I used to love you. I’d like us to get back together, but you’ll have to change. It’s not me it’s you.
Once, long ago, that time before, when you weren’t in power, I loved you then. Not just enough to vote for you, but enough to put leaflets through letterboxes to get other people to vote for you. And then they did, and then you changed. It all went to your head. You forgot about the people. The people like me. You started to worry about the rich people and the business people and the banks and the city boys, the greedy capitalists. You changed. I didn’t like it.
Now, though, I’m a bit stuck. Because you are all I’ve got. But it feels like there is only one café in the UK right now. And the only thing on the menu is Cow Shit or Pig Shit. We’ve had four and half years of Cow Shit, and you’d think by now I’d be ready to try the Pig Shit again. But I’m not quite. I can still remember the nasty taste it left in my mouth last time. We are in a ‘dictatorship of no alternatives’. But you could be the alternative. If you wanted to. If you tried a little bit harder to get out of the loop of Westminster policies. If you stopped brushing the dirt off the next zombie policy to be resurrected and started using the creativity and imagination of your members to create real, new, alternative ways of doing things. But you got sucked in, didn’t you. To the old boys club. To the world where everyone got the same kind of education, did the same jobs, came from the same backgrounds and all that separates you is the colour of your ties. You need to get back to your roots. Listen to the people. The real people, the 95% not the 5%. Only you can do this now. Only you can do this in time for the next election. Only you can prevent the catastrophe of a Conservative-UKIP coalition.
What I’d like you to do is this. FOCUS.
Creating an alternative to the capitalism of the market economy
Yes it will be hard work and it will take a while. But it is possible to have an economy not based on the market. Not based on growth. There are perfectly respected Professors of Economics publishing books on this – you should read some. Maybe give it a go.
And you really, really can’t sign up to TTIP. To do so would be to sell the people, whose democratic freedoms you are supposed to protect, into slavery – owned by big global business. It would also be seriously bad for the planet. Yes, I know you say you’ve asked for changes, but just reject it. Walk away from the table and see who follows you. It will be a brave act but someone has to do it. Make it you.
Not some crowd-pleasing policy or pledge on waiting times. Really focus. Sort out the major issues. You say you are committed to turning back the clock – to preventing the privatisation of the NHS. You need to be really clear about what you mean by that. You need to actually do it. Put it all back together as an integrated NATIONAL health service, owned by the people, designed for the people (and that includes the people who work there).
Start with the staffing. It’s a huge cost. It’s the thing that people want: to see the right person, within the right time frame. So you need to work on better ways of staffing the NHS. Maybe that means joining it back together for employment purposes. If everyone worked for the NHS (not different trusts and organisations) you couldn’t have the situation where someone can be made redundant with a handsome pay off and then start work in the same hospital in a new job the next week. If you were better able to use your staff flexibily, you wouldn’t need so many temp workers and locums. If you get the staffing right, then a lot of issues around waiting times, availability, dedicated doctors for the elderly just melt away. .
It is so essential to every person in this country – you really need to get this one right – not just tinker about with it. This is where ‘equal opportunity’ starts.
Consistency – that’s what we need now. It’s pointless to have a national curriculum that only applies to less than 50% of schools. It’s fine to have choice, but there need to be minimum curriculum requirements for all schools whether they are faith,f ree, academies, state or private. Where changes are made they can’t just be implemented at the drop of a hat – people need time to phase things in and out – this is somebody’s future in your hands – you can’t just change the rules on a whim. You need to make sure that creativity and the arts are part of EVERY child’s education. Creativity not just in the way that lessons are delivered, but a real focus on encouraging and engaging pupils in classes whose sole focus is creativity: art, drama, dance, music, creative writing. Giving every one the ability to develop and express their creativity will enhance their futures whether it is as a parent, an engineer, a teacher, a scientist, an entrepreneur, a financial sector worker or someone who is part of the ever growing and world dominant UK creative sector. It will give them the adaptability to change and cope with whatever life throws at them.
You need to relook at University fees and student loans. They are stifling diversity, they are stifling the arts. Student loans don’t work, they cost the country more than grants. They set recent graduates up for poverty and that prevents them from really getting the best from their education.
Do something about poverty
Encourage measures that promote social cohesion
Provide real help – not just policies and legislation – that enable local people to make a difference locally.
Support arts and creativity nationally and locally and ensure that support is fairly apportioned across the country.
Don’t ignore the environment. Without a planet your political rhetoric is meaningless.
There is so much more…
But let’s start with this. Let’s start with you coming back to the people, let’s start with you standing up to global corporations and the needs of the 5%. Let’s start with you actually saying something real not just something you had a chat with a real person about. Start with actually stating what you stand for – not just what you might do. No-one believes politicians’ pledges anyway. So why not just tell us about the future you want to see, and the things that you will do and the things you need us to do, to get us all there. And I really hope, after all this time, that somewhere in your heart, the future that you see is a better, fairer, more sustainable world.