the brilliantly leaping gazelle

My election notes. E-Day +3

TM

 

I’ll admit it, she nearly has me fooled, her impression of a leader who was courageous and unafraid. All of her campaign – almost presidential – went to great lengths to draw an unflattering comparison between the supposed weaknesses of Jeremy Corbyn against the steely determination of Teresa May. It was only when it was actually tested however, that we saw her for what she really is.

She reminds me of second rate criminal in a third rate Hollywood film, who even when the cops confront her with overwhelming evidence of her crimes and arrest her, refuses to accept the new reality in which she funds herself and in her deluded state, makes plans on that basis. In what possible universe does Teresa May think her repeated claims of ‘strong and stable’ leadership is anything other than as questionable as it is illusory?

It is almost as laughable as her agreement ‘in principle’ to enter into a deal with the D.U.P. Principled? She has shown herself to have none – well one, if you consider clinging on to power like a chubnut a principle – whilst the D.U.P have principles certainly, just some distasteful ones. So if Mays campaign thought it was fair enough to repeatedly attempt to smear Corbyn with the utterly fallacious claim that he was a terrorist sympathiser, what are we to make of her doing a deal ‘in principle’ with a hard-line political party that has links to one of Northern Irelands former loyalist paramilitary groups?

What about her claim that because Corbyn met Gerry Adams that he was in some way unfit to be Prime Minister? This rather continently overlooks the rather uncomfortable historical fact that years earlier, the British government was holding ‘back channel’ talks with the I.R.A. that helped bring about the Good Friday agreement. Indeed her even countenancing entering into talks with the D.U.P, let alone sending her Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, to discuss what the terms might be not only underline how manifestly unsuitable she is to conduct any Brexit negotiations – possibly being beholden to the D.U.P and the E.U knowing it. But it also demonstrates her willingness to put at risk the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence How this is so – and what might happen if it does is explained with greater insight than me here.

Teresa May is to ‘strong and stable leadership’ what prayer is to, well anything really. As she’ll find out when an ‘in principle’ agreement with extreme god botherers falls apart. In fact by the time you read this, it might have fallen apart already!

My election notes. E-Day + 2

CT

Teresa May, on the campaign trail, issued dire warnings about a supposed ‘coaltion of chaos’ – one that existed only in her head – if the electorate didn’t vote in the Conservatives with a large enough majority. According to the Daily Telegraph:

Britain will be run by a “coalition of chaos” if voters are tempted by a plan by Nicola Sturgeon for a “progressive alliance” of SNP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Theresa May  has warned.

Funnily enough, David Cameron used the same schtick in 2015. As the BBC reported at the time:

Tory leader David Cameron has urged the electorate in Scotland not to vote for the Labour/SNP “coalition of chaos”.

“You have a weak Labour Party, who want more spending, more borrowing, more debt and more taxes.

“And the people who will prop them up, the SNP – who want even more spending, more borrowing, more debt and more taxes.

“Together, they pose a clear threat to the future of our United Kingdom. A coalition of chaos.”

The coalition of chaos is now an unfortunate political reality. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious, that for years the Conservative party has been trying to rebrand itself as more inclusive, more tolerant and more representative of the people it wanted to vote for them; only to enter into a coalition with the D.U.P, the very opposite of tolerant and inclusive.

I presume if your reading this, you’ll already be familiar with the reasons why the D.U.P are the political equivalent of Bernard Manning so I won’t tell you what you already know.

But really what has the election changed? Does this feel like ‘strong and stable leadership’ to anyone? Or just weak and feeble naked political opportunism? They say that times of crisis can bring out the best in people. If this is the best Teresa May has got, then we’re well sarded!

My election notes. E-Day + 1

LF

I posted yesterday that I would be live-blogging my reactions to the general election results and I did – and thankfully, I couldn’t. To save power on my computer, I turned off Safari and wrote down my thoughts, but when I tried to turn Safari on to upload them at 06.17 this morning, I got the spinning wheel of doom.

In much the same way as Teresa Mays gamble to call an election hasn’t paid off, neither did mine. Which was just as well for me, given how much my writing was as champagne-tastic as I was.

Here are a couple of witterings;

 02.36 – Zoe Williams, her off the Guardian, was just on ITV, which it pains me to write, is providing far superior election coverage than the BBC. Anyway Zoe is damning Corbyn with faint praise. Much like the Guardian, really.

02.47: HOORAY! Nick – I’m Sorry, I’m So So Sorry – Clegg has lost his seat. Good, very very good.

And this,

03.20 – teresa may has retained her seat. Giving her acceptance speech, she has the rather embarrassed look of someone who thinks everyone else in the lift suspects her letting off a really smelly fart.

04.10 – Chuka Umuna, has given a likewarm at best endiresemnt of Cornyn. That would be the guy who stood for the Labour leadership, only to withdraw, citing media intrusion into his private life. What in the name of sanity did he expect? No media interest in a possible leader of the opposition?

Which sort of typified the reaction of people within the Parliamentary Labour Party. MP’s who were quite happy to heap scorn on Corbyns avowedly left-wing manifesto as being much too much of a throwback to traditional Labour values, were astounded at the support the public gave it. They sought to credit everyone except Jeremy Corbyn. Just imagine if he took a leaf out of Harold Saxon’s book?

 

 

04.53 – My partner just made a good point. She doubts the unity of Labour MP’s during the election – staying on message, not embarrassing the leadership, etc – will last very long.

05.08 – this has been my best election night EVER. With the Blair landslide in ’97 there was always an element of pessimism; inasmuch as the then Labour party was Conservative-lite in not being too Labour. But this? A Labour party that has rediscovered itself meaning that voters have rediscovered Labour.

But I woke up to the news that Teresa May is clinging on to power with help of the DUP. She is like a wounded animal, crawling away from the hunters, refusing to accept the inevitable, forlornly hoping against hope that death isn’t going visit her soon.

Paul Johnson, the deputy editor of the Guardian has tweeted that;

DUP

-Climate deniers

-Anti abortion

-Anti LGBT rights

-Pro Brexit.

And May says will govern for all nation.

If a deal is struck, it’s one that has longevity written all over it and doesn’t smell of naked political opportinism?

In what possible universe does she even think she has an endorsement from the public? Is she as stubborn as she is deluded? Only 68.7% of people bothered to vote, so what was it that the remaining 32.3% were doing? What was both so urgent and time consuming, eh? Not voting is in itself a de facto vote, as it can have unforeseen consequences. And of those that did vote only 42.4% voted for her.

I’ll stop now, methinks, as I’m still a bit champagne-tastic as my thoughts – muddled and not fully formed as they are – amply demonstate

My election notes. E-Day!

vr2

As ‘The The’ would have it;

This is the day, your life will surely change
This is the day, when things fall into place

 

Because this indeed is the day. Never before in my generation has the choice facing the electorate been starker. The choice is between two competing visions of how we think our society should be structured. And there is a choice once again, for Labour under Corbyn has regained what it lost under Blair.

For me it’s about fundamental values.

For me, it’s easy.

For me, it’s Labour.

 

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And being the sadsack I am, I’ll be staying up to watch the results come in on the BBC.

I mean, who watches ITV?

Anyway, I’ll be drinking champagne whilst eating pickled onion Monster Munch and intermittently blogging. As I get progressively more champagne-tastic, so my spelling will get worse.

I just hope it isn’t 1992 all over again….

 

My election notes. E-Day -1

The news yesterday that Teresa May would, if elected,

 Change human rights laws if they “get in the way” of tackling terror suspects.

She said she wants to do more to restrict the freedom of those posing a threat and to deport foreign suspects.

The UK could seek opt-outs from the European Convention on Human Rights, which it has abided by since 1953

This makes me think if this blog I wrote three years ago about privacy; specifically it focused on the dichotomy between why politicians claim they are needed, under what circumstances they’ll be used and on whom and the practical implementation of them. Politicians are not in the habit of increasing our civil liberties.

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I’d always supposed Saudi Arabia to be joyless kind of place. But it seems I was wrong! The ruling elite there in fact do posses a keen sense of irony. Who knew? It wasn’t so much that Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the UN women’s rights committee, meaning that it is now one of 45 countries sitting on a panel

promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women

That was laughably absurd, rather like putting a fox in charge of security for a chicken coop. But it was their cutting of diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday because Qatar that really put the matter beyond doubt. The BBC reported that;

Broadly, two key factors drove Monday’s decision: Qatar’s ties to Islamist groups, and to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

Wealthy individuals in Qatar are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria – Qatar says this is not the case.

Mmm. Would that be the same Saudi Arabia which it is claimed “remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban…and other terrorist groups” according to the US government? Or the same Saudi Arabia which has funded thousands of madras’s throughout the Middle East – schools that promote the kind of extremist version of Islam that leads to terrorist atrocities?  

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One of the things that baffled me the most at the start of this election campaign was the gap between the parties in the polls. Now I’ve been very dismissive of the polls, but all of them showed that Conservatives had a seemingly unassailable lead. One or two might be wrong, but all of them? The media were complicit in this, especially the print media, in depicting Jeremy Corbyn as a nice enough chap, but nowhere near competent enough to lead our country. And I’m thinking, ‘We’ve had years of austerity, yet wealth inequality is greater than it has been, public services are facing a funding shortfall yet tax avoidance, evasion, call it what you will is rampant, tax cuts for the rich are funded by cuts to disabled peoples benefits. If this were France, there would’ve been riots. Proper riots, not the looting of a few years ago. How in the name of sanity aren’t Labour streets ahead?’

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The first time Moby had bothered my ears was with the superb ‘Go’. It was magnificent! For me, it’s a sonic time machine that immediately takes me back to dancing like a maddo, in some dingy club with sweat dripping off the ceiling. The next time Moby bothered my ears was with the release of his ‘Everything is Wrong’ album. This was an altogether different proposition. Certainly it was danceable – the singles ‘Feeling So Real’ and ‘Everytime You Touch Me’ prove that, especially the remixes – but it was aimed more at the weekend raver, people who drank alcohol when clubbing. Next I knew was ‘Play’ an album that was so chart friendly, so far removed from ‘Go’, that every single track on the album was licensed for use in commercials. He’d literally sold out.

The Liberal Democrats are the same. For decades they managed to somehow pull the unenviable political trick of being in the political wilderness with no prospect of being elected into government, whilst simultaneously having worthily earnest manfesto’s, that people liked, just not enough people liked them. One might say that one begat the other. So in the 2015 election, the electorate voted them into a coalition with the Conservatives.

Soon it became all too apparent that they were just as venal and self-serving as the public imagines politicians to be. They had sold out in the same way I thought Moby had.

 

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This afternoon (last Thursday) typified the faults inherent the present first past the post system of electing a government. I had rather naively put up in a window a poster advertising my support of the Labour party but someone else in the house saw it, pointed out that they were going to vote Liberal Democrat and that some discussion might be needed on the matter. My initial reaction was best, I thought, kept to myself. But then I reflected on the fact that we live in a safe Labour seat -( a 26,000 majority in 2010) – and therefore any votes for any other party are basically wasted. As I have noted before in the 2015 election the Conservatives got 36.1 per cent of the vote which means that more people voted against them than voted for them.

The situation could have been changed in 2011, when a Liberal Democrat manifesto promise became a reality upon entering into a coalition government with the Conservatives. They proposed a referendum on proportional representation – basically every vote counts and the overall total of votes is translated into seats in parliament; essentially every vote counts. However, the Conservatives, sensing a sudden reversal in their electoral chances, chose a complicated method of proportional representation to put to the public vote. Their friends in the press did the rest. A vote for change to the electoral system was a vote for chaos, it was suggested. They also decided for added apathy to have it on the same day as local elections, notorious for their low turn out and those that did turn out to vote, voted against any change.

This situation reminds me of the recent French elections. Whilst Macron might well have got 66% of eligible votes in the second round,

The dust is slowly settling and the numbers are being tallied. While the standout figure suggests a big win for Emmanuel Macron, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the second round.

The following results are based on 99.99 percent of the votes being counted, and come from the interior ministry.

Macron gets 66 percent of the vote

Emmanuel Macron won 66.1 percent of the votes, leaving Marine Le Pen with 33.9 percent. That was a much bigger gap than the last polls suggested which had Macron at 62 percent.

Closer examination reveals that;

According to official results, the abstention rate stood at 25.38 percent – the highest since the presidential election in 1969.

That means some 12 million voters did not vote in the election, three million more abstainers than in 2012, when the turnout was 80 percent.

Among the abstainers it was the young (34%) and the unemployed (35%) who had the highest abstention figures.

Four million cast blank votes

The interior ministry reported a record number of blank and invalid ballots, accounting for 8.49 percent of all registered voters, compared to two percent in the first round.

So that means four million French voters went to the polls to cast a blank vote. That’s two million more than in 2012.

So adding the blanks to the abstentions, a third of French voters declined to choose between Macron and Le Pen — a record rate in nearly half a century.

In other words out of 47 million voters, some 16 million declined to cast a vote for either candidate. That’s compared to 11 million in 2012.

“That would make a total of one French person out of three who decided not to choose between the two candidates. It’s really a lot for a presidential election,” Anne Jadot, political science professor at the University of Lorraine, told AFP.

So if we look at the votes overall Marine Le Pen actually finished in third place on Sunday, behind Macron and abstentions/blank votes.

Macron picked up 43.6 percent of the vote (20.7 million votes), ahead of the 34 percent (16 million votes) who did not vote for either candidate and Marine Le Pen who won 22 percent (10.6 million votes) of the vote.

 

The French characterise this as a form of civic disobedience; inasmuch as they go to the ballot box but they don’t vote for any candidate and they’ve registered their disapproval.

If only there was a similar attitude in the British electorate. But then, when we were given the chance to vote for a change we didn’t take it. We are stuck with the present system – whereby more people voted against this government than voted for it – so my housemate might as well flush his vote down the toilet for all the good it will do.

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In the Conservative manifesto it says;

We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.

  • to restore the contract between the generations that provides security for older people while being fair to the young; and

That would be the coffin dodgers who voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to live with the consequences for long? Where was their respect for any social contract?

Rousseau would be turning in his grave.

And it claims;

We will need to take sometimes difficult decisions that ask more of one generation in order to help another.

Unless, of course we put something in the manifesto that’s’ unpopular with press, in which case we’ll fold like an envelope.

 

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One of the things that has really annoyed me about the election is how often the electorate have made me want to smash my radio against a wall. It happens every time I listen to ‘Any Answers’ on Radio 4, the chance for listeners to air their reaction to the previous nights ‘Any Questions’. The last time it happened I was in my car, so smashing the radio would’ve been dangerous. It’s when people say things along the lines of they used to vote Labour for years, then they voted UKIP but now they’re voting Conservative. How on earth did they manage that that ideological journey? Have these people no firm unshakeable beliefs, no core values, and no fundamental principles?

 

 

My election notes. E-Day – 2

 

l

 

 

With the election on Thursday, it behooves me both to use a couple of posts that weren’t posted and to briefly outline some idea’s that would have posts or just asides.

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In 2015 I posted a blog about my experience of attending the hustings for my constituency. This time around there wasn’t one. No opportunity to challenge those wanting our vote. No opportunity to get the measure of them, to see how they quick on their feet they were answering questions both from the audience and each other. Neither has there been any canvassing at our house. Despite the fact we live in a safe Labour seat, some effort from the others would be nice. Evidence of the scandalous lack of such is before me now in the form of election leaflets that have been pushed through our door. One of them looks like it was done on someone’s computer and the Conservatives haven’t even bothered to produce one!

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I love my brother, don’t get me wrong and he makes laugh more than anyone I’ve ever known – sometimes just with a look – but it does wind me up no end when my Mother says he takes an interest in politics. All this because he watches BBC1’s ‘Question Time – which is to matured and reasoned political debate what homeopathy is to science – and that he simply spews out second-hand opinions that he’s either read about or heard about.

And therein is the problem, not that he doesn’t join the dots up and more that he doesn’t know they exist. I’m not arrogant enough to delude myself that I see all the dots, but I am aware that there are some dots I don’t join and some I’m unaware of. But any discussion with him about anything to do with politics is frustrating enough, but as soon as I’ve provided evidence to refute yet another his bizarre assertions, does he comeback with evidence of his own? No. He simply goes off on another unrelated tangent that he imagines conclusively proves his point. It’s like conversational hopscotch; he jumps from one topic to another without warning leaving me constantly bewildered by his limited viewpoints.

When I tell him that the newspapers that he reads have their own political agenda, how newspapers are not impartial arbiters of facts, but have left or right wing agendas, he says that he has no idea what I mean by a left or right wing agenda. When I try to explain how newspaper owners seek to promote their own world view, he says I’m talking nonsense. Mind you, when I upbraided him some years ago for taking his daughters to McDonalds on an almost weekly basis, citing the health problems, poor farming conditions and workers rights violations as evidence, his argument to refute this? ‘Well if it was as bad as you say, then they wouldn’t be allowed to sell it’

I think of this mindset, this naive faith that the media is somehow above the grubby world of politics and not itself knee deep in dishonour, when I think of the snide and savage attacks on the character of Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour manifesto was officially launched on Tuesday and the press has been quick to castigate it for what perceives as it’s economic recklessness. But they weren’t so quick to point out that since 2010 the national debt has increased by 50%. Or that as Chancellor, George Osborne missed nearly all his economic forecasts? But Labour are economically reckless?

McDonalds!

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There aren’t words capable of expressing the complex range of emotions that I felt upon watching the news of the terror attack in London Saturday night, so I won’t.

But having said that.

My partner saw a report on the internet about the attack and immediately turned on the T.V. Now I get my news from the BBC – BBC Radio 4 that is – and consequently I am therefore used to news reporting, of not only an excellent quality and informed analysis, but above all, of sober, fact based reporting   I was horrified by the coverage on BBC News 24 and on Sky News.

It wasn’t just the sheer repetition of the horrific facts. That was bad enough. One of the inherent problems of all 24-hour rolling news channel is that at times such as Saturday night they can be an insatiable self replicating behemoth, inasmuch as there isn’t much to report that is new, so they repeat the same thing over and over again.

It’s both seductive and incredibly cheap to make. Seductive, because my partner was aware she was watching the same footage over again, but was concerned that if she turned it off, she might miss something. It’s also cheap to produce -judging by what we see anyway – featuring accounts given by people who didn’t see the thing happen, but were caught up in the immediate aftermath. And some of the questions they’re then asked! Variants of “Were you scared?” or “How did you feel?”

When I raged against the triteness of the coverage of an unfolding trajedy, the inability not say something like ‘ The sitaution is confusing as you might expect and we don’t want to add to the chaotic scenes with ill-informed speculation my partner explained that all T.V news was like this now.

My election notes, E-Day – 3

l

First things first.

What happened in London on Saturday night was yet another outrage, a frightening example of the new reality in which we now live.  The sudden and violent ending of many lives, with many more wounded, some with life changing injures is something that mere words alone cannot adequately express.

Secondly. how to deal effectively and proportionally to this new reality, whilst ensuring the our civil liberties are protected is nor an easy task, Everyone will call for something to be done, but if that something contains measures that erode the freedoms that are a hallmark of ways of life in this country, is it a something worth having?

It’s a difficult one, As this BBC article notes,

Anti-terror laws made up on the hoof in the heat of the moment are not always the best ones.

Before noting,

This was a recognition by the prime minister that security is now a significant issue in this election. Long after the rows of this campaign are over the government that is elected will still be facing the threat of Islamist terrorism.

Where once the last few days of the election might have been focused on Brexit or tax or spending, much time and space will now be devoted to police numbers, intelligence capacity and extremist ideology.

And that in itself is a problem. What exactly is extreme? Seriously, it’s all well and good banning something if that something is a tangible thing. You ban murder, for example and impose punishment for those that transgress. But extremism? Isn’t there a danger we’re in danger of veering into Big Brother style ‘thought crime‘ here? What views are extreme and not extreme? Who defines them?

As The Guardian noted yesterday,

Her ( Teresa Mays )original 2015 anti-extremism programme included banning orders against groups that fall short of existing terrorism proscription thresholds, extremism disruption orders against individuals who incite hatred and closure orders against premises used to host extremist meetings or speakers.

That “full spectrum” response has been largely frustrated by the reservations of her cabinet colleagues and serious problems finding a legally robust definition of “extremism” that will survive its first legal free speech challenge in the courts from a banned individual or group.

Dealing effectively and proportionally to this new reality won’t be easy. And as I wrote in a blog about proposed privacy laws some years ago, the people these laws are meant to protect are often the very people they’re used against.

My election notes. E- Day – 5

It can wait.

l

My election notes. E-Day – 6

meh

With less than a week to go until polling day, last nights debate with the two main party leaders, offered both Teresa May and Jeremy Corbyn the chance to set out not only what they thought were the challenges facing Britain, but more importantly, how they planed to best them.

Despite the fact that they were not debating with each other but instead taking questions from the audience, it was nonetheless fascinating for a whole load of reasons.

Firstly, it helped explain why Teresa May hasn’t been willing to debate with other party leaders, people who’d be more informed than a studio audience and might challenge her more. The reason is she’s rubbish at it. Pure and simple. On a news report where there’s a brief clip of her either at the dispatch box, or making a speech, granted, she might seem magisterial and assured. But then again, anyone could. It’s when you see her at length and listen to her and more importantly, watch the way she says it, that one inescapable fact becomes all too apparent.

She reminds me of an evil step-mother trying to be nice to her children. She knows she has to,  but her patience is thin. She tries to hide her irritation but her body language screams ‘Do I really have to do this? ‘ At the end, she scarpered off as fast as she could.

Thence came Jeremy. And he was off! This was a seemingly newly invigorated Jeremy Corbyn, speaking like a human being, managing not to let his passion overwhelm the message, but it was clearly there. If a news report can make you look good, it can equally portray you as weak. For quite a few people watching, this version of Jeremy Corbyn it must have been a revelation, at odds with the version that they are spoon fed by most of the media. Here was a man with a quiet dignity, with a grasp of details, and almost looking as if he was enjoying the whole thing

But his energy couldn’t last and it didn’t. He noticeably flagged a bit toward the end and seemed uncomfortable with a series of questions asking variants on the topic of nuclear weapons, specifically under what circumstances he’d use them. His answer was, I think, that if one had to use them then diplomacy had failed and in a nuclear war there’d be no winners.

Rather like the debate itself methinks, given that only 18.2% of the viewing public (3.8 million) watched the whole thing. What are the broadcasters meant to do? When nearly 2/3 of people claim not to have seen any of the debates or interviews with party leaders? Really? They weren’t hidden away in a graveyard slot, they were primetime! There was loads of press speculation about who would or wouldn’t appear.

This didn’t surprise me though, given that at the last election 34.9% of registered voters didn’t leaving the Conservatives triumphant with a 36.9% share. If the public can’t even be bothered to maintain the fiction that they’re somehow engaged with the political process, is it really that much of a shock that the Prime Minister acts the way she does?

My election notes. E-Day – 7

DT

I believe in President Trump. Yes I do. So when he says that pulling out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is in the best interests of America, I think ‘He looks like a details guy, someone who has carefully weighed up all the ramifications of withdrawing before deciding to do so. If he thinks it’s a good idea, then it must be.

Yes, he is the very epitome of sober evaluation and critical thinking made flesh. How fortunate America is to have elected a leader courageous enough, so confident in the correctness of what he thinks, that emboldens him to defy the doom-mongers. What a guy! I’ve no doubt that future generations will look back and give thanks for his decision.

But thankfully we have our own homegrown version, well not homegrown exactly, but more like underground, in Teresa May. As the Conservative Manifesto says:

We know that our responsibility to one another is greater than the rights we hold as individuals. We know that we all have obligations to one another, because that is what community and nation demands. We understand that nobody, however powerful, has succeeded alone and that we all therefore have a debt to others. We respect the fact that society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who are yet to be born.

Which thankfully is in no way contradicted by this;

We will therefore develop the shale industry in Britain. We will only be able to do so if we maintain public confidence in the process, if we uphold our rigorous environmental protections, and if we ensure the proceeds of the wealth generated by shale energy are shared with the communities affected.

We will legislate to change planning law for shale applications. Non-fracking drilling will be treated as permitted development, expert planning functions will be established to support local councils, and, when necessary, major shale planning decisions will be made the responsibility of the National Planning Regime.

We will set up a new Shale Environmental Regulator, which will assume the relevant functions of the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This will provide clear governance and accountability, become a source of expertise, and allow decisions to be made fairly but swiftly.

Finally, we will change the proposed Shale Wealth Fund so a greater percentage of the tax revenues from shale gas directly benefit the communities that host the extraction sites. Where communities decide that it is right for them, we will allow payments to be made directly to local people themselves. A significant share of the remaining tax revenues will be invested for the benefit of the country at large.

An eminently sensible set of proposals! As we know the planning laws place severe limitations on businesses ability to innovate. Additionally, we can take comfort from the notion that the proposed new regulator will act in the consumer’s best interests because for proof of this we need only look to the water, rail and energy markets to see how effective a regulator can be. It is conservatism writ large that offers local communities to reap a share in the financial benefits of allowing drilling and only a cynic would suggest that this is a bribe to the local community. And call into question exactly what criteria will be used to judge exactly what constitutes a “benefit to the country at large” and who the judges are. Possibly, one might even go so far as to to ask what, in percentage terms, is a ‘significant amount of the remaining tax revenues’.

But other than that its an entirely sensible proposition.