For years now, the UK has been an outstanding case of chronically understaffed public services and failing infrastructure; in some cases like social care and the NHS itself kept going (inadequately) by immigration. At the same time, government debt after the Covid pandemic is at the highest for decades. Of course, now the election is approaching the pressure is to forget such problems and promise more, not least on defence (the military being as short as any). In reality, international tensions and climate change can be expected to make matters worse.

For my money, Donna Ockenden's report on the state of maternity and natal care (dis)services should be the last straw. Enough is enough - time for drastic action. If only to get people thinking, I propose a new Emergency Powers Act on wartime models, suspending elections (and therefore campaigning pretences) and framing powers to direct investment and training for both public services and supporting private sector development in new technology, alongside strictly controlled immigration to ease bottlenecks in cases where training takes years (as for doctors and nurses). The Post Office and infected blood scandals highlight a need to tackle the most difficult challenge of all - ethical training. Even a form of 'National Service' for young people could contribute here. Also the emergency would allow the Chancellor to rip up the rule books on taxation as share of GDP and on borrowing levels - strictly for the investment and future development purposes.

The one power which my proposed EPA would NOT allocate to the government is deciding the duration of the emergency. That would be placed in the hands of the Supreme Court. When they rule that the emergency should be concluded, all the special powers would be immediately terminated - automatically triggering a dissolution of Parliament and a general election to restore normal democratic process.

Needless to say, no one is going to campaign on this for 2024. Moreover, the example of the World Wars would suggest to any governing party (or parties) that they could expect to be slaughtered in the general election following the emergency. But as an eccentric blogger (not up for election) I have the freedom to throw out wild proposals aimed at making people think.

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