I did, yesterday, which was indeed Day 4, spend most of my time very tiredly doing my day job after only 3 hours' sleep thanks to the poor performance of Abellio Greater Anglia. I was also running various ideas about new novels around my head. If I had time to write a book a month, the next 12 months would probably already be taken.
After taking a Special Delivery letter to the Post Office (and it is brilliant to have a Post Office in the village again, and in our wonderful library), I bumped into an old friend of mine whom I've known since I moved into the village in 2006, and for whom I have a huge amount of affection and time. But only now, 9 years later, have we both discovered that we have the same political inclinations on a national level, which may explain why we've been so simpatico since Day 1.
Talking of national politics, I thought I'd share my basic aims if I were leading a political party in this General Election. Make of them what you will.
EducationEducation to become a cross-party department led by a paid professional not by a Minister of State.
Education funding protected and to rise 0.25%/y above inflation.
Move away from the idea that everyone should go to university (drop-out rate in first year is over 50% currently).
Abolish free schools.
Abolish public schools.
Abolish tuition fees.
Health & CareHealth to become a cross-party department led by a paid professional not by a Minister of State.
Review of mid-management staffing in NHS with the aim of eliminating at least one strata of management.
Additional £2 bil/y funding.
NHS funding protected and to rise 0.25%/y above inflation from 2018.
Integrate health and social care.
Means-tested charge for GP visits - £10 per visit to a maximim £100/year for those earning over £30k/y.
EconomyGenerate surplus on current budget each year in order to reduce deficit.
Raise minimum wage to £9/hour in 2015, then rises with inflation.
Increase apprenticeships and the efficiency of apprenticeships.
Ban zero-hours contracts.
Cap on bankers’ bonuses and basic salaries.
ImmigrationLegal immigration is a red herring, and all the parties using it for political purposes are guilty of cheap populism.
Employers must pay immigrants the minimum wage.
WelfareSimplify the benefits system.
Abolish Bedroom Tax and work capability assessment.
Child Benefit means-testing to apply to household income not individual income.
Support the jobless in finding work rather than making them work to earn benefits.
More effective benefit fraud detection and resolution.
Law & OrderScrap Police & Crime Commissioners.
Increase spending on neighbourhood policing.
End imprisonment for possessing drugs for personal use.
Overhaul Stop & Search rules.
HousingBy 2020 build 200,000 new homes/year.
Guarantee 3-year tenancies for private sector.
Cap rent increases in the private sector.
Foreign & DefenceAbandon Trident nuclear programme.
Ban arms exports.
Maintain overseas aid at 0.7% of GDP.
Stop EU-US free trade deal TTIP.
Maintain triple lock so pensions rise by the highest of inflation, earnings, or 2.5%.
Reform pensions market which currently favours providers rather than customers.
No winter fuel payments for pensioners in 40% and above tax brackets.
EuropeNo in/out referendum.
Reform Common Agricultural Policy.
EnergyRenationalise all public utilities.
Zero-carbon UK by 2060.
Increased investment in renewable power sources.
TaxationIncrease personal allowance to £12,000/year.
20% tax on £12,001-£33,000/year salaries.
40% tax on £33,001-£100,000/year salaries.
50% tax on £100,001-£200,000/year salaries.
60% tax on £200,001-£250,000/year salaries.
70% tax on £250,001 upwards.
Abolish 10% dividend credit.
No dividend tax for basic rate tax payers is maintained.
Dividend tax for tax payers in 40% and above brackets is the same as personal taxation.
TransportRenationalise the railway system.
Immediately cut all public transport fares by 12%.
Scrap the High Speed 2 rail project.
Haulage firms only for local journeys; railway for long-haul freight transportation.
Polling day to be changed to Sundays.
Full Proportional Representation.
Significant local issues to be resolved by referendums.
There you go. 10 Downing Street, here I come.
Promoted by Richard Pierce-Saunderson of Spring Cottage, Church Street, Stradbroke, Suffolk, IP21 5HT.