Focus on the politics as well as social issues

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into future Labour Party policy. In my opinion it is vital to deal with political as well as social issues. The Tories never hesitate to chip away at Labour's powerbase or undermine its support structures whereas Labour has done very little to counter their considerable advantages. This needs to change because our democracy is threatened by concentration of power the hands of a privileged elite. There will of course be strong opposition from those that hold power so this will have to be a decades-long project of gradual reform and improvement. It is vital that changes are carefully planned and implemented in such a way that they cannot easily be reversed. In my opinion the following areas should be prioritized. In this list, Mainstream Media is the number one priority, Business and Party Funding are equal second and Nationalisation is in fourth place. Mainstream media (MSM): - Implement Leveson. - Prohibit ownership by a single owner or company above x% of the shares of any MSM organization. If x% is high (above 5% say,) then no individual or company can own more than y% (where y% is a less than x%, 0.1% say,) in more than one MSM organisation. - Introduce rules requiring boards to include a minimum number of non-executive directors from alternative backgrounds. E.g. charities, trade unions, academia, employees. - Ban board members and owners from interfering with editorial matters. - Introduce mandatory professional accreditation for journalists. Journalists that contravene the charter can be struck off which would prohibit them from working in any MSM organisation. (Journalists perform a vital public service and must be subject to the same standards as other professionals.) Business: There is a strong case for reforming the way publicly owned companies are run. At present fund managers are automatically allowed to exercise the votes of all the shares they manage. This is analogous to the trade union "block vote" which was abolished many years ago. It gives fund managers enormous power and results in large, publicly owned companies being run by a small, privileged elite. It is one reason why directors' pay has risen beyond any reasonable level and continues to rise, even when companies have failed due to bad management (so-called "rewards for failure") and has on many occasions led to poor decisions and heavy losses or bankruptcy. I propose the following changes which will introduce more and better accountability and therefore lead to better decisions: - Prohibit fund managers from exercising the votes of the shares that they hold on behalf of investors. - Allow the owners of those shares to nominate an "approved" organization that can vote on their behalf. - Approved organizations can include charities, pressure groups (e.g. environmental, business, etc.) trade unions, groups promoting the interests of private shareholders, etc. All approved organisations would be authorised by government and would probably need to operate on at least a national level. - Public companies would not be allowed to make charitable or other donations (e.g. to political parties) without majority shareholder approval which would be put to the vote at the AGM. - All employee "perks" should count as pay and taxed accordingly, whether paid as a salary, bonus, share incentives, company cars, free travel, free living accommodation, etc. - The minimum wage paid by a company must be not less than x% (10% say) of the maximum earnings of any other member of the organisation. - Abolish zero hours contracts. Party Funding: It's important to reform party funding to prevent conflicts of interest. Possible options would be: - Companies which make donations to political parties should be prohibited from bidding for government contracts or alternatively (simpler option) companies are prohibited from donating to political parties altogether. - Large donations from private individuals also prohibited (e.g. max donation of £100 per person) wealthy individuals should not be allowed to buy influence. - Donations via third parties should be criminal offence: e.g. you can't give money to an organisation which then donates it to a political party and you can't give money to another individual to donate to a political party. Nationalisation This is already being discussed in terms of the railways, The Post Office and energy companies. In my view the government should _not_ buy out existing shareholders. This will require large amounts of public debt and it would be tempting for future governments to privatise again leading to further windfall profits at the expense of the public purse. Instead "golden shares" should be issued which give the government overall control of all management decisions. Another option (which could be used alongside the golden share) would be to issue a number of new shares annually for a period of years, all to be owned by the government and at zero cost. Over a period of time the private shareholders would be diluted so that the value of their shares would drop, but this would be a gradual decline in value over a number of years. Eventually the government would have a majority shareholding and could, if it so wished, continue to dilute the private shareholders until their shares become almost worthless. This scheme has the following advantages: - It doesn't cost the government anything to nationalise a company. - Private shareholders do not lose all their value immediately, there is a gradual decline over a long period which allows them to adjust their holdings and minimise their losses. This is akin to introducing new taxes on business in a gradual, incremental way to avoid a big shock to the system. The disadvantages are: - Private shareholders will lose out over the long run, which would cause political opposition. Perhaps this can be countered by pointing out the excellent profits that have been made in the past. - There is nothing to stop a new government selling or cancelling the government-owned shares. However people would be dissuaded from buying shares of privatised companies if they knew that their holdings could be diluted without compensation by a future Labour government.


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