John Redwood – exclusively on Tory Radio


Tory Radio is pleased to announce that John Redwood will be (time permitting) talking to us in a series of podcasts about the current financial crisis. There can be no one better placed to give their views on such a complex issue.

In this podcast John gives his views on last nights speech by the Governor of the Bank of England, which he described as a curious mixture of the sensible and the wrong.

He is glad that the current Government accepts that regulation failed and caused the dreadful financial crisis we’ve been living through but questions why The Bank of England keep interest rates so low for long.

John doesn’t pull punches when he calls for an apology for the mistakes made by the monetary policy committee. and also calls on the Government to say sorry   for changing the target for inflation in 2003 which he believes encouraged the BoE to keep interest rates to low for too long.

To listen to this fascinating take on the banking industry make sure you listen to this excellent first podcast from John Redwood

Positive discrimination elsewhere?

So there is the possibility that the party will move to all women shortlists for future safe seats (a move that would of course be illegal under employment law in other areas).

Now forgive me a little digression – but can’t the converse argument to needing more female MPs be made with regards primary school teachers?

I suspect the percentage of male primary school teachers will be less than the percentage of femaleMPs post the next election. Certainly the number of males going into primary education is woefully low! I would suggest that the lack of a male role model is a huge issue – perhaps even more important than the sex of your MP.

Do we as a party advocate a policy now having selections for new hires in primary school based on male only shortlists? I mean. We do need to readress that balance too. And of course we really should offer our children role models in equal numbers – not just female. So if we seriously want to go down the route of actively ruling out male candidates (whether the ends are justifiable or not) so we advocate something similar for primary schools, except this time – ensuring the male of the species get the role?

Oh but you will say not enough males apply. Hmmm – same for getting into politics but for females.

I guess what I want to show is that you can have virtuous objectives – but do the ends justify the means?

Supporting Royal Mail Reform

In February of this year I wrote about how the Conservative should have supported Government plans to reform Royal Mail. Oh how the commenters didn’t like calls for reform.

I think my piece is worth re-publishing. I did warn that without reform the company would die a death of a thousand cuts –

At the outset I must confess I have a vested interest in the future success of Royal Mail. I started my career as a humble mail room boy and have four years’ worth of pension contributions which I would dearly like to see some day. Even if that wasn’t the case, my experience of having worked in the Public Affairs department for a number of years has convinced me that any Conservative should be wholly supportive of Royal Mail reform.

Yet when it was announced that a Labour Government was pushing forward plans to part privatise Royal Mail, I nearly fell off my chair. Not because I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes no sense for them to pick this fight at this moment in time.

Some bloggers have argued that as the Conservatives are in opposition, they should of course oppose this measure. I take a different view. Given as a party when we were last in power we proposed to privatise all of Royal Mail, why on earth would we object to private involvement now?

Let’s not forget that out of the whole network of Post Office branches – they are all private businesses apart from the 500 or so directly operated ones – there is already a strong history of private involvement in part of the Royal Mail Group.

The Government in its proposal have wisely stated that Post Office Ltd which, operates the nationwide network of sub post offices, is not included. They have therefore already neutralised any argument that could be put forward that part-privatisation will lead to post office closures.  It is of course interesting to note that some of those Labour MPs who now object to part privatisation of Royal Mail are the very same ones who voted for the Urban Reinvention programme which effectively used taxpayers’ money to shut post office branches.

The proposal put forward by the Government is now focused on the letter and parcel business, which is historically where the Royal Mail has made the bulk of its profit. The problem is Royal Mail is no longer in the same position as it was in the 1980s.

20 years ago it was almost treated as a cash cow by Government. It made millions and the Government took the money and didn’t allow the company to invest as it should have. So were mistakes made? I suspect so. The same happened with the pension fund. The company took a pension holiday in the good years and now it has a huge deficit.

We now have emails, faxes, text messages and aggressive competitors just waiting to cherry pick business from Royal Mail. That is a reality that has to be faced.

Industrial relations were a problem when I worked there and it’s still an issue to this day. Some reports suggest strikes at Royal Mail account for up to 60% of days lost due to industrial action in the economy – a shocking statistic. Can that be solved by tinkering around the edges or does there need to be more radical reform? I suggest the latter.

Opponents are already up in arms. Some are suggesting that before there is any partial sell off, postal prices should be allowed to increase. I totally agree. Compared to the rest of Europe, our postal prices are far too low. To be able to send a letter from Cornwall all the way to the Highlands for 36p is a nonsense. It’s pretty good value to get it delivered within London! But price rises alone won’t solve the long term decline of Royal Mail which perhaps private capital and expertise can help.

What perplexes me the most is surely this is one fight the Government didn’t need. The Conservatives should support, because it’s the right medicine for what is a sick patient.  The Lib Dems proposed something similar only a couple of years ago and should also be supportive.

If it wasn’t such a serious issue I would have a wry smile just looking at  who is most up in arms over this move, namely Labour backbenchers and Labour’s paymasters, the Unions.  Why they have picked a fight with their own side, and the Group they will be begging to fund their election campaign, is beyond me.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to see a move pushed forwarded by arch Blairite Lord Mandelson, being so savaged by Labour backbenchers and the Unions, that one final backtrack is performed, and the issue of Royal Mail sounds the last post on Brown’s tired premiership?

Royal Mail can’t just be propped up and allowed to go into terminal decline. To prevent it facing a death of a thousand cuts, any Conservative should back plans to reform this once proud world-beating organisation, even if a side effect of that support would be to help Gordon Brown out of another mess of his own making.


I still don't get the Communication Workers Union

Ok so we now know when the Royal Mail will go out on strike. What I am still failing to understand is that the Union clearly isn’t that pleased with the stance taken by the current Labour Government.

According to Dave Ward Deputy General Secretary of the CWU,

“This government has recently intervened in the problems of Vauxhall and Lloyds Bank,”

“They are the sole shareholder of Royal Mail and it is unbelievable that they continue to stand aside.”

What I find unbelievable is why have you the CWU, and as far as I know still are, funded and continuing to fund the Labour party to the tune of millions of pounds? I just don’t get it.

But don’t take the word of a Conservative on this dispute… Lord Mandelson says, “I very much regret this decision by the CWU. Candidly, I think it is suicidal.” Precisely!

David Cameron's Conference Speech

For those of you who missed it, here is David Camerons speech to Conservative Party Conference.

Podcasts brought to you in association with Fleishman Hillard

Podcasts brought to you in association with Fleishman Hillard

PMQs podcast

If you missed Prime Ministers Questions from 14th October 2009 click the button above to hear the audio of what happened.

PMQs podcast coming shortly

For those of you who missed PMQs… we will be putting a podcast of it online shortly.

Royal Mail lunatics…

Not my words about the threat of national striking but that of Labour’s Lord Mandelson. Come on guys… why do you in the CWU keep funding his party?

Answers on a postcard Answers in an email as the postcard may get held up.

PS:- I do wonder why I am still in the rogues galary of Royal Mail chat….. yet Mandy hasnt been made their enemy number one!

Is banning cigarette machines wrong?

It appears that the Government is now moving to ban cigarette vending machines and also wants to move cigarettes from public display in order to somehow reduce smoking.

Now I have an issue with this – as someone who has never smoked. If the Government believes smoking is so bad – well just ban it.

You see Ian McCartney who has proposed this ban has said that tabacco is, “the only product in Britain that can be sold legally, which routinely kills and injures its customers”. Really? What about alcohol? That routinely kills people. What about cars? They routinely kill people – so that argument doesn’t work.

Now I don’t like smoking – but are we seriously saying that removing vending machines (which part of me can understand as minors can get hold of fags that way) and moving cigarettes from visible display will cut smoking? Of course it won’t. You can’t get booze from vending machines – but underage drinking goes on.

It is the same view that putting a calorific value on so called “junk food” will reduce its consumption. Hey, you know what… I sometimes buy it for the very reason that it is high in calories and not a health option.

It all comes down to ideology. Socialism is all about taxing you as much as possible. And when they can tax you no more they try to tell how to spend what you have left.

Labour PPC Tom Miller should be ashamed

Tom has apologised – let’s move on.