No to a grand coalition

I find it extraordinary that some people are proposing a grand coalition between the Labour and Conservative parties after the next General Election. As someone who has helped construct the Conservative Manifesto, there is no way I could reach agreement with Labour on a common government after May 7th. Conservatives want a renegotiation with the EU and an In/Out referendum. Labour opposes that implacably. Conservatives want English votes for English issues. Labour opposes that and refuses to recognise the case for England. Conservatives want tax cuts, Labour wants to impose extra taxes. Conservatives wish to remove the deficit next Parliament. Labour thinks that is going too far.

Those who argue for a grand coalition are being premature and pessimistic about their party’s chances of winning. Why not fight out the election first, with the intention of winning outright? More importantly, they are recommending something that would do great future damage. Far from saving the union and providing wise government, a grand coalition would undermine the principles and credibility of both parties and make it far more difficult for either to win outright the following election. Whilst in a close race it makes sense to help define each party by asking with whom among the minor parties they could do business, it makes no sense for the two main parties summing up the main differences in the election to stifle that choice by saying they could combine.

On the continent, where grand coalitions or collaborative actions between centre right and centre left have been used to keep the Euro and its policies alive, they have usually resulted in grave further electoral damage to the parties concerned. In Greece the centre right and centre left invented the idea of giving 50 extra seats to the party with most votes as a way as they saw it of keeping in business the alternation of the centre right and centre left in government. Instead  they gifted the latest election to Syriza. In Spain and in Italy the two main traditional parties are struggling to command just 50% of the vote between them, because electors know that whatever they promise the cruel logic of the Euro will dictate many of their policies once in office.

Going into grand coalitions compromises principles, results in torn up election promises, and above all stifles electoral choice. If both main parties in a country work together they do indeed both become the same with respect to government policy. That impedes true democracy, or stimulates new parties to arrive and overturn them. The differences between Labour and Conservatives in today’s UK are large and important. They do not allow forming a common government in 9 weeks time.

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117 Comments

  1. petermartin2001
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    John,

    I pretty much agree with the Conservative policies you mentioned on the EU Referendum, reduced taxes, EVEL, but don’t think the Conservatives have it right on the deficit.

    There can only be a government surplus if someone else runs a deficit. The ROW are also running a surplus against us on trade (their surplus is our defict). Therefore to make up for the Government’s proposed surplus (say 0.1% of GDP) , and the ROW’s already large surplus (say 4.9%of GDP) , the UK private sector will have to run a deficit of 5% of GDP.

    This means that year in year out the UK Private Domestic sector will be getting poorer to the tune of 5% of GDP. We’d completely run out of money in just a few years! We’d be ruined.

    Is this something a Conservative government should be “promising” the private sector?

    Which way should I vote?

    Reply The aim is to reduce the deficit because the private sector growth produces more tax revenue! The private sector will be getting richer, not poorer.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Are you serious Peter, when you claim the Government can only run a surplus if somebody else runs a deficit?
      It assumes there is a finite amount of money and a finite amount of wealth and no growth in either.
      It assumes if I get one pound better off then someone else, perhaps you, gets one pound worse off.
      It assumes that the private sector will not grow as its burden of tax is reduced.
      And the private sector has grown despite predictions of doom, during what has been called austerity by Government recently.
      So I do not see how you theory can be right.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Are you serious Peter, when you claim the Government can only run a surplus if somebody else runs a deficit?

        Yes, of course. Imagine a small economy of 1000 individuals living on an island who decide to start their own currency. They elect a government and the government issues everyone with 10 crowns. So the private domestic sector then has a surplus of 10000 crowns and the government has a deficit of 10000 crowns. Then, say, the government levies taxes of 5 crowns per person. The surplus of the private sector drops to 5000 crowns. The deficit of the government drops to 5000 crowns. We can add in an overseas sector. They sell goods and services to the tune of 1000 crowns. Then its -5000 for government. +4000 for the domestic private sector. +1000 for overseas sector.

        No matter how you vary these numbers, they always add to zero. So one sector’s surplus has to be another’s deficit. That’s true as the economy grows and the government creates and issues more currency. Its true for all modern currencies too.

        Q.E.D.

        • Matt
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          This is all rather silly.

          The key is that if a company finds a way of increasing efficiency then everybody benefits. Just as an example, say they switch from making something with an expensive material to a cheaper one because they’ve developed a new design or process where the cheaper material does the job just as well. Their costs go down, the price of their products goes down. Their profits go up, their employees pay goes up, but their customers have more money left over after buying their products. On top of that the government has higher revenues to tax. The company which used to sell them the more expensive materials might lose out, but the net effect on the economy is very positive.

          How on earth do you think we got from a world population of a few hundred million barely surviving to a world population of several billion increasing living at a higher standard?

          When you bring fiat money into the equation it all gets a but confusing. It’s much more useful to correct for this effect by looking at the price of things we all need. If your income one year buys more loaves of bread than it did the year, whether the total number of £ in your pocket has gone up or down, you’re surely better off.
          The government tends to increase the number of £ in circulation every year, but when times are good, the growth in the private sector is greater than the growth in the money supply.

          Government deficits are a different animal as the government does not really make anything, just collect money and spend it. If it collects less than it spends, it goes into deficit.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

            Matt,

            This is all rather silly.

            If you think that its because you have not grasped the rather simple concept of sector financial balances. Just look it up on Wikipedia for more information and explanation.

            It was developed by the late Professor Wynne Godley, who, incidentally used the concept to predict as early as 1995 just exactly what would happen if the Euro was implemented in its proposed form.

            It is also used by economists at Goldman Sachs. Look up Jan Hatzius and his track record of accurate predictions including the 2008 crash.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          Or, imagine an island economy which is truly isolated from the rest of the world. The government takes in some money from across the island and then spends it around the island; all that is happening is that there is a flow of money through the government of the island, into its coffers and out again, which would not occur in the absence of the government as an economic actor.

          Some of the money which flows into the coffers of the government and then out again is made up of the taxes which it imposes on the population, but on top of that tax revenue there is potentially some more money which it only borrows from those of the population who have some to spare.

          So if a law is passed saying that in future the government can only spend the money that it raises in taxes, and it is no longer allowed to supplement that tax revenue by borrowing, what happens?

          Either it must raise taxes to maintain its spending at the same level, or it must reduce its spending, or a combination of the two; but in no case will that reduce the quantity of money circulating on the island, passing between the various economic actors, instead it can only effect the flow of money into and out of the coffers of one of the economic actors, the government.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 10, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Denis,

            If the entity you describe is not able to issue and cancel the currency used on the island then it isn’t truly the government.

            The Greek “Government” has that very problem.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 11, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            Well, that’s irrelevant to the question of whether it would have to supplement its tax revenues with borrowing.

        • James Sutherland
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          You overlook the role of debt. If the government is running a billion pound deficit, that means it’s borrowing the extra billion each year. Flip that around into a surplus, and it’s repaying that billion pounds of debt each year – freeing up that billion pounds to be invested in something else instead. Maybe it gets carved up and loaned out as a few thousand mortgages that couldn’t otherwise be made, or a few new factories … the key thing is, the money doesn’t just disappear or sit idle: it still gets invested.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

            “…. it’s borrowing the extra billion each year.”

            James,

            You’re thinking about Government as if it were like you and I. It isn’t a user of currency. It is an issuer of currency or a writer of its own IOUs. It doesn’t need to borrow back those IOUs. In fact it’s not possible for anyone to borrow back their own IOU. It does it as part of its interest rate policy.

            The bigger the deficit the more IOUs there are in the system which can be an inflation risk. That’s the danger of too much spending. Therefore the more IOUs there are, the more the downward pressure on interest rates. There’s more money around than anyone reasonably wants to borrow. So, the Government intervenes in the market to remove those excess reserves, which accumulate in the commercial banks, by selling bonds and so push up longer term interest rates.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 10, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          You give an example of a simplistic isolated economy,which the modern world is not like at all.

          And I note no mention of credit, State money creation or increased wealth via discovery of resources, innovation, invention or population increase.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 10, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

            Should have said…..further State money creation.

    • John E
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Strange argument. I think you are conflating the twin deficits that we have in trade and in government spending.
      If deficits are so good, perhaps we should run a 50% deficit and thereby make ourselves rich?

    • APL
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      “There can only be a government surplus if someone else runs a deficit.”

      The government could reduce it’s participation in the economy. Give back taxes to the productive sector of the economy and restrict itself to governing rather than making cars or purifying water, or branding citizens with ID cards, another idea that seems to have been disinterred.

    • waramess
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I fail to see why the focus seems always to be on the redistribution of even more wealth from the private sector to the public sector.

      Now, here’s an idea: how about the government reducing the amount it spends by five percent of GDP. This reduces the deficit and at the same time releases wealth back to the private sector.

      Wow, now that’s a revelation. Might actually help the current account deficit to boot.

      There are those of course who will insist that reduced government spending will reduce GDP, and to those I would suggest a little less reading and a little more thinking

    • acorn
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Peter, with a reply like that, you should definitely not be voting Conservative. Alas, no other Party would give you a better answer. They are all “deficit Hawks”, and they haven’t got a clue why!!!

    • petermartin2001
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes I’d like the UK private sector to grow and produce more tax revenue too. But, the fact remains, and its not a matter of opinion, that the sum of the three sectors still has to equal zero.

      So, if the government wants to have a balanced budget, and both you and I want the private sector to be getting richer (ie in surplus) then the ROW has to move into deficit. In the situation of an exactly balanced government budget, the surplus of the private sector will equal the deficit of the ROW to the penny.

      That means the UK has to start exporting more than it imports. Now, it’s over thirty years since that happened. It could happen again but it’s going to take longer, IMO, than 5 years to turn that situation around. It also means that the government needs to be working with industry, and also has to educate the public, and some politicians, on the relationship between the two deficits.

      Reply I understand the deficits and surpluses balance. You never seem to understand the dynamics of all this, and always want to just run one deficit against one surplus without seeing there are several sectors to change and balance.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        I dont know where you get your facts from Peter, but there is no reason for “the sum of all three sectors to be equal to zero”.
        They can be any set of different numbers equal to their total.

      • acorn
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        ” … just run one deficit against one surplus without seeing there are several sectors to change and balance.”

        Er … perhaps you could explain what the “several sectors” are JR? Because like Peter, I can only think of three primary sectors in a fiat currency economy. Three flows of “financial assets” that always sum to zero.

        Alas, in the absence of the UK getting a German level of exports to the Rest of the World (ROW) primary sector, Osborne can only get a zero deficit in the government primary sector; by having the non-government (private) primary sector go into debt.

        But, we already know this, because the OBR has told us ( Economic and fiscal outlook – December 2014) that the Household sub-sector of the non-government primary sector, will have to take on debt levels 15% greater that they were before the 2008 crash.

        Reply Public sector, individuals, corporate sector, overseas sector

        • petermartin2001
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          acorn,

          Yes, JR is right to say there can be more than three sectors. You can divide the economy up in any way you like, into as many sectors as you like. So , here JR has chosen to further divide the Private Domestic Sector into Individuals and the Corporate Sector.

          I can’t see how this changes anything. The principle of summation to zero still applies.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      But if during each financial year the government only spent what it had got in through taxation, and sundry other receipts such as the sale of unwanted assets, then it would have no need to borrow money to cover its annual budget deficits; and the disappearance of the present flows of money from the private sector into the Treasury through the sales of gilts would offset, if not exactly match, the effect of the government only spending up to the limit of its revenues and not beyond.

      Possibly the Treasury would still need to have some short-term borrowings because of seasonal and other irregularities in the revenue stream, but it would no longer need to increase its long-term borrowings year after year; and so whatever extra had been taken from the rest of the economy through increased revenues, or whatever sums were no longer flowing to the rest of the economy because of reductions in public spending, would be more or less matched by the cessation of long-term borrowing by the government.

      If the government went further and started to run annual budget surpluses, then the effect on the rest of the economy would depend on what it chose to do with that surplus money. If it chose to hoard it as deposits with the Bank of England, as it could do, then money would indeed drain from the rest of the economy into its accounts:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Fund

      On the other hand, if it chose to use the surplus to pay down the long-term debt accumulated by wastrel politicians over decades then the money used for that purpose would go to the holders of that debt, so almost all of it would be recycled back into the rest of the economy.

      • acorn
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        I / We were going to reply to your comment Denis, but we haven’t stopped laughing yet. The “economic” comments on this site get more ludicrous by the day; still, to be expected in a run up to an election on an ultra right wing web-site.

        The bit that you Rednecks have not clued up to is; you will be the first people that Osborne gouges out after the election. Some of us are hedging against a Tory win, while betting on a Tory win, in true (sub-prime mortgage) Spiv City of London style. I bet JR is doing the same; he knows what’s coming; he and me, ain’t going to be telling you muppets.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted March 11, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          Acorn,

          You’re right. A lot of these comments don’t make any sense at all. But we should try to explain why.

          For example. This is way off:

          “……..if it chose to use the surplus to pay down the long-term debt ….. the money used for that purpose would go to the holders of that debt.. it would be recycled back into the rest of the economy.”

          If the government, say, made a surplus of just £1o what would they do with it? Say I have £10 worth of Premium bonds which makes me a holder of government debt.

          So the government give me another £10? I’m now holding £20 of government debt. So their debt has doubled! So clearly Denis’s solution just doesn’t work. Although if the government were really giving me money I’d pretend it would!

          So what can the government do with its extra £10? The answer is nothing. It has just got back one of its own IOUs so it can only put it in the shredder!

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure that it helps to mix up the budget and trade deficits and we do need to look at the context in which terms like ‘surplus’ and ‘deficit’ are used.

      If the government runs a deficit, then the shortfall (if honestly funded) will come from the gilts which the government issues. Many of these gilts will be purchased by private institutions. If the government does not run a deficit, these private institutions can now invest in the private sector. Nothing horrible has happened to the private sector and it might even benefit.

      Don’t think you should lose any sleep about the trade deficit, Peter. Despite cumulative current account deficits over the last 20 years, the UK’s net overseas asset position does not seem to have deteriorated. This suggests to me that growth in the value of overseas assets is being used to pay for imports. In any case, we have to remember that the pound sterling is a floating currency and can rapidly adjust to correct trade imbalances.

      Peter, you should vote for that party which promises to leave well alone whilst in power.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:55 am | Permalink

        ” there are several sectors to change and balance”.

        Yes. I’d agree with that. In fact that’s exactly what I’m saying. We can’t just treat any one of them in isolation. If we want to balance the government budget we need to see what needs to change in the other sectors too.

        Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen the necessary discussion on that point.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I think you have to make a distinction between the ‘real’ and ‘financial economy which exists as a proxy for the real one. The two have been getting badly out of kilter lately . The deficit is being ‘funded’ by manipulation of the financial economy..sooner or later this will end badly as we realise that this ‘virtual wealth creation’ is running way ahead of what’s happening in the ‘real’ economy.

      Our stock of money and credit is a pile of “claims” on the goods and services produced by the real economy, either today or in the future. If the quantity of these goods and services is smaller than the quantity of claims that exist, then those claims – meaning money, together with its ‘derivatives’ such as debt – must be devalued or destroyed, in one way or another.

      This is what is happening – the financial economy is being manipulated to create an illusion of growth in the real economy. Money, as a store of wealth is being destroyed in the process – zero interest rates and quantitive easing are grossly abnormal and are just a sticking plaster being used to keep us afloat for now.

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I cannot see how a “grand coalition’ would not work. JR you list a few ideological differences between the two parties. However when it comes to actually doing things both parties behave in virtually the same way. Dave champs at the bit, just as Blair did with the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, in his enthusiasm with them to get stuck into Syria and the Ukraine. On a personal level I have had my child benefit taken off me because I am deemed as being “rich”. We still have an economic policy that is built around deficit spending and money printing. While he is quite happy to accept the status quo with the EU. Did he not say that we have to keep paying benefits to EU citizens because we would be challenged in the courts if we did not? Then what happened did not the Germans win a case over paying a woman from Romania?

    As far as I am concerned, from 2010 onwards, we have had is a continuity nu Labour government anyway, so both parties would be not find a coalition hard to put into practice.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      There is hardly a fag paper between the two parties. They are both Europhile, mass migration supporters, human rights, foreign aid, HS2, balkanisation of England etc etc.

      • A different Simon
        Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        When I was growing up in the 1970’s I (perhaps naively) associated The Labour Party with heavy industry and the people who worked in those industries .

        Now , Labour are synonymous with the dinner party holding middle class of North London . They detest industry and have no intention of heading up the M1 .

        All three branches of LibLabCon are completely London-centric and sadly have little to offer the rest of England or the UK .

    • Jon
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I’m assuming you have just come of age for voting and have limited knowledge of Labour? Every time that have come to power since the 1920’s odd they have either bankrupted or near bankrupted the nation. They load the next generation with huge debt, the last time far worse than before because of the massive rises in what is deemed legal leverage levels.

      I would say you are believing what Labour say in that they can balance the books, they never have and never will. That hits the youngsters harder than other groups. Their, Gordon Brown’s debt interest is around £50bn every year and that’s on low interest rates. It dwarfs the funding to eradicate world poverty though throwing money at that is another subject.

      • Dame Rita Webb
        Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Eh I remember having to do my homework by candlelight when Ted Heath reduced everybody to a three day week. Did not your darling Maggie also let inflation rise up to 20 odd %? I remember Norman Lamont pee-ing away a few billion in a futile attempt to keep the £ in the ERM. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

        • Jon
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Yes I didn’t like the Unions either. The last Labour government failed to secure enough energy production risking the lights going out yet again. Something this government are resolving though without their help. Thatcher’s government deal with the aftermath of a Labour government that had an IMF bailout and finished with a relatively low level of debt and busy economy. It wasn’t all roses but they sorted the problems Labour left and balanced the books.

  3. Old Albion
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    A ‘grand coalition’ would last about a month, then we would have to do it all again.
    It’s only being proposed to fight off the SNP when they clean up in Scotland.
    I say let the SNP take it’s seats in Westminster and watch it interfere in the business of England. It may actually awaken the masses in England to the travesty of democratic government imposed on us by Westminster.

    • zorro
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Exactly….. This is to do with countering the SNP.

      zorro

    • William Gruff
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Here here to that. A SNuLab coalition will be good for England.

      Here’s to an English Parliament and Independence for England, and good riddance to Scotland.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Good points well and succinctly made OA.

      As an aside, have you ever noticed how trenchant Euro-sceptics suddenly become pro-EU when they get into positions of power?

      Tad

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Well much of the Tory party want no or just superficial fig leaf EU renegotiation and many do not want any referendum or only one if the BBC can swing it for the staying in.

    The differences between the Cameron wing of the Tories and Labour is not that great.

    The reason people are pessimistic is the consistency of the polls with the Tories if anything sliding back slightly. That and the fact that Cameron is continuing with his wet, greencrap, labour light agenda. He shows now signs of starting a snowball rolling with any vision at all. The current polls give them about a 16% chance of an overall majority and that will have many people like Ken Clark it.

    It is a perfectly winnable election mainly thanks to Miliband, it just need a working compass and some real vision – for cheap energy, lower taxes, relaxed planning, more homes, far less EU, more jobs, real growth, simpler taxes, more less incompetent and more efficient public services, a fair deal for the English and fewer but better regulations.

    When is the Manifesto finally to be published and what will it say about all the past ratting on the EU, on taxes, on IHT, on the deficit, on the 600,000 levels of immigration……

    • Bazman
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      A right wing manifesto would not win the election for the Tories, so what does that tell you about the population and your views that this is what is needed? They do not understand? They do understand and that is the problem how do you propose to force self serving London based right wing nonsense upon them?

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

        Yes it would win the election, Bazman.

        With Ukip voters returning to the fold. (Some 25% have left the Tory party.)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        So why did Lady Thatcher win four election, including the one with Major as her chosen man (before the electorate sussed what and incompetent John Major really was and buried the party for 3+ terms so far).

        Why did Cameron fail to beat sitting duck Brown at the last election and is odds on to lose this one too?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        I’m amazed you think Lifelogic’s call for cheap energy, lower taxes, et al is a right wing agenda and would be unpopular.

        Do you and the Labour party think the opposite would be good?

      • Bazman
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Would not win and what out call right wing is out of the park. Massive benefit cuts, massive tac cuts for the rich funded by indirect taxation, no minimum wage, no NHS, cheap energy would mean no energy and many other policies that would just be dismissed by sensible voters.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 10, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Im puzzled Baz, which party is proposing these policies you have listed?

          • Bazman
            Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

            Your make believe one and maybe the Tories if you let them back in.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 12, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            Dodging the answer like a real politician Baz.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Spot on LL, and you’re telling it like it really is.

      There’s a school of thought that says virility is diminishing amongst the British male population. When I look at some Tories, I don’t doubt it for a minute. We are absolutely crying out for strong leadership, but all we seem to get are weakling opportunists who promise anything to get elected, then spectacularly fail to deliver in key areas such as immigration, and spin it like the unintended consequences of their success. They then have the audacity to expect us to trust them all over again.

      That is an insult to our intelligence!

      Most of us who post on this blog could wipe the floor with the likes of Clegg, Miliband, Bennett and Sturgeon. The Tories have had plenty of chances to score an open goal and get a leader who can put clear blue water between themselves and the rest. If they fail this time, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves, and they’ll nose-dive until they finally kick out the Heath-ites.

      Tad

    • Hope
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      LL, at the last election Labour had its lowest turn out since 1918 and the least popular PM in living memory and Cameron could not beat him. As Lord Ashcroft pointed out no one knew what he stood for. I think it is clear that Cameron went into coalition to change ge his party and share any fall out.if he had any courage he would have done the same as Harper in Canada, gone it alone and called an early election to get the majority if the people liked what they saw. 5 years on and now we have Tories wanting a coalition with Labour! Cameron made it clear at Rochester he had more in com one with Labour than UKIP. I think it is clear he is center left or a Liberal conservative to use his own words or a an heir to Blaire; nothing Tory about him that is why he could not make his case against an open goal in 2010. The LIbLabCon cartel are the same EU team the only other choice is UKiP.
      Today we read in the DM how Clegg and Cameron have been covering up the papers over Cyril Smith! He was telling us there would be an inquiry. Westminster is still rotten to the core and radical change is required. Cameron and Clegg have made no significant changes in 5 years despite promises in 2009 to the contrary, I can only conclude they were lying.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Rodents to be given human rights by the greens I see. Is there any end to the endless insanity of the Greens? Last week we had the bonkers abolition of “Landlords Mortgage Rate Relief” as they incorrectly kept calling it. Illustrating perfectly that they have not got a clue about the taxation system or energy production or even green issues. Still if they take votes from Labour good luck to them.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/green-party/11456572/Rodents-to-be-given-human-rights-under-Green-Party-plans.html?

  5. Alan Wheatley
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The time and effort spent by parties and the media on the alliances that might be formed after the election is inversely proportional to the time and effort spent before the election on the merits and demerits of parties by which they should be attracting votes.

    Voters need to understand the party options to guide their voting choices. Seems to me the media prefer speculating about future deals because it is easier than addressing the facts.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Please will know what they want when they are offered it as Lady Thatcher showed in 3+1 with Major election victories.

      Dipping your finger in surveys of floating voters in margins and aping labour is not the way to effect the sea change needed.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        People will know – not Please sorry.

        Had polls asked people 30 years ago if they wanted say, pocket GPS navigation systems, or Twitter in their pockets, or right to buy schemes they probably would have said no thanks very much. But when offered them they loved them.

        The Tories need to offer voters some real & positive vision. A low tax cheap energy, far less government, lower taxes, fewer but better regulations, efficient but small government that works and an excellent prospect of growth. Labour light is certainly not a vision many will want to vote for they might as well have the dreadful Labour proper.

  6. agricola
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    You are absolutely right on so called Grand Coalitions. I do not believe it was a serious proposal even by the gentleman who made it, just a bit of blue sky speculation. I do not have much time for any sort of coalition. They bare too much resemblance to marrying a hooker.

    After the election, should the conservatives be in need of friends, there is only one party that remotely thinks as they do and that as you know is UKIP. It would seem to me that UKIP would be prepared to give conditional support to a conservative government, but that government would have to re-discover it’s roots. In so doing they may well have to say goodbye to CMD whose conservative ethos and interest in the wishes of the electorate are questionable. He has only begun to sound like a conservative in the past month, by at last talking the talk, but we all know why. I would conjecture that his only interest is power and the electorate are an inconvenient stumbling block to it every five years. Sad really because he can communicate.

    Were there to be a Grand Coalition between Labour ,Lib /Dems ,SNP and the Greens, on the basis that they all believe in existing on other peoples money, then you can look forward to a rats in a barrel cabaret, while in the process of destroying each other they destroy the UK too.

    • Sandra Cox
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Would that mean that UKIP will be the main thrust of the Opposition and have the majority of Opposition questions at PMQs? That should make interesting, unmissable telly! 🙂

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      UKIP will not have more than perhaps 3 MPs and so will be irrelevant in the numbers game. The Tories will struggle to find anyone with enough MPs who will support them. SNP, Greens, Libdems, Plaid Cymru will surely all go with labour. It will be a disaster for the UK and for England in particular.

      And all thank to Cameron’s broken compass, lefty no vision agenda, love of the EU and his cynical cast iron ratting.

      • A different Simon
        Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        UKIP may well poll more votes than the SNP yet end up with less than a tenth of the number of seats .

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Yes, mainly because UKIP’s votes will be spread over more than ten times the number of constituencies.

      • alan jutson
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        I have to say it des not look good does it !.

        The Conservatives have only one party that is close to them which is UKIP, all the others are spend and Tax more, the very last thing the Country needs.

        Depressing really.

    • DaveM
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Absolutely.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    C Booker in the telegraph is spot on again in the Telegraph, especially his – BBC climate change stance in brazen defiance of the law, on the Climate change by numbers absurd propaganda.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      c Bookers article is good but it does rather raise the question as to why, if the BBC really is behaving unlawfully in its coverage of global warming, C Booker or someone else doesn’t take out a private prosecution against the BBC?

  8. formula57
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Talk of a grand coalition I assumed only arose from anti-SNP sentiments. It is therefore most astute of the Prime Minister to call upon Mr Miliband to rule out a coalition between Labour and the SNP, thereby leaving him free to enter one if needs be (as may well be so). Then Scotland’s exit from the Union could be accelerated to the delight of the SNP and the benefit of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A good day’s work.

  9. The PrangWizard
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Such protestations and assertions of alleged differences are just so much hot air. The fact is your two parties are so close over many things that it is perfectly possible to imagine some sort of coalition. What about the green pact, already enshrined and gold plated, and indeed the EU, where very many in your party are happy to stay in without any change, and on state intervention in vast areas of economic and social policy. We’ve had debate about the speed of paying off the deficit and your party’s view has been modified anyway. Many people can’t see much difference between the two of you.

    We’ve had Tim Montgomerie doing what sounded like a party political broadcast for the Labour party the other day with his support for a bigger minimum wage,(something you support I believe), intervention in individual behaviour and the like.

    You are in a minority, the leadership plays games with you, pays you and the few like you lip service only. You will know this but as ‘stick of rock’ Tory you will probably never admit it. I’m sure that whatever they do to you, you will stay with them. A test may however be close. You do a large number of voters no service when many want real change and have in the past looked in vain to you.

    And off topic, how many votes do you think your leader Dave, or Fake Earnest, has gained by making another statement which he probably has no intention whatsoever of honouring, by saying people should have the right to hunt? He insults those he claims to support. It will disappear just as his determined support for England has disappeared.

  10. Sandra Cox
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    “Conservatives want a renegotiation with the EU and an In/Out referendum. ….. Conservatives want English votes for English issues. ..”

    John, many of us want those things, but let’s be honest, the Conservative and Unionist Party, under Cameron and his puppeteers, are only paying lip service to the above two issues.

    Concern for our country, and England in particular, are not on our Parliament’s radar. We are being sacrificed at the altar of the EU Project, all neatly gagged, and trussed up into manageable portions!

    Cameron will do what it takes – will throw another election, will side with any party (except UKIP) will make empty promises – to ensure that we remain in the most tragic experiment visited upon the people of Europe!

  11. Richard1
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    A grand coalition is an absurd idea. It has been raised by the normally sensible Kenneth Baker. The main thing he wants to achieve with it is to stop Scottish separatism. I don’t see the point. The Labour Party very foolishly put the cancer of Scottish separatism on steroids with devolution. The best thing now is to move to a federal model with England (& Wales and N Ireland if they want it) getting equivalent devolution. It’s very unlikely people in Scotland will ever be foolish enough to vote for separation but it’s clear they will vote in the absurd and populist SNP in elections as they perceive, rightly, that this means ever more money and concessions being shovelled in their direction. The cure for this is equal devolution with Justice for England, so Scots will have themselves to pay for the SNPs policies. My prediction if we do this is the Conservatives will be back with 50% of Scottish seats after a couple of Parliaments, once power and responsibility are in the same place.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the reason people are talking about a grand coalition, is because never before have we had such a poor choice of party leaders.

    Out of all of the leaders (including the Greens) only Farage stands out as anything like a person you would cross the road to listen to, and he does not have enough sensible people backing him, to form any sort of government.

    In short, we lack a real Statesman or Woman who we can feel has the Country’s best interests at heart., instead we have wishy washy, politically correct (limp wristed) people who simply aspire to power through their political, educational, financial, union connections. who all lack real fire in their belly.

    Agreed a grand coalition would be a disaster.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      I have noted on this forum and on other forums in the past, that when looking at the presidential candidates for the USA elections, I think;
      “If these are the best Two candidates America can come up with out of a population approaching Two-hundred and seventy million, then God help them!”
      Sadly, I now find my self expressing similar sentiments, when I see and hear the quality of our current party leaders and would be Prime Ministers.

  13. Sandra Cox
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    “As someone who has helped construct the Conservative Manifesto, …”

    John, as the Conservative Party owes its very existence to English voters – can you confirm that the Party is producing a separate manifesto for England, as it apparently has always done for the other three nations?

    Thank you.

  14. Mondeo Man
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    A grand Lab/Con coalition might not be in prospect if only Mr Cameron wouldn’t prefer it over a pact with UKIP.

  15. Mike Stallard
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    May I please enlarge the focus of this debate?
    A lot of the problem, as UKIP and the Greens and the SNP keep telling us is that the two historic parties are more or less both saying the same thing.
    A lot of the reason for this is the professionalism of the MPs many (not all) are more interested in their own future than in representing the true interests of our country. You must know this is true.
    Increasingly orders are issued from No 10 or from Labour HQ. Tony Blair actually had people on the phone getting their instructions.
    In the olden days the parties had their own local offices which were in close touch with the MP. How in touch the leaders of the parties are – who knows?

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    JR: “The differences between Labour and Conservatives in today’s UK are large and important. They do not allow forming a common government in 9 weeks time.”

    Much the same could have been said in 2010 about the LibDems and your party.
    Your ‘leader’ has demonstrated time and again that he has few principles , has no qualms about breaking election promises and would jettison anything to stay in power. As for “impeding true democracy” that has no meaning to anyone who wishes to keep the UK subjugated in the EU.
    Perhaps you should look to another party which better reflects your principles and beliefs.

  17. zorro
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    John, I thought that this might be the subject of the blog today and was wondering how you would address it. I think you are beginning to see the reality of Blue Labour continuity politics…… As others have said on the big issues, foreign policy, immigration, deficit/debt, there is little real difference in reality.

    Until the PM and First Lord of the Treasury finds it within himself to actually stand up proud and debate his record with honour in the debates before all comers, people will make their own opinions about him. I doubt that they will be altogether positive somehow, and the Tory Party will not have a hope in hell of getting a majority – assuming that the PM wants one or would know what to do with one. I suspect that he has become rather used to the fig leaf covering his modesty.

    zorro

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      There is no real difference.

      The Conservatives made a massive cock up in electing John Major instead of John Redwood…then unforgivably gave the top job to another Labour sleeper ..David Cameron.

      But it was the election of Major that was a turning point in history that led to events which we may never recover.

      Had Redwood succeeded, we would have been spared the ERM and black wednesday, a shrivelled Conservative party that turned it’s back on it’s supporters , Tony Blair’s landslide… the Iraq war etc.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Exactly. He does not seem to even want a Majority.

  18. A.Sedgwick
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Agreed, it is another form of bucking the market.

  19. DaveM
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    The only reason I can see for Con Lab to want a Grand Coalition is so they can walk into the HoC and turn left.

    In case the Westminster/BBC/Daily Mail bubble hadn’t noticed, the world is in meltdown. What the country needs is a strong leader with a strong, united party behind him/her. It needs people who believe in what they stand for and have the country’s interest at the forefront.

    The Scots want to be autonomous and independent (even those who voted NO). The English are fed up with unchecked migration and being taken for mugs, and they’re fed up with enemies living in our midst with a police force castrated by the ECHR. The Welsh desperately need something to replace the coal mining industry. The N Irish need help to rejuvenate industry. And, in Westminster, all you can talk about is bloody TV debates (which no-one really cares about anyway because we know it will resemble a bunch of schoolkids squabbling. In fact, that’s being unfair to schoolkids).

    A coalition of Con Lab would last all of 20 minutes. Will you lot just grow up?!

  20. David Murfin
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    ‘Grand Coalitions’ between parties with opposing policies are born out of fear of a threat to both. Why else were we allied to USSR in 1941? It’s about time our two major parties felt threatened, but talk of a grand coalition will highlight the unpleasant ways in which they are similar and disguise their differences.

  21. JoeSoap
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    You are sticking your neck out here.

    “Conservatives want a renegotiation with the EU and an In/Out referendum.”
    If they really did, why haven’t they had one already?

    Conservatives want English votes for English issues.
    I would dispute that on the evidence of the past 6 months.

    Conservatives want tax cuts.
    Sorry, this government has increased many many taxes.

    Conservatives wish to remove the deficit next Parliament.
    As they supposedly wanted to last time, and it didn’t happen.

    You have very flimsy arguments here, which is why Cameron is unwilling to defend himself on TV, and why it is perfectly viable to say Liberals Labour and Conservatives are at one on most issues.

  22. eeyore
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Wise words indeed, Mr Redwood. I hope the Conservatives are building a war chest for a second election this winter, and have already laid their plans for the issue they will call it on.

  23. Edward2
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I hope that in the event of Labour or the Conservatives ending as the largest party they will just try to form a Government and carry on.
    If other parties want to vote for them or against them and bring down the government forcing an election then so be it.

    Perhaps on the subsequent election voters will give one party a majority.

    The thought of either a Labour SNP grouping or a grand coalition fills me with dred.

  24. oldtimer
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    A grand coalition would be a nightmare coalition. The political parties would be better advised first to set out their stalls for fighting the GE, than trying to stitch up the electorate before a vote has been cast.

    I think I can see why the idea was proposed. Namely if the SNP holds the balance of power after May they could choose to sabotage parliamentary business unless and until the SNP`s own demands were met. If it came to that presumably some supply and confidence arrangement could be reached between the other parties to get through business that mattered such as a Finance Bill.

    Alternatively the House could vote for an early election in which the SNP would be the issue.

  25. Mark B
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    You forgot to mention Germany. After their elections, Frau Merkel’s CDU had to go into a Grand Alliance with their political rivals, the SPD. If Germany can do it, so too can the Conservatives and Labour. After all, it has been rumored that the current coalition had to be formed due to one might say, foreign interests and those that like to talk to plants. 😉

    In any case, it does not matter who you vote for, as we have seen so many examples of where the various parties have reneged on said promises. Far better to give an under-dog a chance.

  26. APL
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    JR: “I find it extraordinary that some people are proposing a grand coalition”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31776943

    It’s the wet wing of the Tory party, otherwise known as the Labour party in sheep’s clothing.

    That a member of the Tory party can suggest such an alliance says all you need to know about his political alignment.

  27. Tad Davison
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Does it really matter who wins and with what policies?

    It seems to me, that as soon as an MP assumes ministerial office, they get told by the Whitehall mandarins that they cannot do this or that, and they subsequently become placid, compliant little pro-Europeans anyway.

    Tad

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      It’s certainly true that after the election of the Wilson government in February 1974 the Foreign Office mandarins easily persuaded him that it would be a tactical error to seek any changes at all to the EEC treaties; so he didn’t, and the 1975 referendum was in fact about staying in on exactly the same treaty terms agreed by Heath, even though Labour had promised in its election manifesto to “immediately seek a fundamental renegotiation of the terms of entry”.

      We know this because it was recorded here:

      http://issuu.com/fcohistorians/docs/1_spreckley_report_-_part_1

      Instead Wilson dressed up minor and temporary changes within the scope of the existing treaties as being “big and significant improvements on the previous terms”, and unfortunately few of the voters knew enough about the technicalities to see through this gross deceit.

      The question is whether the voters now have a better understanding or they could still be bamboozled in the same way by Cameron, in the event that he actually attempted a similar “fundamental renegotiation” with the same kind of outcome and then put it to a referendum; and, like Cameron, I reckon that they are still sufficiently ill-informed and with the aid of the media he could indeed pull off the same trick as Wilson.

  28. ian wragg
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Desperate to maintain the status quo. Dave and Ed would gladly team up as there isn’t a fag paper of difference between them.
    Labour and Tories plus the other idiot party are high tax, waste, stupid energy policy tree hugging shysters who are anti England to a man/woman.
    This would be a most cynical move and demonstrate that all at Westminster are about protecting their perks.
    I see Gideon is trying to cut the defence budget again. When are we going to get some grown up people in Parliament,

  29. Bert Young
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    We all know there is no chance of a coalition between Labour and the Conservatives . During his hay day I never had much regard for Baker – still less now . The way to deal with the SNP threat is to legislate for EVEL and to let Scotland go its own way if need be ; a democracy cannot be held to ransom by minority influences .

    The truth is the country is fed up with the leadership we have now . Too many promises have been made and not kept ; we are desperate for someone who has experience under his belt and has the vision and the will to lead us out of the EU and reunite us with the Commonwealth . Our voice and place in the world depends on this integrity and respected leadership .

  30. Bob
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    “Conservatives want a renegotiation with the EU and an In/Out referendum. Labour opposes that implacably. Conservatives want English votes for English issues. Labour opposes that and refuses to recognise the case for England. Conservatives want tax cuts, Labour wants to impose extra taxes. Conservatives wish to remove the deficit next Parliament. Labour thinks that is going too far.”

    What’s the problem? The Tories ditched the £1m IHT threshold and the Lib Dems ditched their opposition to tuition fees, it’s just a process of negotiation. Labour and the Modern Tories have more in common than that which divides them and it’s time that they both came out of the closet and admitted it.

  31. William Long
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I think Mr E Milliband has done this country a great service in promoting a left wing agenda that even Messrs Cameron and Osbourne are not promising to’Match’ as they were with Labour’s spending plans in the last Government. It is the first time for many years that there is sufficient difference between the main parties for the electorate to have the alternative to which it is entitled.
    I also think though that Mr M has a real advantage over the Conservative leadership in that he clearly believes in his left wing agenda, rather than, like the Conservative duo, apparently just believing in whatever they think at any time is most likely to get them elected, and I have to say that I respect him for this. However I fundamentally disagree with him and I find it amazing and profoundly worrying, that anyone is likely to vote for him to the extent thatthere is a real possibility of him winning.
    The Conservatives have a potent message that can appeal across the social spectrum if properly articulated. It has the advantage of being the truth; Socialism cannot deliver what it promises because in the end it will always destroy the economy and is a great fraud on the electorate. Mrs Thatcher knew this and got the message across; why is the present leadership incapable of doing the same?

  32. backofanenvelope
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Of course, a Grand Coalition doesn’t require all the Tory MPs to command a majority in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister and the payroll vote plus the Labour Party would probably do.

  33. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Obviously the idea of a Grand Coalition is “extraordinary”, JR; but on the other hand it is not unprecedented because National Governments have been formed in the past, in fact on five (or possibly six) occasions during the last century:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Government_(United_Kingdom)

    The question is whether the circumstances are so abnormal that they justify a temporary suspension of normal party politics. Personally I felt that this was the case in 2010, and it would have been better if the Tories, Labour and the LibDems had joined together in a National Government to avert impending financial and economic disaster, but the party leaders felt otherwise and preferred to carry on playing their partisan games.

    Now there is the threat that the SNP may be invited into a coalition government after the next election, extracting as their price constitutional changes which at worst would lead on to the disintegration of the United Kingdom, or alternatively to the permanent and complete legal subjugation of the United Kingdom to the EU, and the leaders of the old parties are still insisting on playing their partisan games.

    So far the SNP have ruled out any kind of deal with the hated Tories, but are open to some kind of deal with Labour, the now equally hated “Red Tories”, while the Labour leader declines to rule out any deal with the SNP even though Labour MPs elected in Scotland have pressed him to do so; and now some figures in the Tory party, which historically bears by far the greatest share of responsibility for the rise of disaffection among the Scots, are trying to exploit the dilemma of the Labour leader for their own narrow partisan advantage, even though there is little doubt that their own party leader would be willing to make a deal with the SNP if that was the only way for him to remain as Prime Minister; and I believe that there may also have been some chirruping on the sidelines from the LibDem leader, although I can’t recollect what he said; and as a British as well as English patriot I find all this sickening, and I am more convinced than ever that I should not give any of those three old parties any kind of endorsement by voting for one of their candidates.

  34. Edward Saunders
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I really cannot understand how any person with Conservative principles could possibly consider a coalition with any part led by Marxist Milliband.

  35. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I would be surprised if any party totally got their own way and as a democracy compromise must work . I do agree with your policies though. there are so many more influential businesses and people in the equation who would dismiss anything but their own power.

  36. Vanessa
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    With no boundary changes, the tories are going to have an extremely difficult task to win over a majority to vote for them. Sadly, just the economy is not enough these days to persuade most of us to vote for the incumbent.

    We all know Cameron wants to stay in the EU so negotiations will be a farce and he will wave his piece of paper at Heathrow saying he has got all he wanted (whatever that is). Then, as the Lisbon Treaty has a “self-amending” clause, the Commission will just re-adjust the negotiations a few weeks later to obliterate them. Back to square one.

    Also Cameron is a very accomplished liar – something he has done over his 5 years in government and we would all be stupid to believe anything he says.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      You’ve been misled about the “self-amending” nature of the Lisbon Treaty.

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, according to an opinion poll reported here:

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9280

    “76% of people think that the government should be trying to reduce immigration and almost as many (72%) think the government should try to put a cap on the maximum amount of immigration allowed each year. Asked about the principle of an specific figure 52% of people would prefer an annual cap or limit, 36% think a limit isn’t practical and governments should not try to set a specific figure. Despite Nigel Farage’s recent rejection of the idea of a specific cap, the idea is most popular amongst UKIP voters – 72% of Ukippers think governments should be setting a specific cap on immigration.”

    I also note it being reported elsewhere that Cameron has ordered a re-write of the Tory manifesto, so it seems that Farage is not the only one making up policy on the hoof.

  38. Alfred Philp
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Why on earth is the matter of English votes for English MPs being left until after the election.

  39. agricola
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link. It is quite horrifying what the BBC see as their mission in the distribution of propaganda. I have found that it even slips into programmes like Countryfile. Until a politician of integrity arrives in number 10 it will continue, mostly because the present incumbents are net beneficiaries through their climate change taxes. They collect the tax through their agents the large energy distribution companies, but the industry that supposedly spends the money to mitigate climate change is just about the most chaotic you could imagine. Mostly because of indecision by government and the power companies tardiness in paying it’s bills.

    I am all for creating and using energy efficiently but I do not appreciate it being based on a lie disseminated by the BBC.

  40. Terry
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Are those proposing a new Grand Coalition the same ones who think that the existing one has worked well. Clegg and his band of wishy washy dreamers led Dear Dave on a merry chase and he dutifully fell in behind. In doing so he abandoned true blue Tory principles and lost a lot of true blue support for his mistakes. Deservedly so. Why would anyone want to repeat past mistakes and expect to gain a different result? Only a madman.

    Like it or not, if UKIP hold sufficient seats they will Mr Cameron’s only choice in a hung Parliament. Mr Farage has already opened the door for him by declaring that he, the UKIP Leader, would not be a good Prime Minister. If, God help us, it comes down to a Miliband and SNP coalition, personal pride and prudishness must take a back seat to the safety of our Nation and the preservation of English democracy.

    Gather ye rosebuds while ye may but beware the mushrooms.

  41. Bazman
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    My eight year daughter is learning about the upcoming election at school. I asked her what she had learned and told me that they had pictures of the leaders in the library and had learned their names.
    “David Cameron has a blue border, Ed Miliband has red border, Nigel Farage a purple one and the one with the yellow border I can’t remember the name of that guy….” LOL!

  42. Chris S
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    We don’t need a Grand Coalition, what we need is an end of the FPTP system.

    I never supported this before because, for all its faults, it did at least produce decisive government but clearly this is no longer the case and the position is unlikely to change anytime soon.

    The very thought that the SNP can win almost all the seats in Scotland and more than 50 seats in all with such a smal number of votes is surely proof enough ?

    UKIP will be right to complain bitterly if they score anywhere near 15-20% of the popular vote, more than the LibDems and SNP together, yet only a handful of seats.

    How can the Conservatives be happy to see get upwards of 20% of the Scottish votes yet no seats ? Labour would prbably not be completely decimated in Scotland either.

    If we had some sensible form of PR and proper, equal devolution across the UK we would certainly have a Right of Centre government for England. UKIP and the Conservatives would be a much more representative coalition to govern England and the UK than any other. They would agree on a lot more policy areas as well.

    While I remain a Conservative, a coalition with UKIP would at least put some backbone into the Conservative leadership and we would get a “proper” Conservative programme.
    Not the wishy washy liberal-leaning mess we have had for the last five years.

    Sad thing is, apart from boundary changes, Cameron has been very comfortable with everything else in the legislative programme.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      While I agree with your general drift, I think it has to be said that public opinion in Scotland has shifted far more than you seem to realise.

      The latest average polls in Scotland, and estimates of the numbers of seats which each party would win, are here:

      http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/scotland.html

      The number given for the SNP is 43.5%, which if precisely true would actually be a slightly higher proportion of the votes cast than any party has achieved in a UK general election since 1979 when the Tories got 43.9%, with Labour coming close to it with their 1997 landslide based on 43.2% of the votes cast.

      On the other hand that 43.5% of the votes would translate to the SNP winning 46 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, which at 78% of the seats would be a much more disproportionate outcome than for any recent UK general election – in 1979 the Tories got 53% of the seats, and in 1997 Labour got 63% of the seats.

      Meanwhile the Tories are not on “upwards of 20%” in Scotland, they are on just 16.5%, which as predicted would mean that they won no seats at all.

      Much if not most of this is down to the effect of the votes for a particular party being concentrated in certain seats; the SNP may be on less than 4% across the whole of the UK, but all their votes are concentrated into just 59 of the 650 constituencies; similarly the LibDems have a number of strongholds where they have deeply entrenched themselves and so their 8% support may still translate to 15 seats, even if they lose their deposits in numerous other constituencies; but the 14% overall support for UKIP is not sufficiently concentrated into certain areas for them to win more than a few seats, and indeed the (probably over-pessimistic) prediction on that site is that UKIP will win just a single seat, which would be the same as the Greens with less than half of UKIP’s level of support, 7%.

      • Monty
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        We could deal with those anomalies without making any changes to the voting system. We could retain FPTP to ensure each constituency gets it’s most favoured candidate into Westminster. But the voting strength of each MP could be adjusted to reflect their party’s overall share of the votes cast. The mathematics would be very simple. No voter would be able to say his vote had been a wasted vote.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure whether you mean just the winning candidate’s share of the votes cast in his constituency, or his party’s share of the votes cast across the country as a whole. But either way you could still end up with a party’s candidates getting say 20% of all the votes cast across the country but without a single one of them actually winning a seat, in which case there would be no MPs of that party to have their votes weighted in Commons divisions.

          • Monty
            Posted March 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            It would be the party’s share of the total national vote.

            Parties failing to win a single seat would be no worse off that they are now. But I could envisage a system whereby additional, non constituency seats could be created for parties that gain more than X% of the national votes cast, and their X% allocated to them. It would still be very easy and simple to do.

    • Richard
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      I voted at the referendum for AV, a far better system than either FPTP or pure PR.

      It is a pity the electorate did not understand or want its benefits.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        I voted for AV as a modest improvement on the present crude FPTP.

        The appalling conduct of that referendum should be seen as a lesson.

  43. Jon
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    When I heard grand coalition I thought what would then happen to the following election? A short term knee jerk reaction that does not think of what could emerge, probably nationalism on a big scale at the following election.

    I find Labour’s or Ed Milliband’s stance telling. Many like me believe he stabbed his brother in the back who was a far more able leader and politician though I don’t agree with either of their politics. He has now sided with the SNP knowing that it will cost a few more Scottish Labour seats. This is someone who will sell out Scottish Labour in favour of the SNP because he can see a route to power just as he sold out his own brother.

    He will sell anything including the Nuclear deterrent, balancing the books, our United Kingdom.

    The stakes are high in this election but caving in before you have done the battle is not good leadership. There is not one good leader in history that has done that I recon, Sometimes when the alternatives are so dark you have to stand your ground and fight with that high risk.

  44. Monty
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Given that there is already a large SNP majority at Holyrood, then suppose the SNP get their landslide of scottish seats in the general election, does that provide them with a new route to seek independance, with or without another referendum? It strikes me that would constitute a popular mandate for an independence bill.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      The SNP have a majority of one at Holyrood.
      They will continue to ‘..seek independence’ no matter how many seats they win at the General Election in May. Scotland already has a UKIP MEP so it appears that politics is polarising here as it has done throughout Europe.

      • Jon
        Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        I’m seeing a change in their direction post Salmond and referendum. They seem to be moving away from exercising the devolved powers. Their popularity, in other words their lively hood has been based on complaining about not having powers and the English.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if they are backing away from independence in order to maintain the ruse that they are hard done by, that afterall is what has given them their lively hood. Sturgeon and Swinney are talking more about the UK and nothing about using the devolved powers.

  45. David Tomlinson
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m working (voluntary sector) with a recently retired senior civil servant. She upholds the tradition that politicians set the policy and civil servants implement it (subject to legal constraints).

    She said it has been hopeless for civil servants like her under the Coalition because there is no Ministerial policy direction. Either two conflicting policies or, more often, no policy. She is adamantly anti-coalition for effective government.

    She also has commented on the Ministers (both Conservative and Labour but no Lib Dems) she found were good at policy making. No names for publication, but encouraging that a very able person felt there were also able politicians.

  46. A different Simon
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Would there be sufficient room for them all to sit on the Govt Benches ?

    If it did happen it could be the catalyst to relocate Parliament outside London .

    The Palace of Westminster site could be redeveloped or sold as is to Arabs/Chinese/Oligarchs/a despot .

  47. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    It seems that Mr Redwood’s ‘redline’ for resigning from the Conservative party is if they formed a pact with Labour. Well hasn’t the ‘modern’ Conservative party done that already ?.
    Why is Mr Redwood still clinging to a party that ditched his popular and sound policies years ago and replaced them with a heap of politically correct claptrap. ?

    – There has been a 500% increase in the number of very poor European migrants in the last year. Surely Labour would be proud of this and see it as further ‘rubbing of the rights nose in diversity’.

    – The Conservatives have exceeded the spending plans laid out by Alistair Darling

    – They have continued to use media manipulation and spin to ‘manage events’ and ‘bury bad news’.

    – The Conservatives have elevated the need to gain ‘moral superiority’ above all reason in pursuing an idiotic drive to ramp up spending on overseas aid .

    etc etc. all the similarites between Cameron’s Conservative party and Labour are too numerous to mention here.

  48. Richard
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I can very easily see a coalition between the Labour and Conservative parties.

    They both see power as more important than any principle and both wish to continue with EU membership, large scale immigration and the Climate Change Act.

  49. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I suppose an alternative to a Grand Coalition could be for the main Opposition party to agree to tolerate a minority government provided that it did not include the SNP.

    A Labour or Labour-led minority government could always win a vote of confidence if the Tory MPs just abstained, and likewise a Tory or Tory-led minority government could always survive a vote of confidence if the Labour MPs abstained.

  50. zorro
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    John, are you able to confirm or deny some information that the Tories may be considering some form of accommodation, or (dare I say it) coalition with the SNP in order to form a government post election?

    zorro

  51. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives’ best hope of victory is to point out that the Labour Party has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and is not fit t be within barge pole length of political power. It’s the simple truth.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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