The Conservative challenge

The party leader

I am just putting the finishing touches to a speech I am giving tomorrow.   The Conservatives and Conservatism specialist group of the Political Studies Association and the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull are hosting a two-day conference in Hull on the Conservative Party in Coalition.  I am giving the keynote address.   I was told ‘feel free to keep it short and to repeat things you have said before’.   I understand the invitation to keep it short – I know how to time limit my speeches – but perish the thought that I should ever think of repeating points I have made before.  Mind you, I shall be using a conceptual framework I have employed in previous writings….

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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9 Responses to The Conservative challenge

  1. Stephen MacLean says:

    If your intent is to be positive, I believe it will be necessary to practise linguistic legerdemain.

  2. maudie33 says:

    From my point of view, Lord Norton, what would be a positive move, is an entirely new political party who is prepared to put up a truthful and fully laid out manifesto on the policies they ‘intend’ to practice once elected. With an added advantage of accepting full responsibility under law if they deviate from the proposals offered as their road map to the people.

    A party who is honestly democratic with associations that include the nation as a whole, not smply for oligarchs, wealthy greed merchants, trade unions, politically correct lobbyists, as well as free of foreign super power threats and abuse to remove those installed on our behalf. What would be a plus, are leaders of that party having a vision for the nation and not a vision for fat fees from same super power if they dance to the tune of their billionaires.

    That would be an enormous improvement right there. A party who is to the right on issues of education and ridding us of politically correct dogma and intention, hard line immigration legislation and getting what we pay for from the NHS and any purchases made by the state on our behalf, but, to the left on defence, European integration (with the intention of influencing them away for their insane politically correct efforts of following US social engineering schemes) social requirements within a free at the point of use NHS and left on the ecoomic system. Hard liners on financial sector regulation and expectation of a fully paid up tax system to whollly include the buisness sector and the top 1% payers, as well as the renationalization of our utilites and transport.

    Yes, I can see you turning white, how would that work? You must be horribly confused, Maudie? I am not though, LN, this could be done, if the will was there.

    • Princeps Senatus says:

      Dear Maudie,
      The reason the parties are in thrall to big business or to the unions is because they are the paymasters. I believe that to break their stranglehold on the parties, we in the UK have to move to the Canadian system of public funding for parties, no matter how unpalatable it is.
      With regards to having a manifesto with legally binding commitments, I would argue that the move should be in the other direction, with manifestos giving broad guidelines of the direction that the party would like the country to move towards (such as lower personal taxation), rather than being over-prescriptive (the higher tax rate to fall from 50% to 40%, for instance). In the circumstance envisaged by you (of legaly binding manifesto commitments, how would you factor in a coalition? What if the coalition broke down halfway through a (fixed-term) Parliament and a new coalition would need to formed? Which manifesto commitments of which parties would be accepted?
      I would be very wary of pulling the drawbridges on immigration while we have a lamentably undereducated workforce. I speak as an immigrant myself, who is appalled at people who have been born in the UK and have gone through the UK educational system having lamentably low knowledge of their own history, politics and constitution. If the UK shuts skilled immigration out, the knowledge economy can and will flee and the country can expect everybody to be equally poor.

      • maudie33 says:

        Princepts Senatus:

        In part I agree with the idea of a slush fund set up similar to the Canadian system for political parties to draw on and the off shoot of same. However, tight controls are not the forte of the British on any kind of money pool. Fiddles are rife and they bleed the tax payer to death, it then becomes an unaffordable burden.

        It goes without saying, I disagree with you totally on the matter of the need for legally binding commitments in party manifestos. As is so blatantly obvious we are being misled now to the point of fraud. And the public have a right to honesty, openess and commitment in policies offered once a government is in situ. To have other is absurd. Coalitions would have to agree to stand by the majority rule. And the public would have to be aware of what was planned in order to have the right to call for another election in the event the two could not agree to a road map that was felt workable.

        Higher taxation is indeed the answer to a civilized country with a full employment policy, a complete NHS facility and the kind of welfare benefit we had until recent changes. The ordinary tax payer is not in the business of paying purely for profligate government officials and ludicrous defence spending. Check out the calamitous sytem in the USA if you need proof of that. And this idiocy of billionaires, corporations, companies and bankers paying less than little or no tax at all is criminal. Take a look at Greece. That is what you want is it?

        A drawbridge should have been pulled up a very long time ago with regard to rampant immigration and I fail to see any validation of your argument on the need for it to continue. We have experienced three and a half million immigrants into this country over the last ten years. One million more of them illegals.There is currently 370,000 of those immigrants on benefit and rising. This does not include additional benefits of one kind or another. And from what I gleaned only 40,000 of them are skilled workers. It is socially and financially unacceptable for the British people to be forced into such dramatic changes to their society in this way. And to pretend otherwise is oddly deviant.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9026401/370000-migrants-on-the-dole.html

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/feb/29/skilled-migrants-lose-right-settle

        You bring notice of the lamentable state of our education facilities, well you are correct theret. However, the system is bent to the point of breaking under the influx of the same immigration policy, which not only has to deal with masses of people entering the system unable to speak, comprehend or commit to a system or culture we live in and thrive with, and I am surprised it has stood it so well without total collapse. Let alone the prospect of complete anarchy country wide at the distress it has created.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2163445/Ed-Miliband-So-Labour-says-NOT-racist-debate-immigration-What-sick-hypocrisy.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

        The leaders of New Labour Party, last in government, should be facing charges of political fraud and abuse toward the British people for their secret policy of mass immigration. Set up with the sole intention of creating a multicultural or ethnicly unacceptable change to the demographic make up of the UK. And in doing this, without once informing the public of its intention or offering debate or vote on the matter to the people of this democracy. And on top of that, trying to incriminate the nation should they bring it to the forefront. These political leaders should be jailed for tyranny.

        Which brings me full circle as to why we desperately need laws to protect us from these duplicitous and dispicable opportunists we get offered as political leaders in our country. And to go one step further, we should also have a requirement regarding who has the right to run for office here, similar to the USA. Where you must be born British before being eligible to take up a position in Government.

  3. Princeps Senatus says:

    Dear Lord Norton,
    It is not often that I make a political point on your blog, but I feel that the Conservative party is getting too many details wrong and is beginning to look like a disaster in government.
    Two specific points in particular have made me reevaluate the Conservative Party. The extraordinarily botched NHS reforms and the effort that was put to force it through Parliament have reflected well on neither the Party nor its role in a coalition. That there was such public animus around the Health and Social Care Bill between the coalition parties has not reflected well on the coalition mechanisms for conflict resolution. The education reforms announced by Mr. Secretary Gove appear to be headed in the same direction. If it is a coalition government, ALL policies must be accepted by both parties or they ought not to be government policies.
    Secondly, I was appalled by the Beecroft proposals were even considered at all and am only thankful that the Lib-Dems kiboshed it. I shudder to think that if it was a Conservative government, that the proposals may be law.
    I would suggest that the Conservative party be reminded that in coalition, their policies are not automatically government policies and must be vetted and may be moderated by the Lib-Dems. They are also fast (re)gaining the reputation for not being trusted on either the NHS or on employment rights.

    • ladytizzy says:

      The Daily Politics show had an interesting take on Mr Gove’s announcement in that, by going rogue, this was the beginning of the end of the coalition. The idea garnered a fair amount of agreement from all sides which was pretty amazing given the guests included Lord Oakeshott. (Repeat tonight at midnight, BBC Parliament, recommended for sheer entertainment if only to hear Peter Hitchens opine on the “bourgeois, bohemian, metro-political trendies”.)

      Although I agree with your reaction on the Beecroft Report, I suspect it is for a different reason. I was hopeful that the promise to reduce red tape, specifically for micro businesses, might become a reality under this gvt. After all, they did seem to know the difference between a micro and a small business, a new APPG was created for micros last year and, from time to time, Mr Cameron continues to promise ‘no new EU regs’.

      The reality is way off the minutest of expectations, with a monumental disaster of the first order for the Tories waiting around the corner as hundred of thousands of employers suddenly discover the terms ‘ ‘real time information’ (courtesy HMRC) and ‘auto-enrolment’ (DWP). Red tape? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Not even Mr Gove’s antics can save the Tories.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    Lord Norton, another for your collection:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2162971/House-Lords-reform-scrap-hereditary-peers-cost-taxpayer-500m.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    Apart from the headline and the pics, there was one particular quote from Mr Clegg (from an original interview* in Thursday’s edition of The Indie):

    “…we are now pushing nearly 1,000 peers who get £300 tax-free a day just for turning up, more than half from the ranks of retired or failed politicians. For those retired MPs in the Lords, this amounts to a £1m top-up to their pensions.”

    Some immediate questions spring to mind:

    1. Do you think he really believes that 1000 peers ‘just turn up’ each day?

    2. The number of HoL peers is 825 (excluding the Lords Spiritual) and the number of HoC rejects, if I may paraphrase Mr Clegg, contains just 189 names (including those on absence of leave), a long way off ‘more than half’. The figures are supplied by the parliament site**, leaving me to wonder why they are so very out of date. Or could it be that Mr Clegg was thinking of something else?

    2. Could you direct me to the data which shows that £1m is being set aside for the pensions of ‘retired’ MPs (it isn’t obvious whether the £1m is per person or for all MPs)?

    Many thanks.
    * http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/nick-clegg-chamber-is-affront-to-democracy-7870134.html

    ** http://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-lords-faqs/lords-once-mps/

  5. Princeps Senatus says:

    Dear Lady Tizzy,

    Nick Clegg is a politician and as such is much given to exaggeration and bluster. Besides, such comments are directed at readers of the red-top tabloids, whose readers would not look into the matter as we would, but take his word for it. He has generously rounded off the numbers, to make them more accessible I’m sure.

    1) The active (i.e. not suspended, on leave of absence or otherwise disqualified) membership of the House of Lords in the 2010-12 session was 782*

    2) I’m sure we can send an FoI request to the House of Lords Information Office to ask them for a complete list of all Members of the Lords, who have been members of the other place, along with details of the start and end of their membership in both Houses. However, even assuming a fantastically generous 50% error rate (i.e. that the real figure of former MPs in the House of Lords is about 300 rather than the 189 on the website), it is still less than the claim of half the House.

    3) I think what Mr Clegg is suggesting is a scenario in which you pay £300 to each of the 189 former MPs in the Lords, assuming they turned up for every one of the 293 days* that the Lords sat in the last two years. In which case the cost comes to £16 million for two years. However, I’m fairly certain that not all 189 turned up every day. For instance, I doubt Bns. Thatcher (one of the 189) turned up at all. Conversely, the Opposition front-bench (which is made up overwhelmingly of former MPs) probably attended everyday. The FOI request suggested above could be expanded to include their attendance and allowances claimed, though in this case I suspect that Mr Clegg may be close to the truth and may even be under-stating the actual amount.

    *http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201012/ldsession/statistics.html

    • ladytizzy says:

      Princeps Senatus, Mr Clegg is indeed a politician but more importantly he is a parliamentarian; he has not flourished as either.

      There is a good deal of online information already available and, though with a number of caveats, useful for the purposes above. The datasets used below are the combined October, November, and December allowances/expenses for HoL members in 2011.

      The number of members recorded for that period is 816 of which:

      (a) 188 directly or indirectly from HoC (roughly 23% of the total)
      (b) 604 life or hereditary peers (74%)
      (c) 24 Lords Spiritual (3%)

      The proportions for each group of attendance, allowances paid, and travel are very much in line with their numbers, although group (a) recorded c.40% of claimable days outside of Westminster.

      Thirteen of group (a) did not officially attend during the period and the remaining 175 had an average attendance of 36 days out of a possible 49.
      (All the figures above should only be taken as representative!)

      So far, this has not answered Question 3 above and, unless Mr Clegg has a secret stash of data that includes the projected age of MPs when they will stop attending and what members do with money received, I suspect it will remain so.

      PS associating The Independent with red-tops is brave; Mr Lebedev is a well-known southpaw.

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