(Author’s Note: Tom Rogers recently made a comment, on a thread about the forthcoming UK election, asking for “plausible and realistic ideas that can be put into action and that will appeal to ordinary working people.” Despite my strong aversion to politics as it exists today, and to politicians of all stripes and all parties, I thought it might be good to set down my best stab at exactly that. Hence this draft outline of a “party manifesto,” intended to spark thought and discussion.
I thought of several possible names for the party – the Good People’s Party, the Sanity Party, the Peace and Justice Party, perhaps even the Zero Agenda Party. But I eventually settled on the “Live and Let Live Party.”)
For the last 150 years or so, the primary human political unit has been the nation state. There have been empires, too; but these do not seem to have been stable in recent times. The British empire, eventually, failed. The Soviet empire failed. The EU empire is well on its way to failing. And cracks are starting to show even in the hegemony of the American empire.
Most Western nation states, including the UK, have some form of democracy. But there are serious cracks appearing in democracy, too. From roughly the 1920s up to the early 1990s, power in the UK swung back and forth between two opposite poles; the Tories or the “right,” and Labour or the “left.” Those who preferred one over the other, were relatively happy half of the time, and oppressed the other half of the time. But around 25 years ago, things changed. The policies of the different parties grew closer together, and became more and more estranged from the interests of us, the good people. So today, many people face an election in which none of the major parties shows any concern for us. None of them are worth voting for; and each has something in them that is downright evil. Whoever wins in June, politics is likely to continue, as it has been doing for many years, getting worse rather than better.
This is why we formed the Live and Let Live Party. We want the party to do for everyone in the UK exactly what it says on the tin. We want everyone to have the freedom to live their own lives in their own way, free from all unnecessary restrictions. But there is a flip side to that freedom. That is, that each of us must always allow others to enjoy the same freedom in return. You cannot peaceably Live with others, unless you are willing to Let them Live in return.
From an academic point of view, there is much wrong with current political systems. You can question the ethical basis for the nation and for its state. You can question whether today’s 17th century style “Westphalian” nation states are out of date, and ripe for replacement by something better. You can question whether a nation must have borders, giving examples like the English and the Kurds. You can question whether it should have a military, and if so how big. You can question whether we need as big and active a government as we have, or indeed whether we need political government at all. You can question whether democracy has been a success or a failure, or whether it may even, over the long run, have made things worse. You can question whether forming a political party is a sensible thing to do, for those who are fed up with the system. But none of this professorial prattle actually gets anything done on the ground, where it matters.
So our party must have, ultimately, a practical focus. We have to accept, at least for the short term, the existing institutions. We have to accept nations and borders. We have to accept the need for military defence. We have to accept the parliament as it is. We have to accept the population of the UK as it is today. We have to accept, or at least to seek to work tolerably with, our neighbours and our strategic partners. And it is in this context that we, the Live and Let Live Party, are pleased to present our manifesto.
What we stand for
- We’re for the individual. We’re for the interests of every individual in the UK, criminals and political hacks excepted. We recognize that the individual is the fundamental unit, from which all societies are built. And that every individual is different. Each has his or her own combination of needs and desires, choices and inclinations, strengths and weaknesses. Further, our social view is bottom-up. We want to empower all individuals to run their own lives in their own way as far as possible. When considering social interactions, we focus always on the individuals involved. And we do not accept that any social construct, including a political nation, is somehow superior to the aggregate of the individuals who constitute it.
- We’re for the family. The family is vitally important, because it is the smallest social unit which can survive indefinitely. We understand that those, who choose to have families, have taken on a huge responsibility. But we also understand that parents must have the right and the power to choose how they bring up and educate their children. It isn’t a valid function of government to interfere with family life, unless a real crime is being committed.
- We’re for peace. We recognize that, for any large nation, under the present system the possession of military force is vital. But we recognize also that it must only be used defensively, or in retaliation for an attack against us or our allies. It isn’t a valid function of government to aggressively interfere in other countries’ affairs, short of forestalling an actual attack or halting a genocide.
- We’re for justice. Not for “social justice,” or “environmental justice,” or any of the other drivel that today passes for “justice.” We stand for objective, individual justice for all. Under justice, no-one deserves to be treated, over the long run and in the round, worse than he or she treats others. And it isn’t a valid function of government to go against such justice.
- We’re for human rights. We recognize that every human being, without exception, has certain rights and freedoms. They include life (in the sense of not being murdered), security of person, property, privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of thought and action, and many more. These rights are conditional only on respecting the equal rights and freedoms of others. If you respect others’ rights, your own rights must not be violated.
- We’re for the rule of law. We believe that what is legally right, and what is considered wrong, in a jurisdiction at a particular time must be clearly stated, and made known to the public. And that it must be exactly the same for everyone; High Court judge or bricklayer.
- We’re for the rule of minimal law. We believe that laws should represent only the absolute minimum of constraint, which is necessary to enable people to live together in peace and justice. And we support the traditional safeguards of public trials, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and protection against double jeopardy.
- We’re for the precautionary principle in its original, unperverted form. We believe that the Hippocratic oath for doctors, “First, do no harm,” should also apply to government. Government should never seek to harm anyone, without first weighing up the justice of the situation, its rights and its wrongs, the costs and the benefits to those concerned. And the burden of proof must always be on those who are proposing harmful change.
- We’re for small, unintrusive, de-centralized government. Just as we believe the code of law should be minimal, so we believe that government itself should be minimal. Further, it should avoid intruding on our lives, unless that is evidently necessary. And as far as possible, government should be de-centralized; its services should be delivered within the communities in which its subscribers live.
- We’re for the free market and for laissez-faire. We believe that, absent criminal acts, no-one should be denied the right to offer goods or services to others in return for payment. Further, we believe that those, who satisfy their customers, have the right to enjoy the rewards they receive as a result.
- We’re for small business. We believe that the one- and two-man band, the family firm, and small companies in general are a vital part of our economic way forward to the future. We believe that government should never harm the interests of such businesses. Nor should government ever give favours to big-business cronies.
- We’re for tolerance. We believe that no-one deserves to be pre-judged on the basis of what they are (for example, by skin colour, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation). In contrast, we believe that individuals should be judged only on what they do. We recognize that there will always exist some prejudiced individuals, and that little can be done to change them. But government itself must never act on the basis of such prejudices.
- We’re for honesty, impartiality, transparency and accountability. We believe that all officials of government should be held to very much higher standards of honesty and impartiality than they are today. Further, there should be a far higher level of transparency, including a general presumption of public access to government records. And where policies are shown to have been wrong, officials at all levels should be held accountable for their share of the bad effects of these policies.
- We’re for de-politicization of services, such as education and health, that are currently provided by the state. We favour the provision of such services through smaller, independent units, in which those who actually deliver the services have a considerable stake.
- We’re for free, unbiased choice. We believe that, where competing means are available to achieve a particular goal (for example, cars versus public transport), then individuals should be free to choose whichever is best for them. We believe that government should not attempt to bias these choices.
- We’re for international trade. We believe in “Economics global, politics local.” We favour international trade, and the facilities – such as ports and airports – which are necessary to support that trade.
What we’re against
- We oppose social engineering. We believe that government must be for the benefit of the governed. And it must, over the long run, be a nett benefit to every individual among those governed; criminals and political hacks excepted. Therefore we oppose all social engineering, and any attempts to mould people into obedient serfs or cogs in a machine; such as anti-smoking or anti-alcohol policies.
- We oppose economic meddling. We oppose artificially low interest rates, which help the state but penalize savers. We oppose the creation by government of economic winners and losers, cronies and victims. We oppose “quantitative easing,” because it stokes up future inflation. And we see the function of government in the economic sphere as being hands off; no more than to establish the conditions under which the market can operate most effectively.
- We oppose the green agenda. We are skeptical of the meme that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will cause, catastrophic warming on a global scale. We oppose the perversion of science, and the inversion of the precautionary principle and thus of the burden of proof, that have been done in the name of this meme. We oppose, also, those in the media that have persistently lied to us about this issue for more than 25 years. We are skeptical of the idea of “sustainable development,” which itself is already beginning to look unsustainable. We believe that the Earth is our planet, the human planet; and the UK, also known as Britain, is our land. This land and its resources are there for us to use wisely. They are our bootstrap to a better world. As to pollution, we support the principle of “polluter pays.” But, where pollution does not result from criminal activity or irresponsibility, and cannot be cost-effectively abated, we believe that the polluter should pay only the actual social cost of the pollution they cause. And this should be distributed to the victims, in proportion to the risks they suffer as a result.
- We oppose the imposition of political ideologies. No-one should be forced to live under any political ideology with which they are not comfortable. Socialists, for example, have no right to force people to live under socialism if those people don’t wish to. But they do have the right to form their own communes of like minded people, and run them how they please. The same applies to other ideologies, such as religious or social conservatism.
- We oppose re-distributory and confiscatory taxation. We believe that, over the long run, what people pay for government should be in proportion to the benefit they receive from government. And this benefit is, broadly speaking, in proportion to their total wealth. Therefore, the contribution to government by individuals at a particular time should be, as far as possible, in direct proportion to the individuals’ wealth at that time.
- We oppose the surveillance state. We oppose the proliferation of spy cameras, and the routine interception of our communications. These are serious violations of our fundamental human right to privacy. More generally, we oppose the tendency of the state to treat us as guilty until we prove ourselves innocent.
- We oppose political intolerance. We judge individuals by what they do, not who they are. But we oppose all political movements that seek to enforce some skewed kind of “tolerance” on others. Thus, we oppose political correctness in all its forms. We oppose persecution of the adherents of any religion, or none. And we oppose feminism and affirmative action, both of which are far worse than the intolerances they claim to solve.
- We oppose the idea of sovereign immunity. We oppose any claim, by any government official, of any right to do something which an ordinary person would not have the right to do in a similar situation.
- We oppose the European Union. We consider the formation of the EU in 1993 to have been a giant step in the wrong direction. And we consider that the European project was imposed on the people of the UK under false pretences. Following Brexit, we will seek friendly relations with individual EU member countries where in our interests, but we will have nothing to do with the EU as a whole.
- We oppose the United Nations. Over the course of its existence, the UN has morphed from an organization with the potential to secure world peace and human rights, into one well on the way to becoming a world-wide, unaccountable political government. We will withdraw from all UN circles, except those concerned with its primary function of world peace.
Here are some specific policies, which we will seek to carry out. As a general rule, where similar or somewhat similar ideas have been tried elsewhere (for example, pensions systems in Chile or Singapore, or privatizations in the Czech Republic) we will fully study those examples before detailing our proposals.Some of these may well take longer than a single parliamentary term.
- Borders. We will fully grant the right of EU citizens, who were already living in the UK at some suitably chosen cut-off date, to remain in the UK indefinitely. We will institute a points based immigration system, which will select both for cultural compatibility with those already here, and for economic prowess.
- Economic Policies. We will cancel all wasteful, politicized projects such as HS2. And as we inexorably reduce the size of the state, we will gut its bureaucracy. We will seek to balance the government’s books as soon as we reasonably can. We will simplify and cut taxes as soon and as much as we can. Further, we will stop government meddling with the economy for its own ends. And we will set in motion, for the longer term, a plan to compensate those, whose lives have been unjustly damaged by bad taxation policies.
- Human Rights Policies. We will not only retain the Human Rights Act, but we will strengthen it where necessary. We will remove the spy cameras, disband the snooping agencies and sack the snoopers.
- Environmental Policies. We will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. We will repeal the climate change bill. We will ditch Agenda 21 and all other elements of the green agenda. We will establish a general principle of “polluter pays compensation” in environmental matters.
- Energy Policies. We recognize that abundant, cheap energy is a necessity for a modern economy. We will, therefore, set sane and sensible policies for energy generation. For electricity, we will seek to mix gas fired plants, coal fired plants with scrubbers, and nuclear plants. We will use solar power only in those places, such as off grid applications, where it is warranted. We will halt construction of all new wind turbines, and cancel all subsidies to existing ones.
- Bonfire of Bad Laws. We will seek to simplify the legal system and laws. We will identify, and repeal, all bad or unnecessary laws, including but not restricted to EU ones. And we will restore the principle of protection against double jeopardy.
- Education Policies. We will de-fund all politicized departments in all universities. We will stop funding those universities which fail to measure up to the very highest standards. We will encourage schools to become independent of government, and to compete with private schools, church schools, family co-operative schools and home-schooling. We will allow schools to use alternative curricula of their choice, in place of the national curriculum, which will not be developed further.
- Health Policies. We will encourage doctors’ practices and hospitals to move towards becoming independent of government. We will change the financial arrangements for health care, to ensure that older and seriously ill patients do not suffer. In the longer term, we will seek to legalize euthanasia for anyone who wishes it.
- Welfare Policies. We will encourage a change away from government provision, to a mix of insurance, mutual aid and savings, with charity as a final back-stop. We will ensure that those who have already paid for anticipated future benefits are not denied them.
- Pensions Policies. Through our economic policies, we will make it possible in the future for most people to save enough for their old age. And we will encourage those, with both the desire and the ability, to continue to work and to do business past the normal retirement age.
- Transport Policies. We will remove the current biases for and against particular means of transport. We will allow people in individual regions and local areas to choose the forms of transport best suited to them. And over longer distances, road, rail and air transport options should all be available.
- Housing Policies. We will examine the possibilities for selling off council houses to their tenants. And we will end anti-car policies in the planning of new developments.
- The BBC. We will de-politicize the BBC, and sack those responsible for politicizing it.
- Foreign policy. We will withdraw from all conflicts in places like the Middle East and North Africa. We will leave NATO. We will maintain UK military resources at approximately their current levels. We will set a general policy of “friendly but watchful.” We will withdraw from all international agreements, except those for mutual defence and genuine free trade. We will end all unilateral foreign aid payments.
- Quality control. We will seek to achieve better honesty, impartiality, transparency and accountability in government through imposing quality control procedures. Parliament will be responsible for setting and monitoring these procedures.
- The monarchy. We will establish a suitable and popular successor, among the younger Royals; so that, when the Queen dies or retires, the successor will be ready and able to take over.