Manifesto by the author, commentator, and historian Gary Watton
No this isn’t a homage to a Roxy Music album from the 1970s, but instead this page is my own vision for the Disunited Queendom. Tony Bennett once sang ‘If I Ruled The World’. Well here is my programme for government if I ruled Little Britain. [The following prescriptions for ailing Britain, our sick society, are in no order of importance.]
There should be a referendum on whether or not Britain wishes to remain in the European Union.
There should be a referendum in the Falkland Islands on the issue of its sovereignty. Even if the islanders agree to preserve the status quo, there should be a conciliatory gesture of permitting a rolling increase of Argentine involvement in the administration of what they refer to as the Malvinas.
There should be a referendum in Northern Ireland to determine its constitutional position for the next ten years.
The BBC licence fee should be scrapped. The time is long overdue that the BBC should stand on its own two feet and not rely on a mandatory licence fee imposed on its viewers. No other broadcasting network demands such terms and conditions of its customers. The BBC must operate in the marketplace in much the same way as its competitors, relying either on subscriptions, as Sky does, or upon revenue from advertising, as experienced by the likes of ITV. Given the scandals and its flawed history, not to mention the unmerited high salaries of its chief executives and overpaid presenters, the BBC should not command a compulsory licence fee from its hard-pressed viewers.
The next of kin should be fined one thousand pounds if they permit the firing of a volley of shots at the graveside ceremony of their loved one’s funeral.
It should be illegal to fly a paramilitary flag from one’s own house. The occupant should be fined one thousand pounds.
It should be illegal to burn any national flag, as periodically and provocatively practised in Northern Ireland.
The number of MLAs in Northern Ireland needs to be cut from a scandalous six members per constituency to five, even four members per constituency, thus sparing the public purse an obscenely high outlay of funds.
The number of MPs at Westminster needs surgery too. A more realistic total of five hundred ought to be aimed at. However, no Member of Parliament should have to represent any more than a maximum of one hundred thousand constituents. Where a constituency exceeds a total electorate of one hundred thousand, then boundary changes are needed to keep every constituency to a maximum of one hundred thousand people. No constituency should have an electorate of less than fifty thousand constituents.
There should be an absolute bare minimum tariff of twenty years for all life sentences. To be convicted of murder and then issued with a minimum of seventeen years clearly values the life of the deceased victim at approximately seventeen years, which is preposterous and insulting.
The National Minimum Wage should be increased from barely beyond six pounds per hour to a more respectful eight pounds per hour.
Businesses will be able to cope with the burden of these increased wages by means of a reduction in Corporation Tax.
In order to offset the national debt, Jobseekers Allowance should be cut from £71 per week to fifty-nine pounds per week. By increasing the margin between one week on Jobseekers Allowance and one week on the National Minimum Wage, the whole concept of work will never seem so attractive and there will be a huge stimulus to find employment. As someone who is currently receiving JSA, I am well-placed to comment on the anomaly of working full-time in a low-paid job when benefits are considerably more rewarding. There are enough benefits claimants shelling out their apparent wealth each day at the bookies or at the pub to suggest that there is something sickeningly amiss with Britain’s benefits culture. Unfortunately, for every genuine hard luck story, there appears to be many others who are benefiting a little too well from the benefits bestowed by the misguided liberals of Britain’s nanny state.
Job application forms should be legally restricted to a maximum of ten pages. Anything beyond this total is not user-friendly and is inclined to be padded out with unnecessary and downright intrusive questions.
All employers should be legally compelled to email all applicants for a vacancy and inform them of the outcome. It doesn’t take an eternity to contact people via email in contrast to the costly snail mail. Failing to inform all applicants about the outcome of their application is hugely disrespectful and demoralising.
In much the same way as there is a national criminal database, people should be able to volunteer information about their qualifications and employment record to a national database. Employers can then consult this database in order to ascertain a candidate’s suitability for an advertised vacancy. Such information would enable a candidate to curtail a lengthy application form by stating that such information is in the public domain and is verifiable.
The ‘basic’ salary of Members of Parliament should be reduced from 63k to 60k per annum. This would provide an annual saving of two million pounds for the public purse. Admittedly, this is a mere drop in the ocean, but to quote the Tesco commercial, ‘every little helps’.
There needs to be an end to the golden handshakes culture that afflicts British society. The sacked, soometimes disgraced, sometimes underachieving chief executives and bosses of major organisations or corporations should not be rewarded for their failure. Employment law must be amended to outlaw employment contracts which facilitate huge pay-offs for departing employees. It would be good if the British parliament took a lead in this abominable situation and voted to stop the issuing of a large pension to MPs who lose their seats. Again, this is an example of rewarding failure, and it sets a terrible example.
Young persons under the age of eighteen should be legally prohibited from attending public protests. Anyone who breaches this law should be detained at a holding centre until a parent or guardian arrives and pays a spot fine of ten pounds before the underaged protester is released. If there is a repeat offence, the spot fine increases to £100. If there is a third violation, then a fine of £1,000 is issued.
All future motoring offences, such as speeding should result in a £100 fine for the perpetrator and a £1,000 for a repeat offence. Such measures would replace the outdated points system. For the first offence, the perpetrator would still have the choice between a fine or compulsory attendance at the drive safety course.
Whenever the police are asked to investigate a complaint of excessive noise at someone’s house, arising out of a late night, or early hours party, a spot fine of ten pounds should be issued to the property owner if the police record and/or film the noisy proceedings. Again, a repeat offence should incur a fine of £100, and a third offence should necessitate a £1,000 fine. Unfortunately, nowhere near enough is done to tackle such anti-social behaviour, and again the authorities seem impotent at protecting a person’s right to a quiet, peaceful existence, free from excessive noise in the night or early morning.
Young persons under the age of twenty who the police consider to be drunk and disorderly when attending or emerging from a night club or pub should be detained overnight in a holding centre where they can sober up, whilst in this temporary protective custody. The individual would then be released when a parent, partner, or guardian arrives at the holding centre and pays a spot fine of £10 for a first offence, £100 for a repeat offence, and £1,000 for a third such offence.
The revenue raised from the imposition of fines for the above offences can be allocated as follows:
1) The building and maintenance and staffing of new detention centres for those guilty of anti-social behaviour such as underage protesters and drunk and disorderly teenagers. Such centres would provide a brief, temporary stint of incarceration whilst arrangements were made for a parent, or guardian, or partner to arrive at the holding centre and settle the appropriate spot fine. Failure to pay the spot fine would automatically result in court proceedings being issued, after which an increased fine or custodial sentence would be bestowed upon any guilty party.
2) Funds from the fines would also be distributed to a central fund that would compensate anyone found innocent after having been remanded in custody. Any such individual who is acquitted after having been placed on remand would be compensated to the tune of £100 per week of their incarceration.
A maximum wage needs to be legally enforced to prevent Premiership soccer players grabbing outrageous weekly amounts which far exceed what many people earn over several years.
Football clubs should not be permitted to spend money in the transfer market, unless they have paid off their debts. There is something incongruous about a football club which owes money but which simultaneously is purchasing new players.