Monday, 13 June 2016

You’ve got no plans!

I have said on a number of occasions that I would seriously consider leaving the EU if I thought that there was a positive case for leaving and I am serious about that. If there was a plan that showed how the UK could both benefit from leaving and still play its part on the world stage, I really would consider voting to Leave.

But there simply isn’t one, the leave campaign can’t even agree amongst themselves how we would move forward as a progressive outward looking nation if we left the EU. I've even had one Brexiter, who couldn't tell me what the plan is, reassure me that it doesn’t matter, we've got 2 years to come up with a plan!

An interesting, but scary thought, it doesn’t matter if we don’t have a plan because we can make one up as we go, and somehow we are supposed to believe that it really will be so much better when we get there. Sorry, but I am not convinced.

But, even as scary as that may sound, it is actually far less scary than the reality of what would happen post-Brexit, because the thing that most they people have completely missed in this scenario, is that it doesn’t matter if we have a plan or not, because we will not be making those decisions.

Even if Boris becomes Prime Minister, Gove becomes Chancellor and Farage joins the Tory party, they will not be deciding our future if we decide to leave Europe.

It is the remaining 27 countries of the EU, not us, that will decide how our relationship with Europe pans out post-Brexit and you can guarantee one thing, they will NOT be discussing what is best for the UK if we leave, they will be discussing what is best for the EU.

And as for us, well we will be left on the side-lines whilst the supposedly weak rest of Europe, like a nightmarish vision of the Wealdstone Raider, decide our future all the whle taunting us.

“Come on then bring it on.”
“You’ve got no plans!”

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Things are looking up, or are they?

It's been nearly 2 years since I have blogged and it's about time I got back into it.

A lot has happened since then, it would appear that my early optimism for a second coalition was on reflection far too optimistic and we Liberal Democrats have been all but demolished in the last General Election leaving us with only 8 MPs. I did not fair too much better personally, having come 2nd in 2010, I came 4th behind both Labour and UKIP in 2015, but at least, thanks to some local support for me, I kept my deposit, many less fortunate LibDem candidates did not.

Just over a year later and although we are being told that things are looking up for the LibDems, it is difficult to get really enthusiastic, even though we have made some ground in local elections and there are some indications in the polls that we are (very slowly) recovering from that awful night. 

I personally was very pleased to be re-elected this year with an increased majority and even more pleased that we made 3 gains in Gosport, bringing our total councillors to 9, showing that when you do the work on the ground you can still do well at a local level.

We are hoping, in 2 years, to make more ground and put real pressure on the Conservatives in Gosport, that is if Gosport has not been swallowed up in the Conservatives devolution plans. Funny I thought devolution was more control at a local level, not less.

And finally, here we are less than 2 weeks away from a referendum, with what appears to be a surge in anti-EU feeling based on misplaced national pride and the pipe dreams of the Leave campaigners who have no real plan for what will happen to the UK if we do cut our noses off to spite our faces and vote to leave.

Have things really got better since May 2015? For the number of councillors that we have now compared to then, yes, but the real question is, do the British public have more or less desire for Liberal values than they did in 2015?

Monday, 13 October 2014

I am actually heartened by the UKIP problem. Especially when I look at it from a Tory perspective.

Ironically reading a recent post "Puzzled by the Ukip surge?" on "The Conservative Woman" has lightened my mood and given me hope that we can survive the issues we face moving on from the coalition and dealing with the rise of Ukip . I have included a link to it below and it is well worth a read, especially if you are, like many I have spoken to, one of those disenchanted LibDems wondering what the future might hold.

It is hard to see how the LibDems can recover if you just look at it from a LibDem point of view. Our ratings in the polls are well down and there is the very real prospect of us coming fourth, or worse, in 2015. Our party is being portrayed by the media as simply weak, at best, and Conservatives Mark II, at worst. Things simply don't look good at all for us.

So why should I be heartened by a Tory post on a Tory blog?

Because, simply, it shows very clearly what we need to do.

One look at the list of issues on that blog post, the issues that they think are to blame for Ukip taking votes directly off of them and turning a comfortable Tory majority into a landslide win for Ukip clearly shows us the way forward. What are the issues as they see them? Their support of gay marriage, their lack of action on immigration, the equality bill, green taxes, to name but a few, and the list goes on, but all of them point very clearly to one thing.

And that one thing? That we must purely and simply stand up and be proud of what we are...

We are Liberals with a capital L and we must stick to our Liberal principles. We must be the only party that will not pander to Ukip , the only party that stands up and opposes every thing that these guffawing right wing fossils stand for and the only party working to bring people together, not trying to pull them apart and go back to the dark ages.

Sensible immigration policies, equal rights, looking after the planet for our children's children, fair taxes for all, real political reform and equal opportunities for all people no matter what their background. Liberal policies, Liberal principles, things that we should be shouting from the rooftops.

What do we need to do to fight back?

We need to be LIBERALS!

Monday, 6 October 2014

RBS branches go back to their roots.

I was recently invited to go along to my local RBS branch to meet with the staff and their area manager to discuss the future of RBS branches when they separate from the RBS group under the old name, that I remember from many years ago, of Williams and Glyn. They laid on some snacks and some wine, which unfortunately I could have as I was driving, and we spent a couple of hours discussing the future of the RBS branches as they broke away and went back to what some of us there remembered as the good old bank that we had joined many years ago. One person even had even brought along an old Williams and Glyn cheque book.

Back then, Williams and Glyn was a well respected, forward thinking bank that dared to be different and, if the discussions we had that evening were anything to go by, that is what it is returning to. They didn't just tell us what they had in mind going forward, they also asked us what we would like to see from the new Williams and Glyn bank. I was so impressed that I have also signed up to be a part of future discussions, whether that be face to face or via telephone surveys and online forums.

Now any one that knows me will tell you that I don't like surveys at the best of times, but this is different, it's not everyday that you get the opportunity to be a part of shaping the future of your own bank?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Nuclear or natural?

It is clear to all that the oil and coal reserves of this planet will not last forever and both of them, even with the latest technology, are a major contributory factor towards global warming.

Something needs to replace them for our energy needs.

Some will argue that nuclear is the way forward, that it is clean and efficient and would solve our energy needs for centuries to come and they often make a strong case, but the disposal of nuclear waste is still and has always been an issue and so, given recent events in Japan, is the question of how safe the actual process itself is.

It is apparent that, no matter how good the safeguards are, we cannot safeguard against the forces of nature. Mother nature is still capable of destroying mans greatest achievements in a matter of seconds and this is where I believe that using natural forces to generate energy has it's main advantage.

It is not hard to imagine wind, wave or solar energy plant being destroyed by natural forces such as the earthquake and tsunami that has hit Japan, but it is easy to see that it does not have the same potential for devastation that the destruction of nuclear facilities could have.

Harvesting the, by comparison more sedentary, forces of nature is by far the cleanest and safest way to move away from our need for fossil fuels.

Let's not go from the frying pan of a dependence on fossil fuels into the fire of oblivion that could come from a dependence on nuclear energy.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What would be the benefit to Gosport of allowing smoking back in pubs?

It is no accident that today, when the Anti-Smoking Plans are announced by the government, is the day that this question comes to my mind.

I have no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in Gosport would like the government to do all it can to ensure that young people either never smoke or give up smoking early enough for it to make a real difference to their health. Even hardened smokers advise their own children not to start smoking, not just for the health benefits it brings but for the financial benefits it brings not to be forced, through addiction to nicotine, to spend nearly £7 for every packet of cigarettes that you buy.

The health benefits to the individual of never smoking are well documented and proven beyond all doubt and and as an ex-smoker who gave up about 10 years ago in my forties, I can personally vouch for the well documented fact that, although it may seem like it, it is never too late to give up smoking.

The ban on smoking in public places has also encouraged more and more people who do smoke not only to go outside when they are in public places, but also to go outside when they are at home. A lot of smokers have made the decision that they do not want to subject their children, their partners and their visitors to the dangers of passive smoking.

So why is it then that Caroline Dinenage, who in her election manifesto promised to be Gosport's champion, voted back in October for a relaxation of the smoking ban to allow smoking in pubs and private members clubs where no food is being served? A move which was thankfully defeated.

I have been puzzling over this one for some time. Does she think that the people of Gosport want this?

If so, she has not done her research, because if Gosport is like anywhere else in the UK with regard to this issue, and there is no evidence to suggest it is not, then the majority of people in Gosport believe that the smoking ban is a good thing.

Is she doing this in an effort to save the many public houses that are closing down?

If so, once again she has not done her research, because there is no evidence that the smoking ban has caused any more pubs to close than would have done through other, mostly economic, factors.

How could anyone who represents the best interests of Gosport want to take a backward step in legislation that has a proven benefit to health?

Why did she, as a loyal Conservative who very rarely votes against party policy, choose this issue to rebel on?

If she is reading this, or anyone who knows her is, I'd be truly interested to know what she thinks the benefit to the people of Gosport would be if the smoking ban was relaxed.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Do the pensions reforms really go far enough?

Whilst I applaud the flat rate pension of more than £140 a week that Sir Iain Duncan-Smith has been working on with Steve Webb, his Lib-Dem minister for pensions, I also have to ask does it really go far enough?

Pensioners will receive a flat rate of pension, set above the pension credit rate, regardless of how long they worked or earned, this will ensure a basic level of income for all of our pensioners without the need for means testing. It will also encourage people to save because those who have saved will be better off.

But does it go far enough?

Now that there is no longer a link between how long you work and earn and the amount of pension you get, do we really need National Insurance?

Isn't N.I. now, many may argue it has been for a while, just another form of Income Tax?

And if so, surely it would be more efficient and cheaper to administrate, not to mention more honest, if we collected it like that?

We could save millions in administration costs by doing so, which could be used to relieve some of the pressure of cuts on the less well off.

Is it now time to scrap N.I. all together in favour of a single Income Tax?

I think so.