Patronage and Conservative rebellions


          As we saw yesterday, many Conservative MPs find themselves in disagreement with Coalition policies, because they have not seen them as Conservative friendly policies. Much of the opposition to Lords reform stemmed from principle, and from support for the Conservative party’s former position on the topic. Support for a referendum comes both from personal  conviction  and from the strong support for it from party members and local voters. Opposition to items like HS2 is often fuelled by local constituency pressures.

          There are also personal issues that can influence people to rebel. There is certainly a strong strand of whipping which believes that patronage, the ability of the party and government to offer jobs, can be a useful way of reducing or dissipating dissent. Whilst much of the dispute has been based on a clash of ideas in grand twentieth century manner, some of it can also be explained like eighteenth century Parliaments in terms of grouping of interests.  So why hasn’t patronage  worked this time round?

          The whips would say it is another price of the  Coalition. There are fewer Ministerial jobs for Conservatives, as the Lib Dems took a good slice of them. This, however, is understood by MPs and is not the sole reason there has been so little effective use of patronage. The truth is, the patronage available has been used in a very skewed way, leading to more annoyance by a growing large band of rebels. Badly used patronage can make things worse rather than calm them down. Government has patronage that extends well beyond Ministerial jobs.

          Let’s consider the patronage offered to a very small and unrepresentative group of Conservatives, that very small group of  former Cabinet Ministers who still want the UK to be fully involved with the EU as it changes and becomes more powerful.  Chris Patten was given the Chairmanship of the BBC, Lord Heseltine was asked to prduce a  semi official report on how to grow the economy and given governemnt resources to produce it, and Ken Clarke was made first Lord  Chancellor and subsequently Minister without portfolio.  This use of substantial patronage on such a small group has not only upset various MPs, but has given UKIP coverage to make claims based on these appointments. It has offset some of  the impact of the veto over the Fiscal Treaty and the pledge to repatriate the criminal justice powers, which pleased Eurosceptic Conservatives.

           Let’s also consider the last reshuffle. No MP who had voted against the government  from the new intake was allowed a Ministerial job.As more than half of them had voted against at some point, including many of the most talented with a contribution to make, it was always going to be a decision which increased the rebelliousness of MPs.  If one open  rebellion bans you, why not start to vote on more issues in the way you wish rather than agreeing with the Coalition  whip?

          It would be  bad management to create a large group of people who feel they are outsiders. They have causes enough to pursue, and will do so endlessly if they feel that the management of the party does not like them and has no wish to employ them or to accommodate some of their views. Major parties are coalitions within themselves.  Eurosceptic and anti Lords reform viewpoints are the predominant part of the Conservative coalition in the country, but are not properly represented in the appointments made. It is also the case that too many Ministers are still allowing officials to make appointments in the old mould, as if there had been no change of government. This undermines further the reasonable and permissible patronage a government usually wields.


  1. Nina Andreeva
    November 5, 2012

    Mensch left, it is reported, because she felt she was entitled to become a minister within two years of becoming an MP ffs. However who can blame her? Jeremy Hunt makes it into the cabinet within five years of becoming an MP and you talk about the malign effects of patronage?

    Reply Mrs Mensch said she left because she wishes to live in the USA for family reasons. 150 new MPs cannot all be Ministers after two years!

    1. Richard1
      November 5, 2012

      What the nomination of Mrs Mencsh as a Conservative candidate shows is the limitation of promoting glamour and ‘diversity’ at the expense of real long term commitment to Conservativism.

      1. lifelogic
        November 5, 2012

        It shows the idiotic approach of Cameron’s government by superficial PR and fashion.

        1. John Doran
          November 6, 2012

          Style over Substance.
          Could be a definition of Cameron, or his Epitaph.

    2. Disaffected
      November 5, 2012

      Cameron’s poor judgment has led to crisis after crisis, all self-induced. We now have a system where students can have the best places at university with lower grades, equality legislation (misnomer if ever there was) now allows ethnic minority and women to be promoted over their counter parts not based on merit or the best person for the job. So merit and the best people will not succeed in the public service.

      People on welfare have better houses and standard of living than low paid people and are given incentives to have more children to increase their income. And their feral children cost us more in taxes. Strivers find it hard to get on the property ladder and find child care costs.

      Cameron and Clegg also borrow and give away more on overseas aid than they spend on policing in the UK. They borrow and spend more on the EU contribution than all the cuts they make in the UK. Add together the overseas aid and EU contribution and it is difficult to understand most of their policy decisions based on economics. The same applies to the HS2 project when you look at the congestion on the M5/6, M! M25, Heathrow Airport capacity, or the total chaotic mess of the energy policy. We need power stations to be built for energy now and stop the green EU nonsensical targets.

      Clearly I have not received the best education money can buy, like them. My father has not provided me a silver platter so I can glide through life without a worry how to pay my bills (energy bills subsidising stupid wind farms) and look after my family, like them. I have not had the old boy connections to get on in life, like them. But I do understand that they simply do not have a clue on the basics of fairness, that you need to spend less than you earn, charity begins at home anything left can be given to the less fortunate and that policy decisions should be based on sound ethical premise. If you are going to be embarrassed by anything you do, don’t do it.

      Cameron and Clegg two rich boys without a clue who are an embarrassment and they need to go ASAP.

      1. lifelogic
        November 5, 2012

        I tend to agree, but there is some justification in judging on potential rather than actual achieved grades. Someone with AAB for a lousy school and (parents who cannot help him) may well have more potential than someone with A*A*A* from Eton and with parents who can.

        It can be measured too, just by comparing the entry grade at admission with the later results achieved at university.

        I am not so sure why people should get grants or state assistance just to study subjects that are basically hobbies or religions though. Climate change, for example or Anglo Saxon, surely they can do this using their own money and spare time.

        1. Disaffected
          November 5, 2012

          There in lies the problem for the race to the bottom. After time the talented students will not bother because the system will be skewed against them. The answer is to improve secondary education or better still bring back grammar schools, not reduce standards to fit government incompetence. After 15 years of promised education, education and billions of pounds spent, Cameron and Clegg’s answer is to lower university standards!!

          EU students do not pay tuition fees in Scotland. Scottish students do not pay either. How do you think the administrators balance their books to cover the costs on those students who pay and those who do not? How do they keep their coveted grades in the university league tables if entry was based on people not paying fees? I suggest some part of their decision is based on race (which race is eligible to pay which is not) and that, as I understand it is discrimination- despite all their equality babble.

          If the UK can borrow and give away about £28 billion pounds (EU and overseas aid) then it can afford to pay for our UK students, or elderly care or police service, or military. There are many things that are a greater priority for the citizens of the country over the EU and overseas aid. These are choices made by Cameron and Clegg. They prefer to borrow and give away taxpayers’ money expecting us to pay for their wasteful decisions by our taxes.

          1. lifelogic
            November 6, 2012

            You are not reducing standards, on the contrary, you might actually be improving them by taking people with AAA from a bog standard comp rather than A*A*A from Eton.

            Universities should judge potential, as I think many do. Then monitor the results, when they actually graduate to see how much adjustment for bad schooling is needed.

            Yes improve the schools too by all means.

        2. Richard1
          November 6, 2012

          That would be very unfair on the hard working Etonian with 3 A*s, always to be told that he only got anywhere because his parents are rich! Not a very Conservative thought. Many university subjects, even sciences, are of little practical use in subsequent employment. its about intellectual training. The best way is to let the market decide.

  2. Adam5x5
    November 5, 2012

    No MP who had voted against the government from the new intake was allowed a Ministerial job.

    Indeed, it is a part of this government’s failure that Cameron has only surrounded himself with people like himself – pro-EU, pro-spending, only giving lip service to Conservative values.
    And then there is surprise at rebellions and decreasing popularity?
    People may not like a decision, but they should be listened to and allowed to put their point of view across. On some topics Cameron (notably the EU) comes across as a small child with their fingers stuck in their ears going “La, la, la, la, can’t hear you! La, la, la, la! I know what’s best! La, la ,la!”

    But hey, I must be wrong, because Iain Duncan Smith says that Cameron has taken a tough stance on Europe…

    Doesn’t seem like it to me. But there was a pat that caught my eye.

    Asked whether Mr Cameron would be bringing forward proposals for a referendum, Mr Duncan Smith pointed out that the premier was due to make a key speech on Europe in the coming weeks.
    “The Prime Minister has said he is not against a referendum. It is just a matter of when and on what. We are looking at that at the moment,” he said.

    The first hints of a referendum? Is Cameron about to give us all what we’ve been after for a long time? Or is this just more smoke and wind?
    I would get hopeful, but Cameron no longer has the benefit of the doubt and will probably disappoint.

  3. lifelogic
    November 5, 2012

    Indeed it is a very foolish approach by Cameron. He will bury the Tories in 2015, perhaps for three + terms again, just as the disaster John Major did.

  4. ian wragg
    November 5, 2012

    Reply to reply. I prefer her husbands version that she knew she hadn’t a snowball in hells chance of getting re-elected. The family time thing is a diversion.
    Pretty much like Cameroon who is going to get tough with Europe after the next election. He knows he won’t be in a position to influence things after suffering a catastrophic defeat.

  5. NickW
    November 5, 2012

    Particularly when there are multiple crises for the Government to navigate through, the country expects the PM to appoint the most talented and suitable candidate for each job.

    If Clegg and Cameron can’t even agree on that basic principle neither of them is fit to govern.

  6. Leslie Singleton
    November 5, 2012

    John–You are so right about Clarke, Heseltine and Patten, and don’t forget Kinnock, all of whom should have been permanently put out to grass long ago. Thank God we are a Monarchy, absent which one of these or their like would be Head of State.

    1. Little White Sqibba
      November 5, 2012

      …absent which one of these….

      1. Leslie Singleton
        November 5, 2012

        Unsure what you are asking with the question marks but, if it helps, the “which” relates back to “Monarchy”, absent which (forgive repetition), as I say, some old has been and/or failed politician would be Head of State.

  7. Alan Wheatley
    November 5, 2012

    I believe Jesse Norman, who is Conservative MP in the constituency adjacent to where I live, has voted against the government, and has had a forthright disagreement with David Cameron. He has been nominated for the award of Parliamentarian of the Year, so it will be interesting to see how he is judged by his fellow MPs.

  8. Alan Wheatley
    November 5, 2012

    “It is also the case that too many Ministers are still allowing officials to make appointments in the old mould, as if there had been no change of government. This undermines further the reasonable and permissible patronage a government usually wields.”

    This is referring to something outside my knowledge, so to be able to understand the point it would help to know:-

    (1) are these appointments within the Civil Service?

    (2) what is “the old mould”?

    (3) If the Civil Service is party neutral, why does a change of government have any impact?

    (4) What is “reasonable and permissible” patronage?

  9. alan jutson
    November 5, 2012

    Your last two days postings have a number of things in common John

    Bad management, a poor understanding of human nature, and a lack of willingness to understand another point of view.

    Given that all of the above are poor, is it any wonder that not only your Party Mp’s are getting upset, but so are your traditional voting supporters.

    The fact is Mr Cameron has lost the plot, and he will pay for that eventually.

    1. Martyn
      November 5, 2012

      No, not so, for it is we the common herd who shall eventually pay for it all. Mr C is iron-clad in terms of income security and will be unaffected by the collapse of ordinary people’s income and lifestyle.

  10. Richard1
    November 5, 2012

    I quite understand why Ken Clarke is still in the cabinet. He has huge experience amongst a leading group of Conservatives who have very little, was an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequor and is one of the Party’s best communicators, especially with non-Conservative voters. A witch hunt against Ken Clarke for his pro-EU views will make a majority Conservative Govt next time less likely.

    1. Boudicca
      November 5, 2012

      It’s aba ba ba ba bout time he was retired. He got every single ‘call’ on the EU and the Euro wrong.

      1. Disaffected
        November 5, 2012

        He has opposed the Bill of Rights that Cameron promised us and is reportedly preventing any change from the ECHR. He falls asleep on the job. No, Soft on crime Clarke should go.

    2. Jane
      November 5, 2012

      I agree – thank you.

    3. APL
      November 5, 2012

      Richard1: “Party’s best communicators, especially with non-Conservative voters. ”

      A talent he amply demonstrated when the Tories were out of power, and he tried to wrangle some patronage with Tony Blair’s administration.

  11. APL
    November 5, 2012

    JR: “This use of substantial patronage on such a small group has not only upset various MPs, but has given UKIP coverage to make claims based on these appointments.”

    I am not a UKIP member! But it has been obvious as much by who isn’t in the Cabinet as who is, the direction this ‘EUrosceptic‘ leader chooses to lead the party.

    It is also a tradegy that a salary of £64,000 per year (putting a backbench MP in the top 10% of wage earners ) plus generous expenses plus numerous other public funded allowances, isn’t sufficient for the modern MP.

    It’s also a pity you didn’t mention that perhaps the power of patronage is too great. I don’t suggest that it should be transferred to the Commons, although some undoubtedly should, but that the extent and reach of government patronage is far too great and should be cut back.

  12. JoolsB
    November 5, 2012

    Patronage aside, if I was a Tory MP, I would feel that unless I was a member of Cameron’s inner circle of pals, often seen on the outside as a clique of privileged elite and out of touch with the real word, I would think there’s no chance of getting one of the top jobs so may as well rebel anyway.

    If Cameron had any sense and wasn’t determined on losing the Conservatives the next election, he would introduce some experienced talent into his cabinet, a Mr. Redwood and Davies spring to mind, even Mr. Bone (with Mrs. Bone’s blessing of course) as well as introducing some of the talent from the 2010 intake. He should make room for them by getting rid of some of his ineffective friends and reduce the number of LibDem Ministers which are far too many for their numbers anway. No Lib Dem Minister should have a portfolio for England since the Tories won a convincing mandate in England in 2010. The Lib Dems should be given the unpopular international aid porfolio so they can get the blame for it and Cable should be given the Irish office to replace the token Villiers and Business given to Mr. Redwood instead.

    Time to start putting the Lib Dems in their place. They like their Ministerial cars too much to go anywhere and if they do, finally run a minority government for a few months trying to introduce some real Conservative policies for a change before going to the country. Of course to do any of this, our Liberal PM will have to be replaced also.

    1. uanime5
      November 5, 2012

      As long as the Conservatives don’t have a majority they need the Lib Dems more than the Lib Dems need the Conservatives. If the Conservatives followed your advice and the Coalition broken down then they would be repeatedly defeated in the Commons by the Lib-Labour alliance.

      Reply The Lib Dems are the believers in coalition government, so I think their need is greater. There is little need of new legislation now, reducing the need for votes.

      1. zorro
        November 5, 2012

        Reply to reply – I agree, but I also think that Cameron could have have made more of an effort in trying to lead a Conservative government but rely on some Lib Dems voting for appropriate measures….maybe offering a couple of ministerial posts in the Government to them, and potentially going to the country again after a year if it hadn’t worked out.


      2. uanime5
        November 6, 2012

        The Lib Dems may be prepared to cause major problems for the coalition by preventing boundary reforms until 2018.

    2. Kenneth R Moore
      November 5, 2012

      I think Conservative Mp’s should be worried – Mr Cameron is indifferent to the outcome of the 2015 general election. He will cry the same crocodile tears that John Major did when he sunk the ship in 1997 over his spiteful policies on the EU

      Either way, his Liberal agenda will be furthered whatever the outcome. Wise backbenchers would be doing themselves and this country a service if they acted to remove him or atleast test his hand to force him to change position.

      1. lifelogic
        November 6, 2012

        He must have accepted losing in 2015 as he his clearly aiming to drive the party over the cliff (for 3 terms or so) perhaps in return for a nice EU job and an EU pension of top of his PM’s one.

        What other explanation is there?

        1. sm
          November 6, 2012

          Losing in 2015?

          If you are a europhile and accept ever closer union what difference does it make? Essentially a subordinate regional election in a largely irrelevant talking shop?

          Liblabcon makes no difference regarding the EU?

          Losing would be a true eurosceptic parliament willing to exercise its sovereign rights and exit or repatriate powers independently.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    November 5, 2012

    This patronage just gives more credence to the widely held belief that MPs are mainly interested in their own careers. What happened to principles, honesty and integrity? Or have politicians never held those values and virtues?

    1. lifelogic
      November 6, 2012

      Well looking at the expense claims about half clearly have no honesty and integrity. Some of the rest turned a blind eye to what was going on too.

  14. David in Kent
    November 5, 2012

    It is not only in parliament that patronage is valuable and important in carrying the media and the country with us . Labour went on a march through the institutions and every opportunity must be taken to reverse it in the 2-3 years remaining of this parliament. In addition to the BBC, we need conservatives in charge of the Forestry Commission, the Charity Commissioners, National Trust etc.

  15. Mike Stallard
    November 5, 2012

    One reason for the growth of the all caring and very bossy state could perhaps be the enormous number of regularly changed ministers each determined to leave their legacy to a grateful nation.
    I deeply regret that our own MP, Stephen Barclay,who looked so very promising,has decided to join the people who voted with the government, so the Walpole system of patronage seems to work at least with him.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      November 5, 2012

      In answering questions to the Select Committee enquiring into the West Coast Main Line Franchise Bid the Secretary of State said that he was the fifth person to head up the DfT over the relevant period.

  16. English Pensioner
    November 5, 2012

    Once it becomes clear that an MP is not going to get promotion, they have no incentive whatsoever to follow the party whips if they feel that it is contrary to their personal views or constituents’ interests.
    Cameron has no idea of man-management, one rule of which is that (unless someone is totally useless) you never tell anyone they’ll never get promoted. You need to keep peoples’ hopes alive, and for sixty odd MPs he has failed.

    1. Mike Stallard
      November 5, 2012

      The real question must be this – what is the House of Commons for?
      If it is control the executive by supervising their taxation and spending, then perhaps it might be better off with more representatives and fewer executives. At the moment it seems that the main object of our representatives is to join the executive!

  17. Martin Ryder
    November 5, 2012

    This all begs the question: what are MPs for? Are they in Parliament to represent their constituents and to hold the government to account or are they simply a pool of human resources that can be fished in for ministers.

    Actually no one person can represent all of the people in his/her constituency; people are very diverse and have a multitude of ideas about what should be done in the country and in their constituency. There is no way that an MP can know what everyone wants, though blogging does allow for much more transparency, all he/she can do is set out their own stall and see who signs up for it. How my conservative MP knows what his constituents think I have no idea; I don’t think that he has any idea either.

    I consider that governments should be chosen separately, though at the same time, from constituency representatives. Each party should, a couple of months before a general election, produce a list showing who would occupy what position in the government that they would form if they were elected. They should also spell out exactly how many people they would take onto the political payroll (with costs) to help ministers manage government departements, including Quangos.

    They should also list, in their manifesto, the policies, with estimated costs, that they will follow in each area of government and how they would raise the money to pay for those policies. Voters would select the government of their choice from the list on the ballot paper and the results would be declared nationally. If no one government receives more than 50% of the vote then a runoff between the two parties that get the most votes would be held one week later.

    The government would have 50 frontbench seats in Parliament and the other parties would have 50 opposition frontbench seats divided amongst them on a pro rata basis using the percentages gained in the first round. The government would govern on the basis of their manifesto.

    If the government wanted to change their manifesto (eg change tax rates) then the backbenchers, who would be elected to 125 constituencies, each with four representatives who would bring with them the votes cast for them by the electorate, would vote on accepting or rejecting the change. Frontbench MPs would be able to talk to the motion but could not vote on it.

    This will not stop patronage or wheeler-dealing behind the scenes but it should provide for governments chosen by 50% or more of the electorate and allow for independent constituency representatives.

    1. Denis Cooper
      November 6, 2012

      Your proposal seems to be a hybrid of our present parliamentary system, and a presidential system where an executive President is elected to form the executive and there are separate elections of law-makers to form the legislature.

      Off the cuff four things incline me against any such presidential system.

      1. Seeing how the Americans elect their President and seeing the types they’ve elected during my lifetime.

      2. The fact that some in the EU hanker after a similar presidental system for the EU, supposedly to address its “democratic deficit” but in reality to provide it with a figleaf of democracy – elections – when there can be no democracy in the absence of an EU “demos”.

      3. The way that the direct election of London mayors had led to the development of something akin to a “cult of the personality”.

      4. The fact that in the Thames Valley we are now being asked to directly elect a police and crime commissioner for a population of 2.2 million with no public assistance for each candidate to even get an election address delivered to each household – my ballpark figure for the cost of producing ca 0.8 million leaflets and having them delivered is about £0.4 million – ensuring that only main party candidates have any chance.

      Our present parliamentary system is deeply flawed mainly because it is effectively controlled by the oligarchs who dominate the main political parties, but giving them more control by holding elections over larger constituencies is not the way forward, not even if there are more elections.

      1. Martin Ryder
        November 7, 2012

        Thank you for replying in such detail, even if you do not agree with me. Your points are valid but our present system was designed a few hundred years ago for a country where very few people had a vote and all came from the same class. Even then the system did not work well and the oligarchs you mention ruled the roost, just as they did in every society on the planet.

        We are basically herd animals that need a leader to follow but nowadays there are millions of us who have the vote, have a far more knowledge about the world at our fingertips than did the nobility, who were only interested in jockeying for position amongst their equals and making money for themselves in what was basically a primitive and brutal.

        I consider that potential governments should spell out exactly what they propose to do when elected, rather than lie about what they wish to do, as they do now. I would like to see the composition of the Cabinet before I cast my vote, not have to wait until the PM has finished wheeling and dealing in the aftermath of the election. I want to know how they will fund their policies; how much they will remove from my pocket to do it and how much of the costs they intend to pass on to future generations (I have children) by borrowing.

        Of course events happen that will push the government off course. In that case I would like to have representatives that are not beholden to the government, though some might in general terms support it, who can look at the changes that the government is proposing and say yes or no to their proposals. I would also want them to have the power to strike down the goverment if it goes beyond the bounds of what is reasonable.

        I too fear the petty dictators that the present system throws up; and it is the worry about the not so petty dictators that could quite easily emerge in the EU that makes me very wary about throwing our political independance to the winds, as the Europeans want us to do. I would like to keep our Armed Forces between us and future EU leaders.

        I accept that change will not happen, as people are frightened of change, especially if they benefit from the status quo.

  18. Henry Rogers
    November 5, 2012

    I think the problem you discuss in the article goes much further than the House of Commons. If too many people who pay a sub to the Conservative Party and work as footsoldiers get demotivated, there won’t be nearly as many MPs to rebel, or local councillors come to that. If non-affiliated voters conclude that nobody cares what they think then election turn outs will fall even further. The ability to make good speeches on great occasions isn’t enough by itself. How often do we hear: “It’s all words.”

    1. Derek Buxton
      November 5, 2012

      That is very true, but unknown to the leader of the party. I suspect that the membership is declining rather fast and I am afraid it is entirely due to the leadership. Certainly the ones who have got the favours leave a lot to be desired, few if any like the People of this once great Country and have its interests at heart. Oh yes, to one other commentor, that includes one K. Clarke whose sole interest is in pursuing the interests of the EU at our expense.

      1. PrangWizard
        November 5, 2012

        A ‘reply’ to ‘Derek Buxton’, and a bit of light relief, it’s only to say I am partly to blame for Mr Clarke’s entry to parliament. In 197-something I think it was, I helped get him elected for the first time by canvassing all round his constituency, and giving people lifts to polling stations. I’ve still got a letter of thanks from him. I did it for the party! I don’t agree with his pro-EU beliefs but I think he has been mostly competent in his Ministerial career.

        1. zorro
          November 5, 2012

          I think that Napoleon might have described him as a ‘lucky General’…..


  19. Pete the Bike
    November 5, 2012

    Rebellion by MPs should not be regarded as undesirable. Whipping is undesirable as it stops MPs voting the way they should on behalf of their constituency. Once the party has forced them to vote against their instincts democracy is a sham. Ban whips if you want a democracy.

    1. Kenneth R Moore
      November 5, 2012

      Indeed, The lie that the Conservatives lost in 1997 because they were rebellious and ‘divided’ is simply not true – but this is still Conservative party orthodoxy to this. They lost the election because they incompetently followed the wrong policies that caused alot of people hardship. The party hierachy stopped listening to the people at the grass roots and Mr Major arrogantly thought he knew best but was way out of his depth.

      The federalists cannot then say the party lost because some people tried to sound the alarm before it was too late but were then dismissed as fruitcakes for their pains.

  20. Denis Cooper
    November 5, 2012

    As we’ve seen recently, when an MP wishes to resign his seat mid-term technically he can only do so by disqualifying himself from being an MP, which he does by accepting one of two notional “offices of profit under the Crown”:

    But it’s not widely known that this device is just a vestige of a comprehensive prohibition laid down in the 1701 Act of Settlement:

    “That no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons”.

    However that blanket prohibition did not come into practical effect before it was diluted down by subsequent legislation, as described in this essay:

    “The important point to note is that had the original restriction included in the Act of Settlement remained in force, then no member of the House of Commons would have been able to have accepted office as a Minister of the Crown, which would have enforced a strict separation of the executive from the legislature. As it was the effect of Clause 25 in the Succession to the Crown Act was that any member of the House of Commons who accepted government office was simply obliged to step down from the House and contest a by-election; if victorious at the by-election the individual in question could then continue to serve both as a member of the House and as a minister in compliance with the law. As a result there was a regular succession of by-elections triggered by the requirement for newly appointed ministers to submit themselves for re-election, and indeed between the years 1832 and 1926 there were 677 such by-elections at an average of about seven a year. Eventually the Reform Act 1867 removed the necessity of re-election when a member moved from one office to another, whilst the Re-Election of Ministers Act 1919 made re-election unnecessary within nine months of a general election, and the Re-Election of Ministers Act (1919) Amendment Act 1926 finally abolished the requirement altogether.”

    I don’t think it would be workable to have a general election for elect 650 MPs and then a few months later elect new MPs for maybe a fifth of the seats to replace those who’d been appointed as ministers and so become disqualified from being MPs, and in some circumstances those new elections could lead to the governing party losing its Commons majority to pass legislation necessitating a new general election.

    But it would certainly reduce the appetite for ministerial office if an MP knew that when he lost that office he wouldn’t simply revert to being a backbencher.

    1. Acorn
      November 5, 2012

      Dennis, interesting post, keep up the research. I am trying to remember where I got the following, it is pertinent to your last sentence. The HMRC regards the appointment of a MP to a Ministerial grade salary, as “casual employment”.

      MR Speaker, We the Posters on this web-site; in the interests of transparency and, as we are now downhill to the next general election, demand a statement by the Rt Hon JR, on the policy of “moderation” on Rt. Hon’s web site, as we approach this (nearly as good as Strictly Come Dancing) voting event.

      I have noticed, that my recent links that could be, let’s say, slightly off message, are being deliberately delayed in the moderation queue, so they will be in the archived before they are even published. I present in evidence, to to the Hon Mem’s Chamber, the post . Which has been published, eventually, today. In the interests of open democracy and the Big Society, rapid fire debate is next to impossible when it takes three f*****g days to moderate a post!!!!!!!!!!!

      PS. Please advise chances of 50% plus share of vote in 2015. Accurate projection is required as money is involved. 😉 😉 😉 .

      Reply: Posts that require me to read an external link, or need editing, will take longer as I do have my MP job to do as well as moderate this site.

      1. Acorn
        November 6, 2012

        Get Nadine to do the editing, she appears to have plenty of time to play. 😉 .

  21. zorro
    November 5, 2012

    I think that your comments on ‘group interests’ a la 18th century are valid. You mention the very small Europhile grouping with a seemingly disproportionate influence on the ruling group. How many votes within the Tory MPs are there? There are, it seems, around 40+ definite MPs who would have no problem being outside the EU, and another 60 who are prepared to vote against the government. Are there any other significant groupings or is there a large grouping (apart from the payroll vote) who remain to be persuaded or who might be more career minded in their inclinations?


    1. zorro
      November 5, 2012

      How big is the group of potential ‘outsiders’? Are they outnumbered by the number of ministerial aspirants? It would be interesting to know, as I am sure that this information is churned over constantly by the whips.


  22. zorro
    November 5, 2012

    Your comment on the fact that no one who voted against the government has been appointed as a Minister does show bad management and perhaps an underlying insecurity or inability to listen to or consider the views of others…..


  23. waramess
    November 5, 2012

    “,,,,,,,why not start to vote on more issues in the way you wish rather than agreeing with the Coalition whip?”

    Perhaps then we have something to thank Cameron for.

  24. formula57
    November 5, 2012

    1. What is the “old mould”, what are the officials actually doing please? – “…too many Ministers are still allowing officials to make appointments in the old mould, as if there had been no change of government”.

    2. “It would be bad management to create a large group of people who feel they are outsiders” – Conservative MPs can then know how many of us in the country feel so it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    1. zorro
      November 5, 2012

      1. Perhaps it might be reference to some of the public service appointments like the CEO of HMRC who was formerly CEO of UKBA……


  25. Acorn
    November 5, 2012

    An excellent example of why we should get the Executive (and its circa 120 payroll jobs), out of the Legislature.

    BTW. It was pointed out to me last week-end, with a bunch of people I thought knew this stuff already; that they didn’t understand what I meant by the above sentence (I go on about it a lot; and open primary elections; and coterminous government function, etc etc. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I suggested they read the Whitehouse site, “our Government” as a starter. A system originally designed to overcome the lack of democracy and endemic patronage in other systems; like the “Westminster” system. .

    At least get your kids and grandkids to read it, because they really haven’t got a clue. That’s why they are destined to lose the future 99 to 1 (%).

  26. Timaction
    November 5, 2012

    What you describe Mr Redwood is little different in many large organisations. However, we would hope that there are enough patriots within the party to understand the agenda of your Tory led Coalition leadership and judge them on their actions not words. They are simply not Conservative. You mention Heseltine, Clarke and Patton. Then there are the socialists Hutton and Milburn appointed to conduct and report on significant reforms in public services and pensions. Mr Cameron could easilly be leading the Labour party based on his policies, actions and appointments.
    After 2 and 1/2 years in office there can be no defence of why nothing has been achieved so far on immigration, stopping the use of the international health service by those who are not entitled, reform of the benefits system to ensure only those who have contributed for a significant time receive anything, the EU, its increasing budgets and unwelcome directives and costs, the EU HCR, Human Rights Act. The extremely unpopular foreign aid budget, whilst reducing our armed forces whilst announcing joint defence programmes with the French! How can your leaders defend a foreign aid budget that will be larger than the entire police budget by the end of this term? It simply can’t.
    Its time you decided if your leader was up to the job we want him to do or allow him to keep on going down the road of socialist ruin.

  27. Electro-Kevin
    November 5, 2012

    It’s astonishing to hear that 86% of British Conservative voters would choose socialist Obama over Conservative Romney.

    I think that this is a reflection of how much our political views are shaped by the BBC. This morning the BBC breakfast show gave the Conservative representative a tough time over child benefit reforms. It was as though it was he who was asked if he was being serious rather than the anti-reformist’s expectation that there should be unlimited subsidies.

    It must be very difficult to get the Conservative message across. Even more difficult to hold views which are continually being represented as ‘extreme’.

    I feel that the Conservative party has been shaped – for its own survival – into the BBC’s image and that of the permanent Whitehall officials. This is why certain faces get certain jobs.

    Of course the BBC would love to ‘move on’ over the Savile scandals. It went into complete overdrive on Leveson and phone hacking (trivial and boring by comparison.) It has played a huge part in attempting to control the free press (aka ‘right wing’ attitudes) and should not be let off the hook.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      November 5, 2012

      How is it that Obama, Kennedy and Clinton are revered by the BBC whilst Reagan, Nixon are not ?

      To show the deep influence the BBC has on the acceptability of politicians.

      The British Conservative party is simply not allowed to be Conservative.

      1. martyn
        November 5, 2012

        I think Nixon was regarded as (architect of a break in and dirty tricks-ed) and a liar. Just a small point.

        1. Lindsay McDougall
          November 7, 2012

          Richard Nixon brought China in from the cold, negotiated a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with Russia, kept the Russians out of Sinai, refused to get involved in Northern Ireland, substituted bombing for ground troops in Vietnam, spoke to de Gaulle and Pompidou so that France’s point of view was understood and didn’t over-react to Edward Heath’s coldness. Generally a good egg. Just a small point.

    2. uanime5
      November 5, 2012

      Given how much more right wing US politicians are than their UK counterparts is it any wonder than Obama is more appealing than Romney. For many in the UK Romney is akin to the far right while Obama is more centre right.

      1. Richard
        November 5, 2012

        I think the point was being made that the BBC seems to automatically support the Democrat Party candidiate and have done so for many previous US elections.
        However, their bias in the reporting of this election has been more obvious than any other.

      2. APL
        November 5, 2012

        uanime5: “For many in the UK Romney is akin to the far right while Obama is more centre right.”

        Well, that is one view I suppose.

        My view is that in the US as the UK we are plagued by the ‘free stuff’ brigade, I am reminded of the lady who was filmed on hearing of Obama’s election victory saying “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about my mortgage .. if I help him, he gonna help me”. I wonder how that worked out for her this last four years?

      3. zorro
        November 5, 2012

        Obama…..centre right???…..where would you describe yourself using that benchmark?


      4. Electro-Kevin
        November 5, 2012

        Uanime5 – “Given how much more right wing US politicians are…” they aren’t fettered by the BBC and have no state television telling everyone what is acceptable politics.

        Despite their ‘right wing’ politicians they remain a civilised country and their people have real choice during elections – unlike ours.

        Thank you for agreeing with me.

        1. Electro-Kevin
          November 5, 2012

          How can an extensively multi-cultural country with endemic obesity and a black president possibly be mistaken for a right wing one ?

          I’d say a closer truth is that our political consciousness has been pulled so far over to the left that we’ve lost our sense of political reality.

          That our own host can be labelled as of the ‘far’ right in British politics is plain ridiculous.

        2. uanime5
          November 6, 2012

          I wouldn’t say in the USA they have real choice given that they only have two candidates from two parties with very similar policies.

      5. Lindsay McDougall
        November 7, 2012

        This term “right wing” has little meaning. Was Enoch Powell “right wing”? Are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul “right wing” in the same way as each other?
        Can you call both UKIP and the BNP “right wing” and retain even a shred of credibility?

    3. forthurst
      November 5, 2012

      Romney is not a Conservative; he is the preferred candidate of the neo-conservatives, a.k.a ex-neo-Trotskyites; hence he has surrounded himself with the same (word left out) gang that surrounded GW Bush, before, during and after the 9/11 (words left out) operation.

  28. Boudicca
    November 5, 2012

    Cameron has displayed spectacularly bad judgement on a number of important issues – including the patronage of EUphiles like Clarke, Heseltine and Patten who, it is now blindingly obvious to most conservative people, got every single ‘call’ wrong on the EU.

    The fracturing of the Conservative Party has taken a long time coming. It started when Heseltine et all ousted Mrs Thatcher in order to push the Maastrict Treaty through Parliament by installing a weak and ‘tame’ Prime Minister.

    If Cameron doesn’t change tack very rapidly and start the process to get us OUT of the EU, his legacy is going to be the destruction of the Conservative Party and its demise as a potential party of government.

    Apart from the EU issue though, is the failure to do anything about Blair’s warped devolution settlement, which has made English voters and English taxpayers second class citizens in their own country. As an absolute minimum we should have English votes for English laws and the Barnett formula which sees every Scot awarded £10,212 pa whilst an English citizens gets just £8,88, should be scrapped.

    Unless the CON Party Elite wake up and smell the coffee, they are going to be humiliated in 2015 – UKIP will see to that.

  29. David Saunders
    November 5, 2012

    What else to expect from a self confessed ‘Liberal Conservative’ Prime Minister? No change, no chance.

  30. Rebecca Hanson
    November 5, 2012

    I think that we are not producing strong (by that I mean extremely able) leaders in our country at present and that this is a situation which is likely to generate more rebellion. Why should new MPs seek to develop themselves in the long term if those leading their parties are their own age, are no brighter than them and are in many ways less credible?

    The leaders of all three parties seem to be decent and reasonably able people but they’ve got none of the life experience credibility which sets them apart from their peers and coherent hierarchy which people understand and respect. Hence patronage and discipline become more important but, as you have described John, they are weak forces.

    The solution?
    Include a year in Afghanistan or similar tough real life experience and at least two out of raising families, commanding respect in your local community and substantial success in organisational leadership in the future requirements for leaders. That should create a coherent view of where they are going around new and aspiring MPs. Is it not reasonable to expect ministers to have a PhD or MBA level qualification in general or at least an MA in an area relevant to that which they will be overseeing?

    1. Bazman
      November 5, 2012

      You assume that academic intelligence is what it takes to be good politician. This is often not the case and sometimes can be a hindrance. How academic have been past prime ministers and how has this influenced their success or lack of it? My desk tomorrow morning Hanson.

      1. Rebecca Hanson
        November 6, 2012

        Where were you?

    2. alan jutson
      November 5, 2012


      Why should it be reasonable for a Minister to have a Phd, MBA. or an MA ?.

      Many hugely successful businessmen do not have any of the above, but instead they substitute such things with commonsense, drive, initiative, an understanding of human nature, and have the ability to lead by example.

      Most almost certainly have the ability to negotiate well, understand finance, work to budgets and are not afraid to hire and fire.

      1. Rebecca Hanson
        November 6, 2012

        Fair point but how many of the current Tory bunch have been hugely successful businessmen?

        I don’t call being a Murdoch hack being a hugely successful businessman. Do you?

  31. forthurst
    November 5, 2012

    The Conservative Party luxuriates in a cocoon of self-perpetuating delusion insulated from the harsh winds of reality of which some of its own Members are harbingers. Such Members who vote against the government are demonstrating that they have thought about issues, that they are capable of thinking about issues, that they hold opinions on issues which they think are important for the future of this country; lastly, such Members have demonstrated, not only that they may have listened to their constiuents, but they have the courage to stand for what they believe to be right. It would be invidious indeed to make a coresponding analysis of those who have perennially towed the party line. Suffice it to say, the Conservative Party since before WWII, by almost exclusively promoting ‘loyalists’ and deprecating ‘rebels’ has almost consistently been led by deluded individuals whose occasional endeavours to promote the country’s interests, when not actively engaged in treachery, have backfired spectacularly. With Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, as represented by such luminaries as Dennis MacShane, resolutely having consistently espoused a path of outright treason against us,what hope do we have left from purely political mechanisms?

  32. Bernard Juby
    November 5, 2012

    Only too true John as I know from personal experience. I was given the cold-shoulder treatment after I had dared to speak out against the Party line on the EU and question what had happened to “subsidiarity” (another meaningless piece of eurocrat -speak) which is ignored by Brussels.
    My wife, who was a Constituency Chairman at the time, was invited to No10 while I was given the elbow.
    That sort of thing gives Conservatives a bad name. Time the dinosaurs (including Patten, Heseltine & Clarke) were ALL given the elbow and you moved into a meritocracy.

    1. Richard
      November 5, 2012

      Similar to my experiences when I dared to question a central office imposed candidate from London who had no connection with our shire constituency.
      He refused to answer whether he would live in the constituency and had minimal interest nor knowledge of the locality.
      Just looking for a safe seat I assumed.
      Served him and central office right, when he lost to Labour what was a fairly safe Conservative seat back in ’97.

  33. Mike Wilson
    November 5, 2012

    From the article: ‘As we saw yesterday, many Conservative MPs find themselves in disagreement with Coalition policies, because they have not seen them as Conservative friendly policies.’

    And there, ladies and gentlemen, in a nutshell, we have the problem.

    No one gives a monkey’s about the country or the people, it is all about the party, power and patronage. A policy is no good unless it is a ‘Conservative’ friendly policy.

    I sometimes wish for some great upheaval to occur so we can throw off the shackles of our grubby politicaly system and its dominance by the Conservative and Labour parties – both of whom have done a good job of making hard-working and decent people despair.

    Reply: Conservative MPs see Conservative policies as best for the country!

  34. Bert Young
    November 5, 2012

    The leadership we have chose to “move to the centre” ; it did not want to pursue a eurosceptic line and it wanted to draw on the support of those previously to the “right” of the Labour Party . The leadership we have is also very short on “life” experience – as evidenced by many of the mistakes made in a number of appointments . Is it any wonder that no-one has been offered a Minister’s job who has not tied the , so called ,”party line” ? Our leadership has not been composed to represent the real views of the country ; it is not strong enough in character to include individuals who will challenge and introduce alternative thinking . It now faces the consequences of its weakness and the emerging force of public opinion . Your blog today is a good reflection of where you stand ; hopefully you and the other MPs like you will stand your ground and cause change to happen .

  35. Ashley
    November 5, 2012

    As I read this I felt an overriding sense of despair because it conveys a clear impression that most MPs are essentially an unprincipled rabble easily brought into line by the offer of positions in government. MPs that want to rise up the ladder do so by becoming lackeys who follow the line ordered from above, while those who don’t agree can happily spend their time in obscurity.

    Unfortunately at the top of government this means following EU directives to ensure a plum position in Brussels later on and using intimidation or bribery to ensure the backbenchers conform. The British public deserves better. Much better.

  36. Jane
    November 5, 2012

    What about loyalty? What about standing as an Independent as I assume prospective MPs know that they have party responsibilities? I am not persuaded when rebel MPs cite constituent views (I am of mature years and no MP has ever asked my opinion about anything. Further, I would suggest that the majority of MPs have more contact with activists, those needing help and the odd business etc which would amount to about 10% of their constituents). I can accept voting against issues such as abortion etc but my experience indicates that governments always permit a free vote on such difficult issues..

    Governments of all persuasion call on many people for reports. You can not just call on people of one political persuasion or someone from a specific wing of a political party. Eurosceptic MPs seem to be anti anybody that does not share their views. The Conservative Party is supposed to be a broad church embracing people with differing views. I am absolutely horrified that some MPs believe that Ken Clarke does not represent some conservative views. Silly boys and girls indeed. He is very popular in the country and unlike some others attracts voters that would normally not vote for the Conservative Party. Getting the views of Michael Heseltine was a smart move as many of us remember his championing of British Business when he was in government. I did not agree with all of his report but much made sense and he would know the difficulties of implementing government policy which is pro business and growth.

    What happens if no party wins a majority at the next election? If I was a labour party supporter reading this I would be laughing. If I was a Lib Dem I would be angry and would do everything possible to ensure my party never shared power with the Conservative Party again.

    As to these poor MPs feeling outsiders – don’t worry about that. Some of the new intake take my breath away with their arrogance. I am indeed most happy with some and very impressed with those who did get promotion. They richly deserved it. Matthew Hancock has been a wonderful spokesperson, The former Doctor who has been promoted was an excellent choice etc etc. We out here have been very happy with those who have made it… Those poor outsiders need not worry. If many carry on as they are, Ed Miliband will be in No 10. Norman Fowlers’s book “A Political Suicide” sums up the situation aptly. It should be compulsory reading for some of your self indulgent colleagues.

    Reply Conservative MPs stood as Conservatives and liked the manifesto they defended. In Parliament they see it as trying to keep to their manifesto.

  37. Tom William
    November 5, 2012

    Another old relic is Lord Deben, formerly Selwyn Gummer, a fervent Eurofanatic.

    He was made chairman of the influential and supposedly “independent” Committee on Climate Change, set up to advise government on energy policy under the Climate Change Act. This is despite the fact that Lord Deben’s array of environmental business interests includes chairmanship of Forewind Ltd, a consortium of four energy firms planning the world’s largest, and most heavily subsidised, offshore wind farm in the North Sea. Etc.. Why?

  38. Leigh Jackson
    November 5, 2012

    Your comment is a shrewd assessment of the party’s situation.
    The party needs to get a grip on its plans /priorities for government.
    What does it want to achieve?! the leadership should then use the talent it has and put them in place as ministerial or Quango heads.

  39. uanime5
    November 5, 2012

    I guess once MPs realised they weren’t likely to ever become a minister they saw little reason to support the current Conservative leadership. Indeed trying to have the current leaders removed may even enhance their prospect of becoming a minister if the new leadership wishes to distance itself from the old leadership.

  40. Barbara Stevens
    November 5, 2012

    Cameron, is getting trade with his Middle East visits so well done there, but when it comes to leading and holding the party together he lacks promise sorely. Lib Dems have been given far to many posts within the cabinet to the number of MPs they have, why was this allowed to happen? Did they refuse to make a coalition if they didn’t have the posts? Perhaps Mr R could clarify?
    I don’t like Lib Dem policies at all, in fact all of them cost far to much and the electorate suffer in consequence. Has for the old grandee’s of the party, well they’ve had their day but have wide expeirience to offer so should not be put out to grass. However the party does have a new intake, young, with lots to offer, but some have rather questionable ideas. I’d much rather go back to the old Conservative ways, like the Macmillion days, may I suggest. Where policies were not ‘nasty or selfish’ but seen has fair.
    There is far to much political correctness these days, to much lobbying, and you pat my back I’ll pat yours, that is where British democracy as gone wrong. What about straight forward honesty? Cameron as made some major gaffes, but perhaps he was to keen to get a government set up in the first place and a decent majority with the Lib Dems before he realised the mistake he’d made, then it was to late.
    With hindsight we can all see things clearer. I bet a Conservative win won’t include them again after these few years, where we have seen almost blackmail in action to get their way. Its been nothing to do with the ‘national interest’ its been self interest and the feeling of government that had eluded them for nearly a century. Lets hope with luck its another one before they sit in cabinet again. You learn from your mistakes.

  41. Christopher Ekstrom
    November 5, 2012

    Very even-keeled analysis, Mr. R. Apparently you are quite able & dedicated to going down with the ship. Congratulations, that was the honest assessment of (a former Thatcherite) a member in good standing of Cast Iron Davey Boys democratic-socialist dustbin. UKIP, Jean, UKIP.

  42. Daniel Thomas
    November 5, 2012

    I long for the day when principle and the interests of constituents take priority over patronage.
    The Executive does not have a God given right to decide the direction of our country, that’s we the people’s prerogative.

  43. Matthew
    November 5, 2012

    I suppose that a lot of the problems to which you elude, this blog being the latest, stem from Mr Cameron’s decision to invite the Lib Dems into a coalition.

    A bit like the man who aimed to please everyone.

    It was always going to be a strained marriage, as the Lib Dems are clowns, at just about every level. Any measure to fashion the EU to UK priorities is denounced as jingoism. Yet Germany has always looked after its own interests – they seem to be above reproach.

    On the domestic front the Lib Dems have turned the boundary changes into a political issue, when it should be about fairness and above party politics. They got their referendum.

    So much Tory talent languishes on the back benches.

  44. Pleb
    November 6, 2012

    This as the EU wants a 5.5% increase.?

    Greece braces for 48-hour strike amid crucial debate Posters urging workers to join the 48-hour strike have been put up around Athens. Greece is braced for a 48-hour general strike across public and private sectors in protest at a proposed new wave of spending cuts. The action coincides with a debate in parliament on the austerity measures, with a vote by MPs due on Wednesday. Greece must back the measures, and the 2013 budget, to receive the next part of a bailout and avoid bankruptcy.

    1. uanime5
      November 6, 2012

      Given that Greece is a net recipient of money from the EU raising the EU’s budget will benefit them.

  45. peter davies
    November 6, 2012

    From a simplistic perspective putting aside the issues of patronage, what is the point of being an MP at all if you don’t have a voice and the Cam/Clegg inner circle don’t listen to you? An MP sells him/herself to their local electorate because they have a certain view of the world – if they cant air those views to parliament because they have to tow the line with some idiotic agenda cooked up by people who don’t know the price of milk what is the point at them being there?

    Clearly many of these policy decisions which don’t suit conservative stem from the bending over Cameron and his team had to do to persuade the Libs to come into government at the expense of the fact that there are far more Tory backbenchers than there are in Lib Dems in total, but it is them who have a lions share of ministerial positions in govt.

    The more I hear about it the more I tend to feel that the Tories should have had a go at this alone for a year then called another election, though its too late now.

  46. Vanessa
    November 6, 2012

    It seems to me that this “patronage” within government is to appease MPs and build control or contact lines within important organisations but there seems to be absolutely no consideration for the “Betterment of the Country”. Forgive me, but who puts you there? Who pays your salaries, expenses, pensions ? Who can get you out ? You seem very conveniently to have forgotten that.

  47. RDM
    November 6, 2012

    Well then, can you send some patronage down to Wales, instead of the Devolution stuff (The Labour Party) we are left with! I’m sure half of them really believe Karl Max, himself, believed that Collectivists’ rubbish! By the end of his life, he had a fancy house in the posh bit of London?



  48. Lindsay McDougall
    November 7, 2012

    If things are as you say – and I have no reason to doubt it – then the ultimate responsibility lies with the Prime Minister. There is a procedure within the Conservative Party for electing a new leader, and it would be possible for that new leader to purge the Party of Messrs Hesletine, Clarke etc. It is no use you or the 2010 intake complaining if you are not prepared to use that procedure. I would have thought that the 2010 intake would look very favourably on a leader who gave them career opportunities and less Whipping.

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