Tuesday 26 March 2024

Licensed Premises

Following the introduction both of the Universal Basic Income and of Modern Monetary Theory’s Job Guarantee, then a suitably renamed version of the licence fee ought to be made voluntary, with as many adults as wished to pay it at any given address free to do so, including those who did not own a television set but who greatly valued, for example, Radio Four. One would not need to be a member of the Trust to listen to or watch the BBC, just as one does not need to be a member of the National Trust to visit its properties, or a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to be rescued by its boats.

The Trustees would then be elected by and from among the members. Each member would vote for one, with the top two elected. The electoral areas would be Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and each of the nine English regions. The Chairman would be appointed by the relevant Secretary of State, with the approval of the relevant Select Committee. And the term of office would be four years.

Here as elsewhere, we ought to be bypassing the weedy brains of the Liberal Establishment and the brainless brawn of the municipal Labour Right, in order to secure the representation that had never been afforded by those who had presumed to speak for our people, but never to our people. Yes, that would indeed involve doing deals with the Conservatives. We could not possibly get less out of them than we had ever managed to get out of the Keir Starmers of the world.

The party that would now be mine if I had one is by no means averse to such arrangements. A seven times elected Member of Parliament is in the Premier League while a seven times failed parliamentary candidate is not even a ball boy, a job that is sometimes done by a dog, but George Galloway did campaign with Nigel Farage in the 2016 referendum, and he did endorse the Brexit Party at the 2019 European elections. Richard Tice offered George a byelection candidacy. George has kept the receipts.

George advocated a vote for the candidate best placed to defeat the SNP in each Holyrood constituency last time, plus a list vote for All for Unity, and accordingly he voted Conservative. Subsequent events have thoroughly borne him out. In 2006, it was a coalition with the Conservatives that retained the Leadership of Derby City Council for Chris Williamson. That coalition did eventually lose an election to the Liberal Democrats, but it did not collapse.

Similarly, across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham, Independent councillors who would at least ordinarily vote Conservative at parliamentary elections, and many or most of whom used to vote for UKIP and then the Brexit Party at European elections, are not only preparing to vote for Jamie Driscoll, but are preparing to get the vote out for him, and that is politics, not charity.

When I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair’s Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I have no plan to join the Workers Party of Britain, although nor would I expect to stand against it. If, however, it did not contest North Durham, then I would. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start.


  1. All governments give the BBC whatever it wants.

    1. A progressive licence fee would be an administrative nightmare, but yes.