some protesters and the local police, is that a justifiable protest……I agree, it is not black and white. We need a balance to be struck between rights and duties. For the record, I personally feel the state has far too much power and often uses that power for purposes that they were not intended to be used for.

        Regarding your example about past rights to protest: Had you said about the state ignoring protests and the majority view regarding recent wars or silencing people through so called thought crime legislation, then I would have concured with your thoughts however, when the enclosure act came into being, we did not really have a democracy at all because so few people had the right to vote…..Only landowners had the right to vote and no women had a vote; not exactly a democracy, not even compared to the limited democracy we have today.

        Although I did not mention the green party MP, I did have her in mind when I asked the questions of John. My main point was whether it was right for a person, who sits as a law maker in our parliament, to go out and break the law to further a political agenda? If we deny the right to vote for all prisoners; rightly so in my opinion, should we allow those that wilfully commit criminal offences, to sit in a position to make laws for those of us that are law abiding?

        I do protest through the proper channels; our host is my MP and I will take the time to write to him to voice my opinions and to say when I feel his leader is acting against, what I consider to be, our country’s interests. I am a lifelong Conservative supporter but, I feel unable to identify with the current leader and his party; my Conservatism is almost identical to that of our host and I have written to him a few times about how I can vote for him, who is a good, hard working local MP, without by implication, backing Mr Cameron and his strange and alien version of Conservatism.
        I know that no one party will adopt policies that everyone will back and we all have to balance what we are looking for; I feel it is akin sometimes to deciding whether to be hung or shot! If a party goes too far away from what it’s core supporters want, then that party will loose support and that has happened to all the main parties as they fight of the so called center ground.
        If the majority of people really supported the version of socialism the geen party represents, they would be in government, but they don’t and therefore the green party are not in government. That is the nature of democracy and whilst we live here in the UK, we have to put up with it, and accept it’s warts and it’s shortcomings; the alternatives are too scary to even contemplate.

        Regarding the House of Lords, I agree with you; it does appear to be used as a kind of reward for services rendered by the main parties or to give a voice to single issue, shouty people the party leaders want to appease.

        • sjb
          Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          Cliff asks: “Is blocking the highway, which is a criminal offence, a peaceful protest?”

          Yes, it has been held that the right to freedom of assembly (Art 11 ECHR) includes sit-down protests on the public highway even if it causes traffic disruption: see G v Germany, App. No. 13079/87, 60 DR 256.

          May I remind contributors that Ms Lucas has not even been charged yet, let alone convicted.

          • sjb
            Posted April 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            I am sure you will be pleased to know that Caroline Lucas was today (17 April 2014) acquitted of both charges: wilful obstruction of a public highway and breaching an order under s14 Public Order Act.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        The local village has made it clear they don’t want drilling or fracking in their village. Drilling first. Find the gas. Then apply for the fracking licence. As sure as night follows day. No point drilling a well to get at the gas within 2 feet of the bore.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 21, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          It’s a difficult balance to strike, but we are supposedly a nation not the inhabitants of independent sovereign villages which happen to be located close together on the same piece of the earth’s surface, and there are some matters of national importance which have to be decided by the national government even if in certain cases that may mean over-riding local opposition. Otherwise for example we could have had villagers vetoing the establishment of RAF bases in their localities, and others vetoing the establishment of naval bases, and others saying they won’t allow cruise missiles to be based near them, and we might now be enjoying democracy as practised by the Nazis or the Soviet communists. Of course there is a small minority of eurofederalists who would prefer such decisions to be taken by the transnational EU, not by the national UK government, but we can be quite sure that they would be taken somewhere and that it would not be in the villages.

  7. lifelogic
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile we have ministers at war it seems in the Telegraph. Do we really need anymore evidence that Ed Davey is totally unsuitable for his current (or indeed any) government position. We do not want energy production controlled by high priests of the green religion but by decent engineers. Cambridge and other solid engineers not Oxford PPEs please. He is so bad he almost makes Vince Cable look like a good appointment. When if ever will Cameron act?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/10253462/Ministers-at-war-over-secret-wind-farm-evidence.html

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Just what is this government’s “strategy”. It seems to me that Cameron’s strategy is to do all he can to keep himself in No 10 and, in line with Clegg and Miliband, to keep this country subservient to the EU. Some of us naively believed the promises before the last election to eliminate the structural deficit by 2015 and start paying down the debt. This was quickly jettisoned to such an extent that no politician, including you, now ever mentions what was the paramount problem at the end of the Brown regime. The Taxpayers’ Alliance debt clock is showing the government debt to be now £1,209 billion and, of course, as I keep saying, rising inexorably. Do you really think that just ignoring these unpalatable facts will help your party win the next election?

    Reply I do not ignore it. I ran another piece this week on cutting spending, which is something I would do in the ways described. The debt is, of course, less than stated given that the authorities have bought up £375bn of it.

    • zorro
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply – As I mentioned in the previous blog, that is the benefit for government (I hasten to add government) of QE. They are able to fund their deficit spending whilst nominally shrinking it by ‘buying it’.

      zorro

      • zorro
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        How much more debt will they ‘buy up’…? Is this a case of more (buying up) for less (debt)?

        zorro

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Thanks for replying but you still avoid the issue. What is the deficit? When will it be eliminated? The BoE created £375bn out of the ether and we are supposed to think that is a good thing? If it is such a good idea why don’t they eliminate the debt completely with more created money? I’m sorry but this kind of manipulation makes me more, not less, concerned.

    • ian wragg
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      You really think we are that stupid John. Give us a break. Who are the authorities and from where did they get the £375 million. Really.

      Reply I describe the world as it is. The authorities did create £375 bn and bought in their own bonds. That means they no longer owe that £375bn to outside investors.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      “The debt is, of course, less than stated given that the authorities have bought up £375bn of it.”

      To clarify that, one arm of the UK state, the Bank of England, has created £375 billion and indirectly lent it to another arm of the UK state, the government.

      The Labour government needed the Bank to agree to do that, because its reckless profligacy had led to the situation where it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending, and it was running out of anybody else who would be prepared to keep lending it more and more money to fund its budget deficit.

      And the Bank had to lend the money to the government “indirectly”, firstly because Article 123 TFEU in the EU treaties, originally inserted through Major’s Maastricht Treaty on European Union, very clearly prohibited the Bank from directly lending money to the government, and secondly because doing it directly would have been too transparent and what was being done would have been too readily understood by the general population.

      But the key word is still “lent”, not “given”, and not only does every gilt now held by the Bank say that the Treasury has promised to repay money to its owner, now the Bank, but also right at the start Darling promised the Bank that the Treasury would make good any losses suffered by the Bank.

      So the debt owed by the government has not been reduced by £375 billion through QE, it just owes part of its debt to the Bank rather than its normal lenders.

      Reply The state owns the Bank! It’s circular, not an external liability.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        But there is the £375 billion of new money created by the Bank to buy the gilts, which was put into more general circulation when the government spent it. That money is now held by numerous parties around the country and indeed the world and must surely be an “external liability” of the Bank, and it cannot just be cancelled. So it is not entirely circular.

        Reply The promsie to pay the bearer ten pounds on the face of the £10 note has no great meaning now the gold link has been dropped.It just means the Bank’s note is the same as ten pounds.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

          @Dennis Cooper – I don’t pretend to fully understand this – but this much I do know. The printed money was used to buy government debt in the secondary market. I.e. To buy bonds from existing bondholders with the idea/hope that those bondholders would use the money to buy new government debt as, let’s face it, there is not much else to invest in at the moment.

          My understanding is that most of that money is now held by the banks and has not made it into the general economy. That is one of the principal criticisms I hear directed at QE.

          Reply The aim was to get people who sold the bonds to the authorities to spend more, or buy riskier assets

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Mike – It would all have been very much clearer if the Bank of England had literally printed the money. Then having agreed to buy some previously issued gilts from, say, an insurance company, the Bank could have sent a messenger to its offices with a suitcase full of newly printed banknotes, and he could have come back with the paper gilts certificates to be stored away in the Bank’s vault. The insurance company could then have taken a few bundles of the newly printed banknotes from the top, and some days later sent its messenger with the rest of the banknotes to the Treasury’s Debt Management Office to pay for some newly issued gilts, the messenger returning with the paper certificates for those new gilts through which the Treasury had borrowed money to help bridge the government’s budget deficit. The Treasury would then have distributed those crisp new banknotes to the various government departments so they could pay all the sums due from them, including payments of state pensions and social security benefits and public sector salaries etc, and people would have soon noticed that they were getting an unusually high proportion of crisp new banknotes in their pensions paid at the post offices and in their wage packets. Then those new banknotes would have got spread around very widely when those who had first received them used them to pay their own bills, including when they paid for their groceries and other shopping. But because most of these operations are now conducted by electronic transfers it has been much easier to disguise what has been done; when an OAP looked at his bank statement there was no indication that a quarter of the state pension money credited to his account that month wouldn’t have been there if the Bank of England hadn’t recently created it and indirectly lent it to the Treasury, but that would have been the reality.

            JR – the £375 billion of new money still represents claims against the Bank, liabilities for the Bank and therefore for the UK state as a whole if not for the government.

            http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/Documents/pdf/qe-pamphlet.pdf

            “The MPC’s decision to inject money directly into the economy does not involve printing more banknotes. Instead, the Bank buys assets from private sector institutions – that could be insurance companies, pension funds, banks or non-financial firms – and credits the seller’s bank account. So the seller has more money in their bank account, while their bank holds a corresponding claim against the Bank of England (known as reserves). The end result is more money out in the wider economy.”

            And the route for it to get out into the wider economy has been for the government to borrow it and spend it.

            Reply The idea that a banknote represents a claim other than its own intrinsic value as a means of exchange in a fiction these days, as you cannot claim your pounds in gold or whatever.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      From the reply … ‘The debt is, of course, less than stated given that the authorities have bought up £375bn of it.’

      Is it me or does this sound like the most bizarre statement. As I understand it the Bank of England has printed 375, thousand, million pounds (some 0s and 1s in a computer, no doubt) and used it buy up government debt in the secondary market. Putting a floor under government bond prices and providing liquidity in that market. Mr. Redwood – is that true?

      When those bonds mature, the government of the day has to repay the bondholder. So the government of the day will have to pay the Bank of England 375 billion (assuming the debt was bought, more at less, at the issue price of the bond). At which point, presumably, the printed money will disappear from ‘the system’. Again, Mr. Redwood – is that true?

      Which, if my understanding is correct, does not mean the debt is less. It just means the government now owes the money to the Bank of England instead of investors.

      If, what you are really saying is the debt is reduced because the Bank of England printed money and bought up government debt in the secondary market – then the solution to all our woes is obvious. Buy up a couple of trillion of debt with printed money and give us each half a million to boot. Surely it cannot be that simple?

      Reply NO it is not that simple. Governments do not usually print money and get away with it.It normally results in rapid inflation, constraining them from so much money pritning. So far this has not heppened in the UK, US and Japan, because the commercial banks are unable to lend on any scale and the economies have been damaged by past recessions, limiting the inflationary pressures.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        “It just means the government now owes the money to the Bank of England instead of investors.”

        Yes, except that unlike with normal gilts investors if the Bank ends up making a profit that will go back to its owner, the Treasury, but if the Bank makes a loss the Treasury will make that good.

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Mike

        When the debt is due they will simply buy it up again, by printing even more money.
        How long this can go on, is anyones guess.
        Meanwhile inflation is being stored up, and will release itself in due course.

        No one knows when the day of reckoning will come.
        Many of us thought it may be soon, but our guess was made without the thought that you could actually get away with a policy of simply purchasing your own debt with funny money, to postpone the enevitable.

        Sound money, not in many politicians thoughts.

        You cannot run a business like this for long without being declared bankrupt, and even possibly ending up in Court for trading illegally.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Alan,
          Politicians are masters at making illegal to others what they seek to do themselves e.g. the state pension ponzi scheme. It makes you want to see them all behind bars doesn’t it?

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        JR: “the commercial banks are unable to lend on any scale ” – but you and your colleagues are always telling us the banks should be lending more. Does that mean that you want the rapid inflation that printing all this “new” money would generate? I believe that Osborne’s answer to that would be a resounding yes as he has failed to do anything but increase government debt. You know it makes be feel sick when I hear the rank hypocrisy of Cameron and Osborne telling us how wrong it is to pass debts to our children and grandchildren whilst doing just that.

        Reply MY remedy was to fix the banks to allow them to lend more so you did not need QE

  9. Roger Farmer
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Yes that is what all MPs should do, represent the constituency as a whole, not just those of their political persuasion.
    I suspect that this is where the problem has arisen in Egypt. The muslim brotherhood were democratically elected but on taking power decided to impose their doctrine on all those who did not vote for them. You see the result every day on TV. Winning an election does not bestow absolute power. Apply it at your peril.

    • zorro
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Indeed, this where they fluffed it, a lesson for all. Hitler effectively gained power through the ballot box, but he did not consider the views of minorities, he preferred to get rid of them.

      zorro

      • JimF
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        And now the problem is the reverse. Cameron and other socialists prefer to celebrate minorities beyond the reasonable recognition that to be in the majority is quite normal too.

    • peter davies
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      New Labour applied their doctrine on the whole country – I don’t remember democracy disappearing through EU treaties, the Treasury being emptied, Gold reserves being depleted, the imposition of political correctness at a whole new level, mass social engineering through uncontrolled immigration being part of their electoral literature in 97′

      At least my conscience is clear – I voted for a Tory not that there’s a fag paper’s difference between them on big issues these days.

  10. Iain Gill
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “Running the project by committee” is something frowned upon in the real world outside the public sector

  11. Vanessa
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I read today that the EU is funding the protesters against fracking. This is our money used for a cause which some people would not agree with.
    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84268
    The EU says it loves the countryside so much but this is a step too far for the EU, I think.
    JR – why does your government allow such idiotic support of causes for our hard pressed taxpayers?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Thanks for that.

      So we directly pay social security benefits to at least some of the protesters to free up their time for professional protesting, and now it turns out that we indirectly pay more to help them through the EU, and we pay for the costs of policing their protests because they have made clear their intention to commit criminal offences as they please, in the mistaken belief that their beliefs put them above the law, and later we may pay the costs of their trials and their imprisonment; and where is my MP, the Home Secretary, in all of this, when she should be making it absolutely clear that the rule of law must and will be upheld and that she will not permit a degeneration into mob rule.

      • JimF
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        I wonder whether the EU also paid the Green MPs bail funds when she was arrested? Any ideas?

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Indeed can this be true? I also wonder about the politics of the Gibraltar dispute could this perhaps be contrived or augmented to later show the UK the value of the EU one wonders? Might this help “heart and soul” Cameron?

  12. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “Indeed, I sometimes have sympathy with what UKIP are saying and am trying to secure a referendum on the EU which is one of their demands as well”

    Sometimes ? Is there a single UKIP policy you disagree with ?

    Reply They do seem to have copied quite a few of my ideas!

    • Bob
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      “They do seem to have copied quite a few of my ideas!”

      If only the Tories would do likewise!

    • peter davies
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      I find the situation with the Tories difficult – Tories are not Tories anymore, they are Blu Labour but if you vote for a party with Tory type policies you let labour in the back door which is a worse proposition.

      It seems the democratic choice we have now is voting in the least worse of the 2 choices – some democracy!

  13. Old Codger
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    We can see the result of Democracy where those democratically elected to power ignore minorities in Egypt at the moment.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    It seems that it was really a fortunate historical accident that a “loyal opposition” could emerge in Parliament, the point being that while you were opposing the policy of the Hanoverian king and his government, and frequently siding with his troublesome son against him, you certainly didn’t want the Stuarts back.

  15. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Only 53% Johnny ? – methought Wokingham was respectable !

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      ‘Johnny’? I don’t imagine Mr. Redwood has ever been called ‘Johnny’ in his life.

      Perhaps he could enlighten us?

      Reply No, I have not

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        There be always this first time !

  16. peter davies
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Very noble Mr Redwood, I won’t cite examples but I suspect this approach isn’t what MPs follow across the board.

    One thing I would say regarding your colleagues in Govt – when are they going to start listening to the electorate on issues such as wind farms and HS2? We know the treasury is skint and we know neither of these make sense environmentally or economically – they need to explain how they are viable (not the usual we are world leaders in offshore and onshore wind power drivel) or change both approaches.

    For example – if you want to blow £50 bn + then use it to upgrade local city regional links, Liverpool to Manchester, Newcastle to Middlesborough, Cardiff to Swansea etc.

    If you want to secure our energy future then get some more Nuclear capacity out there

    It appears that ministers put more weight on their obligations to the ghastly EU (which few of us want and most of the UK wants to see the back of) than those who elected them

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Yes, but what do you do with a Member of Parliament who is prepared to take ‘direct action’, a euphemism for breaking the law, just as ‘industrial action’ used to be a euphemism for industrial inaction? Caroline Lucas is such a person.

    I say that we take no account of her opinions whatsoever until she stops breaking the law.

    The European Commission is going to issue a Directive next year forcing householders to collect 5 different types of rubbish in their homes, before transfer to 5 different types of disposal systems. This is presumably in line with a ‘Green’ objective. Can you imagine any more gaga? Majorities are not protected from this type of nonsense, never mind minorities. OUT, OUT, OUT.

  18. Andy Baxter
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    “All Politics is local” someone once said and “if you don’t take an interest in politics, you should for it will take an interest in you”

    Or words to that effect but anyone reading should get my point.

    Which brings me to the comparison between the UK and let’s say Switzerland; I’ll focus on two points here one the respective constitutions and two politics.

    Constitution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (leaving aside our subservience to the EU)

    Unitary: i.e. centralised control exercised from Westminster.

    Unwritten: i.e. can and is changed to suit the needs of the ruling elite (Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011) is a great example

    Flexible: i.e. Parliament is (supposed to be) Sovereign (not the people who live here) and can and does change via legislation (making or repealing) to entrench State power (Lisbon Treaty, Maastricht treaty et al)

    Monarchical: Head of state is a hereditary monarch in whom sovereignty and supreme authority is supposed to be invested who is the font of justice and law but who is now an EU citizen, like all of us as far as Brussels is concerned.

    Switzerland:

    Federal: power and by POWER I mean REAL power to legislate, collect taxes, and determine expenditure which is devolved to Cantons and further sub divided to Communes run by local people who have the ultimate say even superseding that of the Federal Government about decisions that affect them locally.

    Written: laid down after a series of Civil Wars which invests Sovereignty in the people not a President such as the USA (who can override Congress via ‘Executive Orders’) who decide via mostly elected representatives who are held accountable locally for their decisions and also via referenda on most local and major national issues.

    Rigid: Federal Government cannot implement policy without the ‘consent’ of the people. Indeed the Federal Government is the one that ‘lobbies’ the people for consent to implement policy. Unlike the UK where lobbying is directed at the power holders in Government who can and do implement policy over the wishes of local people pursuing vested interests.

    And so we come to Politics; which is simply about one thing POWER.

    And the fundamental question here anyone reading this should be asking is “who has the POWER in the UK?” BUT more importantly “WHO should hold that power?”

    It certainly isn’t you and I labelled as ordinary Joe public, and it certainly isn’t even MP’s in Westminster who for all the bluster in Select Committees’ lack any real ability or teeth to hold ministers to account and most MP’s are (with a few exceptions) held under control via the fear and favour of the party whip system.

    Even ministers are controlled to varying degrees via whips and presidential style governance introduced under Anthony Blair.

    The fundamental point you miss in both your title and your content Mr Redwood is this:

    As a legislator Mr. Redwood it’s not about helping or representing opposition or minorities it’s about ALLOWING people of whatever political persuasion to help themselves; EMPOWERING them via true local real politics such as the Swiss allow to formulate their own policies, to collect their own taxes to spend such on what they deem are priorities for their locales and to make their own decisions, even bad ones if they so choose, for its far easier to correct a local mess than the national ones our elected representatives have created thus far!

    Representative democracy as it stands in Britain today is no longer fit for purpose. We have truly become an “elective dictatorship” as Lord Hailsham illustrated vividly in his 1976 Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

    There is only one solution:

  19. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I find the dismissive attitude to the Greens and Caroline Lucas rather irritating.

    Yes, their windmill policy is daft. But history is littered with people who wanted change for the better and who made a difference, even if they were not in power. As for saying she should know better than to break the law … was Gandhi wrong to break the law for something he believed in?

    Why isn’t there a real government initiative to insulate our homes and business properties? This should be absolute top priority. But it isn’t.

    What is our energy policy? 13 billion is being spent at the moment on a facility in France to try and crack nuclear fission (or fusion – never remember which is which). I don’t imagine they are spending this sort of money for a laugh. Surely that is where our resources should be going – into finding non carbon burning sustainable resources.

    If we put a tenth of the money into tidal and solar that will go into fracking, we’d make progress.

    What if they are right about global warming? You can’t prove they are wrong any more than they can prove they are right.

    But the anti green people are so superior and so right. Always. They know everything about the planet and know, for a fact, we can burn anything that will burn, forever, without any consequences.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Nuclear fission involves splitting atoms, nuclear fusion involves combining atoms. I suspect that in France they’re trying to do the latter.

      Regarding global warming you can prove whether it’s right or wrong by monitoring the affects man made CO2 has on the average global temperature.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        You can’t. There are too many other variables. The climate has changed dramatically throughout history without any help from man. We have no way of knowing what is causing any change that may, or may not, currently be happening.

        To me, whichever way you look at it, it just makes sense to burn less carbon. I remember what London looked like in the 1950s and the smog that was about before the Clean Air Act of (I think) 1956

    • Edward2
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Windmills are not an exclusively Green party policy Mike they are supported and heavily subsidised by all 3 main parties.
      And Im amazed you think the anti green people are so superior and so right. ..
      In my experience the Green lobby have always held their views are right and to question is heresy.
      EG the science is settled is a favourite of theirs as well as routinely labelling people as deluded or deniers of they dare to show data that contradicts their set views.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        @Edward2 – Yes, windmills are not exclusively Green – but I think it’s probably fair to say they are the result of the Green agenda. If they served any useful purpose – i.e. we could actually burn less carbon, I’d be in favour of them.

        I agree with your observation about Greens holding that their views are not to be questioned – but the same is true of their opponents. Both sides seem to take a fairly vitriolic stance.

        Personally, I just think burning less carbon makes sense – if possible and practical.

  20. Tad Davison
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m really intrigued to know how a minister, or even an MP for that matter, can help those who hold up placards denouncing democracy, and everything else this country holds dear, and wishes death to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their doctrine?

    Some would say the way forward is to educate them and turn them away from extremism. Even in the unlikely event that approach worked in all cases, it’s a gradual process so it doesn’t solve the immediate problem. Please tell me, I’m bursting to know the Tory way!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  21. Atlas
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    What can we, “the men on the Clapham Omnibus”, do if a Minister does not live up to your ideal?

    Reply Work with your local MP or media or others of like mind to persuade the Minister to do better.

  22. JimF
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the ones who write to you or write here are the ones who think and care about things. Perhaps 75% of folk really don’t give a damn who represents them, because they don’t know any different and don’t want to know any different. Many people just accept their lot in life.

    Your response to this should not be to assume that because these voters are apparently happy with the status quo, that that is their preferred option. That is very “Cameron”. Your role should be to encourage greater enfranchisement of these folk to think about the possibilities beyond their spoon-fed socialist inspired existence.

  23. Pleb
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    John, It is nice to see you writing replies, it makes reading the discussion far more interesting. Thank you.

  24. John Wrake
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Reply to Andy Baxter’s comment:

    Your contrast with Switzerland is posited on what a deceitful Civil Service has been putting about as fact, when it is largely untruthful.

    We DO have a written Constitution, not codified in one document, but set out in Magna Carta, the Charter of Liberties, the Statute of Westminster, the Coronation Oath, The Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement.

    Our Constitution was not made by Parliament, but by Constitutional Conventions of Monarchs, Lords and Representatives of the Common People, and were specifically made for all time.Ssome provisions were subsequently written into Statute Law, but they were not made by Parliament and Parliament has no right to change the Constitution.

    The claim that Parliament is Sovereign is a false claim. Sovereignty belongs to the people and to their chosen Monarch so long as the Monarch upholds his/her Coronation Oath and it is LOANED to the Monarch in Parliament for a limited period, so that the people can change their representatives if they wish ( the purpose of General Elections). Since Parliament does not own Sovereignty, it has no right to give it away.

    The ceding of the Sovereignty of this nation to the European Union by various treaties was contrary to our written Constitution, and was treason. To claim that the Queen is simply a European citizen is also treason. To claim that European Law is superior to Common Law is a lie, which succeeding parliamentarians, either through ignorance, self-interest or malice,
    have continued to accept, contrary to the needs, wishes and rights of the citizens of this country.

    It is time for the law-breaking and false claims to cease. I have no interest in which Political party a Member of Commons or Lords claims a share. It is necessary that Honourable Members return to the Rule of Law. If it cannot be done within any political party, the Member must resign the Whip and stand as an Independent, to uphold the English Constitution.

    John Wrake.

    Reply Imposing the EU and its laws over our former constitution was neither treason nor illegal. The constitutional revolution was done legally by Act of Parliament, and supported by a referendum of the British people. That is why some of us are pressing to change this sorry position by renegotiation, referendum and changes to UK Statute law, so we can again become a self governing country.

  25. uanime5
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Give all this talk of minorities and majorities I felt it necessary to point out that in the last election the Conservatives got 36.1% of the votes and 49.3% of the seats, Labour got 29% of the votes and 41.5% of the seats, and the Lib Dems got 23% of the votes and 9.1% of the seats. With results like these it’s not surprising that people might question how viable the “democratic ways” are in the UK.

    I still feel that an electoral system similar to the Additional Member System in the Scottish Parliament would be beneficial as if more accurately reflects the votes cast.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      One problem with the Scottish system Uni, is that politicians choose these additional people from their ranks after the election result to balance out the kind of anomalies the percentage figures you quoted seem to show.
      The weakness is that no citizen gets to vote or choose these adopted people and I don’t see this is very democratic.
      I would also say that voters know the rules and possible outcomes of placing their vote in the area they live, if enough of them really wanted radical change away from the 2 main parties ,they could do so by altering the way they vote, but they don’t.
      So could we deduct that in general they (the mass of voters) are content with the overall results they get?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      The UK electoral system incorporates the principle of localism. You vote for the MP in your locality. The way to approximate to fairness is to keep reviewing the Constituency boundaries. It would have been helpful if the LibDems had not vetoed the latest proposals for revisions.

  26. John Wrake
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    Yesterday, I wrote a reasoned reply to the points made by Andy Baxter in his comment on this post. It was factual, reasoned and directly related to the subject of the actions of our representatives in Parliament.

    Will you please explain why you have not allowed it to appear?

    John Wrake.

  27. John Wrake
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I now see that my reply to Andy Baxter has appeared among comments. It was not present when I first looked, hence my query. However, if I was mistaken, I apologise.

    Let me comment on your reply to what I wrote. You have written Reply: Imposing the EU and its laws over our former constitution was neither treason nor illegal. The constitutional revolution was done legally by Act of Parliament, and supported by a referendum of the British people. That is why some of us are pressing to change this sorry position by renegotiation, referendum and changes to UK Statute law, so we can again become a self governing country.

    I reiterate, because our Constitution rests on documents which were not Parliamentary documents, Parliament has no right to make changes. Though Parliament subsequently incorporated some of the terms in Statutes, it cannot interfere in the original terms by rescinding its own actions. Major parts of our written Constitution predate the existence of Parliament.

    The Referendum to which you refer took place AFTER Edward Heath had already signed the treaty by which Great Britain joined the European Economic Community. I, personally, heard Edward Heath declare that our entry entailed no loss of Sovereignty – a lie and contrary to the advice he had been given earlier. The Referendum was about membership of an economic grouping and the people of this country have never been asked for their views on membership of a European State. The signing of the Treaty was treason and it was unlawful, just as the signing of subsequent treaties have been unlawful.

    The Law to which we are all required to submit, Queen, Lords, Ministers and citizens is Common Law, which is why it is called Common. It is not the rules dreamed up by fly-by-night politicians, foreign courts, would-be reformers of our way of life.

    We do not need to struggle to recover what has been given away, for that giving-away was un-Constitutional and therefore unlawful and we are not bound by it. Our historic Constitution is the safeguard of our freedoms and it is the duty of all of us to maintain its terms.

    John Wrake.

    Reply That is not how it works. Our constitution evolves, and Parliament is the main shaper of the changes. Now, of course, the EU is the biggest influence. The British people did vote to stay in, and I want them to have a chance to change their minds.

  28. John Wrake
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I beg to differ. Parliament has no right to ‘evolve’ the Constitution, which it did not write and over which, it has no legitimate authority.

    You are correct in saying that this is not how it works at present, because Parliament has usurped authority and by outright lies, like that of Edward Heath, those who drafted and passed the Parliament Act 1911 and many others since, has gulled themselves and the electorate into thinking that all is in order.

    This nation suffered a terrible Civil War and removed the head of a Monarch who claimed to be above Common Law, Now it is not the monarch but Parliament which claims absolute authority – authority to cede our independence as a nation to a foreign power and to justify such action by passing unlawful statutes.

    The British people voted to stay in a Common Market – a trading arrangement – which treasonous ministers had assured the people had no implications for our Sovereignty. Still the lies about legitimacy continue.

    Why do you think that fewer and fewer people do their duty as citizens; fewer and fewer people support the Political Parties which have lied and prevaricated about the true state of this nation.

    Ordinary folk in this nation remember those of their families who gave their lives in two World Wars to keep the freedoms won by our ancestors, who, in their time, also fought and died in the same cause.

    Do you really think that a Parliament of any colour can ‘evolve’ us out of our heritage? It is not the people who need their minds changed.

    John Wrake.

  29. John Wrake
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    My refutation of your reply to my comment at 9.55a.m. on 21 August has not yet appeared.

    Your reply stated: Reply: That is not how it works. Our constitution evolves, and Parliament is the main shaper of the changes. Now, of course, the EU is the biggest influence. The British people did vote to stay in, and I want them to have a chance to change their minds.

    Our Constitution was specifically written to make it immune to change and Parliament has no power or right to ‘evolve’ it lawfully. Parliaments have arrogated to themselves powers they do not lawfully possess. The fact that some have attempted to change the Constitution or have mistakenly accepted those attempts, does not make the changes lawful.

    The EU has no right to influence the Constitution, since, as a foreign power, it is specifically barred.

    The British people did not opt for inclusion in a European State, but to participation in an economic community. The politicians lied then, about the significance of the 1975 referendum, just as they have lied since. It is not the people, whose minds need changing, but those who make untruthful claims and seek to deceive their neighbours. Physical damage to your neighbour, defrauding your neighbour of what is rightfully his and deceiving your neighbour are actions contrary to Common Law.

    I hope that you will feel able to reproduce this comment on your post.

    John Wrake.

    Unlawful acts, by definition, cannot make law, however often their false validity is claimed.

    Reply No court of law would uphold your view. You have to persuade the high court of Parliament to change our constitution again.

  30. John Wrake
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    Thank you for your reply to my comment made at 6.51p.m. on 21 August, in the following terms: No court of law would uphold your view. You have to persuade the high court of Parliament to change our constitution again.

    Again, I must take issue with your reply. As I stated in my comment, Unlawful acts, by definition, cannot make law, however often their false validity is claimed.

    Our current Courts, including the High Court of Parliament, which has unlawfully ceded the Sovereignty of this nation to a foreign power, in direct conflict with our written Constitution, will clearly not uphold my view, for they are and have been, acting unconstitutionally. My view, as you call it, is not simply a personal opinion. It is a statement of the terms of our written constitution, agreed by representatives of all estates of the Realm at Constitutional Conventions in the past, specifically stated to be immune to change, in order to prevent treasonous administrations from removing the safeguards to the individual’s liberty which those terms provide.
    The oft-repeated statement that no Government can bind its successor does not apply, since no Government has jurisdiction over the Constitution.

    No one is required to persuade Parliament to change the Constitution again, for Parliament is not capable of changing it while acting lawfully.

    We have had Parliaments in the past which have acted unlawfully, but recourse to our written Constitution has properly destroyed them. If the current Parliament will not return to The Rule of Law, it must suffer the same fate.

    John Wrake.

    Reply You do not understand UK constitutional law. Much of it is based in Statute passed by various Parliaments. What Parliament created, Parliament can amend or repeal. If you think we have now reached a point where courts other than Parliament are supreme, then that is bad news, as the supreme court is the ECJ. There is no court of Magna Carta, and Magna Carta is understandably silent on most of the important constitutional issues in our disputes with the EU.

  31. John Wrake
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    Thank you for your reply to my comment posted at 10.27 on 22 August, in which you wrote: You do not understand UK constitutional law. Much of it is based in Statute passed by various Parliaments. What Parliament created, Parliament can amend or repeal. If you think we have now reached a point where courts other than Parliament are supreme, then that is bad news, as the supreme court is the ECJ. There is no court of Magna Carta, and Magna Carta is understandably silent on most of the important constitutional issues in our disputes with the EU.

    I am not a Constitutional Lawyer, but I am literate and am able to read what is written in the documents which form the written parts of our Constitution. I am aware that Lord Chatham in 1777, as recorded by Hansard, named Magna Carta, the Petition of Right (1627) and the Bill of Rights (1688) as the ‘Bible of the Constitution’. Magna Carta claimed to be inviolable, set for all time and the others pre-date any Statute on subjects which they cover and make the same claim, to be binding for all time.

    I am aware that the sovereignty of the nation is embodied in the Monarch chosen by the people by acclamation AFTER the Monarch has made His/Her Coronation Oath, promising to govern according to our rights and customs and after promising to maintain the Protestant religion. I am aware that Edward Coke, the jurist who drafted the petitions that were incorporated in the Bill of Rights was no slouch when it came to English law. He it was who said the the Royal Prerogative can not be taken from the Monarch by Act of Parliament. Yet that is what Parliament has claimed, by stating that the Queen’s assent to Government Bills is now automatic.

    I am aware that the current Prime Minister and leader of your Party has, by his foolish actions over forcing through the Bill on Same Sex Marriage, committed treason against her Majesty, by putting Her in a position where she must either, fail to take the advice of Her Ministers, or break her Coronation Oath. Her position on the matter is untenable and by his action, Mr. Cameron has broken his oath of allegiance.

    I repeat, Parliament did not create the Constitution and it has no power to change the terms.
    The attempts which have been and are being made are fraudulent. Parliamentarians, as also Her Majesty and as I and every other citizen, are subject to Common Law, the foundation on which all our law is built. European Courts may pass what laws they will, but they have no relevance in this argument.

    There must be a return to the provisions and safeguards built into our Constitution by members of both Houses here, who cannot hide behind the spurious claim that the European Union prevents any change. Before we pontificate about regimes in the Middle East, or Africa or anywhere else, you and your fellow Members of Parliament must put your own House in order.

    John Wrake.

  • 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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