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the Perfect Party

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posted on Jan, 13 2008 @ 03:03 PM
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reply to post by Freedom ERP
 


Absolutely. A guide to how everything works is essential for citizens to take part in an inclusive and healthy democracy. What kinds of areas need to be looked at, though? What do we mean when we say we want to educate people in politics and government?

Some of my thoughts:

1) The British electoral system (how elections work, how your vote counts, how a winner is decided)
2) Parliament and MPs (The functions and powers of both Houses of Parliament, how they work, perhaps a 'day in the life' of an MP with the local MP visiting schools in their constituency regularly).
3) The Prime Minister and the Cabinet (How a Prime Minister is chosen, what duties he/she has, the function of the Cabinet, a run down of some key Cabinet posts).
4) The Leader of the Opposition and Opposition Parties (The duties of the Leader of the Opposition, an explaination of what the Opposition actually does).
5) The Civil Service (The job of the civil service, how it interacts with Ministers).
6) Devolved Bodies (The powers and roles of devolved assemblies/parliaments in the UK).
7) The EU (how the EU system links up with the British system, what the EU can and can't do).
8) Political parties (their role, a history of the main three parties, how the party system developed).
9) Local government (Councils and councillors, their roles, how local elections work).
10) The monarchy (History, the idea of 'constitutional monarchy', powers and functions).

As for facts and figures, that part of the trouble... perhaps they should be presented to the House of Commons and vetted by the Treasury Select Committee so that, if anyone's caught lying, their career is finished (and their pension is forfeit, too)? It's a pretty good incentive not to massage the facts.




posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 03:51 PM
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So that seems we have the first plank of our perfect party.

To me the next step should be a discussion on taxation and I know that bodrul and I have already started on this one. I would look to go back a step. What do the poeple want the state to provide? Once we have this, then the party can start to have a diologue on how these expections can be funded.

One key commitment should be to have a balanced budget year on year.



posted on Jan, 18 2008 @ 04:22 PM
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reply to post by Freedom ERP
 


Once again, I agree - a balanced budget is very important, especially since the economy is entering rough waters.

I suppose the 'big three' areas in which the state should provide are:

1) Security (defence and law enforcement)
2) Education (Up to age 18)
3) Healthcare (through the NHS)

I don't think anyone with mainstream political views would argue with this. Presently, the budgets of education, the NHS, the armed forces and the police add up to £246billion according to the 2007 Budget. This covers about half of UK taxation, as the total projected expenditure for the UK Government in 2007 was £587billion, and the link above shows where taxation comes from (a total of £553billion is collected in taxes).

How much tax we pay is very much dependent upon both how much we expect the state to provide (the more you want, the more it costs) and the quality and availability of those services (though it must be remembered that a higher budget does not necessarily mean better services). So do we expect a state pension? Do we expect benefits for those who are disabled or unemployed? Do we want social housing for those who can't afford to get on the housing ladder? Do we expect the BBC to be publicly funded and owned? What services that the state provides could we as a nation do without, and what services that the state doesn't provided do we need?



posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 03:41 PM
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reply to post by Ste2652
 


Just looking at the numbers you quoted, we are £34bn in debt for just 2007. So much for balacing the budget.

I would hope we can agree on security without too much discussion. I think the only big issue is the projection of UK power beyond our borders?

For law enforcement, we need to consider the balance between protection and enforcement. How much do we want to spend on prisons and the like, compared to enforcement of the law.

Education - You say up to 18. What about the next level of education? what about training in the workplace?

Healthcare - All our health needs on the NHS? Dental as well? Care when we are old?



posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 03:53 PM
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Originally posted by Freedom ERP
Just looking at the numbers you quoted, we are £34bn in debt for just 2007. So much for balacing the budget.


Bad yes, but it can be sorted out quite easily.

We can raise revenue.

Firstly, Sterling is taking a hit on the markets and is no longer an expensive currency. Our exports are now 8% cheaper than the Eurozone, many manufacturers complained about our expensive currency. That argument is now over with. We are now 10% cheaper than Japan too!

The government can privatize certain assets, such as Royal Mail, Channel 4 which will probably raise about £8 billion. If the government takes the approach of the developing markets and creates a sovereign wealth fund, then the UK (or the Bank of England) can purchase stocks, assets et al to add to our foreign exchange reserve (currently worth $96,788 million). The wealth we can raise is unthinkable, so many developing nations could do with our investments and British goods/services.

Cutting bureaucracy and pointless red tape in public services will save £ billion's too, NHS and the police have some ridiculously amount of costly red tape.

In a short post, I've just told you how this country could increase it's revenue, maybe I should write a report for the HM Treasury



posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 06:05 PM
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reply to post by Freedom ERP
 



I would hope we can agree on security without too much discussion. I think the only big issue is the projection of UK power beyond our borders?


As I've said, I think Britain should be able to carry out a Falklands-style conflict comfortably (with forces left to defend the UK itself) without any help whatsoever from other nations. We could probably do this presently if necessary, but I don't want Britain to 'probably' be able to do it... I want us to certainly be able to do it (in terms of equipment and manpower, anyway... I appreciate that there are many other factors to consider too). I'm know this will require an increase in the defence budget, and I am very happy for that to happen since it will be a gradual process over a number of years, meaning the defence budget won't leap up overnight. I also think the UK should have its own submarine-based ICBM system (designed, constructed and maintained in the UK) and we should be prepared to pay for the research necessary to make this happen. We already design and make the warheads and the subs, so why not the missiles too?


For law enforcement, we need to consider the balance between protection and enforcement. How much do we want to spend on prisons and the like, compared to enforcement of the law.


Obviously the police can't be everywhere and know everything (and I don't want them to either) but it's important that we seek the right balance here. For a start we can scrap ID Cards and spend the money (£5.5billion, plus running costs) on other things... the police, prisons, security services and the armed forces. We do need more prison places, since the safety of the public should be put before the rights of the offender. At the same time we need to tackle the issues that cause crime in the first place, but that's not necessarily something that government alone can change - it's a cultural thing, rooted in the society we live in today, and it would take a concerted effort from both the government and citizens to change. Easier said than done.


Education - You say up to 18. What about the next level of education? what about training in the workplace?


What I meant there was that people have a right to 'free' education (paid for by the taxpayer) up until age 18... that includes primary school, secondary school and college. Students now have to pay to go beyond college level in many areas (the main one being university). I haven't actually seen how much the Treasury saves by having students pay top-up fees, though... anyone familiar with the figure?


Healthcare - All our health needs on the NHS? Dental as well? Care when we are old?


This is where things get a little tricky, since I'm not entirely sure what is covered in the Budget data. Presumably these things are included, but I'm not sure what proportion of the health budget these take up so it's hard to say. What I can say with some confidence is that the cost of the NHS is inevitably going to go up at a faster rate than previously since more people reach retirement age and live longest (which will also have an effect on pensions).


Infinite, you bring up some interesting proposals for raising extra cash without simply changing the cash. Don't fancy being Chancellor, do you?


Whilst I'm not sure about privatising Royal Mail or Channel Four (I'd need further convincing on those issues since private owners might commercialise things too much and leave the public service ethos to one side... see British Gas or British Telecom), your other proposals seem like interesting approaches to an age-old problem.

Balancing the budget isn't something you can do overnight... it'd have to be a gradual process done over a number of years to prevent any major losses of revenue in public services. But reducing the national debt is very important, and the UK has to live within its means so that our country remains strong economically (after all, a strong economy is at the basis of everything we do. Without it we couldn't afford the NHS, education, pensions etc.)



posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 06:37 PM
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Originally posted by Ste2652
Infinite, you bring up some interesting proposals for raising extra cash without simply changing the cash. Don't fancy being Chancellor, do you?



Reckon I'll be good at the job?




Whilst I'm not sure about privatising Royal Mail or Channel Four (I'd need further convincing on those issues since private owners might commercialise things too much and leave the public service ethos to one side... see British Gas or British Telecom), your other proposals seem like interesting approaches to an age-old problem.


Right, if you don't represent the views of the public and are abusing public finance, you shouldn't receive a penny. Channel 4 with its "we are starting a debate" but refused to take off Celebrity Big Brother when the government asked too.

In the 21st Century we do not need a national mail service IMHO. But, for those who disagree, why not share it? Those village post offices and small high-street branches are being closed but why not sell them off to private firms and keep them running in the private sector? Everyone benefits.



Balancing the budget isn't something you can do overnight... it'd have to be a gradual process done over a number of years to prevent any major losses of revenue in public services.


Oh of course, this will take about 5 years before we see the effects and the benefits.



But reducing the national debt is very important, and the UK has to live within its means so that our country remains strong economically (after all, a strong economy is at the basis of everything we do. Without it we couldn't afford the NHS, education, pensions etc.)


This is where my sovereign wealth fund comes into play. We can use the wealth generated in foreign asset and investments to pay off our national debt slowly.

By cutting corporation tax and other taxes related to business and manufacturing, we can help to boast our exports and close the gap in our trade defect. As soon as we reach a surplus, we can start to reduce the national debt.

Employment is key too and getting people back into work. More the more people in work, the more we can receive in taxation.

As you can see, my idea involves us not spending a single penny (well, expect for the sovereign wealth fund, but the Bank of England will be in charge of expanding our *foreign reserve exchange.)

*we need to increase our holdings by at least £2-3 billion than it's current total



posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 07:22 PM
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reply to post by infinite
 


Sure! Of course, I'd need the top job first to be able to appoint you...


Seriously, though, I take your point about Channel 4, but it could be argued that it's censorship if the government asks for a certain programme to be taken off-air. As much as I disliked the situation that arose (and, I must confess, I'm not exactly a fan of Big Brother itself or most of those other reality shows either) I think it should be the independent regulators and the viewers that decide what is and isn't acceptable. Channel 4 viewers made their views abundantly clear by sending in a record 44,500 complaints via Ofcom. In my mind, that speaks for itself.

Also, I didn't read through my post thoroughly to correct any mistakes. What I meant was that your proposals don't simply rework the tax system but incorporate other ideas too.



posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 06:45 AM
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Originally posted by Ste2652
What I meant was that your proposals don't simply rework the tax system but incorporate other ideas too.


There is one fundamental area of tax that needs changing and that's Council Tax. It needs to be scrapped.

The average household in UK pays around £1,056 in Council Tax, but the average is always increasing due to households and individuals refusing to pay the tax.

Here is the current band system average for England (Scotland and Wales are similar, but pay less);


A up to £40,000 - £845
B £40,001 to £52,000 - £986
C £52,001 to £68,000 - £1,127
D £68,001 to £88,000 - £1,268
E £88,001 to £120,000 - £1,550
F £120,001 to £160,000 - £1,832
G £160,001 to £320,000 - £2,113
H £320,001 and above - £2,536

The band system has come under criticism for being too complicated and creating a multi-tier tax. Plus, as I've said, many citizens are refusing to pay it.

Now, infinite's idea, radical as it may be, is replacing Council Tax with a Local Income Tax at a flat 10% rate. If we give more power to local level, we can save money from the central government spending bill and thus allow councils to take more control on how the tax revenue is spent.

This then allows us to reduce the basic rate of tax from 22% to 20% and the higher rate from 40% to 30%. Thus reducing the overall tax bill.

Now, another area I will raise is devolution. The Welsh, Northern Ireland assembly and the Scottish Parliament should finance themselves. Either through the Local Income Tax system or via another tax (which probably won't be popular). Either way, central government should not being financing it.



posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 06:52 AM
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reply to post by Ste2652
 


Smaller government is needed too to reduce the £34 billion debt. There are some pointless government departments, which end up causing confusion over "who does what"...but, I'll explain in detail in my next post



posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 10:35 AM
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reply to post by infinite
 


I like the idea of a local tax.

Would it be far to say that your idea is based on the fact that those with larger incomes typically live in more expensive homes?

How would you accomdate those with more than one home? (typically with higher incomes I know)

Would this be collected under PAYE and then given to the local councils. We would need to ensure that central government can not touch or withhold the local tax collected.



[edit on 22-1-2008 by Freedom ERP]



posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 11:01 AM
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Local tax is probably the best solution since there's an added bonus that Whitehall doesn't need to spend time and money funnelling cash from the Treasury to the local councils. It would probably help if we could define exactly what we expected local government to do, however.

I would also support a move to roll this out across the UK, removing the devolved bodies of Scotland and Wales and replacing them with local government with more powers. It would bring a genuinely local and fair system across Great Britain (Northern Ireland is obviously a different case).



posted on Feb, 7 2008 @ 03:25 PM
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So can we saw that this perfect party would support a reform of funding for local government with a local income tax.

So what's next to debate?

What to do about Europe?



posted on Feb, 7 2008 @ 06:58 PM
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reply to post by Freedom ERP
 


Commit to staying in the EU and support the idea of the organisation but insist on two things:

a) Substantial reforms without taking any more power from the governments of the European nations.

b) Put an end to the idea of a federal European 'superstate'. That was not what the EU was created for - it is an unworkable daydream of a few, not the desire of the many.

Let me explain my reasoning and go into a little more detail.

On point A, I think the EU has more than enough power to reform itself without the need to have oversight into any more areas of national policy in any European nation. It doesn't need more power - it needs reform.

But what specifically needs reform?

1) The Common Agricultural Policy - We need to ensure that all of Europe has both reasonably priced food, which may become problematic in the future due to increasing populations and climate change. We also need to ensure that European farmers get a good deal, but that they are efficient and resourceful. Hence it may be necessary to encourage farmers of some countries (e.g. France) to rationalise their farming methods and try to make things run better and/or cheaper.

2) Transparency and democracy - Despite having MSPs, the EU still seems distant and impersonal. The decision making process needs to be more open and accessible to European citizens, and more officials need to be elected rather than appointed (I'm sure we could elect commissioners, for example). The EU often gets bad press coverage and is seen to be a 'gravy train' - being more transparent and democratic should help to ease the issue and root out anyone who actually is abusing the system.

3) Inter-EU migration - I know that part of the EU charters and treaties permit free movement of labour. But in some cases this can have negative effects on both an immigrant's country of origin (through loss of workers and population decline) and country of destination (through integration issues). The EU should act on this before the problem gets too big, because I fear far-right groups could use this to their advantage.

I think all this can be achieved without the need for extra powers and so on.

As for point B, to adopt such a policy would be ultimately disastrous for all Europeans. Let us not forget that this was a continent at war only seventy years ago, and was divided up until about twenty years ago. There are many, many differences between the European nations (which is a good thing in my view - diversity is interesting and engaging) that should be understood and respected. Trying to cram everyone into one state is a bad idea, since it'll cause resentment. I also think that democracy at EU level is not effective or representative enough to adequately carry out the functions of a state. It would either end up like Italy (where governments change regularly and no one has any kind of majority) or the USSR (where government was centralised and authoritarian). There aren't any viable alternatives, and neither option is an acceptable one. Power needs to be devolved downwards, not sent upwards.



posted on Feb, 8 2008 @ 03:05 PM
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reply to post by Ste2652
 


Some sound ideas on Europe, Ste2652, and I could be tempted to vote for this party!!!

What about Europe protecting power around the world? And an all Europe military force in a similar vein to NATO?



posted on Feb, 8 2008 @ 04:54 PM
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reply to post by Freedom ERP
 


Depends how you look at power projection, I suppose. Political? Military? Economic?

It needs to preserve the right and ability of European nations to act independently when necessary (as I've said, European nations have many differences and I view this as a positive thing), but when it's in the interests of Europe to cooperate on various things then there obviously should be mechanisms in place.

As for NATO, I think we need to keep it. It clearly needs reform though, like the EU, as we've seen over the lack of cohesion over Afghanistan and the efforts that various NATO members have put in. If it isn't reformed, it'll collapse - I think that's the choice NATO faces.



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