You can find out about my local campaigns across the Esher and Walton constituency here. I am also regularly asked what national priorities I stand for. You can read my regular commentary on national debates on my blog, here. My top ten priorities for a better Britain are:
Salvage bankrupt Britain: Digging Britain out of the deep hole in the nation’s finances will demand tough choices – on both taxation and spending – but we must cut the budget deficit. Under Gordon Brown, we were spending as much on debt interest as on our schools. That is economically reckless and socially unsustainable. The new government has introduced an Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), an independent body to monitor public spending and debt. So, we now have an independent check, every time the Chancellor – of whichever party – leaves Number 11 with that brown briefcase, heading off to Parliament to deliver the budget. If spending or debt is above a sustainable level, the OBR will trigger an almighty warning siren, alerting MPs, the media and the public to a reckless budget.
Give business back its cutting edge: Companies of all sizes suffered during the last recession, but none more than small businesses. Taxes on British business are too high. British economic competitiveness fell down the international rankings under Labour. We need to cut business taxes - including corporation tax - to get government off the back of British business. We also need to free our entrepreneurs from the reams of unnecessary red-tape, so they can drive the economic growth that creates jobs and pays for public services.
Support families, end the ‘couple penalty’: According to the Centre for Social Justice, under the system created by the last Labour government, the average couple was £12,000 better off each year through the tax and welfare system, if they split up. If we are serious about supporting the family, I believe we need to address the perverse social incentives created by the ‘couple penalty’.
Welfare reform: In 2010, Britain had over 5 million people claiming out of work benefits, and a million NEETs (16 to 24 year olds not in education, employment or training). So, welfare reform is a national priority. We need more training to support people into work, but a tougher line on those playing the system. Welfare reform is an economic issue – we just can’t afford the bill. But, in my view, it is also a social issue - vital to replacing the welfare dependency culture with a stronger ethos of personal responsibility.
Zero-tolerance policing: Britain needs to follow the example of law enforcement leaders in the US. Bill Bratton, Rudolph Giuliani’s legendary police chief in New York, turned round that crime-ridden city. He recently retired as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, where again he halved violent crime. The formula is to cut police red-tape to get officers spending more time on patrol. Next, replace Whitehall’s micromanagement with locally-elected police commissioners, directly accountable to local communities and responsible for the police budget and law enforcement strategy. Then, roll out comprehensive crime-mapping, so police – and the public – know exactly where the hot-spots are.
A dedicated Border Police Force: The facts speak for themselves. The street price of heroin and cocaine in the UK plummeted under Labour’s lax border controls, whilst the upper police estimate of human trafficking into Britain quadrupled. Almost every UK counter-terrorism investigation, with any international dimension, seems to throw up some failing or oversight at the border. A dedicated Border Police Force would help secure our porous borders.
A multi-track Europe: The EU has brought substantial economic benefits to Britain. However, we need to deregulate and liberalise the common market, to make it more internationally competitive – given the rising competition from India, China and Latin America. I believe we also we need to regain British authority over a range of areas including employment and social policy and criminal justice. Over the longer-term, I believe a multi-track Europe – allowing groups of countries to proceed at different speeds, in different policy areas - would best serve Britain, our European partners and the EU as a whole. That means Britain should re-negotiate her relationship with the EU to repatriate powers, and the British people should be given their say over the future direction of those relations with the EU.
Defend Britain’s tradition of freedom: We need to defend Britain’s proud tradition of freedom, which dates back to Magna Carta. That means scrapping Labour’s ineffective and ludicrously expensive ID cards, reducing pre-charge detention to the maximum necessary for our security, and pursuing reform of our blunt extradition regime.
Back the Underdog: I don’t support positive discrimination, social quotas, or the excessive political correctness generated by Labour’s Equality Act. I believe people should get what they deserve in life, based on their talents and hard-work. So, I have set out ten illustrative policy ideas that can help strengthen equality of opportunity, meritocracy and social mobility here.
Strengthen local democracy: Whether it is giving people a greater say over local healthcare priorities, strengthening councils’ powers to protect the greenbelt or giving local authorities a greater share of the revenue raised from business rates, local democracy is the British democratic revolution waiting to happen.