Professional politics

 

One of the struggles of our age is between the professionals who claim politics is all about responding to detailed polling, and the amateur democrats who believe politics should be about principles and judgement.

Some claim the way to “do politics” is to poll the marginal seats and the marginal voters, finding out exactly what they want to hear, or even want they want from government, and giving it to them. If you take this approach to extremes a political party that wants to win a General Election has its policy and its statements dictated by small groups of voters in highly marginal seats.

Others are high on principle but short of votes. They set out what they believe and want, and leave it to chance and to the electorate to see if they win any or enough seats.

As these  caricatures suggest, a successful party or candidate needs a bit of both. You do not win if you are unwilling to reach out beyond your core support. You are unlikely to be trusted to govern if you never compromise and merely represent a minority group of the electors. You are also unlikely to be trusted to govern if enough people think you are prepared to change your views and policies every time a poll shifts in crucial marginal constituencies.

People do expect some consistency of approach. Governing is different from crafting electoral messages. Governing well is the best way to get re elected. If you govern well much of the message takes care of itself. It still helps to have a good way of explaining what you have done and what you want to do next. Governments  also have to remember that a good record is only part of the offer. People are more interested in what you will do for them in the next Parliament than in what you have done for them in the last. If you have governed well they are more inclined to listen favourably to your offer. If you have governed badly it will be difficult to get their trust for what you want to do next.

One reason why polls often improve for a government as an election approaches is people change they way they judge. Between elections people tend to judge a government by absolute standards. Could they have done better? Could they have backed what I wanted ? Could they have avoided that mistake? As an election approaches people are reminded that it is a contest between two very human groups of people to govern. The contest is then an easier one for the government. The question shifts.  Not did they do well by absolute standards, but did they do better than the other lot?

Conservatives will win more votes from the success of the economy in generating jobs and fostering gr0wth than they will from any clever message. As always a party needs to balance its principles, its core voters, and its outreach to new voters it needs to attract. Polls are relevant background, but should not determine what the party does or says.

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86 Comments

  1. mickc
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    And one sure way not to win, is for a party to ditch its core vote!

  2. ian wragg
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    John, The growth in the economy is a mirage as you well know. Importing half a million bodies every year, it would be bizarre if the economy didn’t grow. Per capita is still down 7% on 2008 and is unlikely to improve any time soon.
    You are still incapable of defending the country properly and still waste billions on foreign aid.
    Together with your complete failure to reign in the HRA or the ECHR I really don’t think you have a snowball in hell’s chance at the next election.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      I tend to agree, unless some sensible deal is done with UKIP and Cameron gets a new brain, heart and soul and working compass.

      He has just sacked his better ministers to replace them with Cameron type “thinkers” due to his focus groups – what a loon.

      The only hope for them is just how useless Miliband and Labour are. But then perhaps Miliband will move on the EU issue if he needs to. He would be more believable than Cameron.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    If the parties all respond just to polling then you inevitably get virtually identical parties as indeed we have. The only difference is perhaps where their traditional support lies, where party funding comes from and which marginal seats they are mainly interested in polling.

    The other big problem is that the public are usually rather ignorant of science and economics and are easily indoctrinated by the “BBC think”, charities, celebs into daft policies on many issues. They also want to sound nice and caring. So if asked “would you like to pay more tax for better schools and hospital” they may well say yes but then never make voluntary payments of tax.

    If asked would you like clean renewable energy or fracking, nuclear, gas and coal they may say the former but have not a clue about the relative cost or engineering. If asked would you like to pay 3 times the price for you electricity you might get the opposite answer.

    Asked “would you like rent controls” they may well say yes too (as more tenants than landlords) but this would only result in a shortage of rental properties, thus needed to be rationed in another way than price. It is supply (or demand) that needs to be addressed.

    Green crap, “renewables”, a nearly 50% state sector delivering almost nothing of value and magic money tree BBC/Cameron economics simply do not work other than for the may parasites in the state sector. We see this from the 4% decline in GDP per cap over the past seven years. With sensible policies we should have had a 20%+ increase in GDP per cap over this period. So we are 24% behind where we should be entirely due to duff government from Labour and Cameron.

    Give the population what actually works and they will like it when they see it working. Not many of the public are sound economist, physicist or engineers. You might as well ask them how they would like their Jet Airliners, power stations or bridges to be built. Would you fly on an aeroplane designed by a random selection of the public?

    I see Ed Davey has given the go ahead for the pointless, idiotic and vast Rampion wind farm of Brighton – 2/3 funded by idiotic tax and fuel payer subsides. Can we perhaps have the man’s sanity checked out, can he actually do basic arithmetic? Cameron should never have appointed Huhne or Davey it just shows Cameron is bonkers too.

  4. Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    There is also an element of luck in how well the country is doing. The growth and decline of economies seems to be in cycles to which no group can alter ,but can respond to. For example if debts and deficits are on the increase the response by some would be to borrow more to get out of the situation and in the long run add to the difficulties and others would say stop and lets objectively see why the wheel is running down the hill.

    Supply , demand and resource will always rule ,but who is the best housekeeper will be the most respected.

    • cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Exactly!

      I suspect all politicians want the same things for their electorate; education, jobs, a home, healthcare, security etc however, how they believe those common goals should or can be achieved is where they differ.

      As a retired psychiatric nurse, I have seen governments of all political colours come and go, each with their own “wizard wheeze” as to how the services can be improved and each causing more harm than good and yet, all the government ministers wanted to achieve basically the same thing. I am sure you have had similar experiences in general nursing.

      We need either, completely professional politicians who have had experience in the real world and can bring that experience and knowledge to the table or we need completely amateur, part time politicians who have a sense of public service and commonsense, who act on their conscience and aren’t just doing as a party leader tells them to, when they think that party leader is wrong.
      Personally, I would like to see an ex police officer or prison Governor in charge of The Home Office and a former high ranking military man, or woman, in charge of the MOD. I think a good senior nurse or doctor would make a good Health Secretary, because they would know what it is like at the sharp end and what would need doing to improve things.

      In general terms, the one thing a government could do to improve things across the board would be to just get out of the way! I want to see far less government as promised by Mr Cameron, rather than what we have actually got.

      I would like to see our host (my local MP) take over the role of business secretary, given his real life business experience, sadly, leaders tend not to reward highly competent people because it may make themselves look bad and lacking!

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Of course Cameron, having ratting so much after (and before) the last election (Cast Iron, 299 tax increases, on the EU and IHT) cannot expect to be trusted one iota on his pledges this time.

    We know what he is. He is pro ever more EU, yet higher taxes, big government, green crap lunacy an anti-democratic interventionist who believes in token women over substance, enforced “equality” insurance and for the over regulation of virtually everything.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Contrary to “Cameron think” woman are not daft and they will not vote Tory just because he has put a few token woman into the government.

      What happened to Mr Liam Fox in the reshuffle, I though he was coming back what is the story there?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic–Cameron insulted him by offering him a junior (third in line I think) position at the Foreign Office–Another of his daft judgements

      • Bazman
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        The problem is that whatever woman he put in the cabinet the likes of you would see them as ‘token’ no matter how radical or conservative their views, their background or qualifications. You just cannot accept woman in government. Interesting to see how these woman would have voted on womans right to vote or the minimum wage. They would have course voted against it for sure as you say they are token woman Tories.

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          I expect Lifelogic respected Margaret Thatcher.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

            Indeed, but even she made many mistakes: closing many grammar schools, signing EU treaties, failing to cut the state sector sufficiently, appointing John Major as chancellor (or indeed to anything), not listening to Allan Walters sufficiently and entering the absurd ERM disaster.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

          Baz

          Remind us which party had the first female PM. Baz remind us which party put up the husband of the deputy leader on an all female selection list. If I were the Labour party I’d steer clear of this topic as you have a as bad a record as the Tories and only the Lib Dems treat women worse

          • Bazman
            Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

            My point was that many woman Tory MP’s care little or even believe woman are discriminated against. Thatcher did nothing for woman and was seen as a token man.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:22 am | Permalink

          I am all in favour of more woman in government and indeed in science and anywhere else if they choose to be. But only when it is done on merit and without active anti-male discrimination. Judge every one on their merits regardless of gender or race please.

          Alas that is not what Cameron is doing he is just flower arranging in the BBC manner. A disabled person here, a woman over there, a Muslim over here preferably with some symbol of her religion …….

          If fewer woman choose to go in to politics or indeed physics or engineering that is their choice, you can then only have equal representation by a very large forced discrimination against men. Resulting in far poorer appointments. What about the huge under representation of men in primary schools and as nurses?

          There also seems to be a huge under representation of white 100 metre runners is Cameron going to force that issue too? His approach is bonkers.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

            As an example woman tend to better on maths but very few go onto study maths and 96% of woman are hairdressers. You believe this is all down to personal ‘choice’ without influence by society? This also applies to the majority of politicians being white, public school boys as this is what they ‘choose’ instead of hairdressing. A bit far fetched Do see any similarities with these and other extreme views and their lack of a grasp of reality?

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 1, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            If they are better as sums at school but then choose not to go on to do maths or physics at university then clearly that is there choice what other reason is there? Perhaps they prefer languages or ppe would you force them?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic–You are uncharacteristically muted today–Don’t forget: EU all the way to the Urals; Same sex so-called Marriage and Adoption; Identity in general; Aircraft-less carriers so big that hard to imagine ever being used; Grammar Schools; Foreign Aid and Firing Gove–and those are just straight off the top of the head

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:26 am | Permalink

        Perhaps call it an Air Carrier, it has inadequate protection facilities anyway so if they have no aircraft on it it will be less of a target!

  6. Steve Cox
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Polls are relevant background, but should not determine what the party does or says.

    Oh dear, why do images of David Cameron hugging a husky in Lapland spring so readily to mind I wonder?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Not to mention his wind turbine in non windy Notting Hill, costing perhaps £5,000 and generating say £10 of electricity PA.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        As I heard it had to be removed as it threatened to take down the chimney and it has never been reinstalled, so it’s generating none at all.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

          Would it not fit on 10 Downing St?

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    You omit to mention a very important factor which is the personality of the party leader which can trump policies entirely with many voters. For example look at Boris Johnson’s wins in the London mayoral election against Ken Livingstone which were not based on policies and cut across party affiliation.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I read that the new pension draw down rules are to be restricted, so that most state sector employees cannot use them. Needless to say MPs will however be allowed to!

    Is this true and is it what Cameron means by we are all in it together?

    What should happen is all should be allowed to use them, but there should be an additional tax on all state sector pensions as they are largely undeserved and paid for of the backs of private sector workers who often have no pension at all.

    REPLY THE DIFFERENCE IS BETWEEN public sector funded schemes where there is money saved by employees which can be drawn down, and unfunded schemes where there is no saved money

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      A convenient rather difference (or fig leaf) for MPs. Reminds me of “a treaty is not a treaty once ratified”.

      It is still a government liability. With an extra say 15% tax on public sector ones they too should all be allowed to draw them early. After all it would reduce the state sector pension liabilities if they did this, or are the government intending to rat on these commitments later?

      Many might usefully use the funds to set up businesses and the likes.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    “Others are high on principle but short of votes.”

    That may happen if certain politicians who lack principles are supported by journalists in the mass media who also lack principles.

  10. alan jutson,
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    An interesting post today John, because you sum up all that is wrong with our so called democracy.
    The fact is that the vast majority of seats will not change because they are safe, thus only the marginals will really be contested.

    Aware the voters rejected AV in a referendum, but perhaps we really do need to rethink some other form of system which is both simple to understand and operate, that will reflect a result, based on peoples real political choices.

    Should we vote for the local man or woman, or the Party ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Perhaps one should say voter friendly things for the marginals at elections, but do what is sensible once elected anyway.

      Cameron both says the wrong things and does the wrong things in office, he has it wrong both ways.

      Thatcher won three elections (plus one with Major before the people realised what he was). Cameron has so far (with his lefty, green crap, pro EU and IHT ratting) just thrown one sitting duck election.

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I read that the German government may reject the proposed EU trade deals with both Canada and the US on the grounds that corporations would be given too much power to sue governments over the consequences of policy changes.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/07/27/Germany-to-kill-Canada-EU-trade-agreement-may-axe-US-EU-deal-too

    If a government enters into a specific commercial contract with a company then clearly it is a matter of good faith to either fulfil that contract or negotiate its termination, but the provisions in the proposed trade treaties go far beyond that and apparently the German government thinks they may go too far even if the UK government is unconcerned.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      There is a lot of leftist drivel on this. All the treaties say is govts need to abide by their own laws. These treaties set up arbitration arrangements such as are in place all over the commercial world. Govts can implement whatever laws they like,but if these laws confiscate property or arbitrarily change the terms of commercial arrangements of course investors have a right to compensation. Without such arrangements there won’t be the international investment hoped for which does so much to increase prosperity and alleviate poverty.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t realise that Germany has a “leftist” government, and how does that square with Cameron recently saying that the CDU is the sister party of the Tory party?

        Their “drivel”, as reported in the article linked above:

        “German diplomats in Brussels confirmed to the newspaper that the Berlin government would not sign the agreement “as it has been negotiated now.” The chapter on legal protection for investors is “problematic.””

        Still, evidently that is of no concern to either you or our government.

        • Richard1
          Posted July 29, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          There has been a virulent leftist campaign against transatlantic investment partnership agreements. The German govt is a coalition with a leftist party and is heavily influenced by Greens, who are particularly concerned that ‘corporations’ might have some redress when their businesses are destroyed by anti global warming legislation.

          Have a look at the news.

  12. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    This is where ther Conservatives have gone so horribly wrong – trying to attract voters it never had a chance of winning over.
    Ethnic minorities, public sector workers, benefit claimants and other special interest groups will by and large either not vote or vote Labour. David Cameron and John Redwood make a BIG mistake assuming they will pick up votes by leaning to the left.

    The Conservative core vote is large enough to secure victory – if only they would give their supporters what they want!.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Kenneth–Agreed–Work something out with UKIP and sweep the country.

    • Bryan
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Only in England. The Conservatives are as dead as a Dodo in the rest of the UK.

      Mr McCameron seems to be oblivious of this!

  13. Mark B
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I think this is one of your better Articles. It touches and seeks to explain things from a perspective few here, like myself, can readily see or imagine.

    Likewise, few in the Westminster Bubble can better see, understand and act on matters that effect their constituents. Much of the power to act is controlled via Ministers and Government Departments, with the EU being overall control where competencies (powers) are seeded by our government too it.

    This creates a top-down form of Government, and when you take into account the ‘EU-effect’ of further removing the Demos from the decision making process, which, may I add, is deliberate, people see politics as less and less relevant to their lives and by extension, political parties.

    To that end, I feel it might be good to accept that the system of governance we have had for so long, with the increase in voters, both through emancipation and population growth, has had its day. Perhaps it is time that we considered that politicians through Local Government, backed with referendums similar to that Eric Pickles MP has introduced, take a more hands-on role in the local affairs of their constituency . This is more of bottom-up affair, similar to that enjoyed by the Swiss.

    Whilst some, including our kind host, may bulk at such a notion. May I remind those reading, that Switzerland has enjoyed good relations with its neighbours for well over 100 years and, is economically, politically and socially very stable.

    With ‘Part-time’ politicians, able to fulfill their duties and maintain both a public and private life, keeping them very much grounded to the realities of life and responsive to the needs and wishes of their constituents who, let us not forget, can have the final say on any issues, at anytime.

    True democracy therefore, works !

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Also of course IHT ratter & “morally repugnant” George Osborne has anyway continued Brown’s mugging of private sector pensions with his reduced cap and contribution limits. Yet still his deficit is hugely out of control with far lower tax receipts caming in than expected. A state sector pension tax is thus fully justified. It cannot be right to have state sector pension perhaps six times the size of those of the private sector.

    Especially when half the state sector do sovlittle of any use other than cause inconvenience to the productive.

  15. Richard1
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Indeed not. It looks as though the dismissals of both Michael Gove and Owen Paterson were driven by this kind of unprincipled thinking. Of course a government or a minister who confronts vested interests in the best interests of the Country will encounter vocal opposition. The mistake Mr Cameron seems to make is thinking that if he sucks up to the Green Blob or the other leftist groupings they might start voting for him. There is no chance of this. These people are leftists and what they want is big govt socialism, union power etc. leftist agitators will welcome victories such as the booting out of Messrs Gove or Paterson but they will never vote Conservative as a result.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      People want cheap energy. Not absurd offshore wind at three times the price. Asking them what they want, without telling you the cost is absurd. Like asking if would you like a house in Chelsea or one in Hull. What answer do you expect?

      • ian wragg
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Disgusting the demolition of Didcot power station cooling towers. A perfectly viable 2000MW @ £38 per MW station destroyed to be replaced by £1 billion in intermittent wind energy at £150 MW. Who would vote for a bunch of chancers that allowed this to happen.

      • Richard1
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I watched the paper review on Andrew Marr’s show (the rest looked too boring). Max Hastings and Dominic Grieve both agreed windfarms are an absurd waste of money and have no public support. A LibDem woman called Ollie Grender(?) said, without challenge, that windfarms are a cheap and reliable source of energy. It seems unfortunately that even Conservative MPs and others pitched as right of centre are unaware that onshore wind costs c. 2x the market price for electricity production and offshore c. 3x, and both require backup due to the intermittent nature of wind power. They only exist at all because of subsidy. The Green Blob has been highly effective at spreading disinformation on these issues (as they have on fracking).

        • Bazman
          Posted August 3, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          How does nuclear fit into your anti subsidy rant? Nuclear could not even exist without state subsidy.

  16. Alte Fritz
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    What this post does not explain is the success of Tony Blair. Within months of the 97 victory, New Labour was riven by factional struggles, the whiff of corruption enveloped leading figures, and they governed appallingly. In any rational world they should have been ejected from office in 2001.

    Not only did Blair successfully defy reason, not only were Labour unwise to ditch him, but the Conservatives took much of the Blair example as a model.

    • Atlas
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      … something like:
      “fooling some of the people all of the time, and most of the people some of the time” ?? …

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Indeed just as we thought we had seen the back of the Blair creature, along comes Call me Dave trying to out-Blair the Blair. The man is a walking disaster area.

    • outsider
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Dear Alte Fritz, Tony Blair won in 2001 because the economy was prospering steadily, Mr Brown really had practised fiscal prudence, tax rises were generally “hidden” (like the £5 billion a year and rising on pension savings) and memories were still fresh of the perceived ( and in my view actual) incompetence of Sir John Major’s government.
      After our war on Iraq, 2005 was a different story. The Conservatives would, in my view, have won handsomely if they had not supported Mr Blair to the hilt over Iraq but there was no choice between the two main parties on this matter. The Liberal Democrats, who had opposed the war, increased their number of MPs from 46 to a peak of 62.
      Today, there is little choice between the three main parties on most issues that matter to most people.

      • outsider
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Correction: LibDems up from 52-62 in 2005.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      They, Labour, leaned much from ….. Clinton on how to manage the media and peoples expectations. And a helpful Left-Wing media helps.

  17. Mick Anderson
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    How many politicians in Parliament (or local government, for that matter) have achieved 50% of the available votes? Many of us commenting here have very little time for the policies of the leaders of all three main Parties, and would observe that this is why “None of the above” should currently be PM.

    The argument always seems to be that “the other lot are going to be worse than us”, rather than a convincing reason why anyone should be elected. I want to be able to vote for something, not against everything else.

    It is very easy to criticise those in office – I’m never likely to have to walk the walk – but we can compare their words to their actions. We can also see the effect those actions have on our personal daily lives.

    So (with the greatest of respect to our patient Host) it’s easy to come to the conclusion that too many of those in power are in it for themselves (either vanity or money), and that if voting actually changed anything it would be banned.

    • BobE
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      “and that if voting actually changed anything it would be banned.”

      Thats called “The Whip”

  18. APL
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    “People are more interested in what you will do for them in the next Parliament than in what you have done for them in the last. If you have governed well they are more inclined to listen favourably to your offer. ”

    And are less interested if they feel they have been let down frequently in the past.

  19. oldtimer
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It can be argued that Mr Cameron is a part of the Green Blob. His in laws are certainly beneficiaries and he has continued to argue strongly for green subsidies, urging the corporate world to make the most of the subsidies on offer.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    There is one aspect of the political process that you have not mentioned and that is the power and influence of communication techniques and of the media through which that is achieved.

    It helps to be a skilled wordsmith, able to make statements that seem to imply one thing but which, later, enable to speaker to point out that actually they mean something else. Mr Blair was a master of this technique. As someone once said, “If you can fake sincerity you`ve got it made”. Put another way, it helps to be a master of the weasel word; we have seen and heard many in relation to the creeping power of the EU through successive treaties.

    The other aspect is command of the single most influential media outlet in the UK, the BBC, which promotes a distinct slant in its reporting. That slant is manifest through its selection of subjects to report, who is invited to comment, who is effectively banned from commenting and through its editing of recorded remarks. It is in this connection that the attempts of the political class to muzzle all other media (such as newspapers/magazines and the internet) post Leveson are particularly sinister. That way, the Big Lie wiould be enabled to run and run.

    • miami.mode
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      You are 100% correct oldtimer about the commenters on the BBC. Invariably they are on the payroll of a public body, quango, charity etc and consequently have an agenda to push for big government generally from a socialist point of view. The rest of us are, or have been, too busy working for a living to spend time on such adventures if indeed we were ever offered the opportunity.

    • Richard
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      The one person whose views are never heard or represented in any BBC debate, analysis, interview or report is the taxpayer.

  21. Vanessa
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The trouble is we do not know what the Conservatives stand for any longer. It used to be for low taxes and small government. As the tories now mirror Labour we still have high taxes and huge government. What do we vote for ???

    More homosexual marriage and HS2, 3, 4 ? At least we know what Milliband stands for and what he is going to do – he will probably keep his promises ??!!! Who knows.

    As the boundary changes did not happen the tories need to do a LOT more to persuade us to vote for them.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    I think people also vote in national elections in part influenced by their local experience on matters that are the responsibility of the local authority, not the national government.

    It would be a great help to all concerned if there was much greater clarity as to who has responsibility for what.

    Of course, “Responsibility” is but a third of the matter, the other two thirds are “Accountability” and “Resources”.

  23. John E
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “…it is a matter of the greatest grief to him in the world that he should be put upon this trust of being a parliament-man, because he says nothing is done, that he can see, out of any truth and sincerity, but mere envy and design.”

    Samuel Pepys recording a conversation with his cousin Roger Pepys in his diary – 27th May 1663.

  24. Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Politics that respond to the marginal constituencies are all about short term attractions whereas the government of the country is all about essential priorities and long term necessities . In any event , how the Government is perceived and kept on course is all down to the quality and ability of its leadership . Churchill and Thatcher gave the country a “spirit” at a time when forces – disruptive and evil , were rife ; they cast aside popularity and invoked a discipline that produced results benefiting the whole of society . This leadership is lacking today – on all sides , and our politics and Politicians have lost credibility . Leadership that smacks of “establishment” and privilege must be discarded ; the electorate want straightforwardness , honesty , experience and ability from its Representatives and Leaders . A long term approach to the management and governance of the country ought to be put in place ; 5 year periods that encompass the initial “learning” curve and election run up time are entirely inadequate . Bring on the change !!

  25. Martyn G
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    John, you say “As always a party needs to balance its principles, its core voters, and its outreach to new voters it needs to attract”. Exactly so, but it seems to me and others like me – especially we of English extraction – have been and will continue to be ignored by Mr C and his government. And by ‘outreaching’ to new voters, coupled with sacking his 2 most able Ministers (Education and Environment) he has managed to further alienate me and probably a large number of others, in my case to the extent that I shall not, for the first time since 1959, be voting conservative in forthcoming local or general elections.
    On the other hand if there was, as perhaps there should be on voting papers ‘none of the above’ I would find it worthwhile to add my protest to the equation!

  26. Robert Taggart
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Agreed Johnny, but, does the ‘heir to Blair’ understand ?
    One understands Liebore be banking on as little as thirty-five per cent of the share of the vote next May ? – in order to form the next government – albeit with the LieDims in tow !

  27. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I read government is weakening on fracking. No fracking in National Parks and AONB, etc., other than in ‘exceptional circumstances’, those words are a meaningless sop! Can’t see fracking ever being much of an industry in England now, backing off like this is just giving opponents heart to step up the campaign to stop it altogether – I fear they will succeed. After all why would any company proceed when it is vilified at every turn and is not given any moral support by the government of the country. Then there’s Cameron’s loan guarantee of £240,000,000 to Grangemouth in Scotland to enable them to import US shale gas. Is this how he sees energy security, and improving our ‘balance of payments? How much extra will we need to make and export to pay for this US gas? Can we see they way things are going? What category of yours above do these decisions come under? Other announcements may follow. HS2 maybe, that would be a corker, but some say this is another EU push item and thus it may be safe.

    We can expect more industrialising of the land and sea with wind and solar farms no doubt. Eyesores which can be seen from tens of miles away are ok. Mr Cameron’s green Leftist friends like them, they don’t like fracking. That’s how his system works. We desperately need principled and courageous leaders; there are some people with potential, but they can’t make any progress in the present atmosphere.

  28. acorn
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    “Conservatives will win more votes from the success of the economy in generating jobs and fostering gr0wth than they will from any clever message” says JR.

    They will as long as you keep telling them every day. Stick with GDP “growth percentages”, try and avoid any metrics that involve “per Capita”. The metrics that would inform voters just how badly they have been screwed, should be avoided at all cost.
    For instance, Real Net National Disposable Income (RNNDI) and Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI).

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-national-well-being/economic-well-being/index.html .

    Fortunately, not only do the voters not have a clue about these metrics, opposition parties don’t either. I reckon my bet on a Conservative win is still safe.

    • REPay
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Education! Education! Education! Many voters are screwed because they are badly educated and unable to compete in the global economy. Minor tinkering with the structure of education was never enough. Thirteen years of Labour further added to their misery by public overspending, a credit bubble (private as well as public) which Gordon Brown stoked restlessly. Many people in the City predicted the crash but our overpaid regulators seemed not to hear or see anything. Our vast, unproductive public sector will bloat again when Labour gets into power in 2015 thanks to UKIP and the rotten boroughs in the north.

      • acorn
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:48 am | Permalink

        Education is a wonderful thing; but, you don’t want your voters to have too much of it; neo-liberal bankster capitalism would collapse. It’s the same with the Conservatives wanting everything in perfect competition in the private sector. Perfect competition means zero profits by definition!

  29. outsider
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, Your are right that, at a general election, voters are faced with a choice between the main parties whether or not they want either ( any) of them. If all three main sitting parties are offering basically similar policies with shrill rhetoric concentrated on fringe differences, electors may just opt for least worst, make a protest vote in the hope that others will do the same, vote for the personality of an individual candidate they trust or abstain. My only predictions for 2015 are:
    1) You will do well in Wokingham .
    2) Unless there is a great groundswell of support for UKIP and/or the Green Party, which establishment media outlets will work hard to deflate, the percentage voter turnout will be at least 5 points lower than in 2010.

  30. Anonymous
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    We already are being governed for the benefit of minorities.

    Those who shout loudest, cause the most trouble and who are prepared to throw bricks (or worse.)

    Voting changes nothing then. So nothing to lose by voting for UKIP.

  31. ian
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Party politics is on the way out, less people vote. most young people avoid voting, if they do vote they like to vote for small parties, green and lib/dems. A lot of men have loss interest in politics so that leaves you with older people, women and the minority voters . Older people usually vote 50/50, women with in”t he lovely vote gone i should think more women to lean towards the green party with fracking coming in but should be 50/40 blues, minority vote 70/30 to the reds. The vote may go up this time with non voters coming in to vote for ukip with more men voting ukip.

    As for the economy winning you the election that”s debatable. If it was not for the hookers and drug GDP figures you put in for last quarter you would not of made the head lines last week and if you take inflation into account your a long way off. It 200 to 320 pounds a week jobs and part time jobs with more wages cuts to come. It seen like smoke and mirrors help to buy fracking which women do not like ppi and increasing GDP to make the borrowing look better than it is. Dismal record on tax and new laws. As for being professionals or amateur we will fined out next may.

  32. BobE
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I vote to follow what I believe in, not some tactical foolishness. I believe in my country and so I have to vote for UKIP. Maybe 2015 will only see a small number of MPs but then we have 2020. In time, I hope to extract my country from the third German controlled european superstate.

  33. zorro
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Off topic John, but are you likely to make any comment on the ongoing events in Gaza and any implications for UK foreign policy?

    zorro

  34. ian
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see nato flapping it wings. All the rebels will be making a show for this one not to be missed. No need for putin to get out of bed, even his rebel enemy will be coming for the show down. Good luck all the best.

  35. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    JR: “As an election approaches people are reminded that it is a contest between two very human groups of people to govern.”
    That is what you would like us to think and accept but it is palpably untrue, as was clearly demonstrated at the last election and will be again at the next. This era of two party politics has run its course. Perhaps that is why the “professionals” who have one principle, which is to be on the winning side regardless of what that entails, reign supreme in what you regard as the only choice we have to make – Conservative or Labour. I reject your false prospectus.

  36. David Price
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Pragmatically, if the goal is to get the UK out of a federal EU then those who want this should really be voting Conservative this coming GE.

    If they vote UKIP then the current projections say they may get two seats but that won’t change any essential parliamentary arithmetic since they would just displace two Conservative MPs. If the goal is to have a parliamentary majority to force a referendum, or even a unilateral article 50 demand, then they won’t achieve this, just enable Labour to get in with the LibDems as king makers. Once Labour are back in I see no possibility of leaving the EU as they have already demonstrated how far they are prepared to go to sabotage the country if they are forced out. UKIP needs to displace LibDems and/or Labour MPs to change the numbers in a meaningful way.

    Alternatively, if UKIP instead focus on getting a Conservative government elected on the basis of mandating a referendum then either Cameron will have to follow through on that commitment or his faction of the Conservative party will be destroyed in the following election. UKIP will have lost nothing and will instead likely gain far more seats then than in 2015.

    Even if Cameron wholeheartedly wanted a referendum now he cannot get parliamentary approval with the LibDems blocking the vote so nothing can happen, referendum or article 50 action, till after 2015. If Labour and Libdems are in government then nothing will happen.

    The question is whether those who want us out of the EU are pragmatic or merely tribal.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      “The question is whether those who want us out of the EU are pragmatic or merely tribal.”
      Voting Conservative, when we all know that they have no intention of ever leaving the EU, is being tribal.

    • BobE
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      David,
      David Cameron whipped to prevent a referendum only a while ago. He admits he wants to be part of Europe. The conservatives wont take us out of europe. I will vote with my heart and for my country and yes, maybe only two seats in 2015 but then in 2020!! You have no idea have you. Vote not as a gambit but as you belive we should be, as a country. Millions of people have died so you can vote. Don’t play monopoly with it.

      • David Price
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        If it’s all the same to you I’d rather keep the debate focussed on the issues rather than your ad hominum attacks.

        Cameron later commited to holding a referendum after 100 or so Conservative MPs rebelled against the whip. What he believes and what Conservative MPs are prepared to vote for clearly don’t always coincide

        If Labour-Libdems get in then as things stand there will be no referendum so what chance of brexit then? If the Conservatives get a majority then Cameron needs to be held to his promise and there would be a better chance of brexit.

        The thing is that the argument for exit needs to have been won before the referendum is held, particularly as the EUphilics will have all their supporters in the MSM, big business etc lined up. The worrying thing is that UKIP activists seem to believe they have the luxury of time and don’t need to win the argument yet. Worse, instead of supporting and working with the pro-brexit MPs, UKIP activists spend the precious time abusing them and anyone who doesn’t believe Farage is “the” answer.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Pragmatically if all those who wanted us out of the EU voted for the party which actually wants to get us out of the EU then it would win a sizeable contingent of MPs, possibly even a plurality or a majority; but of course that would require many of those voters to abandon an habitual tribal loyalty to one or other of the parties that desperately want to keep us in the EU.

      • David Price
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        What you need is habitual Labour and Libdem voters to switch their vote. But you are targeting Conservative voters, so I don’t see how you will change the balance of MPs to get a pro-Brexit majority.

    • Richard
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Mr. Price,

      You are mistaken if you think the Conservative Party will lead us out of the EU.

      Mr. Cameron has made it clear that he will always fight to keep the UK in the EU and, as has recently pointed out to me on this site, the referendum, if we even have one, will be “non-binding”.

      Mr. Cameron says he wants to see the EU expanded to the Urals and for Turkey to become a member.

      How much more evidence do you need to see that voting Conservative will never bring about our exit from the EU ?

      You should be voting for the party that best represents your wishes and not tactically.

      • David Price
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

        I don’t believe UKIP can lead us out of the EU, they can help achieve it but I don’t see them gaining sufficient non-Conservative seats to make a meaningful difference. AT the moment a referendum is the best worst option.

        WRT evidence, Cameron has also said he will hold a referendum if he is in power from 2015, 100 or so Conservative MPs went against the whip on a referendum vote to force that which is more than UKIP have done. I’m suggesting Cameron be held to the promise, that he should have no place to go other than holding a referendum.

        Do you seriously believe a referendum will be held if a Labour-Libdem government is elected in 2015?

  37. Richard
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    There is very little difference between the 3 major UK parties. This is because they are all rabidly pro Europe although each one for a different reason.

    Since the EU wishes to eliminate the nation states, particularly those who have been successful in the past, it will explain why our nation’s wealth and institutions are being slowly destroyed by daft and expensive policies on energy, money wasted on massive and useless infrastructure projects, the sale of our public assets at fire-sale prices etc. etc.

    But even if the EU were not the driving factor, the UK, and in particular, England, will have reached the zenith of its prosperity and stability and from now on we will only see a decline.

    Firstly, we have gone beyond the tipping point financially. We now have far more people dependent upon the state than we have tax payers who are actually net contributors to the nation’s coffers. This means that we are becoming more and more in debt (£1.5 trillion now) and with no easy means to pay off this debt. Taxes will rise even higher, further money will be printed leading to inflation and finally, to save the EU and UK politicians jobs and pensions, there will be wealth confiscation such as we have seen in Cyprus (a trial run). The proposed mansion tax is the also the start of this.

    The second problem is that we are losing our social cohesion through our ruling elites wish to encourage mass immigration. Again, this is EU driven to eliminate nation states, and when coupled with our politicians desire to have a multicultural society, it will eventually lead the country down a tribal path where it will be every group or man for himself.

  38. libertarian
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Politicians and political parties are the problem and not the solution.

    We need no more than 50 politicians and we don’t need political parties at all

  39. Cheshire Girl
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    I see there is another ‘clever message’ in the Daily Telegraph today, re benefits for immigrants!

  40. Terry
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Our Electoral system is too biased in favour of first Labour then Conservative to produce a truly fair and democratic result.
    Over the past decades, the NHS and Benefits system have been used as political bribing machines. The Labour party, in particular, have become very adept at manipulating the existing system and their manifesto promises to all but ensure they win.

    FPTP, WAS once an acceptable system but due to the electoral abuse over the past decades it must be changed. There was a period of disenfranchisement in the late 19th Century that should seriously be considered now. It would exclude most beneficiaries of welfare payouts and all those in Direct Government employ, such as Civil Servants. These are the groups that currently can be bought off by an unscrupulous Government in waiting. Promises of increased benefits and/or increased pay and increased taxpayer-funded pensions for the desk jockeys of Whitehall and beyond, work wonders at the ballot boxes. Additionally, the number of MP’s has to be reduced and ALL constituencies equalised in numbers. Furthermore, a USA style “Primary” should be held by all party candidates for the position of MP so that the electorate have say in who is to represent them. The existing system of selection by local party leaders is more like a closed shop and enables the “parachuting in” of ‘friends’ of the main party but who are unknowns to the local electorate. In short, we want more democracy but no more stealth and hypocrisy.

  41. Posted July 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    As a statement of general principles this is fine. However, what is the Conservative Party to do if it fails to attract back UKIP voters? No change, no chance?

  • 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.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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