Cameron’s final day

July 13th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a farewell Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) as moving vans pulled up to his 10 Downing St residence a day before he is replaced as leader following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Ministers gathered for Cameron’s 215th and final weekly Cabinet session a day after Home Secretary Theresa May was confirmed as the new Conservative leader and prime minister-in-waiting.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said there had been a “touch of sadness” to the meeting, which saw May and Treasury chief George Osborne led tributes to Cameron.

It is sad to see his career end so suddenly. He was and is a very talented politician, and from all accounts a very decent person.

I was fortunate enough to meet him three or four times at IDU meetings, and he always dominated the room – even when he was just an Opposition Leader.

The first time I met him was at the 2005 Conservative Party Conference. Michael Howard had resigned as leader and there were five candidates for the leadership – Cameron, David Davis, Kenneth Clarke, Liam Fox and Dir Malcolm Rifkind. David Davis was the clear favorite going into the conference and Cameron was in third place in the betting markets.

The conference does not vote for the leader, but is was a chance to impress, and David Cameron did. He gave a speech which remains probably the best political speech I have seen a politician deliver. He spoke for around half an hour without a single note or teleprompter and connected emotionally and powerfully with the audience – he defended and extolled the virtues of the Conservative Party but also set out areas it had to do more.Especially poignant was when he talked of their experiences with the NHS with their baby Ivan who had severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

The large convention hall was so quiet during his speech you could have heard a pin drop. You did see delegates and diplomats (I was seated with them) turning to each other with expressions that said much the same thing – “We are seeing the rise of the next Leader of the Conservative Party”. Everyone in the hall knew his speech was a game changer, and so it was. By the end of the day he was the favourite with the bookmakers and went on to win.

The biggest thing he did to the Conservatives was make them electable. Many forget how awful their brand was in the late 1990s and 2000s. A series of leaders had all lost to Tony Blair, despite being competent leaders. But the Conservative brand was tarnished. I recall a poll done by Lord Ashcroft when they asked people what they though of a particular immigration proposal. 77% said they supported the proposal. However when told it was Conservative Party policy, only 42% then said they supported it. The brand was so bad it could reduce support for a policy by 35%!

Cameron changed their brand and make them electable again. I don’t think any of the others would have done that.

He won the 2010 election but didn’t get a majority. Critics say he should have, as Gordon Brown was so unpopular and the economy so weak. But I’m not sure the rise of the Lib Dems can be put down to Cameron – it was more a wary electorate.

He managed to govern for five years in a coalition with the Lib Dems, which was no mean feat. Many Lib Dems are to the left of Labour. And then in 2010 he got a majority. He was on top of the world and was on track to retire undefeated after eight to nine years as PM.

But alas for him he is out of office a year later, having been the chief proponent for the losing side in the EU referendum. Many have said that he should have never gambled with holding the referendum, but I disagree. It was profoundly the right thing to do, especially as the people voted to leave.  Refusing to allow the people to vote on whether they remain part of an EU government they can’t sack, would have been profoundly undemocratic. It also would have just led to UKIP gaining more and more strength.

Where he did perhaps make a mistake was becoming the chief campaigner for Remain. If he had perhaps done the same as Jim Bolger with the MMP referendum, he might have been able to survive. Bolger stated his preference for remaining with FPP, but did not lead the FPP campaign.

So David Cameron is gone 11 years after he became Leader and after six years as PM. While he leaves office on a low, I hope history will be kinder to him as the man who made the Conservatives electable again and beat Labour so badly in 2015 that they are now the unelectable party. There are worse legacies. The UK economy is also much stronger today than it was in 2010, and after an initial shock I think they will remain a strong economy outside the EU.


Cameron resigns as UK PM

June 24th, 2016 at 9:34 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

It followed a turbulent night with Remain campaigners quietly confident until the early hours when results from Newcastle and Sunderland showed better than expected returns for the Brexit camp. …

With the Leave campaign securing 52 per cent of the vote, Mr Cameron addressed the nation in an emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street to announce that he would be stepping down.

Statements are expected to be made by Sinn Fein and the SNP later today calling for a breakaway from the Union.

The end of David Cameron’s political career barely a year after he had the huge triumph of winning a majority between all expectations.

It may also be the end of the United Kingdom as Scotland is quite likely to secede and Northern Ireland less likely.

And possibly the beginning of the end of the European Union in its current form.

Less significantly Jeremy Corbyn may be toast also.

Oink Oink

September 21st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A new biography claims Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron once put a “private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth.

According to the Daily Mail Mr Cameron carried out the act as a student at Oxford University during a bizarre initiation ritual.

A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Mr Cameron took part in the ritual during an event organised by the Piers Gaveston Society, a dining club at Oxford.

The source, who himself is now an MP, first made the allegation in June 2014 and has since repeated them. He even claims photographic evidence of the alleged act exists.

A private part? His toe?

Won’t be a fun day to be the PM’s Press Secretary – or the PM.

Having said all that, I’m very skeptical of claims by anonymous sources, especially claims of photographic evidence. If there was evidence, I’m almost certain it would have emerged years ago.

In the 1990s a number of NZ publications alluded to a claimed encounter between a NZ MP and a rent boy. I heard dozens of times that there were photos of video footage from an alley way. But you know what – there wasn’t. They never emerged, and it was just a smear job with no substance.

Unless someone is willing to go on the record as a first hand witness, then I think it is just a load of trotters.

Queen vs Jihadist – easy choice

September 8th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A British jihadist has been killed by UK forces in Syria after he directed a plot to kill the Queen, it emerged on Monday night.

In a move David Cameron said was “a new departure” for Britain, Reyaad Khan was last month assassinated in an RAF drone strike after security services uncovered his bid to stage a terror attack in the UK.

The Prime Minister said that it is the first time UK forces have directed a targeted attack against one of its own citizens when Britain is not at war.

I think they are at war, just a different type of war.

The Prime Minister authorised the strike without the approval of Parliament but said that it did not require a vote because it was an act of “self-defence” for which there was a “clear legal basis”.

Trying to kill the Queen seems something you should defend against.

“There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop them. This Government does not for one moment take these decisions lightly.

“But I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done.”

I don’t think Khan will be missed:

Khan, from Cardiff, was a straight A-student who became radicalised and fled to Syria where he joined Isil and regularly took to Twitter to boast of executing prisoners.

Bye bye.

David Cameron losing it?

January 14th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Use Snapchat or WhatsApp to keep in touch with British relatives? You might want to enjoy that while it lasts.

As the British general election campaign begins and European tension mounts over the recent Paris attacks, Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested banning encrypted messaging services if British intelligence agencies were not allowed access to the communications. Snapchat, Apple’s iMessage, and WhatsApp all encrypt the messages sent through their applications, along with innumerable other services.

“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” he asked during a campaign speech. “My answer to that is: ‘No, we must not.'”

I like a lot of what David Cameron has done, but he has increasingly authoritarian tendencies when it comes to the Internet. Banning messaging that uses encryption on the Internet is nuts. I doubt it is possible, and it is definitely undesirable.

Cameron announces tax cuts

October 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron launched an audacious bid to woo voters in next year’s general election by pledging to raise the personal income tax threshold by £2,000 a year as well as lifting the 40% tax band to £50,000.

Casting the Conservatives as the “trade union for hardworking” people, the prime minister reached out to aspirational voters in Middle Britain by unveiling a £7.2bn double tax cutting promise, which prompted a rapturous reception at the Tory conference.

Increasing the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,000 would, Cameron said, ensure that full-time workers on the minimum wage were exempt from paying income tax.

Excellent. We shouldn’t tax low income workers, just so we can then top their incomes up with welfare. We should have lower taxes and less welfare.

Pledged to deal with “fiscal drag”, the process by which lower income earners are dragged into paying higher tax rates, by announcing the threshold at which the 40% tax rate is paid would be raised from £41,900 to £50,000 by the end of the next parliament in 2020.

Also good.

Would be good to have the NZ Government firm up its commitment to tax cuts.

Cameron on fracking opponents

January 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Many opponents of gas fracking are “irrational” and simply “can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel”, David Cameron said on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister attacked people who he described as “religiously opposed” to shale gas exploration.

He said that fracking is a “real opportunity” for Britain and that it could solve our gas needs for decades to come.

Opponents do tend to have a near-religious belief that any use of Earth’s natural resources is spiritually wrong, and must be opposed.

Mr Cameron said: “There are, though, some people who I think are opposing shale because they simply can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel being used in our energy mix and I think that is irrational because it’s surely better for us to be extracting shale safely from our own country rather than paying a large price for having it imported from around the world.”

He added: “I think that’s why some people are so religiously opposed to it because they just don’t want to see any carbon-based energy work. I don’t think that’s helpful.”

Or rational.

House of Commons votes no to Syria action

August 30th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports that the House of Commons has voted down by 285 to 272 a resolution authorising use of force in Syria. This is a huge embarrassment to David Cameron and his Government.  Cameron has said he will respect the decision. Around 30 Conservative MPs voted against.

I’m not totally surprised. I listen to the UK Today in Parliament on podcast almost every day, and in the past few months there have been many speeches from Conservative MPs expressing concern at the UK doing anything to help the rebels in Syria.

This will also be a big blow to Obama, who will have to act without their traditional ally. Of course he does have strong backing from most of the Arab League for action.

Images, not searches should be illegal

July 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Prime Minister David Cameron challenged the Internet search engine providers Google, Yahoo and Bing on Sunday to block images of child abuse, calling for more action against online pornography.

In a television interview, Cameron said search engines must block results for searches using blacklisted keywords to stop Internet users accessing illegal images.

Cameron’s demands should be resisted. Search engines should not blacklist keywords. Where does that stop?

If people deliberately access child abuse images on the Internet, then they are breaking the law and can be charged – as they should be.

But having a blacklist of search terms (as China does) will end up also blocking searches for educational resources that fight child abuse.

The hard core traders in child abuse images tend to not use the web much anyway. They do file sharing in chat rooms etc.

Cameron calls for UK referendum on EU membership

January 24th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

In a landmark speech, the Prime Minister said it is “time for the British people to have their say” amid growing public discontent with the power of Brussels.

Mr Cameron pledged an in-out referendum in the first half of the next parliament as democratic consent for membership is currently “wafter thin”.

“It is time to settle this European question in British politics,” he said. “I say to the British people: this will be your decision.”

Long overdue. It is cunning to time it for 2017, as it puts the acid on Labour and the Lib Dems. If they don’t commit to a referendum, they’ll suffer at the ballot box. People want to have a say – even if it is a vote to stay. Ed Miliband has said he won’t support a poll. I think he may come to regret that decision.

His decision to hold a poll was greeted with relief and praise from a wide range of Conservative MPs, but the reception across the Channel has already proved hostile.

A French minister branded the promise of a referendum “dangerous” and a former senior German politician described the possibility of Britain’s exit as a “veritable disaster”.

It would be, for the EU. That is why the EU has to reform. It is an undemocratic institution with almost all power with appointed Commissioners. It needs to focus more on free trade and economic prosperity, rather than regulating so many aspects of European life. If it does not agree to changes, then I think the UK will vote to leave.

The Prime Minister promised that he will personally fight for Britain to stay in the EU, after re-negotiating a better deal and clawing back some powers from Brussels.

He also went further than calling simply for the UK to have a new relationship with the EU. Setting out a wider vision for reform, he made a pitch to other leaders for a more “flexible, adaptable and open” relationship between all members, not just Britain.

“Far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its members more closely because such flexible, willing cooperation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre,” he said.


The full speech is here.

Key says he will vote in favour of same sex marriage bill at first reading

May 14th, 2012 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he would give initial support to a proposed bill allowing gay marriage. 

Labour’s rainbow caucus chair Louisa Wall said she was drafting a private members’ bill which would define marriage and enable same sex couples to wed.

The bill, which has yet to be discussed by the wider Labour caucus, would have to be drawn from a ballot before it went before Parliament. …

Key this morning said he would vote for the bill’s first reading if it was pulled from the ballot.

“Personally I’m not opposed. There will be a range of views of course. Let’s have the debate.”

The bill may not get drawn for months or years, so the debate may not be immediate. But having seen nothing bad happen with civil unions (except allowing people in a stable relationship commit to each other and gain legal rights), I can’t see too many getting worked up about same sex marriage.

UK Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said last year:

The Prime Minister said “commitment” in relationships should be valued regardless of whether it involved “a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man”. …

Speaking to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Mr Cameron said: “We’re consulting on legalising gay marriage. To anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment.

“Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.”

Well said.

Cameron on Education

October 10th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I love this speech by UK PM David Cameron, especially the part on education:

That starts with a good education – for everyone. It sounds so simple: proper teaching, good discipline, rigorous exams. But it’s hard. It’s hard because our education system has been infected by an ideology that instead of insisting on every child’s success has too often made excuses for failure. They said: “poor kids can’t learn.” “Black boys can’t do well.” “In this community we really mustn’t expect too much – don’t you understand?”

Oh yes, I do understand. Believe me I do understand and I am disgusted by the idea that we should aim for any less for a child from a poor background than a rich one. I have contempt for the notion that we should accept narrower horizons for a black child than a white one. Yes it’s the age-old irony of the liberal left: they practice oppression and call it equality.

What a superb line.

In Britain today, we have schools that are intolerant of failure, where ninety percent of pupils get five good GCSEs. Yes: private schools. You’ve heard me talk about social responsibility so let me say this. I want to see private schools start Academies, and sponsor Academies in the state system. Wellington College does it, Dulwich does it – others can too. The apartheid between our private and state schools is one of the biggest wasted opportunities in our country today. So let it be this party that helps tear it down.

What a novel idea – allow private schools to sponsor state schools.

Rigour back in learning. Standards back in schools. Teachers back in control. Yes – the Conservatives are back in government.

We can’t have standards can we.

Cameron on multiculturalism

February 7th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Entering the debate on national identity and religious tolerance, the Prime Minister declared an end to “passive tolerance” of divided communities, and say that members of all faiths must integrate into wider society and accept core values.

To be British is to believe in freedom of speech and religion, democracy and equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality, he will say. Proclaiming a doctrine of “muscular liberalism”, he said that everyone, from ministers to ordinary voters, should actively confront those who hold extremist views.

I like the concept of muscular liberalism – not accepting extremist views as valid. And by this, I don’t mean taking away the right for people to hold such views – but to make sure such views do not get funded by the state.

He warned that groups that fail to promote British values will no longer receive public money or be able to engage with the state.

In other words if you promote sharia law, don’t expect the taxpayer to fund you.

That means abandoning the notion that different communities should be able to live according to their own values and traditions as long as they stay within the law. “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream,” Mr Cameron said. “We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.”

All Britons should believe in basic values of freedom and equality, and actively promote them, he said. That means ensuring that immigrants learn to speak English and that all schools teach “elements of a common culture and curriculum”.

I don’t think it is a black and white choice between multi-culturalism and integration. We would be a very boring country if we had no variety of cultures. But what Cameron is referring to is making sure there is some common culture and subscription to core values of democracry, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, non-subservience of women etc.

Prime Minister David Cameron

May 12th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

David Cameron is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Congrats to Prime Minister Cameron and my many friends in the UK who were fighting for this outcome.

The Telegraph has a great timeline of the last few hours, as the Labour and Lib Dems negotiation fell apart.

Nick Clegg is to be Deputy Prime Minister in a full coalition. That should give stability. They have also agreed on the desirability for a fixed election term, which means the next election which can be held any time up to May 2015, may be set in law for May 2014 and every four years there after.

The Lib Dems have five Cabinet posts.

David Cameron is the 19th PM from Eton, out of 53 in total. He is the youngest for 200 years, aged only 43. I can safely say no one will ever beat Pitt the Younger’s record of becoming PM at age 24. Pitt was PM for a total of 20 years.

I’m very pleased by the result.  Apart from the obvious political leanings, I had a lot of money on iPredict for Cameron to become Prime Minister.

Hypocrisy and lies on state sector CEO salaries

January 29th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

First the hypocrisy exposed by Keeping Stock:

Mr Rennie said the pay rises flowed through from a decision in 2005 to increase the overall funding for chief executives by 5 per cent a year for five years. …

Yes that is right. Labour signed off on a formal policy to increase CEO salaries by 5% a year for five years. A policy cancelled by National in 2009.

Then we have both the hypocrisy and a lie, from Grant Robertson.

I actually find it hilarious that Grant, the self appointed defender of the public service is promoting Goff’s idiocy.  Grant has oppossed every cost savings National has made in the public service, demanding more public servants and higher wages, and then suddenly he is for a pay cap!

But the lie is this:

A raw nerve has been struck very quickly with David Farrar over the commitment in Phil Goff’s speech to cap Public Sector Chief Executive pay at the level of the Prime Minister. He describes the policy as “idiocy”.

I wonder how DPF’s friends in the UK Conservative Party would feel about him calling David Cameron an idiot. Because, as Phil Goff said in the speech today, this is something that the UK Tories are also talking about.

Grant is wrong. Maybe he did not read his own link and just trusted that Phil Goff was correct, He’s a smart guy so won’t make that mistake again.

What does the article say David Cameron wants to do:

  • speculation that public sector salaries may be frozen if the Conservatives are elected – something Labour and the PSA no doubt would condemn
  • named several public-sector employees who he indicated are overpaid – and I could name some here also.
  • said a Conservative Government will “out” quangocrats and mandarins who have been “getting rich at the taxpayer’s expense” by publishing details of all public sector salaries over £150,000 – well we already publish salaries over $100,000
  • Mr Cameron said that means-tested tax credits for people earning over £50,000 would be scrapped to save taxpayers’ money – scrapping their equivalent of WFF – again not sure Grant is endorsing this.
  • seek to reintroduce Gordon Brown’s “golden rule” – to keep Government borrowing below 40 percent of national economic output – wish Labour would tell us their debt target – seems to be the higher the better
  • The Conservative leader also indicated that the Conservatives may freeze public spending in future – wow a spending freeze

Nowhere at all does David Cameron talk about having a policy that no public servant can be paid more than the Prime Minister who gets 197,000 pounds.

His Shadow Chancellor did in one speech suggest that the Chancellor’s permission be necessary for any pay above the PM. His exact words were:

In the current climate, anyone who wishes to pay a public servant more than the Prime Minister will have to put it before the Chancellor.

There is a huge difference between needing to make a case, and a blanket ban which Goff announced, as the House of Commons itself resolved.

Osborne also incidentally proposed a 5% pay cut for Ministers, cutting the number of MPs by 10% and closing off the parliamentary pension scheme and most of all cutting the cost of Whitehall by one third!

Now the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee happens to have just published a report on top pay in the public sector. Let us see what they think of Phil Goff’s idea:

Public servants who earn more than the Prime Minister are very well paid indeed. Reward at this level deserves a clear and public justification, and close and sceptical scrutiny. But any proposal to use the Prime Minister’s salary as an absolute cap on public sector pay would be little more than a political stunt.

Little more than a political stunt. That’s NZ Labour.

Cameron and twits and twats

August 4th, 2009 at 7:26 am by David Farrar

Was very amused by this story:

The leader of the Conservative Party was forced to apologise this morning after swearing twice during a live radio interview.

In an apparent bid to prove that he was not out of touch, David Cameron appeared on the Christian O’Connell show on Absolute Radio to discuss his life outside Westminster. He turned his satirical fire on the latest internet craze, revealing that he was not on Twitter.

“Politicians do have to think about what they say,” said Mr Cameron.

“The trouble with Twitter, the instantness [sic] of it, is I think that too many twits might make a twat.”

The problem for David is that there are two meanings for the word twat. One is:

1 (British, offensive, slang) A contemptible and stupid person, idiot. Note this can be used affectionately

The other is:

2 (vulgar, slang) A vagina, pussy, vulva, clitoris

He then also on air used a far more minor swear word:

He told thousands of breakfast show listeners: “The public are rightly, I think, pissed off – sorry, I can’t say that in the morning – angry with politicians.”

And the radio host heard Cameron talking to his press secretary afterwards:

“He said (to her): ’That seemed to go OK.’

“She said: ’Yeah, apart from the language.’

“He said: ’Oh, yeah, pissed, sorry about that, I’m really sorry.’

“She said: ’No, it was the twat.’

“He said: ’That’s not a swear word.’

“His press secretary went: ’It is.”’

I would have liked to have seen his face when she explained exactly what the other meaning of the word was!

Cameron capitalises on crisis

May 13th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

David Cameron has just done a very good job of capitalising on the crisis of confidence in MPs, as the Daily Telegraph has revealed more and more details. Cameron has:

  • Said sorry
  • Called some claims unethical and wrong
  • Has ordered several members of his Shadow Cabinet to pay back some expenses
  • Has set up a panel to scrutinise the expense claims of every Conservative MP and decide if any claim should be refunded
  • Any Conservative MP that does not pay back a claim as ordered, will be expelled from the party
  • All future expense claims will be published online so the public can scrutinise them
  • Is banning his MPs from flipping houses (this has caused most of the rorts – swapping their second home to be the one that needs work done on it)
  • forcing his MPs to pay capital gains tax on any sale of a house where the taxpayer has paid for mortgage interest
  • banning future claims for furniture, household goods or food (as is case in NZ basically)

I’d say the next election is now home and hosed.

RIP Ivan Cameron

February 26th, 2009 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

I am incredibly saddened to read of the death of David Cameron’s six year old son, Ivan. You just can not imagine how awful it must be to have to cope with such a loss, and in public.

UK Politics

August 26th, 2008 at 1:11 pm by David Farrar

Out of the blue I got sent this photo yesterday by another attendee at the Paris IDU Party Leaders Meetings. Quite nice to have the photo to go with my Thatcher one!

In the latest poll in the UK, Cameron’s Conservatives have 46% compared to 25% for Labour under Gordon Brown. This would give them a massive projected 220 seat majority with Labour losing over 200 seats and the Lib Dems over 30 seats. With that sort of majority (if they get it) Labour will be in opposition for at least two terms.

I was sad to read in the NY Times today, that Carol Thatcher has revealed that Margaret Thatcher is suffering from dementia. It seems to be affected her less than Ronald Reagan’s, as she does still “have good days” and was certainly lucid a couple of years ago at the IYDU Council Meeting when I briefly met her.

Dementia is an awful infliction on any person, and I would not want it on my worst enemy. There is some sort of awful irony that both Reagan and Thatcher, who helped free so many people from totalitarianism, spent their final years afflicted by a prison which has no chance of liberty.

Cameron attacks moral neutrality

July 9th, 2008 at 12:42 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports on a superb speech by David Cameron attacking moral neutrality:

“We talk about people being ‘at risk of obesity’ instead of talking about people who eat too much and take too little exercise. We talk about people being at risk of poverty, or social exclusion: it’s as if these things – obesity, alcohol abuse, drug addiction – are purely external events like a plague or bad weather.

And the same in NZ.

“Of course, circumstances – where you are born, your neighbourhood, your school, and the choices your parents make – have a huge impact. But social problems are often the consequence of the choices that people make.”

Choices do matter, and that is why you need incentives to encourage the right choices.

Politicians in Paris

July 2nd, 2008 at 11:25 am by David Farrar

Sadly for me, not all my time overseas was a holiday. In Paris I also attended an IDU meeting. The International Democrat Union is a grouping of centre-right parties from around the world – around 95 parties are now members.It was founded by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Helmet Kohl and Jacques Chirac.

I’ve been involved in the IDU and IYDU for a number of years. This meeting is the big one though – the party leader’s meeting which is held every three years. The last one was in Washington DC in 2005.

The French National Assembly where we met for the Party Leaders Plenary. There were representatives from 46 countries, including eight Prime Ministers and a further 24 Party Leaders. The Prime Ministers included France, Croatia, Denmark, Georgia and Iceland. Some of the Leaders included David Cameron (UK), Bosnia, Chile, Ecuador, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru and Portugal.

The Conference lasted for two days with Regional meetings on Wednesday morning, an IDU Executive meeting on Wednesday afternoon and the main plenary session on Thursday.

The lady speaking is an Opposition Leader from Venezuela. A growing number of attendees are from semi or fully autocratic countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Belarus where their parties are banned back home. It is quite inspiring talking to them and realizing how much they risk to get what we take for granted.

John Howard (IDU Chairman) greeting the French Prime Minister – François Fillon. The French PM gave one of the best speeches I have heard – hard to believe it was from a French politician. He quoted economic heroes of the right and the merits of free trade and liberalism which is not socialism or conservatism. I am going to try and get a copy – it really was that good.

On the Wednesday Night we were taken out to the Elysee Palace to meet President Sarkozy. The bus even got a police escort who cleared traffic for us, and you can see us travelling on the wrong side of the road here. A lot of pedesterians were wondering who was on the bus to warrant such treatment and must have been very disappointed to see me on the front seat. Mind you there were also half a dozen Prime Ministers with us!

The attendees are entering the Palace. Quite unusually there were no security checks (despite us all having been told to bring our passports. We were just escorted from the bus straight into the Palace without even a metal detector.

I did get to meet President Sarkozy (who is even shorter than Winston!) and The Stig remarked to me that it was the first time meeting someone who actually has his finger on the bomb!

The photo above is a poor quality one (taken via cellphone) of Sarkozy and UK Conservative Leader David Cameron. Cameron was in attendance for the full two days, and is a very engaging personality. He is quite charismastic and a good public speaker, but also very engaging on a one on one level. You feel you are talking to a person, not just a politician.

Sarkozy was, well, very French. 🙂

After a couple of hours of champagne and nibbles at the Palace, we were taken to the Senate for a reception dinner. Also a fine venue, to say the least. And the food was absolutely first class.

This was taken out the window of the Senate. What is really amazing is the photo was taken a bit after 10 pm. Paris has amazingly long days, staying light until after 11 pm. It was one of the many things I loved about the city.

Labour crushed in by-election

June 27th, 2008 at 8:11 pm by David Farrar

Gordon Brown has been Prime Minister of the UK for a year today, and to celebrate his party came 5th in the Henley by-election to replace Boris Johnson.

It was bad enough the previous by-election when a 7,000 majority turned into a 7,000 loss but this is unprecedented. The parties scored:

  1. Conservatives 57.0%
  2. Lib Dems 27.9%
  3. Greens 3.8%
  4. BNP 3.6%
  5. Labour 3.1%
  6. UKIP 2.4%
  7. Monster Raving Loony Party 0.7%

Gordon Brown’s day as PM are numbered when the facsists get more votes than the Government. At least he beat the Monster Raving Loony Party!

David Cameron was at the IDU Conference in Paris yesterday and he really looks and acts Prime Ministerial. He may only be Opposition Leader but to some degree he dominated the meeting despite there being eight actual Prime Ministers there. The UK Prime Ministership may not be the US Presidency, but it is still one of the “big dogs”.

We had a chat about NZ and UK polls (which are quite similiar).  He remarked that he would be a lot happier if his election had to be held by November 2008 rather than May 2010. I have to agree – a three year term might be too short but a five year term is frustratingly long. Mind you I am not sure Gordon Brown will even last to the end of it.