Welfare and pensions
Law and order
Civil liberties and personal freedom
Immigration and racism
EU, foreign affairs and defence
Government spending and fighting corruption
Enterprise and employment
Housing and planning
We are neither left- nor right-wing, we are a ‘Georgist’ party.
Put simply, the actions of the whole of society in general and government spending in particular create and sustain the rental value of land (and other monopoly privileges, such as patents or copyrights), so it is insane that most government spending is funded out of taxes on output and earnings.
These taxes act as a huge drag on the economy ('dead weight costs'), which would be bad enough (and causes inequality - dead weight costs cause unemployment). The fact that land values are heavily subsidised out of these taxes (and only lightly taxed themselves) creates even more inequality - wealth inequality, regional inequality and most of all, inter-generational inequality.
We would like to reverse all this, so the core of our manifesto is:
• Phase out taxes (tariffs) on the value of output (Value Added Tax) and super-taxes on employment income (National Insurance)
• Reduce and simplify taxes on personal incomes, business profits and productive capital,
• Fund government spending as far as possible out of annual taxes on land values (and other monopoly privileges); taxes on natural resources (oil, minerals, radio spectrum) and other user charges (fuel duty, road pricing).
• Replace the bulk of the welfare system and most tax reliefs with a non-taxable, non-conditional, and non-means-tested Universal Basic Income.
This will lead to a stronger economy, higher wages, less inequality (by levelling up, not levelling down), lower government and trade deficits, a healthier environment and will make housing affordable for all.
We also want a more socially liberal society with more personal choice, freedom and responsibility - and an end to surveillance, government propaganda and chronic over-regulation and nannying.
But enough with the lofty principles - far more important are our actual policies. None of these are set in stone, so please tell us where you think they could be improved!
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The key to our policies for social and economic revival is to significantly reduce the tax burden on the productive economy and private wealth and to collect more revenue from the rental value of land, which is national wealth i.e. Land Value Tax (for more detail see here).
Why do we focus on land? In a nutshell, land values can only arise if there is a stable society and they are boosted and sustained by government spending on public services. Public services cost money, so fairness demands that public services be funded out of taxes - or service charges - on land values. At present, public services are funded out of punitive taxes on the productive sector, leading to a constant flow of wealth (spending power) from workers and businesses to land owners (and mortgage lenders). This acts as a brake on the economy, leads to massive distortions and inequality.
Land is not the only source of unearned "rent" which is merely an appropriation of the value that the whole of society generates. There are plenty of other types of "rent" or government protected privileges which have a similar effect. There is a long, long list of these, but to give some examples:
- overpaid civil servants and government outsourcing at inflated prices,
- undervalued sell-offs of government assets,
- the right of private banks to 'print' money and the implicit subsidy of taxpayer-backed deposit guarantee
- barriers to competition like patents, licensing, overzealous occupational licensing
- broadcasting rights (exclusive use of naturally arising radio spectrum)
- airport landing slots
- mineral extraction rights
- minor examples are personalised number plates and taxi permits
There are different ways of eliminating these privileges, including compensating the public for them, or in some cases removing/streamlining them
We would of course retain specific taxes on pollution (such as fuel duty, which doubles up nicely as a road user charge). Air, like land, would be classified as a public resource.
The tax shift can be done in stages, over the course of five or ten years, the further we get and the faster we get there, the better.
1. UK site-only land rental values (i.e. the total rental value of all land and buildings minus the rental value of the buildings and improvements) are in the order of £250 billion a year, but only one-third of that is collected with existing taxes on the value of land and buildings (Council Tax, Business Rates, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Stamp Duty on shares, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Insurance Premium Tax, the ATED charge, the non-dom levy, the TV licence fee and various development and planning fees).
2. All these taxes have their own flaws and should be replaced - on a fiscally neutral basis - with a flat tax of one-third of the site-only rental value of all housing and business premises. The annual tax on an average house would work out at approximately 1% of its current potential selling price.
3. Please note - the total rental value of UK farmland is only about one or two per cent of the total rental value of residential and commercial land so is barely worth taxing - but farmland subsidies (a kind of negative LVT) should be phased out (saving the taxpayer around £4 billion a year). UK agriculture, as well as all other sectors, would nonetheless benefit immensely from the platform in its complete form.
4. The flat tax rate should be increased every year to at least 80% or 90% of site-only rental values (leaving a room for error in valuations) and other taxes (VAT, National Insurance and basic rate income tax) reduced accordingly. Even if rental values do not increase - and they would - this means that VAT and National Insurance could be completely phased out, with the balance of LVT used to reduce the basic rate of income tax (on incomes up to £50,000) and/or added to the welfare budget and paid out as a Citizen's Dividend to all UK resident British citizens
5. The shift to LVT and a Citizen's Dividend can be phased in so that a median household's LVT liability is always roughly equal and opposite to its Citizen's Dividend entitlement, so the tax and the benefit can be netted off at source to one small payment either way. This is a far better outcome than allowing landowners and banks to collect the rental value and for the welfare system and the bulk of government spending to be funded out of taxes on the productive economy - thus dividing citizens into three distinct classes: a) workers and taxpayers, who are pitted against b) welfare and pension claimants (in turn, the latter group of claimants despises the former), while c) the landowners and bankers quietly soak up all the unearned wealth.
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Welfare and pensions
We strongly believe in having a safety net. A society with too much inequality, however caused, will be an unstable one.
But the existing UK welfare system is hugely complicated and expensive to administer; is prone to fraud and error; discourages work and saving; subsidises homeowners and landlords; discourages people from staying in education; and is biased against the family. The Universal Credit system was supposed to address some of these issues and has failed miserably, it just replicates all the complications of the old system and introduces new ones of its own (payment delays and sanctions).
Old age pensions - we would simply pay every pensioner the normal full entitlement under the new rules (£160 a week) and scrap the contributory principle, the Pensions Credit and other age-related top-ups.
Working age cash benefits (not disability related) - we would roll these (employment and support allowance, income support, incapacity benefit, statutory maternity pay, carer's allowance, student grants or the corresponding elements of Universal Credit) and the tax-free personal allowance into a Citizen's Dividend. Every UK-resident British citizen would be be entitled to a flat-rate, non-means tested and non-taxable weekly amount (about £75 per week). The entitlement will be there whether somebody is out of work, working part-time or full-time, married or single, with or without children etc. Those in steady employment can convert it back into a personal allowance for PAYE purposes and those out of work or with irregular work can claim it as a regular cash payment - easing the transition into work and softening the blow of losing a job.
Disability related - the various existing disability payments (on top of those listed above) would be merged into a single benefit, to be assessed and paid out by the NHS/local GPs.
Children - we would merge Child Benefit and the Children's Tax Credits into a flat rate payment for each child.
Nursery places - we would merge the various overlapping systems (non-means tested Early Years Funding, Childcare element of Working Tax Credits, the three employer tax break schemes) with the choice of a flat, non-conditional weekly payment of about £80 OR a nursery place at a local primary school (the number of which should be increased).
Housing related benefits - in the longer term, we would phase out Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit and their successor benefits completely as they push up rents and lead to misallocation of housing. The Citizen's Dividend - and the availability of social housing - would be increased accordingly.
These measures would cost significantly less than all the various strands of the welfare and pensions systems and all the subsidies and rebates in the tax system - in particular tax breaks for pension savings, which are highly regressive. If there really has to be means testing, this can be done via the PAYE system (i.e. claimants pay an extra 20% income tax - it is surely unconscionable that welfare claimants lose over 80% of their earnings in means-testing and PAYE, twice as much as higher rate income tax!).
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Law and order
Crime is something that affects all age-groups, but young people are actually more likely to become victims of crime than other age groups, so we believe in law and order in the old-fashioned sense. This is far from saying we would approve of the government's authoritarian approach. We have reached a stage where the severity of the punishment is almost inversely proportional to the seriousness of the offence committed.
What is also worth noting is that the total cost of law and order (police, courts, prisons) is only about £20 billion a year, which is barely one percent of GDP. While this is money well spent, there is no question that we could achieve much better results.
Our current method of dealing with criminals neither acts as a deterrent, nor as an instrument for reform. There are few motivating factors to encourage reformation inside prison. This is because a recidivist criminal sentenced to a fixed period of time, will only see this as an extension of their way of life, that being outside of normal society. This turnstile policy have a cost in financial terms and sustains a criminal underclass excluded from the mainstream.
We propose a change of sentencing policy from units of time, to units of achievement. For example, instead of a twelve-month sentence, a twelve-unit tariff would be imposed. These units could be comprised of education, work, training, community help or anything that shows self-improvement. The main point being, there would be a tailored set program each prisoner would have to work through and complete before being released.
This would end the notion that time spent in prison is in any way an easy or somehow glamorous alternative to the routine of going out to work for a living. Secondly, many prisoners have received a poor education at school. This would be society’s best way of offering another chance. Thirdly, upon release former prisoners will be seen as having earned their freedom, be accorded with some respect and be seen as more employable.
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Civil liberties and personal freedom
The erosion of civil liberties has gone too far - and the fact that the current government seriously suggested stepping up monitoring of all internet activity is a worrying sign. Other ways in which civil liberties are being eroded is the extension of the limit on detention without charge; removing the right to trial by jury; and having more secret trials.
In particular, civil liberties are being eroded by punishing civil offences as criminal offences - for example copyright infringement (so called "illegal downloading") and squatting. While burglary is clearly a crime, as is occupying a house which is being renovated or is which is left empty for a few days until new tenants or new owners move in, it has always been English law (but not Scottish law) that if a building is left vacant long enough, other people have a right to use it and can, over time, acquire rights of occupation or actual legal ownership. Until and unless a proper system of land value taxation or National Domestic Rates is introduced, we see no reason why non-resident "property investors" who contribute nothing to the economy should enjoy such a high level of protection at the expense of the UK taxpayer.
Most deplorable of all is the fact that the UK government seems happy to hand over British citizens to the USA without trial and without evidence. We would reverse all of these moves, and if that means frostier relations with the USA, then so be it. On the other hand, we would have no qualms about deporting foreign criminals and terror suspects to their country of origin.
We note that a huge amount (between a third and a half) of 'acquisitive' crime is drugs-related; and the same proportion applies to police time spent on drugs-related offences and the number of prisoners convicted of drugs-related offences. Experience from other countries make it quite clear that simply legalising, regulating and taxing drugs - treating them the same as tobacco or alcohol - reduces or even eliminates most of the 'bads' associated with drugs, be that the cost and potential harm to the user; the gang culture; the drain on police resources; the burden on the prison system. Not only that, but stripped of its glamour, drug consumption has tended to fall slightly in those countries, and the tax generated and cost savings can be put towards proper education and treatment programmes.
We would extend legalisation, regulation and taxation to other activities which a majority might find distasteful - such as running brothels - but which are truly 'victimless crimes', there are simply more important things for the police to be doing.
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Immigration and racism
We have a fair few members who were born abroad, have worked abroad or whose spouse is from abroad and welcome everybody as members and supporters. Exactly where you, your parents or grandparents were born is completely irrelevant and all of us face the same basic problems, i.e. finding (or keeping) a job or starting a business; high rents and house prices; and the heavy burden of taxes on earned income.
The large parties try and triangulate between pandering to racists and enforcing political correctness, and use immigration and its flip side racism as a crude wedge to trick us into making false choices. For example, it is probably true that recent arrivals are given priority in the allocation of social housing; the BNP and UKIP then go off on a false trail and blame immigration for high house prices and rents. That is missing the point, the point is that there is not enough affordable housing in the first place and house prices would be far too high even in the absence of immigration.
Similarly, we have no grudge against the majority of people who come to the UK to work, it is clear that cheap labour from abroad is great for businesses or people who need nannies or work doing to their houses; but their gain is other young people's loss, it is yet another way in which wealth is transferred from the young to the middle aged and the already wealthy.
We would pull the rug from under the racists and speed up the integration and assimilation by simply reinstating the immigration policies we had before 1997 (whoever is already here legally is welcome to stay); reining in political correctness and clamping down on racism in e.g. the police (employers are racist too, but this cuts both ways). From there on in, we are just going to have to try to get along as best we can.
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EU, foreign affairs and defence
• Our members were split between Leave, Remain and 'don't care' in the 2016 referendum and YPP had no policy either way. Given the closeness of the result (52-48 is hardly a thumping majority) and having seen what a mess the UK government is making of negotiating a new deal, the best way forward is clearly re-joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), if they'll have us. This would allow the UK to determine its own trade policies and streamline or eliminate tariffs where it's fair to do so.
• Citizens from other EU Member States who already live in the UK are supporting themselves will be offered indefinite leave to remain and are welcome to apply for British citizenship under the normal rules. Tourists and paying students are welcome!
• Development and aid spending is provably ineffective, very little of the DFID budget reaches its intended target and ensures poor government of the recipient countries. Our approach is "trade not aid". We would scrap the target that the UK spends 0.7% of its GDP on aid and restrict our activities to very short term relief of humanitarian crises following wars or natural disasters.
• Since 1945, the British Isles have been under absolutely no threat of invasion whatsoever, and the Cold War ended two decades ago. But UK government have failed to accept either this or the fact that we are no longer a world power or that there is any advantage to us in pretending to be one. The government has got involved in all manner of foreign wars which were - with the possible exception of the Falklands War - of absolutely no benefit to us whatsoever. The most important line of defence is that against fundamentalist terrorism.
• We oppose British military intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere as a matter of principle. Such threat as exists from Islamic fundamentalism can only be countered by espionage and surveillance; and by exerting diplomatic and economic pressure in co-operation with other western nations. The military focus would be shifted to domestic priorities, and the spending can be made more efficient by multi-purposing the military (for scientific advancement, exploration, social cohesion, infrastructure, space research, land mapping, natural disasters, and alignment with education institutions).
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Government spending and fighting corruption
In the fifteen years between the recession of the early 1990s and financial crisis/recession of 2008, UK public sector current and investment spending ranged between 35% and 40% of GDP, or about £600 billion in today's prices. This level of spending (a large chunk of which is transfer payments and the cost of public services) is quite clearly enough to maintain a civilised, developed country.
Even at this level there was waste and over-spending, but it was within tolerable limits, and the national debt was also kept low (about 40% of GDP). In other words, young people and future generations were not being unduly burdened by the incumbents. During the financial crisis of 2008, the Labour government opened the spending tap and the Tories have only just started to close it again, eight years after they got into government (they appear to be spending less on services that matter and a lot more on wasteful projects - like HS2).
Most of the extra £100 billion a year deficit spending under the Tory government is waste or theft, pure and simple, only of benefit to Tory party donors and not society as a whole - rather mysteriously, the government could not find the £1 billion or so it would have to cost to maintain the £3,000 cap on university tuition fees while finding hundreds of billions to bail out banks. The government cannot find the money to build social housing, but it can find the money to inflate home builders' profits (Help to Buy).
We would make it a priority to cut back on all the non-essential spending and root out all the blatant theft and misuse of taxpayer money. The list thereof is almost endless and includes things like taxpayer funded pressure groups; private finance initiatives; the quangocracy; mis-procurement in the Ministry of Defence; government IT projects such as the NHS Spine; subsidies to wind farms, agriculture, home builders and so on.
While the excess bureaucracy must be cut completely for taxpayer savings, some capacity should be repurposed as a single, autonomous, lean, and independent, anti-corruption and anti-waste ministry to audit and expose the abuse of taxpayer funds. This has been a proven means of rooting out corruption in many countries worldwide. Without a clean and effective government, other policies are meaningless as they become ignored. Government can be further streamlined with Estonian-style e-government.
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Most of the solutions proposed by governments to prevent future financial crises are doomed to failure at worst and will achieve nothing at best (higher capital ratios; forcing banks to invest in 'safer' assets, i.e. government bonds; interfering in how bonuses are paid out), possibly deliberately so. A good start would be end the taxpayer-backed cheap loans and guarantees for banks, it appears that this is not even on the agenda. If the government wants to give people a safe place to put their cash, the obvious solution is to set up a 'National Savings Bank' which takes deposits and invests in government bonds.
The key to banking reform is to prevent them from creating credit and asset price bubbles in the first place. While no government can control everything, it can easily control the price of land, which is used as security for ninety per cent of bank lending. If you can prevent leveraged land price speculation (the proceeds of most land sales were deposited straight back in the bank, enabling banks to constantly double up) you are most of the way to preventing the next credit bubble-and-bust, financial crisis and ensuing recession. And any government can prevent land price bubbles by collecting revenues from the rental value of land instead of from investment, employment and output (which is the key part of our manifesto).
Above and beyond that, the whole area is highly technical. Some things which have been tried in the past, or which are currently in force in other countries, and which actually 'work' are:
- Banning inter-bank lending or investing (the Bank of England can be used as a clearing house for day to day transfers).
- Increasing the bank asset tax (from its current laughably low level of less than 0.1%) to something like 2%, which would force banks to concentrate on higher margin lending (loans to businesses and personal loans). During the height of the credit boom, banks were offering mortgages at slightly lower rates of interest than they paid on their highest paying deposit accounts - they simply wouldn't be able to do this with a 2% bank asset tax, as they would need a spread of at least 2% between lending and deposit rates. This tax also acts as a tax on rents with regards to seigniorage privileges.
- Debt-for-equity swaps. Only a small part of UK bank funding is from share capital, a third is bonds and the rest is deposits. If a bank hits difficulties, then some of its bonds would be converted automatically to share capital (i.e. bondholders would take part of the losses in exchange for getting part of the share capital) and this would have insulated ordinary depositors' money from ever being at risk; even with Northern Rock, no penny of depositors money was lost, the bulk of the losses were borne by bondholders - but it took the UK government three years to suss this out.
- More personal liability, preferably unlimited, for senior directors of the bank.
- If all else fails and depositors' money is lost, then depositors should be reimbursed directly and the bank allowed to fail. It seems idiotic to give the risky banks more money and tell them to behave in future, all in the name of 'protecting depositors'. Try applying this logic to Farepak!
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Enterprise and employment
The old parties falsely portray politics as a battle between 'capital' and 'labour' and each claims to be able to balance these interests better than the others (even though their policies are nigh on identical). There is of course no such battle, above and beyond the purely commercial dispute as to how the profits should be shared between employer and employees; or between investors and workforce. The same tension will always exist, just as they do between supplier and wholesaler and between retailer and consumer. To put it simply; workers need jobs and employers need employees; consumers need goods/services and businesses need consumers. By and large, the interests of all these groups are aligned and it is not up to the government to meddle, apart from clamping down on monopolistic practices.
According to HM Treasury estimates, the deadweight cost of income tax, corporation tax, National Insurance and Value Added Tax amount to fifteen percent of the size of the economy, in other words, our GDP is about £200 billion a year smaller than its potential. We would significantly reduce the tax burden on the productive economy. Any short term gains to any one group will soon be levelled out by new entrants to the market or by people changing jobs or spending preferences.
On top of the tax burden is the burden of regulations and red tape, which serve no purpose except to entrench the position of the large corporations by acting as a barrier to entry to small and growing businesses. It is no surprise that the largest corporations have the most lobbyists in Brussels and Whitehall, who then push through seemingly positive legislation - such as maternity rights or holiday entitlements for agency workers - which weighs far more heavily on small businesses and simply result in it being harder for young women or agency workers to find a job in the first place.
In summary, tinkering like this just makes things worse. When it comes down to it, the best guarantee of workers' rights is full employment, and the best guarantee of full employment is giving businesses the opportunity to create those jobs in the first place and making it easy for people to start their own business as an alternative to employment.
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Housing and planning
We would turn the clock back to the 1950s and 1960s, when house prices were low and stable and housing standards were rising rapidly, and take this to the next level. Houses were just somewhere to live, if you could afford somewhere nicer, then you bought it for the enjoyment value and not as an investment.
The bitter irony is that older generations - who benefited enormously from all this - pulled away the ladder in the early 1970s, when the level of owner-occupation first passed the fifty percent threshold. Since then, the prevailing trend has been NIMBYism; selling off council housing; lax lending and subsidised interest rates; significantly reducing taxes on residential property; and tearing up most tenant protection legislation. All in the name of Baby Boomers making unearned windfall paper gains in the house price game. Houses are no longer seen as somewhere to live, they are seen as investments which are expected to increase in value every year - this has ruined our savings culture, because those on the ladder dis-save by doing mortgage equity withdrawal and first time buyers are forced to take out huge mortgages which soak up all the income which they could otherwise have saved.
Worse still, politicians behave as if our whole economy depends on house prices going up and staying up - even though the net result of this is to funnel wealth out of the productive economy to the rent seeking sector (landowners and banks), and from young to middle-aged and old.
Newspapers like The Telegraph run a hysterical campaign against liberalisation of planning laws and perpetuate the myth that if there is any more construction, the whole of the countryside will be concreted over. This is arrant nonsense, of course, even if we built a quarter of a million new homes every year for a quarter of a century, this would not even use up one percent of the total area of farmland and green belt. With our platform in place, space would be used far more efficiently and there would be no vacant or underused lots in population centres.
Incentives can be put in place to encourage high quality construction and high architectural standards. Extra deductions for construction materials and for following architectural style guidelines set out by local or regional governments would ensure that buildings are once again built to last, and to maintain the architectural character of the communities they're in. Georgist philosophy maintains that physical space is the domain of the public, and this fits within the proposed system.
Finally, we oppose the sale of council housing. There will always be ten or twenty percent of the population who don't have enough regular income to pay rent or a mortgage in the private sector, for example pensioners and the disabled and we would divert money currently spent on Housing Benefit for private landlords into the construction of more council housing and improvements to council housing.
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Our largely taxpayer-funded state education system is not as bad as some people make out; and neither did it use to be as good as some people claim it was at some mythical point in the past. But clearly it could be better, and simply spending more money doesn’t seem to make much difference – education spending (in cash terms) has trebled in the last twenty years but there are few who would claim it is three times as good.
We believe that most children are willing to learn and that most parents have their children’s best interests at heart; also that teaching is most rewarding when people actually want to learn something. Everybody has their own idea about which is the best way forward: grammar schools, technical or vocational schools, ‘free schools’, City Academies; comprehensive schools; faith schools; selection, streaming and setting; reducing or increasing the school leaving age; co-ed or single sex; a voucher system and/or more private schools...
We would like to end top-down tinkering and gimmicks and have a completely mixed system where as many children as possible get into their (or their parents’) first choice kind of school - some will make the 'wrong' choice and some children will end up in the 'wrong' school, but the chances are that more people will choose what's right for them than under a one-size-fits-all approach.
All the local education authorities have to do is find out what there's demand for and then finance a sufficient number of each kind of school – whether that is grammar schools, technical schools or any other kind is not up to us (and there is absolutely no point in trying to force pupils to stay on at school after the age of 16, that is an individual choice).
This could easily be achieved with a quasi-voucher system; the funding should follow the pupil, and there is no reason why the vouchers can’t be used to part-fund a private school place. The non-means tested voucher system (‘Early Years Funding’) for pre-school nurseries is the sort of public-private mix which seems to work very well (although the nursery sector is busily raising administrative and practical barriers to entry, which should be dismantled).
One thing which few people admit about private education is that their results are not better because their teaching staff or even their pupil intake is inherently better; the point is that parents who are willing to sacrifice a chunk of their earnings are most likely to make sure their children do their homework and revise properly for exams; so what they are paying for is to have their own children in a school with other highly motivated children. So allowing schools to charge top-fees would tend to increase standards at no cost - or even a saving - to the taxpayer.
To prevent the vouchers from becoming a straight subsidy for established, very expensive private schools (who can whistle for their tax breaks), it would be easy to taper down the value of the vouchers by £1 for every £1 of top-up fees, so more expensive private schools would receive no net subsidy at all.
Our policy on university tuition fees, student loans, grants and accommodation is here.
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There is plenty of waste and overspend in the NHS, but all things considered, it's reasonably good value for money by international standards in terms of outcomes, life expectancy or cost as a share of GDP (less than half of US levels and slightly lower than continental levels). One real weakness of the NHS is that its separate parts are not synchronised properly, this would cost little to implement and would save money and improve the quality of care. Funding decent basic healthcare out of taxation is just a kind of low-cost mass insurance scheme - only a few people need expensive treatment each year, but far fewer would be able to afford to pay privately. Which seems fair enough - be glad if you never need it.
The largest easily identifiable areas of waste are all the nanny-state campaigns against smoking, drinking and eating certain kinds of food. Each individual faces certain specific risks - self-inflicted or otherwise - and there are far too many people who want to use the NHS to enforce their own world view, by opposing e.g. fertility treatment for lesbians; treatment for obesity or smoking-related diseases.
But why stop there? Why not oppose free treatment for people who got into a fight while drunk; or expensive hip and knee replacements for the very elderly; or treatment for active people who injure themselves doing pot-holing, paragliding or skiing? The fact is that most of these risks are mutually exclusive and cancel out - people who enjoy food and a sedentary lifestyle are unlikely to injure themselves pot holing or paragliding; the elderly are unlikely to get into drunken fights etc.
The NHS will always have a limited budget, so ultimately there has to be rationing. It's just a question of focusing spending on actual health needs of individuals and getting the basics right (hygiene and proper diagnosis) instead of pandering to the prejudices of the majority on any particular issue.
As to privatisation, the PFI model has turned out to be hugely flawed and hugely expensive - the taxpayer ended up bearing the risks and paying the costs and private businesses took all the profits. But there is no reason why we can't move towards the continental model of taxpayer funded vouchers and competing providers - where those providers provide the facilities and equipment at their own expense and risk, and patients are free to choose any clinic which will provide the required treatment for the same cost as the NHS can, and have it paid for by the NHS, with the possibility of paying top-ups out of their own pocket or private insurance.
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One of the few things which we should all be far more concerned about is the way that we are allowing our electricity generation capacity to wither on the vine. Coal fired power stations are more or less a thing of the past. Electricity is not an end in itself but vital to more or less every activity. Power shortages, power cuts and significant price increases are almost pre-programmed.
This is partly because UK governments have been blowing hot and cold for decades on whether to press ahead with allowing more nuclear capacity or not (the Fukushima reactor shows that even older model power stations can survive an earthquake and a tsunami without a full-scale meltdown, and the British Isles are prone to neither).
The UK government repeatedly announces with great fanfare that it intended to spend hundreds of billion over the next few years on 'greening our economy', which will add hundreds of pounds to every household's utility bills for little in return. Is this really the best use of our money?
The image of the nuclear power was poisoned from the start because of the clear government-driven link with the manufacture of material for nuclear weapons. Safety will always be a niggling concern, but all the economic tests show that France has got it right. Eighty per cent of their electricity is from a couple of dozen nuclear power stations which cost very little to run and don't pollute the air. If the UK adopted a concerted programme of building nuclear power stations at today's prices, the whole project would become self-financing after about ten years (i.e. the income earned by existing reactors would be sufficient to pay the entire cost of building new ones) and the maximum outlay in the intervening period would be a tenth of the £200 billion figure mentioned above.
Our North Sea gas is now running out and there is huge NIMBY opposition to open cast coal mining in this country (far cheaper and safer than underground mining, plus you get a free reservoir at the end of it), so whatever has to be done should have been started yesterday.
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We care about the environment in a very real sense. There are plenty of policies we support which make good sense for other reasons (economic reasons or because they simply make it a nicer country to live in). For example: intelligent town planning (the Scandinavian 'branches' model instead of densely packed cities with few green spaces ringed by commuter villages on the other side of the hallowed green belt); favouring public transport instead of cars in inner urban areas; recycling raw materials; hydro-electric, tidal and nuclear power generation; loft insulation; it's a long list - but things which make economic sense do not need subsidies. Fracking appears to make no economic sense, whatever the environmental arguments are.
These policies have sometimes been taken too far. Far; favouring public transport does not mean penalising or persecuting motorists, bus lanes have their advantages in inner urban areas but serve no purposes in outer urban areas or on trunk roads between towns, for example. We have to accept that while recycling is good, some household waste contains so little in the way of valuable raw materials it is better to simply send it to landfill (which gives the possibility of harvesting methane for electricity generation) or incinerating it (again, the heat can be used to generate electricity). As a matter of fact, the UK has so many disused quarries and mines that there is enough space to take all our rubbish for thousands of years: the Landfill Tax in itself is complete nonsense.
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We do not seek to persecute road users (be they bus passengers or car and lorry drivers) and would adopt various measures to make their life easier, such as raising speed limits on motorways (while reducing them in residential areas); scrapping 'Vehicle Excise Duty' (aka 'car tax' fka 'Road Fund Licence'); removing traffic lights or replacing them with roundabouts; charging foreign lorries for use of British roads; and scrapping toll charges as far as possible.
In practical terms, trains, trams and buses are ideally suited for commuter travel in urban areas, and there is a case for subsidising them (out of the extra taxes which higher land values generate), and most goods are delivered by lorry (few shops are conveniently sited next to a railway depot). We see no merit in trying to encourage or subsidise public transport where there is no demand for it or to try and 'encourage' people to transport goods by rail (how?). However, it should be noted that the extra revenues generated from the increase in land values around public transportation routes can make it self-funding, and can finance transport development where the market demands it.
As to air travel, in the short term, we have a fixed number of airports, running at close to capacity. People under flight paths don't like air travel; some oppose expansion in principle and others are relaxed or in favour. So let's just make the most of what we've got, which can be achieved quite simply by scrapping the per-passenger Air Passenger Duty (which encourages people to fly to the Netherlands or Paris before changing to a long haul flight) and auction off landing slots (like Land Value Tax for air space) to prevent airlines becoming a cartel. This would, for example, make it far more viable to fly directly from Heathrow to the Far East (the lack of such flights is what London businesses are complaining about).
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Some of our members go along with the scientific consensus and others see it as an excuse for governments and supra-national bodies to increase their powers, increase taxes and increase subsidies to favoured groups. YPP as a party has no strong view either way.
We favour policies which make sense anyway - such as reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels (for example by increasing fuel duty to encourage more efficient engines and minimise the number of cars on the road). If that reduces our C02 emissions it is a bonus. We are suspicious of all the measures imposed by the EU and UN which single out C02 as somehow the most dangerous pollutant of all with an almost religious fervour. These measures always seem to impose huge burdens on consumers and hasten the demise of our heavy industry, while benefiting a small group of favoured insiders - the asset strippers (selling off 'carbon permits' and shutting down steel plants), and of course the large landowners who can collect £100,000s in subsidies for installing a wind turbine.
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• We have no strong opinions either way on Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish devolution or independence.
• The 2014 Scottish referendum was an absolute travesty because the "No" campaign ended up bribing the Scottish electorate by rewriting the "No" option as a vague promise of "Devo Max", which is what the SNP wanted to have on the ballot paper in the first place.
However, we would like to see all four constituent nations being treated equally, which means devolving the same powers to each of four "assemblies" and then having some overarching national Parliament for things which the whole of the UK has to sign up for (e.g. foreign affairs, defence, immigration).
• Neither are we greatly concerned with reform of the House of Lords. Direct elections seems to be the fairest option.
• We are happy with the idea of a figurehead monarchy, but are opposed to the additional extra-constitutional rights which the Duke of Cornwall (i.e. the Prince of Wales i.e. Prince Charles) has which enables him to veto legislation which goes against his purely private interests, similarly, we would treat the Queen (or King as maybe) the same as any other landowner and subject her to tax accordingly on her private holdings (Crown Estates are actually government-owned, that's something different).
• We are opposed to taxpayer funding of political parties, as this will merely entrench the power of the established parties, and the experience of other countries which have such funding shows that rich party donors will still buy influence. Trying to introduce a 'cap' on donations will probably just lead to bodies such as the American Super-PACs being formed. One way of reducing the influence that large donors have over political parties and hence government policy (the Tories' largest donors are nearly all home builders) would be to make donors to pay into a central account with the Electoral Commission, which could vet donors and then pass on all donations as a single, entirely anonymous amount. The Electoral Commission should also investigate retrospective bribes - where former Cabinet ministers whose policies favoured certain businesses are suddenly given lucrative jobs by businesses - much more vigorously
• We do support a general move towards proportional representation at General Elections. Our preferred system is the multi-member constituency, such as is used for elections to the European Parliament and to the devolved assemblies. We would also prefer fixed term parliaments, but this is low on our list of priorities.
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