Across the North Sea, the Kingdom of Norway with it’s Scandinavian welfare state and history of Vikings is not the first place you associate with libertarians. However the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties does have a representative from the land of the fjords. The Capitalist Party (Liberalistene) (Wikipedia), advocates for a minimal state and free market economics. We speak with Deputy Chair Political, Roald Ribe about the party.
Roald thank-you for your time.
Could you tell our readers about your party?
A huge mix of value-liberal, classical liberal, libertarian, minarchist, anarchist, laissez-faire, individualism oriented capitalists. Common ground is typically no rulers, less government, less laws and regulations, less tax, less bureaucracy, less politicians and so on. Unyielding on principles, on property rights and self-ownership, but flexible on speed of implementation. It will take time to provide enough people with enough knowledge to let them realize that they want anything to change, or to recognize the fact that a better society could and can exist. Our political programs are evolving significantly over time (7 years so far) to reflect that fact, and to try to factor some acceptance of the Overton Window into them and the general communication with potential members and voters. Our name in Norway is Liberalistene. In English the name is Capitalist Party. Where Laissez-faire is implicit in the name.
“Getting representation for a classical liberal ideological base into the public view, always insisting on less state, less taxes, less power to politicians and bureaucrats, gets our membership (and me) excited”
What are main issues in Norway you campaign on, what gets Libertarians excided?
We have distinct political programs covering most issues on three political levels (all) in Norway. Three levels seems a bit much for just over 5 million people, so we will try to merge the two lower into a local level, and the other a national level like today. As a start. All the “established” parties in Norway, those who are represented in parliament most of the time, seem to agree that there is no maximum size for the state in the economy. Creating a heard voice, a rallying point, recognised representatives of the opposite view, is task number one. Getting representation for a classical liberal ideological base into the public view, always insisting on less state, less taxes, less power to politicians and bureaucrats, gets our membership (and me) excited.
Your country has stayed out of the EU, but what’s your parties view of the EU and the Euro?
The population in Norway has voted against joining the EU twice. Political representatives in parliament still slipped Norway in, through the small back door named the EFTA, with no asking the population again first. Probably because they expected that the answer would be the same as for the EU. So, we are part of the EU, but “only” through the EFTA. There is a majority for it in Norway it seems (EFTA), because voters have bought the political dogma that Norway “needs” such a deal to sell oil, gas, fish, electrical power and other unrefined and raw materials into the EU area or other parts of the world. It will not take much free market knowledge to realize that this is an outright lie. So, we are in the EU, but with no influence. Our party would strongly prefer for Norway to be out of that situation.
Different countries campaign in elections in different ways, what methods does your party focus on, and do you have any interesting stories from the campaign trail?
Our next national election for parliament is in this year, 2021. So we are in the middle of preparing for it now. The formal election campaign lasts from 10. August till the election day 13. September. Most significant boost in this election campaign is that a former Minister and MP with 20 years of experience in parliament, has joined our party. Mr Per Sandberg used to be Deputy Chair of the Progress Party, but has now upgraded himself 😊 to the top election candidate for Liberalistene in the Oslo and Finnmark election districts. This has not gone unnoticed in the media, and through his activities combined with our steadily increasing experience with media handling and election processes and campaigns, we get a lot more attention and traction in the media than we have been used to this far.
In addition to the constant hard work leading up to being taken seriously enough to be joined by an established political figure, campaigning is done in various physical forms. Branded stands in streets where we have enough active people to swing it. Talking to people, distributing brochures. In some less urban areas we are getting a lot of brochures distributed straight into mailboxes by single activists. We try to write opinion pieces for different news media, and we are getting better at it. With a couple of pre-qualified celebrities in our ranks, it is getting somewhat easier to get the party included in the media.
At this point in time we do not have the capacity to make a trail of it. In the locations where we have enough active personnel, they organise their own plans and activities in their area, basing the plan on their own assessment of when, how and what kind of effort can be realized by them, and what they think will be most effective there. The central / national organization is mostly a service and materials provider, making brochures and flyers available, ordering tents, flags and other materials in ways that makes it affordable and available for as many as possible.
“It will be interesting to see what kind of trade relations the UK develops with the world going forward by itself outside of the EU. If the UK is successful with that work, as I expect it to be, it may undermine the solid political EFTA support in Norway, which would be perceived as a good thing by our party”
Do you have any views on UK politics you can share?
I think your country did well to finally get the Brexit process into motion, but I expect that the usual suspects will drag their feet and silently sabotage it as much as possible. It is nice to observe that some of your political figures seem to wise up a bit on lockdown policies. It is about (bleeping) time… It will be interesting to see what kind of trade relations the UK develops with the world going forward by itself outside of the EU. If the UK is successful with that work, as I expect it to be, it may undermine the solid political EFTA support in Norway, which would be perceived as a good thing by our party. We hope our countries will continue to uphold the traditionally good relations between them, and continue to work for the best possible conditions for cooperation between the two populations, including as much free trade as possible.
If you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?
A law securing absolute property rights, protecting all possible value from coerced confiscation, especially from the government.
A new law securing negative rights only for individuals exclusively, abolishing any and all privileges given in law to any individual or group.
A new law to require that at least two old laws must be removed for new or changed to be introduced.
“Governments have lost their last marbles if it ever had any, and are flushing down the economic future of many in a hole full of dirty, irrational, fear mongering. The only way to counter this is to provide more individual freedom and economic freedom for business”
Lastly how do you think your government is handling the Covid-19 crisis, and what would you like to done to help the economic recovery?
Lockdown is a travesty against citizens, especially those in the low income bracket. The only rational strategy out there seems to be The Great Barrington Declaration. Governments have lost their last marbles if it ever had any, and are flushing down the economic future of many in a hole full of dirty, irrational, fear mongering. The only way to counter this is to provide more individual freedom and economic freedom for business. Failure to do so should eventually be punished by quite a few voters. In that path, where we expect more voters to arrive eventually, is where libertarian efforts should loudly position themselves. But remember, voters go where they believe is right, not where you think they should. We must make it our business to find the points where those two often differing views coincide with each other, well in advance of voters arriving there.
The Hampshire Independents are a political party that seeks to tailor efforts towards the specific needs of individual Hampshire communities. The party does not have a top down manifesto, instead it has a number of principles and members focus on what they believe is right for their area.
We speak with Scott Neville a party founder and the Nominating Officer. Scott campaigned for both the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the EU referendum in 2016 believing that it’s never wrong to ask the electorate. He is very keen to promote a low tax environment which makes it easy to do business while supporting and encouraging business to do social good.
Scott thanks for your time.
Can you tell us about your political background and what led to the setting up of the Hampshire Independents?
Sure. I have been interested in politics for a long time. When I was younger I considered myself to be a Conservative, but that was about 20 years ago. I would have thought myself a bit of a traditionalist, and I have long thought that people should be as self-reliant as possible. If most people can look after themselves without help, it makes it easier to help those who are unable to. As I got older my views shifted somewhat and today I would sit somewhere between a classical liberal and a libertarian. I have become very socially liberal, and would have no problems with things like three person marriages, and no problem with transgenderism (I honestly don’t see the point of even recording gender on most official documents, if you are not hurting anyone who cares?). I have remained fiscally conservative believing we should strive for a low tax economy with very carefully selected public spending and I see no problem with big innovation receiving big reward. Part of this has made me a staunch localist I believe decisions should be made as close to the people they effect as possible.
I have stood for election under the Libertarian Party banner twice, once in a general and once locally. I found I was less happy about this locally, while I still believed in libertarian values, I found there were some issues where feeling was strong and because of the background there was no way forward without involving the council. I would not consider myself an ideologue more of a pragmatist so I was happy to accept in certain specific situations the will of the area needed to override my own beliefs (this might be just getting over a hump, rather than becoming fundamentally statist).
I have known Alan Stone for some years, and we attended a number of events together where we would learn about local candidates and parties. I remember leaving one event thinking “what the heck was that, I am just going to draw something on the ballot paper as I can’t support any of them”. I was already thinking that national politics should be kept out of local politics, and this cemented it. Alan had much the same view, and that night outside Basingstoke railway station the two of us, plus two others decided to form Basingstoke Independent Group (with a slogan of vote BIG). Over the next few days we spoke about it with friends who were also involved with politics, there were people from all over the county that were interested in having a local party which puts local politics first and national politics were left at the door. While vote BIG was a good slogan, Basingstoke Independent Group was really not going to work for a candidate in Southampton. From that Hampshire Independents was born; a new party with no central manifesto, just a few key intentions with the expectation that each candidate comes up with their own ideas.
The Hampshire Independents principles include ‘More visible policing’ and ‘an infrastructure-first policy on development’. Can you tell us more about what these mean and some of the other principles?
Our principals are there as a starting point for local politics, they are to provide a baseline without getting into specifics. I will talk about the two you have brought up. We have a couple of members who have worked in some capacity for the police. Steve James-Bailey was an officer for over 20 years in Hampshire Constabulary, and I have worked in IT building and supporting some of the UKs policing systems. Between us we have a fair idea of how to keep common crime under control. Both the party leadership, and Steve supported the original Peelian principals of policing; the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets. This does not mean loads of arrests, but a degree of confidence that someone from law enforcement will be seen walking up and down trouble hotspots. The objective is clear: to make people feel safer. How this is implemented could vary from town to town; there are plenty of ways to do it from council enforcement officers, to staff paid for by Business Improvement Districts, or PCSO’s even local businesses just group funding for security guards. We have no prescription of how this is done, it needs to be tailored to each town.
The other point you mentioned is infrastructure first policy. This is a common complaint that we hear. New developments (be they industrial or residential), go up for planning without wider consideration for the needed infrastructure. Hampshire has capacity problems with processing waste water in some areas, and it is far from unusual to see upgrade works as part of a planning application, but then delays happen and the upgrades take longer than expected. We also see this with traffic. Often, new smaller developments are tacked on, and they can have a significant impact on the existing residents. We don’t think this is right, yes we may need new developments but it should not come at the expense of existing residents, any infrastructure improvements needed should come first. As with our principles, what matters locally is up to each candidate to decide depending on local needs, there will be different infrastructure problems across the county and we will not have a one size fits all policy.
Our other principles are:
Doing what is right for your area first
Support for local apprenticeships
Work to improve recycling, both in where its processed and how much is collected
Borough councillors to return their basic allowance to the community via charity (expenses for travel, food where relevant can be claimed, any additional committee work would be paid)
Support local businesses, buy locally
Encourage start-up business where possible
Council-controlled social housing
For those not familiar with Hampshire politics, what are the big issues in the county?
There are 3 main issues really:
To explain a little more. Hampshire is a really tough county to police; Hampshire Constabulary is responsible for 2 counties, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Most multi county police forces (Thames Valley for example) don’t have to deal with the sea separating the two counties. During a major incident allocating resources from say Reading to Slough in Thames Valley is very easy, it is just a drive up the motorway. Allocating resources from Portsmouth to Cowes is not easy as a ferry needs to be involved. Added to this Hampshire is a big mix of urban and rural areas. Southampton for example, is a major city with one of the UK’s busiest ports. We also have Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy and another major city. This is combined with parts of the South Downs National Park and the Hampshire Downs one of the breadbaskets of England. We therefore get a big mix of both urban and rural crime. Hampshire Constabulary is also considered one of the lowest funded police forces in the country; other forces are able to increase their income through the host force model with other specialist agencies, (such as hosting counter-terrorism units, or serious fraud units). Other forces like the Metropolitan Police are able to increase their revenue by licencing their brand through things like children’s detective sets. Hampshire lacks both of these, so there is a real struggle with funding. As a result, most minor crime is simply not investigated and this has a real serious impact on the public’s perception of the police. You often hear things like: “the police just don’t care about burglary”, can you imagine how awful that would feel? Knowing that someone broke into your house, went through your most private possessions, and the police just don’t appear to care?
Development is another one that comes up time and time again. Hampshire has good rail links with London, a decent port in Southampton and generally a well educated workforce. The north of Hampshire also brushes the M4 corridor which is the silicone valley of the UK. As a result, we see some very high house prices here (not London high, but still high), but with loads of countryside developers are very interested in getting massive plots of land for big new developments. In my area of Basingstoke, it often feels like an overdeveloped version of “what have the Romans ever done for us”? “Well apart from the extension of Beggarwood, the development the other-side of the A30, the building on the football club, the new houses in Brighton Hill, the new houses by the Hospital, Merton Rise, the development of Basingstoke Golf Club and the 10,000 houses in Manydown, what developments are there?…. The 10,000 houses proposed on the Portsmouth Settled Estates, and don’t forget the Motorway Services”. I do understand people need places to live, but we also really need to think about the road infrastructure to allow these people to do simple things like get to the shops. We also hear about the climate emergency, but this does not appear to matter when there is concrete and tarmac for houses to cover all those plants. The same is true with some of the solar farms, there are numerous proposals to put solar farms all over the county, so we can burn more fossil fuels importing food rather than growing more food here.
Town centres are another big issue, most of the town centres have seen slow long term decline shops moving out and part of them becoming deserted. Basingstoke, Andover, Alton, Fleet, Farnborough they all have parts of the town centre where shops just close up. Now there is a number of factors that cause this and the council cant just “fix it” by charging less rent, in many cases the council only owns a handful of buildings. Parking is a big problem that we have put a lot of effort into. Both the party treasurer (Spencer) and leader (Alan) have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking. Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service. People just think well its not worth the agro going into town, I will just order it online. This is not good longer term as the town centres will die and all the jobs that go with it, we have seen some big names go this year and there is a more subtle changes to, for example Argos is disappearing slowly and the town where I live has seen both their Argos stores close.
What are the key issues that gain the party support, and how do you go about campaigning?
This is a hard question to answer, as the name suggests we are independent candidates! There are some very local issues across the county which are important. Being connected to the local area and not having to answer to a big party machine is one key thing that gets us support. One of our strongest messages is that all our candidates do what is right for an area, rather than having a one size fits all policy. This gives our candidates great freedoms too, as they campaign on the things that matter, though some people do find this confusing that we can have two candidates who are campaigning for different things.
We do a lot of different campaigning, we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence. We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press. For example we have been in the local press three times now over the car parking changes going on in Basingstoke. These are great as we can make real positive change without being elected, you don’t need to win an election to be able to hold the council to account when they are hurting motorists…. You just do it.
We are slowly coming out of lockdown, what are your thoughts about the lockdown, possible ongoing controls, and how we recover?
Lockdown is a complex one, in short I don’t really think the lockdown was a good idea. There are a number of reasons for this, firstly it created mass participation in a delusion, the three weeks to flatten the curve was clearly nonsense, it was nonsense the moment it was said and it was known to be nonsense. However for some reason the public generally participated in the mass delusion and got on board with it, and the government saw this as fantastic we can just lie and as long as there is enough panic people will accept it. The big problem is, once this has been done once, it can be done again and again. The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible. The lockdown itself I can see why it was done, but I think it was done without thought, it has shifted our understanding of responsibility. The state has accepted the role that it is responsible for our health and safety, this is not a good thing as the individual is no longer responsible for themselves and we should all know that collective responsibility means no responsibility.
People are much smarter than most give them credit for, there is a reason humans are the most successful species on the planet and part of that is that individually we can evaluate information and risk. We should be polishing those skills so that people are not dependent on the state, we need people to be able to handle situations that come up so they can put a situation right when big daddy government is not there to tell them what to think.
In terms of coming out of lockdown, I understand there will still be a need to self-isolate should someone be infected. Quarantine I have no problem with and that should be encouraged. Who knows about the vaccine, I urge everyone to consider widely the risks they are exposed to, for some that will mean get the vaccine as fast as you damn well can, others it may not. On the positive side I think this has forced some positive changes, more people will have the chance to work from home than they did before, this wont go away now and this will hopefully give some more time at home or with the families. It will change the economy forever and the high street is likely to see some very hard times ahead. I have thought a massive change to the high street was always coming, I think a lot of the big shops we have know will go and the high street will end up with lots of smaller but more specialist shops. This may have just forced its hand.
Personally I would like to see tax breaks for start-ups and smaller businesses particularly those in the service sector which has been hard hit. I am not convinced by things like eat out to help out, I was of course pleased to be getting a cheap breakfast at my local café, but I was going to go and support my local independents regardless, it did nothing for the people who are terrified to leave their front door and a half price McDonnalds is hardly a responsible answer when obesity is a massive risk factor with corona virus. I would like to see gyms be VAT free 6 months along with hotels, theatres and cinemas. Business rate relief and relief from BID levies for those non-essential businesses which have been closed for so long too. What I would like most of all is the government to give some degree of confidence that lockdown will never happen again, to ensure that there is no risk to those that want to start their own store, sadly I am aware that will never happen.
If you had 3 things that you could change in Hampshire or at a national level, what would they be?
I think I would like to see a big shakeup of the way the public sector buys from the private sector. No one is talking about the NHS building their own computers, or the police building their own cars so regardless of how pro nationalisation you might be there will always be a need to go to the private sector for some things. I have seen so much waste and so much nonsense in public sector procurement it truly is incredible how much money goes down the pan. That needs a massive shakeup, almost at the level of binning it and starting again. This is more of a national issue than a Hampshire one.
I would like to see an end to excessive overdevelopment of Hampshire’s green and pleasant lands, I am very proud to be from Hampshire (I even went to university in Portsmouth, so I have never lived outside the county). I understand people need homes and we do need to do more with renewable energy, but I also think we should try and keep food miles down. Hampshire has some fantastic agricultural land and just building houses or covering it all up with solar farms is just the wrong answer, we can grow plenty of food here which only needs to travel tens of miles, we should make the most of that.
I would like to see better consideration given to cyclists, essentially make the busy town centre roads wider so that cyclists and drivers can get along with each other. I am a cyclist myself, I think I have racked up over 10,000 miles in my bike now, I don’t think cyclists should be on the pavement, I can get to 30mph on some roads, that’s lethal to a pedestrian and the same speed as the cars. I should be on the road, but make them wide enough for the cars to get past without causing a fuss and I think we will all get along better!
Any parting thoughts you would like to share?
Just one, I think people get over excited about politics. I hear of people that are no longer friends over the EU referendum or voting red or blue or whatever. If you are at that level you are an ideologue there is no point in anyone having a sensible debate with you because you are beyond that. The whole point of politics is that we can discuss and debate our differences and yes we wont always get what we want, but its better than going to war with someone. I was a campaigner for Vote Leave and my partner of 3 years was a strong remainer, we are still together and still very happy. I do get people ask me how this can be, and I always say the same thing: because we are adults, we can have a sensible conversation with different points of view and we don’t always agree, but its fine. So my parting thought, if you are not an adult don’t get involved with politics as it wont make you happy.
We discuss the momentous Hartlepool By-Election result along with the council results from across England, We also analyse the results of the 5 Croydon Council By-Elections and the London Mayoral & GLA elections. We are then joined by Oliver Bielski, the co-founder of Enact, a new political party that endorses Direct Democracy, to discuss their ideas for an alternative system of democratic representation.
Eric Siva-Jothy heads up the London Assembly, London wide list for the SDP. We have already spoken with the SDP Mayoral Candidate Steve Kelleher on our Podcast. Eric is a student of Law & Criminology, describes himself as a small-c conservative and is the London region representative for the SDP Youth movement.
Eric thanks for speaking with us.
Can you start by introducing yourself, and tell us what led to you standing for the SDP?
My name is Eric Siva-Jothy and I’ve lived in London now for a little over 4 years, I’m 24 and currently studying for an LLB in Law with a minor in Criminology at university. The main reason I put myself forward to stand for the SDP is frankly everything from the government’s handling of endless, increasingly incoherent lockdowns at the national level to the woeful handling of crime in London. Given my area of study I am particularly passionate about the latter, and some of the worrying trends I’ve been exposed to living in East London over the past few years make inaction not really an option for me anymore. That’s everything from the degree to which burglaries are never even followed up, to the open proliferation of cannabis use on the streets I’ve seen (often right in the presence of authorities themselves). It just seems police priorities are more in public virtue signalling with police Pride vans than being an active presence of law and order. Of course, with the looming unparalleled economic crash we’re in for post-lockdown, crime will only be exacerbated even further in the midst of a Met police and a Mayor that I don’t think are ready to confront it, let alone even attempting to make preparations for such a scenario.
I usually describe ourselves to people as ‘Blue Labour’, I myself am a former Labour Party member but I left shortly after Corbyn’s election to the leadership, although the party was already in a dire state when it came to marginalising more socially conservative voices. The Social Democratic Party is my natural political home in this regard, economic Left/social Right, which according to studies tends to actually be the average political outlook in this country. Our national policies include reshoring industry and manufacturing to the UK & adopting a state-led industrial strategy, reducing immigration, renationalising the railways, calling for a full government review into political bias at the BBC and Channel 4, tax benefits to married couples and legal protections for free speech in academia. I strongly recommend giving our document “The New Declaration” a read, that sets out our ethos and outlook broadly.
Even in lockdown we have significant street crime problems in London, we have constantly rising local taxes and contention between public and private transport. How will the SDP tackle these issues?
Our number one priority is putting more police on the streets. For this we’ve set an ambitious target of up to ten thousand new officers to be deployed in active community patrols, using the highly successful ‘broken windows’ strategy London’s twin city New York employed to great success in the 1990s. This means directing police to be actively present and patrolling around key crime hot spots, including expanding the use of stop and search, which serves both as a strong deterrent and provides the ability to intervene quickly when crime occurs. Of course nowadays anti-police sentiment is a trendy left-wing cause we have to contend with, but the evidence shows very clearly that the active method of policing works and saves lives. We plan on funding this by cutting waste at City Hall, reviewing how the Met uses its funding and then streamlining or abolishing what is unnecessary (the epidemic of ‘tweet policing’, which i’m sure many of your readers will be aware of, comes to mind here), and using TfL’s incredibly commercially valuable landholdings to raise money for the London budget.
In regards to transport, we will push back against ridiculous policies like ULEZ, poorly thought-out cycle lane expansions and the undemocratic imposition of LTNs that cause more problems than they solve. I am utterly dumbfounded by the choice to try and reduce automobile use and shift the burden from that onto public transport in a time when TfL is about to enter an unprecedented financial crisis. It simply wont be able to pick up the slack, especially in the coming post-lockdown economy; is now really the time to opportunistically mess around with environmentalist social engineering plans and their unforeseen consequences on those reliant on car travel? Lower-income and often older workers in the outer parts of London especially require cars to travel long distances to and from work, and they’re hit hardest by such policies. In the end expansion and investment in both TfL and automobile infrastructure, like reopening the Hammersmith Bridge and completing the Silvertown Tunnel, will combat congestion and concentrated air pollution far more than the ideology-driven penalising of London’s motorists.
What are the SDPs others priorities for London?
Housing. Labour has repeatedly failed to live up to its housing targets and due to outdated ideas like right-to-buy we have seen a continuous decline in the public housing stock that exacerbates the crisis. Our main goal will be to reach a target of constructing 50,000 new council houses a year, using money raised from methods outlined above, combined with having tenants waive their right-to-buy on all new builds. This means we can keep housing in public ownership, and in turn there’d be a knock-on effect of reducing prices and rent in the private sector. In that vein, the SDP will introduce a points system that gives those who’ve lived longest in an area priority on the housing ladder. This is designed to help build more local communities and combat the current atomising trend of renterism dispersing families and friends all over the city. There would also be a knock-on effect on crime: closer-knit communities with more familiarity tend to have much lower crime rates.
If elected to the Assembly what would you like to work on and achieve?
Aside from holding the Mayor to account and working with other AMs to carry out what i’ve outlined above, I’m especially interested in preserving the historical and architectural heritage of London. If elected, I would like to advance a vision that more monuments and statues to our past be constructed around the city as part of a broader beautification project, and to engage our struggling arts community post-lockdown in creating public displays celebrating and uplifting Britain instead of putting it down. Something similar to the USAs Federal Arts Project in the 1930s, which in my humble opinion would be a far better use of London’s culture budget than changing traffic lights in Trafalgar Square. I would also rigorously resist any introduction of intrusive and compulsive domestic “vaccine passports”; I consider the very fact they’re even being floated grossly sinister in its potential curtailing of civil liberties and permanently altering our way of life.
If people want to know more about the SDP and their movement how do they get in touch?
The Democratic Network is a new registered political party with candidates standing in six counties. They aim to:
Make it easier for politically neutral candidates to stand in local elections
Help those candidates get elected
Support them once elected.
Nigel Jacklin is a statistician, market researcher and recording artist. Below is an interview with Nigel, Leader of The Democratic Network and is standing in Bexhill St Marks ward.
Nigel, you will be standing as a Democratic Network candidate in the East Sussex County elections. What is The Democratic Network?
We are a new political party contesting the local elections across the UK. I founded the party with my wife Sheila. Our party promise is to represent local people and businesses, regardless of their political views. We will only contest local elections. No ties to Westminster parties will mean we can do the job without any political interference.
Why do you want to be a Councillor?
There will be opportunities and challenges over the next four years. Helping local businesses recover from the last year will require some clear and fresh thinking in the ‘Economic Development’ department. That’s my main skill. Health and education will be important too.
How is the Democratic Network different to other parties or independent candidates?
Once elected our promise is to be fully representative, accountable and practical. That’s our party promise. We’ll work for everybody. Our proposals include expert panels and regular dialogue with residents and businesses. We are fairly serious, but we do know how to have fun!
Tell us a little about your background; what qualifies you to be a Councillor.
My wife Sheila and I moved to Normans Bay in 1992 where we raised our family. We liked the sea, countryside and the friendly people. By trade I am a statistician and market researcher. I worked with Didier Truchot, founder of top market research company Ipsos, before setting up my own business here. I’ve worked for clients like the Financial Times, the British Medical Journal, MTV and local telecare company Doro. My job is to understand what people want, what will work and to help organisations make better decisions. I’ll bring a fresh approach, balancing the need to look to the future whilst maintaining what’s precious to us.
Are there any local issues or organisations of particular importance to you?
We’ve helped college students with work experience and developed a guide to the World of Work with East Sussex County Council and the Financial Times. I’m a member of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and the De La Warr Pavilion. I’m a Sussex representative of the British Astronomical Associations Commission for Dark Skies. East Sussex is a beautiful place. I want to keep it that way, whether that be by everyday beach cleaning or in other ways.
What makes you happy?
My family. Going to the beach near our house. Wildlife and plants growing in our garden.
How can people help or get in touch?
Anyone who wants to help, has a question or a point to make can:
Mike visits the Shirley Inn to chat with Zachary Stiling, the Heritage Party candidate in the Kenley By-Election and a GLA candidate. Zachary explains his reasons for becoming involved in politics and his vision for Croydon and London.
Croydon resident Zachary Stiling is standing for the Heritage Party on the London wide list in the upcoming GLA elections. The party is led by current GLA member David Kurten who is also running for London Mayor. The party stands for free speech and liberty, traditional family values, national sovereignty and financial responsibility. Zachary is also standing in the Kenley by-election for Croydon council on May 6th. This will be the first time the party has run in a Croydon local election.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to join the Heritage Party and be running for the GLA and Croydon Council?
I developed libertarian sentiments as a teenager when it became apparent to me just how far our lives are intruded upon by unnecessary bureaucratic legislation. Over the past 50 years, many aspects of life have come to be governed by an extreme safetyism, which has been eroding individual responsibility and has generally been detrimental to quality of life as a whole. I have acquired a mantra, ‘Government by education, not by force’.
At the same time, I have been conscious of the unethical practices of Silicon Valley as it exploits Third World wage slaves and Western consumers alike. The contempt with which social media regards individuality is abhorrent, and it failed in its moral responsibility to abstain from censorship during the lockdown, when society was effectively made dependent on it for conversation.
Accordingly, I don’t own a mobile phone, which is an inoffensive personal choice but the cognitive dissonance it induces sometimes is alarming. Many people cannot believe that it is possible, much less desirable, to live without frivolous technologies. This dependency will worsen as working from home becomes ‘normal’, with employers expecting employees to blend work equipment into their private spaces. The dangers of this should be obvious. Most people do not properly understand their technology, so by making themselves dependent upon it, they are inviting exploitation.
Such practices as outlined are unconventional, but I regard them as rational and virtuous. As my university effectively obligated mobile phone ownership, I am conscious of a time when my lifestyle, though harmless, will be impossible because of conditions placed upon it by government, society and their institutions, so I have always entertained entering politics in case I ever needed to defend my own existence.
The imposition of the lockdown in March, 2020, spurred me into action because I recognised from the start that it would be devastating and probably not even succeed in its purported intention. Historical precedents show that totalitarianism only ever creates death and misery, and a mandated orthodoxy is the antithesis of true scientific principles. Nullius in verba. That almost everyone in government has been complicit in accepting the single greatest crime ever committed by a democratically elected government against its citizens in British history has made clear the need for a thorough overhaul of the political system.
I was pleased when I discovered David Kurten had created the Heritage Party last year to oppose government overreach. I am pleased, too, that other parties have been created with similar intentions, although it is a pity we are not presently able to work alongside one another. I believe in the Heritage Party over and above the others because it has a properly developed manifesto with sound policies extending beyond the issues of freedom and censorship. Liberty is not the only component of a healthy society. Responsibility and beauty are necessary, too, and the Heritage Party understands that.
As a lifelong Croydon resident, I am pained by the decline of Croydon and London but, even so, I find much in their people and environment to cherish. With so much worth fighting for, I wish to reverse the decline and make London and Croydon places people may delight in and lead fulfilling, satisfying lives.
“Heritage Party – Free Speech and Liberty” is the party’s name on the London Ballot. Can you tell us a bit more about the party’s policies and what you hope to do in London?
The Heritage Party offers a socially conservative voice in politics, embracing prudence, humility and wisdom. In addition to liberty, personal responsibility and traditional values, we believe in low immigration, self-sufficiency in skills, equality before the law, parliamentary reform in favour of proportional representation, civic beauty and the protection of the countryside.
On the London Assembly, three of our priorities will be policing, transport and housing. Total reform of the police is needed now it is so political. As it stands, it is not doing its job and people of all political creeds have lost faith in it. We want more police on the streets, where they should be able to engage with the public in a friendly manner, for the prevention of serious crime, but we will not allow them to harass citizens for exercising their natural rights to freedom of speech, association and movement within the public realm. We will reverse the upside-down approach to policing displayed at protests throughout the last year. Police will not be allowed to interfere with the public’s right to protest, but we will not let them capitulate to rioters who engage in violence and destruction.
The retraction of cash payment on buses and the London Underground erased a fundamental choice, so one of the Heritage Party’s first actions will be to restore cash payment across London’s transport. We oppose Sadiq Khan’s profiteering war on the motorist, which includes the expansion of the ULEZ, a permanent congestion charge, the Greater London boundary charge and congestion-causing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We support London’s cabmen and will increase the cab license to 20 years, bring back a Euro 6 diesel option for new taxis and enforce the Uber court ruling. Uber shows contempt for its workers by refusing to pay them minimum wage. The fact that it operates by flooding the streets with taxis which are mostly unoccupied and is thereby probably London’s worst culprit for congestion and air pollution seems to have escaped Sadiq Khan.
Irresponsibly, almost every contender for the London Assembly promises more houses. The Heritage Party recognises the need for affordable homes for Londoners, but it also recognises the need for sensitive development. The policy of building more and more homes is unsustainable, and due in large part to uncontrolled mass immigration which the Heritage Party opposes. Writing in England and the Octopus in the 1920s, Clough Williams-Ellis raised awareness of the damage that was being wrought upon English countryside and culture by rampant development. That we have had a century to address the issue and have only succeeded in escalating the problem is disgraceful. London has no moral obligation to accommodate all who wish to immigrate here and it is not the better for housing them at the expense of its countryside and green spaces. Where development occurs, it must occur on brownfield sites and houses must meet certain quality standards. Many new developments are of appalling quality; fittings are cheaply made and have a short lifespan, the wider community is bereft of important social facilities, and there is no architectural style: it is purely generic. The blandness or outright ugliness of much modern architecture is dispiriting and demoralising, and a blight on the landscape for decades after is construction. Beauty is uplifting, and the Heritage Party will ensure that future development equals or improves upon the prevailing aesthetic of its environs.
In curating London’s streetscape, we oppose the philistinism of Mayor Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which is culturally destructive and undermines important values. While not every statue is a public asset, those targeted by the commission are among the best for visual beauty, historical importance and promoting achievement and moral virtue. An advanced city respects its past, embraces historical truths as foundations for learning and improvement, and appreciates that the benefits of modern life were arrived at through the toil of its past citizens.
In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council. What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?
Knife crime is a complicated issue but, with nuance, we can see that a combination of parental, social and cultural influences steers people towards crime. It is imperative that we understand these root causes, and respond appropriately, if we are to address knife crime in the long-term. The political faction that insists the police is institutionally racist and effectively absolves the criminals of responsibility for their misdeeds is a regressive hindrance. Police visits to schools, for the purpose of engagement rather than intimidation, could do a lot to keep children on the right track and identify signs of anti-social behaviour before they go too far, and the council must provide effective social services for children who experience harm or neglect in the home.
One of the biggest problems for young people is the lack of leisure facilities, the provision of which would help them find a purpose and appreciation for life. As a case in point, youths have been riding off-road motorcycles in my local woods. That is anti-social and thoughtless, yet there is nothing of malice in it. Those young motorcyclists have enthusiasm for a very good hobby. Off-road motorcycling helps develop safe and skilful riding, and it encourages an interest in engineering; in competition, like all sports, it helps participants cultivate a sense of fair play. It is precisely what ought to be encouraged in young people, and yet they have nowhere to pursue their hobby. Few people know that Croydon once hosted a motor-racing course. It had dance halls, cinemas and live music venues, now almost all gone. It is developments such as these that Croydon Council should encourage. There is this rather tragic attitude that young people should be ignored and left to entertain themselves with the internet, so it’s scarcely surprising that so many drift wayward for want of a place in the world.
This ties in with the decline of the town centre, with investors understandably lacking confidence in a town with a high crime rate. Boxpark is supposed to be an exciting new development, but I expect its novelty will wear off when people realise they’re paying through their nose just to eat in a pile of shipping containers. The recovery can probably only be long and slow, but if it is to happen at all we must first release the shackles of lockdown and Mayor Khan’s anti-motorist schemes. When town centres are struggling, it is lunacy to impose a Greater London boundary charge on motorists which will deter people from visiting or working in Croydon, and the north of the borough is already suffering thanks to LTNs, which make towns even less accessible to motorists. I am conscious of the need to reduce traffic in some areas, but indiscriminately punishing motorists is not the right way about it.
As we emerge from the lockdown, it is imperative we help local businesses get back on their feet. Croydon’s historic pubs are one of its greatest assets and we must protect them at all costs. The council should offer assistance where necessary and stand up to unscrupulous developers. Westminster Council has set a fantastic precedent in ordering the developers who illegally demolished the Carlton Tavern to rebuild it to its original appearance, and Croydon should follow suit. I extend my congratulations to Croydon North MP Steve Reed, who has already used that precedent against developers who demolished a 1920s bungalow in Upper Norwood; the demolition was illegal, even though the council had inexcusably granted permission for the developers to build flats there. Croydon does not need vast commercial developments like the stalled Westfield centre, it needs to encourage small business owners and local entrepreneurs.
The council’s bankruptcy was the consequence of longstanding ineptitude and financial mismanagement, which is impressive considering the depths to which it was prepared to stoop to generate revenue. My father was one of many people issued with a fixed-penalty notice for disposing of waste at a council recycling site. The cardboard he was disposing of ultimately did not remain in the bin because it was overflowing, and he subsequently received a fine he was unable to appeal. I am not sure whether that or Brick by Brick, the council’s in-house building firm, should be regarded as its biggest disgrace. Also predisposed towards architectural blight, Brick by Brick has been a byword for failure, constructing housing that has frequently transpired to be uninhabitable with the result that it has been a loss-making object of universal ridicule. It needs to be put out of its misery. The real losers, though, are not the councillors who have resigned but the residents of Croydon who face cuts to their services, including the loss of libraries.
If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority or on Croydon Council and what would you like to achieve?
If elected, I should like to use my position to work with local communities to deliver the best solutions for their respective concerns. It is presently the case that local authorities are too subservient to central government and are frequently required to waste time and funds performing arbitrary tasks that do their areas no good at all, so I will do everything I can to see that local interests are represented.
I would work to promote London as a centre for culture and learning with my support for the arts sector. I will do everything I can to help it recover from the damage of the lockdown and suffocating need to conform with the demands of the identity-politics lobby, so that it can truly proclaim itself the home of world-leading museums, galleries and theatres.
I would be interested in working with the Create Streets think-tank to deliver sensitive development, and I should be very glad to co-operate with charities such as the Georgian Society, Victorian Society and Campaign to Protect Rural England, all of which undertake vital work in protecting and preserving our history and the quality of our environment.
It is my hope that I should be able to help London, Croydon, and Kenley be safe, beautiful places with thriving economies and strong cultural worth, as success stories for freedom and limited governance.
Can you start by telling us a bit about your background, and how did you became the London & South East Co-ordinator for the Libertarian Party?
I considered myself a Conservative until the EU referendum in 2016, after which I found myself appalled at how politicians from all sides of the spectrum were so keen to try and overturn a democratic mandate. I had a frustrating period where I couldn’t find a party that aligned to my principles and values and it was only when I took the Political Compass test that I discovered Libertarianism. I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for a few years and had started to contribute to the local Facebook Page when I was asked to become the co-ordinator for Sussex. A very short time later, there was a vacancy for the London & South East position and I was eager to step up.
In May we have the Mayoral and GLA elections in London. The Libertarian Party has endorsed Laurence Fox for Mayor. What’s made the party endorse Laurence and more widely what are your thoughts on the upcoming elections?
The Libertarian Party strongly oppose all lockdowns so when Laurence Fox declared he would lift lockdown if elected, we weren’t prepared to stand in his way! I think it’s unfortunate that the current mayor is likely to be re-elected based on which party he represents rather than his ability to do the job. From an outside perspective, all I see is virtuous posturing but little action of relevancy.
We’ve had a year of lockdown restrictions, which should be fertile ground for Libertarians, but we see the Conservative government polling strongly. What do you think is happening on Britain’s support for lockdown, and what are your thoughts on the past year?
Its been a tough time for Libertarians, that’s for sure! It’s clear to me that the government propaganda has scared people so much into accepting this level of restrictions on our liberties. We aren’t even able to have a sensible debate on whether lockdowns are an appropriate or proportionate response without being accused of wanting to ‘kill granny’ or ‘let the virus rip’. I personally don’t feel there should ever be a situation where government has this sort of power over it’s population but I could understand the argument more if all members of society where at equal risk of being seriously ill or dying from the virus. The fact is that Covid 19 is a nasty virus for some but the majority of people who get it will be ok. The demographics of who are most at risk are very clear and I really feel we should have looked at focussed protection for the most vulnerable as proposed by ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’. My biggest fear and main reason why I oppose these blanket measures is that once the state has these powers they will not let them go easily. This is evidenced now by the fact we have the 2nd lowest infection rate in Europe, continued falling hospitalisations and deaths and one of the highest vaccination rates in the whole world yet we still have one of the strictest lock downs worldwide! Boris’ roadmap is quite frankly a disgrace. How can it remain illegal to have friends or family in your own home until at least May 17th despite all the data showing that the virus is in decline and the vaccinated are protected? It is outrageous.
How do you feel the Libertarian message in London goes down, and what do you see as the key messages for the capital?
I feel its really difficult for people to understand libertarianism and what it really means. I think people don’t even know its a ‘thing’. We are only ever told about left vs right in politics and I think that’s for a reason; why would the establishment want you to know that there is a philosophy and way of being that means you don’t need them!? I think its important we help people see that a system that encourages individual responsibility, freedom to make your own choices and free markets will provide everyone a greater opportunity to thrive.
How do you plan to grow the party and extend its reach in London?
It’s all about awareness for us. Its really difficult to get any traction in the mainstream media so we are looking forward to the launch of GB News where hopefully they will be more open to giving a platform to parties such as ours.
We’re a Croydon based group, as you know our council has issued a Section 114 notice and declared de facto bankruptcy. What do you think about what’s happened in Croydon, also would you and if so how would you, change local government financing?
It’s the fundamental problem with the public sector; they don’t have the ‘rudder of profit’ to guide them. There is no consequence for poor service because citizens i.e. customers don’t have the choice to take their business elsewhere. They are forced to fund failing organisations and receive a lesser service for it! It is illogical. Regarding local government funding, you have to reduce the size of the state as much as possible and allow citizens to keep as much of their own money to spend how they need. I really do believe that business, charity and volunteers will step in and provide what people need far more efficiently and effectively than any publicly run institution ever could.
You are running in the Tarring ward for both Worthing Borough and West Sussex County Council. What are the major issues facing the town and county, and if elected what’s one thing you like to achieve?
On a larger scale, the town will be decimated by the effects of lockdown and I feel people are really blinded by this due to the various handouts given by central and local governments. I am a huge advocate of allowing private business to operate in a way that they deem appropriate for their own customers and not to have to answer to top down mandates. Equally, I encourage individuals to think about their own responsibility and enable them the freedom to choose how they want to live and what businesses they want to give their custom to. Locally, a major gripe currently is the increase in council tax year on year for a lesser service. In particular, the county council reduced refuse collection to a fortnightly service and are now making it as difficult as possible for citizens to access the tip by cutting opening times and, bizarrely, introducing a process of attendance only by pre booking! As usual, councils and public services treating its customers as inconveniences and you wouldn’t get away with it in the private sector. If elected I would aim to be a thorn in the side of the bureaucrats on the council. I would persistently challenge them on all areas of spending and be unashamedly looking to reduce the size of the council itself. I want citizens to keep as much of their own money as possible so they can spend it on services that actually deliver value to them directly.
If you could introduce 3 changes to how we are governed what would they be?
Firstly, power needs to be devolved to as close to the individual as possible. It makes no sense to me that people with no understanding of local issues get to decide what is important and what our money should be spent on. Secondly, I want the state to be as small as possible and work towards a system whereby people have the freedom to make their own choices on what is best for them without being tied to certain policies and processes. Thirdly, we need a simplified and lower tax system. Its quite ridiculous the number of taxes there are and how we are constantly taxed on money that has already been subject to taxation. People who are pro tax only ever consider it from a ‘rich’ person’s perspective (‘they should pay more!’) but I tend to think about how many of the taxes such as VAT and sin taxes are really regressive and disproportionately effect the worst off.
Any thoughts you would like to leave our readers with and how can people get involved.
Politics isn’t about left v right any more but rather authoritarianism v libertarianism. If you value freedom to live your life how you wish we need to collectively stand up and challenge the rise of authoritarianism as this past year has evidenced how far we have moved away from liberty and truly being a free country.
Helen Spiby-Vann has stood 3 times (2015, 2017 and 2019 General Elections) for the Christian Peoples Alliance party in the North London constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green. Vice President of the Party, in 2019 she doubled her votes from the previous election, had a great election video and good write up in the local press. We spoke with Helen about the constituency, London politics, her experiences as a candidate, and her challenges with the state school system.
Helen thank-you for your time.
You have stood 3 times in Hornsey and Wood Green. Can you tell us a bit about the constituency, what makes it special and why you want to represent the area?
Hornsey and Wood Green constituency is buzzing with different types of families from different backgrounds. Where else can you meet people from diverse cultures, age groups and attitudes whilst queueing for a mezze grill? Haringey is the hospitality borough of London.
Another great institution is Pray Haringey. Hearing from community leaders and praying for Haringey. I love the various facets of the local faith communities and I have a tangible affinity with them all. We love family, kids, mums & dads, siblings and grandparents. We empower young people and care for the elderly, infirm and dispossessed. We make sure we teach our children to respect others who are different from ourselves.
A stranger’s perspective can sometimes seem strange so it’s important to carry their burdens, to see through their eyes. In my capacity as a human being, I’ve been a carer, advocated for the elderly, I’ve partnered with Homes for Haringey and hosted a Syrian refugee. I’ve co-founded a food project, done pro-life pavement counselling and worked with children. I’m convinced that religious ethics can inform the common good and enable equality, justice and prosperity for all. When we apply Godly principles we see lives changed for the better.
Since becoming a regular candidate what’s surprised you most about getting involved in politics?
A couple of surprises. Firstly, I’m surprised at how emotionally driven voting has become. Voters are disillusioned by intellectual rationale and persuaded by emotional discernment. In other words, when the experts disagree, we lean on our feelings. People of faith seek God’s guidance.
Secondly, I’m always surprised by the depth of sincerity of candidates and their supporters. It’s inspiring to see how deeply people care about making the world a better place and fighting injustice. We all have this much in common – even if we disagree about how best to do it. In the words of Samwise Gamgee “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Do you have any fun or interesting stories from the campaign trail?
One of my first ever hustings turned out to be an epic event of Biblical magnitude. After having been declined a place on the panel, I was summoned from the back to sit on the top table after an unlikely episode which you couldn’t make up if you tried.
This turn of events happened when a burly Hoi Polloi1 with a battery pack, speaker and megaphone crashed his way to the front and demanded a place on the top table. The community were up in arms, some for and others against. The padre moderator swiftly called for the church steward to escort the strapping figure out. Then a diminutive lady appeared and it was clear that she was no match. This exacerbated the tension. Chaos, ensued, shouting, mobbing and whistle blowing.
In a stroke of divine intervention, the padre was able to take back control when another man loudly chastised the mob affirming rights of candidates to give representation. It all settled down and the Christian and the Hoi Polloi were accredited as official panelists.
One blogger who happened to be there wrote about my closing statement: ‘Spiby-Vann’s closing statement discussed the need for a “new moral vision” and to “promote godliness.” She said “marriage is the safest setting for sexual intercourse” and that “marriage demonstrates a man loves a woman – he pledges to remain faithful and she pledges to take care of him.” She then described how marriage protects women. I think this level of Christian fundamentalism managed to shock the relatively godless and liberal residents of Crouch End.’ Amen.
We have the London Mayoral elections coming up in May 2021. What are your thoughts on Mayor Khan and London’s politics more generally?
On a positive note, Mayor Khan is supportive of protecting the environment. However, this protection from pollution doesn’t stretch to in utero. I was disappointed that Mayor Khan didn’t attend the March for Life 2019. Accepted, for many, this would be the principled choice.
I love engaging with the various political perspectives in London. Respect is key and free speech is precious. By understanding other people’s viewpoints we may discover a dearly longed for solution. Sadly Janet Daby recently resigned as Labour’s shadow faith minister over comments she had made in support of freedom of conscience. It seems like an oxymoron that a shadow minister of faith would be fired for advocating for people of faith. It supports the rumour that Labour exploit the faithful, treating them as religious tokens.
Also close to my heart are women’s rights. My message to women and girls – our value comes from God not from our physical appearance – we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Negative thoughts tell us our identity is intertwined with what we do and who we look like. Comparing ourselves with others is a habit hard to ax.
Life is not straight forward. I know a lady who woke up one frozen December morning at the crack of dawn to take her dog for a walk. As she walked down the lane she saw a person lying lifeless at the side of the road in the snow. A thought passed through her pained mind – could this be the victim of a hit and run joy rider. Sadly she was right. A transient moment of irresponsible pleasure for one, turned into a tragedy for another. So it is with exploitation of women and girls and abortion.
There’s a reason why we have driving licenses, there’s a reason why we have marriage licenses. It’s to protect human rights, especially for the most vulnerable. There’s only one way into this world and for humans travelling on that path, their mother is dearly beloved. It’s an indictment on our society that mothers are encouraged to look upon the new person arriving with such contempt and lured into putting them down (mifepristone works by starving baby of nutrients and oxygen, misoprostol aborts the corpse).
For those who are still reading even though you disagree or find my opinion conceptually incomprehensible, thank you for persevering. You are great. It is concerning that people with very different views never get to meet their opposites. We only get exposed to one view and think the other is offensive, hateful, bigoted, right wing, Marxist, extremist or ridiculous. When I find myself saying ‘I just can’t understand why they think that’, it’s time to meet people who can help me understand. We may still disagree, but we find respect and dignity when we try to understand each other.
You have had some challenges as a parent with the teaching of Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) at your son’s school. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes it’s true – over the past decades of parenting, I have never been consulted properly regarding Relationship & Sex Education (RSE). And even now, when it’s mandatory, parents’ views are still being sidelined. Back in 2015 when my youngest was in year 5, I couldn’t make the once-per-year RSE content preview. Despite my requests, no other time or access was permitted.
In 2016 when my youngest was in year 6 parents were once again invited to the once-per-year RSE content preview. The (usually accommodating) headteacher explained she would only be showing samples as time permitted and would be able to show the materials in full, on request (despite requests, this never happened). Ahead of her presentation, she asked if there were any questions. I looked round at the 2 other mums and one dad in attendance and asked ‘Do you cover the importance of marriage and adult sexual relationships and if not, do you cover sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)?’
At this point the one dad walked out and the headteacher explained ‘We don’t stress marriage because our children come from many different families. But they do learn about sexual relationships but not about STI’s till much later.’ As if this rationale (on down-playing marriage) wasn’t spurious enough, the materials presented healthy sex as being a response to chemical sensations with no reference to commitment, risks, rights or responsibilities. In other words, schools have been acquiescing to fabricated ideas and ideology rather than following guidance, facts and best practice.
Autumn 2016, my son started secondary school. For the past 18 months, I have been submitting my parental feedback with respect to RSE from the protected characteristic of religious backgrounds. Under the new Regulations schools are required to consult with parents in planning the curriculum. This requirement is spotlighted in the Guidance issued 24th September 2020: ‘You must engage parents and carers about your relationships and sex education curriculum. It is important that you set out your approach to the subjects fully and clearly2.’
However, so far as I understand, none of my suggestions have been taken on board. I have removed my son from these classes until the school is able to make it inclusive for religious backgrounds and we are working together to resolve these issues.
More widely what are your thoughts on state education?
The most popular and successful state schools tend to have a few things in common: My no. 1 is encouraging parental involvement in the child’s education (parents checking homework timetables and being interested in weekly tests). And for parental involvement to be viable, we must support mum and dad and strengthen marriages. Children benefit from the joint resources, finances and shared experiences of married parents. This joint capacity enables parents to be involved in their child’s schooling.
When I was a single working mother, parental involvement in my child’s schooling was much harder. Too often children of single parent families get the short straw when it comes to educational outcomes3. Breakfast clubs offering healthy meals like porridge oats, Weetabix and fruit (rather than Rice Krispies or Cornflakes) and afterschool clubs with homework supervision or individual tuition, can bridge that gap.
One thing all pupils agree on is that disruptive classmates handicap their education. One radical panacea is to invite parents of distracting pupils to sit in one of their child’s classes and repeat the prescription when necessary.
Good classroom discipline is key. It improves student (and teacher) satisfaction, wellbeing and enables better academic, extra curricular and pastoral results.
Other methods which contribute to equality of educational outcomes include:
Streaming (with smaller class sizes at the lower end – and therefore more attention for struggling pupils)
STEM subjects taught in single sex classes
Speciality places offered for talent. This method works well because it attracts an array of pupils who raise aspirations across the school community.
Do you have any advice for anyone who has concerns about their children’s education?
For parents who are concerned about their child’s education, you are in good company. It’s important to be concerned. But what can we do with our concerns to generate positive change?
Firstly, keeping in touch with teachers is important (don’t wait till parents’ evening). Schools have homework diaries with space for parents to fill in. Your child may not thank you for it at the time but teachers will. It’s really important to be involved.
Choosing a school can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Everyone wants a good, safe and aspirational school for their children. Every child is different, whether they would benefit from cosy, big, academic, faith or disciplined, there’s lots of different types of schools and often they cater for different needs and talents. Visit as many as you can and throw the net wide. Private schools offer lots of scholarships and bursaries. They have a reputation for converting 6’ & 7’s into 9’s.
In addition, it’s important for children to be part of an activity based community outside the school (eg: sports, arts, technical, music or scouts). A serious friendship based hobby gives them confidence and stamina to embrace daily challenges at school.
Don’t be put off considering different schools, even if a child just wants to go to the same school as their friends. Trust your parental instinct. In year 5, children don’t want to leave their primary. But by Christmas in year 7, many can’t imagine going back.
We have had a second lockdown and gone into a Tier System. What are your thoughts on the government’s handling of Covid?
I believe the government has overstretched it’s reach. This is particularly apparent with churches. Early in April lockdown, it was considered safer to go to Poundshop than to church. By September, churches were open having invested greatly in risk assessments and adaptations. While Tier 2 was in place, they were still open but then downgraded with Tier 3. This was very unreasonable as churches had invested in the safety measures to prevent the spread.
State school children were short changed during school lockdown. While private schools worked hard to usher in remote classes on Teams and kept tabs on attendance, making sure IT was available for those without. State schools took the view that if one child doesn’t have IT, then the rest can’t use it (this is a common theme in state education). It would have been easier to source IT for those without than to deprive them all. State schools were thus handicapped4. Parents were juggling home schooling and home working. Teachers tried to keep connected with their increasingly remote pupils by uploading, downloading and emailing. Doing their best to help with academic as well as pastoral issues that arose because the kids were off school with no structure and no motivation.
It’s not accidental that kids are more motivated when they see other kids doing it. During school lockdown, digital classrooms enabled kids to hear and see other kids (or at least their avatars) and none could say ‘It’s not fair, I’m the only one doing this school work. Why should I?’
Exam classes could have continued in schools with social distancing, masks and santiser. Exams by nature are socially distanced and should have continued. This would have prevented the results injustices and uni places fiasco.
However, sometimes less government intervention is better. In April 2020, It was inspiring to see philanthropy thriving, nationwide encouragement of NHS and keyworkers, free public transport and handouts for food banks.
Other lessons in hindsight:
Covid testing with results ready in half an hour at airports, weddings, funerals, care homes and hospices. No-one should be prohibited from seeing their loved ones who are terminally ill.
Risk to different demographics issued in a form that the ordinary person can grasp: ‘1 in 30 people of this age group who contracts the virus, dies from it.’
On marriages: limiting attendance and social distancing is one thing, but banning marriages outright is a breach of human rights.
Earlier use of face masks, thermometers, testing, sanitizer rather than lockdowns.
More transparency about the demographic that’s allegedly spreading Covid-19. Focus on supporting this group rather than sweeping restrictions.
Pills-by-post home abortions: The government was misled by abortion providers regarding the significance of an in-person assessment to ascertain fetal age5. And
babies who were old enough to survive independently (and feel pain6), have been illegally killed7 by starvation.
Should you be returned at the next election to represent the good people of Hornsey and Wood Green, what’s one law you would like to benefit the nation, and something you would like to do to benefit your constituents?
This is a great question – my suggestion would benefit the UK both on a national level and a local level. If I was to say this policy would:
Save the nation £51Bn (for comparison we spent £87Bn on education and £37Bn on defence in 2017)8
Significantly reduce the number of people in trouble with police or in prison9
Improve the nation’s wellbeing and health10
Reduce (or eradicate) STIs which have been on the increase for decades11
Cut rates of exploitation of women and girls, prostitution and pornography
Improve children and young people’s mental health15
I could go on… The panacea for all these social woes can be summed up in 4 words ‘marriage as God intended’. Or as I like to call it, ‘the doting husband covenant’: to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part. And not forgetting men’s core need, marriage is the only relationship that recognises sex as central to the covenant (for cohabitees and civil partnerships it’s an added extra). How do we persuade the people of the UK to once again take advantage of this ancient covenant and unlock the full package of societal benefits?
I recommend the introduction of grants of £12,000 for first-time marriages on the condition couples attend marriage training (including conflict resolution and building resilient relationships). Faith communities have been taking Biblical marriage seriously for years and we see the majority of married couples staying together16.
Let’s hope that the new-found sobriety for family life, meaningful relationships, health and nature, can usher in a new era where marriage as God intended, is once again the rock upon which our nation is built.
More locally Ian Woodleyis the party organiser in Surrey. An ex-Croydon resident and Palace fan, we spoke with him about the party’s plans in the county.
Ian thank-you for your time.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Ian Woodley. I am the Surrey Coordinator for the Social Democratic Party. I was born In South London and spent my school years in Croydon, Elmwood and Selhurst Grammar /High and now live in Woking. I run a couple of businesses that raise investment for the restaurant sector and British manufactured goods, I have 4 children and one grandson.
Food, Music and Sport dominate my personal interests, lifelong Palace fan, once chairman of Dulwich Hamlet FC, Harlequins supporter, Americana music and a keen home cook.
The party is gaining publicity, but it’s still fair to say the SDP is not a well-known as it once was. What first attracted you to the party?
The party has had a roller coaster past. It is 40 years old in January and hit the heights with the “gang of four” in the early 80s. Then followed what turned out to be a disastrous alliance with the Liberals which ended in a full merger and gave them the word “Democrat” which is something over Brexit they have obviously forgotten. Those who didn’t want to throw their lot in with the Liberals such as Dr David Owen kept the flag flying and the party has existed at grass roots level ever since. Membership is now growing as we have enjoyed greater visibility. Like most people I have gone almost full circle on political views as I have grown older, before joining the SDP I was an “inactive” member of the Conservative party although was never a fan of austerity and got very frustrated with the infighting and ill discipline over Brexit. I now very much feel at home.
We described the SDP as pro-Brexit party, anti-lockdown and anti-woke SDP. Would you agree with these descriptions and what are your thoughts on where things are on these issues?
All of those things are certainly true although that sells us a bit short. We are very much Red Tory Blue Labour. We sit left of centre on economic matters such as a fairer distribution of wealth and renationalising the railways. As you suggest we are socially conservative although radical in some matters such as the abolition of the house of lords and creation of an English parliament. Specifically, at the time of writing I really hope Boris doesn’t bottle it, we have come too far for a fudged compromise. I am in line with the party’s views on lockdown in that what we really needed was a longer term consistent policy not the endless stop/starts which have destroyed some sectors and as for woke, I see this an unwelcome American import which has highlighted that our media and academia is laden with progressive liberals who are a real danger to free speech and British culture.
We are hopefully coming out of the worst of the Covid Lockdown crisis. What would you do to help us recover?
Firstly I would say that now there is news of a vaccine do not expect the government to change its approach. To me I think the discussion around state aid and Brexit are crucial. What the government need is free a hand to stimulate British Industry. I think the major difference between us and the other parties on this is that we would be far more interventional and not leave everything to the vagaries of the free market which would mean more jobs effectively exported to China. We have a buy British policy where possible for government procurement.
The SDP are a communitarian party, what do you think we should be doing to build a more coherent national community?
That isn’t a five-minute job as our communities have been undermined for decades. Culturally I think the governments Australian style immigration policy is on the right track in that we need to slow the flow to allow things to settle. Never were the British people asked for their views on mass uncontrolled immigration. Most are in favour of immigration but not at the speed it has happened in past decades a situation made worse by there never being a plan for integration. The free market liberals whether they be Labour or Conservative have viewed immigration as a means to plug gaps in the need for short term unskilled labour but without factoring in issues such as housing and the NHS which have become stretched. We have also hugely ignored the needs of our own working class who have understandably felt that they have been pushed to the back of the queue. What some people call racism is actually resentment which has built as a result of thoughtless government policy. We have a policy for new immigrants “All will be required to agree to a pledge to uphold and adhere to contemporary British values as a condition of migration” which will light up the wokeratti but is what we feel most British people would expect. As a nation we have grown afraid to actually say what we want on this issue.
Economically there are huge extremes of wealth and the North South divide is real. We keep hearing the term levelling up but that will not happen on its own and will need steering from government.
You’re an ex-Croydonian what are your memories of growing up here, and thoughts on the now bankrupt borough?
I spent years 2-22 in Croydon, as mentioned earlier I was at Elmwood in West Croydon, which had the countries first schools steel band! Going to see Palace at the age of 6, the last year of the 11 plus and going to Selhurst Grammar seeing the head boy wearing a cape. No more first year intake so we were the youngest boys in the school for 4 years in a row. Discovering Lady Edridge girls school even though Selhurst girls school was right next door. Working my Saturday job at Sainsburys in the Whitgift centre and the many pubs we used to frequent around Croydon. I must admit not being close enough to understand what has happened with Croydon council but I was saddened by the news as I am sure most old croydonians were.
How are the SDP making headway in Surrey, how have you been campaigning and what are your plans once we’re back to a more normal situation?
I only took on my role this summer so have not actually enjoyed a period of freedom to convene a meeting of existing members live so to speak and comms revolve around zoom calls . This is massively frustrating as it has been very difficult to make any headway. We are focused on getting some candidates out for the forthcoming Council elections in May and will be all guns blazing once we can get back to some form of normal. I think in common with most members of the party we believe we have a compelling message but as we get so little coverage progress is painfully slow.
We have made ourselves busy in objecting to Surrey County Council’s bid to get rid of the 11 district and borough councils to create one mega unitary authority. Too big and not accountable.
What are the local issues you think the party can make headway on in Surrey?
Surrey is very Conservative, all 11 constituencies are viewed as safe seats so we are under no illusion that we have an uphill battle. That said I feel there are a great number of disillusioned Tory voters who would certainly feel comfortable our policies and I think a number of people vote Lib Dem thinking they are centrist when on many issues they clearly aren’t. Housing and Transport are the big two. Its impossible for young couples to get onto the housing ladder and our solution is to dust off the concept of council housing which worked well for decades but then became ideologically unacceptable. We would also nationalise the railways its expensive and not very good and every Surrey commuter we feel would happily encourage a complete rethink.
If you could introduce two big changes Surrey and two nationally what would they be?
Only two? In Surrey as mentioned above, we must resolve the housing issues and make public transport more affordable and efficient, it should be our jewel in the crown.
Nationally, lets go big, proportional representation and abolish the house of lords. The people of this country will not get the government it needs and deserves under the current archaic system.
Are there any thoughts you would like to leave our readers with?
Wow, haven’t I said enough. Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist, which I am not. We need to be very alive to the creeping globalism of huge tech firms, big pharma , vested interest and a political elite who seem to forget they are accountable to the people who put hem there. Brexit was a fantastic reminder of this, forgetting the EU for a minute, it was the British people saying Oy! This is not what we want! That however was the start of a bigger fight to defend democracy not the finish as we found out.
Learning the lessons of EU membership we must not sleepwalk into a situation where we find that our views and our vote no longer count.