From The Common People
Fundamental political stance
- Britain has had a range of governments.
- The Labour party, for example, represented the working class, favoured public ownership of the means of production and aimed to squeeze property speculators until their pips squeaked. They were a definitive party of the left - most Labour voters thought Dennis Healey had proposed squeezing the rich, not just speculators, since it was precisely what he proceeded to do. Squeezing groups or classes until their pips squeak is not on our agenda, not least because it always backfires. The first use of the phrase in 1918 was about German reparations, and became the primary cause of World War Two.
- New Labour was formed by the right wing clique of the Labour party taking control and baptizing themselves the reborn "New Labour". Thereafter they competed equally with Conservatives on right-wing turf. They disavowed and disempowered their founding fathers, the Trades Unions; persecuted any of their own members who strayed back across the centrist divide; dragged the UK into a succession of tinsel-painted foreign regime changes which invariably ruined the countries they simplistically claimed to be saving; and finally became ungovernable when an accidental reversion threw up a genuine charismatic Labour party leader in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn. The country no longer has a credible left wing Labour party seeking a mandate to govern.
- The Conservative party has not always been a party of the right, but it's hard to imagine it every regaining the centre ground from its current place in the political spectrum. Since the passing of Disraeli it has been the party of aristocracy, the upper class, old money, new money, entrepreneurs, and diehard international isolationists keen to eliminate inward migration. There was a brief period in the 1970s when the country was run by Labour-Conservative consensus, the parties alternating in government but leaving intact the progress made by their predecessor. That notion died with the advent of Thatcherism and would now appear impossible.
- There was once a centrist party which for the last hundred years systematically shrank to impotent invisibility. The party never survived the divisive natures of Gladstone and Lloyd George. Respect was paid by reasonable people to Jo Grimond, all of which evaporated as the train-wreck of Jeremy Thorpe's political career inexorably played out in the courts and the pages of Private Eye. Since then Liberals have been pawns on the national chessboard, none more so than Nick Clegg who ended up carrying the can for David Cameron's maladministration after their coalition of 2010.
- The Common People is not left-wing. We have no problem with a few people getting extremely rich from capitalist enterprise. But we will not tolerate anyone at the bottom end of society having too few resources to live the best they can. The quality of life in this country is not defined by the glamour of the wealthy. To quote Nelson Mandela, "A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones”. Everyone should have a sufficiency, on top of which they may choose to earn more. The pervasive existence of present-day wage slavery is abhorrent. People will work at jobs they find satisfy their desires, either to gain skills or to benefit society or to generate wealth. These are not left-wing aspirations, they are central existential planks to any self-respecting nation. These are fundamentals which will inform all of our policies in government.
- Britain has had a range of governments.
- "This is a neurobiological chronic disease, not a moral failing" - Bridget Galati, Quoted in Nature Outlook 19 December 2022. See also "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst" by Robert Sapolsky.
- Most criminal conviction is driven by addictive behavior, and most addictive behavior is driven by the stress of poverty, ignorance and mental illness. Building on basic income, we will deploy decriminalization, education and health reform to address addiction as a social ill. The great majority of people brought into the courts are victims of a system which has traditionally preferred blame and retribution to reconstructive mental health therapy. Our policy goals across all departments of state are focused on improving the mental wellness of society.
- "Is it unreasonable to suggest that the enticement into addiction and death would not occur on this massive scale if narcotics were on sale in local newsagents and supermarkets, on similar terms to alcohol and tobacco? Criminalization breeds criminals. There are no drug smugglers or county lines child couriers if there is no illegal drugs trade. Nor are there the quality issues which lead to so many users dying. The biggest possible step forward to reducing crime in this country is to legalize the importation, processing and sale of narcotics. The harm done to organized crime would be immense." - comment in The Times, while several hundred others frothed from the opposite viewpoint. The Times is a haven for ex-UKIP ranters these days.
- This was one of the very few sensible comments there on the same page: "Ian McCauley: This story is heartbreaking. Sadly it is not uncommon. The Times ( See leader Dec 21) and uninformed columnists, like Melanie Phillips, perpetuate the myth that prohibition can prevent tragedies like this. In continuing to advocate prohibition commentators are simply leaving control to criminals. Controlled legislation is, in my view, the only realistic way forward."
- And another, by Peter Reynolds:"Consumers are not responsible for the failure of governments to regulate drugs markets. Our irresponsible government abandons our children and communities to gangsters. In every other market, government steps in to make it safer and reduce harm. Imagine if we had no speed limits, MOT tests or Highway Code, where would the blame lie for road accidents? Both Conservative and Labour politicians have blood on their hands over the insane policy of prohibition which causes far more harm than it prevents."
- Ian McCauley is relevant on the Guardian too: "For advice on prison policy, Liz Truss could do worse than read Ken Clarke’s political memoir. In A Kind of Blue, Mr Clarke asserts that prison is a “wholly unsuitable place” for “waifs and strays whose problems were mainly caused by personal inadequacy, drug addiction or mental health issues”. Mr Clarke goes on to say that prisons “are now full of such people deprived of proper attention for their drug and alcohol problem”. Many addicts are sent to prison for offences connected to their addictions, after short sentences they are often released to return to a homeless existence having received no targeted attention for these addictions. Prison staff are clearly under intolerable pressure. The growing problems of drug and alcohol abuse, mental-health issues and homelessness should surely be worthy of a more coherent approach from the Ministry of Justice."
- And again: Ian McCauley, Reading: "Linda Smith and Roger Pepworth (Letters, 4 February) are absolutely correct in linking the tragic deaths of so many homeless people to austerity. The national debate on this issue has been further constrained by political expediency and a blinkered approach to the evidence provided by good practice in this area. Congratulations to Andy Burnham for his initiative and imagination in his approach to homelessness (Off the streets: How Manchester bucked trend on homeless figures, 1 February). / Just over a year ago you published my letter (11 December 2017) congratulating you on an article about Portugal’s approach to substance abuse and addiction. I referred to a young man who had been let down by an incoherent approach to his multiple addiction problems, mental health issues and homelessness. In particular I highlighted the inappropriate and inhumane response of the justice system to the minor offences connected with his addictions. I felt then that he was in mortal danger. He died a week ago. / He had enormous potential. He was much loved but also very ill. Although there were a number of professional individuals helping him, their efforts have been undermined by political cowardice and what Mr Pepworth calls the “wreckage” of the austerity programme. The prison sentences my friend served were inappropriate and futile. I applaud the Guardian for casting light on the scandal my friend’s death represents."
Part A: Underlying principle: can we feed everyone?
- Climate change suggests farming is not going to continue faultlessly in the UK during the current lifetime. It certainly won't across the remainder of the globe.
- Food reserves are never going to extend to even a year. One major growing season failure will make the UK dependent on imports.
- Imports are themselves equally uncertain, for the same reason.
- Hence farming is an inadequate source of food as the century proceeds. We need to have an alternative fully scaled up and tested before it becomes (literally) vital.
Part B: Underlying principle: Ethics
- To get a sense of what the existence of Homo Sapiens has done to the ecosystem so far,
|Domestic||62% of mammals worldwide|
|Human||34% of mammals worldwide|
|Wild||4% of mammals worldwide|
Part C: What is needed
- The development and mass production of nutritional food based on a factory-sourced algae monoculture and reconstituted into appealing preformed meals at a significantly lower retail price than is presently available.
- The reversion of non-urban centres to areas suited to wildlife.
- Just take a look at the table in Part B for a moment. That worldwide figure 4% of all mammal mass being wild mammals. If you go back 50,000 years the figure is easy to estimate - there were no domesticated mammals, and the biomass of humans was perhaps 1% of that of all other mammals. In 50,000 years the worldwide biomass of wild mammals has dropped from 99% to 4% of all mammals, and people are still arguing that the space allocated for wildlife today is adequate? That we're not living through an ongoing anthropogenic global species extinction event? The Common People makes a manifesto commitment to rapidly halt the slide, reverse the trend, and to redesignate the majority of land in this country to sustain wildlife mass and species preservation. It is a vital obligation for this generation to accept. As a future ambition it is unachievable, it has to be done now with urgency alongside our reversal of greenhouse emissions.
- There was a time when industry needed the average worker but those times have long gone. Profit making in the manufacturing industries is largely independent of the workforce. What the manufacturing and service industries profit from is consumers.
- People with no job are ineffective consumers unless an alternative source of income is open to them. Means-tested benefit can provide that source of income but leaves the recipient in a poverty trap where earning brings in only a pittance more than the benefit did. For annual earned incomes today between zero and several thousand pounds, the recipient rides a roller coaster of losing or gaining mere pence in the pound while losing more and more hours that were otherwise valuable.
- The revised tax system laid out in our manifesto does away with this injustice. Means testing is abolished, every citizen has a basic income and the choice to either enjoy devoting time to one’s own pursuits, or to earning more money.
- A progressive system of personal taxation might contrast the highest band of income after tax to a multiple of the lowest. The higher that multiple is, the less society is found to cohere. People will work for earned income when it improves their lifestyle and the work itself provides fulfillment by contributing to society’s needs. See: The Guardian - Ten reasons to support Basic Income
- Civil unrest and insurrection
- As has been the case in this country for centuries, the civil authority may demand lawful support whenever needed from the armed forces and treat those units as additional police resources.
- The police will be disarmed. There will be no helmet-clad shield wall, no cudgeling of protesters from horseback, no more politicized brutality and no more killing from ambush with effective impunity from prosecution. If the police want an armed response they must request it from a different, publicly accountable, body.
- It will be a criminal offence for any police officer to be on duty without a switched-on sealed and archived bodycam and sound recorder accessible by court order, or for any such record to be destroyed. Every taser unholstering will result in suspension from duty of all the officers present pending an immediate independent review of the circumstances, with disciplinary powers.
- Criminal Intelligence
- Civil unrest and insurrection
- Administrative Affairs
- rewrite - As a strategic choice to unclog traffic and make for safe biking, private motor vehicles will be banned from all areas designated “city”. Central funding of free urban public transport will take their place.
- Cities conveniently already have boundaries. Towns and rural areas are not, by comparison, clogged.
- Bus provision will increase rapidly and dramatically, suitable provision will exist for disabled travel, a lot of new taxi jobs will spring into existence and food deliveries will expand. Taxis and food vans are more efficient and better driven than private cars.
- An underlying aspect of our position is that refugees have chosen to try to improve their circumstance by migrating. For some it is a matter of life or death, for others it is a matter of escaping destitution. We question why anyone in this country would deny them the outcome they seek.
- We would challenge the rote assertion that their successful migration would result in a net diminution of resources to those who already have citizenship or right of residence here. Clearly it would be the case for some but not on balance. On balance there is a net benefit to the UK from inward migration, both cultural and financial.
- Even were there not, we contend that the benefit of entry to the refugee is far greater than any diminution of resources to existing citizens. Contrary argument is tantamount to cries of "I'm king of the castle". On what basis do current citizens of the country have greater rights to possession than refugees seeking admission? A more pressing right might suggest that those in possession have already had a lifetime's benefit from their good fortune and perhaps someone else might be due a share. Possession by birthright is not a sustainable moral claim.