Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mike Beckett says 'A big thank you!'

Mike Beckett by Anne Pilgrim
Thank you for your support with the North Yorkshire County Council, Thornton Dale and the Wolds By-election campaign. Voting was held on Thursday the 27th October 2011 with the count starting at 10am on the following day.

The candidates' visions were set out in the Gazette and Herald. The paper also wrote about the Conservative's minor quibble about a quote which is a matter of public record. This I believe was done to draw attention from the Conservative candidate's voting record. Firstly, voting in favour of access for a housing development on part of the Manthorpe Park Playing Fields in Thornton-le-Dale. Secondly, more recently, following the Ryedale District Council Policy and Resources Committee on the 23 June 2011 on Item 7: Review of Civic Budget. It was resolved (link to minutes) following a proposal by Cllr Burr that the Civic Budget should be £6k on councillor expenses. These are specifically for the Chairman, Vice Chairman and councillor travel expenses etc. This matter was also considered by the full session of Ryedale District Council on the 18th July 2011 in Item 33: Review of Civic Budget (Item 33), minute 7. The minuted resolutions made, will make allowances payable directly to Councillors next year for specific jobs. I fear this will not subject payments made to Councillors to the scrutiny and accountability of a vote. More importantly at the moment, the conservative candidate in the byelection voted in this named vote, in favour of raising this budget for Councillor expenses from £6k against the proposal by the specialist committee to £10k. That's an extra £4k of our tax payer's money, in this time of austerity, when Councillors should lead by example! 
Mike Beckett with our dog campaigning in the
    countryside near Thixendale with beautiful horses

The day before the election, the Malton and Pickering Mercury press covered the campaign. I also wrote my last pre election update social media post. With the Conservative MP's staff out delivering to support their candidate they were heard to remark that even the work experience person was out helping to deliver - they clearly had to fight for this seat. I hope they fight just as hard for all the residents, who I think pay first class taxes but so often are getting second class services. We are threatened with third class services if cuts disproportionately further disadvantage our rural communities. With a Conservative led District and County Councils and MP, I am left wondering what the Tories have done for us locally and I conclude not enough.

Diana Wallis MEP, Cllr Mike Beckett, Former MP
Cllr Elizabeth Shields & Edward McMillan-Scott MEP 
Press coverage of the election results are here, this was my second time fighting the seat. I gained over a third of the vote which was a better result than the last two times for this a safe Conservative seat. Six years ago when I last stood, the then Conservative constituency agent, Cllr Pamela Anderson, had said "We could get a pig in a blue ribbon elected here". When I last stood the Tory majority for this County seat was 749. More recently in 2009, the Tory majority increased to 861, with a different candidate for the Liberal Democrats and an incumbent Tory councillor. Now, on October 28th count over a third of the eligible votes going to the Liberal Democrats candidate, the Tory majority was reduced to 548 - a reduction of 313 in the majority from the last result.
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Again thank you everyone for your help and support giving local people a choice.

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!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mikish musings on May

To say I was disappointed with the election results is an understatement, I was gutted. While I am glad to remain a Malton Town Councillor, I was so very sad to see good Liberal Democrat Councillors loose our seats. With the majority of Tory Councillors on Ryedale District Council who have hardly spoken other than moving an item or seconding a vote. I applaud the work of engaged Councillors who work for the people but I question how effective a Councillor is who expresses no opinions and never speaks on matters and whose only contributions are presence and voting at the appropriate time, although the frustration of seeing grown adults asking others which way they are supposed to be voting suggests to me that perhaps they see the role as more ceremonial than representative? Is this a new political ideology, as it has appeared to me that to turn up and provide an on demand vote and keep seats filled lacks the spirit of the role even if the outwards functions of the role are seen to be done.

The pro AV referendum campaign was not effectual enough indeed Reform Cat I believe achieved more in conveying the message than the official campaign had done. The new fight is for Lords Reform, although upon reflection it feels we have had more effective opposition from the Lords than from the Commons official opposition previously the Tories and now Labour under the less popular Miliband brother. I think he is a minibrand compared to his brother and it was interesting to note the direction the more popular Milibrand would have taken Labour. Criticism of  Ed Balls from his opponents seems to have dove tailed with taking a political kicking from Labour. Maybe Ed Balls stood up to the other Ed, if so it is just like the trouble Chris Huhne has had which was unleashed just after his clash with David Cameron. Challenging a party leader appears to me to have consequents.

Oxfam are offering a great opportunity...

Feminism: I thought this was also about the Labour leadership an Anti Abbott site on Facebook, keep Calm Abbott is not PM, although in this case it was to do with colonial politics... I also saw on Lamebook this which made me sigh, feminist may regret looking. Of note is Sarah Palin's emails 24,000 pages released under Freedom of Information request, personally I think that is more information than I need.

RIP Roy Skelton, now voiceless Daleks, George and to somewhat relief Zippy, one hopes up above the streets and houses...

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Decade Wedding Anniversary, Local Election Candidate and Alternative Vote

This month my wife and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary which is a welcome chance to reflect on a decade together.

I am standing in the local elections and it is now less than a month until the local elections on 5th May, and I am proud to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sherburn. To assist in my campaign I plan to update my personal website this weekend.
I am standing to be your local Councillor. Having been a Citizens Advice Bureau Manager I know how to respond to calls for help and stay in touch and I think this may be worth your vote. I believe in decisions being made by local people who have specialist local knowledge.

We are also having a refurendum on the Alternative Vote system, which if successful will increase voter power making MPs position less secure and giving people more power. In contrast Winston Churchill on First-Past-The-Post: "The present system has clearly broken down. The results produced are not fair to any party, nor to any section of the community. In many cases they do not secure majority representation, nor do they secure an intelligent representation of minorities. All they secure is fluke representation, freak representation, capricious representation."

Over the next month I’ll talk about the issues and why I think I am worth your vote more than my opponents. I hope I can convince enough people. If you’re unconvinced, let me know why and I’ll see what I can do. What I do promise is to serve as a councillor who keeps in touch and works all year round.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

World book night

I have been enjoying reading Carol Ann Duffy our Poet Laureate's book The World's wife since receiving it at World book night.

Interesting feminist reimaginings often clever and thought provoking, certainly worth a read.

Although my personal favourite feminist writer remains Sheri S Tepper who I have found most engaging and I have enjoyed her plot twists and underlying complexity. I particularly liked her work Grass, if you haven't read any of her work may I recommend it to you. 

Monday, 31 January 2011

Registering with Technorati

It has been suggested I register this blog with Technorati and they ask me to post this code: KBZVG35BPQCB so have now done so to be compliant. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sudan concerns rise of troubles ahead

BBC News reports the referendum on the South has gone in favour of independence which is not a surprise, over 99% shows that this was never much of a question.

Whether Abyei gets a vote to go with the North or South. The oil rich territory remains a rich and coveted resource, a flashpoint as the interested parties may push with force to claim the oil.
I am glad the South has had the chance to speak. More freedom to Africa is good providing they also have the autonomy to choose their own destiny. If destiny is imposed by others then this isn't freedom...
With protests in Khartoum following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, it seems an uncertain time in North Sudan although this is not a country renowned for eschewing violence, I fear for the stability in the North.
I remain deeply concerned and I worry that the prize of peace may yet be devoured by the jaws of civil war. I hope the 9th July will bring the birth of the latest Country 'South Sudan' into a joyous period of prosperity and mutual support with its neighbours. However I fear that natural resource disputes fuelled by greed may undermine such hopes, I so hope I am wrong!