Monday, 2 August 2021

Government is fiddling with the electoral boundaries - to maintain a totally unfair system of voting!

Tonight at 11:59pm 2nd August 2021 the Boundary Commission will CLOSE their consultation on Parliamentary constituency boundaries. Once again,  the Government is fiddling with the electoral boundaries in Sussex. This is because of the 'First Past The Post' (FPTP) voting system. I have written to the Commission (which is made up of only 3 people, all appointed by the Government) to oppose the boundary changes where I live and to say they should be implementing Proportional Representation for elections. If you wish to support Proportional Representation and comment on you local boundary changes follow these links:

BBC interview
In support of the Make Votes Matter (MVM) and proportional representation (PR) - I was interviewed by BBC Radio Sussex this morning. talking about the Parliamentary boundary changes and Proportional Representation.  Here is a recording of what I said. The MVM people have put the BBC interview in 2 sound recording on Twitter 

How proposed constituency boundary changes affect villages surrounding Lewes shows that - far from providing good local representation - FPTP disconnects communities. All forms of PR in @MakeVotesMatter's #GoodSystemsAgreement keep a "local link". @victor_ient on @BBCSussex  (

Thanks to local @MakeVotesMatter supporters, we're continuing to #MakeNoiseForPR. Here's @victor_ient talking on @BBCSussex this morning about the proposed constituency boundary changes, & why #ProportionalRepresentation would be a much fairer, more democratic way to do things.

Vote 1.2.3 etc instead of an X

Monday, 28 December 2020

Brexit Agreement - more like damage limitation!


It not a question of who wins – it is question of damage limitation for both the UK and EU. Both parties will lose benefits.

For copies of the Agreement and further analysis CLICK HERE

We are out of the European Union and I hope we can now start repairing all the damage which has been done to our trading and social relationship with our partners in Europe over the last 4 years but it not a question of who wins – it is question of damage limitation for both the UK and EU. Both parties will lose benefits.

Hopefully, we can now move away from isolationism and division and start working with people rather than against them. Hopefully we can concentrate on building a global sustainable economy meeting the climate change challenge where peace, humanity and the health of communities are given high priority.

This whole Brexit business extending over the last 4 years has been a massively unnecessary interruption to successful business and commerce as well as to peace, security, stability, and the development of a sustainable future. We need to prioritise the conservation of our environment working towards the elimination of greenhouse gases in the planet's atmosphere. The people of the United Kingdom had to vote in a referendum whilst they were being assailed by false statements extolling the benefits of leaving the European Union. The UK Government has seemingly conveniently forgotten all of the mistruths that were put out in 2016.

And why are we leaving the UK's biggest economic partner in the world? Nobody from this UK Brexit Government or the Leave Campaign are repeating the lies which were put out in 2016, – no, they are saying it is all because we need our 'sovereignty' back! Effectively this means that the UK Parliament will now make the decisions about what's good for Britain. But that's a worry in itself. Our Parliamentary voting system is archaic with its First Past the Post voting system. Basically, this means a single party can 'win' an election without the majority of voters supporting them. In the last election in 2019 the Conservatives got 43.6% of the votes but won 56% of the seats. That 13% difference means to say that whatever a small bunch of Tories think (the Cabinet) will effectively be how we are governed in this country. That doesn't make me feel very comfortable. I would rather have the checks and balances of the EU where our ministers jointly make decisions with the rest of the EU ministers, where our European members of Parliament jointly make decisions with elected MPs from all over Europe. I would rather have stable five-year expenditure and environmental programmes based on the precautionary principle rather than the chaotic piecemeal decision which often comes out from Downing Street.

Still, we are where we are and in large part UK business will be able to trade free of tariffs with the EU countries. However, they will have the problem of producing more documentation to export their goods. In the service industry there is still much to be done as the agreement hasn't concluded any details. It seems crazy that the UK government hasn't treated this major export market as a priority. In 2019, the UK’s single largest service export to the EU was “other business services”, valued at £41 billion; this represented 33% of all UK service exports to the EU. Other British service exports to the EU included financial services, valued at £26 billion (21% of service exports to the EU). Combined with other business services, these two categories made up just over half of all UK service exports to the EU!

But beyond this there are real worries as to the logic of the UK government in coming out of the European Arrest Warrant and leaving Interpol. Why? We also leave the Erasmus University exchange student system. Why? It was a great system to help our students not only get the best education but understand how things are done in other countries. If it was good enough for the monks of the Middle Ages why isn't it good enough for our young people in the UK?

The UK loses the freedom of movement so it will no longer be possible to easily go work in another country in Europe. Many businesses are international, and the freedom of a movement principle helps them as well as helping the individual get the best job for them and their family. Our UK government have abandoned the concept of equivalency in professional services. For example, it will no longer be possible for nurses and doctors to have their qualifications automatically recognised in Europe and vice versa.

As we move into this new era, I think the gaps caused by our exit from the EU will need constant attention and will lead to difficulties for our businesses and workers. A disaster has been averted but that doesn't mean to say this Agreement can replace all the benefits we had by being part of the European project. Our departure from the EU is a win for people like Putin but it's not a win for the people of the United Kingdom.


Tuesday, 22 December 2020

What a Brexit & Covid mess the UK is in!


The Muppets in the UK government should have separated out tackling Covid from the Brexit negotiations ages ago. It looks as though Boris and his right wing Brexiteer Tories have now got into a right mess with the mutation of the Covid virus whilst they intend going right to the wire on the Brexit negotiations. The recent closing of the border with France and other countries has shown how idiotic it is to tackle both of these issues at the same time. It looks like chaos in Kent at the moment. 


The problem is you can't trust Boris & Co. Even if they made an agreement, I believe they would renege on it later on. Worse still - we have to put up with Boris for 4 more years! 

Sadly, because of the way things work in the UK there is not due to be an election for another 4 years. And even then, with the First Past the Post system we are unlikely to see a change in government. Boris has already used the Boundary Commission (made up of his Tory mates?) to gerrymander the constituencies in any future election reducing the chances of labour or Liberals getting elected. See Guardian article: UK government accused of 'power grab' over redrawing of boundaries

I believe the British government (if they can be trusted) have agreed to preserve arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Eire. Hopefully this will protect the Good Friday agreement.  Subject to this proviso I would conclude the following: 

Perhaps Boris and his mates need to be taught a lesson and for the people in the UK to understand exactly what it's like to be outside the EU and suffer from the trade and administrative barriers. The 43% of people that voted for the Conservatives need to understand what they voted for in 2019. I feel many of them now might not want the Conservative party in its present form. I also understand that recent polls have shown that the majority of people in the UK want to stay in the European Union or at least have some form of close trading partnership. A recent UK of poll published in the Financial Times shows that now the tables are turned now: 53% of the UK population wish to remain in the EU. That's a 5% change from 2016 when the population was voting on the lies put out by Boris and the Leave Campaign. Indeed, the Leave Campaign were even found guilty but the penalties were not enough to rerun the referendum. Sad.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

No major swing to the right in the UK General Election!

Liberals and moderates won the popular vote in the UK General Election but they are not in power! 

Some friends have commented to me saying "You must be upset with the 
result." My reply is yes, disappointed and worried but not upset. The views of moderate reasonable and caring people are not dead. They are just frustrated by our political voting system (FPTP). Have people swung to the right over Europe?  I don't think so.  Here in Lewes, Liberal Democrats have cut the Conservative majority in Lewes in half and have increased their share of the vote by 4.1% with the Tory share of the vote reduced by 1.6%.

British philosopher and author A.C. Grayling estimates that 16.5 million voted for Remain candidates and 14.5 for Leave candidates. Or put it another way in the general election the Conservatives got just over 13.9 million votes which equates to 43.6% votes. Those not voting for a right-wing candidate amounted to over 46% of the vote. Either way, the country has not lurched to the right. The voting system has lurched to the right! For an analysis of votes cast and percentages see the BBC election website

I'm not pleased at the prospect of another 5 years of Maria Caulfield (the ERG member and firm Brexiteer) but the constituency has not turned to the right. 52% of the people did not vote for her. She got 48%. The 52/48% split is roughly how the Lewes area voted in the EU Referendum. We were a Remain area and we still are now!

As far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned they are alive and kicking. Yes the Liberal Democrats only got 11 seats in Parliament whilst under a proportional representation their 3.6+ million votes would have delivered them 75 seats. But these 3.6 million people can be a force to peacefully and determinedly try and keep the flame of liberalism alive in this country.  

However a more right-wing government has taken over control in the UK and they will be in power for 5 years and we continue to have a right-wing press (the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sun and the Telegraph). That is a worry. Under the Conservatives things have already happened over the last 4 1/2 years which seriously concern me. In my old council ward for example in Lewes district why should a German woman who has been married to an English guy living here for 20 years with children born here have to apply for the 'right to stay'? That's just one example of my concerns.  I'm also concerned that we are coming out of Europe. Mr Putin has openly declared his desire for the breakup of the EU and that's not good for world peace. I'm worried because for the time being at least and out of Europe, the UK will be forming closer relationships with the USA under the pressure and control of a right-wing US president.

It's going to be a tough 5 years but that's all the more reason for Liberal Democrats to continue to challenge the government to ensure there is more of a level playing ground and fairness for all of the people in this country including those who didn't vote for the Conservatives (over 14 million) and those who didn't vote for Brexit (over 16 million) in the 2016 referendum where people were persuaded by false arguments, lies and manufactured fears.

I define myself as a liberal and to me that goes beyond a following of a political party. In fact I would give a closer definition to my own belief "to protect the rights of the individual whilst having a responsibility to the community”. I desire to achieve a society where extremes, conflict and war have no place, where we live in harmony, where justice and truth prevails and where we tread lightly on our planet for the future of our children and grandchildren. Lewes is the right place to remember Thomas Paine's words which echo in my mind at such times as this  ".........The problem, then, is to devise a system that gives government the power necessary to protect individual liberty but also prevents those who govern from abusing that power”.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Housing Crisis?

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Dr Vince Cable, features on the front cover of the Local Government Association November 2017 magazine. 

He focuses on the problems and challenge facing local government. In particular he comments on the government’s current approach which restricts local councils from building more homes. He says this policy is “insane” and adds “local authorities could do an awful lot if they had greater freedom to borrow and invest”.

Many organisations agree that more freedom should be given to local authorities to borrow. The recent move by the government to grab the headlines on social housing clearly won’t solve the problem. As one commentator said “The UK government’s £2bn for social housing will build 5K homes – the waiting list is 1.2m” 

Now the government have come out with a consultation document (closes on 9 November). This document says nothing about helping councils provide social & affordable housing! The consultation is entitled: 

Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals

I’m not sure if this is going to deliver the much-needed housing as it seems to just add complicated calculations into the process. However, the headline ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places, ‘ does potentially give local councils greater ability to building houses in the wrong place. However, the devil may be in the detail. The effect may be just to tie up local councillors in more complicated calculations without there being any positive output to solve the housing problem for those who are on the council housing waiting list. These are the people who need social housing and affordable homes. As I said before, just building giving more planning permission to developers does not necessarily solve the housing crisis.

I have made copies of the consultation documents, see LINK:

Planning Resources which is the monthly describe the measures as follows (summary) :

The Government argued in the housing White Paper that a standard approach to assessing local housing need would be simpler, quicker, and more transparent. This consultation paper proposes a standard method based on 3 key principles: 

a) Simple–there should be an easy and transparent process for local people and other interests to understand;
b) Based on publicly available data –which might include national data such as that from the Office for National Statistics, or robust local data;
c) Realistic –to reflect the actual need for homes in each area, taking into account the affordability of homes locally. High house prices indicate a relative imbalance between the supply and demand for new homes, and makes housing less affordable. The affordability of new homes is the best evidence that supply is not keeping up with demand.

In addition, the government consider that any approach must allow an understanding of the minimum number of homes that are needed across England as a whole, while also reflecting the effect of the government's Industrial Strategy as they seek to promote prosperity in every part of the country. The proposed approach to a standard method consists of three components:

  • demographic baseline,
  • market signals (the price of homes). 
  • Ensure that the proposed housing need is as deliverable as possible, so are proposing a cap to limit any increase an authority may face when they review their plan.

The paper also seeks views on changes to national policy to help local planning authorities and communities plan for and deliver the homes they need, including:

improving how authorities work together in planning to meet housing and other requirements across boundaries, through the preparation of a statement of common ground;
  • How the new approach to calculating housing need can help authorities plan for the needs of particular groups and support neighbourhood planning;
  • Proposals for improving the use of section 106 agreements, by making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and more transparent; and
  • Seeking further views on how homes can be built more quickly.

This consultation also seeks views on the proposal in the housing White Paper that local planning authorities delivering the homes their communities need might be eligible for a further 20 per cent increase in fees for planning applications, over and above the 20 per cent increase already confirmed. If taken forward, this would be delivered through changes to regulations.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, and the responses received to the housing White Paper, the Government intends to publish a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework early in 2018. They intend to allow a short period of time for further consultation on the text of the Framework to make sure the wording is clear, consistent and well-understood. Their ambition is to publish a revised, updated Framework in Spring 2018.

In taking forward the proposed changes to the Framework, some amendments will also be required to planning guidance. The report states that the Government will use the responses to both consultations to help shape changes to the guidance, which they intend to update alongside the revised Framework.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Exiting the EU and migration

There is no hiding it, migration to the UK has been a big issue in the recent referendum. The UK has experienced inward migration over thousands of years. With world population growth and the effects of Britain’s empire the UK has experienced various periods of inward migration since World War II. In recent years there has been a fragmentation in the Conservative Party on immigration issues. Over and above this, UKIP has become a stronger influence in politics. All of this has led to a negative attitude towards immigrants and what some British people call ‘foreigners.’ 

The problems of the war in Syria and the mass migration of its victims have brought an added strain to the wealthy countries of Europe and on the EU. Is that a reason for destroying the EU? I think not. It is even more reason for the countries of Europe to work more closely together and tackle the problems outside its borders. Sadly, by a small margin, the people of the UK have chosen to ignore these challenges , but they won’t go away.

Misinformation in the UK EU Referendum campaigning
There has been much misinformation banded around about the effect of migration on the UK, especially where that migration is coming from. There has been an assumption in the information put out by the Brexit campaign that by leaving the EU we will somehow solve the immigration ‘crisis’ as they put it. 

Yes, net migration to the UK is high, and in the last year (updated including Q1 2016), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that net migration to UK reached record 335,600. The UK Financial Times reports that this is the highest level since the early 1990s:

click image to got to the FT graph

Migration from outside the EU is 50% of the total
It appears that the Brexit campaigners did not explain to the public in the EU referendum campaign that the actual number of migrants coming from the EU is about 50% of this total:

The above figures are for 2015 , and they show:

EU Migrants EU
Non-EU migrants
Less British emigration
Net  total figures as of December 2015

The Brexiters have instilled fear in people’s minds in the UK that hordes of people are migrating from eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. So far, the figures do not support this. The two countries that UKIP were most concerned about were Bulgaria and Romania. However they do not show up as the highest number of migrants to the UK. They come under the 'EU2' classification in the above table and make up 58,000 of the total EU migrants in 2015. 

Brexiters have no 'solution' for immigrants from outside the EU
With the UK, leaving the EU it has been assumed that the EU migration of 184,000 will cease. Perhaps the UK government will operate a work permit system for those people from Europe. We will have to wait and see. However, no one has put forward a solution as to how the 188,000 people from outside the EU will be prevented from coming here. As the office of National statistics mention in their latest report -many of these people do not arrive in the UK from the EU overland in Europe, but arrive by air from destinations in the Far East and Africa and North America.  Click here to go to the ONS report

UK unemployment is low
A fear has been installed in the minds of many people in the UK that immigrants are coming to the UK and not working and just claiming benefits. This claim does not seem to be borne out by the facts of the matter. The UK has currently about 5% unemployment overall. If the migrants coming here over the years were just simply here to claim benefits this figure would be much higher. Here is an ONS summary of the situation:

Ignoring the world problem
All this upset in Europe and for the UK has been mainly caused by the issue of migration, but it isn’t going to go away by the UK bringing up the drawbridge on Europe. World population is on the rise exponentially and one of the effects of population increase is that people will migrate to the safest, the most stable and the most economically beneficial country to ensure that they and their family survive. This has been so all through history and in the case of the UK. It’s been going on ever since the Beaker people came to the UK over 4000 years ago!

The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new UN DESA report, “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision.”

We can't just ignore this fact. The UK can't separate itself off from the rest of the world's problems. One way or the other, they will affect us. It is my belief that the UK should be outward looking and join with other nations and attempt to tackle the problems so that there is a future for our children and grandchildren. 

In 2011, David Attenborough gave a lecture to the Royal Society in London. I paraphrase his comments about world population growth. He said that 50 years ago the world population was about 3 billion and today it has risen to 7 billion. I recommend watching all of his talk but if you only have a few minutes to spare see the short section from 6 min 10 sec in. See:  or click the link to YouTube below: 

So where do we go from here?
I hope the UK politicians will stop giving out misinformation and will work with other leaders in Europe and globally to end warfare, terrorism and strife, and at the same time begin to build safe and economically stable countries whilst tackling the world population crisis. If we don't do this, the problems of migration will increase and the pressure on first world countries will just become greater and greater.  

Monday, 4 January 2016

Will we ever get a fair voting system?

Here in the UK we are in the first year of a 5 year parliament where the Conservative Party have an overall majority of seats in the House of Commons but that is only because (for the UK Parliament) we have a 'first passed the post' constituency voting system. In this system the way people vote is not reflected in the number of seats in Parliament. For instance, the Conservatives increased their share of the vote by only 0.8% but gained an extra 24 seats. Labour increased their share by nearly double, 1.5%,  but actually lost 26 seats! A crazy system! For more see: the BBC General Election Results 
In fact by a large majority most of the people in the UK did not vote for the Conservatives, who got just over 11 million votes, whereas votes for other parties amounted to 19 million!

Sadly though, we are now beset with a 5 year period of Conservative style legislation despite the huge majority of people NOT voting for the Conservatives. We are having to endure a 5 year programme where the Conservatives impose their version economics (Osbourne’s budgets), their nuclear energy programme, and their relaxation of the human rights legislation, planning laws, climate change legislation and much more!

If you think that the voting system should change please join the Electoral Reform Society and/or support their campaigns via:
Twitter: and Facebook:

Or support #FairVotesNow on