Saturday, 19 September 2009

A manifesto

I suspect that some, perhaps a preponderance, of my readers are not of my political persuasion. So you might well disagree with the following. But with an election less than a year away, I wanted to write down the core of the manifesto I would propose if I had a big say in a political party. I don't, thankfully, and this is nothing like the platform any of the parties will contest the election on. But I still think the exercise is interesting.

The rules I set were to write down no more than two sentences in ten different areas. In no particular order:
  • Education. Abolish the charitable status of private schools, and fold academies back into the ordinary state school system. Abolish student grants and increase university funding, including research funding, very substantially.
  • Transport. Abolish road tax, increase petrol duties significantly, and eliminate the special treatment of airlines, including VAT on airline fuel. Invest substantially in carbon efficient transportation infrastructure including trains, buses and cycle networks.
  • Taxation. Simplify the personal and corporate tax system, impose draconian penalties on any form of avoidance, and remove the non-dom status completely. Eliminate UK-linked tax havens such as Cayman, Jersey and Bermuda by forcing them either to join the UK tax code or removing their protection.
  • Energy. It is too late for fission, so invest heavily in renewables and in energy saving. Push hard for fusion because if we can crack that one, energy becomes a non-issue.
  • Defence. Cancel the expensive toys like the Trident replacement. Provide the ordinary soldier with the resources they need, like body armour and IED-proof vehicles.
  • Foreign Affairs. Engage more positively with the EU. Revive Robin Cook's ethical foreign policy.
  • Constitutional Reform. Introduce proportional representation and a fully elected House of Lords. Disestablish the Church of England and secularise the state, recognising the rights of believers and non-believers equally.
  • Finance. Break up the majority state owned megabanks, Lloyds and RBS. Make capital requirement proportional to size to encourage a diverse system of banks that are not too big to fail.
  • Liberty. Cancel the id cards project and other big database projects. Enact legislation to protect our historic liberties and roll back both state and private surveillance and data gathering.
  • Industrial Policy. Develop a comprehensive policy across education, development aid and innovation support to encourage manufacturing and export-based industries, especially outside the South East. Reduce financial and other services as a percentage of the total economy.



Blogger Cognitive Overload said...

So where do you stand on the link between religion and education?

11:16 pm  
Blogger David Murphy said...

A secular state means just that: there should be no state run religious schools, although of course ethics education is necessary. If the churches want schools, then they are more than welcome to have them, but they shouldn't get any grants to support them, they shouldn't have charitable status, and they should have to prove that their admissions policy is fair, including a lack of religious discrimination, just like everyone else.

4:36 pm  

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