Podcast Episode 38 – Victory for Free Speech, the Russia Report, Roman Warming & Junk Food Advert Ban

We discuss a recent victory for free speech, the report into Russian interference in our democracy, some recent articles published by the Global Warming Policy Forum and the Government’s proposed banning of junk food adverts on tv before the 9pm watershed.

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Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and the Blockchain – The Potential Future of Money

Economic Piece by Josh L. Ascough

When writing about the subject of money, I think it’s worth having a bit of fun by quoting the Monty Python Money song:

“There is nothing quite as wonderful as money. There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash. Some people say it’s folly, but I’d rather have the lolly. With money you can make a splash.

You can keep your Marxist ways, for it’s only just a phase… Money makes the world go round!” ~ Monty Python The Money Song

“Money is quite literally the life blood of any economy, and a people’s ability to communicate value to one another”

Money has played one of the most important roles in our ability to communicate throughout the world of commerce. Thanks to money, we are better equipped to calculate the marginal utility of goods and services, which ensures we can evaluate the cost of production and the value of capital. Money is quite literally the life blood of any economy, and a people’s ability to communicate value to one another.

But thanks (or rather, no thanks) to government involvement and its monopolistic grip over the monetary sphere, money has not advanced in 100 years; in fact, it has gotten worse.

“money never used to be a symbol of ‘national sovereignty’, in fact during the period of the classical gold standard, money was not nationalised; it was an international means of calculating value via the means of value to weight ratio and arithmetic”

Not many people realise, but money never used to be a symbol of “national sovereignty”, in fact during the period of the classical gold standard, money was not nationalised; it was an international means of calculating value via the means of value to weight ratio and arithmetic. Gold was gold. It did not matter what brand was on the coin as it was all in the form of precious metals.

Sadly, we went down a very damning path by nationalising money, and giving full control over the monetary sphere to governments and the central banks. We took what was a once a bottom-up process based on market democracy, and turned it into a top-down process based on institutional, cartel-like tyranny.

However, though governments will fight hard to not resurrect the gold standard, we have an alternative to the monopolistic, monolithic hold over our money. Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of Cryptocurrency.

Before we delve into the subject of Cryptocurrency I think it is important to debunk an idea that has circulated for a while:

Where does money come from?

There has been this strange consensus for a while that could be the root of the idea for assumed consent of taxes; which is that money is created by government.

This is in fact not true in any sense. In fact it is actually the complete opposite.

Money has always been a creation of the private, organic markets. When I say the private market, I don’t mean a CEO of a company creates a money and says “this is money, and this is how much it is worth.” Rather, I’m referring to the organic process of human interaction. I’ll try not to turn this into an article on the creation of money, but I will attempt to explain this through a chronological ordering:

Let’s say there is a community with no money and it is operating in a system of barter. Barter is a system with no commodity for the means of exchange and so those wishing to acquire goods and services will trade economic goods for economic goods, via the means of Direct Exchange; for example let’s say I grow wheat and you raise cows. I have 50 crates of wheat, enough to serve my immediate needs via 2 crates and enough to keep aside for future use via 10, yet I can further satisfy my needs by acquiring a cow.

You are raising 20 cows, you hold 1 for an immediate food source, 5 for future food sources, 2 for milk which you use to drink and create butter, and 4 for breeding, yet you can also further satisfy your needs by acquiring wheat.

Your uses for the wheat equate to you requiring 20, and you hold the use value you hold over the 8 cows as being below that of 20 crates. My use for the cow equates to requiring 4, and I hold the use value I hold over the 38 crates as being lower than the 4 cows.

In all economic activity we are seeking to increase our value by trading goods we deem to have lower value for ourselves, and so if I value 4 cows to be equal in value to my 38 crates of wheat and was to trade the exact amount, I would not be gaining value. The same is true for the other side; If you value your 8 cows to be equal to 20 crates and you were to trade the exact amount, you would not be gaining value – therefore the ratio for me to gain would mean I’m willing to trade no more than 37 crates, and in order for you to gain you are willing to trade no more than 7 cows.

We agree to a trade by you acquiring 30 crates of wheat in exchange for me gaining 6 cows.

30 crates = 6 cows.

This system of barter is all well and good until a few issues arise.

Within a system of barter, we rely on a coincidence of wants; we are focused on the necessity of our neighbours coincidently having a need that can be satisfied through the use of what his fellows have, and vice versa.

Additionally, the perishability of goods is another problem. If you are growing wheat, and your neighbour says he doesn’t want wheat now, but he probably will in the future. The problem here is that wheat doesn’t last forever, after a period of time it will shrivel up and be incompatible for the uses it could’ve served. Continuing down this, perishable goods cannot be traded over great distances as again, they will shrivel, grow mould and become unable to satisfy the needs they once held use value for, so under this system direct trade based on the coincidence of wants can only be maintained within a local community; not city to city or nation to nation.

Finally the other problem with a system of barter, is the indivisibility of goods. If you are raising horses for example, you are looking to acquire wood and straw to build yourself a basic hut, and people have a need which can be satisfied through the use of said horse and hold command over the goods you are seeking, you cannot divide the horse into a multitude of pieces to satisfy both “buyers” and yourself, as the horse will then lose its use value, and if both the wood and the straw hold no value to you on their own, then even trading the horse to one person regardless of who will not form a gain in value to yourself, as you would be no worse off with or without.

Now the way in which a money is brought to the market occurs when an economic good, which holds use value, acquires the quality of being a means of exchange, by confirming a few important qualities:

Scarcity – scarcity is the primary requirement for a good to be deemed an economic good, and it is no different for money. If a money is not scarce, then it loses its value and ceases to be an economic good. A historical example of what happens when a money is made non-scarce, is the period of hyperinflation in Germany.

Divisibility – this could also be referred to dramatically as the indestructability of a sound or “good” money. An indestructible or divisible economic good, is one in which it can be divided into fractions without losing it value. A perfect example of this is the gold standard; if you had a 1kg bar of gold and broke the bar up into a thousand pieces each equalling 1g, the value of gold has not diminished it has simply been divided into more flexible quantities.

Durability – a sound money will be able to be transported across cities, towns and nations without fear of the money shrivelling up, and losing its value; this is very similar to the divisibility of money.

These are the qualities of an economic good that are required for a money to occur over the course of time within the market. So if, let’s say, steel was seen to satisfy a need which people had and therefore held use value, then an innovative, entrepreneurial individual would come to the conclusion that, steel is scarce so it quantifies as an economic good and the more people demand it the more valuable it will become, it is divisible/indestructible because it can be broken up and melted down into different quantities of different sizes and weights, and it is durable because it retains itself over long periods of time making it possible to transfer as far as other nations; this individual would decide to begin accepting steel in exchange for his goods and services. The steel now has gained a new quality, it has acquired an exchange value by obtaining the ability to be a means of exchange; it is now of intrinsic value.

If you would like to see further details about how money comes into the world, I highly recommend Carl Mengers book – The Origins of Money.

So, what is Cryptocurrency?

Crypto is a digital commodity which is created through the means of what is called Crypto mining; using specialized hardware to code at a variety of hash rates and adding blocks to the chain (Blockchain). This process takes a lot of processing power just like mining for gold. The Hash rate is the speed at which a software is able to complete the operation of accessing crypto code; the greater your hash rate the more crypto you’ll be able to mine.

There are a wide variety of Cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin being the most famous and most valuable; at the time of writing this (24/07/20), 1 BTC is valued at £7,498. Other forms of Crypto are Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

At the time of writing this, they are valued at:

1 ETH = £221.

1 XRP = £0.16.

1 BCH = £184.

1 LTC = £34.97.

Cryptocurrency has all the qualities that require a money to come on to the market.

“These mechanisms ensure that only a fixed quantity of each Cryptocurrency can be created through coding regardless of the hash rate. So once a maximum quantity has been created, no more for that particular Cryptocurrency can be brought into existence”

It is a scarce resource. Many may say, how can something with no physical qualities be scarce? Well that is thanks to the mechanisms operating within the Blockchain itself. These mechanisms ensure that only a fixed quantity of each Cryptocurrency can be created through coding regardless of the hash rate. So once a maximum quantity has been created, no more for that particular Cryptocurrency can be brought into existence. This also ensures that it cannot be manipulated through artificial creation or inflation, and so as the production operating in an economy is lower than the money supply we will see what is known as Growth Deflation, resulting in prices falling; not necessarily due to overall supply of goods being higher than consumer demand, but because the money has become more valuable than the capital and consumer goods themselves.

It is divisible. Cryptocurrency can be divided between different coders, hashers, consumers, suppliers and investors without it causing the currency to lose its overall value.

It is durable/indestructible. Cryptocurrency probably has the most unique form of this than any other form of money, because all money, even the gold standard over very long periods of time will wither. Under the gold standard even though there were huge benefits to this monetary system, over prolonged periods of time the coins would lose weight and so a coin which originally weighed 1 pound, could be reduced by continuous use to say 3/4 of 1 pound or lower, and so that particular coin would be less valuable. Crypto though, thanks to its non-physical quality and being completely based in code, can go on, and on, and on; forever. Cryptocurrency is the purest form of indestructible money.

There has been criticism and questions over Cryptocurrency in general and I’d like to address some of them.

“So Crypto is just a money. What about a payment system?”

Cryptocurrency has a unique quality about it where it is both a money and a payment system. The payment system is built into the money itself, for example imagine if PayPal was its own form of money as well as a payment system; rather like how most modern gaming controllers have battery packs built into them rather than the battery being a separate aspect; except the batteries in the Crypto payment system down run out of power.

“The Blockchain not only acts as a massive database for all the Crypto in existence, but has built into it a ledger that keeps track of transactions occurring as well as keeping a log of what belongs to who”

“If it is all digital how do you know what belongs to who?”

The Blockchain not only acts as a massive database for all the Crypto in existence, but has built into it a ledger that keeps track of transactions occurring as well as keeping a log of what belongs to who. Note that when I say track I don’t mean the ledger is keeping track of what you buy or who where the money is going; to keep with the privacy of Cryptocurrency, the ledger tracks when transactions occur, and how much; that’s it.

“How secure is Crypto; could I get hacked?”

Just as any piece of technology, there is always a possibility that your wallet could get hacked, but at the current period of time, unless someone has access to your private key; which is built into each individual wallet that only the owner has access to, it would be impossible to hack into someone’s account and steal your money without requesting money first, which is done by sharing your public key to customers or businesses, which is used to enact transactions.

I would like to rewind my statement earlier about it being a money and a payment system, as with the information on the private key it can be noted as being three; a money, a payment system and a personal private bank.

“What about the crash that happened to Bitcoin in 2017?”

This has often been thrown around in an attempt to discredit Crypto in general, however the reason the crash happened is very straight forward and, while it is something skilled techno-minded people are looking to solve, from an economic position its reasoning comes down to artificial barriers in the way.

Crypto has all the qualities of a money. It is scarce, divisible, durable, it holds exchange value and is a means of exchange. However, at the time, it did not hold use value because it could not be used in large numbers of transactions; so as large numbers of people were increasing the demand and overall value of Bitcoin, when it was realised it couldn’t be used speculation went against its favour and caused the value to drop. Now as stated, there are very skilled technically minded people working on ensuring it has usability, however I would argue it comes more down to governments holding a monopoly on what money is “meant” to be, and so blocking any and all competition for better, more efficient means of exchange. There is also the aspect that not all businesses wish to commit to transactions in Crypto, but no money ever created through the spontaneous, unplanned order of the market comes about instantly; these things take time and the user interface has hugely improved since Crypto’s inception in 2009.

If Cryptocurrency continues to advance, and achieve better, faster and more user friendly means, we could see the death of big government faster than we could have hoped only a decade ago; we could see an end to central banking by adopting completely private wallets, storing private money.

Without full control over money, nation states cannot maintain their power.

Main image: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/crypto-currency-bitcoin-blockchain-3130381/

Interview with Sofia Svihurova, Brighton Group Leader of the Libertarian Party

One of the least religious places in the UK, the worst rate for homelessness outside London.  Home to Britain’s only Green MP and its first Green Party Council, the city of Brighton and Hove is not the first place you think of fertile as ground for a free market, small state party.  However gaining ground for these ideals is the role Sofia Svihurova takes on as Brighton Group Leader of the Libertarian Party.

Recently completing a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton, with a thesis on “Concerning the Right to Self-Defence in the UK and the Issue of Empowerment”, Sofia spoke at the Libertarian Party 2019 Conference about why she is libertarian.

Sofia thanks for agreeing to speak to us.

“To me libertarianism at least tries to uphold these rights and values, it might not hand you anything for free but it won’t interfere in your life either unless you’re actively physically harming someone”

You spoke at the conference about why you are a libertarian, but for our readers can you tell us a little about why you are a libertarian and why you joined the party?

My first introduction to anything anti-establishment was actually punk rock, I really got into the whole Anarchy in the UK mentality and I especially still have a soft spot for the Clash. It was weirdly enough political music that got my attention and then I mostly just watched the news from there and found out that libertarianism made the most sense to me. The most interesting shift for me was probably seeing attitudes towards freedom of speech, shifting from the Conservatives censoring speech to the Left doing it, and of course both sides now either blame each other for censorship or act like they’re championing it. For me, neither side really cares or represents the people or their rights. To me libertarianism at least tries to uphold these rights and values, it might not hand you anything for free but it won’t interfere in your life either unless you’re actively physically harming someone. For me libertarianism is just the most reasonable ideology out of the whole lot. I joined the party because I wanted to promote those values and meet more likeminded people who also saw liberty as vital to a good life.

“Brighton has a lot of potential for libertarianism. There are a lot of anarchist groups around with people actively volunteering and doing stuff to help their community instead of moping around waiting for the local council to do something”

Brighton doesn’t seem a natural home to libertarian Politics.  How did libertarian ideas go down on campus and more generally in Brighton?

You’d be surprised actually! I think Brighton has a lot of potential for libertarianism. There are a lot of anarchist groups around with people actively volunteering and doing stuff to help their community instead of moping around waiting for the local council to do something. And of course, the whole town is mostly obscure small businesses that somehow have enough customers to keep going, so I think there is a lot to work with! Recently, the council have been experimenting with the whole “car-free” idea, by closing off Madeira Drive by the seafront, and people are already protesting it saying it will affect business too much.  I think Brighton is already convinced of the ideas of personal freedoms and small state, it’s just the economic side that would be an uphill battle.

As for libertarianism on campus, it took me a while to speak out and say what I truly believed but I eased people around me in to my way of thinking and by the end of first year I had built up a libertarian reputation (for better or worse)! During my second year I managed to get on to the Philosophy Society committee and managed to get 2 speakers who weren’t strictly radically left, one was even a libertarian from the IEA so that was a win! In all honesty, now that I am thinking about it I wish I had done more but it was always so exhausting and felt like an uphill battle. I think there was one other person in my year who I knew of that was libertarian/conservative and stuck with their views from beginning to end.

Because of this I was mostly involved with Libertarianism in Brighton outside my uni. I first joined a non-party group, Liberate Brighton, who later became the Brighton Brexiteers. There I met people like Paul and Ian who inspired me to keep fighting the good fight even after they decided to step away from it a bit. We’ve had a few meet ups as the party “Brighton Libertarians” and had a good few people show up! I think it’s important to keep these sorts of socials going, even if we don’t always end up doing anything productive at least it allows people to meet up and speak freely and feel less alone in this largely left-wing town.

Your thesis was on “Concerning the Right to Self-Defence in the UK and the Issue of Empowerment”.  Clearly this was a major piece of work, but what are your main views on the issue?

Well, first of all I should highlight that, unfortunately, I didn’t really reach some grand conclusion. After doing over a year’s worth of research I mostly found out that there is no one size fits all solution. But my research did lead me to find out just how ridiculous the laws here are. Of course, pepper spray is still very much illegal. But in fairness you could just carry a bug-spray, just don’t tell anyone that you’re using it for self-defence because then you’re carrying it “with intent to harm” and that’s definitely something that could get you into trouble. Similarly, while carrying a knife with a blade under 3 inches is legal, make sure you’re not carrying it for self-defence reasons (again intent to harm). Legally the only self-defence item we are allowed to carry in the UK is a rape whistle. Which is ridiculous of course, there is no defence in that at all. Imagine using it in a big city like London, it would get about as much attention as a car alarm going off does. We have to be pragmatic about these things, telling people in the UK that they should all have access to firearms from tomorrow so that they can defend themselves is never going to work. Legalizing pepper spray might though, everyone I have spoken to on all sides of the political spectrum seems to agree with this. We can’t rely on the police for protection, those minutes, sometimes even an hour between you getting attacked and the police showing up could mean life or death. And if the US is anything to go by the police might not always be on our side anyway.

You’ve been at University during lockdown, how has this affected higher education, and do you have any thoughts on what more permanent changes we might see in universities as a result of this period?

We had our lectures emailed to us and just used Microsoft Teams for our seminars which only worked so well due to the technical difficulties everyone was having. I can definitely see universities simply uploading lectures online instead of having them in person. It would save on a lot of time and money for sure, hopefully for both sides… Seminars and Lab work or anything hands on like that are probably irreplaceable though. It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise, debating with people is already too impersonal with it mostly just happening online and whatnot. I think having to physically talk to people you disagree with is so important, even if you walk away with no minds changed you can always learn something from the other person, even if it’s just realizing the way the other person thinks so you can avoid certain traps or phrases next time you try to get them to see your side.

“The overall lockdown situation is pretty terrifying from a libertarian perspective though, the state has just decided to give itself huge amount of power, I am not sure how easily they will give that up again if they even will at all”

More broadly what do you think of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis and lockdown?

I have the mainstream view that the way they handled it was ridiculous. They change their mind about what we should and shouldn’t do almost every week. So many mixed messages for different groups of people too… I think they should have just done local lockdowns from the beginning and closed the borders for a bit. There’s no knowing if that would really work of course but maybe that would have somewhat controlled economic damage at least. The overall lockdown situation is pretty terrifying from a libertarian perspective though, the state has just decided to give itself huge amount of power, I am not sure how easily they will give that up again if they even will at all.

Now lockdown is easing how do you think the government should get the economy back up and running?

Remove a lot of unnecessary red tape first of all and lower taxes for a good while as well. We will have to pay back all that debt at some point, that’s what worries me most.

During this time we’ve seen an explosion of cancel culture and identity politics.  What are your thoughts on these?

To be honest I don’t care about these things as much as some people in our circles. I think that sometimes it’s just used as a distraction. Sometimes we end up spammed with news of multigender polyamorous “families” bringing their kids up identifying as spirit animals or whatever, but I don’t see why we should give it any attention, it’s all they’re after anyway. While we’re getting mad at them for making up new gender pronouns, there’s a whole elite paedophile ring investigation being swept under the rug, or new tyrannical laws being introduced, know what I mean?

As for cancel culture, I think it can be tough, but it’s also always been unavoidable. If you’re going to go on a mainstream platform and insult half the people using it of course they’re going to boycott and report you. It’s not fun to see when it’s someone you support getting cancelled, but I suppose it’s like the free market working, gotta keep your consumers happy so they don’t consume you instead of your content! I think the free market is already fixing this issue though, especially with Parler and Gab and similar such platforms gaining popularity.

If you could introduce or remove 3 laws what would they be?

Definitely remove. Firstly, I would get rid of laws prohibiting pepper-spray. Secondly, and a similar to the first one, I would remove the “carrying with intent to harm” law. And can I also say, remove income tax?

How are you espousing libertarian ideas in Brighton, and what can people do to get involved?

Now that I am out of university, I mostly just organize the meet ups and post on the Brighton Facebook page. The meet ups should be back up again soon hopefully, now that the virus is slowing down! If people want to get involved they should definitely just DM the page or email us or just DM me directly. I will be living in London from now so if anyone local would be interested in helping me run the Brighton page that would be great!

Brighton Libertarians are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrightonLibertarians/ or email: brighton@libertarianpartyuk.com

Podcast Episode 37 – Mandatory Face Masks, Cancelling a Mayor & the BBC’s Corbynista Correspondent

We discuss mandatory COVID face masks in shops, the Environmental Agency Cancelling a Mayor and the BBC’s Corbynista correspondent.

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Podcast Episode 36 – Mini-Budget, Council Job Cuts, Purley Skyscraper, BBC & an interview with Jayde Edwards

We discuss the reopening of pubs and gyms, the Mini-Budget, Croydon Council job cuts, the Purley Skyscraper and the BBC’s latest antics. We then have an interview with Jayde Edwards, a local Conservative Party activist who stood in the Fairfield ward by-election last November. We chat with Jayde about her campaign, issues affecting young people in Croydon, the Black Lives Matter movement and how she is inspiring more young people to get involved in politics locally.

You can read our previous interview Jayde at http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/interview-with-jayde-edwards-the-conservative-party-candidate-for-council-by-election-in-fairfield-ward/ and follow her on Twitter.

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We ask Jayde about:

  • How do you feel the Fairfield campaign went?
  • Looking back what are your thoughts on the treatment you received from real and social media?
  • You wanted to “inspire young people, I also want to bring something new to Croydon – a new passion and a new energy”.  We saw large crowds out to campaign for you.  What’s the lasting effect of their politically engagement?
  • In your campaign you focused on “Westfield and the promise that was given to residents”, and “Knife crime and the lack of opportunities”.  What are your views on where we are now on both of these issues?
  • What are your thoughts on the General election win and the more recently the impact of the lockdown?
  • Looking at your Twitter, you hold a more nuanced view than many on the Black Lives Matter movement.  How do you think we best move forward?
  • We recently hosted a podcast with people of faith talking about how their faith impacts their politics.  How do you feel you faith impacts your political view?
  • Lockdown is lifting, what’s next for you?

Lording a better democracy – House of Lords reform.

Following articles by Crispin Williams and Jeremy Wraith, Mike Swadling has written his views on how we should reform the House of Lords.  Let us know what you think of these proposals.  Write to us at Croydon Constitutionalists to share your views.

We shouldn’t give up on Lords reform.  The current home for failed politicians is simply not good enough.  I believe the proposals below would control costs, whilst providing a separate chamber closer to the people and widen representation in our democracy.

Alternatives

Possibly the very best solution to resolve the challenge of how to complete House of Lords reform is simply to reverse the clock.  For all its faults and failings the undemocratic house, full of hereditary peers, frankly worked quite well.  Under it we extended the franchise for men and gave women the vote.  Passed multiple Factory Acts improving working conditions, legalised trade unions, had agricultural and industrial revolutions, and built and started giving up, an empire.  We won two world wars against Germany, and arguably two more against France.  It wasn’t democratic but it was a system that, albeit sometimes rather slowly, worked.

Of course we aren’t going to return to a hereditary second chamber, but what should we do?

Article 3 of the United States Constitution starts “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

The Legislature chose the Senators to make them accountable to the state government rather than a party or other grouping.  Whilst in the US this has been amended with people voting directly for their Senators, as a model I like the idea for an overly London centric UK giving true regional representation in its legislature.

Alas the UK does not have the regional bodies in place to provide those senators.  The mixture of assemblies and parliaments we do have (Welsh, Scottish, Greater London, etc) are not exactly universally popular or respected.

Perhaps for all their faults we could use these bodies as an example of what we can do to build out a new house.  The Green Party and UKIP / Brexit Party whilst being diametrically opposed groups, have consistently performed well for the past decade but neither have managed more than 2 MPs.  Nationalist parties do better, but with the exception of the SNP in recent years tend to be under represented, and running or functioning as an independent candidate or member is a mostly hopeless task.  This is not so true in the regional bodies of the UK.  For instance Wales has;

  • 10 Plaid Cymru,
  • 2 Independent,
  • 4 Brexit Party,
  • 1 UKIP,
  • 1 Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party,
  • 1 Welsh National Party,

assembly members as well as the usual members from the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems.  The Scottish parliament manages 6 Greens and 2 Independents on top of the SNP, Conservatives, Labour and LibDem members.  In Northern Ireland in addition to the main Unionist and Republican parties there are 7 Alliance, 2 Green, 1 TUV, 1 PBP, and 3 Independent members.  Finally in London the assembly includes 2 Green and 2 Brexit Alliance members.  In all these cases, the local bodies have managed more representative models of governance.  Why couldn’t we do the same for the House of Lords?

Our most recent general elections have been fought in large part on the basis that you have to vote for the Red or Blue team to block the other side, rather than because you agree with them.  After 10 years of coalition, small majority or even minority government I see no desire for a form of proportional representation for the Commons, and indeed in 2011 we rejected changes to the current system.

Proposal

I propose for the House of Lords to elect members on a proportional system.  I believe this will be more popular for a revising chamber as it would not interfere with the requirement for stable government.  Importantly it would give the opportunity for more minor parties to have national figures, buildout a base, and democratically represent the people.

The new Lords would be elected using something similar to the modified D’Hondt allocation used in London.  London has a mixture of geographical super-constituencies with further members elected from a party list to make the total Assembly Members from each party proportional to the votes cast for that party.  In London a party must win at least 5% of the party list vote in order to win any seats.  That same measure could be kept for regional groupings or a lower national number could be used.  A consequence of this would be sizable groupings for the Green Party and Brexit Party.  You would also likely see a small number of Lords representing the Yorkshire Party, Christian Peoples Alliance, UKIP and even the Independent Group for Change (if you can remember them).  This would be great for democracy.  These parties have support, even when running in almost impossible first past the post elections, why shouldn’t they and others have the opportunity to build a national base?

Differentiation

An elected second chamber then raises at least 3 major questions.

  • How would an elected second chamber differ from the House of Commons?
  • Would it not feel it had its own mandate?
  • How much would it cost?

All three can be tackled by making the role of Lords quite separate from that of the MPs.  The Lords today has 777 members.  A new chamber similar in size to the commons at say 600 members would reduce what we have today, stop individual Lords being too powerful, and allow for a reasonably large grouping of Lords for smaller parties.  A party getting 1% would have ~6 members, a party getting 5% (attainable regularly by the Greens and revised Brexit Party) would have ~30 members.  These groups would provide a professional backbone to these parties, that could start to compete with the 3 main national parties.

600 Lords would be expensive, so I propose we make them part time.  Pay them half of what an MP is on, and reduce their hours accordingly.  A revising chamber needs time to study legislation and debate, but this is not the amount of time needed in the commons.  Have regular hours and sittings, and encourage the Lords to have outside work.  This way they will more closely represent us by working with us.  Have no expectation of constituency work.  MPs have become one part parliamentarian and one part social worker.  We don’t need Lords to undertake the same role.  They can be parliamentarians, working to set regular hours and have part time day jobs around that.

To reflect this legislative role, Lords would not need the expenses of MPs.  No local expenses beyond that to cover a home office, some travel and minimal costs for some public meetings.  Staff can work centrally and be attached to the grouping rather than individual Lords.  Additional specialist knowledge on legislation should also be available much as it is today.  Members would need to be able to claim reasonable expenses for staying in London but with dates fixed in advance these can be kept down and must not include paying for second homes.

I also propose the Lords do copy one idea from the US Senate.  That they be elected on fixed dates and terms, every 6 years with one third elected every two years.  This will ensure they reflect the changing nature of UK politics over time, rather than one snapshot.  It will give Lords time to learn the role and elections to multi member constituencies, with regional top up lists, could be held to coincide with the main local election dates to keep costs down.  Regular elections also keep parties more in touch with their voters and allow small parties opportunities to build support.

Future

These proposals would end much of the cronyism and see a new House of Lords with elected members.  Members focused on parliamentary legislation, members who reflect the electoral wishes of voters and in doing so allow new parties and ideas a chance to grow.  The members would not be overpaid with many having second ‘normal’ part time jobs.  Expenses and overall costs would likely go up but be kept in check, and we would retain the strong government model the House of Commons generally (if not so much recently) delivers.

Main Photo by UK Parliament – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sLZBWcPklk @ 01:06, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56761114

‘We are the UK of Great Britain and N Ireland… That Includes Scotland,’ – Sputnik Radio Interview

Scotland’s government has threatened to defy Westminster’s attempt to unilaterally control food and environmental standards post-Brexit, setting the stage for the biggest constitutional stand-off between London and Edinburgh, since the 2016 EU referendum. Sputnik spoke to Michael Swadling from the Croydon Constitutionalists, about this.

“Ultimately, Britain is a united nation. There was a referendum, independence lost that and they voted to be part of the UK and part of that is in international treaties, Scotland is with the rest of the UK.”

“I don’t think, unfortunately, we really have a judicial system that’s apolitical anymore and there are many judges who will grab the headlines given the opportunity.”

My own personal view is that much more government everywhere in the United Kingdom should be devolved and local people should have real responsibility but also consequences for local actions.

“They are partaking in the theatre of politics all of the time. I’m not really sure I can pinpoint anything they’ve actually done for Scotland, and sooner or later, the people of Scotland through the Holyrood elections will reflect that fact and I’m sure that will be a bad time for the SNP.

Full article – https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202007081079830229-we-are-the-uk-of-great-britain-and-n-ireland-that-includes-scotland-commentator-says-on-brexit/

Audio:

Podcast Episode 35 – Dr Lee Jones: Pubs Reopening, Immigration Bill, Boris’ “New Deal” & Hong Kong

We are joined by Dr Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and founder of The Full Brexit, as we discuss the reopening of pubs, the Immigration Bill passing through the House of Commons, Boris’ “New Deal” and the situation in Hong Kong. We then chat with Lee about The Full Brexit and the left-wing case for leaving the EU, his career in Academia, the woke culture in universities and the challenges facing Higher Education. We also discuss Croydon Council and the potential for an elected mayor.

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“It’s not just about hindsight, if we had been more bold and if the government had been willing to face down public opinion more,,kl not panicked into a total lockdown, then I think we could have had this calibrated policy from the beginning.”

“That was the advice they were getting from the scientific experts at the time that lockdown wouldn’t be effective, airport screening wouldn’t be effective, banning flight wouldn’t be effective.  So when the government was saying it was being guided by the science it was true, people didn’t believe them but it was true…..  then they abandoned that.”

“There will be political pressure on politicians to solve the underlying weaknesses in training and education, which there won’t be when there is a steady supply of unlimited immigration from the continent.”

“It was going to be a much more interventionist government, that was much more comfortable with state intervention in the economy and didn’t just want to leave everything to the market.”

“I also think tinkering with the planning system is not going to solve the housing crisis.  If you look between 2011 and 2016 there were 280,000 homes that weren’t built despite having planning permission.  So you have to ask why.  Instead of trying to deregulate the planning system you have to say why were we giving planning permission when the homes don’t get built.”

“We need to stop trying to squeeze tiny flats onto every brownfield site we can find, round the back of the supermarket, and start thinking about expanding into new dormer settlements.”

“Migrants whether they’re economic migrants or refugees, tend to be better off on average.  Because if you’re really dirt poor you can’t leave, you’re stuck. You don’t have any resources, you’ve got nothing to sell, you have no assets you can’t pay the people smugglers to get you out.”

Interview

“The EU is anti-democratic, not non democratic, it’s anti-democratic, it shifts policy making from spheres of domestic public political contestation like parliaments, into spaces of private interstate diplomacy and it locks in rules and laws that can’t be challenged or changed”

“Universities as institutions campaigned openly for remain, surveys suggest 90% of academics voted for Remain, and academics are a core part of the bitterest and most anti-democratic opposition to Brexit”

“Unfortunately there isn’t really very much of a principled commitment to free speech on University campuses, it’s a major problem.  I think we’re quite likely to see government intervention around this at some point, but they’ll never be taken seriously as being committed on grounds of principle as well as prosecuting a culture war, until they also wind back Prevent.”

“it’s not a majority of people, it’s a very vocal minority who cower others into submission”

“if you want to make students happy when they are coming and spending a lot of money buying a degree, then the easiest thing to do here is to make sure they get a good mark.  If you want to make sure you have a high value added score, also give them a good mark.  This is why there is rampant grade inflation”

Dr Lee Jones is on Twitter and online. The Full Brexit is online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Podcast Episode 27 – Dan Liddicott: Easing of the Lockdown, Rory Stewart, & the Fiasco Part 2

We are joined by Dan Liddicott, the Chairman of the Libertarian Party UK, as we discuss the impending easing of the lockdown restrictions, the end of Rory Stewart’s Mayoral campaign and the latest in the fiasco that is the Electoral Commission. We then chat with Dan about his role with the Libertarian Party and their plans for the future.

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On the next election: “I’d like to get 30 odd candidates stand and I’d like to have them get more than a 1000 votes each. That’s what I’d like to see, at that point the press and the national attention starts to look at you.”

‪“We are the only ones that understand the importance of defending the smallest minority of all, which is you the individual”‬

‪On the Electoral Commission: “it’s incompetence or it is activism. Which one is it? Because it isn’t nether, and I’m very concerned, if it’s the later, if it’s activism, then we’ve got a serious problem in this country”

“We are under emergency powers, if policy is being decided by just 4 people, that’s not great is it? We need more scrutiny than that”

For more on Dan:

https://twitter.com/danliddicottlp?lang=en

https://libertarianparty.co.uk/our-people/

http://danliddicott.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DanLiddicottLibertarian/