An Alternative Queen’s Speech

by Ray_North on May 9, 2012

Yes, alright, I know everyone’s doing them – but, here’s mine, based upon the type of stuff I’ve been banging on about since I started writing on these hallowed pages. It is a programme based upon my, admittedly and unashamedly liberal belief in a society that cares for everyone and seeks to nurture everyone’s individual talents.

Ok – here goes.

State Education Bill: This will hand back complete power for education into the hands of local authorities, remove the charitable status of public schools (with a view to fading them all out within the next eight years), and make it compulsory for education authorities to place pupils within a locally defined geographically local school to their home (except in certain circumstances). It will also include provisions to improve the discipline in schools with increased sanctions on parents whose children misbehave and greater powers for school governors to exclude miscreant children.

Drug Licensing Bill:This will repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act and replace it with system of licensing for all categorised substances, licenses will be available to pharmacists. It will no longer be a crime to possess categorised drugs, however, supplying categorised drugs without a licence will be punishable with a mandatory term of imprisonment. Those being prescribed a categorised drug would have to undergo drug education.

National Investment Bank Bill:This will set up a state owned Investment Bank that would loan money to small and medium sized businesses.

Lords Reform Bill:This will replace the upper chamber of the House of Lords with an elected upper House that also has a regional element to it that would be subordinate to the House of Commons, but with powers of scrutiny.

Employment Rights and Executive Pay Bill:This will set into place a system of compulsory works councils that will also have a say in the remuneration of their Directors. There would also be provisions to encourage companies to set up creches and child care assistance.

Banking Bill:This will set into place targets concerning lending for all banks, and split the investment arms of banks from the domestic high street part.

Social Housing Bill:This will start the process of regenerating sink estates, by returning the power to control local social housing to local authorities and allowing them to raise funds to build new social housing and regenerate existing estates.

Regeneration of Town Centres Bill:This will force local authorities to reduce rates on local business premises and town centre shops in areas where shop premises have been empty for a period of time, it will also encourage the giving of grants and assistance to local enterprises wishing to set up in town centres.

There – eight off the top of my head – I’m sure others can think of lots more.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie Kaye May 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Carlsberg don’t do Queen’s Speeches…

…but, if they did, they would probably be the best in the World!!!

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dicky May 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Your state Education Bill is shocking. I went to the best council controlled comp in my town and it was utterly terrible. State control in education leads to a dramatic drop in standards– why should people be forced to send their kids to such schools- this idea is completely illiberal. Free schools are the way forward. State funded but autonomous. Your idea is too force all people to lower standards.

Agree with House of Lords Reform and Drug Licensing.

National Bank– what makes you think the state can invest money well? History proves that the state general mal-invests! What makes you think people should be forced to pay tax for the state to then mal-invest?

Your idea of forcing the banks to lower their lending standards is stupid. Everyone on the left blames the banks for the current crises when in fact most of it came from state interference- such as the Clinton administration forcing banks to lower lending standards through numerous acts (creating subprime) and various states around the world printing money (distorting money supply) and fudging interest rates (to encourage ”growth”)— shame it was unsustainable growth based on mal-investments- which has been proven.

Employment Rights and Executive Pay Bill: Do you want the brightest to stay in the UK or not? Yes to workers have some say; no to workers having ultimate say! Also, forcing crèches on businesses? Do you want jobs or not?

Social Housing Bill: What are you talking about?! we don’t need more social housing, i,e people depending on other people for housing- we need more people owning property (private property) and thus their own destiny.

Regeneration of Town Centres Bill: good; but local council should be doing this already… because according to you the state knows best 😉
A real understanding of economics dictates that every pound spent by the state could be spent better by someone operating in the private sector (read free, independent people). Why would anyone want more money in the hands of the state is beyond me.

If you had your way the UK would slip into unsustainable social welfare economic oblivion. People like you need to start up a business and see what’s like to take that risk; creating REAL money, wealth and jobs in sustainable fashion.

P.s you’re not a liberal, you’re a social democrat. Smith, Locke, Mill and Hayek would be turning in their graves!

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Ray North May 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Dicky,
Thanks for taking the time to comment so thoroughly on my alternative Queen’s Speech.
First, I have to say that I’m intensely relaxed about making Hayek at al spin in their graves. I’m not fond of being tagged, but, yep, Social Democrat is probably right.

Let’s start with education – the current system of education in this country is as feudal as it is wasteful and unfair – the notion that some kids get a better start because of their parents good fortune/hard work/talent is simply wrong. Whilst the end result of the free schools you champion will simply be massive social division – rioting, crime and all the other social evils that we currently put up with. I believe that every kid deserves a chance and that by giving children such equality, you create a more equal society – you also create a more constructive society because kids are not left to rot at an early age.
You are critical of state education, but have you considered that the problem with state education in our country is because it has been left to wither as the poor disabled cousin of Private education.

Dicky, the market isn’t working – banks are not investing and there is a crippling lack of development and research in our country; pockets of the country are turning into economic backwaters. A well run NIB would provide an engine for a coordinated national economic and business programme – a bit like the Enterprise Zones (some of which were very successful), only with more weight.

As for your contention that the banking crisis was caused by too much state interference – well, I think we both know that that argument is, on any level, a little bit flawed don’t we.

Moving on to the idea of Workers Councils having a say in Executive Pay – well, it happens very succesfully in Germany. I find the idea that bankers have to be millionaires quite ludicrous – banks are not football teams and bankers are not star centre forwards – if a banker wants to go elsewhere then let him, I’m pretty sure that there are many others who can count money just as well (I exaggerate for effect, I know) – I get paid peanuts in comparison, it took me six years to train to do my job!

Social housing – I’m afraid that we do need social housing – when Thatcher sold off the Council Houses, she was setting in motion house price inflation that has contributed much to the problems we have today. Social housing is as important today as it has ever been. But, the point I make is about the quality of social housing – I don’t know if you ever have the misfortune to visit some of poorest estates, they are often scary places, where people are imprisoned by crime and poverty and ignorance – these places need regeneration and I can’t see the private sector doing a great deal to encourage it, because, quite frankly, there’s no money in it.

You say that I need to start a business – well, sadly, I’m too busy in the Crown Court defending the people who have been overwhelming let down and forgotten by a society that seems to believe that everything can be sorted out by ‘creating wealth.’ It can’t. It hasn’t. You’ve had your chance Dicky – you and your ilk have had the last twenty years of low interest rates, steady inflation, limited trade union interference and as much free market encouragement as you need – and what are we left with!? A nation where people riot on the streets and we can’t afford to send people to University. You failed mate.

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George_East May 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Dicky – deary deary me, what kind of right wing nonsense have you been imbibing (having said that I can see what you mean about the poverty of your education).

Taking it through as quickly as I can.

1. The academic evidence on the effect of Free Schools on education system in Sweden (the country where this idea originated) is that they lower standards in the education system as a whole. Even their chief promoter and sometime commentor on this site, Toby Young, has admitted that the ‘evidence is still out’. Free schools are an inefficient way of diverting resources to middle class parents and private sector organisations. There is precisely zero evidence that a state run education sector ‘forces all people to lower standards’. The highest education standards in the world are found in Finland, which has a state run education system.

2. At the moment despite the banks being given free money by the Bank of England, they are not lending to private businesses at even the modest targets set out in Project Merlin. They are instead using the money to correct their balance sheets. A national investment bank is a perfectly sensible way of by-passing the commercial banks and making funds available to small and medium size businesses who are currently unable to obtain credit at preferential rates reflecting the 0.5% interest rates that have been prevailing since 2009. It is difficult to envisage how any state owned but commercially run investment bank could possibly mal-invest more than the major banks did (or did you not notice the financial crisis in 2008-9). No one is suggesting that the tax payer pay anything here.

3. The lending targets idea is just making the concord that is Project Merlin law (though I would personally make the targets much higher). Without liquidity in the system the economy is going nowhere fast.

4. As for the Clinton forcing banks to lower lending standards, you really have been swallowing the silly pills. This is an absurd canard put about by the lunatic right in the US. There is no basis whatever for it being the cause of the financial crisis. The Clinton administration did not create sub-prime mortgages.

5. I am old enough to remember when the right used to worship at the feet of Milton Friedman. If he were alive he would be prescribing the printing of money just like the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve (but sadly not the ECB) have been doing. We know this because that is exactly what he prescribed for Japan in the 1990s when it was faced with a similar situation that faces much of the world economy now (zero or near zero interest rates and therefore nowhere further for conventional monetary policy to go). Now, that monetarism does not provide the answer that they want the right is off worshiping at the altar of Ayn Rand . The intellectual dishonesty is frankly embarrassing.

6.Which interest rates have been fudged? All of the leading reserve banks are and have been since the late 1990s at the latest independent of government and have set interest rates in order to meet inflation targets (which the right always said was the right approach – see again Milton Friedman). What is being fudged? Your point here makes no sense.

7. What on earth do you think has ‘been proven’ and what is the basis for the proof? The only thing that has been proven over the last 5 years is the bankruptcy of the faith based economics that have dominated the western world since 1979/1980.

8. Workers with places on boards is hardly revolutionary communism. The Germans have the system. You might have noticed they also have the strongest economy in Europe, falling unemployment and decent economic growth. We have none of these things.

9. The ‘best and the brightest’ to stay? This is a perennial threat that has always proven to be utterly empty. There is no evidence whatever that there would be a mass exodus of irreplaceable talent if executive pay was subject to greater scrutiny and accountability than it is now. For godsake even the coalition has recognised that shareholders need to be empowered to a greater extent than they are now to rein in an executive pay system which rewards failure and has got completely out of control. How do you justify an average 49% pay rise for FTSE Chief Executives in a year when the stock market fell?

10. We need more housing full stop. The fetishisation of private home ownership has resulted in asset bubbles and disaster everywhere it has occurred (the US, the UK, Ireland, Spain). People need places to live, private sector rents are at record high levels, mortgages cannot be obtained and private home ownership is out of the reach (or is just too risky in insecure times) for very many. Building social housing is not just sensible it is wholly necessary if we are to deal with the current and growing housing crisis.

11. Oh dear. You have no understanding of economics whatever. Even John Cochrane, the doyen of the Chicago school does not subscribe to what you say. Full Ricardian equivalence just does not apply in a depressed economy. If private individuals won’t spend because they are fearful for their futures and if businesses cannot export because people in other countries are fearful for their futures, then the state is all that is left and must step in as spender of last resort. The crowding out argument in current conditions is simply false.

12. The UK economy is already slipping towards economic oblivion because of a government which subscribes to some (though thankfully not all of what you say). The critical thing is to maintain aggregate demand. You don’t do that by cutting back public spending in the middle of a recession.

13. It is for Ray to self-define, but neither you nor the individuals you list have a monopoly on the word ‘liberal’ nor indeed I suspect would those individuals you list subscribe to all the views you set out.

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