Here I will attempt to explain my theses on a progressive, post-conflict, trans-scarcity society. I will try to do this within the framework of the existing 12 departments and I’ll try to do this as things come to me. I’m happy to be engaged in debate on any point; I’d rather be corrected than not.
This would be close to my personal manifesto. It is also a living document as you can see from the comments. There may be areas which cannot be implemented without a complete change of government. There are areas which it just needs a change of mind. Also: avoid the assumption that we cannot afford this.
Many political parties keep their cards close to their chest. Sinn Fein don’t give out their grand plan for the unification because they don’t want their political enemies picking holes in it. I hear the same about others. In my opinion, memes don’t spread if you keep them in your head. So, seed the world with progressive thoughts that can be stolen by all and sundry. What if our plans were leaked and someone else made a better world for everyone?
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
- Farm payments to have an additional condition on the provision of space for community allotments.
- Investment in consolidation of renewables generation to reduce long-term energy costs.
CULTURE, ARTS AND LEISURE
- Recognition that sport is not the only constructive recreational activity. Leisure centres for the mind as well as the body.
- Arts venues, museums to become non-free to means-tested working-age individuals, in order to support further arts development
- Arts to become free-to-enter for under 18s, the unemployed and the elderly.
- A re-examination of the function of a library. They have a function but it has changed. Everyone should have access to the Internet as it represents the most massive storehouse of instant knowledge but this does not signify the demise of the book.
- Integrated Schooling becomes the Norm. Segregated schools will have reduced funding in staged decreases until their intake becomes normalised.
- An end to talk of “shared” futures and campuses as a cross-community effort. A vision of a common education environment must be enforced.
EMPLOYMENT AND LEARNING
- All colleges to implement Dojos based on their specialities: programming, electronics, 3d, music, post-production, etc
- A new programme of skills development and apprenticeship support specifically designed for indigenous SMEs. Current programmes target large companies and FDI.
- Further and Higher Education is to be, like primary and secondary education, free at the point of delivery. This is to stimulate the development of a highly educated populace. Base education on quality not cost.
- An end to programmes that are uniquely targeted at 18-24 year olds. Discrimination on age is especially painful to those individuals who have, though no fault of their own, been forced to switch careers and fall way outside that age bracket
ENTERPRISE, TRADE AND INVESTMENT
- Re-alignment of the NISPO Fund to be an accelerator, not a brake
- Development of the “big hub” concept of networks ensuring every region is close to a high-speed Internet hub.
- All financial assistance packages to be accompanied with a proportional Social Clause.
- Fracking needs to be researched. I have seen enough evidence to suggest that it is a very bad idea. And I’d like that backed up by scientists I trust.
FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
- Open Data to become the norm across departments.
- Establish a cross-department Innovation Fund for SBRI.
- Anyone earning less than the living wage will pay no taxes on their earnings. Dividends, if received, add to the wage total. They will continue to pay National Insurance.
- A 75% tax rate will apply to individuals who earn in excess of £200K per annum.
- Procurement of services will be required to undergo a economic benefit test – SMEs will benefit from procurement and multinationals will be penalised.
FIRST MINISTER (AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER)
- There will be an Office of the First Minister. There will be no need to have “one for the cath-licks and one for the pradistans”. This will be about representing civic society.
- The duty of the First Minister is to represent the citizen, from the lowest to the highest
- The FM will be tasked with ensuring that everyone of voting age actively partake in civic society. They may choose to spoil a vote, but they must actively do this.
- The FM will be tasked with providing a model for liberty, compassion and equality
- The FM will be tasked with ensuring that all political donations over £1000 are made public and further than this: cleaning out nepotism and bias in procurement
- The Constitutional Issue will be dealt with via referendum on the same cycle as the Assembly elections. There must be equal service given to all of the options however.
- I’d be in favour of the FM role being a public lottery for a year of service with it being open to everyone over the age of 16.
HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY
- Re-open A&E departments to ensure maximum distance of 20 miles to emergency medicine. If we can put a electric car charging point within 10 miles of everyone in NI, why not a paramedic?
- We have to build the NHS not dismantle it in light of an aging population and increased demands. We will be using this service more – it is folly to dismantle it before the demand rises.
- Benefits should enable a healthy way of life. Working should enable a comfortable way of life.
- Establish the office of historical enquiries separate to the police forces and focused on the discovery of new evidence. This is “drawing a line” – but it serves to identify the difference between the crimes of the past and the crimes of the present.
- Collaboration with National Crime Agency
- Establish the Truth Commission. Justice may be beyond some but truth may be possible.
- Public transport across the province will now be provided gratis. The resultant reduction in traffic and personal car use will prolong the life of existing roads, reduce road deaths and improve leisure and economic mobility.
- Road widening schemes will be stopped though a motorway to Derry will be completed
- Every train to have a ‘bike’ carriage. Every bus to be retrofitted with a bike rack.*see Comment
- Urban centres to have segregated cycle paths, separated by a kerb from main road traffic.
- Electric Car charging points to be subsidised in cafe and restaurant car parks and doubled in supermarket car parks. Town centre charging to remain free and subsidies increased for personal EVs.
- A Loop-The-Lough railway will be constructed
- Peace walls will be coming down in stages, to be completely removed by 2020. Each year, 20% of the peace walls will be reduced or removed. There can be no peace while there are walls.
- Equality to be the fundament of society: for everyone to question prejudice, for there to be an end to “freedom of conscience” when there is discrimination.
- Establish the bill of rights of the individual. This has repercussions for abortion, for assisted suicide, for abortion and for travel for medical assistance. Legislating someone to do something they do not choose within their own bodies and mind is not the mark of a civil society.
- Legislate the freedom of every individual to practice the religion of their choice. Legislate also the freedom of every individual to not be subjugated by the religious choices of others. The right of Freedom of Religion must be coupled with the right of Freedom From Religion.
- Tackling the disintegration of our town centres and the proliferation of office block ghost towns. Empty commercial premises will be subject to 150% rates in town centres. Empty office buildings allegedly unfinished will be subject to full rates if there is no movement on the build within 6 months. Establish a cap on rent on any building that has been empty for more than 1 year; this cap will remain and can only be increased by the landlord by a 10% increment annually.
- More digital services, including voting, but this requires much more widespread access and increased literacy
- Currently drawdown from Europe is less than a tenth in NI than it is in Ireland. This investment creates jobs, infrastructure. Half the projects in Northern Ireland seem to have the European Regional Development Fund clause but yet we could be drawing down over ten times more.
- NI does do well out of the few projects it participates in. It’s the number of programmes that are applied for and, sadly, the number of programmes that we fail to deliver. For example, Maze Long Kesh and Narrowwater Bridge
- Much EU investment in NI is represented by the Farm Subsidy. This investment is poorly used and could be used to create new sustainable products and prosperity in rural areas using the abundant labour in these regions.
- The role of the MEP is to be the voice of a small region. The role of the Parliament and groupings is to create the meta-framework of legislation that sits above local laws. Above and beyond this, the MEP is a connection to the structure of Brussels, the clusters and calls which dominate the directorates. How many of our MEPs have been useful in my work in Brussels over the past five years? Precisely zero. Yet I’ve been introduced to the MEPs of other regions. Their MEPs help them make the connections to form consortia for EU projects. I have no idea what ours do all day.
- We are a small and poor region, dominated by SMEs and microbusinesses. We have poor infrastructure, we have poor governance and we have poor aspiration. Our MEPs must be a voice for us and other regions like us. The EU directorates are willing to listen (i wrote a paper for SME support that turned into an EU funded DETI project.) And they are willing to act.