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Douglas Carswell's Blog

29 APR 2016

The Left cannot deal with anti-Semitism until it makes peace with Israel

What is it with Labour and anti-Semitism? All parties have bad eggs – mine is no exception. But anti-Semitism is a persistent problem on the British Left. Why?

Part of the issue is political opportunism. There are sectors of the electorate where taking an ostensibly anti-Israel, essentially anti-Semitic, stance is a vote-winner. The Left is not immune from pandering to prejudice.

But let's face it: plenty of those caught out in recent weeks weren't pandering. They said what they actually believed.

The problem is that the postmodern, post-nationalist Left has an issue with the idea of national self-determination. And no modern country embodies that more than Israel.

Right now, Jews are celebrating Passover. Every year, for over two millennia, Jews have marked it with the words "next year in Jerusalem." With the foundation of Israel in 1948, that hope finally became a reality.

But Israel isn't just the fulfilment of an ancient national project. It's also an incredible modern success story. 60 years ago, it was a developing, agricultural country. Today, it has a sophisticated, high-tech economy – making Intel microchips and cutting-edge cancer drugs. Its GDP per capita is over six times higher today than it was in 1950.

Israel's success is the reason many left-wingers hate it. Israel has gone from strength to strength. Many on the Left saw national self-determination as an outdated relic. Israel has proved them wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn claims he'll deal with anti-Semitism in his party. But until he deals with the endemic anti-Zionism nothing will change. If the Left is serious about stamping out anti-Semitism, it needs to make peace with the idea of national self-determination.


28 APR 2016

Brussels is strangling small business

EU red tape costs small business billions. The PM's renegotiation was meant to lift the burden of EU regulation on SMEs. It failed. The only way to set small businesses free is to vote Leave.

Small business is the core of Britain's economy. It accounts for 47% of private sector turnover, and 60% of private sector employment. It's also often the source of the disruptive innovation that produces economic progress. Better conditions for SMEs means more jobs and more prosperity.

But Brussels is holding small business back. EU legislation covers every area of commerce. Packaging goods? Check you've complied with EU standards. Designing an appliance? Make sure you've followed the eco-design directive. Selling food? Don't forget to put the right EU-approved label on it.

The burden falls heaviest on SMEs. Big corporations can afford entire compliance departments to apply the rules – and expensive lobbyists to write them in the first place. SMEs don't have the same resources. The EU lets the big players keep out competition by rigging the market.

EU red tape costs our economy hundreds of billions of pounds – according to the Government's own figures. Based on official impact assessments, the annual cost of EU regulation is over £33 billion.

That's only part of it. Factor in quotas and trade barriers too, and the bill is much higher. In 2005, the Treasury estimated that these cost European consumers up to 7% of GDP – which for Britain comes to £125 billion a year. That's £4,639 per household, or £23,236 per company.

EU trade makes up 10% of our economy. But 79% of British businesses exclusively cater to the domestic market. Why should EU red tape apply to 100% of our economy?

To free small business, create jobs, and grow our economy, we need to repeal restrictive regulation. We can only do that outside the EU.


28 APR 2016

Want more bobbies on the beat? Vote for it!

People often say we need more bobbies on the beat. Now you have the chance to make that happen. Next week's PCC elections make the police directly accountable to the people they serve.

The idea of elected sheriffs – which I first proposed some 14 years ago – isn't just about police accountability. It's also about localism. Different regions have different issues with crime. Local people need the right to determine local police priorities.

PCCs faced a lot of criticism when they were introduced four years ago. But they've proved the doubters wrong. Best of all, they have overthrown ACPO – the quango that used to set one-size-fits-all policy from the top down. Localism is working.

And PCCs are only going to get better. In 2012, the election turnout was low, as people weren't sure how the new system was going to work. Now people are familiar with the system, and can judge the incumbents on their records, elections will be harder fought, and turnout will be higher. More public engagement means better policing.

If locally elected police chiefs work, why stop there? Plenty of public services are still centrally directed by remote bureaucrats in Whitehall. What if we had locally elected transport, environment, or health commissioners too? What if we gave people direct control over the public services they receive?

Localism is a question of trust. Do you trust the Gentlemen in Whitehall – or Brussels – to know what's best for you? Or do you trust yourself? Better public services will come from more direct democracy.


27 APR 2016

Eurocrats or doctors? That's the referendum choice

The NHS is strapped for cash – and I don't just mean junior doctors' pay. Clacton's Peter Bruff ward, which provides essential mental health services, is being shut just to save a few quid. But instead of more funds for healthcare, Britain sends £350 million a week to the EU.

Health may be a protected Government budget, but it isn't half as protected as our tribute to Brussels. In 2009, Britain's EU membership fee was £14 billion. By 2015, it was £18 billion. This year, it's forecast to be over £20 billion.

Where does that money end up?

Increasingly, in officials' pockets.

Doctors may be facing pay restraint, but the same can't be said for Eurocrats. In EU institutions, above inflation annual pay rises are a matter of course. Extra allowances and gold-plated pensions come as standard. To cap it all, EU officials pay a special, discounted rate of tax.

Self-serving Euro elites live in luxury on money extorted from European taxpayers, while paying only a pittance themselves. Isn't this what the peoples of Europe revolted against 200 years ago?

By voting Leave, we can reclaim our taxpayers' money to spend on our priorities. £350 million a week makes a lot possible. The junior doctors' impasse could be solved in just one fortnight – with no more lives risked by walk-outs.

Do we fund better healthcare, or more modern-day Marie Antoinettes? It's your choice.


26 APR 2016

UKIP stands up for steel

For Britain's economy as a whole, steel is important. But for the economy of South Wales – where I'll be today – it's crucial. Losing the steel industry would be devastating. But that's what could happen if we stay in the EU.

Brussels makes it much harder for British steelmakers to do business. The EU's anti-fossil-fuel directives and regulations have driven up energy costs – and heavy industry is paying the price.

While Chinese manufacturers make the most of cheap power, fuel costs for ours have rocketed. EU interference in our energy market is making it impossible for our industry to compete.

The EU also stops us taking action to keep our steel industry afloat.

Tata's Port Talbot steelworks pays close to £10 million in business rates every year. But EU state-aid rules prohibit the Welsh Government from materially reducing that bill. Thanks to Brussels, we can't cut our own taxes, even when they're meant to be devolved to Wales.

Overproduction of steel in China is making it especially difficult for British steelmakers to break even. But, as EU members, we can't take action against Chinese steel dumping.

So what could we do if Britain leaves the EU?

To give our steel industry a sustainable future, we need to give our manufacturers the freedom to compete. That means lowering their taxes, and cutting their energy bills.

The Remainers talk about the 'economic benefits' of the EU as if they are spread equally. In reality, the gains are restricted to an elite few.


25 APR 2016

Let's make June 23rd a real independence day

Independence Day 2 will be released in Britain on referendum day - June 23rd. Trailers show London being destroyed by an alien invasion. Like any Hollywood blockbuster, no doubt the humans eventually win. Will we take back our independence in real life too?

In the myriad films about an alien conquest, the assumption is always that Earth is better off independent. No one ever says, "these aliens will give us access to a galactic market; maybe surrendering our planetary sovereignty wouldn't be so bad."

Millions of movie-goers pay to watch fictional characters fight for their freedom against impossible odds. But our real-life leaders have grown much more timorous.

The Defence Secretary says we can't fight wars on our own anymore.

The Chancellor tells us – perhaps from personal experience – we can't successfully manage our own economy.

The Prime Minister flies in foreign leaders to tell us the world will put us on the naughty step if we don't do as we're told.

Project Fear's case for staying in the EU is rooted in defeatism. Never mind that Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and a permanent member of the UN Security Council; we're told we're too small to go it alone. President Obama's message to Britain is, "No You Can't."

The trouble with defeatism is that it's self-fulfilling. Britain is not a subservient satellite state, but it will become one if we surrender our future and our freedom to the failing European project.

Unlike Will Smith and his 2016 successors, we're not facing insurmountable odds. A vote to leave the EU is a vote to become an independent, sovereign country again – like most other countries beyond Europe's borders. It's a vote for the safety and security that comes with control.

Let's kick our alien overlords out, and make June 23rd a real independence day.


22 APR 2016

Brexit will sow the seeds of change

My vegetable garden in Clacton is where I go to escape politics. With the EU referendum looming, I rarely get much chance to go there. But even when I do, I recently discovered I can't escape Brussels.

You see, I recently ordered some seeds from realseeds.co.uk. It's a small, independent business which sells a huge variety of open-pollinated seeds for proper vegetables – not the hybrid seeds behind the tasteless produce sold by big, corporate supermarkets.

But it turns out the European Commission wanted to introduce a new EU Seed Law to regulate the varieties of seeds that could be sold.

What possible justification for EU regulation of trade in vegetable seeds could there possibly be?

The EU's assault on seed was classic Commission corporatism. In every industry, small firms that can't afford lobbyists and compliance departments get crowded out by Big Business buddying up with Brussels bureaucrats to rig the rules.

Gardeners of Britain, Vote Leave! (And buy lots of seeds from small, independent producers .....)


21 APR 2016

Brexit will create more and better jobs

Unemployment is up. Project Fear predictably points the finger at the prospect of Brexit. But to create not just more but better jobs, we need controlled immigration, less business regulation, and more free trade. For that, we have to vote Leave.

Unemployment may still be low, but for many people in Britain it's not easy to find a job. EU free movement rules have hugely increased the labour supply, as millions of EU nationals have come to the UK in search of higher pay. In-work tax credits and the rising minimum wage have only added to the incentive.

Because the labour supply is limitless, wages have stagnated – particularly at the lower end of the labour market. People applying for those jobs are facing more competition for less reward.

Open-door immigration is one of the reasons Britain's economic 'recovery' has been so unconvincing. The combination of zombie banks and a cheap workforce has pushed businesses to be labour, rather than capital, intensive. Instead of investing in new technology to become more efficient, companies have relied on low-wage workers. Consequently, our productivity has also stagnated.

The EU is an obstacle to productivity in other ways too. Reams of business regulation prevents innovation, and costs British businesses an estimated £600 million every week. Trade barriers stop us accessing expanding global markets beyond the borders of the world's only declining trading bloc.

If we leave the EU, we can rebalance our economy. We can have a fair, points-based immigration system, which prioritises high-skilled labour that complements capital, rather than low-skilled labour that acts as a substitute for it. We can repeal the regulation holding our business back. We can enable our companies to go global.

Controlled immigration, faster innovation, and wider trade means not just more jobs, but better-paid jobs too. Make it happen: vote Leave.


20 APR 2016

We don't need EU membership to have European friends

Last week, I visited Świdnica – Clacton's Polish twin - for the first time. Our bilateral ties prove something important: we don't need to be in the EU to be have strong friendships in Europe.

Świdnica has a fascinating history. For most of the last 500 years, it has been under foreign rule.

In the late 14th century, it moved from Polish to Czech control. In the 16th century, the Austrian Habsburgs took over. In the 18th century, it was annexed by Prussia. It was returned to Poland at the end of World War II, only to be part of a Communist USSR satellite state. It wasn't until the fall of Communism that Świdnica was truly restored to independent Polish rule again.

Yet Świdnica is also a monument to national sovereignty. Its most famous building is the Church of the Peace, which commemorates the Peace of Westphalia. Those peace treaties created the Westphalian system of sovereign nation states that underpins international law to this day.

I went to Świdnica – courtesy of Sky News - to talk about the referendum. Because of the EU, national sovereignty is under threat. Foreign rule is reasserting itself in both Clacton and Świdnica, only this time it's bureaucrats in Brussels in charge.

The EU's erosion of national sovereignty doesn't just motivate Brexiteers in Britain. It worries Poles too. Poland has just elected a Eurosceptic government. When you think about the history of a town like Świdnica, you can understand why. The Remain campaign's pretence that everyone in Europe is passionately pro-EU except us is just not true.

Taking back control from Brussels doesn't mean cutting Britain off from Europe. It means a different relationship with Europe. Ties based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not customs union rules and common laws.

The wonderful people I met in Świdnica made it crystal clear that, whatever happens in the referendum, our friendship won't change.


19 APR 2016

UKIP is the party of Gladstonian liberalism

"All the world over, I will back the masses against the classes," said William Gladstone. Only one party in Britain stands with the people against establishment elites today. That party is UKIP.

It's because UKIP is the closest party to Gladstonian liberalism today that this picture of the Grand Old Man appears in our Welsh manifesto.

UKIP – like Gladstone – stands for freedom. Like him, we're against a big, intrusive state. We oppose punitive taxation and economic central planning. We support individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Like Gladstone, UKIP stands for putting power in the hands of the people. In his day, that meant expanding the franchise. In ours, that means more devolution – not just to the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, but to cities and towns, and ultimately to families and individuals. It means calling for referenda – like the one we're having on June 23rd.

Like Gladstone, UKIP stands for free trade. We don't support protectionist trade blocs with trade barriers against goods from the rest of the world. We want Britain to leave the EU, and open up new trade links to the rest of the world.

It was Gladstone who introduced Irish Home Rule. Proposing the bill, Gladstone told Parliament: "we have proposed this measure because Ireland wants to make her own laws."

UKIP is the only party that believes Britain should make her own laws, and that the government of Britain should be solely accountable to the British people. Gladstone is rightly our inspiration.


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