Soundbites and conventional wisdom challenged -themes of Speaker’s lecture

 

Some of the foundations of modern UK political arguments are absurd spin that does not stand up to any intelligent analysis, yet passes for political debate.

Take the often repeated phrase that divided parties do not get elected to government! The Thatcher Conservative party had a long running battle between Wets and Dries, with endless briefing against the Prime Minister,  yet it won three elections in a row. The Blairite Labour party was scarred by a permanent public feud between the Chancellor and the PM, with the party split three ways between the left, the Blairites and the Brown followers. They found plenty to disagree about but also won three times.

Or take the ridiculous statement that if we try to negotiate a new relationship with the EU or simply vote to leave, we will lose 3 million jobs. This is based on the crazy notion that overnight we would lose all our exports to the EU because they would want to stop all trade with us, yet they export far more to us than we export to them. The German Finance Minister has already said that if the UK leaves Germany would want and need trade arrangements so we could carry on trading as at present.

Then there is the strange notion that more and more matters of public policy, often very contentious, should be given to independent Agencies or panels of experts, as if they could somehow spirit away the genuine divisions of opinion and do a better job than accountable Ministers who have to listen to public opinion or lose their office.

I have dealt with the dangerous idea that a so called independent Central Bank can give us a stable economy with growth and low inflation. What part of the experience of the last eight years did people not understand? I have tried to explain again that you cannot have an independent Central Bank in a democracy.

I will also deal with the difference between leadership and followership, examining  how you can use opinion polls and media lobbying  intelligently to try to improve your understanding of the public debate and needs. Alternatively  you can slavishly follow them and end up with an erratic and often unsuccessful policy  based on the twists and turns of papers and media outlets seeking variety and novelty.

The lecture is being filmed so I will try to post it here afterwards.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Terry
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like fighting talk. Fighting for Britannia that is and it’s very welcome. In the 21st Century there is an acute shortage of esprit de corps and that is very dangerous for the future of a politically independent Britain.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Alas the battle is lost, by the time the UK gets rid of Miliband it will be far too late. Cameron has blown it with his pro EU ratting, tax borrow and piss down the drain, fake green politics. He gave the last election away and at the next one he will do even worse. I assume this was his intention when he feigned to be an EUsceptic and many were briefly taken in.

      All for lack of a simple compass that pointed clearly to lower taxes, much smaller government, far less EU, fewer regulations, fewer wars, freedom, fewer lawyers, sound currency and much cheaper no green crap religion energy.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        At least it seems the HS1-HS2 link has finally been scrapped it has already caused huge uncertainty and costs to millions & all for nothing. What sort of complete fools are in charge?

        This of course makes the rest of HS2 even less sensible (in as much as that is possible) so please can we scrap the rest of this absurdity now please. Thus lifting the blight for millions more.

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Independent agencies are job creation schemes brought about by persons who want a non independent outcome , or look at evidence after it has been viewed, doctored and scribed in a non independent way.
    I believe what you are saying about central independent banks can also be applied to the above.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Indeed when socialist dopes like Cameron, Major, Heath lead the Tories in totally the wrong direction they always lose elections badly. Then all they can say in defence is “divided parties do not get elected to government”. But the party was divided because it was being led over the cliff in the wrong direction by a dope.

    Heath only won one election, Major one (but only as Thatcher man then the public quickly sussed him out and buried the party for three terms). Cameron has yet to win one and surely never now will. Thatcher won 3 (four if you count the one with Major as her man). Without Heseltine, Major, Clarke, Howe and the politically idiotic poll tax she would clearly have won four in her own name. Even she was rather too much to the big state, pro EU, fake green & anti grammar school left too in reality.

    You win elections with policies that work not green crap, more idiotic EU and an ever bigger and more parasitic government.

    • Hope
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      This is where you might be going wrong in your thought process. You are assuming Cameron is making these policy decisions rather than the EU. However, it is in Cameron’s gift to show his back bone and true identity and make the auk a sovereign independent nation and tells the EU to get stuffed.

      We witness very day Ashton talking about the Crimea legitimacy, democracy etc and this from a person who was not elected into her position and does not speak for those she purports. Why should the Ukraine turn its back on Russian communism for EU communism? I think the latte has more legitimacy than the latter. Still no mention from Cameron why it is okay for the EU to take ove contries like Italy and Greece without holding elections, they did everything stop elections, yet condemn the one in the Crimea! And support a revolutionary government that ousted and elected one!

      After all the ratting on taxing us, it is reported Osborne thinks people want to be in the higher rate tax band as it makes them look successful. Time for these dimwits to go. Miliband is not a threat compared to these looney tunes.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Indeed.

        Osborne is clearly as daft as a brush, what a very stupid thing to say. Even if you earn £200,ooo PA in London you only end up with about half of it and that is hardly enough to enable you to buy a small house after child care, getting to work, council tax, parking, the car, tv tax, national insurance, heating, clothes for the family, food and one holiday ……… No chance of paying any school fees from it, even with only one child.

        The 40% tax band coming in after only 32k taxable income is totally absurd. All this so that the government can just piss it away on HS2, absurd wind energy, PV, electric cars, pointless wars, the EU, augmenting the feckless, ‘equality’ and countless 150% overpaid parasites.

        • margaret brandreth-j
          Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          The point is if there were more people on F/T salaries , instead of trying to accommodate everyone, plus more workers coming in from abroad, on a low wage or P/T hours, then there would be people in the wage bracket to buy houses and get the market growing again.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Surely leader ship is about having a working compass and getting the government to follow you. The latter without the former (Cameron, Major, Heath, Bliar, Brown, Miliband) is surely the worst of all Worlds.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Notice what these people have in common? They are all men…………

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        They also, I am fairly sure, lack a science degree, scientific mind or any competent numeracy, sound morality & common sense.

        • Hope
          Posted March 19, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

          And a pair!

  5. Mark B
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Once again I find myself, mostly, in agreement.

    Both the Conservative and Labour Governments had the benefit of a totally unelectable opposition. Remember the, “Longest suicide note in history” ?

    The Major Government lost office partly because of divisions, partly because of sleaze, but mostly because of the economic damage it wrought trying to follow the Euro dream.

    The Conservative party has never won a GE since, and probably never will.

    You are right to say no Central Bank can be truly independent of Government but, it can and should, be independent of the executive.

    Quango’s and the like do not good government make. Just ask the people of Somerset.

    It is very difficult for politicians, especially those in high office to get the balance right between various interests. We should, in the wake in all this climate sudo-science, be very weary of false scientific profits foretelling of doom. Especially if they have their hands out stretched, begging bowl in hand.

    I look forward to your speech. Good luck.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Why is it that in the past 70 years or so we have seen massive gains and improvements in almost every aspect of human comfort, health, living conditions, wealth and comfort that so many still predict the future will be all doom, gloom and a firery Hell on earth?

      Could there perhaps be some monetary advantage to this type of religion, as usual with religions? Or is it just pre-progammed by genes into the human mind (usually it seems together with the socialist genes soon to be discovered and perhaps even who knows cured)?

  6. Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I have always regarded the passing of matters of public policy to Agencies or panels of “experts” as a way for politicians to avoid making a decision, and pass the blame when the policy comes under fire.
    It’s much the same with the Civil Service and their use of “consultants” or “favoured contractors”. If I’d had a fiver for every time I’ve heard the phrase “we took the best possible advice” when something went wrong, I’d be a millionaire by now!

  7. oldtimer
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I welcome your comment on the way powers have been passed to “experts”. Like the transfer of powers to the EU, this often is little more than an abdication of ministerial responsibility for whatever the “experts” decree. Even more sinister, these “experts” often are fortified by their membership of institutions, protected by laws and therefore totally impervious to public opinion and not required to use their judgement on any wider public interest beyond their defined remit.

    Just as we have crony capitalists, so we have crony experts. It is shocking to realise that the democratic accountability of ministers has been legislated away in the past fifty years and by the minsters themselves, aided and abetted by MPs.

  8. Iain Gill
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I find most disturbing the way the whole political class of all the main parties decides on something, and then just convinces itself that the public are wrong when the public continually complain about the policy from the parties. And the parties claim to have differences, but when you look at the substance they are all pretty much the same. Its like that with immigration, we the public are not allowed a say as the political class have decided on open doors in all but name and talk down to us as if we are stupid.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, had the public had much of a say we would not be in the EU, not have had the Millennium dome, the Olympic costs, the Iraq & Afghan wars, HS2, the EURO, the ERM, the expensive greencrap energy ……

  9. matthu
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    More conventional wisdom: when you are heading straight towards a cliff edge, that is NOT the moment to slow down and consult your passengers – just in case you cause uncertainty.

  10. Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    JR claims “you cannot have an independent Central Bank in a democracy.” Strange that, because there must be a good billion people in this world who regard themselves as living in a democracy and as having a central bank. Still, I await JR’s explanation of his novel idea.

    But I’m 90% sure I know what he’s going to say however. He’ll claim that having the central bank decide on economic stimulus necessarily interferes with strictly political decisions like what proportion of GDP is allocated to public spending. That argument is easily demolished.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I see the lecture is being broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday at 21:00.

  12. Roger Farmer
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    If you can all find the time, sit back and listen to Daniel Hannan’s lecture in Melbourne Australia. It neatly sums up the disastrous path that Heath, Major, Blair, Brown , Clegg, and Cameron have led us on since the 1970’s. It is on his website today.
    Having looked at Cameron’s re-negotiation headlines I would suggest that from all the noises coming out of Brussels they are none starters. They are in direct conflict with a federal united states of Europe, and there is no way that Brussels will willingly throw into reverse the constant stream of legislation that comes to us daily. Cameron must know this, so I contend that he has been totally dishonest in suggesting that it can be done, and the promise of a referendum is pure subterfuge.
    The only way forward is via Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is the only way Europe will realise that we are serious.

  13. Richard1
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Excellent if you can post a video. Technology should allow for most speeches to be recorded and posted without cost or inconvenience. I think many of us would appreciate being able to see your speeches and debates by this means.

  14. Posted March 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    Reading through this latest post it struck me that Tony Benn would have agreed with every word of it! I hope you take that as a compliment.

    The many tributes to Tony Benn usually included the words “although I didn’t agree with him” , or similar, but I’m not sure that’s really true. No-one can agree with everything and I would have disagreed with him on nuclear power. for example, but many of Tony Benn’s ideas would find general acceptance right across the political spectrum.

  15. Thelma Squire
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Well done J R. Sadly you are one of the few.

  16. uanime5
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Agencies can be useful if they’re competent and the minister listens to their advice. For example the DWP’s decision to award the Universal Jobmatch contract to Monster was sensible because Monster has a created a good job searching website. How the Universal Jobmatch ended up being greatly inferior to Monster is unlikely to be the sole fault of this company and is likely to be due to poor decisions made by the DWP.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      U5 said;
      “Agencies can be useful if they’re competent and the minister listens to their advice.”

      Agencies are private companies and their primary concern is to their shareholders. They are hardly likely to give advice that may cost them money and save the taxpayer.

  17. Losttheplot
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    How very true the UK is like a rudderless ship in troubled waters. Not a fag paper difference between the executive officers all believing in their own hype with no real concerns for the crew. Too much time hiding behind behind useless green policies and still bowing to their European masters which they believe will be the panacea for all their ills

  18. Robert Taggart
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Once again – in recent days – the ghost of ‘Wedgy’ Benn comes to mind…
    He classed politicos as being one of two types – Signposts or Weathervanes.
    The former – know their own minds, know which direction they wish to steer and know the destination they wish to arrive at.
    The latter – want to know what most other people think, be uncertain as to where they stand and have only vague notions where this will take them.
    The fact that ‘Wedgy’ was one of the former, albeit, pointing in the wrong direction – at least made for more interesting debate !
    Johnny – methinks you be one of the signposts – just unfortunate Cameo has ‘yellowbelly’ ‘back seat drivers’ giving him alternative directions !

  19. Posted March 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    The problem is not just with central banking but with a monopoly on fractional reserve banking which central banking invariably entails. The market would quickly eliminate over-leveraging of this sort were there to be no central banks.

  • 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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