We are half way through our term of office and one Sunday paper is calling for a bluer Cabinet. The article claims we don't need the Lib Dems as much as the Prime Minister thinks and that we should be much bolder. There are also reports of donors demanding such a move and they'd be right. Frankly, it's not just a bluer Cabinet we need, but we need a Cabinet which is prepared to push blue policies. Muddling through with the likes of Clegg and Cable will simply not do, neither politically, nor for the good of our country. A political fudge has never taken a nation forward. In the end, the electorate turns on politicians who have failed to lead in times of trouble and excusing our lack of radicalism because of the coalition will simply not wash at the next election. And while we all bask in the Olympic glow - and rightly so - let's not forget that reality is out there, hyena-like, devouring the weak and listless with impunity. We need a stout heart, courage, integrity and a clear vision, all of which I am absolutely certain will convince voters at the next election that the Conservatives are the best choice for the country.
Posted on 29 July 2012 by Richard Drax
While the Olympics diverts attention away from the on-going eurozone crisis, Spain lurches towards the abyss and economic oblivion as its debts spiral in the countless billions of euros. A loan of £100 billion euros to the country's banks is now followed by requests for more billions of euros from regional governments. Newspaper reports are saying that premier Mariano Rajoy is even considering leaving the euro altogether. This whole farce is a complete outrage and the consequence of so-called intelligent leaders being very, very stupid. In time, most countries will resort to re-introducing their own currencies and only then will they be able to bring their economies back into line. The UK must stop sitting on its hands and start leading by explaining to the EU that there is another way and we intend to go there. We have nothing to fear repatriating powers to this country and everything to gain. The status quo is unacceptable and David Cameron must act.
Posted on 25 July 2012 by Richard Drax
Not too late
When former servicemen of great distinction write hard-hitting letters to the newspapers, warning that the Government's cuts have gone too far, someone ought to take notice. One of the three who wrote to the Daily Telegraph (16 July) was General Sir Michael Rose, a former commanding officer of 22 SAS and a man I had the privilege to meet on one occasion. The Defence Secretary was rather disparaging of "former soldiers" in the Commons the other day when an Opposition MP referred to this letter. His reply was along the lines that recent decisions to drastically cut our forces were made by "serving soldiers". I could go on here for pages, but it's the principle of defence which is key here and not whether a serving soldier has any more wisdom than a former one. We all accept that a review was necessary: wasteful and expensive procurement, an over-manned MOD and too many high ranking officers, to name but three areas. However, to reduce our Armed Services to nothing more than a gendarmarie is a gut-wrenching betrayal of those serving and of our nation. It is short-sighted stupidity which we will pay for on the longer term, as has always been the case in history. Defence is a simply matter of priorities, whatever the economic situation, and the Coalition Government has got it seriously wrong. As the letter concludes: "It is late, but not too late, to think again."
Posted on 18 July 2012 by Richard Drax
Governments of any colour often use this phrase to describe a difficult period after the initial post-election glow begins to wear off. This period can happen sooner or later in a new term, depending on a large number of factors, some of which cannot be controlled. This is why leadership and clear, decisive principles are so important. Try and charm your way through troubled waters and you'll end up on the rocks. Nothing could be clearer that Conservative principles, in my view. They are based around the freedom of the individual, encouraging each and every person to strive for themselves and their families for their greater good and of course for the good of the country. As a fledgling MP more than two years ago, I warned on day one of the Coalition that such a partnership would be to the detriment of the country, and so it is proving. The recent backbench rebellion over the ill-conceived Lords' Reform Bill is a classic case in point, as was the one over the EU. I rebelled on both. In the Sunday Times today, the Prime Minister calls himself a liberal Conservative, vowing that the Coalition will continue. My own view is that the sooner it ends the better. As I have said on many occasions, our country needs bold and radical leadership, not fudge and compromise. The latter will see the country continuing to wallow in the doldrums, or worse, and the Conservatives struggling to sell their message to an increasingly sceptical electorate at the next election.
Posted on 15 July 2012 by Richard Drax
Return of Blair
By my count, Tony Blair has announced his wish to return to frontline politics at least five times in recent weeks, claiming he has learned so much that he could put to good use. He has also hinted he’d like to succeed Mr Van Rompuy as the EU President. This may be difficult, with a beckoning referendum on our EU membership which, if granted, could see the European landscape change dramatically. Since he left British politics, Mr Blair has worked as the Quartet representative to Palestine, where he has had very little effect and is now openly dismissed by Arab leaders. He has also sold his advice to a number of shady despots and published a book, which was, amusingly, moved to the ‘crime’ section in many bookshops by campaigners who believe he should be tried for war crimes. Many of the problems we now face - the overwhelming debt, the PFI contracts bankrupting our hospitals, the mess over Lords’ reform and the corrosive relationship between politicians and press barons - can be traced to his door. We would also be struggling members of the Eurozone if he had had his way. Ed Miliband has courteously said that he is sure Mr Blair has much to offer, but I’m sure he is praying, like the rest of us, that he doesn’t get the chance.
Posted on 2 July 2012 by Richard Drax
I am relieved to see that the news, as reported from the Brussels summit this week, was not quite accurate and that the Prime Minister, as he writes in today’s Telegraph, is indeed willing to hold a referendum on our membership of the EU. I am also glad that he thinks that a simple in/out decision is not appropriate. We joined the common market in 1975 to trade with our European neighbours and there is no obvious reason to leave such a mutually beneficial arrangement. Any referendum should leave a way open to allow further negotiation on the terms of our membership. However, at the moment, too much of our Parliamentary time is taken up by EU small print, too many of our courts are being overruled by EU judges and too much of our sovereignty is being ceded to EU bureaucrats. The Prime Minister’s hands are tied by the constraints of Coalition government and it is no coincidence that he is promising the vote only once the Coalition has ended. Meanwhile, Europe is talking of imposing financial and political union in order to survive. Inevitably, that would change our relationship with the EU, prompting, in my view, a referendum
Posted on 1 July 2012 by Richard Drax