Saturday, 8 April 2006

In circulation on the Left

In circulation on the Left, the crossover with the material in circulation on the Old Right being in itself an important point:

1. The conservation or restoration (as the overwhelming majority of Britons wishes) of such good things as national self-government (the only basis for international co-operation, and including the United Kingdom as greater than the sum of its parts), local variation, historical consciousness, family life, agriculture, manufacturing, small business, close-knit communities, law and order, civil liberties, academic standards, all forms of art, and mass political participation within a constitutional framework, all of which free market capitalism corrodes to nought;
2. The restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law, the use of this to restore Britain's historic fishing rights, the British adoption of a show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard, and the election of Britain's European Commissioner by the whole electorate from a shortlist of two submitted following a ballot of all MPs;
3. A much higher threshold for income tax (national median earnings) and corporation tax (the amount needed to pay every employee a minimum wage of half median male earnings per hour), with a flat rate thereafter, so that the working poor are taken out of tax, while genuinely middle-earners and small or medium-sized businesses pay far less than at present, because the richest individuals and the biggest corporations pay their fair share for the first time ever;
4. A unified benefits, pensions, student funding, and minimum wage system, so that no one's income falls below half national median earnings;
5. A one hundred per cent tax at source on all income from rent, with a Social Security payment to those thus taxed equal to national average earnings (or sufficient to maintain the legitimate activities of religious or educational institutions), as a step towards giving every household a base of real property from which to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State;
6. A permanently higher rate of corporation tax on the banks and the privatised utilities, with the money spent on reimbursing the employers' National Insurance contributions for workers aged 25 or under and 55 or over, and with strict regulation to ensure that no cost is passed on to workers, consumers, communities or the environment;
7. A ban on any company paying any employee more than ten times what it pays any other employee, with the whole public sector (including MPs and Ministers) functioning as one for this purpose, its median wage pegged permanently at the median wage in the private sector;
8. Every public limited company to have one non-executive director appointed by the Secretary of State for a fixed term equivalent to that of other directors, and responsible for protecting the interests of workers, small shareholders, consumers, communities and the environment;
9. Restoration of democratic political control over monetary policy;
10. The renationalisation of the railways, uniquely without compensation in view of the manner of thier privatisation, as the basis for a national network of public transport free at the point of use, including the reversal of bus route and (where possible) rail line closures going back to the 1950s;
11. Building on the statutory right of every worker to join a trade union and to have that trade union recognised for collective bargaining purposes by giving every trade unionist so recognised the statutory right to take industrial action in pursuit of a legitimate grievance, including strike action, and including solidarity action of a clearly secondary character (such as a work to rule in support of a strike) within a single industry or corporation;
12. Abolition of all remaining vestiges of Compulsory Competitive Tendering, of the capping of councils, and of the power of central government to rule local services ultra vires;
13. Continual exposure of the ruling class's pathological hatred of local government as in fact an undisguised hatred of people other than themselves, and as expressing itself in the ridiculous view that councils ought to be "commissioners rather than providers" of services, as if efficiency or accountability had somehow been increased by a village primary school's no longer even employing its own caretaker, or by giving private companies unconditional licenses to print public money in return for risk-free "investments" in, say, emptying the bins, or preparing school food, so that the sooner that this whole process of the last 25 years is halted and reversed, the better;
14. Local authorities to be able to set precepts on top of the flat-rate income tax and corporation tax outlined above, so that Council Tax and National Non-Domestic Rates could both be abolished;
15. No return to the 11-plus, working instead to overcome this country's crippling cultural division between arts and sciences, and between academic and technical education;
16. Defence and restoration of Special Needs Education, and total opposition to the idea of abolishing, or greatly reducing the responsibilities of, Local Education Authorities, not least since the real reason for wanting this is a desire to abolish counties, as would follow very rapidly on the abolition of LEAs, there being no comparable country in which anyone would ever even suggest abolishing whole tiers of local government, never mind in which such a thing might actually happen;
17. Freezing of prescription charges, and restoration of free eye and dental check-ups;
18. Repeal of the Civil Contingencies Act, no identity cards, and no control orders;
19. Repeal of existing erosions of trial by jury and of the right to silence, of existing reversals of the burden of proof, and of the Official Secrets Acts;
20. Police forces at least no larger than at present, and be subject to local democratic accountability, most obviously though Police Authorities;
21. Removal of all nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons from British soil and waters, and a total ban on the sale of arms abroad;
22. Removal of foreign forces from British soil and waters, and restoration of British overall control of our defence capability, with no more participation in "neoconservative" wars;
23. Strong defence (including the restoration where necessary) of Labour's trade union links as constituting the Party's grounding in the lives and practical concerns of millions of working people and their families throughout this country and beyond;
24. A powerful role for co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies and mutual building societies, including legislation to protect the remaining mutual building societies, and the implementation of the Co-operative Party's recent Manifesto other than in relation to foundation hospitals and European integration;
25. An undertaking to go to prison rather than carry an identity card, and likewise to go to prison rather than pay taxes for the sake of state funding of political parties, which would necessitate state involvement, no doubt through some ghastly commission of the ruling class, both in policy formulation and in candidate selection, which is why those who advocate such funding do so, since they expect that they or their mates will be appointed to such a commission, and will thus be able to dictate, even more than at present, both what may be discussed, and by whom, with no role for trade unions, i.e., no role for large numbers of working, tax-paying people and their families, the length and breadth of this country;
26. The introduction, by agreement among the parties, of a system whereby each constituency party submitted a shortlist of two potential parliamentary candidates to a binding ballot of all registered electors in that constituency, and each party at national level submitted a shortlist of two potential Leaders (i.e., putative Prime Ministers) to a binding ballot of all registered electors throughout the United Kingdom, not least because this would help to protect the First Past The Post electoral system at both national and (therefore) local level;
27. Everywhere to be covered by a Parish or Town Council, or an urban or suburban equivalent, with greatly increased powers and resources;
28. Total opposition to the further deregulation of drinking or gambling;
29. Election of the BBC Governors for a fixed term of five years from among those licence-payers in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and each of the nine English regions who are politically independent (sufficient to be eligible in principle for membership of the remuneration panels of local councils), with each licence-payer (including members of political parties) voting for one candidate, the top two per area being elected at the end, and the Chairman being appointed by the Secretary of State with the approval of the relevant Select Committee;
30. Britain at least ordinarily to use her UN Security Council seat to veto any proposal not approved by the majority of the world's elective democracies (other than those with permanent seats of their own), making her the true leader of the democratic world, in contrast to any country that might arrogate to itself such a title while acting out of selfishness rather than self-interest;
31. No one to be permitted to own or control more than one national daily newspaper, more than one national weekly newspaper, more than one television station (including any of the ITV regional stations), or interests in both sectors, a move which, if made at the start of a Parliament, would just be a fact of life by the time that another General Election came round;
32. The obscenely misnamed "Social Democrats, USA" (the main Shachtmanite faction, with close links to the Bush Administration, just as it had to the Reagan Administration) to be expelled from the Socialist International; and
33. The Henry Jackson Society to be proscribed within the Labour Party in the same way, and essentially on the same grounds, as was the Militant Tendency.

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