I have been a Conservative Councillor for the Buckingham Ward of Adur District Council since the May 2006 elections.
I am also Sussex branch coordinator for the Campaign for an E nglish Parliament.
My key political philosophies are:
You have the England flag on your website a lot, are you an English Nationalist?
No. I believe that nation states represent homogenous cultural groups more successfully than does, for example, the EU or UK, but that’s not to put the nation of England on any particular pedestal. Democracy in countries with extremely diverse cultures within their borders tends not to work as well. I believe that the Campaign for an English Parliament has the right solution to the problems created by devolution to Scotland and Wales although I would go further and call for English independence. This is not because I think England needs to be separate from the other parts of the Union but because those countries appear to want to be governed separately. If that is the case (and the votes for devolution in those countries suggest that it is) then England should not stand in the way of that.
What’s a ‘liberal Conservative’?
I can only speak for myself. A liberal Conservative to me is someone who believes in the principles of libertarianism. I believe in a free market economy and free individuals. Any law that attempts to restrict someone’s freedom or take their money for any reason other than to prevent harm to others is unacceptable.
I would really like to have given a few more updates this week, but I really don’t have enough time!
So just a quick note: I am going into town later to do some shopping. I am literally a two minute walk from the railway station and, for all my differences of opinion with left-wing environmentalists, I do care about the ability of this planet to support humanity. I therefore decided to get the train in.
But then I was reminded that I have to go over to Ditchling tonight — I may have time to come back but I may not. Once again the lack of a genuinely available public transport system has caused me to burn unnecessary carbon. It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can to protect the environment, but some of “all” of us have more capabilities to do that. Central government needs to make strong, clear policy announcements on public transport, and especially the railways, in the South East generally, and in the countryside specifically.
There are clearly not enough tracks between Brighton and London (fast trains must go sufficiently after a so-called slow-train that it does not catch the other train up — how pointless is that?) and there are absolutely no tracks (or buses in most cases) between rural towns and villages in Sussex.
A while ago I said that the train just wasn’t a viable alternative to the car when making a trip into Brighton because you’re inevitably doing something else afterwards that needs the car.
Well yesterday I managed to use the train. Two of us went from Lancing to Brighton, spent some time shopping and running errands and then caught the train back.
And it was an entirely painless experience. It would still have cost too much compared to the car had we not stayed in Brighton for some hours, but aside from cost it was convenient, quick and not too crowded.
So I feel a little better about my carbon footprint. I continue to believe that the government’s attitude to resolving the current state of affairs is politically bent rather than being in the genuine interests of the environment (in the same way as socialists are always pretending to be in favour of the poor) but public transport is not always the wrong choice!
Actions for the government: Provide tax-breaks to companies that are developing instead-of-oil techologies (and provide protection for those companies from take-over by oil-interest companies). Provide tax-breaks (the opposite of the negative levies the government normally favours) for products that have a clear long-term benefit
For the first time every member of the party is being given an opportunity to vote on the rankings of Tory MEPs and candidates. This is fantastic news as it counters my comments in this post.
While it is a secret ballot I am keen that everyone knows which MEPs are Eurosceptics and which are Europhiles. Then people reading this can vote along those lines without having to go to the same effort as me!
So here’s how I’m voting:
You may remember that Mr Elles is a pro-EU Tory who supported the Lisbon Treaty and who wishes to remain in the EPP-ED.
And in Ballot 2:
Please bear in mind that my decisions regarding Ballot 2 were largely as a result of answers on Conservative Home’s Goldlist site
Commenters on the BBC’s Have Your Say appear to be unanimous (I couldn’t find a negative comment) — the British want a referendum on EU membership even if only to put the question to bed (in the case of europhiles).
But an interesting number of people also commented on immigration. I have before expressed massively variant views on immigration which reflects the paradox in my thinking. I genuinely believe that a homogenous human race, where people lived and worked around the world together, freely and at peace would be great; but I also know that this is the sort of ideological thinking that got communists into such trouble. I can see that in the world as it really is, there is a need for immigration controls.
But at the same time, we mustn’t stop people coming here who would benefit our country financially and culturally. There are many hard-working, gentle and genuine people who would love the opportunity to live in a country like England where the chances of being a murder-victim are extremely low; where, no matter how poor you are, you will never be completely failed by society (the State and charities) and where, at least at the moment, there are plenty of jobs and a good standard of living (in comparison to developing countries).
The government acts at the top of a massive system which works, ostensibly, on its behalf underneath. But the government is not in a position to make any policy on immigration that will be fair and just. If restrictions are placed on immigrants or immigration in order to resolve an issue highlighted by the Daily Mail, then they will inevitably be unfair or cruel in many cases. And if the government relaxes controls, then it opens itself up to attack from the Mail and, also, leaves the door open for dangerous or undersirables.
Immigration then, unlike the EU, is not an easy choice.
Some people (paranoid people) are worried about the intelligence of Tesco’s clubcard system and its ability to know a lot about you. And, to be fair, it could know a lot about you. But you have a choice so I don’t really care that much, frankly.
I felt I had to say that, though, before I mocked the system that issues vouchers. To the best of my recollection I have never bought anything from Tesco that contains gluten; not on someone else’s behalf and certainly not for myself.
So it should come as little surprise that I received an ‘Extra Points’ voucher with my latest ClubCard statement for the Free From range. But I did find it amusing that right above that voucher, is another. For Weetabix.
You’re worried about Tesco’s data gathering? I’m not worried on that form!
What a wonderfully varied week this past one has been when it comes to local politics.
On Monday I attended a party committee which concerns itself with the organisation at a very local level of the party machine. The people who do all the work to support the three of us at that meeting who are elected by the general public (two District Councillors – Debbie Kennard and myself – and the County Councillor – Clive Williams).
Tuesday was a Council committee meeting of the Housing and Central Services committee. And an entirely frustrating rubber-stamping exercise it was. All of the decisions we had to make were no-brainers: Increase Council home rents because the government’s slapping us with a negative subsidy or (you’ll love this) burn our reserves and increase them by even more next year? I think you’ll agree there’s no choice.
And the same was true of all the other agenda items – we had a choice but it was a non-choice.
But the variance came into play tonight with two of Adur District’s and Worthing Borough’s joint committees meeting one after the other. At these meetings we discussed the budget for the shared services (the refuse and recycling collection service and the joint management structure) as well as a report on coastal erosion.
The first item was great news. The Councils have saved, already, £67,000 through being able to buy fewer vehicles because of shared efficiency and we effectively did not have to pay for the new bins because of savings due to economies of scale in the procurement process as well. We have also saved £32,000 in the nine months to the end of the financial year that the service has been running just because of the increased quantities of recycling that are now being collected!
But I cannot be all positive. There was something much more important that came out of this evening’s meetings. The first meeting was of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Worthing Liberal Democrat members did not have a single negative comment to make about the services or the savings. They did, momentarily, suggest that Worthing’s Council tax payers are being subsidised by Adur (which isn’t true), but they could not see anything wrong with the savings etc. being made.
It didn’t stop them making a fuss though. And when it came to voting on the recommendation before them, they decided to abstain even though they did not disagree with the recommendation and, as I say, could not find anything negative to say at all.
As a result of this experience I want to make a plea to the residents of Adur and Worthing who may be reading this: Please don’t vote Lib Dem in May – if they win seats the members elected will just be a nuisance and if they win one of the Councils they won’t do a better job because they cannot see anything being done that they would do differently!
Vote Conservative at the local elections in May 2008 and ensure that your Councils continue to run smoothly and efficiently despite the government’s obsession with attempting to run the country’s Councils remotely.
M&S’s architects had some displays in the lobby of the Holmbush centre on Friday evening and during the day Saturday to get the thoughts of local people on their plans to extend the existing building and to improve the internal layout.
As I am on the planning committee, and because I received a written invitation, I took a trip along there and I must say the plans look very interesting. We must wait, now, and see how the application that is finally submitted responds to the public’s comments.
My thoughts focussed on accessibility for pedestrians but it appears M&S have some draconian ideas about how to free up parking spaces currently used by employees of M&S. I shall be attempting to help M&S employees not to be forced into parking in surrounding areas or, worse, into using public transport which is woeful in Shoreham.