EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has claimed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will go back on his promise not to further extend the so called Brexit transition period.
Sputnik spoke with Michael Swadling from the Croydon Constitutionalists to get his views on the matter.
“the EU is frankly the past and maybe it just doesn’t know it yet”
“the UK will want to prove economically the huge benefit of trading with the part of the world that’s working and growing, which is basically everywhere other than the EU, rather than being tied to the part of the world that has stagnated for a decade and that is the EU”
During the general election we interviewed local pro-Brexit
candidates. Following on from this we asked
the candidates how they found the election and for any thoughts they had from
Below is the update written by Councillor Mario Creatura the Conservative Party candidate for Croydon Central. Mario’s original interview is available here.
In December 2018 I was lucky enough to be chosen to be the Conservative candidate for Croydon Central. At the election on 12th December, 21,175 people in my hometown chose to put their faith in me – I am sorry that it was not enough, but I will be forever grateful to every one of them.
It’s been an incredible year. Over the campaign my team and I have spoken to many thousands and ran a positive, energetic campaign. We highlighted vital local issues, like Labour’s plans to build on the green belt and their wanton destruction of community identities, as well as fighting to respect the result of the Brexit referendum and shining a spotlight on Labour’s illiterate economic policies. I am truly proud of the way my party behaved during the campaign.
Across the UK so many unbelievably talented Conservative friends have been elected – particularly those from blue collar backgrounds breaking through the so-called ‘red wall’ in the Midlands and the North of England. Our Parliament is lucky to have each and every one of them. It was the greatest result for the Conservatives since 1983, and the worst performance by Labour since 1935. We now have five years of stable national government, one that means we can finally get Brexit done and move on with our lives.
In Croydon, it’s well worth looking at the results of the two ‘safe seats’. Chris Philp’s majority went up in Croydon South, a testament to his incredible work ethic and stamina. Steve Reed’s majority was slashed by a massive 8,000 votes. The start of a worrying trend for Labour in London? If I were Croydon Labour, I would be very concerned about what this means on a local level for the 2022 Council elections.
For every candidate standing for election there are dozens, if not hundreds of passionate party volunteers helping our democracy to function. Every leaflet delivered, every street pounded and door knocked – it’s a huge team effort and they are all doing it out of love for their party, community and country. It takes a lot, particularly in the cold winter months, to forgo spending time with your loved ones and to instead pull on a waterproof and try to campaign in an election. I’m grateful to each and every one of them.
One thing all political campaigners will hear on the doorsteps repeated time and time and again: “we only see you out at election time”. It’s one of the most frustrating things to be accused of – of not caring about our community enough to be out all the time, not least because it’s just not true! There are some 47,000 properties in Croydon Central. If a single volunteer can knock on 100 doors in a given canvassing session, around 2/3s of people will be out. Which means each activist might get to speak to 30 people a week. There are 81,000 electors in Croydon Central alone – so it takes years to get around everyone once, which is why it feels like you only see us at election time.
So here’s my plea to everyone reading this: if you are upset by the result of the election in Croydon, if you want to get Labour out of Croydon Town Hall in 2022, then don’t sit at home complaining – get involved with the Croydon Conservatives and help us do something about it. We need good people to stand to be local councillors. We need talented locals to help us build a machine to take the fight to Labour over the next few years. We need bright, passionate members of our community to get stuck in any number of different roles and activities.
If you would like to find out more, then get in touch by emailing email@example.com and I’d be happy to meet to explain more about what it might involved – there’s something for everyone!
Croydon is my home town. It’s where I was born and where I live with my wife. I’m still a serving councillor and I’m not going anywhere. Croydon has so much potential just waiting to be unleashed – get in touch and let’s make it happen!
general election campaign all parties seemed to have limitless spending
commitments. Labour and the Green Party
truly believed that there was a magic money tree, but the Conservatives were
little better. No one with the notable
exception of the few Libertarian Party candidates seriously spoke about
no votes in shrinking the scope of the NHS, or reducing spending on
Education. With an ageing population it
is unlikely any government could or would want to do anything other than
continue to escalate spending on Health and Social Services.
however many areas of government where spending could be reduced. There are similarly many areas where simply
reducing the rules and schemes of government could result in better outcomes,
and less impact from the bureaucracy on peoples everyday lives.
I believe Boris Johnson is in his heart a small government man, senior ministers like Sajid Jarvid, Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg are likewise. There must be scope to reduce some of the pettiness of government and some of its costs with it.
Here a few
suggestions, that I believe are politically viable, and would fulfil one or
the impact of government on peoples everyday lives;
the tone that government doesn’t need to forever expand.
Ban departments banning things
Whether it’s action on plastic straws, free plastic bags,
smoking almost anywhere, alcohol minimum unit pricing or fracking, government
departments like to ban things. They
like to find little ways to improve our lives.
Here’s an idea, don’t.
In addition to the infringement on freedom, each new
bright idea, has press releases, memos, new teams, updates to manuals, revised
instructions etc. etc. etc. All of which
could be simply removed. This is quite
apart from all the time, effort and money put into the ideas that don’t get
How could you make this happen? A simply dictate that any government rule
change that banned something would need to be approved at full cabinet. Suddenly all such ideas, would need a killer
argument so strong all cabinet members and the Prime Minister would be prepared
to sign-up to them. That should dramatically
reduce the number of new bans. Cost
savings may be minimal as staff are moved to other activities, but this might
end up with the ‘crazy thought’ of top civil servants focused on their core
role rather than generating the next bright idea.
We don’t need to drive at 20mph
Road safety is Britain is great in fact we’re rated number 4 for lack of road traffic deaths. Everyone knows accidents at 20mph cause less harm than at 30mph, but there is little evidence that 20mph zones improve safety. Councils up and down the country have rolled out this policy. With some evidence these traffic measures cause accidents some councils are now looking to remove the speed limits. Huge amounts of money spent, making lives more complicated, infringing drivers, cluttering our roads, introducing a rule that wasn’t enforced, all the while not even making us safer.
Imagine if this funding and the transport experts working
on the changes, had instead been put into making traffic blackspots safer, or
easing traffic congestion.
We don’t need a sugar tax
What business of your is it what I as an able minded adult do with or put into my own body? If it’s not your business what business is it of government? Government does need to control for externalities, but what I do to myself, if we live in any sort of free society, must surely be up to me.
Almost as bad as the loss of freedom is the idea doesn’t even work. People simply consume more product to get the meet the same sugar craving their body has. It’s also regressive, the poorest households being proportionally taxed the most as food spending is a higher part of their outgoings.
Another government team we can simply scrap, when we stop the government telling us how to live.
Low interest government investment funds
Via the Public Works Load Board local councils are being allowed to borrow vast sums of money at currently low interest rates. This has in turn encouraged some councils to act as property speculators undertaking some ‘nationalisation’ by the back door in their own area. In Croydon this has resulted in the council owning the freehold to the Croydon Park Hotel and Colonnades Retail Park on the Purley way. Over £80 million was spent on these two purchases. £80 million representing about half of the £167.4 million of Council Tax raised by Croydon 2018/19.
There are large numbers of staff at council offices up
and down the country looking at these purchases. Arranging the loans, working with the leaseholders,
renters, and users of the facilities they purchase. We’re funding them via our taxes. Worse we are passing the local and national
debt (the Public Works Load Board gets funded, like much of the UK government
by borrowing) to our children’s, grandchildren and great grandchildren’s
Right now, these schemes do appear to work. The borrowing is cheap, the rents high, and
the surplus can fund services, but what if one of these factors were to
change. What if property values went
down as they did in the early 90s, or interest rates hit the sustained levels
of the 70s or 80s? What if your council
invested in the wrong part of town? How quickly
can a good deal go bad, it’s not like government has a great track record on
pretending to be a business. If it was
truly easy to make money this way we all would.
Cut this massive risk from the councils books, make them
focus on their core role, and raise taxes in the form of business rates from
the private investments and risk of others, not by councillors gambling your
money (in fact borrowing money in your name to gamble) at the property casino.
Simplify School Spending
Pupil premium, Sport Premium, Teachers Pay Grant and Teachers
Pension Pay Grant are just some of the unnecessary funding streams for
schools. It’s not that that funds aren’t
needed or well used, it’s that the whole teams or departments of people who
create, manage and handout these funding streams aren’t needed. Ultimately money is fungible, all these funds
just go into the same big pot.
In my experience, each year the overall totals tend to be
the same as the previous year plus inflation.
They just find a new way to make up the same income cake each year,
justifying the bureaucracy. Schools are
already judged on outcomes by their local councils, in exam results and by
Ofsted. We don’t need separate funding
streams for every bright idea from government, simply add the money to the main
funding pool, and make schools accountable for the outcomes (as they already
are). In the process whole departments
can go and schools will have clearer funding streams and not find they are awaiting
the latest special ‘premium’.
Money Purchase Pension
If you’re self-employed chances are you have a directors
or personal pension. Even most company
pensions operate the same way based on money purchased. You save over the years, at the end of that
period you have a pension pot, which will be used to buy an annuity and pay out
your pension. This ultimately is the
only fair way to run a pension scheme, it ensures your savings are paying for
your pension, and not creating a liability for future generations.
We need to move all new employees of the civil service and
local government to these schemes immediately.
Existing pension funds are in place and past contributions must be
honoured. Existing employees should
probably move to such a scheme for future contributions, but for now, for
simplicity have all new employees added to money purchase schemes. In the short term this could be more
expensive as contributions would likely be more than to the current schemes,
but they would be honest.
Assuming people work up to 50 years, in 25 years the government
pension deficit problem will be at least 50% gone and in 50 years completely
gone, that’s a good start. Government would
stop racking up undisclosed pension debt, and burdening the future.
0.7% of Gross National Income or £14.5 billion is spent on overseas aid. With a government deficit of £41.5 billion in the financial year ending March 2019, equivalent to 1.9% of GDP this is all borrowed money. That’s money we are indebting future generations with to pay to overseas projects today. Please get in touch with the author if you currently borrow money to give to charity. I don’t expect to be inundated with responses. No sensible person borrows money to give to charity why should government on our behalf? We know this fixed level has seen end of year trolly dash spending from the department for overseas aid, and some interesting projects like the Ethiopian Spice Girls.
Until such time as the government is in surplus lets pair
down this function. The cash level could
stay fixed for a few years whilst existing spending commitments run off. After that keep to true emergency funding,
and let private charity take care if the rest.
Immediately we should abolish the department, and merge it back into the
main foreign office, lose a ministers salary (or part of it at least). No doubt a support team could go, reclaim
some office space, get rid of a press team, and comms team, stop buying department
stationary etc. I’m sure the government
should find some backbencher in a marginal seat with limited likelihood of
promotion, and offer them a seat in the House of Lords if they can close the
department down in 6 months.
What do government departments do? What is the purpose of them? Are they delivering it?? All government departments should publish
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of what they do and how well they are doing
it. The down side is more effort will be
spent collecting stats, but even more, far more effort could be
redirected. If anyone in a department
can’t map their job to the delivery of a KPI, in all likelihood they simply
don’t need to be there. Any department
not meeting its KPIs should be prohibited from bring forward new ‘bright’
ideas. Whole teams of civil servants
could become dedicated to ensuring the depart does what it should do, not whatever
takes their fancy.
Repayment of debt
Let’s start a plan to repay government debt. Britain owed £1,821.9 billion in the financial year ending March 2019, That’s over £27,000 for every person in Britain. Let’s start repaying it. Let’s start a plan, maybe a Just Giving page, a commendation for people who give part of their estate to repay the debt, maybe the income from fracking, maybe ringfence part of an existing tax. As soon as we start repaying the debt, it would make little sense to keep borrowing, this might encourage government to live within its means. It would be easier to ask a politician why they are borrowing money if we are also trying to repay the debt.
Norway as a sovereign wealth fund worth a Trillion pounds, the Hong Kong and Kuwait both over £500 billion. We might not be able to do that yet, but let’s at least start to stop the rot, and make government live to a budget like most of us do.
Few people believe the civil service couldn’t cope with less staff. How about 20% less, a number I’m happy to admit I plucked out of thin air, but having undertaken many work restructures not impossible. Through automation and new working practices, I suspect they could cope with that reduction. How do we do it? Simple, for every 5 people that leave only recruit 4, this will take some time to fully implement, but no worries it could become a permanent feature of civil service life for 20 years. It would certainly make them think about rationalisation. Each department of government can organise what roles are replaced and which aren’t. I suspect we would quickly start to see fewer, communications teams, and diversity advisors and more people to do the actual work.
Qualifications for staff
Nurses now all need degrees, with some evidence that bedside care has diminished as a result. From 2020 all new Police Officers need degrees. I’m personally not sure if in the event of an altercation you need a Police Officer who knows the theory of altercations or a Officer who is willing to get stuck in.
Most government roles require more qualifications than I
and most people have, this can be true for even entry level roles. Cleary someone whose job it is to advise on
nuclear reactors needs to know some, nuclear physics, but do most need degrees or
even A levels? I didn’t and don’t have,
yet am not alone in making my way in the world, without these.
It seems reasonable that government roles are open to new
joiners at about the same percentage of level of qualifications as the
population as a whole. This would almost
certainly be cheaper that what we have today and create good opportunities for
large numbers of today’s school leavers.
Merge into their departments all Quangos
Many governments have tried and failed to undertake a
‘bonfire of the quangos’. Many quangos
such as Ofsted perform really important roles.
No one wants to lose their job or position, and this makes it incredibly
difficult to close any of these organisations down.
Then don’t, just move the accountability for them and the
function, back to where it belongs in a government department. Close down the “quasi-autonomous” nature of
these organisations after all we pay for them and they should be accountable to
us. Get rid of the separate paid
governors, and executive boards, their own logos, their own stationary (yes I
thing about this), own comms and press teams (and these). Move them into the government departments and
offices. Stop future separate spending
plans, it’s hard to believe this is worth less than 5% of the budget of most of
these organisations that’s at least a one year increase they could forgo.
No need to pay people off or spend money on merger costs, just simply bring them in house. Make executive boards internal staff on the same T&Cs, just don’t replace them when current terms end. Use up the current stationary, stay in the same offices until you want or choose to move, use the old quango name as the new internal department one. Merge non-core teams directly into the existing department wide ones, and keep separate IT systems until they are due to be replaced. Just stop spending more for the future. Simplify, simplify, simplify and see the size and cost of government reduce.
None of these ideas alone wipe billions off government spending. Together they are intended to set the tone that government doesn’t need to just expand it can also reduce. None are intended to be very controversial. All I would venture could pass without very significant public criticism, they might even draw out opposition parties to criticise popular ideas. We need to move government to a model that is sustainable and for the sake of all our freedoms controllable.
Taxpayers through government should protect and educate you as a child. Help you if you need it, as an adult. Then leave you alone, as the rest is up to you.
We discuss the momentous General Election Result and reflect upon the results locally. We consider the future of the political parties and the effect of the UK finally leaving the EU will have on them. We also briefly touch on the future for Leavers of Croydon.
Michael Swadling, from the Croydon Constitutionalists, offers his forecast for the election outcome in an interview with Sputnik Radio.
“The Conservatives clearly need to play the expectation game. They want to make sure their voters come out on what might be a miserable winter’s day next week and they need people scared slightly of a Corbyn government”
“Labour’s campaign change doesn’t appear to particularly have worked. They have attempted to become a more Brexit-y party with some of their core voters – I think people see through that very clearly”
“the biggest democratic vote on any subject in British history, which needs to be honoured for Britain to remain a democracy, and even if he [Jeremy Corbyn] was in a restrained manner in government, that would be a real systemic risk to the British economy”