If I Were Prime MinisterPublished by Tony Juniper on Thu, 12/02/2015 - 12:00am
“Integration, integration, integration”. That would be my slogan, because too much of what doesn’t work arises from how we often organize ourselves in an unintelligent ways – in policy silos, rather than seeing the bigger picture.
Take the National Health Service. At the same time as costing more it is subject to massive increasing demand, including from chronic conditions such as mental illness and obesity. One way to address this is through prevention and harnessing the massive proven power of green space and access to natural areas. Yet the protection of nature is treated as an unaffordable cost even, when official evidence shows how we could save billions through the therapeutic benefits of nature being available to more people. I’d pass a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to help join the dots.
More joined up policies could deliver benefits on the cost of living too. Take water. At the moment many of us pay major costs in our bills arising from water treatment. This is often needed to remove soils and chemicals that get into water because of how we farm. If we spent agricultural subsidies more intelligently, so that farmers farmed sustainably, it could make our water cheaper while at the same time preventing rivers silting up, thereby reducing flood risk.
In our fast changing, uncertain and ever more volatile world, I’d seek to redefine what we believe are the best routes to energy and food security. Instead of seeing these aims best pursued through global free markets (which in any event are a myth), I’d focus on building strength at home. This would be achieved by protecting soils and pollinators and by setting the UK on a path toward having a wholly renewable and super efficient energy economy. Policies would deliberately encourage job creation and technological innovation in both these strategic sectors.
I’d also take steps to improve the security of our financial sector, including through new laws to make it more likely that those who threaten Britain’s economy through reckless and illegal behavior in financial organisations serve long prison sentences.
On education I’d look www.cialisgeneriquefr24.com for ways to impart wisdom, knowledge and creativity, rather than memory tests that simply churn out exam passes. Intellectual excellence would be encouraged and rewarded but the emphasis on University level education would be balanced with far more support for vocational training and apprenticeships.
I’d treat inequality as one of the gravest and most corrosive threats to our freedom and society. I’d tackle this in part on the back of a "Green New Deal". This would provide economic stimulus and create quality jobs on the back of upgrading the country’s housing stock and building green infrastructure paid for from a new round of quantitative easing and through aggressive tax collection. I’d also adopt policies that would attract economic activity to the North and West, thereby helping to deal with the acute housing shortage and overloaded infrastructure in the South-East.
To help pull all this together a new system for compiling our national accounts would be adopted. Right now we largely judge our success based on growth in GDP. This is not enough. For policy to work we need data on social trends and to show whether the natural systems that sustain our health, wealth and security are improving or declining. Integration, integration, integration.
First published by The Independent, 12th February 2014.