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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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/
- 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:
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.