Why I am not Standing in the 8th June 2017 General Election
I stood as an independent in the 2015 election for Milton Keynes South, as a voice free from any party edict or doctrine, able to challenge and debate with all parties. This election, called by Theresa May representing the party elected with a strong majority and looking to execute on the referendum, is different, which is why I chose not to stand against my respected political sparring partner of 2015, Iain Stewart. On the referendum, I personally was split between my dislike of erosion of British Sovereignty within the EU and my fear of moving away from an established trading relationship, and fell down on the side of remain. But immediately the referendum results came in for leave, I decided to support the will of the people and government, in making Britain a great Global Trading Nation again. So, do I agree with every Conservative policy. No, Do I believe Theresa May can lead the government to deliver the best deal for this country, Yes.
So, I recently took the opportunity to explain my position to my local MP, Iain Stewart, on giving my support for his re-election, fully endorsing the case for giving Theresa May for the strongest mandate to get the best deal for Britain and negotiate hard. I am still an Independent, and I will be lobbying Iain to fight certain policies, such as those that cause the erosion of school funding that needs to accommodate additional costs of apprentice tax, pension, NI, minimum wage and creating more funding for Grammar Schools. By contrast, I have no confidence in the Labour Leadership and its naïve, anti-Corporate, EU appeasing stance, nor its ability to create an economic environment to fund their proposed manifesto, and do not see them as a credible alternative.
The rhetoric from the EU Presidency and EU Commission actually re-enforces the reasons for operating outside the enforced constraints of the Union. The EU commission does not truly represent the electorate of any country. Outside of Germany and France, individual countries interests are never properly represented, yet any country, no matter how small a contributor can malevolently derail initiatives. It is the EU Presidency and Commission that try to inflame emotions to damage negotiations.
Industrialists from Germany and France enjoy a Net win exporting their engineering to the UK. Easily evidenced from the ONS figures, especially obvious in the car industry. They are business focussed and not the ones driving for a binary decision of full EU Rules or Hard Exit (WTO rules). They are not the ones shouting out their opinion on Britain hurting more than the EU on exit.
The German and French Industrialist know that if they allow the EU bully the UK into a Hard Exit, the UK could use the Net importer position to collect net positive tariffs and use it to benefit UK businesses with tax breaks and business incentives to create competitive advantage for exports. Again, this evidence is available from the ONS and other published data. Labour and Liberal leaders have the strange notion that we just roll over and take any conditions the EU Commission wish to impose, for fear of upsetting them. Our starting position should be for no deal. Let the EU Commission feel the lobby from the Council of the EU from the Country Members, feeling the weight of Lobby from their own Industrialists. Let the Commission learn how to serve the common interests of the common people of the Country Citizens in their care, from within. Only then will the UK be able to strike a deal worth having.
And ironically as our economy keeps growing, we will likely have greater net migration. However, it will not be randomly a “free movement”, it will be selective migration determined by need and not a manifesto quota.
My big personal crusade continues for the UK to take advantage of its geographical location between East and West invest and build a World Class Global Digital Hub with supercomputer processing (PFlops) and superfast connectivity infrastructure (Tbits/s). Our last great Industrial Revolution was powered by coal, steel, rail and the finest Merchant Navy. Our future revolution is Super Fast Data Processing, Analytics and Digital Connectivity. This Hub should be built in Milton Keynes, as the communications fulcrum to the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford, Cambridge.
It’s about time that the Milton Keynes Members of Parliament started using their positions as Parliamentary Ministers on behalf of the community of Milton Keynes.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has the power to take over (‘call in’) planning applications rather than letting the local authority decide. The secretary of state will normally only do this if the application conflicts with national policy in important ways, or is nationally significant.
He or she has to take published government policy into account when deciding whether or not to call in a planning application, and when making the decision. If the secretary of state decides to call in a planning application, an inspector is appointed to carry out an inquiry into the proposal. The secretary of state has to take the inspector’s findings into account when making the decision. (Standard Note: SN/SC/0930 Last updated: 29 July 2014 Author: Louise Smith Section Science and Environment Section).
This should be ‘called in’ by our local MP’s Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart to The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark): The Government believe that planning decisions should be taken in, and by, local communities, and so use their call-in powers sparingly. Essentially, the powers are used when matters are of national significance.
Local Communities (such as Aylesbury Vale) cannot be allowed to abuse their local powers by pushing developments to their boundary edges, forcing infrastructure responsibility on a neighboring community, (i.e. Milton Keynes).
Iain Stewart is absolutely right to voice objection. He has articulated the reasons to object very well. However the Milton Keynes community wants and needs a stronger action with the Secretary of State, at Westminster from Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster.
The National Audit Office states that the spending on infrastructure is below target by £15 billion. In every Autumn Statement since 2010 the Government has claimed that Infrastructure investment is at the heart of plans for National Growth yet the spending has dropped from £57 billion in 2009/10 to £42 billion in 2013/14. The Head of the NAO, Amyas Morse has gone as far as stating this as irresponsible.
Yet it would appear that the government have exceeded its Public Spending savings to the tune of a forecast £23 billion (2019/20). It appears that this is where the vote winning tax “give back” will come from. The Government knows infrastructure investment is vital to growth which creates jobs and a good spending cycle in the economy, stimulating recovery. To hold this investment back is a cynical short term vote winning tactic.
“I know understand why the Conservative MP duo in Milton Keynes may want to keep away from demanding the “City Deal” from their ruling party, even though they promoted this as an important Government initiative back in 2012”, says Stephen Fulton, Independent candidate for Milton Keynes South.
The UK Main Party political systems has taken away an important choice from the electorate. The electorate that votes for a Main Party gets the candidate they are given. The party machine decides on their “front man” for your constituency. The party machine creates their language, their policies and their public opinion. In return the “front man” is dutifully “whipped” into line for government policy and decision making.
“Don’t you want your chosen representative to actually represent you ahead of a party?” says Stephen Fulton Independent candidate for Milton Keynes South.
A fresh example of this is was on the 4th of February 2015, when a Labour motion to improve the quantity quality of apprenticeships, as policy was defeated 294 Noes and 218 Ayes. Again something critical to the aspirations of Milton Keynes youth, to take their place in the job market with skills that are required for growth. Iain Stewart diligently “whipped” to vote against it.
Anyone following the “City Deal” saga would see no evidence of any push for this for Milton Keynes at Westminster from the Conservative MP’s. Instead it would appear to have been left to a Labour Shadow Minister to put the question to Greg Clarke, (June 2014), on this critical investment for Milton Keynes. In 2012 Iain Stewart made noises of support in the media, of the then Conservative Head of Milton Keynes , who stated intent to negotiate hard with the Government, but with no evidence of action from Iain at Westminster.
“My question is simple. Why surrender your choice by handing it to an “out of touch” party elite when you can pick the person who will fight for your needs above any party?” says Stephen Fulton, Independent candidate for Milton Keynes South..
The “City Deal” bid was always essential for MK to grow its population to numbers which meet government targets. The infrastructure is not adequate to support the town at its current size and certainly cannot support an increase. In addition, an increase in the supply of well-paid, skilled jobs must match the population growth. Industry needs infrastructure of the calibre known to the MK Strategic Planners. The MK MPs must be the champions of the MK Strategic Planners.
Of the 20 cities and areas asked to bid, 12 have so far had Government backing, including nearby Oxford, Thames Valley (Slough) and Cambridge whilst MK appears to be suffering a government attempt to "strong arm” MK into accepting an even greater level of housing than is sustainable.
The bid brought forward a plan that would enable the City to keep more of the money raised through housing growth and any business rates created by economic growth.
It is not acceptable to allow this to be shelved, with reliance on investment from broader South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership funding.
This is a fight that MK MPs should be staking their political careers on: to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s greatest model for all new Garden Cities. MK constituents need to demand that their MPs put MK first.
The Conservative MPs for Milton Keynes cannot put a positive spin on the decline of apprenticeship starts from 2,320 in 2012/13 to 1,790 in 2013/14 (from the ONS). The SEMPLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) conducted a short on-line survey at the end of 2013 amongst employers in the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire area regarding apprenticeships. 136 responses were received and although some of these were from Hertfordshire, nevertheless SEMLEP felt the responses still represented the views of SMEs across the SEMLEP area.
The majority of respondents employ between 1 – 49 employees (90%) and just over half of those businesses currently employ a young person aged 16-24. When asked about issues affecting 16-24 yr olds, the top 3 areas that employers said they wanted to be kept informed about were:
1. Wage incentives / Government grants (75.7%)
2. Courses / training available for existing staff (47.1%)
3. Opportunities for businesses to help local 16-24 year old job-seekers (44.1%)
Furthermore, corroborating this, back in March 2014 it was acknowledged and highlighted in the MK “Economic Development Performance Report”, that Government reforms for apprenticeship funding was causing some concern amongst SMEs and this fear of decline has now been realised in the figures released. But we should also remember that, when Labour were in power, MK never achieved greater than 1,110 start-ups (2009/10) during their time with a local Labour MP in MK South. Milton Keynes needs harder lobbying of the government to improve the funding and motivation of businesses to take on apprentices. The quality of apprenticeships needs to be raised in order to ensure the correct skills for the individual and the needs of businesses coming to Milton Keynes are met. The need for action and a strong lobby to the government cannot be more explicit. This hasn’t been achieved: MPs are set on applying their energies to defending their party instead of their constituency needs. I had the privilege of an apprenticeship start in engineering in 1978. The skills, experience and education were invaluable to me offering a path of improvement and continuation to high levels. All of our young people deserve this. Our UK, MK-based businesses need this to ensure a UK-grown, trained workforce. If the skills are not available from our UK workforce, businesses will bring in migrants. One of the reasons I decided to run as an Independent MP for Milton Keynes was to bring the fight to Westminster.
The country and Milton Keynes needs qualified free movement of people in order to attract international companies to set up European headquarters or operations in the UK. Santander is a good example in Milton Keynes where key Santander personnel can live and work in Milton Keynes itself. Our NHS has a shortage of skilled staff. To prevent the influx of skilled professionals such as doctors and nurses from overseas, the UK must increase the medical qualifications and training available to UK citizens. In addition, I have personally evidence that medical professionals such as paramedics are expensive to train, that there is inadequate mobility between NHS trusts and that highly trained staff are emigrating. We must stop this ludicrous situation; I will campaign for change.
The UK needs to follow the MK lead and create 10 new towns by 2025 to the successful MK garden city format. The government also want MK to continue to expand. If we do not have the trained work force in place from the UK, building firms will bring in migrants, a waste of employment opportunity to MK citizens. Businesses have stated their concern at the low levels of highly skilled workers available. A correctly trained UK workforce and incentives to businesses to home-grow a workforce is a positive way of controlling migration by removing the need for many migrants to be invited in. Withholding benefits for immigrants may be another effective way of controlling the influx of migrants that abuse the NHS and welfare system, mostly coming from the EU. Germany, for example, is preparing to restrict the period in which immigrants are allowed to stay in their country without a proper job. The United Kingdom has overhauled its immigration law and implemented a points-based system for non-European Union migrants wishing to come to the UK to work, study, and train. It still needs to ensure a more robust policy on EU migrants.
The points-based immigration system is broken into five tiers and replaces the previous 80 or so routes that existed previously. Each tier has different conditions, entitlements, and entry requirements for people wishing to live and work in the UK. This should continue to work to the needs of the UK and be strictly policed. The options to fix these problems should be promoted ahead of any proposed EU Referendum.
As stated, the majority of the UK, French and German public are all increasingly worried about migrants abusing their social services. If the situation cannot be managed or reform proved impossible, I would agree with the "in/out" referendum on British membership of the European Union in 2017. When asked how they would vote if Britain renegotiates its terms with the EU, and the government ensures British interests are better protected, a wide majority of over 50% said they would vote to stay. However the EU has made it clear that it will not re-negotiate the terms. The UK public want the facts on both EU membership and its impact on the UK, both positive and negative; UK citizens also want to retain sovereignty and self-determination of its laws. The UK has always benefited from the important special relationship with the US who have stated they believe this would be threatened if the UK left the EU. All these issues must be raised to enable the MK constituents to be clear on any effect on the local economy and country as a whole.
We deserve MPs who will aggressively take the fight to the Department of Health to secure investment.
The local newspaper, the Citizen, has waged a two-year campaign for a new city A&E. The investment will pay for a brand new ward block, new outpatient facilities, a multi-storey car park and a ‘common front door’ for the Urgent Care Centre and A&E to sit side by side.
We have seen the front page news (Milton Keynes Citizen) talking of a Milton Keynes bid to the department of health for £178 million expansion of the MK hospital. Joe Harrison, the hospital’s Chief Executive, is quoted as saying; “The cash injection is likely to be given the go-ahead if everything falls into place following the end of the MK Healthcare Review”. He said: “It is an outstanding sum of money. If we get it, this will make sure we can provide care to a growing population for at least the next 20 years". The city-wide Healthcare Review is expected to begin public consultation in the summer.
Conservative MPs are of course entering into blatant electioneering. Words like “backing the scheme” and “confident the bid will be won” are too lenient: Milton Keynes MPs need to continue to fight for this and accept no compromise for the UK’s greatest model Garden City as a pre-requisite for continued growth. This will take determination and resolve.
The ONS figures published in December 2014 show average annualised figures (July 13 to June 14). These show that MK MPs need to work harder to ensure that any increased investment in the town benefits MK constituents. MK claimants at 2.6% compared with the South East (1.8%), Buckinghamshire (1.4%), Oxfordshire (1.1%), and Cambridgeshire (1.4%). We need to equip MK job-seekers with the skills needed to take up the jobs which statistically are there: there are 1.5 jobs available for each person requiring work. MK needs more training and apprenticeship opportunities to match this demand.