If I were Prime Minister: I'd restore the dignity of disabled people and give every nurse a pay rise

Our series in the run-up to the General Election – 100 days, 100 contributors, but no politicians – continues with the journalist and campaigner

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The Independent Online

If I were Prime Minister I would restore the dignity of disabled people, who are currently paying the price of austerity in blood. The books are currently being balanced – or frankly, not balanced – on their backs, and on the backs of the unemployed and working poor. In other words, the people who did the least to cause the banking crisis, and who are least able to withstand austerity.

So I would invert the austerity pyramid. From now on every single piece of legislation passed by my government would have to have a test – does it reduce child poverty? There is absolutely no excuse for children to go hungry in the seventh richest country in the world.

I would implement a living wage lifting people out of benefits. I would outlaw zero hours contracts unless an employer could satisfy a committee they were absolutely essential to their individual business and then monitor them. I’d embark on a social and affordable housing building revolution not seen since the postwar period.

I'd end the Bedroom Tax, and save the axed Independent Living Fund (for Britain’s most profoundly disabled people) for current users, while a new model is designed for the future. And my government would ban private companies profiting from huge government contracts, passing them back into the hands of the state or social enterprise.

I’d explain to the country that the cost of benefit fraud is £1.1bn and the amount underpaid to claimants due to error is £1.6bn. And that the "tax gap" caused by avoidance and evasion is £34bn by conservative estimate and could be as much as £119bn. Every penny from closing that gap would go to lifting families out of poverty.

I would stop the voracious privatisation of the NHS and give every nurse a pay rise. I would give the country a new bank holiday – Nye Bevan Day. (If the name doesn't ring a bell, Bevan spearheaded the establishment of the NHS in the 1950s.)

I would also make all companies publish their inequality gap – between the highest and lowest paid. I’d end the gagging law and free charities to be the check and balance society needs. I’d bring back legal aid because without it there is no possibility of social equality.

I would want to reform the House of Lords and the Royal Family and change the national anthem to something by The Clash, but I would be worried it would take up too much parliamentary time. There’s so much to do.

No more PMQs, I’d have to answer to a weekly people’s panel – a jury chosen at random to account for all the things I’d done. I would make every act of lobbying visible. Schools would have to teach every child politics and register every leaver to vote.


I would end the social and cultural apartheid of free schools. I'd twin every UK school and university with one in a developing country. Tuition fees would be replaced by a gentle graduate tax with incentives for the poorest students.

I would reorganise our broken food system, challenging the vast waste of edible food and the scandal of food poverty. I’d renationalise the railways and embark upon a huge renewable energy programme and tell the frackers to frack off.

I’d restore a period of peaceful engagement abroad, and at home dedicate resources to bringing communities back together. I would consider an amnesty for undocumented people and a fresh start on immigration. I would hold an inquiry into why so many young black boys are still dying on the street.

I would appoint a team of Child Abuse Czars who would poke into every dark corner of the establishment. And I’d hold a root and branch review on drugs policy looking at all the options – including legalisation – because so many lives are being lost and destroyed and the current system has utterly failed.

I would fill Chequers with homeless families who would be allowed to live there until homelessness was solved. The huge garden at 10 Downing Street would become an allotment serving the Westminster Foodbank.

I would never tell a lie.

I would answer the front door at No 10 myself and welcome campaigners in. If you’ve collected 100,000 signatures the PM should make you a cup of tea and see what the problem is.

That would just be day one.