The party defines itself by the five core policies. So that members and non-members clearly understand what the party stands for, these cannot be changed. At present they are principles the details of which will be decided according to the party constitution
All other policies will be decided according to the constitution
Below is a provisional list of headings for the Mani-festo each with a link to a page
That page contains provisional ideas for discussion.
Read this, as work in progress. Only DRP paid up members can comment and so if you want to have your say:
Constitutional Court Supreme Court
Functions of Government Public Services Board Monetary Policy Board
National planning strategies
Coordination of regions
ISSUES DISCUSSED IN THE NEWSLETTERS NOT LINKED TO THE MANIFESTO
British Republican History
The word “deprivation” is often heard on the news or in political statements.
We often hear that someone comes from a “deprived background” or that this is a “deprived” area.
“Deprivation” is an ongoing part of the political and economic vocabulary as if we can expect the reality of deprivation to be a permanent feature of our society.
There is no serious attempt to tackle deprivation as something that is inflicted on people. If the main parties discuss the matter it is usually to blame the “deprived” for their condition.
Far from recoiling from the word, politicians use it without any shame or horror. They see no shame that a rich country like Britain should tolerate living with deprivation in the 21st century.
Most of the drudgery and hardship of deprivation, although ever present, does not impact on those of us who are not deprived.
But occasionally it does, as with the widespread Summer riots of 2011. The rioters were mostly people with a grievance about how they thought society treated them
According to a report the following year a participant in the riots said: “those were the best three days of my life”.
This begs the obvious question: if these were the best days of your life, what must the rest of your life be like? If we did not know before just how awful a lot of people’s lives are in Britain, then the riots certainly told us.
Deprivation for most is a trap. Rioting was a way of seeming to escape that trap just for a few days.
The coalition’s response is not to see deprivation as a problem to be addressed, but to use it a means of getting votes. The demonization of the “deprived” and the “underclass” is part of the government’s message to the voters that they will be tough on “scroungers”.
That is as far as their thinking goes.
The great heroin of all three parties, Margaret Thatcher, famously said: "there is not such thing as society". We cannot remind ourselves of this too often, for it is still fundamental to the thinking of the main parties.
If you do not believe in society, it follows that you do not need to see yourself as having any thing in common with those “deprived” of normal standards of life.
You have no shared identity with them.
The biggest barrier to understanding what deprivation means is to see it not as a situation that traps people, but rather as one that they chose.
This is the standard narrative of the current political classes. It enables a reversal of the vocabulary whereby, instead of being “deprived”, people are now “scroungers”.
They should get off benefits and get a job.
But what is never put into the equation is the degradation that has occurred in the quality of jobs available to the unskilled or semi-skilled.
A Thatcher policy, which is still very much alive, that has done much to degrade the quality of employment, is that of "contracting out".
Local authorities used to provide a good supply of jobs that provided security, status and stability. Now as much work as possible is bought from outside contractors.
Some of these firms may be well run but many of them serve only the interests of their owners and directors with little regard for stable and meaningful job provision for their employees.
All too many have been found engaged in scandalous or criminal activities
The degradation of lower paid jobs can be represented by the following imaginary, but entirely realistic accounts, of someone in a pub who is telling friends about the job they have just landed.
In the sixties or seventies it might have gone like this: “I have just landed a nice job. There is a good bunch of guys there. Most of them have been there for more than ten years and some since they left school. I’ve been given a uniform and the company have just ordered some new equipment. The pay is not that great but the security and pensions make up for it. The job means I can marry my girl and go on to have kids”.
Today it would go like this: “Having been hassled by the Job Seekers office I have had to take a job with the Fly By Night Cleaning Co. They are not too sure how long the job will last but they expect their current contract to last for at least eighteen months. I can see that things are a bit dodgy as all the equipment is second hand with their logo stuck on it. There is a high turnover of staff and so there is no one to ask if you have a question. Still I make do and no one really checks your work. I’ll stick it out until I can find something better”.
The other aspect of this is that the second type of job is perfect for immigrants who have no long term interest in the country and for whom short term contracts are fine. And so problems of immigration combine with a degraded work culture in a toxic mix.
The quality of the employment on offer to the low paid is never considered relevant. But it certainly is to those living in deprivation.
A job is not a way out of their situation but may well be a route to something worse.
But as well as addressing the quality of work, we need also to see the problem from the point of view of support we give to those deprived of job opportunities.
For the current political establishment, any money spent on benefits is a pure waste. They cannot see that support for people in difficulties is part of the way out of the problem.
The shear waste of talent and energy that is lost because people are brought up in an environment that deprives them of opportunity is never mentioned as a problem. The economic loss is never counted. Only the burden of state benefits is.
David Sainsbury (once part of the New Labour project but now thoroughly distanced from it) writes in his new book Progressive Capitalism (p60): “ ... a fully fledged welfare state ... may be essential for innovation ... because the protection it provides makes workers less fearful of redundancy and as a result increases work flexibility in a dynamic economy.”
The consensus sees benefits as an unfortunate but necessary sticking plaster measure that had to be applied to an economic problem.
Lord Sainsbury's view of them as a positive instrument of economy policy is way outside of current thinking. He comes to his conclusion not by abstract theorising but by looking at other more successful economies.
The idea that we could not afford such a policy is all part of the negative attitude that dominates political and economic thinking,
We describe elsewhere how a reformed structure of government finance would pay for investing in the human resource in the way Sainsbury sets out.
But we also need to go further and address citizen’s rights
In 2008 the House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights published a Report entitled “A Bill of Rights for the UK?”
The report says emphatically that rights should include “positive rights”, That is, rights to a certain level of wellbeing.
But what did it mean by “positive rights”?
Prior to a century ago, liberty was mostly conceived in terms of “negative liberty”. The aims of Bills of Rights was to purely give the individual protection against the possibility of overweening intrusive and interfering power of the state.
It was understood that the state needed to interfere in our lives to some extent but this was to be kept to the minimum.
It remains the view of many today that the protection of human rights by a Bill of Rights should be confined to this concept of negative liberty.
In this, the Parliamentary Joint Committee report of 2008 was going against the grain. Needless to say its recommendations have not been taken up.
Its proposals were however not original. A noted precedent for advocating positive rights was made in 1941, by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his “Four Freedoms” speech in his State of the Union address in which he said that we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms. The third one of these was “freedom from want”.
By referring to a “freedom from want” Rossevelt was seeing state provision for those in need not as a “benefit” or a “handout” but as a “positive right” or “positive freedom” each citizen should enjoy.
As Roosevelt said "Necessitous men are not free men”. Political freedom cannot exist without freedom from want.
In other words, political enfranchisement means very little without economic enfranchisement.
As long as we live with deprivation in our midst we will deny those deprived of what should be basic human rights.
David Sainsbury gave the practical economic case for economic enfranchisement.
We should go further and join with the 2008 Parliamentary Committee put the Human Rights case for it.
The issue of deprivation is as fundamental as that.
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