Saturday 24 December 2016

"What I really wanted to hear from Remain"

Originally published on LibDem Voice on 23rd Dec 2016
I don’t know who Little Jackie Paper is but I am grateful to her / him for the following comment on  Katharine Pindar’s recent article on EU reform: “What I really wanted to hear from REMAIN in the referendum was, ‘if we remain in the EU the things that we would do differently in future are…..’”.
I think we all accept how ineffective the Remain campaign was overall. It is still quite painful to revisit it. I can still feel the daily gut wrenching at seeing opportunity slip by as the Leave campaign outthought and outfought us. We had so little to offer that was positive, and Little Jackie Paper’s comment sums that up. It focussed my mind, so here is my answer:
End within two years the silliness of the EU working in two places. It is a waste of money and time and it symbolises everything that is wrong about the EU. Find something to placate French feeling about the loss of prestige involved.
Invite every single EU country leader here on a rolling programme over the next two and a half years to explore concerns and mutual interests.
Get properly involved in the give and take of EU negotiation. We are so often a dog in the manger that we make people reluctant to give us concessions when they can.
Recognise (tough one this) that Britain needs the security of military and intelligence co-operation with all the countries that lie between us and Russia, and work to develop those links.
Give up our support for the remnant of TTIP, and support starting to work on a trade deal that benefits citizens, not corporations.
Work with others in the EU to ensure transparency, particularly in government spending. It should be UK and EU policy that any contract awarded by government must be subject to FOI scrutiny, and cannot be hidden by the fig leaf called commercial confidentiality. People have the right to see how their money is being spent regardless of who is spending it.
Develop an overall EU policy to tax corporations in the countries where they make their sales, not where they are able to set up their headquarters with sweetheart deals.
Make a point of publicising the benefits of immigration for this country, but at the same time recognise that central government policy has been unhelpful in dealing with effects. We should work to create quicker, more generous and longer term responses to places where immigration surges put pressure on housing, schooling and health services. We demand subsidiarity from the EU: we should practise what we preach and put more power, and more money, in the hands of local authorities who have to deal with the negatives of immigration.
That is one way of recognising that, as well as changing our approach to the EU. we need to change the way we do things in this country. The EU is not the cause of many of our problems. The bigger problem is the fascination that Tory, Labour and some LibDem leaders have for neoliberal practices which benefit elites far more than they benefit ordinary people.
We must develop a regional policy that spreads jobs and prosperity beyond the south east.
We must develop a housing policy that actually builds houses.
We must develop a principle that any major spending project, like HS2, must pass a test of benefit to the regions, rather than the de facto test of benefit to London.
We must immediately provide significantly more resources to HMRC to pursue payment of corporation tax.
That’s a start.

Thursday 22 December 2016

Tin of the year

I bought this in 1973. I used the last peppercorn from it this year.

I wonder if there is a museum somewhere that would like to have it.

Best technology of the year: the delivery paddle

Manufactured somewhere near Newhaven. Pressed hardboard. The originals had no thong. The thong was added after one disappeared through a letter box, and now has teeth marks on it.