No put down week?

I was asked to write a supportive letter, if I agreed with the idea, to a secondary school running a No put down week. I thought it was a great idea.
I have decided to use the text as today’s blog, as some of you might like to disagree,given the way you often write about others. If only Europsceptics could learn from this idea, who knows what we might achieve together!

Dear Students,

You know how it hurts if someone says something unpleasant or untrue about you. None of us likes being put down or abused,even if it is only words.You feel the world is so unfair when it’s all lies. It’s even difficult to take if what they say has some truth in it, but you cannot help the feature or action they are attacking. So why do it to others?
I find I get more out of life if I am positive about what I can do and what others around me are doing. To me the glass is half full, not half empty. There is usually some good in everyone, and something worth our praise in what each can do.
I also find that if I am positive about the people I work with, they are likely to be more positive about me. It can be a win win. You should avoid putting people down because it is better for them. The irony is, it is usually better for you as well. If you are looking for something good in them, they will find it more difficult to keep on highlighting what they think is bad in you.
Try it. You should have a sunnier week. If it works for a week, why not make it a habit for the future? If you think I’m wrong at the end of the week, at least your friends will have enjoyed a week off your nasty comments.

Yours sincerely

John Redwood

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68 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    John Redwood MP said,

    “You should avoid putting people down . . . ”

    Does that include the Labour Party ? If so, I doubt you would have much to write about.

    Nevertheless, nice piece, spoken like a true politician.

    • Hope
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      What has JR done to stop PMQs which do not serve any purpose for the UK public, it is only a Westminster ping pong match of words while our country continues in decline because of his Tory colleagues at the helm? While parliamentary privilege used to prevent MP s from being prosecuted-written and the spoken word. It strikes me as empty words without substance or action.

  2. petermartin2001
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I’m sure most people would agree that we should be more positive. It would be good if that could be carried over to discussion about our economic circumstances too.

    One of the biggest causes for pessimism is , IMO, a misunderstanding of the nature of our national debt. It is quite sad that some old people are so concerned about it they leave large sums of money in their wills to try to pay it off.

    It should be remembered that every time we make a deposit in a bank we are putting it into debt. Does the bank manager worry in the slightest? The bank in turn uses excess reserves to buy treasury bonds and that increases the national debt. Our pension funds and insurance companies do the same thing.

    Should we refrain from saving to avoid the national debt becoming too high?
    Of course not.

    21st century capitalism has made people are richer than they have ever been previously. So why are those who claim to be in support of capitalism predicting its demise? Yes, there are problems but they are largely soluble.

    Time to be more optimistic I would say.

    PS I am not optimistic that this will be allowed through by the moderator, but we’ll see!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Legally a deposit of money with a bank is a loan to the bank, under whatever terms and conditions may apply to the account.

      But while the bank has that additional debt on its balance sheet it has the money deposited on the assets side, so its total indebtedness is not changed.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Denis,

      Yes that’s true. For every liability their is a corresponding asset. The bank has the liability to the depositor, and an asset of the money on deposit. It can then either lend out the asset or keep it in its reserves.

      As all currency, (unless it is counterfeit!) has to be created by government. The process of creating an asset/liability pair has to start with it, either when money is printed or created by keystroke. Inevitably, as we all too aware, the government ends up holding the liabilities, but we have to ask “what happens to the assets?”

      Everyone can see at least a few in their personal possession.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted November 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        I’ve just seen, too late, that I have written “their is a corresponding..” Would the moderator mind correcting that to “there is.. ” ? Tx

  3. Arschloch
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    You should send it around Parliament too!

  4. Excalibur
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    A whole week devoted to this sort of flummery, John ? You should have declined. The students would have been better employed using the week learning word perfect Harvey Keitel’s poem ‘It’s all in a State of Mind’. Saul Bellow, who grew up in the cauldron of Chicago, asserted to a journalist “There were no apologetics back then. Everything was out in the open. The absence of an idea of defamation was liberating. Nobody was immune. We took abuse in return for freedom of opinion.” Our society is less free because of these fatuous diktats.

  5. Richard1
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Great idea, although I think there should be a carve-out allowing fair put downs for those members of the blair-Brown govt who landed the country in the mess we are in.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted November 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Part of the problem with UK politics is the idea that, particularly, economic problems, are ALL the fault of government.

      It is arguable that the policies of this government are not that much different from the previous government. It seems apparent that politicians from all countries are trying to run their economies using the same macroeconomic theories and the results are not that much different in the UK, Germany and the USA if you look at figures like debt/GDP ratio, inflation, levels of unemployment etc. Not so in the rest of the Eurozone but that’s another story.

      So maybe it is time to look again at the fundamentals of economic theory? We have the Austrian School, traditional Keynsians, and now the proponents MMT are gaining ground.

      Maybe it is time to ask which might be correct?

  6. lifelogic
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Well yes but we do not want to put people down we just want to gently encourage them to point in the right direction/ This especially when they are clearly 180 degrees out on most issue and heading for the cliffs. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind it can often save lives and political parties.

    I though we were making some progress when I heard reported this morning that David Cameron wants to ‘get rid of green crap’ but it seems Downing Street says it does “not recognise” the phrase attributed to PM, and is not ditching commitments to environment.

    Whatever this vague phrase might mean, he just has to stop of the subsidies for new (and existing) wind and pv scheme now and he save money, helps the environment and gives us cheaper energy too.

    • Richard1
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      It was heartening to hear that David Cameron wants to ditch green crap. The intolerance of the environmental left is remarkable. It is very rare that anyone skeptical on ‘climate change’ is allowed on the BBC. Nigel Lawson was outnumbered 3 to 1 on a recent question time panel. Yet this is not enough for leftists who are now circulating a petition to stop any ‘deniers’ at all appearing and demanding more ‘scientists’ (meaning of course those scientists who support global warming alarmism. I doubt they would welcome prof Lindzen). Its very dangerous having the BBC funded as it is and vulnerable to political campaigns by fanatics like this.

      • Edward2
        Posted November 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        I agree with all you say Richard.
        I feel very fortunate to have been brought up by my family and through my education to believe, that there are always two sides to every argument, and that to listen to both sides, to do some research and then take time to think the arguments through before making up your mind up, is very important.
        Additionally, you need to review your opinions as new research becomes available, which crucially many do not.
        There is no monopoly on having the correct opinion.
        Sadly we seem to live in an age where powerful groups believe “the argument is settled” and I do not just mean climate change, but a number of key political issues.
        Abuse and personal attacks are heaped upon anyone who dares to counter some of the more sacred beliefs of our age.
        It would be good to see TV channels creating proper debates on the current big contentious political issues.
        It might stimulate some interest in those that currently are disinclined to vote.

        • uanime5
          Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

          How exactly is scientific research an argument? The laws of gravity have been determined by scientific study, not debates between those who believe in gravity and those who don’t.

          While there’s no monopoly on having the correct opinion that doesn’t mean all opinions are equally valid. Opinions supported by evidence are far more valid than those which lack any evidence to back them up. Ignoring all the evidence and claiming your actions are justified because of ideology is a form of ignorance, not having a different opinion.

          Finally the House of Commons and the Lords have been televised, so there already is a channel containing debate about the current big contentious political issues (along with a lot of less contentious issues).

          Reply Scientific method proceeds by thesis and challenge to that thesis – an extended debate. It is not scientific to assume that whatever a lot of scientists think today is the truth or the final answer. History tells us that well thought of theories like Newtonian mechanics are in their turn improved or overthrown by better theories like quantum mechanics. There was once a very real debate between an establishment science which knew the earth was the centre of the universe, and rebels who thought the earth went round the sun. When was that science “settled|”?

          • Edward2
            Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            I’m getting the feeling Uni that you are arguing just for the sake of it, in this particular post and other recent post you have made.
            Your heart doesn’t really seem into it.
            The arguments are weak and state obvious and mainly irrelevant matters.
            But if you get pleasure out of it….

          • Richard1
            Posted November 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            You are again propagating the falsehood that all the evidence is all on one side of the argument. The only definitive facts are that CO2 is a greenhouse gas which causes warming, and that mankind has had some impact on the climate. How much warming has been caused by Man, how my more there will and whether we should expect the catastrophic consequences upon which green policies are based is a matter of debate amongst experts. It is also a legitimate matter for debate as to what policy should be. Environmental leftists are attempting to suppress any debate, either into the science or into energy policy.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 23, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        I doubt they would welcome prof Lindzen? Nor should they why don’t you look this man up and get back to us. Dubious science (etc ed). The deniers always come up with him. I wonder why.

        • Edward2
          Posted November 23, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          The head of the IPCC is an ex Indian railway engineer.
          Presumably Baz, his obvious expertise on climate science is such that you believe all of his conclusions.

        • Richard1
          Posted November 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Again an example, so common on the political left, of simply insulting the person you don’t agree with, in an attempt to deny legitimate debate. We need to draw attention to remarks such as yours so people can see that environmental leftism survives only by attempting the old Marxist no platform policy- attempt to avoid debate and scrutiny. There are many scientists, prof Lindzen being one, who don’t believe in climate alarmism.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    “The glass is half full not half empty.”

    Not when it was three quarters full a few decades ago. People are anxious about the future. Not the prospective loss of wealth so much as the fact that everything we were brought up to believe in and stand for seems to be wrong and now it appears that it is WE who are considered to be the bad people and the outsiders. Lower than everyone else. Lower than criminals in fact.

    It is not we who are nasty. And if only robust language was the worst sin of the Left then we might not be visitors to your site here and now. There is nothing nice or virtuous about being generous with other peoples’ money and other peoples’ futures as the Left are wont to be and I doubt Eurosceptics being ‘nicer’ would advance our cause any further -in fact being nice is what has got us shafted.

    Most of us have feelings and yes. It hurts especially when things we do not believe in are attributed to us and we are subject to misdirected put downs.

    Eurosceptics are well used to put downs – that and having our sanity questioned all the time.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      “Eurosceptics are well used to put downs” – indeed usually the racism trump card that is absurdly used.

  8. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I optimistcally half agree , but recently after 62 years of turning the other cheek and being mightily abused, I find that the blunt truth with evidence, even though it may hurt ,works.
    I was brought up in an atmosphere where it was polite to be gentle and non abusive to people and have banged my head against a brick wall trying to understand why they don’t reciprocate. I wonder why the bullies have got away with rape, theft, lies and have managed to get influential positions by being this way.
    It is only this week I said to a group of local people, hello how are you today, to find that 2 hours later they had broken the ariel off my car and were running away from the scene.
    Turn the other cheek or an eye for an eye? School is a good starting point though .

    • margaret brandreth-j
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t it strange some errors which are typos can be spotted, but others cannot be ignored…I can see that on your keyboard the ‘e’ seeems to be sticking , but for goodness sake I refuse to let’ optimistically’ go without correction.
      Put downs are rife and dwell in academic institutions and professions more than anywhere else. I felt angry in a recent inquiry when a barristers client was being extended credibility with a degree from a top university , when Keith Vaz subsequently piped up with a put down remark suggesting that if it wasn’t a first then the credibility was lost. This is unhealthy competition.
      Is this going to be edited as you can’t substantiate the remark.?
      Why I continue to comment on the blogs here though is mainly because I love the innocent or longing for innocent remarks John makes, (words left out ed)I love the sensitivity in the poem John wrote and published here. It is the innocence and the determination not to overtly put down which attracts me to the site..that is of course with the exclusion of the EU comments.

  9. Acorn
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I dare you to read that out in the House of Commons, just before Prime Ministers questions. “To me the glass is half full, not half empty”. And an engineer would reply, “To me the glass is twice as big as it needs to be”. We need systems engineers in parliament 😉 .

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Any competent engineers, mathematicians, physicists or scientist would be most welcome – use them to replace the endless Lawyers, PPE graduated and all the endless PR/spin & the professional liars.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 23, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        You are against any evidence even scientific that contradicts your own feelings and beliefs. I refer you back to electrification of trains and why many countries over the decades have put great effort and expense into this and why you still purport that diesel is a better as one very clear example.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Nice try. The meaning and definition of words is rather relevant in this context. For example, you regularly talk about ‘Eurosceptics’ and particularly that your party is ‘Eurosceptic’. What does that mean? To those of us who want the UK to leave the EU the idea of calling Cameron ‘Eurosceptic’ is risible, as his own words have proven; the same goes for your party and yet you do it regularly. Why? It seems to some of us that it is a form of deception for purely party political reasons. Perhaps, using the theme of your text, you hope that Cameron will be more positive about you if he thinks you are being positive about him? I don’t share that sentiment and in the context of politics and government I find it naive and dangerous. Just how are we ‘Eurosceptics’ going to achieve anything by pretending that those, who oppose our views, really agree with us? Nor is it really a philosophy that you consistently follow, for I see little sign of you finding “something worth our praise in what each can do” when it comes to UKIP or Labour. At least by being frank and open about our opinions (unlike many of your colleagues) you know what we think and where we stand. In that respect you have the advantage over us.

    Reply Mr Cameron vetoed an EU Treaty, cut the EU budget and has proposed an In Out referendum. Labour and Lib Dems would not have done that.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Just what was the EU Treaty that Cameron vetoed? Where and when was the formal intergovernmental conference held which is required to wield this veto?
      None of the points you make show that Cameron is Eurosceptic but his own words in his Bloomberg speech confirm the very opposite: “And just as I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU so the EU should want us to stay…………..Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.”

      Reply The Fiscal Treaty

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Would that be the Fiscal Treaty as descibred in the European Commission – MEMO/12/483 25/06/2012 : “The Fiscal Treaty (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance) is an intergovernmental treaty that was signed by 25 EU Member States on 2 March 2012.”
        Doesn’t sound much of a veto to me.

        Reply He vetoed it for the UK, so we are not part of it. His veto also meant it is not an EU Treaty, so he successfully vetoed an EU Treaty. We of course have no veto over foreign countries entering treaties of their own without us. To keep on denying this is absurd.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      To reply:- yes we agree that Heart and Soul, no Greater Switzerland Cameron is perhaps about 5% better than the Libdems and Labour but that is far from enough to justify a vote for him. We are better off waiting for a proper Tory party or UKIP.

    • Bob
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      Mr Cameron vetoed an EU Treaty

      What treaty ?

      cut the EU budget

      …and we still ended up paying more.

      [David Cameron] has proposed an In Out referendum. Labour and Lib Dems would not have done that.

      The Lib Dems proposed a in/out referendum at the time of their abstention from the Lisbon vote.

      In 2011 the LibLabCon Party voted against holding an in/out referendum. Fact.

      Reply He vetoed the Fiscal Treaty.

      • Bob
        Posted November 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        “Reply He vetoed the Fiscal Treaty.”

        I thought they ignored his veto and went ahead without us?

        Reply No, he successfully vetoed an EU Treaty. They now have an intergovernmental one without us.

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    You should send a copy of your letter to your colleague Anna Soubry, with a note quietly suggesting that the next time she appears on Question Time with Nigel Farage she should apologise for her boorish behaviour on the previous occasion, and frankly admit:

    1. That she, not UKIP, had an incorrect figure for the combined populations of Romania and Bulgaria;

    2. That there were in fact no UKIP leaflets delivered in her constituency saying that all 29 million would move here;

    3. That whether the number who want to come here turns out to be 29,000, or 290,000, or more, there is nothing our government and Parliament can do to restrict the numbers without breaking EU law, and that is directly contrary to the wishes of the great majority of the British people and completely wrong.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Anna Soubry! – she was indeed truly dreadful, incompetent, unpleasant (etc ed) too on Question time. Is that a sample of the best Tory females Cameron can find?

      She made Sayeeda Warsi ( Baroness Warsi) look almost competent by comparison.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      With her majority of 390 I doubt if Mr. Farage is worried about her comments.

  12. Bert Young
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Responding to encouragement has always beneficial results ; a true leader will assess what is good and bad about someone or something and then decide how to get the best possible outcome . Artificial praise is normally sussed out and discarded ; at worst it is seen as the ability to deceive . We all prefer living in a conducive relationship where trust and consistency is an on-going matter . Bad and irresponsible behaviour leads to rejection . Society demands standards and it is up to the leaders to demonstrate how they are achieved ; if they fail and fall short in the public eye , they are ridiculed and cast aside . A good motto is ” Be true unto ones self ” .

  13. matthu
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    A well-written plea which I hope has very wide appeal to its target audience.

    Politicians, however, mostly recognise the need to be a bit more hard-skinned.

    And when they have been less than candid with the public for so long about so many important issues (like the true cost of green issues instead of trying to disguise it as several separate parts of our normal energy bills, the full extent of power and democracy that we have been giving up to the EU, instead of saying that each successive treaty is merely a tidying up exercise, the true reason why we went to war with Iraq, instead of protecting our international relations, the full political maneuvering about climate change, instead of pretending that it is all settled science and others could – and will – extend this list) then until they come clean and admit what has been going on and encourage full and open political debate they should not expect to be warmly welcomed back into the fold.

    I agree that we need to hear more about the many advantages of exiting from the EU and not pretend it is all job losses and the end of environmentalism.

  14. peter davies
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Very true but extremely hard when you talk about many in the political classes given the damage they have inflicted upon us, particularly when we have a cosy political elite following the same EU road regardless of the consequences and worse still – obvious to most sensible people that it is flawed, UNWORKABLE and against any notion of living in a democracy.

    I like to think I act in a positive way day to day and don’t inflict harm on other but I’m afraid the mass mismanagement of govt finances plus the unauthorized signing over of UK sovereignty by stealth over a long period creates anything but a positive reaction by those who take the time to assess the true consequences.

    If I was a working class Spaniard, Greek or Irish person feeling the brunt of all this I would now be spitting blood and the positive glass half full attitude would be nowhere to be seen.

    Get us out of the EU ASAP (ensuring EEA protects free trade), stop trying to destabilize the UK with uncontrolled migration, stop erecting windmills that do NOTHING for our energy needs, stop kow towing to the EU with stupid projects like HS2, pass a law stating that Westminster is the supreme law maker in ALL cases and fix the economy properly SO we can all be more positive.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      It is fortunate that harsh language is about the only thing that Mr Redwood can criticise contributors for.

      In other countries they would have taken to the streets and smashed the whole place up. In fact here – people unlike ourselves – did just that very recently.

      We have never voted BNP. We did not resort to violence when a soldier’s head was cut off in a London street.

      When, oh when, is a politician going to have the minerals to stand up an praise us for our limitless tolerance rather than lecture us for getting a bit riled once in a while on a blog ?

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted November 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        I do agree Jennifer although words and communication are the configurations which incite, inflame and generally cause a reaction. Abusive communication and ‘put downs’ underline a need and perhaps an underlying pivotal nature ,in many different degrees, to be overly competitive and aggressive. On the other hand a complement which is brushed off can demonstrate a fear of being vulnerable and therefore a controlling nature. This latter way of response is of course typically English.

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-first-cracks-in-the-glass-ceiling-eu-votes-to-impose-legal-quotas-for-women-in-the-boardroom-8952718.html

    Despite the fact that back in January our MPs fully debated this issue and agreed with the government that the EU proposal breached the principle of “subsidiarity”, a view formally notified to the EU Commissioner responsible, Viviane Reding:

    http://euobserver.com/justice/118749

    “Most national parliaments in EU countries say the European Commission should go ahead with a law on female quotas on corporate boards. But six disagree.

    Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told press in Brussels on Wednesday (16 January) the consultation with MPs was not about the content of the proposal, but about “subsidiarity” – the question whether a given problem is best tackled at EU or local level.”

    Now that it has been approved by the EU Parliament the proposal goes to the Council of Ministers, and contrary to the promise made in 1975:

    http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

    “The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

    the Minister representing Britain will not in fact have a veto on it.

    And from what I read here:

    http://www.economicvoice.com/new-eu-law-would-allow-government-to-dissolve-companies-over-gender-quotas/

    it seems that for once UKIP MEPs did attempt to mitigate its worst aspects:

    “All 21 of UKIP’s amendments were rejected by the European Parliament. These included provisions such as an opt-out for member states and stopping any possible sanctions on companies.”

  16. Tad Davison
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I tend to be a positive type too. I’m forever praising people and giving encouragement – but only where it is appropriate to do so, for, as the old saying goes, to praise everybody, is to praise nobody.

    But suppose we give praise to people for getting it wrong? We then see how ridiculous praising everybody would be.

    How could I possibly give praise to someone like Heath or Major?

    And how else would the decision-makers know they’d made an error unless the people told them so, and in the most vehement terms?

    (etc ed)

    I don’t really go with the idea that we should completely lay off for a given length of time however. Criticism is a corrective mechanism, and especially in the world of politics, where people get so many important things wrong, it isn’t just right, it’s absolutely vital.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    Reply I was not proposing letting people in power off from criticisms of their errors!

  17. JimS
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    There is a difference between making a negative comment and being nasty, hopefully we learn by our mistakes and it is a good friend that points out where we might be wrong.

    Remember Apollo 13 – “Houston, we have a problem”, some people seek to drive out that sort of language, “we have no problems, only opportunities” etc. That is the sort of thinking that drives failures under the carpet and inquiry after inquiry bleating about “lessons learned”.

    Honesty but not Nasty.

  18. miami.mode
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    PMQs doesn’t exactly set a good example.

  19. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I agree; a positive and constructive approach is usually best.

    The put-down is an indication of laziness or incompetence; criticism without going to the trouble of justification or explanation.

    Broadcast media interviewers take note.

  20. lifelogic
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    What will Cameron do when the very blatant anti male discrimination (with 40% of women on boards) comes forwards from the barmy EU (Who clearly believe they know how to run companies better than the boards and shareholders). Where are these suitable women to come from? There are simply not enough sensible and experienced Ruth Lea types around. Most have no interest at all on being on boards anyway.

    I assume he will nod it through like the absurdly damaging gender neutral pensions and insurance laws as usual.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/10378585/EU-quota-for-40pc-of-women-on-boards-moves-step-closer.html

    • stred
      Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      The Green Council in Brighton is giving gender reassignment support toolkits to schools. Perhaps someone could invest in these toolkits for industry.

  21. matthu
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I think people in general will be more positive towards others, including politicians and organisations such as the BBC, if they demonstrate willingness to accept criticism.

    I have yet to see the BBC as an organisation demonstrating willingness to accept criticism. You simply have to read the many, many letters they have sent in response to factual inaccuracies broadcast by the BBC, particularly on the EU and climate change.

    Likewise, I have yet to see the EU as an organisation demonstrating willingness to accept criticism. Even demonstrating willingness to accept the outcome of a referendum.

    And there are very few climate scientists willing to accept criticism about the so-called consensus view – and this is because the whole thing has been so politicised.

    So how can one avoid the inevitable backlash if politicians, the BBC and government-funded civil servants and researchers aren’t prepared to change their approach?

    Scrap the adversarial nature of parliament?

  22. Atlas
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Interesting idea John. It seems to be based upon the “turn the other cheek” proposition in a venerable religious compilation. However I am finding that some people just think you are a soft touch if you adopt that stance.

  23. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “You know how it hurts if someone says something unpleasant or untrue”

    Unpleasant and untrue shouldn’t necessarily be bracketed together – I see no particular problem with saying unpleasant things if they are true.

  24. Alte Fritz
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I doubt that this post will draw 131 comments.

    For my part, as much as the EU is wrong in what it does, it is not always wrong. Eurosceptics can and do look unpleasantly negative by opposing the principle of every EU proposal just because of its provenance. I would like to see an approach to public affairs concentrating on what actually works.

  25. Neil Craig
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Same applies to catastrophic warming advocates. Look at Huhne comparing sceptics to Nazis or the BBC comparing us to pedophiles. A number of them would be s suspended from school for making death threats if they were held to the ethical standards children are.

  26. John Wrake
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I hope that it is just co-incidence that you choose to post about people being ‘put down’, following a comment which I made yesterday afternoon on your post about European Union membership ( incidentally, a comment which has not appeared,) in which I made reference to the treasonous politicians of all three major parties, who have deceived the people they claim to represent, broken their oaths of allegiance to The Monarch and acted contrary to the written components of our historic Constitution.

    I was careful to point out that not all politicians are dishonest and disloyal, but that those who act in the best interests of the nation are, at present, in the minority.

    This is a nation founded on the Christian faith and those Christian principles which underlie the Common Law, to which we are all meant to be subject. There are many in Parliament at present who are not so subject, and the ill-health of the body politic is all too plain.

    I know that sickness cannot be cured until the disease has been rightly diagnosed and the proper remedies applied. Proper diagnosis rests on honesty from both doctor and patient and often means unpalatable facts have to be faced. It is no help to the sick if such facts are avoided in case they hurt feelings.

    I, too, am a half-full glass person, looking to build rather than tear down, but to deny the reality of insecure foundations can only result in building failure.

    If what I have written is false, then prove it so. There may be some good in all those amongst whom we live and work, but we deny the reality of lies and greed and treason amongst some of those same people at our peril.

    John Wrake.

  27. outsider
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, I love the idea and like your contribution too. As a child, I was sensitive to put-downs so I never purposely put others down. This is a basic application of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you. It is a rule common to most religions and non-theistic ethical systems and the most important lesson anyone can learn at school.
    The Golden Rule also covers respect, which is a big issue for many teenagers. And avoiding put-downs rules out ad hominem arguments, which are sadly the main currency of Westminster debate today.
    I have seen you many times over the years, either on television or in person and have noticed that although you can be a very aggressive debater, you generally avoid personal put downs or ad hominem arguments. So you can write this letter sincerely.
    In this, however, you seem to be a rarity. Prime Ministers Questions and ministerial questions nowadays consist almost entirely of mutual put downs and ad hominem arguments. “You are out of touch”, “I am not taking any lessons from you” ad infinitum. It is an easy way to avoid substantive discussion of genuine issues.
    Put downs say you are wrong or at fault because of who you are or are designed to make you feel small. They are not the same as insults or rough banter, which should ideally be avoided but are OK if one accepts the same in return.
    The prevalence of put-downs in the House of Commons simply teaches children the “street rule”; if others treat you badly, get back and treat them worse – the very opposite of the Golden Rule . So perhaps No Put-down Week is something you might usefully raise at PMQs if you have the chance.

  28. David in Kent
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Great idea. Some of your commenters would find it difficult to know what to say if you put them on such a self-denying ordinance for a week.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I shall just look for the rare positives – they abolished the M4 bus lane, made squatting a criminal offence, did not go to war in Syria and are about 5 % better than Miliband. I think that is about all though – after nearly 4 years.

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    “If only Europsceptics could learn from this idea, who knows what we might achieve together!”

    If only Eurosceptics could agree on a set of ‘red lines’ – minimum demands for the return of powers from the EU – and require the Prime Minister to take account of them in a renegotiation. If remains true that the most powerful and most persuasive group of Eurosceptics is the 100+ Conservative members of parliament.

  30. Kenneth
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Nice note, Mr Redwood.

    The only thing I would have added is to try to maintain a sense of humour when under attack. That can also be disarming.

  31. Vanessa
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    You are advocating, it seems, not to say anything critical about another person. So teachers are not allowed to tell students when they get it wrong and no-one is allowed to fail but ALL are winners !!! How on earth is anyone going to learn anything ? I find if someone criticises me that mistake is never made again. It is extremely valuable to have your mistakes pointed out to you.

    This is the society of equality, dumbed down idiots. No-one rises above anyone because everyone is a winner.

    My apologies for criticising you but maybe I have a “half empty glass” !

    • outsider
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Dear Vanessa, there is a huge difference between criticism and put-down. In the classroom, it is the difference between “you have made mistakes and should try harder” and “your work is useless and so are you”. The one is a positive part of the learning process and potentially supportive, the other is purely negative and undermining. In life more generally, criticism is an essential part of argument and dialectic progress. Put-downs are usually just designed to assert one person’s dominance over another.

  32. Bazman
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Many right wing Tories and their supporters need ‘putting down etc ed

    • Edward2
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Then you would have no one to shout and rant at Baz.
      Be careful what you wish for, the next one on the train to the camp could be you.
      Debate and argument is good.
      If you kill off one side, what happens is that argument then breaks out amongst those left in power.

  33. forthurst
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee has introduced a raft of reforms to take the country forward, including a “resolve to strengthen public opinion guidance”.

    An examination of the summaries reveals that despite the wide-ranging nature of the reforms, nowhere is there a mention of either the need to abolish China or the Chinese and simply become Asian, to introduce quotas for women, for homosexual marriage, for uncontrolled non-Chinese immigration, for wars of choice in the Middle East or elsewhere, for saving the planet, for treating people who are not Chinese as special and above Chinese people and requiring draconian thoughcrime laws to prevent criticisms of them. The Chinese leadership may be authoritarian, but they are not a bunch of fools or knaves; they realise they are riding a tiger and must make life for all their people fairer and better. The problem facing us is that we have a political leadership which is so utterly corrupt and stupid that they have been doing their uttermost to make England for the English, less fair and less pleasant. At some point the country could become ungovernable as a consequence of their folly.

    We have had far too much public opinion guidance in this country which has groomed many into believing what is clearly false and disadvantageous; JR believes the progenitors of these false ideas deserve courtesy, but do they? (JR himself deserves courtesy for many reasons and I hope nothing I have ever said implied otherwise.)

  34. The PrangWizard
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    This is not a comment on the letter nor on yourself, but finding more and more ways of being offended is a growth industry as many know. Victim creation. There are many professionals supporting it, making money for themselves from it and causing damage to the people they claim to be helping, failing to give them courage to help themselves more.

    Standing up for right and against wrong is derided, success seems to come more from lies and intimidation. Moral decay is all around. We don’t have the leadership we need to counter it. Just note how slowly the truth is revealed in acts of wrongdoing, how we get weasel words over the broadcast media especially, how news is suppressed when it doesn’t suit their agendas, and how punishment is often avoided.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted November 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Well said Wizard.

  35. stred
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Are you alright JR? What next- joining the Happyclappies?

  36. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    No put down week…is this serious or just some loony PC construct of Lambeth Council.?

    Politics is a rough trade and Lord Redwood should have no truck with it!. The glass isn’t half empty – we are heading for another crash when interest rates rise on government debt and then our children can look forward to a population of 75 million plus.
    The picture would be a good deal rosier if a number of catastrophic decisions hadn’t been made in the last 40 years. Perhaps the left wing bullies do always win in the end and the right hasn’t fought hard enough or been too careless in choosing its leaders (John Major).

    Mr Redwood’s left wing opponents do not just disagree with him and us who share conservative views – they actively hate and despise us. They would like to see England smashed up and turned into a place we no longer feel comfortable in. Many have found that trying to argue with a left winger is pointless as you just invite a series of personal attacks. So lets not delude ourselves- we need to fight and fight hard.

  37. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Okay then I won’t call John Major (various things ed) for forcing us to join the ERM, signing the Maastricht treaty and making the Conservative party unelectable for a generation. Just because it’s no put down week.

    If those in power cannot be reminded of their follies in the strongest possible terms then they are free to cause further misery. Windfall tax on utility companies ?.

  • 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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