Inventors find regularly that their idea is not unique, it had been triggered in more than one head. So is the case with political theories. I wrote something on a New Party and posted it, and then discovered we may have one in a couple of years time in Northern Ireland. The nucleus of the party, the Northern Ireland Branch of the Conservative party, is already in being, and now that they have David Trimble in the Lords, they have a name to conjure with.
I first became aware of this new venture, when the local Bangor office of the Conservative party sent us a questionnaire asking a series of questions which were basically standard, but unfortunately, taking into account Northern Ireland politics, the answers were totally to be predicted if one knew the political leanings of the individual answering them, as there are basically only two effective alternatives. If they are to gain credence, their approach will have to be much more sophisticated. A broad based inquiry is fair enough for market research, but politics is a different animal and should be treated in more detail in more areas.
In my piece on the New Party I was careful to stress that the party should grow from within the community, and not be foisted on it. The party should appear more interested in the community than in politics per se, and definitely be more locally based than has been the case recently. The new party should create its own popularity through its own good works and popular policies.
The new party must take each item of the political fabric as applied to the infrastructure and the population generally, talk intelligently to the electorate and not at it, and what they say should not be typical political rhetoric. The years of the Blair campaign have sharpened the minds of the populace to the point where they can see psychobabble at 50 paces. When examining the fabric they must decide to state openly, whether what they find is excellent, acceptable, or unacceptable. From this menu they could then postulate a programme of proposed change, accompanied by the reasons and paths by which these changes may be brought about. Too long we have bumbled along, grumbling and disapproving, while being totally frustrated because of our impotence in the face of incompetence and change for change’s sake
The choices would obviously be determined by priority taking into account costs, an assessment of the possibility of success, and urgency. A sample of the sort of problems I have in mind are the problems facing policing, youthful delinquency, the stabilisation of the educational system across the board, town planning, top heavy central government staffing, housing, the plight of single-parent families, infection in hospitals, and an improvement in all levels of the infrastructure, particularly roads, sewerage and water.
I give here two rough examples – (A) The chronic lack of housing. There must be statistical analysis within the curricula of the Grammar schools. If the new party decides to examine the housing situation throughout the North of Ireland, it would seem possible that the sixth forms of various schools throughout the province could be marshalled to supply the statistics in various categories, and also ideas of how housing could be provided and where, reconditioning included, thus enabling the less advantaged to get on the ladder at an affordable cost. This proposal would then be widened to include the drainage problem, the various methods of paying for housing by the individual. The knock-on effect of this would be that in many cases the parents of these children would be interested too and so the theme of the Conservative party, or any other party, would not only be brought to the attention of the populace, it would generate goodwill – such as ‘at last someone is listening!’
(B) The burgeoning central civil service. Possibly in this case it will be university students who would be given the task of going through history to discover the good and bad points of local government, devolved and central government, and to come up with a workable plan of how a government can be localised to the best advantage for all, while still leaving the overall guidance in the hands of central government.
It is not going to be quick or easy, and it can’t all be done by amateurs, but the status quo is with us for some time to come and that will give the Conservative party a few years in which to consolidate and grow. You never know, out of it may come a blueprint for the whole of Britain.