Brexit Thoughts

Brexit CartoonThe results are in and with a 52/48 mixture, obviously not everyone is happy. The result is not all doom and gloom. On the plus side we will no longer paying to the EU more than we get out. We will no longer pay for the layer of bureaucracy in Brussels which has not had signed off audited accounts for over nineteen years. We will no longer pay for our MEPs since we will not need them.
I thought that the letters to the press are a good sign of desperation. In March a cluster of East Anglian council leaders joined forces to publicly back the campaign to remain in the EU. Were they lobbying the Government to bring us more grants and subsidies? Were they asking for more equity in the education funding arrangements? Were they asking for greater infrastructure support?
No, “The EU is, of course, far from perfect. But that is why Britain needs to stay, influencing the single market and protecting our interests.” If that were true why is the UK suffering the bureaucratic nonsense that we have been seeing from Brussels.
I only recognise two District Council leaders among the signatories (Mid-Suffolk leader Derrick Haley, Babergh leader Jennie Jenkins). If they were concerned for their local communities they would do more to move their Councils’ operations to Babergh’s building in Hadleigh. The saving to the communities would be £1,000,000 a year. Instead of which they have sat on their hands for two years ignoring the Consultants’ recommendation and declining to publish the recommendation as promised.
In June the Daily Telegraph published a letter from 165 Conservative District Councillors from all over England urging people to Remain and rubbishing the Brexiteers. Braintree (home to a prominent Brexiteer Pritti Patel M.P.) provided 21 of the signatories and voted 61.1%:38.9% to leave. Babergh provided only two signatories from recently elected members who seem to have little to recommend them apart from getting elected in the first place. Babergh voted 54.1%:45.8% to leave. The Babergh leadership was not in evidence on the June letter, nor was Mid Suffolk’s leadership visible. (Mid Suffolk voted 55.2%:44.8% to leave).
I think I was confirmed in my Brexit views when the Bremainders wheeled out Gordon Brown to support their case. This is the man who sold off just under 400 tons of gold from July 1999 to March 2002, at an average price of about US$275 per ounce, raising approximately US$3.5 billion. Immediately after the sale, gold entered a prolonged bull market and is currently priced at $1,315 per ounce. Why should anyone heed his advice? Currently we are in that dead zone when the battle has just been lost and won.
There are adjustments to be made and to quote Tim Passmore, Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk “Those worried about the decision should be understood – and that everyone should work together to try to ensure stability returns to the economic and political system as soon as possible. Now, though, we must all work together to make the decision work. We have to try to ensure community cohesion.”–but-they-are/

Labour’s VAT attack Advertisement

Labour Party Poster 140509 It’s not nice to be triumphal but the newspapers have been enjoying themselves over the latest advertisement from The Labour Party. The Spectator on Friday reported that Labour has a long, hard slog to arrest the public’s loss of faith in its economic competence. The party’s latest advert hasn’t helped. It shows David Cameron and Nick Clegg as two peas-in-a-pod whose VAT hike has put £450 on the annual shopping bill. There’s one big problem with the advert: it makes its claim in front of a whole bunch of foods on which VAT is not payable. Basic food is subject at zero per cent. Even the chocolate-chip biscuits. There are some 24 products in the picture and 18 of them are VAT exempt: Fresh fruit and vegetables (peas, sweetcorn, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, red onions, beans, red cabbage, carrots, grapes, apples) eggs: all zero-rated.  Even the chocolate chip biscuits are zero-rated.  Canned and preserved vegetables have the same VAT liability as their unprocessed equivalents.  So, which goods attract 20 per cent VAT? The three cleaning products, the cola, the lemonade and the beer. It doesn’t end there. Labour might be complaining about the VAT rise, but to pay an extra £450 as a result of the VAT increase, you’d need to be spending £21,000 on goods attracting VAT at the full rate – something that would mean you were in the top fifth of income earners – and likely to be spending £40,000 a year on goods and services The Sun’s editorial on Saturday describes the advertisement as a “schoolboy error (which) is the latest cheap shot in a shallow election campaign that doesn’t bear close scrutiny. And it’s highly embarrassing for leader Ed Milliband who just days ago claimed he was cleverer than David Cameron”.

The Nature of Politics

It is rare that I can agree with David Blunkett.
But the following appeared in today’s Daily Mail (
“This sense of decay at the heart of democracy is profoundly troubling to me, since I have always had a powerful belief in the political process. … It is 50 years since Professor Bernard Crick’s classic work, In Defence Of Politics, was published. One of his central arguments was that the political process is bound to be messy, full of setbacks, compromises and failures precisely because it is trying to reconcile different opinions and the contradictions of human nature.
That messiness was often the cause for frustration, even despair, Crick admitted, but we should never abandon democracy as a result of it.
His other main argument was that democracy serves as a vital check on the power of market and vested interests. Engagement in politics, he said, was essential to ensure commerce and organisations served the public rather than achieving dominance. Half-a-century later, in our age of mass globalisation, as capital can be shifted across the world at a touch of a button, it’s an argument that’s more relevant than ever.
It is a fallacy to think we could run our society successfully without elected politicians. How would competing claims for money be reconciled without them? How would tax rates be decided or budgets settled? How would major services be reformed?
The political process provides the only credible, fair way of making such decisions.
The governance of a nation has to take account of myriad other factors, like fairness, compassion, resources, history, timing and public support.
Civic society cannot live by managerialism alone. As the great Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan once said: ‘Politics is the language of priorities.’
And at least politicians are accountable for their actions and can be chucked out if the public does not like them. Yet according to opinion polls, there is a growing belief that our country could do without politicians and could be run by technocrats”.
And perhaps this explains why some of us believe that running a council on the basis of “no overall control” means that someone else or some other people are in control but they are not elected nor are they directly accountable to the electorate.


Last week the Joint Standards Committee of Babergh and Mid Suffolk issued an Advice Note  “‘Blogging’ & Social Network Sites”. Nearly five hundred words of what should be obvious. Of course  we all have to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
However, some of the advice seems to encourage an atmosphere where personalities and  policies do not matter and thus honest debate is silenced. For example:

  • make political points, but be careful not to be too specific or personal if referring to individuals
  • general comments about another political party or genuine political expression are less likely to be disrespectful than comments directed towards or about an individual

Where is the respect for the people when their representative is hypocritical, misleading or less than competent. Local politics like many organisations can be maelstrom of ideas being advanced and like it or not it can be a zero sum game. If there is only a limited amount of money to be distributed why should monies go to the Dance East Boys in Babergh programme in preference to Home-Start Babergh? The Boys in Babergh programme speaks for itself. Home-Start Babergh  is an independent charity that operates as part of Home-Start UK. They recruit, train and provide volunteers that work with families in times of need.
More importantly their support is given through home visits by volunteers and through support group meetings, where children can play together, supervised by a play leader, whilst parents meet with each other and with Home-Start staff. In many cases, their support is complementary to that of the professional agencies. Their volunteers are there for the family as a friend and confidant during a time of stress or difficulty. See:
Similarly why should the Dance East Boys in Babergh programme take precedence over the Kernos Centre. It provides counselling and support services to people with emotional and psychological difficulties from a wide variety of causes.
One of the main aims of counselling is to guide people from feeling victims of circumstance to feeling they have some control over our lives. See:
So, returning to the advice from the Joint Standards Committee: I hear what they say but it will not stop me from speaking out in a forthright and robust manner when I deem it appropriate.