For the sake of the new year, I thought it was time to have some wishlists. The first is for my adopted home, and the birthplace of my parents. So what of the UK in 2011? 2010 was dominated by recession, the ongoing hatred of politicians for their noses being in the public trough, election of the first coalition government in the UK for generations, protests by posh and middle class students as they were told to be weaned off the state tit and the ongoing climate of supposed austerity as the newly elected government decides the state should grow more slowly than Gordon Brown had promised.
So what for 2011? Well with five year Parliamentary terms the typical assumption is that governments have long periods to implement policies and see results, but with the coalition it is harder as the Liberal Democrats face the usual problem of being the minor party in any coalition - taking all the blame and little of the credit.
My top ten from lowest to highest priority:
10. The Green Party of England and Wales remains irrelevant nationally and does poorly in local elections. This little mob of pro-violence Marxists may start to get the level of scrutiny it deserves as the UK, beset with recession, stops tolerating those who believe in more spending, more taxes and less freedom.
9. Alternative Vote system is selected in the 2011 Electoral System referendum and electoral boundaries are adjusted to have similar populations. Why? I've always supported the idea that local MPs should be supported by at least a majority of those who vote, so that MPs are representative of their constituents. I'm not fussed as to what parties benefit from this, as it is likely to be better for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, what matters is that it means people can make a first choice that they believe in. Secondary to this is that electoral boundaries are redrawn to have roughly even populations in each constituency. The status quo is a gerrymander that benefits Labour, because it creates small "community based" constituencies that happen to favour Labour dominated areas. It is time for the UK's political system to become at least based on majority voting in equivalent constituencies.
8. Scotland rejects the SNP in the 2011 elections. The Scottish National Party is a party of posing socialists who once sold the merits of following the models of Iceland and Ireland, and now pretend the ills of Scotland can be blamed on Westminster. As much as I'd like Scotland to be cast adrift and for those who believe in Scottish nationalism to be able to test their socialist credentials in real life (as if Scotland isn't already a testament to that abject failure), I'd much rather for Scots to get the picture and boot out these pretenders from the Scottish Parliament. Let the SNP lose, comprehensively, preferably into third place or worse. I don't care who beats the SNP, but the fatuous emptiness of the "Scotland is better off independent" deserves to be beaten into submission, and the posing economic fraud of Alex Salmond to be consigned to history.
7. The devolved administrations have funding and their roles restructured so that they do not get more money per head than England, and have their own taxation powers to make up the difference. The economies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are so dominated by state spending that they have bigger public sector economies than Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany before the fall of their one party states. It is time the voters in those administrations stopped being subsidised by English voters, and for the taxes collected locally to be all they have to spend. They would still be subsidised in effect for defence and foreign affairs, but for any new spending, the taxes would rise. Meanwhile, if Scotland wants to grant free university education, which the EU requires must be offered to other Member States, it should also be forced to offer it to students across the UK as well. Time for those parts of the UK that think government is always the solution to pay the price.
6. The Labour Party is seen as having been part of the problem, and Ed Miliband as "Wallace" from Wallace and Gromit. Labour for many years pretended government overspending, and forever extending credit was about abolishing boom and bust. It pretended that anytime there was a problem, the state could be the solution. Everytime a serious horrible crime was committed, it passed a new law clamping down on freedoms and the innocent. It has perpetuated the cruel and specious lie that the NHS is some sacred model of healthcare that is the envy of the world, when it is anything but. It has continued to support a culture of putting much of the country in dependency on government. It deserves to be blamed for being the philosophical source of the ongoing economic and social erosion of Britain. Ed Miliband only looks like going back to the 1980s, having been so soundly endorsed by Neil Kinnock (who couldn't even beat John Major). Labour doesn't have solutions and deserves to be reminded of how much it contributed to today's problems.
5. UKIP goes beyond EU bashing to being a party of consistently less government . It might be too much to ask for, but UKIP is right about the EU and needs to be seen as being more of a party of less government as well as opposing the EU. It has many members who believe in less regulation, less tax and less government spending, and the only philosophically consistent reason to oppose EU membership that isn't autarkic is laissez-faire capitalism. I don't expect UKIP to be libertarian, but I do want it to fill the gap the Conservative Party has left behind, of welcoming a smaller state.
4. The coalition government stands firm on spending cuts, and goes further. It hasn't been easy for politicians to say no to lobby groups, and in the last few weeks it has already kowtowed to a handful of authors who want taxpayers to keep paying for free books for families. The coalition should cut spending further, abandon the ridiculous HS2 high speed rail boondoggle, and make it clear that it has a goal of starting to cut Britain's public debt by the time of the next election. Less spending shouldn't be sold as pain, but as a long term investment in shifting from compulsion to the voluntary sector, as well as being to start reversing decades of borrowing.
3. The coalition remains intact, but the Liberal Democrats split into two for the next election. The Liberal Party has a mostly honourable past as a party of less government and individual freedom. This has been diluted and corrupted by the Social Democrat breakaway from the then far-left Marxist Labour Party. Labour may remain leftwing, but it isn't the Soviet-appeasing mob of the early 1980s. The Liberal Democrats should divide into the Liberals, with the rest either returning to Labour or having a go at being Social Democrats again. The coalition can remain intact, but it is time this chameleon party had a divorce.
2. The obsession with the UK sacrificing its economy for climate change (whilst far bigger economies continually grow emissions with little concern) ceases in government. The UK has been riding this bandwagon for years, with massive subsidies for renewable energy, unprofitable railways and quasi-religious obsession for recycling and prohibiting airport expansion. Meanwhile, Russia, China, India, the Middle East and even half of Europe do next to nothing, whilst their economies grow. The UK shouldn't be sacrificing itself for some moral highground based on at least questionable science and nonsense economics. Let people pursue energy efficiency and less pollution on their own merits, as much of the British public isn't convinced that it should pay the price whilst those from other countries can do as they please.
1. The British media to regularly invite advocates of less government to participate in debates. The British media is diverse, but rarely are those who advocate less government spending, less regulation and lower taxes asked to debate on public issues (or comment in newspapers). It is a lot to expect the predominantly statist UK public to be libertarians, but the media should at the very least start exposing people to views that reject the "government should do this" perspective. The trade unions, business lobbies and the major political parties all tend to support government doing more. It would be fresh if someone asked all of them why people need to be forced to do good.