web analytics



Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.


Call For Free 15/M Consultation



Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "The North"

Jake Scott: To defend the ‘Blue Wall’, Tory MPs must be prepared to defy the whip

Jake Scott is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham and Editor of The Mallard.

After the 2019 Election, Boris Johnson made the remarkable statement in recognition of the fact that life-long Labour voters had lent the Conservative Party their votes.

Such an observation was so remarkable because it acknowledged two phenomena simultaneously. First, the deep tribalism that had marked the British party-political landscape for time immemorial. Second, the implicit contract made between the ‘Northern Red Wall’ voters and those Welsh and Midland seats that turned blue, and the Conservative Party, over a desire to finally ‘Get Brexit Done’.

The problem with contracts is their transience; once the parties have fulfilled their promises, the contract ends, and the parties part ways. The Northern voters have upheld their promise and given the Conservatives the opportunity they asked for; now the Conservatives must deliver.

This delivery is typically taken to be two main goals: deliver Brexit, and level-up the nation.

Each of these goals are commendable in themselves, and in many ways the Conservatives are already delivering on both. Llegally, Britain left the European Union on January 31, even if this process is in no way finished. Meanwhile Rishi Sunak has made risky but significant spending promises, almost definitely emboldened further by Johnson’s indications against austerity, to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, reliance on Westminster and central government is to only tell half the story. The Government could deliver its shiny projects, connecting Birmingham to London and save commuters fifteen minutes, but what will that really do for Red Wall voters? Even those areas of the West Midlands that voted Conservative for the first time in so long – Walsall, Dudley North, West Bromwich West – are largely disconnected from the actual economy of the Birmingham metropole that the ripple effects of HS2 will be practically negligible.

Trickle-down economics has been mostly disproven over the last thirty years – something that the Brexit vote revealed to us. ‘Delivering Brexit’ is now about so much more than simply leaving the European Union: wrapped up in that promise is the implicit acceptance of the failure of the neoliberal paradigm that has gutted communities and left many, such as Wrexham or Margate, feeling forgotten or ‘left behind’.

In this country, Members of Parliament typically act in line with Edmund Burke’s dictum of 1774, when he argued that: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.

This model, called the Trustee Model, has served to guide the behaviour of our elected representatives: country first, constituency second, and party third.

Of course, since the 1770s, Britain has changed in many ways, least of all in the emergence of the phenomenon of party politics. When Burke was speaking, he was entering Parliament as a largely independent-acting representative, beholden to his own judgement, the influence of his sponsors, and his electors – largely in that order. He would probably be wary of the emergence of parties as we now know them.

Therefore, I believe Burke’s warning ought to be held in reverse also: MPs owe their parties, not their industry only, but their judgement, and betrays, instead of serving the Party, if they sacrifice this judgement to Party opinion. In other words, should the MP find the interest of their constituents conflicts with the party whip, it might be prudent to vote against that whip.

MPs in the area now known as the Red Wall face a dilemma: their party, the Conservative Party, has a historical record of sacrificing local economies to the national one, and of prioritising Westminster over, well, every other constituency. The crux of the fulcrum is here, and Britain can go in one of two directions: it can continue on the direction of travel of the last few decades, and concentrate political and economic power in London further, which would only carry on the trends the Brexit vote rejected but at the national level; or it can take a different route, one often associated with ‘One Nationism’.

As I say, delivering this through shiny projects is one thing. The other is the corollary of representation: responsiveness. Voters need to feel that the disconnect of the pre-Brexit years is being undone, that their concerns are listened to, and their MPs will act on them. The key part of this is strong MPs.

The reason we have constituencies is not simply efficient and simple voting mechanisms; it is for responsiveness, that the distant halls of Westminster are brought closer to those with the power to fill them. Part of this responsiveness will be to more stridently resist the party whip where it goes against their constituents’ best interests.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Nissan and Sunderland: Another blow for Project Fear

In the run up to, and indeed beyond, the 2016 referendum, Brexiteers were subjected to all sorts of apocalyptic predictions about Britain’s future without the EU. From warnings around economic collapse, to being told the country would be weakened at an international level, pessimism was all the rage.

By far one of Remainers’ most hysterical claims was that the car industry, one of Britain’s most successful sectors, would not survive in a Brexit world. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders proclaimed that leaving without a deal would lead to “permanent damage”, and The Guardian cautioned of “existential terror” among automotive executives.

Yesterday, however, was something of a wake-up call for Project Fear. Japanese carmaker Nissan has announced that it’s shutting down its Barcelona site while keeping its Sunderland plant open (thereby protecting 6,000 jobs). Although this is sad, of course, for those affected in Spain, it indicates how favourable the UK market is seen – contrary to Remainer forecasts.

The news follows reports earlier this month that Nissan is in talks to move the production of two of its Renault models, Kadjar and Captur, from Spain to the site in the North East. The French government is desperately trying to block this, through a €5bn loan guarantee for Renault, but ultimately it doesn’t look good.

The developments at Nissan are extraordinary for two reasons. For one, they signal high confidence in the British market, even in the midst of a pandemic. Coronavirus has badly hit the car industry, with Nissan suffering a £5 billion net loss in the last financial year – its worst result for more than a decade. And yet, in the process of slimming down its operations, the company clearly sees the UK as a safe bet.

The other surprise is that Nissan has previously been critical about Brexit, warning that its entire business “both in the UK and in Europe is not sustainable in the event of WTO” tariffs. These words convinced people that Britain would lose out if the manufacturer had to pick a side – a suspicion that wasn’t entirely flawed given the size of Europe. On the contrary, Nissan has invested over £4 billion in its Sunderland site since the referendum result, including a £52 million new production line, and even planned for a No Deal Brexit. Its long-term commitment to Britain is indisputable.

There are multiple reasons Nissan has gone in this direction. As Ross Clark points out in The Spectator, “Britain is not just a producer of cars, it is a very large market for them, too”. Elsewhere it is suggested that Nissan has spotted a competitive advantage to staying in the country, if rival carmakers face tariffs and it does not. The move could see its UK market share boosted from four to 20 per cent

But overall it makes sense for it to change its focus from Europe, where its sales have dropped 17 per cent, thanks to a sharp decline in diesel demand. Going forward, Nissan said it will focus on several “key markets”, such as Japan, North America and China. Perhaps the Brexiteers who advocated for a “Global Britain” will be finally vindicated, as well as anyone who was optimistic that Britain could blossom without the EU. Nissan’s decision could inspire many other manufacturers to follow.

Though there have been concerns in recent weeks about whether the UK and EU will reach a trade deal, with both parties playing hardball as negotiations intensify, the Nissan deal couldn’t have come at a better moment for David Frost and his team. Not only does it signal optimism in the UK’s market, but it’s a crucial demonstration of what could happen if the EU does not move closer to Britain’s demands; No Deal might mean Goodbye Nissan. And, as the fanatical Remainers will be able to tell Barnier best, no one wants to lose their car industry.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Andrea Leadsom: The legacy that I have left my successor at the Business Department

Andrea Leadsom is a former Business Secretary, and is MP for South Northamptonshire.

Losing your job, whatever job you do, is tough.

But after what was only six months running the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, I want to pay tribute to the fantastic work of the many different civil service teams I worked with.  And we achieved a tremendous amount, right from the first day when I sat down with my new ministerial team, and I put the question to them: ‘What do we want BEIS to be famous for?”

Early on we set out a clear mission for the department: to build a stronger, greener United Kingdom. And to deliver that mission we agreed there would be three key priorities.

  • First, that the UK will lead the world in tackling global climate change.
  • Second, that we will solve the Grand Challenges facing our society.
  • And third, that we will make the UK the best place in the world to work and to grow a business.

Of course, six months is not enough. But I am really proud of what we did in that time – and I want to share with you some of my actions as Business Secretary.

Leading the world in tackling global climate change

The UK has a strong record on climate change that is wrongly ignored. We’ve reduced emissions by 43 per cent since 1990, while the economy has grown by 72 per cent. We’re decarbonising faster than any other G20 country.

But there is much more to do – and a huge “early-mover” advantage in doing it. Low carbon technology and investment has already led to 460,000 green-collar jobs in the UK: and the Government aims to reach two million by 2030.

To achieve our Net Zero by 2050 target, we have to look across the entire economy. So within the department ,we produced a ‘roadmap to net-zero’, setting out, industry by industry, a timetable for producing the different decarbonisation plans across every sector of the economy.  The intention is that by the time Glasgow hosts COP 26 this November, we will have already mapped out our own pathway to Net Zero in the UK.

A key part of that pathway to Net Zero will be mapped out in the Energy White Paper due (to be launched in the middle of this month) which will set out the routes to doubling electricity generation to meet the massive expected hike in demand as we decarbonise everything from transport to industry, homes and buildings.

Keeping the lights on whilst we transform power generation is no small task, and the questions of changing the grid to accommodate new connections, the subsidy basis for renewables, as well as the need to minimise the impact of grid infrastructure on local communities are all key considerations.

Emissions have significantly decreased in the power sector as a result of the changes we have made to how we power the grid. In 2019, renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time.

While I was at BEIS, we built on this, adding 6GW of clean energy to the grid by 2025 – enough to power over seven million homes at record low costs. Offshore wind plays a key part in UK power generation and will deliver at least a third of our electricity by 2030.

Of our current energy supply, only a small percentage now comes from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.  But I was pleased we have now announced we will cut coal from the grid entirely by 2024, and will no longer provide any new direct official development assistance, export credit, investment or trade promotion for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas.

To find alternative sources of clean energy, I announced a £200 million initial fund to design and build a nuclear fusion power plant by 2040, delivering what will be clean, safe and inexhaustible power. We have also made great progress in supporting the development of small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors – keeping the UK’s strong commitment to developing new sources of nuclear power.

An announcement that caught lots of attention – including from constituents – was the moratorium on shale gas extraction. I have always set out a clear position on fracking – that it can only be done if it can be done safely. As scientific analysis following the seismic activity at Preston New Road showed, we cannot currently be certain its risks are manageable and so, until that evidence changes, I took the decision to call a halt.

It’s now widely accepted that changes to our energy supply are crucial to reduce our carbon emissions – but there is also a real effect on customers and their bills, so it was good news that Ofgem announced the price cap for energy will fall by £17 – saving money for around 11 million households.

The Energy White Paper will be followed later this year by the BEIS plan for the decarbonisation of business and industry – as the second biggest emitting sector after transport, there is a big opportunity to focus on carbon capture, usage and storage, and emerging hydrogen technologies, to provide not only a significant reduction in carbon, but also a significant boost to the economy in the industrial clusters in the North of England, in Scotland and in Wales, where the levelling up agenda is so vital.  Ensuring energy costs are competitive will be critical for the future success of UK heavy industry such as steel and ceramics.

The key carbon emitting sector, that BEIS has done a great deal of work of is transport. Together with the Department for Transport, we have announced government investment of up to £1 billion over five years to boost the production of key green technologies in the motor industry. We have committed £400 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure including 3,600 new electric car charge points to be installed on residential streets, giving ‘range confidence‘ to those who want to switch to electric.

We have also announced a government consultation on bringing an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035, or even earlier if a faster transition is possible.

There’s no doubt that citizens across the UK are eager to do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint.  So the creative online team in BEIS are building a new app aimed at younger audiences to provide advice on how individuals and families can take action.

I look forward to its launch, as well as to its second phase which will be designed to help businesses and the public sector. Working with schools, universities and voluntary groups such as Scouts and Guides will help young people to contribute positively to the widely shared ambition of a zero carbon future.

But of course, the UK is just one country – and to limit climate change in a meaningful way, the entire world needs to share this common goal. That’s why the Prime Minister doubled our international climate finance spend from £5.8 billion to £11.8 billion in September, and I launched the Ayrton Fund, a new £1 billion fund to provide clean energy innovation to developing countries.

Since 2011, UK climate finance has provided 26 million people with improved access to clean energy. It has supported 57 million people to improve their defences against the effects of climate change; reduced or avoided 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; and installed 1,600MW of clean energy capacity. It’s a strong contribution to tackling global climate change that I was proud to be a part of.

When we host COP 26, I hope that we will deliver some game changing major agreements, such as:

  • Creating an internationally recognised carbon offset licensing body;
  • Announcing significant bilateral/multilateral pledges for reforestation and renewable energy generation;
  • Launching an international ‘green finance’ bank that will support the long term investment necessary.
  • Creating a Year Book, with each nation providing its own page of pledges, commitments and achievements that can be built on each year.

Whilst I was unable to attend COP 25, I understand from others who were there that major challenges in agreeing legally binding action are ‘accountability’ i.e: “why should we risk our economic development?” And ‘accounting’” i.e: “what are the agreed measurements for carbon reduction?”

COP 26 must address these challenges, and I am delighted that Alok Sharma will be taking on the role of COP President as well as being BEIS Secretary of State – combining the policy responsibility with the delivery of global agreement is, in my view, the right approach.

Solving the Grand Challenges facing our society

The second key priority we established for BEIS is to solve the grand challenges facing our society – helping us live longer, healthier lives; to boost productivity right across the UK; and to seize the extraordinary opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution – from automation to artificial intelligence, and from robotics to advanced manufacturing to space technology.

As part of this, we announced a wave of programmes – worth a total of nearly £500 million – to help improve lives and increase productivity:

  • Research into care robots that could make caring responsibilities easier;
    research into teenage mental health issues;
  • Developing supercomputers to better predict everything from weather events to traffic jams;
  • Creating a new productivity institute to level up right across the UK.
    and digitising museum exhibitions to make them accessible to everyone

Projects like these mean our brilliant UK science sector can create real change that benefits us all.  We also announced the intention to create a UK Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) – a new body that will fund pure scientific discovery, using the best brains in the world to develop new ideas that can change the world.

We launched the world’s largest genetics project, which sequences the genomes of 500,000 volunteers. This public-private collaboration will help scientists to understand, diagnose, treat and prevent life-changing and life-threatening diseases such as cancer and dementia.

To help us attract the best and brightest scientists to come and work on projects like these, we announced an unlimited fast-track visa scheme for the world’s top scientists and researchers, and a two year work visa for overseas students coming to the UK to study.

The Queen’s Speech committed to prioritising investment in infrastructure and world-leading science research and skills – helping us improve lives and productivity across the country.

But we also looked outward. To build on the UK’s existing world leading expertise in space, we announced record investment in the European Space Agency to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental, non-EU organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA brings together countries to collaborate on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme: which sends a UK-built rover to Mars to search for signs of life. The investment will help us monitor the impact of climate change – much of which can only be seen from space, as well as protect our power grid and improve communication and connectivity.

Making the UK the best place to work and to grow a business

My third key priority as Business Secretary was quite simply to make the UK the best place in the world to work and to grow a business.

Our highly professional teams of civil servants did this in many varied ways. When it came to Brexit, the Department worked flat out in the run up to last October to help businesses get ready for leaving the EU without an agreed deal:

  • Our Business Readiness Fund supported 124 Business Representative Organisations and trade associations;
  • We held 30 business events over five weeks as well as weekly online advice surgeries and business roundtables across the UK
  • I personally went to Belfast, Aberdeen, Cardiff and Manchester to host nine business roundtables and meet with over 250 different businesses, as well as attending daily Brexit cabinet committee meetings
  • We completed plans to support the Single Electricity Market between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as creating a help desk and financial support mechanisms for SMEs in the event of a no deal Brexit.
  • In tota,l BEIS gave specific, tailored advice to more than 5,000 businesses all over the UK, either face to face or online, in the run up to October 31.

Our commitment to ensuring the UK is the best place in the world to work was core to everything we did. I was proud to announce Jack’s Law a few weeks ago – introducing a new right to paid parental bereavement leave for working parents whose child dies under the age of 18, named after Jack Herd, a toddler who tragically drowned and whose mum, Lucy, campaigned for years for kinder employment laws.

I was delighted that our announcement on the National Living Wage at the start of this year will give the lowest-paid workers a 6.2 per cent pay rise from April 2020 – the biggest cash increase ever.

I also worked hard with Kelly Tolhurst on finalising the Employment Rights Bill, which was promised in the Queen’s Speech. The Bill will:

  • Enshrine the UK’s status as ‘best place in the world to work’ by encouraging flexible working as standard,
  • Introduce a new entitlement to leave for unpaid carers,
    ensure the right to transparency of employment terms and for regular working hours.

Working on this, together with the policy to introduce neonatal care leave, was a great pleasure, and I look forward to seeing the Bill introduced in draft.

On making the UK the best place in the world to grow a business, there remains much to be done.  I would like to see the creation of a UK Development Bank to support start ups and ‘scale ups’ (particularly for women and young entrepreneurs), green finance (for households and businesses), for building new infrastructure and for innovation finance as we build an economy fit for the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead.  The British Business Bank would be a good platform to build from.

The Small Business Commissioner will be given new powers to enforce the prompt payment code and, in order to provide easier access to existing grants, business advice and loan opportunities, BEIS have created a web based portal for SME users.

On corporate governance, after the failures of Carillion, Thomas Cook and others, we undertook a fundamental review, supported by the comprehensive work on audit of John Kingman, the Competiton and Markets Authority and Donald Brydon.

There’s no doubt in my mind that corporate directors need to be held to greater account for failure, including clawback of bonuses and even prosecution.  Audit needs to become a separate profession to provide more competition and better analysis of corporate challenges such as climate exposure and diversity performance.  The Stewardship Code needs to hold asset managers to account for their oversight of the businesses they invest in.  For the UK to be the best place in the world to grow a business, we need to ensure the ‘few bad apples’ don’t give UK business a bad name.

As Secretary of State, I was privileged to meet with some exceptional business owners and leaders, and there is no doubt that they too want to see the highest standards, whilst urging ‘good’ regulation rather than ‘more’ regulation.

Our Red Tape Challenge will give businesses large and small the chance to propose simpler and more logical regulations.

The final reflection on my time in BEIS was the work I did on individual corporate situations.  I would dearly have loved to finalise the sale of British Steel on my watch – a positive outcome is so close!  Good luck to Alok with getting it over the line: I was incredibly proud of the intense work the Steel Team, Nadhim Zahawi and I put in to make it happen.

On Flybe, keeping critical routes flying and regional airports thriving was a top priority for me. On Thomas Cook, a huge regret is that there was no viable way to save the company from its debt mountain – the taxpayer can never become the ‘bail out of last resort’ for companies whose directors appear to have been incompetent.  With the Department for Work and Pensions, we did everything possible to support the staff who lost their jobs, and to help those whose insurance claims against the holiday company were affected.

And there were a number of corporate takeovers that I investigated under the Enterprise Act – a vital part of protecting UK national security interests, and one that will be boosted by the introduction of the National Security and Investment Bill later this year.

So that’s just a flavour of the varied and fascinating work I did in BEIS – not bad for six months, particularly when you consider that at least six weeks of it was on the campaign trail.

I am grateful to the Prime Minister for giving me the chance to influence the direction of our economy at such a crucial time – when the world will be watching with great interest our direction of travel and our successes outside the EU.

This is an adapted version of an article that originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Antony Mullen: Why Sunderland is backing Newcastle to be the new home of CCHQ

Antony Mullen is the Chairman of the Sunderland Conservatives and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Sunderland City Council.

The rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle is best understood nowadays in footballing terms, but it has also been traced back to the English Civil War (in which Newcastle supported the Crown while Sunderland sided with Cromwell).

But in the debate about the relocation of CCHQ, there is no conflict: Sunderland is backing Newcastle.

With Number Ten actively in search of a new location which boasts good train links, a nearby university with leading maths and physics departments, and somewhere that is “well placed in political terms”, the Sunderland Conservatives are keen to highlight that our Tyne and Wear neighbour does not simply meet the criteria, but easily exceeds them.

Newcastle’s Central Station is well connected, with direct lines to cities across the country (including frequent and reliable services to both London and Edinburgh). The local Tyne and Wear Metro system operates throughout the city and connects it to the rest of Tyneside, as well as to Gateshead and Sunderland. The metro also runs to Newcastle Airport, which provides a further means of quickly getting from north to south.

On the university front, the city is home to two respected higher education institutions. Newcastle University, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is a prime example of a truly civic university, engaging the local community in its activities and drawing in huge crowds for its Insights Public Lectures series. Newcastle’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics – which is in the UK top 10 for research impact – addresses the (perhaps unusual) requirement that the new Conservative HQ must have nearby maths and physics departments.

In addition, Northumbria University is also located in the heart of the city while Durham University, which is just 20 minutes away by train, also has excellent Physics and Mathematical Sciences departments.

As well as having high-ranking universities and transport connections across the country, Newcastle boasts a rich cultural heritage, outstanding architecture, a famous nightlife, and incredibly friendly people.

Despite this, though, the strongest case for Newcastle relates to the final requirement set out by Number Ten – that the new venue should be “well placed in political terms”.

An office in the centre of Newcastle would bring the party machine closer – geographically and culturally – to our new supporters in Blyth Valley, North West Durham, Bishop Auckland, Redcar, Sedgefield, and Darlington. Moving as far north as Newcastle would show those voters who recently turned to the Conservatives, feeling betrayed by Labour, that we are with them for the long term, not just the parliamentary term.

Indeed, to move the party’s head office to Newcastle would be to park our tanks firmly on Labour’s lawn. Their northern headquarters, Labour Central, is also based in Newcastle. Having ours there too would not only show that we are serious about keeping our new north east seats, but that we intend to take those that Labour just held on to, like Sunderland Central and Wansbeck, at the next election.

If that wasn’t reason enough, a Newcastle-based campaign HQ would have a front-row seat when it comes to other important elections, like fighting to keep control of Northumberland County Council and the Tees Valley mayoralty.

Yet coming to the North East would not simply be an opportunity to enjoy what the region offers, but a chance to recognise what it cannot offer.

My Association was not able to suggest our own city as the new CCHQ location because it fell at the first hurdle. Sunderland is not very well connected to the rest of the country by rail. While there are direct services to York and London, Sunderland’s residents must travel to Newcastle to get trains to other northern cities. To travel from Sunderland to neighbouring Durham by rail isn’t an option: instead, an hour or more on a bus will get you to the centre of Durham, but two or more buses are required to travel elsewhere within the county. This is just a snapshot of how badly the North East, like other part of the north more generally, needs further transport investment.

Moving CCHQ to the North East would not just be a tokenistic gesture, but a commitment that the Conservative Party will live with and share in the problems that so many of us outside London face. Our proposal is both an invitation and a challenge: come and enjoy all that we have to offer – including the rail links and world-leading physics research – but take the opportunity to address what some north east towns and cities sadly lack.

The case for Newcastle is clear: it is close to the seats we must retain to keep our substantial majority at the next election and relocating here would highlight the party’s commitment to our new supporters in the region. Choosing Manchester or Birmingham, which both already enjoy hosting Conservative Party Conference biennially, would be a (predictable) step in the right direction, but choosing Newcastle would be a bolder move still.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Eddie Hughes: Yes, let’s move CCHQ resources to the regions. But do so authentically.

Eddie Hughes is MP for Walsall North.

Last month’s produced the largest Conservative majority since 1987, ended the Brexit impasse and saw the emergence of Blue Collar Conservatism – now the true voice of hard working people up and down this country. It’s vital that we demonstrate that we are worthy of the trust that these voters have placed in us.

With this in mind, one proposal being considered is the idea of slimming down the Conservative Party’s Central Office (CCHQ) in London and moving its resources to the regions. But this must go beyond mere symbolism. If we are going to set up a CCHQ in the regions we must do so in a manner that does not patronise nor condescend to those we are seeking to serve.

We can learn a number of lessons from the BBC’s decision to relocate large parts of its operation from London to Salford in 2011, in an attempt to create more specialised content and to boost their approval ratings in the North.

The BBC’s plans to better serve its audience in the North, by having northern people creating television shows that would appeal to a northern audience, appear not to have been realised. The 2017 National Audit Office report found that a total of 894 members of the existing London staff had been paid relocation allowances worth a total of £16 million – with just 39 people from Salford having been recruited to work at the new Salford based HQ. What’s the point of re-locating if you’re still almost exclusively employing people from London and not the area you’re moving to?

Dominic Cummings is thinking along the right lines. His blog proposed an unorthodox approach to the recruitment of new staff for Number Ten. I’m not suggesting that we adopt the same approach for the regional CCHQ office, but it would be appropriate to experiment with new ways of identifying talented people who may not naturally apply for such roles.

A similarly unorthodox approach has been adopted by a number of leading organisations, keen to move away from restricted talent pools, often exclusively made up of students at Russell Group universities with at least a 2:1 degree. Instead, they are choosing to focus on school leavers and unearthing the hidden talent that already exists in the labour market.

The publisher Penguin Random House, for example, has removed the ‘degree filter’ from its recruitment process, so that academic qualifications no longer act as a barrier to talented people entering the industry. Job applicants are encouraged to demonstrate their potential, creativity, strengths and ideas.

The advertising firm J Walter Thompson (JWT) has enacted an innovative recruitment process, moving away from its reliance on university leavers as its default source of talent. JWT has adopted a ‘blind CV’ recruitment, which will no longer be looked at until the candidates are whittled down to a much later stage. Instead, applicants are now asked to answer six questions which demonstrate their skills and suitability for the job, and their answers are used to assess them for interview selection. This has led to JWT focusing on candidates’ skills and talents rather than academic opportunity and achievement.

What surprised me most of all is how forward-looking our Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) has become. The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) recently ranked MI6 in the top 75 UK employers who have taken the most action on social mobility. In a bid to attract talented individuals who might not otherwise consider themselves to be suitable candidates, MI6 has launched a new recruitment programme aimed at increasing the number of female, ethnic minority and working class recruits.

Rather than focusing on academic credentials, candidates are being judged on the suitability of their skills to the role with job adverts focusing particularly on their problem-solving abilities, enthusiasm, team spirit and their determination to make a positive impact. MI6 continues to work hard to broaden its appeal and has committed to create a workplace that is representative of the country it serves. The Conservative Party would do well to follow its lead.

If we really are becoming the Party of Blue Collar Conservatives, capable of representing and reflecting the voices of hard working people up and down this country, our Party must be the change that we want to see.

The Prime Minister gets it. He has said many times that former Labour voters have “lent” us their votes for this election. So if we are to deserve their continued support, we need a wholesale upheaval of CCHQ, not just short-term, virtue-signalling tampering.

In December 2019, the Conservative Party took down the so-called Labour red wall across North Wales, the Midlands and Northern England. If we get this right, we have a once in a generation chance to obliterate it forever, to put the Labour Party into the dusty history books and to put in its place a Party that truly cares, understands and is equipped to improve the lives of so many people.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

David Skelton: How Johnson can cement the Tory position in the North

David Skelton is the author of Little Platoons: How a revived One Nation can empower England’s forgotten towns and redraw the political map. He founded Renewal, dedicated to broadening Tory appeal.

In many ways, I’m still pinching myself after the results in the North East last Thursday. My home town of Consett, once blood-red seats like Blyth Valley, and the heart of Tony Blair’s leadership in Sedgefield all voted Tory.

Places that saw being Labour as being part of their cultural, as well as their political identity, emphatically turned their back on Corbyn’s Labour. Friends and members of my family who once almost used “Tory” as a swear word started saying positive things about Boris Johnson a few months ago and could barely hide their distaste for Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of politics.

For years, Labour had been drifting away from their once core vote, taking these voters for granted and ignoring the region. Now they are reaping what they sowed and the North East has excellent MPs who will fight hard for the region, like Rick Holden in Consett and Dehenna Davison in Bishop Auckland.

 Now we have to make sure that what could be a temporary realignment in the North East becomes a permanent and lasting political transformation.

Labour’s heartland voters have been drifting away from them for years, knowing that the party had long ago stopped embodying their values or even sharing their concerns. It was the Brexit vote that crystallised this. The referendum was the first time in a generation that voters in places like Consett and Blyth had been able to make their voices heard on the national scale. The response of the party that was founded to ensure working class representation was to snobbishly dismiss the vote and call for a re-run. Little wonder that voters responded to Labour’s sneering disdain with a clear rejection in many North Eastern seats that Labour once saw as their fiefdoms.

The challenge now is to ensure that this wasn’t a one off loaning of votes and instead turns the North East blue for a generation or more. As I set out in my recent book, Little Platoons, our goal should be to bring about fundamental economic transformation to towns that have been long forgotten and ignored by politicians of both parties. The mission of the Government, once Brexit is achieved, must be to tackle the regional imbalances that means the City of London has GVA per head of £300,000 and County Durham has one of £16,000.

If we can be seen to have delivered this profound change for the better then we can not only hold on to the seats we’ve gained, but also gain newly marginal North Eastern seats such as Wansbeck, Stockton North and Sunderland Central are brought into play as well.

It’s heartening that the Government has already committed to big infrastructure spending in the North East and they should not be half-hearted in their ambition. Northern towns were amongst the biggest sufferers from the catastrophic Beeching cuts and subsequent cuts to transport. This meant towns like Consett and Stanley, with substantial populations, have had to rely on over-priced buses (it costs over a fiver return to get from Consett to Durham) and often poorly serviced roads. The government should ensure that North Eastern towns are no longer treated as an afterthought when it comes to transport links and should consider ambitious plans to use rail and light rail to link up the towns of the North East.

Many of the towns in the North East that voted Tory are also still suffering from many of the economic and social consequences of de-industrialisation. Skilled, dignified work that people were proud of was often replaced with low skilled, insecure work. We should look to re-industrialise some forgotten towns and bring about an economic revival with an ambitious industrial strategy that encourages and incentivises industrial investment. This should include declaring those towns that have been stagnating the most in recent decades as “prosperity hubs” and allowing them to do whatever it takes, including through the tax system, to encourage industrial investment and become specialist hubs for various industries.

These towns should also be at the centre of a vocational education revolution, with schools and colleges working with employers to deliver a robust education based on skill and vocation. Employer-partnered vocational centres of excellence should also be based in these Northern towns. For example, a centre for advanced engineering could be established in Sunderland, in partnership with Nissan.

Finally, the Government should take measures to improve the vibrancy of Northern town centres, many of which have become scattered with charity shops, bookmakers, and discount outlets. The focus on out-of-town retail and business parks should be reversed and measures taken to ensure that town centres again become community hubs, as well as places to shop, work and run a business.

Labour has abandoned the patriotic and communitarian values of the North Eastern voters who once made up the party’s core vote, in favour of an urban hipster socialism. And Labour’s reaction to their defeat last Thursday suggests that they are disinclined to learn lessons. This creates a real opportunity for the Conservatives to make the most of diminished loyalty to Labour throughout the North East and to turn the region blue for many years to come. The kind of measures I’ve suggested should be accompanied by pro-worker policies, such as a higher minimum wage and lifting the National Insurance threshold.

We successfully campaigned as the ‘workers’ party’, and gained a clear majority of working-class voters. Now we must govern as the workers’ party. In doing so we can bring about economic and political transformation to a long-ignored part of the country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

James Frayne: Tories need both policies and cultural strategies to bond with their new voters

James Frayne is Director of Public First and author of Meet the People, a guide to moving public opinion.

The Conservative Party has a Midlands and Northern working-class and lower-middle-class base. But the Party is still culturally Southern posh, with practically no activist base in the North of England.

The Government was elected by people it doesn’t know well, while the Party represents seats most senior Conservatives couldn’t place on a map.

Over the last few years, I can think of only a tiny number of people who endorsed the pivot that delivered the Party’s great victory. Most Conservatives in Westminster thought the future lay in creating an offer to the young professional class in cities. This was, we were told, the politically sophisticated approach. But here we are. How should the party meet this challenge?

Above all, by becoming the party of labour – in its genuine sense. Let’s strip away the extremely serious but short-term political issues of Brexit and Corbyn’s extraordinary unpopularity. What binds together those working class and lower middle class voters that moved to the Conservatives is this: they work hard – they really labour – and they want to see that labour fairly rewarded.

For many years – certainly since the end of Gordon Brown’s time in politics – they haven’t felt the Labour Party has represented those that labour like them. Instead, they think Labour worries mostly about people that don’t work. The Conservatives have been the beneficiaries of that.

Just before the election, I watched some old YouTube videos of Tony Blair just before he became Prime Minister in 1997. That was the first election I followed, but I’d forgotten what it was like. I was staggered by Blair’s language. Ruthlessly focused on job creation, economic growth, fair taxes, and fair working conditions, it sounded culturally totally alien to the modern Labour Party’s obsessions with identity and rights. He spoke about looking after the livelihoods of those that labour and who worry about paying their bills.

Those that Blair successfully attracted to the Labour Party have vanished, even from the constituency he represented. If the Conservatives decide seriously to become the party of labour, it will set in train a series of other decisions that will improve lives in these areas and reap electoral rewards.

What does this mean in practice? Let’s separate the cultural from the policy-specific.

Culturally, it means that the Party should constantly think about four things: labour should be fairly rewarded; those that labour should be able to provide adequately for their families; those that labour should be able to live locally; and that those that labour should live in pleasant places. In summary, the Conservatives should obsess about ensuring those that live in these newly won constituencies can work and live in their areas – with their families – and feel safe and happy as they do so.

Thinking about policies, what does this mean? That taxes should be as low as possible, so people can keep more of their money; the welfare system should reward those that work hard more than those that choose not to (those that can’t work are a separate case and should be treated very generously); corporate taxes should be as low as possible, particularly in less affluent areas, to encourage investment; local schools, colleges and universities in less affluent areas should be prioritised to ensure the local workforce is well-educated and highly skilled; the tax system should not make it harder for people to buy houses locally (throughout their lives, not least as they downsize); crime and anti-social behaviour should be tackled robustly; and high streets should be re-purposed to provide entertainment, not just consumer goods. There are clearly many more, but here’s a start.

The manifesto floated ideas that will help tackle these challenges. It was well thought-through and perfectly targeted. But there were areas that the party dodged, for understandable reasons. They ultimately avoided serious welfare reform and the introduction of a contributory model; their tax policies were quite timid, particularly for businesses; education and skills policies need greater detail; and policies to boost local high streets also now need serious attention.

But the job now is not to win an election but to improve these areas and keep working class voters for the longer-term. They should therefore treat the manifesto as the guiding light, not the final blueprint.

But it won’t be enough simply to enact policies. The Conservative Party needs to build an infrastructure to help them build an advocacy and fundraising framework across the Midlands and North. The experiences of Dominic Cummings and Danny Kruger will be crucial here. Cummings because, with his uncle, he personally built business support for the North East Says No campaign against a Regional Assembly in 2004. He created a small-c conservative network somewhere with few activists. And Kruger because of his extensive experience working with independent, voluntary groups who engage in social policy.

The Conservatives are going to struggle to simply recruit activists like they do in the South, with meetings in nice pubs and summer parties in donors’ gardens. In the Midlands and North, above all, they will need to harness business support and non-state social activist groups.

But this in turn takes us back to culture. If the top of the Party is still essentially Southern posh, how will it make the right decisions? Actually, the adviser class is remarkably provincial. At Number 10, Dominic Cummings, Munira Mirza, and Lee Cain all come from the North of England. Elena Narozanski’s spiritual home lies in the East Midlands. Across the departments, a number of advisers like Alex Wild come from the provinces.

But the Party will also need to create a federation of think tanks, campaigns, politicians, businesspeople, and voluntary groups who both understand these newly-won areas and who have a desire to improve lives here. The scale of the challenge is vast, but ultimately it’s a “good problem” to have. And the Conservatives have shown they’re capable of appealing to these voters.

One last thing: if the Conservatives don’t deliver Brexit then all of the above is irrelevant.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As of last week, the Tories are Britain’s working-class party

People will be picking through the aftermath of Thursday’s seismic election result for a long time to come, and perhaps no aspect of it more than the transformation of the class composition of the Conservative voter base.

The Tories led Labour in every social grade, and their lead was bigger amongst C2DE voters than their ABC1 counterparts. The class correlation with voting Labour, which has been weakening since 1997, has apparently finally disappeared altogether. Meanwhile the Opposition’s strongest results were amongst voters who earn between £40,000 and £70,000 a year, whilst the Conservatives enjoyed bigger leads amongst the <£20,000 and £20-40,000 groups than the £40-70,000 and £70,000+ groups.

All of this means that comparisons between Boris Johnson’s victory and Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 win are misleading. The Conservatives did have success wooing working-class voters in the Eighties, but Thatcher took office on the back of a commanding lead amongst the middle classes.

The Government clearly grasps the implications of this, namely that holding together the Party’s new coalition will require quite a different policy offer to what the Tories have typically offered in recent decades. This is doubly true if, as the evidence suggests, there is still scope to even further expand the Conservatives’ reach in old Labour heartlands.

A more left-leaning Toryism, which has already matched Thatcher’s high-water mark in Wales with room for growth, could also narrow the alleged ‘values divide’ which is so often trotted out to justify pushes for Scottish independence or ‘devo-max’.

It also poses an acute challenge to Labour, namely how to win back working-class seats lost to the Conservatives without exposing themselves to challenges from the Liberal Democrats or the Greens in their liberal, urban modern heartlands. It isn’t an impossible task – the Tories hold their new conquests alongside swathes of their traditional seats, after all – but it doesn’t yet look as if their current leadership contenders know how to meet it.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ben Bradley: Voters tore down the Red Wall because they were sick of Labour talking down to them and holding them back

Ben Bradley is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Mansfield.

Last week saw an historic Conservative victory, not just in terms of its scale but also its geography. The ‘Red Wall’ of Labour seats across the Midlands and North of England crumbled to dust as the election night coverage announced ‘Conservative gain’ over and over; Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Redcar, Blyth Valley, Ashfield, Bolsover… too many to name.

It was an incredible night and a result that really shouldn’t be a massive surprise. It’s something that those Conservatives who already represent and understand some of the issues and viewpoints from these communities have been predicting. We’ve been calling for a ‘Blue Collar Conservative’ revolution and a focus on the issues that matter to those working class towns outside of the Westminster bubble. This time we had a manifesto that dealt with those issues; investing in public services, tough on crime, prioritising the NHS, directing the cash to infrastructure for the regions.

Over the weekend a journalist described Mansfield to me as “the first blue brick in the red wall”. I have to say I love that analogy, it plays to my ego of course, and is something I’m hugely proud of. There are lessons to learn from Mansfield, as well as from North East Derbyshire, Stoke, Walsall and Middlesborough that were won in 2017, and now of course from the many other seats like them that have voted blue for the first time.

Since I was elected in 2017 I’ve been at pains to try and explain the difference between Labour voters in Islington and in Mansfield. It’s not ideological up north, it’s historic. It’s not socialism that drove the Labour vote, but industry. You’ve only got to watch an episode of Peaky Blinders to get the gist of why Labour was born as a movement; protecting workers, fighting for better conditions. Some of the leaders of that movement were socialists, but the workers were largely just trying to improve their lot. To put food on the table. It was about them and their families, not some wider ideology. So many people in places like Mansfield spent their whole working lives in highly unionised industries, where you couldn’t get a job without joining up to the union and paying in to the Labour Party. That was just how it was. “We are Labour round here”.

It made sense in many ways, to back the “party of the workers” when you felt your conditions were poor. It wasn’t an ideological commitment to socialism, it was about improving life for you and your family, about getting on and a sense of community. It was an innately conservative stance, actually, wanting to be rewarded for your work and aspiring to a better life for your family, very similar to the message we now hold at the centre of our Conservative Party.

From an ideological perspective if you’re going to be a socialist you have to be able to afford it! You have to have enough money already to not be concerned about the state taking more away. You have to be able to afford to rise above the control of an oversized state and to extricate yourself from the things that will impact on your freedoms. If you’re scrapping around to put food on the table, the idea of having more taken from you to fund others when you are the one grafting 50 hours a week is horrifying. It’s not pro-worker, it’s hitting the workers the hardest.

Labour doesn’t get that any more. It looks down on working people rather than helping them up. It calls for an end to aspiration and self-improvement. The message is “don’t save or train for a new job or buy a house. There is no point. You are too downtrodden and the rich elites will never let you.”

If you’re struggling, you want hope, not misery. A hand up not a hand out. You don’t want to be told that the whole system is rigged against you, you want to see that there are opportunities to be seized and a chance to make things better. Labour in places like Mansfield have spent decades harking back instead of looking forwards. When I stood in 2017, my Labour opponent, the MP of 30 years, said “it will just remind people about what Mrs Thatcher did”. As it happens I think people were sick of being reminded. It was before I was born! People want to move on and are fed up with politicians blaming people instead of acting. There’s only so long you can moan about the past when you’re failing to do anything to take us forward. People want hope, not misery. That’s why the red wall has fallen. It was a wall built to hold people back. Where once there was a wall, we need to build a ladder.

Even Brexit falls in to that argument, too. These communities voted to Leave, just to be told they were wrong, thick, racist. That they were condemned to misery and failure as a result, and that Labour refused to deliver it. Lecturing instead of listening. We’re hearing the same narrative now from left-wing figures; ‘‘the right-wing MSM have duped these working class people, they can’t think for themselves and they’ll regret it’’.

So far, Labour haven’t learned from their mistake. They are responding in the same way they responded to defeat in the referendum, and without accepting the blame for their failures they’ll only repeat the cycle. They have to look at themselves. They need to understand these reasons that they lost, not just blame the media and ‘stupid voters’. If they keep saying ‘our message was right but people didn’t understand’ or that is was just solely about Corbyn and not about their wider offering, they will struggle to recover.

Don’t get me wrong: we’ve not turned everyone in the North East in to hardcore Tories. For many it was a tough thing to vote blue; for many we were the least-worst option. The good news is that we are saying the right things, but we are not trusted. No politicians are trusted right now. Come the next election Brexit will not be there, Corbyn will not be there. It remains to be seen if we’ll face a competent Labour Party or not.

Either way, we have a point to prove and we have to repay the people who have put us in to power. They have done so off the back of our message, our Blue Collar Conservative promises to back our public services and invest in these places that have so often been forgotten. The proof will be in the delivery; in showing whose side we are on. We have to show a tangible difference and improvement, and we have to restore some faith in Government and politicians. If we deliver, if we get this right, then this could be an incredible few years for our country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.02 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

The Midlands sky was November grey, and there was the smell of a coal fire from somewhere. I was out delivering leaflets in a council estate in my constituency. Moments after popping one through the door of a bungalow, I heard a door being flung wide open behind me.

A large and angry man appeared. “You can have that back” he said, thrusting the leaflet into my hands. And with that, he swung back into the house and the door thumped shut.

I went on my way. But moments later, I heard the door swing open again. It was the big guy again, and I braced myself for a free and frank exchange of views.

But this time he was in a more sunny mood.

“Sorry. I thought you were Labour,” he said. “Are you the Conservatives? Can I have another one of those?” He told me he was going to vote for us.

It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a candidate today for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.I don’t know what it is about life-long terrorist suck-up Jeremy Corbyn, or self-described Marxist John McDonnell, or police-hating Diane Abbott, or their two-faced approach on Brexit… but in many places where Labour might once have done well, they are now regarded with something approaching hatred.

There are still weeks to go till the election, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017.

The ideas we are putting forward are more popular. The campaign feels better run, including on line. People massively prefer Boris Johnson to Corbyn. The question is whether it is enough.

As Daniel Finkelstein has pointed out, we have to win outright, while others can win even if they lose. Why? Because we will never team up with the SNP – while Labour are already dangling another separation referendum to cosy up with the nationalists. The Liberal Democrats can form a remain alliance with Labour – but not us. If we are going to win, it means pushing deeper into Labour territory in the north, midlands and south west, while holding off Lib Dems in the south east and the SNP up north.

The signs are encouraging. One set of constituency polls this week showed us holding seats in London, while another national poll showed us ahead among working class voters by a margin of nearly two-to-one (YouGov, 11-12 Nov).

For someone who got involved in politics when we were in the relegation zone in the mid 1990s, this is heady stuff.
We’ve already come a long way. Alasdair Rae at Sheffield has a neat chart which ranks constituencies in England from the most deprived on the left, to the most affluent on the right.

In 2001, we had no seats in the poorest 30 per cent, and Labour had most of the middle third. [See chart at top of article.] By 2017, the blue tide had already flowed into some areas Labour used to dominate. I hope this time it will surge further. [See chart at bottom of article.]

As we expand, the centre of gravity of Conservative voters has shifted and the Prime Minister has been the fastest to catch the mood. My leaflets this year feature our pledges of 20,000 more police, £450 million for our local hospital and funding for our local schools going up 4.6 per cent per pupil next year. Other than the fact that we also pledge tougher sentences for criminals, controlled immigration and securing our exit from the EU, much of this is the space New Labour used to occupy.

Rumours in the papers say that our tax policy is also going to be squarely focused on helping those working hard on low incomes. I think that would be the right approach.

It’s funny what pops into your head as we pound the pavements in the autumn rain.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Philip Larkin’s poem, The Whitsun Weddings, describing his sun-drenched train journey from Hull in the north, down through the industrial Midlands to London:

“We ran /
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street /
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence /
The river’s level drifting breadth began, /
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. /
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept  /
    For miles inland, /
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   /
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth…”

I feel like we as a party are taking the same journey, but in reverse, with the Conservative tide flowing up through the midlands and north.

Today the route from Hull, which goes via Doncaster, would take you past plenty of Labour marginals. Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe across the Humber. Don Valley and Rother Valley in South Yorkshire. Down through Bassetlaw, where sitting Labour MP and fierce Corbyn critic, John Mann has just stood down, then past Lincoln to the east, and down to London through Peterborough, where we hope to replace jailed Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

I feel like we have a strong leader, good campaign, we stand for the right things, and people are sick of the delay and dither.

But will it be enough. Will our campaign work this time?

It might just.

Time to get back out there.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.55 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com