Tuesday, April 26, 2005

UKIP says

Stop paying the £30m a day to Brussels and instead, immediately increase state pensions by £25 per week.

Exile says: This is really the main purpose of UKIP - to break away from the EU. This is a populist measure, and sounds great - after all, who wouldn't rather give money to pensioners than to a faceless bureaucracy? However, the UK benefits substantially by being part of the EU - that £25 per week to pensioners affordable immediately would be at the cost of substantial economic benefits lost in the coming years.

scrap political correctness so people can speak their mind

Exile says: I am no friend of political correctness, but it is part of the culture, now - if anybody thinks that it will disappear simply by electing different MP's, they have another think coming.

cut crime with zero tolerance, effective deterrents and more disciplined prisons

Exile says: Cut crime - how? Zero tolerance of what? If the risk of life imprisonment isn't an effective deterrent, then what would be? Presumably the death penalty - see the last bullet point. Is crime lower in states that have the death penalty? This is just sound-biting.

give matrons full authority for hospital hygiene

Exile says: We have seen a proliferation of management in the health service - money has been poured into new initiatives - foundation hospitals, Agenda for Change. Loads of extra resources for relatively little benefit. Both UKIP and the Conservatives say - "Put back that level of line management - that will make a difference." It might do. But you have to realise that the nature of nursing has changed in the last 30 years. People used to become nurses because they cared about people - it was a vocation. These days, caring about people isn't considered to be enough - you have to be career minded - you get a degree in nursing; you have to have continual professional development. The senior nurses now aren't necessarily people who have many years of experience of caring for people, and have a semi-intuitive feel for how to make a ward work based on that experience - which is presumably the sort of thing that you need in a matron. And to start selecting people for that role would require overturning much that has been set up in the last 15 years. That may be good - but it isn't the easy, cheap solution that UKIP and the Conservatives think it is.

let the people decide on moral issues like capital punishment and genetics through binding referendums

Exile says: a few problems here. Firstly, and pedantically, it ought to be "referenda", but even journalists say that, so hardly a big issue. Secondly, presumably the moral issue that they would like to consider the electorate's view on is genetic engineering. It would have been nice if somebody who knew what they were talking about could have been involved in drafting the leaflet. And would it really be wise to allow people who think "genetics" is the moral issue to make the decision on it? Thirdly, is a majority decision always a right one? Or a wise one? It may sound elitist, but isn't it appropriate for people who have thought through an issue and its implications to make decisions, rather than people who get their political opinions direct from a tabloid newspaper front cover?

If you want this sort of representative democracy, then start with the things that could make a difference - scrap political parties (see below!). Alternatives are possible to our political system - but "letting the people decide" difficult cases isn't likely to be for the best.

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