How much free enterprise is good for us?

 

            In UK politics you get used to being interviewed most of the time from the left. Those of us who believe that free enterprise can offer us more jobs, prosperity, choice, the chance of financial security through savings and pensions, are constantly made to answer questions about why we do not support higher taxes, higher public spending and more regulation of the private sector. The questions are often dressed up as wanting us to take more from the rich, but in practice the schemes require taking more from the prudent and those in the middle of the income bands as well as those at the top. They can also cumulatively act to limit entrepreneurship and divert jobs abroad.  There is an undercurrent in some  public debate that if you do not support a bigger role for the state, whatever the current size of the state might be, you are not a caring or understanding person.

             In practice most of us on the Conservative side of the argument want to live in a society where there is decent state provision for those who are unable to work to support themselves, or who are going through a bad patch in their lives and need help. The issue between the Conservatives and the two main left of centre parties is not over whether to have a welfare state or a health service free at the point of use. It is over the extent, the best way of getting value for the money spent,  the eligibility, and the best way to help more people to support themselves.

            On this site one of the refreshing things is that much of the criticism of me comes from the other side of the argument.  It is refreshing if it is fairly put and not labouring points that have already been answered long since. So today let me explore what limits I think the UK wants and expects to be placed  on a free enterprise society. I do so as an MP who has a duty to represent all my constituents and to understand where a large majority  wish to see  limits imposed on markets and freedom.

            The first constraint on free enterprise and freedom which we all agree is the rule of law. I think all accept that individuals and businesses have to work within a framework of law, that condemns theft, violence, fraud and other malpractice.  You cannot have a flourishing free society paradoxically without a system of criminal law,  and without enforcement and punishment for the minority who want to undermine a free society  by misbehaviour.

           The second demand on free enterprise is to pay some tax to provide for common services which individuals and companies would not supply for themselves – like police and defence – and to pay for welfare for those in need. I accept the UK choice and tradition that health care is supplied free at the point of use and have always spoken and voted for it. I want the country to be generous to the disabled and those in real need.

              The third constraint on free enterprise which some criticise me for supporting is to have border controls to limit the numbers entitled to come and live and work here. My main reason for this view is the existence of a decent welfare and benefits system. If we have an open door policy towards countries that have much lower incomes than the UK average we run the risk of imposing too much strain on our public finances and welfare system.  In a welfare state with reasonable benefit levels it is also important  to maximise the number of locally created  jobs that go to established residents here, to keep the welfare bills under control. In summary, I do not think you can run an open borders free labour market with the rest of the world if you wish to run a welfare and income top  up policy that is generous by world standards at the same time.

             A difficult fourth constraint is the range of measures government does need to take to prevent private interests  doing damage to the wider public interest. Like my socialist critics I of course recognise that some businesses can profit at the expense of their neighbourhood or customers. Much of the potential damage can be taken care of by a strong competition policy, giving customers more choice to avoid companies that behave badly. But it may  also require planning, environmental, health and safety and other  legislation as well to tell business what is expected and to offer some sense of security to the public.

            Again the debate here between Conservatives and socialists is not an all or nothing debate. It is a debate over how many bad things do need specific regulation or law, and whether individual regulations are effective. It is often a debate over both the total volume of these instructions, and the way some regulation can achieve the opposite of what was intended. More box ticking and form filling does not prevent financial crashes, as Labour found out to our cost.  

 

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105 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Good article!

    Our parliament is hollowed out now and most of the decisions seem to be taken in Europe. Like Law and Immigration. We seem to have lost control of both. Once Common Law has been taken away, making our own parliamentary laws, of course, is ridiculous because they can be overruled. Once the EU takes over our borders, then we can say what we like here: it really is not important. A lot of your Roma following will nod at this point.

    The EU believes in more Europe. It also believes in the government giving rights and controlling and regulating everything possible because the experts know better than ordinary people what is good for us. Hence the surging flow of Directives. With M. Verhofstadt poised to take over from M. Barroso this year, the stranglehold on our lives might well get even tighter.

    Meanwhile people blame the government for the weather, for the floods, for their sickness, for their poverty… (Please do listen to Mr Miliband’s New Year message on Labour List) They are looking in the wrong place! Reform starts with me! Confucius saw that. We do not.

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Cameron on Andrew Marr this morning “Our NHS is a national treasure”. It is actually largely a complete dis-functional disaster, as anyone can see from the statistics with some of the worst outcomes in the developed world. Thousands of avoidable deaths and major mistakes every month. Vast sums wasted on Lawyers and litigation too and some very low ratios of medical staff to population and rationing all over the place.

      He also still refuses to put any numbers on the new wave of immigration. Surely his and his government’s job (as he clearly welcomes this immigration) is to estimate these numbers, the areas they are likely to move to and how he can ensure schools, hospitals, housing and services will cope with this large influx. How can he do this without estimates?

      Covering his eyes and not even making an estimate or provision is a truly pathetic position to take. How can he welcome the immigration without even having a feel for the likely size or effect of it?

      Also he said “You should set taxes to raise revenue” well no you should set them for the maximum good of the people and the economy and they are far to high for this. Also “we have cut taxes in this parliament” clearly a very direct lie to the voters with 299+ tax increases and a huge net increase in the tax burden (and the governments borrowing the deferred tax burden).

      Just how stupid does he think the voters are?

      Still at least some sensible noises on the ECHR I suppose.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        yes all true.

        on immigration I am getting tired of Govt spokesmen telling us that workers from outside of Europe are capped, and only allowed in if they are highly skilled, which is clearly not true from the way ICT visas are being used to bring in cheap IT workers. and so many go onto get indefinite leave to remain here simply for working here a while.

        IT is another industry destroyed by Govt manipulation.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        yes the NHS is a national disgrace, and the ongoing false propoganda from the massed political and journalistic class is doing the country no favours. those of us who have travelled and seen other health systems know very well the NHS is a disgrace. we really need to copy the best of the rest of the world instead of tweaking a useless system. give the patients real control of their health spend and let the providers bend to the will of the customers, that is the only way to really bring improvement and constant iterations of optimisation.

        and yes immigration is out of control. Cameron speaks with a forked tongue, as etc ed

      • uanime5
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        Well perhaps if the UK didn’t spend substantially less as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than other countries the NHS might be able to afford more doctors and better care.

        • Richard1
          Posted January 6, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          The UK’s spending on healthcare as a % of GDP rose hugely under Labour, for very little tangible result in relative improved care. That’s because there was no reform of its centralised statist structure. In any event the nominal cost of the NHS is nothing close to its real cost to the economy – which should include all the lost work days etc – due to the queuing and rationing system, which as we know is always the result of a planned system with fixed prices.

      • zorro
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        Clearly, from his testimony to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Sir David Metcalf CBE (Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee) stated that he had not been commissioned by the Government to produce an estimate……. This might seem odd to some people, I am sure.

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/c820-i/c82001.htm

        Q112 – Professor Sir David Metcalf: No, with respect. We do not set our own homework. The whole modus operandi of the Migration Advisory Committee, the MAC, is that the then Government, whichever Government, sets the tasks, and we have never been tasked to make estimates of the numbers coming from Romania and Bulgaria.

        Yet, in Q6 of the prior session…..

        Q6 – Mr Harper:… We sought some advice from the Migration Advisory Committee, and I know you have Professor David Metcalf before you next. Their advice was that because of the range of variables, the fact there are eight other European countries that have transitional controls and are removing them, as they have to under the accession treaties at the same time, trying to make an accurate forecast would simply not be practical. I have previously described it as a fool’s errand….. I don’t think that producing a forecast that proves to be completely erroneous is very helpful.’

        Do we have some misunderstanding perhaps which has not been explored…..?

        zorro

      • Bazman
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Private healthcare with all the benefits of private rail, energy, water, post, etc Except the benefits are for insider companies and not the public which pays for them by subsidy and taxes. A NHS like the banking system is what we will end up with and everyone knows this. You don’t run something into the ground and then say it’s no good.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      It’s a shame Mike, that we cannot prosecute errant politicians retrospectively for the damage they caused and for what amounted in many cases to be nothing short of treason.

      As I have often said, if they couldn’t see the damage and devastation their pro-EU policies might cause, they were not fit to hold office. If they could, and let it happen anyway, they should be tried as criminals.

      Just imagine Mr Cameron in ten years time being derided and resented, if not hated by the population, just as some of the pro-EU Tories are now.

      Still, one look at the money from his pension and the out-of-office Blair-like spin-offs might soon make him forget all about the disaster and put a smile on his face.

      Tad

    • Timaction
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Whilst I agree with all of your views none of it is possible to control whilst we are in the EU.
      As your leader in the Tory led coalition has negotiated nothing in the 3 and half years whilst in office (Not in charge as the EU is) I see no prospect for any meaningful renegotiation as our President Barrosso has already ruled it out.
      He is an avid fan of the EU and you only have to see his advisers to confirm his quisling position. It is no accident that he was an adviser to Norman Lamont under a wet Major (Maastricht) Government. Major, Clarke, Heseltine, Patton all at the heart of the current Cameron Government. He is unelectable to most people with Conservative values. As the time ticks everyone is waking to the reality of the incompetence and untrustworthy LibLabCons. We are now part of the Country known as the EU and can’t even control our borders or who has access to services paid for by Brits but accessed by the world.
      Take a look at their website (http://europa.eu/index_en.htm ) and see the competencies, the grants and propaganda, the extensive polls and huge bureaucracy that we are taxed to pay for.
      We want our Country back and our liberty restored. Their is only one party prepared to give the British people this patriotic freedom and it isn’t LibLabCons.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Never mind, Cameron’s interview on Marr should put all our minds at rest. By 2017 the conditions could be in place to have a referendum which could result in some of these laws and Directives being limited or even changed! This pace of change is frightening(ly slow).

      • Mark B
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        There will be no referendum in 2017, with or without a Conservative Government. The Commission will not allow it !

  2. lifelogic
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Exactly it is a question of degree but we are hugely over regulated and over taxed at the moment. We should be spending more like 20% of GDP through government not wasting nearly 50%. So much government expenditure is not only not needed at all but it actually does positive harm and distracts the wealth creating sector from productive activity. HS2, the benefit payments to augment the healthy but feckless to a life on benefit, the subsidies for so called “renewable” energy (produced at 3+ times the true value), the cost of the EU, the counterproductive wars, the regulations that miss the nut with the sledgehammer are all good examples

    Clearly you can not run an open borders free labour market with the rest of the world (or even with just the EU) if you wish to run a welfare and income top up policy that is generous by world standards at the same time.

    I see Cameron has give another triple lock guarantee on pensions, will he treat this with the same contempt for the voters as he did his IHT promise and his cast iron promises?
    I do not suppose he will get the chance to rat on these as he will clearly be gone. I also read that Theresa May overtakes Boris Johnson in the race to replace Cameron. I cannot stand the wet Heathite/lefty Cameron but surely he is better than Theresa May and her many shoes.

    It is hard to see the party back in power for many years, if at all, anyway after this multiple ratting shower. I assume the ratting, on this pension lock, will be by the fig leaf of making it all means tested!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/10551113/David-Cameron-Tories-will-keep-pension-triple-lock-guarantee.html

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Clearly you can not run an open borders free labour market with the rest of the world (or even with just the EU) if you wish to run a welfare and income top up policy that is generous by world standards at the same time.

      The UK’s benefits aren’t generous compared to the level of benefits in other European countries. We only have a top-up policy on low wages because companies don’t want to pay a living wage.

    • zorro
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      ‘ Theresa May and her many shoes….’ Lifelogic, you never fail to bring a smile to my face with your aphorisms, and ability to aspire conscious thought to inanimate objects… ;-)

      zorro

  3. JoeSoap
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    You didn’t mention the word “insurance” in your description of the need for a welfare system, yet that word was used when it was set up. It can also help to separate those who enjoy welfare for which they have paid the premium, and those who might not.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      You didn’t mention the word “insurance” in your description of the need for a welfare system, yet that word was used when it was set up. It can also help to separate those who enjoy welfare for which they have paid the premium, and those who might not.

      Unless you’re saying that some people should be denied benefits, and left to either starve or turn to crime there’s no point in making this distinction.

  4. Gina Dean
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Small is best to much interference takes away the incentive to think and improve your lot in life. Government should be in the background not in your face all the time.
    The things you should be looking at is smaller parliament including the house of lords which should be half the size it is know. The economy, truly getting rid of bloated quangos. Cutting back drastically on waste in departments. Not thinking up things to do, focus on the country and it’s people, what is right and what can improve our way of life.

  5. APL
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Mike Stallard: “Once Common Law has been taken away .. ”

    They have abolished Common Law? When did that happen?

    In actual fact, within the Realm of the United Kingdom, Common Law is the foundation of all legal authority. If our politicians are acting outwith the restraints of Common Law, they are acting lawlessly, and should be disobeyed!

    • Jennifer A
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Frightening.

      How has this been allowed to happen ?

      NOBODY voted for this.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Some judges may claim that common law is the foundation of all legal authority, but some MPs roundly reject that claim.

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110111/debtext/110111-0002.htm

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      In actual fact, within the Realm of the United Kingdom, Common Law is the foundation of all legal authority. If our politicians are acting outwith the restraints of Common Law, they are acting lawlessly, and should be disobeyed!

      That’s nonsense. The foundation of the UK’s legal authority is statutory law (made by Parliament), not the Common law (made by judges). Given that parliament can overrule the common law our politicians can amend the common law whenever they want.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but the dispute is over whether the sovereignty of Parliament, and its power to overrule aspects common law, is itself derived from a principle of common law.

        At the link I gave above Bill Cash MP was greatly exercised about that, and he referred back to the case of Lord Chief Justice Coke who was eventually dismissed from the judiciary in 1616, among other things for his assertion that common law could overrule Acts of Parliament.

        But as the outcome of that debate was that MPs did as their party leaders wanted and voted 314 – 39 against reaffirming the sovereignty of their own Parliament, our national Parliament, on the face of an Act, it seems rather academic to try to pin down the exact historical origins of a parliamentary sovereignty which most of the present MPs don’t even want.

        • APL
          Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Denis Cooper: ” it seems rather academic to try to pin down the exact historical origins of a parliamentary sovereignty ”

          Not at all. If it is established that the UK Parliament now acts unconstitutionally – and without lawful (constitutional) restraint. Individuals ought to know if they are acting unlawfully by obeying the dictat of ‘Parliament’.

          uanime5: “That’s nonsense.”

          If you had any record of integrity, one might take the occasional thing you witter, seriously. Since you don’t, I won’t.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted January 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            But Bill Cash’s argument is that the sovereignty of Parliament is a constitutional principle, not a principle of common law, and there can no question of its Acts being unconstitutional or it being illegal for somebody to obey an Act.

            I’m not entirely convinced that this accurately reflects the historical origins of parliamentary sovereignty, given that what is still the founding document of our parliamentary system, the Bill of Rights 1688, resorts to declarations such as this:

            http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

            “That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal”

            but leaving it unclear on what basis it is “illegal”.

            Still, the foremost contemporary choice is between our Parliament remaining sovereign or other bodies being allowed to seize sovereignty, and I would choose to have Parliament continuing to be sovereign rather than allowing the EU to become sovereign or allowing courts, domestic or foreign, to assume sovereignty.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    An interesting post which shows that there is naturally really little difference between all of the Parties, other than scale.

    The one word missing from your Post John was fairness, a failing in all Parties..
    Not meant to be a critisism, as you covered many things, but this very simple word means so much to so many.

    Is it fair that the State takes more than half of your money.
    Is it fair that some can live completely at anothers expense without working, when they are perfectly fit to do so.
    Is it fair that anyone can come here and access benefits without any contribution whatsoever.
    Is it fair that after a lifetime of working, the State pension is below the minimum wage.
    Is it fair that someone on the minimum wage pays income tax.
    Is it fair that someone on benefits (who is fit) gets more than the minimum wage.
    Is it fair that Benefits are tax free, when pension payments are not.
    Is it fair that a post code lottery exists for NHS treatment.

    So many other examples.

    Also aware that what seems fair to one, does not to another, so perhaps not a simple one to solve, but that does not stop a Government from trying.

    • Martyn G
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Personally, I would replace the word “fair” with “reasonable”. That great Judge, Lord Denning always asked himself when judging a trial and in other circumstances “is it reasonable….” Other than that absolutely agree with your listing!

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Martyn

        I think you are right.

        I thought about the word fair after I made the posting, I could have also used the words “is it Right” because we are constantly being advised about doing the the right thing etc, etc.

        Then blow my socks off, David Cameron says on TV later in the day we are going to be fair to pensioners who do the right thing.

        Thus not so much the words that matter, but the actions which appear to be sadly lacking.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Is it fair that the State takes more than half of your money.

      Is it fair that someone makes a huge amount of money because of their connections rather than their ability.

      Is it fair that some can live completely at anothers expense without working, when they are perfectly fit to do so.

      Is it fair that there aren’t enough jobs for everyone.

      Is it fair that anyone can come here and access benefits without any contribution whatsoever.

      Are they any different from someone who has lived here all their life and is able to access benefits without any contribution whatsoever.

      Is it fair that someone on benefits (who is fit) gets more than the minimum wage.

      That’s a lie and you know it. Anyone who works for minimum wage always get more than someone on benefits because the only benefit you can’t claim is job seeker’s allowance, which is only a fraction of minimum wage.

      Comparing minimum to the amount an unemployed person can claim in benefits, while ignoring that someone working for minimum wage can also claim these same benefits, is dishonest.

      Is it fair that Benefits are tax free, when pension payments are not.

      Unless you can convince landlords to accept lower rents you can’t tax housing benefit. The other benefits also can’t be taxed for the same reason.

      Your examples of fairness are somewhat hypocritical as you’re using them as an excuse to bash the unemployed for being unemployed. Why not try helping them, rather than condemning them for things outside of their control.

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Uni5

        Not hyporcritical at all, not bashing anyone, just asking if its fair !

        You seem to think all is well, so would you continue to have us live beyond our means to pay ?

        So your solution is what exactly ?

      • Hope
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Socialist drivel. ALL good points made by Alan. None of the answers by Uni are reasonable. Uni, people make mistakes, they do not always lie. Don’t make false accusations.

  7. oldtimer
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The availability of choice is an essential component of a free society. Competition helps to provide that choice and, along the way, the search for better ways to deliver and satisfy choice. That is the argument for and benefit of globalisation which also brings a better standard of living to millions in developing economies. The presence of monopoly supply is its enemy.

    The idea that the UK can pull up a drawbridge and insulate itself from global competition is false. The UK cannot continue to pretend that it can pay itself what it cannot earn without also accepting a real decline in living standards – as many are already experiencing.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      And that ‘choice’ is something we are denied in mainstream politics.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Where free enterprise is subsidised by things such as child benefit and housing benefit it is not truly free enterprise.

    Privatisation generally begins with the outsourcing of work to abroad and to agencies. The standard of living has been topped up with various benefits and this shows in the national deficit/debt.

    This is not ‘free’ enterprise. Someone else is paying for it.

    We hear this morning of loopholes whereby agencies are bypassing minimum wage for migrants. We already know about child benefit being sent abroad by migrant workers.

    MPs must represent ‘all’ constituents. I thought you were meant to declare a set of principles at election time, get elected on them and stick by them. Thus representing the people who voted for your principles – no *all* constituents.

    No wonder it seems that nothing changes however we vote.

    Mr Cameron declares to Andrew Marr this morning that “…there was no idea how many migrants would come here.”

    Yes there was. We told you. But we were told that we were fruitcakes and loons and this is why your party is 9 points behind Labour.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Mr Cameron is being told by the left not to ‘pander to Ukip’

      What would convince ex conservative voters is if Mr Cameron told the left to get stuffed.

      As I said before – politicians should stand or fall on their principles. If there is no market for their principles they should stand down – the last thing they should do is change with the wind. Or if you do change then don’t do so without changing party or forming a new one. Pretending to be the same party is disingenuous.

      Clarification to my previous:

      “Privatisation generally begins with the outsourcing of work to abroad and to agencies. The standard of living has been topped up with various benefits and this shows in the national deficit/debt.”

      It should say “The standard of living for workers in agencies has been topped up…” (this includes the people they have displaced out of work.)

      This policy has made us a massive migration magnet.

      Without this we wouldn’t be in such dire need of ‘free’ enterprise as we are.

      • Jennifer A
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Predictions are that the UK will be the largest economy in Europe.

        A busy economy doesn’t necessary mean a wealthy one, does it !

        etc

  9. Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth I concur with your philosophy.

    The undercurrent of ‘uncaring Right’ that you mentioned is a big part of why we have treated our people so badly over the past few years.

    I would like to see those on the Right switch from defensive to offensive when it comes to this issue.

    There is enough evidence now that socialist policies damage ordinary people (look over the Channel, for example).

    John, every time a journo suggest more worker protection regulations (for example) you may suggest to them how uncaring such a policy would be.

    Tell the journo to think of it from the point of few of the unemployed person or the low paid worker for a change, for they are the ones who have suffered the most from socialism.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      John, every time a journo suggest more worker protection regulations (for example) you may suggest to them how uncaring such a policy would be.

      Care to explain why giving people more rights is bad for them. make sure you answer this question as if you’re trying to convince these same people to re-elect you.

      Tell the journo to think of it from the point of few of the unemployed person or the low paid worker for a change, for they are the ones who have suffered the most from socialism.

      Actually the unemployed people and the low paid workers have benefited the most from socialism because it gives them benefits, better working conditions, more rights, and better pay. Unlike capitalism which seeks to undermine all of these.

      • Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        “Care to explain why giving people more rights is bad for them. make sure you answer this question as if you’re trying to convince these same people to re-elect you.”

        uanime5, I can see evidence all over the place. Many people I know work longer hours now for no extra pay than they have ever done before. They are certainly treated with less respect and enjoy fewer benefits than before. Obviously with a high level of unemployment, employers have the upper hand and some more unscrupulous ones will take advantage.

        With every new employment regulation that is weighted against the employer, yet more jobs are lost and the cycle goes round.

        “Actually the unemployed people and the low paid workers have benefited the most from socialism because it gives them benefits, better working conditions, more rights, and better pay. Unlike capitalism which seeks to undermine all of these.”

        uanime5, where is the evidence that socialism has benefitted the low paid and unemployed? Can you supply it? Surely all the evidence points to socialism as the main cause and perpetrator of unemployment.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    JR: “The second demand on free enterprise is to pay some tax to provide for common services”
    Unless you are an EU immigrant, according to today’s Telegraph:
    “Romanians and Bulgarians coming to work can avoid paying taxes in Britain because of a loophole.
    Instead they can pay taxes at home where basic rates are much lower. ……………..
    Almost 100,000 EU immigrants already in Britain are taking advantage of the regulations.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10551151/How-EU-migrants-avoid-tax-in-UK.html

    • Chris S
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      This is nothing new :

      Thousands of Brits work on short term contracts in other EU countries and pay UK taxe. This includes my son who is on a working holiday in an Austrian Ski Resort for the season.

      Not sure what the relative numbers are but in his ski resort alone the British holiday company he is working for employs 35 Brits, all on the same basis.

  11. Andyvan
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I can see little difference between the so called right of the Conservative and the socialists. You all support big government interference in everything, GCHQ spying on us, state censorship of the internet, ridiculous levels of taxation, trade controls, bank bailouts, and went along for many years with the EU (a few honorable exceptions). In short you all believe that central planning has a place in a free economy and I have to disagree. The state is the problem not the solution. Milliband and Balls may be more extreme in their socialism but that’s all. Conservatives are simply a paler shade of red.

  12. Mark B
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “There is an undercurrent in some public debate that if you do not support a bigger role for the state, whatever the current size of the state might be, you are not a caring or understanding person.”

    Government is there to govern. It does not have a hotline to God, or a moral compass to guide it. It has form and it has function. Its form, comes is its institutions. Its function, is to protect the state from external and well as internal threats. It creates the laws by both it and the people wish to be governed in fairness and equality. Too many ‘bleeding heart liberals’ who see themselves as missionaries doing the good lords work in politics, telling us that they, and only they, can save us are using their positions to ‘solve’ problems that someone just like them created some time before. These people are afflicted with narcissism and, when in power [insert your favourite PM/demigod here] show uncomfortably high levels of megalomania, which leads into them becoming the new Nero. The Legislature in this country, and indeed the EU lacking any real ability to control their and the Governments excesses.

    The solution, I believe, is to take away the sovereign power of Parliament and to hand it to the people. If our Head of State, and Parliament, are willing to give power, through treaties, to a foreign power (EU), then it is no great leap for it to give power to those that pay for the maintenance of the State. I do not believe that Parliament does a sufficient enough job in controlling expenditure of various Government Departments or create the right kind of laws that we wish to see. eg GAY marriage.

    “I accept the UK choice and tradition that health care is supplied free at the point of use . . . ”

    This is incorrect. Only since 1947 (I think) have we had ‘free at the point of service’ health care. National Insurance has been with us much longer but has been abused by successive governments. Taxation, certainly at the levels and scope we see today is relatively new phenomena, as is the level of spending on Government departments – not in Sterling but as a percentage of GDP.

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1900_2010UKp_13c1li011lcn_F0t_UK_Public_Spending_As_Percent_Of_GDP

    In short. You have too much of my money and I want it back !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      “The solution, I believe, is to take away the sovereign power of Parliament and to hand it to the people.”

      As far as I’m concerned the sovereign power of Parliament comes from the people, and Parliament should be the true representative of the people.

      The problem lies with those who we have allowed to be installed in Parliament; in the Commons installed by their political gangs whose leaders do not believe in the sovereignty of our national Parliament or in the sovereignty of our nation, who in fact don’t even believe in our nation in any respect, and who would prefer to see our nation disappear into history and its sovereignty alienated to the EU and other international organisations; and in the Lords the same, packed with unworthy individuals who previously betrayed the nation when they were in the Commons and various hangers-on and fellow travellers, now all installed as legislators for the rest of their natural lives, for God’s sake.

      Most of those now infesting our national Parliament don’t even care to recognise that their power derives from the people and have no intention of ever handing any real power back to the people; we cannot immediately remove them from the Lords, but at the next election we could purge some of them from the Commons if enough of us woke up to the need to do so.

  13. richard
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Also the key political point is how do you control the bureaucracies that are necessary to manageme and impliment these checks, balances and restraints.

    A striking feature of the modern world is the growing asymetrical authority of regulators and the delegation of coersive power to agencies and other bodies. These are often populated by people who have failed to find actual employment in the activities they regulate, and infested with the PC thinking that is now endemic in institutions. Naturally they see the solution to all the problems in thier remit as more people like themselves taxing and regulating the rest of us.

    On a related note I am pleased to see the debate stimualted here and on the Telegraph website (where alas the btl commentators are depressingly ignorant and illiterate) by the trace left of your admirable performance as Lady Thatchers policy chief. I do hope you kept a diary – Bernard Donoghues is surely one of the very greatest political documents of its era?

    Predictably, the BBC’s presentation of the 1984 release has been nakedly biased – they are without doubt seriously out of control and a powerful anti-democratic force. They are fully aware of what might happen if the Tories have control of the licence fee negotiations in 2015 and they are increasingly boldly campaigning against your party. Not least by the misrepresentation of the Thatcher government which is all pervasive.

  14. John Eustace
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Do we want economic growth?
    We seem to be unable to get anything built in this country – houses, railways, airports, power stations, oil or gas wells, etc. due to a stand-off between those who want to preserve their current comforts and are quite happy as they are thank you and those who want to grow the economy and bring wider prosperity.

  15. Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “I do not think you can run an open borders free labour market with the rest of the world if you wish to run a welfare and income top up policy that is generous by world standards at the same time.”

    You are right of course but unfortunately many seem to think otherwise, or have not thought through the consequences.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Every country’s case is different and a common approach to any given problem is impossible . At any one time the pendulum may swing in one direction and force the need to change ; the government must read the messages and alter course when necessary . It cannot do this if it is subjected to outside controls such as those imposed from Brussels . Your blog today is another illustration of the frustration we have and the need for strong and determined leadership in the management of our affairs . Each day I read what you have to say and all of the responses you receive ; there is little doubt that the need to re-establish our independence is markedly evident . I hope you show the content to David Cameron .

  17. Roger Farmer
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    The state is already grotesquely out of control as it is. An unelected EU bureaucracy controlling most of what Parliament used to do. An off the book quangofied UK bureaucracy occupying most of the ground that the EU has not yet entered. A civil service that sees itself as a power that controls politicians, not as a service that responds to the needs of politicians and the people. Parliament has become irrelevant, which is why there is so little involvement by the electorate in elections. The electorate ask what relevance elections have that goes beyond putting a democratic veneer on all that inflicts our lives.
    The Conservative side of the welfare argument may have relevance. However the reality is that at £26,000 per annum the congenitally idle can receive more than twice as much as a retired couple who have worked and contributed all their lives.
    Agreed on the Rule of Law ,but can it be English Law that has passed through Parliament, not EU law.
    On the face of it what you say on tax is plausible providing you realise that what Government does cannot be covered by tax alone. Because Government involvement in our lives has become so intense and out of control and incompetently expensive we have to live with the consequences. On current performance so will our great grandchildren. To tax you can add ,off the book PFI’s, printing money (quantitative easing ), Government borrowing, through a pass the parcel issuing of bonds and any other slick monetary mechanism they can invent, is on an unprecedented scale. The latter will have risen from Browns level of £700 Billion to at least £1200 Billion by the end of this government. All paid for by devalued currency, devalued pensions and increases in the cost of living. I conclude that in most of it’s forms Government is a rampant cancer on the body of it’s citizens
    No you cannot run an open borders policy. However while you allow millions of the original population to live lives of dependency while there are jobs to be filled, they have to be filled from somewhere. If it is hard working, well educated Romanians, then so be it.
    A fair basis of law should cover your fourth point.
    While conservatives in Government might be marginally more competent than the Lib/Dems or Labour, you are all out of touch with the aspirations of the people. You are all singing from the same hymn sheet and it is shop soiled goods you are selling. No doubt Cameron will drum up a pot of tasty goods for the next election, but on past performance he will not be believed.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      However the reality is that at £26,000 per annum the congenitally idle can receive more than twice as much as a retired couple who have worked and contributed all their lives.

      Care to explain why the retired couple can’t claim any of these benefits? Is it because they don’t have any children under 18 and aren’t having to rent their property so they’re not entitled to benefits designed to help the poor.

  18. Tad Davison
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Not a bad piece John, but a few notes of my own please if I may.

    ‘There is an undercurrent in some public debate that if you do not support a bigger role for the state, whatever the current size of the state might be, you are not a caring or understanding person.’

    I bet I know where the bulk of that comes from, at least as far as the television media is concerned!

    On this point, ‘……….a framework of law, that condemns theft, violence, fraud and other malpractice.’ I could write a book about the things that have gone unpunished in our banking and financial services industry. Why is that so?

    On taxation: ‘The second demand on free enterprise is to pay some tax to provide for common services’. I saw a piece on the news where a senior tax inspector admitted that they would very often only go for the easy targets, rather than those companies who owed a lot, but could afford a plethora of tax lawyers to find ever more inventive ways of getting out of paying. 3 1/2 years in to the coalition, one would reasonably expect that to be a thing of the past, as with the absence of proper border controls.

    So much work still to do, so little time to do it. The differences could already have been made, and people generally might have been much more comfortable with the nation’s direction. Although they might sound similar, there is a very big gap in the meaning of the words ‘diligent’ and ‘dilatory’.

    Tad

  19. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Re “Common Services”, welfare in general, and the NHS in particular, is an infinite sink. It will always be possible to make many a good case as to why more should be spent on this, that and the other. And as there never will be an infinite source it will always have to be matters of judgement.

    Debate and judgment on the particular needs to be made in the context of allocation of resources.

  20. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Re “border controls”, irrespective of the merits and demerits of those wishing to come the fact remains that the UK is a fixed landmass. There is only so much room, and that room has to be shared with all the other species we need, both animals and plants.

    Ten years ago I thought a human population of 60,000,000 was more than enough, ever more makes no sense from both the UK point of view and globally.

    By the way, a Radio 4 programme in the last week broadcast a debate on UK migration where the two most right-wing advocates were introduced as of the LEFT! The point I make above did not get a mention.

    • kenneth r moore
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Indeed we have already gone beyond optimum population levels. Listing what I think are some of the significant problems that face us:-

      – Housing shortages
      – Hospital waiting lists and poor treatment outcomes
      – Class sizes in schools too big
      – Transport problems – lack of road and rail capacity
      – Lack of social cohesion in our cities and high crime levels this causes
      – The rise of previously eradicated diseases
      -Unemployment of young people and lack of opportunitys
      -Water shotages in drought periods in the SE
      -Energy security and cost
      – Unaffordable pension liability’s

      I can’t see how any of these problems can be alleviated by keeping the borders open.

  21. The PrangWizard
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t quite know how to get a start on this but I cannot resist having a go at your statement ‘The issue between the Conservatives and the two main left of centre parties’ . My impression is that the Conservative Party is left of centre too. Voices who do believe in a free market seem in the minority. I have no idea where the PM stands.

    For example, in a big subject, the Party really should be speaking out convincingly against ‘regulation’ which should be confined to the absolute minimum. Regulation should not be about how many electricity tariffs a company has, or how it displays information on its bills. It seems to have a virtually unquestioned acceptance. It should not be considered a norm, it just enables a bigger and bigger state. And lets’s face it it doesn’t work; it creates problems. More regulations, more inadvertent and unavoidable breaches and the need to redesign the business; more regulation, higher costs, and an anti-business atmosphere, accusations that business is trying to ‘get round’ the rules. If more regulation works why do we still have problems. Its hard to imagine that turning the clock back is possible any more.

    And why does a Conservative government believe State control of wages and employment law creates more wealth. If it worked why do we have so many businesses unable to pay the minimum wage and thus finding ways to pay less, in a free market they would pay what they could afford. Even with the minimum wages of course people still work for ‘poor employers’. The answer to that is not more regulation.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      If it worked why do we have so many businesses unable to pay the minimum wage and thus finding ways to pay less, in a free market they would pay what they could afford.

      Actually many supermarkets make billions in profits, so they could afford to pay minimum wage; however they don’t pay minimum wage because they want to make bigger profits. Expect this to be even worse in a free market where companies can charge as little as possible.

      • Edward 2
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        If you have proof many major supermarkets are breaking the law by not paying the minimum wage then I hope you will tell us who they are and do your legal duty of reporting them to the authorities.
        Unless you are making it up of of course Uni?

  22. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I do not see why both sides would not agree with that series of points. As you intimate the problem is how we achieve these propositions and how the finer detail is worked out.When the details are laid out will both the government in power and the individuals/companies stick to them. It breaks down to a matter of trust.

  23. majorfrustration
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    All great stuff Mr.R but come the last six months of this Parliament the politicos might get the message that they are so out of touch. Meanwhile, do carry on with the Tutorials.

  24. lojolondon
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Good article, John.

    Your first sentence is a key point – because the BBC is so socialist-biased in their outlook, the whole UK media is slanted, and this affects the way that people act and that politicians think. You only had to watch the Andrew Marr show this morning to see that – two ‘commentators’ on the papers, one a Labour MP and the other a BBC specialist, every bit of ‘news’ was selected for political reasons, lots of banging on about “climate change” to which AM himself added his own opinions, all from the Global warming propaganda angle.

    Second is your excellent point regarding the way the UK government ‘taxes on rich companies’ end up being stealthily taxes on the middle class.

    I use the west-coast line most weekdays. A day return to London with railcard costs over £44, apparently the highest price per mile of any rail trip in Europe (probably the world) and I could certainly hire a car, put fuel in the tank and drive there for less (only the congestion-charge-tax spoils the financial figures for a single driver during office hours).

    Now, if I get on a Virgin train, it consists of four ‘first-class’ and four ‘standard class’ coaches. The result is that the standard coaches are massively over-subscribed, at 6:30 in the morning there is a good chance you will stand for the entire journey, and in the evenings there is very little chance of getting a seat for most people.

    I saw that the ‘winner’ of the franchise for this line budgeted £5Billion for a ‘franchise fee’ to the government for the ‘right’ to run the service for the next contract period. Now, this is total garbage – we all know that that as part of it’s business plan that company will have to extract the costs of running the line plus a profit from commuters over the duration of the contract. Now add the £5Billion paid to the government plus interest, and there is no surprise our line is so expensive. The problem is that the bulk of the money goes to the government in the form of a hidden tax on commuters. If the BBC was honest this would be all over the news, but they are so socialist that they support the scheme wholeheartedly, and every time ticket prices rise we hear about the ‘improvements in services’ and the massive costs of running railways.
    The other effect is that the rail companies and government have become co-conspirators, in that every price increase is approved by the government, to keep the rail companies solvent and profitable as possible, ensuring the next franchise fee will be even larger.

    I believe there should be no such thing as a ‘franchise’ fee for railways, the contract should be awarded to the rail company that promises the lowest ticket prices while meeting service levels. Simples.

    PS – Look out for similar ‘deals’ everywhere – from the ‘green energy’ deals that are stifling our economy to the planned ‘water-shortage’ scam that was intended to increase the price of water for everyone in Britain, (to reduce usage and increase profits while covering up lack of investment in water infrastructure) only prevented by the floods that occurred since 2012 – see today’s ‘news’ for example : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-202817/UK-gets-water-shortage-warning.html

  25. Ludwig
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    An excellent summary of the case for the free market Mr. Redwood. Your fourth point is particularly important. Strong competition in the marketplace hands real democracy to the people as they can avoid misbehaving companies and it also favours the companies that provide good value for consumers’ money. The problems arise when well-meaning governments introduce more and more regulation that chokes SMEs in red tape and eliminates competition from the marketplace, allowing big business a free reign to behave as they like and penalising the consumer with higher prices. This point has not yet been recognised either by the Left in this country or the EU. The State must also stop interfering in other parts of the free market, such as the provision of in-work benefits that subsidises employers to pay low wages. As you rightly say, being a free marketeer doesn’t mean that one doesn’t care about people, but in fact it hands real power to people as consumers.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      The problems arise when well-meaning governments introduce more and more regulation that chokes SMEs in red tape and eliminates competition from the marketplace, allowing big business a free reign to behave as they like and penalising the consumer with higher price

      It is possible to have competition in markets with few SMEs.

      The State must also stop interfering in other parts of the free market, such as the provision of in-work benefits that subsidises employers to pay low wages.

      The state only did this because employers complained that they wouldn’t be able to pay their staff more money. Perhaps employers should think more carefully about the consequences of their actions.

  26. Gary
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Use common law set by precedent in courts throughout the land adjudicated by juries of our peers. Get govt out of the way, it is just a centralized, one-stop target for lobbyists, nepotists and leeches.

    If you are a free market proponent then you must also be for the free movement of labour. If you are not then you are a statist. You either have a free market or you don’t. To have a world class welfare system is to have a second class free market and the only way a welfare system can ultimately survive is to tax the free market.

    The Corporation of London has its own police force, so do many companies in the form of security. If they are all subject to common law I see no problem.

    If we have a true free market for money, the state as constituted ceases to exist. That is the ultimate giveaway that the state is hardly benevolent. On the contrary.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      “If you are a free market proponent then you must also be for the free movement of labour.”

      Not necessarily; and it is totally crass that the EU lumps “persons”, human beings, in with “goods”, “services” and “capital” for freedom of movement.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Use common law set by precedent in courts throughout the land adjudicated by juries of our peers.

      All of the common law is created by judges, not juries. Juries have no power to create common law.

      If we have a true free market for money, the state as constituted ceases to exist.

      So a free market destroyed democracy?

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    How much free enterprise is good for us?

    A lot, as much as possible; but nevertheless there are still some things which should not, in some cases can not, be left to free enterprise.

  28. BobE
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Parliment can be closed down as the civil service can carry out the laws directed at us from our masters in Brussels.
    That will save a lot of money.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Effectively it was closed down after the 2010 GE. I seem to remember that the lights did not go out, the economy did not go down the swany, and we were not invaded. But as soon as they get in, that’s when the trouble starts. Same thing happened in Belgium.

      And they think ‘we’ need them. Ha !

  29. Antisthenes
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    An excellent article and you put how I see what modern day Conservatism is all about far more eruditely and eloquently than I ever could which is perhaps not surprising. Yesterday an article was written that described you as being more of a 1850’s Liberal than a Conservative and perhaps there were elements in all three parties (four if you include UKIP which surely they must be for this exercise) that could congregate together and create a Liberal party with true liberal values.

    • zorro
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      I remember when MT was referred to as a ‘Manchester Liberal’ (almost) because of her views on free trade. I think that John may be more conservative in his social views than a Manchester Liberal would have been in a 21st century context as opposed to a 19th century one (if you see what I mean)….

      zorro

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    “The third constraint on free enterprise which some criticise me for supporting is to have border controls to limit the numbers entitled to come and live and work here. My main reason for this view is the existence of a decent welfare and benefits system.”

    That is not my main reason; my strongest objection is that this is my homeland, which I share with the rest of the existing body of citizens, and we have never been asked whether we wish to share our homeland with large numbers of people from abroad and to accept them as new citizens with the same rights and duties as ourselves; our country has been treated by politicians as if were their own private estate, where they could decide to bring in extra labour as they pleased without bothering to even wonder what we thought about it let alone actually ask us; what questions can be more important in a democracy than whether the citizens wish to expand their numbers through mass immigration, and if so by how many new citizens, so why are we never given the opportunity to express our views directly in a referendum?

    It could be structured along the lines of the opinion poll mentioned here:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2013/03/there-is-no-left-and-right-expect-in-political-imagination.html

    in which respondents were asked to choose one of a range of options for the maximum number of immigrants to be allowed each year; about 19% opted for no immigration at all, while about 6% opted for unlimited immigration, the median response being about 70,000 a year – that is to say, half of the respondents would think that 70,000 a year too high while half would think that it was too low.

    What could be fairer than that?

    • Timaction
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      This comment is spot on Denis. This is my homeland, my children’s and grandchildren’s as well. Some of my English ancestors gave their lives so that we could be free of the tyrannies of some in Europe and elsewhere during two world wars. Surviving as a free sovereign State, not under the jackboot of some foreign dictators.
      Our current politicians are only in temporary charge. However the existing legacy Parties have decided to give away without mandate our sovereignty and allow mass migration against the wishes of the indigenous people. This certainly has no benefits to us other than overcrowding and longer waits for public services (much like the EU).
      I get a feel that people out here in the real world are all talking about it and know their voting habits must change if we are to survive as a nation.
      Cameron on Marr this morning didn’t even think to mention this in the migration debate other than welcome those who wan to come here to work. Well we don’t!

    • Mark B
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Here, here Denis. Well said.

  31. peter davies
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Good article – totally agree. It shouldn’t take the brains of a scientist that in order to do these things you need a fully sovereign parliament free to shape laws and regulations as they see fit without having to continuously check for supra national compliance or to have things imposed on them against their wishes.

  32. Bazman
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Who are the socialists john? The City and the Tories it seems. Since the crash of 2008, British taxpayers have shelled out an incredible £1.2 trillion on bailing out and propping up the banks. Nearly five years on, the UK’s banking scandals seem never-ending. Money laundering, interest-rate rigging, product mis-selling, IT meltdowns, tax dodging, sanctions busting – few big names remain untainted. The Conservative Party gets over half its funding from City financiers. Behind closed doors, government ministers such as ex-banker Lord Sassoon, the Commercial Secretary, make no secret of where loyalties lie. Despite all this, the City continues to enjoy a cosy relationship with our politicians and policymakers. Its intense lobbying alongside big business has helped rewrite corporate tax laws in its favour and push back against new regulations designed to prevent another crisis and in one exchange witnessed by Spinwatch tells Angela Knight that the country owes here a gratitude! LOL! As if. This was the same day RBS crashed their computers in one of bankings biggest IT cock ups and a few days later the Libor scandal emerged. Now all you anti union workers and peoples right dreamers and fantasists need to have a think about you Socialist and communist fantasis for the rich and you blind support of them. The country is being run for the benefit of an elite who believe they should not be questioned and you all seem to approve of it. Like some sort of Neo serfs living in a financial aristocracy. Labour did indeed fall for their spin, but this is the Tories end game. Ram it.

    Reply The Conservatives do not receive donations from large quoted banks. It was a Labour government which bought shares in large banks, which I criticised at the time, preferring controlled administration as the correct response with depositor protection.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      RTR
      I think Baz said donations from financiers, not from banks themselves. Since the donations are tax deductible and these guys are employees of the banks, I think the logical bridge isn’t difficult to cross.

      Bazman – the banks, yes but also the public sector, where your description also holds true (IT cock-ups, service run for the producers not the customers). Both sectors could do with the shake-up they don’t get under Liblabcon.

      Reply They are not employees of the banks

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      “The country is being run for the benefit of an elite who believe they should not be questioned”

      Can’t argue against that, really, but unfortunately it’s not just one of the three old parties which goes along with it.

      Prawn cocktail, anyone?

    • Edward 2
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      All caused by save the world Gordon and his hugely expensive and unnecessary panic fuelled bail out and nationalisation decisions of failed nanls which you bizarrely are now trying to blame the current coalition for Baz.
      I suggest you copy your rant and sent it off to Labour HQ for their response instead.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        We covered that one. Labour are to blame for believing their lies, greed and fantasy. The banking system could never have covered the savers by the insurance scheme which it isn’t. The would have been overwhelmed and you seriously thing the average person would have stood for this? Their would have quite rightly been civil unrest to say the least. The scandals go on and on PPI was nothing less than fraud, they have been convicted of money laundering and you laughable still believe the banks would have covered it? Never. They would have just ripped off the savers and investors and left the government to sort out the streets blaming the public for lawlessness which would have been ironic.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          Its forgotten that all deposits were covered up to £35,000 per account per person per bank.
          This would have covered the deposits of nearly everyone.
          The Government could have also moved to increase this amount and had the Bank of England also move to reassure depositors that their money was completely safe, calm would have broken out.
          There were many successful banks waiting in the wings to take over these failed banks just as happens every day in the world when companies fail.
          But its too late now, the strong nationalising instincts of Gordon have cost us many billions more than we would ever have had to spend otherwise.
          Your other points about lawlessness and PPI scandals are red herrings which can and have been dealt with under the laws that already apply.

          • Bazman
            Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            You seriously believe that is how it would have turned out? Don’t forget the big business modus operandi in particular banking. What can we get away with? How long for? What will be the consequences if caught? The system would have been overwhelmed by a run on the banks and the banks then calling in loans to pay for it. Maybe even your mortgage on some jumped up charge or the like. Collapsing everything. The whole lot would have then been bought by the Chinese in a fire sale, but, what the F*(&?. They knew that they would get the bail outs, because they would put the blame firmly at the Governments feet.
            Any other scenario is just deluded..

    • Mark B
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Bazman

      We do not often agree, but on the subject of Bankers’ I am right behind you. We should have done what little Iceland did. Liquidate the banks, and lock up the bankers. No question ! No doubt !

      What was done (by Labour) was to reward failure. That is not Capitalism as I understand it, and where I do disagree with you, is on the subject that the Labour Government took their ‘spin’. Labour also took their money and, a former Prime Minister now works for Goldman Sachs.

      The Labour Party that you see today, is a far cry from the one of Ramsey MacDonald and, one of my favorite Prime Minsters’, Clement Attlee. Those men were Socialist, but they lived in a time of real poverty, and danger to our nation. They were patriots and Christian in their belief’s and I believe they truly cared for this country and its people. Can’t say the same today of the current crop, can you ? Please feel free to disagree.

      (reference to 2 other named people removed ed) So I am not sure what you mean by the rest of your post and right-wing politics, and whether it applies to me. You by now must know my view and indeed, my politics.

    • peter davies
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I remember you stating that John, emergency loans with specified repayment terms would surely have been the best option

    • zorro
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – John, don’t be naughty…. This is what Bazman said….’The Conservative Party gets over half its funding from City financiers…’

      This what you said in your reply…. ‘The Conservatives do not receive donations from large quoted banks’….. They don’t…but they do receive funding from ‘city financiers’ don’t they….?

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraphtv/10171330/Tory-party-received-25m-from-hedge-funds.html

      zorro

      Reply I was dealing with the suggestion that Conservatives benefitted from large banks who in turn had been bailed out by taxpayers – that is clearly untrue, and it was Labour who wrongly bailed them out by buying shares. The Conservatives do receive donations from profitable entrepreneurial financial businesses that do not need bailing out.

      • zorro
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        I questioned this so that Bazman didn’t have cause for complaint with regards to what was meant by city financiers.

        zorro

  33. zorro
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Very reasonable post John…..Taking one of the points on immigration…..We cannot have unlimited immigration and have a generous welfare state. Libertarians might rightly say that there should be free movement of workers, but this needs to be between countries with similar economies and social systems or no welfare system. This is not the case with Romania and Bulgaria or other EU countries or aspirant members.

    zorro

    • JoeSoap
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes and even Cameron realises this now, when it is too late. Somehow he has got us into the position where we could be swamped with EU immigrants in the next 2-3 years and there is no plan for how to pay or deal with their needs. He doesn’t have any estimate for how many will arrive, so obviously has no idea of the budget and infrastructure required. There is no Plan A, let alone plan B.

      You get the feeling watching and listening to this man that he is a long way behind the curve.

      • zorro
        Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, one might get the impression that, if it doesn’t affect him, he is unlikely to care/think much about it.

        zorro

  34. lifelogic
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    David Cameron today “I do think that when you make these very clear public promises you should keep them” – how can he say this with a straight face? Yes sure Pinocchio, and what about the Cast Iron one and the £1Million IHT threshold promises. Needless to say no sensible questioning on these by the Lefty but unpleasantly subservient Andrew Marr. Does Cameron really think anyone will believe him this time surely he is not that daft?

    He even refused to confirm that he would not abolish or means test free travel, TV licences and winter fuel allowance next term so even that promise may well die too. Not that Cameron will be in power anyway.

    He further refused to confirm he would pull out of the EU if his negotiation failed (has he even decided what he even wants yet)! Clearly he has not got a clue about how to negotiate anything, you do not start by accepting defeat and throwing in the towel.

    Big deal on pension he promises they will roughly keep pace with inflation so he will not cut them (but might well means test them or make them start at age 85).

    • zorro
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      ‘… you do not start by accepting defeat and throwing in the towel’…. Tell that to Cast Elastic Dave… He sounds like a winner….not.

      zorro

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      Did not see MR C on Andrew Marr.

      But on the Fairness of Pensions Subject.

      Is it fair that having paid more than 39 years contributions, I get the State pension rate as it is now, but will not qualify for the enhanced standard rate State Pension due to be bought in, in a couple of years time, that will apply to those who have only to pay 30 years contributions.

      Why not give everyone the same standard pension rate, and make the system far more simple in the process !.

      Indeed to make the whole process far more cost effective, why not make it 40 years contributions, to get a full pension entitlement.

      Given we are supposed to be short of money, why were the number of contribution years reduced to 30 years from 39 years in the first place.

  35. John B
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I stopped agreeing with you after your first paragraph about contraints on free enterprise, when you sfopped spunding like a Conservative and started sounding like a Socialist, albeit in part reluctant.

    If you ‘accept’ that healthcare payment and provision is best provided by a State monopoly Mr Redwood, then you can have no argument for all goods and services being provided by a State monopoly.

    Those who worry about ‘those in need’ should organise among themselves and pay their money in this cause. It is easy to be generous, virtuous and compasssionate when you can stick others with the bill. The State should not be a central charity forcing donations out of the citizenry for its good causes, not least because it is the least inefficient way to bring the right help to the right people, and serves the motives of those distributing the largesse not the doners or recipients.

    Free enterprise cannot pay taxes… only people pay taxes. Taxes other than income tax paid as a result of enterprise falls in some proportion on those who risk their capital, those who provide their labour and those who consume the produce… it is recognised that workers bear at least half of this tax. There should be no taxation on free enterprise.

    The effect, and success, of free enterprise is it ensures best, not always perfect, allocation of resources and that includes labour.

    It is in the interest of those who risk their capital and those who consume, that costs are kept at their lowest. The payroll is the biggest, controlable expense for enterprise. The cost of labour is determined by its supply and demand and also the value it adds to production.

    Limit cheap immigrant labour if you like, but if cheap labour cannot come to the site of production, then production will go to the site of the labour, or if it stays labour will be capitalised, wages rates will be restrained, jobs will not be created in the first place.

    If enterprise cannot minimise labour costs, then things cost more or don’t get produced and consumers are the poorer.

    All politicans need to be made to write out 500 times before breakfast: the sole purpose of production is consumption… not to provide jobs, not to provide taxes for ‘schools and hospitals’.

    The economy is now globalised as never before, and has only just got started.

    Free movement of labour is essential for widespread economic growth: limiting cross border labour is as stupid as limiting movement of labour from Northumberland to the South of England.

    If the argument is immigrant labour is putting a burden on the public services, clearly that just shows there is a problem with the way they are paid for and provided…privatise them.

    I note the other day you said that the Single Market had destroyed jobs implying this was a bad thing, but that is precisely what a single market should do. In properly working markets jobs should be destroyed to release the labour resource for better employment elsewhere. Of course in a properly working market new jobs should be being created too.

    The thing is, it cannot be planned what jobs, where, how and when that destructive creation will occur.

    The problem we have is the political class believe they can command and control markets, economy and even tbe weather in a hundred years time.

    I find it depressing reading what you write Mr Redwood, as you are supposedly a Conservative who really should understand, not least what the word ‘free’ means, but that you see free enterprise, or free markets, must be correctly regulated in order for them to work properly… properly being your version of what their outcome should be… rather than their sole purpose being to produce the good and services that make us all richer.

    Conservatism has these days become Socialism Lite. Proper Socialism is wrong, but if we just apply it a little bit, in an enlightened way to help ‘those in need’ it will all work out OK.

    Well it doesn’t work any better than the real thing… which is why we are where we are.

    The simple fact is, we cannot as a society go on believing we can have whatever we want and live off everyone else, and that a small group of politicians are capable of collecting and processing enough knowledge quickly enough to decide what is best.

    Laissez faire!

    Reply Do you accept that for a free enterprise society to flourish there needs to be a rule of law, defence of property rights etc? Does there not need to be a means of protecting the weak and getting the less successful at market competition to buy into the settlement?

    • lifelogic
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      To reply:- of course these (& competition laws and a system of defence) are needed but not much else – and 20% of GDP is more than enough to cover it all easily.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      What John B highlights is that, as things currently stand, the UK is a large square peg, trying to fit in a small round hole, and your only solution is to nibble and hack at the edges whist pretending its still a large square peg. Lunacy personified.

      Government has caused, mostly trying to do good, many of the problems we now find ourselves in, and just seems to be ducking the main problems and leaving it to someone else, who, will just do the same.

      The ‘SYSTEM’ is totally dysfunctional and self destructing. We need to think again, we need to change the ‘SYSTEM’.

    • kenneth r moore
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      “Limit cheap immigrant labour if you like, but if cheap labour cannot come to the site of production, then production will go to the site of the labour, or if it stays labour will be capitalised, wages rates will be restrained, jobs will not be created in the first place”.

      So I won’t be able to get my car washed and polished for 50p anymore and there will be less choice in take away food. Oh dear how terrible !!.

      Car washing, take away food provision, cheap plumbers, farm labourers etc. ..how is this sort of ‘production’ going to move to other labour markets if we don’t embrace open borders?. Much of these jobs are cash in hand or the money goes out of the country so what is the benefit?

      Free movement of labour is essential for widespread economic growth: limiting cross border labour is as stupid as limiting movement of labour from Northumberland to the South of England”

      Why is it stupid to limit migration of labour from low to high wage territories when we have a finite supply of road space, housing etc. To pretend that there is no link between population size and standard of living is stupid. We have already exceeded the population at which the people in the South East feel comfortable.
      God help us if the market alone is left to decide the optimum population size of the UK..but that is what is likely to happen!!

      Agree with what you say though about Conservatism being Socialist lite

    • uanime5
      Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      It is in the interest of those who risk their capital and those who consume, that costs are kept at their lowest. The payroll is the biggest, controlable expense for enterprise. The cost of labour is determined by its supply and demand and also the value it adds to production.

      So basically you want the employees who are helping to make the employer money to be paid as little as possible because it’s better for the business. Don’t expect the employer to get a good return if their employees keep leaving for better jobs elsewhere.

      If enterprise cannot minimise labour costs, then things cost more or don’t get produced and consumers are the poorer.

      How are the consumers going to afford these products if they’re paid a pittance by their employers? You can’t have consumption if no one can afford to consume.

      If the argument is immigrant labour is putting a burden on the public services, clearly that just shows there is a problem with the way they are paid for and provided…privatise them.

      Given that privatisation didn’t make the water, rail, and energy industries any better I doubt that privatising healthcare will help either.

  36. forthurst
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Is there a place for organisations which are neither under civil service/quango/minsterial control but are not primarily concerned with wealth creation? Our best schools come into this category. In healthcare, the public sector has almost squeezed out the private sector; the quality of healthcare is very variable. The primary resource of the NHS are doctors; why is it then that many appropriately qualified English people are unable to obtain entry to an English medical school; why has it been that qualifying English doctors have been unable to get training places and permanent positions in our hospitals and have been obliged to emigrate? Why are such a high proportion of doctors working in the NHS, foreign ‘trained’. Why does the GMC blacklist a few foreign medical schools whose standards are manifestly poor rather than the corollary, bearing in mind that the third world does necessarily have the resources to train adequately for first world medical practice?

    A problem with publicly funded organisations is that they can both become infiltrated and controlled by those with a subversive agenda, but also lack competition which could drive them to extinction when they are manifestly failing; such is the NHS; such is the BBC. A publicly-funded not-for-profit NHS should not be written off until it has been proven to fail after it has been entirely localised as with Victorian charitable hospitals and with English qualified doctors controlling them and performing the majority of the care.

    By the same token that private industry should be subject to the criminal law such as to deter and punish bankster fraud (ho hum) in order to remain effectively serving the public good, public institutions as well as ministers should be subject to a criminal law of treason, so that those who are seek to use their positions to subvert our institutions and culture and promote the interests of foreigners can be incarcerated as well.

  37. Chris S
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Everything you say, John, is broadly OK with me except the section on the NHS

    I have never supported the principle of it being free at the point of use. Any service that is perceived as “free” is not valued by the customer and the staff think they are doing the patients a favour by treating them.

    You only have to look the way teachers view parents in the state system to confirm that’s true.

    If users had to pay and reclain treatment costs under an insurance scheme they would be far more critical of standards which would see them improve and the staff would have to treat them as valuable customers.

    I see that some GPs are currently suggesting a fee should be charged for a surgery visit. I think that would certainly ensure that time wasters were kept away from surgeries.

    It’s a big change and it would take a brave PM to introduce it but in the long run its probably going to be the only way of keeping costs and services under control.

    If nobody is prepared to implement this change, at the very least prescriptions should state the actuals cost of the items and there should be a sign in every surgery waiting room and reception area stating the cost per patient appointment for the previous year.

    Similarly, when you are discharged from hospital you should receive a “bill” stating the full cost of your treatment.

    It is completely ludicrous that anyone not entitled to NHS care is treated without prior payment. No Private sector employer would tolerate that. If GPs had to account for the status of the patients they treat before getting paid for the work they would soon come round to the principle of charging those not entitled to free treatment.

  38. kenneth r moore
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Prophet Redwood,

    It’s almost futile discussing free enterprise with a Socialist as they will invariably deliberately attempt to misrepresent your position in order to make it easier to attack..or if that doesn’t work they will make nasty personal character attacks that have no relevance to the argument. Just ask Nadine Dorries.

    Conservative (brutal and uncaring who are only for the ‘rich’….Lib/lab..salt of the earth compassionate types) is the message we are drip fed daily from the BiasedBroadcastingCorporation.

  39. The PrangWizard
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I now hear that Milliband is spinning a story about forcing employers to pay the minimum wage as an immigrant workers issue – ‘closing a loophole’, giving the impression it will reduce the number of them. It seems that agency workers can obtain a longer term contract in exchange for lower wages and he says he wants this stopped.

    This attitude will put some employers here out of business as many of them are competing with lower wages abroad for the same product. He may succeed in lowering the number of immigrants simply because there will be no work for them to do, and no work for people here either of course. Quite the opposite of a free enterprise economy.

  40. uanime5
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Given that the Government is planning to replace hardship payments with loans it’s clear that the Government isn’t interested in helping the unfortunately but instead plans to exploit them by making them take out loans which will used to increase GDP levels. The UK will not recover while the Government is focusing on using debt to increase GDP, rather than improving the economy.

    http://rt.com/news/uk-welfare-local-families-161/

  41. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    There is the issue of the erosion of middle class differentials and the unfairness to single income households, which you haven’t really touched on. Let’s take two families, each with three children.

    Family A. The parents earn £20,000 each. Total after income tax is deducted is £36,000, each parent paying £2000 income tax. They receive full child benefit, annual value £2,450, boosting their income to £38,450. They have a youngish mortgage but live in the North East of England.

    Family B. One parent earns £60,000, the other is a home maker. Total after income tax is deducted is £45,000, the income tax bill being 20% of £30,000 + 45% of £20,000. They receive no child benefit. They have an equally young mortgage but they live in the Home Counties, so it costs them £500 a month more, or £6,000 a year more, effectively reducing their income to £39,000.

    Therefore, taking together the income tax, child benefit and mortgage differences, a difference in income of £20,000, as determined by the labour markets, has been narrowed to £550.

    You can do better. Try reducing the 45% income tax rate to 40%, raise the 40% threshold to £50,000, and pay child benefit for the first two children only. Pay it to all couples but make it taxable, applying the marginal income tax rate of the couple’s combined income.

    Twenty years ago, allowing for inflation, I was in the position of family B, but with four children, not three. The system that Tory Wets and LibDems have put in place would not get my vote.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Lindsay

      Along with many other measures that are also needed, I agree with your list of suggestions.

      We now have income traps caused by tax and benefits policy, instead of poverty traps.

      Certainly agree if child benefit is to be paid at all, that it is for everyone no matter how much they earn, also agree that it should be taxed at the earning income tax rate, as should any benefit that is paid.
      Also agree that it should be for the first two children only, or even better, one child per person with the benefit transfereable to a partner (two for a couple).

  42. JP Floru
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    As per usual I agree with virtually all John Redwood says…except with regards to the NHS.
    There are many public health systems in the world which provide for those in need in a much more satisfactory way than the UK’s all-state-NHS. The Singapore health savings accounts, for example. Or many continental European systems where the state pays for those who can afford it, with the others taking insurance, and the private sector providing the actual services.

  43. JP Floru
    Posted January 6, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    error in my previous article : should read : the state pays for those who can NOT afford it

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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