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How to lose a General Election
A ten point policy plan for failure
A ten point policy plan for failure
June 8th 2017 marks the date of the UK’s second referendum on Brexit — otherwise known as the General Election.
Of course, I’m not one of these hopeful folks thinking there is still a chance in hell we can avoid leaving the EU. I’m not even a Liberal Democrat. No, the Good Ship Brexit has already sailed with us all aboard and locked away tightly in the hold. The best we can hope for now is to plug as many holes in the hull as we can, while our leaders happily chug out into the middle of the Atlantic. Maybe we might make it as far as the US, if they’re still open to refugees by that point.
But we’re going to have to choose which holes to plug and which ones need most attention. We have limited resources down here and, besides, there’s something inherantly distasteful anyway about having to plug those holes with the bodies of our fellow travellers. There’s only so much surface area we can cover between us, so we need to decide carefully who goes where and where each of us lies in regards to the waterline.
So, I’m heading into this election with a set of ideals — a blueprint of my own priorities to I know exactly what I’m aiming for before my companions start pushing my head beneath the water and my voice is lost among the bubbles.
I don’t kid myself; I know this election isn’t gonna go my way. I’m not going to get what I want. So I might as well lay out my impossible dream and see who comes closest.
If anyone up on deck is listening, this is what this lonely seadog is looking for. This is the cost of my vote (or nearest offer).
My General Election 2017 Voting Checklist
1 — Rights for EU citizens living in the UK.
They live here, FFS. Don’t be a dick.
2 — Environmental Protection
I know it feels a bit bleeding-heart-left, but I love this country and its rugged beauty. I want my kids to love it and live in it at its best, even if that means they are a little poorer. That means stricter pollution and energy laws, more green power generation, subsidies for new green technologies. I want us to lead the way and then sell our expertise to the rest of the world.
3 — Science and Research funding and access
This is where our future is made. We are at the forefront of scientific research in the world. Our scientists need access to EU research and collaboration. If we can’t get this, I want a promise of government funding so high that it would make Bill Nye blush. I want the UK to own the future.
4 — EU Banking Passport
Yes, I like that the UK makes a tonnes of money from our banking and trade systems and, no, I don’t like how that excess at the top contributes to inequality in the UK and the difficulties that come with it. We also have a fair bit of blood on our hands from some of the more exploitative and irresponsible banking and tax avoidance practices. However, we can’t change it if we don’t have a hand in the game. We need to retain the Passporting system for banking powerhouse so we can more easily turn it into something that benefits the few to something with far more benefit for the many than it currently holds. We can’t do this without access.
5 — Immigration
Let’s be open about it: We need immigration. We need the doctors, we needs the researchers, we need the cleaners. And, to be honest, there are very few on either the Left or the Right or disagree. The question is always *how many* we need.
In my personal opinion, I look forward to a time (far in the future) when borders are recognised as the final form of discrimination to be overcome. Having your rights dictated by which side of an imaginary line you happen to have been born on seems odd, to say the least, when you look at it out of context. But, simultaneously, I understand that is a difficult pill to swallow, especially with the huge inequalities present across different countries and my own fear at losing my privileged position as one of the world’s wealthy elite, globally speaking (UK average income is around 10x that of the global average).
So, taking this into consideration, I would like to see a positive immigration system — one where there are stronger incentives for the sort of workers we need and stricter caps for the rest. The UK already has a points based system for workers from outside the EU. I would like to see this extended universally for UK immigration or, if we can’t avoid free-movement, active tax-based incentives for migrants from shortage fields or for those recognised to be ‘experts’ in the appropriate fields, or accelerated citizenship depending on need.
I’d also like to see tax incentives for seasonal migrants to provide a stop gap for our farmers, for example, while they prepare for a fully automated agricultural future.
In short, I want to see public perception of migrants changing. I want the benefits of migration to be celebrated. EU migrants in particular tend to bring in more to the treasury than UK-born citizens, and I want us to take our heads out of the sand and start to see the possibilities of migration as a boon, not a curse.
And if you are concerned about ‘diluting’ the cultural identity of our great nation, then I suggest you either gain a little more faith in the strength of appeal of our way of life or you work a little harder to make it so attractive that Johnny Foreigner can’t help but want to join in. To be honest, the things I am most proud of are the things I believe can stand on their own two legs. If it can’t survive a little challenge or variety, why should I bother with it anyway?
But we can’t let everything be swallowed up by Brexit. There are still a fair few other fights worth having. And, once again, I think we need to be looking toward the future.
6 — Inequality
After ecological responsibility, inequality needs to underpin everything. For every policy, every decision, every movement of government *inequality* needs to be the target. Every other social ill seems to split from this stem. We’ve known it for years — and yet it is still given little more than lip service.
I don’t care how you plan to do it (a mixed approach would probably be most effective), but if it doesn’t reduce the economic disparity between the rich and poor then I’m not interested.
7 — Tax
i— Avoidance — I think the issue here is quite simple. Employ more and more accountants and other tax experts to plug the holes until it becomes economically unviable for any company to wriggle out of its financial responsibilities to our coffers. Oh, we think CompanyX could have avoided up to £6bn in tax? Sure. Let’s pay up to £5,999,999,999 to make sure they pay every penny and then use what we learn there to get a better deal with the next avoider. If CompanyX then decides they no longer want to do business in the UK, no problem. There will be plenty of tax-paying competitors left behind to pick up the customers.
ii — Income Tax — Sorry folks, we need your money too. No, you don’t deserve to keep it. If you earned it in this country, you have already benefitted from the systems of support that made your product/craft/contribution viable. You owe this country for every success you have ever had.
I’m not just talking about the very richest either. We middle earners have to cough up as well. Yes, that does mean you might have to downgrade your holiday plans or stay in a house you feel is slightly too small for your family’s needs. Boo hoo. Come back and complain once every child in this country is born into a safe home, once every homeless girl has a guaranteed roof over her head and once every refugee can return to their homeland without fear of persecution or war. Until that time, pay up; they need it more than we do.
8 — Rights
No, I will not accept any reduction in either worker’s rights or human rights in general. The government exists to protect those without power from those who possess it. If you are not going to improve protections for our citizens (especially those at the bottom), then you have no right to govern.
9 — Health and Education
This is a tricky one, because neither of these are areas where we can cut back anymore. We are already riding on the momentum from years past, and that is fast running out. But we can’t just keep treating the symptoms — we have to invest more to start dealing with the causes. Positive health incentives for exercise, healthy eating and mental health will get my interest. Education built on the inherent and lifelong benefits of learning, not test results.
Both of these also need heavy investment in another way — not just to plug the gaps in current provision, but to develop systems that will enable faster and more efficient change in the future. Let’s take a step back and work out what is needed in the long term — even if that means things end up more difficult today.
10 — The Low Employment Economy
Automation is coming. Sure, it might not put everyone out of a job overnight and human ingenuity for finding more work for ourselves to do is not to be underestimated. But the trend, however small, is going to be toward greater levels of automation — first for transport and logistics and eventually on towards education and other ‘soft-skill’ fields once thought to always remain in the hands of human beings.
Like it or not, finding a job in the future is going to become more difficult, especially for those who would have taken up more traditionally working class positions.
Universal Basic Income is one possible stop-gap as we work our way towards this low employment economy. Of course, *how* it will work in practice is still up for debate — but we need to be planning for these things *now*. If you are not going to offer at least *experimenting* with UBI, I want to see you working on another proposal on what to do with the inevitable rise in underemployment.
A Miserable Conclusion
So, those are the ten points I will be considering in the upcoming General Election. The disappointing element of all this is that there is next to no chance that any of this will appear on any ballot paper — at least not in the way I would like it. Sure, we might get point 1 cropping up; maybe a little of point 4 and 5 — but it will either be used as bargaining chips or in a way that has almost the opposite effect to what I want.
The fact is, the Conservative Party are going to win on 8th June. No doubt. No Lib Dem surge is going to stop that. No Left-swing is going to thrust Corbyn into power.
The future is one of increasing inequality in the UK. It is one where the weak lose power to the strong. It is one where we base our decisions on reward rather than responsibility.
But, hey! I can dream, can’t I?