Wed, 21 Feb 2007

Roll back the frontiers of Government in the next administration and make Britain an economic powerhouse of the 21st Century


We the undersigned petition the incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his new Chancellor, or their Tory opposite numbers if Prime Minister Blair clings on until an election, to roll back the boundaries of recent Governments and free the people and businesses of Britain for a busy and prosperous 21st Century, and most specifically to:

  1. Cancel the expensive centralised ID Cards boondoggle immediately. Instead Government to promote and accept a range of trusted and secure third party forms and methods of identification, authentication and authorisation, each appropriate to purpose, such as online authorisation from financial or other newly-established institutions, computer identification certificates e.g., notarised signatures, and other existing legal forms.

    Why: Identity and authentication are big criminal and security growth areas now (I work in IT security and would really rather I had a more positive job). Solving them will be the economic boom area of the early 21st century. We have experts in this field in the UK, so Britain can lead the world in business, set standards, and host a whole spectrum of financial spin-offs - provided only that we tackle the commercial problems involved in internationally secure assured identity. We are going to have to find out for our own security how to work with legal assurances from other countries so it's really important that we actually do so - why not make money from it by selling our services ?

    The proposed insecure and centralised Government ID Card scheme, in contrast, shows a considerable lack of forethought, and will leave Britain in the economic Third World with the state security of Iron Curtain Europe.

    ["Why Cryptosystems fail", Proceedings of the 1st ACM conference on Computer and communications security 1993, Ross Anderson, University Computer Laboratory, Pembroke Street, Cambridge; "Sensible Authentication: Identification, Authentication, and Authorization", CACM Queue Feb 2004, Bruce Schneier, Counterpane Security; "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World", pub. Copernicus Books September 2003, Bruce Schneier]

  2. Re-evaluate our duties under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and move to a harm-reduction based approach to reducing drug use, such as the successful "British Method" ["A review of the Second Report of the Interdepartmental Committee on Addiction", United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC 1966; "Heroin-based treatment in Germany", Journal of Drug Issues, Spring 2002, Michels, Ingo Ilja] as used in Holland, Switzerland and Portugal. Licence controlled sales to adults (possibly with doctors' certificate for the addictive ones) from authorised premises in the same way that alcohol and tobacco and even methadone are now officially controlled, to avoid the present evils of drug prohibition and criminalisation.

    Why: This will cut the legs from underneath the tabloids' Gangster Britain and convert the biggest sector of the black economy into tax-paid legal business (eat your heart out Al Capone). Save approx £8 billion per year currently wasted in promoting/policing the futile War On Some Drugs, and gain another £8 billion in licensed drug sales - instant £ 16 billion win to the exchequer and a recurring £8 Bn annual windfall. Cash to build up needy NHS mental services, cash for neighbourhood policing to prevent legalised drugs from getting out of hand, better social services and support to stop the needy falling into drug problems, cash for reducing personal taxes, cash for investing in UK business, etc etc. Above figures all come from Government statistics and think tanks.

  3. Repeal the greedy and pernicious Inland Revenue regulations "IR35" and "S660A" which are designed purely to tax small one- and two- person businesses into the ground and steal the cash that should have been invested for growth and seen them through the recent recession. Restore the foundations of economic prosperity to Britain's small expert contractors, designers and retailers by legally limiting the tax definitions of "employment" as applied to a one or two man Company with self-held shareholding and a monopoly customer ["SMALL BUSINESS ISSUES - PARAGRAPH 5.95 OF THE BUDGET 2004 RED BOOK", Chartered Institute of Taxation and Tax Faculty, September 2004], to attract intellectual skills and provide Britain with a financially secure, well-paid, skilled and flexible IT workforce for the 21st Century.

    Why: The economic boom from such a windfall of tax reductions would need a sure hand not prone to panic: in the Chancellory to steady other Government economic policies and in the Bank of England on interest rates. On the other hand it would kick-start a massive re-growth in Britain's small IT sector to the point where, as before 1999, we could once again compete with Asian outsourcing and low-taxed Silicon Valley. The tax loss in question should be more than compensated by the business growth resulting as well as the foregoing two changes. The last year before IR35 in my audited accounts for 1998-9 I paid £17,000 total tax, plus VAT on turnover - now due to IR35 doubling my company's taxation and resulting flat small-business markets, this year I am paying you just £8,000 total and no VAT. Are you, Mr. incoming Chancellor, good enough to repeal IR35, treat small companies equally with big ones, and handle the resulting increase in tax take ? Your small IT businesses hope so because we are crying out to be allowed to grow and invest !

  4. Significant tax revenue from road pricing, congestion charges, fuel duty, and other transport taxes to be ring fenced for any cost-effective (public or environmental return > 1%) public transport improvements at both local and national levels. Reverse year 2006/7 Department For Transport rail franchise cutbacks in SW England, NW England, Wales, Scotland etc. Invest in new and refurbished rolling stock for longer and more frequent trains, enhance future franchises to reduce overcrowding, and back extension of electrification, bus-rail interchange and re-opening of routes, tramways and stations to promote essential UK economic mobility.

    Why: We wasted our oil revenues - let's not waste this tax too. I have to travel for work from north of Derby to Keele, a journey of just over an hour in a car, but which takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours by public transport. I work at home as much as my employer permits, and I realise hypothecation is a dirty tax word, but we the public expect you the Government to invest our money in the transport sectors you expect us to use. There are some good investment ideas emerging from the lower parts of the DfT for infill electrification and rail company co-operation with private enterprise, but it seems in general the Secretaries and Ministers have missed the train which had their plans on - in fact they've probably cancelled it. Since 1995 successive Governments have been playing with their trains. Now let us have no more secretive Railroad Tycoon franchise brinkmanship from the train-set operators at the DfT as seen in 2006-7. Leave renting the stock and planning the trains to the franchised entrepreneurs, and limit Government's rôle to providing broad direction under clear long term plans, open investment in national infrastructure, and underwriting of larger TOC growth/co-operation schemes.

If you are as angry as I am at the increase in Government interference in our lives, at being ignored at the ballot box and overriden by un-elected advisors, at the money being wasted in our names on propping up long-failed policies and introducing new failures, the ever increasing taxation and the ever decreasing services, then please sign the petition at the URL below. The closing date is 20th February 2008 as I hope our lame duck PM Blair will finally have gone by then and we will have a new and more effective Prime Minister, one who listens to the people, not just to those who want to curry favour with him.

Sign at this Government website

The security checksum below is signed with my key 0x2AD08766 and dated 21st February 2007, but - the signing applies to the HTML between the cut lines, not to the text as rendered on your page which is browser dependent ! It may validly change if the embedded links change but this will be uploaded as a separate journal.

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