Video explaining Hyperloop One

 

Last week, I went to see the new multi-star Agatha Christie vehicle, Murder on the Orient Express. It was very enjoyable, but it reminded me, in an irritating way, of parts of our 2010 manifesto: “Ukip will encourage a return to the glamour, grace and style of the railway companies of the past through its railway policies. Ukip seeks a return to ‘Pullman’ trains where justified, with appropriate branding such as ‘Great Western Railway’, one of the most successful British brands ever.”

Supporting the tourist industry and heritage railway lines is great, of course, but I also want us to be at the cutting edge of technology and recapture something of Harold Wilson’s “white heat” enthusiasm.

Take Hyperloop for example. The video above shows the proof of concept, but in essence, it’s a magnetically propelled bullet in a low-pressure tube. And its fast! London to Edinburgh in 50 minutes! This is the brainchild of Elon Musk, of SpaceX fame, now also backed by Sir Richard Branson – a noted proponent of space tourism. This is working technology (see here for proof), unlike say, carbon capture, and although at Trevithick “catch-me-who-can” stage, it’s going to revolutionise transport. The best news is that British research is playing a key part – through a team at Edinburgh University .

And then there’s the future of mining – not coal, but metals and minerals on asteroids. Yes, it got a lot of stick as a policy on the leadership campaign, but its perfectly viable. When I started out in 1988 working at the European and German space centres – possibly the only Kipper to have worked there – talk was of a probe to be landed on a comet. Last year, with the Rosetta mission, they achieved it. Well done to all concerned. But if we can get to one, we can bring one back – or the useful bits. Yes, it will take time and effort and investment, but the benefits will be incalculable – think of the side effects the moon missions brought.

Britain under UKIP should be a shining beacon of encouragement for far-out futuristic-minded entrepreneurs – this will show that we are a decidedly forward-looking, rather than nostalgia based party, and lend us much needed “what comes after Brexit” purpose.

Radical changes in technology are changing our lives in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago – which among us would have predicted I could pay for my shopping by showing my (Apple) watch to the supermarket scanner, and never have to take wallet or phone out of my pocket? And who would have predicted 140 characters overtaking four score and seven years for Presidential numerical notoriety?

What about in-house? Too many UKIP websites – including the national one(s) – are poor, and this feeds back to the electorate:

In 2015, a Crucial.com report revealed, “Two-thirds of Britons believe UK politicians do not know enough about technology. This is despite nearly three-quarters of respondents saying such expertise is an important attribute for a political leader and half that it makes them more effective at their job. Ukip leader Nigel Farage was voted the least tech-savvy British leader, followed by Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and then Labour’s Ed Miliband.”

I believe that Henry needs to be urgently looking to:

  • Appoint a ‘futurism’ spokesman, with a brief to espouse and promote exciting new technologies that will being dividends for a British government with a radical vision.
  • Explore how tax breaks and similar can encourage this futurism to invest and research using British universities and talent.
  • Separate ‘space’ – and maybe high-tech travel in general, e.g. self-driving cars – from the transport portfolio and see them as a separate field in its own right.
  • Encourage an internal party structure where meetings can be attended via Skype/Video Conferencing – so the best talent and advice, irrespective of proximity to London, or length of attendance required, can be sought, consulted and utilised.
  • Encourage and allow adequate time for the NEC to discuss technical matters (not as last item at 5:59 pm!).

Who knows? If we show that we are looking in the right direction, and want to support technical visionaries, albeit British ones (we need to keep an eye on donation laws, too), maybe they’ll help our coffers?

Space and futuristic research tax breaks and university funding from a forward-looking UKIP propped-up coalition? Sounds good to me!

Although an army rather than air force man, there’s no reason why Henry can’t espouse “Per Ardua ad Astra” as well as anyone else!

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