Labour’s rubbish policy sums up what went wrong for them – and us

It should have been no surprise that Labour was thumped badly in the local elections. People have been fed up for months. They are fed up with high taxes, high fuel prices, high food bills, high Council tax, and with the surveillance society that Labour buys with all the money. They are fed up with a government that preaches a message of fear – be afraid of terrorism and lose your liberties for “security”, be afraid of the state’s Inspectors, be afraid of the law. You are not paranoid – they are out to get you.
Do not be a householder, a motorist, a successful business person under this government – for you will pay for these crimes.

The canvass returns in Wokingham indicated to us we would have our best result since the 1980s. The mood on the streets of London was positive for change. It beggared belief that the Prime Minister decided to have an argument with his backbenchers about putting up Income Tax on the lower paid just in time for the local elections – that did quite a bit of the Opposition’s job for it, ramming home the message that the government is after your money at exactly the time you are being squeezed by high prices and low wage increases.

There were local issues at stake as well. The two biggest were tax and rubbish. In many places voters decided they would get their least bad deal on Council Tax by keeping or voting in a Conservative Council.

In many places people also wanted to express their disgust at Labour’s refuse policy. Only this Labour government (with a bit of help from its friends, the European Commission), could think up such an unpopular mixture of policies towards recycling and bin emptying. They have produced the trebly toxic package of

1. Fortnightly collection instead of weekly or more frequently
2. Spy cameras on bins coupled with the Enforcement officers to fine you for the wrong kind of rubbish
3. The threat of an additional Bin Tax

It contains all the ingredients that characterise this Labour government:

1. Worse public service
2. Ignoring public opinion – the public would like more regular collections at sensible cost
3. Surveillance of our every move – at our expense
4. A mood of fear ,as the media tell us how the government is not only watching us but will be prosecuting us if we make a mistake with what we put in the bin
5. Higher tax – to pay for all the surveillance, the compliance, and the spin doctoring to terrorise us in our own homes.

Labour’s rubbish policy is indeed a cameo of the all that this government does to us, and that so many people now hate about it.

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  1. Deborah
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately my local Conservative council is also intent on introducing alternate weekly collections.
    Why are they blindly following this rubbish policy?

  2. Donitz
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    With a general distaste for Local Government I was pleasantly suprised when I moved to South Shropshire from London two years ago and relocated my development company here. The local Conservative District Council undertake an excellent recycling/refuse service which should be emulated throughout the country.

    Unlike the Socialist/Marxist local Councils in parts of London that I have dealt with in the past, if I have a problem with a Council service and contact the local Council the following takes place:

    SSDC responds within a day and action is subsequently taken.
    By contrast Haringey Planning Dept took 7 months to respond on a planning matter and Lambeth Highways Dept completely ignore correspondence concerning property/access disputes.

    SSDC employ staff that are able to speak the Queens English.

  3. Letters From A Tory
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Labour's rubbish policy is about as rubbish as the Labour Party as a whole. A toast to the good times for the Conservatives!

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    An excellent, concise example of the underlying malevolence of this Labour government. With so many councils now under Conservative control can we be assured that refuse will be collected weekly and all the other unnecessary and objectionable intrusions into people's lives will be swept away? Will a future Conservative government pledge to repeal those activities which emanated from central government and offer hope to the British people that they will be allowed to live their lives without the continual threat from a tyrannical government machine?

    Reply: It is Conservative national policy to keep weekly collections, but of course each local Council can make its own decision. Wokingham Conservatives campaigned to keep the weekly collection.

  5. John of Enfield
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    It is vital that we bring out these fundamental issues as you have done in this "blog".

    The state exists to server us not the other way round.

    We have basic freedoms, best set out almost a thousand years ago in the Magna Carta. New Labour always seems far too willing to trade these for the benefit of bureaucracy, whether it be for rubbish collection, anti-terrorism, welfare benefit adminstration, TV License collection or the spread of CCTV.

  6. Tim Almond
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Permalink


    Would you care to explain what you'd do instead about refuse?

    Reply: Not impose a bin tax, not spy on people, keep weekly collections, manage refuse contracts to raise standards and reduce costs.

  7. David Hannah
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Doborah asks why her local Conservative council are "blindly following this rubbish policy". It's quite simple: we no longer govern ourselves. The EU's Landfill Directive is the culprit. Britain has been given a target to meet, and failure to meet these targets will result in huge fines from Brussels. To help obey our master's voice, our Provincial Government in Westminster levies a Landfill Tax (at £24 per ton, and set to increase annually) on waste disposal, with the aim of reducing landfill use, and more importantly, those EU fines.

    In other words, our real government (the one we did not elect and cannot un-elect) extorts money from our local councils on the pain of even greater extortion. This cost is being passed onto taxpayers in the form of higher council tax bills to pay for elaborate recycling schemes to reduce general landfill waste. It doesn't really matter that the contents of your "recycle bin" are shipped off to China to be incinerated; we avoid the fines, so it’s OK.

    Thus, it matters not who you voted for in the local elections yesterday, nor who you will vote for at the next Westminster election. Our real government will remain the same, and it is well-insulated from the ballot box. What’s more; they’ll continue to allow local politicians and MPs to take the rap for their decisions; just the way they like it!

    We cannot begin to address the problem until we understand the very nature of our new form of government. Perhaps our host can tell us whether a future Conservative administration will scrap the Landfill tax, and ignore the resultant fines from Brussels?

  8. Richard Clarke
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Your observations are outstanding and absolutely spot on. You have summed up NuLab in 5 simple bullet points.

    As you know, though, Councils are forced into this rubbish collection nonsense because we are signed up to EU legislation to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill or face massive fines.

    Nobody in Britain voted for that – it was imposed by our real government in Brussels. A bunch of sleazy, corrupt, third rate anonymous nonentities. No wonder they prefer to avoid the ballot box and impose their will by diktat!

    The only solution is withdrawal from the EU and repatriation of power from Brussels to Westminster.

    You can count the MPs in favour of that on the fingers of one hand.

    The entire British political and civil service establishment are pro-EU

    Therefore we may as well all emigrate.

  9. Tim Almond
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 5:08 pm | Permalink


    How do you intend to do that when the government is bound by the Landfill Directive? Renegotiate our treaties?

    Reply: Yes

  10. mikestallard
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    With regard to the weekly collection of bins:


    of 26 April 1999

    on the landfill of waste


    This is not Labour's fault. It is entirely the fault of the EU. A Conservative Government would have acted in exactly the same way.

    The big difference locally, however, is that the Conservative Council will regularly and, on demand too, collect illegal fly tipping in the drainage dykes within the week, the binmen are polite and very efficient, and, finally, we get three wheelie bins and local glass collection services as well as a super tip with nice officials.

  11. Confused
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Why does 'the State', in all its manifestations, local and national, seem hell-bent on treating me as 'the enemy'?

    I am genuinely curious.

    I see a mass of poorly conceived legislation which creates scores of new criminal offences; the stripping away of traditional civil liberties; the overt politicisation of the police; the bullying behaviour of intrusive and aggressive officialdom; the almost constant surveillance; the prospect of having to carry and provide ID cards.

    Is it simply the (perhaps all too convenient) threat of terrorism?

  12. Tim Almond
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Excellent. When can we expect this from the Conservatives?

  13. R.Rowan
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    well said Mr Redwood I hope Mr Cameron see's it the same way.

  14. Simon
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Our Tory council (Medway) has just purchased a Smart Car with video cameras mounted on the roof (same as the ones Livingstone uses for spying on us in London). It is used for dishing out parking tickets and has been pictured in the local paper parked on double yellow lines while the occupants issue tickets. The point being that all local councils have got this sort of Stasi mentality, spying and penalising and generally being unpleasant. Perhaps someone senior in the Conservative Party could have a word in the appropriate ear. I thought David Cameron and the Tories were against this sort of Gestapo type behaviour.

  15. Jonathan Robson
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    “Unfortunately my local Conservative council is also intent on introducing alternate weekly collections.
    Why are they blindly following this rubbish policy?”

    Correct me if I’m wrong – but don’t local councils have to enforce the diktats imposed on them from central government (and Brussels)?

  16. James Stephenson
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The Tories under Cameron (the heir to Blair) are virtually indistinguishable from New Lab. Until they put forward solid policies that will reverse Labour's damage….

    And previous commenters are correct – party politics are meaningless in the face of the power-crazy Hitlers in the in Brussels who are set upon 'dismantling the old borders' to usher in a Super State by the back door. Anyone who will take us out of the European Integration will get mmy vote. Anyone who will take control of our borders will get my vote.

  17. James Stephenson
    Posted May 3, 2008 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    The Tories under Cameron (the heir to Blair) are virtually indistinguishable from New Lab. Until they put forward solid policies that will reverse Labour's damage….

    And previous commenters are correct – party politics are meaningless in the face of the power-crazy Hitlers in Brussels who are set upon 'dismantling the old borders' to usher in a Super State by the back door. Anyone who will take us out of the European Integration will get my vote. Anyone who will take control of our borders will get my vote.

  18. Pete
    Posted May 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    'The Tories under Cameron (the heir to Blair) are virtually indistinguishable from New Lab. Until they put forward solid policies that will reverse Labour’s damage….'

    Why put forward policies now and let Labour nick them? (ie copy them very badly.)

    Surely a broad brush is what's needed until much nearer the next General Election, then we can show what we're made of.

    In the meantime let the councils show how Conservatives can improve things locally and give the electorate even more of a taste for change.

  19. Drew Belobaba
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Dear. Mr. Redwood,

    You are correct to note that the Labour's rubbish policy is inspired by rules set by the European Union. So, if by chance the Conservatives form the government in Westminster after the next general election, what will they do to restore weekly bin collections? Will they negotiate an exemption from the EU's Landfill Directive? Will they renegotiate our terms of membership with the EU. Or will they come up with new excuses for why these unpopular polices must be shoved down the throats of the public?

    I note that Tory-controlled County Councils such as Surrey's and East Sussex's are rushing through the construction of unpopular waste incinerators in order to meet the requirement's of the Landfill Directive.

    It is fine to criticize Labour for implementing these polices, but how will a Tory government meet the recycling targets set out in the Landfill Directive?

    Reply: I want this to be part of the renegotiation we will need. We await the Manifesto.

  20. Steven Whitfield
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    In the 1970's Denis Healey pledged to 'tax the rich until the pips squeek'. Thirty years later a tax hungry Gordon Brown tried to do the same to the poor. Labour have always believed that all money belongs to them to be redistrubted as it sees fit.
    This belief is ofcourse, fundamentally wrong and always leads to the self destruction of labour governments.

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    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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