Breaking down the barriers to solving world problems
 

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ provides more detailed questions and answers about Simpol.

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1. Does supporting Simpol mean I lose the freedom to vote as I choose?

No. The wording of the Simpol supporter's pledge states:

“I will be voting in future national elections for ANY politician or party – within reason – that has pledged to implement Simpol's range of global problem-solving measures alongside other governments (the Pledge). Or, if I have a party preference, I want my party to sign that pledge.”

If you check the wording, you'll see that you are pledging to vote in future elections for any politician within reason who has pledged to implement Simpol alongside other governments. “Within reason” means that, even if a politician or party has signed the Simpol Pledge, it still remains up to you to decide whether you feel that politician or party is worthy of receiving your vote.

So supporting Simpol in no way compromizes your freedom to vote as you wish; nor does it disallow you from preferring a particular party. But it does indicate very clearly to politicians that you will be giving very strong preference at future national elections to politicians or parties that support Simpol, to the exclusion of those who don't. In that way, politicians who have not yet signed the Simpol Pledge will know what they have to do if they want a chance of gaining your vote and the votes of other Simpol supporters; votes which could make all the difference to them winning or losing their seat.

Far from curtailing your voting freedom, Simpol brings real voting power back to the people! By supporting Simpol, your vote is not only re-empowered at national level, its power is extended to the global level too. Simpol offers you perhaps the first, genuine form of global electoral politics. 

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2. For politicians, does signing the Simpol Pledge entail any political risk or potential conflict with party policy?

Many politicians have signed the Simpol pledge simply because they see its merits. Simultaneous implementation offers the only logical way of solving global problems without any nation risking its international competitiveness and the health of its economy. By signing the Simpol Pledge, politicians show they appreciate that lasting solutions to global problems can only be achieved through cooperation between nation states, with the backing of citizens.

Since Simpol is to be implemented only when all or sufficient nations have signed up to it, and since Simpol's policy content remains only provisional, politicians who support it risk nothing because they can continue to implement their current party policies until sufficient governments have signed the Pledge and the date for Simpol’s implementation arrives. Signing the Simpol Pledge thus involves no risk and no conflict, either for an individual politician or for a political party.

In addition, politicians who sign the Pledge attract the votes of the growing number of Simpol supporters; votes that could make all the difference between winning or losing their parliamentary seat. Which is good news for them and for their party. Simpol thus provides politicians both with a political and an electoral advantage over politicians who do not yet support it.

If you are a politician or candidate and want to sign the Simpol Pledge, please download a Pledge Form. If you require more information please contact Simpol

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3. How can I support Simpol when its policy content hasn’t been defined yet? And how can Simpol still have a political impact?

Because Simpol’s policy content is not yet set and remains a work-in-progress, you have the opportunity, through your National Simpol Organisation, to participate, if you wish, in the process of policy-making.

In this way, supporting Simpol not only gives you the right to influence policy, you are giving a strong electoral incentive to politicians to sign the Pledge, so helping to bring the date of Simpol's implementation a step closer.

For more information on the kind of policies Simpol could consist of, see Simpol's Scope and Policy

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4. Surely expecting all or sufficient nations to sign the Simpol Pledge is just a dream. Is the Simpol truly realistic?

Simpol may at first glance seem unrealistic. But ask yourself how successful or effective present international attempts at solving global problems have been? And how successful are they likely to be in future? Conventional approaches to solving global problems are clearly failing. That's because:

  • Existing international treaty-making offers citizens no way to compel their national politicians to cooperate
  • Existing international efforts deal with only one issue at a time (eg. carbon emissions reductions). There is consequently no opportunity to offer nations that may lose out on that issue a way to be compensated. Under the existing single-issue approach, there is simply no incentive for nations to cooperate

Simpol, by contrast, solves both of these problems. It offers citizens a way to use their votes to drive politicians to cooperate globally, and it offers a multi-issue policy framework which allows nations that may lose on one issue to gain on another.

In this way, Simpol potentially offers a far more likely route to solving global problems than existing efforts. Either way, Simpol operates in parallel to existing international efforts and not as an alternative to them. So why not support those efforts and support Simpol too?

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5. But you simply can’t trust politicians. They may say they’ll implement Simpol, but what’s to stop them simply signing the Simpol Pledge to get the extra votes they need but then going back on their commitment at a later date?

Firstly, remember that politicians are not required to actually implement Simpol until all or sufficient nations have signed the Pledge, so there is really nothing for them to go back on until the date for implementation actually arrived. Remember, also, that politicians who had signed the Pledge for cynical reasons, only because it offered them vital extra votes, would be unlikely to back out because that would only lose them the extra votes they sought to gain by signing the Pledge in the first place. For politicians, then, backing out of the Pledge at any point would not only be illogical, it could also lose them vital electoral support and, consequently, their parliamentary seats.

Secondly, we need to bear in mind that by the time support for Simpol becomes so widespread that implementation becomes viable, not only would reneging on their commitment likely cost politicians their seats, allowing the world to degenerate into chaos would simply not be in their interests. 

In addition, supporters can gauge how seriously a politician is taking his commitment to Simpol. At elections they can look to see when a politician signed the Simpol pledge and whether they are a long-term supporter or have just signed up in the heat of the election? They can see what comment in support of Simpol politicians have made? And do those comments demonstrate an understanding of, and commitment to, the Simpol approach? What have they been doing to encourage other politicians, their party and the government to support Simpol? Do they promote Simpol when they speak in public or write articles? Do they flag up their support of Simpol in their election materials as something they are proud to support and promote?

In past elections supporters in some constituencies have had the choice of more than one candidate who had signed the Pledge. Increasingly supporters will be able to see which of those candidates is most serious about Simpol and can reflect this in their vote, thus maintaining the pressure on all politicians both to sign the Simpol Pledge and make Simpol part of their campaigning. So, please keep the pressure up! Please support Simpol now.

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6. But how are you ever going to get the USA to support Simpol? Both main U.S. parties are influenced by corporate interests so surely neither party will ever support it?

Simpol’s strategy for gaining support would vary from country to country depending on the electoral system. In "first past the post" systems, such as in the United Kingdom or the USA, the way Simpol works is by bringing existing political parties into competition with one another.

This competition will be intensified because it is increasingly likely that more and more parliamentary/congressional seats – and even entire elections - will be decided by relatively small numbers of people. That's because the dictates of international competition have forced the adherence of ALL mainstream political parties to a narrow, market and corporate-friendly stance. Which is why voters increasingly don’t bother to vote and support between the parties is relatively evenly split.

In the USA, Simpol might gain presidential support in the following way: You'll recall that at the Presidential Election in 2000, the entire result was hanging on only about 3000 votes in Florida. Given a similar knife-edge situation at a future presidential election, imagine that by that time, about 5000 voters in Florida supported Simpol and a similar critical number in the other key US states. Then, about two weeks prior to the election, the U.S. Simultaneous Policy Organisation (Simpol-USA) would announce that U.S. supporters would be voting for which ever of the Republicans or Democrats signed the Pledge.

Assuming a similar knife-edge situation as existed in 2000, ask yourself what you, as the sitting Presidential candidate for either of the major parties, would have to decide? If you failed to sign the Pledge but your opponent did, you just lost yourself the Presidency. But, if you did sign, not only would you have a far greater chance of winning, you wouldn't risk anything because implementation only goes ahead when all or sufficient nations had also signed. If you were either the sitting President or the main opposing candidate, what would you do? Under those circumstances, logically it would be in the vital interests of both competing candidates to sign the Pledge: the ideal outcome!

Apart from this, as global problems gradually worsen, the USA or other countries that we today perceive as ‘winners’ in the global economy or as having no interest in cooperating, are increasingly going to become losers in one way or another. Either economically, environmentally or in some other way. As those new circumstances become clear, cooperating with Simpol is likely to look far more attractive to politicians and businessmen than it may do today. But we don't need to wait until then. Please support Simpol now.

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7. What about China, or other countries where no democratic elections are held. How are they to be persuaded to support Simpol?

Before 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, few could have imagined the dramatic changes that have occurred in countries such as Russia and China. Both have moved rapidly, although not without disruption, from “command and control” economies to market economies. It is to be expected that, in time, political freedoms will follow.

Whether it does or not, China’s phenomenal economic growth is bringing many difficulties to its domestic environment, and managing the social consequences is also proving problematic. Beyond its domestic situation, China, like all other nations, cannot escape the severe consequences of global warming and the more open its economy becomes, the more it will be affected by other global threats. Although it is difficult to predict what will happen, global problems seem destined to worsen and China will not be immune.

It therefore seems likely that a point may be reached where it would become just as much in China’s interests to co-operate with the implementation of Simpol as for any other country. If a time were reached when most other countries had signed up, it seems unlikely China would want to hold out. It simply wouldn't be in its interests. 

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8. What about developing countries whose governments are either dictatorships or heavily influenced by foreign corporations or interests. How are you going to get those countries to support Simpol?

What many developing countries require are governance, expertise and resources. And to be released from the burden of crippling international debts.

The alleviation of these burdens are exactly what Simpol is likely to provide. Because Simpol offers an opportunity for wealth to be re-distributed across national borders on a debt-free basis, so making ruinous loans obsolete. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to ensure that, in return for receiving this aid, developing countries adhere to higher governance and environmental standards. Developing countries would therefore have a strong incentive to support Simpol and to play their vital part. 

Support for Simpol is increasing in these countries, and this will provide a growing incentive to politicians to sign the Simpol Pledge. As politicians in the developed world gradually feel compelled to support the campaign, their colleagues in developing countries are likely to follow. So please start building that pressure now. Please support Simpol.

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9. You say Simpol can only be implemented when all, or sufficient, nations have adopted it. But wouldn't governments then use Simpol as an excuse to delay implementing policies they could implement alone?

Not at all - in fact the contrary is more likely to be the case, because Simpol permits a sorting out of policies into two fundamentally different categories.

  • Firstly, there are policies which, if implemented unilaterally by a single or group of nations, would be likely to have a positive impact on that nation's competitiveness. These, clearly, are policies which can be implemented unilaterally and they would not qualify for inclusion in Simpol. Nations contemplating such policies will clearly want to implement them as soon as possible. After all, if they waited for other nations, they'd lose their competitive advantage!
  • Secondly, there are policies which, if implemented unilaterally by a single or group of nations, would likely have a negative impact on competitiveness, employment, capital markets, etc. These policies can only be implemented by all (or virtually all) nations simultaneously and would consequently qualify for inclusion in Simpol.

So, whichever the category the policy falls into, there is no reason to expect nations to delay. Indeed the fact nations are today delaying or watering down much-needed policies to solve global problems is because they presently lack a cooperative framework such as Simpol. It's therefore our task, as citizens, to bring Simpol to them! So please help to do that by supporting Simpol today.

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10. Would the policy measures of Simpol all be implemented globally on the same day or would they be implemented simultaneously, but in agreed stages?

Either situation is possible. Although all Simpol policy measures would be implemented by governments simultaneously on the same date, some may be implemented in full immediately; others may be implemented according to a timetable, in a gradual fashion, stage-by-stage. All such details remain to be determined through the process of formulating the policy content of Simpol. 

But it won't happen unless we make it happen. So please support Simpol now.

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11. But on many single issues, all nations implementing a policy simultaneously doesn't completely eliminate the competitive disadvantage between nations. So how does Simpol overcome this?

Simpol overcomes this because it offers a MULTI-issue policy framework. Today, politicians are attempting to solve problems like global warming, one issue at a time. But even if such treaties were implemented by all nations simultaneously, big-polluting nations, such as the USA, would still lose out to low-polluting nations because big-polluters have more to cut than anyone else. But this is why they don't co-operate. With Simpol, by contrast, it can contain more than one policy, thus allowing nations that may lose on one issue to gain on another.

For example, Simpol could contain both a policy on drastically reduce carbon emissions as well as, say, a global tax on foreign exchange transactions (such as the Tobin Tax). Both could be implemented together by all or sufficient nations simultaneously. Some of the proceeds from the Tobin Tax could then be used to sweeten the pill for those nations badly hit on the emissions part of the agreement. In this way, the global common interest can be much better aligned with national self-interests, so making the chances of global cooperation much higher.

For more information, please go to Policy.

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12. But is it actually possible to define policy measures that would be beneficial to all nations?

It may be difficult today to imagine such policies. But we can already see policies based on global simultaneous implementation emerging; the most obvious being the Tobin Tax. Another would be U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's legislation introduced into the House of Representatives (HR-2545) calling for the abandonment of U.S. nuclear weapons when all nuclear states do likewise. Policies such as Contraction & Convergence to solve global warming also require simultaneous implementation. As far as any future regulation of transnational corporations or financial markets is concerned, these too will require the Simpol approach.

Implementing policies globally and simultaneously need not mean a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Indeed, Simpol’s measures would include agreed exemptions or compensations for different countries. So, although the policy is implemented globally and simultaneously, its provisions can be designed to affect different countries in different ways, according to their differing needs.

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13. How is the range of Simpol policy measures to be formulated and by whom?

Simpol is fundamentally a democratic space in which citizens around the world can discuss, develop and approve the policies they wish to see implemented to address global problems.

Simpol is based on the concept of nation states and on how citizens who support the campaign can apply electoral pressure on their politicians to cooperate. Thus, national Simpol organizations will, as far as possible, be established in every country of the world. In their structure, they will each reflect the twin processes of policy development and building political support.

Simpol-UK was the first national Simpol organisation to be incorporated as a not-for-profit company. It is membership-based, with a Board of Trustees, Management Board and Policy Committee. It is building a Local Group Network based on current electoral constituencies. In nations where a Simpol campaign is already operating, citizens in those nations can participate in the process of policy development. For more details, please visit Policy. For non-UK citizens, please visit our global website for more information on what is happening in your country.

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14. What organisational structures does Simpol have?

National Simpol Organisations will, as far as possible, be established in every country of the world. They are incorporated according to local laws as not-for-profit organisations. They are not charities, do not accept funding from for-profit organisations and so depend wholly on the support of individual citizens.

The organisational structure of each national organisation reflects the twin processes of policy development and political support-building:

  • The policy development process is strictly democratic and is open to all national supporters in each country where a campaign has been established.
  • Political support-building is organised much like any conventional NGO campaign. National Simpol organisations have a Management Board to direct the campaign, supported by the organisation's members as well as by volunteers. A network of Local Simpol Groups in each parliamentary constituency furthers the campaign at local level.

For more information on Simpol-UK, please click here. For information about how Simpol is organised at the global level, please visit our global site.

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15. How does Simpol relate to global governance and global democracy?

When implemented, Simpol would constitute a form of binding global governance because all or sufficient nations would have simultaneously implemented a commonly agreed set of policies. Global legislative coverage would thus be achieved without the need for a global government. Since Simpol's policies are to be decided by citizens around the world who support the campaign, Simpol would also be essentially democratic, while still respecting the equality and sovereignty of all nations.

Remember that Simpol is to include only policies which nations cannot implement alone due to the fear of competitive disadvantage, so all other policies would have nothing whatever to do with Simpol and can continue to be implemented independently by individual nations. In this way, national sovereignty is maintained while global cooperation is fostered. Simpol thus naturally embodies the principle of subsidiarity and represents a synthesis of global unity and national diversity.

Since Simpol is arguably the only initiative that permits citizens to use their votes in national elections to drive their politicians to solve global problems, Simpol could be described as the first – and perhaps the only – form of global electoral politics. It's the way each citizen can make their vote really count, not just nationally, but globally. Simpol is an emergent, people-centred global governance. Supporting Simpol is your global democratic right as well as your global personal responsibility.

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16. How does Simpol) differ from conventional international treaty-making?

There are three main differences:

  • Firstly, traditional international treaty-making assumes that, once a treaty is agreed, participating nations are free to implement its provisions. In the current competitive environment, however, when
    governments return from a Treaty Summit, they run up against the problem of competitiveness. This is why even modest internationally agreed targets are continually being missed. Simpol, by contrast, would break the competitiveness vicious circle, so opening the way to robust global measures being implented in a way that harms no nation's competitiveness.
  • Secondly, most international treaties tend to consist of agreements on targets, leaving the means to achieving them open to each participating nation to decide. The underlying fear of uncompetitiveness thus still remains. With Simpol, by contrast, speicific industries, products or taxes could be subject to legislation in each nation with competitive effects having been taken into account and, if necessary, compensated for.
  • Finally, international treaties only deal with one issue at a time (eg. carbon emissions reductions), so offering no means to compensate nations who have more emissions to cut than others. The result is no cooperation and no action. Simpol's mutli-issue policy framework overcomes this, so allowing nations that may lose on one issue to gain on another. Thus, the chances of substantive cooperation are greatly increased. Moreover, Simpol offers citizens a powerful way to use their votes to drive their politicians and governments to cooperate. In other words, with Simpol, civil society has the potential to lead governments, not the other way round.

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17. The Kyoto Protocol still went ahead without the USA’s participation. So why do we need the Simultaneous Policy(Simpol)?

A key reason why the Kyoto Protocol still proceeded without the participation of the USA is only because the provisions of the treaty were so mild. The loss of competitive advantage suffered by nations proceeding with the Protocol was not very significant compared to the United States. But were a new climate agreement to require much more stringent emissions reductions - as would be needed if a really significant impact on global warming is to be achieved - no major nation would be willing to go ahead unless all did likewise. So if we are going to have international agreements that are going to be really effective, we're not going to get them unless all, or virtually all, nations implement them simultaneously. Hence the urgent need for Simpol! So please support Simpol now.

 

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18. I can see how Simpol would help solve the world's pressing economic and environmental problems, but what effect would it have on the arms trade and the threat of wars?

Perhaps the best way to answer this is to take the development of the European Union (EU) as an example. In past centuries Europe consisted of myriad nations that were regularly at war with one another. Large quantities of arms were produced and consumed in Europe in those wars and millions died.

But as the nations of Europe gradually learned to cooperate economically, and to some extent politically, and have now formed the EU, the thought they might ever go to war with one another has become virtually unthinkable. So although large quantities of weapons are still produced in the EU, they are now only for 'consumption' outside its borders. The market the EU itself represented for the use/consumption of such weapons was thus effectively abolished because it became an essentially cooperative group of nations.

Simpol extends this thinking to the global level since it provides a basis upon which ALL nations can together solve global problems through simultaneous government policies and taxes across national borders with appropriate redistribution and compensation between them. This, if you will, is a form of cooperation similar (though not identical) to what occured in the EU. If cooperation can be extended by Simpol to cover all nations, the entire world would have become largely cooperative rather than competitive. And so, as it was with Europe, the global market for large quantities of weapons - i.e. the need for them - would effectively have been abolished.

That's not to say all war would cease. But the whole global atmosphere would be transformed by Simpol to the point where the chances of large-scale war would have become extremely small and there would be a strong incentive for all nations to ensure things remained that way. The best antidote for war, then, is cooperation! So let's put an end to war by supporting Simpol!

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19. There are many excellent local initiatives. And what's more, they're happening NOW! So why do we need Simpol?

Simpol applauds all such initiatives and believes they are absolutely valid and are to be encouraged. Above all, they point the way towards a sustainable future.

But they are not enough. Whilst many people are converting to these new lifestyles, very many billions are not. And those billions are likely to remain in thrall to consumerism and highly dependent on the global economy. Furthermore, it cannot be assumed that small-scale initiatives will gradually replace the existing global economy in a benign and peaceful fashion. As economic, environmental or social dislocations gradually increase and as the global economy starts to dislocate, it is not unlikely that civil disobedience and social unrest could result. In those circumstances small-scale initiatives which have been lovingly and painstakingly built up over many years would be in danger of being over-run and destroyed as people's supermarket shelves became empty and their gas stations ran dry. In this light, there is no substitute for proper legislation and governance. So why not "Act Globally, not just Locally"? Keep going with your local initiative, whatever it may be. But act globally too by supporting Simpol

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20. What about consumer power, corporate responsibility initiatives and the 'triple bottom line'? Surely they are already bringing errant corporations into line, aren't they?

Again, Simpol applauds all peaceful efforts to instill responsible corporate behaviour. But it must be understood that corporations operate in a highly competitive environment. Any corporation acting in a socially and environmentally responsible way which therefore most likely increases its operating costs, puts itself in danger of losing out in the market to its competitors who may not have any such scruples. To a large extent, corporations can only afford to be as responsible as their main competitors allow. So all initiatives to instill good corporate behaviour are to be encouraged - but they are not enough. Again, Simpol takes the view that there is no substitute for properly adequate global regulations. So why not do both? Boycott any corporation that fails to behave responsibly, but support Simpol too. 

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21. Activists are so focused on their own activities. So how are you going to get them to support Simpol?

Everyone is busy these days. But activists of all kinds are realising that politicians and governments have become increasingly captive to the demands of transnational corporations, the money markets and the necessity of maintaining their nation’s 'competitiveness in the global market'. As such, conventional forms of persuasion such as lobbying, street protest, direct action, media coverage, etc no longer work well.

That's why Simpol offers activists an additional, complementary way to press for their objectives in a new, undiluted and politically effective way which augments and supports their existing campaigns. Simpol offers campaigners a truly global way to drive for their objectives through national electoral processes - but without becoming a political party. Activists can therefore press for unilaterally implementable policies with their usual methods. But for policies needing a simultaneous approach, they can support Simpol!

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If you have any further questions about Simpol, please e-mail us.