Mike visits the Shirley Inn to chat with Zachary Stiling, the Heritage Party candidate in the Kenley By-Election and a GLA candidate. Zachary explains his reasons for becoming involved in politics and his vision for Croydon and London.
Universal Basic Income has become a hot topic in recent years; propping up in the news and mentioned by politicians from time to time.
The standard definition of UBI is a government program where every adult citizen receives a set amount of money on a regular basis; either weekly or monthly. The goal; as stated by supporters of the measure is to alleviate poverty, and to ensure every adult; even if unemployed, has some form of income to support them.
It is quite standard for the majority of supporters of UBI to be of a, Social Democrat position. There are however some Conservative-esque arguments in favour of UBI. These Conservative-esque arguments tend to be more based in deterministic elements of automation, and tend to believe UBI a possible ex-post rather than ex-ante; with the basis of: “if automation is inevitable, there should be a UBI on the table when that time comes.”
There are standard arguments against UBI to do with the ethics of redistribution, but I’m only interested in briefly talking about the economic pros and cons.
This pro/con dynamic really can be broken down to ideal and practical.
The pro of UBI, would be if we got rid of everything and replaced it with UBI. When I say get rid of everything; I mean abolish the NHS, Disability Benefits, Child Tax Credits, Government/Public Schools, and every other form of the welfare state, and replaced it with a UBI program, which gives people the finances and allows them to decide how they’re going to use it, based on their own ordinal ranking and marginal utility.
We would still have the ethical problems of redistribution, however, if it were an automatic program of transferring income to person A, the program would be less costly than all the current programs we have. Most of our welfare programs take up a lot of time and therefore resources, due to lots of bureaucracies and civil servants involved; so instead of welfare 1 going to person A, form 1 for welfare 1 goes to civil servant 1, to be forwarded to bureaucrat 5, so form for welfare 1.5 can be signed by civil servant 7 etc.
This means the idealistic pro of UBI, is that we would in principle have less civil servants and bureaucrats; thereby reducing the overall cost of welfare.
The con of UBI is very much a practical problem. There are other cons to UBI such as the effects of price increases, particularly if the program sees MV (money velocity) rise, but since our pro is an idealistic one, it comes logically that our primary con is a practical one.
The practical problem of UBI is that it is very unlikely that these other programs would be abolished and replaced with a single, simple UBI system, because it would be political suicide. Even if a politician explained to people very clearly and said: “We’re getting rid of the welfare state, including the NHS and replacing it with a UBI. This way money goes directly to people so they can choose for themselves where they want it to go, in terms of what they need to support themselves. All the money is going to go directly to the citizens.” It would still be political suicide, because then bureaucrat’s and civil servant’s jobs would be at risk. Under a UBI, there would be little argument in favour of having so many bureaucrats and civil servants, since money goes directly to people rather than to programs.
The likelihood is, if UBI was instituted, it would be on top of all our current programs; adding to the overall cost rather than seeing a reduction and a simplification in the idealistic.
Libertarians aren’t against welfare per se, it all depends where said welfare is coming from; for example a government program is coerced on to people, and forced extraction; or, extortion breeds resentment among people and violates property rights; whereas charity is voluntary and breeds compassion.
The UK is a very charitable country. The most recent, everyday example being the late Captain Tom Moore, Captain Moore raised roughly £32.8 million on a JustGiving page for the NHS, simply by walking back and forth in his garden. This was a sum of money raised in a nation with a progressive tax system, and under circumstances where large numbers of the population had become unemployed due to lockdown; imagine how much more could’ve been raised with a low flat tax system, and where large numbers of people weren’t forced into unemployment. It’s more than likely at least £100 million could’ve been raised.
As stated above, the UK is a very charitable nation, but one problem facing people receiving help is the absence of information; people don’t know there are charities out there that can help them. It’s anecdotal, but I recently came to the discovery of a private healthcare charity in the UK called The Benenden Charitable Trust; because humans aren’t omniscient, it is more than likely there are charities out there that could help people, but those people don’t know they exist.
This is where local government could play a role.
Local governments could advertise charities that operate within their borough, to help people become aware of charities that could help them. This wouldn’t do anything about the apparent stigma attached to asking for help however; nor is this something the government should get involved in because this would result in government’s watching what people spend and knowing every tiny private detail, and forcing them into accepting help. The stigma is something that could theoretically be lessened if people see what help is out there.
This short piece should not be seen as any form of argument for or against UBI, it should be seen purely for what it is; looking at the costs and benefits of a UBI program.
We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the London Mayoral Candidate for the SDP, as we discuss the opening of Beer Gardens, the London and local election campaigns and the nominations in the 5 Croydon Council By-Elections. We then chat with Steve about the SDP, his Mayoral campaign and his Vision for London.
For those who might not know the CPA can you tell us a little about the party and your main policies?
The Christian Peoples Alliance seeks to bring integrity, truth and love to the governmental arena. We seek to demonstrate how God does politics! Our core values are promoting traditional marriage and family stability, upholding the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, caring for the poor and needy, fighting crime and supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
At a London level what would the CPA like to see change?
The London Assembly holds the Mayor accountable for his decisions in areas such as London transport, police and fire services, building affordable homes, protecting the environment and promoting London’s economy.
The Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) has manifesto policies which detail improvements for each area of Mayoral responsibility. This election, we would like to highlight tackling knife crime which shatters families and ruins lives. A number of city charities are already doing great work in tackling knife crime and we would enhance their reach with grants. We advocate for kinship mentors, supervised youth centres and mounted police presence. Kinship mentors because knife crime gangs often engender family-like loyalties; supervised youth centres because young men need properly supervised, safe spaces outside home to spend time with peers; mounted police presence as it’s believed that mounted police (compared with foot police) are more community friendly but deter crime.
Knife crime affects young people from broken homes disproportionately. In the long term, we need to reduce these inequalities by supporting marriages and creating stable homes so that all children can have the benefit of growing up with their mum and dad.
This brings me to our second key London wide policy. All women (and girls) deserve to be cherished for life by their peer group, siblings and partners. Sadly not all are. This year we have seen increases in domestic violence, abortion coercion, sexual harassment, rape culture in schools, objectification and human trafficking. The police emphasise consent in their training videos, but this is not enough. It gives the message that it’s ok to have sex with a female, just so long as she is 16+ and says yes.
CPA believes women and girls should be cherished for life not just objects of convenience. We believe men can be helped with self-control of libido. In addition, we will review agencies funded by the Mayor to ensure they do not promote pornography, violence or undermine the family. We need more women’s crisis centres and education that inspires boys to be faithful husbands and fathers that cherish their families
We will protect freedom of speech and stop the police investigating non-criminal ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate incidents’, so they can concentrate on real crime not thought crime. Plus no mandatory or coerced vaccination, including ‘covid passports’.
I would also like to mention our care for the poor policy. We will work in partnership with the city churches/charities to support foodbanks and address food insecurity.
We will guarantee night shelters for anyone not on drink or drugs, with a meal free of charge paid for by the Mayor of London. We don’t want anyone sleeping rough. Those with alcohol and drug problems will be given specialist help.
In terms of transport, we would make Transport for London more accountable to passengers for its spending. Fares have been going up year-on-year for decades despite TfL’s huge revenues from fares, advertising, tourism and property.
In terms of the environment, we believe the current incineration of non-mechanically-recyclable plastic is not environmentally friendly enough. We believe the Mayor should be investing in methods which make plastic recycling circular.
My current role as housing manager in London gives me first hand, daily experiences of the housing issues facing Londoners and how we can improve our systems to make things fairer and better for all.
The party isn’t running a mayoral candidate, are you recommending anyone to vote for, and if not how will you pick who to vote for?
We have been mayoral candidate watching and are on the lookout for a candidate that is able to uphold our values. Unashamedly pro family, pro-marriage and pro- life. We have been quite upfront with anyone with we have met with that they are clear about our core values in their role as Mayor for instance welcoming the annual March for Life. We are aware however that the reality is that the race will be between Shaun Bailey and Sidiq Khan. We have recommended that our members and supporters vote for Shaun Bailey as second choice.
In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council. What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?
Detailed above are our policies on tackling knife crime. This is our no. 1 concern this election. In terms of reinvigorating town centres and supporting local businesses, we would use the proceeds from our *Turnover Tax to immediately half business rates with a view to phasing them out completely over time, in order to create a level playing field between online and shop retail.
*Our national manifesto policy: The CPA will introduce a Turnover Tax at a rate of 5% of company turnover, payable quarterly in arrears along with VAT. The threshold will be the same as the VAT threshold, currently £85,000. This is intended to ensure that appropriate tax is collected from those multi-national companies who make their money by selling in the UK but transfer their profits overseas by way of ‘licence’ and other ‘costs’ or ‘invoice’ addresses. This will be a fairer company tax system across the board and eventually make buying online taxed at the same level as buying in shops.
How much will this raise?
The total turnover of the UK economy in 2017 was £2.62 trillion 5 — 5% of which gives £106.5bn. The Turnover Tax would be offset against Corporation tax which raised £56.1bn in 2017/18 despite the rate being cut. Small companies would be exempt and we would look to introduce other fair exemptions which would take away about £20bn. Some Corporation Tax would be more than the Turnover Tax but we estimate that would generate at least £32bn which would be spent funding the following key manifesto pledges:
• £15bn on reducing Commercial Rates to help our city centres
• £12bn on restoring the Government benefit cuts, so we can make Universal Credit work
• £3bn on supporting marriage and the family through our grant system
If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority and what would you like to achieve?
As a female, black Londoner, born and bred, I would like to offer a pro-family, pro-marriage and pro-life voice. I would raise the profile of the issues surrounding women’s inequalities and the vital importance of a biblical worldview being applied in a very practical real way to everyday life in the governmental political arena. In this cancel culture I will be championing free speech, particularly allowing our police force to police real crime and not tweets! I am not really about using my ethnicity to get votes what is more important to me is to represent all Londoners to create a city that is prosperous, and safe. Holding the mayor to account on the London Assembly would afford the CPA a wonderful opportunity to ensure that Christians are represented in GLA and have a voice where it matters!
How do people find out more and get in contact or involved?
On Tuesday 13th April Laurence Fox, Leader of the Reclaim Party and candidate for Mayor of London was in Bromley.
Just after 11.00am Laurence’s battle bus, an open top Routemaster, took Laurence and supporters into Bromley town centre. Laurence went to the main pedestrian shopping precinct and chatted to passers-by, whilst others gave out leaflets.
The standard theory of the market as it is expressed in the classic supply and demand curve, also known as the Marshallian curve or cross, notes that the price gravitates towards the quantity supplied by the quantity demanded, and that this ensure a state of equilibrium.
This is undeniably a very useful tool for giving a 30 minute talk on economics for a short and sweet answer; but it’s all wrong.
The claim that the Marshallian Cross is wrong does not invalidate the value in the basic demonstration it provides; nor the utility gotten out of a short answer to a question of market activity, but it is very much like taking a photo of a couple at point A, then a few minutes later at point B. We are skipping the market process and assuming perfect states of equilibrium. In fact, further analysis of the cross allows us to realise, that we violate the possibility of disequilibrium, and in so doing, the entrepreneur.
Let us examine this in more detail in the next few diagrams:
In our diagram we suppose, firstly, that the price is above equilibrium, where there is excess supply (Ex S) over the quantity demanded (QD). What does this do to the price? – It forces it down.
In our second point, we suppose that there is an excess demand (Ex D) over the quantity supplied (QS) this has the same effect but in reverse by forcing the price up.
Notice how under the curve, we assume two things:
That we are consistently in equilibrium.
That there is always a single price.
Under the Neo-Classical view, everything that is to be known is already known; man is omniscient. He has access to perfect knowledge and he need merely to analyse the data he already knows; there is no room for discovery of unknowns, nor room for the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur to our curve is an analytical pest.
I mentioned above the assumption of there always being a single price, below we can see a quite comical examination of what is meant by this:
Under the equilibrium model and the Marshallian Cross, we are hypothetically assuming that with each supply curve, there is an equal demand curve running parallel to it. In fact every demand curve assumes an equal supply curve running parallel to it also; thereby consistently assuming the hypothetical to reality, that being only a single price is constant, and there is no possibility of two or more prices existing for the same product.
It is a fundamental law of Economics that there is a single price for a product. However, this is a tendency. The reason to say it is a tendency is due to the fact that at any time, the market can be filled with ignorance; either optimal ignorance, whereby you know you lack information but the cost outweighs the benefit of acquiring said information, or further, the ignorance may be based in the absence of information (not knowing what you don’t know).
If there is no optimal ignorance, nor absence of information for a particular consumer good, input or resource, then the tendency for pricing signal’s to converge to a single price occurs.
To give an example, I am optimally ignorant of how to speak Korean. I would like to know how to speak and understand it, but I have analysed the cost in terms of resources and time are too great, and would be better spent on ventures I value more highly.
I would give an example of where I personally have an absence of information…but I don’t know what it is.
Further examination of this gap to which is ignored and incompatible with the equilibrium state of affairs is detailed below:
In the diagram shown above, under the Neo-Classical equilibrium context, we assume a quantity of QR. The question is what is the highest price that is low enough, to get consumers to buy this quantity? The answer is the top left noted as HP. Following this, what is the lowest price which is high enough to get suppliers to offer this quantity? The answer is the bottom left LP. This indicates; under an Austrian perspective rather than a Neo-Classical perspective, as shown in the greyed out section, that there is a gap.
A wider examination of this gap can be explained before moving on further:
We suppose two examples: Sellers selling a good; let’s say shoes, for £10 at the LP quadrant. Buyers who are late to the market, or hold a high marginal utility for shoes find they cannot acquire shoes, but would be more than willing to pay £17 for shoes. The second example, being that sellers selling shoes in the HP quadrant, are selling shoes for £20. Buyers with lower expendable income, or whose marginal utility is lower, cannot afford the shoes at £20, but would be willing and able to buy at £16. There is an absence of information for both buyers of the HP and LP, and sellers of the LP and HP. Sellers (buyers) of the LP are unaware they can sell (buy) at a higher price, and buyers (sellers) are unaware they can buy (sell) at a lower price.
We have a situation where two prices for the same good prevails because of ignorance.
This is where the entrepreneur comes in. A sharp individual sees there is an unexploited opportunity by seeing the price difference. If they are sharp; as we have assumed, they will see there is opportunity for pure entrepreneurial profit. The entrepreneur will buy shoes from LP for £10, and sell to buyers from both HP and LP for £15. Buyers from LP who were willing to pay £17 will gladly pay the £15, and buyers from HP who could not afford £20, but were willing to pay £16, will be able to satisfy their needs/wants by purchasing the shoes for £15. Additionally, sellers from LP will see they made a critical error as they could have sold for a higher price, and sellers from HP will see they could have sold more for a lower price; ergo, the market through entrepreneurial alertness has moved from disequilibrium to a position closer to equilibrium.
The market is in positions closer to disequilibrium positions, and the entrepreneur through the incentive for profit, discovers these gaps and brings prices closer to that of the tendency of a single price.
The market process is one of discovery; rather than an equilibrium state of affairs.
Competition Under The Market Process
Taking into consideration our examination of Neo-Classical Equilibrium, and the market as a process of discovery, what does the equilibrium state of affairs and the market process of discovery have to say about competition?
The Neo-Classical has a stark difference in terms with regards to competition as compared to the layman, and that of the process of discovery.
Under the equilibrium theory of the market as a state of affairs, the definition is classed as Perfect Competition. Perfect competition is a state of affairs, where we have an unlimited number of buyers and sellers; all sellers are selling at the exact same price, and all buyers are buying at the exact same quantities. All decisions, quantities, and production methods are known, and so everyone is constrained into this state of affairs, due to nothing else to discover.
Under perfect competition, no seller attempts to sell for a higher price, because a single market price is established and it would be suicide, and no seller equally attempts to sell for a lower price, because he knows for the set single price he can sell the exact same quantity. Furthermore, buyers do not attempt to bid a higher price because they know they can purchase the same quantity for the single price, and buyers do not attempt to acquire a lower price, because they will not acquire the products they desire.
Under the equilibrium theory of the market as a state of affairs, all quantities demanded and quantities sold are perfectly inelastic; they are static.
This theory of competition, ironically, has no semblance of any form of competition; under the layman sense or that of the market as a process of discovery.
Under the equilibrium state of affairs, everything is already known, and nobody can buy or seller at higher or lower prices, and so there is no competition.
Additionally, this state leaves no room for the entrepreneur.
I have mentioned the market as a process of discovery several times; what is it that is meant by this with regards to competition?
Competition under the market as a process, is simply freedom of entry.
Under freedom of entry, there are no privileges in the form of institutional blockage into the market. A man can be a very successful entrepreneurial producer, but is constantly looking over his shoulder because at any point, another could enter the market and undermine his product by selling at a price, quantity, or quality that is more appealing to consumers.
If we look back at our example of the entrepreneur buying shoes for £10 and selling for £15, because other sellers held an absence of information, and had not seen an opportunity for profit, we can understand the role competition plays in the market as a process of discovery. The market is flooded with ignorance from various economic actors, who overlook opportunities due to an absence of information and a lack of omniscience. These unseen opportunities; if our entrepreneur is sharp, are discovered, either through active search for opportunities or through a sharp eye where no search was active, and merely saw what was unseen by others.
What is required for the market to operate as a process, is decentralised discovery. What is required for competition within the market process, is freedom of entry.
Israel Kirzner: Competition and Entrepreneurship (pp. 10-11, 13, 20, 26, 28, 37-40.)
Israel Kirzner: Discovery, Capitalism and Distributive Justice (pp. 8, 23-31.)
Israel Kirzner: Competition, Economic Planning and the Knowledge Problem (pp. 9-10.)
Entrepreneurship and the Market Process with Israel Kirzner (2011) YouTube video, added by Foundation for Economic Education [Online]
Croydon resident Zachary Stiling is standing for the Heritage Party on the London wide list in the upcoming GLA elections. The party is led by current GLA member David Kurten who is also running for London Mayor. The party stands for free speech and liberty, traditional family values, national sovereignty and financial responsibility. Zachary is also standing in the Kenley by-election for Croydon council on May 6th. This will be the first time the party has run in a Croydon local election.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to join the Heritage Party and be running for the GLA and Croydon Council?
I developed libertarian sentiments as a teenager when it became apparent to me just how far our lives are intruded upon by unnecessary bureaucratic legislation. Over the past 50 years, many aspects of life have come to be governed by an extreme safetyism, which has been eroding individual responsibility and has generally been detrimental to quality of life as a whole. I have acquired a mantra, ‘Government by education, not by force’.
At the same time, I have been conscious of the unethical practices of Silicon Valley as it exploits Third World wage slaves and Western consumers alike. The contempt with which social media regards individuality is abhorrent, and it failed in its moral responsibility to abstain from censorship during the lockdown, when society was effectively made dependent on it for conversation.
Accordingly, I don’t own a mobile phone, which is an inoffensive personal choice but the cognitive dissonance it induces sometimes is alarming. Many people cannot believe that it is possible, much less desirable, to live without frivolous technologies. This dependency will worsen as working from home becomes ‘normal’, with employers expecting employees to blend work equipment into their private spaces. The dangers of this should be obvious. Most people do not properly understand their technology, so by making themselves dependent upon it, they are inviting exploitation.
Such practices as outlined are unconventional, but I regard them as rational and virtuous. As my university effectively obligated mobile phone ownership, I am conscious of a time when my lifestyle, though harmless, will be impossible because of conditions placed upon it by government, society and their institutions, so I have always entertained entering politics in case I ever needed to defend my own existence.
The imposition of the lockdown in March, 2020, spurred me into action because I recognised from the start that it would be devastating and probably not even succeed in its purported intention. Historical precedents show that totalitarianism only ever creates death and misery, and a mandated orthodoxy is the antithesis of true scientific principles. Nullius in verba. That almost everyone in government has been complicit in accepting the single greatest crime ever committed by a democratically elected government against its citizens in British history has made clear the need for a thorough overhaul of the political system.
I was pleased when I discovered David Kurten had created the Heritage Party last year to oppose government overreach. I am pleased, too, that other parties have been created with similar intentions, although it is a pity we are not presently able to work alongside one another. I believe in the Heritage Party over and above the others because it has a properly developed manifesto with sound policies extending beyond the issues of freedom and censorship. Liberty is not the only component of a healthy society. Responsibility and beauty are necessary, too, and the Heritage Party understands that.
As a lifelong Croydon resident, I am pained by the decline of Croydon and London but, even so, I find much in their people and environment to cherish. With so much worth fighting for, I wish to reverse the decline and make London and Croydon places people may delight in and lead fulfilling, satisfying lives.
“Heritage Party – Free Speech and Liberty” is the party’s name on the London Ballot. Can you tell us a bit more about the party’s policies and what you hope to do in London?
The Heritage Party offers a socially conservative voice in politics, embracing prudence, humility and wisdom. In addition to liberty, personal responsibility and traditional values, we believe in low immigration, self-sufficiency in skills, equality before the law, parliamentary reform in favour of proportional representation, civic beauty and the protection of the countryside.
On the London Assembly, three of our priorities will be policing, transport and housing. Total reform of the police is needed now it is so political. As it stands, it is not doing its job and people of all political creeds have lost faith in it. We want more police on the streets, where they should be able to engage with the public in a friendly manner, for the prevention of serious crime, but we will not allow them to harass citizens for exercising their natural rights to freedom of speech, association and movement within the public realm. We will reverse the upside-down approach to policing displayed at protests throughout the last year. Police will not be allowed to interfere with the public’s right to protest, but we will not let them capitulate to rioters who engage in violence and destruction.
The retraction of cash payment on buses and the London Underground erased a fundamental choice, so one of the Heritage Party’s first actions will be to restore cash payment across London’s transport. We oppose Sadiq Khan’s profiteering war on the motorist, which includes the expansion of the ULEZ, a permanent congestion charge, the Greater London boundary charge and congestion-causing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We support London’s cabmen and will increase the cab license to 20 years, bring back a Euro 6 diesel option for new taxis and enforce the Uber court ruling. Uber shows contempt for its workers by refusing to pay them minimum wage. The fact that it operates by flooding the streets with taxis which are mostly unoccupied and is thereby probably London’s worst culprit for congestion and air pollution seems to have escaped Sadiq Khan.
Irresponsibly, almost every contender for the London Assembly promises more houses. The Heritage Party recognises the need for affordable homes for Londoners, but it also recognises the need for sensitive development. The policy of building more and more homes is unsustainable, and due in large part to uncontrolled mass immigration which the Heritage Party opposes. Writing in England and the Octopus in the 1920s, Clough Williams-Ellis raised awareness of the damage that was being wrought upon English countryside and culture by rampant development. That we have had a century to address the issue and have only succeeded in escalating the problem is disgraceful. London has no moral obligation to accommodate all who wish to immigrate here and it is not the better for housing them at the expense of its countryside and green spaces. Where development occurs, it must occur on brownfield sites and houses must meet certain quality standards. Many new developments are of appalling quality; fittings are cheaply made and have a short lifespan, the wider community is bereft of important social facilities, and there is no architectural style: it is purely generic. The blandness or outright ugliness of much modern architecture is dispiriting and demoralising, and a blight on the landscape for decades after is construction. Beauty is uplifting, and the Heritage Party will ensure that future development equals or improves upon the prevailing aesthetic of its environs.
In curating London’s streetscape, we oppose the philistinism of Mayor Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which is culturally destructive and undermines important values. While not every statue is a public asset, those targeted by the commission are among the best for visual beauty, historical importance and promoting achievement and moral virtue. An advanced city respects its past, embraces historical truths as foundations for learning and improvement, and appreciates that the benefits of modern life were arrived at through the toil of its past citizens.
In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council. What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?
Knife crime is a complicated issue but, with nuance, we can see that a combination of parental, social and cultural influences steers people towards crime. It is imperative that we understand these root causes, and respond appropriately, if we are to address knife crime in the long-term. The political faction that insists the police is institutionally racist and effectively absolves the criminals of responsibility for their misdeeds is a regressive hindrance. Police visits to schools, for the purpose of engagement rather than intimidation, could do a lot to keep children on the right track and identify signs of anti-social behaviour before they go too far, and the council must provide effective social services for children who experience harm or neglect in the home.
One of the biggest problems for young people is the lack of leisure facilities, the provision of which would help them find a purpose and appreciation for life. As a case in point, youths have been riding off-road motorcycles in my local woods. That is anti-social and thoughtless, yet there is nothing of malice in it. Those young motorcyclists have enthusiasm for a very good hobby. Off-road motorcycling helps develop safe and skilful riding, and it encourages an interest in engineering; in competition, like all sports, it helps participants cultivate a sense of fair play. It is precisely what ought to be encouraged in young people, and yet they have nowhere to pursue their hobby. Few people know that Croydon once hosted a motor-racing course. It had dance halls, cinemas and live music venues, now almost all gone. It is developments such as these that Croydon Council should encourage. There is this rather tragic attitude that young people should be ignored and left to entertain themselves with the internet, so it’s scarcely surprising that so many drift wayward for want of a place in the world.
This ties in with the decline of the town centre, with investors understandably lacking confidence in a town with a high crime rate. Boxpark is supposed to be an exciting new development, but I expect its novelty will wear off when people realise they’re paying through their nose just to eat in a pile of shipping containers. The recovery can probably only be long and slow, but if it is to happen at all we must first release the shackles of lockdown and Mayor Khan’s anti-motorist schemes. When town centres are struggling, it is lunacy to impose a Greater London boundary charge on motorists which will deter people from visiting or working in Croydon, and the north of the borough is already suffering thanks to LTNs, which make towns even less accessible to motorists. I am conscious of the need to reduce traffic in some areas, but indiscriminately punishing motorists is not the right way about it.
As we emerge from the lockdown, it is imperative we help local businesses get back on their feet. Croydon’s historic pubs are one of its greatest assets and we must protect them at all costs. The council should offer assistance where necessary and stand up to unscrupulous developers. Westminster Council has set a fantastic precedent in ordering the developers who illegally demolished the Carlton Tavern to rebuild it to its original appearance, and Croydon should follow suit. I extend my congratulations to Croydon North MP Steve Reed, who has already used that precedent against developers who demolished a 1920s bungalow in Upper Norwood; the demolition was illegal, even though the council had inexcusably granted permission for the developers to build flats there. Croydon does not need vast commercial developments like the stalled Westfield centre, it needs to encourage small business owners and local entrepreneurs.
The council’s bankruptcy was the consequence of longstanding ineptitude and financial mismanagement, which is impressive considering the depths to which it was prepared to stoop to generate revenue. My father was one of many people issued with a fixed-penalty notice for disposing of waste at a council recycling site. The cardboard he was disposing of ultimately did not remain in the bin because it was overflowing, and he subsequently received a fine he was unable to appeal. I am not sure whether that or Brick by Brick, the council’s in-house building firm, should be regarded as its biggest disgrace. Also predisposed towards architectural blight, Brick by Brick has been a byword for failure, constructing housing that has frequently transpired to be uninhabitable with the result that it has been a loss-making object of universal ridicule. It needs to be put out of its misery. The real losers, though, are not the councillors who have resigned but the residents of Croydon who face cuts to their services, including the loss of libraries.
If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority or on Croydon Council and what would you like to achieve?
If elected, I should like to use my position to work with local communities to deliver the best solutions for their respective concerns. It is presently the case that local authorities are too subservient to central government and are frequently required to waste time and funds performing arbitrary tasks that do their areas no good at all, so I will do everything I can to see that local interests are represented.
I would work to promote London as a centre for culture and learning with my support for the arts sector. I will do everything I can to help it recover from the damage of the lockdown and suffocating need to conform with the demands of the identity-politics lobby, so that it can truly proclaim itself the home of world-leading museums, galleries and theatres.
I would be interested in working with the Create Streets think-tank to deliver sensitive development, and I should be very glad to co-operate with charities such as the Georgian Society, Victorian Society and Campaign to Protect Rural England, all of which undertake vital work in protecting and preserving our history and the quality of our environment.
It is my hope that I should be able to help London, Croydon, and Kenley be safe, beautiful places with thriving economies and strong cultural worth, as success stories for freedom and limited governance.
Croydon leading the list of local boroughs with executives paid over £100K, according to report.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance have issued their 2021 Town Hall Rich List of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration. The list covers the financial year 2019-20, and since then we have seen Croydon Council issue a Section 114 notice, declaring de facto bankruptcy. It’s not hard to see why the council ended up in this position when despite years of complaining about a lack of funding, and years of maximum council tax increases, Croydon Council still had 19 people earning over £100,000 a year, with six people whose remuneration exceeded the salary of the Prime Minister.
To put this in context, neighbouring Bromley had just 9 staff whose remuneration exceeded £100,000. Sutton had 10 staff, Merton 9, Tandridge 2, and Reigate & Banstead 6. Whilst our inner London neighbours Lambeth had 18 and Lewisham 15 (both fewer than Croydon), Barnet a similar sized borough made do with just 9 staff on over £100K.
Private sector organisations often benchmark salaries against other similar organisations. Indeed, within the council, schools are required to benchmark themselves on a range of financial measures against others similar schools. We wonder if it has ever benchmarked their own executive salaries, and if it has, what conclusions they drew? We can see why Croydon Council’s external auditors Grant Thornton described the situation at the council as follows: “There has been collective corporate blindness to both the seriousness of the financial position and the urgency with which actions needed to be taken”.
The current council leader, and others in the cabinet were in the cabinet at the time these bumper salaries were being paid out. What were they doing to control council expenses? Of course we now know those councillors were in receipt of the highest average allowance in London.
Many things have changed at Croydon Council but the latest figures still show 16 people being paid over £100,000 and two on more than the nation’s Prime Minister. Deep cuts are being made to front line jobs and services, can we say that is being reflected in the salaries of those at the top?
As council tax bills are landing in people homes, the people of Croydon who will pay for the mismanagement of the council budget have the right to ask, why we are being expected to once again pay more, when the those at the top of the council seem to be so well rewarded.
Croydon Council Pay over £100,000, 2019-20:
Guy Van Dichele
Executive director (interim) of health, wellbeing & adults
Executive director, place
Executive director of resources and monitoring officer
Executive director of children, families & education
Executive director of gateway, strategy & engagement
Director of finance, investment and risk and interim S151 officer
Christopher Wilkinson is an independent libertarian-minded candidate proposing to stand for the Lichfield City North division in the 2021 Staffordshire County Council election and the Stowe ward by-election for Lichfield City Council. Chris also runs a group called the Independent Libertarians and has a podcast, the Libertarian Listener, which both Mike and Dan have appeared on. We spoke with Chris on our Podcast back in October and have caught up with him on his upcoming campaigns.
Chris you’ve run before and are taking part in two election campaigns in May. What’s prompted you to take on these challenges and what are the differences between the two races?
These elections are especially important since they’re the first since COVID-19, and they look set to be a virtual referendum on how the main parties have responded to the issue. Over the past year we’ve seen our civil liberties and freedom severely restricted, the economic strength of the nation destroyed, and reactionary government policies encroaching into every aspect of our daily lives – unprecedented and immoral, especially for peacetime. Perhaps worst of all has been this focus on the ‘common good’ – the rotten, Soviet-style idea that we’ve all got the same interests, same needs, and same ambitions as everyone else and that we’re willing to sacrifice our own job, income, business, mental health and physical wellbeing for the sake of the lowest common denominator in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. That philosophy is so against the grain of human progress, prosperity and self-fulfilment that it has never worked in any historical example, and my attempt in this election will be to attempt to drag politics back to reality. As there are very few people in the area willing to stand for office, the onus is upon those with a passion to provide change to make it happen hence why I’m standing in both elections. The main difference will be the area covered; the City by-election is being run in my own ward of Stowe, and the County election covers Stowe with two adjacent wards; Chadsmead and Curborough. One benefit of this approach is that a wider number of people get to hear a pro-liberty message, which may in turn inspire them to get more involved in local politics and help fight for local people in future elections. There will be other differences, particularly with the scale of the issues varying between local and regional level, and the amount of walking involved when delivering the leaflets!
Stowe is currently represented by Labour and Conservative in a Conservative city. How do you think they will be better represented by an independent and what do you think are the big issues in Stowe?
I think people are rightly put off by party politics after what they’ve seen over the last twelve months, and so standing as an independent that can put local people’s interests first and assess local issues objectively instead of focusing on party ideology and dogma would make for a far better representative in any area. Political events over the past five years have been very polarising and the key advantage of being an independent candidate is that I’m able to find common ground between people who would otherwise stand apart. In the Stowe area, the most major concerns among residents are the transition back to normality and restarting the economy. The city’s age demographic is slanted more towards the older generations who rightly have concerns over feeling safe going outside again and being in busy areas. I want them to enjoy their lives as best as possible, so it’s critical that elected representatives give truthful information regarding COVID-19 instead of merely relaying the government’s fearmongering and skewed macro-level statistics. Lichfield also has a highly skilled managerial workforce and as such has generally lower-than-average levels of unemployment coupled with a city centre in economic decline – to see unemployment levels rise and businesses in the city centre shut their doors for the final time, especially pubs and ‘non-essential’ shops, therefore represents a significant worry for both residents and visitors. I’ve been speaking with several local businesses and organisations as to how we can bring more people into the city centre and my manifesto will reflect the consultation I’ve had.
Following the failure of Friarsgate, the city now has a ‘Masterplan’. What are your thoughts on what went wrong with Friarsgate and what do you think of the new plan?
Friarsgate was a £54 million shopping development first proposed by the Conservatives in the 1999 local elections that was still in development nearly twenty years later. To put the scale of finance in context, it would have been the equivalent of five years of budget spending by Lichfield District Council in today’s terms. The scheme couldn’t attractive private finance and the council, quite rightly, were not willing to meet the extra cost on behalf of taxpayers. However, demolition work on the proposed site had already begun – a few businesses, including a profitable Ford car dealership, were consequently evicted. The site today is a wasteland obscured by hoardings covered in local government advertising for the city which cost more than £20,000 at the taxpayer’s expense. It went wrong both at a council level and in terms of the economy generally. Referring to the phased strategy and planning permission needed for the Lichfield Masterplan, District Councillor Little was reported in a Lichfield Live article on 7 October 2020 as saying ‘…we need the support from commercial and legal experts to aid us in that process as we haven’t got that expertise within the council to ensure proper governance’ – an admission, if ever one was becoming of the council, that incompetence within the local authority was partly to blame for the downfall of Friarsgate. The truth is there’s very little demand for large commercial infrastructure, especially in a city such as Lichfield, and that restrictions within the COVID-ravaged economy will come to haunt such developments for years to come. The retail sector has been in structural decline for a long time not least due to the growth of online shopping and increasing business rates levied by councils all over the country. The design of Friarsgate was very metropolitan and certainly wouldn’t have suited the quaint character of a cathedral city such as Lichfield. From my research speaking to business owners in the city centre, the main draw factor to Lichfield appears to be its picturesque setting, traditional architecture and unique old-world shopping experience. The council’s economic policies should be reorientated more towards preserving and enhancing Lichfield’s history and heritage as opposed to trying to turn the city into replicas of nearby places such as Tamworth or Burntwood. Lots of smaller niche shops would be more advantageous for local people and visitors than a sprawl of chain stores; Fine & Vintage, a small independent retailer, is an excellent example of what I think Lichfield ought to aim for. At present, the Masterplan does not encapsulate all these crucial factors that will make the difference between the proposal being a success or failure, and so reform and review – not speed and spending – would be the most appropriate way to go about this project.
Lichfield was once a semi-rural small historical city with many people saying they’ve moved to live here for its quiet, idyllic setting. The growth in housing in the area over recent years has been unacceptable and has eroded that traditional image of the city. It’s also important to bear in mind why the growth of housing has occurred. The council has adopted a Local Plan and numerous neighbourhood plans to improve certain aspects of the city that are being rolled out over many years. Overlaying that are the central government’s own house building plans. The issue here in Lichfield, however, is that the supply of housing is already above trend as was revealed by District Councillor Tax last October. The government must reconsider its housing targets for this area as central planning does not consider our specific requirements and, if elected, this is something I will pursue with determination. An oversupply of housing is never desirable since bricks and mortar have been a key driver of the British economy over the past twenty years – if that hidden wealth falls due to a lack of demand, we’ll all be paying an extra price in either higher taxes or lower public spending as councils and the government try to stabilise their budgets. Eerily, a similar phenomenon has already occurred with industrial space located south of Lichfield Trent Valley Railway station and the recently constructed Imperial Retail Park took two full years to reach full occupancy. Financial and material resources would be more effective elsewhere at this time. In terms of gender-neutral language, my preference is very clear – if I wished to be referred to as ‘chairman’ or ‘chairwoman’ or ‘chairperson’, I’d hope to be referred to as chairman, chairwoman or chairperson respectively. It’s a matter of personal preference that certainly shouldn’t be enforced to delegitimise natural gender values. There is nothing wrong with being a man or a woman, and our language should reflect that by reinforcing who we are as individuals. It’s hardly a headline issue, and there are bigger fish to fry what with the state of our potholed roads, cracked pavements and empty grit bins! Above all, the issue of the environment is very high on the agenda. Currently there are plans for housing developments at Nether Stowe and Leyfields on urban green space plus the construction of a filter lane cutting through part of the Festival Gardens – I strongly oppose all these projects and will do my best if elected to bring about more suitable alternatives.
You are also planning to run in the Lichfield City North division for Staffordshire County Council. Tell us about the area and what you hope to do for it. What would you like to see change at the council?
I believe in representative local democracy. As such, I hope to act on the priorities of local people as expressed through the survey I’ve issued to them which will be used to create a manifesto that truly represents the people whilst forging consensus on which we can build for the future. We’ve got to meet the challenges posed by remote working, education beyond the classroom and healthcare beyond the hospitals. I also aim to be a pro-business representative. One key consideration is a proposal to extend the Cross-City railway line towards Derby to alleviate road traffic on the A38, increase visitors and tourists from the East Midlands, and to make work at Fradley Park more accessible for those who don’t own a car. More can be done in terms of technical support to make the most of the shift from the physical to the digital economy by assisting small independent businesses to sell their products online, plus helping promote our unique Cathedral. Future housing developments must include supporting infrastructure such as shops, gyms, parks and public services to encourage the growth of the community and foster social cohesion. We’ve got the adapt quickly to the new needs of the economy by installing fast broadband in offices and cafes, adopting a more flexible approach to Business Improvement District investment that ensures no business becomes burdened with charges beyond its means, and keeping business rates and parking charges low to facilitate higher footfall. There must be an attitudinal change at the County council level about how to conduct local government – there are consultations being run with the same low response rates time after time, a lack of accessible representation and too much authority being held at the top instead of being devolved to local councils. Councillors must realise that there is no one single way of accomplishing something; what’s good for one area may not necessarily be good for another. I think there has to be a greater consideration for the externalities of decision-making particularly regarding the difference between policy on paper and policy in action; the notion that the ends do not justify the means. To use the local housing developments as an example, it might be desirable for those moving in having a home of their own and the boost to the local economy arising from that, but those who already live there are losing green space where their children may play, the local roads will be more congested and dangerous as a result of more vehicles lining the streets, and air and noise pollution will be worse.
As we move out of the lockdown, what would you like to see done on the road to recovery both locally and nationally?
I’d like to see a redefinition of the relationship between state and citizen because, as we’ve seen in the past year, the state has assumed the position of the master and the citizen has become its servant. Now we’re hopefully coming out of one of the worst periods in modern socioeconomic history, I’d like to see a fundamental challenge to the traditional authoritarian approach of statist government in favour of a libertarian approach that values the freedom, autonomy and natural rights of the individual with an emphasis on sovereignty, personal choice, free speech and expression, family values and the rule of law. I believe this a philosophy that can be expanded at both a local and national level, and I will work with unremitting energy – whether holding public office or not – to see it come to fruition.
If people would like to know more or get involved, how do they get in touch?
We discuss the relaxing of lockdown restrictions and the possibility of Covid Passports. We then chat about the recently announced London Mayoral & GLA nominations and the 5 upcoming Croydon Council By-Elections.