trust – tolerance – self-sufficiency
Health Warning: This site is unsuitable for anyone with a short attention span.
“Do you know my name, do you know my trade, I’ll not rest ‘til the world is made” After Jethro Tull
13th July 2014. If you have just come upon this site, please bear with me. It has been moribund for some time and I am in the process of waking it up. Chunks of it will be out-of-date and otherwise inappropriate, some of the links probably won’t work or may land you (metaphorically) on the far side of the moon, and line editing generally could be a disaster area. However, there is probably enough in this Introduction to give you a good idea of where I hope to go. If you are interested, drop in every now and then to see how I am getting on, and please feel free to submit any ideas or information.
I have been asked why, in the name of sanity, without money or political clout, would I venture on such a project, given the fate of minority parties in this country and the callous savagery of the media. I came across a quotation the other day which answers this question for me : “Here I stand. I can do no other”
See you again, I hope
I presume you are here because you share my fears about the parlous state of modern politics and where it is taking us. The three major parties are virtually indistinguishable and irreparably tainted by their own conduct. They lack both the will and the problem-solving skills needed to deal with a rapidly changing world. Once, this was not too serious – we knew we could survive their bumbling even though they crashed economies and squandered vast sums of our monies on blatantly fatuous projects. Now, however, we face real dangers. If this same inept governance continues, then aside from ever more economic and social problems, increasing climate instability will leave our children and future generations beyond, with exhausted resources and a dangerously degraded and hostile environment. If we wish to be able to look our offspring in the face in our later years then a continuation of our present political inertia is not an option.
We have to move away from the old, worn-out two/three-party deadlock. Practicality, of course, will be essential, but we will need also, originality. Small, conventional parties – the Greens, UKIP etc – despite often having good ideas and being run by people of some calibre, will sadly get nothing but a conventional pasting at a General Election as those who still have faith in voting (myself included), having no-one to vote for, vote against, to prevent ‘the other party’ from gaining power.
I do not have an answer to this problem, but I know that you (plural) have it and that you (singular) may well have part of it without realizing and so I formed the Alternative Party in 2003 on the basic engineering, problem-solving principle – ‘when you don’t know where to start – start’.
It is very small, penniless and, currently, a one-man band. However, it is bona fide, and its affairs are in proper order as required by the Electoral Commission. With your help and support it will grow and achieve worthwhile things. Without it, it will not; the present appalling, not to say, frightening, situation will continue with all that that means for the future of ourselves and our children.
Have a quiet browse through the ideas set out here and think what they mean. It is not an extremist rant – the only thing radical is that the ideas are the result of rational thought rather than political dogma. If you like what you read, go to the Comments section at the bottom of this page and send ‘I will support the Alternative Party’ or somesuch, then spread the address of the site as far as possible (short of spamming). Better still:
- If you have any ideas, let’s hear them. It may take a hundred to produce a good one, so the more the merrier and the sooner we start, the better.
- If you have helpful information, let’s have it. (If you want anything kept confidential, just mark it as such and I will note it but not publish it)
- If you want to help, let me know what it is you can offer, up to an including being willing to stand as an MP.
That said, I do not want to hear from ‘Golden Agers’, (unless this as an aspiration for the future rather than some imagined memory of the past), ranters, carpers, moaners, groaners, racists, utopiasts, adult non-voters, ‘Little Englanders’, or anyone with nothing positive to suggest.
I would particularly like to hear from: MPs desperate to do something about the way they are treated by the Executive and who are genuinely looking to reform Westminster; party activists; police officers (all ranks); NHS, Prison Service, Social Service, Utility, and Local Authority employees; teachers; members of the armed forces; anyone who has fallen foul of political correctness, ‘manageocrats’, and asinine so-called health and safety rules or compensation threats etc.
You may well feel too insignificant and inconsequential for such a venture as trying to sort out the present almighty mess. Don’t! You should never underestimate the effects of a small action. Think about this – if you won’t do something, who will? Cameron, Clegg, Milliband and their cronies? The three big parties? Be realistic – the future, your children’s future, cannot afford such a triumph of hope over experience! Your support is essential and your contribution may be more important that you think, however small you feel it may be.
So? Time to stop grumbling into our beer/cocktails/horlicks, ladies and gentlemen – time to do something. This is your chance. Please help.
You will note that, for the time being, the absence of a ‘contact us’ link. This is because almost everything about the Party is here and, for the immediate future at least, I would like as much of the debate to be held in the public domain as possible. As we have no formal membership system at the moment I will class all contributors as members and keep a (confidential) note of your details for future contact. The membership structure, will be determined in due course by what support and ideas we receive, as will funding. Currently I am funding this personally.
Hope to hear from you
Firstly, using constructive and rational discussion, to find a party structure that will be able to challenge the major parties effectively with a view to setting the country on a course that will enable it to deal practically with the many social, economic and environmental problems that we face. It will need to be simple, very open, and highly original. Almost certainly it will have to be internet based.
Secondly, in the event of there being too little support for this to make political changes, using this same discussion to build up a network of practically-minded and competent individuals who can work together to help one another, and society, with the problems that will ensue as Government becomes increasingly irrelevant and, quite probably, dictatorial.
THE PROBLEM (see also, Parliament)
Craven, self-serving and self-perpetuating, all the major parties have nothing but contempt for, and distrust of the British people. Distrust breeds distrust and, as a result, our political life has degenerated to a point where public faith in it has almost totally collapsed; the whole tone of our society is being set not by reason and the quiet majority but by anyone who can generate a headline – noisy minorities, extremists, and the pathologically timorous. Public service has been replaced by self-enhancement and self-aggrandizement; basic honesty and integrity are vanishingly rare; problems are tackled not with a view to solving them but with a view to gaining favourable headlines and further extending the powers and machinery of Government; enterprise and initiative are being suffocated by bureaucracy; ancient freedoms that thousands have died to win for us are being discarded without a thought, and, to add final insult to grievous injury, the whole desperate shambles is being paid for with our hard-earned money.
Looking at the way some MPs strive to become ‘interesting characters’ or TV quiz show hosts, one is tempted to say we are no longer a Democracy, but a ‘Celebritocracy’. However, a more accurate word is Kakistocracy, (look it up, it’s spot on!)
Unfortunately, Parliament, as presently constituted, cannot mend itself – most MPs, decent and conscientious though many strive to be, could not begin to earn their present salaries in ordinary employment – many, in fact, have never had a proper job for any length of time. As a result, independent thought puts them at risk and they must bow to the diktats of the party whips. Party discipline and party loyalty – the retention of ‘power’ by the party – supersede the good of the country.
Further, most MPs are lawyers and as such their basic training makes them poor problem-solvers. They examine evidence not to obtain a measure of the truth of a situation, but to select such parts of it as can be presented in the most favourable manner to meet the short-term needs of their clients – in this case, the Party. Thus, time and again new laws and procedures are tacked on to old ones to ‘deal with’ particular problems, without any semblance of an overview and often with a complete disregard for hard evidence. This is not only unscientific, it is fundamentally irrational – voodoo law-making - an ancient and primitive way, where superstition, bigotry, tribal hatreds, all our darkest instincts, can hold sway. It is not the way of rational and civilized peoples, nor a way forward. The effects of this, bad enough as they are, are further aggravated by the instinct of Governments for social engineering – that pious arrogance which imbues them with the belief that they know better than we do how to run our lives and our businesses. Hence the relentless deluge of detailed diktats imposed on every business and public institution. This, of course, as any remotely competent businessman would point out, is the very essence of bad management. Such good work as the police, teachers, NHS staff, all of us, manage to do, is a tribute to decent people trying their damnedest to work within these constraints, often having to ignore or ‘bend’ the fatuous procedures foisted on them from above. Very sadly this can be at great personal cost. Having to spend hour after hour doing ‘work’ you know to be completely pointless instead of doing what you are good at, can take a very heavy toll.
The bringing of a practical problem-solving attitude towards legislation. Asking, exactly what is the problem? Precisely how will this proposal deal with it? Subjecting laws to much the same scrutiny as scientific research – if it’s not working, find out why and change it or get rid of it. What has been done before is only of value insofar as it provides evidence of effectiveness.
Two basic principles are : if what you are doing is not working, do something else, and pay no heed to those declaiming the thousand ways something cannot be done.
Listen instead to the experts – the people who do the work – caretakers, nurses, soldiers, social workers, constables, teachers, plumbers, clerks, on and on. Their collective wisdom, expertise and goodwill is immense.
We need politicians who accept and understand this fully. They are public servants, paid by us, and charged with temporarily overseeing the health and well-being of our society. Their fundamental duty is to put in place a regime which acknowledges the talents of the people and encourages both co-operative and individual endeavour. They must both follow and guide. Follow, by asking, listening and striving to understand. Guide, by bringing calm, open-minded and rational thought, and perhaps a little courage and wisdom, to whatever is before them, not least to protect us from the worst excesses of democracy – mob rule. It is not for them to define what we each may do, but to define only the few things that we may not do, to accept the principle of ‘do as you wish, but hurt no one’ and to propose restraints on us, based on reason and practicality, ‘so gentle and moderate . . . that no man of sense or probity would wish to see them slackened’.
Government is a necessary evil and politics must be pragmatic. At best, politicians should seek to do the greatest good for the greatest number. Failing that, they should seek to do the least harm to the fewest. Much has been spoken in the past of ‘passion’ and ‘conviction politics’, but sincerity is not necessarily a cardinal virtue in a politician – Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung were all sincere conviction politicians. While ideals are essential, ideologies are a curse and ideologues invariably dictatorial. What is needed is a strong commitment to democratic ideals – trust in the people – together with a realistic acceptance of Churchill’s comment that democracy is the worst way to run a country except for all the others – it is messy and inefficient, but it works. Also needed is practical ability. ‘I meant well’ is no more acceptable an excuse from a failed politician than it is from a failed plumber who has wrecked the house, cost you a fortune and left the scene with water still coming through the ceiling.
‘So many gods, so many creeds, So many ways that wind and wind, While all the world needs Is that we be kind ’ after Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Over the years we have been offered ‘Victorian values’, ‘Family values’, ‘Christian values’, ‘Back to basics’, ‘Ethical foreign policy’, ‘Moral compasses’ etc. All vague and ill-defined, not to say, pompous terms, deliberately chosen to give the impression that the floundering policies they ostensibly justified were rooted in some deep and worthy philosophy, and all based on the assumption that the voting public is too stupid to see them for the word games they are. Inevitably, they have each faded away ingloriously, following in the wake of concepts such as integrity, honour, dignity, honesty, and, not least, public service. In their place has come arrogance, mendacity, hypocrisy, blame-shifting, and glaring self-interest.
However, notwithstanding these failures, some form of moral basis is essential to government as it is in ordinary life, so I would offer the plea that is fundamental not only to all the great modern religions but is accepted by most shades of non-believers, namely, the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, though for political purposes its negative form is perhaps more appropriate – ‘Do nothing to others you would not like done to yourself.’ This needs no theological debate, Holy Book or Divine Being to justify it. It is the practical wisdom of our species. While we are each unique individuals, we have evolved to need others, hence we are empathic: we understand and generally respect the feelings of others and, for the most part, we manage to preserve our uniqueness and work together for the common good.
I would offer three practical watch-words: trust, tolerance, self-sufficiency.
- Trust is deeply rooted in us all. Indeed, without it, society could not function. Every day we trust thousands of complete strangers with our lives without giving it a thought and Governments should accept, encourage, and build on this. Trust however, is mutual. You cannot trust someone who does not trust you and when almost every action by Parliament demonstrates a deep distrust of us, the people who lent it their authority, it will not be restored easily. Which prompts the question, would you trust me to run a Government? Well, I would not ask you to - you should watch anyone vying for power over you like hawks and hold them continually to account. I would ask you to give me – and anyone who chooses to pursue this venture with me – a chance. I certainly trust you. We are the only real alternative to the stifling grip of the existing parties, perhaps even a last chance.
- Tolerance is traditionally a powerful British virtue but it can be hard work. It does not simply mean living peacefully with people whose views are a ‘little different’ from yours, it means living, dealing, co-operating, and debating to find common ground, with people whose ideas and actions you may heartily detest, people who may mock and deride your most cherished beliefs – as you might theirs. Nevertheless, it is essential in a free and diverse society – one which aspires to progress. It is the first thing to go once trust begins to collapse and without it there is only ignorance, bigotry and hatred, the harbingers of social violence. The only thing we can safely be intolerant of is intolerance.
- Self-sufficiency is the only way that peoples can be truly free and nations both strong and good neighbours. It is also the only way to protect ourselves from international economic vagaries, random acts of violence (see ‘Terrorism’), pandemics, ecological and climatic disasters such as floods and droughts etc, and, not least, over-weaning and autocratic Governments. Not to be able to grow or make everything we need to survive is frankly insane. It leaves us defenceless and vulnerable to the whims of others far away in what will become an increasingly unsettled world. Self-sufficiency should be aspired to in everything both locally and nationally: from agriculture to manufacturing and from heating and lighting our houses to defending ourselves in our homes and neighbourhoods.
HELP AND INFORMATION WANTED
Ideas for the structure and funding of the Party