In the run up to the general election we want to hear from people about what they would like to see changed. As political parties polish their election manifestos and get ready to bombard us with inducements to vote for their representatives, we think it’s an opportune time to think about what we would change if we were in charge. As part of the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics, we would like to kick off a conversation on what would be included in such an Alternative Manifesto.
So said Peter O’Neill, organiser of The Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics (previewed a few weeks ago) which runs from 9-15 March. Along side their physical programme, they’ve launched an appeal for contributions to their Alternative Manifesto.
Submit up to five manifesto proposals on the festival website before 12 March and take part in the ensuing debate and discussion. You can read policy ideas that have already been suggested by some academics, comedians and politicians.
- Anybody who dumps waste or drops litter to be made to lick the roads clean with their tongues. (Tim McGarry)
- The media will not refer to women decision makers’ dress, family or lifestyle. Instead media will focus on what women have to say. And will have a woman interviewed and on panels for each man interviewed. (Yvonne Galligan)
- A day of atonement/sorry day to honour victims in Troubles. (Prof John D Brewer)
- Replacement of Northern Ireland Railways … with dedicated bus routes and stations, allowing those outside Belfast to get to Belfast safely and seated every morning. (Colin Agnew)
- Unification of Queen’s University and University of Ulster. (Prof John D Brewer)
- An education levy on Corporation Tax: Primary School classes will have a maximum of 20 pupils in. This will be paid for by a 1% rise on Corporation Tax. We will develop the best education in Europe. (Domic Bryan)
- Custodial sentencing for tax evaders: Taxes are simply what we’ve all agreed to collectively contribute, based on our means, towards the costs of running the country. If you purposefully go out of your way to avoid paying your fair share of tax, you’re effectively stealing from everyone else and should be penalised accordingly. (Anonymous)
- The 1996 Northern Ireland Forum Elections needed to include as many parties as possible to get buy-in from the talks [and] additional ‘top-up’ seats were given to smaller parties who had enough votes across Northern Ireland, but not enough votes in one place to get a seat. This was abolished for the first Assembly elections in 1998, but it’s a sound idea that’s sorely needed – with 105 out of 108 MLAs part of the government, we can’t have a healthy democracy until we have more alternative voices – this proposal would bring those alternatives – feminists, radicals, alternative voices – to the Assembly. (Adam McGibbon)
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.