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 – 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

Sir Vince Cable talks to local Lib Dems

 

Christine Elmer, Lib Dem Councillor for Walton South and Chris Elmer, Lib Dem candidate for Walton South in May 2018

Vince Cable with Vicki Macleod,  candidate for Weybridge Lib Dems in Elmbridge council elections in May 2018.  

On 30th November Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, spoke to a packed village hall in Claygate. His message was clear, Brexit is a disaster, the government is in turmoil and divided, and three great problems are in the way of a successful ‘divorce’ of Britain from Europe.

Sir Vince Cable expressed much concern over how “the loss of European nurses and doctors in Kingston Hospital and other critical services impacts patient care negatively”. This is just one of the many consequences of Brexit.

Hospitality industries are beginning to suffer from lack of workforce, agriculture cannot get seasonal workers, universities are losing European students, research grants are being denied to our scientists and the list keeps growing.

According to Cable, it’s understandable why businesses in the City and beyond are preparing to relocate. Uncertainty caused by Brexit is bad for business as it makes future planning difficult and discourages much needed investment in skills and new enterprise. This feeds the downward cycle of low wages, low productivity, and poor economic performance.

Vince Cable spoke at the Liberal Exchange hosted by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and outlined the serious challenges Britain faces in “tortuously complex Brexit talks”. He also explained why the Liberal Democrats are advocating the people’s right to choose between staying in the EU on current terms or accepting the deal negotiated by the government. “This will be the first referendum based on facts, not on fiction and fraudulent promises”, Cable argued.

The keen audience kept Sir Vince on his feet for the best part of two hours with questions ranging from a variety of Brexit issues to the government’s ongoing austerity measures, funding of higher education, apprenticeships and further education plus more. Disappointingly for Cable the current Tory government is “destroying the successful apprenticeship scheme with the ill-advised new levy”. In this context Cable emphasised the need for ‘non-tribal’ thinking in solving the country’s problems, although sadly “tribalism is rife in British politics and hampers progress”.

Sir Vince talked about Brexit’s debilitating effect on many government departments. “Their work has ground to a halt due to lack of resource or political ‘bandwidth’. The whole country suffers as a result.” “Yet there is much work to be done quite apart from Brexit to eradicate the plight of social exclusion, generational divisions, regional inequality and re-empowering local government. This is the agenda for us Liberal Democrats,” Vince Cable concluded.

Jaska Alanko, Liberal Democrat with Sir Vince

Vince Cable with Barry Fairbank, Lib Dem Councillor for Long Ditton

Vince Cable on Brexit in Elmbridge 30th November

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable MP will be the speaker in Liberal Exchange at Claygate Village Hall, Church Street, Claygate KT10 0JP – on Thursday, 30th November at 7.30pm – and you and your friends are warmly welcome.
Sir Vince will put a strong economic and political case for remaining in the EU and argue why the final decision on whether we should remain a member in the EU on current terms or accept the ‘deal’ negotiated by Theresa May’s government, should be given to the people. He calls such a vote ‘the first referendum on facts’, because the 2016 referendum was based on falsehoods and fraudulent promises.
In December the European Union will confirm whether it is ready to move the Brexit negotiations to talks about trade. Sir Vince will explore the implications of this critical decision with the audience as well as evaluate the overall state of Britain’s negotiation approach and process.
Liberal Exchange is organised by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats and it is an open public forum for discussions about current political priorities. All are welcome and invited to put their questions to the speaker.

Income inequality, whose word do you trust

Policy Exchange

Founded by Nick Boles, Michael Gove and Francis Maude. To get a feel for the enthusiasm of this merry camp of dreamers, you need only read Gove’s sadly-deleted and somewhat hyperbolic testimony on their website: “Policy Exchange were a tiny band of guerrillas, partisans in the hillside fighting a lonely campaign, but now, that tiny guerrilla band has turned into the most formidable regular army on the thinktank battlefield.”

If Reform is the Greg Dyke of right wing think tanks, Policy Exchange is undoubtedly the John Birt: “blue sky” doesn’t come close. Reform’s ideas might annoy everyone except those who don’t like big government, but Policy Exchange regularly sets the bar higher and manages to get on their wick too. If you want a good example, think of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, described by then “Head of Crime and Justice” Blair Gibbs as “the boldest reform to policing since the 1960s”.

Gibbs is a classic Tory think tank wonk: Oxford University Conservative Association, stints at Reform and the Taxpayers’ Alliance, MP’s researcher, Policy Exchange, and now he’s working for BoJo. An impressive CV which suggests a somewhat detached relationship with the practicalities of the field in which he’s an “expert”. He was on Twitter, but described himself as one of the “four horsemen” of police reform, and this provoked such a furious reaction he had to leave. Let’s face it, if you’re a copper who risks his life every time he goes to work and who’s about to be hit by Government cuts, that’s probably not the sort of thing you want to read from a twenty-something policymaker.

(Incidentally, this is a common complaint about think tanks – salaries tend to top out pretty early, which means their employees go and do something else (usually working as Spads). To quote Zoe Williams: “It is noticeable […] how often you’re told by a 28-year-old that care of patients with Alzheimer’s can be managed by text message and ‘parenting classes can improve community engagement and lead to local wellbeing’”.)

Anyway, the PCC plan has been hit by a number of setbacks. First, it’s never a good idea to hold an election when you don’t know who the candidates are or indeed what they’re standing for. Then you’ve got the Paris Brown affair and now this extraordinary freedom of speech horrorshow, which is a whole blog post in itself. One of the companies to fund Policy Exchange is Deloitte, which issued press releases saying PCCs must “get to grips with current policing operations” and “focus on reforming pay, pensions and paperwork, the financial management of their force, and cutting costs.” Hard to think which firm they could hire to achieve that.

They need us more than we need them – Yeah right

Apart from Britain, there are 27 states in the European Union.  Most of them have very little trade with us: we import only 2% of Croatian exports or 3% of Bulgarian exports.

These countries will have next to no downside in driving a very hard bargain indeed. Each of them have a veto on the final deal.  Every time you hear a commentator or a Brexiter talking about German industry or the Irish economy remember that they are only two votes out of 27.  Brexit is not even an issue in most countries of the union.  As far as they are concerned the British have lost touch with the real world.

No deal better than a bad deal?

This, of course, is obvious – if the definition “bad” is a deal that is so bad it is worse than no deal.  But for a deal to be worse than no deal it would have to be so cataclysmically bad that neither the British government or the European government would propose it.

Such a bad deal would have to be proposed by the Americans, Chinese or Russian governments who must be beside themselves with glee at the mess that a small group of extremists have managed to conjure up for the British people.

Bored with Brexit?

We ain’t seen nothing yet!

Each week brings new problems to consider. Next week there will be more and this will continue for months if not years. We are nowhere near the end of this sorry saga, unleashed by David Cameron in a moment of madness. We are not even at the beginning of the end, nor sadly are we at the end of the beginning – we have barely started the process.

Despite the Conservative and Labour parties’ stated positions after the referendum and the subsequent national election, month by month, they are moving gently towards a near exit from Brexit. Britain will now likely enter a transition period for a few years, remaining in both the single market and the customs union. This is a long way from where they started. The only difference being that we will now no longer have any say in how either the single market or the customs union operates and will still have to follow EU rules. Rather than helping to make the rules, we’ll simply be following others’ rules. Completely the opposite of what the Brexiters promised.

All this to supposedly gain trade with the rest of the world. But we can trade with the rest of the world right now. Germany exports more to China than we do and Belgium exports more to India – despite all our historical and cultural ties. The EU was never in our way. As the ramifications of Brexit become clearer, more people will come to realise that the problems facing Britain are best solved inside the EU rather than outside.

Hard Brexit will be hard on Britain

The Tories are pushing to cut all ties with the EU regardless of impact. Labour is shrugging its shoulders and saying “Oh well”. It’s up to the Liberal Democrats to make sure Brexit causes as little damage to British interests as possible.

The Liberal Democrats are determined to retain the best of the EU – and that means staying in the Single Market. It’s this market that makes most of our exports possible, brings money into UK businesses and the economy, and enables us to pay wages and invest in national and local infrastructure. What’s more, it plays a key role in maintaining our peace and security.

Andrew Davis is pro-Europe and will do his utmost to stop any government imposing a disastrous Hard Brexit on us all. And he fully endorses the Liberal Democrat plan to put any deal to the British people before it is finalised.

If leaving the EU was to be decided by the people, then they should absolutely also have a say on how we do that.

The Conservative candidate, Dominic Raab, has campaigned hard to leave the European Union and wants Brexit at any cost – wanting to leave both the Single Market and the customs union.

Andrew Davis, your Liberal Democrat candidate, will fight to remain in the Single Market.


Volunteer to help Andrew win in Esher & Walton

Will Britain survive Brexit? Join the next Liberal Exchange.

key_tom_brakeIn last June’s referendum 60% of Elmbridge voted to ‘remain’ in the EU. This contrasts starkly with the position of our local Tory MP as a hard Brexiter, which does not allow for our pro-European views to be represented democratically in Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake will lead the discussion in the next Liberal Exchange about Britain’s economic and cultural challenges brought on by what threatens to become a ‘hard Brexit’. This event is open to all and will take place on Thursday 10 November 2016 at 7.30pm at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Church Road, Claygate.

Organised by Elmbridge Liberal Democrats the event offers increasingly anxious citizens an opportunity to air their concerns about the negative impact of Brexit on our country and our families’ lives going forward.

The focus will be on the many uncertainties brought about by the Conservative government’s risky approach to exit-negotiations. For this reason the Liberal Democrats are pressing the unwilling Theresa May to give the nation and its representatives in Parliament the final say in settling the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU.

All are welcome!

United in diversity

european-union-flag-1024x7681Just as Britain has its motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (Evil to him who evil thinks), Europe too has a motto, first used in 2000, “United in diversity”. This sums up perfectly how the European Union unites all our different cultures, traditions and languages.

When one sits in the chamber of the lower house of the European parliament with representatives from 28 different states one fully appreciates how much our forebears achieved bringing us together to work for peace and prosperity.

United in diversity sums all of this up – see it translated into each language here.