The convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey German on what she would do if she was Prime Minister
As Prime Minister, I would start by cleaning up our foreign policy. It's a mess that has done more to discredit our political system than anything else in the last decade.
I would stop the current counter-productive bombing of Iraq, and stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel. I would withdraw all troops and "special advisers" from other countries. I would launch a public inquiry into previous governments colluding with torture and rendition. I'd tell President Obama that our mutual extradition arrangements will be cancelled unless he immediately returns Shaker Aamer, the last Londoner in Guantanamo. I would also save us £100bn by scrapping Trident's renewal. Then I would order the arrest of Tony Blair for war crimes over Iraq.
I would also move to eradicate the ballooning inequality produced by austerity and privatisation. And I'd repeal the anti-union laws so that working people can defend themselves against the bankers and the corporations.
One of my first acts would be an emergency public house building programme and I would cut all private rents in half. I would introduce rent controls and security of tenure for all tenants so that they could actually afford to live without paying half their income to greedy landlords.
Any houses or flats left empty for more than six months without very good reason would be taken over by local councils and used to house the homeless and those on housing waiting lists. These measures would alleviate the housing crisis, which is bringing misery to millions of people. It would be illegal for any MP to be a landlord – at present there are more landlords than women in parliament.
I would then begin a process of bringing essential services back into public ownership, starting with public transport. All buses, trains and tubes would have conductors and guards, and transport would be free. They could be employed from those who now inspect and sell tickets. Car usage would fall dramatically to the benefit of our health and welfare.
A bill would abolish the House of Lords and the monarchy, and democracy would revert to its original meaning: the rule of the people
MPs would be paid the average national wage, and be expected to work full time at their job. They would also serve in annually elected parliaments, and not the travesty of democracy which are the fixed 5 year terms. Politicians would be elected on a proportional vote. All subsidies on their food and drink would be abolished, and lobbying by vested interests would be illegal.
I would expect that within the term of one parliament MPs would reflect the demographic they represent, with 93 per cent from state educated backgrounds, 50 per cent women and a tenth from ethnic minorities.
A bill would introduce higher rates of taxation for the rich, with penalties for those who don’t pay. This would help pay for the NHS, education and housing. Banks and other big corporations should pay proper rates of corporation tax. Those threatening to leave the country if this happens should be encouraged to do so.
All parents of school age children would also be put on a 35-hour week without loss of pay. This would allow them to spend time with their families, and would help reduce unemployment. This working week would be extended to the whole workforce.
I would cancel the debt, whether for countries such as Greece or for ex students. The banks are squeezing everyone dry for their own profits.
Finally, the use of phrase "political correctness gone mad" would be liable to a £25 on the spot fine, until the time comes when all prejudice and discrimination has been removed from society.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- This is an attack on our class: we must escalate to win – weekly briefing
- After the Tory budget: the movement we need now – weekly briefing
- The masters of war are fanning the flames – weekly briefing
- Tories preach politics of the gutter – weekly briefing
- Remember, remember the Fifth of November – weekly briefing
- The rich turn to Rishi – weekly briefing
- Tories try to turn their drama into our crisis – weekly briefing