Jesse Norman MP

14 Mar 2013 21:23:47

Jesse Norman visits EUtopia (and doesn't like what he finds)

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 21.21.38
By Paul Goodman

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I've just returned from an intellectual romp of an evening with Jesse Norman who, courtesy of Localis, gave a lecture entitled t"he Road to EUtopia:  Britain and the EU after the Bloomberg Speech".  The spine of his talk was set out in this morning's Daily Telegraph, but its detail dismissed the EU with a kind of courtly scorn.  "The EU has developed in a way that lacks legitimacy in at least ten different senses," he told his audience, before berating the Union as "an elite project, with a minimum of democratic involvement"; labelling the European Parliament as "the EU’s representative to the voters, not the other way round, as yesterday’s events showed"; describing the court as " increasingly part of the executive, contrary to a proper separation of powers", and pointing out that "the EU’s language and communications are largely unintelligible to normal citizens". Welcome to Norman's EUtopia.

Ideas matter to the MP for Hereford, who sees legitimacy as crucial: it is, he said quoting Burke (about whom he is writing a book) a “moral essence, which derives from the shared values, institutions and experience of a group of people drawn together in a social order".  And economics as well as politics matter too.  There are, he said, four possible outcomes to the Eurozone crisis: southern deflation, northern inflation, continued bailout of the deficit countries by the surplus countries, and realignment or exit. Growth is negative, at -0.6% in the last quarter.
Unemployment has hit a high of 11%. However, "in part as a result of this crisis of legitimacy, the EU states are just beginning to have a real discussion about what the EU is for, and the benefits of EU membership".

He believes it is possible that Britain's voice, led by David Cameron, may shape this discussion, and therefore the Government must "make the case again for a Europe of nation states, for flexibility and greater localism and democracy...We have a moral obligation, a huge practical interest, and an opportunity before us".  And although "there needs to be a clear possibility of UK exit" in any renegotiation after 2015, because any policy must have some potential bite to be effective", he believes that we should make our case "in open, spacious and inclusive terms, drawing on the history and philosophy with which Britain has contributed so much to Europe, over so many centuries".  Chairing the event, I was extremely sceptical of whether the legitimacy whose absence Norman described so eloquently is somehow about to be acquired.

I asked him the "Gove question" - how he would vote in an In/Out referendum now. (I would vote to leave.)  He was unwilling to commit himself given the absence of such a vote, and in his willingness to see what comes out any negotiation - assuming there is one in the first place, which is doubtful, given the likely 2015 election result - I think he shares the view of a significant proportion of Conservative MPs.  I give Norman the last word - his gentle ribbing of the Jean Monnet programme, which “stimulates teaching, research and reflection on European integration in higher education institutions worldwide… These projects are present in 72 countries across the five continents and include 162 Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence, 875 Jean Monnet Chairs and 1,001 Jean Monnet Modules. These projects bring together 1,500 professors, and reach some 500,000 students every year."

21 Nov 2012 15:57:10

Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Charles Walker and Jesse Norman amongst the stars of the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards

By Matthew Barrett
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Spectator-Logo-resize-395x400Below are the winners of the different categories of the Spectator's Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which were held this afternoon.

  • Newcomer of the Year – Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
  • Backbencher of the Year – Alistair Darling MP (Lab)
  • Campaigner of the Year – Andy Burnham MP (Lab)
  • Inquisitor of the Year – Margaret Hodge MP (Lab)
  • Speech of the Year – Charles Walker MP (Con) & Kevan Jones MP (Lab)
  • Resignation of the Year – Lord Hill of Oareford (Con)
  • Apology of the Year – Nick Clegg MP (Lib Dem)
  • Resurrection of the Year – Sir George Young MP (Con)
  • Minister to Watch – Elizabeth Truss MP (Con)
  • Double Act of the Year – Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem) & John Hayes MP (Con)
  • Peer of the Year – Rt Revd Justin Welby
  • Minister of the Year – Theresa May MP (Con)
  • Parliamentarian of the Year – Jesse Norman MP (Con)
  • Politician of the Year – Boris Johnson (Con)

Three names especially strike me: Jesse Norman, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.

Jesse Norman deserves relentless praise for his defence of our constitution against the offensive, mandate-lacking desire of some in the Coalition to see the House of Lords destroyed. But Mr Norman is far from being a mere skilled rebel. He is a serious economic and philosophical thinker, and a remarkable talent on the backbenches. His award is richly deserved.

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7 Nov 2012 11:33:34

Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory

By Peter Hoskin
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Here's David Cameron's statement:

“I would like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.

I have really enjoyed working with him over the last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years.

There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal.

Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.

Above all, congratulations to Barack. I’ve enjoyed working with him, I think he’s a very successful US president and I look forward to working with him in the future.

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21 Aug 2012 17:03:07

"One-man Think Tanks": how the 2010 intake forced their way into the papers

By Paul Goodman
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As a former broadsheet Comment editor, I over-estimate the importance of comment pages, both on paper and online.  Since the blogs, such as this one, now compete with them, fewer people read them - especially since the rise of the paywall.  Then there's TV.  Then there's Twitter.  Then there's the rest of the new media...

So I declare an interest and a bias.  But despite both, I think Fleet Street comment pages, broadsheet or tabloid, help to set the terms of political debate.

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11 Jul 2012 06:46:24

The truth about Tory whips and Cameron confronting Jesse Norman and Nadhim Zahawi

By Tim Montgomerie
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On the margins of last night's Lords vote there were a couple of unpleasant incidents and stories are doing the rounds that aren't 100% accurate.

One allegation is that four junior whips confronted Jesse Norman in a very aggressive manner and told him to leave the parliamentary estate. Norman, the 'Captain Sensible' leader of yesterday's rebels, was having a drink with colleagues and was told his presence was provocative and unwelcome. In truth the four junior whips weren't the aggressive ones. They were warning Norman and another of the lead rebels - Nadhim Zahawi - that John Randall was on the warpath. Mr Randall, the normally smooth and popular Deputy Chief Whip, had - it was said - had a few drinks and there was a theatrical suggestion he 'might do an Eric Joyce'. In reality Mr Randall had "blown his top" but was not under any influence*. Norman and Zahawi took the advice, downed their pints and went home.

The second incident is that the PM had one of his Flashman moments and angrily confronted Jesse Norman earlier in the day. My understanding from a secondary source is that Mr Cameron was "testy" but not intimidatory. The PM had objected to a communication that Norman had made to rebel and wavering Tory MPs in which it had been suggested that a rebel vote would be helping the PM (this was Paul Goodman's argument yesterday morning). This had got back to Number 10 and Mr Cameron took his opportunity to make it clear that a rebel vote was absolutely NOT what he wanted. Jesse Norman then wrote another email to colleagues affirming this fact.

That's the truth of things. Not as bad as reported but not a party of happy bunnies either.

* His dark mood should be noted by Mr Clegg. The whips really had tried to quell the rebellion.

9 Jul 2012 18:48:46

Lord Pannick: The Government hasn't recognised "the difficulty and importance of the constitutional issue" in its Lords Bill

By Paul Goodman
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Another move on the Lords Bill chess board this evening, as speeches on the measure continue in the Commons.

Jesse "Captain Sensible" Norman has released a letter from Lord Pannick asserting that "the Bill does not adequately address the central issue of constitutional concern: the fact that a House of Lords most of whose members will be elected will almost certainly be much more assertive than the unelected House of Lords and reluctant to give way".

Continue reading "Lord Pannick: The Government hasn't recognised "the difficulty and importance of the constitutional issue" in its Lords Bill" »

6 Jul 2012 15:05:03

Backbench Tories irked by Lib Dem threats over Lords reform

By Matthew Barrett
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Since the interview with a recently-departed senior Nick Clegg aide, Richard Reeves, in this morning's newspapers, which intimated there would be consequences for the Government's boundary review if backbench Tories vote against stopping debate on Lords reform, a number of Tory MPs have appeared in the media to express their thoughts - from frustration to amusement - at the Lib Dems' threats.

Dan Byles - Parliamentary Candidate for North Warwickshire & Bedworth1Firstly, Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) on BBC Five Live, expressed his disappointment that the vote next week will be whipped:

"The idea that a fundamental and irreversible constitutional change should be pushed through with the usual whipping and guillotining that happens on more routine bills is just unthinkable. Coalition policy was to seek a consensus on House of Lords reform and I think it’s pretty clear to anyone watching this debate that they failed to achieve a consensus."

Bone Peter JulySecondly, Peter Bone (Wellingborough), appearing on the Daily Politics show, was asked how he felt being threatened by the Lib Dems. He replied:

"Quaking in my boots. ... They just can’t be trusted. I mean, the deal was they got this wretched AV vote in return for the boundary review. They all voted for that bill, I actually voted against the bill, and now because they didn’t get what they wanted in the AV they’re now saying ‘well it’s all about House of Lords reform.’ ... House of Lords reforms were bringing forward proposals, seeking agreement, but nothing about legislation. The Prime Minister said it was a third term priority. A consensus is a consensus, and we’re still seeking it. We haven’t quite made it yet."

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28 Jun 2012 10:00:07

Cameron, Osborne and Tyrie react to Barclays scandal

By Matthew Barrett
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2.30pm Steve Baker MP has called for Bob Diamond, the Barclays CEO, to resign:

"Yes I do think Bob Diamond should resign, and I think more than that - the various authorities should be looking extremely carefully at whether any offences have been committed."

2pm David Cameron appeared on the BBC news channel this afternoon. He said the Government will take more action if more action is deemed necessary:

"In terms of what happens next, I would say that the regulators should use all the powers and means at their disposal to pursue this in the ways that they feel are appropriate. I’d also make the point that this happened some years ago under the previous government with the rules in place with the previous government. We are changing those rules and if there’s more we need to do to toughen that up, we’ll take that actions. We’ve already taken a lot of action to make sure we regulate our banks and financial services appropriately, but if there’s more that needs to be done, we’ll do it."

1pm update:

George Osborne made a statement to the House this afternoon. The Chancellor said that the FSA inquiry into Barclays demonstrates "systemic failures" in the financial system:

"It is clear that what happened at Barclays and potentially other banks was completely unacceptable, was symptomatic of a financial system that elevated greed above all other concerns and brought our economy to its knees."

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27 Jun 2012 11:14:11

Ahead of PMQs, backbench Tory MPs make clear their opposition to Lords reform proposals

By Matthew Barrett
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5.45pm Update:

Expanding upon his earlier remarks, Jesse Norman appeared on The World At One, and described the reform proposals as "a constitutional monstrosity", saying the Bill "should never have reached the House  Norman Jesse 2of Commons":

"Unfortunately the Conservative manifesto didn’t contain anything like the commitment that everyone’s pretending it did and it’s a small dishonesty to pretend that it did. What the Conservative manifesto said is that the party made a commitment to ‘seek to build a consensus’ for a mainly elected second chamber. Now it has sought to build a consensus until it is blue in the face and all of that tells us that there’s no possible consensus around the bill. Now, there might have been a consensus around a more intelligently crafted set of reforms but this bill is a total nonsense."

Forsyth Michael NewLord Forsyth, on the Daily Politics show, strongly condemned the proposals:

"This bill, which is being drawn up to satisfy the Deputy Prime Minister, is clearly a nonsense. I think that most people would be pretty outraged at the idea that some grubby little deal between the Conservatives and the Liberals that says we will give you permanent controlling vote position in the House of Lords in return for you to agreeing to vote for boundary changes that will give us 20 extra seats. That is not the basis of which to proceed with major constitutional reform."

SANDYS LAURAA dissenting voice came from Laura Sandys, who claimed on BBC News that an elected Lords would be better able to scrutinise the executive:

"Absolutely not. I think this is an extraordinary piece of legislation in many ways. This is legislation brought forward by a government which actually gives Parliament more power over the executive. We will actually end up with a proper, fully-fledged bicameral system, which will ensure that Parliament can hold government more to account, in many ways ensure that we get better legislation, and possibly from a Conservative point of view desirable with less legislation."


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4 May 2012 12:05:47

Record of how Conservative MPs are reacting to the local election results

A variety of reactions are pasted in this blog. The names of those calling for some change of message, priority or operational changes are emboldened. We have also included the contributions of MPs who have not advocated substantial changes.

5.45pm A little round-up of what Tory MPs have said during the day:

David Ruffley MP advocated radical economic measures - and a withdrawal from the Coalition if Lib Dems won't back them:

"I think now with the position now where there was a Coalition Agreement two years ago but quite a few senior colleagues think that was then, this is now. We didn't think two years ago that the economy would still be flat on its back and everything now has to be directed towards getting the British economy going. And yes it does mean looking at tax again but also, a freer labour market, the hiring and firing proposals to make sure that young people aren't turned away from jobs because of the very onerous social employment protection legislation in this country, so we should say to the Liberals on things like that which they are blocking, 'Listen we are in a real hole now. We need some radical economic polices put in place and you go with it and if you don't, we how would you like a general election?'"

Peter Bone MP urged the Government to drop any "wishy-washy" policies in the Queen's Speech:

"You can see what happens when there is a Conservative Government, because there was a Conservative Government run in London by Boris and he got re-elected. He put forward Conservative policies and he got re-elected and he bucked the national trend, and that really should be a message for the Coalition. Be more conservative and be less liberal wishy-washy and I think that’s what the voters would like to see in the Queen’s speech.” 

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22 Mar 2012 15:00:13

An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne

By Matthew Barrett
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Traditionally, after a Budget speech, high-profile MPs speak in the debate that follows, to give their verdict on the Budget. Compiled below are some of the most significant contributions. 

TYRIE ANDREWFirstly, Andrew Tyrie, the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, raised his concerns about the Government's proposed scheme for banks to lend to small businesses:

"Yesterday’s announcement on the loan guarantee scheme responded to many constituents’ complaints that they simply cannot get the money they need to run or start up small businesses. We all have constituents in that position, and the scheme will offer some welcome relief. How much relief? I think it will offer only a little, and there is a risk of the banks pocketing most of the money. The Treasury Committee, the Public Accounts Committee— I do not know whether its Chair is in her place—and the National Audit Office all need to play a role in ensuring that the banks do not run off with the money, and that value for money is secured."

Tyrie nevertheless commended the scheme:

"I still think the scheme may turn out to be valuable, for several reasons. First, by announcing it the Chancellor has raised the salience of an important issue and put pressure on the banks not to dismiss requests for loans without examining them properly. Furthermore, it seems to me that the Treasury’s own pessimistic briefing yesterday that the money will go only to existing borrowers is almost certainly mistaken. There is very likely to be some more lending, because banks will benefit from the stronger financial position of firms to which they have lent. Those loans, in turn, will be less risky for the banks, so they should have some more headroom for new lending without altering their risk profile."

Continue reading "An "important moment in British history", and "a very courageous Budget": Backbenchers give their verdict on George Osborne" »

21 Mar 2012 05:57:45

What is the Free Enterprise Group? Matthew Barrett profiles the most influential new gathering of Tory MPs

Free Enterprise GroupBy Matthew Barrett
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The Forty. The 301. The 2020. These are some of the groups formed by Conservative MPs after the last general election. Most are largely made up of, or driven by, 2010-intake MPs. Over the next few weeks, I'll be profiling some of these groups. 

Today, we kick off with the Free Enterprise Group (FEG). The FEG is considered influential by sources at the Treasury, and George Osborne is said to think very highly of it, regarding it as the most important of the new groups to emerge. 

Origins of the Group: The group initially formed out of concern at the anti-free market atmosphere that has developed in the last few years. The behaviour of the last government, in cosying up to big business cartels and corporatist interests, often gave people a mistakenly bad impression of the free market that didn't necessarily exist twenty years ago. Polling suggests 21st-century Britons are less receptive towards free enterprise than the Chinese, Americans and Germans. There is also a wider cause - making Britain globally competitive again. The FEG's website highlights startling statistics about our place in the world: the fact that we are now 83rd in the world for regulation, 94th for taxation, and so on. This concern derives not just from the fact that we are being overtaken by emerging markets like Brazil, but also established Western economies, like Germany, have become more free market than Britain.

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3 Mar 2012 08:15:09

'My Week': Jesse Norman MP's latest dust up with Mervyn King is featured in his Parliamentary Diary

6a00d83451b31c69e2016302036d4b970d-250wiJesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, is this week's author of ConHome's new parliamentary diary. Follow Jesse on Twitter.


What a day! Spring is in the air, the birds are nesting busily and the Black Mountains look absolutely gorgeous. Yet again it hits home how lucky I am to represent Hereford and South Herefordshire.  Not every constituency selection meeting is the start of a love affair.  Mine took place on a cold wet December evening in 2006, and there was a huge shout when I was chosen.  I learned later that this was because that meant the bar was open.  But it still feels like first love to me.
Never more so than tonight, when I see Tune for the Blood, a new locally-made film about young farmers in Herefordshire.  It casts an extraordinary light on the lives of eight young people, but still more on what it is to live in the countryside; the value of community, of personal responsibility, of living close to the land.  It was made on a shoestring, and I am proud to have helped to raise money for it locally.  It should be compulsory viewing for young people in cities—including Hereford—and for the many thousands of urban politicians and journalists who know nothing about rural areas.

2012 is the Year of the Co-op, and I’m at a board meeting of the Conservative Co-operative Movement to plan our latest publication.  The Left has long regarded co-ops, mutuals and employee-owned businesses as its exclusive domain, so much so that the Co-operative Party is formally affiliated with Labour.  Neither thing makes sense:  these organisations are often highly entrepreneurial, indeed small-c capitalist, in nature, and they were all but ignored under Messrs Blair and Brown.  The good news is that this government is already doing more for them than anyone ever imagined five years ago.  Onwards!

I have an op-ed in the Times today (£) arguing that House of Lords Reform should not be a priority.  One reason is that it will inevitably clash with a referendum over Scotland.  How can you decide an absolutely fundamental issue of governance when you don’t know the shape of the Union, or if there’ll be one?  I’ve no idea.  The point is echoed in a Financial Times leader, and gets picked up by Nicholas Watt of the Guardian, who likens it to an argument used by Gordon Brown in 1998… er, thanks Nick.

Continue reading "'My Week': Jesse Norman MP's latest dust up with Mervyn King is featured in his Parliamentary Diary" »

12 Jan 2012 06:01:18

Jesse Norman MP unsuccessfully attempts to ban the taxpayer funding of trade union representatives

By Matthew Barrett
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Norman JesseYesterday in the Commons, the Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire, Jesse Norman, led a debate to introduce a bill which would: 

"provide that pay for hours worked on behalf of trade unions by trade union officials during hours when they are paid by an employer should be refunded to the employer by the trade union; and for connected purposes."

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6 Dec 2011 12:31:18

Raab's proposed motion demanding a review of the extradition treaty between the UK and US, is backed by MPs

By Joseph Willits 
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RaabLast night in Parliament, a motion tabled by Dominic Raab MP (Esher and Walton), demanding a review of the 2003 extradition treaty between the UK and US, was agreed without a vote. Raab was clear in that the tabled motion was "not about abolishing extradition, which is vital to international efforts in relation to law enforcement" but "whether, in taking the fight to the terrorists and the serious criminals after 9/11, the pendulum swung too far the other way." The purpose of the review, Raab said, was to "inject a dose of common sense into the blunt extradition regime that we now have in place".

Raab cited comments made by Alun Jones QC (who represented the Spanish Government in the Pinochet case) in the Telegraph yesterday, who warned of an imbalance within the UK-US extradition treaty. Raab said:

"An American citizen who is subject to an extradition warrant in the US has the constitutional safeguard that a judge must examine the evidence. In this country, a short recitation of the allegations suffices. That is a very real and important imbalance."

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