Chris has declared the major political parties not fit for purpose, and says the country is desperately missing a party, one that is more patriotic and genuinely at the service of ordinary people rather than themselves. Many of you will remember Chris from when he was the Vote Leave lead in Croydon South during the referendum.
The Foundation Party is a long-term project for building a serious platform for clear patriotic principles for like-minded individuals who believe that our country can do so much better.
Chris thank-you for agreeing to this interview.
What first got you involved in politics?
The EU referendum. A choice between one direction or another was never clearer. Having adopted a strongly held view – to leave – the permanent nature of the referendum result compelled me to act. Over an eight month period I campaigned on the ground running street stalls, knocking on doors and holding public meetings to persuade others to vote to leave. It was clearly a rare opportunity, possibly the only opportunity, to activate the railroad switch for changing the track on which our country runs in this regard,
from the wrong one to the right one.
I was, and still am, emphatically unpersuaded by the necessity of our membership of the European Union. And when the primary argument made for voting for something does not revolve around the merits of that something, but the exaggerated-for-effect demerits of not voting for it, then that argument is an inherently weak and unpersuasive argument by default, in my opinion.
‘Project Fear’, the Remain campaign’s desperate ultra-cynical strategy of scaring as many people as possible into submission – watching it on television but also seeing the impact on the ground, the real fright affected upon some people whom I
encountered – shocked me.
And so it was and is the unhealthy state of our politics that has drawn me in. The gross irresponsibility and lack of leadership from people too cowardly to present an argument on its own merit, at the expense of ethics and more constructive discourse that in the end sinks us all, must be challenged.
For as long as open, calm and confident civilised debate is absent from our politics, we will forever move at a snail’s pace, if at all, towards forming any form of meaningful consensus around serious progressive change of any kind.
What campaigns have you been involved in?
The campaign I remain most proud of has been the most important campaign so far, the Leave campaign for Croydon. Week after week we distributed information and made the pro-Brexit argument in favour of national self-government and a
More recently however, my new party, the Foundation Party, is at the very beginning of its journey. We took part in the Local Elections 2019. It was a mixed occasion for us featuring both wins and defeats. But the highlight was the election of Foundation Party Councillor Peter Harris in Tendring, Essex, where we topped the poll collecting the same number of votes as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats combined. Hearing this result announced live on LBC was quite a buzz!
Prior to forming a new party, I volunteered at a senior level for UKIP working with the then party leadership. I thought at the time it might be a party that could push on and advance a much-needed political reform agenda. But in the end, it showed itself plainly to have no such potential.
What do you think is next for Brexit?
From where we are now, leaving the EU without a deal is the
The outgoing Prime Minister’s “withdrawal agreement” violates the result of the referendum. The big print says “we are leaving”, while the small print says “we may not be leaving, it depends”. The UK would require the EU’s permission to annul the agreed “backstop” and leave the EU completely, which after a historic nation-wide majority voted to leave and “take back control”, is one of the greatest civilised insults from politicians to
the people anywhere at any time.
Regardless as to what happens outside the Conservative Party, Brexit is eventually resolved from inside the Conservative Party.
Brexit in the end is not about cargo, but constitution. We voted for our industries, our public services and our democracy to operate within a free, independent and self-governing country. We must leave the European Union. And the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, in the event of failing to secure a better deal, must take us out without a deal and show the same degree of courage as the people who voted for it.
What surprised you most about getting actively involved in politics?
The capacity of the individual to make a difference. Having your say and helping to one extent or another is more possible than one might think.
If you could introduce or repeal 3 laws, other than for Brexit. What would they be?
So many to choose from! OK, here are my chosen three…
Top of my list of priorities is the introduction of a new completely codified constitution, similar to that of France and the United States, with explicit guarantees of independence and self-government, enforced by the Supreme Court, changeable only by a direct mandate from the people expressed via a referendum. This would help prevent temporarily elected politicians from permanently trading away our nation’s sovereignty, slowly over many years, without the proper transparency or authority from the people.
I would repeal the current ban on grammar schools and encourage the establishment of new such schools throughout the country. There is no greater gift given to academically gifted children from poorer backgrounds in particular, than granting them access to an elite standard of education. It is a shameful social injustice that this education is currently available only to much wealthier families who can afford to live in the few very expensive-to-live areas that have them.
And for my third choice I could have chosen a radical tax reform policy I have in mind, or the power decentralisation agenda that I strongly believe in – details of which can be found on our party’s website – however I’m going to stick with cleaning
I would legislate to cap donations to political parties from any one individual or organisation at £20,000 per year. As a voluntary measure this is the Foundation Party’s highly principled policy and it is hard-coded in our constitution. We reject the murky pattern of every major political party where rich individuals make huge donations in return for unjust and undemocratic influence over the party and our democracy.
Addressing the question of party funding is just one of the many aspects of the political reform agenda, and our party is determined to campaign for real action towards rebuilding our broken democracy. The career politicians won’t do it, so we the people must.
What do you see as your parties route to electoral success?
The key to obtaining popular support on the one hand and votes for winning an election in a given area on the other, are clearly two distinct objectives that need to be appreciated separately. In the age of social media, it is all too common to get carried away and mistakenly conclude that ‘likes’ and ‘re-tweets’ will carry a candidate
to electoral victory.
We will focus relentlessly on building relationships with people on the ground in local communities, listen to their concerns, listen to their worries, help them where we can, offer our thoughts on matters big and small, and see if we can build partnerships and, in time, lead a movement towards radical change that could change our
country for the better.
Our mission is to campaign for greater accountability of the state and greater power and control for ordinary citizens.
Control, control, control. It is the sexiest word in politics today. No one is voting for less of it. And future elections will be won, not by parties that pledge the same old recycled notions of grand design where government is the answer to every problem and the source of every opportunity, but by parties that offer to transfer economic and political power and decision-making downwards to local communities, individuals and families.
This agenda touches on a range of issues such as freeing the country from the intrusive and democracy-diluting EU super state, cleaning up Westminster and making it more accountable, reducing the scope of national government and increasing that of local government, greater parent choice in the education system, greater patient choice within the healthcare system, simpler and lower taxes so we keep more of our own money, and constitutional protection for rights such as freedom of speech which is, shockingly, well and
truly, under attack.
This is a message and a policy platform that I am very excited about. There is a different way of doing things outside the tired and out-dated mantra of the major political parties. And in the years to come, we’ll see how well they cope when the people rightly come knocking and insist on depending less on them, and instead, demand the proper power and control to improve their own lives for themselves.
Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling was interviewied on Spunik Radio about Theresa May’s Brexit bill and the pressure she is under to resign following negative feedback from her fellow MPs on her amended deal.
“I can’t see how they can replace her with anyone but a true Brexiteer; someone who hasn’t supported the withdrawal agreement, someone who isn’t in the Cabinet”
“I don’t think you could get a cigarette paper between the Lib-Lab-Con; they are all anti democrats and they all need to go”
About 10 years ago on holiday in New York I saw a bus advert
which claimed hundreds of thousands of people were homeless in New York. “I vote made up”, I remarked to the person I
was travelling with. They weren’t
convinced and said that the people behind the advert can’t have just made the
number. I did some basic maths and
believed that the number they had advertised meant every street would have
about 50 homeless people on it. Since we hadn’t yet seen anyone homeless
and had been in New York a few days it seemed unlikely the number could be
real. They still weren’t convinced. When we got back to the hotel I looks up the
advert details, which sadly I can’t now find, but I remember the word homeless
included people in homes. Homeless for
this advert (although not mentioned on the advert), included people in
temporary accommodation, people with housing insecurity (whatever that means),
and it even included some people in a home just waiting for a new one!
Looking for the advert mentioned above I discovered an article in the Huffington Post which started in New York “Roughly 1 in 10 children attending the city’s public schools are homeless”. This came out at a staggering 114,659 children. The same internet search showed a more widely accepted figure of 60,000 homeless in New York as a whole. Somehow almost twice this number were homeless in public schools alone, clearly someone needed to go back to the classroom. The article gets around this little discrepancy by including the temporarily housed. This new category included people in domestic abuse shelters, hotels, and homes of other family members. Whilst these arrangements may be far from idea they are not homeless. Fixing the problem of homelessness probably starts by not making up the numbers.
The article refers to The Director of Public Health Annual Report for Croydon. The 54 page report mentions ‘poverty’ 16 times, yet extraordinarily doesn’t bother to define it. A dictionary definition of poverty is “the state of being extremely poor”. That we have over 1000 children in families who are extremely poor would be an outrage, if it was believable. To be extremely poor, you presumably don’t have a home, but these children and their families aren’t homeless. Indeed assuming Croydon falls in line with national averages there are a number of ways these families which represent aren’t extremely poor:
98% of families own washing machines something my family didn’t have for much of my childhood.
93% 15 year olds own a smart phone, is that extremely poor?
86% of homes have central heating, again something not common as recently as the 1980s.
How can they be extremely poor and have more
facilities than their parents, and many more than the middle class in their
Of course despite not defining it, I suspect the report
refers to relative poverty. Relative
poverty tends to refer to someone on less than 60% of median
income. They are considered
in poverty because they cannot access activities and opportunities that average
earners can. In Britain the 5th
richest nation on earth, where GDP per capita is about 20th or
almost 200 nations, relative poverty is not poverty in any meaningful sense and
average opportunities give a lifestyle far above average in any meaningful sense.
The report for the local council goes onto give examples
like “more than a 1,000 babies born each year may be touched by the effects of
poverty in their early years” without defining what this means. It states “there were 864 Croydon children or
expected children living in temporary accommodation”, again this probably not
good, but it’s also not defined, temporary could mean almost anything.
The report also gives some rather meaningless statements
like “adverse childhood experience can be anything from growing up in a crowded
house to experiencing a trauma”. Suddenly
poverty gets linked to anything from having a few siblings to a trauma like
having close relative pass away. Neither
of which are anything to do with poverty, or things we can fix. The statics and numbers are meaningless,
bringing up children in poor circumstances is a problem. This report is in one London borough, but its
essence is repeated time and time again.
Help should be targeted at those most in need, but can this be done, if
problems are exaggerated to the point of meaningless?
“‘food insecurity’ is a meaningless
phase use to describe anything and everything they want, except an actual lack
This however is against a backdrop of continued strong
economic figures with higher
inward investment, lower
unemployment and higher
GDP than the Eurozone. How can these
two sets of data coexist? Once again the
‘left wing’ statistic don’t require the economy to have gone backwards, or performed
worse than comparable economies. It simply
requires the economy to have not performed as well as the numbers these left
leaning ‘experts; had decided on.
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” today have an
overwhelming source, from people whose politics, are to tax you more, control you
more, give away our national sovereignty, and with it your democratic rights. Whilst they also want to make sure you are
scared of an impending environmentally and economic doom. This group I have called the ‘left’, maybe
the paternalist or globalists, is a term you prefer. Whatever you call them, once they start quoting
numbers, you can be damned sure truth has just walked out the room.
At a recent political debate I attended, someone who had
campaigned in the Newport West by –election stated that Labour had won the
election due to people being fed up with austerity. At first this sounded wrong. What austerity? Despite the media and politicians saying
otherwise we have been deficit spending since the start of the century, it’s
hard to see how people can be fed up with something that hasn’t happened.
On reflection I realised of course he was right, or in a
way both right and wrong. He had been in
Newport, spoke with the locals, and of course despite their Brexit, and
leadership troubles Labour had indeed won.
We still hadn’t had any austerity, but people believed and felt we
had. Labour and an increasingly
socialist Conservative Party had captured the language to lead people to
believe government was cutting back spending.
The feelings were real, the economic blight was real enough, but the
cause was misplaced.
A few weeks earlier on his LBC show Iain Dale had made me realise a problem we classical liberals face. He had said that a problem Labour faced was they were not making the positive case, rather always a negative one. I believe that is also a problem for the right. The misdiagnosis of austerity, linked with the lack of a positive case for freedom being put. The people of Newport West were suffering, they were suffering from not having a decent pay rise in a dozen years. They were suffering from a lack of new enterprises to replace the heavy industry they had lost. They were suffering from increasingly unaffordable housing now on average £187k compared to an average salary of £22k. They were also suffering from public services under increased strain, due to poor planning, bad spending decisions, and trying to be all things to all people.
The problems the people of Newport faced were not due to
lack of government but due to too much of it.
If a positive case could be made for how less government would improve
their lives, what might it be?
Simply saying we have austerity, makes people think of terrific strain on our public services. There have been cutbacks, but many areas like schools and hospitals have continued to receive increased funds. Indeed the NHS is on course to receive even more than the extra £350 million a week made famous from the Vote Leave campaign. As a school governor I see in the last couple of years as public sector pay has increased, schools struggled, until funding caught up. In the years since the recession, spending and standards have continued to increase. School still have had money, they especially have had cash to target at their most disadvantaged pupils.
A positive case for some actual austerity
A positive case can be made for some actual austerity. Continued government borrowing sucks money out of the productive economy. People and organisations with money, will simply lend it to government rather than an investment to start a small business. A positive case might be that cutting back on government bright ideas for change, would allow front line staff to get on with their jobs. These cost reductions in consultants and ‘change agents’ will in turn reduce the borrowing requirement and lead to more investment being available to the private sector. Anything government does is forced on the payee and often the user of the service, anything the private sector does is your choice to pay for and use, or not.
“not issuing work permits to anyone who wants one, would see a constrained
Government enthusiasm for immigration, has seen a major
increase in the working population. As
the number of jobs have grown wages haven’t increased. In fact as concerns over Brexit have reduced
immigration levels, wages have started to rise.
Real pay rises come from increased productivity. A positive case for government doing
nothing. Government just by simply not
issuing work permits to anyone who wants one, would see a constrained labour
force. Pay rates would increase, labour
costs would rise, so firms will invest in productivity, skill and automation,
rather than importing more cheap staff. Go to North America and serving staff in bars
and restaurants are skilled and decently paid.
That is because the owners can’t fill the roles with cheap imported
staff. That is an economy we used to
have here and could have once again.
Regulations discourage business growth
Many of the new skilled jobs will be created by new business opening new markets, and creating new ways of working. Why when the industrial heartland of Britain collapsed did many new companies not start up to employ the skilled workers now available? Government just makes it too damn hard. Regulations on everything from the colour of chopping boards to the power of vacuum cleaners stifle innovation. Regulations like the requirement to publish the gender pay gap when a company has more than 250 employees discourage business growth. Let’s follow the example of countries like New Zealand, which has been judged 1st in the rankings to do business, due to its ‘regulatory architecture, procedural ease, and absence of bureaucratic red tape’. Alongside Singapore (ranked 2) and Denmark (3) these are hardly countries in a race to the bottom on safety and standards. New enterprises lead to new opportunities, competition for the skills of people and the chance for people to choose new careers.
“build enough homes for everyone, not just the selective groups,
government deem worthy”
Housing regulations in the country have led to a perfect storm of high prices, too few properties, and an increase in expensive dormitory flats with ghost towns around them. Where are the homes for new families? Where are the new communities? A massive deregulation of the housing market is needed. Let people build reasonably sized properties on land they own. Make them contain the services like car parking the homes need and contribute for general public servers. In exchange remove the burden of so called ‘affordable homes’ that has led to poor doors being installed in so many new developments. Housing will become affordable when we can respond to population changes, and free the market to build enough homes for everyone, not just the selective groups that the government deem worthy of so called ‘affordable’ properties.
“We are spending money on things people don’t want and not on what they do want”
Public services matter to people. We have rising crime, fewer police and an overseas aid budget greater than our police budget. The National Education Union says that the Government has cut £2.8bn from England’s schools. Whilst I might question the validity of these so called ‘cuts’. Almost 3 years after voting to leave the EU we are still contributing £9 billion a year net. We could simply reclaim and reassign. The Government says HS2 will cost £55.7 billion to build, whilst only £25.5 billion is being spent on all major road over 5 years. We are spending money on things people don’t want and not on what they do want. A clear positive case could be made to stop spending on things we don’t want, return half the money to the taxpayer, and spend half on projects popular with the people. Government can’t be all things to all people home and abroad, it should simply do less and do it better.
Those of us who are classical liberals, libertarians, free marketers, or whatever name you choose, need to put a case to voters who are to the economical left of us, that less government will improve their lives. Less government spending will free up money for investment, less regulation will mean more affordable housing, more job opportunities, more career choices and together with controlled immigration, higher wages. Finally, the public services people care about will be freed from constant interference, receive increased funding, all whilst more money is put back into wage earners pockets.