Tag Archives: Nick Clegg

In the end it was the Brexit election, but not the one I expected

Well, I was wrong about two things at this election. I think a lot of us were. The first was the absence of a Tory majority, the second the absence of a Lib Dem fight back, which I wrongly predicted a couple of months ago at this blog. But yesterday morning told a fascinating tale nonetheless.

On April 19th, upon hearing Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap General Election, I wrote the following:

“This decision was fundamentally, and shrewdly, party political. But it could turn into a whole lot more than that. Since Brexit is now the hallmark of British politics, I expect the upcoming campaign to be a proxy; a second referendum of sorts.”

I think have been proved more or less correct by this statement, though not in the way that I expected. Before Thursday, and like most in the country, I predicted the securing of a comfortable Tory majority. I felt that Mrs May, hopeless as she is, had done just enough to remind Leave voters of what they voted for on June 23rd last year.

I thought that in appealing to the sensibilities of Brexit voters, especially with phrases like ‘respect the will of the British people’, the Conservative Party would enhance its electoral stronghold in Westminster and would win yet another General Election. How wrong and naive I was to the consequences of a poorly-organised political campaign.

It is true that the Tories managed 43 percent of the vote share, but voters ‘returning home’ made gaining a majority more difficult. After the shock of last summer, when support for parties was vastly more dispersed, voters thought it was safe to return to their traditional red and blue corners.

I thought that UKIP voters would rally behind Theresa May as she led the campaign for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’. This proved not to be the case, as I should have anticipated. I remember when I was a member of UKIP how many former Labour voters sat in local and regional party meetings. I knew that for UKIP, a Leave vote in the EU referendum was their self-destruct button, but I underestimated the ensuing flow of voters who returned to Labour. Perhaps many of them now have an understandable and instinctive mistrust of the Tory Party.

But this election did espouse many undertones of the referendum, which I now feel was a mistake (more on this soon). As results emerged, it became clear that many of the Remain-supporting pockets of the country had used the Labour Party as a means of diluting Brexit. In this sense, I would exercise caution over the notion that Corbynism has entirely hollowed Blairism out of Labour or its voter base.

Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise scooping of 262 seats, an increase of 30 on the total that his predecessor managed, reflected a number of different factors, but his desire to prioritise, for instance, membership of the single market over immigration and a Brexit focused on protecting consumer and worker rights will have appealed to many of the country’s supporters of EU membership.

These trends were noticeable mostly in England, where politics seems to be more tribal on the issue of the European Union. In Scotland, I was pleased to see, the Nationalists took the heavy hits I predicted and the colours on the electoral map are mixed once again. Ruth Davison deserves enormous credit for helping to turn nationalistic tides and reinvigorate support for the union. She has also shrewdly positioned herself as a potential future leader of the Conservative Party.

Mrs Sturgeon, on the other hand, whose position as leader of the SNP is becoming increasingly untenable, failed in her efforts to retain seats largely because Scottish voters are tired of her drive for independence, which was always a fake given her support for EU membership and which was rightly rejected in 2014. I also suspect that Scots saw her insistence on keeping Scotland out of Brexit as a constitutional danger and a cause of yet more political instability.

As the election campaign got under way, I had convinced myself (I now realise stupidly) that the Liberal Democrats would prove to be a significant force. But their night was surprisingly underwhelming. Even prominent figures like Nick Clegg lost seats, and in many seats the party failed to garner even 1,000 votes. This is perhaps a good example of a lack of translation between membership surges and votes.

Had the Lib Dems ditched plans to offer a second referendum, which would ransack the population of its faith in and enthusiasm for politics, and instead fought loudly and clearly for an exit centred around keeping Britain in the single market, they would indeed have gained more than 12 seats at this election. All we are missing now is a party that advocates holding a referendum on whether we should have a second referendum. Don’t hold your breath.

Remain voters quite clearly had their say at this election. Most shocking was the Tory-Labour switch in Kensington. I think our departure from the European Union has been compromised and cannot bring myself to trust Theresa May to negotiate our exit. And the price we pay at home? A minority government doomed to failure and backed up by the DUP. There is no other way to see it. This is a national embarrassment.


The right to smoke does not equal the right to vote

It is striking to me that Theresa May has said something so straightforwardly sensible in reaffirming her wish for the voting age to remain at 18. I had always been under the impression that, given the dwindling interest in voting and sharp decline in participation over the years, politicians would be looking to 16 and 17 year olds to help beef up turnout by now.

She needn’t have bothered trying to rally the youth ahead of this election. Mrs May doesn’t exactly possess the charm that Nick Clegg displayed in attracting the youth vote during the 2010 General Election campaign, when he promised to scrap tuition fees upon getting into government.

The Tories would have just as much success rebranding themselves as the British Communist Party. Young people consistently show Left wing, liberal biases, and remain far more at home in the Labour Party or Liberal Democrats, at least until they enter the world of work and become taxpaying citizens.

I do enjoy the usual string of arguments deployed by those in favour of lowering the voting age. Especially humorous is the idea that because 16 and 17 year olds can smoke or drive they ought to be offered the vote in order to align rights with responsibilities.

Smoking and driving do not have anywhere near the impact upon public policy that voting can have, and 16 and 17 years by and large do not have the wisdom or knowledge that older voters do. Many will vote according to their parents’ biases, and not on the backs of independent thought or comparison.

It is at least a reminder that we don’t really have any coherent societal position on what exactly our ‘rights’ are. Of course, I appreciate the nuances in this argument. A 17 year old who turns 18 in July of this year might contend that he or she doesn’t lack the wisdom or knowledge of somebody a month older, and that person would probably be right.

But we need to draw lines somewhere. If we extend this argument, we can quite reasonably ask why 15 year olds ought not to be given the vote straight afterwards. It is a bottomless pit that creates nothing but problems and is never forwarded consistently.

The Prime Minister is, though, right when she claims that there are plenty of other ways to become active in politics, though the examples she gave (youth parliaments and councillors) were horrendously uninspiring. I myself used the lure of the summer’s referendum to do so, and with great personal benefits.

Most democratisation has absolutely nothing to do with government. It is arguably the workplace that is in most need of a little more democracy, since that is where adults spend most of their daily lives. I have been encouraged, for instance, by the slow growth in worker owned cooperatives in tiny pockets of the west.

Germany and Denmark operate thousands of successful, communal energy cooperatives, with many able to invest in renewable sources without the clouds of political forces hanging over their heads. A large network of worker owned enterprises has shielded Mondragon, in Spain’s Basque region, from the worst of the country’s economic hardship.

The vote often achieves very little in the way of democratisation. This is particularly so when a largely uncaring base are offered it. On the 11th November 2016, Darragh O’Reilly, a Northern Irish member of the UK’s Youth Parliament, laughably claimed in a parliamentary sitting:

“I tell you this: votes at 16 is no one-trick pony. It is nothing short of handing young people the freedom to achieve freedom. The freedom actually to fund the NHS. The freedom actually to have a decent transport system. The freedom to tackle racism.”

His statement was an enjoyable soundbite and I admire his genuine passion, but his view is baseless and most his age simply aren’t politically enfranchised. And of course no emotive political statement would be complete without a reference to the National Health Service.

Just like most other proponents of lowering the voting age, he dressed up its importance to be something other than what it actually is: a gimmick. If a genuine campaign were to emerge proposing to allow 16 and 17 year olds in the Armed Forces alone the vote, then I would be much more interested (and likely to agree).

Until then, Theresa May is correct to ensure that the voting age stays where it is. Britain is a one-party state and appears to have entered its second era of Tory dominance in the past forty years.

And 16 year olds aren’t about to change that.

Reflections on railway renationalisation and a Tory Brexit

My apologies, firstly, to readers for the general inactivity at the blog since the middle of April. This has been down to juggling work at a new job and the completion of my journalism dissertation, which I submitted on Thursday evening.

My hope is to achieve the 2.1 that will allow me to continue my studies into Masters level, with my eyes currently set upon an MSc at Royal Holloway in ‘Campaigns, Elections and Democracy’. I should now hope to return here frequently for the foreseeable future.

In my absence, this year’s General Election has gotten under way. A portion of the Labour Party’s manifesto has been leaked, and thanks to pledges to renationalise the railways, Royal Mail and energy sector, has been described as taking the UK ‘back to the 1970s’.

It may be worth remembering for a moment that Germany, a modern and well-run country, operates nationalised rail and worker-run energy co-operatives. Northern Ireland, too, (incidentally a part of the UK) retains public control of its rail system.

For the record, I don’t support renationalising Britain’s energy sector, but local, energy co-operatives, similar to those that exist on the continent do not sound like such a bad idea. I do admit to succumbing to the appeal of democratic ownership of utilities and co-operative privatisation (worker control of industry) of Royal Mail may be popular amongst postmen and women.

As far as our railways go, the ongoing debate around public and private ownership would seem to me to be a secondary issue. The primary issue is upgrading infrastructure and investment, and cancelling the vast amounts of money we seem keen to spend on vanity projects like HS2, which stands only to increase London’s workforce and damage the rural environment of the midlands. Any strong government ought to, by now, have scrapped such madness.

Britain’s rail infrastructure is predominantly Victorian and not entirely electrified, much to our national embarrassment. The billions put aside for HS2 should be re-directed towards modernising track and signalling, and towards investing in more medium-speed, medium-distance inter-city railway lines. London is too often used as a connecting city for long-distance travellers making their way across the country (and often finding themselves paying extortionate amounts).

The question of who owns rail services is made less important still by the fact that there need not be one single system of ownership, as demonstrated by the state operating of the East Coast mainline until March 2015. Britain’s rail system is not only franchised, it is regionalised, which means that, with very few exceptions, services are all co-ordinated independently of one another. The state can retain ownership of some lines whilst allowing for others to be run privately, depending on factors like performance and quality of service.

Immediate renationalisation would not make the running of rail services particularly cheap. As I have said, it is the cost of maintaining infrastructure, due to its age, that sets the cost of British rail travel above that of the rest of the continent. Upgrades to infrastructure ought to be at the centre of any debate about Britain’s railways and present a far more pressing concern than discussions over ownership.

I will not vote for the Labour Party on June 8th, but the aforementioned leaked manifesto content doesn’t look to me as if it will take us back forty years. This is merely dishonest Tory propaganda, no doubt aided by the incompetence of figures like Diane Abbott, who do nothing but discredit the Left and its labour movement.

Meanwhile, the Tories sit firmly in the driver’s seat of this election. They are rightly standing on a platform of seeing out the Brexit process, but of course, they are doing it for the wrong reasons. Many of them do not support out withdrawal from the European Union and thoroughly resent last summer’s referendum result. My vote for them in June (if I bother or indeed remember) will be more out of obligation than anything else.

I am at least glad that the Liberal Democrat leader this time around is Tim Farron, and not a young and fresh Nick Clegg, who managed to sweet talk the country into voting for him seven years ago. Thanks to Farron’s confusing position as leader of a party with which he has profound moral disagreements, the Lib Dems are not quite the force they could be.

Knowing that I was an adamant leaver, some readers might think that I am relieved the Tories are in poll position to win this General Election. This is not quite so. Something about the party’s (and indeed the Prime Minister’s) track record over the European question is cause for concern in my mind.

A couple of days ago, David Cameron made a comment that sparked some degree of doubt in my mind. He said that Mrs May needs a big majority so that she can “stand up to the people who want an extreme Brexit, either here or in Brussels.” It is a shame that UKIP can no longer muster the strength that it did back in 2014.

UKIP formed the ideal barricade against sentiments of this kind within the Conservative Party. There are many who call themselves conservatives, despite their continued existence that Britain should not govern itself and control its own affairs, who are fanatically supportive of the European project and of ceding parliamentary sovereignty.

When these people (Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke, Nicky Morgan and George Osborne to name a few others) use the expression ‘extreme Brexit’, they demonise the reasonable belief held by large sects of the country, including especially much of the Tory grassroots, that the United Kingdom should control its own trade, borders, lawmaking and judicial process, no matter the difficulties which undoubtedly lie ahead.

Mr Cameron’s comments reminded me that placing complete trust in the Tories and giving them a free hand over such an important issue might not be advisable after all. We’ve heard ‘Theresa May’s hard Brexit’ quite a lot in recent months, but increasingly my fear is that when it is all said and done, Britain will no longer be halfway in the EU. Instead, she may find herself perching halfway out in what will look like an especially embarrassing position.

Politicians continue their hypocritical assault on grammar schools

An astonishing article written by the former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour MP for Manchester Central Lucy Powell, has appeared here https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/19/help-poorer-pupils-selection-social-mobility-education-brexit-grammar-schools in today’s ‘Observer’, thoroughly condemning plans to expand upon the tiny rump of besieged grammar schools in Britain.

Somebody should remind them that that number is a meagre 163, and since legislation introduced by Tony Blair in 1998, namely Labour’s School Standards and Framework Act, it has been illegal to open any new grammars in Britain (note that I do not include Northern Ireland in these figures). A quick history, too, on the figures for readers who are interested.

The Education Act of 1944 fundamentally reformed the organisation and availability of secondary school education in Britain. Prior to the introduction of the Act, which made state secondary education free, children over the age of 14 had to pay fees in order to continue their studies. The national system was then spliced primarily into two tiers: grammars for the more academically gifted and secondary moderns for those not considered so. There were also technical schools established for children who showcased particular skill in specific subject areas but not enough overall to go to grammars. Very few such schools were set up. The number of grammar schools in Britain then rose substantially, until in 1965 there were 1299.

Then, in 1965, the government (which comprised of Leftist egalitarians, many of whom benefited from selective education, such as Harold Wilson, then Prime Minister) ordered local authorities to cease opening new grammars and phase in new schools, called comprehensives, to replace grammars. The number of grammars began to plummet, reaching just 300 by 1978 and now stands at just over 160.

But back to today’s article.

The three politicians who penned the piece seem frustrated by present levels of selection within the British education system. “Times have moved on”, they write. “Expanding selection isn’t part of the answer to tackling social mobility.” I think this is odd, given how few officially selective schools are left. There must be more to selection within education in Britain than just grammars. And there is. The country’s best comprehensive schools, not available to children whose parents do not live in upper class catchment areas, are also highly selective. Important research recently conducted by the respected education charity ‘The Sutton Trust’ concluded that:

The top performing 500 comprehensive schools in England, based on GCSE attainment, continue to be highly socially selective, taking just 9.4% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), just over half the rate of the average comprehensive (17.2%)”

…and that:

“Living in the catchment area of a top comprehensive school is associated with a house price ‘premium’ of around 20%. A typical house in the catchment area of a top 500 school costs £45,700 more than the average house in the same local authority. The best schools measured using Progress 8 are associated with a much lower premium of 8.3%, or £18,200.”

So, grammars are not necessarily the essence of the problem. But Ms Powell, Ms Morgan and Mr Clegg fail to point this out in their article, which, they claim, concerns an issue that should be above party politics. I wonder if they think that just because otherwise partisan politicians agree on an issue that what they say is definitively correct. Their position would be far more consistent and carry much more weight if they would collectively condemn the copious amounts of selection engaged in by other schools. Those kinds of schools, perhaps, that have been actively imposed upon children by modern generations of politicians.

A huge issue to note, and highlighted by the aforementioned quotation, is the problem of selection by house price, which stands today as the main arbiter of educational selection for parents and their children. I ask the egalitarians so mightily outraged by the prospect of more grammars why they favour a system that espouses selection by wealth rather than selection based upon academic results. And don’t give me any more nonsense about the 11 plus. I don’t much like the 11 plus either, but I will at least recognise that other systems exist which could provide a much more adequate alternative to these silly tests. In Germany, for instance, a format of co-determination continues to operate in which parents and teachers sit down and mutually assess the possibility that a given child will benefit from streamed academic selection.

The article continues, with another extraordinary claim. “Now is not the time for more division or political ideology in education.” I tend to agree. So why not offer a system that will prove an effective buffer against the now overwhelming dominance of those lucky enough to attend private schools? Since comprehensives have clearly failed in this regard, apart from the aforementioned crop that perform extremely well that, chances are, your children will not get into, why not try to bridge the so-called ‘division’ of the current climate of education. The real divide, of course, stands between those kids rich enough to attend private schools and those who do not have such a luxury.

And as far as ideology goes, the most impactful and ideological change in education in the UK has been the 1960s-led comprehensive experiment, that left many poorer children in areas without a reachable grammar school (particularly in the north of England, since grammars can now be found circulated in middle class conurbations in Kent and Buckinghamshire) at the mercy of an inferior quality of schooling.

Egalitarianism has infested British schools at every level, threatening standards and discouraging success. Prizes and certificates are now given to all students, regardless of the extent of their achievement, and no longer do teachers recognise difference between passing and failing the 11 plus. If children are told that, no matter their efforts, they will succeed, they are indoctrinated with messages that disincentivize the pursuit of excellence. This culture has a profound impact on children, who as a result of their surroundings, become too comfortable and forget the value of hard work.

I have been relatively lucky. I was a disadvantaged pupil at school by government recommendations and found myself benefitting from the Free School Meals system. I only mention this because it is often used as a metric for how many poorer students attend particular types of school. I went to Erith School, in North West Kent and South East London, officially a bilateral school offering two tiers of education: selective (that included me) and non-selective. Some subjects did not acknowledge the divide and grouped children together regardless of academic ability.

Though I cannot count personal experience as anything other than subjective anecdote, I was quite clear that in classes selected on academic merit, there was a noticeably stronger urgency for learning and an atmosphere of encouraging others and welcoming progress. In non-selective environments, academic achievement is routinely mocked and those children less academically able to grasp subject matter may find themselves distracted or holding those in front of them back, contrary to the claim made that “having the brightest children in comprehensive schools helps raise standards for all, increasing aspiration and intellectual capital in a school.” My view has always been that cleverer kids are far more likely to become frustrated by lower standards around them than ever they are incentivized to help.

So, this newly-established campaign, just one of many created by establishment politicians who are dismissive of the merits that come with academic selection (despite often being beneficiaries of it themselves), is just another example of how divide and ideology have come to stand as the pillars of British education. Those political figures who deride grammars as being instruments of these characteristics aren’t even bothering to look at the flaws in their own proposals.

Quite how anybody can stomach it is beyond me.


Article 50: 498-114 doesn’t tell the whole story

I find myself wondering what the result of yesterday’s parliamentary vote would have been had it been conducted on the basis of conscience or private opinion. Most certainly not 498-114, and there would not have been so many abstentions, either. Thankfully, the rare occasions on which we exercise direct democracy, which more easily illustrate the national mood, (the kind provided more easily by referenda than by elections) anchor our representatives more forcefully to respecting public judgement.

I usually like the debates surrounding big issues in the House of Commons. They tend to bring out the best and the passion in MPs, who by and large do care about things. One only has to go back and watch the day of the gay marriage bill to gain an understanding of the best of British politics, and I’m not referring necessarily to the result. But yesterday’s affair didn’t have the same sort of feel to it.

Parliament appeared tense, symbolised poignantly by row after row of gritted teeth and furrowed brows. MPs on both sides of the Commons, bitter in the fallout from a shocking referendum defeat, struggled to tap into any optimism, preferring instead to talk submissively about the importance of standing up for the democratic vote. George Osborne, arguably the biggest loser of last year’s EU vote, spoke of ‘provoking a constitutional crisis’ in the event of voting against the triggering of Article 50.

It is true that politicians ought to stick up for the values of democracy in times such as these, but what I found most peculiar about some of the speeches was the lack of enthusiasm for the new direction that the country has opted to head in. The chamber looked almost condescendingly anxious, with many of the MPs making up the 498 clearly too reluctant to praise the decision made by the electorate, or to welcome an exciting opportunity to re-establish Britain’s role in the world.

For the 114, it was the same old story. Nick Clegg tried his best not to take things personally,  channelling his blatant frustration into an irrelevant defence of the preferences of the majority of 18-24 year olds; the tiring implication being that elder generations stole the futures of the youth. I do not recognise this idea to be true, partially because I got to know many passionate youngsters who campaigned for Brexit during the referendum and partially because youth turnout is always notably low, or at least lower than it is among other age groups. Alex Salmond went as far as to call the triggering of Article 50 an ‘act of madness’, which, given his obsession with sovereignty, I couldn’t take all that seriously. A painstaking resentment was briefly interrupted by jibes aimed at Remain supporting MPs by an understandably jolly John Redwood, but for the most part, the debate lacked the energy that Westminster is renowned for.

But it was not just angst and disdain that characterised last night’s vote. It was also an opportunity to see quite clearly the depressing void that lies within Her Majesty’s opposition: a Labour Party still being eaten away at from the inside by Blairite residue and trying to decide whether it should stand by 70% of its constituencies and press ahead with European Union withdrawal. You would think that during such a significant period in British political history a major party would be able to pull itself together. It still amazes me that 94% of the parliamentary party backed Remain, despite profound differences now obvious with large swathes of its voter base.

Only the SNP, so hilariously brazen in their hypocrisy, managed to match Labour’s embarrassment. They defend Scottish independence and sovereignty in Westminster, they deride it in Brussels. They claim that, based on cross-border cooperation and commerce, it is in the national interest to work with other European Union member states, but they fail to apply the same argumentation to the issue of British union.  My gut instinct is that come the 2020 General Election (providing one isn’t called sooner), they will cease to be a serious political force. Even in the eyes of Scottish swing voters. In fact, more substantive change could take place in three years’ time than that. 114 MPs, at least open and honest in their disapproval of the public, rebelled against the national vote. Time will tell whether or not they are able to retain their constituency seats.

More than one hundred of Britain’s political representatives decided to ignore the legitimacy of the majority verdict in last night’s House of Commons vote. What truly shocks me is not the number of MPs who did this, but the number of MPs who didn’t.

Actually, Brexit campaigners aren’t ‘Little Englanders’

Of all the the ridiculous names we eurosceptics (a misleading word; I’m not sceptic about anything) have been called leading up to this referendum, only one has really bothered me: the ‘Little Englanders’ jibe. 

In the minds of our critics, our views are old-fashioned, antiquated and do not belong. We are of another era, where women stayed at home and homosexuality was illegal. According to those with whom we disagree (on this, rather vital EU question), we wish to turn the clock back, isolate Britain and turn inwards – ignoring the rest of the world.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Rather than turn our backs on global interconnection, we want to embrace it. Britain’s rapidly-expanding eurosceptic movement seeks an end to our EU-shackled failures and a more rigorous relationship with Asia, the Commonwealth and the Americas. We are ignoring countries with which we could enjoy very fruitful, mutual arrangements.

Thanks to the UK’s membership of the European Union, we are legally incapable of negotiating our own, bilateral or Free Trade agreements. For the world’s fifth largest economy to be restricted in such a way, as well as having no contributory seat at the World Trade Organisation seems to me to damage both Britain’s global influence and its economic prowess.

There is, however, an alternative.

By leaving the European Union, the British government regains control of its local supremacy. The word ‘influence’ has been thrown around quite a bit in the run up to our June referendum, without really meaning very much, but how can a country claim to have more influence in the world, if it seldom influences its own law-making?

Supporters of independence such as me see vast opportunities awaiting the United Kingdom post-EU membership. Let’s have the trade and cooperation necessary for a peaceful, stable Europe, but let us not forget our allies in Asia, such as Japan and India. By reclaiming control of national trade, which we don’t currently have, we can expand heavily upon our connections with the rest of the world, boost relations and maximise our role in international affairs.

The European Union, after all, doesn’t represent internationalism; it merely represents regionalism. As I wrote in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago, centralised decision-making inside the EU is beginning to sprout internal disputes and conflict between member states. This means that, thanks to the differing political interests of 28 EU members, it is becoming more and more of a battle for Britain to exert its internal influence.

But European Union operations aside, it is important to note that the UK works with other countries in over 100 multi-national institutions on issues such as foreign aid, military alignment and climate change. Britain plays a crucial role in organisations like the G7, Commonwealth and NATO, but what is intriguing in these instances is the absence of intrusive political union.

For countries to cooperate and trade with each other, political union is not necessary. Rather, it is quite rational to suggest that the United Kingdom would benefit from maintaining its existing international alliances, whilst controlling its own domestic affairs and determining its own place in the world – through trade and foreign policy. The idea that by revamping our relationship with our European neighbours, we ‘isolate’ (I never liked Nick Clegg) ourselves in the world is an absurd suggestion, and not one worthy of anybody who knows any history or politics.

You have to wonder how the world’s 167 self-governing nations get on without too much trouble.

But comparisons are beside the point. Britain is held back, both economically and geo-strategically, by EU membership. Did British people feel influential when their country was inadvertently dragged into the 2014 Ukraine mess? Do British people feel influential when unelected commissioners negotiate trade deals on their behalf, and often in secret?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted recently that he’d like to see a ‘strong UK in a strong EU’. Never mind that the statement is clearly an oxymoron, I wonder how American citizens and officials would react if their borders and law were determined in Mexico City, and their international trade in Ottowa.

Despite ‘influence’ being difficult to measure in objective fashion, I firmly believe that Britain’s role in world politics is expanded and magnified by independence. Sovereignty is something good men and women fought for over many years, and when harnessed well, can really maximise the UK’s global leadership.

We are told that continued EU membership will assist us in combating terrorism, climate change and catching criminals. It is a shame that misguided attitudes towards global warming, Interpol and the EU’s now glaring role in promoting Islamic terrorism seriously negate these arguments.

Upon regaining self-governance, Britain must and can rekindle old relationships and reassert its place in the international order. The UK is a nuclear power, the world’s fifth largest economy, a major exporter and a touristic powerhouse. We CAN do this.

With 50,000 EU regulations composing 65% of UK law, a Brexit couldn’t come any sooner

During last year’s BBC debate featuring both Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (which can be viewed here) on the issue of EU membership, the two argued over the extent to which EU law has impeded British law.

Various figures, ranging from 7 to 75%, were thrown around between the two gentleman and the public it seemed didn’t come close to answer. I am, therefore, pleased to have found concise and independent research on the issue of EU regulation, and some astonishing statistics have arisen.

The report, in full, can be viewed by clicking the link below. A 65% legal stronghold at the hands of the European Union seems to me to be persuasive evidence of the case I have been trying to make in recent months; that too much sovereignty has been hijacked from Westminster.