1,486 comments posted · 92 followers · following 0

4 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Nick Hargrave: Cameron... · 1 reply · +1 points

Good piece and I think May's conference speech suggested that she got this, even if the policy output is not yet there. It was hinted at in the introduction to the 2017 manifesto (then abandoned in the rest of that wretched document).

The good that government can do.

That doesn't mean taking everything over and running it, Corbyn-style, but it means recognising that whoever wants to be in government needs to persuade the public that it will do good in that role. With the financial crash and Brexit, we've had years of technocratic work that has been necessary and valuable in setting us on the right course for the future, but no time to do much work on what that future will actually look like and on whether there is any thought in our heads about making it look good for ordinary people beyond cutting taxes and leaving it to the market to provide. That's not what Thatcher did - alongside cutting taxes she spent on the NHS and education, she privatised and liberalised markets and worked hard to give ordinary people stakes in those markets by making buying your own home a realistic prospect and getting a whole generation to buy shares (my water shares bought at 18 paid for my time at university).

At times, it sounds like too many in the Party think the retail offerings of the Thatcher era were aberrations and sops to the Wets rather than an integral part of what made her such a successful PM and so effective in demonstrating why free market economics worked for everyone.

4 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - A candidate shortage s... · 1 reply · +1 points

I went to one of the candidate information evenings back in May. It was a very good event at CCHQ and well attended by a pleasantly varied audience (not filled with SpAds and bag carriers). There were good talks from Kemi Badenoch and Joy Morissey and others. The big problem was that they said that if you applied the next day, even if your form was good enough to get you through to the Parliamentary Assessment Board (PAB), you would be unlikely to get to PAB until February 2019. So I'm not very surprised that they have a lack of candidates for the top target seats which are selecting now. Some might be holding off for retirements, but the pool is smaller than it ought to be because there's such a backlog in processing applications.

5 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Flying frogs · 3 replies · +1 points

"in at least one case, such a letter has been submitted with the request that it only be opened in the event of Sir Graham receiving 47 others"

If there are more like this, they could be described as Schrodinger's Letters. If there are 48 such letters and no others, we'd be in the bizarre position of there being no effective letters despite 48 having taken the time to write a letter of no confidence.

6 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - George Trefgarne: The ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I voted to remain but I don't see how this proposal could possibly be acceptable to those who wanted to leave the EU other than in the purely literal sense. The arguments of principle about regaining sovereignty and ceasing to be subject to the ECJ, leaving aside free movement or any other specific legal rights and obligations, are not at all addressed by it. If you don't like the European Commission and the ECJ, why would you be sanguine about the EFTA surveillance authority and EFTA Court?

From a practicability perspective, it might be the most realistic option as a transitional arrangement for leaving- much as joining EFTA in the first place was a transitional arrangement ahead of joining the Common Market. But, I then struggle to see how there would be the slightest interest on the part of the EU in negotiating a Canada-style agreement afterwards. That would be even less appealing to it than it appears to be now when there's at least some evidence that our leaving the EU without any trade deal may have harmful effects for the EU. Once we're in the EEA Hotel California, the EU (and businesses within it) would be free to organise itself to absorb any such risks of full Brexit and shrug its shoulders at our subsequent demands for a trade deal beyond what EEA membership gives.

Now, as a remain voter, that wouldn't be the worst substantive outcome personally, but it just does not seem like one that would appeal to those who are today intent on going possibly as far as bringing down a Tory government to ensure "real" Brexit happens. And every year that went by without a new deal would be another year of fixating on bloody Europe.

I think that regardless of how people voted in the referendum, the vast majority were never interested in any of the detail of EU membership and continue not to be interested in it. I saw a poll saying 70%+ even of leave voters just want it done. Maybe we just need to let the government get on with things as best it can, as quickly as it can rather than by kicking the can down the road for a future Canada-style deal whether after EEA or years of negotiation following No Deal Brexit, and move on to some domestic policy thinking.

6 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Craig Mackinlay: To fr... · 0 replies · +1 points

Is it just a way of them avoiding the changes to their expenses which stopped them claiming for mortgages on second homes for work? Instead of that, they buy, rent out to a fellow MP, who themselves buys and rents out to them while both claim the rent (at a premium over their mortgages, naturally) as an expense? Then, if this proposal goes through, both can on leaving Parliament pay less CGT on selling the second home they no longer need. I really hope that that is purely cynicism on my part and not something any actual MP would do.

6 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Craig Mackinlay: To fr... · 1 reply · +1 points

Let me start by saying I believe taxes should be as low as possible.

But, articles like this make me despair for the tin ear our MPs seem to have politically. Is this really anywhere near the top of the hit list of taxes that should be cut and which cutting would make a significant difference to the lives of those who are most in need? Maybe it is but this article goes no distance to showing the causal link. The sad widow who can't even bear to go and look at the holiday home - is she really now going to cheer up at the saving on CGT? Is that holiday home going to be somewhere where there's a demand from local buyers who'll be better able to buy it and rip out the avocado bathroom suite than another well off family from London looking to pick up a bargain holiday home and who will just have read a nice article in the weekend section of their newspaper about how now is a great time to buy a second home as the CGT penalty has gone?

Please can we at least try to look like we want to address the problems faced by people looking to get a home, rather than throw out sweeties for the already wealthy?

8 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Stewart's resignation ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I think he's great and would one day make a brilliant Foreign Secretary. I'm not a big fan of promises to resign like this though. Ultimately ministers have a lot less power to change stuff than most people think and with the best will in the world he might fail at the KPI he's set up but overall have been an excellent minister, delivering the broad range of things he's talked about as a long term improvement to the system. Why then would we want him to resign and have the rest of his work forgotten? And if he didn't, he'd be remembered as a Minister who had not carried through with a promise and forgotten for the quality of the underlying job he'd done. A bad gimmick.

Nobody needs another Estelle Morris.

13 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 0 replies · +1 points

Actually both Malta and Cyprus have common law systems too! Curiously, one of the long term impacts of the UK and Ireland being members of the EU is that it has evolved its approach to being much more like a common law system in terms of how it deals with CJEU/CFI precedent and how those Courts argue and decide cases than it was before we joined. It was very common until the mid-80s for ECJ cases to depart completely from the Advocate General's Opinion without giving any explanation why or any assessment of the arguments made by the parties.

We don't like to talk about it much but the bits of the Commission dealing with competition and regulation of markets we took the lead in privatising, liberalising and deregulating (and others) take an Anglo-American approach to it in being very heavily based on applied liberal economics which is quite at odds to the historic approach of Eurocrats in say Agriculture. DG Comp was, IIRC the first to have English as its working language, which caused no end of upset.

If these elements erode after we leave, the impetus to diverge even in the Civil Service, will increase.

13 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 2 replies · +1 points

Today, maybe, but as long as the option is open, things can change over time and in particular, if the settlement with the EU is in practice as unpopular as it appears to be to some (many!), that would provide support for future governments to take a different view.

Even though the former colonies were all unsurprisingly keen and united in their desire to move away from dependence on the UK, they also recognised that there were plenty of areas where there wasn't any particular need or hurry to do so, which is why even now, in things like contract law, they have very similar ways of doing things to us - much more similar to us than the US approach is, despite also being a common law system with its deeper origins in English law.

We will diverge, but doing so slowly and in response to actual events and consideration of the impacts of specific regulations rather than on the blanket basis of "we must not be bound by any of these foreign laws any more" would be a better way of ensuring that we diverged not for abstract principle or the sake of it but because we had a substantive reason to do so.

13 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 5 replies · +1 points

That would be the position at day one when there are no separate regimes and so no need for regulatory checks at borders. Were we to make changes, those would potentially require border checks, just as they would were we to leave with no agreement (except in that case, such checks would need to be made even while we had made no changes to our domestic regime from what it is now). We would be able to take measures to prevent checks based on the particular circumstances (eg we could free all non-exporting SMEs from all EU regulations but subject them to an export licensing regime so that their products could not be sold for export to the EU without gaining a licence - this could be monitored without border checks and not engage the common rulebook). Similarly, were we to agree to allow the importation of products which did not comply with the common rulebook, we could put in place a system to prohibit exportation of such products to the EU. Either would probably be rather unwieldy and bureaucratic, but rather less so than the burden which would be placed on all trade with the EU with no deal.

The CJEU won't resolve disputes but only (as it does today) rule on interpretation of EU law. The underlying substantive dispute would be dealt with by the Joint Committee. This is no different to the case in English litigation where a foreign law point arises and the parties seek a declaration from the relevant foreign court. It won't be an appellate court as it isn't one now and nobody is proposing that it should become one. Retaining some link to it ought not to breach any real red lines any more than India didn't become independent on its Independence Day just because it retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as its ultimate court of appeal for a couple of years after independence (Australia, Canada and New Zealand carried on using the PC for much longer. New Zealand had appeals to the PC until 2004 without it in reality doing anything very much to undermine its independence or ability to pass laws in its own interest.

The reality is that even without any agreement, anything we do as a global trading nation might have impacts on our relations and arrangements with other nations and trading blocs. We could deal with those impacts ad hoc but impose a big regulatory burden on ourselves where in fact we have no divergence from the EU rules today, or we could anticipate a mechanism for managing them.