Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Plan

Tomorrow will see the launch of a new book called "The Plan: Twelve months to renew Britain" by Dan Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP. The general thesis of the book is that in order to sort out at the country we do not need a government that promises to do the same sorts of things as now, but more competently. Instead, what is needed is a "revolution". According to Hannan this means,
a wholesale shift in power from the state to the citizen, from Whitehall to elected councillors, from Brussels to Westminster"
The book outlines what steps need to be taken by a Tory administration and has been written with the input from former parliamentary clerks and sets out the 30 - motions, orders in council or Bills - that would be needed to bring this agenda to fruition within just one year. Some of the ideas within the book include:

  • Scrapping all MPs' expenses except those relating to running an office
  • and travel from the constituency
  • Selecting candidates through open primaries
  • Local and national referendums
  • "People's Bills", to be placed before Parliament if they attract a certain number of signatures
  • Placing the police under locally elected Sheriffs, who would also set local sentencing guidelines
  • Appointing heads of quangos, senior judges and ambassadors through open parliamentary hearings rather than prime ministerial patronage
  • Devolving to English counties and cities all the powers which were devolved to Edinburgh under the 1998 Scotland Act
  • Placing Social security, too, under local authorities
  • Making councils self-financing by scrapping VAT and replacing it with a Local Sales Tax
  • Allowing people to pay their contributions into personal healthcare accounts, with a mandatory insurance component
  • Letting parents opt out of their Local Education Authority, carrying to any school the financial entitlement that would have been spent on their child
  • Replacing EU membership with a Swiss-style bilateral free trade accord
  • Requiring all foreign treaties to be re-ratified annually by Parliament
  • Scrapping the Human Rights Act and guaranteeing parliamentary legislation against judicial activism
  • A "Great Repeal Bill" to annul unnecessary and burdensome laws
The book also argues that the Internet has changed everything except politics. That political parties have tried to shoehorn the Internet as a tool into their traditional models rather than understanding how the Internet disintermediates poltics.

To put it starkly, the political party as an organism – a complex structure bringing together local branches, clubs, activists and sympathetic newspapers, professions, trade unions, churches and pressure groups – is dying. The modern political party will be protean: a series of ad hoc, issue-by-issue coalitions. To put it even more starkly, the distinction between political parties, newspapers and pressure groups is blurring.
The political party that realises and "gets" the above will be the one that starts to do so called "digital politics" in Britain correctly. You can buy the book here and I am not on commission or a retainer.


Anonymous said...

Sounds tedious.

Croydonian said...

Yes please.

Tony said...

The item in that list that scares the living shit out of me is: "Placing the police under locally elected Sheriffs, who would also set local sentencing guidelines" this would create a mess of confusion and populist judicial policy. One of the few things the current government is doing which I support are the moves to give the judiciary more independence from day to day political interference. Of course in recent times they have lost momentum on this while they throw bodily fluids at each other like a bunch of caged monkeys.

Anonymous said...

"a wholesale shift in power from the state to the citizen, from Whitehall to elected councillors" - Must one point out that transferring power from London to more local officials does not in any way shift power from the state to the citizen, merely within the political class? God help us if people fail to understand that.

Some good ideas here, but I really don't trust people around me to make decisions affecting me, whether voting for local officials or national polticians. Have you met "the people"? They are poorly educated, vulgar, short-sighted and generally irrational.

Unusually (it seems), I trust the judges far more than Parliament - the judges tend to decide matters rationally and one can engage with them in argument where the rules are generally quite clear and a simple recourse to assertions of "the people's will" is not a trump card.

Doubtless I shall be against the wall when the revolution comes...

Anonymous said...

Most of these policy ideas look very familiar...

Maybe it's time for Messrs Hannan and Carswell to jump ship to a party that actually believes in these sort of sensible reforms?

IanPJ said...

This plan has been published for some time, as the Libertarian Party manifesto.

They Say Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery. We know it will work, so its quite a complement to see such political heavyweights borrowing it as their own work.


Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the LPUK, if these policies start to gain an intellectual foothold within the Conservative Party then they actually have a chance of being enacted. And as far as I'm concerned, that's more important than 'who thought of it first' or 'I hate them Tories'.

Anonymous said...

A lot of those proposals sound like sheer lunacy. People's Bills?? The POLICE to set sentencing guidelines?? And imagine the cost of letting people opt out of their LEA - does that include the 7% of people already at private schools? Replacing EU membership (with anything) in LESS THAN ONE YEAR?? Perhaps my fears would be assuaged if I actually read the book but you're really not selling it to me.

Anonymous said...

The item in that list that scares the living shit out of me is: "Placing the police under locally elected Sheriffs,

Presumably because the current system of placing diversity targets as top priority and tackling dangerous criminals who put their rubbish out too early, rather than punishing poor benighted souls, whose exclusion from society has led to them butchering their fellow man, is completely ok as far as you are concerned?

If you want a two word summation of the complete bollocks state of the current system......

Ian Blair

He is the logical result of a police force that works for the politicians, rather than the people.

dizzy said...

"The POLICE to set sentencing guidelines?? "

It doesn't say that

Guthrum said...

Hmmm- All good Libertarian stuff- therefore will not be adopted by the centre left Tory party ' who believe it is their turn to have a drive'

Anonymous said...

A lot of good ideas. How about, a HUGE Army, Navy and Air Force, too?

Heresiarch said...

It was a pleasant dream. And then I woke up and discovered that I wasn't the emperor of China after all.

Tony said...

> Serf

Are you suggesting a "locally elected Sheriff" wouldn't be a politician? Wouldn't go through publicity based decision cycles as re-election neared?
Your example of "tackling dangerous criminals who put their rubbish out too early" is precisely why we should be care about making control of law and order too local, those sort of 'offences' are council driven. As much as I hate to agree with anything that made it in a lib dem speech, scrapping big ugly central projects like the ID card and associated identity database and using the money to have more real police rather than hat loads of CSOs is a much better idea for reducing crime. Similarly don't spend money on speed cameras have traffic cops who use common sense to deal with the dangerous not the merely a bit fast.
As for diversity targets, targets and league tables don't solve anything and have buggered education and the NHS as well as the police. But on the other hand I would like all police officers to have *some* idea about diversity and racism issues as they haven't collectively been very strong on this in the past.