By Tim Montgomerie
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It is by far the best blog written by any Tory MP. Each day – without fail – John Redwood offers a thoughtful reflection on a policy or strategic issue of the day. I suspect many ConHome readers are already regular readers but here is my selection of the former Welsh Secretary's wisdom as blogged by him in the last couple of months. My guess is that many Tory Party members wish that wisdom was more regularly embraced by those leading our party…
Climate change policies need to be multilateral to be fair and effective: "The EU needs to negotiate multilateral reductions, not just unliateral reductions in its own contribution to the world totals." 12th December.
A later retirement age: "Many of us wish to be generous to pensioners, so maybe as longevity rises so we have to make further increases in the age of retirement to help balance the books. A 60 or 65 year old today is on average fitter and likely to live considerably longer than the equivalent twenty years ago." 8th December.
No unemployment benefits for recent immigrants: "We should not extend out of work benefits to people who recently arrived in the UK and are not UK citizens." 8th December.
Smaller increases in the aid budget: "The UK could have a couple of years off from meeting the 0.7% target for Overseas Aid whilst we are sorting out our large budget imbalance. There are still items in the Overseas Aid budget that do not represent value for money, or further the noble aims of relieving poverty and disease in the poorest countries." 8th December.
Drill, drill, drill: "We want more exploitation of the UK’s gas and oil reserves. It will take more gas fired power stations. It means allowing shale gas recovery. it means a tax regime for our energy reserves that promotes more production." 5th December.
A simpler, flatter tax system: "If the government wants to stop people avoiding tax there is an easy answer. They should legislate for simple flat taxes, and abolish all allowances and tax breaks. Out should go the exemptions for charity, for pensions saving, for prime residences, for certain kinds of investment, for National Savings and all the rest. In should come lower tax rates that apply to us all however we choose to spend our money." 4th December.
Hatred of the City is hurting ALL of us: "At its peak the City contributed a massive £70 billion to the Treasury. Today that is down to £40 billion. The government has to try to find that missing £30 billion from somewhere else. That means taxing people on lower incomes more, through VAT, fuel duty and the rest… Why has the City fallen like this? Some of it reflects well paid people relocating to competing centres with lower tax rates. Some reflects the demand for banks to hold much higher levels of cash and capital for any given level of busienss, which makes them much less profitable. Some of it reflects the end to excessive activity based on too much credit prior to 2007. Some of it results from the growing costs of regulation which cuts into profits and bonuses." 14th November.
The importance of cheap energy and bank reform: "If the UK is to emulate the US relative success with economic recovery, the government does have to make more progress in mending the banks, and in delivering cheaper energy. The US economy has outperformed ours so far this decade, thanks primarily to going for cheap gas and getting on with sorting out the banks and property values." 11th November.
Appoint representative Conservatives to Government posts: "Let’s consider the patronage offered to a very small and unrepresentative group of Conservatives, that very small group of former Cabinet Ministers who still want the UK to be fully involved with the EU as it changes and becomes more powerful. Chris Patten was given the Chairmanship of the BBC, Lord Heseltine was asked to prduce a semi official report on how to grow the economy and given governemnt resources to produce it, and Ken Clarke was made first Lord Chancellor and subsequently Minister without portfolio. This use of substantial patronage on such a small group has not only upset various MPs, but has given UKIP coverage to make claims based on these appointments. It has offset some of the impact of the veto over the Fiscal Treaty and the pledge to repatriate the criminal justice powers, which pleased Eurosceptic Conservatives." 5th November.
Change renewables policy: "Windfarms are unpopular with a significant number of MPs, both because of their environmental impact and owing to the high cost energy they sometimes generate." 4th November.
Unitary local government: "Lord Heseltine also favours unitary local government to replace Counties and Districts. I have no problem with that,as Berkshire opted to carry out that change 20 years ago. I do think, however, it has to be done at the request of the local area to ensure smooth passage . Unhappy Councils and Councillors can make such a transition expensive and problematic." 29th October.
Against QE: "The period of crisis followed by ultra low rates and QE has also seen a substantial devaluation of the pound. This has helped fuel a higher rate of inflation in the UK than in most other major advanced economies. This in turn has cut real incomes and reduced spending power in the economy." 25th October.
Research-driven government: "Competent government needs to spend more time working out solutions to problems, seeking to proceed by trials and by careful policy implementation. It needs to spend plenty of time researching, testing and discussing, before rushing out a press release or statement." 23rd October.
Let them have a Banking Union if we get what we want in return: "We do not wish to be part of the Euro. We do not share a central bank. We do not need to join their banking union. What the UK government needs to do is to seek powers back over our system as the price for letting them complete their more centralised arrangements. There is no reason why London should have to accept rules they need for their single currency area. If they accept that there is no reason why the UK government should withold consent to their progress towards a banking union. This is an opportunity for both sides to have a new and more sensible relationship on this set of issues." 19th October.
Leave Afghanistan: "I do not think any more of our troops lives should be put at risk on patrol or active service in Afghanistan. I also think it would be handy to save the money. At last count the government has spent £17 billion on the Afghan intervention, over and above the normal cost of the personnel involved." 14th October.
We need profit-making schools and academic selection: "The Prime Minister clearly thinks the Gove reforms of education will be sufficient in themselves to spread the opportunity of an education as good as Eton to many more pupils. I fear that is optimistic. We have been discussing recently on this site other options to speed the progress of better education. It would be a good idea to allow for profit companies to operate, and to permit selection by academic ability as well as selection by the other currently approved criteria." 12th October.
Befriend the motorist to boost growth: "Allocate land for sufficient parking near town centres and residential developments, and provide it free or at low cost…" and other pro-car local council initiatives were listed on 10th October.
Slim down RBS: "RBS is too large for the UK state to back comfortably. It has been loss making and failing to deliver enough support for the UK economy. I have tried to get the government to speed its break up, sale of assets, reduction of taxpayer risk, and creation of new working banks out of its assets and liabilities. Getting the taxpayer out of majority ownership of a £1.5 trillion bank would be the single most important step it could take to cut potential risks and losses for taxpayers, and to improve the UK state balance sheet rapidly." 7th October.
Stop foreign exploitation of Britain: "With others I have asked the government to charge overseas users of the NHS for their treatment. I have proposed charges on foreign haulage firms using our roads. I have supported moves to curtail illegal immigration, and to tighten eligibility rules for benefits so they go to legally settled people." 7th October.
Higher taxes on the rich tend to be counterproductive: "There are only so many rich people to tax in the world, and they do tend to move around to lower tax jurisdictions. Mr Hollande will have to tax the not so rich as well, if wants to keep his public spending at current levels. His decision to reduce the retirement age has made it more difficult for him to control spending. He may find, as southern Euro states are finding, that deficits go up, not down as economies decline and as rich people find ways to earn less or move abroad with their money." 29th September.