RogerBW's Blog

The RogerBW Manifesto (2019 edition) 26 November 2019

It's election season again in the UK. These are the things I'd try to do if anyone were daft enough to put me in charge; they're also promises that would encourage me to vote for people who made them.

Most of what I said last time still applies. In fact all of it does, so I won't copy it all here; see the "see also" at the bottom. So this time I'm getting more utopian.

  • Revoke the Article 50 notification to get rid of the current time pressure and silly dance around requesting extensions. (It is shameful that no electable party is promising this.) Then have a really good probe into the blatant illegalities surrounding the 2016 referendum, and publish the results. Once a few people are in prison for what they did and boasted about doing, that might (might!) be the time to consider having another vote about restarting Brexit – not now, when nothing has been done to prevent a new vote from being stolen just as easily as the one in 2016 was. (A side note: although the government in 2016 promised to abide by the result of that referendum, that will be two governments ago by the time this election is done.)

  • While I'm fantasising, do some real work towards a basic income. For some years now, more has been spent on attempting to prevent fraudulent benefit claims than those claims amounted to, by a substantial margin – yes, it would be cheaper just to give everyone what they asked for. (But then we wouldn't have the patronising "we know your ability to work better than you do, you lazy shiftless person" that makes some unpleasant people very happy.)

  • Stop stealing American racist lies about "voter fraud", particularly when they're transparently an excuse to disenfranchise people you don't think will ever vote for your party. If there are a lot of people who will never vote for your party, maybe you should try doing fewer things they find hateful rather than trying to stop them from voting?

  • End the concept of religious exemption. If it's permissible in the first place for a particular law not to apply to some people based on their beliefs, it's clearly not a necessary law, so repeal it completely. You can't test what people believe, and what people claim they believe is a terrible basis for deciding which laws apply to them.

  • Shut down Facebook and Twitter, or at least give people a choice: have social media accounts with huge manipulative advertising companies that employ highly-paid people to alter their users' opinions, or have a vote.

  • Replace company tax with a corporate income tax at the point where money enters a corporate structure. This gets rid of multinational tax shopping: exactly insofar as you generate income from the UK, you pay tax on that income to the government of the UK. Seems fair to me.

  • Not at all the business of national government: make public transport, at least in London, free. This has been very successful where it's been tried: not only do you remove all the costs of the ticket sales and enforcement infrastructure, you generate much more taxable economic activity than you lose in revenue (and you can then run the system off the taxes, once you've paid for the improvements to increase capacity, which the market system is clearly failing to do). And you reduce road traffic and pollution. The only real barrier is the doctrinaire approach that a public transport operator "ought" to be a profit-making entity.

And I'll just repeat my core point from last time:

  • End the politics of fear. Yes, we have lots of challenges. Let's face them with open eyes rather than by cowering under the bed and calling for strong men to protect us. Strong men do not have our best interests at heart.

See also:
The RogerBW Manifesto (2015 edition)


  1. Posted by John Dallman at 01:35pm on 26 November 2019

    Shutting down Twitter is a no-chance policy. It's made digital communications accessible to politicians, and they won't give that up.

    That was why I tagged it as "vital infrastructure" in my notes for Never Let Them See You Bleed (https://tekeli.li/bleed/world.html)

  2. Posted by Dr Bob at 05:36pm on 26 November 2019

    Quite a lot of Benefit Fraud is done by organised crime (via identity theft), not by individual claimants. Like the one which was happening in Merseyside, where a nice man in a suit knocks on your door and asks if you want a free government loan. He then sets up a Universal Credit claim in your name, takes a £1000 advance on the first payment and gives you £300 of it. So he's made £700 and you have a £1000 debt to the government...

    I say no to free public transport in London. For a nice change let's have the rest of the country getting a freebie first, and bloody London have a dose of waiting at the back of the queue for their turn!

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 05:41pm on 26 November 2019

    I mention London mostly because the density makes the benefits immediately obvious compared with smaller places. I certainly see no point in having three separate bus companies running services along the A40 between where I live and High Wycombe, especially since they don't actually compete with each other in any meaningful way; if you want to get out of town on a Saturday after about 9pm you're still stuck with a taxi.

  4. Posted by Michael Cule at 10:01pm on 26 November 2019

    The fraud that Doctor Bob refers to is presumably why the DWP is keen on people applying in person and at a JobCentre.

    The big fraud that organised crime used to like (back when I worked for the Department) was order books that had been used to secure illegal loans and then reported ‘lost’ when the loan got too much. They were altered (crudely in many cases) and taken to remote Post Offices with forged ID to be cashed. That went away when they moved to only paying into bank accounts.

    I’ll approve your first three moves (Oh Great Lord Protector) but the fact that we make allowances for Jewish and Islamic practices in slaughterhouses doesn’t mean that the rest of the population doesn’t need the production of meat protected. Were there other specific examples you were thinking of?

    Shutting down Facebook and Twitter... I am dreadfully sorry, Dread Overlord, but I’m not protecting you when the lynch mob comes on that one....

    You are describing not an income tax (which would allow for the expanses of the firm to be deducted) but a receipts tax which would especially hit new and struggling businesses. Myself I’d see a reform of the rules of accountancy and of how profits are moved to off shore owning conglomerates as more workable. Needs substantial international agreement though.

    Speaking as someone less than six months from a bus pass I’m going to pass on the next.

    The final point, well yeah.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 09:52am on 27 November 2019

    Either a particular slaughterhouse practice is acceptable to the law, and should be allowed to everyone, or it is not, and should be allowed to no-one. The test for whether it is allowable should not include the phrase "I believe". If a personal preference is good enough, then it's good enough for everybody.

    Same with wearing helmets while motorcycling.

    Same with killing your organisation's members (including children) by refusing commonplace medical treatment on their behalf.

  6. Posted by chris bell at 11:39am on 27 November 2019

    Roger, I think the bit that you missed out actually saying very clearly, and whose absence caused a couple of moments of confusion to our Labour candidate when he was reading it, was that laws actually ought to apply to all, not be got rid of if a religion doesn't like them. I had to agree with him that it was a tad ambiguous there...

    I am not sure why anyone would think that Jewish and Islamic slaughter is actually any worse for the animal than the practice in any other slaughterhouse, to be fair. In almost all cases, as with any other slaughter in which sometimes the stun fails, animals are not conscious when their throats are cut dhabiha, so I can't off-hand see the problem. And does it really matter if the animal is killed when it is pointing towards Mecca? I don't suppose it would harm anyone if that were true for all slaughter, or be any worse for the animals.

    The misapprehension is that in religious slaughter the animal must be conscious when its throat is cut; it has to be alive, but that is not the same thing. And anyone who thinks all animals slaughtered by any other method are unconscious before the final killing is living in a fools' paradise.

    Of course, blessing the creature as it dies might be seen to be a tad hypocritical, but I can't see that a sincere blessing actually hurts anyone or anything, or that an insincere one matters in the slightest either way.

    Switzerland and Norway have got along without any animal not being stunned before it was killed for best part of a century, and I refuse to credit that all Jews and Muslims in those countries will be unacceptable to their God, so I don't see why pre-stunning isn't simply made the law here as well and ha' done to it -- so long as we enforce it in all slaughterhouses, not just religious ones. Which I think is Roger's point, isn't it? That the law should be universal or else be removed from the statute book?

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