Peter Hoskin

Pickles responds | 23 April 2009

Pickles responds | 23 April 2009
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Here are Eric Pickles' answers to the questions posed by CoffeeHousers:

Hugh

How would a Conservative government reform the expenses system?

The whole system of expenses is poisoning the trust in politics. I used to think that transparency and auditing was the key, I have now changed my mind. The whole issue needs to be on a proper footing independent of parliament and at a reduced cost. MP’s should not be able to decide the rules or vote on pay and conditions.

Nicholas

What exactly, if anything, will a Conservative government do to reverse and rectify the increasingly intrusive powers of the state and the erosion by the New Labour hegemony of the traditional freedoms, protections and privacy once enjoyed by all the English people? The answer to this question will be paramount to my voting intentions.

Under Labour we have seen the explosion of the Big Brother state and the creation of a snoopers charter that has allowed the government and hundreds of local authorities to pry into all kinds of different parts of people’s lives. We should scrap the expensive plan on ID cards and abandon some of the increasingly pointless intrusive data bases. Intrusion by the state should be proportionate. Town halls should be banned from spying on their own residents unless it is necessary to stop a serious criminal offence. We need to trust and empower people to make the right decisions. People across the country need to feel like they can take control of their lives again. At the moment the public feel powerless to change things.

John Ward

Those of us who know you or know of you are well aware of your personal integrity and your determination. However, you are not one of the best in the media, and were quite easily trapped on Question Time recently.What can you do to make sure that party members and supporters need have no fear of your appearing in such places again in the future?

We all make mistakes and I have been quite open about the fact my performance on Question Time was not my finest hour. The key is to recognise your mistakes, learn from them and move on. The problem with someone like the Prime Minister is that he can’t admit that he’s ever done anything wrong which makes it fundamentally impossible for him to take this country forward.  I hope you will approve of my next appearance on QT.

lawrence greek

Eric - George Osborne made a very intelligent and insightful speech on the future of the financial sector today to the RSA, proving that not only do the Conservatives have a plan for the economy, they have also thought long and hard about what is required - much more so than Gordon Brown. How can the Conservative party get this message across better to the wider electorate and, more specifically, why do Cameron and Osborne allow themselves to be patronised by Brown and Labour when beneath the surface they clearly have a much better grasp of both markets and the causes of the current crisis?

George and David have set a real compelling alternative to this tired government .The easiest thing to do would have been to come out with a raft of ill thought through knee jerk policies to deal with the economic crisis. Instead what you have seen are a set of coherent measured policies. After more than a decade of corrosive spin and half truths from Labour we must be open and upfront with the public. Thanks to the economic incompetence of Gordon Brown, we face a massive hole in our public finances. The greatest share of the burden of that hole must be borne by public spending restraint.  We must get a grip on the massive waste in our pubic spending so we can rebuild our economy based on saving and investment not on spending and debt.  I don’t accept your comments that George and David for one minute allow themselves to be patronized by Brown. However I recognize that we cannot pretend to have all the answers which is why we must continue to listen to the public. If we don’t, then we will become like the Labour party - out of touch and aloof.

DM

Do you NOW understand why so many of the Question Time audience reacted as they did to you?

I was very taken aback by the anger of the audience, I tried to make a narrow point and accept that I didn’t make it well. The experience did change my mind, and as previously mentioned I now accept the whole system needs fundamentally reforming.

Cottage Pie

If you were marooned on a desert island with Gordon Brown would you:

a) Analyse with your new friend the potential of applying the endogenous growth theory to your predicament.

b) Ask Gordon to help you make a fishing rod and then go fishing together.

c) Make your own rod, go fishing and then share the fish with Gordon

d) Rely on Gordon to build a rod, catch some fish and expect him to share the fish with you.

e) Ignore Gordon, go to the other side of the island and fend for yourself?

I will take the Desert Island Disk approach:

a) Take Tom Bower’s biography on Mr Brown although that might not make me sleep any easier.

b) Take a copy of Elton John’s “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” and play it to Gordon on a daily basis.

c) Take the collected recordings of Margaret Thatcher’s speeches so he can be reminded how a PM should sound.