The Time Party was formed in order to bring desperately needed reform of the UK political scene, and to offer the people a genuine new choice, free from ping-pong kindergarten politics as practised by all current mainstream parties.
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https://timeparty.uk@TimePartyUK

Who exactly are you ?

Abstract : Proving your ID is no longer optional in many scenarios, and an official scheme is desperately needed for many reasons. The UK needs to change its position on this critical issue.

The world has changed. The UK must catch up.

Traditionally the UK has resisted introducing a national form of ID. But this is an anomaly in the modern world.

Almost every other country has an ID system for its citizens, and these days it typically includes biometric features. Why on earth would it not ? As a British citizen travelling abroad, other countries are simply bemused that we don't have one. It's simply incomprehensible to them. It should be incomprehensible to us also.

We could shrug because we have always done it this way. But the simple fact is WE NEED IT. And we need it urgently.

Why is ID necessary ?

Leaving aside for a moment official requirements, we cannot navigate modern life without proving our identity.

  • Banks require ID to open an account.
  • Online services (especially money transfer and financial services) require ID.
  • Even some entertainment services and age-restricted purchases (tobacco, vaping, alcohol) require ID.
  • Landlords and employers are legally obliged to verify tenant and employee identity and right to work or be here, on pain of government penalties. But they're left to fend for themselves on how to comply.

The list goes on. We routinely surrender much personal data without a murmur. Facebook and Tesco probably know more about us than government agencies who have a clear and greater need to know even just the basics.

And what's the big issue about being required to have an official government ID ? HMRC dishes out National Insurance numbers with gay abandon based on rudimentary checks, precisely because they have no ID system to support their process. And we submit without hesitation to photo ID for driving, getting on a plane, even some shop and online purchases.

Fundamentally we already accept that access to and availability of services is conditional on establishing our identity.

The vast majority of working adults today are already happy to use biometrics. Just think of your phone or Tablet with fingerprint and iris scanning. And you need it for passports and driving licences. Is it really such a leap to extend this into a National UK ID ?

Anyone under 35 will know from when they where 18 : YOU NEED I.D.
Whether it is going to the pub or buying DIY products from solvents to Stanley knives, YOU NEED I.D. Challenge 25 is now used in nearly all shops from paint stores to wine merchants.

Stumbling along

This and previous governments (of all colours) stumble along, and refuse to make it required for some of the most critical parts of public services.

  • Free NHS treatment is by law only available to UK residents. Hospitals struggle to control eligibility and consumption of resources by those not entitled to free care.

  • People should need ID within a hospital, or admission to hospital or any medical service to ensure they are the right person before treatment and entitlement to drugs. Not only is there a public protection dimension, it should exist as a deterrent to any seeking to abuse the system.

  • Immigration status : it is not easy for the police or any authority to determine quickly and reliably whether someone is a British citizen, has Indefinite Leave to Remain, has temporary residency, has overseas student status, is an over-staying visa holder .... or an illegal migrant.

  • Entitlement to work : getting a National Insurance number from HMRC is trivial. But it proves next to nothing. Employers are supposed to check. How? The government offloads their responsibility by shifting it to the employer.

  • Voter registration : our voter registration system is chaotic, administered with minimal checks, and subject to each local authorities' practices which vary regionally. Many authorities' registers are out of date, with people on the register who moved long ago, and who are registered multiple times.

  • Vote casting : it's simply archaic. We might as well follow India and dip voters' fingers in ink. No photo ID required (except in some local trials). Wide open to voter fraud at the polling centre. And an open invitation to manipulate the system through "bloc" postal votes. Why should one person (typically the "man of the house") be able to control the votes of his whole household, and even of his community ? The evidence is strong that in certain communities 1 activist can control a few hundred votes.

  • Terrorism : it's hard enough maintaining watch lists and tracking those who might be likely to offend. It's nigh-on impossible to do when there is no way to establish the identity of individuals.

  • Over-population : the Office for National Statistics put the UK population in 2011 as 63.2 million, with projections for 2020 as 68 million. But many sources say that figure is an under-estimate. Various bodies such as supermarkets and waste management bodies put the figure significantly higher. Even in an obesity-prone society, there is a limit how much food you can eat or throw away or excrete. In March 2020, DVLA put the number of active driving licences at 49.5 million. Add to that figure the number of people below the driving age, those who drive on foreign licences, those who drive illegally, and those who don't drive. It would not be unreasonable to estimate the real population of the UK is close to 80 million. Wonder why all public resources are under strain ? Go figure, as they say.

President Trump is seeking to tackle the issue of postal voting fraud head-on. Whether you like the man or not, approve of him or not, there is simply no argument against his stance ... unless you have a clear and present intention to abuse the weakness of the system to commit electoral fraud yourself or to your benefit.

The Labour Party's arguments against voter ID are facile, specious and driven by self-interest. They hope to be the beneficiary of an inefficient and broken voting system. To be fair, they haven't got much hope of winning any other way. So their resistance is understandable. It's also plain wrong and borderline criminal in intent.

Government inaction

As long ago as 2005, (yes, 2005, THREE parliamentary sessions ago) the High Court judge, Judge Richard Mawrey, quashed the results of two local council elections in Birmingham after deciding there had been systematic large-scale vote rigging. He said: "The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that."

Despite the fact the case was seen as a test case for similar incidents across the country, Tony Blair and his successors did NOTHING. Why? Because in their desperate scramble for votes, all parties benefit from the loose postal voting system. But the Labour Party is considered the primary beneficiary. Even in the recent Peterborough by-election, voting fraud was alleged to have affected the outcome. But the police and the Electoral Commission could not see what everyone saw plainly. Admiral Nelson would have been proud : "I see no fraud" with telescope firmly screwed to his blind eye.

The Daily Mail has just reported that Dominic Cummings is pushing for an ID scheme. But that doesn't mean an end to postal voting or other abuses, and it doesn't mean it is definitely happening. This is more likely an effort to appease public frustrations. Once again, it is likely to be a 'sticking plaster', rather than the fundamental reform which the Time Party advocates.

What will TIME do ?

The Time Party will :

  • introduce a biometric-based National UK ID scheme as an urgent high priority
  • ensure this would come under the responsibility of a new independent agency, actively banning the Home Office and HMRC from involvement in its design, development or administration (both organisations having demonstrated organisational and technical incompetence on many large IT-driven projects)
  • require government agencies and public services to see and record ID as part of providing services
  • require ID for employment and tenancies
  • ban any IT contractor or developer from involvement in building the system if they have had any involvement in a failed over-budget over-time government IT contract (government, especially these agencies, appear innately unable to commisison or implement major IT systems, and large contractors take advantage of this for private gain). This should also be considered as policy for all government contracts.
  • ban any IT or facilities contractor from involvement if they or their parent company have non-UK ownership over 20% (we have a wealth of UK talent)
  • terminate the postal voting system with immediate effect, even in advance of a national ID scheme being operational (special arrangements would be made for those unable to vote in person through disability or absence)
  • ensure that no foreign nationals entering the country would receive an ID card without criminal record checks
  • ensure all foreign nationals currently in the country have their immigration status clearly recorded and trackable
  • create a presumption that lack of a National UK ID is prima facie evidence of illegal entry, a lack of entitlement to be legally in the country and a lack of entitlement to services
  • create an obligation for short-term visitors to have official ID from their country (lack of papers is the biggest immigration con and abuse of the system)
  • introduce a digital voting system with ID verification, authentication and "zero-knowledge" encryption
  • pave the way to digital voting on key issues throughout a parliament's term, so as to allow constituents to hold MPs to account without the need for traditional cumbersome referenda

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Grades maketh not the person

The distress caused about exam grades is highly understandable. But it misses the point completely. They’re not actually that important. Ditch the angst. Feel the freedom.

The cornerstone of all education is the skill of analysis.

So let’s get one thing clear right up-front.

The distress and anxiety currently awash among students and their parents is obvious and very understandable. Sympathy and empathy abound for those receiving their grades and worrying about what they mean for the future. Seriously, my heart goes out to students, parents and teachers who battle the ridiculous legacy system we have.

I really do feel the pain. Many moons ago, when I received a grade lower than I aspired to, expected and frankly fully deserved, I packed my rucksack and set off to walk to Spain in a mood of “I’ll show them”.

But dinya fret, because I have GOOD NEWS for you.

Grades are not that important. IN THE LONG TERM. Which is the only term that really matters.

The grades don’t mean very much anyway, and the consequences for the future are minimal. Certainly not worth giving into such high levels of anxiety and stress.

So feel the freedom, and embark on the next stages of your life with confidence, enthusiasm and a hunger to achieve.

When your temper has subsided, hear me out.

Why is this the case ? Because the world has changed dramatically over the last 20-30 years, and those involved in the education system (teachers, students, parents) have really not kept up at all.

It’s not really their fault. But they do have a role in improving the situation. Including analysing what’s actually going wrong.

As an employer, I stopped giving two hoots about applicants’ GCSE and A level grades more than 20 years ago. I no longer care (and haven’t for a long time) whether someone has a degree, what grade they might have received or even what subject they studied. I care even less about their GCSE and A level grades.

They’re all a meaningless distraction, and little more than a useful ice-breaker in an interview. For sure, I want to know what they have done. But I don’t attach significant importance to it.

What matters is the individual’s innate intelligence which is demonstrated by their ability to hold a conversation, express an opinion, demonstrate an ability and willingness to learn and be enthusiastic, willing, participative and co-operative. And let’s start with the easiest one of all : just be a nice person !

The education system as a whole is now guilty of perpetrating a CON of epic proportions. Exam grades have become a cheap trick, a metric for tick-box compliance and assessment which doesn’t do justice to the students or the teachers, who all work incredibly hard (well, most of them).

Some words of advice

For university entrance administrators, stop being so unimaginative and either so lazy or so sheep-like in adherence to consigning people to boxes, just to make your lives easier. Let’s take even a quarter of the collective energy expended all across the country on grades & grading, and deploy it into an improved university entrance system which is not based on dumping thousands of students into classification boxes. It will be far more effective.

For employers, they need to learn to interview effectively. And hey, give someone a chance. You may be surprised by how well they perform. And if they don’t, you have at least a probationary period to weed out those who will not thrive and contribute in your work environment. For most young recruits, I’m more than happy to give them 1-2 years to blossom. [While politely releasing those who clearly aren’t really interested.]

For teachers, rejoice : you can now focus on true development of the young minds you are responsible for. Ofsted can ditch their tick-boxes and score-cards, a system of review and control probably invented by someone with excellent grades but no life learning and a pitiful understanding of the modern world.

For students, you can now enjoy your school years and focus on true learning, rather than succumbing like sheep into a collective CON. If grades are in fact important, they are only important for a couple of years. After that, your progress in life will be determined by your real abilities.

I have NEVER met a successful businessman, manager or worker who attributes their success in life to the exam grades they got. Quite the opposite. I have met thousands who have succeeded despite their grades, even despite having no grades.

You cannot miss the anxious sometimes tearful students claiming “they’ve ruined my life”. No they haven’t. And if you really think so, that’s the first sign of immaturity and an under-developed thought process. Those qualities will keep you out of a job far more than your grades.

So what’s the solution ?

Good question. It’s clearly complex. But it starts with good quality objective analysis.

Key principles for improving our education system include :

  • Create some independence for teachers. Stop messing about with the system every year, the curriculum, the grading boundaries, constant government interference.

  • Create a measure for assessing performance which is not purely about rote learning, tick-box assessments or labelling the individual. Focus on developing their minds, not on making them into sheep or robots.

  • Get politics out of education. Create stability and independence. Very probably, abolish the Department for Education and Ofsted. What? MORE change? Yes, but it will be the last one for 20 years.

  • Stop using grades as a crutch for key decisions by university administrators and employers.

  • Start understanding that grades are of temporary significance, as a stepping stone in an education process which extends beyond school and university.

  • Reform universities. Promote independent thought and get rid of “agendas”, notably among leftist, liberal woke tutors and professors.

  • Start understanding that universities are only important for certain disciplines. We don’t need 50% of the country’s young people going to university because it seems like some kind of social progress. We have generally seen a devaluation of the significance and usefulness of a university education. It hasn’t helped anyone (except the finance department of universities), and it certainly hasn’t helped the students themselves.

Yes, I understand these might be controversial opinions. So let me know what you think in the comments below. Or feel free to contact me at leader@timeparty.uk. I’d love to know your opinion, especially if you work within the Education system.

Save our High Streets

Who are the Planning Law changes going to benefit? Mostly, not you. Beware the double bluff.

Populist presentation of a Trojan policy

The Prime Minister has announced what are presented as radical reforms of the Planning System (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-build-build-build).

But who will these benefit ?

The Government is careful to profile what it will mean for households. Less bureaucracy for extending your home. Anyone who has dealt with planners and the planning system will be highly likely to approve of this.

But the headline changes presented in the media are a bluff. The real changes are the increased freedom to redevelop commercial premises in our town centres.

So what’s likely to happen ? Mass conversions to residential, and a massive loss of retail and hospitality. For whose benefit ? Well, allegedly an easing of the shortage of new housing, but in reality this is almost a blank cheque for developers.

There used to be a popular joke among economists (yes, economists do joke occasionally, usually with their forecasts) that if the Government wants to stimulate the economy, they pay a bunch of people to dig a ditch from e.g. Manchester to London, and when they’re done, they pay another bunch to fill it in again. Lots of jobs created, money injected into the economy, no lasting damage done.

Well this Government’s proposed changes look suspiciously similar, with some notable ‘modernisation’ of the concept. The Government doesn’t pay a penny, they provide a blank cheque to developers (who are mostly Tory-inclined in their views) and they claim that they are serving the people. And a lot of fairly severe, probably irreversible damage, is done.

These changes are not about improving the Planning System. They are about providing an economic stimulus which the Government doesn’t have to pay for. The principal beneficiaries will be developers and property investors (mostly foreign, no doubt). Benefit to the Nation : not very much.

And what are the consequences ?

Yes, there will be an economic stimulus for builders (the ones who get their hands dirty) and associated trades.

Yes, there will be new homes built. Although with planning approval given for a MILLION new homes which have been approved and never actually built, there are many other ways to improve the number of homes available.

Yes, homeowners can make relatively easy house extensions rather than be forced into expensive home moves.

But is that enough to compensate for the impact on our town centres ? Loss of small retail premises and hospitality venues. A town centre should not be a dormitory zone. Beware the hidden outcomes from these notionally popular changes.

So you’re saying that planning laws do not need changing ?

Absolutely not ! The planning system is turgid, slow, bureaucratic, incomprehensible and run too much on cosy relationships between professional developers and unelected civil servants who use the complexity of the system to enslave normal residents while pandering to the professional developers who know the loopholes and do back-room deals with the planners.

The Time Party wholeheartedly supports fundamental reform for the planning system. But that’s the point : FUNDAMENTAL. Despite the Government presenting these changes as radical, they are nothing more than a sticking plaster in terms of real change. And they do nothing to disrupt the inherent issues with the system.

We only need to look abroad for examples of really good town centre design, excellent imaginative building design (including how to do high-rise properly without creating ghettos).

It CAN be done. Let’s do it. But not like Boris’ Trojan Horse. Beware what’s going to come out of this sham exercise.

By the way, it’s still a consultation. Make sure you get your opposing views registered. (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907647/MHCLG-Planning-Consultation.pdf)

This Trojan Horse is not bearing gifts. A few bribes to homeowners perhaps, but hiding in its belly a hidden army of unscrupulous developers. Do not fear looking in this horse’s mouth. And preferably give it one hell of a whack on its withers, so it runs away , never to be seen again.