Sunday, 18 September 2011

Byelection campaign in Thornton Dale and the Wolds

Mike Beckett local community activist
At last news from North Yorkshire County Council that the Thornton Dale and the Wolds By-election is scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2011.

Mike Beckett supports local transport
Michael Beckett said "I am delighted to be selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the putting the people of Thornton Le Dale, Rillington, Sherburn, the Wolds Valley and the villages around them first. We need a local champion who can push the Tory controlled County Council for a fairer deal for Rural areas. We need more support to help support workers and employers, too long treated like second class citizens by remote Tory's sitting in Northallerton, as an enthusiastic and driven individuals I will visit even the smallest village at least three times a year in person to see what is happening and to make sure, people get helped sooner rather than later!" 

If you are not sure if you are registered to vote and would like to do so to be able to vote or if you would like a postal vote (to vote early by post) or if you'd prefer a proxy vote (where someone else votes for you where you might be away but unsure when) then contact Ryedale District council Elections team on  elections(antispam protection please remove brackets put a with a circle round it here instead, an AT symbol) or 01653 600666.

Mike Beckett outside Rillington Post Office
Alderman Betty Denton, Mike Beckett's agent says "I am glad for the offers of support for our Liberal Democrats campaign to give the people of Thornton Dale and the Wolds County Council Seat a better deal. If you too would like to help please do let me know by email: denton.betty1(antispam protection please remove brackets put a with a circle round it here instead, an AT symbol) North Yorkshire County Council needs more youth and vigour, people who work hard and really can make a difference, all of these Mike Beckett has with his professional experience but most of all he cares and he does his work with compassion."

Sunday, 4 September 2011

What's the Liberal Democrat position?

A personal assessment of what I believe the Liberal Democrats position to be:

Believing in doing the right thing, Compassion and fiscal competence. The problem is that there is rarely an obvious "right" decision, usually there is a compromise based on weighing up a massive number of competing factors and the situational assessment of how this will work out. Thought through mature, evidence based policies that consider the big picture in the pursuit of objectives held with some passion which relate to the benefit of the people. Being prepared to face up to the awful realities of the deficit but trying to protect the poor from the consequences of the cuts that are inevitable. With the long-term aim to provide extra funding to public services when finances allow. Willing to adopt social policies that will work, even if they're hated by the tabloids and not being in hock to the bankers! 

Ensuring that a government should fight for our personal freedoms and protect our civil rights; challenge prejudice, oppose the concentration of power and monopoly; intrude into peoples lives only in so much as required to help people and to offer support that individuals cannot; to reduce the taxes on those that cannot afford to pay them; to provide a choice of value services irrespective of the individual's ability to pay and not to stifle opportunities for innovation, creativity and productivity but encourage individuals to be more enterprising.
Liberal Democrats as the media have described us: "Hawkish on the deficit, liberal on social policy and populist on bankers; thriftier than Labour but nicer than the Tories, the Lib Dems are squatting stubbornly, sometimes chaotically, in the middle of British politics." (New Statesman 2011.)
For readers who believe a left to right spectrum is the best way to understand politics and might prefer a tabloid summary. Perhaps this quote might help show a pragmatic position with "Clowns to the left of us. . . Joker to the right..Here we are!". In summary following the liberal democratic principles of fairness, trust and freedom. Putting people before ideology with change that works for you because together we can make a difference.

In the Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution it summaries this in the following way:
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives. 
We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality. Recognising that the quest for freedom and justice can never end, we promote human rights and open government, a sustainable economy which serves genuine need, public services of the highest quality, international action based on a recognition of the interdependence of all the world’s peoples and responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources. We believe that people should be involved in running their communities. We are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with effective Parliamentary institutions, freedom of information, decisions taken at the lowest practicable level and a fair voting system for all elections. We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely, and we will protect the right of citizens to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes. We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. We similarly commit ourselves to the promotion of a flourishing system of democratic local government in which decisions are taken and services delivered at the most local level which is viable.  
We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a just distribution of the rewards of success. We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary. We will promote scientific research and innovation and will harness technological change to human advantage.
We will work for a sense of partnership and community in all areas of life. We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity. We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all. 
Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security. Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles. We will contribute to the process of peace and disarmament, the elimination of world poverty and the collective safeguarding of democracy by playing a full and constructive role in international organisations which share similar aims and objectives. These are the conditions of liberty and social justice which it is the responsibility of each citizen and the duty of the state to protect and enlarge. The Liberal Democrats consist of women and men working together for the achievement of these aims.

If you are waiting for someone to recommend that you join a political party before deciding to join a party, then may I take this opportunity to invite you to join the Liberal Democrats.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

State of the Nation: Mike Beckett's thoughts on Economics, Public Policy and Social Policy going forward

An informal discussion document - Sept 2011

As things change the Big Society seems to be the answer to all our social ills and to fill all the gaps. I think this is an extension of what the voluntary and community sector has been doing for years. However while in my opinion there is enough volunteers available, the management of the volunteers requires funding and with the contractions in funding I foresee more charity mergers and contrary to the localism ideals I see local autonomy increasing moving towards larger structures with substantial funding and away from small purpose built indigenous and culturally sensitive solutions, I certainly hope I am wrong on this. I do hope enough power is delegated, low enough to ensure local services delivery is as locally required! 

I hope that this is not the future we have before us but this is the trends I see. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our voluntary sector but I can see the role of volunteers being increasingly regulated as I can see a return of National Service with a twist not specifically in the armed forces but to provide extended apprenticeships in the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as Government Services, these low paid positions would be more constructive than the dole, will instil a work ethic and perhaps inspire those who are able to go on to better things.

I also think as revenue raising will become increasing an issue that will focus peoples minds of all political persuasions. Therefore I can see the idea of a higher taxation for those who have not meaningfully contributed to society in some way such as completing the afore mentioned National Service. With the rewards of full citizenship offered like the Roman citizenship to those who have done the time in National Service. I see this as the likely popular political answer to the question, how do we prevent the recent riots from happening again? and instil a feeling of engagement and that we are all in this together in the disaffected and the migrants? By making people work, with low paid make work and for those happy to remain there will do so and for those who want more the opportunity to rise over time. 

I suspect the age for receipt of Pension payments (Pension Credit and the State Pension) will continue to be put back and I foresee that they will be increasing pressure to make the books balance and delayed gratification (of the luxury of retirement, as I suspect this will be seen to be) is an obvious way to achieve this. I suspect that 80 by 2050 may not be unrealistic, this is pure speculation. 

I hope that enterprise might be stimulated by the removal of income tax on people first £10k of earning encouraging people to employ locally rather than factor out work and this in turn could reduce the weight of unemployment benefit on the public purse, while increasing economic activity and of course the Treasury benefits through indirect taxation. I think this is a good idea due to the multiplier effect and that it is better to have people employed and active than inactive or worse negatively active in the shadow economy. Without positive opportunities those who are socially excluded find little opportunities are all too often easy prey to drug dealers and criminals who are often eager to increase their reach and influence.

These are some of my current economic public policy musings, this is meant as a commentary of trends and not an endorsement of any particular policies unless specified. You may also be interested in my business blog, Mike Beckett is caring for business and taking no liberties... 


Cllr Michael Beckett BA(Hons) MIoD CertIoD

PS. Constructive feedback appreciated!