The case for free enterprise

Listening to debates in the Commons, the air is often thick with criticisms of companies and entrepreneurs. To many MPs companies are sources of tax revenue for their pet projects, run by people who will do harm unless regulated strictly against every risk. MPs who think like this should get out more.

Many of the things that are essential to our lives are supplied by free enterprise, and most of the pursuits that people most enjoy are supplied from private sector innovations and sources. Our food is grown by competing farmers and supplied by competing manufacturers and retailers. Our homes are built by competing construction companies. Our entertainments are private sector creations, delivered on innovatory technology that comes from a range of technology and consumer goods companies.

Parliament has to spend much of its time (when it is not groundhog day on Brexit again) debating the delivery of those services which are public sector. The NHS, schools, railways and roads are largely or wholly public sector provided and are appropriately the topic of many debates and rows. There is scarcity built into most public sector supply. We are short of GP appointments, short of roadspace, short of good quality school places in fast growing parts of the country, and short of commuter rail capacity at peaks when we most need the provision. There are problems raising quality and efficiency levels in parts of these public services. Top down allocation of cash causes arguments about its adequacy and distribution. The providers so often look upwards to the cash allocators, rather than outward to the users of the services.

The free enterprise model builds in natural incentives to innovate, to raise quality and to drive efficiency. If Company A fails to grasp the move from blackberries to ipads, Company B will and will take the business. If Company C fails to adopt better technology and machine power to make its employees more productive, Company D will and will be able to undercut Company C. If Company E gets a bad reputation for safety, people will switch to Company F that takes it seriously. If Company G treats its employees badly, they can shift to Company H who treats them well and gets a much better result for customers and shareholders as a result.

The public sector model has to try to find ways to substitute for the lack of consumer power in driving innovation and quality. Various ways have been tried, but these often are less good. The Highways Authority regularly shuts down sections of main routes without thought for the delays and problems caused to users, because it suffers no financial penalty for its failure and there is no alternative network to turn to. Network Rail regularly experiences signal failures and bottlenecks on its network delaying passengers and preventing innovative new services to meet demand,because it does not have to do better to survive. If it makes a mess it just demands more taxpayers cash to put it right. Obvious bypass track and short sections of new track top create roe capacity and new links do not get put in because they cannot be bothered to respond to potential demand or to improve the traveller experience.

The popular thing about main public services including schools and hospitals is they are free to users at the point of use. The main political parties are united in defending this principle. Other public services like railways rely on user charging, and roads rely on heavy taxation of motorists well in excess of the cost of provision. None of these financing models need rule out greater consumer choice, which could help raise quality and efficiency.

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117 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    On a recent train journey my main train was cancelled and the one after seriously delayed. I went to the train company website and requested a refund, and got it ! This is the power of the free market and sensible regulation.

    Sadly we cannot choose who supplies our water in the same way we can do other private companies.

    The State Sector desperately needs competition. Only that can make drive for better efficiency.

    And one again we ignore the Elephant in the room of MASS IMMIGRATION. We really need to do something but as we all know we are wasting our time.

    • oldtimer
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      Recently my wife benefitted from NHS cataract operations to each eye. The actual operations were faultless apart from small bruising around one eye. The administration was abysmal being marked by disorganisation, delay and administrative incompetence. In part this was a function of apparent overload but almost certainly poor scheduling was a contributor. I cannot imagine any private sector business surviving such incompetence.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:27 am | Permalink

        That is my experience too. Often very good and diligent medical staff doing their best despite very poor organisation and incompetent administration. A typical dire state monopoly.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 5:09 am | Permalink

        Yes. And by comparison my next door neighbour went into hospital around the same time. He has to wait hours for a bed. Imagine if he could have claimed from the hospital for that delay ?

    • Julie Dyson
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      I suppose it could be argued that mass immigration is in many ways a direct byproduct of free enterprise, being the easiest way to keep wages under control (by increasing labour supply) and often also simply importing the skills needed rather than going to the trouble and expense of proper education and training at home, leaving significant swathes of our own population sidelined in backwaters.

      This is why I believe there needs to be found a happy middle ground in almost all things, but starting with our national politics and policies. Hard left tends to hurt business, free enterprise, competition and innovation. Hard right tends to grind the little people into the dirt, cutting vital public services and basic welfare rights.

      Yes, I know this is an oversimplication of a much more complicated issue (or issues), but I believe we need a sensible, moderate approach to best serve the needs of all citizens of this land, not politics driven primarily for just one segment of our population and tending to lurch from left to right and then back again.

      The first political party to get this right will remain in power for a very long time. The fact that we keep changing our form of government every few years demonstrates beyond any doubt that no one has yet got it right.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Yes but the compensation you get for late train is derisory and not even worth the hassle of claiming it.

      The state sector desperately need competition – indeed they do but they deliberately kill it with unfair competition from schools, universities, the NHS, council housing, dentistry, the BBC propaganda unit – not too easy to compete against thing that are free at the point of use or are heavily subsidised by the tax payers.

      I see that they want to abolish free licences for the elderly. They should just abolish the BBC TV tax for all and make the BBC compete in the market.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 5:07 am | Permalink

        LL

        In my case I beg to differ 🙂

    • margaret howard
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      MarkB

      “And one again we ignore the Elephant in the room of MASS IMMIGRATION. We really need to do something but as we all know we are wasting our time”

      Mass Immigration? Straight from the Farage propaganda machine!

      “The latest immigration statistics were released by the Office for National Statistics on 28 February 2019 They showed that, in the year ending September 2018, long-term estimated net migration to the UK was estimated to be 283,000”

      Hardly mass immigration even by your standards.

      • Adam
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 5:50 am | Permalink

        Whether a rate of increase goes up or down, Margaret, its mass continues to add & grow.

        283,000 is a high number contributing to massive.

      • margaret
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        But you tend to ignore , the increase in population caused by immigration :Cultures where women must produce 3 plus children to be considered worthy of a husband ,. These children also need the same public and private services like any other. Instead of looking at the abstract discipline of maths , look at the roads and hospitals and schools etc

        • margaret howard
          Posted April 27, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          margaret

          “the increase in population caused by immigration”

          My very middle class, very English neighbours in our cul de sac have produced 6 children in the ten years since they have been married. How does that square with your ‘immigrants’ filling up our country theory?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

            You are confusing birth rates with overall population increases Margaret Howard.

          • Adam
            Posted April 28, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            If you keep up with your neighbours, Margaret, you could be more productive too, yet still Remain in a cul-de-sac despite Brexit.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        You better stop posting on here Margaret.
        You need to build us a new city the size of Sunderland or Newcastle Upon Tyne or Belfast every single year.
        Presumably on nice green land.
        Your and your green party pals are going to be busy.

      • libertarian
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear Margaret Howard nearly 100,000 MORE than the entire population of the City of Newcastle

      • Fred H
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Margaret…I am happy with the term Mass immigration, but in any case adding between 200k and 400k every year is a burden we have not managed very well.
        Immigrants need housing, transport and jobs, if they work. They may well have families, families need medical services, nurseries, schools. It is a perfectly reasonable point that we have not been able to provide these well for many years (blame politicians if you wish). One solution is to restrict this large scale immigration, allowing needed, qualified people who will help us put these problems right.

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      The New Four Freedoms:

      Free Markets
      Free Speech
      Free Trade
      Free From the European Union

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Good to see Trump’s USA economy still motoring on at an annualised 3% + growth
      (just like Netanyahu’s Israel).

      Meanwhile the Merkel’s Germany scrapes along at 0.76578973% .

      May should offer Corbyn a Customs Union with Israel and the United States, his two favourite countries.

      • margaret howard
        Posted April 27, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Stephen Priest

        Merkel’s Germany has one of the finest worker protection schemes in the world. EU standards are adhered to with scrupulous efficiency.

        Trump’s America has high growth because it is run along ruthless business methods where only profit is king and the workers are one pay packet away from destitution.

        By milking foreign corporations through its less than impartial court system because US banks and business have nowhere else to go except after other peoples wealth and resources.

        Far better to live in the civilised EU than in a state solely focused on interference in other sovereign states affairs, invasion, intimidation, regime change, grabbing others resources like oil all to feed the industrial arms complex that is the USA.

        Reply Why do you always distort pro EU? Does truth not matter to you? The French arms industry is large. Germany led the EU to intervene dangerously in the Balkans. What about EU intervention in Ukraine. i dont print your figures about EU costs to UK because they are wrong.

  2. Dominic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    We need more MPs like yourself to highlight the fundamental importance of the private sector and of the profit motive without which the production and supply of the most basic of material goods would simply wither and die

    Our entire lives revolve around the use of items that are afforded to us as a consequences of the profit motive. It is the return vital to those who choose to invest and apply their capital to the production process the results of which we see around us today

    It is vital that the left is(are) challenged continually in their pursuit of turning the profit motive into a dirty word. Their propaganda against all things private is the foundation of all they believe. Private equals freedom to act without recourse to the State. The left despise our freedom to act unilaterally without political agreement. Their aim is nothing less than to turn each individual into State property

    The contemporary fetish for all things communist is deeply offensive. Communism is an extremist political philosophy and yet still it remains untarnished and beyond demonisation. I find that sinister. This political system and those who run it are responsible for some of the worst genocides on record

    The private sector does sometimes get things wrong but their misdeeds pale into insignificance when compared to their wrongdoings of their political detractors on the left

    The next Tory leader must confront the rise of left wing authoritarianism. We cannot allow this poison to spread or those who propagate such bile or else this nation will become another Venezuela where violence and state oppression against its own people is now order of the day

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      Sadly the cause of climate change has been hijacked by communists. Their solutions sound very much like communism to me.

    • MickN
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      “The next Tory leader must confront the rise of left wing authoritarianism.”

      ………instead of being a part of it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 2:56 am | Permalink

        Indeed.

    • Andy
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Profit is not a dirty motive.

      What IS a dirty motive is profit at the expense of people or the planet.

      If you behave well, if you treat your staff and customers fairly, if you respect the environment, if you uphold both the letter and the spirit of the law and if you don’t do evil then you can make all the money you like – and fair game to you.

      The issue comes with companies who do not do all of those things. And there are still plenty of them around.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Who Andy, name them and let’s get them inspected! There are enough rules and regulations to stop them.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      An interesting glimpse into the future by Professor Andrew A Michta from a rather good article(“Global Disorder: the Sources of the West’s Decline”-in American Interest,22/2/2019-googleable):-

      “Suffice to say that members of the rising generation increasingly see democracy as either so abstract a concept that it seems to have little direct connection to their experiences or as an obstacle to the necessary wholesale transformation or even abolition of our obsolescent political systems.According to World Values Survey,today only 30% of Americans born in the 1980s think it is “essential” to live in a democracy compared to 75% born in the 1930s.In Europe,the number of youth who see democracy as an essential was slightly over 40%.In a 2017 European Youth Study(by Germany’s TUI Foundation) only 30% of the young saw the EU as an alliance of countries with common cultural values,only 18% of them attributed a common cultural basis to the EU and only 7% mentioned the value of Christian culture.

      Meanwhile a 2018 Gallup poll found only 45% of young Americans view capitalism positively.This marked an astonishing 12 point drop in only two years and a dramatic shift compared to 2010 when 68% of young Americans viewed capitalism positively.In short,the societies that are about to emerge from decades of Gramscian neo-Marxist Long March through the US’s cultural institutions may have little or no grounding in the foundational principles of liberty,free speech and a powerful citizenry.”

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      @Dominic,

      Profit IS a dirty word when Conservatives such as Boris John talk about ‘Greed is good’ as he did in a conference few years back.

      This is political heresy and completely unconservative. Conservatism is or should be about Work Ethic NOT Greed. If you work hard, diligently, then the money will take care of its-self (this is NOT pipe-dream stuff – just look at the Quakers and the extraordinary success in business they had as a relatively small community of people – and they know far more about business and enterprise than Boris Johnson who is NOT a businessman).

      This is where the whole tension lies: Greed versus Work Ethic. We all know Greed in our heart of hearts is bad. For the individual. But also because it leads to things like Book & Bust and Corruption. But Work Ethic leads to stable, strong long-term success such as in the case of the Quakers and others. And why I strongly boo-boo-boo Boris Johnson for encouraging ‘Greed’ as a philosophy in our Conservative Party.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Indeed Corbyn’s agenda is very simple promise everything to everyone – all paid for by the few very “rich” (who will largely have left). Abolish student fees, more money for schools, police, the NHS, buses, trains, green crap, social housing….. and almost everything else. Also nationalise everything and have almost everyone working for the state. It will bankrupt the country in no time and everyone will lose out.

      I decided that the voters would not fall for it but May is such an appalling PM and is destroying the Conservative Party – maybe they actually will. Who will rid us of the dire May and Hammond before we have to suffer the even more dire Corbyn/SNP?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Indeed as you say the popular things are “free at the point of use” but usually after a long wait, or often paid for by others. Yet Gove even wants to kill the choice of going to private schools perhaps hospital too (who knows what lunacy he will come up with next). You could add social housing again paid for by others. Alas the NHS has some of the worse outcome in the developed world, rationing and long waiting times. These thing are unfair completion to the private sector as is the BBC, the climate alarmist and pro EU propaganda outfit. They ingrain huge inefficiency. Freedom and choice and lower taxes is what is really needed.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      When the state allows 1% to own more than 50% of the land, it has a rut to ensure the 99% are housed. Or take the risk the 99% might get a bit arsey and grab some land for themselves.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:40 am | Permalink

        duty – not ‘rut’

    • Andy
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      You are perfectly entitled to not use the NHS.

      You are perfectly entitled to not send your grandchildren to state schools.

      You can avoid trains. You can walk across fields, not along roads.

      You are also perfectly entitled to not watch or listen to the BBC (though you’d be better informed if you did).

      It is entirely your choice. You do not have use any of these things.

      But society has decided that you will pay your share regardless. In a democracy the majority decides. And on this you are not it.

      Your opinion is irrelevant. Your one job is to pay up and shut up.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Thank goodness you still allow us to vote Andy.
        Very kind of you.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        Both the EU and the proposed solution to the environmental problems sound like communism to me.

        Now. If free BBC licence, free bus passes, triple lock pension removal were a punishment for Brexit then I would gladly accept it… if we had Brexit.

        Funny how your EU and the proposals for climate change sound very much like communism.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:05 am | Permalink

        Indeed pay up under threat of imprisonment for second rate services whether you use them or not. Producing a lack of fair competition and damaging innovation, the economy and ‘customers’ hugely. Most have no choice but to use the dire state monopolies as the state has taken their money off them in advance.

    • Al
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      The last person I encountered who wanted to remove private schools was an outright communist who believed it meant wealthy people would send their children to failing state schools so those schools would have to improve. Except that doesn’t work, because the wealthy will have home tutors, educate outside Britain, or simply move area so their children go to the good state schools etc. In the worst case, they leave Britain along with whatever investments they have in the country.

      Legislating against consumer’s choices to try to force them to do the state’s job is ridiculous, creates market inefficiencies, and often backfires.

      We’re seeing that now with all the crypto startups moving offshore and getting foreign banking licences because British banks won’t work with crypto firms, even FSA-licenced ones. There’s a large pool of investment funds there, that Britain is cut out of.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Agreed break the NHSs monopoly it is grossly mismanaged. The BMJ recently reported that it wastes around £8 billion a year from the effects of bullying alone, one junior doctor was asked to provide a death certificate to substantiate her request for leave to attend her father’s funeral. Efficiently managed organisations do not rely on gagging clauses for those who leave, if its such a great place to work why does it have so many vacancies for medics?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:09 am | Permalink

        I understand that 50% of new doctors expensively trained in the UK do not go on to work in the NHS as they find better options outside the UK or just choose different, easier and better paying careers.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 26, 2019 at 4:19 am | Permalink

          It seem that female doctors tend to work rather less post qualifying (so the cost of training them per hour of useful work you get back can be nearly double that of male doctors). You thus need to train nearly twice as many if they are female. Made even worse by the working time directives.

          It follows they are rather less likely to repay their student loans.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      If you lower taxes too much you just get chaos – more knife attacks, more acid attacks, more drugs, more violence, more marriage breaking up, more violence on the streets – all adding to the cost of tax-payers in the long-term, trying to clean up the mess (and to keep the mess in the box). And if life gets even more chaotic here in the UK, many of the rich and many of the middle classes will just leave – to more peaceful, less chaotic places to live. (Even many middle class and smart parts of London are getting a bit chaotic and dangerous too live – I’ve experience this near Sloane Square, just off the King’s Road, and a knife attack in a smart, middle-class part of London).

      Rather than focus on tax (important as that is), we need to focus on Work Ethic, Public Duty and Patriotism. But our world is so ‘modern’ now that talking like this is considered quaint and old-fashioned (even though these traditional values worked so well in the past – the past wasn’t perfect – this world isn’t Utopia, but we can certainly learn from the past, and look at the horrors that so called modern ‘secular’ economic and political though has brought this world and our country.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        And once we focus on Worth Ethic, Public Duty and Patriotism then Tax Levels will crash down as people take more responsibility for themselves and rely more on their families than the state.

        (And I am not pointing fingers at anyone – I’m flawed like everyone else – but I truly believe this is the only way forward. And whatever little we can do, it’s better to try and do something than nothing!)

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    I see that Hammond has told MPs that squeezing better-off taxpayers to the point at which they complained was one sign that he had got “the balance right”.

    Taxes accounted for 37 per cent of Britain’s GDP in 2018-19 plus of course we have the borrowing on top of that. Hammond’s claims to be reducing the taxes and repaying the debt is just lies. He has delivered the highest and most idiotic & complex taxes for 70 years. His idiotic changes to pension regulation has causing surgeons and senior doctors to down tools or retire – due to over 100% taxation on them.

    High taxes are very bad for an economy as they encourage wasteful expensive on avoidance and compliance activity, push people and businesses abroad, deter people from working and then government spends the funds hugely inefficiently. Often on things the people do not want like HS2 or causing positive harm. In the round government expenditure is probably about 25% as efficient as direct, This as you cost the person or business time and money in the collection, then you the costs HMRC, then you have the vast waste in the bureaucracy, then they spend it often on totally the wrong things and do so very inefficiently too.

    Hammond is an economic illiterate and he should go now with May.

  5. Adam
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    The ideology of the many MPs JR refers to as criticising companies & entrepreneurs, support Companies A, C, E & G described in his 4th paragraph.

    They are all similarly backward.

  6. GilesB
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Competition is a powerful mechanism. But it is only a means to the ends of effectiveness (producing the right results), efficiency (using appropriate methods), economy (using the right inputs), resilience, flexibility, and innovation.

    Pursuing competition as a goal in its own right is a mistake. Particularly for natural monopolies. For example, three different bin lorries from different companies back down my narrow cul-de-sac on different days of the week creating social and environmental nuisance for no benefit whatsoever.

    Regulations judiciously applied can ensure quality provision of goods and services. And is better in some cases than simplistic competition.

    Of course in many situations free competition is better than regulations. Regulation is also a means and not an end. Unless one is a socialist who wants everything to be either mandatory or prohibited.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Parts of the NHS – the more effective parts – are fully in the private sector anyway – all drug and equipment development and production for example. When Labour complain about the threat of “privatising” the NHS I wonder what parts they mean.

  8. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    “Mp’s who think like this need to get out more”

    Absolutely right JR, they also need to speak to people whilst they are out and about, not just those complaining, or at election time.

    Do you still do your rounds of the local shops from time – time, talking to the managers, owners, and customers about how things are going,
    Aware that many owners used to look forward to your visits, and were pleased you made the effort.

    So many Mp’s seem to want to insulate themselves from public contact, when really they should be encouraging it !.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Robert A. Heinlein: “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

    But do they even really think it anymore, or do they just think they can buy votes of the poor by promising them other people’s money? Or perhaps they just enjoy pissing the money down the drain like May’s £39 billion hancuff deal. We have very high taxes, huge and increasing borrowing and yet we have second rate and declining public services too.

    Yesterday the stand in for May (in response to a question on closing a tax office) said people were choosing to deal with HMRC on line and that HMRC needed to maintain their high standards.

    Well they are hardly choosing on line, they are forced to and to buy expensive software or pay people to do it. Furthermore HMRC have been appalling for many years (they did use to be fairly good relative to most of government about 30 years back). Now they do not answer the phone or indeed respond to letters (or if they do they often fail to address the issue raised).

    Hammond’s new pension rules, landlord interest rules and 15% stamp duty rules can give tax rates of well over 100% of your income. Silly Billy Denis Healey’s 98% was clearly not enough for Hammond. What a dangerous fool the man is. Sorry your operation is cancelled again today as the surgeon was happy to do it for nothing but not to pay HMRC a new £100 for the pleasure!

  10. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    JR – That first paragraph is very telling, and points to what has happened to make the UK not such a nice place – Creeping socialism.
    Parliament is full of this disease now, and not just from the labour benches, which is why we have to support right wing activists and parties………. MSM still cry foul whenever someone we might call a patriot brings something awful to light, and they are dismissed as hard right fanatics – justice and honesty have been taking a back seat as dogmatic socialism has overruled common sense.
    If the Tory party is to survive then it must return to it’s root, and ensure it’s MP’s do likewise – Ye Gods, we have enough examples of how morally deficient socialism is – How did we ever let it get so far entwined in to our lives?

  11. Lomas
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    There has never been an entity in history that has generated more free trade across national borders than the EU. And you want to leave it. You are an enemy of free enterprise

    • Posted April 26, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      How do you think countries manage that are not part of you much-admired EU? How do THEY trade?
      How can trade be ”free” if we have to pay up front just to belong to the trading ‘entity’?

  12. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    We need to change our constitution. We need a number of Citizens Assemblies that would provide a framework within which government would legislate.

    We need:

    One to decide levels of taxation and amount that each department receives.
    One to decide on a sensible and proven system of education. (An end to the mess made by alternating governments.)
    One to decide on transport policy. (Would anyone sane build HS2 or spend hundreds of millions putting the A303 in a tunnel by Stonehenge.) A policy that looks ahead 30 years, not just to the next election.)
    One to decide on health policy. (Again to stop alternating governments from screwing up the NHS.)
    One to decide on defence.
    One to create a sustainable energy and environment policy.

    Our current political system is not fit for purpose. It’s time for fresh thinking and change.

  13. margaret
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Yet put all these complainers in charge , and this has been done before by groups of people who think they can do better, and they make a worse hash of it. The divisions between public and private sectors are less delineated than in the 80’s with employers and managers skipping between the two.Healthy competition, in other words better performance should always pay. What is more prevalent in the private sector is unhealthy rivalry where scouts look around to bring others down for their own success in limiting markets. Italy is renowned for it.Business ethics are an important aspect of any financial transaction , however try and tell that to those who step on others and bring prosperity down for their own benefit or sheer jealousy.

    When we talk about freedom of choice though , the majority of my patients would choose the NHS , they are not concerned with a nice room, good food and hotel like consideration : they want to get well and not be bankrupt because they are in need of expensive treatment or an operation.Those with more financial reserve can access those private institutions like BUPA founded at the same time as the NHS, but is the outcome any better?
    John talked about GP appointments. This is not a problem if the staff were properly utilised and snobbery about certain ways of gaining knowledge weren’t fixed or brainwashed by institutions . I run a surgery every day as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. I have had training since 1968 and ongoing for this. I passed exams in medicine as all Nurses for public standing did and began the continuous learning from thereon in every aspect of medicine and surgical Nursing. Looking at the highly paid newly qualified medics who take up positions then rely on the Nurses to keep supplying them with safety nets for their practice is foolish . I would much prefer someone who has been practising medicine for 30 years than someone who has just started . The signifier ‘ medical ‘school doesn’t exclude other institutions where medicine is taught and practised. The outworn and old fashioned concept of a Dr being almost a religious figure who knows everything is rather silly. Of course these very important practitioners are still required , but come on break down the snobbery barriers and realise that we do have choice and can use our own well educated , trained and ethically suitable Nurses.

  14. Pete Else
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    You’ve just made the argument that MP’s should cease to regard themselves as rulers of an ignorant and violent populace and start realising who is boss. In fact you’ve just agreed with Nigel Farage. Can we look forward to another defection soon?

  15. Richard1
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Good stuff! My Goodness we need more of this from the Conservatives instead of virtue signalling and pandering to socialists. The next leader, once we get rid of the hapless Mrs May (any progress on that?) needs to make the case relentlessly for a dynamic enterprise economy. We will not win the election by promising to out-spend and out-regulate the Marxists. Most young people are bright enough to see the benefits of an enterprise economy vs Venezuela. That will be the choice. Please pick the leader best able to articulate it. (I think Gove might be Best).

  16. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Too many people in the country. This is your and previous governments’ growth strategy. That is what your profit motive has reigned down on us.

    Competition drives innovation not just growth or profit.

  17. Dominic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    The public sector is beyond reform. It’s always been beyond reform. Why is this so? Simply because it’s designed to be beyond reform. The architects of such a system build within it a mechanism that prevents changes to its operating model.

    The public sector is essential to Labour’s client state. It is a political construct whose aim is not the delivery of essential services to the end-user but the delivery of political power and political leverage to Labour and their allies

    If Marxist Labour to achieve power thanks to May’s pathetic leftist pandering then their nationalisation program will afford them a source of immense political power and leverage to control all things. Such an entity will be beyond reform and beyond our control. Such a huge source of unelected power would represent a threat to us all

    Understand what Marxist Labour now is. They aren’t the cuddly socialists of Attlee and Wilson. These people are pure bred political animals with no sense of morality or decency. They will crush all their enemies if they can and they’ll do it with a smile on their face

    ‘Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.’ Karl Marx Prussian-German philosopher (1818-1883).

    Abolish private property rights and we all become slaves of the political state with no rights and no freedom to act according to our own interests

  18. bigneil
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I see our well-off peers are calling for pensioners to be financially punished to “help the young” – – or in real terms to make the people who have worked and paid in all their lives suffer while the deliberate waving in off hundreds of thousands every year to get a free life continues. how many of these new imports actually work and contribute? how many commit crime knowing they’ll NEVER be deported, allowed to stay here on the taxpayer teat forever. Kill a load of pensioners off and that’s more housing for those arriving in the next lorry.
    Are all working class pensioners going to be called Jack from now on as well? The Lords have shown themselves up by this – ” We’re all right Jack – **** you ” attitude. The poor will soon be subject to “Carrousel” like Michael York and Jenny Agutter.

  19. George Brooks
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    We have been slowly leaning over to the left for decades initiated partly by the teaching in university and accelerated by politics becoming an occupation.

    An increasing number of MPs have absolutely no experience in industry or commerce so it is not surprising that their decisions frequently ignore market forces and trends. They have a limited idea of the real world and little appetite to strike out and succeed.

    That is why Brexit is in such a mess as huge number of MPs don’t have the guts or the vision to run our own country

    Nobody should be allowed to go on a party political selection list until they have spent at least 10 to 15 years in industry or commerce.

  20. Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    The parliamentary mix is alarming. One major party devoted to state ownership. All the minor parties inclined that way. Even your own party, when it is not in self destruction mode, can be ambivalent as to how much government has to control our lives.

    Government only spends other peoples money and invariably they do it inefficiently. They are supported by a whole swathe of national politicians that think naively that spending even more will remove all the deficiencies in public services.

    To increase the efficiency of public services I would ruthlessly apply the principals of ISO 9000 & QS9000 to all their activities. I would incentivise those who work within public services to produce improvements for which they would be financially rewarded. I would introduce hire and fire within our national and local civil service and apply it ruthlessly to failure. For example all those who for the past three years have been instrumental in creating the WA would by now be the proud pocessors of a P45. I would make it a basic qualification for entry to Parliament that candidates should have been gainfully employed in an acceptable occupation for a minimum of ten years. The present political routes to a career as an MP would be banned.

    From personal experience I know that the NHS is medically populated by people of great dedication to what they do and they operate with great humanity. In some none emergency areas they do not have enough surgeons and nurses to for instance to replace all the ailing joints we need to replace. We need to train vastly more than we do. When industry has a machine tool to forefill a demand that tool will be worked 24/7. The NHS ,given the bank of personel to utilise them, has a vast array of very expensive kit that is not in use 24/7. For the NHS it is professionals and perhaps facilities we are short of, not the dedication of those already working in it. Incidentally it is those self same dedicated people who know ,better than any politician, where money is being wasted in how they operate.

    Here is a suggestion for an entrepreneur. Set up a company to collect from ex or deceased patients all the medical aids they might have ended up with, now sitting in the garage. My secretary has two walking frames, a wheelchair, and unopened packets of medical aids. Refurbish the solid objects and sell them back to the NHS who have written them off. Send the unopened packets to MSF. or other overseas good causes.

    Our national enterprises need fine tuning from within not destruction because they do not fit a particular political philosophy.

    • Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      You write a long article on Free Enterprise/State Industry and get a lengthy considered set of thoughts in reply, but fail to publish. Are you wedded to the glib one liner or do you think that we out in the real world we are incapable of original thought. If you look around yourself today in the HoC you won’t find much original thought, as todays article implies.

  21. Everhopeful
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Litmus test for free enterprise-
    Can you set up a roadside sandwich making and selling business in one day?
    Buy the bread and filling..make…sell.
    No! Red tape and greed.
    Crony Capitalism.

  22. Ian wragg
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Free enterprise will end with the Maybot WA tying us permanently to Brussels.
    Again MPs have opted to keep her in post, daily destroying the party. Well of course that’s a price worth paying to keep us under the yoke.

  23. PeterM
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Sir John, your first paragraph is wonderful: try to think how it can be understood in view of the perks that some MPs are getting in addition to their MP salary? You are closer to the truth than you imagine, aren’t you?

  24. Sharon Jagger
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    In other words, government taxes and regulates any state owned entity to death! But forgets to streamline or make it efficient and fit for purpose !

  25. JoolsB
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Another reason for an English Parliament. It is mostly only English matters which are not being discussed whilst MPs pontificate endlessly about Brexit. May as only May knows best kicked the can into the long grass over reviewing tuition fees – what happened to that? And slightly off topic John, we hear on the news this morning that an opt out donor system is to be introduced in England next year. Could you please confirm that SNP and all other MPs with non-English seats got to vote on this? A non-reply will be taken as yes.

  26. Alan Joyce
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    The Conservative Party was once noted for its competence and good governance. Now it is a hopeless, useless and rudderless shell of a party. It is not worth voting for.

    Can it get any worse? It just has!

    Once upon a time when the Conservatives were in trouble and the Leader was shown to be unfit for purpose one could rely on the Party to remove him / her tout de suite. Now they cannot even do that.

    It seems as if the voters are going to have to do it for them in what will likely be a painful experience before they get the message.

  27. Merlin
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly. Private enterprise and initiative are the horse which pulls the cart.

    It’s always a tricky balancing act to ensure that the entrepreneurs get to keep a share of their profits while sharing the benefits among the wider public.

    As long as people see articles about big companies and businesses paying no tax, they will often focus on the greedy businessman cliché rather than appreciating companies provide goods and services we want at an acceptable price – which is good for us all.

  28. javelin
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    If its a service then humans are the key commodity.

    So the problem lies in the organisation of staff and their behaviour.

    Two necessary steps
    (1) Ensure only staff who innovate are promoted
    (2) staff who don’t meet the necessary standard can be removed.

    Which requires
    (1) Is top down from Ministers
    (2) Is rewriting employment contracts.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Javelin,

      I would suggest innovation had had a deleterious effect in (some parts of) education.

  29. William Long
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    You have given an excellent expose of why it is so very important that the next Conservative leader is someone who believes, not just in Brexit, but in the entire philosophy of free enterprise, private ownership, choice and capitalism. There are very few people in the current political landscape but they do exist. It may well mean someone who has the support of the membership but is not first choice among MPs, but if so, so be it.
    Many people are now saying they have torn up their Conservative membership cards and will never vote Tory again, but I think they are short sighted and at present the Conservative party is still the best hope if it can appoint a leader who believes in Conservatism: someone who is familiar with the implications of ‘The Road to Serfdom’ and is prepared to put its recommendations into practice.
    The new Brexit party of course has the headlines at the moment and will probably do well in the Euro elections, if we take part in them, but the Euro elections have always been a good opportunity for protest rather than a serious event in my view. Both Brexit and UKIP in its time, have the disadvantage of being too much one issue parties and as UKIP demonstrated, are likely to take a very long time to develop General Election winning potential, if they ever do. I do not think we have that time to turn round the juggernaut of statism and soft socialism that is so beloved by the media and the ‘Go

  30. Gareth Warren
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I completely agree with this principle, even the cleverist person cannot determine the correct price for everything, the private solution works because everyone is involved in that task.

    Here I cannot ignore the EU where I feel many politicians at heart believe government knows best and logically the biggest government (EU) must be correct. This sort of thought is thoroughly un-conservative yet MPs like May clearly believe it.

    The media is dominated by the BBC which believes fervently in big government, one reason why the next PM needs to be someone to be able to get their message out without relying on mainstream media support. In the longrun the BBC should be privatised.

    Corbyn is the perfect target to shoot down socialism (again!), if the conservative party want to survive they must once again fight this battle.

  31. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Ever heard of Greta Thunberg – me neither until yesterday. May had the sense not to turn up. It shoes how disconnected, daft and deluded those who did are. Heating bills rocketing for unproven science. Pollution and population control good, but the enforced use of wind and solar farms and their use of natural resources at the users’ expense deny free enterprise. When we can only buy battery cars, cannot use gas boilers the world will be perfect!

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      shows

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      UKs response to climate change and reducing CO2 is amongst the best in the world. Fact. So why all the whiners our on the streets complaining ?

  32. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    This piece could also be called ‘Making the case against socialist parties’.

    Dogma should have no place in politics, but we are currently ruled by it … In an ideal world:
    – Companies would provide 90% of healthcare, leaving the state to pick up the rest, but innovation would be encouraged, rather than funded by the state;
    – Parliament would not pursue innovation, but would be a balance between what currently worked and how it could be better;
    – Government would work only to provide the basics of it’s contract with it’s people, and would not allow willy-nilly increases in taxation, nor abuse of taxpayers money.

  33. forthurst
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The Competition and Markets Authority should look urgently at the failure of competition in the political parties marketplace where two political parties, widely disliked and despised, take turns to the wreck our country, sell us out to the EU, engage in malevolent regime change and import hundreds of thousands of unassimilable aliens every year. The basis on which this duopoly operates is the FPTP electoral system which ensures that two thirds of votes cast in general elections are wasted as they do not lead directly or indirectly to a chosen party or candidate being elected and which effectively prevents most people from being able to vote for policies which they would wish to support.

    Poor decision taking and resource allocation in the public sector is a consequence of poor quality politicians having a monopoly of incompetence leading to the throwing away of taxpayers’ money on white elephants, the EU and on virtue signalling in the third world.

    There is the further issue of the BBC which operates a virtual monopoly of political propaganda enabling it to groom millions of people of modest intellectual attainment into believing economically and societally destructive falsehoods.

  34. ukretired123
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I was self employed after Margaret Thatcher championed free enterprise in the late 1980s and whilst it was hard work it was so liberating and refreshing after working in old industries with demoralised folks.
    That was until New Labour came in 1997 with IR35 and VAT paperwork and changed self-employed into a nightmare bureaucracy especially if you wanted to expand using employees for goodness sake, the whole point of startups!
    Under successive governments none of them has ever captured the imagination of free enterprise because unlike Mrs Thatcher none of them has experienced it or actually had to run a business unlike you Sir John which is why you have great insight on this and many other areas.
    When Donald Trump was elected to the surprise of the media ordinary Americans voted because he was a businessman who got things done unlike many career politicians.
    In the real world of free enterprise you have to perform and your last contract is always the most important one as it may be your epitaph.
    In bureaucracies you get promoted or shifted sideways ending up with many passengers.

  35. rose
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Talking of groundhog day, what went wrong at the 1922? Did they judge the pear is still not ripe, or is it still a case of Nothing Has Changed?

    • rose
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I know – it was because they want Mrs May to complete the Botch so Boris can’t salvage Brexit. Then they can foist Tom Tugendhat on us instead.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      They left May in charge because they want her to stay in charge – they are desperate to avoid WTO exit which might happen if a Brexiter takes over from her. Fine. More votes for Farage.

  36. miami.mode
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Almost all of the decision makers in government have spent their entire lives in public life of some sort, quangos, unions, etc and have absolutely no idea of competitive supply and indeed are generally against it, as in private schools, private hospitals and suchlike.

    While ever they are allowed to oversee services to the public, it will always be in a mess and poor value for money.

  37. Ed Mahony
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Also, this country has talked about Sovereignty many times over last few years, but not in any great depth. What do people mean by Sovereignty? (And if we addressed this more and the fears of Remainers, things would be quite different).

    There is Traditional, Christian Sovereignty – The Sovereignty of Queen Elizabeth I (which I fully subscribe to). Queen Elizabeth ultimately believed she had to preserve and fight for British Sovereignty and would have to answer to God for it one day, not just her own people.

    Then there is Modern, Secular Sovereignty – The Sovereignty of Napoleon, Hitler and The Soviet Union – where people used and manipulated sovereignty for their own selfish reasons – and where one’s own people were worse than the foreigner (the German Nazis did more to ruin Germany than any foreigner – the same for the Russian Soviets to Russia).

    Another reason why the traditional, Christian model works best, i think at least (and why we must try and fight for it – those sympathetic towards it). And if the UK was still a traditional Christian country, we wouldn’t be in the EU, perhaps never in the EU. Plus we would have excellent relations with Europe – trade, security and culture – but outside any single market / Customs Union).

  38. Clive
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    The problem with this theory is that it excludes several well-understood limitations.

    Firstly, there is asymmetrical information. You don’t know if Company A is careless with your personal data because of lax data handling and security procedures — until there’s a data loss incident. And then it’s too late to either “get your money back” or else switch your business elsewhere before the damage is done. The definitive text in this subject is “A Market for Lemons” which can be searched for online.

    The second is that often consumers are unable to get all the product details when they are selecting a purchase. In which case, you have to rely on inferior proxies. When assessing a clinician, for example, “bedside manner”, “a friendly personality”, “helpful-looking” are often used by patients to evaluate medical outcomes when these are a poor guide. This is understandable as we all, after all, want to be in recipient of the best care and have the most effective treatment possible if we’re unfortunately going to need to receive it — and we have little else to go on. Regrettably, this still doesn’t make these criteria sound based for judgement. The same goes for hospital facilities — that (subjectively) “clean, modern hospital” might be killing some of its patients with hospital-acquired infections. If so, it may also be tempted to to fiddle its figures on this data point. Indeed, its managers are incentivised to do so.

    Finally, the notion that we can fix many of the ills of the private sector and capitalism by being savvy shoppers ignores that this activity is a tax. A tax on time. Spending my own labour, uncompensated for, on price comparison websites, looking up school league tables, search through online reviews, “phoning round to get the best deal”, switching bank accounts, switching energy suppliers, checking the complex tariffs on mobile phone contracts and trying to spot hidden “gotchas” in convoluted terms and conditions, making complaints, writing to ombudsman to get redress — all of which has now become a drearily familiar pastime in our modern lives — is time which could be better spent, if these sorts of natural monopolies were delivered in the true spirit of public service. But because the public service ethos is an anathema to neoliberal capitalism, under which we now live, it has been subject to eradication by both Conservatives and, somewhat ironically, New Labour too.

    Until it returns, we’re stuck with our poor individual bargaining power in the face of monopolies and oligopolies.

  39. David Maples
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    In the 70’s and early 80’s Polish farmers were not paid enough in subsidies by their government. Eventually, food supplies began to drop, because less was grown and more was offered to the private markets at inflated prices. Popular dissatisfaction grew, and so along came Lech Walesa, John Paul ll, Ronald Reagan, Gorbachev, and the Wall tumbled. The CPSU(Communist Party of the Soviet Union)packed their bags and moved to Brussels…or rather their ideological philosophy of central planning did.

    Until the ‘Man on the Clapham Omnibus’ begins to feel the pinch of shortages, shoddy goods, lack of choice and high prices, government interference will only get worse.

  40. Dominic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Marxist Labour now want to nationalise Britain’s entire bus service. Yes, you read that correctly. Marxist Labour and the unions want to take control of the human transmission system known as the railways and the buses. it affords McCluskey and his bully boys huge leverage over our daily lives, how we get to work and how we get back home

    We are under attack by the Marxist left determined to bring all under their control

    Labour’s re-nationalisation project will bankrupt the taxpayer but then they don’t care about that. Their only aim is the construction of an all powerful, all-controlling hard left client state that no one will be able to reform

    And their plans for immigration reform send a shiver down my spine

  41. Lifelogic
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Theresa May has been Home Secretary or PM since May 2010. Crime his risen hugely over this period just last year we had:-

    Violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by 19% in a year,
    the number of homicides – including murder and manslaughter – rose from 649 to 739, an increase of 14%, in the 12 months to the end of September 2018.
    It is the highest total for such crimes since 2007.
    Robbery went up by 17%, as did recorded sexual offences.
    Violent crime recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by 19% in a year, latest Home Office figures show. The number of homicides – including murder and manslaughter – rose from 649 to 739, an increase of 14%, in the 12 months to the end of September 2018. It is the highest total for such crimes since 2007.
    Robbery went up by 17%, as did recorded sexual offences.

    “Vote Conservative” The party of ever higher crimes, the highest taxes for 70 years, the great (and totally dishonest) Brexit betrayal, the appalling NHS rationing system, the most idiotic and complex tax system ever, second rate schools, poor infrastructure, expensive greencrap energy, dire universities and countless £50,000 pointless degrees.

    They cannot even vaccinate children properly!

    That should go down well with the voters Theresa!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Still she can tell the voters about he gender pay reporting and other expensive PC lunacy I suppose!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Government minister commenting on the crime figures on World at One says “we cannot go backwards”.

      Well you have done mate – for all the time Theresa May has been Home Sectretary or PM! Perhaps he just did not bother to look at the figures.

  42. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    David Cameron’s introduced some limited choice into hospital treatments and consultations. If your local NHS hospital had a waiting list for the type of consultation you wanted, you could go to another hospital. In 2012, I was referred for certain tests to my local hospital at Basingstoke. The waiting time was 6 weeks so I contacted a Berkshire hospital which had a waiting time of 2 weeks. Unfortunately, it was only the initial testing that took place in 2 weeks; additional tests deemed necessary took longer, so that I ended up driving a considerable distance four times over a period of two months.

    After the first month of tests, I suggested that the records of the tests to date could be transferred to Basingstoke for completion of the tests. The reaction of the Berkshire hospital was hostile: “We can’t do that and if you transfer to Basingstoke hospital the work done on the tests to date will be completely wasted”. That attitude may have complied with the letter of the Cameron initiative but certainly not with its spirit.

    Also, my GP expressed surprise that I should have elected to go to a hospital other than my local one. It clearly takes a lot to alter the mind set of a publicly accountable Stalinist monopoly.

  43. BR
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Why is the NHS free at the point of use? Why is private provision of parts of the NHS so anathema?

    Private provision of (say) physiotherapy services provides competition, lower prices and higher standards. The fact that the major parties all see this the same way reflects the fears of parties who no longer stand for anything – they simply react to public opinion that is shaped by a woolly left-leaning mainstream media.

    I disagree with the Lib Dems on almost everything, but I respect the fact that they at least stand for what they believe in rather than simply changing tack to whatever opinions are being voiced on Twitter each day.

    Some degree of leadership is needed and some degree of open debate. People are all too often shouted down (or sacked, such as Scruton) for expressing opinions that are not in line with the engineered mainstream view.

    To challenge this, you need to be careful not be swept away by the tide of outrage, of course. But it has to be done or we will end up as the next Greece sooner or later.

  44. ferdinand
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    All, but all, businesses live with the carrot and the stick. Opportunites for greater profit, and penalties for lazy performance. Those are the two essential ingredients and both are missing in all state organisations.

  45. Original Richard
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Just as free enterprise with competing companies “builds in natural incentives to innovate, to raise quality and to drive efficiency” so does separate, competing free enterprise European nations work better to ensure democracy, freedom and improved living standards than a single, corrupt, undemocratic EU super-state.

  46. Newmania
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Lots of sense in this in theory .The planned economy has not worked yet . One of the casualties of Brexit ( talking about which is not my fault) is that the Conservative Party has lost its reputation for fiscal continence and being supportive of business
    We all know exactly what they think of Business.In addition to having our prosperity slowly eaten out by the cancer of Brexit we are set on a course of post war style dithering Butskillism at best.

    Grim

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      The Conservative party lost their reputation for fiscal continence long long ago around the time John Major joined the ERM, a policy that you no doubt supported at the time

  47. libertarian
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    This Conservative government and the previous one has spent much time attacking small businesses, taxing and regulations everything and trying to consign us to a technology backwater . They then have the absolute front to try to claim that they have anything what so ever to do with the job creation miracle bought about entirely by SME’s in the face of a statist, socialist conservative government . The Tory party needs to be wiped of the map and replaced with a party that believes in small state, low tax, self discipline and aspiration

    Ive just joined the Brexit Party , I fully expect them to fight the next general election too.

  48. Newmania
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    the air is often thick with criticisms of companies and entrepreneurs

    Yes usually from, Brexit boosters whose low opinion of business is all to well known. In fact I am amazed to see the very same John Redwood who has been telling us Business doesn’t know what it is talking about suddenly so impressed with the wisdom of all the people, who begged him not to make their lives so much harder and , gulped at his endless calls form yet more public borrowing and spending
    The State does need reform but Brexit has taken us back decades and now all we have to look forward to is the sort of muddle mishap and sheer indolence of the last year or two

    reply More lies. I want to spend or give as tax breaks the money we save by leaving the EU, not more borrowing. Business people are better judges of how to respond to customers than some of them are pundits on the EU and our economy.

  49. mancunius
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    The government – and above all its now overwhelmingly leftwing civil service – is so automatically statist in its thinking that when claiming to involve the private market, it actually hands over control of important UK infrastructure to other state governments.
    See for example the handing of transport, rail and engineering contracts to massive German and French enterprises that are covertly supported and controlled by their governments. The handing over of a major water company – for many years – to a ‘private equity firm’ that was acting primarily in the interests of another country’s public sector pensions liabilities.
    And now the handing of a communications link – one existentially vital to this country’s security – to a Chinese firm beholden to its government, which would not shrink from infiltrating or even paralysing the UK network.
    And yet all the government can do is to complain bitterly that their dubious decision has been made public!

  50. Richard416
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Well said Sir John as always. The problem is there are far too many politicians that know how to spend other people’s money but very few who know how to reate wealth. Actually it’s not a politician’s job, but they can help to create the right climate.

  51. Andy
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    The Huawei leak is interesting. Someone on the National Security Council is a very naughty boy (or girl). There is no doubt that there needs to be an investigation. And seeing that it appears that the law has been broken it would seem inevitable that criminal proceedings should follow.

    It seems likely, also, that the leak came from the side which was unhappy with the decision. Probably a member of the Cabinet. The suspects include a couple of Tory leadership hopefuls, a few Brexiteers too.

    I love a good whodunnit. Especially when it will be career ending for the culprit.

    • Steve
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Andy

      I agree that criminal proceedings should follow, but I’d lay good money on that not happening.

      However I doubt the motive was brexit related.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Steve,

        Though one could imagine some cabinet members vehemently disagreeing with the decision and yet have learned from the Brexit mismanagement that resignation accomplishes nothing. Better to leak, even career ending as Andy suggests, than to resign – Any effect is better than No effect.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      The suspects include several Remainers too, why didn’t you mention that ? I assume the motive was to highlight the fact that May had taken the decision personally without troubling to discuss it with the cabinet or take the advice offered by the security services. In that case you could make the case the leak was in the national interest. In any case they will never find who leaked it – they never do – so best move on, it’s hardly damaging information is it ?

    • Richard1
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I can’t see the leak is a threat to national security. It’s certainly a threat to the conduct of this committee. But then all the other leaks – which these days happen more or less in real time – are a threat to cabinet govt.

      What does look like a threat to national security is allowing a company which is subject to heavy influence by the Chinese govt to be in a position either to sabotage communications infrastructure or to mine data secretly.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      How can leaking information that the NSC is discussing whether or not Huawei should be involved in the UK’s 5G network possibly be described as “divulging sensitive information”?

      • Fred H
        Posted April 26, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Richard, ..It is to the slaves of Chinese imports with not a care as to the damage to our economy ( and the US and EU).

    • Edward2
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:28 am | Permalink

      Not so long ago you were extolling the virtues of whistleblowers, Andy.
      Telling us what brave people they were.
      Now you’ve gone all traditional and want them arrested.
      Make your mind up.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Mrs May is following Germany’s instructions to allow Huawei to build 5G infrastructure in the UK to align the UK with Germany/the EU against the US/Canada/Australia/NZ.

  52. Steve
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Dominic

    “The next Tory leader must confront the rise of left wing authoritarianism. We cannot allow this poison to spread”

    Know what you mean, but;

    1) It’s too late, Blair corrupted the civil service, and over dosed the nation with political correctness.

    2) Doubtful the next Tory leader will have the (any) balls. Even the 1922 committee can’t muster a single pair. Moreover the next general election will formalise the extinction of the conservative party.

    The way this country is misgoverned will not be sorted out democratically since democracy is dead. It will come down to civil unrest and brute force.

  53. Marcus
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of England..yes time to go ..time to go from the EU, time to go from Ireland, ime to go from scotland and wales time to go from everywhere .. yes we’ve all had enough of yer whinge. bye bye

  54. Richard1
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I should say that I have often enjoyed watching Emma Thompson act. That is what – If anything – she should command time on the airwaves to discuss. Ie What she knows more than the rest of us about.

  55. Anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Obstructs a London street – doesn’t get a fine, just a prime slot to rant unopposed.

    (There is no such thing as child poverty in the UK, just child neglect which is a different thing.)

  56. Iain Gill
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    well said John.

    also proper insurance policies have a list of things you are covered for, exclusions, and can be relied upon in advance to payout if certain things happen. the British public sector equivalent like the NHS changes what it will cover all the time, in random ways which individual citizens cannot possibly predict, done by CCG’s who are accountable to nobody at all, so that you have no opportunity to plan in advance to insure for things the NHS was covering but fails to cover come the day you actually need care.

    we should move away from random allocation and rationing to a model where there is a clearly written down list of what you are and are not covered for in advance.

    in the same way some people are getting extremely expensive leading schools on the state, while others are left with some of the worst schools in the developed world. it would be far better if the parents were given the money and could negotiate directly with head teachers than the rationing and allocation (and corruption) that goes on at the moment.

  57. Captain Peacock
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    What’s needed is private companies to run our local councils for Gods sake today some of these jobsworths are on £300k a year.

  58. Lifelogic
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    Indeed any they never even question these people sensibly when they are interviewed.

  59. Lifelogic
    Posted April 26, 2019 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Not even asked why she decided to increase (probably double) her carbon output from the flight by not flying economy. Just for slightly more comfort for a few hours.

    She is right on the need for more water fountains in schools and indeed elsewhere though.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 26, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      Yes she is right on that. Looking further at what she says I don’t think her child hunger initiative is bad. The reasons for it are likely varied but perhaps good to have a focus on it.

  60. gimmeabreak
    Posted April 28, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    John Redwood wrote: “The free enterprise model builds in natural incentives to innovate, to raise quality and to drive efficiency. If Company A fails to grasp the move from blackberries to ipads, Company B will and will take the business.”

    Try telling that to a pensioner (doubtless not a few in your own constituency) who, after a knock on their door, has been parted from their life savings by a “tree surgeon” or “roofer” for substandard and outright unnecessary “work” and, moreover, has zero chance of ever retrieving the money they have been scammed out of and, even if they manage to track down the con artist(s) and get them into court, will find themselves threatened against testifying by members of the perpetrator’s extended clan.

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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