Dear President Trump
I congratulate you on your installation as President. Your vision to create more jobs, revitalise US infrastructure, boost US take home pay and inject more life into US economic leadership is a bold one. We in the UK are also embarked on a similar task as we leave the EU. We too need to build more roads, railways, bridges, energy plants and water supply facilities. We too need to make more things for ourselves and import less to narrow our trade gap. Our two countries can indeed trade with each other more, as ours is a fair trade with a reasonable balance of imports and exports for each party.
Your proposals to produce more realistically priced energy will help restore your manufactures. Cheap energy is a vital part of a flourishing industry. Your plans to cut corporate and individual tax rates will energise entrepreneurs, spawn more investments, and allow people to keep and spend more of their earnings. That in turn creates demand which generates more jobs. The USA in recent years has pioneered much of the digital revolution and has done well in creating more companies and jobs in technology, but has suffered from Chinese, German and Mexican imports of industrial goods which could have been made more extensively in the USA. Tax reform, cheaper energy, a better regulatory climate and a President who supports manufacturing will make a difference.
Both the USA and the UK could benefit from an early free trade agreement between our own two countries. Fair trade which results in a sensible balance between the trading parties can enrich and enhance both sides. If our two countries draw one up and sign it, it will show the world that the USA is not afraid of fair trade, and it will put more weight behind the UK’s intention to be an even more successful world trading nation open for business globally.
I was pleased to read you are planning a summit in due course with Mr Putin. The West has made mistakes in recent years with its military interventions in the Middle East. Some carefully planned joint working with Russia which also has a presence and diplomatic interests there might help achieve the important but more limited objective you have set in combatting ISIS. Past policy has suffered from conflicting and ambitious aims which have resulted in all too many civil and religious wars in the region.
The UK and the US can make common cause to strengthen NATO for our mutual defence. As one of the few countries that does hit the minimum 2% GDP target for defence spending, the UK is a natural ally in your campaign to get all NATO members to spend at least the minimum. If I tried only paying a portion of the insurance premium I owe to insure my home the insurance company would cancel the cover. Why are countries that want their allies support any different if there is a minimum? The EU does not allow its members to pay a lower subscription, and none of our EU friends short change the Commission.
I am pleased our Prime Minister will visit on Friday. There is plenty of scope to increase our joint working on intelligence, defence, trade, economic policy and general foreign policy. I wish you every success in tackling the problems in the USA that you have identified.
Oxfam is once again touting redistribution as the solution to inequality. That's a false promise. NGOs seem to see private property itself as the problem. But to reduce inequality, we need to recognise that the erosion of property rights is often what causes it.
Where it has reached extremes is in the pay of top corporate managers. In 1998, the average pay of a FTSE 100 boss was around 50 times the average UK wage. Now it's 180 times.
But the issue here isn't that getting rich is bad per se. The world as a whole is getting better off. We shouldn't see wealth as a zero sum game – because it's not.
The problem is that CEOs are being rewarded for failure. Their pay rises far outstrip any increase in the value of the companies they lead. Managers are gaining at shareholders' expense.
Because shareholders have lost control. Their votes on managerial pay aren't binding. And most no longer hold their shares directly, but rather through funds. The proportion of UK equities held by individual shareholders fell from 50% in 1953 to just 12% by 2010.
Redistribution won't solve a problem caused by poor corporate governance. Moreover, do we really think one form of expropriation can be corrected by another? Shouldn't we aspire to cut it out full stop?
Rather, the answer is to align the interests of managers with those of owners. CEOs should be made much more legally accountable to their shareholders. Corporate democracy needs to be restored.
To beat the CEO kleptocracy, shareholders must take back control.
There have been protests in many coutries, sometimes degenerating into violence. All fair enough (without the violence) but it won't make much difference. He won. We should give him a chance. Let us see what he delivers, rather than focus on what he has said. And let us in the UK look to work with him in the interests of the world, the US and our self interest. I can understand why some are disappointed. But the publicity challenging the decision of voters never works. It will just reinforces support for the President.
The main reason we should be worried about Donald Trump is his rhetoric about protectionism and apparent antipathy to work trade. I've no problem with his challenge to world's liberal elite, or to orthodoxies that are ruled out of debate, or to his demand that other NATO members pay their way. But his championing of protectionism is a real worry. Putting up economic barriers will not bring prosperity or jobs back to the US. Just as impediments to trade in Europe as the UK leaves the EU will damage the economies of all. It may be a glorious opportunity for Theresa May to become the Western world's 'free trade' leader. But we need the US President on board as well.
The other big worry is his seemingly high regard for Mr Putin. Again it's not unreasonable to talk about wanting to make an accommodation with Russia, but it will need a very watchful eye. Putin is not Gorbechev. All European states are going to have to take security a bit more serously. First duty of any government is to protect its citizens. Mr Trump is likely to make clear that it will be no use looking to the US to carry more than it's share of the burden.
But back to the theme of thus blog post. What's gone is gone. Donald Trump won. Move on. Give him a chance to show us he can be a successful President.
Should follow the rest of the world in legalising cannabis?
by Paul, one of my parliamentary staff
As we enter 2017, medical marijuana is now legal in a majority of US states, including conservative bastions such as Arkansas and Montana. Common sense is prevailing in Canada and Australia, too. Public support for cannabis legalisation has grown significantly in these countries. But the political establishment in Britain refuse to promote such sensible and courageous action.
February last year marked a watershed moment for many thousands of Australian citizens struggling to manage chronic conditions. It was the month the Turnbull Government introduced amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act legalising access to safe supplies of medicinal cannabis. The passing of this law went without fuss, establishing, in the words of then health minister Sussan Ley, a “pathway of legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of suitable medicinal cannabis products in Australia”.
Brave politicians like Ley, in presenting overwhelming evidence to support these changes, have managed to lead public opinion. However, the new federal law has one fatal flaw – it does not decriminalise unregulated cannabis remains a law enforcement issue for individual states. In a recent poll in South Australia’s Advertiser, 83 percent of readers backed a further law which would allow the home growing of medicinal cannabis for strict medicinal purposes.
Elsewhere, the legalisation of cannabis was a flagship manifesto commitment of Justin Trudeau in 2015. He successfully led the Liberal Party into government with a stomping majority. The law will change this spring. However, like the Turnbull Government, Trudeau’s reluctance to decriminalise means many citizens have and will suffer in the meantime.
Demand for pain relief is not yet meeting the supply of; it is absurd that expensive and harmful pharmaceutical painkillers are liberally prescribed, while use of cannabis is harshly punished.
Where legalisation for medicinal purposes and decriminalisation go hand in hand, public attitudes have been proven to shift substantially. In the US, now polls suggest over half of American people support the legalisation of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. No wonder this is the case when states such as Colorado, which legalised cannabis for recreational use, have seen a drop in cannabis sales among locals despite a rise in stores selling the drug. Colorado high schools have seen cannabis usage drop below the national average, a welcome statistic given the dangers of cannabis for the young.
In Britain both public opinion, and political will, lag behind. Brave British parliamentarians haven’t quite been in the right place at the right time.
Ex-Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, Drugs Minister in the coalition government, broke ranks from his Tory colleagues and released a report calling for cannabis-based medicines to be legalised in the UK. But he resigned after his report was ignored by his boss. Her name was Theresa May.
While the evidence grows ever more compelling, and thousands needlessly suffer, the government stands silently still. Of the chances of any progress, Baker says: "Given Theresa's views, I think it most unlikely anything will change under her regime."
My father died just over a year ago. I dreamt about him last night. Thinking about him, I’m reminded of two things today: first, that he loved me; and second, that he was – to put it mildly – puzzled by my choice of profession. He never saw the point of parliament, which he thought a ‘giant talking shop.’ […]
The Award is named after Archbishop Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of the signing of Magna Carta.
The Award made from Fairtrade silver will be conferred on Sir Tony Baldry by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 31st March.
For further information click here.
The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!
“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.
“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.
“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.
“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.
“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.
“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.
“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.
“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.
Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.
I hope I still have at least one reader left!
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”
Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.
“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”
The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.
Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".
But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.
The toll of death will continue to rise.