This blogger is a Brit, and thus keenly interested in what is the most important election in a generation, so based on the stated interests of politics, military, and technology, what does this blog want to see during the course of the next parliament?
Quite a lot as it happens:
1. This blog wishes to see Britain become a good neighbour to the continent, for too long we have been obstructive of the ambitions of many european countries, and it is detrimental to our interests to be seen as a continual hindrance to those who are notionally our friends.
To achieve this we need a two-speed Europe, where a core of nations can federalise to their hearts content, whilst those nations who view the EU as a venue for cooperation, collaboration and trade, are free to keep it that way without perpetual pressure to integrate against the wishes of their electorate. If this is done then Britain can demonstrate that it is a good european and a good neighbour, because the British electorate will not continually force their politicians into impossible contortions out of fear of an unspoken federalising agenda.
2. This blog wishes to see the end of the big-state theology, whose central tenet is that all positive change can only be instigated and implemented by the state, a view that is totally at odds with the necessity to maintain a high growth and highly competitive economy to preserve British standard of living in the 21st century.
To achieve this we need to recognise that Britain’s current trajectory is leading towards a national debt of 400% of GDP by the year 2040, and 27% of government spending to be dedicated to paying off debt-interest in the same period. The level of taxation necessary to sustain this vast government spending program will depress economic growth, and it will depress economic competitiveness, during a period where countries like China, India, Brazil and more all all becoming economic powerhouses engaged in exactly the kind of high-value innovation and technology that kept Britain rich in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our competitive advantage is being eroded.
1. This blog wishes to see Britain maintain its status as a Great Power in world affairs. This is not from delusions of grandeur related to our imperial past, it is simple recognition that a nation either shapes the world in its image, or it is forced to evolve to accommodate a world shaped in another nations image.
This level of commitment to a Britain with an active future requires the support of the electorate so a path must be chosen that will achieve this goal without antagonising said electorate. Britain has accommodated itself over several centuries to a Foreign Policy dominated by naval and expeditionary interventions, usually short and sharp as the the combination of a dominant navy and small and professional armies allows the application of overwhelming force at critical points of enemy weakness, rather than the grinding attrition of massed force that the continent has grimly borne witness to. This blog wants to see Britain adopt RUSI’s Strategic Raiding doctrine.
2. This blog wishes to see a public debate about the value of Defence, including the opportunity cost of not having it in sufficient quantity to achieve its primary purpose; deterrence. The Defence of the Realm is the first duty of the sovereign nation state, and this is a duty that has been grossly neglected in the last ten years.
During the Cold War Britain spent between 3.5% and 5.0% of GDP on defence, most notably on collective defence by maintaining massive tank forces in the Fulda Gap and massed Anti-Submarine forces in the GIUK Gap, this situation no longer persists and it was right to seek a peace dividend after the collapse of the USSR. Labour stated in its SDR98 document that it would keep Defence spending at what it considered to be a sensible peacetime minimum of 2.5% of GDP, this blog is happy enough to agree that if a baseline must be chosen then this is a pretty good one, but, how have we reached the position where Defence spending has fallen to 2.2% of GDP during the course of a decade of non-stop war?
1. This blog wishes to see parliament revisit the Digital Economy Bill which was rushed during the ‘wash-up’ period in parliament before the general election could bring everything to a halt, and it is a deeply flawed piece of legislation.
Other than the minor niggles like the removal the responsibility for game rating from the BBFC, its major fault is the intrusive and unjust assumption of guilt surrounding the new powers brought in to curb file sharing, powers which don’t require evidence to be enforced, and very likely to be misused in the same way recent anti-terrorism legislation has been been misused. Most importantly it treats file sharing in the same manner as Victorian laws on petty-theft, completely ignoring the fact file-sharers are the content industry’s best customers.
2. This blog wishes to see a business and entrepeneur friendly tax regime implemented in the coming parliament, and it wants to see innovation and technology encouraged and actively fostered at the educational level to create that ‘ideas’ economy that will keep Britain wealthy in the coming decades.
Britain’s innovative private sector generates the wealth that pays for social spending we all recognise as imperative in a fair society, so there is zero sense suffocating that wealth generating mechanism via over-taxation in order to fund those ambitious social programs. 48% of the value of goods and services generated in trade external trade occurs outside the eurozone, a figure that will increase significantly as developing economies continue to outgrow the eurozone, and all of these foreign businesses can be using British services such as investment and banking, and licensing innovative British intellectual property such as ARM cpu’s and PowerVR gpu’s, and provided Britain keeps innovating we can rise alongside those fast growing economies. A rising tide lifts all boats……….. provided you haven’t smashed holes under the water-line of your own.
It’s a short list, but achieiving all six would do much keep Britain’s future bright.
Update – 06/05/10
Greece is in flames, and it should be noted that this is a country that failed to convince the markets it would reduce the deficit swiftly enough, and uses Proportional Representation. That should weigh heavily on the minds of British voters today!