We know that the right to be idle is important to our readers. While it is possible to stoically loaf under any government, public policy can make a big difference if you’re trying to live the good life. That’s why we have put together a short guide to voting in the UK General Election.
Before we start, it is worth noting that the Idler is not a party political magazine. This guide is merely a steer for those who are on the fence, or haven’t voted before, or just feel downright confused.
The issues that we are most concerned about have been selected in accordance with the Idler‘s core curriculum of philosophy, husbandry and merriment. According to these principles, the policies we have chosen to focus on are education, the environment and work and leisure.
As we go through the key policy concerns of any idler, we will consider manifesto promises by the three major parties that all in the UK can vote for: CONSERVATIVE, LABOUR and LIBERAL DEMOCRAT.
Remember: These policies are not guaranteed to happen and we all know that politicians are professional liars who will always promise us an impossible arcadia. That said, we have taken the manifestos at their word for the purposes of this guide.
Our rating system gives each party a score out of 10, based on how idler-friendly or idler-phobic it is.
We set up the Idler Academy to offer an old fashioned approach to education with chalkboards and exercise books. Our courses range from Latin and Punctuation to Psychedelics and Tarot Card Reading. We think that the best kind of school would teach everything from Ancient Greek Philosophy to woodwork and calligraphy, and ought to be open to all. In terms of education policy we look for more attention on outmoded subjects and skills, reduction of debt and a return to the principles of lifelong learning.
• £4.3 billion investment in schools by 2023/24
• Improve arts funding for secondary schools
• Reduce interest rates on student loans
• Create a National Skills Fund to support adult education
6/10: Apprenticeships and arts funding are an encouraging sign that there are alternatives to academia.
• £7.5 billion investment in schools by 2023/24
• Limit class size to 30 students
• End tax loopholes for private schools
• Abolish student tuition fees
• Reinstate maintenance grants for low income students
7/10: Free education, you can’t argue with it. But what about the students already stuck with debt?
• £4.8 billion investment in schools by 2023/24
• Increase teachers’ base salary to £30,000
• ‘Review’ higher education finance in next Parliament
• Reinstate maintenance grants for low income students
• Create a ‘Skills Wallet‘ which offers £10,000 to spend on approved training courses
4/10: The ‘Skills Wallet’ is truly grim jargon. Would Idler online courses be an ‘approved’ expenditure?
After meeting the organisers of Extinction Rebellion we have been more and more convinced that an idle life is an ecologically friendly life. After all, it would be a lot better for the planet if everyone worked, consumed and travelled less. In the last few decades charities like the National Trust have had to take it into their own hands to protect our common right to forests and lakes. However, as property developers and private companies divvy up our country it is clear that we need government mandated action to maintain our green and pleasant land.
• Net zero carbon emissions by 2050
• £4 billion in flood defences
• £1 billion to combat marine pollution
• Continue planning of third runway at Heathrow
4/10: A more defensive than offensive strategy in the fight against climate change.
• Net zero carbon emissions by 2030
• Build 7,000 offshore and 2,000 onshore wind turbines
• £250 billion Green Transformation Fund
• Nationalise railways and incentivise train travel
• ‘Review’ Heathrow third runway plan
6/10: Nationalised railways and energy are a start, but what about our common public spaces?
• Net zero carbon emissions by 2045
• Plant 60 million trees a year
• Freeze rail fares to incentivise train travel
• £4.5 billion to restore and maintain bus routes
• No third runway at Heathrow
• Taxes on frequent fliers taking unnecessary travel
7/10: Impressive commitment to tackling emissions directly.
NOTE: On issues of climate and the protection of our natural environment you can do no better than the Green Party. We would encourage anyone who feels particularly strongly about these issues to research if there is a chance of getting a Green MP in your local seat. If so, it might be worth putting your voice behind the movement. Even though they will not be running the country, we won’t have a country to run if we don’t pressure parliament into progressive eco policy.
WORK & LEISURE
Most people in the UK spend the majority of their lives working. With the rise of the gig economy and zero hours contracts, a job no longer guarantees any economic security. So what’s the use in them? Shouldn’t we all be having more leisure time? We have reported for years on evidence that workers are more productive when they are happy.
So our focus is on the balance between work and rest. In these policies we are looking for mandated shorter hours, more public holidays and regulation on the treatment of labourers so that they don’t become wage slaves.
It has been noted by some Idler readers that small business owners, like bohemian shop keepers or indie press publishers, are not catered to by any of the manifestos. Governments like people to be in full time jobs and don’t seem very interested in the anarcho-petite bourgeoise.
• Reject trial of Universal Basic Income and continue Universal Credit
• Reform redundancy law to support women getting back into work after having children
• Keep zero hour contracts but give workers the right to request ‘predictable’ schedules
• Encourage flexible working options, but no legal requirement to offer them
4/10: As expected, the focus of the Conservatives is on rewarding the ‘hardworking family’.
• Support Universal Basic Income trials in Sheffield and scrap Universal Credit
• Promise four new bank holidays
• Pledge that there will be a Four Day Week before 2025
• Extend maternity leave to 12 months and double paternity leave to 4 weeks
• Abolish zero hour contracts
8/10: Considering their name, the Labour Party have been pleasingly anti-work of late.
• Require employers to offer flexible working where possible
• ‘Modernise’ employment rights for zero hour contract workers
• Employee representation on boards of large companies
5/10: Not much to show here, really. Unspecific jargon like ‘modernise’ doesn’t seem very promising.
In descending order, the final tallies for the parties’ idle policies are as follows:
IDLEST: LABOUR 21/30
IDLE-ISH: LIBERAL DEMOCRATS 16/30
ENEMIES OF IDLENESS: TORIES 14/30
So that’s all folks, the numbers don’t lie. The irony is not lost on us that Labour is the most supportive party of the lazy and loafing. Considering Priti Patel’s attack on the ‘idlers’ of the UK in her book Britannia Unchained, it’s no surprise that the Tories place poorly in this ranking. If you are more of a striver than a skiver then they might be the party for you. The Liberal Democrats seem stuck in the middle, not quite committed to either side of the idle divide.
Whatever choice you make, go out and exercise your democratic right to vote on the 12th of December.
Or spend the day in bed, we won’t blame you if you do.