Proposal for the formation of a new political party – see if you agree with these policies:

Policies of the New Libertarian Independent Secular Party (L.I.S.P.)

Like the Libertarian Party in the U.S., the New Libertarian Independent Secular Party – launched here today, 22nd October 2012 – reflects the ideas of libertarianism, favouring a secular, humanist society, a less powerful state (except for the re-nationalisation of essential public utilities), strong civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), minimum restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, the legalization of cannabis, separation of church and state, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations (i.e., avoiding foreign military entanglements with other nations), freedom of trade and travel to all foreign countries, and a more responsive and direct democracy using modern digital technology to enable citizens to vote directly on important issues.

We would:

1)      Re-nationalise all public utilities and industries which were nationalised by the Attlee government in 1945 and privatised by the Thatcher government after 1979, to include gas, electricity, water, raillways, telecoms, coal and steel.

2)      Provide free residential and nursing support for the elderly in care and nursing homes without means testing or requiring the sale of the elderly person’s house and free home help care for the elderly still living in their own homes.

3)      Impose heavy penalties on bankers and all financial traders, managers, executives, stock brokers, commodity and derivatives traders, hedge fund managers etc. found guilty of negligence, fraud, financial malfeasance, misconduct or impropriety – penalties to include large fines, confiscation of personal assets and property,  and imprisonment.

4)      Abolish prescription charges and make all hospital car parks free.

5)      Withdraw all U.K. troops and military personal immediately from Afghanistan, Iraq and all other foreign interventions; no Prime Minister or U.K. government EVER to take the nation to war again without a national referendum.

6)      Abolish university fees and re-introduce full grants for all students from low income families and proportional grants combined with a moderate parental financial contribution for students from middle income families; high income families to pay full costs of children’s university education.

7)      Abolish religious denomination schools and re-introduce technical and vocational colleges alongside grammar and academy schools, but none of them to be under local authority or central government control.

8)      Abolish Ofsted, SATs, school league tables and the National Curriculum*.  Allow schools to determine their own curriculums and educational priorities, financed by a voucher system like the one in Sweden.

9)      Revert ‘new’ universities back to polytechnic status or re-designate as technical universities and require them to run high quality technology, engineering and I.C.T. courses together with overseeing a large expansion in apprenticeship schemes.

10)  Require the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and other ‘top 20’  universities to take at least 70% of students from U.K. state secondary schools and no more than 10% from U.K. private schools and no more than 20% intake of overseas students.

11)  Use the Internet and digital technology to reform democracy in the 21st century and give power back to the people.  We have social networking on the World Wide Web – why not electronic voter networking using the Internet, mobile phones, chip and pin systems etc. to enable ordinary citizens to vote on important political issues?**

12)  Legalise cannabis and allow sale of cannabis through licensed distribution (eg. through public houses, which would help to reinvigorate the licensed trade and traditional pub sector).

13)  Reduce excise duty on cask conditioned beers and remove it completely on beers brewed by micro-breweries. Lower excise duty on single malt whiskies and blended whiskies but increase excise duty on ‘alcopops’.  Break up monopolies of large pub ownership companies which charge landlords and pub managers extortionate rents.

14)  De-criminalise prostitution and make provision for regular health checks and contraception for sex workers.

*Politicians should let teachers get on with their jobs instead of always interfering in education and using it as a political football (this also applies to the health service).  They should recognise what teachers and other educational professionals have always known: that educational achievement is largely influenced by social, familial, economic and class factors.  

Why do politicians fail to acknowledge what is so obvious to anyone who actually works in education?  Educational achievement is adversely affected for children living in areas of social and economic deprivation, where there is high unemployment, family breakdown and multiple social problems. Children in such areas will inevitably perform poorly in standardised educational tests compared with children living in affluent areas where parents are themselves likely to have achieved higher educational levels and are predominantly in well-paid professional and managerial employment. 

STOP castigating, criticizing, punishing and micro-managing teachers in schools located in deprived neighbourhoods.  Let them get on with their job and stop interfering.  DO NOT introduce more and more pointless bureaucratic assessment and tick-lists. DO NOT pay attention to educational consultants, local authority bureaucrats, Ofsted inspectors, or government ministers and their officials. Instead, ask the teachers ‘at the chalk face’ what they actually need and provide them with the extra resources required to make a difference.  Introduce social and economic policies which really address problems of multiple deprivation. 

Much of this was known as far back as 1967 when the Plowden Report was written, stressing that ‘at the heart of the educational process lies the child’ (not Ofsted, not SATS, not league tables, not local government educational advisers, not ministers of education).

It is pitiful that so little progress has been made since Plowden, which included the following recommendations:

  • A national policy of ‘positive discrimination’ should favour schools in deprived neighbourhoods (Ch. 5)
  • Nursery education should be available to children at any time after they reach the age of three (Ch. 9)
  • Authorities maintaining selection should not rely on intelligence and attainment tests. (Ch. 11)
  • The maximum size of primary school classes should be reduced (Ch. 20)
  • More men teachers are needed in primary schools (Ch. 25)

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** Our current parliamentary system of so-called democracy means that voters only get a say once every five years and governments can do what they like in between elections.  This system grew out of medieval kingship and the patronage of the ruling classes, and is hundreds of years out of date. 

We now have the technology (the Internet, secure websites, smart phones, pin & chip cards, etc.) to enable ordinary people to vote on major issues which affect them in everyday life.  So why don’t we harness this technology to make a quantum leap towards real democracy and thereby reduce the power of parliament and the executive to decide everything?  A few privileged people – mainly rich, mainly white and mainly men – who went to the same schools and universities and belong to the same clubs – currently rule us and make all the decisions on our behalf.  Why can’t we vote on important issues ourselves through new voter networking technology?  It is easily within our technical abilities as a society to introduce such a system to enable people to vote on important issues – perhaps once a week or once a month – but our rulers don’t want to cede that sort of power to ordinary voters; witness how many times we have been promised a vote on European Union treaties and successive governments have wriggled out of it.

We deserve a better system of democracy than the current antiquated system, where a load of privileged middle-aged and elderly men meet in two plush chambers in a vast 19th century Victorian Gothic edifice on the side of the Thames to ‘hear hear’ and ‘jeer jeer’ each other, while sleek bureaucrats in Whitehall write elephantine piles of ‘minutes’ and reports detailing all the reasons why nothing of a commonsense nature can ever be done.

 

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