The Open Manifesto: Four Principles for government
- make things better for everyone;
- honour humanity and human rights;
- keep no secrets from those we represent;
- base our policies on open, impartial evidence.
Make things better for everyone
Very simply, our goal in government is to make things better for everyone, now and into the future. This includes making things better for our children and grandchildren – and their children and grandchildren – by preserving and improving long-term infrastructure and the natural environment; and making things better for people (including their heirs) living in other countries, since we are all citizens of the same planet. But, particularly, we should concentrate on making things better for those who are worse off now – reducing income inequality,
Honour humanity and human rights
Britain is legally-bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, which it signed in 1951 having helped to draft it as part of the post-war settlement for Europe. The Convention has nothing to do with the European Union, which it predates by several years. More important, however, than the legalistic European Convention is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, produced by the United Nations in 1948. This is not a legally-binding document but presents human rights in a clear and unambiguous framework which we whole-heartedly endorse and against which we will publicly test every executive decision and every piece of legislation we introduce.
Keep no secrets from those we represent
Individuals have a right to a private life; the same is not true of corporations or public offices. Directors, employees and shareholders of corporations have a right to a private life, but nothing that a corporation does, or that any of these individuals does on behalf of a corporation, can be afforded any right of privacy. Similarly, the holders of public office have a right to a private life, but everything that they do in the course of their duties as the holder of a public office is excluded from their right to privacy. We will legislate to clarify that every corporation and every public office has an obligation to openness, and that rights to privacy apply only to individuals.
Evidence-based Policy Making
We will legislate to make evidence the primary grounds for all policy, so that legislation that is not drawn up in the light of open, peer-reviewed evidence can be challenged through the courts. Gathering and analysing evidence will replace “consultation” in the legislative process. Consultation provides too great an opportunity for lobby groups to influence legislation, and thereby gives undue influence to well-funded vested interests who can afford the costs of lobbying. This leads to unsatisfactory legislation, enacted as a compromise designed to appease the largest and most vocal lobby groups.
Evidence, for these purposes, means evidence gathered using impartial surveys and other methods carefully designed to eliminate bias; it does not mean the recitation to a Select Committee of the opinions of so-called “experts” hired to protect vested interests.
Under our proposals, Green Papers, instead of soliciting consultation, will identify questions and uncertainties relating to the policy area concerned and will constitute a call for research proposals. Studies will be commissioned and funded, through an open bidding and evaluation process, to gather evidence to answer the questions and uncertainties raised in the Green Paper.
White Papers will constitute a review of available evidence, the policy conclusions that can be drawn from it, and concrete proposals for legislation if the evidence justifies it.
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