Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Don’t despair – how we can build on Brexit

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AFTER the party, the comedown. The sense of disappointment amongst the Right is already palpable: two Fridays ago we stayed up to celebrate the dawn of Brexit; now we wake up to the wokest of governments.

Yes, it’s very early days, but the list of terrible decisions keep on mounting up, and were capped by the announcement by Prime Minister Carrie Symonds that the ban on petrol and diesel cars is to be brought forward to 2035 summed up in this one tweet from James Delingpole.  

It is deeply disappointing, but only to those who haven’t yet realised that expecting self-agency, imagination or courage from the Tory Party is a complete and utter waste of time: as the last few years have shown, we will have to create the ideas and political vehicles for their implementation ourselves.

In that spirit, here a few radical ideas for Brexiteers to take forward:

·       A work visa escalator tax: Robert Shrimsley in the FT writes that there is a natural tension between a Brexit vision of a free trading, freebooting ‘start-up nation’ and ‘cohesion country’ when it comes to immigration. Well, only if you have the imagination of a filing cabinet. Why not attach an escalator tax to companies which employ people on work permits? As start-ups genuinely often do desperately need people of rare high skills very quickly and can’t afford the onus of running training schemes, allow companies employing people on work visas for the first time a honeymoon period of say, five years before an escalation tax is progressively applied, making it steadily more expensive for them to employ by this method. Such a scheme would safeguard start-up flexibility but incentivise larger corporations to plan for and provide what we have never had in this country: decent technical and vocational education.

·       Make environmental policies a matter of personal choice. Whether or not you believe in anthropogenic global warming, British environmental policy is beyond futile. As we account for only 1 per cent of global emissions, beggaring our economy won’t make any difference to the outcome. Let us get back to a free market in energy supply, reverse the ban on diesel and petrol cars and start fracking in earnest in order to create low-cost energy options, create more high-end advanced manufacturing jobs and safeguard existing ones, particularly in the North. For those who do believe in man-made global warming and feel passionately about it, there are already a great many ways you can buy energy packages from renewable sources, and no doubt the market will continue to cater for them. To assuage their concerns further, invest very heavily in pure energy research that will both permanently benefit all mankind and boost our world class universities in the process. Lastly, give people more control over their carbon footprints by demanding that all consumer manufactures, including imports, carry a label detailing the type of energy consumed to make it, thereby also encouraging foreign manufacturers to use clean energy in the process.

·       Ban advertising in public spaces. Much controversy has been had in recent years over images of lithe-limbed women in bikinis on advertising billboards because of the supposed impact on female self-esteem (and male driving skills). In practice all public advertising should be progressively reduced to a fraction of its current size. Yes, I know we have all had enough of the – forgive me – bansturbation culture of recent years, but advertising is, after all, an attempt at psychological manipulation, and its presence in the public space means we are involuntary consumers of it. Once, when communication was poor, this could be set against the public’s right to be informed of new products they might wish to consume. In the age of the smartphone, there is a surfeit of information and we can all choose to consume advertising cleverly targeted at our tastes, or not. Even allowing for the astonishing neuroplasticity of the human brain, the colossal increase in data consumption is reducing our attention spans and, perhaps creativity.

Although that is largely our fault, in such circumstances billboard advertising and the hideous, garish clamour of 1970s-style backlit signage that still dominates the High Street is an unasked-for visual assault that should be progressively restricted to discreet brand logos and company titles. If public spaces become information-sparse oases of calm, it may attract people back to the public square and enhance community life. Who knows, we may end up as a happier, creative and less mindlessly consumerist society as a result. Personally, however, I would be more than happy to exempt all pictures of lithe-limbed, bikini-clad young women from such a ban.

So those some of my ideas. I hope to write on others in future blogs.

What constructive ideas do TCW readers have for Brexit Britain? The floor is yours.

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Andrew Cadman
Andrew Cadman
IT Consultant who works and lives in the UK

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