• Out and about

    carlton reeveEach week we’re meeting more and more people in Sheffield Hallam. Again today our growing band of supporters will be delivering flyers across the constituency.

    From Worrall to Totley, I’ve been surprised at how much people want to talk about their concerns to me, a ‘politician’. And I haven’t been at all surprised to hear how disillusioned they are with party politics.

    People want change.

    And people are embracing our campaign to see that change happen. A man we met in Worrall said “I didn’t know who to vote for. I do now. I’m going to vote for you.”

    People who care, want to make a difference.

    Please get in touch if you want to part of what we’re trying to do.

    See you in streets of our neighbourhood!

  • Conviction not Conceit

    crossTonight I went to a public consultation about a city redevelopment because I want to learn about the processes and issues.

    While I was there, I bumped into one of the city’s other prospective parliamentary candidates. After quizzing me for a few minutes, she said “Well, whatever happens, it’ll be good for your profile.”

    I had to stop her. I have a job, I told her. I’m not interested in profile. I’m standing because I care about Sheffield.

    She was nonplussed. It didn’t seem to have occurred to her that anyone might stand out of conviction rather than conceit.

    That’s career politicians for you.

    Funny business, politics.

  • Who do they represent?

    A pile of assorted banknotes in £5, £10 and £20 denominationsShould our politicians represent the interests of the people in their constituency or the big businesses that donate to party coffers?

    First we had the revelation that top executives from HSBC had donated nearly £900,000 to the Tory party. Last week we discovered that PwC donated nearly £400,000 to Labour. These are very significant amounts of money. Yet both HSBC and PwC have been implicated in massive tax avoidance schemes. That’s scandalous. Every pound that we lose through tax avoidance and tax evasion costs our public services. This so-called tax gap was worth £34bn last year. Just imagine how many doctors and nurses that would pay for, or apprenticeships, or how much that would reduce the deficit.

    So why is it that successive government’s seem to turn a blind eye to such schemes? It would be naïve to think that these companies donate such vast sums of money to the political parties and don’t expect anything in return. These donations buy influence.

    When the Westminster Parties accept such massive financial contributions, they cede power away from ordinary citizens. When the parties accept these corporate donations they stop representing the people of the UK. You can see the influence of corporate backers and lobbyists across government policy-making: it is very revealing to see how many of the politicians who decide the fate of the NHS receive funds from private health care providers.

    So what should we do about it? I think there should be a cap on political donations and I think finding out who has given money to MPs and political parties should be much easier to find out.

    Of course the big party machines need feeding so they’ll keep seeking big money. It’s another reason that I’m standing as an Independent – I won’t be in debt to big business: I will only work for the people of Sheffield Hallam.

  • Tax avoidance

    IMG_0209.JPGI’ve had a number of emails about the revelation that HSBC has helped many wealthy individuals avoid paying tax asking how I would respond.

    As the home of HSBC’s predecessor, the Midland Bank, this is a big issue for Sheffield. And it’s important to remember that the vast majority of HSBC staff work with the utmost integrity. For the sake of the diligent and upright staff, and the reputation of the financial sector as a whole, we have to address this enormously serious issue.

    If the government was as concerned about tax avoidance as they are about benefit fraud then we would have much less of an issue with inequality than we do now and a much stronger economy. It’s scandalous that so many wealthy individuals and corporations who do business in the UK fail to pay a fair amount of tax while the poorest and most vulnerable are pursued with such venom.

    With respect to how we might tackle tax dodging I’d suggest two things –

    – that we close the loopholes that allow overseas-based businesses to avoid paying tax on their UK sales and income

    – that we stop the ridiculous situation whereby commercial organisations such as banks and accountancy firms are given the responsibility to draft tax legislation and systems only to take that inside knowledge back to their clients. I think our tax rules should be constructed on behalf of the nation and in the interests of UK citizens by experts without a conflict of interest.

    I believe a significant part of the problem and the reason that this issue hasn’t been fully addressed is the way political parties are funded (for example, the Tories have received £875,000 from senior HSBC staff) – Parties tend to act in, or at least protect, the interests of their sponsors rather than the electorate. It is one of the reasons that I’m standing as an independent – I want to act on behalf of the people of Sheffield Hallam rather than some corporate paymaster.

     

  • Tuition fees

    Tuition fees aren’t just bad news for students – they are bad for us all.

    I’m campaigning to scrap them. For the sake of our young people. For the sake of our economy.

  • The disgrace of inequality

    DSC_0021Inequality is bad for us all. Having wide discrepancies in people’s wealth is not only socially divisive and, emotionally and intellectually debilitating, it is also economically catastrophic. No society can sustain such a massive gap between the richest and poorest.

    Sadly, today there is yet more depressing evidence that the Coalition’s Austerity budgets have created a massive increase in inequality in the UK.

    We already know that average household incomes are still declining and that a record number of working families are in poverty.

    Today’s report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation describes how 8.1m parents and children don’t have the incomes they need. The study says that the number of families with children on inadequate incomes rose by more than the between 2008 and 2013.

    The Foundation describes it as “income stagnation” – it is known as hardship and poverty to you and me.

    Of course the daily reality of inequality is a long way from the corridors of Westminster. This is how the government responded to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report:

    “UK income inequality is now lower than when this government came into office and the recovery is being felt across the country.”

    The Coalition is utterly divorced from ordinary lives.

    Austerity isn’t working.

    Cuts to our public services aren’t working.

    If there was ever a desperate need for change it is now.

  • Being part of Our Fair City

    ourfaircitylogo
    I’m delighted to have become a Champion of the Our Fair City project in Sheffield. Tackling inequality is something that really matters to me – it’s one of the reasons I’m standing in the general election.

    Our Fair City is a project that brings together people who “live, work, study or do business in Sheffield” in order to “make our great city a place we can be really proud of.” It’s about promoting fairness for all.  The Fairness Commission has established some good guidelines for how citizens and policy makers can make the city a fairer place:

    • Civic responsibility – all residents to contribute to making the city fairer and for all citizens to have a say in how the city works
    • Those with the most resources should make the biggest contributions
    • The commitment to fairness must be for the long-term
    • The commitment to fairness must be across the whole city
    • Preventing inequalities is better than trying to cure them
    • To be seen to act in a fair way as well as acting fairly
    • Those in greatest need should take priority
    • An open continuous campaign for fairness in the city
    • Fairness must be a matter of balance between different groups, communities and generations in the city
    • The city’s commitment to fairness must be both demonstrated and monitored in an annual report

    Our Fair City is an initiative that seeks to make our home “the fairest city in the UK” and encompasses supporters from across the political spectrum. It’s a great example of what we can do together.

    Why don’t you become a champion too?

     

  • Is swapping one party for another real change?

    Could Nick Clegg lose his Sheffield seat in May general election?

    crossThat’s what an article in today’s Guardian asks.

    There’s a growing sense that Nick Clegg will lose his seat in Sheffield Hallam but some can’t see beyond the existing broken system of party politics.

    There’s lots and lots of us who want better than we’ve experienced with Clegg – not just on national issues but locally too. I’m hoping people will vote positively for change rather than simply with a protest vote against him.

    Just about everyone I speak to is looking for a genuine alternative. Not just replacing one party machine with another but electing someone who represents the people of Sheffield Hallam.

    That’s why I’m standing as an independent.

    That’s why I need your support.

    Share. Donate. Vote.

  • The Real Alternative

    flatpackI met with the independent councillor and Mayor of Frome, Peter MacFadyen, today. We talked about the possibilities unlocked by being independent. The success in Somerset offers a model of what could happen here in Sheffield.

    Peter (and other local residents) stood for election because the main political parties no longer represented his home town. Not only did they win, they’ve transformed the local council through common sense and collaboration. It’s good to see how non-party politicians can make such a positive difference to their communities.

    If they can do it in Somerset, we can do it in Yorkshire. Sheffield Hallam could enjoy the same free thinking, pragmatic approach to government that puts the interests of the local people first.

    Whatever Westminster might say, Independents are the real alternative to party politics.

  • Prosperity with compassion

    economyWhile 2015 might not deliver Back to the Future style hover boards, let’s hope it gives us a change of heart in government: where compassion triumphs over cuts and where plans for long term prosperity overcome petty party politics.

    Let’s stop talking about cuts. Let’s grow. Let’s rebuild our economy so that it can afford the services that make life better for us all.

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