The two Michaels, George and Boris

John Major’s premiership was dogged by endless rumours of a leadership challenge. The media often told the story of the two Michaels. There was to be a great clash between Michael Heseltine and Michael Portillo for the crown. Whilst they both enjoyed tenure in the cabinet, their followers and supporters must have briefed about the coming contest. Little was done to silence these unhelpful comments. I remember MPs coming to see me to suggest I might run in such a ballot. I told them if they were true friends of mine they would not allow or encourage any such speculation. All the time I remained in the cabinet I felt I had to be loyal to the Prime Minister and seek to stop any unhelpful briefings about his position. As a result the press continued to talk about a contest of the 2 Michaels, ignoring me.

Of course, we now know there was no leadership contest between the two Michaels. Neither ran when John Major resigned and asked for a contest in 1995. Michael Heseltine cast aside his ambition to lead the party on the general defeat in 1997. Michael Portillo lost his seat and so was unable to contest the 1997 leadership election. He subsequently lost the 2005 leadership contest. The pundits had spilt loads of ink over a war which never happened.

When I turned up at party conference this autumn I was astonished to be asked by the BBC to cast a vote for either Boris Johnson or George Osborne to be the next leader of the Conservative party. They had placed large ballot boxes in the entrance area. I explained that there is currently no vacancy, and such speculation cannot be helpful. I did not cast a vote.

My advice to the friends of the two is to stop that kind of distracting media speculation. I doubt very much that there will be a leadership contest one day between Mr Osborne and Mr Johnson. Mr Johnson, after all, is not even an MP and intends to run to be Mayor again. This job does not allow him to be an MP and Leader of the Conservative party as well. By the time Mr Cameron does move on there may be plenty of new talents around who have not yet appeared as leadership material.

Meanwhile Mr Johnson needs to reassure his voters in the suburbs that he understands their wishes. They want lower Council taxes and better transport, including freer flowing less congested roads with good realistically priced parking.

Hammersmith and Fulham have shown what can be done. The Conservatives since taking over cut the Council Tax every year, from £916.97 in 2006 to £811.78 in 2010-11. They kept it the same this year owing to the system of government grants which rewarded a standstill, but aim to cut it again to £783 next year. At the same time they have brought the Council debt down from £169 million to £78 million, and improved services. That should be a model to other Councils and the Mayor.

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  1. StevenL
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    It might help councils to reduce tax and spend if central government reduced regulation and policy. Before everyone hits ‘reply’ and blames the EU, might I be permitted to make a list of council regulation the EU has no jurisdiction over?

    Housing of multiple occupancy licensing
    Alcohol licensing
    Smoking bans/smoking cessation stuff
    5 a day/salt reduction/obesity initiatives
    ‘Sustainability’ lecturing (fairtrade status/global warming propaganda etc)

    Was life really that bad without these things? Yet I see Boris is toying with the idea of making a non-EU imposed London wide register of accredited landlords and Mr Cameron is sticking with the fags under the counter laws (again not an EU directive) and is seriously considering minimum drinks prices.

    Maybe the PM should send someone down my way. I can show them the evidence room full of fake and bootlegged white spirits we’ve seized from off licenses – the result of criminals making arbitrage on alcohol duty – which we can’t tip down the sink because of environmental protection laws.

    Perhaps Boris, George or Mr C can suggest what we can do with it, because we’re seriously stumped and we’ll no doubt need the space for all the fake Olympics stuff we’re being lobbied to seize next year?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      You say “It might help councils to reduce tax and spend if central government reduced regulation and policy.” Indeed also if they could hire and fire staff more freely (without paying everyone off each time) it would help too.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I’d agree, but without new primary legislation to this effect, defaulting on long-standing contractual commitments would be unlawful.

        New accounting standards would also help. At the moment they seem to list their spending as ‘Children’s Services’, ‘Adult Social Care’, ‘Parks and Recreation’ etc.

        If they had to do it more transparently – i.e. ‘Rent/Lease’, ‘Salaries’, ‘Electricity’ etc. and with detailed annotations – then it would be easier for people to see where their money is going.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          Indeed the deliberate fog of accounting rules and tricks has very much to answer for.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        What about the use of contract staff and short term contracts as well as agencies. This allows hiring and firing to happen.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          It does not let you get rid of useless people you have and need to let go.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      As far as I’m aware, you’re right that the EU hasn’t yet told Cameron that he must stick the fags under the counter.

      This is more a case where UK ministers are showing that despite standing aside from the euro they’re still good little Europeans, and are keen to take a lead in developing possible EU legislation.

      Last year there was a “Public consultation on the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC”:

      and apparently lots of people right across the EU have views on whether my local shop should be compelled to stick the fags under the counter.

      I’m just concerned that the Croatians might feel left out because apparently they weren’t asked for their opinion, and of course when we have loads of young Croatians in the town they too will deserve to be protected from the temptation created by displays of cigarettes.

      More correctly the response of the UK government would have been to remind the EU about the principle of “subsidiarity”, and to suggest that it might be applied in this case, there being a first time for everything.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        That’s the directive that prescribes maximum nicotine/tar levels and the form and content of the warnings. It is the UN (through the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) that is pushing for the more draconian measures.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          But the consultation on possible revisions to the Directive:




          “The UK has announced that it will prohibit the display of tobacco products in large shops from October 2011 and from all other places from October 2013 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Finland it will be prohibited to display tobacco in points of sale as from the beginning of 2012. A similar ban has been announced by Ireland.”

          And Option 3c for change was:

          “Promotions and displays in retail stores would be banned in all Member States.”

          Much of this has indeed originated from the UN, which is why similar measures are being proposed and implemented in other non-EU countries around the world, but in our case it is Brussels which is being used as the conduit for such proposals.

          • StevenL
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            It’s amazing isn’t, the unemployed bits of the EU kicking off descending into civil unrest, and they want to hide their fags from them.

            I can’t get my head around it.

    • Kenneth
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I would also add to your list the cost Freedom of Information requests and the chilling effect they have on council policy and operations.

    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps Boris, George or Mr C can suggest what we can do with it, because we’re seriously stumped

      You could always flog it off cheap!

      • StevenL
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        If I wanted to turn to crime I’d probably start by changing my name and moving to Marbella, not stealing moonshine from the evidence room.

    • zorro
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I certainly do not miss the smell of stale cigarettes in pubs….(one bit of legislation which has made life more bearable when going out).


      • dan
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        …until someone farts

  2. lifelogic
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Had the useless Major (with Heseltine) not ousted Mrs Thatcher Labour would perhaps have won and then received all the blame for the (Major’s) ERM fiasco and the Tory party would not have been buried by Major for 3/4 elections so far.

    Hammersmith and Fulham, in taking council tax from £916.97 in 2006 to £811.78 in 2010-11 have done well but there is far more fat to be cut everywhere. Were this done, across the whole of the state sector, we might finally start to get somewhere. Thus allowing UK industry to finally compete again on a world stage and grow a little.

    Alas we have Cameron, Clegg, Osbourne the green religion and the EU so it won’t happen.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      I see that the, usually very unreliable and over complex, condensing boilers (forced on to the public by government/EU laws) seem to freeze up at the condensation pipe, whenever a slight frost comes (i.e. when most needed). They can save a tiny amount of gas perhaps typically £50 PA but it is usually more than out weighed by the extra cost of the boiler, the fuel used by the engineers in fitting and repairing and the much lower reliability and greater complexity of the units.

      So it saves no net fuel on balance (it uses more), costs more and achieved nothing but extra profits for the gas industry. Please can these lunatic Huhne type of “fake greens” let people make their own decisions (and get rid of the absurd & pointless energy certificates too).

      • Bazman
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Condensing boilers have come a long way in the last 20 years and are in general reliable. The icing up can happen if the drainage pipe is not installed correctly and the steam produced can be a problem. If we had this attitude to technology everyone would be still driving around in ‘reliable’ Model T Fords.My boiler is non condensing, but had it been fitted later would have to have been condensing which in short, because of the siting needed, because of the steam, would have been a worse and more expensive job. So life logic does have a point about the legislation.

        • zorro
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          That’s right, Bazman, I had British Gas around about ten times (well worth the contract) practically refitting my boiler two years ago. It had been poorly fitted, but they then added that with constant regulation even a boiler recently fitted may no longer pass their exacting standards (flues/positioning etc.)…..Hold on, did you just agree with lifelogic (it must be your New Year resolution!).


        • lifelogic
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          Indeed you save perhaps £50 a year in gas and pay £250 PA in extra maintenance and boiler capital costs plus all the hassle of extra breakdowns.

        • cosmic
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

          People bought and then switched from Model T Fords because they were sold on the benefits of better products, not because the government interfered and made Model Ts illegal.

          The advice I had on condensing gas boilers from a friend who worked in IT and is now a gas fitter, was to keep my boiler going as long as possible and not be deceived by the notional benefits or grants. He said the condensing boilers don’t last much longer than 6 or 7 years. There are also problems with the acidity of the condensate interfering with sewage works.

          All in all there are solid reasons for not jumping aboard the condensing boiler bandwagon and I resent being coralled onto it eventually.

          • alan jutson
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink


            Your advice to keep your old boiler going is correct.

            Ours at 31 years is still going strong, two friends of ours who had condensing boilers installed 7 years ago, have now had to have those replaced recently, as they both terminally failed.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            This is just pants. A modern boiler and heating system is far cheaper to run than an old boiler which can be less than 40% efficient. Even taking into account servicing costs and replacement of the boiler at the end of it’s life. You are kidding yourselves.
            Legislation made cars as safe as they are today. The car companies in the past where tot negligent of any safety features. They fought every step of the way against any at first. Though political meddling did often slow down their introduction. Unsafe At Any Speed being a famous book on this and right wing stupidity.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            Modern condensing boilers now use non corrosive materials and are often more reliable than non condensing. It’s like the argument of driving a simple Ford Cortina or a modern Ford Mondeo. I found the Cortina to be much more expensive to run and far more unreliable. Driving both in the same decade. Rose coloured specs. “Come back Ford Cortina. All is forgiven!” some would say.” Not by me I would reply.”
            Maybe you could extent your argument to fridge/freezers? Thought not. Boilers are like fridge freezers not like the previous the cast iron hulks with burners. Get dewy eyed about a coal fire and all the work that involves instead. Hire an East European to tend it and tell them how lucky they are to get free heat with their six quid an hour!

          • lifelogic
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            You might save 10% (or even 20% at best) on fuel but more fuel will be wasted in fitting and repairing them keep the old one going as long as you can. They make little economic sense.

          • cosmic
            Posted December 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

            Cortina vs Mondeo depends on the miles a year you do and your circumstances. if you do a low mileage, there’s little point shelling out for a Mondeo if you have a serviceable Cortina. Furthermore you can service the Cortina yourself and a Mondeo needs garage facilities even for an oil change.

            As for fridges, they last typically 15 years, 20 if you’re lucky. They come to a point where they are beyond economic repair, lining breaking, thermostat failed. If you throw out a good 7 year old fridge because of small energy savings, then viewing the big picture of your fridge ownership over years, you introduce unnecessary extra costs, financial and environmental, of transporting and disposing of the old fridge and manufacture, and transport (probably from Turkey) of the new fridge to offset against minor energy and emissions savings.

            It is by no means clear that because that on the surface, something involves energy savings and seems more efficient, it therefore does involve energy savings viewed end to end, and it’s a good idea to scrap a usable item and buy it.

            Some people are far too easily taken in by advertising and government campaigns.

          • lifelogic
            Posted January 1, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            Cosmic – it is not just government adverts that take people in, the new unreliable boilers are forced onto people by law. Even if they are for a building only used in summer or very rarely. Legislation to make us all poorer for no benefit.

      • StevenL
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink

        The Energy Performance Certificate regime is EU I’m afraid. There’s even a new regime of on-the-spot fines, payable to the local authority, for estate agents that fail to disclose them as per the regulations stipulate.

        You can see it all coming together with ‘the Green Deal’ (to be launched April if I remember correctly) whereby traders who sign up to be a part of it will be able to search a database of your EPC’s.

        If they can offer you an energy saving measure that can be financed at equal to or under the annual saving recommended on your EPC, you will be able to have the work done and the repayments added to your properties domestic fuel bill.

        The really interesting bit is that if the price of carbon permits is high enough – and the energy companies/other traders are savvy enough to realise – they will be able to move the bar on what work can be financed significantly – by generating carbon permits under the Kyoto-compliant ‘Joint Implementation’ scheme.

        i.e. A utilities multinational claims a tradeable permit in France for reducing your households CO2 emissions in the UK.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      An interesting take on history, lifelogic.

      The “ERM fiasco” was born under Mrs. Thatcher, very much against her better judgement and in the face of what she judged to be a tide of opinion she no longer had the support to withstand.

      I have never come across anything to suggest that Major was an “ouster”. Heseltine, Clark and Hurd more likely. When there became a vacancy for the leadership John Major was supported as the “stop Heseltine” candidate, and the ERM folly became the fiasco under his premiership. It is some what ironic that what might have been a little fiasco became so much bigger as Heseltine was one of the those pressurising Major not to allow the UK to leave the ERM, even though the writing had been on the wall in BIG BOLD LETTERS for some time.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Major was chancellor when he took is in to the ERM and was Prime minister when we were kicked out, after all the repossessed houses and bankrupted businesses it pointlessly caused. He never even had the decency to apologise as I recall.

        Also he may have been the “stop Heseltine” candidate but he was, in all respects, a Heseltine in all but name – but with rather less intelligence. He clearly must have deceived many on the right to get himself elected.

        • zorro
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          I always find the rise of John Major most intriguing….He held some of the main offices of state (Chancellor, Foreign Secretary) for very short time periods, and then became Prime Minister. I’m struggling to think of recent Prime Ministers who held all those positions. (Churchill was Chancellor, Home Secretary and PM).

          Yet, he left school with three ‘O’ levels, and then went to night school, a couple of lowly jobs and then went into banking. Looking back, it’s amazing that he got where he did.

          I suppose I’m just echoing what John mentioned, that you sometimes couldn’t even guess where the next leader of a party might come from. They just creep up on you.


          • lifelogic
            Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            The O levels (GCSEs for those under 50) were clearly the best judge of ability.

    • StevenL
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      I was 12 during the ERM crisis. What I remember was the adults around me cursing the 15% interest rates. The tories won’t make that mistake again, they’ll try to keep them at 0.5% forever now.

      • zorro
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        It was really difficult when we were paying really high mortgage rates in 1990 – 92. Things got a lot easier after leaving the ERM, but it was clear to anyone after that the Tories would lose the next election…..except Michael Heseltine who I remember predicting on election night in 1997 that the Tories would have a ‘rising 60’ seat majority…..Ridiculous


  3. Disaffected
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I am afraid Cameron the damage was done on 23rd October when Cameron acted against his word and made a three line whip to prevent the public having a say on whether the Uk should be in Europe. His temporary respite will not last, he has been found out to be a PR man- hot air and no substance. Ambitious Tories will already be on the scent to get rid of him. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Two years in office and no improvement in any policy area from the previous Labour wasters. More spending and taxation, more integration with the EU, no sign of repatriation or renegotiation of powers, mass immigration continues, numbers higher than under Labour, Defence of the country deteriorates, soft on crime Clark will let matters get worse as crime increases over the next year. Corruption and sleaze in politics continues without any substantive changes- right to recall sneaked out by Clegg while the Euro debate featured highly in the press. All in all a bad period of office for the Tories and Cameron should pay the price of incompetence as its leader (the word leader could not really be associated with Cameron).

    • uanime5
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      You forgot rising unemployment and sluggish growth.

      • Disaffected
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        That was already in the pipe line set by Labour. LibDems need to wake up Clegg will be considering his future before the party interest over the next two years.

  4. James
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I remember Boris promising to fix the traffic lights and reinstate the tidal flow in the Blackwall Tunnel. Neither have happened. Instead we got a 25% increase in the congestion charge, a ludicrous “Low Emissions Zone” which will penalise business again, particularly small businesses. Add to that the bikes at £6k a throw of our money and the stupid blue lanes which cause even more congestion and I don’t think the commuters from outer London will be fooled again.

    Boris is just another tax hungry politician who thinks he knows better how to spend our money than we do. I find him extremely annoying, calling for tax cuts at national level while he increases the congestion charge by 25%, calling for a referendum etc and other meaningless soundbites, playing to the gallery in its worst possible form whilst taxing and interfering just like Labour.

    • PayDirt
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      On the subject of Boris J Mayor of London, and as dropdead day of 3rd January 2012 is fast approaching: Boris has failed miserably to resist the draconian and quite unEnglish clamour for new wide-ranging powers, under the guise of emission controls, to stop van drivers turning off the M25 heading into London.
      3Jan2012, the day the Sheriff of Nottingham aka Boris Johnson stops van drivers plying their trades in his fiefdom, Greater London (aka inside the M25). In my case it is now against the law for me to drive ½ mile to my local stores to pick up supplies, I must travel 15+ miles out of town thereby producing a lot more of the dread particulates. My van is deemed to “fail” an emissions test (although no such test has been carried out) and 1000’s other vehicles, even the same model van registered on a slightly later date, apparently “pass” the “test”. So Boris, the pretender to the Conservative Party is stopping businesses carrying out their once lawful trade. How Kafkaesque, in this once fair land called England. An Emissions Zone will be appearing in towns throughout the land in due course no doubt, complete with networks of roadside cameras to apprehend the outlaws as they drive in their suburban neighbourhoods. Next up your vehicle, over a certain age, £100 to drive down your own street?

      • Martyn
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Paydirt – I had no idea that it had got that far this side of the channel. Yet another EU directive quietly put in place without consultation, let alone consideration for the public. I can understand the point of low emission zones – improved air quality in traffic-riddled cities for example – but this is another infuriating example of how those who govern us seem content to rubber-stamp through EU legislation with far-reaching consequences without making it properly known to the citizens. We shall be blamed for this – we will be told “the signs have been up for 2-3 years now, it is not our fault you know nothing about it – ignorance of the Law is no excuse”.
        If we follow the continental model, very soon anyone wishing to enter a low emissions zone will have to buy a windscreen sticker, whose price will vary with the age and rating of the their vehicle. Naturally, it will be cheap to start with and then become yet another super-green money earning tax that can be raised any time when more money is needed.

    • Martyn
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      ‘Low Emissions Zones’ are an EU directive. So far as I know the UK has not yet got as far as charging HGV etc for entering the zones, but it does happen in some parts of Europe, notably I understand, in Germany.
      There is guidance to car travellers on the www saying how to get a windscreen stcker so as to enter, say, Munich without gaining a penalty charge inside the posted low emissions zones. Nothing seen or heard about that in the UK of course prior to their introduction….

      • PayDirt
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Check out the only vehicles NOT affected are cars and motorcycles. £100 per day for all vans, motorhomes, 4×4 pickups etc, from NEXT WEEK, unless you pay £2500+ to get a special filter and take it to a lorry-testing station every year, or your vehicle is less than a few years old. This is a fantastic imposition to place on drivers all around London.

        • Martyn
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

          Paydirt – thanks. Mind-boggling! I looked at the link and see that Breakdown and recovery vehicles, Gritters, Refuse collection vehicles, Road sweepers, Fire engines, Removals lorries and the catch-all Other specialist vehicles (e.g. ambulances!) whose drivers opt to pay daily will be £200 per day worse off.
          And I stupidly thought that it would be cheap to start with!

    • Bazman
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      He is a card though and the middle classes love him and his japes. If you are a posh woman who is lost in London with no cash. Phone his office and you might be sent a taxi…

      • zorro
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        taxi to where…?


  5. john w
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    John,my lib dem council would need to reduce council tax by £400 to match hamersmith and fulham.I dont like the BBC playing devils advocate,i prefer them to report the news rather than create it.If their news was as good as their wildlife shows,we would have nothing to moan about.

  6. Robert K
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It should also be the model for the government. Simples!

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    What prompted you to resign your cabinet position and stand against Major in the 1995 Conservative Party leadership election which he called and ultimately won on the first ballot?
    As for Osborne and Johnson, I agree they have important jobs to do and all their attention should be directed to making a success of them. Success can bring its own rewards.

    Reply: I disagreed with a wide range of policies, but the two final issues that I could not live with were the refusal to rule out joining the Euro and the decision to raise taxes rather than reduce spending. I had been arguing the case from within for a long time. When Mr Major told us it was time to put up or shut up, I preferred to put up. What else could I do in such a circumstance, as he seemed to be saying he did not want constructive criticism and sensible new proposals from within.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      To the reply:

      You were quite right but why on earth did the party not support you and your sensible policies. The only answer is that the party was mainly socialist, had no principals & thought that it had more chance of another 5 years of “expenses”, pension entitlement and wages with the John Major and his idiotic policies.

    • APL
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      JR: “I had been arguing the case from within for a long time ..”

      Oh gosh! Sooner or later I hope Mr Redwood, the light will flicker on.

      Reply: Yes indeed it does – I won arguments as well as losing them from within. Sometimes I could just do what I thought was right, a luxury not afforded to those without office.

      • zorro
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes, John Major had a special endearing phrase for those who tended to argue cases with him too often….


  8. English Pensioner
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    According to the media and the pundits, any candidate for high office has to have “Charisma”, be good looking, good in debate and probably needs a good looking wife.
    Personally I would prefer someone who has done a real job, is over about 50 years old, is well qualified academically (preferably in Science or Engineering) and “puts his brain into gear before opening his mouth” to use a reasonably polite expression.
    Historically, some of our best prime ministers of the past can hardly be considered to have had charisma or be good looking, companies don’t pick their chief executives by their looks, so why do we insist on choosing our prime minister on that basis?

    And as regards to Hammersmith and Fulham cutting Council Tax, this of course depends to some extent on how wasteful the council had been previously under the previous regime, which is why I fail to understand why our government hasn’t managed more cuts as the previous Labour administration was our wasting money left, right and centre!

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      I want a good sense of direction in a leader first and foremost.

      Anyway are you suggesting John Major and Gordon Brown had “Charisma”?

  9. Major Loophole
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    “That should be a model to other Councils and the Mayor. ”

    Indeed, but many are reluctant to introduce and implement ‘best practice’ methods demonstrated by others, partly because doing so shows up the status quo for what it too often is (sub-optimal) and partly because of the ubiquitous ‘not invented here’ syndrome whereby most, if not all, ‘departments’—including those of central government—tend to disregard anything which might be a good idea unless it’s been originated internally.

    The only answer to this is less overall government—particularly of the petty interference type: ‘a man with a hammer sees a world full of nails’. Over-regulation may of itself be a linear process in that the totality of control arrives incrementally. But I would argue that the effect it has on people is exponential: that is to say that a 10% increase in the regulation of lives has a greater than 10% effect on those lives. I call this ‘Harmanism’. Of course, the proponents of ‘more, more, more’ intervention will always argue that its good for people whilst remaining blind to the exponential effect of accelerating loss of liberty and individual responsibility.

    There’s a positive point here, though: is not the converse also true? That a linear reduction in regulations (that 10% again—to start with) could yield a greater than 10% increase in liberty? The figures here are nominal, of course, but I wonder if you agree with the principle? That no magic wand or great, innovative, as yet undiscovered initiatives are required; just simple, incremental ‘linear’ reductions in the sum total of regulation—and then you’ll see the magic work all on its own.

    • StevenL
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      How do you count what constitutes ‘10%’ of ‘regulation’ though? The reality is, as soon as you say you want to do this, the reaction of the civil service is to get in a team of civil service economists, policy generalists and external academics to carry out consultations and a cost/benefit analysis of everything.

      Unsurprisingly, if you read a civil service cost/benefit analysis, the regulations and interventions seem to always ‘save’ someone more money than they cost.

  10. ian wragg
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Here in Notts we have some of the highest council tax in Britain. Rather than cut waste our councillors are switching lights off and cutting libraries etc. Not one of the fatuous jobs created under labour has gone with large contingents employed on climate change nonesense and communications etc.
    Why doesn’ government conduct an inventory on the none jobs and reduce the grant accordingly.

  11. Martin
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Looking at both Conservative and Labour parties over the last few decades it is notable that ex-chancellors who make it to Number 10 are never regarded by most as great prime ministers.

    As goes Council Tax – it is like all government spending. We have all levels of government paying too much. The pensions burden on the rest is breaking the system. The Hutton reforms are modest designed I suspect for the pre-banking crash world. I fear the present government has been too timid in sorting out the public sector wage bill – we have to wait for the next financial hit on the Pound when the proverbial men in white coats arrive.

    Than again maybe that’s why you are discussing the leadership?

  12. alan jutson
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I think the problem is too much managenment, of too many things, by both Central and local Government.

    In times past (50 years ago, yes I can remember that long ago) the local Council had the responsibility of keeping the roads and footpaths clean and well maintained, as was the case with street lights, ditches and drains were cleaned out every couple of years on a rota basis, parks were well looked after (usually with a park keeper responsible) and local government had school inspectors who did their job and who followed up on any truancy.

    Councils did the simple, but important tasks of keeping the basic infrastructure for which they were responsible, intact, with on going maintainance programmes. They collected rates from all, and council rents from council owned housing, where estates could be managed with an economy of scale, again on a planned basis.

    The Council then had a big, but simple task.

    Move forward to present, and the Council seem to be involved in every aspect of our daily lives, but seem to forget the basic functions for their very being, they even now have to manage part of the benefit system, grants, charges, verification, and a whole host of other regulations and responsibilities under Central government directives etc.

    Local Government is not really local anymore, Central Government has too much control over regulation and finance, and it has all become too politicised.

    The fault for all of this I believe is Central government wanting ever more control, they seem to want to micro manage everything, a large and expensive mistake, for which we are all paying.

    We need to get back to the very basics of what government should be responsible for (Defence, Law and Order, Education Standards and the like,) and leave and abandon the social engineering experiment where we are supposed to all be equal, and everything fair, and let Local Government be responsible for managing all things local.

    Last but not least, Central Government should never, repeat never spend more in the present year, than it raised in taxes the previous year, indeed it should plan to spend no more than 80% of taxes raised, other than in a dire emergency, like War (to defend our Country and its interests) Flood, Etc

    As for leadership challenges, it has always been the case, you will always have plotting by someone or another, the problem in more recent times is that the Media stokes it all up (very often makes it up) out of all proportion, for sensationalist headlines, simply to sell copy.

    Yes Cameron does look good (I guess) but does not/has not as yet, shown he has a real grasp of what is really needed to sort us out, I would suggest neither he or his advisors have lived in what I would call the real world, and until he takes advice and listens to those who have, his policies will fail to hit the mark.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      “We need to get back to the very basics of what government should be responsible for (Defence, Law and Order, Education Standards and the like,) and leave and abandon the social engineering experiment where we are supposed to all be equal,”

      As central government regards Education as an important vehicle for social engineering, it would seem inappropriate to entrust it to its control. Many parents would like their children to be educated, rather than groomed with lies about the past and present. Many parents who have bright well behaved children would prefer them not to be educated where they or the teachers are likely to be stabbed. Many parents would like their children to be educated to a standard equal to the very best in the world, as they were fifty years ago, without having to fork out fees to achieve that.

      The comprehensive encroachment of central government on all our lives may in part be responsible for the Celtic fringes wishing to achieve autonomy through independence. I think that’s what we all want.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I agree that local councils are now more the local agents of central government.

      I think at least one reason for this happening is that governments have been penalised at general elections for failings of local government – the electorate failing to distinguish properly where the blame lies. Rather than making it clearer as to who has the responsibility for what, central government seems to have taken the view that they need to take more control.

  13. backofanenvelope
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    If Mr Cameron wanted to reduce “binge” drinking there is a simple solution. Hand the licensing laws back to the Magistrates and tell them to work with the local police to control public disorder. He might abolish the family courts as well and hand them back to the judiciary. And put divorce proceedings back into their hands.

    • electro-kevin
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Send NHS bills and police costs to drunks.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink


        Ageed totally.

        I have suggested this for years, such a simple solution, and those who are too young to have a bank account, make the parents pay.

        Those who refuse to pay, stop it out of benefits.

        Make them all take responsibility for their self imposed problems/actions.

        • forthurst
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Are you in favour of the continental cafe culture?

          Was the law was changed in favour of encouraging destructive drinking because nulab knew perfectly well that it would cause mainly English youths to engage in self-harm whilst filling treasury coffers?

          • StevenL
            Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            No, they most likely handed it over to local government because of a belief they held that more local government licensing systems are a good thing. The default reaction of local government managers to any problem tends to be to call for new laws and more control over the outside world.

            Usually the problems can be dealt with quite adequately by competent enforcement of the laws that already exist, but that doesn’t involve the need for more managers, policy people or politicians.

            In 2004 a Councillor actually kicked me in the shin (hard!) under the table when I pointed out in front of some members of the public that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 was a perfectly adequate regime to combat drug dealers.

            She had just sat there and told them (with a straight face) that there were lots of drug dealers because there weren’t enough laws to tackle drug dealers.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Good point. The drinks trade is not without blame though.

        • zorro
          Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

          Make them responsible for their actions.


  14. A different Simon
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    “Hammersmith and Fulham have shown what can be done. The Conservatives since taking over cut the Council Tax every year, from £916.97 in 2006 to £811.78 in 2010-11.”

    You really sure you want to uphold that lot as an example ?

    They embody the worst characteristics of modern day Conservatives of flogging off the family silver to massage the figures , moving the vulnerable on so they become another boroughs problem and removing public access to facilities .

    – closed 12 homeless shelters resulting in an 8 months pregnant abused woman spending 4 nights in a park .

    – Shut down the Castle Youth Club which was bequeathed in perpituity in order to sell it off . What right did they have to do this ? The sale fell through and it’s empty now . No doubt they will adopt a scorched earth policy and knock it down .

    – Handed over Hurlingham Park to consortium who dug up the running track and
    replaced it with a polo pitch and now restrict access to the park . Believe this was also bequeathed in perpetuity .

    – Attempting to flog off council estates to developers against the wishes of the residents in an effort to socially cleanse the borough

  15. Iain Gill
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Boris wins in London because the opposition is so useless more than anything else. I don’t think his policies would stand much scrutiny if looked at more widely and with proper opposition in place. And with a media which was more in tune with the people and less trendy and politically correct. As you have hinted he has rubber stamped a lot of anti-motorist stuff which is very sad to see, his nonsense on immigration such as amnesty for anyone already here illegally would have him laughed off the ballot paper if given more publicity. His bumbling public school persona is funny but unlikely to be an inspiring head of the national government.
    George Osbourne? I am surprised that he is listed as a potential leader. Comes across to me as another spoilt rich kid with little idea how the decent hardworking folk in this country live, indeed he has that in common with Dave Cameron – at least Boris I suppose does at least understand a little of the fate of the common man despite never having lived it himself.
    Personally I think a new leader for the country and the Conservative party would be good, problem is I don’t see many potential good candidates I could support, the selection criteria and bias in the system at the parliamentary candidate stage acts against many of the best candidates getting in, and few getting in means few will make it to the top. I’d love to see a modern day young Mrs T or similar.
    But you are right a little loyalty would be good, but sadly I don’t think this has proven to be a good way to get the agenda tilted your way.
    If a big shock to the system does precipitate a massive crisis I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Daniel Hannan thrust into the limelight, he does at least challenge the status quo and is prepared to disagree with establishment holy cows – for instance his honesty about how poor is the service delivered by the NHS – this is the bloomin obvious which nobody in public life seems prepared to say. It’s about time we had some people telling the emporer (the NHS) it has no clothes (the service is rubbish). And so on. Much like Churchill in the wilderness years I think a massive crisis would lead to some unlikely character as Daniel getting to the top, I would be in despair if another identikit public school clone got in again. We can and should do better.
    Ah well lts hope the country gets the best leader available, that’s all I want.

  16. David Saunders
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Cameron should take care – many of his MPs, Party activists and in the country at large do not trust his EU tendencies. To borrow from Andrew Marvell, ‘At his back he always hears, Boris Johnson hurrying near’

  17. Kenneth
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    The Labour Party and the BBC speak the same language and live on the same cloud. This incestuous relationship is the opposite of the relationship between the BBC and the Conservative Party where I sense there is a natural and mutual distrust.

    The tragedy was (and still is) that, instead of the BBC reforming and adapting, the Conservative Party decided to adapt itself to make it more BBC-friendly. Corrupting the recruitment process for MPs and ministers is one example. Our country has been damaged by the many U-turns and compromises that the BBC has forced upon us.

    The BBC has a history in the dark arts of trawling for dissent in the Conservative Party. This is its clumsy way of trying to understand a political philosophy that is so alien to its own.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      So you’re blaming the BBC for the inability of the Conservatives to run the Government; even though most Newspapers and news channels have always supported the Conservatives.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Indeed the BBC sets the big government, socialist, pro EU, green wash agenda and forces political parties to follow.

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        uanime5: “So you’re blaming the BBC for the inability of the Conservatives to run the Government; even though most Newspapers and news channels have always supported the Conservatives.”

        Yes. Had it not been for BBC propaganda I believe we would now have a Conservative government and not a coalition (despite UKIP). Television and radio will always trump newspapers in terms of reach. Tv/radio news is dominated by the BBC with its very large budget and its influence across the sector.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      What are you going to do about the other channels and the internet Ken once your fatwa against the BBC is won? An answer is required.

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Bazman: “What are you going to do about the other channels and the internet Ken once your fatwa against the BBC is won? An answer is required.”

        How about doing nothing? Surely impartiality can be achieved through media plurality.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 31, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          You would just have another SKY or worse TV in general. This would not matter to you as you and other middle aged middle class men as they do not do not watch much TV anyway.
          The bias, or assumed bias of the BBC is not such a bad thing counteracting stupid right wing views that when challenged even by someone like myself turn to dust as they are just vengeful, spiteful and selfish idea from tossers.

  18. electro-kevin
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The problem with the affable and clearly errudite and intelligent Mr Johnson is that he could never do sombre and be taken seriously, as is required of leaders in office on occaision.

    There appears to be too much of the comic and not enough gravitas about the chap.

    (Sorry if I’ve got you wrong, Boris.)

    • electro-kevin
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      …then again Mr Osbourne didn’t cover himself in glory at the GQ magazine awards. At least Boris has good comic timing.

  19. Kenneth
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The obvious answer is to reduce the government subsidy to councils and leave those councils free to either prune costs or raise local revenue.

    The trouble is – and the reality is – that this will be bad politics while we have such bias in the media.

    Any cuts in council spending will be reported as bad news by the BBC/Guardian. I am not asking such cuts to be reported as good news either (even though I think they would be good news). All I want is unbiased reporting.

    Until we have fair reporting by the media, we will have damaging government policies regardless of who is in power.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Why do you suppose that every other newspapers and news channels also reports these cuts as bad news?

      Also not being told what you want to hear isn’t bias.

      • libertarian
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        Its called churnalism, where a story is copied and endlessly repeated so that it becomes a fact, for recent examples see

        BSE,MMR ,chinese bird flu, Year 2 K , AGW, Swine Flu etc etc

        Its just endlessly repeated soundbites in exactly the same way that Labour, Lib Dem and Tory politicians trot out utter rubbish in order to be seen to be doing something, as another example the laughable “housing shortage”, which causes them to keep building a stream of unwanted, unoccupied rubbish housing on greenfield sites

        • StevenL
          Posted December 30, 2011 at 1:56 am | Permalink

          There are shortages some places. Where I’m living, it’s not unusual to get 30-50 serious enquiries on the first day you advertise a room for rent.

          I think a lot of the dross was built to meet the demand from wannabe millionnaires, who had been sucked in by smooth-talking ‘below market value, no money down’ (now simply known as ‘mortgage fraud’) BTL ‘gurus’.

          Apparently the banks aren’t as complicit these days so it’s a bum deal (unless you’re the one taking the deal reservation fees).

        • Kenneth
          Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          Good answer.

          I would also add that the BBC has money to spend. Sky – the nearest challenger – continues to make an operational loss. Only journalists who are secure in their jobs would stray too far from the BBC line even when they are not working for the corporation.

      • electro-kevin
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        Do you have any evidence of this, Uanime5 ?

    • Bazman
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Again what about other sources that report the same off message views?

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Bazman: “Again what about other sources that report the same off message views?”

        Again: I see no problem. The more views, on or off message, the more plurality, the more collective impartiality. Bring it on…

        • Bazman
          Posted December 31, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          The council would have to cut many services to the old or young, as well as much general maintenance. Or face raising council tax by large amounts. Should the government subsidy to councils be reduced. This is why I find your whole BBC fetish disingenuous. The end game is to promote more right wing views under the guise of impartiality and plurality. Right wing views that you will not have to live with the reality of as you are not short of cash and do not rely on the state very much do you Ken?Your campaign will not of course apply to the right wing press will it?
          Pull the other one.

  20. Spartacus
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    First – A bit of History here – In 1989, 3 Years to a General election, Prime minister Thatcher had a very very feeble leadership challenge in 1989 by a no-hoper candidate worried about her poll tax policy and her anti-Europe stance. It was just a detail of leadership to be dealt with.

    Just 60 MPs of the 374 did not vote for her – and over half of these 60 abstained.

    It was nothing to worry about.

    Just a year later she was gone. A properly engineered leadership challenge ousted her.

    So we get the politicos from the BBC organizing the ‘leadership challenge’ which John says is unhelpful. But I bet there will be one!

    Why? Surely what happened to Thatcher was that the number and identities of these 60 MPs became known and was enough to build a rump around which and far more significant numbers of backbench support for another candidate formed when her popularity declined (as the effects of the terrible poll tax and a currency crisis induced recession hit and undermined her support in the polls.)

    Backbenchers were seriously worried by the coming 1992 General Election just 2 years away.

    In light of this, Consider the present.

    Oct 2011. The EU referendum free debate, put together by UKIPs Nikki Sinclair, resulted in a 3 line whip put down against its free discussion by the PM, this 3 line whip then ‘flushed out’ 81 Tory backbench rebels.

    Ok – Only about half of these where arguably ‘conviction’ rebels with noting to fear from the UKIP factor. Fully 41 of the 81 rebels won their seats in the 2010 general election only by their fingernails, because UKIP had taken vital support away from these MPs in 2010 and they faced increasingly euro-sceptical constituency bases.

    As a direct result of the extreme 3 line whip, backbenchers were forced (many of them unwillingly) to take a stand on the crucial EU issue, rather than bump along with an alternate scenario where a debate would take place, the usual lipservice paid on the issue, which would all then be largely ignored.

    No – thanks to the 3-line whip on Nikki’s Debate, 81 of the 307 Total Tory MP’s became exposed to the whole world, and the numbers and identities of the rebels – about a 1/3rd of Tory MPs – to the party itself.

    THAT IS A HUGE NUMBER. There could now be a real threat to his leadership if that block got together to mount a leadership challenge with a more credible euro-sceptic candidate later.

    What do you say John?

    • uanime5
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Unless Cameron does something on par with the poll tax that makes him hated throughout the country there won’t be any serious attempts to remove him. He’ll just remain in power until his term runs out, like John Major.

      • electro-kevin
        Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        Mrs Thatcher didn’t resign over the Poll Tax (which wasn’t unpopular with everyone, actually) but because of divisions within her own party over Europe.

        She didn’t think that the single currency was a good idea. It turns out that she was bang on the money.

        She wasn’t hated throughout the country. Though I’ll agree with you that there is an almost insane dislike of her in certain quarters – even among young satirical writers on BBC R4 who couldn’t possibly have been politically conscious at the time of her rule.

        • Spartacus
          Posted December 30, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

          It was the backbenchers fearing for their seats in the face of a recession — a deep recession that got rid of Thatcher. In a years time, its a fair chance the 2015 election will start to focus minds. Thatcher as leader looked like plain sailing at this stage with just a few mps openly oposed to her. The next year she was gone. Cameron now has 33% of his party openly opposed to him. A leadership challenge is hibackbenchers to suceed if backbenchers start to fear for their seats.

  21. Alan Wheatley
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps ITV or Sky, say, should place boxes in Central Lobby so MPs can ballot on who should be the next DG of the BBC! And Chairman of the Trust for that matter.

  22. Trevor Butler
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Well done Hammersmith – Its a pity the Wokingham council cannot take a leaf out of that book – £1760 per year which is 10% of my take home pay – I feel like I’m paying a tithe to the Lord of the Manor for very little in return.

    • Matt
      Posted December 30, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I expect Wokingham could do the same if it received a similar level of government grant. In 2011 LBHF received £738 per head in grant whilst Wokingham received £125. It is disappointing that John Redwood does not do more to highlight this inequality as it so badly affects his own constituents.

      Reply: I have taken this matter up on several occasions with government, and did help the Council obtain a substantial increase in grant under the last government. Wokingham’s grant will never be at the same per head level as inner London wioth more social problems and needs.

      • A different Simon
        Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Matt ,

        LBHF have adopted a policy of social cleansing and gotten away with it . If they want to live in an area which is free of little people and vulnerable people then they should be required to subsidise everywhere else for taking them .

        Some residential rents in Hammersmith probably exceed £738 pa per square meter .
        In such cases any saving the council passes on little more than a rounding error for these people . That they get any subsidy from the rest of us is wrong .

        Given that they do , why does LBHF feel the need to try and sell off parks and youth clubs which were sold to the Council for a nominal amount with covenants stating they are for the use as leisure areas for residents in perpituity .

        Is it ideological or just selling off the family silver ?

        I’d be pretty disappointed if Wokingham tried to do the same .

        • A different Simon
          Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          PS this social cleansing and lack of empathy between the powerful and the weak is part of our big problem .

          If the powerful felt they had more in common with the rest of us they might consider the consequences of their decisions upon the rest of us .

          For instance if bankers had to spend a week with a struggling family in an ex-woolen mill town in Leicestershire or ex coal mining town in Wale or Yorkshire in order to receive their bonus they might adapt their behaviour and business decisions .

          What damage the Bric’s do to us is as nothing compared to what we do to each other .

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink


      Its a much higher percentage of your income, if you are on the State Pension !

      We pay Wokingham £2,098.60 per year.

  23. Phil Richmond
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I hope there is a leadership contest in early 2012 to get rid of Cameron.

    Great articles today John by Dan Hannan (Telegraph) & Iain Murray/James Bennet (Wall St Journal) about how Britain should leave Europe behind and join up with America and the Anglosphere.

    John we need a Conservative leading the Conservative party. I dont know how you can stand being in the same room as Cameron!

    • zorro
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Britain is investing more time in its relationships with the Anglosphere through the Five Country Conference (5CC) arrangements in law enforcement.


  24. david englehart
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    whilst fully endorsing john redwoods views on the euro and the EU i think we have to acknowledge that david cameron’s popularity exceds that of our party.
    maybe it would be wise to keep that situation in place given our last 2 prime ministers often fell behind the party’s popularity.
    both david cameron and boris have that inbuilt self confidence ,sometimes cruelly referred to as arrogance, in the way they come over.
    it proves that the money spent on their education was not wasted.
    however boris does not always come over in the same concise matter of fact way that cameron does.
    clegg has it but is a spent force unless he changes horses before the next election.
    these little things are important as we can see from ed milliband who just does not sound right.
    blair had it ,brown didnt.

  25. jason walker
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Let’s try and have some honesty here.

    The current conservative ‘popularity’ is NOT down to policies or personalities, but down to a lack of a viable opponent.
    Neither Milliband’s Labour nor Clegg’s (oh-so) Liberals are a real alternative and the 80’s are back!

  26. peter
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Quote “When I turned up at party conference this autumn I was astonished to be asked by the BBC to cast a vote for either Boris Johnson or George Osborne to be the next leader of the Conservative party”

    – not the BBC trying to stir something up by any chance? We all know of their leftist/EU tendencies…

  27. Reaguns
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    ” I was astonished to be asked by the BBC to cast a vote for either Boris Johnson or George Osborne to be the next leader of the Conservative party”
    Astonished John? These two have been talked about in the papers and blogosphere for quite a while.
    A lot of people think Cameron isn’t quite the superstar he is currently made out to be, and obviously the right of the party and the country despise him.
    And also some feel Miliband isn’t the also ran he’s made out to be.

    Personally I’d like Miliband to win so that Cameron could be replaced by a real conservative.

  • 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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