This website and elections

Now that the local and European elections are behind us I am going to become tougher over what I allow people  to post on this site. In the long run up to the General Election on May 7th 2015 I wish this site to continue to be independent. I pay for it out of my own income. It is not an official Conservative party site, nor is it an MP’s website funded by the taxpayer. I will not post any item which is blatantly party political and has in it a exhortation to vote for a particular party, or which rubbishes people from other parties in the hope of gaining party advantage. There are plenty of other sites that do this, and the best place to promote your own party is on one of its own approved websites. I will no longer edit pieces to protect their authors from possible libel or retaliation for remarks hurtful to particular groups, religions and institutions – I will instead simply delete the whole comment as it takes too much of my time to check it out or amend it.

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48 Comments

  1. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Fair enough, JR, it is your website and you have always been generous in allowing critics to voice their sometimes very strong opinions. For the next year I shall take care to adopt the role of a dispassionate, and completely non-partisan, observer of events.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. A fair post and policy from Dr John Redwood. I, for one, have never questioned editing or non-posting of my comments (not that I think that’s ever happened)

      Thanks for a great forum, Dr JR

  2. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    JR, please could you clarify the facts around the block opt-out from EU Justice and Home Affairs measures which the UK could exercise by Sunday June 1st?

    This has dragged on and with so many other matters drawing my attention have I missed Theresa May putting in the notice that the UK is exercising that opt-out?

    If so all those measures including the EU Arrest Warrant will cease to apply to the UK on December 1st, so is she now into the phase of deciding whether to opt back in?

    Reply I have asked about this. I suspect the government plans to put something to Parliament just before the summer break, but I have no official information. They will need Parliamentary approval should they wish to surrender any powers.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      But today is the latest date on which she can notify the Council that the UK is exercising its block opt-out, and if she hasn’t done that then there won’t be any question of whether or not we should opt back in, we’ll stay in anyway.

      Reply I think we have already done the opt out part.

  3. Narrow shoulders
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    That seems entirely reasonable.

    Will there be an entry indicating the poster’s entry has been deleted so we know that it is happening and who the miscreant posters are?

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I see that Merkel has changed her tune about having Juncker as the next President of the EU Commission:

    http://euobserver.com/eu-elections/124420

    This is how it is being spun in Germany:

    “One thing is clear: Europeans want Juncker to become EU president. Schulz has the second-best result. A third person, someone who didn’t stand for election, should not get the job. Otherwise democracy turns into a farce. Maybe that was possible in the [east German] DDR or in right-wing nationalist banana republics. But not in the EU,” wrote Matthias Doepfner, the CEO of Axel Springer publishing house to which Bild belongs.”

    It’s an interesting idea that “Europeans want Juncker to become EU president”, when the majority of people in the EU would be hard put to even say who he is, and only 43% of those eligible to vote in the EU Parliament elections chose to do so, and only about a quarter of those who voted, or say 10% of the total eligible electors, cast their votes for national parties affiliated to the federalist European People’s Party, and in most cases without having any knowledge of that affiliation:

    http://www.results-elections2014.eu/en/election-results-2014.html

    A more accurate statement might be:

    “Only a very tiny minority of Europeans have any clear view on who they would want to become EU president, but of that very tiny minority slightly more would prefer Juncker to Schulz”.

    but of course that would strip away the veneer of democracy which the EU Parliament decided to apply and expose the EU as being little better than the DDR.

    And, NB, Cameron does not have a veto on this appointment:

    “For Juncker to become commission president, he needs a ‘qualified majority’ of member states, with bigger countries having a greater say. The UK alone, even if backed by Sweden, the Netherlands and Hungary, would not have enough votes to block the move.”

  5. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I actually don’t know how you manage every day. When I write a diary it is for my eyes only,although at one point in my life I simply could not write any more . The problem is John if we are to write about politics, religion and society in general there is always someone who is going to be offended.Remember when as British people at a dinner party we were always advised to talk about the weather to avoid any unpleasantness and the males afterwards talked in a smoke room whilst they looked at the ‘ dirty washing’. There is of course a way of making a point which circumvents the problem and looks at it laterally. Is this freedom?

    Personally I have been glad when you scrubbed a comment that may offend , although to my knowledge it has only happened twice in the last years, yet sometimes things have to be said.

    Nevertheless John I am grateful that you have included us in your personal thoughts and it has been a pleasure meeting you and others on this website. Thank you for your time.

  6. Cheshire Girl
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoy reading and sometimes commenting on your website. I will try to keep any comments within a reasonable tone, short, and not post more than once on any one subject. I realise the need for some rules, and hope this will be ok.

  7. Martyn G
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    John,
    I have to say that I agree with the stance you are taking at this time. Hopefully it will enable users/readers to write/read pertinent, non-partisan comments to add depth (or not!) to the discussion.

  8. Posted May 31, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    You have a perfect right to censor comment on your privately funded web-site.

    The criteria you suggest you will use, banning comment which may offend, makes the comment facility only appropriate for those who wish to endorse your own views. Perhaps that is what the comment function is designed to achieve.

    I have understood the opportunity to comment is meant to invite contrary views to those which you express, provided they appear in reasonable and civilised language.

    I aim to make my comments on any blog in a civilised manner, but that is not to say that such language should fail to be forthright and clear in its terms.

    On your posting on the recent elections, I made such a comment, to which you replied. I submitted a reply to your reply, since I felt your response was lacking adequacy on some points. I further asked you a direct question about a seeming inconsistency in your words and actions. That reply of mine has not appeared on the site. Is that because the content has caused offence? Is it because you choose not to answer the question?

    If you do not wish to see any comment of an adverse nature on your posts, you might follow the policy of The Daily Telegraph and make comment impossible.

    John Wrake.

    Reply Try reading what I said. I have never sought to stop opposing views and will not do so in the future.

    • Posted June 1, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      I do have to say that Mr Redwood has been very fair in allowing some of my comments which he disagrees with.
      I’ll be making the case that Labour’s austerity policies are just as bad as the Conservative Parties austerity policies! Neither are quite as bad as the austerity policies imposed by the Troika in the Eurozone. These are the root cause of the EZ’s very high unemployment problems which in turn cause the UK to have immigration problems.
      So therefore as the Tories are offering an EU referendum and Labour look like they are not, I will be suggesting that it makes sense for the Tories to offer an olive branch to those on the centre left to break the habits of a lifetimes and vote Tory.
      National interest has always to come before party interest.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Well, the mass movement from Poland et al to this country was before the eurozone crisis, and it was driven not as much by high unemployment as by the great disparity in living standards when the economies of those countries had not recovered from half a century of communism.

        • Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Polish unemployment was about 20% in the early years of the millenium. More like 50% for the young. So naturally any young Polish person who had some initiative would have done, at least figuratively, what Norman Tebbitt had suggested and got on their bike to look for work if they couldn’t find it at home.

          You can’t separate living standards from levels of unemployment. Within the UK itself it is easy to see that the areas of high unemployment also have lower living standards -even for those who are in work.

          There’s many people of Polish, Greek, Spanish etc origin in the UK .

          What’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. Except when the movement of people is predominantly one-way. That does cause problems and I don’t believe I’m being racist in acknowledging that.

  9. acorn
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    What are we going to argue about then? Like it or not JR, you are a senior Conservative Party politician. You are a Rt Hon; a Privy Council member. The mainstream media is never going to consider you “independent” of the Conservative Party. Anything you say on this site will be taken down and used in evidence against; er, whomever is next to be publicly humiliated.

    I must admit, that having studied Macroeconomics in my semi-retirement for the last five years, I have drifted to the left of your brand of laissez-faire; neo-liberal economics. N’mind, I would still be privileged to buy you a drink, should we meet.

    But; just saying; should you happen to read Warren Mosler’s great little book “Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy” and Frank E. Newman’s “Six Myths that Hold Back America”; AND, you had a little bit of a “Road to Damascus” conversion, perhaps we could think about starting a new movement?

  10. Mark B
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    You forgot about those who post on other matters totally unconnected with that with which you wish to discuss.

    If off-topic, please say so. And state a reason why. Not all off-topics tuff is bad, but some do rather over do it.

    Sorry for the moan.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      “You forgot about those who post on other matters totally unconnected with that with which you wish to discuss.”

      Dr JR may have made a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder, a distressing condition, particular for those who have to suffer from the patient’s bloviations, and decided an inability to stop reiterating the same off topic points, ad nauseam are not under effective motor control.

      • Posted June 1, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        You’ve hit the nail on the head.

        Anyone who reads this blog must come to the conclusion that most regular contributors don’t have a political view – they have a medical condition.

        It’s the same people saying the same thing – again and again and again . . . regardless of the topic.

        • margaret brandreth-j
          Posted June 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          To be honest that comment is offensive. John repeats the same thing over an over again. The words are changed around ,but the points are basically the same. The readers comments similarly reply in the context of how they can appreciate the problem. Although some show a tendency to focus too much , it is unfair to imply that they are ill. It is an abusive remark.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    JR: “I will not post any item which is blatantly party political and has in it a exhortation to vote for a particular party, or which rubbishes people from other parties in the hope of gaining party advantage.”
    That won’t leave you with much to say then over the next twelve months.

  12. JoeSoap
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Fair comment, so this means your posts too will not exhort readers to vote for a particular party, and will only discuss partisan ideas and independent comment without promotion of any particular party?
    Then you have a deal.

    Reply My posts have never recommended voting Conservative, and have only occasionally reproduced Ministerial statements of the government’s position when these are a necessary part of the debate. Their source is always clearly signalled.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks
      non-partisan meant, of course

  13. Bert Young
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Agreed with the discipline you are to impose – in fact , I’m surprised you have been so lenient in the past . The run up to the General Election is a sensitive time and I don’t see why anyone should take advantage of someone’s generosity and cause a level of abuse at the same time . Certainly it is my intention to toe the line .

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      Posting comments here isn’t without personal risk. Taking the time to come here and comment is generous (and sometimes brave) too.

      • David Price
        Posted June 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Not if it is done anonymously.

  14. matthu
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Presumably this is what we really mean by “libertarianism”: deleting free speech that may be hurtful to institutions.

    This is what is wrong with this country. Too keen to protect every institution from hurtful comment. There is even a European wide government that forbids its past employees from passing critical comment on pain of losing pension rights… and our own politcal parties would ideally like to go down the same path.

    Sorry, John. In the lead up to an election is exactly when you do need to allow fair criticism – even if it hurts.

  15. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    The hubbub at the back of the class has been getting out of hand again.

  16. Posted May 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    As a Conservative supporter I think you have been far too tolerant for too long !

    However I do hope you continue to allow supporters of other parties to make their own political points without overtly inciting others to vote in a particular way.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      In fact there was only one party political leader physically assaulted during the EU election campaign.

      He was also subject to a vicious smears from all angles.

      I’m unsurprised that Dr Redwood doesn’t wish for that sort of thing to happen. It must be awful.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        And only one candidate was stabbed in the face by angry opponents.

  17. Richard1
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    It is important that there is plenty of independent comment on the proposed censorship of the Chilcott report. It is reasonable to establish the precedent that the UK Prime Minister must be able to communicate in confidence with other heads of govt, especially the US president. However this needs to be set against the overwhelming need for voters, taxpayers and especially bereaved relatives of fallen servicemen to understand exactly by what process the UK got drawn into the Iraq war, the most disasterous UK foreign policy decision at least since Munich in 1938. The hubrisitc mission creep in Helmand should be the subject of a similar enquiry.

    It seems very extraordinary that the decision as to what should be published has been reached by negotiation between the Chilcott enquiry and an unelected civil servant, not himself accountable to Parliament, and who was apparently himself one of the actors in the Iraq war decision making process. MPs need to be right on top of this and make sure every detail comes out and every word of communication between, eg, Blair and Bush, is published. The result was so terrible that normal protocol and precedent must be set aside.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      It is important to understand that Bush was simply implementing policy towards the ME authored by such neocon luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, the latter widely considered the leading proponent. In order to substantiate Michael Howard’s claim that he was ‘misled’ by Blair concerning WMD, it would also be necessary to be given full information on Howard’s informal contacts with Perle both in New York amd London and quite why as Shadow Chancellor, he had such a significant role in encouraging the leadership of the Conservative Party and the Shadow Cabinet to back that ill (judged ed) enterprise; that is vitally important since although Blair was the PM, without Conservative backing, the Labour rebellion, in response to wide public unease which many politicians shared, could have become strong enough to prevent our involvement. As to the Chilcot enquiry, as it contains at least two obvious gatekeepers, its deliberations can safely be ignored.

      • Richard1
        Posted June 1, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Agreed. Whilst the main issue is how the processes of govt can have failed so badly, we also need to understand why parliamentary scrutiny especially by the Opposition was also inadequate. Perhaps Michael Howard was misled. If so we really need to know, its no good just having allegations thrown.

        In order to force this MPs should force a vote requiring full publication of all details. Relevant individuals such as Mr Blair should then be called upon to express public agreement with the principle. It is simply absurd that a civil servant has the power to make this decision. This is what we have Parliament for.

  18. Gary
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Why not have a blanket disclaimer on your site to the effect that any liability in the comments is the responsibilty of the respective commentators ?

    Fellow commentators are often the most critical towards libellous or misguided comments.

    Reply I do not accept responsibility for what others write on this site, but this site cannot override EU and UK law!

  19. Gary
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    As a libertarian, I never like it when opinions are suppressed. However , I believe that everyone has the right to self censorship in that each person can chose what they prefer to hear, watch or read. In this case that may mean scrolling, or just avoiding the site.

  20. zorro
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s always a good reminder to stay measured in our comments. Although I do not comment as frequently (I still read each entry) as I used too as I have been busy over the last year with various things. Hopefully, my comments are acceptable as I don’t tend to get edited too much. I’m trying not to replicate what others are saying and keep it original as it’s not easy for John to trawl through the comments.

    In any case, there’s still lots to discuss, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting time politically with voting intentions amongst the main three parties (Tories, Labour, and UKIP) seeming to harden. I haven’t mentioned the Lib Dems because they are looking on shaky ground, and their leader Nick Clegg looked exceptionally sad and weepy when last seen on TV, possibly because his pro EU campaign didn’t seem to gel with the public. I must reiterate that I am not being party political, just highlighting the fact that he looked sad, weepy, and extremely beaten…..which of course he was. Is that OK?

    zorro

    Reply I am not trying to stop good political argument and comment, just people with a strong party loyalty using the site to put forward their common party propaganda or rubbishing others with a Vote X message.

  21. Trumpeter Lanfried
    Posted May 31, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I come here for a breath of fresh air. Elsewhere, and notably on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ website, the level of debate is deplorable and courtesy counts for nothing.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Seconded. I find debate on the Telegraph web site intensely depressing too.

  22. Posted June 1, 2014 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your website; I will continue to read it.

    You relate I will not post any item which is blatantly party political .

    I have no political party, but I certainly maintain and present economic and political positions if they are based upon the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians or if they are based upon the John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ or if they are in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.

    I feel I can no longer post comments as they would be deleted for being party political; some financial sites block my comments because they are religious in nature.

  23. Iain Gill
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Re “which rubbishes people” some gentle micky taking of people making obvious mistakes is surely ok?
    Re “possible libel” I am not aware that we have ever mentioned Elton John, nobody with less money than him can use the libel laws anyways so I wouldn’t worry that much.
    Re “hurtful to particular groups, religions and institutions” I hope you will be equally protective of the white working class, those who choose to wear the cross, those with regional accents, and so on, and not choose those you protect like so much of the political class.
    I hope you will tolerate the majority view of the British people when it is counter the position being pushed by your party.
    Thanks for running the site, very much appreciated.

  24. David Price
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Entirely reasonable – it’s your blog so you make the rules.

  25. Edward.
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    In these very litigious times, when poor shrinking violets are so thin skinned, what it is necessary to provide – is a certain amount of, how do our American cousins term it – “ass covering”.

    As ever with you Mr. Redwood, an eminently logical decision.

    How I wish you could share some of your more personal observations and anecdotes with us, now that would be worth reading – an auto bio perhaps, but then you could never tell the whole truth, what with, the Tories skeleton cupboard stretching to the horizon and beyond.

    Always, a most thought provoking blog John, you must and do run it as you see fit, who could quibble with that?

    And at last, reading the subtext of your varied posts, maybe subconsciously in your own chosen political affiliation, perhaps you yourself hold grave doubts about the company, constitution, substance and direction of travel of your querulous and deviant fellows.

    Who could know?

    Reply I write about things as I see them, and reflect on the site what I am saying and doing in private to influence policy and to try to improve government. What I think about individual Parliamentary colleagues is best left as private thoughts in the main. I will only consider a bio when I am leaving Parliament. You cannot work successfully with people at the same time as commenting on their strengths and weaknesses in public.

  26. Edward.
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I respect that Mr. Redwood, a good answer, methinks.

  27. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I find Professor Redwood taking the trouble to reply to comments sets this website apart from many others – I hope this aspect will continue as before . So many politicians are remote but JR stands apart.
    Although some comments are critical, (and too his great credit JR allows this) I think all here would tip their hat to him for his hard work in making the time to promote debate.

    Essential reading for me the effort is appeciated thank you.

  28. matthu
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    How long will it be before the EU decides it is too hurtful to keep being reminded that they haven’t had their accounts properly signed off b y the auditors for nigh on 20 years? No doubt Google can be persuaded to delete any reference to this being turned up in a search.

  29. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Well, obviously, Mr. Redwood – it is your site and you can censor it as you see fit. I’ve always hoped that this site at least ensures that one M.P. – your good self – hears and responds to the views of some of ‘the people’.

    I hope you are careful not to allow the site to descend into pointlessness. If one cannot say that one thinks that a political policy or position is wrong, dishonest or pointless – and that a policy promoted by some other party is more sensible, likely, in tune with the electorate etc. – then surely one might as well just read the web site of the Conservative Party itself or any of the Conservative supporting newspapers. I have always thought this site represented a breath of fresh air – I hope it doesn’t lose that.

    Reply Of course I do not wish to block such comments or lose the debate. I just intend to stop the abuse of the site by a few people who use it to post repetitious party propaganda for just one party all the time, which they should do on their own party regulated site. They say Vote X, they abuse opponents, often without evidence or good reason etc. In a run up to a GE they need to play by election rules concerning party and candidate promotion.

  30. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Mike – this site ‘works’ because of the freedom to express a broad range of views. I think Mr Redwood has to be careful not to destroy the great thing that he has created. Although his aims are worthy there are many ‘grey areas’ in what is and what is not allowed under his rules – like it or not much of the debate on here does lend to the conclusion party X or Y would be a good choice but that is co-incidental.

    I’m sure most of his readers can decide on the merits of a particularly view and sniff out ‘propaganda’ from reasonable debate. God knows the modern conservative HQ are expect at this so we get plenty of practice. We can decide on the prejudices of the author’s etc. without the need for a censor.
    So I do hope the site remains largely as it is – I can understand Mr Redwood’s concerns about UKIP’s advance but stifling debate is just going to help not hinder the party/peoples army . I think it’s only the Europhile Conservatives, of which there are many, that need to be concerned.

  31. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 6, 2014 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Under this new ruling, you have already deleted my first response. That’s OK, you are going to find it a bit more difficult to delete what Michael Gove is saying.

  • 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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