Our general principles are based on our belief that there should be "no rights without responsibilities."
Our specific policies are covered on the policies page.
Better than the best
Sometimes our level of ignorance about the rest of the world is second only to the USA.
Every country faces the same problems and opportunities as we do and some of them make a much better job of looking after their citizens than we do.
As an island country we are very insular in our view of the world - we assume that our way is the right and best way.
To some extent we are kept in ignorance by our media - which is obsessed with the USA. We may know when an earthquake strikes or a terrorist atrocity occurs, but we don't hear much about how other countries manage their health, education, justice and other services.
Best or worst?
In comparison to the major countries in Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Italy):
- our reliance of finance and services means we have been the hardest hit economically by the Covid pandemic. We are the worst..
The Conservatives will use this to justify yet more austerity - yet it has been their failures, and the failures of their financial paymasters, that have created this imbalanced economy. (The Blair/Brown governments, with their pandering to the City and big business, must also carry some responsibility.)
- we have the lowest number of hospital beds per head of population. We are the worst.
- we have the highest obesity rates. We are the worst.
- we have the lowest cancer survival rates. We are the worst.
- of state pension schemes the UK state pension contributes the lowest percentage of income after retirement. We are the worst.
- in terms of disposal income we are the most unequal. We are the worst.
- we lock up more people in proportion to our population. We are the worst.
We are either the most criminal and badly behaved people in Europe or something is wrong that drives people to crime. Being the country that first industrialised, and being the most unequal society in Europe, may go some way way to explaining it.
Always looking to the USA may not be a good idea. For example:
- over 25 million Americans have no health protection.
- over 25% of Americans have no retirement savings or pensions at all.
- In absolute numbers (2,121,600) and in proportion to its population, the USA locks up more people than any other country on Earth.
- The USA has the highest level of gun ownership in the world, three times higher than the next highest, Serbia.
Why are Americans so afraid of their fellow Americans?
We have one of the lowest levels of gun ownership.
- The USA has almost the highest level of gun crime in the world - beaten only by Colombia and a couple more.
Why do Americans kill their fellow Americans so often?
We have one of the lowest levels of gun crime.
- "The UK ranks among the most unequal nations in Europe, but is more equal than the US, the most divided wealthy nation in the world." (Ref.)
Is this the way we want to go? Is this the country we want to be compared with?
We don't have a monopoly on good ideas or the best way of running things. We must always look outwards and learn from the best - in fact, we must be better than the best.
(Logically you can't be "better than the best" because that makes you the best. We could have said "best of the best" but that is also illogical. We are a logical and rational party but are we sticking with "better than the best".)
Each of us is responsible for what we do and what we say - we can't delegate that responsibility to anyone else.
We don't live in an anarchic state where individuals are free to do anything without considering the social consequences. Humans are social animals, we live in a society, we can't function without one another and we rely on one another every day for our basic human needs, the services we use and the products we buy.
Our personal social responsibilities include:
- contributing positively to society to the best of our ability. Some will be able to contribute more, some less, and our actions will be judged by how far they benefit society as a whole.
- considering others as well as ourselves - this is what makes naked, personal greed such an unpleasant preoccupation.
Have you noticed how the richer people get, the greedier they become - and the less willing they are to face up to their social responsibilities? The first thing they do is put their money into a tax haven, the next thing is to live in Monaco or Switzerland to avoid paying tax. Greed turns many nice people into unpleasant people.
Even people we admire, like David and Victoria Beckham, people who have come from "normal" backgrounds and done really well for themselves through their own efforts, even they become greedy and fall for the tax avoidance schemes dreamed up by their parasitic financial advisors. (We say "parasitic" because "financial advisors" at this level do nothing for free - they are on a percentage - the more tax they can avoid, the more cash they can take.) David and Victoria are decent people - they didn't need to do this - not a good example for their kids.
- helping those who, for whatever reasons, are unable to look after themselves. This may be by way of additional taxation to fund state services, by contributions to charity or by volunteering to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
There will always be those who fail to contribute positively, in fact, they may contribute negatively, so we need a system of agreed laws (as few as possible), a system of law enforcement, a system of deterrents and, ultimately, a system of punishment.
The UK locks up more people than any other country in Europe. Does that makes us a nation of criminals or do people take to crime because of the glaringly unequal society we have created? A person with no self respect, with no decent income and possibly from an abusive background, may well turn to antisocial behaviour and crime. So, do we treat only the symptom or do we also identify and treat the cause?
By fulfilling our social responsibilities we, as individuals, gain certain rights - but only if we fulfil our social responsibilities:
- The right to do as we wish - as long as we cause no physical, mental, emotional or economic harm to others and as long as we cause no physical or economic harm to the environment.
- The right to privacy - the state has no right to interfere in our private lives or to dictate how we live.
Everyone should be free to post material and opinions on social media without fear of abuse. As on any other medium, we are responsible for what we write. We will therefore consult on the removal of anonymity from social media.
- The right to earn a living and to be treated fairly whether we are self-employed, employers or employees.
- The right to be fairly rewarded for our inventions, initiatives, enterprise, creativity and labour.
- The right for our families to be safe and secure.
- The right to shelter, food and warmth. Obviously most of us pay for these things from our earnings but we are all responsible for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to cover their costs.
- The right to a decent infrastructure for use by us all: roads, rail, air, sea, electricity, gas, water, postal service, land & mobile telephone network and the Internet.
- The right to a health service free at the point of delivery and available to all.
- The right to a decent education for our children.
- The right to decent life in our old age.
- The right to religious or non-religious belief. Please see the Religion in a multi-cultural society page.
The State and the Government
Our country has often failed to learn from the past and it has repeated the same mistakes time after time. We make no apology for looking at history and learning from it - after all, our history defines who we are as individuals and as a country.
The role of government
We are citizens and the government is our servant - we are not its subjects!
There is no such thing as "government money" because governments rely on our good will to provide the funding necessary for the social good. Handling money created by the labour of others requires a responsible and accountable government - a lesson the Conservative and Labour parties have yet to learn.
The role of government is:
- to do what is necessary to ensure that we have the rights outlined above - and that includes the system of law and order.
- to create a fair and just society to which each of us can contribute in terms of invention, initiative, enterprise, creativity and labour.
- to establish the fairest way to pay for those things we need as a society. Put simply, we believe that those who have most, should contribute most - that seems fair to us.
The "state" is our country and its government. At the moment it is a union of Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England - but that may change. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland already have devolved government on certain matters and the people of Scotland will probably vote for full independence the next time they are asked. We will be sorry to see this - but we have only the Conservative and Labour Parties, based in London, to blame for it.
Actually we can also blame the highland clearances from the mid 18th to mid 19th centuries as rich absentee English landowners cleared people from the land in favour of sheep, deer and grouse. Mass emigration and unemployment led to many Scots becoming cannon fodder for the British Empire and, not surprisingly, they have a long memory.
Governments come and go, they are temporary things, "here today, gone tomorrow".
Each new Prime Minister is determined to "make a mark", usually with a war somewhere in the world, and each wants to retire to a life of rich pickings from a book deal and "the speaker circuit". Some of us are old enough to look back on many different governments, Tory and Labour, and, to be honest, what we see is not inspiring. Between them these governments have created the greatest inequalities in our society since before the first world war and, apart from the introduction of the welfare state and the NHS in 1948, there has been some tinkering around the edges but not a lot to be proud of.
Private v public
We are in favour of a mixed economy with a fair balance between the private and public sectors. There are some things the private sector does best: innovation, invention, manufacturing, retail, speed to market, etc; and there others the public sector does best - delivering public services.
For decades the Tories and Labour have argued about what should be done by the two sectors and how far private, "for profit", companies should be involved in delivering public services.
The private sector is accountable only to its shareholders. The public sector is accountable to us all through national and local elections.
Private companies have a huge advantage - they can go broke. They can throw their hands in the air and walk away (often after paying millions to senior managers!), leaving us to pick up the bill through our taxes - over £150 million in the case of Carillion.
It is not only large companies with contracts in the public sector who can fail and leave us to pick up the bill, it is also bloody-minded Councils determined to put all public services into private hands. The Tory run Northamptonshire Council effectively went bankrupt in 2018 and had to be bailed out by national taxpayers. The report into the Council's activities was damning - and it was abolished.
There are lazy and inefficient people in the public and private sectors, equally there are highly efficient and effective people in both. There are well-run prisons in the public and private sectors and there are badly run prisons in both.
The Conservatives seem to believe "private good, public bad" and their appalling handling of the Covid pandemic shows how, out of bloody mindedness, they failed to use the skills of the local public sector where people on the ground were best placed to determine what was required. They were happy to give multi-million pound contracts to their friends and to pay £6,000 a day to individuals as "consultants".
There is no justification for giving a monopoly to the private sector - that's just lining the pockets of your friends.
There is no justification for allowing foreign governments to own key sections of our national infrastructure. If it's OK for foreign governments to own it, and take dividends from it, why don't we own it ourselves?