(The following Manifesto was developed in the summer of 2011 during a residency at an allotment – “Art, Gardening, Politics & Cake”)
THIS MANIFESTO SHOULD BE PRINTED ONTO HANDKERCHIEFS AND GIVEN AS GIFTS TO PEOPLE SELECTED BY THE ARTISTS
MANIFESTO Inspired by Manifestos of DaDa and BlahBlah, this is an ironic penning that shouldn’t be needed.
Should artists sit and discuss “the problem with politics” when politicians are unlikely to debate “the problem with art”? Here’s one problem: Less than a quarter of MPs are women, but only 3-5% of art in permanent gallery collections is made by women and only 2.5% of artists in art reference books are female. Perhaps we need to address the balance at home before straying into another’s House – upper or lower. Perhaps we will. But we can get away with political discussions, because this is about all of us. We live in a democracy – and it’s right that we participate in this discussion.
I Represent: Politicians are the least trusted profession in Britain. The public vote for them, yet many feel they are offered an inadequate choice of candidates and that the political environment and the political system does not attract candidates that actually represent their communities. We would try to change that. We would stop anyone entering the political system via the GSCE-A-level-politics degree-GAP-year-political-internship-political-candidate route.
- Anyone wanting to stand as a candidate would complete a minimum of one year’s community service in his or her constituency. A minimum of seven hours a week working as a community level volunteer that MUST encompass a spell in an education establishment, a health facility, social services, police/prisons/ and one other relevant to their constituency. Where the constituency was home to a high number of immigrants, the candidate should spend a spell in the country of their origin – WHEREEVER this might be.
- Soft play, soft power – we would provide a crèche for children of MPs and staff and adults would be encouraged to spend at least some of the day in play
- Kick religion out of politics – we would get rid of the un-elected Bishops who vote in the Upper House, get rid of daily prayers, and cleanse both houses of religious icons and imagery. Non/multi-faith prayer/meditation rooms would be available
- Popular politicians, popular culture – All Palace screens would be tuned into to half an our of Britain’s MOST watched TV show every day at three o’clock
- We like the tea and cakes and the catering staff at the Palace and would keep them, encouraging a mass tea break at three for all whilst watching the tele.
- No more government cars (with the exception of the Prime Minister who would drive a Rolls Royce) – MPs would get a free bus and train pass.
- No more life peers – Instead introduce a-bit-of-life-peerages that last a decade instead of a lifetime.
- Make use of modern technology. Reduce expenses, by allowing MPs to dial into debates, and vote from their mobile phones. Remote working will encourage a more diverse range of candidates.
- Musical MPs – instead of daily prayers MPs will together sing the UK’s number one pop song using Karaoke on the voting screens. Bringing musical instruments to the Palace will be encouraged.
How it looks: We love talking about the aesthetics of politics and think this is where, as artists, we can offer the most valuable input.
The aesthetics of both House are overwhelmingly masculine. Hard edged. Somber. Traditional. Old fashioned. We like red for the upper house (which could be brighter to wake them up a bit) and the like green for the lower house. However phallic, we do like Big Ben. The clock performs a practical function (IE it tells the time well). Aesthetic changes would include:
- The removal of all old statues of men with swords into one single room. Anyone who wants to see old men with swords can visit the room. They will look good all together anyway. A Dr. Who episode could be made about them.
- The public entrance to the Palace is grim and dark. We could make it even more grim and dark. With wax-work models of every serving MP edging the room. They could light up when approached. When a new MP is elected he or she can be made out of the wax of their outgoing predecessor. Research shows that tourists like wax-work models.
- The portcullis logo should go. It signifies either a closed, barred gate = no access, or a group of elite locked up, stuck in a castle. Suggest an open door is used, if a door is needed at all.
- Positive discrimination against suits and ties. People would be encouraged to wear whatever they like – with the exception of suits and ties (and nudity). Inspired by the struggles of routing out apartheid in South Africa. This will take time, the rule would be reviewed in 10 years.
- A large screen will be erected in each debating chamber, to allow MPs and members of the House of Lords to dial into debates. At other times it could show good British movies.
- Hard benches should be replaced with arm chairs. Members would be encouraged to bring in a cushion from home. And the wool sack has out-lived its purpose (whatever that was).
- The paintings are too big and boring. We would advocate a complete audit of all portraits to ensure they are represent a balanced story of British politics (more women in the pictures maybe?) Consider photos instead of statues and oil paintings – they are cheaper – it’s people’s taxes we are spending.
- Art schools and organisations from each constituency could submit art work for display on a rolling basis. Prizes could be awarded.
- Outside the Palace, we would allow each constituency to set up a market stall selling the best of their local products. MPs would have to do a stint serving on their market stall. Stalls would operate as a community cooperative.
- Some of the Palace could be brightened up a bit with a lick of paint. One wall could be embellished with stone or brick from each constituent region.
Janice & Jaine