Club Comment - March 2016
"Free Admission - All are Welcome"
By Martin H Pritchard
Apart from instructing Conservative Members of Parliament to ignore the views of Conservative Associations regarding the forthcoming referendum on Europe, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has other very important issues that he does not want you to know about. You will not hear him voluntarily speak about these matters as they are probably the factors which the majority of the nation feel would influence them when making a decision whether to stay in or to leave the European Union.
UK Agriculture Would Be Better Off Outside the EU
The Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson MP
Former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Speech to the Oxford Farming Conference
Thursday 7th January, 2016
Thank you for inviting me. It is always a pleasure to come to the Oxford Farming Conference and particularly to welcome Commissioner Phil Hogan. This is an extraordinarily important debate and I am delighted to be invited to propose that UK agriculture would be better off outside the EU.
We are now at a fork in the road. Those Member States in the Eurozone need to form what is effectively a new country – a fully redistributive state that can transfer funds from wealth-creating parts of the Eurozone such as Southern Holland or Bavaria to the Mezzogiorno and Peloponnese. We can never join the Euro, nor Schengen, so will never qualify to join this new political entity. We will be offered some sort of Associate Status, but this would still have us under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, the Council that has overruled the current Prime Minister alone over 40 times, and the European Parliament where we have a permenant, small, minority representation.
Common Agricultural Policy
Tackling the “Green plating”
Trade and World Bodies
In short, a UK agriculture policy outside of the EU would:
I was one of those who helped set up Vote Leave. Our support is growing and recent polls are most encouraging. I am convinced that if we want to boost British agriculture and improve the environment we need to leave the European Union and re-establish ourselves as a sovereign nation making our own laws in our own Parliament and retaking our rightful place one the world’s regulatory bodies.
Kindly reproduced with the permission of the Office of Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson MP
Club Chairman's letter to MPs on Bombing Syria:
It is no secret that, within the coming weeks, it is highly likely that the Prime Minister will call for a vote in Parliament sanctioning the bombing of so-called Islamic State targets in Syria. The Whips are no doubt already hard at work attempting to reassure Members that this is the right course of action to take.
However, we at the Conservative Monday Club would urge you to think very carefully about all the implications before committing yourself to a position on this most difficult of issues.
When considering the facts surrounding this case, it would be worthwhile to remember that a campaign of bombing, even when highly targeted, can actually achieve relatively little if employed independently of a significant deployment of ground forces and/or a long-term political strategy.
Indeed, bombing can often have the exact opposite effect from that intended. Take, for example, the US campaign in Cambodia and the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. In both instances a heavy reliance was placed upon the use of strategic bombing, but the effect was to see thousands of civilians driven into the arms of the very enemy which they had sought to destroy.
The so-called Islamic State (IS) is well aware of such precedents and has deliberately sought, in the words of the distinguished Arab journalist Ali Hashem, to ‘tie several knots around its core to make it extremely difficult for enemies to target it effectively.’ IS feeds upon the acute sense of alienation and grievance felt by the Sunni Arab tribes towards the now Shia dominated Iraq and Alawite (a Shia-sect) dictatorship in Syria and has taken steps to project itself as the only organisation able to defend this community from further oppression and violence.
In portraying itself in this way, IS has tied the Sunni people into their network with the consequence that any attack against IS can now be presented as an attack against the Sunni people as a whole. Bombing will only make this bond stronger.
Will this outcome diminish the threat to the citizens of the United Kingdom?
The only way to defeat IS will be to drive a wedge between the IS leadership and their Sunni supporters. The only way to achieve this is through a long-term political process whereby an alternative focus for Sunni loyalty can be established, one not predicated upon the nihilistic ravings of a suicide cult.
You may wish to keep these thoughts in mind during the coming days and weeks.
Club Comment - September 2015
"A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"
By Martin H Pritchard
Until a few months ago, apart from the residents of Islington North and members of the Labour Party, the majority of the population had never even heard of Mr. Jeremy Corbyn; now Leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition in Parliament.
Obviously, many Labour centrists are shocked by the rise of the hard –left supporters of Mr. Corbyn within the party. Many will be waiting and hoping that this madness will disappear so that their political careers and beliefs can once again be advanced. Others, who may be less patient, may be tempted to throw in the towel and defect to the Lib Dems. Or, as suggested in The Daily Telegraph leader of 21/09/2015, will the moderates repeat history and, as we saw with the founding of the SDP in 1981, break away to form a new faction?
Club Christmas Dinner - December 2014
Speaker: Mr Alexander Boot
The Conservative Monday Club was honoured to welcome the distinguished author, critic and commentator Mr Alexander Boot as its guest speaker at the 2014 Club Christmas Dinner.
Having been born, raised and spending the early part of his career as a literary critic under the Soviet regime, Mr Boot was eventually driven from his homeland by the KGB. Since that time he has remained a keen observor and commentator on post-Soviet Russia and is openly critical of the regime of Vladimir Putin.
In his extended talk on the subject of Putin and Russia Mr Boot expounded the reasons why he believes Putin is actively seeking to rebuild the Soviet Union and why the West's inaction is only seeking to embolden him.
Club Meeting - October 2014
"Constitutional Reform: The Aftermath of the Scottish Referendum"
Speaker: Mr John Stevens
The Club will be hosting the former Conservative MEP and constitutional commentator Mr John Stevens at its autumn meeting in the House of Lords on the 22nd October.
RESERVE YOUR PLACE TODAY!
Club AGM Dinner - May 2014
"The Problems Confronting the Christians of the Middle East"
Speaker: Rt Revd Bishop Michael James Nazir-Ali
The Club was greatly honoured to host Rt Revd Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Lord Bishop of Rochester, as its AGM 2014 dinner speaker.
Having served as Bishop of Rochester for fourteen years, Bishop Michael is now President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue; a body which prepares Christians for ministry/service in hostile environments.
An expert on inter-faith dialogue and a fierce defender of Christian religious freedom, Bishop Michael spoke in great depth about the situation confronting the increasingly beleagued Christian communities of the Middle East.
Club Christmas Dinner - December 2013
Speaker: Mr Christopher Chope OBE MP
In the auspicious surroundings of London's East India Club, members came together to usher in the festive season.
The Club was delighted to welcome Mr Christoper Chope, Conservative Member of Parliament for Christchurch, former junior minister and leading local government reformer, as its Christmas speaker.
Covering a broad range of topics, Mr Chope gave his opinion on the Coalition, the broader direction of politics in Britain and the importance of the continuing efforts of grass-roots organisations, like the Club, to influence public debate.
Club Meeting - September 2013
'Same-Sex Marriage: the Wider Social Implications'
Speaker: Mr R.S. Harris
The Club was pleased to host the writer and religious affairs commentator Mr R.S. Harris as its autumn meeting speaker at the House of Lords.
Author of Is there a Case for Same-Sex Marriage?, a pamphlet which set forth a comprehensive and eloquent case against changing the definition of marriage, Mr Harris gave a very frank exposition of the sociological and political implications of the Government's legislation.
Published by the Christian think-tank Voice for Justice UK, Harris' work is a must read for all those who continue to oppose this disasterous and completely unnecessary legislation.
Annual General Meeting and a Club Dinner in Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Lady Thatcher - May 2013
Speaker: Mr Mark Littlewood, Director-General of the Institute of Economic Affairs
Following the Club's AGM, members gathered for a dinner to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Lady Thatcher.
Addressed by the eminent liberatrian commentator, Mr Mark Littlewood, the Club was made aware of the dangers that our nation faced should the Conservative Party shy away from the difficult and sometimes very painful decisions needed to restore the public finances; pointing to the example of Lady Thatcher and her 'the Lady is not for turning' attitude.
This was also an opportunity to reflect upon the still increasing extent of State interference, both in economic issues and in the daily lives of the individual, and why this must be rolled back in order that public and private prosperity, individual freedom and a sensible approach to government might be restored.
Club Comment Announcement
It is with great sadness that the President, Executive Council and Membership of the Conservative Monday Club would like to mark the passing of our former Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher on this day 8th April 2013.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to Lady Thatcher's family at this difficult time.
Little short of a revolutionary, Lady Thatcher's death signals the passing of era. A national leader and stateswoman whom few could hope to rival, but many seek to emulate, Lady Thatcher's legacy will be her dogged dedication and committment to principle and, through this, her success in restoring Britain to greatness after a period of near-terminal decline.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher LG OM PC FRS
13th October 1925- 8th April 2013
Rest now in peace, your duty is done
Club Meeting - March 2013
'Moral and Courageous Leadership in Politics and Economics'
Speaker: Major-General Timothy Cross CBE
We were honoured to welcome this distinguished field commander and logistics expert as speaker at the Club's spring meeting in the House of Lords.
Drawing on examples from his own military career, the financial crisis and the recent scandel involving Members of Parliament, Major-General Cross underlined the importance of an established moral-imperative as the fundamental qualification for leadership; whether militarily, politically or economically.
Club Comment - March 2013
Time for a New Vision of Society
By Conservative Monday Club House Blogger: Bolingbroke
Have the political leadership of Britain finally woken up to the economic-intellectual-philosophical bankruptcy of the 'universal benefits' system?
This afternoon Dr. Liam Fox MP delivered a speech in which he mentioned a word not uttered seriously in British political circles for more than twenty years: Socialism. Why? Most would argue that such an ideological position no longer has any purchase in the British political system since the cleansing of Clause 4 from the Labour Party manifesto back in the early 90s, however some would beg to differ.
In his speech today Dr. Fox correctly pointed to the fact that socialism was in fact still alive and well and that alarmingly its pernicious influence was still very much apparent in British society, the only difference was in the manner of its influence. Where once there were militant trades unions, rabid nationalisation and a culture which conscientiously attacked individual private enterprise, socialism has now taken the form of state welfare-culture entrenchment.
Fox decried the iniquity and expressed not a little horror at the fact that servicing the interest of the UK's national debt now consumes the third largest portion of the national wealth after health and welfare respectively.
This is ofcourse the direct result of the policies of the past fifteen years which saw a huge expansion of the welfare, health and education budgets. This binge being funded not on the dividend from increased industrial or commercial activity, but overwhelmingly on the back of public borrowing.
This orge of spending served only to construct and entrench a 'socialist-lite' model of universal entitlement to which society, and the political elite, become inseparately welded. It seemed that the party had to continue, no matter the cost to the nation, because the memory of what went before or the conception of something different had been made to seem to painful to contemplate.
But the party did end....the music stopping with the financial crisis. This exposed to everyone the full nightmarish extent of their own revels, and the vision was one that few wanted to confront. To a great extent confrontation has been continued to be dodged, to many are desperately hanging on to the idea that the party will one day return. And it is this idea that has hoisted a mill-stone around the neck of British industry and political discourse.
This perception of universal entitlement is no longer sustainable, a new vision of society is needed. This requires courageous and far-sighted leadership from the political elite. They are the ones who must confront the fact that the welfare state model of fifty years ago has been pandered too, fawned over and gorged upon by to many people, for to long, for no other reason than the perception that 'we are entitled, it is a universal benefit', and that we are no longer able to maintain this structure anymore.
The era of the socialist principle of 'universal benefit entitlement' is over, the role and intended purpose of the welfare system must be restored to adhere to its founding mission; it is a safety net, not a security-blanket.
In making a plea to freeze-public spending, rejecting the notion of ring-fencing budgets and highlighting the inherent injustice of multiple-taxation of the same income Dr. Fox is not just attempting to deal with the deficit, he is articulating a an alternative vision for Britain, he is leading the vanguard for a new remodelled structure of the state. A freer, more responsible and more proposerous society for all.
The Conservative Monday Club would like to offer its complete and unreserved support in the position of Dr. Liam Fox as set out in his speech today.
Club Comment- March 2013 By-Election Special
Why the Right Needs Unity!
By Conservative Monday Club House Blogger: Bolingbroke
So it has finally happened UKIP have beaten the Tories' share of the vote.
Yet one could say that this must be viewed as something of a Pyrrhic victory for UKIP because for all their triumphism they forget one key thing, that it was partly because of them that the Tories were denied the seat and this allowed the Liberal Democrat candidate the freedom to claim the prize. I am inclined to believe that this is the key forgotten aspect to this whole affair.
During the run up to the 2010 General Election the Conservative Party, at the height of its dizzying 'modernisation' drive, launched a rather unimpressive campaign slogan which ran: 'Vote Blue, Go Green'. In the light of the recent by-election result I would recommend a similar slogan for the UKIP election strategists: 'Vote UKIP, Bring Europe'. Please allow me to explain myself.
Responding to to the party's result Farage commented that key to UKIP's success was its engagement and connection with "...issues that the other parties would like to brush under the carpet." These issues were principly the cost and power of the EU and the looming end to immigration controls on the free-movement of people to the UK from Romania and Bulgaria. What is important to note however is that the Conservative Party also campaigned on similar grass-roots issues and if one was to compare the numbers of votes cast the UKIP lead over the Tories is barely a thousand, while it was closer to two thousand between UKIP and the Lib Dems.
Such a result suggests two things; firstly, that on these particular battleground issues the both parties of the centre-Right are essentially fighting over the same core of voters. But secondly, and more importantly, this turf-war has only served to demonstrate how the Coalition government has served to unite a previously divided Left and cause a fracture within the formerly united Right. As in Eastleigh division on the centre-Right split the vote successfully, allowing the Lib Dems to gain a victory, a victory for a party almost universally loathed by the electorate and during a time of general dissatisfaction with the incumbent government (of which may I add they are also a part!). But more than this the victory of the Lib Dems, caused by the division on the centre-Right, has returned another parliamentary member for a zealously Pro-Europe party. The Conservative and UKIP message about the creeping EU and the rise of immigration from the bloc has effectively been nullified as their division handed victory to those to whom such concerns are immaterial. Could one not call this a momumental betrayal of the conservative cause, not to mention all those hard working people who pledged their faith in a party committed to dealing with these issues? For UKIP this is especailly shaming as they claimed to represent a 'new force' in politics in contrast to the "...three social democrat parties that are frankly indistinguishable from each other" (Farage).
Well I hate to say this but as it stands the centre-Left and Europhile vote, if united, stands to sweep away all that we conservatives (that includes UKIP) hold dear. Your fabled 'new force' is not new, but a reflection of the Conservative Party's indiscriminate and bungled attempts to 'modernise' which has served only to alienate much of its heartland. The Conservative Party leadership are guilty of hubris in that they thought that hammering and hammering their core support base didn't matter because 'there was no where else from them to go'. They were wrong. UKIP rose upon the tide of this alienation and to some extend have proven how wrong it this policy has been, but evenmore so how electorally damaging.
Many of us traditional conservatives are angry and frustrated with the Conservative Party there is no doubt about this, however to abandon it will only serve the ends of the liberals and socialists. Let me point to the example of France and Canada where in both cases a split on the centre-Right brought socialist and liberal-socialist governments to power, one could hardly call that a triumph!
No, we must stay resolute in the defence of a united centre-Right (namely the Conservative Party) and it is up to groups like the Conservative Monday Club to make the strident and articulate case for a more thoroughly authentic conservatism which will help to restore both principle, and unity, to the centre-Right. Only in doing so can our great nation be spared once more the anguish of potentially another decade of Labour (or Lib Dem-Labour) mis-government and Europhilia!
Join the CONSERVATIVE MONDAY CLUB and help us restore unity on the Right!
Club Comment- February 2013
'The Great Unreformed Chamber'
A Radical Plan for House of Lords Reform
By Conservative Monday Club House Blogger: Bolingbroke
Last year witnessed another demonstration of the fact that constitutional reform can never, indeed must never, be attempted 'on the hoof'. I am ofcourse returning to that still unresolved (and probably for the next decade effectively dead), but ever thorny issue of House of Lords Reform.
Despite having been an issue which has accompanied the British political pantomime for well over a century now and something included in all three main parties' manifestos at the last election (conpicuously unlike the recent Gay Marriage legislation which arguably has the similarly complex constitutional and legal implications) the issue still as yet remains unresolved.
The attempts to initiate legislation last year succeeded in one thing only and that was to reveal how the issue remains something of a political minefield. Splitting all three main parties in three different directions, the attempts at reform highlighted the very fact that although all agree something must be done, no one has yet put forward a credible, or indeed logical plan for the effective recalibration of Britain's historic constitutional order.
With very little to lose due the deficit of workable options, one will venture to set out something of a plan here. At least to get the issue back on the table...
But before embarking upon this task however I think it necessary to highlight a key point which has emerged from the political commentary surrounding the issue. And it is this; apart from the Liberal Democrats, the other main parties' most significant greivance seems to be the avowdely 'political' manner in which new peers are appointed (being made largely upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition). For while the Liberals (one should note here note the entire Party but its vociferous front bench) continue in their cherished campaign for an elected Upper House, they fail to address the quite significant issue of the necessity of an equalisation of powers with the House of Commons, should the members of the Upper House also be given a democratic mandate.
Such a necessity could concievably upset the very operation of our legislature for quite sometime. Leading to the very real possibility of the eventual abolition of the House of Lords, and the conversion of the UK Parliament into a unicameral legislature. In my humble opinion neither outcome is particularly desirable as it would both weaken the professionalism and effectiveness of government administration, in that all Bills would be subject to the scrutiny of only the 'political chamber' (and therefore liable to constant short-terminist amendments). And second it would threaten the UK's democratic system of checks and balances which have been hard-wired into the ancient British constitutional settlement for many of hundreds of years.
A 'democratic' Upper House would be devoid of any sort of conscience (politically speaking); it would, quite unconsciously, drift into hubristic calculation, and policy would thus become shallow and weak.
The other parties however, have not been so fortright in their support for a fully democratic Upper Chamber. Many have commented on their dislike of the 'political nature' of appointments, but not then gone on too fully endorse an elected Upper House. Taking this to mean that, at best, one could say support for a fully democratic House of Lords was lukewarm, I feel that there is still the political space and, possibly even the will, to make an argument in defence of the current system of an appointed second chamber.
If the House of Lords is to be preserved as an institution it requires reform, this is a fact that has been recognised in the legislative programme of every government for over a century. Although few would contend that the House of Lords Act of 1998 was anything more than a poorly conceived and badly instigated attempt to resolve this fundamental constitutional issue, there can be no question that the the chamber needs to be redefined in structure and role in order to meet the needs of the modern democratic environment.
Being both a stout constitutionalist and having training as a historian might one suggest that we may find an answer by beginning in a review of the essential meaning of the House of Lords.
A chamber composed of 'Lords' presupposes the existence of an aristocracy, a term for many which is pregnant with connotations and presuppositions of a stratified and immovable class structure; of unearned privilege, of inherited wealth and influence, and (regrettably) a certain pompous snobbery. It being basically something to be found in a child's fairy story, but in reality very much an anachronism in the modern democratic age. Modern commentators constantly draw upon the apparent antithesis of aristocracy with the supposedly 'democratic' meritocracy, strident in their argument that 'rule by the best' (meritocracy) is somehow different than 'rule by the few' (aristocracy). One would like to pose the question that; is there actually a difference? Historically every aristocrat had to earn their position through merit, staking their claim to represent all that was 'best' and 'virtuous' of a contemporary society, did they not? If such an argument is accepted, if society acknowledges that some are simply better than other at what they do and because of this deserve acclaimation, then really the argument that such a clear-cut distinction can be made between the two concepts is quire weak.
Only one thing actually divides the two; the notion of heredity. The automatic assumption of position, duties and obligations, as well as influence and wealth, is the real bone of contention for most modern commentators. Convincing arguments can be made, and indeed should be made about the advantages of a hereditary system; with our monarchy as the most obvious and important argument. Such a system does provide benefits: stability and continuity in an ever changing world, a non-partisan, non-political centre for public unity and an un-ambitious and constant guardian of the constitutional order (being that their very continued existence is based upon the faithful maintenance of said order). However, as to its place in the actual legislature, a political environment, such arguments can no longer be made. The required non-partisan nature of the hereditary system has been arguably difficult to integrate within modern democratic-pluralism. For example, the House of Lords Act of 1998; the motivating factor in the legislation being that the preponderance of hereditary peers led to an entrenched majority for one party. Democracy must always be about balance, and this situation simply did not reflect that requirement.
Many politicians, although not firmly committed to an elected House of Lords have been quite vocal in their desire to see the role of the Lords remain as that of a Senate, or revising chamber, rather than become another expressly legislative chamber. Ergo, with this in mind, and with the points made above, what is needed is an "...aristocracy...distinguished by some quality which no other [member]...of the community possesses. Distinction [must once more] become the basis of aristocracy" (a quotation from the character of Millbank from Benjamin Disraeli's novel Coningsby). The House of Lords must be reconfigured once again as a 'Chamber of Experts', a role that is was historically designed to be (note the medieval period when the feudal system provided the most effective means for organising the administration and defence of the realm, the Lords being the council of the monarch's greatest lieutenants in this respect).
Hence, the justification for representation in the House of Lords should be those great institutions of state and industry which combine to form the fulcrum of the UK as a nation-state, as once the great landed magnates did. The balance should be 80% appointed, to 20% elected. While its composition should be determined thus:
Russell Group Universities: the Group elect their nominees from each field of study (medicine, law, the arts etc.) who would go forward to represent the nation's higher cultural and educational institutions.
Religious Bodies: the Lords Spiritual (representing the special role of the Church of England within the nation) are to remain, but also to be joined by a leading figure of each of Britain's other main faith groups.
Agriculture, Commerce and Industry: the UK's top agricultural, commercial and industrial bodies (e.g. NFU, UK Chamber of Commerce etc.) to dispatch a nominee from representing each area of economic activity.
Military and Uniformed Services: nominees from each branch to be admitted to the Lords.
The Law: Law Lords to remain in their current form.
State and Infrastructure: the NHS, the rail and transport industries, telecommunications and media (BBC, ITV, Sky etc.) to nominate representatives.
Apart from the military, religious, law and some institutions (the NHS for example), all other bodies will candidates for nomination to an Independent Lords Appointment Commission to consider their suitability and credentials to be a member of the revising chamber, before going to the vote (fulfilling a role similar to that of the Electoral Commission). The respective nominees will then be appointed to the peerage (on a life-peerage basis).
The elective element would be composed of 'political appointees' (as in the current system); composed of former political figures. These will have a limited term of fifteen years as they do not represent a 'permenant interest', but can submit themselves as a candidate to represent one of the interests above. They will be admitted to the peerage only for the duration of their term. They could be entitled as Lord Extraordinary. This would not apply to former Speakers or Party Leaders (unless a objection is raised by the House or Commission). Individuals may be elevated to the peerage as a reward for services etc (as in the current patronage system) however, unless elected to represent the 'political element' or one of the institutional bodies, they will not be permitted to sit in the House of Lords.
All legislation would then be scrutinised on a purely technocratic basis, and voted through on such merits, the 'political element' having been largely removed, the whole House would be geared solely to the technical detail of legislation. Lords Committees (expert committees), composing the respective interests of concerned parties, will debate and vote on legislation. If rejected, the committee will introduce suitable amendments, and then it will return to the Commons. The Salisbury Convention and the existing provisions regulating the passage of legislation under the Parliament Act 1949 will continue to stand.
Obviously this is a very basic outline for such a fundamental reformation of the UK's constitutional order, but one I believe will at least provide one possible direction that such reform could take. I mean, so far few others seem to have suggested much in the way of alternatives to the current impasse.
N.B. The view expressed in this article does not necessary reflect a current Conservative Monday Club position but merely voices an opinion which may or may not be adopted as a future policy position.
Club Comment- February 2013
Fascism and the BNP; Far-Right or Rascist Left-Wingers?
Guest Blog Piece by Joe Gerrard (Blogger for DASHTory.org)
The subject of [this] article is; for the most part, inspired by Daniel Hannan's excellent blog post on the Telegraph website [on the 16th February] in which he discussed what the Nazi Party and Hitler had in common with the socialism. I believe Alexandra Swann has also written on this subject, so most of what I will be presenting here is not original, but I think that it is a point that needs to be stressed, and I will include some original thoughts of my own.
When you think of the BNP, or for that matter, of any Fascist organisation, where would you instinctively place them upon that wonderfully flawless visualisation of political philosophy that is the left to right political spectrum. Well, with their ardent nationalism, bigotry, often aggressive image and their plain unpleasentness, many people would place them on the far right. But is this too simplistic? Does this misunderstand the actual fundamental ideological basis of fascist groups? Is it really fair to say that parties such as UKIP and even the Conservative Party must be condemned to share the same side of that spectrum with parties which seem worlds away from their own? Although it may seem to most people to be counter-intuitive, could it be possible that fascism has more in common with its traditional antithesis, the extreme left?
At first this seems outlandish. The far left's rhetoric is dominated primarily by the struggle between classes rather than races or nations. They call on the workers of the world to 'unite', a message which at first glance seems at least more tolerant than the xenophobic and outright rascist message of 'Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer' of the Nazis. But therein lies one of the fundamental similarities. Notice in both statements how there is no reference to the individual. For the fascist or hardcore left-winger you are part of a collective first and foremost, be it a proud member of the Aryan race, be it a class, race or nation, you are most certainly not an autonomous, choosing person with individual rights and responsibilities, your loyalty is to the group. Contrast this with the language of classical liberalism and of capitalism, where you are primarily an individual who is not pigeon-holed into one group or another but may co-operate with people as you see fit. This I think forms the basis of the ideological similarities between the two. They are both collectivist ideologies. Indeed, as F.A. Hayek pointed out-'[National Socialism] is simply collectivism freed from all traces of an individualist tradition which might hamper its realisation.' To return then to the question. If this is so, does that make the BNP left wing? This is still unclear. Collectivist, most certainly. But what does collectivism mean in practice? A quick glance at the BNP's election manifesto (which I might ironically add, is rather ironically named Rebuiding Britain's Democracy) suggests that it means very much the samething that it meant not only to Adolf Hitler, but also for many of the extreme socialists today. The BNP describes its economic policy as 'the antidote to globalism' and pledges a 'free and fully funded NHS' (how they think people can have it for 'free' is beyond me, but I digress) and they declare themselves 'economic nationalists' who 'believe it is the duty of the government to pro-actively run the economy for the benefit of the nation.'
This could be the climax of any of Hitler's speeches, or Stalin's for that matter, so what does this entail for policy? Well, for starters, 'wherever new industries are created...worker-ownership schemes will be implemented as far as possible.' They go on; 'The resources required can only be mobilised by a government that sets out to play the guiding role in our national revival.' They would also place tariffs on goods coming from abroad, and they would naturally also keep people from abroad out as well, which appear to most to be the BNP's flagship policy (at any rate its the one that gets the most attention). Does that mean, therefore, that fascism and communism are completely synonymous with one another?
Not exactly, they have their differences, indeed Nick Griffin likes to bang on about how he hates the left, just as Hitler did. However, what I wanted to identify here was the similarities they share, and that it can be problematic simply placing the BNP, or any other party for that matter, into the very neat slots of the political spectrum. It is worth mentioning at this point that nationalism, the very thing that is supposed to mark the BNP out as right-wing, has never historically been associated with one particular political ideology. During the mid-nineteen century nationalism was associated with the liberal movements for instance; those that emerged in Germany during the 1848 revolutions. Then its language or culture which were supposed to transcend the loyalties ethnic Germans had to their Prussian, Saxon or Bavarian rulers, not merely the view that your own country is somehow superior to everyone else's.
What Fascism and Communism fundamentally have in common is their world view. Class or country you are part of a collective, whether you like it or not. You are not an individual, you are a component of a group and more often than not you will find that your group is in conflict with another group. Collectivism and individualism are completely at odds with one another. And it is the parties that have embraced capitalism and some measure of liberalism, generally the parties of the centre-right- such as the Conservatives and UKIP- who are the heirs to the individualist tradition. Collectivism, on the other-hand, is the creature of the Left.
(This article was reproduced with the kind permission of DASHTory.org)
Club Comment- February 2013
Cameron On Britain and the European Union
Guest Commentator: Rodney Atkinson
Cameron repeatedly gave the reasons why the UK should stay within the constitutional structures of the European Union,thus negating any bargaining power he might have had.
Of course Cameron's procrastinating strategy is only possible if:
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Club Comment- January 2013
"Defence is for the life of a nation, not just for politics"
Conservative Monday Club House Blogger: Bolingbroke
According to the Daily Telegraph David Cameron has today (31st January) pledged not to renege on his committment to increase defence spending above inflation by the second half of the decade. This move was originally part of the political trade-off surrounding the Coalition's controversial Strategic Security and Defence Review in 2010 which had slashed defence spending by a wopping eight percent; this was billed as only a temporary measure in order to help with the Coalition's plan to cut the deficit. Cameron argued that the service chiefs merely had to be patient while the house was put in order, after which time there would be money enough to increase the defence budget once more as the economy grew.
In re-issuing this committment today, this is in spite of a lack of growth in the UK econom,. demonstrates an important lesson for both Cameron, and for the broader direction of defence and foreign policy planning over the last decades. One can summerise this lesson in a parody of a well-known phrase: '...defence is for the life of a nation, not just for politics'.
This is a timeless piece of wisdom, and one which the campaign group the UK National Defence Association has been trying to hammer into the political establishment for several years now. They make the case that "...over the past twenty-five years the percentage of the UK GDP invested in defence has been remorselessly reduced (from near five percent in 1980, to barely two percent today)." And while "...politicians of all parties chant the mantra that 'Defence is the first priority of Government'...the evidence shows otherwise. All three Armed Services have been repeatedly reduced in size and capability so that they are now chronically over-stretched for the tasks they are given."
Now anticipating the crowing of the liberal-left and the cheap-government lobby about the apparent changing geo-political situation following the end of the Cold War; I would argue that this is a far from comprehensive argument in favour of reducing national defence as a priority. Why? Well let us review the events since 1991, the year that led Francis Fukuyama to announce that the 'end of history' had come, which heralded the apparent end of the almost metaphysical conflict between ideologies. However, the threat of such ideological conflict did not die with the fall of Communism, rather the dangers which threatened the free nations of the world merely become less clearly defined- and paradoxically worse. From the nationalist backlash in the Balkans and Africa, to the rise of SMART technology, the emergence of militant Islam and the gradual realignment of geo-political dominance in the world, the post-Cold War era has been far from sunshine and flowers, and in many ways just as prone to conflict (albeit of a different kind) as at anytime before.
But added to this toxic combination came the once fashionable (but now fading) doctrine of Liberal Interventionism which, made popular by American neo-Cons, became the key foriegn policy platform of the New Labour era. If one was to recount Blair's 'liberal interventions': Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, all of these wars (with the possible exception of Afghanistan) were fought primarily on the basis of promoting a certain political position, rather than from a purely national defence perspective. Now whether one subscribes to this philosophy or not, I am not here to judge, but what one must argue is that if an elected government considers it worthwhile to charge around the world 'saving' people that is their prerogative, but to do so while deliberately starving the armed forces of funds to buy votes at home*, and then expect said armed forces to fight and die for your cause is just plain exploitative; indeed you would achieve the same ends more honourably by recruiting mercenaries.
*By this I mean the practice of 'salami-slicing' politically cheap savings from the armed forces budget to pour into the often bloated, but 'popular', welfare, health and education budgets.
Now do not take this for an attack against the proper provisioning of the health service or public education, the point I wish to make is that government's need to make a choice. As the UK National Defence Association states; "...if we are to maintain our leading international role (UN Security Council), uphold our treaty obligations (NATO) and play our full part in the world community...we need to enhance our defence capability, not reduce it." The UKNDA highlights the crucial point that "...defence policy is inextricably linked to national and international security and to the nation's foreign policy. Funding for defence must therefore be seen in the context of these requirements."
National defence is a primary priority, and it is about time the political establishment recognised this. Thankfully, as mentioned, events seem to have intervened to remind the Prime Minister, but more especially his Chancellor, that although there may not be any inexpensive political capital in military expenditure, 'guns keep butter on the table'.
The Conservative Party, and more especially the Conservative Monday Club, has always acknowledged the importance of properly funded armed forces both as an institution, and as a national priority. And so the Conservative Monday Club warmly welcomes the Prime Minister's pledge not to renege on his committment to our armed forces, no matter the economic climate.
This is a victory for rational government, but steps must be taken for the future to ensure that the ever capricious nature of political advantage does not continue to plunder the nation's war-chest and so the Conservative Monday Club would urge, without condition, the Conservative Party to endorse in its entirety the UK National Defence Association's policy of enshrining a defence funding agreement of a minimum of three percent of GDP in its 2015 manifesto.
(N.B. Please note that the Conservative Monday Club is now to endorse the UKNDA policy as its own defence policy as part of the Club's Aims and Objects).
Club Comment- January 2013
"Too Late to Turn Back the Flood"
Publications Editor: Martin Pritchard
The Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent speech on Europe will have given many of the citizens of this country reason to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel for The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland to withdraw from the European Union.
Club Comment - December 2012
"No Taxartion Without Representation"
Executive Member: Cllr. Leo Walters
The Euro is failing before our very eyes. It is like a soap opera on the TV and I would estimate the real financial storm is still to come.
It is wishful thinking to say you can save the Euro or make it a success. The Euro is fundamentally flawed in that a single currency, single interest and exchange rates for 17 diverse European countries without a central Treasury cannot, and will never work.
Greece should be allowed to leave the Euro. Readers will remember that Great Britain left the ERM and we recovered quite quickly and successfully.
I do sincerely hope that our Coalition Government is not directly or indirectly using tax-payers' money, either through the IMF or elsewhere, to prop up the Euro. It would simply be throwing good money after bad. However, I believe we have an exposure to the European Investment Bank which is considerable. Perhaps our MPs could let us know the true position?
To get growth you need vision and bold leadership. I would respectfully suggest de-regulation, the ending of the Euro currency and abandoning the absurd and unobtainable EU targets for CO2 emissions. The latter has an entirely unproven link to natural climate change, but is crippling our businesses and jacking up our residential energy bills quite unnecessarily and making us less competitive.
Again, Members of Parliament whom we elect must have authority as to how our tax-payers' money is spent. The maxim is "...no taxation without representation." Unfortunately, because this country is a member of the European Union, our parliamentary representatives no longer have the ultimate authority as to how our tax-payers' money is spent. This was brought into sharp focus recently in the House of Commons during the debate on the EU budget. Even if David Cameron used Britain's veto on the EU 7-year Budget, it would automatically become an annual budget plus inflation in which David Cameron would have no veto. The amount of the annual budget would be determined by qualified majority voting. Knowing that 17 countries out of the 27 get more out of the budget than they put in (Great Britain is not one of them), readers can see what in fact would happen.
This whole sorry tale is just another example, if one were needed, of why we must, as a matter of urgency, re-negotiate our relationship with Europe. The negotiation must be on the principle basis of a trading agreement, as we were originally promised. Europe sells us twice as much as we sell them, so it should not be too difficult to negotiate.
Apart from trade, we must rid ourselves of the colossal political and legal interference from Europe in our affairs. Now, over 75% of legislation is first made in Brussels by people you have not elected or even heard of. For example, at the moment there is the free movement of people within Europe, immigrants are coming to this country to enjoy state benefits they do not enjoy in their own country. They enjoy benefits here to which they have made no contribution, putting enormous pressure on our hospitals, schools and housing- this is surely wrong. As an island, it should be comparatively easy to control our borders and allow immigrants in who we wish to enter this country. Once the new agreement is negotiated, it should be put to the British people in a referendum.
(Councillor Leo Walters is Conservative Councillor for Bray in Berkshire, and has been twice Mayor of Windsor)
Club Comment - September 2012
The 3 “Rs”
Publications Editor: Martin Pritchard
The Education Secretary Michael Gove, has come under attack from parents and teachers in the row over "fixing" of GCSE results in English. The Chief Executive of Ofqual, the regulator, Genys Stacey, said it would look at how exam boards set themarks that pupils needed for a grade C.
Apparently, the number of pupils achieving grade C or above in English fell by 1.5%. Pupils of the same ability were awarded widely differing grades depending on the month of their assessment. The Exam boards have been accused of bowing to Michael Gove, who has said in public that he would welcome an end to decades of grade inflation in GCSEs.
The drop in GSCE grades, was the first fall since the qualification replaced GCE O-LEVEL IN 1988. Michael Gove has stated that he intends to stop the annual grade inflation that had seen the pass rate at C go up from 42% in 1988 to 69% and A grades tripling from 8% in 1988 to 23% in 2011. Apparently, pupils starting GCSE next month will no longer be able to sit exams repeatedly over two years but will be required to take them at the end of the course. This is designed to stop the annual grade inflation and lead to a better knowledge and understanding of subjects.
The actual overall drop in the pass rate is 0.4%, which is minuscule, yet parents and teachers are outraged as this may see their children or pupils receive a D grade instead of a C grade. Over the last twenty years, the pass rate has increased to the extent one would easily believe that we had a whole youth population of geniuses, when in fact, all that had happened was that the standards required to pass the examinations had lowered.
This is repeatedly endorsed by the number of students entering university who are unable to spell correctly or master simple arithmetic without the aid of a calculator. Even those pupils who do not go to university but leave school with GCSEs fare little better as commented upon by Dr. Martin Stephen, former High Master of St. Paul's School and Manchester Grammar School. He believes that GCSEs offer little or none of the practical competence and mastery of basic numeracy that employers crave. He believes that radical changes are needed to our education system - starting with a Certificate of Core Skills in numeracy and literacy for all 14-year olds, after which they choose to follow a vocational or academic path, with the exams designed by the employers and academics respectively.
Michael Gove has also suggested that candidates sitting exams would lose up to 5% for poor spelling, punctuation and grammar in subjects that involve extended writing, such as geography or history.
To further promote a return to core subjects, the government has introduced the English Baccalaureate to measure schools on the proportion of children who achieve at least a grade C in English, maths, two sciences, a foreign language and history and geography [Editor: I seem to recall these were essential subjects to gaining a school matric or "O" levels some 50 years ago. It worked then!!]
It is also utterly beyond belief to hear that there are more than 3,000 vocational and "soft" qualifications previously regarded as equivalent to GCSEs that are to be stripped out of the school league tables. Michael Gove believes that subjects such as horse care, fish husbandry and nail technology are being used to bolster schools results in the league tables.
One of the Educational Aims of the Conservative Monday Club is: ‘The 3 “Rs” need support and the restoration of grammar schools should be actively encouraged.’
While the latest row over GCSE grades in English continues, more worrying is the number of teenagers leaving school without the 3 “Rs”. A recent study has revealed that a fifth of teenagers leave school so illiterate and innumerate that they are incapable of dealing with the challenges of everyday life.
Some 22% of 16-19 year olds in England are functionally innumerate - meaning their maths’ skills are limited to little more than basic arithmetic, researchers from Sheffield University discovered. This means that their numeracy levels are at or below that of an 11 year old.
Meanwhile, 17% of 16-19-years olds are functionally illiterate - meaning that they cannot handle much more than straightfoward questions. It is unlikely, or even impossible, that they will understand illusion or irony. Their reading standard is at or below an 11-year old's. Greg Brookes, Professor of Education at Sheffield University and one of the study's authors, said that school leavers in these catergories lacked the skills "to deal confidently with many of the mathematical challenges of contemporary life" and had a lower standard of literacy "than is needed to partake in employment, family life, citizenship and to enjoy reading for its own sake."
Professor Brookes's research also encompassed competancy in writing and revealed that many children are starting school having never been read a story. Teachers had said that stories that children did know often seemed to come from watching Disney cartoons.
It does not require too much imagination for one to observe the social ramifications where children have received little education and are unable to read, write or communicate clearly. The House of Commons Library Standard Note of 15th August, 2012, records that, in the period April-June 2012, 1.01 million young people aged 16 - 24 years were unemployed. Down 4,000 on the pevious quarter and up 55,000 (or 5.8%) on the same quarter 2011. These statistics do not indicate that all the 1.01 million young people were uneducated as some young people will be unemployed for a variety of reasons. However, what realistic chance has a young person with no literacy or basic mathematical skills have of being considered for employment? During the current recession there are, in some areas of the country, 40 or more applicants for a job and that is for work paying only the minimum wage.
In March this year, Chief Schools Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw stated that Britain is being overtaken by other nations as progress on literacy has stalled. He added that reading standards had not improved since 2005 and said that one in five 11-year olds did not make the grade. He called for primary school targets to be raised saying, "Our standards should be higher." He pointed out that standards in literacy did go up between 1995 and 2005.
“The latest Program for International Student Assessment Survey in 2009 showed the UK had slipped to joint 23rd place in a global assessment of literacy” said Sir Michael. He added that “the secret to boosting children's reading and writing abilities - and their overall academic performance - lay in getting things right when they were young. As a result, too many young people lack the functional skills to make their way in the modern world. They are more likely to be unemployed, unwell, in prison or supported by the state.”
Sir Michael has set out a plan to raise standards of literacy in England. He questioned whether the present target for 11-year olds was challenging enough to prepare them for secondary school. He believed that England had "tolerated mediocrity for too long" and radical changes were needed.
In the future, new teachers would receive phonics training. The government believes that a stronger emphasis on phonics will improve literacy levels and he explained that this is a method of teaching children to read by teaching them the sounds of letters and groups of letters. This system worked brilliantly for decades before the trendy left-wing liberals changed it.
The Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed Sir Michael and endorses the measures that he believes need to be implemented in order that more children up to the age of 11 years will have the necessary literacy skills to cope with secondary education.
It may be a trip down memory lane, but one cannot help but wonder whatever happened to teaching at primary school which encompassed spaced repetition of mathematical tables, eg:
9 x 9 = 81 or 12 x 12 =144
[Editor: This certainly worked for me as I remember them 50 years later.]
Also, English - reading books and if you didn't know what a word meant - looking it up in a dictionary (having of course been made to learn the alphabet first).
What is a full stop, a comma and when to use double and single inverted commas? As has been the subject of several books - the use of the apostrophe (when sitting at traffic lights, it is interesting to observe the names of shops whose owners obviously have no idea that there should be an apostrophe, eg: Lindas Flowers or Browns painters).
Michael Gove is positively attempting to tackle a major problem which has been recognised by both himself and the Prime Minister David Cameron. The Conservative Monday Club wholeheartedly supports their actions and believes that a sound knowledge of reading, writing and mathematics, as a basic requirement, is essential in the early formative years of children's education. Without these core skills they are woefully ill-equipped to continue into secondary education. They certainly won't be debating whether the bar has been raised to obtain a "C" grade GCSE as they will not even be sitting the exam. It would seem a little late to be teaching young people English or how to write when they are in prison or unemployable.
Many of our most successful businessmen and women; senior NCOs in the Armed Forces, public service personnel and members of all our emergency services and numerous other skilful occupations, have forged a successful career without a University Degree. However, they did have the 3 ”Rs” as a minimum.
The great thing with education, is that it gives a choice to do what you really want to do with your life. Without the ability to communicate in all its forms, your choices are limited. For certain professions, a degree is a prerequisite. However, as many postgraduates have found in today’s economic uncertainty, a degree does not guarantee them a job.
I cannot but mention an example of an individual who chose not to go to university, although he was more than qualified to do so: Staff Sergeant Karl "Badger" Ley GM ATO II Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Joint Force EOD Group.
A South Yorkshireman, he joined the Army on 14th November 1999 as a Private in the Royal Logistics Corps. At school, he obtained A levels in geography, history, sociology and general studies, having earlier gained 9 GCSEs. This could have taken him to university and then on to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to train as an Army officer. He had been offered places at university, including King’s College London, to pursue war and peace studies but the idea of spending three years "locked in lecture halls" and then facing a large debt at the end of his degree didn't appeal.
Ten years after joining the Army, Staff Sergeant Ley was posted to Afghanistan as a High Threat IEDD (Improvised Explosive Device Disposal) leader. From September 2009 to March 2010 he defused 139 IEDs.
His George Medal citation reads:
"Staff Sergeant Ley has dealt with more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) than any other operator in history. To date, Ley has made safe and recovered 139 IEDs across Helmand Province. In supporting the infantry's intensity of operations, Ley willingly accepted an incredibly high level of personal risk, often having to deploy on foot with only what he could carry in his rucksack. On a 72-hour operation in November 2009, Ley defused 28 Victim Operated Improvised Explosive Devices and tackled 14 bombs. Ley painstakingly defused seven of the devices so that they could be recovered intact for intelligence purposes. This single day typifies the sheer determination, guile and awesome bravery of this man. During his six-month deployment, Ley has been exposed to more than twice the number of IEDs than any other High Threat IEDD Operator and, with a limited number of available IED operators, Ley has worked tirelessly in the most hazardous of conditions, enduring both mental and physical fatigue, displaying unwavering dedication and conspicuous gallantry over a sustained period."
(Extract from "Bomb Hunters" by Sean Rayment. Harper Collins 2011)
Club Comment - April 2012 - Broken Promises >>>>
Christmas message - December 2011
It is important that we all discuss and campaign to both maintain and strengthen the union of our United Kingdom.
As a nation, our true value lies with all the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Our strength is forged when we all stand together.
We must continue to work for the restoration of our national sovereignty and independence, and an end to external control and interference over the government and laws of the United Kingdom.
Club Comment - October 2010
Publications Editor: Martin Pritchard
For years the Labour Government insisted that minor crime rates had decreased. We all knew that this was absolute nonsense and that the majority of minor crimes are no longer reported by the public as they considered it to be a waste of time, as no action would be taken by the police.
Now we all know that Labour was totally wrong and that the public was right.
The recent report “Stop the Rot”, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, paints a damming indictment of how the police in England and Wales are failing to respond to millions of cases of anti-social behaviour.
Sir Denis O’Connor CBE QPM Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary said that the basic task of keeping the peace had been relegated to a “second-order consideration” for officers who were obsessed with meeting targets for actual crimes.
Sir Denis is well qualified to assess the current malaise amongst police officers, having been a police officer since 1968 when he joined the Metropolitan Police. He served in various ranks in the Met, later becoming Chief Constable of Surrey from 2000-2004, after which he became an Inspector of Constabulary and is now Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
In the “Stop the Rot” report is highlighted that, in one year, there were 3.5 million incidents of anti-social behaviour but it is estimated that this figure represents only one in four of the real total - 14 million acts of anti-social behaviour.
Sir Denis said that a “strategic error” was made in the 1970s that downgraded the importance of street patrols. He added that from the late 1990s, [ under Labour ] the relentless focus on crime statistics had led to forces neglecting their core duty to keep the peace. The report further revealed a growing gap between what the public wanted, namely “boots on the ground” and what the police were delivering. “The public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime. For them it’s really a sliding scale of grief.”
Sir Denis said that some police officers do not feel that tackling anti-social behaviour is “real policing”. He called for early intervention to “nip in the bud” problems so they did not spiral out of control, and an end to underestimating anti-social behaviour. He added, “Make no mistake. It requires feet on the street.”
Since the publication of Sir Denis’s report and the subsequent press coverage, other senior police officers have admitted that the police have lost the faith of the public. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner stated that “This is more to do with the psychological contract between the citizen and the police. And occasionally the citizen might be forgiven in thinking that the psychological contract has been broken. They (the public) are on the streets and the police are in buildings and vehicles, not doing other things. That is the critical issue. …..we are not saying that the public should do this on their own. We should be out there. We should be saying ‘we want to be on the streets on your behalf. We want to make them safe.’”
He added, “ In years gone by we have lost the sense of the importance of visible street patrols - effecting as best as we can, uniform governance of the streets and public places, owning the streets on behalf of the public so that we can enjoy using them.
We need to give people confidence we are supporting them and we are doing that through visible police patrol.”
While the Commissioner and the Chief Inspector of Constabulary have both spoken forthrightly regarding a greater police presence on the streets, others such as the Association of Chief Police Officers sited their other areas of responsibility namely tackling organised crime and terrorism although the HMIC report found that 90 per cent of the public thought that it was the responsibility of the police to tackle thugs and yobs.
What is surely astonishing from the comments made by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Metropolitan Commissioner is that a situation where the police no longer “rule” the streets has been allowed to happen at all. Most of the blame can only be apportioned to the police themselves, particularly senior supervising officers. Has there been a deliberate policy that “so called minor offences” such as riding bicycles on pavements, groups of youths obstructing the pavements, drunken loutish behaviour has been deliberately ignored?
I can recall from personal experience that, thirty years ago, in Birmingham, such offences were not ignored. The police did have a commanding presence on the streets and any so-called “anti-social” behaviour was not tolerated. Youths were arrested for obstructing the pavement, drunken disorderly conduct was not tolerated and persons immediately arrested. People did not ride bicycles on the pavement. (And at this time, acts of terrorism were being committed which depleted the number of police officers on the streets) Most of the offences I have outlined are still arrestable offences but it appears police officers deem them to be too minor or can’t be bothered.
In defence of the police, to patrol some of the “barren wastelands” or sink estates prevalent in parts of the country may at times seem a hopeless task, where the majority of the residents are criminals and resent any police presence anyway. However, living in these areas are often old or infirm people who are too afraid to venture out of their homes and they most certainly would welcome the reassuring presence of police officers.
It is accepted that “more boots” are needed on the streets. This presents several logistical problems. Firstly where are the extra beat officers to be found and secondly how effective are they really going to be unless there is a distinct change of policy as to their attitude to what is defined as criminal or lawless behaviour?
A large percentage of front-line beat officers are young and relatively inexperienced in terms of police service. This situation arises due to several factors. For the first two years of service officers are on probation. On completion of their probationary period, they may sit their sergeant’s examination. If successful, they are eligible to apply for the police college for accelerated promotion. After the two year period, many officers apply to specialist departments, eg CID, dog handlers, traffic department, mounted department etc. All these specialist departments are staffed by officers who have joined and completed their initial two years’ beat patrol.
In the case of the Metropolitan Police, promotion is also by either accelerated promotion, the graduate entry scheme or competitive promotion examinations. The Met also has far more specialist departments to fill than any other force in the country, eg Anti-Terrorism Branch (formerly Special Branch) Murder Squad, Flying Squad, Fraud Squad, Diplomatic Protection, Royalty Protection and numerous others.
I believe that as even more officers are now required for these specialist departments, particularly the anti-terrorist branch, it has depleted the number of uniform officers available on the beat.
Add to the fact that the uniformed officer has days off/annual leave/regular training courses/possible short-term attachments to other specialist departments, and then it is no wonder that the actual compliment of personnel per shift can very often be minimal.
Unfortunately, like any large public sector organisation, the police service has its members who are competent and others who, to use the old adage, are “uniform carriers”. That does not mean to say that all beat officers are incompetent - far from it - but it sometimes means that in reality some of the “best brains” have moved on to other more specialist departments.
It should, of course be remembered that the primary role of the police is the prevention and detection of crime and that they are not social workers nor is their role to remedy society’s moral or economic failings. They conduct their duties on behalf of society - they cannot do this in isolation. The courts (particularly Magistrates) have had their powers curtailed in terms of sentencing offenders, which must have a demoralising effect upon police officers - who very often see repeat offenders walking away with little or no punishment to deter them from committing further offences. One only has to read the sentences imposed upon offenders in the local press to realise just how galling this must be. Officers can be assaulted and the offender is merely fined a derisory amount (the fine is not paid or the offender cannot pay).
If society is to expect officers to subject themselves to possible assault, verbal abuse, complaints (for doing their job) then it has an obligation to ensure they receive the backing of not only the courts but their senior officers. Too often, senior officers are more concerned with furthering their own career and not wishing to stand up and be counted to support their own officers.
Successive Home Secretaries and party political manifestoes have stated that police paperwork will be reduced to enable more officers to patrol the streets - in reality these promises are soon forgotten and the situation remains unchanged or in some forces, due to economic factors and budget cuts, officer numbers have even been reduced. Many police forces now have a recruitment freeze.
The “status” of the patrolling beat police officer should, I believe, be enhanced and, yet again, this can only be achieved by reducing the volumes of paperwork that they and in particular supervisory officers are overwhelmed with. Apart from demonstrations and high profile events, how often are Inspectors or Chief Inspectors seen on the streets? Rarely these days. There was a time when these officers thought nothing less of meeting officers under their command from a supervisory and support role, offering advice and encouragement. Today, they rarely move from one committee meeting or are desk-bound under a deluge of paperwork, meeting so called “targets” required by the Home Office.
A major re-appraisal of the deployment of uniformed personnel, including supervisory officers, is required to ensure that more officers are visible and effective on our streets. Only then will they “rule” the streets instead of the situation which now prevails in city and town centres the length and breath of the land.
Apart from a dramatic change in the mindset of the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour (highly unlikely) the situation on our streets of disorderly loutish behaviour, will continue unabated unless the police presence is more proactive in reducing such behaviour. This will require a major re-organisation of the uniform branch of the police force together with far more support from the courts in the sentencing of offenders. Until that happens, Sir Denis O’Connor’s comments regarding the police attitude to anti-social behaviour will remain unchanged.
AN ELECTION STATEMENT BY THE CONSERVATIVE MONDAY CLUB
Brown is now full of plans for the future. Why has he not done more in the past 13 years? Labour has all but destroyed the British way of life and put every household economically in danger.
What we need is meaningful change in the hands of a responsible government. This will only be achieved by a vote for the Conservatives.
CONSERVATIVE MONDAY CLUB JOURNAL JANUARY 2010
Publications Editor: Martin Pritchard
How anyone of sound mind could think of voting Labour at the next election, you might think. How indeed, the very thought gives me indigestion.
So we have to get across to the electorate the sheer incompetence of the Government in the last 12 years. For those of you with the time, you could write a suitable letter or e-mail to the letters page of all the "red-top" newspapers and The Guardian, pretending to be a disgruntled Labour supporter! Seriously though, how are we to get the message across to the masses? Any serious suggestions please send to Conservative Head Office!
Personally, I cannot forgive their sheer naivety, even after 12 years, about how business actually works. There is no acceptable excuse when a new government, as they were 12 years ago, has access to all the advice they need but either do not ask for it, ask a limited clique of consultants, or do not take it when given.
The business community, along with the rest of the population, including us Conservatives, showed tremendous goodwill, trust and hope when Tony Blair first won a landslide election. These feelings were shattered within a year by the Bernie Ecclestone tobacco advertising lobby which purportedly managed to change the law for a suitable amount of largesse.
Regarding company pensions, did Gordon Brown as Chancellor not realise that his tax on dividends would affect businesses so adversely that most good company pension schemes would cease to operate in their present form, or in some cases cease altogether? What did he think would happen? Did he even care?
As far as City Academies are concerned, a key part of Labour’s Education policy was to award 30 year contracts/leases on schools/academies to private/business sponsors. Did it not occur to Tony Blair that sponsors are interested in these projects to make profits, not to run them as charities? This naivety has meant that a school/academy has to; for instance, the Head of the academy has no say in which maintenance company they must use for the next 30 years, even though they are paying the bills, and have frequently ended up paying three to four times as much as they had previously done as they can use only specified companies, nominated by the business sponsor for their maintenance needs. The Head has a limited budget, and therefore much essential maintenance to buildings etc is not being done. Are we surprised that many senior staff have resigned in protest at this ridiculous situation?
Who but Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown could give the Banks billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money with no formal, binding and strict terms and conditions attached regarding how this money was to be used, and how the Bank was to operate in the future. Shock and Horror when those naughty boys at the Banks treated this as monopoly money - slap hands you naughty children!! It would be laughable, this naivety, were it not so serious.
As for the ridiculous policy of six months’ paid paternity leave, I do not know any businessman who thinks this is a good idea. Most men don't want it and don't take it but how can small businesses run efficiently or plan properly with this type of handicap?
The latest policy initiative from Harriet Harman regarding equal pay for everyone doing the same job is equally ludicrous. It takes no account of individual productivity, efficiency or success in a salaried post with no bonus element. It may have nothing to do with experience or length of service. Factory workers, for instance on a production line understand this perfectly well. Managers must have the freedom to determine individual and varying salaries of staff doing the same job or performing the same function. It is nonsense to suggest otherwise, and also has nothing to do with whether these are male or female workers either.
The naivety of this government is demonstrated in other areas too. Who, with even a normal level of understanding of human beings, would imagine that, if given an easy opportunity, a large percentage of average individuals would not ‘fiddle’ their benefit claims or claim benefits they are not entitled to?? The terrible naivety of the Labour in this regard is amply demonstrated by the huge growth in benefit claimants in their first eight years, well before the recession. Finally waking up to this problem has meant fraud teams have pursued over 50,000 claims already, and this is just the ones found so far.
Only this sorry excuse for a government could deliberately flood the country with illegal immigrants, releasing them in to the community and then expect them to show up, sometimes several years later, on demand, when asked to do so by letter, knowing that they are likely to be deported. Naivety at its height!
And the biggest mistake, born out of naivety on the part of Tony Blair, who always wanted to be a player on the world stage of the stature of a President of the United States but never could be, was himself brilliantly "played" by the American hawks who saw his desperation and used it to get our secret agreement to an illegal and immoral war. Whilst Blair looked adoringly up to him, Bush looked upon Blair as a junior sycophant with a schoolboy crush on him. Naivety!!
Mr. Blair has yet to attend the Chilcot enquiry regarding the reasons for Great Britain's participation in the Iraq war but it would appear that this enquiry will be as toothless as the Hutton enquiry into the death of Doctor David Kelly; the government weapons inspector. Dr Kelly was found dead in woods a few miles from his home in July, 2003.
He had been Britain's chief weapons inspector with the very highest level of security clearance. The subsequent Hutton enquiry attributed his death to Dr Kelly having committed suicide.
In his excellent book, "The Strange Death of David Kelly" (published by Methuen Publishing Ltd, 8, Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RZ in 2007) Mr Norman Baker, MP for Lewes in Sussex, asks difficult and problematic questions that seem to not have occurred to Lord Hutton.
Norman Baker's book not only throws into question the whole creditability of the Hutton enquiry and rightly asserts that Dr Kelly was murdered by persons at present unknown, but highlights the lies, deception and spin by past and present members of the labour government during the build up to Britain's involvement in the Iraq war.
Whatever the outcome of the Chilcot enquiry may be (William Hill wouldn't take any bets, I'm sure, on a nil result) far more damming evidence is contained in Norman Baker's book. It may not be light Christmas reading but is most certainly a damming indictment of Mr. Blair's assertion that the war with Iraq was inevitable.
During this festive season, I am sure that all our members will be thinking of the British and other military personnel serving in Afghanistan. To them we pray they may have a Christmas without injury and some time away from the battlefront.
I would, on behalf of the President, Chairman and members of the Executive Council, like to extend my best wishes for the New Year and thank you for your continued support of the Conservative Monday Club.
Club Bulletin - August 2009
In the summer 2009 edition of the Conservative Monday Club Journal, my fellow member of the Executive Council, Barry Lenz, wrote an article in which he highlighted our debt of honour to the former and serving members of the Gurkhas. He quite rightly emphasised that “In today’s world, issues have become increasingly complex….but some times an issue stands out like a beacon of blinding light….”
I remembered Barry’s words on the 13th August, 2009 when listening to the Jeremy Vine programme on Radio 2 and heard him interviewing the recently elected Mayor of Doncaster, Mr Peter Davies. To those members who were fortunate enough to have heard the interview, my apology for repeating what was said but to those who didn’t I am sure you will find the new Mayor’s policies interesting.
Firstly, Doncaster Council has a chequered history of corruption amongst some of its council members - back in the 1990s, 19 councillors were charged on various counts of fraud; mostly relating to claims for non-existent expenses or over-claiming of expenses. The result was that some councillors received prison sentences, others fines or community service orders.
It is also worth remembering that the recent election for Mayor of Doncaster took place within a climate of Members of Parliament being vilified (quite rightly) by the national press and the media over their excessive claims for expenses.
Mr Peter Davies was elected Mayor on the 4th June 2009. In his acceptance speech after the results had been announced, he said…… “To quote from the old Civil War song in America, ‘Better times are coming.’ And better times are coming for the people of Doncaster.
“We have sixty three councillors - far too many. They can’t be afforded by the people of Doncaster. We’re going to get rid of some.
“We’re going to clean up the Council. We have a one star Council at the moment and all these people produce a one star council but we are going to produce a four or five star council and take Doncaster forward.”
It is worth noting that Doncaster Council is the only local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber and only one of twelve nationally, to be led by an elected Mayor with 21 wards within its borough. Mr Davies’s Cabinet within the council comprises of himself -English Democrats, three Conservative Members and three Independent Members.
Prior to being elected Mayor of Doncaster, Mr Davies was a school teacher for 30 years, a former Head of Politics and Religious Studies at Danum School. He is the founder member of the Campaign for Real Education - an organisation dedicated to restoring high standards of learning and discipline in the state education system.
He has continuously campaigned for England’s withdrawal from the expensive and undemocratic European Union and is the founder member of the Campaign against Political Correctness.
He is the father of Conservative MP Philip Davies.
Interviewed by Jeremy Vine, Mr Davies stated that he would:-
He will not need to use the official car supplied to the Mayor but will utilise public transport services.
He has closed the Council’s Newspaper as it is “Peddling politics on the rates.”
He is taking steps to reduce the number of councillors from 63 to 21 giving an annual saving of £800,000. (He had investigated that in Philadelphia in the United States, with a comparable population to Doncaster, they had only 9 councillors and that they managed very well.)
He has withdrawn Doncaster Council from the Local Government Association and Local Government Information Unit, thereby saving another £200,000, saying that they are “Just talking shops.”
He said that, “Doncaster is in for some serious untwining. We are twinned with probably nine other cities around the world and that is just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense.”
He has promised to end council funding for International Women’s Day; saying ‘why should we have one, we don’t have an International Men’s Day’.
Also Black History Month; and the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
Mr Davies questioned why these minorities should be promoted when he believed events for the majority should be promoted but not out of council funds. He thought that the majority should have perhaps a Yorkshire Day or a St. George’s Day event.
He continued saying, “Politicians have got completely out of touch with what people want. We need to cut costs. I want to pass on some of the savings I make in reduced taxes and use the rest for things that we really need, like improved children’s services.”
Mr Davies said that, at present, the council had sixteen translators for ethnic minorities which he was going to scrap. He said that if people come to this country to live or work, then they must learn to speak English. He added that if he went to France then he would speak French as he wouldn’t expect a Frenchman to speak English and it was only common courtesy to that country anyway. He did say that if someone was a genuine asylum seeker from a country that practised torture and that they had genuinely fled for that reason then they may be an exception in terms of translation.
The old saying, to those who have served in the armed forces of this country (that excludes the Labour Cabinet) of LMF (Lack of Moral Fibre), certainly doesn’t apply to Mr Peter Davies. However, it would certainly apply to our Defence Secretary, Mr Bob Ainsworth, or our ANC-supporting Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.
The Defence Secretary (Qualifications - Trade Union official), Mr Ainsworth, has stated that British Service personnel will be off the front line (actually, AT WAR not in ‘an engagement’ or ‘deployed in Afghanistan’) within a year. It really is incomprehensible that this is his assessment when General Sir David Richards, the incoming head of the army, has said that British involvement in Afghanistan could continue for 40 years. General Richards has already served in Afghanistan as Deputy Nato Commander and one would only have to be an idiot to believe Mr Ainsworth’s assessment rather than General Richards’.
Perhaps Mr Ainsworth knows more about what is happening than the American Defence Secretary, Mr Robert Gates?
Secretary Gates admitted that defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda will take “a few years”. Secretary Gates, previously Head of the CIA said “in the intelligence business, we always used to categorise information in two ways - secrets and mysteries.
“Mysteries were those where there were too many variables to predict. And I think that is how long US forces will be in Afghanistan.”
The Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General James Cartwright, said that an end would be in sight only when US and NATO Troops begin increasingly to turn security missions over to Afghan forces.
The British Defence Secretary can only be described as incompetent, an utter embarrassment and definitely LMF.
His apparently slightly more intelligent colleague, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, (who is the political master of MI6 - whose remit is actually to identify potential terrorists overseas and assist MI5 in the UK) believes that acts of terrorism can be justified !!
Apparently, the late Joe Slovo, who was a member of the ANC and one of the leaders of the armed wing which carried out fatal bombings in South Africa, killing civilians, was a friend of Mr Miliband’s father.
Interviewed on Radio 4, Mr Miliband was asked whether such terrorism was ever justified and replied, “Yes, there are circumstances in which it is justifiable and yes, there are circumstances when it is effective.”
Perhaps Mr Miliband should have the guts to sit in front of the family of the latest British Soldier to be killed by the Taliban and explain to them whether he thinks the Taliban is justified in murdering their son or daughter. According to Mr Miliband these may be the circumstances when it is ‘justified’. Certainly, the Taliban would believe so.
Having written many newsletters and editorials for the Conservative Monday Club over several years, I cannot recall a time when words fail me as to the lunacy of a situation where we have an ex-postman as a Home Secretary; an ex-trade union official as Defence Secretary and a supporter of a terrorist organisation as Foreign Secretary with a Prime Minister who doesn’t appear to know what is going on anyway.
Moral fibre - they wouldn’t even understand what you were talking about.
Perhaps when he has sorted out Doncaster, Mr Davies may like to tackle Defence or Home Affairs?
Martin H PritchardPublications Editor
Club Newsletter - April 2008
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
This is said not out of spurious optimism but because as we all know when two or more people get together and the conversation turns towards the state of the world today they usually agree in rejecting the twisted, rotten and morally deformed views and ideologies publicised so assiduously by those who weald power and influence.
We are Conservatives because we believe that the principal and policies of true Conservatism represent the aspirations of most people and that through the pursuit of these principles and policies we can in the long term build a better and stronger country and perhaps by God’s Grace help to make a better world.
Despite what we may perceive possibly, as defects in policies and personalities in some instances at the higher levels of the Conservative Party, there has been no time within the last 15 years or more when the great mass of members of the Party, to say nothing of so many people in the country as a whole, have been more solidly Conservative.
It is for this reason that I urge all Conservative Monday Club members and particularly our relatively younger members who are members of the Party to play the fullest part they can in the work of their local associations and, not least, take part in any ‘policy forums’ or other discussion groups within their constituencies.
Things are bad and frankly, in the short term at least, will probably get worse but all is not yet lost and we can and must try to make a difference.
Money Taxes Spending and Saving
Enough has been written about the financial or banking crisis to make further comment largely superfluous.
There are, however, some points which are worthy of emphasis or repetition.
Firstly, although there may well be room for criticism of the way the banking system around the world and in particular countries actually works, the system itself is fundamentally sound.
What is a matter for concern has to be the quality in the widest sense of those in the system who contrived these clumsy convoluted programmes of lending and borrowing which were literally lacking in substance.
The old expression about putting one’s house in order is unoriginal and not particularly clever but it is in this case very apt.
We must hope that a lesson has been learnt for all time that no problem is solved by lending without security or borrowing without the means to repay and that to do both simultaneously is a short and swift road to disaster.
The real trouble is that our economy and our nation’s finances cannot be properly managed for as long as we are subordinate to the EU whose membership cost us directly several thousand millions of pounds each year and which has cost us directly since 1972 over 90 thousand million pounds.
I say nothing as to the enormous indirect costs.
What have those well known ‘Conservatives’ Kenneth (hush puppies) Clark and John Selwyn Gummer got to say about £90,000,000,000?
Leaving aside the EU in so far as one can, regrettably, there is no escaping the fact that in two crucial areas, Defence and the Health Service, vast sums of money need to be spent on a scale which not merely precludes a total reduction in taxation over the next few years but in fact requires additional money to be raised.
Quite simply, our Armed Forces, at the very least, need to be doubled in size and properly equipped both in the nature and quality of their equipment of but with ample quantities of all weapons and supplies of every description.
Apart from the immense costs involved it will not be easy to recruit the right personnel
But the fact that something which needs to be done may be difficult to do is not a reason for not doing it.
Not doing it or not even trying to do it could be a pronouncement that it is perfectly all right for Britain to have small and inadequately equipped armed forces and I would be interested to meet any so-called Conservative who, specifically or by implication, would make such a comment and seek to justify it!
As far as the Health Service is concerned, it is only too clear that enormous sums of money are wasted and that improvements in organisation and structure are desperately required.
The National Health Service as it exists and has existed for some 60 years should never have been set up in the way it was in 1948, but it is quite simply impracticable to think that it can now be replaced by private insurance schemes with their own hospitals.
“There is a place for private medicine and we should explore ways in which private medical resources can work advantageously for the NHS but we have to get the best from the system which we have and there is a large price tag attached to this.
The appalling waste within the NHS is starting to be more widely known e.g. ‘overspend on the splendid new IT system, likely to cost an extra £2,380,000,000 per annum for several years to come, the costs of infection and clinical negligence currently running in excess of £1,000,000,000 every year and what might be described as the general costs of overall mal-administration estimated in 2004 by the National Audit Office to be running at £4,000,000,000 per annum.
There are also obviously far more areas in total involving far larger sums to be saved and where costs can profitably be drastically cut.
However, we cannot deny the real need in the short and possibly the medium term to channel taxes where they are needed.
Taxation from any source is unpopular but people are more ready to accept these if they are convinced that taxes are necessary and that money raised will be spent wisely and that the higher level of taxation will be maintained for no longer than is required.
It also helps if a government can show that it is actively trying to ameliorate the cost of being and doing, for example, by lifting the burden of those nasty and often EU inspired regulations which make the life of an employer so hard, thus increasing the profitability of his business or enabling him to claim tax relief on the whole price of equipment in the year in which it is bought.
We should also see an end to capital gains tax and inheritance tax, both of which give a ‘quick fix’ to government finances but which actually reduce in the longer term sources of potential tax revenue, apart of course from being wrong in principle.
Lastly we need to reconsider the reintroduction of mortgage tax relief and to reduce the tax taken from low earners.
None of this can be done by one wave of a fiscal magic wand but these are surely the long-term financial policies and issues, which the Conservative Party should be considering.
|President: The Viscount Massereene & Ferrard Chairman: Andrew Grocock|