Red Tape

I know. Why explain? When people only hear what they want to hear? On the scale of right-wing political good or bad there are words that can make a slogan to suite any blank page. Shape any mood. Frame a slogan around “tax cuts” and you are at the happy end of the spectrum (blue). Frame a sentence around “red tape” and unhappy faces will appear (red).

My heart sinks when I see British newspaper headlines like: Truss pledges EU red tape bonfire[1]. It’s a celebration of ignorance and pessimism. The politics is crude. It’s kindergarten. Dam the past and paint a picture of gleaming utopia ahead. Comic book stuff. There’s never been a quicker way to appeal to the Conservative Grumpy[2] family.

In earlier articles, I’ve made it clear that 6-years of Brexit has meant more “red tape” rather than less. That is red tape that greatly impacts UK exports, imports, livelihoods, jobs, and prosperity.

For Leavers, the Brexit project was about cutting so called red tape in the belief that administration, laws and rights are the ultimate problems. However, the post-Brexit UK is presenting more complex bureaucracy, producing poorer results at a greater cost than before.

It’s always peculiar when legislators blame legislation for our ills.

When the UK was a member of the European Union (EU) countries worked together, removing trade barriers, and promoting free movement to create a better future. Now, the UK is determined to continue to reverse that good work much to its own detriment. Plainly, we are a country determined to sanction itself. All because it opens the political convenience of being able to blame others.

These years are the topsy-turvy years. A Government that tables a no-confidence vote and then cheers a discredited Prime Minister[3]. A zombie Government then limps on while a few thousand people mull over our future. Ministers boast of their achievements but then dam everything that has gone in the past.

It’s unfortunate but this generation of uncivilised minnows is in charge. At least for the moment.

POST 1: False words compound the problem of understanding. There is no EU “red tape”. The UK left the EU. What we have is UK law. Law made by the politicians that who are damming that law. Yes, parts of UK law have been derived from EU law. That is law that the UK helped make while in the EU.

POST 2: Concerns about the removal of consumer protection are being raised widely. Believe me, you will miss that red tape once it’s gone | Money | The Sunday Times (

POST 3: The list goes on and on UK chemicals sector hit by £2bn Brexit red tape bill | Financial Times (


[2] My coffee mug is from the Mr Men, Little Miss series (2017).


ITV Debate

For anyone interested in public affairs watching a debate of candidates for Prime Minister (PM) should be a pleasure #ITVdebate. It’s the summer heat. Pleasure it certainly wasn’t. It was a formulaic event that was enough to make milk curdle. The toxic blue-on-blue punch-up was uninspiring. A college debating society might have made better peak time TV.

The matter of who will be the British PM in only 7 weeks’ time is important. As the first question put it, we are at the start of an actual cost of living crisis. Unfortunately, Sunday night a lot of fairy tale economics were on show. Rubishing the past took front stage. All Conservative candidates said they would not have the caretaker PM Boris Johnson in a new cabinet.

All candidates vaguely rattled on about Brexit opportunities. When asked if the winner needed to call for a General Election to consolidate their mandate they all said – no.

Tom Tugendhat MP stood on a hill shouting “clean start,” but it was as if no one was listening. He said he was in mortal fear of the leader of the opposition. He shifted around in an uneasy manner.

Liz Truss MP wanted to emphasise that she was “honest” but admitted to not being “slick” as she sideswiped the other candidates. Here neo-Thatcher stance is thinning as quickly as it arrived. Word of the night was – bold.

“Time for a change” was Kemi Badenoch MP’s mantra. Being brave and asking for unity are all designed to create good vibes. The Twittersphere has dubbed her #badenough as if to mark that as the criteria for winning. To target the giveaway candidates Badenoch said there’s “no easy option”.

As the front running Rishi Sunak MP, former Chancellor, got the most kick backs from other candidates. “I want to be honest” and responsible were his themes. He put the stress on prudent conservatism, a phenomenon that may not exist anymore.

Penny Mordaunt MP was all about saying she’s a team player but not acting like one. Asking for an innovative approach and that the system is broken is appropriate. Sadly, filling the vacuum with nothing much hasn’t helped her case. She’s the spend, spend, spend candidate. She told a fib about the state of the polls too.

Robot like, Truss wanted it known that she has “served” and will stand up to Putin. She stressed her legacy of trade deals and getting things done. Her project fear was to mention the inflationary spiral of the 1970s. Truss and Mordaunt can across as arrogant and patronising by calling for change but being unclear what change is needed.

Badenoch was not ashamed of her role in Government. Strangely for a politician she hit out at the others by saying “talking is easy” Tugendhat is a fan of nuclear power and never misses an opportunity to mention his military service.

Sunak was the only one to come across as relaxed. Open shirts are his uniform. He was unshaken as he skilfully batted back all the balls bowled directly at him. If there was a winner – he was it.


There are echoes of the past in what’s happening now. One of these echoes is the exclamation that it’s getting more and more like the seventies. It’s a reaction to the turbulence and uncertainty that is all around. Especially when the spectre of inflation and recession is looming over us.

It’s easy to have mixed feelings about that decade. It can be said that the sixties were more revolutionary when it comes to the explosion of progressive attitudes and societal change.

The seventies weren’t a homogeneous period. In Britain, those turbulent 10-years culminated in a major political transformation as Thatcherism kicked-off in 1979. Romanising the seventies is foolish. That’s particularly the case when drawing comparisons between the here and now.

Life expectancy is one indicator[1]. The enormous improvement since the 70s is self-evident. What’s concerning about the situation is being put in jeopardy by a considerable slowing in these figures in recent years.

This chimes with lived experience. I remember pubs so full of smoke that the walls were stained, and a fog hung over the bar. Health and Safety legislation too. Car seatbelts and motorcycle crash helmets all helped reduce early fatalities. Workplaces have improved dramatically. Shivers run down my spin when I consider some of the toxic chemicals that were used in engineering and agriculture.

No way should anyone sane want to go back to the full 70s experience. That’s not to say there are cultural highlights that made a positive contribution to life in the UK. Punk rock coinciding with the Queen’s jubilee created a world of colour and vitality that has been lacking in the 202os.

Star Wars fans will no doubt cite Star Wars. There were some dam good movies made in the 70s. I’m seeing the mirror ball rotating, as the music from Saturday Night Fever rings in my ears.

On the technology side it was the time when the ground was broken. Microsoft and Apple own their success to the availability of early digital “chips”. A degree of that came from the strides made as the Apollo programme forced the advancement of digital technology. The Cold War played its part too.

On a personal note, motorcycles played a pivotal role in my decade. Growing up in a rural community the importance of mobility cannot be undenied. It was fun. It was freedom. It was exciting. I’d watch, and sometime marshal at road racing, grass track and motocross meetings[2]. I’m only here because a mate pulled me out of the path of an oncoming Laverda[3] side car outfit at a grass track meeting near Mere.

From 1970, to the day 1980 arrived much changed. Summing it up there were better times ahead.

POST: There were better cars ahead too. But I still have affection for my bright red Sunbeam Imp Not a Mini but a Sunbeam Imp | Articles | Classic Motorsports





Do you, like me get a bit fed-up with the constant stream of marketing speak in everyday life?

In this short article, I will explore new opportunities, showcase the state-of-the-art developments, and talk ground-breaking claptrap. Dynamic and comprehensive, this will rock your assumptions. Long-lasting valuable connection will be made tapping into a new global dimension. This is a chance of opening a window into an amazing array of innovative thinking. Unlock the immense range of possibilities for using super words used with passion to beef up drab and unsubstantial stuff. This is designed to deliver unprecedented levels of performance and power. Spearheading the drive to help everyone take bold decisions and make bold reforms.

I’ll stop before the page explodes. To be clear, I’m not making an argument for everyday communication to read like a legal textbook or a children’s annual but surely there’s a reasonable line to be drawn. Overselling anything has the habit of leading to disappointment. Regret creeps in after the realisation that accolades and exaggerations were only there to hook you like a fish. That’s the Brexit story in a nutshell.

Believe it or not, I’m not just talking about the on-going British Conservative party leadership elections.

Looking at my e-mail in-box there’s more than a few marketing e-mails that I should be unsubscribing. A quick review shows that the amount of useful information is likely to be less than tenth of what’s staring me in the face. The rule change from needing people to opt-in rather than opt-out of subscriptions hasn’t made a lot of difference to the stream of selling e-mails. I have a few bugbears that I’ll get off my chest. Bells ring whenever these words are used like confetti.

The overuse of the word “global” when often the context is far from global, is tedious. There’re about 200 countries, 1000s of languages and a huge range of cultural diversity in the world. Global is often used to signify a narrow band of technologically savvy suited and booted types. That’s far from the English dictionary meaning of the word. The term “world-class” is in the same league too.

Everything is “advanced,” it’s innovative and state-of-the-art. Pick up a 1970s car or computer brochure, and guess what? Everything is “advanced,” it’s innovative and state-of-the-art. These words are short cuts for the polish put on the new. Time being what it is, it never stands still. So, the cutting-edge of today becomes the amusing and “classic” of tomorrow. Wait long enough and it becomes “vintage”.

The word “bold” is doing the rounds too. It’s a dash of paint that gives the dull and boring the ability to stand out in public. Claim that something as bold and it doesn’t matter how many stupid things you do because they were bold. In many cases, the word means that the user was advised not to do something dangerously risky but they did it anyway. So take care when someones says they have: “taken bold decisions and made bold reforms.” Look at the small print. The word “grit” is in the same league too.

I admit that I’m one of the worst offenders when using the word “challenge.” It’s one of those convenient words that rolls off the tongue because its sounds more authoritative than saying “difficult”. Yes, it’s complex and nothing stays the same for long. For the sake of brevity, and not being bothered to say why change is hard, I’ll say it’s a challenge.

This blog has been curated just for you. For optimum impact in this ever-changing world, I’ll land a big full-stop here.

Fundamental schisms

Today, we have a UK Conservative Government running against a UK Conservative Government. Elections can be strange but this one is stranger than most. Even the rules for the election have been made-up as the process moves forward. Changing the rules is becoming a habit.  

Each candidate for British Prime Minister is pointing out the errors of the past and dire problems the country faces. With some, at the same time, sitting in a lame duck administration, these candidates are heralding how their personal qualities elevate them above the herd. How they are ready to lead. As if they had emerged from nowhere. As if a curtain can be drawn over Boris Johnson premiership.

When reporters ask about their record in the House of Commons, a quick sidestep is the most common approach. The general defence offered for our dire situation is that of quoting a list of global events. COVID, war and economic downturn. Yet we all know that these global events would have occurred whatever UK Government had been in power.

It’s like saying we have just travelled over an unmade-up road and then blaming the condition of the road for any damage done. That the driver, and political decision-makers in the country have no responsibility for the folly, harm, and pain of the last 7-years (2015-now). Yet, even as the road gets rougher those sitting next to the driver are trying to grab the steering wheel.

As bizarre as anything this Conservative Government limps on with a dominant parliamentary majority despite only commanding 44% of the votes cast back in 2019. As the turmoil continues under their watch, their national poll rating is sustaining a dip below 30% of the electorate.

This political whirlwind will not be stopped by shifting the political deckchairs. There are fundamental schisms within the Conservative party. It’s very evident from the camps being formed by the party candidates for Prime Minister. No new leader will be able to hold this fracture bunch together.

The Brexit Bolsheviks do not want to make peace. They see their roles are permanent revolution. They will always see the post-referendum era as work unfinished. It’s a partisan drive to a utopia of isolation. It’s the complete opposite to what the country needs. Confidence has truly been lost. In so many ways this Conservative Government has no legitimacy. The representatives in this British parliament have lost public confidence. It’s time for them to go.

Time & Life

How we experienced the 1970s depends much on age. How we remember too. No rocket science in those words. If, like me you are in your 60s then that decade spanned the ages of 10 to 20 years. Those years are, in anyone’s life, formative and leave a lasting impression. How can they not? It was the steps from dependency as a child to becoming a self-supporting adult.

If you are in your 70s or above, then that decade was fully part of your adult life. If you are in your 50s or younger, then that decade is mostly hearsay and remembered as a child’s eye view.

These simple facts shape how we interpret the myths and legends of that turbulent era in our national story. It was a time of great change ond uncertainty.

Have we reverted? Are the 2020s to be a 1970s style decade? Is it like we are living in a time shifted version of the film Back to the Future? Maybe 50-years passing is a trigger that romanticises the past.

Just as a quick brainstorm, these random 70s events come to the fore in my mind: Moon landings. Cold War. The 3-day week. Strikes. The fuel crisis. Inflation. Arguments over Europe. Massive variety of pop music, from hippies to punk. Black and White TV. Early days of personal computing. Japanese motorcycles. Haymaking, markets, cattle, and pigs. And places: Wincanton, Yeovil, and Coventry.

One aviation event, that did leave a mark, even though it happened a long way from my West Country upbrings, was the Staines air crash[1]. This remains a pivitol event in British civil aviation history. Some good did come out of this tragic fatal accident. I still have on my desk a UK CAA coster celibrating 30 years of the Mandatory Occurance Reporting (MOR) scheme 1976-2006. I wonder if that aircraft accident affected my subsequent career path. 

On the question of stepping back in time, it’s surly true that a repeat of what went before is not on the cards in this decade. Even if reflections show common ground emerging. Aspects of human behaviour do echo down the years. The German philosopher Hegel once said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” I don’t agree with him. Nevertheless, it’s as well to pay heed to this notable quote. It’s as if we collectively take our eyes off our shared history and then the customs, habits and ways of the past take over. This takes us back to treading the lazy path of the same old, same old, again and again. It doesn’t need to be like that but that’s where we are this week.


Caught in the crossfire?

There’s no doubt the relative calm of the beginning of this century, yes, it seems extraordinary to say that has gone and a series of international events confront civil aviation’s way of working. It’s dramatic. In Europe, most countries, and their industries are shifting the way they operate.

Unfortunately, any reasonable observation shows that the situation for aviation is worse in the UK. Well, that is worse than the UK’s former partner States in the European Union (EU).

In times of difficulty partnerships, between counties and in industry help make the absolute most of economies of scale. It’s difficult to plan when constantly firefighting. It’s like that comic story about crocodiles and draining the swam. It’s difficult to think ahead when surrounded by crocodiles.

I agree with the article posted by David Learmount[1]. The massive efforts to achieve international harmonization in aviation regulation, over decades is of incalculable value. I have been lucky enough to work with exceptional people across the globe and played a small part in helping that move along.

In fact, I’d go further than David. I remember, quite a while ago, attending a lecture at the Brooklands Museum[2]. It was about the history of post-war UK Government involvement in aerospace manufacturing[3]. It wasn’t a happy story. It went a bit like a soap opera with technical excellence mixed with commercial incompetence and political interference. The overall lesson was that going it alone, piling on the world beating rhetoric and an inability to forge working alliances spells disaster. Whereas coming together, working cooperatively, and building multinational partnership pays dividends. Airbus being a prime example.

I joined the European Union Aviation Safety Organisation (EASA) as the start of its operation. It was a huge privilege. It was a rare opportunity. I mean, how many people get to set-up a new aviation authority, let alone one that works for so many States in Europe? I was proud that the UK took a leading role in making this venture happen. It was a progression that had been careful and thoughtfully developed and steered over decades.

What we built was a uniquely European solution. It isn’t a federal construction as we see in the United States (US). In Europe, National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) remain a key part of the system. The part that was new in September 2003 was to overcome a major deficiency of earlier cooperative working. That was the unfortunate habit nation States have for saying that’ll do the same thing but then not doing the same thing in practice.

David mentions the tricky subject of UK Additional Requirements for import. This is when the UK demanded a special difference between its aircraft and those of other countries. Often expensive and making it difficult to move aircraft around. I remember some UK Additional Requirements found their way into new European requirements and others were removed. That was a painful transition period. In aviation, technical requirements are often born of experience of accidents and incidents.

Today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) works with a set of technical requirements that have been rolled over from the UK’s time as an EASA Member State (2003 – 2021). This presents opportunities to take a new path. Sounds tempting, if only you look at the subject superficially.

International technical standards never stand still. Big players invest resources influencing the direction that they take. Two of the biggest international players in respect of aerospace design and production are EASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

So, UK CAA is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Unless it can significantly influence the big players the only practical way forward is to adopt what they produce (rules, regulations, standards, guidance material). Now, the UK CAA has considerable technical experience and maintains a high reputation, but it does not sit at all the tables where the major decisions are made.

This is the concern that David mentions in his article. The unnecessary ideological exit from EASA membership, that came with Brexit places the UK in a third-party arrangement. Not good.

It’s not like the world has suddenly become dull. Frantic development efforts and huge sums of money are being pumped into greening aviation. Part of this is the new Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Part of this is known as Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Aviation folk love acronyms. It’s almost as if we are back at the beginning of the jet-age[4]. We know how that went.

Not surprisingly, the UK wants to achieve successes in this new field of “green” aviation.

Flying is a heavily regulated industry. So, national, regional, and international rulemaking processes matter. They matter a lot. Harmonisation matters a lot. That’s having common rules and regulations to maximise the size of the marketplace while ensuring levels of safety and security are high.

The bureaucratic burden of Brexit costs. It’s not free. The UK duplicates rulemaking activities because it must independently update its laws, all the secondary legislation and guidance material that comes with aviation. When there’s a significant difference between UK, Europe, US, and the rest of the world it makes business more complex. Often that added complexity comes with no discernible benefits (economic, social, safety, security, or environmental).

The UK should become an EASA Member State once again. Why not? Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein are not in the EU but are EASA Member States. Across the globe countries follow EASA rules as they are known to deliver the best results.





Island chaos

Aviation is an international industry. Britain has been “No longer an Island”[1] for over 120 years. As the Wright Brothers demonstrated practical powered flight, so the importance of sea travel began a decline. Nothing in history has shaped the British more than our island status. Living on an island has moulded attitudes, character, and politics.

The illusion of absolute national autonomy and sovereignty is shattered by the interconnection and interdependencies established by flight. Aviation’s growth encouraged a lowering of impediments between nations and geographic regions. In some respects, this has been a two-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s more cooperative working across the globe than there has ever been. On the other hand, conflict crosses natural barriers with much greater ease.

Affordable rapid air travel and growing freedom of movement have been a great boom in my lifetime – the jet age. At the same time, it’s not new that nationalist politicians continue to fear the erosion of difference between the British and the nations of continental Europe, brought about by commercial aviation. Ironically, it’s now the newer digital industries that pose the greatest threat to the illusion of complete independence.

In this context the failure to tackle the critical understaffing at British airports is deep rooted. Lots of finger pointing and experts blaming each other with a catalogue of reasons misses the damage that’s being done by nationalist “conservative” politicians.

Staffing shortages, poor planning and the volume of people looking to travel have led to huge queues and many flight cancellations across UK airports.

Yes, today’s travellers have learnt to take a great deal for granted. They are no longer impressed with the ability to check their emails and watch a movie at 30,000 feet above the sea. So, when the basics go wrong, and flights are seemingly arbitrarily cancelled, queues are long and delays are frequent, the backlash is real.

A UK Minister’s[2] reluctance to restore some freedom of movement to European aviation workers to alleviate the current chaos is an example of blindness to reality. Looking at the historic context, I guess, we should not be surprised that this dogmatic UK Government is so blinkered. Any acknowledgement that the imposition of Brexit is a big factor in airport chaos is far more than their arrogant pride can take. Sadly, expect more problems.



Weights and measures

Contrary to the twisted rhetoric coming from the Conservative Government, the European Union (EU) never forced UK to abandon imperial measurements. The cheap politics played with this subject is designed to create a false narrative. Sadly, one that got an extensive outing during the Brexit referendum debates in 2016. The UK adopted metric measurements in the mid-1960s, with historic imperial measures continuing beside metric. Miles, pints, yards, and alike are part of everyday British life. There’s no public demand to change the status quo. That is, except for die-hard campaigners and jingoistic journalists. Conservative propaganda on imperial measurements is a distraction from the real and dramatic increases in the cost of living.

Consumers and industry benefit from international standardisation. It eases and enables economies of scale, price transparency, movement of goods and education and training. Major UK retailers have commented that returning to solely imperial weights and measures is complete and utter nonsense. It’s a romanisation of lost era when the map was coloured pink with the British Empire. Modern Britain needs the best set of measures available.

Calling proposals to bring back imperial units a Brexit “opportunity” prompts genuine despair amongst many people. Today, the UK pragmatically works between some remaining imperial units and the universal metric system, as used almost everywhere else in the world.

The decimal system for currency was introduced in 1971. Factors of ten are now ingrained in the education and training of everyone in the UK. I’m sure, noone sane wants to reverse decimalisation. If they, do it’s probably a tiny cohort of people who prefer Roman numerals and Latin to be used in all public documents. Living in the past, and returning to shillings and pence will just make people poorer.

Bringing back imperial measurements, as primary weights and measures would signal to the world that the UK prefers to be seen as a living museum rather than a progressive nation.

Even those politicians promoting such ridiculous proposals haven’t thought it through. Just imagine filling up a British car with petrol listed in gallons rather than litres. It took a long time to make that transition. When petrol was last listed in gallons the price was under £2 per gallon. Now, the pumps would show over £8! Whatever the logic, the public reaction to that sharp change would be vocal. Demands for an immediate cut in fuel duty would likely follow.

The Conservative Government’s consultation maybe heavily loaded but it’s important that people respond. There’s no good reason to issue a blank check for a foolish policy.

Choice on units of measurement: markings and sales – GOV.UK (

Make your views known. Let’s not go backwards. The past should enlighten, not suffocate.

Post Note: As inflation rages on, so it has been reported that a full tank of petrol, for the average car, now costs over £100 in the UK. Media reports chose not to use imperial or metric units to describe this price hike in their headlines. The new unit is: One Tank. When comparing petrol cars with electric cars, I suppose it can usefully to use this to equate to One Charge. Our lexicon of common units continues to evolve.

Gap Grows

There’s need for urgent action. There’s need for a new plan. There’s need for a new Government.

“One rule for them. Another rule for us.” It’s always an emotive slogan. It’s not my favourite saying in a time of great political polarisation. First you must see yourself as, one of us. Second you must see them as alien and privileged.

In a divided society this slogan gets thrown around like candy. However, it has a core truth in it. Inequality is a fixture in England. It was fine for Blair and Brown to say: education, education education, but they only shifted the dial a small amount.

Recently, I did a guided tour around a well-known English public school. Its history is fascinating, and some notable people have gone through its doors. The experience of schooling in that place is a huge leg up on prospects. There’s absolutely no way that a state school experience can match up.

One of the factors is the huge resources focused on creating opportunity for each pupil. Another, advantage is the closeted environment that creates a private network of lifelong contacts.

What then of “levelling up”? As a political slogan it seems to imply an almost communist attempt to increase the wellbeing, opportunity, and quality of life for every single citizen to a new common level. That makes me wonder why equivalents like eliminate poverty or prioritise education or fix climate change aren’t getting a look in.

Could it be that “levelling up” is in fact “covering-up”? Objective measures say that the gap between the richest in society and the rest of the population has widened over 10-years[1]. Rather than a natty political slogan surely corrective action to address this gap is needed.

This year household finances are going to be under extreme pressure. A cost-of-living crisis is upon us. It’s not just energy bills. It’s post-COVID-19 business failures. It’s supply chain chaos made worse by BREXIT. It’s incompetence and waste in Government responses.

Unfortunately, this Conservative Government has forfeited any trust people may have had in it. Trust matters if solutions to our challenges are to be met and overcome. Trust is broken when one privileged group demands the right to cling to power regardless of circumstances.

There’s need for urgent action. There’s need for a new plan. There’s need for a new Government.