We are joined by Howard Cox, who was recently announced as the Reform UK candidate to take on Sadiq Khan in next year’s election to be Mayor of London. Howard explains his reasons for standing and his plans for London.
As the advert goes ‘If Carlsberg did…’, days out for somewhat dull, middle aged guys, they wouldn’t be going far wrong if they produced the ‘Black Country Living Museum’.
In the centre of Dudley, the open-air museum set across 26 acres has rebuilt old buildings focused on historical industrial life in the area. With rebuilt homes, a mine, workshops demonstrating traditional skills, public buildings and 50 shops, the place is amazing. In most of these you can encounter great information and have fascinating chats with actors playing part guide and part historic character. As if this wasn’t enough, the absolute icing on the cake is two working pubs, where you can sample a cracking pint of beer (or two).
I visited the museum back in April and thoroughly enjoyed it but was left with one nagging doubt of concern. There were great insights from staff about life around the turn of the 20th Century. They were able to answer most questions people had, and clearly enjoyed their job. But for me the doubt wouldn’t go away, at every stop we were left with the impression the Industrial Revolution was rather a bad thing! Indeed, we were often left feeling that the lives of those in the Black Country at this period had never been worse. It’s not just at the museum but more generally we are asked to see industrialisation as a blight on the lives of those who lived through it, when the opposite in many ways is the truth.
The Industrial Revolution is generally considered to have started in around 1760. At that time average life expectancy in what is now the U.K. was about 38, it steadily rose to be over 50 by 1905. This might not seem much of an achievement by today’s standards but given life expectancy had hovered around 35 for 900 years that steady increase is quite something.
Life expectancy is far from the only measure of the quality of life in a country, population growth is also a good indicator to the robustness of a society. England’s population hovered from 5-10 million (the Black Death impacting this) for about 500 years until the mid-1700’s when it starts to take off to reach around 40 million by 1900. This change represents children outliving the challenging first few years after birth and families being able to provide for many more young mouths.
How could these poor workers afford those extra mouths? Especially given we are told how hard life was. Well, it turns out people were earning more, much, much, even inflation adjusted more. Average Incomes started rising in the mid-1600s due in large part to the agricultural revolution, by 1760 they breach £2000 per annum in today’s money for the first time ever, by 1910 they were over £5000. In 150 years, average annual income had grown by more than it had in all the time since the invention of money.
Not only were these extra mouths being fed, life was improving for them. Life for children in the industrial revolution shouldn’t be compared to some idealise vision of living off the land, or to pictures from our own childhood, but instead be compared to a life punctuated with regular periods of famine and plague. Children always worked, but the industrial revolution started to see families choose to and laws put an end to that. In 1785 we see the Sunday School Society established, 1788 see the start of laws setting the minimum age boys could be employed as chimney sweeps, 1802 see’s the first of the Factory Acts, which required factory owners to provide some education. In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act set out that ‘pauper children’ should receive education daily. Half a century of improvements eventually saw the 1870 Elementary Education Act which introduced compulsory education for children aged 5-13.
The moves to compulsory education but also the additional options the relative wealth of industrialisation brought, meant that whilst “In 1800 around 40 percent of males and 60 percent of females in England and Wales were illiterate. By 1840 this had decreased to 33 percent of men and 50 percent of women, and, by 1870, these rates had dropped further still to 20 percent of men and 25 percent of women. By the turn of the century, illiteracy rates for both sexes had dropped to around 3 percent.” (source: Education, Literacy and the Reading Public. Amy J. Lloyd, University of Cambridge)
The industrial revolution significantly improved the lot of people throughout the United Kingdom. But not only has this industrial manna from invention benefited people in the UK, it’s proven to be a repeatable process benefiting those across the globe. India has grown its industrial output from $5.4 billion in today’s money in 1960 to $443.9 billion in 2021. In the same period life expectancy has gone from 41 to 70. Nigeria has seen industrial output in today’s money rise from $33 billion in 1981 to $64 billion in 2021, and life expectancy rise from 45 to 55 over that time. On the same basis Nicaragua has seen industrial output rise from $0.54 billion to $1.96 billion from 1994 to 2021, and life expectancy rise from 66 to 75 in the same period. Lastly Botswana’s industrial output has gone from $0.01 billion in 1965 to $0.98 billion in 2021, whilst seeing life expectancy grew from 51 to 69.
Many countries have either gone through or moved directly to having largely service based economies, whilst seeing similar benefits in life expectancy. All of this is possible thanks to the Industrial Revolution, indeed almost literally everything you see around you is thanks to the Industrial Revolution. We should celebrate industrialisation, celebrate the increased standards of living it gave us, and celebrate the increased prosperity it’s brought across the globe.
The Black Country Living Museum is a fantastic place, a great place to visit and a great place for a pint. I just wish the excellent staff and society more generally would be more thankful for the glories of the Industrial Revolution. From affordable mass-produced clothes on our back, the heating in our homes, the lighting at night, our transportation, to our abundance of food from across the globe, and much more, the Industrial Revolution is responsible for it all.
In 1986 the TV series ‘Yes Prime Minster’ first aired the episode ‘A Real Partnership’. In it, Sir Humphrey seeks advice from his predecessor Sir Arnold on how to sneak through a Civil Service pay rise. Sir Arnold goes onto explain: ‘he should increase the London and graduate allowances since these don’t count as pay rises. Furthermore, the Outstanding Merit Awards (every civil servant gets it) should be increased and the number of civil servants decreased by creating independent trusts. This way the same pay rise will look to be only 6% a year’.
37 years later and some of the convoluted nature of this suggestion appears to have been taken on by Croydon Council. With a blaze of publicity and photo opportunities, Croydon is the 2023 London Borough of Culture.
The “London Borough of Culture award aims to shine a light on the character and diversity of London’s boroughs and bring culture to everyone”. This sounds fine but with record high taxes at national, regional, and local levels, it’s hard to see how this is necessary public spending.
In February I wrote for the TaxPayers’ Alliance “It’s also hard to see what’s fundamentally changed at the council. There’s still huge amounts of savings that could be made. Croydon is the London Borough of Culture for 2023. As part of this they are committed to spending £522,500 in 2022/23, and propose another £452,500 in 2023/24. Additionally, £1,350,000 will come from the GLA, and £1,900,000 is expected from Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage. Spending public funds on arts that are not viable commercially or via voluntary donations as the council has been doing for years, is no less of a waste of money when it comes from someone else’s funding stream.”
We are now starting to see where this largess is being spent. In the period May 2022 to March 2023 (inclusive) a whopping £769,570.00 has been spent by Croydon Council under the ‘Borough of Culture’ cost centre from payments over £500. This has been spilt between just 16 organisations, many of whom regularly showed up when Croydon’s then Labour Council was spending the borough to de facto bankruptcy. Is the new boss, same as the old boss? Well, it does appear that much like Sir Arnold’s suggestion the same old spending is being recycled under the new Borough of Culture guise. Turf Projects have in the past year received £145,000.00 of Borough of Culture spending and received £78,745.38 in ‘Community Ward Budgets’ and ‘Culture Growth Fund’ between 2017 and 2021. BH Live Ltd have received £75,000.00 for the Borough of Culture and received £39,095.25 for Community Ward and Culture Growth in 2017-21. Similar breakdowns are true for Dance Umbrella, £45,000.00 and £70,269.24, and the London Mozart Players, £65,000.00 and £28,240.00.
A full breakdown of the identified Borough of Culture spending so far is below:
BH Live Ltd
London Mozart Players
Fashion Meets Music Collective C.I.C.
The Brit School
Croydon Town Centre Bid
CR34 t/a Mr Fox
Designblock Studio Ltd
London Road Business Ltd
These organisations no doubt provide the services requested from them and in doing so exhibit good value for money. The question is ‘do we really need them?’ We understand given past financial mismanagement why the council felt the need to increase Council Tax by 15% this year, but how can this be justified when another £975,000 of unnecessary spending is being recycled, much of it to the same old organisations.
Spending £1,350,000 of GLA money, and £1,900,000 from Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage, isn’t any better. These are funded by the same tax increases we all have to pay, and in the case of the GLA will likely soon be just another justification for the funds ULEZ expansion will raise.
Becoming the London Borough of Culture was signed up for by the last Labour administration, but surely the Section 114 notices and de facto bankruptcy was a great opportunity to ditch this luxury. Croydon Council has reduced spending greatly to stabilise the boroughs finances. Yet can we say things have really changed, when taxes are up 15%, we have front line service cuts, but are still spending a million pounds on fashionable arts.
We are joined by Simon Richards, the former CEO of The Freedom Association, as we discuss the local election results and the delay in removing EU laws. We then chat with Simon about his time with the Freedom Association, the Better Off Out campaign, lockdowns, and the big issues of today.
We spoke with Chris Scott when he ran in Horley in 2022. Chris is running again in this years local elections and we were delighted to hear more on the party, and Chris’ campaign for Reigate and Banstead Council.
So what is our take on the current dysfunctional governance of the United Kingdom? Or should I say our DIS-United Kingdom and, seven years after the Referendum, our status of having achieved Brexit in name only? How many of the laws that Parliament enacted at the behest of the European Commission have been repealed? When I last heard, none. it seems that the Prime Minister, who claims to have voted to Leave without campaigning for it, is in the thrall of Tory MPs who are instinctive Remainers. An increasing majority of his cabinet voted Remain and, one suspects, pay merely lip-service to Brexit.
In more general, national terms, Reform UK advocates that:
1) Schools should never again be closed during a pandemic. Literacy and numeracy must be prioritised. Sport must be offered and encouraged. Pupils should not be encouraged to question their sex. If any child shows signs of gender dysphoria, the parents must be consulted. Far too many unacademic A-Level students are being steered towards inappropriate, “soft” university courses instead of some form of apprenticeship. This leaves them with the prospect of repaying a large debt unless they fail to earn well in their subsequent careers.
2) The NHS is systemically broken, however excellent are its clinicians. Due to failure to train enough of our own, we are poaching too many foreign clinicians that are trained and needed in their home countries. Too much money is being wasted. The terms of service of GPs are counterproductive for their patients. Major revisions are essential, even if they involve some form of insurance or means-tested contributions for consultations. Excessive delays for consultations or treatment should qualify patients to go private at NHS expense.
3) On immigration, it is unacceptable that people arriving illegally with no personal documentation by hazardous, highly expensive crossings of the English Channel should all be treated by default as genuine asylum-seekers at taxpayers’ expense and parachuted in large groups into small communities nationwide.
4) Major tax reform is essential. People on low incomes should not be paying income tax at all. People earning little more than the national median wage are becoming subject to 40% tax. That is grotesque, as are the thresholds for inheritance tax. People who paid tax on their earnings throughout their lifetime should be entitled to hand the residual funds and property down to their children without further taxation.
5) “Net Zero” must be abandoned. It will ruin our economy and cause serious hardship, particularly to people on low-to-medium incomes – unlike the legislators who dreamed it up. Globally futile, it will be ignored by the major world polluters, such as China and India, whose economies will profit at our expense. Wind and solar could never reliably supply even half our needs, and their energy output is non-storable in the present state of technology. Likewise, the ban on production of internal-combustion-engine cars from 2030 is impracticable and must be abandoned before it’s too late. It would reveal the limitations of our national grid, and deplete the finite, worldwide resources of minerals needed to produce batteries that last less than ten years and are extremely expensive to replace. Decades of neglect on nuclear technology after our early international lead have denied us its ideal role in supplying the base load for electricity generation. Given that the variable excess demand cannot be supplied reliably by wind and solar, and hydrogen is not widely available in the foreseeable future, fossil-fuels remain an essential energy source. Further exploitation of North Sea gas and oil reserves must be considered, as well as fracking, which our present prime minister promised to do during his Tory leadership campaign as recently as last autumn.
6) HMG boasts its alleged spending of 2% of GDP, but the war in Ukraine has highlighted the latter’s inadequacy. Our three armed services are left in a parlous state. The Royal Navy has two large aircraft carriers that are short of aircraft and, perhaps even worse, suitable escort vessels. The Army headcount is at an all-time low. In the RAF, aircrew are not flying enough to maintain experience levels. All three services are, it seems, more concerned with diversity than excellence.
7) There is a general slide in government towards a form of woke, defeatist, social-Marxism that will persist as long as the main parties at Westminster are ruling the roost in the UK. When elected, Reform UK MPs will challenge that damaging, conventional mindset.
Of course, none of the above issues can be at the forefront of my local-election campaign in Horley Central & South.
In addition to the issues I have raised on the front of my personal election leaflet (below), Reform UK proposes the following policies in local government.
(a) Local communities should have more say in their affairs than at present. A random example of that would be the recent overruling by HMG of Braintree Council’s attempt to stop so-called asylum-seekers being accommodated on the old aerodrome at Weathersfield to the detriment of the local community.
(b) Unnecessary local spending should be cut. Do lesbian, gay and bisexual residents really appreciate pedestrian crossings being repainted in rainbow colours?
(c) Town centres must be reinvigorated with cuts in business rates, free car-parking, more residential accommodation and targeted investment. In Horley, too many small retailers have been priced out.
As a Reigate and Banstead district Councillor for Reform UK in Horley Central & South, I would make my own decisions on local policy initiatives without being subject to diktat from party HQ.
The SDP is a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We’ve interviewed Steve Tanner who is standing for them in the Wayfield and Weeds Wood ward of Medway Council.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
An IT professional, I moved to England from Australia in 2005, starting off in London as most do, before meeting my now wife who lured me to the exotic Medway Valley. We have lived in our current house in Wayfield for over twelve years, raising four children, the youngest two of which are still in secondary education locally.
I joined the Social Democratic Party in May 2022 after several years of checking them out. Although politically interested, I’ve never been politically active – let alone joined a party – until recently. The SDP ticked all the right boxes for me: traditional and patriotic; believing that public assets and services should be owned by the public; and its belief that increased housebuilding can only be sustainable with a much-reduced immigration limit.
Can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
Wayfield and Weeds Wood is a new ward created for the 2023 local elections after a recent boundary review. The area is generally working-class, attractive for many young families with its numerous primary and secondary schools, parks and open spaces, and also has quite a large elderly population. There is a substantial amount of social housing, which does help to allow extended family members to stay in the area.
My main concerns specifically in the ward are the reduced bus services and under-provision of primary health services, and if elected to Medway Council I would endeavour to gain improvements in both areas for our residents.
More widely what would you like to see change at the Council and across the area?
In addition to improving the provision of bus and primary health services across Medway, as well as in my own ward, my other priorities if elected will be to help get the lapsed local plan back on track, and to improve the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services in school. Medway, like all parts of the country, desperately needs more housing, but planning approval must be sympathetic to the concerns of existing residents, and not at the expense of our special green spaces. And closer to my heart, having a child with learning difficulties, I would certainly like to see the access to, and quality of SEND services enhanced.
Even after an extremely successful election for us, we would still only have two councillors so would have to work closely with the party in control and the other opposition parties and individuals to achieve anything meaningful. At the local level, there are likely to be many areas of consensus anyway, but it would be great to have more smaller parties and independents represented on council.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
We have a comprehensive suite of policies on our website at sdp.org.uk. I’d recommend anyone interested to read through them along with our ‘New Declaration’, also on the site. Joining the party as either a full or associate member is very affordable.
I am the chair of the SDP Medway and Maidstone Group. We meet on the last Saturday of each month, usually in a pub in south Rochester. We would welcome existing and prospective members to attend, even from outside the area. Details of each meeting are posted from my Twitter account: @SteveTanner_SDP.
If you wish to contact me at a more official level, my email address is: [email protected]
The SDP is a patriotic, economically left-leaning, and culturally traditional political party. We spoke with Stephen Gander who is standing for them for Hellingly Parish Council, and in the Hailsham West ward of Wealden District Council.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
I’ve lived in Hellingly for the past twelve years and Wealden for over 25 years. My wife is a successful, local independent swimming teacher and both my boys go to school in Hailsham. As a family we like to support local events including helping the local community fridge and would like to say that we have a good relationship with the local council and its members. I ran as a candidate in the 2019 General Election in Eastbourne.
I joined the SDP in early 2020 as most of the other partys didn’t reflect where I wanted to be and it was the only party that had common sense policies that sat well with my core beliefs. The SDP believe in the family and the local community seeking the common good in Britain’s national interest. The majority of people would look at the SDP’s policies and agree with the majority, if not all of them. I think the electorate should really have a look and ‘give them a go’.
Can you introduce Hellingly Parish and Hailsham West ward to us and say what you can bring to the area?
Hellingly has grown over the last decade with development of the old hospital site. Life within Hellingly and its country park is both picturesque and calming. There is a great community spirit and a great sense of comradery which I would like to encourage and be more of a part of.
Hailsham is the biggest town in the district of Wealden and is a nice market town with an array of shops and pleasant community standards. I would bring a consistency and a voice to Hailsham and Wealden residents.
Whilst I don’t think there are massive changes needed in the councils, there is a need for scrutiny with regards to new developments and its effects on the local community. This issue is very high up on the local and surrounding areas, residents list.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
As a person of working class, I no longer felt that recent consecutive governments were in touch with the real world and that hard-working residents were being left behind. Reform UK campaign on sensible politics and everyday issues that others no longer do.
Can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley is a leafy village ward. Local businesses are at the very heart of the communities and those should be protected. Extra homes on Brownfield sites should be voted on by residents who should have the ultimate and final say on if they should be built.