Published by order of the National Executive
Third Way General Election Manifesto 2005   
May 2005
ISBN 0954478843   Amazon Co UK
Third Way Publications

Third Way is a Patriotic Centre party rooted in the culture and traditions of these islands. We advocate Direct Democracy along Swiss lines using referenda and citizens' initiatives. We support small business and co-operative ownership. Third Way opposes over-centralised government and promotes decision making at the lowest practical level.

1. A Patriotic Centre Party

The Third Way rejects the straitjacket of left and right, and looks to go beyond such outdated and sterile concepts. We believe that there is often an alternative view to many issues that are held by partisans of left or right. Hence our name.

We also accept however that a so-called left or right wing position might be the most appropriate one, on a particular issue, at a particular time. That does not mean that this will be so on other matters, therefore the best party is one that offers left, right and third way solutions as is appropriate, and is most beneficial for the people. The phrase that accurately captures the essence of our party is the 'Patriotic Centre'. At the centre of UK politics but also patriotic because unlike other centre parties (such as the Lib Dems) we want to preserve our national independence.

2. For Direct Democracy along Swiss lines

The Third Way advocates Direct Democracy along Swiss lines. We support the introduction of three mechanisms of Direct Democracy: Referendums, Initiative and Recall.

Direct democracy was introduced at federal level in Switzerland in 1848, although in some Swiss cantons forms of direct democracy have been used since the fourteenth century. A variety of direct democracy mechanisms are provided for at both federal and cantonal level, with Swiss voters given the chance to cast their votes in federal ballots on average four times a year. Between 1848 and February 2004, 517 referendums were held, whilst between 1892 and May 2004, 244 initiatives were proposed

At Federal (or national level) the people of Switzerland have access to two important mechanisms - referendum and initiative.

Referendums

Unlike in other countries, in Switzerland it is not the government that decides if a referendum is held on an issue; the circumstances under which referendums are used are clearly prescribed within the country's constitution.

The first type of direct democracy mechanism is the mandatory referendum, i.e., a referendum that the government must call in relation to certain important political issues. These concern constitutional changes or the signing of treaties or joining of organisations which might affect the Swiss policy of neutrality.

Optional referendums can be held in relation to new or amended federal acts and/or international treaties. The optional legislative referendum is held in relation to all federal laws and urgent federal laws that are due to be valid for more than a year. The optional referendum on international treaties is held in relation to international treaties that are of unlimited duration and may not be terminated, and international treaties that provide for membership of international organisations or contain legislative provisions that have to be implemented by enacting federal laws Optional referendums are called if 50,000 signatures are collected in support of a referendum within 100 days, or if eight cantons request a referendum, and pass with a popular majority. Until 2004, an optional referendum has never been successfully requested by a group of cantons; the first referendum initiated by the cantons was held on 16 May 2004.

Initiatives

Initiatives can be used to propose changes to the federal constitution. In addition, in 2003 Switzerland adopted a new form of initiative, to be used in relation with more general statutory provisions. Once an initiative is filed, a specified number of valid signatures (i.e. signatures of registered voters) are required in order to force the Federal Council and Parliament to consider the initiative and to hold a referendum on the initiative proposal.

Amendments to the constitution can be proposed using two different initiative mechanisms. The popular initiative for a partial revision of the constitution provides voters with the opportunity to propose a draft revision to part of the federal constitution. 100,000 voters must sign an initiative in order for a referendum to be held on the proposal. The popular initiative for a total revision of the constitution also requires the support of 100,000 voters in an initiative. In both cases, the signatures must be collected within 18 months of the initiative being filed.

From late 2006, the general popular initiative will be available to Swiss voters. This mechanism can be used to force a referendum on the adoption of a general proposal that will be incorporated on a constitutional and/or legislative level, providing that 100,000 signatures are collected in support of the initiative.

We in Third Way favour the adoption of a similar system in our country. We propose:

  • The right of the people to initiate legislation. 5% of voters should, by petition, be able to compel the holding of a binding poll on whether a proposed law of their own choosing should be adopted, or whether a particular law already in force should be repealed or replaced.

  • The right of the people to petition for a referendum concerning a Bill which has passed through our representative institutions in the normal way, but has not yet taken effect. A valid petition of 5% of the electorate (nationally or locally) should be enough to compel a referendum on the proposed measure before it is implemented.

  • The right of the people to petition for the holding of an election on the recall, or removal from public officials who have (for example) been corrupt or incompetent in office, or broken their word to the people who elected them.

    Recall

    The recall mechanism is the least common of the three direct democracy mechanisms. Although many US states include provision for the recall in their constitutions, the mechanism is not used at national level. Provision for the recall mechanism outside the US and at national level is rare, even in countries where direct democracy is widely used (like Switzerland). Only in Venezuela does the recall mechanism apply to a country's elected head of state. However, in most US states, the recall mechanism can be used to recall all elected state officials, from local and county officials up to the office of Governor. Judges may also be the subject of recall campaigns. In some states, some non-elected officials such as administrative officers can also be recalled.

    The number of signatures required in order to hold a recall ballot is important. The fewer the number of signatures required, the more likely it is that a vote on whether an officer should be recalled will take place. At the 2003 California recall, recall proponents were required to gather signatures of 12% of the vote for Governor at the last election in a period of 160 days. Many other US states require 25% of voters to support a recall; California's threshold of 12% is the lowest in the States.

    Third Way favours recall at all levels of government and a low threshold of 12% in a period of 160 days.

    Direct Democracy represents a higher level of democracy, for in addition to the choice of representatives, it also institutionalises the voters' right to decide for themselves on many issues. It not only requires governments to hold referendums as a regular and normal part of the democratic process, but in addition it allows for private citizens to demand a referendum on any matter of their choice, provided that they can raise enough signatures in their support. Direct Democracy can operate both at the level of the national government and at local council level. Recall would make elected representatives more responsive to public attitudes. Implementation of these measures would address part of the 'democratic deficit' in our country.

    3. Decision-Making at the lowest possible level

    We support community and district councils with greater powers. We want electoral reform for local government, with the introduction of proportional representation at local level (as is already planned for Scotland) as well as national.

    We oppose unelected Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) The electorate alone should determine the exact form and boundaries of regional government on a region by region basis. The Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Ulster Assemblies should have greater powers including levels of taxation. We favour calls for a referendum on the establishment of an English Parliament and Independence for Ulster.

    We want a Constitutional Commission established to draft proposals for a fully elected second chamber (the current House of Lords) and specifically to examine the potential of constituencies based on workplaces.

    4. For Widespread Ownership of Property

    Third Way believes that the widespread ownership of property produces political stability, social cohesion, and greater freedom of action for individuals and communities. This means people having a greater degree of involvement in the ownership and control of the places where they work.

    If we are interested in inclusion and empowerment we must move to support co-operative ownership, the self-employed and workers trusts. This is real stakeholding. Workers/employees know the business inside out and are neglected as a source of creative ideas and solutions. Not only is it morally wrong for them to have no decision making powers it is inefficient.

    We favour the introduction of a Co-operative Act and the reform of the Companies Act.

    A new Co-operative Act

    Third Way favours the encouragement of co-operative ownership. We want:

  • A Co-operative Act to enshrine co-ops in our legal system, as an alternative form of ownership and control.
  • Investment from State funds to encourage co-operative development (as in Italy under the Marcora Law of 1985). These funds would be issued as part of the debt-free funding of public projects (as explained later).
  • Community initiatives backed by state funding to train the unemployed in the skills they require to form co-ops and to provide them with investment capital.

    Reform of the Companies Act

    Third Way favours reform of the Companies Act to allow:

  • Employees in designated large companies to be made members of the companies in which they work through trust funds set up on their behalf, allowing them to exercise their individual right to vote according to the number of shares their interest in the trust fund represents.
  • That company general meetings include employee representatives.
  • That workers are able to petition for a binding vote to turn designated large companies into a co-operative after a fixed period of existence.

    Supporting Small Businesses

    Third Way supports the small businessman and woman. We oppose the destruction of local shopping areas, the unnecessary burdens of red-tape and unfair competition. We would like to reverse the norm of out-of-town shopping centres, and would like to return the High Street to its historic role as a focal point for the local community.

    We want government to:

  • Streamline regulations
  • Reduce the number of taxes on small/ owner managed businesses
  • Improve the tax environment to encourage development of personal working skills
  • Reduce the overall tax burden on small/ owner managed businesses
  • Increase tax incentives to improve level of savings for retirement
  • Make company costs incurred in achieving compliance with Government regulations tax deductible (e.g.: PAYE, NI, tax credits, Health and Safety, Disability Discrimination Act) at the 150% rate
  • Revise the IR35 rulings ('consultant taxed as employee')
  • Increase Tax Allowance for employer accreditation (e.g.: ISO 9001, Investors in People)
  • Legislate (not simply compile a register of late payers) to curtail late payment by big firms

    To combat red tape we want government to:

  • Introduce sunset clauses, so new regulations automatically lapse if they are not considered worth renewing
  • Introduce standard commencement dates for new and revised regulations
  • Reduce conflicts/ contradictions between Government legislation/ paperwork
  • Announce legislation AT LEAST a minimum of six months before it could come into effect

    We believe that transport and planning policies should be geared to providing each local area with a heart, with social spaces alongside shops and businesses. Legislation affecting small business should be reviewed and simplified, such that small-scale enterprise might again become an important basis of the economy. We want greater small business representation and input in the process of decision making - at present the consultation process on employment and social laws is dominated by trade unions and big business with the voice of small businesses often going unheard.

    5. Debt free finance

    For public projects and services, 3W favours the issue of debt-free money by the State instead of borrowing (at interest) by the State from private financial institutions. This would allow for a massive reduction in taxes. The private banking system presently lends around ten times as much as it actually has (it's called the gearing ratio) but claims repayment with interest on all of its loans, not just those backed by already existing assets. This is a basic cause of inflation, as well as being a highly dubious practice and effectively a privatised form of taxation; and is the reason why the present system cannot ever cure inflation, only play with its symptoms at your expense - cutting services, asset-stripping the country, yet never being able to clear the debt. The current system effectively steals purchasing power from the individuals and levies a banker's tax on business and government investment. We consider this an unacceptable situation, and would seek to change it.

    A Citizens' or basic income

    We recognise that it is not simply the actions of 'individual entrepreneurs which lead to modern industry being as productive as it is. There is a Cultural Heritage; the skills, inventions and developed systems handed down by previous generations that enable this. Not only does the present system steal purchasing power but also robs people of their birthright.

    Third Way advocates a shift to Citizens' Income for all, instead of the present complex, often anomalous and expensive to administer mess of benefits. Citizens Income (sometimes called "Basic Income") is a sum, the same for all, payable through the State as an inalienable right to all citizens of the country, throughout their lives and sufficient to at least meet the cost of their basic needs. It is true "stakeholding" in the society and its economy. There would of course be some additional provision to cover exceptional needs or contingencies.

    Citizens' Income will be financed through the elimination of benefits and allowances and through a National Bank using the creation of credit through gearing.

    6. Policy Snapshots

    The Third Way has developed policies on a huge range of issues confronting our country. It's not possible in this short Manifesto to detail them all. To give an idea of our range and depth of ideas we present in the following pages a snapshot of specific policy areas.

    Health service

    Our first duty is to the ill. Our health service - though imperfect - can be a role model for other countries.

    We want an integrated health service with counseling, GPs and dentists provided at one location.

    We support a much greater role for preventative medicine. We advocate legislation to limit the amount of sugar, fat and additives pumped into our foods. Public institutions such as schools and prisons must be required to provide healthy meals.

    Education

    Third Way had looked at the option of ending compulsory external examination at 16.

    We considered proposing that schools should be able to issue a standard certificate of education for those leaving at this age. At age 14 students could choose either a technical course (similar to the Czech system) or to study towards an International Baccalaureate Diploma at age 16-19.

    We recognise, however, the broad support for the proposed reforms outlined in the Tomlinson Report. Therefore, on balance, we see these as a more workable option and call for their immediate introduction.

    Briefly summarised these would:

  • Replace GCSEs, A-levels and vocational qualifications with a new single diploma over a 10-year period of reform.
  • Slash the number of exams pupils have to take.
  • Replace all coursework with a single extended project. Some hands-on courses, such as art and design, would still have project-based work, but this would be done in school - rather than independently - to reduce cheating. Cheats would also be weeded out when they had to sit an oral exam.
  • Create a diploma at four levels: entry (equivalent to pre-GCSEs), foundation (GCSEs at grade D-G), intermediate (GCSE A*-C) and advanced (A-level).
  • Enable students to progress at their own rate, paving the way for mixed-aged classes.
  • Allow Advanced-level students to sit extra hard questions to get even higher marks than are currently available under the A-level system thus adding extra "stretch". These would be introduced to A-levels as A-plus and A-double plus before the diploma was introduced.
  • The diploma would be made up of the modules, which would be adapted from the existing A-level and GCSE modules.
  • Let students pick their own combination (open diploma) or opt for one of the 20 pre-designed combinations (specialised diploma). This should give stronger and more respected vocational qualifications.
  • Introduce a new "core" which all pupils would have to do to pass the diploma, made up of: "functional" - maths, ICT and communication skills, an extended essay, and "wider activities" - work experience, paid jobs, voluntary work and family responsibilities.
  • Give "Graduates" of the diploma a transcript of their achievements, including a breakdown of individual module marks, which would be available to employers and universities online.

    We will abolish tuition fees and direct money saved from the reform of secondary education (high exam costs and bureaucracy) towards higher education. Our basic or Citizens' Income will remove any need for a maintenance grant.

    We support Learner Reps in the workplace and would develop this intensively. We welcome what New Labour has done in this area.

    We support the introduction of National Civic Service for those leaving full-time education. We don't see this as military service but service of benefit to the community either here or if so desired overseas.

    Crime

    Young people are more likely to be the victims of street crime - more likely to be the perpetrators. Why? What drives the criminals - drug dependence; racism; avarice; amorality? What is it about the society we live in, the communities we have constructed, that has created so much violence - and beyond that violence a deep sense of fear?

    The more connections we have with our neighbours the less likely we are to attack them - if there is a consequence of that violence both in terms of the effect upon and between attacker and victim and attacker and the rest of the community; where each individual is valued but also the community's well being is valued.

    We would create communities where people are far less likely to turn to crime but we also have policies to tackle criminals directly.

    We will make the principle of "restorative justice" the centre of our Justice system. Any offender will be required to make amends. Reparation will either be directly to the victim, or in service or payment to the community. We will make it the norm for victims of crime to speak after judgement and before sentencing for their views to be taken into account. For less serious crimes the Prosecution Service might use its discretion not to prosecute if adequate compensation had been agreed or to suspend prosecution conditionally on the offenders carrying out agreed reparation.

    We believe that our Prison Service is a mess. Many of those who are in prison would be better treated for mental health problems or drug addiction. Our aim would be to reduce the prison population dramatically with only those representing a real danger to our community being sent there. This would mainly consist of violent offenders who showed no remorse and a repeated pattern of behaviour. We would put greater emphasis on providing special units for drug rehabilitation and/or mental health.

    The war on hard drugs has been lost. A general corruption has permeated society, inadvertently facilitated through law enforcement which effectively gifts organised crime a monopoly on the extremely lucrative trade in hard drugs. For various reasons, some of them dubious, governments have failed to review their policies in the face of increasing evidence of failure. Third Way believes that we cannot realistically hope to eliminate hard drugs from our society; the best we can do is control their supply. Heroin and cocaine should be made available on prescription, free to those who registered and attended counseling. If doctors are unprepared for ethical or other reasons to prescribe such drugs, then special State-run centres should be set up to administer their distribution. This is not an endorsement of drug-culture; it is a realistic attempt at damage limitation and prevention.

    For ordinary citizens a major benefit is that they will be shielded from the present negative consequences of others' drug abuse. Drug gangs will have their market taken away from them, and as drug-related crime will be virtually eliminated, the amount of Police resources freed will be enormous. The cost of supplying maintenance doses to addicts is minuscule compared with the cost of combating an ever-rising level of drug related crime by orthodox methods. Although many of the professionals in relevant fields have revised their views, senior politicians have not yet accepted these arguments. As the situation worsens economic pressures may eventually persuade them.

    Our Police service needs reform. We call for the direct election of Police authorities and the establishment of a genuinely independent Police Complaints Authority. The harshest sentences will be meted out to Police who acted unjustly or corruptly. We will expand the numbers of Special Constables dramatically and increase resources for their training and payment. The number of Community Policemen and Policewomen will be greatly increased.

    Third Way favours joint initiatives with industry to design out crime. We recognise that changes in housing design, urban development and product design can eliminate many possible crimes. We will establish a Crime Prevention Ministry tasked to manage these relations and look for ways to reduce crime through both social change and design initiatives.

    Workers/Employees rights

    Third Way defends and seeks to extend workers rights. We uphold the right to join a Trade Union, to obtain Union representation and to take industrial action.

    Aid for Developing Countries

    3W wants a world based on Justice.

    Aid in itself may alleviate suffering but it will not resolve the basic problem. We must aim to create 'Sustainable' economies.

  • We want debt cancellation to prevent aid dollars being siphoned out of the economy by banks and Western governments.
  • Aid should be targeted at self-funding schemes. Aid should be targeted to specific schemes to prevent it being siphoned off into the hands of corrupt officials)
  • 3W wants fair trade where developing countries and producers are paid just prices.
  • Those young people enrolled in our proposed National Civic Service would be able to serve abroad in developing countries.

    The Environment

    3W is a Green party.

    We support the concept that 'Small is Beautiful' and will encourage ecological farming in small free-range units. We will ban live export and minimise the internal live transport of farm animals and improve market and slaughterhouse conditions. All forms of intensive farming, including fish farms will be phased out. We will also prohibit the import of any animal commodities produced by methods, which do not meet our high UK standards.

    Third Way favours tax and grant incentives to promote the use of renewable energy sources. We want funding for research and development for renewable energy resources on a huge scale. Every planning or housing development will be required to produce an 'environmental audit' indicating how they have incorporated the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency into their plans before permission is granted. We want to phase out the use of nuclear power,

    We reject the present consumerist lifestyle and mindset. We will seek to educate and persuade people into adopting lifestyles based on conservation of resources and living in harmony with nature. This ethos would be reflected in every aspect of a future Third Way government.

    The problem of global warming can only be tackled by a whole series of changes starting at a personal level and moving up through all levels of government and industry. Examples of the kind of changes we envisage are: a huge shift towards the use of public transport; a move away from air travel; introducing real punitive taxation for industrial emissions not meeting strict standards.

    The greatest local threat however to our 'Green and Pleasant land' is the Government's threatened 'concreting' over of much of the SouthEast of England for housing.

    Terrorism

    Terrorism cannot be justified as it seeks to force a change of government or policy through fear rather than persuasion. New Labour, however, is seeking to take away our hard fought for rights using the fight against terrorism as an excuse. We don't want a country where anyone can be locked-up without a fair trial. We don't want a 'Big Brother' State. Those advocating such measures are amoral and are betraying everything this country stands for.

    The terrorist threat is largely of the Government's own making. They've followed a flawed foreign policy based on subservience to the United States. We support the Palestinians aim of nationhood (within the context of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine question) and feel that we need to start a fresh relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.

    Immigration/Asylum

    Mass immigration can create social instability. It can bolster existing cultural ghettos and heighten tensions over language, customs and the division of resources. This can lead to a rise in the evils of racism and ethnic conflict.

    None of us want that. We need a select and limited number of people to come and work here (beyond those with family connections) and contribute to our society on every level.The immigration system must be both selective and non-racist.

    Guest workers should be welcomed to fill in gaps within the country's infrastructure. This will allow such workers to benefit financially without the accusation of being used as cheap labour. They will be offered the opportunity to apply for citizenship after a fixed period if they so desired.

    Those seeking political asylum must be welcomed. It is an honour for our country to provide a haven for those fleeing persecution. Those who are really economic migrants should be considered under the normal immigration/guest worker system.

    We believe that mass immigration/economic migration is directly connected to global poverty and political instability and would therefore support 'sustainable' economic aid and follow an 'ethical' foreign policy that would help limit large population movements.

    Transport

    The motorcar has been a liberating force for many working families since the 1950s. We oppose the use of speed cameras and parking tickets as a means of raising revenue.

    There is however a problem with congestion within many towns and cities. The answer is not to introduce more restrictions upon the motorist but rather to encourage the use of alternative methods of transport, such as bus or rail, by making them cheaper and more economic.

    We want the Railway system re-nationalised and favour massive investment in our railway infrastructure.

    Europe

    Third Way is opposed to plans to turn the EU into a centralised superstate with inappropriate economic policies being imposed upon its constituent regions by the EuroCentral bank. We are not against Britain's continued membership of the EU provided it allows for genuine socio-economic diversity of systems and insofar as is practical operates on a voluntary basis.

    The EuroCentral Bank with its single currency represents a vastly bigger, and external, manifestation of an already existing problem. We deplore the abdication by NuLab of what little control (setting of interest rates) the government of Britain had over the Bank of England, itself a neo-private and secretive quango. Taking politics out of central economics in that fashion near enough terminates serious politics, and any pretence of democracy. The democratic concept of the electorate being offered a significant choice between differing economic and therefore social policies is made meaningless if real control has been transferred elsewhere before the discussion even begins. Contrary to the belief of the major parties, the economy should be the servant of the population, not its unaccountable master. A comparatively localised entity like the Bank of England could certainly be reformed, but it is highly improbable that a remote EuroCentral Bank playing divide-and-rule with an entire continent ever could.

    It is a matter for regret and an indictment of the past and present regimes in Britain that some of the EU's more enlightened initiatives have had to be externally formulated rather than instigated in the normal course of government at Westminster. Third Way would, however, also look to Britain forming a new non-aligned international confederation of democratic countries to safeguard against future excesses by the EU and the USA, or by globalist corporate-backed interests, and for collaboration as equals in joint projects and research, including defence, environmentally sound technologies and a well funded long-term space program. Potential partners could include Russia, India, Iceland and New Zealand.

    We oppose the loss of the pound or the adoption of the European Constitution since they are designed to weaken the exercise of national sovereignty and hasten greater 'European political union'.

    We do not oppose a close trading or diplomatic relationship with our European neighbours but would support a looser confederation than presently offered by the EU. If the latter would not be prepared to accept that form of relationship we would put our continued membership of the EU to a referendum.

    Iraq

    We opposed the UK's military involvement in Iraq.

    The US was largely motivated by greed for oil. The 'New World Order' is a cover for protecting US/Corporate interests throughout the world. The UK government is wrong therefore to commit our army to this foreign adventure at great cost in lives and money. The result has created more not fewer terrorists. Tony Blair has blood on his hands.

    We call for the immediate withdrawal of UK troops and an end to foreign occupation in Iraq.

    Join Third Way and help make these policies a reality.

     

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