more thoughts on radicalism (or ultra liberalism?)

defined on dictionary.com: “liberal” – Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values

i also like the picture …

i also steal quite a lot of thought from the West Wing in this post. well either steal or agree …

in thinking more about my previous blog post on why radicalism is important i’ve been examining the political spectrum diagram and thinking more about what it means to be an ultra liberal. now i have no problem in being described as a liberal, indeed i am struck by the way it is described in that fantastic episode of the West Wing when Santos and Vinick go at it in a debate. and i think that in recent months (certainly since the formation of the UK coalition government) the word progressive has also been done a disservice.I also agree with Bruno Gianelli here when he talks about why people think people on the left cannot be strong on defense or crime.

i would be proud to be described as a liberal, even ultra liberal and so long as it wasn’t in jest i would like to think i am somewhat progressive in my views. building on my earlier post i would like to further contribute some thoughts on some of the more traditional areas of “liberalism”, namely education.

  1. education should be free to all those who wish to be involved in it. children need to be made to feel safe and education needs to be made accessible (not only physically) to all children in all schools. education, as someone once said, is the silver bullet and can be at least the stepping stone to cure many of societies ills. but unfortunately like sam seaborn i haven’t worked out how to do this.
  2. teachers should be on pedestals in our society and they should be, again as sam said, getting 6 figure salaries. there needs to be incentives to get the top people into schools and teach the next generation
  3. universities – a sticky subject for someone who has in the past voted liberal democrat. now briefly on the whole betrayal, yes i think they signed a pledge (the fact they signed such a pledge demonstrated electioneering and naivety in equal measure in my opinion and when the party encouraged candidates to sign said pledge i do not think that they thought they were going to have to be in government and deciding on things like that). that being said i think that the party should have simply, grown a pair, and voted against. they broke a promise – very simply. i also recognise that things are incredibly more complex than that with the Labour party initiating the Browne review etc. if we really want more people from a whole range of backgrounds going to university and accessing courses that will broaden their minds, increase productivity, employability and help to grow Britain’s R&D base, university should be free to those who want to go and learn.
  4. courses at university should be four years long and should come out with masters, the first year should not be a “you only have to pass” etc and then essentially have a 2 year degree. four years of learning and expanding your brain is good for everyone, especially the UK economy
  5. this country also needs to recognise that not everyone wants to go to university, learning in that way is not for everyone and so therefore apprenticeships, technical degrees in engineering and maths and design etc should be put on equal footing with degrees. there should be the equivalent of degrees – four year apprenticeship Master’s style degrees. we do not need a country of graduates or a country of plumbers and engineers we need a country with the mix of both.

i said in the previous post that all of these ideas are just ideas and i recognise that the usual rules of politics and the media (and fiscal / financial situations) need to be suspended in order to carry them out, however a few ideas on things could be paid for:

  1. no more nuclear weapons – sell them and disarm, no renewal of trident
  2. no more state subsidised nuclear power stations – if it can be economically and financially viable by itself then fine
  3. the robin hood tax
  4. unify the armed forces – why not have  a UK version of the Marine Corps in America, which has a naval and aviation wing of its own
  5. and in short – tax the rich

i can see that last one being not particularly popular. but i seem to remember a quote from my A-level history, something along the lines of:

“squeeze the rich until the pips squeek”

definitely

p.s – just as a postscript, i found this blog post as well, which whilst talks about the US context is quite good. i particularly like this quote:

“I want to preserve existing good things and restore previous good things, most of which were the progressive goals of an earlier generation.”

now is a time for radicalism

so

once past my somehwat spikey, cynical and grumpy exterior i like to think that i am a radical, progressive optimist at heart. i would like to think that i am optimistic as well as those other things. i have voted for what i have thought of as progressive parties in the few elections that i have voted in, despite the perhaps sometimes dire nature of the candidates for those parties.

just to get my link into the whole Welsh politics angle, i really hope that progressive politics has not taken a backseat in Wales with the “consensual” politics that people are talking about at the moment. i think that there is a danger that parties will now gravitate to the “easy option”, or the centre ground when in fact i think in order to be truly progressive and truly radical you need to be firmly on the left of the spectrum. the below is an interesting take on the political spectrum. whilst i would not adhere to all of those things they put down with radicals on the left (state sponsored secular ideology) i think that the left in Wales has considerably more to offer than the right.

given the state of Welsh politics and UK politics (i would exclude Scotland from that because they actually have a radical party with a workable majority and a charismatic leader who will i suspect follow a somewhat radical agenda in Scotland and good for him) i think the time is now for radical thinking and radical politics across a whole range of policy areas.

caveat – these policies are clearly only my thoughts and bear little resemblance to the current make up of either the House of Commons or the National Assembly for Wales. i suspect policies such as these would only be implemented in a fictional world, or in a world where all the normal rules of perception, politics and the media have been suspended. it should perhaps also be noted that i would firmly (see political compass post below) place myself on the radical left.

so, my offering to current thinking is as follows (in no particular order):

  1. implement the Robin Hood Tax. not only because it makes sense but those guys ran an amazing campaign and had everyone talking about it. i cannot understand why a tiny tax on the transactions of banks in the UK is controversial. clearly i know why it is in the real world, but we need to start somewhere. i would make one small amend that would be to supplement the DFID budget with the funds therefore freeing up some central government funds for other things
  2. increase the pay of MPs. not a popular one but this is a wishlist afterall not founded in reality. MPs should get paid more and then they should not have any expenses. that way they can do whatever they want with their wages. staff would be paid by the House of Commons. for those MPs who live inside London a flat could be rented (owned by the House of Commons Authority or whatever that is) and therefore doing away for a second home more formally (this system of renting works very well in Wales). the pay of MPs should go up to £75,000 – £80,000
  3. the pay of the Prime Minister should be increased and any future comparisions along the lines of “this person in the public sector gets paid more than the PM” should be put to death as soon as possible (also addressed by #4). the PM should be paid £200,000 – £250,000.
  4. wages at the top of the public sector (council chief execs etc) should be capped at £150,000.
  5. automatic payrises every year or whatever in the public sector should be removed. payrises should be given as part of the individual’s appraisals – if they have done well they get a pay rise – just like the private sector. performance related pay should be introduced in the public sector – this would put a rocket up the backsides of people who just camp out in the public sector, taking up space for well-qualified school / college / university leavers and at least in theory create a leaner more active public sector.
  6. nuclear power will have to be a part of the energy future of the UK but subsidies for the industry should be done away with – if energy production projects cannot be self sustaining and make a profit they shouldnt be built.
  7. reduce the production of “gas guzzlers” – huge cars, and drastically increase the production of smaller, more fuel efficient cars.
  8. improve the rail infrastructure and reduce the cost of train travel.
  9. homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt and foster children, after going through the same process at hetereosexual people / couples
  10. MPs should be elected with 50% or more of the vote in their constituency

now thats just for starters.