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Campaign Ideas


 

Let's Fix Britain is not just a talking shop or a think tank. It's a doing shop. Our motto might be:

Don't (just) Get Mad
- Get Even Too!

- by which I mean that we should not just lament the ways things are, but we should also do things in the world which will make a positive difference to our society. Maybe a small difference, maybe an indirect difference. But with enough of us, momentum will build and we will start to move the mountain.

It's over when you've fixed it - not when you've vented your spleen.

This stuff ain't easy, and needless to say, to get things done, we need volunteers. In some cases, extra-ordinarily gifted, tenacious, dedicated, heroic volunteers.

Here are some campaigns I would like to see us working on. If you would like to work on any of them, or you have information to add or comments to make - or you'd like to propose other campaigns, then please contact us.

Encourage the use new technology to make open government a reality

Goal: Through the use of the internet and digital TV technology, make the vast majority of what goes on in British parliament, available for direct viewing by the British public.

Rationale: Transparency is an important part of our democracy. It supports scrutiny, which is one of LFB's strategic elements. You can read about why here. This campaign has implications for very many aspects of wheat we want to accomplish.

Situation: "Parliament TV" already exists. You can receive it through Digital FreeView and via cable. It is run by the BBC. It shows a small selection of what happens in parliament. It says it is limited by the technology - cameras installed in parliament, and available website resources. However, I don't think this is true. Parliament TV is reluctant to provide archives of any - let alone all of the programming it has, even though the cost would be minimal. They site cost as a reason, but this is ridiculous. My limited exploration of this issue with them suggests that they are complacent , under-responsive, dismissive and reluctant to be open about their activities. I waited five weeks for one response from them. My requests for an explanation of this were first ignored, then dismissed with a terse "I have nothing to add".

Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit Ltd (PARBUL) is a public limited company set up to organise parliamentary coverage. You can read more about PARBUL here.

Objectives:
1. Review the information available on both organisations to understand the current situation and the plan, including written strategy documents, staff resourcing and budgets.

2. Tap into their accountability mechanisms, so you can understand their activities on a regular (monthly?) basis.

3. Act to move their goals closer to the goal of this campaign.

Re-evaluate What it is we Teach Our Children in Schools

Goal: Re-design the modern school syllabus to deliver citizens who are happier and more productive of a healthy society.

Rationale: Society is the people within it. People are our biggest problem and our only asset. Investing in people to make them productive of a healthy, efficient society should be the primary goal of our educational system. Education accounts for a huge chunk of the local tax budget, and education is seen as centrally important in improving almost all aspects of our society. Education is the biggest "bang for the buck" we have available.

Situation: Currently, we teach subjects at school which are not vocational and which do not develop useful life skills. Conversely, we do not teach subjects which might lead to happier, more productive, socially-healthy people.

In addition, too many schools and colleges are refuges for dysfunctional or incompetent teachers who not only fail to correct, but actively damage their charges through their example and their actions. Complacent incompetence is common and often institutionalised.

Objectives:
1. Develop a new national curriculum addressing these issues.

2. Engage in debate with education professionals to refine it.

3. Promote this new curriculum through various channels.

Now here is a much larger list of ideas which are far less well-developed.

1. FIXING PUBLIC SERVICE

Pick any public service which you feel is running poorly or is costing too much. Examples include poor street cleaning, poor refuse collection, resolution of noisy neighbour problems, and other need to use the police, trading standards, public health people, idiotic settings on traffic lights, stinking tap water, pointless one-way systems, silly speed limits, poor public amenities like libraries or swimming pools, disgusting public loos, etc.

In good faith, and politely - try to use that service and document your efforts by keeping all correspondence, recording calls, etc. If you have cause for complaint, make your complaint. Again - document everything. Escalate as appropriate until you reach some kind of a conclusion (even if it's that you should give up). Then write an article describing your experience. Inform the people you're complaiing about that your article is now online and invite them to comment. Include their comments in the article.

Why bother? Well, it's pressure. It will raise the profile of the poor public consumer. It will cause ripples at each level you complained to. You will have gained valuable experience in complaining, and will have passed that on to your readers. You will have stepped outside your "stay low & don't rock the boat" comfort zone and have encouraged others to do the same. You will have provided content for ouor website which will inform and entertain, and which will be another hook for search engines to find us.

2. FIXING THE WATCHDOGS

Do everything above, and when you get to the top or you're out of ideas, take the issue to the watchdog organisation, and do it all again. I'm doing this with OFFCOM about advertising, and with POSTWATCH about the Royal Mail. I've done it with several trading standards offices.

3. FIXING THE PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES

Where appropriate, take issues you're not getting fixed to your elected public representative. See how well they work for you, and again - document it here. If they are an MP, then consider completing an MP Conduct report, here.

4. FIXING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE

Ask your local council for a copy of their annual report. Read it. I guarantee it will raise more questions that it answers. Find some questions which seem important to you and try to resolve them with your council. See how open and accountable they are, and try to get to the bottom of your issue. Document your progress, your conclusions, lessons learned, hints & tips for others doing similar work. Give the council the right of reply.

5. BECOMING A PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVE

One of the most powerful and positive ways LFB can Fix Britainis by becoming active in the running of Britain. So set about joining your local school's board of governors, or becoming a local councillor, or an MP, a magistrate, a member of the local police authority, a charity workers, and so on. Document your efforts. If you succeed - tell us why you did it, what it's like, what's in it for you, what you've been able to accomplish, and why others should follow your example.

6. FIXING CONSUMER RIGHTS

Take any negative incident from your personal experience as a consumer of goods or services from another company - or take one from your friend. Pursue it to the end, and document your experiences here. You can see an example here.

7. FIXING A LONG-STANDING WRONG

Find an example where the national status quo is wrong, and set about using the mechanisms of our society to put it right. Examples might be getting smoking banned in public places, changing the way advertising is allowed to mis-represent products and propogate lies, getting all government meetings televised & made available on the web.

8. FIXING CHARITIES

Charities get tax breaks, and many are funded in part from government funds. In my opinion, some deliver poor value for money, and are complacent and hostile to enquiries about their effectiveness. Pick a charity, and try to acquire a full understanding of what they do and what they cost. Document your findings.

9. FIXING SPAMMERS

Take any item of SPAM from your IN box - preferably one from a UK SPAMmer. Work to expose them and remove them from operation.
Any spammer has to provide you with a way to give them money.
Use it to contact them. You can see an example of this here.

10. FIXING THE WORKPLACE

Find a sitaution at work which you feel is wrong. Set about righting it. Perhaps there are favourites and the meritocracy isn't working well. Perhaps you have a bullying boss, or one who hides his incompetence and takes credit for your work. Perhaps your company does illegal things or has a contemptuous attitude to it's customers, or supports sharp practice. Perhaps they are covering up nasty secrets. Set about rigihting the wrong and document it here is fully as you safely can. You must be responsible for acting legally and ensuring that you don't destroy your job, career, or reputation.

12. FIXING PUBLIC LOOPHOLES

If you suspect that someone is shafting society, then try to get it fixed. First use the existing societal machinery, then, if that doesn't work, escalate and complain and consider alternatives. Examples might be someone you know on benefit fraud, someone who carries crutches but clearly doesn't need them, people evading tax, etc.

13. FIXING THE E.U.

A tad ambitious?? I'm endlessly worried about almost everything I hear about the EU, what it costs us, what they're planning to do, how their financialy accounts have been repeatedly rejected by the auditors, how their internal auditor was removed for trying to do her job too well, how every commissioner was forced to resign in disgrace then was re-appointed. Us your MEP to dig for clear answers. Document your findings here.

14. FIXING GOVERNMENT

There are a number of things we could do to improve the way government works. Two examples:

a/ It is common practice for one friendly MPs to ask a question of another which is not really a question, but is just a device to allow the responding MP to talk up some accomplishment. For example "Would the honourable member not agree with me, that we are a lovely party, and should be re-elected at the earliest convenience?".

b/ It is also common for MPs to avoid answering questions from hostile MPs (or simply those whose question it is not convenient to answer). Why don't we upgrade the rules to disallow this too, and have the Speaker of the house require that a question be answered substantively?

I would love to see what happens if you try to propose this to our illustrious and hallowed government.

15. FIX A PATICULAR COMPANY

One heroic individual got so utterly fed upwith the dreadful service which NTL dished up daily, that he formed a website called NTHELLWORLD.COM. On it, he wrote about all things NTL, and through this website NTL customersd were able to interact, share useful information about contacts, current lies being trotted out, and what to say to get things done. It was so successful that NTL bought the company". The owner was employed by them and the website no longer exists in its old form.

LFB could host any number of sub-sites, each one devoted to monitoring a specific organisation along the lines of NTHELLWORLD. Companies like the utilities spring to mind, but we could also have sub-sites for specific public bodies. (There's a website called "ombudsmanwatch.org", for example, set up to collect and disseminate the news about the poor job which local government ombudsmen are doing up and down the country. If you want to be a sub-site manager, just let us know.

16. FIXING DISHONEST PRODUCT PACKAGING

Why is it that ... the pictures on boxed ready meals never tell the truth? Well, Mr Cynical here, has three answers:

(1) These pictures lie because the manufacturers want to sell more meals by presenting their products not just in their best light - but in their better than best light. In other words, they're happy to misrepresent the truth to dupe you into a sale.

(2) What they do is to manipulate the products artificially to make them look more apealing; clycerine can be used to make stuff shiny; washing up liquid can be used to make beers foam; food can actually be painted to improve its appearance. And so on.

(3) These pictures are allowed to lie because the law is an irrelevance - it either doesn't make this kind of lying illegal - or else it does, but no-one gives enough of a stuff to make the law stick.

Why not start a campaign to make this problem go away?

Conclusion

There is more to fix in Britain than we can shale a stick at. But there are a lot of us. Rome wasn't built in a day, but little-by-little - we can make a difference. Join us in the fight!

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