European Union (posted pre-2017)
So we have voted to leave the EU. People across the
country celebrate that all our problems are solved. The NHS will
have enough money, we will stop immigration and regain sovereignty
enabling us to throw out all these pathetic European rules and
regulations and return to our freedom.
This cannot be more wrong. With an economy as weak and
vulnerable as ours, with interest rates at 0.5% for 8 years, a
deficit that is nowhere near to being eliminated, huge amounts of
quantitative easing, a national debt that defies numeric ability to
keep up with it and an atmosphere of continuing and relentless
austerity, any further impact on it will prove to be very damaging
As we have depleted our own home-grown entrepreneurism,
investment and business generation, we have become dependent upon
inward investment from foreign enterprise to sustain jobs and keep
some wealth generation in this country. We already have the
challenge of much of this wealth being exported back to home
nations, but now we reduce their motivations to be here in the first
place. Will manufacturers such as Nissan and Toyota choose to
build their next model in the UK if it does not help gain access to
the European market?
This is a disaster for our country and all I can hope is that in
years to come the likes of Farage, Gove, Johnson, will be able to
stand up and accept responsibility for the consequences of it.
The latest is that Johnsn and Farage have stepped out of the way
to leave others to clear up the mess they have left. A truly
remarkable example of political cowardice.
Environment & Energy (posted pre-2017)
There should be no one now who does not accept the fact that
man-made factors are seriously impacting the environment. Specifically the
pollution of the atmosphere which is then affecting our weather systems,
in turn causing serious harm to people, flora and fauna all around the world.
It is no longer an issue of the impact of our need to use energy
to survive within our current social systems and with the vast
numbers of people populating this planet, but exactly what should
be done to resolve this potentially disastrous situation.
We have been subjected to any number of measures which we
enthusiastically embrace in our haste to do the right thing and to keep
our halos shining, but are we really doing anything of merit?
Are we really going to make any difference at all if we aim to carpet
the country with windmills and solar cells, or drive our cars everywhere
If we are to believe the scientists who have been spouting
these doom-laden messages of environmental catastrophe we also need
to look objectively at how to resolve the problems and the sheer
scale of the challenge necessitates a truly radical solution.
We have to break our dependence upon carbon fuels of any
sort. Even if we do not accept 100% the theories of global
warming and the greenhouse effect, we do know the profligate
combustion of carbon-based fuels, whether fossil or not, has to be a
major factor in the environmental pollution we face. We do have to
acknowledge other factors, such as the sheer magnitude of energy usage
and other forms of pollution, but carbon is accepted to be at the heart
of the issue.
So any solution which still uses carbon fuels is clearly
However we view this problem the scale and extent of it is
very much a function of the number of people populating
this tiny planet. As populations grow, and as they develop, they
learn how to live longer and to maintain their existences in more and more
hostile environments. In colonies such as cities, they use more
and more energy to fuel this life-style. More
heating, more air-conditioning, more transport, more industry, much of
which comes as a result of the social and economic structures we have
As we seek to resolve environmental problems, we cannot ignore the
impact any solution may have on the world's populous. If we
neglect the consequential outcomes we are destined to swap one major problem for a much worse one.
In particular we have to avoid global conflict and mass dislocation
and famine in the developing world. We have to recognise the normal order of the world
will lead to the poor and disadvantaged being those who pay the heaviest price for
One thing that cannot be ignored in any future solution is the
impact of changes in energy policy and their affect
on the world's economy, which today is so inextricably linked to
energy, and especially oil. Changes in our use and hence
valuation of oil, will create huge shifts in power base throughout
the world. Something that could be a good thing but will need
careful management to avoid huge disasters.
What is it we need to achieve to begin to alleviate the pattern of
pollution, to reduce our impact on the environment and to begin to
reverse the changes we have made to the planet's ecosystem?
We need to address three main areas of energy use:
domestic and industrial electricity, ground transport and air
We need to think in terms of replacing the generators and
power stations of the national grid in order to supply vast
quantities of cheap, efficient, controllable and clean electricity.
There is no alternative to nuclear power if we are to achieve what
is needed. All the half-hearted, green solutions lack
predictability and controllability, take up vast amounts of valuable
real estate and are simply inadequate to the task. Even if we
could harness all the incident wind and solar energy on the United
Kingdom, we could not use it efficiently and we would need vast
areas of land to permit storage for the times when
the wind isn't blowing and the sun is not shining. Regulating supply
according to demand would be impossibly difficult, and as a
consequence, wind and solar energy are only really viable as
small-scale adjuncts to the grid and certainly not a replacement.
We naturally fear nuclear energy, but we also used to fear
travelling above 30mph in a train. We readily accept the risks
of petrol at fuel stations, explosive gas and high voltage
electricity supplied to our homes, and many
other similar threats, and we have done so by managing and
controlling risk as far as possible. We must do the same for
Proper research in nuclear technology will enable us to reduce the cost,
raise the efficiency and improve the safety, but it will also open
the future to plentiful supplies of electricity which in
turn can be distributed and used in a host of ways. We can even
envisage a time when we all have domestic nuclear power plants on the
walls of our kitchens where our old-fashioned gas boiler used to be.
The electricity generated can be used directly to power trains, to
charge batteries in motor vehicles, and most interestingly of all, to
convert water to Hydrogen for use in fuel cells, which will in due
course represent a major opportunity for the future of the motor car.
Air transport is likely to remain challenging, with few if any
technologies coming forward to replace the kerosene powered jet
engine. However, it is not impossible that such a propulsion
system will come about.
Education (posted pre-2017)
Education always used to be a process of investment in future
generations. Today it is a business with those future
generations paying the price for the privilege. Traditionally, the
working generations have paid their taxes to provide education to
the younger generations, putting back what they benefited from when
they were younger. Now those younger generations have to pay
from their futures.
Education is intended to prepare young people for their lives
ahead, ensuring they are equipped with the skills required to
contribute to a successful and prosperous society. Sadly,
these young people are not being prepared as they should and too
often they are finding themselves inadequately trained with the
skills they need to make a full and successful contribution.
Much of this has resulted from the focus on academic results at
the exclusion of so many other features of education that are often
as important. Education should not just be a process for
filling heads with facts. These facts are not the main tools
that people need to enable them to make a positive contribution.
What they need is the ability to think, to learn, to be open minded,
to be creative, flexible and most of all, to be contributive.
They need to be able to apply themselves to the task in hand, to
work hard when it is necessary and develop their skills through
learning and experience. So few of the specific facts we learn
at school are of much relevance to anyone other than serial pub quiz
An important part of the education process is to create ones
place in the social order. Making your contribution and being
an active part of a successful team or group. All this
requires discipline and application, aspects of the current system
that are missing. Some young people understand that and work
to correct it themselves. They are the ones that succeed, but some
without the guidance necessary, fail to make their contribution and
that is bad for them and society.
We must be prepared to look at well-educated young people as our
major assets and produce them and support them as necessary.
Although some skills are inherent in some people, much of what we
need in life is learned through experience and application and the
more positive that experience can be, the better the lesson.
Our tertiary education system is the most challenged these days
with many young people studying subjects with little or no relevance
to the employment market and ending with skills and expertise of
limited value to them. On top of this, they have staggering
levels of debt to live with for so long in their working lives.
Furthermore, because the university system is being run as a
business rather than a social investment in future generations, we
are educating so many foreign students, many of whom return to their
home countries to apply what they have learned to compete with us in
the world of commerce.
We as a society have to re-evaluate the whole purpose of
education and returning to an approach that represents an investment
in our young people. Meanwhile we need a young generation much
more engaged with the political process to ensure they are heard and
After all, the future belongs to them.
Fundamentalism (posted pre-2017)
The reaction to the perceived over indulgence of western society
by extreme religious groups in many ways reflects the
frustration and anger felt by so many at the altered values of world
society. Reacting against the consumerism and materialism of
the developed world, many are turning to religion to provide the
answers they need and to give them a defined purpose, however
extreme and uncompromising that might be in practice.
Fundamentalism feeds on the fears of social groups that have a
much less advanced awareness of the secular and scientific world and
the realities of life. Religious leaders use the ignorance of
their followers to spread the doctrines of superstition which lie
at the very heart of religion and the stranglehold it has on people.
Fundamentalism is just an extreme manifestation of the
superstition of religion, within which people can justify anything
they do by the creative distortion of the vast collection of
written and spoken word from generations of religious
leaders who have throughout the centuries used this superstition to
give them the power they use to further their own interests.
Hundreds of years ago religion played a huge part in providing
leaders with power and control over populations, but in more recent
years and with the more enlightened people educated in science and
forging a future with engineering, exploration and enquiry, religion
has become much more of a purely spiritual support to those who need
it. The developed world makes few political, scientific or
commercial judgements using religious principles and the life of
those who do not accept the superstitions of religion are largely
unaffected by it at all.
Fundamentalism can only be confronted using education.
Giving people the outlook and understanding of the wider world and
removing them from their very restricted and focused social groups
where religion is an enforced way of life, will enable a much more
enlightened attitude and in particular, will enable people to
realise that so much more can be achieved without resorting to
Attempting to break fundamentalism by further violence is a folly
which only results in many innocents being slaughtered for religious
principles that in reality mean nothing. Providing a way
forward for people in whatever society they live, which provides
answers through secular principles will help to avert their need to
resort to superstition and to relive the centuries old tribal
conflicts which have only divided society.
Let us accept that those who have faith can believe in whatever
they like, however superstitious it may be in reality, but let us
not create systems, organisations, rituals, laws or social rules
that bind us to any specific superstitions. Each to his or her
own, but without the need for reinforcement through tribal rituals,
costume, ceremony, written texts, ways of life etc that have no real
meaning other than to label one as a member of a specific tribe.
Let us face it, if there is a god he (or she) is going to be a
really nice person with a sense of humour and an ability to
understand and believe in us vulnerable and ignorant people.
This god would not be vengeful, violent and unforgiving and they
would probably even have the ability to understand the likes of me.
In practice of course, our images of god are created by man to
present the kind of uncompromising leader that gives the church such
power. Reinforced by ritual and playing on everyone's fear of
death, religious leaders use the image of god they portray to hold
us all accountable. The time has come in the developed world
to move on from these archaic traditions and to seek enlightenment
through science and the wonders of our universe, not through
Economy (posted pre-2017)
At this time of writing while we are heading for a general
election, the government wants us to believe that the economy is
improving and we are well on our way to recovery. Sadly, the
reality is very different.
I think many people are worried about the underlying parameters
of the economy. We continue to have extremely low
interest rates, low inflation, verging on deflation, and huge levels
of debt we cannot service and consequently continuing to grow
uncontrollably. Just as for any domestic or business economy
the sums just do not add up and this can only be delaying the
This country has for some time now degraded its ability to create
genuine wealth, which has to be at the very heart of the economy.
Without wealth generation we cannot justify the value of the money
we have. Too many people are engaged in moving money and
wealth around, while too few are actually generating the wealth
through making things and providing genuinely valuable services.
The economy, at every level; personal, corporate, national, is so
dependent upon credit. Much of this is just postponing the
problem to later generations. Whether it is student loans,
mortgages, or state borrowing which cannot be supported by today's
taxation, the problem has become critical. All this leads to us living to a standard which is
beyond what is genuinely affordable for us, which is why we are
experiencing a change in our standard of living as the realities
force us to come to terms with our true wealth. Unfortunately,
as is often the case, the burden of this change is borne
disproportionally by the poorer members of our community.
Very few if any of the major problems within our economy have
been resolved, meaning that we simply haven't addressed the
fundamental issues. The banks in particular have not corrected
their approach and the government, so desperate to convince us to
give them our vote, make promises to us all they simply cannot
afford. However, by borrowing yet more they can postpone
paying for these things until well after their political careers are
ended and they can be judged.
But, this is not something that can go on indefinitely, and those
of the younger generation who face the bill in the future should
wake up to what is happening and realise they will not escape the
cost of today's excesses by their parents.
Is there any possibility of correcting this situation? Is
the economy so fundamentally flawed that we can never expect to
resolve it and return to a more stable and equitable situation?
Can we raise taxes or build the wealth generating parts of our
economy? Can we get people to accept a standard of living that
is much more realistic? Can we do all this in the context of a
democratic process which sets out to provide people with what they
want today rather than what is right for the future?
Economists will always give an argument that the economy is
working well and we just need to get used to these occasional
violent swings that will occur from time to time. They will
cite examples of other nations that have an even worse position than
we do, with higher levels of debt vs GDP as if that is adequate
evidence that we are doing alright.
There will be no resolution unless and until we have a more
radical approach to the economy and we can force through changes
that many will find unpalatable. We need to look at real
wealth generation and our ability to keep the results of it here in
our country. We need to look hard at what we can genuinely
afford and make some very tough decisions about how our social
society works and how it is funded. In particular, we have to
move away from this huge dependence upon credit to fund everything
we want or need.
Immigration (posted pre-2017)
In many ways it is unfortunate that immigration has become an issue of
race. This obfuscates the real issue and prohibits intelligent
debate on how our small island might cope with an inflow of people
from other nations.
Global society has huge variations in wealth, organisation,
stability and religious doctrine, which leads to vast numbers of
people around the world living in poverty and deprivation and with
very poor education.
On the other hand, within the developed countries of the world,
we have learned how to manage our resources; to invest in education,
research and development and to build successful commercial
enterprises to support our own indigenous populations within the
context of a modern, developed society. However, in common
with so many other countries of the world, we suffer hugely from
excessive population, struggling to sustain its way of life within
its own restricted infrastructure.
This crowding is manifest in so many ways, from queues in A&E, to
schools without places for local children, to heavy traffic
congestion on our roads. But perhaps more importantly than
that is the inability of the commercial system to create the wealth
necessary to support our chosen standard of living. Adding
more to our populations only makes this problem worse.
It is not just the numbers, but also the level of education
people have and their ability to contribute in a modern developed
society which is increasingly dependent upon people with
professional skills and thorough background that comes from a sound
education and solid experience.
One way of looking at this problem of population and the extent
to which our infrastructure is challenged, is to consider the
contributions made by people through taxation to the various
services and facilities the government provides from which we all
benefit. Whether it is schools, hospitals, roads, armed
forces, emergency services, government and civil services, the
judiciary and, of course, the benefits system, or the many services
and facilities ostensibly provided by the private sector, but in
actual fact heavily subsidised by the state, such as rail transport,
we can see the need for us to pay a certain amount to cover our
contribution to these costs in comparison to the amount we benefit
from them. In practice one has to pay quite a lot in tax to be
a net contributor, especially as some are not able to contribute at
Many people entering the country may pay some taxes, but in fact
they are in many cases net recipients of benefit, especially as they
are very often economic migrants and unlike the resident population,
they have no history of contribution.
Immigration per se is not the issue; it is the scale of it that
is the problem, and this has been understood for some time, although
successive governments have been incapable of dealing with it.
Many of those entering our country continue to live the life of
their home, following their own traditions and practices. This
in itself is no problem except when it impacts some of the services
we provide and hence impose extra cost. An example would be
managing many different languages with those who rely on their
native tongue and who have very limited English. Attitudes to
family size also vary, while amongst indigenous, professional
classes the birth rate is falling, amongst immigrant communities it
is rising. This not only increases the cost of supporting
immigrant communities, but also creates a shift in the very nature
Of course, immigrant populations can add very much to modern
cosmopolitan societies, but as our economy is so challenged and our
infrastructure, both physical and operationally, is so very
stretched, we have to manage these changes so much more rigorously
to ensure they are genuinely affordable.
Politics (posted pre-2017)
As we enter the period of campaigning by the various political contenders,
it is clear that for many the current political system has not been
able to deliver and more and more people are feeling disillusioned
by politics. This is leading to the rise of new and previously
minority parties, as electors struggle to find a new, fresh approach
which may serve us better.
We have dismissed the extremes of communism or fascism as highly
flawed alternatives, so the political flavours we pursue today are
far more moderate. Unfortunately, it is hard to see how any of
them have any of the answers. All we see is lack of
leadership, no answers to the big questions and cheap bribes to buy
our votes by borrowing yet more money.
We could suggest, however heretical it might seem, that at the
heart of the problem is the democratic process. Politicians
have to satiate the current needs and desires of the population and
that leaves little or no room for making the difficult decisions and
planning for the future, especially the long term future. No
politician is going to risk their job to push through difficult and
controversial policies to resolve fundamental issues, such as the
environment, when we have to take the pain today and reap the
benefits in 50 to 100 years' time.
This leads to "gesture politics" where we are offered solutions
today which on the face of it address a problem while in fact doing
little or nothing to resolve anything of consequence, usually
because it makes so little difference it is totally pointless.
But it allows the leaders to tell us they are at least doing
something however futile it might be. The environment is the
best example here where we have wind turbines and solar farms
sprouting everywhere, making no meaningful contribution to saving
the planet's environment while costing us dearly and diverting
resources from much more viable long term solutions such as nuclear
which can only show the true benefit in decades hence, but will
ultimately prove the proper solution to the problem and not just a
The lack of leadership qualities amongst our politicians mean
that they impose little or no confidence in their ability to see us
through whatever crisis we face. Proper leadership would
enable us to feel an integral part of the process of government and
enable us to make our contribution to the resolution of our
problems, but with little or no true guidance we have no one
inspiring us to follow. We cannot see characters with the
leadership qualities and character of the likes of Winston Churchill
or John F Kennedy.
We need to address the fundamental structure of government and
how our democracy functions. We need to be looking at the
issues we face and moving to resolve them and this often requires
the input of experts in their field, people who are not tainted by
politics or self interest. Perhaps we need a government that
is more like the board of a company where some people are there on
the merit of their experience and qualifications to do the job and
some people are there as representatives of interested parties and
some are there as elected members. Periodically some of these
people can be changed by a process akin to an election and they can
also be removed by an executive that judges them unfit for the
position. They would all have a responsibility to the
principal, ie the country, and they would all be paid to do their
job and like any other employee, they would not be permitted any
other sources of income. They would not receive anything from
political donors seeking to further their own interests.
We would end up with an executive, the lower house, responsible
24/7 for running the country, and a non-executive upper house which
would oversee what was happening in the executive to ensure they are
prioritising things appropriately, especially balancing short and
long term issues and the wider issues of groups within society.
This upper house would also manage the logistical aspects of
legislation, perhaps even being responsible for a constitution.