The General Election on June 9th 1983 will be seen as a watershed
in British politics. It may be recalled as the fateful day when
depression became hopelessness and the slide of the post-war years
accelerated into the depths of decline. Alternatively it may be
remembered as the turning point when the people of this country,
at the eleventh hour, decided to turn their backs on dogma and
bitterness and chose a new road of partnership and progress.
It is to offer real hope of a fresh start for Britain that the
Alliance between our two parties has been created. What we have
done is unique in the history of British parliamentary democracy.
Two parties, one with a proud history, and one born only two years
ago out of a frustration with the old system of politics, have
come together to offer an alternative government pledged to bring
the country together again.
The Conservative and Labour parties between them have made an
industrial wasteland Out of a country which was once the workshop
of the world. Manufacturing output from Britain is back to the
level of nearly 20 years ago. Unemployment is still rising and
there are now generations of school-leavers who no longer even
hope for work. Mrs Thatcher's government stands idly by. hoping
that the blind forces of the marketplace will restore the jobs
and factories that its indifference has destroyed. The Labour
Party's response is massive further nationalisation, a centralised
state socialist economy and rigid controls over enterprise. The
choice which Tories and Socialists offer at this election is one
between neglect and interference. Neither of them understands
that it is only by working together in the companies and communities
of Britain that we can overcome the economic problems which beset
Meanwhile the very fabric of our common life together deteriorates.
The record wave of violence and crime and increased personal stress
are all signs of a society at war with itself. Rundown cities
and declining rural services alike tell a story of a warped sense
of priorities by successive governments. Our social services have
become bureaucratic and remote from the people they are supposed
to serve. Mrs Thatcher promised 'to bring harmony where there
is discord'. Instead her own example of confrontation has inflamed
the bitterness so many people feel at what has happened to their
own lives and local communities.
Our Alliance wants to call a halt to confrontation politics. We
believe we have set an example by working together as two separate
parties within an alliance of principle. Our whole approach is
based on co-operation: not just between our parties but between
management and workers, between people of different races and
above all between government and people. Because we are not the
prisoners of ideology we shall listen to the people we represent
and ensure that the good sense of the voters is allowed to illuminate
the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall. The TUC and CBI, each
paying the bills for the party it supports, have been too much
listened to and ordinary people have been heard too little.
We do not believe that all wisdom resides n one party, or even
in the two parties of the Alliance. There are men and women of
sense and goodwill n both the other parties. But they have opted
Out and allowed the demands of the old party politics to make
the House of Commons the most noisily partisan assembly in the
Our concern is for the long-term, not just for tomorrow. We do
not want to solve our immediate problems by piling up new crises
for future generations. So when we plan for industrial recovery,
we are not simply seeking growth for growth's sake. We want an
increase in the sort of economic activity which will provide real
jobs, which will rebuild our decaying infrastructure, which will
conserve energy, and which will re-use and recycle materials rather
than wasting them. We want to invest in education and housing
since our long-term future depends upon the skill and maturity
of the next generation. The lavish promises and the class- war
rhetoric of the Conservative and Labour manifestos have no place
in our Programme for Government. We offer instead a sober assessment
of the first steps back to economic health and social well-being.
But the vision which unites us is of a nation of free people working
together in harmony, respecting each other's rights and freedom
and sharing in each other's success. To achieve these hopes, we
must not only change failed policies. We must reform the institutions
which produced them.
When we advocate a fairer voting system we are therefore talking
neither about a constitutional abstraction nor the self-interest
of a new political force. Of course we want fairness for ourselves,
but even more do we demand a change in the interests of the majority,
whose wishes are increasingly distorted by the pull of the extremes.
This is in the interests of the cohesion of the country, for it
is wrong and dangerous that one big party should be a stranger
to the areas of prosperity and the other an incomprehending alien
in the areas of deprivation. It is also in the interests of a
more stable political and economic direction, without which those
who work in industry, public or private, or in the community services,
will not have the framework within which to plan for the future.
We believe that Britain needs the fresh start of the Alliance
even more in 1983 than it did in the heady days of our birth in
1981. The Labour Party has not become more moderate. The extremists
have been taken out of the shop window; they have not been removed
from the shop. The policies of nationalisation, attacks on private
enterprise, withdrawal from Europe, with its devastating effect
upon our exports and investment prospects, and alienation of our
international friends and allies, are all enthroned and inviolate.
Jobs and national safety would be at risk.
Mrs Thatcher offers no alternative of hope or of long-term stability.
Some of her objectives were good. Britain needed a shake-up: lower
inflation, more competitive industry and a prospect of industrial
growth to catch back the ground we had lost over the years. But
the Government has not succeeded. After a bad start it has got
lower inflation, but the prospects even for the end of this year
are not good. And the price paid has been appalling. British industry
has seen record bankruptcies and liquidations. Unemployment has
increased on twice the scale of the world recession.
Prospects for the future are more important than arguing about
the failures of the past. The last four years could be forgiven
if we now had a springboard for the future. We do not. At best
we have a prospect of bumping along the bottom. On present policies
the 80's will be a worse decade for unemployment than the 30's.
Nearly a half of those without a job in 1933 got one by 1937.
By 1987, if we continue as we are, unemployment will be at least
as bad as in 1983. As a reaction, if the old two-party system
is allowed to continue, we shall then lurch into the most extreme
left-wing Government we have ever known.
The Alliance can rescue us from this. There is no need for hopelessness.
By giving a moderate and well-directed stimulus to the economy,
accompanied by a firm and fair incomes policy, we can change the
trend and begin to get people back to work. Unlike the Labour
Party. we would do it in a way which encouraged private business.
We believe in enterprise and profit, and in sharing the fruits
Beyond that, further success will depend upon the international
climate. That is not wholly ours to command. But it does not intimidate
us. The world is looking for a lead. Concerted expansion, greater
currency stability, a recognition of interdependence between poorer
and richer countries are all possible and necessary. We need the
vision and sense of enlightened self-interest which produced the
Marshall Plan and pulled post-war Europe together.
It is an opportunity for Britain. We yearn for a world role and
are qualified by our history and experience to perform one.
The Alliance is unashamedly internationalist. We cannot live in
a bunker. We are for a British lead in Europe, for multilateral
disarmament and for a new drive to increase our own prosperity
by co-operating with others to reduce poverty and squalor throughout
the world. We offer reconciliation at home and constructive leadership
abroad. We are not ashamed to set our sights high.
DAVID STEEL Leader of the Liberal Party
ROY JENKINS Leader of the Social Democratic Party
THE IMMEDIATE CRISIS: JOBS AND PRICES
Our economic crisis demands tough immediate action. It also requires
a Government with the courage to implement those strategic and
structural reforms which alone can end the civil war between the
two sides of industry.
The immediate priority is to reduce unemployment. Why?
To the Alliance unemployment is a scandal; robbing men and women
of their careers, blighting the prospects for a quarter of all
our young people, wasting our national resources, aborting our
chances of industrial recovery, dividing our nation and fuelling
hopelessness and crime.
Much of the present unemployment is a direct result of the civil
war in British industry, of restrictive practices and low investment.
But in addition Conservative Government policies have caused unemployment
to rise. An Alliance Government would cause unemployment to fall.
How? Can it be done without releasing a fresh wave of inflation?
We believe it can. We propose a carefully devised and costed jobs
programme aimed at reducing unemployment by 1 million over
two years. This programme will be supported by immediate measures
to help those hardest hit by the slump - the disadvantaged, the
pensioners, the poor.
Ours is a programme of mind, heart and will, it is a programme
that will work!
The Programme has three points:
Fiscal and Financial Policies for Growth
Direct Action to provide jobs
An Incomes Strategy that will stick.
Sustained Policies for Growth
These will be based on carefully selected increases in public
spending and reductions in taxation. Despite the impression Mrs
Thatcher gives, the Conservative Government is borrowing £8
billion a year. It is costing us £17 billion to keep over
3 million people on the dole. In view of the depth of the slump,
we think it right to increase public borrowing to around £11
billion and to use this money in two basic ways:
to reverse the reduction in public investment which
over the last decade has been little short of catastrophic, through
a selective programme of capital investment in the water and sewerage
systems, electrification of railways, building and repairing roads,
rebuilding and refurbishing hospitals, investing in housing, improving
transport services and developing energy conservation schemes.
to concentrate the funds available for tax reductions in
areas where tax cuts have a direct impact on prices such as the
abolition of the National Insurance Surcharge (the 'tax on jobs')
and in this way keep prices down as growth is stepped up. We will
stop the nationalised industries being forced to raise prices
for gas and electricity merely to increase Government revenue.
Such action to rekindle growth without inflation, buttressed by
a less restrictive monetary policy and management of the exchange
rate to keep our exports competitive, will be pursued so as to
reduce unemployment by 400,000 over our first two years.
Direct Action to Provide Jobs
The immediate action we propose is targeted on those among the
unemployed in greatest need, the long-term unemployed and the
young. It does not throw money wildly about, but has been carefully
drawn up to achieve the biggest early fall in unemployment we
can manage at the lowest practicable cost. Our main proposals
to provide jobs for the long-term unemployed in a programme
of housing and environmental improvement - house renovation
and insulation, land improvements; these jobs are real jobs crying
out to be done. There will also be a major expansion of the Community
Programme. We will back programmes of this kind with great determination
to ensure that they generate at least 250,000 jobs over two years;
to extend the Youth Training Scheme so that it is available
to all 16 and 17 year olds and give real help to those who
want to stay on at school after 16 or go to college or take a
training course. Our long term aim is to see all 16-19 year olds
either as students with access to work experience, or as employed
people with access to education and training. But the extension
of training proposed here would alone reduce youth unemployment
to create more jobs in labour-intensive social services.
There is a great need for extra support staff in the NHS and
the personal social services. These services are highly labour-intensive
and their greatest need for extra people is in regions of high
unemployment. We propose the establishment of a special £500
million Fund for the health and social services in order to create
an additional 100,000 jobs of this kind over two years;
to give a financial incentive to private firms to take
on those longest out of work - To boost jobs in the private
sector, we propose to pay a grant to companies for every extra
job they provide and fill with someone unemployed for over
six months. The scheme will be for employment pay, not unemployment
pay. The Government loses about £100 per week (in unemployment
benefit and lost tax revenues) for every person unemployed, so
it is not extravagant to pay £80 a week for each additional
job. According to the best estimates this incentive could increase
employment by around 1 75,000 jobs within two years of its introduction.
In sum, our immediate programme of direct action would reduce
unemployment by well over 600,000 in two years. What is more,
it will do so in a highly cost-effective way by switching the
money which is now paid to people to do nothing, into payment
for useful jobs instead, and it therefore will not involve irresponsible
increases in public spending or borrowing.
Taken together these proposals should reduce unemployment by
1 million by the end of our second year in government.
An Incomes Strategy That will Stick
We do not pretend that a lasting return to high levels of employment
can be achieved painlessly, or without a reemergence of the inflationary
pressures which record unemployment has temporarily damped down.
We are convinced there is not hope of a lasting return to full
employment unless we can develop ways of keeping prices down which
do not involve keeping unemployment up. And unlike either of the
two old parties, we are prepared to face up to this by pursuing
a fair and effective pay and prices policy that will stick. It
is Labour's refusal to face up to the need to restrain incomes,
at the dictates of its union paymasters, which above all makes
Labour's claim to have a solution to unemployment so utterly bogus,
and it is Mrs Thatcher's refusal to contemplate anything other
than unemployment as an incomes policy which condemns the country
to permanently high unemployment if she wins another term.
In drawing up its counter-inflation programme, the Alliance has
faced the question of pay and prices policy head on. Unlike other
parties, the Alliance will seek a specific mandate from the electorate
in support of an incomes policy. We shall campaign for a series
of arrangements to keep price rises in check whilst unemployment
comes down. Specifically we propose:
to establish a range for pay settlements. The Government
will discuss with representatives of commerce and industry, trade
unions and consumers, the prospects for the economy as a whole,
and will establish the desirable range within which pay settlements
should be negotiated given the outlook for unemployment. The Government
will provide forecasts of the implications for unemployment, inflation
and growth, of pay settlements at different levels, and the objective
will be to arrive each year at an agreed norm or range for pay
settlements. In the absence of agreement the government will announce
its own view and tailor its policies accordingly, but every effort
will be made to minimise disagreement and establish a common view.
a fair deal for pay in the public services. The agreed
norm or range will provide the background to a fair and systematic
approach to pay in the public services. A single, independent
Assessment Board for public service pay will be set up to provide
fair comparisons. Agreed arrangements for arbitration will be
needed. As a result, public service sector pay will grow at broadly
similar rates to that of comparable groups in the private sector.
new arrangements to discourage excessive pay settlements
in the private sector- Pay settlements in the private sector
will be negotiated with no direct interference in settlements
made by small and medium sized businesses. We intend to set up
a Pay and Prices Commission to monitor pay settlements in large
companies, with powers to restrict price increases caused by wage
settlements which exceed the agreed range. At the same time, we
shall legislate to introduce a Counter Inflation Tax, giving the
Government the power to impose the tax if it becomes necessary.
The tax will be levied by the Inland Revenue on companies paying
above the pay range. It will be open to successful companies where
productivity increases have been high to pay above the agreed
range if they do so through the distribution of shares which are
not immediately marketable.
the nationalised industries will be subject to similar
restraints, on excessive wage settlements; and will not be
permitted to evade the consequences of excessive wage settlements
and counter-inflation tax payments simply by raising prices.
We would, if we were convinced it was necessary in the prevailing
circumstances, be prepared to introduce a fully statutory incomes
policy to cover the interim period whilst these new arrangements
are being introduced.
Previous incomes policies have been short term reactions to crisis.
They have been reversals of earlier policies. They have had no
mandate from the electorate. The Alliance presents its policy
now because that is both honest and necessary. To work, a pay
and prices framework must be understood and supported. The framework
we propose can last. It is flexible. It will encourage growth
and reward productivity and initiative. It offers the only
way of regaining growth without refuelling inflation.
STRATEGY FOR INDUSTRIAL SUCCESS
The Alliance is alone in recognising that Britain's industrial
crisis cannot be solved by short term measures such as import
controls or money supply targets. Our crisis goes deep. Its roots
lie in the class divisions of our society, in the vested interests
of the Tory and Labour parties, in the refusal of management and
unions to widen democracy in industry, in the way profits and
risks are shared.
The policies offered by the two class-based parties will further
divide the nation North v South, Management v Labour. Our greatest
need is to build a sense of belonging to one community. We are
all in it together. It is impossible for one side or the other
in Britain to 'win'. Conflict in industrial relations means that
we all lose.
But how do we reduce conflict? How do we end class war in industry?
Not by intimidating the unions through unemployment. Not by nationalizing,
de-nationalizing, re-nationalising. Not by pretending the problem
The Alliance is committed to policies which will invest resources
in the high-technology industries of the future. We are committed
to a major new effort in education and training. We are pledged
to trade union reform, to tough anti-monopoly measures. Above
all we will act to share profits and responsibility in industry
far wider than ever before.
We need to do these things to ensure Britain's economic success
in a brutally competitive world. But the aim is not merely economic
growth for its own sake. To live fulfilled and meaningful lives
we each need challenge, reward and responsibility. In British
industry far too many feel they have no stake in success, no role
to play, nothing to contribute. It is that feeling which leads
to bitterness, and conflict. The time has come to change these
things - now, before it is too late.
Partnership in Industry
Britain has made little progress towards industrial democracy,
yet several of our European partners have long traditions of participation
and co-operation backed by legislation. They do not face the obstacles
to progress with which our divisive industrial relations present
us. To be fully effective, proposals for participation in industry
need to be buttressed by action on two fronts: a major extension
of profit sharing and worker share-ownership to give people a
real stake where they work as well as the ability to participate
in decision4aking, and reform of the trades unions to make them
genuinely representative institutions.
PARTICIPATION AT WORK
We propose enabling legislation that will offer a flexible and
an Industrial Democracy Act to provide for the introduction
of employee participation at all levels, incentives for employee
share-ownership, employee rights to information, and an Industrial
Democracy Agency (IDA) to advise on and monitor the introduction
of these measures;
Employee Councils covering each place of work (subject
to exemption for small units) for all companies employing over
1,000 people. Smaller companies would also be encouraged to introduce
Top level representation will, for example, be through
directors elected jointly by employees and shareholders, or a
Representative Council with rights to codetermination on a range
No 'single channel' appointments by trade unions: every
employee must have a vote and be able to exercise it secretly.
PROFIT-SHARING AND EMPLOYEE SHARE-OWNERSHIP
through the Industrial Democracy Act to encourage companies
to develop collective share ownership schemes based on profit
sharing as an essential component of industrial democracy. We
will also increase the exemption limit for Corporation Tax relief
on Inland Revenue approved profit-sharing and share-ownership
schemes to £3,000 per employee;
to give specific encouragement to co-operatives through increased
funding for the Co operative Development Agency - to provide advice
and financial support for those setting up co-operatives.
GIVING THE UNIONS BACK TO THEIR MEMBERS
Employee democracy in industry can only be extended if trade unions
are made genuinely representative of their members since they
are bound to have an important role in participation. It is for
that reason, and not in any spirit of 'union bashing' that we
propose further democratization of the unions themselves. We want
to see effective, representative and responsible trade unions
playing their full part in industry, and in this we stand apart
from the Conservative Party, which has no interest in participation,
and which wants to reform the unions only in order to weaken them.
We will legislate to provide for:
compulsory secret individual ballots, normally on a postal
basis, for the election of the national executives of unions
and, where appropriate, union general secretaries;
the right for a certain proportion - 10 per cent - of the
relevant bargaining unit to require a ballot before an official
strike can be called;
maximum encouragement of arbitration, as a fair and constructive
means of settling disputes, including a legal requirement in essential
public services that any dispute be taken to impartial arbitration
operating on common principles for all public service groups,
before industrial action shall commence;
measures to provide for a more efficient and more effective
trade union movement:
tax exemption for union contributions to encourage a better
level of funding, a Trade Union Development Fund to assist union
mergers and rationalisation, statutory rights to recognition for
unions that have won majority support from the relevant workforce;
adequate facilities at the workplace and reasonable time off for
union representatives to perform their duties; and increased support
for education and training for shop stewards and representatives.
We propose an Employees' Charter clearly safeguarding trade union
and workers' rights.
We favour a careful balance of collective and individual rights
on existing closed shops, with action against the pre-entry closed
shop matched by retention of legal provision for union membership
agreements on condition the latter rests on substantial workforce
support and that exemption from union membership is available
on grounds of conscience.
Government and Industry
PRIORITY FOR INDUSTRY
We cannot restore employment or achieve the standards we want
in our social services unless we first reverse our industrial
decline. So the rebuilding of our industry and commerce must be
given priority in the formulation of government policies.
GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY
The role of an Alliance government in relation to private industry
will be to provide selective assistance taking a number of forms:
an industrial credit scheme, to provide low-interest, long-term
finance for projects directed at modernising industry;
a national innovation policy, to provide selective assistance
for high-risk projects, particularly involving the development
of new technologies and for research and development in potential
growth industries (with a corresponding reduction in R and D spending
public purchasing policies to stimulate innovation, encourage
the introduction of crucial technologies and aid small businesses;
Government assistance in export promotion, with increased
efforts to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade;
we will establish a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime
Minister at the centre of decision-taking on all policies
with a bearing on the performance of industry.
The Alliance will strengthen the Monopolies and Mergers Commission
to ensure its ability to prevent monopoly and unhealthy concentrations
of industrial and commercial power. The aim is to guarantee fair
competition and to protect the interests of employees, consumers
GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC INDUSTRY
We must get away from the incessant and damaging warfare over
the ownership of industry and switch the emphasis to how
well it performs. Thus we will retain the present position of
British Aerospace but will not privatise British Telecom's main
network nor sell off British Airways. But we will make the nationalised
industries successful and efficient as well as properly responsible
to their consumers. Specifically, we propose that:
where nationalised industries are operating viably in competitive
conditions, Government regulation and control should largely be
removed. Their borrowing on the market should not be subject to
external financing limits (EFLs), and they should effectively
be run as independent enterprises;
where public industries are not subject to market forces -
e.g. the public utilities - or where they are dependent on public
finance - e.g. the railways - alternative means of exerting pressure
to ensure operational efficiency are required, and we will set
up an Efficiency Audit Commission to report regularly and publicly
to a Select Committee of Parliament on the overall management
and discharge of their responsibilities by the industries concerned;
we will seek to distance the Government from direct involvement
in nationalised industries. They must be free to run their industries
according to the criteria laid down for them, without political
NEW AND SMALL BUSINESSES
To encourage the growth of new and small businesses, we will attack
red tape and provide further financial and management assistance
extending the Loan Guarantee Scheme, in the first instance
raising the maximum permitted loan to £1 50,000; and the
Business Start-Up Scheme, raising the upper limit for investment
to £75,000; and introducing Small Firm Investment Companies
to provide financial and management help;
zero-rating building repairs and maintenance for VAT purposes
and reducing commercial rates by 10 per cent;
making sure the Department of Industry co-ordinates and publicises
schemes for small businesses and that government aid ceases to
discriminate against small businesses;
tailoring national legislation such as the Health and Safety
Regulations to the needs of small businesses and amending the
statutory sick pay scheme to exclude small businesses.
AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES
Agriculture is an important industry and employer. To encourage
its further development we will:
increase Government support for effective agricultural marketing
at home and abroad and continue support for 'Food from Britain';
ensure that agriculture has access like other industries to
the industrial credit scheme we propose;
encourage greater access to farming, especially by young entrants.
We believe that the provision of alternative sources of employment
is the key to many other problems of the rural areas. To this
end, we will promote moves at local level to establish rural development
The Alliance is determined to safeguard the future of our fishing
industry which needs help to re-build after years of uncertainty
and the drastic consequences for the deep-sea fleet of 200-mile
limits in the waters they used to fish. We believe:
that in order to conserve stocks for the future, EEC inspection
must be strengthened to ensure that conservation measures are
fairly enforced on the fleets of all member states;
that better marketing and promotion, better vocational training,
and reasonable credit terms would all help the future of the industry;
that government measures must take account of the special
importance of our inshore industry to rural communities.
The first priority of the Alliance energy policy is the conservation
and efficient use of energy. A programme of house insulation is
part of our jobs plan and a programme to encourage increased energy
efficiency in industry will lead to a substantial increase in
employment and savings to the economy.
For the foreseeable future, coal will continue to supply a large
part of our major energy needs. To ensure the continued prosperity
of the coal industry we will make substantial investments in the
modernisation of techniques and capacity. This does not mean a
dramatic schedule of pit closures. There will be some employment
problems - where the oldest deep pits are coming to the end of
their economic life. The Alliance plans for jobs and industry
are designed to give particular help to areas like these where
new employment is needed.
The North Sea currently produces the oil and gas we need. But
we want to make sure that there are enough reserves to keep up
British oil and gas production. So we will encourage the exploration
for and development of new reserves. We want to link Britain up
by pipeline with the rest of the North Sea gas-fields so that,
together with our European partners, we can make the best use
of the gas that is there.
We will invest as a matter of urgent priority in different types
of energy and new technologies, especially the use of sources
of energy like the sun, wind, waves and the heat below the earth's
surface and the development of combined heat and power systems.
We are determined to maintain a British power plant industry.
The power stations we have and are currently building will be
enough for our needs for some considerable time to come. We see
no evidence including anything yet submitted to the Enquiry to
justify the building of Sizewell or other PWR generating stations.
However research into nuclear waste disposal must be continued
in order to cater for existing needs and we would develop Britain's
research programme and expertise in the field of nuclear power
and the possibilities presented by fast-breeder technology and
Education and Training
The third basic condition for industrial success is a people with
the skills and self- confidence that will be needed for the challenges
of new technology. The education and training systems are not
providing enough people with the skills necessary to make them
employable and the country successful in competition with its
rivals. We are falling further behind. Japan on present plans
will be educating all its young people to the age of 18 by 1990.
More than 90 per cent of the 16-19 age group in Germany gain recognised
technical qualifications. And it is not just a matter of school-leavers.
Our managers are less professionally qualified than our main competitors'.
From the bottom to top we are underskilled, and this has to be
put right if we are to prosper in future. To do this, to raise
standards in education and training and to improve their effectiveness,
is the object of proposals set out in the next Section.
CREATING ONE COMMUNITY
A fundamental purpose of the Alliance is to reduce the divisions
which over the last two decades have been fragmenting our society,
and restore our sense of being one community.
The gap between rich and poor is as wide today as it was forty
years ago when the Beveridge Report was written. There has been
a big increase in poverty and urban squalor as a result of the
present slump. The pressures of the recession have placed an increasing
burden on women in particular. The trend towards two nations in
health, education and the social services is accelerating as those
who can pay increasingly opt for private provision.
To combat these trends will require determined action across a
immediate help for those bearing the burden of unemployment;
a determined attack on poverty, aimed at releasing those locked
in the poverty trap, by raising the living standards of the hardest-pressed
action to raise standards in education and the quality of
health care provided by the NHS and remove the inadequacies in
the state services which lie behind the trend to private provision;
increased investment in housing, drawing on wider sources
of finance to build new communities of mixed ownership, together
with urgent attention to the rehabilitation of existing council
estates, the decentralisation of housing management and tenants'
giving serious priority to the environmental aspects of actions
and policy changes at the earliest possible stage;
creating one nation will also require positive action to tilt
the balance more in favour of disadvantaged and depressed minority
groups and to focus assistance on inner city areas.
This must be backed by firm action to strengthen the rule of law,
with support for an effective police force commanding the confidence
of the community in the fight against vandalism and crime.
Immediate Help for Those in Need
The burden of the slump is being borne quite disproportionately
by those now in long- term unemployment and by the poor, especially
poor families with children. We propose to take the following
measures straight away:
a) help for families with children by increasing Child
Benefit by £1.50 per week; increasing the Child Allowance
in Supplementary Benefit by £1.50 per week; increasing the
extra child allowance of one-parent families;
b) help for pensioners. We will up-rate the pension twice
a year because the present system gives rise to serious injustices.
We will make sure pensioners can earn money without losing pension;
we will increase the death grant to £250 for those of lesser
means; standing charges for gas, electricity and basic telephone
services will be abolished;
c) help for the unemployed and sick by increasing Unemployment
Benefit, Sickness Benefit and sick pay by 5 per cent; giving long-term
Supplementary Benefit to the long-term unemployed; changing the
rules so people are not forced to spend their redundancy money
before they can get Supplementary Benefit;
d) help for the disabled by spending an extra £200
million a year to make a start on many reforms which will help
disabled people. These will include the extension of the invalid
care allowance and full rights under the non-contributory invalidity
pension to married women and the abolition of the age limit on
the mobility allowance;
e) finance. The total cost of these proposals is approximately
£1 ,750m. This will be financed by: raising the upper limit
at which National Insurance contributions are paid to £31
5 per week; reversing the recent increases in the high rate tax
bands; and by the first stage of phasing out the married man's
tax allowance. Therefore this programme does not require an increase
in public borrowing.
The Alliance proposes to carry through a major overhaul of the
welfare system. The original grand design of the liberal reformer,
William Beveridge, has been mutilated over the years. Instead
of a basic benefit, which was to secure for the old, the sick
and the unemployed, a tolerable minimum standard of living as
of right, we have a complex network of benefits dependent on 44
different means tests. Many people are dependent on benefits which
are woefully inadequate. Millions are in poverty because they
fail to apply for benefits to which they are entitled. Others
find that they are worse off if they earn more.
Mass unemployment has made the scale of our problems greater than
at any time since the war. We believe that we can offer a better,
simpler structure of social security which would be the most important
reform since Beveridge.
In the long term, we plan a complete integration of the tax and
benefit systems. We aim in the next Parliament to bring together
all the major benefits - Family Income Supplement, housing benefits,
free school meals, Supplementary Benefit, and to replace them
with a simpler, single benefit, the size of which for each family
will depend basically on the number of children and their housing
The levels of benefit we propose mean that:
a working family with two children, currently earning £100
per week, will be around £24 per week better off;
single parents with two children, currently helped by Supplementary
Benefit, will be around £10 per week better off;
single pensioners only getting the state pension will be £5.50
per week better off, and pensioner couples in the same position
£10 per week better off;
help will especially be concentrated on poor families with
children since these are the real centres of hardship.
The benefit will be used to supplement people's income - whether
from a job, unemployment or sickness benefit or a pension - and
the amount people actually get will depend on their income. The
benefit will be gradually withdrawn as incomes rise - but in a
steady way so that as people earn more they do end up better off
despite the reduction of benefit - and the overall effect will
be a substantial boost to the incomes of those suffering most
The additional spending which the new welfare system will involve
will be paid for from three sources. First by the continued phasing
Out of the married man's extra tax allowance (over at least three
years}. This is part of the removal of sex discrimination in taxation
and will allow us to introduce the principle of separate taxation
of earned income for all men and women. Second, by not fully indexing
personal tax allowances, and third, by a relatively small increase
in public borrowing - around £600-£700 million over
the final programme.
This attack on poverty is basic to the Alliance strategy for creating
in Britain a more united and caring community. The Conservatives
speak only of an efficient and competitive society. We seek a
civilized community using the resources provided by a revived
economy to guarantee to all the security and self-respect that
are every citizen's right.
Education, Health and Housing
Building a united, civilized community requires decent standards
in education, health and housing for everyone. The Tories have
imposed savage cuts in the social services and an Alliance Government
would increase spending to restore and improve standards.
But it will not be enough just to spend money. The social services
are too centralised, too bureaucratic. They are often insensitive
and unaccountable. We will aim to make the social services more
democratic, attuned to the needs of the individual. In this way,
also, they will become more efficient.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The principal need in education and training is to release the
full potential of the individual. It is on the skills and energies
of our people that our survival depends. An increasingly complex
and technical society places great demands on the educational
system and as falling school numbers continue to release resources
these must not be withdrawn but invested to create better education
The needs of the under-fives have to be met by both education
and the social services.
We will ensure that at least one year of pre-school educational
experience is available for all children under five;
We will act to raise standards in the primary and secondary
schools in three ways:
i) by involving parents, teachers and local people more in
the running of schools - these are the people who really care
ii) by ensuring that children study a broader range of subjects
than they do now right through to eighteen, putting more stress
on maths, science and technical subjects as well as practical
skills to make them better equipped for life in today's world.
It is especially important to ensure that these opportunities
are equally available to girls as well as boys;
iii) by improving the in-service training of primary teachers
and of others with specialist skills e.g. in maths.
we will develop a broader bridge between school and work
including more part-time schooling, and more work experience
and better technical education for all pupils;
we will undertake a major re-organisation of education
and training for the 16-19s, so that school leavers are not
faced with the dole but can opt for either education and training
or employment or a combination of the two. Present arrangements
are disjointed. Britain is well behind its competitors, resources
have been devoted to ad hoc schemes not necessarily leading to
employment, and many young people are unable to acquire skills
and qualifications. So we propose:
i) a single Ministry of Education and Training combining the
youth training functions of the MSC and the responsibilities of
the Education Departments,
ii) full-time vocational courses offering sustained and properly
planned periods of work experience, and the replacement of the
time-served apprenticeship with training to set national standards,
iii) greater access to work experience for all 16-19 year
old students and a right to further education and training for
those of this age-group in work,
iv) expansion of the YTS to enable all 17 year olds not covered
by the above to participate in a Government training scheme,
v) a new system of educational maintenance allowances to ensure
that help is available to those who stay on at school, those who
opt for further education and those who opt for further training.
we will increase access to Higher and Further Education.
We shall also review the structure of higher education to
see that people who are keen to work in industry are provided
with the right range of skills at this level. This may mean for
example students typically taking a wider range of courses before
moving on to a job or more specialist education;
we will actively support Adult and Continuing Education.
Initial education alone cannot prepare people adequately for
life. It must be made easier for them as part of their normal
development to acquire new skills and to re4rain as technology
we will ensure further public support for the voluntary and
statutory sectors of the youth service.
Improvement in training facilities provided by the State will
be accompanied by fiscal and other incentives to companies to
increase their training efforts.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
The Alliance is wholly committed to sustaining and strengthening
the NHS. The Health Service must be funded to ensure that extra
help goes to those most in need and that sufficient resources
are available to meet the needs of our ageing population. The
Alliance is committed to the steady increase in the real level
of funding for the health and personal social services required
to maintain standards in the face of demographic changes
such as the increasing numbers of old people.
In addition, the Alliance will set up a special Fund with £500
million each year to pay for new schemes and ideas submitted
by area health authorities, local authorities and other voluntary
organisations to help the poorest areas and the neediest people.
The funding of this scheme will count as part of the Alliance's
immediate employment programme, and employment as well as other
criteria will govern the choice of projects by the fund. The areas
of greatest need in the health and social services are also high
unemployment areas, so that such a special fund is an ideal use
of available money.
Within the health programme, action will be taken to make
better use of the health budget by:
increased emphasis on primary care, health education and preventive
emphasising community care, not as a cheap option but because
of the improved quality of care this brings;
re-allocating funds between areas and between users to increase
equality of access to services for people in need whatever their
means or wherever they happen to live. Particular attention will
be given to the traditionally under-funded services such as those
for the elderly, the chronically disabled and the mentally handicapped;
encouraging local experiments and plans to improve services;
reducing the drugs bill by extending the practice of generic
prescribing, saving over one hundred million pounds.
The quality of care will also be improved by our policies in three
related areas. First, the continuing commitment of all NHS staff
is vital if the health service is to deliver the best care it
can. This means NHS staff must be properly and fairly treated.
We gave our commitment in Section II to determine pay in the public
services by a new system based on fair comparison with
other groups and a fair arbitration procedure which will also
apply to NHS staff. Second, we will pay far more attention to
prevention of accidents, illness and stress, making sure
that health and safety legislation is properly applied and reducing
environmental risks, for example by removing lead in petrol. Third,
we will work for much closer co-operation between public and private
services, to maximise the amount and coverage of health care available
to the community as a whole. As with private schools, we have
no wish to ban private health services, but nor will we subsidise
In the personal social services, the Alliance is determined
to make the welfare state less bureaucratic and more responsive
to people's needs, charting a more imaginative way forward by
creating community-orientated services, incorporating a much greater
degree of voluntary effort, and making much better use of the
dedication and enthusiasm of professional staff, working with
and through voluntary groups. We favour caring for people in the
community for example, helping the elderly to live among family
friends and neighbours. We will support and sustain the family,
in particular by helping those, especially women, who carry the
burden of this care. We will encourage the development of supportive
care in the community for children through a wide range of facilities
including pre-school play schemes and nursery centres, and will
support training for child-minders. Imaginative grants can produce
value for money and high community involvement.
Housing standards have fallen under the Tory Government, and fewer
houses have been built. Council tenants have been able to buy
their own houses but face almost impossible financial difficulties
if trying to move out of council estates into private housing.
Alliance housing policy has three basic aims: to restore the housing
stock where this is needed, to provide wider genuine choice for
consumers and to allocate available funds with greater fairness.
This will mean increased investment. Bntain's building industry
has been one of the worst hit by the recession. 1 in 8 of the
unemployed are in construction. Higher investment here will not
only help the tenant, the home buyer and the home-owner: it will
help the whole country by creating jobs and boosting the economy.
Investment There is an urgent need for increased investment
in housing. The Housing Programme has suffered more than any other
under this government, falling in cash terms from £4,514m
in 1979-80 to £2,792m now which represents a fall of almost
two-thirds in real terms. The all-party Environment Select Committee
predicts a shortage of nearly half a million houses by 1985. And
not enough is being spent even to maintain the standard of existing
houses. More than 2 million houses are now 'unfit for habitation'
or 'in serious disrepair', and the figure is rising.
a steady expansion of local Council and housing association
building programmes, particularly for the single and the elderly,
local council programmes to be in low density, human scale developments;
vigorous programmes of repair, improvement and rehabilitation
of existing Council estates;
scrapping VAT on repairs;
maximum use of improvement grants to the private sector with
particular help for elderly owner-occupiers who face difficulties
in maintaining their houses;
attracting institutional investment in a new type of non-profit
making rented housing to be managed by housing associations;
encouraging partnership schemes between local councils and
private builders to provide houses to rent; and low cost house
ownership opportunities on the same estates.
The last two proposals will involve new non-public money in housing,
and cut down the public expenditure costs of increasing housing
Widening choice in housing We propose:
changing council allocation and transfer procedures to give
tenants far more choice about where they live;
encouraging shared purchase and other schemes which bring
owner occupation within the reach of lower income families;
providing new sources of rented housing to compete with local
breaking up the large monolithic council housing departments
into Neighbourhood Housing Trusts run jointly by tenants and Council
decentralising the management of the remaining Council housing
to local offices responsible to local boards composed of Councillors
introducing a new Tenants Charter to define standards of repairs,
maintenance and amenities to which tenants are entitled;
giving tenants the right to call in an outside contractor
from an approved list when they are dissatisfied with the Council's
performance on repairs and sending the bill to the Council;
establishing a single national scheme to help tenants wanting
to move from one area to another.
The Right to Buy should be retained. After the introduction of
proportional representation and hence greater accountability.
Councils could be given more discretion to decide their housing
policy. However, there should be a right of appeal in which Councils
would justify to the Local Government Ombudsman any proposed restriction
on the individual's right to buy such as in areas of housing need
or in certain rural areas where cheap rented housing is necessary
to keep an adequate proportion of young people in the community.
Major extension of the capital home loan scheme At present
this scheme to help first time buyers is a paltry thing adding
at most £110 capital for £1,000 saved by the buyer.
The Alliance wants to give far more substantial aid to those determined
to buy their own homes but without the means to do so under present
We will extend the scheme so that anyone saving £1,000 over
2 years will receive an extra £1,000 at the end of that period.
Rents paid over more than five years by Council tenants will count
as equivalent to £1,000 savings and will also qualify for
the additional £1,000.10 years rent will entitle the tenant
to £1,500 and 15 years to £2,000. We will seek to devise
similar arrangements for private tenants.
Of course the present limits on the maximum value of properties
which can qualify for such assistance will be maintained. The
scheme is to help those who cannot otherwise become home-owners,
not to benefit those with adequate resources. This will be strictly
This measure is imaginative and bold. It opens up new prospects
and hope for many who are determined to save and work for a better
way of life.
Greater fairness Housing subsidies must be distributed
more according to need. Council tenants have been particularly
hard hit by the government's policy of deliberately forcing up
rents far faster than the rate of inflation. Central government
subsidies to local authority housing fell from £1 ,274m in
1980/81 to £370m in 1983/84 with the result that in most
parts of the country. housing accounts are now moving into surplus.
The Alliance says this process must stop. Council rents should
be fixed so that housing accounts balance. Any surplus should
be reinvested in improved management and maintenance, and not
used to subsidise the general rates.
For owner-occupiers, the Alliance's long-term policy is to reform
mortgage tax relief so that it relates to individual income rather
than the size of the loan. In the meantime, tax relief will be
limited to the standard rate of income tax. The Alliance also
intends to encourage 'low start' mortgages and other schemes to
bring home-ownership within the reach of more people.
There can be no healthy economy without a healthy environment.
For far too long we have been wasting irreplaceable resources
and amenities, both natural and manmade on which our community's
prosperity and well-being depend. In all public decision-making
the environmental aspects of changes should be assessed and taken
into account from the beginning.
We endorse the 'Polluter Pays' principle - that those responsible
for pollution should pay for the resultant environmental damage.
Existing pollution control legislation must be enforced and extended
as recommended by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
We will encourage the manufacture of products to last longer than
at present and the manufacture of those goods which cannot be
re-used from materials which can be re-cycled. We will provide
financial incentives for authorities with responsibility for waste
disposal to construct new plants to re-cycle waste material.
Without an effective public transport system the environment will
suffer serious damage and energy resources will be wasted. We
believe that new investment should be linked with modernised operating
practices to ensure a future for our railways, and we therefore
reject the negative philosophy of the Serpell Report. Careful
planning and co-ordination is required to meet the different public
transport needs of both the cities and the countryside.
We need a fundamental change in the way in which we plan our cities,
towns and villages to develop greater participation by those directly
affected, to protect, create and develop living communities.
Farming and Conservation
We will give increased responsibility to local bodies representative
of farming and environmental interests which would be based on
the present Farming and Wildlife Advisory Groups, in the award
of agricultural grants and subsidies, and which would seek to
reconcile different interests in the use of land.
Cruelty to animals and unnecessary suffering by animals demean
our society and the Alliance would, as a matter of priority, establish
an advisory Standing Commission on Animal Welfare. This would
keep under constant and rigorous examination all issues of animal
welfare including experimentation on live animals, the treatment
of farm animals, the transportation of animals and the regulations
covering the use of animals for entertainment. A caring community
must care for animals as well as for human beings.
TRANSFORMING THE POLITICAL SYSTEM
The introduction of Proportional Representation is the linchpin
of our entire programme of radical reform. Alone of the political
parties the Liberal Party and the SDP recognise that our economic
crisis is rooted in our political system. As class based parties,
Labour and Conservative represent and intensify our divisions.
The 'first-past-the-post' voting system ensures the under-representation
of all those who reject class as the basis of politics. Electoral
reform is thus a pre-condition of healing Britain's divisions
and creating a sense of community. It is also a change we must
make if we are, in the full sense of the word, to be a democracy.
The national interest demands electoral reform. The Alliance will
not hesitate to use its strength in the next Parliament to ensure
the introduction of a system which will strengthen the power of
A system based on proportional representation will provide a stable
political framework in two ways. First, in order to form a government,
political parties combining together will need to command the
support of about half the voters. The policies such a government
will pursue can only be less dogmatic and extreme than those likely
to be followed under our present system where governments can
be elected with the support of no more than one quarter of the
electorate. Secondly, the political parties will have to aim much
more for the centre ground and will be much more reluctant to
adopt the divisive policies we see at present.
Specifically we propose to:
replace the existing electoral system with a system of
Community Proportional Representation. It will be based on
multi-member constituencies which correspond to natural communities.
It will use a system of preferential voting under which people
list candidates in the order of their choice. The outcome will
be that the share of seats gained by the parties in Parliament
will reflect their support among the voters.
Thus natural communities like cities (e.g. Hull, Plymouth, Leeds,
Edinburgh), and counties (e.g. Somerset, Northumberland) will
be single multi-member constituencies of different size, represented
by different numbers of MPs. Preferential voting by single transferable
vote (STV} will enable the voter to distinguish between candidates
of a particular party and thus to affect the character of that
Party in Parliament. A single Party will not be able to gain a
parliamentary majority unless it secures nearly 50 per cent of
the votes. There will be a spread of representation in every part
of the country and we will see the end of the increasing political
polarisation between North and South.
Electoral reform is no academic matter. While this is our preferred
system it is not the only acceptable system of fairer voting.
It is necessary to strengthen and restore faith in our democratic
process, under which the relationship between seats and votes
is becoming entirely arbitrary. A switch to proportional representation
will transform the character of our politics, producing a more
constructive political dialogue, and it will change the nature
of the policies pursued by successive governments. As the fundamental
reform required for continuity of policy - crucial if we are gradually
and steadily to overcome our basic economic problems - it is no
less than the precondition for economic recovery and future prosperity.
In addition to electoral reform, the Alliance is committed to
two further constitutional reforms: decentralisation to make government
more accountable to the electorate, and basic legislation to protect
fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Our system of government is inefficient because it is over-centralised.
Departments, Ministers and Parliament are hopelessly overloaded
and Parliament cannot adequately control the executive; there
is great reliance on non-elected quangos, particularly at regional
level - such as Regional Health Authorities, and Regional Water
Authorities which together with the regional 'outposts' of central
government departments now constitute an undemocratic regional
tier of government; local government is too dependent on and dominated
by central government - which has eroded not only its independence
but also its sense of responsibility - and the Tories have made
the spending of individual local authorities subject to central
control. The overall result is lack of efficiency and lack of
accountability, and the concentration of political power in London
leads to a concentration of economic power there too, accentuating
the trend to two nations - a relatively prosperous South, and
a relatively deprived North. We need to disperse power in order
to help spread prosperity.
In the light of these deficiencies in the structure of government,
to transfer substantial powers and responsibilities, currently
exercised by the centre, to the nations and regions of Britain.
The demand for devolution is clearly stronger in Scotland
than in Wales or in some of the English regions, and we do not
believe that devolution should be imposed on nations or regions
which do not wish it. But there is a strong practical case, especially
in terms of regional development, for relevant public expenditure
to be allocated between and within regions in line with regional
needs. We therefore propose:
a) immediate action to set up a Scottish Parliament with
a full range of devolved powers, including powers to assist economic
development and powers to tax, but not to run a Budget deficit;
b) to enact Scottish devolution in an Act which would also
provide the framework for decentralisation to assemblies in Wales
and the English regions as demand develops;
c) in the English regions to set up economic development
agencies with substantial powers. To make these development
agencies, and other nominated regional authorities which already
exist, accountable in the first instance to regional committees
of a reformed Second Chamber.
d) in Northern Ireland to encourage a non-sectarian
approach to the problems of the province. We support the present
Northern Ireland Assembly and will work towards a return to devolved
power in place of direct rule from Westminster. We favour the
early establishment of an Anglo-Irish consultative body at parliamentary
level representing all parties at Westminster, Belfast and Dublin.
to revitalise local government, restoring its independence
and its accountability to the local electorate by:
a) introducing proportional representation at local level
to make local government representative of its electorate and
responsive to currents of opinion in that electorate;
b) simplifying the structure of local government to make it
more effective by abolishing one of the existing tiers of local
government. This will be done by stages against the background
of our proposals for the development of regional government. It
would inevitably involve the eventual abolition of the Metropolitan
Counties, and the GLC (but not ILEA) and would also allow for
the restoration of powers to some of the former County boroughs;
c) paving the way to the abolition of domestic rates and reducing
local government's dependence on central grant, by introducing
a local income tax. This change in the structure of local government
finance will increase the independence of local government;
d) extending the right of local communities to have statutory
Parish or Neighbourhood Councils.
to increase the accountability of Government to Parliament
by reforming the operation and procedures of the House of
Commons, to make its control of the executive more effective and
to reform the powers and composition of the House of Lords, which
must include a significant elected element representative of the
nations and regions of Britain.
This set of proposals amounts to an extensive decentralisation
of power from the centre, both to the nations and regions and
to local government, and to considerable strengthening of democratic
accountability at all levels of government.
Promoting Individual Rights
Resting on our laurels as the oldest modern democracy, we have
become smug and complacent with the result that the rights we
have taken for granted are being increasingly threatened. The
third major area of constitutional reform therefore includes a
series of measures to buttress our now shaky structure of liberties
and rights and guarantee them by law. Changes in the power of
the State, the media and in technology require specific protection
of rights by statute. Such action will be coupled with determined
action to strengthen the rule of law, giving full backing to the
police subject to a proper system of accountability.
The following are our proposals:
a new Bill of Rights. It is shaming that our citizens
have so frequently had to go to the European Court to have basic
rights enforced. We shall incorporate the rights and freedoms
of the European Convention of Human Rights into English, Scottish
and Northern Ireland law by means of a new Bill of Rights Act
which will be paramount over all inconsistent statutes and common
we shall create a UK Commission of Human Rights to
help people bring proceedings under the Bill of Rights to secure
compliance with its provisions. This will incorporate the existing
Equal Opportunities Commission and Commission for Racial Equality
and will deal with discrimination on grounds of sex or race;
the Alliance believes that sex and race equality are
fundamental to our society. they will be promoted by positive
action in relation e.g. to public employment policies which will
be monitored in central and local government. Anti-discrimination
legislation will be actively enforced;
nationality and immigration: we believe the British
Nationality Act 1981 to be offensive and discriminatory. We will
revert to the simple concept that all those born in Britain are
entitled to British Citizenship. There should be objective tests
for citizenship and a right of appeal against refusal. Immigration
controls will be applied without discrimination on grounds of
sex, race or colour, and rules on dependents will be revised to
promote family unity;
we shall legislate for public access to official information,
including the right of individuals to have access to information
on themselves, subject to a Code of Practice defining exceptions
we support state financing of political parties. Trade Union
members must have the right to 'contract-in' on the political
levy and to determine their union's party political affiliation
by secret postal ballot. There should be equivalent action to
regulate company donations to political parties.
The Rule of Law
We are dedicated to extending individual rights but rights also
carry responsibilities. We need to restore our traditions of responsible
citizenship. There is great concern about rising crime. The number
of serious cases has this year risen above 3 million for the first
time in our history. The rise in the crime rate has accompanied
the rise in unemployment. As the Conservative Government has put
more and more men and women out of work, the family has been undermined,
whole communities have lost their self-respect and good and neighbourly
values have been forgotten. Many citizens now live in terror of
the vandal, the mugger and the thief. Old people in particular
are cruelly exposed to violence and abuse. The causes of crime
are complex but we all have an obligation to resist the dangerous
slide to lawlessness that has brought fear to our streets. The
Alliance believes that it is vital to support and reinforce the
police in their efforts to prevent and detect crime.
But policing can only be effective if it is responsive to and
carries the support and confidence of local communities. We therefore
to support community policing with local policemen
on the beat and living locally, small local police stations and
reforms to police recruitment and training policy;
support for local liaison committees which will involve local
people in helping the police to do their job;
to enhance confidence in the police by introducing a conciliation
service and an independent system for the investigation
of serious complaints. We will establish a new police disciplinary
offence of racially prejudiced behaviour and introduce lay visitors
into police stations;
to improve police accountability outside London by
strengthening the community element on Police Authorities and
encouraging community representation at the level of police divisions.
For the Metropolitan Police, we shall as an interim measure establish
a Select Committee drawn from London MPs.
Action to protect and promote individual and minority rights is
an essential part of the Alliance's determination to heal division
and enhance Britain's awareness of being one, inter dependent
Community. Prejudice against racial and other minorities, discrimination
against them and against women in job opportunities and in pay,
all threaten the creation of this community. The Alliance is born
of Liberal and Social Democratic values. In government it would
be true to those values.
The Alliance recognises that the expansion of television technology
through cable, video cassettes and satellite offers great opportunities
in the creation of a better informed society and provides new
opportunities for the Arts.
However these technologies also carry dangers to our society if
they become vehicles for pornography and violence. This must not
be allowed to happen, and the State must have particular regard
to its responsibilities for the young.
PEACE AND SECURITY
Alliance policies in the field of foreign policy and defence are
uncompromisingly internationalist. They are based on the view
that Britain must play a full and leading role in the community
The Alliance holds that Britain's security as a country depends
on the cohesion and effectiveness of the NATO alliance; that our
political and economic interests require us to play our full part
in the European Community, and that the poorest countries of the
world can best be helped if the industrial nations pursue more
expansionary economic policies in concert.
The Alliance's commitment to internationalism and its recognition
of the inter dependence of nations clearly differentiates its
approach from that of both the Labour and Tory parties. In a dangerous
and complex world there is a temptation to withdraw into narrow
and nationalistic attitudes. This is what both the class-based
parties have done.
Labour is now pledged to policies which would isolate and weaken
Britain - import controls, unilateral withdrawal from the EEC,
one-sided disarmament. If these policies were enacted our Allies
would lose all confidence in us, the Western Alliance would be
badly undermined and as an economically debilitated and less influential
country we would be quite unable to launch the international initiatives
now desperately needed to help the poor of the world through concerted
economic expansion and aid.
The Conservative Party specifically refuses to recognise the true
inter-dependence of nations in its approach to both development
and peace. It has failed utterly 10 respond to the challenge of
the Brandt Report. Their refusal to countenance the inclusion
of Britain's nuclear systems in any disarmament negotiations displays
their lack of real commitment to multilateral disarmament; their
determination to spend vast sums on Trident betrays their lack
of confidence in any commitment to our alliance with the United
The Alliance sees little prospect for progress towards a more
peaceful, prosperous and just world unless inter-dependence is
accepted as the basis of international relations. This leads us
to radically different policies from those advocated by the class
based parties in three key areas:
Defence and Disarmament
The Alliance believes Britain must be properly defended and our
forces equipped for that task. We pay tribute to the courage and
determination of our armed forces in the Falklands and in Northern
Ireland. Our defence policies reject both Labour's one-sided disarmament
and the Conservatives' escalation of the nuclear arms race. The
main points of our policies for defence are:
to adhere firmly to the principles of collective security.
Britain cannot defend herself alone, and the NATO Alliance has
made a decisive contribution to the maintenance of peace in Europe.
Participation in NATO must be the cornerstone of the country's
defence policy, and in order to consolidate the NATO Alliance
we reaffirm our commitment to the NATO target for strengthening
conventional forces in Europe;
we accept the need for a nuclear component in the NATO deterrent
whilst the USSR has nuclear weapons. NATO should however move
away from its present excessive dependence on the early use of
nuclear weapons. We therefore support raising the nuclear threshold
in Europe and moving towards a 'no first use' policy by
strengthening NATO's conventional forces and establishing a 150km
Battlefield Nuclear Weapon- Free Zone at the central front. An
Alliance Government would regard such a zone as the basis for
negotiations with the Russians on a wider verifiable nuclear weapon-free
we strongly back multilateral disarmament and arms
control efforts, in particular the Geneva negotiations for reduction
in both sides strategic (START) and the intermediate range (INF)
nuclear weapons. More specifically, the START and INF talks should
be merged or at least closely linked so that trade-offs can be
made across weapons systems: Trident should be cancelled
to avoid a new and provocative contribution to the nuclear arms
race and demonstrate our commitment to arms control; Polaris
should be included in the merged START and INF talks as a
further contribution to the prospects of multilateral disarmament.
the Geneva negotiations should be pursued to a successful
conclusion. Before deciding whether or not to oppose the deployment
of Cruise missiles in Britain, an Alliance Government will take
account in particular, of the negotiating position of the Soviet
Union and the United States; the attitude of our NATO partners
in Europe; and whether arrangements for a double safety-catch
system have been agreed;
if successful progress in nuclear weapons reductions has not
been achieved in the negotiations at Geneva, an Alliance Government
will explore the opportunities for a verifiable, mutual freeze
on the production and deployment of all nuclear weapons;
we strongly support an agreement between East and West to
ban the production and possession of chemical weapons
and we would work for mutual and balanced force reductions
in Europe and a comprehensive test ban to strengthen the Non-Proliferation
on international security, we support the recommendations
in the Palme Report, and wish to see the UN's peace-keeping role
strengthened, and increased powers given to the UN Secretary-General.
An Alliance Government will press for a European initiative to
register the sale of arms to third world countries, and will act
to end sales of British arms to regimes which persistently and
brutally violate human rights.
This set of policies - stressing disarmament on both sides, a
nuclear weapon-free zone in Europe, strengthened conventional
forces for NATO and reduced NATO reliance on nuclear weapons,
the cancellation of Trident and the inclusion of Polaris in disarmament
negotiations - will reduce the danger of nuclear conflict and
increase Britain's security.
Membership of the European Community
The Alliance is wholly committed to continuing UK membership of
the European Community. Membership has increased our political
influence with our European neighbours and in the world beyond.
Continued membership is also unequivocally to our economic advantage.
The community is by far Britain's largest trading partner, with
over half of our exports going to community countries or countries
with whom they have Free Trade Agreements. It also provides an
influential framework for the discussion of the Irish problem
between two member states, ourselves and the Irish Republic. Withdrawal,
to which Labour is committed would have a highly destructive effect
on exports and hence on jobs. We would also lose a great deal
of foreign, particularly US investment which has come here because
we are in the Community.
The Alliance advocates further development of the Community and
new common policies. At the same time however, there is a great
deal wrong with the structure of existing policies, and we will
take the lead in putting things right.
First, we support political development of the Community through
adoption of the common electoral system for the 1984 direct elections
to the European Parliament; more majority voting in the Council
of Ministers; and greater involvement of the European Parliament
in the appointment of the Commission.
Second, to correct the imbalance in existing activities, an Alliance
Government will press for expansion of Community activity on regional
and social policies, industrial innovation, energy conservation
and the development of renewable sources of energy. To develop
new policies we accept the need for an increase in community revenues
on a more diversified and fairer basis. We will work for some
reduction in the agriculture budget first by holding back intervention
prices for agricultural products in surplus and if need be by
setting a limit on the quantities of production eligible for intervention
These are important policies which will help to solve the British
budget problem, help solve some of Europe's most chronic difficulties
such as the imbalance of wealth and development between regions,
and switch the balance of Community activities more directly in
line with Britain's needs.
Third, we will take the lead in advocating the development of
new policies where Europe has everything to gain from standing
together. We must increasingly stand together in trade talks,
following the pattern of the recent Multi-Fibre Arrangement talks
and GATT talks in which the Commission spoke for the Community.
We must increase political co-operation to reach consensus on
foreign policy questions and be prepared to move into new areas
such as a common procurement policy for defence. We need to develop
a Community industrial policy to spend money on easing the pain
for areas dependent on declining industries and also in encouraging
new, high technology investment. And we need to develop and back
initiatives at European level through the Social Fund aimed at
reducing youth unemployment from 25 per cent to the level of general
unemployment. There is great scope for launching joint economic
policies and an Alliance government will take the lead in advocating
them. Fourth, an Alliance government will make Britain a full
member of the European Monetary System in order to iron out the
wild fluctuations in the exchange rate which have done such damage
to exports and jobs over the last few years.
Helping the World's Poor
Conservative policy towards the poor countries of the world has
been mean and short sighted, reducing the level of British aid
and effectively excluding Third World students from our higher
education system. The widespread pursuit of restrictive policies
has plunged the world into the worst slump for 50 years, and the
poor countries have suffered most. On the other hand, Labour's
restrictive trade policies would be extremely damaging to the
developing world. There is no hope for them or for the rest of
the world if protection leads on to waves of retaliation and countries
destroy each other's markets, sending the world economy spiralling
We want to do two things. First, to advocate joint policies, to
be developed and implemented by the major industrial countries,
to take the world out of slump. We advocate co-ordinated action:
a) joint expansionary measures following the example
of the 1978 Bonn Economic Summit, so that the main countries expand
together, so managing to avoid balance of payments difficulties
and the inflationary consequences of collapsing currencies;
b) monetary stability. Co-operation between the three
main currency blocs - the US, Japan and the EMS (including Britain)
- to keep their currencies stable;
c) Additional finance for the developing world so that
general expansion is not frustrated by credit constraints - increased
resources for the IMF and World Bank, and fresh issues of international
money (Special Drawing Rights).
International policies of this kind could chart the way out of
recession. In so doing they would help developing countries -
and, indeed, the developed countries alike - than any foreseeable
increases in levels of aid. However, Britain has a significant
individual contribution to make to Third World development through
its own aid programme. An Alliance government would:
increase the proportion of GNP spent on aid over 5 years to
0.7 per cent;
concentrate aid on the poorest countries and on the poorest
people in those countries;
increase financial support for the work of voluntary agencies,
stressing urgent projects;
promote more generous funding for overseas students, especially
those from the poorest countries and the poorest students from
support the principles of the Brandt Report, and in particular
the proposals for increased credit through the international institutions.
The programme of reform set out in this document rivals in scope
and imagination that of the liberal reforming government of 1906-11
or the Attlee administration of 1945-51. It is a formidable challenge
to the nation to opt for a decisive change of course to put things
right. There is no chance that either of the two old class parties
will carry out any of the fundamental reforms - to the system
of pay determination, or the structure of industrial relations,
or the welfare state or the political system - advocated in this
document, all of which are now desperately needed. The Alliance
alone provides the opportunity to decide against the failures
of the past and offers new hope for the renewal and rejuvenation
of our country. Back to manifesto index. Last Modified: Monday, 22-Oct-2012 14:01:27 BST