What do people want? More views from the doorsteps.

It is fashionable to say people want politicians to listen more, to understand their frustrations, to give voice to their anger with the system. Out on the doorsteps it is not always easy to listen, as many people still say “I haven’t made up my mind” as a prelude to making it clear they do not wish to talk about government and the election. Others say they will vote in a given way and also have no wish to discuss it. Some voters are busy when you call and what they are doing matters more to them than your visit. Some feel at a disadvantage, as they are not thinking all the time about the state of the government in the way their visitor is.

However, there are also a lot of people who are prepared to spend some time telling us what is on their mind. Sometimes it is very local: a series of complaints about local planning, rubbish collection, noisy neighbours, poor local roads, high Council taxes or anti social behaviour, matters requiring a local Councillor or policeman to sort out. Sometimes it is a single issue – someone feels passionately about a free vote issue like fox hunting or religious freedom of expression. More often than not it is something that relates directly to that person’s work or family circumstance.

I have come across various public sector workers who understandably want to know if their section of the public sector could be in line for cuts. I have come across more private sector workers who want to know just how much more tax they might have to pay to get us out of the deficit. Many want to know the details of the various tax plans of the main parties, as they seek to work out who is offering them the best deal. Some voters are concerned about the bit of the public sector they use – the local school or hospital – and about the amount of tax they are having to pay. There is no necessary contradiction as Labour always says in these two views: it is reasonable to want more money for the local school and less waste elsewhere. People want good local public services, but they do not wish to see a further squeeze on their take home pay, which sustains most of the things that matter in their lifestyles – their home, food and basic services.

If you put it atogether there is no one coherent programme or set of changes which would make everyone happy. The electorate is very divided about what to do, and has a myriad of preoccupations. That is why the main political parties are finding it so difficult. In the rest of their lives people are used to making lots of very specific choices. The market economy has moved on, and many more people have money or access to finance to give them more choice. Making a single choice once every five years and having to accept the whole package comes hard after the subtle distinctions the market allows.

One voter may like the Lib Dems on cancelling Trident but not on more European integration and the asylum amnesty. Another may like the Conservatives lower National Insurance and Euroscepticism but not their overseas aid pledge. One voter may want to pull out of the EU altogether but not see a way to be able to do so. One voter may wish to see more money taken in tax to pay for more public service and be unsure which party will do that without any cuts in things they like. How does a climate change sceptic vote? How should an animal rights voter express their view? It is now complicated and difficult for people to get what they want.

Under the current system most will decide in the end which party offers them most of what they want with fewest downsides. They will see that the main choice is Brown or Cameron as Prime Minsiter. Some will decide to vote for candidates who cannot win to show how storngly they feel about a specific issue – green policy, or Europe or English nationalism. Unfortunately for them if they get the usual poor result it reinforces the message to the main party leaderships that these are not mainstream causes or forces.

We need to strengthen our democracy, by giving Parliament more teeth to hold government to account, and by giving people more chance to express their views and join in the national debate. We need more things to be decided outside government and politics, so people can vote with their feet and make their own choices on services. The world of web is opening up ever broader horizons, allowing consumers more choice and better prices, and allowing people more say on the issues that matter to them. The political establishment has to find a way of adapting to these forces. At the moment the poltiical system as a whole serves up three styles of Table d’hote when people want to dine a la carte. If government did less that would help. If MPs were more independent that might help. If government was more afraid of Parliament and had to take it more seriously that would improve things a bit. Big government doing too much with a weak Parliament and Ministers not in control is a recipe for voter frustration.

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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37 Comments

  1. Norman
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Agree with everything you write above, let's hope for positive changes in the next Parliament to restore confidence in politicians.

    Only slight issue I'd take now is the line that it's a choice between Brown and Cameron. With Nick Clegg saying in the Telegraph that he won't servce under Brown (and I read an article in the Guardian saying that Labour must get rid of Brown to have any hope of forming a coalition) the PM is a dead man walking. Unless Labour can suddenly get a 10% swing in their favour there's no way he'll be next PM.

    I think the line Ken Clarke has taken warning of the dangers of a hung parliament is a good thing as the behaviour of this government, particularly the last 2 years, acting more or less as a dictatorship stifling all debate and simply churning out reams of tractor production stats has put a lot of people off the idea of 5 more years of the same.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Clegg is …. well it will never get past moderation, but just saying you won't prop up Brown is very different from saying no "Lib-Lab" pact, imagine a Clegg/Harman duumvirate (!) and that's assuming we believe Clegg. My bet is we would see a Clegg/Satan pact if it meant PR.

      • Norman
        Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        I realise the chances are that if there is a hung parliament any government able to form will be Lib/Lab. The main thrust of the Conservatives election campaign up to now seems to have been 'We can't afford 5 more years of Gordon Brown'. Most assuredly we will not now get that. Clegg's statement that he wouldn't serve with Brown was rather clever – by removing him from the equation not only has he distanced himself from Brown, he has also reassured people that a vote for him isn't a proxy vote for Brown as well as taking the wind out of the Conservatives policy of attacking Brown.

        I would have liked to have seen a lot more attacks on Labour's record but no one has mentioned the debt mountain in any detail, it's like the Fawlty Towers sketch 'I think I may have mentioned the debt mountain but nobody noticed'.

        • Stuart Fairney
          Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:31 am | Permalink

          The tory "campaign" has been the worst in my memory, amounting to ineffectual wish-lists, smiling a lot and saying we are not Brown. The nation is crying out for something, anything an thus the awful Clegg whose policies are a nonsense (and ones frankly never really intended for implementation) looks like he may form a pact with Labour. Then again if you don't have a tory leader, you can hardly have a tory manifesto.

          The one thing Cameron could now do to out-flank clegg would be to say "No Lib-Con pact" thus a Liberal vote becomes a Labour vote by default.

          I'm still not entirely convinced we are about to vote Lib-Dem in any numbers, but then I didn't think anyone was fooled by Blair's nonsense!

    • waramess
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Ken Clarke has, in my opinion, just gone too far in telling the UK electorate to snap out of it.

      Nothing good can come of it and the electorate have a way of dealng with this sort of nonsense.

      I would expect the Clarke gaff to have won even more support for Clegg as the electorate give their response indeed, maybe Clarke, single handedly, will ensure there will be no hung parliament and Vince Cable will be left to sort out the mess

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    If government did less that would help. If MPs were more independent that might help. Agreed.

    Do we trust the Tories to reduce the scope of Government? Well, assuming the EU permits it, there is a greater chance than with Labour or Lib-Dem. Not going to hold my breath, though.

    Will Tory MPs be more independant? Not if my constituancy promotion-hungry example is representitive of the species.

    So, do I want to vote Tory more than I want to vote against the encumbent MP? No, not yet. But nor do I really want any of the alternatives being offered.

    If the electorate are going to have any real power, we need a "none of the above" vote. If this won the highest vote within a constituancy, the PPC with the next highest number of votes would be returned. However, he or she would not be permitted to vote at partition, or hold any Party or ministerial office. They would be restricted to constituancy dutes only. If they wanted to re-run a local election (in the hope of increasing their vote), they could do so at any time at their own expense. That would return real power to the people!

  3. alan jutson
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The confusion of choice you mention, is because politicians have become too involved in simply everything that we do.

    Decades ago the choice was more simple, because politicians were only involved in strategic manipulation, not the smaller day to day decisions and law making.

    The Police used commonsense when either giving a caution (on the spot, not at the station) arresting and prosecuting under more simple laws.

    Judges used commonsense within broad guidelines when giving a sentence.

    School Headmasters used to run schools with a commonsense approach to discipline.

    Teachers used to teach the basics well, before attempting higher and more complex subjects to their pupils.

    Pupils used to learn, not be taught and coached simply how to pass exams.

    Hospitals were run by Matrons who stood no truck from anyone, they did the rounds each day inspecting everything and everyone and did not need to full in forms.

    Doctors used to treat illness and schedule patients for operations on the basis of simple clinical need.

    Now everything you do has had a political influence, and no one Party is ever going to please everyone, hence the choice you have to make is on the balance of who do you think will be best for me and the Country.

    Modern day politicians want the power to micro manage everyone and everything, they seem to want us all to become clones of their way of thinking.

    Sorry John, but Politicians have made life far more complicated than it need be, and as such have made the decision of who to vote for more complicated at the same time.

    • Javelin
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I agree with you when you say

      "Decades ago the choice was more simple, because politicians were only involved in strategic manipulation"

      Back in the days of the cold war it was quite simple are you left-wing or right-wing. Today its much harder to pick the parties on sum of their policies. You agree with some policies and disagree with others. It's about netting not summing. To put it another way political parties today are less than the sum of their policies.

      What this means to me is that Government should focus more on being effective not on being Political (with a capital P). By that I mean the concept of the Political spectrum was partly an illusion that has become multi-dimensional and has blurred the idea that parties relative position can be condensed into a single decision at the ballot box. It should not be about inputs into the Government, in terms of tax (which is a concept from the old spectral politics) but it should be about delivery and effectiveness of benefits.

  4. waramess
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Perhaps if one gets too close it is hard to see the wood from the trees.

    The electorate have been treated with contempt for too long and they resent it. No point talking to politicians because they talk at you. Politicians have their point of view and if you don't like it, tough.

    Not just sentiments about the socialists but about the Conservatives also. The former have made it clear over the past decade that it is their agenda that matters and not ours. The latter have shown complete contempt towards their core supporters in the move to pink politics.

    Not surprising then, now an election is near and our votes are sought that the electorate might wish a plague on both their houses.

    The swing to Clegg is perhaps no great surprise and, should he be successful we will see both the Conservatives and the Socialists seeking the wood through the trees for many years to come

  5. Freeborn John
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    JR: "Unfortunately for them if they get the usual poor result it reinforces the message to the main party leaderships that these are not mainstream causes or forces."

    Au contraire. The likelyhood remains that Cameron will be waking up two weeks tomorrow to the realisation that he has failed to win this election by a margin less than the number who voted UKIP.

    The reality is that when people vote for a single issue party under FPTP in numbers large enough to change the result of a tight election it proves that the environment (Greens) or Europe (Ukip) are causes of sufficient force to keep someone like Cameron who ignores them out of office.

  6. THE ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks for including our long posting yesterday in the continued absence from the scene of our Essex boy colleagues.

    As stated yesterday we are repeating below their blog of 2nd March with the Manifesto pledges THEY proposed – all more relevant and punchy we contend than those that were included and all true to conservative values as well as attractive to new potential Tory supporters.
    Perhaps not too late still to hone one or two of them and include in what's still to come in the campaign?

    The reappearance of Ken Clarke yesterday added expertise, believability and oomph to matters and perhaps it's not too late to add Redwood and even Rifkind to reinforce the message that the Conservatives are far from a 1 or 2-man team and have genuine long experience and great expertise within the ranks.

    And the more we think about our phrase of yesterday describing the Lib-Dems as 'The Faries at the Bottom of the Garden' the clearer we recall how effective it was in 1990's Australia in being used to describe the 3rd party, the Democrats, in halting their progress.
    We advocate adding it to the Tory lexicon here this time round.

    That previous blog is below. Good luck all!

    **************************************************
    THE ESSEX BOYSon 02 Mar 2010 at 6:27 am

    Subject: REVISE YOUR MANIFESTO AS FOLLOWS MR CAMERON…

    6 PROMISES FOR THE CONSERVATIVE MANIFESTO THAT WILL GIVE A SOUND WORKING MAJORITY – and Britain a fighting chance!

    We blogged on John Redwood's site yesterday with our disappointed reactions after attending the Brighton Spring Conference.
    Our fear – not only for the Conservatives but for Britain's future well-being – is that the likely Tory manifesto will be a damp squib. It must be strengthened and delivered in direct language that the man and woman-in-the-street will readily understand and support. The economic outlook is dire and getting worse by the day. Time is running out.

    Our close colleagues at ESSEX VOTERS VOICE have researched many topics face to face with hundreds of voters in the past 18 months. We have written here and informed Conservative HQ and MPs to no avail so far.
    The following confident proposals are made with the benefit of dozens of group discussions with regular voters and non- or would-be voters of different political persuasions.

    1. UK INCOME & COSTS WILL BE BALANCED WITHIN 5 YEARS.

    2. WASTED GOVERNMENT COSTS WILL BE HALVED WITHIN 3 YEARS

    3. IMMIGRATION WILL BE REDUCED BY 75% FOR EACH OF THE NEXT 5 YEARS

    4. A REFERENDUM ON CONTINUED UK MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU WILL BE HELD AT THE START OF A 2nd TERM CONSERVATIVE TERM

    5. ALL STATE SCHOOLS WILL BE MODELLED ON SUCCESSFUL INDEPENDENT AND GRAMMAR SCHOOLS.
    NEW GRAMMAR AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS WILL BE OPENED IN AREAS WHERE THE PUBLIC WANTS THEM.

    6. NATIONAL COMMUNITY SERVICE – ORGANISED COUNTY BY COUNTY – WILL BE INTRODUCED FOR JOBSEEKERS OF ALL AGES TO GIVE EVERYBODY THE RIGHT AND RESPONSIBILITY TO WORK WITHOUT STATE BENEFITS.

    Notes on these 6 MANIFESTO GUARANTEES:

    1. The Shadow Treasury team must stop shadow boxing and say that whatever the Treasury's books reveal the core promise stands. There must be a FREEZE of ALL public expenditure for the next 2 years irrespective of inflation.

    2. We must promise a 30% reduction in the number of MPs from approx 650 to approx 450 by the next General Election as well as a 50% cut in Quango costs within 3 years.

    3. Net migration will be held at 50,000 for 5 years until Britain can again absorb more immigrants. Genuine asylum seeking emergencies will be treated as additional.

    4. The new Conservative government will negotiate to the best of its ability the return sovereignty and a reduction in wasted contributions to the EU. In the following general election manifesto they will recommend a yes or no vote based on the success of the negotiations.

    5. The ethos and discipline already sensibly and strongly promised by Michael Gove will be taken further in a return to the successful education structure of the post-war era. Local referendums will be the basis for deciding when and where to create new Grammar and Technical schools.

    6. County Service will provide training and ongoing jobs in military, environmental and care services. Unemployment benefits will be replaced by salaries at a slightly higher level with defined promotional opportunities. Retrenched and redeployed public servants will be given administrative posts or employment in the new organisation.
    A 1-year pilot operation will be followed by national implementation within 3 years.

    The Manifesto will be introduced in simple, direct and voter-friendly language on Day 1 of the calling of the General Election. To reinforce the message of national urgency the summer Parliamentary recess will be reduced to 2 weeks only.

    ************************************************

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Essex Girls

      Perhaps you could add to your list David Davis who also seems to have been sidelined in this campaign.

      On a similar note. John I have just had delivered your Election Communication with the headline.

      LOCAL MAN, NATIONAL VOICE.

      This is a very simple and very clear message, but sums up exactly your experience, and at the same time exposes the novice ability, of all of your competitors who are standing against you.

      Did you think of it yourself, or did Conservative HQ propose it ?

      Think I can guess the answer.

      Reply: I thought of it myself, would you believe. As I often remind people Conservative HQ does not write anything for this site nor does it censor it.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        John.
        Thanks for the reply.

        My guess was correct then.

        Your message is simple, to the point, accurate, understandable, and puts the opposition on the back foot.

        Perhaps DC and GO should ask you to write the headlines for the Party, as well as give them some advice from time-time.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      The trouble with your view of the world is that you just can't see how non-mainstream it is. You sound like Simon Heffer – you seem to genuinely think that if you were promise to re-introduce Fox Hunting, re-establish Grammar Schools, introduce National Service, cut the Welfare State in half etc – that there is an army of people out there just waiting for a political party to give them a voice.

      I have to tell you, there isn't. Whether you are right or wrong is academic, a party which moved Right would be lucky to get 10% of the vote. Which is why over the last 50 years the Conservative party has slowly changed from the 'party of privilege' to something more centrist.

      Cameron has done a reasonably good job of getting rid of the 'moat' and 'duck house' stigma which makes the Tories such an easy target. His problem, and that of the party generally, is an inability to communicate. Great communicator he may be, but he and his team have not laid a glove on Brown's economic record.

      When you think what Brown has done, led us into a housing boom/bust / banking crisis / recession (just like the Tories in the late 80s/90s (substitute ERM debacle for Banking Crisis) – and has lumbered us with a debt of £1.4 million, million – which will take 50 YEARS to pay back if every taxpayer pays an EXTRA THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR IN TAX TO PAY BACK THE DEBT – which will be paid by our children and grandchildren – has created an education system where children with 9 good GCSE passes are barely literate and numerate … when you think of his record, he should be WIPED OUT at this election.

      But, amazingly, the Tories have not laid a glove on him. That's the true failure – and harping on about Grammar schools is completely irrelevant at this stage.

      Grammar schools – like Inheritance Tax (WHY wasn't that dropped – swipe after swipe after swipe from Labour ministers – you might as well have painted a bullseye on your backs) – are such an easy target for charges of elitism.

      When will you ever realise that?

      • THE ESSEX GIRLS
        Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Hi Mike

        The real issue behind GRAMMAR SCHOOLS – and don’t forget our Technical Schools/Colleges – is not a swing to the right but to provide
        (a) Real social mobility to give the underclass kid, not the posh one necessarily, a real chance in life
        (b) The choice for which most parents of all ‘classes’ would opt.

        NATIONAL (or county level) SERVICE is not a return to the square-bashing of the 50’s but would embrace other forms of service to the community/welfare and the environment as well as training for the disciplinary services such as military and police.
        It is to provide meaningful employment to less academic or skilled young people who would otherwise have none.
        In that sense we’re not looking to halve the welfare state as you suggest but to realign it away from non-jobs, nannying and useless regulation and quangoism.
        As for foxhunting where did you get that one from !

        Throw off the blinkers Mike and pick up on the good things from our past and latch onto our main slogan of:
        VOTE CONSERVATIVE and help us CUT THE NONSENSE.
        * Debt * Waste * Immigration * Red tape * Blunders & Lies
        THE CONSERVATIVES
        Common Sense & Competence

        This would appeal to voters far more than the stuff we’ve heard from Cameron and team to date.
        However we entirely agree with you on the limp attack on Brown’s dire economic record.

  7. lola
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    For everyone then voting is essentially choosing the least worst option.? Good. That's how it is in everything we do. Should I buy a bottle of Scotch today or save that money so I can buy one tomorrow, or when I no longer have a wage? Carswell and Hannan's 'The Plan' gives us the starter outline of a vision where the citizen is best able to make all these least worst choices on everything. If that were universally recognised, along with the limitations of the Government, we'd all vote for the party that promised, as far as possible, to go right away and leave us well alone.

    I received a Mises institute email today with a link to an excellent article that neatly condemns all that New labour have been doing, and why, and I think reinforces my comment. You can read it here:
    http://mises.org/daily/4252

  8. DerekDuncan
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I'm pleased to say that no one comes canvassing on my doorstep.

    But if they did I'd talk about a family facing bankruptcy – which immediately does everything possible to become solvent again. I'd ask why a country should be any different and say that I shall vote for the Conservatives who seem to be the only party who want to do something at once to get us out of this awful mess.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      The mess has been caused by the massive consumer borrowing to drive house prices up. None of the major parties will address the fact that our younger generation is being screwed over in many ways.

      They will pay our pensions.
      They will have massive mortgages to buy houses we bought for half the price (inflation adjusted)
      They will pay back the 1.4 million, million borrowed by the government largely to maintain house prices
      They will struggle to ever have enough money to save for their own pensions because they will be paying back the money we borrowed.

      All 3 political parties have their heads in the sand, which is a great position because, on behalf of my children and all the other young people in this country, I'd like to give them all a kick up the behind.

  9. Neil Craig
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    That is a good post. Once most views fitted fairly well into a left/right pattern & 2 1/2 parties did cover most people fairly well, though even then I would argue that FPTP was undemocratic & damaging. The conclusion is obvious.

    One off the wall thought for an electoral system – Get rid of all constituencies & anybody who can get 30,000 voters nationwide to nominate them becomes an MP. OK it cuts the constituency link but everybody is represented. I don't insist this is a feasible idea but we should certainly be putting some serious thought into our long term constitutional requirements.

  10. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, you said; "We need to strengthen our democracy …"

    If Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberals each get 30% of the vote (allowing 10% for others), in very rough numbers, Labour and the Conservatives would have something like 275 seats in Parliament and the Liberals would have 100.

    It appears that one vote for Conservative or Labour is worth about 2.5 votes for the Liberals.

    I struggle to see how this is 'democratic'. Not withstanding arguments about 'strong government' – if people want 'strong government' let them vote for it, but on a level playing field.

    If the Liberal Democrats poll 30% of the vote would you agree they should have about 30% of the seats in Parliament?

    If not, can you explain why one conservative vote is worth 2.5 Liberal Democrat votes?

    Reply: You need to have votes in the right places – a Labour vote has been "worth" much more than a Conservative vote in the last 3 elections.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      So you accept that everyone's vote should count equally?

      Then you accept PR.

  11. no one
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Re "people want to dine a la carte" yes how true

    The current simplistic version of democracy doesnt really cater for the complex society we live in

    The press do not represent the public well either

    The country would also be better served by a better cross section of society in parliament than currently gets in

    It would be good to have more independant thinkers in parliament too, without them needing to be independantly wealthy to take that line

  12. Mike Wilson
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Cameron and his team really need to raise their game. If you fail to win this election without an outright majority, the party may well fall apart. There is only so long a party can remain a political nonentity.

    Forget the Big Society (good idea that it is) – start slagging Brown off for the mess he's made of the economy.

    That Brown thinks the economy is his strong point, that he is looking forward to next week's debate, shows how the Tories have completely failed to hold him to account for the mess we're in.

    I've often been driven to wonder if you actually want power at the moment – or do you want Brown to stay in power to take responsibility for what is coming.

    Because, what is coming is

    Government spending slashed
    Interest rates up
    Taxes up

    Double dip recession if we're lucky, depression if we're not.

    I forecast the government we elect in 2 weeks time won't last two years.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    "We need to strengthen our democracy, by giving Parliament more teeth to hold government to account ……………."

    For starters, it might help to take back powers from Brussels to Westminster so that there was more for Parliament to get its teeth into.

    Secondly, if back benchers are yellow, no amount of more powers will give them courage. Let me give some examples of back bencher courage.

    Once Norman Lamont was forced out of the Treasury, he became a leading backbench Eurosceptic. During a debate on a Labour no confidence motion, he asked an important question about Europe, first asking John Major and then Douglas Hurd. In both cases, the question was not answered and there was a sneering and supercillious reply. So Norman went into the Labour lobby on a no confidence motion. Moral: if your front bench treats you badly and takes you for granted, stick the boot in.

    Go back to the time when Wilson and Crossman, with Heath's connaivance, were trying to force through a thoroughly nasty and undemocratic 'reform' of the House of Lords. Enoch Powell and Michael Foot organised a filibuster; because the Bill was so loathed, the government dared not impose a time table. The Bill was thus talked out. Harold Wilson announced withdrawal of the legislation, whereupon Enoch bellowed across the floor of the House "Eat them more slowly." Heath's summary of the unholy alliance was funnier than he intended: "We have been defeated by an alliance of a man who wants to abolish the House of Lords and a man who wants to restore it to the way it was in the fourteenth century". Moral: look for alliances wherever you may find them.

    Go back even further to 1972, the year when the original European Communities Bill had its second reading. Get out Hansard and look at the extent of the rebellion of Enoch Powell and others – the number of amendments offered, the number of divisions forced, and the number of times they voted against their own front bench. They only failed because the number of Labour MPs prepared to support the Bill was double the number of Conservative opponents. Moral: Don't let the b_____ds get you down and never, ever give up.

    We don't need to give our Parliament more teeth. Back benchers must create their own opportunities and power.

    Reply: I agree – and Ministers have to be ready to resign, as I did over the Euro and taxes in 1995

  14. JimF
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Went to a meeting of our local candidates last evening, for them to answer business questions; the LibDem man (MP) was away for a tete-a-tete with Jack Straw…. ???, Green chap was very sensible but said nothing about being Green, his personal policies were more UKIP (?), Labour/Con candidates were kind of Milliband/Cameron-ette reading from the script.
    Completely muddled. If I wasn't voting UKIP, I wouldn't know for whom or what I was voting.

  15. Cliff.
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Just received your latest "Election Communication" through the post and, as is normally the case, a very sensible, commonsense message contained therein.
    Flooding is indeed a problem with in the district and I too question why we are still building on low lying land and flood plains.

    What has struck me at this time, is actually the lack of party workers, from all parties, out knocking on doors. I have not had one representitive knock on my door yet although I have received flyers from most of the candidates standing.
    I may be one of the few people that actuall welcome all party reps to my door and will engage in debate….I want to talk about the EUSSR, Common Purpose and why WBC are a client of that organisation, I want to talk about the real elephant in the room regarding welfare, which used to be a hobby horse of yours, namely young single parents with no means of supporting themselves nor their off-spring and yet still choose to have more children. I would also like to talk about the result of allowing the previously mentioned group to carry on their chosen lifestyle producing kids and the problems of anti social behaviour that it appears to lead to.

    Finally John, just for my information and to some extent related to one of yesterday's threads, did you have to have the "Election Communication" that came through my door today, approved by Conservative Central Office, as was reported in some national newspapers recently?

    Reply: The leaflet you describe is probably Number Two – the first had more national content and the second has more local content. The campaign is not yet over, so watch this space. The website has daily national content. I did not take the Conservative party package which included national copy for local leaflets, but as always wrote my own material.I have been out every evening save Sunday canvassing as have members of my campaign team.

    • Cliff
      Posted April 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi John,

      Thanks for the reply….I nwasn't having a go at you regarding the lack of door knockers, I know the Wokigham constituency is a huge geographical area…..Usually Mr Green knocks on my door, although as I understand it, he has retired and won't be spending so much time on political business…..I was merely pointing out that no party has knocked on my door so far, although all have had leaflets put through. I just wonder how effective the other party's leaflets were given that many seemed to come with the rainforest of flyers for Indian takeaways, Chinese takeaways, pizzas and clothing collections that I receive most days of the week, most of which end up in the recycling.

      I am glad you did not take the approved package from CCO, as I feel local issues are what matter locally and solid communications highlighting such matters may well change minds. People know what the national issues are from the wall to wall coverage on the TV; I just hope people don't get political overload from the constant coverage and loose interest as a result.

      Incidently, my very elderly parents live in Binfield and they were somewhat taken aback by being moved into the Windsor constituency from the Bracknell Forest constituency where they had been previously…. It struck me that all the areas that changed to Windsor (Winkfield, Warfield, Binfield etc) are fairly affluent and more likely to be Conservative voters compared to what areas will remain within Bracknell Forest…..As I understand it, Bracknell is the only new town that has always remained Conservative, do you think this latest move is an attempt to change that?

      Reply: No – the Boundary Commission starts in the west for Berkshire and slices the population to meet target numbers.

  16. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Our local Police force in North Cambs is rapidly growing so ridiculous that people have begun to take the law into their own hands. Today, for example, I met a local man who confronted a group of teenagers who were destroying an empty house. He confronted them and swore at them. They had done £3,000 of damage.
    The Police? when they turned up upbraided him for swearing and let the yobbos off scot free.
    Incidentally, they had threatened to burn down his house.
    And this is government?

  17. Robert K, Oxford
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    The logical conclusion is that the way to enhance democracy is to reduce the range of activities in which the state is involved. The free market is the ultimate democracy because every issue is voted upon in real time, with the structure and operation of any given market being the summation of all the myriad decisions taken within it. This leaves only one set of policy choices: cut taxes, cut public sector spending and banish the state's ability to print or borrow money (which is simply deferred taxation in disguise). No political party is even close to explaining why a truly free market that respects property and personal rights is the most moral form of social organisation. That is at least one explanation for the widespread public disillusionment in the political process.

  18. Alan
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, you said; "We need to strengthen our democracy …"

    If Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberals each get 30% of the vote (allowing 10% for others), in very rough numbers, Labour and the Conservatives would have something like 275 seats in Parliament and the Liberals would have 100.

    It appears that one vote for Conservative or Labour is worth about 2.5 votes for the Liberals.

    I struggle to see how this is 'democratic'. Not withstanding arguments about 'strong government' – if people want 'strong government' let them vote for it, but on a level playing field.

    If the Liberal Democrats poll 30% of the vote would you agree they should have about 30% of the seats in Parliament?

    If not, can you explain why one conservative vote is worth 2.5 Liberal Democrat votes?

    Reply: You need to have votes in the right places – a Labour vote has been "worth" much more than a Conservative vote in the last 3 elections.

  19. Joseph
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    Hi Mike

    The real issue behind GRAMMAR SCHOOLS – and don’t forget our Technical Schools/Colleges – is not a swing to the right but to provide
    (a) Real social mobility to give the underclass kid, not the posh one necessarily, a real chance in life
    (b) The choice for which most parents of all ‘classes’ would opt.

    NATIONAL (or county level) SERVICE is not a return to the square-bashing of the 50’s but would embrace other forms of service to the community/welfare and the environment as well as training for the disciplinary services such as military and police.
    It is to provide meaningful employment to less academic or skilled young people who would otherwise have none.
    In that sense we’re not looking to halve the welfare state as you suggest but to realign it away from non-jobs, nannying and useless regulation and quangoism.
    As for foxhunting where did you get that one from !

    Throw off the blinkers Mike and pick up on the good things from our past and latch onto our main slogan of:
    VOTE CONSERVATIVE and help us CUT THE NONSENSE.
    * Debt * Waste * Immigration * Red tape * Blunders & Lies
    THE CONSERVATIVES
    Common Sense & Competence

    This would appeal to voters far more than the stuff we’ve heard from Cameron and team to date.
    However we entirely agree with you on the limp attack on Brown’s dire economic record.

  20. David
    Posted April 26, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The mess has been caused by the massive consumer borrowing to drive house prices up. None of the major parties will address the fact that our younger generation is being screwed over in many ways.

    They will pay our pensions.
    They will have massive mortgages to buy houses we bought for half the price (inflation adjusted)
    They will pay back the 1.4 million, million borrowed by the government largely to maintain house prices
    They will struggle to ever have enough money to save for their own pensions because they will be paying back the money we borrowed.

    All 3 political parties have their heads in the sand, which is a great position because, on behalf of my children and all the other young people in this country, I'd like to give them all a kick up the behind.

  21. William
    Posted April 27, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The logical conclusion is that the way to enhance democracy is to reduce the range of activities in which the state is involved. The free market is the ultimate democracy because every issue is voted upon in real time, with the structure and operation of any given market being the summation of all the myriad decisions taken within it. This leaves only one set of policy choices: cut taxes, cut public sector spending and banish the state's ability to print or borrow money (which is simply deferred taxation in disguise). No political party is even close to explaining why a truly free market that respects property and personal rights is the most moral form of social organisation. That is at least one explanation for the widespread public disillusionment in the political process.

  22. Christopher
    Posted April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mike

    The real issue behind GRAMMAR SCHOOLS – and don’t forget our Technical Schools/Colleges – is not a swing to the right but to provide
    (a) Real social mobility to give the underclass kid, not the posh one necessarily, a real chance in life
    (b) The choice for which most parents of all ‘classes’ would opt.

    NATIONAL (or county level) SERVICE is not a return to the square-bashing of the 50’s but would embrace other forms of service to the community/welfare and the environment as well as training for the disciplinary services such as military and police.
    It is to provide meaningful employment to less academic or skilled young people who would otherwise have none.
    In that sense we’re not looking to halve the welfare state as you suggest but to realign it away from non-jobs, nannying and useless regulation and quangoism.
    As for foxhunting where did you get that one from !

    Throw off the blinkers Mike and pick up on the good things from our past and latch onto our main slogan of:
    VOTE CONSERVATIVE and help us CUT THE NONSENSE.
    * Debt * Waste * Immigration * Red tape * Blunders & Lies
    THE CONSERVATIVES
    Common Sense & Competence

    This would appeal to voters far more than the stuff we’ve heard from Cameron and team to date.
    However we entirely agree with you on the limp attack on Brown’s dire economic record.

  23. Tony
    Posted April 28, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    John,

    Just received your latest "Election Communication" through the post and, as is normally the case, a very sensible, commonsense message contained therein.
    Flooding is indeed a problem with in the district and I too question why we are still building on low lying land and flood plains.

    What has struck me at this time, is actually the lack of party workers, from all parties, out knocking on doors. I have not had one representitive knock on my door yet although I have received flyers from most of the candidates standing.
    I may be one of the few people that actuall welcome all party reps to my door and will engage in debate….I want to talk about the EUSSR, Common Purpose and why WBC are a client of that organisation, I want to talk about the real elephant in the room regarding welfare, which used to be a hobby horse of yours, namely young single parents with no means of supporting themselves nor their off-spring and yet still choose to have more children. I would also like to talk about the result of allowing the previously mentioned group to carry on their chosen lifestyle producing kids and the problems of anti social behaviour that it appears to lead to.

    Finally John, just for my information and to some extent related to one of yesterday's threads, did you have to have the "Election Communication" that came through my door today, approved by Conservative Central Office, as was reported in some national newspapers recently?

    Reply: The leaflet you describe is probably Number Two – the first had more national content and the second has more local content. The campaign is not yet over, so watch this space. The website has daily national content. I did not take the Conservative party package which included national copy for local leaflets, but as always wrote my own material.I have been out every evening save Sunday canvassing as have members of my campaign team.

  24. Tony
    Posted April 28, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    The mess has been caused by the massive consumer borrowing to drive house prices up. None of the major parties will address the fact that our younger generation is being screwed over in many ways.

    They will pay our pensions.
    They will have massive mortgages to buy houses we bought for half the price (inflation adjusted)
    They will pay back the 1.4 million, million borrowed by the government largely to maintain house prices
    They will struggle to ever have enough money to save for their own pensions because they will be paying back the money we borrowed.

    All 3 political parties have their heads in the sand, which is a great position because, on behalf of my children and all the other young people in this country, I'd like to give them all a kick up the behind.

  25. WP Themes
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Amiable post and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.

  • 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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