Jon Bloomfield https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/21558/all cached version 14/12/2018 22:23:13 en Birmingham and the emergence of inter-marriage https://www.opendemocracy.net/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-and-emergence-of-inter-marriage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The last of four excerpts from the forthcoming ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’: on the emergence of live and let live.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Hands1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Hands1.jpeg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hands. Psychology Today. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the forthcoming book, ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’, crowdfunded by Unbound, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8">Jon Bloomfield has interviewed fifty migrants to Birmingham</a> from all walks of life: a mix of first and second generation; men and women; from Ireland to India, Pakistan to Poland, the Caribbean to Somalia who talk frankly and with humour about their experiences both at work and in society more generally. In this last of four extracts, from the chapter on</em><strong> ‘</strong>Sex, Love and Marriage’<em>: he searches for the life beyond peaceful co-existence in the shift towards inter-marriage. </em></p> <p>There has been a live and let live ambience in the city for several decades. People have not necessarily been getting on like a house on fire but they have got by and learned to accept and at times respect one and other. To draw a Cold War analogy, for most of the time there has been peaceful co-existence, with various efforts to create a more harmonious and equal city, interrupted by the odd flare up.</p> <p>Inter-marriage and mixed relationships crossing ethnic and religious boundaries are one key indication of the extent of more far-reaching integration. It is a powerful sign at the grass roots of moving beyond passive co-existence, since nobody is forcing these relationships. Indeed, the reverse, the strength of passion, feeling and commitment outweighs the strong community, religious and family resistance that mixed couples often have to confront. <span class="mag-quote-center">Survey data reveals that part of the break from traditional conservatism on social and sexual mores has been a notable shift in attitudes towards inter-marriage.</span></p> <p>Survey data reveals that part of the break from traditional conservatism on social and sexual mores has been a notable shift in attitudes towards inter-marriage. In the mid 1980s, a British Social Attitudes survey showed 50% of the public were against marriage across ethnic lines. The figure dropped to 40% in the 1990s and now stands at 15%. One in four of the over-65s still say that they would be uncomfortable about a child or grandchild marrying somebody from a different race, but that falls to one in twenty of those under 25.&nbsp; </p><p>This is not just a bland answer given to opinion pollsters. These trends are evident on the streets and in the households of Birmingham.&nbsp; The 2011 Census records nearly 25,000 households composed of whites and black Caribbeans; over 3,000 households of whites and black Africans; over 11,000 white and Asian households and 8,500 of other mixed backgrounds.&nbsp; In total, around 5% of the city’s households are of mixed heritage. This trend is directly affecting the lives of many migrants and their families in the city. </p> <p>The grip of religion and race on Irish and West Indian migrants appears to have weakened most. Peggy says that it was not important to her, whether her children married Catholics or not. Two of them have, two of them haven’t. Her eldest married a girl who didn’t have any religion. </p> <blockquote><p>“People from all parts of the world have married into my family. I have my grandson who has married a girl who already had a black child. He calls me granny. He loves me; I love him. I don’t treat him any different from anyone else in the family. To me everybody is the same. If you’re a black fella and you bleed, what colour is your blood?”</p></blockquote> <p>Chris was brought up as a Catholic, baptised and went to Communion but is no longer practising. His parents were aware that bringing up children in a different country meant there would be different influences on them and that they had to respect the choices that could be made by a younger generation. This was especially the case with regards to relationships. On the question of marrying a Catholic, he is adamant.</p> <blockquote><p>“No, no no. It was never on the cards. There was no overt pressure whatsoever. Whoever you become friends with there was always a welcome… my parents would rather see and meet who me and my brother were socialising with rather than us hiding from them.”&nbsp; </p></blockquote> <p>It is happening among the new Polish migrants too. Mila tells me that her husband’s sister, where they lodged when they first arrived in England, is married to an Indian Christian who works at the Deutsche Bank. ”I have got no problem with that.” </p> <p>Sam was brought up in a strict Pentecostal household with eight brothers and sisters. He recalls his first white girl friend, Sarah, a wonderful woman with whom he was smitten. He remembers being terrified to tell his father that he had a white girlfriend.&nbsp; His Dad – a minister in the church – surprised him by asking ‘do you love her?’&nbsp; Sam said, he didn’t know and his Dad said, ‘well, you need to figure it out. That is what is most important, son.’</p> <p>In his varied life Sam has gone out with black, white and Asian women. Mo is similar. While brought up as a Methodist and attending Sunday school in his youth, Mo is not religious at all. Unmarried, he emphasises that going out with people from the same background or religion is not important to him at all.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><p>“I’m a committed heterosexual and let’s face it at the end of the day I have always been brought up on the idea that if you are over 18 and consenting, you can do whatever you want - inside the law. People can settle with anybody that they want to settle with. I am not too worried about what anybody thinks. My parents are from a different generation.”</p></blockquote> <p>David is married to a white woman and has three children. He too had been brought up as a Methodist and went to Sunday school until he was fourteen. He has been married twice, both times to white women and experienced no resistance of any kind from either his parents or relatives. He thinks the prevalence of more mixed relationships among people from the Caribbean compared to other migrant groups is historical.</p> <blockquote><p>“My perception is that the Caribbean upbringing, the way I behave and believe comes more from Europe. Just the whole idea of choice… There is not a tradition that you just do what your parents want you to do. Not doing what your parents want you to do, does not carry a Caribbean stigma. Because you have a free choice.&nbsp; There is far less of an African tradition to shape the structure of the family. This distinction between some African communities and the Caribbean helps to explain why there has been less resistance to inter-marriage.”</p></blockquote> <p>Certainly, this chimes with Ben’s experience, for it is the pressure of this African tradition that was a key factor in his decision to stay in Birmingham after completing his PhD rather than return to Nigeria. He feels that background or religion should not be decisive regarding&nbsp; who becomes his life partner. He goes out with people from a range of backgrounds. However, he has to carry the expectations of his family. They are more conservative. They feel they should know very well the background of the person Ben marries, which basically means Ibos. That is their take on life.</p> <blockquote><p>“I don’t agree with limiting people’s choice of association based on religion or ethnicity. I will not do that. I don’t approve of that. My parents know that.&nbsp; We had had lots of discussions on this topic which is why I know they are so conservative. So I will just have to deal with that. If I met a soul mate here right now, then I would go ahead and marry her. It is an issue that would have to be confronted. This is real life. It is one of those difficult issues.” </p></blockquote><p><span class="mag-quote-center">The issue of ‘marrying out’ arouses far greater passions, fears and traumas within Asian communities. For some it is a cultural preference; for others it is a religious diktat. </span></p> <p>While there is a widening acceptance of the inevitable decline of the arranged marriage tradition, the issue of ‘marrying out’ arouses far greater passions, fears and traumas within Asian communities. For some it is a cultural preference; for others it is a religious diktat. </p> <p>Two second generation mothers of Sikh background clearly see it as a cultural preference. Who Sukki’s daughters go out with, she says, is up to them. Within families, the children of the next generation have started to get married and generally it tends to be within the same cultural background. The kids are aware that ideally their parents would prefer this, purely because then the families have more in common. That is not to say that there are not interracial marriages. Her relaxed tone comes through when she says,</p> <blockquote><p>“Some of the children have had mixed marriages. You know, you only live once so it is whatever works out really.”</p></blockquote> <p>Mandeep has talked it over with her oldest daughter. </p> <blockquote><p>“We would prefer it if she goes out with boys from her own background. You are more likely to get on with people from a similar background but if she fell in love with someone from a different background then I’ll have to accept it.”</p></blockquote> <p>Pam, the shopkeeper, believes in the universal values of Sikhism. His outlook is clear. </p> <blockquote><p>“My children are humans, they can marry any human that they choose. They will not be forced. That is an issue for them to decide, not for you to arrange.”</p></blockquote> <p>For the accountant Raj, it is still important that the kids his children marry are at least Asian/Indian. Being an Indian is important, whether they are Hindu or Sikh. </p> <blockquote><p>“Me and my wife, we were brought up that we should be marrying within our caste. I am definitely relaxed about the caste business but definitely not on marrying Muslim, English or black people…our preference is definitely that it should be Indian.”</p></blockquote> <p>They accept that there are more mixed relationships happening and amongst people he knows. He gives the example of his wife’s sister in law, where her two sisters are both married to white guys. In his relaxed, laid-back style Raj just says, ‘look, this is our preference. We would be very disappointed but we would not disown them or anything.’</p> <p>Amongst Muslims, whilst the picture is differentiated, the inhibitions and resistance are definitely stronger. There may be growing acceptance of change with regard to arranged marriage but for many, inter-marriage is a step too far. As Kalsoom expresses it, </p> <blockquote><p>“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t be very happy about it. I would like them to marry Muslims. Mingling or friendships OK, but ladies don’t do that. I know it is happening but religiously it is wrong. That is where the religion comes in. It is <em>haram. </em>Islam is a total way of life.&nbsp; If you study properly you will find answers to all the issues in life. So mingling with different people as a friend – that is fine but when it comes to men and women, boys and girls mixing with each other for that purpose or as boy-friend and girl-friend then that is where I am still very old fashioned. I don’t agree with that because I think for one woman and one man you don’t have to go through all these experiences with the different people.” </p></blockquote> <p>It is hard to explain she says, as she chuckles and gives herself a rueful smile. She then admits that her eldest son is married to a non-Muslim, a Spanish Catholic whom she gets on well with. She would have preferred that he marry a Muslim girl who is more aware of his culture but if he chooses her as his life partner and he gets on with her, then she is prepared to go along with it.</p> <blockquote><p>“I was hoping that as she sees the culture and studies it, she would become a Muslim but I don’t think that she should change her religion just for the sake of marriage. That would have been just for show. Now they have two sons and I am not sure what religion they will have as they grow up. Deep inside, no matter how I try to be broad-minded, I wish that his family grow up as a Muslim, as a faith. And believing in one God.”&nbsp; </p></blockquote> <p>There is anguish and pain etched across her face as she explains the dilemma that she feels. Yet, at the same time she has the humanity to acknowledge that her daughter-in-law is a very good mother and wife and that she couldn’t hope for anyone better from the Muslim religion.</p> <p>Zahida takes a harder line. Like Kalsoom, she went on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s and returned much more devout. On inter-marriage, she has explained to her children that they shouldn’t be doing it but if they do, she then asks whether the partner is happy enough to become a Muslim. This is what happened with her own daughter. The person she married was a Sikh. He converted as Zahida wanted but she feels it was for the sake of getting married, not for the religion. </p><blockquote><p>“It really hurts a lot. I do meet her but the way she has rebelled against my religion, it just hurts me. He is a good person, she is very happy with him. They have a three year old son. But it hasn’t been done for the right reasons. The actual practice is not there.” </p></blockquote> <p>Yet she is quite clear what would have happened if he had not converted. </p> <blockquote><p>“Then I wouldn’t be meeting my children. They have to separate from me. I am such a person that if I can give up everything for the religion, then why can’t I leave my children behind as well?”</p></blockquote> <p>The contrast with Rashda, who hasn’t gone on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, is quite stark. To her, the question of inter-marriage is not that important. Originally, when her eldest son asked her she said she would love him to marry a Muslim because there would be no complications for the children. He said ‘OK, he would marry an Egyptian.’ She said no, she wanted them to be Pakistani, and he said, ‘so the culture is important too.’ Rashda realised from this and later conversations that she would have to change.</p> <blockquote><p>“I have grown up as well now. To me what is important is that they are happy, that the person is nice. It doesn’t matter who the person is. He had an Indian girlfriend and he now has two children with a Chinese woman. He doesn’t believe in marriage.“</p></blockquote> <p>Her three sons get on well with the Chinese daughter in law and Rashda does too. She sees the happiness of her children as the most important. </p><p>Many migrant households are grappling with these issues of tradition, religion and modernity. Ashraf’s family come from rural Mirpur. He lives across the road from his mother; two brothers live in the same street; and all eight of his siblings still live locally.&nbsp; Yet his family’s horizons are gradually widening. His sister recently got married to a Muslim from Morocco. They have moved beyond the thinking of their parents. He is very clear about the tensions between his heritage and the realities of the modern world.</p> <blockquote><p>“We are trying to juggle our Pakistani traditions and religion - two different things – and also trying to be part of a society where our children are happy. We have moved the acceptance level threshold so far but there are boundaries…&nbsp; I am a bit more open-minded and secular than my wife. She, as a strong believer, would like to see our children marry other Muslims, preferably Pakistanis but there is no real rule. The key focus for us is that as long as they are happy.”&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <p class="mag-quote-center">It has now become most important for her to find the right person, irrespective of their religion, if any, or skin colour, to marry someone who has the same values as well.</p><p>For other Muslims, these boundaries are more fluid and the rigidities of orthodox religion more open to question.&nbsp; Zubeda comes from a Muslim household where five of her siblings have chosen to marry people from a similar background. She is not married herself and has changed her mind on the question. It has now become most important for her to find the right person, irrespective of their religion, if any, or skin colour, to marry someone who has the same values as well. She gets on well with her mum and dad and respects them but this is sensitive territory. When asked whether she has discussed this with her parents, she lowers her eyes, hesitates and says, ‘Er, no.’</p> <p>Ozlem had to tell her parents back in Turkey that she was going to marry an English guy. She sees herself as more of a spiritual Muslim who met her husband while working in Birmingham. Her parents were not happy when she first told them. It seemed like an alien idea to them. Her four sisters were OK with the idea. They were liberal like Ozlem but her mum was worried, especially about what her dad would say and what others in the community would think. They were shocked first of all but once they met her husband and realised there was no other way, then they accepted it and have got on well with him. Ozlem is very content in her mixed marriage. She is a non-practising Muslim. She feels that the religion is a part of her at a spiritual level helping her to believe in Allah and the goodness of humanity. Her husband is an atheist; they talk to their son about their different outlooks but make sure that they impose nothing on him.&nbsp; </p> <p>Then there are those brought up within the Muslim faith and the Pakistani heritage community who reject the impositions of this traditional world. Samera likes the freedom that being brought up in the UK offers and she makes full use of it.&nbsp; A single woman in her late 30s, she enjoys her work in the Bull Ring, lives at home and is happy to be part of a family, as she says ‘a bit like the Greeks and Italians do it.’ She is pragmatic enough to acknowledge that it helps with her living costs. She doesn’t have or want any children. She doesn’t wear a headscarf in the day, only putting one on when she goes to the mosque, as a sign of respect. She likes to wear jeans and T shirts but doesn’t wear short skirts. But on men, she is clear: who she goes out with is her business and no-one else’s. </p> <blockquote><p>“I like it in this country that I am free to do what I want. I go out with Italian men. That’s who I like. I went out for quite some time with an Italian guy. He was a Catholic. My friend, she goes out with black men. You should be able to go out with who you like.”</p></blockquote> <p>She only takes boys home when it is serious as she did with her Italian ex-partner. Otherwise, she goes round to their place. She is clear that there is a problem with many men in her community.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">"They tell me if I don’t marry I’ll go to hell and I say, if you don’t marry, will you go to hell too?”</span></p> <blockquote><p>“You’ll get a different view from Muslim men. Too many of them want to keep women in their place. They tell me if I don’t marry I’ll go to hell and I say, if you don’t marry, will you go to hell too?”</p></blockquote> <p>The sexual and relationship kaleidoscope within the city is shifting, affecting all migrant communities.&nbsp; There aren’t too many like Sam or Samera, but they are not alone. Some want to hold back these tides of change but the forces making for a more open society and wider choices are winning out. A Saturday visit to the humming, mixed crowds at the Bull Ring shopping centre or the Star City cinema complex bears witness to the transitions underway. Wing Yip, the global businessman, sees the inevitability of mixing and inter-cultural relationships. &nbsp;He has got one daughter who has married an Englishman, who comes from a Warwickshire farming family; he also has two nieces who married locally. </p> <blockquote><p>“That is inevitable. Put it this way. In America they are called ‘banana’ – outside yellow, inside white. It is not an abusive term. Born here they have more in common with local people as they are. In a globalising world this is just a matter of time.”</p></blockquote> <p>How long, is a question of politics, culture and religion. This will not be a smooth linear process, an upward curve of gradual, molecular integration as the power of sexual attraction overcomes the fear of ‘the other’ and the pull of tradition and religion. </p> <p>The growing social split with regard to religion will be a key factor. In the three decades until 2012 the proportion of those surveyed in the general population claiming no religion had risen from less than one-third to almost a half.&nbsp; Regular religious attendance continues to fall. The influence of religion is declining in a number of migrant communities such as the Catholic Irish and Afro Caribbean but, in stark contrast, its hold is growing amongst Muslims, for reasons explained in the previous chapter. This linkage of the Muslim faith, with personal identity and world politics is a powerful combination, which the government and religious organisations within Saudi Arabia actively promote within Sunni Muslim communities in Europe. The mass pilgrimages to Mecca serve as a strong reinforcement of the most fundamentalist sentiments within Islam, as a number of the interviewees have shown. The stricter the religious interpretation of Islam, the harder it is to inter-marry. The injunction that in a mixed marriage the non-Muslim has to convert is a particular barrier<strong> </strong>which cuts across a ‘live and let live’ philosophy and helps to explain why white Britons have much stronger concerns about intermarriage with Muslims than with other blacks or Asians. This is a touchy topic for others too. Pam, as a Sikh, recalls that he explained to his daughter that if she wanted to marry a Muslim and that he wanted to marry her for what she is, that is fine. But if he wants to marry in order to convert her, it means he doesn’t love her for what she is.&nbsp; Forcing you to change your religion is what he sees as dangerous. <span class="mag-quote-center">The cross-section of views outlined here shows the diversity of opinion that exists on the ground in Birmingham between fundamentalist and more liberal strands of opinion. That tension exists within all religions.</span></p> <p>This is an on-going tussle within Islam. The cross-section of views outlined here shows the diversity of opinion that exists on the ground in Birmingham between fundamentalist and more liberal strands of opinion. That tension exists within all religions, as illustrated by the experiences of the Catholic church over the last three decades. The extent to which those strands of opinion most prepared to accommodate to the realities of a twenty first century world – above all in respect of recognising other faiths, women’s rights and sexuality – come to predominate within all religions will be crucial in determining the pace of integration within our societies. Here, the big cities are the harbingers of the future. In Birmingham, the dominant temperament remains one of live and let live. There are those of a fundamentalist disposition on social and religious as well as political issues but Raj captures the prevailing mood with his cryptic observation,</p> <blockquote><p>“Of course, inter-marriage is happening. Like I said our preference is for our kids to marry Indians. But where inter-marriage does happen, we are not going to be Taliban about it.”</p></blockquote><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Help fund on Unbound: ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’.</p><p>Jon Bloomfield on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8">interviewing fifty migrants to Birmingham</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-better-city-and-stronger-economy">Birmingham: a better city and a stronger economy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-and-doing-work-nobody-else-wants-to-do">Birmingham and doing the work nobody else wants to do</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Civil society Culture International politics Jon Bloomfield Thu, 11 Jan 2018 07:50:40 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 115568 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Birmingham: educating the kids https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-educating-kids <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The third excerpt from the forthcoming ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’: on how to get a supplementary school up and running and why.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Birmingham_skyline_from_the_train_in_Digbeth_(4775108742).jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1024px-Birmingham_skyline_from_the_train_in_Digbeth_(4775108742).jpeg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mobile shot of the Birmingham skyline from the train heading into Birmingham Moor Street, passing Digbeth. Wikicommons/ Elliott Brown. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the forthcoming book, ‘</em><a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a><em>’, crowdfunded by Unbound, </em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8"><em>Jon Bloomfield has interviewed fifty migrants to Birmingham</em></a><em> from all walks of life: a mix of first and second generation; men and women; from Ireland to India, Pakistan to Poland, the Caribbean to Somalia who talk frankly and with humour about their experiences both at work and in society more generally. In this third extract, he looks into efforts to preserve a cultural inheritance in a new and diverse context.</em></p> <p>‘It looked like a war-zone’ says Mila as she recalls the first time she went to the Saturday school run in the Polish community centre at the top of Digbeth. There were five different classes all taking place within one large room. The whole show was a bit of a shambles. The sharp increase in the number of Polish families in the city after 2004 had caught the long-standing Polish Saturday school –&nbsp;set up after the Second World War by the city’s émigré community – wholly unprepared. Mrs. Wyszynska had been running the school for a long time and she was in poor health. The numbers fluctuated as parents came and went which was difficult for the education of the pupils; the Polish club was not so open to the changes needed; and there were problems with the insurance. Mila stayed and began teaching Polish for GCSE classes. She quickly became involved running the school. It soon became clear that Mrs. Wyszynska wanted to pass the baton onto her.</p> <p>Mila was born in Koszalin, a town near the coast of northern Poland. She took a degree in theology followed by postgraduate study in Warsaw. She is an expert on Augustine and ‘The City of God.’ She met Mariusz at university; got married in 2002; and had her first son Stanislaw – Stas – in 2003. There were limited prospects for them in Poland; Mila’s sister had been living in Coleshill since the opening of the labour market in 2004; Mariusz’ cousin too; and they told them it would be easy to settle even though they had a three year old son. Sure enough Mariusz, who had studied mechanical engineering before turning to theology, landed a job on his first day through an agency. He quickly progressed through various construction jobs and for the past three years has worked for Murphys as a painting inspector on major construction works. </p> <p>It took Mila a little longer, having first to sort out nursery arrangements for Stas, but she got asked to help with a disabled child and from there became an integration assistant supporting autistic children, mainly on a one-one basis. It is work that she both enjoys and that fits in well with her children. However, she had not made the journey to Britain just to sit around and enjoy the delights of suburban Coleshill. The school required a shake-up; the growing Polish community wanted a thriving educational and cultural centre; she set about securing it.</p> <p>The school needed a larger, more purpose-built venue. Mila sent letters to fifty schools asking for help. After lots of negative responses she struck lucky.&nbsp; A former pupil of the Polish school worked at the Bishop Walsh secondary school in Sutton Coldfield and had got a positive response from the management, plus the agreement of the caretaker. When they eventually moved in 2011 they were down to just seventy pupils in five classes. Since then with both better conditions and bigger capacity, the school has grown so that altogether&nbsp; it now has 325 pupils coming from all parts of Birmingham and beyond. It runs ten classes, with up to thirty pupils in the younger classes. About ten to fifteen pupils take GCSE Polish each year but only those who get an A grade can stay to do A level because that is much harder and needs more work from the teachers. In total, the school engages fourteen teachers and half a dozen teaching assistants. The teachers are not paid; they just get expenses for their books and resources but Mila has found plenty of teachers around who are quite happy to support the school in this way.</p> <p>Mila put the school on a more formal footing with a Constitution and has involved parents more with its organisation. Parents have become members of the Association.&nbsp; They have a small board of unpaid volunteer trustees which meets regularly, normally once a month and runs occasional fund-raising events. Mila is currently the chair of Trustees, having previously been the head teacher. </p> <p>However, the focus is not just on GCSEs. The school is a cultural body. It is a charity organisation registered with the Charity Commissioners. Parents pay a fee of £15 a month and the school’s constitution states that it wants to advance education in Polish language, history, geography and culture and retain Catholic values. She stresses that part of its Catholic values is to be open to people of all religions and races. </p> <blockquote><p>“We are not a closed community. This is why we are doing all this. We want our children to understand where they come from and not to get lost in a diverse society, also religiously diverse and to be open. As long as you understand you can be open. If you don’t understand, you get narrow and that is where the hatred arises.” </p></blockquote> <p>Mila knows the Birmingham Polish Saturday school has come a long way. She admits that she used to always be jealous when she looked at other supplementary schools – Muslim, Chinese – in the way that they could stay together and support each other. Originally, they were not like that. They had too many problems. But now the parents find it really relaxing to be together and to talk in Polish. At home many speak in English with the children. But they want their children to learn Polish so they can speak with their grandparents. The bulk of the parents are in working class jobs but they welcome the opportunity for their kids to learn. Dariusz and Magda don’t just send their son to the Polish Saturday school, they also pay for him to have extra English lessons at the Kumon Initiative. He goes once a week and he improves his spelling, writing and reading. “He is now on the gold book at the school” they proudly tell me.</p> <p>This commitment to supplementary schools is evident among other migrant communities in the city, especially where there is a combined link to retaining knowledge of a language and religion. Wing Yip’s Birmingham store donates to both the local Birmingham Chinese supplementary schools, one organised by Chinese themselves and the other linked to the Church of England. On Sunday his grandchildren go there and learn to read Chinese and understand the signs. The children go for four hours; they learn a bit of language and culture; and meet other Chinese boys and girls.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Picture14.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Picture14.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mingham Modern Chinese Language School (MMCLS), established by groups of Chinese volunteers and parents, is a non-profit supplementary school in Birmingham.</span></span></span>The devout Muslim commitment is more substantial. Zubeda’s mother was the driver on education. She and her brothers and sisters went to the madrassa from when she was four. They learnt Urdu and Arabic as well as the Koran. The madrassa focussed on the religious heritage and being a good person, but in those days there was nothing about politics. Hasan’s two children go to the mosque for two hours every evening where they learn a whole range of topics: the Koran; Arabic; history; morals and character, their Islamic application and how you deal with important issues. His wife’s cousin runs it in Aston. Compared to Hasan’s own experience when he was growing up, today’s supplementary schools are very different: they run course modules; teachers speak English whereas when he went it was mainly in Urdu; and generally they are now much more professional. The extent to which there is a more ideological tenor to the scholarship remains an area of dispute.<strong> </strong></p> <p>However, even Rehman and his wife who are not religious have a tutor who comes to their home once a week so that their children can learn the Koran. All his older sons now know it. He insists that he is not pressuring them but it means they have learned about their religion. </p> <blockquote><p>“It was particularly my wife. She didn’t want them to forget these things.”</p></blockquote> <p>I am reminded of my own strongly atheist dad. He agreed to me going to Hebrew classes for three hours every Sunday morning and being bah’mitzvah’d at the age of thirteen. The night before the ceremony he accompanied me to the synagogue – the first time I had known him go there – to meet the Reverend and sort out the arrangements for the next morning. Once that had been sorted, he starts a discussion with the reverend and before I know it he is telling the guy why he doesn’t believe in God. My sweaty palm pulled ever stronger on his hand as the discussion continued. As we were walking home, I said to him that I didn’t understand, why was I going through all this palaver and effort if he didn’t believe in any of it. ’Jonny, it’s important you understand your culture, where you come from’, he replied.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-better-city-and-stronger-economy">Birmingham: a better city and a stronger economy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-and-doing-work-nobody-else-wants-to-do">Birmingham and doing the work nobody else wants to do</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Jon Bloomfield Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:45:07 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 115567 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Birmingham and doing the work nobody else wants to do https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-and-doing-work-nobody-else-wants-to-do <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The second of four excerpts from the forthcoming ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’: on the 3D jobs: dirty, dull or difficult.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Fort_Dunlop_under_development.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Fort_Dunlop_under_development.jpeg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fort Dunlop tyre factory, Birmingham, under development into a hotel and offices, 2006. Wikicommons/Oosoom. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span><em>In the forthcoming book, ‘</em><a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a><em>’, crowdfunded by Unbound, </em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8"><em>Jon Bloomfield has interviewed fifty migrants to Birmingham</em></a><em> from all walks of life: a mix of first and second generation; men and women; from Ireland to India, Pakistan to Poland, the Caribbean to Somalia who talk frankly and with humour about their experiences both at work and in society more generally. In this second extract, he meets the migrants who,</em><em><em><span></span></em><em><span> <span>jostling with poorly-qualified locals</span></span></em>, work at </em><em><span>the low paid and casual jobs rife in the Birmingham area</span></em><em><span><span>.&nbsp;</span></span></em></p><p>Ashraf lives in a long line of red brick, narrow-fronted terraced houses.&nbsp; Tall and slim, we sip tea in his living room, where the front door opens straight out onto the pavement. There are a row of streets here that stretch in parallel lines down to the main road that slices its way through inner city Sparkbrook. </p> <p>This used to be the heart of manufacturing Birmingham. The former Birmingham Small Arms factory was based at the bottom of the road, which in turn became the main centre of motor-cycle production in the UK. Those days are long gone, along with most of the indigenous white working class that used to live in these Victorian terraces. Today, the owner occupied houses are full of people originating from the Indian sub-continent and their children, along with more recent arrivals from the Yemen and Somalia. A few Irish remain. Ashraf’s mother lives across the road from him, while two other brothers live further down the street. </p> <p>Ashraf’s parents came from the Mirpur area of Pakistan. His dad arrived in the 1960s and was employed as a steel worker in Sheffield and went back and forth to Pakistan. At the time lots of people were coming to the UK from Pakistan, many re-located because of the Mangla Dam, so his dad saw the chance to earn money and do better for his family. That was the reason for emigrating. He saved money on housing by living like many other migrants in shared accommodation. As soon as the night shift finished, they would swap beds with the day shift. House sharing meant a lot of mattresses on the floor. In 1977 his mother got her visa and the family settled in Sparkbrook. His father got a job at the Fort Dunlop tyre plant where his manufacturing career continued until he was made redundant in the mid-1980s. </p> <p>Ashraf was born in 1977 in Sparkbrook. &nbsp;He went to the local nursery, junior and secondary schools. His father died while he was still at school and he and his eight siblings were brought up alone by his mother. Education wasn’t the priority at the time amongst kids of his age unless the parents pushed you. His mother came from a rural, peasant background so there was no strong pressure on him to get on. He went to the local technical college but lasted only four months. </p> <p>The first generation of post-war migrants to Britain had played their part in Britain’s post-war manufacturing revival. Ashraf’s dad was one amongst many: he had worked in steel plants, foundries, brickworks and then a big tyre plant. The Thatcher era saw the wholesale demise of vast swathes of these manufacturing giants. From 1971 to 1984 Birmingham lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs. The era of stable, steady, semi-skilled manufacturing jobs in large plants and factories drew to a rapid close.&nbsp; Their sons and daughters either looked to the white collar service sector for jobs, which usually required some examination qualifications or else they applied for the 3D jobs: the dirty, the dull or the difficult, the type of jobs that nobody else was that keen on doing.</p> <p>There have always been low paid and casual jobs in the economy. It is just that a more casualised, non-unionised, de-regulated economy generates more of them. They are a growing feature of twenty-first century Britain. Carers, cleaners, cooks; van drivers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers; fruit pickers and food processors; packers and shelf stackers; waiters and washer-uppers; security men, porters, warehouse staff: many often working long hours, usually at the minimum wage, sometimes with irregular shift patterns and increasingly on zero hours contracts.&nbsp; </p> <p>These jobs are rife within and around the Birmingham area. They require few qualifications, are relatively easy to access and often require only a short CV.&nbsp; In the city 17% of the working age population have no formal qualifications, the highest figure of all English major cities and way above the national average. These are the types of jobs where many migrants are to be found, jostling with poorly-qualified locals. This chapter looks at migrants’ experiences in a number of these areas. </p> <h2>Driving</h2> <p>The assured, steady manufacturing jobs of his father’s era had gone. Instead, Ashraf has had to find a series of 3D jobs in order to earn a living over the last twenty years. He started working as a labourer, followed by a stint as a lacquer sprayer. He did some packing where there was decent money, followed by security work at the Pallasades shopping centre in town. He then had seven years as a mini-cab driver which he liked but ‘was very, very flexible’ on hours. A spell of unemployment followed.&nbsp; He now works as a delivery driver for Asda.</p> <blockquote><p>“It’s good. I enjoy it, being out, no one watching you. The wage isn’t brilliant, it’s about £7 an hour but it’s about how comfortable you are in your job.&nbsp; If you don’t enjoy the work, it’s not worth it. As long as I can pay my mortgage and provide for my children, money doesn’t have a massive significance. I am not ever going to be a millionaire but I can support my family. I have regular hours and a set contract, which are two of the advantages of working for a larger, established company.“</p></blockquote> <p>His wife is careful with money; she’ll start looking for work soon once their youngest is at school. For the future he would like to be self-employed again. He likes being independent, so he is looking to start a small business but he won’t go straight into it. He’ll try to start slowly and build it up.</p> <p>Ajay had come to the Midlands from India. When his small clothing business failed he got a job at the Post Office as a casual worker. That was his foot in the door. After two years, he got a proper job with them at the main Mailbox sorting office in town. The work wasn’t too heavy. He was sorting parcels and letters. It wasn’t boring but it was relentless – lifting, checking and shifting with a manager looking over his shoulder all the time, supervising what he and the others were doing. The basic pay was low but he made it up with overtime. </p> <blockquote><p>“I did lots of overtime and shift work. On average I did twenty to twenty-five hours a week overtime. It was the way we made up our money. At the Post Office I usually worked sixty five hours a week. Sometimes a bit less, but from September to December I would often work double shifts.” </p></blockquote> <p>They moved workplace twice and both times he went with them. The office then moved again to Daventry, which would have involved a lot of commuting each day. Ajay felt this would be too much for him, especially after long shifts so, after fourteen years, he took early redundancy. He found a temporary job shifting goods in a big warehouse at Hams Hall on the edge of Birmingham and then found work as a driver for Ring and Ride as part of the Special Needs service provided by the West Midlands Transport. He did that from February 2004 for the next ten years until his retirement. Ring and Ride was a better job, as he found driving a bit easier and there was no manager looking over his shoulder. The pay wasn’t high – £250 a week by the time he finished – with no overtime. Looking back over forty-five years of work, once his clothing business had failed, he had done a series of manual jobs, none of them well paid, but he had grafted hard enough to look after and bring up his family and earned enough for him and his wife to now have their own house in one of Birmingham’s outer suburbs.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 20.45.04_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 20.45.04_0.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stratford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, 2006. </span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Help fund on Unbound: ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’.</p><p>Jon Bloomfield on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8">interviewing fifty migrants to Birmingham</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-better-city-and-stronger-economy">Birmingham: a better city and a stronger economy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-educating-kids">Birmingham: educating the kids</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Jon Bloomfield Tue, 09 Jan 2018 08:43:44 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 115566 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Birmingham: a better city and a stronger economy https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-better-city-and-stronger-economy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The first of four excerpts from the forthcoming ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’: on the move to white-collar jobs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Wikimedia_UK_AGM_2016_at_Impact_Hub_Birmingham,_July_2016_20.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Wikimedia_UK_AGM_2016_at_Impact_Hub_Birmingham,_July_2016_20.jpeg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Wikimedia UK AGM 2016 at Impact Hub Birmingham, July 2016. Wikicommons/ Jwslubbock. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>In</em><em> the forthcoming book, </em><em>‘</em><em><a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a></em><em>’, crowdfunded by Unbound, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8">Jon Bloomfield has interviewed fifty migrants to Birmingham</a> from all walks of life: a mix of first and second generation; men and women; from Ireland to India, Pakistan to Poland, the Caribbean to Somalia who talk frankly and with humour about their experiences both at work and in society more generally. In this first of four extracts, from the chapter on </em><em><span>Migrants social mobility: the move to white-collar jobs</span></em><em>, he delves into a small social enterprise company and the creation of the inter-cultural Impact Hub.</em></p><p>Zubeda<strong> </strong>works in the burgeoning social enterprise sector. Her dad came with her grandfather from Gujarat in the early 1960s to work in the textile mills. There was a call out from the British government for the work that white British people did not want to do. He was fourteen at the time. Her dad married at a young age and then her mum came. They moved around in the North of England and then settled in Bolton. </p> <p>Zubeda was born in 1975, one of seven children and grew up in an Indian area, a mix of Hindus and Muslims with just three or four white kids in the primary school. Her secondary school was more mixed and she encountered a huge amount of racism there but she did her GCSEs, A levels and then went to Manchester University for her degree followed by a masters in Middle Eastern studies. Of the seven children, five went to university. She had to go to Manchester because she wasn’t allowed to stay away from home. Her parents were quite explicit on this. Fortunately, her older sister had gone before her.</p> <blockquote><p>“Education had two advantages. It was the one way we could keep our parents happy and not get married. The Islamic texts say that the prophet encourages education and this was the one way to convince our parents to allow us to go to university.” </p></blockquote> <p>Then she came to Birmingham. She worked for the City Council in a number of different jobs on urban policy, in the Equalities Division, then was seconded to the West Midlands Police to help with the recruitment of community mentors where she created a regional mentoring programme. In 2013, she set up Connect Justice, a limited company and independent social enterprise designed to build trust between the police and ethnic minority communities. Zubeda emphasises that they are not a charity beholden to others, but rather an independent enterprise not reliant on grants. </p> <p>Over their first four years they have got the organisation off the ground with a voice and a presence in the extremism/radicalisation arena where they undertake a lot of their activity. She feels they have bridged the gap between minority communities and state agencies as they are not funded through the Home Office. </p> <p>To show their independence they list all their funders on the web-site. They are transparent. When they hold events with the Police, they stress that Connect Justice is not an agency of the government. They reach into parts others do not. When they ran an EU project, they had access to far right extremists as well as former Muslim extremists, as they did when they had a crowd funder and raised £8,500 to produce a video to hear the stories of former extremists. That gives them a distinct niche in their field. They are now looking to deliver on-line training for schools and others to work on radicalisation issues in ways that avoid the stigmatising impact of the government’s Prevent programme. They work across a range of equality issues. One of Connect Justice’s most recent pieces of work, <strong>‘</strong>A Tale of Three Cities<strong>’</strong><strong> </strong>addresses the responsiveness of major public institutions in three major cities – Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester – to the challenges of gender, race and disability. The findings make for uncomfortable reading, for while significant progress has been made on the gender agenda, progress on race and disability remains slow. As Zubeda says:</p> <blockquote><p>“There are big institutions in the city where diversity is not reflected in their organisations. Some of this is shocking.”</p></blockquote> <p>Yet she retains her optimism. Zubeda’s organisation is based on justice and civil rights, not on ethnicity. Her co-director is a white convert to Islam; her third director is a hard-core secularist. They want to avoid the divisiveness that treats minorities as homogenous blocs and pits one community against another. She believes there has been too much focus on ethnicity, giving money to people because of who they are rather than what they do or the issues they are tackling. </p> <p>Connect Justice explicitly allies itself to the wider Birmingham community, which is why they are based at <a href="https://birmingham.impacthub.net/">the Impact Hub social enterprise centre. </a></p> <h2><strong>Birmingham’s Impact Hub</strong></h2><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Wikimedia_UK_AGM_2016_at_Impact_Hub_Birmingham,_July_2016_8.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Wikimedia_UK_AGM_2016_at_Impact_Hub_Birmingham,_July_2016_8.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Wikicommons/ Jwslubbock. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></strong>The Hub is one example of where the ‘diversity advantage’ is favouring the city. As Aliyah, one of the support staff of Irish/Barbadian descent says, </p><blockquote><p>“This is definitely an inter-cultural space. All people come here. It is shared innovating space for the social good with a common ethos.” </p></blockquote> <p>The Hub hosts micro-businesses and social enterprises and is growing fast with members from all backgrounds drawn from Birmingham and surrounding areas. It is the brainchild of Immy, a young, second generation Indian Sikh woman, born and bred in Birmingham, whose first main job was with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in London.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><p>“London was the place to make it but I then found it was not the place that I thought it was going to be, so I came back to Birmingham and worked at Bromford Housing Association. I used it to find out about the realities of life in the city and then left it all to start my own entrepreneurial journey with the Impact Hub.”</p></blockquote> <p>Immy is short and slim, wears a head-scarf and is full of energy. She was <a href="https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/tedx-program">doing TEDX</a> and she met people who told her to use the TEDX group to build something new.</p> <blockquote><p>&nbsp;“I had never been pulled towards enterprise before but fell into it, running my own business.&nbsp; After the second TEDX I wrote a blog on the spirit and values of TEDX and what if we ran this every day, drawing on the civic strengths and talent of the city. We used a range of platforms, social media and events to develop the Hub momentum.&nbsp; In December 2014 we launched a crowd funding initiative and had an amazing campaign linked to building a better city. In thirty days we raised £65,000. And then the Barrow Cadbury foundation agreed to match us with £50,000. We fitted out the building by going out to the community and drawing on their support.”</p></blockquote> <p>This is a reflection of wider trends emerging across Europe. In the Netherlands there is a growing emergence of such initiatives which illustrate the potential of civic crowd funding not just as a fund-raising mechanism but also as a powerful tool to promote actions at the grass roots. <a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a></p> <p>The Hub has three main sources of income: membership; events where it hires out the rooms to organisations for meetings; and running its own programmes. For the first year, income was just over £200,000 and it was able to pay basic salaries to staff. The Hub has now got 160 members. Its focus stretches beyond social enterprises. As Immy explains it, </p> <blockquote><p>“We want to build a better city and a stronger economy and need to have all sorts at the table including big corporates, individual free-lancers, local institutions as well as social enterprises and the Big Lottery. We have companies like Grant Thornton who want to use this space. We see the Hub as a place to talk to a cross–section of organisations so that they can contribute to building a vibrant economy. That is why the Chamber of Commerce has a membership here too; they don’t need the space.”</p></blockquote> <p><a href="https://birmingham.impacthub.net/">The Hub </a>is based in the redbrick, renovated factory of a Victorian Birmingham manufacturer of marine instruments and is located close to the city centre in the old industrial quarter of Digbeth.&nbsp; This is the emerging creative nerve centre of the city. The Hub is just one of a string of venues that have taken root here over the last two decades including Maverick a burgeoning TV and media production company; Fazeley Studios with its 45 neatly designed offices aimed at creative and digital companies; and the Custard Factory – the former premises of Alfred Bird’s custard powder plant, now housing scores of micro-businesses and small NGOs. All these are clustered in Digbeth. </p> <p>The Hub is the conscious adaptation of an old industrial building to the needs of the new economy using European Structural Funds to promote social innovation and bring life to a dying quarter of the city. The onward march of automation poses a threat to a whole range of existing industrial and technical jobs. That’s why the renovation of places like this and the creation of new businesses and employment in growth sectors of the economy is crucial to the city’s future. </p> <p>With its strip lighting, high work benches, plywood tables and open plan workspace this is innovation easy style. Zubeda works here as does Sam and his health project team. He and others are grouped around the computer and worksheet discussing new projects. The white-board is littered with post-it notes. The extendable plug points drop from the ceiling so that the teams can connect to the ubiquitous portable computers that cover the tables. Relaxed, easy-going, youthful and inter-cultural: this is cosmopolitan hybridity, the open city at work and at ease with itself. It’s Birmingham’s answer to Shoreditch. The task is to replicate it across the city. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> See Aster van Tilburg. Civic Crowdfunding is not about money. Pp53-57 in a set of essays, Making Cities. Visions for an Urban Future.&nbsp; <a href="http://eurocities.eu/30visionsforcities">http://eurocities.eu/30visionsforcities</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Help fund on Unbound: ‘<a href="https://unbound.com/books/our-city/"><strong>Our City: Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham</strong></a>’.</p><p>Jon Bloomfield on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&amp;v=6k69_vPm6-8">interviewing fifty migrants to Birmingham</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-and-doing-work-nobody-else-wants-to-do">Birmingham and doing the work nobody else wants to do</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jon-bloomfield/birmingham-educating-kids">Birmingham: educating the kids</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk EU UK Jon Bloomfield Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:41:37 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 115529 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Dangerous road to divisive places https://www.opendemocracy.net/jon-bloomfield/dangerous-road-to-divisive-places <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of <em>The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics</em> by David Goodhart, London (2017).</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/32625380942_40cd3c6d00_h.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/32625380942_40cd3c6d00_h.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Marine Le Pen 2017, Au nom du peuple. (In the name of the people). Flickr/Richard Grandmorin. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span><a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-road-to-somewhere/">This book</a> is a difficult read. It is a mixture of selective facts and figures combined with data from opinion surveys and Goodhart’s own assertions and value judgements. At times the writing is elusive and hard to pin down. But in a fast-changing world where social democracy has lost its way, the book’s underlying narrative serves as a manifesto to deliver readers into the arms of the country’s nationalist Right. To those of a progressive and social democratic persuasion it is both dangerous and divisive.</p> <p>Goodhart asserts that the country is divided into three blocs: the Anywheres who went to university and have a broadly liberal individualistic outlook; the Somewheres who live close to their place of birth, did not go to university and have a sense of rootedness and identity that the Anywheres have lost; and the In-Betweeners. He asserts that the Somewheres represent broadly half the population and the other two a quarter each. He maintains that it is the Anywheres who have dominated British life for the last few decades, increasingly since the onset of the Blair government. Brexit represents the revolt of the Somewheres against this dominance. The In-Betweeners are referred to initially but then rarely get a look-in. For Goodhart the world is basically divided between the Anywheres, “the upper professional class” with their global world outlook and the Somewheres, with their preference for place, stability and nation. These are Britain’s ‘two value blocs’ and the book is a paean of praise for the preferences and prejudices of the Somewheres. </p> <p>There are many flaws with this story. Firstly, class. Goodhart generally avoids the term but his Somewheres are clearly the working class while those Anywheres who go to university are lumped together as “the upper professional class” even though this includes everyone from those who go on to do low grade office and administrative work through to hedge fund managers and senior executives. Apparently the three years at university are sufficiently formative to mould all these diverse people into one homogenous bloc with common values that inform and shape their future political outlook. Jesuits would be envious indeed of the influence of university Vice Chancellors, were it so. <span class="mag-quote-center">“the upper professional class”… includes everyone from those who go on to do low grade office and administrative work through to hedge fund managers and senior executives.</span></p> <p>Goodhart does concede that within this Anywhere grouping there is a subset of ‘Global Villagers’ who form around 3% of the total population and who constitute the key movers and shakers. Here he gets closer to the class realities of the twenty-first century world. Indeed, he makes some points not dissimilar to those made by the Occupy movement about the 1%.&nbsp; Yet there is no evidence to show that it is their university experience that shapes and informs ‘Davos man’. Was it crucial to the emergence of Rupert Murdoch, the most archetypal Global Villager that you could find and the most influential man in Britain, who merits not a single mention in Goodhart’s book? Or the Barclay Brothers, or Arron Banks? </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Brecqhou_-_Barclay_Brothers_Castle.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Brecqhou_-_Barclay_Brothers_Castle.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brecqhou - Barclay Brothers' Castle, 2009. Wikicommons. Public domain.</span></span></span>Secondly, Goodhart substitutes cod sociology for politics and in the process has constructed a false thesis. The last four decades have seen a <span>political</span> project of concerted neo-liberal globalisation initiated by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Goodhart rightly criticises some of Blair’s more outrageous hyper-globalisation rhetoric. But he fails to recognise neo-liberalism as an Establishment project – by the Global Villagers to use his term – designed to take advantage of the ICT revolution and the collapse of the USSR to create a new model of rampant, financial capitalism. <span class="mag-quote-center">The last four decades have seen a <span>political</span> project of concerted neo-liberal globalisation...&nbsp; accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.</span> Instead he lumps all progressives, liberals and professionals into what he terms this Anywhere agenda. He gives a list of measures that “go with the grain of Anywhere thinking” which range from no intervention in the UK on takeover deals by foreign companies; support for universities to raise their student fees to £9,000; and military intervention in Iraq.(page 225) This is completely absurd. These were all part of the neo-liberal world view. Their most ardent advocates were to be found in the editorial pages of our Brexit-supporting, national press, a point completely absent from Goodhart’s book. Didn’t Anywheres form part of the huge demonstrations of opposition to the Iraq war? Weren’t the Liberal Democrats punished by large numbers of ‘Anywhere’ voters at the 2015 election precisely because they had supported the imposition of huge increases in student fees? The Anywhere/Somewhere divide is a fake construct designed with a purpose, namely to suggest that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the working and professional classes. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Anywhere/Somewhere divide is a fake construct designed with a purpose, namely to suggest that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the working and professional classes.</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/5262039150_2a8cbfd6f7_z_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/5262039150_2a8cbfd6f7_z_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Student protests over fees, Parliament Square, 2010. Flickr/Bob Bob. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>This relates to Goodhart’s third flaw, that somehow there is an essential, unchanging bedrock of common sense, natural and patriotic values at the core of the working class, which Anywheres do not understand. Yet even Goodhart is forced to admit that there have been immense social changes over the last forty years in relation to gender, race and sexuality and that these have occurred across the whole class range. Goodhart tries to shoehorn this into his Anywhere/Somewhere prism (pp40-41) but the reality is that vast swathes of the population have shifted their attitudes over this period and that the crucial determinant has been age. Not surprisingly, the slowest rate of change has been amongst the oldest. </p> <p>These changes have come about partly through legislation but crucially through material changes in people’s daily existence, above all with the arrival of the contraceptive pill, a far more decisive change in the lives of most people than the development of mass higher education. The pill and easier divorce have changed the material circumstances of women’s lives, above all working class women; they have shifted their ‘common sense’ and ‘natural’ horizons. To Goodhart the 1960s are a cause of regret. “The arrival of the pill and easier abortion further separated sex from association with family and long-term commitment.” (p.193) and his policy recommendations reflect a wish to put key elements of the old order back in place so that men “have a family commitment to work.” (P.208.)</p> <p>Fourthly, Goodhart’s justified concerns about globalisation blind him to the economic realities of today’s world. He tries to find facts and figures to suggest that these trends are not that substantial. He is burying his head in the sand. With the emergence of the trans-national corporation, modern ICT, mass transport and the opening up of the old Communist blocs there has been a huge surge in cross-border commercial activity. Economics has leapt the boundaries of the nation state in all medium-sized and small countries. Up to 10,000 freight vehicles a day pass through Dover. Around 4.4 million lorry journeys are made between the EU and the UK each year. The UK forms part of an integrated single market economy, which is why those proposing a hard Brexit are being so reckless. Goodhart seems to find it hard to conceive that a person can recognise this, approve of European integration and yet still retain a national and local identity. Many of us have multiple identities and in an interdependent world these increasingly reflect reality. As the Green movement – largely ignored in this book – expresses it, ‘think global, act local.’ There is no gulf between the two. Most people can ‘walk and chew gum’ at the same time. <span class="mag-quote-center">The UK forms part of an integrated single market economy, which is why those proposing a hard Brexit are being so reckless.</span></p> <p>Many of the ills that his book addresses arise from the project of neo-liberal globalisation. Under Clinton and Blair’s influence much of European social democracy signed up for this hyper-globalisation model and are now suffering the consequences of their love affair with neo-liberalism. Yet Goodhart fails to see that there are a range of potential models of globalisation. If social democracy is to survive as a political force across Europe it has to connect with the inter-dependent realities of the modern world while applying the core values of liberty, equality and solidarity to them. That means a clear acknowledgement that New Labour’s infatuation with a neo-liberal model of globalisation including its attachment to unmanaged migration did profound harm to both social democracy as a political philosophy and to the traditional alliances between working class communities, the public sector and the liberal intelligentsia that formed the basis of its winning coalitions. Any social democratic project has to repair that damage. <span class="mag-quote-center">Any social democratic project has to repair that damage. </span></p> <p>There are multiple ways to reconnect social democracy with the working class and its diverse communities and display a genuine commitment to towns and localities. Goodhart suggests a few, notably on apprenticeships but fails to mention some obvious ones. Shedding the disdainful term ‘Old Labour’ would be a symbolic start. If you want to support policies that help working class and poor households then defend the Sure Start programme, a Labour achievement that goes unmentioned by Goodhart. He does not mention these vital community centres because basically he prefers women or grandmothers to look after the kids. Reverse the cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowances that allowed 16-18 year olds from poor households to stay on at technical college with a grant. Attack the concerted austerity drive of the Cameron government which removed the youth and community services that served tens of thousands of young people in deprived communities. Above all, stop the endless reductions in local authority budgets that mean that adult social care is pruned to the bone, that basic home help and care services are now outsourced with an increasing use of zero hour contracts and 15 minute visits. Since 2009-2010 it is local authorities in the poorest and most deprived parts of the country that have taken the biggest hit on austerity and the services that they provide to working class communities that have been undermined along with the professional pride of the care staff. Yet Goodhart makes no mention of this concerted austerity drive as it does not fit with his narrative. <span class="mag-quote-center">Since 2009-2010 it is local authorities in the poorest and most deprived parts of the country that have taken the biggest hit on austerity.</span></p> <p>Even where he makes sound arguments he fails to draw the obvious conclusions. He notes that Germany has a different model of capitalism; that workers are represented on the boards of its large companies; that organised labour has helped to slow de-industrialisation and retain a strong technical and vocational training ethos. But there is not a word about trade unions in Britain. He makes no proposal to reform the anti-trade union laws of the Thatcher era that Labour was too scared to challenge. Whenever one hears claims by politicians and commentators to be concerned about the working class there is one simple way to gauge whether they are genuine. Do they support the right of workers to combine together and join a trade union? Will they make it easier for workers in trade unions to gain official recognition from their employer? Will they remove those measures that restrict a union’s capacity to take action against their employer? If Goodhart genuinely wants to shift the balance of power within the economy to those with relatively little economic clout, then these are the steps that he would promote. These would challenge employers like Sports Direct and help workers to gain decent pay and conditions through their own actions. On this, he is silent. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Oxford_Street-_Sports_Direct_(33100203570)(1)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Oxford_Street-_Sports_Direct_(33100203570)(1)_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Oxford Street: Sports Direct, 2016. Wikicommons/Paul the Archivist. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Whenever one hears claims by politicians and commentators to be concerned about the working class there is one simple way to gauge whether they are genuine. Do they support the right of workers to combine together and join a trade union?</span></p> <p>Goodhart’s overriding flaw is to assume there is only one type of globalisation and that the only counter to it is nationalism. In this he follows the route of Trump and Le Pen. His ‘road to somewhere’ will end up in a similar place.&nbsp; This helps to explain why the author uses kid gloves in describing them. To readers who think that is a harsh judgement then the section on the hard Right should dispel any illusions. Most are “decent populists”, “populism is the new socialism”, “UKIP and the Front National have been dragged sharply to the left in recent years.”&nbsp; Then there is the genteel language used about Donald Trump. In some of his campaign speeches Trump did “nod towards” white America’s anti-black traditions. He ”joined in” the campaign about Barak Obama’s birthplace, whereas in fact he was its main advocate. “He is not a white supremacist” but he just appoints one – Steve Bannon – as his top adviser. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/7421294464_b977839763_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/7421294464_b977839763_k.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Meeting, May 1st, Front National, France, 2012. Flickr/Blandine de Cain. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">Goodhart’s overriding flaw is to assume there is only one type of globalisation and that the only counter to it is nationalism.</span></p> <p>Thus, it is not surprising that Goodhart proposes a reactionary policy menu built around traditionalist, socially conservative and nationalist policy themes unified around the scary Blue Labour slogan of ‘flag, faith and family’ with its eerie Nazi era echoes of ‘Kinder, Kuche, Kirche.’ Having demonised the progressive middle class, Goodhart cuddles up to “the decent populists.” A few years ago Goodhart described himself as ‘a social democrat.’ In this book he is ‘from the Radical centre.’ He is certainly on the road to somewhere. But it is not a destination that any progressive or social democrat should follow. I see Melanie Philipps and Arron Banks thumbing a lift on the road ahead.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-breaking-with-neo-liberalism">Responding to Brexit: breaking with neo-liberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/blue-labours-controversial-ideas-are-good-for-miliband-and-his-party">Blue Labour&#039;s controversial ideas are good for Miliband and his party</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/philippe-marli-re-antonis-galanopoulos/strange-death-of-social-democracy-in-europ">The strange death of social democracy in Europe</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics Jon Bloomfield Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:19:17 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 110067 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Responding to Brexit: breaking with neo-liberalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-breaking-with-neo-liberalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The last of this series discusses how the damage caused by traditional left and social democratic party embrace of neo-liberal models of globalisation can be repaired, and social democracy reframed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-26433861.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-26433861.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Eurogroup meeting. May 2016. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is talking with the Dutch Minister of Finance, President of the Council Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the Luxembourg Minister of Finance. Thierry Monasse/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the twentieth century the Left achieved social advances through the nation state. As Pascal Lamy expressed it when he was Head of the World Trade Organisation, “Historically, the success of social democracy was to promote a compromise between labour and capital, between the state and the market and between commercial competition and social solidarity. Globalisation has unhinged the balance by taking away all the domestic levers by which we maintained the compromise”<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a>&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">The task is to find new avenues for the social compromises that the left previously created.</span></p> <p>That is why talk about ‘building a new Britain’ or a ‘progressive economic nationalism’ (Colin Hines, Guardian letters 25 February) is so unrealistic; and why John McDonnell was unwise to speak about ‘the enormous opportunities’ of Brexit. Social democracy in one country is a non-starter in an interdependent world. With such an open economy, the UK trying to challenge international capital on its own would get nowhere. The fate that befell the Mitterrand government in France in the early 1980s should serve as a reminder to all those on the left who talk in such casual terms. The task is to find new avenues for the social compromises that the left previously created. Yet the articulation of a strategy that combines the national with the European has so far proved a step too far for all parts of the left. Over the past two decades it has been led up two cul de sacs. </p> <p>Firstly, for a brief moment in the 1990s with the world economy booming and the optimism of the ‘end of history’ moment, a benevolent globalization scenario seemed plausible, especially as overseen by two such fluent orators as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. As the Panglossian Peter Mandelson described it, “Globalisation offers all the best the world can offer. We must not sound as if we believe there is a tension between labour and capital, or competition and solidarity.”<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> Such utopian optimism and naiveté was starkly exposed by global crisis. <span class="mag-quote-center">The articulation of a strategy that combines the national with the European has so far proved a step too far for all parts of the left.</span></p> <p>But worse, by believing all issues of class to be old-fashioned, Third Way social democracy left the field wide open to others. What begun as a marketing ploy – New Labour – quickly turned its opposite – Old Labour – into a term of contempt. Blair and Brown thought the traditional working class Labour constituencies had nowhere else to go and so they left the field free to the nationalist, populist and racist Right to exploit the grievances of older working class communities and those left behind by globalisation. The adoption of Blairite approaches elsewhere combined with the collapse of the Communist parties in France and Italy has had the same result throughout. As the free movement of labour across Europe meant increased competition for manual labouring jobs and renewed pressure on housing, social and health services, the neo-liberal operation of the Single Market became a growing issue that the nationalist Right has been able to exploit. <span class="mag-quote-center">The adoption of Blairite approaches… combined with the collapse of the Communist parties in France and Italy has had the same result.</span></p> <p>Secondly, within the countries that adopted the Euro, this situation has been exacerbated by German ‘ordo-liberalism’ – the mind-set that has hegemonised the European economic policy debate. The ideological and budgetary straitjacket of ordo-liberalism was enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty and its consequences were revealed during the financial crisis with disastrous political results for social democratic parties across Europe.&nbsp; They have sleepwalked into disaster. </p> <p>Scared to embrace Keynesian economics, these parties have colluded with austerity.&nbsp; As a consequence, social democracy has disappeared as a force in Poland and Hungary where they followed these orthodoxies; been butchered in Spain, massacred in Greece and has been stagnating elsewhere across Europe. </p> <p>The policy has been absolutely lethal to the EU’s reputation for displaying competence and delivering economic prosperity. Yet this is the philosophy that currently pervades all the key EU institutions and policy-makers. And it still retains its grip on key parts of European social democracy.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a>&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">The historic question is whether European social democrats have the wit and energy to break from this straitjacket and work together with others to construct an alternative scenario for Europe.</span></p> <p>The historic question is whether European social democrats have the wit and energy to break from this straitjacket and work together with others to construct an alternative scenario for Europe. This is a task that requires the alignment and engagement of those far beyond the traditional forces of the Left and progressive movement. OpenDemocracy readers in the UK should be clear that this crisis is not a private affair of those within the Eurozone: it directly affects all those parties and movements wanting to shape Europe in a progressive direction. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24973007.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24973007.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Eurogroup meeting. December 2015. Greek Finance Minister Euklid Tsakalotos and Eurogroup President Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Wiktor Dabkowski/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>As if that weren't enough…</strong></h2> <p>Yet this transformation cannot occur in a twentieth century fashion. The world has moved on. How?</p> <p>Firstly, the developed world is more fragmented socially: technological change and automation has taken its toll of the industrial working class, one could even say it has dug its grave. The concentration of capital has continued but is now accompanied by the dispersal of labour. Workers in the pits, shipyards, steel plants and engineering factories no longer have the numerical and social weight to be the self-defining core of the labour and progressive movement.</p> <p>Secondly, the reality of climate change and the environmental crisis means that green development has to be a signature tune of any twenty-first century progressive movement. That demands a new approach to the use of resources, with policies that establish a new relationship with nature as a priority.</p> <p>Thirdly, gender and race will play a far greater role in progressive politics. The contraceptive revolution has transformed the life choices of women and the demands of an equality agenda in economic, social and cultural life will grow. Francois Fillon and Jarosław Kaczyński may try to turn the clock back but the moves for equality at work, in relationships and wider cultural life, go with the historic grain. The same applies on race. Newcomers have settled in Europe’s cities from all corners of the globe. They, their children and now in many cases their grandchildren are making their lives here. Despite the efforts of Farage, Le Pen and Wilders there is no going back. Yet how to successfully weave issues of gender and race into traditional class-based narratives remains unclear. <span class="mag-quote-center">Despite the efforts of Farage, Le Pen and Wilders there is no going back.</span></p> <p>Fourthly, the ICT revolution means that the previous top-down, hierarchical structures are tarnished in the eyes of many citizens. A naive eulogy to ‘bottom-up’ or ‘the grassroots’ is inadequate. Rather, there needs to be recognition of the inter-dependence of power between the different spheres of government – neighbourhood, city, regional, national and European – and a concomitant devolution and autonomy of governmental power. Complementary to this, there needs to be a far greater decentralisation of power and responsibility within organisations. To give one example, Scottish Labour can no longer be a ‘branch office’ of UK Labour. </p> <p>Finally, underpinning these changes is the reality that in Europe, economics has leapt the boundary of the nation state. The optimal economic area is now continental in scale. Perhaps Japan is a partial exception. In small and medium-sized states, all the main production processes rely on integrated supply chains operating across borders. On a recent 30 minute trip along the M6 in the Midlands I passed lorries from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland and Spain, the physical reality of cross-European supply chains and integrated production – now threatened by the UK’s removal from the Single Market. Hence the need argued in these articles for the UK and Europe to retain a close working relationship. More than this, only a concerted attempt to combine the national and the European in a new way will be able to create a social Europe rather than an austerity Europe. <span class="mag-quote-center">Complementary to this, there needs to be a far greater decentralisation of power and responsibility within organisations.</span></p> <p>These five changes indicate why progressive politics is struggling to adapt to the scale of the transformation that is needed. At one level this is about developing new policies. When Benoit Hamon suggested taxing robots he was dismissed as a crank, yet less than a week later Bill Gates was repeating the idea. However, to focus primarily on policies is to make the mistake of many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. The more profound and urgent issue is how to bring together a diverse range of forces in a new alliance. </p> <p>The declining role of the working class does not mean that you ignore it or deride it as ‘Old Labour.’ But rather how do you tell a story that brings working class communities in older industrial areas together with those working on their own, or in newer sectors of the economy and in the larger cities. And that requires a range of political skills and competences that understands both the strategic and the tactical; how to gain new allies and divide opponents. This combination of relevant policies; an appreciation of the importance of alliances; and the political and tactical acumen to develop and sustain them is more important than ever for twenty first century progressive politics. <span class="mag-quote-center">The issue is not to be distracted by calls from Tony Blair for a second referendum.</span></p> <p>In the UK, Brexit is the immediate test. The issue is not to be distracted by calls from Tony Blair for a second referendum. The key issue is to retain access to the Single Market. These articles have shown how that is a perfectly feasible option within the terms of the existing European Treaties. A shrewd leadership focused on this aim would be able to split major sections of the business and financial community from the Conservative Party and the tabloid press. But to do so, it would need not to fear making friends with the CBI and sharing platforms with John Major. The Trump insurgency and its European acolytes are sharp reminders of the need to create broad popular fronts and cross-class, cross-party alliances. Campaigning for the retention of the UK within the Single Market is the place to start.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> See Robin Cook. Point of Departure (2003)</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Ibid.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> The head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijesselbloem is a Dutch Labour Party minister, at least until the March 2017 Dutch general election, while German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel when leader of his country’s Social Democrats expressed fiercer hostility to the Tsipras government than Angela Merkel in June and July 2015.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-taking-political-initiative">Responding to Brexit: taking the political initiative</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-returning-to-social-market-model-on-migration">Responding to Brexit: returning to a social market model on migration</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Brexit Jon Bloomfield Tue, 07 Mar 2017 08:22:17 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 109247 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Responding to Brexit: returning to a social market model on migration https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-returning-to-social-market-model-on-migration <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the second part of the series on key inter-related aspects of the upheaval facing European countries and their citizens: how should the EU tackle the issue of internal migration?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29759342.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29759342.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Theresa May leaves the room at Lancaster House in London after outlining her plans for Brexit, saying, "I know that you cannot control immigration overall...". Is that right?</span></span></span>The free movement of people to take up employment in another EU country is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Community law. Yet until the 2004 enlargement to eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe, there was no large scale take-up of this right by Europeans. In 2005, less than 2% of EU citizens lived and worked in a member state other than their country of origin. That figure had not changed for more than three decades.</p> <p>A survey of 24,000 EU citizens in 2005 found that concerns over a lack of language skills (50%) and adapting to another culture (20%) were key factors in discouraging people from working abroad.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> In addition, people did not want to lose direct contact with their family and friends as well as crucial support for every-day life in terms of childcare or care for the elderly.&nbsp; </p> <p>The survey also confirmed that there was a weaker labour mobility culture in Europe as compared to the United States with the average duration of employment in the same job being 10.6 years compared to 6.7 years in the US. This complemented other studies which showed much lower labour mobility across Europe when compared to the United States. The general position remained that most Europeans were extremely reluctant to look for work in another EU country. During this period the European economy grew steadily as did overall living standards. In other words, the effective functioning and prosperity of the European economy and its Single Market did not depend on large flows of migrant labour. <span class="mag-quote-center">Significant numbers of Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians started to move west, especially to the UK and Ireland.</span></p> <p>The entry of eight new member states from Central and Eastern Europe changed all that, above all in the UK and Ireland where no transitional controls on the movement of labour were imposed. Just as following German unification in 1991 when large numbers of citizens from the low wage eastern part of Germany flocked to the west, so after 2004 significant numbers of east Europeans saw new opportunities beckoning in western Europe with wage levels three to four times higher than what they could expect in their own countries. Significant numbers of Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians started to move west, especially to the UK and Ireland, followed subsequently by others. </p> <p>This trend has been exacerbated by the impact of the prolonged financial recession after 2008 and the deflationary, austerity policies that the EU has pursued. With high unemployment levels across the whole of southern Europe, especially amongst the young, the last few years has seen a new flow from southern Europe of migrants into the big cities of northern Europe. These trends have been reinforced by the spread of ICT technologies of all kinds which lessen the disruption of population movement by making it much easier and cheaper to retain connections with family and friends back home as well as the emergence of low cost air travel and European-wide coach services.</p> <p>Across the Single Market this unprecedented, easy movement of labour has brought substantial economic advantages for employers. They gain a ready supply of skilled, low-cost labour. For the individual migrant, the large wage differentials between east and western Europe mean that s/he gets new work opportunities and higher wages than are available in their own countries. For southern Europeans, it means they get employment. </p> <p>But the social and cultural costs of large-scale people movements are not picked up by any public authority. They are just experienced by citizens living in the areas with large migrant populations – additional kids in local schools, where they often do not speak the local language; extra pressure on housing; more people in doctors’ surgeries. When combined with the added competition in the labour market, with east Europeans often prepared to work for longer hours and for much lower wages, this adds up to a volatile cocktail and is fertile ground for racist groups. Tackling this requires European-wide action and a reshaping of the operation of the Single Market. Its economic benefits need complementary social measures such as a European minimum wage and a migration integration fund to ensure that economic efficiency is combined with social justice. <span class="mag-quote-center">At the heart of this issue is a question of politics. Politicians created and shaped the Single Market. They can reshape it too.</span></p> <p>At the heart of this issue is a question of politics. Politicians created and shaped the Single Market. They can reshape it too. However, to do so the EU has to return to its founding social market principles and to ditch its recent conversion to neo-liberalism. It is an irony of history that the increasing orientation of the EU towards a free trade, supply-side competition policy without social protection has been rejected by voters in Britain, precisely the country that originated and was the main driver of these neo-liberal policies. In order to address the consequences of Brexit the EU itself has to discard these neo-liberal policies, above all in relation to migration.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">Freedom of movement is specifically tied to agreed, contracted employment and recognises the need to balance labour supply and demand.</span></p> <p>Contrary to the repeated statements of Commission President Juncker and others, the Treaty of Rome is not a neoliberal free for all. This will surprise many readers since the regular refrain from both EU and UK politicians is that access to the Single Market depends on the wholesale application of the four freedoms of goods, services, capital and people. However, the precise wording of the official EU treaty documents shows that this is not the case. Freedom of movement is specifically tied to agreed, contracted employment and recognises the need to balance labour supply and demand. Article 48 of <a href="http://www.gleichstellung.uni-freiburg.de/dokumente/treaty-of-rome">the original Treaty of Rome</a> states that “freedom of movement for workers shall entail the right (a) to accept offers of employment actually made; (b) to move freely within the territory of member states for this purpose.” Article 49 calls for “the achievement of a balance between supply and demand in the employment market in such a way as to avoid serious threats to the standard of living and level of employment in the various regions and industries.” In other words, these have to be managed processes.&nbsp;These clauses were transposed into the Treaty of Lisbon, word for word. <span class="mag-quote-center">&nbsp;In order to address the consequences of Brexit the EU itself has to discard these neo-liberal policies, above all in relation to migration.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Too many politicians have conflated the freedom to travel without restriction across the EU with the right to work. Theresa May repeated the mantra in her Lancaster House speech. “I know that you cannot control immigration overall when there is free movement to Britain from Europe.”<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a>&nbsp; This is simply mistaken. </p><p>The Treaties offer the basis for a serious negotiation between the UK and the rest of the EU. Its Articles show that it is perfectly possible on the basis of the EU’s existing treaties for the UK government to negotiate a managed migration policy. This is true for all European states but for the UK, which is not a member of the Schengen area, there are fewer complications. Within the terms of the Treaties, there is nothing to stop the UK government from organising seasonal agricultural labour schemes to enable fruit and vegetable farmers to get their food picked and processed and indicating the number of nursing and care staff the UK needs for its hospitals and care homes. This would be balancing supply and demand in ways that avoid serious threats to levels of employment and living standards in various regions. Mrs. May’s government is presenting migration as the obstacle that prevents the UK from being part of the Single Market as Norway and Switzerland are. The EU Treaties do not prevent this: neo-liberal politics are the obstacle. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is perfectly possible on the basis of the EU’s existing treaties for the UK government to negotiate a managed migration policy. </span></p> <p>Returning to the original principles of the Treaties of Rome and Lisbon would be in the interests of all parties. It is not just in the UK that there is a need to balance labour supply and demand. The EU should indicate its preparedness to apply the principles actually laid out in its Treaties. This would break the political log-jam and put the hard Brexiteers on the defensive. It would also indicate that the EU was returning to its original social market principles rather than the neo-liberal economic direction it has taken in the last decade with such dire results. Such a move is long overdue. Can Brexit be the trigger for this much-needed policy shift?</p> <p><em>Last part of Responding to Brexit tomorrow – Breaking with neo-liberalism</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Eurobarometer 64. Survey on geographical and labour market mobility.(2005)</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/17/theresa-mays-brexit-speech-full/">http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/17/theresa-mays-brexit-speech-full/</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-taking-political-initiative">Responding to Brexit: taking the political initiative</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-breaking-with-neo-liberalism">Responding to Brexit: breaking with neo-liberalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics People Flow Brexit Jon Bloomfield Mon, 06 Mar 2017 09:13:48 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 109245 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Responding to Brexit: taking the political initiative https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-taking-political-initiative <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This three part series considers key inter-related aspects of the current political upheaval facing the citizens and countries of Europe. This first article examines how the European political class should respond.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Trump_speaking_with_Putin_oval_office.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Trump_speaking_with_Putin_oval_office.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>January 28, 2017. President Donald Trump, having spoken to Chancellor Merkel for 45 minutes, on the phone to President Putin. Wikicommons/Sean Spicer, White House press secretary. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The week after the UK voted to leave the European Union, Nigel Farage went to the European Parliament and bragged that this was the beginning of the end for the European project. Most MEPs laughed, while government leaders and EU Commissioners trotted out well-worn clichés about Europe’s resilience. They didn’t sense the danger. They do now.</p> <p>Europe’s political leaders are starting to acknowledge that this nationalist and authoritarian upsurge intends to destroy both the trans-national structures of post-war Europe and the values that have underpinned them. The flow of barbed asides, tweets and comments directed against both Europe and Germany from US President Trump and his closest associates just keep on coming.</p> <p>These trends have not just dropped from the sky. Two decades ago the most hard-line neo-Conservatives organised a key influential think-tank, the Project for the New American Century, which strove to create a unipolar world revolving around US global leadership. </p> <p>Their supporters dominated the first George W. Bush administration but their hopes for American hegemony foundered in the killing fields of Iraq. Trump offers an even more aggressive, nationalistic version of that dream. The official slogan is ‘Make America Great Again’ but the reality is that he intends to Make America Supreme Again. Alongside China, an effective European Union with a Europeanised Germany at its heart is one of the main obstacles standing in his way. A fragmented Europe of small nation states is his strategic goal. Farage has paved the way; he hopes that Wilders, Le Pen and Grillo will follow. He envisages a crumbling Europe where a succession of pliant European politicians will then journey to the White House pleading for favours. Theresa May is the template. None of this is inevitable. However, to avoid this doomsday scenario Europe has to change – and fast. The immediate challenge is how to respond to Brexit. <span class="mag-quote-center">To avoid this doomsday scenario Europe has to change – and fast. The immediate challenge is how to respond to Brexit. </span></p> <h2><strong>The ‘nationalist plan’</strong></h2> <p>Trump and the nationalists want to break up Europe. They want the hardest, sharpest possible Brexit. They have succeeded in taking Theresa May’s government down that path with Labour following timidly in tow. It needn’t be that way. But that requires new leadership, flexibility and imagination from Europe’s political leadership.</p> <p>Firstly, the EU should take the political initiative. It should state its negotiating stance in a proper White Paper. This should clearly declare that for reasons of economics, geography, history and culture a close working partnership between the UK and the Continent is in the interests of both parties. In the twenty first century, economics has leapt the boundaries of the nation state. Our economic, financial and commercial lives are inextricably intertwined. This is true not just in classic engineering industries such as cars and aircraft with their lengthy supply chains, but also in areas such as the processed food industry, banking and tourism. The removal of the UK from Europe’s Single Market would seriously weaken both partners. </p> <p>A participation agreement such as occurs with both Norway and Switzerland would help to retain Europe’s overall cohesion and economic effectiveness. At the same time the White Paper should stress the importance of on-going collaboration in the fields of science, technology and research so that there is no fracturing of the European-wide research community. </p> <p>Secondly, discard the wooden clichés and negative rhetoric that keeps recurring in the statements of Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and co. Drop the argument that the UK must get a worse deal than it had before. The fact is that the very act of political exclusion puts the UK in a much worse position, since in any Single Market access deal, it would be signing up to a set of rules which from now on it will have no role in setting.</p> <h2><strong>No more secret negotiations</strong></h2> <p>Thirdly, Europe should take the democratic initiative. This should not be a secret negotiation behind closed doors, as the UK government desperately desires. Having set out its negotiating objectives in a White Paper, the negotiating team should report monthly to the European Parliament and give the Parliament the opportunity for discussion and debate.&nbsp; In this way it would be acting as the vehicle for scrutiny and accountability of the whole process, thereby wresting control away from the UK government and reducing the impact of an assiduous flow of leaks to its favoured newspapers. Regular Parliamentary discussions would be precisely ‘the running commentary’ that both the British and European publics are entitled to know about and of which the UK government is so scared.</p> <p>Fourthly, the EU should unilaterally indicate that it will extend the negotiating period beyond the stated two years. That power lies with the Council of Ministers under Article 50.&nbsp; Such an extension would accord with Angela Merkel’s statement immediately after Brexit that “ in<em> the European treaties there is a clear set and orderly procedure for member states who want to leave the European Union. This procedure involves several years of negotiations…”</em><a href="#_ftn1"><em><strong>[1]</strong></em></a><em>&nbsp; </em>This gives the time necessary for a complex set of negotiations to be completed. But it also means that the EU’s offer to the UK remains on the table until after the next UK General Election. In this way, the ‘soft Brexit’ option – Britain managing migration within the Single Market – would be a viable proposition for all opposition parties to campaign for. <span class="mag-quote-center">Give the electorate a choice as to whether to pursue the current government’s proposed abrupt rupture from Europe and its associated headlong embrace of Donald Trump or whether it prefers the less disruptive option.</span></p> <p>It would remove the unrealistic call for a second referendum but give the electorate a choice as to whether to pursue the current government’s proposed abrupt rupture from Europe and its associated headlong embrace of Donald Trump or whether it prefers the less disruptive option. This offer would provide the best conditions for Europe to retain cohesive working relations with the UK. The UK government will dislike intensely this approach but many businesses and companies will quietly welcome it. Already, both the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce have proposed an extension of the negotiating period to give the necessary time to enable effective economic arrangements to be put in place. </p> <h2><strong>Strategic nous</strong></h2> <p>The European project is facing a dire crisis. This 4 point plan would give a serious chance for a British departure from the European Union with the least damage. And it would show that the EU has the strategic nous and imagination both to address issues such as migration and to put those advocating Europe’s break-up on the back foot. </p> <p>Linked with this plan Europe has a number of strong cards to play. Just to suggest three. Firstly, if the UK does not play ball, then it is clear that the exclusion of vast swathes of the service economy from the Single Market will be profoundly harmful to the UK. The absence of ‘passporting’ facilities for banking, financial, accountancy, legal and other services will have severely detrimental impacts on many parts of the UK economy. <span class="mag-quote-center">The EU should avoid raising the stakes in areas which would be mutually harmful, as May did in her speech in threatening to withdraw security co-operation.</span></p> <p>Secondly, the EU should signal publicly that should the UK leave the Single Market then the EU would unreservedly welcome Scotland as an immediate full member. The EU needs to say clearly to the Spanish government that there is no comparison with the situation with Catalonia. Spain is neither proposing to leave the EU nor the Single Market. The EU project is being undermined. It needs to show that it is prepared to defend itself and welcome those such as Scotland who would want to join it should the UK pursue a hard Brexit. Thirdly, it could say that there would be no fast-tracking for UK passport holders at EU ports and airports. UK citizens would be treated as all other foreign nationals. </p> <p>While there are strong cards to play, the EU should avoid raising the stakes in areas which would be mutually harmful, as May did in her speech in threatening to withdraw security co-operation. The White Paper should offer a proper cooperative relationship with the UK and help to avoid the conditions where Britain’s relations with Europe ‘fall off a cliff’ with disastrous results all round. The steps suggested here would regain both the political and democratic initiative for the EU. Are there European politicians with the flexibility and capacity to address the challenge? And UK politicians able to respond to them?</p> <p><em>Next part of Responding to Brexit&nbsp; – Returning to a social market model on migration</em></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Merkel statement 24 June 2016</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-returning-to-social-market-model-on-migration">Responding to Brexit: returning to a social market model on migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/responding-to-brexit-breaking-with-neo-liberalism">Responding to Brexit: breaking with neo-liberalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Democracy and government International politics Brexit Jon Bloomfield Sun, 05 Mar 2017 12:39:10 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 109233 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The case for Europe, 2016 https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jon-bloomfield/case-for-europe-2016 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In an interdependent world, nationalism offers no bolt-hole. The task for all progressives is to find effective ways to engage with continental partners, creating a new blend of national and European politics.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-14196414.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-14196414.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tourists overlook City of London from London Eye. Emilio Morenotti. Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Five years of stringent austerity politics culminating in the Greek debacle last summer have spread growing despair across the left about the present direction of the European Union. The inability to respond collectively and in a humanitarian fashion to the mounting refugee crisis during 2015 has exacerbated this frustration. </p> <p>Rather than argue for a progressive alliance to force policy change within the EU, some on the left are now wondering whether it would be better to give up on Europe and campaign for British withdrawal (see the <em>New Statesman</em>’s series during 2015 promoting ‘the honourable tradition of Eurosceptic leftism’). Such a move would be a big strategic mistake. The days of socialism or social democracy in one country are long gone. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">The days of socialism or social democracy in one country are long gone. </span>In an interdependent world, nationalism offers no bolt hole for the left. The task for all progressives is to find effective ways to engage with continental partners. In an age when economics, ecology and culture have leapt the boundaries of the medium-sized nation state, the only progressive option is to find ways to cooperate with neighbouring countries so as to offer a new blend of national and European&nbsp;politics.</p> <p>This article considers the UK’s place in today’s interdependent world, firstly looking at the economic realities; and secondly at the wider environmental and cultural connections. It then answers some of the main arguments of the nationalist right and the policies that have held sway among many parts of the social-democratic left. The final section suggests a new pro-European agenda which can unite a broad alliance of progressives and rebut the narrow nationalism that is driving the anti-European&nbsp;movement.</p> <h2><strong>The UK and the modern&nbsp;world</strong></h2> <p>There is a common thread that runs through left-wing, anti-European arguments and binds them together with the Eurosceptic right, namely a refusal to recognise that over the last half century the world – and Britain’s role within it – has changed dramatically. They remain oblivious to the economic shortcomings of twenty-first century Britain, a few of which are listed&nbsp;below.</p> <p>-&nbsp; In 2014, the UK’s current account deficit was £97.9 billion, 5.5 per cent of GDP. This was the largest annual deficit as a percentage of GDP since annual records began and amounted to the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10427783/Britain-to-have-worst-2014-trade-deficit-in-industrial-world-on-EU-forecasts.html">biggest deficit of any major industrialised economy.</a>1</p> <p>-&nbsp; The UK’s<strong> </strong>share of global exports since 1980 has fallen from 6 per cent to under 3 per cent and we still export more to Ireland (population 4 million) than we do to China (population 1.3&nbsp;billion).</p> <p>- This is a country whose productivity per head is 20 per cent below that of France and which unlike our main European neighbours – Germany, France and Spain – is unable to construct high speed rail or extensive tram&nbsp;networks.</p> <p>- The fact that the city of London is a world leader in financial, banking and the related ’shadow’ financial services is often trumpeted as a counter argument. Yet, these sectors were largely responsible for the 2008 global crisis and remain basically unreformed. Their predominance serves to underline the continuing vulnerability of the UK&nbsp;economy. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">City of London predominance serves to underline the continuing vulnerability of the UK&nbsp;economy.</span></p> <p>The economic realities of the modern world remain largely absent from the EU debate. Since the Second World War, economic developments have moved beyond the boundaries of the individual European nation state. Along with the need to contain Europe’s propensity for deadly wars, this was the original impetus behind the European Economic Community. This has been the period, firstly of the developing multi-national corporation and then an era of unprecedented globalisation, with financial deregulation, the emergence of ICT technology and the opening up of the former socialist blocs. These developments have weakened the basic post-war settlement between capital and labour negotiated across most countries in western Europe, a process accelerated over the last three decades by the ideological ascendancy of neoliberalism. </p> <p>Taken together, they mean that in the twenty-first century, politics can no longer be confined to the nation state. To control and regulate both markets and the environment one has to develop a model of multi-level governance which <em>combines </em>action at the European scale with that undertaken by individual national governments and their devolved regions and cities. These trends are not confined to Europe. Latin American countries are bonding together in Mercosur; Asian countries in ASEAN; and even the current global super-power, the USA, has been keen to develop NAFTA. This requires progressives in each of those regions to reach beyond national boundaries and work together with like-minded parties in neighbouring&nbsp;countries.</p> <p>These trends are ignored by sceptics. Labour MP Kate Hoey declares that she wants ‘to get back to our parliament the right to make its own laws, the right to have complete control of our economy, to decide everything that relates to our own country …’ (<em>New Statesman</em> 19.6.15). Conservative anti-European MPs such as John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin use the same basic argument. Another prominent left-wing sceptic, Colin Hines proposes ‘returning to the nation state the power to control goods, money, services …’ (<em>Guardian</em> 23.11.14). These statements suggest that we can just turn back the clock. However, modern production has leapt nation state boundaries. Britain is part of a fully integrated European-wide economy. Look what happens when there is a closure of Eurotunnel. Suddenly the M20 is a car park with queues of thousands of lorries stretching back thirty miles. Consider our agriculture and food industry. Whenever a scandal or scare breaks out – BSE; turkeys; foot and mouth; horsemeat in frozen food – the intertwined, cross-European nature of food production is&nbsp;revealed.</p> <p>In the twenty-first century, there is no way that economies and industries are going to be forced back into their national boxes. Look at the former British car industry. Scattered across the Midlands are the huge old factory sites of Rootes, Humber, Austin, Triumph, and Morris, now transformed into shopping malls, warehouses and mixed-use developments. These British companies will never return. The car companies that flourish are integrated with supply chains that link across the whole of Europe’s Single Market. Similarly, the choice as regards aircraft manufacture is either Airbus or Boeing. It did not look that way in 1967, when Boeing made four-fifths of the world’s commercial aircraft. However, long-term cooperation between French, German, British and Spanish companies means that the European consortium is now a serious rival to Boeing, with a full order book. Filton near Bristol and Broughton in North Wales, along with their 400 supply-chain companies and 100,000 jobs, prosper as a core component of an interwoven network of Europe-wide production processes. What is certain is that they would have no future as a separate British company. Hoey’s ‘complete control of our economy’ would guarantee them the fate of Humber, Morris and&nbsp;Triumph.</p> <p>Being a full member of the EU allows the UK to contribute to the shaping of this Single Market; to formulate common environmental and employment standards, for example a guaranteed four weeks annual holiday for employees. It gives companies a market of 500 million people – not one a tenth of that size. Europe is the scale at which key parts of twenty-first century business operates. These companies invest in the UK as we are part of that wider market. It is the level at which progressives need to&nbsp;work.</p> <h2><strong>Wider&nbsp;interdependencies</strong></h2> <p>These connections and interdependencies are not just economic. They extend into the nooks and crannies of everyday life and require new forms of transnational cooperation to enable the countries and citizens of Europe to work together for their mutual benefit. Below I briefly consider three issues that highlight the fact that Britain can no longer stand isolated and aloof from Europe – tourism and travel, crime and climate&nbsp;change.</p> <p>The EU has made travel immeasurably easier. In 2013 Britons made 42 million visits to Europe, including almost 12 million to Spain, 9 million to France and 2 million to Portugal and Greece.2 They used the airports, roads, public transport and tourist infrastructure that EU funds have helped to build across the Continent. These are all elements of the joint European story. But they never appear in any cost benefit analysis produced by UKIP or Business for Britain. British travellers benefit not just from the physical modernisation that these funds have promoted but also from the common passport procedures; the reciprocal health arrangements; and from agreements that control mobile phone charges. None of these would be covered by a free trade area. A few on the ‘workerist’ left try to maintain that these measures only benefit the well-off, ignoring the reality that millions of working-class Britons holiday abroad each year, as do many young&nbsp;people.</p> <p>As the world has globalised, criminal activity, from fraud and credit card theft through to drug smuggling and human trafficking, has been internationalised, and the EU offers a political framework in which to tackle some of these problems. The UK’s ‘island mentality’ does not make it immune from the necessity to co-operate on criminal issues with fellow EU member states. There clearly need to be safeguards in place with regard to civil liberties, and the European Parliament needs to have strong oversight of agreed European-wide provisions. But UK withdrawal would involve the UK government trying to sign up individual agreements with police forces, judicial and prison authorities across 27 other EU&nbsp;states.</p> <p>Climate change rarely figures as an issue among the Eurosceptic left. For UKIP, and people like Daniel Hannan MEP and John Redwood silence on this issue is no surprise, given the overlap between the nationalist right and climate change deniers. However, for progressives it is inexcusable, given the importance of the EU for this issue. By working together, the EU has been able to adopt common positions on climate change and influence the wider world in a way that would have been impossible for the UK to achieve on its own. And by setting out a common framework in its 2020 and 2030 strategies, Europe has cajoled and stimulated all its member states to take action on energy efficiency and renewables, in ways that would not have occurred otherwise (though there are of course back-sliders and foot-draggers among a number of EU member states – the present UK government included). The EU’s current main funding programme for Structural Funds sets very clear requirements that low-carbon activity should receive a guaranteed proportion of its funds, and its Research programme Horizon 2020 has a stream of funding instruments dedicated to low-carbon innovation and transition. </p> <p>There is a political contest about the significance of the environmental agenda within EU member states and plenty of shortcomings can be found, but there is no doubt that as an institution the EU has been in the forefront of those taking the climate change challenge seriously and has used legislative, regulatory and funding instruments to respond to the challenge. UK withdrawal from the EU will weaken Europe’s capacity to&nbsp;act.</p> <h2><strong>Answering the nationalist&nbsp;right</strong></h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-19990205.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-19990205.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>City of London predominance serves to underline the continuing vulnerability of the UK economy. Stefan Rousseau/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The arguments of the ‘withdrawal left’ often echo the much more powerful and numerous voices on the nationalist right that are dominating the referendum debate. These tend to mix economic fantasy with nostalgia in equal&nbsp;measure.</p> <p>On economics, the nationalist right maintains that a Britain liberated from the shackles of the sclerotic EU would be free to export to newly emerging markets. This simply ignores the fact that there is nothing to stop the UK exporting to these markets at the moment, other than the weakness and inadequacy of our manufacturing sector. After all, Germany currently exports ten times as much to China as we do, while the UK also has a lower share of the Chinese goods market than both France and Italy – countries the nationalist right frequently cite as having basket-case economies.3</p> <p>On culture and history there are frequent references to our independent history and the fact that ‘we are a maritime people’.4 Yet the Portuguese, Greeks and Dutch, who all also claim a proud maritime heritage, remain comfortable within the EU. Today, the British still like to mess around in boats – some 800,000 own yachts and dinghies. It is just that we no longer build ships or have any commercial shipyards. So references to a ‘maritime people’ are just cultural hot&nbsp;air.</p> <p>Politically, with the demise of the Commonwealth, the right are trying to create a new entity, the Anglo-sphere. This is a zone where the English can feel comfortable and do business with other people who speak English, in an Internet-connected world. ‘The revolution in technology means distance has never mattered less’, asserts Hannan. Again, this does not survive contact with reality. No US leader has ever called for such an Alliance, let alone tried to create one. Nor has Tony Abbott, the recent neo-conservative leader of Australia and an ideological soul-mate of the hard Right. His speeches and diplomacy leave no doubt that for his country the key reference points are Japan, China and Indonesia.5 Whatever the cultural ties of the past, the priorities for Australia today are its near Asian mainland. The reasons are simple: geography and economics. The same is true for Britain. No amount of empty rhetoric about the Internet can alter the facts that geography and economics tie us to&nbsp;Europe.</p> <h2><strong>Cul de sacs of the&nbsp;left</strong></h2> <p>In the twentieth century the left achieved social advances through the nation state. It is more difficult to see how to shape and influence this emerging new world order. As Pascal Lamy expressed it, ‘Historically, the success of social democracy was to promote a compromise between labour and capital, between the state and the market and between commercial competition and social solidarity. Globalisation has unhinged the balance by taking away all the domestic levers by which we maintained the compromise’.6 That is why talk about ‘building a new Britain’ is so unrealistic. Social democracy in one country is a non-starter in an interdependent world. With such an open economy, the UK trying to challenge international capital on its own would get nowhere. The fate that befell the Mitterrand government in France in the early 1980s should serve as a reminder to all on the left who talk in such casual terms. The task is to find new avenues for the social compromises that the left previously created. Yet the articulation of a strategy that combines the national with the European has so far proved a step too far for all parts of the left. Over the past two decades the social-democratic left has been led up two cul de&nbsp;sacs. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Over the past two decades the social-democratic left has been led up two cul de&nbsp;sacs.</span></p> <p>Firstly, for a brief moment in the 1990s, with the world economy booming and the optimism of the ‘end of history’ moment, a benevolent globalisation scenario seemed plausible to some in New Labour, all the more so when overseen by two such able rhetoricians as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. As the Panglossian Peter Mandelson described it, ‘Globalisation offers all the best the world can offer. We must not sound as if we believe there is a tension between labour and capital, or competition and solidarity.’7 Such utopian optimism and naivety was soon to be exposed by global crisis. But perhaps the most damaging effect of Third Way social democracy was that, in its belief that issues of class were now old-fashioned, it left the field open to others. With Communism a busted flush after 1989, it was left to the nationalist, populist and racist right to exploit the grievances of older working-class communities and those left behind by globalisation. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">It was left to the nationalist, populist and racist right to exploit the grievances of older working-class communities and those left behind by globalisation.</span> As the free movement of labour across Europe meant increased competition for manual labouring jobs and renewed pressure on housing, social and health services, the operation of the Single Market became a growing issue that the nationalist right was able to&nbsp;exploit.</p> <p>The second dead end was German ‘ordo-liberalism’ – the mind-set that has hegemonised most of the European economic policy debate. In contrast to neoliberalism, ordo-liberalism emphasises the role of government in creating the framework of rules that provide the order for free markets to function. Their focus is on price stability, and in a recession the priority is to reduce deficits, not to revive growth. When commitment to ordo-liberal economics was enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty, too few people understood its significance, while others thought it could be ignored (as indeed happened in 2003, when Germany and then France broke the budget criteria with little consequence). However, the ideological and budgetary straitjacket of ordo-liberalism has been disastrous since the financial crisis. Social-democratic parties across Europe have sleepwalked into disaster; scared to embrace Keynesian economics, they have colluded with austerity. </p> <p>As a consequence, social democracy has disappeared as a force in Poland and Hungary, been butchered in Spain, massacred in Greece, and is stagnating elsewhere across Europe. This is the philosophy that currently pervades all the key EU institutions and policy-makers, and it still retains its grip on key parts of European social democracy.8 It calls the austerity policy a success despite Latvia losing 15 per cent of its population after pursuing it; Spain having a youth unemployment rate of over 50 per cent; and Greece losing 25 per cent of its GDP in five years. The policy has been absolutely lethal to the EU’s reputation for displaying competence and delivering economic prosperity. The events at the EU Finance Ministers and EU Council on 11-13 July, when the Greek saga came to a head, revealed the dangers of this rigid, deflationary policy and of a return to a German-led Europe.9&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Charting a new course: promoting a social&nbsp;Europe</strong></h2> <p>The Greek saga has been an unmitigated disaster for Europe: firstly for the Greek people but also for any prospect of a social Europe. </p> <p>The only silver lining is that it has clearly revealed the reactionary and regressive line of travel of the ordo-liberal leadership of the Eurozone. There are plenty of Europeans aghast and amazed at this old spectre returning to haunt Europe, especially when sane, practical alternatives are available. The historic question is whether European social democrats have the wit and energy to embrace them and then work together with others to construct an alternative scenario for Europe. Progressives in the UK should be clear that this crisis is not a private affair of those within the Eurozone: it directly affects all parties and movements that want to shape Europe in a progressive direction. </p> <p>To achieve this there needs to be a clean break with the twin orthodoxies that social democracy has followed for the last two decades and a concerted attempt to combine the national and the European in a new way to create a social Europe rather than an austerity Europe. To achieve this goal there are three immediate dimensions that need to be tackled: economics, migration and&nbsp;democracy.</p> <p><strong><em>Economics</em></strong></p> <p>On economics, the immediate task is to break with ordo-liberalism and its neoliberal counterparts. The rules of the Eurozone are not tablets of stone handed down by Moses. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">The rules of the Eurozone are not tablets of stone handed down by Moses.</span> They are political instruments that wrongly prioritise deficit reduction over growth. That is why mainstream economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman berate them so fiercely. These need to be directly and explicitly challenged, along with the policy sentiments of George Osborne and the UK Treasury, which follow the same basic path but with more flexibility and tactical acumen. However, those who argue that the priority is to change the architecture of the Euro are profoundly mistaken. The last thing the left should do is obsess about EU treaty change. The focus should be on changing policies now, so that there is much greater flexibility in the Eurozone, which would enable European economies to grow consistently.10</p> <p>More broadly, the task across the whole of Europe is not to reject closer economic co-operation but rather to shape it along progressive lines. Economics has leapt the boundaries of the nation state. Our politics needs to do the same. Crucially, this requires European-wide action to reshape the operation of the Single Market and to prioritise green growth, focused on long-term investment in employment-creating jobs such as in housing and green technologies. Joint European action is also the only way to reassert control over the financialisation of the economy. The introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax would both exert some control over the excesses of the financial sector and bring in significant sources of revenue to be used for public&nbsp;investment.</p> <p><strong><em>Migration</em></strong></p> <p>The second key issue is migration. Social-democratic and Liberal parties across Europe have found themselves on the back foot on immigration. Here the right in its many guises has fused a variety of authoritarian, conservative and sometimes racist ideas of the threatening ethnic ‘other’ to more widely felt insecurities of a socio-economic character: ‘they’re taking our jobs; they’re taking our houses’. As working-class living standards have stagnated and the financial crisis has come to the fore, the consequence has been twofold: an explosion in electoral support for openly racist and populist parties of the far right and a tacking to this agenda by the mainstream right, dragging parts of the left in its&nbsp;slipstream.</p> <p>Race and migration are the most volatile issues Europe faces in the early twenty-first century. Yet the reality of the past sixty years is that migration has fundamentally changed the face of Europe – and there is no going back. Third-generation Turks in Berlin, North Africans in Paris and Lyon, Latin Americans in Madrid and Barcelona, and African Caribbeans, Africans and Asians in London and Birmingham, are here to stay. And their contribution to the daily working life of our continent is immense. Just spend some time in an NHS hospital to see the reality of an integrated, multicultural workforce or consider who harvests Europe’s fruit and vegetables. The future of Europe is multi-ethnic. The political issue is how to manage these processes of change and where necessary deal with them on a cross-European&nbsp;basis.</p> <p>Here there are three distinct dimensions: migrants from within the EU; refugees and asylum seekers; and migrants from outside the EU. The common thread of a progressive position on all three dimensions is that these should be managed processes not just left to chance or the&nbsp;market.</p> <p>With regard to internal EU migration, at the moment, across the Single Market the free movement of labour brings with it substantial economic advantages for employers in terms of skilled, cheap workers. For the individual migrant, the large wage differentials between eastern and western Europe mean that s/he gets new work opportunities and higher wages than are available in their own countries. But the social and cultural costs of large-scale people movements are not picked up by any public authority. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">But the social and cultural costs of large-scale people movements are not picked up by any public authority. </span>This lack of provision means that the extra costs are experienced only by citizens living in the areas with large migrant populations – additional kids in local schools, where they often don’t speak the local language; extra pressure on housing; more people in doctors’ surgeries. When combined with the added competition in the labour market, with east Europeans often prepared to work for longer hours and for much lower wages, this adds up to a volatile cocktail and is fertile ground for racist&nbsp;groups.</p> <p>Addressing this requires European-wide action and a reshaping of the operation of the Single Market. The economic benefits of migration need complementary social measures to ensure that economic efficiency is combined with social justice. Politicians created and shaped the Single Market, and they can reshape it too. Firstly, there needs to be a much stronger social floor, with common working conditions across the whole of Europe, and a Europe-wide minimum wage set at 50 per cent of the average wage within each country. Secondly, this should be complemented by the creation of a new, visible, policy instrument, a European integration fund, designed to give localities the resources to respond to the social costs of migration. Under its provisions, every EU citizen who works abroad in a manual job would have to register with the local authority, and for every person registered the authority would be able to claim €1000 per year. So, for example, if Madrid, Manchester or Munich had a thousand EU migrant workers coming to their city they would receive annually €1 million from the EU Integration Fund. The public authority would use this money to address the additional social pressures&nbsp;on schools, health and housing brought about by the free movement of labour. Combined with stronger trade unions, these measures would benefit all workers, and offer a progressive model of social-democratic politics that goes with the grain of economic development. These proposals will not remove the dangers of racism from European politics, but they will give a clear basis on which to challenge its socio-economic&nbsp;roots.&nbsp;</p> <p>The issue of refugees has now exploded again across Europe, with the huge numbers of refugees fleeing Syria and or seeking to enter Europe across the Mediterranean via the failed state of Libya. States are obliged to accept as refugees those whose fear of oppression in their country of origin is ‘well-founded’, as the 1951 Geneva Convention puts it. The front-line states of Greece and Italy believe that this large influx of refugees – who are often fleeing war zones and mayhem to which European military action has massively contributed, as in Libya and Iraq – should be dealt with as a European issue with an agreed distribution mechanism across EU member states. The response so far has been miserable and the consequences of beggar-my-neighbour policies are already only too&nbsp;evident.</p> <p>Those who believe in a Europe built on the values of the Enlightenment cannot respond by simply pulling up the drawbridge and refusing their responsibilities to refugees. There are no simple solutions here but facing down tabloid press hysteria and exaggerated claims is a starting point. Progressives should support the principle of a sharing of refugees between all EU countries, as was fiercely argued by Germany’s leading tabloid, <em>Bild Zeitung</em>.</p><p>On the third but often intertwining issue of economic migrants from non EU countries, the EU should encourage specific labour agreements between countries so that there are regulated routes for work. More broadly, they should look to refocus the EU aid budget, which is the largest in the world. Rather than spreading it globally, it should concentrate activities in the Middle East and Africa so that educational and economic opportunities are promoted for young people, in order to reduce the pressures they face to emigrate. With Africa’s population predicted to double by 2050 while Europe’s remains stable, these migratory pressures will only increase even if African countries find routes to sustainable economic prosperity. Left, liberal and Christian democratic forces have to combine together and work with churches, aid organisations and charities to develop this three-pronged approach and confront the bigotry and hatred that is being generated on this&nbsp;issue. </p><p><strong><em>Democracy</em></strong></p> <p>The Greek crisis has highlighted the serious deficiencies of European democracy, especially in the operation of the Eurozone. Both the Eurogroup and European Central Bank have been insulated from any democratic accountability mechanisms. This highlights a deep problem for the left, as it needs to find ways to operate effectively beyond the sphere of the nation state. This task has eluded most trade unions for decades, as they have attempted to bring together employees working for the same multinational corporation in different countries. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">The left… needs to find ways to operate effectively beyond the sphere of the nation state. This task has eluded most trade unions for decades.</span> Momentarily, popular movements such as European Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s and the Occupy movement in 2011-12 achieved cross-European momentum. But it is hard to sustain. </p> <p>Yet the creation of popular movements, initiatives and representative structures at the EU level will be crucial to any progressive development, and here the world of the internet and social media offers new potential. A progressive strategy has to encourage cross-European civil society movements; a Continental-wide press; and new ways to bring citizens together. Here the proposal from Sigmar Gabriel and Emanuel Macron to extend the Erasmus student mobility programme so that all 18 year olds in Europe can study, work or have an apprenticeship experience in another European country is particularly important.12&nbsp;</p> <p>The lynchpin of this process should be the development of a more dynamic and effective European Parliament. The parliamentary session in early July 2015 with Alexis Tsipras clashing with the Liberal Guy Verhofstadt showed some of its potential and took the arguments out from the closed doors of the Eurogroup and ECB. Strengthening the role of the Parliament has to be central to the democratisation process. Crucially this requires the parties of the left to be able to work together on a pan-European basis and develop a common platform. Syriza lost above all because it was isolated. The mainstream right through the EPP has successfully imposed an austerity politics on Europe over the last five years. Can the forces of the left come together over the next five years and articulate a programme for a social&nbsp;Europe?</p> <h2><strong>Conclusions</strong></h2> <p>We are living in dangerous times. Around the world today we are seeing the spread of aggressive nationalisms, from the ruins of the USSR to India and Turkey. Across Europe we see the re-emergence of old nationalist enmities and the creation of new ones. Occasionally, as in Catalonia and Scotland, this is primarily a civic nationalism which sees the potential of its political goals within a broader Europe. However, generally these are ethnic nationalisms defining themselves against an enemy ‘other’ – be it refugees, East Europeans, Muslims or, most commonly in the UK, just&nbsp;‘Brussels’. </p> <p>The left must not kid itself that there is a progressive bolt hole for English nationalism. There is not. The days of ‘honourable Eurosceptic nationalism’ are long gone. In the twenty-first century, to control the major forces shaping the world’s economy and ecology we have to move beyond the nation state. As the nation state alone cannot bear the strain it is precisely the task of politics to create new frameworks that can. That requires a Europe that acts as a new hinge to complement the nation state and enable politics to shape the economy in a wider regional&nbsp;setting.</p> <p>The task for all parts of the progressive spectrum is not to mimic UKIP or the Front National and Marine Le Pen, but to show that it can offer an alternative model of globalisation that reshapes the Single Market and offers a future to all of Europe’s peoples. The common task for battered social democrats, progressive nationalists, social Liberals, Greens and new forces like Syriza and Podemos should be to develop an attractive vision of states working together on a range of issues that will provide a better life for EU citizens and opportunities for its young people. For progressives, developing a strategy for a social Europe is the challenge of the&nbsp;decade.</p> <p><em>This article was <a href="https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/blog/the-case-for-europe-2016">first published</a> on the Lawrence and Wishart blog, on 12 April 2016.</em></p><p><em>See more of our Brexit coverage, including chapters from Anthony Barnett's book,&nbsp;</em>Blimey, it Could Be Brexit!<em>, </em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brexit2016">here</a><em>.</em></p><p><em>-----</em></p> <p>Notes</p> <p>[1] Office for National Statistics. <a href="http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/bop/balance-of-payments/q4-and-annual-2014/index.html">http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/bop/balance-of-payments/q4-and-annual-2014…</a></p> <p>[2] Office for National Statistics Travel Trends,&nbsp;2013</p> <p>[3] UK Exports to China. FCO Economics Unit Jan 2013. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/211157/">https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/211157/</a></p> <p>[4] Daniel Hannan. Daily Mail 30 May 2015 For this and other&nbsp;quotes.</p> <p>[5] <a href="http://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2012/10/15/tony-abbott-address-jakarta-business-luncheon">http://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2012/10/15/tony-abbott-address-jakarta-business-luncheon</a></p> <p>[6] See Robin Cook Point of Departure&nbsp;(2003)</p> <p>[7]&nbsp;Ibid.</p> <p>[8] The head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijesselbloem is a Dutch Labour Party minister, while German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is the leader of his country’s Social Democrats and expressed fiercer hostility to the Tsipras government than Angela Merkel in June and July&nbsp;2015.</p> <p>[9] For a clear analysis of the dangers see Joschka Fischer: <a href="http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/return-of-the-ugly-german-by-joschka-fischer-2015-07">http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/return-of-the-ugly-german-by-joschka-fischer-2015-07</a></p> <p>[10] An approach <a href="http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/the-eurozones-german-problem/">advocated by policy makers such as Philippe Legrain</a>, economic adviser to President Barroso&nbsp;2011-2014:</p> <p>[11] See its dramatic 4 page special supplement Saturday 29th August and its #refugeeswelcome&nbsp;campaign.</p> <p>[12] <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/europe-france-germany-eu-eurozone-future-integrate">Proposal of French and German ministers Emmanuel Macron and Sigmar&nbsp;Gabriel</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em><a href="https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/book/our-europe-not-theirs">Our Europe Not Theirs</a>, editors Julian Priestley, Glyn Ford. Lawrence and Wishart publishing.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/thomas-fazi-lotta-elsted/idea-you-can-skip-nation-state-is-dangerous">The idea you can skip the nation-state is dangerous</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/anthony-barnett/introduction-to-diem25-manifesto">The DiEM25 manifesto: Democracy in Europe Movement 2025</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics Ideas International politics CEMI brexit box Brexit Jon Bloomfield Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:24:12 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 101545 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jon Bloomfield https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/jon-bloomfield <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jon Bloomfield </div> </div> </div> <p>Jon Bloomfield is an honorary research fellow at Birmingham University and co-author with Robin Wilson of <a href="http://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/building-the-good-society-a-new-form-of-progressive-politics/"><em>Building The Good Society: A New Form of Progressive Politics</em></a> (Compass)<strong></strong></p> Jon Bloomfield Thu, 21 Apr 2016 16:15:18 +0000 Jon Bloomfield 101546 at https://www.opendemocracy.net