Voting for a Brexit Party just became a serious option for many of us, but we need a political movement ready to tackle the causes of Brexit too

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It feels like we have been taken to the edge, just for Theresa May to go off again many times before. Yet the content of her speech from Downing Street last night not only put an entirely different reality on the table for the Brexit process, but for British Politics and the wider possibilities of what we could all be about to experience in the UK too.

The frustration and yes, anger over the Brexit betrayal and the actions of many of our MPs is becoming palpable in the world outside Westminster.

If you take time to read, absorb and interpret the messages that are pumping out across social media, you will see that talk of alternatives to the three main Political Parties has been growing. Even frontline Conservatives are now publicly questioning their allegiance to a Party that has completely lost its way under May and are on the verge of looking for a new political home.

The passion out there is growing. There are clearly a great many people who are adding their voices to a mix that not only includes those ready or already committed to taking their vote away from the Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties – perhaps as early as the Local Elections set to be held next month. But many more who are set to support anything which resembles a movement ready to respect and deliver Brexit and do whatever it will take to get the job done.

Because of the mess that the overriding majority within today’s political culture has created, we cannot overlook the impact of the influence that new political vehicles such as the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage could now inflict.

There are others in the making along the same lines too. And with the strength and evolution of Public resentment now coming directly into the mix too, these are very real entities that within weeks could be getting Councillors, MPs and yes, MEPs elected, representing that focus, frustration and anger, but also bringing to the table a lot of additional unknowns too.

The real danger in all of this, is that at a time when this Country needs something fundamentally different from the current Public Representation that we have at all levels, we could be about to get something far less refined. Something that is nonetheless fundamentally equipped with the same views, aspirations and understanding as the current crop of politicians that we have.

I say this, because the majority of MPs and Councillors now representing us had the same kind of passion, outlook and energy themselves when they first ventured into this horrid excuse for a political system that we have.

Few with such aspirations enter the world of politics without reference to a commitment to public service at some level at least. But the structure, nature and mechanisms of the political and government system as it is and has been for a very long time have made the majority of our political class little more than willing but nonetheless passive participants in a legislature incapable of breaking new ground, of original thinking or of taking the people and businesses of this Country to the destination where we are all considered properly and as a priority by public policy. A place where we can be confident in the Country and communities around us which are not the EU’s, but very much our own.

Why is this important?

It is important, because being an MP, Councillor or whatever an elected representative in the UK might be, is not just about getting elected alone.

The responsibilities of finding yourself elected are far reaching. So even if a majority of MPs were to be elected to Parliament from just one or from a number of Brexit Parties, we have to ask the very serious question about what happens to law making in this Country when a proper Brexit has been delivered and the manifesto promises of speakers like Farage have been achieved and their value has effectively gone.

Brexit lifted the giant rock that has been covering everything that is wrong with politics and government in the UK.

Many of our politicians don’t even understand the complexity of the issues upon which they are voting for. A reality brought into painful focus by the fact that Conservative MPs were being taught to understand a Customs Union only this Monday, after they have been voting on its possible use in a deal with the EU for weeks if not months already.

Political tribalism – that’s voting for the three main Parties, is the default setting in this Country.

This means that once Brexit is done and dusted – which it will be, that without a credible alternative to what we have now in place that has a direction equivalent to wholesale change, voters will ultimately return to the Parties they used to vote for once the mess is gone.

Be under no illusion, they will be voting for the same attitudes, same self serving behaviour and same contempt for the lives of others that we are experiencing the tail end of right here and now, if the Parties that we know in Westminster today are not subject to fundamental and far-reaching reform.

There is a distinct absence of principles, ethics and morality within our political class today. This is the biggest problem of them all.

For if these attributes existed to any great degree in Westminster already, we would not be anywhere near the Brexit chaos in which this Parliament has guided our pathway to become entwined.

If as the result of some grave misfortune we still were, such qualities would be guiding us away from a place where May could be about to make a deal with the Devil just to save her own role and perceived legacy. And those MPs exhibiting them would be doing everything necessary to put this Country first, which means bringing the career of this Prime Minister to its end – knowing and in spite of the fact that it would be at risk to their own.

There is imply no way to plan ahead from the place that this and a succession of Parliaments has brought us today and the paralysis will remain until the reality of this has had its say.

The only way that we will find ourselves as a Country again will be if our MPs start doing the right thing in the moment, instead of being obsessed with controlling everything else other than that which is theirs to control.

 

Dear anti-Brexit MPs: You didn’t attempt to spin your way out of the democratic mandate when you were elected to Parliament, so why is the Brexit we also voted for so different?

BullWith all credibility now well and truly gone from this Parliament, it is regrettably all too convenient that some of the architects of the Brexit impasse are already touting the possibility of an inquiry being set up to define what went wrong.

In the age of spin, where the best, most eloquent or most communicable excuses eclipse pretty much every level of genuine truth or non-Westminster reality, it sadly comes as little surprise.

It has, after all, become the default option of poor representatives, to cover their own failures, misgivings and downright self-interest by identifying just about any form of excuse they can find which will anchor a justification for trashing workable plans, ideas that will actually help other people or destroying the credibility and often the progress of others who can actually justify their arguments or what it is they do.

The problem is now so deeply seated within the establishment and the way that both Politicians and public figures behave that very little actually stands up to scrutiny under anyone who can still be bothered to cast a critical eye.

Relationships of all kinds with the Electorate and the Public at large are being obliterated.

Our trust and faith in institution has been abused. But until now, until this excuse of a process for Leaving the EU, the rock had not been lifted upon all the darkness that lies in the system beneath.

It has taken the rebellion of our elected representatives against a clear democratic instruction to show and give the lie to everything that for so long was accepted as credible, now demonstrated as being rotten, actively misrepresented and in no way what it has been presented as, and is in fact, the opposite extreme.

The Will of the People is no grey area. It is not a policy which itself can be negotiated, redirected, chopped and changed. The Will of the People is clear, definite and no excuse can, should or will ever justify any kind of excuse or attempt to ignore it or overturn it, no matter how right or justified the party behind such a move might believe their efforts to be.

It is not for any elected representative to dictate that those who elected them are in any way wrong.

To do so delegitimises the very act of their own election. It indicates that the democratic process leading to their appointment is also flawed and therefore wrong.

It doesn’t matter what these intransigent MPs say, think or do. No amount of time. No amount of obfuscation. No amount of fear mongering will bring legitimacy to their actions or that which they do.

Deep down this rum majority of MPs know this, even if they cannot bring themselves to be open about it and act upon it as they should.

That is why Brexit is where it is.

That is why people are being lied to about Brexit.

That is why we are being sold lie after lie which contradicts the truth that a clean, full, meaningful and no-deal Brexit for the UK will actually be extremely good and much better for us all – the real People across this Country than continued entanglement with the EU ever would.

So MPs, cut the excuses and the bullshit that you have framed our once world-respected political system with as you have smashed it into the ground.

Give us the proper Brexit that we voted for.

Stand back, let us finally Leave on the 12th of April and do your job to facilitate the Will of the People as your were instructed to do so democratically; as we expected and trusted that you would when we elected you, and as you know deep down that you should.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever the Brexit deal, our inability to leave at will makes it a prison cell and arbitration will not be a key to unlock the door

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Whilst the whole exercise has been played up as a cause for hope that May’s tragedy of a ‘deal’ will pass in the next two weeks, the reality of Geoffrey Cox being sent off to Brussels to negotiate a by-pass to the Backstop, has been nothing more than an elaborate play on time.

The fact that the goalposts have now moved to a discussion with the EU which has already again ruled out a time clause or unilateral exit mechanism, and moved on to a one-sided debate about arbitration instead should be telling everyone, everything once again that they should already know.

May’s deal is not a deal. It is a deliberate, intentional and malevolent trap which will be the equivalent of a prison cell for the UK, unless we retain the ability to walk away from it unilaterally and without the consent of any other party, at any time.

That the EU are currently insisting that an arbitration mechanism would have to involve the ECJ again demonstrates just how essential it is to them that the deck is not only stacked in their favour, but in respect of Brexit, is well and truly rigged.

Even if Cox should succeed in an agreement for a third-party system of arbitration without the ECJ being involved which could be argued as being impartial and therefore fair, it’s use overlooks the fact that arbitration, mediation, dispute resolution or any other system of negotiation that you could ever wish to involve in circumstances in any way similar to these, only determines the terms under which an agreement is or can be reached, and how things go forward from that point thereafter.

Arbitration is not a system that is there to make the decision to do something for anyone. It is about method and nothing more.

To use arbitration as a method of making a choice would in effect be the surrender of decision making responsibility to a third and non-involved party to make that choice for and on behalf of one and/or both parties.

It takes the decision at the very heart of the problem away from the two constituent parties that are involved.

That is why the EU will not even consider the option unless it’s own Court system, the ECJ is the elected arbitrator and therefore the decision would always be beneficial to them rather than the UK.

It is both sad and highly regrettable that so many opportunities have been missed to stop Theresa May and for the whole Brexit process to have been taken a different and fundamentally beneficial-to-the-UK way.

Now, the excuse we have for a Parliament is on the verge of selling out everything to nothing more than Foreign Rule, because the EU have placed a very good bet that Remainers and those other Politicians in the majority who cannot see beyond their own fears and self interest, would cave in at the last minute and back this travesty of a so-called agreement which is the bastard child and legacy of Theresa May.

Whilst Malthouse offered a sensible compromise for anyone who genuinely wanted to find a collective way forward, such plans are and never were in the favour of Prime Minister May.

The only option available to any MP who wants to see Brexit delivered and democracy in this Country existing after the time of May is to vote down May’s deal yet again and then vote for a no-deal exit on the 29th of March the following day.

Yes, the maths in Parliament now means that a delay is more likely than not. But the certainty that would have been available to this Parliament if May had been removed earlier is no longer available as a choice.

So without the control which is simply not present within any of the current choices, riding the wave and making the right decision each and every time there is one to be made is the only way that the right result for the People will be reached and a real Brexit delivered in the end.

Brexitocracy

February 27, 2019 Leave a comment

It would be nice to think that getting frustrated with the Brexit process is an experience available only to those who follow everything going on very closely. Sadly it is not. And whilst those of us who look closely at the implications of everything that our Politicians are or are refusing to do, the reality is no different for those who perceive Politics and the Brexit process from a much greater distance, feel the difference without any need to elucidate it, and have a much more real-world take on the realities of Leave vs. Remain.

The short-sightedness, short mindedness and short memories of our MPs is illustrated particularly well in relation to Brexit by the fact that as a majority they still have no understanding of what actually caused it and continue to play out the idea that they actually know better than the People they govern, by readily continuing to commit the same mistakes over and over again.

With Government now at a point of stagnancy which is hard to describe, we are in danger of overlooking the real impact of this constipated state of governance that we have found ourselves in, and are just as likely to forget the significant, yet intricate chronology of events that have taken place under the auspices of the Coalition, Cameron and May Governments, and what the impact of this whole style of politics is going to have in the future, even if their modus operandi should prove successful and the UK is temporarily forced to Remain.

I have focused on the short-termism in the attitudes and outlooks of politicians, as this is an umbrella which covers a whole multitude of problems, issues and time bombs which are being stored up for the immediate and long term future, but which will be forgotten if not by accident then on purpose.

Today we have inept leadership at the forefront of an incompetent Parliament.

Politicians are driven by anything and everything other than that which they should be.

They are fearful of their own shadows, and above all have a cultural default position of prioritising self-interest that culminates in an influence upon all decision-making and boils down to self-preservation and maintaining the prospect of retaining their positions above all else and everything.

To call today’s Parliamentarians legislators would be disingenuous whilst remming technically correct as they are merely playing a game in all that they do.

For they are collectively stewarding a vehicle which is no better than a banana republic, whilst lording it around telling everyone very loudly why they are justified to do all that they are or are not doing.

Today this can be distilled down to the badge of delivering a form of Brexit which will only ever be Brexit in name.

The inaction or misacting of which they are responsible, whether innocently driven by those who should never have been entrusted with a level of public responsibility that they do not understand, or deliberately by those who once elected immediately believe they know better than the People who actually elected them is a distinct form of politics and it should have its own name.

Brexitocracy will surely be remembered for a form of government where nothing changes and everything stays the same.

No matter what words may be different; no differences will ever be made.

The Politicians and the Political Parties involved have key stakes in the furtherance and propagation of a system which is not only broken, but simply doesn’t work and ultimately will only deliver benefit to those who are involved.

The Politicians and Parties will not step aside. They will happily blame the environment around them for their faults, but will never turn around their analysis and look at the causes of all their problems and ultimately our problems, which have been generated from within their inside.

First Past the Post (FPTP) is not the problem.

When Politicians are genuinely in touch with the needs and aspirations of the Electorate, the Party, collective or group of Independents that tap into this will almost always be guaranteed a landslide.

Proportional representation is the tool of politicians who are continually looking to others to make responsible for their own ineptitude, inadequacy and guilt. It is the easy way out and a tool for lazy politicians who covet the power of being elected, but don’t want to actually connect with the electorate that they should be there to represent.

Brexit itself is the culmination of many different problems that have been coming together and manifesting as broken policy over decades and many different governments and parliamentary terms.

It was the decision of David Cameron to set a new precedent by going to the People with a plebiscite in which they willingly took that responsibility from those who had resigned their responsibility, which finally broke the mould.

The genie is now well and truly out of the bottle and there is no way that the UK can ever be returned to the condition that Europhiles romantically recall as being ‘Remain’.

The direction of travel is now that the People are committed to leaving the EU and if this cannot be achieved under the auspices of one team of caretakers who have gone native in Europe, it will simply wait until a new government or new form of government takes over and sweeps aside the malevolent interventions and obfuscations of all those who are currently involved.

 

 

If the ERG want Brexit, they must lead it. The time has come to split the Conservative Party and prepare for a General Election

February 27, 2019 Leave a comment

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For me, Theresa May’s resolve to Remain and call it something else was never in doubt. But the cost of what she and her coterie of Remainers has and continues to do to this Country and our democracy is something else.

Whilst I am far from alone in anticipating that Brexit could finally split the Conservative Party once and for all, events this week suggest that the time has come where the benefit of the ERG and Brexiteer contingent remaining within Theresa May’s interpretation of mainstream conservatism is now severely outweighed by the disadvantages – especially in view of what is likely to come.

From the outside perspective, there is little doubt that the point of no return came when May won the December no confidence vote and became all but immovable for the 12 months ahead.

The Prime Minister has been the key component in a direction of travel which has brought us to the point where Remainers are now on the verge of successfully cancelling Brexit via indefinite delay.

Whilst May has been helped every step of the way by the contingent of Remain Ministers, there is little doubt that undeserved trust in the holder of the Office of British Prime Minister has regrettably contributed to previously avoidable difficulties with Brexit, many of which are yet to come.

Put bluntly, the only clear way to ensure that the Brexit which the British People Voted for is now delivered, is to replace the currently Remain-led Parliamentary majority with one which will prioritise the needs of the Electorate above their own, and deliver Brexit properly, without compromise and in every way and sense necessary to ensure that everyone, whether Leavers or Remainers will benefit from our post-Brexit opportunities just the same.

This outcome will not be possible if the political party structures, biases and motivations are the same as they are now, when the next General Election is called.

Above all, if there is to be any genuine ‘conservative’ influence over where we then go, that Election must be faught without the current Prime Minister remaining in post. That means either an election build up away from her sphere of influence, or the removal of May from No.10.

In reality, nobody under the Brexit wing of the Conservative Party should now genuinely believe that May will step aside anytime soon.

The passing of a vote of no confidence in May’s Government is the only way she will now be toppled before 2022. And with the dynamic in Parliament changing almost daily, it means that splitting the Conservative Party and going it alone has to now be the immediate, strategic, responsible and calculated choice for those who know that for democracy and the People to win through, there is a different way.

Support would flock to the banner of a new party committed to Brexit, but equipped to provide a policy platform which reaches way beyond the very specific set of issues relating to our relationship with Europe. Support of the kind necessary to create a party machine in the timescale required which is professional, fully funded and capable of forming a government in a matter of months.

An ERG breakaway and the momentum behind it offers a vehicle capable of doing all these things. It is unlikely to come from any other direction or evolve in any other form.

The key to realising that there is a great opportunity to deliver much better for us all, is for the Brexiteer MPs involved to start looking beyond their own echo chambers, to the world outside Westminster, outside of the Conservative Party, across the wide range of Leave supporters from all traditional Party backgrounds and to the needs and expectations of an entire Nation waiting to be inspired, which is sitting waiting with great concern beyond.

Any MP who cares about the will of the People has this chance to stand out for the right reasons or wait to be pushed out for all the wrong ones.

We, the People, are fed up with the contemptuous behaviour of those who we have entrusted to represent us in Government and repaid us by throwing that trust back in our faces.

It necessarily follows that the time is coming for change.

Please ERG and Leaver MPs from wherever you are, be the change now.

Show us all that there are still some politicians left at Westminster who have the integrity and courage to take all the steps required to do what is expected and necessary, but above all, what is genuinely right.

Well, what did you expect?

February 26, 2019 Leave a comment

img_2694Obvious as it has appeared to be time and time again already, the Welching of Brexit has finally reached the point where it is all but impossible to deny.

In a statement delivered to the House of Commons at lunchtime, Theresa May officially opened the doors to extending Article 50.

This is an act that anyone who has studied the mayhem playing out from this Prime Ministerial Tragedy since 2016 will know to be significant, in that it is within the no-mans land which lies beyond the failure of this Parliament to take us out of the EU on 29th March 2019, where its real legacy of a non-Brexit or rather its Brexit betrayal will be completely defined.

In her speech to Parliament, the Prime Minister laid out a series of votes  to be held on (or before) the 12th, 13th and 14th March 2019 that in their very being, outline the framework of what the majority of our MPs believe. They make clear the depth of the gargantuan divide between what our Elected Representatives intend to work for and what the People instructed them to deliver in the European Referendum on 23rd June 2016.

May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (by 12th March)

 

The first of the three votes will be a return of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that was so crushingly defeated only a few weeks ago.

Whilst Ministers still trot out the line that it is the best deal available, the reality is that it is no such thing.

May’s Withdrawal Agreement ties us into the EU project even more closely that we are now. It gives us even less influence and provides no mechanism for us to depart under our own steam.

May never has any intention of pursuing a meaningful change to the Agreement with the EU that would either provide us with a unilateral exit mechanism or for the Backstop to be strictly time-bound.

It is clear that she and her coterie haven’t even asked, and that even if they had, as far as the EU was concerned, it was a request that would have always been denied.

Instead, there has been much rumour and lip service paid to a codicil or rewording of the political statement which accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement, which we should all now know would be cleverly be interpreted by the PM or her legal advisors as being a change which is legally binding for the purposes of this audiences, but when it comes to something we could expect the EU to honour, would never have even the remotest form of equivalence.

This will be a vote on Brexit in name only (Brino).

It is a plan to Remain in the EU, devised and delivered by Remainers.

It is not Brexit and not what the British People voted for.

Leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ on 29th March (by 13th March)

 

The second of the three votes would be to Leave the EU on the 29th March 2019 with ‘no deal’.

This is the only vote available to Parliament that will now ensure the proper Brexit that honours the Result of the European Referendum.

It will also be the most defining. Because this vote will directly record the action of each and every MP in respect of their support for Leaving the EU or seeking to Remain, contrary to the Will of the People.

Be under no illusion. There has never been any need for a ‘deal’ to Leave the EU. It is only the actions of these very same Remainer MPs as they have sought to obstruct, redirect and prevent Brexit that have guaranteed that the UK may not be as well prepared for a ‘no deal’ departure as we would have been.

Things would have been very different if they had got on with doing what they had been instructed to do in 2016, rather than spend most of the time since trying to work out how they could ensure the result was denied.

Whilst many cannot currently see it, it is only from the position of Leaving the EU without precondition, obligation or agreement of any kind, that we will then be able to lead the reconstruction of a relationship with the EU which promises to bridge the UK’s Brexit divide.

You cannot negotiate the future when you are obsessed with the past.

Sadly, the dynamic of our current Parliament, which doesn’t collectively believe that the Will of the People should be upheld, means that this vote will more likely than not be lost.

That is unless there is an attempt to precipitate a chaotic no deal departure as a cloud covering the intention behind a result that would lead to a very different thing.

The third of the three votes would be to extend Article 50 (by 14th March)

 

Regrettably, now May has explicitly made this option available, it is where we are most likely to end up, even though Conservatives are now likely to see the true split in the Party undeniably illustrated in all its glory and for all to see.

Forget talk of the Malthouse Compromise or any other ‘plan’ that could provide a credible rescue of Brexit whilst this Parliament is still in place.

May won’t accept anything other than her own plan as the way in which Brexit will be defined and now that she has had to move her own trip wire as the result of threats from Ministers who should have already resigned, she will only see the delay as a further opportunity to bring back exactly the same flawed Agreement.

Nothing has changed. Nothing will have changed. Nothing can change until May has gone from No.10.

A short extension in these circumstances will make no difference.

A longer one will only open up greater opportunities for Remainers to thwart Brexit and for the EU to demand even more from the UK within an Agreement which under proper Brexit-derived leadership would itself never have seen light.

The reality of May’s Brexit Welch and the post-29th March Debacle

 

This Parliament is incapable of delivering a true Brexit under the leadership of Theresa May.

With a new Prime Minister, this Parliament will remain hamstrung and even with a new workable deal agreed with the EU or with a commitment to Leave on WTO Terms and build a relationship from there, the numbers simply don’t suggest that anything ‘clean’ can be achieved whilst the current Parliamentary dynamic remains in force.

This should be of concern to us all, as there is the potential for this saga to continue until at least 2022, with incalculable consequences that could reach out way beyond.

General Election?

 

The default setting for sorting out a Parliamentary mess like this is to call a General Election.

The problem is that the Political Parties remain the same.

They are not offering anything any different to what they have been and what they are now, and that even if new names were to be elected, they would come back and offer us all exactly the same thing that they are right now.

Exciting as the launch last week of the Independent Group last week might to some feel, they are not offering anything different. In fact they are more like a refined or distilled version of everything that is wrong with politics in this Country today. They would be best suited to the mantra ‘do as I say, whilst I do otherwise and certainly don’t pay attention to anything that I do’.

Likewise, the Brexit Party may well be destined by a failure to launch and suffer many of the same problems that faced UKIP. It’s not because there isn’t validity and support for what it is they are trying to do. But because the viewpoints providing influence are far too narrow and where organisation and administration is concerned, there is a significant absence of professionalism involved.

To make a General Election work in the way that it now should, we actually need a completely new Party that is as diverse in its policy outlook as it is in its membership. Is professional, well funded, but above all motivated by and to deliver what is genuinely in the best interests of all – no matter how hard the process might be.

None of the existing Parties can offer this. TIG is not capable and the Brexit Party already looks too much like the single issue of Brexit will be the nature of its complete stall.

When you look at it all this way and consider the implications of the constipated democracy that we now have, it is very difficult to work out what we might now have in store.

Our current MPs wish to avoid a General Election at all costs. They would inevitably run again if one was called, and because of the current nature of the system, in many cases would find themselves being successfully recalled.

They wont stand down and step aside for others to take their place. And in times like these, there will now be an increasing number of us who find ourselves internalising a very alarming question.

Has the time arrived when this Country could be susceptible to a Coup?

 

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images thanks to unknown

Yes – Taxi Driver Qualification could be tighter, but further centralisation of the rules will discriminate against good driver applicants as well as bad

February 12, 2019 Leave a comment

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One of the most tragic ways that MPs and Politicians fail the Electorate, is by giving excessive weight to the advice and input from membership organisations that sell and portray themselves as representative of entire demographics or communities. For they are susceptible to the very same biases, tunnel vision and levels of self interest on the part of their representatives and leaders that the MP would be expected to consider if they were just talking to any one person alone.

All too often, Ministers who have little or no real-world experience of their brief or the wherewithal to understand at an intrinsic level, what someone is telling them who has, respond in knee-jerk fashion to what these organisations tell them. They are under the misapprehension that the words of such representatives genuinely reflect the will and desires of whole swathes of the Electorate, when reality is that they seldom do any such thing.

With four years experience as a Licensing Chair which ended in 2015, I was intrigued to hear the news that the Government is now to Consult on changing the qualification rules for Taxi, Hackney and Private Hire Drivers. The direction of travel suggested being to emphasise that the rules governing their Regulation should become more uniform, and therefore centralised so that an applicant or driver dealing with one Licensing Authority would now be effectively dealing with them all as one.

In principle this sounds good. There is definitely a disconnect between the reality that Drivers are often only Registered or ‘Licensed’ by one Local Authority, but in almost every case other than a large Licensing Area such as London, they will cross into the jurisdiction of at least one and possible many others perhaps as often as every day.

This does indeed leave grey areas over infringements in the regulatory sense. But more importantly where existing Taxi Drivers and their Operating Companies are concerned, there is a big issue over outsiders treading on toes. Vehicles from other areas are perceived to be stealing business from ‘local firms’ with the subsequent suggestion that the Authority Licensing that ‘outsider driver’, employs a policy where anything goes.

Because Taxi Licensing Policy is open to localised tweaks, additions and therefore non-adoption of policies which might have been adopted elsewhere too, it is easy to give fictitious credence to the arguments that roll away from myth that every Authority is run differently.

The reality is that the rules governing all forms of Licensing are already heavily centralised, have been set in London and in the main part with basic issues like qualification, are pretty much consistent wherever you might go.

Unfortunately, the Taxi Lobby has form when it comes to influencing Politicians to change rules for their own ends.

A decade ago, changes to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 closed a loop-hole preventing private drivers from gaining a fee for transporting Special Educational Needs Students between their homes, schools and colleges. Sold as a way to raise safety standards, the outcome of this ring-fencing of local authority contracts to a the closed audience which lobbied for it landed Local Educational Authorities with an average additional annual bill of at least £1 Million, without any indication that the benefit to the end user at larger was in any way improved.

Yes, there is always a need to make sure that the rules are tight. But rules can also be twisted to benefit those with the most to gain whilst there is a significant cost to others.

We should all be very concerned about the potential for further regulation which is being sold as being in the best interests of the Public, that may actually only favour particular types of operators, has the potential to price others out of the marketplace and put up prices for all customers.

All this at a time when Taxis themselves are increasingly the only lifeline available for people disadvantaged by the remote nature of their communities, where commercialisation of public services has failed them more than perhaps most.

Like Planning Law, which is often perceived mistakenly as being set locally by District Level Authorities, Licensing is predominantly set centrally already. It is just interpreted in the main part by Local Licensing Authorities.

In what is a typically quasi-judicial setting that some would recognise as not being massively dissimilar to the Magistrates Court, applications and reviews that cannot be determined by Officers under delegated powers are heard by a panel or bench of three of the Council’s Licensing Committee Members.

Within such a setting, there is regrettably always a chance that because of the inconsistency in the quality, approach and motivation of local Politicians – as with Parliament – that you will get a different outcome from a hearing. It is very much dependent upon who is sitting, who is chairing and facilitating, how they interpret the evidence given, how they are advised by Licensing Officers and yes – just because it’s the way that it all went that day.

It is here that there is real inconsistency within the Licensing system.

But this inconsistency needs to be tackled with measures put in place to ensure that there is consistency in determinations, that impartiality is the guiding factor in all outcomes and that nobody sitting in ‘judgment’ is allowed to influence a decision because of personal bias, experience or because they are on a power trip and want to get their own way that day.

The risk in moving towards a national form of Licensing administration is that it will remove what little flexibility is left within the system. Flexibility that needs to be monitored and improved, but not overlooked, forgotten or ignored.

Not everyone wants to be a Taxi Driver. Many people take on the role as an in-between to keep themselves working whilst the move between other things. Some take on the work because they do not like being employed but do not want the responsibility of being self-employed in the generally accepted sense and are as such making the very best of things that they can.

Yes, there have been some very serious cases of Taxi Drivers abusing the responsibility and the trust that they have been given. But whilst what those individuals have done is wrong, the cases that are now being used as a reference point for changing the whole industry are statistically very few, and like in many areas where Government Policy is being used to pursue the passions of the few, there is an inherent danger to this of the tail being used to wag the whole dog.

The signifiant danger is that by appearing to tighten up rules which are already working well – when you consider that you will never create the perfect system, there are many would-be Taxi Drivers who could be assets to an industry which itself is facing challenging times, which will be denied entry to these roles at an incalculable cost.

People who could now, through the further synchronisation of rules be excluded because of the already overzealous nature of decision making in the public sphere, where risk of any kind – which includes giving people the benefit of the doubt when they are turning their lives around or are leaving mistakes made in their youth a long way behind – would be in much shorter supply.

Dehumanising the system might be reflective of the world at large, but the disadvantage and cost of such steps will be much more far-reaching than what will only ever be a perceived and tangible benefit to very few.

image thanks to unknown

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