Tuesday, April 23, 2013

(Interview) Carnage Report Interviews: Paul Owen

Carnage Report editor Alex Clarke recently caught up with Paul Owen, blogger,  broadcaster and prolific writer of his provocative self titled blog sounding off on issues in Britain  from  an original, no holds barred perspective. So sit back and take peek into the rhyme and reason of one of the better political bloggers around. 

Check out Paul  Owen here and connect with Paul on twitter @mrpaulowen. 

What inspires you to write?

There’s a complex question. I have always loved words and reading and writing. That is a given for anyone who writes. What inspires me to write is different though. I write because I have things I want to say that I feel others are not saying, or at least not saying well or often enough. So I write about the things that make me laugh, make me cry, make me angry, make me passionate. Those things tend to be politics, religion, economics, television, radio. Well, take a look at my blog, at the range there. Sometimes you can feel my fury. Sometimes you feel my passion. Hopefully anyway.

Why did you choose to write about politics?

I write about politics because it interests, fascinates, and frequently infuriates me. This government does that. By and large I support much of what they are doing, or at least trying to do. But is their pusillanimous approach to things, their modern PR driven wishy washyness that frustrates. I think that is why so many felt the need to write in praise of Margaret Thatcher. She was never any of those things. She always said what she thought. Wouldn’t that be nice.

 How do you think the conservative led coalition government is doing?

Well, as I mentioned above, in general I agree with much of the agenda they are pursuing. But their deficit reduction is nothing of the sort. I don’t understand why they talked tough on austerity, took the brickbats for it, without actually pursuing it. Look at the figures and there have hardly been any cuts, made worse by the ring fences. This is a government with the right instincts but without the guts to go the whole hog. It’s very frustrating. And then of course there is the Lib Dems. But that would take all day.

 In the latest Yougov poll, Labour currently leads the conservatives by 10 points, what do you think the conservative party has to do to cut down Labour’s lead?

I think that process has already started. Labour’s poll lead is very fragile, and they know it. Tories need to do what I have been trying to do. They need to point out the policy vacuum, or the lacuna as James Landale so elegantly put it. Despite our economic difficulties Labour are still not trusted on the economy, and are even, it is reported, toying with the idea of promising to spend more after 2015. They are drifting to the left, entertaining the fantasy that the electorate are with them. They are wrong. It is up to Tories to keep hectoring them on their deficiencies on spending, welfare, debt and economics. They are very vulnerable.

Throughout the Welfare debate, Labour dithered in producing an effective counter argument, why do you think that is?

Because they don’t have one. Labour created the problem we currently face with their hand outs and immigration policy. Their line is that we reduced the welfare bill by reducing unemployment. But they increased it during their years of plenty. They doubled it. We simply cannot afford such largesse, we are subsidising employers and private landlords with borrowed public money. Labour cannot answer that because they are still stuck in a redistributive mindset that has done and is doing enormous damage to our economy.

 With the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, there is definitely going to be a heated debate about her legacy, what is your position on her legacy or achievements?

My position is that we should thank god or whatever deity you believe in that she came along at the right time. This country was in terminal decline in 1979, she reversed that. The welfare debate of her day was the subsidy of the various nationalised industries, of the miners and so on. She took that on and reformed industry. It was a very necessary reform. We couldn’t go on propping up old inefficient industries. They had to be made to sink or swim. She forced people to confront reality. We need the same dose of common sense in welfare today.

Much of the press has railed against George Osborne’s implied link between the welfare system and the tragic events of the Mick Philpott case, what do you think about his statement?

He was just saying what many people think, and indeed can see with their own eyes. If you offer people perverse incentives you will get perverse results. Philpott was a monster and an extreme. But there are plenty of people who have never worked who live very well off benefits. Look at the 850,000 people who suddenly stopped claiming incapacity benefit when challenged. They may not have been monsters but they were still claiming what they shouldn’t have been. Our entitlement culture is out of control.

Do you agree with the prime minster when he said, in light of recent developments in the Korean Peninsula, that trident proves must be replaced “on a like for like basis”?

No I don’t. It was a silly thing to say. North Korea is trying its standard blackmail form of diplomacy. They have a siege mentality. So we should let them besiege themselves until they are forced to the table with a reasonable attitude. They must never again be allowed to offer concessions in return for aid only to renege a year or two later and start the process again. I think we need to remain a nuclear power, but not because of North Korea. We need it for the reason we have always needed them. You cannot uninvent nuclear weapons sadly. We need them because madmen will always want them. But we should examine if there is a better or cheaper option than Trident. If there isn’t we will have to stump up.

What I don’t like about modern politics is that it and its main practitioners lack vision or any real ideas to solve problems that seem to endure no matter who’s in power. What do you dislike about modern politics or the political class?

I dislike the very existence of a political class, people like Cameron, Miliband et al who have never had proper jobs outside politics. How can they claim to be able to lead, to legislate for the rest of us when they have no outside experience to speak of. They go from university, to policy wonk jobs, to MP. That’s wrong.

If you were prime minster, what changes would you make to change Britain for the better?

The first thing I would do is radically cut the size of Whitehall, starting with the number of Cabinet ministers. Some departments could be abolished and nobody would notice the difference. There would be a proper purge of quangos. I would start a scheme to give jobs to anyone unemployed for longer than 12 months on jobs on the minimum wages, jobs they would not be entitled to turn down. I would offer an immediate referendum on our membership of the EU with the recommendation that we get out. I would legislate to turn the NHS into an insurance scheme  with hospitals and other providers competing for our insurance money rather than the present unwieldy centrally driven Kafkaesque nightmare. That would do for the first 100 days!

I know there are many of them but are there any blogs you would recommend to read?

Dan Hodges in The Telegraph is a must read. His analysis is usually spot on. I always enjoy Rod Liddle’s provocative thoughts, along with James Delingpole. And Watts Up With That has been superb at exposing the lies and hypocrisies of the global warming industry.

What do you think of the recent decision to make the Bank Of England one of the strongest central banks in the world?

It’s a welcome reversal of the mess created by Brown and Balls. But it does depend on who is in charge. Time will tell.

 Do you have any political heroes?

Margaret Thatcher, Churchill, Keith Joseph, Gladstone.

 Much has been made about class in recent weeks in light of the welfare debate; do you think class is still important in modern Britain?

No. The only class problem we have is with the aforementioned political class. I don’t think Britain’s problems are a class problem, they are born of politicians who don’t understand the people they govern, and the problems the last 50 years of ‘progressive’ policies has created. Our education system is letting people down, and our welfare  system is trapping in poverty those who cannot or will not work their way out. We need another Thatcher type figure to address these problems, someone who comes from and understands our working class

Final Question,  How do you see Britain’s future?

I am an optimist. I think this government is doing many of the right things. The worry is that they will be only half done before they lose an election. But Labour are retreating into their comfort zone which should give us hope. Even if they were to win in 2015 the chances are that they would make as big or bigger mess as they did last time. Then would be the opportunity to really change Britain before it is too late. But as a patriot, I would rather they never get the opportunity. We don’t want to go down the same road that France is currently on.

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