© Graham Clark
Here goes. The big and pressing issues would be delegated (one can’t do everything, even with this sort of power). The issues of climate change and the world’s financial system would be dealt with by a panel of experts. Planning and architecture would be the responsibility of Professor Christopher Alexander, author of the architectural classic, A Pattern Language, who understands humane architecture and would be given wide authority to demolish the inhuman phallic symbols created by modernist architects (the buildings in question know who they are.) New buildings would be on a human scale, and relate to the other buildings near them. Big statements of architectural ego would be discouraged.
Now to the real business in hand: education and the arts. Education is a good thing. You might think that this hardly requires to be said, but there are plenty of people who view education as a form of technical training designed to fit you for a job. It is so much more than that; the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom is an end in itself. It enriches our lives. And it should be within the reach of everybody who wants it. I would seek to reintroduce that great good that we had in the UK and that we somehow lost: the grant system that enabled people to have a tertiary education without ending up with massive debt. A graduate tax would pay for it: if you have an education courtesy of the state then you pay slightly higher income taxes throughout your working life. That would not be crippling—it would probably be the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee a day.
Universities would be encouraged to behave like universities and re-introduce recognisable titles such as “Dean” and “Head of Department.” I saw a university lecturer described the other day as the “lead” in a certain subject; I have also heard of students being described in a planning document as “units.” Orwellian doublespeak would be rooted out and exposed for what it is.
Control of universities would be wrested back from the bureaucrats and handed to those who would run them on collegiate lines. This would be a celebration of that endangered concept: democracy. Similarly, I would hand the hospitals back to doctors and nurses. Parking at hospitals would be free…