Why should we be beggars with a ballot in our hand?

by Elias Blum

Dear political parties,

If you want my vote, here’s what you have to do:

(1) Absolutely reject the neo-liberal agenda of ‘cut, deregulate, privatise, outsource’.

(2) Be willing to shift tax burdens from the poor and middle class to the rich.

(3) Be determined to regulate banks, big businesses, and international trade, in order to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

(4) Be committed to quality universal healthcare, education and public services.

(5) Reform the welfare system so that it provides a realistic safety net for everyone (not just a trap, keeping people in a no-pay/low-pay underclass).

(6) Take ‘post-growth’ issues seriously: make environmentalism, sustainability, and quality of life, central to every aspect of policy.

(7) Recognise the importance of family and traditional social values to the common good of society, while being moderate and pragmatic on questions like same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, etc.

(8) Understand localism, subsidiarity and the importance of the ‘human scale’ – including the importance of locally owned businesses and co-operatives to the economic vitality of our communities.

(9) Make a serious commitment to real democratisation and fundamental constitutional reform – starting with the adoption of a modern written Constitution, restriction of the Crown prerogatives, electoral reform, replacement of the House of Lords, more scope for direct and participatory democracy, etc. Restore civil liberties,  bring the out-of-control ‘surveillance state’ to heel, and be generally less paranoid and distrustful of one’s own citizens.

(10) I don’t mind if you are pro-Scottish independence or for maintaining the UK, but if the UK is to be maintained, it must be reconstituted in a way that recognises the sovereignty and autonomy of Scotland within it – as an equal partner, not subordinate province.

(11) Oppose war and imperialism. Get rid of Trident. Adopt a more ethical foreign policy that puts human rights, and the mitigation and avoidance of human suffering, above great power status.

(12) Finally, have a commitment to actually getting things done. There should be a workable, costed, thought-through programme for government, not just slogans and childish posturing. Avoid all cults of personality.

I don’t think I’m alone. This is what we in the centre-left of politics (and, I believe, the majority of the people, even if they wouldn’t necessarily put it in these terms) are yearning for. It is the sort of platform that might provide a viable and acceptable alternative to the Evil Wicked Tories.