In modern day Britain, most would probably agree that the NHS and schools need more funding each year. Better internal management might reduce waste and create greater impact. But the UK government could show a lot better leadership too.
Successive UK governments don’t so much lack courage (feeling fear but taking action anyway). The bigger problems are arguably that they:
- lack incentive (complacency and dogma seem to have set in),
- lack clarity (can’t agree what the problem is), and
- lack imagination.
What more could be done by central government, regardless of political party?
- bar politicians from serving more than three terms (a maximum of 15 years in parliament). New blood would bring fresh approaches, minimise complacency and cronyism. But what if not enough people stepped in to replace outgoing politicians? True leaders will step in to lead, because they care.
- enlist pro-bono advice from professional consulting firms, about how they would go about solving complex societal problems.
- scrap the ‘first past the post’ voting system, in favour of proportional representation. With at least one annual referendum on a big political issue (not just Brexit either).
- ensure stronger messaging in early-years schools (all UK schools) about why education is so vital for self reliance, so fewer students drop out later. Perhaps self-reliance has fallen out of fashion? Ironically, the first step towards caring communities begins with self reliance and two strong legs of your own.
- change criminal penalties to put a far greater weighting on the economic costs to society from crime. Cyber crime, fraud, domestic abuse, human trafficking and narcotics trafficking would likely see stronger minimum jail sentences.
- simplify the UK tax rules. The costs of complexity are way too high and borne by all of us.
- change the rules on the proceeds of crime, so the ‘Mr Bigs’ have no chance of parole, until they offer up all the deemed global proceeds of crime. The government could usefully put such proceeds directly into bigger UK police budgets, where the proceeds are not able to be returned to the victims of crime. Bigger police budgets aren’t so much about turning the UK into a police state. But instead about increasing the arrest rate for those committing crime (currently there is too much focus on crime level stats and not enough on arrest rate stats instead).
- change the rules on taxation – seriously look at introducing negative VAT on healthy foods, sportswear and the exercise industry.
- prevent extensive tax avoidance amongst a relatively few companies and wealthy individuals, by changing the rules. Pierce elaborate tax-haven structures, citing substance over form. And create a special set of punitive employment taxes for those making a living as tax advisors.
- review how UK foreign aid money (the approximately £14B of public money per yr) is spent. Earmark a bigger chunk of it for disaster relief and vaccination programmes (direct distribution of goods not indirect distribution of money). And give nothing to countries who choose to fund their own space programmes. Or fund terrorist training camps within their borders.
- apply a common-sense UK approach to immigration and social housing. Setting and defending quotas is a distraction and any figure set is inherently subjective. Having a local government policy to house anyone who decides to live in your jurisdiction probably isn’t realistic either. It just creates unmanageable responsibilities. And cruelly raises peoples’ expectations to unrealistic levels.