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Dedication: Children of The World

The Children's Party

by Harvey TORDOFF

1.  The New Boy


Mr. Jones
: "Good morning, everybody, I want you all to extend a warm welcome to our new student, Tariq.  Tariq is from Iraq, and I want you to put aside any prejudices and take time to get to know him.  Whether you like him or not should depend on you and him; not on what you might have seen on TV about his people.

Tariq, it will be a difficult time for you as you adjust to life in Britain.  It would be easier for us to help you if we knew a little bit about you.  Would you like to tell us about yourself, about your life in Iraq?"

Tariq:  "Thank you, Mr Jones.  There is not much to tell.  I am ordinary boy from small village.  I go to school.  I help my family.  I play with my friends.  I very grateful to soldiers for flying me to England for new life."

Mr. Jones: "I'm sure there is much more to tell, but that can come later.  Meanwhile, does anyone have a question for Tariq?"

Mike:  "Why should we welcome another illegal immigrant?"

Mr. Jones: "Tariq is not an illegal immigrant.  There was a lot of publicity and his immigration was cleared at a very high level. "

Tracey:  "What do you think of England, Tariq?"

Tariq:  "I am in England for few weeks.  Hospital very good.  Food strange.   Best of all, England is democracy so I feel safe."

Mike: "I wouldn't bet on it!"

Tracey: "What are you looking forward to seeing?"

Tariq: "Democracy.  And a football match."

Jason: "Who do you support, then?  Arsenal or Chelsea?  And don't dare say Man United!"

Tariq:  "I hear these names but they don't mean anything.  I am willing to learn."

Jason:  "Well let me save you time.  Forget about Chelsea.  They're not even English!"

Mr. Jones:  "Jason, this is the kind of prejudice I want you to try to put behind you.  I was interested to hear that Tariq wants to see Democracy.  What do you mean by that, Tariq?"

Tariq:  "In my country we have dictator.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Democracy is where people always happy.  No bad things.  Like Paradise, in Koran."

Mike:  "No bad things?  You must be joking!  We're at school for one thing, aren't we?"

Tariq:  "School is good thing.  I want education.  I mean, in democracy Government does what people want."

Mr. Jones:  "I don't ever remember hearing anyone in this class room talk about democracy before.  Let's find out what it means to you all.  Anybody?"

Tracey:  "Freedom."

Mark:  "Hypocrisy."

Tracey:  "Parliament."

Jacob:  "Elections."

Mr. Jones:  "OK, I don't want to spend too much time on this now, because we have to stick to the syllabus.  But I think we have a class project here.  By the end of term I want you to be able to present your ideas on democracy to the rest of the school.  And if you include accusations like hypocrisy you have to justify them."

Jason:  "We could tell the rest of the school why Arsenal are the best team in the world!"

Tracey: "Most boring team in the world, more like!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

2.  One week later

Mr. Jones:  "This is your project, so I will let you develop your own ideas.  But let me start you off with this famous quotation by Winston Churchill . . ."

Jen:  "Winston who?"

Mr Jones: "Winston Churchill, the most famous politician of the twentieth century, said: 'No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.'"

Jacob:  "Bush and Blair seem to think it is perfect."

Mike:  "Anyway, Churchill lived about 100 years ago.  Everything's changed since then."

Mr. Jones:  "That quotation comes from 1947, and although a week might be a long time in politics nothing much has changed in the way democracy is practised in this country."

Mark:  "You mean we know it's crap and we haven't tried to improve it in 60 years?"

Tariq:  "I don't even know what is democracy, except that my parents were killed so that Iraq could have it.  I thought it meant governments did what the people wanted, so everybody happy.  England fought Saddam Hussein because English people wanted it.  Didn't they?"

Jen:  "I didn't want to go to war in Iraq.  My parents didn't want it.  Until Tony Blair persuaded us, most of the people didn't want it.  Anyway, it was supposed to be about weapons of mass destruction, not democracy."

Ravi:  "Don't you believe it! Just as western missionaries used to think the world had to be Christian, today's politicians and big businesses think the world has to be democratic, to protect their power bases."

Mr. Jones:  "You seem to be getting stuck into it.  I think you need to decide what you mean by democracy, whether or not it is worthwhile, whether it can be improved, and what you would do about it if you had the power.  What resources will you need?"

Mike:  "Computers.  For internet access and printing out our findings."

Mr. Jones: "I'll see to it.  But no abuse.  Google democracy all you like, but porn is not on the agenda."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3.  Half-term

Tracey:  "We'll never turn this into a project.  It's too big, too complicated."

Ravi:  "Why don't we just write a manifesto?"

Tariq: "What's that?"

Ravi:  "We just set out how we would run the country.  Easy peasy."

Mark:  "We'll just sound like a bunch of amateurs.  Anyway, as Tracey says, it's too big"

Ravi:   "Trust me.  All we have to do is say what we want to be different If the group can agree on what it wants I'll write it down and my legal secretary will type it up."

Mike:  "Your what?"

Ravi:  "Alright, my Mum, but she'll be good; it's what she does for a job."

Jen:  "OK.  Nobody has to go to school on their birthday.
 All those in favour . . ."

Everybody:  "Aye!"   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4.  End of Term

The Manifesto of
The Children's Party

This Party declares its faith in democracy.  The Government will listen to the people and use their best endeavours to carry out the will of the people.  Existing technology will be extended and made available to all voters in their homes or in public buildings.  Voters will be asked for their opinions on all matters from budgets to foreign policy.  Gradually, power will be transferred back to the people.  The people's elected representatives will become responsible for disseminating information and carrying out the wishes of the people.

To ensure that irresponsible media reporting and vocal minorities do not unduly influence crucial votes the following safeguards will apply:

1.      If the votes cast account for less than fifty percent of the electorate the electronic vote will be ignored and Parliament will decide in the traditional manner.

2.      Approval by seventy-five percent of those voting is required to:

·          Effect a change in the constitution.

·           Wage war on another country.

·          Relinquish control of our affairs to another country or group of countries.

·          Re-introduce the death penalty.

3.      The voting age will be reduced to 16.

4.      Any citizen who has served a prison sentence shall lose his right to vote.

The Children’s Party will seek to put the following recommendations to the voters:

 

Education ~

1.      Full-time education will be free to all students up to the age of 21.

2.      Trade and business apprenticeships will be offered alongside university degrees.

3.      Full-time education between 21 and 25 will be subsidised by repayable loans.

4.      Part-time adult education will be subsidised by grants to colleges.

5.      Children over 12 will be involved in setting the school curriculum.

6.      Children over 14 can leave school if an employer will sign them on to an approved apprenticeship scheme.

7.      Children need not go to school on their birthdays.

 

Employment ~

1.      The maximum basic working week will be 40 hours.

2.      The maximum overtime will be 20 hours per week.

3.      The minimum wage will be fixed at 50% of the average wage for all employees in an organisation.

4.      In addition to public holidays everybody will be entitled to at least three weeks holiday each year, rising by one week for every ten years of service.

5.      Nobody has to go to work on their birthday.


Health ~

1.      Health services will be available to all citizens.

2.      Health services will be free to those under 18 and over 65.

3.      Prescriptions and appointments with GP's and hospitals will carry a subsidised charge to those between the ages of 18 and 65.

4.      Those contributing to their own ill-health will be taxed (tobacco, alcohol, soft drugs, fatty or sweet foods, etc.)

 

Law, Order & Civil Protection ~

1.      The Police will not be armed

2.      Prison sentences will be given to violent or habitual criminals.

3.      Community sentences will be given to non-violent criminals.

4.      Wages for police officers, prison officers and fire fighters will reflect the dangerous element of their work, which will be treated differently to mundane and administrative duties.

 

Transport ~

1.      Public transport will be subsidised.

2.      Rail freight will be subsidised.

3.      Pollution will be taxed.

 

Defence ~

1.      The territory that requires defending is the European Union, and therefore all defensive measures will be consolidated into a European defence force.

2.      This country will not maintain an offensive capability.

3.      This country will renounce all nuclear weapons.

4.      Arms exports outside the European Union will be banned.

 

Energy ~

1.      This country will reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

2.      This country will not build any new nuclear power stations

3.      This country will de-commission nuclear power stations over the next twenty years.

4.      Energy production from clean, renewable sources will be subsidised.

5.      Energy conservation will be subsidised.

6.      Building regulations will insist on greater energy conservation and a contribution from renewable energy on all new housing developments.

 

Personal Liberty ~

1.      Everyone over the age of 12 shall carry an Identity Card.

2.      Everyone is entitled to practice a religion and enjoy a lifestyle of their choosing providing they do not impinge on the religion or lifestyle of others.

3.      Any person aged 16 or over who abuses or abducts children under the age of 12 shall be listed on a child abuse register and shall be barred from taking any jobs which offer direct contact with children.


Pensions ~

1.      Each man and woman shall receive a pension equivalent to 50% of the average working wage.

2.      Each man and woman shall be entitled to a pension providing his or her other income does not exceed 50% of the average working wage.

3.      Within 40 years state pensions shall be fully-funded.

 

Taxation ~

1.      The budget will be separated into the categories listed above.

2.      Taxes will be raised from:

·          Income

·          Profits

·          Sales

·          Capital

·          unhealthy activities

·          driving

·          pollution

3.      Income will be matched with expenditure, and the people can decide how much it wants to spend on each budget and what kind of a service it wants.  For example, taxes raised from vehicle licensing and fuel sales, will be spent on road building and maintenance, after appropriate contributions have been made to the health service and law & order budgets.

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Jones:  "Can I vote for you at the next election?  But don't arrange it for my birthday!"



Profile of Harvey Tordoff
http:www.olanoo.com

http:www.bigger-picture.co.uk

E-mail to Harvey Tordoff:
harve@bigger-picture.co.uk

© March 2004, Harvey Tordoff

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