Should governments seek the centre ground?


            All those who claim to be wise in politics tell you that a leader and his party must seek the centre ground to be successful. In one sense this is obvious,if it means that a party may have to extend its coalition of support well beyond its comfort zone, its original idea or  heartlands in order to construct a winning majority.

              There are, however, at least two major flaws in the proposition that a party should always seek the centre ground. The first has been pointed out by those who think instead a party should seek the common ground. It may be that the centre ground is not as popular as some ground to the right or left that is much more popular. These advisers say the leader should seek out that common ground, and not worry if it is to the right or left in common parlance. What matters is to satisfy majority opinion, or build a wider coalition of support for popular policies.

            The second flaw is that the party and the country  may not be starting out from somewhere near the centre. A winning party may inherit a situation where the centre has been wrenched to the left or the right as conventionally described. To get back to the true or mean centre ground may require a sharp move to right or left, depending on the starting position.

             I do not think left and right mean very much any more. Certainly right wing is a much abused term, forming part of BBC and Guardian demonology. They tend to lump Hitler, anti German neo Nazis in Greece, fundamentalist clerics, and UK  Conservatives they don’t like all under the same term of abuse, as right wing. They seem to think there is something in common between authoritarians and free enterprise Conservatives, between Eurosceptics and religious social Conservatives, between tax cutters and those who think the state should spend more on law and order and defence. It’s all a great meaningless muddle.

            I suggest instead the better terms to capture the debates and disagreements in modern UK democractic politics are these. There is an argument between those of us who want many more things to be decided by UK democracy rather than by EU bureaucracy, and those who want the UK to adopt more and more EU laws and controls. I have never understood why a belief in UK or English democracy is right wing, as it is a view I share with Tony Benn.

               There is a disagreement between those of us who  think economies and societies work better when individuals and families are left more of their income after tax to spend on looking after themselves and their loved ones, than if the state takes more of the money off them and then gives some back as benefits, and those who think the state should take more and give back more.

                 There is a disagreement between authoritiarians and libertarians. Some of us think we should have more of our freedoms back, whilst others think the state  should control more to protect us from ourselves and our neighbours.

                            In each of these cases, finding  the centre ground is not easy. Some of us would argue that the current state of play for the UK and England in the EU is now at an extreme. Successive treaties and years of transferring powers means the UK has lost a lot of its capacity for self government. We would say the centre ground lies way in the Eurosceptic direction. This would also seem to be the same for the common ground, judging by the polls of people’s attitudes to the extent of EU power. Having more democracy in the UK and England is popular.

                          Tax levels are at a high in the UK. Never have so many paid so much to partly pay for such a record high level of current public spending. You could argue that returning to the centre meant relieving the squeeze on individuals and companies that very high public spending has generated in recent years. Maybe we should regard Gordon Brown’s income tax and CGT rates as the centre ground? His top Income Tax rate of 40% was well below the current level, and far fewer people were in the 40% band. His CGT rate of 18% was well below the current 28%.

                          Many civil liberties have been taken away in recent years in the name of counter terrorism and being tough on crime. Is the current level of surveillance, detention and restriction really  the norm or the centre ground?


  1. Dave666
    May 9, 2012

    Many civil liberties have been taken away in recent years in the name of counter terrorism and being tough on crime(?). Is the current level of surveillance, detention and restriction the norm or the centre ground? Yet authourities appeared to fail to act after the first warning on child grooming by organised gangs in 2005? No one dared speak out when a Channel 4 documentary was rescheduled on instructions from the PC establishment.
    Time someone in authaurity got up to speed on history. Read ISBN 13 978 159102307 4 and stop the rot now.

    1. Mike Stallard
      May 9, 2012

      I checked the ISBN in Amazon for fun.
      It is the Bible in Latvian!

  2. Single Acts
    May 9, 2012

    I wish Mr Cameron would cast an eye to this blog from time to time.

    (By the way, caught you on SKY news yesterday, very measured and competent if I may say so, way better than many a tory front bencher and don’t even start me on the liberals!)

  3. lifelogic
    May 9, 2012

    Should governments seek the centre ground?

    No they should do what works, a small state and leaving money with companies and individuals to do sensible things with. Not Mr Cast Iron and Mr Morally Repugnant’s current “tax borrow and tip down the drain policy”. They should also make the moral case for it namely that if works and creates jobs and growth and is better for all in the end.

    Tax levels are absurdly high in the UK. Never have so many paid so much and to receive so little by way of useful efficient services in return.

    The Cameron approach is totally the wrong way round. He sounds tough, as if he is making huge cuts, but in reality “tax borrow and waste” continues everywhere. He should be making massive cuts in the state sector while easing the huge burdens of regulation, lack of banking, and over taxation on private industry. He should also perhaps sound caring and concerned while doing this. The exact opposite of what he is doing now.

    At the end of the day what actually works in practise is what people really want. No one sensible thinks that a bloated incompetent state sector, expensive green energy, non functioning banks, over taxation, pointless wars, HS2 and over regulation of everything is what works. Do they?

    Often those working in the state sector are most aware of the waste, inefficiency and pointless activity that abounds there.

    1. backofanenvelope
      May 9, 2012

      Surely Mr Cameron’s main policy is a complete success. His policy is to convince people he is making cuts in public expenditure when in fact he is increasing it. Mr Redwood has explained repeatedly what is happening but everyone believes Mr Cameron. What a triumph!

      1. Mark
        May 9, 2012

        The reverse would be a real success: convince people there weren’t really cuts while making them through better efficiency.

        1. lifelogic
          May 10, 2012

          Exactly – convince people there weren’t really cuts while making them through better efficiency and doing only the essential and sensible things.

    2. Gordon Norrie
      May 9, 2012

      But surely to reduce the levels of government – and the associated armies employed to enforce red tape – one would have to do something about EU membership.

      Cameron and the Tories are not in any position to reduce the massive government bill, because, ultimately, they don’t control the legislative process – the EU does !

      1. lifelogic
        May 10, 2012

        Indeed the EU and the Libdems it seems.

  4. lifelogic
    May 9, 2012

    Cameron needs to remember that he is supposed to govern for all the country – the majority who work for the private sector as well the minority who work for the state. The state sector has rather higher wages plus pensions10+ times the size of those who pay taxes for them. He never ever points this out I notice.

    1. uanime5
      May 9, 2012

      We I’m sure he’s looking for new ways to raise the private pensions paid by companies so that the taxpayer doesn’t need to contribute so much to these pensions.

      1. lifelogic
        May 10, 2012

        “so that the taxpayer doesn’t need to contribute so much to these pensions” – what do you mean? The tax pay does not contribute anything the investors just get tax relief (not any contribution) further the very restrictive regulations costs the pension investor a lot of money in admin cost and lost of investment returns and they further have to pay the regulator fees to boot.

  5. colliemum
    May 9, 2012

    I agree with all that is said in this post, but would like to emphasise the abuse of ‘right wing/extreme right’ by the BBC and not just the Guardian but other papers as well.

    We should not let the left-leaning (to say it mildly) MSM dictate the way we talk about politics. Too many people, especially the younger generation, have got so used to see anything labelled ‘right’ as something disgusting and to be avoided.
    “Right wing’ has become a short-hand way to compare all policies proposed by e.g. you yourself, John, as close to the BNP.

    This short-hand smear in the MSM must be shown up for what it is as often as possible: this is unashamed left-wing propaganda.
    Especially the BBC must be called to order here.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      May 9, 2012

      Last week Baroness Warsi tried to smear UKIP in just the same way after the local elections. I haven’t seen any retraction or apology so what does that tell us about the Conservative party?

    2. norman
      May 9, 2012

      maybe baroness warsi could be wheeled out to explain the differences and that the bnp are actually left wing.

      seems like some Conservatives aren’t too bothered to conflate the two.

      1. zorro
        May 9, 2012

        She displayed considerable (political) immaturity when she made that comment.


        1. lifelogic
          May 10, 2012

          Indeed she did. From someone, who it seems is quite pleasant and tries her best, but is clearly totally out of her depth.

          It seems rather unlikely that she has been appointed purely on any measure of her real ability – was it Cameron again?

    3. backofanenvelope
      May 9, 2012

      I wonder what happened to the idea that when the BBC was completely digital, it would then be easy to abolish the licence fee and switch to a Sky-like model?

    4. Mike Stallard
      May 9, 2012

      I like this comment!

    5. uanime5
      May 9, 2012

      I noticed you used ‘left-wing propaganda’ as an insult. It seems that certain people consider anything labelled ‘left’ as something disgusting and to be avoided.

  6. alan jutson
    May 9, 2012

    As per my comments on May 6th when you touched on this subject, the common ground and the “right thing” will gain much more support than false directions of left or right.

    We keep on hearing about low interest rates being good for the Country, but not for the majority of the population, who are savers.

    We hear about inflation being no problem as it reduces debt over years, but not for those on a fixed income, or those who are on a wage freeze or who are self employed.

    We hear about Quantititive Easing being good for us all, but again not if you are investing in a pension fund when annuity rates then reduce, or holiday or purchase products from abroad, when the value of your money is trashed.

    We here so much about State help for those in need, but when those who are in so called need, get more than those who have to pay into the scheme, its arse about face.

    We bleet on about free health care for all (even foreign visitors) when its not free at all, just look at the annual cost of this government department.

    We moan about the cost of rental housing, yet the government actually subsidise high rents with housing benefit, to such a degree that for many this subsidy alone is higher than the average wage.

    We moan about the growth in population and the fact that some people have children to enable them to claim more state aid, so we have no limit on the number of children for whom they can claim benefit.

    You do not have to turn to the right to do the right thing.

    Funny old world politics, shame it gets in the way of commonsense.

    1. outsider
      May 9, 2012

      Dear Mr Redwood,
      I notice that you did not mention immigration, the policy issue on which the centre ground and common ground diverge most widely. It is also a subject on which the views of those lumped together as “right-wing” take directly opposing positions.

      1. zorro
        May 9, 2012

        This is a very fair point. The idea of immigration control for the UK is not a race issue, but is a practicality issue. We cannot afford unplanned, unsustainable increases in population. There are a whole raft of social issues which depend upon a strong immigration control in place. The efforts of the current government are failing to convince the populace that they take this issue seriously.


  7. Mike Stallard
    May 9, 2012

    ” I do not think left and right mean very much any more.”

    Is universal suffrage actually a good thing?

    This outrageous thought goes against everything I have been saying over all my life. Of course it is! Otherwise, the government gets out of touch with the people it is supposed to govern. Otherwise the rulers listen to a small clique of people who really do not know what they are talking about. In a monarchy, for instance, it can be the King’s hairdresser, or the Queen’s new toyboy.

    At the moment in the UK, we seem to have this scenario with lobbyists, spin doctors and an isolated group of rulers in a bubble.

    On the other hand, universal suffrage does mean buying votes with increased welfare, increased goodies like toy trains and expensive pensions and panem et circenses (cheap food and the Olympics).
    Labour fully understands this and speaks of “Fairness” and “planning the economy” – all code for more handouts.
    The EU understands this and makes absolutely no pretence about universal suffrage beyond a completely spurious parliament based, actually, on the Second Reich of the Kaiser. It doesn’t actually seem to care much either about our welfare or about us at all. It actually seems very like a monolithic bureaucracy which just grows and grows for its own sake.

    2. Has anyone noticed? We are deeply in debt. So in the USA. So is Europe. The government is not doing anything about this at all. It cannot do it and be re-elected under the present system. So what happens next? Barter round the world? New return to specie? Chinese control of our freedoms?

    3. Here is an awful question: Limit the suffrage?
    Allow only people who pay tax to vote. This scheme is mad, I know. But how else to avoid the problems above?

    1. alan jutson
      May 10, 2012


      Your point about only taxpayers being allowed to vote has been touched by both you and me in the past, and probably like you, at first, I though it was perhaps a thought too far and totally undemocratic.


      Again like you, I belive the present system where millions of people who are being subsidised by the State and pay absolutely nothing into the system, but simply take out, can vote for even more subsidy (the Gordon Brown Trick of for collecting votes for his policies) because it costs them not a bean, is also rather unfair on those who have to pay for it all.

      The problem is what do you call a taxpayer, would you limit it to income tax payers only, or do you extend it to cover other certain taxes ?

      Interesting to hear other views.

      1. uanime5
        May 10, 2012

        Another problem is can someone be considered a taxpayer if they get more in benefits than they pay in income tax? If so then this would exclude the economically inactive, unemployed, working class, and most of the lower middle class.

        1. alan jutson
          May 10, 2012


          I suppose another option is to tax all benefits like they were earnings !

          ie normal tax rates apply after the personal tax allowance.

  8. spartacus
    May 9, 2012

    Is not the centre ground not what comes out of the policies and focus groups concentrating on the 70 marginal seats, and furthermore the tiny amount of swing voters?
    It is thus not a definition of the moderate position in politics, as many may think, or even the sensible position.
    It seems like the Tories are finding what worked so successfully for Blair during the bubble, abandoning their core vote by policies of mass immigration, taking them for granted as they have nowhere to turn, while focusing on undecided voters in a handful of seats, during a credit Bumble, is not working for them now when they try the same.

  9. Martin Cole
    May 9, 2012

    In Greece this weekend we have witnessed the start of the destruction of a typical two, centre-ground party, alternating power system being destroyed by the inevitable result of a misinformed electorate clinging to two opposite and conflicting concepts at the same time. In Greece it is staying in the Euro and ending austerity while in Britain it seems mainly the belief that a mixed economy is feasible.

    The real failure in Britain is in our education system, particularly the universities, which have failed to produce an educated, rounded or matured grauduate body. Increasing the nnumber of grauduates as has recently occurred has naturally driven society to this point of collapse.

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand provides reading matter with an opportunity for the speediest therapy!

    1. uanime5
      May 10, 2012

      If might be better to read [i]The Fountainhead[/i] which is about the training and employment of an architect, than a book about business leaders leaving the country.

      Alternatively businesses could accept that no amount of education will create people who don’t need any training to do their job and start training their own employees.

  10. Richard1
    May 9, 2012

    One of the reasons I supported the EU when first able to vote was because in those days it looked relatively free-market compared with the UK Labour party (which was then in favour of withdrawal). I thought Mrs Thatcher took such a view: ie membership of the EU would act as a bulwark against socialism in the UK. Perhaps things have changed with socialism having been comprehensively intellectually defeated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    May 9, 2012

    An interesting assessment.

    A complementary topic would be the contrast between moving party policy to where majority opinion lies and moving opinion to where the party believes policy should be. Put another way, to lead from the front or the rear.

    It would be nice to think that, in a free thinking democracy with good communications, a sound concept supported by a well argued case would receive widespread support.

  12. Geoff M
    May 9, 2012

    Left or right it would be good if the leaders understood the problem first, one of them appears not to:

    “I want to reach out and understand why you don’t trust any politicians, why you don’t believe any of us can answer the questions that you are facing in your life”.

    Milliband Ed yesterday, well why did you not figure this out years ago before you were elected as an MP Ed?

    One hopes the current leader of the Cons has the answer-do we have doubts??????????

    1. Yudansha
      May 9, 2012

      “I want to reach out and understand why you don’t trust any politicians, why you don’t believe any of us can answer the questions that you are facing in your life”.

      Because the issues facing this country have gone beyond politics. There is nothing that any of them can do.

  13. Bob
    May 9, 2012

    “Can you imagine working for a company that only has a little more than 635 employees, but, has the following employee statistics..

    29 have been accused of spouse abuse
    7 have been arrested for fraud
    9 have been accused of writing bad cheques
    17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
    3 have done time for assault
    71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
    14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
    8 have been arrested for shoplifting
    21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
    84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year

    And collectively, this year alone, they have cost the British tax payer a cool £92,993,748 in Expenses!!!

    Which organisation is this?

    It’s the 635 members of the House of Commons. The same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.

    What a bunch of crooks we have running our country.
    And just to top all that they probably have the best ‘corporate’ pension scheme in the country – whilst trying to ensure that everyone else has the worst possible!!”

    1. StevenL
      May 9, 2012

      Is this true? Have 84 MP’s really been arrested for drink driving in one year? Watching drink drivers make their ludicrious excuses in the Mags court before receiving their 18 month ban is always entertaining.

      I wonder how many of the 84 will say they were ‘spiked’ before being handed their 18 month bans?

    2. alan jutson
      May 10, 2012


      This sounds incredible, where did you get these figures from.

      Please share the information with us.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    May 9, 2012

    Yesterday Guido Fawkes brought our attention to a job advert from the BBC which stated : “BBC News requires a political analyst for its Political Research Unit. You’ll be required to have expertise in the workings of the Labour Party. You’ll have a comprehensive knowledge of the Labour Party and a good awareness of constitutional affairs.”
    Is this the BBC’s idea of seeking the centre ground by clearly trying to recruit Labour Party members, either past or present, for BBC News?

    1. sjb
      May 9, 2012

      Here is an earlier advert for the same Unit where the BBC wanted someone with “good working knowledge of and expertise in the Conservative Party. ”,4154491214&key=35793131&c=652152542572&pagestamp=dbhrohrljqmnyouvpf

  15. JoolsB
    May 9, 2012

    The centre ground is the easy option and looking very crowded at the moment being occupied by both Tory and Labour. No wonder the public can’t see much difference between the two.

    The only party with the courage to stand on the right is UKIP. Nigel Farage is the Conservative Cameron will never be which is why they will get this lifelong Conservative’s vote from now on. If Cameron is heir to Blair, then Farage must be heir to Maggie and instead of being complacent about UKIP or even insulting them as Baroness Warsi did, they should be concentrating on proving to disaffected Tory voters like me that they really are Tories after all and that means getting off that centre ground but first we would need a Tory party to do that and all I see are a bunch of Liberals (with one or two exceptions of course)

  16. lifelogic
    May 9, 2012

    Cable does finally seem to be addressing the shareholder power issue. Let us hope he comes up with a good mechanism that works to stop directors robbing shareholders while running companies into the ground. Yet it does not stop companies finding good directors.

    Directors are not like top football players at all (where you can only have eleven on the team and so need the very best 11). Ten good people on say £100K with a suitable division of responsibilities are often far, far better than one on £10M.

    When a super high flyer director takes over bad company it is usually the company that keeps it reputation and when a super high flyer director leaves a good company it usually stays good.

    The MD is only a part of a large team after all.

    1. zorro
      May 9, 2012

      Quite right lifelogic…’Ten good people on say £100K with a suitable division of responsibilities are often far, far better than one on £10M’…..Indeed those ten people cost ten times less to the business. If you had one hundred of them you could expand the business too! A lot of these company directors are clearly not worth the salaries. What EXACTLY do they do?


    2. uanime5
      May 10, 2012

      I believe that in Germany people can register their shares with banks, who then vote on behalf of the all their shareholders. This is an easy way to create a single representative for thousands of small shareholders. Perhaps something similar could be implemented in the UK.

  17. John Bracewell
    May 9, 2012

    I think of this ‘left or right’ topic in terms of a straight line labelled from 0 to 100 from left to right. Normally centre ground would be at 50, but after 13 years of Labour government, ideas, language and what has been labelled as centre ground, now lie at a point left of the natural centre at somewhere between 40 and 45. So anyone expressing real Conservative ideas, say 10 points right of current thinking is deemed to be far right when in fact their ideas lie on the scale between 50 and 55 (only just Conservative). Former Centre right ideas (nominally between 60 and 70 on the true scale, say) are deemed tantamount to Nazism (since they are 20 points to the right of current thinking of centre ground, which is now 40-45).
    In the initial phases of the new government in 2010, there needed to be and still needs to be a recalibration in the ideas, language and policies to shift the centre ground as now defined by those ‘august’ bodies the BBC and Guardian from the 40-45 range back to the true centre at 50. This Coalition government failed to do this because of Cameron’s liberalism (labelled as modernisation or detoxification, or whatever) and the effect of pandering to the LibDem partners.
    This recalibration of the ‘left/right’ scale is what lies behind the ‘Real Conservatism’ debate as highlighted on ConHome by Tim Montgomerie but it has still to be and may never be implemented by the current Conservative party elite.

    1. lifelogic
      May 11, 2012

      Alas most of the calibration is done by the BBC.

  18. Winston Smith
    May 9, 2012

    Nick Clegg lied to the media and the public, yeserday. He deliberately confused the deficit with debt:

    “We have a moral duty to the next generation, to our children and grandchildren, to wipe the slate clean for them,” he said. “We have set out a plan, it lasts about 6 or 7 years, to wipe the slate clean, to rid people of that dead weight of debt that has built up over time.”

    Its incredible that such a person should be in such a powerful position within the Government.

    1. Richard1
      May 10, 2012

      I think a more likely explanation is he doesnt understand the difference.

    2. lifelogic
      May 11, 2012

      I see Clegg studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Robinson College Cambridge so it is entirely possible he was just a little confused. Numeracy and logic are not Lib Dem strong points, hence their love of renewable energy. Irrational appeals to emotion is the LibDem way. It is a religion at its heart.

  19. Robert K
    May 9, 2012

    Hard to disagree with any of JR’s comments here.
    On the subject of the BBC, has anyone noticed how its reporters are now polarising European politics into “austerity” and “growth”? Austerity, to the BBC, is nasty governments squeezing “ordinary hard working families” (a Brown phrase, of course) whilst “growth” is the obvious solution to our current woes – tax, borrow and spend more. This thinking is so engrained it doesn’t even count as editorialising any more.

    1. alan jutson
      May 10, 2012


      Yes, living within your means is now called “Austerity”.

      Borrowing money is now called “Making an Investment”

      Funny old World.

  20. Sue
    May 9, 2012

    This is all an irrelevant discussion. We have no powers. The EU is a “socialist construct”, therefore we are expected to abide by their rules. Whatever “way” this is, is it not a democracy. It is as far from freedom as I can possibly imagine.

    Constant intrusions into our lives whether it be spying on our emails or our dustbins just to cover your mistakes. You opened the doors to all and sundry while declaring war on these people’s brothers and sisters and now we are expected to suffer for your errors. You bailed out the banks and agreed to bail out the EU (without asking us) and now we are expected to pay for the privilege. Worse still, you are allowing the Eurocrats to lead lives that only millionaires can dream of, all on the money that you steal from our pay packets and VAT.

    You listen to the propaganda of the climateers whose research has been proven more than once to be false or downright lies and we pay for that idiocy. It is us who pay for “green policies” that don’t work. It is us that have to live with windfarms in our midst. It is us who have to be frugal with water because of your gross inefficiency.

    In your effort to “make everyone equal”, we now have schools filled with children who can’t even speak English. Our children suffer because they have been held back “in the name of equality” so again we are paying. Why do you think the young generation are so dismal at reading and maths? The education system has been dumbed down to make everyone equal. I have news for you, we are not all equal. Some of us are academics, others are headed for vocational or creative careers.

    We have thousands of Britons who have no work, foreigners are doing the jobs that young people traditionally did (hospitality, factory work, fruit picking). You cannot force young people to do jobs if there aren’t any. We have a shortage of housing and our whole infrastructure is suffering and you wonder why the indigenous birthrate is low….. We can’t afford to have lots of children, we’re too skint supporting other EU citizens, their huge families, the world and it’s growing population.

    Again, who pays for your mistakes? We do…

    I’m sick of paying high taxes because you lot mess up everything you touch. If we had been consulted in some of these decisions, the United Kingdom would still resemble the United Kingdom and be a much nicer place to bring up our children and grandchildren.

    1. Susan
      May 10, 2012


      That is not fair Sue. A lot immigrants came in to do jobs such hospitality, factory work and particularly fruit picking because the UKs young people were not prepared to do these jobs.

      Who is” you lot” when you say you are sick of them making a mess? Labour spent all the money not the Coalition, they were the ones left with the mess, they did not make it. It was the public who voted Labour in for 13 years to keep spending so the people were consulted.

      It is also Labour policy to dumb down education to make everyone equal the Coalition is trying to address this problem.

  21. Chris
    May 9, 2012

    No, they should not seek the centre ground, and Cameron’s dogged pursuit of the centre ground is the reason for his demise. Unfortunately, neither he, nor his advisers, have the common sense or wisdom to see this.

    I thought the publicity stunt at the Essex factory revealed the shallowness of David Cameron, and I was angered by the apparent contempt he was showing for the intelligence of the electorate. We do not like spin and staged events geared to what CHQ apparently thinks the voters want to see and hear i.e focusing on the mythical centre ground.
    We want bold, plain talking, based on a sound and recognisable Conservative ideology, and aboe all we want action. I suspect, however, that all this will be overshadowed by the revelations of the Leveson inquiry this week, and the crucial issue of having a Conservative leader who actually represents Conservative ideology will be kicked into the proverbial long grass.

  22. English Pensioner
    May 9, 2012

    One of the troubles with modern politics is that it is seen as a career. Thus you don’t actually need any beliefs, but seek to put forward those views which will get you elected. Seeking the centre ground is all part of this.
    Gone are the times when most politicians actually believed in something, now the majority simply try to be seen as being prepared to offer the electorate what they want. The only time this policy falls down is when there are confusing signals as to what the electorate wants (as we all give PC answers when questioned), and I think that this is happening now. The increasing support for UKIP, who are now developing policies along traditional Tory lines, rather than being a single issue party, could see them making gains amongst those who are unable to identify what the “modern” Tories, such as Cameron, actually stand for.

    1. Chris
      May 9, 2012

      I think you are right, OP.

  23. Atlas
    May 9, 2012

    Politics – the art of saying “Well, I wouldn’t have started out from here”

  24. fake
    May 9, 2012

    I would rather a party stick to a set of values.

    Live by the sword and die by the sword.

    Rather than chop and change their values to whatever they think will get them voted this week.

  25. oldtimer
    May 9, 2012

    You raise many very important points – with which I agree.

    For example the attempts to lump Nazis (National Socialism and overbearing power of the state), or for that matter Mussolini`s Fascism (which grew out of the Italian TU movement), with UK Conservatives as “right wing” is one of the more unsavoury and inaccurate examples political discourse that disfigures political debate in this country. It is, of course, a deliberate attempt to redefine the meaning of words – to create a new shorthand of abuse. It relies on Goebbel`s definition of the Big Lie (constant repetition) to gain currency and acceptance. There are other examples such as equating concerns about very high levels of immigration with racism. The BBC is a regular practitioner.

    This is the risk with adjectival descriptions as opposed to the description of specific, practical measures. But the practical measures need to be clearly and honestly stated. In this respect it is reported that Mr Clegg said yesterday “We have a moral duty to the next generation, to our children and grandchildren, to wipe the slate clean for them,” he said. “We have set out a plan, it lasts about 6 or 7 years, to wipe the slate clean, to rid people of that dead weight of debt that has built up over time.” The problem is this – it is simply not true that the slate will be wiped clean of debt in six or seven years. Furthermore the coalition is pursuing some policies that will make the situation worse than it already is – notably with respect to energy policy. Is there anyone in the coalition who understands the arithmetic of the national debt? Is there anyone who can point out to those nominally in charge of our affairs their apparent incomprehension of the national predicament? Such remarks do not inspire confidence that Mr Clegg knows what he is talking about.

    1. oldtimer
      May 9, 2012

      I see that Mr Clegg made his remarks in a tractor factory which, I recall, were notorious in days of yore as a source of dodgy production statistics in the USSR.

      Slightly, though not entirely, off topic Conservative Home has produced a link to an extremely interesting article on China to be found here:

      The machinations of the Chinese Communist party to control everything somehow reminded me of our very own EUrocracy. More seriously it does have implications for the Western business and political models and how they adapt to this new reality.

  26. Thomas E
    May 9, 2012

    It’s been Liberal Democrat policy for the last twenty years to seek the middle ground. It frankly hasn’t worked because all it does is expose you from attack from the left and right, and on average almost everyone disagrees with you.

    A better approach is to seek the right policies. Ones which, if implemented, would actually benefit the country.

  27. Robert Taggart
    May 9, 2012

    Common Ground be the battleground.

    Economic issues (public versus private) has been ceded to the right since ’79. Even allowing for Liebores ruinous expansion of the public sector.

    Social issues (benefits, equality, health, immigration) has been hogged by the left since ’45. This has only served to create a society ill at ease with itself.

    Taxation (big state versus small state – high / low) has boomeranged since 1900.

    Making Blighty solvent – both publicly and privately (too much consumer debt and too little personal saving) should be the defining battleground for the next c.ten years. Unpicking the Human Rights debacle could be another.

  28. Philip
    May 9, 2012

    Let’s not pretend that there is only an abuse of the term right-wing. Many on the ‘right’ can just as easily be accused of abusing the term ‘left-wing’ and lumping together Stalin, Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes and Gordon Brown.

  29. NickW
    May 9, 2012

    The Greek election has demonstrated what happens to the centre ground under the pressure of austerity, and that is what is affecting politics all over Europe to a greater or lesser extent.

    Part of the problem in Greece is that politicians are insulated from austerity and like some in our civil service, don’t even pay tax.

    The gap between rich and poor has become too great and the centre ground has reduced drastically as a result. Society has lost its cohesion.

    If austerity requires everybody to lose £100 peer year, that is catastrophe to someone living on the bread line, but of no consequence whatever to those earning six figure salaries.

    The vital question is this;

    “Under what circumstances are sky high salaries justified by the argument that the recipients are creating wealth which will benefit everyone?”

    If we truly are “All in this together”, then what has to happen is that those whose salaries and pensions are funded entirely by the taxpayer need to be capped immediately. These people have their hands in the pockets of the poor, and there can be no justification for paying public sector employees above the level of the Prime Minister, with publicly funded indexed final salary pensions on top. The public sector pension should be taxpayer funded up to a pension level equal to average salaries, and anything above that should be funded entirely by the employee.

    Allowing anyone in the public sector to evade taxes is simply corrupt. All public sector contracts must stipulate that the post is and must be subject to PAYE and that tax evasion will result in instant dismissal without compensation.

    A salary cap demonstrates “togetherness in austerity” far more effectively than penal taxation which serves only to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

    There is something to be said for taxing businesses and their employees at different levels according to their contribution to society. Those businesses which make money by being parasites on the economy should be taxed at higher levels than those which create wealth or provide essential services.

    Banks and their employees which support Industry by providing finance, and provide a service to the majority of the population through provision of cash machines and accounts should be taxed at a lower level than those businesses which make money by (very literally) gambling on the price of securities, equities and commodities. A forensic analysis of these (traders-ed) will reveal that on the whole, their wealth is being stripped out of the pockets of others and is by no means created out of thin air. The investment bankers salary is a driver of inequality.

    The measures I have outlined are preferable to revolution which is what will happen if social inequalities are not addressed.

    Communism or socialism are not the answer either as they merely serve to concentrate the wealth in the hands of the politicians and Senior Civil Servants, as (named individuals-ed) have so amply demonstrated. This point needs to be made repeatedly by the Conservatives.

    Russia’s revolution served only to change the cockerel on the top of the dung heap. The Russian people ended up more oppressed and poorer than they were under the Tsar.

    1. uanime5
      May 10, 2012

      While tax evasion is illegal the example you gave of using service contracts rather than PAYE is tax avoidance, making it legal in both the public and private sector. Though banning it in both would be a positive step forwards.

  30. sym
    May 9, 2012

    John, you’ve just been called “far right” by the moron presenting the Queen’s Speech festivities on BBC Parliament. In the context of discussing the “alternatives” put forward by yourself and your colleagues.

    Far right is fascism.

    Why it is acceptable for the BBC to do this kind of stuff? Are they Stalinists? Trotskysts? What the hell is going on?

  31. BYeltsin
    May 9, 2012

    Your comments about the western media’s (not just BBC) use of the term right-wing is very apt. I recall the 1991 attempted coup by arch-communists (and Gorbachov?) in the last days of the Soviet Union. Incredibly these men, clealry red in tooth and claw, were described as right-wing! It is obviously a term used by the western commentariat for anyone they don’t like.

  32. Alte Fritz
    May 9, 2012

    Mr Jutson writes of the NHS “its not free at all” . Agreed, and this is true of all public services. There is a mindset which looks upon take home pay as pocket money to spend on what Mum and Dad (aka the state) fail to provide. How on earth did we become so infantilised?

    I agree totally with Mr Redwood’s post. Left and right, if they ever meant anything, are dead, but, sadly, not buried. But if you believe that we need a state funded health service does that mean that it has to have a blank cheque book and be, in effect, beyond criticism?

    EU apart, a significant danger to democracy is a failure to have reasoned public debate. We do not have such debate via the BBC or elsewhere. The debate is, instead, informed by prejudice and ignorance. So where do we expect such a debate to go?

    After almmost 150 years of compulsory public education, this is truly sad.

  33. Susan
    May 9, 2012

    There is most certainly a right and a left, an example of this can found on here. Uanime5 is of the left and lifelogic is of the right. Then there are extremes on either side and in the centre are members of the public who will take any policy from right or left as long as it makes sense to them.

    The difficulty for Mr. Cameron is that during the Labour years the UK became much more socialist in outlook. He now has the difficult task of trying to satisfy both the expectations of traditional Conservative voters and the inherited socialist outlook that people gained during the Labour years for him to have broad appeal. Added to this problem he has a broken economy to deal with and the Lib/Dems to appease in the Coalition. At the moment he is pleasing no one including his own party. One of the problems Mr. Cameron had right from the start was of his own making, by saying things such as “we are all in this together” and “fairness”. What appears to be fair to one group of people will appear unfair to another. The economy of a Country takes no account of what is fair or whether people are in it together, it responds to the right action by Government. At the moment for instance, I believe the balance is wrong for the economy. Those who have worked hard and saved are being punished for a financial crisis not of their making. Those who have been irresponsible are being protected by Government. This sends out the message that being a responsible member of society is pointless, working hard to improve your lot will bring you nothing but more taxation.

    The UK no longer feels like a free democracy, the public feel stifled by the heavy hand of Government. Everything is controlled from what people eat, say or do, their life is no longer their own. Then the Government wonders why the public can no longer take responsibility for themselves and need a large state to do that for them.

  34. forthurst
    May 9, 2012

    There was a time when the centre ground lay between clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution and a retention of some private enterprise. There was a time when the centre ground included the unabridged right of trade union bosses and shop stewards to order a strike without warning and still less balloting and without having a trade dispute with an employer.

    The centre ground now includes putting the safety of our troops at risk in order to enhance the safety of a state whose actions if conducted by any other state on the planet would be the recipient of universal condemnation. The centre ground includes policies such as mass immigration which are designed to increase the likelihoods of the sorts of stories which are bread and butter for the DM but are ignored elsewhere.

    The centre ground is that batch of territory fought over by the treasonous backers of the major parties. It is nowhere near postion of the ‘silent majority’ who are not in any case silent, but merely unheard by an extremely small but extremely vociferous and unpleasant minority who believe they can dictate to everyone else what they should believe and what they should want and what they can say in public.

  35. Max Dunbar
    May 9, 2012

    Perhaps the word “datum” would be more accurate to describe what has up to now been called “centre ground”. The datum is very much fixed at present and acts as a powerful elastic restraint upon the actions of those who are considered to be conservative or of a “right wing” disposition.
    The mis-named BBC is certainly at the core of this elastic retraint.

  36. Robert Christopher
    May 9, 2012

    JR: Never have so many paid so much to partly pay for such a record high level of current public spending.

    “partly pay”! I admire your accuracy!

  37. Neil Craig
    May 9, 2012

    Getting the economy moving is, in peacetime, almost always the “centre ground” of politics, at least to the voters.

    Convince them that Economic Freedom + Cheap energy = Fast Growth and you will win (as long as you also convince them you intend to do it, rather than just spinning).

  38. Rebecca Hanson
    May 9, 2012

    I think centre ground is as much an abused and misunderstood term as right wing.

  39. i.stafford
    May 9, 2012

    I agree that support for political opinions in the electorate do not always plot a normal distribution curve with the centre represented by the top of the curve. There is however both a free market right – and a traditionalist authoritarian right (which is not the same as a statist authoritarianism on the left). However let us not overlook the authoritarianism of liberalism which takes no prisoners on issues such as human rights and European Federalism and in its opposition to matters relating to national identity.

  40. RDM
    May 9, 2012

    First; What a good/refreshing look at the state of play. Well done!

    ” Many civil liberties have been taken away in recent years in the name of counter terrorism and being tough on crime. Is the current level of surveillance, detention and restriction really the norm or the centre ground?”

    They have far more powers then we realize, even used by many local councils, Charities, etc …, and they will never stop pushing the boundaries! Coming up with all sorts of campaigns!

    And they don’t need it! What they need is Evidence!

    O, sorry, Human-Int is a lot more expensive, and CEOP will have to do some proper detective work, in the cold? Aaaa, bless!

    After the Olympics has finished; The MP’s need to look again, state clearly that no one has any Right to access without “Reasonable suspicion”, Evidence, and a Court Order! A set of Principles and Due Process of some sort?

    I hear DD(MP) has tree Principles we could use as a starting point?



  41. Julian
    May 9, 2012

    An aside re email surveillance – can you imagine the task of screening email in the UK?
    Sure you can use keywords and so on to track criminals but the state does not have the resources to look at the emails of more than a few hundred people a day. I get 50 emails a day and our businesses get say 100. To read those and the replies would take the same staff as our company employs! Thats without tweets, blog postings, Facebook, texts etc.

    1. RDM
      May 10, 2012

      Only the one’s they disagree with?

      Actually; something that many of you may not realize, is this new law will result in a step change in surveillance of the law abiding citizen, but will make NO (absolutely) difference to the criminals or terrorists! There are some many simple ways to hind communication, it’s absurd to suggest that you will have any idea! The answer is, and will always be, to directly survey the suspect and gather Evidence.

      MP’s need to start again! Why, because the problems are now being caused by capability creep! From Deep-packet inspection to Point to Point databases. And the real focus should be on Human-Int and Evidence.

      A technical Point; What would happen if an end point (of a VPN say) is within the USA?



  42. REPay
    May 9, 2012

    In our current parlous financial situation the middle way is saying – don’t do anything that might hurt us now. Lets hope something will happen to let us continue as we always have spending and borrowing. Lets not think about how close to the edge of catastrophe we are. Lets not acknowledge all the unfunded laibilities. Let us believe the great God Keynes (who would be appalled at the profilgacy of the last decades) means we can borrow a little bit more, debase our savings, and we never have to review what we did wrong.

    No, the centre can be the wrong place for the people – even if it is a comfortable place for politicians and people alike.

    1. StevenL
      May 9, 2012

      It was the other one – Mr Friedman – that came up with the QE you know. It’s the same with his theories though, we seem to think we can let the money supply rip at 15% per annum for a decade, the just sort everything out after the deflationary crash and it’ll all be OK.

      2% inflation during the Brown years? A decade when oil prices, gold prices and house prices all rose by a couple of hundred percent. Oh sorry, I forgot, house prices going up is not inflation is it?

  43. Denis Cooper
    May 9, 2012

    Off-topic, I’ve just submitted an e-petition which reads as follows:

    “That notwithstanding any provision of the European Union Act 2011 the planned European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill should include provision for a UK referendum on the relevant EU treaty change, that agreed by EU leaders through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011.”

    But as the FCO has to approve the e-petition before it can be published and opened for signatures, and as last August the FCO arbitrarily blocked the e-petition about it that I tried to start then, I won’t be surprised if the same thing happens again.

    1. Chris
      May 9, 2012

      Will you post the link as soon as it appears?

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 10, 2012

        Apparently the FCO has slipped up this time, because I’ve been notified that it’s here:

        I’d be grateful if you could spread it round.

        (If you have contact with UKIP, please ask them NOT to set up a competitor e-petition as has happened in the past; one is enough.)

        You may also be interested in this other e-petition, which the FCO allowed through last August while blocking the one about the EU treaty change agreed in March:

        “In view of the Foreign Secretary’s public claim that the European Union Act 2011 “hands back democratic control of the way the EU is developing to the British electorate”, in his article published in the Sunday Telegraph of July 24th 2011, the proposed accession of Croatia to the EU should be put to a national referendum, notwithstanding the restrictions on referendums laid down in that Act.”

  44. Winston Smith
    May 9, 2012

    The bookies have Labour as odds on as the largest party in 2015. Only 2yrs for real Conservatives to affect ‘change from within’. My money says you’ll get nowhere.

  45. uanime5
    May 9, 2012

    Left wing and socialist also seem to be used as a term of abuse by the wealthy who oppose any form of taxation or a Government large enough to stand up to them.

    Perhaps the best way to have more democracy in the UK is to have a voting system where MPs can’t be elected if they only have 30% of the votes. Maybe the House of Commons should adopt the mixed member proportional representation system used by the Scottish Parliament. This would ensure that the number of seats in the Commons each party has was the same as the percentage of votes they received, while still allowing people to elect their own MP.

    Given that income tax levels used to be over 80% I wouldn’t describe the current 50% tax rate, which only effects the richest 1%, as ‘at a high’.

    1. Geoff M
      May 9, 2012

      So why did Mr Brown not bring the 50% tax rate in his first budget in 1997?

      Why did Mr Brown not raise interest rates in 2004? After all he set up the members of the BoE committee.

      Selling the gold………..all so boring we have heard it so many times before up to now on this and many other blogs

    2. Lindsay McDougall
      May 11, 2012

      One version of a meritocracy is that the number of votes you get is proportional to the amount of income tax you paid in the previous financial year.

  46. Barbara Stevens
    May 9, 2012

    I’ve objected strongly to the BBC many times for their lack of fairness to all, a state funded service as a duty to do that. The PC took over the BBC, and the Guardian approved, and likewise that paper appears less democratic than others. We have seen however journalists repeatedly calling the BNP into question, without giving them the time and air time to speak. That is most unfair. Its when they debate policies we see through them and judge; we do that with all other parties. Lies have been printed about the BNP, and during the last Labour government this was rife which resulted in quite a few court cases being fought, and the BNP won. I’m no supporter of the BNP, but I like to see fair play and most of all I want to judge for myself. Some people have joined the party and once they get the jist of how they operate don’t renew their membership. That is how it goes with all of them. To label them ‘far right’ is silly, journalists and press alike should let the public decide. Every party sits where its comfortable, and adjusts its manifesto to suit their beliefs, its us the voters who decide if we follow. Simple.

  47. Bert Young
    May 9, 2012

    The Polls suggest that 60% 0f the electorate want us out of the reach of EU bureaucracy , this being the case , all parties who wish to capture popularity and support , should take the message on board and let democracy do the rest . Whether this is a right or left shift is academic . I have the view that Cameron is shy on such an approach because it will not go down well with the likes of Ken Clarke and he prefers to avoid the publicity of a confrontation . Compromise is not an option – 60% say so . Let a referendum decide .

  48. Denis Cooper
    May 9, 2012

    On the same off-topic topic, here’s another dodge by the FCO.

    Back in January I was able to read a FCO/Treasury Factsheet which included these words:

    “Subject to new ratification by all 27 Member States, both EFSM and EFSF will be replaced from July 2013 by:

    European Stability Mechanism (ESM)

    Permanent mechanism due to be established in 2013. For this to take place, the Treaty change must first be ratified by all 27 EU Member States. The 17 euro area members must then ratify the inter-governmental Treaty establishing the ESM.”

    Now that document is password protected and no longer available to the general public, while at the same time both the UK and Irish governments have started to pretend that somehow the EU treaty change agreed on March 25th 2011 is not really necessary for the ESM treaty to go ahead.

    If that’s the case, why bother with a Bill to approve it?

    1. Chris
      May 9, 2012

      On Sky tonight (reporting the Queen’s speech) was a subtitle saying that there would be a Bill before Parliament re the EFSF.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 10, 2012

        The government’s spin is propagated by the BBC here:

        “The UK will be exempt from a new European bailout agreement between eurozone countries under plans confirmed in the Queen’s Speech.”

        “… the government said its European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill would remove “any UK liabilities for future EU bailouts”.”

        The reality is that most of our present bailout liabilities rest upon the abuse of Article 122(2) TFEU; decisions taken under that article previously required unanimity but that was changed to QMV through the Nice Treaty; therefore even if Darling had wanted to keep us clear of involvement in the first illegal bailout of Greece he could not have done that by exercising a veto, but only by declaring that he would not accept the result of any vote because Article 122(2) TFEU was being abused; as the treaty change agreed on March 25th 2011 would not change Article 122(2) TFEU in any way, the same thing could happen again in the future if enough of the other EU member states wanted to do it again.

        Tory MP David Nuttall actually touched upon this during the Commons debate on whether to pre-authorise Cameron to agree to the EU treaty change, March 16th 2011 at Column 431 here:

        “Have we not missed an opportunity to include a specific provision to exclude the EFSM under article 122 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union to prevent it from being misused, as it was previously? The article specifies providing financial assistance in the case of “natural disasters” or “exceptional occurrences”. We should have spelt it out – it was our opportunity to do that.”

  49. John Bracewell
    May 9, 2012

    I have copied 2 items from Google searches and produce them below:
    Both are from BBC News. One is about the TIGHT London Mayoral election won bya Conservative and the other about a CLEAR VICTORY for a Socialist in the French Presidency election.

    What is the difference in the margins of victory………. just half of one per cent.
    This is an example of the subtle and often covert bias displayed in BBC reporting.
    BBC News for tight London Mayor contest
    London mayor: Boris Johnson wins second term by tight margin

    BBC News – Francois Hollande’s victory speech
    ► 14:29► 14:29
    French socialist Francois Hollande has won a clear victory in the country’s presidential election.

    1. chrispy
      May 9, 2012

      Given that Boris was predicted a 12% lead a few days before the election, his eventual winning majority was, indeed, “tight”. Given that Mssr Hollande and Sarkosy were running more or less neck and neck according to the polls, the victory there was indeed “clear”. Apply common sense, rather than your bias!

    2. sjb
      May 9, 2012

      Because Boris needed second preference votes to win?

    3. Bob
      May 9, 2012

      @John Bracewell

      That shows clear and unacceptable bias.

      Mr. Redwood, what can be done to prevent the BBC from continually breaching the Royal Charter?

      The viewing public should not be forced to pay for their own indoctrination.

      1. APL
        May 10, 2012

        Bob: “what can be done to prevent the BBC from continually breaching the Royal Charter?”

        1. Privatize it and remove the BBCs prevelidged tax raising power.

        2. We live in the Internationalist European State, the Royal Charter means nothing.

        As in fact Mr Redwood admitted a month or so ago, there has been a revolution in the United Kingdom, the politicians have overthrown the Crown. They govern in their own interest now.

        1. APL
          May 14, 2012

          APL: “They [politicians] govern in their own interest now.”

          And the recent Queens speech included Mr Clegerons pledge to ‘reform the constitution.

          Cameron, Miliband and the other fellow, between then achieved the popular support of less than one third of the voting population. Cameron and the other fellow between then lost what support they had managed to scrape together at the last election.

          These people think they have a mandate to meddle with the constitution?

  50. Acorn
    May 9, 2012

    Listening to the Queens speech I am not impressed. I may be swimming against the tide here but I am wondering how Cam is going to pump newly created money into the economy without the opposition noticing. I think we can now agree that “austerity” is a busted flush, a spiral of decline like a plane in a staled spin toward the ground. If you ever wanted evidence about the integrity of modern monetary theory (MMT) then the the Eurozone is proving it in a real time experiment.

    Unfortunately, the coalition has come to power with economic theories that belong to the seventies. Likewise the revising Lords wisdom is always at least two decades out of date. Have a listen to the following, it just might bring some new thinking onto this site. A daily rant about tax-spend-waste may make some feel better but it does not get us very far toward a practical solution to our economic problems. .

  51. Bazman
    May 9, 2012

    The only thing I hate more than Conservatives is Liberals to use an old joke. Hitler and Stalin were both sides of the same coin. Are you right or left wing if you believe the state should be rolled aback with no support for the ones left behind. None left behind? Silly fantasy. Ram it.

    1. APL
      May 14, 2012

      Bazman: “Hitler and Stalin were both sides of the same coin.”

      It’s not an old joke, they were both extreme forms of socialism.

  52. Christopher Ekstrom
    May 9, 2012

    I am surprised that you got so little response from this post. You took the time to outline the essential dilemma; what can be added is the Kultursmog problem. A witty American came up with this term to describe the effects of PC on the general state of political discourse. If you will acknowledge that certain prejudices are healthy (heterosexual family, Religion, free speech) then you must note (even on JR’ s blog, sad to say) the profound saturation of the Kultursmog in the crumbling U.K.. One is not permitted to point out (gives an example-ed)

  53. Electro-Kevin
    May 9, 2012

    The three major parties fighting over the centre ground = 70% of the electorate staying at home.

    Should governments seek the centre ground ?

    Well the electorate certainly doesn’t seem to think so and they are absolutely right.

  54. Frances Matta
    May 9, 2012

    Nadine Dorries was right in her own way. There are far too many young girls (having several babies-ed) to get the benefits. They do not appear on the NEET register but they are everywhere here.
    David Cameron probably doesn’t know the price of milk but these types know how to breed to get everything on “benefits”. And so it goes on and on.

  55. Iain Gill
    May 9, 2012

    had to laugh at Cameron today

    telling us all to buy British farm produce and not foreign

    why doenst he tell british business to hire british IT staff instead of flooding the country with foreign work visa holders?

    double standards?

    yep its not a left or right wing issue its a basic competance issue as much as anything

  56. Chris
    May 9, 2012

    No, they should not seek the centre ground, and Cameron’s dogged pursuit of the centre ground is the reason for his demise. Unfortunately, neither he, nor his advisers, have the common sense or wisdom to see this. I thought the publicity stunt at the Essex factory revealed the shallowness of David Cameron, and I was angered by the apparent contempt he was showing for the intelligence of the electorate. We do not like spin and staged events geared to what CHQ apparently thinks the voters want to see and hear i.e focusing on the mythical centre ground.
    We want bold, plain talking, based on a sound and recognisable Conservative ideology, and aboe all we want action. I suspect, however, that all this will be overshadowed by the revelations of the Leveson inquiry this week, and the crucial issue of having a Conservative leader who actually represents Conservative ideology will be kicked into the proverbial long grass.

  57. Chris
    May 9, 2012

    I note that other people posting are having problems with moderation of comments for no apparent reason. Puzzled (and concerned).

  58. JimF
    May 9, 2012

    It’s not really a question of centre ground. Governments should seek to govern for the long term benefit of the Country, not for short term expediency. In the short term, and in line with the fact of human greed, goverments would borrow as much as possible and use part of those borrowings to pay back the interest. As a long term goal, this is nonsensical and actually the population enjoys less material benefit than they would have done had the government not borrowed. Unless there is a culture of sacrifice now for the future, as our parents and grandparents experienced in WW2, then we are on a downhill slope. At least Labour are honest in their intentions to live now and pay later. Cameron perversely preaches sacrifice but lives the dream, pays the welfare bill, has an easy life. Perghaps Greece is the first in a stack of cards, and the UK is pushing its way up the pack, not down it.

  59. Trevor Butler
    May 9, 2012

    We’ve had the tractor factory now we await the announcement of the 5 year plan.

  60. zorro
    May 9, 2012

    I prefer the libertarian – authoritrian spectrum as it quite rightly lumps left/right socialists where they belong with their busybody authoritarianism.

    I am firmly of the belief that the War on Terror tm is an expensive con which is purely being used as a way of expanding US influence (supplying the military/industrial complex) and sowing seeds of disorder which can be reaped in slower time.

    It was interesting to see DC being interviewed today claiming how much the small Lib Dems are stopping him doing anything of consequence, and how he so wants to lead a Conservative only government….Is this the red meat he was proposing? If so John, I would send it back with the waiter…..

    If he couldn’t beat Gordon ‘Jonah’ Brown’s Labour Party after the unholy mess they had made of the economy in 2010, he doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of beating them and winning a majority in 2015. Is he deluding himself? I doubt it…. no-one could have performed that weakly in the debates on purpose and be so excited with the compromise reached in the Rose Garden at no.10.

    Is he unable to exert his influence as PM with such a large party vote to get the right measures through in the face of the Lib Dem vote? He has not even tried to force the issue, which makes his statement today even more tenuous.


  61. David Langley
    May 9, 2012

    “Its all a great meaningless muddle”, well JR the more you try and do the less likely you are to succeed. I think if you took all the money we make in Taxes you still would not achieve your government targets.
    The solution then is to cost out the main planks of your responsibilities. These should be limited to major things like security, health, education. You could imagine what falls within those three headings alone. The remainder should be dealt with by major unitary councils, with councillors elected by the communities. Local taxes can be used to fund all the requirements of the electorate which could of course differ from region to region. I think most people do not care or understand what left centre right means in a political sense. It is possible to have positive feelings about elements of each. Doing what is right to create a feeling of positive health and satisfaction about ones ability to live a good life is what is most important. We do not really have long in this life to be productive and leave a better legacy for our children. Having the possibility to influence and develop this is my most important and current preoccupation. Not wondering about left right left right.

  62. Matthew
    May 9, 2012

    Yes left-wing and right-wing – you can on only measure on one axis – very few things that can be measured on that basis – temperature for example.

    People and views and politics are multi-dimensional

  63. Steven Whitfield
    May 10, 2012

    The common ground NOT the centre ground is what a wiser Conservative party should seek in my view . Cameron’s greatest failing after agreeing to form a coalition with the Lib Dems is in moving the centre leftward by parking his party firmly on it.

    I’m old enough to remember what today would pass as the ‘centre ground’ being called the ‘loony left’ – keeping benefit claimants in luxury houses, huge spending on foreign aid and massive foreign intervention programmes are all tired old left wing policies. There are peeps of protest but both main party’s broadly agree with these policies.

    No doubt this was done in part to marginalise Mp’s like John Redwood by portraying them, by comparison, as ‘right wing extremists’ .

    This group should resist at all costs attempting to shift they’re political position in line with the new landscape by deliberately seeking to endorse political issues beloved of the left ie, fair trade issues, gagging the immigration debate etc. Britain will only start to recover as soon as the centre ground is put back in it’s rightful place.

    I’m sure David Cameron is personally very pleasant and good company etc. but he needs to move or be moved on by the 1922 comittee- the change needed will never happen with him as PM.I suspect most Conservative Mp’s know this instinctively but for one reason or another refuse to acknowledge this publically. At the moment they seem punch drunk by a series of disasters but hopefully one will have a moment of clarity and see that Cameron must go.

    Perhaps some Mp’s might cast their minds back to 1996 when the party clung onto a floundering John Major – another non Conservative PM, and find the courage……The alternative could well be another 13 years out of office on the ducking stool – some sections of the public may not like the policy’s but what everyone really despises is a party that discards it’s core beliefs and principles.

    1. uanime5
      May 10, 2012

      Given that former Conservative leaders William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, and Michael Howard all took the Conservatives sharply to the right and all three were total failures at the ballot box it would be unwise for Cameron to move any further to the right.

      1. Steven Whitfield
        May 10, 2012

        That line was foolishly accepted by the party leadership but it is quite incorrect in my view.

        I don’t recall much that could be described as particularly ‘right wing’ about the administration’s of Duncan -Smith, Howard and Hague. In his rather shambolic campaign, Micheal Howard said ‘it’s not racist to talk about immigration’ . From stating a very obvious point that most people agree with we are all supposed to assume he dragged the party sharply of to the right.

        New Labour seemed to have performed the miracle of ‘abolishing boom and bust’ by creating a mirage of wealth from privately and publically borrowed money. Few were prepared to listen then to the Conservatives.

        Now the situation is completely different and the people want a change but have found that the Conservative Party is now just another party of the left.

  64. Kenneth
    May 10, 2012

    John, to answer your question, yes, I think governments should (in general) seek the centre ground. However, if the centre ground has been poisoned and signposted as ‘out of bounds’ then nobody wants to go there.

    Politicians who need votes need the media. Mainstream broadcast media is dominated by a left of centre mindset which it has relabelled as ‘centre ground’ (while labelling politics it dislikes as ‘right wing’, as you suggest).

    Mass media promotion of left-of-centre politics means that those politicians who want a platform (that is, a tv or radio studio) must be BBC–friendly. Thus, politicians are huddled on a very small platform, trying to out-nuance each other while always staying within the confines of the BBC/Guardian/Sky News mindset.

    In my opinion those who still support our membership of the eu are extremists and those who wish to borrow yet more money in order to waste it are also extremists.

    If we had a fair media set up in the UK (and Europe in general, for some continental broadcasters are even worse then the BBC), the obvious logic of living within our means would be seen as mainstream; the obvious logic of not giving up our democracy to a foreign quango would be mainstream as well.

    However, if you hold these modest and sensible views you are marginalised.

    Bring back the 14-day rule!

    1. uanime5
      May 10, 2012

      So you consider Osborne an extremist for borrowing more money than Brown?

      1. Kenneth
        May 10, 2012

        Yes, the amount of borrowing by the current government is extreme. In fact, it borders on madness.

  65. lojolondon
    May 10, 2012

    You raise a very good point here, John – The fact is that every day, everything the Conservatives do is pilloried by the state-owned media who are really a mouthpiece for Labour. The Biased BBC is against reform of schools (ask Gove) against reform of the NHS (ask Langley), against every suggestion and initiative that the government comes up with.

    The BBC is totally socialist, against any aspect of capitalism, all their messages are pro-Obama and anti-Republican, pro-Palestine and anti-Israel, pro-Labour and anti-Conservative, pro-‘global warming theory, pro-strikes and revolution and pro-EU (who partly funds them!!!)

    What they are most against is any threat against their monopoly, which is why every broadcast for the last 10 or more weeks has included the Leveson Inquiry and allegations, proven or not, against Murdoch. Most people, do not care less.

    But, as for the NEWS, the BBC is totally incapable of bringing us up to date with the real world. For example, try to find any mention of the Dutch and Romanian governments being brought down in the last 10 days, it has been lightly touched on and glossed over – as it would be hard to avoid criticism of the EU.

    They are totally out of touch with their listeners and unfit as a source of news, and should lose public funding ASAP.

    1. APL
      May 10, 2012

      lojolondon: cites multiple failures of the BBC, yet the government has had two years and done nothing about the orginisation.”

  66. lojolondon
    May 10, 2012

    PS -at 8:45 I took a look at the BBC news website – headlines are :

    Public sector strikes
    Deadly blasts hit Syrian capital
    Report criticising Heathrow queues
    Obama supports same-sex marriage
    Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon dies
    Coulson to give Leveson evidence

    So four out of six support my message above, not really news, but inserted there to send a message.

    1. APL
      May 10, 2012

      last night I was watching a retrospective of the ’70 & ’80 on the BBC.

      Paraphrasing the BBC somewhat: Arthur Scargill had a very similar philosophy to Margaret Thatcher, ‘Take what you can get’.

      If I had to encapsulate the the Thatcher philosophy, it would be very different more, ‘keep what you can make’, perhaps.

      Thatcher, essentially constructive. Scargill essentially destructive.

      1. Mike Fowle
        May 10, 2012

        That sounds like the programme based on Dominic Sandbrook’s histories of the 1970s (State of Emergency and Seasons in the Sun). I am reading these at the moment and it is instructive to see how the BBC (whether by editorialising or whatever – even though Sandbrook present the programmes) subtly change his emphasis. If you read them he is very even handed and often makes the point that the evils that the left attribute to Thatcher were all around before (of course they were). Recommended reading.

  67. Robert K
    May 10, 2012

    Oh, and I forgot to repeat the hoary old line: “the trouble about being in the middle of the road is that you are likely to get run over”. Just because it’s wrong doesn’t mean it’s wrong, though.

  68. Derek W
    May 11, 2012

    Having lived through the swings and roundabouts of evil Right Wing and evil Left Wing with Hitler and Stalin of the examples given. Let us get back to the use of the adjectives Extremist , Violent,Sinister to describe the attributes of not only the usual Rights and Lefts but to the so called moderates and little l Liberals

  69. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    May 13, 2012

    I am not surprised that the BBC enjoys labelling people Right Wing or Left Wing.

    Is it possible that the BBC believes that it needs to simplify the World inorder for us simple folk to understand. Unfortunately, they simply their stories and explanations to such an extent that they no longer make sense and cause even more confusion. It is then let up to us – as individuals, to find out the relevant information ourselves.

    BBC standards have appeared to reduce dramatically in the last few years.

    The BBC is no longer a benchmark of excellence for other Broadcasters. Their educational service “The Learning Zone” is supposed to help teach the younger members of our population how the World works. Instead, they portray misinformation as if it were based on facts and reality when it appears that the Presenters just make it up as they go.

    If the BBC cannot communicate correct information to the public then what use is it except as Entertainment without adverts ?

    Example one:
    Stephanie Flanders explanation of QE stated that “The Bank of England creates money at the press of a button, as only a Central Bank can”. The “as only a Central Bank can” was removed from the explanation in a subsequent reworking of it after the BBC realised that Private Banks create money all the time.

    Old Version:
    (with “as only a central bank can”)

    Revised Version:
    (with “as only a central bank can” phrase removed)

    Example Two:
    Robert Peston’s clip “How do Banks Work”
    This wrongly assumes that Banks act as intermediaries between Depositors and Borrowers. This is aimed at A-Level Economics students. Robert Peston frequently comments on Banking and Finance in the Business World but does not seem to understand how a Bank works. How can we rely on the BBC for accurate information if they don’t understand how things work?

    The BBC is portrayed as an authority on the truth – this is very dangerous as they clearly get their facts wrong.

  70. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    May 14, 2012

    Mr Redwood,

    I agree with you that stereo typing groups by the BBC is a mistake but the real mistake is that we all seem to accept the BBC’s word as gospel. The BBC was threatened with funding cuts a few years ago when they had the audacity to broadcast a legitimate story, which affected Tony Blair and his Rottweiler press secretary.

    “They tend to lump Hitler, anti German neo Nazis in Greece, fundamentalist clerics, and UK Conservatives they don’t like all under the same term of abuse, as right wing.” – one thing I don’t quite understand is why NAZIs are regarded as Right Wing.

    NAZIs were Nationalialsozialist (National Socialist) – they were not
    “National Conservatives” as far as I can remember. If they are to be lumped into a group surely they should be put firmly in the Left Wing club with Tony Blair, another Socialist who loved marching into other peoples Countries and causing mayhem and chaos, along with closer ties between Goverment and Corporations. These are all Left Wing traits.

    I wouldn’t advocate passing any laws to stop the BBC labelling people as Right or Left wing as they seem to have enough restrictions placed on them already as far as broadcasting truth, facts and balanced opinions.

    [Nice Comment about the BBC added to balance comment]
    ‘I think that Prince Charles’s Weather Report was worth the price of the TV License alone. Well done the BBC.’

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