Beating the Backstop: How to make a hard Border in Ireland and with any of our EU Neighbours irrelevant when Brexit is delivered

August 1, 2019 Leave a comment

Beating the Backstop

A few days ago, I visited Gloucester Quays with my son. Not noticing the technology surrounding us as we drove into the multi-storey car park that sits above the shops, the speed of our exit – with the barrier lifting before we even had the chance to stop – reminded me of just how simple the solutions to the Irish Backstop issue should really now be.

Like Brexit itself, the Backstop is a complicated issue that should actually be very simple to resolve.

The problem is that there are so many different viewpoints in the mix that look upon the practicalities of a technical solution to the hard border problem from only their own perspective.

Whether they are a politician, a computer coder or a haulier – they are not open to the reality that there isn’t just one solution that they themselves will recognise or understand as immediately workable for the Border.

They do not appreciate that the whole issue is about weaving together a series of very different solutions in order to get the whole job done.

Regrettably, many of the decision makers – many of them in Government right now – do themselves share this particular view and understanding.

Whether this tunnel vision is borne of simple ignorance, lack of beyond-their-own-sector-understanding, or just the fact that they haven’t got the wherewithal or real-world savviness to recognise how different this opportunity for progress really is, they treat the whole thing like it is just another government project.

This is not the way that the battle for an Open Border Solution is going to be won – no matter what the final terms of Brexit will be.

It has been said that the wheels of government move incredibly slow. But in a time of national crisis, time is not something that is within a government’s gift.

Urgency must open up to agility. The government must not only set the new agenda, it must also keep the momentum of it going too.

In terms of tangible delivery, this means that delivering a practical and real-life solution like the Backstop cannot be left to rely on standing procedures, processes and the mentality in government that ‘this is the way that things have always been done’ – particularly when many of the processes that could hinder or delay the timely delivery of a working Open Border Solution have been created by the EU – the very entity that solving this problem will allow the UK to Leave.

There are a range of specialists from very different technical and service industries who can bring significant knowledge, expertise and yes – the very services and products that all Borders will need to keep everything flowing like it does now and then make the new UK-EU working relationship better than it has already been.

Yet the development and the implementation of the border solution cannot and must not be allowed to be allocated to any one government department to control or lead, other than DEXEU.

Otherwise, the right solution will not be found for everyone. Because whatever comes from the process will only be framed in terms of the wants and needs of the ideas and motives of the people at the top of those particular organisational trees, rather than being fully inclusive and considerate of everyone involved.

Equally, the Government cannot rely on the monolithic public sector contractors to offer up the right solution.

They are too big. Too self-focused. Too profit orientated. And above all, they are simply not agile enough to deliver the right solution on the right timeline to ensure that the Backstop job is properly done.

This is how the solution to returning to a hard Border in Ireland and keeping goods moving across all our EU Borders can be found:

Open Border ServiceThe Open Border Solution (abridged)

  • There will be no hard Border.
  • There will be no physical barriers or stops at the Border.
  • Vehicle movements will be monitored using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) using cameras located at all Border road entry points.
  • Using existing vehicle Number Plate Recognition Software of the kind that we experience in most of the car parks that we now drive into, Hauliers and Companies that Export to and Import from the EU will be able to join a Trusted Trader & Transit Scheme – which we will call the Open Border Service.
  • As Members they will be able to access their own portal to a database/e-commerce/transaction system – that we will call the Open Border System.
  • Within the Open Border System, Members will be able to store the identity data – including registrations – of their Vehicles and Trailers.
  • Vehicles and Trailers entered on the Open Border System will have to correspond with the DVLA Database and Databases of any Vehicle Licensing Body in the EU or beyond that manages Vehicles and Trailers that will transit into or via the UK.
  • When Members have a load of goods to carry into or via a UK/EU Border (EU-UK, UK-EU or EU-EU), they will be able to register or notify the Open Border System of the manifests of their load, identifying correlation with the Taxation Groups provided by HMRC.
  • To secure the registered load for monitoring during transit, Members will be able to purchase ratchet-tie-tags that will affix to the rear doors of Vehicles and Trailers that carry a bar code, chip or data strip that can be read by any Government Officer, at pinch points such as the Ports, on Cross Channel Ferries, at the Channel Tunnel and by any other authorized representative equipped with mobile scanning equipment.
  • Tags will be available in different colours to immediately identify the nature of the journey from a distance (such as a following police car) and tags removed for inspection will be replaced with a unique colour that shows the vehicle has been stopped, with the data being updated in live time, so that the code of the new tag will correspond with the same load once the journey is complete or is being inspected again.
  • Scanning equipment or apps will automatically communicate with the central database and confirm the legitimacy of the load.
  • Taxes owed will be payable on terms and at rates to be confirmed by HMRC following negotiation with trading partner Countries.
  • Countries that do not sign up to the scheme will not be authorized to transit and any vehicle without a valid tag will be stopped and impounded.
  • Payment will be taken by Members at point of Registration via the Open Border System via Merchant Services integrated into the system, or via Invoice to Companies authorized by HMRC to pay by Invoice later.

Getting the Open Border Solution done…

So here is what the Government should do if it really wants to get a speedy and workable Backstop solution in place:

  • Forget what the EU wants
  • Forget all the political arguments
  • Put the right people in charge & remove all the barriers to progress
  • Hold a conference with all the companies who might be interested and would be able to provide one or more of the technical elements of the Backstop Solution, or would be prepared to work collaboratively with others to get the job done.
  • Set out the terms of a Tender for Development
  • Allow suppliers to qualify themselves
  • Commission no less than 3 separate solutions to be developed by a foxed date
  • Select the Solution
  • Implement
  • Brexit
  • Develop the service further allowing any inter-departmental integration to take place that was not possible before

1. Forget what the EU wants

The most simple thing the government needs to do in identifying, delivering and then implementing an open-border solution between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, is get on with it and do it without letting the EU or any of their Representatives becoming involved.

The EU is on a mission to stop Brexit at any cost, as it is aware and very fearful that anything that can be interpreted as a successful departure from the EU – and that includes the development of a post-departure working relationship that works – will encourage other Member Countries (what they call States) to Leave.

On past form alone, it appears very likely that the EU would deliberately and willingly expose itself and therefore the Irish Republic too, to difficulties over Brexit, just to ensure that they can present a picture of chaos and problems that could only be avoided by Remaining – to all other Parties involved.

2.Forget all the Political arguments

Left, Right, Leave or Remain; Conservative, Brexit Party, DUP, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or whoever else they might be, the time for allowing anyone with any vested interests to reframe the Brexit and therefore the Backstop debate has already been and gone.

This is now about the doing. About delivering. About returning the UK to its sovereign, independent, self-governing status once more.

Nobody can add any value to the backstop by turning it into a political debate.

Nobody in the UK wants a hard border in Ireland. It’s time to get practical and get the job done.

3.Put the right people in charge and remove all the barriers to progress

Sounds simple I know. But it can be and it needs to be. Brexit simply will not happen meaningfully if those with responsibility for delivering it continue to try using tried and tested formulas and methods of working to get a completely new and significant task done.

It is unlikely that even the most senior civil servants have the wherewithal to get the Backstop Project working as it should. Equally, the Politicians appear to be no better and the solution is not to appoint expensive consultants or even worse, get friends and people within networks on board, just because you think they would be good at it or have a CV or work history that suggests they might be able to get something done.

The Project needs to be led by people who understand, have working experience or fluency of all the kinds of services and technologies that will be involved – or most importantly, have the skills and attributes necessary to step outside of what they do know whilst being credible to everyone they are dealing with, so that a culture of trust can be the first thing that is created.

To support them, all of the rules and regulations on buying or commissioning government services simply must be upheld. Lets face it, this is all about Leaving the EU, so none of the rules that just about every part of government has already become used to will be required because its all about Leaving!

4.Hold a conference with all the companies who might be interested and would be able to provide one or more of the technical elements of the Backstop Solution, or would be prepared to work collaboratively with others to get the job done.

Although this one sits at No.4 in the list, it’s actually as important as 1, 2 and 3 and they should all be happening simultaneously.

There’s a very big opportunity for the companies and providers that get involved with delivering the Backstop Solution.

One of the keys to managing the benefit of their input is not to allow them to take over and dictate the process.

Believe me when I say that it is the companies who are willing to play by the rules of the process who will actually deliver on time, on target and in a way that opens the right doorways to future working.

There should be a conference called within a couple of weeks with an open invite to all companies that can provide the services and technologies involved and can qualify themselves appropriately and immediately. They must also be prepared to sign up to an NDA that has financial penalties involved if they should leak information.

Within that there should be care to ensure that those who speak and input are bringing genuine, experiential thought and views, rather than opinion which has now too often become the case. It is easy to overlook the reality that people we culturally recognise as business leaders are often no such thing. They are managers without comprehensive understanding of their own businesses at a practical level. It is equally vital to value academic input in the same way.

Worst of any of the organisations that it would seem natural to involve those who sell themselves as being representative of an industry because they suggest that they are representing members.

Yes, many organisations and businesses join member networks and when it comes to bodies such as the FSB, small businesses gain access to many things which bring immediate value to what they do. Yet when it comes to lobbying or influencing decision makers upon policy that will affect whatever it is that their industry does, it is rare once again to find people in charge with the in-depth knowledge of the industry their represent from the bottom up and more often the case that the words they speak come from their own view of the world, rather than being anything even remotely akin to what it is that the businesses at the cutting edge of that industry does.

It is necessary to labour this point, because it is essential that good, productive representation from all the industries that have a stake in the success of the Irish Border Solution are involved in this process and given the opportunity to contribute and collaborate positively and proactively to ensure that from their own vantage point, they have genuine but nonetheless joint ownership of whatever it actually does.

Some will argue that such a meeting cannot be convened in such short a time as a couple of weeks and particularly so during the summer. Yet the opposite is true, because if Brexit is as important to these organisations and they either want influence or the opportunity to gain further business, being there, being agile and being ready to make it work under pressure is just something that they will be ready and equipped to do.

Set out the Terms of a Tender for Development

Sounds like that will take time – I hear you think. But it won’t.

The Border Solution requires a wholly different approach. One that encourages every business and organisation involved to step beyond their comfort zone and to see the Brexit opportunity for exactly what it is.

Leaving the EU cannot be held up by regulations that are only relevant if we are members.

So the solution will come by conducting a three stage process:

  • Tender for development
  • Date-critical development
  • Implementation, servicing and further development

5.1. Tender for development

The most critical and quickest part of the process is qualifying and selection the provider(s) who will develop Border Solution Options.

Options, because to ensure that the UK is ready to Leave the EU and keep the Border fully open at the same time, it is critical that this responsibility is left at the whim of a single private contractor or collaboration thereof, that can create delays and raise prices just to ensure that greater levels of additional profit will automatically be involved.

What needs to be recognised across the board is that the Border Solution already exists. The solution itself is therefore not one that needs to be invented. The solution itself is just a question of identifying the right elements or pieces of the jigsaw that will fit together to make that solution, and to then manage the contributions of all the different parties that will inevitably become involved.

The Suppliers will include:

  • Number Recognition Cameras & Software
  • Access & Integration with the DVLA Database and Databases of all International Vehicle Licensing Bodies likely to have vehicles transiting to or via the UK from the EU
  • Database Software (The Core of the Open Border System)
  • Merchant Services Solutions
  • Scanning Hardware & Software
  • App Development
  • Vehicle Tags
  • Access & Integration with the HMRC Database
  • Others that will inevitably become apparent

The Organisations will include:

  • HMRC
  • DVLA
  • Representatives of the Haulage Industry
  • Representatives from Businesses conducting UK-EU exports and imports
  • Representatives of the Farming Industry
  • Others that will inevitably become apparent

All of these organisations should be present, but a framework agreed and presented for what the Border Solution will look like, the functionality required and above all, what it should actually do. The adversary organisations will be present just to answer questions on practicalities such as what the volume or weight and the number of crates would be on a standard Euro-Pallet on a vehicle trailer and how many Euro-Pallets that vehicle might hold. They will not be there to influence anything other than the accuracy of the data input for the tender process.

Contrary to what the fearful tell us, a Border Solution is not rocket science or anything like it. A Border solution already exists. The Border Solution is simply about joining up the dots. The dot joiners and the creators of those dots are only there to execute the task.

5.1.1. Number Recognition Cameras & Software

The key to removing the need for a physical or hard border, border checks and the presence of a full time contingent of the UK Border Force is simply to monitor all the traffic that crosses the Irish Border – no matter how many times, and whatever the direction.

ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology has been in use by the Police for many years and helps them to identify vehicles and drivers, along with any red flags that might be associated with those vehicles in live time, so that they can literally or rather automatically pull over vehicles in live time, as and when they see them.

Today ANPR technology is everywhere and nowhere less prominent than in car parks, where Companies such as NCP or the private overseers of car parks in places like out-of-town retail parks have cameras set up which record your number plate when you arrive and then when you leave. There is no need for attendants and limited requirement for staffing on site as administration can all be done remotely, often the other side of the Country – making the whole exercise very profitable.

The software in use commercially already links to the DVLA Database, and if you have any qualms about the speed that a camera can recognise a number plate or vehicle, why not try entering your car on the We Buy Any Car site to get a value and see how quick it comes. A current advertising campaign on Radio featuring Phillip Schofield as good as promises that the whole exercise takes less than a minute. A time that at its worst should reassure about how quickly a well-thought out and designed software system could manage seamless border crossings along the Irish Border.

I refer back to my own experience recently that I began with above and the reality that the system at Gloucester Quays was so good, it didn’t even need to read my paid-up ticket as the system identified the number plate with the ticket that had been paid a few minutes before as soon as it saw the plate.

Fundamentally this is off-the-shelf technology, which is only going to get better. Its use will be an essential part of the Border Solution and it’s the link with the Open Border Service that is the real task.

5.1.2. Access & Integration with the DVLA Database and Databases of all International Vehicle Licensing Bodies likely to have vehicles transiting to or via the UK from the EU

Essential to creating a fully collaborative UK/EU/International System is access to the Registration Data for all of the vehicles (tractors & powered chassis) that will be crossing UK/EU Borders – irrespective of the exact location.

All of the Countries and EU Member States will have these and the UK already has access to this information for the purposes of policing and enforcement of international traffic on the UK Roads.

Yes, it is possible that the EU will attempt to restrict access to this data in order to frustrate the development of what will otherwise be a very simple system. To restrict such data sharing post-Brexit would be bloody mindedness on the part of of the EU.

The way to address any potential problem with Vehicle Database access is to simply bar entry to UK roads for any Vehicle and the Owner that cannot be identified. Bearing in mind that the Open Border Solution is all as much about the EU and its Members and probably more so than UK Hauliers and Companies that Export, it is in their interests to cooperate fully. Especially as this whole system can and arguably should be mirrored, and potentially managed by a joint UK/EU Organisation.

5.1.3. Database Software (The core of the Open Border System)

Whilst IT specialists or ‘experts’ will happily and passionately tell you otherwise (I have already seen a Tweet on my own feed which says there’s no way a solution can be coded), the reality of the Open Border Solution is that it is nothing more than a database solution, integrated with scanning and e-commerce technology which has multiple administration points in addition to customer portals.

The companies that you want working on this project are not those that immediately tell you that this will take years; can’t be done; would have to be designed from scratch or that it is simply too complicated to be done.

It isn’t any of those things. And any company or so-called expert that suggests otherwise will not be one that you want at this conference when facing a piece of significant work which can only be delivered by people who have the mentality to do what is necessary to deliver on time.

Primarily, this is not a project and will not be a contract for one of the large Public Sector Contractors that will always place its own priorities first and is used to working with Officers and Civil Servants who will believe anything that they say.

No. This is not about precluding existing Contractors. But it is about making clear that this Brexit is an opportunity for all and not just those in a position to exploit it.

The companies that offer database development will already be able to demonstrate off-the-shelf or open-source-type technology that can work with the type of systems that the Government already uses.

Just bear in mind that there are already a series of commercially available accountancy packages that already integrate with HMRC – and it is on the basis of working with, adapting and integrating systems that are already known, that the Border Solution can be quickly and efficiently achieved – not by pretending that there must be a reinvention of the wheel in order to get all this done.

This process must be open to companies of all sizes, start-ups included. As it is only through experiencing the reality of the offering that is out there that would not necessarily qualify under EU Tender Rules, that it will become clear that there are much more effective ways to get jobs for the public sector legitimately done.

The key to getting the required result is presenting the companies with a detailed process map for the system. Coders are rarely unable to come up with all manner of effective ways to get software to work and complete a task as long as it is clear what you want it to do. This isn’t a task that you can expect a coder to complete cold.

5.1.4. Merchant Services Solutions

One of the simplest aspects of the software side of the solution. Many companies are already leading the way with multiple-medium payment entry. Some of them will be amongst the list of those interested in providing the database solution immediately above.

Either way, payment portals, whether online, by app or otherwise will be comparatively simple to introduce as the technology is already very successfully in use.

5.1.5. Scanning Hardware & Software

Effective enforcement of an Open Border Solution will be the key element to ensuring that a hard or physical border is not required again – irrespective of whatever the trade or tariff arrangement between the UK and the EU becomes.

Scanning software is now developed enough that it can work as an app on a Smartphone. Likewise, there is a complete range of specialist hand-held, mounted, 3G, Wi-Fi, networked and other scanning devices. And making them available at key pinch points such as at ports, on ferries, motorway services and for the Police and any Government Officer carrying out enforcement work will be essential.

Representatives of companies providing hardware and software solutions for the scanning requirement should all be invited, subject to appropriate qualification.

5.1.6. App Development

Many of the big Hauliers that transit the EU Border have specialist employees who will take care of the administration of loads and correct data entry. Some may even have direct portals involved.

However, many others will be smaller or even self-employed owner drivers. And where it is the case that the Company they are carrying for has not made direct submission of their own, it is essential that a low-cost, effective version of the portal be available as an app, simple enough that with the corresponding data that exporting or importing customers will be required to provide, a driver or small business operator can load the data themselves before mounting the corresponding tag on the vehicle or trailer.

Again, this is not an original task and integrating it with its own scanning function – as exists with many apps such as the National Lottery App – means that the process can be made very simple and as such, a very efficient task to get done.

5.1.7. Vehicle Tags

Yes, this sounds too good to be true. But companies such as the big supermarkets have been monitoring their loads and keeping them secure against theft and driver infidelity for decades.

The basic solution is a tie-ratchet-tag that fits to the back doors of rigid body vehicles and trailers and to a secure cable that runs through the length of the whole body on either side of a curtain side vehicle or trailer.

These would carry a barcode and/or chip that would provide a unique journey number that corresponds with the load that has been registered for transit on the system.

Any vehicle crossing the Border or transiting a recognised pinch point such as a port or registered ferry, would by law be required to have a tag fitted, protecting the exact load that has been notified to the Open Border Service.

Different Colour Tags would be used to identify types of journey. For example UK-UK = Blue, EU-EU = Red, UK-EU = Green, EU-UK = Orange, Load Checked and Passed = Silver etc.

There are a number of manufacturers of these tags and their input would be required simply to ensure the simplicity, durability and integration of the tags with the Open Border System.

The Tags themselves would only be available to Companies registered with the Service and either sold centrally or through registered sale points with the reseller themselves registered by the Scheme.

5.1.8. Access & Integration with the HMRC Database

As outlined above, there already exist a number of accountancy packages that interact with HMRC already such as Sage, QuickBooks and Xero.

HMRC have already had to undertake considerable work on integration with other systems to do this and this work would inform the development of the Open Border System – if only for an immediate way to ensure that the correct Taxation Codes are available, if a fully integrated system is not available in the first instance.

HMRC must be involved at the outset to ensure that the system is conversant with their taxation rules. However, like all suppliers, participants and stakeholders, they cannot be allowed to dictate anything other than the Taxation Rules – e.g. they must not be allowed to dictate the operational platform itself – so long as it is clear that the Open Border System will administer the taxation of transferring goods to their rules.

5.1.9. Others that will inevitably become apparent

Like any project, there are always unknowns and these must be allowed for.

It could be as simple as another way of monitoring vehicle movements across the border without the need for cameras – such as GPRS tracking.

Whatever might present itself as an option, there has to be an open door approach to anything that could make the Open Border Solution even more Open than this Solution suggests that it could be.

The Organisations will include:

5.1.10. HMRC

As discussed in 5.1.8. above, HMRC must be a key stakeholder/respondent in the Solution Development,

5.1.11. DVLA

Unhindered access to the DVLA Database is a must. DVLA will also have a clear understanding of the issues regarding access to all other relevant Vehicle Databases in the EU and beyond.

Like HMRC, it is essential that they are treated as a key stakeholder/respondent in the Development stages.

5.1.12. Representatives of the Haulage Industry

The default setting when it comes to speaking to industry, is for the Government to give priority to Member and Lobby Organisations that portray themselves as being the voice of the Industry. They should not.

Yes. In this case, organisations such as the RHA (Road Haulage Association) have a part to play. But not when it comes to opinion.

Getting the right views and feedback does include member organisations. But the best people to get involved are those actually doing the jobs, not the managers of or more often than not the mangers of the managers of the mangers of the people who do the jobs, who have never actually done the jobs themselves.

By making clear that the Industry needs to inform practically, but not try to influence the Brexit process itself, large companies that are responsible for significant numbers of journeys into the EU are much more likely to support the Government by making the right people available to inform the process, rather than those with a name or profile who are eager to push their own view.

Drivers are often the very best to give practical viewpoints about how an operation involving lorries will actually work, and like everyone, they will be more than happy to help by answering questions if they understand that we will appreciate their view.

5.1.13. Representatives from Businesses conducting UK-EU exports and imports

Again, for the purposes of designing a system that works operationally, businesses that import from and export to the EU must be involved and asked to inform on the development of the Open Border Solution, with reliance not being placed on Member Organisations like the CBI and FSB to inform accurately alone.

Whilst journalists are adept at soliciting the angry or negative side of business owners when it comes to Brexit, the priority of business people is for the Open Border Solution to be developed in the best way possible so that it helps them to get along.

From this point of view, handled appropriately, most businesses that will be affected by Brexit will be happy to discuss what they experience now, and what they believe to be necessary post-Brexit, in order to get a successful Open Border Solution done.

The important thing is recognising what the important and common goals between exporters/importers is, and how this rolls out in to the functionality of the Open Border System.

5.1.14. Representatives of the Farming Industry

Last but by no means least, farmers. Because of the nature and scope of moving animals and foodstuffs and the very different approach that will be required to monitor the movement of animals, it is vital that organisations like the NFU are again actively involved, but not allow to dominate the process with a wish to make it a political debate.

Like the involvement of any organisation and industry representative, this process is no longer about their opinion. It’s about facts, figures and the practicalities of getting the job done.

From this point of view, it remains essential that Member Organisations only form part of the pool of Farming and food producer representatives that are invited to consult and that producers and farmers and involved in this process in real time.

5.1.15. Others that will inevitably become apparent

5.2. Date-critical development

Taking a considerably more commercial, time, cost and value approach to the tendering process, Developers (or Teams thereof) will be asked to present a tender for the development of the Border Solution (or Parts thereof) rather than the delivery of the complete thing.

As the hardware required for the ‘Service’ already exists, this element of the bids will be comparatively easy for contractors to cost, even where installation is required.

It is the development time and steps proposed to be taken to adapt the software solution that connects hardware and what might be a multiple number of different, potentially government-run databases that will both need to be projected realistically for both time and cost, but also to ensure that any potential contractor is fully aware of the cross-organisational working that will be involved.

Nonetheless it is the assurance from all bodies involved that they will not hinder or hold up progress that will be a key element of the process. For this reason, the development of the Border Solution might need to be in 2 steps. The first only to develop a stand-alone solution which is only dependent upon reference data from Government Agencies (such as the DVLA Database or HRMC Tax Codes). The second, over time once running, to integrate fully with all departments involved.

To ensure that the development of the Border Solution is kept within schedule, a minimum of three bids will be accepted, with the most appropriate chosen for implementation once delivery has been assured, the product tested and it is clear that nothing will hinder delivery on time.

5.3. Implementation, servicing and further development

The reward for the successful contractor(s) would be a 5 or perhaps 10 year maintenance and development contract to support the early years of the Open Border Service

Overview

The reality is that the success of the Open Border Solution – and Brexit itself, is all about the people doing the jobs.

The Open Border Solution can be delivered quickly, economically and to the standards necessary to meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders. As long as the focus is on and only on the job in hand.

The moment that opinion on the part of anyone within the process is allowed to overshadow fact and practicality, the Open Border Solution will be one step further away from being delivered.

It’s all about the people. And all of the people involved have got to put their own views, priorities and aims to one side, and commit to doing everything necessary to get the Open Border Solution delivered, working and done.

Download this Blog in PDF: Beating the Backstop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conservative Party MUST have a New Leader, New Manifesto AND New Electoral Mandate BEFORE 31 October – AND they ALL have to be just right

April 25, 2019 8 comments

img_3013When Parliament has already voted to overrule the Executive, a Party Grandee who has been a Party Member for longer than the lifetimes of many MPs leaves to stand for a protest party, and Conservative Councillors and even MPs too are telling the media they are about to Vote against their own Party in an upcoming Election, anyone with enough sense and concern for what is going on around them would know that what is happening no longer fits with any rules they know. They would accept that following those rules is not now going to bring the situation to a close.

That our lawmakers have no real appreciation for the responsibility they have been given by the Electorate has now become painfully obvious to the People outside of Westminster.

Worse for all conservatives, whether members of the Party, tribal voters or simply lapsed, is the realisation that a horrible reality is now becoming manifest in Westminster. One where there are simply not enough Conservative MPs in the Parliamentary Party that have the understanding, stamina, wherewithal and everything that it takes to deal with a serious crisis – not one created by any external threat, but by something made manifest from within its own walls.

Those who observe and consider the steps of the journey that Brexit has taken will eventually realise that the decisions made by Theresa May and her enablers since June 2016 – right up to the 1922 Committee’s decision last evening not to put the flames out engulfing the Party that are now in open sight for all to see, have and are continuing to fuel a fire that has not only taken the Conservative Party to the edge of the precipice, but is on the verge of condemning the whole of the UK to political, if not civil chaos too.

We have reached a point where the true chronology of events that led to the Vote to Leave the European Union, the mess of the Brexit Process and the now the critical condition of our democracy too, is in imminent danger of being forgotten and responibility for all ills being laid squarely at the feet of the only Political Party genuinely capable of getting the UK through Brexit and to the promise of the opportunities that lie ahead for us all on the other side.

It is painful for many to admit that the disease within the Conservative Party may have already been allowed to spread too far. That if the majority of the MPs that are still obstructing change from within the Conservative Parliamentary Party do not put their self-interest, fear and obsession with maintaining a system that now, thanks in no small part to them no longer exists, that not only will the Party that gifted them their time in the public eye be gone, but the Country itself could be thrown into chaos and darkness of a kind that those amongst us still alive to remember the consequences of such times had long since hoped had been left behind.

People who I and many have time for and respect from right across the political spectrum, are now falling in behind Nigel Farage to support the Brexit Party.

Any serious conservative with an eye on the future and what happens next would be foolish not to read the electoral runes right at this moment in time and see what is about to happen to British Politics during the Month of May.

But whilst one of the key straplines of this very serious and credible protest party is changing politics for good, the Brexit Party only has the cohesiveness between its Membership and support provided by just one issue.

This commonality between Brexit Party supporters will evaporate the moment that the promise made to respect our democracy and Leave the EU has been made good.

In days and certainly no more than weeks, the Conservative Party has a final and defining choice to make about the part that it wants to play and can offer the British People as a choice for the future.

If the Conservative Party does not choose to take it, the Brexit Party could well become the overwhelming force in domestic British Politics that UKIP never could.

The anger, palpable amongst the British People today that could so quickly be addressed with reason and delivery, could instead be completely unleashed.

Make no mistake. A Political Party without professional governance, systems and procedures is not going to deliver the overnight change it is now promising us – even if it currently benefits from having many well known and well meaning names up front which gives it an even more credible feel.

The choice that the Conservative Party has to make is whether to do nothing and allow May to continue in a way that only she seems to know how. Or to commit to a hard-decision-laden and timely process that will require unbending commitment, coolness of character and dedication to a cause much bigger than themselves and their Party, all boiled down to the willingness to do whatever it will take to get things done.

Step 1. A NEW Leader

May MUST go.

May MUST go now.

May MUST be replaced quickly.

This is not the time for an incumbent PM to be allowed to run down the clock in an attempt to let history look more kindly upon her tenure than anyone actually does right now. It won’t.

The ridiculous infighting, self-interest and ambition that have created so much of the Brexit impasse and constipated version of Parliamentary Politics we have witnessed over the past year has to stop and be consigned to the bin.

There MUST be a practical acceptance of the reality that right now, in this climate and with our Country facing the issues that it is, that there is no such thing as the ‘best’ or ‘Perfect’ candidate to be Prime Minister. It is now all about putting the person into the role who will be best placed to get results and yes, get the job done.

Under such circumstances, there is little doubt that whilst far from a perfect situation, the Party Membership would support an immediate ‘crowning’ of a new Party Leader and de facto Prime Minister, AS LONG AS THE PARLIAMENTARY PARTY APPOINTS THE RIGHT PERSON IT HAS AVAILABLE.

As recent polling work undertaken by the Conservative Home Website has shown, which is reliable for gauging the mood of the grassroots Party, the Membership wants a Brexiteer PM in Downing Street.

By far, the PM that the Membership wants is Boris Johnson.

The lack of understanding and appreciation of what really gets results, instead replaced with private ambition and the idea that each and every Member of the Cabinet is the only one who really knows best and can be the next Prime Minister, is precisely why so much of this has gone wrong already.

Trying to control or obstruct a workable solution to these problems for personal reasons, rather than doing what’s best for everyone, no matter how challenging or distasteful or unpalatable the alternative might be, is likely to replace one bad Prime Minister with another. Not because the alternatives aren’t capable or any good at what they do. But because they cannot be the person to bring together the formula that this Country needs right now and effectively become the necessary catalyst for change and for good.

Boris is very electable, as has been demonstrated by his highly effective campaigns to become and to be re-lected London Mayor.

Yes, Boris has a propensity to look silly at inappropriate times. But he also identifies his own destiny as being closely aligned with the success of the people and the policies that he leads. And as Prime Minister he will know that he MUST surround himself with the full range of best talents and voices. To be inclusive, but to make sure that the results achieved are good for all parts of our society and not just those who are directly involved.

This is where the opportunity lies for all who can see, accept and facilitate what now needs to be done to align themselves, contribute and for their genuine ambition to do good for others to be recognised fully for the part they play in delivering for the much bigger Public cause.

2. A NEW Manifesto

No. Oddly the next step IS NOT to worry about Brexit and the EU.

For right or for wrong, we now have until Thursday 31st October 2019 to sort out the Brexit mess and to get things done.

That’s 6 Months. And with a week being a long time in politics, as long as the Conservatives get moving quickly AND do all that needs to be done, 6 Months will be plenty of time enough.

The first priority is to create, promote and engage the public with a NEW Manifesto.

A Manifesto that demonstrates:

  • That the kind of working relationship that WE ALL want with Europe can only be created and developed once we are a fully Independent and Sovereign State once again and that to do this WE MUST FULLY AND CATEGORICALLY LEAVE.
  • That the Conservative Party is NOT only the Party of the rich, but the Party of all those with aspiration. The protector and safe-guarder of all those in genuine need and all those who want to succeed as a result of genuine effort and not riding off the backs and exploitation of others. A Party which really is for ALL of us too.
  • That Politics is in fact the means and not the ends to get things done. That it is a calling, not a job and that those who gain the very special and privileged elevation to Public Office must be able, prepared and committed to engaging fully foremost and as a priority with the People that they represent.
  • That good governance of this Country can no longer be something regurgitated from history, read from a book, accepted as an established rule or contrived on the basis simply of how it will look.
  • That decisions will be taken no matter how hard, to ensure that Government delivers fully for everyone, without bias, favour and with fairness as we are all right and justified in expecting that it should.

It will not take months or years to formulate.

The Conservatives only have to look beyond themselves and begin to engage everyone in a natural conversation, without the hard sell and without falling back on statistics and analysis to confirm what being out there will soon tell them should then be a quickly changing mood.

3. A New Mandate

With a New Leader and New Manifesto, the Conservative Party then MUST go back to the People.

It MUST have the faith, confidence and guts to know that if the Party has done Steps 1 & 2 right, the People will come back and provide the Party with a New Mandate.

A New Mandate that is required not only to break the Brexit impasse that can only come from our clean-break Leaving the EU. But to deliver the change that the People now require of our politicians. So that the UK can find its place and ensure that we are all secure in an ever changing World, where the agility and flexibility that our status as an Independent and Sovereign State is the only way that we can effectively adapt as a Country to ensure that we can continually work together towards the prize of something better for all.

 

 

 

 

 

Gambling companies soon stop betting that puts their profits at risk. They can surely do the same when it comes to the risk to customers

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment

DqLbANEU0AAAE3aJust like there will always be those who drink too much, eat too much or find themselves addicted to just about any number of things in this life that we could all find ourselves hooked to, it is the same with gambling. So before I roll out some thoughts on the problem that the Betting Industry has, it is important to add the caveat that no matter what Companies do voluntarily or as the result of legislation to make them do so, there will always be those who will somehow fall through the net and the perfect solution to any of these problems is not one that will be easy to find.

Like most things we are experiencing within our culture today, gambling and the upsurge of problem betting is a frustrating, but nonetheless horrid illustration of everything wrong with these times. Whether it’s the ease of online betting where temptation is ever present on your phone, or the seeming market saturation of our dying high streets by Bookies appearing on ever corner, we have perhaps never had so many warning flags flying in the face of us all, telling us that something is fundamentally wrong with the way the world around us is working, and that government not only could, but should be doing a hell of a lot more.

We are an unhappy culture. An unhappy society. And much of that unhappiness is based on the idea of want, and that we must always be looking for ways to get more.

People are unhappy with what they have and this situation is one that is relative. It doesn’t matter whether others would class you as being rich, poor or somewhere in the middle. In this material and money-led world, everything going on around us tells us that we must do everything that we can to obtain and yes secure much more.

There are no easy rides, no matter what anyone actually says. The odds of winning the National Lottery are apparently 1 in 45,057,474 and even if you were to find yourself an overnight millionaire, the problems that you once had are just swapped for many more and there are very few of us who can temper such change with realism and practicality once we have been there and looked it in the eye.

Nonetheless the temptation is always there. And once we have that buzz from a win – no matter how small, it is easy for anyone to fall into the trap of thinking that winning is actually easy, and that by simply throwing a few quid (which is never is on this pathway) at it, we are on a sure way to accumulate much more.

Yes, there are those who gamble and are very good at it. But they are actually few and far, or rather fewer and farther between, because Bookies and Gambling Companies don’t wont to take the risk of large bets from people who have been around in the gambling game long enough that they know how to play the games properly or bet strategically so they have covered themselves in everything they actually do.

The cynicism of the Betting Co’s is mind bogging really, as they are more than ready, able and equipped to rid themselves of gamblers who statistically are going to take more money from them than they will actually ever lose. Yet when it comes to those who have lost any realistic form of control or discipline over their own actions, they can speak many different words and tell us stories that suggest that they are stewarding responsible gambling. Yet their level of inaction at actually stopping the risk to others as opposed to building a wall to protect any risk to themselves is simply wrong.

Whilst you will hear mixed opinion on the validity and impact of the 2003 Licensing Act on the Sale of Alcohol and the impact it has had on bars, pubs and clubs, the upshot was that it created a much more responsible approach to bar management and the drink-place management of alcohol addiction that would have perhaps been much more evident had successive governments done more to protect drinkers and in so doing, protect community assets and the pubs that many of us still love.

Requiring staff that manage Bookmakers Retail Premises and online gaming to demonstrate competence in managing gambling and then compelling them to intervene should long ago have been the way that things are done. But it is the self-governance of the betting industry itself where the changes that would make a real difference should surely be made.

All the government needs to do is give them the option of either removing restrictions to any level of gambling down to an individual bet level, or require that the Companies refuse to take bets from anyone whos actions are creating a risk – whether that be to Company Profits or to themselves, their health or indeed anything that they own.

Categories: Uncategorized

Boots Corner: Let Cheltenham decide

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment

img_3811Over 13 months has now passed since the closure of Boots Corner took place in Cheltenham, and the trickle-down impacts on the Town began.

Cheltenham BID recently released the results of a petition that echoed the many comments that have entered the public domain before, telling us that the changes have effectively screwed local businesses and that for business people and entrepreneurs that rely solely on their location and passing trade to keep their offering in customers minds, a retail future in Cheltenham Town Centre is looking rosey no more.

As has now become normal, the arguments against the Borough Councils’ scheme have been rebuffed on the basis of discrediting the data offered, rather than suggesting they accept any questions are justified.

Yet the most interesting development by far was the story circulating on Twitter from ITV News West Reporter Ken Goodwin that in a BBC Radio Gloucestershire interview, a prominent Cheltenham Borough Councillor has admitted that the Boots Corner closure formed part of an agreement between Councillors and Developers to secure the arrival of the Brewery Quarter in the Town.

If accurate, this admission potentially creates a whole new dimension to the Boots Corner story.

It could confirm that the so-called trial of the Boots Corner closure has always been phoney from the very beginning.

It would almost certainly raise questions over the money spent on monitoring traffic flow since the closure and whether it has been allocated only in some dubious hope that evidence could be gathered that could be presented to prove businesses and local people’s experience of the Boots Corner closure and the associated impact on lives and livelihoods is wrong.

It could very well suggest that above all, the Council is not working democratically and believes it has the right to impose whatever it wants on the local area, irrespective of what people and businesses based and around the Town actually want.

If the Town Centre has been sold out on the basis of a developer deal and without direct public consent, the whole project of which it appears the Boots Corner closure might only be a part, could well raise questions over legitimacy of the decisions behind it and point to illegitimate deals – even if no Councillor has personally accumulated any personal financial gain from the process.

Money doesn’t have to change hands for the behaviour of public servants to be ethically or morally corrupt.

There is simply no evidence available that shows it even likely there will ever be a tangible benefit to the community that will outweigh the negative impacts upon the area – whether it be local people, local businesses and even those who just visit or work in Cheltenham Town – simply from bringing a high profile but nonetheless solely commercial venture to the Town

Indeed, If this is how the Boots Corner closure genuinely came about, it is more than likely the case that by conducting all this post-Boots-Corner-closure analysis, this is the real-world reality for the community that those behind this vanity project are hoping they will be able to overturn.

Regrettably, we do not live in times when those with their hands on the levers of power are prepared to back down when they have been found out.

This means that the Council would have to be forced to rescind it’s decision in some other way. And if it should be found and proven to exist, responsibility for any back-room agreement that should never have been made should be lain solely at the feet of those who are responsible – rather than directed at the bottom of the pockets of local taxpayers who don’t even realise they are paying for the undemocratic ineptitude of the self-serving in many different ways, every single day.

A legal challenge on the basis of any questionable deal resting on the closure of Boots Corner might well be possible if all information were to be disclosed.

But the cost of such a challenge would need to be fundraised and there is no guarantee that the Council could not simply and yes, legitimately argue that the penalties they would incur and may well have contractually agreed to ultimately guarantee any closure would be too high to pay back to the other parties by doing an about-turn unilaterally at a time when  local government is under considerable financial strain.

No, there must be another way. And it’s not by filling out petitions that are rarely reliable enough to persuade anyone. They simply do not habitually engage enough of the people they should.

Nor is it to rely upon Public Consultations that inevitably always deliver the facts and arguments that those driving the change believe they should.

The only way to resolve the Boots Corner question properly and legitimately from here is to put the decision directly in the hands of Cheltenham People. To have a local referendum and make the question very simple: ‘Should Boots Corner be open or closed?’

If the Council genuinely believes the course it is taking by arguably doing little more than imposing a change to the Town of this size and impact as being justified, it will have nothing to fear from putting the decision Democratically in the hands of local people via a plebiscite. And yes, it really should.

Boots Corner: Who was it really closed for and why?

August 3, 2019 Leave a comment

img_3811Some months ago, I published a list of questions that Cheltenham Borough Council could be answering about the Boots Corner closure and what had really motivated them to do what they have done.

From first look, it would appear that one of the prominent Borough Councillors involved has voluntarily began to do just that.

In a BBC Radio Gloucestershire interview this week – flagged by ITV Journalist Ken Goodwin on Twitter, the Councillor has openly referred to the Boots Corner closure being a part of the agreement to secure the Brewery Quarter Development for the Town.

Whilst a public admission of this kind should immediately have alarms and red flags flying all over it, speculation alone won’t help anyone on either side of the Boots Corner debate.

But there is surely now a need for Cheltenham Borough Council to be fully and openly transparent about the meetings that have taken place between Councillors, Officers and Developers leading up to the Boots Corner closure; what has been agreed between them behind closed doors and what the real implications for the local taxpayer and public purse would be if the Council were to listen to the views and experiences of local people and businesses and scrap the Boots Corner closure and the changes to the Roads around the Town Centre as the impact of the ‘trial’ on the community suggests that it now should.

Data can be used to back any argument when people in positions of power and responsibility know how to do it. What is most important to clarify after a statement by a public representative like this has now been made is why and on what basis the commitment was made to close Boots Corner in the first place and to make clear whether or not Cheltenham Borough Council’s hands have in effect been undemocratically tied.

A New Politics

May 24, 2019 4 comments

getting-startedA New Politics is something that I have referenced as a term increasingly in my recent Blogs. Just as I have also referred to the ‘Old Politics’ as a term to reference the no longer acceptable form of doing political business which is currently best illustrated by the behaviour of Theresa May, along with the Parliamentary Conservative Party that immediately surrounds her.

Everything that the Conservatives have been doing shows increasing signs that they believe they will be able to return to this approach, repackaged by terms such as ‘One Nation Conservatism’ just as soon as she has gone.

A New Politics is something I have been alluding to, if not using that precise term, for a long while. Just without referencing it in this specific form of words.

A New Politics is also a term that it being discussed more frequently in the media. It was mentioned by the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks in his interview with Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight on Wednesday evening. Albeit as part of an insightful and frank analysis of the current state of British Politics where like with most examples of its use, he described A New Politics in terms of a location that comes after Brexit has been concluded, rather than offering any idea what it will look like and how it will actually work.

I have been happily tapping away at the keys on my laptop, mentioning ‘A New Politics’ as if it is already a tangible fact and is present a modus operandi, as a manifesto or some other universally accepted term. Of course it is not, and I was reminded of this by a comment posted to my Blog yesterday which specifically requested that I explain what A New Politics is.

So I will attempt to give what A New Politics is to me. What it looks like and how it would work and evolve in greater form.

A new politics is about changing the way that politicians and the people who aspire to be politicians think.

It is about application. It is fundamentally a way of being a politician and conducting politics as a vocation or calling, rather than viewing it as simply a job, career pathway or method of ‘getting on’, which is nothing like the same thing.

It sounds simple at first look. But the reality is that it is anything but simple and is not just about political reform.

Politicians today rarely have the level of awareness of self or of the community, social, business and government environment in which they operate either to look critically within themselves and at what they are doing. Nor do they have the desire or motivation to acquire the skills that will enable them to understand the interaction required of them better.

The Party Political system has reached a stage in its evolution and the management and environmental conditioning of political candidates and frontline members where it is now normal for those taking on elected roles to assume that all problems are external to them and that addressing ‘problems’ external to them is the way that each and every problem is solved.

Because of this external locus in politics, there is a lot of talk about things like changing the Electoral System to PR from First Past The Post and a second Referendum on the Brexit question. It is most notably present in the angry behaviour that is present in the continuing diatribe over Leave vs. Remain and who is – or was- actually right.

But change to our Political System resulting from blame attribution and the change the People are now seeking in Politics are simply not the same thing.

A New Politics must be something that is lived and not only treated as an idea or vision by those who are intricately involved.

It is about the example of good politicians at the top of Government influencing by example.

Of Politicians doing what is right for everyone. Considering the consequences of their decisions not just for those immediately effected. But like the ripple effect upon every part of a widened supply chain for a complex product. It is about considering and working fairly and proportionately for all of those who will be impacted beyond.

A New Politics is the leadership of taking hard, and where necessary unpopular decisions.

Politicians have the responsibility to look up to and beyond the horizon, and be cognizant of everything. Not just that which is obvious or placed in immediate view. They have to be both mindful and respectful of the possibilities and influences that inhabit the ground in-between.

Above all, it’s about seeing an Elected Term as the only opportunity to get things done. Rather than being just a term to secure the result of the next election. And I say this with no intentional hint of irony, given that working hard without fear or emotional tie in to the outcome, is likely to result in the very same thing.

Without repeating a great deal that I have already published, that is about the simplest way to describe what I offer that A New Politics would actually be.

Whilst the reality is that it is exactly what all of our Politicians should now and always have been doing – as it should be for the younger generations yet to come, for some or those with a more kindly interpretation or view of one of the few hard working Politicians that do exist, it may already be their experience and as such not be new at all.

We will have A New Politics when it is effectively the same experience of Politics for everyone.

If you would like to read about my view of A New Politics in more detail and how it would actually begin and then work, I talked about the way to get the ball rolling in Wednesday’s Blog.

I have also written a Book for Kindle that is a guide for people considering entering Politics with the intention of doing the whole thing properly. It’s called How to get Elected and you can read it FREE by clicking HERE, or purchase and download the Book for Kindle HERE.

I also wrote Mutual Aims which is A New Politics outlined as a very basic Political Philosophy in an essay form. Mutual Aims is FREE to read HERE or can be purchased and downloaded as a Book for Kindle HERE.

 

 

image thanks to unknown

 

How do you change politics for good? – By changing the way Politicians think so they do the best for everyone, just as they always should

Politicians

24 Hours away from the European Elections that should never have been, the passion and enthusiasm of a wronged Electorate is not only tangible. It can be seen in open view at Meetings across the Country. It is popping up here, there and everywhere on television and radio, through the newspapers and just about all of our social media streams.

Polling at 37% this morning, the Brexit Party looks like it is about to clean up in these Elections. And the Party could be set to do even better than these figures today are suggesting, simply because of the latest disaster of a Speech and intervention from the outgoing lame-duck Prime Minister Mrs May.

The strap-line that accompanied Nigel Farage as a backdrop to his final Campaign Speech last night was ‘Changing Politics for Good’.

But as the reality dawns that the Brexit Party could be on its way to Westminster too, many of us are beginning to ask a real question about everything that underpins this seemingly unstoppable machine.

We are wondering how do you actually go about changing Politics. Because British Politics is clearly broken. But it also appears to be a system or way of doing things that has always been there, and in that sense wasn’t simply made?

As I was reading the brief but nonetheless very pertinent question ‘how do you change politics’ on my twitter feed this morning, I thought about asking some of the Brexiteers who are currently engaged in open warfare with all dissenters, if as a fellow Leaver, they could provide me with some detail to back up their very effective rhetoric. I wondered if it would then be obvious what formula the Brexit Party is going to use that is so different to that we have experienced as being ‘normal’ for far too long already and thereby give us all the type of Politics that good Politicians should.

Sadly, the answer already lies in the circumstances in which the question came to me.

To those who have become so emotionally entrenched with the direction of a political movement – no matter how valid and legitimate their quest may be, questions like this will always be seen as an attack or the suggestion that they are in some way wrong. They do not see it as being the perfect opportunity that it is to clarify and give weight to the Brexit Party’s statement of intent – as the detail behind any thought-out and considered political campaign really should be able to.

Now before you read this as a suggestion that I am going all out to attack the Brexit Party, this really isn’t where I am going. Because in terms of delivering the key issue of these times – that’s delivering a proper, No Deal Brexit – I am supportive of what they are doing. I wish them all well in tomorrow’s Elections and sincerely hope that the message their success will deliver to the current Parties of Government will be received and completely understood.

The problem for me with the Brexit Party as it stands today, is the same as it is with all the other Political Parties that have made themselves available to us as a choice to Vote for tomorrow. One that exists irrespective of political philosophy or despite the side they sit on the argument over Brexit, or even how they feel about the tenure of Mrs May.

I say this, because none of the Political Parties are today offering anything in response to what is both a political and democratic crisis.

None of the Political Parties are offering up a solution or any hint of one that is going to result in fundamental or long lasting change.

The problem to be solved isn’t all about Brexit. In fact Brexit was a symptom. It certainly was not the cause.

The political crisis and the attack of an out of touch political class upon our democracy, has been a long time in the making. It is the perfect storm of factors mixed together that have created the crisis itself. They have now made it so difficult to see a way forward and visualise a pathway that will result in real and meaningful change.

Yet Brexit is the key to creating the change that we are all seeking. Because the EU has been a big but unseen influence on the downward spiral of our democracy.

Removing outside influence is the only way that we can ultimately return the UK to the position of being a true, working democracy. One that is responsive to the needs of everyone, ambitious for the future without creating losers so that we can be seen to win. One that above all is fair and balanced in its approach to everyone, while being robust enough in approach to ensure that as a Country we are always forward looking and as individuals feel confident about who we are. Rather than having our focus always shifted backwards and conditioned to believe that being British is in some way a sin.

So how do we go about doing this?

How do we change politics for good?

How do we create a political environment where there is a genuine belief in something better for everyone or what some would frame as being a ‘win win’?

Well the reality of this change is very simple. But it is much more difficult than addressing the problem as if it sits outside of any of us.

Regrettably this is the default setting for those within the existing political class who are suggesting they have found a so-called Holy Grail to solving the whole problem. So-called solutions that to you and I in gobbledygook or unwritten code, are usually a way of presenting as change a different way of doing things which for them alone will improve their chances – if not actually guarantee that they always win.

Whether its an argument against First Past The Post Voting (FPTP), the ‘Two Party System’, Political Parties, The House of Lords, our Electoral System, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act or ‘None of the above’. Considering the merits or disadvantages of any or indeed all of these methods or issues in isolation will not result in a solution to the question of ‘How do you change Politics’.

These are all systems or methods of working that lie outside of the real problem. Changing any of them or all will just ensure that there is more of all the things we hate and find frustrating about what we have and are experiencing in Politics now, perhaps presented differently, but as sure as night follows day, they will definitely come.

The only way that Politics can be changed successfully for good, is to change the way that we all think about politics. That means changing the way that politicians think, right from the moment they first consider becoming involved.

Regrettably getting anyone to think differently is a process which can be long or it can be short.

It depends on the individual as well as the changes to the political and government environment which must also happen to get this done.

Reconditioning of the way politics is perceived will be a developing and repeated process over an open ended period of time. That is if fundamental change of the type that People really want – which they can only currently relate to in the form of sound bites – is ever to be achieved.

The first step in the process to changing Politics for good is to understand that Politics is a vocation and not simply a job.

Parliament is already filled up with too many MPs who believe that it is the latter. That means the focus is always on the benefits of any situation to the Politician his or herself, rather than to the Electorate or anyone else involved.

We must then reset, rejuvenate and restart the Party Political System, so that Party Politics is returned to being the means to get things done in Politics, not simply the end for anyone involved.

We only need look at what this ridiculous system now provides us with in the form of the tenure of Theresa May to know and understand that she and the politicians who are stuck like limpets around her are or were only in it for the job rather than the responsibility.

Political Parties are not a machine in which good leaders of Countries can be produced or are made.

No politician should gain a seat in Westminster if their reason for being there is their own career, for glory, monetary gain, publicity or just because since a child they had an aspiration to be the key holder at No.10.

Good Politicians are not purely idealists. They have practical understanding and experience of life, ideally from a variety of angles. They have knowledge that gives them an understanding of people and what it takes to see, interpret and translate life and the impact of government policy from a variety of standpoints in just one argument. Not simply the one that most closely fits their own.

Above all, it’s about realism; not only doing what’s going to be popular or what they believe is likely to secure the most votes.

The responsibility of being a politician, MP or leading a Government of any kind is about the best decision based on the facts of the moment being taken at that moment in time.

Political strategy is only a route plan. It is not a guarantee that events will ever turn out as anticipated or the way that they should, because there will always be unforeseen factors involved.

When we can genuinely fill the seats of our Councils and our Parliament with a majority of Politicians who see their role as a responsibility, a privilege and an unquestionable obligation to the wider community, it will no longer matter about political philosophy.

Politics will no longer be facilitated for the benefit and furtherance of a Political Party or a Politicians own cause.

That is the point when politics will have changed for good.

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Everything wrong with our Political Parties has gifted them with the inability to change and what follows a win by the Brexit Party is what we should now be fearing most

BP WTF

Whilst some of us have been arguing that the Political Parties need to embrace change, we also know that the very reasons that they have gone so wrong are those most likely to ensure that they will not do so. Not until time has run out and it’s all too late.

We needn’t look far for examples that make this clear.

The Conservatives have and even now are missing repeated opportunities to change approach and go a different way.

They are happy to indulge an out of control and wholly inept Prime Minister for purposes that are all and only ever have been about themselves, whilst the Country draws near to a precipice that could otherwise have been avoided.

Our political class has become detached from reality and insulated by a Political Party System that excludes anything from it that gives the whole Electorate an effective and fully inclusive voice.

After many years within a process of insular ascendancy, our MPs no longer understand or identify any need to listen to any voice, other than their own.

Politics today is not in any way intuitive. For if it was, we would not be in the position that we are and Brexit would have been completed. We would already be well and truly out of the EU and talk of a dividing line down the middle of the Country would have never gained traction. The whole thing would be over and done.

Instead we have a political class that cannot understand nor accept even now, that it has done anything in any way wrong.

For years and in all likelihood decades, this approach has been innocently overlooked by the Public. There has been an unwritten acceptance that this was the way Government works. Simply the way that things get done.

But when David Cameron tossed over responsibility to us for a decision on leaving the EU, that status quo was broken.

It instantly became unacceptable for MPs to continue behaving as if they have the right to manipulate and dictate everything that we do and what for us as a Country is yet to come.

When we the People made our decision to Leave the EU, just like after any normal election where we would also have done the same, we expected and trusted that the result would be respected in the same way by politicians as we have had to accept, sometimes grudgingly too.

By choosing not to respect this formula, MPs have brought into question the whole meaning of democracy.

Their obfuscation and malevolent behaviour during the Brexit Process has underlined that MPs consider the Decision of the People to be wrong.

Their action has released the genie from the bottle and now Farage is back. Bigger, better and hitting home with words people relate to more than ever before. People are beginning to feel like he has already won.

But the reach and apparent accuracy of the Brexit Party via a captivating campaign that is tapping into public feeling that crosses the entire political spectrum is limited. It is only a campaign after all.

The connection with the Brexit Party and its message that we see, feel and find ourselves relating to has been created by good dynamic communication. Communication based on effective analysis, intuition, interpretation, translation and the clear unbiased elucidation of the common thread of feeling we share about how we have been sold out by an out of touch and self-serving political class that without immediate change, will only continue to do wrong.

But the Brexit Party is not the change that we need either.

It ultimately represents a collective response to dealing with just one thing.

And once the result of delivering Brexit has been achieved, the commonality that binds everyone with the aims and actions of the Brexit Party will immediately be gone.

We should really now be asking ‘what happens then?’

The Brexit Party has no political philosophy that underpins it, other than to deliver Brexit. There simply is nothing more.

There is no direction underpinning a domestic policy. And with a raft of highly enthusiastic and yes opportunistic candidates too, the clear lack of experience of politics, government and the machinations of the wider public sector present, should be telling us all that we really need to know.

The reality is that a Brexit Party immediately thrust into majority government or as a key influence within a cooaltion would almost certainly be no better, if not even less effective than the very poor excuse for democracy and responsive government that we have already got.

Very few of the Brexit Party Candidates would be equipped with the experience and understanding to hit the ground running in government, no matter what they might sincerely believe. The Civil Service would simply seize the opportunity to go on the rampage, when the malign influences at work within Whitehall are themselves not an insignificant part of all that is already wrong.

Whilst an open assessment that says there is no substance behind what Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party are doing might well sound like an argument to stick with what we already have, I can most assuredly make clear that it certainly is not.

Change is now inevitable.

The rot in politics has simply gone too far.

But none of this is or ever has been as simple as being solely about Brexit alone.

The open secret for a growing number of us is that this has always been about so much more.

The question here is who will actually bring the real change that People are now having their hopes built up to, by a Brexit Party that is in reality selling nothing better than the ‘Old Politics’, wallpapered over with messages that sound like the Party is capable of delivering dreams, when it is currently ill-equipped to even attempt to deliver Brexit. There is certainly nothing that suggests the Brexit Party is a credible option to take the UK beyond Brexit and deliver more.

The hard truth is that the Brexit Party can only promise the delivery of Brexit with a considerable risk of disappointment for us all involved.

As far as democracy is concerned thereafter, we can only be confident of an immediate return to the politics of the world before Brexit. Of going back to the system we have rejected. The very one that we so badly want changed.

We are sadly guaranteed this because NO Political Party can demonstrate a difference between them and the ideals of ‘them and us’. What we the People now recognise as the politics of old.

 

 

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