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Why am I standing as an Independent?

Because I am free to speak my mind without accountability to any party diktat.
In these challenging times, this constituency needs a local champion unfettered by party loyalties, whether in Westminster or closer to home, to hold government at all levels to account for the way in which they are managing the limited resources currently available to us.

What influence will I have?

As the MP who overcame one of the largest majorities in the country and at the same time removed the shortest serving Prime Minister on record, I will not go unnoticed whether in Westminster or in Norfolk.
As a professional lawyer who has spent his working life representing clients at the highest levels of government, I have the skills and experience to argue a good case on behalf of my constituents whether in Kings Lynn, Thetford, Norwich or Whitehall.
Ask yourselves this question; Who, if elected, would be more likely to be invited on to BBC’s Question Time? A failed Prime Minister? A new MP on the Labour back benches? Or one who had caused one of the biggest election upsets of all time?

What are my top priorities?

Below are some of the areas where I have been answering constituents’ questions over the past three months. My 14 meetings have shown me a range of concerns and proved that the citizens of South West Norfolk care deeply about both local and national issues.
Select from the headings below to expand.

Young people are the future. I am seriously alarmed at the levels of reported mental ill health issues among young people.

Firstly, we need an education system which is not so focussed on academic results. Rather, a more broadly based education which includes all young people and gives every young person the opportunity to make best use of their natural talents.

No child should be ‘off rolled’ except where they are receiving some acceptable alternative education. No child should be excluded from school without ensuring proper further support.

Secondly, we need schools where all young people can get out of their classrooms, have some activity to pursue after school and be encouraged to play whether it be sport, art, or drama. Young people need the opportunity to learn teamwork, and leadership, and be creativite. This needs to be addressed both locally and nationally. In the short term, this may be about encouraging schools to promote and engage with organisations like the Scouts and Guides, the Cadets, and community sports teams.

After leaving school, there should be no excuse for inactivity. Given this absence of stimulation within the education system, it is understandable how a state of lethargy among many of the young leaving school has set in. Somehow, we need to disrupt that state of lethargy. Some are now advocating a form of national citizenship service. It already exists on a voluntary basis. But those who volunteer, or who are ‘volunteered’ by conscientious parents, are not the ones we need to reach. Perhaps we should look at compulsion, in some form, for all.

What can you do about the cost of living crisis?

More immediately:

Ensure that everyone is receiving advice on and getting their just entitlements.

Secondly, strengthen the community support network by improved interaction between local government agencies, health and education agencies, and the voluntary community organisations, eg foodbanks, appropriate carer groups, and youth charities.

For the longer term:

Encourage the development of a more integrated place based funding approach out of the budgets of local government, health and education authorities.

Grow the local economy.

What are you going to do about health services?

Improve the delivery of the GP service, because we need to stop using hospitals as the first port of call.

Investigate solutions to the dentist waiting list problem which denies people vital access to dentistry services. Dental check-ups can identify treatable issues and prevent serious disease.

Understand how the new Integrated Care System in the county is meant to work; identify where it is not working, and make sure it is fixed.

At present, it is all about plans and little about implementation.

Encourage the integration of the place based health structure recently introduced by the Health Service and the Health and Wellbeing Boards run by local councils.

More generally, encourage a more holistic approach to the management of our health, encouraging means of promoting and maintaining good health rather than focusing — as is the current tendency — on the ‘cure’ end of the spectrum. We need doctors, of course, but also more health physicians; i.e. those who encourage us by education and facilitation to take exercise, eat well and look after ourselves.

What are you going to do about the care services?

Better recognition of the vocation of a carer and inevitably, more finance (when available) as a priority.

Support and recognition for unpaid carers who are saving the Treasury billions annually. If we don’t look after them, then we will double the number of people to look after.

Encourage and, where necessary, facilitate better commercial interaction by way of service-level agreements between those voluntary and community organisations and the health authorities who rely on their services anyway.

What are your views on the current levels of immigration?

We must recognise that this is a challenge which is not going away. As climate change takes hold, there is going to be a significant movement of global populations South to North, and great pressure on European countries to accommodate this.

In the short-term, legal migration is the biggest issue; and it is an issue because we have failed to prepare for it.

We need this level of migration because we do not have a workforce who is prepared or trained to do the work: for instance nurses, carers, those skilled in trades and crafts.

Our universities have no other way of funding themselves except to accept overseas students. We have too many universities and not enough skills training institutes; we unfairly raise the expectations of young people in relation to opportunities for desk jobs; and we don’t acknowledge or reward the value of hands-on workers until we need a plumber, electrician, nurse or carer.

Illegal immigration is not an existential issue, relatively speaking, although as an indication of the desperation of those wanting to come here, it is a foretaste of the future.

The asylum process must be expedited and the more easily identifiable economic migrants returned to their country of origin speedily.

Longer term, we need to think strategically about (a) housing and infrastructure; and (b) how we integrate with new cultures. We simply cannot just pull up the drawbridge.

Economic growth: how will you address this locally?

Our economy both nationally and locally is stagnant. It is generally accepted that we need to grow our economy and increase productivity. Work harder or more efficiently. The question is, ‘How do we achieve that locally?’

Our local economy in South West Norfolk depends a lot on small and medium sized businesses. Currently, growth in these areas is generally flat or negative. 12% of small businesses nationally are reducing their workforce. There is no reason to think we are any different.

The headwinds are:

  • Higher interest rates, higher inflation, and cost of labour
  • The costs of bureaucracy, particularly if exporting to the EU
  • A skills deficit
  • A reluctant labour force (10 million people under 30 and over 50 are economically inactive)
  • Borrowing is more difficult; banks are more risk-averse and less accessible
  • Barriers to trade abroad, particularly as regards service industries
  • Government failures to meet targets on earlier promises to procure business from small businesses


Small businesses are highly risk-averse, preferring to stay afloat rather than risk the kind of investment which would improve productivity and therefore growth.

Nationally, we need:

  • Economic stability and low inflation
  • Less bureaucracy
  • Policies to encourage investment and lending
  • Addressing the barriers to trade, particularly for the service industries

Locally, what can we do about it?

  • Encourage investment in technology
  • Facilitate skills training
  • Motivate those who are economically inactive by delivering attractive employment opportunities
  • Improving local infrastructure, broadband and planning reforms
  • Facilitating cross-fertilisation of good practice between businesses that growing and those which need encouragement

Do you subscribe to the current targets for Net Zero emissions?

‘Yes,’ but as targets only.

As a major industrial nation which has a good record on this, we must be seen to lead. But blind pursuit of targets without heeding the economic consequences would be counterproductive.

Progression towards each of the staged targets must be managed on this basis and, if possible, the target achieved.

We need to be smart about land management, growing food where crops grow best and using environmental schemes on poorer land to stop covering the most fertile ground with solar panels.

We must invest in technology and encourage entrepreneurial endeavour.

We have the talent to lead the world; let’s use it.

At the same time, we do also need to protect ourselves. Investment needs to be made on water management, and water companies need to do better. We need to invest in flood defences and encourage those responsible to maintain water flows, whether ditches, dykes, or rivers.

We also need reservoirs to capture the water.

Above all, we need to be sure that we maintain a proper balance between preserving the beauty of what we have and the necessary levels of development and infrastructure which should be driven more by the interests of the wider community they serve than the commercial interests of those who wish to take advantage of it.


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