My Political Manifesto. Standing- not sitting on the fence.
Over time I am going to build my political manifesto. Not because I am thinking of standing for parliament or anything, but to remind myself that there are positive, simple solutions to the state we are in. Some will be my own ideas, others put forward or clarified by people who understand things better than me. (Full credit will be given.)
I will put aside, for now, my desire to abolish the monarchy and separate church from state.. I need to develop those with care. For now it is a question of finding simple solutions to a few, in my view, simple problems that face society in the UK.
I would welcome comments from those who disagree, provided that the comments are about the proposal and not personal. Some of you may wish to suggest refinements or similar policies.
1) Implementation of a General Anti Tax Avoidance Principle Bill.
I had read about a law that would assume tax liability and immediately liked the sound of it, but I didn’t quite know what it would look lie or how it would work. Thanks to @richardjmurphy I now know and add this as my first policy.
2) Implement the Living Wage a the minimum wage.
There is wide spread support for the living wage from Boris Johnson to Ed Miliband via David Cameron. What I am suggesting, as have others, is that the living wage should become the legal Minimum Wage. This would significantly reduce the welfare benefit bill- we are subsidising poor pay.
I think Tesco and co can afford this don’t you? For small and medium sized companies- I suggest a National Insurance holiday for an initial 24 months to be reviewed. National insurance is a tax on employment and unless ring fenced to provide pensions is just another tax.
There is a shortage of affordable housing.
Bring back rent regulation.
Zero rate vat for building materials.
Compulsory purchase of empty residential properties.
Stop companies building land banks.
Licence private landlords.
13/10/13 For a good analysis of housing, welfare creation and the welfare state see this dissertation:
Hardly a day goes by without a statement from Mr Gove or Ofsted on how schools should operate. Ironically, as Mr Gove dictates more and more what schools should do, he encourages schools to become academies and therefore opt out of having to put his diktats into practice.
What I believe is missing is a consensus view of what education is for. Is it to suit current employers? If so, we would need to look at what employment looks like in 10 years time. Is education about qualifications?- in which case, what do they qualify people to do? Are they relevant? At the moment there is a big divide between vocational education and academic education- is this a valid or useful dichotomy?
I think we should have a national debate on education to try and build a consensus. This could then be built into a Bill of Rights. (more, another time. )
My starting point would be “Every Child Matters” , sadly abandoned by the current government.
” Children and young people have told us that five outcomes are key to well-being in childhood
and later life – being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution;
and achieving economic well-being. Our ambition is to improve those outcomes for all children
and to narrow the gap in outcomes between those who do well and those who do not.”
I would build this-or something like it- into the British (English?) Constitution and all legislation, policy and guidelines on education should comply with that premise.
I would build in that all “teaching” should be about enabling people to learn to learn so that knowledge can be acquired and can be applied.
Note- added 03/02/13 Back in October last year, Mr Gove launched an attack on schools in Derby, describing the city as an area of “concentrated educational under-performance”. The suggested solution? Turn our primaries into academies. Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that this attack was based on outdated figures. What concerns me is that the Govt’s reaction to perceived failure is to privatise education. Mr Gove pursues this solution further by imposing an academy solution to the troubled Sinfin school, pre-empting a local solution.
Recently, the “independent” inspectors of schools, “ofsted” decided to swoop on Derby schools as, apparently, Derby children “are being denied the standard of education they deserve”. We shall see. But even if the schools are failing, there is a real need to underpin any reforms with a real debate as to what are education system is for before we make any more changes.
The debate about free schools and education in general has hotted up since! It would appear that Labour are backtracking and welcoming some Free schools. Let’s be clear: parents and others had been able to set up free schools and home teaching under the old regime. The difference is that these would be under local authority control.
It is interesting to note The Govt’s reaction to The Al Madinah school in Derby. The govt, in its letter to the school, appears to be backtracking on what Free schools are allowed to do . I suspect the same outrage would not have occurred against a Christian or Jewish school.
I would suggest: that faith schools -whatever the faith- should receive no state funding and should not have charitable status. (See below Church and state..)
Church and State…
I have avoided this for a while but can no longer do so. Gay Bishops have forced me to show my hand. I am listening to a national radio station, hearing differing views about homosexuality in the church, whether it is or is not condemned in the \bible and- yet again- whether the Bible should be read literally or not. Enough. I have nothing against religions but against all religious fundamentalists, unable to accept that others have views that are valid.
Many issues could be resolved if we separated the church from the state. Arguments about gays in the church could be dealt with as a separate issues to the affairs of state. Then the church can be seen as just another social organisation. Which would have to comply with equality laws if it wanted to apply for govt. funds. A separation would also deal with the issue of…
I have been in a heterosexual partnership for nearly 29 years. We are not entitled to a civil partnership. I believe we should be able to enter a civil agreement, recognised in law, which confirms that, before the law, we have entered a relationship. This could be as simple as signing a witnessed document and entered in the County Court, in a similar way to the much undermined Parental Agreement I suggest that if we said that everyone had to do this,life would be simpler. You can then go on and have a ceremony in whatever way you wish…. end of.
I would love to suggest that we re nationalise all public services, and return provision of local services to an elected local authority, but that is not going to happen. I also recognise that nationalised and local services were often complacent, expensive, uncompetitive and inefficient. That was the rationale behind the great privatisation programme of the eighties. We have since had to develop quangos to force private companies to be cheaper, competitive and efficient. The privatisation dream- of some- has ended and we wake up to a new reality and a new concern- why should large private companies make huge profits providing public services paid for by the tax payer?
My solution- enforce an underlying principle- embedded in a constitution- that no company should profit from providing public services.
My starting point would be this:
- Look at all PFI schemes and, if necessary, renegotiate. Hospitals should not be seen as failing simply because unrealistic repayments have been enforced upon them,
- No private company to claim a profit, pay bonuses or dividends until any public/taxpayer subsidies are repaid,
All new bids for government or local authority services to be based on not for profit/cooperative model. This includes schools, NHS, social services and railways
Since writing the above post there has been increasing support for renationalisation. The Capitalist model simply does not work for public services and that is becoming more and more evident as the days go by. The Royal Mail sell is another example of public support for public ownership. Tell Sid? Tell Sid that we are fed up up of energy companies saying that rising costs are the cause of rising prices. The increase in prices are there to protect your profits.
I need an energy policy to my manifesto- will work on it.
Your views and comments welcome: this is an organic manifesto. Should it be a set of demands instead? Should we demand a written constitution first?
We know that every party is a coalition, so we should not just condemn the idea of coalition based on this shower. We could put forward what we want and decide on who we vote for and where-tactical voting- based on their responses.
Who is in charge? We are.
For related posts see above: politics- home and abroad