PM Liz: Hear the voice of the people of Britain
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The cost of living crisis is the biggest challenge that any PM has faced in a generation and today we urge Liz Truss to take radical action to ensure people can heat their homes and feed their families in the looming winter.
Soaring energy bills and eye-watering inflation not only threaten every family in the land but pose a life and death challenge to many of our smallest businesses and pubs too - on whom our communities and many of our jobs depend.
Add to that an NHS in crisis, roads and rail unfit for the 21st century, a woeful shortage of affordable housing, law and order in disarray, sewage being discharged in our seas and rivers, a failure to control our borders, and a desperate shortage of skilled labour - and the outlook for the most seasoned of political leaders could not be more daunting.
So today, this newspaper spells out some key changes that should top Ms Truss's To Do list.
They include a wholesale streamlining of central government and fat cat bureaucrats, an energy cost furlough scheme, a radical overhaul of the NHS and dental services, a new approach to law and order, punitive sanctions on utility companies that don't protect their customers, a real levelling up and empowerment of local communities - and laying the foundations for the creation of a modern nation.
A failure to move swiftly and decisively in all these areas will not merely be a lost opportunity - it could cost thousands of lives and cause untold hardship this winter.
New PM, New Britain
One of the more hysterical national newspapers heralded the growing despair with the headline ‘What has become of our country?’
It is not just energy bills, a struggling NHS, sewage on the beaches and a disgracefully absentee Government these last few months.
It is more fundamental than that - the inability of the country and its political leadership to embrace radical change when the current model is not working.
Instead of constantly pointing out the problems, this newspaper has a reviving manifesto that the new Prime Minister - any prime minister - should take to heart.
1 Energy cost furlough scheme: It worked to safeguard jobs during the pandemic so why should it not be adopted during the energy crisis to save lives and businesses. It could be combined with an education programme to promote energy saving and increased incentives for green energy schemes.
2 Health and social care services: We may all cherish the NHS but it is time to admit that the current model is bust and look elsewhere for a more creative and participatory long term approach. The German model allows for several tiers of taxation so that those who pay more receive premium benefits, much as the private insurance sector but without the profit element. For later life there could be heritance tax incentives for property equity release so that more people can independently fund their care.
3 Police: Like the NHS the model is broken. It needs a creative solution making local forces truly accountable - perhaps on an elected sheriff basis as in the United States; a single national crime division and a single transport police responsible in part for overseeing the smooth and efficient running of the road system.
4 Misery tax: Responsible citizens should be free from worry about the essential services - utilities, transport and communication. The providers, usually private enterprise, need to be held accountable. There should be zero tolerance for the excuse that poor service and high prices - and windfall profits in circumstances completely devoid of any initiative of the operators - are necessary in order to re-invest. Government must prevent providers of essential services from taking advantage of the tolerance of the British consumer. The limit has been reached - polluted beaches as the dirty man of Europe, airport and rail chaos and energy companies making out like bandits on the back of human misery. The private companies must fix it on pain of punishing taxation and/or being taken into public ownership.
5 Government: There is too much at national level and not enough locally and regionally. Our newspapers have recorded with pride the efforts of communities across the country to rebuild better after the pandemic. Cities the size of some European countries, like Manchester and Birmingham, and other parts of the country need devolution max that will drive levelling up.To balance this central Government needs electoral and constitutional reform to slim down.A House of Commons a third of the size would suffice, presiding over a more federal structure. The House of Lords should be replaced with 100 publicly spirited members, representing the cream of achievement in relevant segments, serving a fixed term and properly supported by a research and legal secretariat.They would do it for the honour of contributing their wealth of knowledge to the nation and not for the title of Lord that should be scrapped. A similarly slimmed down Monarchy would be constitutionally reformed to detach it from the political process and limit it to the ceremonial.
6 Levelling up: This cannot be achieved by the tokenism of central government which has hitherto twisted arms to get businesses and institutions to relocate from the South East. Devolved administrations with energetic local leadership, empowered with incentives including taxation to attract businesses, will do a much better job.
7 Culture and heritage: Successive governments have dumbed down the nation - reinforcing the class system mentality that the serious arts are for the social elite. The TV tax should be scrapped as it supports what is becoming a minority popular entertainment broadcaster and direct Government funding should support public service arts content from multiple providers, national and regional. The media and culture must be levelled up alongside the economy and education is a part of that - giving every child the right to learn an instrument would be a good starting point.
8 Creation of a modern nation: The people of the UK are already ahead of the recent mediocre political leadership. We are a tolerant people, an inclusive people but not given credit for progressive attitudes and aspirations. Instead the traditional parties hark back to an imperial, industrial and cultural heritage that today belongs only to the TV screen. The nation will not be conned by the incessant cry that Britain is the greatest and all foreigners are rubbish.
The British deserve leaders that can imagine and deliver a fairer and more equal future. Levelling up is it, but in all its forms - economic, social, cultural and geographical. This will only happen if there is a new structure of government, heavier on expertise and public service and lighter on personality and party in-fighting.
Perhaps that is the only thing that the past turbulent and fumbling years has taught us - personal political ambition is unavoidable but the people and public duty must come first if the nation is to grow strong.
The new Prime Minister should test herself against that measure.