Archive for the ‘Common Sense Politics’ Category

After our successful campaign to save Farnham’s Water Meadows we have launched a new ‘Protect Our Greenspace’ campaign in Badshot Lea

I thought I should set out why I’m standing in this election!

What Motivates Me?

I got re-motivated about politics when the Iraq War was being prepared for by Bush and Blair. When my marriage broke up in the mid 1990s I left politics. I had to because I was looking after my twin children and had a full time job, so I had no spare time for politics. It may sound corny but I would say that bringing up my children as a single Dad is the most important and worthwhile thing I’ve ever done.

After a few years I dabbled a bit in politics again but what really got me energised was the run-up to the war in Iraq. The deceit of Blair and Bush angered me as it did many people. I never believed there were weapons of mass destruction (see my recent Blog post on this). I felt compelled to get re-involved in the Lib Dems because they were the Party who stood solidly against the madness of Iraq.

I know what a bad name politicians have these days but that’s NOT a reason to abstain from politics – it should motivate us to try and do something to change things. That’s why I’ve called this Blog ‘Shaking Up Politics’.

What I Stand For

Here’s a summary of my main campaign themes and how I’ve tried to fulfil them over the last 12 months:

I have four campaign themes which dominate my political philosophy:

Speaking up for Ordinary People

• I have spoken out against the plans for the Key Site development in Godalming and fought for affordable housing on the site.
• I have used my position to publicise the plight of Dan Eley, a young man from Godalming who used to work with street children in South America but suffered a broken neck and was left paralyzed, and stuck in Colombia. The Lib Dems put out 14,000 leaflets which publicised Dan’s situation.
• I have been outspoken in respect of the affairs of the standing MP Jeremy Hunt. Hunt has suffered the embarrassment of having to repay over £12,500 of his MP’s expenses claims, after I raised questions at a public meeting in May 2009.

Seeking a Fair Deal for the Vulnerable

• I strongly support the Royal British Legion’s Campaign for better care for returning veterans, having worked with army veterans through the YMCA.
• I am supporting the Act for Justice group in Haslemere, campaigning against human trafficking.

Campaigning for a Sustainable Community

• I chaired the successful campaign to save Farnham’s Water Meadows
• I am now fighting the proposals to double the size of Badshot Lea village
• I raised strong objections to the TAG flights proposal which involved the expansion of Farnborough Airport

Investing in our Children and Teenagers

• Seeking to help and empower young people is key to my agenda, as I have worked with them for many years in my role as a CEO of the YMCA.
• I strongly support the Lib Dems’ plan to phase out University Tuition fees. It’s too late for my own children, but I don’t want to see generations of young people saddled with huge debts just as they start out in life.

If you want to know more about my background you can click here to find out.

Mike supports local green campaigners at the Greening Godalming launch

Housing emits 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions. By retrofitting old houses with energy saving measures we could save between 60 and 80% of their carbon footprint. We will also save money on our fuel bills.

Government should help homeowners and social housing landlords in a massive retrofit process. German experience has shown that money spent by Government can stimulate up to six times the amount in energy improvements. By providing grants and low interest finance that makes repayment costs lower than fuel bill saving, the UK would move closer to meeting the goal of using 80% less carbon by 2050.

I support local Greening campaigns like Greening Godalming.

Government must have the courage and determination to take such bold steps. Not only would our carbon emissions fall but the jobs created would be very welcome in our current economic state.

Despite my opponent Jeremy Hunt and the Tories backing Labour to vote through the deeply flawed Digital Economy Act this week we must not accept it as a ‘fait accompli’.

If elected on 6th May I will be pressing my Party and the others to urgently repeal the Digital Economy Act and to subject all the proposals to proper and rigorous Parliamentary scrutiny.

Why? Because:

– it’s a flawed piece of legislation which hadn’t been properly thought through or examined before it became law
– it was rushed through in the dying days of a failed administration after a general election had been called
– it seriously restricts people’s civil liberties (the opposite of the Lib Dems’ proposed Freedom Bill)
– the Government was too lazy to go into the details before legislating due to the lobbying of certain industries
– the Government was too lazy to pay attention to the impact on other businesses, which is remarkable at a time of economic crisis
– the law was supported, rather than opposed, by the Conservatives, who recognised it was flawed but passed it anyway – another example of the Labservatives

Mike Simpson

What goes through your mind as you watch the television News these days? Bewilderment at the sums of money we, as taxpayers, have put into the Banks to save them? Anger at the politicians and so called ‘financial experts’ who landed us in this mess? Or perhaps it’s a feeling of resignation because you look at politicians and think ‘they’re all as bad as each other’.

The last year has shown beyond doubt that those in power who claimed all was well, were either deluded or deceitful. We have all been let down. Is it possible to change the way our country is run? We certainly need to!

We have had 12 years of ‘New Labour’, ending in arrogance, incompetence, sleaze and in-fighting. Before that we had 18 years of the Conservatives ending in arrogance, incompetence, sleaze and in-fighting. Is there a different way? I believe there is. In simple terms I believe the key is not to give so much power to so few people.

The top bankers who messed up so catastrophically, only did so much damage because of the almost unlimited power they had. Politicians tend to make their worst decisions when they have too much power and don’t need to consult or reflect on consequences. The problem is that the political class and the elites who run our government, banks and economy, don’t want to give up any of their power or privilege and all the accompanying perks. We need to challenge that power and privilege which has failed so spectacularly.

We also need to dramatically reduce the extent of government interference in our lives and roll back the ‘big brother’ state. We must give people much more power in their communities, particularly over public services, schools and local health services.

In Parliament we must have a more considered and honest approach rather than the same old political dog fight. There are some huge issues to deal with.

Decisions about what to do about public and private sector pension funds need political parties to work together so that none tries to gain a temporary electoral advantage. The same is true in respect of the hard choices to make about climate change and government debt.

Please contact me if you would like to share in my campaign.

Click here for Mike’s main website

Read more about Mike Simpson

Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

Over the last few weeks it seems that the whole country has been consumed with the MPs’ expenses saga. Many people are now growing weary of the whole thing.

There are grave issues raised and the South West Surrey MP has many questions still to answer. In a democracy it is crucial that the opposition challenges and questions vigorously and I will continue to do so.

At the same time we need to present our positive policies for the way forward.

A Positive Way Forward

Our country and indeed the whole world faces very serious matters, including the economic crisis and climate change to name but two.

I would love to see the main political leaders in our country coming together to address some of the more intractable issues, but the nature of our current political system works against such a consensus approach. You might expect me, as a Lib Dem, to say that we need a new voting system, but more and more people of all political parties and of none, are calling for ‘electoral reform’. Click here for the campaign for electoral reform which is gaining such momentum.

The current system of voting is a kind of ‘winner takes all’ system which usually leads to huge majorities in Parliament for one or other of the main parties. If they think the mood is swinging their way then, of course, they don’t want to change the system! Labour obtained a large majority at the last election on the back of just 22% of the electorate voting for them (and only 35% of those who actually voted). That can’t be right.

But it’s not just unfair on the 65% who voted for other parties. It is also bad for our country, because it leads to disenchantment with politics. This is because it appears that the only voters who really matter are those in a handful of marginal constituencies where the election could go either way. “What’s the point in voting. It doesn’t change anything”, many people say across the rest of the country.

I believe the time is ripe for major reform and the core of that reform must be a fairer voting system.

My Reform Agenda

There are some major reforms needed. They include rolling back the ‘Big Brother’ state, stronger privacy laws for ordinary people, scrapping ID cards, enshrining freedom of speech and religion, a fully elected House of Lords, making the government much more accountable, fixed-term Parliaments and dispersing power to the most local possible level. My speech to secure my selection by Lib Dem members in South West Surrey in March was almost entirely focussed on these issues. After the last few weeks I think the case for radical reform has never been stronger in my lifetime. I would love to hear your views on these matters.

Click here for Mike’s main website

Mike Simpson Liberal Democrat candidate for South West Surrey in the May 2010 General Election

Who would be an M.P. these days? It’s a hard life for them travelling between multiple residences, having to submit expense claims for every can of cat food or bag of manure, arranging to have one’s swimming pool cleaned on the state… and all for a salary of just £64,000 plus tax free expenses which are embarrassingly splashed across the front pages.

Once upon a time it was an honour to be elected as a Member of Parliament. The scandal that has been rightly exposed over the last week or so is no joke. We need to shake up our whole political system and make politicians much more accountable for their behaviour. Part of the problem is the fact that MPs seem to expect to live a privileged existence at taxpayers’ expense.

There are of course good M.P.s in all Parties, but not enough of them understand ordinary people’s lives and struggles.

When there are such dire economic circumstances and we face so many huge challenges, it is critical that people can trust their elected representatives to act honourably and without duplicity. It is clearly not good enough for M.P.s to say, ‘I kept to the rules’, because they drew up the rules allowing themselves to rip off the taxpayers. It is especially galling when the rest of us have to tighten our belts.

I aspire to be the M.P. for South West Surrey, but the torrent of shocking news about M.P.’s expenses makes me wonder how few people will even turn out to vote at the next General Election. The number of people using the phrase, ‘You’re all as bad as each other’ is likely to rocket and who can blame people for thinking that?

The problem is that the political class don’t want to give up any of their power or the accompanying perks. They have the same attitude as the top bankers who have so comprehensively messed up our economy. We must challenge the politicians and make them genuinely accountable to the public, because they, along with the bankers, have failed us so spectacularly. Challenging those in power, particularly for the sake of the less powerful, is one reason why I am in politics. And I still believe it can be a noble profession.

You can read more about my background and experience by clicking ‘About Mike Simpson’

Mike Simpson has been selected as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey. He secured 80% of the votes of party members.

Mike says, “Now the real work begins – winning the votes of the people of South West Surrey. I don’t underestimate how much hard work I will have to put in to achieve that, but I think increasingly people are having doubts about the desirability of having another Tory government. The Liberal Democrats are certainly coming up in the opinion polls and that’s partly because we have consistently shown wisdom in our economic policies and a strong standing with the public on environmental and civil liberties issues.”

Mike Simpson writes: Ken Clarke, the man the Tories rejected 3 times for leader, set off a round of infighting in the Conservative Party over the weekend. He said that the Tory promise to end inheritance tax for all but millionaires was now only “an aspiration” which the party hoped to get around to “sooner or later”. This immediately started a panic in Tory party headquarters (and no doubt in many local Conservative party branches where the inheritance tax pledge had been welcomed by the right wing of the party).

On Monday a series of leading Tories sought to clarify the position. They say they will cut inheritance tax if elected, no matter what other pressures there are on the government’s finances. Ken was forced to back down. The true nature of Tory economic policy has been exposed. With the government massively in debt, the Tory priority, if they were elected, would be to cut taxes for the better off. With falling house prices it is a very small group who would benefit from their proposals, given that the Labour Government have already changed the inheritance tax threshold (for married couples there is no inheritance tax on estates left of up to £600,000).

You might think that in the current economic climate a pledge to help the well-off would be a low priority given that there are already 2 million out of work and millions more deeply in debt. By the time of the General Election (probably in a year from now) there are likely to be 3 million out of work and many people having their homes repossessed. I remember how brutal the economic policy of the Conservatives was in past recessions, so their current policy is no surprise to me. In the 80’s and 90’s there were savage cuts in public services and yet the rich were gifted huge tax cuts. It is right to say that now there should be higher priorities than further cuts to inheritance tax, but the Tory party has not really changed. Their instinct is to slash services for the vulnerable whilst reducing taxes for the better-off. So much for the new caring image of the party!

As we approach the next election I predict that the focus of political debate will increasingly be on what is to be done in respect of the deplorable state of the government’s finances. Liberal Democrats must continue to fight for a fair tax system and for heavy government funding in several key areas including education, the NHS, support for the elderly and vulnerable and for our green agenda (which by the way will create new jobs). We cannot spare resources for more tax cuts for the well-off at a time of such economic pain for ordinary people.

In the recession some recyclable materials are piling up as the market price plummets.

The introduction of fortnightly bin collections in Waverley shortly before the 2007 Council elections was one reason our Party fared so badly in that election, especially as many residents believed the Tories were promising to bring back weekly collections. Even the Tories own website quotes one resident saying, “It was with hope that the Conservatives would make a significant change to the re-cycling arrangements that many people voted for them. This clearly is not going to happen and is very disappointing”.

Mike Simpson says, “The public feel misled by the Tories over waste collections. There is still a lot of anger on this issue especially in the recent winter weather when many bins were not emptied for 4 weeks! Local papers were full of complaints.”

Read more about Mike Simpson

Today is the start of my campaign to win the support of the people of Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and the many villages in the beautiful Surrey countryside that surrounds these towns.

‘Support for what?’ you might ask.

I guess I hope to find support for a principled approach to politics which doesn’t bend with the wind of fashion or expediency.

That includes supporting:

  • economic common sense and intelligent banking!
  • all those hit hard by the financial crisis;
  • the elderly and our young people who face such an uncertain future;
  • plans to tackle world environmental crises as well as the world recession;
  • freedom of the individual and minimising government control over our choices and our lives;
  • quality education which is probably the most important means of enhancing equality of opportunity;
  • our NHS services so easily put at risk by meddling politicians and
  • justice and moral integrity in our foreign affairs.

This is one way of stating why I’m in politics. This blog will tell you more as the weeks go by.

(see ‘About Mike Simpson’ for personal history)