Alan Duncan gets it wrong on Question Time

Tonight on Question Time Alan Duncan has repeatedly denied that the Conservatives were in favour of removing regulation from the mortgage market.

So now might be a good time to remember the policy proposals John Redwood penned for the Conservative Party last year:

We see no need to continue to regulate the provision of mortgage finance.

Even at the time, the idea that the problem with our financial systems was too much regulation of the mortgage market seemed a little, er…, at odds with reality, but given what’s happened since, this wasn’t exactly the best policy call, was it? And perhaps Alan Duncan will be a bit more accurate on TV 🙂

UPDATE: Although Alan Duncan claimed to have no idea where the idea of Tories wanting to abolish mortgage regulation came from, the proposals were reported in the media at the time, as in this Times piece: “Tories call for end to mortgage regulation”.

UPDATE 2: Alan Duncan’s exact words when the above quote was read out were, “I’ve no idea what she [Harriet Harman] was referring to”. Nice to know that he’s been following his own party’s policy process so closely 🙂

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  • Tired Liberal 19th Sep '08 - 8:41am

    Some years ago the Lib Dems debated at their conference a motion to allow 16 year olds to engage in pornography but that did not mean it was party policy.

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 8:59am


    Shouldn’t you be a little more accurate in print. It may well have been a policy recommendation from a policy development group, but that does not make it party policy. If you have been following the process at all, you would realise that different policy groups are sometimes recommending diametrically opposite policies. This should not be surprising given that one problem may appear to have different solutions when you come at it from several different angles. The ongoing process now is to work through the various reports to put together an overall, coherent set of policies.

    So it looks as though this one did not get through the filter, in which case Duncan was completely correct.

    And you are just stirring. Remind me to chuckle a bit louder next time a protest about Lib Dems not campaigning negatively pops up here.

  • Grammar Police 19th Sep '08 - 9:04am

    PT, it’s so difficult to tell what Tory party policy is these days, one might be excused for thinking that the policy commissions dictated policy.

    What is the process?

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 12:14pm


    Well, I make the effort to try to understand how Lib Dem policy is formulated. The Tory system really isn’t that difficult to understand. In round one policy groups get together and come up with recommendations from a given perspective. In round two these are compiled into policy. Round one is complete and round two is currently in progress.

    So for instance an economic task force may say “we need lots of roads” and an environment task force may suggest the opposite. This merely reflects that different sectors of society have different priorities. Which shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

  • Alix Mortimer 19th Sep '08 - 1:25pm


    Wow. So it really is true that there’s no democracy involved whatever? Or are some members of the task forces elected in some way?

    How, out of genuine interest, do intelligent Tories like you reconcile yourself to this? And to the lack of proper debate at your conference?

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 2:27pm


    In the same way that you yourself don’t have a vote in the House of Commons and yet the country is still generally considered to be a democracy.

    Without going into the grizzly details, the grassroots do input into policy through association-based CPFs (or individuals can chirp in if they want, e.g if the local association isn’t very active).

    I realise that representative democracy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, although it also has some rather nice properties (which IMHO outweigh the problems).

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 2:37pm


    I don’t understand the problem you seem to have with a leader asking a range of people for their views. Of course, when you do this, you shouldn’t expect to agree with all of it.

    Indeed, if you had been watching the policy task forces carefully, you would realise that they were set up in such a way that they were never going to agree with each other. I consider this a strength. I would far prefer that Cameron asks Redwood and others to explain their position in detail than to ignore positions offhand.

    Yes, for people only capable of holding one position at a time it might be difficult to comprehend. I have to say, for anyone used to approaching problems from many different angles at once it all seems pretty obvious.

  • Ah yes, representative democracy, that old chestnut.

    For us LibDems it is participation in the process which legitimises the representatives, the Conservatives, howver, engage in a sort of pugilistic battle to gain influence with the ability to supress other viewpoints the measure of their validity.

    For the Conservative party only believes in ‘representative democracy’ in name only (and only because they need the votes).

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 5:45pm


    Mmm. Yes, I worded that a bit badly. I was going to describe it in terms of eigen states for wave functions in policy space, which is really a far better description but somewhat hard to get across in layman terms. But you can probably see where I am going; you can consider multiple realities all at once and then resolve them down to a single state (your policy position).

    You don’t have to be two-faced, just have an open mind. As we seem to be in political point scoring/ puerile insult mode, I’ll point out that this is precisely what you seem to be lacking.

    In terms of disowning advice you have asked for, does that mean that you invariably accept any advice that you have asked for? I find that _very_ hard to believe.

    As for your point about representative democracy, I think you are confusing the meanings of “represent”. Look it up. Indeed, one of the issues against many forms of PR, which is “representative” in one sense of the word, is that they break down “representative” (in the other sense of the word) democracy.

  • PT, if you took your argument to it’s logical conclusion you’d realise you are in the wrong party.

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 6:08pm


    Given the general ignorance shown elsewher eon this thread about how the Tory party operates, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you come up with statements like

    “LibDems it is participation in the process which legitimises the representatives”

    whereas, in you opinion

    ” the Conservatives, howver, engage in a sort of pugilistic battle to gain influence with the ability to supress other viewpoints the measure of their validity.”

    Remember that the Conservative party still has four or so times the membership of the Lib Dems, and believe me they are not short of opinions 🙂

    Of course, as a party that is frequently in government, the Conservatives have to have effective mechanisms to form all these opinions into a single set of policy, something which the Lib Dems don’t have to do. So yes, I guess in that respect the Conservative party might come over as authoritarian although if (heaven forbid) the Lib Dems were ever to form a government it would not be long before your party had to develop similar mechanisms.

    But it would be then extreme lazy to extrapolate to saying that individual Tories aim to surpress other viewpoints. From my standpoint that seems like far more of a Lib Dem trait 🙂

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 6:12pm

    Glad I earn troll status today. Do I get a prize?

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 6:12pm


    Which argument? There are just so many of them today ….

  • PT, so you mean that there are serious divisions within the Conservative party over whether to support Cameron’s favoured policies – will we see these splits emerge during your conference?

  • passing tory 19th Sep '08 - 6:34pm


    All politics involves compromise. Why, the Lib Dems had a debate last week over “Make it Happen”. Does that mean there is a split in your party? Is Evan Harris a splitter? Of course not. So why do you think it should be any different for the Conservatives?

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