Debating Society speech – Why it will take more than a year to get back to normal

On December 1st the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society debated the motion “This time next year life will be back to normal”

Mike Swadling opposed the debate, and below is his speech delivered to the society via Zoom.  As always with this friendly group the debate was good natured, very well proposed and drew out some great views from the audience.

“This time next year life will be back to normal” – Opposing motion

What a year we have had, and expect to have for a good few months to come.  We have lost too many people, lost too many freedoms, and will continue to suffer from the economic consequences and health care losses of lockdown.

Meanwhile new ways of living have become part of our new normal.  Many people who had never held a conference call or video conference, now do so daily.  Millions have worked from home all year.

The knock at the door of an Amazon delivery is now a familiar sound, and if you’re lucky enough to get a slot, we have become used to home deliveries for our food shopping.

Now much, as I would like it to be so, I don’t believe this time next year, life will be back to the old normal.  Nor do I believe, we will be living fundamentally changed lives, but the way we live has seen a step change, and will continue to evolve.

“let me offer some hope, the pandemic levels of death ended in June, when death rates thankfully returned to the 5 year normal.  Life with Covid became endemic.  Predictions of a second waves of deaths have proved thankfully untrue”

First let me offer some hope, the pandemic levels of death ended in June, when death rates thankfully returned to the 5 year normal.  Life with Covid became endemic.  Predictions of a second waves of deaths have proved thankfully untrue, even as cases have risen.  Treatments are getting better, the NHS was not overwhelmed at the peak, and won’t be now.  We also have the prospect of a multitude of vaccines to build up further immunity in the population.  We can look forward to the future, where the true threat of Covid 19, is seen as no more serious than threat of a normal seasonal flu.

But the absence of Covid deaths does not mean an immediate return to a year ago.  For instance let us look locally for examples of how things are changing.

Most of us have gone a year without visiting a department store.  Debenhams in Croydon has closed, John Lewis, a flagship store for the new Westfield development, has closed its Purley Way outlet.  Arcadia, which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, based out in Valley Park is reported to be on the brink of collapse.  The Westfield shopping centre unlikely to happen before the first lockdown, is now almost impossible to believe.

With retail on the life support from furlough schemes, it’s hard to imagine the Whitgift centre ever truly reviving.  No doubt we will see something new in our town centre, but online shopping has ensured it won’t be the kind of all-encompassing retail centre, we have seen for all our lives.

Aside from retail, Croydon has been for many years a major office centre.  These offices have now largely stood empty since March.  Offices that cost millions to run are now being run from peoples spare rooms, dining tables or sofas.  Why would a business want their staff to return, to reincur those costs?

Now I don’t believe the world of work will fundamentally change so much we will never be back in the office.  Distant relations work in part because we have built up trust and connections from having physically meet.

But I wouldn’t overplay that fact, I like many now work with teams all over the globe, I have never meet the people I work with in the US, Malaysia, or Italy, yet we get on, we laugh and joke, and importantly we get the job done.

People are sociable, it would be handy to meet-up with my local colleagues from time to time.  Frankly it would be good to get out of my house.  I’ve not seen much evidence you can fully train people to do a job remotely.  Some office jobs require a higher degree of physical interaction, and of course away from offices there is a whole world of world that requires a physical presence.

But what does this mean for Croydon?

Well my prediction, and hardly an original one, is that we will move from a world where many work from home 1-2 days a week, to a world where people go into the office say 1-4 days per month.  Offices will have less desks and more meeting rooms and breakout spaces.  I firmly suspect enterprising coffee shops will be adding ‘work pods’ you can hire to get together with a few co-workers.

What happens to the plethora of office blocks in central Croydon?  Their use, can only reduce.  What will we need?  80% of what we have today?  50% maybe, or even just 20%?  I don’t know, but I do know the twin engines of our town and indeed our city of Offices and Retail have both fundamentally changed.

Now what to do with all these office blocks?  We are already building a large number of housing blocks in Croydon.  Many people have concerns about this making Croydon a dormitory town, and that these homes are not suitable for families.

With people traveling to work less and working from home more, needing space in their homes, and dare I say it, maybe even a garden, these home are not suitable for todays’ let alone tomorrows living requirements.

With a need for housing people will no doubt be cramped into converted office blocks, even with the problems that will bring.

This does however offer one possible future for the Whitgift Centre.  Conversion to a much needed central park for those living in the new high rises around it.

Our town will not be the same this time next year, although I’m sure things will feel far better than today, they will be far from normal.

From the local changes let us look at some national changes.  Great Frost of 1709 was the coldest European winter during the past 500 years.  It caused widespread crop failure and economic devastation.  We are now facing the worst economic failure since then.  Let’s just put that into some perspective.

In the intervening years we have faced Jacobite revolution, a global 7 Year war with Louis XV’s France, fought in and lost the Americas, seen off Napoleon, fought two World Wars against Germany, seen massive economic changes with agricultural and industrial revolutions, introduced and repealed The Corn Laws, seen global economic depression in the 1930’s, formed a Union with and given independence to Ireland.  Gained and lost the world’s largest ever Empire,  Yet none of these lead to the economic crisis we now face.

To put it simply, Lockdown has caused more damage than the Luftwaffe.

The Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts the economy will shrink by 11.3% this year, and we will borrow £394bn the equivalent of 19% of GDP.  We are in a hole, and with new tougher Tiers in place, we have just ordered new digging equipment.

We don’t know how bad unemployment will be, how many shops will shut down, how much the transport industry will contract, or how little of the hospitality sector will remain after furlough ends, and economic realities kick in, but we do know it will be devastating.

Recovery from an economic shock this size won’t come quick.

The income tax was first introduced in the Napoleonic Wars as a temporary measure and is still with us today.  Blanket restrictions were applied to pub opening times during World War One, and left largely unchanged until 1988.  Rationing stayed in place for 9 years after the end of the second world war, and we didn’t pay off our war debts until 2006.

This economic shock is bigger than any of them.  It will take far, far longer than a year to get us out of this hole.

“Pre-lockdown a 1000 people a day were diagnosed with Cancer.  That has largely stopped for the last 9 months….The consequences a year from now, of the shutting down of large parts of our health service don’t bear contemplation”

We also see health consequences.  Pre-lockdown a 1000 people a day were diagnosed with Cancer.  That has largely stopped for the last 9 months.  Many minor operations have been postponed and will become major operations.  The consequences a year from now, of the shutting down of large parts of our health service don’t bear contemplation.  On top of that the coming unemployment and lost prosperity, is a health crisis of its own.

Worse than all this I believe, and likely to have far longer consequences, is our loss of freedom.

I hope you all agree, Everyone has following the rights

  • The right to liberty
  • To not be subjected to arbitrary interference with privacy or home
  • freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state
  • freedom of religion; ….either alone or in community with others and in public or private
  • freedom of opinion and expression
  • freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • the right to work, and to free choice of employment
  • to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts

What I have read to you there are extracts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Articles 3, 5, 13, 18, 19, 20, 23 and 27, of which, are being broken right now by our government.  This is not a partisan point, as our opposition parties are arguably even more enthusiastic about the Covid Laws

Since 1215 with Magna Carta, through the 1689 Bill of Rights, to universal suffrage, freedoms have been hard won.  Those in power always want more, and by necessity will sacrifice your liberty to take it.

“If you believe these freedoms, all these freedoms, will be back with us, and life will return to normal in a year from now, I have a bridge to sell you.  Only under the current law I’m not allowed to trade”

If you believe these freedoms, all these freedoms, will be back with us, and life will return to normal in a year from now, I have a bridge to sell you.  Only under the current law I’m not allowed to trade, you’re not allowed out to see the bridge, and shaking hands on a deal will see us both severely fined.

Some genies have escaped their bottle, and won’t be put back.  The economy will take many years to come back, the NHS will be dealing with the health consequences of this year for much of the next decade and who knows, when we will simply be allowed to do what we used to think of as normal interactions.

Life won’t return to normal by this time next year, but we should do our damnedest to make it as normal as possible.

“We have no right to protest, the churches are closed, drones were following hill walkers and police ask you to report those breaking the rules, and government literally banned couples who live in separate houses from meeting up”

Summing up

It has become something of a cliché to say George Orwell’s 1984, was meant as a warning of a dystopian future not a how to guide for government.

In the book criticism of the state is forbidden, there is no organised religion, you are under constant surveillance, and intimate relationships are strictly controlled.

We have no right to protest, the churches are closed, drones were following hill walkers and police ask you to report those breaking the rules, and government literally banned couples who live in separate houses from meeting up.

These will be temporary measures, just like we’re still in last March’s 3 week lockdown, to flatten the curve.

A year from now we will be in the midst of a very real economic crisis.  Many shops, pubs and restaurants will be boarded up.  Hotels will be closed, tourist attractions behind shutters.  We will have empty offices being converted into the troubled high-rises of the future, and we likely see a massive reduction of choice of public transport.  Things will not be normal.

The human spirt will however prevail.  The economy will bounce back.  We will push to regain our lost rights, or much like we are seeing in this lockdown, many will just ignore those in authority.  Life will return to normal but it will be a struggle and one that sadly will take us well beyond next year.


Article in January 2021 CR5 Magazine

Debating Society speech – The Global Warming Scare

On February 2nd the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society debated the motion “Implementing green policies to combat global warming is imperative to save the Earth”

Mike Swadling opposed the debate, and below is his speech delivered to the society in Coulsdon.  As always at this excellent society the debate was good natured, well proposed and drew out great comments from the audience.

“Implementing green policies to combat global warming is imperative to save the Earth” – Opposing motion

In 1970 Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken”

“At least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” The Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich declared in the April 1970.

In January 1970, Life Magazine reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions:

  • In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution
  • by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half”

In January 2006 Al Gore predicted that we had ten years left before the planet turned into a “total frying pan.” – anyone else have their heating on today?

In 2008, ABC News predicted that New York City would be under water by June 2015. (1)(2) – Nope didn’t happen

Planet Earth might quote Mark Twain in saying “Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”

The Premise

I thank the Chair and the members for getting the title right in calling it global warming.  Let’s dispense with the nonsense called “climate change”.

The climate changes.  Yes we know that.  Global temperature is not fixed, we know we had ice ages, we know we have had warming periods.

I believe the premise here is the following:

  • The globe is warming
  • The warming is man-made – if this isn’t as a result of human influenced greenhouse gas emissions, then the currently prescribed actions are meaningless.
  • And finally that the warming will be catastrophic – there is little point in taking action if the impact is only two more weeks of summer and not much else (3)

To believe that last two premises you have to believe in the predictions of the people who told us food would run out in the 1980s and that New York City is currently underwater.

Now I’m not convinced we ran out of food or you can swim to the top floor of the Empire State Building.

It’s important to look at these in detail, as our civilisation, all of this abundance you see around you, that has allowed billions of people to move from calorie insecurity to having commodity goods, in our lifetimes is feed by fuel, mostly fossil fuels.

It is our civilizations manna from heaven.  It is a manna showing no end.  We have more oil reserves than all the oil we have ever used, with new technology opening up even further access to fuel. (4)

If you have a proven, working, source of fuel that reduces pollution great let’s use it.

If you are saying we need to change the basis of our modern civilisation and put at risk the food supply chains for billions of people, you better be dammed sure of your predictions.

Getting Warmer

The first premise on which all others are built is that the world is getting warmer.

  • Warmer since when?
  • Warmer compared to what?

11,000 years ago sitting here would have been cold, very cold.  We wouldn’t be under ice, but Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the North of England all would be.

We would be linked by Ice to Norway and Denmark, and by Land to France. (5)

Are we warmer than then – yes.  But perhaps we would all agree that’s a good thing.

As I’m sure many of you are aware much of our cultural view of white Christmases comes from Charles Dickens stories rather than our actual memories.

Only 11 times in London in the last 60 years has snow fallen on Christmas day. (6) (7)

Of course this was not always so.

The River Thames held its first frost fair in 1608 and the last was in 1814.  These took place during the Little Ice Age lasting from about 1300 to about 1850. (39)

Clearly we have warmed since then.  The Little Ice Age started without man made input and ended before any serious global industrialisation.

It’s almost as if temperatures change without a man mad cause.  Incidentally the Coldest Christmas day on record since 1659 was in 2010. – so much for global warming.

But what if I was to pick other dates, different dates to measure warming.  What might conclude?

The English wine market is once again growing, centred in the South East and South West.

Of course the Romans grew grapes and made wine at Hadrian’s Wall, not something we could do today without artificial heaters. (8)

Later tax records show the Britons extensively grew their own wine grapes in the 11th century. (9)

Compared to then we are colder not warming.

The later growing took place in the Medieval Warm Period lasting from around 950 to  1250 AD. (10)

The warming during this period saw the Vikings break out of Scandinavia concur much of Europe and even grow barley in Greenland. (11)

The same warming in the east produced more rain, and grass for the grazing animals that Genghis Khan’s Mongolian horseman rode and feed off.

This abundance allowed his descendants conquer much of Eurasia. (12)

The Medieval Warm Period was not caused by car journeys, aircraft, coal fuelled power stations or even ‘trial by fire’ used by Saxons.
The climate changes it often has little to do with man.

Compared to then we are colder not warming.

Once again I ask.

  • Warmer since when?
  • Warmer compared to what?

When was this ideal period of warmth.  Who is to judge this.

Why are the starting dates that prove the climate scientist clams we are warming any more valid than the start dates I have used?

After all these are the same climate scientists that told us. (13) (14)

  • In 2002 that Britain would suffer a “famine” within 10 years.
  • And that in 2009 we had “eight years to save the planet”

The Scientists

We are often told Climate Change is Settled Science.  Yet Science is knowledge that is testable, repeatable, observable, and falsifiable. (15) (16)

And it’s that falsifiable that really matters here.  Science cannot by definition ever be settled.

If a claim can’t be falsified it’s a matter of faith, of religion, of ideology, but never ever Science.

We often here the claim 97% of scientists believe in manmade global warming.  But who are these scientists?

It’s really not clear, where the figure comes from.

One source of support for this is from the University of Illinoi.  A survey which over 3000 scientists responded to, selected a subset of just 77 who said they agreed that ‘global temperatures had generally risen since 1800, and that human activity is a “significant contributing fact”. (17) (18)

Is this the basis on which to change the modern world economy? On the say of just 77 carefully selected opinions?

Should we give up the industrialisation that dragged our ancestors out of poverty and is still giving the first real hope of a good life to billions in the developing world, on this basis?

Another often made claim is that “2,500 scientists of the UNs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC agree that humans are causing a climate crisis.”

Except of course it’s simply not true.

The number is based on the number of scientist reviewers of all of the IPCC reports.  Only 600 were involved in the report with this statement and proposals. (19)

It’s not even clear that the 600 all agreed with the outcome of the report.

Whilst on the subject of the IPCC, their 2001 report featured the Hockey Stick graph.  This showed broadly flat temperatures with a sharp upturn.  The graph was used to prove the need for urgent change.

The now discredited and dropped hockey stick graph ignored the medieval warming period and little ice age as if they simple didn’t happen. (20)

We could all show the bank manager a graph of our increasing bank balance if we ignored all our out goings

These scientists simply ignored the facts to make their argument.

To believe in the projections of these scientists you have to believe the Thames Ice fairs didn’t exist and all evidence of farming in Greenland was simply made up.

 Are we warming?

I was in Sydney the first two weeks of December.  From a view point in the Blue Mountains I could see half a dozen fires over a fifty square area.

It’s tragic, the loss of humans fighting the fires, and animals is something I am sure we all agree is terrible.

But is it anything to do with global warming?

A 1642 expedition saw smoke drifting over the coast of Tasmania and noted blackened trunks and baked earth in the forests.

In 1770, Captain Cook’s crew saw autumn fires in the bush burning on most days of the voyage.

Many of these fires were deliberately set by Aborigines across Australia.

Fire-stick farming was used to producing lusher grass to fatten kangaroos, they also burned fire breaks as a precaution against bushfire. (21)

Australia suffered major bush fire outbreaks in 1851, 1898, 1925, and 1938.

These occurred before the massive industrialisation in India and China and before any of the supposed trends for man-made global warming.

Yes this year’s fires are tragic.  Worse than many remember.

But the causes are complex, environmentalists have stopped the clearing of land near residential areas and stopped selective burning to create fire breaks.

And of course we have Arsonists.  New South Wales Police reported 716 of this year’s fires did not occur naturally. (22) (23)

After the hurricane seasons of 2010, 11, and 12 the second and joint third most active years on record, we were told due to global warming hurricanes would become common place.

Except of course in 2013 we had the fewest hurricanes since 1930.  The number of storms have been fairly low and stable ever since.

Around here we on occasion have some flooding.

When a story of flooding in the UK hits the news, we hear the familiar cry of climate change.

Yet despite heavy and consistent rain this winter we have thankfully had little flooding.  We see the here and now, we often forget the past was often as bad s.

Much as when Devon and Somerset flooded in 2013 largely because it appears we stopped dredging local water ways.  Natural disasters can have a man-made component.  But let’s not confuse that with a systemic problem.

Odd natural events happen, they make compelling stories, but they are not a reason to change the world.

If the impact of global warming is hard to find it’s worth asking, are we even warming?

Even if we ignore the need for an answer to the question “compared to when” and that’s a massive issue to ignore, are we warming right now?

“Between the start of 1997 and the end of 2014, average global surface temperature stalled.  This 18-year period is known as the global warming pause” (24)

Recently the Met Office concluded the last decade was the second hottest in the past 100 years in the UK, slightly behind 2000 to 2009. – So err I make that we are cooling decade on decade. (25)

The official NASA global temperature data shows from February 2016 to February 2018 “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius”. The biggest two-year drop in the past century. (26)

Contrary to predictions polar bear numbers have never been higher rising 30% since 2005.

CO2 is now at about 412 ppm, or 0.041%.  This plant food is helping the earth become greener.

Despite the supposedly dangerous level of CO2 of 1 part per 2400.  Life has never been better. (27)

  • Infant mortality has never been lower.
  • Life expectancy never higher.
  • Poverty never lower.
  • An estimated 3.2 billion people, or 42 percent of the total world population, are now in the global middle class.  Many of them enjoying today in countries we used to consider third world a better standard of living than some of us grew up with.

Don’t believe the doom mongers.  The world is doing just great.  It’s not clear if it’s warming, it is clear the scientists predictions are wrong.

Why so wrong?

Why are the scientists and their political bedfellows getting the predictions so wrong?

Scientist is never settled and not about consensus, but scientists are people.  They naturally want to be part of the majority.  They want to conform.

For many years around the middle of the last century many scientists wouldn’t support the Big Bang theory even as more and more evidence with experiment substantiated it.

Science had for some time believed in the steady state theory of the universe.  This is had always existed.  Many Scientists didn’t want to believe in the idea of a beginning to the universe because it opened the possibility of a beginner or a god, something that the then modern science was against.

Yet the evidence was there.  Scientists understandably being people weren’t following the evidence but rather the sticking to the ruleset they had been brought up in. (28)

Scientists now, are driven by grants and agendas to support global warming.  When your economic self-interest is driven by a viewpoint it becomes easier to follow that viewpoint.

Between 1989 and 2009 the US Federal Government funded to the tune of $1.6 billion and year climate studies. (29)  Clearly no one was expected to find no change to keep the money coming in.

I am not suggesting corruption in these cases, more I am simply noting it is much easier for your research to find the required answer when paying your mortgage depends on it.

Where there was clear corruption however was with the 2009 Climategate scandal.  Leaked emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, showed a number of scientists collaborating to manipulate data.

This manipulation included:

  • Changing data to show a 156 year warming trend in New Zealand that simply hadn’t happen.
  • Eliminating 75% of the world’s temperature stations from new data with a clear bias toward removing higher-latitude, high-altitude locations. (30)

There are a number of possible reasons politicians push the climate change agenda.

The Chinese like it because we hamper western industry whilst they continue to build a new coal fuelled power station every other week.

Many of our politicians like that all solutions to global warming require more taxes, and power for the politicians, and less rights for the people to make choices in their own lives.

They also like the new jobs it creates and the power they have to disperse them.

Croydon Council recently announced it has a appointed a lead for their Climate Crisis Commission.  They can’t collect the bins on time, planning is a joke but the council can appoint people to a Climate Commission. (31)

Some like Al Gore I suspect do it simply for the money.  Why else would you preach climate catastrophe and rising sea levels whilst spending $8,8million on an ocean front villa with six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms. (32)

You either believe the oceans are rising or you buy a beach property, surely not both.

It’s not so clear why so many celebrities and indeed some of our own royalty are so keen to push green policies.  My own view is they simply don’t like the plebs spoiling the holiday destinations.

I would not normally be some unkind in assigning motive, but I can simply find no other reason to understand how you can fly by private jet to a climate change camp where you then deliver a speech about the environment while barefoot, as Prince Harry did last year. (33)

Why else would Emma Thompson fly the 5,400 miles from LA to London to support the Extinction Rebellion protests? (34)

Can I ask your indulgence for a show of hands on who has flown in the past year….

Multi-Millionaires Al, Harry and Emma, want to stop you doing that. 

And they are so determined that they won’t stop buying mansions or jetting around the globe, until they have stopped you having your annual fortnight in the sun!

What to do?

We all want to live in a good environment, we want to improve the world around us.  The best way to do that is to simply let people get rich.

Poor nations and peoples care little for the environment, survival rightly takes precedence.

As nations like us move to the post industrial age, and we value experiences more that things, we use less carbon.

Our carbon output per person has gone down for 6 years, this has little to do with direct green policies, and much to do with technology improvements. (35)

New Zealand is planting a billion tress, partly because they can afford to. (36)

The amount of land used to produce food for the every growing population is stable, and in the west reducing, with some being returned to the wild.  New science, actual science not computer models has made this possible. (37)

We didn’t face starvation, our cities are still above water, and you are still at risk of polar bear attack in the icy north pole.

We are warmer than two centuries ago, but colder than when Genghis threaten much of the globe.  The biggest threat many face today is in a massively reduced standard of living following the policies preached to us by the rich and powerful.

Life is good, and getting better.

GDP per capita in Africa has increased in real terms by 60% since the year 2000, by 50% in Latin America, and doubled in Asia.

That’s a real terms increase in prosperity.  Why would you want to change that?

Why would we want to put at risk the abundance we have based only on the predictions and fear of those so often proved wrong?


The world is doing well, people’s lives which were through all of human history an immense struggle are improving, all over the globe.

Let’s not throw that all away for fanciful and consistently wrong computer models.

Nigel Lawson sums up the situation well.

‘The fact remains that the most careful empirical studies show that, so far at least, there has been no perceptible increase, globally, in either the number or the severity of extreme weather events.  And, as a happy coda, these studies also show that, thanks to scientific and material progress, there has been a massive reduction, worldwide, in deaths from extreme weather events.’

In some ways worse that the economic impact of the global warming scare is the impact to the mental health of the next generation of adults.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists there is now a condition called eco-anxiety.

Talk of a ‘climate crisis’ has led to an upsurge in young people reporting feelings of anxiety, helplessness and guilt. (38)

This Christmas Channel 4 screened a special edition of Gogglebox with children watching claims by Extinction Rebellion that ‘scientists say we have only 11 years to act’.

One child counted on her fingers how many years she had left to live and worked out that, the world could end when she was just 19.

One mother described how her daughters had asked what the point was in taking their GCSEs if they weren’t even going to be here a few years later.

We are all old enough to know to ignore Prince Charles when he says the world is ending in just 11 years, someone who is 11 years old is not.

Incident the Prince said that the world was ending in 11 years, over 11 years ago.

Children are easily influenced.  Especially once teenagers they like little more than to tell their parents how wrong they and their whole generation is.

Telling children the world will end before they get to be adults is immoral, it damages their mental health and has been proved time and time again patently false.

Naturally want to be part of something big, we like to think our influence on the world around us is greater than it really it.

The world is just fine, humanity is doing great.

Keep the bureaucrats out the way and the natural inventiveness of mankind will ensure things keep getting better.

Leave well alone and lets enjoy the great world we live in.


Image by Mojca JJ from Pixabay

Debating Society: A small income tax increase is justified to fund social care

The Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society planned to hold two debates in September but ran out of time on the night.  One was planned on “A small income tax increase is justified to fund social care”.

The text below was originally written by Mike Swadling as a speech to be delivered to a live audience for the purpose of a debating society.  Join them for their next debate on Monday 4th November, where the subject will be “It is unrealistic nowadays to have an unarmed police force”.

Other details from debate club nights can be found in CR5 Magazine.

“To use the dreadful term many people are bed blocking what is say a £500 a day bed, because a roughly £500 a month social care package can’t be provided”

Yes pay more

We are at the start of a 25 year period of peak age.  The demographics mean for a generation we will have older people, often needing more care and fewer working age people to pay for it.  This will eventually ease away, but this a challenge facing us now.

I suspect I am not alone in having seen a loved one in hospital, not able to leave for a lack of social care.  To use the dreadful term many people are bed blocking what is say a £500 a day bed, because a roughly £500 a month social care package can’t be provided.

This doesn’t make sense for the patients’ mental or physical health, their family’s needs, costs to the NHS and taxpayers, or the needs of the person requiring that ‘blocked bed’.

That extra funding is needed few would doubt.  The question is how do you provide it?

Laffer Curve

Let me try a little thought experiment with you.

Which do you think would raise more revenue for the government?

An income tax rate of 100% or 0%?

(Answer: both the same £0 why would anyone work to pay 100% tax)

Ok which rate do you think would raise more money for the government?

An income tax rate of 99% or 1%?

(Answer: 1% why would anyone work to pay 99% tax, we all work at a tax rate of more than 1% tax)

An income tax rate of 75% or 25%?

(Answer: 25% why would anyone work to pay 75% tax)

This demonstrates higher tax rates do not necessarily mean higher tax takes.

Known as the Laffer curve after the Economist Arthur Laffer.  It predicts somewhere between 25% and 33% is the point where government income is maximised.

The disincentives in tax, do not outweigh the extra income from higher rates.

Broadly in income tax people are prepared to say two for me, and one for you.  But no more.

“the total tax take has never been lower than 32.5% of GDP and never higher that 37.5% of GDP.  Mostly these fluctuations are around the periods of recessions as the economy rapidly changes.  Higher tax rates don’t increase tax revenue.  People simply refuse to pay it”


On the UKs average income of about £30,000.

  • you pay about £6,000 in tax and national insurance
  • you are usually be responsible for let’s say half the average £1600 council tax
  • about £200 in car tax
  • you pay about another £200 in air tax for your holiday
  • and close to many of our hearts, 52p on a pint and about £3.5 on a £7 bottle of wine.

It’s not hard to see about a third of our income going in tax.

Total government tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is about 36%, whereas spending is about 37%.

Since the 1970s tax receipts have never exceed 38% of GDP, mostly that have hovered around 35%

  • In this time we have had governments of Labour, Conservative, LibLab Pacts, Conservative Liberal coalitions, the UUP prop up James Callahan, and the DUP prop up Theresa May.
  • In that time basic rate income has been as high as 35% and as low as 20%.
  • The top rate has been as high as    83%    and as low as 40%.
  • It’s not just income tax.  Corporation tax has been as high as 52% and as low as 28%

Yet the total tax take has never been lower than 32.5% of GDP and never higher that 37.5% of GDP.

Mostly these fluctuations are around the periods of recessions as the economy rapidly changes.

Higher tax rates don’t increase tax revenue.  People simply refuse to pay it.

They work less, more of off books, on in the case of the most highly skilled, simply move and work elsewhere to avoid overly burdensome tax rates.

High tax rates kill economic growth.


If you want to spend more on social care, find an existing poor use of money and reallocate it. You can also reduce the costs of providing the care itself. If I could ask your indulgence with a few suggestions:

  • Merge responsibilities and budgets of the NHS and Social Service.
  • As a result local managers can decide if the best service is provided by funding acute care or stopping bed blocking.
  • As I have said I firmly believe many £500 a day beds are being filled for lack of a £500 a month care package.
  • More money is pouring into the NHS.  You might not think it’s enough, but every year spending increases.  Form 3.7% of GDP in 1970 to 7.1% now, the trend is relentlessly up.
  • Rather than focus on building more and better hospitals for a National Hospital Service, let’s focus on a National Health Service.
  • Let’s see if there are more efficient ways to spend that money, that get better overall outcomes.
  • Let’s get creative.  Some people require a huge amount of care, but lots of fairly active able pensioners and others require a little bit of social care.  At the same time we have problems caring for special needs adults and children and a high cost of nursery care.
  • Let’s look at facilities where we can bring old and young together for both their benefits, and reduce the cost of staffing in the process.
  • Experiments like those carried out by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust or St Monica Trust show such operations reduce depression and improve general health in the elderly whilst increasing maturity and language skills in the young.
  • From 2013 all new Nurses need degrees.  Why?  Does it really require two years in college and 3 in University to empty a bed pan?
  • Are straight A’s needed to provide a good bedside manor?
  • Are these perhaps skills better learnt by doing, rather than by reading a book or sitting in a lecture theatre?
  • Some functions performed by nurses may need additional qualifications but clearly not all.  There is anecdotal evidence that Nurses with degrees are less focused on being a patient’s friend, providing basic comfort or even a clean environment and more on only the work requiring graduate studies.
  • A mixed ward with graduate, on the job highly trained, and new less skilled nurses providing basic care, will be cheaper, and frankly might be better at providing the full spectrum of care needed for patients.

Achieving the same level of care at a cheaper rate per a patient, means more care can be provided, or more money for life saving drugs, or simply a lower charge for those families paying for care.

Summing up

As I have said I think we do need to put more funding into social care.  But an income tax increase is simply the wrong way to provide it.

It may sound good, but it won’t do good. In fact it could have the opposite effect.

If you want more money to spend on social care, re balance government spending and make this a priority.

Vote against this motion, don’t reduce tax take and leave those most in need paying for a nice sounding, but wrong doing proposition.

Photo by The original uploader was Blakwolf at Italian Wikipedia. – Transferred from it.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.5

Debating Society: Priti Patel is right: it’s time to bring back the death penalty

The Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society held a debate in early September on the subject of “Priti Patel is right: it’s time to bring back the death penalty”.  To be fair the Home Secretary had walked back that statement, but it was a good opportunity to discuss capital punishment.

The text below was originally written by Mike Swadling as a speech delivered to a live audience for the purpose of a debating society.  Join them for their next debate on Monday 4th November, where the subject will be “It is unrealistic nowadays to have an unarmed police force”.

Other details from debate club nights can be found in CR5 Magazine.


Deuteronomy speaks of an eye for an eye.  But the principle predates the Old Testament and is first seen in Babylonian law.  It is also seen in pre-Christian Anglo Saxon law.

Partly thanks to Ghandi people perceive this to be a retaliation rather than a reasonable punishment.  The principle of an eye of an eye, started as a way to ensure punishment was measured and appropriate.

Goods taken would be return, and an injury would see a similar injury endured.

A death would be punishable by a death, not the wiping out of a family or clan, that was in ancient times, all too common.

That the punishment is proportional, in most societies was, and maybe still is a massive leap forward.

Indeed that fairness is engrained in most of us.

  • If someone pick pockets from us, we don’t expect them to be battered or bruised (we might), but we expect some financial punishment or maybe some community service.
  • If they break into our homes we expect some loss of freedom, some extensive community service or a short custodial sentence.
  • If they attack us we expect a long punishing custodial sentence.

Therefore, I ask, who are we, if someone losses their life, to judge that the injury to them, should not be have a fair retribution?

I would like to emphasis here if someone loses their life, they not the friends and family are the primary wronged party. 

Yes other feel the loss, but the real loss is the person whose life was cut short.

Why should they not be entitled to the same retribution from the law as any of us who suffered a lesser crime?

Wrong thinking

We often hear that because we have murders in places that have a death penalty it does work as a deterrent.  It does, and I will come onto that.

But this idea that a punishment, any punishment deters all action, is something that we would apply in no other realm.

Who has ever heard:

  • “If we just bring in a punishment for theft no one will ever steal anything”?
  • “If we punish speeding, no one will speed”?
  • “No one will evades tax, now we have fine for it”?

Indeed many here will have brought up children, I am sure we have all cared for some at some point.

We all know from this that once you set a boundary, no child ever breaks it.

Hold on is that not your experience?

Punishments do deter but don’t stop.  Different punishments deter in different times and places in different ways.  For instance different levels of crime and punishment may happen in different states in the US.

One with capital punishment may have more murders than one without, because, simply they are different places.  In the developed world, most murders occur in cities.

In Australia the outback of the Northern Territory has some of the highest murder rates in the world.  Why?  Its remote, really remote, it’s the place criminals go to hide.  It turns out they are still criminals, they commit murders.  It’s a different place and simply, should be, no more be compared to Sydney, than the hill country of Texas is with the South Side of Chicago.

“Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  Today we are losing about an extra 330 people year than when we have capital punishment”

It works

Beyond the inherent fairness of capital punishment, Priti Patel is right.  It is time to bring back the death penalty, because it works.

I agree with Nancy Reagan when she said:

“I believe that more people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.”

Or to quote President George W Bush:

“I don’t think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don’t think that’s right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people’s lives”

I want to do a little thought experiment with you.

  • Let’s say a new law in the UK meant murder would be punishable by death if committed on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, but not if commitment on any other day of the week.
  • Hands up if you think that would result on fewer murders, and keep in mind by its very nature, murder requires some premeditation.  On a Monday, Wednesday or Friday than other days of the week?
  • Of course it would hitmen, wronged lovers, gang members and maybe even some psychopaths would change the day they choose to commit murders, if this was the law.

In the UK we had capital punishment until it was abolished in 1965.  Murders, are measured in rate per 100,000 people.

In Britain thanks to new ideas like Bobbies on the beat and new technology like fingerprints the murder rate started falling in roughly mid-1800s until the mid-1960s.

Thankfully murder is so low, that year or year rates fluctuate but trends can be seen.

We have more detailed statistics from 1900 where the decade saw a murder rate of 0.96 per 100,000.  This fell gradually to 0.75 for the 1930, the era of the great depression.  The rate rose slightly during and just after the war, but come 1959 it was down to 0.59 per 100,000.

In 1965 the rate was at 0.68, 1966, 0.76, 1974, 1.06.

What changed?  What made the British suddenly so much more murderous? 

Could it be?  The death penalty was abolished in 1965 and had basically all but stopped being used a few years earlier?

Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  The reversal in this loss of innocent lives didn’t stop there.  By 1987 the murder rate was up at 1.19, by 1999, 1.45, by 2002 over 2 per 100,000 were murdered.

Based on today’s population every extra 1 person per 100,000 is an extra 660 needless deaths per year.  The 2010s thankfully the murder rate lower, but was still just below 1 per 100,000, or about 300 extra deaths over the 1960s rate, and it has of course come up again to 1.22 for 2016 the last year figures are available for.

The rate went down from 2003 to about 2016, why?  My speculation would be The Criminal Justice Act of 2003 which toughened sentences for murder and rules on life imprisonment.

Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  Today we are losing about an extra 330 people year than when we have capital punishment.

“If all 100% of them turned out to be innocent the deterrent effect of capital punishment would still save on average 30 times as many innocent lives a year”

What about the innocent?

But what about the innocent and the miscarriages of justice?  It’s a good question.  There will be irreversible miscarriages of justice.  Fact it will happen, but I put I to you, do you want to do good or do you want to feel good?

I want to do good.  I want to choose the route that results in the least deaths, not the route that makes me feel most cleansed.  We are losing approximately an extra 330 people per year than when we had capital punishment.  We will lose some innocent convicted people, but with capital punishment we would be doing good and saving more innocent lives.

The risk to innocent life’s being taken by the state is real.  But so is the risk to innocent lives being taken in murder.  Between 1735 and 1799 we executed about 7400 people.  But that was then.

It reduced to 762 between 1900 and 1964.  If all 100% of them turned out to be innocent the deterrent effect of capital punishment would still save on average 30 times as many innocent lives a year.

I ask again, do you want to feel good or actually do good?

But most won’t be innocent.  Indeed various studies in the US estimate that between 2.3 and 5% of all prisoners are innocent.  In the UK, reviews prompted by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have resulted in one pardon and three exonerations for people that were executed between 1950 and 1953 during which period we executed 68 people.

Again about 5%.  With modern DNA evidence I would expect this rate to fall.  But the deterrent effect would still be in place.

People will spend years, and even sometimes say anything to avoid capital punishment.  People will feel sympathy for them.

It doesn’t mean they deserve it.

Priti Patel is right: It’s time to bring back the death penalty.

It will save lives.  It will help abate the rising tide of knife crime we see on our streets.

It will give justice to those poor souls who had their lives untimely taken and for all its difficulties it is simply the right thing to do.

Photo by andy dolman, CC BY-SA 2.0 Link

Debating Society “Women have become ridiculously militant”

On the 1st July the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society hosted a debate on the question ‘Women have become ridiculously militant.

In true debating society style, who spoke either to propose or oppose the motion was open for all members to volunteer.  Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling argued against the motion.

Mikes’ argument was that women should be angry that they are treated as one group, not the individuals they are.  That women’s rights are being removed by the transgender movement, taking away the chance to compete at sports, and privacy to get changed away from men.  Finally if female activists are happy with their lot here, they really should stand up for women across the globe. The text of Mikes’ speech is below.


Thank-you to tonight’s chair, to an un-militant Angela for proposing the motion, and to you all, for attending.

It may seem odd that I as a man, am in effect saying, women are not militant enough.  However I am confident I know, a sure-fire way to make a group of women more militant.  Clearly all that would be needed is for me, a man, to stand up here and tell you what to do!

What is this grouping that encompasses all women?  100 years after the franchise was awarded to women over 30, why are 51% of the population seen as a monolithic block?  Most would think it absurd if anyone assumed that two men thought the same, and shared the same concerns just because we were men.  Why do people think it’s true of women?

We have a Minister for Women, as if you can all be represented by one government department.  If you search ‘Women’s Issues’ on the internet a whole host of pressure groups, the UN, NGOs and Governmental agencies come up.  All assuming you all, all 51% of you, face the same challenges, share the same beliefs, and feel the same way.  That’ mad. 

I’ve rarely meet any woman who thinks the same thing for long (sorry I couldn’t resist that).  Finding two men or women in lockstep is rare the idea we can treat every women on earth the same is crazy.  Incidentally if you search ‘Men’s Issues’ online, you mainly get links to a series of rather sarcastic newspaper articles.  None assume all men are the same.

One measurable area for categorising the sexes is voting.  Women vote 8% more on average for Democrats than Republicans in the US, that’s a lot, but still only 54 to 46.  Hardly all women in lockstep. 

In the UK General Election of 2017.  The female vote went 43% both to Conservative and Labour.  In France the gender gap had about 4% more women voting for Macron than men.  Men were more likely to vote for the female candidate Le Pen.


In Italy’s 2018 General Election, the Centre Left and Five Star votes we’re evenly split between men and women.  The Centre Right coalition.  The latest incarnation of the group set-up by that well known feminist, Silvio Berlusconi.  Had a quarter of a percent lead in women’s votes over men.


The differences of opinion within a gender are far, far greater than the differences of opinion between genders.  Does anyone here think a women in Coulsdon, and a woman in Cairo share more in common, than any random woman and man in either plan?  I think it’s insulting to you individuality to think of women as one group.

I aim to persuade you tonight, that the fact the government, the media, many social commentators, and far too many men ignore the diversity womanhood.  This dismissal of your individual essence is wrong. It is in fact so wrong, it could make you angry.  I believe it should make you angry and militant as hell.


How does the assumption, that all women think the same, play across these supposed women’s issues.

Let’s look at Feminism.  You might think women could be classed together as feminists?  Except of course, a 2018 YouGov poll, found that only 34% of women in the UK said they were a feminist.   This number ranges between 8% and 40% across Europe.  Among Millennials the number was less than 20%.


The Pew Research Centre showed in the US, men and women have a similar weighting of importance on issues from the Economy, Health Care, Education, Social Security, and for that matter Foreign Policy.


Significant gender gaps only came in for the Environment, Trade Policy and this being the US Abortion.


That brings me onto the issue above all others that is seen as a woman’s issue, abortion.  A hugely divisive issue, I am generally keen to avoid. However, it is an issue that is spoken about as if all women as on one side.  Of course this is not the case.

A YouGov poll in 2013 shown 80% of UK women said life began at ‘some time before birth’, with 53 per cent saying that ‘life begins at conception’.  Across recent polls, women are more in favour of restrictions around abortion access than men.


In the US 31% of Women, nearly a third, want Roe v Wade, the judgment that made abortion a constitutional right, overturned.


My point here again is that no one should attempt to speak for all women.  Any woman’s individuality should never be subsumed into global grouping that simply doesn’t exist.


Women’s rights, to trade their labour, as freely as men,   has long been fought for.  Again it is often assumed, all women want to work and be successful in careers.  I’m sure we have all known women who are happy being full time mothers.  And indeed women conflicted between working and spending time with their children.  That’s not to say we don’t also all know many women successful in their careers.  The point is all women are different in what they want.

Looking at how many women work across the globe, it’s clear the feminist assumption that all women want to work is just plain wrong.  I expect differences between the developing a developed world.  Differences between religions and regions.

But what’s not clear to me is why Belgium, France and Japan all at around 50% of women working are so different from Canada, Sweden and Singapore at around 60% or Iceland at over 70%. 


These are all rich countries.  None are especially religious, they are all democracies, where women enjoy significant choice and freedom.  Why are they so different?

It’s almost as if women are different and not all aligned.  As feminist campaigners and others who presume to speak for you all, assume all women to be.

Get militant – Sport

Now having made the case that all women are not a clear cut group.   I’m going to ask for some leeway from the society and share some issues I believe should of concern to all women.  In fact they should be of concern to us all, male and female.

Most of us will remember the London 2012 Olympics and the night when Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon Gold.  I don’t remember Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon in 1977,   but I do know that was a great moment for British Sport.  I do remember Dame Kelly Holmes two golds in Athens, Tessa Sanderson’s Gold in Los Angeles and Sharron Davies’ Silver in Moscow.  These were all amazing nights for sport.  For British sport, and women’s sport.

At the end of the last football season, Pep Guardiola the Manchester City manager,   said his team would not be the first side to win an English domestic treble should they beat Watford in the FA Cup final.  Because “the women have done it”, referring to the Arsenal Ladies team who won the domestic treble, in 2006-07.

It’s a fair comparison, however we shouldn’t compare men and women directly in sport.  Biological men with average extra height, weight and strength outperform women at almost every sport.

To give you an idea of the difference.  The last Olympic women’s 100 meter winner ran 10.49 seconds.  The men’s, 9.58 seconds.  You have to go back to 1928 before todays, women’s Gold Medallist would beat the men’s Gold Medallist.


Andy Murray has a fairly leisurely top serve speed in Men’s tennis at 141mph.

Serena Williams one of the fastest female servers, at 128mph.  Places her basically nowhere on the men’s rankings for speed of service.


Olympic records in weightlifting are surprisingly closer.  The competition is split into weight categories, but even here only the very heaviest category of women overtakes the lowest category of men.  The strongest men by comparison lift half as much again as the strongest women.


I say this to make the simple point, men’s and women’s bodies are different.

To have a level playing field in adult sport.  Men must complete against men, and Women against women.  Recently this is changing.

In February it was reported that a Connecticut high school transgender athlete transitioning to female, won the 55-meter dash……. Setting a new girl’s state record.  Another transgender athlete, placed second in the race.


CeCe Telfer, won the women’s 400 metre hurdle national title,   in the US in May.  Previously he finished just 10th at the regional Northeast Championships back in 2016.  Now she’s the national champion.

Olympic Silver medal winner Sharron Davies calls for a chromosome split saying “If we are not careful then in 10 years all the records in men’s sport will be held by men and all the records in women’s sport will be held by women who carry a Y chromosome”. 

As former Tennis champion Martina Navratilova said “A man can decide to be female, win everything in sight and then reverse his decision.”

I hasten to add if any of the women here feel they would like to show that their advanced Kung Fu skills can beat a man, especially this one, I am sure you are right.

I would like to point out I am referring to top athletes not the average man in the street, and I make these points only to aid the debate.

But the point is.  Women deserve a chance to compete at sport.  Girls deserved a chance to compete and win, not be held back by the boys.  They deserve a fair shout.  I want my nieces to have, a chance to win a race, swim and come first, hit the ball further than the other girls.  Not simply to always come second to bigger and stronger boys.

How can you not be angry?  How can you not be militant at these opportunities being taken away from your daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters?

Changing rooms

I think it is fair to say many women feel “uncomfortable” seeing men “parading around naked” in front of them.  A gender-neutral “changing village” was created as part of a £10m refurbishment at Bath Sports and Leisure Centre.

To quote one user: “For some women this is extremely uncomfortable. It’s a safety issue. Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted in unisex facilities.”  “Not everybody with their toddler would like to be confronted by men with everything out.”


It is not unreasonable for women to feel safe in changing rooms.  Why the drive to unisex facilities?  I suspect the vast majority of men don’t want them either.  Having spent a couple of hundred years giving women more and more freedom from men over their bodies.  Why aren’t women getting angry when it’s taken away from you?

Arranged Marriage

If you’re happy with your lot here.  You might not be so happy with the treatment of women further afield.  Still today 55% of the marriages in the world are arranged.

That’s not necessarily wrong.  There are many successful arrange marriages.
Divorce rates in this country suggest choice isn’t always a great selection method.  But what is more worrying, is that in an arranged marriage, the man is usually 4.5 years older than the woman.  That gaps not that much, it is higher than most couples I know, but not outrageous.  As always an average hides the extremes at the edges.  For instance 48% of the girls who are involved in an arranged marriage in South Asia are under 18.  In Niger 26%.of the girls are less than 15.  In Afghanistan 80% of the marriages are considered forced, as opposed to just arranged.


Is this not enough to make you angry.  Is this not something all people but especially women should be fighting to change?


Education is one of the best ways to fight these injustices.  Especially female education and empowerment.  The gender parity index measures the ratio of the female to male literacy of 15 to 24 year olds.

Of the 167 countries they have data for, most have parity in literacy rates between the genders.  Indeed Jamaica, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe have significantly greater female than male, literacy rates.  However 22% of countries have significantly greater male than female literacy rates.  With Afghanistan, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Liberia, and Mali having male literacy rates at almost twice that of women.

How can this be right, as a school governor in Croydon for many years, I have never once seen boys outperform girls,   in the English grading in any of the schools I have worked with.  Yet these countries have boys twice as literate and girls.  This isn’t the 1920’s, this is education received in the 21st Century.  These are girls today that are not taught at the same rate as boys.

Why aren’t those who call themselves feminists more militant, more radical, and calling for more change on this?


How to get militant.

On the one hand, the media, politicians, and campaign groups, often claim to speak on behalf of ‘all women.  A group that simply doesn’t exist.  Yet at the same time they are falling to act,   where women as a group are not treated fairly.

Maybe we should take a leaf out of the history books.  100 years ago Suffragettes were chaining themselves to railings, and refusing to pay taxes and fines.  In a Reign of Terror, in 1913 there were 250 arson or other destruction attacks in just six-months.  Window-breaking, post-box burning and telegraph cable breaking, were common.

In ancient Rome protestors for women’s rights employed methods, from public demonstrations, to providing financial support, and even to acts of mass poisoning.


What do we have today – A Facebook post.  A Selfie.  Maybe a tweet!

You and all of our daughters deserve the chance to play at, and to compete and win at sports.  You all deserve privacy in the changing rooms, and across the globe.  All women deserve the chance to choose their partners, and gain the fundamental literacy skills, needed to make real choices in their lives.

I am angry, these young women aren’t getting a fair start.

I hope you are too. 

  • Take action, write to a paper, or politician. 
  • Join a campaign group
  • Join a protest
  • Run for office

But mostly become ridiculously militant, about it.

Summing Up

Women today have every reason to be militant.  Not as a group, but as individuals.  I don’t think of my female colleagues, friends and family members as one group.  I am genuinely annoyed many in the elite both male and female think you are.  I hope you feel the same.

The women I meet are not shrinking violets.  They hold great jobs, are the lynchpin of busy families, often care for elderly relatives and in the case of my older sisters are still quite capable of bossing around their ‘kid’ brother.

The last thing they need is media and ‘women’s’ lobby groups telling them how to live their lives.  Fight back, fight back like hell, I ask you.

If this isn’t enough, the rights women have fought for, for over a hundred years are being eroded, in the name of progress.  Without denying how anyone feels, you, your daughters and granddaughters deserve the chance, to complete at sports and get changed in private. 

I grew up watching a strong female Prime Minister, pitted against women supporting striking miners and women camping at Greenham Common.  I saw Mother Teresa being criticised for her support for Indira Gandhi and I saw Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sing, Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.

Where now are these women striking out, standing strong, and Acting in defiance?

Across the globe your sisters are being denied basic literacy, denied the right to choose their partner and sometimes even denied the right to show their face in public.

If those aren’t good reasons to get out and get militant I don’t know what are.

‘Today’s media are destroying democracy’

On the 4th February the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society hosted a debate on the question ‘Today’s media are destroying democracy?’

In true debating society style, who proposed or opposed was decided by the toss of a coin.  Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling argued in favour of the motion.

Mikes’ argument centred on the Medias inability to represent all fairly, and that this led directly to a coarsening of our politics and a corrosion of our democracy.

Those of us with unfashionable ideas, both on the left and right of politics and all too often shut out by today’s media.  The text of Mikes’ speech is below.


Firstly thank-you to the Chair, to Richard for offering to oppose the motion and to all for attending tonight. 

Today’s media are destroying democracy?

I intend to make the argument to you tonight that the Medias inability to represent all fairly and let a multitude of ideas have voice, has directly led to many seeking alternative often more extreme voices.

It has led to a lack of belief in any facts, because only some face challenge, and it has led directly to a coarsening of our politics and a corrosion of our democracy.

Ironically at one time the mass murderer Chairman Mao was more willing to “Let a hundred flowers blossom” than many are in todays forth estate.


I need to add some definition around the terms in tonight’s debate title.

If I may take democracy first, democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state”.  This definition really doesn’t go far enough.  After all the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea holds elections for the Supreme People’s Assembly.

All seats, in what has been called the biggest prison camp in the world North Korea, are of course won by the Communists.  A democracy that matters needs more than a vote.  It needs to be a Liberal democracy.  Where rights of the individual are enshrined in law.  It needs to be a place where “elections have consequence” and are not simply ignored by those already in power.

Its needs a demos, a people who can get on with their daily lives, and live in a community, regardless of the side they were on in the last or for a future vote.  A demos who choose to be together no matter their politics.

The Media are, “the main means of mass communication regarded collectively”.  This is simply a means.  A means isn’t capable of destroying or building anything.  It needs further definition, so for this debate I will be referencing the Mainstream media.

This being conventional newspapers, television, and Radio.  Organisations that are typically dedicated to journalism and where they acknowledge bias claim to separate comment from news.

These conventional sources are destroying using its dictionary definition of “to ruin emotionally or spiritually”, the belief we have in our fourth estate, and our trust that our views, whatever they may be will get a fair hearing from that mainstream media.

This lack of trusts between elections leads to a lack of trust in elections.


The Medias failure to represent all fairly as I have said has led to a growing set of news sources each targeted at only small communities.

In driving away so many the Mainstream media has destroyed faith in a collective set of news or facts that lay at the foundations of our democracy.  This destruction doesn’t physically stop us voting, it doesn’t stop elections happening and it wouldn’t stop rights being enshrined in law.

However this destruction of credibility and faith does stop people believing in the outcome of a votes and in our democratic institutions.  That outcome is undermined for instance by the constant questioning of the motives of why people voted a certain way.  Failing to accept that maybe good people can differ.

It is also undermined when an underreported view, party or person from outside the mainstream set of ideas suddenly wins.  We have recently examples of this with, Syriza in Greece, Five Star and Lega in Italy, Trump in US, Brexit in UK, and close results for the Freedom Party in Austria, Independence vote in Scotland, AFD in Germany, and Front National in France.

All and to be clear all results at best unexpected and often completely missed by the mainstream media.  These votes created a shock to the democratic system and came as a shock to many individuals.  Yet these instances are clearly failings of the Media to understand and report what many are feeling.

Too many in a media are openly disparaging of any views outside of the ‘acceptable’ set.  Often referred to at the Overton window, also known as the window of discourse.  These are the only publically tolerated ideas.  Mainstream media reporting sits inside this window, even if the ideas outside hold considerable popularity.  They only seriously report other views once elections have happened or where electoral law forces them.

This has not always been the case.  In the 80s our media would report both Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher.  Norman Tebbit and Tony Benn would feature in print and on screen.  Indeed both the TUC and CBI conferences would be broadcast at times of mass redundancies, strikes and sadly often violent clashes.  Despite a rather silly attempt to ban their actual voices members of Sinn Féin IRA were reported as they fought a war against our state.

Alas no more.  The media would not consider giving prominence to such forthright advocates, for fear their views may offend.

And therein lies the problem.  If your views are not covered in the mainstream in the period between elections, and large blocks of votes are constantly disparaged, why should anyone have faith in the democratic process?


When supposedly radical, yet often popular ideas aren’t being ignored they are being undermined.  How is this being done?

In a News at Six report in 2015, Laura Kuenssberg said she had asked Jeremy Corbyn the following:

“If he were the resident here at Number 10 whether or not he would be happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack”.

His answer was surprising:

“I am not happy with a shoot to kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counter-productive”

This exchange was highlighted to embarrass Corbyn and the Labour party, to make his views seem odd and outside the mainstream.  After all who wouldn’t expect an armed response to a Paris style attack that had killed many??

Now regardless of what you think of Jeremy Corbyn, love of loath, I hope we can all agree the exchange should be reported accurately.  Except of course the actual question Kuenssberg had asked during the interview was:

“If you were prime minister, would you be happy to order people – police or military – to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?”

No mention of Paris style account.  No allowance for the nuance needed when talking about a general policy, as opposed to a distinct event.

Source BBC

This is not a one off.  In 2017 the BBCs Nick Robinson tweeted during the election campaign that:

“No-one should be surprised that Jeremy Corbyn is running v the ‘Establishment’ & is long on passion & short on details. Story of his life,”

Now you may agree or disagree with that sentiment, but this is from one of the leading correspondents from an organisation legally obliged to be neutral commenting during an election campaign.

I am sure most Labour members and many voters do not feel Corbyn is ‘short on detail’ and a neutral BBC reporter should not be offering this opinion.

Source RT

Jeremy Corbyn has been constantly undermined;

  • we were told he was about to lose power up to the 2017 election;
  • we were told he would lose massively in the 2017 election;
  • we are now told he is nowhere on Brexit.

At a time when the Conservatives are tearing themselves apart, Corbyn has stood back and as Oppositions should do, oppose.  In doing this he has kept his party together, despite significant fault lines, you could say he has played a bit of a political blinder.

Of course this is not reported, as Corbyn politics sit outside the medias acceptable window of ideas.


These days many of us receive some of our news from across the globe and global events affect us all.

In the United States, the Centre for Responsive Politics found that 65% of journalist’s political financial contributions went to Democrats in the 2010 election cycle.  MSNBC found that 87%, gave to Democrats or liberal causes.

The Media Research Centre found that 94 percent of donors affiliated with five major news outlets also contributed to Democrats between 2008 and 2016.

Source Ballotpedia

In 2016, not a single member of the White House press corps was a registered Republican.  Whilst more than a quarter were registered Democrats and of course 86% percent said they expect Clinton to win the election.

Source Free Beacon

How did that pan out?

In the two party US system none supported one of the parties.  These are a range of journalist’s from papers, radio and TV, none of whom supported the winning party for the Presidency and the party that at the time held the Senate, the House and the majority of Governorships.

Would you say this is a media that is likely to be trusted by a majority of voters?

It’s not just the US in 2013, the Ozzies BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, journalists were surveyed;

  • 41% would vote Green;
  • 32% Labor;
  • and just 14.7% for the Liberal/Nationalist Coalition.

Source ABC

At the next Australian general election the Coalition received 45% of the vote, and the Greens just 8.6 percent.  This is a media wildly out of step with the people.


If the reporters themselves are unbalanced from the populace maybe the reporting isn’t’, maybe those they invite on are more fairly balance?

A great bellwether is the BBCs Question Time, a show meant to have a panel representing all our political views.

As of September 2017 in the 42 Question Time shows there had been since the EU referendum, Remain panellists have outnumbered Leavers by 137-72.

Leavers have only outnumbered Remainers in 3 episodes whilst, Remainers dominated in 36.

Given the majority of the country backed Leave is this right?

Source Guido Fawkes

In all these examples I would ask again that you put aside your own views and instead focus on does this lack of balance foster trust in our media as a place we can democratically come together.

It’s not that the programme is biased per se.  In the 2014-15 season it had 195 guest appearances.  The left wing New Statesman judged these guest to be 53 for the right, 24 for the centre, and 58 for the left.

But over a similar period the SNP had only been on the Question Time panel six times in a year, in contrast to the LibDems who had been booked for 22 appearances when they were the third biggest Westminster party.

UKIP appeared on just one in four programmes, during a period they won the European elections, were trending between 10 to 20% in the polls and gain 4 million votes in a general election.

Source The National

Indeed in the same period just 5 guest came from the Green party and Respect combined.

It cannot seriously be said that this lack of coverage of parties outside the Medias allowable set of ideas truly represents the views of licence fee payers?

Question Time has non-political guests.  During this time they had 38 Journalists, 10 Celebrities, 3 from Business, a Trade unionist, 3 Academics, 2 Religious guest, 2 Campaigners and 1 overseas guest.

Source The New Statesman

How do these numbers represent the:

  • 6.23 million Trade union members in the country?
  • 6 million regular churchgoers?
  • 15 million people who volunteer regularly
  • 4.8 million Self-employed, and 25 million private sector employees?

The broadest definition, gives all of these groups combined just 8 of 60 neutral guests, yet we have 38 journalists and 10 celebrities on the panels.

This is a media class talking to and representing a media class, and not talking to or representing you and me.  Thereby failing to perform the democratic function of the fourth estate.

The media excludes so many, because in spending so much time talking to themselves, they develop a group think and their reporting falls into a pre-defined narrative.

Most weekends in London some thousands of people are marching for campaigns they believe in.  Whether the protests be from Kurds, Tamils, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Environmentalists, Tommy Robinson supporters, Socialist Workers, Trade Unionists or many large faith celebrations.  These often large marches get no mainstream media coverage.

Indeed this weekend I notices Croydon North MP Steve Reed had posted pictures from a General and Municipal Workers Union rally.  Desperate for content for this speech I searched the internet for news on the rally.  Despite decent attendance, and a reasonably senior opposition MP attending.  I simply couldn’t find any.  No one bothered to report it.

They simply do not fit their narrative.  Somehow rallies and even when thousands are marching are not as significant as a Tweet or Instagram post fellow member of the media.

Even locally we see a poor reporting of politics in Croydon.  Now whilst I would clearly like to thank the wonderful dedicated journalists who have reported the press releases I have sent them.  All too often the local papers will simply report the latest press release from the council and little else.

Their narrative does not extend to the non-partisan but often political activities of local residents associations, the large number of Socialist events emanating from Ruskin House, the press releases of opposition councillors or minor parties in the borough.

Indeed during the referendum only the sadly now defunct Croydon Citizen reported on either sides activities, nothing from the Croydon Advertiser or Croydon Guardian about large local dynamic local campaigns.

During that period I was interviewed by German, French, Korean, and Danish TV, Radio and Papers.  Not once was I interviewed by someone from the mainstream Croydon press.

A photoshoot at a new venue with the sitting MP is possibly more newsworthy than the many local campaigns that drive democracy.  Should this mean the other local campaigns should be excluded from all coverage?

Left or Right is an outdated way of viewing media bias it is now whether you are inside out outside their groupthink.

I started by saying I intended to make the argument to you that the Medias inability to represent all fairly and let a multitude of ideas have voice, has directly led to many seeking alternative often more extreme voices. 

We see that many people receive their news via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sources.  Momentum, Brietbart, The Canary, Al Jazeera, and Russia Today have for many replaced traditional media where, although our opinions may differ we coalesce around a basic set of events, news source and ideas needed for a functioning democracy.

The lack of us ever coming together enables us to more readily attack each other’s motives and attack each other as individuals rather than simply questioning each other ideas.

Not feeling represented between elections makes us less likely to participate in and trust in elections. 

By this means the media are destroying our democracy.

Summing up

I have been making the argument that if you sit outside the Medias acceptable narrative you are at first ignored then undermined.  This leads to an alienation that undermines our democracy.

In the US they dismissed the chances of Trump winning, now attack anyone who supports him.  No matter the truth or age of those involved.

You may have seen reports in the last couple of weeks of the standoff between students from Covington Catholic High School and Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memoria in Washington.  I want to share this from CNN

“Videos of the confrontation show a smiling young man in a red Make America Great Again hat standing directly in front of the man, who was playing a drum and chanting.

“Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe, said the confrontation felt like “hate unbridled.” In the moment, he said he was scared for his safety and the safety of those with him.”

Except this simply did not happen.  The entire report is and was at the time a provable lie.  If Mr Phillips was scared, why then did he walk directly into the group of students who were simply waiting for a bus?

CNN and other news agencies including the BBC and Sky News here knew this, they had the extended video that shows what I have just described.

Of course they had a native, a set of acceptable ideas.  Their narrative was MAGA hat bad, Christian’s bad, Native Americans good.  Facts at no point were allowed to get in the way of this prejudiced view.

Incidentally I am not mentioning the name of the 16 year old involved, because I am simply unlike the mainstream media not attacking someone who is innocent and legally not an adult.  Those so called reporters that did should be thoroughly ashamed.

Source CNN

You can understand why Donald Trump often refers to CNN as ‘fake news’.  How much faith in CNN and the mainstream media do 63 million Trump voters or 70 million US Catholics attack now have?

Over here perhaps the most egregious example of the media narrative at play in the past year has been in the treatment of Jordan Peterson.

His book 12 rules for life is a UK Amazon Best Seller.  Shows here were sold out and he is an internet sensation.  In short he is popular, very popular.

But his beliefs in traditional values sit outside the mainstream media narrative.

His interviews on BBCs Hardtalk, The Today Programme and famously on Channel 4 with Cathy Newman’s showed the worst the media has to offer.

They hectored him;

  • accused him of being angry, he was calm;
  • accused him of being sexist, no evidence was given;
  • accused him of saying things he has never said.

In the course of the interview Cathy Newman asked:

  • ‘What gives you the right to say that?’ – a question that shouldn’t be asked in a free country.
  • ‘I think I take issue with (that)’ – why is a journalist who role is to ask questions, taking issue, especially on a TV channel legally bound to be neutral?

He’s popular, very popular.  His is most popular with younger men and women who are struggling with fitting in.  Has the Mainstream media helped bring them in or deliberately pushed them out?

This is a media that won’t accept you if you don’t confirm to their views.  They try to ignore ideas outside their agenda and then if they can’t ignore the ideas, attack those that support them.  This alienates large portions of our society, often the majority, and undermines our democracy as we lack a common narrative of events.

I will finish by quoting Douglas Murray the Spectator columnist on the Cathy Newman interview.  This nicely summarises so much wrong with the media.

“If yesterday’s interview is anything to go by, all she has is attitudes. And lazy attitudes at that.

That isn’t news. It isn’t even interviewing. It is grandstanding.

This nation’s broadcasters should feel ashamed.”

Source The Spectator

Understanding the other: the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society

Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling writes in the Croydon Citizen about a local society and the need to be able to differ for the benefit of society.

“Debating societies are designed to test your skills in truly understanding a different view”

Full Article