He's at it again
I'm talking about the Deputy Prime Minister, of course, who's out to scare the country, saying that for Britain to "retreat to the margins" of the EU would be "economic suicide". Then, predictably, you hear all the old arguments about how much we rely on Europe for trade and how many tens of thousands of jobs would be lost if we withdrew. What Mr Clegg and others like him do not say is why. In my view, the only jobs that would and should be lost are those of the growing army of bureacrats who attempt to run this corrupt institution. I find it mind-boggling that local companies in my constituency find it virtually impossible to borrow money, when Greece has billions of euros wiped off its account in order for this federalist nightmare to struggle on. It is corruption of the highest order and if businesses behaved in this way in the UK, they'd be in the courts. Mr Clegg, a former MEP and wedded to this idea of European utopia, is out of tune with the British public and showing an arrogant resistance to the blindingly obvious that federalism does not work, and never will.
Posted on 31 October 2011 by Richard Drax
Recently, the BBC was accused of inaccurately reporting what last Monday's rebellion on the EU was about. It was claimed the debate was on an in/out referendum on the EU when it was no such thing. The truth was that the motion was as broad as possible and included renegotation and ultimately repatriation of powers if an agreement could not be reached. But, that was some way off. The motion, if won and acted upon, called for a Bill to be brought before the House in the next session of Parliament. It would only have been at that stage that the content of the Bill, and the specific wording of any referendum to be put to the people, would have been debated. Today, while being interviewed by Andrew Marr, the Prime Minister made the same mistake as the BBC, twice. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, in that he might well have been tired from all his exertions around the globe, and accidentally misrepresented the 81 Tory backbenchers who rightly defied a three-line whip. We did not debate an in/out referendum on Monday, Prime Minister. and to portray it as such is wrong. For too long now, those who have dared speak the unpalatable truth about the EU have been portrayed as wide-eyed 'lunatics' who have escaped from the asylum. This portrayal has been peddled by some elements of the Press and stoked by the countless number of bureaucrats who enjoy first class travel on the EU gravy train. Sadly, it has taken a financial crisis on an unimaginable scale for our siren voices to be heard. Let's now focus on what is best for our country and act before this corruption takes us down too.
Posted on 30 October 2011 by Richard Drax
The sheer disingenuity of the rescue package being discussed by EU leaders beggars belief. The EU is dead; a busted flush. Yet, the corruption over so many years is so big that no one can afford to let it go. If they do, Europe will face a meltdown which would make the 1930s' Depression resemble a picnic in the park. My own view on the EU is well known and, yes, I voted against the Government on Monday night during the referendum debate. This situation is so serious that it dwarfs Party and political careers. This is about the very future of our country, and I can only urge our Government to start acting and stop talking. The so-called rebellion was backed by many other Tory MPs who, for a variety of reasons, felt they could not defy the three-line whip. And, today, we hear that the highly principled and extremely able Ian Duncan Smith told the Chief Whip that next time he would vote for a referendum. Now, to cap it all, MEPs have voted to increase the EU budget by a further £5.7 billion, with our share amounting to some £700 million. With our proud armed forces being cut to pieces, I could almost weep at this madness, and remoteness from democracy. We need leadership of Churchillian magnitude to see this country through these challenging times, and I call on our Government to show it.
Posted on 27 October 2011 by Richard Drax
After the riots
Official figures released by the courts after the riots have been illuminating. One in eight were claiming disability or sickness benefits. Four in ten were on state benefits of some kind - mostly job seekers allowance. Ten were claiming carer's allowance. Three quarters of the alleged rioters had one or more criminal convictions and one in three of those had been to jail. Half of all the rioters were under 20 and, of those of school age, one in three had been excluded. Michael Gove said that the riots had exposed an educational underclass. I would say it had exposed an underclass in general and that we must tackle such deprivation before we see more strife on our streets.
Posted on 26 October 2011 by Richard Drax
It's been an extraordinary 24 hours. Last night, 111 MPs, 81 of them Conservative, called for a referendum on our future relationship with Europe. This, despite a three-line whip on all three Parties, which, in our case, was unwise, in my opinion. The issue at stake is nothing less than the very future of our country. If we stay on this out-of-control EU train, we will hit the buffers in spectacular fashion. The evidence of this failed federalist experiment is there for all to see. Yet we are told that because of this crisis, we should not rock the boat. In my view, that's precisely why we should, or we'll go down with it. When is it ever a good to end a sour and destructive relationship? Answer, never. So, let's take the lead, cut away this corrupt bureaucracy and repatriate all the powers we have so easily given away. Free trade was the deal back in 1975, and I have no problem with that. But political and fiscal union was never on the cards, nor should it be. To see where such an unwise move leads, look no further than Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The eurozone is in a crisis of epic proportions. But this is not a reason for pouring billions more euros down the Greek drain; good money after bad. I sense that last night's vote is rather like that moment in a Wimbledon final when the commentator says something along the lines of: "X will look back on that double fault as the turning point in this match." This is our country, and many of us want it back.
Posted on 25 October 2011 by Richard Drax
Downton takes some funny turns
My admiration for and enjoyment of Julian Fellowes' wonderful Sunday night Edwardian drama, Downton Abbey, is boundless. But if I am allowed a small criticism, I fear the haste to get the most recent series written has infected the script. This week alone, a badly burned Canadian imposter to the title appeared and disappeared, the war ended, Mrs Bates died, the Earl had unsuitably intimate conversations with a housemaid, Mrs Crawley went away - again - and Lady Mary chose a house and stole her father's butler. Most excruciatingly, Matthew Crawley felt stirrings, which may mean that after all, he is not destined to be wheelchair bound and impotent. Where will it all end? I shall have to keep watching......
Posted on 24 October 2011 by Richard Drax
Time to stand up for one's country
Today, there will be a debate on the future of our relationship with Europe. The Prime Minister has, unwisely in my view, decided to place a three-line whip on Conservative MPs. The EU, and the financial crisis it currently faces, are the talk of the town, and for me and my fellow colleagues who are supporting this motion today it's time to debate it properly in the House. I shall be defying the Goverment whip because I believe we need to renegotiate our relationship with the EU and the time for talking is over. This country hangs on the abyss as financial leaders in the Eurozone thrash out how they intend to climb out of the hole they've dug. We have warned about this predicament for years and years but Federalists ploughed on, comfortable on their gravy train and unanswerable to the electorate. The chickens have really come home to roost now and panic is setting in. What this country needs now is a cool head and strong leadership. It is rumoured in the Press that, when the Coalition was formed, the Prime Minister promised the Lib Dems that Europe would not be on the agenda for the term of this Parliament. I shall be asking the Front Bench that question this afternoon. I hope there is not an ounce of truth in this, or our integrity will be shot to pieces. My ambition, and that of my colleagues and the majority of this great nation, is for the future of our country, not the future of personal careers.
Posted on 24 October 2011 by Richard Drax
The grim end of Muammar Gaddafi was a violent reminder that no matter how we try to impose our western values on other countries, they don't always stick. While both the Prime Minister and President Obama made statesmanlike speeches about the tyrant's malign effects upon the world and a new beginning for the Libyan people, it was difficult not to feel uneasy at the television footage. Gaddafi, obviously wounded and pleading for his life, was summarily executed on a car bonnet. Understandably, the Libyan National Transitional Council denies that it was an execution; equally understandably, Amnesty International and the UN are demanding an enquiry. The West, after all, went into this to save lives, although, paradoxically, killing Gaddafi will probably do just that. And, while on the subject of Gaddafi, I was once again touched by the dignity and clear thinking of Dr Jim Swire, who simply said that he would rather Gaddafi had faced a court, if only to shed light on the Lockerbie bombing which killed his daughter Flora.
Posted on 21 October 2011 by Richard Drax
Apparently, official records show that one in six children is branded 'special needs' by the age of five in the UK. Intuitively, this does not feel right, and I am not surprised that education experts say that the correct figure, drawn from international data, is just over one in ten. That means far too many children in this country are being labelled - and therefore handicapped - unnecessarily. We cannot write children off like this. There is ample evidence to show that children absorb what they are being told and if they are told they can't do things, they won't be able to. While some children are, of course, sadly in need of special support, others need just a little extra attention. Giving up on them when they are so young cannot be in the best interests of anyone involved.
Posted on 20 October 2011 by Richard Drax
Your country needs you
Next week, we have secured an historic debate on our future membership of the EU. My colleague David Nuttall secured the day via the back-bench business committee, which allocates time for debates put forward by back-benchers. It's a most welcome initiative, giving more power to the non-executive members of the House. This debate next Thursday will allow all MPs to discuss an issue which now rates as one of the most important among our constituents, and certainly mine. Today, we are hearing rumours that the Prime Minister will order this motion whipped, placing some colleagues in a dilemma. In my view, and that of many of my colleagues, this is not the time to worry about personal careers and towing the Party line, because this issue is too important. The EU edifice is now crumbling by the day and the UK is perched on the edge of an abyss, with the economy stalling, unemployment and inflation rising and the Bank of England printing money because we can't borrow it! The biggest restriction to our recovery is the EU, with its unaccountable bureaucracy and regulations, which damage our competitiveness and stifle investment. It really is time to take our country back and every MP - certainly Conservative - should stand up for their country by voting for the motion. Courage, mon brave!
Posted on 19 October 2011 by Richard Drax
I am hearing some of my colleagues claim that a 'witch hunt' forced Dr Liam Fox's resignation. I disagree, fundamentally. The press did its job, nothing more, and I, for one, would have it no other way. Having been a journalist for some 17 years, I have no truck with those who would shoot the messenger. I have no wish to comment on Dr Fox's behaviour; he is a colleague of mine and he has now stood down. My only point is that a democracy needs a free press and I shall fight with all my might to ensure it stays that way.
Posted on 17 October 2011 by Richard Drax
BBC in peril
Having worked in the BBC for some nine years, it saddens me to see this respected organisation shedding jobs, not services. I have had the honour to work with the best at a local level and the rich vein of talent was always present and impressive. The problem with the BBC is its senior leadership, which has immersed itself in this ridiculous upheaval from London to make some politicially correct fashion statement that by moving to the middle of the country it can better represent its viewers. What tosh! It doesn't matter one jot that the BBC is London based; what matters is what it puts out and how. The trouble is that top management has consistently taken Auntie Beeb down too many tracks, rather than stick to what it used to excel at. Regrettably, it's too late now for many hundreds of staff who probably shouldn't have been taken on in the first place. But new projects aplenty needed directors, editors, reporters, researchers, technicians et al. I was proud to work for the BBC and it saddens me to see this broadcasting giant wobble at the knees, shot from yomping after too many pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Posted on 11 October 2011 by Richard Drax
The papers report that energy secretary Chris Huhne has been caught out attempting to smear two cabinet colleagues over the weekend. If this is true, it follows on from the rather unseemly spat between Ken Clarke and Theresa May, with the former making some stupid and unsupportive comments to his local paper. Mr Huhne is still not out of the woods in regard to his alleged speeding offence, so I think he should be very careful where he throws his stones. What's disheartening about all this is the apparent willingness to stab their fellow executive colleagues in the back without so much as a by your leave. The country does not need conduct unbecoming right now, so perhaps the culprits can reflect on their behaviour and learn from it.
Posted on 10 October 2011 by Richard Drax
The Bank of England has announced today that it will pump £75 billion into our economy in a move better known as quantitative easing. Like all descriptions of this kind, it sounds benign. But the fact is we now risk pushing up inflation even further, which will really hit savers, who for too long now have suffered from the behaviour of the spenders. And with interest rates remaining at a record low, this situation is likely to continue for some time to come. The alternative - putting up interest rates - would devastate our fragile economy, not least adding a huge financial burden to those with mortgages. However, interest rates will have to rise to combat inflation if that keeps rising, so are we putting off the dreaded day? My fear is, we are. Rather than pump more money into the economy, we should reduce both private and business taxes, cut the red tape stifling business, much of it from the EU, and give our entrepreneurs more room to compete and expand. Under the current plan, the many pensioners I meet will suffer even more as they are forced to tuck into precious capital due to lack of income. It's a travesty that those who've been brought up to be prudent and save should be the ones that suffer the most.
Posted on 6 October 2011 by Richard Drax
It hasn't started, yet the commentators are out there, poring over every comment. It's to be expected, of course. I'm talking about our conference, naturally, which sees delegates gathering in Manchester today. I also note our leader apologising to the fair sex for comments he made in the Chamber and how he's planning to take on more female staff, etc, etc. This is not what the electorate are looking for. They want strong, coherrent leadership, which will see our country ours once more and in a position then to re-ignite business and industry, free from the EU yoke. This will not only see us through these tough economic times, but it will create wealth and jobs in the longer term. I am proud to be a co-author in one of the chapters of a new book about Conservatism, which is launched on Monday. It's regrettable that such a book has to be published at all, but such is the state of politics today that integrity appears to have gone with the Titanic. We must say what we mean and act upon it. This takes courage, but that's what the electorate wants and, I believe, what the country needs. Let's hope we see an abundance of it at our conference.
Posted on 2 October 2011 by Richard Drax