THIRD WAY MANIFESTO 1997
Ch1 Ch2 Ch3
Ch4 Ch5 Ch6
 
 

CHAPTER  1

WIDER OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY

Third Way believes that the widespread ownership of property produces political stability, social cohesion, and greater freedom of action for individuals and communities. This means people having a greater degree of involvement in the ownership and control of the places where they live and work, and may be through shares in companies, partnerships, workplace representation and economic democracy.

In the 1980s the Conservative Party spoke of "popular capitalism" and promised a "property-owning democracy". In practice, however, privatisation of public utilities like telecommunications, gas and water has meant the effective concentration of ownership in a few hands -- mainly hands tied to transnational corporate interests. Although more people own shares (over nine million at last count), these have proved to be little more than token concessions, and have brought with them little or no democratic control. New investors received little information about the rights and responsibilities that share ownership should bring, thus many came to regard them as an alternative form of savings. Money from Building Society accounts was therefore switched into shares, with few investors trading on a regular basis. Taken as a percentage, direct share ownership by individuals in Britain is minuscule. The Unit Trust Investment and Pension Funds have all the clout.

We believe that privatisation has been an expensive confidence trick, which created new bureaucratic conglomerates that have no sense of obligation to the people and communities they purport to serve. It has brought no more than a temporary illusion of popular involvement in the economy.

Third Way opposes further "privatisations" planned by the Tories, for example that of the London Underground. We believe that New Labour's talk of a "stakeholder economy" is a charade -- a front for the neo-Thatcherite programme they intend to impose. The question of "private" or "state" ownership is increasingly irrelevant.... there are many forms of ownership. What matters is how industries and utilities are controlled -- and whether or not they serve the wider community.

Transforming Existing Companies

Third Way views the company as something more significant and socially relevant than a mere instrument for maximising profits. In the economic system we envision, which transcends capitalism and socialism, the company would become a wealth-creating organism rooted in the community, serving the interests of employees, consumers and shareholders alike. Proponents of free-market dogma and economic globalisation constantly cite the successes of Asian "Tiger Economies" such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan... yet for some reason they fail to mention that in these societies the company has traditionally been seen asan organic structure, based on reciprocal relationships between employers and employees, and serving a wider national interest.

Third Way advocates widening employee participation and increasing the links between the workplace and the wider society. Our policy is :

  • that employees be made members of their companies through trust funds set up on their behalf, allowing them to exercise their individual right to vote according to the number of shares their interest in the trust fund represents. In other words, we are in favour of extending the present government's trade union reforms to all areas of workplace activity.
     
  • that company general meetings include representatives of employees and consumers.
     
  • that there be the introduction of a Social Audit to appraise how far companies meet their stated social objectives.

These policies would bring about a profound shift in the balance of economic power in the country. They are profoundly radical -- but at the same time practical and realistic, which is why they represent a greater threat to the political establishment than the empty revolutionary rhetoric of the left and the hate propaganda of the right. The policy objectives may quite easily be realised. Many companies already have some degree of employee participation. Employee Share Ownership plans (ESOPs) have mushroomed in recent years. We would encourage further developments. To begin the process of democratising the economy, all that is needed is an amendment to the Companies Act.

Encouraging Co-Operative Ownership

Co-operatives are a form of extended partnership. Workers come together under an agreed set of rules to share the ownership and management of a business. There is a rich tradition of co-operative ownership in Britain; indeed, it can be seen as our most native form of socialism -- promoted in the nineteenth century by entrepreneurs like Robert Owen, and the trade union pioneers. Within the Labour movement it was an important alternative to the notion of state control and socialism-from-above. We believe that co-operatives represent a Third Way for industrial relations -- offering common ownership and community links without the heavy hand of the State, and providing a sound basis for enterprise and initiative on a human scale.

Co-operatives should therefore be encouraged as part of our wider strategy to increase property ownership and spread decision-making throughout the community. At present the co-operative sector in Britain is regrettably small. According to the Open University Co-operative Research Unit, there are some 1,400 worker co-operatives in Britain employing a total of between 8,000 and 9,000 people with a combined turnover of £300 million. The biggest has 600 members. We would like to see more, and advocate :

  1. A Co-operative Act to enshrine co-operatives in our legal system, as an alternative form of ownership and control.
     
  2. That State funds be assigned for Co-operative development, as in Italy under the Marcora Law of 1985.
     
  3. Community initiatives -- backed by state funding -- to train the unemployed in the skills needed to form co-operatives (for example, in financial management) and to provide them with investment capital.
     
  4. State action to rescue ailing businesses and transform them into "phoenix" Co-ops.


Supporting Small Business

Third Way is the movement of the small business man and woman. We oppose the destruction of local shopping areas, the unnecessary burdens of red-tapeand unfair competition. We would like to reverse the present trend for out-of-town shopping centres, and would seek to return the high street to its historic role as a focal point for the local community.

Third Way believes that transport planning policies should be geared to providing each local area with a heart, with social spaces alongside shops and businesses. Legislation affecting small business should be reviewed and simplified, such that small-scale enterprise might again become the basis of the economy; the beginnings of a shift of power and dependency, away from exploitative and environmentally irresponsible transnational corporations and privatised monopolies. In other words, we agree with the economist E.F. Schumacher in Small is Beautiful. As Schumacher wrote :

Small-scale operations ... are always less likely to be harmful to the natural environment than large-scale ones, simply because their individual force is small in relation to the recuperative forces of Nature.


TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

CHAPTER  2

TRUE DEMOCRACY

No More Decisions About Us, Without Us!
(Shipyard Workers' slogan : Gdansk, Poland, 1980)

We are constantly told by our political masters that we live in the oldest, most perfect democracy, benevolently presided over by the "Mother of Parliaments". In reality, Britain is the most centralised state in the Western world. Instead of authentic democracy, the peoples of England, Scotland, Ulster and Wales are all subject to direct rule from Westminster. The electoral system does not reflect popular opinion, local democracy is almost toothless, regions and minority cultures lack political expression of any kind (except through the "do-it-yourself" politics of protest campaigns), and Westminster itself has become a rubber-stamp for destructive, unpopular policies. On most issues of popular concern, the will of the majority of our country is frustrated by party hacks remote from the people they supposedly represent, and usually in the pockets of corporations or lobby groups.

The experience of eighteen years of Tory misrule shows that the trend is towards centralisation. Whole tiers of government (such as the GLC) have been legislated away, while divisive or deeply controversial policies (the Poll Tax and Maastricht) have been steamrollered through without any thought of consulting the people. All three establishment parties have colluded in this process of centralisation, whatever their protests to the contrary. It is no coincidence that these same centralising political leaders wish to lock our peoples into an unrepresentative European superstate that lacks political legitimacy and true cultural foundations.

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and Charter 88 talk of "constitutional reform", by which they mean tinkering with the rules but leaving the basic structures of government in place. We in Third Way go further, in the belief that those structures are by nature undemocratic and are designed to exclude rather than reflect the popular will. The present, centralised, system which concentrates power and prevents change has its roots in the Norman Conquest and the process of colonisation that followed. Piecemeal changes cannot significantly alter its nature; the system of government and the way power is distributed in this country must be reformed root-and-branch.

We believe that the peoples of this country should adopt the Swiss system of direct democracy. Based on self-governing local communities co-operating within a loose framework, it has enabled four distinct cultures and language groups (French, German, Italian and Romansch) to work together yet at the same time preserve their distinctive identities. It promotes active citizenship, giving each citizen a true stake in his or her community. Switzerland enjoys an enviable degree of political stability and ecological sustainability.

We would give the British peoples, like the Swiss peoples, the right to decide their own future through direct democracy. We want to see government from the grassroots upwards, not from the top downwards as at present. We propose :

  • The right for the people to initiate legislation. 5% of voters should, by petition, be able to compel the holding of a binding poll on whether a proposed law of their own choosing should be adopted, or whether a particular law already in force should be replaced.
     
  • People should have the right to petition for a referendum concerning a Bill which has passed through our representative institutions in the normal way, but has not yet taken effect. A valid petition of 5% of the electorate (nationally or locally) should be enough to compel a referendum on the proposed measure before it is implemented.
     
  • The people should have the right to petition for the holding of an election on the recall, or removal, of public officials who have (for example) been corrupt or incompetent in office, or broken their word to the people who elected them.


In the context of Britain today, these proposals might appear radical, even revolutionary. In a sense they are; yet they are also practical, easy to achieve and very necessary if any form of democratic political culture is to survive. Initiative is already working in practice in Austria, the Swiss Cantons (local self-governing communities) and twenty-three US states plus the District of Columbia. A system of legislative referendum operates in twenty-four US states, and recall in thirteen US States. In November 1996, for example, the majority of California's electorate voted to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes and to outlaw "positive discrimination" quotas in employment. Establishment politicians in Britain must quake at the thought of our electorate having such powers.

Third Way would replace the increasingly senile "Mother of Parliaments" with a new National Assembly. This would consist of two chambers elected by proportional representation; its powers defined, limited and underpinned by a written constitution based on the concepts of popular sovereignty and the natural, inalienable rights of all citizens.

Individual Rights

Third Way, like the great liberal thinker John Stuart Mill, believes that : The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised in a civilised community ... is to prevent harm to others. We also share Mill's fear that any form of government, however democratic or communitarian, can become a "tyranny of the majority". As such, we see a Bill of Rights as part of a structure of counter-power. It will remind beleaguered minorities and individuals that there is such a thing as society and that we are all part of it. The test of a civilised society is its ability to incorporate dissidents, those who challenge commonly-held values the most. A Bill of Rights will replace a culture of conformism with a culture of freedom, and a Freedom of Information Act will enable citizens to access information about themselves and the way they are governed.

We envisage a Bill of Rights which amongst its provisions :

  • Outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious or spiritual belief, political opinion or disability.
     
  • Guarantees the right of reply to factually incorrect allegations in the media.
     
  • Ensures the right to free association and assembly.
     
  • Protects freedom of expression.
     
  • Underwrites the right to privacy.
     
  • Guarantees a basic income, an adequate standard of living, a home and a clean environment..... (We consider poverty and social injustice to be two of the greatest limitations on personal freedom)


Assemblies For England, Scotland, Ulster and Wales

Third Way favours separate National Assemblies for Scotland, Ulster,England and Wales, within an agreed confederation on the Swiss model. We recognise each of these entities as a distinct nation with its own culture. We would work to promote co-operation between this British community of nations, while extending the spirit of friendship to other European nation-states and building a new relationship of trust with "developing" countries and emerging democracies.

Other distinct regions of the British Isles would also be entitled to form their own assemblies should a majority of their inhabitants vote for self-rule.

TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

CHAPTER  3

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

The peoples of England, Ireland, Scotland, Ulster and Wales have distinct yet closely related cultures. Third Way believes that such cultural identity enriches and gives meaning to the lives of individuals and communities. The defence of cultural diversity, and the protection of our native cultural traditions, should lie at the heart of government policy towards education, the economy and defence.

We believe that the cultures of the British Isles are threatened by the "globalisation" of the economy, which puts immediate consumer demand before a sense of place or a respect for cultural heritage. Foreign-owned corporations, television soap operas, newspapers, advertising and large sections of the music industry promote a uniform, levelled-down culture based on materialism and transient relationships, whereby the individual is reduced to the level of passive consumer. Globalisation is founded on ignorance of the past and indifference towards the future -- and on a present increasingly characterised by ecological crisis and social iniquity.

At the same time, a succession of weak, unrepresentative governments have signed away our peoples' right to self-determination to supra-national bodies such as the European Union and NATO. They are steadily removing our right to decide our own future and defend our cultural roots. The destruction of our cultures serves the interests of supra-national bureaucrats and transnational corporations, because it reduces us to a rootless, transient population disconnected from its history. This is why mass population shifts of economic migrants into these islands have been encouraged by all three establishment parties, and a policy of enforced assimilation imposed on natives and immigrants alike. This policy of assimilation is often described as "multi-culturalism", but in practice involves the erosion of both majority and minority cultures. Muslim community leaders, for example, recently criticised "multi-faith" education in state schools, on the grounds that it undermines the concept of religious faith and hence is detrimental to Muslims as well as Christians, Jews and other religious communities.

Non-European ethnic minorities constitute approximately six to ten per cent of the present population. We welcome their positive contribution to the economy, the arts and many other aspects of national life. The social cost of immigration has, however, been borne primarily by the indigenous working-class communities in our cities. Working-class communities were never consulted by either Labour or Conservative governments about whether they wanted to become "multi-cultural" or retain their own British identities. Immigration has therefore been one of many weapons directed against the working-class by a political and economic elite which does not respect their co-operative traditions, and benefits from their disintegration. The introduction of new population groups to working-class areas has, with other factors, contributed to the fragmentation and breakdown of the extended family and support network these communities need to survive. Community breakdown has in turn created a growing culture of violence, suspicion and hate.

Third Way unequivocally rejects racism and the politics of hate propagated by the far right. Racism is the assumption that one culture, or one group of human beings, is inherently superior to another and that this should be reflected in government policy. Third Way, by contrast, respects and values all human cultures -- our own and other peoples' alike. We do not accept that there can be a hierarchy of cultures. But we also state categorically that assimilationism and "positive discrimination" are undesirable, and that attempts to force this policy on different peoples in our lands can lead only to alienation and conflict. In place of multi-cultural conformity, we want to enshrine cultural diversity, in the belief that cultural identity is a human right, and that there can be no democratic, sustainable society without strong cultural foundations. Third Way therefore advocates :

  • The outlawing of "positive discrimination", quotas and other forms of social engineering.
     
  • A halt to further mass non-European immigration. (This policy has been favoured consistently by a majority of Asian and Afro-Caribbean people already resident here.)
     
  • Strict limits on those granted asylum -- but with a fair and expeditious processing of asylum claims. We would aim to iron out inconsistencies in the asylum application process, and end the use of prison as a way of controlling asylum applicants who have committed no crime. We recognise that movements of population are an end-result of poverty, the arms trade, arbitrarily-drawn borders, dictatorships, and the plundering of countries by corporate interests. Third Way believes these problems should be tackled at their roots, by distinct cultures learning to work together.
     
  • Generously financed, non-coercive resettlement programmes for those non-Europeans wishing to return to the land of their ethnic origin. We consider this as part of a redefinition of our relationship with the South (once known patronisingly as "the Third World"). This relationship would replace aid packages imposed from above (much to the benefit of economic elites) with an exchange of skills, community development and educational projects based on the needs of Southern countries, rather than on abstract measurements of "economic growth". Resettlement does not imply the displacement of ethnic minority populations or a policy of enforced repatriation. It would be an entirely voluntary scheme, whereby members of minority communities would be given the resources to return to their countries of origin and use their skills and breadth of experience to positive ends. This might afford young people, in particular, the opportunity to rediscover their cultural roots, and to play a part in rebuilding societies fractured by political or economic colonialism. Such a programme would promote genuine cultural diversity, as opposed to shallow multi-culturalism. It would also be a stepping-stone towards a more equitable, non-exploitative world order.
     
  • The extension of State subsidies to Muslim schools -- with the same possibilities offered to Hindus, Sikhs, Pagans or any other religious or cultural minority.


Third Way is committed to protecting the cultural identities of the British Isles against exploitative economic globalisation and "politically correct" social engineering. But we see the defence of British cultures as part of a wider struggle against enforced cultural uniformity. As such, we support the campaigns of Native Americans, Australian Aborigines and other indigenous peoples to decide their own future and preserve their lands, lives and human rights. We are in support of liberation struggles such as those of the Timorese, Algerians, South Sudanese, Tibetans and Burma's tribal peoples against the forces of imperialism, military dictatorships tied to foreign interests, centralisation and the global economy.

Increasingly, the peoples of our land are making a connection between the protection of culture, the defence of national sovereignty and the conservation of our environment for future generations. We see elements of this in the revival of interest in ancient folk customs, folk music, arts and crafts, local history and regional identity, the movements for land reform and the spontaneous protests against roads. Third Way welcomes these developments as healthy signs of cultural resistance. We aim to link them in a common programme of decentralisation and human-scale economics. We believe that the destruction of native cultures and ecological despoliation are two sides of the same coin.

TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

CHAPTER  4

NATIONAL IDENTITY AND INDEPENDENCE

The Third Way advocates measures aimed at regaining our national right toself-determination. Politicians at Westminster have systematically bargained away our right to decide our own future. They have locked us into trade treaties and supranational bodies that at best restrict our freedom of action and at worst are hostile to our cultural and economic survival. These include the European Union (EU) -- formerly known as the European Community or Common Market. NATO and GATT also threaten our freedom, bind us to foreign political and economic interests and (in the Case of GATT) tie us to a "global economy" based on the exploitation of workers and the pressured movement of populations to meet arbitrary "market demands".

If we take the EU as an example, we note that it can interfere in the following areas : border controls, citizenship & nationality, consumer protection, defence & security, economic policy, education & training, energy, environmental protection, foreign affairs, industry, public health, and road and rail construction.

The EU erodes our popular sovereignty and devolves power even further upwards from individuals and communities. It is a creation of supra-national capitalism, aimed at arranging national boundaries and political structures to maximise profits rather than to reflect the interests of Europe's peoples and protect Europe's diverse (but inter-related) cultures. Euro-federalism has not created a federation or network of autonomous communities working together, nor has it protected local cultures. Instead, it has created chronic centralisation and remote, oppressive bureaucracy.

The EU costs too much. In 1996, every man, woman and child in Britain made a net contribution of £3.50 a week to the European Union. Third Way believes that as one of the largest net contributors to this political and economic experiment, we should say "enough is enough". The EU practices a reverse version of Robin Hood economics : it robs the poor to pay the rich. It has created a new class of "fat cats" who are not subject to democratic control or even national legislation.

Many well-intentioned people, particularly on the left and in the green movement, have looked to supra-national European structures to protect the environment, workers' rights and regional identities. The EU has at times done more for the peripheral regions of Britain than has Britain's own centralised government, and it is a terrible indictment of our unrepresentative system that so many of our most astute political commentators have been persuaded to look abroad for solutions to our internal problems. Have we now so little confidence in ourselves that we believe we have lost the ability to protect our peoples' rights, defend our cultural identities and create a true economic democracy? Those who see the European "Social Chapter" as a countervailing force against free-market dogma should consider that the convergence criteria for the planned "single currency" have been devised on monetarist (ie. Thatcherite) lines. Already these criteria are, through mass unemployment and chronic job insecurity, cancelling out any benefits that the vaguely worded Social Chapter conferred; and the EU themselves appear to be quietly discarding its more positive provisions. Those who advocate a "Europe of the Regions" within the EU should ask inhabitants of the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia and present-day Nigeria whether artificially imposed federal unions really protect local economies and cultures.

The planned "single-currency" (the Euro) will be a disaster for Europe's peoples because it takes economic power away from national (or regional) governments and places in the hands of unelected bankers and economists who have closer connections with transnational corporations than the needs of ordinary people. If introduced, the Euro will accelerate the crisis of political legitimacy in Europe. It will create riches for some, but impoverishment and misery for many; it will induce unplanned movements of population, and thereby increase hostility between European workers who should be co-operating to combat unemployment, globalisation and the destruction of their respective cultures. If the single currency, or the entire Euro-federalist project, served the interests of the people it would not be supported by the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and the chiefs of almost all large corporations. Nor would it be vigorously opposed by small businesses and those environmentalists who see strong local economies as the best way towards a greener future.

Third Way is emphatically not an "anti-European" movement. On the contrary, we celebrate the European cultural heritage of the peoples of the British Isles. It is the EU, in practice, that is anti-European. It seeks to impose on all of us a cultural, economic and political uniformity, to obliterate distinctions between peoples. A good example of the prevailing bureaucratic mentality is the planning of the Euro-note. In late 1996, designs featuring Shakespeare, Mozart and Leonardo da Vinci (three outstanding figures of European culture) were rejected -- Shakespeare on the grounds of alleged anti-Semitism, Mozart for alleged Masonic connections, Leonardo because of his homosexuality. This is an example of the "politically correct" future we face unless we stand up for ourselves now -- a society where life is at once both bleak and banal.

The Third Way supports :

  • A referendum on our continued membership of the EU.
     
  • Opposition -- whatever the outcome of that referendum -- to the single currency and any further political union or centralisation.


Third Way believes that our country must retain an independent military capacity so that our people can defend themselves against aggressor nations. We are opposed to any foreign military bases on our soil. We deplore the punitive and demoralising cuts in the armed forces under the Tories, and the undermining of the regimental system. We also oppose the export of arms and military equipment to regimes which commit genocide, colonise and enslave other peoples, or systematically violate human rights. Third Way extends its principles of democratic decentralisation to our country's defences, with an expansion of the reserve forces, a shift of emphasis towards civil defence and a move towards a Swiss-style Citizen Army.

In short, Third Way supports a position of political independence and armed neutrality.

Third Way thoroughly endorse the concept of good Nationalism, as expressed so long ago by Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun :

Show me a true patriot, and I will show you a lover not merely of his own country, but of all mankind. Show me a spurious patriot, a bombastic fire-eater, and I will show you a rascal. Show me a man who loves other countries equally with his own and I will show you a man entirely deficient in a sense of proportion. But show me a man who respects the rights of all nations, while ready to defend the rights of his own against them all, and I will show you a man who is both a nationalist and an internationalist.


TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

CHAPTER  5

LAW AND ORDER

Crime cannot be effectively tackled through the processes of Criminal Justice alone. Our policies of encouraging wider property ownership and participation in decision making would change social relations in such a way as to increase communal antipathy to criminal behaviour. There are, however, reforms which need to be made in the Criminal Justice system.

Drug Abuse

Third Way wishes to see the problem of drug abuse and the crime that stems from it tackled sensibly. Current policies are not working. Last year's Home Office survey suggested that about a quarter of young, working-class people in urban areas had used drugs recently, and half had used them at some time.

The use of drugs is not exclusive to the working-class. In a 1993 survey, Drug Usage and Drug Prevention, 28% of the randomly selected people in bands A and B (ie. professional and managerial workers) admitted to having taken unprescribed drugs. Research suggests there are at least 125,000 heroin addicts in the UK, and as many as 250,000 regular amphetamine users. In 1994 there were 42,000 cannabis convictions; that is 20 times the 1967 rate.

There is a growing realisation that attempts to reduce the supply of drugs have failed. Custom and Excise officers only seize an estimated 10% of illegal drugs entering the country. Addicts need to raise huge amounts of money to pay for their habit. A survey of 150 long-term addicts in the (private) Fairways Clinic showed that about 100 had been spending £700 a week on drugs, which equates to £36,400 a year! The survey also showed that each one of these people had previously been imprisoned for an average of four years.... at a cost of £24,000 for each year of imprisonment. Ordinary citizens are paying for the present misguided policy in three ways :

  1. Through taxation, as the burden of dealing with the consequences of criminalisation increase. The increasing cost of policing, trials and imprisonment.
     
  2. By the increasing chance of becoming a victim of a crime carried out to finance drug abuse.
     
  3. Through the general corruption of society which results from giving organised crime the monopoly on such a lucrative trade. The politicians have failed to review their policies in the face of increasing evidence of failure.


The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire has called for decriminalisation of marijuana. Lord Mancroft, a Conservative Peer, echoed the call, and in the Labour Party, Clare Short tentatively suggested that the present law be reviewed, only to be trampled on by the Blairite clique. The Scottish Police Federation's Northern Constabulary section have called for a national debate and review of the present laws. Meanwhile, the 1996 Social Attitudes Survey suggests that a majority of people under thirty regard the present drug laws as archaic and counter-productive -- criminalising individuals rather than addressing the root causes of drug dependency. Across the Atlantic, too, there are signs of change. In November, 1996, substantial majorities in the States of Arizona and California voted to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes -- recognising it as part of the growing culture of alternative medicine, and that it has proved helpful in treating a range of ailments, including multiple sclerosis (MS), epilepsy and AIDS-related illnesses.

Home Secretary Michael Howard, a man not noted for flexibility or tolerance, has consistently opposed calls to decriminalise marijuana and treat drug dependence by means other than the criminal law. He told delegates at the Association of Chief Police Officers' conference in Wakefield :

This government has no intention of legalising any currently banned drug. To do so would be bound to increase the human and social damage, especially that inflicted on the young...


Grasp The Nettle

Such sound-bites, from politicians indifferent to the "human and social damage" wreaked by their own economic policies, are not constructive. Third Way believes that we cannot eliminate hard drugs from our society; all we can do is control the supply of such drugs. We should grasp the nettle; make cannabis openly available to adults, and tax it in the same way as alcohol. Heroin and cocaine should be made available on prescription and for free to anyone who registered and who attended counselling. If doctors are unprepared, for ethical or other reasons, to prescribe these drugs, then special State-run centres should be set up to administer their distribution. This is not an endorsement of drug-culture, it is a realistic attempt at damage limitation and prevention.

Productive Lives

Even if we were unable to reform large numbers of addicts, we could certainly help to stabilise their lives and remove their major cause of confrontation with the criminal justice system. The vast majority would be able to hold down jobs and lead productive lives. For ordinary citizens the benefit would be that they would be shielded from the present negative consequences of others' drug abuse. Drug gangs would have their market taken away from them. As drug-related crime would be virtually eliminated, the amount of Police resources freed would be enormous. The cost of supplying maintenance doses to addicts is minuscule compared to the cost of combating an ever-rising level of drug related crime by orthodox methods. Although many professionals have re-thought their views, our politicians have not yet accepted the arguments of the enlightened. Perhaps they will never be persuaded by argument, but they may eventually be persuaded by economic pressures.

Prison Policy

In general only criminals who have, or can be shown to have, damaged others (psychologically or physically) should be locked up; fines, curfews and organised community work should be used to punish and rehabilitate the others. We are not, however, convinced that the "humiliation" approach espoused by some commentators is a good thing with regard to its effect upon either the offender or, in the longer term, society as a whole.

Third Way rejects the view, popularised by Home Secretary Michael Howard and the tabloid press, that "prison works". While it removes from circulation certain categories of violent offender, and addresses justified popular demands for the punishment of heinous crimes, in most cases it provides a publicly funded higher education in offending. The experience of the last five years -- prisons crowded to bursting point, alongside a rise in violence and social dislocation -- offer evidence that radical alternatives to prison are urgently needed. We are alarmed in particular by the high proportion imprisoned for non-violent and often trivial offences, such as non-payment of fines, and we reject unequivocally the return of prison-ships and the shackling of women prisoners giving birth -- an act of cruelty for which we hold the current Home Office regime responsible.

A New Prisons Act

Third Way believes there should be a new Prisons Act. Included within this Act would be :

  • The lifting of Crown Immunity from prisons as an incentive towards their improving standards of health, hygiene and safety.
     
  • An enhancement of the role of prison officers, and improved prison officer training.
     
  • The abolition of the Prison Medical Service and its replacement by the NHS.
     
  • The allowing of private family visits.
     


Privatisation

In the 1991 Criminal Justice Act the Government allowed the contracting-out of the running of prisons to the private sector. Third Way believes that this is very wrong in principle, and favours the reversal of this policy of prison privatisation.

Mental Health and Prisons

The Third Way is concerned at the number of people in prison who appear to be better suited to secure hospital treatment. We advocate the establishment of specialist bail-hostels for sex, drug and alcohol abusers and those in need of psychiatric care. The working of the 1983 mental Health Act should be re-examined with a view to widening the scope for diversion from custody. A duty psychiatrist scheme should be extended to all major magistrates courts. Custodial remands for medical reports should be avoided wherever possible.

Third Way opposes the trend towards authoritarianism in penal and social policy. The Tories and "New Labour" are indulging in a squalid competition to see which can impose the most punitive solutions to problems caused largely by the neglect of urban areas, overcrowding, unemployment, low-pay, and the atmosphere of demoralisation, insecurity, stress and rootless largely created by their free-market ideology.

We are opposed to the 1994 Criminal Justice Act which criminalises non-violent forms of protest (for example land occupations) which were previously treated as civil offences.... this being an insidious erosion of our traditional liberties. We are also wary of the use of the law to criminalise minority lifestyles (for example "new age" travellers) and impose a narrow social conformity. We favour a legal system that within reason protects cultural diversity, freedom of expression and the sovereignty of the individual. Third Way is in principle strongly opposed to censorship of literature, the arts and the Internet.

TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

CHAPTER  6

GREEN REALISM

The Third Way is a "green" movement. We believe that if the effort is seriously made a balance can be achieved between a good economic standard of life and an ecologically sound environment which provides much of the quality of that life. At the heart of our thinking is the consciousness that we hold this land in trust for future generations. We are determined that our legacy to them will not be a poisoned, withered country. Properly channeled, new technologies can provide us the opportunity and means to again live more in harmony with nature, and not in such conflict as is presently the case.

The Means to Several Ends

Almost everyone seems to agree that a reduction in the volume of internalcombustion engined traffic is desirable -- but is it practical? Recentsurveys suggest that teleworking -- working from home or localcentres and linked to others by telephone and modem -- could greatly reduce theUK's total commuter mileage. According to an analysis of NationalTransport Survey data, if just the top 15% of car commuters (in terms ofmileage) switched to teleworking, they would thereby halve the UK's commuterpetrol usage and traffic congestion.

A major obstacle to this ideal of a devolved workplace is the negative attitudeentrenched at executive level, and dating from our previous economic eraof heavy industrialisation. There is a psychological barrier, a fear ofsomehow losing power and control over the workforce, despite seniorexecutives themselves already enjoying many of the freedoms they woulddeny to those below them. Third Way would revise fiscalmeasures with the objective making teleworking a more attractiveproposition for employer and employee alike. Research suggests that suchde-centralisation of work may also alleviate a part of the stress whichnow afflicts so many workers. Government departments should lead byexample with, where appropriate, the widespread implementation ofteleworking.

The long-term ideal would be for a large percentage of the population who liveoutwith the cities yet daily commute to work in them, to be able to work fromwithin their home areas for much of the time. The local regions would develop acore of facilities, an infrastructure to support and facilitate this. As well aseasing the strain on facilities within the city, such a rearrangement of workinglocations would greatly reduce commuter traffic, whether by car or publictransport. One beneficial effect of such a change in the pattern of daily travel is that it would finally resolve a serious conflict of interests -- the road expansion schemes which have provoked such passions in many localities would no longer be necessary from anyone's point of view.

Whilst recognising the benefits of teleworking, we are well aware that thechange in the structure of work is a gradual process, and that millions of peoplein Britain still lack access to the latest liberating technologies, or are in jobswhich cannot be thus dispersed. With this in mind, we would encourage andsubsidise public transport, especially rail and tram networks. We favour the return of the rail network to popular control -- not through crudere-nationalisation, but through the management of rail networks by regionally-based co-operatives.

Energy Efficiency

Third Way believes that energy efficiency should be a central principle in thedesign of buildings. We would introduce rolling environmental audits ofall public buildings to improve (amongst other things) their energy efficiency.We favour a government subsidised programme of renovating old buildings so thatthey are more energy efficient. Many of those unemployed at present could servethe community by taking part in this work, though not as cheap labour.

Pollution Control

Third Way would legislate to encourage corporate interest in the saferecycling of corporate products, and companies not meeting strictenvironmental standards should pay realistic damages. The introduction of"social audits" in company law (as detailed elsewhere) would help toimprove environmental standards. Companies causing serious, non-accidental, environmental damage would along with their executives and management be treated with the utmost severity, as theirs would constitute a crime against the nation.

  • We favour the phasing-out of nuclear power, and a strategy of developing energy supplies from renewable sources.
     
  • We would assist and encourage more research and development of low-emission, lean-burn vehicle engines.
     
  • We are generally in favour of well-planned cycle routes, sensible traffic-calming measures in residential areas and greater pedestrianisation in urban areas.
Usage of the Countryside

Factory farming is not only creating conditions that the ecologist and farmer JohnSeymour calls "animal Belsens". It is poisoning the public slowly but surely withharmful chemicals, in the same way as pesticides are eroding our soil. The BSEcrisis is only the tip of the iceberg. At the same time, ramblers, hill-walkers and climbers are facing attempts to restrict their access to the wilds....

Third Way advocates :

  • The phasing out of intensive factory-farming, and a tightening of environmental regulations concerning fish-farms.
     
  • The promotion and encouragement of organic farming through generous subsidy.
     
  • Land reforms to end the present concentration of our countryside in a few hands; the encouragement of smaller-scale, sustainable agriculture; and the promotion of "cottage industries" outside the urban areas.
     


We regard responsible access to the countryside and the hills as part of our people's birthright, and would ensure that our citizens are not deprived of these natural rights of access.

The present, mounting ecological crisis underpins Third Way's arguments for radical changes in the way we organise our society -- a shift towards human-scale economics, decentralisation of power and respect for non-human life. We believe that there are no real divisions between ecological responsibility, decentralisation and the protection of our national identity. They all part of the same programme of sustainability; interrelated aspects of the one total environment.


TOP
 [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6] 
TOP

COPYRIGHT © THIRD WAY 1997


Third Way
PO Box 1243
London  SW7 3PB
telephone :
fax :
e-mail :
0171 373 3432
0171 631 1191
thirdway@dircon.co.uk