Sunday, 5 September 2010

Rooksmoor's Manifesto

Recently, an anonymous commentator said that when discussing political issues I only criticise and never put forward positive suggestions.  See:  The person asked where the 'The Rooksmoor Manifesto' was.  In fact I put forward lots of suggestions for making Britain a better place, but I recognise that these are spread across numerous postings and it would take even regular readers time to root all of them out from the different postings which include them.  I have eschewed the title 'The Rooksmoor Manifesto' despite the wonderfully 17th century feel to it, mainly because it seems too much like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel.

My politics are very simple.  I am a democratic Socialist who favours European integration.  I know people say Socialism is dead and certainly there is no political party that I can find in the UK at present that embraces the kinds of policies I favour.  While I feel that British democracy is ailing, because of the ever-growing resurgence of the ultra-wealthy and the privileged, as yet I have not gone far enough to begin advocating revolution; I believe democracy can work well in the UK it just needs attention.

I take a lot of my lead from former MP and minister, Tony Benn.  I never held the anti-EEC/EU views that he did.  However, I believe that certainly since the era of the Social Chapter as part of EU's legislation, even he has moved to see the benefits of European states working together and that the EU can be far more of a benefit to ordinary people than the 'capitalists' club' that its predecessor the EEC was seen simply as.

I accept that, since 1974, it has been highly unlikely that any candidate standing on the manifesto I outline below would be elected.  The central ground of British politics has moved so far to the right since the advent of the New Right ideas in the mid-1970s.  However, I see myself as being in the position right-wing British Conservatives must have felt themselves to be in, in the period, say 1945-72, in perceiving the 'mainstream' of politics as ignoring their concerns.  Yet, their time came again, and such views have been in the ascendant in the UK certainly since 1976.  There was a brief period 2008-10, when, as regular readers of this blog will know, I had a feeling that the financial crises were bringing politics a little more back to the kind of Attlee Consenus policies that I favour.  The UK, the USA and other states seemed to be embracing Keynesianism once again.  Under Obama, the USA is likely to stay with such an approach, whereas Britain has rushed headlong into even more virulent New Right/monetarist policies than even Margaret Thatcher was able to pull off.  Some commentators have noted that this was aided by the fact that Tony Blair's impetus came very much from the Thatcher Consensus and his support for policies such as private intervention in hospitals and schooling, with increasingly selectivity in education, formed a solid foundation for David Cameron's government's far harsher policies.

Before going into an outline of the policies I would pursue if elected Prime Minister, I would draw your attention to the fact, that, whilst they may appear to be embedded in 'Old' Labour attitudes, many of the policies I outline have actually been put into place in neighbouring European states, quite often under conservative governments.  Much of this stuff is not radical, it simply stems from a rational approach to making a country not only function more effectively, but, vitally, having a fair society with opportunities for all, not simply those who are already very wealthy or are privileged.  My prime motivation behind all my policies is to create a Britain which is safe for all of its citizens no matter what their background; has a firm economy which all benefit from not just the richest and that is not classless but allows all people to rise by ability rather than by connections.  I do not see any political grouping in the UK working to such an agenda.  I have no expectations that they will in my lifetime, but I remain an optimist.

The Manifesto
Fiscal and Economic Policies
1) The outline of income tax is presently (using the rates for the 2010/11 tax year, our current one) no tax until you earn £6,475 then you pay 20% on earnings up to £37,400; then 40% on £37,401 to £150,000 and then 50% on everything over £150,000.  On dividends you pay 10%/32.5%/42.5%.  These rates are a legacy of the Brown government's approach and have not been tweaked by the coalition.  From this year on your personal allowance, the part you can earn tax free, will fall by £1 for every £2 you earn over £100,000.  So, once you earn above £112,950, you will pay tax on everything you earn.  My approach would maintain many of these ideas.  I would have a personal tax allowance of £10,000 as proposed by the Liberal Democrats, then a 25% rate on £10,001-£20,000; 28% on £20,001-£30,000 (80% of the population earn below £31,000 per year);  33% on £30,001-£50,000; 43% on £50,001 to £150,000; 53% on 150,001 to £500,000; 63% on anything above £500,000.  The personal allowance would be reduced as currently once you earn beyond £50,000 per year.  These rates will apply to dividends of these levels too.  Given the plans outlined below, the government will need more revenue.  These figures are low compared to historic ones.  In 1979 the basic rate of tax was 33% and the highest rate was 83% (yet business prospered); in the mid-1960s it rose from 38% to 41%.  Rather than hammering people on benefit, greater efforts would be put into chasing down the £17 billion in unpaid tax.

2) Value added tax (VAT) would be at a basic rate of 15%, but higher for specific goods, notably petrol and cigarettes with a graduated extra VAT on alcoholic drinks dependent on their alcoholic content.

3) No boss of a company would be permitted to earn more than 20 times the salary of the lowest paid worker in that company or contracted by that company.  If the company has staff on the minimum wage, £5.93 per hour from October 2010, then the highest a boss could earn in that company would be £240,600, still a pretty decent salary.  Those bosses who did not feel that such pay was sufficient to keep their 'talents' in the UK could leave, though there would be restrictions on how much capital they could extract from the UK at one time.  If this means many ultra-wealthy leaving the UK, then it will be better for the long-term health of the British economy no longer blackmailed by their capriciousness.

4) Bosses would benefit from the fact that the minimum wage would rise to become that defined by the Council of Europe Decency Threshold which is 60% of average net earnings.  In the UK the current national average salary is £31,000 (though far less in some regions), giving a minimum salary, on this basis, for full-time work, of £18,600 per year (compared to £12,300 on the current rate) allowing bosses to earn up to £361,200 on the '20 times' rule.

5) In Belgium employees receive 14 pay cheques per year, even in South Africa they get 13.  I would make it compulsory that all employees earning less than £40,000 per year would receive 14 pay cheques per year, with doubling up in June and December as in Belgium.  This would apply to part-time workers too.  This would help in many ways by stimulating consumption, increasing savings and reducing the risk of house repossessions as employees will have been able to put more money aside, compared to now when many individuals and families spend all their monthly income in a month due to high rent, food and utility prices.  Of course, for some people having 2 extra pay cheques will lift them above £40,000.  This would be permitted for a year and after that period their salary would have to have risen to at least £40,000 and then the extra payments would stop.  If their pay is cut then they would again become eligible for the 14 payments per year.

6) Companies will be barred from having more than 10% of their employees on temporary contracts.  Temporary employees will receive the same rights as full-time employees after working for the company for 3 months rather than 1 year as at present.  Companies would not be permitted to lay off a temporary worker and then put someone else into the same position unless a period of 9 months has passed.  This would stop companies simply laying workers off after their initial period so as to avoid having to grant them full employment rights.  This happens too often and leads to too much instability for individuals and the economy.  In addition, despite what companies think, this constant 'churn' of staff actually damages the efficiency of their business, due to constant training and enculturation of new staff.

7) All companies with more than 5 employees would be compelled to have representatives of the workforce on the company Board or the equivalent in smaller companies.  This policy has been in place for fifty years in Germany and has benefited the country's economic growth.

8) There would be a charge on all financial transactions with a rising scale dependent on how risky the activity was.  This would be combined with far more stringent regulation of merchant banking.

9) Banks would be compelled to hold the coverage of reserves that they have to in Spain, the success of this has been seen in the prosperity of Santander.

10) The government will have control of the percentage of their bill that credit card users have to repay each month.  Since the abolition of hire purchase regulations has the government really had any control over consumption, certainly beyond high-value items as large as houses.  Regulation abilities of this kind could have been very useful in the 1990s to slow down consumption and reduce pressure on inflation, let alone heading off personal credit difficulties.

11) The government would not only set the base rate, but also the upper limit of interest charges.  Anyone exceeding such charges, such as 'pay-day loan' companies would be treated as loan sharks and face criminal prosecution.  Financial support would be given to the establishment of more mutual building societies and credit unions across the whole country, though often on a very local basis.  Nationalisation of a bank would occur far sooner than has been the case in the 2000s, for example, Northern Rock would have been nationalised two years earlier than it was in reality.

12) National insurance of 10% would be payable from earnings of £5000 upwards and would have no upper limit on payment.

13) The UK would join the euro immediately and the bulk of the British population will be able to see immediately more easily how much more they pay for food and other essentials compared to citizens of neighbouring countries.

14) Nationalised banks would, in particular, be encouraged to provide low-interest loans to start-up and expanding businesses.

15) Capital Gains Tax would be 10% up to £2,500; 20% £2,501-£10,000; 30% £10,001-£30,000; 40% £30,001-£100,000; 50% £100,001-£500,000 and 60% on £500,001 and above.  There would be no 'allowance', so the rate would be imposed on all the money which brought the total above that sum.  For example, if you gained £20,000 then you would pay 30% on the entire £20,000 not just on the last £10,000 above £10,000.

16) For UK citizens who keep large sums of money abroad, I would introduce the US system, i.e., if you have above a certain sum, I would say £50,000 (in the USA it is around US$87,000), in a bank in a country where the tax rate is lower than in the UK, then you must pay the difference between that tax rate and the rates prevailing in the UK, to the British Treasury.  If your money is in a country with the same or higher tax rate then you pay nothing to the UK.  If you do not comply with this rule, then you will be stripped of UK citizenship within 3 years of your money going abroad.  This is no different to US policies even under George W. Bush, so cannot be considered to be a radical policy.  However, it is estimated that by using tax havens, wealthy British citizens save paying £10 billion in tax.  Stripping a person of nationality and making them stateless is usually forbidden but would be permitted for people penalised in this way.  Given their wealth they would have no difficulty in getting a new nationality somewhere else.

Housing Policy
1) Stamp duty would be banded in an attempt to slow the apparently inexorable rise in house prices.

2) Limits on rents would be introduced on the basis of the council tax rating of the house.  Tenants would be granted greater rights, for example, to be given at least 3 months' notice of the repossession of a property when the owner has defaulted on the morgage.  Fixed-term tenancy contracts would be banned, with either the tenant being able to leave or the owner to ask them to leave with 2 months' notice.  These policies and the limits on rent rises will help people move more easily to where work is available.

3) All tenants would be permitted to have repair work done to the property themselves, having taken at least 3 quotes, and charge this to the owner, who would be compelled to pay for it.

4) No owner would be permitted to leave a property for longer than 3 months without seeking tenants for it.  Empty properties must be kept in a decent state, along the lines of regulations in New York, otherwise the owner will be fined.

5) Like other property owners, banks and building societies will be compelled to rent out or sell repossessed properties within 3 months of taking them back rather than leaving them empty until the local price reaches a set level as they currently often do.

6) Councils and housing authorities would be assisted in building a mix of social/affordable housing, both for direct renting and for shared equity purchase.  This would particularly be supported in areas facing depopulation due to high house prices.  Access to this housing would be on the basis of economic standing not on age or ethnic grounds.

7) All private housing developments above a certain size, will be compelled to build social housing.  The neglect of this often causes problems for those in the more expensive properties anyway, as seen in Milton Keynes where due to local resident opposition to social housing, the supermarkets have to bus in staff from 30Km away.  There would be a ratio such as 1 social house per 10 expensive houses built.

8) Companies abandoning a site, will be compelled to demolish any unused retail/industrial buildings and return the site to a standard suitable for housing to be built on it.

9) There would be a nationwide scheme to insulate every house currently with insufficient insulation.  Once this was complete, solar panels would be installed on every suitable property, not only residential but also industrial.  There would be incentives to assist with this and it would create jobs at this time of employment need.

Social Policy
1) There would be free childcare for all working parents until the child is 16.  Those with the money would be free to opt out and use private provision.  All childcare would continue to be monitored by OFSTED.  Such a policy would free up many parents to work.

2) As currently is the case in Scotland, everyone would be entitled to free residential care once they pass the retirement age, again people are free to opt out and buy private provision if they choose.

3) The retirement age would rise immediately to 70 and stringent anti-ageism policies would be enacted.  The SERPS pension approach would be re-introduced and pensions would rise (or fall) with the cost of living.

4) All health care will be free at point of usage.  Again, people are free to opt for private care.  However, all doctors practising in the UK would be obliged to work for the National Health Service to the number of hours currently required by Belgian health authorities for their doctors.

5) All municipal sports facilities, especially swimming pools, would be free to users.  Private sports facilities charging a fee and requiring membership would be permitted.  All museums and public galleries will have free entry, though visitors could give donations if they wished.

Constitutional Policy
1) All elections across the UK would be run on the basis of proportional representation as they already are in Northern Ireland.  Parties would have to receive at least 5% of the vote to be represented in the Westminster Parliament, the level they have to achieve in Germany.

2) The monarchy will be abolished immediately.  Instead, a directly-elected President, accountable to parliament, would be introduced, able to be elected twice for 4-year terms.  The powers of the President will be the same as those of the President of Germany.

3) The House of Lords would be abolished and be replaced by a Senate elected by the regional assemblies every five years.  Noble titles will remain but grant no powers, they would simply be courtesy titles and rewards, as at present.

4) The Supreme Court recently introduced will remain.  It will have the power to prosecute members of parliament, the Senate or the President, if necessary.

5) British regional assemblies would be re-introduced.  They would be elected, not appointed as they were before, and their regions would be far smaller than those of the regional assemblies that existed in the UK until 2010.  All large cities would have their own assemblies and directly-elected mayor because (despite Boris Johnson) this approach has worked well in London.  Taking large cities out of the assemblies of the surrounding countryside would also secure a voice for more rural regions of Britain and those with particular local interests, for example, Cornwall.  Any border town that wished to join Scotland or Wales would be permitted to do so following a local referendum.

6) Anyone who wishes to be elected to parliament, the Senate, as President or to the Supreme Court or is to work as an advisor to the government for more than 6 months, must be resident in the UK and pay at least 90% of their total tax bill in the UK.  You may say governments need foreign advisors and they will still be able to use them for specific projects or advice, but the bulk of people in all branches of government will be UK domiciled and taxpayers.

7) Local councillors will receive a set salary the way MPs do.  This would mean that ordinary people could become councillors in a way in which they cannot do now and this would end the domination of local politics by prosperous business people who have vested interests which are often not beneficial to the local population more broadly.

1) The railways and all utility companies will be immediately nationalised.  State control will not be on the model of previous UK control but like that of France.  The fact that the French state-run electricity company, EDF, was until recently, a very successful company in the UK is a good indicator of the benefits.

2) Second or Standard class travel will be abolished, everyone will have the chance to travel first class in so-called Harry Perkins carriages.

3) All freight being carried over 100 Km must be carried by railway.  This policy was in place in Germany in the 1980s and enable greater profitability.  Heavy goods vehicles could be filled at special depots near the ports to enable this freight to be driven in countries still permitting long distance road haulage.

4) Britain was the leading country for wind power in the 1970s a position it foolishly gave up.  To rectify this we must increase wind power to the level seen in Germany if not in Denmark.  Brownfield sites, such as along motorways should be used and attention paid to the environment when constructing wind farms elsewhere but it must be recognised that wind farms are far less intrusive than a nuclear, oil or coal-fired power station.  As is happening in Scotland now, wave power must be adopted with all vigour.

5) Incentives will be given to increase the use of hybrid and electric vehicles, and new compressed air vehicles with charging/refilling points all over towns.

6) 4x4 vehicles will be banned except for people working in agriculture or specific industries and living in particular areas, certainly not towns and suburbs.  The maximum permitted capacity of motorcycles on British roads would be 750cc and of cars, 2 litres.  More powerful vehicles would be permitted on race tracks and private land.

7) All drivers must be re-tested every 5 years.  HGV drivers have medical tests every 5 years after they pass 45.  I am talking about an entire test to ensure they still have the abilities to drive safely.  Many car drivers seem to have quickly forgotten the basic requirements of driving and a large part of the Highway Code.  The 'P' sticker would be introduced as in other European countries, and drivers would have to have it on their vehicle for the first year after they have passed their first test. Being awarded any penalty points while carrying the P would mean having your licence removed and you wouldhave to sit the test again and start again with your P year from the date you passed that second test. Drivers under the age of 21 would be limited to vehicles of 1 litre capacity or less.  No-one under the age of 21 would be permitted to ride a motorcycle of more than 50cc and no-one under the age of 25 would be allowed to ride a motorcycle of more than 125cc. 

8) Anyone wishing to drive a rental box van, even for a few minutes, would have to have already passed the CPC test that commercial van drivers have to pass for vehicles of 3.5 tonnes and above.  The reason for this is that there are few drivers more hazardous than people who have hired a van for a day and then proceed to drive it as badly as they drive their car and yet with all the added weight and visibility issues.

9) Sat navs already alert drivers to the fact they are exceeding the speed limit for the road they are travelling down.  Such systems will be installed in all vehicles in the UK and would remain on at all times when the car is being driven, even if the driver is not using a sat nav to find their way.  Cars from overseas coming to the UK would have to install such a device on entry to the UK at the entrance port.  Speed limiters are already installed in certain commercial vehicles.  These would be compulsory on all road vehicles of any kind driven in the UK.  The maximum speed any vehicle could be driven on a UK road would be the same limit that you can drive on a UK motorway, i.e. up to 10% above the 70mph speed limit, that is 77mph.  In time, I trust that these two systems could combine so vehicles' speeds would be limited to adjust to the road they are on, i.e. that they could not exceed 33mph in a residential area or 22mph where the 20mph limit is already in force, as in most of Portsmouth.  Of course, speeds would now be measure in metric, giving 123 kph, 52 kph and 35 kph as the maximum speed in these three examples.

10) As in parts of Belgium, lorries would not be allowed to overtake other vehicles.  I would make an exception if the vehicle was going slower than 10 mph below the speed limit for on A roads or smaller road and 20 mph less than the speed limit of motorways.  This would stop the ridiculous 'races' between lorries moving just 1 mph different, which so congest much of the UK's motorways.  Of course, with increased rail freighting the numbers of lorries on motorways would be reduced.  Vehicles pulling caravans would be restricted to 50mph as they were in the 1970s.  Coaches would face the same restrictions as lorries and so would not be permitted to charge along at 70mph and disrupt motorway traffic by regularly overtaking.

11) Anyone charged with using a mobile phone while driving will have the phone seized and destroyed and would be banned from driving for 1 year.  Cyclists, skateboarders, roller- and inlineskaters would be barred from wearing headphones of any kind while travelling on the pavement or road, at the risk of an on-the-spot-fine and seizure and destruction of their electrical equipment.

12) The Post Office will remain in/be returned to state control.  There will be subsidies for post offices in small villages in which even in this internet age they serve a vital role.  Ultimately BT will be renationalised and provide reasonably priced telephone, television and internet connections.  Private companies will be permitted to compete with it in all of these areas.

13) There will be state provision of internet connections of the highest speed feasible across the UK.  Some regions such as Cornwall, as yet, have very poor broadband provision, just at the stage when other regions are moving to fibre optic provision.  Rural regions need excellent internet connections to prevent isolation and allow the development of a range of employment in those locations.

Defence and Foreign Policy
1) All trade, especially arms trade, will cease with dictatorships.  This includes China.  I accept that this will damage the UK economy, but despite the wishful thinking of the 1990s, China has made no steps towards democracy and still has an appalling human rights record.  It has become a neo-imperial power and is supporting unsavoury regimes across the world.

2) The UK would scrap all its nuclear weapons immediately.  There has never been any point in having them and they have been an immense drain on the British economy for far too long.

3) The UK will never again be involved in military action which is not sanctioned by the United Nations, except in the case of direct threat to the UK and its dependent territories.  The UK military, like that of countries such as Eire and Norway, will be predominantly focused on UN peace-keeping activities and the nature of its forces and equipment will be focused on such work rather than as a nuclear 'Power'.  Unless NATO similarly changes, the UK will either leave the organisation dealing with its members on a bilateral basis on defence issues if these should arise.

The Law
1) The permitted level of alcohol or narcotics in the blood while driving will be reduced to 0.

2) There would be no change to the categorisation of drugs.  'Legal' highs would be made illegal if this had not already been done.

3) Anyone killing or injuring someone while driving will face the same terms of imprisonment as a person killing or injuring someone with a blunt instrument.

4) No-one who assists someone in dying who has made a living will requesting such assistance, will be prosecuted.

5) Facilities for the support of rape victims will be increased rather than cut back, as at present.  The identity of those accused of rape or physical or sexual harrassment, especially when that person is a teacher, social worker or in a medical/caring profession would be kept strictly secret until the time when they are convicted, if that is the case, and indefinitely if found not guilty.

6) The constabulary system of policing will remain.  Watch committees formed from members of the local council will be re-introduced to oversee local policing.  Regional assemblies will scrutinise regional police activities.  Chief Constables, however, will be appointed by the Minister of Justice.

7) In the case of the death of anyone at the hands of the police or through being run over by a police car, an immediate criminal investigation will be launched.  Hopefully such cases will be less common than in recent years, but if not, a specific national Internal Affairs unit will be created.

8) A prison building programme will be launched to provide places for 100,000 prisoners with a limit of one prisoner per cell.  Prisons will be constructed, as in the USA, in areas of high unemployment to create jobs.  Brownfield sites would be favoured as will the demolition, in stages, of any prison built more than fifty years ago and the construction of a modern prison on that site.  All prison services will be taken back from private contractors.  Detention camps for asylum seekers will be closed immediately and used instead as low security prisons for criminals.

9) Legislation incompatible with the spirit of human rights legislation, notably introduced supposedly to combat terrorism, would be repealed, in particular the RIPA which has been terribly abused by local authorities.  The UK would not extradite anyone to a country with a bad human rights record or the death penalty (including the USA).  No evidence acquired by torture is permissible in a UK court and no official from the UK must have any involvement in torture anywhere.  Any UK citizen committing torture or being involved in the carrying out of torture anywhere in the world, is liable to be prosecuted by the British legal system.

10) The import, let alone the planting and growth of GM crops or livestock, or the products of these, would be banned in the UK.

11) Steps will be taken to criminalise tobacco.  In time, as with other harmful narcotics, it will only be available to addicts in restricted quantities on prescription.

12) The approach to the restriction of alcohol through price rises and limits in terms of availability along the lines of the policy adopted in Sweden will be introduced.  Both this and the tobacco measures will not stamp out use of these substances but will reduce the human and financial costs of them.

Education and Society
1) Given that anyone who has attended state school since the mid-1970s, over 22 million people, has learnt metric measurement, we will finally eliminate all imperial measurement from British society.

2) As announced by the previous government, all children are expected to remain in full-time education or training until they 18.

3) The school day will be lengthened, so reducing parental dependence on childcare.  The curriculum is already crowded, so additional time at school will permit the extension of sports activities to reduce obesity and greater engagement with cultural activities such as art, music and drama.  Despite the longer school day, teachers will have the amount of preparation time within the school day increased, initially back to the level of 1975.  With better funding for schools and more teachers trained this will allow a better rotation of teaching staff and more specialist teachers, for example, in modern languages, to be available at all levels of education.

4) SATS tests will be abolished in England as they have been effectively in Scotland and Wales.  Pupils are far too heavily examined in Britain especially aged 16-18.  The AS qualifications would be scrapped.  A levels would be replaced by the International Baccalaureate, which is already popular in parts of the UK, notably Oxfordshire.  GSCEs would be adjusted to allow a better feed into the Baccalaureate. The new curriculum being introduced in Scotland would be reviewed with the possibility of it being introduced across the UK as a whole.

5) Fee-paying schools, notably the so-called 'public' schools, will be abolished; their facilities will be turned over to local education authorities to use for the benefit of the community.  Selective education on any basis bar religion, will be scrapped.  Grammar schools and academies will be compelled to return to being comprehensive schools.  All faith schools will have to adopt a liberal selection policy and will be compelled to follow the national curriculum in all aspects outside specific religious practice, notably in terms of PSHE lessons.

6) Universities will be funded by graduates paying a supplementary tax of 1% above the standard rate for their earnings category for the rest of their lives, including if they are on taxable benefits; i.e. paying 26% for earnings £10,001-20,000; 29% for earnings of £20,001-30,000 and so on.  Whilst at university, students will have all fees and a subsistence payment, paid by the government.  Students wishing to take postgraduate courses will also receive such funding but will incur additional increments of 1% supplementary tax up to a maximum of +5%, for each course they take.  Fees will be set by the government on institutional and course basis.  Courses in teaching of scarcity areas, in nursing and social work will be free to students, with no tax repayment.  Along the lines of policies in the USA, students taking medical degrees can have these funded by the state in return for working where they are needed for five years following graduation.

7) Between 150-180,000 pupils have been turned away from university places for 2010/11, many with very good grades.  I am aware that many commentators want a return to more elitist higher education and question the need for jobs such as nursing and police roles to require a degree but the UK has to be aware that it is competing in a global market where degrees are the norm.  I would authorise the construction of 6 universities in parts of the UK currently without one.  There would be control over who was permitted to run these universities so that we did not see the problems that occurred with academies.

8) A key problem in the UK has been the snobbery against vocational qualifications.  It is impossible to legislate against such snobbery and there is a sense that certain professions should not be graduate professions.  However, for the benefit of the country we need to raise standards and introducing degree level requirements is an aspect of this.  I would advise the revival of BEd. and BA QTS degrees to allow people to go direct into teaching.  I would advise the creation of other specialist degrees such as those for nursing.  Rather than having all universities chasing after classic subject areas, we should laud the fact that 50 of the staff animating 'Avatar', including the lead animator, were graduates of Bournemouth University, the largest number drawn from any UK or US university.  Combined with having technical and working representatives on company boards, slowly we might be able to reduce this unhealthy snobbery against vocational qualifications.  It must be noted that they should not become simply training courses for specific companies but allow students who take them to be flexible.

9) No-one would be permitted to own more than one media resource, for example, only 1 newspaper or 1 national radio channel or set of combined radio channels covering Britain or 1 set of television channels if there are 5 or less channels in the set. News International could either own the Sky television channels or one of the newspapers they currently own.  Virgin Media, for example, would not be permitted to buy any newspapers.  Owners of media resources would preferably be a consortium rather than an individual.  Anyone in the consortium could be a foreigner, but they must be resident in the UK and being paying UK tax or have to give up their control of the media resource. 

10) The licence fee for the BBC services would continue to rise as it has done over the past decade.

I expect many of these policies will be unpopular with commentators, but they are as legitimate in their conception as the policies being driven through by the current government, which, in my view will harm the UK for decades to come and bring so much suffering to the British people now and in the future.  My policies seek a re-balance back towards the rights of ordinary people to live their lives and be judged on their abilities and how they behave not on the basis of what bed they were born in.  In addition, I feel, that whilst retaining the identity of Britain, these policies would help it get out of being fixed in the past and instead become a modern country suited to tackling the challenges of the future, rather than constantly harping on peculiarities of the past as if they were glories of today.

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