So. We’re having an election.
What does any sane person do when we’re having a general election? Consider running of course.
Nothing will come of this crazy master plan but who does it hurt to write a manifesto? And hey, if nothing else, when my great great great grandchildren are researching their family tree maybe they’ll be interested in the opinions of an insignificant ancestor. So here it is. My plan to change the world.
Here are a few issues I have ‘little’ opinions on.
We need a proper grown up, no fighting discussion about the NHS future; what we want and what we can actually afford. Ever since the NHS was introduced in the 1960s we have been taking more and more advantage of it. Before it was free, people didn’t run to the doctor for every sneeze. We had family remedies for colds and kept our money for serious need. We need to get back to that. We need people to think twice before ringing the doctor when our head hurts. Let’s let the GPS and hospitals concentrate on curing diseases or keeping patients comfortable. I don’t know about you but if there’s limited money, I’d rather spend it if I break a bone or develop cancer.
We need to stop constantly going on about flooding the NHS with more money because let’s be clear: even if we had £350 million a day (which everyone agrees we don’t) to give to the NHS, it wouldn’t go on nurses, doctors, beds and drugs. It would go on managers, lawyers, compensation claims and drug companies.
The NHS needs more money if it is to survive, in any guise. I agree. But let’s spend the money wisely. Let’s talk about the actual features we want to save. I don’t have all the answers, anyone honest and intelligent will admit to that. Im open to sensible suggestions but personally I think we need to spend the money on the frontline. That means better education in schools and the community in everyday remedies such as paracetamol, and recognising common symptoms like the difference between the death of a virus resulting in a viral rash and a deadly mengititus rash. Things that we used to know but have forgotten due to our reliance on the NHS. We need to better upskill and prepare pharmacies and educate folk in why it’s perfectly OK to accept a pharmacist’s opinion. And here’s the controversial bit: we may need to start charging for GPs and A&E time. Means tested and not prohibitive but something that make you think “is it worth it?”. It could even be refundable if the cause is something that needs ongoing treatment. I don’t know about you but I’d spend £50 if my child was very ill with tonsillitis requiring antibiotics if it meant I could get an quicker appointment and, sure, I’d probably stay at home and raise my foot higher than my head if I sprained my ankle.
Ok, another super controversial topic. So let’s get it out of the way. Immigration doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Immigration is not a bad thing. Look around you; immigrants are making your life possible. The fruit you’re eating: immigrants are picking those for you; the hospital you use regularly: it couldn’t run without immigrants, from consultants to cleaners. The problem isn’t the immigrants, it’s the system behind us all. There aren’t enough houses and the NHS can’t cope with the extra patients. So let’s stop blaming the immigrants and fix the problems. Hey, here’s an idea: let’s use the immigrants to help us fix the problems. That solution requires a two-fold approach.
1. The immigrants have to come here to work. They have to be able to speak English so that means they either learn before they get here or there are free English classes at every school, college and workplace. Sure, let’s make those two things entry requirements, but let’s also help them to stay working and contributing. Let’s give free English lessons to their family who accompany them so they can also contribute to society. And let’s make some benefits only accessible after a certain amount of tax paid in. And contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think even most of the immigrants would begrudge that.
2. We welcome foreigners and integrate them into Britain so they feel a connection to us and want to make it work as much as we do. In WW2 British people who lived in the country welcomed, sheltered and looked after British refugee children from the cities. Why can’t we do the same now? Except the refugees are not always children, and are not British. Isnt the principle the same? Human kindness? Doing onto others as you would want done to you? Instead of shrouding immigrants and refugees in fear and mistrust so that they have no choice but to act as they are being treated; let’s integrate them into our society. Hell, let’s use them for our own benefit if it makes you feel any better. Let’s get them volunteering in our churches, schools and community projects. For every immigrant and refugee family, let’s partner them with a local family who can show them the local area, where to get food, how to find an English class, who to call if your pipe bursts and sure, if you feel inclined: invite to your house once in a while for a cup of tea or a Sunday dinner. Take two families: treat one as we are now, and one as I’m suggesting and in three months tell me who is more British, better integrated, better value to Britain and who is a drain on our resources, who is the potential terrorist and someone you want ‘sent home’.
We have a lot of problems in our country. One of which is unemployment. Another is overcrowding. Have you ever been to the Welsh valleys? There is so much space. There are many empty houses. No one wants to live there because there are no jobs. All the jobs are elsewhere because no one lives in the valleys. It’s chicken and egg. And sure it’s slightly over simplifying the solution but a good start would be better transport links. I work for a supported employment charity. I’ve spoken to many parents in the school playgrounds. There’s a new class divide: those who can drive and those who can’t. We need to eliminate it. We’re a small country. The fact that we can’t get from A to B without a car is totally ridiculous. We need better transport links. I’d go as far as to say that it’s essential to the future of this country. Labour will tell you we need to re-nationalise the railways. I disagree. We certainly need to remove profit makers and shareholders but we certainly do NOT need to reintroduce bureaucracy, red tape and waste. We need a third way. Luckily there is a third way. It’s called the third sector. It works in a lot of areas already. Councils are already outsourcing leisure centres and libraries quietly, without protest and successfully. It could work in a similar way. Yes we need a bucket load more investment but let’s give it to people who know how to get 101p out of every £1 and in my experience only the third sector know how to do that.
Initially I was going vote leave but as always I was hungry for information so did a bit of reading and was convinced to actually vote Remain so I think I’m in a pretty good position to see both sides of the story. Mainly I just hate the sound of the word. “Brexit” it doesn’t actually mean anything; some Tabloid reporter is cursing that he didn’t trademark the name and make himself (or in the interests of equality: herself) a fortune from the use of the word. The roots of the word are the very essence of what’s wrong with the world but hey, that’s already enough rant about that.
Right now my opinion is: we had a democratic referendum, let’s get on with it. Sure democracy means those who don’t agree are perfectly entitled to peacefully protest and, when the opportunity arises, to vote accordingly. But until we have another democratic vote to do otherwise, we are leaving the EU. But please, let’s leave it to the ‘experts’ for a little while. Even the best, most capable, experienced negotiator couldn’t possibly get the best deal with this constant scrunity. If we second guess every word, move or facial expression we’ll be doing the work of the EU for them. Negotiations are like poker: who blinks first loses. We need to be behind our player and be quiet. Yes, the time will come that we can rip our players to shreds and tell them they didn’t do us any favours and that the deal is worthless and go back and sort it out. But that time is not now.
Our current way of laws and voting and rule making is outdated and of a time when we thought those who had more money than us were better than us. I think we know differently now. Surely the current problem with the Labour Party is a sign of our times. Whether you vote Conservative or not, we all agree the ruling party needs a dissenting voice to keep them in check. Otherwise you end up with what we have now: a one party system that is so sure of its majority it calls a snap General Election. This isn’t democracy. Not democracy
I don’t want UKIP or BNP in power, but I also want the smaller parties and independents (like me!) to have more of a chance, more of a voice. The only way that’s going to happen is with Proportional Represntation.
I also think we need to get shot of the House of Lords. A house full of rich people out of touch with reality who mostly can’t even be bothered to stay awake. That just makes us a laughing stock of the world. We need rid. But the point of it: to be an extra check, we need that. Right now, with no real opposition, we need THAT more than ever. So we need something else. So what about a jury style system? Something that you are drafted onto for a period, so everyone gets a turn, everyone gets a voice. What’s a better check that a jury of your peers? Because if there’s one thing ‘peers’ are not is your ‘peers’.
I have been a parent governor for about ten years, and let me tell you something: my eyes have been opened. Teachers’ jobs are hard. The amount of things teachers have to know, have to take into consideration in any one class is amazing. It’s not just standing up and shouting at thirty kids. It’s tiring. It’s constant. It’s admirable. It’s impressive. It’s worthwhile. But so are most jobs nowadays. I have worked in the private sector and that too is constant and tiring and all the other words I just used. And I’m sorry but you’ll never ever convince me that teachers deserve the ten or twelve or whatever number weeks holiday they get.
Kids need a lot of holidays from the constant education I agreee. Teachers deserve a bit of extra time off, ok. But let’s get serious, they do not need inset training days as well. Instead let’s take some of the holiday time off the teachers and use it instead for training days. Sure we’ll probably have to pay the teachers a bit extra to compensate, but the economy will benefit from less lost time off by parents.
Hey, why don’t we go all out and give the school year to the schools, which they can use as they think best suits the children and staff. And that will mean we don’t have the term time/ school holiday debate because every school will have different holidays. Some of the private, independent schools are already doing something along these lines to great success.
So there we have it: a few of my thoughts on some themes of the day. If you’ve read this far, leave me a comment (only constructive criticism or all out endorsement please). Any other areas you’d be interested in my thoughts on? Because what else are blogs for but to put forth your manifesto for ruling the world?