Capitalism works, Marxism always fails, if we’re to get a grip of this country – Bernard Ingham

This year's Extinction Rebellion protest in Leeds.
This year's Extinction Rebellion protest in Leeds.
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IT will come as no surprise to my critics that I was destined to be a geography teacher until my local paper, the Hebden Bridge Times, advertised for a junior reporter and I got the job.

After all, an Oxford professor, Danny Dorling, sees geography as the recourse of those, predominantly middle class twits, who are not that good at maths, writing, reading, science or imagination.

Boris Johnson is right,l says bernard Ingham, to identify Brexit as the defining election issue.

Boris Johnson is right,l says bernard Ingham, to identify Brexit as the defining election issue.

To add insult to injury, he says it is the favourite subject of those who create hostile environments for immigrants and political parties that border on the fascist or are warmongers, bankers or imperialists.

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With that sort of reference you may feel I am not best placed to provide an objective guide to election issues but I shall, nonetheless, do my duty.

Bored though you may be by the very word, Brexit is the issue, but only because it is the means to an end. Without it – and the consequent sovereignty – Britain will stagnate indefinitely. Remaining in the European Union would destroy the very foundation of our democracy – namely, respect for majority votes.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Whitby.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Whitby.

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The next important issue is the economy. The choice could not be starker: a Marxist system, as advocated by Labour and their nationalist and Green fellow travellers, or Tory regulated free markets, enterprise, ambition and application. Capitalism works; Marxism always fails.

Without a successful, growing economy, all this endless chatter about improving the NHS, welfare provision, education, housing, infrastructure and law and order is for the birds. You cannot thrive on thin air.

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Nor can a nation with an ageing population cope with uncontrolled immigration. It has for too long been putting an extra strain on our social services and, I regret to say, the police.

As the Nato summit in London has underlined, you cannot secure a nation’s future unless it can defend itself effectively against known threats from Russia, China, Iran and militant Islam – and as London Bridge has shown, our drippingly wet penal system – and also keep abreast of belligerent technological developments. That requires a lot of brass. It will simply not be there if the economy is wrecked.

This puts in perspective the clamour for regional government – and not least Yorkshire’s powerhouse assembly. Without an enabling national framework regionalism is at best just another tier of bureaucracy getting in the way of progress.

This brings me to the third great but unspoken issue of this election. Who will best imbue the population with a constructive approach to all the problems we face? Who will promote the right attitude?

I have serious doubts about the objectivity of any politician who rants about “austerity” over the past 10 years. It is true we had to pull in our horns after the crash of 2008 and Gordon Brown’s £153bn budget deficit. A nation cannot live on tick for ever.

But to suggest the result has been austerity is ludicrous. Billions the world over would grab our “austerity” with both hands – hence immigration. In our welfare state, supported by countless charities and volunteers, there is no excuse for destitution, hunger or rough sleeping.

Britain is one of the richest countries in the world and the only threats to its future prosperity are Marxism, militant or otherwise, terrorism and self-indulgence. There is worrying evidence that we have had it too good for too long.

Every Tom, Dick or Harry – not to mention Tessa, Dotty and Hattie – seems to think these days that they are entitled to whatever they want and to impose whatever fad they have fallen for on others. The gimme, gimme culture has replaced the stiff upper lip, though to be fair leading capitalists have undermined restraint and supercharged demand with their outrageous pay and perks.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s admirable appeal in his inaugural address to America – “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”– is acutely relevant here today.

Within those words lies the acid test for this nation if it ends the logjam of Brexit on December 12.

We have grown used to expecting the earth from politicians and Parliament and perhaps both are guilty of encouraging this dependence. But in the end what matters to Britain is the people’s attitude: are we going to make a go of it through our own efforts or just pursue our own narrow ends like Extinction Rebellion, regardless of reality? Final question: Should I have stuck with geography?