Rexy For Ruislip

Integrity. Honesty. Fairness.

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

Danny Beales – Labour

Returning to Uxbridge & South Ruislip once more and again hoping to be your next MP is Danny Beales.  Beales stood in the by-election last year, which I have already said was one of the biggest open goals for Labour in history, given the previous MP had resigned in disgrace, the Conservative candidate – Steve Tuckwell – was monumentally unsuited to the role and lying repeatedly about what he would do as MP, and the Conservatives were at a historically low level of support.  Nevertheless, he contrived to lose the ballot marginally. I would argue that skipping most of the hustings events probably didn’t do him any favours, as that showed a contempt for the electorate that really didn’t sit well with people.  Nor did starting out pro-ULEZ in full support of Sadiq Khan then changing to anti-ULEZ when Tuckwell weaponised ULEZ as a campaigning tool.  Generally I thought he was a very good speaker and would have been a good statesman, but his political stances were clearly poorly thought out and he simply wasn’t committed to the electoral process. Will definitely be interesting to see whether this changes in the General Election campaign. It is worth mentioning that Beales has been very unfairly lambasted by the Tories as “not local” (as have I, incidentally, which is absurd as I live about 3 minutes from the constituency border).  To my mind this is not a fair criticism.  Beales was born and raised in Hillingdon, and his work has taken him across London to Camden, but he is clearly still a local to the area.  This is clearly a desperate ploy by the Tories to denigrate other candidates in the area purely based on their post code rather than a) whether they know and love Hillingdon and b) whether they would do a good job for the area.  It is also worth remembering that their former MP, Boris Johnson, famously spent almost no time in Uxbridge to the point where it was joked that he didn’t even know where Uxbridge was. Labour’s Policies It is worth remembering that Beales is a Labour candidate.  That means that he is inextricably linked to the Labour leadership.  That means that  a vote for him is a vote to: Keep most things exactly as they are. Labour has been very clear that they are not offering any  radical changes to anything and will keep most of what the Tories have brought in, including the restrictions on the rights to protest and strike, both of which are fundamental to a society which values the people who make up the country. Retain the existing First Past The Post election system which guarantees that most votes are wasted and does not allow true representation in  Parliament. Continue demonising the people who most need the benefits system, e.g. disabled individuals. Leave the tax system largely unchanged, allowing the ultra wealthy to continue paying a tiny fraction of what the average family pays as a marginal rate. Allow continued exploitation of the UK’s oil and gas reserves despite very clear evidence that renewable energy is cheaper. There are plenty of other complaints about the Labour Party, but my summary of them is that they have very deliberately set themselves up as a caretaker government while the Tories are out of power.  They are not bringing anything radical or even necessary to the table, but instead are fishing for right-wing votes that would normally go to the Conservatives. Frankly if you want change, Labour is not the party for you.  If you look at the chaos and suffering of the last 14 years and think “more of that, please” then maybe, though honestly I would argue that you are probably better suited to the Conservatives or even Reform if that’s the case. In short, Labour are not what the UK needs. We will almost certainly get a Labour government next if we look at the polls, but if you want to vote for the good of the country and not just vote for the winning party, you will need to look elsewhere. Such as:

What Uxbridge and the UK Needs

Hopefully this image says it all.  Uxbridge and the UK as a whole needs me, or at the very least people like me.  People who care, people with integrity and people who want to make the country better for all of us. Let’s have a look at some of the things that I want to achieve. Fairer Elections Right now, elections are essentially designed to be unfair.  I wrote a blog post recently explaining how the current system almost guarantees that at least half of votes are wasted, and usually considerably more than that. In an ideal world, every vote should matter.  After all, we have 650 seats in the  Commons, which means that each MP should represent around 0.15% of the current population.  That’s a lot of potential for nuance, but right now such nuance is not just discourages but outright impossible.  In fact, this inability to allow nuance is precisely why the Conservative party has become so dominated by a radical right-wing element that very few people in the country actually support. The Liberal Democrats are the largest party in England that supports Proportional Representation.  This is a fundamental change to our electoral system to make your votes count and to introduce nuance into our political system that currently cannot get in. Fairer Taxes Right now the tax take for the UK is the highest is has ever been, but many ultra wealthy individuals have managed to get away with paying very little tax, often across multiple generations. This comes from a very long-standing tradition for the  political right that wealth trickles down, so looking after the wealthy indirectly looks after everyone else.  Trickle down economics has never worked anywhere except to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. For society to improve, we need to make sure that everyone pays their fair share of tax and that the burden for paying tax doesn’t hit the poorest in society the most. Fairer Healthcare At the moment, if you can get a GP appointment via the NHS, you are very lucky.  If you can get an appointment with an NHS dentist, you  are beyond lucky.  When the NHS was founded, the stated intention was to provide healthcare from the cradle to the grave without any up front costs.  Nothing about that indicated having to wait weeks just to see a doctor, months to see a specialist or years to get life-improving but technically non-urgent treatment.  But that’s the reality we now face.  Our healthcare service has been persistently decimated in terms of staff and required funding, and frankly we all deserve better. In particular, we in Hillingdon deserve a world-class hospital rather than one that is falling apart. Our current hospital has plans to renovate which have been   approved, but approval absolutely is not enough, especially since the country was promised 40 new hospitals and has so far received none. Fairer Environment Regardless of our socio-economic status, we all use the environment one away or another.  We all breath the air and drink the water, so it is horrible to see the forces of unchecked capitalism taking a stand against environmental protection.  It has become normal for water companies to simply dump raw sewage into our waterways almost whenever they feel like it, and they have a track record of awarding their directors huge bonuses and their shareholders huge dividends whilst doing so.  At  the other end of the spectrum, these same forces have turned large parts of the legislature against things like clean power generation, despite the fact that right  now renewable energy is by far the  cheapest form of electricity generation available and we live in one of the most reliably windy places on Earth. We all deserve laws that are designed to protect the precious environment and preserve it for our children and successive generations.  Instead we are embarking on a huge expansion of fossil fuel extractions which is both needlessly expensive and highly polluting. And of course we are allowing water companies to pump sewage into our rivers. Fairer Everything You’ll see that there’s a theme for what Uxbbridge and the UK needs, and that’s a fairer deal. I could go on at length about what we need, but I honestly can’t do much better than suggesting that you read the Liberal Democrat position.  We stand “For A Fair Deal” for a really  good reason – it’s what the whole country is crying out for. We aren’t looking at  improving things only in the short term until the Conservatives get back into power.  Instead we want to make meaningful long-lasting changes that make the UK a fairer, kinder, better society for everyone. So what does Uxbridge and the UK need?  People like me in Parliament.  So I reiterate, on 4 July, cast your vote for me:

Did Your Vote Matter?

I gave a speech this week on Proportional Representation for Make Votes Matter, and it got me thinking about whether your vote mattered in the last election.  I suspect that the chances are that it didn’t no matter where you are, who you voted for and who won purely because of how the odds work. So, here are just a few of the ways that your vote was wasted.   Your Candidate Didn’t Win Under the current system, if you make the cardinal sin of voting for a candidate that doesn’t win, that vote is wasted by design.  Your candidate doesn’t get any political power as a result of coming second or third in the ballot, so a vote for a candidate that doesn’t win is essentially thrown in the bin. This discourages you from voting for a candidate that you don’t think can outright win, thereby shoring up the de facto two-party system that we have been dealing with for centuries. Your Candidate Won Comfortably Congratulations! But did your vote matter? Arguably this is the case that most people probably assume makes their vote matter, but I would argue that it’s not quite  that straightforward.  Imagine a two-candidate race where the winner gets 80% of the votes and the loser gets 20%.  In this case, it is obvious that the  20% of votes for the loser were all wasted, but what about the 80%?  In this case, the winner actually only needed one more vote than 20%, which for all intents and purposes is the same as 20% for a large enough ballot.  once that total is achieved, all further votes for the winner are also wasted – a candidate doesn’t become more of a winner if they win by 80% or 0.8% of the electorate.  This means that in this example, three-quarters of the votes for the winner are also wasted, meaning that if you cast a vote for the eventual winner, you only had a one in four chance of it actually mattering. Your Candidate Narrowly Won In this case,  your vote likely had the most impact.  If the example above actually had the winner with 40% of the  vote and the  runner up with fewer votes but still rounding to 40%, that means that every vote for the eventual winner was important.  Conversely, all other votes were essentially ignored by the system, so even in this example of a very narrow margin of victory 60% of the electorate’s votes would be ignored by design. A Real Example Looking at the 2023 by election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, the results were as follows: At first glance, this might look like it was only worth voting for Steve Tuckwell, but this is essentially what the system is deigned to do – to make it feel like only voting for the winner matters.  But it is important to remember that this seat came very close indeed to flipping to Labour, which would have meant that votes for Steve Tuckwell were wasted and a proportion of votes for Danny Beales were the only ones that mattered, at least from the perspective of deciding an MP. Even more importantly, this vote was almost as close as it is possible to get, and it still meant that only 44% of votes cast actually mattered. By design, at least 50% of the electorate is disenfranchised using the First Past The Post system, which is horrible for democracy. What About Short Money? Short Money is the consolidation prize for voting for a party where the candidate didn’t win in your area.  Assuming the party returns at least one MP nationally, Short Money is awarded to them in proportion to the number of votes they received in all elections across the country, and it is designed to help the MPs to pay for things like research that the government has access to as a matter of course.  In essence, it is designed to allow parties that don’t form a government to at least have a fighting chance at representing their constituents, even if the government shuts them out of all major decisions. This means that  even a wasted vote for electing an MP is useful to the party that candidate stood for, as long as the party managed to win at least one seat in all 650 constituencies. It’s not perfect, but it means that you can still vote for the party that you prefer even if they have no chance in your area.

What do Liberal Democrats Stand For?

A regular question asked is “What Do X Political Party stand for”.  For most parties, this can be summed up in a single phrase, but it can be more difficult for the Liberal Democrats.  So this article is about what the main political parties stand for. Conservatives What they stand for: rich people. I’m not going to sugarcoat this, the current Tories are all about looking after the wealthy in society, hence they make tax cuts that affect the rich far more than the poor and cut the services that the poor rely on.  It’s fair to say that the Conservatives simply do not care about you if you don’t have a Coutts bank account or make large donations to their party. Labour What they stand for: ostensibly they are focused on helping the working class.  In reality, their current stance is almost entirely a continuation of the current government. They support staying out of the EU, they have not proposed any sort of tax reform to specifically target the rich other than closing the non-domiciled loophole, and they have refused to back democracy by supporting the Proportional Representation demanded by their own party.  In short, Labour really are not demonstrating that they care about anything other than getting into power. Reform What they stand for: think “Britain First”. This is a party for those who look at the Conservatives and think “nope, not fascist enough”.  Frankly I am astonished that they are as popular as they are, as they have shown that they only really care about white British people and want to pursue very much an isolationist strategy for trade and international relations.  A Reform government would likely ruin our international standing for years.  I honestly do not know who they care about, because all of their policies seem to be largely based on hatred of “other” groups. Green What they stand for: the Greens put the environment first, with all of their other policies deriving from the idea that the country needs to still exist in 100 years or so.  The Greens are advocates of Proportional Representation and rejoining the EU, so in many ways are natural allies of the Liberal Democrats.  Unfortunately they are a very small party indeed, with only a single MP at present, who is due to step down at the next election.  As such, anyone voting for them might want to consider whether their vote would be better placed with the Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats Saving the best until last, the Liberal Democrats essentially stand for fairness as a broad concept.  This is best exemplified by the drive to make votes match power share in parliament, bringing proper democracy to the UK for the first time.  As a party we are wholly committed to peace, with all of our MPs voting to make statements that we in the UK wanted a ceasefire in Gaza, something opposed by the Conservatives and largely abstained on by Labour. Our love of fairness extends to both the NHS and carers, and we believe firmly in a “cradle to grave” health service, which means that all medical staff need to be comfortable with their remuneration and benefits, and that our NHS buildings, such as Hillingdon Hospital, are properly renovated and modernised. We also firmly believe in education.  It is unconscienable that we cut the education budget year after year, and we believe that both schools and universities should be available free of charge at the point of service. Finally, the elephant in the room, we believe that we must urgently rebuild our relationship with Europe.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that we ought to rejoin immediately (though that would be my preference!), but it does mean that we need to step back from the highly adversarial position we have taken with our European members. Overall, what do we stand for? the answer is so much, but it all falls into the category of “fairness”.

Leopards Changing Spots?

Snow leopard licking its paw

It is a fairly common maxim that a leopard never changes its spots, meaning that the very nature of a leopard is such that it will always look the same.  A little closer to home, in the finance business we tend to cite that someone is statistically more likely to get divorced than change their bank account.  In the interest of assessing the likelihood of certain things happening, I was wondering to myself “how often do constituencies change party hands?” Snow leopard – also not known for changing their spots. The answer to this was not easy to find.  There are records of elections on the Office for National Statistics website spanning back to 1918, but oddly enough there didn’t seem to be a dataset focusing on changes in party affiliation.  The data is definitely out there, but it doesn’t seem to be easily accessible. I decided therefore to do some legwork myself to answer that question. Methodology I started with a raw document outlining the votes received in each constituency between 1918 and today.  From this, I applied a lookup function which matched the largest proportion to the column header for that party, which allowed me to easy work out the winning party for each constituency. I then used ChatGPT to produce a list of constituency creation dates.  I have checked some of these, but not all, so this is a definite area of uncertainty. The final step was to create another lookup function to check the winner in an election year and identify whether the winner was different in a previous year.  Due to the difficulty of including by-elections, this table only looks at the results during a General Election, so if party A was replaced by party B in a by-election, but then by party A again at the next General Election, this data would assume continuous loyalty to party A. The Data – “How Often do Constituencies Change Party Hands?” After analysing the data, I came up with the following table of results, so here’s the answer to the question “how often do constituencies change party hands?”: Importantly, this data shows that of the 650 current constituencies, 295 (45.38%) have either never changed party hands or have not changed hands since 1918. How might we fix this? With my favourite proposal – Proportional Representation.

Uxbridge & South Ruislip: Your New MP

Well, the people have spoken. 46% anyway (where were you, 54% – let me know on Twitter). And you have selected as your next MP Steve Tuckwell of the Conservatives. I thought it would be useful to document some of the things he promised and did as part of this campaign. Hustings Remember the hustings on 13 July 2023? Steve Tuckwell doesn’t, because he didn’t go.  Didn’t send a proxy, didn’t turn up late, just didn’t go.  The next day his team started showing recordings of the council meeting that he attended instead, and frankly it seems like a very poor excuse for missing a fundamental part of the democratic process. Frankly Steve Tuckwell is either afraid of the electorate or holds them in contempt. ULEZ The core of Steve Tuckwell’s campaign was opposition to London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone expansion into Hillingdon. Clearly it makes sense to listen to local issues when campaigning, but Tuckwell deliberately ignored several key points: The MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip has absolutely no power over ULEZ. This is a devolved Greater London Authority power, therefore it sits with the Mayor’s office, not parliament. ULEZ was first rolled out by Boris Johnson while Mayor. For those that don’t recall, Johnson was a Conservative. Hillingdon was included in a letter that Grant Shapps sent to Sadiq Khan requiring the expansion of ULEZ.  Grant Shapps was at the time a Conservative Transport Minister. In short, this entire promise was a lie built on a foundation of lies.  Steve Tuckwell has done the political equivalent of promising voters a unicorn each, and he will have as much success delivering the herd of unicorns he now owes. Importantly, the Conservatives might apply pressure on Sadiq Khan to slow or mitigate the expansion of ULEZ. It is vital to remember that anything they do at this point is something they could have done with or without Steve Tuckwell as an MP. This was a truly disgraceful campaign, and I hope that voters remember these promises and omissions when Tuckwell campaigns to keep his seat at the general election, whenever that is. Uxbridge Police Station Throughout this election, Tuckwell claimed that Sadiq Khan was closing Uxbridge Police Station. This of course glosses over the fact that the partial closure of the station was down to – you guessed it – Boris Johnson, the serial liar and regular absentee from Uxbridge. Not as an MP, but as Mayor. Which, like the ULEZ issue above, is where the powers for policing lie, not with the local MP. As such, this is another example of Tuckwell making promises that he does not have the power to deliver. Hillingdon Hospital A recurring theme through the campaign was the state of Hillingdon Hospital, famously referred to as a monstrosity by Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary. The issue here is not the staff – though the Conservatives are responsible for the repeated strike action – but the building itself.  In short, it is dilapidated and needs a very significant investment to modernise the building and upgrade the services that the wonderful staff have to help us with our health needs. Sadly, no mention was made of the fact that the former MP – one Boris Johnson – supposedly secured funding several years ago for much-needed upgrades. Ground has not been broken, contracts have not been agreed, funding has not been released.  In short, the Conservatives have absolutely no progress to show after 13 years in government. Given this, it was depressing to see Tuckwell running on the promise to help the hospital, as Conservatives have had ample opportunity to help the NHS in the last 13 years, and have failed to do so at every turn. Conclusion It feels very early to be making a prediction for what pledges a politician will keep and which they will break. In this case, though, I am confident that I can predict which promises will be kept – none of them – and which will be broken – all of them. This is down to the fact that Tuckwell’s main priorities of ULEZ and Uxbridge Police Station are entirely outside his control.  His other priority of getting an investment for Hillingdon Hospital is, I suspect, doomed to failure based on how the Conservatives have treated the NHS to date.

More Hustings

Still not me actually participating as a candidate in the hustings process, but I had the pleasure of watching Blaise Baquiche twice more on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  This follows on from my first hustings, and this article covers the second Hustings event hosted at Brunel University. If you couldn’t make it and want to view the whole thing, the livestream of the event was made available here. The Candidates The first hustings this week was a fairly chaotic event, with 11 of the 17 candidates present.  Nevertheless, the moderator did a great job of ensuring that all candidates got to speak, though I am sure that the audience wished that some of them would pipe down! Notably, neither Labour (Danny Beales) nor Conservatives (Steve Tuckwell) turned up. Personally I see this as contempt for the democratic process, as this was otherwise the most complete hustings event for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, and it felt like a return to Boris Johnson hiding in fridges or himself not bothering to attend hustings events. Notwithstanding these absences, the stage was pretty crowded.  The following candidates were present (from left to right, from the audience perspective): Blaise Baquiche, Liberal Democrats Piers Corbyn, Let London Live Lawrence Fox, Reclaim UK Steve Gardner, SDP Ed Gemmel, Climate Sarah Green, Green Kingsley Anti-ULEZ, Independent Richard Hewison, Rejoin EU Rebecca Jane, UKIP Leo Phaure, No ULEZ Leo 77 Joseph, Independent Several of these candidates can, I think fairly, be lumped together for review.  So that’s what I will do. 77 Joseph I’m going to get this out of the way early.  I liked Joseph, thought he brought a sense of honestly and genuine desire to help.  Unfortunately for him, he is a single-issue candidate and freely admitted that he didn’t really have any stances on major issues.  Additionally, Joseph’s single issue is highly divisive, a large scale monument to the monarchy.  As a committed abolitionist, this definitely didn’t win me over. Joseph, if you read this, please know that you have my respect for what you chose to do, but I think we both know that being an MP isn’t the right place for you. Anti-ULEZ candidates As you can see from the candidate list, two candidates explicitly stated that they were standing primarily to stop ULEZ.  As I pointed out in the preamble to my question towards the end of the hustings, ULEZ is a devolved Greater London Authority power, and an MP has no say over whether the ULEZ applies to their constituency.  As such, this completely undermines the entire purpose of these candidates running. Incidentally, one of the candidates tacitly admitted to vandalising existing cameras and said that if unable to stop ULEZ through legal means, he would take matters into his own hands.  This is absolutely not how society functions.  We all have laws that we don’t feel are fair, but that does not give us carte blanche to go out and destroy public property.  As an MP, we need someone who understands that the rule of law is all that keeps our country civilised, and fully accepts that they will be limited on the things they can directly change because of how democracy works. In short, these candidates seemed nice enough, but didn’t strike me as MP material. The Conspiracists Given both Piers Corbyn and Lawrence Fox were on stage, I expected more of a trainwreck.  Importantly, both of these candidates represent what happens when we let personal prejudices blind us to actual expertise.  For Corbyn, he denies anthropogenic (man-caused) climate change and seems to be opposed to vaccines, for Fox, he is rabidly transphobic.  As if that wasn’t enough, Fox was also the only candidate who didn’t say that billionaires should be taxed, instead shifting the topic to companies. As before, these candidates turned up with some of their acolytes, so they got applause every time they said something frankly ludicrous, but no-one that went along looking for a serious candidate would have been attracted to either, no matter how charming and charismatic they were. The Pessimist Rebecca Jane of UKIP said something like “I’m not going to win, so I’m here to send a message”.  As such, I don’t really see much point in reviewing the other things she said, as it’s very clear that not even she thinks she has an actual chance. The Climatists We had representatives from two climate-focused parties, the Greens and Climate.  You might wonder what the difference here is, and I think that’s most easily described with the standard “left/right” economic scale.  Greens are left wing, Climate are self-described as centre-right. I have said before that I like listening to Sarah Green, as I think she brings a very well researched and supported statement whenever she talks about issues.  We don’t see eye to eye on all issues (e.g. ULEZ), but I hope that she would agree that we both want to achieve positive climate outcomes, we just have a slightly different approach on how to implement the necessary strategies. Ed Gemmel spoke well on a number of issues, and held his own well against heckling from climate deniers. The Democrats The last two candidates are Steve Gardner (SDP) and Blaise Baquiche (Liberal Democrats).  Of all the candidates, these were the hardest for me to tell apart, and it is very clear how similar the two parties are (unsurprising given the origins!).  In fact, the only major issue that I could look at which would be a point of disagreement is Brexit – the SDP is prominently pro-Brexit, while the Liberal Democrats are anti. Incidentally, borrowing an event from the next morning’s hustings, Steve indicated that his first policy as an MP would be to ask the people what they want and then implement that.  This to me is a complete abnegation of the responsibility of an MP to sometimes do things for people’s well-being, not necessarily what they say they want.  A classic example here would be taxation.  If you asked

Guido Fawkes did a Hit Piece About Me (I didn’t notice for six months)

Over lunch today, my friend and colleague Blaise Baquiche mentioned that Guido Fawkes had done a hit piece on me.  This was news to me, so I had to check, and indeed they did. Very exciting – fame at last, or at the very least infamy. Even though this is clearly an utterly inconsequential source, given I didn’t even know it had happened for six months, I thought it was worth responding to some of their specific complaints.  Unfortunately, these are fairly rare, if not entirely absent.  In fact, considering my political website has, at current count, 15 static pages and 54 blog posts, there is no evidence that the author of the article even ventured off the homepage for the site.  A little hint for them – there’s plenty more information “hidden” if you click on the menu and navigate to a subpage.  In particular, the “About Ian” page which should give you plenty to comment on regarding my career and hobbies, as well as my disability, which I am certain you will mock given your search for low-hanging fruit. So, onto the points they actually raised. Actual picture of Guido Fawkes (NB – not actually a picture, this is clearly just a joke) Testimonial Sources When I decided to write this website, I decided to ask some people that know me well to provide some testimonies.  This includes family, friends, former coworkers, former students and people who I have worked with in my capacity as a candidate.  In short, a good blend of people from my entire lifetime. Guido Fawkes makes the complaint that: His website publicises praise from his brother, aunt, jū jūtsu instructor as well as two former co-workers. And perhaps the biggest name of the lot… “Anonymous”. Some Guy My own name is all over this site, and all the testimonials are about me.  However, the article criticising me for correctly withholding the name of someone who wished to remain anonymous comes from someone who didn’t even sign their own name to the article they wrote about me.  Not sure if the anonymous author has ever heard of GDPR, but there are rules in the UK about what types of data you are allowed to share about someone, and on top of that there are good practices.  I suppose I could have simply said that the quote was by J R Hartley or similar, but that would have been dishonest, which would breach one of the three principles that I felt important enough to include in the very header of my site. In short, I liked the quote, so I put it on the site.  If you don’t like that, the Back button is right there, you are most welcome to use it. My family know me better than anyone, and I have had major disagreements about politics with many of my family over the years.  Despite this, they are happy to endorse me as a political candidate, as are co-workers, friends and people I have worked with on an advocacy basis. At this point, I ought to critique some of the reading comprehension of whoever wrote that article.  In the testimonials section, there are two people mentioned as former fellow jū jūtsu instructors, not a single person who taught me jū jūtsu.  In fact, both of these were my students, and happened to teach at the same club as me before my disability, hence they were fellow instructors.  One of them served on the committee of the Aiuchi Jiu Jitsu Association with me, while the other is someone I have known for over a decade, supported when he applied for UK citizenship and attended his wedding in another country.  Again, indicative of how well I know them and they know me. Finally, it is genuinely impossible to work out what sources would be acceptable.  After racking my brain, I think the only conclusion would be to approach people I don’t know and ask them for a comment about my personality and suitability for political office.  I have simulated what this would look like below: Who the hell are you? Some random passer-by Obsequious Behaviour A comment in passing was that posting these testimonials was sycophantic posting.  I think the author is confused, as sycophancy is basically sucking up to someone to try to gain an advantage, e.g. a promotion at work.  In this case, comments that I post about myself cannot possibly be sycophantic.  It could be argued that it’s self-promotion or some form of arrogance perhaps, but definitely not sycophancy. Now, you can certainly argue that these were an effort by me to help people get to know me and what principles I stand for, and if that was the accusation I would say “guilty as charged”.  That is, after all, the entire point of a personal website, and as an aspiring politician I need to get information about me out there. No-one is forcing you or anyone else to read my site.  Read if you want to find out more about me, or go somewhere else if you’d prefer to be doing something else. Tax Affairs The author makes the comment that I stated that Nadhim Zahawi should no longer be an MP.  I stand by that. The claim was then made that I should look into Ed Davey’s tax affairs.  Okie dokie. From what that article says, Ed Davey paid reduced tax on winding up of a company largely owned by his wife.  Now, you might argue that this is immoral, you might argue that you want politicians and everyone else to stay clear of those options so that the Exchequer gets more money.  That’s fine, but that needs to influence your voting choice, i.e. you need to vote for parties which state that they plan to close those options down.  Right now, it’s perfectly legal, therefore criticising someone for paying lower tax rates on winding up a company is akin to claiming that politicians shouldn’t use ISAs to get