The party was founded in 2009, and campaigns for a minimal state, free markets, decentralization of political power, and direct democracy. It rejects nationalism, racism and any kind of anti-democratic politics.
Whilst the PDV doesn’t have any representatives in the Regional Parliaments or Bundestag they have won elections to local councils.
We interviewed their party leader Friedrich Dominicus, who we are grateful for being able to do this in English.
Could you in a couple of sentences tell our readers about the party?
What are the main issues in Germany you campaign on, what gets Libertarians excited?
Very simple overall: Less government and especially a sound money system.
“We are against the Euro because we want sound money and competition among diverse currencies as espoused by Hayek“
What’s your party’sview of the EU and the Euro?
Critical against European Union, but we are for free trade worldwide. We are against the Euro because we want sound money and competition among diverse currencies as espoused by Hayek.
Germany has seen a rapid rise in immigration in recent years, what’s your party’s view on this and what’s your policy going forward?
We are for controlled but quite open borders. The main point with us is that no-one should have to pay mandatory for immigrants.. If they cannot care for themselves, they should have to find some warrantor(s) for that.
“We are very fond of Brexit and do envy the British quite a bit about it. We’re the only party in Germany which really want to end this kind of European Union”
The UK has now left the EU and is due to finally fully transition out at the end of the year, how does your party view Brexit?
We are very fond of Brexit and do envy the British quite a bit about it. We’re the only party in Germany which really want to end this kind of European Union. We do want free trade and the allowance that anyone can offer his manpower in all the countries. We also are for free choice of the right of domicile.
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?
Well we are a very small party and so we have to go online. Yes we have some interesting stories, but they are not short ones ?.
What’s your party’splan for fighting elections and getting the message of liberty out to the electorate?
As always, we point out where the problems are and what comes from following social democratic ways. But liberty is simply not a volitional goal for too many Germans even though we had Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor.
If you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?
We are joined by Harry Fone, the Grassroots Campaign Manager at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, as we discuss ideas for a Post Lockdown economic recovery, the TPA’s Town Hall Rich List and their Axe the Tax campaign to scrap the BBC Licence fee. We then chat with Harry about his role at the TPA, his campaigning experiences and current and future TPA campaigns.
We discuss the Government’s COVID Lockdown Exit Criteria and the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s latest Town Hall Rich List. We then have an interview with David Kurten, the Brexit Alliance GLA Member and London Mayoral candidate. David shares his views on; the COVID Lockdown, Mayor Khan, Woke Culture & Brexit as well as discussing his upcoming campaign.
Mary Lawes is a Councillor for the Folkestone Harbour Ward of Folkestone Town Council retaining her seat at the last election. Mary a founding member of the Foundation Party a pro-Brexit party that promotes freedom of opportunity for individual self-advancement, free markets for businesses, freedom for citizens to more adequately hold politicians to account, and the unrestricted freedom of speech.
Mary thanks for your time.
You have been a Councillor for almost 5 years, tell us about your area and what it’s like being a councillor?
My ward is the third most deprived area in the district of Folkestone and Hythe. It nestles in the most wonderful environment by the sea. My ward is based around Folkestone Harbour and the Warren. The ward is kind of split in two where we have areas of poor quality council and private housing on one side, the other side is private family housing. Within my community are a number of community groups which bring us all together as one. There are many diverse issues as a councillor, with some hard to deal with and other that are very rewarding. I am very determined and passionate about my work with and for the community.
What are the big challenges facing Folkestone, what’s going well and what needs help in the town?
The big challenges facing Folkestone, are health, housing, employment and drugs. Over the last 10 years private housing has been built on a vast scale, but are the wrong type of housing and are way beyond the majority of residents means. Locally most, of our high streets are diminishing. The consequences at present are that they have created working poor. With the major chains leaving the high street, this has left low paid jobs like restaurants, pound shops and call centres. The landscape has changed drastically with the seafront development and the creative quarter (arts). Lots of people have moved down to Folkestone mainly from London. Together these have put Folkestone and the harbour area on the map. But unfortunately this has done nothing to help the locals who are being squeezed out by the ever increasing property values.
You are a founding member of the Foundation Party. What made you get involved and what do you see as the key principles and purpose of the party?
I was a member of UKIP up until 2018. I felt UKIP was going in a different direction at that time. It was not a direction I believed in or wished to pursue. I felt that the main parties did not speak for me and found parliament were not listening to the people. I felt that parliament seemed totally out of touch with the people as regards its membership of the EU. I had worked with Chris Mendes our leader and the other founding members of Foundation Party in UKIP, and had formed a good bond with them. In your introduction, you have stated our parties main priorities. Our key priorities are empowering the individuals, families and community. For example, we want to devolve power from parliament to communities. Communities must be able to plan how their own communities evolve, grow and prosper while keeping the environment safe, healthy and inclusive.
We have now left the EU and are now in the transition period. Do you expect us to get a free trade deal with the EU, and what policies do you hope are pursued once we are fully out of the EU?
We have left the EU but I have concerns about the type of transition deals that are still to be agreed. I sincerely hope that there are no delays to the transition period. The major upheaval of the last four years in our parliament and the monumental win for conservatives on 12 December 2019. The Conservatives taking vast amounts of votes off Labour voters was a tidal wave in politics. I do expect the UK to get a free trade deal with the EU when we leave. Even more so since the coronavirus pandemic was called. The 27 EU countries have closed their borders and turned to national safe guarding following those in Brussels reluctant to help. Free Trade will benefit both sides of the deal and will allow Europe and ourselves to work together. There is a close bond and Europeans are our friends, families and colleagues.
We are in the period of the Covid-19 crisis. What are your thoughts on how this has been handled so far?
I have a mixed opinion of the government’s handling of the pandemic. They came straight out and seemed like they had a good handle on the situation. They straightway started talking about throwing large amounts of money at the problem. Then the cracks started showing. Insufficient PPE for front line staff, insufficient ventilators and funding for furlough staff not getting through quick enough. The longer our economy is on hold the harder it will be when it does start up. The economic impact and implications are going to hit the country very hard. The lockdown has been hard on people yet necessary to reduce the spread. I however do not believe the police have responded very well. They have been heavy handed in their approach and have not followed the guidelines. Giving police too much power can be a dangerous thing, especially when laws have not be approved and no proper scrutiny has taken place. This Covid-19 is unprecedented and different to anything we know. I will for now support the government but will continue to criticise, if I feel free speech and our civil rights get eroded any further.
The implications from Covid-19 could be wide reaching. Less tax collection, not enough employers, not enough big employers, insufficient employment and severe lack of the voluntary sector. The government and business must not be allowed to see this crisis as an opportunity to reduce wages and must protect civil liberties. The voluntary sector was mostly made up of retired volunteers. There could be a vast shortage going forward. Over the last forty years the voluntary sector have taken up the slack for numerous areas the government and councils have stopped providing. The voluntary sector have had to take up the slack for mental health, food banks, hospital service for patients nursery and early learning and other areas. Society will face problems, if these areas are not in place.
Once this current crisis is finally over what do you think may have changed and what do you think the government should focus on to aid the recovery?
Obviously the first thing that must be done is to get the economy going again. Employment will be a top priority. Massive investment to create industry once again in our country. This crisis has shown how much we rely on other countries to provide us with for example ventilators, PPE and food. We must as a country going forward be able to stand on our own two feet. We must not be beholding to others outside of the UK who can control what we get and how much we get. This country was known the world over for its innovation and creativity. We then became a service industry and lost our fishing and farming rights. This must be reversed once we are fully out of EU.
You have stood in a number of elections for UKIP and the Foundation party. Do you have any funny or memorable tales from the campaign trail?
I can say that the campaigns I have been involved in, certainly brings you to the reality of what you have taken on. I never planned to be a councillor, it kind of happened when I joined UKIP. My colleague had a mobile trailer for advertising which he said we could use during a campaign. So we had a trailer with a high board with an enlarge size poster, which had our faces on. We had so many people contacting us laughing saying they had seen us in Herne Bay or Stone Street or Canterbury. The driver lived in these communities and did not cover or change the board while going home. It became a joke as to where the trailer may appear next in Kent.
Your party is now focusing on the 2021 (which will include the 2020) local elections. What’s you sales pitch to our readers on why people should vote, campaign, join or even run for you?
‘The people are the masters not the servants’. We want the people to be in charge of their own destinations . We believe in people and want to empower them. We are listening to what our communities want. I am standing for Kent County Council Election next year. On our website we set out our priorities in areas that will affect local communities such as education, health, crime and justice, transport and the environment. I am very proactive in my community where I live. Myself and the Foundation Party will represent the people to the best of our ability and will always put them first.
John Broadfoot is a familiar face on the campaign trail in Croydon. John has been an active participant in many Conservative campaigns, was a regular campaigner with us during the EU referendum and subsequently delivering Leave Means Leave leaflets. A resident of Shirley, John worked for Shell UK OIL for 33 years and now runs the rugby charity SOS Kit Aid.
John thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
You have campaigned in a number of elections, what first got you involved in political campaigning?
I reached the age of 62 in early 2010 and suddenly realised that I didn’t want to spend my next ten years on this planet under a Labour Govt! Though I am a Capitalist at heart, sometimes I have Socialist Capitalist leanings when I read for example Amazon/Google /Apple are avoiding massive UK taxes. But socialists are always hopeless at running the economy and always run out of money, leaving huge debts/deficits that have to be repaid (Healey/Brown etc). So I decided I ought to play an active part in making sure this didn’t happen and the fact that Croydon Central was a real marginal made it all the more meaningful. I then got really interested in the Westminster bubble and how the world’s oldest democracy really works. Brexit proved that it is not at all fit for purpose when a majority Remainer Parliament can completely disregard the democratic votes of a Leave UK.
Do you have any interesting memories or stories from the campaign trail?
I found canvassing door to door very enjoyable and rewarding. It was very refreshing to see people quite happy to talk about issues though it was also disheartening to see many people not being interested in the future of their country at all. It should be compulsory to vote by law as in Australia.
I also remember being with Gavin Barwell at his by election count in 2015 when it was 5am in the morning, we were on our 5th exciting, nervous, recount , but emerged victorious with a huge majority of….. 165 – then exhaustion took over!!
What struck you most about the EU Referendum campaign how did it differ from party politics you have been involved in?
As an ardent Brexiteer it amazed me how seemingly intelligent people regardless of party so undervalued/missed the importance of basic democracy – having 100% UK laws made by 100% UK accountable MPs. Remainers were quite happy apparently to have many UK laws made by unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. What happened if an unelected Trump like figure ran the EU – you would be powerless – you cannot remove someone you didn’t vote for. Control of your population numbers is logistical not political. You cannot plan future long-term infrastructure like hospitals, roads, schools etc if you don’t know your future population numbers. With freedom of movement you cannot plan properly because you have no idea of these future numbers. When you build a boat a vital component is knowing how many people it will carry. I could not comprehend how Intelligent people do not realise the importance of democracy and population control – neither of which are political they are basic human rights. One size does not fit all but you can still have very, very close cooperation on the environment, security, sciences, education etc – you don’t need to be married!
What are your hopes now for Brexit?
Providing we get a proper exit and a future trade agreement with the EU, the UK will positively boom outside of the EU – making its own trade deals with the 90% of world trade outside of the declining EU. Democracy will return to the UK ,as the EU becomes increasingly more federal, which will inevitably decline as people on the continent realise that one size does not fit all and that countries like Greece and Germany are just too different to run as one. They will see a democratic UK booming outside of the EU and will want to exit too.
One area we differ on is the threat of Global Warming. As believers in free speech, we want to give you the chance to say what you think the country should be doing now on environmental policy?
The virus will pass and we will be better equipped in the future for sure but the biggest threat to the world without question is global warming – climate change. We need a global approach to climate change but as two of the world’s biggest most powerful countries are dictatorships you will never get a global approach. Plus you have an American President in Trump who is a complete climate change denier. Who will be the first USA President on a four year term telling USA voters that they must switch off their air conditioning and drive smaller cars long term. USA is 3-4% of the world’s population but burn 25% of the world’s energy. Can you imagine when India/China want energy parity ? India would have an additional 200 million cars to match USA ownership. So the UK can only do what is within its control and we are showing world leadership.
You set-up your rugby charity following a trip to Romania. What drove you to do this, and can you tell us a bit about the charity?
One half of the world throws away things that the other disadvantaged half wants/needs. SOS Kit Aid collects good condition second hand/new rugby kit no longer wanted by UK schools, rugby clubs, kit manufacturers and other sporting bodies like the RFU/WRU etc. This is because kit is grown out of, sponsors are frequently changed, kit manufacturers have unsold outdated old stock – yet the kit is in great condition and but for SOS all this unwanted kit would end up needlessly in scarce UK/Irish landfill sites. SOS has distributed over £6 million pounds worth of kit to a quarter of a million disadvantaged youngsters in 44 countries around the world. We have saved 250 tonnes of kit being disposed of and we have saved over 750 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions because new kit does not need to be manufactured – our SOS kit replaces it. SOS has proudly won three environmental awards and four social inclusion awards.
What do you see as the future work of SOS KIT AID?
Our SOS blueprint has been tried and tested over 18 years and we know would work for all other sports, plus other items like furniture, cycles, computers, books etc. The International Olympic Committee have recognised this and are considering launching it across all Olympic sports. We estimate over a million pounds worth of rugby kit is thrown away every year – we are still hardly touching the surface!
How can people help out?
Simply by volunteering via our website www.soskitaid.com. If you have commercial storage available free of charge or can offer low cost/free transport -please contact us !
Lastly we have a fairly new government, one you helped campaign for. What do you hope to see from Boris over the next few years?
Simply organise a successful, exciting, Brexit that enables a free ,democratic, entrepreneurial UK to thrive throughout the world and restore accountability/democracy back to the UK. But also to work incredibly closely with our close European partners. Much reform needed to Westminster – both the House of Lords and the House of Commons – both too dated and currently not fit for purpose. Ensure that MPs know they are delegates who do the bidding of their constituency/party voters , carry out the promises of their manifesto on which they were elected and not just whatever they fancy once they have been elected – it’s called democracy and the power of the people!
In 1981 the Gang of Four founded the SDP and it exploded onto the British Political scene. Following the merger with the Liberal Party in 1988 the SDP still continued. Led by William Clouston it is a pro-Brexit party, with some high profile supporters that include former UKIP MEP and Political Editor of the Daily Express Patrick O’Flynn and former Today Editor Rod Liddle. The Croydon Constitutionalists had Kent SDP candidate Richard Plackett speak at our Debate for Democracy in April 2019.
We speak to one of the SDP’s London team Andrew Bence about the Party, Brexit, and current events.
Andrew thank-you for your time.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in politics?
That well-worn and variously attributed quote that goes something like “Any man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; any man who is still a socialist at 40 has no head” applies to me.
In 1976, I joined the Labour Party. I was 16, a reader of the Guardian and the New Statesman, marching to Ban the Bomb, Rock Against Racism and free Nelson Mandela. But the ‘Labour Party Young Socialists’ were fast becoming the foot soldiers of the Militant Tendency – the Momentum of their day. My first doubts surfaced around this time.
I remember suggesting to LPYS comrades that we have a debate, in order to thrash out the arguments for and against the ‘Gang of Four’. Unfortunately, none of my comrades could imagine there being any arguments in support of those traitors Owen, Jenkins, Williams and Rodgers. So I found myself having to make their case. Nobody was convinced.
My membership lapsed and my doubts increased. I remember admiring Kinnock’s ‘I warn you’ conference speech, while finding the trade union leadership of the miners strike and its ‘scab-taunting’ rhetoric much less appealing. Later, after the great promise of the mid 1990s, I was deeply disappointed by the smug and complacent managerialism of Blair and Brown. Theirs, it seems to me, was the greatest political missed opportunity of our times. By 2010, I had stopped voting Labour.
The EU referendum was a catalyst for me, as for so many others. Finding myself in favour of leaving – unlike most of my fellow middle-class, educated, Londoners – I was forced to pay close attention to the reasons for this disjunction. The very shape of politics at national level, usually so slow to change, was by now buckling under the pressure. The re-emergence of the Social Democratic Party was a product of those shifting tectonic plates, prompting me to become politically active for the first time in 30 years.
For our readers who don’t know much about the SDP tell us about the party?
You could be forgiven for thinking the SDP, formed by those four breakaway Labour MPs in 1981, had disappeared long ago, subsumed into what became the Liberal Democrats. In fact, a tiny group kept it going, albeit in near-total obscurity. During this time they developed the party’s communitarian, Eurosceptic philosophy. Brexit shone a light on that USP, and we remain the only pro-Brexit party on the centre-left.
The EU aside, it’s our communitarianism that distinguishes us from Liberal Democrats. For liberals, it’s all about individual rights. They have lost sight of the importance of the group to the individual. So liberals are not really interested in community, not really that interested in family, and there’s a huge hostility to the nation state. We, however, think that the nation is where you convene to do things like the National Health Service, and to look out for one another. The current coronavirus emergency exemplifies this. We’re red-and-blue centrists, if you like. But the blue bits are pretty blue and the red bits are pretty red.
In 2019 you stood for the SDP in Tottenham against among others David Lammy. How did you find the experience, did you get to meet the anti-democracy MP David and any funny stories from the campaign trail?
I’d only joined the party earlier in the year, so it was a quite surreal experience. With only a small London branch, its members scattered far and wide, we had to be realistic. This was always going to be about trying to raise the profile of the party rather than seriously challenging the incumbent in one of Labour’s safest seats. Even that proved difficult. So safe a seat was it, that Lammy spent most of the campaign away up north, in a futile attempt to prop up the Labour vote there. At the one hustings to take place in Tottenham, only the three main party candidates were invited. I spoke briefly from the floor. It proved to be my one and only campaign ‘speech’. The enduring memory of the campaign has to be the drudgery of leafleting, made bearable by the kind support of a few stalwart colleagues.
Were you involved in the 2016 Referendum campaign and do you have any memories from then?
I didn’t campaign, but I was captivated by the debate. As a local authority worker, I had the chance to observe the vote at close quarters as, on the day itself, I was a poll clerk in one of the borough’s mobile polling stations. Ours was probably the quietest station in the borough, a two-both portacabin on a small housing estate. Even so, you sensed something monumental might be happening.
Many of us are still shocked at how many of the political and media class wanted to overturn the 2016 democratic vote of the people. What do you hope will shake out from the Brexit vote and the attempt to betray Democracy?
Previously unrecognised divisions were laid bare by Brexit, highlighting how out of touch the political class and elites generally had become. In the normal aftermath of such turbulence, the dust would by now be settling and a new political landscape emerging. But coronavirus has put paid to that. I don’t think anyone knows where we will be in, say, two years’ time. The one chink of light I can see is that wherever intelligent political conversations take place, communitarian ideas are now featuring front and centre.
Schadenfreude – how much did you enjoy the Illiberal Undemocrats failure at the last election?
Bigly, as the leader of the free world might say. I confess to doing a little jig when Swinson’s result came through. At the Tottenham hustings, I had gone round the room handing out my leaflets. All present accepted the offer graciously, all except the Liberal Democrat candidate’s two student lackeys. Refusing to take a leaflet, all they could muster were graceless sneers.
It’s difficult for smaller parties to make headway under first past the post. How do you see the SDP building support?
It’s going to be very difficult. Let’s assume, for all Starmer’s efforts, that Labour remains hopelessly out of touch, and likewise the Liberal Democrats. And that the Government comes through the coronavirus emergency mostly unscathed. In which case, an opposition-shaped hole remains.
For the SDP to fill it we first need to find several relatively high-profile SDP supporters willing to stand as candidates, in mayoral elections, by-elections and the like, giving us the publicity boost needed to get us off the launchpad. After that, the hard slog of local campaigning needs to be combined with energetic and media-savvy leadership of the highest order. Only then will the relevance of our values and policies begin to strike people.
If these were normal times, I’d be pessimistic about our chances. But these are not normal times. ‘Business as usual’ will no longer do in politics, and the so-called ‘culture war’ has only just begun, as those of us inclined to resist woke orthodoxy begin to get our act together. In short, I am optimistic that the SDP has a part to play in the future of centre-left politics in the UK.
If there were three policies you would like to pass now what would they be?
Creation of a National Care Service to organise social care and fund it once a recipient has reached an agreed ceiling for their own financial contributions.
Scrap HS2 and invest some of the freed-up funds to create a Great Northern Railway Network, better linking up the towns and cities of the North of England to unleash their joint potential.
Constitutional reform encompassing the creation of an English Parliament (outside London), the abolition of the House of Lords, and the introduction of Proportional Representation for all elections.
We are writing at the time of the Covid19 pandemic. Boris has a big majority, and once this is over, what would you like to see the government focus on?
That would depend on what state we’re in, economically and socially, by the time we’re through it. But clearly there will be lessons to learn, and perhaps even a once in a generation opportunity to think afresh about the kind of society we want to live in, and what it takes for that society to be sustainable. Unsurprisingly, I think the SDP can make a valuable contribution to that debate.
Any thoughts you would like to leave us with?
Thanks for this invitation, and congratulations on the Croydon Constitutionalists initiative. Among other things, Brexit taught us the value of essentially non-partisan grassroots activism and engagement such as yours.
With over 1.3 billion people and a GDP likely to overtake the UK’s in the next couple of years, India is a country we all need to take notice of.
An estimated 1.4 million British Indians live in the UK, and are classified as the largest visible ethnic group. With Brexit this is a huge market for Britain to trade with and with so many who are either Indian nationals or of Indian descent here, we have a huge opportunity.
speak to Nimit Shishodia about Indian politics and to get a flavour of the
Indian diaspora in the UK.
Nimit thanks for your time.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how
you came to be living and working in the UK?
I grew up in the suburbs of Delhi. After my engineering degree, I learnt
Japanese for two years. I was intended to go to Japan, but a Japanese company
in London had a requirement of bilingual network engineer and I landed in UK
and continued to stay here.
You have become engaged in UK politics and campaigned for Seena Shah the Conservative candidate for Brentford & Isleworth in GE2019. How did you get involved in that?
We, the Mangalam group met Seena in a pub during her campaign and she asked us for help and we decided to support her. I was the ward coordinator for Syon and Brentford. We have done canvassing, door to door flyer distribution and road shows, it was great experience to interact with general public as a Conservative campaigner. I found Conservative party members generous, to the group and decent people.
You’re involved in organising India festivals with Mangalam in Hounslow. How did that come about and what sort of events do you do?
Mangalam is a non-profit organisation based in West
London and we primarily do Holi (Color) and Diwali (Fireworks) in March and
I have joined the organisation in Oct 2018 and it has
been a great experience so far, with lot of community members and volunteers
Mangalam has exponentially grown in last year and supported politics.
Last year you were recognised by the High Commission
for helping clean-up the building. How did that come about?
We came to know about the mess created around the High Commission of India (HCI). The Indian diaspora decided not to retaliate in the same way we felt the Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) protestors did to the High Commission, instead we followed the Mahatama Gandhi’s way of peace – calling the whole act as Gandhigiri (the practice of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi). A lot joined on the day for the clean-up and we clearly sent the message out to the other side.
You have said before this was the first time you had
seen the diaspora of the various regions of India come together as one.
What do you think has changed?
I think it was about the country, when people saw what we felt was a threat from Pakistan and PoK protestors over Indian diaspora and HCI, London. People from all over the country united.
What was it like being in the High Commission and
most importantly did the High Commissioner serve Ferrero
We were treated well in the HCI and we have made so many contacts. Mangalam team was officially invited to dinner by a HCI Counsellor and our efforts were well respected and regarded by the Indian Government, making us feel proud. Time to time we are invited to various events at the HCI.
The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is in power in India and seem to be breaking the hold the Congress Party had for many years. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is depicted as a controversial figure over here, what are your thoughts on Modi?
Modi as a PM is a great leader for India, he thinks out
of box, work hard and committed to growth of country. He comes up with great ideas, but at times
with a poor execution plan.
How do you think the Indian diaspora in the UK generally view India’s domestic politics?
I feel the Indian Diaspora often get too involved in Indian politics, where as they should also indulge in UK politics, since we live here. 2019 is the first time I saw Indian diaspora supporting Conservatives at such scale, due to the Labour party’s anti-India propaganda.
Lastly with Britain having a more global focus away
from the EU, what do you see as the opportunities for our countries
collaboration over the coming decade?
UK as a country needs industries, small and bigger. With leaving the EU, this may be an opportunity to rebuild the country with a self-sufficient and self-sustainable model. I would really love to see British products exported all over the world, boosting the country’s economy.
Robert Ward Councillor for Selsdon and Addington Village, was first returned in local Croydon elections in 2018. He is a former engineer, decision analyst, and project manager. Robert wrote extensively for the now defunct Croydon Citizen, and is now writing for Conservative Home.
Robert thanks for your time.
Tell us a bit about your background.
My father was an electrician and my mother a school secretary. I’m the first in my family to go to university, or even be educated beyond the age of fifteen, thanks to the Butler Education Act of 1944, an expression by the way of One Nation Conservatism that transformed the education of the working class.
father was a life-long blue-collar Conservative but like many young people, I
was more left wing. I went to every political group at university except the
Conservatives. I wasn’t committed to any ideology; I was just curious. I got to
listen to Harold Wilson, Roy Jenkins and the less well-known Paul Foot of the
International Socialists, the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party.
started work as a railway signal engineer but job prospects in the UK were poor
at the time so I took a job working for a French company in the Middle East. I
later joined Shell and an American oil company living and working in many
countries, coming back to the UK when my children got older. It was only after
I was made redundant that I took a serious look at politics.
We first came to know you as a writer for the Croydon Citizen. How did you get involved, and please tell us a bit about writing for it?
was frustrated that so much of what I saw in the media was left-wing biased.
There was no balance. Conservatives care as much as any, perhaps more, about
equality of opportunity, helping the disadvantaged and generally making the
world a better place. Yet the material online was all written from a left-wing
point of view, advocating left-wing solutions, many of which have failed over
and over again but still were being put forward for yet another try, doomed to
failure. Working people pay the price.
wanted to redress that balance and also present reasoned arguments on policies
about which I had no preconceived idea and had not made up my mind. Some of my
articles were less good than others, partly because I tried to produce something
on a regular basis, but I’m very glad I did it. The Croydon Citizen, and Tom
Black in particular, were very helpful.
We certainly feel Croydon misses the Citizen. What do you think is the future for local journalism here in Croydon?
agree. This is a tough question. Journalism costs money and people don’t want
to pay, and there is only so much advertising revenue. The Croydon Citizen gave
it as good a try as it was possible to do and it didn’t work. People think more
globally and seem to follow celebrities in large numbers via social media.
Political discussion is a minority pursuit especially given the continuing left-wing
media bias even though the majority of the population does not share that view.
I am not optimistic.
You also set up the Croydon Debate Club. How did that come about?
the Croydon Citizen was a great way to present a different message, I thought
that constructive face to face discussion could be stimulating and rewarding
and that was equally missing. I therefore set up the Debate Club. I tried
different venues and formats. The audience varied from maybe ten people to more
than fifty. A celebrity speaker at a central Croydon location on a mid-week
evening was the most successful. Getting a good speaker and finding an
interesting subject was the challenge.
You had a famous meeting where Gavin Barwell spoke, and there were disturbances outside. Do you have any memories from that event?
That was an interesting evening. I remember you came along and were a great help, for which thank you again (Editor’s Note: Mike Swadling of this parish was accosted by and argued with a couple of thugs who tried to shutdown the meeting). Gavin was obviously a big draw, but up until that point the Debate Club had not attracted any extremists. I used Eventbrite to control attendance and I immediately saw with this meeting that there were some different names and a suspicious pattern of booking. I did a bit of internet research and found that both the far left and the far right had booked tickets, and not just one or two.
decided to withdraw their tickets and did so with what I thought was a
reasonably polite email. Both responded with abuse. I asked the local police to
patrol the area on the day. Some protestors showed up. I think they were
anarchists. Gavin and the audience all took it in their stride, although I
didn’t get to participate as well as I would have liked because I was concerned
about getting Gavin safely in and out of the meeting. Good fun in hindsight,
but rather stressful on the day.
You are now a councillor for Selsdon and Addington Village. What are the major challenges or opportunities for your ward?
very fortunate to have been elected to represent Selsdon and Addington Village.
It is a strong community with great assets. The green spaces and the High
Street are the most obvious. The opportunity is to strengthen what is already
there and build connections between groups to enable coherent action. Croydon
Council wants every area of Croydon to have a Community Plan and I think that
is exactly right. I have been pushing this forward as fast as I can. It will be
the basis of what we do going forward. My vision is to see more local people
working in local jobs and shopping in their local High Street. The long-term
disruption of central Croydon, whether Westfield does or does not happen, is an
opportunity for Selsdon.
You live tweet from Council meetings and sometimes seem less than impressed. How do you find the chamber?
was never very impressed with Council meetings as an outsider. My opinion
hasn’t changed, and now I have to sit through it all. Councillors are not happy
either so there has been a recent review of governance. This won’t be a
game-changer but it will I think be an improvement.
Has anything surprised you since becoming a councillor?
it softly but my biggest surprise was that a good number of the Labour
Councillors are decent intelligent people who want similar things to me, albeit
via a different route. The committee that I chair is genuinely cross-party. We
all want the best for Croydon’s children and are determined to do all we can to
change is the big issue of our time. I have been relatively quiet about it
because I don’t like to express an opinion on a complex subject till I have
acquired a decent level of knowledge. I’ve been working on that on and off for close
to a year and I am now confident enough to express an opinion. I expect to
write again on the subject, along with others.
UK government has taken a leading role internationally, something for which it
does not get enough credit. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the issue has
been hijacked by the usual far left suspects as a trojan horse for their
anti-capitalist ambitions. Locally I am supportive of real action by the
Council to make a measurable difference, but the Labour Council has set up a
group that is unrepresentative of public opinion. I am concerned that it will
just be used by Labour and others to give some pseudo-legitimacy for their
usual complaining about the government whilst they themselves do little or
nothing to make a difference on the Council’s carbon emissions.
Writing at a time of Coronavirus it’s difficult to see ahead but what would you like to see from the new Government over the next few years?
We need to get through the pandemic and come out the other
side positively. Right now we have an invisible enemy to fight. Economy and
other matters are rightly taking a back seat. But we are building up an even
bigger debt mountain than we had already. Who knows where the economy might go?
The government needs to lead us in bouncing back. I think Boris is the man to
do that. He has done a great job so far and I think that will continue.
Brexit must be delivered. I thought that on balance Brexit
was the right choice but was not dogmatic. I thought we would be fine whether
we stayed in or left, although I had been concerned on the direction the EU was
taking for some years. Once the decision was taken then it had to be delivered.
I was disappointed that some MPs did all they could to prevent it. I think we
will see the upside quite soon if the government takes advantage of the opportunity.
I would particularly like the tide to be turned on the erosion of free speech. No platforming, especially at universities, is very concerning. As we have already talked about, I believe constructive and robust dialogue leads to improved understanding and better solutions. Suppressing free speech hurts us all.
Maureen Martin is (until they were postponed) a Greater London Assembly candidate for the Christian Parties Alliance (CPA). Maureen has run for parliament in Lewisham East in every election since 2015, which has included a by-election. The CPA is as you would suspect a Christian Party and also has a comprehensive manifesto that offers a full programme for Government. We have previously spoken with Candace Mitchell who stood for the CPA in Croydon North in GE2019. We spoke with Maureen about what led her to run or the CPA, her experiences running and their priorities for London.
Maureen thank-you for your time.
you tell us a little about your background?
a born and bred Londoner from South East London. I lived in Canada for 14
years between 1989-2003 where I became a born again Christian. It a very
valuable experience living in another culture who have a different world view
than most Europeans. North American’s are much more Patriotic on a whole.
I have been in property management/housing for the past 13 years which I
enjoy immensely. I am single with no children.
lead you to be a candidate in the Greater London Assembly elections?
I have been a member of the Christian Peoples Alliance since about 2009 an active member since 2015 when I ran in my constituency in the GE representing the CPA. I have, since voting age been a very conscientious voter seeing it as my civic duty. Especially as a person of colour I honour those who sacrificed for me on two counts, being an ethnic minority and a woman, for me to be able to vote. Britain needs Christian values again, the moral decline must be stemmed. When government legislation is a willing accomplice in the moral decline of our nation it is time to act.
Some of our readers might not be familiar with the CPA. At a national level what are you key priorities?
Our priorities are clear: Support Marriage and the family, Respect life from conception to natural death. Protecting unborn babies is one of our key objectives, Make tax fair and care for the poor. We would end the scandal of the multinational corporations such as Facebook and Google avoiding Corporation tax by moving their profits abroad with a turnover tax to offset corporation tax. Also provide free shelters for the homeless. Fight Crime: support people leaving prison to lower re-offending rates. Also empower the police to do their job concerning the knife crime epidemic.
You ran in Lewisham East by-election against David Kurten and Sean Finch who we have worked with. How did you find the experience?
It was a valuable experience I found David very friendly and I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, in fact I agreed with just about everything he said. His focus the knife crime issue and how the current mayor had dealt with the growing problem. I like working with other candidates even if we have different views.
You were part of the by-election was the bazar and infamous hustings that the police closed down. (Watch on YouTube) What are you memories from that day?
This was quite bazaar. I had to be escorted into the building by two police persons because of the human blockade. There was a great deal of jostling, thankfully I was able to get into the building, some of my CPA party members did not gain access. The police should have arrested the protesters and allowed the Hustings to take place. Free speech was hindered that day!
The GLA and Mayor have key duties on Transport and Policing. What are your priorities for London?
The CPA priorities would be to tackle knife crime, this is a scourge in our communities and must be met head on with a comprehensive plan which this mayoral administration has failed to do. Another major issue being ignored by this administration is homelessness which in London is quite clearly on the increase and of course this links into the London Housing crisis, which again the CPA will address with a comprehensive housing policy outlined in our manifesto.
Any thoughts you would like to leave us with?
London needs a fresh approach, new ideas that are creative and innovative. If the same old parties are continually given the reigns of control in government the result for the electorate will be mush of the same, ineffective unproductive policies that often just waste money and yield very little results.
GLA Member David Kurten was elected as part of the UKIP list in 2016, he now sits as part of the Brexit Alliance. He has stood for UKIP leadership, been the party Education spokesperson, and ran in the 2018 Lewisham East by-election and in Bognor Regis & Littlehampton in the 2019 general election. David has a local connection to Croydon, working as a teacher at the Royal Russell School. David has also spoken at two of the Croydon Constitutionalists’ events, discussing Britain’s Opportunities outside the EU, and Freedom of speech.
You have been in the GLA for the last 4 years holding Sadiq Khan to account. How’s that experience been, and what do you make of Mayor Khan’s tenure?
It has been tough as I’m very much an outsider against the
progressive hegemony which rules politics in the UK and especially in London. I
have stated that the housing crisis in London is the result of over-demand
caused by mass, rapid immigration, called for a no-deal Brexit and supported
President Trump, and have got a lot of flak for doing so. Mayor and Khan are
two words which should not really exist together: he has been a terrible Mayor
concerned with virtue signalling and self-publicity while presiding over a huge
increase in violent crime which is spiralling out of control.
As well as talking at a couple of the Croydon Constitutionalists events you have taught in Croydon. What are your memories of the town, and what do you see as the major issues today?
I taught Chemistry at Royal Russell School between 2001 and 2003.
Croydon now seems completely unrecognisable with all the new skyscrapers which
have gone up over the last 10 years. It seems to have lost its small-town
suburban feel, and become a place which is far more transient with fewer people
who have a connection or roots in the town. This is a malaise which many places
are suffering from, especially in outer London – as people move out or are
priced out, they are replaced by new people who are not rooted in the town and
it loses its character and sense of community.
Your career has taken you to Botswana, Bosnia-Herzegovina, New York and Bermuda. Any favourite places or weird experiences?
I loved Botswana for its sense of space. It is a huge country
twice the size of France with fewer than 2 million people there. Thus it is
amazing for wildlife, especially in the parks, although once my car nearly got
crushed by a rhino who was not looking where he was going!
What made you choose to stand as an Independent for Mayor?
I’m standing in both the Mayor and Assembly elections in May 2020.
I got actively involved in politics in 2012 because I wanted to leave the EU,
and also to stand up to the suffocating culture of political correctness. We
have now left the EU Parliament and Commission and we will leave the Single
Market and Customs Union on 31st December, although there is
still much to do to ensure that we do not just leave in name only on 31st December.
There is still a great need to restore common sense to the country
in the face of ‘woke culture’ which is becoming more bizarre and insane every
week. None of the other parties who have put forward a candidate will restore
common sense – they are all part of the problem – so I decided to stand as an
independent so that people will have the choice to vote for someone pro-Brexit,
pro-Trump and anti-woke if they want to.
The role of Mayor has significant powers over Transport and Policing what are your priorities in these areas?
We need an end to politically correct policing. The job of the
police is to catch criminals and lock them up. Police need to use stop and
search as a tool to find and catch criminals who are carrying knives, machetes
and guns – there is no excuse for this. Stop and search needs to be targeted at
the people who are most likely to be the perpetrators of these crimes, i.e.
young, black men, who are also disproportionately the victims as well. Stop and
search is not pleasant but it will cut crime and make London safer.
The current Mayor wants to expand the ULEZ charging zone up to the
north and south circular roads, meaning that millions of vehicles will be
caught by an extra £12.50 per day. I disagree with this and would not expand
the ULEZ charging zone.
London’s roads have been clogged up by cycle superhighway
construction on main roads. I would call an immediate end to building cycle
superhighways on main roads, and return some of them to motor vehicles where
Crossrail must be finished with no more delay, but I am opposed to
HS2. The huge amount of money that HS2 needs could fund hundreds of projects
all over the country, including some in London like the Bakerloo line extension
and Tramlink extension in Sutton.
What other areas would you like to focus on as Mayor?
London needs more affordable housing, but new homes should be
built in a way which is sensitive to the existing historical character of the
neighbourhoods they are built in. However, no amount of new homes will solve
the current housing crisis until the underlying issues are addressed:
Mass, rapid immigration has caused unsustainable demand for housing, especially in London where the population has increased by 2 million in the last 20 years.
Help to Buy has artificially inflated house prices; it needs to end.
Right to Buy has devastated council housing stocks so there are far fewer affordable homes available – it needs either to end, or be reformed so that Right to Buy homes are sold at market price and councils are able to re-invest the money into building or purchasing new housing stock.
How can people get involved in your campaign?
My website – www.davidkurten.net – has more details of my policies, a sign-up form to get involved and a crowdfunding page. Please have a look!