Centrism fosters a consistent evidence-based approach to decision making. There is no party line to be protected, we just have to do the right thing.
So, when any policy area is under review a normal rational decision making process can be applied such as
What is the current position, why is it unsatisfactory, who is affected, how does it impinge on them?
- Identify alternative options
There are always several different possible approaches, frequently ranging across the political spectrum
- Evaluate options
What costs would each option incur and what benefits would it produce, what non-financial effects would it have, how certain can we be in these forecasts?
- Test for consensus
The testing would vary from issue to issue. If it is a relatively simple issue then a survey or focus group testing might be sufficient. At the other end of the spectrum if it is a matter of great importance on which there are opposing and mutually exclusive points of view then a referendum might be necessary (see below)
Once it has been determined which option gives the greatest net benefit to the greatest number of people and that it has consensus support then that approach is decided upon. This process ensures that it is unlikely that a future government will simply undo any reform although everything is open to continual improvement
- Authorise and Implement
Some measures will require Parliamentary approval, others may be authorised by a minister or a civil servant. To put the selected course of action into effect might sometimes take years so a rigorously planned and monitored implementation programme will be required
During implementation and after, the project has to be reviewed to ensure that the costs are as anticipated and that the planned benefits are achieved.
Such an apolitical decision making process can be applied to any policy area. In particular any problems that we have not identified in this manifesto can simply be incorporated into the programme and addressed using the same process. We are driven by real issues and their priorities, not political programmes.
As we have recently seen referendums are an expensive and potentially ineffective form of decision making. We would aim generally to demonstrate the consensus on an issue in other ways. But very occasionally – where an issue has been a political football for decades and people have entrenched positions – a referendum might be necessary.
But any referendums will not be of the divisive binary (Yes/No) type such as we suffered on the EU. The aim is to achieve consensus – the course of action that is wanted by, or at least acceptable to, the majority of people. Typically then we would offer 5 options covering the spectrum of political opinion. Each option would be proposed by a campaign team but there would be an absolute ban on misleading information – arguments are to be won on their merits not on spin, innuendo or rhetoric. And voting might be to rank the options so that the least popular can be eliminated according to second and third preferences.
Broadly speaking, we believe that if you ask a group of people a question with a range of possible answers, the results will reveal where most people sit on the issue.
In the results shown above, most people have chosen option two, with the majority of people preferring options one, two or three. By handling decisions in this way, we can understand more about what the people actually want. We learn much more than if we’d just asked a yes/no question.
Under this process we can be reasonably confident that the electorate will be engaged and will make an informed decision. And that the decision will reflect the consensus of the country so will stick.