Anatomy of rebellions


There has been some commentary recently on loyalty and rebellions in the Conservative party. I want to explore some of the reasons and consequences. Today I wish to dispel the wrong notion put around by some commentators that the rebellions are by the old and grumpy in the Conservative Parliamentary party, sitting in safe seats with no hope of preferment or recognition by the present leadership. We read that this small group of malcontents rebel and disrupt, causing difficulties for everyone else and making it more difficult for people in marginal seats.  The briefing usually distinguishes between the 2010 intake, the future, and the rest, implying it is some of  the rest who are the problem. This simply is  not the case.

I define a major rebellion as a case where a group of MPs votes against a 3 line whip on a motion or piece of legislation that the Conservative leadership and whips say is important, and where the rebels can change the government’s stance as a result. There have been four such large rebellions in this Parliament, with the amendment to the Immigration Bill to continue last year’s arrangements for Romania and Bulgaria  also a possible major rebellion depending on what happens next.

These five rebellions have all been led by MPs who first entered Parliament in 2010, not by old timers with no prospects of preferment. 3 of the five MPs sit for marginal seats, and decided their cause was just and would be attractive to their constituents.  One has a majority of 536, and another 2243. They are listed below:

24 October 2011    David Nuttall proposed a referendum  at a time when it was not official Conservative policy. The 81 Conservatives who voted for his proposal helped make it Conservative policy later to hold a referendum.

10 July 2012  Jesse Norman led the opposition to a certain type of Lords reform which the Coalition government wanted. 91 Conservatives voted for his rejection of the government changes, and the proposals were dropped by the government.

31 October 2012  Mark Reckless proposed a cut in the EU budget and helped defeat the government, with 53 Conservative MPs voting for his proposal. The government has now arranged a lower EU budget than planned.

Andrew Bridgen led the opposition to military engagement in Syria by organising a letter to the PM requesting a vote, signed by 81 Conservatives.  A vote was granted  leading to the defeat of the government’s policy  and a new government policy opposing military intervention. He did not himself vote against on the eventual  Commons vote which was held, as the government had by then changed the motion to exclude authorising the use of force so the case was already won.

Currently Nigel Mills with 74 Conservatives has proposed an amendment to the Immigration Bill.

These are all talented MPs who might have become Ministers had they chosen a different approach to this Parliament, and may well be Ministers in future. They are by no means old. They are recently elected MPs, with ages from 39 to 52. They are not grumpy or pessimistic. They just believe in things and are seeking to represent their constituents and the values of their party. Those who write in general terms about rebellion should remember the names and backgrounds of the leading rebels. They should also take into account that most Conservatives prefer the policies which these rebellions triggered. Most of us are far happier proposing a referendum on the EU than not, happier seeking a smaller EU budget rather than a bigger one, and pleased that the UK did not go to war in Syria.



  1. Arschloch
    January 20, 2014

    Talented MPs eh? I would like to know why we cannot have a recall system to rid the HoC of those who are more interested in abusing their position to project themselves into the world of TV shows rather than doing the job they are paid to do

    1. Timaction
      January 20, 2014

      Talent is a subjective view.
      The rebellions by a minority of Tory MP’s tells me they or their leader are in the wrong party. Cameron is a liberal socialist Europhile hiding behind a few pretend EU sceptics. His plans for renegotiation and what they may be haven’t even started and their is no precedent or process agreed by the LibLabCon’s to gain a referendum in the timeframe he suggests.
      As a reminder, the UK will pay an increase of £10 billion in its EU contributions over the next settlement period, not less. That’s success in Tory eyes, for what? A £43 billion annual trade deficit for a £12 billion net cost for the privilege of improving foreign infrastructures and farming, whilst being told what to do by foreign dictators. What a total mess the LibLabCon’s have created.
      We need root and branch reform of the elective dictatorship in Westminster and our democracy that has effectively died within the EU. When Greece, Ireland and Italy can have its leaders imposed by foreign dictators. As Gorbachev remarked, what is the EU other than USSR by a different name?

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 20, 2014

      We can’t have a proper recall system because those leading the old parties don’t want to allow so much power to the people. Hence while there was some show of welcoming the idea to placate its advocates, the original proposal was diluted to make it pointless. They do not want constituents sitting in judgement on their MP outwith the normal elections unless other MPs have already sat in judgement on him and decided that the constituents shall then be allowed to sit in judgement on him, and it is very unlikely that will ever happen because if the perceived offences of the MP are so great that other MPs are prepared to hand him over to his constituents to mete out whatever justice they see fit then he will probably resign anyway, and in some cases justice will be delivered by a criminal court.

      Moreover some of the most important and frequent offences that an MP may commit, political offences such as cheating on those who voted for him by breaking a promise he made to help get himself elected, will not be treated by other MPs as being any kind of offence.

      1. margaret brandreth-j
        January 20, 2014

        Mr Cooper. please may I ask exactly what is your profession. It is obviously something connected with law , but you seem to have more knowledge than one fighting on one side or another.

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 21, 2014

          Just a humble chemist, of the chemistry sort not dispensing.

    3. hadron
      January 20, 2014

      Carswell for leader

      1. Hope
        January 21, 2014

        Oh no, he is another one who says one thing and votes the opposite, reluctantly of course.

  2. Lifelogic
    January 20, 2014

    “They just believe in things and are seeking to represent their constituents and the values of their party.”

    That, for Cameron, is where they are going totally wrong. He wants the sort of MPs who will just follow him unquestioningly over the cliff and into to oblivion post May 2015. Constituents are to be ignored, other than a few empty cast iron, IHT and other promises given just before elections.

    The constituents job, in Cameron think, is to shut up, work hard and pay the 299+ tax increases so his government can waste it all on green crap, payments to the feckless, HS2, soft loans to the pigis, ever more EU and ever more bloated government.

    1. Arschloch
      January 20, 2014

      LL your best post ever! Just look at his “cuties” and remember once upon a time an MP was seen as someone who was authoritative and generated some respect. I remember David Low did a cartoon during the 1945 election satirising the Conservatives claim that everyone of their candidates came from the same that produced Winston himself. Perhaps someone should do a cartoon on the Cameron candidate mould, you know privately educated, Oxbridge, never had a proper job and generally clueless about the world?

    2. Hope
      January 20, 2014

      The obvious point missing is that if it were not for the rebels what would have happened? It again highlights the deficiency in Cameron’s judgement and lack of moral compass. He is in the wrong party. He should be a Lib Dumb. The fact he arrogantly holds Tory supporters in contempt is another issue. 600,000 people who signed a petition against gay marriage were ignored, people outraged over the expense scandal and they got a PR job in return and him abstaining from voting on something he promised ie right to recall. State press regulation and the Tory negotiator did not even stay and had the cheek to invite a lobby group to a so called cross party deal! It is submitted he has learnt a lesson from Major’s government how to disguise what the party and supporters dislikes. How much is he hiding from us now. He cannot be trusted on anything he says and the Tory MPs would be best advised to research Andrew ear the small print on anything he/ Osborne says.

  3. Mike Stallard
    January 20, 2014

    Parliament seems to be changing very fast.

    The Prime Minister seems to be bunkered down in Downing Street with the “quad” – two LibDems in there too. He also has a very full timetable going round the world, going on photo-shoots and being a father to his family.
    The focus seems to have shifted from Parliament to the TV.
    Which means that he must be out of touch with the MPs.
    Which lays him wide open to rebellion.

    Add in the fact that most decisions now seem to be made In Brussels (HS2, Immigration, Windmills, Electricity prices/climate change). And then there is the fact that his once modern ideas are becoming very old hat. Also the internet is putting people like you in touch with what ordinary people are thinking.


    1. Mark B
      January 20, 2014

      The EU is not responsible for imposing HS2 on the plebs in his fellow Members Constituencies. This wound is purely self-inflicted.

      He can stop being on TV. That will leave a lot of free time for the News rooms to find and collect some real news stories from around the UK and the world.

      1. lojolondon
        January 21, 2014

        Mark – you can’t believe that!! I am sure you are aware that 90% of UK legislation originates from Brussels. Check the European High Speed Strategy document at this link :

        I recommend pages 7, 11, and 17 for starters –

    2. Leslie Singleton
      January 20, 2014

      Mike–He is hunkered down not bunkered down. Don’t confuse him even more than he is already lol

    3. oldtimer
      January 20, 2014

      …meanwhile Nigel Farage is busy recruiting new members for UKIP. This morning`s mail included a flyer from him announcing two local meetings at the end of this week. I live in a very safe Tory seat. I believe UKIP will make a dent in Dominic Grieve`s substantial majority but not displace him.

    4. Hope
      January 20, 2014

      Going in with the Lib Dumbs was a way to change his party, it also showed the lack of political courage he had. Steve Harper changed his party and went into government showing the Canadian people what he was about. They liked it, he called an early election and got the majority he needed.

      Osborne should have been sacked as the political strategist and the chancellor by now. He has failed on both counts. It is only the old posh boys club that keeps him in both positions. Wake up Tory MPs, you have a choice either Cameron goes or your supporters do. Another clue, Osborne and May have no hope of becoming PM.

  4. Roy Grainger
    January 20, 2014

    “Today I wish to dispel the wrong notion put around by some commentators that the rebellions are by the old and grumpy in the Conservative Parliamentary party, sitting in safe seats with no hope of preferment or recognition by the present leadership”

    Yes, I saw that suggestion in the newspapers over the weekend (I assume it was briefed from No 10) and I immediately thought of you John ! It would be more constructive and useful if No 10 confined their criticism to Labour and LibDem MPs rather than their own.

    1. Hope
      January 20, 2014

      Therein lies the problem for Tory MPs and supporters. He is too arrogant to realise he needs to change as the minority not the majority needs to change to please him.

      Ah well, 15 months to go. Tick tock for Tory MPs.

  5. Old Albion
    January 20, 2014

    JR, you highlight what i see as the biggest problem with the adversarial two (three) party system.
    It may well be an that individual seeks election as an MP in order to work for their constituents. Sadly the moment they enter the House of Commons they are expected to ‘toe the party line’ Which can work entirely against their constituents.

  6. APL
    January 20, 2014

    JR: “There has been some commentary recently on loyalty and rebellions in the Conservative party.”

    Now that rather illustrates the problem with the Tory party. But also every other established parties too.

    If the party was truly democratic, how could there be a rebellion? The decisions the party administration implement would be decided at the grass roots and the job of ‘CCO’ in this case would be to administer the policy decisions of the grass roots.

    You can only have a ‘rebellion’ where that model has been inverted. The administration of the party decide policy, and impose it on it’s MPs and the grass roots. That is the recipe for rebellion.

    So, to Tory party administration, CCO and the career apparatchiks, I suggest you start to re-engage with the grass roots of your party, start to listen to what they want, and reign in your inclination to tell them what you think they want.

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    January 20, 2014

    I don’t know who added the old to grumpy ,but as far as I can see in the house all are grumpy;it comes with the job. When we seem to be going down a slippery slope of no return and no action is being taken it doesn’t matter who stops the fall, as long as it is done. These ageist remarks should be a matter of concern for everybody in a world where most will be expected to work longer and longer.

  8. Douglas Carter
    January 20, 2014

    Perhaps the ‘Special Measures’ tenet available to your party leadership since the facility was introduced is preventing the early recognition in flaws in Party policy and direction?

    You will remember it was introduced by a Party leader* (*being uncharacteristically charitable since it’s Monday) who was too weak and bereft of resolution to brook emerging complications. Its headline use has been to attempt to paint dissenting Conservative associations as (behaving unacceptably ed), whereas its core purpose has been to ensure that the prevailing status quo and institutionalised orthodoxies remain conveniently
    unchallenged. Notionally on observation it would appear that the three main Party leaders find themselves attempting to align behind specific newspaper columnists in preference to their own respective parties?

    If your party as a whole was able to evolve policy and direction properly and naturally (as they were permitted to do so up to the mid-1990’s), possibly a Prime Minister overseeing your party might have rather more tangible notice of disagreements. Right now, it would appear that ‘revolt’ becomes the only available corrective mechanism which seems to work.

    In context, the whipping operation of Maastricht proved one of the prime blunt instruments which broke your party for a generation and so that office having discredited itself thus, cannot be awarded any sympathy. In recent particular in the manner it seemed oblivious to the sentiments over Syria until beyond the point of no return.

    ‘Special Measures’ probably isn’t just a bad idea introduced by a poor leader, it’s likely to be actively harmful. I’d suggest it be reviewed.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    January 20, 2014

    Seems to me these are people standing up for what they believe in, doing that which many who post on this site, including me, have wished would happen.

    Categorising people as “old and grumpy” is in the same vein as categorising people as “nimbies” or as being “nutty as a fruit cake”; it seeks to dismiss the views of those with whom you disagree without the inconvenience of having to argue your point.

  10. Boudicca
    January 20, 2014

    Rebellions tend to be carried out by younger people. Older people tend to have fixed opinions which they are unlikely to change, even if events indicate that they were/are wrong. Their opinions were formed in a different era and they are incapable of changing them or adapting for different times.

    The most pro-EU members of the Conservative Party tend to be the elderly elite: Heseltine, Clarke, Howe, Hurd, Major etc: they have learned nothing since they and their predecessors took us into the EEC and morphed it into the EU. If they’d got what they wanted, we’d be in the same situation as Greece is today – Democracy destroyed and governed by foreign technocrats.

    I’m not in the least bit surprised that it’s the younger MPs who are leading the fightback against the pro-EU Conservative Elite.

  11. Richard1
    January 20, 2014

    The left-wing media, especially the BBC, are very keen on bigging up ‘splits’ and ‘rebellions’ amongst Conservatives, as they believe the evidence is that parties who are split perform badly in elections, and the left-wing media, especially the BBC, do not wish to see a majority Conservative govt.

    For those anti-Conservatives talking up UKIP (as some left-wing journalists are now doing for the same reason), we got another insight the other day into the quality of UKIP politicians below the level of Mr Farage, with the buffoon who attributed the floods to divine wrath due to the new law on gay marriage. Mind you, I suppose his explanation was no less plausible than the alternative faith-based explanation, also with no scientific merit, that the floods were caused by global warming.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      January 20, 2014

      “the buffoon” used to be a Conservative councillor until last year, but I suppose you would have thought he was wise and sensible then.

      1. Richard1
        January 20, 2014

        No I did not know him. But he has certainly shown himself to be a buffoon now.

        1. Hope
          January 21, 2014

          Not really, many people sip wine on a Sunday as a symbol of blood for their Christian faith, ordinary decent people who have faith. The same who believe in God and Jesus. That does not make them bafoons because you not believe or have a faith. Loads of people have religious beliefs- it is quite common.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 20, 2014

      Apart from the fact that this “buffoon” was not subject to a soviet-style campaign of vilification for his views when he was a Conservative, only after he defected to UKIP, there is the more general consideration that he is 73.

      So he was born around 1940, when many people in this country were earnestly praying to God for his help and sincerely believed that their prayers might be effective, and apparently their faith was rewarded and it was still strong during his formative years after the war.

      Nowadays if you asked the Archbishop of Canterbury whether he believed that God might punish a nation for its sins I doubt that you’d get an unambiguous answer even to that basic question, let alone to the supplementary questions of whether he believed God would see the legalisation of same-sex marriage as a sin deserving of punishment or whether he believed the punishment might come in the form of excessive rain and flooding, but it was different then.

      Many devout Christians have been prepared to go with the modern doctrinal flow, but others have not, and surely it should be a matter of concern for all of us that their freedom of belief and expression is under such vicious attack.

      Given that some of their views may be outdated but they are harmless enough, they are not inciting violence or murder or advocating that we go back to putting gays in prison or anything of that nature.

      1. Anonymous
        January 20, 2014

        Denis – It is interesting that somebody somewhere knows that people are defecting to Ukip for what they are NOT rather than what they ARE.

        They are not mainstream and they are NOT the BNP.

        It is vitally important that Ukip disassociates itself from anything remotely BNP or ex mainstream voters will abandon it. Tarring Ukip with the racist/sexist brush is today’s tactic.

        My point here…

        Isn’t it of great credit to the British public ? Their levels of tolerance and fair play for other people despite invasion levels of immigration which have brought the issue to the #1 item of public concern ?

        When will Mr Cameron acknowledge and praise this quality ?

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 21, 2014

          Agreed, it is greatly to the credit of the British public that they have put up with it and have mostly blamed their own politicians for the unwanted mass immigration, rather than those legal immigrants who are after all only taking advantage of the opportunities that our politicians have foolishly offered to them against the wishes of the majority of the citizens they are supposed to represent.

      2. uanime5
        January 21, 2014

        Being a devout Christian doesn’t give you the right to blame others for natural disasters because you don’t approve of their sexuality. I doubt you’d approve if gay started blaming Christians for the floods.

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 21, 2014

          I think he’s blaming Cameron, not gays.

    3. Bob
      January 20, 2014

      the BBC, do not wish to see a majority Conservative govt.

      No worries there, we don’t even have a majority conservative Tory Party.

    4. Bob
      January 20, 2014


      we got another insight the other day into the quality of UKIP politicians below the level of Mr Farage, with the buffoon who attributed the floods to divine wrath due to the new law on gay marriage.

      In response Mr Farage was quoted in the Mail today:

      Speaking in a question-and-answer session in the City, the Ukip leader said: ‘I think it is very interesting that, when Mr Silvester was saying these things in 2012 and 2013 as a Conservative town councillor in Henley, it was not a news story. But suddenly he switches to Ukip and continues the same thing and gets on the national news.

      ‘I think that shows you and tells you all you need to know. The establishment, the status quo, the big businesses, the big Eurocrats and our three so-called main political parties are scared witless by what Ukip is doing because we are striking a chord not just for ordinary people but for many elements in the business community as well.

      ‘They will try to do whatever they can to shoot us down.”

      Enough said?

  12. Bert Young
    January 20, 2014

    People who are convinced , have strong views and are independent of thought and deeds , are to be congratulated and supported ; it doesn’t always mean that they are subsequently proved to be right , it simply means that , by sticking their chins out , they are willing to express what they believe in . MPs who buck the trend and defy the whip are strong individuals and face the possibility of being turned down for all sorts of promotion and party support ; they are just the sort of individual who should represent the people . The electorate do not want “wimps” , they want powerful minded representatives who will fight and shout for populist belief irrespective of party doctrine .

  13. Atlas
    January 20, 2014

    I think the problem you discuss arises because most Government Policy originates in the Civil Service and not the Ministers. There is a civil service adage that when a new Minister is appointed all the (duff) policies are got out of the filing cabinet again ready for another try. The Pasty Tax was an example.

    Hence MPs see policies that they did not sign up to being argued for (with Papal Infallability of course) from the dispatch box by the Ministers.

    1. uanime5
      January 21, 2014

      Given that senior civil servants are being replaced more frequently than ministers it seems unlikely that the problem is due to civil servants.

      Also for your claim to be correct Atlas the pasty tax would have needed to have been proposed to every new minister. While we could assume that the Labour ministers kept rejecting this just makes the Conservative ministers look worse for accepting it.

      1. Atlas
        January 21, 2014

        Quote: “While we could assume that the Labour ministers kept rejecting this just makes the Conservative ministers look worse for accepting it.”


  14. Mark B
    January 20, 2014

    John Redwood MP said;

    “I define a major rebellion as a case where a group of MPs votes against a 3 line whip on a motion or piece of legislation that the Conservative leadership and whips say is important . . . ”

    Important too whom ? By your own admission, you have shown that we live in a Elected Dictatorship, whereby, the bulling an threats of a minority can force the Legislature to bend to ‘its’ will and not of those that they serve.


    “They just believe in things and are seeking to represent their constituents . . . ”

    Where is your evidence that they are in receipt of the majority of their Constituents views ?

    What I have been witnessing, certainly recently, is a few ill-informed malcontents indulging themselves in fantasy politics, rather state that which has been said here and elsewhere. When you have a system of politics which the electorate are actually having to inform and correct those we elect, to do for us that which we cannot do ourselves, you really are in, getting a dog and barking for yourself territory.

    On other points in no order, because I cannot be bothered:

    1) Absolute tosh ! The EU budget is decided by the EU and not our Parliament. The reduction was for other Member States with the UK paying more. Even then, the EU Parliament is looking at other ways of getting more monies.

    2) Syria. Parliament wanted to got to war, especially the HoL (Lord Ashdown). The fact you didn’t has more to do with the ineptitude of Red Ed and his party than any Conservative principles.

    3) Immigration. There are two forms of immigration. EU immigration, which we cannot do anything about, as you have been repeatedly told, and non-EU immigration which, you will not even talk about much less do anything about, even though you actually can. And you expect people like me to take people like you seriously ?

    4) Lords reform. Nice of you to ask us about how we wish to be governed again. Oh, silly me, you didn’t. It was not even in ANY of the three main parties manifesto’s much less in the Coalition Agreement which, as I seem to remember, I also never got a chance to vote upon and give my consent to. Funny old thing this democracy malarkey eh !

    5) Referendums are not constitutionally binding on a Government. Even if 100% of the voting population voted and 99.99% voted for ‘x’, the Government can just ignore them. We have no Constitutional Court so cannot hold you to your word.

    But at least the Taxpayer funded actors and actresses can be relied upon to put on show when we all know the ‘real’ action is going on elsewhere.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    January 20, 2014

    JR: “There has been some commentary recently on loyalty”
    Loyalty to what or to whom? Blind party loyalty has blighted our politics for too long.
    Your party’s leader has done little to promote loyalty from Conservative MPs or supporters. However, that loyalty is still there as you display daily. So much of what you think is different from, if not the reverse of your party’s positions on many issues and yet you loyally conjure up arguments to present your party and its leader in a favourable light. When it comes to the real crunch party still comes before country.

  16. Denis Cooper
    January 20, 2014

    It’s interesting that all five of those rebellions were led by an MP who was first elected in 2010. However I recall that after that election it was widely claimed that the new intake of Tory MPs would be much more “eurosceptic” than those who had been re-elected, and I haven’t really seen a lot of evidence for that. Nor do I see that the new Tory candidates who are being selected for the next election will be much better in that regard.

  17. alan jutson
    January 20, 2014

    All this seems to prove John, is that the Government had not thought things through properly in the first place.

    It begs the question !

    If so much opposition from within surfaced AFTER a so called policy announcement, who failed to consult, who should have been taking soundings and getting feedback within the Party before such policies were even thought of.
    Is it the job of the Whips ?

    How could senior Ministers get it so wrong, so often, on such major topics as:
    The EU
    Going to War.

    Thank goodness we have had some Mp’s who were prepared to put their head up over the wall and speak up, but it begs the question, are the Ministers really in touch with their own Mp’s who are supposed to represent the people.
    Are those Ministers in touch with their own constituants.

    I guess there could have been many more such so called rebellions, but Mp’s chose to keep their powder dry for fear of not being taken seriousely if they complained/acted against the Party line too often.

    The reward for such Mp’s being honest and true to their thoughts, sackings and promotion denied.

    Funny old World politics, you save your Party and the Country from making a mistake, but you get penalised for it !!!!!!!

  18. lojolondon
    January 20, 2014

    John, the MSM, Biased BBC and of course the Cabinet and whips describe the situations above as ‘rebellions’.

    We voters call it “MP’s doing their job”, which is to represent us. Far too few ‘rebellions’ since 1997, it is a necessary and natural feature of a true democracy. Let’s have more and more of those please?

  19. lojolondon
    January 20, 2014

    …. meant to finish …

    What I would describe as a “rebellion” is when 82 MP’s all leave the Conservative party on the same day, set up a new party called UKIP2 together with the 50-or-so Labour politicians who are Eurosceptic, invite Nigel Farage to join you and contest the next elections, THAT would be a proper rebellion, and you’d have my vote!

  20. zorro
    January 20, 2014

    The faulty analysis proposedby these people is symptomatic of a detachment from the very real considerations of the populace. What you say is clearly obvious, but they prefer to project any rebellion as led by has been malcontents who are sulking I.e. They posit a straw man to try and manipulate the argument. This is why they say Cash, Redwood, and Jenkin are playing up (by the way I do not consider you has been malcontents) and stirring up trouble…… It is a bit of a dog whistle as they hope that people associate these rebellions with those under Major perhaps to try and get sympathy…… Or perhaps because those people are advising the leadership now.


  21. acorn
    January 20, 2014

    I have a cunning plan for doing away with rebellions, Primary Elections. Particularly what the US would call a “non-partisan blanket primary” or the slightly simplified version of it, but likely more democratic “unified primary”. . Please play the video, and you will see why FPTP voting always degenerates into a two party system like the US and UK, and why no two political party system, ever wants to get rid of it.

    The object being to put the selection of a candidate into the hands of the voters rather than a political party. The Conservative pulled a stroke with Dave’s “open primary”, where registered voters get to pick from a party approved short list, rather than the constituency activists picking the candidate you will be allowed to vote for. I am surprised the Electoral Commission allows it; it gives the Conservative candidate a massive canvassing head start if the other parties don’t do a similar primary in that constituency.

    Alas, I might as well propose this idea in North Korea as there is about the same chance of ever getting it on a ballot paper there, as there is in the UK.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 20, 2014

      I looked at that and it doesn’t explain how those leading a party at the national level could be prevented for barring a person standing as an official candidate for their party in a parliamentary election anywhere in the country, if they didn’t like his opinions on certain policy matters. Clearly he could still offer himself as an independent candidate but he would be at a massive disadvantage.

      1. acorn
        January 21, 2014

        There is no official party candidate in this type of primary. The candidate expresses a preference for a party to give the voters an indication of his political position. The candidate may or may not be a member of any party at this stage. The party he prefers may not want him as its “official” candidate. He could be a eurosceptic Tory against a non-eurosceptic Tory for instance; and, in a solid blue constituency, one or both could be selected as the two to go forward to the general election.

        The object is to disconnect the candidate from the political party. It reverses the process entrenched in the UK of party allegiance first, constituency voters requirements second.

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 21, 2014

          Well unless it was prohibited by law I wouldn’t expect parties to refrain from giving their official endorsement to their preferred candidates, or candidates to refrain from mentioning any such official endorsements in their election statements.

          In which case we might as well go back to not having party affiliations on ballot papers, just names, and then go further by prohibiting any candidate from revealing to the electors that he is the official approved candidate for this or that party.

  22. Max Dunbar
    January 20, 2014

    Beware the Ides of May.

  23. English Pensioner
    January 20, 2014

    To me, rebellions by MPs, illustrate how far out of touch the party leaders are from their rank and file. Generally, the ordinary MP is closer to his constituents than ministers, and leaders would do well to listen to them rather than the circle of MPs who are holding jobs courtesy of the party leader. This applies to all parties, not just the Tories, but when the Prime Minister ignores the fact that about a third of his MPs are unhappy about any issue, I believe he is making a grave mistake.

  24. Bob
    January 20, 2014

    When ukip win seats in Parliament Mr Redwood I’m sure you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with them in the same division lobby.

  25. Mike Wilson
    January 20, 2014

    10 July 2012 Jesse Norman led the opposition to a certain type of Lords reform which the Coalition government wanted. 91 Conservatives voted for his rejection of the government changes, and the proposals were dropped by the government.

    How many Lords are there now? How many were added in the most recent list? The way one government, then the next, rewards its supporters with a seat in the Lords is really appalling. I like the idea of a revising chamber full of people with wisdom and life experience – from all walks of life. But that is not what we have got.

  26. stred
    January 20, 2014

    Sorry- off subject. The Politics programme on BBC2 today allowed Jason Kitkat, the Green leader of Brighton and Hove Council gven time to explain why a local referendum would ask whether they could raise council tax 5% in order to continue to provide adult social care. There was no questioning about whether those voters not paying tax should be asked. Nor why they have wasted millions on 20 mph limits which everyone, including the police, ignores, and the bus lanes causing queuing traffic from the city boundary. Or the awarding of equal pay to cleaning ladies and then cutting pay of men collecting rubbish in all weather. The setting up of a licensing system over most of the city which restricts the number of houses available to students and results in high cost and raised rents is another achievement. Then there was the issuing of gender reassignment toolkits to schools, and of course the extension of parking restrictions, despite local protests.

    However he did say that the referendum would cost over £100k. Perhaps you could raise this matter.

    1. Mark B
      January 20, 2014

      They should have also queried how much of a pay rise did Council staff receive this year. Not to mention, where has all the money gone that they already receive.

      They are using the old trick of playing to the heart strings, by picking on the weakest in society.

      All they want is more cash to fleece the masses. But do not worry, these Watermelons won’t be in power for much longer.

  27. Leslie Singleton
    January 20, 2014

    Re the LibDem fiasco, how could they have persuaded themselves that an apology would be the way out? The huge stress they have placed on an apology is incomprehensible. Can their judgement really be that bad (Answer Yes)? The QC they brought in recommended it I know but I cannot imagine why: did he expect the apology to be given Without Prejudice? The talking heads in the Party might have regretted that their Rule Book could not bite but that is water under the bridge and I thought the LIbDems adored Due Process.(words left out ed) Another total lack of good judgement throughout by this non Party and even now (Midday News) apparently there are still fatuous calls for an apology. I hope they get sued for going against their own Rule Book.

  28. Richard1
    January 20, 2014

    Could someone who regards themselves as a Eurosceptic but who would like to see a Conservative govt please explain the logic of demanding an EU referendum before the next election? with the combined weight of the unions, most of industry, much of the media and all mainstream parties likely to be in favour of remaining in the EU, albeit with most of them favouring renegotiation, isn’t the most likely result a vote to stay in, thereby ruling out any potential renegotiation or future referendum likely to result in an Out vote?

    1. lojolondon
      January 21, 2014

      Because most of the people – the voters want out. And it is our democratic right to be given the chance to vote. And we have been unlawfully robbed of that right by our leaders handing power over to Brussels over the last 40 years without ever asking the public. Enough reason?

  29. Anonymous
    January 20, 2014

    It is important to point out that we ‘grumps’ are not old, unfashionable, unsuccessful, unattractive.

    Nor are we ‘grumps’. We might sound of here but spend most of our lives getting on with things, problem solving and making things work. We are ideal neighbours, charity workers and valuable members of our communities and we are still relatively young.

  30. uanime5
    January 21, 2014

    Let’s examine how successful these rebellions have been.

    Conservatives who voted for his proposal helped make it Conservative policy later to hold a referendum.

    This referendum may not occur due to the amount of time this bill has been in the Lords.

    10 July 2012 Jesse Norman led the opposition to a certain type of Lords reform which the Coalition government wanted. 91 Conservatives voted for his rejection of the government changes, and the proposals were dropped by the government.

    Given that this bill passed the second reading with a majority of over 300 and had cross party support having it withdrawn because a minority objected to it shows the lack of democracy in the UK.

    31 October 2012 Mark Reckless proposed a cut in the EU budget and helped defeat the government, with 53 Conservative MPs voting for his proposal. The government has now arranged a lower EU budget than planned.

    The European parliament rejected this and the EU budget was raised. So not a great success.

    Andrew Bridgen led the opposition to military engagement in Syria by organising a letter to the PM requesting a vote, signed by 81 Conservatives.

    It’s difficult to judge how successful this was as the civil war is still ongoing in Syria and hundred of thousands have died or been displaced.

    Currently Nigel Mills with 74 Conservatives has proposed an amendment to the Immigration Bill.

    As this would violate EU law it had little chance of becoming law.

    In other news the mean and median wages continue to decline in real terms, despite the improved economic growth.

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