Purpose of the United Kingdom

Proposer
frabcus
State

Rejected

Vote Score

1

Age

2298 days


@frabcus edited manifesto/index.md - over 6 years ago

The OpenPolitics Manifesto

Purpose

Without a purpose, a country will ebb and flow on the selfish whimsy of its people.

The purpose of the United Kingdom is:

1) For everyone in the world to fully receive all the rights universally declared [^1]

2) For that situation to be indefinitely achieved

3) To then spend our time fully understanding ourselves, the earth and the universe through the arts, science and exploration.

Principles

We believe that government should serve the people, and that 'the state', so often derided, is simply the way that citizens work together to enhance the public good. {% endif %} {% endfor %}

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

I think the main problem with the UK right now is that nobody knows what it is for.

Back round about 1950, a post-war goal of economic wealth through technology, along with longterm peace was made. In many ways we have now achieved that (despite its flaws). What is our goal now?

This is my proposal.

digitalWestie

@digitalWestie - over 6 years ago

I'm glad this difficult question has been asked. Over the course of independence referendum I was forced to wrestle with this somewhat. I saw a clear 'mission statement' presented by Yes, yet very little for No.

However it must be said, when you tackle this sort of question, or questions of 'national values' it's a bit like dissecting a joke. When you explain it, it no longer works. So I guess what I'm saying is, it doesn't really matter if we answer the question definitively, just so long as we ask the question.

Anyway, if I may:

The purpose of the United Kingdom should be to empower and enable its citizens. đź‘Ť

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - over 6 years ago

Shouldn't the purpose of a country be, in the first instance, about that country itself, its citizens and residents, rather than the whole world?

confirmordeny

@confirmordeny - over 6 years ago

Fun/happiness?

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

Difficulty with making an in-country mission is, we are a rich country.

There are many horrific edge cases and social problems, but basically we are in a very good state by any historical standard. ie Water, food, warmth, freedom from violence, healthcare are living realities for nearly all citizens.

In other circumstances, a mission for our citizens would make sense. In these circumstances, it doesn't seem very moral or strategic to me.

Our big problems are long term stability of our pretty good situation. And what to do next higher up Maslow. Plus continued vigilance to improve the basic harms some of us do still suffer.

Perhaps split up the UN declaration bit into two parts - first for our citizens, then for rest of world? I am an internationalist so I want to optimise straight for the world, but I can see why others might not.

Francis On 5 Oct 2014 05:49, "Tony Bowden" [email protected] wrote:

Shouldn't the purpose of a country be, in the first instance, about that country itself, its citizens and residents, rather than the whole world?

— Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub https://github.com/openpolitics/manifesto/pull/215#issuecomment-57926661 .

digitalWestie

@digitalWestie - over 6 years ago

On the whole yes, we have covered the base Maslow. However, go and speak to those who work in food banks and they'll tell you that people are asking for food that's edible cold because they don't have the money to heat it up. These are edge cases as you mentioned, and I'd be all for looking at the next 'stage', however not yet, as there are troubling indications the trend is going the wrong way...

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

Interesting; kind of a vision statement for the country. @frabcus, you mention that there was a post-war goal which we've now achieved. Was this explicitly stated?

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

@Floppy - I am thinking of Harold Wilson's white heat of technology speech. I have never read the original, just heard snippets!

http://nottspolitics.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Labours-Plan-for-science.pdf

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

@digitalWestie yep, agree things aren't perfect for everyone, and regressing for some, and we need to make sure we stay good. Nevertheless, I think that will always be the situation - it will always be possible to find flaws. I think we need a bigger vision anyway - as well as have everyone be in a good situation.

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - over 6 years ago

I suspect I'd be more comfortable with this if it were more explicitly framed as "This is our vision for where we'd like to see the country by X date" than "The purpose of the UK is…"

That's partially also because it makes it easier to set goals that are more arguable (but could be used as a reckoner when faced with tough decisions and trade-offs), rather than ones that need to be generally self-evident and accepted by all.

But maybe that's just because I'm thinking of the wrong sorts of thing, and there's a need for both. Do you have examples of this higher level vision from other countries?

digitalWestie

@digitalWestie - over 6 years ago

Just a thought, should there be some mention of sustainability and handing down minimum or greater what we received to future generations?

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

@tmtmtmtm yep, I'm not sure what phrasing is right yet. "Purpose" certainly doesn't seem to resonate now!

@digitalWestie "for that situation to be indefinitely achieved" was meant to cover that! This obviously needs writing better. I deliberately didn't say "sustainability" as I think it has been attacked as a concept so much people have forgotten the simplicity of what it means - I could be wrong.

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

Some references to try and explain what I'm trying to do here:

This talk by Simon Anholt, from The Good Country Index (http://www.goodcountry.org/faq) http://www.ted.com/talks/simonanholtwhichcountrydoesthemostgoodfortheworld#t-532306 explains early on part of what I'm getting add. He is essentially suggesting that countries instead of having a GDP target have a target to go up the rankings of his Good Country index (which is about impact to improve world as a whole).

I've no idea if we can reach consensus for that goal. I do think we need to reach consensus about some goal. If we don't, what is the whole thing for?

Personally there's a whole range of goals I'd be quite happy with. What goals would you be happy with?

Regarding the meaning of "purpose" I spotted this quote (about London's streets) recently. It uses it in a similar way to the way I am - to indicate practical consequences of lack of purpose:

“No goal, then no direction: no underlying plan, no consensus, then no effective practical action. If society is paralysed today, it is not for lack of means but for lack of purpose.” Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (reference)

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 6 years ago

There's some kind of human rights index, right? Something like that maybe, coupled with other similar indexes based on poverty, health, education?

sanjaypoyzer

@sanjaypoyzer - almost 6 years ago

Are there any other countries which have a mission statement like this? Otherwise we're comparing the UK to a charity (which maybe is a good thing, but it should definitely be noted how unprecedented it is.)

frabcus

@frabcus - almost 6 years ago

Well, the purpose of the US was originally "the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness".

philipjohn

@philipjohn - almost 6 years ago

I'm not sure a state is for anything, or should be, actually. People increasingly identify in ways that don't honour borders, and the internet makes this easier. We have a much more globalised culture than ever before where states are becoming less and less important to people other than politicians.

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - almost 6 years ago

Well, the purpose of the US was originally "the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness".

See also: “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. This also reminds me of Bhutan introducing Gross National Happiness as its primary metric.

Or, from another angle, the mission of setting up a worldwide caliphate…