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Some ideas for an alternative Manifesto

February 28, 2015 3:42 PM
By Cllr John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

John MarriottIf Liberal Democrats are going to show that they really are radicals, our Manifesto should not just appear as Tory lite.

It needs to show what has always made us different. Liberals do not accept things as they, like the Conservative Party or claim to be something we are not, like Labour. Here are a few ideas that might show that we can still be different, even though we have had to swallow hard as a partner in government over the past few years. Most of them are not new; but many reflect what we appear to have lost over the past five years. They may be a bit rough around the edges and are in no particular order of priority. I wonder whether colleagues can come up with a few more 'radical' ideas. To be honest, we aren't going to get far on what we appear to be offering the electorate at the moment.

1. Return all state schools, including academies, to light touch local authority control and no more Free Schools! Public schools will lose their charitable status.

The emasculation of local government and local education authorities is a disgrace. State schools at all levels need to be democratically accountable and only LEAs can offer this. If you want to educate your children privately, why should you expect the rest of us to help you out.

2. One penny on basic Income Tax ring fenced to fund the NHS.

If more money really is the answer to the problems in the NHS then most of us should be expected to pay a little more? Income Tax is the fairest way to achieve this, whilst increased NI contributions is another.

3. More investment in tidal and wave power - less in wind power.

The wind can stop blowing. Tides and waves are always there. It's time their potential was properly exploited.

4. Unitary Authorities throughout England and a reform of local government finance before we consider further devolution in England in particular.

Local Government in many parts of England is in a mess. The first step towards effective devolution should be to abolish the remaining County and District Councils and their replacement by Unitary Authorities. Initially extra bands should be added at the top end of the Council Tax before it is replaced by a simplified Property Tax together with a form of Local Income Tax. At least the money raised would stay with local government whereas a 'Mansion Tax' would probably go straight to the Treasury.

5. An 'in/out' referendum on the EU should be held as soon as possible.

Let's grasp the nettle and give people a say now as to whether or not they want to stay in the EU. We should still campaign for a root and branch reform of European institutions as well as the Treaty of Rome. The British are not alone in wishing to see fundamental changes if the EU is to survive and prosper. The EU cannot afford to be 'more or less the same' in ten years' time, as someone famously said!

6. Public funding of political parties in General Elections based on the percentage of votes obtained at the previous Election and a cap on private donations.

Recent events prove beyond doubt that reform is necessary, despite what many may think. The time to act is now. MPs should receive a flat salary which would cover their expenses as well.

7. Abolition of the House of Lords and its replacement with a Senate, whose members are nominated by the regions and nations of the UK, the allocation based on population size.

The House of Lords belongs to history. A Senate, made up of nominees from the regions and nations of the United Kingdom, is the modern way of scrutinising the operations of the House of Commons, which would evolve into a Federal Parliament.

8. Have a serious look this time at genuine proportional representation.

The AV referendum campaign was a joke. We need a proper debate on how to translate the wishes of what is now a much more pluralist society into parliamentary representation that more fairly represents the spread of opinion.

Comment - Kathryn Andrews - North East Derbyshire

Please do not put the clock back for schools to go go back to the LEA I worked for them and saw too much of incompetent interference..

Cllr John Marriott