A reader of this blog recently asked me what I thought of More United and whether it would change Britain. At first I thought that the lovely chap had been on his Iphone and his predictive texting had gone haywire and replaced Man United with More United.
After a quick dig around, I discovered, to my amazement, that “MoreUnited.uk is a new movement setting out to change British politics” and not a very rich northern football team.
I take pride in the fact that I keep on top of most goings on in both domestic and international current affairs. So I was both puzzled and, at first, disappointed that the launch of this ‘movement to change British politics’ completely passed me by.
So will it change Britain? To start. Who is this ground breaking organisation? Well, it appears to be many of the usual suspects of the centre left. Not content with failing to prevent a Tory majority; eradicating the Lib Dems from the face of the earth; stopping any gains being made for the Greens and ensuring the Labour Party rips itself to shreds in a bitter and unnecessary civil war, this eclectic group of ex-elected politicians, people you will have never heard of but described as celebrity backers, re-tread academics and third tier media hacks freelancing their way through the left of centre press have now created a website and described this as a political movement.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have set up a website, a Facebook account and a Twitter handle – but I don’t profess to be a movement that can change British politics. Yet these individuals are arrogant enough to believe that their non-entity faces plastered on a website will do anything except make a movement of people to join UKIP.
Maybe I am being unfair. But then I looked at the launch of this radical revolution. The first rule of basic political PR is, whatever you do, never, ever, ever launch something new in late July or August silly season. Almost no one is left in the country and those that are don’t care about politics. The second rule is don’t launch on a Sunday – that is the end of a week, not a beginning with no daily newspaper hacks around to report you. So what does More United.uk do? Launch it on Sunday 24th July 2016. The coverage? As far as I can see Business Insider covered it and a few days later Toby Young in the Spectator did a very good piece ripping the silly little vanity project to shreds.
Again – I felt I was being harsh. So to give them one last chance I had a squizz at their policies. Let me go through a few to explain why they are either pointless, hypocritical, flawed or lies.
“A simple, transparent and progressive taxation system, so those who can afford the most pay the most.”
“Safeguard the truth in political campaigning.”
The richest already pay the most and the system, whilst not perfect, is progressive. If you earn under £11,000 you pay nothing, up to £43,000 is 20%, £43k to £150k is 40% and over £150k is 45% – that is progression and progressive. If they had said something about ensuring that taxes are scaled in line with how much earn then fair enough . But to say that the rich don’t pay the most is a barefaced lie. So pop goes those two policies.
“Making education the priority for government spending.”
“Drive economic prosperity through a investment in green technology.”
So priority for education spending seems to make sense. That is until one realises that having a bunch of academics and lecturers as your backers means that this is more about self serving and protecting their own jobs and income rather than improving lives. And, despite these backers being so well educated themselves they cannot even work out that before a word that starts with a vowel, you need ‘an’, not ‘a’. How can you have a movement to change British politics led by educators when they can’t even spell their one sentence policies correctly?
“A reformed NHS which is paid for from taxation and free at the point of use.”
“Promoting competition and dismantling monopolies.”
One of the largest monopolies on earth is the NHS. It spends more than £100billion and dwarfs spending by any other health provider by a country mile. So will this monopoly be dismantled if this movement took over the UK and health competition promoted? You know very well what the answer to that is.
“Using of the new technologies to drive a revolution aimed at increasing efficiency, improving delivery and enhancing transparency in the public sector.”
And these two
“Protecting privacy and human rights in a digital age.”
“Adopting the principle that every citizen’s data is part of their personal property and can only be exploited by others with their consent.”
Anyone who understands technology and the digital era knows that for it to succeed it needs data – lots and lots and lots of data to feed the algorithms – and the more private and personal that data is the more chance it has in delivering improvements. Make the data private and you cannot have the improvements in the public sector. You can’t have it both ways.
“Taking the big money out of politics.”
This is simply disingenuous. It implies that the UK is a political system awash with cash. Sure there are large donors to parties but compared to other countries, these donations and the overall contributions are piffling. And on top of that, spending is 63% lower in real terms in the 2015 election than it was in the 2005 one. The big money is out of politics already.
“Electoral reform to ensure every vote counts.”
I love the idea of proportional representation. But we had this referendum a while back. Lots of people didn’t care, and most of the rest voted resoundingly against it. It wasn’t a 48%-52% result and the win based on a tissue of lies. This was a fair contest which lost by an overwhelming margin of 68%-32%. Get over this. It is a lost cause. Move on.
There are more. Lots more. Yet I don’t disagree that there needs to be some sort of movement towards a different approach, different ideology and different style of political delivery. But these people, this website and those policies are just helping to consign progressive inspirational politics to the bin of history and, to answer the question, won’t change Britain or British politics. When this is what centrist politics now looks like it is no wonder the extremes are appearing more attractive to the traditional voter.