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

Even More Economic Ineptitude

This would be a much less wasteful thing to do with money than what Reform UK have in mind. Reform UK are on the move, but unfortunately it’s just another example of them wanting to play at politics without any real understanding of what they are doing.  I am referring to this “manifesto” which has surfaced in recent days on Twitter.  This particular image was shares by a self-declared stand-up comedian, but most of his recent political posts seem to be serious (or at least that looks like it was the intention).  The image in question is this one: Let’s go through claim by claim to see what makes sense, what doesn’t (most of it) and what is just so wrong it isn’t even in the right ballpark. Authenticity First of all, this is not an authentic manifesto. During an election campaign, all materials published by a party  are required to have an imprint on to show who has been responsible for making the claims.  This document lacks any such imprint, meaning it has the same impact as parody.  Nevertheless, several Reform UK candidates seem to be treating this as though it is real, so I will do the same.  Importantly, though, if this is official party policy, they have messed up by not including an imprint. Notwithstanding this crucial omission, I suspect that this is actually a sanctioned document by Reform UK.  I assume the missing imprint is deliberate to allow them plausible deniability if they actually get success, essentially giving them a “Get Out Of Promises Free” card.  So if you are reading this document and thinking “I like that a political party is promising these things” remember that they aren’t.  They are taking you for a fool, and they deserve your contempt for that and numerous other offences. Increased Personal Allowance Nothing wrong with this headline figure as a concept except to say why £20,000 is their chosen figure (minor gripe) and how they intend to pay for it (major problem, as this would cost a huge amount of tax revenue).  My back of envelope calculations suggest this on its own could cost upwards of £200 billion a year, on its own dwarfing the total cost of the whole manifesto stated as £141 billion. Scrap VAT on Fuel Bills and Lower Fuel Duty This seems like a reasonable solution until you realise that the reason why fuel bills are so high is because the free market allows energy companies to charge a high price for their product. Scrapping VAT on energy bills would have a short term benefit, but market forces would react to the reduction in price by nudging prices higher.  In a  few short years we would likely be back to the same issue again, but this time we would all be paying high energy prices and there would be no tax revenue to compensate us.  Worst of both worlds. The right solution is to either price regulate, nationalise the energy companies or introduce a competing publicly-owned supplier that can directly affect the prices offered by the remaining private sector companies. Reduce Corporation Tax to 20% No indication why reducing corporation tax would be a good idea, though it is of course interesting to note that Reform UK Ltd – a corporation – would directly benefit from such a tax reduction.  In reality, small companies rarely pay anywhere close to the 25% rate due to the number of allowances and reliefs they have available, and any income they generate which is paid out as salary is already an  allowable expense. Corporations do not need a lower rate of tax except to directly benefit their shareholders, not their employees. Freeze Non-Essential Immigration This is another costly measure that will likely cause us more problems than it solves, but even if successful, the question has to be raised of “who decides what is non-essential?” At the moment, it would wholly be Nigel Farage, as he seems to be the sole decision-maker for Reform UK, and frankly I wouldn’t want him making any such decisions on behalf of the country. Immediate Deportation for Foreign Criminals This  might as well be renamed “Catch and Release”. If we arrest someone in the UK and sentence them to a jail term, then deporting them back to their parent country is just setting them free instead of jailing them because they have not been sentenced to jail in that jurisdiction.  People would be free to come to the UK to commit whatever crimes they wanted, safe in the knowledge that if caught they would just be sent home again.  I can’t even begin to state what a terrible idea this would be for justice. This is one of those policies designed to sound like it would save money, but in reality all it would do is create a two-tier justice system where ironically the foreign criminals would have far better treatment than native British criminals. New Housing Again, no issue with this in principle as we need more housing. But again, it’s a good idea, but with no costings or even quantified goals. Life Skills in Schools and Scrap Student Loan Interest Sensible policies, but again no indication of who would get to pick the life skills being taught.  As such, the default is Nigel Farage getting to decide on curriculum content, which frankly should terrify anyone even if they actually like him – one man absolutely should not have that much power. In terms of scrapping student loan interest, it’s a start, I suppose.  But the lost interest has to be paid for from somewhere, and there’s no indication of where this will come from. Farming There’s talk here about increasing the farming budget, but not what would be done with it, increasing our food production without any sort of acknowledgement that we don’t grow all our own food because we actually like the food that we import, and subsidised agricultural apprenticeships.  Nothing wrong with this last one necessarily, but