I know more than a few bloggers who have, over recent years, received visits from the police following spurious allegations of Islamophobia, homophobia or racism. Certainly, there are some deeply unpleasant blogs and bloggers out there, but increasingly those who refuse to conform to all the foundational precepts of the equality zeitgeist, or dare to utter a dissonant word against the prevailing orthodoxy, are not merely ‘swivel-eyed’, but often, in the eyes of zealous law-enforcers, just a few increments away from the extremes of political expression. And that expression is, of course, ‘extreme right’. Continue reading →
There is perhaps no more urgent a task for the Conservative Party in the present era than that of renewing democracy – to revive its foundational raison d’être; to resurrect its national framework of membership; and to reform its mode of engagement with party members. A political party that is immune to policy progression and insensitive to the beliefs of its core support-base ceases to be a movement for renewal: indeed, it rapidly becomes a fading testimony to past triumphs and a decaying monument to ancient glories. Reformation leads to enlightenment and revival – in politics as well as theology. Continue reading →
Back in 2009, in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal and a profound crisis in the British political system, David Cameron made a speech that electrified the Conservative Party and promised to usher in a revival of democracy. With great rhetorical flourish, he expounded his core conviction like an article of faith:
“I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from the EU to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power from the elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.”
It was wonderful Whiggish stuff, which is no real surprise as it echoed (indeed, lifted almost verbatim) the words of self-professed Whig Daniel Hannan MEP and his Roundhead compatriot Douglas Carswell MP, who had co-written just months before: Continue reading →
The House of Commons has inched closer toward legislation that will, at long last, give the British people an In-Out referendum on our troubled membership of the European Union.
The whipped private member’s bill proposed by Conservative MP James Wharton may be an irregular use of a technical parliamentary process; it may not have much cross-party support; it may be a cynical device to stem the rising tide of Ukip; and it may not be binding on a future parliament. But there is no doubt that if this Bill were to become law and the Conservatives were to win an outright Commons majority at the next General Election, it would be political suicide for David Cameron (or any Conservative leader) to repeal this particular sovereign Act of Parliament. Continue reading →
“Please don’t feel guilty about betraying the Conservative Party, they’ve already betrayed you – and without a care.”
With these parting words, David Meacock resigned his membership of the party he has loved since his childhood and served as a member of the Chiltern District Council since 1999. He also won a by-election against the Liberal Democrats to become a Buckinghamshire County councillor, which was no mean feat back in 2001 – even in ‘true blue’ leafy Bucks. Like many loyal and hard-working party members, he had dedicated months and years of his life to canvassing, door-knocking, writing ‘In Touch’, delivering leaflets, phoning, stuffing envelopes, attending hundreds of meetings and getting out the vote.
He worked so hard that he even increased his majority in 2003, and again in 2007. In the interim, he earned a place on the Approved List of Candidates, and fought the parliamentary seat of Huddersfield in the 2005 general election – as well as a county council seat back home in Amersham. God knows how much he spent on petrol and how many hours his glazed eyes whizzed up and down the M1. Continue reading →
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the irrepressible Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles MP, has apparently had enough of the EU’s Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). These demand in-depth screening, scoping and consultation on all major planning and development projects, and have long played havoc with domestic planning law as every road, railway, factory and housing estate becomes mired in months and years of delay as bats are counted, wind-speed recorded, decibels measured and earthquake risks monitored.
Every brown-field site is seemingly treated as a putative Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as each development has become subject to uniform assessment criteria. And it’s not only the hassle of delay, but the additional significant costs on the whole planning process. Quite why our own town and country planning systems in England and the devolved administrations can’t be trusted to conserve our own birds and bees is something of a mystery. But in local government there is almost a default fealty to EU supervision and oversight as the planning regime has become increasingly subservient to European Union law. Continue reading →
I don’t know David Cameron very well: I’ve met him on four or five occasions, the most interesting of which was sitting next to him at a dinner a few years ago, during which we discussed some serious issues relating to education and a few more weighty matters of political philosophy. On education, he appeared to agree with everything I said. On philosophy, he appeared to agree with everything I said. His mission seemed to be to nod and smile benignly; to appear pleasant, intuitive and empathetic.
I know Dominic Grieve rather better, having met him dozens of times since he entered Parliament (he’s my MP) and having been his association deputy chairman in Beaconsfield. He is also pleasant and articulate, though more cerebral than intuitive, and more intellectually incisive than reassuringly empathetic. Continue reading →
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union – a political construct designed (we were told) to ameliorate trade and improve our balance of payments, but always known (and openly declared) on the Continent to have been concerned with values, rights and deeper political motives. Of course there was a strong desire to bring to an end a thousand years of turbulence and war between the Frankish and Germanic peoples: the quest for a Teutonic Order has been a long and bloody one. But it’s something of a propaganda distortion to attribute 60 years of peace in Europe to the existence of the EU. What would Alfred Nobel make of this cynical abuse of his legacy?
There’s a certain irony in awarding his prestigious Peace Prize to a union of nations which is presently being ripped apart by fiscal anarchy and economic folly. While the Greeks are burning German flags and Croatians are burning EU flags, Herman Van Rompuy seems to shuffle on obliviously. Continue reading →
If Douglas Carswell had been born 400 years ago, he’d have been burned at the stake. There’s a touch of superstitious wizardry about his unnerving prophecy heralding the end of politics, and a fin de siècle inevitability about his sceptical doom and gloom. His problem is that he’s a Roundhead in a party of Cavaliers; a radical Whig in a sea of resolute Tories. He’s not just an irritating nonconformist; he’s a theo-political heretic. And we all know what happens to them.
But before they meet their grisly end, they tend to preach subversive sermons and write revolutionary tracts in the hope of winning a few souls to salvation. Carswell’s fiery homilies eventually brought down Speaker Martin – the first to be ejected from the Chair of the House of Commons since Sir John Trevor was forced to resign in 1695. Carswell now blogs profusely and incisively about how the oligarchical elite feed like parasites on the people, and how a corrupt and compromised Parliament is incapable of holding the Executive to account. ‘The End of Politics and the birth of iDemocracy’ is an analysis of the murky political morass into which we’ve sunk, and an observation of the emerging technological solutions. Continue reading →
Much has been said and many column inches have been written on David Cameron’s first Cabinet reshuffle. The questions are profound: did it represent a tilt to the right? How many bright young things were promoted? How many women now sit around the table? How many gays? How many black or brown faces? It is as though quotas have supplanted ideas, and power-play were more important than policy.
David Cameron has only 2½ years of his premiership remaining: the reality has dawned that he might be a single-term prime minister, so by this reshuffle he had to send out a few strong messages. When you appoint a climate-sceptic to Environment, a Euro-sceptic to Justice, and an anti-equality homo-sceptic to Equalities, you’re drawing some future battle lines in terms of political direction and the tone of debate, doubtless with an eye on the fractious backbenches. But Owen Paterson, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller will soon find that their hands are tied and briefs meticulously prescribed by our overlords in Brussels: there’s little room for manoeuvre, however it’s spun. Continue reading →