1) The Constitution and The Electoral System

Much criticism is levelled at the UK First Passed the Post system by certain elements of British society, and it is acknowledged that Britain lacks a written constitution other than Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights, and certain parliamentary and Sovereign traditions. Additionally, some people take the view that the present first passed the post electoral system is innately unfair, and accordingly postulate Proportional Representation ( transferable voting ) or fixed term parliaments or compulsory voting.

All such approaches are fundamentally flawed.

1) Proponents of PR miss the very fundamental conflict of their central premise of sustainability over time.

If, say an election is won on a PR basis resulting in a 10% voting majority for the governing party, and the presumption is that the elected government shall serve for five years but, if within a much shorter period - say 12 months -- 5% of the electorate die, and another 5% of people become of voting age, where is the demonstrable PR. Does such an illegitimate government presume they have the right to stay in power for another four years, and remain representative of the people contrary to their principles of PR and the demographic change.

2) Fixed term parliaments: yet another intellectually unsustainable concept. Many commentators have made the very pertinent observation; "what happens when they (the MP's) screw up"? We, the electorate have got to be able to get rid of the dumbos. And, more simply, if a fixed term government loses a vote of confidence, is this to be ignored, and they be allowed to blunder on, screwing up for another x years.

3) Compulsory voting: is just childish. You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. How would a dissenting voter be forced to vote; in leg irons? or would the Constitutional Police watch over the shoulder of the dissident voter to ensure his/her Secret vote did not record some unmentionable opinion or would there be a criminal penalty for not attending the polling station.

What would any of that do to enhance the respect of politicians.

x                                x                                  x                             x

All of the above delinquencies are over come by the adoption of FDP equitable voting precepts.

a) The first FDP parliament would be elected to serve (notionally) for a six year term.

b) After three years 50 % of Constituencies, evenly spread geographically, regardless of Party affiliations would become due for re-election.

It is recognised that initially this would introduce a step change in constitutional procedure, and there would be an attendant risk in the first instance of who was at risk of a three year term. Accordingly, the initial target seats would best be selected by an all party select committee within say the first six months of the implementation parliamentary session. With or without, cross party support primary legislation would be necessary.

c) All subsequent elections would be for a full six year term but only half the total number of constituency MP's would become due for re-election every three years. This would concentrate the minds of the majority party, ensuring that the political pendulum is not forced too far Right or Left because the government would be forced to "keep their ear to the ground", and not disregard the public mood. True democracy is thereby enshrined and strengthened.

d) Proportionality would also be built into the FDP electoral concept by halving the number of constituencies but doubling there size (in voter numbers) and electing two MP's per constituency: the first two passed the post.

The advantage of this system is two fold in that it builds in an element of proportional representation but also gives a constituent with a problem a choice as to with whom he/she can pursue a grievance.

e) An FDP preferred variation on d) would be to reduce the total number of Westminster MPs: 640 is far too many in today's world of fast communications; travel and electronic mail, plus the fact that we now have Welsh and Scottish assemblies, relieving Westminster of much previous work and responsibility. An arbitrary cull to about 500 might be more appropriate.


2)
The NHS and Pensions

All employed people (and the Self Employed) in Britain have deducted from their income National Insurance Premiums. These deductions were supposedly, at the inception of the well-fair state, to be insurance premiums guaranteeing Health Care (at the point and time needed) and a liveable pension upon retirement.

What happened to all those subscriptions over the years? The treasury misappropriated them, and then squandered them on general expenditure, so the insurance fund that should have been collectively built up over peoples' life span was effectively stolen. Consequently, people are now being required to pay a second time for things they had previously insured themselves against or they are being means tested in order to get what they have already insured for.

If a private insurance company behaved like that the present government would charge them at least with miss-selling or even a serious fraud. Furthermore Gordon Brown raided the pension funds of so many hard working/hard saving citizens trying desperately to secure their future, and not be a burden on the state. This was double jeopardy, as the savers had already paid tax on their earned income (savings). In fact this was tantamount to theft. If Robert Maxwell senior had done that, the present government or "the City" would have hounded him to his death.

The FDP would immediately abolish the Gordon Brown tax theft, and institute a properly funded National Insurance Scheme, with all Nat Ins. contributions being "Ring Fenced" and not allowed to be diverted for any other purposes.

Ageism would be abolished, and people permitted to retire at any time from the age of 60 and upwards, with no upper limit. The basic pension could be drawn at age 60, if one retired but if one elected to work on, then the pension receivable upon retirement would be graduated upwards to reflect the increased contributions paid. Further, the FDP would index link the basic pension to a new pensioner's Retail Price Index; not the present RPI which is a generalised PI taking into account eg. the fall in digital plasma screen TV prices and video games and the like. But, if a pensioner is on the bread line (and most are) and the price of bread goes up 5% that's a massive impact on that person's budget, whereas a person on average wages and above is hardly affected in percentage terms. Accordingly, the new PRPI would be calculated on the change in price of that package of goods and services the average pensioner, surviving on only the state pension, normally buys; including Rents/Rates and Poll Tax, be that 5%, 8 or 9% then so be it. And why not? Pensioners don't cause inflation.

Just consider the arithmetic. If the weekly pension was judged/set at say 150 at a Datum Date as that income necessary to sustain an acceptable minimum standard of living, then that minimum standard could only be maintained IF the 150 was escalated in step with the actual inflation of that representative average package of 150 worth of goods (and services eg. the Poll Tax). And, to repeat, the datum 150 package inflation was not caused by pensioners; so the government should/must maintain the 150 purchasing value in step with the actual "package" inflation. Otherwise pensioners will become ever poorer.

Further, the obscene practice of forcing seriously ill people suffering from debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's or Dementia to sell their homes to pay for care they are morally and legally entitled to under the NHS insurance policy they have paid for throughout their lives will be abolished.

All NHS targets would be abolished, and Doctors allowed to treat patients purely on the basis of medical need. And, proper budgets Agreed with hospitals and GP's on the basis of their past demonstrable need, and not on arbitrary treasury allocations of funds which bear no relation to past experience.

Immediate savings would ensue, there being no need for vast armies of civil servants tallying up targets, and the mountains of paper work necessary to achieve nothing productive.

Appropriate resources will be allocated to train all levels of medical and necessary auxiliary staff but every effort will be made to reduce non value added expenditure. Further, recognising that virtually all hands on Doctor, Dentist and Nursing training, in Britain, is undertaken by the NHS, and not private clinics/hospitals; any private clinic/hospital first employing an NHS trained doctor dentist or nurse shall be required to reimburse the NHS 50 % of the NHS training costs.

Conversely, if Britain (the NHS) poaches foreign clinicians trained by a foreign country then the NHS would be required to pay the foreign health service 100 % of their training costs.

Fundamentally, government does not have the expertise to run the NHS, despite the huge army of civil servants (trained in whoever knows what) so they employ another army of management consultants and appoint multiple quangos. All to be abolished by the FDP, and replaced with hospital (or Group) Boards of Governors, with patient (past and present) representation. Their terms of reference to provide as needed treatment and after care of those people and patients presented to them. And, of course managing a True budget, Not an Arbitrary cash Allocation.

Maximum utilisation of all facilities would be mandatory, including 24/7 working for all disciplines. Having operating theatres, surgeons and consultants not working week ends is ludicrous. This will not require excess spending for overtime working. All staff would be allowed to choose their standard work week, ie. Jewish staff could elect to work Sunday to Thursday; Sikhs, Friday to Tuesday; Buddhists; Muslims; etc. etc. all as their custom dictates.

This would not only facilitate assured 24/7 (365 day) working, it also respects all ethnic and religious practices.

a) Recognising that some hospitals, particularly A & E departments, have problems with aggressive and disruptive patients (drunks and thugs) all such hospitals would be "serviced" by a Sub-police station; on site, manned 24/7, with police cells to detain miscreant drunks and thugs until they cool down and/or sober-up: only then would they be "treated". But, of course, they would be concurrently charged with being drunk and disorderly; or worse.

Said police stations and officers would serve their usual general policing functions but the hospital to which they were attached would simply be one of their normal regular patrol beats.

This sub-station approach would also be adopted for Fire stations with a history of confrontation with troublemakers when on call-outs. On duty police officers would routinely accompany Fire/Rescue vehicles and arrest said thugs on the spot and take them back to the Police/Fire station and lock them up for summary disposal by the courts at the next convenient court session. Penalties would be severe. It is hardly possible to think of a more obscene crime than to attack people dedicated to saving other peoples lives.


3) Prisons and Prisoner reform.

Accepting the proposition that UK prisons are overloaded and overcrowded, an obvious solution to this problem would seem to be to build more prisons. But there are budget constraints on capital expenditure. Not only that, the prison budgets have to cover prisoner rehabilitation/re-education and academic and social training for re-integration into "civilian life" upon discharge. Much of this expenditure, although socially and morally necessary, brings little or no return being poorly focussed with respect to getting prisoners back into paid employment as evidenced by the rate of re-offending.

The FDP approach solves all of these problems whilst at the same time provides the opportunity to build more prisons and also saves money for the Government on both capital expenditure and prisoner social budgets simultaneously.

The FDP proposition is that Britain should build new or extend existing prisons utilising to the maximum extent possible the "captive" on site in-mates.

Prisoner participation would be entirely voluntary but the advantages to all concerned would be immense and a worthwhile solution for everyone involved.

Firstly, it would be necessary to train-up the prisoner work force in all the many building development and construction disciplines - some may already exist to some degree. But, that exercise de-facto constitutes in-mate re-education/rehabilitation.

Secondly, it is common knowledge that in Britain there is shortage of qualified craftsmen throughout the building industry, so upon release, many ex-prisoners will be able and qualified to fill these employment vacancies. An advantage to the construction industry specifically, and to the overall economic environment; ex-prisoners and the country at large.

Thirdly, it is recognised that initially there may be some resistance from Trades Unions during the conception phase therefore the prisoners must be paid "a wage" so it is not seen to be getting labour on the cheap, and the scheme must be designed around Trade Union participation, who will, to a large extent be providing the "Teaching Team" and be participating mentors for the trainee prisoners. The wage levels would need to be realistic with some equivalence to "the going rate" less amounts for Board and Lodging. Such a training scheme would not only teach a skill but would also demonstrate the advantages of employment, and the management of their own affairs. An experience/opportunity that many may have never had. Recognising that intimidation is prevalent in prisons, the wages would not be paid in full but banked to their account; with only a weekly pocket money allowance. The "nest egg" to be paid upon release; further enforcing the advantages of a non criminal life style.

Sympathetically presented to the senior echelons of the Building Trades Unions their support of the scheme would be seen as highly socially commendable, exhibiting a high degree of long-term social responsibility for their fellow men and women, and boosting their Trade Union membership.

Finally, the Government and the prison service gets more and better prisons at lower cost. Prisoner conditions will be improved - design inputs from prisoners - prison management will benefit - prisoners will be less inclined to abuse their own work- etc. etc. and all at lower capital and revenue costs.

The FDP approach would be firstly to invite tenders from the Construction Industry to build a new prison establishment on the basis that they utilise and train prisoners (in collaboration with HMG) to the maximum extent possible.

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