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Mutual Aims:- The basis upon which a real people’s party would have to operate, function and aspire to genuinely succeed in UK Politics today

October 24, 2018 1 comment

MA3There has been much talk of a new Political Party being established in recent Months.

The idea has been branded ‘The People’s Party by the media. But whatever it might turn out to be, coming from the same old, same old world of British Politics as it is today, this name would be at best misleading, because the Public would simply be getting more of those same old things.

To be a genuine people’s party or party of and for the people, any new or reformed political grouping wishing to live up to the expectations of this title, will have to consider, address and deliver on a number of very difficult, but nonetheless key things.

For a genuine people’s party to be successful, their work will not just be about policy alone.

A real people’s party will be all about direction, principles, adaptability and always being mindful and accommodating of the real needs of all of those who form the entirety of the UK population. The place from which all UK Politicians draw their responsibility through the Vote.

Here follows an overview of the key areas where a real people’s party would have to focus its efforts if it has the genuine intention of rein-franchising not just the people that any one party would focus its call for support from, but for every one and every part of our entire population. Each and every Member of the UK Community – one and all.

Politics in the UK today isn’t working for anyone but the Politicians themselves

As I write in mid October 2018, UK Politics has been taken over by Brexit.

Everyone in politics is obsessed with their own ideas and plans, and their interpretation of what ‘Brexit’ actually means.

Many of the political class are simply too busy to see how they have become completely detached from their responsibilities to the Electorate – that’s doing what is right for people like you and me.

We, the normal people outside of the Westminster, media and the political bubbles, feel completely disenfranchised by everything going on around us.

We feel detached from what is going on not only at National level, where we continually find the news and social media out of touch with how we feel. But at local level too, where we are increasingly seeing public services slashed and decisions made by local councils and public service providers that are completely out of step with how we know things should really be.

We have a Conservative Party in Government, but not ruling.

We are led by a Prime Minister who has no idea how to lead.

The Prime Minister is surrounded by a Cabinet of ambitious Ministers who will not put the Country before their own desires to put off governing properly until a ‘safe’ opportunity comes for each of them to launch a campaign to succeed her.

We have an Opposition led by a dangerously idealistic Marxist, who gained the Labour Leadership on little more than a whim.

An anachronism of a time gone by, this is a protest politician who by doing little more than romanticising the values of a philosophy that talks the talk but only delivers pain, has changed the face of the political possibilities. We witness complete incompetence given credibility, and by some very unfortunate mix of luck versus misfortune, a career-backbencher has found himself in perhaps a once-in-many-generations position where the failures of others could see him make the once ridiculous reality and achieve an electoral win.

The answers coming from within the political sphere and the Establishment itself, raise even more questions than they answer.

On the one hand, there is the call for a Referendum on the result of a Referendum which was very clear in what it means. A new Referendum seeks to overturn that result. It’s not sold as that, but that’s exactly what it means.

And then there’s talk of a new ‘people’s party’, being born from the ‘centre ground’. The current or portrayed realities of a self-centred collective, constructed of all of the Political Party’s disgruntled Remainers. A place where the arrogance of a noisy few, set against the genuine will of the people, is manifested in the belief that all they need to do is rebrand themselves to be perceived as being different – yet a process which they are likely to pursue.

Politicians have completely lost sight of why they were Elected, and what the role of being a Representative of the People actually means.

The British Political System is completely broken. It is filled with people who only understand their own words and meaning.

The System is currently incapable of responding to the change that we all need from politics, so that its not just the Politicians, or the Political Parties, but all of us who are experiencing a real ‘win-win’.

Change has never been needed so much, whilst seeming so very far away

The Remainers or ‘centrists’ considering that break away from the Political Parties that only serve their own needs when they are themselves winning, are certainly correct about one thing.

They are right that there needs to be a new political movement. What makes them wrong, is that a new political movement needs to be all about change.

A new political movement needs to be very different and not just something else based on the kind of politics that we are all so very fed up of. Rehashed and rebranded, with the same value set and basically the creation of self serving politicians, in their own image, and created only for the purposes of allowing them to win.

Whilst we are seeing lots of arguments, gestures and words about being different, the people in power now have lost credibility.

They need to rethink the way that they see the worlds of the people they represent from a very different vantage point.

They must accept that the ambitious but necessary task of changing the British Political System is now very unlikely to be the kind of change which can come from within.

The kind of ‘change’ that we do not need in the British Political System

We don’t need any more of the same.

We don’t need the same politicians doing what they have been doing all along, rebranding their ‘new look’ as being different, when its all about them, the people who support them and gearing every decision towards winning the next election. There is already so much work to be done to address all the mess they have made since the last one without stopping for breath in between.

We certainly don’t need the creation of a new ‘people’s party’, only constructed from the Politicians and ideas that already exist. Yet another ‘club’ for the select few, created only to convince the majority of the British People through subterfuge, that when they Voted for a clean Brexit, they were wrong.

The kind of change that we do need from a political party which is going to do the right things

We need a new political movement that cuts across all of the political divides. That crosses the perceptual barriers of politicians who have become bogged down with political philosophy, with tribalism and forgetting what working for the people is actually supposed to be about.

When Politicians are thinking about everyone, there is no left. There is no right. There is no centre. There are no extremes.

There are just a great many different people, experiencing very different lives, with the genuine expectation that Politicians will rule and create policies for the benefit of everyone, rather than getting bogged down with ideas and focusing only on each and every divide.

We need leadership that understands the people that it seeks to lead. Decisions made which are respectful of all the realities which underpin the diversity of all our life experiences. The creation of thoughtful and intelligent policies that consider the overlap with all others. Recognition that addressing the causes of issues as well as the effects of them is the way to ensure fairness and success in public policy – The just aim upon which all political priorities should be founded and underpinned.

We need Politicians to get real. To get with a completely new script. To embrace a change which is not of their own making. Change that is not top-down in its thinking. Change that looks at reality from the grassroots up as the basis of affecting a real positive and cross-demographic transformation.

Above all, we need a model of being, which moves away from the obsessiveness of the political classes to be in control of absolutely everything. An agenda that identifies a direction of travel, a set of aspirations, standards and responsible guidelines to apply to all policy making, rather than getting stuck on every small detail.

We require a political system that will inspire and empower public servants to be all that they can be. To do their jobs properly and to not be obstructed by the fear of falling foul of a rights and political correctness. To be mindful that serving the public is not about personal gain, what looks good, or by avoiding any form of real responsibility, and that by deviating into the realms or protectionism and self-service, they will always be disadvantaging the people they serve.

How a real people’s party will get us all there

To get there, we must be practical about how a real people’s party would have to work and what approach it would need employ to achieve this.

To begin with, we must recognise what is wrong, what the fix will look like overall, and what steps must be taken in Politics for us all to succeed.

The reset requirement – It’s recognising that almost of the problems we have as a Society are about the way that we all think

Everything is relative to our experience.

Some of us feel like things are good.

Some of us feel like things are bad.

Some of us look beyond our own experiences; beyond our own bubbles to the experiences of others and to the realities of lifetimes around us, that we ourselves have never had.

Whether good or bad, everything we do is connected. It is easy to overlook or be unaware that when we ourselves gain a benefit from something, someone else might be losing out as a result.

It’s all a question of distance, whether we perceive that there is a human impact as a result of anything that we do, and whether there has been an impact upon somebody we have time and care about as a result.

Relationships are at the root of everything

The interconnectivity of the world today has already introduced significant distance between people, whatever the relationship between them might be.

Communication and the rise of the Internet is dehumanising relationships, putting reference numbers and categorisations in the place where simple humanity, care and thought for others and the impact of our decisions up until very recently would have been.

When we interact with our friends, families and the people know, we think and behave differently.

These relationships are based on interaction. They are real, they are tangible and above all they are human. They require us to employ the code for the people who are familiar to us and that we care about, that each and every one of us has developed as the way to live.

But once this familiarity is removed, we overlook the presence of this very same reality for everyone else outside this bubble of our own too.

We forget that the need for care and consideration doesn’t just disappear into the ether, as soon as knowing someone personally is one or more steps removed.

When we don’t recognise the value of others as being human, we place no value on the impact of the decisions or actions we take that have consequences for them.

Whilst modern technology and the diminishment of our communities is accelerating this process, it is nonetheless an age-old mistake to make.

A World around us that doesn’t care

Today, this behaviour is being acted out on a grand scale.

It has led to the world around us behaving very differently.

Far too many people are unaware of how making unnecessary profit or higher wages for themselves personally, is likely to result in making things harder for others, particularly where government or a third party interest like a business is perceived to be a middle man, making it very easy to forget that ‘real people’ are still involved.

Many of these self-focused people don’t see the impact or their actions played out around them – so their decisions are only made on the benefit of what is perceived as good or beneficial to them.

In life there are examples of this type of behaviour all around us, and it is regrettably all too easy for us to overlook it when it is behaviour of the people we consider close to us, or behaviour of our own.

To understand the impact of the unnecessary harvest of benefiting from the plight of others, or profiting without adding value to a product or service, we can cast our minds to one example, where things look different, but are relative and very much result in the same things.

The bankers and union bosses who take but don’t add value

Bankers and people working in the financial sector make money by creating debt.

They profit from someone else’s misery, and legally too. But they do so because the distance between them and the people they are exploiting means they have no concept or idea that the instruments or tools they create are pushing up prices for everyone else everywhere, causing distress, pain and misery.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum, Union leaders push for strikes, pay rises and action, framed as ‘it’s them against us’, whilst the impact of wage rises on employers, the frustration and worry caused by delays, the cost of living for others and price rises on the high streets are too easy for them to forget

These two seeming extremes may look different. But the thoughts which drive these actions are relative to the individuals and are very much the same thing.

Aims and principles, not just policies

Becoming an electable force is all about creating a manifesto for change.

A plan which is real because it has direction and cannot be tripped up simply by mistakes or misinterpretation in the way it implemented or rolled out.

Policies themselves must therefore be steps. Not the anchors upon which change itself is rested upon.

Policies must be open to change when they don’t work, further development when they do, and be receptive to all forms of criticism too.

Policies must also be interactive and made consultatively and with consideration for their impact upon other policy areas, without isolation and being collective in consideration and at every thought.

Aims, principles and therefore a genuine constitution are what a real party of the people will need to be secure in its direction, to be certain it knows what it is working to deliver and to be robust and adaptable enough to negotiate whatever terrain and environmental changes it might encounter as it seeks to evolve experiences as seamlessly as possible.

Fundamentally, the priorities of a real people’s party must be about the people, being committed to delivering something better for all. Being aspirational whilst also being practical and recognising that in a world built with free will, you cannot jump from where we are to where we want to be without taking many steps, some of which may resemble very different forms and directions on the roadway in between.

Aims and Principles are therefore the guiding lights that a real people’s party must use, choosing not to be misled by the devil in the detail, allowing through many forms of misinterpretation and interference for genuine direction to be overlooked.

 Law for Law’s sake

A legitimate people’s party that wants to deliver positive and far reaching change which will achieve real balance and true equality for all, will have no option but to tackle the rights lobby and the infliction of political correctness on almost everything that we now do, see and understand.

A real people’s party will also have to strike a balance between the forms of regulation and legal intervention that is required for the greater good, whilst removing the mass of bureaucracy which has not only changed the business landscape, but has been a constituent part of the modification of our culture and behaviours throughout.

A genuinely civilised society must have a framework of law to ensure that people are safe and able to thrive.

But beyond the basic requirement of ensuring that the right of any one individual or small group should never come before that of the wider community, that freedom should only exist as long as it does not come at involuntary cost to others, either in thought or material deed. However they may be applied, rules should only ever be used when there is practical need.

Everything else should be left to common sense, to people taking responsibility for themselves and their own actions, and the real time judgement of an impartial judiciary rather than using case history to create precedents upon which completely different circumstances can be viewed on a basis which is both inappropriate and wrong.

Increasing regulation and over regulation leads to decreasing levels of responsibility.

There exists a growing cultural phenomenon where regulating everything provides the perfect excuse for participants to see themselves as devoid of personal responsibility for anything they do that isn’t already regulated for. They do so on the basis that anything which isn’t covered isn’t regulated, and therefore isn’t covered by the Law.

At a time that so much distance exists between people who are interacting and engaging in relationships of all kinds all of the time, the need has never been greater to encourage and reengage people with the idea that they are personally responsible. That their actions cause reactions and have consequences. That whatever they do or whatever action they might take, just because a law or regulation doesn’t exist to cover a particular act or behaviour, the absence of a rule is not a get out of jail free card and certainly doesn’t make it right.

The saturation of regulation that we have in settings ranging from academia to the workplace, covering everything from how we must treat people during recruitment to the rules covering what bankers can lend as opposed to what they must have access to has allowed far to may people in positions of influence to behave irresponsibly, and to do so with impunity, well knowing that they can be seen to be doing what is expected of them by the rules – and that as such, what they are doing is actually right.

For a real people’s party to deliver on the aim of creating the kind of environment where people can live on a basic wage and do so without having to resort to getting into debt, or progress in their lives, being socially mobile and cross barriers without interference from people who have their own agendas but work around the rules, it is the responsibility of that party to create the environment where prejudice and greed are voluntarily extinguished, rather than a continuation of coercive attempts to do the same.

Brexit offers a significant opportunity to achieve the delivery of an environment where a belief in the good of everyone as part of the wider community exists. Where prejudice is reduced to nothing more than misplaced thought as a reaction to the perception of difference – which in truth is all that it is.

Many of the regulations which have created so many of the cultural problems that we are now experiencing in the UK have been introduced as either a direct or indirect result of EU legislation.

Nobody should be under any illusion that overturning rules which have been sold as being beneficial because they sound like they improve people’s lives will be easy.

Without manipulation or coercion, and by simply doing what is right, people will soon conclude for themselves and understand that no form of positive discrimination is delivered without there being negative consequences, often for many others, on the other side.

The role of Money

If rules and regulations are one of the key challenges which will face any truly legitimate people’s party working for the benefit of all people, the other will be addressing the impact, influence, role and perception of money which at one time or another, we all get completely wrong.

Within just a generation, virtually every profession you could name has lost its pure focus upon ethics and quality of delivery. The lines have instead been blurred for many operating within them by a juggling act between what is expected or what is considered ethically good, and how much money can be justified for doing what they do.

This is part of a fundamental problem for our wider Society which is closely aligned to the issue of the meaning and application of ethics itself.

However, it is also influenced by the lack of control and regulation on profit making from Government. Inaction which has also resulted in the growing presence of agents or brokers introducing themselves needlessly into supply lines, raising profits but adding no value as they do so.

This whole sorry affair, based on an obsession with money is having a significant effect on the cost of living for us all and is making it virtually impossible to create an environment where a genuine living wage could be identified and then maintained.

The freedom of markets from control and responsible capitalism are not mutually exclusive things

There is nothing wrong with wanting to do well. To have a good life and have the money necessary to allow that to happen.

But seeking far more than you could ever need for your own comfort only contributes to sucking money out of the system.

It raises all costs for everyone else who instead of hoarding, are no longer in the position to pay for what they have been used to having already, let alone being in the position to enjoy any more.

It is the prices at the top of the chain which set the financial values on life at all levels below and there is more than enough to go around.

Ethically, the drive to earn ridiculous amounts of money has been facilitated by the lack of regulation on a financial sector which is legitimately allowed to print its own money, creating profit from misery as it would be known if it were viewed directly in a non-monetary form.

Lenders and the sectors or industries they support push many normal people into debt by taking value out of transactions where it doesn’t exist, whilst using money that they never themselves ever had, and then push the same people into other forms of debt just so that they can service, or obtain whatever their diminishing salaries now fail to provide.

The financial industry and the sectors which are aligned with and support it are now farming people for debt.

This is a legitimate racket which must be closed down and de-sanitised by a party which is really working for the people, which respects the benefits of capitalism and growth, but in legitimised forms and not are simple forms of one person making profit by exploiting and riding off another persons back.

The role of Political Philosophy must change to one where ideas are a guide or reference tool, rather than being seen as a way of being

As soon as the word ‘politics’ is mentioned, you will have surely experienced that internal jolt that reminds you where your political loyalties lie.

Many of us are conditioned in our political biases by our upbringing. By the people we mix with and ultimately by the environment that we work in. These are all influences that help us to decide which political direction we are likely to target our votes in.

But how much do we really understand about the political philosophies which underpin key Political Parties like the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats?

How much do these ideas really influence the Parties and the way that they are run and what they do every day, rather than being just forms of words that they can use as a backdrop, or more cynically just as a message they can role out at Election time in a blurb which is designed to help them win?

The reality is that the philosophies which underpin, Conservatism, Capitalism, Liberalism, Socialism and regrettably Marxism too, are not practical plans for running a Country or putting problems right.

These ‘Philosophies’ are simply ideas which are based upon the outlooks of very academically inclined or theoretic people, created within very different periods of history and circumstances that are nothing like our own, and in almost every case were idealistic prose which had no understanding of the practical outcomes of applying or imposing them by law in real life.

A good example of how a very basic situation can be completely skewed and effectively rewritten as something completely different comes in the form of the European Referendum Vote, which by a majority gave the instruction to Government, that the UK was to leave.

Within a matter of days, and after the coining of the term ‘Brexit’, what was a direct and simple instruction had morphed into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms, as the Establishment, the opinionators and the thinkers attempted to create meanings which had never before existed, simply because they were motivated to find another route which would suit their own aims. One which they could sell as being that of others, well knowing that their own plan had never been meant by those others as any such thing.

We can learn much from reading and understanding the works of people like Adam Smith, Keynes, Marx and John Stuart Mill.

But their writings were just a snapshot, and not a blue print for implementation in another era and time.

Like all academic work used responsibly, these writers inform, guide and help with practical application.

But these writings are teaching tools. They are very much open to very different forms of interpretation in how they might or could be used in practical plans and should not be considered as either a blueprint or process. They are a resource, nothing more, and there is no benefit beyond.

As we look across the political platforms, and consider what ideas and motivations lie within them all, we can soon start to see that there is much commonality in the depth and background of thought.

It is just the language used and differing communication, wrapped in tribal dress which can encourage us to love a certain perspective of an idea or a policy, which presented differently by others would provide us with nothing to which we wish to respond.

The Political Party System in the UK today has driven wedges between all of us, because Electoral success is derived from the politics of difference, not in working together and using what we actually have in common between all of us, which could in turn be used to deliver something meaningful for all.

What is common between all of us together, can always be used to bring us together as one

To be successful, a new Party of the People would recognise and embrace the true forms of commonality between all of us.

By establishing itself on the basis of what has already been identified as the difference between the ideas that drive it and other existing Political Parties, no matter where in the political spectrum they are perceived to exist – whether left, right, somewhere in the middle or out on the extremes, they will immediately fail, because the priority is not about people, but the gaps and thin air which sits in-between.

Taking ambition out of politics

Passion and ambition are not the same thing. Yet ambition can be misinterpreted as passion and being passionate in your ambition is essential when its all about getting a win.

Politics today has lost its way.

Not because the idea of government and public service is any less valid that it ever has been.

But because the politicians within politics have forgotten what public service is meant for and what being an elected representative really means.

It is regrettably the case that we have reached a point in time where people rarely enter politics to do something beneficial for their communities or the people who elected them.

People don’t seek election to a public decision-making body because they are motivated to deliver something better for all.

And that’s the way that politics should be, with the only ambition being that everyone should be able to feel that they can win.

Politics has become a career pathway, and a system has been created in which the participants are only subservient to the Political Parties which nominate them to represent Seats.

Members and the Seats that they should represent are seen as little more than pieces in a jigsaw to the Leaders of that Party, in a game of arithmetic in which the highest sum of seats, rather than the will of the people is the figure that wins.

To reconnect people with politics, create engagement and policies which really consider what should be, how it could be and what happens to those not directly involved if it is made to be so, a real people’s party must overturn the current view of politics.

A real people’s party must exist on the premise that the politicians that represent it cannot be in politics purely for themselves. They cannot be interested in only making decisions which are beneficial to them, to their careers, or in winning the favour of anyone else they believe will help their ‘career’ and support them to win.

Being a representative of the people is not a right and it is not a job.

Being a representative of the people is a responsibility and a privilege. One that should only be available to those who can see that responsibility to the people who elected them for all that it really is.

A genuine people’s party will be conscious of what it really is.

A real people’s party will be a framework to support the work of politicians who are focusing their efforts on working together, not for personal glory or the next electoral win.

It will be a support network, there to help committed representatives of the people to deliver hard decisions. It will recognise what it takes to win on behalf of everyone at the end when the objective is reached, rather than losing sight of the big picture and becoming obsessed with the small details in policy battles, which litter the roadway in between.

Great politicians and representatives of the people offer the greatest benefit to their constituencies through the accumulation of their other experiences. Through the time they have spent accumulating knowledge of the wider issues around life. In developing the communication and interpretation skills which enable them to explore, to understand and to interpret the experiences of others which they themselves cannot have, and to make reasoned analysis of the many grey areas that sit in between.

A genuine people’s party must select candidates for elected offices based on what they can genuinely offer and bring to the party and its way of being, which is to improve the lives of all people and be beneficial to all.

Selection should never be made simply upon how applicants present themselves or what they can show on paper as a currency which the shallow minds within the Political Parties of today see as qualification in their own image.

A real party of the people will never overlook the true needs of Voters and what it takes a good politician to be representative at all levels. Whether that’s dealing with a constituent who doesn’t know who collects their Council Tax, or managing a fraught relationship with the foreign minister of another country who is demanding that all of us surrender our culture and sense of being, placing our heritage and history in the bin.

A true party of the people, must cast aside any process of diminishing the responsibility of new entrants and be mindful of the responsibilities which each politician has to their own respective seat, rather than demanding a level of loyalty which gives the lie to the idea of democracy itself.

Compromise is not necessary when motivation and delivery are about what’s in the best interests of everyone, rather than just of those directly involved.

 Yes, politicians must group together for the purposes of getting things done. But if decisions are made mindfully on the basis of what’s best for everybody, all will be supportive.

 A new world – Respecting rather than surrendering to technology

One of the areas that a real People’s party must quickly come to populate with ethics and guidelines is the online world.

Today we live our lives in parallel universes with two totally different sets of rules. But there exists a dangerous imbalance of influence which sees the dehumanised rules of relationships created in the space of distance, back-flowing into real life from the online world.

Chaos is the natural state of everything. And when a world of chaos exists in overlap with one which was seemingly ordered, without safeguards being put in place, and through an increasing state of entropy, it is the chaos coming from the other unordered side that will overrule and win.

The aims of a real people’s party must respect the way that the world has changed and is changing, but must also shift the cultural perception that the online world has no barriers, because if it does not do so, then no barriers will exist in between.

Such an approach would be catastrophic with the ever increasing rate of rise in new technologies which are making contact with everyone and anything very simple. But with currently very little in the form of governance to ensure the safety of all, whilst encouraging developments and growth, we desperately need safeguards and devices which create balance.

The EU – Having friends and trading partners is one thing. Losing control quite another. We can only deliver true power locally, if we bring it back properly to its true source and where it begins

Very few of the Politicians who currently represent us genuinely understand the relationship that we have with the EU, and what Membership of the EU actually means.

There is a complete disconnect with both the history and detail underpinning events right from when and how the idea of a United Europe was created, to how EU Policy and its legislation is created and then implemented right across the Block of once independent Countries that now make up its Membership.

Power is steadily being taken away from the people, and centralised not in our capital cities such as Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London. But beyond the reach of us all in the European Centre of Brussels where democracy doesn’t exist.

However, it is not enough simply to rely on Brexit to deliver the level of change which the no vote against EU Membership instigated.

It wont.

Not because its not the right thing to do. It is, but it is little more than just a policy step and there is much more that a party of the people could realistically do.

Power must be brought back to as close to the people as it is possible to do so. Not through the creation of additional and meaningless additional political structures such as police and crime commissioners and regional mayors which have already had too much time and must go.

But by bringing real power back to County Councils, Boroughs and Districts and to the Towns and Parishes at the most local level, where people can be involved most closely in day-to-day decision making on behalf of our communities, instead of leaving decisions to be made under the umbrellas of polices made in London by people who will never experience the fall out from their ideas, which without practical understanding should be back for determination in our localities instead.

Those who argue that the EU is about democracy and people do not understand the affront to real democracy that it really is. Sold as being about peace standards and equality, its true aim is little more than centralised control. Yet the rise of political parties has done much of the same thing too, and this is why Brexit should only be seen as a step in the right direction and that direction must be bringing real decisions that will effect us on a day to day basis back to the level where those decisions can be made by me and by you.

The Electoral system

If the focus is shifted back to representation of the people, rather than selecting a party machine selling a raft of policies which are only relevant for a brief snapshot of time, First Past The Post (FPTP) will once again demonstrate how it is best suited to the needs of a real democracy.

Proportional Representation will only ever suit the needs of people who are only obsessed with getting elected so that they can impose ideologies on us all, and wherever possible without ever having to come to us for a meaningful Vote.

Proportional Representation is a travesty and a tool created to work the Political System. Popular only because Politicians are failing us all with policies and ideas that we don’t relate to and which are completely out of touch.

A real people’s party will bring power back to the people through genuine representation. Through power being given back through decision making at the correct level and as close to the people as it is practical for it to be. And by ensuring that the best people are elected to represent other people and communities by prioritising the needs of the whole community on an ongoing basis and not by being what appears to be the best choice on one day and behaving like you can do what the hell you like and call it in the best interests of everyone on the other eighteen-hundred-and-twenty-five.

The Executive

A real People’s party will accept that one of the greatest but most meaningful challenges that they will have to face will be the reform public services from top to bottom.

A genuine people’s party will need to do this in order to ensure that government always working for the benefit of everyone is not simply another aspiration which can quickly be written off or denied.

The executive parts of Government, that’s the Civil Service, the Offices of Local Government and the roles which exist throughout the massive number of QUANGOs* must be refocused, reformed and re-tasked in order for a People focused Party to succeed.

Public servants must work within a non-protectionist culture that like the elected offices of this way of being encourages responsibility for others to be accepted as a privilege, not one where public service is treated as a myth, and roles exist as fiefdoms where blame for anything can be passed on to others with no worry about costs, which right now have escalated up into the sky.

*QUANGOs = Quasi-non-government organisations. These are the grey-area organisations like the Highways Agency, The Environment Agency and the Food Standards Agency which are jam packed with civil servants undertaking key work on public things, but effectively run without being answerable to anyone democratically elected.

The role of Media

One of the key elements of making politics what it should be for a real Party of the People, will be restoring the role of the traditional and main stream media (MSM) to carrying wholly factual news, rather than the overproduction of quasi-news programming which presents unqualified opinion and bias as qualified fact.

The assent of fake news as an issue has much to do with the role of the MSM being blurred with the developing role of social media channels where pretty much anything goes.

Well known stations have done this to chase headlines and clicks, which itself is more of a reflection of what commercialism is all about.

But it is not the responsibility of politicians to play up to this, and any collaboration in news sensationalism must be removed as a key part of the communication platform of a real People’s party so that the definitive line between factual transmission and fake news can be restored.

A system where an embargo system allow news channels to consider and even comment on speeches before they have even been delivered and have reached the public domain gives the lie to the legitimacy of the whole thing.

The cosiness has to stop, so that full public trust can be restored, and decision making on behalf of the public no longer viewed as a celebrity game.

From the Grassroots up

Above everything, a people’s party in government will remember and be mindful of one key thing. That every single person in this country has the same value and is as important as the next.

It is easy to become distracted by success, wealth, celebrity and popularity. But these states of experience or being are all transient at best.

Their prioritisation leads to consequences for all. Instead of judging the state of society by how people live and therefore influence at the top, a real People’s party will use the benchmark at which those who are experiencing their most difficult times in life, have had their lives defined.

Quality of life must be defined from the grassroots up.

It’s the metaphorical process of growing from seed to fruit and doing everything to nurture and provide the ideal environment for all who are so inclined.

A Real People’s Party will succeed by understanding and embracing the true reality of Mutual Aims

Ultimately, the priority of any genuine people’s party, should be to fulfil the expectations of the responsibility that they have been given, within the timescale which the electoral system has defined.

Put simply, if a People’s party Government has a five years term their priority should be the fullest commitment on the delivery of priorities, not the next election and the manipulation of public opinion in relation to everything that happens in between.

No matter what difficulties or challenges that a Government might encounter during the period of its elected term, if it is doing everything that it can to meet its responsibilities, its electability at the next election should be a happy consequence as a result of their actions, rather than just being a prioritised and all-absorbing future outcome.

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What the Carillion collapse tells us about the unspoken truths governing public sector contracts

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Carillion

Carillion is the big news this week, and is likely to remain on the media radar for some time, given the impact that the collapse of a Company of this size is almost certain to have on commercial relationships that are now an integral part of the public sector.

Moments like this are important for reasons which go way beyond the impact that Monday’s announcement is already having on jobs and the potential closures of many small businesses.

It is providing one of those very rare opportunities to glance inside the incestuous workings of contract delivery on behalf of government and gain an invaluable insight into why private interests working at any level within the public sector is in clear conflict with very ideals of what public service delivery is fundamentally about.

Regrettably, the clear focus of the media and political classes has already fallen upon the question and avoidance of blame. Yet if they were to begin to look just a little further and be open with what have for too long been the unpalatable truths, there would be just the merest hope that questions such as whether there can be a future for the NHS when it remains in a perpetual state of financial crisis could perhaps be genuinely answered.

So why are contracts going to private companies outside the public sector?

The best place to begin thinking about the contracting or privatisation problem is to look at why private business is really even involved in the delivery of government services of any kind, when government exists to operate for, on behalf of and for the benefit of only the public.

Man can only ever have one true master after all, and if money is the true motivator, then public service will at best become an oversight – the unwelcome relative left trailing way behind.

Whilst it may feel counter-intuitive to believe or accept it for many of us, the ‘privatisation solution’ has been in the main part created by Conservative governments in response to the consequences of policies created typically by Labour in order to enhance the rights, working conditions and influence of public sector employees.

Positive discrimination and rights, enhanced working conditions, gold-plated pensions and union indulgence within public sector organisations all cost an ever evolving sum of money in an increasing number of different ways, which usually create even more roles and dilute responsibility further and further still.

The cost of employing people within the public sector on conditions which exceed those of the private sector outside – even when salaries appear to be less, has simply made the delivery of services too expensive for government itself to provide.

Against this backdrop, all areas of he public sector have had to go in search of more cost effective ways to deliver services, and have had to do so in ways which also meet the rigorous requirements of providing services and employing staff as a government based organisations.

This has made the ‘marketplace’ fertile for the entry of private contractors who don’t have the same considerations as these former public sector based service providers.

When you consider that private contractors are providing arguably the same level of service, just without the same levels of bureaucracy – whilst making what in some cases is an outrageous level of profit besides, you can soon begin to see that something is inherently wrong with the way that the government system is now designed.

So how does public sector contracting by private contractors become a problem?

Business loves a contract. Contracts give surety. Contracts themselves can be used as a solid-gold guarantee – and particularly so when they are agreed and signed with government. This gives business confidence which can be misplaced, misused, abused and is almost certain to breed a feeling of complacency.

After completing what should be a rigorous ‘tender process’ – the company will sign a contract with the government organisation which agrees what, when and how the ‘contractor’ will provide a service, whether that just be 1 person to sweep a street or 32 bin lorries to collect your rubbish every fortnight for 5 years. On signing this contract, the company will know exactly what it will be paid, know what it will in turn have to spend, will have worked out its costs and borrowing, should have kept back a little for a rainy day and then know what it will make in profit – from which it will pay bonuses to staff and dividends to shareholders after it has paid any tax requirement.

Good managers know that some things change during the lifetime of a contract – such as fuel prices going up, which would be a real concern for a bus service provider or a private ambulance services. But contractual devices or clauses that allow for some variation in charges are usually built in to any contract to allow for this.

As such, genuinely unforeseen events or those which could not have been predicted by anyone within the contracting company itself are very rare to find.

What government contracts don’t allow for however, are lack of knowledge or understanding of the service delivery area on the part of those designing and agreeing a contract. They don’t make allowance for unmitigated trust on the part of either party. They certainly don’t consider the potential greed or indeed malpractice of a contractor or its decision making staff, which cannot be planned for or predictably defined even within the scope of a government contract process.

When a contractor has only a single contract, transparency is bizarrely much clearer and for the management, much more important and kept clearly in mind.

But when you have many more and perhaps and ever increasing number of contracts, the potential for complacency and overconfidence can lead to otherwise unrealistic opportunities, which in more focused circumstances would have been denied.

It may be as simple as paying senior executives massive, over-inflated salaries. But it has the potential to be much much more in terms of investment, questionable projects and big payouts for shareholders when little in terms of adequate checks and balances has allowed an adequate safety blanket to be retained from payouts and quietly put aside.

The overriding problem with a company which has grown to the size, reach and responsibility of Carillion is there is so much in terms of questionable financial activity that it has the ability to very easily hide.

The responsibility for contract design and management doesn’t just fall on contractors themselves however.

In the background to all this and within the protectionist culture in which contemporary public sector commissioning is currently enshrined, purchasing officers simply don’t have the motivation or willingness to do their jobs as effectively as they should. When the money you are allocating isn’t yours, public service and best value isn’t always the overriding priority. Sometimes it’s all about doing anything which proves to be easier, and who gets what doesn’t always work out exactly as it should.

Whether its building maintenance, bin collections, public transport, prison management, forensic services or interim and temporary staff services that contractors provide, contractors are all making unnecessary profit at the ultimate cost to us as taxpayers.

So what can be done to solve the problem and when will anything happen?

What has been outlined here provides little more than a simple snapshot of a very big and complex problem, which those in power are through their actions are continuing to deny.

For these problems to be addressed, it would first be necessary for politicians to accept that the whole system of government delivery is broken, riddled with management focused upon self interest, making decisions based on theoretical premise, and that there are simply too many people operating within the system who are ultimately being allowed to take us all for a ride.

The ‘too big to fail’ mindset has now permeated through political thinking to a level where contracts are being awarded despite very clear warning signals which would tell even very junior civil service staff that something is not right.

This is no longer a question of let’s bail them out so that they don’t fail like Labour did with the Banks in 2008; this is all about awarding contracts because there is a view that they never will.

Solving this problem is far from simple. It is not just about political thinking. It’s about getting the market’s to think differently. But just as much, it’s about getting employees to see their roles differently; to accept that they have a part to play too.

In simple terms, the free for all has to stop.

This bonanza based on self-interest is no longer sustainable.

The perpetuation of the lie that government genuinely works selflessly for everyone has got to be stopped.

No business can perform effectively on the basis that it prioritises the working conditions and needs of its staff before the priorities upon which it was created to deliver. Yet this is how liberalism and rights culture has manifested itself within all parts of government and the public sector.

Not only has the NHS become hamstrung by lack of staff and inefficiency, it is being cut up by the cost of the staff it hires through contracts – thereby being destroyed by the supposed solution itself; by the very respite that additional money is supposed to provide.

Meanwhile local government has its own substantive bogeyman too, finding itself tied up in knots by the cost of the local government pension scheme – the destination of the better part of our council tax, in many of the Boroughs, Cities and Districts where most of us reside.

Then there are the PFI contracts upon which the last Labour Government so heavily relied. A coarse, deceptive instrument designed to hide public spending, whilst fire hosing cash at private contractors over 30 year terms. Just another financial time bomb legacy like the raid on pension funds by Gordon Brown which we overlook daily on the basis that out of sight is very much out of our minds.

The power rests with government to change all of this, if only they would try.

Regrettably, the will doesn’t even exist to even begin doing so today, even if the Government could begin doing so – something that a hung parliament which could last until 2022 will simply deny.

With a good chance that the next Government will be based upon or built around a militant form of Labour, the chances are that politicians will only continue to try and hide the truth thereafter, because action which doesn’t just look responsible is not a pathway to which they are inclined.

As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in his questioning of Theresa May at Wednesday’s PMQ’s, the answer is just to do everything to return everyone to employment in government jobs. No doubt based upon further borrowing, which to those who don’t understand business or economics is a perceived as a policy which when sold looks bullet proof.

images thanks to independent.co.uk, bbc.co.uk, wiltshiretimes.co.uk

Let’s break the bubble of political perception, join-up policy making and see ideas like Universal Basic Income for what they really are

December 26, 2017 Leave a comment

As a culture, we are obsessed with the value we apportion to everything big. Big gestures, big careers, big houses, big bank balances and of course big impact.

Perception is everything – even when it is often wrong, and the absence of objective reality – the ‘real’ truth, rather than just our own, is the ultimate power behind every form of decision making that effects each and every one of us in our daily lives.

img_3014The rich irony is that it is the small things – the details, ingredients or constituent parts of everything, that inevitably become the building blocks of anything we perceive to be big.

In an instant, we see or imagine big end results, seldom giving any real thought to the creative process which will get us there. We overlook the need for a precise mix of elements to be ready and in place. We then forget that the absence of just one domino could abruptly break up a falling chain and render a shot at glory useless before we have even journeyed part of the distance there.

Against this backdrop, it is too easy to perceive others with ‘big’ roles as having the ability to see the world differently. To think that they have a different, more objective view. To conclude that they must possess knowledge that will enable only they themselves to make decisions at a level that will affect us all.

What we most often miss however, is that those making big decisions are usually very much like us. We perceive them to be different, but they are human all the same.

Many years of a self-serving political climate have created an inter-generational range of active politicians making and influencing decisions on the basis of a very limited scope of perception which barely reaches beyond that of their own.

As we watch, read and listen to the mainstream media, we can quickly attune ourselves to a snapshot of current political thinking. Yet that gap we can detect and feel between how we ourselves perceive things and where they appear to be is not present because we are in some way wrong. It is there because our decision makers and influencers are dangerously overconfident in their own perceptions of the world and everything around them. They have literally bought in to their own beliefs, whilst losing touch with both the perceptions and the realities of the very people whom they have been entrusted to represent.

If the perception of a politician such as the Prime Minister mattered only in so much as how it would affect their own future, the decisions which are now being made would impact upon nobody but themselves.

Regrettably, this is far from the case and decision after decision has been made by those in power over a series of generations and under the auspices of governments of all kinds that are made in the absence of any consideration for the reach, width and breadth of consequence or what can simply be summarised as the law of cause and effect.

All of us normally operate within perceptory bubbles where reality stretches only as far as the people and experiences which present themselves within. Everything else presents itself like a giant video where images can be observed and sounds can be heard, not unlike like going to see a film at the cinema, with the same absence of touch, taste, smell and everything else in anyway sensual, leaving any emotional response to run riot within.

With the evolution of e-living, this developing concept of life will only continue to grow, leaving the dehumanisation of relationships and communication to become all the more pronounced, as we lose more and more touch with the reality of the world outside and around.

Decision making at the highest level being conducted without the emotional intelligence and behavioural understanding necessary, and without the genuine motivation to deliver balanced policy provision for all.

It is little wonder then, that we have a conservative government which equates poverty with unemployment. A labour opposition set on a Marxist agenda which overlooks the natural capitalist which resides within us all. And a looming exit from the European Union which was delivered as the result of many millions of personal responses to life experience which extends way beyond our Nation’s membership of just one thing.

The obsession with big ‘wins’ leaves real suffering running rife within society. It’s overlooked for what it really is because the understanding of what life is really like and what it will really take to resolve our problems is absent from the minds of those whom have been trusted to protect us.

For example, on one side, Food Banks are viewed as little more than an unnecessary indulgence. Whist the other makes no mention of how so many more would be needed if they were in power, using them as an excuse to face down the Government in an attempt to win votes that would inadvertently increase this travesty whilst they do little more than pour scorn and deride.

images (7)Policy made in isolation and without regard to the effects of its implementation is now commonplace. This is sticking plaster politics where layer upon layer of quick fixes have become necessary. Each one laid upon the other to tackle the fallout from the last myopic policy, itself only created for expedience without due regard for what might lie beyond.

We are in a mess. A profound one at that. And we have at no time needed politicians to up their game and focus on what is important for everyone more than we do right now.

The good news, is that if the law of cause and effect and the age of consequence were really to be considered and embraced, the possibility and potential reach of the subsequent change would soon become apparent. Things have the potential to change in ways which could have many positive consequences for everyone, as well as the decision making politicians themselves.

How we support our poorest and most deprived members of society would be the very best place to begin. It is therefore perhaps no accident that we hear much talk of big policies aimed at people like the ‘just about managings’ and any one of a number of media friendly terms besides.

Universal Basic Income would provide an ideal start. Not because it is the free giveaway which Conservatives fear and Labour and left-leaning political parties might unwittingly embrace as a quixotic dream without further thought. But because getting it right would uncover and require intelligent communication about so many different policy stones which need to be turned over and addressed, whilst also dealing with the need for updating and change which has become overdue and very necessary in terms of the Government’s policy on Welfare for all our citizens in the 21st Century and beyond.

To begin with, the fact that peripheral chat about a Universal Basic Income has progressed beyond discussion in peripheral forums to open consideration by The SNP and governments beyond our borders suggests that a problem exists which such a model could address. Easy to dismiss as a left-wing giveaway of the kind which could easily break our fragile economy – because it certainly could if delivered without real thought, full consideration of the need for such a measure is nonetheless warranted.

A Universal Basic Income could ensure that everyone has sufficient income to live a basic lifestyle, free of the worry of debt and able to survive in times of hardship without having to become dependent upon others or government agencies of any kind – should they choose to do so. Its success would however be much dependent upon the restrictions and controls over the pricing of goods and services which are essential to basic living, and this is where the escalation of impact and consequential policy making would become most defined.

Housing, utilities, basic food and drink, clothing and appropriate transport provide the key cost areas essential to living a basic lifestyle. The problem today is that in the case of most essential services which were once publicly owned, they have been privatised. The others have too many parties adding themselves to ever complicated supply chains, making profit or ‘rent’ from little more than placing themselves in a mix which really should be kept quite simple.

Ethics simply don’t exist here and the impact of free-market profiteering within these sectors is visiting the same level of chaos and breakdown at a personal level for many of the kind which was visited upon us all by the same kind of gaming that created the 2008 financial crisis, in a very relative way.

These few facts alone give measure to the complexity and reach of just one policy alone. They also illuminate the work and communication which would be required to create a change which would ultimately only be the enemy of self-interest, if created with the care and consideration that each and every government policy truly deserves.

That politicians, influencers and decision makers would be required to work intelligently and beyond the scope of their tried and tested political philosophies of today, would be no excuse for them not to do so. The potential and existence of good and bad policy is present across all the Seats represented at Westminster and none of those representatives of our political parties have any kind of exclusive right or indeed the evidence supporting them which would suggest that they alone can deliver anything that is fundamentally right.

The noise which is populism has been created by the evolution of an unbridled public disconnect. It is a case of simple cause and effect.

Cure the causes. Quiet the noises.

 

Change is what we need; not revolution. And it’s all about getting the basics right…

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

images-13For all politicians, the opportunity genuinely exists to revise and create new polices which will work for the benefit of all. It’s not an option which is restricted to Ed Milliband and Nigel Farage who both hope to have very different roles in power from May; but one which even the Coalition Government could begin to embrace right now.

Sounds quite a stretch when you think about it though. Tribal politics and the media chasing political circus that Westminster has become, has, after all created a cynical and disenfranchised electorate; one which in the majority experiences little each day, to make it feel that the system actually relates to any of us in any way.

Perhaps without even knowing they do it much of the time, even the most modest members of the political classes somehow succeed in exploiting this very real perception to their benefit, using the media and disingenuous rhetoric they employ to leave individuals and families feeling as if they are themselves alone in going through what for many has become a very trying experience.

It wouldn’t be so bad. But being left feeling guilty because you cannot afford to buy food; to pay bills; to buy clothes; to pay for transport or because you are having some other form of negative experience of life which you really shouldn’t be have in 21st Century democratic Britain is certainly in no way fair.

It is certainly not what you would call right in an age when equality has for a long time been sold to us as a given.

Its not what you expect when successive political generations have told us all that they, and only they, possess the holy grail to putting everyone first.

When you have Government after Government run by people whose only true priority is to gain or retain power, it stands to reason that many people do not see or feel that the electoral system is working for them.

Ignoring elections, or throwing support in the direction of a new Party which is at the very least attempting to sound like it is in touch with the issues that people are facing, then for many becomes an attractive proposition indeed.

Regrettably, such a political environment like the one we are experiencing today provides a wholly fertile seedbed for popular voices advocating seismic change of a kind that would be more akin to opening the Pandora’s box which accompanies public unrest, rather than heralding the arrival of some new and golden age. However well intended, Russell Brand’s recent political outbursts and the publication of his book Revolution are in reality little more than an aspirational touch paper of anarchy – based on the views and interpretations of many other Writers – promoting the release of one terrible genie that any sensible person – however frustrated with the system they might be – really does not want to see let out of it’s bottle.

images-12Overnight change – which is essentially what revolution is, doesn’t usually end well. It is more likely to lead to a situation far worse than most will have experienced before, and one which will probably be a lot harder to change.

We have to work to make what we have better, rather than breaking up the workable framework that already exists; throwing it all in the air and then leaving it all to pure chance to see – and then experience where the unconnected pieces will then all fall.

It is top to bottom reform and change that are essential across public services and all areas of Government Policy, before people are in any way likely to feel they are being treated fairly.

This will not come about by continuing to base arguments and disquiet on wealth or demographic class, and whilst advocates of wealth redistribution may find an audience which is very receptive to the idea that either taxing or simply stripping wealth from the rich, and sharing it out equally amongst the poor may give them all a much better life; this idea is indeed as illusory as the money is itself.

Non-earned wealth will in most cases disappear just as quickly as it arrives – if not through private spending, then through the exponential and inflationary economic changes which would almost certainly accompany the instantaneous arrival of so much personal wealth.

The aim of solving the problems of breadline Britain or the cost of living crisis will no better be served by penalising the potential of high earnings, than it will be by enacting an unsustainable rate for the Minimum or Living Wage.

Such solutions may provide a temporary fix, and give a moment of perceived justice to many. But those with money will soon move away or lose the incentive to keep earning – whether they are companies or individuals; whilst those who have found themselves with more money in the bank at the end of one month, will soon lose it the next when employers and the suppliers of all the goods and services that they think they can now afford put their prices up to support the rises in wages that they have themselves had to pay.

No. Dealing with problems in isolation simply does not and will not work, because by attempting to solve one problem in this way, the process soon leads to the creation of many more – if it doesn’t just make the original one a whole lot worse for those who are experiencing it.

To build a better life for all, getting the basics right is the very first step. It is about reviving, living and promoting a sense of ethical balance and consideration for all.

This will most likely be achieved by ensuring that at the most fundamental level, adults can afford to feed, clothe, and house themselves – and any dependents that they may have – to a minimum and workable standard. A benchmark level which cannot be subjected to the influence of any third party.

Working to address the many issues that require policy changes will not be simple. But Politicians are elected with the expectation that they can deal with complexities on behalf of the people they represent, and if they have taken their election that seriously, this is exactly what they should now do.

The possibilities for solutions are probably endless. But solutions are indeed possible if the needs, benefits and consequences for everyone are considered properly.

If politicians genuinely want to help and provide a level-playing field where there is opportunity for all, why are they not looking at policy areas that have the potential to make an immediate difference. Examples might be:

Releasing the restrictions placed on employers AND employees through Legislation such as the European Working Time Directive: The days when legitimate business thrived on the unbridled exploitation of the working classes have long since passed and we today have some of the most restrictive working practices on the planet. If everyone in the workplace was completely happy, furthering and maintaining the cause of such horrific levels of bureaucracy would make sense. But many people want the opportunity to work beyond the requirements of their contracts of employment, whilst employers would benefit greatly from increased input and flexibility from existing – and often more experienced staff. The real key to ensuring fairness is simply allow workers to do additional work when THEY want to, or just as they have formally agreed. Employers have to be trusted not to embrace unsafe working practices and the nanny state has gone too far in basing industry-wide restrictions on the behaviour of the unscrupulous few, or upon idealistic views of bureaucrats of how business actually works. Imposing business-breaking fines – and being seen to do so, would be a far more effective way of encouraging good working practices and management, rather than allowing officials with no business experience to attempt to direct industry professionals on how they can staff their business.

Stopping the escalation of property prices:The UK is culturally obsessed with property and its financial value in a way that few other Countries are. Prices have continued to inflate at dangerous levels which keeps borrowing artificially high, and makes rental prices equally excessive for entrants to the markets who have to rent, but desperately want the opportunity to own. Government could and arguably should step in to regulate the property industry and introduce policies which keep prices as they realistically can. The potential need for a resetting of property values is very real, and whilst Government behaves as if the answer to all problems is to build, build, build, while prices keep on going up (When do you ever see new developments come on to the market with prices that are lower than the local comparative market?), Politicians are never going to solve the housing problem or the massive drain that property prices has become for young people entering the market. Putting this problem off until tomorrow has long been the way; but tomorrow may already be here!

Working with Utility companies to keep prices manageable: The term ‘utility company’ has been a misnomer since privatisation, when the priority switched from the supply of services that are essentially supposed to be for the public good, to shareholders who will almost always be looking for a profit. No man can serve two masters, and the monopolistic strength of these companies has equipped them with the ability to write their own ticket, whilst ensuring their profits are secure. In the absence of Government regaining ownership, it should nonetheless step in to cap profits, or at the very least buy supplies direct for those who qualify at rates which reflect the wholesale purchasing power that the Government could and arguably should have on our behalf.

Buying services and goods direct from suppliers for those on benefits and low incomes or using smart card technology to deliver just the same: A massive opportunity exists for Government to step in and buy products and services on behalf of those on low-incomes and on benefits. Without the need to provide subsidies, Government could easily realise all the benefits of procuring food, fuel and essential goods as a significant bulk-buyer, just as big companies like supermarkets already do. The immediate concern that would be raised by the implementation processes such as administration, distribution and monitoring could be easily overcome through the use of IT, and whilst we hear horror stories about the stupendous cost of government-wide software implementation projects, the technology already exists to provide such a system through the use of personal smart cards, without big business profiteering, or the end user having to collect goods from anywhere other than the stores that they already use.

Creating a ‘retail’ arm to the Bank of England: Provide full current account services and not-for-profit based lending for pay-day-loans and to support small business – just seeking to return the operating costs for the benefit of everyone.

Lining up what are just a handful of suggestions makes it sound simple. But nobody would have unrealistic expectations for delivery from a Government that communicates with the public using openness, honesty and respect.

People do know that they deserve something better than what they currently have, and the time has come for a kind of Government which actually gets the basics right, rather than just talking about it before the usual grandstanding begins.

Whether income for those on low incomes comes from earnings or in-kind from benefits, there exists a cultural expectation for British Government to ensure a Basic Standard of Living.

Whatever the Political Party in Government might be, it is time for the philosophies, protectionist policies and ideas which benefit only the few to be binned and replaced with delivering something better as the priority for all.

When Government has these basics right, the many dominoes which stand beyond will very quickly begin to fall.

 

 top image – imgarcade.com

Press Regulation: Another exercise in smoke and mirrors as the underlying issue of the growing ethical drought in this Country goes untackled by thirsty Government yet again

Rupert Murdoch at LevesonI will not be alone in wondering just how wasteful the whole Leveson Inquiry and the blustering about press regulation will turn out to be when the dust has finally settled.

With news coverage alerting us to the invitation for Rupert Murdoch to return to face MP’s over the phone hacking scandal and Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson still months from their Trial, it’s a fair bet that this will all roll on for some time yet.

But with the cost at great risk of extending itself well beyond money and into the realms of press freedom and the free flow of information itself, it seems rather strange that nobody is talking about anything other than placing restrictions upon the media, when the issues at the heart of all this are far more universal and basically touch us all.

Phone hacking, listening to private messages or conversation, bribery and any other form of intrusive behaviour are not essential journalistic skills in either a professional or academic sense and it’s fairly certain that such behaviour is not restricted to the activities of a few over-eager hacks wishing to make their mark in the National press.

Like most industries today, newspaper companies exist with one purpose in mind and that is ultimately to make money. Whether that is through increased circulation of existing titles or through expansion, the purchase or launch of others, or the diversification into other income streams, it basically doesn’t matter.

Whether this makes comfortable reading or not, few businesses actually exist today to be the best at doing what they do. They don’t look at the long term benefit of best service, or consider the smiles on the faces of customers who feel they have been well looked after; they look at the bottom line and how to make it that much bigger.

Making money for any business relies on motivating staff and in a world which worships money as its master, financial incentives can very quickly push employees to blur the edges between what most would consider to be wrong and right if the end result is worth it. So the hacking scandal is unlikely to be anything other than consequence or the result of cause and effect in basic terms.

Love him or hate him, its extremely unlikely that Rupert Murdock would have ever consciously encouraged or even condoned the questionable behaviour of his staff and what they have allegedly done, however much some would like to imagine so.

However, a company culture that might be considered to indirectly, unintentionally or inadvertently encourage illegal behaviour on the part of individuals in the pursuit of bigger headlines or pay would however be a different thing. But even then, that would not in itself be a matter for Legal intervention or regulation, as it has nothing to do with journalism itself. It might however have everything to do with people and the decisions that they make when they have no respect for barriers.

The bigger picture here is that British society today is on a slippery slope when it comes to basic politeness, manners, doing the right thing or what some of us would agree as having ethics.

People of all kinds are now regularly failing to consider the simple consequences for others as a result of their actions, or in extreme cases ceasing to even register that consequences other than a big pay day might even exist. This is a problem which is beginning to affect us all.

Sadly, we are in the position where leadership at National level is woefully lacking when it comes to dealing with the question of ethics for us as members of the wider community which makes up our Nation. Whereas Rupert Murdoch has already demonstrated his propensity to be ruthlessly efficient in the application of change where it is needed in closing the News of the World, the people with the real ability to influence change in the way that we all think and look at the world we live in appear to have no such gumption.

Those guilty of phone hacking should receive their just deserts, much as we are right to expect with any breach of Criminal Law. But press regulation is little more than another exercise of smoke and mirrors covering the incompetence and inaction of Government in addressing the underlying issue of ethics which runs through so many of our problems and gagging the media will never be an answer.

image thanks to http://www.bbc.co.uk

Tax avoidance, foreign companies and the real influence of Utility providers on our cost of living

Utility companies are in the news again and this time for exploiting the foreign ownership loopholes that are allowing an increasing number of monopolistic companies to avoid paying sizeable sums in tax.

Were it not for the near exponential rises that we seem to experience from energy and water companies alike on regular basis, you might be forgiven for having a little sympathy with a company which is struggling to make money.

But these are companies which are not only achieving great success in securing stratospheric profit margins from the services they provide using what appears to be increasing levels of media-friendly scaremongering; they are arguably doing so without making any real contribution to the wider society that pays them whilst customers also seem to pay for all their upgrade work as well.

This situation has of course been in the making for a considerable time and whilst it would serve the political interests of some groups to blame the problem on the process of privatisation in its basic sense, it is pretty certain that the sale of shares to everyday taxpayers was never intended as a direction of travel which would result in foreign ownership, or to the cartel like behaviour which has contributed to the creation of rip-off Britain.

Coalition Government or hung Parliaments don’t lend themselves well to dealing with issues of any real importance when they are in power as we all continue to witness each and every day. But that of course is when they face issues that we as a public are openly aware of because Politicians have chosen to acknowledge them for whatever politically expedient purpose that it might serve.

The real travesty with the issues regarding utility companies and the influence that they are having on the true cost of inflation to us all – which has this week been suggested to be as high as 25% – is that there is not even the will to talk about the true impact of their actions upon us all in Westminster.

With the economic fall-out of credit-card government and the continuation of spending with money that the UK simply doesn’t have, reality suggests that negligible or zero percent rises in wages for the workforces operating within the commercial and public sectors alike are here to stay. That benefit and service cuts will remain the uninventive and ill-considered weapon of choice used by a political elite which seems bereft of any consideration for the mechanics of life outside their own societal bubble.

However, there are choices for our leaders and within the constraints of Coalition Government or not, Politicians taking their responsibility to the Electorate seriously would and should all be using them.

Before anything else, acknowledgement that companies providing what are in fact essential services are profiteering and are misusing the opportunities that they have would be a significant step in itself. People would at least begin to feel that leaders are identifying with what real life is really like.

This would by its very nature have to been done with clarity and purpose and with much more than a mere suggestion of what action lies ahead. Another mealy-mouthed effort like that on the part of Politicians when it has come to addressing the previous actions and future behaviour of bankers simply will not do.

It has become clear that self-regulation in such key industries isn’t working for anybody but the companies themselves, and this is where those with Government responsibility should really be taking a lead.

The next step would be to regulate pricing to allow the true cost of service provision to be reflected in the prices that we pay and dictate the formula under which such Companies can raise funds for new and improved infrastructure which in most other industries would rightly come from the bottom line.

Because the services that these Companies provide are essential to everyone, profit should be capped and systems put in place through vigorous auditing processes  to ensure that clever accounting methods cannot provide a conduit through which different cost centres or budgetary areas can be manipulated to provide an enhanced dividend.

Company owners wouldn’t like this approach, but the fact remains that with services that customers have no alternative to use, profiteering before doing what is right has created a cash-cow for the few, whilst inflicting financial misery on the many in circumstances where people cannot even earn more just to compensate. That’s why foreign owners have been so happy to throw cash in the direction of companies in the UK that governments most other Countries would at least keep very close to State control and why our Politicians must now recognise the power and influence that these industries actually have in our everyday lives.

Finally, the time has long since passed when simplification of the Tax system was required on a comprehensive basis to stem the flow of revenue from leaving the Country that we desperately need and to which we are entitled.

Tax should be applied at the point of sale; not at the location where the account managers and owners  are based. This one simple and realistic change could find tax raised from the tills where coffees are physically bought; from the sale on the actual computer and screen where products are purchased; and from the meters where our power, gas and water are measured and supplied inside the houses in which we live.

Scary as the prospect of taking on the industrial and financial monoliths might seem, it is for reasons just like these that Politicians are Elected and why Governments are given power. It might not be easy, but if those who seek our votes at Elections take the trust we have given them seriously, it necessarily follows that they will use it for our benefit too.

Isn’t it time that they started living the mantra ‘action speaks louder than words’, rather than simply just paying lip service to it?

image thanks to source unknown

Without Legalising Assisted Suicide & the Right to Die, it is an uncomfortable truth that in terms of our approach to ease of suffering, we are selfishly kinder to our animals than we are to other human beings

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

The debate on Assisted Suicide

Without realising that we even do so, it is quite normal for us to look upon any situation or perhaps even the content of a conversation in terms of how its content could or does affect us personally at some level.

Fear permeates the decisions that people make at a very deep level indeed and whilst this can unwittingly prove to be a very self-destructive trait, it can also lead to what are arguably selfish acts in the extreme when considering the distant impact that these decisions have upon others.

Because most of us grow up conditioned to think this way, it is possible to become quite blasé about the way we talk about issues which may not seem to affect us directly, but nonetheless have the effect of pushing a deeply buried emotional ‘button’ which twangs our personalities just the same.

Death is of course one such issue and one that provokes all kinds of responses from people, probably because of the unknown issues which surround it and the very definite nature of its existence for us all as part of our human experience.

When I myself suffered the acute stages of a serious illness which nearly killed me and I was forced to look my own mortality in the face, I quickly became aware of just how self-focussed and personal the issues surrounding death can be for those who are close by who are not actually in the process of going through it themselves.

This experience perhaps gave me an invaluable insight on the whole issue when dealing with the terminal illness and decline of my own father, whom I like to think may have been at some advantage by having such nearby support.

Sadly, others do not receive that same level of understanding and selflessness that they need from us all in times that we may ourselves never personally have to experience, or at a time of their life when their perspective on mortality may be dramatically different from what it may be right now.

The deeply ingrained fear of death and our lack of control over it does mean that for many the issue of Assisted Suicide or Right to Die is actually a personal one, rather than a matter of ethics as many in the world would prefer that we were to actually believe.

Very few people are likely to covet death at any time; even those who commit suicide without any form of premeditated suggestion that they are readying themselves to do so. It is a matter of escape and release at a very personal level and it is unlikely that any other person will ever understand the complexity of issues, emotions and pain that such a person is experiencing at that time.

It is the same for those contemplating the need for Assisted Suicide or their Right to Die and we as a society now not only need to recognise this; we must put personal feelings and perceptions aside and provide help to those who need it, without any threat of recourse or stigma being attached to those who have provided or would willingly facilitate that help.

Our fear of Legalising Assisted Suicide and the taboo of the subject are borne from the concern that through illness or debilitation, we could find ourselves or loved-ones unable to communicate with or have influence with the outside world as we now know it, and that subsequently, the decision will be made to end our own or their life in that situation whether we like it or not.

Such perceptions have been helped very little by Health Authority Policies such as The Liverpool Pathway. But this should not prevent us from dealing with the subject as we now should and if anything is evidence enough that everything must now be done to get this difficult subject dealt with right.

Government and the Medical Profession could and should with Legislation put the necessary stop-guards in place which will provide assurance against abuses of a Right to Die, such as consultation with 3 independent Doctors and/or Psychologists who will quickly know if such a solution is best if they are genuinely allowed and are able to selflessly put the interests of the patient in question first without any other influences coming in to play.

There is no doubt that those suffering with horrific and terrifying conditions such as Locked-in Syndrome or those who have such low quality of life because of their physical conditions should have the right to end their lives with help if they so choose. We must all now be big enough to put our own fears aside and make it as easy as it can be for them to do so.

Without Legalising the Right to Die, it is an uncomfortable truth that in terms of our approach to ease of suffering, we are selfishly kinder to our animals than we are to other human beings.

image thanks to http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca

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