A Chequered Flag?
Dr Teck Khong.
A simple referendum on staying or leaving the EU has spawned so many proposals for separation and continues to atomise every aspect of any given area of contention. Even the land border with the Irish Republic seemed to have come unexpectedly into full view.
Promises, speeches and proposals have fallen by the wayside, while many events have supervened. However, the most recent meeting at the Chequers where the Prime Minster presented her fresh and third set of proposals for Brexit negotiations merits examination for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it resulted in the resignation of two of her most senior cabinet colleagues and two parliamentary private secretaries in the space of the first 24 hours alone. Secondly, by logical inference, the Prime Minister’s position is weakened.
At the time of writing, ten members of Mrs May’s cabinet have resigned. Now we have four amendments which PM May has accepted – the UK will not collect tariffs for the EU unless the rest of the EU reciprocates, there is to be no border in the Irish Sea, the UK to leave the EU’s VAT system and new legislation must be required if the government wanted to form a customs union with the EU.
From the Prime Minister’s responses to the Liaison Committee on 18th July, it is clear that the approach to the EU negotiation is one of constantly referring and deferring to the EU, mollifying the EU at the slightest hint of displeasure by the latter. The British government has taken a weak stance.
Yet the day before in Tokyo, the EU signed both an economic partnership agreement and a strategic partnership agreement with Japan. The former, when fully implemented removes 99% of the tariffs applied on EU exports to Japan, which currently amount to about €1 billion. In neither of the agreements was there demand for payment up front that EU demands of the UK in Brexit trade negotiations. Such bullying is countenanced by Mrs May and her government!
To add insult to injury, Conservative backbenchers like Anna Soubry continue to foment dissent and purveying fear that is unsubstantiated. The dependency on and submission to EU dominance is most embarrassing.
The Sovereign Party, spurred on by the ineptitude and indifference of so many MPs from both the Government and Opposition, looks to the unhappy majority of the British public disappointed by political shenanigans for support. For our country’s sake, for the future of our children and grandchildren, Sovereign will ensure the future prosperity of a proud and independent UK with its comprehensive policies and its core principles based on transparency and accountability.
It’s not just the what, it’s the why and the how.
When I sent out this tweet, I got a lot of responses, all but a few giving examples of NHS waste, or bemoaning the fact that the NHS is wasteful. The most responses, retweets and likes in my twitter history, in fact. I decided to write for our newsletter on NHS waste and started to look for more information. It was a short search. I found this article from over a year ago and it said a lot of what I was thinking of saying myself. What struck me as I read it was that the points it made had been said, many times before, and over many years, and unless something changes will be said again.
This led me to think ‘why just re-iterate old stories’ when no amount of publicity and public anger has made a jot of difference, and to ask the bigger question. So my question is: Why and how has this been allowed to continue, and how should it be fixed?
As my fellow Sovereign founders know, my biggest bugbear is bureaucracy, and as far as I am concerned this answers the ‘why and how’ in my question. They operate as opaquely possible to avoid anyone questioning their actions and decisions. This is the ‘how’. My view is that their prime motivations include better salaries and increased staff. This is the ‘why’. The result I see is that the service they are meant to be providing comes a distant second. One thing they are very good at is playing with our emotions through the media, as it supports their prime motivations to do so.
Why, for instance, did they announce last October that they were worried about ‘Winter’, as though it was a new thing, then continue to allow operations to be booked at the same rate? The operations that were then very publicly cancelled when ‘Winter’ inevitably and predictably required day to day resources to be diverted away from providing the people needed to support those operations. During the crisis it was also reported that a significant number of senior medical staff attended drug company conferences at the height of winter, in Swiss ski resorts. As the NHS helped with travel costs and granted the leave needed, it should not have been a surprise. What this means, in my opinion, is that the managers are ‘gaming’ the system for their own ends, happily commoditising patients in the process.
A current example is the emerging Gosport scandal. According to an analytical article in a recent Sunday Times the scandal will a lot bigger, due to a type of syringe pump now known to be faulty. It is estimated that 40,000 of these pumps were in use across the NHS. Pumps that were first reported as faulty in 1996 by inspectors in NHS Scotland. Fourteen years later in 2010 the NHS issued a recommendation that these pumps should be replaced but stopped short of a formal recall. It was only in 2015 that a deadline set sometime later to remove them expired. It is also reported that although the pump is no longer made, the maker continues to provide parts and advice nationwide, suggesting these pumps are still in use. I have repeated these facts here purely to highlight the uncaring and unresponsive attitude of NHS management, who should have acted in 1996. I am very grateful to the diligence of The Sunday Times for the work done to write this article.
As for fixing the problems, one of our commitments is for greater accountability and transparency, with better protection and support for whistle-blowers. Although we would prefer to see no more scandals, we will move to a model where such investigations are easier and better informed than today.
Be in no doubt, Sovereign will do whatever it takes to change attitudes and responsibilities for the benefit of the patient, the medical and ancillary staff, and the tax payer. That these changes will not suit NHS management does not concern us in the slightest.
The case for UK energy independence
All the excitement in the media and in Parliament over rebellions, amendments and narrow votes around the Government’s Brexit legislation has overshadowed Trump’s tour of Europe this last fortnight. The US media has been in uproar over his Helsinki visit to meet President Putin of Russia. But the most important moment actually came when Trump sat down to breakfast with European leaders at a meeting of NATO.
It was not the funding issue which caught my ear, but his comment about Germany expecting the US to defend her from Russia while Germany is at the same time doing a gas pipeline deal with Putin. Britain is not exempt from this concern. North Sea production has tumbled since 2000 and we are currently dependent on gas both to and from the European network and liquid gas tankered in from the Middle East. Recent diplomatic stresses between Middle Eastern countries threaten stability of supply.
Energy and national security are closely intertwined. As Trump pointedly asked, what is the point of having a military frontier against a regime which can bring you to your knees by turning off a gas valve? We are at the far end of the pipeline from Russia, and it isn’t just Putin’s gas valve we have to worry about. Of course, this is also about Trump pitching for US liquid gas exports. North America is awash with energy, and the US is fast becoming a large net producer.
A line of supply from US, our strongest ally, would enable us to withdraw from the morass of Middle East conflict and EU dominated lines of supply. This would be very valuable to the UK, because it means we can develop our own onshore shale gas reserves at a sensible and steady pace with our own engineering industry, another national security essential. As we wind down weapons production for export to Saudi Arabia, we can ramp up our own shale gas production.
The prospect of reliable, secure and affordable energy produced onshore encourages investment in industry, and reduces prices for domestic consumers. One of the largest potential benefits of Brexit is the prospect of being able to withdraw from the European energy grid and its regulation by the EU.
Are you capable of a sensible vote?
It sounds like a cheeky title, but this is about those in power and the mainstream media. I don’t think I have to belabour the fact that it is obvious they think we are ‘the little people’, and we should take their advice on what is best for us. Indeed, it is clear they consider those that don’t agree with their point-of-view are fools, Marxists or fascists, and make no bones about putting it in a nasty way.
We are, however, blessed with a democratic system that enables those that disagree with them to change the way things are done. I would like to remind everyone that many things are done in a way that discourages those that want change from taking the trouble to vote and disparages those that want change.
We can’t stop others from having an opinion nor should we try; it is the bedrock of our democratic system. So how can we change things? It is in my opinion quite straight forward. YOU decide what you think is best for you and vote accordingly. The catch is that you must vote your choice. If the mainstream media have misled you and other like-minded voters, the inclination is not to vote.
However, voting your choice has two benefits in particular. It enables other voters to realise that there are like-minded people with the same view, and you get to have your say. Whether it is successful ‘this time’ can’t be guaranteed, but it will improve your chances of things being done your way next time.
The commonest ploy mainstream media uses to influence you is to imply you are stupid to have the opinion because they have ‘experts’ who would corroborate the view that you are foolish. As you uncover their maligned assertion, you will find that the implication that figures are too financially complex for the novices to comprehend. Of course that is mostly untrue
The benefits of the ERM in the 1990s were heralded for the ways we would save money and holidays would be cheaper. The result is the taxpayer lost £6Bn for this legal rip-off as we crashed out of the ERM with 15% interest rates. The mainstream media made noises in 2016 regarding the EU Referendum about how we would immediately crash the economy and there would be lost jobs. Post-referendum reality proved they were wrong.
I don’t want to make the same mistake by claiming that I am infallible, those situations could have turned out differently, but they didn’t, and that means there is no reason why your view or choice is any worse than theirs. The practical reasons aren’t the only reasons that people vote for Parties. What kind of country do you want to live in?
It was not the exclusive reason that people voted for Brexit, but largescale migration was definitely a major factor. The mainstream media and others would have you believe that to want to limit migration makes you a bigot and fascist. Well, in a democracy you are entitled to choose your way of life. The democratic Western countries usually have Constitutions that that limit what changes can be made either by the voter or the government.
A Constitution will never be perfect because they are constructed by people, and the world people live in changes over time. Some of the problems in the USA are a good example. They do however, provide a framework that people in general accept, even if not perfect, and are willing to live with in peace.
A Constitution provides a framework for Laws that avoids the extremes of the current population that live in that country. Without this kind of framework, extreme political Parties can enact any kind of laws they wish, and have the police and even the army impose them on the population.
I happen to favour having a written Constitution, but stress the encouragement to “get out and vote”, whatever your view. It is currently the way things get changed. If you want things changed, at least get out and vote. If possible, get involved in a Party that appears to represent you and help shape their Policies. People who believe they are in charge of their lives tend to be happier.
Do you want someone else to choose how you live?
Social media and children
Nobody can deny that the explosive growth of social media has caused problems, particularly for children. The Daily Telegraph certainly believes this and has started a well-argued campaign to impose a legal ‘duty of care’ on Social Media platforms, a campaign supported across the political spectrum and it is a cause we at Sovereign also support.
However, as part of this campaign we would like to see something else as well, which is support for parents to help them keep their own children safe. In the Sovereign Party, we do not believe in telling parents what they should or should not do, or taking away responsibility, and sum up our approach as ‘Tools, not Rules’.
We would work with those who develop the systems and apps used by children in order to extend parental responsibility to internet and social media use. For previous generations of parents and children, such responsibility was a lot easier, with questionable magazines stashed under mattresses and bullying conducted in full view of others.
Our tools not rules approach is intended to give parents the same level of visibility to the internet based activities of their children, allowing them to take responsibility.