With Party conference season in full flow, I write this on the first formal day of the Conservative Party conference. Doubtless the agenda will be dominated by Brexit, which to many, including myself as a long-standing supporter of it, seems to be a never ending saga of twists and turns when most people, no matter what their referendum preference are simply saying to me ‘just get on with it’. I support a SuperCanada arrangement of free trade, zero tariffs, mutual recognition of perfectly good standards across food, goods and services. Add to this sensible co-operation on security and data then this truly satisfies the mantra of ‘free trade and friendship’ which most people would see as the sensible outcome. After the shameful spectacle of the Salzburg summit, the EU have shown themselves once more as elitist, remote from the electorate, behaving like an aloof oligarchy of old. The treatment of our PM was shameful and insults us all as a nation.
The Labour conference was muddled on Brexit despite their 2017 manifesto commitment, with vague offers of a further referendum and offers of loads more ‘free stuff’ with no plan as to how to pay for it. The experience of Venezuela should be a signpost as to the failure of Socialism. Capitalism is not perfect but the global experience of it is its unique ability to have raised a billion people out of poverty in less than a generation.
There is much to be cheerful about locally. I had the great privilege of being part of the opening of the new £160m biomass power station at the Discovery Park site. It has been under construction, quietly and without fuss for two years and creates 30 permanent local jobs. Funded by Danish pension funds (therein is a lesson as to how other countries commit pension investments into long-term, stable cash flow returns) the project is technologically simple – burning sustainable coppiced wood from across the South East, some 240,000 tons of it per year that would otherwise be little used, allowing new growth in farmed woodlands. This adds to the unique renewable energy technology in South Thanet alongside our offshore wind, solar farms and biogas generation. I’m not always the biggest fan of renewables, primarily due to unit cost, reliability and taxpayer subsidy in a global market, but energy security is important, and this new plant offers that in a sustainable way.
I attended the Thanet and East Kent Chamber of commerce business breakfast. This is a hugely successful business group offering support to existing businesses and encouragement to new across East Kent. The presentation was on Cyber security both business and personal. Lots of free information and support out there on how to keep personal and business data safe. This is a growth area for crime across banking, intellectual property and sheer devilment by the hackers. Keep safe.
This Friday (5th) I am hosting, with DWP, another Jobs Fair. This time in the ‘Hall by the Sea’ in Dreamland. We have a huge number of local and national employers on hand to guide and help. Thanet has a higher than the South East average rate of unemployment; this is another initiative to try to put that right. All are welcome to attend between 10.30am and 4pm.