Rudrum 2017: An Alternative Manifesto?

Today begins the cycle where the political parties finally reveal what they will do in government, and give us a true reflection of what government or party they want to be. This is the week where policy positions become known and we find out all the promises which will be inevitably be broken. For someone as nerdy about policy about me it is a week where I will read an awful lot and will over-analyse all the manifestos and write blogs on them. But before the circus which bores anybody who is not me starts, it is time to get an alternative manifesto, from a leader which Britain doesn’t need, but the one it deserves. It’s the Rudrum Ramblings Manifesto. Let’s start with the most irritating subject in the universe.

Brexit

Now us (me) here in Rudrum Ramblings, as every political party claims to do, respects the will of the people to leave the European Union. However We (I) at Rudrum Ramblings do not accept that out of the 51.8% of the population who voted to leave that there was not at least a 1.9% who voted to leave the EU but wanted to remain in the single market. We (I) also see a WTO style leave to be a major setback in every way for the country, as we would be now forced to spend years renegotiating trade deals with less power than before due to not being a member of a major trade block, leaving the country with weaker trade deals, and in the knowledge of history that economic isolationism always ends in financial ruin.

Therefore the Rudrum Ramblings will seek to stay in the Single Market or as close to the single market and customs market as possible with the one condition of the freedom of movement of people to be rephrased as freedom of movement of labour, thus going back to the routes of the European project. On the subject of immigration, we would also reverse the decision of Theresa May to include foreign students in the immigration figures, something which has exaggerated the level of net migration. Once our (my) Brexit policy is in place, the people will realise in this damage limitation form of the strategy what a pointless ordeal leaving was, and hostility towards Europe will subside.

Drug Policy and Policing

Not many Political Parties put drug policy near the top of their manifesto, but Rudrum Ramblings is different. Having studied Drug Policy, at particular length, including writing a dissertation on it, Rudrum Ramblings understands that Drug Policy interacts with Economic Policy, Police and Crime, Health, Tax and even Education. Currently, Britain currently spends £3 Billion each year fighting drug trafficking directly. This does not even intersect the amount of police money, time and effort spent on raids, dealing with low level drug offenses and offenders. Current UK Drug Policy, through low level drug offenders also rises crime unnecessarily, stigmatises users, and undermines rehabilitation of addictions, and that is without even mentioning that the current drug classification system has no correspondence to the comparative harm of each drug. Drug Education is also currently geared towards scare tactics rather than facts, which delegitimises the arguments and makes Drug Education less trustworthy than Alcohol or Tobacco education for example. And then there is the fact that medically advantageous drugs, in particular cannabis, are illegal to sell even for medicinal use. Rudrum Ramblings would firstly decriminalise drugs as Portugal did back in 2000, ending the thousands of police hours wasted on petty drug crime, and helping pile efforts from the money saved and the safety of legal use to help protect heroin users for example against the chances of infecting Hepatitis for example, and to rehabilitate addicts, as well as redistributing funds to other resources to help employ more police officers and reinstating legal aid  for example. Decriminalisation can also protect drug users from knock off drugs and so called “legal highs” which have flooded the market due to the lack of regulation which comes with drug prohibition, for example police forces will be free to work with clubs more to identify knock off and potentially dangerous substances. Rudrum Ramblings will also call for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in a regulated market immediately for 5 years, which will pave the way to create the infrastructure for a heavily regulated legal cannabis market for both medicinal and recreational purposes. From the example of Colorado, which produced so much money through taxing its cannabis market that it ended up giving tax back to its residents, this market will created a great source of revenue for the government, and this money will go straight into helping fund the NHS, mental health and social care. A Rudrum administration will also legalise nitrous oxide, a drug with relatively little harm attached compared to most and also consider the legal standing over other recreational drugs with low addition rates in the future. In terms of education, with the knowledge that the current figures of recreational drug use around young adults that is inevitable that many will do drugs in their life, the aim of drug education will be to simply educate students of the effects and the risks of drugs, rather than teaching the worst case scenario.

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In terms of more crime ideas, fox hunting will remain banned as its for silly upper class people with too much time on their hands; freedom of speech laws will be more readily protected (even if people say disgusting things they should only be prosecuted for it if what they say equates to a threat); the snoopers charter shall be reversed and the European Court of Human Rights will be continued to be protected under our unmodified constitution. There will also be a recruitment drive to help the police deal with cyber attacks in particular.

The Economy and Tax

I think everyone reading this will be aware that over the last 40 years the richest 1% have got proportionately richer rather than the rest of the population have got  proportionately poorer. To add to this there is a lack of funding for effectively every area of governance and the economy in generally. To deal with this Rudrum Ramblings will start with Tax. Firstly, 2p will be added to income tax, while Corporation Tax will be raised to 22% to be in line with everybody else’s tax incomes. To add, Rudrum Ramblings would raise the highest rate of tax back to 50% for those earning 6 figure salaries (instead of £80,000 upwards), will introduce a bonus tax which will correspond at the same rate of income tax at every level (ie anything bonus less than £12,000 is free, everything from £12,000 – £100,000 is 22% tax and anything £100,000 upwards is 50%) Rudrum Ramblings will also reverse the Bedroom Tax, changes to inheritance tax and will also introduce a high tax on battery farming goods. In terms of the economy, Rudrum Ramblings will firstly raise the minimum wage for 16 – 25 year olds to be equal to the rest of adult workers. More importantly, Rudrum Ramblings will ban zero hour contracts for full time staff, but remain its legality for part time and student work, and take a world lead in tax avoidance by closing tax loopholes in British overseas territories.

More ambitiously, Rudrum Ramblings will incentivise small and big businesses to raise the wages of its workers by offering grants to help bring up the average pay of employees, this should in turn raise productivity with a happier workforce and therefore create more wealth and in turn bring more money back into the economy. Businesses will also find more government support in return to significantly reducing their carbon footprint. More regulation will also be introduced to properly scrutinise the financial and business sectors and make sure that they are making decisions which do not lead to a long term public loss in return to short term gain. Rudrum Ramblings also endorses the Conservative, former Ed Miliband policy of a cap on energy bills. In terms the renationalisation, I believe the Labout policy on the railways and the Royal Mail is spot on, and that with the railways in particular, a system closer to the running of the ultra reliable continental services, the better. In my opinion the German system of running an economy, and indeed a country, is the most effective in the world, and in doing so, a Rudrum Ramblings government would encourage British businesses to be structured more like German businesses, this includes encouraging and making it easier for independent trade unions to buy 25% of a business, to give the average worker a greater say in how a business is run. Some may say this is a mad socialist dream, but this is how Volkswagen in run, and VW is one of the most successful businesses in the world.

Defence and Foreign Policy

The Rudrum approach to defence recognises that a nuclear deterrent is needed partly to the fact that it protects Britain’s standing in the world and that in the current climate having no nuclear deterrent is unelectable. However, we don’t need as many nuclear weapons as we do now and certainly the price of replacing Trident could be used much better on funding other programs such as conventional weapons, supporting the economy and welfare or education for example. Therefore Rudrum Ramblings would seek to replace only two of the submarines of the current Trident system, and also buying from America rather than designing our own more expensively. Halving of weapons would save £5 billion over a parliament, taking two submarines out of operation now would save roughly £600 million, and not having to pay for the R&D for nuclear weapons would likely double the savings made on trident. £2 Billion of the budget saved will go on conventional weapons, including supporting the army, while another £2 Billion would go on building up cyber defences.

In terms of foreign policy, The Rudum policy on refugees will mirror the Liberal Democrats, promise to take in £10,000 a year for the next 5 years. We will cease to trade arms with Saudi Arabia and other nations which use our arms to cause huge suffering on innocents. Having said that, in recognising that China is becoming the world’s dominant superpower, we will attempt to have closer links to them, as well as establishing closer links the other emerging economies such as Brazil. A Rudrum government will also only support military intervention if there is a clear plan and endgame at the end of the intervention, and above all else, Britain will support closer international cooperation in both military and in the attempt to tackle international tax dodging, fraud and crime. Finally, our policy on the Trump administration will be to keep within a friendly distance without jumping into bed with it like Theresa May has done, and that we should not be afraid to criticise an ally for some controversial policies.

Housing and Benefits

In terms of Housing, Rudrum Ramblings understands the biggest issue is supporter 1st time buyers. That’s why Rudrum Ramblings proposes subsidising construction companies to then build affordable housing, recognising that the reason construction companies don’t do so now is because there isn’t money to be earned in it. Rudrum Ramblings will also place restrictions on 2nd home buyers and landlords, to make it harder for those who are simply just buying to rent out harder to rip people up, drive up the housing market and make a profit. Rudrum Ramblings will keep the current coalition government scheme of help to buy.

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What the Daily Mail Thinks is going on

In terms on benefits, Rudrum Ramblings will reverse the cuts to Disability benefit, and change the way people on disability are assessed compared to the inhuman way they are assessed currently. We will also allow for  anybody at taxpaying age to have the right to a housing benefit safety net in order to fight homelessness, will reverse cuts to tax credit, which effects low paid workers more than anyone else, and to not stop Child Benefit after a certain amount of children in one family, and rather have a sliding scale where the amount extra you get in child benefit decreases with each child. Rudrum Ramblings will also get of the triple lock for those who have pensions totaling £100,000 a year or more, and will take away free bus passes to the same demographic as well, but will protect the majority of pensioners. Unfortunately Rudrum Ramblings does conclude that the rise of the retirement age is necessary to keep expenditure down and to invest in other areas.

Education

First things first, tuition fees. I am for the scrapping of tuition fees and the reintroduction of grants to help support poorer students BUT I also believe that to maintain some of the best universities in the world, there needs to be some extra income rather than just government funding. Because of this, Rudrum Ramblings proposes scrapping tuition fees and replacing it with a Graduate Tax equaling a 2% charge on earnings over £25,000, 4% on earnings over £50,000 and 8% on earnings over £100,000. This system would not saddle people with years in debt, creating economic uncertainty and poor credit ratings, but will still create the revenue needed to maintain a successful university system. The Government will also invest extra money into university and science to cover the cost of the money lost by EU investment. Rudrum Ramblings will also put in legislation which demands that degrees in business and economics must offer a mandatory first year module in ethics.

In terms of Primary and Secondary education Rudrum Ramblings fully endorses charging VAT on Private Schools, unless they actually are charities, to help fund better education for the masses. Rudrum Ramblings also sees the idea of free schools as a waste of money, and the idea of Grammar Schools as toxic and counterproductive, and will fully support investing money into existing schools only, and following the model which has been successful in London. At Primary School and lower High School level, Rudrum Ramblings will, minus the teaching of Basic Maths, English, Science and IT skills, allow teachers more freedom to teach more freely, sticking less to a curriculum and more on the idea of learning rather than just being able to pass tests. Rudrum Ramblings will also encourage more mixed ability classes, as those were the ones which helped myself out the most when I was at school.

Government and Politics will also become a mandatory subject to be taught at Secondary School, as it is shocking how many people of my generation have no understanding of politics or the political system.

Finally Rudrum Ramblings will give teachers a 5% raise in salary and promise to allow wages to increase at the same speed as inflation.

We also have a problem of a lack of manual skills such as mechanics in the UK for example, so a Rudrum Ramblings government will increase the apprenticeship levy and launch a 3 year long recruitment campaign to encourage more young people to get qualifications and apprenticeships in motor trade jobs, as well as other jobs we are short staffed with such as the NHS.

Constitution

Away from the EU, which was covered earlier, there are three important constitutional issues which Rudrum Ramblings would address.

Firstly, it is clear through all the talk of tactical voting, the fact that in 2015 the Party with 36% of votes got a majority and in 2010 a party with 23% of the votes only got 8% of seats, that first past the post is no longer fit for purpose. However I also understand that true proportional representation has in European countries such as Italy has created unstable, multi-party coalitions, and there is a fear it can cause instability. To add, this system also loses the positive note of local representatives in government. Therefore on the voting system there needs to be a compromise. Luckily this voting system already exists in Germany, where every voter gets two votes, one for a constituency, which works like our current system, and one for a political party, which works proportionately. Those votes are then split 50/50 to create the composition of parliament. This makes voting more proportional but is also likely only to create two party coalitions, which has worked in the past in the UK.

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(Photo: Daily Express)

The Second issue of the House of Lords, which Rudrum Ramblings would make half democratic through proportional representation but keep the appointed side, which will actually be 80%  elected through specialist expert organisations through industry, science and health for example, and 20% party peers.

The third issue is the Scotland issue. Rudrum Ramblings would follow Gordon Browns suggestion of a fully federal system of Scotland, and revamp local government across the UK to create a fully federal system, to allow flexibility in policy to suit the needs of individual areas. If the UK is able to stay in the single market, Rudrum Ramblings would deny Scotland a 2nd referendum, but if we fail to do that, because of the promises made in the last referendum , it would only be politically right to let them have a second one.

Transport

As mentioned earlier, I 100% agree with Labour’s policy of renationalising the trains and the approach of simply waiting for contracts to run out is also a good efficient way to renationalise as it gives time for governments focus on each railway area at a time and therefore give the proper time and investment to each line. However, having been a passenger on Southern Rail, where my supposed 30 minute journey from London to Woking and return was actually 45 Minute and 1 hour 30 minutes respectively, would buy the franchise straight away, simply because of the level of disaster it currently is. Sticking with Public Transport, Rudrum Ramblings endorses councils to run half of its bus services, like my university city of Nottingham currently does. The bus services are efficient, frequent and cheep – I could get from Nottingham to Derby as a student for a single £1 in 45 minutes. I would also reinvest the money saved from the revoking of some bus passes to subsidise village routes and students. Furthermore, in appreciation that Boris Bikes are an excellent idea, I would also encourage the system to be rolled out in all major cities.

Rudrum Ramblings will also support a third runway at Heathrow and the completion of HS2.

In terms of the Motor Industry, I would reinstate the subsidies on green energy cars. I will also add further tax on Diesel cars and would also demand Formula E back into London, to encourage the evolution of Electric Cars to suit both environmentalists and petrolheads alike.

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Supporting Sport which encourages the future of sustainable energy is vital to the transport sector.

Other

Rudrum Ramblings will allow the decriminalisation of prostitution and would also support the lowering of the voting age to 16, even if not enough young people vote as it is.

We will back a ban on fracking and will also support an abolishment of safe space zones, a phenomenon which stifles freedom of speech and debate at university. We would also follow Norman Lamb’s suggested reforms for mental health.

Finally, we shall cut funding to the royal family, as quite frankly, the royal family have more than enough money of their own to be funded by the state as the world’s richest benefits family.