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"by 2009, each person working in the private sector will be paying more each month into the pension of a civil servant than they will into their own pension"

That is so extraordinary and damning that I find it hard to believe. How well is this claim substantiated?

The public sector pension figure originally came from Lib Dem story last August but their figure considerably understates the true value of public sector pensions. Because public sector pension schemes are unfunded, current contributions are those necessary to meet past promises. The value of promises being made today is much higher. If public sector schemes were funded in the same way as the private sector, the cost to private sector employees of the promises being made today would be about three times as much as private sector employees are contributing to their own pensions (i.e. £3 for every £1). I'm on record saying much the same in the Evening Standard last August.

Very sensible suggestions. The Conservatives must keep up the pressure on Labour, and relying on sleaze and scandal will only get them part of the way.

Having said that, there is no need to be hasty with new policies. Plenty of time for that.

I agree with you about boldness (although not necesarily in terms of being more overtly right wing) - im more thinking in terms of DC's recent choices in topics to highlight, especially at PMQs.

There is very little news about at the moment - why are we not trying to seize the agenda more? I can understand not wanting to make a mistake and jeopardise our current position, but continuing with botched election line is getting a little boring.

The Osbourne commitment to match Labour spending is politically expedient and blunt's Labour's most effective weapon - accusing the Tories of cuts to public services. For that reason alone it is difficult to relinquish and I suspect will not be.

Beyond that however the Conservatives are hesitantly advancing the argument for a smaller and more nimble state - Ireland keeps being mentioned, for instance.

What is actually needed is more intellectual effort from the front bench. By more than one measure the Party's leadership continues to underperform.

I agree about the "more hunger for power". I have heard a couple of Labour backbench MPs on the radio in recent days defending Hain and MPs pay rises. They showed a real tribal dislike for us in all their comments. Our guys need to start spending less time in their merchant banks, and do likewise.

Why do we continue to tolerate Michael Martin, the most partisan and incompetent speaker in history?

The Tory leadership is still shying away from the real concerns of the electorate.
Top of the list is the immigration crisis. For example why are we still letting Muslims immigrate to the UK. The idea that they are economically useful to British people and culturally enriching is simply too absurd.
Then there is the EU-we simply cant still put forward a fantasy idea of reform which no one else wants and is not going to happen.
Third is crime and punishment or lack of it.
Fourth globalization and immigration and income dispersion will probably prick the fantasy world of British economics shortly.And tory policy is.?

A radical job-creation agenda would win the party support from all sides. Those entrepreneurs prepared to invest in manufacturing and food production and particularly those that specifically want to supply out domestic market should be given substantial targeted tax-cuts to make competing against the coolie economies worth their while.

Importing goods, and particularly food and fuel makes us vunerable to inflation whenever the pound weakens. This creates a scenario in which we can never effectively cut interest rates for fear of inflation in the high-street. So long as we continue to import in such high volumes we will never be able to achieve significant growth or even reverse economic decline.

"Why do we continue to tolerate Michael Martin, the most partisan and incompetent speaker in history? "

Is this the same Michael Martin who asked members to be quiet yesterday so that a backbench Labour MP could continue to deliver "good news" on the economy?

Is this the same Michael Martin who does not appear to care when the Prime Minister fails to answer questions and attempts to turn PMQs into Questions to the Leader of the Opposition?

Is this the same Michael Martin who is spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on expensive legal fees to deflect press criticism of his wife?

Pouring resources into LibDem seats would be my priority. Every Tory candidate up against a LibDem has twice as hard a struggle as those who face Labour. I hope that's where Michael Ashcroft's money is going.

"Top of the list is the immigration crisis."

Agreed, but sorry to be boring about this, this issue needs to be raised via population sustainability, for there is a massive contradiction in the centre left political establishment, Labour, LibDems, BBC....etc, who are simultaneously for mass immigration, yet telling us to wear environmental hair shirts because there are sufficient resources, a contradiction the Conservatives could expolit, and use to shut up the likes of the BBC and Labour who will shout racist if we used the immigrant word.

You're not being boring Iain, you're absolutely right.

I agree, we must dropp the commitment to maintaining Labour's spending plans.
If we accept Labour's spendig agenda we accept the idea that we need a very high level of taxation to retain decent pulic services.
As we all know, taxes have increasd greatly, and so has spending, especially in the NHS and Education.
If it had given us an improved NHS, and improved the standards of the School-system, then at least I could have understood the need for a high level of spending.
However, evidence suggests that much of the money have been used on creating a client-state of public employees for Labour.

Would there be any merit in tabling a Commons motion of no confidence in the Speaker? In one sense it would be just as futile a gesture as a similar motion against the government, given the Labour majority. However, in circumstances where there is no precedent for the Speaker leaving office other than by death or voluntary retirement - all founded upon the unwritten assumption that the Speaker is as competent and impartial in practice as the role requires - such a motion might be the only way of getting the message across that enough is enough.

Iain - you're 100% right.

Agreed, but sorry to be boring about this, this issue needs to be raised via population sustainability,

Iain, unfortunately our economic growth and increased longevity (two key measures of success) are funded by a pyramid scheme. It’s unsustainable, like all pyramid schemes, but the government that says "no more" will only be thanked by future generations.

"What should the Tories do next...?"

Start obeying the law perhaps!

See PA report on George Osborne inquiry.

Think he is innocent? Then explain this entry in his interests statement -
4. Sponsorship or financial or material support
"In my capacity as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, support for my office is received from Mr S Robertson, of London."

Let this next Conservative government be the one that finally ends the nightmare of welfare dependency. This can only be achieved by creating more jobs.

Unfortunately though I have seen nothing so far that shows how enough new jobs can be created. Unless there is a change of direction in the way our economy is structured I guarantee that there will still be at least a million unemployed by the end of the first Conservative term in office. Which means the welfare burden is going to remain the same.

There is a way forward. It is through a large manufacturing base and through producing wares for our domestic market. Producing goods in Britain, keeping money in Britain to further invest in Britain. Wealth creation through economic self-reliance. Sadly while politicians are prisoners of the open-trade ideology our economic misery will continue.

"are funded by a pyramid scheme."

Yes the British establishment are pursuing a ponzi scheme, which is illegal in every other walk of life other than the political establishment.

But if Cameron wants to set out a cohesive set of policies across housing, transport, services, and environment, he has to engage with the issue of population sustainability. If Cameron doesn’t open up a debate on population sustainability, he will have no leverage to challenge Gordon Brown's house building across England, for the only counter to the likely charge of Nimbyism which Brown will make, is the debate on population sustainability.

In regards to the demographic argument, the simple fact is that what is currently going on is not sustainable, after all immigrants get old as well, and rather than having to deal with a population of 60 million, the ONS has recently projected at best we will get a population growth to 65 million, worst 120 million , this at a time when there is likely to be both an energy shortage and food shortages. Madness!

So Cameron needs to open the debate on population sustainability because what is going on is not sustainable, that population growth is no solution to the demographic problem, and in light of Gordon Brown already having trashed our pensions, we will have to work longer, and perhaps, as it fell to our parents and grand parents generations to face down fascism to ensure future generations lived in a democracy, may be its fallen to these generations to get off the ponzi scheme and put in place a plan so our children and grand children have a sustainable future.

Martin Cole - Oh dear. Do you not understand the difference between breaking the law (which Osborne has not done) and breaking House of Commons rules (which he may have done)? The investigation announced by PA is into the latter. The Electoral Commission would be involved if the law had been broken.

And by the way, all this investigation proves is that someone has complained. ANY complaint from an MP against another MP leads to an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards. It does not necessarily mean that the Commissioner thinks there is a case to answer.

What is your point about the entry concerning S Robertson? I may have missed something but that means nothing to me. If you are saying Osborne has declared some support for his office there but other donors, that is entirely down to the route via which the support is received. If it is paid direct to Osborne, he has to declare it. If it is paid to the party on the understanding that the party will spend it to fund Osborne's office, it may or may not need to be declared. This is the issue over which advice from the authorities was unclear.

What we should be doing is putting far more effort into destroying the myth of Nulab's economic competence. If Mr Osbourne cannot drive a horse and cart through the fantasy economic miracle myth nulab have created, he deserves to be politically tied to their spending plans. When we are back in government, we will find an economic state far worse than when Maggie took over. We should be attacking the out of control money supply, the ridiculous borrowing requirement, the black hole that is PFI,the waste of the EU contribution, and exposing the cynical use and fraudulent manipulation of inflation statistics. We ahould also be explaining the long-term effects of the consumer credit explosion.
When I were a lad, I was taught that everyone had their own personal inflation figure. How about taking the expenditure of various sensitive groups, OAP's, "Hard-working families", nurses, teachers, the armed forces, students, and working out what the average rate of inflation was for these over the last 5 years of nulab, then updating on a quarterly basis? Let's include taxation as inflationary expenditure, especially the community charge. I strongly suspect the we will find that people have been working harder and becoming poorer, and that the poorest have been affected the most. Lets also explain what Gordon's raid on pension funds has meant to everyone with a non-government pension.

In reply to Martin Cole, 1218, Mr Osbourne's financial affairs have long been a a matter of public record. Nulab passed this law specifically to target the Conservative Party. It appears that the majority of the nulab front bench knew this and therefore considered that the law didn't apply to them - a historically common misapprehension for socialists to make. I will continue to fund my party so that nulab is allowed to return to its real role in British political life as the natural party of opposition.

The Daily Telegraph leader is correct when it says: "The Party is at its best when most radical".

The Blair/Brown duumvirate has largely caused not only a broken society but has also broken the machinery of government and wrecked other national institutions because it didn't/wasn't able to think through a better model to replace the old ones with.

Apart from mending the economy, we need to look at things that Blair/Brown got wrong: the Bank of England v the FSA v the Treasury (there must be only one boss), the universities (why should they bend over backwards to admit substandard students? It is the job of the schools to get more up to university standard), the civil service appears to be in disarray and has been politicised.

I suggest one radical idea is to consider independence from central government for all of these (and no doubt others), subject of course to building in proper accountability.

Nulabour legislation should be examined and consolidated into simpler Acts where fairness and commonsense are given greater roles (e.g. a convicted criminal's human rights would take second place to the victim's rights).

This Osbourne guff is a complete non story stirred up by a desperate Labour Govt, and its clapped out cheerleaders the BBC and the Guardian.

Backbench non entity Stephen Pound MP was interviewed on the BBC about why he was in favour of MPs getting an above average pay rise. His immediate answer:

"Because I am not a millionaire like Cameron and Osborne".

The BBC then let this line of spurious argument run for a couple of minutes, unchallenged.

London Tory, what total hypocrisy from Stephen Pound. He seems to think millionaires are not allowed to contribute to public life yet his party were only too happy to stick out their grubby little hands for donations from wealthy businessmen. Double-standards as ever from the champagne socialists.

Tony, it did not seem to occur to Stephen Pound MP that had he possessed more talent, this would have been recognised by his Government in the form of a ministerial salary. If you have spent 10 years on the backbenches under this crowd- the Government of John Prescott, Stephen Byers and Peter Hain, you really must be a dud.


London Tory, there are so many 'nonentities' as you correctly describe them on the Labour backbenches. I'm only an ordinary member of the public, generally working as a cleaner, but I'm 100% confident I could wipe the floor with any Labour backbencher in a debate.

How they get elected is no surprise in the Labour heartlands but how they get selected is the real mystery. Surely there must be people in the Labour party who have intellect and original ideas to put forward, but then again, maybe that is exactly what the Labour party is afraid of?

@Fawkes is evil

Guido is merely a niche blogger. Hain is a member of the Government (for now). And have you any idea of the political journey the SunTan has taken over the past 40 years? I refer you to his book 'Ayes To The Left' circa 1990.

Tony, one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time was when Ed Balls was challenged on TV this week to endorse Hain. Brown's Rep On Earth gave a reply which could braodly be explained as 'he can swing in the wind' !

Thats politics, comrade !

"How they get elected is no surprise in the Labour heartlands but how they get selected is the real mystery."

Maybe they don't have anything better to choose from in the Labour hearlands?

"And tory policy is.?" Anthony Scholefield

I do think we should be told.

Politics aside, the standard of Labour MP was far better under the more radical days of Michael Foot. At least then they had conviction politicians who believed in something and could argue passionately for it. Today's Labour MP is a super-safe functionary who can be counted on not to rock the boat. I believe in politics dissension is a good thing because it holds those at the top of the party hierarchy to account. Its actually the best way to support a party and the best way to keep it fresh. Labour's only attempt at dissension has come from Clare Short and even that was only conditioned by whether she was in the cabinet or not. Labour have created the production-line politician, all looking the same, and saying the same things, but most dangerously, all thinking the same.

There are some good honest socialist MP's. Frank Fields, Kate Hoey, Glenis Dunwoody and John Spellar spring to mind as upright and worthy citizens. Frank Fields was asked to "Think the unthinkable", and when he "thought the unthoughtable". was sent into the outer darkness. The redoubtable Glenis has been a thorn in the side of Nulab as Chair of the transport committee, and Mr Spellar proved too efficient as a junior minister. These worthies and likeminded others must despair at the 10 wasted years of nulab fantasy government.
I agree with Tony Makara about the need for proper debate within a party, if only for the reason that it tends to make the soap-opera standard plotting in the westminster village more visible. I do hope that DC is picking up on the wind-change within the electorate that more honesty and (much) less spin is the way to make us more electable.

The Tories need to remember who the electorate are and what their needs and aspirations are. The biggest voting power base are the pensioners who voted on mass for Blair - he screwed them in the same way McBrown has. McBrown has screwed tomorrows pensioner and they are struggling today with mortgages and raising their families.
If Dave keeps up his new found "balls" and doesn't revert to the Dopey Dave the Green Looney and is never seen again in public with Zac Goldsmith then he can expect to be the next PM.
Finally zenophobia over the muslims, the majority or whom are wonderful people, needs to be addressed. They want what we all want as well and we need to include them and not adapt to the whims of the vocal minority. They are not the enemy - McBrown and his marxist cabal are.

Can I join your Party, grumpy old man? A lot of good thoughts in your posts.

Today's Telegraph leader was excellent (could it have been written by the Heffer?).

Excellent though it is to try and get rid of Hain, Harman et al, doing so really only touches the surface.

Real politics is about improving the lot of ordinary people, people like Helen Newlove whose life has been devastated by a group of feral youths who viciously attacked and killed her husband.

Nulab, however, does not accept that this sort of crime is on the increase, despite appearances to the contrary. Nulab can produce facts and figures to show the steady decline of violent crime over the last decade, just as the PM, Ed Balls et al state
that inflation is only 2.1%.

What I suggest is a different attack: a campaign to ask people for their impressions.

Under the banner "How has Labour failed YOU?", there should be a number of specific questions e.g:
"are you an 11 year old who cannot read or write properly?"
"do you now feel safer at night in the street than you used to?"
"have you got an NHS dentist?"
"aren't you pleased that the government has got inflation down to only 2.1%?"
"has your council tax bill gone up by only 2.1%?"
"will the doubling of the 10% tax band in April affect you at all?"
"are you concerned that the war in Iraq will cause more terrorism in this country?"
"does it worry you that so many illegal immigrants are in security jobs?"
"does it annoy you that the gap between the very poor and the very rich is this country has increased so much in the last 10 years?"
"if you work in the country, what do you think of Defra?"
"has your pension been affected by Gordon Brown's tax raid on pensions?"
"if you pay private school fees, what do you think of the plan to make you pay extra, so that children from poor families can attend?"

Peter Harrison @ 1300 thank you for making my point so perfectly clear.

Of course only the declarations to the Electoral Commission have the force of law.

How perfectly your leadership have designed their strategy with the intention to deceive?

How elegantly you have described the thought processes?

How long before the illegality strikes home?

grumpy old man @ 1319 should be aware that the only real victims of the Electoral Commission so far seem to have been UKIP.

The two main party's treat the law as if it applied solely to others, not just in the matter of donations.

Get rid of Saatchis or whoever. David Belchamber has provided the cornerstone of the relevant issues that must be highlighted in all advertising in run up to the next election. Simple direct relevant. Another version of Labour Isn't Working but the issue this time is more widespread that unemployment. Institutional Incompetence.

Something punchy by way of a slogan is needed maybe NEW LABOUR...STALE GOVERNMENT with a picture of a stale old Brown loaf turning mouldy?

Martin - what on earth are you on about?

Declarations to the Electoral Commission do NOT have the force of law. However, it IS an offence to fail to make the required declarations to the Commission. There is no evidence that Osborne has failed to make any such declarations nor are Labour alleging that he has.

Declarations to the Register of Members Interests are made under different rules and have different reporting limits. Some donations have to be declared to the Electoral Commission but not the Register of Members Interests. Some have to be declared in the Register but not to the Commission. Failing to declare something in the Register is NOT an offence, just a breach of House of Commons rules.

Donations made directly to an MP for the work of his office have to be declared to the Commission and in the Register (assuming they are over the reporting limits for both). Donations made to the party to support the work of an MP's office have to be declared to the Commission. It is unclear whether or not they have to be declared in the Register under current rules.

As for "intention to deceive", it is a strange sort of deception which declares donations to the Commission, asks the HoC authorities if the donations need to be declared in the Register and then acts on that advice.

There is no illegality. Get over it.

And just to be clear, if Osborne had failed to declare donations to the Commission, he would be guilty of an offence and should resign from the Shadow Cabinet. If it emerges that Cameron or Davis failed to declare donations to their leadership campaigns to the Electoral Commission, they should resign. The law is the law (albeit sometimes the law is an ass) and I do not condone law breaking by either party.

And as a final point, two wrongs do not make a right. Even if Osborne had done something illegal (which he clearly has not in this instance), it would not in any way detract from Hain's position.

Firstly, it urges "dropping the inhibiting commitment to maintaining Labour's spending plans".

My own personal jury is still out on this. Radically changing long-medium term spending plans could itself cause lots of waste and chaos.
What are we going to find if and when Conservative ministers get into their offices?
If the rot is as bad as we fear, the scene may resemble that of the relief of Lucknow.

Secondly, it calls for boldness in reform of the Whitehall machine.

Aye: We want to encourage people to be more responible and restore democracy.
A fish rots from the head down.
We need a total commitment to public service from the shadow cabinet. This will help them argue that MPs shouldn't gravy their own trains.
We need real cabinet government. Badger the Puppet Chancellor is looking increasingly silly for example.
Once elected politicians have reformed themselves we can start to reform the civil service etc.

Thirdly it calls for more hunger for power:

I assume this also refers to the 'outside interests' of the shad cab.
If it genuinely means to say Conservatives haven't been hungry enough for power then I can't square it with my own or the public's perception.

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