May is leading us to economic suicide

10-theresa-may-gettyToday, Theresa May will announce that she has decided that the UK will commit economic suicide by not only leaving the EU (which is bad enough n it’s own right) but also say she will drag us out of the European Single Market and it’s Customs Union.

This will mean that all import of goods from the EU & our exports to it will not only be subject to tariffs & quotas but have to undergo customs inspections at EU borders (including when being transported in or out of the Irish Republic).

The consequences of this are that costs to industries that import raw materials from the EU will rise, our exports to the EU will become more expensive and therefore less competitive and the prices in shops on any goods brought in from the EU will go up.

Inevitably, this will lead to inflation in the UK at the same time as wages will be squeezed as companies try to mitigate cost rises elsewhere.

It also means that companies like Toyota, BAe, Bomdardier and many others who have multiple facilities across the EU will not be able to move parts in or out of the UK as easily as they can now with a knock-on effect on jobs here.

Sterling has already taken yet another dive in the Currency Markets because of leaks from May speech, adding to inflationary pressures here in the UK

What May is proposing is economic madness and only those who are ideologically blinkered over the EU will welcome it.  For most of us it will signal her intention to inflict a long, hard period of economic hardship on the British people.  We must stop her.

Letter for Bassetlaw – May 15th 2016

This week we have learnt the Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust have had to suspend Emergency Surgical Admissions at our local Bassetlaw Hospital because they don’t have the Junior Doctors needed to provide cover for this service.

I have written a post on this earlier in the week (see Why is Bassetlaw losing Emergency Surgery?) so will not go through everything again here.  I am speaking Mike Pinkerton, the Chief Executive of the Trust, on Wednesday to get an update on the issue.  I will also take the opportunity to raise any concerns that local people may have.  If there is something you want me to ask Mr Pinkerton, please email me at bassetlaw.sherwood.lib.dems@gmail.com.

 

On Saturday, I was involved in the Liberal Democrat’s National #INtogether Day of Action for the EU Referendum.  All across the country we have had teams of Lib Dems out right across the country, you can see some of the pictures on the Liberal Democrat Facebook page

While we had one team out on Carolgate in Retford, I was with another team in Ollerton, a town where Lib Dems haven’t campaigned in for years.  I was a bit worried about how our pro-Remain message would be received in a town that is widely regarded as a strong pro-Leave area but in the event, most people were happy to take our leaflets and to talk to us.  We certainly were able to get people to think about the issues and what leaving the EU would mean.

Because the Referendum is a national vote, every vote counts, unlike in normal elections.  This means we need to take our message to towns like Ollerton, Hucknall (where I was out delivering leaflets last Sunday) and all across Bassetlaw.  To do this in the few left before the vote on June 23rd, we need all the help we can get.  If you can deliver some leaflets in the area around where you live, please let me now, it would be greatly appreciated, just contact me at ld4bassetlaw@gmail.com.

 

One of the most disturbing parts of the Referendum Campaign is the way the different Leave groups seem to be competing with each other to tell bigger & bigger lies about the EU.

From the repeated myths that they have been peddling for years like claiming the EU is undemocratic (it isn’t, see here for an explanation on how democracy in the EU works) to more recent ones like the UK pays £350 million pounds a week to the EU (we don’t, that figure has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, but the claim is still being repeated by those running the leave campaigns), through to Boris Johnson’s ridiculous claims that the EU is like Hitler’s Europe (it isn’t, it simply isn’t, read this post on IN Facts) there has been a steady stream of misinformation. Exaggerations & downright lies from the leave campaigns in an ever more desperate attempt to make people vote to leave the EU.

Why can’t they stick to the truth?  Why do the different Leave campaigns all have to resort to such tactics?  Could it be they know that it is the only way they can con the British public into leaving the EU?

 

Finally, a few words about the County Council elections that will be coming up next May.  We are in the process of selecting our 9 candidates in Bassetlaw as well as the other 58 across Nottinghamshire.  If you think you can do a better job representing the people of Nottinghamshire better than our current County Councillors, this is your opportunity.  Get in contact (either of the two email addresses above) and help us make Nottinghamshire a better County to live in for everyone.

 

 

 

 

Letter for Bassetlaw – March 20th 2016

Another busy week with work, family & political commitments combining to keep me rushed of my feet. To be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way, I find not being busy just as tiring and much less productive.

I did however make time yesterday to watch England beat France (always something worth celebrating) to complete the Grand Slam.  Not a classic game but a great watch anyway & a good way to round off a busy day.

Yesterday afternoon I was out on Carolgate in Retford, helping with a “Stronger In” street stall.  It is always great to get out and talk to those who will be voting and while there were plenty who had already made up their mind and no amount of facts or evidence was going to change that, many were either already in favour of Remaining In or were undecided and wanted to find out more.

What did surprise me was the level of argument that some in the “Leave” campaign use.  When any attempt to give factual information to show why we are better off remaining in the EU, is met with “that sh*te!”, it is really hard to a sensible discussing.  If they cannot do better than that, then the British public will soon realise that the “Leave” campaign is built on bluster & daydreams and that we need to stay in the EU.

One discussion we had yesterday was with a student who wants to go on to University to study Law.  He was initially favouring the Leave side but when it was pointed out that, if we stay in the EU, he could study in English at a leading European University where there are much lower (or even no) Tuition Fees or that, even if he goes to a UK University, he could spend a year at a University in Europe as part of his course[i] he saw that Remaining In, was not such a bad idea.  This leads me to discuss the second of the areas that I suggest people should look at when thing about how to vote, Opportunity.

Being in the EU gives us more than direct economic benefits.  Part of the being in the single market means we enjoy the benefit of the Free movement of persons.  As we pointed out to the young student, this means that students from the UK can study at Universities in the EEA (EU + EFTA countries) on the same terms as students from those countries.   It means that works from the UK can work anywhere in the EEA without being discriminated against (except in some circumstances where knowledge of the language is critical, as in medicine), remember the TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?  It also means pensioners can retire to Spain or France.  Many UK citizens have made use of these rights and there are about 2.2 million Brits who for at least part of the year, live work or study elsewhere in the EU.  This compares to the 2.3 million citizens of other EU countries who live, work or study in the UK[ii]

It is not just people who benefit from the opportunities being in the EU.  Companies in the UK can tender for work anywhere in the EEA and many do.  Not just in manufacturing, bust also in services & finance, British companies are look for customers & opportunities across Europe, providing work for people here in the UK.

All this would be at risk if we leave the EU.  The opportunities for young British people to expand horizons by studying abroad, the opportunities for British people to work anywhere across Europe would be curtailed & the opportunities for our companies to tender for contracts & openings in the EU will be diminished.   Is this what you want?

[i] http://www.erasmusprogramme.com/

[ii] https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-migration-and-uk/

Letter from Bassetlaw – February 14th 2016

Leon Duveen 140920aFinally, I managed to spend a little time in the garden earlier today trying to tidy up the bushes and spread some compost.  Since the New year, I have hardly had time to stop and am grateful that this week I have a short break between finishing one job and starting the next.  Time to get my office tidied up & cleaned and all my paper work (as I am self-employed, there is plenty of that) brought up to date.

 

Later this week David Cameron will be going to Brussels to try to finalise the renegotiations on British membership of the EU.  If he succeeds, then the chances are he will set the date for the Referendum on British membership of the EU.  The date that seems most likely is June 23rd so we will be in for few months of campaigning by both those who believe that the UK’s future lies in being part of the EU and those who (mistakenly in my view) think that the UK can survive & prosper out of it.

In the run up to the Referendum, be it in June or later in the year, there will be much written for and against staying in the EU.  I will not doubt be contributing my efforts as well but for now I just want to give some advice on how to judge what is written.

As I know, it is all too easy to sit at a computer nowadays and put out a post expressing views as if they are facts, dressing up opinions as if they are the indisputable wisdom that has been passed down from on high.  This is true of both the Remain & Leave campaigns (although I hope not me) so how can you tell what is worth reading & paying attention to and what is just, to put it simply, unsubstantiated codswallop?

My advice is trust none of it unless the writer has taken the time to reference the sources of the facts they claim support their views   By this I mean the source data, not just someone else who supports their views.  Look for links to reports from authoritative bodies, not think tanks, or to statistics collected by governments.

Most of all use your own mind to think through the decision.  Read what is written & listen to what is said but you will need to draw your own conclusions and vote in the Referendum accordingly.  Don’t forget, the Referendum is not to join the EU, we are already members and cannot turn the clock back 40 years.

You will be voting to decide if we should leave the EU, will this make the UK more Prosperous, give us more Opportunities, help protect the Peace that Europe has enjoyed for over 70 years, secure our Environment from pollution and climate change and, finally, improve our Security against international criminals & terrorism?

If you, like me, think that leaving the EU would not be able to deliver on all these issues, then don’t vote for it, vote to Remain In.

 

I was saddened to here of the death of Lord Avebury earlier today.  I never met him but Eric Lubbock was one of the first Liberal politicians I became aware of & the Orpington by-election (which I don’t remember but I can recall hearing about as the original Liberal revival) has become a standard which all our election results are judged by.  By all accounts he was a decent honest man who worked hard as an MP and was respected across party lines for standing up for what he believed in

His death marks the end of an era and a reminder that even though at times the Liberals (and now the Lib Dems) may have been down to single figures of MPs (there had 6 before Orpington), the party can never be written off.  I just hope it doesn’t take another 50 years to get back into power though as the UK need a strong Liberal voice.

Indeed, at a time when we have one of the most right-wing, regressive Tory Governments we have ever seen (even more so than Thatcher’s Government) and a Labour Party in opposition that seems more intent on fighting itself than opposing the Government, we need a strong Liberal voice to stand up for ordinary people, to make sure we all get a chance to get on in life, not just those with rich families or links to those that run the Unions, as the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution puts it “. . . to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full.”   If you agree with this statement, your place is with us in the Liberal Democrats.

Letter from Bassetlaw – December 19th 2015

Leon Duveen 140920aThis week has been dominated by two subjects, Fracking and the EU Referendum.  As I suspect these subject will continue to dominate in the weeks & months to come, it is right that I will use this, my last “Letter from Bassetlaw” for this year, to look at both.

Fracking vs Renewables.

This week we saw the Government renege on the commitments made before the election not the extract methane or oil from under National Parks & other sensitive areas of our countryside.  Now, it will be OK to Frack under places like Sherwood Forest & Clumber just so long as the site they drill from is outside the sensitive area.   They have also slashed subsides to the solar power industry by 65%.

Also this week Bassetlaw District Council’s Planning Committee voted not to object to iGas’s plan to drill a test bore under Misson to see if there is enough Methane there to make it worth Fracking.  Only 1 of the Councillors (and thank you to Cllr Graham Oxby) was brave enough to stand up to the bullies and vote against the application.  This was after compelling evidence had been presented to show that far from bringing jobs to the area, the drilling will put 75 jobs at risk on a local Organic farm as the chemicals used as lubricants in the drilling the bore would bit that Organic status at risk.  The application now goes on to Nottinghamshire County Council to approve or not

Since May, our Government (which only got the support of less than 37% of those who voted in the General Election) has rolled back all the safeguards against Fracking put in place by the Lib Dem Secretaries of State, Chris Huhne & Ed Davey, when they were in charge at DECC.  This is completely incompatible with the commitments made in Pairs last weekend to cut back on the burning of hydrocarbons.

After these developments, and prompted by a discussion I had been having with others, I posted a comment on my Facebook page.

Even if Fracking was clean, safe and economic, I would still oppose it as we cannot afford to burn more hydrocarbons.   We must move away from this dangerous reliance on a technology that is poisoning the planet and the sooner we start making serious moves to do so, the better it will be.

Fracking will not help the drive towards a clean energy future.  We must stop wasting time & money chasing ever harder to extract hydrocarbons and start make real investments into renewables.

The EU Referendum

In the run up to the European Parliaments elections, I was challenged to say why I was pro-EU so I wrote this post Why I am Pro-EU which I have reposted this week.   While some of the details may have change, the basic arguments are just as valid today as they were two weeks ago.  In some ways they are even more valid.

On a range of issues, from Climate Change to fighting International Crime, from combating terrorism & ensuring our security to making sure Human Rights are respected around the world, the problem cross national boundaries and can only be tackled by working closely with other countries.

The EU gives us that framework.  The UK needs to be taking the lead in using the EU’s standing & influence to solve these problems rather than walking away from it and diminishing bout our & the EU’s power to be a force for the better in the world.

I am not naïve to think that the EU cannot be improved.   Like most layers of Government, it can be over bureaucratic and remote from those it governs, just as Whitehall, County Hall and Queens Buildings can be.  These issues need to be address, indeed our concerns on this are shared by many across the EU, but would anyone seriously claim that Nottinghamshire (with 786,700 residents it is bigger than some members of the EU) should leave the UK because the UK Government in Westminster does not reflect what we want, does not take our concerns into account and cost too much?  No, and anyone suggesting that would be though to be a fool.  Well the UK is in the same position towards Europe as Nottinghamshire is to the UK Government.  We may have issues with it and what it does but to leave would be unthinkable.

 

D2N2

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to come back to you about what D2N2 means and how it affects us in Bassetlaw.  I had a meeting earlier this week with others from across Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire to explore this and found out that D2N2 is a “Local Enterprise Partnership” (LEP) for the combined area of Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire (including Nottingham & Derby cities) and is used to channel development funds from Central Government to the area.

The D2N2 area is now being offered the chance to get even more funding from the Government but the condition is that we have an Executive Mayor for the area and many of the powers, including planning, of the District, Borough, County & City Councils in the two Counties will be passed to the Mayor and a Combined Authority (CA) to oversee them.  It is not yet clear who will make up this CA.  The full range of powers to be passed up and the role of the Councils in the new settlement is still very unclear

The Government calls this Devolution but, to be honest, it does not look like devolving powers down to local communities, simply a way of taking powers from those communities & local accountable councils and centralising them in a single person even more remote and far less accountable by the people across two Counties

I am still working to fill in the gaps in my knowledge on the proposals and am open to having my views changed on this but for now, I feel the idea is bad news for us in the “remote north” of the area as we will get ignored both by the new CA and by the Sheffield City Region (which we also belong to) as both will think the other should be responsible for development here in Bassetlaw.

 

As I wrote at the beginning, this will be my final Letter from Bassetlaw this year, I will post my next one on the first weekend in January 2016.  I hope you all have a great time with family & friends over the next couple of weeks and look forward to a prosperous & rewarding time in 2016

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Letter from Bassetlaw – December 5th 2015

11212751_10153548490456773_5134864088091511748_nWell really this should be a “Letter from Limburg” where Yannie & I are enjoying a weekend break.  So far we have been round the Christmas Market in Valkenburg, where we are staying, and in Maastricht.  Tomorrow we hope to go across to Aachen in Germany (one of the advantages of open boarders in the EU) to see the same tat in the Christmas Market there.

So it has been an eventful week in politics.

On Wednesday, the Commons decided to authorise the RAF to extend it’s mission against ISIL in Syria & Iraq to include attacking targets in Syria.  I have made my view clear in posts on Facebook & elsewhere that I think this is a wrong choice and will not defeat ISIL so I won’t repeat all the arguments here.  As you can read in my Letter from Bassetlaw – November 26th2015, I also wrote to John Mann & he agreed with my position and voted against the authorisation in the House of Commons. Sadly, even though I and other Lib Dems wrote to all our MPs, 6 of the 8 vote to authorise the extended mission.

The main damage from the decision seems to have been on Labour Party unity (which I am sure was Cameron’s intention) rather than on ISIL.

Fracking in Bassetlaw

As you will know, in the last few weeks the sceptre of Fracking in our area is raising it’s ugly head.  Both in Misson, where iGas have applied for permission to drill a test bore & in Blyth, where a similar application is expected shortly, most of residents are agreed to oppose these developments and are objecting to the patronising way iGas talk to them.

Let’s hope common sense prevails and iGas realise they and Fracking are not wanted in Bassetlaw. Meanwhile we need to keep up the pressure on both iGas & Nottinghamshire County Council to make sure the applications do not go ahead.  You can find out what you can do to help on the Bassetlaw Against Fracking Bassetlaw Against Fracking.

D2N2 & what it means for Bassetlaw

To be absolutely honest with you, I don’t know.  For those that are not aware D2N2 is a Local Enterprise Partnership for Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire which promises to bring investment & jobs to the two Counties.  Along with this the Government are devolving powers to the area.  While I am all in favour of devolving power from an all too powerful Central Government, I want to make sure there is proper democratic control over those that will wield power in our name and not one or two people having all the control but not directly answerable to elected representatives.  I hope to find out more in the coming days and will share that in forthcoming Letters from Bassetlaw.

Bassetlaw for Europe

Sometime in the next 2 years, we will be having the long awaited referendum on whether we should stay in the European Union (which was created out of the EEC by the Treaty signed here in Maastricht in 1992) or leaving it.

I am very clear that the UK needs to be in the EU and not just as the semi-detached member that successive governments have consigned us to being but being a leader and shaping the future of the Union to make more responsive to the people of Europe.  The benefits for us all are many, & not just that we can drive from places like Worksop across to Maastricht, Aachen and even across to Warsaw with just some quick passport check at most to cross the many international boarders, and we would be poorer as a country economically & culturally if we were to leave.

Apart from the effects on the UK economy of leaving, there are three important areas where cooperation across the EU is vital to keeping us safe, these are the Environment, Security & crime. All three are now international issues and we in the UK need to work closely with partners in the EU (and beyond) if we are you make sure we deal successfully with them.

I will return to the Referendum and working to lead, not leave in Europe over the weeks and months ahead. If you want to be involved in the campaign to stay in the EU, let me know, your contribution will be most welcome.