Prosperity not austerity

When the new government announced its economic aim is to promote growth and prosperity it heralded a most important change. It was a change I had pressed for for several years, meeting with disapproval  from Mr Hammond.

The old government had as its main aim the reduction of  debt as a proportion of GDP. This requirement of the Maastricht EU Treaty forced the government to constrain public spending too much and to keep tax rates too high. Indeed it often encouraged Mr Osborne and Mr Hammond to impose new taxes that were economically damaging, like their Stamp Duty and vehicle Excise Duty hikes which hit the homes and car markets.

Now the promotion of growth is the aim it allows the government to make selective increases in public spending in areas like health and schools where increased capacity and higher quality requires more and better paid staff. It will also require more tax cuts on earning and on transactions in our economy.

The official machine has clearly hit back a  bit against the welcome revolution. It has  placed a weaker version of the debt control back into the fiscal framework saying that over a five year period state debt as a proportion of GDP should decline. This is an improvement on needing  an update of the position of state debt every time there is a  new forecast with adjustments made in the short term. At each forecast there is an OBR admonition and a new pledge from government to get the debt down.  

I support the control that says all current public spending must be paid for out of tax revenues. Allowing borrowing for capital investment is fine. It does require good capital investment assessments and good controls over build costs and project management. Some of these need improving as the government plans more public investment.

Meanwhile we await some signs from the UK economic establishment that they recognise the rest of the world is engaged in a battle to prevent the slowdown turning into something worse. Today’s problem is not the threat of too much inflation, but too little activity. The rest of the world is cutting taxes, boosting liquidity and cutting interest rates. The world should escape recession as a result.

In the Eurozone Mrs Lagarde has stated that she thinks the negative interest rates, money creation and bond buying they are still doing is as far as the ECB can go. She wants some fiscal relaxation to boost growth.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    You say “It does require good capital investment assessments and good controls over build costs and project management”. Government alas almost never does this. Things are done for political and virtue signally reasons. Economic logic, common sense and efficiency rarely get a look it. As with HS2, Hinckley C, all the daft “renewables” subsidies, smart meters, electric car subsidies and the insanity of importing wood to burn at Drax.

    What is needed in healthcare and schools is far more freedom and choice. Providing these “free at the point of use” kills almost all real competition stone dead and is hugely damaging. Education vouchers that people can top up and use as they wish at independently run schools. Also it would be good if the schools taught real science, sound economics and logic rather than PC claptrap as is so often the case now.

  2. margaret
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    If all current pubic spending should be paid for by tax revenues and tax rates will be cut , then there is a potential problem of insufficient funds.. Mr Corbyn says there are going to be tax increases.

    Dynamism is important to growth , although the ups and downs take many casualties and these casualties need to be compensated or excluded from government stats on performance.

    Control of debt I believe is a good thing , providing that all citizens are considered and have basic needs ,like a roof over their head , civilly met.Spending on perishable goods and prettying up hospitals at the expense of a sufficient and expert staff is vulgar and selfish .Making bigger and faster rail travel whilst people are jumping in front of trains due to poverty is flash and cruel.
    Money is important , but lets not forget that people and guiding them towards a more reasoned and less greedy future will help human survival overall.

  3. agricola
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    I saw austerity as a necessity though with hindsight it could have been handled better. If you are going to carry the crew with you it is important to explain what you are doing and why, then to update them with progress. The word gave the opposition something to hang their political whinging on.

    Brexit will free us of the socialist EU constaints, and if you get it right by leaving cleanly and then back it with the right tax policy I will feel more positive than I have for o very long time.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Grant Chaps yesterday on Any Questions:-

    “half of our energy now from renewables, 53%” – complete drivel it is less than about 5% of our total energy use. The 53% is just electricity and is not “renewables” but what the government calls (often quite wrongly) low carbon sources – so nuclear, wind, hydro, burning imported wood, solar ….


    “Now more charging locations than Petrol Stations” perhaps but you need about 5000 charge points to replace the “charging (refilling) capacity” of one Petrol Station as it is so much quicker to fill a tank than charge a battery. Anyway who want to hang around for hours waiting for a car to charge?

    Then his “less (sic) plastic bags” claim – well yes fewer bags but much heavier ones and overall far more plastic used in them – just as I would have expected.

    Green issues are not as simple as politicians seems to think. The intermittent electricity from solar and wind also creates other major costs and serious issues for the grid the absurdly run smart meter agenda for example. Building the wind farms and nuclear reactors is rather carbon intensive. As is building electric cars and their batteries.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      HS2 is a basket case in financial return terms and is certainly not environmental nor green. It should be culled. This is about the only thing the Green Party have got right.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Dear Lifelogic–Wouldn’t be so bad if it were doing the one thing it should be doing, viz joining to HS1 so Manchester to Madrid, Milan, Marseilles as I believe was original idea. Freight overnight of course. I don’t buy the baloney about businessmen working on train to Birmingham.

        • Fred H
          Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          Leslie – – I can hear the dozens of mobile-enabled conversations ‘ yes I’m on the new train to Brum, it says we are doing 130mph, but we’ve been in a tunnel for 15 mins so I’ve no idea where we are’.

      • jane4brexit
        Posted December 2, 2019 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it we were told to build HS2 in an EU directive that came into force 1995 or 1996, it is part of the planned Trans-European Transport Network. It was when May said it was still going to be built, that I started worrying we were not going to Brexit, or not in the way we had voted to:

    • Lester Beedell
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink


  5. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Unless and until we leave the EU we will be following EU fiscal policy.
    We all know that Boris will give in to Brussels just so he can claim victory.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    “Allowing borrowing for capital investment is fine” well except Government call everything investment – even pissing money down the drain on renewables or HS2 or their latest IT systems then abandoned after spending £X billions on it. The silly Theresa May probably thought her very expensive “gender pay reporting” red tape law was an “investment” or her building on EU workers rights!

    The office for tax simplification was doubtless thought to be an “investment” but taxes have since roughly doubled in complexity yet again. How many millions has it cost so far?

  7. Mark B
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    . . . new taxes that were economically damaging, like their Stamp Duty and vehicle Excise Duty hikes . . .


    Allowing borrowing for capital investment is fine. It does require good capital investment assessments and good controls over build costs . . .

    We have raised taxes only to waste on projects / White Elephants like HS2 and Hinkley Point. Spending of which is totally out of control. What does the Conservative Party propose to do about this drain on public spending ?

    When does our kind host expect the next government, assuming it is a Conservative one, to achieve a balanced budget ? Another Tory promise repeatedly made and then broken.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Not sure why Boris prefers to be interviewed by the dire, dopey, lefty, climate alarmist and Guardian think Andrew Marr rather than Andrew Neil. Neil to me seems to be fare minded, middle of the road politically and you can have an intelligent conversation with Andrew Neil unlike Marr. Also, unlike Marr, he does understand economics, business and does not think money grows on trees.

    • glen cullen
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Teresa May went for early election, went for WA, scared of interview/debate and ignored the 17.4m majority referendum i.e brexit in name only

      Boris Johnston also went for early election, also went for WA, also scared of Andrew Neil interview and ignored the 17.4m majority referendum i.e brexit in name only

      History repeating itself

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        I hope not, a good workable majority is needed. He will still have many remainers and some very clear traitors in his party returned as MPs too.

        Corbyn SNP or any other coalition would be a disaster. The Boris deal is dire but better than that.

        • glen cullen
          Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          I believe in strong government with a workable majority but I also believe government should enact referendum results (against the given question i.e leave not leave in name only)

    • L Jones
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Not sure, LL? Perhaps because Mr J knows that Mr M will go easy on him. I don’t think Mr N does ”easy”.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Mr Marr spent much of the interview just talking through or over him.

    • IanT
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Andrew Neil is also very well briefed, asks hard questions that expose the half-truths our political classes love to peddle and refuses to let them change the subject when they don’t want to give the right answer. If only more of our so-called “professional” journalists were as good at their jobs. He is also impartial, in that he deals the same amount of stick to all his “victims”.

      Boris is no better and no worse frankly than all the others, in that he has told his fair share of porkies – it’s just the others are gross hypocrites to call him a liar, when they get up to exactly the same ‘economic with the truth’ tricks.

      Ultimately however, the question is very simple. Which is the lesser of two evils – Boris or Corbyn – and on that question there should be no doubt in any sensible persons mind. Whatever your feeling about Brexit – there is no version of Brexit that would be worse than a Corbyn government. Voting Lib Dem is just gambling with that result and people need to be very careful for what they wish for…they may end up wit something entirely different.

    • Shirley
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I watched the Andrew Marr v Boris Johnson today. Boris managed to get few words out before being interrupted, unlike the free run given to the previous interviewees. The interview was absolutely appalling, and I am no fan of Boris.

  9. Simeon
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    How much has the pivot to spending (prosperity is not in any governments’s gift) from austerity got to do with an election? And shouldn’t it be May who is credited with this pivot? After all, she is the one who declared austerity was over and declared a massive injection of cash for ‘our NHS’.

    Can you guarantee that the element of the Masstricht Treaty that constrains public spending will no longer apply when we ‘leave’ the EU?

    And do you honestly believe that a global recession is a passing threat that can be headed off at the pass? I know Gordon Brown declared that boom and bust was over, but he wasn’t quite right about that, was he? With the best econmic policies imaginable, econmic shocks still happen. This is the way of the world. For God’s sake, the next financial crisis is around the corner, and its severity will be magnitudes greater than the last for obvious reasons.

    I appreciate that, with an election and all, the temptation to say strange things is evidently irresistible, but what you’re saying here amounts to Economy Denial – and that is far more dangerous than so-called climate denial.

  10. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The single most damaging thing that could be done under the circumstance is withdrawing from the European Union.

    It will have adverse effects on the Continent too, but the worst will be here.

    If the Government were serious about economic promotion, then they would lead in making that case in an honest didactic manner, rather than trying to use the widespread media-generated misconceptions amongst the public for short term electoral advantage.

    • Fred H
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Marty ……’It will have adverse effects on the Continent too, but the worst will be here.’

      It certainly will have adverse effects on the EU – major shortfall on income (unless Boris ties us in seemingly forever); serving as a catalyst for the Project breaking up; rendering the best military force outside EU control; concentrating 25 countries’ views on Germany/France running everything; and finally unleashing the best economic challenge to the Project yet witnessed. Why do you think the EU top dogs are scared s**tless, but stick to the party line and keep giving us more elastic rope. While we haven’t walked away they are in with a chance.
      As to the worst will be here, for a couple of years we may well find the going rough, but England (maybe the others will join the queue to reapply for the custodial sentence ) will rise from the current uncertain mess and drive forward.
      We just need several politicians with the balls to walk away.

    • NickC
      Posted December 2, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Martin, So your Remain view is more important than 17.4m votes?

  11. Kevin
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    “This requirement of the Maastricht EU Treaty forced the government to constrain public spending”

    Would that requirement apply to a (Remain) Corbyn government too? Because if it would, surely it behoves the Conservative Party to try to dissuade people from voting Labour for reasons other than Labour’s projected spending bill? As things stand, the Conservatives are conveying to me that a Corbyn government is more palatable to them than the clean-break, Leave the EU Brexit that we voted for, because they will not implement the latter, but they undoubtedly would concede to the former if they lost that vote.

  12. GilesB
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Central Banks have a difficult job balancing growth and inflation.

    Mistake Lagarde is shackling the ECB with responsibilities for sustainability too. This is lunacy and will prevent them meeting their objectives.

    No other body can protect the Eurozone from inflation and/or stagnation. There are many other bodies that can enforce a green agenda.

    All power corrupts: all technocrats overreach their capabilities.

  13. Everhopeful
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Well is all a total, miserable mess really with us the plebs stuck at the bottom of it all dispossessed and helpless.
    How on earth can anyone prosper when they are not even safe to walk the streets??
    Can’t speak freely.
    Can’t find a job.
    Can’t buy a house.
    Can’t recognise their ”home” town ( and no other home to go to).
    What a recipe for prosperity!

    • Dominic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Blame the Tories for bending to Labour’s will and then refusing to reform all that Labour’s created since 1997

      Since 2010 the Tories have accelerated and built upon Labour’s political project they implemented in 1997.

      The Tories are even worse than Labour. They’ve become almost shameful in their capitulation to the left. It is heart-breaking to see a party sink so low for the sake of the EU

    • Fred H
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      everh …..all of it fair comment.

  14. Stred
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Good investment assessment, cost control and project management by government! Is this a sardonic joke? HS2 and Hinckley have allowed big businesses and monopoly management to fill their own trough and even make the rest of the disaster too embarrassing to stop. How many IT disasters have there been over the last 20 years,?

    OT. Boris was wise to avoid Andrew Neil. He might have asked him about the details of the May tweak. As a reliable EU gob and collaborator, Marr will be asking other annoyingly pointless questions about his language and personal problems while avoiding the continuing control of the ECJ and the level playing field, fishing etc.

  15. Everhopeful
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Govts ( if we actually get another) should just butt out.
    Take their red tape and do whatever with it.
    Just leave people to get on with their lives.
    Where do govts think our first industrial/ economic successes came from?
    From individuals who just got on with it and had the freedom to do so.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Good letter in the Telegraph (today or yesterday) from a GP about how government controls and red tape is strangling their business and making them far less efficient. The state sector as well as the private sector (areas such as the police, local government, the NHS) are also being strangled by moronic government red tape, zero carbon drivel and the like.

      It was surely the zero carbon, greencrap religion that largely caused the Grenfell tragedy. Plus of course the total inability of the senior fire chiefs to manage to think in real time and evacuate the building as soon as it was clear it was out of control.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        No, it appears that the Grenfell outrage was caused by somebody’s fitting a different, cheaper cladding from the safe, non-combustible material specified.

        Investigations are under way to ascertain whether anyone, and if so whom, should be charged with a crime over this.

        It wouldn’t bring back all those people, but if there were a successful prosecution with exemplary sentences, then perhaps it would change the cynical, corner-cutting attitudes in some parts of the private sector.

        I’m not holding my breath.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          It was almost entirely state sector:- incompetence in building regulations, the decision to clad the block at all for green crap reaons (and at vast pointless expense) and then the incompetence in the way the work was specified and controlled, the poor choice of cladding and failure to test it properly before installation, the poor building regulations and building control system failure to pick this up. Then the total incompetence of the senior fire comanders on the night in failing to evacuate early. Also the failure to notice that the early fire in the flat had not been fully extinguished.

          Rather many rather big mistakes.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted December 1, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            I’ll await the outcome of the Inquiry, I think.

            There don’t seem to have been similar fires in the other twenty-seven European Union countries, however.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            This was all fairy obvious within 24 hours, much of it within a few minutes of seeing the TV images.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted December 2, 2019 at 7:55 am | Permalink

            Basically, you are claiming that all crime is the fault of the authorities’ failure to prevent it, and not that of criminals.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:45 am | Permalink


      Give us the framework within which to operate, protect the truly vulnerable and then get out of the way aside from law and order and defence.

      If they didn’t take so much off us in taxes we would have money for the other things they bribe us with at election time.

    • Andy
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Which red tape do you want to get rid of? It is all well and good to complain about regulation – and of course we should always scrap things which are out dated and irrelevant – but you are talking about getting rid of all of it

      So are you happy then for people to work on unsafe conditions? Seeing of course it is red tape which specifies what is safe. Would your view change if it were you or your kids who had to work in unsafe conditions?

      Should we scrap food standard regulations in restaurants? Red tape, innit. If chefs don’t wear hats, if surfaces aren’t clean, if knives are contaminated – who cares? It’s only food poisoning after all and most people don’t die from it.

      Working hour limits for bus drivers, lorry drivers and pilots is clearly red tape. We should allow people to drive or fly for as long as they like. There might be a few accidents as a result of cutting this red tape but not many people will die – so it is probably okay.

    • glen cullen
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      couldn’t agree more

  16. nshgp
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The pensions debts are growing at 17.5% based off ONS numbers.
    All those debts hidden off the balance sheet. Just like Bernie Maddoff.
    4 years ago, the debt hit 7,600 bn. At 17.5% annual growth its doubled. It’s 14,000 bn.
    The current annual growth is around the 2,600 bn mark
    How do you get austerity under control with a debt like that?

    1. Cut spending? What cuts? 2,600 is more than total spending
    2. Cut the debts? That means cancelling pensions. Most people then end up on welfare. That just changes the label on spending. It means personal austerity. People lose lots of money.
    3. Increase taxes with out spending. That’s public austerity. Voters then decide to replace you with people who will do the opposite.

    The debt rules all and you carry on making it worse, in particular by hiding the debts off the books

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 2, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with you.The country-and the west generally-is bust.The issue will become more acute not just because of the snowballing debt/off-balance sheet liabilities but also because of what the Russians and Chinese are doing-creating an alternative financial system with it’s own institutions to challenge what was intended to be a western monopoly,both for themselves and the increasing number of countries countries in their sphere of influence.And just like the Cold War was,propaganda aside,about an attempt to impose our would-be universal system on the Soviet bloc,hence the new cold war has similar objectives-but the west is relatively speaking massively weaker than before.

      If you want to look at a sound money economy,look at Russia-sovereign debt/GDP barely into double figures,and even that more than offset by reserves.Budget ,current account and trade balances all in surplus.Despite that increases in health and education spending are being funded by increases in VAT not debt or money printing and pension ages have been lifted to reflect the sharp rise in life expectancy since soviet times.

      I fear we are probably too far down the road to ruin to escape our fate.

  17. formula57
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Why do we not hear your message today from your party’s Treasury team and from the prime minister, endlessly punctuated to the electorate? They do subscribe to it, I assume.

  18. Andy
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    You stood on austerity manifestos in 2010 and 2015.

    And now, in the words of the IFS, your 2017 spending promises are not credible.

    • Fred H
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      you have something in common.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      The alternative is Corbyn.

  19. agricola
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Andrew Marr in discussing politics with Boris became positively menstrual. Marr was in grade A interuptive mode to such an extent that the watching public learnt absolutely nothing. A disgraceful display in line with BBC policy of support for socialism and general denigration of all things conservative. That is if you could work out anything from the constant interuption pouring from Marrs febrile brain. Get rid of this idiot who is a blot on the concept of a political interview.

  20. Qubus
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    This may be off-topic, but I have , employing great restraint, just been watching Andrew Marr’s offensive interviewing of Boris Johnson. As a voter who is neither strongly left or strongly right-wing, I think that I have yet to watch a most biased interview. Was Marr intending to interview Boris or just using the interview as a platform for his own left-wing views. This is just one more incident of blatant BBC bias; it’s time that the BBC were cut-down to size. Marr hardly let Boris complete a sentence before he interrupted him. If I had been the interviewee, I would have told Marr to screw his neck in and walked off the programme. I appreciate that politicians, and their views, should be very carefully scrutinised, but this interview was the limit in unpleasantness. Was Marr just trying to make a name for himself, competeing with Andrew Neil?

    • RichardM
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Comical comments agricola and Qubus. Your only have to search #marr in Twitter to realise what a lying blustering halfwit the majority see him as.

  21. Dominic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    This is an article written by someone who doesn’t believe what he’s writing. It lacks originality, common-sense and conviction. Why Mr Redwood continues to compose and publish articles he knows to be intellectually deficient defies any rationale

    You don’t expend scarce resources on organisations whose primary function is to waste scarce resources which is what Sir John is advocating. And then we remember he’s a politician and it all makes absolute sense. He wants to spend scarce resources to achieve a suitable political outcome for his party. From a financial perspective his ideas conclude in bankruptcy. But who cares about an event that’s some way down the time line say 2050?

    It is quite simple. Your embrace of big spend politics will destroy the UK because the only thing it achieves is a stronger Labour client state, a stronger union movement and a stronger Labour party

    Reform the public sector. Bankrupt Labour by bankrupting the unions through opt-in abolition. And then set free the forces of profitable capital investment rather than financing a highly politicised political state and politicised public sector controlled by the stain in opposition

    John. Your doing Labour’s job for them

    • Dominic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      erratum : ‘you’re’ not ‘your’ (possessive pronoun)

  22. Qubus
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    With all this talk about our national pride and joy, namely the NHS, has everyone forgotten that there are still a number of hospitals still being driven into the red because they are still suffering from the consequences of PFI decisions introduced by Gordon Brown and the Labour party?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      The NHS is the envy of no one sensible and has some of the worst outcomes for a developed nation.

      Look at the Shropshire Maternity case for a recent example:-

      It is believed the number of cases involved is now more than 800 and includes the death of dozens of babies, as well as more than 50 children who suffered brain damage.

  23. Polly
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The final week of GE2019 is the prelude to the final choice. Does Britain voluntarily surrender herself to the machinations of the European Union never to return and eventually be abolished into the new European State forecast for 2030 ? Or does Britain start to free herself from European Union shackles and once again become an independent nation ?

    Everything hangs on the result of GE2019. This is the final chance to escape, it really is the moment of the final choice.

    In a peaceful sense, December 12 2019 is not far removed from the significance of Waterloo or the final battle of WW1, but the closest analogy I can think of is the Battle of Britain. The turning point of the European conflict, ”the end of the beginning”, or will it be the end of Britain and the end of a thousand years of British history ?

    Way back in those days, most British people must have known what they were up against. Nothing was hidden, the issues of the day were clear to everyone. Everyone knew what to do. This time, by no means all British people seem to understand what is at stake. It is as if the national theme for some has changed from ”Their Finest Hour” to ”Alice in Wonderland”.

    Lack of reality looks to be one of the greatest weaknesses of any nation state and it seems to me that many have that ”quality” in abundance. Probably it is a result of long running socialist inspired ”political correctness” where reality must be buried if it doesn’t sound warm, cozy and cuddly, The fault for that must surely rest mainly with British leaders rather than the British people themselves.

    The British have not been kept correctly informed by their leaders without fear or favor. Leaders have too often put their interests first. Debates on crucial issues have resulted in silence and cover ups. Hard choices have not been properly explained. That is where much of the problem lies, and so unreality is now the pivot on which Britain’s future depends, on December 12, 2019.


    • Mark B
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I very much agree. There are never any easy decisions to make but great people rise to the occasion and make them and history. PM’s and MP’s are too concerned with ‘their legacy’, ie the politics of self, to see the big picture and make the right calls for the good of the nation.

      • L Jones
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        You are far too kind, Mark B. I’m sure that they do indeed ”see the big picture”, but there is far too much self-interest involved for them to care about making ”the right calls for the good of the nation”. I doubt too that they care much about ”their legacy” so long as their pockets are being well-lined.
        Our host aside, I can’t think of any who stand out as honourable, let alone straightforwardly sincere, especially after reading all the names on that ”” pledge. That really has opened my eyes as to what many MPs consider to be honour and truth.

      • Polly
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        I believe that at least two British PMs since 1990 have always made ”the right calls”…….

        …….for themselves.

        The effect of which I believe is proving to be a catastrophe for others.

        I also think John Stuart Mill was right. In 1867 he said………..

        “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”


        ”free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual and social progress. We can never be sure that a silenced opinion does not contain some element of the truth”


  24. NickC
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    JR, You should know that the UK civil service now apes its superiors in the EU Commission by regarding itself as the government. It thinks elected politicians are ignorant nuisances to be ignored or humoured. Our civil service thinks the electorate are the deplorables who, frankly, shouldn’t have the vote. You can see this attitude mirrored in the Remains on here.

    No government can reliably “promote growth and prosperity”, otherwise every government would do so, if only to get re-elected. All a government can do is not get in the way as the best of us deplorables create wealth and jobs. The civil servants won’t accept that, so they will be your stumbling block. Especially if you try to push policies (such as actually leaving the EU) which they don’t want.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      You should know that the UK civil service now apes its superiors in the EU Commission by regarding itself as the government.

      TBF The Civil Service has long had this attitude. It was two civil servants, Jean Monet and Arthur Salter who created what is now the EU.

  25. Dominic
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    What fiscal and social impact will Labour’s open borders policy have on the people of this nation?

    Will this destructive Labour policy designed to bolster Labour’s electoral voting base lead to increases in crime, terrorism and connected with this a rise in further authoritarian legislation to target those who express concerns about those committing acts of terror?

    We are being led down a road that ends with the total abolition of our freedoms. I can see it and I can sense the direction of travel.

    John, and your party is partly responsible. Not you personally, but your party’s leaders since 1990 have led us along with Labour to this point in which decent people feel wary about expressing their opinions. This is shameful

    Taxpayers are being asked to finance their own subjugation

  26. Alec
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “promote growth and prosperity”. Code for more money printing and debt. I know where this growth and prosperity will be heading. To all the usual suspects, banks, shareholders and insiders of every stripe.
    Government never, ever actually promotes either, it merely steals it from one sector and gives to another.
    There is only one way to promote long term prosperity and that is sound money. The problem is that government as it currently exists cannot live in a sound money economy.

  27. alastair harris
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I think you made this point but it is worth repeating, over and over. Once we are free of the EU we are able to make policy decisions that are relevant to us. If we take a more global view, that is our choice. I don’t think many people realise the extent to which government policy is dictated by the EU.

    • glen cullen
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      sooner the better……if only the tory party had the bottle

  28. hefner
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Just for fun, I had a look at a text published in August 2007 part of The Economic Policy Competitiveness Review ‘Freeing Britain to Compete: Equipping the UK for Globalisation’. One needs not read the 211 pages, only the four pages of Foreword to get a flavour of the whole document. I was more interested in p.38-50. One can wonder whether this has been of any relevance in the last nine years of Conservative governments. Not much I would say. Will it be more so with the next CUP government? I would hope so but I doubt it.

    Reply On the contrary. Those pages highlight the need for more STEM graduates an£ better education and training generally. More money is being raised by universities and STEM numbers are rising as proposed in our document.

    • hefner
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      I agree that is what those pages highlight(ed). Can you seriously say that the governments since 2010 have really provided more money to universities (outside the tuition fees). STEM students are indeed on the rise. However out of 2.3m students, about 1.6m are studying for a first degree, less than 300,000 of these 1.6m are on STEM topics, a bit more than 30% of them non-UK students (EU or non-EU students) according to 2016-17 numbers. So given a typical three year study program for a BSc degree, that’s roughly 70,000 new STEM UK graduates per year coming to ‘the market’. The question is: is that enough? In the original document, it was said that 2.4m were needed in science and engineering over 10 years, about 240,000/year. So, where are the 170,000 missing supposed to come from?

  29. Fred H
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Prosperity is a joke for most in UK 2019. Until lower incomes can be raised and the threshold for taxes reduced, hundreds of thousands if not millions of families are ‘barely managing’ about the only thing ‘she’ got right.

    My guess is virtually everyone on this site is comfortably off at a minimum, not true for vast numbers of our population.

    • Fred H
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      in case of misunderstanding, I mean the tax free level should be increased.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The Tories are only vulnerable on this issue because of their failure to impress on the public that Labour totally wrecked the government’s finances. Which abject and hugely damaging propaganda failure started when George Osborne was the shadow Chancellor. I commented about this again and again to no avail, and I don’t suppose that it will make any difference now, but here is a small sample of those comments just on this blog.

    From June 2009:

    “Now when the government spends four pounds, it has to borrow one of them – “lend us a quid, mate” – ; it’s borrowing close to a billion pounds every working day just to keep going – “lend us a billion, mate”- ; and it’s blindingly obvious that this can’t continue indefinitely.

    And it can only borrow on this stupendous scale because the Bank of England is creating new money and using it to buy previously issued gilts from private investors, at the same time as the Treasury is selling new gilts to (in many cases, the same) private investors.”

    From November 2011:

    “I think that much of the population still hasn’t fully absorbed the precariousness of the government’s financial position, and that’s because it still hasn’t been implanted in their minds in simple terms which everyone can readily understand.

    Daniel Hannan had a go on Question Time last week:

    “Out of every four pounds that the government is spending, one of them is being borrowed … we just can’t afford to carry on with this”

    For which he got a small scattering of applause.

    That’s the simple message which should have been driven home again and again throughout 2009 and early 2010 and finally during the general election campaign, when instead the public debates sidestepped the sheer magnitude of the problem and focused on relatively small “cuts” which one party or another might or might not make.

    That communication failure has meant that the government is still having to constantly explain why it must take unwelcome actions, even if they don’t amount to actual “cuts” in overall public spending.

    As I understand it’s now closer to one pound borrowed for every five pounds spent, rather than for every four pounds spent, but obviously we can’t carry on with that either.”

    From April 2015:

    “As far as the electoral implications are concerned, the problem for both of the coalition parties, but most especially the Tories, is that many voters are not prepared to give them much credit for the recovery and some have even been convinced that they, and not the Labour party, were most to blame for the recession.

    Which perversion of the truth can, in my view, be traced right back to 2009 and the failure of the Tory party to properly explain the sheer magnitude of the economic and financial problems created by Labour, which they were able to disguise by getting the Bank of England to print £200 billion to ensure that they did not have to make drastic cuts in public spending in the year leading up to the last general election.

    I note in this context speculative reports that in Greece, where there is real “austerity” and the government is constantly on the edge of running out of money, euros, to pay its bills, it may soon start paying public sector workers partly with its own IOUs … This is what we have been able to avoid in the UK because we did not join the euro and so the government has been able to indirectly borrow £375 billion of our usual, familiar, national currency, pounds sterling newly created by the Bank of England, when there was the possibility that normal gilts investors would decline to lend the Treasury any more of the existing money that they had in their possession, but six years on since QE was started and it seems that even now few voters have fully understood this.”

  31. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Electricity demand 1800 hrs yesterday 42 gigawatts. Wind and solar providing 3 gigawatts or 7%. A long way from the 53% claimed by the government.

    • Fred H
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      not a lot of solar at 1800!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Not that much at midday at this time of year!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and it was quite windy!

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Ian wragg. Yes and now we have the Un telling us we have to abandon mining. Have they all gone mad? I can’t see this going down well with Trump.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      You have correctly identified the extreme spikiness of electricity demand.

      That is precisely why the European Union is very sensibly reducing the power of high-consumption devices designed to be operated during those times, notably such as kettles.

      It really doesn’t matter to me whether it takes three minutes to boil or one, but if generalised, then that could reduce the required idling – and wasteful – capacity enormously.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 1, 2019 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        If you take 15 minutes to dry your hair with a 1000 watt hairdryer then you will take 30 minutes to dry your hair with a 500 watt hairdryer.
        It is basic physics.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted December 2, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          Yes, and the European Union is not going to limit hairdryer power to five hundred watts.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 2, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

            They have plans to restrict wattage of various electrical items.
            The same example I used works for floor cleaners and kettles.
            It saves no electrical consumption because you have to run them fir longer to complete the given task.

      • NickC
        Posted December 2, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Martin, Rubbish. That shows the EU has as little understanding as you. Your supposed “spikiness” of demand does not occur because kettles take 1 minute to boil now, compared to 3 minutes in your EUtopia. That minor spread would simply cause more kettle boiling demand to overlap.

        But if you look at Gridwatch, you will see that on a daily basis demand is not “spiky” at all. Demand rises steadily from approximately 30GW during the night to about 45GW during the day, and back again. As you would expect where work takes place in daylight hours.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Off topic, I note that Boris Johnson has renewed the standard government vow that Britain “will not be cowed, divided or intimidated” by terrorist attacks:

    but I also note that this expression of defiance does not square with the claim made by David Lidington during a recent interview with the Sunday Times, that:

    “… it was the threat of terrorism that put Theresa May off a no-deal Brexit”.

    • eeyore
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Denis – thanks for reminding us of that disgraceful statement. Have we ever sunk lower?

    • Mark B
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Britain “will not be cowed, divided or intimidated” by terrorist attacks

      Easy for him to say behind tall gates as surrounded by armed guards.

  33. Derek Henry
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Not If you are going to continue to act as if we are still on the Euro after we have left.

    Brexit will be a disaster.

    Stop just looking at the liability side of the balance sheet when you talk about the national debt. Talk about the asset side. The asset side is everyone’s savings.

    So can we start with destroying the savings of every person who wants to reduce the national debt first please.

    Leave my pension, isa and fixed rate bond alone please.

    All those people who have money invested with NS&I are going to be disappointed.

    • Derek Henry
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Or have you found a new way of reducing the national debt without hurting savers?

    • NickC
      Posted December 2, 2019 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Derek H, There are 196 states on the planet; 28 are in the EU, 3 are aligned to the EU’s SM (via the EEA Agreement). So 165 are not directly governed by the EU. Not one of those 165 states is a “disaster” because it is not a part of the EU. There is thus no reason to suppose that when we become the 166th that we will face disaster because of Brexit. Try again.

      • Derek Henry
        Posted December 2, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I agree no deal is by far the superior choice.

        Most run bigger deficits and Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of 250% because they like to save. Sky did not fall in or ground open up.

        Like I said if we continue to pretend we are on the Euro ( fiscal conservatism) then yes it will be a disaster for us.

  34. Fred H
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Today we have received our 8th different large full-page colour election pamphlet for P.Lee.

    Delivered by hand – – has the money finally run out – no more Royal Mail?

    However – on the subject of prosperity the Printers: Park Communications, Alpine Way, London E6 6LA must be doing ok. Anybody bought shares before all this started?

    • hefner
      Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Ooops, apart from the fact that Park Communications is not a company on the LSE. But anyway that’s another beautiful b……. comment. Keep on the good work.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 2, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        Why is it relevant that this company are not listed on the London stock exchange?

        • hefner
          Posted December 3, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Please tell me how the public could buy shares in that company if it is not listed on any of the markets of the London Stock Exchange.

          • Fred H
            Posted December 3, 2019 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

            you are now labouring a perfectly good point. However, my point about printing companies doing nicely out of Libnodemocrats remains true.

          • hefner
            Posted December 4, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            Am I labouring? Yes indeed I am but not with you Fred H, but because as you say Ed2 felt entitled to wrongly comment on a perfectly good point.

  35. Iain Gill
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Well the freelancer/contractor message boards are full of messages of doom. the hiring market has dried up. IR35 being enforced making it uneconomic to take on a freelancer versus someone working for a consultancy or outsourcer.

    Sure its partly the election, partly Christmas run down, partly out of control immigration, partly Brexit risk fears.

    There are some obvious announcements the Conservatives could make that would lead to them winning a landslide, and I just cannot see why they dont make them. Presumably the people at the top of the Conservative party would rather risk a Corbyn government.

    As it is a lot of people are going to sit on their hands on election day.

    I also note in the Guardian a lot of NHS treatments are going to be stopped altogether in England, like hemorrhoid ops already have been, but announcement has been delayed until after election. Really the quack science being used to justify this is ridiculous.

    Conservatives as the only half way decent party capable of forming a majority government should pull their fingers out.

    Themes should be 1 hand more power to individuals (in school choice, healthcare choice, social housing) 2 lower tax 3 reduce immigration, especially in roles where skills are already in oversupply 4 tax foreign workers as much as locals 5 radical fix to the bias in our regulators (financial ombudsman service top of list please), bring them all together, and put in place proper complaints process like there is against police officers 6 stop the anti car driver nonsense, lift the policies of the association of british drivers 7 reform political candidate selection processes, so that a lot more normal people get selected next time

    is it so hard?

  36. Iain Gill
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I would also say that re the feedback to the Conservative party I have given on this site, people saying exactly the same thing on twitter get massive support from among others the people representing the major trades unions. Come on Conservatives listen!

  37. RichardM
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Wokingham hustings still going ahead I read despite your absence. Like Johnson, your frit of proper public scrutiny.

    Reply No, I am all for a hustings with all candidates and will be undertaking such a debate of Radio Berkshire. Half the other candidates refused the five way I was happy to hold.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 3, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Do we need the OBR? It duplicates a Treasury function and its staff profile is similar to that of the Treasury and it (surprise, surprise) agrees with the Treasury’s post-Brexit forecast. Where is the added value?

    I don’t give a toss what Madame Lagarde and the ECB are doing in the Eurozone. The whole point of leaving is that we don’t have to be like them.

  • 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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