Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Progressive Policy Ideas (UK)

HOUSING

  1. Satisfying the middle and upper classes with artificially high property prices is socially irresponsible. A huge amount of affordable housing should be built, flooding the market with new homes, and forcing the price of property down across the country. This would allow young people to afford housing at a reasonable age rather than being kept in perpetual economic slavery by lenders. The new houses should only be sold to people who intend to live in them. Existing mortgages should be adjusted to match falling prices.
  2. Property owners who leave a home unused and empty should be taxed appropriately based on the cost to society of withholding living space. 

ENERGY

  1. The energy companies should be nationalised. No industry should have guaranteed demand and be immune to failure. Private energy companies are a gravy train for wealthy shareholders who ensure their slice of the pie with artificially high prices. Furthermore, investment in renewable energies is needed. We cannot expect private companies to put social responsibility above profit.
  2. Renewable energy targets should be more than doubled. Energy self-sufficiency should be the aim of any government. Currently, we are too dependent on oil and gas.
  3. The most imminent threat to our safety is global warming from man-made CO2. We should build one last generation of nuclear power plants. During the lifetime of these plants, we should aim to increase renewable sources of energy to meet all our energy requirements. This should be the best way to reduce CO2 emissions.

DEMOCRACY

  1. Donations to political parties should be scrapped and replaced with a national campaign fund to be allocated proportionally based on the number of votes received in the previous election. People and institutions can donate to the campaign fund if they wish to contribute. Otherwise, the fund is raised via taxation.
  2. Politicians should be prevented from having second jobs or being on the boards of corporations. A number of laws should be introduced to ensure they’re as impartial as possible.
  3. Scrap the “first past the post” voting system (FPTP). Offer people a number of alternatives including proportional representation and STV. Let a referendum determine the outcome.
  4. More referendums should be asked (at least 1 per year), with the ultimate aim being a transition to direct democracy within 20 years. Internet voting systems should be developed to increase participation and reduce costs. 
  5. Questions for referendums should come from ballot initiatives as well as policy makers.*
  6. There should be a referendum on whether the monarchy is needed.
  7. Politicians who knowingly lie in parliament or in a public speech should lose their job or be prosecuted.
  8. Constituents should have the right to fire their MP via a majority vote if 10% of constituents sign a petition asking for the vote to take place.
  9. 16 year olds should have the right to vote.
  10. Hereditary Peers and Church Bishops should be removed from the House of Lords.
  11. Abolish the MP expenses system and give MPs a modest pay rise to compensate.*
  12. Reduce the deposit needed to run for parliament.*

DEFENCE AND FOREIGN POLICY

  1. The Ministry of Defence should be for "defence"; not for invading, bombing, or maintaining a military presence in other countries. Military spending should be cut significantly as a result.
  2. British-made weapons should only be sold to nations that intend to use them for defensive purposes. Treaties with such nations should be sought to ensure their compliance. The sale of weapons to regimes that may use them offensively, or to regimes with questionable human rights records, should be banned. This ban would include the USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  3. Nuclear weapons systems such as Trident should be scrapped. Today's threats do not require extinction-capable weapons.
  4. Recognise the state of Palestine and advocate their right to full UN membership.*

HEALTH

  1. The NHS should be protected from any and all private sector intrusions.
  2. Junk food should be taxed and the money used to subsidise cheap fruit and vegetables. The poor should be able to afford to live healthily.
  3. Drug addiction should be treated as an illness, not a crime. All currently illegal drugs should be made available to addicts for free on the NHS. This would take control of the market away from criminals and allow the NHS to offer help and rehabilitation to addicts while monitoring their usage. The crime associated with the drug-dealing business would disappear without a market for dealers to exploit, as would the petty crime committed by users to fund their habits.
  4. There should be a referendum on completely legalising cannabis (to the same level as alcohol).*
  5. Increase pay to doctors, nurses, and teachers (see next section) by at least 10%. They are the lifeblood of our society. These professions must attract the best and brightest.

EDUCATION

  1. Better regulation of private schools. Education should be protected from private sector influences. It’s paramount that children aren’t indoctrinated or ushered along particular career paths by people with vested interests.
  2. Repeal the charitable tax status of private schools.*
  3. No faith schools. They represent and foster division. In their place, all children should have the opportunity to take religious education classes in state schools that cater for their particular religious needs.
  4. The curriculum should be altered in a number of subtle ways. Key skills should be taught, such as learning how to fill in forms, pay taxes, write cheques, budget and save money, use computers and search engines, drive vehicles, read food labels, eat healthily, exercise regularly, use contraception, and avoid gambling and other addictions. Mental health and psychology classes should be compulsory and taught earlier to help children understand their minds, the minds of others, and how to cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental problems. There would be an emphasis on the causes of anger, aggression, and conflict, and how to avoid or deal with them. The ultimate goal would be to produce a more cohesive, peaceful society with less crime and war.
  5. End institutional `classism’ in some prestigious schools and universities.
  6. Implement or work towards affording free tuition fees for university students.

MEDIA

  1. Fully implement the Leveson report into press regulation. 
  2. Set up a regulatory body to fact-check claims made by the mainstream media. Each media outlet should receive scores for accuracy and bias, and the public should be presented with a league table based on these scores. The public would be less inclined to read/view low scorers, which would force the industry to have higher standards of journalism.
  3. Phase out the TV license fee and replace it with a voluntary subscription fee for public service broadcasters. Release anyone imprisoned for non-payment of the TV license.*
  4. BBC Director Generals should be elected.*
  5. Reduce ties between government and the media and ensure Communications Directors have no press allegiances.

ECONOMY

  1. The proposed TTIP legislation should be thrown out. We don’t want corporations taking elected governments to court and having laws made to protect them from direct action and nationalisation.
  2. All corporations should have to pay the correct amount of tax. There should be no “deals” between the HMRC and corporations that allow them to pay less than the proper amount of tax. Corporations that don’t comply should be prevented from operating in the UK.
  3. Banks, such as HSBC, should run the risk of being nationalised or losing their license to operate in the UK if they run a dirty operation.
  4. There should be a more progressive tax system. Currently, richer people earn and own more relative to the tax they pay than poorer people. A proportional system should be implemented as the minimum standard.
  5. Placing earnings in tax havens should be banned. Punishment should be deportation and/or a ban on doing business in the UK. Other loopholes should be closed as quickly as possible.
  6. We should work with the EU and other nations to encourage universal tax rates, such that tax competition, in which countries compete to have the lowest rate of tax, is avoided.
  7. Most zero-hours contracts should be phased out. They are primarily used to exploit workers.
  8. Councils should be forced to allocate their funds more responsibly; with a focus on essential services such as waste collection, street cleaning, and grass-cutting. Wasteful pilot schemes by councillors who’re only seeking to advance their political careers should be discouraged.
  9. Invest heavily in driverless cars and automated labour. Set a target that all menial work should be performed by machines in 20 years, and that the fruits of their labour should be used to subsidise proportional increases in welfare and education.
  10. Power and wealth should be decentralised away from London. In particular, the north of England should see heavy investment.
  11. Abolish the bedroom tax and give councils necessary powers to refuse to apply the bedroom tax if successive governments reintroduce it.*
  12. Conduct a parliamentary inquiry into Work Capability Assessments.*
  13. Establish a job seeker's bill of rights to prevent exploitation of unemployed people.*
  14. Disallow any further bank bailouts and put controls in place to make sure consumers are protected if their bank fails.*

TRANSPORT

  1. Consider the economic and philosophical case for nationalisation of rail and bus services. Focus the debate on the social responsibilities of the industry, competition levels, and the public right to a healthy transport network.

IMMIGRATION & EU

  1. Immigration and our position in the EU are low priority concerns that have been unnecessarily exaggerated to provide a scapegoat for irresponsible bankers and politicians after the last financial crash. However, there should be a referendum on EU membership as the terms of this membership have changed substantially since joining.
* denotes additions suggested by Zachary Adam Barker. All other policies by Tom Swan.