Some thoughts…

As we head to the election; sometime around May 2010; prepare to be blitzed with a ton of ideas from our elected and aspiring leaders …

Here’s a few they might like to consider:

Afghanistan

Leave. Set a departure date for 6 – 12 months from now and stick to it – regardless of the prevailing conditions. They don’t want us there, it’s a tribal and unmanageable mess that is riddled with self serving factions. Being there does not improve our security.

Stop pandering to America

They are an ally and a good friend, but that’s it. America will always do what suits itself  (why wouldn’t they?), and will always be ‘them‘, if we are looking for somewhere we belong: Europe is ‘us‘.
The UK can not survive the 21st century as an independent power and our best hope lies within a united Europe; the more we participate, the more we shape what Europe looks like. Standing on the outside throwing stones and downgrading UK citizens rights is not a sensible approach.

Military

Focus military expenditure where future security threats will probably lie, and align spending with European partners. We can not afford large, foreign interventions. Reduce strategic nuclear defense to absolute viable minimum; the whole point is that it will never be used – so minimum cost only, do not replace Trident.

Drugs Policy

De criminalise all drugs with immediate effect and take control of the supply chain. Prohibition has never worked, the drugs trade is fueling a high level of crime (at all levels), and allows criminals to make profits on an almost unimaginable scale. Denial is no longer an option.
At 2006 prices: £325 of cocaine from source, retails at £51,850 on the UK streets – how do I know this? HM Government report – details here (actually, this is a fascinating report and deserves to be read by anyone interested in how this stuff gets grown, made and distributed).
In the same year, the total value of the business was estimated at £4.645 billion – which makes it one of the biggest, if not THE biggest business in the country.
Portugal de criminalised drugs in 2001 and it seems to have worked – details here.

National Service

Introduce some sort of national service – this really is going to make me sound like an old fart…
An estimated 20% of the population put nothing back, the proportion is higher amongst the under 25s and one of the effects of the recession will be to make this worse, and last for longer than in recent decades.
A high proportion of disaffected and unengaged youth will do nothing for society as a whole, so some sort of program is required; introduce society based work schemes and make any social payments conditional upon attendance.

Health service

Continue investment programs and make targets easier to understand – simplify and reduce bureaucracy.

Education

Same as above.

Energy

Invest in renewable energies urgently; with the target of full self sufficiency. It will have to be topped up with nuclear – so get on with it.

Immigration

Points based system, incorporating investors, sponsorships and relationships. No state benefits for 5 years and then only on proof of contribution for qualifying period. Humanitarian exceptions to the rules.

Tax and benefit

More closely align the systems. Make it easier for benefit recipients to start work without financial loss. Require benefit recipients to do some social work – as per suggestion above. Remove benefits and rebates from high earners.

and finally…

make Ryanair stop charging a transaction fee for each flight…

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