In the UK we’ve faced a wet summer, whilst we’ve been told Europe burns. Are we being told the truth? Are these problems man-made or due to climate change? If climate change, what if anything should we do about it?
As ever, the narrative we are fed from politicians and the mainstream media consists of a load of half-truths presented in a way which is designed to mislead. Parts of Europe may have had an uncommonly hot summer, but to frame that as part of a climate ‘emergency’ is completely disingenuous, and to attribute it to the wildfires is spurious in the extreme.
Everyone knows that the ignition point of paper is 451 degrees Fahrenheit. For wood, grass and all similar substances, it is generally between 450 and 500 degrees, so there is no way a temperature of 120 degrees – the hottest ever recorded in Europe – can cause the spontaneous combustion of grassland or scrub. In all cases, the wildfires could not have been started without the heat being magnified in some way or, as is more likely, an external heat source being applied. In short, the wildfires will have been started by human activity, deliberately or by accident, and not as a result of climate change.
Dry grass obviously makes the fires easier to spread, but that is caused more by prolonged dry spells than a few days of high temperatures, and is a normal characteristic of the summer climate which doesn’t usually result in a mass panic. Most, if not all, of the fires could have been avoided if people used their brains and took appropriate care.
The climate, of course, is permanently in a state of flux, and will warm up and cool down over periods of centuries as it always does. The only thing for us to do as adapt to it, as humans in times past did by wearing fur and hides to keep the cold out, or taking advantage of the warm summers to grow apricots, musk melons and figs, as we did in Tudor times. As friends of the Croydon Constitutionalists will know, Croydon’s name means ‘Valley of the Crocus’, commemorating its Roman use as a centre for saffron production. If the temperature gets warm enough, we could revive that industry.
Post-Industrial Revolution, the scope for mankind to overcome and adapt to obstacles has never been greater. There will always be options, and it is up for us to try them, reject them or improve them as we see fit. We do not need to take heed of the agenda-driven zealots who tell us we should all become miserable vegans and have our energy consumption monitored. As a case in point, a carbon-neutral synthetic fuel has recently been developed for internal combustion engines – no thanks to politicians, prophets of doom and their electric-car fixation – and works interchangeably with petrol, making the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles look pretty stupid.
Scott Neville, Hampshire Independents
There is a lot of things to unpack there. The first thing to remember is that the media is not there to tell you the facts, they are there to sell you the news, so there is always going to be some blurring of the truth to make it more marketable. So has the UK summer been wet…. yes, but it’s not been wet by biblical proportions and the UK has a long history of rubbish weather and it raining more than we want, ok sure its rained a lot more than we would want, but I don’t think this is anything that exceptional. I don’t really think there is anything special about the weather in the UK other than “it’s been a bit wetter than usual”.
Europe is a little different, so you ask, “are these problems man-made or due to climate change?” I would say, yes and yes. The south of Europe has always been hot, if the Mediterranean Sea were to be dammed in the straits of Gibraltar it would dry up as more water evaporates out of the sea than flows into it from the rivers of Europe/Africa. Given the longest river in the world connects to it, that tells you a LOT of water evaporates. So, it’s pretty hot there and always has been. So, the man-made bit. Historically a lot of farming has been conducted by small scale family farms in the south of Europe, they have had small fields which are well suited to the hilly terrain. This kind of landscape is far less suited to large scale farming. Now the EU really hates small scale farmers, they would much rather have big industrial farmers. Over the years a lot of these small-scale farmers have been put out of business and the big industrial ones have taken over some of the land. This is a critical change, because the fires while in part might be caused by slightly hotter temperatures, they are mostly caused by an abundance of fuel on the ground in these now abandoned fields.
We have seen this many times in other countries like Australia where the indigenous people would burn the land regularly to remove the excess fuel. For some reason we hold a certain arrogance over such things now, where our leaders have decided these people don’t know what they are doing because their actions have not been derived through the scientific method (which makes no sense when you consider the religious cult of “The Science” where is totally acceptable to abuse people in the street for contradicting the first slightly official looking thing you found on Google and academics like Peter Boghossian have shown deep flaws in the peer review process in some fields).
Now, I am all for the scientific method, both my degrees (BSc – Hons – 1st & MSc – Distinction) are in Science, so I am well signed up to the Scientific method (I don’t like to brag about my education, because you should judge me on the quality of my research / arguments / findings, but it was more to show that I am not some fly-by-night that looked up the definition of science yesterday, I have devoted my life to it). I really don’t agree with the modern fad of “there are other ways of knowing” and “my truth”, there is only the truth and the only way of knowing for sure is empirical evidence which is falsifiable. However, these old cultures and people have survived for a reason, so while burning the land or small-scale farming might be done to appease some god (which I don’t accept), there might be some valid practical reason for these practices evolving. Another example might be the rules in religious texts, like thou shalt not kill, I don’t believe any god said that (because I don’t believe they exist), but I do think that’s a pretty sensible rule to produce a functioning society, i.e. the reasoning is wrong, but the outcome is sound. One obvious outcome is that these practices produce a stable environment from which humans can flourish. While I would always doubt the reasoning, I am very open to the idea that there is good reason for doing these things and sure we can change what we do, that’s fine, but let’s be pretty sure about the consequences before doing that. In essence the fires in Europe are very much man made.
Climate change, yes the climate is changing, and yes its getting hotter, that is not going to help, one thing I have learned is that Earth has a lot of reinforcing feedback loops which is counterintuitive. For example, in an ice age its colder, colder means more snow, snow is very good at reflecting heat back into space, therefore it gets colder. The same could be true here, more heat, stuff burns more easily therefore more heat. It’s interesting that the planet does always appear to have some method of correcting itself (although we don’t really understand why, and life does play a part in that so past performance is not a guide to future returns blah blah).
In terms of climate change, I think there are some important things we can (and should do as quickly as possible). Firstly, get the plastic junk out of the seas. The seas are one of the most important regulators of our climate, they are the origins of all live on earth and produce vast quantities of food, why, why, why, are we ok with all this plastic being dumped in there? We need to get all that plastic junk out and stop putting any more of it in (which includes things like shipping recycling to China where it can fall off the sides of boats). We should think a bit more carefully about what we eat too. All the arguments I see make absolutely no sense, the better thing for the climate is to eat avocados shipped in from South America rather than meat from a farm I could walk to. What? This makes no sense. We should try to eat more locally grown produce as its generally better for us, uses less energy and animals have a higher welfare standard. Now I realize that not everyone can afford that, so I don’t complain about people buying cheap food I know plenty of people can’t afford anything else, but those that can afford, in my view should (although I have no right to force them).
The final thing I think we should all do is use less energy, not in some “you will own nothing and be happy” way, but because it just makes sense, if you don’t need the lights on, turn them off, it will save you some money. Insulated homes are cheaper to heat. We are going to have a few years with power cuts over winter thanks to our inept government not planning our energy security properly and building new power plants (Nick Clegg, “it will take a decade to build a new nuclear power plant, so we won’t do that” in 2010…. well would have been pretty handy now in 2023). Using as little energy as possible will help reduce your own costs and help mitigate the supply problems. Further to this the energy we have on earth is finite and controlled by the Sun (other than nuclear, though that’s still finite), at some point in our distance future humans will need to leave Earth and find a new home, I imagine that will need quite a lot of energy, so let’s not squander it all now on lighting up the outside wall of our house at night.
The Hampshire Independents are a party of people who agree on core principles but stand as independents. We spoke with Scott Neville who is standing for them in the Oakley and The Candovers ward of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council.
I have been involved with politics for some years, the EU referendum was when I started campaigning properly. Strangely, I was never in favour of the EU referendum; I would like to see many more referendums on a whole host of issues, but I was concerned that the country was not ready for a binary choice on such a complex issue. I have lived in northeast Hampshire all my life, 28 years living in a little village just outside Basingstoke, and 8 years living in the town. In the past, I have supported the Conservative party and stood for election twice under the Libertarian Party. I believe that everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit, providing they do not hurt others.
I don’t believe the world can stand still, the world is constantly changing and will continue to do so regardless of what we might wish. I believe in evolution over revolution, we need to make changes slowly to allow people to adapt, and to avoid leaving people behind, but also to make sure we don’t destroy the good. I am perplexed by the green movement which is obsessed with concreting over wildlife for red brick houses, covering the fields in black solar panels and erecting white wind turbines. None of which involves the colour green.
We formed the party as a group of people who formerly stood either as independent candidates or for minor parties. We discovered how much the system is skewed against those candidates. We exist to try and bring some of the bigger party advantages to independent candidates across the county. Candidates can stand on whatever issues with wish – each candidate must come up with their own ideas. We have a team of people who know technology, marketing, investigations, print media, public speaking and campaigning. We don’t tell anyone what to stand for, but we make it so much easier when you can call someone up to ask how to complete the paperwork, how to deal with a press interview, how to design an eye-catching leaflet, how to canvass, etc. We host regular socials to help everyone get to know each other, between us we have people who run businesses, former police officers, people who work for large companies, young people, older people and everything else in between. We truly believe that by staying as individuals but sharing our skills and knowledge we are greater than the sum of our parts.
You’re standing in the Oakley and The Candovers Ward, can you introduce the ward to us and what you can bring to the area?
The ward is a sizable rural ward to the west and south of Basingstoke. Oakley is by far the largest part of the ward and it includes many smaller villages and is part of the Hampshire Downs (one of the bread baskets of England). The ward really highlights the differences between urban and rural living. Critical national infrastructure (London – Southampton railway, London – Sailsbury railway, M3 & A303) all run through the middle. Popham airfield to the north of the A303 and Ultrafast 1000 Mbps broadband are available in parts of Oakley. The ward also has very rural communities with houses that are not connected to mains gas or sewerage.
I think the main concern in the area is over development. We already have 500 occasions a year where sewage is pumped into the local rivers[i] and the river that runs through the town has poor ecological status[ii]. Oakley is very close to the new Manydown development which will bring potentially 10,000 new houses to Basingstoke right next to Oakley (though not in the Oakley ward). Then there is the Hounsome Fields development which is almost complete adds another 750 houses there, then there is the Golf Course development which is underway right over the road from Hounsome Fields. Various other smaller planning applications exist to fill up the countryside with more houses. Still that is not enough for Basingstoke Council, with various other options for up to another 19,000 houses under consideration, many of which are very near Oakley (potentially 2,500 in the village of Cliddesden). My concern is without some radical improvements to the infrastructure what will we be doing to the rivers?
Basingstoke and Deane Borough council have declared an “Ecological Emergency”[iii]. I would really like to know what they think is endangered? Is there some concrete worm, house spider or sewage slug that we really need to be taking care of? Despite topping the leader boards of local councils for house building, the relentless push of concrete must continue according to Basingstoke Council.
My key aim is to try and put the breaks on this obsessive overdevelopment. I was brought up in a small village and I know exactly what it is like to be priced out of that village (regardless of how much you might want to stay). That cannot be fixed by destroying all the villages with more houses. Cliddesden for example has just over 100 houses currently, do they really think it won’t be destroyed by an addition of a mere 2,500 houses?
More widely what would you like to see change at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council and across the borough?
Simple really, we need to stop seeing concrete and new housing development as the answer to everything. I think the top of the town really needs a bit of a rethink, once the centre for shopping in Basingstoke, now forgotten side street to Festival Place. The big problem is that the top of town lacks speculative shops, you go there for a reason (like to go to the Bank, the estate agent or takeaway) then you leave. It is not a place you go looking round which gives it a deserted and abandoned vibe. The council could do some good here, taking ownership of some of the abandoned units (such as the post office or Lloyds Bank) and turning them into smaller retail units with lower rents for shops. The upstairs could still be converted into flats (as is being done now), but something to help spread out the shopping rather than it all being rammed into Festival Place (which is impossible to get into at Christmas due to the traffic queues clogging up the town).
I would also like to see better access to the re-cycling centres, we have seen fly tipping go up thanks to decisions made by the council. One of our researchers[iv] discovered that less than 1% of fly-tipping incidents lead to a successful prosecution. We need to find a better way to address that, but in the short term I would like to see more availability at the recycling centres.
During Covid Hampshire County Council introduced a booking system for them, I don’t think we need to get rid of that as it has a positive effect on the number of people queuing, Wade Road used to be a nightmare with cars queuing. Needing to book two days in advance is a pain, my fence does not collapse with two days’ notice! Sometimes people need to use these services at short notice, so being able to book same day (subject to capacity limits) would be very useful. Perhaps coupled with a fine for those that book slots who don’t turn up.
How can people find out more or get in touch if they want to get involved?
The party is on Facebook and Twitter. We have our website which outlines more about us, our founders and some of the basic principles we follow (we also have a series of opinion pieces from our candidates and supporters) https://hantsind.com. You can always email me to [email protected].
Political campaigner and charity founder John Broadfoot.
Prediction: Boris will still be PM at year end because people have short memories and if Boris is seen to have managed the exit from Covid well in 2022 medically/commercially (by design or sheer luck) then people will rank his Covid statesmanlike performance as much more important long term than Boris’s personal problems.
Prediction: Keir Starmer still lacks charisma and real policies, so Labour may not even have any poll lead at all by year end if Boris Covid exit goes well compared to EU etc. and there will be calls for his replacement
Prediction: The increasing threat of Russia(Ukraine) and China(Taiwan) will have to be seriously addressed by a global cohesive Western response led by USA to these real threats from the East.
Prediction: Despite fantastic campaigning by the Croydon Conservatives , the incompetent , morally and economically bankrupt, Croydon Labour Council undeservedly, unfortunately, will be re-elected because antics of Boris at UK level not well received locally if Covid exit goes badly wrong. . I HOPE NOT !
Prediction: More terrible environmental disasters, bigger loss of life – realisation that COP 26 not enough and new COP 27 summit by year end or early/mid 2023.
Wish: I expect we will not finish off the Covid virus completely until vaccination is compulsory as France /Italy are seriously considering (except for bona fide medical grounds). As this will not happen(until 2023 earliest ) I would like to see big incentives for those who vaccinate e.g. greater freedom of movement and completely free NHS and by contrast big penalties for those who won’t vaccinate e.g. limited movement(families, pubs/clubs/shops/cinemas/theatres) and limited access/longer waiting times to the NHS or paying to use parts of the NHS( to cover cost of increased protection for NHS staff.)
Wish: Our febrile left wing, Remain, out of control biased UK media brought under bias balance control and more accountable to tell the truth and not make up stories if there is no real news. Not going to happen !
Wish: I would like to see Scotland given another Independence Referendum because following basic Brexit principles being all about bringing democracy back from Brussels to London, so I think
EVERY country in the world should be independent and self-governing – but it won’t happen of course!
Prediction: I think that the high street will start to make a comeback, not in the way that we know it and it will really depends on how local councils support them. However, I think that we will see much smaller much more specialised shops return to the high street, possibly coupled with coffee shops, bakeries and cafes which make the high street a place to go to for something specific where you can grab a coffee and cake with friend at the same time. The massive department stores will be consigned to the history books and the high street will become much more agile place, fuelled by councils trying to get people to use public transport and the ever increasing cost of car ownership.
Prediction: I think the way we work will change and there will be a very big shift in the employment market. I think the mentality of workers follows a Gaussian distribution with the ten percenters at each end. The ten percenters will drive change, at one extreme end there is the ten percent with the view of “that’s it, no one will ever go back to the office ever and I will be working at home for the rest of my life, everyone thinks this is wonderful and the office is finished”. The other end is the ten percenters that think at some point this year everyone will be mandated to be back in the office 5 days a week full time and that’s that, home working is a fad and the sooner it’s over the better. Most companies will be somewhere in the middle with a mixture of home working and office working (attempting to keep the 80% happy). The ten percenters at either end will readily jump company when they realise their vision is not going to pan out. I think we will start to see a change in the way we value employees with people that do stuff that matters (like lorry drivers, shop workers, etc) being more valued. There will be a massive backlash from a small group of people who do jobs which are currently considered high status, but in the grand scheme of keeping a society going don’t do much of benefit. The perceived status of these jobs will be reduced and the people in these jobs will naturally be upset. There will be a lot of tension from this, but I think it will be a good change, as we start to value people who actually do the work that keeps the world turning.
Wish: What do I hope will happen. Well I hope that we return start to return to an age of reason. Most people are intelligent enough to realise that no one person or small group can conceptualise all risk that exists in the world, the dictatorial policies over Covid we have seen have been massively damaging. I would like to see a return to a time where information is reported and people make their own decisions. Most of the key discoveries and inventions came from people using their own reason and we need to encourage that. The big parties are utterly clueless on this issue and Britain’s key to success is people working in sheds innovating because they enjoy it and they are free to use their own minds. This applies to things like Covid too, 99% of people will make sensible decisions given full access to information. Climate change and pollution can be addressed with the same answer, empower people with the freedom and the information to make the world better and they will…. it just might not be the exact world that those in power imagined.
Prediction: Covid 19 will continue throughout 2022 with restrictions lifted in the summer but with new variants by autumn ? . The government will continue to use their new found powers on our freedoms and liberties.
Prediction: There is no doubt the country, especially small business and the working classes are going to suffer badly in 2022. With inflation, higher taxes, green taxes, VAT, increase in National Insurance, energy price increases, job loses and full digital currency all leading to serious mental health issues. Remember, these are the unsung heroes who kept the infrastructure of this country going for the last 22 months during Covid. Digital currency will be another way to control us by cutting off our access to money.
My wishes. Too many working class and small businesses have been harmed by Covid and for what? There are no real systems in place for all the mental health, existing and new cancers, heart problems, diabetes and millions of cancelled operations. If the NHS cannot cope every year with the flu. How does the NHS catch up with the millions who may die from lack of diagnosis and or treatment? The government need to cut a lot of these taxes, stop the NI increase, cut VAT as promised and bring in the armed forces medics to help with operations and start reducing the waiting list all over the country.
I wish in 2022, that the government pay the Waspi women their pension backdated to 60. I wish that the government do not vote to cut the triple lock, not cut prescription charges to the over 60’s and not cut the bus pass. Pensioners in this country are on one of the lowest pensions in Europe. Over 60’s are being hit particularly hard. Don’t put them into severe hardship.
There are people suffering financially and with health issues including death. The government need to cut funding else where and start looking after the people suffering in this country. Equality is suppose to matter in this country. All four countries who make up the uk should be equal and all citizens within the uk should be equal too.
Maureen Martin of the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA). Maureen has been London Assembly, Parliamentary and Council candidate for the CPA. You can follow Maureen on Twitter.
Prediction: The 2020 Nov 3rd Presidential election be proved to be completely fraudulent and stolen by the Democrats. Joe Biden exposed as illegitimate and the entire administration removed from office.
Prediction: End of the fake pandemic and the entire thing exposed to be the scam that it is. The main stream media exposed as responsible for peddling fear, misinformation and outright propaganda.
Wish: What I would like to see happen: the destruction of the CCP in China who are enemies of freedom and the Judaeo Christian West. The release of the Chinese people from their totalitarian oppression.
Reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is enshrined in UK Law. With COP26 in Glasgow the news is full of stories about Climate Change and Global Warming. With all the main parties in agreement on the policy we have recently seen calls for the people of Britain to have a choice via a referendum on Net Zero. Nigel Farage has hinted he could campaign, articles have appeared in the Spectator, and Gaia Fawkes sums the position up brilliantly when they say:
“Politicians seem very keen to avoid a Net Zero Referendum. It’s a project without democratic legitimacy. Let the politicians who want us to eat bugs, have cold showers, lukewarm heat pumped houses, higher energy bills and far more expensive foreign holidays, make their case!”
As a group that came together to fight a referendum on membership of the EU, we thought we would ask you, what your views are on Net Zero, a possible Referendum, and more generally the environment.
Thanks to Peter Sonnex, Jeremy Wraith, Dr Tom Rogers, and Scott Neville for their responses.
Peter Sonnex, former Brexit Party candidate and political campaigner.
Is global warming a threat?
Global warming may be a threat to the planet, if only we knew! That the climate has always been in flux is true – so what is the ideal status quo or permanent reversal we are trying to engineer? And, at what cost, if our UK 1% contribution may amount to £1 Trillion to mitigate?
Climate and Covid catastrophists are one and the same – doing stuff just in case, if it saves just one ounce of carbon or one life. And, we know the government can’t do cost benefit analysis.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
Referenda are only offered when the establishment believes it can win. The Brexit result confirmed both arrogance and a lack of connection to the electorate. Neither the government, nor the opposition, will risk a climate referendum.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
Firstly, we must allow the developing world their industrial revolution. The world, where energy poverty is no longer a significant factor, will be in a better position to adapt to ever changing climactic conditions – perhaps even influence the most extreme effects.
Secondly, I think we should be pursuing nuclear power – capital plants, small modular nuclear reactors and fusion – with more vigour and investment. We should be emulating the example of our sun, not trying to fight against it.
With nuclear power comes the energy to desalinate and move water, ending the reality of water poverty and potential conflict. Hydrogen through electrolysis becomes entirely viable. Hydrogen can be stored, and with fossil fuels provide stored, potential energy and, therefore, energy security.
The CPA affirms that we have a duty to be the best possible custodians of God’s creation — our planet and its natural resources. We therefore have a developed programme of policies for greening the economy and transport, which you can find in our 2019 Manifesto (www.cpaparty.net).
Our approach to ‘climate change’ is a sensible and cautionary one. We have to be very careful about being panicked or coerced into measures that in themselves would be catastrophic to our industries, economy and human freedoms in response to alarmist claims of a ‘climate emergency’ and ‘climate extinction’. Contrary to the establishment narrative that ‘the science is settled’ (in itself an unscientific statement) the extent to which recent changes in temperatures are unnatural, dangerous to our survival and/or caused by human activity are questions still contested by many scientists, and which require much more open scientific freedom, investigation and debate than is currently being allowed. The earth’s climate after all has never been something static but has always been constantly changing and evolving in the absence of human presence or attempted control.
We would therefore implement effective but proportionate policies best in themselves for the environment and long-term provision for humanity, and not just because they reduce carbon omissions. It is right that we seek to eliminate pollution, continuously improve energy efficiency, increase recycling, and strive to further the use of renewable sources of energy, and we have detailed policies in all these areas which we would support also at a local level.
Potentially, it depends on how far it goes and I don’t believe we have sufficiently accurate data to know for sure. The important thing to consider is the word “threat”, is any of this a threat to the planet, no, the planet will be fine regardless. If the planet was going to boil away with a self-reinforcing loop of heating it would have done so millions of years ago. However any change is always a threat to some people (and potentially a benefit to others), so yes global warming or global cooling does pose a threat to some of humanity regardless how big or small. There could however be a big threat to humanity, I personally don’t believe all the doomsday predictions, but I accept I might be wrong, and I accept totalitarian government is a very big threat too.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
I am unsure. I don’t believe in enforcing many things is just, because the use of force against another is wrong, holding a referendum does not suddenly make me believe this is ok (as many found the presence of an EU referendum does not make their belief in themselves less European). I simply don’t agree with a tyranny of majority. Any referendum would be fought on religious grounds (the fastest growing religion of “the science”) and that will just lead to far more anger and fighting with everyone becoming more ideologically entrenched rather than trying to examine empirical fact and critically assess information presented.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
Waste is by far the biggest problem, filling up our landscapes with all this scrap, use once and throw away plastics. The debate is so skewed it’s all about paper vs plastic straws rather than “why do most people even need a straw?” or make sure that you put your plastic bottles in the correct bin rather than “you will be going back to the supermarket at some point, the lorry that delivers to the supermarket will go back to the factory, just take the damn bottles back and refill them”. Energy production needs to focus on nuclear, particularly research in nuclear fusion where the UK is already a world leader, bizarrely we don’t say much about our achievements despite our achievement in making Didcot the hottest place in the solar system (briefly) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/didcot-was-hottest-place-in-solar-system-gj9wg258f.
You can read more about Scott and the Hampshire Independents in his interview with us, or listen to him one of our recent Podcasts.
This is the first set of your responses, further responses can be found in Part 2
We are joined by Steve Kelleher, the recent London Mayoral candidate for the SDP, and Scott Neville, the Co-Founder of the Hampshire Independents, as we discuss the lack of an effective opposition to the current Government and where a future opposition might come from.
The Hampshire Independents are a political party that seeks to tailor efforts towards the specific needs of individual Hampshire communities. The party does not have a top down manifesto, instead it has a number of principles and members focus on what they believe is right for their area.
We speak with Scott Neville a party founder and the Nominating Officer. Scott campaigned for both the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the EU referendum in 2016 believing that it’s never wrong to ask the electorate. He is very keen to promote a low tax environment which makes it easy to do business while supporting and encouraging business to do social good.
Scott thanks for your time.
Can you tell us about your political background and what led to the setting up of the Hampshire Independents?
Sure. I have been interested in politics for a long time. When I was younger I considered myself to be a Conservative, but that was about 20 years ago. I would have thought myself a bit of a traditionalist, and I have long thought that people should be as self-reliant as possible. If most people can look after themselves without help, it makes it easier to help those who are unable to. As I got older my views shifted somewhat and today I would sit somewhere between a classical liberal and a libertarian. I have become very socially liberal, and would have no problems with things like three person marriages, and no problem with transgenderism (I honestly don’t see the point of even recording gender on most official documents, if you are not hurting anyone who cares?). I have remained fiscally conservative believing we should strive for a low tax economy with very carefully selected public spending and I see no problem with big innovation receiving big reward. Part of this has made me a staunch localist I believe decisions should be made as close to the people they effect as possible.
I have stood for election under the Libertarian Party banner twice, once in a general and once locally. I found I was less happy about this locally, while I still believed in libertarian values, I found there were some issues where feeling was strong and because of the background there was no way forward without involving the council. I would not consider myself an ideologue more of a pragmatist so I was happy to accept in certain specific situations the will of the area needed to override my own beliefs (this might be just getting over a hump, rather than becoming fundamentally statist).
I have known Alan Stone for some years, and we attended a number of events together where we would learn about local candidates and parties. I remember leaving one event thinking “what the heck was that, I am just going to draw something on the ballot paper as I can’t support any of them”. I was already thinking that national politics should be kept out of local politics, and this cemented it. Alan had much the same view, and that night outside Basingstoke railway station the two of us, plus two others decided to form Basingstoke Independent Group (with a slogan of vote BIG). Over the next few days we spoke about it with friends who were also involved with politics, there were people from all over the county that were interested in having a local party which puts local politics first and national politics were left at the door. While vote BIG was a good slogan, Basingstoke Independent Group was really not going to work for a candidate in Southampton. From that Hampshire Independents was born; a new party with no central manifesto, just a few key intentions with the expectation that each candidate comes up with their own ideas.
The Hampshire Independents principles include ‘More visible policing’ and ‘an infrastructure-first policy on development’. Can you tell us more about what these mean and some of the other principles?
Our principals are there as a starting point for local politics, they are to provide a baseline without getting into specifics. I will talk about the two you have brought up. We have a couple of members who have worked in some capacity for the police. Steve James-Bailey was an officer for over 20 years in Hampshire Constabulary, and I have worked in IT building and supporting some of the UKs policing systems. Between us we have a fair idea of how to keep common crime under control. Both the party leadership, and Steve supported the original Peelian principals of policing; the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets. This does not mean loads of arrests, but a degree of confidence that someone from law enforcement will be seen walking up and down trouble hotspots. The objective is clear: to make people feel safer. How this is implemented could vary from town to town; there are plenty of ways to do it from council enforcement officers, to staff paid for by Business Improvement Districts, or PCSO’s even local businesses just group funding for security guards. We have no prescription of how this is done, it needs to be tailored to each town.
The other point you mentioned is infrastructure first policy. This is a common complaint that we hear. New developments (be they industrial or residential), go up for planning without wider consideration for the needed infrastructure. Hampshire has capacity problems with processing waste water in some areas, and it is far from unusual to see upgrade works as part of a planning application, but then delays happen and the upgrades take longer than expected. We also see this with traffic. Often, new smaller developments are tacked on, and they can have a significant impact on the existing residents. We don’t think this is right, yes we may need new developments but it should not come at the expense of existing residents, any infrastructure improvements needed should come first. As with our principles, what matters locally is up to each candidate to decide depending on local needs, there will be different infrastructure problems across the county and we will not have a one size fits all policy.
Our other principles are:
Doing what is right for your area first
Support for local apprenticeships
Work to improve recycling, both in where its processed and how much is collected
Borough councillors to return their basic allowance to the community via charity (expenses for travel, food where relevant can be claimed, any additional committee work would be paid)
Support local businesses, buy locally
Encourage start-up business where possible
Council-controlled social housing
For those not familiar with Hampshire politics, what are the big issues in the county?
There are 3 main issues really:
To explain a little more. Hampshire is a really tough county to police; Hampshire Constabulary is responsible for 2 counties, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Most multi county police forces (Thames Valley for example) don’t have to deal with the sea separating the two counties. During a major incident allocating resources from say Reading to Slough in Thames Valley is very easy, it is just a drive up the motorway. Allocating resources from Portsmouth to Cowes is not easy as a ferry needs to be involved. Added to this Hampshire is a big mix of urban and rural areas. Southampton for example, is a major city with one of the UK’s busiest ports. We also have Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy and another major city. This is combined with parts of the South Downs National Park and the Hampshire Downs one of the breadbaskets of England. We therefore get a big mix of both urban and rural crime. Hampshire Constabulary is also considered one of the lowest funded police forces in the country; other forces are able to increase their income through the host force model with other specialist agencies, (such as hosting counter-terrorism units, or serious fraud units). Other forces like the Metropolitan Police are able to increase their revenue by licencing their brand through things like children’s detective sets. Hampshire lacks both of these, so there is a real struggle with funding. As a result, most minor crime is simply not investigated and this has a real serious impact on the public’s perception of the police. You often hear things like: “the police just don’t care about burglary”, can you imagine how awful that would feel? Knowing that someone broke into your house, went through your most private possessions, and the police just don’t appear to care?
Development is another one that comes up time and time again. Hampshire has good rail links with London, a decent port in Southampton and generally a well educated workforce. The north of Hampshire also brushes the M4 corridor which is the silicone valley of the UK. As a result, we see some very high house prices here (not London high, but still high), but with loads of countryside developers are very interested in getting massive plots of land for big new developments. In my area of Basingstoke, it often feels like an overdeveloped version of “what have the Romans ever done for us”? “Well apart from the extension of Beggarwood, the development the other-side of the A30, the building on the football club, the new houses in Brighton Hill, the new houses by the Hospital, Merton Rise, the development of Basingstoke Golf Club and the 10,000 houses in Manydown, what developments are there?…. The 10,000 houses proposed on the Portsmouth Settled Estates, and don’t forget the Motorway Services”. I do understand people need places to live, but we also really need to think about the road infrastructure to allow these people to do simple things like get to the shops. We also hear about the climate emergency, but this does not appear to matter when there is concrete and tarmac for houses to cover all those plants. The same is true with some of the solar farms, there are numerous proposals to put solar farms all over the county, so we can burn more fossil fuels importing food rather than growing more food here.
Town centres are another big issue, most of the town centres have seen slow long term decline shops moving out and part of them becoming deserted. Basingstoke, Andover, Alton, Fleet, Farnborough they all have parts of the town centre where shops just close up. Now there is a number of factors that cause this and the council cant just “fix it” by charging less rent, in many cases the council only owns a handful of buildings. Parking is a big problem that we have put a lot of effort into. Both the party treasurer (Spencer) and leader (Alan) have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking. Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service. People just think well its not worth the agro going into town, I will just order it online. This is not good longer term as the town centres will die and all the jobs that go with it, we have seen some big names go this year and there is a more subtle changes to, for example Argos is disappearing slowly and the town where I live has seen both their Argos stores close.
What are the key issues that gain the party support, and how do you go about campaigning?
This is a hard question to answer, as the name suggests we are independent candidates! There are some very local issues across the county which are important. Being connected to the local area and not having to answer to a big party machine is one key thing that gets us support. One of our strongest messages is that all our candidates do what is right for an area, rather than having a one size fits all policy. This gives our candidates great freedoms too, as they campaign on the things that matter, though some people do find this confusing that we can have two candidates who are campaigning for different things.
We do a lot of different campaigning, we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence. We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press. For example we have been in the local press three times now over the car parking changes going on in Basingstoke. These are great as we can make real positive change without being elected, you don’t need to win an election to be able to hold the council to account when they are hurting motorists…. You just do it.
We are slowly coming out of lockdown, what are your thoughts about the lockdown, possible ongoing controls, and how we recover?
Lockdown is a complex one, in short I don’t really think the lockdown was a good idea. There are a number of reasons for this, firstly it created mass participation in a delusion, the three weeks to flatten the curve was clearly nonsense, it was nonsense the moment it was said and it was known to be nonsense. However for some reason the public generally participated in the mass delusion and got on board with it, and the government saw this as fantastic we can just lie and as long as there is enough panic people will accept it. The big problem is, once this has been done once, it can be done again and again. The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible. The lockdown itself I can see why it was done, but I think it was done without thought, it has shifted our understanding of responsibility. The state has accepted the role that it is responsible for our health and safety, this is not a good thing as the individual is no longer responsible for themselves and we should all know that collective responsibility means no responsibility.
People are much smarter than most give them credit for, there is a reason humans are the most successful species on the planet and part of that is that individually we can evaluate information and risk. We should be polishing those skills so that people are not dependent on the state, we need people to be able to handle situations that come up so they can put a situation right when big daddy government is not there to tell them what to think.
In terms of coming out of lockdown, I understand there will still be a need to self-isolate should someone be infected. Quarantine I have no problem with and that should be encouraged. Who knows about the vaccine, I urge everyone to consider widely the risks they are exposed to, for some that will mean get the vaccine as fast as you damn well can, others it may not. On the positive side I think this has forced some positive changes, more people will have the chance to work from home than they did before, this wont go away now and this will hopefully give some more time at home or with the families. It will change the economy forever and the high street is likely to see some very hard times ahead. I have thought a massive change to the high street was always coming, I think a lot of the big shops we have know will go and the high street will end up with lots of smaller but more specialist shops. This may have just forced its hand.
Personally I would like to see tax breaks for start-ups and smaller businesses particularly those in the service sector which has been hard hit. I am not convinced by things like eat out to help out, I was of course pleased to be getting a cheap breakfast at my local café, but I was going to go and support my local independents regardless, it did nothing for the people who are terrified to leave their front door and a half price McDonnalds is hardly a responsible answer when obesity is a massive risk factor with corona virus. I would like to see gyms be VAT free 6 months along with hotels, theatres and cinemas. Business rate relief and relief from BID levies for those non-essential businesses which have been closed for so long too. What I would like most of all is the government to give some degree of confidence that lockdown will never happen again, to ensure that there is no risk to those that want to start their own store, sadly I am aware that will never happen.
If you had 3 things that you could change in Hampshire or at a national level, what would they be?
I think I would like to see a big shakeup of the way the public sector buys from the private sector. No one is talking about the NHS building their own computers, or the police building their own cars so regardless of how pro nationalisation you might be there will always be a need to go to the private sector for some things. I have seen so much waste and so much nonsense in public sector procurement it truly is incredible how much money goes down the pan. That needs a massive shakeup, almost at the level of binning it and starting again. This is more of a national issue than a Hampshire one.
I would like to see an end to excessive overdevelopment of Hampshire’s green and pleasant lands, I am very proud to be from Hampshire (I even went to university in Portsmouth, so I have never lived outside the county). I understand people need homes and we do need to do more with renewable energy, but I also think we should try and keep food miles down. Hampshire has some fantastic agricultural land and just building houses or covering it all up with solar farms is just the wrong answer, we can grow plenty of food here which only needs to travel tens of miles, we should make the most of that.
I would like to see better consideration given to cyclists, essentially make the busy town centre roads wider so that cyclists and drivers can get along with each other. I am a cyclist myself, I think I have racked up over 10,000 miles in my bike now, I don’t think cyclists should be on the pavement, I can get to 30mph on some roads, that’s lethal to a pedestrian and the same speed as the cars. I should be on the road, but make them wide enough for the cars to get past without causing a fuss and I think we will all get along better!
Any parting thoughts you would like to share?
Just one, I think people get over excited about politics. I hear of people that are no longer friends over the EU referendum or voting red or blue or whatever. If you are at that level you are an ideologue there is no point in anyone having a sensible debate with you because you are beyond that. The whole point of politics is that we can discuss and debate our differences and yes we wont always get what we want, but its better than going to war with someone. I was a campaigner for Vote Leave and my partner of 3 years was a strong remainer, we are still together and still very happy. I do get people ask me how this can be, and I always say the same thing: because we are adults, we can have a sensible conversation with different points of view and we don’t always agree, but its fine. So my parting thought, if you are not an adult don’t get involved with politics as it wont make you happy.