A Maslow manifesto

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who created a model of the hierarchy of human needs, from the most basic upwards. It is always represented as a pyramid and has been adapted several times, but the basics are unchanged.

What if Maslow were alive today, what if he were to be our next prime minister? Anthea Bareham draws up her own list:

The next government will inherit a wide range of problems and on a scale that is unprecedented in recent times. The first question could well be: where to start? A Maslow government will address the needs of the country in priority order.

Physiological needs

A Maslow government will:

  • Invest in social care to ease ‘bed-blocking’.
  • Invest in clean air policies.
  • Take essential utilities back into public ownership and invest in clean water.
  • Provide free breakfast and lunches for qualifying children and financial support for food banks as a short-term fix for the food poverty/health crisis.
  • Address the issue of food security.
  • Reduce the time scale for achieving net zero, invest to end the dependence on fossil fuels .
  • Embrace the Green revolution and put government investment and state ownership at its heart.

Safety needs

A Maslow government will:

  • Overhaul the National Health Service, to include salaries, procurement, dentistry and the care home sector.
  • Provide funding for local authorities to build a portfolio of social housing.
  • Cap rental charges on domestic housing and compulsory purchase those rental properties that are not maintained to a specified standard.
  • Expedite the work needed on public and private buildings affected by RAAC and combustible cladding to make them safe.
  • Restore funding to local authorities for those statutory services that have suffered under austerity.

Love and belonging

A Maslow government will:

  • Create legal routes for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Streamline the immigration backlog and allow asylum seekers to enter the job market.
  • Support local councils in the provision of leisure facilities, meeting venues and youth clubs.

Esteem needs

A Maslow government will:

  • Overhaul the fabric, facilities and budgets of every state school in the country.
  • Overhaul the prison service, to include accommodation, recruitment and training of officers, support of prisoners and overhaul of the probation system.
  • Address the issue of secure, sustainable employment.
  • Restore staffing and salary levels in the civil service.

We need to recognize that AI will be replacing more and more traditional jobs. The spectre of automation-induced mass unemployment has been growing slowly, but been kicked into the long grass by successive governments, and not just in this country. The only feasible solution must be a social one, therefore this must be a cross-party project involving welfare support for the transition, job-sharing, shorter working weeks and a universal basic income to allow people to live independently and with dignity.

Robot Waiter on St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, photo by Lynda Porter. When the novelty wears off, the reality will kick in!


A Maslow government will:

  • Increase the diversity and provision of evening and day classes to meet the needs of a work force with increased leisure time.
  • Support UK arts generally but also negotiate with the EU to allow UK musicians and creative professionals the freedom to travel and work across the EU.
  • Address those aspects of Brexit that have damaged our country and explore remedial measures.
  • Restore pride in our nation by reviewing the legislation of recent years and repealing those laws that diminish our country and our reputation in the world.


Before addressing the inevitable question: ‘How will you fund all this?’ we offer a list of reasons why we cannot afford not to do so.

  • Almost all our public services are in a parlous state, whether through inadequate funding, poor management or both.
  • In many, not all, cases of privatisation the over-generous pay packages and dividend payments have compromised investment and good management. This approach is deemed to have failed.
  • Public sector pay has not kept up with inflation. Paying a decent wage is not only the right thing to do but will increase morale and put more money into the economy.
  • The level of poverty in this country is a source of shame. In 2010 41,000 people used emergency food banks. In 2023 it was almost 3 million. Paying decent wages will bring families out of poverty and end dependence on food banks.
  • Developing a green economy is essential for reducing dependence on fossil fuel, will provide jobs, and will mean the UK does not lag further behind other countries in this field.
  • Many years of austerity have forced local authorities to make savings by cutting jobs. This has resulted in low morale, poor service and failure to meet statutory obligations.


Investment in people, investment in infrastructure and, crucially, growth, all require funding. Getting the process started will involve a combination of taxation, quantitative easing (QE) and private investment. Successive governments have shied away from overt taxation, but the parlous state of our services is bringing about a change in attitude. Tax should be levied on the basis of ability to pay. Threats of high earners leaving the country and taking their wealth with them have never materialised in the past; indeed these are the very people who benefit most from a nation’s growth. Some have even formed a lobby group offering to pay more tax! QE for public sector funding is justified; if used wisely it stimulates growth and puts money back into the economy.

Once the funding cycle has been kick-started, the country will grow from strength to strength – under a Maslow government!

What would you put in your Maslow Manifesto?