Coffee House

Conservative conference: Liam Fox on what voters want

9 October 2012

As Liam Fox addressed a packed Carlton Club fringe this evening on a mezzanine floor in the ICC in Birmingham, a round of loud singing broke out on the floor below. The Prime Minister had appeared at another reception, and guests were cheerily singing ‘happy birthday’ to him. As the PM celebrated his birthday, his former defence secretary was dispensing advice just a few metres above his head on what the Conservative promise on Europe should be in 2015.

‘What I want is to see us keeping faith with the British people and I want to see us having a slogan at the next election which says ‘Back to a Common Market’, back to an economic and trading relationship with Europe that parks all the political interference in the running of our economy, our workplace, our legal system and all the other things that we don’t like.’

Fox’s delivery was impressive and authoritative, statesman-like. He is clearly keen to forge a role for himself as a serious senior party figure shaping the debate from the backbenches while possessing a strong knowledge of the front bench. But what really struck me was how he managed to respectfully deflect two very passionate questions from anti-gay marriage campaigners who were very keen for him to promise that he would do everything he could to prevent the Prime Minister praising equal marriage in his speech tomorrow. Fox’s response was that he doesn’t actually hold a view on the issue either way, but that he feels that too often political debate is shaped by what those in power want to talk about rather than what voters actually want to discuss. He also asked for a more respectful tone of debate on the issue from both sides. But it’s interesting that he’s drawing a distinction between the actual principle of the policy and the reason it has been brought up

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  • roy may

    Come on then all you Cameron lovers, how about an honest answer.
    It is TRUE that no terms agreed with the EU can ba altered without the full agreement of ALL the other 26 members.
    Now Cameron is promising to “Claim back powers” after the next election. If he can (which of course he cannot) claim back powers, why has he not done so already? We gave away around 60 powers with the Lisbon Treaty and so far Cameron has made no effort to reclaim a singe one.
    So come on all you Cameron supporters no more bulls**t WHY has he not claimed these 60 powers back?
    All this is yet another Cameron smoke screen to try to encourage folks not to join UKIP who he knows will cost the Tories the next election
    Its an in/out referendum before the next election with no strings or its goodby Tories.
    I know it, all the Tory party know it, and everyone in the country knows it so think on
    In the mean time JOIN UKIP

    • Matthew Whitehouse

      You seem to think that Britain isnt important enough for others to listen to. You’re wrong – be part of it! Be part of the ONE and ONLY Country that will (eventually) show the rest of Europe what they (and we) should have done years ago AND LEAVE. If you vote UKIP, you vote for a man that shouts at you (doesnt sound that bad) but doesn’t use strategy, intelligence and dipomacy. If UK leaves the EU, the rest of them will have to pay our share which is billions, they dont want that to happen. They will turn back into Socialists! They dont want low tax low spend free market capitalism – they want the opposite. The EU is about centralising power AND THEN letting countries LEAVE. BUT when they leave they will still be subject to EU law which is written by unelected commissioners and irreversible (see 2014 opt outs). The Tories are (best of a bad bunch) The only truly BRITISH party – the ONLY party EVER to say NO to EU when under pressure. Imagine what those meetings were like when T. Blair was there – he was a yes man, just saying Yes to Merkel / Sarkozy !

      • james102

        No the UK differs from
        others in that it runs a massive trade deficit with the rest of the EU
        and more importantly France and Germany ,which are the only countries that
        really matter.

        There is no way they would endanger trade with the UK so
        comparisons with Norway and Switzerland ,which both have trade surpluses with
        the EU, is irrelevant and normally meant to deliberately misinform.

        If they want to sell to us they will make it as easy as
        possible for us to sell to them.

  • In2minds

    What voters want, does he know, has he asked?

  • Daniel Maris

    The voters don’t want politicians who abuse their ministerial positions. They want people they can trust.

    • telemachus

      As I write this I am listening to a report on the world service of corruption in Brazil

  • David Lindsay

    The man who ran a parallel foreign policy out of his office as Defence Secretary and through his fake charity, since deregistered.

    He ran it in the interests of the American neoconservatives, who are not even in government in their own country, and in the interests of the racist Israeli Far Right and the Sinhalese genocidists of Sri Lanka, who most unfortunately are in government in their respective countries.

    He even appointed an American intelligence operative, without so much as the fig leaf of a British passport, as one of his Special Advisers, meaning that the MoD contained someone with the direct ear of the Secretary of State but who had been refused security clearance.

    Why has Liam Fox not been expelled from Parliament and prosecuted? Why is he still in receipt of the Conservative Whip? These are not rhetorical questions.

    • Momtreal 4854

      Good posting , Fox should not be near government and can stiil be prosecuted

      • David Lindsay

        Bring it on.

  • Austin Barry


    Do we hate them as much as they hate us? Or do we both just ignore each other?

    • Daniel Maris

      We should make politicians less important, as in Switzerland. Daniel Hannan, to be fair, is one Conservative who seems to understand the importance of putting power in the hands of the people.

      • telemachus

        Pity Hannan is so unreasonable

        • james102

          Douglas Carswell has some good ideas.

          Maybe a guest blog from him on Coffee House would start an interesting

  • 2trueblue

    ‘too often political debate is shaped by what those in power want to talk about rather than what voters actually want to discuss..’ Too true. We, the electorate are irrelevant to our politicians who think that once they get to Westminster it is all about them. Unless they take that on board we will end up with another hung parliament.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Cameron, Clegg (and in due course, Miliband) are taking no notice of the British people over the issue of gay marriage because it isn’t a UK policy. It is a UN / EU one.
      When LibLabCON all promote exactly the same policy – and the same policy is being advanced in other European countries – it isn’t a British one. Cameron is following Orders.

      • james102

        Yes it is always amusing to watch them jump through hoops
        and take the blame.

      • an ex-tory voter

        Exactly correct, The failure of these politicians to tell the people they supposedly represent that a particular policy they are putting forward and implementing actually emanates from Brussels (or the UN) is the root cause of the collapse in democracy here in the UK.
        These pseudo democrats are fully aware that to be honest would probably lead to their removal from office. So, in order to implement the policy they lie, or at the very least, are economical with the truth.
        This anti-democratic deception will eventually result in civil unrest because nothing implemented in this way has a shred of democratic legitimacy. There is therefore no reason why the populace should pay it any heed. All of it is open to challenge and it will be challenged.

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