Mediterranean crisis: a proposal / Vote-swapping update / Hustings video / Economic debate

Hi all,

Brief updates this time, as things are hectic! As the election campaign enters its final 10 days, the news from the Mediterranean and Nepal is so awful that it reminds us just how lucky we are in many ways. So I’d like, as a change from election material, to start with a non-partisan suggestion that I raised at the Beeston Express hustings:

  1. The Mediterranean crisis: a proposal

The influx of desperate refugees trying to cross from Libya to Italy is primarily a result of the civil war in Libya. This followed Western intervention to topple the previous regime, which I opposed at the time: that’s not the primary issue now, but it does mean that we share some responsibility. How are we to prevent tens of thousands more deaths as people take any risk to try to escape the carnage – bearing in mind that the EU can’t really absorb the whole civilian population, but if we force the refugees back we are sending many to die?

This seems to me an example of how the EU can collectively make a real difference. First, as already agreed, the EU should collectively help Italy rescue shipwrecked refugees and intercept the smuggling vessels. But that’s just an emergency fix. Beyond that, why don’t we propose to the more stable North African countries such as Tunisia that the EU will finance good-quality refugee camps in their countries to provide an alternative for people fleeing the civil war until the conflict is over, and transport refugees to safety there? This would be a good use of EU overseas aid money: it would save countless lives, frustrate the smugglers, prevent a massive influx that Italy can’t handle, provide Tunisia with an additional source of income to reward their stability, and avoid creating a permanent anomaly, since the refugees would be asked to return to Libya once the conflict ends.

  1. The Green-Labour vote swapping site

I mentioned previously that the Green/Labour vote-swapping site voteswap.org was recommending Green voters to support me in Broxtowe, in return for an equal number of Labour voters in safe seats voting Green: their idea is that it enables people to maximise the Green message nationally without preventing Labour from winning Tory seats. I’ve been asked to point out that this isn’t an official party initiative, and that’s right – the official Labour position is that everyone should vote Labour everywhere, and the official Green position is that everyone should vote Green everywhere. It’s just a solution for people who (a) like the general Green message but (b) want to see Labour win in Broxtowe.

  1. Video of hustings from Notts TV

If you’ve not been able to attend any of the hustings events so far, you may like to see the one hosted by Notts TV this week: http://nottstv.com/programmes/channel-8-debate/ . Anna Soubry declined to attend this one, like the previous events hosted by the Beeston Express and the education debate, but we covered a wide variety of issues, and I hope you find it interesting.

The final hustings will be held tomorrow Monday 27th at Holy Trinity Church, Kimberley from 7 to 9, and Wednesday 29th at St Helens Church, Frederick Hall, Stapleford, from 630 to 830.

  1. Non-partisan report on Broxtowe

The closeness of the election is producing lots of coverage in media of what we’re doing. A scrupulously neutral overview is on the website of the independent project looking at 50 marginals: http://50for15.com/2015/04/25/broxtowe-con-lab-marginal/

  1. What about a sensible economic debate?

I continue to think that the media coverage of the national election campaign is largely trivial. Who cares whether David Cameron can’t remember which football club he supports? A commentator on the non-party website politicalbetting.com put the apparent position pungently:

I think our woeful productivity levels and failure to invest in innovation is going to cause us awful problems in a few years time. The balance of payments is dreadful, but nobody seems to care. The level of personal debt is one of the worst in the OECD, but that’s probably mainly because of the insane house price/mortgage situation. Kids still leave school unable to read or write. Worrying about social care in old age is terrifying many people. We don’t invest in energy generation enough.

On a wider level, we are trashing the environment and using resources with no regard to future generations.

But, hey, what the hell, why don’t we all discuss whether the personal tax allowance will go to £12,000 or £12,500.

I sympathise with him. I set out my own views on this in:

http://www.nickpalmer.org.uk/personal-manifesto-part-i-is-britain-viable/

http://www.nickpalmer.org.uk/personal-manifesto-part-2-training-immigration-and-a-proposal/

There has been very little local debate on these ideas, but if I’m elected on Thursday week to what looks likely to be a hung Parliament, they are going to be priorities for me.

Best wishes,

Nick

 

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My case in 6 short points

Nick PalmerHi all,

I understand there has been a huge surge of interest in the final days of electoral registration, and postal votes are now pouring in for the closest race in Broxtowe’s history. I’ve written tens of thousands of words in recent months on different policies. But the reasons I’d like to ask for your support come down to these:

 

 

  • The country needs change to a government which balances responsibility with genuine concern for ordinary people. As a progressive idealist from a practical business background, I should like to contribute to making it a success.
  • The current Government’s priorities are wrong for Britain and wrong for Broxtowe. From subsidies to gut the housing association sector to tax benefits for millionaire homes, there is no sense that their priorities reflect most people’s concerns, and Broxtowe has had the worst cut in Government support in the whole of Britain.
  • Every one of us will one day need the NHS and the care system, yet the system is being allowed to slide down into a semi-privatised mess with spiralling waiting times. We need to provide better care services in Beeston, Stapleford, Kimberley and the surrounding areas: it is dangerous to pile more pressure onto the QMC.
  • My other priorities locally are: high-quality education, adequate policing, local funding to allow roads and local services to be protected and a dynamic commitment to building a thriving community after the end of the tram works.
  • I have fought for people in Broxtowe for the last 18 years: there isn’t a road in the constituency that I haven’t walked. I know our community and its needs, and protecting and enhancing it will be my primary goal.
  • I want to bring back positive, constructive politics. If the Parliament has no overall majority, MPs who are willing to work across party will be needed. Let’s set an example to be proud of.

Positive politics in Broxtowe again. Please help me deliver it with your vote.

Thank you.

Nick

 

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The “Time to Care” policy/ More hustings galore! / What about Scotland?

PosterHi all,

  1. Postal voting and proxy voting

The election is now halfway over and those of you who have postal votes will receive them this week. Please send your votes in quickly if so – research shows that 80% of postal voters do vote, but that those who don’t vote in the first couple of days tend not to vote at all, as the papers disappear, possibly eaten by the dog!

Note that if you’d have liked a postal vote, it is now too late for that but still possible to get a proxy vote until April 28 – this means that you assign your vote to a trusted person to vote as you wish. Details are here: http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=599 .

  1. Hustings galore! (continued)

The next hustings are tomorrow Wednesday, on the subject of education. This one is at Chilwell School at 6.30pm to 815. Ms Soubry has decided not to attend this one.

The next day, it’s the turn of the Beeston Express hustings, one of the largest last time. That one is at College House Junior School in the school hall, from 6.30 to 8.30. Ms Soubry isn’t attending that one either, following her dissatisfaction with the previous Beeston debate last week, in which she felt the selection of questions was biased.

On Friday, Notts TV has a Broxtowe debate, which will be broadcast in the evening at 6.30. I’m not sure who else is going to that one.

Next Monday 27th, it’s Kimberley’s turn, with the hustings I mentioned last time at Holy Trinty Church in Eastwood Road, from 7pm to 9pm (apologies for saying the 27th was a Thursday).

I felt that the obvious gap was Stapleford and asked that a final event be held there, and this will now happen on Wednesday 29th, at St Helens Church in Frederick Road from 630 to 830.

  1. The “Time to Care” policy

The election campaign so far hasn’t really focused on a very positive agenda: the press seem preoccupied with weighing up leader performances as though we were in a talent show and with a variety of scare stories. So I wanted to write a bit about one of the most positive parts of Labour’s agenda, the “Time to Care” concept.

Briefly, the proposal is to use the Mansion Tax, a cigarette company levy and a crackdown on tax evasion to create a “Time to Care” fund of £2.5 billion/year. This is partly to pay for the training of new doctors and nurses, but it’s also to develop NHs home care with 5000 new full-time NHS care staff. Together with the abolition of zero-hours contracts and the 15-minute limit on home visits by care workers, the idea is to make care at home both better and more consistent. At present, care is often delivered only by varying agency staff, paid at minimal rates, required to rush through every visit and often varying from one visit to the next. The result is that the inadequate home care fails to pick up warning signs and patients deteriorate to the point that they have to be rushed into A&E, where they encounter long waits and overworked staff struggling to cope. It’s both kinder and cheaper to treat them at home before the problems become acute.

I’m proud of this policy, and look forward to helping implement it.

  1. What about Scotland?

The Conservative media are enthusiastically promoting a suggestion by the Conservatives that a Labour government would be enslaved by the SNP, which would force us to do terrible left-wing things.

There is a certain irony in this, since if the argument is that Labour won’t have enough MPs to govern alone, then the answer is to elect more Labour MPs, which is presumably not what the Sun and Daily Telegraph have in mind. However, there may well be a hung Parliament with a minority government which governs with support from different parties, according to the issue.

In that situation, Labour needs to govern for Britain as a whole, and invite other parties to support policies that they accepted. There will be no coalition with the SNP or (as some have suggested) a “grand coalition” with the Conservatives, though I can imagine a Lab-LibDem coalition if the numbers made this sensible. The SNP do not have a strong negotiating position even if they win lots of Scottish seats, since they are committed not to support the Conservatives.

While it’s important to reject any kind of pressure tactics by the SNP, I don’t think we should be completely indifferent to Scotland: if there’s a reasonable proposal to help them with, for instance, regeneration of industry, we should look at it on its merits. We shouldn’t be indifferent to the fact that 45% of Scots actually wanted to leave Britain, so there’s clearly something to be tackled, and that will apply even if the SNP turn out not to win many seats after all.

At a personal level, I think a hung parliament is going to need MPs who are open to cooperation across parties and don’t see politics as a blood sport. I’ve tried to work across party throughout my career, and hope to contribute to making sensible cooperation with all parties work.

In the end, we are one society and we all lose when we do nothing but squabble.

Best wishes

Nick

 

 

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Hustings galore/ New endorsements/ Borough elections/ Help save buses/ Walk-in centres

Hi all,

Lots to report! First, many thanks to the gigantic crowd that came to the first Beeston hustings event at the Parish Church, where five of the candidates debated a wide range of issues for two hours. Many thanks to the team who arranged it and the neutral chair. Anna Soubry’s only post-event comment was a tweet that it “wasn’t very balanced” – personally I think it was fair and balanced all round, and I’d very much like to thank everyone of all political views who took the evening to attend and stayed without a single departure till the very end.

Endorsements

The campaign is continuing to spread to supporters of the other parties. Following the earlier endorsements by long-standing Conservative Dorothy Davis and George and Meg Oliver, who have been equally long-standing LibDems, I’ve now had the support of the Green vote-swapping site http://voteswap.org/seat/i65849. They say of Broxtowe: “We suggest you vote Labour here and if you are a Green supporter swap your vote with a Labour supporter willing to vote Green elsewhere.”

I’m also delighted to have the backing of people who aren’t associated with any party at all. Sir Martyn Poliakoff wrote: “Since 2010, Nick has worked very hard, and largely in a non-partisan way, to help us address the many challenges facing our community in Broxtowe.  He deserves our thanks and support.” I hope to return Martyn’s support indirectly, by re-joining the Parliamentary group Scientists for Labour which I helped to found.

In turn, Nigel Adams, who will be familiar throughout church circles in Beeston and Chilwell as a very effective charity Director, writes in a personal capacity:

“The last five years of government has been brutal upon those who struggle most. Welfare has become a political weapon rather than society’s way of support and help up for those who need it most. We have seen redundancy, disability and illness treated with contempt rather than compassion. Labour has always led the way in tackling disadvantage and poverty, we need to see a return to this kind of leadership for a society that values fairness and kindness above profit for the few.

 “We also need to see MPs who are willing to speak independently for their constituency and for wise and just policy making. Nick Palmer has demonstrated previously that he does not just toe the party line, but he listens to his constituents, to all sides of the argument and acts accordingly.”

I’m proud to be part of this spreading team of people who favour positive, progressive politics. As always, I’m not too bothered exactly what label people choose, if we can work together for the world around us.

The Borough Council elections

We now have the full candidate lists, which you can find here: http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5240  Labour is the only party to file a full list of Borough candidates in Broxtowe. There are fewer Conservatives than seats in both Kimberley and Stapleford, traditionally weak areas for the party, and there are numerous gaps for LIbDems (who have disappeared from two of the three Stapleford wards), UKIP and Greens. The new Stapleford Alliance is contesting seats in parts of the town, as well as Independents Richard Macrae in Stapleford North and Paul Nathanail in Bramcote. Candidates for the town and parish councils are less politicised and no party is standing everywhere. These little councils are often the focus of controversy, but it’s worth acknowledging that people who stand for them are offering to do an entirely voluntary role for the community (yes, their salaries are £0). All of these wil be counted the day after the General Election. Notts TV has already asked me if I fancy being on their Friday afternoon programme to comment on the results as a potential MP – I’ve told them that I don’t count chickens and to ask me again on the Friday morning!

More hustings 

In a rare moment of unanimity, Anna Soubry, David Kirwan and I all agreed that a hustings in the north of the borough was desirable, since the others announced so far have been in Beeston and Chilwell (where the Express will hold the next one on the 23rd at College House). This has now been agreed to take place at the Holy Trinity Church on Thursday the 27th from 7 to 9. To round things off, I’m hoping to get a final hustings in Stapleford, which should not be left out either: I’m sure all the candidates would welcome an invitation from any group not themselves involved in politics – perhaps one of the churches?

Two bus campaigns

A number of issues are coming up during the campaign which need cross-party support. Two important ones are campaigns to protect bus services in Beeston, the 18 from Rylands to the QMC and Canning Circus and the Y36 down Wollaton Road.

Please see

http://tinyurl.com/trentbus and http://tinyurl.com/northbeeston

Trent Barton are rethinking their earlier suggestion that they might cancel the 18 route from the Rylands into Nottingham and, if they don’t, Yourbus are interested.

Meanwhile Yourbus are open to suggestions on the Y36 (the petition doesn’t insist on exactly the current solution).

The tram interchange in Beeston makes most sense if there are a number of buses leading into the centre from other parts of Beeston – people can then do some local shopping and then if they wish take the tram into town.

I’m also starting to get requests which can’t deal with during the campaign. Most of these are personal, but one of general interest is this:

 Walk-in centres

Another suggestion, from constituent Brian Selwood, is that as part of the effort to relieve the enormous pressure on the QMC A&E, we should look at reopening the walk-in centre in Stapleford and another one in the north of the borough. The Stapleford centre wasn’t closed for lack of interest, but because it was felt that the QMC could easily cover the demand – which it clearly cannot. This fits well with the general Labour objective of moving care out of the hospitals where possible – do others feel this would be helpful and practical?

Best wishes

Nick

 

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Campaign shop opens/petition launched/the NHS crisis/What is a non-dom?

Broxtowe Labour shopHi all,

The campaign is now in full swing, with a novelty: in addition to the traditional Labour base in Attenborough, I’ve opened a Beeston shop with my Broxtowe Labour colleagues for the campaign, at 3 City Road (just off the High Road by Poppa Pizza, who I predict will be doing rather well out of hungry campaigners). You can pick up posters, car stickers and other campaign materials there or volunteer to help out with the campaign – just look in, as it’ll be open all day most days! I’m on doorsteps for up to 7 hours a day now, but will visit the shop every day if you want to leave a message for me.

Another development is a petition by the Beestonia blog to all Parliamentary candidates, calling on us to press for a review of Broxtowe’s astonishing financial settlement (the worst in Britain, costing us £800,000/year). I’ve signed, and you can reinforce it yourself if you want to: see

https://beestonia.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/message-to-our-future-mp-reverse-the-uks-worst-local-government-cuts/

What of this week’s policy debates?

 

The NHS crisis

You may have seen the furore over the letter by 100 senior doctors in which they say that the NHS is “withering away”:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/07/senior-doctors-assess-governments-record-on-nhs-letter-in-full

Amid all the point-scoring of the election, it’s worth picking out the key points that show how the service is actually sliding into the abyss:

* A&E has had its worst quarterly performance for the last decade.

* NHS temporary staff have risen 27% in a single year.

* 50% more people are waiting over 18 weeks than in 2010

* The government’s own cancer targets have been missed for the fifth successive quarter

* 80% of acute hospitals are in deficit compared to 1% in 2010

Some of this is about lack of funding, with money being siphoned off in the ideological drive to privatisation, as the doctors observe in their letter. Some is technical – acute trusts suffer from the way the funding formula works. And some is simply short-termism. It is much more expensive to employ temporary staff, as well as less efficient (because with permanent staff you can develop their skills and experience systematically), but so many Trusts are living from hand to mouth that they can’t afford to commit to the staff they need, and instead bring in temporary staff in emergency situations.

Can all this be magicked away overnight? No. But it’s the only area where Labour is proposing significant funding reinforcement, and without attention to the crisis, the service will continue to wither away. Please look at the Conservative leaflets that I’m sure you’ve received. They discuss numerous subjects, but they are totally silent on the NHS. either they don’t see a problem, or they don’t have an answer.

The answer, as I’ve argued before, is both to stabilise the staff situation by engaging more permanent doctors and nurses, as well as to strengthen the care side of the equation, so that fewer patients need to be rushed into hospital as their conditions become critical. i’ve written about it in much more detail here:

http://www.nickpalmer.org.uk/personal-manifesto-part-3-the-nhs-crisis-and-how-to-tackle-it/

 

What is a non-dom?

I’m not sure that most people have fully understood what a non-dom actually is, so the current debate may be bewildering. A brief explanation:

Most of us living in Britain pay income tax on our total income, even if it’s partly earned abroad. For example, I do translation work for agencies in Spain and elsewhere; I report the earnings to HMRC, and pay 40% tax. The only way anyone can normally avoid this is if they actually live abroad more than half the year, in which case they pay tax wherever it is that they live.

Some people on high income want to pay the low rates of tax in places like Luxembourg. However, they don’t necessarily actually want to live there – they want to live somewhere with excellent business connections, like London. The non-dom arrangement allows them to have it both ways, paying a relatively small flat fee and declaring that they feel attached to Luxembourg, even if they are 365 days a year in Britain and even if their income, boosted by those London connections, is in the multi-millions of pounds. The arrangement can last up to 20 years.

This is peculiar – illustrated by the fact that we are the only developed country that allows it. As Richard Bacon, the leading Conservative MP on the Public Accounts Committee pungently said last year, “You can easily spend 80% to 100% of your time in the UK because you are resident here, and yet be a non-dom for tax purposes. No wonder people are pissed off.”

There’s no point in our denouncing tax havens if we operate as a tax haven ourselves. If people live in Britain, it’s reasonable to ask them to pay British taxes. We don’t want to deter people from coming to Britain for a specific project, such as a postgraduate degree, so the Labour proposal is to restrict the arrangement to genuinely short-term visits of 2-3 years.

Is this being anti-rich, as the Conservatives now suggest? No – any more than the USA, Canada or Germany are anti-rich by having the same approach. Would it make people move abroad, so we lost out on even those modest flat fees? Not unless they really do decide they’d prefer to live in Luxembourg and miss out on the business connections in the City.

Note that this has nothing to do with increasing taxation on wealthy people. It’s simply asking all medium-term British residents to pay tax on the same basis as the rest of us. Why do Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne object to that?

Best regards,

 

Nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

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