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No Politician can control the rebalancing process now underway. There is pain ahead and a decision for us all to make before we will get through this to where the UK needs to be

September 24, 2021 2 comments

If you are looking for the reasons behind all the things that are now going wrong, whether it is staff shortages, petrol and diesel running out, empty supermarket shelves, escalating gas and electricity prices, the rapid rise of the cost of living or ‘real’ inflation that we will soon recognise as hyperinflation, or the motives behind vaccine passports, the first and most important thing you need to know and understand is that everything is linked.

No. Not by Brexit. In fact, Brexit was just another symptom of a much deeper set of problems that all began in the very same place.

Yes. Crazy as it might sound, all of the problems we know about and are yet to come don’t have logical explanations that some economist, financier or academic can explain – although they will almost certainly try. But the events we are talking about do all have a lot of common ground.

Before I go any further, I’d like to ask you if you think the world as you experience it is really fair? It doesn’t matter whether it’s the cost of the things you buy and the services you pay for, access to the opportunities that you or the people close to you are looking for, perhaps the provision of public services or local public policies and how that affects you. I’d like to bet that you have questions about one or more of these, and probably many more.

The question is important as we are all perhaps a little bit guilty of taking things that don’t seem all that important at face value. Regrettably, this means that when things happen that hurt us or our life experience in some way, we have a habit of behaving as if we are experiencing this event or difficulty alone, rather than taking the time to think about what might really be happening or how the same thing might be affecting other people who could also be involved.

The way that the media operates makes this rather strange situation even worse. They have a habit of channelling stories that make events that have a very low risk of ever happening to us seem very real to everyone. Meanwhile, the real tragedies that are unfolding in our own lives and around all of us are downplayed or not mentioned at all so that we continue with our lives thinking that we are perhaps being over dramatic or even reaching the conclusion that these real problems that people are facing simply don’t exist.

We aren’t doing anything wrong by not seeing what is happening but is being either innocently (on our part) or deliberately (on the part of media, government and the establishment) hidden in plain sight. But we do owe it to ourselves to ask the questions that need to be asked now that we are heading into a period of what is likely become prolonged crisis, so that we can do our part to ensure that the right people are in place to run the Country and put all of the problems right.

I’m drawing your attention to the question of who will run the Country, because it is the people who have been running the Country and those who are running the Country now who are at the root of the common part of all the problems that we are experiencing now and will soon face.

It is the greed, obsession with material wealth and culture of self interest that fuels this political culture and all the people and businesses that either support or influence them which has led them to making all of the destructive and damaging decisions that they have.

In many cases they are so absorbed with the furtherance of their own goals and the methods that they will use to achieve them, that they genuinely see their own cause as being ours.

They do not look at the policy decisions they are making through the eyes of people who have understanding, empathy for others, or who genuinely care. And the result is that one by one policies that affect the public have been created or changed to help the interests of the few, with an inevitable cost to the many, with follow up decisions to cover the problems they then create being made in exactly the same ways.

It is a vicious, negative spiral that has increasingly left a minefield of life-changing obstacles across the pathway of normal life, where the poorest members of society should be those who can choose to do and are able to do a basic job, because that’s all they need to support themselves without debt, and anything else they might choose to do is met with encouragement and open doors, rather than the barriers to entry that outright selfishness and stupidity in leadership has led to create.

The politicians and would-be ‘leaders’ that we have, really are stupid in the most self-orientated and collectively destructive sense. The only strategy they have is to make every decision based upon what is best for them and as such there really is no genuine public centric strategies in place. They have not brought us here by any means of genuine control, despite being under the illusion that what they do means that they are ‘in charge’, and as the public policy play book has less and less historical case history available to guide them in these unchartered waters that we now face, it will become increasingly and more rapidly clear that they are less and less in control of events until everything finally breaks.

Those ‘leading’ this Country today and sitting in the Parliament behind them are the politicians that we need to replace with real public representatives who have the wherewithal, motivation and experience that will be necessary to deal with all of the problems that having a broken political culture has helped to create.

Worse before better

So ingrained within the system of government and the public sector are these root causes of the problems we now have ahead of us, that the challenges we now face were already developing and progressing before the Covid Pandemic began. The Government handling of the Pandemic and its response to it only serving to worsen the problems and supercharging an already deteriorating situation by adding to the list and magnitude of the issues that we no longer have a choice to face.

Regrettably, this means that things are going to get significantly worse for us All before there is any chance that they can begin to get better. And to add to the pain that many of us will experiencing ahead, we are where we are because we have already run out of luck with the politicians that we have, and we will not be looked after properly at any point until they are removed from power and this rancid political culture is no longer involved.

As we awaken to the trouble that we are really in, it is important that we recognise that the role this political culture and all the Political Parties have played in the creation of the mess means that none of them can be trusted to steer us through what might be years of crisis. They are certainly not the people who we can expect to deliver solutions that will solve all the problems that all of them together have contributed to and made.

Never has there been a truism or quote more accurate than the words of Albert Einstein when he said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Difficult times require stability. In the past, we have been able to rely upon the stability of political leaders who knew how to lead and delegate to the right people, who understood the lives of others, were prepared to take considered risks and were able to put something much bigger than them before anything else – even at the most difficult and trying moments they had. The politicians we have today are simply not the same and to stick with them when all they want to do is defer to self interest and fear would be doing the same thing over again and would as such be completely insane.

A period of ‘natural’ Rebalancing

We do of course exist in a period of human history where everyone with power and influence really thinks that they are in control of the things that they do and that they can control just about everything that comes under the scope of their responsibility. Regrettably for them – and therefore for us, this simply isn’t true.

Whilst it might sound a little bit ‘Earth Mother’, the bigger picture to any situation where there is practical reality at work will be part of some kind of ecosystem. Ecosystems of all kinds develop around a point of natural balance and when something interferes with that balance, there will either come a point where the elasticity of the system is stretched too far and everything is pushed back, or the system itself will actually break. Yes, the system will adapt to and absorb very small changes. But there are laws at work which are ‘natural’ to any system, and simply ignoring them either through ignorance or by deliberate act will ultimately blow the whole thing apart.

The greed and self interest that this political culture has perpetuated and upheld for so long has reached the point where the wider ecosystem has stretched its elasticity to the point of no return.

The system will now break completely – if the political class and self-interest that feeds it is allowed to continue. The alternative is that things must return to a point of balance which is fair to all and to the environment – and that means having new leadership that is not obsessed with control, but with making each decision on its own merits, without relying on long term plans or strategies that in very uncertain times like we are now in – just like being in a war – are not going to work.

A New Party For All

We can no longer exist as we have been, in a situation where benefits to the few have come at significant and growing cost to us all.

The cost cannot be measured just in terms of the financial – although many will still think of it all being only in material terms that the world works.

The cost is also in terms of things like the really meaning, reach and existence of community and how that impacts upon every life, and most importantly, the way that relationships have been progressively dehumanised, and we are being culturally conditioned not to care about others, whilst never looking at ourselves when we have received a life lesson – instead always looking outwards and others for a target upon which to apportion blame.

People are increasingly talking about alternatives to the politicians that we have already got. But what many of them don’t realise is that although they might not be members of the same political parties, they are thinking in the same ways and in relative terms are doing just the same things. In fact, its pretty important to understand that if any of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties were not already in Parliament and in the public eye and were started from scratch right now and faced a closed, monopolistic political system as we do, the way they operate and the policies they further as a cause would mean that they would not have a hope of gaining power – without embracing what for all of them would be very significant philosophical change.

We all must think differently about politics now and accept that we can no longer continue the way that we previously have.

We need a movement for change or A New Party For All that reaches out to, engages and works on behalf of and in the best interests of everyone. So that no matter how bad things get for us in the months and years ahead, we can be sure that the public representatives we have are always working on our behalf and will never fail to do the very best for us that they can.

#ANewPartyForAll

Single issue Parties or Movements (Covid Related) don’t win General Elections (All-issue), especially in a climate when there are so many other issues that people face

September 8, 2021 Leave a comment

What’s the number one issue of our time?

Covid? Education? Lockdowns? Social Care? Vaccine Passports? Black Lives Matter? The Driver Shortage? Afghanistan & The West’s Relationship with Islam? Labour failing as the Opposition? Brexit? Freedom of Speech? The ‘Great Reset’? Cross-Channel Immigration? Social Mobility? Cancel Culture? The Cost-of-Living Crisis? The Housing Crisis? Inflation? China? Knife Crime? A Conservative Government?

The chances are that for you the answer could be any one of the above, or none of them at all. And of those, the way that you see that issue could itself be different than any number of other people, who could again think differently about the same issue as everyone else.

Yet the most difficult and challenging thing to get your head around when you think about issues affecting the public in this way, is that nobody is wrong. Different people just see the same things in different ways because their experiences of them and of life up to that point have been different. And it is important to recognise and accept that in this broadest sense, no matter how many different views of the same situation exist, none of them are wrong.

With all that is going on in the world around us, it may seem like a strange time to be discussing the mechanics of how different people think. But with Government and therefore the Public Sector which it runs effectively out of control, a moment in time like this one may never have previously existed where the importance of recognising the mechanics of the differences between us has been so important for us all to absorb.

My motivation for writing this blog – like a number of them before, is the situation that we collectively face going forward, where a so-called Conservative Government has been making and implementing decision after decision both in response to Covid and also before, based not on what’s best for the Public, but based on what’s good for the politicians and what’s best for all of ‘them’.

Regrettably, we are walking through an age or chapter of our history where experience doesn’t matter, but the platform and profile you have most certainly counts. So, irrespective of how the voice or speaker got there, if that voice has something to say about the issues that we relate to in the way that we relate to them too, they become the voice of reason and the one that we choose to follow – no matter what the real nuts and bolts of these or the wider issues might well involve.

You may listen to one or more of those voices yourself. People who speak passionately and knowingly about one, or perhaps several of the different issues that I listed above. Yet the problem that we all face, often without even knowing it, is that the outcomes that we want in respect of the issues that we want addressed can only be achieved if we apply the same approach to all the different issues that are important to everyone.

People want change. Yet at the same time that they see so many people saying the same things that they think, feel and believe, nothing seems to be changing. Instead, it all just seems to be getting worse and worse.

The things that you feel are the ones that need to be changed, can be changed. But those things important to you will only be changed if you can see, feel and embrace the importance of all the other issues that everyone else is facing too.

Those lined up or lining up against the Johnson Government today appear to be great in number. But when the next General Election comes, which is planned for 2024 but is likely to be a lot sooner, there will no alternative available on the ballot papers right across the Country for anyone or anything political that is doing the work necessary to connect all of us and all of our issues – no matter how different – with policies and an approach that is as effective as it needs to be, whilst doing all that is necessary to reach across.

There will be The Reclaims, The Reforms, and many others who are selling change and a difference to what we already have in the way that they see it. Yet the elephant in the room for all of them is and will continue to be that they are behaving as if the problems we collectively face are just one issue, overlooking the reality that the only reason UKIP, The Brexit Party and Vote Leave won EU Elections and the EU Referendum was that people saw those votes as being purely about just one issue or thing.

I have no interest in doing any of the voices who speak on behalf of these or many other organisations down. In fact, I would like all those who oppose this tyrannical and self-serving form of government come together and do all the things necessary so that we can collectively succeed as one.

But coming ‘together’ in the way that it will need to happen in order for us to succeed will simply not happen whilst all of them look at our political system and continue to think that this situation or any of the problems we face can be solved by rattling on about only one thing.

Furthermore, it is not enough simply to pay lip service to all the other issues and think that by publishing manifestos or any other kind of marketing-based ‘promise’ that enough people will suddenly see and share the same point of view, and then propel you into government as the political option of choice.

To succeed now, you must connect. We must ALL connect.

People want to be treated and respected as adults again. Yet this is something that the political parties in parliament and our councils have long since forgotten to do. In fact, they are so drunk on the perception they have that voters have no choice but to vote for them, they no longer believe that connecting with the people is something they need to do.

They will not change whilst they retain or have any hope of obtaining power. And once they have been removed and have lost that, these are not the people we will want to give the same chances to hurt us all as they have been doing all over again.

Covid and everything related to it IS a single issue in electoral terms and so it is necessary for those who want freedom to return and embrace the conversation, debate and need to address all of the issues that are facing our society today, so that the electorate no longer believe that the only way the issue important to them have a chance of being solved is to see the existing mainstream Political Parties as the only option or choice.

Politics is a game and there is no way to escape this reality if you genuinely want to see us all embrace and facilitate change.

Single issue politics in a multi-issue political world will not solve any problem and it is only by becoming a multi-issue political movement that the single political issues for us all will ultimately be solved.

An Open Letter to all those who want change

August 17, 2021 1 comment

I’ve written a number of blogs that discuss the need for political change and the reality that we need a completely new, inclusive and all-issue-facing political party or movement to achieve this.

The challenge we face together is that too many of the people who feel passionate about that change believe that the next steps are all about dealing with politicians the way they themselves see politics to be, rather than taking all the steps necessary to tackle politics and the politicians we have the way that they really are.

We must be open to the ideas and efforts of others, whilst working collectively to channel and focus them all constructively so that we all approach the problems we face in the same way.

With this in mind, I have been very open to the idea of joining and supporting the work being done to establish a political alternative by others, and I recently responded to a call to action from someone with a public profile, who is trying to use their platform in a way they see as being beneficial to everyone.

With the experience and knowledge I have of politics, campaigning, activism and the workings of government itself, I quickly became aware that many of the others looking to become involved do indeed want change, but they want that change to materialise by staying within the safety of their own comfort zone sadly an approach that will not help anyone.

Regrettably, it is simply the case that tackling problems of the magnitude that we now face will not be achieved if everyone with a platform or an audience of some kind keeps demanding that everyone else has to do things their way, rather than doing them the way that will engage others and build a narrative that others will be committed to – because its something that they relate to and understand.

I felt it was right to lay out my stall. Below is a generic de-personalised and appropriately edited version of the e-mail that I circulated to the number of people who were given my contact details online:

***

Hello Everyone,

It’s great to be in touch with anyone who is fed up, frustrated and angry about what our politicians have done and are still doing.

What is clear, from looking at the messages that are circulating out there on social media, and from the approaches taken by the alternative political movement that are springing up, is that there are a lot of us and our numbers are rapidly growing. But, we are on different trajectories with our thinking, and probably what we want to get out of working with others, or what we believe we can achieve out of it too.

This would be absolutely fine if we were all only motivated by trying to create some kind of social network where we all have some kind of common cause.

Instead, we find ourselves facing a national crisis where a Government filled with politicians who really aren’t fit to represent themselves, let alone anyone else, have responded to the emergence of a nasty virus by forcing solutions on us all that deal with how things could be, rather than how they really are. All of this – and there’s no quick way for any of these politicians to be removed!

Clearly, we are all really happy that more and more people are at least beginning to talk about the things that are wrong. Yet with the different ideas we all have right now, the problem that we face together is rather like the scenarios of the Marvel Films ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’, where Dr Strange foresaw 14,000,605 outcomes for how the future could unfold, yet in only one of the possibilities would the Avengers actually win the war.

Right now, the need for change that we all see is different. Some of us see change being about stopping Lockdowns. Others believe change is about getting rid of masks and social distancing. There are many others who have concerns about the vaccines and use of vaccine passports too.

Of those people, many think that because they see all these things as being wrong, that somehow, perhaps through protests in London and attacks through social media, there will be a change of mind at the heart of Government, and in the thoughts of the people we see wearing masks and pushing the Government agenda back at us each and every day.

Regrettably, this will not be the case.

The opportunity that we have to change things is based on everyone working together. It will not lead to the result that we really do need from this, if we all keep focusing on our own views and experience of the past 18 months and keep pushing for the 14,000,604+ scenarios, rather than working together to get our response right from the start and deliver the winning 1.

It is important to understand that other people will not change their view of Covid or stop wearing masks because they are ridiculed, continually told they are wrong or even if the uncorrupted science is fully explained to them.

People who have been deliberately terrified by the Government need other people like you and I to give them confidence to fill the gap between what they were told by politicians they should have been able to trust and what we have all known to be the truth all along.

You might be surprised to learn that the number of people ‘against’ us, is much smaller than thought. A great many of the people you might see wearing masks and doing whatever the Government tells them are just law-abiding citizens, doing what they believe necessary and right, in the same way as none of us want to voluntarily pay tax, but inevitably do.

So, the job to be done, might not actually be as big for us all as it could be. But with a great proportion of the people that we need to see something new differently and as being credible in the way that will make enough of them want to go out and vote, it does mean that we MUST get everything, absolutely right.

This means tackling the issues that affect everyone, every day, and not just anything or everything to do with Covid – because focusing only on the few issues we feel important right now is not the way to reach everyone that we need to.

What won’t work for anyone in any good way now, is for the conversation, dialogue and brain storming that needs to happen – and that we are on the verge of starting or making even bigger – to be kept shut away and hidden behind closed doors.

We MUST take the risk of engaging with people who have very different perspectives to our own and have enough faith in the same people we would otherwise happily drink with, shop with, visit landmarks with and share our communities with, that they have something important to say about all of this too.

By tackling all the issues that this political class has either spent decades running away from or glossing over with our money that they have willingly overspent, we will be successful in identifying the common ground that we all need for the future and success of our whole Country. Above all else is, this is the roadmap to being successful in bringing everyone together to make life better for all of us too.

I will not be offended if I never hear a word from you and you simply ignore this blog. It is simply the case that the aim of delivering something better for everyone – including fixing the disaster which is this Government’s approach to Covid has and is proving to be – can only be achieved if we really get to grips with the need to work together and then do so positively and proactively as one.

The opportunity of working with others to tackle the problems that those currently in our political system have created can only be addressed by creating A New Party For All. Building a movement that we all want to be a part of over the coming months. So, at the time the opportunity to change all this comes – which regrettably will be at the next General Election – we have the right people ready to run as Candidates in every Parliamentary Constituency, have done all the work necessary and have the support network in place throughout all of our communities, to ensure that the majority of voters in this Country do not see there being any other credible choice.

We have the choice to start work today, so that we can have the change we need tomorrow.

Change will not come before. And it will be a disaster for us all if we get to the next General Election, go to our Polling Station and find that Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, none of the above and any of the other Parties that have been set up to follow particular agendas or the aims and ambitions of the people who lead them are all that we have for a so-called democratic choice.

Please do read this Blog I wrote back in May HERE, or share and start following the social media @ANewPartyForAll – which could be used to provide the foundation of what we need.

If you would like to understand better what we really need from politicians, please visit www.howtogetelected.wordpress.com and read the list of pages on the right from top to bottom, all the way through.

Whatever you do, I wish you all well with your campaigns, and hope that we will have the opportunity to meet soon.

Best wishes,

Adam

If you are worried about WEF taking control, why passively help them when you could be working to stop them and remove any Government stooges they might have?

We are living through and experiencing highly emotive times. Many of us are looking for explanations and even causes to blame for all the things that we are having to deal with.

In these circumstances it becomes a little more easy than it should to give credibility to the most obvious explanations, when we might help ourselvesand what we may see as our cause, by stepping back and having a look at the explanations that we may have overlooked. It’s worth doing, because conditioning or what we have learned to consider normal has given us a default understanding of certain things, leaving us with no discernible choice.

The way that the Covid Pandemic, or rather the Government handling of it has all rolled out, has been pernicious from the beginning. The effects of the decisions they have taken have been increasingly harder to deal with as it has become clear to many of us that policy is being enacted not through necessity, but because of what appears to be a political choice.

We grow up with what feels like a pre-programmed respect and deference for People in positions of responsibility, whether they are a GP, Dentist, Community Leader, Councillor or an MP. So when it comes to the Government and living through a time of national crisis that we today know as the Covid Pandemic, it is very easy to believe and even feel confident that there is genuine and thought out purpose to everything that those leading the Country do.

As the months have passed, what were coincidental mutterings about a ‘Great Reset’ coming from the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the start, picked up considerable credibility as an explanation for what was happening. Especially when the Johnson Government’s ardent misuse of Behavioural Science to control and manipulate everyone became very clear. And then the goalposts that Boris and his Ministers insisted were set in stone over vaccinations and data monitoring began to more at just about every turn.

I refer to this unhelpful intervention by the proponents of an exclusive club for people who think they are better and know better than anyone as a coincidence, because that really is all it need ever be.

Like most political conjecture wrapped up and sold as a policy proposal or plan, there is nothing so certain as the uncertainty of a successful outcome, and you can be sure that politicians and people with a public platform who know what they are doing will get in the way, if there is a way that they can.

Right now, because of their behaviour and commitment to very questionable ideas like Vaccine Passports and how it could lead to extensive personal data monitoring, it is very easy to believe that Boris and the ambitious zealots surrounding him are and have always been committed to a much bigger idea or ‘thing’. A thing that could easily be a ‘new world order’ along the impractically idealistic lines that the WEF suggest.

For the sake of argument at this point of my blog, let’s say that there really is a grand conspiracy and that the WEF leadership either created and spread Covid or used the opportunity it presents to take over the World. Doing so under the veil of protecting us and therefore making the whole thing resemble the creation of tyranny – all ushered in voluntarily, with our collective consent and therefore by choice – by the back door.

To do this, they would have to rely on us all being completely asleep and doing nothing to stop them. We would literally have to proactively fail to take any opportunity that we have to change the direction of the UK, so that we don’t arrive where they want us to be without even realising we had acquiesced and effectively made the passive choice to be where they wanted us to be.

If all of this is real – as I know many people genuinely believe it to be, it is very important to understand that attacks on those we blame on social media, public demonstrations and belittling anyone that we perceive to be against us is not helping our cause in any way. But it is playing right into their hands.

For better or for worse, we do have the benefit of a political system in place. For as long as that political system is still functioning, we have to let go of the arguments over who or what is right and making others wrong. We must remember that there are rules – or even a game to be played – that has to take place within an ecosystem that has rules that may seem archaic – but are nonetheless there. And that despite the heavy-handed and controlling way that the Government has been and still is behaving towards us, we do have a very meaningful choice.

The choice that we have – and it’s a good one – is to step up and do something constructive and proactive, rather than shouting and screaming in fear of what we think is coming, all because the government has pulled out a metaphorical gun.

No. I understand that talking to others online on social media, sharing our collective pain and then getting on a bus to march the Streets of London make us feel like we are doing something. But as soon as each of these acts of ‘defiance’ is over, we look up, we look back, we see that everything remains exactly the same. It’s just a different day.

This is how it will be again and again – not because we do not mean it. But because we are collectively failing to engage effectively and meaningfully with all the things that we must. That is of course, if we want to head off the looming disaster and ongoing enslavement that we are scared of and can accept that to change what others do, it is first necessary that we ourselves make a change.

Whether Boris the buffoon is just a puppet for a very sinister master, or the very stupid, ambitious and self-serving incompetent as I most respectfully believe him to be, making the choice that I am suggesting here will deal with either the WEF plan or remove this rancid political culture – irrespective of which future we are confident it is most likely to be.

The choice that we must make to take back control of our lives and put government and public services into the hands of people who actually care, is to look at all this in a different way, to think and believe that we are the political alternative to all of this. We must prepare to fight the next General Election together as that political alternative, and we must do everything necessary to build a grassroots-up rather than top-looking-down political movement that works for and embraces everyone, never questioning our ability to turn out when that Election is called and win.

If your car breaks, you take it to a mechanic. It’s vital to apply this practicality to winning a political fight too.

Having numerous well-meaning journalists, celebrities and other public figures heading up different movements that are developing in deceptively big echo chambers online may be resulting in lots of followers and a feeling that something is happening. But the egos, different personal agendas and failure to engage and work with others – ‘because they know better than anyone else’ is a guarantee that whatever they do independently will suffer from a failure to launch. It will mean that WEF and Boris (or others) as the perpetual world kings will remain our only choice.

Together, we must coalesce around a new movement. One that really does turn the concept that is todays British Political System on its head.

We need to build an organisation that generates its hope, purpose, momentum and strategies from the centre of each and every community, not just from an office in Westminster where real people have no influence, no power and therefor no choice.

This can all be done much more easily than you might think. It just takes the commitment that you might already be showing to bring truth and light to all of this darkness the Government is creating. You can use and contribute your energy and channel it into talking up, taking part and supporting this new movement for change in every way you possibly can. A serious and inclusive political movement that is something new, something good and something that has you, the people you care about and the communities you love, right at its heart.

PLEASE look beyond your anger with the Johnson Government. It is justified and it is very real. But it can be put to a much better use. A use that will help us all to deal with the fallout that the Johnson Government and many Governments before this one have caused. But above all, it will give us back the power of choice.

A New Party For All. Are you ready to make that call and start right here?

Best wishes to all.

#anewpartyforall

Yes, Farage, Dolan and many other ‘names’ could play a part in what comes next. But their ideas, their passion and their anger only cover parts of what the comprehensive change we need is all about

August 19, 2020 1 comment

To date I have made a conscious decision not to get involved in the threads or ongoing arguments on social media. I didn’t do it as a Councillor. I didn’t do it over Brexit. I’m not doing it with my feelings about the Lockdown, Social Distancing or the growing list of things that this Government has screwed up either.

The problem is that in the greater part, the debate, movement for change or whatever you wish to label it is transitory at best within this media ravaged age.

As we face the considerable challenges that this rancid political class have created for us, we need a movement and political vehicle that connects with the masses on a visceral level. Not just something in vogue that leads only to a ‘protest vote’ that doesn’t really dictate anything than a direction for the existing political classes, rather than establishing the change that we now need.

By protest vote, I am of course talking about Brexit, the Brexit Party, UKIP and the Anti Federalist League that led to its creation before that. Not because Leaving the EU wasn’t just or the right thing to do (I have no doubt that it was). But because for many of those people who dared to say NO to the establishment on a June day in 2016, the whole process was a safe opportunity to tell our political classes that their behaviour simply wasn’t right.

No matter what you say or how you present the detail of what is happening around all of us right now, people will only see what the Government and these politicians are doing and what they have done through the lens of their own experiences.

Yes, they will vote for something different if it makes sense in relationship to their life experience to do so. But that vote will be as far as the commitment goes unless a direction or way of doing things becomes safe or something that is encouraged to shout in public about.

Agreeing with something is a lot different to being that thing and living it. That is why the votes that worked for Vote Leave in the Referendum and the Brexit and UKIP parties in EU Elections simply evaporated when it came to making choices about the everyday things that really matter to people when a General Election came around.

It all worked out well for Boris in December because he managed to distance himself from the deliberate choice of the Establishment to attempt to overturn the will of the people over three years of Parliamentary intransigence.

The 2019 General Election was a comparative rarity in contemporary British politics. People from all sides came together to show they were collectively miffed about something and supported an established political party whether they would normally support them or not. Boris and this political class will not have that opportunity again.

Whilst many are accusing others of being asleep to what the Johnson Government is doing and has done, very few are awake to the reality that the activism that is growing against the Establishment and the choices that have been made by the Johnson Government are in danger of becoming just like another Brexit-type situation all over again.

We simply have too much to lose if all this new surge in activism succeeds in doing is convincing this Political Class to change direction – and they in turn then continue to change that direction behind closed doors in the ways that they then decide work best for them.

This is what happened before and what will inevitably happen again if WE do not get it right this time.

Right now, Nigel Farage is doing an epic job of shining a light on the issue of illegal immigration via the Channel from France. He was a pivotal player in the Brexit campaign and should have been sent to The Lords at the very least for his efforts by either May or Johnson by now – especially as the current Conservative Regime has now elevated people like Claire Fox who was on the same ticket and arguably did much less of the same thing.

Meanwhile, Simon Dolan is a new player to the whole political game and has made a name for himself by launching a legal bid to overturn the Lockdown in Court which he crowdfunded. Yes, he has launched #KBF or Keep Britain Free which on the face of it is seeking to become the recognised movement for change. But the libertarian strapline underpinning the wheels of this vehicle shine a light on the reality that the Brexit movement and #KBF are running the same kind of machine. One that is promoting a certain set of ideas that answer the immediate questions coming to people’s minds, but don’t do anything to demonstrate any understanding of the significantly wider issues that have led to this situation, or what their leadership would do if it were to run candidates and find itself with power after a democratic election – IF that is how the Johnson Government falls when this whole sorry saga comes to an end.

Both Farage and Dolan share passion for the delivery of the change that they personally see to be right. But that in itself is far from being enough.

We have had decades of politicians running on their own agendas with no understanding of the depth or breadth of the problems that the whole of society faces and why those problems exist.

Make no mistake, this is a level of understanding that is necessary before any attempt can be made to look with a comprehensive and discerning approach to what will and will not work as we go forward, or places any political movement as being able to lead others who do.

Facing the task of rectifying this mess is not as simple as saying ‘we are going to have a libertarian constitution’ and then expecting it will immediately be so simply because you have the majority in Parliament.

Ironically, Boris Johnsons string-puller-in-chief Dominic Cummings was correct in his view of the need for wholesale reform in Westminster. The problem with his approach is the same as would be experienced by Farage, Dolan, the anticipated ‘Reform Party’ or #KBF: You will not fix a problem and stop it from recurring if you cannot see how the processes of government and the public sector from the very top to the bottom and back up again works. You must have an appropriate level of respect for that before you kick off the process of change.

We simply have too much to lose as a Country, as communities, as people, as individuals by failing to get right what comes after this Government.

The reason that so much doesn’t make sense to people as they see everything unfolding in the media, is that there is much bigger picture at work. Not a conspiracy. Not a new world order or anything else that all too easily explains the gap that most of us have in our view of a very complex situation.

If we all continue to face this whole situation by dealing only with that we can see and not making allowances for that which we cannot, we are destined to have stupid politicians like Johnson, Sunak, Williamson and the rest in charge of our destiny forever and a day. Because we will never get around to fixing the problems with a system that will continue to put people just like them in power – whether they are Conservatives, Labour or anything else they want to call themselves – just the same as the Brexit Party, Reform Party or Keep Britain Free would be if they were in Government now without having changed their approach significantly to what they do.

The political landscape in this Country must now be wiped clean

October 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Many of our MPs talk about Brexit as if it is the cause of all the problems that we are experiencing today.

They should know better.

Self interest has been the driving force in British Politics for many years and probably decades too.

The Political Party system has developed around it and to all intents and purposes the three main Political Parties hold a virtual monopoly on access to Parliamentary seats, holding the keys to what has become a closed shop.

The Political Parties are set up and have been developed to propagate and maintain their own existence. They are there for nothing more.

They do this by religiously recruiting candidates in their own image. People who conform to their ideologies and ideals. People who are ruthlessly ambitious but do not possess independence of thought or the obvious ability to rock the boat. The system removes them as soon as they do.

The products of this enclosed political ecosystem have now began to reach the top. With the tenure of Theresa May and David Cameron already gone before, we are now witnessing in real time what happens when careerist politicians take over the reigns of government, when they have no knowledge or understanding of anything meaningful in the world beyond Westminster and what it takes to ‘get on’.

Brexit was the symptom of this broken political system.

It was not the cause.

Brexit was the act of lifting the stone which had been covering up everything that is wrong with British Politics. It exposed all of the crap and brought the creepy crawlies to sunlight. Brexit has opened up and shown the rot and disease that infests Westminster and Government to us all.

What has become clear after 3 years of this dreadful malaise is that we have never needed change in politics more than we do right now.

But with this broken, self-perpetuating system still in place, even if we have a General Election and have new MPs elected to Parliament, they will simply turn out to be worse than the representation we have now or at best exactly the same.

Just because we cannot see a way for politics and the way we are governed to change, it doesn’t mean that the system can’t change or that it wont.

Yet because change doesn’t seem possible, the MPs who have seemingly barricaded themselves in Parliament and refuse a General Election that would only be a first step the process of removing them feel indestructible, immovable and in all likelihood invincible too. All because of what they see to be a lack of other options or a choice in the way we are a governed when they believe only those who govern can control reform.

There is no doubt that the only way this Country can move forward now to embrace our future will be for the whole of the political system to be cleansed and completely wiped clean.

The existing Political Parties – whether Conservative, Brexit Party, DUP, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Plaid or SNP – are not capable of driving and delivering the necessary reform of the British Political System and giving us the change that we need.

Indeed, rather than improving their behaviour and actions in response to what has been happening since the Brexit Vote began to bring all of this hideousness to light, the behaviour of MPs and politicians is simply getting worse.

These MPs are creating the perfect ground and fertile environment for a revolution or coup.

Yet there is nobody behind the wheel of the change that we cannot yet see, but is nonetheless crossing the horizon. Change that could as easily lead to a dictatorship in this country, as it could to government in a different form.

Dictatorships seldom turn out well for everyone. Few if any dictators can stay on message once the power they have suddenly found themselves with has gone to their head.

The best thing would be for us to create a new movement for change whilst we still have time to use the opportunity to do so.

A new approach to politics in this Country that reaches from the Left of politics to the Right. Carries those who supported Leave and Remain. But above all appreciates that quality of life and opportunity for the poorest is the benchmark upon which we should measure our success, not simply the generation of material and financial wealth.

The Brexit Catch 22 illustrates the point Of how bad things really have become only too well.

We won’t have a real Government until we have Brexit and Brexit won’t be delivered until we have a real Government.

We cannot continue with MPs who have such poor moral standards and questionable motives running this Country, whilst preventing politicians coming forward who have the ability and will to actually do something good.

To move forward, the political landscape in this Country must be reformed and all those damaging it must be removed.

The only question now is where the reform will begin?

Our system of Government is no longer fit for purpose and we are unlikely to get the change required if it is left in the hands of any of these MPs

September 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Squatter Parliament

Politics is broken. It can no longer remain the same.

Elected representatives have demonstrated repeatedly that they cannot be trusted to respect the principles that underpin our democracy. For what happens next, they have only themselves and their parties to blame.

Until the 2010 creation of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the safety valve that prevented trouble of the kind we are now experiencing was the ability of any and all prime ministers to call for a General Election, at any time and without two thirds of Parliament in support.

It was respectfully used at times when a government had no way to continue and simply didn’t have the number of votes necessary in Parliament to provide it with majority support.

Whilst opposition after opposition would have grabbed the chance of a General Election being gifted to them at any time, this Remain-majority of a quasi-Government has refused to have one deliberately by choice.

By doing so, they have demonstrated a total disregard, for our centuries-old constitution. A system of government that has never before seen such open and contemptuous forms of abuse.

Their priority and aim has been to manipulate the system to deliver what they want without any form of legitimacy or mandate.

What is worse, their plans run completely contrary to the will of the People – given to them legitimately as a direct and clear instruction in a democratic vote.

None of the political class that currently sits within our Parliament can walk away from this complete mess and claim they had nothing to do with it, the years of abuse that prepared the ground for it, or that it was always out of their control.

There is a rot at the base of British politics now and the real problem for us all is the question of how it can be replaced.

We cannot wait for a new party to be established that will have the policies and reach that will make it a credible alternative to what we have as the current line up or choice.

The current system is a monopoly of three at best and is totally rigged at worst.

But without a new political party that is a real left-right/Leave-Remain all-view-considered movement too, we are faced with the prospect of having to elect MPs at the coming General Election who have come to Parliament through the very same Party Political system that gave us the people that have broken our democracy.

This system of political parties only works to further itself and is as such fundamentally flawed.

The truly concerning thing for us all right now is that the stupidity that we are witnessing in Parliament may not have as yet come to its end.

The MPs we have Today are either so sure of their own position or confident that they can do what they like and that Public concern will simply then fade away, that it has become clear that they are now capable of doing absolutely anything when it comes to getting their own way.

This travesty must be stopped. What they have already done has set a dangerous precedent. Those politicians who follow them in future without there being the meaningful change required will simply approach future policies just the same.

We must find a way to create and establish a fixed and robust constitution that covers all aspects of the way this Country is governed.

We must set proper, considered rules covering how we allow our MPs to be appointed as candidates and then become elected.

Otherwise we must now accept that Parliamentary democracy in this country is no longer fit for purpose and has come to its end and that the time has come to find another way.

One way or another, change is coming and it’s probably going to come very soon indeed.

The answer may not be anything anything we have already seen. And it won’t be a question of if or when.

It will simply be a question of who.

 

The future of this Country will not be dictated by a Squatter Parliament filled with cuckoos rather than genuine MPs. Our future will be decided by the British People and implemented by representation that we can actually trust.

A New Politics

May 24, 2019 6 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

 

Young people are consciously idealistic and care about the world beyond themselves, whilst May’s Conservatives are driven by deep-seated selfishness and rampant personal ambition. That’s why they no longer connect

img_2933For those of us still out here who recognise that we are more conservative than the Conservative Party under May, but find ourselves unable to consider being any part of it, there is little pleasure provided by the process of watching the incumbent Prime Minister progressively destroying the seedbed of post-Brexit Britain and the opportunities set to follow beyond. Nor is their solace to be found by observing Tory MPs flailing about under the misapprehension that the Conservative Party’s ills are all something that they can simply reach outside of themselves and the Party to fix.

On the face of it, each of the Policy areas that give life to May’s bastard child idea of governance look wholly separate and as if they can be picked up independently and solved quickly, without any further need to look within.

The reality is however that they cant. And what the handling of Brexit has in common with just about everything that this walking-dead version of a once-great Political Party has touched and is bringing the kiss of political death to, is the intrinsic inability of all those who have become enslaved to the Party machine, to see any fault within themselves, their actions, their outlook or anything they do, in terms of the responsibility they hold for the position that the Conservative Party and this borrowed-time Government is now in.

The sad and most regrettable reality is that the Parliamentary Conservative Party is only waking up to issues that they perceive as putting their electability at risk.

One of those that has hit home hard with a significant jolt this week, is the statistical disconnect that the Party now has with younger people. One that has exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb under the malaise of Theresa May.

There have already been a number of articles written by high profile Conservative Politicians making big statements about how they will reengage the disenfranchised young or rather members of the general public up to the age of 45.

But nobody within the Party is wrestling with the reality behind why many younger people find it easy to connect with a Marxist like Jeremy Corbyn, yet cannot bring themselves to identify with the policies of some of the best Conservative Governments, let alone those under the stewardship of the EU’s stooge and failing Prime Minister Theresa May.

The cold hard reality that too many Conservatives continue to overlook is that young people, in the main part untouched by the realities of the world outside of school life and university, have an understandably upbeat view of socialist ideas and especially the language that pits the many who possess little against what they perceive to be the fat and getting fatter few.

As the young become older and take on responsibilities of their own, the gloss of the communal one-for-all and all-for-one idealism is soon replaced by a different reality.

The reality that as soon as money and material wealth become not only important in personal life, but are increasingly found to set the rules, that there is an increasingly more adult interpretation of how everything actually works. One where self-interest even in its most subtle and innocuous forms become the order of the day and that the machinations of government do and will have an impact on what we as individuals earn, take home, can enjoy, use to make us feel secure and safe – irrespective of what to the outside world we then might say.

Where the Tories have gone wrong, and perhaps terminally so, is to fall into the trap of believing that the whole of the world outside of Westminster and across the UK, in our Towns, Cities, Villages and Communities does in the bigger part reflect their own seemingly grown-up, but nonetheless sheltered and far-from-being-real-world way of interpreting life.

This dangerous and clouded view on the part of lawmakers doesn’t stop there.

For under successive Conservative-led governments, all sense of the once accepted convention between the Governing and the Governed to provide for all parts and motivations within our wider society have been lost. With it has gone the recognition of responsibility to provide workable, considered and intuitive solutions to those who genuinely need help whatever might be their experience of life.

It has simply been cast aside without any thought for what it is to be young and seeing life from a very different angle.

Swept away in such a way that tells the young very clearly that politicians have not, will not and could never share their point of view.

Until such time as a Political Party of the right can not only communicate shared values with Young People, but is seen to develop AND implement policies which demonstrate that they also share love, compassion and a sense of non-financially dependent care for all, right of centre politics will not be taken seriously nor respected by Young People. People with a valid point of view who look at a malevolent Labour Movement under the Leadership of Corbyn and by default as a comparison find themselves happy to look beyond what those with a different experience of life see as potentially catastrophic flaws.

 

 

 

 

Party Politics is the means, not the end and until the emphasis is correctly restored, we will all suffer the result

February 7, 2019 Leave a comment

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The most extraordinary thing about these extraordinary times, is that they feel so extraordinarily normal.

Watching the Brexit crisis unfold has become a daily routine so embedded, that it feels like it will never end. And much of the responsibility for that impression falls squarely at the feet of the Politicians who are running the Country as part of the Government, and collectively as the bigger part of our 650 Elected MPs.

It doesn’t matter whether you Voted Leave or Remain in the Referendum. Labour, Lib Dem, SNP of Conservative in the 2017 General Election. The commonality that we all share within this incredible mess, is the feeling that what our Elected Representatives are doing simply isn’t right, and that we should all be able to expect a whole lot more.

Our political landscape has now become so unpredictable, we could never get odds on what tomorrow might bring.

For those of us looking more closely at what is unfolding and where we go from here, there is genuine concern, not only about what will unfold with control over Brexit now so clearly absent. But what happens when a clear direction does manifest and we have a better idea of what the coming months and possibly years might then have in store.

The reason for this is that the problem with the leadership that we now have in the form of Mrs. May is not one that is restricted only to her presence.

The problem is now an insipid trait amongst many of our MPs and Politicians. One that does not provide great confidence when considering how we now move beyond Brexit, potentially via a period of crisis, and then go on to address the many issues which are collectively causing all of us and the communities that with both live and work in, significant pain.

We have been burdened with the class of Politicians that we have, not by accident. But because en masse, the majority are the standard product of the Party Political system in the UK. A system that now exists only to further its own ends, rather than those of the People its candidates are elected to represent.

This is not to say that our sitting MPs are not capable, intelligent people.

But the system that exists has now been in place for so long that it has evolved to recruit and promote politicians in each Political Party’s own image.

MPs are delegates of the Party. They are not the Representatives of the People or the Constituencies from which they have been Elected that they should be. And the grand plan of the Political Parties is that they should only ever be on message and that they present that message as directed, effectively, without deviation and in a standard form. This is why media interviews with MPs look very automated, unnatural and are a damning indictment of what UK Politics has become.

People recruited to conform, rarely have the initiative, confidence and wherewithal to represent others. They do not have the drive to lead, innovate or adapt to the changeable nature that is the requirement of a Government which can be both responsive and responsible, that considers cause, effect, consequences and the impact of everything that they do – as any Government that is going to lead the UK forward positively and confidently must now do.

What is more, there is nothing wrong with our system of democracy.

It is the political parties and the politicians that currently inhabit it which makes it all appear wrong.

For they are incapable of looking inside of themselves to identify the causality of their problems. Instead always looking outwards to attribute blame and look for solutions by changing the political environment that surrounds them. Thereby overlooking the genuine answers to the questions behind everything that is happening for us. Making things progressively worse, whilst never actually addressing anything which is genuinely the cause of what is wrong.

Political Parties came into existence to facilitate the workings of like-minded representatives working within this democratic system.

They were a simple means of bringing politicians together in order to get things done. Not to create an autocracy or dictatorship run by Party Leaders, which is what the main Political Parties have now in many ways effectively become.

Nor were they designed to create a system where a local political group could make demands of their MP on the basis that the MP, once appointed by the Electorate then becomes only a delegate for them, sent to Westminster only to pursue their specific agenda, rather than those of all the People they were elected to attend on behalf of.

MPs, Councillors, Mayors and Police & Crime Commissioners are elected to represent EVERYONE in their Constituency.

No matter the size, demographic, politics or circumstances involved. The moment they surrender their principles, their workload, their ideas and the impartiality that democracy ultimately requires of them once in post, they are failing everyone for the sake of self-interest.

Party Politics is no longer just the means but the end in itself, and the majority of the Politicians who represent them are little more than a number, facilitating non-democracy, even if democracy is the name by which this travesty is still called.

We are now caught within a vicious cycle. We cannot get the change in politics we need because the leaders need to be replaced with people who think differently, but the people ready and in place to replace them fundamentally think the same way. So when the replacements become the leaders, they will still manage and lead things exactly the same.

 

A deal at any cost is no deal at all

February 1, 2019 Leave a comment

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Abraham Lincoln once said ‘nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power’.

Sadly, when our Members of Parliament do not pay attention to how the events they are involved in unfold and how other MPs have behaved around them as they have in recent days, weeks and months, it is hard to imagine that they consider the lessons provided by such figures from history to be worthy of any great thought.

Regrettably, such an approach on the part of our Elected Representatives comes at most disadvantage not to them, but to us, the People who Elected them. And we have the right to expect them to learn not only from history, but also from every opportunity as each and every one of them comes along.

Today, this avoidably chaotic Brexit process has reached a point where pretty much everyone outside of Westminster, despite MPs best efforts, has the true measure of what our MPs are doing. What their motivations are and what is now going wrong with British Politics full stop.

The general population may not be positioned or indeed be able to elucidate the reasoning of their position and views as eloquently as some of the Politicians who spend the better part of their lives in the media view.

But neglecting the reality that the views and thoughts of each and every one of us are as real, if indeed not more so than any of our MPs themselves, is a position that every Member of Parliament should now be considering in light of how clear the desperate nature of our Prime Minister’s and her Government’s Position on Brexit has now become.

We are faced with a situation where MPs should know from a catalogue of past experience that the EU was not going to play ball over reopening May’s ‘deal’. Just as it should be very clear to them that this is a Prime Minister prepared to do and say anything to stay in Office and keep her legacy in the form of her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement untouched and very much alive.

It is in light of this reality that we now see the possibility of pork barrel politics emerge, or what is in effect the prospect of individual Labour MPs being bought off with financial sweeteners for their Constituencies coming in to view.

With democracy in the UK so obviously in peril due to the behaviour of MPs already, the advent of this approach by a Prime Minister, who should long since of had the dignity to step aside, is both dark and worrying indeed. Not least of all because it is us, the same people who are being ignored by an Establishment preoccupied with stopping a meaningful Brexit, who are yet again being treated as if we are mushrooms. Treated as if it is ok to attempt to keep us in the dark, and that being fed on a diet of informational horseshit is all it will ultimately take to get whatever plan they have passed without us realising what they are doing.

However, the Prime Minister and all those with her who are willing to trash our democracy should be aware of one very big point.

We can all see exactly what they are now doing, and a deal at any cost is no deal at all.

The Prime Minister and her Government does not have a mandate to push through her flawed idea of Brexit at any cost. Neither does any majority constructed of our sitting MPs.

Any form of Brexit based on anything other than the genuine Will of the People – no matter how those against it choose to interpret it for their own aims, will not be legitimate.

As such it could, should and almost certainly would be overturned if they should appear to succeed in achieving what are clearly dubious aims.

It is what the cost will be to this Country, to our People and to our future because of this ridiculous, irresponsible and self-serving behavior on the part of Politicians who should know a lot better, that should now be of the greatest concern.

 

 

It’s time to have confidence in our own destiny and accept that in today’s World, standing alone will make the UK a whole lot more

January 1, 2019 Leave a comment

‘We are doomed!’ is the current epitaph of the Remain-at-all-costs and all those amongst us who live by the belief that this Country cannot and is incapable of doing anything on its own.

The sell-out mentality which has gripped the direction of both the Media and the Government itself would be best placed in the archaic nest hole which would be the foredeck of some wrecked ship as it deceptively lifted into the air before crashing into the see and coming to rest in the dark, freezing depths way below. Not in the foreground of one of the greatest opportunities that the UK has stood in front of for past generations and beyond.

Many of the self-interested politicians and influencers who are so convinced of the need to remain in the comfort zone which they believe to be in their own image, mistakenly consider their own destiny to be entwined with that of the whole Country and the People who surround them, not realising that self belief of an entire Nation does not equate with their own gutlessness and is in fact the key to something much better for us all after we leave the EU and step bravely into the world of our making which will soon follow beyond.

‘Doing it properly’, by embracing a pathway even more rigorously than anyone has done so before, doesn’t mean that you can suddenly make the unworkable work.

It means that you are blind to what everything around you is telling you. That you are a fool and are setting yourself – and in this case a great many innocent people – up for a very big fall.

However, whilst that can be viewed as the inevitable further integration with the EU that will happen if the Remainers should ever get their way, or indeed the catastrophe which will follow Corbyn’s Labour in the form of a Marxist mess if they win a General Election against a Conservative Party that is still led by May, it does not fit with the evolving class of political opportunists who will align themselves with what resembles the best option to facilitate a rise in their own fortunes.

With the May ‘deal’ unattractive to even some of the most militant Remainers, it was inevitable that many other pretenders would push themselves into the leadership frame, championing some other cause or another painted up or repackaged idea, selling it as the new and improved or latest form of the same old Holy Grail which will ultimately deliver everything for them, but nothing for anyone else.

We have had Norway, Canada plus plus plus and even something about Switzerland from the quasi-Brexiteer brigade. Now we are having Singapore MK2 as the model posted by the born-again-Brexiteers who in the Summer of 2016 sounded almost identically like everything we heard from then new Prime Minister Theresa May.

If it sounds like we are going around in circles, it is because we are.

Nothing is going to change until we, as a Country, break new ground and literally stop going round and round.

Our future is not to remain inextricably linked with the ‘European Project’.

Nor is it to parrot ourselves or model our future on the past, present or future of any other Country.

Their destiny is theirs, just as our National destiny is very much our own.

The obsession with plans has to stop if we are ever to begin succeeding.

The future of the UK depends upon proper Leadership, not some dubious plan measured up against a PH Scale where Acid & Alkaline have been replaced with Leave & Remain.

Our political classes are simply out of any new ideas.

UK politics is without original thinking.

And so it is little wonder that our would-be leaders are raking around everywhere to find something new to anchor their dimming light to, whilst attempting to rally a new direction from the other politicians around them. Politicians who themselves are so self-obsessed, that they can no longer discern the benefits of being within and working for a community as the only surety for them comes from the reliance on ideas which are their own.

We are now perilously close to a point where we will need an entirely new parliament. One untainted by the corruption and self interest of the existing party political system and the obsession with benefit and kudos to the individual, disregarding members responsibility to the electorate who elevated them to their positions. A responsibility they now take for granted and believe that they possess and therefore own.

‘We can be the new Singapore’, ‘be just like Sweden’, or ‘model ourselves as perfect Europeans’.

How about actually just being happy with being British. Having confidence in our own destiny and accepting the truth that in today’s World, standing alone will make the UK a whole lot more?

 

 

The morning after, it’s the same May as before

December 13, 2018 Leave a comment

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As will be the case with many others who see their politics being most closely aligned to conservative thinking, today, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Being a lapsed Tory in the most literal sense, there is something profoundly de ja vu about the fact that some five years after my own departure, the destructive blindness caused by nothing more than self-interest and ambition on the part of Conservative Politicians is not only alive, but in breathtakingly rude health.

Watching or rather reading all the glad-handing going on this morning following Theresa May’s Confidence Vote, one can only wonder what it will really take so many of our Conservative MP’s to wake up to the reality that in so far as delivering Brexit is concerned, by endorsing the May tragedy and breathing enough life into it to continue on further, they have removed their ability to assert any control on unfolding events.

They are now fully reliant upon the goodwill and word of Trident Tongued Theresa, who’s version of the truth has now been outed for what it really is, time-after-time.

It is a strange situation indeed, knowing well that there will be many of us outside of the Westminster bubble today, who have realised that Jeremy Corbyn calling a for a no-confidence vote in the Government, might now be the only way that the Tories can hope to eject May before her catastrophic take on a Brexit deal, is likely to be signed, sealed delivered and the UK as we know it has been well and truly done.

I say this, not because I have any desire for life as we know it in the UK to be transformed into Corbyn’s idea of a 21st Century Marxist State. I don’t.

I say this, because it is then and only under those circumstances that the Parliamentary Conservative Party would effectively have a tiny, comparatively minuscule window of opportunity to install a new Prime Minister and prevent either a General Election being called, or perhaps a Corbyn-led rainbow coalition simply being installed.

The stakes would be high. And for the anxious and faint of heart amongst us there is regrettably great risk.

After all, with the default form of many Conservative MP’s being that they have forgotten what being elected as a representative of the people is actually for, there is the inherent risk that even then they would prioritise their own choice for Leader (and the plum job that they no-doubt anticipate would follow) and blow the golden opportunity to hail the lifeboat, simply because their own priorities rise above those of the Electorate once more.

Sadly, sense may have little chance to prevail before Theresa May returns with her ‘re-worked’ Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

There is an additional risk that if Corbyn does instigate anything that can be called ‘constructive’ with a confidence vote, it will come too soon for the Tory Remainers to have their repetitive stress injuries from May’s dishonesty internally diagnosed, and probably not before every other trick in the Europhile playbook has again been rolled out in order to thwart democracy yet again.

I’ve written about all of this lots in recent days and weeks and I know that I am a very long way from being a lonely voice.

As voters, we pass responsibility for our communal choices to the people who are elected to be responsible for all of us and not only to themselves.

We should all be able to expect a lot more from Conservative Politicians and its time that they realised that every little thing they do with the responsibility of the Office which has been temporarily passed to them has the potential to impact the lives of everyone – whether that consequence should ultimately turn out to be good or bad.

So if a benevolent santa with a red tie and a cagoule should come calling on the Tories this festive season, please remember that its time to forget who’s naughty and who’s nice and start getting real about what treat comes after May.

image thanks to unknown

 

 

Brexit is more popular than ever. The majority of people just have better things to do than spend their lives in echo chambers or answering the phone to pollsters

November 6, 2018 Leave a comment

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One of the greatest difficulties in politics, is understanding how and why voters’ minds appear to change.

Whether you are looking to get elected to a local council or are running the Country as a Member of Parliament, this fundamental rule simply doesn’t change.

It is a wise politician who can look beyond the noise of media and vociferous campaigns to both see, analyse, interpret, AND trust the basis of the information that they find.

It is an even greater politician who can place this knowledge in the perspective of the political terrain in which they operate, whilst recognising where and how their own flaws may contribute to a possible fall.

In times when politics seems to have become the land of the self-righteous, rather than the place where trust and responsibility to the Electorate are respected in every way that they should, such skill seems not only to be absent, but also well out of anyone’s mind.

Just as the Brexit Vote was misread by people on both sides in the weeks and days leading up to the Referendum, the understanding of what and how people think at any one snapshot moment about Brexit and the manufactured debate about Leave or Remain is as elusive as it always has been.

Data abounds from every direction suggesting that people have changed their minds. Yet there is an odd absence of any suggestion of what they have changed their minds about.

A continual flow of stories tell us that everyone now wants a second Vote about Brexit. Yet there is no detail about why people might actually think that Politicians and the Establishment need to be told all over again.

Above all, there is this overarching and almost tangible feeling that the same people who have always overlooked the feelings, views and realities of others when it comes to the impact of the European Union, are building up to deliberately fail us all on the basis of believing their own propaganda all over again.

Just as lead Remainer Theresa May misjudged the reasons for calling of the 2017 General Election, there are so very many factors which continue to underpin the legitimacy of the Vote to Leave, themselves repeatedly overlooked whilst the realities of changing perspectives over time is being used as a peculiar way to argue that people now want to Remain.

Outside of the Westminster Bubble and the land of the Twitterati, real people have better things to do than be obsessive about the realities of political policy and decision making each and every day. On 23rd June 2016, the Electorate Voted to Leave the EU and that is exactly how they expected it would actually be.

Whilst it may be hard to believe, many people, not understanding how politics in the UK works actually thought that the UK had left the EU as soon as the Result of the EU Referendum was announced. This reality has itself not been without problems and one wonders if even this has been considered when people are now asked if they would like to remain?

 Yes, the mess which has been caused by poor leadership, deliberate intent, deceit and the repeating of a series of untruths over and over again, has created and exacerbated a zeitgeist of complete and utter distrust.

But this uncertainty and lack of faith exists not because people have changed belief or what they feel. Their feelings have always been based on real life experience and to them are very real.

No. The uncertainty and confusion exists because of the behaviour of the people who were elected to represent them. People who upon reaching the highest Publicly Elected Offices that the people of the UK can entrust to them, have simply overlooked and squandered that trust on every front. Politicians who are blinded to the will of the people and are obsessed with the ideal that is Remain.

Rather than keep trying to manipulate peoples views by asking loaded and leading questions, taking sample data which depending which way you read it could be beneficial to either Leave or to Remain, or deliberately overlooking how hard life in this Country is made by policy making formed with biased and misinformed data, why don’t you just get out there and talk to a few people outside of your Parties or back-slapping groups, ditch the labels and stereotypes which you use for excuses, and focus on what will really work for the British People and is in the best interests of this, our United Kingdom, rather than your idealistic and self-serving political indulgences instead?

Those Politicians and Opinionators obsessed with overturning the People’s Decision to Leave the EU at any cost would do well to remember that the power that they now cherish yet so willingly abuse, will no longer exist if they should ever succeed in erasing this Nation, as it becomes little more than a notional province in the EU’s supranational land of Righteous Remain.

The PM’s Tory Conference entrance was one giant tell and the air is thickening with the stench of a political fudge

October 9, 2018 Leave a comment

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Treating people like mushrooms; keeping them in the dark and feeding them on bullshit, is likely to be the greatest epithet of the EU.

Despite the result of the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK, the message that the general population has grown wise is still not getting through.

We now see the EU engaged in one of its classic bluff-based, interactive dances with one of its greatest disciples, Theresa May.

Last weeks entrance to the Conservative Party Conference should really be read for what it was. Not merely the pretence of  hamming it up to try and look cool for a tired and trivialised audience on the part of an incompetent Prime Minister. But the meaningful strut of a confident peacock certain that the audience is about to be taken in completely by a very colourful and expansive display.

As many will already know. The EU has well-documented form when it comes to creating the impression that things are going differently to how they would like them, and by double bluffing or even doubling-down when they sense they are at the point of a win.

Over recent days, we have not only witnessed the arrival of the great pretender in all her glory, but claim and then counter claim that a deal on Brexit is getting closer and closer. Then we are assured that the truth is not any such thing.

Meanwhile the obsessive talk of a second Referendum is becoming so frequent that its inevitability is being deliberately painted into our consciousness whilst we are being coerced into questioning the original first and legitimate democratic win.

Chequers was never based upon an honest principle of ‘Brexit means Brexit’. It was a calculated way to bluff up a storm at the end of which once unacceptable concessions would then be seen as being perfectly reasonable, keeping Brexit in name only as the only option saved from the bin.

Regrettably, politicians from all areas of the political spectrum and from both sides of the  EU Membership Debate seem to be buying into this either emotionally, or just logically to save theor own necks.

Many sense that the only way that Brexit can be delivered legitimately will be if there is another General Election – one which with Theresa May in No. 10, the Conservatives have little to guarantee them that they can win.

We cannot be sure what form it will take. But the devil will most certainly be in the detail of any agreement that May attempts  to persuade us that she has negotiated and achieved.

One of the greatest political fudges and injustices is now in the making. And its success was ushered in with a gawky, inelegant rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen.

TV Election debates are great if showmanship is the only standard set for Political leadership

September 17, 2018 Leave a comment

download (23)I’ve written about televised leaders debates before and I continue to have doubts about their validity, and whether it is even possible for them to be truly fair.

With talk of another General Elections becoming ever frequent, probably because of Labours obsession with finding a way to cause one, it comes as little surprise that somebody, somewhere is obsessing about how people will feel in a very specific, but what will be painted as being a wholly comprehensive way..

That looking to ‘big up’ a certain point of view is a process of little more than confirmation bias by people with the public ear is no great shock. But it is ironic that the subject matter here is the focus of the media, where a lot of the symptoms or effects causing upset amongst not only young people but the wider population too, was generated in the first place.

No, there’s nothing wrong with young people being in favour with television debates. In fact, I defy anyone to suggest other than it is what we can all safely expect.

After all, TV and all forms of media are now to many representative of the world we live in. From that perspective alone, we would be foolish to overlook the way that to so many people the world of politics is now perceived.

What happens is we all forget or overlook one massive and inescapable truth when when the infinitesimally small, pure, unadulterated level of fact provided through these mediums is acknowledged and put to one side.

Every other bit of content on the news, on TV, on the internet and on social media isn’t real. Its words. Opinion. Spin. Someone else’s way of interpreting events in the world. It’s the way that other people want us all to see AND interpret what is going on around us. And even then what they say and what we hear may be very different things.

We have created the illusion of all illusions. Instead of measuring our life decisions with the facts hidden below the surface of this pretend veil, we are mistaking illusion for fact. We have fallen in to the trap of creating a parallel universe where nothing really exists except the many perceptions that we have differently as individuals. Perceptions that we experience as genuine which are misleading is about everything.

No, I do not blame young people or anyone living a normal life outside the bubble where this is all created for the misunderstanding, the frustration and yes, the injustice which sits in between. I don’t even blame those creating the problem from within it, because these are people who are so clearly lost from the impact and consequence of what they are doing, that they cannot really have any idea of what it all means.

The biggest problem in amongst all of this is that our political classes do not see the reality of what is going on and what this all really is. Despite it not being unreasonable that we should be able to expect all those holding elected office to be savvy enough to see the wood for the trees AND act upon it, they have become obsessed with making all this noise real. They simply overlook the responsibilities that they have to us all and obsess about what looks good when it is presented to us

Watch Politicians on Twitter. Observe them on Facebook. But above all take note of how little sense any of their answers or statements really make when they are asked reasonable question about the work they are supposed to be doing for you.

Our political classes have become so obsessed with playing up to what they think people think, rather than doing the job they are supposed to do, that it really comes as no surprise that things have got as bad as they really are for us all. This is wrong.

The establishment didn’t see Brexit coming. Many of the Politicians belonging to it are still convinced that everyone outside Westminster and London actually wants to remain. They certainly haven’t got any real idea of what it is to be a normal person trying to make ends meet, or to be a young person struggling with the prospect of taking on a lifelong debt to obtain what will probably be useless qualifications before their adult life even begins.

So if we focus only on how a Politician or would-be Prime Minister performs on TV or all the other forms of media, we are overlooking a great many things.

Yes, good media performance is important for Politicians. But it is only just the cherry on a very large metaphorical cake. It’s not even the icing, or the most important part, the middle, which itself needs to contain real quality ingredients. All in one what should really be a many great things.

None of this can really be seen within a televised debate forum. Seeing is believing only if you believe the idea that the camera never lies. And if any of us use this example of judging the suitably of a prime ministerial candidate and the substance of the Political Party that backs them, we should not be surprised when the results are policies which only inflict pain within our lives, because the illusion of credibility that being on a screen gives then wins.

 

image thanks to independent.co.uk

Public Funding of Political Parties: Yet another nail in the coffin of British Democracy and a giant leap away from listening to the voices that must now be heard?

September 6, 2013 2 comments

Political Party funding has once again become a regular topic of discussion in the media and many will today find themselves asking why the Public may now be required to pay to promote an exclusive list of what are membership-based organisations, when many more worthy causes that bring much better value to our communities could never even dream of securing this kind of help.

Following Ed Milliband’s now seemingly disastrous attempt to re-package a few multi-million Pound Union donations into many more smaller and politically expedient ones from union members who should apparently have been just as willing to choose to ‘opt-in’ as pay through the historical non-voluntary default, it seems that we are again faced with the dubious meanderings of a few politicians who will do anything that they can to make the system work just for them and for the parties that they represent.

Talk of a £5000 cap on donations to political parties would have worked extremely well for Labour if they had managed to manipulate 2 or 3 donations to qualify as the same sum given by a sudden deluge of fee-paying Labour supporters. It is after all rather unlikely that the Conservatives could find a way to do the same.

But Ed missed one vital calculation in this plan and one that no considerate and fully cognizant politician should ever miss – that people will only voluntarily pay for things that they actually want.

The penny of impending political disaster having now dropped almost as far as the current Labour Leader’s jaw, we now find ourselves looking public funding for political parties in the eye as the Westminster set again swans around under the misguided belief that the existence and perpetuity of their ideals and their impractical application should be assured by right and statute, rather than by the will and best interests of the majority of people – which isn’t after all what politics is actually supposed to be all about?

Just this week within the Council where I am an Elected Member, a whole Borough has witnessed the down side of party politics when a bad decision which may have profound effects on many lives for years to come is compounded and enforced by the use of the Party Whip to guarantee that the aspirations and agendas of the few will overcome the needs and potential benefits from alternative and better paths for the many.

De facto funding for Political Parties that even their Members no longer want to financially support will make such outcomes even more likely than they are right now and those politicians who are already awake to these perils will be well aware of the potential cost of this approach to us all.

With the common ground between Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour being that the Leadership of all 3 have lost sight that doing what’s right for all, rather than what’s right for the Party or the idea’s that they specifically hold dear; all of the main Parties now fail to gain the lifeblood funding and support that they need from everyday voters, simply because they aren’t considering the realities and practicalities of what it takes to live, work and survive in our everyday world.

The message should therefore be simple. Large donors will always want to influence decisions and processes for their own benefit and adequate membership level financial support will only ever be assured when those members feel that they are likely to benefit – ultimately just the same.

If any political party is unable to secure that support, its leadership and executive should surely ask the question why it cannot do so and then be thinking about changing the way that it operates so that it can – if it can do so.

Those of us outside the Westminster ‘bubble’ should perhaps be asking ourselves whether the funding crisis that Political Parties are now facing is the best illustration yet that Politicians are out of touch and failing to connect with the critical mass of the population.

If their approach to governing our lives cannot be sustained or promoted without State intervention within a democracy, do political parties really have the right to say that they represent anyone but themselves?

The Cost of Living crisis: – It’s those money men, stupid

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

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Hypocrisy has become an artform for many of today’s Political class, and talking up politically expedient issues, spinning away inconvenient truths or criticising others for doing no more than they would do themselves has become the apparent norm.

After a media splurge targeting their inactivity in the sun whilst Cameron has been busy making hay under his, Labour have returned to the stage this week focussing their less than lacklustre performance on the ‘cost of living crisis’, giving every indication that this is the ‘issue’ that will steward their return to majority Government in 2015.

If tackling every issue were seen to be as simple as giving it its own branding or strap-line like this and waiting for it to go viral, we would have a marketing man in Number 10 already – which of course we actually do.

Sadly, the ‘cost of living crisis’ is probably the most dangerous issue that any of our Politicians could ‘play’ with, in the run up to the 2015 General Election, and we should perhaps all be concerned by its apparent adoption by the political left in order for it to be manipulated as a vote-winner. After all, the future of most of us is tied up with it, and its genesis reaches far deeper into the fabric of our society than any of our leading Politicians seem willing to contemplate or have the moral capacity and determination to deal with – even if they have apparently now acknowledged it for their own political ends.

The reality for most of us outside Westminster is that we don’t need posturing Politicians and media hype to remind us of the fact that wages are effectively standing still whilst the cost of paying our bills just seems to keep on going up and up, month after month, year after year without any sign that it will ever relent. Many hard working people simply struggle to keep themselves afloat even before they start to consider some of the luxuries that those very same politicians and newsmen probably take for granted.

Real people living in the real world already know firsthand what it is they are experiencing when the letters hit the mat; the e-mails arrive, the phone rings and when they go and shop. When the pay rises, tax breaks and bonuses that they desperately need aren’t coming to middle England and those hovering either above or below Britains poverty line– simply because the Government’s Pot is already exhausted and the Nation simply cannot afford it – these same people need politicians to drop talking up the effects of the problem and start tackling the cause head on.

This task is not one that will lend great comfort to any politician who values their place in history more than they do the lives of the people who elected them and this is problem enough with British Politics today in itself.

Facing the reality that the free market has surpassed its point of balance and therefore the good for which it was intended is not a thought that many in power will want even to contemplate. Therefore accepting that increasing freedom within the markets to pursue infinite profit, whilst that very same action is effectively enslaving great swathes of the normal population within fiscal misery is not a pill that many of today’s Politicians will swallow willingly. But it is there in front of all of them just the same.

Through the creation of the virtual monopolies which are the utility and energy companies; private businessmen, shareholders and pension funds have been given seemingly insurmountable power over the lives of everyone by being able to dictate their own paydays, whilst they go unhindered by Government and Regulators – who have nothing really but the interests of their Industry at heart.

Likewise, ever growing convoluted supply chains, often reaching the length and breadth of the Country or even across Continents allow many different traders, dealers and agents to add their cut to the margins which you would normally expect to see only from producers and retailers, then inflating prices way beyond what they should realistically be.

Further still, those businesses without control or a sizable share of their markets are also having their margins forcefully squeezed by the companies and organisations who do and many of these businesses are the same ones that cannot afford to recruit or pay more than negligible wage rises to the very same people who are now being affected financially from almost every angle you could imagine.

Whilst no reasonable person would argue that businesses exist to make a profit, it is simply beyond logic to add layer after layer of profit onto the most basic and essential of items or services and then expect end users to keep picking up and meeting these overinflated bills without any real additional income of their own to cover these exponential and wholly unrealistic rises.

Companies, traders, financiers and all manner of individuals and entities are in effect ‘vacuum profiteering’, making money ex nihilo or basically creating something from nothing in a manner which could be akin to having the midas touch, were it not for the misery that it is increasingly inflicting upon those who are wrongly being expected to pay for it.

Without those who hold this power over our economy taking steps to regulate and restrict the way that they make profit, they are through their very actions writing an agenda for Government over many years to come – whatever its Political make-up may be, that has the potential to create social and financial problems of a size and scale across our Nation that Government itself won’t be able to afford to put right – simply because the Taxpayer has no money left to fund it.

Such levels of responsibility over the health and wealth of a Nation should never have been placed in the hands of money men in the first place without sufficient safeguards in place to protect the many who could be affected by the unscrupulous profiteering of a few. But it has.

No Political Party should be seeking to take the moral or politically philosophical high ground on this issue as it is a problem which can only be tackled one way. That is by Government stepping back into the free market and taking an actively pro-market or even interventionist approach to regulating market behaviour – should it be so required. The UK needs to retain capitalism but it must also maintain it in a responsible and considerate way that doesn’t destroy the ability of consumers to consume in the process.

By taking just the key players such as the utility, energy and finance companies to task, Government could go a considerable way to putting safeguards in place that would ensure a basic standard of living can be maintained against the minimum wage, and that the minimum wage would then itself reflect a living wage and one that should keep many more people safe from harm and therefore from being a potential burden to the State.

Regrettably, action of this kind does not reflect the creed of contemporary Politicians and the point continues to be missed that wealth creation only works effectively when there are benefits – in whatever form they may be – for all.

Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour don’t want to embrace the answer and neither does UKIP, which is riding high on the tide of discontentment and disenfranchisement that the lack of connection with reality amongst the other Political monoliths has created within the Electorate itself.

It’s time for Politicians to wake up and smell our overpriced coffee before it’s all too late.

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Press Regulation: Another exercise in smoke and mirrors as the underlying issue of the growing ethical drought in this Country goes untackled by thirsty Government yet again

Rupert Murdoch at LevesonI will not be alone in wondering just how wasteful the whole Leveson Inquiry and the blustering about press regulation will turn out to be when the dust has finally settled.

With news coverage alerting us to the invitation for Rupert Murdoch to return to face MP’s over the phone hacking scandal and Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson still months from their Trial, it’s a fair bet that this will all roll on for some time yet.

But with the cost at great risk of extending itself well beyond money and into the realms of press freedom and the free flow of information itself, it seems rather strange that nobody is talking about anything other than placing restrictions upon the media, when the issues at the heart of all this are far more universal and basically touch us all.

Phone hacking, listening to private messages or conversation, bribery and any other form of intrusive behaviour are not essential journalistic skills in either a professional or academic sense and it’s fairly certain that such behaviour is not restricted to the activities of a few over-eager hacks wishing to make their mark in the National press.

Like most industries today, newspaper companies exist with one purpose in mind and that is ultimately to make money. Whether that is through increased circulation of existing titles or through expansion, the purchase or launch of others, or the diversification into other income streams, it basically doesn’t matter.

Whether this makes comfortable reading or not, few businesses actually exist today to be the best at doing what they do. They don’t look at the long term benefit of best service, or consider the smiles on the faces of customers who feel they have been well looked after; they look at the bottom line and how to make it that much bigger.

Making money for any business relies on motivating staff and in a world which worships money as its master, financial incentives can very quickly push employees to blur the edges between what most would consider to be wrong and right if the end result is worth it. So the hacking scandal is unlikely to be anything other than consequence or the result of cause and effect in basic terms.

Love him or hate him, its extremely unlikely that Rupert Murdock would have ever consciously encouraged or even condoned the questionable behaviour of his staff and what they have allegedly done, however much some would like to imagine so.

However, a company culture that might be considered to indirectly, unintentionally or inadvertently encourage illegal behaviour on the part of individuals in the pursuit of bigger headlines or pay would however be a different thing. But even then, that would not in itself be a matter for Legal intervention or regulation, as it has nothing to do with journalism itself. It might however have everything to do with people and the decisions that they make when they have no respect for barriers.

The bigger picture here is that British society today is on a slippery slope when it comes to basic politeness, manners, doing the right thing or what some of us would agree as having ethics.

People of all kinds are now regularly failing to consider the simple consequences for others as a result of their actions, or in extreme cases ceasing to even register that consequences other than a big pay day might even exist. This is a problem which is beginning to affect us all.

Sadly, we are in the position where leadership at National level is woefully lacking when it comes to dealing with the question of ethics for us as members of the wider community which makes up our Nation. Whereas Rupert Murdoch has already demonstrated his propensity to be ruthlessly efficient in the application of change where it is needed in closing the News of the World, the people with the real ability to influence change in the way that we all think and look at the world we live in appear to have no such gumption.

Those guilty of phone hacking should receive their just deserts, much as we are right to expect with any breach of Criminal Law. But press regulation is little more than another exercise of smoke and mirrors covering the incompetence and inaction of Government in addressing the underlying issue of ethics which runs through so many of our problems and gagging the media will never be an answer.

image thanks to http://www.bbc.co.uk

Tax avoidance, foreign companies and the real influence of Utility providers on our cost of living

Utility companies are in the news again and this time for exploiting the foreign ownership loopholes that are allowing an increasing number of monopolistic companies to avoid paying sizeable sums in tax.

Were it not for the near exponential rises that we seem to experience from energy and water companies alike on regular basis, you might be forgiven for having a little sympathy with a company which is struggling to make money.

But these are companies which are not only achieving great success in securing stratospheric profit margins from the services they provide using what appears to be increasing levels of media-friendly scaremongering; they are arguably doing so without making any real contribution to the wider society that pays them whilst customers also seem to pay for all their upgrade work as well.

This situation has of course been in the making for a considerable time and whilst it would serve the political interests of some groups to blame the problem on the process of privatisation in its basic sense, it is pretty certain that the sale of shares to everyday taxpayers was never intended as a direction of travel which would result in foreign ownership, or to the cartel like behaviour which has contributed to the creation of rip-off Britain.

Coalition Government or hung Parliaments don’t lend themselves well to dealing with issues of any real importance when they are in power as we all continue to witness each and every day. But that of course is when they face issues that we as a public are openly aware of because Politicians have chosen to acknowledge them for whatever politically expedient purpose that it might serve.

The real travesty with the issues regarding utility companies and the influence that they are having on the true cost of inflation to us all – which has this week been suggested to be as high as 25% – is that there is not even the will to talk about the true impact of their actions upon us all in Westminster.

With the economic fall-out of credit-card government and the continuation of spending with money that the UK simply doesn’t have, reality suggests that negligible or zero percent rises in wages for the workforces operating within the commercial and public sectors alike are here to stay. That benefit and service cuts will remain the uninventive and ill-considered weapon of choice used by a political elite which seems bereft of any consideration for the mechanics of life outside their own societal bubble.

However, there are choices for our leaders and within the constraints of Coalition Government or not, Politicians taking their responsibility to the Electorate seriously would and should all be using them.

Before anything else, acknowledgement that companies providing what are in fact essential services are profiteering and are misusing the opportunities that they have would be a significant step in itself. People would at least begin to feel that leaders are identifying with what real life is really like.

This would by its very nature have to been done with clarity and purpose and with much more than a mere suggestion of what action lies ahead. Another mealy-mouthed effort like that on the part of Politicians when it has come to addressing the previous actions and future behaviour of bankers simply will not do.

It has become clear that self-regulation in such key industries isn’t working for anybody but the companies themselves, and this is where those with Government responsibility should really be taking a lead.

The next step would be to regulate pricing to allow the true cost of service provision to be reflected in the prices that we pay and dictate the formula under which such Companies can raise funds for new and improved infrastructure which in most other industries would rightly come from the bottom line.

Because the services that these Companies provide are essential to everyone, profit should be capped and systems put in place through vigorous auditing processes  to ensure that clever accounting methods cannot provide a conduit through which different cost centres or budgetary areas can be manipulated to provide an enhanced dividend.

Company owners wouldn’t like this approach, but the fact remains that with services that customers have no alternative to use, profiteering before doing what is right has created a cash-cow for the few, whilst inflicting financial misery on the many in circumstances where people cannot even earn more just to compensate. That’s why foreign owners have been so happy to throw cash in the direction of companies in the UK that governments most other Countries would at least keep very close to State control and why our Politicians must now recognise the power and influence that these industries actually have in our everyday lives.

Finally, the time has long since passed when simplification of the Tax system was required on a comprehensive basis to stem the flow of revenue from leaving the Country that we desperately need and to which we are entitled.

Tax should be applied at the point of sale; not at the location where the account managers and owners  are based. This one simple and realistic change could find tax raised from the tills where coffees are physically bought; from the sale on the actual computer and screen where products are purchased; and from the meters where our power, gas and water are measured and supplied inside the houses in which we live.

Scary as the prospect of taking on the industrial and financial monoliths might seem, it is for reasons just like these that Politicians are Elected and why Governments are given power. It might not be easy, but if those who seek our votes at Elections take the trust we have given them seriously, it necessarily follows that they will use it for our benefit too.

Isn’t it time that they started living the mantra ‘action speaks louder than words’, rather than simply just paying lip service to it?

image thanks to source unknown

Spending Review & Local Authorities: We need change and a resurgence of ethics, not coercive micromanagement by stealth and an even greater distance between people and Government

images (51)With £11.5 Billion in further cuts set to be outlined in the Coalition’s Spending Review later today, I will probably not be alone in asking myself if this is really going to make the difference that the UK really needs.

Of course, many of us have got far too used to asking such questions only of ourselves as we wonder if there is simply any point in asking the same of anyone else and particularly those Politicians who would actually be in the position to give an honest answer if they so desired.

Many of the Politicians we see on TV are spending increasing amounts of airtime telling us that they are listening. But are they really hearing?

Listening to the news in recent days, you may have heard the suggestion that cutting budgets has not been a failure of the Coalition and that it is in fact the continuing problems with the economy and its inability to deliver the income expected at the time of the 2010 Spending Review that is the real issue. An issue which now of course sees George Osborne scratching away at what he appears to see as the tried and tested…

Of course, those like me who currently inhabit the local government political pool will be looking on in horror at the prospect of a further 10% Central Government funding cut from 2015/16.

Cuts in just in this area alone since 2010 have placed a massive strain on service delivery and are quietly playing out in the loss of arguably vital community resources which were once taken for granted and even affecting the speed and quality of pothole repairs on roads which most of us probably feel should be resurfaced when a hole appears rather than undergo repetitive re-patching for the umpteenth time, bearing in mind the amount we seem to keep paying for them.

Played out across all tiers of Government, the Quangos and Non-Government Organisations, the open secret in all this is that efficiencies have to be found. But the elephant in the room sadly remains missed and the rise of shared services, business services outsourcing and privatisation of services forced on us by budget cuts and imposed ceilings on Council Tax rises will never resolve the biggest issue of all which is the need for comprehensive reform across Government at a fundamental and cultural level.

Change is essential to move inefficient and unproductive ways of working which have developed over many decades of protectionist management; Change which will lead into the delivery of services which once again have their focus upon the benefit to the end user and when selflessly applied, targeted and managed as they should be, are likely to deliver savings all the same.

Ethical working based on doing what is right for all, rather than what works best for those making the decision, has to once again become the norm rather than the exception. For it is this institutionalised and subsequently conditioned practice which has created many of the problems not only in finance, but also in the quality and efficiency within all parts of Government which the Coalition now faces, manifested in services ranging from traffic management to the NHS.

Making savings of the level that have faced George Osborne was never going to be an easy task. But simply addressing the problem by imposing cuts that are ultimately doing nothing less than changing the systems which support everyday people to live real lives and takes Government further away from the public who pay for it is never going to be right. Worse still; it won’t solve the problem.

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Without Legalising Assisted Suicide & the Right to Die, it is an uncomfortable truth that in terms of our approach to ease of suffering, we are selfishly kinder to our animals than we are to other human beings

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

The debate on Assisted Suicide

Without realising that we even do so, it is quite normal for us to look upon any situation or perhaps even the content of a conversation in terms of how its content could or does affect us personally at some level.

Fear permeates the decisions that people make at a very deep level indeed and whilst this can unwittingly prove to be a very self-destructive trait, it can also lead to what are arguably selfish acts in the extreme when considering the distant impact that these decisions have upon others.

Because most of us grow up conditioned to think this way, it is possible to become quite blasé about the way we talk about issues which may not seem to affect us directly, but nonetheless have the effect of pushing a deeply buried emotional ‘button’ which twangs our personalities just the same.

Death is of course one such issue and one that provokes all kinds of responses from people, probably because of the unknown issues which surround it and the very definite nature of its existence for us all as part of our human experience.

When I myself suffered the acute stages of a serious illness which nearly killed me and I was forced to look my own mortality in the face, I quickly became aware of just how self-focussed and personal the issues surrounding death can be for those who are close by who are not actually in the process of going through it themselves.

This experience perhaps gave me an invaluable insight on the whole issue when dealing with the terminal illness and decline of my own father, whom I like to think may have been at some advantage by having such nearby support.

Sadly, others do not receive that same level of understanding and selflessness that they need from us all in times that we may ourselves never personally have to experience, or at a time of their life when their perspective on mortality may be dramatically different from what it may be right now.

The deeply ingrained fear of death and our lack of control over it does mean that for many the issue of Assisted Suicide or Right to Die is actually a personal one, rather than a matter of ethics as many in the world would prefer that we were to actually believe.

Very few people are likely to covet death at any time; even those who commit suicide without any form of premeditated suggestion that they are readying themselves to do so. It is a matter of escape and release at a very personal level and it is unlikely that any other person will ever understand the complexity of issues, emotions and pain that such a person is experiencing at that time.

It is the same for those contemplating the need for Assisted Suicide or their Right to Die and we as a society now not only need to recognise this; we must put personal feelings and perceptions aside and provide help to those who need it, without any threat of recourse or stigma being attached to those who have provided or would willingly facilitate that help.

Our fear of Legalising Assisted Suicide and the taboo of the subject are borne from the concern that through illness or debilitation, we could find ourselves or loved-ones unable to communicate with or have influence with the outside world as we now know it, and that subsequently, the decision will be made to end our own or their life in that situation whether we like it or not.

Such perceptions have been helped very little by Health Authority Policies such as The Liverpool Pathway. But this should not prevent us from dealing with the subject as we now should and if anything is evidence enough that everything must now be done to get this difficult subject dealt with right.

Government and the Medical Profession could and should with Legislation put the necessary stop-guards in place which will provide assurance against abuses of a Right to Die, such as consultation with 3 independent Doctors and/or Psychologists who will quickly know if such a solution is best if they are genuinely allowed and are able to selflessly put the interests of the patient in question first without any other influences coming in to play.

There is no doubt that those suffering with horrific and terrifying conditions such as Locked-in Syndrome or those who have such low quality of life because of their physical conditions should have the right to end their lives with help if they so choose. We must all now be big enough to put our own fears aside and make it as easy as it can be for them to do so.

Without Legalising the Right to Die, it is an uncomfortable truth that in terms of our approach to ease of suffering, we are selfishly kinder to our animals than we are to other human beings.

image thanks to http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca

A General Strike will be little more than terrorism in a sanitised form

The saying ‘everything is relative’ is perhaps the most polite way to tell someone that they are being insular; focused only upon the impacts of a wider issue on themselves, or simply failing to grasp that each and every one of us has a different viewpoint and that they could perhaps do well to look at things a different way.

Whilst the possibility has been grumbling in the background for some time, this week has seen the first clear indication that the Unite Union is seeking to take a lead in initiating a General Strike, of the like this Country has not witnessed since 1926. But is this throw-back to an age when Unions may have still possessed some form of genuine purpose actually going to help anybody?

The excuse given for a level of action which is more likely to destroy support for Union Members rather than be of any benefit to it, is of course the measures of ‘austerity’ that the Coalition Government has apparently been taking. It is indeed no secret that these measures are resulting in the loss of jobs and Benefits; but it has also brought an end to the seemingly ceaseless momentum behind enhancement of conditions for professions which are most likely to yield Union Membership.

Even as a former business owner and politician elected on a Conservative ‘ticket’, I myself can see that there was a time when the rights and welfare of workers needed much greater consideration so that exploitation became the exception, rather than a rule in any sense at all.

But we live in very different times and the rights, conditions and systems of support which now exist at every level of business and Government for staff are already far beyond that which the Strikers of the Twenties would have ever dared to have imagined – even in their wildest dreams.

Few businesses would survive today for very long without paying wages that the market can sensibly sustain, or by providing conditions which do not genuinely reflect the value of any role within a business. Therefore, the question that we should now be asking is not whether business and Government should be forcefully coerced into paying more money in wages because of the threat of strike action from Unions, but rather if we as a Nation are already overburdened with Legislation affecting employers and their ability to create new jobs?

I consider myself as being fortunate to know and socialise with people from all walks of life and count many of them as friends. However, it has become increasingly clear that nobody has been insulated against the affects of our age of ‘austerity’, which itself has far more to do with the spiralling rises in the true cost of living for us all, rather than it does the efforts of a lacklustre Government tinkering around the edges of policy, covering cuts with band-aids when the breaks in our whole Society are so very much more profound.

Ironically, it is the very same failure on the part of Politicians to consider the full impact and self-serving nature of their actions (or lack of them) upon others and ultimately themselves that the Unions are now displaying – even by just talking-up the potential of a General Strike. Sadly, the similarities do not end there.

The horrible truth in all this is that neither the Government nor the Unions hold any genuine level of moral currency either in the way that our times of economic hardship have come into being, or by how either would act in their contributions to ultimately attempt to resolve it.

No group that is politically motivated, other than one which is truly and comprehensively people-centric will ever be ethically and morally sound. Until that time, the Unions would do well to remember that even the poorest of our Governments have been elected democratically and by majority votes.

However frustrated any of us feel, there are many more people suffering financial hardship beyond the realms of just those with Union Membership and there are far more appropriate and reasoned pathways to bring about the change that we all now need.

The 2013 Budget has created more perspiration than aspiration for those who keep on paying the Nations bills. It’s about time the Coalition Government started growing balls on their own Bench, rather than gifting their Opposition the opportunity to do it for them

March 22, 2013 Leave a comment

This week’s Budget has been received differently by us all and in a manner which illustrates all too clearly how shallow Policy making has now become when imbalance and impact are considered.

Talk of support for working mothers with young families, tax free loans for first time home buyers and even a 1p drop in duty on a pint of beer have done little to disguise the fact that there are so-called  ‘winners’ and then real losers at every turn. The Chancellor has done little to give any credence to his ‘Budget for an aspiration Nation’, other than the complexity of the words he used to speak this statement.

As a culture which now thrives on the use of labels and stereotypes, we have happily painted ourselves into a set of social pigeon holes where many of us hide from the realities which we share with many others. Successive Governments have formed policies on this basis which has left very few of us with any immunity from the pros and cons of a Taxation and Benefits system where the only thing universal is its level of unfairness and the disparity that now fails us all through its application.

Getting to grips with economic problems which are continuing to grow at an alarming rate will not be achieved by tinkering around the edges. Nor will we as a Nation be insulated against the gathering storm of explosive financial issues within the European project, such as those in Cyprus, unless Government begins to consider all Policies in terms of how they will impact upon all others and not just in the isolationist manner that they have continued to do so up until now.

A truly balanced and fair approach to formulating Government Policy now seems to be the most alien of concepts to our Politicians, particularly when party politics has been the long accepted means by which to target benefits to those whom are considered to be your bread-and-butter support.

But until the time that Politicians accept the principle of fairness in a meaningful way as a guide to Policy making, and particularly where Taxation and Benefits are concerned, nothing for anyone else outside the Westminster Village is going to change.

Government will soon have no option but to use systems such as a Flat Tax and wholesale simplification of the Taxation System if they genuinely want to treat everyone fairly whilst encouraging growth, prosperity and ambition in a way which balances the books.

Benefits must be targeted and restricted for the use of those who genuinely need them using common sense as a guideline, rather than the culture of tick-boxes which allows so may to play the System within a politically correct and fearful age.

Above all, Politicians must now accept that Policies created on the basis of improving rights in the workplace have now gone so far beyond their point of good, that they have made some of the very jobs they were created to improve unaffordable to the employers who at one time provided them.

Whether Westminster likes this as a truth or not, each and every Government Policy in existence today interchanges with almost every other, through the impact it has upon the lives of us all. Policy implementation may have its benefits to some, but this has for far too long been at the unacceptable cost to the many. This has to change.

Until Bankers and those within in the City regain some sense of what is right and wrong, Government must intervene so that the many in the world outside do not continue to suffer because of the profit hungry few left within

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

images (52)The Banking Sector has become an object of hate for many. The accepted perception is that it equates to a world of greed; that it represents all of the bad things that we associate with money in its worst form and that the Sector is immune from the impact of its own actions; a fact demonstrated only too well when private Banks are bailed out with Public Money and bankers get bonuses even when the businesses under their control are failing.

Recent headlines and the role of bankers in the financial crisis and Libor scandal demonstrate a clear need for real and meaningful reform, even before the impact from the domino-effect of unethical practices is considered upon our lives elsewhere.

With Finance and the role that Banks play being so important within our lives, bankers can no longer consider banking services to be ‘products’, as it has never been a ‘product’ that they are providing.

Services are themselves measured by the direct and indirect impact of customer ‘experience’ and the physical risk to all others, and the Banks must now begin considering this in the same way that any other service industry is by its nature required to do so.

There is nothing truer than the phrase ‘money talks’. But the Banks and Financial Sector have failed to take a long view of their actions and now Government must legislate to provide a Regulatory Framework which allows profitability, but does not do so without consideration of unnecessary impacts and the unacknowledged consequences for businesses and individuals within the wider economy.

Here are a few thoughts:

RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)

In response to the Banking Collapse, the Government at the time provided money to a number of the well-known Banks to prevent their closure, primarily because of the risk to the money that we all have invested in them.

One of the Banks which was ‘bailed out’ was RBS and this Bank is now effectively ‘public owned’.

Recent talk in the media suggests that the Government is now looking to sell off the Bank. However, with a significant need for a Bank which is not profit, but rather service-led, and can therefore take a more altruistic approach to lending and the provision of the banking services that it provides, Government should now take the opportunity it has to provide a ‘peoples bank’.

By doing so, they can provide the options for everyone that other Banks and Financiers are not prepared to provide such as ‘payday loans’ and higher risk start-up lending without unreasonable levels of interest or surety being required.

This will surely help the economy to progress forward by providing lending and support to small business in a way that other Government-backed schemes simply fail to provide.

A publicly-owned, people-centric bank would provide a cornerstone to people, to business and to Public Services alike when run only with the end-user and sustainability in mind. This is what Britain needs.

Credit Rating Agencies

In a recent blog, I talked about the unrealistic level of influence that Credit Rating Agencies now have upon us all.

Ironically, the UK had its Triple A Rating downgraded soon afterwards and Politicians really must now consider the influence that 3rd parties have in dictating the levels of interest that people pay to borrow from lenders, or indeed if they will be considered ‘credit worthy’ in the first place.

Government lending aside, nobody would sensibly deny that different levels of lending risk exist depending upon the financial history of an individual or business.

But it is often poorly managed lending which contributes to higher risks in the first place and improved regulation must therefore be used to restrict this process.

Through the Bank of England, the Government currently defers the setting of the base interest rate in a way which reflects needs in the wider market. All lending should reflect this rate; be realistic; be proportional and Government should drive Regulation to support this.

Pension Fund Management

Pension Funds are significant Shareholders of well known PLC’s across the Globe.

In the UK, their influence is felt by many of us each and every day through the profits we provide to Companies such as the big Supermarkets and Utility Companies, which is reflected in what few would disagree is a continual and disproportionate rise in the Cost of Living.

Businesses are of course created and managed for profit. But it is not normal for profit to be guaranteed within any business, and neither should the circumstances exist where any business can manipulate a market in order that it can be so.

It is therefore essential that Government Legislate to limit the influence of Pension Funds (owners) on the Management of Businesses which provide essential goods and/or services.

Prices of such goods and services should reflect their true value and not a level of profit that businesses of smaller size and with less influence through market share would not be able to reasonably sustain.

Futures

Buying, selling or speculating on products which do not exist would sound like madness to anyone but those who are actually doing it.

Gambling in its most basic form, futures offer a guaranteed level of income for producers, and the promise of significant profits for those who are prepared to invest in what is little more than thin air over a period of time.

However, they also extend the number of links in each ‘virtual’ supply chain along with the number of businesses or agents looking for a profit. Basic prices for commodities and food are inflated way beyond their true market value as a result and the end-using customer suffers most.

Government must legislate against the misuse of Futures in goods which are essential to daily life such as crops which have not even yet been grown, or energy which has yet even to be created.

Doing so will remove speculation of this type, which always has an adverse affect upon the end users who inevitably pay the most. It will also protect producers and the markets from unforeseen circumstances that nobody can control.

***

As with many other industries, the Finance and Banking Sector has simply lost its way. Growing distance from the customer leaves decision makers without any true master other than profit, and this situation can only get worse if it is left unchecked.

Bankers must ultimately be left to make their own decisions. But until they regain ethics; a sense of what is right and wrong and the responsibility not to abuse their position, Government must lead by example and intervene where necessary so that the many in the world outside Banking do not continue to suffer because of the profit hungry few within.

image thanks to http://www.thisismoney.co.uk

Meaningful change for this Country will only be achieved when Politicians accept it is their responsibility to lead us all in doing so

March 19, 2013 Leave a comment

grass-roots-headerMany of us will have grown up with children’s tales and anecdotes which refer to houses built on rock having stronger foundations than those built upon sand. We may have left the stories behind, but the truth still remains that you may be able to fill the gaps, paint over the cracks and reshape the doors and windows on the house built on sand, but its structure will keep moving; the damage will keep appearing in different places and the weight of the constant repairs will soon make the situation a whole lot worse.

If we really want change for the better, we must accept that just about everything with a Government hand upon it is now built on sand, and has been since ‘what’s in it for me’ career Politicians and party politics started selling us all the idea that an island paradise could be real life for us all and promptly moved everything onto its beach.

You get the idea.

So before anything else, there has to be at least some level of acceptance that it is not the young unemployed, single mothers with 11 children, disability claimants, immigrants, those claiming tax-credits, serial re-offenders, ruthless business owners, public-sector fat cats, unscrupulous bankers, or super-rich tax-dodgers who bear all of the responsibility for what they do.

It is the systems that we have in place which made it possible for them to be there; systems that were put there by many different Politicians; Politicians from all parties in Government at different times who were thinking primarily about themselves and their own electability.

Politicians must now put the fear of losing their position to one side and concentrate on making the best of their period of Office – however short – to deliver results on behalf of the people who elected them.

Seeking Office for what you can do for others and seeing it through on the basis of people-centric policies, rather than political ideologies and personal agendas will reap results surprisingly fast if everyone does the same. When they don’t, you experience problems like Coalition Government and times when everyone else begins to wonder if things will ever stop getting worse.

The current way that politics and Government works is not sustainable for Politicians, or for the very people who put them there. A Career is the story of one person, and Politicians have responsibility for a whole lot more.

Principles for meaningful change in British Politics

March 18, 2013 1 comment

grass-roots-headerMost people think that Politicians always lie and that they don’t have principles.

To achieve meaningful change for this Country, this perception must change. The sense of what is right and the sense of justice which inspired many Politicians into seeking Public Office, must no longer be compromised because of decisions made which are best for the individual concerned, or for the benefit of the Political Party to which they have become affiliated.

When I was first Elected on 2007, I was not alone in being horrified at how quickly it became apparent that decisions were made in Government on the pure basis of what was good for the Party, the Group Leaders, or was most likely to result in ‘good press’ or electability in the long run, before anything or anybody else was ever really considered.

Only sheer weight of numbers would ever result in any meaningful results which went against this non-democratic tsunami, primarily because many ‘junior’ Politicians do not want to risk disfavour or risk losing their Seats because they have been seen to disagree with the Party ‘line’.

This is not democracy in its correct sense and every voter is being failed at one point or another. The way that decisions are made in a proper democratic process is by majority, but the way that majorities usually get formed today is wrong, and this means that we are getting wronged the majority of the time.

People before Politics.

Every decision that Politicians make should be focused on the benefit to the majority of people; not the priorities of the few or of the Politicians themselves.

Practicality before Perfection.

We all like the idea of living in a perfect world, but perfection can only ever be an aim in an imperfect world and Politicians must make decisions based upon their practical impact; not just on what they would like to see.

Policies made in isolation lead to isolationist Policies.

Just as one policy may be used as an excuse not for enacting another, new policies should not be created without consideration of their real impact upon or collectively with others. Politicians now need to review the whole System and not use the size of this task as an excuse for not doing so.

Politics is better when it isn’t Personal.

Politics should never be about personalities and when it is, it is a sure sign that those talking are thinking primarily about themselves.

Fear is no excuse in itself.

Any policy made only with emotion and feeling in mind does not consider the wider picture and the full implications. Too many decisions have historically been made by Politicians because of a climate of fear. Over-reaction and under-reaction can be destructive in equal measure and however emotive a subject can be, emotions are personal and do not reflect consideration for what is best for the majority in its strictest and most comprehensive sense.

One size never fits all.

We are all different and policies must recognise and embrace those differences in all ways, but without recourse to any form of discrimination whether that be positive or negative.

Decisions affecting us all similarly should be made by Central Government, whilst decisions based upon Locality should rest in the Locality with Local People and their Political Representatives.

Central Government has as much responsibility to reflect, consider and act upon the decisions made by Local Representatives as it does have the right to ask others to respect the decisions which are made universally for us all.

Lifestyle choices should be for those living that life.

The preferences and actions of individuals should never be questioned or put in doubt so long as they do not compromise the physical safety, security, lifestyle and freedom of choice of others.

A crisis of conscience for one, is no excuse in itself to prevent the lifestyle choices of another and Government should never support it as such.

Government is not the same thing as a business, and should never be run like it is one

AU491810_942longThe word ‘business’ conjures up different meanings for different people, depending on their background and of course what exposure they may have had to its use or application.

Most will agree that its use as a term suggests enterprise and methods of working which would sit snugly within a commercial environment. But should this word actually be applied to the modus operandi of any form of Government when the two terms are completely incongruous?

Much is made of the idea that the best people to run Government at any level are those who have a business background. One of the current arguments against the demographic makeup of our MP’s today is the substantial lack of solid business experience possessed by those who lead the Country from Westminster, with the accompanying notion that MP’s who have run or owned businesses of their own would somehow automatically have an almost esoteric level of understanding and midas touch which would solve just about any problem. They wouldn’t; they don’t and they never have.

With years of Local Government experience as both an Elected Member, an Officer and from working within 3rd Sector Organisations alongside, I have also often heard the term ‘business case’, ‘business plan’ and the idea often suggested that Councils are now run ‘like a business’ in meetings.

The problem with this is of course that the political leadership and members of Councils rarely have ‘hands on’ experience of running any kind of business you could draw reasonable parallels with themselves, and when they do, it is often the case that it has been so long since they did so, that any lack of an appreciation that time moves on or that things continually change will soon erode any tangible benefit.

Perhaps worse is the ability that Officers and Civil Servants have been gifted by political demographics and the opportunity to use such terms in plans, which are then taken as read by those who simply don’t know any better as being a true ‘business case’, when such ‘business’ cases could never be any such thing.

Recognising the differences between running a business in its purest sense, and running Government under the delusion that it can be run as business has never been more essential for today’s politicians, because neither Central or Local Government are businesses, and the people running them have to stop believing and behaving like they are.

A business is of course run for the profit of an individual or shareholders. All decisions will normally be made with the form of pay-off that they will receive firmly in mind. It can be expanded or changed to meet the demands of customers as it sees fit, and a business can choose which customers it may wish to target and how much profit it will seek from delivering any particular product or service. Its revenues are never guaranteed.

On the other hand, Government does not run to make profit, but to provide services and support for all those which it has been elected to serve.

Run properly, Government would not actively target any particular group of customers to provide a different quality of service depending on the feedback or profit that it gets from that group, and would work to meet demand for services as best and prudently as it can, well knowing that it has a duty to do so without seeking payment from one customer to pay for the benefits of another, or to irresponsibly borrow money from lenders that it knows it doesn’t have the appropriate levels of revenue to comfortably repay.

However, Government revenues – as long as they remain sensible – will always be guaranteed, and it is with this significant difference that come the even greater levels of responsibility than no one business should ever realistically be able to have.

One of the greatest dangers facing us as a society comes from the fact that politicians at all levels of Government have either failed to recognise these basic differences and therefore maintain them, or have willingly abused their ability to raise revenues to cover badly managed services or implement policies without any due regard to striking the balance for every member of this society or in applying fairness to all, while they have given every thought to political expedience and electability.

The British political system is broken, because it has adopted those very same values of a profit-making business, which are to further the interests of that business. For politicians, this comes in the form of power, whilst they have ignored the basic rule of business as they have done so; the rule which states they must deliver profit to every single one of the shareholders rather than to themselves. Profit in this sense should always be seen as the delivery of the same results for all.

So if our politicians really feel that they have to treat Government like a business, they then must also realise that if they continue to keep raising the fees on the same old products time and again without offering new products and value for money, they will soon price their offerings way beyond the purse of the people who normally pay, and the cash will soon start ceasing to flow.

Government is not run for a financial profit, any more than it should ever be so for the bottom-line benefit of just the ‘staff’.

Whatever their backgrounds, experience and level, politicians must remember that they are the managers; the facilitators; the decision makers; not the beneficiaries themselves – and especially so where the end profit is not even perceptively the same as what it would be for a business.

The time has long since passed when the electorate could continue to live decent lives, whilst those within Government continue to focus on the end result for themselves. Government is not the same thing as a business, and should never be run like it is one.

The commonalities between bankers, blame-based lawyers and union bosses that touch us all and can only be dealt with by a change in the mind-set of Government first and the policies which will then follow afterwards

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Crazy as it may seem, many of the problems and fears facing society as a whole are inextricably linked and propagated by us all through a mesh of similar behaviours and actions. These are marked apart only by simple interpretation, knowledge, and the differences of public perspective that are all too often profitable for politicians and activists to retain.

One such example of this within this libertarian age is the ‘feel-good’ which comes from targeting those who most openly profit through the exploitation of others, and the apparent greed and avarice of high-level bankers and wealthy tax-dodgers has captivated ill-feeling within many. But is it really possible for just those few to ride off the backs of many others within a society which paints itself as being considerate of all others; or is this just the one end of a predominantly passive chain slowly strangling the UK as part of an evolving something-for-nothing and therefore self-before-all culture?

As unpalatable as it may seem, there is a distinct thread of commonality which runs from the profiteering of the hated fat-cats, through the behaviour of politicians, the influence of those promoting and making blame-based-claims, to the actions of union leaders and their seemingly strike-happy members to beyond in a way that very few would outwardly wish to knowingly associate. The sad reality is that each and every one of the self-beneficial acts that we probably at some point will have all pursued, goes on to have a negative impact upon others and usually so in a much greater number than just ourselves.

At one end of the spectrum, bankers and pension fund managers sat in plush London offices think little of the impact that pressure on retailers or energy providers to raise profits will have on end users – a point which may turn out to have been very well illustrated by the horse meat scandal and the continuing issues surrounding milk prices for farmers where margins are squeezed to unsustainable levels.

A few miles down the road, ‘career’ politicians make decisions which will affect 60 Million people based upon their chances of getting re-elected or promoted, whilst the oversold age of austerity does little to deliver any real reduction in deficit but leaves the very same people paying a higher price just the same.

Meanwhile clever animations with manipulated pop-songs and actors posing as glamorous lawyers promote the resignation of any self responsibility in accidents and the idea that somebody else is always fully to blame and must therefore pay in a very easy way, whilst the prices of almost every insurance policy in the land rises as a result.

Then in the papers, public sector union barons tell us that the Government is to blame for the slashing of services up and down the Country, when it is actually the unrealistically beneficial working conditions, wages and the limitation of responsibilities they have ransomed for their members over the course of many years which have contributed most to the destruction of a once enviable system which is sadly no longer able to sustain itself.

It is indeed ironic that it is the rise of ‘rights’ for the individual in the workplace and in just about every other part of life thereafter that strangle the rights and lives of others at every turn, and then come back full circle to a point where it is the jobs of those who sought those rights in the first place which are no longer sustainable because of the costs of the legislation and conditions that those very same enhanced rights have come to impose – generally because they have long since surpassed the point of doing good.

In every case, the public and customers at large end up paying through higher prices for food, fuel, taxes, insurances, lessening standards and losses within public services which are destroying quality of life and in some cases will probably lead to deaths if they have not already done so.

The true impact of the rising cost of living itself and the growing impact it will have upon low-income families and those in middle England who end up subsidising just about every other part of life has yet to truly manifest itself. But without change in each and every part of life and the way that every one of us approaches it, what we consider to be painful now, may soon become truly horrific.

Most of us do of course read every situation we face in life in terms of how it makes us feel and how it will impact upon us personally, rather than how it will affect the others involved, irrespective of how near or how far from us through a chain of resulting reactions they may actually be.

So in the same way that the banker raises profits by indirectly pushing the price of food up by continually pushing for better margins from the retailers that they own, union bosses demand higher wages for members so that they can afford to keep ahead of cost of living rises, with the ultimate effects being pretty much the same whichever way you choose to look at it.

Getting to a point where the balance is redressed in every sense is not a journey that any of us can toy with lightly, even though it would be politically expedient for any one of the groups discussed or their libertarian or profit-hungry apologists to do so.

The complexities brought into being when people prioritise themselves or manipulate others to do the same are enormous and much easier to embrace than they are to replace. Sadly, those who have become emotionally tied only to themselves without due regard to the result of their actions upon others are caught in a spiralling trap. One which is increasingly negative and encourages the growth of the ever evolving paranoia which accompanies the concept that all problems are of someone else’s making and that others must be made to pick up the tab.

Tackling a problem which is now cultural and has become so through many years of conditioning via the self-serving leadership of successive Governments is no easy task. Fundamentally, this is a problem which does not discern between demographics or social class and is defined only by the medium in which it is applied by the individual. It has been enhanced by the perception of close proximity, delivered by ease of communication through distance and propagated by the ease of buy-in which has itself been empowered by the two-edged-sword which is the media age.

Ultimately, self awareness and therefore responsibility of the individual has to be the aim of real Government as it will prove to be far more liberating and beneficial to everyone than the fleeting benefits any impractical plot cooked up by politicians as an easy and profitable crowd-pleaser.

It is the responsibility of those who led us here and are most likely to be happy with the status quo to lead us away from it and that is where the greatest difficulty arises.

Politicians can not only make the necessary policy changes to bring about a change which is much bigger than being about policy itself; they can also lead us in a way that advertisers, union reps and bankers simply cannot or never will be able to.

The real question here is where a change of this magnitude is going to come from when it is the political system itself which is responsible and politicians themselves who attain most benefit from maintaining the status quo.

After all, it is only politicians who have a genuine and meaningful mandate who will be selfless enough to take the risks to make those long overdue changes which nobody in Government today seems willing to outwardly contemplate. And these are indeed changes that are needed as a beacon for all to demonstrate a better way of living where a thought for all on the part of one is seen for its benefits to the one as a consequence of its benefits for us all, rather than for us continuing to live a life where the self must always come first and it seems ok for us to do so.

Osborne’s threats to break up Banks: True banking reform will take leadership by example rather than the issue of diktats to the financial leviathans for whom God is profit first and the interests of the very customers who keep them there come a distant second

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Commercial Altruism is perhaps an aspiration, but a term which certainly describes the kind of ethics that we need to see exhibited more often within industry and certainly within the Financial Sectors where its absence has been so painfully apparent.

Any resistance to George Osborne’s plans to require Banks to split their retail and less-stable investment arms in attempt to avoid further Taxpayer-funded bail-outs will hardly come as a surprise,  and particularly so when politicians themselves hardly exhibit anything near that type of mentality. But is this really all that the Government actually has within its power to do?

Few could actually believe the sums thrown at the rescue packages of the Banks which had effectively beached themselves through little more than acts of greed and complete disregard for anything other than maximising profit on the part of a few – all at the cost of people who have paid perhaps not just once through fees; but twice by then paying out on the losses when speculation – upon what is effectively thin air – crashed to the floor, as anything without true foundation surely would. The true wonder is how they kept the charade going for so long.

Forcing banks to ‘ringfence’ funds and therefore prevent further Government intervention through the creation of dedicated retail arms, is hardly likely to encourage a growth in benefit to domestic or small business customers. It is in fact more likely to increase the cost of basic banking services to people who already struggle to make ends meet and to those small businesses that need to be subsidised themselves, rather than to be given no option but to subsidise focussed services that banks are currently reluctant to give.

The development and provision of a an easy-to-access or ‘peoples’ bank which would provide the basic account services that everyone is entitled to access is the responsibility of Government, and should be set up as such.

Providing basic free-banking services in this way would provide Government with many advantages such as access to unfettered borrowing streams without 3rd party profit margins being included. But it could also support the administration of ‘smart’ card payments to retailers by customers, restricting the purchase of certain items by those being encouraged into work, with the added benefit of instantly losing the stigma which would be associated with payments made with a non-bank-derived payment card.

Better still, a Government-based bank run as a public service and with a customer focused culture, rather than one based upon benefits to employees and stakeholders may be able to provide many of the products which those on low incomes currently seek such as ‘payday loans’ without the utterly unrealistic levels of interest, and also provide the low-cost services and low-margin lending which new and existing small businesses need in order to survive and then thrive as we have so very long been seeking.

Creation of such a new bank – or indeed adaption of one of those that the Taxpayer already owns – would require a radical change in thinking and the type of leadership which has been sadly lacking in British politics for far too long. But it could be done.

The real question here is whether the Chancellor and the Government really want to affect change in the way that the Financial Sectors operate.

True banking reform will take a lot more effort than simply telling the banks to split their operations or even go back to employing managers within every branch.

Reform will take leadership by example and the provision of the best services possible for those who have the least money first; not by sound-biting newsworthy diktats to the financial leviathans for whom God is profit first and the interests of the very customers who keep them there come a distant second.

Fuel Duty and the OFT: Forcing us to pay more and more Tax on the essentials of daily life demonstrates just how far apart our Westminster politicians are from life outside and the reality of being British today

February 1, 2013 Leave a comment

This week’s announcement by the OFT that the UK petrol market is working well had fudge written all over it and was unsurprisingly met with disdain by motoring organisations across the Country. But just how much does the Government response tell us about the missed opportunities that they could have used to help us, rather than simply using a clever play on words which completely ignores the elephant in the room?

Fuel Duty is of course nothing new where inflammatory issues are concerned. Since the Fuel blockade in 2000, the presence of the Fuel Price Escalator has become only too well known for its wholly disproportionate use as a revenue raising device for successive Governments who have failed to address almost every issue concerning overspending at its root cause.

Use of Fuel Duty in this way has been counterproductive for many years. Whilst making already stretched household budgets even harder to manage for those who have little choice but to use a car to commute, its impact on the all-too-tightly-margined logistics industry reaches into almost every part of our daily lives through the cost of the delivery and supply chains of products that we buy and use each day.

Taxing a product which is effectively the lifeblood of the Country so heavily, just because it is easy to do so is not only morally wrong; it demonstrates just how far detached from reality and void of understanding our politicians have become to the issues facing the Electorate and how desperate we actually are for Government that sees 5 years as an opportunity to do something, rather than the time it takes to work at little more than getting re-elected.

The UK Taxation and Benefits system is far too complicated to understand in almost every place that our lives touch it, and it is little wonder that an entire industry exists to assists to help those who have money to avoid paying every penny that they legally don’t have to.

Worse still are the plethora of revenue-raising taxes which have been put in place on virtually every item that we buy apart from the very minimum of bare essentials. This travesty makes the inability of our leaders to tackle the root causes of the Nations financial difficulties all the more serious when market manipulation and unscrupulous profiteering by the City and its Funds comes ever closer to pushing more and more families into the state of extreme poverty, when none should even be there in 21st Century Great Britain.

In 2007 and as a new Councillor, I argued on the Conservative Home Website that the then Labour Government should consider giving the Logistics Industry the same concession as Agriculture and remove Duty from Fuel.

As just an interim measure, I have no doubt that the impact from such a move would even now have massively positive implications for businesses and the prices of goods. I myself have been in that very situation where a contract has been negotiated which allows haulage prices to be tied and raised directly in line with fuel costs and it is no easy task when those costs will be passed directly to the end user price of the goods carried. But duty-free fuel at an industry-specific level itself would not go anywhere near far enough and attempted in isolation – the method classically used by Governments as an excuse not to do something – it would simply create more deficit of the kind that as a Country we can already not afford to sustain.

Tackling the disenfranchisement caused by our system of Taxation is no mean feat. But the simplification and application of our Tax system in ways that basically make sense to us all, without being left having the inherent feeling that those who give will always be asked to keep giving more has now become essential.

In order to do this, Government will have no option but to adopt and embrace a new and holistic form of politics which uses balance and fairness across all policy areas as the benchmark. It could then more readily face difficult decisions today for a better tomorrow, implementing systems such as a Flat Tax, which at its worst would be relative to income and expenditure, and at its best would be universally fair, proportional and easy for us all to understand.

Cheap political capital is of course made off the back of what each and every one of us does or doesn’t earn and possess. But forcing us to pay more and more Tax on the essentials of daily life, whilst at the same time telling us that the system is fair, not only smacks of a Government treating the Electorate like fools; it demonstrates just how far apart our Westminster politicians are from life outside and the reality of being British today.

The sharp fall in number of young Police Officers: When Criminal Law once again begins to mean something through the interpretation of its results, then so will having a career in its enforcement

January 13, 2013 Leave a comment

As the son of a former Policeman who walked the beat on the streets of Gloucestershire in the 60’s and early 70’s, I count myself very fortunate to have heard those first hand stories of a time when the application of Law in the first hand had a profoundly different and positive impact within our Communities.

Whether you were an innocent member of the public, a testosterone and cheek-filled proponent of the misdemeanour, or a fully fledged member of a criminal fraternity, you would never have dared imagine how things would change within just 50 years and how little the Police and the careers behind it are respected as they once were. It is therefore hardly surprising that the number of frontline Officers under the age of 26 has dropped by 50% in the past two years.

But are budget cuts and a lack of diversity the real causes of this difference in public perception, or is there something far deeper and fundamental behind this change of understanding which leaves many wondering if the Police really want to do much more than target the law-abiding of middle England for trivial offences which often generate fines and leave the Nations bill-payers paying even more?

In a time when Police Officers were respected, the slightest fear or embarrassment generated by being stopped by a Constable would be enough to teach far-reaching lessons and probably halt the fall of many a young person, without any need of further recourse or entry to a Court system which at that time was frighteningly efficient in comparison to today.

Those who saw their role as a Police Officer as being a vocation were supported in their work by a system which worked on the basic practicalities that fear of an effective system of law create. They were confident in their actions, well knowing that when cases were taken before even a Magistrate, that very same system of Law would recognise that they had not taken up the time of the Bench or Judiciary without good reason.

But things have changed, and the actions of a few who abused that system, ultimately have made it impossible for the many who follow behind them today.

An obsessive drive by idealist reformers to eliminate even the slightest chance of conviction for anything less than 100% surety of guilt, followed swiftly by the heralding of the human rights of criminals who surrendered those very rights through their actions, have rendered the system sterile from one end to the other.

It is therefore little wonder that young people have as much interest in enforcing the Law as the rest of the Nation has in their contempt for it.

It doesn’t matter if a policeman is young, old; black, white; male, female: tall, short; fat or thin if the Law is feared which sits behind them.

It’s time that Politicians accepted that idealism in Law and Order simply doesn’t work when applied in practical form. When Criminal Law once again begins to mean something through the interpretation of its results, then so will having a career in its enforcement.

Councillors’ Pay: Throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment

If you feel at all cynical about politicians and their motives for seeking power, you are unlikely to have been left feeling refreshed by the latest row over councillors’ pay which has surfaced this morning. After all, one set of politicians laying out the stall to put more money into the pockets of another is hardly the story that anyone outside of politics wants to hear. But is the promise of higher pay for councillors really the only answer to better local government?

The motives for becoming a politician at any level are not what many would hope or perhaps expect. Whilst the pathway to becoming a member of a local authority may be based upon an entirely different set of aspirations from those who become MP’s, the biggest difference between the two is the full-time and fully remunerated nature of all the roles in Westminster which have propagated and supported the rise of the ‘career politician’.

As a Local Councillor myself, I can look back on my own political history to date and know that it was not money which motivated me to contest my first Borough Election in 2003 and come 5th for a 2-seat Ward. It was not looking good and being seen by others as having responsibility in a public role which drove me to take part in the County Elections of 2005 and experience a recount to finish in 3rd place for a 2-seat Division. But it was a belief in something better for all and the sense of providing a voice for those who choose not or are unable to do so for themselves that did push me to go out each time and then win my first Borough Seat in 2007. Sadly it is not the same for all too many others.

The reality of local government, whether you are Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP or Independent, is that it is a place of frustration for the well-intended. A place where the power to influence decision making in its greatest sense simply doesn’t exist – much in the same way that the handful of our better-intentioned MP’s will have discovered to their absolute horror when they first arrived in Parliament.

It is a cold hard fact that within any system of government where so many of the would-be decision makers have arrived on the basis of personal gain and advancement, it is that very same emotional buy-in which propelled them there that prevents them and others from doing anything truly selfless when it has even the slightest risk of making those selfishly-based positions any less secure.

Such fear has propagated the growth of an insidious culture within local government where officers are often left leading the leaders with their own protectionist based views which put jobs, conditions and the limitation of all risks above any decision which actually may be the right one for the Taxpayers who fund them. It is a pathway which over many years has led to the unsustainable cost of direct services that should never have even been put at risk; coupled to a future which above all else is inextricably linked to such wonders as the bottomless pit which is the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Increasing councillors ‘pay’ to ‘realistic levels’, will only encourage more of those with the same self-interest to step forward and to then fight even harder to protect their own interests once elected. Part-time career politicians would quickly become as prevalent throughout the lower tiers of government as their full time counterparts are at Westminster, and it is the very term ‘career’ which in this sense says so very much about what is wrong with politics and where the true motives of many politicians lie today.

Reform at all levels of government should be an absolute priority, but should not be restricted to executive, administrative or technical functions.

The political party system is also failing people as much locally as it is nationally and throwing money at more of the same just increases the odds of things going from bad to even worse.

Labour’s ‘jobs guarantee’ for the unemployed: Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Tackling unemployment should be an issue for any Government. But Labour’s attempt at generating meaningful headlines with meaningless content will do little to reassure either business or the unemployed about what the post 2015 future may hold. It will also do little to enhance Labour’s kudos on matters of care for the elderly if they are planning even more ‘Brownite’ onslaughts upon the pension funds of those who are already working.

Subsidising low-paid jobs does little to incentivise those who have not already taken them, but does a great deal for companies who need and profit from a low-skilled workforce; staff who require minimum induction or ongoing training alongside next-to-no supervision; all packaged neatly within a low-risk environment.

People should not be fooled either by the idea that cash-strapped charities would immediately benefit from having unskilled staff delivering services which may currently be undertaken by experienced volunteers, when such staff themselves would in all likelihood require supervision at much greater cost.

Perhaps I will not be alone in seeing the irony that the only businesses which can therefore profitably gain from the implementation of these ideas are primarily the big retailers, who are already targeting such groups for their shop-floor staff pools and don’t actually need Government money to help them do so.

The retail fat-cats must surely be laughing themselves all the way to the bank as they thank the gods of democracy in anticipation of the delivery of such idiocy made manifest in political form.

Getting people of all ages into work isn’t just about job creation. It is about empowering business, education and developing skills based upon the strengths of the individual, rather than devaluing the future of a whole generation on the basis of the weaknesses of groups.

If Westminster politicians were to adopt a more reasoned and practical approach, they might conclude that tackling employment issues tomorrow might be better served by tackling the causes of unemployment today. They might also conclude that the unemployed and disenfranchised young people of today, may well become the long-term unemployed and unemployable of tomorrow. Can it really be that difficult to see how many of these issues actually roll into one when you think ahead?

As Education Secretary, Michael Gove has impressed many with his fervour to return a world-class British system of education for school-age children. But will that really go far enough if it actually happens?

Children are always different and will always react differently to education. Some work best with their heads, whilst some will always work better practically and ‘with their hands’. Any system of schooling which therefore doesn’t recognise that difference and more importantly cater for it, is going to fail many of those who might otherwise go on to succeed – especially when that difference may just have been a simple issue of age and time at individual level.

Returning to a fully parallel and universal system of academic and vocational education from the age of 14 would be akin to pushing the first domino in a whole run of social issues concerning us now and for the future – however ‘un-PC’ they may be.

Removing red tape and legislation that currently prevent businesses of all sizes from employing teenagers at realistic wages during realistic hours and within the real-world employment environment, could give non-academically inclined children the real hope of attaining like-for-like qualifications through the timed-served, rather than the academic route.

Creation of the ‘apprenticeship-degree’ would bolster the competitiveness of British Industry and business of all sizes which themselves would then be able to draw upon an affordable pool of trainees, making investment in their future entirely more feasible; whilst taking Young People off the streets, giving them value in themselves, money in their pockets and taking them away from crime which the Country can already ill-afford to tackle.

Savings to Government from no longer filling what are arguably wasted places in schools could be significant, even if some funds were then redirected to tertiary and higher education colleges which support the vocational route for many of what would be the mile-stoned route to that real and vocationally-based degree. And let’s face it, degrees need to regain the value that the one-size-fits-all mentality of the last Government did much to destroy, whilst giving all those who actually want to work the opportunity to do so.

Getting the unemployed who want to work into work will always be a job done better by employers. Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

Rail fare hikes and tough talk on welfare waste: Today’s problems will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

January 2, 2013 2 comments

With a 4.2% average rise in ticket prices hitting rail commuters today, just how long do politicians think that rises in the cost of essential services, utilities and products will remain ‘sustainable’?

Stories such as this one and also the attack on welfare payouts by Iain Duncan Smith in just the past two days alone demonstrate just how little emphasis there really is in dealing with the root causes of problems, which may be unpalatable to those in power, but are nonetheless very real indeed.

As a businessman with both conservative and capitalist principles, I have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to be both enterprising and entrepreneurial throughout my career. However, I also learned very early on that there are basic laws at work within business, one of which is that costs will generally be fixed, but profit will always be variable.

Where this goes wrong in the economy is in situations where those in control of businesses are able to fix minimum profit margins and then seek the cost of investment and renewal through price hikes which usually only affect people and other businesses who themselves have no ability to raise their own incomes or margins to cover those very same costs.

Those reading this who have experience of the commercial sector in its broadest sense will know that the circumstances which generally allow this darker side of capitalism to thrive, only exist within monopolies or within industries which provide services or products which people must have; many of which were once in public hands.

The history which has given privately owned businesses the ability to dictate the ‘breadline’ or to become able to ‘profit in misery’ is a long one. Profligate spending by idealistic politicians who believe in the principle of something for nothing, simply created a situation which left others with a more realistic understanding of the way that an economy really works with little choice in the way they had to respond.

The age of privatisation was soon born and responsibility for its evolution cannot be levelled at the door of any one Conservative, Labour or Coalition Government, as all have played their part since the 1960’s.

What can equally be said is that no one person who can ask for the votes of many thousands of people, can reasonably expect to retain any sense of respect as an MP if they have accepted that responsibility and then failed both to recognise and then to act upon the damage and pain that such levels of power are causing in the wrong hands.

Yes we need travel fares that make a job worth travelling for. Yes we need reform of welfare, benefits and taxation so that there is an incentive for all to work and stay in this Country. Yes we need managed investment in just about every area of life and infrastructure that we could conceivably imagine.

But we also need Government which is responsible, confident in taking risks and ready to deliver reforms which may well include legislative restructuring of businesses offering essential services in order to limit what they actually make.

The failure of Government to ensure and safeguard basic costs for independent living is a root cause of many of today’s problems and will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

Labour Council Leaders say Government cuts will lead to public unrest. But the days of passing the buck for a free Pound have long gone and all politicians must now accept that responsibility has consequences

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Some Conservative Councillors will quietly sympathise with the difficult decisions being made within almost every local authority in the Country as the result of continuing budget cuts. But that’s precisely where any similarity in view will end with the content tabled in a joint letter to the Observer by the Labour Leaders of Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield Councils, suggesting that cuts in local government grants will break up society.

Look at our Country today and it is easy to see that we are already living within a divided society that is split by divisions which go way beyond simple demographics, political bias or the slashing of public services at just one level of Government.

These are problems that are far more serious than any senior politician on any side seems willing to address in any meaningful way. And the reality is that the demise of local authority structures and the seemingly endless range of services that they were once able to provide are only being accelerated by the ‘age of austerity’, and not caused by it as this document would apparently have us believe.

There is in fact significant irony that local authorities are also the victim of the philosophy and actions of the very movements and people who are so eloquently attempting to place blame on the Coalition Government today, for problems which have actually been a long time in the making within a system which has only been sustainable because of what must have seemed like a guaranteed bottom line to a generation of politicians who believe that idealism can be delivered without any thought for practicalities.

In just one respect alone, I found myself completely horrified when I first learned of the gargantuan percentages of Council Tax which go directly into the gold-plated Local Government Pension Scheme. Similar ideology has been rampant within local government decision making throughout living memory and any commercial business run with such an extraordinary emphasis on funding employees and their benefits would be as viable as its existence within in a competitive market.

I have little doubt that just these funds alone being made available for the purpose which the Taxpayer has the right to expect, coupled with the real reforms that every part of Government now requires, would deliver a significantly positive effect on what is today a very gloomy picture indeed for locally-funded public services.

Government and non-Government organisations of all types have for too long been insulated against the real world realities of profit and loss by protectionist culture; by the political correctness of socialist job creation; and by a guaranteed level of income which has now unceremoniously come to an end.

It’s time that everyone in positions of responsibility within all tiers of Government began being responsible, rather than looking elsewhere and expecting someone else to pick up the pieces or to pay the bills with a non-existent stream of infinite credit.

Political idealism is as ideal as it is practical. Politicians from all sides now have to accept and work with this reality. Otherwise, a new reality will continue to write itself which will go way beyond the fallout from wasting opportunities for change and from a failure to take full responsibility within local government.

The days of passing the buck and expecting a free Pound in return have long gone and all politicians must now accept that responsibility has consequences.

Flooding: A truly democratic system should allow for changes in Planning Legislation which will limit the damage which future flooding events have the power to cause

December 25, 2012 1 comment

Christmas will not be that merry for many who have been hit by flooding over recent days, weeks and what has now become months. Even today, news that the seemingly freak weather patterns that have haunted the UK in 2012 are staying put will be sending a shiver down the spines of all those who have closely witnessed or experienced the nightmare of being in a flood.

But is the perceived change in weather patterns the only factor we should be considering for future flood protection, or are the issues governing the severity of future flooding events far more deep seated, but with the potential for control?

In July 2007 and less than 3 months into my first Term as a Councillor, Tewkesbury Borough sat at what felt to many of us like the epicentre of a disastrous flood which demonstrated just how the impact of unforeseen water damage and a systematic failure to plan ahead can actually be and how its power can touch the lives of people who would never normally have reason to live in such fear.

Over a period of 36 hours, home after home in areas that had never been previously considered at risk of flooding became submersed by the affects of just 1 days deluge right across Gloucestershire. Whole Villages went under and for some home owners, many months of pain and torment lay ahead as driveway-based caravans suddenly became the only way to live, rather than the home from home that many choose to put on the road every Easter.

Perhaps the most significant consequence of this unpredictable event was the pollution of fresh drinking water supplies at the Mythe Water Treatment Works near Tewkesbury. Residents and businesses throughout Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury were left without drinking water for over two weeks and stories of water thefts and fights at distribution points soon made many aware of just how quickly the civilised facade of our society can begin to break down when the basic elements of daily life that we take for granted are put at risk.

Daily deliveries of bottled water throughout the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward thereafter and dealing with many flood related issues on behalf of Residents to date has provided an invaluable insight into both the flooding events themselves and the way that the whole issue is handled by organisations as diverse as single-issue pressure groups, local Authorities, the Environment Agency and Central Government.

One of the most concerning elements of that experience has been the illumination of the way in which our centrally-derived Planning Laws and Policies simply do not allow people with local knowledge to exert meaningful levels of influence on building which many quietly agree does not consider either extreme levels of river or fluvial flooding or indeed the more concerning and unpredictable rain-based or pluvial flooding. It is such pluvial events as in 2007 that can present those extreme volumes of water in such short periods of time that  rivers and streams cease to exist leaving an out of control torrent to create its own destructive pathway to its gravity-borne destination.

Most worryingly still is the apparent lack of interest from authorities in these pluvial flood issues, with most prevention work concentrating on fluvial targets and where anything else may be ceremoniously rebuffed with the excuse that such events are so very, very rare and perhaps a only a ‘1 in a 100 year event’. When coupled with such arguable intransigence as the suggestion that built-up land on flood plain by its very nature ceases to be a flood plain – irrespective of where future floods might therefore go; you might see that even politicians like myself have good reason to be concerned for what the future may hold not only for those communities already experienced with floods, but also for those whose experiences may regrettably be still yet to come.

It is a frightening reality that Local Authorities with Planning functions are at this very moment in time formulating policies and projections on building development for the next 20 or 30 years. Development which when even only in existence upon paper is by that very existence arguably irreversible when Councils have effectively been coerced by Central Government to let the development genie out of the bottle, thereby granting the wishes of developers who now appear to be out of control. Developers who have pockets deep enough to challenge any refusal to grant planning permission by those Councils who may go against what may actually be official advice and challenge on the basis of what is right. Councils that may if not already, soon be on the verge of bankruptcy because of other centrally derived and disastrous ‘one size fits all’ policies that are serving nobody but their political architects.

In times when sustainability is a Government mantra, the unsustainable practice of what is in effect unbridled green-field development has to cease.

Housing need must not only be determined by local people at local level; that level of development must itself be based upon what any one local area can support and not upon what Westminster Officials decide as being a requirement.

As a Nation, we simply cannot concrete and tarmac over fields in order to sustain exploding population growth which itself is not contributing either the equivalent or more of what it then demands from a paymaster which continues to function well beyond its means.

Long term housing projections should cease, not only for being the gift that they have become for unscrupulous land-banking developers, but also because we simply do not know what lies in store for us as a population next year, let alone that which may be the case in 30 more.

It is local people and their representatives who should have both the power to decide upon what is and is not sustainable in building terms, along with the right to say no to developers without any fear of unseen bureaucrats undermining or reversing those very same decisions based upon an external and self-serving strategy.

Mankind may not have yet discovered the way to change the weather, but a democratic system should actually allow for changes in Legislation which will limit the amount of damage which future flooding events have the power to cause.

Local people should have the choice to protect their homes, businesses and even lives right now. Not when there is nothing left insurable.

Toll Motorways: No Government can continue to charge the Taxpayer time and again for the same things and expect to be taken seriously.

December 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Latest headlines suggest that the DFT is now open to the idea of privatising new roads, and George Osborne is also now considering charging tolls for existing Motorway use too.

Perhaps many of us are mistaken, but don’t we already pay for this in ways such as Road Fund License, Fuel Tax, Vat on vehicle purchases, Vat on Fuel, Vat on vehicle repairs, Vat on Tyres, Corporation Tax on Companies providing the same etc, etc??? To be fair, the list probably goes on a great deal further; and that is about the only great deal that the Taxpayer and businesses seem to get when it comes to road use and transport.

One of the most significant tragedies and missed opportunities of this Coalition Government was the given acceptance on the part of so many of us that the Country’s finances are in a hell of a mess and that we had been fully accepting of the need to implement changes and policies which would have absolutely smashed the age of political correctness that is wrapped around and protects so many of the root causes of our problems. Changes and policies that if implemented, would easily have began to address the real problems which a post 2015 Government may well try to cover up with yet another return to profligate spending.

Few people or businesses can exist or move forward in the UK today without transport and therefore road use entering in to the mix at some point. The financial burden which accompanies road use is already arguably higher than is sustainable. So simply loading further charges on users who cannot earn more or charge more, when every other cost continues around them continues to rise, is simply outrageous.

Before anything else, existing Motorways require better management. Today’s technology may well allow for every vehicle to be ‘chipped’ and for road space to be allocated to keep overcrowded roads moving, whilst purpose-specific taxation is generated on a per mile basis. But such moves simply cannot be adopted as a method of raising additional fees and would have to replace or consolidate existing systems which do not fairly reflect levels of use and do not intelligently support the growth and competitivenness of British business.

Privately built and operated toll roads may themselves bring a timely solution to the hole in funds for new infrastructure, but will again ultimately allow profit to be made from essential services and functions for public use, where focus on the bottom line will only ever lead to even greater problems for the end user.

Top to bottom reform of all areas of Government, Benefits and Taxation are the only way that the true depth of this Country’s problems can ever be addressed and finding politically expedient ways of reducing the thin layer of jam between the bread in the Taxpayer’s sandwich may solve a problem today, but will leave the whole thing tasting rather sour tomorrow.

Politicians must now accept that you cannot charge the Taxpayer time and again for the same things and expect to be taken seriously.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all. Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Leaps in utility prices touch just about everyone’s lives either directly or indirectly. No less so because of the growing paradox which appears to be a guaranteed bottom line for shareholders, whilst customers continually carry the can for everything that any non-essential business would have no option but to absorb within what are today’s unalterable margins.

Public services such as Trains run under much the same guise, and the question really should be asked if the time has come when any provider of a key or essential service should remain able to have a free reign over charges and their levels of profit when the end user simply has no choice but to buy?

Similarly, margins drawn from the production and retail of essential basic items such as milk, bread, meats and vegetables must surely now be protected from City speculation and the stranglehold of the big retailers who are together endangering various food producing industries in what is little more than an obligation to sustain and build upon profits, laid down by the purely financial motives of their masters.

So what exactly is stopping the long needed change in direction which would embrace a true form of moral or rather responsible capitalism, which in its boldest form would serve to protect a basic and affordable living for all, whilst delivering an arguably much reduced cost for Government?

One of the key failings of many of today’s politicians is a fundamental lack of understanding, will and fortitude to deal with the deep rooted causes of the problems that we as a nation face; instead choosing to do little more than dalliance in dealing with the effects of bad or flawed decisions, then going on to repeat the very same mistakes when that latest remedy itself begins to demonstrate its flaws.

Be under no illusion, this process is not unique to any political genre or ideology. It is a deep seated and inherently progressive condition, made all the worse by a political party system which now serves only to propagate itself and those within it who effectively function to do the very same, placing electability before delivery.

Successive Governments, whether they have been Conservative, Labour or even Coalitions have done the very same things, albeit with a different wrapper. But with little more than a ‘fire and forget’ mentality, the consequences are plain to see and there for us all to share and experience in our everyday lives.

The commonalities within privatisation, right-to-buy, the evolution of the free market and even political parties themselves are that they were arguably all political creations with a great and beneficial purpose in mind for those who were the driving forces behind them.

However, like most great ideas in Government that come to be manifest, they have progressively moved beyond their point of balance or what some might choose to call good, and have gone in another direction entirely. One which has benefited the unscrupulous and cost those of us dearly who have the right to expect the protection of our everyday interests by those who we put in place to take that responsibility on our behalf to do so.

Acceptance that the evolution of policies can and will continue beyond their point of good is no enviable task. This is particularly so when many organisations, NGO’s and even Government Departments have been created simply to deliver upon questionable policies and their lucrative spin-offs. In many cases they arguably continue to exist for the sole purpose of existing.

Trades Unions, Health & Safety Legislation and European red-tape are all examples of well-intentioned principles which have gone way beyond their point of good. Even UK Taxation and Benefits no longer represent the equitable and fair approach that we should all be able to reasonably expect from a 21st Century Western Government and the implementation of truly fair systems such as Flat Tax are long since overdue.

Fear of driving the watershed of change needed in an age where we have laws for the sake of having laws; where blame is a national industry and where everyday people feel that Government of all levels has no understanding of the lives that they lead, is no longer excuse enough in itself to avoid it.

Painful as it will be, somebody will soon have to be big enough to take on big business, the City and the insidious money men who are continuously elevating the breadline, all in the name of profit.

Selfless politicians must set about the change of policy after policy which may well serve their political masters today, but remain lifetimes away from serving those for whose benefit they were apparently intended.

Effect-focussed Government has failed us all and not least the most vulnerable in society and shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted does little to help after the event.

Can we really move forward with a plan of something better for all if we never address the causes of our problems?

Is the distance created by modern communication and business methods removing basic humanity from our relationships and has the time come for a whole new set of rules?

August 1, 2012 1 comment

So what motivates you at work or within your business? Is it doing the very best job that you can; or is it simply to earn the greatest amount as quickly as possible and perhaps keep yourself in that lucrative job that you already have, maybe progressing you to an even better paying or profiled position?

Whilst admitting that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth just as soon as the realisation dawns that other people may have noticed; for a growing number today it will be the latter and for very practical reasons that they may never really have even considered at that. Perhaps strange then that it’s a feeling of guilt which often accompanies that understanding when it arrives, as few will ever argue that we would all like to earn more or have a better lifestyle if given the option to do so.

The reality is of course that people feel bad about making money when questioned, if they hadn’t realised that it has become the purest motivation or aim in what they do, rather than being the very healthy side-effect of a career undertaking or vocation, and then doing it damn well.

With a growing concern about the ethics employed within business, not least of all illustrated by the Libor scandal, one must ask if a loss of conscience is one of the very negative aspects that the distance created by increasingly elaborate supply chains and the rise of the Internet have created?

Many of us have simply adapted and in many cases thrived from the changes and opportunities brought into being by the rise of the Communication Age.  So workers within Internet and information technology reliant businesses are perhaps excusably less aware of the fallout hitting customers they may never even see from decision making which is without a tangible fear or concern for the ‘human factor’. One also wonders if they are therefore insulated from the future catastrophes they now have the power to create in what may seem little more than parallel lives, which to the more aware would only ever be dressed as distant elephants that look less than the size of a gnat on their horizon.

To perhaps emphasise the downside of distance more effectively, I will take a step back to an industry that we all love to hate. A profession that has always had the benefit of distance between business and customer once they have been commissioned; but a distance which is also created by time and process rather than by the remote contact of a broadband cable.

Within the property market, many are quick to become cynical of the inflation-setting-overpricing of houses and wonder how they find themselves unable to afford even a modest home.

Some would blame the gargantuan super-tanker that was ‘right-to-buy’ as set in motion by Margaret Thatcher, but can quickly forget how it was that very act in the first place which encouraged massive property ownership within parts of society where people would never have dared even dream of being homeowners before her tenure, and perhaps led to those very same people being able to aspire to making such dreams their reality to begin with.

Others would look perhaps more accurately to the realms of Estate Agents who have ruthlessly pushed prices up and up, month-after-month and year-after-year in order to secure greater and greater percentage based sales fees.

Estate Agents actually do a job that they could choose to do very well on sensible margins – even in a good market. But repeat custom is to them a very long game and if someone else is saying they can sell a house for more, it doesn’t take much excuse to follow or to lose out because the risks to them seem very distant indeed.

After all, very few owners will willingly lose many thousands of pounds on a sale just because one agent tells them what its actually worth, when another says different. The agent who ‘does what it says on the can’ will have ‘priced to sell’ and done what they were commissioned to do, whereas the second agent plays the long game, watching the market rise to the price they suggested, thereby getting the fee they want but paying little note of the pain that their customer experiences in the meantime. No wonder then, that so many Estate Agency businesses have stopped trading or been forced to make substantial cutbacks during the economic crisis.

The long-term effects of such business practices are potentially incalculable and one can only speculate on just how overpriced our homes now actually are, and how far back in time standards of living and subsequent social mobility could actually be pushed as a result of the out-pricing of starter homes for young people; a situation created purely on the basis of making higher and higher margins for just a few without any apparent risk to the many from doing so.

So with the rise of the Internet and information technology, many more businesses now find themselves enjoying a distance between themselves and  customers which is to such a degree that the abuse of such apparently lucrative opportunities could create all manner of future problems, which may only ever become apparent much further down the line.

For instance, a once heavily hands-on recruitment industry which only a few years ago interacted with perhaps every candidate who made the effort to post them a CV, has been replaced by one which has discovered a seemingly bombproof level of security from risk of losing fees by targeting ‘perfect fit’ or tick box candidates, simply by focusing on electronic advertising and administration techniques. 800 applications through an Internet Job Board sounds a lot to handle; but not if you have set up a machine to identify perhaps a minimum of 8 ‘keywords’ or phrases from 10 in those CV’s before the hand of a human with any kind of feeling will go anywhere near them.

Nobody talks about the longer-term threat to hiring businesses of all shapes and sizes that comes from recruiting candidates from what by default effectively becomes a closed field of applicants who only know and understand a specific discipline within business, illustrated by the use of a series of words. Words which may themselves actually just be buzzwords or the esoteric ensemble of a recent graduate.

And why in purest profitability terms should recruiters care when today’s bottom line is secure and they achieved it with the benefit of never having to even speak to perhaps 3 times as many candidates as they actually did. Candidates who may have provided the recruiter’s customer with benefits and untold added value which they never had the chance to see but paid for nonetheless.  A situation leaving perhaps the best candidates finding themselves removed from the running by a software package that reduced the time involved for the recruiter to all but a mere fraction of what they would have ‘wasted’ otherwise.

It is quite concerning that labour and cost saving technology for one business can itself create the opposite effect not just for one, but potentially many others. But then if you also look at the dark-art-creativity of the financial sector and money-making ideas such as cereal futures and funds that own shares in supermarkets and dairy processors, you can quickly begin to see just how the mechanics of distance and its ability to negatively affect the lives of many people actually are. After all, what is 1p on the price of a pint of milk every couple of days when you had a £1 Million bonus last year?

On the one hand, technical advances and the heralding of an information-based communication age encouraging openness and sharing is driving a potentially buyer-led age where businesses have no option but to sell on the basis of making ‘just enough’ profit and delivering quality on time every time.

On the other, the opening of doors to many more  ‘golden-egg’ opportunities which are great for those picking up the product as it is found, but like the ever expanding and deepening ripples from a tiny stone tossed into a still pond, can cause mayhem and disaster in places that they had never even considered.

So the question needs to be asked; Is the distance created by modern communication and business methods removing basic humanity from our relationships and has the time come for a whole new set of rules?

Pensioners, Social Care and the Questions of inevitability, independence & incentives lost

Getting older is one of the few things left that we cannot actually control in our technical age. But how much thought do you give your ability to retain that independence which many of us today simply take for granted?

Just last week, whilst walking through the rain in the local Sainsburys Car Park, I found myself being beckoned by an old lady who literally called ‘will you come to my aid?’. A non-starting car, a phone-call to discover that her roadside assistance was 10 years out of date and then another to drag a Friday-afternoon-weary mechanic out across Town, all paled into insignificance when she excusingly announced that she was 92.

This terrific pensioner regrettably had nobody whom I could call on her behalf to prevent her just sitting there whilst the time passed to the completion of her rescue. But to be fair, I wouldn’t want to make a song and dance if I found myself in a similarly unwelcome situation and would be lying if I were to say anything other than how much I admired her stoic independence and indifference to such items as the seemingly unused mobile phone, still wrapped and jiffy-bagged in the door-well of her car.

Sadly, not many 92 year olds will be driving themselves to the supermarket before returning home alone today, and this is perhaps where many more of us should be casting our thoughts in terms of what support is put in place for older generations, how it is funded and perhaps most importantly how much of that bill we should seriously expect pensioners with varying levels of need to pay themselves.

The issue of Social Care is jumping in and out of the spotlight at the moment. But are MP’s really thinking about the wider issues involved in this nebulous policy area; about how pensioners really feel about having decisions made for them about everything they have worked for? After all, many who have worked hard and been regular taxpayers throughout their lives are potentially being left without the option to leave something for their families, or perhaps even to leave a legacy to a charity which somewhat ironically the Government might itself need to look to for help as part of its push towards ‘Big Society’.

Many are at a loss as to understand what the term ‘National Insurance’ actually means in all this. If any one person can contribute to the NI ‘pot’ on the understanding that they will be supported when they are in times of need, but find that when that need arrives, a judgement is then made on whether they can help themselves first to outwardly save the public purse, can we truly believe that we have a universally-applicable, balanced and fair welfare system?

Evidence would suggest that not only is the welfare system inherently unfair to those who through their actions choose to regularly pay tax, but that it is those who have always paid who will actually continue to keep on doing so. In a modern, civilised and free society it is little more than idealism that creates a situation where some can have all for the price of giving nothing, whilst others can end up with nothing for the price of being forced to give just about all that they have.

The elephant in this room is a difficult one to deal with and most of us appreciate that fact. But we are living in a society where success and simple hard work are now being penalised in every part of life right up until death, and where making little or no effort is now seen to be the ‘right thing’.

No considerate person would suggest that anybody in genuine need should not be given adequate and appropriate help when they need it. But have we really seen the dawn of times when those that work will pay for everything and everyone else throughout their lives and get virtually nothing back in return?

Businesses are not inherently academic, so why are degrees becoming the prerequisite skill?

Latest news suggests that without more degree level education based skills, the UK will experience an exodus of jobs overseas to emerging economies. But when we already have students doing degrees just for the sake of doing them and a basic education system which sees school-leavers failing to possess even basic literacy and numeracy skills, should we really be thinking about pushing more through a university education as the immediate priority?

Like it or not, many young people are neither cut out nor ready for an academic pathway from or even during secondary education. Simply creating more courses to include a wider selection of students is hardly the answer and is fast leading to the existence of meaningless degrees, which won’t help business, and don’t help the students themselves who these days will have had to sell their soul to get it.

One of the greater injustices of recent political times is the idea propagated by New Labour during the 1997-2010 period of Government that everyone could be the same and do the same things. Such socialist ideology permeates itself by changing – or rather levelling systems throughout society to treat everyone the same under the ideal that to do so is providing ‘equal opportunities’.  However, as we are all different – and often in ways that cannot be seen with the naked eye – this method is not only obtuse in the extreme, it has contributed to the creation of a society where younger generations are becoming lazy and without ambition. When you add to this the burden of taxation which is placed upon higher wage earners for daring to do well and the resentment they experience if they do so, neither do you leave in place any real motivation to be any different or encourage the social mobility that the same idealist meddlers suggest to be a milestone of progress.

The good behind many ideas, policies and concepts is often lost when change is enacted simply for the sake of change and this is no less so within education as elsewhere. Whilst the technology age has altered the requirements for skills throughout the industries, the historic format of leaving school at 14 and becoming ‘apprenticed’ was a much better way to foster learning in those who were more ‘hands than head’ at the time, and could as such provide lessons in forming the basis of a very radical and effective way to change the way that we develop our National skills base for business and industry.

Why not:

  • Remove the burdens of red tape which govern the working environment for younger people.
  • Develop an effective subsidy allocation and training scheme to assist participant businesses to replace unused school places, ‘young to work’ schemes and unemployment benefits.
  • Give business a cost-effective motivation to support vocational or ‘on-the-job’ training for 14-21 year olds who in that time, may well have attained the equivalent of academic training in parallel skills and real-world experience, which may in fact have far more use to companies than ‘green’ graduates who refuse to stuff envelopes because they have a degree.

Business can only get the best from employees if they have been nurtured within a system which allows and encourages them to be their best – in whatever way that may be. Even the suggestion that you must have a degree level education to make an effective contribution is not only short sighted; it fails to recognise that a true acceptance of diversity goes way beyond embracing race, impairment, sexuality, location or social group and that each pathway to learning can be highly beneficial to society with real opportunities put in place to appreciate it.

Local Council decisons that really aren’t that local at all…

It was great to be present at the Annual Parish Meeting of Ashchurch Rural Parish Council within my Ward last night. But listening to questions raised within Public Participation reminded me of just how easy it can be for Councillors to take for granted what people actually know about the 3 different Tiers of Local Government and how equally easy it is for problems to arise when the expectation of the Electorate is simply left unmanaged.

As an Elected Member and Chair of Licensing at Tewkesbury Borough Council myself, I have witnessed first-hand how the frequent misunderstanding of where responsibility actually lies for the different functions of the tiers of Government can not only cause confusion, but create serious disappointment. More often than not voters can be left feeling that Councillors are completely out of touch – even at times when some of us are actually just as frustrated as the residents from within our Wards and feel obstructed by the views of bureaucrats that most of us will probably never meet.

Perhaps the area where this problem is most evident is within the quasi-judicial functions of Planning and Licensing.

The Planning process itself creates an almost continual air of controversy and mistrust; a matter not helped by the seemingly ubiquitous tales of corruption and ‘back-handers’ which seem to accompany a good percentage of conversations on the subject. Such tales of course would suggest that real decisions are actually made at Local Planning Committees, but the truth is not so straightforward, with Councillors and Officers (under delegated powers) simply interpreting Planning Law which has been set centrally by Officials and MP’s who may never have even been within a hundred miles of the location to which the Legislation will be used to apply.

Such a system is too broadly set to consider the very local factors which really should inform Planning decisions and this has been only too painfully apparent not only to Villages within my Ward, but to the wider Tewkesbury area since the July 2007 Flooding Event. This itself was perhaps the perfect example of why local people should be making locally informed and constructed decisions about local Planning issues, without the fear of overruling from the Secretary of State.

Licensing presents different, but nonetheless equally frustrating challenges which again restrict the ability of locally Elected Councillors to really deliver decisions and solutions which are based completely on that locality and the local evidence which it provides, rather than relying upon a centrally-led Legislative Policy which doesn’t provide anywhere near the flexibility and level of responsibility that those Elected to do the job should actually have.

The 2003 Licensing Act brought the Licensing Authority function within the fold of District Councils and away from Magistrates Courts. There is a lot to be said in favour of this specialist area being dealt with by trained Councillors on dedicated Sub-Committee panels which are of a similar format to a Magistrates Bench. However, the benefits are lost by the right of Appeal being automatically passed back to the Magistrates Court, where one might respectfully suggest that the trivialities of cases such as a Licensing Hours extension for a Town boozer or that of a Private Hire Drivers License for an unemployed jobseeker with 6 or more points on his or her Driving License will be seen to do no more than take up unnecessary time that could be spent more effectively elsewhere.

Real parity in both Licensing and Planning could be achieved by developing this type of system further to allow both functions to use the Sub-Committee panel system, but by also restricting and focussing the right of appeal so that the system cannot be left open to the potential misuse and manipulation of specialist advisors who know exactly what approach and to what level they need to take a case in order to achieve the result that their client wants, which may well not be in the interests of the wider population.

We have heard David Cameron talk a lot about Locality and giving power back to local people. I’m afraid that to date it has looked all too much to me like the age old story of taking back with one hand what the Government and Ministers such as Eric Pickles have given with the other and people just aren’t as stupid as such actions would suggest some Ministers think.

If the Coalition Government really wants to empower local people, there are many ways that they could do so and reform of the decision making processes and guidelines for both Planning and Licensing Law allowing local factors to be prioritised would be a significant start.

Without Government Funding, many Not-for-Profit services are unviable…

News has been making its way into Today’s agenda regarding Charities struggling as a result of Government budgets shrinking. But this story itself alludes to the differences between what are in some cases little more than not-for-profit organisations carrying out low-cost public services on behalf of perhaps a number of government organisations and what most of us would consider to be Charities in their ‘truest sense’, which are those specific cause-focused organisations which are rarely anything but funded by donations, fundraising and private support.

All enjoy varying levels of volunteer support and share the commonality of reduced incomes  – a factor not just brought about by the economies required by the times, but also by the sheer number of Charities which now exist, many of which duplicate the work and aims of others at least in part, if not entirely – literally creating competition for donors.

Together as the Third Sector, Charities and Not-for-Profit ‘service delivery’ organisations face very different issues in the drive to fill the gaps left by cuts and the short reach of Government and it is a little more than ironic that at a time when David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ looks to the service delivery specialisms of the Not-for-Profit providers, that the Government is itself reducing the funds which are their very lifeblood.

What many of us may not readily understand is that whilst there will always be some members of the public who are motivated to donate what are sometimes sizable amounts to service providers such as Rural Community Councils and Dial-a-Rides, the community focussed work that these very worthwhile 3rd Sector Organisations carry out, in simply assisting people in their everyday lives fails to have the same donation draw as a Charity with a cause which fires the imagination, passion and dare I say it fear of many – thereby  motivating them to put their hands in their pockets.

In simple terms, this leaves the practical reality that Government – whether Central or Local or through NGO’s – will always have to support the Not-for-Profit service providers within the 3rd Sector if they wish them to continue to provide services, as the public will never provide the level of support voluntarily to make public services provided in a different name available.

Whilst the services that these organisations provide may be low in cost and a cheap option for the Government to take, politicians do not have the option of stepping away from supporting them with some kind of misplaced idea that the public will directly choose to pick up the bill. They won’t and shouldn’t have to, because that’s one of the reasons they pay Tax…

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