A state of alert

Most of my time in Parliament and government has been spent against the background of high states of alert. We have always been told there are real threats of terrorist violence against the UK state. Can we ever look forward to a time when this is no longer true? Is there a danger that the currency of a heightened state of alert is devalued by its longstanding nature?

I took the threats very seriously when they came from the IRA. Escaping from the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton unscathed, and avoiding the attack on Downing Street made the threats real and visible. The more generalised threat from ISIL has so far not materialised in the same way in Westminster and Whitehall, though the government would accuse people of complacency if they think its lack of success so far means it is not an effective and real future danger.

The problems with a continued heightened state of alert are how do you keep people suitably vigilant against an evil day when the threat takes on material form? How do you answer the criticism that open borders makes the threat more likely, as there are patterns of behaviour with extremists coming and going to training grounds and command groups in Middle Eastern countries before entering the UK to undertake violent assault.

The dilemma any democratic state faces when responding to a terrorist threat is how do you balance the wish to keep open your society, to preserve your freedoms of speech and assembly, without creating such easy conditions for evil to flourish. If the state tightens security too much and interrupts normal life in the interests of security it can lead to a backlash from those who cherish civil liberties and become suspicious of the extent of the threat and the best way to respond to it. If the state does too little, and there is an assault, then the converse criticism holds sway.

I come to the simple conclusion that as democrats we believe in talking through and voting on our differences, not allowing resort to violence to prosecute disagreements. That is why we need to offer diplomacy and education rather than bombs as our contribution to the various peace processes underway in the Middle East. That is why we need to ask whether violence does simply beget more violence of a kind which can damage our own social fabric. In the meantime we need to be grateful to those intelligence services that have intercepted past plots, and hope they continue to do so. We also need to improve our border controls to deal with extremists wishing to come here.

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  1. Caterpillar
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    1. “… we need to offer … education …”

    What education, for whom, how?

    2. ” … threats of terrorist violence …”

    I do wonder, even in the UK, how many people are already too scared to say what they think, and to discuss real world political and religious issues.

  2. Hertorian
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The United Kingdom has a proud history in the world from China, Malaysia, India, South America, Africa, Middle East to Ireland. Even Canadian aboriginals, several days trek away, from small settlements have felt our kindnesses. Russia too. Foreigners have got to know us really well. We have made friends everywhere.

    It is no surprise that so very few people here have become “radicalised” and those who have choose to go elsewhere to practice their radicalism..Syria..and then come back to Mother UK and rest amongst their friends and fellow countrymen

    • Hope
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Foreign aid now available for people in Pakistan from cash machines! How could the looney tunes Dfid know who is withdrawing the money and how does this help security! The man in charge of wastefully giving away our taxes is given a knighthood and £170,000 a year! But our community charges can be increased by double digit percentage figures because it cannot afford to look after the elderly. The Tory govt has gone mad.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Yes. I remember the IRA campaigns. Real bombs. Real threats. We weren’t anywhere near as alarmed as we seem to be now.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      “How do you answer the criticism that open borders makes the threat more likely, …?”

      This is to miss the point. Our Government and authorities purport to be acting for our best interests when it is clear from their actions (open borders) that they aren’t. The issue of ID cards and a dramatic shift in the relationship between The People and the state is likely to be done long before a tightening of borders as pre Maastricht. Indeed ID cards might be introduced under the pretext of border insecurity and ‘saving the NHS.’

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        And also changes in snooping laws, powers of detention, arrest… All restrictions on freedom done in the guise of protecting us from terror while border security is ignored.

        Clearly freedom of movement and mass immigration has come at a terrible cost in civil liberties in Britain.

        • zorro
          Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          And seemingly in contradiction, as you would expect there to be more stricter border controls if you were faced with an uncontrolled terrorist threat as opposed to a controlled one…..


      • APL
        Posted January 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Anonymous: “when it is clear from their actions (open borders) that they aren’t.”

        Not to mention people smuggling. As when they brought the ‘Calais children’ into the country hidden behind screens.

        Clandestinely smuggling adults across borders is a breach of the law, perhaps someone should report Home office to the Crown prosecution service.

    • Mitchel
      Posted January 4, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      The IRA were not seeking to take over the country and turn it into part of the Caliphate,however unlikely that outcome might seem.Different objectives;for all their violence,the IRA’s aims were much more modest.

  4. Horatio
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Or, indeed, extremists wishing to come back here…

    What we do with these scumbags on their return is surely the biggest question that our human rights loving masters must face today. Surely they should be gaoled or deported upon re-entry? Surely they should not benefit from British benefits after they have, in effect, renounced their citizenship in favour of another State? That Mohammed Abrini,the Belgium terror mastermind, was able to fund attacks using money still being given as benefits to a man, absent and fighting in Syria is very worrying.

    • Dung
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Indeed why do we even allow them back in?

  5. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Agreed. However, that leaves the problem of whether we should do more when overseas conflicts remain intractable to diplomacy and education. To my mind we are left, ideally, one option: the use of overwhelming force to occupy and govern such territories in a civilised manner. If that is not acceptable then we have to butt out and watch the violence and slaughter from a safe distance rather than send in token forces to be slaughtered by one side or another. I say this because the conflicts we see have only limited effect on our key national interests. I don’t believe we should be told to butt out AND take the consequences in the form of refugees. Our obligation under the UN Convention is to keep the safe only with the aim of returning them to their lands when danger subsides. That justifies the use of force in the first place.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      We have the right to withdraw from that Convention, and we should do so.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        or apply it properly in the way it was intended by the founding parties including UK, ie., temporary shelter, obligations on refugees to behave and respect their host countries and work to make their origins safe by means incl force (humanitarian intervention justifies the use of force) and return them.

      • rose
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        We should definitely come out of the Geneva Convention of 1951. It was drawn up with Europeans in mind, not the whole world, and not billions of people potentially. We can’t even cope with the mumbers of genuine asylum seekers, let alone the people who get a case made for them by unscrupulous lawyers. This is an urgent matter but what British PM would have the guts to do it?

        • APL
          Posted January 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          Rose: ” We can’t even cope with the mumbers of genuine asylum seekers,”

          We can’t even cope with our own poor.

  6. Cheshire Girl
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I agree with all you say, but nothing much is being done about the threat to the people of the UK. There are plenty of ‘warnings’ about the high likelihood of an attack, but this never translates into action. I blame the current situation squarely on our Leaders of the past few years. We have allowed people to go out and train in terrorist camps, and then come back into this country, as if nothing has happened. If the public have expressed their worries about this, we have been told that everything is being done to keep us safe. Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!!!
    It is obvious that no one in Government has a clue what to do about it. Our Security Services work night and day to prevent a catastrophe. We would be nowhere without them. We have nothing to thank our Politicians for, It is no thanks to them, that the UK has not had a tragic incident in the last few months.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I find it very hard to understand why we have allowed people to go off to ISIS and not remove their British nationality, or at the very least prosecute people returning from ISIS for being involved with a terrorist organisation and or crimes against humanity, for in being part of ISIS they have helped facilitate the atrocities ISIS have committed.

    • acorn
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      CG, be assured that the UK is operated by a couple of dozen senior Civil Servants who know what they are doing and how to do it. It has been that way for some time.

      Nowadays, we are electing amateurs that are put in senior Cabinet positions, who collectively couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery. Fortunately, every so called “minister” has guardian civil servants to control and direct their actions. As the Police sang, “Every move you make and every vow you break. Every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll [a senior civil servant] be watching you.

  7. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we would feel a bit more secure if Mrs May had not made those 10,000 policemen redundant whilst she was Home Secretary? It cannot be because we do not have enough money to pay for them. As at the same time we can give aid to India a country that is rich enough to have its own foreign aid programme. The “Times of India” link below shows who is currently benefitting from the Indian government’s largesse http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-boosts-aid-to-other-countries/articleshow/51248139.cms

  8. alan jutson
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Agreed we need to get less involved in other peoples conflicts if they do not directly threaten our interests.

    Certainly we should help with diplomacy and genuine humanitarian aid if that is a sensible option.

    Given the world is such a dangerous place at the moment, it makes complete sense to police our entry points, borders, and shores with competent staff.

    Can never understand why successive governments still want to cut the armed services to the bone and beyond, then fail to use some of the competent and experienced personnel who have been made redundant, to strengthen our unfit for purpose border force.

    The first line of defence is of course to stop entry of people who wish us harm.

    More Patrol boats and aircraft needed to police our waters 24/7.

    Shame Cameron cut up the nimrods, yes they were old but at least they filled a void until new could be in service.
    Same with regard to the harriers on carriers.

    Disjointed thinking yet again by the powers that be.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      “More Patrol boats and aircraft needed to police our waters 24/7.”

      Fewer please. They only become a state taxi service.

      • alan jutson
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink


        Not if they turn them back, which is what the policy should be.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Alan Jutson

          Can you honestly see them turning people back ?

  9. Mark B
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Well one way to help keep us all safe is to not allow those who go to places like Syria, and return.

    The treat of the IRA was against the UK as a whole and the government in particular. It came from a particular community that did not wish to be part of the UK. Their fight, as it were, was for freedom. Obviously no one condones their methods but the partition of Ireland was a problem past Parliamentarians chose to avoid and place upon later generations.

    Today the threat comes in many forms, or levels, and is not necessarily politically motivated. It is not directed at government as this is deemed too well protected. Their attacks are, as we have so tragically seen in London and elsewhere, are directed at the populace at large. This is done not to achieve any goal / objective, but to kill or intimidate as many people as possible. This threat is real and on going and until the UK government throw off its PC shackles we are all in for a rough time.

  10. Hope
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Border controls! What border controls? The govt is now building towns, yes towns announced today, to support its mass immigration policy! Not hospitals or schools or other infrastructure. If the govt cannot accurately count people in and out what confidence is there in providing security? Over 860,000 NI numbers issued last year yet the Govt claims an estimate of 330,000!

    We saw the tragedy in Germany where the murderer travelled across three borders free to do as he pleased and by luck shot in Italy! security services did not know he was there. Merkel’s new answer to her applying unilateral mass immigration policy is compassion. Security, get real.We do not even have the resources at borders or in policing to cope. crime is not coming down, people are not reporting it because of the poor response they receive.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      They are not towns they are ‘garden villages’. A euphemism clearly designed to deceive the public.

      Sing up everybody:

      “How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country – gar-den.”

      This is the sort of mood you’re supposed to be getting in for this policy.

      There would be much more respect for politicians if they dropped the inulting spin. Clearly it is still well and truly alive under Chair(wo)man May.

      • Hope
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Concrete urban detention or segregation welfare centers would be a better description.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 4, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          Hope – If only they could hear the guffaws when phrases such as “garden villages” are used.

          We would all be better off with straight talking. There would be vastly increased respect for politicians.

  11. Robert Petulengro
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The problem really is trust.
    Without terrorists ruining it, you can trust people to behave when they board a plane, when they sit outside in the sub at a cafe in Paris, when they go to a Party Conference in Brighton.
    With terrorism rampant, however, you get armed police in the street (how long before we get another Menendez?) Life gets more controlled. Schools become places where children are monitored for their thoughts, places where religion is all but banned. People become suspicious…
    And the Councils use anti terrorist measures for people who let their dog foul the street.

  12. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    We could make a start by getting rid of known threats and stop importing more from an alien culture.
    I’ve just been reading how we’re handing cash out from the Foreign Aid budget. There’s no wonder the world thinks our streets are paved in gold.
    We keep hearing how the security services have foiled this or that plot yet BinLadens mate is allowed to stay although linked to terrorism.
    What’s happened to our human rights John.

  13. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The Northern areas of both Africa and Arabia are unstable due to the maniacal need by lead parties in the West to impose democracy…forcefully. Add the Israeli/Palestine constant conflict. Various touch papers have been lit nearby and almost unexpectedly the leaders of the EU and supporters have enabled thousands of weak individuals to arrive in Europe. These are the very individuals that should have fought for their lands.

    I cannot imagine why we should feel safe in Europe particularly with a huge bunch of useless males loafing around. Perhaps it won’t be multi spectacular killing/maiming events…it’ll be anything from harassment/abuse to random murders though. No amount of knee jerk new housing/benefits will fix this situation. This problem has been building in our cities for ages…now added to! The solution isn’t gentle education either…for the most part.

  14. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    ” We also need to improve our border controls to deal with extremists wishing to come here. ”

    This is the most relevant sentence John. By leaving the EU we can have more say over our borders but must get into place real means of controlling them. The open seas and smuggling people into the country in lorries on the ferries are the easiest ways for people to enter the UK at the moment. I am sure more people than we know of are being smuggled in every day. Security somehow needs to be tightened and when these people are found, they need to be swiftly removed instead of being allowed to disappear into the ether. One has to ask the question why all these ‘refugees’ don’t have papers. What are they trying to hide?

  15. lifelogic
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Well government so often can make things worse by inconveniencing the public and over frightening people by exaggerating the risks. There is actually rather little that the authorities can do to deter people driven by absurd religious beliefs, people who have no care even for their own lives.

    If you protect one target they can just attack another unprotected one. We cannot protect all potential targets, buses, trains, crowds, shops, schools, universities, discos, restaurants and the likes. It has to be looked at in terms of overall statistics, the police’s roll is largely for better intelligence, not exaggerating the threat on behalf of the terrorists, nor inconveniencing the public and just to tend to the injured and clear up after the event. Getting religions and social cleavages out of schools would help too, by Theresa May seem to likes these.

    We could save far more lives just by restructuring the NHS so that it is less appalling than it currently is. It is very clear what would work here and it would save money to if done sensibly. But Cameron even with his priority in three letters N H S did not even try and doubtless May will not either. One point three million staff, yet they cannot even do simple hip and knee operations promptly as needed, nor can you even get to see a doctor promptly or be seen at casualty without a huge three hour wait.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink


      “Getting religions…out of schools…” Does this go far enough? The UK not only has faith schools and RE, it has relgious institutions throughout society to which parents take their children. Does the UK have to take a position on these other sources of religion? (The comedian Ricky Gervais has suggested there should be no religious education until people are about 20, this would allow a more informed judgement. Various philosophers have indicated that values and moralities can be considered through fiction at an early age, without the neeed to refer to any particular religion.)

      You are brave enough to mention (though with an ambiguity get out) “absurd religious beliefs” but, as again noted by Gervais and others, religions have made it such that unbelievers are not allowed to ridicule them. The U.K. trades (including arms) with countries with apostasy laws – should the U.K. take a different position on this? If so, should this be extended to countries with blasphemy laws (some of which are European)?

      I wonder what the opinion of two dozen bishops in the HoL would be on taking a more critical position on “absurd religious beliefs”?

  16. JJE
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the threat is real and our security services have been doing a great job. A young lady who lived near me in a leafy road in your constituency was sentenced to life imprisonment just a year ago for plotting attacks with her boyfriend. They were pretty dumb and easy to catch but I’m sure there are more sophisticated attacks being planned.

    The trouble is that the state doesn’t know when to stop surveillance. The terrorist legislation gets used by local councils to catch fly tippers and people who leave their dog poop uncollected. The Food Standards Agency can now view my entire internet browsing history. We have no privacy left and politicians such as Mrs. May accept no bounds on their power and Parliament is supine.

  17. alan jutson
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I see it is reported in the media we are now giving away (taxpayer) cash and financing credit type cards for Pakistani citizens to spend as they wish, under our Foreign Aid Policy.

    When will this spending madness end John ?

    Those who require much needed physical and mental health care here meanwhile seem to be ignored, because we are told there is lack of funding.

    It’s a strange world, the one some politicians live in !

    Give that man in charge a Gong, Oh I forgot, he’s already got one !

    No wonder the people are getting fed up with the establishment.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      His was not as bad as the CBE awarded to Jack Straw’s son and all the awards for the other remainders published last week. How many months has Mrs May now being Prime Minister? Over that period she should no longer be hidebound to Dave’s wishes. If Mr Staw has provided such a valuable service to the people of the U.K. Perhaps Dave could have recognised this in his resignation list? It now must be clear to everyone that we have a MK IV nu Labour PM and where her true intentions lie with regard to the UK ‘s relationship with the EU

  18. Iain Moore
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Common values and culture created the conditions to bring our country into existence, which gave us collective security. Unfortunately our modern political class thought they new better and sought to enrich us with diversity under the guise of multiculturalism, which is just a long word for tribalism and clearly not conducive for collective security.

    In order to make this enriched multicultural place work we are going to have to endure more onerous security measures, already the threat of terrorism and violence is being normalised with the Changing of the Guards and Parliament retreating behind concrete bollards ( I came across a family film of some Oz friends who visited London and took a film of No 10 standing opposite it , we wouldn’t be allowed any where near it now) , and further erosion of what we thought were our rights, such as free speech restricted under the fear of being done for ‘hate’ speech, a particularly Orwellian concept that would have horrified our forefathers.

  19. Oracle
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Bringing someone in from a country your airforce has just bombed could have foreseen consequences.

  20. Lifelogic
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The terrorists want to cause terror, fear and to disrupt normal life as much as possible. The authorities, by their over reaction, are mainly assisting and encouraging the terrorists in these aims.

    About three thousand people die in the UK every single day, from all sorts of causes, many are avoidable. We have to put terrorism into perspective it is not statistically a high risk. Also do not let the authorities augment it, as their current approach tends to do.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Some deaths and injuries are far more easily prevented than others, we are surely better concentrating any spending on these areas.

    • Original Richard
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      “We have to put terrorism into perspective it is not statistically a high risk.”

      I do not think the relatives of the 3000 people who died in the September 11 attack on the NY Trade Centre would agree with this statement.

      Terrorists are without doubt working on much bigger projects than trucks running over pedestrians and one day they will be successful.

  21. Eleanor Justice
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood .Do the words stable door and bolted ring a bell? “the State” have got us in to this nightmare and now we are asked by the “State” to be vigilant .No government in this country for the past 60 years have listened to the people and unfortunately we are reaping what they have sown .A plague on all their houses.

    • zorro
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Problem – Reaction – Solution….


    • Mike Wilson
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Eleanor Justice, it’s true. It’s as if ‘government’ has nothing to do with these matters. It’s like immigration. A proper ‘no ifs, no buts’ commitment to get immigration down to the ‘tens of thousands’ (apparently meaning 99,999) and, when immigration INCREASES no-one takes responsibility! It is, now, an ‘ambition’ apparently. Why do people who go into government bother? It seems to be a juggernaut with no-one driving.

  22. Bob
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    By voting for UNSC Resolution 2334 is the UK now fully behind the Arab goal to exterminate Israel completely?

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      @ Bob

      If we are, we do so at our peril. It will show what is all bad about so called UK diplomacy.

      The UK cannot be all things to all people all of the time.

      Sometimes you have to stand shoulder to shoulder with your friends.

      • Horatio
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes remarkably stupid behaviour by UK government. Israel is only democracy in ME. 20 UN resolutions v Israel, 4 v rest of world including Syria in 4years. Foreign office shouldve told the government that this was all Obama trying to hate on Trump. Trump loves Israel as a democracy. Another opportunity missed by UK govt to make common cause with Trump and put Obama at back of queue.

  23. Bert Young
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Sophisticated communications have changed to such an extent that the response mechanism has had to follow suit . Inevitably these changes invoke into our day to day lives ; we can no longer expect our democratic state to be what it was . The public must have a protective umbrella and the forces that provide it must be there with legal approval .

    The huge influx to the population as the result of uncontrolled migration has introduced new threats ; the ordinary policeman on the beat is no longer an adequate way to control things . Our society is more diverse and the practices that now exist are more difficult to trace and control ; added to this mixture is the availability of drugs . Parliament and the law are the first lines of attack ; all our defence resources are only going to be effective if this support exists .

  24. Andy Marlot
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Perhaps if the British government stopped interfering in the Middle East, stopped supporting terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere and stopped supplying arms to awful dictators we might have some measure of peace.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      So explain Germany. They have been non interventionist, almost pacifist since WW11, they have even welcomed a million migrants, but now they are being subjected to terrorist attacks. Why?

      • hefner
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        So I have to understand from your comment that you are all for interfering in the Middle East, supporting terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere and supplying arms to awful dictators. Is this what you want? Yes or no?

        • Iain Moore
          Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          No, I am saying that whether we intervened or not militarily in the Middle East is incidental to getting Islamic based terrorism . For the terrorism we are being subjected to is informed by a clash of civilisations/culture/religion, call it what you will, for that explains the indiscriminate terrorism the West is getting than anything which relates to an interventionist foreign policy.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Very good point Iain!

    • Edward2
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      They were attacking the West decades before Syria.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Centuries before!

  25. Lifelogic
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Why exactly should some people get houses at 20% below market value while others get nothing and have to pay taxes in order to provide this subsidy for others?

    What is needed is more houses (or fewer people) not silly childish gimmicks like this from the government. Relax planning and building controls, more competition in banking, cheaper utility connections, no planning gain or low cost housing requirements (which are just yet more back door taxes).

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      @ Lifelogic

      So villages will be swamped with up to ten thousand properties. Affordable housing where are the jobs and infrastructure coming from to sustain all this? Government subsidies is just more on the tax payers.

      All the time the politicians play at PC politics trying to be everything to everybody there will always be a problem. It is not written in stone the right to own your own property and the younger generation have totally different attitude in that they want all the extra trimmings now. Wide screen TVs, holidays, cars, mobile phones, football season tickets, theatre visits and so on. They are not saving for their future and it will fall on the government to fund their retirement, whilst they will all be below the poverty line and reliant on its safety net.

      Its fine owning a property but it is the running costs insurances, energy, community charges and maintenance charges without full time work it becomes hard. Sixteen hours a week and tax credits don’t cut the mustard and if the borrowing rates rise as they surely must do, a lot of people are going to get really hurt.

      Gone are the days that having a good work ethic and doing the hours gave you the “rewards”. To change this you have to have the infrastructure in place which governments never seem to do.

      HS2 gets you to Birmingham more quickly but totally useless unless you have the links in place to get the commuter to where they want to be just as fast. Extended villages will be out from the main towns and unless you reate fast links to get the inhabitants into work where the work actually is then it is a complete wasted exercise. To fund all this essential works will only be acceptable to the voters if we take it from other budgets like the Overseas Aid Budget. The UK is rapidly heading to be yet another “modern third world country”

    • zorro
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, these silly subsidies end up raising the cost of houses (bit like with the renting taxes), but it is polticians intervening in the market on a supposedly paternalistic basis and they lurrrvvvveeee to do that…..


  26. margaret
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I am not sure that Bobby’s on the beat would improve an intelligence dilemma . I have been reading a Mc Nab novel over the holidays and although fiction threw out many scenarios and we cannot get carried away with the seemingly unreal , the writer himself was ex army who was aware of the typical types of undercover situations . We obviously need to let M15/6 handle these situations in conjunction with European services and hope that other countries will not merely let things happen without sharing information due to the power it would give them .

  27. Mactheknife
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    You cannot discuss this subject without addressing the ‘elephant in the room’ and that is of course the (arrival of some Islamic extremists ed). For years governments of all persuasions have had a curious attitude to immigration from Muslim countries and we have seen recently in the shape of Mrs Merkel that the open door policy continues. We have seen the disastrous outcome in Germany with several terror based attacks, most recently in Berlin.
    The paradox is that we read constantly of warnings from governments and security services about terrorists posing as immigrants and yet we open the doors to them. Very strange indeed ? I always thought the first duty of any government was to protect the safety of its citizens but it seems governments across the EU have brushed this aside and replaced it with asking the population to be more vigilant after their own policies let in terrorists. So that’s OK then ? / Sarc

    • Mactheknife
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I see you modified my perfectly reasonable comment which just demonstrates my point about politicians not wanting to address the elephant in the room. Very disappointing for someone who seems to be more honest about the issues than most other politicians.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      The last thing we need is laws to “protect” people who hold irrational belief systems from criticism. Nor do we need even more religion (and more religious segregation) in schools.

      But this seems to be what Cameron & Theresa May types want.

  28. Mr Obviousborne
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    The old philosophical problem “Does a tree falling in a forest still make a noise when no-one is there? Easier to answer the update:
    “Does one get attacked by a foreigner when no foreigners are here? “

  29. Food down
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    The ONS on food inflation appears different from the findings of this report which says food prices in December weres 3% less than 12 months previously. If correct it must because of the Remoaners voting Remain.

  30. ian
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    All part of the cover while establishment fleece you, started in 2010 when the aid budget went up 40% to 12 billion the start of the arab spring, it takes money like you see on the tv uk handing out cash cards full of money.

  31. Bob
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I see that 94 year old George Johnson the last surviving member of the WWII Dambuster mission has been turned down for a award in the New Year’s Honours.

    Does he need to make a large donation to one of the establishment parties first?

    Never mind, so long a Posh Spice and some soap actors were honoured, I suppose that makes it ok?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I see that 94 year old George Johnson the last surviving member of the WWII Dambuster mission has been turned down for a award in the New Year’s Honours.

      That is unbelievable and an absolute scandal. What is this country turning into? As you say half-wit celebrities HONOURED! The mind boggles.

  32. The PrangWizard
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh! the irony.

    A greater tolerance of freedom of expression for contributors – indeed the championing of it – would be welcome here. There is too much censorship – there’s another example with ‘Mactheknife’ above. I dare say others have had their entire contribution disallowed.

    We are not an intolerant people but we know our way of life is under threat from (certain ed) cultures and beliefs and mass immigration and the little that is being done about it. It is encouraged in some quarters.

    It does no-one any good to pretend that by not talking about it, to bury heads in the sand, it will all come right. Those who are our enemies take advantage of weakness and naivety. Our leaders still ‘don’t get it’.

    It still does not seem to be understood that one of the many reasons people are angry is that legitimate views are being stifled or ignored; I’m as sure as I can be that what is censored here is not extremism. Even those who think they are reason itself are not will not be spared by our real opponents.

    Reply I do not publish generalised comments attacking individual religions, races, creeds or countries as these generalisations are offensive to many and unfair. There are good and bad people and moderate and extreme people of all faiths and none.

  33. Peter d
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    For me this issue was along with very many others which made me vote for BREXIT for that part of the Lisbon treaty called the common defence and security policy (if I remember rightly), my interpretation of this would have been to bring our excellent security services under the wing of yet another dysfunctional arm of the eu.

    We all know about eu wisdom in so many areas…..

  34. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, good news that Sir Ivan Rogers has resigned:


    “British ambassador to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers unexpectedly quits just weeks after row over leaked Brexit memo”

    • zorro
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      oh no Denis, how terrible….. You must start a petition to beg him not to go. How will the UK manage to assert its sovereignty befor the other EU without him there to tell us what the EU countries will allow us to do as politically acceptable to him. He has such a good record of strongly representing the UK in the EU (previously worked for Clarke, Blair and Cameron so his eurosceptic credentials are second to non…haha). He, of course, advised Cameron on how to push for a better deal in the EU earlier last year with a really good hand and did a unique job there……. by spectacularly failing and really hacking off enough Brits to tip the balance!


  35. Graham
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    There is no determination in our ‘border’ authorities who have been fed on a diet of love thy foreign incomer at the expense of those who live here and pay all the bills both direct and social.

    A total clear out at grass roots is required and resilient management put in place to enforce the will of the people.

    Unfortunately that only leaves me and a lot of posters on this site left to do that job. I might be retired but give a call.

  36. ChrisS
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Good to see our ambassador to the EU has finally resigned after his ludicrous advice that negotiations to leave could take ten years. Hardly surprising he’s finally gone as he was one of those principally responsible for CMD’s utter failure to renegotiate anything. There can be little doubt that like most people who inhabit the Foreign Office, he had gone native and was the last person we wanted to represent us over Brexit.

    There is clearly one person who is head and shoulders above anyone else in his keenness, dedication and ability to properly present our case in Europe.

    I suspect the interview I’ve just watched on the BBC News Channel was a very public job application…………….

    One J, Redwood Esquire

    • hefner
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I think this is a rather poor comment: it might have been much better for the UK to keep somebody able to give hard facts to the PM based on contacts with the 27 rather than have a blurry-eyed leaver with little knowledge of the EU.

      As for your last sentence, I am afraid that this was a top civil servant’s position not an MP’s.

      • hefner
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        I clearly was wrong: JR is among the possible political appointees according to the FT.

  37. Dung
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink


    You seem to be symptomatic of the problems in UK politics; You sit as a Conservative MP but you are not a Conservative as we would have known one before Heath. You are of the Liberal Left like the whole Lib/Lab/Con group. You suggest a policy of persuation in the Middle East which will stop people fighting and start them talking out their problems. What planet are you on?
    Ther are people with whom you can not have a rational conversation and all dictators fall into that category. It is impossible to ‘work for peace’ you must simply work to be safe and have alliances with like minded others.
    The Conservatives used to be the party of pragmatism so lets get back to that; let them fight it out in the Middle East until they have had enough. Many will die in the short term but winners will emerge and then the fighting will stop. No humanitarian aid because that will just prolong the fighting, I think it is called toughh love.

    Reply So who do you wish to go to war with? Do you side with Assad or ISIL in Syria? Are you on the side of the Sunnis or Shia?

    • Dung
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Apologies for the sp errors!

    • Dung
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      I do not want to side with anybody, they want to fight each other so let the blood flow until they learn sense.

  38. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    If the Brexit negotiations end in a ‘hard Brexit’ – what is the plan for dealing with the millions that will be kicked out of France and Spain?

    Or are we all just pretending that will never happen? What about those with businesses, homes, mortgages etc. over there? With children in Spanish schools and so on?

    Reply They will not be kicked out – silly scare – its against international law and against their interests to do so

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      If it is against ‘international law’ (whatever that is – who makes ‘international law’? who appoints the judges? Is there a jury system?) why is your esteemed leader and others asking the EU to guarantee the ‘right to stay’ as we intend to do? Why is ‘the EU’ refusing to do that if it is against ‘international law’? Who is going to impose ‘international law’ on the EU if they do decide to kick people out?

      It might be a silly scare story to you, a lot of people on the continent are now living in fear of losing their homes and having to return to this grey land with its absurdly priced housing endlessly propped up by the government refusing to allow a serious level of building coupled with mad schemes like Hekp to Buy (ensnaring and enslaving the next generation in absurd levels of debt just to keep the house of cards standing) and the ongoing asphyxiating affect of our absurd and restrictive planning system.

      Give young people a break and release land to let them self build. I’d run a job for them (as a former site manager) and show them how to do it.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        I forgot to mention the endless and continuous increase in our population each year which, for some reason (growth!) the government conveniently ignores.

    • zorro
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Have you had preliminary discussions with the spanish and French governments? If so, we need to know! You are havinga laugh if you think that they will throw any self sufficient Brits as they prop up economies with their spending inn those regions….


    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 4, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      You obviously have a very low opinion of our European neighbours, Mike.

      • rose
        Posted January 4, 2017 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        And the Spaniards have had 6 amnesties for illegal immigrants – how would they go about deporting legal ones?

  39. John
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I have come to realise that we cannot sort the problems of the Islamic world out, not by a very wide margin too.

    About 15 years ago I didn’t know that but subsequent events have made that painfully very clear. I was wrong, we should not intervene at all on a military level. Their issues are far too complex.

    • Sven Saladinsen
      Posted January 4, 2017 at 2:34 am | Permalink

      Most of the Islamic world have come to realise they cannot sort the problems of the Western world out either. The Umayyad conquest of Hispania 711 AD onwards was their Blair-Iraq moment.

  40. Original Richard
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Multiculturalism is a disaster and if our leaders continue to import increasing numbers of uncontrolled people from the pre-enlightenment Middle East and tribal Africa then our country will eventually end up looking like a combination of the two.

    It is inevitable through sheer weight of numbers.

    Refugees should be helped in countries close to their own and returned to their countries when hostilities cease, including any that have made it to Europe.

  41. NA
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    fear, fear, fear that’s what its all about

  • 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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