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.