|No plan, just an empty shell|
Am I alone in despairing of the sheer inanity of the level of debate between the two contenders to be our next Prime Minister. If I was a Tory member, I'd be very tempted to write none of the above on my ballot form. I find the concept that around 130,000 people who are members of the Conservative Party get to elect our new Prime Minister, when the rest of us have to wait a couple of years totally anti democratic. We are a Parliamentary democracy (allegedly) and I'd have no problem with Tory MP's electing one of their own to lead as that is how it's suppose to work. But gripes aside, there are huge issues facing us. All we are getting is waffle and U-Turns and that's before they've even started.
So what are the five big issues that they should be talking about
1. An energy security strategy. The main driver for the cost of living crisis is enegry costs. Before Margaret Thatcher, coal, electricity and gas were in public ownership. The UK was self sufficeint and we were not beholden to market fluctations in these commodities. The OPEC oil crisis of the early 1970's made us develop North Sea Oil and that gave us a degree of independence from oil price fluctations. Margaret Thatcher deemed Nationalised industries to be inefficient and provatised them all. She said that the only way to get modern infrastructure was to let the market forces decide. That was her strategy, It has failed. The UK is paying the price, quite literally for this failed ideology. We import coal. We import gas. We have minimal gas storage facilities, meaning that if there are problems with supply we have no backup. The reason for this is that the private companies do not want to invest, they just want profits. They exist to service the financial requirements of their shareholders. This is the reason why we are all seeing huge hikes in prices. A sensible campaign would address this. Many of our power companies are nationalised. They are owned by foreign governments. This makes us insecure. I find it hard to understand how the same people who want to 'take back sovereignty' are happy to have the real levers of power in the hands of foreign governments. I'd renationalise the lot. That way the profits would stay in the UK.
2. A pollution strategy. The UK is awash with pollution. Our north sea fisheries in the North of England have seen their industry devastated by pollution this year. Our rivers and streams are full of sewage. This is all down to private water companies cutting corners and not investing. We need to have proper enforcement to ensure our streams and rivers are clean and our beaches are safe. We also need a proper strategy to combat air pollution. This should be based around better access to cheaper public transport.
3. A national infrastructure strategy. We have no strategy, we just have schemes. Our rail strategy is "HS2". I support this, but it should be part of a proper integrated infrastructure strategy, that encompasses road, rail and air. Where there is congestion and bottlenecks, we should look for the best, most sustainable long term solution. I'd like to see more freight on the rails. This would remove lorries and that would mean less congestion. Airports should have easy and accessible rail links and around the clock services. The Ministry of Transport is not fit for purpose and should be replaced with a department for national infrastructure. This would mean that when we lay new roads and rail, we could include power cables, IT fibre etc as part of the plan, rather than doing everything seperately. It would save a fortune.
4. A national IT strategy. Everyone in the UK should have access to high speed broadband. Everyone should have access to IT support and training. This should be a priority. It would give UK PLC a competetive advantage over other nations.
5. A strategy for managing labour in the UK. One of my bugbears is we always talk about 'immigration'. This is a red herring. What we really should be talking about is making sure we have enough people to manage the economy and that they have the right skills. Our Universities produce students who lack the skills to do the jobs the economy needs. They are lumbered with huge debts and are often unemployable. I know, I run a business. We need a massive rethink. We need to start producing more plumbers, engineers, bricklayers, rail engineers, qualified carers and we need to start paying people properly. This is done by improving productivity. UK productivity is appalling. We need to fix this.
But you won't hear any of this from Rishi or Liz, will you?