You Deserve Better

About Last Night…

Last night we had the main Uxbridge and South Ruislip hustings, organised once again by the Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce. It was a relatively sparse event, with maybe 80 people in the audience, something of a shame given the size of the constituency but a reflect of how disillusioned people are with politics. I wanted to talk a little bit about last night and what some performances indicated. I don’t intend to spend much time at all on my own performance largely because much of what I said has fled my memory, but the time I got to listen to the other candidates is still fairly clear. So here’s some of what I remember of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip hustings. Steve Tuckwell Those who have read my page before will know that I do not hold Steve Tuckwell in particularly high regard, and yesterday’s performance from him did nothing to change my opinion.  He interrupted repeatedly, often completely pointlessly. For example when I said that inflation was 24% over the past 5 years he interrupted to say that it was 2% now – this added absolutely nothing to my point, nor did it contradict anything that I was saying, it’s clearly just a talking point that he has been blindly told to repeat without context. I have a chart demonstrating this (see across).  The recent figure of 2% only takes into account the last 12 months, but focusing only on that ignores the huge impact that the years of extreme inflation have caused, and this is a price that all working families will be paying for decades. In short, the figure of 2% might be technically true, but it is highly misleading to try  to  distract people from the  fact that prices have in fact risen by nearly 25% in 5 years. Tuckwell also repeated his claim that Hillingdon Hospital is fully funded. This is a falsehood – whether it is a lie or him failing to understand what most people define “fully funded” to be, I genuinely don’t know.  I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is just  clueless, but the weight of evidence about just how much he has spread falsehoods on behalf of the Conservatives make me believe that he knows precisely what he is doing. For the avoidance of doubt, the hospital is not fully funded.  It has the funding it needs to carry out the  establishing works – site clearance, installation of utilities, etc, but the actual build costs have been deferred to the next Parliament or beyond. This means they are not fully funded, because the likelihood is that there will be no Conservative government to hold to account for such promises, so in essence the commitment has been handed to the next government, likely Labour. This is not full funding a projects.  This is deferring the problem until someone else fixes it for you.  I can predict exactly what this is going to look like, though.  Tuckwell is hedging his bets, working on the assumption that he is going to be voted out, and he is starting to lay  the groundwork for claims that “the hospital was fully  funded when I left, why is it not fully funded now?”  The answer is that it is not fully funded. It has never been fully funded. The fully funded status of this hospital is identical to the 40 that were promised by Boris Johnson in 2019, none of which have ever seen the light of day.  This is not “fully funded” by any rational definition, because “fully funded” means that the money is in place, and that the works will happen regardless of changes in  government.  People will eventually start remembering the lies, and I am fairly certain we are near that  point in Uxbridge – enough is enough. Interestingly, although he repeatedly commented about being a hard working MP who has put the constituency  first, Tuckwell was very reluctant to highlight any of his voting record in Parliament. This was perhaps not too surprising give one audience member had to remind him that he had in fact voted against calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Aside from that, Tuckwell has also voted to suppress the school safety report that would allow parents to be aware of whether their  children’s schools were built using RAAC, a substance now known to be crumbling far faster than anticipated.  Definitely not an action in the interests of local people, and something I sincerely hope he is ashamed of. At the Uxbridge and South Ruislip hustings last year, Tuckwell claimed not to be Boris Johnson. I ask you, is this an improvement? Danny Beales Beales once again made it very difficult to say anything negative about him, because he remained calm, answered points rationally and generally came across as very statesmanlike. I will say this, however.  An audience member asked him what his views on Proportional Representation are, and he said that he supported them.  I pointed out that in that case he was in the wrong party, because Labour’s 1997 manifesto included a commitment to Proportional Representation, which they reneged on, and their 2010 manifesto included a commitment to Alternative Voting (not Proportional Representation, but a step in the right direction).  We Liberal Democrats fought hard as a party and secured a national referendum on electoral reform with Labour’s preferred system as the one that would replace the archaic First Past The Post system we currently have, and half of their MPs at the time campaigned with the Tories against the system, meaning the referendum ultimately failed.  Labour are absolutely not the party of electoral reform, to the extend that they have kept any promises to reform our broken voting system out  of this manifesto, which is arguable the best opportunity we have ever had as a country to push for real, lasting change to our politics. This is a truly sad state of affairs for Labour because

My Campaign Leaflet

As you probably know by now, my campaign is not a particularly well-funded one.  We don’t have the backing of wealthy donors with extremely deep pockets, nor are we gifted large amounts of cash by trade unions.  So we have to be very frugal with the money we spend on campaigns.  To that end, I designed my own campaign leaflet and had planned to make use of the free Royal Mail delivery available to all candidates.  I had the artwork signed off by my agent and then Royal Mail, and I was ready to deal with the 47,000 copies that I had ordered. Unfortunately the printer contacted me yesterday to say that they would not be completing my order, so Uxbridge & South Ruislip will not be getting my leaflet.  To say I am disappointed is a huge understatement. But I thought that even in the absence of a physical copy, I can at least share the final design with you as a reader of my website. So here you are, in all its glory:

Danny Beales – Labour

Returning to Uxbridge & South Ruislip once more and again hoping to be your next MP is Danny Beales.  Beales stood in the by-election last year, which I have already said was one of the biggest open goals for Labour in history, given the previous MP had resigned in disgrace, the Conservative candidate – Steve Tuckwell – was monumentally unsuited to the role and lying repeatedly about what he would do as MP, and the Conservatives were at a historically low level of support.  Nevertheless, he contrived to lose the ballot marginally. I would argue that skipping most of the hustings events probably didn’t do him any favours, as that showed a contempt for the electorate that really didn’t sit well with people.  Nor did starting out pro-ULEZ in full support of Sadiq Khan then changing to anti-ULEZ when Tuckwell weaponised ULEZ as a campaigning tool.  Generally I thought he was a very good speaker and would have been a good statesman, but his political stances were clearly poorly thought out and he simply wasn’t committed to the electoral process. Will definitely be interesting to see whether this changes in the General Election campaign. It is worth mentioning that Beales has been very unfairly lambasted by the Tories as “not local” (as have I, incidentally, which is absurd as I live about 3 minutes from the constituency border).  To my mind this is not a fair criticism.  Beales was born and raised in Hillingdon, and his work has taken him across London to Camden, but he is clearly still a local to the area.  This is clearly a desperate ploy by the Tories to denigrate other candidates in the area purely based on their post code rather than a) whether they know and love Hillingdon and b) whether they would do a good job for the area.  It is also worth remembering that their former MP, Boris Johnson, famously spent almost no time in Uxbridge to the point where it was joked that he didn’t even know where Uxbridge was. Labour’s Policies It is worth remembering that Beales is a Labour candidate.  That means that he is inextricably linked to the Labour leadership.  That means that  a vote for him is a vote to: Keep most things exactly as they are. Labour has been very clear that they are not offering any  radical changes to anything and will keep most of what the Tories have brought in, including the restrictions on the rights to protest and strike, both of which are fundamental to a society which values the people who make up the country. Retain the existing First Past The Post election system which guarantees that most votes are wasted and does not allow true representation in  Parliament. Continue demonising the people who most need the benefits system, e.g. disabled individuals. Leave the tax system largely unchanged, allowing the ultra wealthy to continue paying a tiny fraction of what the average family pays as a marginal rate. Allow continued exploitation of the UK’s oil and gas reserves despite very clear evidence that renewable energy is cheaper. There are plenty of other complaints about the Labour Party, but my summary of them is that they have very deliberately set themselves up as a caretaker government while the Tories are out of power.  They are not bringing anything radical or even necessary to the table, but instead are fishing for right-wing votes that would normally go to the Conservatives. Frankly if you want change, Labour is not the party for you.  If you look at the chaos and suffering of the last 14 years and think “more of that, please” then maybe, though honestly I would argue that you are probably better suited to the Conservatives or even Reform if that’s the case. In short, Labour are not what the UK needs. We will almost certainly get a Labour government next if we look at the polls, but if you want to vote for the good of the country and not just vote for the winning party, you will need to look elsewhere. Such as:

What Uxbridge and the UK Needs

Hopefully this image says it all.  Uxbridge and the UK as a whole needs me, or at the very least people like me.  People who care, people with integrity and people who want to make the country better for all of us. Let’s have a look at some of the things that I want to achieve. Fairer Elections Right now, elections are essentially designed to be unfair.  I wrote a blog post recently explaining how the current system almost guarantees that at least half of votes are wasted, and usually considerably more than that. In an ideal world, every vote should matter.  After all, we have 650 seats in the  Commons, which means that each MP should represent around 0.15% of the current population.  That’s a lot of potential for nuance, but right now such nuance is not just discourages but outright impossible.  In fact, this inability to allow nuance is precisely why the Conservative party has become so dominated by a radical right-wing element that very few people in the country actually support. The Liberal Democrats are the largest party in England that supports Proportional Representation.  This is a fundamental change to our electoral system to make your votes count and to introduce nuance into our political system that currently cannot get in. Fairer Taxes Right now the tax take for the UK is the highest is has ever been, but many ultra wealthy individuals have managed to get away with paying very little tax, often across multiple generations. This comes from a very long-standing tradition for the  political right that wealth trickles down, so looking after the wealthy indirectly looks after everyone else.  Trickle down economics has never worked anywhere except to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. For society to improve, we need to make sure that everyone pays their fair share of tax and that the burden for paying tax doesn’t hit the poorest in society the most. Fairer Healthcare At the moment, if you can get a GP appointment via the NHS, you are very lucky.  If you can get an appointment with an NHS dentist, you  are beyond lucky.  When the NHS was founded, the stated intention was to provide healthcare from the cradle to the grave without any up front costs.  Nothing about that indicated having to wait weeks just to see a doctor, months to see a specialist or years to get life-improving but technically non-urgent treatment.  But that’s the reality we now face.  Our healthcare service has been persistently decimated in terms of staff and required funding, and frankly we all deserve better. In particular, we in Hillingdon deserve a world-class hospital rather than one that is falling apart. Our current hospital has plans to renovate which have been   approved, but approval absolutely is not enough, especially since the country was promised 40 new hospitals and has so far received none. Fairer Environment Regardless of our socio-economic status, we all use the environment one away or another.  We all breath the air and drink the water, so it is horrible to see the forces of unchecked capitalism taking a stand against environmental protection.  It has become normal for water companies to simply dump raw sewage into our waterways almost whenever they feel like it, and they have a track record of awarding their directors huge bonuses and their shareholders huge dividends whilst doing so.  At  the other end of the spectrum, these same forces have turned large parts of the legislature against things like clean power generation, despite the fact that right  now renewable energy is by far the  cheapest form of electricity generation available and we live in one of the most reliably windy places on Earth. We all deserve laws that are designed to protect the precious environment and preserve it for our children and successive generations.  Instead we are embarking on a huge expansion of fossil fuel extractions which is both needlessly expensive and highly polluting. And of course we are allowing water companies to pump sewage into our rivers. Fairer Everything You’ll see that there’s a theme for what Uxbbridge and the UK needs, and that’s a fairer deal. I could go on at length about what we need, but I honestly can’t do much better than suggesting that you read the Liberal Democrat position.  We stand “For A Fair Deal” for a really  good reason – it’s what the whole country is crying out for. We aren’t looking at  improving things only in the short term until the Conservatives get back into power.  Instead we want to make meaningful long-lasting changes that make the UK a fairer, kinder, better society for everyone. So what does Uxbridge and the UK need?  People like me in Parliament.  So I reiterate, on 4 July, cast your vote for me:

Hillingdon MPs Vote Against Child Safety

Yesterday saw an opportunity for MPs to do the right thing.  Somewhat predictably, both of our Conservative MPs, David Simmonds and Steve Tuckwell, voted against the opposition day “Safety of School Buildings” bill, along with most of the rest of the Conservative MPs in Parliament. This was a sad day for Hillingdon, with both of our Conservative MPs nailing their colours to the mast for all to see, showing that both of them care far more about party politics than actually looking after our children. What Was This? This motion, one of the few that can be brought by the opposition parties, was a response to the recent news that many of our schools are dangerously delapitated.  This was described recently as a “critical risk to life” by Jonathan Slater, who was permanent education secretary from 2016 to 2000 and who specifically asked the Chancellor at the time – Rishi Sunak – for funding to repair the crumbling infrastructure.  Sunak refused, offering only a fraction of the amount actually needed.  Now we have schools turning into ticking timebombs, and Sunak’s Conservatives are doing everything they can to pretend the problem isn’t real. Unfortunately for them, the problem is real. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the critical risk to life means that our children and vulnerable loved ones are in danger (remember that the exact same problematic material was also used in the construction of many NHS hospitals). This bill was the first step in a long path towards finding out the extent of the problem.  This was an opportunity to step up and protect the most vulnerable in society, and unfortunately the Conservatives blocked it. Our Conservative MPs Hillingdon is “fortunate” enough to have two Conservative MPs at the moment, and both voted against this Bill, essentially voting to cover up the failings of the government and the Prime Minister.  These are not the actions of anyone who cares about the safety of our children, so both David Simmonds and Steve Tuckwell should think about their duties to look after their constituents, and should both be ashamed of what they have done. Steve Tuckwell’s voting record is here, and David Simmonds’ is here.

Lessons Learned

Well, that was a very unexpected result from Uxbridge & South Ruislip. If you had asked me even a week before the vote, I would have assumed that Labour would win and Conservatives would be a very distant second place, with us in third, but really pressuring the Tories. Sadly this was entirely incorrect on every count, but there are definitely some lessons to learn from this by-election. This email is also about the upcoming events in Hillingdon and Harrow, so if you’d like to join us for drinks or a barbecue, read on! Lessons Learned It’s fair to say that when we face challenges in life, we can either seek things to blame or we can look instead at how we can improve our own strategy so that next time is better.  Obviously with an election like this, there will be a combination of things that we had no control over and things that we could have done better. Out of Our Control Starting with the things that were out of our control, it is worth mentioning that the Conservatives turned this into a referendum on ULEZ and Labour let them.  In reality it wasn’t – ULEZ is a delegated Greater London Authority power, therefore the local MP has precisely as much power as any local citizen to stop ULEZ.  The fact that Labour did not call the Conservatives out on this – as we did, repeatedly – was a major failure on their part that we have no control over. In the absence of that very specific local issue, Steve Tuckwell’s campaign was largely non-existent.  He wanted to keep Uxbridge police station open (all candidates agreed) and to fund Hillingdon hospital renovations (all candidates agreed).  Otherwise his entire strategy was that he was the most local candidate, which is frankly a terrible reason to elect someone as an MP. I suspect that Tuckwell would have performed worse had he actually showed up to the hustings event that he skipped, as he came across as a pretty deflated candidate and was roundly attacked by other candidates and the audience, but Danny Beales really dropped the ball by not showing up to two such events.  His performance in the one he actually attended was good, and the numbers show that actually a decent performance at just one additional hustings might have been enough to make him the next MP for Uxbridge instead of Tuckwell. Regardless, we can’t control how other candidates campaign, but you can be absolutely sure that we will refer to decisions made and promised broken at the next round of campaigning. Under Our Control This category is more difficult to approach rationally.  I genuinely thought Blaise did really well in both the hustings and canvassing stages of the campaign.  There’s really not much about his performance that I think we need to change, so it falls to the rest of the campaign team. So what might we do better next time? Funding – we were lucky to go into this campaign with a couple of large donations, but in reality it would be better for us to build our war chest for campaigning in this non-campaigning period so that we can focus on the action itself when the next election rolls around.  This will be extremely important, as we will be managing more elections across the borough, so there will be less opportunity for me to help Blaise out, for example.  Our donation page is here, or you can get in touch if you would prefer to make a direct payment. Volunteers – we are lucky to have a few people that are happy to help out at any time, but we really need to increase our volunteer numbers, especially if the plan is to run successful campaigns in the coming General Election.  If you’d like to help out, our volunteer page is here or you can get in touch. Materiel – it makes sense to spend some time during this period of low campaigning intensity making flyers and posters, even if they are never used.  The goal here is to build a repository of useful documents that can be repurposed for specific campaign issues. Should We Have Stood Aside? I have seen plenty of comments lately that we should have stood aside, as the seat was not winnable.  While I can appreciate that it might seem at first glance that our standing was enough to shift the winner from Labour to Conservative, I don’t believe this is the case.  Some of the reasons for this include: We didn’t force anyone to vote for us. That was their democratic choice, and if Danny Beales had offered sufficient reasons to vote for him instead of us, that’s what would have happened. The simple fact is that voters clearly didn’t think that he offered enough of a change from the Conservatives, hence the very low turnout rate of only 46%. There are very significant deviations in core beliefs between us and Labour, most notably with respect to electoral reform. In short, we believe that it is absolutely impossible for the UK to shake itself loose of the Tories without Proportional Representation, and under Starmer Labour is currently opposed to this despite the wishes of its members. This would be a major stumbling block between our parties allying. In terms of the electorate, it is worth mentioning that there were three hustings events, and Danny Beales failed to turn up to two of them. Had he done so, maybe the outcome would have been different. Not doing so likely made the electorate feel taken for granted, which was definitely not the right approach. Ultimately we are political candidates, Blaise and I, and that means that it is our job – albeit an unpaid one – to stand and campaign on the issues that make our party special.  If we thought that the country would be best served by us not standing as Liberal Democrats, then we would already have

Uxbridge & South Ruislip: Your New MP

Well, the people have spoken. 46% anyway (where were you, 54% – let me know on Twitter). And you have selected as your next MP Steve Tuckwell of the Conservatives. I thought it would be useful to document some of the things he promised and did as part of this campaign. Hustings Remember the hustings on 13 July 2023? Steve Tuckwell doesn’t, because he didn’t go.  Didn’t send a proxy, didn’t turn up late, just didn’t go.  The next day his team started showing recordings of the council meeting that he attended instead, and frankly it seems like a very poor excuse for missing a fundamental part of the democratic process. Frankly Steve Tuckwell is either afraid of the electorate or holds them in contempt. ULEZ The core of Steve Tuckwell’s campaign was opposition to London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone expansion into Hillingdon. Clearly it makes sense to listen to local issues when campaigning, but Tuckwell deliberately ignored several key points: The MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip has absolutely no power over ULEZ. This is a devolved Greater London Authority power, therefore it sits with the Mayor’s office, not parliament. ULEZ was first rolled out by Boris Johnson while Mayor. For those that don’t recall, Johnson was a Conservative. Hillingdon was included in a letter that Grant Shapps sent to Sadiq Khan requiring the expansion of ULEZ.  Grant Shapps was at the time a Conservative Transport Minister. In short, this entire promise was a lie built on a foundation of lies.  Steve Tuckwell has done the political equivalent of promising voters a unicorn each, and he will have as much success delivering the herd of unicorns he now owes. Importantly, the Conservatives might apply pressure on Sadiq Khan to slow or mitigate the expansion of ULEZ. It is vital to remember that anything they do at this point is something they could have done with or without Steve Tuckwell as an MP. This was a truly disgraceful campaign, and I hope that voters remember these promises and omissions when Tuckwell campaigns to keep his seat at the general election, whenever that is. Uxbridge Police Station Throughout this election, Tuckwell claimed that Sadiq Khan was closing Uxbridge Police Station. This of course glosses over the fact that the partial closure of the station was down to – you guessed it – Boris Johnson, the serial liar and regular absentee from Uxbridge. Not as an MP, but as Mayor. Which, like the ULEZ issue above, is where the powers for policing lie, not with the local MP. As such, this is another example of Tuckwell making promises that he does not have the power to deliver. Hillingdon Hospital A recurring theme through the campaign was the state of Hillingdon Hospital, famously referred to as a monstrosity by Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary. The issue here is not the staff – though the Conservatives are responsible for the repeated strike action – but the building itself.  In short, it is dilapidated and needs a very significant investment to modernise the building and upgrade the services that the wonderful staff have to help us with our health needs. Sadly, no mention was made of the fact that the former MP – one Boris Johnson – supposedly secured funding several years ago for much-needed upgrades. Ground has not been broken, contracts have not been agreed, funding has not been released.  In short, the Conservatives have absolutely no progress to show after 13 years in government. Given this, it was depressing to see Tuckwell running on the promise to help the hospital, as Conservatives have had ample opportunity to help the NHS in the last 13 years, and have failed to do so at every turn. Conclusion It feels very early to be making a prediction for what pledges a politician will keep and which they will break. In this case, though, I am confident that I can predict which promises will be kept – none of them – and which will be broken – all of them. This is down to the fact that Tuckwell’s main priorities of ULEZ and Uxbridge Police Station are entirely outside his control.  His other priority of getting an investment for Hillingdon Hospital is, I suspect, doomed to failure based on how the Conservatives have treated the NHS to date.

More Hustings

Still not me actually participating as a candidate in the hustings process, but I had the pleasure of watching Blaise Baquiche twice more on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  This follows on from my first hustings, and this article covers the second Hustings event hosted at Brunel University. If you couldn’t make it and want to view the whole thing, the livestream of the event was made available here. The Candidates The first hustings this week was a fairly chaotic event, with 11 of the 17 candidates present.  Nevertheless, the moderator did a great job of ensuring that all candidates got to speak, though I am sure that the audience wished that some of them would pipe down! Notably, neither Labour (Danny Beales) nor Conservatives (Steve Tuckwell) turned up. Personally I see this as contempt for the democratic process, as this was otherwise the most complete hustings event for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, and it felt like a return to Boris Johnson hiding in fridges or himself not bothering to attend hustings events. Notwithstanding these absences, the stage was pretty crowded.  The following candidates were present (from left to right, from the audience perspective): Blaise Baquiche, Liberal Democrats Piers Corbyn, Let London Live Lawrence Fox, Reclaim UK Steve Gardner, SDP Ed Gemmel, Climate Sarah Green, Green Kingsley Anti-ULEZ, Independent Richard Hewison, Rejoin EU Rebecca Jane, UKIP Leo Phaure, No ULEZ Leo 77 Joseph, Independent Several of these candidates can, I think fairly, be lumped together for review.  So that’s what I will do. 77 Joseph I’m going to get this out of the way early.  I liked Joseph, thought he brought a sense of honestly and genuine desire to help.  Unfortunately for him, he is a single-issue candidate and freely admitted that he didn’t really have any stances on major issues.  Additionally, Joseph’s single issue is highly divisive, a large scale monument to the monarchy.  As a committed abolitionist, this definitely didn’t win me over. Joseph, if you read this, please know that you have my respect for what you chose to do, but I think we both know that being an MP isn’t the right place for you. Anti-ULEZ candidates As you can see from the candidate list, two candidates explicitly stated that they were standing primarily to stop ULEZ.  As I pointed out in the preamble to my question towards the end of the hustings, ULEZ is a devolved Greater London Authority power, and an MP has no say over whether the ULEZ applies to their constituency.  As such, this completely undermines the entire purpose of these candidates running. Incidentally, one of the candidates tacitly admitted to vandalising existing cameras and said that if unable to stop ULEZ through legal means, he would take matters into his own hands.  This is absolutely not how society functions.  We all have laws that we don’t feel are fair, but that does not give us carte blanche to go out and destroy public property.  As an MP, we need someone who understands that the rule of law is all that keeps our country civilised, and fully accepts that they will be limited on the things they can directly change because of how democracy works. In short, these candidates seemed nice enough, but didn’t strike me as MP material. The Conspiracists Given both Piers Corbyn and Lawrence Fox were on stage, I expected more of a trainwreck.  Importantly, both of these candidates represent what happens when we let personal prejudices blind us to actual expertise.  For Corbyn, he denies anthropogenic (man-caused) climate change and seems to be opposed to vaccines, for Fox, he is rabidly transphobic.  As if that wasn’t enough, Fox was also the only candidate who didn’t say that billionaires should be taxed, instead shifting the topic to companies. As before, these candidates turned up with some of their acolytes, so they got applause every time they said something frankly ludicrous, but no-one that went along looking for a serious candidate would have been attracted to either, no matter how charming and charismatic they were. The Pessimist Rebecca Jane of UKIP said something like “I’m not going to win, so I’m here to send a message”.  As such, I don’t really see much point in reviewing the other things she said, as it’s very clear that not even she thinks she has an actual chance. The Climatists We had representatives from two climate-focused parties, the Greens and Climate.  You might wonder what the difference here is, and I think that’s most easily described with the standard “left/right” economic scale.  Greens are left wing, Climate are self-described as centre-right. I have said before that I like listening to Sarah Green, as I think she brings a very well researched and supported statement whenever she talks about issues.  We don’t see eye to eye on all issues (e.g. ULEZ), but I hope that she would agree that we both want to achieve positive climate outcomes, we just have a slightly different approach on how to implement the necessary strategies. Ed Gemmel spoke well on a number of issues, and held his own well against heckling from climate deniers. The Democrats The last two candidates are Steve Gardner (SDP) and Blaise Baquiche (Liberal Democrats).  Of all the candidates, these were the hardest for me to tell apart, and it is very clear how similar the two parties are (unsurprising given the origins!).  In fact, the only major issue that I could look at which would be a point of disagreement is Brexit – the SDP is prominently pro-Brexit, while the Liberal Democrats are anti. Incidentally, borrowing an event from the next morning’s hustings, Steve indicated that his first policy as an MP would be to ask the people what they want and then implement that.  This to me is a complete abnegation of the responsibility of an MP to sometimes do things for people’s well-being, not necessarily what they say they want.  A classic example here would be taxation.  If you asked

Guido Fawkes did a Hit Piece About Me (I didn’t notice for six months)

Over lunch today, my friend and colleague Blaise Baquiche mentioned that Guido Fawkes had done a hit piece on me.  This was news to me, so I had to check, and indeed they did. Very exciting – fame at last, or at the very least infamy. Even though this is clearly an utterly inconsequential source, given I didn’t even know it had happened for six months, I thought it was worth responding to some of their specific complaints.  Unfortunately, these are fairly rare, if not entirely absent.  In fact, considering my political website has, at current count, 15 static pages and 54 blog posts, there is no evidence that the author of the article even ventured off the homepage for the site.  A little hint for them – there’s plenty more information “hidden” if you click on the menu and navigate to a subpage.  In particular, the “About Ian” page which should give you plenty to comment on regarding my career and hobbies, as well as my disability, which I am certain you will mock given your search for low-hanging fruit. So, onto the points they actually raised. Actual picture of Guido Fawkes (NB – not actually a picture, this is clearly just a joke) Testimonial Sources When I decided to write this website, I decided to ask some people that know me well to provide some testimonies.  This includes family, friends, former coworkers, former students and people who I have worked with in my capacity as a candidate.  In short, a good blend of people from my entire lifetime. Guido Fawkes makes the complaint that: His website publicises praise from his brother, aunt, jū jūtsu instructor as well as two former co-workers. And perhaps the biggest name of the lot… “Anonymous”. Some Guy My own name is all over this site, and all the testimonials are about me.  However, the article criticising me for correctly withholding the name of someone who wished to remain anonymous comes from someone who didn’t even sign their own name to the article they wrote about me.  Not sure if the anonymous author has ever heard of GDPR, but there are rules in the UK about what types of data you are allowed to share about someone, and on top of that there are good practices.  I suppose I could have simply said that the quote was by J R Hartley or similar, but that would have been dishonest, which would breach one of the three principles that I felt important enough to include in the very header of my site. In short, I liked the quote, so I put it on the site.  If you don’t like that, the Back button is right there, you are most welcome to use it. My family know me better than anyone, and I have had major disagreements about politics with many of my family over the years.  Despite this, they are happy to endorse me as a political candidate, as are co-workers, friends and people I have worked with on an advocacy basis. At this point, I ought to critique some of the reading comprehension of whoever wrote that article.  In the testimonials section, there are two people mentioned as former fellow jū jūtsu instructors, not a single person who taught me jū jūtsu.  In fact, both of these were my students, and happened to teach at the same club as me before my disability, hence they were fellow instructors.  One of them served on the committee of the Aiuchi Jiu Jitsu Association with me, while the other is someone I have known for over a decade, supported when he applied for UK citizenship and attended his wedding in another country.  Again, indicative of how well I know them and they know me. Finally, it is genuinely impossible to work out what sources would be acceptable.  After racking my brain, I think the only conclusion would be to approach people I don’t know and ask them for a comment about my personality and suitability for political office.  I have simulated what this would look like below: Who the hell are you? Some random passer-by Obsequious Behaviour A comment in passing was that posting these testimonials was sycophantic posting.  I think the author is confused, as sycophancy is basically sucking up to someone to try to gain an advantage, e.g. a promotion at work.  In this case, comments that I post about myself cannot possibly be sycophantic.  It could be argued that it’s self-promotion or some form of arrogance perhaps, but definitely not sycophancy. Now, you can certainly argue that these were an effort by me to help people get to know me and what principles I stand for, and if that was the accusation I would say “guilty as charged”.  That is, after all, the entire point of a personal website, and as an aspiring politician I need to get information about me out there. No-one is forcing you or anyone else to read my site.  Read if you want to find out more about me, or go somewhere else if you’d prefer to be doing something else. Tax Affairs The author makes the comment that I stated that Nadhim Zahawi should no longer be an MP.  I stand by that. The claim was then made that I should look into Ed Davey’s tax affairs.  Okie dokie. From what that article says, Ed Davey paid reduced tax on winding up of a company largely owned by his wife.  Now, you might argue that this is immoral, you might argue that you want politicians and everyone else to stay clear of those options so that the Exchequer gets more money.  That’s fine, but that needs to influence your voting choice, i.e. you need to vote for parties which state that they plan to close those options down.  Right now, it’s perfectly legal, therefore criticising someone for paying lower tax rates on winding up a company is akin to claiming that politicians shouldn’t use ISAs to get