Urban Pollards or modern day Puritans

Why is every tree in London being pollarded within an inch of its life?Pollarded tree

I can’t find a good answer anywhere.

I know that tree pollarding has existed since the Middle Ages as a way of managing unruly trees and ensuring symmetry but it does seem as though the Councils are getting carried away with sawing off misbehaving limbs!

It’s a great irony too, that at a time when every Council is under pressure to maintain the level of trees in their areas and keep the place as “green” as possible that at the same time they are encouraging their contractors to strip every tree bare of anything that resembles greenery.

I suspect that much of it is blamed on Health and Safety regulations. Nothing must be a potential risk to a passing pedestrian. But surely you should be able to have some say on what happens beside your own property.

Why for example did they chop off the branches on one side of the tree outside of this house? If this is about symmetry then I am a little surprised.Half pollarded tree

Perhaps the Council argues that the general public demand it. They don’t want falling branches on their heads or leaves on their doorsteps. They don’t want to have to clear anything up or to have any obstruction to their fine views over the neighbours.

For me this is another example of modern day Puritanism. It’s a case of increasing intolerance. If there is anything out of place or potentially disruptive, then it must be neutered. The world around us must be controlled as much as possible. At a time of increasing unrest in much of the world and in so many aspects of life, from ISIS to synthetic drugs, then maybe it is some comfort for people to know that their trees are not going to fight back. Perhaps it is another example of how public life and government is so out of kilter with society.

How to develop a 2015 political manifesto for a better country

Today’s political parties remain out of touch and unpopular because they debate issues that don’t matter to people, don’t provide workable solutions to the problems that voters do care about and consistently demonstrate incredible ineptitude in reforming how government works.

So let’s take these 3 points and examine them quickly, before proposing a better alternative:

  1. A focus on things that don’t matter
    1. Early in the new coalition government, all 3 main political parties were obsessed with reforming the House of Lords and the constituency boundaries. Undoubtedly these are issues that needs attention, but not now. Not while the country is in a state of near bankruptcy and when people are struggling to make ends meet.
    2. It’s great that we continue to try to change the world to make it a better place, but nobody in the UK wants to go and fight another war in another part of the world that frankly doesn’t matter to them. In particular they don’t want to do this when the armed forces have been cut to the bone.
  2. Impractical solutions
    1. Stop dreaming up implausible solutions, for example, The Big Society. Just because the Internet has allowed consumers the opportunity to sound off about every issue known to man and to criticise big companies and reveal secrets and indiscretions about the rich and famous, doesn’t mean that everyone wants to spend time running their local post office or voting on who should be the local police chief. In fact it’s the bloody opposite. Yes we do want to shout about things that irritate us but we want to do it in the pub or over a barbecue in our back gardens, not by running every part of government locally.
  3. Ineffective reform
    1. Successive governments think that they have a divine right to reform the NHS and that somehow they will be more successful than the last jokers. Why is this? After all they follow the same policy every time. They call in some consultants and do a report and then tell everyone that they have cracked a new answer to reforming one of the world’s top 10 largest employers in 2-3 years. It’s madness. Most enlightened corporates, who are much smaller in size, don’t think they can achieve this sort of thing in less than 5 years and most fail. Why is the government of the day likely to be any better?
    2. Stop putting people without relevant experience into ministerial positions that they cannot understand or execute.


A manifesto for a better country

The answer is a different approach to government. Focus the time and money on the issues that matter to voters and propose long-term solutions that have a chance of being successful

There are 10 key points to my manifesto and they all follow this approach

  1. Immigration is the No 1 issue in 2014 as it was in 2010 source You Gov July 2014. It’s an uncomfortable truth for all politicians as they hate talking about this subject. My manifesto would make the following very clear:
    1. This is not about race, sex, gender, colour or any other form of discrimination. It’s about how many people we want living in this country
    2. The majority of UK voters don’t want the population to keep rising. It’s simple. They don’t want it. So stop saying yes but, big business needs employees or tech companies need smart scientists. Instead recognise the issue and put a long-term cross-party plan together to stop the endless population growth. I don’t mind what the number is but aim to make it clear that over the next 30 years, we don’t want to exceed 70 million or whatever the number is. Then focus on policy that delivers that strategy.
    3. Short-term, institute some simple initiatives that the majority of the population supports, for example, no welfare benefits for any migrants unless they have spent two years in this country in continuous employment
    4. Do allow in highly educated and specialist employees as long as they are in education or employment, but ensure the balance of immigration and emigration is in line with whatever proportion has been agreed by the cross-party plan
    5. Recognise that we have a duty to support migrants who are suffering because of our global interventions
    6. Ignore the Corporates who complain about needing more cheap labour
  2. The economy is a key issue for the country and for families. Focus on some simple consistent measures that make a difference
    1. Incentivise companies that are or have a track record of recruiting and growing their total workforce and so are contributing to the growth of the wider economy
    2. Continue to reduce corporation tax as it is proven to generate more economic value
    3. Tax companies in the country where their goods are sold, manufactured or consumed.
  3. Health is always a key issue and obviously and rightly so. This is a toughie. There are no easy solutions. Politicians generally lack experience of running things and yet they need it, if they are to have any chance of reforming the NHS. So key initiatives would be as follows:
    1. Stop trying to reform the NHS in 2 years. Any plan needs to be 5 years minimum
    2. Differentiate between the numbers of medical or care related staff, support staff for medical or care related staff and general management staff. Cut the numbers of the latter relative to the other two and look to use technology to reduce the requirement for middle management tiers. Aim to reduce overall staff numbers over the long-terms
    3. Agree a long-term strategy to centralise / regionalise and invest in key areas of medical excellence, but in parallel restructure the way GP care is administered to introduce 7 day support in a more cost-effective manner and so reduce pressure on hospitals at a local level
    4. Take payment from all non EU citizens for non-medical emergency work before they get any treatment
    5. Make all high tax paying citizens pay for non-emergency prescriptions
    6. Be explicit about the expenditure choices being made, whether that be more hospitals and less new drugs or whatever
  4. Housing. Clearly there is a big issue here but all parties find it hard to resolve. We know we need more housing. So how do we arrive at a solution?
    1. Prioritise brownfield development. There is an enormous amount of brownfield land in existence. Force landowners of brownfield sites to develop or sell the land.
    2. Restrict general greenfield development but be open to occasional planned exploitation
    3. Prioritise UK citizens
  5. Europe. It is an issue but it’s important not to get thrown off course by ideologies from any side of the debate. The majority of people think it has value but everyone agrees that it isn’t working right. However, we only have so much control over the fight.
    1. Hold a referendum in 2016 and let’s see what happens. A majority wants a vote so let it be.
    2. Campaign for a transformation of the EU into a multi-tiered structure, with countries able to opt in and out of economic and political integration
    3. Campaign for cost cutting – we don’t need 2 x European Parliaments. It’s common sense.
    4. All countries should pay in annually to the EU. This is not a case of some contributors and some receivers. Everyone needs to contribute according to size and ability. Remove rebates and start again. It’s amazing how revolutions simplify things
  6. Tax. It’s not that complicated. People are suffering from inflation and lower net household income. It’s a fact for many
    1. Leave the top end tax rate as it is. Increasing it to ever greater levels rarely generates more money for the Exchequer
    2. Simplify tax should remain the motto
    3. Reduce corporate tax slowly and consistently
    4. Maintain low or zero levels of tax on the poorly paid
  7. Pensions. It’s common sense. The country cannot afford to pay for people to live longer and not contribute.
    1. Force all UK working citizens to save for their retirement – period.
    2. work out the relationship between pensions and ISA’s
  8. Education
    1. Stop the merry go round of each government changing policy towards different types of school
    2. Stop the endless tinkering with exam formats and focus instead on the quality of teaching to deliver well educated citizens
    3. Need to ensure the curriculum includes a significant amount of sport to ensure children are fit and used to other forms of competition
    4. Need to ensure a high level of maths and science subjects are compulsory
  9. Crime and policing
    1. Focus on crime prevention
    2. Simplify the sentencing policies, so that people understand that they serve the full sentence whatever that may be
  10. Energy
    1. We need to invest in our own energy infrastructure to ensure energy security