The European Court of Human Rights intervened to stop the deportation flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda. The UK is a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.
We asked your views on: How should the government react to the ruling by the ECHR?
The intervention of the ECHR was based on previous Rwandan breaches of human rights. The government needs to improve the process so ‘refugees to Rwanda’ detainees are protected. Subsequently, this criticism should no longer be an obstacle to the scheme.
The UK government should take a steer from all stakeholders, especially the British people.
None of the critics of this scheme have offered suggestions for improvements or an alternative. It begs the question, how serious are they on brokering a solution to make refugee asylum applications fair for all?
I understand the principal behind ‘refugees to Rwanda’ is to put their asylum applications on an equal footing with other refugees who are applying from overseas, and even France. But the government should also be elevating the chances of overseas applicants to those of UK applicants.
I can see the current poor application process incentivises dissent with people who are already over here, having an appeal advantage which encourages people-trafficking. The fact that the lawyers grounding the flight were representing refugees already here, is a case in point.
Other nuances to the ‘refugees to Rwanda’ debate are as follows:
In my opinion, it’s good that the discussion centres around allocation of resources and logistics rather than whether or not we should offer sanctuary.
The people of the UK are in support of offering asylum to refugees.
The debate is over the process not the principal. This is because of our Judeo-Christian legacy.
The Good Samaritan put his hands into his pocket and rescued a victim of crime who was facing death. The victim happened to be a stranger from a hostile people group.
He paid for him to be looked after till he was back on his own two feet. So far as we read in the story, it is implied that the victim of crime accepted the help he was offered and was grateful that he was safe and healthy.
There’s an element of personal responsibility implied for both the Good Samaritan and the victim of crime.
In the Bible parable the initiative to help comes from the heart of the good Samaritan.
While I think it’s appropriate and right that the British people allocate resources from taxes to help refugees coming to Britain, I also think people should be left with capacity to lavish their financial resources (money or time) on the worthy causes God has put on their own hearts. Do the critics want us to pay more taxes so more money can be spent on supporting one state sanctioned worthy cause?
Whether it’s a refugee’s welcome group, Justin Welby or the Prince of Wales, that ‘someone’ in ‘someone should do something’ is you. If you really cared, you would offer of yourself. Go live in a shack and turn your capital into sponsorship, medical and legal aid to help failed asylum seekers. Don’t be like a whitewashed tomb. Practice what you preach.
In the past, my family made a personal sacrifice by offering accommodation to a refugee from Syria (via Lebanon). This dear person was not given appropriate help upon arrival to combat alcoholism (which no one appeared aware of) and sadly without this help upon arrival, their chances of successful integration in Britain were slim despite huge financial investment.
There’s so much more can be done to get the system working fairly and squarely.
From my perspective as an independent libertarian the matter of refugees and migrants is something that I’m often at odds with the mainstream about. In principle I am an advocate for free movement. I’d like the freedom and opportunity to relocate to anywhere in the world should I so wish. In principle I can hardly deny the same to others.
I’d much rather allow for more free movement hand-in-hand with eliminating expectations of being subsidised by the state – or should I say, by the taxpayer. There are many industrious and entrepreneurial migrants who would bring cultural richness and prosperity to the UK and it’s a pity if that should be curtailed by welfare state resources and other similar concerns. I’d like to see that migrants therefore have adequate medical insurance for their own needs. I’d like to see migrant sponsorship take a front seat through which those seeking residency here may be sponsored by someone who will take responsibility for their health and welfare and other needs rather than the taxpayer. Migration in this sense is a freedom of association issue more than a legal one, and in that sense ought to be none of the government’s business. The challenge comes with the practicalities, and the practicalities are made a mess of by too much state intervention and control in everyone’s lives.
Here in the UK the state insists on doing so much for us and to us. The welfare state with its benefits, state school, state housing and NHS can create just such a problem area. Where movement ought to be free, these finite services which we’re all coerced into paying for through taxation cannot be subject to infinite demand. Were NI payments actually ringfenced and treated as insurance for health treatments it would be a simpler thing to explain, but the hash various governments have made of that just adds to the mess. Migration becomes controlled to protect other things the state insists on controlling, however badly in either case.
Outlawing free movement, as with outlawing many things, simply creates a black market for less reputable people to make money from those desperate enough to attempt life threatening means to travel. It all adds up to a prime example of how so much government meddling requires even more government meddling to deal with its own consequences. Flights to Rwanda are just yet another example of the state trying to fix its own mess, making things messier by upping the stakes in a game of brinkmanship between government, black marketeers and desperate people. I think flying people to Rwanda is a terrible policy, there are better ways to deal with it, I’d rather hold people airside here, decide and then act. But I don’t think the UK is likely to improve its other policies any time soon, to mitigate the migrant effect or meddle less in our lives.
In all this I do believe each nation has the right and obligation to make its own laws regarding the entry of individuals within its borders. I’d like them to be freer as I have explained, but they are properly in the competence of each nation to decide. So, even though I think Priti Patel is an authoritarian with little regard for liberty and the correct role of government, as things stand I tend to reject the notion that the ECHR has anything to say on this.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding before us following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. The risk of a major military conflict is remote but real, and the situation on the ground continues to change. We asked our contributors how they think Putin’s aggression will impact politics and policies in the UK and what if any changes are needed?
As noted author, detective and volunteer firefighter Lemony Snicket once wrote, if everyone fought fire with fire, the whole world would go up in smoke. It is worth considering that quote in the context not merely of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, but also the actions of our own governments both leading up to and during the crisis.
First, I make no apologies for Vladimir Putin, whose unconscionable escalation to violence is but a less restrained expression of how he treats his own people. But neither do I think very highly of Volodymyr Zelenskyy or his government, who are not blameless in this conflict and deserve to be subjected to far more scrutiny than the present consensus permits. Truly, I do not care which group of corrupt, rights-abusing kleptocrats strut through Kyiv’s ministry buildings.
The people I care about, and for whose wellbeing I state my case are the innocent people caught up in this game of thrones, both Russian and Ukrainian alike. The people of Ukraine do not deserve to have their homes, their lives and even their children blown to bits by Russian missiles. That is obvious. But too little sympathy is being shared with citizens of Russia (and, it must be noted, the Russian-speaking people of Donbass), who are currently being severed from the outside world, worldly comforts denied, their whole lives and prospects rent asunder, and subject to the most outrageously fervent racism courtesy of the Tolerant and Inclusive. Whether Vladimir Putin brought that upon them or not, the fact is that it is “us” – our governments, Western media, Western corporations, who are doing it to them. It must stop.
Our leaders have no moral high ground from which to lob criticisms at Vladimir Putin. When the likes of Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden and Scott Morrison call him an enemy of freedom and democracy, who is it that Mr Putin sees? A bunch of blood-stained hypocrites. Who would take seriously these charlatans posing as respectable people, when they call for peace, unity, restraint and diplomacy? As if they hadn’t invaded nations on flimsy pretexts. As if they hadn’t murdered foreign civilians in pursuit of self-righteous conquest. As if they don’t turn those guns on their own civilians when convenient. As if they allow peaceful protest. As if they don’t collude to spread propaganda. As if they operate with a free press. As if they don’t fiddle with elections, both in their own countries and abroad. As if, begging your pardon, they hadn’t committed war crimes. As if Ukraine don’t also shell civilians, imprison political leaders, ban opposition parties, and entertain radical elements. As if they, the whole stinking lot of them, weren’t corrupt… so horribly, openly, intractably corrupt.
One cringes to see these self-appointed arbiters of moral virtue in charge of making the serious decisions affecting the lives of millions – possibly, even, billions, at least if the prospect of nuclear war has any legs to it. But they’re not serious people, and a serious response to Russia is unlikely to come in any good time before the damage – to both Russia and Ukraine, to the geopolitical situation as it pertains to China, and to the obvious self-harm we’re doing to our economy and, naturally, the poorest in our society – can be contained. A whole world up in smoke, ourselves included, with many lives lost or diminished, and for what? For the hypocrites to grandstand about the fire while they fan the flames.
A serious response involves recognizing that Russia is a legitimate nation with legitimate national interests, not merely a pariah state Soviet caricature led by the new Hitler, and then treating them as such. A serious response involves being an exemplar of the values of ‘freedom and democracy’ you claim to represent, rather than that now-cliched slogan being the war cry which precedes drone strikes, propaganda, and destroying the lives of innocent civilians.
The Ukraine situation is so confused that I am in no position to make confident predictions, but there are a number of possible outcomes which I hope will not materialise. In our rush to virtue signal, some voices among us have called for all manner of dangerous, unethical or self-destructive policies. Currently, the only victims of the war between Russia and the Ukraine are the unfortunate Russian and Ukrainian citizens who have been dragged into it. If some warmongers have their way, people everywhere will suffer.
To illustrate: the ban on Russian oil imports means British citizens are paying record prices for petrol and it is anticipated that energy bills could reach £3000 a year. This is a pointless act of national self-harm. Just when you think the EDL’s particular brand of bigotry is dying out, along comes Conservative MP Roger Gale to revive it, only this time it’s Russians instead of Muslims. Gale spoke on Talk Radio of the need to ‘send everyone home’, including the ‘good and honest and decent Russians in this country’. What possible moral grounds can there be for making thousands of innocent people victims of a war in which they have played no more part than any native British people? Let’s not get started on the toy-soldier enthusiasts who behave as if they think Britain really needs another raging war.
What do we really want to achieve and what do we think we’re fighting for? And who’s really to blame? Obviously, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine cannot be excused or justified, but the pantomime portrayal of the situation in which the Ukraine is a damsel in distress, the West her Prince Charming and Russia the evil stepmother must not persist. Through the expansion of NATO, the West has gone against the advice of its own diplomats and terms it had agreed with Russia, and in doing so provoked Russian aggression. Nor is the Ukraine blameless; when it was formed, it absorbed many people who considered themselves Russian. By implementing a series of anti-Russian policies, the Ukraine hastened the breakdown of its relationship with its neighbour. And if anyone thinks Putin has always been the bad man for his oppression of opposition media, they might be surprised to find that Zelensky has the very same blots on his escutcheon.
The majority of people will not know these things because the propaganda drive is well underway. Truths which do not conform to the narrative are suppressed and shouted-down. Doublethink is rife: apparently we are supposed to believe that Russian soldiers are inhuman devils, while simultaneously understanding that they have no wish to be in Ukraine and are fighting against their will. Russia Today may not be a reliable source of news, but its censorship deprives us of something vital: a different perspective.
Anyone might be forgiven for thinking we are not actually supposed to understand the situation. After all, how can anyone believe our Western leaders are sincere in shouting ‘Freedom!’ when they have spent the past two years depriving their citizens of their most basic and important rights and liberties? Whether it’s Russia or the Ukraine and the West which emerge the victor in this little skirmish is really an academic matter. The practical reality is that the arrogant, corrupt and unaccountable politicians who have created this situation will survive it unscathed, while ordinary citizens pay the price, whether it be with their wallets, their rights or their lives.
What we should be doing is making every effort to maintain peaceful relations with Russia while encouraging its withdrawal from the Ukraine by diplomatic means (which may require encouraging the Ukraine to rethink some of its longstanding anti-Russian policies). It is not our war and aggression will only hurt us all.
I am not a war expert and talk only of what I have seen and read. I hate war and my heart breaks at the thought of people, especially children are being killed for no real reason other than a bully who wants to.
So, Putin the aggressor, moved his troops into Ukraine to take what he wants. Where does this stop and who will be next if he wins the Ukraine battle. When Putin took Crimea, the west did very little to stop him, he flexed his muscles and tested how the land lies. This is not WW3, but it could be, if anyone from the West bowed to calls for a no-fly zone. This stance must remain and Boris at present is handling everything well. I believe that the young people of Russia need to protest on a mass scale to get Putin out. I think the young people in Russia want peace and do not wish to kill their neighbours, who are family and friends. I don’t believe Putin is not mad, but he is a bully that needs to be stopped.
It’s amazing how quick Europe got so heavily dependent on Russia’s Gas and oil, some Countries with 100% dependency and the likes of Germany at 40%. Billions are being frozen all around the world from Russia and Russian bank accounts and assets. Yet Europe and even the UK are handing Russia Billions for their oil/gas while handing Millions to the Ukraine in aid. How perverse is this?
We as a country are supporting the Ukraine and must continue to do so. Aid, arms, finance and other needs the country may have. The need to help Ukrainian’s women and children to enter UK must be done in a humane and measured way. Records must be kept of Visa applications of who is coming into the country and make sure this is a temporary measure until its safe for them to return to their homeland. Now I understand that Priti Patel is allowing Ukraine’s to apply for Visa’s online which will speed up the process, if they have passports.
Going forward the UK needs to look at how we survive in the future. We are an Island nation dependant on so many countries to feed us, manufacture all our home devices, white goods and utilities. We need to get back to our industrial age although being greener in how we do that. We need to get back to farming on a big scale to feed ourselves. We need to do that before we build on all our farms and green spaces with housing.
What this war in Ukraine and the Covid 19 pandemic has shown us in the last two years is how our freedoms were swept away by Parliament who all agreed a covid law. We as citizens are constantly being pitted against one another in all sorts of issues. While Parliament has all morphed into socialists and against most of the people. It has shown us how governments can shut off all our bank accounts, food can be stopped from entering the country and they can turn off our utilities at the touch of a button. The UK Government need to nationalise our utilities and stop foreign companies from controlling them. Food, heat and water are not nice to have, they are essentials to live and must be protected. If we were to ever be attacked so much could be held from as with food, power and other necessities.
The government must reflect on these issues and introduce policies that will ensure these essentials needs for its nation. Our freedoms in a democracy must be upheld and not changed to suit parliament and everyone from other countries. Anyone entitled to live in this country should not expect to change or alter our freedoms or our way of life. Our governments preach all around the world about our democracy but are in fact moving away from what they preach. We as a diverse nation must stop these changes and stick together through the ballot box. Parliament with all its parties have been against the majority of the people in this country for a number of years now. We need to pull together as a nation to change the whole rotten system.
Do we really think these sanctions will make any meaningful difference to this war? Are we so naive to think that the Kremlin didn’t anticipate them beforehand?
So why do our politicians do it? Is it really to help the Ukrainians as they claim? Some of them are probably foolish enough to think so. But for the more senior figures with broader considerations, such as the Prime Minister, it isn’t.
The obvious truth is that the only way we can really help a country under attack from a larger army, would be for Challenger tanks, RAF jets and infantry regiments to join the fight and destroy the invading forces.
But another obvious truth is that military intervention of this kind would undoubtedly lead to far greater harm to human life, rather than less, and potentially without limit.
Our economic intervention on the other hand, like a great majority of government decisions, is to defend the integrity of the government in the court of public opinion, as they hastily judge it, and defend its future electability.
Rightly, millions of people demand justice for what has happened, I’m one of them, and hopefully one day when the conflict is over the Ukrainian people will get it.
But politicians, especially of the calibre that we have today with neither courage or conviction, are ultra-sensitive to their vulnerability in this regard and are desperate to signal otherwise. And in that desperation often comes ill-considered and utterly unprincipled action that does more harm than good.
This economic virtue signalling at the expense of innocent people in Russia does absolutely no good at all and needs to stop.
We are joined by Harley Dalton, the new steward of the Independents for Liberty group, as we discuss Freedom Day 2.0 and the impact of the Sue Gray Report into Partygate. We then chat with Harley about his political journey and his ambitions for the Independents for Liberty.
The earth centric view of the universe is back! Not quite abandoning Copernicus and Gallileo, but getting there. The belief that climate change is man-made in spite of repeated bad predictions and a relatively tiny window of observation is in my view the equivalent of being a flat-earther – because the horizon looks flat from here. How convenient that this worldview becomes the excuse to give more money and power to those who like having money and power – I’m sure there’s no connection.
Is global warming a threat?
It’s important to separate the notion of ‘global warming’ (now more expediently called ‘climate change’ for lots of inconvenient reasons) from the notion of anthropogenic, or manmade, climate change. They are not the same thing, yet the obfuscation and equivocation around the differences has only served to muddy the waters of the debate. The difference between ‘climate change’ and ‘man made climate change’ is fundamental to what happens next. If ‘climate change’ is ‘man made’ then it stands to reason that it can be ‘man un-made’ by changing our behaviours accordingly. This is the explanation those in power are pushing onto us and, no surprise, their proposed solution is to give them even more power and money to control our lives. Once they get a bit of power there is just no stopping them. However, if ‘climate change’ is not ‘man made’, but part of a natural cycle – something many scientists believe – then none of the great power grab and associated loss of liberty is necessary, and Net Zero is a complete non-requirement. There’s a lot of power and money hanging on the difference between ‘man made’ and ‘not man made’ – the effect of that on the motives, biases and actions of those seeking power is worth thinking about.
In my opinion the arguments in favour of the ‘natural cycle’ causes of changes to climate are more convincing. This doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done, it means those things which are to be done are very different things. Pursuing Carbon Zero becomes pointless, indeed it would be detrimental to what needs to be done. And penalising people for being productive, warm, and free is also pointless. Instead efforts should be directed toward living with the changes to climate, rather than futile King Canute style attempts to command the tide to turn back.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
A referendum on ‘Global Warming’ or ‘Climate Change’ feels a bit like voting to decide whether the world is flat – it makes no difference to reality, but having decided everyone will accept policy which imagines the world the way they voted. Of course it comes down to the precise questions asked in a referendum, but sadly I think most would decide on balance that the world is ‘flat’ and a referendum would simply be an exercise in validating the direction the ‘powers that be’ wish us to travel. We’ve been relentlessly fed just one narrative – that climate change is caused by human activity and can be stopped by changing human activity. I do not believe either statement is the whole truth and great damage to communities, families and individuals will occur when false policies are pursued which erode liberty, economic freedom, and increase central planning and control in pursuit of something that will ultimately fail to deliver.
Viewing the possibility of a referendum more optimistically, a referendum could provide the space to present the truth about climate change more openly and freely. To have that opportunity to present the facts which are ignored by the MSM and politicians, but which are material to the case, is essential. If a referendum is the way to do it, then let’s do it. I’m sure the ‘fact checkers’ (censors) will be out in force, along with cranks real and planted, so it will be a war of words to be sure. But a necessary one I feel, if we are to have any chance of keeping the door open to freedom. We can’t let the climate ‘flat earthers’ get their way without a fight.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
None of this is a reason to not care for the planet, and look after the environment for ourselves and future generations, but it makes a huge difference to where we direct our attention. Effort should be directed toward living with the inevitable and unstoppable changes to climate – be that better river management, better forest management, better agriculture and food production, better water management, better guidance on where and how to build, for instance. All of which can be more easily and effectively solved through the collective ingenuity of the free market providing effective and cheap solutions to all these problems. This seems obvious to me on two fronts. First, because I find the ‘natural cycle’ arguments more convincing, and second, because even if I didn’t the reality is that the efforts of the UK to achieve Carbon Zero are not being matched by the biggest carbon producers at all. This means whatever we do to reduce Carbon in the UK will make no material difference to the global outcome. To pursue Zero Carbon on those terms would be a self-destructive act of futility. We’d trash our economy, cut great swathes through individual liberty, and achieve nothing – nothing except giving power and money to people who want more power and money. Whichever way you look at it, whether you agree with me about the natural cycle or not, the only logical approach the UK could take is one of preparation, and mitigation of effects. The most destructive part of pushing the man-made climate change argument is that we will find we were wrong, and having failed to both prevent change and to prepare for it, the impact on people will be devastating. We can either learn to live with change, or reap the consequences of not preparing. Nothing the UK does can prevent change.
Yes, I believe that global warming is real and that the data shows this to be the case. Man-made global warming is a reality that we have to deal with, the physical evidence has been quite clear in the last decade or so, ignoring this problem will soon be impossible as every year it comes closer to our doorstep.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
No, I think it’s a bad road to go down to have a referendum on economic affairs. I disagree with the need for Net Zero targets to be enforced by law as demand is shifting away from these types of industries anyway. International pressure on Russia, China and India would be better overall as the UK’s output pales into insignificance when compared to these nations. A “buy clean” policy in which the state promotes local manufacturing that is environmentally friendly as a direct competition to imported goods that have a heavy carbon footprint would be a vastly superior way of tackling this issue globally.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
Unfortunately, except for small scale, individual consumption changes, there is not much more the average person can do, we are really at the whims of foreign powers who are refusing to change with any kind of expedience, not to mention the fact that it is of benefit to many of these countries that global warming continues (Russia becomes more and more arable every year as the temperature changes). What we need is more resolute political action to stand up to these powers regardless of what they are capable of, if you are on the right side, should you not fight for that position?
The simple answer would be yes. What I would like to see is all the alarmism and hysteria stop. The debate has not really been held by the scientists on both sides of the arguments. These people need to debate in a civilised way. How we grow our food, how we build homes, plan our communities in everything we do. We should not be pushed into unrealistic targets.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
Following the evidence from a debate with scientists on both sides of the argument. People would be better informed and would be able to make better choices. So yes, I do think we should have a referendum. What in the whole scheme of things, does Net Zero mean? The plans of the government will harm the poorest in our country. We cannot leave the poorest people without heat for their homes. We need to build more nuclear plants. While the hypocrisy of leaders from around the world fly in to COP26 and pollute the hell out of us all and tell us all not to fly.
Will Net Zero targets in the UK stop climate change alone, no it won’t. Without the co-operation of all countries, especially of the 10 most polluting countries per capita according to the UN report, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Canada, USA, Germany, China, Spain, France & Thailand. We cannot stop any emergency alone, but we can chose how we deal with it going forward.
If a referendum was called for, the question should not be ‘Net Zero’ yes or no. It needs to be ‘Net Zero’ or move as a country at a slower pace but with climate incorporated in everything we do.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
We need to become more self-sufficient in this country. We need to stop importing on a mass scale. We need to move at a reasonable pace to change and replace our energy sources. We need to stop importing cheap goods and plastic goods. We use to build quality products in this country. Now we just have a cheap throwaway society. Reduce millions of truck movements to and from Europe. Those goods we do need to import should be transported via freight trains, to cut down on pollution, traffic jams and carbon footprint. Our infrastructure needs a lot more investments but needs to stop building high end homes on a large swaths of farming and green field land. Investment is needed in our sciences, technology, innovators and engineering. To look at how we can get even more inventive in how we can use our waste to recycle and replace for the future. We need to discover more efficient types of energy that are cheap to run.
If we look after the planet, the planet will look after us.
This is the third set of your responses, further responses can be found from Part 1 and Part 4.
Independents for Liberty held their 2021 Annual Conference, ‘Restoring Liberty, Rebuilding A Free Country’, on Saturday, 25th September.
They are an association of pro-liberty individuals and influencers aiming to restore liberty and rebuild a free country.
Their mission as individual associates of Independents for Liberty is to make the case for freedom, promote political activism that supports your liberty and grow sustainable economies that enhances long-term freedom.
Michael Swadling of Croydon Constitutionalists shares tried and tested campaign strategies every independent libertarian candidate should be using for their local election campaigns.
On Council run events: “…why should the taxpayer be forced to subsidise my weekend?”
“All councils have to publish a report of everything they spend that’s over £500 …what’s really useful is identifying the budgets that have more controversial items …the payments councillors can award themselves…”
“We had a petition to make sure no one is paid more than the Prime Minister in the Borough. …to say no one in the Town Hall is doing a more important job than the Prime Minister. …you can start to call out some of those.”
“‘As poor as a Council Executive’ is not a common phrase people will hear.”
Christopher Wilkinson opens the first annual Independents for Liberty conference by outlining how the association will help rebuild a free country:
Harry Fone, Grassroots Campaign Manager for the Tax Payers’ Alliance, tells what we can expect from the Tax and NI increases, Government and Council waste, and highlights important points for independent libertarian candidates to campaign on:
Gareth Seward, speaking at the 2021 Independents for Liberty conference, explains the coming consequences of government economic policy. An essential primer for understanding current events.
Christopher Wilkinson is an independent libertarian-minded candidate proposing to stand for the Lichfield City North division in the 2021 Staffordshire County Council election and the Stowe ward by-election for Lichfield City Council. Chris also runs a group called the Independent Libertarians and has a podcast, the Libertarian Listener, which both Mike and Dan have appeared on. We spoke with Chris on our Podcast back in October and have caught up with him on his upcoming campaigns.
Chris you’ve run before and are taking part in two election campaigns in May. What’s prompted you to take on these challenges and what are the differences between the two races?
These elections are especially important since they’re the first since COVID-19, and they look set to be a virtual referendum on how the main parties have responded to the issue. Over the past year we’ve seen our civil liberties and freedom severely restricted, the economic strength of the nation destroyed, and reactionary government policies encroaching into every aspect of our daily lives – unprecedented and immoral, especially for peacetime. Perhaps worst of all has been this focus on the ‘common good’ – the rotten, Soviet-style idea that we’ve all got the same interests, same needs, and same ambitions as everyone else and that we’re willing to sacrifice our own job, income, business, mental health and physical wellbeing for the sake of the lowest common denominator in the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. That philosophy is so against the grain of human progress, prosperity and self-fulfilment that it has never worked in any historical example, and my attempt in this election will be to attempt to drag politics back to reality. As there are very few people in the area willing to stand for office, the onus is upon those with a passion to provide change to make it happen hence why I’m standing in both elections. The main difference will be the area covered; the City by-election is being run in my own ward of Stowe, and the County election covers Stowe with two adjacent wards; Chadsmead and Curborough. One benefit of this approach is that a wider number of people get to hear a pro-liberty message, which may in turn inspire them to get more involved in local politics and help fight for local people in future elections. There will be other differences, particularly with the scale of the issues varying between local and regional level, and the amount of walking involved when delivering the leaflets!
Stowe is currently represented by Labour and Conservative in a Conservative city. How do you think they will be better represented by an independent and what do you think are the big issues in Stowe?
I think people are rightly put off by party politics after what they’ve seen over the last twelve months, and so standing as an independent that can put local people’s interests first and assess local issues objectively instead of focusing on party ideology and dogma would make for a far better representative in any area. Political events over the past five years have been very polarising and the key advantage of being an independent candidate is that I’m able to find common ground between people who would otherwise stand apart. In the Stowe area, the most major concerns among residents are the transition back to normality and restarting the economy. The city’s age demographic is slanted more towards the older generations who rightly have concerns over feeling safe going outside again and being in busy areas. I want them to enjoy their lives as best as possible, so it’s critical that elected representatives give truthful information regarding COVID-19 instead of merely relaying the government’s fearmongering and skewed macro-level statistics. Lichfield also has a highly skilled managerial workforce and as such has generally lower-than-average levels of unemployment coupled with a city centre in economic decline – to see unemployment levels rise and businesses in the city centre shut their doors for the final time, especially pubs and ‘non-essential’ shops, therefore represents a significant worry for both residents and visitors. I’ve been speaking with several local businesses and organisations as to how we can bring more people into the city centre and my manifesto will reflect the consultation I’ve had.
Following the failure of Friarsgate, the city now has a ‘Masterplan’. What are your thoughts on what went wrong with Friarsgate and what do you think of the new plan?
Friarsgate was a £54 million shopping development first proposed by the Conservatives in the 1999 local elections that was still in development nearly twenty years later. To put the scale of finance in context, it would have been the equivalent of five years of budget spending by Lichfield District Council in today’s terms. The scheme couldn’t attractive private finance and the council, quite rightly, were not willing to meet the extra cost on behalf of taxpayers. However, demolition work on the proposed site had already begun – a few businesses, including a profitable Ford car dealership, were consequently evicted. The site today is a wasteland obscured by hoardings covered in local government advertising for the city which cost more than £20,000 at the taxpayer’s expense. It went wrong both at a council level and in terms of the economy generally. Referring to the phased strategy and planning permission needed for the Lichfield Masterplan, District Councillor Little was reported in a Lichfield Live article on 7 October 2020 as saying ‘…we need the support from commercial and legal experts to aid us in that process as we haven’t got that expertise within the council to ensure proper governance’ – an admission, if ever one was becoming of the council, that incompetence within the local authority was partly to blame for the downfall of Friarsgate. The truth is there’s very little demand for large commercial infrastructure, especially in a city such as Lichfield, and that restrictions within the COVID-ravaged economy will come to haunt such developments for years to come. The retail sector has been in structural decline for a long time not least due to the growth of online shopping and increasing business rates levied by councils all over the country. The design of Friarsgate was very metropolitan and certainly wouldn’t have suited the quaint character of a cathedral city such as Lichfield. From my research speaking to business owners in the city centre, the main draw factor to Lichfield appears to be its picturesque setting, traditional architecture and unique old-world shopping experience. The council’s economic policies should be reorientated more towards preserving and enhancing Lichfield’s history and heritage as opposed to trying to turn the city into replicas of nearby places such as Tamworth or Burntwood. Lots of smaller niche shops would be more advantageous for local people and visitors than a sprawl of chain stores; Fine & Vintage, a small independent retailer, is an excellent example of what I think Lichfield ought to aim for. At present, the Masterplan does not encapsulate all these crucial factors that will make the difference between the proposal being a success or failure, and so reform and review – not speed and spending – would be the most appropriate way to go about this project.
Lichfield was once a semi-rural small historical city with many people saying they’ve moved to live here for its quiet, idyllic setting. The growth in housing in the area over recent years has been unacceptable and has eroded that traditional image of the city. It’s also important to bear in mind why the growth of housing has occurred. The council has adopted a Local Plan and numerous neighbourhood plans to improve certain aspects of the city that are being rolled out over many years. Overlaying that are the central government’s own house building plans. The issue here in Lichfield, however, is that the supply of housing is already above trend as was revealed by District Councillor Tax last October. The government must reconsider its housing targets for this area as central planning does not consider our specific requirements and, if elected, this is something I will pursue with determination. An oversupply of housing is never desirable since bricks and mortar have been a key driver of the British economy over the past twenty years – if that hidden wealth falls due to a lack of demand, we’ll all be paying an extra price in either higher taxes or lower public spending as councils and the government try to stabilise their budgets. Eerily, a similar phenomenon has already occurred with industrial space located south of Lichfield Trent Valley Railway station and the recently constructed Imperial Retail Park took two full years to reach full occupancy. Financial and material resources would be more effective elsewhere at this time. In terms of gender-neutral language, my preference is very clear – if I wished to be referred to as ‘chairman’ or ‘chairwoman’ or ‘chairperson’, I’d hope to be referred to as chairman, chairwoman or chairperson respectively. It’s a matter of personal preference that certainly shouldn’t be enforced to delegitimise natural gender values. There is nothing wrong with being a man or a woman, and our language should reflect that by reinforcing who we are as individuals. It’s hardly a headline issue, and there are bigger fish to fry what with the state of our potholed roads, cracked pavements and empty grit bins! Above all, the issue of the environment is very high on the agenda. Currently there are plans for housing developments at Nether Stowe and Leyfields on urban green space plus the construction of a filter lane cutting through part of the Festival Gardens – I strongly oppose all these projects and will do my best if elected to bring about more suitable alternatives.
You are also planning to run in the Lichfield City North division for Staffordshire County Council. Tell us about the area and what you hope to do for it. What would you like to see change at the council?
I believe in representative local democracy. As such, I hope to act on the priorities of local people as expressed through the survey I’ve issued to them which will be used to create a manifesto that truly represents the people whilst forging consensus on which we can build for the future. We’ve got to meet the challenges posed by remote working, education beyond the classroom and healthcare beyond the hospitals. I also aim to be a pro-business representative. One key consideration is a proposal to extend the Cross-City railway line towards Derby to alleviate road traffic on the A38, increase visitors and tourists from the East Midlands, and to make work at Fradley Park more accessible for those who don’t own a car. More can be done in terms of technical support to make the most of the shift from the physical to the digital economy by assisting small independent businesses to sell their products online, plus helping promote our unique Cathedral. Future housing developments must include supporting infrastructure such as shops, gyms, parks and public services to encourage the growth of the community and foster social cohesion. We’ve got the adapt quickly to the new needs of the economy by installing fast broadband in offices and cafes, adopting a more flexible approach to Business Improvement District investment that ensures no business becomes burdened with charges beyond its means, and keeping business rates and parking charges low to facilitate higher footfall. There must be an attitudinal change at the County council level about how to conduct local government – there are consultations being run with the same low response rates time after time, a lack of accessible representation and too much authority being held at the top instead of being devolved to local councils. Councillors must realise that there is no one single way of accomplishing something; what’s good for one area may not necessarily be good for another. I think there has to be a greater consideration for the externalities of decision-making particularly regarding the difference between policy on paper and policy in action; the notion that the ends do not justify the means. To use the local housing developments as an example, it might be desirable for those moving in having a home of their own and the boost to the local economy arising from that, but those who already live there are losing green space where their children may play, the local roads will be more congested and dangerous as a result of more vehicles lining the streets, and air and noise pollution will be worse.
As we move out of the lockdown, what would you like to see done on the road to recovery both locally and nationally?
I’d like to see a redefinition of the relationship between state and citizen because, as we’ve seen in the past year, the state has assumed the position of the master and the citizen has become its servant. Now we’re hopefully coming out of one of the worst periods in modern socioeconomic history, I’d like to see a fundamental challenge to the traditional authoritarian approach of statist government in favour of a libertarian approach that values the freedom, autonomy and natural rights of the individual with an emphasis on sovereignty, personal choice, free speech and expression, family values and the rule of law. I believe this a philosophy that can be expanded at both a local and national level, and I will work with unremitting energy – whether holding public office or not – to see it come to fruition.
If people would like to know more or get involved, how do they get in touch?
Did Brexit get done? Time will tell, first impressions suggest it’s not perfect but could be called done.
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? To shrink government interference and regulation in individual lives, leading to economic prosperity and greater individual freedom. I hope we will find a way to make CANZUK happen, or something like it, without giving up sovereignty.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? A written constitution and bill of rights which reduces the power of the state, protects individual rights, reduces the tendency of democracy to become mob rule, and makes government more local and accountable.
What do you think is next for the EU? Continued slide to greater technocracy, more regulation, further loss of voice and liberty for individual citizens, expansionist outlook seeking to control more territory.
Did Brexit get done? Yes at the end of the day we have taken back control of our laws, borders and money, though it is a worry that for some reason the UK/EU Trade Deal did not include 80% of our trade with the EU – financial services. One can only hope there is a good reason for this – but it is vital and a big concern. We inevitably had to make some concessions but even with the fish we will have virtual total control in five and a half years. As our economy booms, politically and practically I believe , the EU will not be able to hold us back by increasing tariffs. Even “ Rejoiners” will become “ Rejoicers” as they see the real value of UK sovereignty, freedom to do our own trade deals and controlling our population numbers to better plan future infrastructure – hospitals, school, transport etc and keep us safe from terrorist attacks.
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? It is not a perfect deal but with the return of sovereignty and democracy we are now in a position to make our own trade deals and boom as an independent entrepreneurial trading nation, outside of the declining undemocratic EU. Already we have made over 60 worldwide trade deals and we have carried out more vaccine injections that the whole of the EU put together. The EU will continue to decline and despite safeguards on tariffs that they have built in, they won’t be able to prevent the UK from booming. This will set an example to other EU sceptic member countries and they will be looking for the exit door too. Especially with the Franco/German push even further towards an EU super state that further diminishes local democracy and accountability.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? Most urgent is Westminster and the role of the Speaker – so clearly not fit for purpose and so abused by Remainer Bercow during the Brexit process. Plus MPs must deliver on the Manifestos on which they were elected – not just choose their own personal approach, and ignoring the wishes of the majority of their constituents when they get to the House. Next important is reforming. reducing , possibly abolishing, the ridiculously huge , undemocratic House of Lords. Finally, new rules on the Honours system to stop cronyism and abuse. You don’t get an honour for just doing your job – e.g. an Ambassador.
What do you think is next for the EU? Very interesting and difficult to predict with Merkel and Macron not likely to be around by the end of the year. With the UK gone the Franco/German axis will try to dominate EU policy. If the UK does well and horrendous EU youth unemployment continues then some of the newer Eastern European members may look for an out or major reform.
Did Brexit get done? Yes, Brexit got done, and better than I had expected. Removing the ECJ from the equation was vital. What is now important is to move on and make the most of it. We have already wasted far too much time bickering.
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? I would start with replacing the Common Agricultural Policy by supporting our farmers to use the land in a more environmentally friendly and productive way. This was the most controversial policy when we joined and one which for me, who voted to stay in in 1975, found the most egregious. Reform was promised because it was so disadvantageous to the UK but it came very slowly indeed because it had been designed as a mechanism to subsidise French farmers. That failure was one of the things that changed my mind about the EU.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? A big problem is local government. That’s something that seems to work better in some other countries. Local people understand better than here which politician is responsible for delivering what and vote accordingly. In the UK the vast majority do not and as a consequence vote on national issues. That is in my opinion a major contributor to the mess that Labour has got us into in Croydon. No matter how incompetent Croydon Labour were and how we as an opposition pointed it out, Tony Newman just blamed central government. Too many voters believed him.
What do you think is next for the EU? I hope they do well but the signs are not good. They are refusing to learn the lessons of Brexit. Their solution to failure is always more EU. Criticism of that line is also very muted. The BBC isn’t the only national broadcaster that follows the EU-can-do-no-wrong line.
Did Brexit get done? Yes, sort of. I think time had come to be pragmatic and move on. Despite the Labour party grudgingly voting for the deal, they are clearly positioning themselves to “improve” the deal which in their terms means weaken it and a Labour government would end in BRINO. The government need to prove the benefits before the 2024 election as we may find much of the good work undone. Leavers should learn the lesson of 2016 in that rather than celebrating the referendum result and taking our foot of the gas we needed to close it out. This isn’t the end of the matter.
How do you think the UK will use its new found freedom? This is an area where the current government and I part ways. They are classic neo liberals and will look to turn us into a global buyer of cheap goods whereas the strategy I favour is to rebuild our industries and positively favour UK produced goods and services, we need to put the needs of our own people first.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? As a Social Democrat this is a big issue for us. The Brexit debacle proved that MPs, in this case remain leaning MPs, were not to be trusted and voted against the wishes of their voters, that cannot happen again. We would introduce proportional representation and abolish the House of Lords whilst we were at it. A personal beef of mine is that if MPs choose to swap parties mid-term then they should be asked to stand at a by-election. Whilst all of the switchers were punished in the 2019 election we had to put up with them for the previous 3 years.
What do you think is next for the EU? Tough to say, I don’t see anything happening quickly but the lack of British money and our steadying influence the differences between North, South and Eastern Europe will become more apparent. I really feel for those countries in the Euro as they are well and truly stuffed, our escape was made easier by not having to worry about currency. Watch youth unemployment in Southern Europe, that can no longer be exported to the UK.
We are joined by Chris Wilkinson, the host of The Libertarian Listener podcast, as we discuss the EU Trade Talks, the Covid Tiers, the latest assault on free speech and developments on Croydon Council. We then chat with Chris about his experiences in politics, The Libertarian Listener podcast and his future plans.
We are joined by Dan Liddicott, the former Chairman of the Libertarian Party UK, as we discuss the wearing of facemasks in pubs and other Covid restrictions, Croydon Council’s Emergency Budget and 2 new political parties. We then chat with Dan about his resignation from the Libertarian Party and his new initiative: Independent Libertarians.