This is a bare bones document which will outline some of the ideas we believe would be immediately feasible in the present climate of government.
Education: While some of Mr Gove’s reforms have been for the better many more have been for the worse. We have a mass diversity of schools in place within the country but in reality very little choice as the different types are dotted around the county. Money is being ploughed into academy projects, free school statuses of which there are around 100, independent schools and grammar schools which require testing to gain access to while new buildings for state schools across the country were cancelled due to a lack of funds. Our first policy would be to reinstate these building projects to give every child a world class facility from which to work from, many of these projects were cancelled two years ago, and now more building projects are being planned but with little variation and in a flat pack formula. We believe this to be unacceptable as these flat pack buildings are small, built at minimal cost and many worry it could mean there is more limited space which makes bullying more prevalent. We believe grand open spaces seen in the private sector are needed in the state comprehensive sector as well.
Secondly while only 7% of children go to private schools these children take up around 50% of the Oxbridge intake and dominate the top jobs in the country, I do not believe for one second that this is because they are brighter than children who go to a state school. We would take one of two approaches, the first option is to remove the private schools charitable status and tax the school at 65% redistributing all the funds from this tax to the poorest schools and areas in the country aimed at educational resources like buying grander buildings, funding more teachers, buying new equipment, giving kids a voucher for books and many more options which can be chosen by the head teacher of that particular school to suit the need of the pupils and that particular area. This first option would be accompanied with an idea from Andrew Adonis where private schools foster a co-operative relationship with local state schools, however we would go even further and ensure state school pupils and private school pupils swapped schools for a term every year up until year 10 when GCSE’s start. Teachers from the private sector would also run workshops and guide the state school teachers and vice versa so a true co-operative stance with schools and staff could work and foster achievement. The second option would be to abolish private schools altogether, sell off the buildings and the land to gain revenue for the state sector to buy up cheaper land so every school has a good playing field and to build more state schools for smaller class sizes and to deal with the extra capacity from the private sector.
Thirdly we would reverse the disastrous decision by the government to scrap EMA and return it immediately. All of the government’s plans to increase higher education attainment in the poorest areas exemplified by policies like the pupil premium will go to waste unless EMA is restored. The poorest will see college as too expensive and not a worthwhile experience, the government claims they reduced the EMA budget and replaced it with a fund given to each college for the poorest. There are a number of problems with this which I shall not go over now, however I shall state the main one which is that the bursary will only reach a tiny percentage of the people who will need financial help. While EMA may have been mismanaged the whole point was so children didn’t have to work in jobs while attending college or feel pressured to leave college to get a job from low income backgrounds, the 16-19 bursary only targets the very worst off leaving many still poor people on their own. We believe if EMA of 25 pounds a week along with a free bus pass is given to those whose parents/carers earn a combined total of less than £30,000 per annum and have assets of less than £10,000 outside their own home then that will help them not being pressured to try and find work.
The idea to replace GCSE’S with a baccalaureate system is a dangerous one, the idea behind an end of year exam showing the grand sum of someone’s efforts simply makes no sense in the 21st century. Academic achievement is too important a subject just too simply let it ride on a single exam. While exams should play a part in grading them should account for no more than 50% of the final grade, coursework should account for 25% and a presentation to the class should also account for 25% of a final grade. A review into exams should also be undertaken so they are less of a memory test and made more creative. Coursework should be in the form of an essay, using skills which are now more generally applied at university than secondary school, forming opinions on empirical evidence is a key of any thoughtful person and that needs to be reflected in the coursework. Also a plagiarism system used at universities across the countries needs to be passed on to schools urgently for it to work. We agree with the idea that only one examining board should exist instead of multiple ones.
Equality: We stand fully behind the proposal on Gay marriage which has been initiated recently. Churches won’t be forced to participate so we see no problems with their rights to disagree and not be forced to participate. We would further push for all marriages to become civil and only put a religious aspect within marriages if the specific person wants one. We firmly believe if this method was implemented then the churches simply wouldn’t have an argument. We also feel that if churches cannot accept gay marriage especially the Church of England then steps need to be taken to go down the route of disestablishment firstly by abolishing the Bishops in the lords then looking at its property portfolio to see what they stole from people centuries back and to give the land back to whom it belonged.
It should be made easier to employ people who are disabled in all kinds of jobs, legislation should go through rewarding companies who employ people who are disabled with a minor tax break on their salary which can be used to hire more employees and put more money back into the economy while improving equality. This is of a vital necessity because despite the success of the Olympics, people with disabilities are far more likely to be in poverty and jobless than those who are fully able.
Foreign policy: Under foreign policy we shall also talk about international aid. First of all with Iran being the most newsworthy international story we feel a strategy of pressure on the Iranian government for inspections would work. Sanctions especially economic will do the job to bring the Iranians to the table. However the sanctions must not come at detriment to the Iranian people, so bans on medicine and food supplies shouldn’t be implemented. Contact should always be kept with the Iranian government so they know that the door is always open for negotiations and if they can prove that their intentions are peaceful we would pressure for sanctions to be lifted.
International aid is an extremely important part of our role in the world, where aid is applied however it cannot be used fruitlessly. Aid needs to be maximised to ensure economic growth can ensue and make lives better. In the past the UK have been criticized for giving aid to developing countries like India, however we would continue giving aid to these countries as we believe the very poorest need help wherever they are and whatever country they are in. We would not increase the aid budget, but keep it in line with inflation until we had worked our way out of the economic crisis we are in and then if in power we would review the money given to international aid and seek to increase the budget by 1% above inflation year on year. However we must do more to help countries with our aid, if countries want to receive our aid certain criteria must be met. Firstly they cannot have laws which discriminate against minorities; we feel this is important because any country which genuinely wants to grow and get better will not persecute those who aren’t the same as everyone else. Secondly we should be more forceful on issues such as free speech, countries which threaten British citizens with a fatwa like Iran with Salman Rushdie should be dealt with seriously and withdraw any aid immediately.
On the problem of Afghanistan we wouldn’t use this conflict for political ends as many others do. We believe Afghanistan is an important war of emancipation; however we would consult advice by the former ambassador to Afghanistan Sherard Cowper-Cowles and other experts on the situation in Afghanistan. However we would have a starting base of strategy of which we would use as a baseline, we wouldn’t withdraw in 2015 and we would stay until the people of Afghanistan had complete confidence in their army and police forces to do the job which is required. Even after that period we would stay for a further 2 years as a backup peacekeeping force and to concentrate our efforts on building a country. Afghanistan has come a long way in education, infrastructure, democratic votes etc and we need to ensure that this progress isn’t lost. Women’s rights needs to be improved as do many others, however 76% of Women from a guardian survey found Afghanistan to be a better place than 10 years ago so something must be going right despite all of the negative reports. On the issue of the Taliban it is clear they are at a crossroads, different factions support different things, however the abhorrent attack on a 14 year old in Pakistan shows a tiny minority are hard-line and shall not change. Of course we have to question whether Mullah Omar the leader of the Taliban is one of these people; if he is then we cannot negotiate with the Taliban while he is in charge of the general forces.
The way we deal with China in the modern world is very important; while we cannot simply blow off such an important trading partner we cannot also stand back and allow flagrant human rights violations to continue in the second biggest economy in the world. We would pressure China through any means necessary to allow a liberal democracy to be implemented and to ensure workers’ rights are respected. Any company found knowingly using methods which excludes their workers’ rights abroad or at home shall be subject to a heavy fine of between £100,000-£10,000,000 depending on the size of the company for illegal practices in our country. If we feel our workers’ rights are important then surely everyone else’s is. Pressure internationally is needed if we can properly implement this and we hope governments around the world believe dignity is important. We believe China will change in time, and through trade agreements, political settlements and military agreements we shall be in a better position to leverage China into a better more democratic system of governance.
The way we would deal with the EU would be to co-operate fully with all their intentions and to offer our help wherever we can. We would pledge for more money, considering we give a large amount to the E.U and our final aim would be to become a net exporter instead of a net importer into the E.U. We would also encourage British companies to look to their European counterparts to see if they can make a bigger effect together while sharing their profits in both countries, this could be a good way to show European integration at its most effective.
Economy: The economy is in a state of shock, when a person is in a state of shock we don’t take things away or do nothing to revive it. What we do is zap it with electricity, so we give the economy the electricity that it needs I.e. we put money into the economy. We would do this through a massive social housing building programme which would not only invigorate the economy with millions of building jobs but it would also replenish our social housing stock and relieve the housing crisis. These homes would also be designed by the best architects for small budgets; we want our social housing not only to be affordable but also stylish and respectable. We would target areas across the country where housing is needed so it just doesn’t affect London. Because we would be building social housing this would give people more money into their pockets because the rents wouldn’t be astronomical this would also help increase spending in the economy. Young people not just out of work but university graduates could move in along with families and youngsters just getting on the job market so we could have a wide diverse range of people so social housing isn’t stigmatized like it has been in the past. We believe if this was implemented properly not only would it help the economy but also help deal with social problems which are too prevalent where council housing exists. We would restrict planning laws for green belt land and some brown belt land which was near green belt land, however we would also open up building spaces for brown belt land across the country which wasn’t near the green belt. We would also knock down properties in areas which no-one lived and rebuild whole streets so people could move in rather than seeing homes sitting empty such as in Liverpool.
We would also build a British investment bank to help out small/ to medium sized businesses as well as buying up shares in bigger corporations. This bank would be funded through a number of ways, firstly to try and alleviate the pension’s crisis people could give a percentage of their pension to the British investment bank to invest, this investment would be protected by a guarantee by the bank of England similar to the one they have given to the big banks to try and increase the amount of money they lend out. Through the money these people would invest they of course would receive a percentage of any profit made through the British investment bank, we believe this could not only help the pension’s crisis but stimulate new business. If the bank failed to raise enough capital from people investing, then a boost from the government to compliment it could be worked through, mainly through the money saved by the scrappage of the pupil premium which is being misallocated at the moment. We would use other measures to stimulate business especially through manufacturing in opening up enterprise zones across the country and encouraging local government to invest in business much as derby county council did in bringing Toyota to Burnaston.
We do believe that the way we tax people is very important. We also believe that the scrappage of the 50% tax band was a mistake which the coalition failed to explain properly why they did it. They stated two contradictory reasons, 1) it brought in no money and 2) it drove rich people off because they didn’t want to pay 50% tax. We believe that the 50% tax will bring in around £3 billion pounds which is vital money and this cannot be ignored. We shall also introduce a general anti avoidance and anti-evasion rule, which rules out any loopholes in current tax law. We believe people who earn less than £10,000 shouldn’t pay tax however this should only apply to households with an income of less than £40,000. Not only do we want the best business but we also want the most ethical business. We would reduce corporation tax to around 15% so business could expand; pay better wages and this would lead to a vast improvement in the economy. If on an individual level businesses could show wage increases for the employees of 3% above inflation while their top level execs had a wage increase of twice that or less then corporation tax for a particular company could be reduced to 5%. We believe any losses made would be replenished by an increase in spending not only by businesses but by the workers.
Not only do we believe that workers should get better wages but we also believe that they should own more shares in companies. If people own shares in companies then they shall be more invested in succeeding, they shall have more of a say over wage levels and everyone shall get a fair share. We believe a race to the top is better than the race to the bottom which is currently underway. We would hope for a balance where the workers had just as much power as the bosses so a broad consensus of where the company should be going could be reached.
In order to try and get the banks’ lending again the incumbents have tried many schemes, the project merlin and government backed money are just two examples. It is clear that while banks have little confidence in the market and people then they shall not loan money out. We need to rebuild confidence in the system, this needs to be done with urgency. Rather than focusing on record low interest levels which are an emergency measure by the Bank of England we need to focus on growth and the GDP of the country. Of course through our policy on social housing we believe this shall give confidence to the banks to give people mortgages because they will be sure they can afford it. Money from banks for small and medium will be less important through the creation of the British investment bank so we can concentrate on mortgage lending which is currently stifling any movement in the property market.
On the questions of pensions, we applaud the fact that pension schemes are now under a triple lock and on the best rate they could be for pensioners. We also applaud the recognition that people who are living longer also need to work longer and save longer as well. We would hope to encourage saving amongst people who are working not only through the British investment bank but also through other schemes such as a special interest rate account for savers introduced by the government and given out by major banks. The working age should be placed under immediate review every 5 years to see if we need to readjust our retirement age. The idea behind the lack of an age is certainly appealing however it leaves open the problem of a lack of vacancies for younger people. However to save money we do also need to review the view that bus passes are available to all for free which for millionaires is not necessary, that richer pensioners receive free winter fuel allowance is also something which needs to be tackled as well.
Crime and Justice: We believe crime and justice should be looked at through a rehabilitative framework. This isn’t done through slave labour but through encouraging prisoners to look for jobs and get jobs while in prison for a decent wage, education programmes within prisons and to make sure every prisoner takes citizenship lessons on what it is to be a good citizen. We also believe that votes for some prisoners could also be managed as the court of human rights has ruled. We also need to encourage greater social equity as poverty is a big cause of crime and through better education, monetary advancement and social cohesion this can be averted to a degree. Prisons need to reflect Norway and Sweden’s latest concoctions rather than the old hard justice style of England. This isn’t about prisoner comfort but about putting them into an environment where they can learn from their mistakes and help to turn their lives around and become productive members of society again is vital. Of course there are a few prisoners who are psychopathic and who will never change, however we believe quite rightly that these are in the vast minority.
We would be opposed to any kind of law that allows people to use unreasonable force on burglars within their homes as this would only escalate the arming burglars take with them, the same could be stated for why we oppose arming the police. Sentencing for sexual crimes such as rape and paedophilia would need to be taken under review and looked at in the strictest possible way.
We would set about legalising drugs starting off with Marijuana and other hallucinogenics’ such as LSD, we would nationalise the production and regulate it which would make taking drugs implicitly safer for a start. This would also greatly reduce crime as we would tax it at a small cost which would mean a lot of drug related to crime would simply end. We do not believe taking drugs would necessarily increase in the short or long term, people don’t in our view refuse to take drugs because it’s illegal, we believe they do so for other reasons. We would encourage greater responsibility with all intoxicants through changing the way citizenship is taught in education and having reviews with doctors about knowing the dangers, safe amounts etc etc before being given a license from the doctor to be able to buy that specific product. The age of usage would be made at 18 with a review to implement it at 16 or 17 if that could work. We don’t believe prohibition works as seen in the United States with alcohol and seen more recently in Mexico with cocaine it simply criminalises and starts violent wars. The black economy is worth a 1/3rd of the legal seen economy, we believe if we could draw out a significant proportion of that with the legalisation of drugs it could be a win-win for everyone. The money gained through this legalisation could be used in a multitude of ways and the money saved through not locking up drug users could also be of great benefit.
Immigration: We believe immigration needs to be handled in a way which is conducive to all. Due to the fact that we are in the European Union which means free roaming for European citizens we have in reality very little say in how we can control our borders. We also need integration, currently we have mass monocultures spread about the country we need to try and change this as fast as possible for true multiculturalism to take place. We can do this by instigating a massive cultural change in the way we view immigration in this country, instead of seeing people as a threat we need to enhance a more co-operative spirit in the country. Immigration from outside the E.U should be granted based on refugee status and employing the best and brightest from outside our country, this enables economic growth and is a good thing for the country outside of that. As a nation we need to become more tolerant of others, while standing up against the minority who don’t believe in free speech. Multiculturalism has to an extent broken through in this country, in art, music, poetry, literature, sport all kinds of areas, however we hope to see greater success through people living together and not in gated communities.
Health: We believe the NHS is the most valuable asset this country holds and the success it has gained it rather remarkable. We would do a number of things not only to protect the NHS but to improve it. We would also recommend measures based on health which goes further than the NHS in itself. First of all to tackle the obesity epidemic which has hit the nation we would place a new fat tax on foods. Foods which exceed 60% of the daily guidelines in fat or salt shall be subject to a hike in price. This is not only to try and warn people off consistently eating unhealthily but to tell companies that good quality produce is better than fat and salt laden rubbish. Secondly we would like to introduce programmes in giving parents lessons in how to cook. We believe this would lead to various benefits such as giving kids a healthier diet which leads to less problems in various areas of their life, spending time with children in this work focused world can be difficult. Cooking together as well as eating tea provides much needed time face to face which can be lacking. These are just two measures which we believe with the right funding would vastly improve the NHS and could mean savings in the future not only in terms of life but in economic gains to the NHS which could be put to better use elsewhere.
In the NHS we would set about reforms to help it make a better service. We would introduce measures which gives nurses and other front line staff a voice to management in how to run the hospital. Those who are on the frontline very often they know best in what the hospital needs and how things can be improved. This will also give members of staff an extra incentive to be confident in the running of the hospital. Secondly we believe in the field of health co-operation works better than competition. We believe that if the private sector can intervene based upon quality not price then there is nothing wrong with that happening. However we would scrap the PFI scheme as it has been disastrous by anyone’s standards.
We don’t believe a top down reorganisation at the moment is a good thing for the NHS, what the NHS needs is more beds, more nurses and more doctors not less. We will strive to improve existing NHS hospitals with quarterly checks on their standards where prior notice of arrival shall not be given. It shall work slightly like Ofsted inspections work in schools. We feel this would bring up to speed more hospitals to produce better care on the ground.