The Social Democratic Party (SDP) is standing candidates across London in May’s local elections. We spoke with Les Beaumont who is standing for them in the Pitshanger Ward, London Borough of Ealing.
Les thank-you for your time.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
I joined the SDP a couple of years ago, shortly after I sold my contract cleaning business and retired. I live in the ward in which I am standing for local councillor. Free from vested interests, the Social Democratic Party seeks the common good in Britain’s national interest. We represent neither capital nor labour, not private industry nor the public sector, but only the welfare of the British people and residents of these islands.
You’re standing in the Pitshanger Ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
The ward is predominately made up of owner-occupied and privately rented properties with a social housing estate on its western border. As a local resident with no allegiance to the three largest parties, my objective would be to ensure that the council addresses the issues of the people that I represent, be they property owners, private tenants or living in social housing.
More widely what would you like to see change at Ealing Council and across the borough?
When I speak to people in my local area, these are the main issues most frequently raised:
a) Overdevelopment. Ealing Council has approved and continues to approve, planning applications for high-rise developments that are totally inappropriate to the local area. Some local people say that Ealing Labour councillors appear to have too close a relationship with the main housing developers in the borough.
b) Fly-Tipping. It is far too difficult and expensive to dispose of waste in the borough and the council closed one of its two waste & recycling centres last year.
c) Car Crime. There is an epidemic of catalytic converter theft in the borough.
d) Swimming Pools. Ealing Council closed our local swimming pool during the pandemic and then failed to re-open it with the intention of redeveloping the site with massive high-rise tower blocks.
e) Council Waste. Like many boroughs controlled by Labour, Ealing Council wastes a lot of money on schemes introduced for ideological or party-political reasons that do not benefit the majority of the community.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
The SDP website is the major resource for our policies and to find out what we stand for. You can also follow the SDP on Facebook and the London branch on Twitter.
With local elections fast approaching in London, we interview Laurence Williams the SDP candidate for Sidcup Ward the London Borough of Bexley.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your party?
I have re-joined the SDP as a result of appearing at the Croydon Constitutionalist hustings in February ’22. The SDP are my political awakening Party from 1981, and I should have remained with them through thick and thin. They are enjoying a good resurgence now thanks to the usual LibLabCon hegemony. This is my 10th local election since 1990!
You’re standing in Sidcup Ward in the London Borough of Bexley, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
I am standing in the LB of Bexley’s Sidcup Ward and hope to bring a bit of ‘Zazz’ to our local politics by breaking the cosy tory family affair here!
More widely what would you like to see change at Bexley council and across the borough?
I would like to see our available housing stock properly utilised across Bexley and an end to the scar of foodbanks and poverty in general!
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the recent London Mayoral candidate for the SDP, and Scott Neville, the Co-Founder of the Hampshire Independents, as we discuss the lack of an effective opposition to the current Government and where a future opposition might come from.
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?
We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the London Mayoral Candidate for the SDP, as we discuss the opening of Beer Gardens, the London and local election campaigns and the nominations in the 5 Croydon Council By-Elections. We then chat with Steve about the SDP, his Mayoral campaign and his Vision for London.
We are joined by Ian Woodley, the SDP organiser for Surrey, as we discuss the Covid Vaccine Rollout, the Biden Inauguration and the Government’s Levelling Up Agenda. We then chat with Ian about the SDP and their plans in Surrey..
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.
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.