Home | Future Events | Previous Events | People | Articles | Reviews | AboutUs

POLITICS in PUBS Newcastle

Does the UK need Reform?
Notes from meeting held on 14 November 2023
Introduction by Steve Alder

We have a broken country, built by broken politicians, supported by a broken establishment and formed using a broken political system. The first step to recovery is the realisation that you have a problem!

PiPs Newcastle met at The Telegraph pub to discuss Reform UK's plans and policies to make Britain great. The introductory talk was given local Reform candidate, Steve Alder, who outlined several critical problems to which Reform UK offers fully costed solutions.

The economy has stagnated for the past 20 years, our tax burden is the highest in living memory and a record number of people are claiming benefits. We are not productive enough as a nation and have become addicted to cheap overseas labour. The Bank of England keeps on printing money as national debt rises. This is not sustainable. Reform UK propose to stimulate economic growth by reducing waste and cutting taxes, including raising the thresholds for income tax and corporation tax.

The NHS is a wonderful idea which has been ruined by its management and institutional ideologies. Reform UK have the bold ambition of achieving zero waiting lists in two years by incentivising staff retention and making use of the private sector where necessary.

Our energy policy is making the country poorer and colder thanks to the political class's obsession with carbon. Their determination to win the 'race' to net zero is simply making us dependent on imported electricity and gas. Reform UK would declare a national emergency under which the Government could take control of UK energy production pricing to provide immediate relief for households and businesses. In the longer term, affordable pricing would be ensured by increasing domestic energy supply, including shale gas and small modular nuclear reactors.

Our institutions are plagued by nepotism, lack of accountability and inefficiency. Reform UK propose a suite of measures including abolishing the BBC licence fee, making the House of Lords properly representative, and overhauling the Civil Service. Crucially, they propose reform of the political system to salvage democracy. Reform UK would introduce proportional representation to give the electorate more choice and better debate, and tighten up the postal voting system to combat fraud and restore trust.

Some of Steve's fellow party members then spoke on key areas of focus for the 2024 general election.

Chris Hylton talked about the need for a proper Brexit, harnessing the advantages of being able to trade freely with the world. Labour want an even closer relationship with the EU. David Cameron's surprising resurrection the day before this meeting suggests that the Tories do too - very unwelcome news to Red Wall voters. Reform UK would deliver a clean Brexit by leaving fully and negotiating from a neutral position.

Michael Harrigan outlined Reform UK's eye-catching target of Net Zero immigration. For the past two years, the Conservative government has imported over a million people a year, putting immense strain on public services and housing. Despite repeated promises to cut immigration 'to the tens of thousands', they changed visa rules to flood the country with low-skilled workers and students plus dependents. They have also failed utterly to protect our borders from illegal arrivals, costing the taxpayer £8m a day in hotel costs alone, and threatening the safety of our communities. Reform UK would grant entry to those with high level skills in tightly controlled numbers to meet requirements, while taking a zero tolerance approach to illegal immigration.

Lily Osborne gave an excellent talk about safeguarding children, confirming our worst fears about what is going on in schools today. In recent years, we have seen the culture wars playing out in our classrooms. Schools are focussing less on education and more on indoctrination, as children are exposed to fashionable but unsubstantiated ideologies such as critical race theory and gender identity theory. This is divisive and potentially extremely harmful. Reform UK will ensure that schools focus on their core purpose of preparing children for a competitive, challenging world whilst protecting them from age-inappropriate sex education and gender questioning.

The timing could not have been better for this meeting - Reform UK were polling in double figures and had just enjoyed a surge in membership from those abandoning the Tory Party in droves after the sacking of Suella Braverman and the revelations in her letter to the Prime Minister.

The ensuing debate was lively and covered broad discussion about problems with the UK's political system as well as specific questions about Reform UK's policies. Participants came from different political backgrounds and some supported other parties, but all agreed with Steve's introduction about the range and gravity of problems facing us.

Many agreed on the need for proportional representation, which has been shown to help overcome voter apathy and increase turnout by 7-10%. It was suggested that the best way to introduce PR would be to start with local government elections.

The Reform UK representatives were challenged about the lack of a housing policy on their website, as this is a critical problem facing the UK, stifling growth, entrenching inequality and preventing family formation. They responded that their housing policy will be published as part of their manifesto and will address these issues. They are delaying making some of their policies public to prevent the Conservatives from stealing them!

Having discussed some of the problems in schools, participants asked about Reform UK's approach to higher education. One innovative proposal is to reduce some degree courses from three to two years, getting students into the workforce more quickly which would benefit them and the economy. They would also increase access to apprenticeships, as many young people are better off learning through work than accruing debt at university.

Would Reform UK need to repeal any legislation to achieve their aims? In some cases, yes - we agreed we would be glad to see the back of the 2016 amendment to the Climate Change Act which enshrined net zero targets in law. But in many cases, it is simply a case of changing how the law is interpreted and applied.

And finally, the elephant in the room. At both the Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire by-elections in October, the vote for Reform UK was bigger than Labour's majority. Is a vote for Reform simply gifting the election to Labour? Maybe, replied Steve, but the Tories can't be rewarded for 13 years of absolute failure and betrayal. A Labour government may mean five years of pain (although they can't be much worse than the Tories on tax or immigration) but it is something we have to go through to bring about much-needed political change in the long run.

For too long, Labour and Conservatives have stayed in power thanks to the politics of fear, persuading voters that the other party would be worse. We agreed that a vote for a smaller party is never wasted - it is better to vote for what you believe in, rather than against what you fear. After all, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity!

Paula Lightfoot, 2023

For a full list of Reform UK's policies, visit www.reformparty.uk

Lily Osborne has kindly agreed to introduce a future PiPS Newcastle meeting dedicated to the subject of culture wars indoctrination in schools – keep an eye on this website or follow us @PiPsorgNE on X for further details.

More information about Politics in Pubs can be found here: politicsinpubs.org.uk

Click here for more information about POLITICS in PUBS Newcastle

If you find this interesting, consider joining The Great Debate facebook group or visit The Great Debate facebook page.
Follow us on Twitter: @greatdebateuk

Top of page

Home | Future Events | Previous Events | People | Articles | Reviews | AboutUs

© C J M Hewett, 2023