By a strange set of circumstances, which some of us would call a perfect storm, we now have the most incompetent and dangerous Prime Minster in living memory.
He is popular, although his popularity rating seems to be in decline.
Nonetheless, with a weak and uninspiring Opposition, there is a chance that Boris Johnson could be in power for many years, leading the country in a direction that many of us don’t want to go.
Just as exceptional circumstances brought us a decade of Tory misrule, culminating in a Boris Johnson premiership, it will take exceptional circumstances to replace him with safer and saner leadership.
Here are some ideas, but yours are just as important, if not more so.
▪ We need opposition parties to work together. They probably won’t, but they should, and if they could put the country above their parties, they would.
▪ We need an opposition leader whose personality appeals to the people. Yes, I know that will be an anathema to many, especially those who liked Jeremy Corbyn and thought he’d make a good leader.
But it matters not a jot if you or I like someone. The nation as a whole has to warm to a leader. Yes, it’s a personal thing.
▪ We need an opposition to offer policies that both excite and appeal to a broad section of the country. With our voting system, no party can win without the support of those who don’t usually vote for them.
That’s a fact, not an opinion.
▪ We need an alternative government not just to appeal to the country at large. We need them to be brave and bold, and offer new, truly radical policies that will both set it apart from those now in office, and to animate and arouse us.
What could those policies be? Well, here are a few outline proposals. They are not all my ideas, some have already been put forward by opposition parties.
▪ A universal basic income for everyone. Yes, everyone would have enough; an essential income for all. For anyone to live in poverty in the UK – especially children – is shocking and unacceptable in the modern age.
▪ Truly green public transport. People are getting excited about electric cars, but that won’t be enough to tackle climate change. The issue is not so much what fuels the cars, but who owns them.
For most of the last year in lockdown, my car has been on my drive, and I doubt I’ve driven more than 100 miles. It shouldn’t be that way.
We need excellent, reliable, green public transport that’s so inexpensive, most of us won’t want or need to own our own car anymore. Who’ll pay for that? To start with, those who insist on car ownership for private use only.
▪ Free higher education for all, and lifetime learning for everyone, subsidised by the businesses who need clever people to work for them. Education is an investment in the future and wealth of the whole nation and provides huge returns.
If Britain wants a world class workforce – and it does – then the government, not just businesses, needs to be an “Investor in People”.
▪ A massive investment in green farming across the UK. Our government must do much more to help our farmers to enable Britain to be more successful and sustainable in feeding its people.
▪ A new system of voting; proportional representation, that most countries in Europe have now adopted. Our current system of first-past-the-post means that governments get into power that most people have not voted for.
Most people did not vote for the Tories in the 2019 general election, and yet they achieved an 80-seat majority with only 1% more votes than they got in the 2017 general election, in which they lost their majority entirely. That cannot be right.
▪ The United Kingdom to be an equal partnership of its four members – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That’d mean the UK becomes a true union of four sovereign states (if that’s what they want) acting on a similar model to the EU’s 27 nations. It’s just not acceptable or sustainable for England to be superior to the other three.
▪ Closer relations with the EU, leading over time to negotiating and applying to rejoin. That will likely take some time, because the relationship has been so damaged. The first step could be to rejoin the Single Market.
▪ Subsidised fast internet broadband for everyone, paid for by the businesses who make billions out of us being on the internet, and whose business models simply couldn’t work without it.
So, these are some initial ideas, but of course they are not nearly enough.
The debate about what country we want Britain to be, and the polices to take us there, needs to take place years in advance of a general election, not just weeks before one takes place.
That means now. Yes, it’s urgent.
What ideas do you have that would set the nation on a new and better path to the one we’re now on?
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