General election 2017: Unusual manifesto pledges

By Jenny Matthews
BBC News

  • Published
Lisabela Marschild and James SmithImage source, Space Navies and Something New
Image caption,
Space Navies and Something New are both offering more direct democracy

It may be a snap election dominated by rows over social care and security, but some smaller parties and independents have still had time to put together some eye-catchingly different manifesto pledges.

£19,000 MPs' pay

Lisabela Marschild is standing for Blaydon, in Tyne and Wear, (click on the link for full list of candidates) for the Space Navies, a party named in a nod to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

The party describes itself as an organisation "dedicated to the future of our beautiful world".

It is styled - in an ironic way born out of performance art - on military lines with ranks, medals, uniforms and so on - but its main honours are awarded for reasons such as "never having killed anybody".

But its main manifesto offerings, Marshal Marschild says, are introducing direct democracy and cutting MPs' pay.

A database would be set up to allow every registered voter to vote on an issue three days before a vote in Parliament.

The MP would then simply vote in Parliament the way the majority in the constituency had voted.

Conversely, constituents could also propose issues for debate, and the MP would then present them to Parliament as a private member's bill.

The Space Navies Party also supports a "basic income grant" of £19,000 a year.

Marshal Marschild says she would, as soon as she was elected, take an MP's salary of £19,000 plus the basic grant of £19,000 - and donate the rest of her £74,000 to a charity chosen by her constituents.

"We all need a new future without the self-serving, greedy, careerist politicians of today and of the past years," she says.

'Bad democracy'

The Space Navies isn't the only party offering direct democracy ideas.

Image source, Keith Garrett
Image caption,
Keith Garrett believes elections are elitist and "sortition" is better democracy

There is Keith Garrett's Rebooting Democracy, standing in Cambridge.

He had hoped the movement would fight all 650 seats in the election - but the snap election meant there was only time to get one.

It doesn't have a manifesto as such, because its primary goal is to move towards a "sortition-based government" - where lawmakers are chosen not in elections but as groups drawn at random (although weighted to be representative) from the population at large.

Each group would then seek advice on a particular issue and make decisions.

Sortition was the form of democracy in ancient Athens, Mr Garrett says, and is a much better form of democracy than our current one - which is a "really, really bad form of democracy".

Mr Garrett's main focus is climate change - and he says that under the present system it is difficult for politicians to make the hard, long-term decisions that need to be made.

'Filter bubble'

Or, on a similar note, there is Something New, which is fielding candidates in Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Horsham.

James Smith, the Horsham candidate, describes Something New as a "progressive platform for the 21st Century", using the internet as a device for listening rather than just broadcasting.

The party has adopted the OpenPolitics Manifesto, which anyone can contribute to - to suggest a change, you just click a button on its website and write in what you think the manifesto should say.

It is then voted on by other members, in a system similar to that used by Wikipedia, and adopted if approved.

The manifesto ideas currently include a "right to health" and an aim to "stop the Brexit process".

"It is a filter bubble, and that's OK," says Mr Smith.

Or there's even the Money Free Party , which has a national manifesto of transition to a "money-free world" where resources are equally shared, plus local manifestos to create a system of local governance where locals are "supplied with ample food and energy security".

It is fighting the Bristol West constituency, and its local manifestos include:

  • a non-profit bank for each town
  • tool libraries in all communities
  • solar power installations
  • space for people to grow vegetables for free

'Legalise brothels'

The Young People's Party wants to rebalance the economy towards young people, who it says are the most productive in society. It has three candidates, in Epping Forest, the Cities of London & Westminster, and Durham.

Media caption,
General election 2017: Young People's Party's tax plans

Some of its manifesto suggestions are:

  • Replace a host of taxes with a land value tax based on the rental value of land
  • Roll most cash welfare payments into a citizen's income scheme where each adult gets about £75 a week
  • On crime, change the punishment from units of time to units of achievement (such as education, work or training)
  • Legalise and regulate drugs and brothels

Leader Thomas Hall says the land value tax is the "least bad tax" and would make society a lot fairer.

'More sustainable society'

The Animal Welfare Party has been around for about 10 years and is contesting four seats, including in Maidenhead against Prime Minister Theresa May, and London constituencies Hackney South and Shoreditch; Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and Lewisham Deptford.

Media caption,
General election 2017: Animal Welfare Party leader Vanessa Hudson

It wants to create a "fairer, more equitable and sustainable society, in which the interests of the environment, people and animals are taken into account".

Some of its manifesto pledges include:

  • End the badger cull and oppose any repeal of the fox hunting ban
  • Promote healthy plant-based diets
  • End all slaughter without prior stunning
  • Phase out animal experimentation

Leader Vanessa Hudson told the Daily Politics that as the world population was growing we could not carry on the way we had been.

'Pelted with cheeseburgers'

All a bit heavy? Well, veteran candidate David Bishop, also known as Lord Biro, who first stood for a general election in 1997, had planned to retire from politics, but is giving it another shot for the Church of the Militant Elvis Party.

Media caption,
David Bishop, also known as Lord Biro, when he was planning to retire

The retired painter and decorator's manifesto for Nottingham East includes:

  • Call on the Chinese army "to leave Tibet because it's blowing up mountains looking for minerals and driving the yeti and snow leopard to extinction"
  • "Folk who fly-tip on Mount Everest should be put in the stocks and pelted with mouldy cheeseburgers"
  • "We are totally opposed to fox hunting, hare coursing et cetera"
  • "If cannabis is ever legalised, it should be nationalised and called British Grass"

Mr Bishop has had some electoral success - he beat the Liberal Democrats in a local council by-election in 2014, getting 67 votes to their 56.

'Yellow lines where you can park'

The other famous electoral veterans, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, are standing in 12 different constituencies this year, including against Prime Minister Theresa May in Maidenhead, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North.

Media caption,
Parties pinch our ideas all the time, says leader Howling "Laud" Hope

Their 2017 "manicfesto" offering is topped with the pledge: "We will stand on a platform of free woollen hats for all, so we can pull the wool over people's eyes."

Others include:

  • Taxation: taxpayers to receive Nectar points from Revenue & Customs
  • Electoral change: 30-day cooling-off period during which, "if you change your mind, didn't like the result, or didn't know what you were voting for, you can get your vote back".
  • Defence: "We shall replace the Trident missile... with a three-pronged fork."
  • Transport: "We will only paint yellow lines where you can park."

Leader Howling "Laud" Hope - fighting Maidenhead - told the Daily Politics some of their past and present manifesto pledges had been pinched by other parties and even put into practice - citing UKIP's one-in, one-out immigration policy, 24-hour drinking and pet passports.

Prefer to write some policies of your own?

"If you go to our there's a piece on there you can send in your own policies," says Mr Hope.

"And at our party conference in Blackpool we then look through them, see which ones are good and see which ones we're going to use."

'Free fish for NHS staff'

And finally, if you're a fan of fish-based puns, then you could have a look at Mr Fish Finger's "manifishto", which includes:

  • "I will work to provide a better education system for students. Free fishing rods for everyone"
  • "No tax on chip shops and restaurants"
  • And for the NHS, "more fish fingers on hospital menus, and free fish for NHS staff. Free training for nurses"

Mr Fish Finger is running against Lib Dem leader Tim Farron in the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency, and says he is "fully codmitted to making Brexit work for the codstituents".