Norman Lamb MP visits Walton

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, spoke in Walton on Thames last week  about Brexit and the NHS and social care.

BREXIT   He  started by saying  there is  hardly any debate on anything other than Brexit  going on in Westminster at the moment.  He said that he had not known anything like it, it was as if  normal service has been suspended.

He said that when the reality of the Brexit deal is determined; sometime in the Autumn, he anticipates strong disquiet in the Conservative ranks and does not believe Jeremy Corbyn is electable.  However,  he continued,  that sadly this has not currently led to a boost to the Lib Dems in the polls. An autumn a political constitutional crisis was likely  (note by author : Vince Cable said something similar) but felt it was very hard to predict how this will play out and how Theresa May might navigate her way through it.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE    “ There was a  crisis in the provision of care,  we have seen a  15% increase in the need for care of the elderly over the last 10 years,  very rapid change.

  • 1984 there were 600,000 people in care in the UK,
  • 2002 there were 1,300,000
  • 2032 there will be 3,100,000

At the moment there are 1.2million people with unmet care needs. Half the population over 75 live on their own, and could become increasingly dependent especially as families have become much more dispersed, making  support difficult”.

He posed questions:

  • Should young people pay?
  • Should most of it be paid by older people?
  • Should freebies like winter fuel payments be paid universally?

We don’t yet have fair answers.

He said that traditional party politics are not moving this forward, although the Conservative manifesto proposal of guaranteeing that no one should pay more than £100,000 for their care was a brave initiative. However, it was not well received and was somewhat unfair as it depended on the value of property and on an individual’s wealth as only poorer people would likely have to sell their house.

So how to raise funds fairly? He had been instrumental in bringing together 90 cross party MPs to consider the options as Government is clearly not addressing the issue. It seems that Theresa May  is clearly not cable of taking initiative but wonderful at arranging consultations, she was  hostage to the right of her party and the Brexit process. The cross party group proposes that there should be a hypothecated charge of say 2% on income tax but it would be separately identified and separately and independently managed and monitored. It could be reviewed from year to year by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)  This idea had been  discussed with various civil servants who are supportive.

He went on to talk about the very severe shortage of support for mental health issues especially with young people. When he was in the coalition (2010-2015) he set the first ever target for mentally ill patients to receive attention to be within 2 weeks of it being sought. This has drastically slipped now but it is widely recognised  advantageous.  If mental health problems can start to be tackled within two weeks the further development of the symptoms and the loss of employment, friends and society links can be substantially avoided leading to earlier recovery.

Opinion & Analysis – Targeting the ‘brexit bull’ in Elmbridge

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 12 March 2018
How does brexit affect Elmbridge? And how can Elmbridge voters help to avoid the potentially disastrous outcome of the devious brexit strategy?
Elmbridge is heavily Tory but, despite the glib rhetoric of brexit’s chief standard bearer, local MP Dominic Raab, we voted strongly to remain in the EU. Pro-EU Elmbridge residents realised that what was caricatured as ‘Project Fear’ was well-founded caution. The Government went ahead and fired the Article 50 bullet regardless of the predictable collateral damage.
Contrary to Eurosceptic pre-referendum boasts, because the brextremists’ are fixated with leaving the single market and the customs union, many businesses have already announced intentions to relocate and remain within the EU.
City jobs, particularly in the financial and scientific sectors, are at risk and the impact will be significant. Elmbridge will be one of the suburban commuting areas affected. There are also the city’s support occupations to consider; transport, administration, event management, and hospitality will suffer a knock-on effect, with Elmbridge based foot-soldiers caught in the cross-fire.
Many Elmbridge families rely on domestic support staff. EU immigrants will no longer be the source of qualified applicants. The rate of applications has already fallen.
Qualified dental, medical and care staff similarly are moving back to EU member states, increasing the strain on the NHS as well as the cost of private services. This affects the centres of excellence in Elmbridge and peripheral areas Guildford and Kingston-upon-Thames on which the Elmbridge community depends.
Travel practices will be rolled back decades. With the high living standards in Elmbridge, the once familiar short break to Bruges, Paris, Prague, Tenerife or Dublin etc. will be a distant memory. With unpredictable queuing times at customs and passport control, one BBC report expects queues of up to 29 miles on Chunnel access routes. What an incentive for a ‘staycation’ in a traffic queue on the M25!
Biting the bullet?
What can Elmbridge residents do to potentially affect the rake’s progress of brexit. Well, to all politicians, votes matter; local votes on May 3rd will translate into national trends.
Labour pro-EU voters can give their hard-brexiter leadership a much-needed close shave by voting for a pro-EU party.
Pro-EU Tory voters need to show their metal and demonstrate strong disapproval by voting for a pro-EU candidate. The Tory Eurosceptic grandees will downplay any local losses but behind the scenes they will be panicking.
Raab’s seat is one of the safest in the country and he is brexit’s ‘Golden Boy’. A significant local protest vote will force Tory HQ to take notice. Every anti-brexit vote will contribute to the fog-of-war surrounding the brexit folly. Every vote counts, so let yours help to deflect the ‘brexit bullet’!

Opinion & Analysis – The Entertaining Mr. Raab – “streamlining the planning laws”?

By ‘Sam Vete’ – 25 February 2018
It is always entertaining to speculate on what politicians mean when they borrow a word from engineering as a euphemism for their ambiguous pronouncements.
‘Robust’ in engineering or in your garden means well-built, sturdy. When politicians meet, it means they were diplomatically ‘tooth and claw’ at odds with each other. An ‘echo chamber’ is a room designed to measure sound clarity, but in politics it is a weapon for bombarding an audience with propaganda from all directions or a platform where people are just not listening to the other side.
So, what does Mr. Raab mean by ‘streamlining’? He said: “You certainly want to make sure that your green belt spaces are protected and preserved but at the same time we want to make sure the planning application process is more streamlined and effective …”! Hang on? If we protect and preserve green belt, then planning would not be relevant to existing green spaces; sacrosanct. Two completely disconnected objectives are dubiously and suspiciously connected by him.
‘Streamlining’, in engineering, involves rounding-off corners and removing air flow obstructions, converting power to speed more efficiently. In politics it is usually a method of removing transparency rather than making a process more efficient. Dominic’s juxtaposing these in one breath makes one wonder whether ‘streamlining’ will challenge (euphemism) the protection and preservation of green belt instead of providing a sturdy, robust defence.
The public deserve the right to proactively protect their environment. If ‘streamling’ the process by which developers and planners convert authority into action removes accountability and due diligence, well that would be a euphemistic solution too far, Mr. Raab!
Dominic’s words are an entertaining aspirational rhetoric but empty. Flesh it out, but let’s have something a little less vacuous than “streamlining means streamlining” … please!

Opinion & Analysis – Whatever happened to the Conservative party? by Anthony Sheppard

You used to know where you were with the Conservatives, even if you didn’t support them. They had cordial – some would say cosy – relations with the City, with the CBI, the Institute of Directors. There was a kind of assumption that what was good for business was good for the British economy and that prosperity would somehow trickle down to the rest of us. A lot of us had serious reservations about the social implications of this, but it made some kind of sense in an increasingly globalised capitalist economy.
But since the vote for Brexit, large sections of the Conservative Party seem determined to throw all this over, turning their back on the City of London, stonewalling the CBI’s pleas for certainty over immigration policy in respect of skill shortages and ignoring the anxieties of sectors like the car industry about how ‘Just in Time’ trans-European supply chains will work if Britain leaves the Single Market and/or Customs Union. Industry and commerce can, it seems, be sacrificed on the altar of Sovereignty: the vision of a sovereign Britain, untrammeled by foreign interference in our judicial processes, trade arrangements (except when it suits us to benefit from EU regulations) or immigration policy. This is a thoroughly 19th century view of the nation state, at odds with the highly connected world we all now inhabit.
And how is Britain to survive economically when deprived of the benefits of EU membership? We are promised innovative Free Trade agreements with the Premier League economies. The question needs to be asked, ‘Can Britain do better alone, negotiating with the likes of China and the USA, than a bloc of 28 European nations?’ What does Britain bring to the table on its own? If we are not in the EEA, what incentive will there be for inward investment in a Britain that is no longer an open gateway to Europe?
These New Conservatives would have us chasing the leprechauns’ gold! Continue reading