Democratically Elected Mayor of Croydon – My Tuppenceworth speech

Our Free Speech event, My tuppenceworth, on Tuesday 19th November gave lots of people the opportunity to speak.  One of those speeches came from Mike Swadling, we have reproduced the text below.

My tuppencyworth sets out to prove what former House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neill said “all Politics is local”.

For I would like to talk to you about a Democratically Elected Mayor of Croydon.

Now don’t let the title fool you, this merely reflects the title given in the legislation.

An elected mayor replaces the current council leader, and wow does that leader need replacing.

First some facts about the borough.

  • If Croydon was a city it would be the 8th largest in the UK with over 385,000 people.
  • Over 14,000 businesses are based in Croydon.
  • At an average salary of just over £29,000 we earn about £5,000 more than the UK average.

This numbers hide some huge disparities.

The London Borough of Croydon, was formed in 1965 from the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District and the County Borough of Croydon.

It is really 2 or 3 distinct areas thrown together as part of the Greater London sprawl.

The 60 bus coming into Norbury, travels through the typical inner London communities of Thornton Heath and Broad Green.

Croydon and South Croydon are more typical outer London suburbs.

Then somewhere travelling down from Purley the area turns into rural Surrey as the bus passes and eventually climbs the North Downs into Old Coulsdon.

Those differences exemplify why we need a mayor. 

Today reflecting these differences, Croydon has a Conservative strong hold to the south, a Labour strong hold to the north.  With swing seats in Parliament and on the Council in the centre.

The parties focus overwhelmingly on the swing wards, and frankly they admit this themselves.

But it gets worse….

The leader of the council is selected by the councillors of the winning party.  This could be just 21 votes from councillors, all in safe seats.

This is compounded by over half the councillors being granted special allowances for additional roles, often given to them by the same leader they have just appointed.

An elected mayor will be for voted by all of the people of Croydon,

If they want to win election, and re-election they will need to win substantial numbers of votes from, and represent all of the borough.

We want an executive head we can vote for, someone to drive the town forward, and someone to blame.

Even in this illustrious group, few here will know who at the council is responsible for the potholes that litter the town, or who has responsibility for our 120 parks and open spaces.

Who do we hold accountable for the Children’s Services that continues to be rated as Inadequate by Ofsted?

With a Mayor we know who is responsible and who to hold accountable – it is, the Mayor.

We have a campaign.

It is the only show in town to improve the way Croydon is governed.

We are formed by, and have support from many local residents associations.

We also have support from the Conservatives, Croydon South Labour, The Brexit Party, the Libertarian party and the Christen Peoples Alliance Party.

We need 15,000 signatures and we can then put it to the people.  If you are a Croydon resident sign the petition and give the people of Croydon a free choice.

Debating Society: A small income tax increase is justified to fund social care

The Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society planned to hold two debates in September but ran out of time on the night.  One was planned on “A small income tax increase is justified to fund social care”.

The text below was originally written by Mike Swadling as a speech to be delivered to a live audience for the purpose of a debating society.  Join them for their next debate on Monday 4th November, where the subject will be “It is unrealistic nowadays to have an unarmed police force”.

Other details from debate club nights can be found in CR5 Magazine.

“To use the dreadful term many people are bed blocking what is say a £500 a day bed, because a roughly £500 a month social care package can’t be provided”

Yes pay more

We are at the start of a 25 year period of peak age.  The demographics mean for a generation we will have older people, often needing more care and fewer working age people to pay for it.  This will eventually ease away, but this a challenge facing us now.

I suspect I am not alone in having seen a loved one in hospital, not able to leave for a lack of social care.  To use the dreadful term many people are bed blocking what is say a £500 a day bed, because a roughly £500 a month social care package can’t be provided.

This doesn’t make sense for the patients’ mental or physical health, their family’s needs, costs to the NHS and taxpayers, or the needs of the person requiring that ‘blocked bed’.

That extra funding is needed few would doubt.  The question is how do you provide it?

Laffer Curve

Let me try a little thought experiment with you.

Which do you think would raise more revenue for the government?

An income tax rate of 100% or 0%?

(Answer: both the same £0 why would anyone work to pay 100% tax)

Ok which rate do you think would raise more money for the government?

An income tax rate of 99% or 1%?

(Answer: 1% why would anyone work to pay 99% tax, we all work at a tax rate of more than 1% tax)

An income tax rate of 75% or 25%?

(Answer: 25% why would anyone work to pay 75% tax)

This demonstrates higher tax rates do not necessarily mean higher tax takes.

Known as the Laffer curve after the Economist Arthur Laffer.  It predicts somewhere between 25% and 33% is the point where government income is maximised.

The disincentives in tax, do not outweigh the extra income from higher rates.

Broadly in income tax people are prepared to say two for me, and one for you.  But no more.

“the total tax take has never been lower than 32.5% of GDP and never higher that 37.5% of GDP.  Mostly these fluctuations are around the periods of recessions as the economy rapidly changes.  Higher tax rates don’t increase tax revenue.  People simply refuse to pay it”

Tax

On the UKs average income of about £30,000.

  • you pay about £6,000 in tax and national insurance
  • you are usually be responsible for let’s say half the average £1600 council tax
  • about £200 in car tax
  • you pay about another £200 in air tax for your holiday
  • and close to many of our hearts, 52p on a pint and about £3.5 on a £7 bottle of wine.

It’s not hard to see about a third of our income going in tax.

Total government tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is about 36%, whereas spending is about 37%.

Since the 1970s tax receipts have never exceed 38% of GDP, mostly that have hovered around 35%

  • In this time we have had governments of Labour, Conservative, LibLab Pacts, Conservative Liberal coalitions, the UUP prop up James Callahan, and the DUP prop up Theresa May.
  • In that time basic rate income has been as high as 35% and as low as 20%.
  • The top rate has been as high as    83%    and as low as 40%.
  • It’s not just income tax.  Corporation tax has been as high as 52% and as low as 28%

Yet the total tax take has never been lower than 32.5% of GDP and never higher that 37.5% of GDP.

Mostly these fluctuations are around the periods of recessions as the economy rapidly changes.

Higher tax rates don’t increase tax revenue.  People simply refuse to pay it.

They work less, more of off books, on in the case of the most highly skilled, simply move and work elsewhere to avoid overly burdensome tax rates.

High tax rates kill economic growth.

Savings

If you want to spend more on social care, find an existing poor use of money and reallocate it. You can also reduce the costs of providing the care itself. If I could ask your indulgence with a few suggestions:

  • Merge responsibilities and budgets of the NHS and Social Service.
  • As a result local managers can decide if the best service is provided by funding acute care or stopping bed blocking.
  • As I have said I firmly believe many £500 a day beds are being filled for lack of a £500 a month care package.
  • More money is pouring into the NHS.  You might not think it’s enough, but every year spending increases.  Form 3.7% of GDP in 1970 to 7.1% now, the trend is relentlessly up.
  • Rather than focus on building more and better hospitals for a National Hospital Service, let’s focus on a National Health Service.
  • Let’s see if there are more efficient ways to spend that money, that get better overall outcomes.
  • Let’s get creative.  Some people require a huge amount of care, but lots of fairly active able pensioners and others require a little bit of social care.  At the same time we have problems caring for special needs adults and children and a high cost of nursery care.
  • Let’s look at facilities where we can bring old and young together for both their benefits, and reduce the cost of staffing in the process.
  • Experiments like those carried out by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust or St Monica Trust show such operations reduce depression and improve general health in the elderly whilst increasing maturity and language skills in the young.
  • From 2013 all new Nurses need degrees.  Why?  Does it really require two years in college and 3 in University to empty a bed pan?
  • Are straight A’s needed to provide a good bedside manor?
  • Are these perhaps skills better learnt by doing, rather than by reading a book or sitting in a lecture theatre?
  • Some functions performed by nurses may need additional qualifications but clearly not all.  There is anecdotal evidence that Nurses with degrees are less focused on being a patient’s friend, providing basic comfort or even a clean environment and more on only the work requiring graduate studies.
  • A mixed ward with graduate, on the job highly trained, and new less skilled nurses providing basic care, will be cheaper, and frankly might be better at providing the full spectrum of care needed for patients.

Achieving the same level of care at a cheaper rate per a patient, means more care can be provided, or more money for life saving drugs, or simply a lower charge for those families paying for care.

Summing up

As I have said I think we do need to put more funding into social care.  But an income tax increase is simply the wrong way to provide it.

It may sound good, but it won’t do good. In fact it could have the opposite effect.

If you want more money to spend on social care, re balance government spending and make this a priority.

Vote against this motion, don’t reduce tax take and leave those most in need paying for a nice sounding, but wrong doing proposition.

Photo by The original uploader was Blakwolf at Italian Wikipedia. – Transferred from it.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.5

Debating Society: Priti Patel is right: it’s time to bring back the death penalty

The Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society held a debate in early September on the subject of “Priti Patel is right: it’s time to bring back the death penalty”.  To be fair the Home Secretary had walked back that statement, but it was a good opportunity to discuss capital punishment.

The text below was originally written by Mike Swadling as a speech delivered to a live audience for the purpose of a debating society.  Join them for their next debate on Monday 4th November, where the subject will be “It is unrealistic nowadays to have an unarmed police force”.

Other details from debate club nights can be found in CR5 Magazine.

Eye4eye

Deuteronomy speaks of an eye for an eye.  But the principle predates the Old Testament and is first seen in Babylonian law.  It is also seen in pre-Christian Anglo Saxon law.

Partly thanks to Ghandi people perceive this to be a retaliation rather than a reasonable punishment.  The principle of an eye of an eye, started as a way to ensure punishment was measured and appropriate.

Goods taken would be return, and an injury would see a similar injury endured.

A death would be punishable by a death, not the wiping out of a family or clan, that was in ancient times, all too common.

That the punishment is proportional, in most societies was, and maybe still is a massive leap forward.

Indeed that fairness is engrained in most of us.

  • If someone pick pockets from us, we don’t expect them to be battered or bruised (we might), but we expect some financial punishment or maybe some community service.
  • If they break into our homes we expect some loss of freedom, some extensive community service or a short custodial sentence.
  • If they attack us we expect a long punishing custodial sentence.

Therefore, I ask, who are we, if someone losses their life, to judge that the injury to them, should not be have a fair retribution?

I would like to emphasis here if someone loses their life, they not the friends and family are the primary wronged party. 

Yes other feel the loss, but the real loss is the person whose life was cut short.

Why should they not be entitled to the same retribution from the law as any of us who suffered a lesser crime?

Wrong thinking

We often hear that because we have murders in places that have a death penalty it does work as a deterrent.  It does, and I will come onto that.

But this idea that a punishment, any punishment deters all action, is something that we would apply in no other realm.

Who has ever heard:

  • “If we just bring in a punishment for theft no one will ever steal anything”?
  • “If we punish speeding, no one will speed”?
  • “No one will evades tax, now we have fine for it”?

Indeed many here will have brought up children, I am sure we have all cared for some at some point.

We all know from this that once you set a boundary, no child ever breaks it.

Hold on is that not your experience?

Punishments do deter but don’t stop.  Different punishments deter in different times and places in different ways.  For instance different levels of crime and punishment may happen in different states in the US.

One with capital punishment may have more murders than one without, because, simply they are different places.  In the developed world, most murders occur in cities.

In Australia the outback of the Northern Territory has some of the highest murder rates in the world.  Why?  Its remote, really remote, it’s the place criminals go to hide.  It turns out they are still criminals, they commit murders.  It’s a different place and simply, should be, no more be compared to Sydney, than the hill country of Texas is with the South Side of Chicago.

“Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  Today we are losing about an extra 330 people year than when we have capital punishment”

It works

Beyond the inherent fairness of capital punishment, Priti Patel is right.  It is time to bring back the death penalty, because it works.

I agree with Nancy Reagan when she said:

“I believe that more people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.”

Or to quote President George W Bush:

“I don’t think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don’t think that’s right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people’s lives”

I want to do a little thought experiment with you.

  • Let’s say a new law in the UK meant murder would be punishable by death if committed on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, but not if commitment on any other day of the week.
  • Hands up if you think that would result on fewer murders, and keep in mind by its very nature, murder requires some premeditation.  On a Monday, Wednesday or Friday than other days of the week?
  • Of course it would hitmen, wronged lovers, gang members and maybe even some psychopaths would change the day they choose to commit murders, if this was the law.

In the UK we had capital punishment until it was abolished in 1965.  Murders, are measured in rate per 100,000 people.

In Britain thanks to new ideas like Bobbies on the beat and new technology like fingerprints the murder rate started falling in roughly mid-1800s until the mid-1960s.

Thankfully murder is so low, that year or year rates fluctuate but trends can be seen.

We have more detailed statistics from 1900 where the decade saw a murder rate of 0.96 per 100,000.  This fell gradually to 0.75 for the 1930, the era of the great depression.  The rate rose slightly during and just after the war, but come 1959 it was down to 0.59 per 100,000.

In 1965 the rate was at 0.68, 1966, 0.76, 1974, 1.06.

What changed?  What made the British suddenly so much more murderous? 

Could it be?  The death penalty was abolished in 1965 and had basically all but stopped being used a few years earlier?

Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  The reversal in this loss of innocent lives didn’t stop there.  By 1987 the murder rate was up at 1.19, by 1999, 1.45, by 2002 over 2 per 100,000 were murdered.

Based on today’s population every extra 1 person per 100,000 is an extra 660 needless deaths per year.  The 2010s thankfully the murder rate lower, but was still just below 1 per 100,000, or about 300 extra deaths over the 1960s rate, and it has of course come up again to 1.22 for 2016 the last year figures are available for.

The rate went down from 2003 to about 2016, why?  My speculation would be The Criminal Justice Act of 2003 which toughened sentences for murder and rules on life imprisonment.

Punishments work, and punishments deter crime.  Today we are losing about an extra 330 people year than when we have capital punishment.

“If all 100% of them turned out to be innocent the deterrent effect of capital punishment would still save on average 30 times as many innocent lives a year”

What about the innocent?

But what about the innocent and the miscarriages of justice?  It’s a good question.  There will be irreversible miscarriages of justice.  Fact it will happen, but I put I to you, do you want to do good or do you want to feel good?

I want to do good.  I want to choose the route that results in the least deaths, not the route that makes me feel most cleansed.  We are losing approximately an extra 330 people per year than when we had capital punishment.  We will lose some innocent convicted people, but with capital punishment we would be doing good and saving more innocent lives.

The risk to innocent life’s being taken by the state is real.  But so is the risk to innocent lives being taken in murder.  Between 1735 and 1799 we executed about 7400 people.  But that was then.

It reduced to 762 between 1900 and 1964.  If all 100% of them turned out to be innocent the deterrent effect of capital punishment would still save on average 30 times as many innocent lives a year.

I ask again, do you want to feel good or actually do good?

But most won’t be innocent.  Indeed various studies in the US estimate that between 2.3 and 5% of all prisoners are innocent.  In the UK, reviews prompted by the Criminal Cases Review Commission have resulted in one pardon and three exonerations for people that were executed between 1950 and 1953 during which period we executed 68 people.

Again about 5%.  With modern DNA evidence I would expect this rate to fall.  But the deterrent effect would still be in place.

People will spend years, and even sometimes say anything to avoid capital punishment.  People will feel sympathy for them.

It doesn’t mean they deserve it.

Priti Patel is right: It’s time to bring back the death penalty.

It will save lives.  It will help abate the rising tide of knife crime we see on our streets.

It will give justice to those poor souls who had their lives untimely taken and for all its difficulties it is simply the right thing to do.

Photo by andy dolman, CC BY-SA 2.0 Link

Debating Society “Women have become ridiculously militant”

On the 1st July the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society hosted a debate on the question ‘Women have become ridiculously militant.

In true debating society style, who spoke either to propose or oppose the motion was open for all members to volunteer.  Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling argued against the motion.

Mikes’ argument was that women should be angry that they are treated as one group, not the individuals they are.  That women’s rights are being removed by the transgender movement, taking away the chance to compete at sports, and privacy to get changed away from men.  Finally if female activists are happy with their lot here, they really should stand up for women across the globe. The text of Mikes’ speech is below.

Introduction

Thank-you to tonight’s chair, to an un-militant Angela for proposing the motion, and to you all, for attending.

It may seem odd that I as a man, am in effect saying, women are not militant enough.  However I am confident I know, a sure-fire way to make a group of women more militant.  Clearly all that would be needed is for me, a man, to stand up here and tell you what to do!

What is this grouping that encompasses all women?  100 years after the franchise was awarded to women over 30, why are 51% of the population seen as a monolithic block?  Most would think it absurd if anyone assumed that two men thought the same, and shared the same concerns just because we were men.  Why do people think it’s true of women?

We have a Minister for Women, as if you can all be represented by one government department.  If you search ‘Women’s Issues’ on the internet a whole host of pressure groups, the UN, NGOs and Governmental agencies come up.  All assuming you all, all 51% of you, face the same challenges, share the same beliefs, and feel the same way.  That’ mad. 

I’ve rarely meet any woman who thinks the same thing for long (sorry I couldn’t resist that).  Finding two men or women in lockstep is rare the idea we can treat every women on earth the same is crazy.  Incidentally if you search ‘Men’s Issues’ online, you mainly get links to a series of rather sarcastic newspaper articles.  None assume all men are the same.

One measurable area for categorising the sexes is voting.  Women vote 8% more on average for Democrats than Republicans in the US, that’s a lot, but still only 54 to 46.  Hardly all women in lockstep. 

In the UK General Election of 2017.  The female vote went 43% both to Conservative and Labour.  In France the gender gap had about 4% more women voting for Macron than men.  Men were more likely to vote for the female candidate Le Pen.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_French_presidential_election

In Italy’s 2018 General Election, the Centre Left and Five Star votes we’re evenly split between men and women.  The Centre Right coalition.  The latest incarnation of the group set-up by that well known feminist, Silvio Berlusconi.  Had a quarter of a percent lead in women’s votes over men.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Italian_general_election

The differences of opinion within a gender are far, far greater than the differences of opinion between genders.  Does anyone here think a women in Coulsdon, and a woman in Cairo share more in common, than any random woman and man in either plan?  I think it’s insulting to you individuality to think of women as one group.

I aim to persuade you tonight, that the fact the government, the media, many social commentators, and far too many men ignore the diversity womanhood.  This dismissal of your individual essence is wrong. It is in fact so wrong, it could make you angry.  I believe it should make you angry and militant as hell.

Feminism

How does the assumption, that all women think the same, play across these supposed women’s issues.

Let’s look at Feminism.  You might think women could be classed together as feminists?  Except of course, a 2018 YouGov poll, found that only 34% of women in the UK said they were a feminist.   This number ranges between 8% and 40% across Europe.  Among Millennials the number was less than 20%.

Reference: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47006912

The Pew Research Centre showed in the US, men and women have a similar weighting of importance on issues from the Economy, Health Care, Education, Social Security, and for that matter Foreign Policy.

Reference: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/28/a-closer-look-at-the-gender-gap-in-presidential-voting/ft_16-07-28_gendergap_420px/

Significant gender gaps only came in for the Environment, Trade Policy and this being the US Abortion.

Abortion

That brings me onto the issue above all others that is seen as a woman’s issue, abortion.  A hugely divisive issue, I am generally keen to avoid. However, it is an issue that is spoken about as if all women as on one side.  Of course this is not the case.

A YouGov poll in 2013 shown 80% of UK women said life began at ‘some time before birth’, with 53 per cent saying that ‘life begins at conception’.  Across recent polls, women are more in favour of restrictions around abortion access than men.

Reference: https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/on-abortion-most-women-agree-with-jeremy-hunt/?sfns=mo

In the US 31% of Women, nearly a third, want Roe v Wade, the judgment that made abortion a constitutional right, overturned.

Reference: https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/poll-finding/kff-poll-public-opinion-and-knowledge-on-reproductive-health-policy/

My point here again is that no one should attempt to speak for all women.  Any woman’s individuality should never be subsumed into global grouping that simply doesn’t exist.

Working

Women’s rights, to trade their labour, as freely as men,   has long been fought for.  Again it is often assumed, all women want to work and be successful in careers.  I’m sure we have all known women who are happy being full time mothers.  And indeed women conflicted between working and spending time with their children.  That’s not to say we don’t also all know many women successful in their careers.  The point is all women are different in what they want.

Looking at how many women work across the globe, it’s clear the feminist assumption that all women want to work is just plain wrong.  I expect differences between the developing a developed world.  Differences between religions and regions.

But what’s not clear to me is why Belgium, France and Japan all at around 50% of women working are so different from Canada, Sweden and Singapore at around 60% or Iceland at over 70%. 

Reference: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS?end=2018&start=2018&view=map

These are all rich countries.  None are especially religious, they are all democracies, where women enjoy significant choice and freedom.  Why are they so different?

It’s almost as if women are different and not all aligned.  As feminist campaigners and others who presume to speak for you all, assume all women to be.

Get militant – Sport

Now having made the case that all women are not a clear cut group.   I’m going to ask for some leeway from the society and share some issues I believe should of concern to all women.  In fact they should be of concern to us all, male and female.

Most of us will remember the London 2012 Olympics and the night when Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon Gold.  I don’t remember Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon in 1977,   but I do know that was a great moment for British Sport.  I do remember Dame Kelly Holmes two golds in Athens, Tessa Sanderson’s Gold in Los Angeles and Sharron Davies’ Silver in Moscow.  These were all amazing nights for sport.  For British sport, and women’s sport.

At the end of the last football season, Pep Guardiola the Manchester City manager,   said his team would not be the first side to win an English domestic treble should they beat Watford in the FA Cup final.  Because “the women have done it”, referring to the Arsenal Ladies team who won the domestic treble, in 2006-07.

It’s a fair comparison, however we shouldn’t compare men and women directly in sport.  Biological men with average extra height, weight and strength outperform women at almost every sport.

To give you an idea of the difference.  The last Olympic women’s 100 meter winner ran 10.49 seconds.  The men’s, 9.58 seconds.  You have to go back to 1928 before todays, women’s Gold Medallist would beat the men’s Gold Medallist.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_metres_at_the_Olympics

Andy Murray has a fairly leisurely top serve speed in Men’s tennis at 141mph.

Serena Williams one of the fastest female servers, at 128mph.  Places her basically nowhere on the men’s rankings for speed of service.

Reference: https://tenniscompanion.org/fastest-tennis-serves/

Olympic records in weightlifting are surprisingly closer.  The competition is split into weight categories, but even here only the very heaviest category of women overtakes the lowest category of men.  The strongest men by comparison lift half as much again as the strongest women.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Olympic_records_in_weightlifting

I say this to make the simple point, men’s and women’s bodies are different.

To have a level playing field in adult sport.  Men must complete against men, and Women against women.  Recently this is changing.

In February it was reported that a Connecticut high school transgender athlete transitioning to female, won the 55-meter dash……. Setting a new girl’s state record.  Another transgender athlete, placed second in the race.

Reference: https://metrovoicenews.com/is-it-fair-transgender-athletes-and-high-school-sports/

CeCe Telfer, won the women’s 400 metre hurdle national title,   in the US in May.  Previously he finished just 10th at the regional Northeast Championships back in 2016.  Now she’s the national champion.

Olympic Silver medal winner Sharron Davies calls for a chromosome split saying “If we are not careful then in 10 years all the records in men’s sport will be held by men and all the records in women’s sport will be held by women who carry a Y chromosome”. 

As former Tennis champion Martina Navratilova said “A man can decide to be female, win everything in sight and then reverse his decision.”

I hasten to add if any of the women here feel they would like to show that their advanced Kung Fu skills can beat a man, especially this one, I am sure you are right.

I would like to point out I am referring to top athletes not the average man in the street, and I make these points only to aid the debate.

But the point is.  Women deserve a chance to compete at sport.  Girls deserved a chance to compete and win, not be held back by the boys.  They deserve a fair shout.  I want my nieces to have, a chance to win a race, swim and come first, hit the ball further than the other girls.  Not simply to always come second to bigger and stronger boys.

How can you not be angry?  How can you not be militant at these opportunities being taken away from your daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters?

Changing rooms

I think it is fair to say many women feel “uncomfortable” seeing men “parading around naked” in front of them.  A gender-neutral “changing village” was created as part of a £10m refurbishment at Bath Sports and Leisure Centre.

To quote one user: “For some women this is extremely uncomfortable. It’s a safety issue. Women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted in unisex facilities.”  “Not everybody with their toddler would like to be confronted by men with everything out.”

Reference: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-46862566

It is not unreasonable for women to feel safe in changing rooms.  Why the drive to unisex facilities?  I suspect the vast majority of men don’t want them either.  Having spent a couple of hundred years giving women more and more freedom from men over their bodies.  Why aren’t women getting angry when it’s taken away from you?

Arranged Marriage

If you’re happy with your lot here.  You might not be so happy with the treatment of women further afield.  Still today 55% of the marriages in the world are arranged.

That’s not necessarily wrong.  There are many successful arrange marriages.
Divorce rates in this country suggest choice isn’t always a great selection method.  But what is more worrying, is that in an arranged marriage, the man is usually 4.5 years older than the woman.  That gaps not that much, it is higher than most couples I know, but not outrageous.  As always an average hides the extremes at the edges.  For instance 48% of the girls who are involved in an arranged marriage in South Asia are under 18.  In Niger 26%.of the girls are less than 15.  In Afghanistan 80% of the marriages are considered forced, as opposed to just arranged.

Reference: https://brandongaille.com/25-shocking-arranged-marriages-statistics/

Is this not enough to make you angry.  Is this not something all people but especially women should be fighting to change?

Education

Education is one of the best ways to fight these injustices.  Especially female education and empowerment.  The gender parity index measures the ratio of the female to male literacy of 15 to 24 year olds.

Of the 167 countries they have data for, most have parity in literacy rates between the genders.  Indeed Jamaica, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe have significantly greater female than male, literacy rates.  However 22% of countries have significantly greater male than female literacy rates.  With Afghanistan, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Liberia, and Mali having male literacy rates at almost twice that of women.

How can this be right, as a school governor in Croydon for many years, I have never once seen boys outperform girls,   in the English grading in any of the schools I have worked with.  Yet these countries have boys twice as literate and girls.  This isn’t the 1920’s, this is education received in the 21st Century.  These are girls today that are not taught at the same rate as boys.

Why aren’t those who call themselves feminists more militant, more radical, and calling for more change on this?

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate

How to get militant.

On the one hand, the media, politicians, and campaign groups, often claim to speak on behalf of ‘all women.  A group that simply doesn’t exist.  Yet at the same time they are falling to act,   where women as a group are not treated fairly.

Maybe we should take a leaf out of the history books.  100 years ago Suffragettes were chaining themselves to railings, and refusing to pay taxes and fines.  In a Reign of Terror, in 1913 there were 250 arson or other destruction attacks in just six-months.  Window-breaking, post-box burning and telegraph cable breaking, were common.

In ancient Rome protestors for women’s rights employed methods, from public demonstrations, to providing financial support, and even to acts of mass poisoning.

Reference: https://brewminate.com/nevertheless-they-persisted-womens-demonstrations-in-ancient-rome/ 

What do we have today – A Facebook post.  A Selfie.  Maybe a tweet!

You and all of our daughters deserve the chance to play at, and to compete and win at sports.  You all deserve privacy in the changing rooms, and across the globe.  All women deserve the chance to choose their partners, and gain the fundamental literacy skills, needed to make real choices in their lives.

I am angry, these young women aren’t getting a fair start.

I hope you are too. 

  • Take action, write to a paper, or politician. 
  • Join a campaign group
  • Join a protest
  • Run for office

But mostly become ridiculously militant, about it.

Summing Up

Women today have every reason to be militant.  Not as a group, but as individuals.  I don’t think of my female colleagues, friends and family members as one group.  I am genuinely annoyed many in the elite both male and female think you are.  I hope you feel the same.

The women I meet are not shrinking violets.  They hold great jobs, are the lynchpin of busy families, often care for elderly relatives and in the case of my older sisters are still quite capable of bossing around their ‘kid’ brother.

The last thing they need is media and ‘women’s’ lobby groups telling them how to live their lives.  Fight back, fight back like hell, I ask you.

If this isn’t enough, the rights women have fought for, for over a hundred years are being eroded, in the name of progress.  Without denying how anyone feels, you, your daughters and granddaughters deserve the chance, to complete at sports and get changed in private. 

I grew up watching a strong female Prime Minister, pitted against women supporting striking miners and women camping at Greenham Common.  I saw Mother Teresa being criticised for her support for Indira Gandhi and I saw Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sing, Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.

Where now are these women striking out, standing strong, and Acting in defiance?

Across the globe your sisters are being denied basic literacy, denied the right to choose their partner and sometimes even denied the right to show their face in public.

If those aren’t good reasons to get out and get militant I don’t know what are.

Lies, damned lies, and left wing statistics

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.

Poverty or just poor statistics?

The former Croydon Advertiser posted a headline of “The 1,000 Croydon babies who will be born into poverty, abuse and neglect in 2019”.  Now Croydon has its problems.  It also has problem areas.  I’ve run for office in some of them and I know them well.  Yet the idea that nearly a fifth of the borough’s children lived in actual poverty simply doesn’t stack up.

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 grandparents generation?

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 of food”

The run up to Easter has seen the Extinction Rebellion block large parts of central London.  Their website has a section called ‘the truth’ https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/the-emergency/.  The ‘truth’ goes on to say “Globally, the past four years have been the hottest on record, and the 20 warmest have occurred in the past 22 years”.  Since the Little Ice Age temperatures have been rising but we also know that Britain was warmer in Viking and Roman times than it is today.

The ‘truth’ also goes onto to tell us that “People across 51 countries and territories facing crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse, requiring immediate emergency action”.  Unicef however show malnutrition rates are thankfully collapsing – https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/.  It becomes clear that ‘food insecurity’ is a meaningless phase use to describe anything and everything they want, except an actual lack of food.

Back to Brexit

No lesser place than the London School of Economics a university not unaccustomed to a left wing bias published that “The impact of the Brexit vote on the economy is now clear”.  What they decided was clear, was that “productivity and real wages, the UK is now in a much lower position” and as they explained “the UK’s GDP growth has slowed down”.  The Independent Newspaper also confidently told us that “Brexit has cost you £1,500 so far”. 

This however is against a backdrop of continued strong economic figures with higher wages, record 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.

Michael Swadling Croydon Constitutionalists https://twitter.com/MikeSwadling

Sunlit Uplands of Freedom

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 labour force”

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.

Michael Swadling Croydon Constitutionalists https://twitter.com/MikeSwadling

‘Today’s media are destroying democracy’

On the 4th February the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society hosted a debate on the question ‘Today’s media are destroying democracy?’

In true debating society style, who proposed or opposed was decided by the toss of a coin.  Croydon Constitutionalist Mike Swadling argued in favour of the motion.

Mikes’ argument centred on the Medias inability to represent all fairly, and that this led directly to a coarsening of our politics and a corrosion of our democracy.

Those of us with unfashionable ideas, both on the left and right of politics and all too often shut out by today’s media.  The text of Mikes’ speech is below.

Introduction

Firstly thank-you to the Chair, to Richard for offering to oppose the motion and to all for attending tonight. 

Today’s media are destroying democracy?

I intend to make the argument to you tonight that the Medias inability to represent all fairly and let a multitude of ideas have voice, has directly led to many seeking alternative often more extreme voices.

It has led to a lack of belief in any facts, because only some face challenge, and it has led directly to a coarsening of our politics and a corrosion of our democracy.

Ironically at one time the mass murderer Chairman Mao was more willing to “Let a hundred flowers blossom” than many are in todays forth estate.

Proposal

I need to add some definition around the terms in tonight’s debate title.

If I may take democracy first, democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state”.  This definition really doesn’t go far enough.  After all the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea holds elections for the Supreme People’s Assembly.

All seats, in what has been called the biggest prison camp in the world North Korea, are of course won by the Communists.  A democracy that matters needs more than a vote.  It needs to be a Liberal democracy.  Where rights of the individual are enshrined in law.  It needs to be a place where “elections have consequence” and are not simply ignored by those already in power.

Its needs a demos, a people who can get on with their daily lives, and live in a community, regardless of the side they were on in the last or for a future vote.  A demos who choose to be together no matter their politics.

The Media are, “the main means of mass communication regarded collectively”.  This is simply a means.  A means isn’t capable of destroying or building anything.  It needs further definition, so for this debate I will be referencing the Mainstream media.

This being conventional newspapers, television, and Radio.  Organisations that are typically dedicated to journalism and where they acknowledge bias claim to separate comment from news.

These conventional sources are destroying using its dictionary definition of “to ruin emotionally or spiritually”, the belief we have in our fourth estate, and our trust that our views, whatever they may be will get a fair hearing from that mainstream media.

This lack of trusts between elections leads to a lack of trust in elections.

Ignoring

The Medias failure to represent all fairly as I have said has led to a growing set of news sources each targeted at only small communities.

In driving away so many the Mainstream media has destroyed faith in a collective set of news or facts that lay at the foundations of our democracy.  This destruction doesn’t physically stop us voting, it doesn’t stop elections happening and it wouldn’t stop rights being enshrined in law.

However this destruction of credibility and faith does stop people believing in the outcome of a votes and in our democratic institutions.  That outcome is undermined for instance by the constant questioning of the motives of why people voted a certain way.  Failing to accept that maybe good people can differ.

It is also undermined when an underreported view, party or person from outside the mainstream set of ideas suddenly wins.  We have recently examples of this with, Syriza in Greece, Five Star and Lega in Italy, Trump in US, Brexit in UK, and close results for the Freedom Party in Austria, Independence vote in Scotland, AFD in Germany, and Front National in France.

All and to be clear all results at best unexpected and often completely missed by the mainstream media.  These votes created a shock to the democratic system and came as a shock to many individuals.  Yet these instances are clearly failings of the Media to understand and report what many are feeling.

Too many in a media are openly disparaging of any views outside of the ‘acceptable’ set.  Often referred to at the Overton window, also known as the window of discourse.  These are the only publically tolerated ideas.  Mainstream media reporting sits inside this window, even if the ideas outside hold considerable popularity.  They only seriously report other views once elections have happened or where electoral law forces them.

This has not always been the case.  In the 80s our media would report both Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher.  Norman Tebbit and Tony Benn would feature in print and on screen.  Indeed both the TUC and CBI conferences would be broadcast at times of mass redundancies, strikes and sadly often violent clashes.  Despite a rather silly attempt to ban their actual voices members of Sinn Féin IRA were reported as they fought a war against our state.

Alas no more.  The media would not consider giving prominence to such forthright advocates, for fear their views may offend.

And therein lies the problem.  If your views are not covered in the mainstream in the period between elections, and large blocks of votes are constantly disparaged, why should anyone have faith in the democratic process?

Undermining

When supposedly radical, yet often popular ideas aren’t being ignored they are being undermined.  How is this being done?

In a News at Six report in 2015, Laura Kuenssberg said she had asked Jeremy Corbyn the following:

“If he were the resident here at Number 10 whether or not he would be happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack”.

His answer was surprising:

“I am not happy with a shoot to kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counter-productive”

This exchange was highlighted to embarrass Corbyn and the Labour party, to make his views seem odd and outside the mainstream.  After all who wouldn’t expect an armed response to a Paris style attack that had killed many??

Now regardless of what you think of Jeremy Corbyn, love of loath, I hope we can all agree the exchange should be reported accurately.  Except of course the actual question Kuenssberg had asked during the interview was:

“If you were prime minister, would you be happy to order people – police or military – to shoot to kill on Britain’s streets?”

No mention of Paris style account.  No allowance for the nuance needed when talking about a general policy, as opposed to a distinct event.

Source BBC

This is not a one off.  In 2017 the BBCs Nick Robinson tweeted during the election campaign that:

“No-one should be surprised that Jeremy Corbyn is running v the ‘Establishment’ & is long on passion & short on details. Story of his life,”

Now you may agree or disagree with that sentiment, but this is from one of the leading correspondents from an organisation legally obliged to be neutral commenting during an election campaign.

I am sure most Labour members and many voters do not feel Corbyn is ‘short on detail’ and a neutral BBC reporter should not be offering this opinion.

Source RT

Jeremy Corbyn has been constantly undermined;

  • we were told he was about to lose power up to the 2017 election;
  • we were told he would lose massively in the 2017 election;
  • we are now told he is nowhere on Brexit.

At a time when the Conservatives are tearing themselves apart, Corbyn has stood back and as Oppositions should do, oppose.  In doing this he has kept his party together, despite significant fault lines, you could say he has played a bit of a political blinder.

Of course this is not reported, as Corbyn politics sit outside the medias acceptable window of ideas.

International

These days many of us receive some of our news from across the globe and global events affect us all.

In the United States, the Centre for Responsive Politics found that 65% of journalist’s political financial contributions went to Democrats in the 2010 election cycle.  MSNBC found that 87%, gave to Democrats or liberal causes.

The Media Research Centre found that 94 percent of donors affiliated with five major news outlets also contributed to Democrats between 2008 and 2016.

Source Ballotpedia

In 2016, not a single member of the White House press corps was a registered Republican.  Whilst more than a quarter were registered Democrats and of course 86% percent said they expect Clinton to win the election.

Source Free Beacon

How did that pan out?

In the two party US system none supported one of the parties.  These are a range of journalist’s from papers, radio and TV, none of whom supported the winning party for the Presidency and the party that at the time held the Senate, the House and the majority of Governorships.

Would you say this is a media that is likely to be trusted by a majority of voters?

It’s not just the US in 2013, the Ozzies BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, journalists were surveyed;

  • 41% would vote Green;
  • 32% Labor;
  • and just 14.7% for the Liberal/Nationalist Coalition.

Source ABC

At the next Australian general election the Coalition received 45% of the vote, and the Greens just 8.6 percent.  This is a media wildly out of step with the people.

Balance

If the reporters themselves are unbalanced from the populace maybe the reporting isn’t’, maybe those they invite on are more fairly balance?

A great bellwether is the BBCs Question Time, a show meant to have a panel representing all our political views.

As of September 2017 in the 42 Question Time shows there had been since the EU referendum, Remain panellists have outnumbered Leavers by 137-72.

Leavers have only outnumbered Remainers in 3 episodes whilst, Remainers dominated in 36.

Given the majority of the country backed Leave is this right?

Source Guido Fawkes

In all these examples I would ask again that you put aside your own views and instead focus on does this lack of balance foster trust in our media as a place we can democratically come together.

It’s not that the programme is biased per se.  In the 2014-15 season it had 195 guest appearances.  The left wing New Statesman judged these guest to be 53 for the right, 24 for the centre, and 58 for the left.

But over a similar period the SNP had only been on the Question Time panel six times in a year, in contrast to the LibDems who had been booked for 22 appearances when they were the third biggest Westminster party.

UKIP appeared on just one in four programmes, during a period they won the European elections, were trending between 10 to 20% in the polls and gain 4 million votes in a general election.

Source The National

Indeed in the same period just 5 guest came from the Green party and Respect combined.

It cannot seriously be said that this lack of coverage of parties outside the Medias allowable set of ideas truly represents the views of licence fee payers?

Question Time has non-political guests.  During this time they had 38 Journalists, 10 Celebrities, 3 from Business, a Trade unionist, 3 Academics, 2 Religious guest, 2 Campaigners and 1 overseas guest.

Source The New Statesman

How do these numbers represent the:

  • 6.23 million Trade union members in the country?
  • 6 million regular churchgoers?
  • 15 million people who volunteer regularly
  • 4.8 million Self-employed, and 25 million private sector employees?

The broadest definition, gives all of these groups combined just 8 of 60 neutral guests, yet we have 38 journalists and 10 celebrities on the panels.

This is a media class talking to and representing a media class, and not talking to or representing you and me.  Thereby failing to perform the democratic function of the fourth estate.

The media excludes so many, because in spending so much time talking to themselves, they develop a group think and their reporting falls into a pre-defined narrative.

Most weekends in London some thousands of people are marching for campaigns they believe in.  Whether the protests be from Kurds, Tamils, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Environmentalists, Tommy Robinson supporters, Socialist Workers, Trade Unionists or many large faith celebrations.  These often large marches get no mainstream media coverage.

Indeed this weekend I notices Croydon North MP Steve Reed had posted pictures from a General and Municipal Workers Union rally.  Desperate for content for this speech I searched the internet for news on the rally.  Despite decent attendance, and a reasonably senior opposition MP attending.  I simply couldn’t find any.  No one bothered to report it.

They simply do not fit their narrative.  Somehow rallies and even when thousands are marching are not as significant as a Tweet or Instagram post fellow member of the media.

Even locally we see a poor reporting of politics in Croydon.  Now whilst I would clearly like to thank the wonderful dedicated journalists who have reported the press releases I have sent them.  All too often the local papers will simply report the latest press release from the council and little else.

Their narrative does not extend to the non-partisan but often political activities of local residents associations, the large number of Socialist events emanating from Ruskin House, the press releases of opposition councillors or minor parties in the borough.

Indeed during the referendum only the sadly now defunct Croydon Citizen reported on either sides activities, nothing from the Croydon Advertiser or Croydon Guardian about large local dynamic local campaigns.

During that period I was interviewed by German, French, Korean, and Danish TV, Radio and Papers.  Not once was I interviewed by someone from the mainstream Croydon press.

A photoshoot at a new venue with the sitting MP is possibly more newsworthy than the many local campaigns that drive democracy.  Should this mean the other local campaigns should be excluded from all coverage?

Left or Right is an outdated way of viewing media bias it is now whether you are inside out outside their groupthink.

I started by saying I intended to make the argument to you that the Medias inability to represent all fairly and let a multitude of ideas have voice, has directly led to many seeking alternative often more extreme voices. 

We see that many people receive their news via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sources.  Momentum, Brietbart, The Canary, Al Jazeera, and Russia Today have for many replaced traditional media where, although our opinions may differ we coalesce around a basic set of events, news source and ideas needed for a functioning democracy.

The lack of us ever coming together enables us to more readily attack each other’s motives and attack each other as individuals rather than simply questioning each other ideas.

Not feeling represented between elections makes us less likely to participate in and trust in elections. 

By this means the media are destroying our democracy.

Summing up

I have been making the argument that if you sit outside the Medias acceptable narrative you are at first ignored then undermined.  This leads to an alienation that undermines our democracy.

In the US they dismissed the chances of Trump winning, now attack anyone who supports him.  No matter the truth or age of those involved.

You may have seen reports in the last couple of weeks of the standoff between students from Covington Catholic High School and Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memoria in Washington.  I want to share this from CNN

“Videos of the confrontation show a smiling young man in a red Make America Great Again hat standing directly in front of the man, who was playing a drum and chanting.

“Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha tribe, said the confrontation felt like “hate unbridled.” In the moment, he said he was scared for his safety and the safety of those with him.”

Except this simply did not happen.  The entire report is and was at the time a provable lie.  If Mr Phillips was scared, why then did he walk directly into the group of students who were simply waiting for a bus?

CNN and other news agencies including the BBC and Sky News here knew this, they had the extended video that shows what I have just described.

Of course they had a native, a set of acceptable ideas.  Their narrative was MAGA hat bad, Christian’s bad, Native Americans good.  Facts at no point were allowed to get in the way of this prejudiced view.

Incidentally I am not mentioning the name of the 16 year old involved, because I am simply unlike the mainstream media not attacking someone who is innocent and legally not an adult.  Those so called reporters that did should be thoroughly ashamed.

Source CNN

You can understand why Donald Trump often refers to CNN as ‘fake news’.  How much faith in CNN and the mainstream media do 63 million Trump voters or 70 million US Catholics attack now have?

Over here perhaps the most egregious example of the media narrative at play in the past year has been in the treatment of Jordan Peterson.

His book 12 rules for life is a UK Amazon Best Seller.  Shows here were sold out and he is an internet sensation.  In short he is popular, very popular.

But his beliefs in traditional values sit outside the mainstream media narrative.

His interviews on BBCs Hardtalk, The Today Programme and famously on Channel 4 with Cathy Newman’s showed the worst the media has to offer.

They hectored him;

  • accused him of being angry, he was calm;
  • accused him of being sexist, no evidence was given;
  • accused him of saying things he has never said.

In the course of the interview Cathy Newman asked:

  • ‘What gives you the right to say that?’ – a question that shouldn’t be asked in a free country.
  • ‘I think I take issue with (that)’ – why is a journalist who role is to ask questions, taking issue, especially on a TV channel legally bound to be neutral?

He’s popular, very popular.  His is most popular with younger men and women who are struggling with fitting in.  Has the Mainstream media helped bring them in or deliberately pushed them out?

This is a media that won’t accept you if you don’t confirm to their views.  They try to ignore ideas outside their agenda and then if they can’t ignore the ideas, attack those that support them.  This alienates large portions of our society, often the majority, and undermines our democracy as we lack a common narrative of events.

I will finish by quoting Douglas Murray the Spectator columnist on the Cathy Newman interview.  This nicely summarises so much wrong with the media.

“If yesterday’s interview is anything to go by, all she has is attitudes. And lazy attitudes at that.

That isn’t news. It isn’t even interviewing. It is grandstanding.

This nation’s broadcasters should feel ashamed.”

Source The Spectator

Libertarian Party Orange County, California

We’ve all heard of the Republican and Democratic Parties in the USA, but the third party of the US is the Libertarian Party. Third place in the last 2 presidential elections it is a party that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and shrinking the size and scope of government. When I was recently in Orange County California, I visited the local chapter www.lpoc.org at their Executive Committee Meeting.

Part of the greater Los Angeles area, Orange Country contains a number of cities including Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, Fullerton and Newport Beach where at the public library the meeting was held. In the 2018 House elections, Orange County, a famously Republican island in Democratic California, elected 6 Democrats for the House of Representatives, taking 4 seats from the Republicans.

Orange County has 1.7 million registered voters, of whom 13,000 (~1%) are registered Libertarians. The party has about 80 members, and like all minor parties’ struggles with a lack of resources to get its message out. As someone who has sat on many a committee meeting for a smaller party, the meeting felt very familiar and reassuring, if slightly depressing that I travelled 5000 miles and the challenges are much the same.

How did the Libertarians fair in the last elections?

California operates a top two primary system for many (but not all) races, whereby the top two candidates in the primaries run off in the main election. This often means both candidates are from the same party. The system works against smaller parties and meant the Libertarians had very few candidates in the local elections. The party have been successful in raising concerns about the system in the local media https://ocweekly.com/third-parties-shafted-again-in-oc-on-nov-ballot-thanks-to-jungle-primaries/

In Orange County between local, state wide and national elections, the Libertarians did field three candidates. This included a 2nd place finish with 24.8% of the vote in 69th district race for the California Assembly. In neighbouring Riverside county Libertarian Jeff Hewitt won a role on the board of supervisors (think something like a GLA member). In this race he raised $600,000 more than UKIP and the Greens spent combined in the 2017 General Election and was still outspent 3 times by the Republican candidate he beat.

Getting onto ballots varies by election type. Some elections require a filing fee, some only signatures, which requires a lot of campaign effort https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_requirements_for_political_candidates_in_California. Once you are on the ballot, getting basic information out to voters in the formal information packs can cost thousands of dollars.

The focus for the party now is the 2020 election cycle and getting candidates elected. They really are focused on winning elections. Emphasised a few times in the meeting was the need to focus on issues not philosophy, and the need to be a political party not a philosophy club. There was a strong feeling Libertarians had for too long been focused on ideology rather than getting votes. The Chair used the slogan “reasonable solutions for issues we all care about”, which felt a great way to move forward. Have Libertarian principles, but be relevant to people.

Local campaigning differs in a few ways in the US. Anyone who has campaigned in the UK will know the joy of finding, using and trying to not get bitten by, letter boxes. In the US the federal government owns your ‘mailbox’ as such leafleting is less of a feature. You can leave a leaflet on a porch or stuck in a door, but can be fined if deposited in a mailbox. The feds wanting campaigns to pay the US Postal Service for leaflet delivery. The local party runs a table at the student fair, operates on social media and does canvassing although this really requires greater numbers of people than available.

Everywhere there is more money in US politics, even the local group has exceeded the $2000 funding threshold to report to California Political Practices Commission. This is someway north of what most small local parties in the UK would have. They are thinking of investing some of this in a button making machine, something very American. Much like at home where local Labour and Conservative clubs support but aren’t officially linked to the party the group has two Libertarian clubs (groups that meet up) which are a mix of party and social gatherings.

What are the issues in Orange County?

The main traction for the Libertarians is fiscal conservativism, with lots of support for social media posts on less regulation for businesses and lower taxes. They are also starting to focus on the more positive immigration stance of the party to set them apart from the Republicans. In an area where housing is as expensive as London, zoning rules to help reduce property costs is also coming to the fore.

It was great to see a bit of politics from across the pond. Also how a smaller party operates with a lot stacked against them. The fight for individual freedom and liberty really matters, and these guys plugging away for it get my support every time.

Author Mike Swadling

Are we really so green to believe this?

2018 has seen another great push for action on Climate Change. This included the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issuing a report warning that the world has:

‘only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report.

Among the report’s recommendations are that we move away from eating meat, dairy and eat locally sourced food (yes we have no bananas). It also recommends that we annually spend $2.4 trillion on greening the energy system between 2016 and 2035. This equates to over 3% of global GDP.

They warn that the world is currently 1 degree C warmer than pre-industrial levels. This report was covered as if holy writ by the mainstream media across the globe, but the basic premise of the report raises some interesting concerns.

We are being asked to commit to a further loss of national sovereignty and join a global $2.4 trillion effort on climate change that would necessarily impose changes of diet on the British people. For this to happen I believe the following 3 tests must be passed.

  1. The globe is warming – the climates always changes, only the original concern of global warming is meaningful.
  2. The warming is man-made – if this isn’t as a result of human influenced greenhouse gas emissions, then the prescribed actions are meaningless.
  3. The warming will be catastrophic – there is little point in taking action if the impact is only two more weeks of summer and not much else.

The answers to these tests must be a matter of science not feelings or politics. Credit must go to Dennis Prager and his show for these.

Does the sciencesupport that Catastrophic Man Made Global Warming ishappening?

Addressing the first test ‘the globe is warming’. The official NASA global temperature data shows from February 2016 to February 2018 “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius”. The biggest two-year drop in the past century, but you may not have heard this in the media. Global temperatures have not increased for much of this century.

Is the warming man-made? Despite some in the media saying the Sun doesn’t cause global warming (it really does), there is evidence that the warming isn’t man-made. Sun spot activity has been on the increase in the time that the globe did warm and “will probably be able to account for somewhere between half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century“. Volcanos beneath the Antarctic ice sheet are ‘contributing to rapidly melting glacier’. Again from Prager University we need to ask ourselves, What Do Scientists Say? It is also worth asking what caused previous climate change and why would this simply not be the same now? – https://youtu.be/RkdbSxyXftc.

Is the warming catastrophic? Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and a believer in man-made global warming doesn’t seem to think so https://youtu.be/3PWtaackIJU. Nigel Lawson sums up the concern of catastrophic climate change in his paper The Trouble with Climate Change when he says:

‘The fact remains that the most careful empirical studies show that, so far at least, there has been no perceptible increase, globally, in either the number or the severity of extreme weather events. And, as a happy coda, these studies also show that, thanks to scientific and material progress, there has been a massive reduction, worldwide, in deaths from extreme weather events.’

So is the scare about ‘climate change’ really a question of science or politics? Patrick Moore who helped to create Greenpeace, and then left it, explains in this video https://youtu.be/BpBnJq19R60 ‘What began as a mission to improve the environment for the sake of humanity became a political movement in which humanity became the villain and hard science a non-issue’.

We often hear 97% of scientists agree that climate change is real. Alex Epstein, founder of the Centre for Industrial Progress, reveals the origins of the bogus “97%” figure Do 97% of Climate Scientists Really Agree?

Whilst it is clear the climate is changing, it is not clear that Catastrophic Man Made Global Warming is happening. What is however clear, is that we shouldn’t squander our sovereignty and wealth on a battle that will impoverish the developing world, and strip us of freedoms we enjoy today.

Author Mike Swadling 18th December 2018

Join statement by the founders of the Croydon Constitutionalists – Croydon Chairman and Committee member leave UKIP

UKIP in Croydon has suffered a double resignation with both the branch Chairman, Dan Heaton and the Campaigns Manager, Mike Swadling resigning from the Party.

Mike, their Croydon North candidate in the 2017 General Election previously ran the borough wide Vote Leave campaign for the 2016 EU Membership Referendum, with Dan Heaton being the lead for the Croydon Central constituency.  They have both also stood in local elections for UKIP.

In a joint statement Dan and Mike said:

“UKIP has achieved great things in the last 25 years, culminating with the vote to regain our nation’s sovereignty by leaving the EU.  At a time that the delivery of this is under threat and UKIP should be the natural home for all Brexiteers, the party has stepped away from serious electoral politics. 

UKIP by its constitution is a “democratic, libertarian Party” https://www.ukip.org/ukip-page.php?id=07. It had a proud stance of not accepting membership of former National Front, EDL and BNP members.  The only major party to take this stance.  The close association of Gerard Batten with Tommy Robinson has brought this to an end.  That Tommy Robinson is in a position only in a personal capacity to Gerard Batten, and not a party position, is a distinction without merit.

Gerard’s actions have now driven Bill Etheridge MEP to the Libertarian Party and Patrick O’Flynn to the SDP.  These MEPs represent both wings of a respectable UKIP and like us neither feel they have a place in the current party.”

In early 2018 Dan and Mike set-up the Croydon Constitutionalists https://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/, a non-partisan events and campaigning group.  The group’s purpose is to promote a Classically Liberal set of ideas and encourage others to campaign and promote individual freedom.  We will continue to promote a Classically Liberal philosophy locally and organise Brexit events to ensure the result ofthe 2016 vote is honoured, we remain a democratic nation and finally leave the EU.

Croydon Guardian

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