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The people’s manifesto

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Over the last two days, we’ve explored the results of a fascinating online project conducted during the 2010 general election that let people vote for policies rather than parties (part 1 and part 2). The massive success of the Greens on issues from crime to education surprised us all.

So here it is: the people’s manifesto, as decided by a first past the post Vote for Policies open primary. The sample may not be scientifically representative, but it has to be the biggest exercise in a publicly-generated manifesto.

We have listed the policy results first by overall votes cast as voters selected four or more areas that mattered to the most. The top four were health/NHS, the economy, education and crime. Of all the policies, education got the most thumping endorsement.

This is the list, ordered by overall votes cast:

And here’s the detail of the policy sets (ordered alphabetically):

Crime: Green party – 29.59% of the 221,500 votes

Look to establish restorative justice as a key feature of the UK criminal justice system. The primary aim will be to restore and, if necessary, improve the position of the victim and the community; the offender will be required to make amends.

Improve the design of our cities to provide safer streets and public spaces.

Ensure universal access to high quality youth centres to provide an outlet for young people outside of school hours.

Bring in a Civil Law Injunction Programme (CLIP) to more effectively deal with anti-social behaviour.

Oppose any further privatisation of the prison system, as it is vital that where custody is used it is effective in preventing offenders from re-offending.

Democracy: Lib Dems – 31.83% of the 180,200 votes

Change politics and abolish safe seats by introducing a fair, more proportional voting system for MPs. Our preferred single transferable vote system gives people the choice between candidates as well as parties. Under the new system, we will be able to reduce the number of MPs by 150.

Give the right to vote from age 16.

Introduce fixed-term parliaments to ensure that the prime minister of the day cannot change the date of an election to suit themselves.

Give you the right to sack MPs who have broken the rules. We would introduce a recall system so that constituents could force a by-election for any MP found responsible for serious wrongdoing. We are campaigning for this right of recall to be introduced to the European Parliament too.

Get big money out of politics by capping donations at £10,000 and limiting spending throughout the electoral cycle.

Require all MPs, Lords and parliamentary candidates to be resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in Britain for tax.

Make local government more accountable and responsive to local people by introducing fair votes for local elections in England.

We believe that the council tax should be scrapped and replaced with a fair local tax, based on people’s ability to pay. It is necessary to pilot local income tax to resolve any practical issues of implementation before it can be rolled out nationally, so we would invite councils to put themselves forward to be involved in the piloting phase in the second year of a parliament.

Economy: Lib Dems – 27.07% of the 259,700 votes

Increasing the income tax threshold to £10,000.

We will identify lower priority spending that we believe can be cut so that we can protect vital front line public services.

We will also rebalance the tax system cutting taxes for people on low and middle incomes which we will pay for by cutting reliefs and closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest.

This party will restore the link between annual increases in the state pension and earnings that will mean pensioners share in the proceeds of growth in our economy.

Keep young people within reach of the job market and we will do this by paying any young person completing an internship or work experience £55 a week for three months.

We will increase the number of apprenticeships, and places on university and vocational higher education courses so young people can improve their skills and get qualifications that will help them capitalise when the job market recovers.

No young person will spend more than three months unemployed without getting financial support to access training, education, work experience or specialist professional help.

Cut business rates for smaller businesses and base rates on site values, rather than total rental value, which penalises businesses that invest in improving their premises.

Education: Green party – 35.55% of the 259,600 votes

We believe much smaller class sizes are the key to behaviour and learning. We want a state funded education system which; provides essential numeracy and literacy skills; promotes a sense of responsibility, confidence and respect in all young people; caters for all specialisms and needs; promotes a sense of community; and promotes a healthy lifestyle through good diet and exercise.

To measure school performance we support the abolition of the system of SATs and league tables. We would like to see a system of self-evaluation for schools, that is monitored by the local education authority.

This party’s position on grammar and public schools means that we would remove the charitable status of all such schools and offer state funding to them so they will be accessible to all children in the local area.

All children, even those with disabilities and special educational needs, will be given the opportunity to attend their local school, which will provide diverse support for people with special needs. In special cases and in accordance with the child’s wishes, there may be a need for segregation, which will be provided as a unit within the school.

All schools, both state controlled and privately run will be required to embrace a multi-faith perspective throughout the delivery of the curriculum.

This party opposes city academies and trust schools as we believe that schools should be governed in the interests of children and their parents, not through private individuals or businesses.

Recruit and retain more teachers by allowing them greater freedom and, to remove one of the main reasons teachers leave teaching, ensure their paperwork is greatly reduced.

Students will not have to pay tuition fees – we support grants not loans, providing a basic income sufficient for needs while in full time education.

Environment: Green party – 29.01% of the 206,200 votes

Use the £45 billion investment plan to kick-start a green industrial revolution so that low and zero-carbon sectors of the economy are the new platform for prosperity.

Transform the energy production landscape by supporting renewable sources, including wind and micro-solar generation.

Reduce emissions from aviation by ending the £10 billion subsidy of the aviation industry.

Reduce waste by making waste reduction, re-use and recycling easier.

Improve public transport and rail to cut emissions from vehicles.

Retrofit homes, schools and hospitals with energy efficiency measures.

A massive investment in renewable sources to support development of both large-scale wind and tidal generation and domestic micro-generation – together these measures would create 80,000 jobs in the first year.

Europe: Conservatives – 21.84% of the 167,200 votes

We will be positive members of the European Union but we are clear that there should be no further extension of the EU’s power over the UK without the British people’s consent.

We will ensure that by law no future government can hand over areas of power to the EU or join the euro without a referendum of the British people.

We will work to bring back key powers over legal rights, criminal justice and social and employment legislation to the UK.

Press to keep the EU’s doors open to those countries, including Turkey, that wish to join, conditional on the rigorous application of the accession criteria.

Stand up for a strong transatlantic relationship and an EU that builds strong relations with rising powers like China and India.

Health / NHS: Green party – 23.64% of the 265,000 votes

This party’s approach involves increasing the level of awareness of when to seek health care and when to allow things to get better naturally. It is also important to protect those suffering mental health problems from discrimination wherever it may occur.

A key policy is to reverse the sale of NHS services and hospitals to private companies, for example we are going to bring cleaners back into the NHS team.

We will start by promoting cycling and walking to school, which will reduce pollution and help to combat childhood asthma.

Ensuring schools provide healthy meals will reduce the levels of obesity in children.

We will introduce a NHS tax to make the level of funding for the NHS transparent for all. There will be the ability to increase taxation locally, if people decide, so that local NHS services can benefit directly, just as the police and schools can at present.

We will reduce the level of spending on defence to provide further funds for health care. These changes in funding will allow us to abolish prescription charges.

Our focus on increasing community based services and community health centres will keep care as local as possible.

Immigration: Labour – 25.25% of the 217,100 votes

Genuine refugees will continue to receive protection.

We will gradually tighten the criteria in line with the needs of the British economy and the values of British citizenship, and step up our action against illegal immigration.

There will be no unskilled migration from outside the EU.

Our Australian-style points-based system will be used to control migration with limits for high-skilled workers and university students. As growth returns we want to see rising levels of employment and wages, not rising immigration.

We will expand the Migration Impact Fund, paid for by contributions from migrants, to help local areas.

We know that migrants who are fluent in English are more likely to work and find it easier to integrate. So as well as making our English test harder, we will ensure it is taken by all applicants before they arrive.

In future, staying will be dependent on the points-based system, and access to benefits and social housing will increasingly be reserved for British citizens and permanent residents – saving the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

Welfare: Labour – 28.02% of the 207,700 votes

A national minimum wage rising at least in line with average earnings, and a new £40-a-week ‘better off in work’ guarantee; and a more advanced apprenticeships and skills accounts for workers to upgrade their skills.

More help for parents to balance work and family life, with a ‘Father’s Month’ of flexible paid leave; and a new toddler tax credit of £4 a week from 2012 to give more support to all parents of young children, whether they want to stay at home or work.

The right to request flexible working for older workers, with an end to default retirement at 65, enabling more people to decide for themselves how long they choose to keep working.

A new National Care Service to ensure free care in the home for those with the greatest care needs and a cap on the costs of residential care so that everyone’s homes and savings are protected from care charges after two years in a care home.

A re-established link between the basic state pension and earnings from 2012; and help for ten million people to build up savings through new Personal Pension Accounts.

Two hundred thousand jobs through the Future Jobs Fund, with a job or training place for young people who are out of work for six months, but benefits cut at ten months if they refuse to take part; and anyone unemployed for more than two years guaranteed work, but no option of life on benefits.

Further reading:

Green policies beat brown’s (reds, blues and yellows)

If we voted for policies at elections, and not parties, the results might surprise us all

We need Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and nationalist parties that get sustainability

Vote Green (where they can win) if you care about the future

UKIP’s success in the local election is a rallying cry for smaller parties

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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