Britain has been at the heart of human development for the last few hundred years. That is not to say that it has always got things right and that its contribution has always been beneficial but it has always adopted new thinking and has never shied away from putting progressive ideas to work. It is my conviction that it is up to Britain to offer the world a better vision for how humanity can go to the next level, how it can fix its problems, improve people's lives, bring greater well-being across the globe starting by improving our own lives at home. The ideas I have compiled into this book are not uniquely mine. They are a compendium of the thinking that is out there within this forward thinking internet generation. They are though, all ideas that we are perfectly able to adopt in this country and model as an influence to the rest of the world. What follows is a simplified breakdown of the twelve ideas and how they fit together:
New Britannia - 12 Ideas for a better Britain (and a better world)
3. Armed with the clear definition of what each of our governmental departments is there to achieve we should then go about installing a redesign of our system of democracy so that it is truly working for the benefit of all the people and not just those with wealth, power and ownership over the means of production. One of the main problems of our current system is that we hand over power to representatives. The opposite to that is that we, the people, are fully part of the decision making process. The downside to that is that we need to intellectualise the process and have specialists in the position of having more of an input in the areas they know more about, otherwise its 'mob rule'. Fortunately, a new system is currently being developed called 'MagnaSocia' which is an online platform for Direct Democracy whereby committees of specialists are gathered around one of twelve 'Pillars of Governance' to suggest how we may make progress towards efficiently achieving a set of clearly defined societal objectives. They draw up a yearly Act and the people vote it in or reject it, which means the public vote on a monthly basis on the issues themselves.
1. The ideas start with how we think of ourselves within this nation state as fellow collaborators in our collective development. The human journey has taken us through a variety of stages since tribal pre-history, members of religions, subjects within kingdoms, etc. Politics today, our Parliamentary system, has developed over hundreds of years away from absolute monarchy towards democracy with the help of influences like Magna Carta, The 1688 Bill of Rights, Paine's 'Rights of Man', The UN Declaration of Human Rights and The Human Rights Act of 1998 etc. But where we are is not the 'end of history', we need to develop our democracy further until there is no authority higher in power or status than the 'will of the people'. This has to start from the mindset of the UK people that we think of ourselves not as divided individuals but as people belonging to an 'Agreed Collective'. On this basis, as citizens, tax payers, voters, workers, consumers, innovators, all that we are, we should accept we are here together and this is the best way that we can develop, 'collectively'. From this starting point it is time that we look at redesigning how we live and how we do politics so that all people within our nation state see some prosperity.
2. Acting as an Agreed Collective we must ensure that all that we have achieved to this point, in terms of the values that UK society strives towards, should be brought together within an up to date ethical framework, a modern British Constitution that will serve as the basis for law and social cohesion. This Constitution must recognise that while UK society is made up of a range of personality types and a variety of worldviews, religions and lifestyles, it is important that we can all agree upon the same rules for the shared secular space, considering the well-being of all. It should not serve as a construct where some of the worse offenders attempt to hide behind or avoid justice so it has been suggested that the format for a British Constitution should observe an ethical hierarchy starting at the top level with 'The sanctity and protection of all human life' followed by all the values of how we best bring well-being to the lives of people, freedom from oppression, recognising the equality of citizenship etc., followed by what brings development and progress to human life and ending with widening our consciousness to the environment and the biodiversity within.
4. Once we have our democracy, we would be in a position to design social and economic policy around what best serves the people. To this end we would need to first look at our money system. Few would doubt that what we have, the idea that we can make our every day decisions about what we do with our time to what we need to buy or indeed want to buy compared to others things we choose to buy. We can make these everyday decisions because we can apply a value in terms of money. It is the ultimate in democratic thinking. Where something is in short supply the value will increase as more people compete to have it and this in turn creates more of an incentive for people to bring that or a similar product to market to 'fill the gap'. The downside of our money system is how it has developed over the last couple of hundred years. It has been wholly owned by private banks who are able to produce currency and earn the profit from interest charged. This means that all the money in our society that is brought here by debt, 97% of it, is created out of nothing, the interest charged on it must come from the wider economy which must in turn must grow less the whole system fails. It is the single thing that is driving this world to destroying itself
The British Constitution should also be the document that protects the sovereignty of our nation state by declaring that only UK law makers, under the authority of the people, is able to make and enforce UK law and that only by agreement should we be subject to law outside our borders. The Constitution should be worded so that ordinary people know their rights and their responsibilities and are encouraged towards a more compassionate and empathic view of their society. The Constitution should clearly format the responsibilities of our system of governance and should document what each of our departments of governance are working towards as societal objectives, measureable 'Human Welfare Indices', and what the citizen's responsibilities are towards those societal aims are also. The Constitution should therefore include a complete 'Social Contract'
The committee is designed to take input from the best ideas from the public and is regularly made aware of the consensus of the people on issues that are important to them. There is a construct within the committee that is responsible for informing the public of the issues being discussed in a format that is accessible and clear to understand. There is a security regulator who is responsible for investigating the process to make sure it is not being compromised by influences other than in the public interest and there is a regulator from the Justice department making sure the proposals fall within the ethical framework of the constitution. There is also a member of the Treasury who is responsible for attaching the budgetary values onto what is being discussed. More than anything, this system would be able to differentiate between what is opinion based and what is evidence based as the foundation for new thinking, quite a different approach to the way we are currently doing politics.
through overuse of resources without a care for the next generations. This current system of money is also responsible for the vast wealth divides. There is a better way to organise our money system, that is 'collectively'. The currency should belong to the people who maintain the social contract, the tax payers, the workers, the innovators, the borrowers and the savers. It is us who are underwriting the whole project as we guarantee borrowings and we bail out the banks when they would ordinarily fail. The system is built upon the productivity of the tax payer so it is the tax payer who would benefit from the upside. The money system should not be in the hands of a half dozen private institutions that behave more like a cartel and who currently have a huge amount of influence over our political representatives. This must change as soon as we can change the political system itself. We could control our economy better by having a series of 12 state banks, one for each of the main 'Pillars of Governance' who in turn have their defined societal objectives to achieve. The money made as profit from the interest charged could pay for better public services and/or lower taxes. It would also mean that money gets invested where it is required for the progress of humanity, in sustainable living, in renewable energy, in progressive education etc. The subject of how money comes into the economy is one that is hardly spoken about or understood but thanks to organisations like PositiveMoney.Org more people are finding out how the system works and are demanding change.
6. We must redesign our society so that we are no longer driving increasingly headlong into climate catastrophy and that means rapidly replacing the old technology relying of fossil fuels with a new sustainable infrastructure. We all need to learn how to live symbiotically with the environment before we do irreversible damage. This needs a totally new approach and new leadership as well. If we have the changes to our democracy as well as to the money system then these things would be better achievable. We must better organise our system of recycling in order to respect the defined 12 Ecological Boundaries and see them appear on the balance sheets. We need to turn our homes into producers of foods as well as producers of energy in order that each households is closer to the ecological cycle. Within the UK we currently only produce 60% of our national food needs. That means we rely on food imports often from the very poorest countries that we are stripping of their surplus value. Our cities have been built upon the most fertile topsoil so in order to practise living symbiotically we must bring back a usable topsoil to the surface or our concreted buildings. When we give up our part in the production of food and energy we also
7. While we are creating this new 'Green Boom' within the economy we must ensure that it is not only the 1% who take ownership of the emerging markets just as they have since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Instead we need to make sure more people have their share of the system of capitalism in a more distributed form. Each household producing some of its food and energy needs would instantly distribute that part of the capitalist process to more people, this is part of what is described as PopCapitalism, a more distributed form of Capitalism to the population. If we had our democracy then those largest corporations would not have such a sway over public policy and business could be better encouraged to allow the innovators and entrepreneurs to go it on their own rather than sign up to a multi-national. It would also mean that we recognise that there are better ways of managing our national industries, where there are monopolies like rail, utilities, post, etc., so that efficiency is achieved without a profit margin being taken. It is though currently nobody can think of better ways to run business efficiently if it is not private, this is a fallacy and must change.
8. So far the ideas have been how we help ourselves in the world. This is based on the fact that as voters and tax payers within this nation we already have the means to make the change towards a better democracy. It is not to say that we think of ourselves as superior in any way to the rest of the world as we make these improvements. We should accept the 'oneness of humanity', that all people of the world are equal and we should help positively influence those nations to modernise in the way that we could. People of other nations would have to organise themselves so that they also live within the value system that means something to them, we can only be an influence. But where there is a need from others we should always be ready to help where we can. If we transfer our energy system to one of complete sustainability and our food system to producing for our own needs then we would no longer rely on other nations. Instead we would have an abundance with which to help others. We should then be in a position where we completely redesign our military powers so that they are providers of humanitarian aid as well as protective military services. We should also be the organisers of a United People's forum to challenge the services provided by the UN.
5. Linked to this new economic model is the idea that each of our variety of taxes, rather than being pooled, should be assigned to a particular department. Once we have a governmental structure of the people consisting of 12 Departments, each with its own societal objective measurable as a complex Human Welfare Index, then we could pay our taxes directly to where it is required. For example, our VAT could go directly to the Health Department where VAT rates could be decided upon based on the healthiness of the food thus financially incentivising good eating so that it saves the Health Services money in the long term. As well as the efficiency this would bring it would also narrow down any argument that compares a decision within one department with another department say 'more nurses or Trident Missiles?'. The argument would simply be higher VAT or limited service and lower VAT. The department's job would be 'how to best achieve our societal targets within our tax budget', the department would be judged on this performance. We already pay our Council Tax directly to local governmental services so it would be a case of rolling this idea out to other tax types.
Corporate Taxes could pay directly towards Education where the demands of business for an educated workforce are listened to. It would also give more of a moral argument to tax avoiding businesses where schools can directly appeal to those global corporations who are paying a fraction of the tax of standard UK businesses. Business Rates could be paid directly towards Infrastructure, Transport & Communications so that the demands of business needs would be the pressure on that department to provide a good service for the levels of tax charged. Our NIC contributions should go towards a national fund to pay directly for pensions. Our Income Tax should be paid directly towards our societal Welfare needs. All these figures more or less add up with our current rates of tax income to government spending. The difference in this case would be that each governmental department would be fed from their own state bank which in turn would be fed from its own type of taxation. Any profit made from charging interest on bank loans would contribute towards that governmental department better reaching its societal aims. If the department wanted to invest in future technology then it would simply borrow from its bank at a low interest rate knowing that it had its tax coming in all the time. Each bank would have its own positive cash flow and would be able to secure the loan against the department's governmental assets but this is more of a technicality. This whole system would work in practical terms much the same way as we use money today only it would mean that more of that money made in profit on interest would hit the lower end of the economy where it is needed more and would circulate more rather than just increasingly pushing up high end asset prices. It's an idea that has been described as 'pure genius'.
enslave ourselves to others for our most basic needs whereas we have all the technology we required to design buildings that produce energy from solar panels and small wind turbines as well as hosting small food producing gardens and space for chickens, bees, and a host of other wildlife. This is not just a utopian ideal, this is a very practical solution to many societal problems of unhealthy eating, disenfranchised communities, global wars, abuses over resources and much more.
9. As we redesign what our military is doing in other countries we need to look at reforming these institutions of authority to meet the needs of the 21st century and provide the kind of service that the people expect of them. Many are unhappy that both the military and police have too many powers without policies in place that hold them to account for their actions. This requires a fundamental change in the institutional structures in these constructs as well as within Parliament. The Department of Justice should be overseeing all aspects of the Constitutional reforms as part of their legislative role. Independant to this should be a Judiciary wing that is responsible for safeguarding the Constitution (with the existing Monarchy as symbolic head of the Judiciary). The Judiciary could then have further powers to oversee a '2nd Chamber' replacing The House of Lords, consisting of 'Regulators'. These Regulators, comprising of existing regulatory roles such as the H&S Executive, ACAS, Oftel/Ofcom etc., would have more teeth with which to act. A role could be created within the
constructs of our military and police that held these institutions to account in real time. Rather than relying on the existing Police Complaints Commission for example there would already be a separate entity monitoring Police activity which would have their authority directly from the Judiciary to carry our their work bringing accountability to these institutions.
10. Many are also concerned that our Justice system does not always deliver justice. Long term criminals seem to stay in the system and keep on re-offending. Change is required. There has to be a fundamental rethink on Justice to accomodate what the effect has been on society as well as the individual, the policing services and the penal system. Justice is not revenge. It is not harsh ongoing punishment. When an individual causes harm to others in society they are taken out of society for a period of time deemed to be suitable for the crime. They are stripped of their freedom within society. At the same time we also strip the individual of their means of productivity where there is one and this is where the problem lies. We should allow the individual to work and produce an income. This income would be theirs to manage over the period of their incarceration but it should be used to repay their debt to society, to the victim through a compensation scheme, to the policing services for their role in apprehending their crime, to the Justice system for processing/judging the crime, for the penal system for providing them with the base to live and work from and finally to society for absorbing this crime. The offender must be able to work their way back
to a 'redeemable' position both in terms of the idea of their debt to society as well as for their own sense of redemption as 'working off' the wrong they have done. During the course of their work they would be acquiring working skills and would be able to continue earning upon their release thus being in a position to maintain themselvesa and their freedom within a lifestyle that is compatible with the wider society. The fundamental change is to recognise the 'cause and effect' of the crime on all involved, not just the victim, society and the public services but also for the criminal themselves. It would deter other criminals in the same way and it would allow the criminal to become a contributing memebr of society once more.
11. Our Health Services......
12. Many aspects of our lives have changed with the introduction of new technologies and new thinking. Much of these changes have not made their way into teaching and learning because there is a delay effect in process change through our current political system. Education as well as our other institutional infrastructure for progressiveness nust be set free to attain all it can without being tied to the administerial processes of governance.
Of course all of these ideas are empty and without meaning unless others see value in them. Only when enough people realise the value in these ideas will any worthwhile change start to happen. That in itself is a long journey and there are a number of ways to start. Firstly, you can be the change, to take control over the aspects of your life that effects the environment and others in society. Beyond this you could join Thr Humanist Party and help us get enough MPs in Parliament to be able to effect change. We would also encourage you to sign up to MagnaSocia to start demonstrating how a better democracy is possible.