An Open Letter to Gordon Brown...

Article published on June 20, 2007
community published
Article published on June 20, 2007
Well Gordon, You made it! I bet there were times where you thought that Number 10 would pass you by? Well now you are in the top job, I have a few suggestions as to how you can really make a difference to the Britain that you inherit....Thinking what you should concentrate on first is a difficult task, so here are just a few suggestions to point you in the right direction...

The Economy

Yes, I accept that you have done a fairly decent job thus far, but there are a few areas where you could do much better. Firstly you should instigate a fundamental review into the Council Tax, which in my opinion is as unfair as the Poll Tax that brought down Thatcher. The Council Tax system is flawed because it fails to take account of the fundamental rule that taxation ought to be both progressive and fair. To this end, a Local Income Tax model based on the ability to pay (and not postcode) is a more just model to pursue.

Elsewhere the abolition of the 10p tax allowance (despite the 2p cut in the higher band) announced in your most recent budget means that those on the lowest income are now worse off, and this coupled with tax breaks for Private Equity firms belies a sickening inequality. Yes we should promote economic growth, but this should not be to the detriment of the very poorest in society. Oxfam statistics suggest that nearly 13 million people live in poverty in Britain (including, disgracefully, some 4m children). Despite your need to appeal to the Middle Class vote, it is still right that a Labour PM should not forget those at the foot of the economical ladder.

To do so would be a bit Tory wouldn't it?, and that's the last thing you would want to be accused of...

The Environment

Tied to my Economical argument is the Environment. Yup, the issue that any self respecting Politician would fly to the other side of the globe in order to show that they take it seriously. Well I have a couple of simple ways to improve British Environmental Policy. Firstly, you need to understand that the way to person's conscience is through their wallet. Give tax breaks to people who actively recycle, make Public Transport more affordable, increase Government grants for research into sustainable energy resources and tax people who choose to drive gas-guzzling cars even more heavily.

It's not a panacea, but it's something to get you started.

Home Affairs

A symptom of your predecessor's administration is that it has been far too focussed on style over substance. Ministers are more concerned about getting a sound bite on the front page of a tabloid, or in creating the illusion of tackling social problems, rather than actually doing so. Take policing, for example. Would it not be wiser, rather than recruit more officers, to invest more in equipment that means that their time is used more effectively? And why do the likes of John Reid insist on criticising Judges in a way more befitting of Henry VIII than a modern Home Secretary? All too often reactionary measures are announced without the Home Office actually thinking them through. Take ID Cards for example. Apparently they are going to tackle Terrorism. Really? So how is that going to work then? Next we are told they are going to curb illegal immigration...Really?... But then I suppose that every person who gets smuggled into the UK in the back of a lorry by a unscrupulous gang-master pops by his or her local tax office at their first convenience...

Oh, and that's without getting me started on Civil Liberties...

Foreign Affairs

Ah, do you remember the halcyon days of Robin Cook and his 'ethical foreign policy'? Good things never seem to last do they? To this end your first act as leader should be to hold a transparent and independent inquiry into the BAE systems affair, for as your colleague Hilary Benn has rightly admitted these allegations, "are overshadowing Britain's efforts to tackle International Corruption" and dismissal of these allegations by your predecessor on the grounds that they might affect UK-Saudi relations is no excuse for not doing so. Consistency and acting with integrity is key to good Foreign Policy. To this end, you should instigate a hold on the replacement of the Trident missile system (at least) until after the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Conference. We cannot actually expect to hold any gravitas in getting North Korea, China and others to curb proliferation of nuclear missiles if we are doing so ourselves. Can we?

As for the 'Special Relationship', (the old chesnut that is sure to keep your predecessor in lecture tours and chat show appearances for years to come), it has to be one based on mutual respect and a deference for International Law. Similarly we should maintain a close relationship with Europe and not be so fearful of closer integration. Far from Europe stealing away our national identity, it supplements it. At times our European neighbours are like friends who point us in the right direction when we've had a bit too much to drink. It is worth bearing in mind that many of the most positive social reforms we have seen in recent years have emanated from other EU Member States. Backing away from closer European ties is simply throwing the baby away with the bathwater.

I will leave the NHS, Constitutional Reform, International Development, Education, Affordable Housing and Pensions for another time

You probably have boxes to pack.


PS: Since I have Student Loans to pay back thanks to your Government, any chance of taking me on in a Consultancy role?