uk https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/3031/all en Thirty thousand cyclists at RideLondon and I saw three women of colour https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/asha-modha/thirty-thousand-cyclists-at-ridelondon-and-i-saw-three-women-of-colour <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the suffragettes knew, cycling can empower. But it’s still too dominated by middle-class white men.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/ridelondon.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/ridelondon.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: RideLondon 2018. Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sarflondondunc/29825667558">SarfLondonDunc/Flickr</a>, CC BY 2.0</em></p><p>This summer I completed Prudential’s London to Surrey 100 mile cycling event. As someone who hasn’t ridden a bike in almost ten years, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was impressed by the faultless organisation of the event - and by the overwhelming support of volunteers and spectators despite the painfully early start and the pouring rain.</p> <p>But RideLondon 2018 highlighted a bigger issue - the serious lack of gender and ethnic diversity in cycling. </p> <p>The event, setting out from one of the most diverse cities in the world, was dominated by middle aged white males. I never anticipated the stereotype to be this accurate. I was surrounded by MAMILS (Middle-Aged-Men-In-Lycra) from the word ‘go’, with the DJ blasting songs from U2, The Monkees and The Beatles at the start line, setting the tone for the day ahead. Whilst I was continuously overtaken by a steady influx of cyclists throughout the ride, I noticed only three other women of colour throughout the entirety of my journey –&nbsp;one of whom was my aunty who I was riding with. There were 30,000 cyclists at the event and my finishing time was a snail’s pace of 09:24 minutes, so I saw <em>a lot</em> of people.</p> <p>The lack of ethnic diversity and female representation was shocking, disheartening and frankly quite intimidating. As a British Indian female in her 20s, I was glaringly aware of my presence from start to finish, especially as a novice to the cycling world.</p> <p>Turns out that the domination of white middle-class males in cycling is more than just anecdotal. Eighty-five percent of cyclists in London are white, leaving only 15% of cyclists in London being Black, Asian or of minority ethnicity, with only <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/04/why-are-there-so-few-black-and-asian-cyclists-london">7% of regular riders being of Asian ethnicity</a>, according to Transport for London’s most recent figures. It’s disappointing, given how empowering sporting events such as RideLondon can be.</p> <p>I found myself probing the ‘MAMIL’ stereotype. Research conducted by Steinbach and colleagues in 2011 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) explores why in London “cycling is disproportionately an activity of affluent white men”. The study, funded by TfL and NHS Camden, highlights several factors. Cycling is associated with a certain image, emulating a “bourgeois sensibility” which does not necessarily resonate with Londoners of Black and Asian ethnicity. This perception can act as a deterrent for people of ‘other’ backgrounds; especially if cycling is seen as a white-middle class sport in which – as <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/aug/10/cycling-white-sport">Matt Season of The Guardian puts it</a> – “the cycling community may not always have had an unblemished record of anti-racism” in the past. </p> <p>Regarding the gender divide, the same study found perceived femininity and appearance to be influential factors in cycling. One interviewee stated that “women that do cycle are probably more blokey than feminine.” Whilst I can relate to wanting to stay fashionable during my ride, having donned a pair of pearl earrings to do so, I was more relieved to ‘blend in’ in my cycling gear and stay warm than concerned with glamour.</p> <p>Have many internalised Western expectations of beauty and femininity to the extent of rejecting the sport entirely due to fear of appearing masculine? If so, how disappointing. What would the Suffragettes think – given that the women who transcended societal boundaries to pave our future, using cycling as a mode of transport and a means of liberation?</p> <p>Aside from problematic notions of femininity, aggressive masculinity is a factor too. A couple of Steinbach’s interviewees admitted adopting an aggressive attitude as cyclists, referring to themselves as “urban warriors”. In retrospect, my experience of RideLondon supports this. As they overtook me, passing cyclists threw me condescending and cutting remarks, as well as uncomfortable gazes which I interpreted as unwelcoming micro-aggressions. Their air of superiority knocked my confidence at times. I can understand why budding cyclists would be discouraged from taking up the sport.</p> <p>Remember when the ‘Boris bikes’ were launched in 2013, and then Mayor of London said, “I want more women cycling, more older people cycling, more Black and minority ethnic Londoners cycling, more cyclists of all social backgrounds – without which truly mass participation can never come.”</p> <p>Eight years later the current Mayor Sadiq Khan continues to tackle the issue of diversity in cycling. He has appointed Will Norman as London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner to bridge the gender and ethnicity divide. There are plans to spend around £169m every year for the next five years to implement cycling schemes and infrastructure to achieve that objective.</p> <p>RideLondon 2018 would have been a great place to start, especially as the ‘Mayor of London’ and ‘Transport for London’ logos were plastered all over the RideLondon banners. Both my uncles – people of Indian descent with strong fitness abilities were rejected for the event whilst thousands of white males were chosen to partake. The lack of diversity was the only disappointment of Prudential’s London to Surrey 100 cycling event. It could have helped to bridge the diversity gap and provide new opportunities to cyclists of various backgrounds, as it did for me.</p> <p>Nonetheless, because of a women of colour, my aunty, I have been exposed to a new world of sport and empowered to pursue cycling further. I’ve applied for next year’s ride. I hope that other women and people of varying backgrounds feel the same and try a new sport – it is only then we can change perceptions and break boundaries.</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="/5050/beulah/women-cyclists-are-dying-why-are-we-still-talking-about-their-clothes">Women cyclists are dying, why are we still talking about their clothes?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/nothing-to-lose-but-our-chains-cycling-is-people-s-sport">Nothing to lose but our chains: cycling is the people’s sport </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openeconomy/julian-sayarer/cycling-through-reading-or-kazakhstan-otherness-is-not-what-it-seems">Cycling through Reading or Kazakhstan: otherness is not what it seems</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/chrs-cox/cycling-for-gaza">Cycling for Gaza </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Asha Modha Tue, 18 Sep 2018 11:44:05 +0000 Asha Modha 119701 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Basic income: a progressive road out of austerity https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/basic-income-progressive-road-out-of-austerity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If we accept private inherited wealth then we should also accept the principle of ‘social dividends’ on inherited public wealth, created by past generations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Accelerated by austerity’s inequities, the 20th century income distribution system has broken down irretrievably in what is an era of global rentier capitalism. More and more income is flowing to a rent-extracting elite, returns from financial, physical and so-called intellectual property, bolstered by subsidies and an international architecture of institutions geared to rent-seeking. For various reasons, the returns to labour have declined and will continue to do so. Real wages are stagnating across the OECD, not just in Britain, and are falling for the growing precariat, which is also losing non-wage benefits, access to the commons and from a punitive welfare system, fatally flawed by means-testing and the inevitable behaviour-testing that is being made vicious by the woefully misnamed Universal Credit. The economically illiterate austerity strategy has only made matters worse. Millions of people in Britain are economically insecure and at risk of absolute poverty. Nearly two-thirds of those in poverty are in jobs or in households with someone in a job. It is a bad joke to say work is the best route out of poverty. A new distribution system is needed. Real wages will not rise by much, full-time well-paying jobs will not become the norm, the precariat will continue to grow. Progressives should stop pretending marginal adjustments would rectify the trends and should offer a transformative economic strategy instead. The key lies in capturing the rentier income for the precariat and others facing economic insecurities. Contrary to Keynes’ prediction of the ‘euthanasia of the rentier’, rent-seeking will not disappear in a global market economy, and stronger anti-trust regulations would only have limited effect given that much of the rent is going to multinationals. Instead, we must find ways of redistributing – or ‘recycling’ – the rent. Sooner or later it will be seen that the only sensible way of reducing the widespread economic insecurity is by gradually building up a basic income as an anchor of a new distribution system. It is no panacea, and must be built alongside better public services and supplementary benefits for those with special needs. But the left has offered no alternative way of providing everybody with basic economic security. If it does not offer that, it will only win elections by default. The primary reasons for moving in the direction of a basic income are <em>ethical</em>. If we accept private inherited wealth – ‘something for nothing’ – then we should accept the principle of ‘social dividends’ on inherited public wealth, created by many past generations. It would also compensate those without the lucky talents rewarded in a market economy, and compensate all commoners for the enclosure and privatisation of our commons. There are other justice rationales, discussed <a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/304706/basic-income/">elsewhere</a>. It would also enhance personal freedom – something those on the ‘left’ should want, but which it allowed the ‘right’ to claim in the past century. The emancipatory value of a basic income would exceed its monetary value, unlike any viable alternative. It would also provide everybody with basic security, not only a human right but also a superior public good – you having it would not deprive me of it, and all of us having it would increase its value for all of us. It is affordable. It should start at a low level, as the funding is built up. Unlike means-testing, which suffers from huge exclusion errors and is stigmatising, the progressivity should be ensured by clawing it back from the affluent by modest increases in income tax. By contrast, ‘targeting’ by means tests has notorious exclusion errors and is stigmatising. But the main funding should come from levies on all revenue from use of our commons, which are forms of rent, starting with a Land Value Tax, ecological levies and a wealth-transfer levy, plus rolling back the 1,156 tax reliefs paid out each year. The 209 principal tax reliefs, most of which are very regressive, amount to over £400 billion of tax revenue foregone each year. As a long-time advocate, I am convinced there is a <em>perfect storm</em> of factors making it not only desirable to start building a basic income, but vital. The perfect storm includes economic insecurity, the suffering from the folly of austerity, the loss of freedom entailed in the vindictive Universal Credit that is creating incredible suffering across the land, the disruptive effects of the digital revolution and those impending robots, and the political dangers represented by a society in which growing numbers feel a sense of relative deprivation – ‘licking at the windows’, as the saying goes, of a consumerist society in which they cannot participate. Unless progressives offer a vision of societal economic security, more people will either opt out politically or vote for neo-fascist populists like Trump, Boris Johnson, Victor Orban or the League in Italy. Fiddling with paternalistic placebos such as ‘job guarantees’ or regressive productivity-depressing tax credits will merely allow the fire to grow. It may take a journey of up to a decade to construct an adequate basic income. But there is no sensible alternative. If we are not scared by the forces behind Trump and Brexit, we should be. And there is a lovely secret inherent to a basic income, as our pilots and other evidence have shown. A basic income would promote work that is not labour – ecological, community and care work – that we should all want, and which we need. If a basic income created a few free riders (which every transfer system does), that would be nothing compared with what exist now and it would cost far more to chase them down than let them be. In short, I plead with friends on the left to took afresh at what would be an emancipatory policy. It would not be a panacea but should be integral to a progressive strategy to revive the Enlightenment values that are the hallmark of a good society. <em>This article is part of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/making-another-economic-future-possible-100-policies-end-austerity/">‘100 Policies to End Austerity’</a>&nbsp;series in collaboration with the&nbsp;<a href="https://progressiveeconomyforum.com/">Progressive Economy Forum</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk wagtail WP imported Guy Standing Tue, 18 Sep 2018 08:30:30 +0000 Guy Standing 119694 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The constitutional turn: liberty and the co-operative state https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/dan-hind/constitutional-turn-liberty-and-co-operative-state <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Anglo-American left needs to start taking constitutional change seriously.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Discurso_funebre_pericles.PNG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Discurso_funebre_pericles.PNG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="367" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nineteenth-century painting by Philipp Foltz depicting the Athenian politician Pericles delivering his famous funeral oration in front of the Assembly</span></span></span></strong></p> <div> <strong>This piece was commissioned by the <a href="https://democracycollaborative.org/ ">Democracy Collaborative</a> in Washington, DC as part of its Next System Project and is reproduced here with permission. The original is online <a href="https://thenextsystem.org/learn/stories/constitutional-turn-liberty-and-cooperative-state">here</a>. </strong></div><div><strong><br /></strong></div><p><em>If you don’t like state socialism and you don’t like corporate capitalism, what do you want?</em></p> <p>Gar Alperovitz</p> <h2><strong>1. Introduction</strong></h2> <p>The English-speaking left has long tended to neglect questions of constitutional design. The dominant Labourist and Social Democratic currents (including American left-liberalism) have focused on securing material benefits for the working class through the institutions of the existing state. The junior, but still influential, revolutionary Marxist tradition treats the state as a fortification to be stormed. Big government alternates uneasily with the withering away of the state.<a href="#_edn1">[1]</a></p> <p>But there is more to the left than fiscal redistribution or revolution. In what follows I will make the case for a politics of liberation in which the state becomes a site for radical reform. The aim is to flesh out an account of a possible socialist commonwealth that takes full account of its political dimension – the extent to which national economies are produced and reproduced by the state.<a href="#_edn2">[2]</a> The left’s ‘institutional turn’ extends from the economy to the state and becomes a ‘constitutional turn’. </p><p>I do not propose far-reaching constitutional change in Britain or the United States<a href="#_edn3">[3]</a> because the current arrangements are irrational or anachronistic.<a href="#_edn4">[4]</a> On the contrary, these arrangements are, for the most part, rational and frighteningly up-to-date. Monopoly, rent-seeking and debt expansion are made possible by the prevailing state form. Steep inequality and relations of manipulation in the state are reflected in the corporate sector. Attempts to establish a co-operative and egalitarian economy without far-reaching changes to the structure of the state are highly unlikely to succeed. This does not necessarily mean that America must redraft its written constitution altogether, or that Britain must, finally, submit itself to one. But it does mean we need to develop a constitutional imagination.</p> <p>Doing so means stripping away the obscurity and confusion about the state created by time, technological change and elite chicanery. For example, the current state architecture hands day-to-day control of money creation, and hence of the distribution of effective demand in much of the economy, to privileged institutions in the private sector. This arrangement contributes directly to steepening inequality and to patterns of development that generate human and environmental catastrophe. A core function of the state has been hived off and rendered almost entirely enigmatic. Bank lending flows into asset purchases and the public are left to wonder at the speculative bubbles that foam up impressively in an otherwise stagnant economy. Similarly, a minority of private individuals and public officials have captured the public mechanisms that convert geographical space into land. <br /> The funding of research and development by the state takes place out of sight and tracks the needs of favoured insiders. Public investments are routinely converted into private profit centres.</p> <p>The majority take on ever more debt to secure access to housing and a rising share of our income is taken by interest and payments for basic services.<a href="#_edn5">[5]</a> Demand for luxury goods becomes ever more ferocious while the majority experience stagnant or declining living standards.<a href="#_edn6">[6]</a> Much of what we call ‘the economy’ is made up of pseudo-markets in which the state confers coercive powers on its favoured partners. Money and land are treated as simple commodities when they are anything but. We must pay those who have captured the process by which they are created, or face ruin.</p> <p>Safeguarding the monstrous triplets of interest, land rent and monopoly is a system of communications that methodically excludes the public as a body capable of discovering and refining its opinions over time. As we shall see, this exclusion in the United States was deliberate and was intended to limit the power of popular constituencies relative to representatives and holders of wealth. In both countries, we depend on elected officials and the rich to organize public speech on our behalf. Not surprisingly the temptation for politicians and billionaire media owners to collude is all but irresistible. Both sides tolerate the presumption and hypocrisy of the other as the price they pay for their own, unforgiveable, eminence.&nbsp; </p><p>If we are to change all this we must take seriously the material consequences of state structures, and of the speech and silence that surround them and give them form. More than this, we need to design institutions that establish meaningful democratic oversight and control over the state’s conduct. And in this respect it is vital to grasp the significance of any given distribution of knowledge as it relates to credit, property and the communications system itself. How can a reforming administration counter the threat of a ‘capital strike’ if we do not understand that financial capital can be replaced at will by a central bank? How can it house its people if we remain innocent of the wiles of the landowner-credit combine that drip-feeds the supply of housing and drives up prices?</p> <p>Arguing for a constitutional turn is not a matter of idealism. The simple expansion of an unreformed state to secure progressive ends is not straightforwardly appealing to those whose encounters with that state are often fraught and sometimes frightening. This is something the right has always understood and exploited, often to great effect, as in the Thatcher-Reagan era, when anti-government rhetoric resonated powerfully with at least some working-class and middle-class voters. A programme to democratise the state, to render it both more comprehensible and more responsive to popular constituencies, will make the left more electorally appealing, especially as the material consequences of such a programme become clear.</p> <p>In the absence of a constitutional programme, social democrats can seem like well-meaning aristocrats, who seek to use the existing state form as instrument of uplift for the masses. Either they propose universal benefits that, in the main circuits of communication, will be represented as a threat to the dynamism of the private sector or they offer policies ‘targeted’ at ‘the most vulnerable’ that promise little in the way of immediate benefit to the mass of the population. Either way, their willingness to work within the terms of the prevailing order transforms them from representatives of the majority of the population into an estate of the realm, somewhat more important than the charities, but junior to the parties of property and the conservative common sense. They are content to submit polite requests for a slightly larger piece of the pie on behalf of those who have a good claim to all of it. &nbsp;</p> <p>A focus on state reform along the lines set out here will allow the left to set aside its reputation for paternalistic condescension. Proposals to supplement the institutional array of the state tap into, and help articulate, a widespread longing for liberation from abusive employment, from oppressive debts, from insecurity and from the psychological warfare that presents itself as news and entertainment. </p><p>One of the most consequential fictions offered up in the circuits of widely disseminated speech is the idea that constitutional design is distinct from, and somehow less significant than, bread-and-butter issues of redistribution. The bailout of the banks in 2007-8 should have alerted us to the state’s role in determining who gets bread and butter, and how much. State structures determine how property and money are brought into existence as social facts, how knowledge about these and related matters is distributed, and hence who wields power and amasses wealth. Only a new model state will enable the left to deliver fully on its promises to improve material conditions for the majority.<a href="#_edn7">[7]</a></p> <p>The state now presides over a radically different regime of communications, credit and property than that envisaged at the Philadelphia Convention.<a href="#_edn8">[8]</a> These three elements must be brought back under the supervision and ultimate control of the public if we are to make good on our ambitions to live in a democracy. In what follows I discuss some of the principles and institutions of state design that were central to the pre-modern political imagination and to the lived experience of classical democracy. <a href="#_edn9">[9]</a> I then set out how these institutions and principles might contribute to the design of a more egalitarian, and more fully democratic state, in which the great incubators of unaccountable power can be dismantled. It ends with some remarks on how the community wealth-building movement presents us with an opportunity to make the design of a democratic state into a matter of general deliberation.<br /> <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h2><strong>2. Domination and the Right to Liberty </strong></h2> <p>I have already noted some of the practical advantages for the left of bringing the state into play as a site for radical transformation. Instead of a state that interferes in the productive economy in order to bankroll its pet schemes, as in the conservative caricature, the reformed state acts openly and frankly to create and replace markets in accordance with the decisions of a free people. As this implies, the constitutional turn requires the left to reclaim the language of freedom from its reactionary enemies. And so it is to freedom that we now turn.</p> <p>We tend to use the word freedom in quite a specific sense. For the most part, we understand it as the absence of interference. In the words of Thomas Hobbes, ‘a free-man is he, that in those things, which by his strength and wit he is able to do, is not hindered to doe what he has a will to do.’<a href="#_edn10">[10]</a> Hobbes himself tried to offer a purely materialist account of freedom, in which only the behaviour of matter in motion would be needed to account for the concept.<a href="#_edn11">[11]</a> His followers have pretty much given up on this ambition but they usually allow only the most immediate and apparently substantial psychological states into their account of what it means to be unfree. In Henry Sidgewick’s words, we are free if we act without ‘physical coercion or confinement’ or menaces that threaten us with ‘painful consequences.’<a href="#_edn12">[12]</a></p> <p>So if no one is physically stopping, or forbidding, you from doing something, you are free to do it. If you are prevented from doing something, by anyone, then you are unfree in this respect. It is a kind of quantity theory of liberty: the more interference you encounter, the less free you are. On this account, state interference is always a diminution of freedom. We might accept it on pragmatic grounds but we cannot escape the fact that our freedom is reduced. And the nature of the state makes no difference; democracies can leave us less free than autocracies.</p> <p>This runs counter to the account of freedom set out in Roman law. In this tradition, freedom is contrasted with slavery. Slaves are those who are ‘within the power’ of someone else (<em>in aliena potestate sunt</em>, in the words of the <em>Digest</em> of Roman law).<a href="#_edn13">[13]</a>&nbsp; If we are in someone’s else power, they <em>can</em> interfere at will in our affairs, even if they choose not to. They relate to us as a <em>dominus</em>, a dominating master. They don’t have to exert psychological influence over us, or control us physically, as long as they have the power to do so. As we shall see, we do not even need to know that someone is able to interfere in our thoughts or actions for them to achieve a degree of mastery over us.</p> <p>In this way of thinking about liberty the key issue is not the quantity of interference, but its quality. We can experience interference and remain free, so long as the interference is not arbitrary and we consent to it in some meaningful sense; lawful authority is not the same as <em>aliena potestas</em>.<a href="#_edn14">[14]</a> Similarly, if we experience no actual interference but are vulnerable to it at the whim of someone else, we are substantially unfree. From this point of view, it is not coherent to claim that the individual can be free even if they live in an authoritarian or even dictatorial regime. The form of the state is crucial since, as Quentin Skinner puts it, ‘if you live under any form of government that allows for the exercise of prerogative or discretionary powers, you will already be living as a slave.’<a href="#_edn15">[15]</a></p> <p>The idea that a line extends from left to right, from equality to liberty, is disrupted by this notion of freedom. Highly regulated societies can enjoy something approaching a perfect liberty if everyone subject to the regulations consents to them, and they are applied in a non-arbitrary way. And as we shall see, low levels of physical violence and coercive intimidation can radically reduce our freedom if they are applied arbitrarily, especially if they are supplemented by opportunities for interference that escape our conscious awareness. For while the legally acknowledged power of a Roman master over a slave was in principle absolute, this does not exhaust the possibilities for relations of domination.</p> <p>The existing constitutional order does little to secure our freedom in the sense of undominated existence. As citizens we do not enjoy a right to productive land and resources, income, or housing. Most of us therefore depend on our employers for subsistence and often have little or no protection if they decide to treat us unjustly. Nor is there any rule-bound way to ensure that our social standing correlates with service to the community. If we seek public status we are at the mercy of intermediaries who can act capriciously to deny us the good reputation that our fellow citizens might otherwise be glad to grant us. Meanwhile, both public authorities and private magnates can meddle in our lives in quite arbitrary ways, whether they choose to do so or not.<a href="#_edn16">[16]</a>&nbsp; </p><p>The republic is the state form that seeks to secure for its citizens the right to liberty as freedom from domination. It works on the understanding that only citizens of a free state can be free; the right to liberty is an individual right that entails a form of the state. In a democratic republic every adult is a citizen and formal political equality is given substance by our equal ownership of the state. Making good on this right requires powers to shape the consequential discussions that surround and make sense of the state, and to speak out against efforts at domination.<a href="#_edn17">[17]</a> Even if this individual right entails a set of unfamiliar collective institutions we should not forget that it is a right.<a href="#_edn18">[18]</a> </p> <p>As long as we depend on the arbitrary will of another for our subsistence then it is hard to claim that we are free. While some of us would be able to find alternative employment in the event of our being dismissed, or of leaving a job after being harassed or otherwise mistreated, some would struggle, and some would suffer substantial harm. We cannot know for sure in advance which category we fall into. This suggests that welfare payments or alternative forms of employment ought to be available as of right, not only for the benefit of those who find themselves without work but to protect all workers from the insults and injustices of their employers. &nbsp;It further suggests that workers have a right to organize to reduce their vulnerability to arbitrary power in the workplace. &nbsp;Indeed, a fully achieved democratic republic would want to establish workplace democracy in an economy where individuals could always secure independent access to the means of subsistence.<a href="#_edn19">[19]</a></p> <p>This general right to be free from domination has implications for the extent and nature of state activity. Without a general right to healthcare we are not free to decide whether to take a job, or to leave it. The overwhelming need to cover existing conditions, or to secure treatment for dependents, or to hedge against future risks, will make us vulnerable to pressure from our employers that need not ever be stated to be real. Here we can see the limitations of the liberal tradition’s attempt to understand unfreedom in terms of physical interference and coercive threats. Given that we are all vulnerable to sickness and injury, if we know that effective treatments can be withheld from us if we lack material means, we are in a significant sense unfree since we are compelled to ‘freely’ choose a condition of dependence.<a href="#_edn20">[20]</a></p> <p>Drawing on the Roman account of liberty, Philip Pettit claims that the power to interfere arbitrarily in the life of another is usually recognised as such by both parties. The resources used, financial power, political office, social connections and so on, ‘tend to be prominent and detectable’, such that ‘where one person has any dominating power over another, in virtue of an inequality of such resources, it is a matter of common knowledge that that is so.’<a href="#_edn21">[21]</a> But he acknowledges that this is not always the case: </p><p>"The exception is the case where one person or group is in a position to exercise backroom manipulation, whether manipulation of the options, manipulation of the expected payoffs, or manipulation of the actual payoffs. […] Where domination is achieved by such means, it will not be a matter of common knowledge, unlike most other cases, that in this respect some people fall under the power of others."<a href="#_edn22">[22]</a>&nbsp; </p><p>It would be a mistake to treat manipulation as a marginal deviation from the ordinary explicitness of relations of arbitrary power. Manipulation is different in kind from arbitrary interference that is understood as such by those who experience it. In its pure form it is not a threat of hostilities or open aggression; it is a state of war in which one party does not know that hostilities have begun. The mere possibility that we are being dominated in this way ought to be a pressing, perhaps the overriding, concern for anyone who aspires to be free. <a href="#_edn23">[23]</a></p> <p>Even when domination is experienced consciously by both author and object, neither necessarily understands it <em>as such</em>. Victims (and indeed perpetrators) can be manipulated into thinking that their condition is natural, inevitable, or a justifiable consequence of personal vices or virtues – and that therefore the interference is not arbitrary. Something like this can be seen in the dogma surrounding contract law, where an individual whose life would disintegrate without paid work is treated as the equal of a corporation commanding effectively limitless resources.</p> <p>Manipulation is on hand to protect other forms of arbitrary power in a political system that, at least in theory, offers redress through civic action. People will not mobilise against more obtrusive forms of domination if they have been persuaded to view them as incorrigible facts of life. And there are immediate rewards from being manipulated, even if our being manipulated reduces the chance of a bigger reward later. It is a kind of comfort for the restive worker to believe that there is no alternative to the existing order. But this belief can make political agitation seem like a waste of time. Racism and sexism offer the individual a taste of dominating power, even though they make building coalitions against a shared domination far more difficult. The persuasiveness of a manipulative approach is entangled in the pleasures it affords.</p> <p>Manipulation does not only bear down on the powerless. Elected officials and civil servants are subject to enormous efforts at corrupt persuasion. Moreover, those who are not themselves manipulated directly can nevertheless become its victims. Once large numbers of citizens have been deceived into thinking that a given course of action is impossible or would be disastrous, their false beliefs will limit our political options, regardless of our beliefs and preferences. And of course, it is always possible that we have been manipulated into believing things that radically limit the options of others. For example, we don’t have to be misinformed about events in the world, if we are misinformed about what other people think about those events. I might grasp the significance of the threat of climate change but also be manipulated into thinking that most people are indifferent. This will tend to discourage me from seeking to build a consensus for the kinds of interventions in the productive process that become more urgent with every passing year.</p> <p>Successful manipulation by its nature escapes detection, at least for a time. But despite its self-effacement, we have ample evidence that it takes place on a vast scale.<a href="#_edn24">[24]</a> If we draw the sensible inference, that the attempts we see constitute only a fraction of the total, manipulation is not just a particular and unusual kind of domination. It is an enabling context that prepares us for, and reconciles us to, a much more general unfreedom. Indeed, it seems likely that the current political and economic settlement, best described as a kind of impersonal feudalism, only survives thanks to an ongoing and pervasive process of manipulation. We cannot dismiss the possibility that we are in the grip of invisible powers, especially since most of us live in an arrangement of money-credit and land that we do not understand, and that delivers much of our lifetime income to people we will never meet. <a href="#_edn25">[25]</a></p> <p>The general right to freedom from domination entails a range of subsidiary rights, some of which I have described above.<a href="#_edn26">[26]</a> It also entails a form of the state that protects the citizen from manipulation and other, more explicit, types of domination. In the next two sections I will set out some of the institutional features of this state. I begin with the systems of communications, since a citizen body that is not conversant with itself and lacks defined powers of oversight and censure will sooner or later be manipulated into a more general condition of dependence.</p> <h2><strong>3. Reviving the Assembly</strong></h2> <p>How then are we to address the problem of manipulation? Given how pervasive it is in modern systems of government, we should perhaps begin by considering they differ from their ancient prototypes. James Madison was in no doubt as to how they differed. Writing in defence of the recently drafted federal constitution in the Spring of 1788 he explained that:</p> <p>"[…] the principle of representation was neither unknown to the ancients nor wholly overlooked in their political constitutions. The true distinction between these and the American governments lies <em>in the total exclusion of the people in their collective capacity</em>, from any share in the <em>latter</em>, and not in the <em>total exclusion of the representatives of the people</em> from the administration of the <em>former</em>."<a href="#_edn27">[27]</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>In Britain and the United States today the assembled citizenry has no formal powers. Each citizen enjoys the power to vote for representatives, but assembly, which had been both the sovereign political authority in Athens and its apex communicative form, does not exist as a state institution. Given the role that mediated communications play in successful manipulation the significance of this ‘true distinction’ cannot be overstated. The absence of the assembly from the constitutional repertoire means that we have tended not to think about it and its significance for programmes of modern reform. Central to our concerns is the excavation of a principle that was central to the operations of classical democracy and has been all but obliterated in contemporary political thought: <em>isegoria</em>.</p> <p>The word <em>isegoria</em> literally means ‘equality in the assembly’. At the beginning of each session, an official would ask ‘who wants to speak?’ and every citizen had the same right to do so. The principle that all citizens could take a turn in presenting information and arguments to the citizen body was central to what the Greeks meant when they talked about Athenian system of government. Herodotus uses the word when trying to account for Athens’ victories over Persia’s universal monarchy.<a href="#_edn28">[28]</a> Later, Polybius invokes it when explaining the success of the Achaean League in the final years of Greek independence:</p> <p>"It seems to me that the reason is that one would be hard put to find equality in speech [<em>isegoria</em>] and the right to speak one’s mind in assembly [<em>parrhesia</em>] – in short, the system and principles of true democracy – in a purer form than among the Achaeans."<a href="#_edn29">[29]</a></p> <p>As far as Madison was concerned, the exclusion of the people ‘in their collective capacity’ was a good thing since direct democracy is structurally doomed to collapse into chaos: ‘In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.’<a href="#_edn30">[30]</a>&nbsp; </p><p>We now know what a system characterised by representation unchecked by assembly looks like. In America, the pressure to rationalise and regiment public opinion for the purposes of national expansion has led to a substantial integration of the security state and the major media operations. Military technology bleeds into civilian use, along with the state-of-the-art in persuasion techniques. Economic development and planning, directed from the centre, have privileged large corporations over co-operatives, family farms and small businesses, and promoted the suburbs over the self-governing small towns and cities. All this tends to undermine the informal culture of political association that was so striking to Tocqueville and that now struggles to survive outside the heart-breaking historical re-enactments of the New Hampshire primaries.&nbsp; </p><p>Apart from occasional spasms of attention, as in post-Watergate America, this condominium of intelligence agencies and corporate interests in the economy and the media passes largely unremarked in the representative institutions of the state. Elected politicians mostly know to leave this zone of social silence well alone when they are not enthusiastically working to enhance their status within it. In Britain, if anything, the decay is even more pronounced. A lavishly funded public broadcaster takes its cues from hard right newspapers. In both countries, the electorate could all be philosophers and would still struggle to understand, much less change, their circumstances. Political mobilisation against the elite consensus in Parliament and Congress and their auxiliaries in the media is still possible, but it is punishingly difficult.</p> <p>Attempts to revive the assembly sooner or later run into a familiar objection. The assembly form is all very well in a city state of a few tens of thousands of citizens supported by slave labour. But it cannot possibly operate at the national level in an ordinarily populous industrial state like the United Kingdom, let alone in a continental power like the United States.<a href="#_edn31">[31]</a> While plausible on its face, this conflates the administrative and communicative functions of the assembly. We do not need to preside over all the details of government. But we do need to be able to shape public speech in ways that are independent of those who possess office or wealth. Unless we can speak to one another as equals and develop ideas and bodies of knowledge without open or secret interference from political or economic superiors we will not be able to coordinate successfully against oligarchic power.</p> <p>The practical revival of the communicative assembly consists in this; the allocation of resources on an egalitarian basis to support the production of effectually public speech. This is the most direct way to revive <em>isegoria</em>, understood as equality in public speech. In concrete terms this would require that the constitution guarantee each citizen a sum of money to spend as they wish on journalism, research and analysis, as well as on the publications and communication platforms that organize and share information.</p> <p>The sum available to each citizen ought to have an objective quality, so that it can be calculated annually in such a way as to maintain a proper balance between the democratic voice and the combined efforts of corporate public relations, lobbying, advertising and media production. If we say that a thousand citizens ought to be able to support the work of one communications worker at a median wage, then in the UK this would require the annual amount would to be set at around £26.5 per citizen in the first year, for a total of £1.325 billion. This would allow a town with 50,000 adult residents to support a local news co-operative as well as independent investigative reporters working the same beat and academics with research interests that are useful to local decision-making, while also contributing to national and transnational publications and projects.<a href="#_edn32">[32]</a></p> <p>This money would flow to individual researchers and journalists, to companies and co-operatives in ways that can’t be predicted in advance. But it would possible for citizens to support investigative journalism in areas where the existing editorial culture is hesitant or hostile – pre-eminently investigations into the corporate and political sectors and the links between them. Freed from structural vulnerability to advertisers and elected officials, the journalist would be, in quite a precise sense, a public servant. The money could also support a media production sector in which design, animation, videography and other disciplines would serve the communicative needs of the public.&nbsp; </p><p>At least as important as this discretionary spend by individuals and self-organizing groups is the maintenance of a shared platform where citizens can share journalism they fund with others, discuss its significance (or otherwise), and plan further courses of action. In the model outlined here, the same platforms used to allocate funds would be used as a central location for publishing the results. We would share stories and discoveries we found interesting as we currently do on Facebook and Twitter but we would do so in an environment that was transparent about its treatment of material. The technology would be subject to general oversight and any algorithms used would be open to discussion and revision.<a href="#_edn33">[33]</a> Each of us would have some defined power to raise the profile of particular pieces of work on this shared platform, and perhaps push it onto public broadcasting channels.<a href="#_edn34">[34]</a> This platform would protect people’s anonymity where appropriate, and so allow groups that are subject to disproportionate hostility an opportunity to develop collective forms of knowledge that can then be shared more widely. The number of people engaged on the platform would compel the attention of those who hold, or aspire to hold, public office. It becomes a space where democratic desires are discovered and refined in close proximity to the institutions of government.</p> <p>The communicative assembly thus brought into being does not need to meet <em>en masse</em>. Modern technology means that the work of commissioning and assessing publicly significant speech can be undertaken by each of us in our own time. But the possession of this equally distributed power becomes an inducement to political sociability. Instead of being corralled into separate demographics by and for expert manipulators we can discover ourselves as citizens of the same, communicative republic. The virtual assembly generates countless online and face-to-face assemblies that range from a conversation with a friend to constitutionally sophisticated groups organized by geography, identity, interest, and so on. <a href="#_edn35">[35]</a></p> <p>While Madison thought that the people should prevail over their rulers when motivated by ‘justice and the general good’<a href="#_edn36">[36]</a>, he was terrified at the thought of national majorities possessed by ‘a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project.’<a href="#_edn37">[37]</a> In a system that revives democratic assembly in modern conditions, no such protection for the propertied is possible. As Madison himself noted with something approaching panic, ‘a communication and concert results from the form of government itself.’<a href="#_edn38">[38]</a> Property itself again becomes an object of general deliberation, whether it take the form of simple possession, or the much more elaborate forms of ownership recognised by the modern state.</p> <p>The alienation of the people from decision-making, their dependence on elected representatives and the wealthy for political information, their permanent exclusion from the production of public speech, and hence from the substance of the state, are challenged in important ways by the establishment of a communicative assembly along the lines proposed here. Manipulation remains possible, must always remain possible, but the means to expose and defeat it are much closer to hand.<strong> </strong>And this power to challenge domination at its most subtle and potent can also be directed at its most visible and artless forms.<strong><br /> </strong></p><h2><strong>4. Articulating Democratic Power</strong></h2> <p>The revival of <em>isegoria</em> as a central, indeed defining, feature of functioning democracy has important implications for the structure of communications. The aim is to restore the communicative functions of the classical assembly in large states where mediation is unavoidable. To be clear, this means making each citizen equally able to make themselves audible in such a way that their concerns, interests and claims become and remain matters of public business. This is not a simple question of giving everyone an equal opportunity to speak.<a href="#_edn39">[39]</a> It requires that we all have an equal power to shape the contents of public speech.</p> <p>But if we want to democratise the constitution, more is required than equality-in-speech. In Athens most public offices were filled by random selection, from a pool that included all citizens. I want to explain now why I think that a state aspiring to be democratic should inscribe equality-for-office at every level of administration and in every category of its operations. The idea is not to do away with elections. Some offices require technical abilities or experience and election does not seem like a terrible way of filling them, even if at times it is hard to imagine a worse person for an elected office than the person holding it. But it does not follow that public office should be <em>monopolised</em> by those who, for whatever reason, manage to win an election. Indeed, if representation is to retain its authority, it will have to be supplemented by more properly democratic institutional forms.<a href="#_edn40">[40]</a></p> <p>There are three related ways in which selection-by-lot (‘sortition’) seems particularly promising. The first we might characterise as <em>articulating the assembly</em>; the second, <em>the invigilation of elites</em>; the third, <em>instruction of the individual in government</em>.</p> <p>Modern advocates of sortition sometimes emphasise the role it can play in improving elite decision-making.<a href="#_edn41">[41]</a> It’s true that randomly selected panels can provide elected officials with important information about what ‘ordinary people’ think. They can even provide novel forms of analysis and insight. Political thought from Aristotle onwards has noted that ‘the many’ can make better judgments than ‘the few’:</p> <p>"For even where there are many people, each has some share of virtue and practical wisdom; and when they are brought together, just as in the mass they become as it were one man with many pairs of feet and hands and many senses, so also do they become one in regard to character and intelligence."<a href="#_edn42">[42]</a></p> <p>But while the idea that juries can assist legislators and executive officers is attractive to elites, juries are much more important as devices for improving public understanding. By taking individuals from the citizen body in a way that is roughly proportional, the juries become an assembly-in-miniature, a space where deliberation is again characterised by <em>isegoria</em>. No one is there because of some special merit or eminence. They are there because they are citizens, and they happened to be called for service. The conclusions they draw provide other citizens with one account of what they would come to believe, given the time and resources, after detailed study of some matter. &nbsp;In the context of the mediated assembly, juries serve the citizen body first, and elected officials second.</p> <p>A democratic constitution would establish large, permanent juries to oversee departments of government and public bodies such as the police and the central bank. Each jury would be comprised of at least thirty citizens who would be chosen by lot to serve one-year terms. Their duties would take up a few hours a week at median pay and members could apply for more money if they wished to spend more time on their work.<a href="#_edn43">[43]</a> They would interview elected representatives and officials regularly. They would act as a venue for reports of dereliction of duty, bullying and criminal wrongdoing in the institutions of the state. Whistle-blowers would be able to appeal to them when the chain of command had become corrupt. Their published statements would be protected by a form of legal privilege and they would have the power to initiate impeachment and recall procedures, and to commend those who had assisted the citizen body. Their work would be made publicly available and promoted through publicly owned digital and broadcast assets according to a defined protocol. Each jury would be served by a secretariat that would ensure that its work was accessible to researchers and interested citizens. Special provision would be made for them to communicate with other oversight juries, and with their replacements at the end of each year.</p> <p>These standing juries would be able to investigate subjects in depth and make their findings generally available. Media institutions would be able to use this material to inform their investigative work, analysis and advocacy. And juries would also oversee the governance of the public media funding platform and the wider sector. Media organizations that misused public funds or behaved irresponsibly in other ways could be publicly censured by these juries. As citizens we would still be free to fund them, but we would do so knowing that a group of ordinarily disinterested citizens had more or less powerful objections to our doing so. This would not prevent unsavoury individuals or groups from getting their hands on public money, but it would make it more difficult, and would act as an important barrier to their achieving wider publicity for the material they produced. It is one thing for a panel of appointed regulators to raise concerns about a media organization. It is quite another if a body of citizens does so. This combined with the fact that media institutions will be subject to investigation by journalists and researchers funded by the <em>isegoria</em> powers, will make the media far more accountable as well as free.<a href="#_edn44">[44]</a></p> <p>Citizens could also use public money to commission temporary juries to investigate issues of concern. Government always tends to produce blind-spots and much that matters happens in the gaps between forms of organized attentiveness. If a defined number of individuals wished to allocate funds to a temporary jury of inquiry, it would be duly convened. No constitution can predict all eventualities and the power to establish juries for limited periods through the powers associated with <em>isegoria</em> (and to create new standing juries through a simple, ‘ordinary’ process of amendment) will go some way towards maintaining a proper flexibility in the channels of general communication.</p> <p>These juries of inquiry would give flesh-and-blood expression to the assembly as a feature of the constitution. They would enable to the citizenry to retain control of an agenda otherwise vulnerable to hijack in conditions of real or pretended emergency, or subversion by those who enjoy superior resources or an information edge. They would do this through their ability to ‘slow down time’, to step back from the press of events and return to the ongoing discussion of public business with information that deserves a hearing since it seems noteworthy to a group of people that can plausibility stand in for the rest of us. In matters such as money-finance, state-led research and development, taxation, corporate governance, and land and property, the pressure to distort public speech to maintain existing structures of power becomes all but overwhelming. Juries of inquiry could push back against this pressure in the interests of a more complete general understanding.&nbsp; </p><p>This leads us to the second point. As Oliver Dowlen notes in his vitally important work <em>The Political Potential of Sortion</em>, ‘the most significant and fundamental reason that lot is used in the selection of public officers, <em>is to inhibit the power that any individual or group might seek over that process of selection.</em>’<a href="#_edn45">[45]</a> In Dowlen’s account, the lot introduces a blind, ‘arational’ and disinterested break in the process of selection and ‘has the effect of breaking up concentrations of personal or sectional extra-constitutional power within the body politic and defending the polity’s status as a shared institution.’<a href="#_edn46">[46]</a> </p> <p>Elected officials and party bureaucrats always have considerable scope for manipulation. Even if reform meant that the victors of elections could not manage the media system in partnership with private magnates and state bureaucrats, as in the current constitutional order, their position creates plenty of opportunities to shape outcomes, through appeals to national security, claims to authority on the grounds of specialist knowledge, and so on. Private magnates also enjoy disproportionate power to shape general understanding. The use of mini-publics selected by lot cuts through efforts to shield legislators and executive officers from meaningful oversight by placing citizens at key points in the structures of the state, with an explicit brief to oversee their conduct. As well as bringing what is now jealously guarded knowledge into the circuits of general discussion, juries confront powerful functionaries with a ‘public point of view.’ As a result it will be much more difficult for politicians to invent and maintain a version of public opinion that suits them.<a href="#_edn47">[47]</a>&nbsp; </p><p>Dowlen himself has argued for the use of juries use at constituency level to hear complaints against elected officials and to initiate recall procedures where they consider them appropriate.<a href="#_edn48">[48]</a> And this invigilating role for citizens-qua-citizens becomes increasingly important as the state becomes more active in economic planning and extends its reach from basic research and development through to the design and application of new technologies. The communicative assembly has the potential to replace some, perhaps a great deal of, production for private consumption by way of the advertising mystique with the collective discovery and satisfaction of public desires. Instead of being manipulated into wanting what is on offer, we decide on, and co-design a future. </p> <p>But constant public surveillance will be needed if the assembled public and its elected representatives are to make decisions about public investment on the basis of the best information. As Mariana Mazzucato points out, transformative research and development is inherently risky. Some projects, no matter how well managed, will end in failure while some will deliver the expected returns, and some will deliver in ways never imagined at the outset.<a href="#_edn49">[49]</a> But it is vital that new avenues can be opened up, and old ones can be closed if they turn out to be dead ends. And system change can threaten powerful established interests. If we are to address global warming successfully, for example, the citizenry must have the power to ensure that research into new energy infrastructure is not captured by legacy sectors. Similarly, breakthroughs in the human sciences might well destroy the pharmaceutical sector in its current form. The constant intrusion of unapologetic citizens in the machinery of state investment is the best way I can see to keep public business on the scale required tolerably honest.</p> <p>The threat of corruption is particularly acute in the financial sector. In part this can be addressed by ending the fiction the credit-creating banks are somehow market institutions and bringing the task of money creation back under the control of the state.<a href="#_edn50">[50]</a> But if a network of public lenders overseen by a reformed central bank is to be successful in fostering a dynamic and competitive co-operative sector, it will need to be protected from collusion between banking officials and businesses, regulators, and politicians. In the next few years we will have to use the central bank to direct investment into world-changing technologies and applications if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. But doing so creates important political challenges in the institutional chain that connects democratic direction of investment to the end applications. Therefore, each bank, including the central bank, ought to include one or more juries with the powers outlined above in its governance.</p> <p>State oversight juries and juries of inquiry juries should be drawn from the whole population. Nothing of public concern is in principle above public comprehension. But technical and professional bodies might also want to convene panels of qualified individuals to oversee their activities. From accountancy to the life sciences, the presence of a broader, but still credentialed, population would improve internal regulation and also provide a way to bring specialist debates to the attention of the citizen body. At the moment science in particular mixes the legitimate authority of specialist understanding with gerontocracy and the subtle frauds of accommodation with a wider world of unjustified privilege. Groups that claim privileged status in exchange for their service to the public ought to be engaged in a conversation about the deal they are striking with the rest of us.</p> <p>Similarly, co-operative institutions might want to bring workers and customers into their governance through the use of juries, as well as through measures that reproduce the principles of communicative equality. As I will argue in the next section, the co-operative is not immune to corruption. Both general surveillance and detailed participation are necessary to protect the majority from the minority. And this extension of appointment by lot helps reproduce the democratic ideals of the constitution in the wider society. The juries in government find an echo in the bodies outside it through which most of us experience collective life. Companies, clubs and associations that follow the public lead become laboratories for a certain kind of collective life, in which we learn for ourselves what self-government looks and feels like. In so doing they prepare us for citizenship.<a href="#_edn51">[51]</a></p> <p>This brings us to third benefit. By bringing the citizenry into the workings of the state with defined powers and responsibilities, juries would provide us all with an opportunity to learn about the operations of government through direct and consequential participation. The distance between electors and elected representative is reduced, and citizens are better able to assess the conduct and character of those who govern them. Political knowledge permeates the population. Citizens becomes used to the idea that they possess politically relevant knowledge. Not everyone will serve on a state jury but those who do will be able to share their experiences with friends and family as well as with public media organizations. </p> <p>Furthermore, if, as I propose, juries are integrated with the production and dissemination of public speech they will help citizens-qua-citizens to speak audibly among ourselves about matters of common concern, while drawing on the best available knowledge. The ‘tribunician’ researchers and publishers created by a revival of assembly will be supplemented and assisted in their work by juries embedded in the ordinary business of government and empowered to act as its invigilators. </p> <p>Random selection serves to provide information and experience denied us in elective-judicial systems. As part of a wider institutional array it can play a crucial role in helping us to understand our circumstances, and in developing an agenda for changing them. At the same time juries will reduce the advantages of insider status by bringing the public physically and psychologically closer to the conduct of business. Citizens thus initiated can share their experiences, pursue their interests more effectively, attend to public matters with more discernment, and participate in electoral politics as candidates, party members and voters with greater confidence. </p> <h2><strong>5. The Co-operative State</strong></h2> <p>Beginning from a republican definition of liberty, I have sketched some of the institutional features of a state that would, potentially, create the conditions where such a notion of liberty might be realised in the lives of its citizens. It is a mixed constitution, in that it seeks to combine the universal participation of the communicative assembly with the more focused participation of the juries and integrate both with the existing repertoire of legislature, judiciary and executive. Contrary to appearances, constitutions are much more like collections of ingredients, utensils and applicances than recipe books. I have no wish to pronounce on such details as the exact relationship between the state and the market, except to offer the general principle that only the free state can be trusted to deliver to the minimum conditions for liberty. In many cases it will be up to citizens to use this revised institutional repertoire to push for outcomes that can win majority support.&nbsp; </p><p>But the new institutions I propose will have a direct impact on three areas where the unreformed state currently presides without constitutional justification – money-credit, communications, and property. I have already argued that private control of the currency and of public speech is a recipe for pervasive domination. The establishment of a communicative assembly and the widespread use of random selection in public institutions including the central bank are intended to bring the communications and credit systems firmly back under democratic control. In this section I make some remarks on property and the implications of a new state form for property rights.</p> <p>The framers of the federal constitution were more or less explicit that one of their key objectives was the protection of private property in North America, including the ‘human capital’ of chattel slavery. They have been wildly successful. Even though the simple ownership of other people is no longer permitted America is one of the most unequal countries on the planet and property rights extend deep into human relationships. There is no way that property can remain a naturalised given in a fully democratic constitution. Current property claims still rest on crimes of force and fraud. An enormous effort of enchantment aims to obscure the fact, but Britain’s current distribution of power and wealth has its origins in conquest, civil war and Parliamentary enclosure. In America enclosure was extended on a continental scale and achieved by both chicanery and genocidal war.</p> <p>A democratic republic is the common property of all its citizens. All these citizens enjoy an equal right to liberty. To the extent that private property rights clash with this cardinal right, they cannot be permitted precedence. The origin of property in a republic is the public possession of the state and none of its derivatives can be permitted to threaten it. This is not to call for the abolition of private property. It is merely to register the obvious, that it is a creature of public authority and must be subordinated to it. Perhaps the point can be made most clearly by looking at a particularly successful species of property, the corporation.&nbsp; </p><p>Corporate property was once a closely invigilated exception to the general rule of simple private ownership. Now privately held institutions that enjoy the public privilege of limited liability have become the default form of financial, industrial and commercial organization. They have claimed for themselves rights once thought proper to natural persons and use them to entrench their power yet further. The state treats the corporate sector as its companion and favoured child. The centralised and largely unaccountable state sees itself reflected, even perfected, in this corporate sector. There is no plausible defence of the current arrangements. Even if we accept the doctrine of private property at its most unthinking and forgetful, limited liability makes the corporation like nothing so much as a Christmas tree, on which we are free to hang obligations to the public good as we see fit. </p> <p>Indeed, while we might characterise the modern state as a corporate state, the intention of the reforms proposed here is to recast it as a <em>cooperative state</em>. The commonly held state will be reflected in a variety of commonly held properties that will serve as its partners and interlocutors. Commonly held property played an important role keeping people alive and independent in the eighteenth century. Since then it has often been slandered for being wasteful and inefficient. But the evidence shows that, for example, the explosion in agricultural productivity in Britain took place before enclosure, and that modern common pool resources can be managed sustainably by those who rely on them.<a href="#_edn52">[52]</a> A commonly held state will be better able to recognise and understand co-operatives and other forms of commonly held properties. Corporate property can survive in a cooperative state but it is no longer the default form of collectively held property.</p> <p>A new state form also implies new relationships between the state and the individual and between the state and what we currently call the economy. The corporate state is deeply implicated as a driver of change in the realms of production and exchange. Defence procurement in particular has exercised a pervasive influence on the both the universities and the manufacturing sector. The internet and many of other key technologies can be traced back to government investments. Indeed, the consumer space is in large part a by-product of war-planning. Similarly, the state provides funding for the basic science that underpins modern medicine and energy generation, and is responsible for many of the breakthroughs for which the corporate sector noisily takes credit. This contribution to economic development by taxpayers is usually obscured in the main channels of communication. Bedtime stories about entrepreneurial genius and market competition take the place of a reasoned account of the extent to which contemporary reality is the outcome of patterns of bureaucratic planning and neglect.<a href="#_edn53">[53]</a></p> <p>The co-operative state need not use public resources to develop productive capacities to then hand over to privately held corporations. Instead, it could enable the public to discover for itself the future it wants and then direct investment to create it. Planning will wed socially brokered objectives with the capacities of the most talented and creative individuals available. Scientific reason will become the slave of democratic desire. The fruits of this collective effort of research and development – an effort in which everyone supports the pursuit of agreed goals through their ordinary endeavours and through their civic efforts to understand the present and describe the future they want – provide resources for free use by co-operative enterprises that commit to candour in their dealings with the tax authorities and proper checks and balances in their internal structures. The state can also take an ownership stake in these enterprises, and so over time establish a visible connection between the exertions of the democratically organized citizen body and an increasingly dynamic and ecologically sustainable productive sector.</p> <p>This open-eyed collaboration between the citizen as decision-maker and end-user promises important breakthroughs in our efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation. The state should be treating the energy system as a priority for intervention. If the restoration of equilibrium in the environment destroys the business models of the oil and gas sector, then this is the price of progress. Similarly, a free people, possessed of a free state, will want to secure a general right to housing and public space. This is best achieved by state intervention in the land economy and in the technology of construction. A public communication platform could be used to allow individuals and groups to design and source the material conditions of life and to ensure that new housing is properly integrated with the public domains of healthcare, transport, education and political decision-making. If this destroys the business models of the banks and building companies, and strips landowners of windfall profits, then so be it.<a href="#_edn54">[54]</a></p> <p>As already noted, a developmental state of this kind will be critically reliant on the techniques of general supervision and comprehension made possible by <em>isegoria</em> and random selection. But this does not only apply to state and parastatal bodies. The institutions of the private economy will themselves need to be extensively constitutionalised, that is, structured in ways that resemble the democratic state. A state that mixes general oversight and more detailed and involved forms of democratic participation will naturally privilege those organizations that resemble it, just as the current state privileges secretive and tyrannical corporations. Industrial policy can be used to ensure that the most dynamic and productive elements of the economy either remain in the public sector or are controlled by institutions with a substantially public character.</p> <p>The co-operative sector in the US and the UK is currently weak and marginal. It operates in a legal environment that is hostile and it enjoys little or no state patronage. In a co-operative state co-operatives and other commonly owned and managed institutions will enjoy more security, better access to resources and a chance to develop long-term strategies in partnership with public authorities. Much of the private economy is not subject to market competition in ordinary meaning of the terms. This will remain true when co-operatives replace corporations as the lead economic institutions. Resources that currently pass over to financiers, senior managers and shareholders will be available to support governance structures that equalise access to relevant information and break up elite collusion.</p> <p>I have tried to show how the institutional mechanisms for securing common ownership of the state require the citizen to be more closely engaged in public affairs, at least some of the time. But I hope it is obvious that citizens do not have to confirm to a preordained type to qualify. The constitution I propose will create spaces in which values and concerns that are currently ignored or marginalised can be elaborated and refined. The relationship between paid and unpaid labour, for example, can be explored and brought back into politics on new terms. The experience of minority groups can be given a public character by the exertions of those groups themselves. We do not have to catch the eye or attract the sympathy of our superiors in the communicative order. Instead we can work effectively with our peers across multiple dimensions to make ourselves and our needs part of the content of public business. Social status, too, will be transformed, since renown will track service to the public rather than to property.</p> <h2><strong>6. Conclusion <br /></strong></h2> <p>This then is what a co-operative state and society might look like. The general possession of the state provides the original for reproductions throughout the social field. Local and regional government is shot through with opportunities for effective intervention by an informed public. Market institutions are accountable to workers, customers and the communities in which they operate. Banks combine deep knowledge of their sectors with effective curbs on corruption. Clubs and voluntary associations instruct citizens in the fundamentals of collective organization.<a href="#_edn55">[55]</a></p> <p>There is no guarantee that this co-operative state will be created. The rich and the elected, who together enjoy all but exclusive possession of the existing state form, have little interest in reforms along the lines proposed here. Even politicians who want to increase the power of popular constituencies will tend to concentrate on changes that don’t so directly impinge on their own power to do good. To advocate the ends with no thought to the means is irresponsible. This last section describes a possible mechanism by which the cooperative state might be modelled in miniature and find its way onto a national and transnational political agenda.</p> <p>An important exception to the left’s tendency to limit itself to fiscal redistribution and revolutionary idealism can be found in the community wealth building movement. Working at city level, community wealth building seeks to create commonly held assets such as worker co-operatives and community land trusts, and to support them through public and quasi-public procurement strategies. It stresses the need for democratic control of both the enterprise and of the public institutions that create the conditions in which the enterprise must survive. As such it provides workers and other citizens with a practical education in <em>political economy </em>– in how the economy is a creature of the state that in turn reshapes its creator. Community wealth building has been particularly influential in Cleveland, Ohio and Preston, Lancashire and Britain’s Labour Party has created a Community Wealth Building Unit to help shape its development policy.<a href="#_edn56">[56]</a></p> <p>Before wealth can be distributed it must first be created through action in the world. In this the state is, and must always be, decisive as coordinating agent, regulator, and developer. Its control of cashflows and its ability to determine how geographical space is reconfigured as property make it indispensable. At the same time, through community wealthbuilding the citizenry as whole finds itself confronted with the tasks of institutional design and economic planning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If co-operatives are to succeed and grow they must pay close attention to their constitutional structures, to the distribution of knowledge and the relationship between the majority of workers and the minority in leadership positions, the many and the few. Nominally democratic institutions can all too easily become insular and vulnerable to seduction by corporate capitalist interests and their attendant ideas. A constant effort of surveillance is required to keep managers from betraying their colleagues. Constitutionalism insists on our political nature even at work and does not substitute wishful thinking for the properly Machiavellian insight that we are all evil, and will act in accordance with our natures given half a chance.<a href="#_edn57">[57]</a> </p> <p>The characteristic social spaces of community wealth-building provide a milieu where a reformed state can be discussed away from the presumptions and prior restraints of the existing system. As community wealth-building expands its communicative reach and material power, it can multiply and enlarge the spaces in which this discussion takes place, and so change its nature, from a theoretical conversation between a few wishful thinkers to the preliminary stages of a national convention. The notion that the values and norms, as well as the institutional structures, of the co-operative might one day be reflected in the central state and its auxiliaries adds transformative political idealism to economic self-interest. In the context of community wealth-building, constitutional design takes on a revolutionary character.</p> <p>The hold on the general imagination of the current order, the extent to which it is made to seem natural and inevitable if not actually loveable, derives in large part from the ways in which the language and forms of the central state reproduce themselves throughout society in a kind of institutional cascade. The prestige of the federal presidency flows downwards and lends its authority to thousands of chief executive officers, vice-presidents, and class presidents. The British Cabinet sets the standard for a country in which the committee, not the public meeting, is the dominant institutional form. The characteristic relationships of community wealth building need not take their place in this cascade. Indeed, the task of the movement is to ensure that the structure of the co-operative enterprise climbs upwards so that the workplace without domination acts as the prototype of the free state.<a href="#_edn58">[58]</a> &nbsp;For if dynamic local economies characterised by democratic planning and egalitarian manners are to become ordinary features of life in Britain and the United States, they will, sooner or later, need a national state form that supports them and confirms their dignity and justice.&nbsp; </p><p>This might sound like wishful thinking, were it not for the related matters of ecological collapse, endemic war, steepening material inequality, and the growing appeal of authoritarian and fascist politics. What is necessary cannot be unrealistic. The form of the state we have inherited is taking us to disaster. It is time we remade it, from the ground up.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[1]</a> There are exceptions, of course, which I discuss later, but I hope the caricature here is recognisably drawn from life.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[2]</a> The global economy is also a creature of state power, of course, pre-eminently of the United States.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref3">[3]</a> I am acutely aware that the United States and Britain are very different in constitutional terms, as in much else. But despite Britain’s enormous idiosyncrasy, both countries share some fundamental assumptions about the nature of the state, which I intend to call into question in this essay.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref4">[4]</a> Constitutional reform, to the extent that it features in the UK, is usually couched in terms of modernization and normalisation. The idea, not particularly palatable to most people, is the idea that progress means becoming like somewhere else. I am conscious that in the US the conversation is dominated by the plutocratic right. See Nancy MacClean, <em>Democracy in Chains: The Deep Roots of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America</em> (London: Scribe, 2017). For the tenor of the debate in the UK, you’ll just have to take my word for it.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref5">[5]</a> See Steve Keen, ‘The ten graphs that show how Britain became a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of London (and what we can do about it)’, <em>openDemocracy</em>, 24th April, 2017.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref6">[6]</a> See Drew Desilver, ‘For most workers, real wages have stagnated for decades’, Pew Research Center, 9th October, 2014.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref7">[7]</a> Even those with more modest ambitions must see that they will get further with a reform agenda and a plausible account of social transformation than with a reform agenda alone.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref8">[8]</a> It also presides over a vastly expanded bureaucracy, which lies outside the scope of this piece.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref9">[9]</a> Looking back to classical antiquity is useful for a number of reasons. Democracy was not born there; it has been an incorrigible feature of human organization for as long as there have been humans. But democracy is a scandal, and it is rarely written up, even by its enemies. Athens is highly unusual, since we know something of how it worked as a stable governing order. If we have lost track of the fundamentals of state design, as I believe we have, resources from older traditions allow us to understand our current arrangements as matters that might be reformed. Besides, it is sometimes useful to find venerable precedents for what might otherwise seem like dangerous innovations. In the end the proposals I make will recommend themselves because they work.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref10">[10]</a> Quentin Skinner, <em>Liberty Before Liberalism</em> (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) p.7.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref11">[11]</a> Hobbes’ materialism has been tremendously influential in liberal accounts of freedom, and in them lives on as the most important extant trace of an otherwise abandoned project of the early Enlightenment. In physics Newton vanquished Cartesian materialism entirely and we have been forced to live with the fact of occult forces ever since.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref12">[12]</a> Sidgewick is quoted in Skinner, op. cit., p.98.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref13">[13]</a> Quoted in Skinner, op. cit., p.41.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref14">[14]</a> I am skimming over a vast literature on power and authority here. See Hannah Arendt, ‘Authority in the Twentieth Century’, <em>The Review of Politics</em>, Vol. 18, No. 4 (October, 1956), pp. 403-417 for an interesting attempt to ground authority in something other than sovereign power. For the most part we make do with a mixture of majoritarianism, precedent, rights discourse and claims about our pre-political nature to lend our institutions legitimacy. There is much more to say here than I can cover in this piece.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref15">[15]</a> Skinner, op. cit., p.70. A prudent and well-connected citizen in a dictatorship might well live peacefully into old age but an unfortunate encounter with a bad-tempered police informant might well mean that they did not.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref16">[16]</a> On interference at will by public officials, see, for example, Barton Gellman, ‘Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished’, <em>Washington Post</em>, 23rd December, 2013. For interference at will by private magnates, see, for example, ‘What Price Privacy: The Unlawful Trade in Confidential Personal Information’, Information Commissioner’s Office, 10th May, 2006. </p> <p><a href="#_ednref17">[17]</a> It is quite wrong to think that rights can be protected by the authority of the courts. All free states can slip into despotism.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref18">[18]</a> ‘Every right implies a remedy’ as Madison put it. The right to liberty implies an institutional array that eradicates domination.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref19">[19]</a> Republicanism also has implications for how unions are structured, so that they are not captured by their bureaucratic apparatus.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref20">[20]</a> We might also find our choices arbitrarily constrained in our private and intimate relations if making and maintaining a ‘good match’ becomes a matter of life and death.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref21">[21]</a> Philip Pettit, <em>Republicanism:</em> <em>A Theory of Freedom and Government</em> (Oxford, 1997), p.272.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref22">[22]</a> ibid, p.60.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref23">[23]</a> There is, of course, an extensive sociological literature on covert, self-effacing and occult power. See, for example, Pierre Bourdieu, <em>Distinction</em> (Basingstoke, 2010), C. Wright Mills <em>The Power Elite</em> (New York, 2000), Peter Bachrach and Morton S. Baratz, <em>Power and Poverty: Theory and Practice</em> (New York, 1970), and Stephen Lukes, <em>Power: A Radical View</em> (Basingstoke, 2004).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref24">[24]</a> Perhaps the well-documented correlation between inequality and mental distress is in part explained by the extent to which this inequality requires the cover of manipulative justifications <em>which are widely believed</em> <em>even though they run contrary to lived experience</em>.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref25">[25]</a> This lends the desire for liberty in modern conditions a paranoid quality, since it must always extend beyond the best available evidence to more or less plausible suspicions. It is in this light that we ought to assess attacks on conspiracism. </p> <p><a href="#_ednref26">[26]</a> As well as a right to healthcare and economic security, the right to liberty also entails a right to an education that fits the citizen for democratic self-government, a matter somewhat beyond the scope of this paper, except as regards the ‘ongoing education’ currently provided by the media system.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref27">[27]</a> James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, <em>The Federalist Papers</em> (Oxford, 1987), Number 63, p.373.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref28">[28]</a> Herodotus, <em>Histories</em> (London, 1972), p. 369.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref29">[29]</a> Polybius, <em>The Histories</em> (Oxford, 2010), p. 106.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref30">[30]</a> James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, <em>The Federalist Papers</em> (Oxford, 1987), &nbsp;Number 55, p.336. Madison’s claim here is entirely baseless, of course. The Athenian assembly was nothing like a mob and even managed to survive the machinations of Socrates.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref31">[31]</a> Some object to the idea of a legislative assembly because it would inevitably tangle itself up in inconsistencies, what Pettit calls the discursive dilemma in Philip Pettit, <em>On the People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy</em> (Cambridge, 2012). As we shall see, the revival of the citizens-in-assembly as an active element in the constitution does not require that they act as a legislature, so I will not address this concern here.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref32">[32]</a> The exact institutional structure adopted is less important than the principle of egalitarian control of the production and dissemination of effectively public speech.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref33">[33]</a> A public platform of this kind would also require democratic governance, based on both participation and random selection. I discuss this in more detail in the next section.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref34">[34]</a> I am conscious that this ‘public platform’ working with broadcast assets is easier to imagine in a country like Britain, which has a publicly funded media operation in the form of the BBC. But there is no law of nature that prevents something like this being tried elsewhere. Opposition will come from corporate and elected officials, who see the role that the current arrangements play in protecting and promoting their interests, not from facts about the universe, much less the federal constitution.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref35">[35]</a> Freed from the demands of an advertising-surveillance business model, public platforms could be shaped to encourage conversation rather than data-generating confrontation. People will always disagree, sometimes intemperately, but this tendency need not be exacerbated or manipulated in the interests of the powerful.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref36">[36]</a>James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, <em>The Federalist Papers</em> (Oxford, 1987), Number 51, p.322.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref37">[37]</a> ibid, Number 10, p.128.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref38">[38]</a> ibid, Number 10, p. 126.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref39">[39]</a> The qualities of this mediated assembly are discussed in more detail in <em>Restoring the Assembly: Equality in Speech and Democratic Power</em> (IDEA Working Paper, 2017). It bears repeating that the model proposed does not require that currently marginalised individuals take their chances in the prejudicial spaces of public self-presentation. The possession of individuated power offers everyone an opportunity to collaborate to develop effective public interventions.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref40">[40]</a> Aristotle in a famous passage in the politics is quite clear that election is only to used to fill offices in exceptional circumstances. See Aristotle, The Politics (London, 1992), p.362-3.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref41">[41]</a> Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party, has praised random selection on these grounds, for example. But see James S. Fishkin, Robert C. Luskin and Roger Jowell, ‘Deliberative Polling and Public Consultation’, <em>Parliamentary Affairs</em> (2000), 53, 657-666. The authors note the salutary effects of deliberation by large, randomly selected groups on both elite decision-making and public opinion.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref42">[42]</a> Aristotle, <em>The Politics </em>(London: Penguin, 1962), p.202.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref43">[43]</a> I don’t have the space to expand on the point, but a civic wage based on participation in the work of self-government seems to me to be rhetorically stronger than the idea of a universal basic income, not least because I cannot seek how a simple increase in income won’t be immediately reflected in the level of land rent.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref44">[44]</a> This is not to suggest we should do without expertise in the regulation of the public sphere. But the model I propose is significantly less illiberal than regulation unmixed with participation.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref45">[45]</a> Oliver Dowlen<em>, The Political Potential of Sortition</em> (Exeter, 2008), p.221.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref46">[46]</a> ibid, p.222.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref47">[47]</a> This has important implications for political parties. Both republicans and socialists have been historically sceptical of party competition but the reforms proposed will exert a different kind of pressure on parties. At the moment success depends on the ability to mobilise voters on the basis of a largely fictitious account of the social world. In a system characterised by elite collusion too much must be left unsaid to permit politicians to do much more than try to capture a mood. In the future, only those parties that can survive meaningful oversight by a public experienced in political activity will prosper.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref48">[48]</a> Oliver Dowlen, <em>Citizens’ Parliamentary Groups: A Proposal for Participation at Constituency Level</em> (Paris, 2017).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref49">[49]</a> Mariana Mazzucato, <em>The Entrepreneurial State</em> (London, 2017). Mazzucato shows persuasively that the state sector been the main driver of progress in the pharmaceutical, renewable energy, and electronics sectors. It is beyond the scope of this article, but it seems clear that the monetary-fiscal regime of the state, with its constellation of central bank financing, largescale public procurement, and pervasive subsidies to favoured sectors, has been key to the creation of capitalist modernity.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref50">[50]</a> I don’t have the time (or expertise) to address financial sector reform in detail. But in the United States the constitution is quite explicit that Congress is responsible for issuing the currency so there is no barrier to the creation of ‘Lincoln Banks’, which would channel state money into sectors chosen through a process of democratic deliberation that displaces market research and a narrow conception of <em>raison d’état</em>.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref51">[51]</a> Charities, foundations and trade unions that enjoy state privileges of various kinds might also be encouraged to bring their supporters into their governance structures on an egalitarian basis. State schools would also be free to model the constitution in their governance.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref52">[52]</a> Elinor Ostrom, <em>Governing the Commons</em> (Cambridge: 1991).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref53">[53]</a> Given that the state exercises a pervasive, and largely unimagined, influence over physics, it seems hasty to dismiss the idea that it can shape how it is described in the major media.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref54">[54]</a> As already noted, a developmental state of this kind will be critically reliant on the techniques of general supervision and comprehension made possible by <em>isegoria</em> and random selection.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref55">[55]</a> The idea of an institutional cascade is derived from Robin Osborne’s suggestion, summarised by P. J. Rhodes, that Athens’ ‘stability and solidarity … was due in part to the great variety of sub-units in the city which echoed the organization of the city itself, so that there were opportunities for all the citizens to involve themselves in democratic processes, in bodies which they found congenial.’</p> <p><a href="#_ednref56">[56]</a> For a general introduction to community wealth building, see Thomas M. Hanna, Joe Guinan and Joe Bilsborough, ‘The ‘Preston Model’ and the new politics of municipal socialism’, openDemocracy, June 12, 2018. Its material impact in Preston is explored here, <a href="http://www.councils.coop/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Community-Wealth-Building-Preston-City-Council-1.pdf">http://www.councils.coop/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Community-Wealth-Building-Preston-City-Council-1.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="#_ednref57">[57]</a> Machiavelli, <em>Discourses</em> (Oxford, 2008), p. 28: ‘… it is necessary for anyone who organizes a republic and establishes laws in it to take for granted that all men are evil and will act in accordance with their nature whenever they have the opportunity.’</p> <p><a href="#_ednref58">[58]</a> Constitutionalising the co-op along assembly-and-sortition lines forms a prelude to co-operativising the constitution through common ownership of the state</p><p>&nbsp;</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/adam-ramsay-anthony-barnett/abdication-of-commons-how-article-50-saw-parliament-vote-against-its-">The abdication of The Commons: how Article 50 saw parliament vote against its sovereignty</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Dan Hind Mon, 17 Sep 2018 23:41:23 +0000 Dan Hind 119421 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making hope possible in Wales: interview with Plaid Cymru leadership candidates https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-leanne-wood-adam-price-rhun-ap-iorwerth/making-hope-possible-in-wales-interview-with- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>openDemocracy interviews the three candidates for leader of Plaid Cymru about the future of Wales and the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><em>Editor’s note: Plaid Cymru currently has a leadership election, in which the Assembly Members Adam Price and Rhun Ap Iorwerth are standing against the incumbent Leanne Wood. openDemocracy asked them all the same five questions, here’s how they responded. - Adam<br /></em></p><h2 dir="ltr">Leanne Wood</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Leanne Wood_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Leanne Wood_0.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The British State is in crisis. Scottish independence and Irish unity seem possible within a decade. How can Plaid grow the movement for Welsh independence? </strong></p><p dir="ltr">It's ironic, isn't it, that the flag-waving Little Englander mentality that powered the Brexit vote could see the British state dismantled. Polls show that Irish unity and Scottish independence are likely to become realities and that is also a game changer for Wales. Being part of a Greater England or striking out as an independent nation is the stark choice now for Wales. The growing national pride we are seeing in Wales can be seen with the rise of Yes Cymru and diverse groups such as Welsh Football Fans for Independence. That's in part because we're seeing the naked contempt with which the Tory government in London treats Wales – whether it's cancelling high-speed rail, scrapping Swansea Tidal Lagoon or re-naming the Severn Bridge. The Labour Government in Wales is failing to stand up for Wales and our interests, which is why it's so important that independence is seen as a viable alternative to the status quo. </p><p dir="ltr">That why I've called for a Welsh Independence Convention, on the lines of that developed in Scotland in the run-up to the referendum there. This would bring together all aspects of Welsh society and a breadth of organisations united behind one goal – to win independence for Wales by building up a mass movement. No single party can win independence in isolation – we need civic society to back the project. Plaid Cymru is the cutting edge of that movement in the political sphere. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How can Plaid win young voters in the age of Corbyn?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Young voters have grown up with our diluted devolution settlement. It's the norm for them. They see Scotland and N Ireland – and even Manchester – gaining more powers than us in Wales and we're seeing a growing number joining through our youth movement Plaid Ifanc because they're dissatisfied with the status quo. The current troubles of the Labour party centrally coupled with the lacklustre, lazy performance of its Welsh branch in government for the past two decades means that the gloss has come off the Corbyn bandwagon.</p><p dir="ltr">Furthermore, our position on Brexit is much more in tune with the views of young people. We have campaigned to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union and I have pushed for a People’s Vote on the final terms of our post-Brexit deal. Within that there should be a route back into the European Union if enough people want it in the face of a bad deal for the UK. By way of contrast, the Labour party under Corbyn has allowed the Tories to get away with floundering, fighting with each other and posturing during European negotiations without actually achieving anything. With less than 200 days until we depart the European Union, Corbyn should have the Tory government on the ropes but he has failed on this.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What would be your priority as first minister of Wales?</strong> </p><p dir="ltr">I want decisions that affect Wales being made here in Wales. That means getting control over the criminal justice system, which is devolved to Scotland and N Ireland, it means having full control over our economy, which is failing because we're a forgotten back water of the British state. It is a basic principle of Plaid Cymru – and indeed democracy – that the best decisions are made when they are made closer to the people they affect. One of the fundamental reasons why parts of Wales is among the poorest parts of western Europe, why we haven’t yet got a single mile of electrified railway track and why our country is poorly connected is because of decisions taken by the British state. &nbsp;Rarely, if ever, are these decisions made in Wales’ best interests. A Plaid Cymru government would set about reversing this trend so that we can empower our country, our communities and everyone that lives here.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How will you grow Plaid Cymru's membership?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">We will grow our membership in the same way that we win power in 2021 and gain independence. It's going to be a slog and I've never shied away from that personally or telling our members that. It's dishonest to pretend there's a magic formula or that passion or rhetoric alone can do it. We need do-ers alongside our dreamers to achieve what we're aiming for and I'm someone who can visualise freedom as well as pound the streets every week to achieve it. I've done it in the Rhondda – a seat that I was told time and time again was unwinnable – and I'll do it throughout Wales in 2021.</p><p dir="ltr">I'm not content to be one of those who can interpret the failings in society, I want to transform our country from being one of the poorest parts of Europe to being a world leader. I'll lead by example and employ grassroots organisers to build the party locally. People generally know that Labour is failing Wales in government – they need to know in their droves that there is a positive alternative from Plaid Cymru and that is where the hard, but achievable, work lies.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Raymond Williams said that it’s the job of the radical to make hope seem possible, not despair convincing. How will you do this?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The politics of fear and hatred have gripped many Western democracies of late – it's a development that we must resist. The antidote to hate is hope, to shine a light on the darkness that can threaten to engulf humanity at times. We are a Welsh internationalist party, proud of our heritage, culture and history but also determined to be a modern nation that plays its part in the world. That can't happen in this over-centralised British State.</p><p dir="ltr">Raymond Williams also told us that we need to unite with others and build coalitions of people within our communities in favour of positive changes, rather than just join with others on the basis of negatives – being “against” something. Plaid Cymru members right throughout the country are working on projects which unite communities in favour of overturning decisions made as a result of austerity and bringing back some service or facility that has been lost.</p><p dir="ltr">We are uniting communities on the basis of something positive and this is something we can grow. As Wales is a community of communities – if we get this basic community building block right, we can make the whole of the country work better for everyone. We have a lot we can learn from Raymond Williams which is why so many of his ideas can be found in my recent publication – <a href="http://leanne2021.cymru/en/the-change-we-need/">The Change We Need. </a></p><h2 dir="ltr">Adam Price</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Price.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Price.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Price. Image, BBC, fair use</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The British State is in crisis. Scottish independence and Irish unity seem possible within a decade. How can Plaid grow the movement for Welsh independence?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I have little doubt that Brexit will end the British State. I launched my campaign to lead Plaid Cymru by publishing a <a href="https://www.adamprice.wales/saith_cam_seven_steps">Seven Steps to Independence</a> plan. It is a clear and credible pathway to political freedom. My plan includes detailed economic analysis, the passing of a Referendum Act, and proposals for a National Independence Commission to empower citizens to write the constitution of our free country. We can take Wales on the path to independence by 2030.</p><p dir="ltr">Wales faces a choice of two futures: either we get subsumed into England or we chart our own course as an independent nation. The leadership election is a chance for party members to decide if they're content with the status quo or wish to set sail on the course to independence with me as their leader.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How can Plaid win young voters in the age of Corbyn?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Traditionally Plaid Cymru receives good support amongst young people. The reality is that changing the colour of the government at Westminster doesn't make a difference to Welsh communities.</p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn is an old-style 'command and control' Westminster politician who understands little and cares even less about Wales.</p><p dir="ltr">The real radical project in Welsh politics is independence. I believe putting this at the heart of our work and a future Plaid Cymru government will see more and more young people getting on board.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What would be your priority as first minister of Wales?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The Economy. I have published a <a href="https://www.adamprice.wales/cynllun_economaidd_economic_plan">National Economic Plan</a> which consists of no fewer than 50 policy ideas with the aim of putting Wales on a sound economic footing, investing in communities and the skills of our people, and creating the conditions for Wales to achieve independence, realising our full potential as a people and as a nation. These exciting and creative ideas have been described by the Western Mail as "impressive" and "setting the bar for leadership candidates in all parties." I believe we can excite the people of Wales by realising these economic ideas in government.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How will you grow Plaid Cymru's membership?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Less than 5 per cent of those who vote for Plaid Cymru at Westminster elections are members of the party. I have set out my proposals to turn our party into an election-winning machine by investing in both our party machinery and our membership.</p><p dir="ltr">The work starts with inspiring people and demonstrating that Plaid Cymru has a vision. &nbsp;Once we present a positive policy platform with which voters consider credible, I believe we can substantially grow the party's membership. They key then, however, is ensuring we invest properly in our personal relationships, provide more opportunities for members to influence our work and ensure they are at the heart of our party.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Raymond Williams said that it's the job of the radical to make hope seem possible, not despair convincing. How will you do this?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">A Plaid Cymru government can show the people of Wales that there is nothing inevitable about our circumstances. We will govern well and demonstrate that a different, more confident and more prosperous future is possible.</p><p dir="ltr">The Welsh economy and Welsh independence have been the two key themes of this leadership election. I am pleased to have run a positive campaign based on ideas and hope for creating a New Wales. I'm asking Plaid Cymru members for the opportunity to do that and lead our party into government. </p><h3 dir="ltr">Rhun Ap Iorwerth</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Rhun.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Rhun.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="236" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rhun Ap Iorwerth. Image, rhunapiorwerth.cymru, fair use</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The British State is in crisis. Scottish independence and Irish unity seem possible within a decade. How can Plaid grow the movement for Welsh independence?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The current British State is coming to an end. This is not unusual. Significant change in the relationship between the nations of these islands has happened at regular intervals throughout history. Now is the time for another of those historical pivot-points, and Wales must ensure it’s part of that change. I have a clear vision of how I’d like that change to look. I firmly believe that we would ALL benefit in these islands from redesigning the relationship between us – independent countries working together. That Wales – in stark contrast to bridge-burning, wall-building hard Brexit Britain – would be an open one, rejecting isolation, and always striving to work in partnership with others.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How can Plaid win young voters in the age of Corbyn?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">We win the support of young people by painting a picture of a future that excites them. Every new generation needs inspiration, and they are not wed to the past. That vision has to be communicated in a way young people can trust and identify with – consistent, honest, and ambitious. Young people have to feel that future isn’t something that happens to them – they have to be a part of the vision, so this has to be a 2-way conversation. The peer-to-peer element is key, which is why an active and inspired Plaid Ifanc is so important.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What would be your priority as first minister of Wales?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I could run through some policy areas – the need for a clearly focussed new economic plan for Wales being a central part of it – but the first change that comes from my election as first minister is a change in attitude that will underpin all we do as a government. The change is from “how can our limited ambitions be accommodated within a wider UK framework” (“let’s not push things too far, folks – the preservation of the union is far more important than aspiration for Wales”), to “let’s be uncompromising in pursuing what’s right for the people and communities of Wales”.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How will you grow Plaid Cymru's membership?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I want Plaid Cymru to be a natural home for all those who want to join in the venture of building this nation – all those who share the ambition of making this country a better, a more equal, a more prosperous, healthier more confident and a happier place to live. We have to be the go-to for those who agree with us on pursuing this ambition, regardless of background, where they live, which language they speak, and whether they were born and bred here, or moved here yesterday – if people choose to make Wales their home, I want them to go a step further and make it their nation. We grow membership by making this explicit in all we do, and creating a new pride in being part of an inclusive national movement.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Raymond Williams said that it’s the job of the radical to make hope seem possible, not despair convincing. How will you do this?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I want to change the ‘story’ of Plaid Cymru, and to do so in order to change the story of Wales. All too often we’ve been a party on the defensive, rather lacking in confidence. Let’s move hope on to the front foot, and with a new positive attitude, present to all Welsh citizens a confident vision of what Wales could be.</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="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay-leanne-wood/interview-leanne-wood-wales-and-spreading-of-scottish-rebellion">Interview: Leanne Wood - Wales and the spreading of the Scottish rebellion</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Wales Adam Price Adam Ramsay Leanne Wood Rhun Ap Iorwerth Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:58:20 +0000 Adam Ramsay, Leanne Wood, Adam Price and Rhun Ap Iorwerth 119688 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Second’ bank account: MPs demand probe into Rees-Mogg’s Brexit group https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick/second-bank-account-mps-demand-probe-into-rees-mogg-s-brexit-group <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Cross-party demands for an urgent investigation into the financial affairs of the European Research Group follow openDemocracy’s investigation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-35723513_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-35723513_460.jpg" alt="Jacob Rees-Mogg in front of a sign saying "Leave Means Leave"" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jacob Rees-Mogg: we're still waiting for answers. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Senior MPs are calling for a deep investigation of the ‘second’ bank account and undisclosed funding held by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s group of hard-line anti-EU Conservatives.</p><p>They want full public scrutiny of the financial operations and shrouded membership list of the European Research Group (ERG). Their demands follow the latest <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/parliament-watchdog-probes-rees-mogg-s-hard">disclosure</a> in openDemocracy’s ongoing investigation into the ERG’s affairs, which revealed an undisclosed second bank account with unknown “sources of funding”.</p><h2>“Transparent as mud” </h2><p>Details of the accounts held by the ERG were branded a political “scandal” by the Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake. He called the activities of the ERG as “transparent as mud” and said the group’s reluctance to accept full public scrutiny of its accounts showed it had “something dubious to hide”.</p><p>Brake added: ”This scandal involving the finances of a hard-right Brexit group is, however, all too reminiscent of the dodgy and unscrupulous deals by the Leave campaign [during the EU referendum].”</p><p>John Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) must now reopen its investigation into the ERG and “provide the public with much-needed answers to a long list of questions: how do the ERG use their public funding, and what is the source of their private funding and the identity of their members?”</p><h2>A “circus”</h2><p dir="ltr">Trickett said the continued lack of clarity over the ERG’s affairs and operations “carries the risk that this circus starts to make a mockery of our entire political system”.</p><p>The ERG, chaired by Rees-Mogg, but still effectively run by the former Brexit minister, Steve Baker, is thought to number close to 80 Tory MPs. It has been regularly dubbed a party within a party, recently dominating <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/12/pro-brexit-tory-mps-openly-discuss-how-to-get-rid-of-theresa-may-michael-gove">headlines</a> over its manoeuvres to oust Theresa May as prime minister unless she abandons her ‘Chequers’ plan for the UK's future relationship with the EU.</p><p>IPSA, which regulates MPs’ expenses and business costs, raised concerns with the ERG earlier this year about its bank accounts. The watchdog asked for clarification from the ERG about “other sources of funding”, seeking assurances that public money was not being misused.</p><p>Before publishing our article this week, openDemocracy sent Rees-Mogg’s office all details of a disclosed email exchange between IPSA and the ERG outlining concerns about a second bank account and other funding. The group made no reply and has continued to remain silent.</p><p>Since 2011 the ERG has received over £300,000 in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">public funds</a>. The money is paid to MPs for supposedly neutral, non-party-political pooled research. Current and former cabinet members who have channelled <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/six-of-theresa-may-s-cabinet-are-paid-up-members-of-secret-group-demanding">funds</a> to the ERG include Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling, David Gauke and David Davis.</p><p>One ERG bank account is designated for the funds it receives from IPSA. A second account, not known to IPSA in previous reviews of the group’s activities, held other sources of funding. The discovery of a second account prompted IPSA to seek clarification from the ERG about how the “separation” of private and public funding was maintained and whether appropriate rules had been followed.</p><h2>Taxpayers footing the bill</h2><p>The People’s Vote campaign, which are seeking to ensure the government’s Brexit deal is put to a full national vote, said the new revelations about the ERG’s accounts and funding “raised serious questions that had to be answered”. A campaign spokesperson said: “This is a group that receives taxpayers’ money. So the parliamentary authorities must now rightly investigate whether the taxpayer is footing the bill for a thinly veiled Brextremist lobbying organisation.”</p><p dir="ltr">Brake also said that the lack of transparency of the ERG, a group that could be critical to the outcome of an approved deal with the EU, was “yet another reason why the people should have the final say on Brexit”.</p><h2>A deplorable silence</h2><p>Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour cabinet member and a long-term critic of the ‘dark money’ used to fund the campaigns of anti-EU groups in the 2016 referendum and beyond, told openDemocracy that the ERG’s silence over democratic accountability was “deplorable”.</p><p>He added: “If, as the ERG now claim, they are interested in policy and not leadership issues, then they should publish their full membership list and open their account to full public scrutiny. Anything less will show they have something to hide. So far all they have revealed is disdain for the electorate, who they supposedly regard as simply an administrative inconvenience.”</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/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/parliament-watchdog-probes-rees-mogg-s-hard">Parliament watchdog probes Rees-Mogg’s hard Brexit lobby group over “other sources of funding”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">UK Government minister hides leading role with hard Brexit group</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/tory-ministers-taxpayer-cash-hard-Brexit-erg">MPs demand ‘urgent investigation’ into Cabinet ministers&#039; support for hard-Brexit lobby group</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"> Democracy and government </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government accountability DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. James Cusick Sat, 15 Sep 2018 16:11:57 +0000 James Cusick 119671 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How the campaign for a People’s Vote is changing politics (again) https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/how-campaign-for-people-s-vote-is-changing-politics-again <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new generation is making the campaign for a People's Vote on Brexit the next insurgency for change in Britain.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="AB"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Pmarch.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Pmarch.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="172" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="AB">The call for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal, conceived by Caroline Lucas, was adopted early this year by a broad coalition of people and organisations who want the British to think again. The concept is a neat one. It is not a demand to re-run the referendum. It is a claim that those who instructed the government to negotiate Brexit must have the final say. It is a demand for continued democracy. Or, to borrow a phrase, for voters to ‘take control’. Which means that Leavers can support it too.&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">While I liked it for these reasons, it seemed to me unlikely to happen and I&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">feared</a>&nbsp;that if it did it would deliver the same result. Now, it looks as if I was wrong on both these counts.&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">Since the Cabinet met at Chequers and set out what it wants for the country’s relationship with the EU to be, the Brexit alliance has disintegrated. There is a good chance that whatever deal the Prime Minister now achieves, it will be voted down by the Commons. If so, a People’s Vote has become more likely than not, as the only way out of the impasse.</p><p class="AB">More important, poll after poll shows opinion has started to turn against Brexit with&nbsp;<a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/b4b/pages/397/attachments/original/1534497318/HNH_B4B_Report_2018-August_BrexitShift_%281%29.pdf?1534497318">most constituencies</a>&nbsp;now showing a majority for Remain. This is an essential development to reassure those MPs who fear that another plebiscite will deepen not resolve the division in the country.&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">It seems like a paradox. A People’s Vote has to be about democracy. But Labour’s English MPs in particular need to see in advance that a new referendum can unify the country. While nothing is certain they want to know that a major shift is taking place in the ‘people’s will’, or at least the will of their own supporters; one that can gain consent rather than empower the right.</p><p class="AB">Such a shift has not yet occurred but it is on the cusp of happening.</p><p class="AB">It has been a three stage process. The first was the stubborn refusal of Remain supporters to swing behind Leave. You would expect a bold, democratic adventure like Brexit to generate public support. It had the press, the government and institutions such as the BBC in lock-step support of what they accepted as the country’s historic choice. Yet for two long years the division expressed in the referendum barely changed. This will come to be seen as the great, strategic failure of the Brexiteers. They had their moment and lost it.</p><p class="AB">A second stage began in July after Chequers. The Cabinet decided it was in the best interest of the UK to remain in the EU’s regulated space, at least for manufacturing. This was a wise call and potentially popular, had May addressed the country to explain why it is essential. Instead, she pretended nothing had changed, her government split, and the costs of exiting the EU became clearer. A large&nbsp;<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-referendum-millions-leave-voters-best-for-britain-no-deal-theresa-may-conservative-government-a8521346.html">Focaldata analysis</a>&nbsp;shows 2.6 million largely Labour supporters have switched to Remain while only a million Remainers, mainly Conservatives, now back Leave. If a referendum were held tomorrow, Brexit would lose its 2016 majority. Remain has the momentum.</p><p class="AB">This is not enough yet to convince nervous MPs they should return the decision to the public. Nonetheless, an essential second-stage boost took place. Now, fuelled by fresh leaders, new arguments and an affirmative engagement with the EU, Remain is about to go into orbit. It is seizing the mandate for change as it becomes the insurgent opposition to the Brexit status quo.</p><p class="AB">The emergence of fluent younger advocates is a vital part of this. Femi, of Our Future Our Choice and Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson of FFS are both part of the People’s Vote Alliance. Eloise Todd and Layla Moran signal the emergence of sophisticated women able to challenge the boy’s game of Brexit. Todd, a northerner, heads Best for Britain; Moran a new Lib Dem MP, is an emerging star, with Palestinian heritage. The feminine leadership of the call for a rethink of Brexit is reinforced by the TUC’s General Secretary, Francis O’Grady and her demand for a ‘ballot on the deal’. While in terms of experienced, credible politicians, who are not tarred with the ongoing, sectarian disputes of the main parties, Caroline Lucas is in a league of her own.</p><p class="AB">Along with fresh faces, People’s Vote is generating attractive new arguments. It is hard to over-estimate the importance of this. It is now possible to rethink Brexit and appeal to Leavers’ judgment, rather than slagging them off. The disastrous ‘Stronger In’ campaign of 2016 sank under the weight of its euroscepticism. Its patronising insistence that we could not afford to leave the EU, only served to reinforce a sense that we should if we could. It also immunised Leave voters from rational consideration of the costs. An attitude vented by Boris Johnson, while still Foreign Secretary when was asked at a diplomatic reception about business’s concern with Brexit. He replied, “Fuck business”. Both the Financial Times and the BBC quoted the full Anglo-Saxon without asterisks. Yet his supporters still cheer him on. If&nbsp;<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-panasonic-headquarters/japans-panasonic-to-move-european-headquarters-to-amsterdam-in-october-nikkei-idUKKCN1LE2S2">Panasonic</a>&nbsp;move their headquarters to Holland it’s one up to Blighty!</p><p class="AB">In the referendum the Brexiteers positioned themselves as the anti-elite democrats. Now Johnson has exposed himself as a hard-right, tax-cutting supremacist. The revelations of its secretive off-shore money and illegal backing by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/profile/carolecadwalladr">Carol Cadwalladr</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/trumps-visit-marks-start-of-shock-doctrine-brexit">openDemocracy</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.byline.com/column/67/articles">Byline</a>&nbsp;have spotlighted Brexit as a project of the privileged.</p><p class="AB">It also turns out that issue Johnson, along with other leading Brexiteers such as the ex-Secretary of State for Brexit David Davis and Jacob Rees Mogg, lead on can be turned against their cause. They define Brexit to mean the rejection of a “common rule book”. It is, Johnson wrote in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6604089/boris-johnson-full-british-brexit-eu-regulation/">the Sun</a>, "the freedom to bust out of the corsets of EU regulation and rules - to do things our way". Voters, however, want European regulations. They like clean beaches, environmental protection, high food standards, safe cars, medicine that is scientifically checked, fair employment laws and ease of business. They don’t want chlorinated chicken, or roaming charges if they go to Spain, and they do want to be reimbursed if an airline cancels their flight. A careful&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ippr.org/files/2018-03/1521809277_leaving-the-eu-briefing-part2.pdf">IPPR investigation</a>&nbsp;shows that people overwhelmingly support sharing regulations with the EU, including a third of Leave voters. Lord Ashcroft has reported a similar finding. The EU is above all a union of shared regulation not sovereignty. Brexiteers make a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">big mistake</a>&nbsp;when they muddle the two.</p><p class="AB">From this starting point of mutual benefit the EU becomes a positive addition to our democracy. It becomes a means for regular people to have more not less control over our lives.</p><p class="AB">The referendum’s outcome was Albion’s shout-out against elite entitlement. It was a just revolt against powerlessness, the hollowing out of democracy and uncontrolled inequality. Those who voted Leave can congratulate themselves on having given the old order a fatal kicking. However, it is now becoming clear that Brexit itself will simply revive the same old clowns in worse form without changing the way we are ruled. Gove and Johnson are indeed hardly different from their university chums Cameron and Osborne&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">Helped by vivid stories about the cost to regular people’s lives as businesses are shredded, voters have begun to understand that Brexit promises even more incompetent version of the old greedy order. In response, People’s Vote, with its fresh leaders, optimistic arguments, and fearless attitude to the EU, is inspiring a revulsion from Brexit that will remake democracy in Britain.&nbsp;</p><p class="AB"><em>Anthony Barnett is the author of The Lure of Greatness. His lecture on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/albions-call-democracy-meets-globalisation-anthony-barnett-on-england-nationalism-and-brexit-tickets-49051172377">‘Albion’s Call: Democracy meets Globalisation’</a>, is on 19th September at Kings College London. </em></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lure-Greatness-Englands-Brexit-Americas/dp/1783524537">The Lure of Greatness, England’s Brexit &amp; America’s Trump</a>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“Brilliant”,&nbsp;<strong>Suzanne Moore</strong>, “Blistering”,&nbsp;<strong>Zadie Smith</strong><br />“A dazzling, all-encompassing, big picture analysis of the Brexit vote, easily the best of its kind in print, brilliantly written and endlessly thought-provoking. Do read it.”&nbsp;<strong>Andrew Sparrow, Editor, Guardian Politics Live</strong><br />“Responding to momentous events with deep and passionate arguments… for his verve, range and insatiable urge to take on vast themes, Barnett deserves loud applause… this is a very good book.”&nbsp;<strong>John Harris, New Statesman</strong><br />“The best book about Brexit so far… brilliantly caustic, there is some comfort in that Barnett has been right about so much before.”&nbsp;<strong>Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times</strong><br />“One of the most important political books of 2017”,&nbsp;<strong>The Guardian Editorial on Renewing the United Kingdom</strong>, 1 January 2018<br />“Essential reading for students of politics, constitutional law and international relations.”&nbsp;<strong>Professor David Marquand</strong><br />“A wonderful and compelling page turner that artfully weaves together debates on freedom, security, liberty, sovereignty and nationalism... This is a book that deserves to be read.”&nbsp;<strong>Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths Professor of Media and Communications</strong></span></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="/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">Why Brexit won’t work: the EU is about regulation not sovereignty </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Anthony Barnett Sat, 15 Sep 2018 10:22:43 +0000 Anthony Barnett 119669 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The High Court found that Vote Leave broke the law in a new way https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/high-court-found-that-vote-leave-broke-law-in-different-way <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>England &amp; Wales's High Court has ruled that Vote Leave broke campaign spending limits in addition to the way that the Electoral Commission previously said they did.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Royal_Court2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Royal_Court2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By sjiong - https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjiong/109817932/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6380215</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The High Court has ruled today that Vote Leave did break their spending limit and so the law when they gave £625,000 to the young Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes ahead of the European Referendum. However, people have got confused about how this relates to the Electoral Commission’s decision to fine both Vote Leave and Grimes back in July. So I've read the whole ruling to work out what's going on.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s important to understand that there are three separate but related issues in play here.</p><p dir="ltr">The first is the fact, in itself, that Vote Leave paid £625,000 to Darren Grimes for his BeLeave campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">The second is the fact that Vote Leave didn’t actually pay this money to Grimes himself. Rather, all but £1,000 of it was paid on his behalf to AggregateIQ, the online comms firm which ran much of the Brexit campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">The third is the question of whether or not the money was paid to Grimes as part of a ‘joint plan’ with Vote Leave.</p><p dir="ltr">The short explanation is that the court ruled today on the first two questions. The Electoral Commission ruled back in July on the third.</p><p dir="ltr">The case itself followed the publication by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/new-email-release-shows-how-leave-campaigners-used-vast-loo">openDemocracy</a> and the Ferret of a cache of internal Electoral Commission emails (after Carole Cadwalladr, Buzzfeed and Private Eye had written about the affair). This correspondence – obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by my colleague Jenna Corderoy – showed that the regulator was concerned about Vote Leave’s donations to Grimes but had decided not to launch an investigation. This prompted Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project to launch a crowdfunder to support a legal challenge to the Electoral Commission in the High Court to review the decision not to probe the Grimes case further.</p><p dir="ltr">Once the case was launched, two things happened.</p><p dir="ltr">First, the Electoral Commission decided to reopen the issue, and to look, specifically, at my third question above: whether Leave and Grimes had a joint plan. The regulator maintained that the donation from Vote Leave to Grimes shouldn’t be counted as Vote Leave expenditure, unless Grimes and Vote Leave spent the money as part of a ‘joint plan’. If they did, then under election law, that the money should count towards Vote Leave’s expenditure. And that would mean it broke its £7 million spending limit. <br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />In July this year, the Electoral Commission <a href="https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/vote-leave-fined-and-referred-to-the-police-for-breaking-electoral-law">ruled on this matter</a>, concluding that there was “significant evidence of joint working” between the lead campaigner, Vote Leave, and BeLeave. The Commission also found that Grimes had broken a related rule (he’d registered his campaign as himself, rather than under the name “BeLeave”, while the donation went to “BeLeave”). They fined both Vote Leave and Darren Grimes, and referred both to the Met Police.</p><p dir="ltr">Second, before that ruling from the Commission, judges heard the first round of the Good Law Project’s argument. They resolved that they wouldn’t look at the question of whether there had been a ‘joint plan’ – which the Electoral Commission was already investigating. This, they said, was a matter of fact, while it was their job as the High Court to rule when there are disagreements about the law. They would, however, rule on whether the donation itself should have been counted as expenditure by Vote Leave, irrespective of whether there was a ‘joint plan’ between Grimes and Vote Leave. </p><p dir="ltr">Vote Leave has worked hard to conflate these two seperate question in the last few hours. But ultimately, the court ruling today is a separate matter from the fine and police referral in July.</p><p dir="ltr">The ruling today consists of 25 pages of legalistic pondering on what it means for an expense to be incurred, by whom it is conferred, and similar questions. And ultimately, it concludes that the donation should have been counted as expenditure by Vote Leave, because it was a donation for a particular thing, rather than simply a donation for Grimes to use however he pleased. Key to this ruling was the fact that the money was paid by Vote Leave to AggregateIQ, rather than simply paid to the BeLeave account with no strings attached: a fact first revealed <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/new-email-release-shows-how-leave-campaigners-used-vast-loo">here on openDemocracy</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Both the Leave and the Remain campaigns have some legitimate grievance here. If Leave was, as it claims, told by the Electoral Commission that their donation to Grimes was allowed, then they have now been told by the High Court that it was not. However, the breach of the rules for which they were fined earlier this year was a slightly different question: it is absolutely clear in the published <a href="http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/194621/Working-together-for-EU-referendum-campaigners.pdf">Electoral Commission guidelines</a> that spending on “joint campaigns” will all be counted against the lead campaign’s expenditure. </p><p dir="ltr">Likewise, if the Commission’s incorrect interpretation of the law effectively allowed the official Leave Campaign to spend more than the official Remain campaign, then Remainers have significant grounds for grievance.</p><p dir="ltr">At the centre of all of this sit the Electoral Commission, who do seem to have blundered. There have been some loud calls for a serious shake up there from both sides of this quarrel today, and I have some sympathy for that. I was on a ferry to Belfast when they rang me back last year, and explained to me why they had decided that the donation to Grimes was fine. I spent the rest of the journey baffled: it seemed to me then, and has done ever since, that this had to either be bad law, or a bad interpretation of it. </p><p dir="ltr">However, I think it’s important to think a little harder about what’s going on here. As I <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/platform-parties-vs-plutocrat-pr-welcome-to-future-of-uk-politics">wrote last week</a>, the Conservatives, with collapsing membership, are relying ever-more on a small pool of large donors, many of whom have offshore connections which merit investigation. Likewise, without party activists, they are likely to rely ever-more on companies like AggregateIQ to get their messages to voters. The Commission is seriously underfunded and struggles to keep on top of the huge workload (this was all unfolding at the same time as the Channel 4 revelations about Conservative election spending in 2015). The oligarchs who wish to control our politics would love nothing more than a de-fanged and degraded Electoral Commission.</p><p dir="ltr">The response to this error shouldn’t be to denigrate a regulator our democracy relies upon. Instead, this should be a prompt to give the Commission the cash and power it needs to properly police our politics.</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/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/new-email-release-shows-how-leave-campaigners-used-vast-loo">Revealed: how loopholes allowed pro-Brexit campaign to spend ‘as much as necessary to win’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/new-evidence-that-leave-groups-co-ordinated-to-get-round-re">&#039;Crimes&#039; committed by Brexit campaigners? One extraordinary coincidence offers a new clue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/peter-geoghegan/vote-leave-trying-to-bury-bad-news">Vote Leave is using media to bury bad news</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Adam Ramsay Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:20:22 +0000 Adam Ramsay 119664 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How will we pay for news we can trust? I hope to find out https://www.opendemocracy.net/frances-cairncross/how-will-we-pay-for-news-we-can-trust-i-hope-to-find-out <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The British government has ordered a review into the sustainability of high-quality journalism. Its chair explains the challenges she faces.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-33269149_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/PA-33269149_460.jpg" alt="Pediment of neoclassical building with 'Journalism' carved into it." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Needs maintaining. Image: Richard B. Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images.</span></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal">Newspapers are in a bad way, and it is not easy to see how to rescue them. But finding a way to ensure a continuing supply of high-quality journalism is clearly essential to the health of democracy: it has been the press, through the past two centuries, which has provided the main challenge to behaviour that threatens the public interest, good government and robust public institutions.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The challenges to newspapers have increased over the past two decades, and the papers have not always responded wisely. Most took the decision early to make most of their content available free online, without any clear idea of the business model that would allow them to benefit. But the gigantic wave of technological change has swamped them. Specialised classified advertising web sites have siphoned off the staple income source of local papers (and part of their reader content too); the replacement of the iPad with the mobile phone greatly increased the alternative ways for readers to use their time; and most damaging of all, the relationship between reader, advertiser and publisher has been disrupted by the rise of Google, Facebook and other digital giants.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The press review that I am undertaking for the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with the support of an expert panel, has found plenty of evidence of the accelerating threats to the traditional press. We recently conducted a survey which found that more people are now regularly accessing national newspaper content online via apps and websites (28%) than in print (22%).</p> <p class="MsoNormal">We have also come across a number of online start-ups, often supported by a mixture of donations and subscriptions, providing local and national news in niche markets. Newspapers have been developing new approaches, such as the Ozone project to provide a single marketplace for online advertisers created by The Guardian, News UK and The Daily Telegraph. And we have talked to entrepreneurs with ingenious schemes to help newspapers improve online revenues, such as Agate, a start-up which is developing an online ’wallet‘ to allow readers to make micro-payments across a number of newspapers, and Rezonence, which aims to provide proof that readers have paid attention to an advertisement, in exchange for offering them free content.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">From this wealth of experiments (and many more in the US, which I visit at the end of this month), new ways will undoubtedly emerge to allow newspapers to make more money from readers and advertisers. They will almost certainly require newspapers to collaborate to an unprecedented extent. But the pace of change is now so fast that government may need to step in. There is an obvious difficulty here: if high-quality news is a public good, there is a good case for public support – but the very nature of newsgathering makes it dangerous for government to become its paymaster.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So, with the help of the panel, I am reviewing a wide range of possible interventions. None is likely to reverse a trend which is much more pronounced among younger readers. The newsgathering industry will look very different in a decade, whatever the review recommends. But without plural trustworthy sources of high-quality news, both local and national democracy will be weakened.</p><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"> Democracy and government </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 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Democracy and government openMedia Journalism Power and the Media Frances Cairncross Fri, 14 Sep 2018 12:20:37 +0000 Frances Cairncross 119659 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Parliament watchdog probes Rees-Mogg’s hard Brexit lobby group over “other sources of funding” https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/parliament-watchdog-probes-rees-mogg-s-hard <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>EXCLUSIVE: Emails released by UK parliamentary standards watchdog reveal a ‘second’ bank account held by the powerful ERG group of Tory MPs, as they pressure May to abandon Chequers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Official_portrait_of_Mr_Jacob_Rees-Mogg_crop_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Official_portrait_of_Mr_Jacob_Rees-Mogg_crop_1.jpg" alt="Jacob Rees-Mogg, official portrait" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jacob Rees-Mogg. Image: UK Parliament,&nbsp;<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)</a> </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The UK parliamentary standards watchdog is probing the financial affairs of a group of Tory ultra-Brexiteers, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Brexit Minister Steve Baker, openDemocracy can reveal today.</p><p dir="ltr">The European Research Group (ERG) has dominated news headlines this week, with reports of plots to oust prime minister Theresa May if she does not abandon her Chequers plan, and putting forward <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/12/eurosceptic-group-paper-on-irish-border-offers-no-breakthrough-ideas-erg">heavily criticised proposals for the Irish border</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">In June, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) wrote to the ERG seeking clarification about how it uses taxpayer money – and other unknown “sources of funding”. &nbsp;IPSA was reacting to concerns about public money being misused to support the ERG’s high-profile political campaign for a hard-line, uncompromised Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">The ERG has received ‘research funds’ (<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">paid out of MPs’ expense claims</a>, and therefore ultimately funded by the taxpayer) from the offices of key current and former cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling, David Gauke and David Davis. The group uses one bank account to lodge the funds received from IPSA for parliamentary ‘research’ services.</p><p dir="ltr">However in June this year the ERG confirmed to IPSA that it holds a second bank account for paying for drinks, MPs’ breakfasts and other expenses. The existence of the second account was not referred to in IPSA’s initial review of the group’s research output, which was conducted last year. At the time, IPSA concluded that “the ERG was found to have noticeably less formal governance structure and internal controls… which could present a risk to compliance.”</p><p dir="ltr">IPSA has subsequently requested assurances from the hard-Brexit group about the way different income streams are managed through the two bank accounts. IPSA told the ERG it required “further conversation with you about how this separation [of accounts and funds] is maintained.” Groups are not allowed to use parliamentary funding for “party-political purposes.”</p><p dir="ltr">The ERG responded by saying that the second bank account “pays for occasional functions, MPs’ breakfasts, drinks, etc. That’s it really.” </p><p dir="ltr">IPSA met the ERG in early July to discuss the matter. openDemocracy have requested further information from IPSA about this meeting and the ERG’s second bank account. </p><p dir="ltr">The ERG is highly secretive about its membership list, even though its activities are taxpayer-funded. The group is thought to include 80 Tory MPs, and it is currently under no obligation to publish its accounts. </p><p dir="ltr">The result is that the British public is entitled to very little information about the financial and political activities of a key group of Tory MPs which colleagues say operates as a “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">party-within-a-party</a>”, and which stands accused of <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-customs-union-rules-brexit-brexiteers-tory-conservatives-a8332101.html">holding Theresa May hostage</a> over the final deal with Brussels.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Political neutrality a “bad joke”, says Tory MP</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 15.55.10.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 15.55.10.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="436" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Email from IPSA to the ERG, asking them to provide materials on which they will be assessed, obtained by openDemocracy under the Freedom of Information Act.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">According to emails obtained by openDemocracy, one ERG bank account lodges the funds received from MPs who claim taxpayers cash for so-called “pooled research.” Since 2011 this has amounted to at least £300,000 – but, as the ERG refuses to publish its full membership list of MPs, the true figure could be far higher. </p><p dir="ltr">However in emails exchanged between the ERG and IPSA, the parliamentary watchdog states that the ERG has “other sources of funding” which “presumably can be used for campaigning/party political activity”. </p><p dir="ltr">IPSA told the ERG that they had a responsibility to “seek assurances” that funds were being properly used. </p><p dir="ltr">In another email sent to IPSA in June this year, the ERG states that it does not, as a research group, “do political campaigning.” This assurance followed an openDemocracy investigation last year which revealed that taxpayer cash was being used to fund what many Tory and Labour MPs saw <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/mps-demand-full-investigation-of-hard-brexit-backing-tory-party-within-par">as partisan political activity.</a> &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">After openDemocracy’s reporting on this issue last year, IPSA said it “examined” the ERG’s research output and concluded it was largely “factual and informative” and not “party-political”. However, the extent of the review appears to have been limited to a basic request to the ERG to submit a selection of “briefing material”. &nbsp;<br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" />The review had limited concerns over only one ERG document, which said that Labour’s decision to vote against the Withdrawal Bill in 2017 was “irresponsible, a breach of trust with their voters and a vote to create chaos.” IPSA told the ERG that it should “avoid using similar language in the future.”</p><p dir="ltr">One Tory MP familiar with the output of the ERG questioned whether the group’s output could be seen as not party-political: “IPSA must have been handed a nicely filleted folder of safe stuff if it reached the conclusion that all was fair and balanced. ERG activities of the last week alone show the idea of party political neutrality to be a bad joke,” the MP told openDemocracy.</p><h2 dir="ltr">“Alternative solutions” to Chequers</h2><p dir="ltr">The lobbying company headed by Lynton Crosby, CTF Partners, were reported by The Sunday Times to be working with the ERG to derail Theresa May’s proposed deal with the EU worked out at Chequers in July. The CTF-ERG tie-up is thought to be targeting May with the aim of replacing her with Boris Johnson before all the strands of any Brexit deal are formally secured. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The ERG were also reported to have hired Hans Maessen, the former president of the Dutch customs association, to help them compile alternative solutions to the Chequers plan. </p><p dir="ltr">It is not clear if CTF Partners are charging the ERG their usual retainer fee, regarded as being among the highest in the UK lobbying industry. Maessen has also refused to comment on the veracity of the ERG link, or if he is working with Rees-Mogg on a pro bono basis. </p><p dir="ltr">This week a private meeting of the ERG with more than 50 MPs attending reportedly discussed ways of ousting the prime minister. The gathering, in the Thatcher Room at Portcullis House, considered the timing of a possible confidence vote against the PM if she did not ditch the Chequers plan. </p><p dir="ltr">Under current parliamentary funding rules, MPs must not use IPSA funding for party political purposes. In another email sent to the ERG in September last year, IPSA make it clear that “party political briefings are not eligible for IPSA funding.”</p><p dir="ltr">One Tory MP who has previously been outspoken about the influence of the ERG told openDemocracy that the immediate unity of the Conservative party was now in the hands of “a few historically blind and economically innumerate ideologues.” They added: “Both IPSA and the Electoral Commission should do all they can to make public everything they know on this group of MPs."</p><h2 dir="ltr">‘No comment’ on other sources of Brexit cash</h2><p dir="ltr">The Electoral Commission (EC) is legally entitled to be informed of donations above £7,500 to the ERG. One donation of £10,000 was lodged with the commission in March last year. The name ‘Paul Dyer’ is listed by the regulator. No further details are given. </p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, in 2016 £6,500 was given to the ERG by <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/meet-scottish-tory-behind-425000-dup-brexit-donation">the obscure Glasgow-based Constitutional Research Council (CRC)</a>, the organisation responsible for channelling the controversial £435,000 pro-Brexit donation to Northern Ireland’s DUP ahead of the 2016 EU referendum. Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, then chair of the ERG, said the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/01/brexit-minister-linked-to-group-that-used-loophole-to-channel-435000-to-dup">CRC cash</a> was used to fund a Christmas 2016 hospitality party for ERG members. </p><p dir="ltr">The CRC’s chair, Richard Cook, has refused to comment on where the money given to the ERG originated, just as he has refused to divulge where the controversial DUP donation came from. He is not required by law to do either.</p><p dir="ltr">As no accounts are published by the ERG, there is no way of verifying if other donations of under £7,500 have been received and lodged in the non-IPSA bank account. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Theresa May’s gamble</h2><p dir="ltr">The ERG’s power as a group of unified Brexiters who want a clean, no-ties break with Brussels will be crucial to the outcome of the UK parliament’s vote on whatever Brexit deal Britain makes with the European Union.</p><p dir="ltr">Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister credited with transforming the ERG from quiet irrelevance into a forceful, secretive unit that Downing Street cannot ignore, told a private meeting in Westminster this week that 80 Tory MPs would vote against the prime minister’s Chequers’ plan. </p><p dir="ltr">Whether Baker is overplaying the influence of MPs under his control is unclear, but it remains a risk Number 10 has not yet been prepared to take. It is understood that the current Brexit minister, Dominic Raab, conducts a daily telephone update call to either Baker or Rees-Mogg on the state of negotiations with Brussels. </p><p dir="ltr">Full details of the information contained in the IPSA emails seen by openDemocracy were put to Rees-Mogg’s ERG office. The group was asked to comment on its accounts, on any financial relationship with Sir Lynton Crosby and Hans Maessen, and on the research material it sent to IPSA. </p><p dir="ltr">At the time of publication no reply had been received. </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/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/six-of-theresa-may-s-cabinet-are-paid-up-members-of-secret-group-demanding">Six of Theresa May’s cabinet are paid up “members” of secret group demanding a total break from the European Union </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">UK Government minister hides leading role with hard Brexit group</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/tory-ministers-taxpayer-cash-hard-Brexit-erg">MPs demand ‘urgent investigation’ into Cabinet ministers&#039; support for hard-Brexit lobby group</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy James Cusick Thu, 13 Sep 2018 14:44:00 +0000 James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghegan 119641 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ancient Britons and the Republican dream https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-ascherson/ancient-britons-and-republican-dream <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Neal Ascherson's lecture from 1985 feels more relevant than ever.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's note: openDemocracy's founder Anthony Barnett has a habit I have picked up of paraphrasing a wonderful quote from the Scottish writer Neal Ascherson: "</em><em>it is not possible to build democratic socialism by using the institutions of the Ancient British state... in the way that it is not possible to induce a vulture to give milk". Anthony used this line in the article with which he <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=EUXqDAAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PA34&amp;lpg=PA34&amp;dq=neal+ascherson+volutre+charter+88&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=FVkz7yGCxI&amp;sig=oNAA4J1rNkgrGEQcQDb3FDvIyRQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwj4rMuM6rfdAhXsIMAKHaW6BNAQ6AEwAnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=neal%20ascherson%20volutre%20charter%2088&amp;f=false">launched Charter 88 in 1988</a>, and he, and then I, have repeated versions of it ever since. However, whenever I've asked Anthony where Neal actually said this, he hasn't been able to remember, and when I idly Googled it, most responses were Anthony quoting it, rather than the primary source.</em></p><p><em> Recently, when writing a chapter on the constitution for our forthcoming e-book "New Thinking For the British Economy", I decided to spend some time finding the original source. It turned out to be from the 1986 </em><em>Mackintosh Memorial Lecture at Edinburgh University and the full text is a wonderful piece of both analysis and rhetoric. Though delivered a year after I was born, much of it feels even more pertinent now. I asked Neal for permission to publish it here, which he has kindly granted. Enjoy. Adam Ramsay, oD-UK editor. PS, you can now watch my interview with Neal in 2017 on Brexit and the break up of Britain at the bottom of the article. </em></p><p><em>------------------------------<br /></em></p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Vulture_-_Sky_burial.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Vulture_-_Sky_burial.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Jaqen, Wikimedia commons</span></span></span></em></p><p>“The country is filled with anxiety and ill-feeling, and with the sense of a dishonoured public life”. </p><p>So writes Karl Miller, in the introduction to the latest anthology from the London Review of Books which he edits. It is a moral statement, placing in a moral category all that is now amiss with the economy, the political style and the distribution of power in the United Kingdom. As such, I take it to be fully in the tradition of John Mackintosh. One of his gifts, often disconcerting to his party colleagues, was his capacity to judge and speak as a citizen and not only as a politician. This implies a language which is not that of U-turns or of so-called “presentation”, but of right and wrong, health and sickness. The United Kingdom, and Scotland within that kingdom, is in a poor way, which is liable to grow in both senses poorer; but there is a strange paralysis of the political ingenuity which might alleviate the situation. As they said in Warsaw in 1981, “the Polish crisis is that nobody knows how to find a way out of it”. John Mackintosh was an Enlightenment man, certain that the power of rebellious reason could overcome. I know that he would have found our present-day fog of resignation the real dishonour of public life. </p> <p>By using the phrase Ancient Britons in my title, I am suggesting that we live in an archaic political society. Its myth of origin is in many ways as fraudulent as the myth of an Ancient Britain served by all-wise Druids. It is the painful contradiction between this unreformed political structure and the rapid transformation of our social environment which is responsible for much of that “anxiety and ill-feeling”, and which lies at the root of economic dysfunction, mass unemployment and the growing antagonisms between society and the repressive power of the state. Perhaps it seems strange to write of the present Government as archaic, or an instrument of archaism. Mrs Thatcher is a moderniser, in her own terms, and her Government is anti-historical in at least two ways. She has severely cut state support for culture in all its aspects, from education as a whole through the British Council to the maintenance and development of the past through archaeology or conservation. Moreover, she has declared war on a number of institutions which she accuses of wishing to turn Britain into a museum, most prominently traditional trade unionism. </p><p>But in fact this leader’s call to modernity rests heavily upon appeals – often spurious – to the values of the past. Patrick Wright, in his book <em>On Living in an Old Country</em>, remarks: “The Falklands adventure made a new combination possible: this small war enabled Thatcher to draw up the legitimising traditions of the “nation” around a completely unameliorated ‘modernising’ monetarist programme. This new and charismatic style of legitimisation fused a valorisation of national tradition and identity with a policy and programme which is fundamentally destructive of the customary ways and values to which it appeals”. </p> <p>Critical of some aspects of the past, Mrs Thatcher is all the more uncritical about the political heritage – above all, about the nature of the British State. Note the November 1985 Queen’s Speech, with its emphasis on the enforcement of public order and even more reduction of those few liberties still left to local government. There is a queer dialectic between the relaxation of economic controls and the dismantling of the welfare state on one hand, and a striking increase in the repressive and centralising power of the state on the other, a dialectic which this Conservative government has dramatised rather than initiated, for it was also beginning to operate under the 1970s Labour governments. It was this prime minister who articulated the pseudo-historical slogan of “Victorian values”. But harping on the theme of “national unity” (supposed to be an essential Victorian feature) is a nervous twanging practised in our times by all the main political parties. I would oppose to this a remark made recently in Le Monde by the sociologist Alain Touraine, who asked: “Should we not recognise the inevitable and even desirable existence of conflicts between the strategy of the state and the demands of public opinion? Instead of subjugating society to the state or the state to society, let us admit that it’s the nature of the western world to experience an ever growing separation between the state and civil society”. He goes on to deplore the absence in France of a demanding public opinion willing or capable to argue for this separation in the face of the State. We are not much better off in Britain. </p> <p>I believe that the British State is to be categorised as an “ancien regime”. It is closer in spirit to the monarchy overthrown in 1789 than to the republican constitutions which followed in France and elsewhere in Europe. It is true that French Jacobin republicanism introduced – or perhaps reinforced – a rigid centralisation of state power which has some parallels in the extreme overcentralism of modern Britain. But it also established the doctrine of popular sovereignty, based on the notion of the rights of man, expressed in a constitution of supreme authority to which the citizen could – in theory – appeal over the heads even of the National Assembly. I am arguing here for a British version of republicanism, and it is my view that while Jacobin centralism is exceptional among republican projects, the principle of popular sovereignty and a written constitution is an almost universal element of definition. </p><h2>Our Ancien Régime </h2> <p>We all know about the penalty Britain has paid for its economic priority – for being the first nation to experience an industrial revolution. We understand much less well the penalties incurred by Britain’s – more properly, England’s – priority in political development, by the fact that England underwent in the 17th century the first modern revolution. The English Revolution, to put it crudely, simply transferred absolutism from the king to Parliament. One may talk about the doctrine of the Crown in Parliament: the reality is that the House of Commons still possesses an absolute, undivided sovereignty which no Republic, “unie et indivisible”, can match. In effect, no higher institution can overrule what the Commons may decide by the majority of one vote. There is no doctrine of popular sovereignty – the half-formed Scottish version of that doctrine vanished with the Union of Parliaments in 1707. There is no written constitution, as the supreme authority to which the subject can appeal. There is no way in which Parliament can share its absolute power, except by lending it as a loan revocable at any moment – a lesson we in Scotland learned during the devolution debates. Federation is unthinkable. It would entrench rights in a part of the United Kingdom which Parliament alone could not overrule. For the Druids of Westminster, charged with weeding the sacred grove, such an impious violation of the sovereignty of Parliament would bring the oak trees crashing to the ground-no doubt leading to crop failure, plague and Roman invasion as well. </p> <p>Under this Ancient British regime, the subject is almost helpless before the huge extension of state power that has taken place since 1945 and which is still taking place. The idea that the subject has an effective recourse against the executive through his MP has long been a joke, which the introduction of various ombudsmen has only made richer. A proliferation of isolated tribunals only makes the absence of a coherent code of administrative law more glaring (another institution which would require a written constitution and falls under the Druid ban). The principle of official secrecy still renders the defence of civil rights (which strictly we do not enjoy, as they are not embodied in positive law) about as easy as the work of a jeweller under a 15-watt bulb. </p> <p>How often these complaints have been lodged-by John Mackintosh, in particular! And yet the ancien regime persists, the weight of its inefficiency more crushing every year, almost untouched by Republican principle. In what sense is it “ours”? In Poland, Lech Walesa is one of many who have referred to the nation as a “house”. The image suggests a tenement, overcrowded and dilapidated no doubt, whose inhabitants none the less recognise a duty to hold together; not to quarrel irrevocably, but to co-operate in repairing the fabric. That is a usable metaphor for the value of national unity. But Britain as “nation” seems to me to present itself less as a house than as a temple-that sacred grove, indeed. We do not live inside this grove, but outside it; we approach it, perhaps tiptoe across its turf on suitably escorted occasions; we pay it reverence but we do not own it, we, the living. For this nation-grove belongs to the nation of myth which includes the dead ancestors. “They” are the major component of “we”. </p><p>We are dealing here with a concept of almost biological continuity which blatantly derives from the central principle of sanctified monarchy – the principle of hereditary succession. Applied to a whole society, it is a collectivism which submits the appeal of the individual in the present to a constitutional court of ghosts and skeletons – to the judgment of the past. It is no bad definition of the republican spirit to say that a Republic keeps the dead firmly in their place – not necessarily a dishonourable one, but certainly not a place of authority. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">a Republic keeps the dead firmly in their place</p><p>It is an irony that a government so dedicated to laissez-faire and to private enterprise presides over a state regime whose ethos is so collectivist. Its creed of economic individualism has, in this sense, no effective institutional foundations. The historian Larry Siedentop has observed3 that “the liberalism of the British constitution has been an essentially pre-individualist liberalism”. Britain was scarcely touched by the great social-political conflicts of continental Europe, between monarch and people, between empire and nation, between the lay state and the universal Church, out of which emerged republics based on the codified rights OF the individual. </p> <p>And yet we often decribe Britain as a middle-class democracy, and is not militant individualism the defining characteristic of a middle class? Well, often and in most places-and I would include Scotland among most places, here as in so many other areas closer to the model of a small, normal European nation. But in England this generalisation runs into severe difficulties. In the 1960s the group around the New Left Review drew attention to the limited social and political results of the 17th-century upheaval and suggested that England had not experienced a bourgeois revolution. This absence would go a long way to explain, within the Marxist schema, the inner weakness of the British Left and the peculiar difficulties of approaching the threshold of a proletarian revolution. Another way of attacking the problem is to note the extent to which the English middle class, especially the later industrial bourgeoisie, adopted aristocratic values which hindered the development of that confidence and dynamism thought proper to their class. </p><p>In a remarkable article published eight years ago in The Spectator, Siedentop asked why the British middle classes had ceased to be the carriers of an individualist concept of society. Tocqueville had warned of the plight of a society which had lost the advantages of the aristocratic condition without gaining the advantages of the democratic condition. Siedentop wrote: “The very openness of British society in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries led . . . to the middle classes assuming quasi-aristocratic attitudes and accepting a more corporate conception of society . . . There followed a partial collapse or failure of middle-class values and ideology which is basic to an understanding of the condition of Britain today. It is the chief reason why the individualist movement here has been contained, if not reversed”. </p> <p>He remarked that “the weakness of the individualist drive – what Marxists would call bourgeois ideology – is costing Britain dear. For that is the reason why Britain has not developed the impulse which might be expected from the wider spread of education, income and opportunity”. </p> <p>It is another of those contradictions in which Thatcherism seems so rich that the individualist drive is being frantically signalled forward with whistles and green lights precisely at the moment when that “wider spread” of education, opportunity and income has been stopped dead in its tracks and even induced to move some way backwards. So far, I do not see much response to green lights in the manufacturing sector, although the City of London is very appreciative. Travelling as a journalist, I frequently meet British salesmen and businessmen abroad. Their appetite for commerce and competition is still curiously weak. I look for contrast to – for example – West German businessmen I know, who show every sign of actually enjoying buying and selling. The activity which brings them profit also brings them pleasure. They admit this quite shamelessly. But captains of British industry suggest that they carry out their thankless duty of manufacture and commerce for the sake of the nation, a sort of defensive self-identification as public servants in private clothing! The corporate spirit of aristocracy again. The capitalist tiger prefers to register himself as the regimental mascot- sheep. </p> <p>The point is this. The historic weakness of the English middle class proceeds from exactly that seventeenth-century compromise from which the British constitution proceeds. The middle class identifies with the ancien régime and is unable to see the advantages of overthrowing it and advancing to a condition of politically-guaranteed individualism. In return, however, the archaic nature of our State arrangements and the corporate ethic which they encourage repress bourgeois initiative at every turn. A recent poll in the Mail on Sunday reported that 48 per cent of the sample considered themselves not to be ambitious. I would not go as far as an American psychology textbook I picked up many years ago, which stated in its first chapter: “Absence of the competitive instinct must be considered the primary neurosis.” All the same, such a degree of resignation in a western capitalist society in the 1980sis very startling indeed. </p><p>Let me sum this topic up with a statement which is already becoming worn by use-or perhaps by my own over-use of it in the past few years. It is commonly and comfortingly said that there is nothing basically wrong with British institutions – “the finest in the world” – but that they are not working well at present because the economy is in such a bad state. The reverse is true. The reason that the British economy does not work is that British institutions are in terminal decay. </p> <h2>Trapped in History </h2> <p>The Druids are determined that we shall not perceive this. I have spoken of the cult of the Ancient British grove, in which the dead are not “they” but part of “we”. What has come down to the present is defined as “heritage”, imposing duties as well as conferring privileges, an essential component of national and personal identity. It was the sharp ear of Patrick Wright which picked up the television commentator at the raising of the Mary Rose as he observed that ‘‘we had not seen her for over 400 years . . .” </p> <p>Here is the notion of a historical continuum. Now, I do not deny that a cult of history, a sense of continuum, can be invigorating. I know Poland too well to deny it. Polish nationalism and radicalism have always been restorative. In 1863, the Russian exile Alexander Herzen tried in vain to bring into a common front the Russian and the Polish enemies of the Tsar. He concluded: “The ideal of the Poles was behind them; they strove towards their past from which they had been cut off by violence and which was the only starting-point from which they could advance again. They had masses of holy relics, while we had empty cradles”. </p> <p>Within the sealed time-capsule of Polish experience, mere linear time becomes distorted. The poetic dramas of the early nineteenth century have a utility and relevance as direct as that of a telephone directory, for Poland’s plight has not changed its essential shape since then, and the cast of characters spawned by that plight change only in the way that the names of actors change as they succeed to a part. Events which are important appear to have happened more recently than less significant ones. Some events which ruptured the sealed continuum are agreed not to have taken place at all. For most of my life, the Royal Castle at Warsaw has been a hole in the ground. Now, however, the guide who takes you round the minutely-reproduced Castle will point across a courtyard and draw your attention to “the only Renaissance window which survived the baroque reconstruction”. The window has been there all the time, the Castle has been there all the time, but some malign disturbance of the ether made it for a while impossible to perceive. </p><p>Conservatism, in the literal sense, can go no further than this. This is not to say that Polish political aims are reactionary, but that-as with Solidarity-they wish to restore relics that are familiar: independence, social justice, civil liberty, the limiting of state power. The Russian cradle, filled in 1917, is empty again. But if another child is ever laid there, its face will be entirely new. </p> <p>English manipulation of history is quite different. Here, time is linear to a perfectly oppressive degree. We are gazing from the terrace of a country house down carefully-landscaped perspectives of barbered lawns and positioned trees. The eye is masterfully led down a vista of elements (this battle, that cabinet) chosen to combine with one another into a single artistic experience. You could say: “Prune back that Reform bush and make the Tolpuddlia bed twice as big”. But you would feel a bit of a vandal. </p> <p>I’m exaggerating, of course. There is vigorous argument among English gardeners, and items of history are being repositioned all the time. But there is still an assumption that “our” (in quotes) history can only have one focal point, one perspective. In France, by contrast, it is thought evident that French history as perceived by a Communist, by a middle-of-the-road Republican and by a Catholic monarchist will be a matter of three quite different gardens. This is emphatically not Druidic thinking. But there is another contrast to English historical landscaping, and that is the Scottish awareness of Scottish history. It isn’t an insult to the enormous pioneering work of historians here in the last 40 years to suggest that the public perception of history in Scotland remains chaotic. Time is not generally used to enforce perspective, and instead there is a scrapbook of highly coloured, often bloody scenes or tableaux whose sequence or relation to one another is obscure. But there is a source of energy in this dislocation. As in Poland, what is more intense appears to be in some way nearer: its impact is not diminished by informed distancing. I take for example the tableau of the murder of Archibishop Sharp on Magus Muir which has so powerfully seized the imagination of Scottish writers. Innocent of context, stripped of explanation, this murder takes place always now, in our Scotland. The contorted face of Hackston who has bungled the killing and is now urging his horse to stamp on Sharp’s head is your face and my face; when the screaming is over and they open Sharp’s little snuffbox to find his familiar, we all hear distinctly in the silence the sound of the bumble- bee escaping from the box and spiralling away across the heather. Walter Scott tried to play the Druid, to organise scenes like these into a mere heritage and say that they were over. But he did not really succeed, and the ferocity latent-occasionally patent-in Scottish society shows they are not over. </p><h2>The Orthodoxy of Labour </h2> <p>I have tried to outline some of the ways in which a particularly English historiography and concept of the continuous nation has been used to legitimise the ancien régime--the unreformed British State-and to discourage republican ideas. But of course the question is not just how to describe this but how to change it, and here we come up against a great curiosity. Why is it that the idea of radical constitutional reform appeals only to the centre of British politics? (It’s no mystery why it appeals to nationalist movements in Scotland or Wales.) The Social Democrats have proposed sweeping changes; the Liberals have for many years supported proportional representation and constitutional reform, including federalism. Both parties in the Alliance have published versions of that formula which attribute economic failure to the decay of institutions. The curiosity is that the Labour Party remain, in their overwhelming majority, hostile to this approach. We ought to remember, once again, John Mackintosh’s lonely struggle to persuade his Party to think, in the wider sense, politically. But the orthodoxy of Labour, transmitted down the Tribunite line from Bevan to Foot, has remained a sort of debased economic Jacobinism. One day, the unreformed electoral system will deliver another huge Labour majority in Parliament, which will use centralised state power to redistribute wealth. This remains the dream. It would be unfair not to mention some recent, if marginal changes of emphasis, like Labour’s new regional policy which would transfer some responsibility for economic growth to local initiative. But Labour are not a republican party. Labour still believe that they can achieve their ends through the existing State, through existing institutions. </p> <p>Labour’s outlook remains corporatist rather than individualist. Siedentop, to quote his Spectatorarticle again, blames the absence of a powerful middle-class ethic. He writes: “Just as the French bourgeoisie acquiesced during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the growth of centralised royal power, in order to destroy their local aristocratic oppressors, so the British working class has acquiesced in the centralisation of power during the twentieth century in order to destroy what it sees as social privilege – the middle class masquerading as an aristocracy”. </p> <p>One could stop to argue about the wisdom of a policy of class defence, in a period when working people are so intensely concerned with their individual rather than their collective destinies. But I am more interested in the consequences of Labour’s fatal fascination with the instruments of actually-existing Britain. The consequences can be implied by stating this proposition, which is fundamental: it is not possible to build democratic socialism by using the institutions of the Ancient British state. Under that I include the present doctrine of sovereignty, Parliament, the electoral system, the Civil Service – the whole gaudy old heritage. It is not possible, in the way that it is not possible to induce a vulture to give milk. The British régime is designed to preserve privilege, to prevent the effective distribution of power and to smother the individual who counterposes his own interests to the collective interest of the mythic nation. It is democratic in the sense that the Powderhall Sprint is democratic; it is socialist in the sense that the National Coal Board is socialist. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">it is not possible to build democratic socialism by using the institutions of the Ancient British state. Under that I include the present doctrine of sovereignty, Parliament, the electoral system, the Civil Service – the whole gaudy old heritage. It is not possible, in the way that it is not possible to induce a vulture to give milk. </p><p>The Jacobins themselves knew that the Revolution required new institutions. Marxism’s warnings about the problems of a socialist movement confronted with the state apparatus of the previous régime have stood up well-tragically well-to experience. But Labour appear still to believe that the British Parliament under George II could have composed the American Constitution and applied it to the Thirteen Colonies. </p> <p>So it appears that in fact it is precisely Labour, out of all the British parties, which stands to gain most from constitutional change, but which is most stoutly opposed to it – dismissing it, indeed, as a middle-class irrelevance. Instead, Labourism makes an effort to claim the heritage for itself, and compete with the Tories as the party of “the nation”. This is not only absolutely unhistorical, in a multinational state like the United Kingdom. It is doomed to failure even as a tactic, for this is a game which the Tories and the regime itself will always win. Patrick Wright’ suggests that Labour’s failure to appropriate the “nation” is inevitable “not least because the nation to which Thatcher appeals so successfully is articulated . . . against post-war statist reform. While actually increasing the powers of the centralised state, this Conservatism is also thriving on widespread disillusion with the bureaucratic corporatism of the welfare state”. The nation or national interest to which Labour appeals, Wright goes on, is perceived as grey, inhuman and undignified. “Starkly opposed to this, ‘the nation’ to which Thatcher has learned to appeal is full of adventure, grandeur, ideas of freedom, ceremony and conscripted memories (of childhood or war, for example) . . . There are indeed ‘two nations’ in the symbolism of Thatcher’s Britain, but these are not the two nations of habitual definition: the division is not so much between rich and poor or North and South, but rather between the grand . . . symbolism of Empire and War on one hand and the bureaucratic imagery of the welfare state on the other”. </p> <p>In whose name, then, should a mass party of the Left speak in Britain of the 1980s? Not in the name of the nation, but not in the name of one class either. How about in the name of the people? It is not a nation or a class which demands Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, but the living – all the living – inhabitants of a definite country at a definite moment: now. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">It is not the last king or queen who should be beheaded. It is the last Druid whose brains should be knocked out with the last volume of Walter Bagehot. </p> <p>It is for the Left, above all, to develop this notion of a “people”, free of British national mythology but also free of a false, defensive collectivism which threatens to become part of that mythology. Democratic socialism is about co-operation and community. But that can now only be reached by an indirect route. Labour cannot get there by syndical and class struggle alone; it must become the party of individual liberty as well, fighting for the rights of the citizen, for his power to challenge the bureaucracy, for institutions which enfranchise him – whether these are administrative courts or local pressure groups or community co-operatives. A war against the state is waiting to be fought by a mass “freedom party” of the Left. Its battles should be for a written constitution, for the doctrine of popular sovereignty, for a just electoral law based on proportional representation, for a code of administrative law and a constitutional court, for a sweeping reform of Parliament and its proceedings, for the option of federal status for those parts of the United Kingdom that wish it, for an entrenched grant of far greater competences to local authorities including the power to levy variable rates of taxation, for the demolition of the English legal professions and their replacement by a judicial system in which justice is affordable and judges come from all classes and age groups . . . For the abolition of the monarchy? I hold this to be – in Reformation language – “a thing indifferent”. If the cult of the archaic nation is demolished, the monarchy – no longer called upon to sanctify it – will reduce to the scale of a harmless focus of affection and newspaper scuttlebutt. It is not the last king or queen who should be beheaded. It is the last Druid whose brains should be knocked out with the last volume of Walter Bagehot. </p><p>We are living in an increasingly airless room. Hope has been pumped out of it, and replaced by a scent of decay, by Karl Miller’s “anxiety and ill-feeling and . . . sense of a dishonoured public life”. If unreformed State power goes on expanding, and popular misery deepens, convul- sions and unconsciousness will ensue. We must escape, or at least kick open the windows. We must transfer power to the people, but that will remain a dead political cliche until Labour, especially, understand that this transfer cannot now be achieved by the old, direct methods of syndical and class struggle, still less by a Labour government acting through the British State. This society requires drastic and immediate constitutional change. And the simplest way of justifying that change is to say that it would allow people, at last, to fight for themselves. </p><p><em>See Adam Ramsay's interview with Neal Ascherson about Brexit and the break up of the British state below.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FopenDemocracyUK%2Fvideos%2F1567954896572024%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe><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="/ourkingdom/2008/03/12/parliamentary-sovereignty-is-a-dead-parrot">Parliamentary sovereignty is a dead parrot</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/laurie-macfarlane/democratic-socialism-why-left-should-demand-new-constitution">Democratic Socialism: Why the Left should demand a new Constitution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/corbyns-golden-opportunity-0">Corbyn&#039;s golden opportunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/how-should-greens-respond-to-corbyn">How should Greens respond to Corbyn?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/why-does-uk-need-constitutional-convention-interview-with-anthony-barnett">Why does the UK need a constitutional convention? An interview with Anthony Barnett</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/haunted-election">The haunted election</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Neal Ascherson Thu, 13 Sep 2018 11:34:55 +0000 Neal Ascherson 119640 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Universal basic services: ending austerity forever https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/universal-basic-services-ending-austerity-forever <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The premise of “austerity” is that there isn’t enough money to deliver a decent standard of living for all because there was a financial market crash in 2008. To banish this idea from the politi... </div> </div> </div> The premise of “austerity” is that there isn’t enough money to deliver a decent standard of living for all because there was a financial market crash in 2008. To banish this idea from the political landscape we must tackle the cost of accessing the essential ingredients that allow anyone to live a decent life. That is the aim of Universal Basic Services (UBS), and <a href="http://ubs-hub.org/">our report</a> from UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity clearly demonstrates that this is easily and practically within our grasp. For less than 2.3% of GDP, we showed that we can kiss austerity goodbye and welcome in a new age of joy and freedom that would make the UK the envy of the world. We already have the NHS and free education, now we just need to extend the same ethos to housing, transport, information access and food. Imagine for a moment living in a UK with 1.5 million extra social housing units, no Council Tax for the poorest, free local transport, basic Internet access for everyone, and community food programs designed and delivered locally that would ensure that no family need again be scared of not having a meal. That UK would be utterly transformed from the one we live in today: free from fear, free from destitution, and well fair to everyone. Universal access to basic services will require substantial devolution of power and responsibility to local democracies – and that’s a good thing. But it will also require an upgrade of our local democracies. Our UBS budget included funding for 650 new local assemblies with well paid, locally elected representatives who would have direct democratic control over the administration of UBS funds. The revenue for the UBS would be collected from taxation and guarantees basic services to all citizens. Austerity is a top-down policy from a distant national parliament that has starved local services of funding. UBS is the opposite, and restores power, money and control back to democratic institutions closest to the citizens they serve. To make this increase in investment in our people and our lives we will need to raise a little more tax. Our report fully funded the proposals with an extra £20.42 a week net coming from the top half of all earners. This would take the UK’s total tax take to around 43% which is around the average of the EU19 countries, and less than France at 45%. The value of the basic services is worth £126 a week to anyone who uses all of the services, which is basically like an 80% pay rise for those on the lowest incomes. People who use the services have their costs reduced, which is the same as a pay rise (this effect is sometimes called a “social wage”). With an ageing population, having adequate health and social care effects everyone. Young people need access to the same level of social services their parents enjoyed. Reducing costs for ordinary people is the key to ending austerity for ever. If we want to escape the cyclical battles over ‘tax and spend’ policies, we need to shift the focus to the cost of living crisis. Ten years on from the 2008 financial crisis, it is time for austerity to end. We must ask a deeper question: are we willing to stop asking for more money, and start asking for a better life? <em>This article is part of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/making-another-economic-future-possible-100-policies-end-austerity/">'100 Policies to End Austerity'</a> series in collaboration with the <a href="https://progressiveeconomyforum.com/">Progressive Economy Forum</a>. </em><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk WP imported wagtail Andrew Percy Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:46:15 +0000 Andrew Percy 119613 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Platform parties vs plutocrat PR: welcome to the future of UK politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/platform-parties-vs-plutocrat-pr-welcome-to-future-of-uk-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Deserted by members, right-wing parties serve the rich, while people have flocked to centre and left alternatives, only to be smeared as "dogs" and "Trots".</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 16.02.45.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 16.02.45.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="234" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"SNP Live", 2016. Image, YouTube, Fair Use.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The SNP has more members than the Conservatives. Labour is the biggest it’s been <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/party-memberships-in-uk-some-context-tory-termination">since the Sixties</a>. The Lib Dems recruited nearly 20,000 people over 2017 and are the biggest they’ve been in 20 years, and the Greens have around twice as many members as UKIP.</p><p dir="ltr">These figures, published by the House of Commons library <a href="https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05125">last week</a>, tell an important story about the future of our politics.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Zombie members and PR nationalism </h2><p dir="ltr">Conservative party membership peaked at<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/olympic-britain/parliament-and-elections/partied-out/"> 2.8 million in the 1950s</a> and has declined rapidly ever since. By 2003 it had fallen to 273,000. It then halved under David Cameron and is now 124,000. UKIP’s membership has fallen since the Brexit referendum, from 34,293 in December 2016 to 23,280 now. And while the Tories look ripe for infiltration, the attempt by former UKIP funder Arron Banks to lead the charge seems to be failing, with, according to the Daily Express, only around 100 people joining the so-called ‘<a href="https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1012198/Brexit-news-Tory-Party-ukip-theresa-May-Arron-Banks">blue wave’</a>. It seems the Brexit movement has moved on.</p><p dir="ltr">The long-term collapse in Conservative membership correlates with a drastic fall in the size of three other traditional institutions of conservatism: the Church of England, the armed forces and farming.</p><p dir="ltr">It seems that neoliberalism has done two things to the ruling class. First, it has taught people that they can attain more power through the market than through politics: better to be a banker than an MP. Second, it’s replaced Conservative values of loyalty, discipline and hierarchy with market ‘choice’ and individualism – not notions that drive you to join a political party.</p><p dir="ltr">What this means in practice is that both of Britain’s major right-wing parties will rely more than ever on a small group of the hyper-rich to fund them, and so will increasingly represent the interests of the hyper-rich. How, for example, can a party close the loopholes that allow massive tax evasion if most of its money comes from those who squeeze through them? In the 2010 general election, the Tories got<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/feb/08/tory-funds-half-city-banks-financial-sector"> half their funding from the City</a> – effectively a bribe not to regulate the big banks after the financial crisis (they didn’t). In the next election, even more of their income can be expected to come from the plutocrats (and they already get more cash in legacies from dead members than those who are alive).</p><p dir="ltr">Similarly, the loss of Tory members indicates a lost activist base, removing both a direct line into the shifting priorities of their core voters, and vital leafletters and canvassers.</p><p dir="ltr">Historically the right would make up for that through the media, with a largely oligarch-owned press keen to push voters towards more pro-rich parties. But, just like other conservative institutions, the traditional newspapers are in freefall, as advertising revenue disappears to Google and Facebook.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead it seems likely that the Conservatives (and UKIP) will rely ever more on the growing data-driven securitised public-relations industry to reach voters through social media. Just like rich donors, this sector will expect rewards in return for loyal service. Already we’re seeing lucrative government contracts shuffle in their direction – through, for example, the privatisation of military propaganda, as we’ve seen<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda"> with Cambridge Analytica</a> and Bell Pottinger, and more generally through tacit state support for digital platform monopolies like Facebook.</p><p dir="ltr">As we’ve seen with Trump and Brexit, the strategy adopted by this nexus of offshore money and mercenary propaganda firms is to copy the divide-and-rule tactics learned in centuries of imperialism. Many of the institutions that helped construct traditional Anglo-Britishness – Protestantism, the print media, the army and the Conservative and Unionist Party – are disappearing, and so the Tories are having to switch from subtler appeals to nationalism to more explicit flag-waving. The only majority the Conservative party has won in 25 years was on the back of a campaign of Scot-bashing English nationalism, and we can expect much more of that.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Mass memberships and platform parties</h2><p dir="ltr">On the left and centre, though, something very different is happening. In the nineties and noughties, the common refrain was that young people joined single-issue campaigns and social movements, but not political parties; those with moral concerns around the world were encouraged by much of the media to channel them through consumerism, rather than politics. Worried about global poverty? Buy Fairtrade! Worried about climate change? Use low-energy light bulbs!</p><p dir="ltr">From around 2009, things started to change. Obama had been elected in the United States, meaning that for the first time since Kennedy the coolest person on earth was a politician, and banks had collapsed, meaning my generation knew we would graduate into a recession. I wrote in the spring of that year about how recent student elections <a href="https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-herald/20090407/282011848290374">had seen turnout records smashed</a> as the cohort who had been teenagers during the Iraq war came of age. Towards the end of that year, the Copenhagen climate talks fell apart, after which the climate movement dissipated, with many of its best activists resolving to change tactics.</p><p dir="ltr">Much of the energy of students and recent graduates was swept into Cleggmania in the 2010 election, and then onto the streets as the Lib Dems sold out those voters only months later. As the students of 2010/11 occupied lecture theatres and Topshops, they developed a politics of their own, fit for the age of austerity. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In September 2014 the great party turn began as these social movements flooded into political parties. First, in Scotland, tens of thousands of people joined the SNP, Scottish Greens and Scottish Socialist Party in the wake of the independence referendum.</p><p dir="ltr">In January the following year, the Green Party of England and Wales followed suit, with the ‘Green surge’. When Caroline Lucas was elected an MP in 2010, there were just over 10,000 signed-up Green members across the UK. In mid-September 2014, there were still fewer than 20,000. By March 2015, the number was<a href="https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2015/04/15/membership-of-the-green-party-of-england-and-wales-passes-60,000/"> nearly 70,000</a> (now it’s 47,000). These members came, largely, from those who had been active in – or at least politicised by – the social movements of the previous decade, who had developed a large political conversation outside the traditional media and parties.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Prominent political commentators mock Corbyn or SNP supporters as a cult, before prostrating themselves on the holy turf of Westminster</p><p dir="ltr">Then came the Corbyn surge, as huge numbers rushed into Labour, smelling the first chance to secure real change through one of the main parties of the British state for the first time in decades. Many came from the same world as the people who had joined the Greens, and some were literally the same people. Others were trade unionists who had lost automatic votes in Labour leadership elections in an attempt to cut them off from the party, but who shocked the Westminster consensus by signing up to have their say in vast numbers.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile Brexit happened. With the idea that joining a political party was once more ‘a thing I can do about this’ in the air, the Lib Dems found themselves able to attract (or re-attract) thousands of members after the damage of the coalition years; in Scotland, the SNP has seen another growth in membership as Europhiles leapt onto the independence life-raft.</p><h2 dir="ltr">What are members for?</h2><p class="mag-quote-right">the traditional media doesn’t like mass parties because editors enjoy being the gate-keepers of political debate</p><p dir="ltr">When these members are discussed, it’s usually in terms of the cash they bring the parties – Labour got £14.4 million from its members in 2016, compared with Tory membership subs of £1.5 million. During elections, they are recognised as potential campaigners. But generally, much of the old press treats party members with the scorn that you’d expect from journalists who are remnants of a wilting industry most of which has been wrong about every major event of the past decade. Prominent political commentators mock Corbyn or SNP supporters as a cult, before prostrating themselves on the holy turf of Westminster, muttering an incantation to one of its small gods (the mythic David Miliband or the ghost of Nigel Farage, dependent on denomination) and declaring that, while their previously predicted date for Corbynism’s demise may have been wrong, its end is, indeed, still nigh.</p><p dir="ltr">In part, the traditional media doesn’t like mass parties because editors enjoy being the gate-keepers of political debate. More people pay membership fees to the Labour party than buy a copy of The Times every day – or of any paper but The Sun or The Daily Mail. The SNP now has 3% of Scottish voters on its membership database, meaning its internal newsletter has six times the circulation of The Scotsman. Journalists are used to shaping the language and boundaries of political discourse, and the re-emergence of other forums for national debate is a real threat to that power. </p><p dir="ltr">Talk to vocal online supporters of the SNP or Corbyn, and you usually discover that their tone is a product of this hostility. While they are often intelligent and independently minded, they tend to see their role on social media as providing solidarity and support to their side. Whatever specific differences they may have with their leaderships, they understand that the choice is between having journalists and opponents portray them as a cult or being dismissed as split. In that context, people tend to choose discipline over discussion, ‘cult’ over conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">This is, however, a problem. Because if progressive politics is now expressed through parties, then parties must be spaces in which people can debate and discuss, where the most interesting conversation is taking place. They must create space for people to grow. They should tap into the collective genius of their members. They should be how we re-learn the art of democratic discourse in the digital age and where we develop our understanding of the world. They should be the democratic platforms through which we organise to take back control of our politics.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet the Labour NEC election and the Green leadership election – both of which declared last week – produced little discussion about what members are for, and were instead dominated by debates about antisemitism and trans rights, respectively. Labour's democracy review seems so far to have included very few ideas about how to actually empower ordinary members and, worse, many Labour MPs treat their new party colleagues as a threat. A<span class="st">ny suggestion that some of the new talent which has joined the party since 2015 might be allowed to replace some of the mediocre white men that make up most of the Labour back benches is treated as </span><span class="st">sacrilege. Online abuse is, of course, unacceptable. But the way in which so many people who have only just started to find their political voice are lumped in with abusers is also deeply worrying.</span><span class="st"></span></p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, the SNP recently outsourced its economic strategy to a panel headed by a corporate lobbyist and the Lib Dems seem to have run out of ideas, and so are attempting to launch their own cargo-cult <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyashton/the-lib-dems-are-setting-up-a-momentum-for-moderates">version of Momentum</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The parties of the left and centre have an extraordinary opportunity to reshape politics for a generation if they can work out how to empower their mass memberships in the internet age. But if they fail, they will be crushed by the hedge-fund-funded, security-digital complex of future conservatism. &nbsp; </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="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/quick-note-on-party-memberships-in-uk">A quick note on party memberships in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/neal-lawson/labours-democracy-review-should-be-about-more-than-selection-procedures">Labour&#039;s democracy review should be about more than selection procedures</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Adam Ramsay Mon, 10 Sep 2018 15:00:39 +0000 Adam Ramsay 119610 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making another economic future possible: 100 policies to end austerity https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/making-another-economic-future-possible-100-policies-to-end-austerity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The lost decade? A decade on from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), now is the time for serious reflection on where we are, how we got here and what future lies before us. In the aftermath of the 20... </div> </div> </div> <strong>The lost decade?</strong> A decade on from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), now is the time for serious reflection on where we are, how we got here and what future lies before us. In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, finance-driven capitalism appeared to be on a precipice. The collapse of leading global financial institutions in the US and UK led to a free fall in global markets, followed by the European Sovereign Debt crisis. It all seemed to herald the end of unfettered financial expansion. Indeed, many believed 2008 was another 1929 moment – a systemic crisis would bring about a New Deal style recovery and a Bretton Woods agreement for the 21st century to establish clear parameters for a stable global financial system. A decade later the outcome is far different: finance capitalism has never had it so good. The initial bailouts, deemed necessary to keep the financial system afloat, were followed by drastic reductions in interest rates that have yet to return to pre-crisis levels. Risk guarantees offered by Central Banks and Treasury Departments across the globe were committed to providing the money (liquidity) necessary to maintain the stability the global financial system. This was followed by asset buy-back schemes and long-term refinance operations which became systematised into successive rounds of Quantitative Easing (QE). Technocratic speak refers to the last decade, euphemistically, as the ‘era of unconventional monetary policy’, or the biggest ever helicopter money drop onto the financial sector in living memory. Those who believed 2008 could have been a reckoning for the failures of finance-driven growth could not be more disappointed. The financial sector is more entrenched than before the crisis, and the political power of finance to control the public policy agenda stronger than ever. <strong>Looking to the future and seeing much of the same</strong> Looking back over the past decade, even achieving an economic ‘recovery’ took longer than the Great Depression. The promises of a rebalancing of growth across Great Britain, well-funded health and education services, and prosperity for 95% that did not benefit from QE, never materialised. The failures of austerity are plain for all to see: the economy is stagnant and most people are worse off now than a decade ago. Our shared economic future only promises more austerity. Wages and incomes will continue to stagnate. The economy will be still dependent on private debt to fuel asset bubbles and ever more household debt will be needed to sustain meagre economic growth. With the economy in the doldrums and Brexit looming on the horizon, we face entrenched economic malaise or another severe financial crisis. When growth is forecast over the medium term, it is always revised downward. To put it simply, no one is predicting that the UK’s economic <a href="https://theconversation.com/austerity-has-hampered-our-ability-to-imagine-a-better-future-30435">future will get any better</a>. <strong>Making another future possible: we need an alternative policy agenda</strong> In the face of peril, we cannot lapse into fatalism. We need to break out of the perpetual loop of anti-austerity, which points to the real failures of the austerity policy agenda without clarity on viable alternatives. The <a href="http://progressiveeconomyforum.com/about/">Progressive Economy Forum (PEF)</a> seeks to dispel the myths and lies of austerity economics and replace that pernicious ideology with a progressive macroeconomic vision and narrative that makes another future possible. The aim is to develop a 21st century Keynesian policy platform, that will end today’s austerity just as Keynes’s ideas in practice helped end the Great Depression and usher in a generation of economic stability and prosperity.  In his pioneering work, <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xpw-96rynOcC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=The+General+Theory+of+Employment+Interest+and+Money&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiw__z104rcAhWPN8AKHSl0AeAQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&amp;q=The%20General%20Theory%20of%20Employment%20Interest%20and%20Money&amp;f=false">The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money</a> (page 383), Keynes famously wrote: <blockquote><em>“Practical [people] who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”</em></blockquote> Today, the global economy is gripped by these same “madmen in authority” that bring us austerity. The current “voices in the air” come from economists who are very much alive and whose scribbling continues unabashedly. In response, we must begin mapping out a new direction, to forge a different path that leads to a better future. <strong>100 policies to end austerity: a call for interventions</strong> The goal of PEF is to build a policy platform that will end austerity in a way that embraces the progressive values of equality, dynamism and sustainability. In line with openDemocracy's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/about/">New Thinking for the British Economy</a> agenda, our aim is to cultivate a rich garden of new ideas, policies and plans to end austerity by forging a new path. Our bold plan is to curate <strong>100 Policies to End Austerity</strong> as a starting point for a better future. We will bring together contributions from economists and policy experts that articulate clear proposals for a progressive, sustainable and equitable British economy for the 21st century. This is the start of an interactive conversation, not a definitive policy platform, about a vision of a better future. In practice this means debating the key ideas that inform public policy, like monetary, fiscal and taxation policy needed to end austerity. In addition, it requires addressing the problems created by austerity. For example, creating an investment bank, green jobs, affordable housing, a fully-funded NHS and education system, compassionate care for an ageing population, a secure social security system, better local authority services and regional development. The list of ways to end the <a href="https://theconversation.com/austerity-is-linked-to-increased-deaths-the-data-is-clear-87828">harm caused by austerity</a> goes on. The challenge for progressives is to create a policy agenda that can foster a better future for everyone.<div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk WP imported wagtail John Weeks Ann Pettifor Johnna Montgomerie Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:07:14 +0000 Johnna Montgomerie, Ann Pettifor and John Weeks 119603 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A world of digital plenty is possible, but only if we take on the data barons https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/world-of-digital-plenty-is-possible-but-only-if-we-take-on-data-barons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What links Donald Trump, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Corbyn? Answer: over the last couple of months, they’ve all sought to capture the political energy from the seemingly endless sequence of tech giant s... </div> </div> </div> What links Donald Trump, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Corbyn? Answer: over the last couple of months, they’ve all sought to capture the political energy from the seemingly endless sequence of tech giant scandals. Trump has <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/28/trump-rage-tweets-google-alleging-search-bias/">tweeted about</a> a supposed (unfounded) anti-right-wing bias in Google searches. In the UK, Javid has warned of tech firms’ <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/03/javid-tech-firms-not-taking-online-child-sexual-abuse-seriously">record on child safety</a>, while Corbyn highlighted the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/aug/23/corbyn-proposes-public-facebook-as-part-of-media-overhaul">oversized role</a> of social media and other platforms in our consumption of news. All have proposed responses to these threats. Javid favours fines, which, in the practice, often amount to less than a <a href="https://www.redpepper.org.uk/fining-facebook-isnt-enough-we-need-total-media-reform/">few minutes’ revenue</a>. Corbyn has gone further, announcing his intention to create a <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jeremy-corbyn-tax-on-web-giants-would-fund-the-bbc-b0s02ptfh">new public sector body</a> to drive digital innovation and inclusion. This is an improvement on the tepid centrist playbook (and on Trump’s vague promise that this “will be addressed!”), but an adequate response requires something even deeper. The wealth, power and reach of the tech giants into so many areas of our social and economic lives shows that a more radical approach is required. Deep, structural reform of how data is generated, governed and used is needed so that all can gain from the benefits of digital technology. This benefit can and could be enormous – from connecting people around the world on social media, through making industrial processes <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jeremy-corbyn-tax-on-web-giants-would-fund-the-bbc-b0s02ptfh">more efficient</a>, to helping us understand and act on environmental change and opening up affordable, <a href="https://www.itf-oecd.org/new-shared-mobility-study-helsinki-confirms-ground-breaking-lisbon-results">clean transport for all</a>. But, so far, the development of the digital economy has been dominated by a small number of powerful firms whose activities tend towards monopoly. It’s estimated that, in the UK, Facebook has 74% of the social network market share, Amazon is responsible for 90% of all e-book sales and 80% of online physical book sales, and Google has an 88% share of the desktop search engine market and 95% of mobile searches. Critically, this <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/oldest-sins-newest-ways/">isn’t the fault of Cambridge Analytica</a> or a liberal conspiracy, but a result of the platforms’ business model and the outcomes this generates. This revenue model is simple: the extraction and interpretation of user data to generate insights that are sold for profit. These insights include everything from what you’d like to buy to how to make you angry, and so endow platforms with powerful tools for manipulating consumer, political and other preferences. In turn, insights are used to improve how platforms extract data and develop further insights, with commensurate increases in profit. This creates a voracious hunger for data, leading platforms to enter as many new markets as possible and to then ensure users stay within the platform’s ecosystem of products. Why use a high street bank when you can send money over Facebook messenger? How great is it that you can access travel information from Google maps through Google Home? Why bother with local shops when you can order everything through Amazon? As you enjoy these services, which are often free, platforms ensure you maximise the amount of personal data given over through various devices and products, while simultaneously decreasing the chance you will leave and become the user of another platform. In all, platform firms have a universal ambition reflected in their increasingly universal platforms. In turn, political and social as well as economic power is concentrated in the hands of the small band of data barons who run the platform monopolies. Alphabet generated revenues of $32.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, up from 24% the year before, with 85% of that revenue generated from its advertising business. Apple and Amazon are now trillion-dollar companies, with the combined annual revenue for the world’s five largest companies by market value – all of them platforms in some form – already exceeding the GDP of 90% of the world’s countries. With their huge piles of cash, data oligarchs seek the development of digital technology primarily as a means of making profit from the ‘data-fication’ of as much as society as possible. As we’ve seen with recent scandals, this threatens our privacy and democratic discourse. It is also likely slowing innovation and accelerating inequality as the rewards of the digital economy flow to the data hoarders. So, in the face of their power and limitless ambition, fines are almost irrelevant. Structural reforms are needed that target the platform business model. These reforms include changing the ownership and governance of data and that of the underlying, evermore ubiquitous digital infrastructures that penetrate our economic and social lives. Overall, as we argue in a <a href="https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/the-digital-commonwealth">new IPPR paper</a>, we need to move towards a ‘digital commonwealth’ where data is a collective resource driving equitable innovation, instead of a hoarded commodity, sweated for profit to further enrich the wealthiest people in history. In turn, digital infrastructure – from the cloud to analytical capabilities – should become a public good. We stand at a crossroads. We can either embrace these reforms to realise a world of digital plenty, in which new technologies increasingly play their role in overcoming the great problems of the day, or settle for a world in which the power of data oligarchs grows and society and economies become more fragmented, private and unsustainable. So, the next time you hear a politician bash the tech giants, see if they’re advocating radical reform. If they are not, they are advocating for a lesser world.<div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk WP imported wagtail Laurie Laybourn-Langton Mon, 10 Sep 2018 01:20:36 +0000 Laurie Laybourn-Langton 119598 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Northern Ireland: the border is coming? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/luke-butterly/northern-ireland-border-is-coming <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Recent controversies highlight the unstable situation in Northern Ireland. </div> </div> </div> <p class="Textbody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/free derry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/free derry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="228" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Guiseppe Milo/Flickr.</em></p><p class="Textbody">Earlier this year, the wording in a Home Office recruitment campaign sparked <a href="https://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2018/04/16/news/only-british-passport-holders-can-apply-for-brexit-border-force-jobs-1305050/">a small controversy</a>. As part of a drive to recruit an additional 1000 border force officers post-Brexit, the 21 jobs advertised in Belfast were only open to those with a British passport – “due to the sensitive nature of the work, require special allegiance to the Crown”.</p> <p class="Textbody">In the north of Ireland, a painstakingly-crafted peace agreement allows citizens to identify as Irish, British or both – and are entitled to hold both or either passport. With <a href="https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/less-than-half-of-people-in-northern-ireland-consider-themselves-british-survey-36991147.html">less than half the population</a> identifying primarily or solely as British, many would be excluded.</p> <p class="Textbody">The ‘British only’ only aspect of the job adverts also echoed the decades of <a href="https://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-1968-9/">institutional discrimination</a> that the Catholic minority had faced in terms of employment, where government ministers <a href="http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/discrimination/quotes.htm">openly</a> invited employers to discriminate.</p> <p class="Textbody">The advert was quickly amended after being referred to the local equality commission, but it struck a larger point: preparations are underway for a border in Ireland.</p> <p class="Textbody">Claire Hanna, the Brexit spokesperson for the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said: “Instead of putting out job advertisements, the British Government should take some serious time to spell out clearly what form of Border they anticipate these employees to be guarding.”</p> <h3>A troubled history</h3> <p class="Textbody">If Ireland was mentioned at all during the Brexit campaign, it was to reassure people that a campaign underlined by a ‘take back control of our borders’ narrative would somehow have no impact on the UK’s only land border with the EU.</p> <p class="Textbody">Once the referendum dust had settled and Theresa May was Prime Minister, she was initially at pains to stress that Brexit would not herald a return to the ‘borders of the past’.</p> <p class="Textbody">Following the anti-colonial struggle and subsequent civil war, Ireland was partitioned in the 1920s. This saw the creation of a new 500km international border drawn between the north-east and the rest of the island. The border was a point of contention for most of the following decades, and during the 30-year conflict known as the Troubles it was home to patrols, and checkpoints, and saw harassment, violence and death.</p> <p class="Textbody">Twenty years after the 1998 Good Friday agreement, tens of thousands of people pass the border <strong><a href="http://www.factcheckni.org/facts/do-30000-people-cross-ireland-northern-ireland-border-daily/">each day</a></strong>, most with little indication of when exactly they had crossed.</p> <h3>Quietly strengthening the border</h3> <p class="Textbody">To put it mildly, UK-EU negations since the referendum have not gone smoothly. As the March 2019 Brexit deadline looms, a ‘no deal’ scenario looks increasingly likely – and with it come worrying implications for the border. While the prevailing narrative is that the UK government is famously ill-prepared, actions and statements throughout this year show how a border <em>is </em>being prepared for.</p> <p class="Textbody">The border jobs adverts mentioned above were not the first such controversy. In late 2017 the Home Office <a href="http://www.irishnews.com/news/brexit/2017/12/19/news/concern-at-recruitment-of-300-new-border-force-officers-1214183">announced</a> a 300 new ‘mobile patrol’ border force officers for a range of locations including Belfast, but would not disclose how many would be stationed in the north.</p> <p class="Textbody">This summer the chief of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced he would be looking for <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-44320401">400 new officers</a> for post-Brexit border security issues. On the other side of the border, the Gardaí <a href="https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/gardai-irish-borders-call-more-12622426">called</a> for extra funding and machine guns for border patrols (the Gardaí are traditionally unarmed).</p> <p class="Textbody">The PSNI chief has said that any instillations would become targets for dissident republicans, yet in preparation for Brexit the police have halted <a href="http://www.irishnews.com/news/2018/06/04/news/psni-confirm-retention-of-stations-for-border-brexit-preparations-1346397">t</a><a href="http://www.irishnews.com/news/2018/06/04/news/psni-confirm-retention-of-stations-for-border-brexit-preparations-1346397">he sale of three disused police stations</a> along the border.</p> <p class="Textbody">Most worrying is an anti-terror bill is currently passing through Westminster, due to be law by Christmas. The Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill contains <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/08/10/home-office-plan-northern-ireland-stop-search-zones-sparks-fears/">provisions</a> that will grant powers to police and other officials to stop, search and detain anyone found within one mile of the North-South border. Further, police don’t need to show any reasonable suspicion. The act also explicitly names two train stations (the first stops on the cross-border rail service) which are several miles in from the border yet fall under these powers.</p> <p class="Textbody">The fear that the powers will be used if granted are legitimate. At least as far back as 2009 checks have been imposed on those travelling between those travel from the North to Britain – <a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/caj.org.uk/2018/04/25101743/CAJ-Briefing-BREXIT-and-Northern-Ireland-passport-and-border-controls-April-2018.pdf">without any statutory basis</a>. A similar existing piece of anti-terror legislation to the one proposed was used <a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/caj.org.uk/2018/04/25101743/CAJ-Briefing-BREXIT-and-Northern-Ireland-passport-and-border-controls-April-2018.pdf">12,479 times</a> in a recent three-year period (2014-2016). Despite this high number, there was not one case of someone being held on terror-related grounds. Rather, some were then handed over to immigration officials – thereby using emergency anti-terror laws to side-step the lack of legislated immigration checks. A leading human rights charity has warned of the current and future risk of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/11/black-lawyer-accuses-northern-ireland-immigration-of-racial-profiling">racial profiling</a>.</p> <p class="Textbody">Even away from the borders, there is precedent. The North has the most <a href="https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/psni-stop-search-causing-major-13880951">disproportionate use of stop and search by the police</a> – police there use their stop and search powers three times more than those in England and Wales. But in the North those searches are also three times less likely to lead to any further action.</p> <h3>On the ground</h3> <p class="Textbody">Support for Brexit is low in the North, and even lower for any kind of border. A recent <a href="https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/brexitni/BrexitandtheBorder/Report/Filetoupload,820734,en.pdf">survey</a> from Queens University Belfast found that 60% of people would support protests against any north-south checks. When the figures are broken down, they are even starker: 36% of Sinn Féin voters would support blocking traffic, and one in 10 would support protests that attacked any new border installations or infrastructure.</p> <p class="Textbody">In the referendum, 55.8% of people voted to remain, with the issue of the border looming large (<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/brexit-northern-ireland-support-remain-dup-border-a8361206.html">polling</a> now puts support for ‘remain’ in the North at 69%). When this 55.8% is <a href="https://www.thedetail.tv/articles/data-points-to-class-divide-among-northern-ireland-unionists-over-brexit">broken down</a> geographically, it is even more stark. Of those constituencies that border the Irish republic, all voted remain – generally with margins of 60 – 70%. This map can almost be neatly overlapped with where Brexit-supporting DUP and anti-Brexit Sinn Féin hold their seats, and where areas have a higher catholic than protestant population.</p> <p class="Textbody">Yet regardless of these divisions, there is substantial <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unionists-and-nationalists-fears-border-dispute-will-turn-violent-q9vvwxwnd">support</a> from both communities “for the type of UK exit that would largely eliminate the need for any border.” The Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ), a leading human rights organisation based in Belfast, has <a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/caj.org.uk/2017/09/20093148/Brexit-and-Northern-Ireland-Briefing-Sep-17-1.pdf">said</a> that any potential border could be a “threat to the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement”:</p> <p class="Textbody">“Any move towards a border that is controlled in any way, by fixed checkpoints, electronic surveillance or in-country spot checks, will not only cause economic and social inconvenience but also accentuate the distinction between jurisdictions which was becoming usefully blurred.”</p> <p class="Textbody">The situation in North is changing and unstable. In the 2016 assembly elections, unionists lost their majority for the first time in the state’s 90 year history. In January 2017, the Assembly collapsed, and this week marks 589 days of political stalemate, beating Belgium’s <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/n-ireland-political-stalemate-reaches-record-589-days-and-matches-belgium-record-11484201">world r</a><a href="https://news.sky.com/story/n-ireland-political-stalemate-reaches-record-589-days-and-matches-belgium-record-11484201">ecord</a> as the longest time without a government.</p> <p class="Textbody">Post-peace agreement, support for a united Ireland has remained a minority viewpoint – even in Catholic communities. Yet now many say Brexit and the threat of a border increases the desirability of reunification – and with it, EU membership. The continued denial of access to abortion, marriage equality, and Irish language rights – all now available in the south – also plays a role.</p> <h3>What’s next?</h3> <p class="Textbody">A <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/unionists-and-nationalists-fears-border-dispute-will-turn-violent-q9vvwxwnd">recent poll</a> found that 60% of voters in the North think that Brexit makes the break-up of the UK more likely. While issues of the border rank high for people in the North, people in the North rank low for voters in Britain. <a href="https://lordashcroftpolls.com/2018/06/leave-voters-would-rather-lose-northern-ireland-than-give-up-the-benefits-of-brexit/">Polling</a> of Leave voters revealed that they “would rather lose Northern Ireland than give up the benefits of Brexit”. Voters as a whole put preventing a hard border at the <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2018/08/14/few-brits-see-protecting-rights-uk-citizens-living/?utm_source=website_article&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=eurotrack_july_2018">bottom of their priorities</a> for the Brexit negotiations.</p> <p class="Textbody">As the government laid out their plans for a no-deal Brexit, new Brexit Secretary Dominic Rabb gave few commitments other than to <a href="https://twitter.com/mckinneytweets/status/1032577175483023361">say</a> “We wouldn’t return to any sort of hard border”. Yet there is no clarity on how that will be avoided.</p> <p class="Textbody">The ‘no deal’ alternatives to border checks are no less troubling. CAJ warns that the North could become ‘<a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/caj.org.uk/2018/06/11082401/EU-Withdrawl-Bill-HCPP-NI-Border-Controls-and-racial-profiling-CAJ-Briefing-May-2018.pdf">one big border</a>’, with stepped-up immigration raids and a hyper-intensified version of the ‘hostile environment’.</p> <p class="Textbody">When a video emerged <a href="https://www.derryjournal.com/news/jacob-rees-mogg-s-troubles-border-suggestion-ridiculed-1-8614851">last week</a> of arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting that we should have Troubles-era ‘inspections’ of people crossing the border, it provoked ire and condemnation from all quarters. Yet while it may be true that we will not exactly return to ‘the borders of the past’, the borders of the future are becoming increasingly likely.</p><p class="Textbody"><em>This article is cross-posted with kind permission from&nbsp;</em><a href="https://www.redpepper.org.uk/northern-ireland-the-border-is-coming/">Red Pepper</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="/uk/mary-fitzgerald/brexit-ireland-and-revenge-of-history">Brexit, Ireland, and the revenge of history</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/peter-geoghegan/growing-up-on-border-on-brexit-s-irish-problem">Growing up on the border: on Brexit’s Irish problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/philip-petit/shared-space-solution-to-ireland-s-brexit-border-problem">A shared-space solution to Ireland’s Brexit Border problem </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Luke Butterly Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:02:27 +0000 Luke Butterly 119576 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why a Job Guarantee is a bad joke for the precariat – and for freedom https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/why-job-guarantee-is-bad-joke-for-precariat-and-for-freedom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> From time to time, there is a surge in advocacy of a job guarantee for everyone, or for everyone ‘able to work’. It is happening again, this time from a slew of politicians and social scientists p... </div> </div> </div> From time to time, there is a surge in advocacy of a job guarantee for everyone, or for everyone ‘able to work’. It is happening again, this time from a slew of politicians and social scientists positioning themselves on the centre left, as social democrats. In the USA, several prominent Democrat senators and possible candidates for the next presidential election have said they support the idea, including Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand. In Britain <em>The Guardian</em> has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/03/the-guardian-view-on-a-job-guarantee-a-policy-whose-time-has-come">endorsed it unequivocally</a> as ‘a welcome return to a politics of work’, joining the likes of Lord Layard, Blair’s <a href="http://cep.lse.ac.uk/textonly/_new/staff/layard/pdf/001JGProposal-16-03-09.pdf">‘happiness czar’</a>. <em>The Guardian</em> claimed a job guarantee policy ‘would secure a basic human right to engage in productive employment’. Throughout history, the vast majority of people would have found that a very strange ‘human right’. Having a job is to be in a position of subordination, reporting to and obeying a boss in return for payment. Indeed, historically the words ‘job’, ‘jobbing’ and ‘jobholder’ were terms of regret and even pity, referring to someone with a bits-and-pieces existence. Subordination and alienation have also been at the heart of labour law, which is based on the master-servant model. The newspaper added that the job guarantee ‘would only offer employment under-supplied by the private sector’, singling out ‘environmental clean-up’ and ‘social care’. These may sound appealing on paper but represent a narrow and unattractive range of jobs to be offered. They also bear more than a passing resemblance to the menial jobs convicted offenders are obliged to undertake under ‘community payback’ schemes. The practical objections become evident as soon as the details are considered: what jobs, who would be responsible for providing them, who would qualify to be offered them, what would the jobs pay and for how many hours, who would pay, and what would be the effects on other workers and on the wider economy? To start with, identifying jobs to be provided and administering the process would be a bureaucratic nightmare (witness the shambles of many ‘community payback’ schemes, even though they are on a small scale and the labour they offer is ‘free’). And, when asked what type of job would be guaranteed, proponents never suggest the guaranteed jobs would match people’s skills and qualifications, instead falling back on low-skill, low-wage jobs they would not dream of for themselves or their children. Then other questions arise. If guaranteed jobs are providing desired services or goods, and are subsidised, there must be substitution effects – guaranteeing jobs now taken by others - and deadweight effects - putting people in jobs that would have been created anyhow. If somebody is given a guaranteed job at the minimum wage, what happens to others already doing such jobs? Would the job guarantee agency guarantee their jobs as well, with no decline in wages if they happened to be higher? If the unemployed were offered a job at a minimum wage subsidised by the state, this would increase the vulnerability of others, either displacing them or lowering their income. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat congressman, <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/05/30/job-guarantee-bill-ro-khanna/">has said</a> firms would not be allowed to hire subsidised workers if they were substitutes for previous employees. Clever employers could find ways round that. However, it would also be unfair. Why should a firm coming into a market be subsidised relative to one that has been in it for a while, giving the newcomer an unfair advantage? <em>The Guardian</em> further claimed, without citing evidence, that a job guarantee scheme would not be inflationary because ‘any restructuring of relative wages would be a one-off event’. This contradicts generations of research. If all were guaranteed a job, what would stop wage-push inflation? The only restraining factors would be fear of automation and more offshoring. But it would hardly be fear, as a job would be guaranteed anyhow! The gross cost of a job guarantee might outweigh the net gain. If the government guaranteed the minimum wage in guaranteed jobs, those in jobs paying less (or working fewer than the guaranteed hours) might quit or find ways to be made redundant, so they could have a guaranteed job instead. Social democrats might like that, as it would mean better-paying jobs for more of the underemployed and precariat. But the fiscal cost would be daunting. For example, in the UK, over 60% of those regarded as poor are in jobs or have someone in their household who is. In the USA, the situation is just as bad. It is estimated that about half its 148 million workers earn less than $15 an hour. Would they all become eligible for a guaranteed good job? At its unlikely best, a job guarantee would be paternalistic. It presumes the government knows what is best for individuals, who would be offered a necessarily limited range of jobs at its disposal. Suppose someone was pressed to take a guaranteed job on a construction site (‘infrastructure’, a favoured area for guaranteed jobs) and that person proved incompetent and was injured. Would the job guarantee agency be held responsible and pay compensation? It should, since it put the person in that position. How would that be factored into the costing of a job guarantee scheme? Similarly, if a person put into a ‘social care’ job was negligent and caused harm or distress to the care recipient, would the latter be able to sue the job guarantee agency for compensation? In addition, a job-guarantee scheme would spring a familiar trap – the phoney distinction between those who ‘can work’ and would thus be eligible for a guaranteed job and those ‘who cannot work’. In Britain, this has led to demeaning and stigmatising ‘capacity-to-work’ and ‘availability-for-work’ tests, resulting in discriminatory action against disabled and vulnerable people, and those with care responsibilities. Another failing of the job guarantee route is the mapping of a path to ‘workfare’. What would happen to somebody who declined to accept the guaranteed job? They would be labelled ‘lazy’ or ‘choosy’ and thus ‘ungrateful’ and ‘socially irresponsible’. Yet there are many reasons for refusing a job. Studies show that accepting a job below a person’s qualifications can lower their income and social status for the long term. As what is happening in the current UK benefit system attests, those not taking jobs allocated to them would face benefit sanctions, and be directed into jobs, whether they liked them or not. Jobs done in resentment or under duress are unlikely to be done well. A job guarantee would be a recipe for perpetuating low productivity. What would happen if a person in a guaranteed job performed poorly, perhaps because of limited ability or simply because they knew it was ‘guaranteed’? This was a fatal flaw of the Soviet system. If you are guaranteed a job, why bother to work hard? If you are an employer and are given a subsidy to pay employees guaranteed a job, why bother to try to use labour efficiently? If subsidised through tax credits or a wage subsidy, a worker would need to produce only a little more value than the cost to the employer to make it profitable to retain him or her. This would cheapen low-productivity jobs relative to others and inhibit the higher productivity arising from labour-displacing technological change. If a job of a certain type is guaranteed, what happens if an employer wishes to invest in technology that would remove the need for such jobs? Those calling for a job guarantee also ignore the fact that any market economy requires some unemployment, as people need time to search for jobs they are prepared to accept, and firms must sift applicants for jobs they want to have done. To adopt a job guarantee policy would risk putting the economy in gridlock. Job guarantee advocates, such as <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8ee839aa-7dce-11e8-bc55-50daf11b720d">Larry Summers</a>, President Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary, argue that people without jobs ‘are much more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives’ and are more likely to be drug addicts and abusive than those with even low-wage jobs. This is bogus. I suggest there would be no correlation between life satisfaction and having a job if the comparison was made between those in lousy jobs and those with no job but an adequate income on which to live. Somebody facing a choice between penury and a lousy job will prefer the job. But that does not mean they like or want it for itself. The polling company Gallup conducts regular <em>State of the Global Workplace </em>surveys in over 150 countries. In 2017, it found that globally only 15% of workers were engaged by their job, and in no country did the figure exceed 40%. One recent UK survey found that 37% of jobholders did not think their job made any significant contribution. Summers ends his article by equivocating – ‘the idea of a jobs guarantee should be taken seriously but not literally’. He seems to mean government should try to promote more employment, through ‘wage subsidies, targeted government spending, support for workers with dependants, and more training and job-matching programmes’. In other words, he reverts to the standard social democratic package that has not done very well in the past three decades. Besides being a recipe for labour inefficiency and labour market distortions, tending to displace workers employed in the ‘free’ labour market and to depress their wages, the job guarantee proposal fails to recognise that today’s crisis is structural and requires <em>transformative</em> policies. Tax credits, job guarantees and statutory minimum wages would barely touch the precariat’s existential insecurity that is at the heart of the social and economic crisis, let alone address the aspirations of the progressive and growing part of the <a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-precariat-charter-9781472510396/">precariat</a> for an ecologically grounded Good Society. The emphasis on jobs is non-ecological, since it is tied to the constant pursuit of economic growth. There are many instances, with support for fracking and for the third runway at Heathrow airport being recent examples, where the promise of more jobs has trumped costs to health and the environment. And a job guarantee policy could have a strong appeal to the political right as a way to dismantle the welfare state. Why pay unemployment benefits if everybody has a guaranteed job? In the USA, one conservative commentator <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2018/05/01/job-guarantee-a-liberal-idea-that-conservatives-may-embrace/#15c13d446fd8">chortled that</a> ‘over 100 federal welfare programs would be replaced with a single job guarantee program.’ Finally, there is what this writer regards as the policy’s worst feature. It would reinforce twentieth-century labourism, by failing to make the distinction between work and labour. Those who back guaranteed jobs typically ignore all forms of work that are not paid labour. A really progressive agenda would strengthen the values of work over the dictates of labour. It would seek to enable more people to develop their own <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Work-After-Globalization-Occupational-Citizenship/dp/1848441649">sense of occupation</a>. A job is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Economists tend to be schizophrenic in this respect. In the textbooks, labour has ‘disutility’; it is negative for the worker. Yet many economists who use or write these textbooks then advocate putting everybody in jobs. Why make a fetish of ‘jobs’? A job is doing ‘labour’ for others. What about all the forms of work that we do for those we love or for our community or for ourselves? Many forms of work that are not labour are more rewarding psychologically and socially. A regime of putting everybody into jobs, in unchosen activities, would be orchestrated alienation. Surely a progressive should want to minimise the time we spend in stultifying and subordinated jobs, so that we can increase the time and energy for forms of work and leisure that are self-chosen and oriented to personal and community development. There is one last point, to do with the claim that a job guarantee would be politically popular. Much is made of a US poll which asked people whether they would support a scheme to guarantee a job for anybody ‘who can’t find employment in the private sector’, if paid from a 5% tax on those earning over $200,000. The result was 52% in favour. Supporters thought this was <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/why-democrats-should-embrace-a-federal-jobs-guarantee/">‘stunning’</a>. With such a loaded question, one should be stunned by the bare-majority support. After all, most respondents were being told they would not have to pay, and that there were no alternative jobs available, an unlikely scenario. Rather than jobs per se, the primary challenge is to build a new income distribution system, recognising that the old one has broken down irretrievably. The rentiers are running away with all the revenue thrown up by rentier capitalism, and real wages will continue to lag. Putting people into static low-wage jobs is no response.<div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk WP imported wagtail Guy Standing Fri, 07 Sep 2018 09:06:08 +0000 Guy Standing 119573 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Prosperity and justice: a new vision for Britain’s economy https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/laurie-macfarlane/prosperity-and-justice-new-vision-for-britain-s-economy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Britain’s economic model is broken and needs to be radically overhauled. In 2018, this is not a controversial statement. But when the messenger is one of the UK’s most influential think tanks, bac... </div> </div> </div> Britain’s economic model is broken and needs to be radically overhauled. In 2018, this is not a controversial statement. But when the messenger is one of the UK’s most influential think tanks, backed up by voices as diverse as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Global Managing Partner of McKinsey and Company, and the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, it certainly means something. Today the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published the <a href="https://www.ippr.org/files/2018-08/1535639099_prosperity-and-justice-ippr-2018.pdf">final report</a> of its Commission on Economic Justice (CEJ) – <em>Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy</em>. The report is the product of a two year long work programme, led by Director Michael Jacobs and supported by a crack team of policy wonks: Mathew Lawrence, Grace Blakely, Laurie Laybourn Langton, Catherine Colebrook, Carys Roberts, Lesley Rankin and Alfie Stirling. Throwing their weight behind the report are 21 Commissioners from the world of business, policy and academia. Although it is made clear that the Commissioners do not support every single recommendation, the fact that they all support the “broad thrust” of the report is significant. <em>Prosperity and Justice</em> begins with an astute diagnosis of where contemporary British capitalism has gone wrong, building on the findings of the interim report published a year ago: an over-reliance on household debt and rising property prices; a large current account deficit; stagnant productivity and low wages; a financial sector that serves itself rather the real economy; a corporate sector plagued by short-termism; and a highly unequal distribution of income and wealth. This economic model is broken, and as with previous episodes of socio-economic breakdown, it must be replaced. The report structures its key recommendations for a “new economic settlement” around ten policy areas. Among these are new mechanisms to raise the level of public investment (including reference to my own work on <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/research/patient-finance-state-investment-banks-and-public-finance">state investment banks</a> with Professor Mariana Mazzucato, who was one of the Commissioners), a new industrial strategy, stronger collective bargaining powers, higher minimum wages, worker representation on company boards, greater control over the financial system, and a more progressive tax system. But much to its credit, <em>Prosperity and Justice</em> goes beyond reheated social democracy. It offers fresh thinking on a range of policy areas, much of which stems from the consistently excellent output from the CEJ team over the past two years (work which we have featured regularly on this site). Proposals such as commencing a process of ‘managed automation’ to accelerate the diffusion of productivity enhancing technologies across the economy; a new ‘Office of Digital Platforms’ to regulate the major digital platforms like public utilities; and the creation of a ‘digital commons’ to organise and curate public data, show an acute understanding of the forces shaping our future. Perhaps most significantly, <em>Prosperity and Justice</em> has put the issue of ownership back into the limelight. New models of ownership are central to the report's overarching goal of rebalancing inequalities of power and reward. A new Citizens’ wealth fund would transform private and corporate wealth into shared public wealth and pay a ‘universal minimum inheritance’ of £10,000 to all 25-year-olds, while new legal and tax incentives would encourage employee ownership trusts and co-operative and mutual businesses. Taken together, these proposals represent a significant step towards democratising the ownership of capital – a radical ambition from what was once described as “Tony Blair’s favourite think tank”. Last but not least, environmental sustainability is treated as a binding constraint, not a vague ambition. A new Sustainable Economy Act would require on government to set environmental limits in law, and to produce economy-wide plans to achieve them. <em>Prosperity and Justice</em> is not a final blueprint, and neither was it intended to be. There is hardly any mention of welfare policy or trade policy, for example, and in some areas there is scope for bolder thinking. But taken as a whole, the report is an impressive attempt at setting out a credible alternative to the failures of neoliberal capitalism. For this the IPPR should be commended. At a time of political upheaval and environmental collapse, we need bold and ambitious ideas more than ever. But too many of our think tanks – and most of our media – have failed engage in this debate, or even acknowledge the scale of the challenges we face. That’s why at openDemocracy, we have been collaborating with the IPPR and others from across civil society to get to grips with the long running economic crisis unfolding in Britain, and promote discussion and debate on alternatives. <em>Prosperity and Justice</em> has set a high benchmark. The task now is to challenge, critique and expand its offering, and to build the infrastructure that is needed to turn ideas into reality.<div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk WP imported wagtail Laurie Macfarlane Wed, 05 Sep 2018 15:59:17 +0000 Laurie Macfarlane 119553 at https://www.opendemocracy.net NHS charging for overseas visitors – wrong on every level https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/martin-mckee/nhs-charging-for-overseas-visitors-in-nhs-wrong-on-every-level <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Regulations that deny visitors NHS care –&nbsp;except for certain infectious diseases and to relieve death pains - are riven with contradictions. And will hit some unexpected victims as well as the intended scapegoats.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/nhs-poster-not-free-to-all.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/nhs-poster-not-free-to-all.jpg" alt="" title="" width="380" height="214" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Poster in Newham hospital. Rights: <a href="https://newhamsaveournhs.weebly.com/">Newham Save Our NHS.</a></em></p> <p>Given the choice, the British government’s <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729872/Guidance_on_implementing_the_overseas_visitor_charging_regulations_-_May_2018.pdf">guidelines on implementing their overseas visitor charging regulations</a> would not have been top of my reading list. Especially because I had already read them once – but still had to revisit them to formulate an answer to a question on a list server. The question was, at least superficially, simple. The regulations contain a list of diseases which -&nbsp; for any visitor to the United Kingdom unlucky enough to have one of them – the NHS will still provide free treatment. Is this list appropriate? Is there anything that is missing? As is often the case, an apparently simple question opens up many other less obvious issues. Here are just a few of them.</p> <p>The guidelines were written for health professionals and managers who must decide whether a patient is entitled to free NHS care, in the light of recent regulations restricting access for visitors.</p><p>To make their decision, NHS staff are confronted with a set of guidelines that stretches to 117 pages, which they are expected to understand and apply, even in the midst of working frantically to save a patient’s life.</p><p>It gets worse. NHS organisations “are advised to seek their own legal advice on the extent of their obligations when necessary”. Why? Because the regulations are incredibly complex, and involve balancing requirements under a wide range of other legislation, including data protection, prohibition of discrimination, and much else. Also there are still unresolved ambiguities. As the guidelines note, “’Ordinarily resident’ is not defined in the 2006 Act”, even though it is a key concept in making decisions under the regulations.</p><p>NHS staff really don't need all of this. In a health service that has been starved of resources for almost a decade, health workers are already overstretched. Posts remain unfilled, and rotas have many gaps. In some parts of the country, many of those providing direct patient care are agency staff, who must spend precious time orientating themselves to different settings. The rapidly changing nature of healthcare means that they must constantly update their knowledge, both in relation to clinical matters and to an often bewildering array of statutory requirements.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“providing timely and effective care to migrants saves money in the long run”</p><p>Leaving aside the morality of the government’s “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29306349">hostile environment</a>” to visitors, these regulations also completely fail to recognise that what is presented as a cost saving measure is anything but. For many hospitals, the cost of complying with the regulations far outweighs any income that they may generate. And&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26201017">research from Germany</a>&nbsp;shows clearly that providing timely and effective care to migrants saves money in the long run. But then, as is apparent with the government’s pursuit of Brexit, deterring migrants is much more important than growing the economy.</p> <p>The politics behind the regulations are obvious. The main exemption from charges is for infectious diseases deemed to pose a threat to the resident population. Visitors will be entitled to care in an emergency department, but only until the point where they require admission to hospital. Palliative care is also exempt, presumably because of the media attention that visitors dying in agony might attract.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The list gives an impression of having been drafted several decades ago</p> <p>It is the list of infectious diseases that is most intriguing. Some are highly contagious but others are not. Leprosy, for example, is only transmitted when there is prolonged contact between people. Others are included even though they are transmitted by vectors not normally present in the United Kingdom. Yet other vector borne diseases (such as <a href="http://www.who.int/chagas/resources/Eurosurv_art19968/en/">Chagas Disease</a>, increasingly being diagnosed among migrants from South America) are excluded. Smallpox remains on the list, despite having been eradicated globally almost 40 years ago. The list gives an impression of having been drafted several decades ago, with individual diseases being added on an ad hoc basis.</p> <p>There will, however, be an opportunity to update the list. The guidelines are full of references to the European Union and the European Economic Area. Visitors from the countries concerned are, of course, entitled to treatment paid for by their home health authorities. Should British ministers ever manage to agree on a feasible plan to leave the European Union, then this will have to change completely. However, given the many other challenges that they will face, including shortages of staff, medicines, equipment, and above all money, this may be well down the list of priorities.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">British pensioners who have retired to the Mediterranean…will find, to their surprise, that they are not entitled to NHS treatment under the regulations</p> <p>So it may take some time for them to address one of the more pressing issues. This is the potential return of large numbers of British pensioners who have retired to the Mediterranean. Many of them will find, to their surprise, that they are not entitled to NHS treatment under the regulations as they are not ordinarily resident. Given that many are elderly, with multiple chronic conditions, this will pose a considerable challenge. In some cases, they will have family members who are not British citizens, just to add to the complexity.</p> <p>Postscript: As I was finalising this blog, the Home Office issued its guidance on <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/04/concerns-raised-over-59-page-handbook-on-brexit-settled-status-scheme?CMP=share_btn_tw">applications for settled status for EU citizens post-Brexit</a>. The good news – it is only 59 pages long. Remember that the then Home Secretary said this would be <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/23/amber-rudd-online-eu-registration-system-lk-bennett">as simple as opening an account at a certain upmarket retailer</a>. The bad news – the guide to the process for such applicants is almost as incomprehensible as the guidance for NHS staff outlined above. This time, the government claims the default position will favour the applicant but, given this would be a 180 degree turn by the Home Office, and totally at odds with the culture of xenophobia it has worked so hard to create, no-one believes it.</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="/ournhs/ex-boss-of-england-s-nhs-blasts-nhs-migrant-policy-as-national-scandal">Ex-boss of England’s NHS blasts NHS migrant policy as a “national scandal”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/erin-dexter/making-nhs-hostile-environment-for-migrants-demeans-our-country">Making the NHS a “hostile environment” for migrants demeans our country</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/dont-invoke-nhs-to-sell-false-idea-of-good-nationalism">Don&#039;t invoke the NHS to sell a false idea of &#039;good nationalism&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/kailash-chand/nhs-passport-proposals-are-just-more-grubby-politics-from-may-and-hunt">NHS passport proposals are just more grubby politics from May and Hunt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/migrant-activists-disrupt-department-of-health">Migrant activists disrupt the Department of Health </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/docs-not-cops/labour-must-tackle-may-s-hostile-environment-for-migrants-in-nhs">Labour must end May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in the NHS</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk ourNHS Martin McKee Wed, 05 Sep 2018 08:55:52 +0000 Martin McKee 119545 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Liam Fox spends tens of millions on firms warning of Brexit dangers https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/liam-fox-spends-tens-of-millions-on-firms-warning-of-bre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The international trade secretary says even a no-deal Brexit would be good for British business. But his department has spent huge sums with companies that warn of Brexit dysfunction, chaos and disruption.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564977/Defense.gov_News_Photo_110524-D-WQ296-244_-_British_Defense_Minister_Liam_Fox_3rd_from_right_meets_with_Secretary_of_Defense_Robert_M._Gates_right_in_the_Pentagon_on_May_24_2011._The_meeting.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="British Defense Minister Liam Fox (3rd from right) meets with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (right) in the Pentagon."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564977/Defense.gov_News_Photo_110524-D-WQ296-244_-_British_Defense_Minister_Liam_Fox_3rd_from_right_meets_with_Secretary_of_Defense_Robert_M._Gates_right_in_the_Pentagon_on_May_24_2011._The_meeting.jpg" alt="" title="British Defense Minister Liam Fox (3rd from right) meets with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (right) in the Pentagon." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span><em>Then defence secretary Liam Fox meets US secretary of defence Robert M. Gates in 2011. CC. R. D. Ward. Some rights reserved.</em></span><br /><br />Liam Fox is often seen as the most bullish Brexiter in Theresa May’s cabinet. For the Brexit trade minister ‘no deal’ is nothing to fear. But Fox’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has spent tens of millions on consultants who have warned of “chaos” and economic disruption after Brexit, an openDemocracy investigation has found.</div><p dir="ltr">Firms that have won lucrative contracts from DIT have said that British politics is “so dysfunctional” that the government’s current Brexit strategy is “very unlikely” to survive “in its current form”. A DIT-funded trade body even complained that the Brexit trade ministry is “plagued” by indecision, with lateness “systemic in the organisation”.</p><p dir="ltr">Fox&nbsp;has also given thousands of pounds of public money to a company run by a former Westminster insider, and hired a scandal-hit contractor that had been accused of making excessive profits from aid contracts. <br /><br />Anti-Brexit campaigners have accused Fox of the "height of hypocrisy" for saying that Britain would thrive&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/28/uk-trade-minister-liam-fox-says-he-does-not-want-a-no-deal-brexit.html">outside the EU</a>&nbsp;even without a Brexit deal while spending big with companies that have warned the opposite.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Squeeze and offshoring</h2><p dir="ltr">Over the past two years, DIT spent more than £23m on marketing campaigns with Dentsu Aegis, according to government <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=department-for-international-trade&amp;publication_type=transparency-data">transparency data</a>. But earlier this year, the ad agency said that Brexit has resulted in less money being spent on advertising in Britain.</p><p dir="ltr">"The Brexit process has done little to boost economic confidence and there are concerns that a squeeze on household spending may result in cuts to marketing spend," Dentsu Aegis’s Global Adspend Forecast <a href="https://www.carat.com/caratcdn/media/9388/jan-2018-executive-summary-final.pdf">report said</a> in January.</p><p dir="ltr">As part of Fox’s ‘Great’ trade campaign his department has also spent almost £17m with M&amp;C Saatchi - the ad firm behind the remain campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum.</p><p dir="ltr">DIT also paid more than £20m to executive management firm <a href="https://green-park.co.uk/service/interim-management/">Green Park</a>. In a <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/preparing-uncertainty-its-time-arm-interims-jo-sweetland/">LinkedIn post</a> last year, a managing partner in human resources at Green Park wrote that there is “no denying Brexit will affect the supply of talented, diverse candidates, will encourage movement of European talent and will enable large-scale off-shoring and the creation of new European hubs for historically British-based traders”.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Chequers and chaos</h2><p dir="ltr">Multinational consultancy EY has received more than £30m from Fox’s department. In its most <a href="https://emeia.ey-vx.com/4850/110836/july-2018/update-130718.asp">recent advice</a> to business on Brexit planning, EY warned that Theresa May’s Chequers plan is “very unlikely” to survive “in its current form”.</p><p dir="ltr">Grant Thornton received more than £15m from the Department for International Trade, but the consultancy’s Dutch outfit has reported fears of “<a href="https://www.grantthornton.nl/en/insights-en/articles/transport-and-logistics-sector-expects-chaos-after-brexit/">chaos</a>” in transport and logistics sector after Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">Fox has complained the British businesses are “<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37324491">too lazy and fat</a>” to export overseas but a trade body that received DIT funding said that the department has “no budget” for supporting small businesses and is “disincentivising” companies from exporting.</p><p dir="ltr">"There is no budget to support any exhibition in the shipbuilding sector in the 2018-19 financial year,” Tom Chant, director of the Society of Maritime Industries, <a href="https://www.maritimeuk.org/media-centre/news/department-international-trade-must-drastically-its-game-achieve-global-britain-ambitions/">said in June</a>. The society has received over £57,000 from the department, with the last payment in 2017.</p><p dir="ltr">“Apart from the fact that we have no budget, the lateness of all DIT decisions seems to be systemic in the organisation,” said Chant. “How does this match with the UK being a global trading nation?”</p><p dir="ltr">DIT also spent more than £11.5m on ‘subscriptions’ to the World Trade Organization as part of the process of leaving the European Union. Liam Fox has spoken enthusiastically of trading under WTO terms in the event of no-deal Brexit, with the minister even putting the chances of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement at ‘60/40’.</p><p dir="ltr">The department’s published spending data lists hundreds of companies. Not all have a position on Brexit. In April of this year, DIT spent £189,000 on marketing and media with workspace start-up Second Home, which is run by former Number 10 advisor <a href="https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/12/12/2196756/the-struggles-of-second-home/">Rohan Silva</a>. Fox's department also hired a scandal-hit aid consultancy as part of a new investment promotion programme in India, Pakistan, South Africa and Nigeria.</p><p dir="ltr">Adam Smith International (ASI) withdrew itself from bidding for contracts from the Department for International Development (DFID) for a year up to February 2018 following <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/02/uk-aid-company-bosses-quit-crackdown-profiteering-adam-smith-international">media reports</a> that a member of staff had improperly obtained DFID country business plans. A subsequent DFID <a href="https://www.devex.com/news/asi-cleared-to-resume-bidding-on-uk-s-dfid-contracts-92167">assurance review</a> found that “ASI did not gain any significant or specifically identifiable commercial advantage from reviewing the business plans”.</p><p dir="ltr">The contractor successfully bid for cash from Liam Fox’s department while it was sitting out DFID funding rounds. In December 2017, the department for international trade gave ASI a contract worth more than £25,000.</p><h2 dir="ltr">“Height of hypocrisy”</h2><p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the People’s Vote campaign that argues for a second referendum on Brexit said: “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Liam Fox, who frequently plays down the risks of a disastrous no deal Brexit, to be handing over millions to companies that are warning exactly the opposite.</p><p dir="ltr">“Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the most pointless minister in the Government doesn’t seem to be on top of his own department’s spending.”</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesman for DIT said: “We really don’t care [if a company] is for Brexit or against Brexit or have not expressed an interest at all. It is very much about providing services that deliver value for money for the taxpayer, which are high quality and which have been objectively identified through a fair, open and transparent tender process.”</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/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/liam-fox-caught-in-fresh-lobbyists-as-advisors-scandal">Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-new-evidence-of-hard-brexit-svengali-shanker-si">Revealed: New evidence of ‘Hard Brexit svengali’ Shanker Singham’s ‘unparalleled access’ to senior government figures</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/martin-donnelly/liam-fox-s-brexit-aims-require-not-so-much-skilled-negotiating-team-as-fairy-godm">Liam Fox’s Brexit aims would require “a fairy godmother” - full speech by Fox&#039;s former top official</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit Inc. Jenna Corderoy Peter Geoghegan Tue, 04 Sep 2018 15:02:31 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Jenna Corderoy 119537 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Labour should ditch the IHRA working definition of antisemitism altogether https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/antony-lerman/labour-should-ditch-ihra-working-definition-of-antisemitism-altogether <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We need to understand the history of this attempt to define antisemitism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Western_wall_jerusalem_night_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/640px-Western_wall_jerusalem_night_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Western Wall, Jerusalem: Jgritz~commonswiki </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In politics, neutralising a toxic controversy and moving on by taking a strategic decision to retreat, withdraw or compromise, may be a prudent course of action. But if this is what members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) are planning to do today by ditching the amendments it made to some examples of antisemitism in the guidance notes of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism, and embracing the entire text lock, stock and barrel, they would be party to a travesty of justice. The more the definition is held up to the light and subject to public scrutiny, the more we see holes and cracks in its flimsy fabric. Not only is there now overwhelming evidence that it’s not fit for purpose, but it also has the effect of making Jews more vulnerable to antisemitism, not less, and exacerbating the bitter arguments Jews have been having over the nature of contemporary antisemitism for the last 20 to 25 years. Arguments that are inextricably linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict and generated by two questions: Are there forms of criticism of Israel which equate to antisemitism? If so, where is the line between ‘legitimate’ criticism and criticism that spills over into antisemitic hate speech?</p><p dir="ltr">We should no longer be quibbling over the dodgy nature of some of the examples in the counterproductive explanatory text that follows the IHRA definition, in a futile attempt to reconcile adoption of the definition with protecting the last vestiges of freedom of speech about Israel-Palestine. We should rather be telling the unvarnished truth: no definition ever saved a Jew from experiencing antisemitism. It’s time to abandon this tainted and deeply flawed text and instead seek to codify and implement far more widely, commensurate with the danger racism poses today, the tried and tested methods of combatting racism developed by anti-racist groups on the front lines of this struggle. </p><p dir="ltr">And yet, a misguided or misapplied prudence looks certain to hold sway. Relentless pressure from inside and outside the party to get the NEC to abandon its amendments to the examples, coupled with a constant stream of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for allegedly associating with antisemites and even allegedly being an antisemite himself, are now paying off. It’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/aug/15/labour-prepares-to-amend-antisemitism-code-ihra-israel">widely expected</a>, that today, the NEC will reverse its decision, making the entire, un-amended IHRA definition and examples an integral part of its code of conduct on antisemitism.</p><h2 dir="ltr">A barrage of criticism</h2><p dir="ltr">A barrage of criticism greeted the NEC’s announcement on 5 July that it had agreed on those amendments. It stood accused of legitimising antisemitic hate-speech within the party and not allowing Jews to determine for themselves <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/jeremy-corbyn-labour-definition-antisemitism-1.466626">what antisemitism is</a>. No matter that the code formally embraced the 38-word IHRA ‘working definition’ of antisemitism as well as all but 4 of the 11 examples of discourse that ‘could’ be considered antisemitic, added 2 more and, in discussing the 4 that were omitted, endorsed their content and strengthened their language with the aim of protecting freedom of speech on Israel-Palestine and simplifying the process for Labour officials conducting disciplinary hearings reaching judgements as to whether or not the code had been breached. This was convincingly argued by Dr Brian Klug <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brian-klug/code-of-conduct-for-antisemitism-tale-of-two-texts">on oD on 17 July</a>. Klug remarked in his article: ‘I have not yet come across a critic of the NEC Code – I mean a critic who places a premium on combating antisemitism – who acknowledges [the points that significantly enhance the IHRA text], let alone welcomes them as the enhancements that they are. They are passed over in silence, as if the IHRA document were a sacred text whose words may not be tampered with – not even if the text can be improved.’ Having followed a very great deal of the subsequent comment on IHRA, the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, I would say that Klug’s observation still applies. </p><p dir="ltr">Since then, the regular doses of ‘revelations’ about Corbyn have intensified, further entrenching the notion that, at the very least, Corbyn has a tin ear when it comes to recognizing antisemites and antisemitic discourse, and at the very worst repeats antisemitic tropes when talking about Israel’s human rights abuses, Zionism and the nature of the Jewish state. It is understandable therefore that some of Corbyn’s key supporters who reject these accusations nevertheless see adoption of the full IHRA text and the dropping of any changes to the examples as the playing of their ‘get out of jail’ card. The party can then no longer be accused of rejecting the ‘working definition’ and examples, critics will be assuaged, the matter will be history and laid to rest.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Politicising antisemitism within an inch of its life</h2><p dir="ltr">This is wishful thinking. The fact is that the damage has already been done. The default mode of almost all the mainstream media is to take as given that the party is institutionally antisemitic. And that its leader is either incapable or unwilling to do anything about it, except make pious statements that are ignored. These are certainly not propitious circumstances for putting the issue to rest. Too many people and organizations have a vested interest in not letting Corbyn or the party off the hook. (See, for example, <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-s-hidden-hand-behind-attacks-jeremy-corbyn-139423040">Jonathan Cook</a>). And the attacks, given spurious legitimacy by flying the IHRA working definition like a flag, as if it represented a holy and untouchable text, are ongoing and relentless. In a column in the Jewish Chronicle on 21 August, titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn appals me – and his behaviour will get no better’, Joan Ryan MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/jeremy-corbyn-appals-me-and-his-behaviour-will-get-no-better-1.468594">wrote this</a>: ‘Nor should we pretend that even full acceptance of IHRA ends this battle against antisemitism in the Labour party.’ </p><p dir="ltr">At the Jewish Labour Movement conference on 2 September Margaret Hodge, now brazenly exploiting fears about antisemitism to bring about a leadership change, made it clear that it would no longer be enough for the NEC to adopt in full the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism at its meeting on the 4th. ‘It might have been enough three months ago, ‘she said, ‘it might have just enabled us all to start talking to each other and bring trust again, but I think that moment has passed.’ <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/02/margaret-hodge-jeremy-corbyn-problem-labour-antisemitism-crisis">She wants Corbyn to go</a>. And although Gordon Brown didn’t mention Corbyn by name in his emotionally charged speech at the same event calling for the adoption of the IHRA definition and describing antisemitism as ‘a problem of the conspiracy-theory left’, his words will surely be taken as a plea for a new leader.</p><p dir="ltr">These highly charged interventions were taking place even as the vile comments the former Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue, Jonathan Sacks, made about Jeremy Corbyn, in an interview he gave to the New Statesman published on 29 August, were <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/08/corbyn-s-zionist-remarks-were-most-offensive-enoch-powell-says-ex-chief-rabbi">still making waves</a>. Just when you might have thought that the vilification couldn’t be ratcheted up even further, the media’s most cuddly rabbi sent Corbyn-baiting off the graph when he told George Eaton that Corbyn ‘is an antisemite’ who has ‘given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate’ and that his reported 2013 remarks about ‘Zionists’ as ‘the most offensive statement by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech.’ </p><p dir="ltr">It would be naïve in the extreme to think that the kind of politicisation of antisemitism now engulfing Labour and looking like an orgy of self-destruction was a new phenomenon. I first started writing about the use and abuse of antisemitism in Jewish communal politics back in 1985 and was, to say the least, not thanked for doing so. But even after almost 40 years engagement in studying contemporary antisemitism, I have never seen anything like what we are now experiencing.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">after almost 40 years engagement in studying contemporary antisemitism, I have never seen anything like the politicisation we are now experiencing</p><h2 dir="ltr">The curious birth of the IHRA ‘working definition’ of antisemitism</h2><p dir="ltr">One of the central unique elements of this current controversy is the role being played by the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.</p><p dir="ltr">In the last three decades of the twentieth century, politicisation mostly expressed itself in the form of differences in the organized Jewish community over how to deal with the problem of antisemitism on the political level and whether it should be given minimum publicity or openly discussed, and no efforts made to suppress news about desecration of cemeteries and other antisemitic attacks – the default position of the Board of Deputies for many years who feared that publicising such incidents would make matters worse.</p><p dir="ltr">There was hardly any political controversy over how antisemitism should be defined. A broad consensus understanding of what it was prevailed – in the organized Jewish community, among mainstream political parties, across countries in the West. Once that consensus had clearly broken down by the first years of the twenty-first century, almost entirely over the issue of Israel-Palestine and how far anti-Israel rhetoric can be defined as antisemitism – and dubbed the ‘new antisemitism’ – &nbsp;the politicisation of antisemitism was taken to another level. Until that time, Israeli governments had not always made engagement with the problem of antisemitism for diaspora Jews a top priority. Zionism and the establishment of the state were all about overcoming antisemitism. To become too involved, certainly publicly, in this diaspora problem would have meant admitting that in one of its key aims, Zionism failed. But when Israel was placed at the centre of the antisemitism issue, Israeli state policy changed. Leading the Jewish fight against antisemitism, under the banner of promoting the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’, became a core strategic task of government.</p><p dir="ltr">And this is where the story of the IHRA definition begins.</p><p dir="ltr">Fast forward and, irrespective of the decisions that will be taken at today’s NEC meeting, the task of drawing together, in summary form, the very substantial body of evidence which should consign the IHRA working definition to the dustbin of history, is urgent. I understand that to expect the NEC to take a step in that direction is unrealistic. But this is only one stage on which the provocations associated with the IHRA definition action are being felt. Now is an opportunity to establish the fundamental principle that IHRA is so flawed it should be abandoned, not tinkered with.</p><p dir="ltr">Rather than proceed with the metaphor of the IHRA text as tantamount to an untouchable holy scripture, I suggest we think about it as if it were a balloon kept aloft not with helium, but rather with the heat of righteous indignation, the constant ratcheting up of fears and accusations, the ever wilder doubling-down on painting Corbyn an antisemite and the increasingly desperate attempts to oust him from the leadership using hatred of Jews as a weapon with which to achieve this.</p><p dir="ltr">In any public space where proper discussion and serious engagement can take place, the weighty critique of IHRA being produced by a diverse group of people with expertise, who don’t necessarily agree with each other on all aspects and are not working together in any conspiratorial or pre-planned fashion, would successfully puncture that balloon.</p><p dir="ltr">But there is no such space today. Those keeping the balloon in the air use a discourse that has deeply uncomfortable echoes of the post-truth populism, the ‘we don’t trust experts’ narrative, coursing through the political and social veins in so many countries today.</p><p dir="ltr">Those applying their knowledge of law, political history, race and ethnic studies, experience in monitoring, studying and analysing contemporary antisemitism and so on, are largely ignored or subject to ad hominem attacks, character assassination and vilification. But it’s due to their work that the case against IHRA is so strong.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Origins I: A deeply flawed rehash of an abandoned and discredited forerunner</h2><p dir="ltr">The IHRA text is not new. It’s a marginally rehashed version of the ‘working definition’ of antisemitism produced under the auspices of the now defunct European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and published on its website <a href="https://antonylerman.com/2011/06/02/the-farcical-attack-on-the-ucu-for-voting-against-use-of-the-eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism/">on 28 January 2005</a>. The American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) international affairs director, Rabbi Andrew Baker, persuaded the EUMC director Beate Winkler to call a meeting of Jewish representatives to discuss framing a new antisemitism definition as a way of extricating the EUMC from a damaging controversy over a suppressed, and then leaked, antisemitism report purporting to show young Muslims as principally responsible for rising attacks on Jews in Europe. The AJC’s antisemitism research head, Kenneth Stern, had already drafted such a new definition and it was this, subject to some small amendments made by a group comprising only Jewish representatives sympathetic to the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’, that surfaced as the EUMC working definition.</p><p dir="ltr">The draft definition was never subjected to proper scrutiny. On Stern’s own admission, only five people signed off on the final text: Winkler, Stern, Baker, Mike Whine (from the UK Community Security Trust, the defence body of the Jewish community) and Deidre Berger (head of the AJC’s Berlin office).</p><p dir="ltr">However, it undoubtedly made an impact. For example, the US state department, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (2006), either used, cited or recommended adoption of the working definition. Many referred to it erroneously as the EU definition. From the start, the definition and examples were deliberately conflated. The conditionality of the examples were described by Professor Dina Porat of Tel Aviv University, a key figure in the initial discussions about the draft, as ‘a list of acts and statements that are anti-Semitic’ (emphasis added).</p><p dir="ltr">But reception was patchy and as inappropriate attempts to use it to suppress freedom of speech became public, criticisms mounted. The EUMC began to make it clear that the working definition had ‘no legal basis’, ‘did not necessarily reflect the official position of the EUMC’ and was not adopted by it. It should be viewed as ‘a work in progress’, Winkler said, ‘with a view to redrafting’</p><p dir="ltr">When the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) replaced the EUMC, it dropped the working definition, did not display it on its website, said that no public authority in the EU applied the document in any way and that the FRA had ‘no legal competence to develop itself any such definitions.’</p><p dir="ltr">Among those who have contributed to the explication of the origins and the decline and temporary fall of the EUMC working definition are <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/how-campaign-redefine-anti-semitism-sabotages-legitimate-criticism-israel-1657596820">Richard Silverstein</a>, <a href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ben-white/israel-lobbyists-finally-concede-eu-has-ditched-anti-semitism-definition">Ben White</a>, <a href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/campaigners-go-offensive-against-bogus-uk-anti-semitism-definition">Asa Winstanley</a>, <a href="http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/discussion/must-read-jonathan-cook-on-why-the-labour-party-should-not-adopt-the-full-ihra-definition/">Jonathan Cook</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/crying-wolf">Richard Kuper</a>. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Origins II: Creating a tool to fight the ‘new antisemitism’ by redefining Jew-hatred</h2><p dir="ltr">Stern’s aim was to create a definition that provided the basis for determining when criticism of Israel manifests itself as antisemitism. In effect, the task was to produce a codification of the nature of the ‘new antisemitism’ and how it could be recognised. One of the earliest figures conceptualising ‘new antisemitism’, publicising the notion and promoting it internationally, was Irwin Cotler, a Canadian human rights law professor who was justice minister in the 2003-6 Liberal government. He summed it up in 2010 in these words: ‘In a word [sic], classical anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the rights of Jews to live as equal members of whatever society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations, with Israel as the targeted “collective Jew among the nations.”’</p><p dir="ltr">From the outset, this notion was disputed, contested and criticised, but also found support among many, including individual academics, some antisemitism monitoring and research bodies and antisemitism research institutes (some of which were specifically created to develop research and analysis grounded in the ‘new antisemitism’ idea). But it brought most solace to Israel advocacy groups, Israel lobbying organizations and an Israel government that was now convinced of the usefulness of using antisemitism as a defensive shield against external criticism of its actions. As <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n01/neve-gordon/the-new-anti-semitism">Neve Gordon writes:</a> ‘The Israeli government needs the “new anti-Semitism” to justify its actions and to protect it from international and domestic condemnation. Anti-Semitism is effectively weaponised, not only to stifle speech . . . but also to suppress a politics of liberation.’ And although the demise of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism was a blow to those who had worked to develop it and promote it, the effort to promote the notion or theory of the ‘new antisemitism’ continued apace – and successfully.</p><p dir="ltr">However, one crucial consequence was to turn discussion and reasoned argument about the idea, which was just about still discernible in the first years of the twenty-first century, into an all-out verbal and rhetorical war over the nature of contemporary antisemitism. As I <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/undefined/">wrote in the Nation</a>: It ‘diluted the allegation of antisemitism. To warrant the charge, it is sufficient for someone to hold any view ranging from criticism of the policies of the current Israeli government to denial that Israel has the right to exist, without having to subscribe to any of the beliefs historians have traditionally regarded as constituting an anti-Semitic worldview. This is a fundamental redefinition of the term “anti-Semitism” for political purposes, one consequence of which is that if almost everything is antisemitic, then nothing is. The word is rendered useless.’ Or <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/myth-new-anti-semitism/">as Brian Klug puts it</a>: ‘when anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing – the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance’ . </p><h2 dir="ltr">IHRA adoption of the working definition: a deeply suspect process, mired in confusion</h2><p dir="ltr">The IHRA is not so international, not so exclusively focused on Holocaust remembrance and not at all above responding positively to political pressure. It began life in as the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF), which was created by the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust (SIF) in 2000. It was institutionalised permanently as the IHRA in 2012. Of its 31 member countries only 4 are not European. Two of the remaining 27 are not full members.</p><p dir="ltr">My understanding is that the AJC and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) in Los Angeles worked assiduously behind the scenes to get the ITF institutionalised, with the express idea of using it as a vehicle to revive international promotion of the EUMC working definition. Acting for the AJC, once again, was Rabbi Baker. Acting for the SWC was its director of government affairs, Mark Weizman, who, conveniently, also chaired the Antisemitism and Holocaust Committee of the IHRA. And it was through that committee that Weizman drove adoption by the IHRA of an amended version of the EUMC working definition. Some reports suggest that this was the work of two years of hard drafting. The Experts of the UK Delegation to the IHRA on the Working Definition of Antisemitism called the result ‘a clear “gold-standard” definition of what contemporary antisemitism consists of.’ Yet the IHRA text is so similar to the EUMC one as to be, on first glance, virtually indistinguishable – especially the actual 38-word definition which is indeed identical. Someone is not telling the truth here.</p><p dir="ltr">I’ve been informed that members of some country delegations felt that adoption of the working definition on 26 May 2016 was ‘railroaded through’. The head of one of the state delegations to the IHRA participating in the Plenary stated the following:</p><p dir="ltr">‘The discussions, as I remember them, were quite intense and lengthy, both in the couloirs and in the plenary hall, until a decisive step was taken by the presidency, on the demand by some member states. Namely, the original draft text was cut into two, and only the first two-sentence part was to be the&nbsp;working-definition to be adopted, while the other part, the examples, remained what they were: examples to serve as illustrations, to guide the IHRA in its work. From then on, the plenary was able to move quickly on, and the non-legally binding working definition was unanimously adopted.&nbsp;The relevant press release of 26 May 2016... states it very clearly... This is why I really do not quite understand the reason of the ongoing and apparently heated debate in the UK on adopting the definition (actually, rather, the illustrative examples) in full, without caveats nor amendments’ (emphases added).</p><p dir="ltr">As for what adoption meant: Only 6 of 31 governments whose countries are members of IHRA have &nbsp;formally endorsed/adopted the definition, and it’s not clear whether they adopted the examples or not.</p><p dir="ltr">However, <a href="https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178109">we do know that</a>:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">- the UK Government adopted the definition but not the list of examples;&nbsp;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">- the LSE adopted the IHRA definition but clarified that it ‘does not accept . . . all the examples’;&nbsp;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">- the European Parliament adopted the definition without the examples in June 2017 </p></li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Deliberate obfuscation of what is and what is not the IHRA definition</h2><p dir="ltr">Even in its first EUMC incarnation, promoters engaged in deliberate obfuscation as to what did or did not constitute the ‘working definition’. When accused of encouraging the chilling of free speech and endorsing the notion that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same – by including statements such as the ‘state of Israel is a racist endeavour’, ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination’ and ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ as examples that could be antisemitic – protagonists would insist that the examples were not part of the definition and were a work in progress. But when Zionist and Israel-advocacy groups, and ‘new antisemitism’ theorists treated the entire text as the definition, very little was done to disabuse them of this error. So as with the EUMC version, the same process has applied to the IHRA text – only more so.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the differences between EUMC and IHRA is the way the definitions are set out. In the former, the 38-word working definition is distinguished from the rest of the text by being set in bold type. The same text in the IHRA definition is not only also in bold type, it’s enclosed in a box which contains the longer part of a prefatory sentence that begins outside the box: ‘On May 2106, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to: [in the box] Adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism’. As we see from the Corbyn-Labour antisemitism affair, critics like John Mann MP, Louise Ellman MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, Gordon Brown, Chuka Umunna MP and more, aggressively demand that Labour adopt the entire text and often claim that it is indeed the entire text that is the working definition. And when they proclaim that definition has universal acceptance, they further imply that the examples are an integral part of what is universally accepted. But given that there is no evidence of ‘universal acceptance’, there can hardly be evidence that the examples are folded into that.</p><p dir="ltr">Moreover, the administration of the IHRA itself confirmed unequivocally that the definition and the examples were separate things. Its permanent office in Berlin issued <a href="https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178109">the following statement on 12 September 2017</a>: ‘The working definition, like all IHRA decisions, is non-legally binding. The working definition is the text in the box’. This statement makes a nonsense of the statement issued by Experts of the UK Delegation to the IHRA <a href="https://holocaustremembrance.com/news-archive/statement-experts-uk-delegation-ihra-working-definition-antisemitism">on 7 August 2018 that</a> ‘Any “modified” version of the IHRA definition that does not include all of its 11 examples is no longer the IHRA definition.’. How were they induced to make this untrue statement? </p><h2 dir="ltr">Analysis of the full text: deeply flawed and by definition, not a definition</h2><p dir="ltr">The 38-word definition is vague and tells us very little. (See the text <a href="https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism">here</a>.) It’s so obviously a linguistic mess, I find it hard to believe that its promoters have read it. If antisemitism is a ‘certain perception’, what is that perception? If it’s a ‘certain’ one, why not spell it out? We’re barely five words into the definition and instead of clarity we get opacity. This antisemitism ‘may be expressed as hatred towards Jews’, which means it also may not. So if it may not be expressed as hatred, how else might it be expressed? Shouldn’t we be told? If the next sentence is designed to do this, it’s surely incomplete and inadequate. ‘Rhetorical’ seems to imply that it’s just for effect, for show, to make an impression. Surely it’s an inappropriate word. Then to say that antisemitism is ‘directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals’, you might as well just say ‘everyone’, but that doesn’t seem to tell us anything of any use at all.</p><p dir="ltr">Four prominent and respected lawyers who <a href="https://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/ihra-opinion/#sthash.NLpY1Xey.dpbs">have written opinions</a> on the definition are also unimpressed. Hugh Tomlinson QC described it as ‘unclear and confusing’ and said it ‘should be used with caution’. In <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n09/stephen-sedley/defining-anti-semitism">Sir Stephen Sedley’s view</a>, it ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite’. Sir Geoffrey Bindman <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/27/antisemitism-ihra-definition-jewish-writers">wrote</a>: ‘Unfortunately, the definition and the examples are poorly drafted [and] misleading’. And <a href="https://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/news/article/ihra-definition-of-antisemitism-is-not-fit-for-purpose">Geoffrey Robertson concluded</a>: ‘It is imprecise, confusing and open to misinterpretation and even manipulation’.</p><p dir="ltr">At first glance, the sentence introducing the examples is reassuring, since it establishes their conditionality: they ‘could be’ manifestations of antisemitism, ‘taking into account the overall context’. Moreover, the list is not limited. </p><p dir="ltr">However, if they ‘could be’ antisemitic, they also ‘could not’. But you could say that about any number of statements and sentiments. For example, why not include ‘support for the existence of the state of Israel’, since there have always been antisemitic advocates of Zionism. Yet, if we look at these examples in the light of the intentions of the drafters, we see sleight of hand at play. In the same way as we are not discouraged to see the entire text as the working definition, we are invited to entertain only one possibility – that ‘could be’ means ‘are’.</p><p dir="ltr">The whole idea of adding examples to a definition of antisemitism is suspect. If a definition needs clarification using such simplistically formulated examples, it’s not a definition worth its salt. Certainly, the recording, analysis and interpretation of incidents, events, social media posts, statements by politicians, news programmes – of human activity in short – that is suspected of being antisemitic needs to be done, but that is the work of experts and not pre-prepared crib cards. Sometimes that work might involve legal examination, sometimes the writing of political essays, sometimes extended historical research and so on.</p><p dir="ltr">When there was a general consensus about what constituted antisemitism, there was never a need for a handy list of examples. &nbsp;</p><h2 dir="ltr">Legal dangers: chilling free speech and silencing Palestinian voices</h2><p dir="ltr">Although the document categorically states that it is non-legally binding, the urge to make it so is very strong. In the US, where the equivalent of the IHRA working definition is the US state department definition – which, being partially based on the EUMC working definition, bears more than a passing resemblance to the IHRA text – a determined effort to give it legal force is underway at both state and federal level. The House judiciary committee has held hearings on the Antisemitism Awareness Act where witnesses presenting testimony have clashed with congressmen <a href="https://www.jta.org/2017/11/08/news-opinion/politics/barbs-fly-in-congress-as-proponents-opponents-of-law-codifying-anti-semitism-definition-face-off">and with each other</a>. At one of those hearings, the original author of the IHRA definition, Kenneth Stern, who in recent years has become a prominent critic of how the definition is being applied, warned against making it legally-binding because he feared it would restrict freedom of speech.</p><p dir="ltr">Here in the UK, Dr Rebecca Gould, who has written the first thorough legal study of the adoption and implementation of <a href="https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178109">the IHRA working definition</a>, has argued &nbsp;that it has come to function as what she calls a ‘quasi-law, in which capacity it exercises the de facto authority of the law, without having acquired legal legitimacy’. ‘Adoption’ of the IHRA document occurred in the form of a governmental press release, not through a process of democratic deliberation. Had the government sought ‘legal ratification of adoption within a regulatory regime that would formally sanction Israel critical speech’, this would have been a troubling development among scholars and activists concerned with safeguarding freedom of speech. This would surely have amounted to the establishment of an adjudicative standard, something Geoffrey Robertson refers to when he concludes that: ‘The IHRA definition of antisemitism is not fit for any purpose that seeks to use it as an adjudicative standard.’</p><p dir="ltr">All of the legal experts quoted above either referred directly or indirectly to the government’s obligation, and the obligation of all institutions, including universities and colleges, to abide by article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of speech. But, writes Robertson, ‘a particular problem with the IHRA definition is that it is likely in practice to chill free speech, by raising expectations of pro-Israeli groups that they can successfully object to legitimate criticism of their country and correspondingly arouse fears in NGOs and student bodies that they will have events banned or else have to incur considerable expense to protect themselves by legal action.</p><p dir="ltr">Article 10 ‘does not permit the prohibition or sanctioning of speech unless it can be seen as a direct or indirect call for or justification of violence, hatred or intolerance. The fact that speech is offensive to a particular group is not, of itself, a proper ground for prohibition or sanction. The IHRA Definition should not be adopted without careful additional guidance on these issues’, says Hugh Tomlinson. Geoffrey Bindman argues that the definition and examples ‘in practice have [already] led to the suppression of legitimate debate and freedom of expression.’</p><p dir="ltr">And Gould provides evidence that the IHRA definition played a role in successfully getting Israeli Apartheid Week events at Manchester University and the University of Central Lancashire re-titled and cancelled, and an ultimately unsuccessful role in a complaint of antisemitism against the author herself in connection with an article she had written. Sedley describes an event in 2013, when a replica of Israel’s separation wall was erected in the churchyard of St James, Piccadilly. The Spectator denounced it as an ‘anti-Israeli hate-festival’, ‘a description’, Sedley suggests, ‘now capable of coming within the IHRA’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism. In such ways the official adoption of the definition, while not a source of law, gives respectability and encouragement to forms of intolerance which are themselves contrary to law’.</p><p dir="ltr">Especially troubling is the impact NEC adoption of the full IHRA working definition and examples is very likely to have on Palestinian members of the Labour party and on Palestinian voices more widely. There is clear danger that adopting IHRA will further marginalise public discussion of the Palestinian experience of Zionism and the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state, and suppress Palestinian voices even more than they are now. This may not be a result of Palestinians in the party, or non-members invited to be on platforms at local meetings and conferences, directly contravening IHRA guidelines by claiming, for example, that Israel is a racist state – even though they should be fully entitled to describe their personal experiences of dispossession in this manner – but rather a result of self-censorship.</p><p dir="ltr">This problem is starkly highlighted in a statement from Palestinian unions, NGOs and movement organisations, calling on Labour to reject the ‘biased IHRA definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights’, released on 28 August and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/palestinian-civil-society-groups/labour-must-reject-biased-ihra-definition-that-stifles-advocacy-">published on openDemocracy</a>. Its second paragraph reads as follows: ‘This non-legally binding definition attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.unescwa.org/news/escwa-launches-report-israeli-practices-towards-palestinian-people-and-question-apartheid">apartheid</a>&nbsp;from effective measures of accountability in accordance to international law.’ These words could easily have their authors condemned as antisemites according to the IHRA working definition.</p><h2 dir="ltr">No refuge</h2><p dir="ltr">The IHRA working definition offers Jews no credible refuge from antisemitism. It deepens intra-Jewish conflict over Israel’s current trajectory and how to extend all the rights Jews have in Israel-Palestine to the Palestinians in what is now a de facto single state. It institutionalises the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’, thereby further degrading both Jewish and public understanding of the nature of contemporary antisemitism. If Israel is the collective Jew among the nations, right-wing populist and Christian evangelical ‘love’ of Israel makes their underlying antisemitism something the self-proclaimed leader of the Jewish people, Bibi Netanyahu is happy to live with. </p><p dir="ltr">The IHRA working definition offers no protection, just provocation. As <a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2018/09/sacks-v-corbyn-why-conflating-anti-zionism-makes-fighting-antisemitism-impossible/">Robert Cohen argues</a>, it will alienate Jews from the very groups with which we should be working to combat racism.</p><p dir="ltr">If the Corbyn Labour party were not caught in this maelstrom, it would be able to calm the fears of Jewish members and Jews more generally by lancing the boil at the heart of this controversy: the festering sore of the Israel-Palestine conflict. With the two-state solution dead in the water, Labour’s policy on bringing peace with justice to Israelis and Palestinians is not fit for purpose. Start a managed but open debate in the party on how to achieve equal rights for all with no state paradigm-based preconditions and draw opposing voices into dialogue with each other – a dialogue they could not have if the IHRA working definition governed internal party discourse on Israel-Palestine. The answer to hate speech is more speech. Not suppression of offensive views. I can only see full NEC adoption of the entire, deeply flawed IHRA definition achieving the latter, not encouraging the former.</p><p dir="ltr">-----</p><p>I have not been able to acknowledge in the text of my article all those whose work on this issue I have drawn on and greatly benefitted from. I encourage you to read them: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/28/britain-definition-antisemitism-british-jews-jewish-people">David Feldman</a>, <a href="http://normanfinkelstein.com/2018/08/28/why-the-british-labour-party-should-not-adopt-the-ihra-definition-or-any-other-definition-of-antisemitism/">Norman Finkelstein</a>, <a href="https://jamiesternweiner.wordpress.com/author/jsternweiner/">Jamie Stern-Weiner</a>, <a href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/eu-pledges-help-israel-suppress-criticism">Ali Abunimah</a>, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-rosenberg/uk-government-new-anti-semitism-definition-conflates-racism-with-valid-criticism">David Rosenberg</a>, <a href="https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/1907/">Jonathan Rosenhead</a>, <a href="http://www.the-platform.org.uk/2018/08/15/for-the-sake-of-all-of-us-labour-must-reject-the-ihras-definition-of-anti-semitism/">Barnaby Raine</a> and others.</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/david-hirsh/stop-accusing-jewish-community-of-conspiring-against-left">Stop accusing the Jewish community of conspiring against the left</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Anti-Semitism and the left Antony Lerman Tue, 04 Sep 2018 11:43:55 +0000 Antony Lerman 119532 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Labour's democracy review should be about more than selection procedures https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/labours-democracy-review-should-be-about-more-than-selection-procedures <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If Labour wants to shape the future, it must reinvent what it means to be a political party.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/corb.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/corb.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image, Ren, Flickr.com, some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The looming Labour conference is, <a href="mailto:http://click.mail.theguardian.com/%3Fqs=045a9ced632f89b1706b5ba72b191a0b713e1092de3f6a17d7104c6d751a289d14b470b35d4784c96b1254cd2229aa6f">we learnt at the weekend</a>, to debate and deicide on a&nbsp; number of rule changes, which in the current climate are obviously seen as a move by the left against the right. Which of course they might be. The party’s factions, left and right, live and die by the sword in a cycle of retribution, all about who has the numerical upper hand. This instrumentalist approach to politics will be the death of Labour, whoever wins out.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The more important issue is not whether the reforms hurt or help either side – but whether they deepen democracy within the party and ultimately whether they pave the way forward for a party political formation that is now way out of date for the 21st century.</p> <p>On the first challenge, we should welcome rule changes that engage more party members in decision-making but also recognises the dangers of a permanent plebiscite on party representatives. On this basis the reforms going to the Labour conference look a mixed bag. Personally, I see nothing wrong with sitting MPs being challenged once every five years – better this than the stitch ups by party officials and the parachuting in of gilded ones, sweetened by offers of places in the Lords to get old MPs out and the new in. On the other hand, any shift to move to directly elected council leaders looks poorly thought through.&nbsp; </p><p>There is one proposal I really support, that is the rule change to enable CLPs not to have stand a candidate at a general election if they vote not to. Standing candidates that only let in the Tories is self defeating and local parties should be allowed to excuse themselves from this waste of resources. If this had been in place at the last election, Jeremy Corbyn would now be PM. Of course, the only long term answer to our woeful first past the post voting system is a shift to proportional representation. And its great to see a flock of motions supportive of this. </p> <p>So the reforms will mostly help, a bit, but they are a massive missed opportunity.&nbsp; Why didn’t the <a href="mailto:https://labour.org.uk/about/democracy-review-2017/">Democracy Review</a> led by former MP Katy Clark start with a blank sheet of paper and ask the question: if we were starting a political party now, what would its function and therefor its form be? If they did this then that could have led to a gap analysis between how to really influence power in the 21st century and where the party actually is now – suggesting a series of transformations over time. </p> <p>In this they could have leant something from the Liberal Democrats and others.&nbsp; The likely decision of the Liberal Democrats to open the leadership of the party up to non-MPs is a yet another signal of the revolution that needs to come if our political system is ever going to be fit for the 21st century. The move to elect a Leader who isn’t necessarily an elected member of parliament is in many ways seismic as it tacitly acknowledges three big things. First that the talent now lies elsewhere. This is not just because the Lib Dem pool of MPs is so small, finding real leadership talent in the whole of Westminster is now a tough gig. In part that’s because the life of the MP is not exactly that attractive. They get paid little in comparison to others doing similar jobs, work all hours and mostly get huge amounts of stick for not being perfect enough. </p> <p>Second, and more importantly, the search beyond parliament reflects the fact that power has now escaped parliament. Nation states and certainly national economics are no longer to be commanded and controlled from the centre of government. Through the global economy and now the rise of social media and the network society, power and politics have been separated. If you want to change the world today you don’t join a political party but start a hedge fund to get rich and give it away, a tech company or new campaign organization. The Liberal Democrat’s presumably want to tap into this world and they are right to. </p> <p>The successful party of the future won’t have a leader based in Westminster because that’s no longer the centre of power. Instead ‘the leader’ will oversee activity in the economy, civil society, the media (new and old), academia etc – at every point in which ideas are formed and coalitions for change built.&nbsp; </p><p>And all this reveals the third and biggest shift, the decline in the dominance of representative democracy. Once politics was simple. We voted for people who represented us and managed the economy and public services, took us to war or kept the peace, all on our behalf. In the complexity of a globalized and networked &nbsp;world it is impossible for the politician as technocrat to dominate.&nbsp; Of course we need representatives to make many decisions for us, but we need a deeper sense of everyday democracy too, at work and in our communities. Representative democracy now needs to be augmented by more deliberative and, when appropriate, direct forms of democracy. &nbsp;In the future we will shift effortlessly between these different forms in what is called <a href="mailto:https://medium.com/organizer-sandbox/liquid-democracy-true-democracy-for-the-21st-century-7c66f5e53b6f">Liquid Democracy</a>. </p> <p>The Liberal Democrats are trying to adapt to this new world in which the shift to proportional representation is essential. The Women’s Equality Party has already been leading the way as they allow their members to belong to other parties (who of course refuse to reciprocate) as they try to change the agenda and not just get their hands on old power, while the Greens show us the possibilities of ideas like co-leadership. Abroad party movements like En Marche in France, the Alternative in Denmark and Podemos in Spain are all part of the move to&nbsp; 21st century politics. With a new centre party coming down the track this party revolution is only just kicking off. This is the space Labour should have started to fill. Instead it is making a few tweaks when what is needed is transformation of the party political formation. </p><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 Neal Lawson Mon, 03 Sep 2018 10:50:39 +0000 Neal Lawson 119523 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On one of the key political issues of the day, local politics has been running scared https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/phoebe-griffith/on-one-of-key-political-issues-of-day-local-politics-has-been-running-s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Britain's local politicians need to find the language to lead on immigration.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 14.56.53.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 14.56.53.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="294" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Euromarket, Corby. Image, Googlemaps, fair use.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The Euromarket on George Street in Corby stocks Polish cured meat, Hungarian cereals and Romanian doughnuts. A few yards away, the Job Centre is buzzing with languages from Eastern and Central Europe. A group of local leave supporters had urged us to go to see it with our own eyes: there, they assured us, was the evidence that people were coming to claim benefits. A short visit to the Job Centre reveals the truth: the counter was not handing out JSA, but national insurance numbers.</p><p dir="ltr">Corby is one of the most rapidly growing towns in the UK. Formerly home of the Northamptonshire steel industry, the town went into a severe recession in the 70s and 80s. Unemployment soared, an experience which has left its mark on the local population. Fast forward to the early 2000s when, backed by hefty regeneration funds from the then Labour government and the European Union, the town embarked on an ambitious growth plan. Briefly rebranding itself North Londonshire in a bid to attract commuters from the capital, population growth was put at the heart of its strategy.</p><p dir="ltr">Almost two decades later, when the EU referendum came along, local leaders admitted they had become complacent. Over halfway into the regeneration plan, the town was well on the way to putting its industrial past behind it. Work was plentiful and the town had transformed its image, branded as the ‘town that dusted off the ashes of its industrial past’ by the<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/27/corby-northamptonshire-twin-shijiazhuang-china-fastest-growing"> Guardian</a>. The local referendum result therefore came as a shock: 64% of Corby’s population voted leave (well above the national average).</p><p dir="ltr">The causes of the referendum result are complex. But it is clear that in places like Corby immigration played a pivotal role. Before 2004 the town had hardly any experience of immigration from outside the UK pre-2000 (the town attracted thousands of Scots during the first steel boom). Since then, the size of the foreign population has doubled. In 2016, almost 25% of births locally were to parents from another EU country. This was a significant development in a town where foreigners were a rarity only ten years before. Less clear, however, is whether things could have been managed differently.</p><p dir="ltr">The job centre in Corby provides an important clue. Despite all the evidence that claims about benefit tourism and welfare dependence were out of step with reality, welfare was a key focus well before the referendum. IPPR’s<a href="https://www.ippr.org/publications/free-movement-and-the-eu-referendum"> work</a> with euro-sceptics before the referendum showed that it was a primary concern. &nbsp;Hardly a day went by without a story of EU migrants abusing the benefits system in the British tabloids. Yet it seems that dispelling the welfare myth had not been at the forefront of local policymakers’ concerns.</p><p dir="ltr">When I raised this question with an official in Corby Council he blanches. With hindsight, he responds, that seems like a good idea. But years of experience had taught the local authority that it was better to keep issues related to immigration under the radar. Talking to local officials from Derby to Boston, with few exceptions (most of which are in London), it is clear that local authorities have come to understand that nothing good can come of talking about immigration. In the words of one official, “You lose if you don’t but you probably lose more if you do.” Migration remains one of the most contentious issues in British politics, far better to leave it with Westminster.</p><p dir="ltr">Other factors stand in the way. The state of its finances means that local government is looking to shed responsibilities not assume new ones. Indeed, Northamptonshire Council made the headlines recently for<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/06/northamptonshire-council-financial-crisis-tory-run-council"> filing</a> for bankruptcy. Local authorities are focusing their stretched resources on the services they have to deliver, care for vulnerable children and collecting bins.</p><p dir="ltr">The attitudes of local officials mirror those in national politics. By and large, the local leaders I have spoken to displayed all the hallmarks of remain supporters. Most welcomed the fact that the local area felt more cosmopolitan, pointing out all the great things that were going on in the community &nbsp;– the salsa night run by Cuban refugees or the Church group that sponsored families from Syria. The more contentious issues regarding welfare, work and places at the overstretched local primary school simply felt too uncomfortable. </p><p dir="ltr">From<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/12/italian-village-migrants-sea"> Calabria</a> to<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/us/ailing-cities-extend-hand-to-immigrants.html"> Cleveland</a>, experience from around the world shows that local leadership is a key part of managing (even changing) public attitudes on migration. Indeed, in its latest integration<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper"> strategy</a>, the government made it clear that it expects local authorities to sit in the front seat when it comes to managing the impacts of migration and promoting greater integration. To make this plan a reality two key challenges need to be addressed.</p><p dir="ltr">Firstly, spending on integration needs to keep pace with increasing levels of immigration. Resourcing integration is challenging: generally, it’s something people value but don’t want to pay for. Alternative ways of generating income need to be found. One option is to allocate a specific proportion of immigration fees. Recent years have seen marked rises in the cost of applying to work or study in the UK from outside the EU. Since 2007, the cost of becoming a UK citizen has more than doubled. Government should commit itself to investing a proportion of this income into local integration funds. Funds should be boosted by local employers who benefit from ready access to trained workers and universities too have benefited significantly from access to international students. </p><p dir="ltr">Secondly, local level leadership needs to be bolstered. Regional and local bodies should have a greater voice in the immigration system. This will both enable local interests to be better represented in the system and increase the accountability of local leaders, forcing them to lean into concerns about wage undercutting and shortages in primary school places, generate and analyse data to establish the extent of their veracity and take steps where issues are identified (or actively dispel myths where this is not the case).</p><p dir="ltr">“All politics is local” states one of the adages of American politics. But on one of the key issues of the day, local politics has been running scared. Unlocking a better debate about immigration will only be possible once this is addressed. Reluctant local leaders in places like Corby need to engage with the things that matter to people, including immigration. This means neither pandering to people’s fears nor hiding behind central government’s net migration target, but listening to people’s concerns, engaging with the issues and putting in place policies where people can see them.</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/etienne-balibar/call-for-international-right-of-hospitality"> A call for an international right of hospitality on World Humanitarian Day</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Phoebe Griffith Fri, 31 Aug 2018 14:06:56 +0000 Phoebe Griffith 119505 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Opposition MPs call on PM to investigate former minister over hidden links to Tory ultra-Brexiteers https://www.opendemocracy.net/james-cusick/opposition-mps-call-on-pm-to-investigate-former-minister-over-hidden-links-to-tory-ultr <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After openDemocracy revealed how former Brexit minister Steve Baker continued to work with the secretive European Research Group despite being in government, demands for Downing Street to investigate.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/Steve Baker Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 13.47.41_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/564976/Steve Baker Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 13.47.41_460.jpg" alt="Steve Baker MP" title="" width="460" height="257" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Steve Baker: from the ERG to Brexit department. Image: BBC, fair use.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Senior opposition MPs have called on the prime minister to launch “an immediate investigation” into a former Brexit minister for potential breaches of the ministerial code. They say Steve Baker should be investigated for using civil servants to organise secretive meetings with the European Research Group and for keeping a lead role with the influential group of hardline anti-EU Conservative MPs after becoming a minister. </p><p dir="ltr">An <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/ex-brexit-minister-steve-baker-remained-in-">investigation</a> by openDemocracy revealed how Baker continued to meet with and influence the ERG after he was appointed as a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union in 2017. The ERG, a group of ultra-eurosceptic Tories said to include as many as 80 MPs, has consistently pressured Theresa May to adopt a hard Brexit.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Now leading Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs responsible for Brexit policy have called on Number 10 to investigate Baker and the “dirty and secretive” games that are steering the UK towards a ‘no deal’ Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">Cabinet Office</a> investigation previously examined Baker’s regular attendance at ERG meetings throughout his time as a minister. The probe, prompted by an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">openDemocracy</a> investigation, accepted Baker’s explanation that he was merely attending the gatherings in his personal capacity as a constituency MP.</p><p dir="ltr">However, emails obtained by openDemocracy show Baker’s DExEU officials organising his attendance at an ERG meeting just weeks after he became a minister. He also offered the group private briefings on critical government policy. None of the meetings were officially listed, as transparency rules require.</p><p dir="ltr">Conservative party sources with knowledge of Baker’s relationship with the ERG said he had remained “their lightly-detached chief executive” while serving as a minister. The <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/672633/2018-01-08_MINISTERIAL_CODE_JANUARY_2018__FINAL___3_.pdf">ministerial code</a> prohibits MPs from “being associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy”.</p><h2>Misuse of ministerial position</h2><p dir="ltr">John Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, told openDemocracy: “The revelation that Baker used civil servants to contact the ERG undermines his claim to have only interacted with this secretive group in a personal capacity.”</p><p dir="ltr">Trickett said Baker was using his ministerial position to “push an extreme free-trade agenda that is at odds with his own government’s policy and the great majority of the British public.”</p><p dir="ltr">Baker took over as chair of the ERG in 2016 and is credited with moulding it into the powerful group it is today. Though funded by taxpayers’ cash, the ERG refuses to make its <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">membership</a> list public. Current and former <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/six-of-theresa-may-s-cabinet-are-paid-up-members-of-secret-group-demanding">cabinet</a> ministers are understood to be paid-up members.</p><p dir="ltr">Appointed a minister by Theresa May after the 2017 general election, Baker resigned on 9 July this year, the same day as his boss at DExEU, David Davis, also left. Baker said he was unable to back the compromises of the plan the prime minister had brokered at Chequers two days earlier. He later accused May of being involved in a “cloak and dagger” <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/14/theresa-mays-secret-cloak-dagger-plot-foil-brexit-revealed-minister/">plot</a> to foil Brexit and said Downing Street, not DExEU, had control over negotiations with Brussels.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker is on record stating that the EU needs to be “wholly <a href="blank">torn down</a>” and that it remains “an obstacle to free trade and peace”.</p><h2>Worse than Game of Thrones</h2><p dir="ltr">Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson, said the “dirty and secretive” games being played by the Tories in their “embittered civil war” made Game of Thrones look tame in comparison. However Brake said it was “no laughing matter” because the UK was “being pushed over a ‘no-deal’ Brexit cliff edge”.</p><p dir="ltr">Commenting on Baker’s links with the ERG, Brake told openDemocracy: “It would appear a now former minister broke the ministerial code while in office. The prime minister cannot ignore this. There should be an immediate investigation.”</p><p dir="ltr">Brake said Baker’s connections to the ERG while holding a senior role in a government department critical to the UK’s future relationship with the European Union “revealed the extent to which Theresa May’s government have been driven by this ragtag group of MPs. These politicians cannot be trusted.”</p><p dir="ltr">May’s fate as prime minister is often described as being in the hands of the ERG, now chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg. A hard-line Brexit <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rees-mogg-tories-draw-up-their-own-blueprint-for-a-hard-brexit-r7b53s355">policy paper</a>, co-authored by Baker and Rees-Mogg, is to be published before the Conservative Party conference in early October. The blueprint is expected to be part of a wider assault on the Chequers deal, which will be painted as a sell-out keeping the UK shackled to Brussels’ rules.</p><p dir="ltr">The ERG’s votes in Parliament on any agreement with Brussels will be critical to the outcome and therefore to May’s immediate future.</p><p dir="ltr">Since his resignation, Baker has slotted back into a leadership role among his ERG colleagues. In a <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/brexit-steve-baker-theresa-may_uk_5b4f79dfe4b0de86f4891341?guccounter=1&amp;guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&amp;guce_referrer_cs=CyOGpjZCEMf960Cm__JMlw">speech</a> to the House of Commons shortly before the summer break, Baker used barely coded language to threaten May, saying there were 40-plus Brexiteers – a reference to the ERG – who would vote with the SNP and Labour to kill off the Chequers plan.</p><p dir="ltr">The effective deputy prime minister, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/29/no-deal-brexit-is-only-alternative-to-chequers-plan-says-lidington">David Liddington</a>, said this week that if the Chequers compromise failed, the only option left was a ‘no deal’ Brexit.</p><h2>PM held hostage</h2><p dir="ltr">A former Labour cabinet minister, Ben Bradshaw, who is a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, told openDemocracy: “These new revelations about Steve Baker highlight how the government, and by extension the country, are effectively being held hostage by a Brextremist minority within the Conservative Party.”</p><p dir="ltr">Bradshaw added: “Everyone else has to follow the rules, but Steve Baker and his merry band of Brexiteers march to the beat of their own drum. It is outrageous that our country may end up being forced to endure a destructive Brexit because of the ideological obsessions of a relatively small number of back-bench MPs operating in secrecy.”</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/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/ex-brexit-minister-steve-baker-remained-in-">Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker remained in charge of secretive Tory ultra faction </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/six-of-theresa-may-s-cabinet-are-paid-up-members-of-secret-group-demanding">Six of Theresa May’s cabinet are paid up “members” of secret group demanding a total break from the European Union </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"> Democracy and government </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 Democracy and government DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. James Cusick Fri, 31 Aug 2018 11:55:10 +0000 James Cusick 119498 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Netanyahu’s Corbyn problem https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/netanyahu-s-corbyn-problem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the furore over Labour's leader, Israel's actual interest in targeting him is neglected.</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-37712798.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37712798.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Benjamin Netanyahu speaking via live video conference at Washington Summit of Christians United for Israel. July 23, 2018. Michael Brochstein/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Over several months, claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and its leadership have persisted and caused intense controversy. A less explored aspect is the view of the matter held by Israel's government, and especially by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. His direct <a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5328356,00.html ">entry</a> to the fray via Twitter was widely reported, but less so has been Israeli foreign policy and security thinking in relation to Jeremy Corbyn and the "problem" he represents. </p><p>The immediate context to this is the war in Syria and Iran's prominent role. A few days ago Iran's defence minister Amir Hatami met his Syrian counterpart General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub in Damascus. They agreed a further period of close military cooperation, thus confirming Iran's continued <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-iran-syria-defence-minister/irans-defence-minister-meets-assad-syrian-counterpart-in-damascus-idUKKCN1LB051">support </a>for the Assad regime in the face of frequent Israeli airstrikes against its units in the country. The meeting, in part a deliberate response to Donald Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, was observed closely in Jerusalem. </p><p>It has been said of Israel that the country is “impregnable in its insecurity” (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%E2%80%99s-security-trap">Israel's security trap</a>", 5 August 2010). Its relatively confident <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/netanyahu-no-syria-iran-deal-will-deter-israel-1.6430871">mood</a> at present derives in part from the policies of its one key ally, the United States, Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem having had great symbolic value. Saudi Arabia's confrontation with Iran, and in turn Riyadh's reliance on Washington in prosecuting the war in Yemen, are also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-looming-war">reassuring</a> to Israel. Underlying Israel's tight connection to the US is a strategic bond which includes many joint weapons programmes and the long-term presence of operational US military personnel within Israel.</p><p>In the United States itself, pro-Israel advocates remain robust and effective, despite continuing opposition from some liberal Jewish groups. Among these advocates are huge numbers of Christian Zionists, who tend to be more assiduous in voting than the population as a whole and also most commonly support Republican candidates (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection">Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection</a>", 14 December 2017). .</p><p>A marker for current attitudes is the “Israel has won, so get real” stance of influential lobby groups such as the <a href="https://www.meforum.org/ ">Middle East Forum</a>&nbsp; led by Daniel Pipes. The message here is clear: in the contest between Israelis and Palestinians, the former is the victor – and there will never be a two-state solution. In this view, any talk of peace can only mean that Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories, and elsewhere, must accept whatever Israel decides about their future. That is the <a href="http://www.danielpipes.org/17110/the-way-to-peace-israeli-victory-palestinian ">reality</a> and there is no alternative.</p><p>This approach, welcomed by Binyamin Netanyahu's government, is a further boost for Israel's security establishment. Even the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/trumps-contempt-for-the-law-will-be-his-downfall/568564/">turmoil</a> in Washington doesn't cause undue upset, for in the unlikely event of Trump's disappearance from the scene he would be <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/27/cashin-market-betting-on-pence-should-trump-legal-troubles-take-turn.html">succeeded</a> by an evangelical Christian and even more fervent pro-Israeli figure, vice-president Mike Pence. Two terms of Trump followed by two of Pence – fourteen more years – would be Israel's perfect scenario. That may be pushing things: but with the situation looking so favourable now, why is there any need to be concerned about Jeremy Corbyn?</p><p><strong>A wanted man</strong></p><p>From Jerusalem's angle, the reasoning at work may have more to do with Corbyn’s longstanding <a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5293948,00.html">support </a>for the Palestinian cause than with the need to support Jewish communities in the UK. After all, cool analysis of the British political scene would suggest that current uncertainty will persist, the chances of a general election before 2022 are high, and in those circumstances Corbyn could well get to Downing Street.</p><p>That scenario will worry Netanyahu, but is it sufficient for his government to <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/benjamin-netanyahu-attacks-jeremy-corbyn-over-wreath-laying-memorial-11471988">intercede</a> in British politics? There is some evidence that it is <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-s-hidden-hand-behind-attacks-jeremy-corbyn-139423040">proving</a> so; Israeli human-rights activists, the advocate Eitay Mack for <a href="https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/d97808f3-e31a-444d-8e85-c18b0767c03b">example</a>, are making freedom-of-information requests to seek concrete information.</p><p>The relevant agency involved is considered to be the strategic-affairs ministry, a government <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/topic/ministry-of-strategic-affairs/">department</a> set up in 2006 whose main function is to minimise threats from, primarily, anti-Israel movements abroad. The department has focused largely on supporters of Iran and the Palestinians, and on <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/topic/ministry-of-strategic-affairs/">countering </a>the international BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions). A Labour government in the UK led by Jeremy Corbyn would boost this movement, whatever official policy might then be. For that reason alone, the strategic-affairs ministry is likely to be fulfilling its duty to the state by helping any opposition to Corbyn. It may be many months or even years before the extent of such help becomes clear.</p><p>What of the situation in Britain? Independent assessments of anti-Semitism tend to suggest that, overall, Labour supporters are less likely to hold such views than Conservative supporters, and that anti-Semitism among Labour supporters may actually have declined in the first two years since Corbyn was elected leader.&nbsp; </p><p>The evidence is certainly not fully comprehensive, and <a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-antisemitism-political-parties">polling</a> does show that the Jewish community sees a bigger problem in the Labour Party than in other parties. &nbsp;But whatever the full picture, if the Labour Party is fully committed to human rights then it should be <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/antisemitism-crisis-shows-labour-leadership-needs-to-get-better-at-listening">forceful</a><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/david-hirsh/stop-accusing-jewish-community-of-conspiring-against-left"> </a>in its opposition to anti-Semitism within its ranks.</p><p>So great is the relentless print-media campaign against Jeremy Corbyn in recent months that it <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/labour-corbyn-anti-semitism/568468/">might</a> be expected by now to have significantly damaged Corbyn and his party. There is not very much evidence for that; rather, most Labour party members <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/corbyns-critics-time-to-come-round">appear </a>to be consistently supportive. But if Corbyn does need anything to cement his popularity, some would argue that it's a really nasty tweet. Not from Binyamin Netanyahu – but from Donald Trump.</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><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span class="st">&nbsp;</span>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/books/irregular_war_isis_and_new_threat_margins"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em> </a>(IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/about">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><span class="st"><span class="st"><br /></span></span></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="/paul-rogers/corbyns-critics-time-to-come-round">Corbyn&#039;s critics: time to come round</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyns-labour-now-look-outwards">Corbyn&#039;s Labour: now look outwards</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-signal">The Corbyn crowd, and its signal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/corbyn-crowd-and-its-message">The Corbyn crowd, and its message</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-future-not-past">Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">What’s behind the Corbyn surge?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn%E2%80%99s-first-100-days">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn-s-first-100-days-revisited">Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days, revisited</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 global security Paul Rogers Thu, 30 Aug 2018 13:37:44 +0000 Paul Rogers 119483 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Truly Project Hate: the third scandal of the official Vote Leave campaign headed by Boris Johnson https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/martin-shaw/truly-project-hate-third-scandal-of-official-vote-leave-campaign-headed-by- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Look at the Vote Leave Facebook adverts alongside their more public propaganda, and you see quite how much it promoted racist ideas.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Vote Leave Facebook ad, fair use</span></span></span></p><p class="BodyA">Boris Johnson’s weaponisation of the burqa came on the heels of new revelations about the propaganda strategy of the Vote Leave campaign which he fronted in the 2016 referendum. I <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/martin-shaw/brexit-is-r-for-racism">argued here at the time</a> that Vote Leave’s official television advertisement, the most high-profile item of Leave propaganda, was a skillful racist amalgam. </p> <p class="BodyA">During the referendum, we knew that Vote Leave was sending a huge number of targeted social media messages. Its strategist Dominic Cummings now says there were 1.5 billion, with a large number directed at just 7 million voters in the final days of the campaign, but these were under the radar for pro-EU observers in 2016.&nbsp; </p><p class="BodyA">However, following the twin scandals around Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ, and Vote Leave’s breaches of election spending laws, Facebook supplied <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/culture-media-and-sport/Fake_news_evidence/Ads-supplied-by-Facebook-to-the-DCMS-Committee.pdf">Vote Leave’s advertisements</a> to Westminster’s Media, Culture and Sport committee. It is now possible to see that the TV ad was the centrepiece of a vast multimedia effort centred on a nuanced orchestration of racism to swing the Brexit vote. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>How racism in the Leave campaign has been misunderstood</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">This third scandal is possibly the most serious of all for British democracy, yet to appreciate it we must revise our ideas on the role of racism in Brexit. During and after the referendum, pro-EU politicians and commentators largely identified racism with the UKIP-linked Leave.EU, which was responsible for what became an emblematic moment, the unveiling by Nigel Farage – just after the assassination of the Labour MP Jo Cox – of the notorious ‘Breaking Point’ poster which used a photograph of Syrian refugees to represent migration into Britain. Vote Leave distanced itself from the poster: the co-convenor of its campaign committee, Michael Gove (then as now a cabinet minister), <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36570759">said that he ‘<span>shuddered</span>’</a> when he saw it. </p> <p class="BodyA">Moreover, Leave.EU attacked Vote Leave for giving insufficient priority to immigration and critics have largely taken their attacks at face value, accepting the idea that Leave.EU was racist, Vote Leave not. When <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-hate-crime-racism-immigration-eu-referendum-result-what-it-means-eurospectic-areas-a7165056.html">a wave of physical and verbal aggression</a> erupted, political blame focused on the secondary campaign fronted by Farage and funded by Arron Banks. Indeed Tim Shipman recounts that Leave.EU advertisements were ‘deliberately sent to supporters of the British National Party and Britain First’, the racist group to which Thomas Mair, Cox’s murderer, was linked because he cried ‘Britain first’ as he killed her (<a href="https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008215170/all-out-war/">All Out War</a>, p.408). </p> <p class="BodyA">However the focus on Leave.EU, the extreme right and hate crimes misses the role of the campaign which was officially recognised by the Electoral Commission and led by Conservative ministers and Labour MPs: Vote Leave. In the biggest TV debate on 20 June 2016, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, accused Vote Leave leaders of <a href="https://www.indy100.com/article/sadiq-khan-called-out-the-leave-campaigns-project-hate-and-got-the-biggest-cheer-of-the-bbc-eu-debate--ZkM5b5Hc4W">‘Project Hate’</a>, a rare calling-out of their campaign at the time. We can now see how right he was.</p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>How Vote Leave’s TV and Facebook propaganda combined</strong></h2> <p>&nbsp;By then Vote Leave had shown its <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36367247">TV election</a><a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36367247"> broadcast</a> repeatedly on different channels over four weeks, starting on 23 May. Beginning with lurid graphics representing the immigration threat of Turkey and Balkan countries joining the EU and the £350 million the UK allegedly paid the EU each week, it climaxed with split screen film showing (staying within the EU) a surly foreign man elbowing a tearful elderly white woman out of the queue in an Accident and Emergency department, while (leaving the EU) the woman is contentedly treated without having to wait. This film was on YouTube as recently as the spring of this year, but appears to have been removed since the scandals of the Vote Leave campaign were exposed. The importance of this broadcast is that it was shown, as law required, on all terrestrial public channels and therefore accessible to almost all the electorate, including older voters, a major target audience many of whom did not use social media. </p><p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave TV ad still_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave TV ad still_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A still from Vote Leave's TV ad. Fair use.</span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA">The new information published by the DMCS committee shows how Facebook propaganda complemented this broadcast. While Vote Leave’s hundreds of Facebook advertisements <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44966969">included a wide range of issues</a>, the largest cluster focused on immigration, Turkey and the linked £350 million claim, and widely re-used graphics and images from the broadcast in material posted to targeted subsets of users. Images of Johnson (the only featured politician) were used with apparently liberal, democratic slogans such as ‘I’m pro-immigration, but above all I’m pro controlled immigration. In the EU the system has spun out of control. Join Me, Vote Leave’, and ‘Immigration must be controlled by those who the public elected and not the EU! On the 23 June they will get their chance to take back control.’&nbsp; </p><p class="BodyA">However alongside these were lurid advertisements like: ‘5.23 MILLION MORE IMMIGRANTS ARE MOVING TO THE UK! GOOD NEWS???’ (the viewer was invited to press a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ button, and presumably ‘no’ respondents were targeted with further advertisements reprising the theme in one of many variations now revealed) and ‘Reason No. 8’ to leave the EU, ‘‘To stop convicted criminals from countries like Latvia and Romania coming to the UK’ (the button was: ‘YES, I VOTE LEAVE’). </p> <p class="BodyA">In this differentiated propaganda, on the one hand immigration was presented as an example of ‘taking back control’ with the abstract theme of excessive numbers of migrants, and on the other as the threat of large numbers of new migrants arriving from undesirable places like Turkey and the equally distant, barely known Balkan states of Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. Each of these countries featured separately in mutually reinforcing advertisements, which may well have been posted sequentially to susceptible Facebook users. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>‘Abstract stuff’ and emotive propaganda </strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">The combination of an emphasis on numbers with more emotive, targeted tropes is not new. In his <a href="https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/enoch-powell-what-rivers-blood-8945556">notorious 1968 speech</a>, Enoch Powell asserted: ‘numbers are of the essence: the significance and consequences of an alien element introduced into a country or population are profoundly different according to whether that element is 1 per cent or 10 per cent.’ Powell always claimed to be ignorant of the term ‘race’, and in remarks around the same time which seem prophetic of contemporary Europhobic concerns, even suggested around the same time that clusters of Italians or Germans in British cities would constitute the same sort of ‘alien’ presence as large numbers of blacks. </p> <p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Johnson immigration ad_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Johnson immigration ad_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Nevertheless, just as Vote Leave named Turks, Albanians and others, Powell made it very clear that he was talking about ‘Negroes’, evoking the fate of the sole ‘white (a woman old-age pensioner)’, living in a street taken over by these ‘aliens’: ‘She is becoming afraid to go out. Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letter-box. When she goes out to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies.’ </p> <p class="BodyA">The key here was that Powell needed to give the ‘abstract stuff’ about numbers, as the historian <a href="http://www.oupcanada.com/catalog/9780199240548.html">Randall Hansen calls it</a>, human form to make it the emotional stuff of effective propaganda. It is difficult not to see Vote Leave’s broadcast with its focus on the plight of a vulnerable older white woman as homage to Powell’s exposition, and curious that Johnson, having notoriously also <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/jan/23/london.race">prattled about ‘piccaninnies’ and ‘watermelon smiles’</a>, should now have referred to ‘letter-boxes’ in his attack on Muslim women. Whether or not they are consciously referencing Powell, they are following his playbook remarkably faithfully considering the changed circumstances.</p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>Strategic role of immigration in Vote Leave’s campaign</strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">More important than these historical parallels is the incontrovertible evidence that Vote Leave attached as much strategic importance to immigration politics as Leave.EU. Shipman demonstrates, using comprehensive interviews with leading participants, that the differences between the campaigns concerned strategy and timing rather than the principle of weaponising immigration. He shows that Cummings always understood that Leave could not win without making immigration a crucial plank, and that his aim was to establish Vote Leave’s respectable credentials by focusing on sovereignty and ‘taking back control’ before the official campaign, and then to introduce immigration in that final month as the killer argument which would concretise ‘control’ and widen Leave’s appeal. </p> <p class="BodyA"><a href="https://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/on-the-referendum-21-branching-histories-of-the-2016-referendum-and-the-frogs-before-the-storm-2">Cummings himself writes</a>: ‘Would we have won without immigration? No’, and confirms that the key argument was: ‘Vote Leave to take back control of immigration policy. If we stay there will be more new countries like Turkey joining and you won’t get a vote. Cameron says he wants to “pave the road” from Turkey to here. That’s dangerous. If we leave we can have democratic control and a system like Australia’s. It’s safer to take back control.’ He adds, ‘It is true that we did not do much on immigration before the 10 week official campaign. That is because ... we did not need to. It was far more important to plant other seeds and recruit support that would have been put off if we had focused early on immigration. Immigration was a baseball bat that just needed picking up at the right time and in the right way.’ </p> <p class="BodyA">However this ‘stagist’ characterisation is only half the story. Vote Leave also had in effect a two-<em>level</em> campaign, in which often lurid propaganda, much of it undercover, ran alongside the campaign figureheads’ abstract arguments about sovereignty and global Britain in their televised speeches for respectable audiences, and too much media coverage took the latter as representative. Yet with Vote Leave’s mainstream credentials and more nuanced range of material, its emotive propaganda is likely to have had a wider influence on voters than Leave.EU’s. </p> <h2 class="BodyA"><strong>The allegation of racism </strong></h2> <p class="BodyA">As the debate on antisemitism has emphasised, racism does not necessarily involve expressing explicit hostility to specific groups or a desire to harm them. Often it is implicit in the imagery used and the ‘smell’ of a certain kind of propaganda, as Jewish groups sometimes put it. Moreover while some people <em>are </em>racists, in an existential sense, today’s politicians are more usually involved in exploiting (or condoning) policies, propaganda and images which create hostility towards groups in society for their electoral purposes. The <a href="http://natcen.ac.uk/our-research/research/racial-prejudice-in-britain-today/">British Social Attitudes</a> survey shows a stubborn persistence of racial prejudice in about a quarter of the population, a sizeable reservoir of support for any campaign which is tempted. The Tories, advised by Lynton Crosby, had already dabbled with dog-whistle politics in their ill-fated London Mayoral campaign earlier in 2016.</p> <p class="BodyA">Vote Leave’s leaders were doubtless not personally hostile to Turks or Albanians, let alone Europeans as a whole. Nor will they have wished to cause hate crimes, which in any case would have rebounded on their campaign (as they feared had happened when Jo Cox was murdered). Their promise that EU citizens’ rights would be unilaterally guaranteed might even have been honestly intended, although in that case one would have expected more protests when Theresa May unceremoniously ditched it (neither Johnson and other Leave cabinet ministers in her government, nor Vote Leave’s co-convenors, Gove and the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, stood up for their campaign’s commitment when the matter was voted on in Parliament).</p> <p class="BodyA">The decision to attack mostly hypothetical migrants rather than existing residents from EU states (except in material like the Romanian/Latvian criminals ad) showed what Vote Leave was trying to achieve. It fed the trope of excessive numbers without directly targeting people in UK society, which respectable Leave voters might have been uncomfortable with; it also minimised the danger of a powerful backlash from EU citizens and Remain. It was a neat way of conjuring an imaginary threat of a massive new wave of immigration which would play into fears which had been fanned over the years by the tabloids, Migration Watch, the Tory right and UKIP.</p> <p class="BodyA">However this was not just about numbers. The image of the tearful old woman, which could be picked up even with the sound off, was more powerful than any figures. The focus on Turkey and the Balkan countries played into racist stereotypes: the otherness of people from distant, poor (and in Turkey’s case) Muslim-majority countries hardly needed labouring. It implied hostility towards Turks and Albanians in the UK, who had already experienced racism. It also implied hostility towards more than three million EU citizens by creating a threat to their residence rights and exposing them to the ‘hostile environment’ which May had created for migrant.</p> <p class="BodyA">When Brexit led, predictably, to a large spike in racist abuse and violence against Europeans and ethnic minorities, the leaders of Vote Leave as well as Leave.EU must have had a pretty good idea of where it came from. Yet as they survey the mess Brexit is making of our country, it seems the lesson they are learning is: more of the same. Johnson’s doubling down showed that his offensive comments on burqas were no casual mistake, and the abuse faced by ordinary Muslim women was priced into the tactic. We must fear that there is more to come.</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/martin-shaw/brexit-is-r-for-racism">BREXIT: the R is for Racism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Martin Shaw Thu, 30 Aug 2018 10:39:01 +0000 Martin Shaw 119484 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker remained in charge of secretive Tory ultra faction https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/ex-brexit-minister-steve-baker-remained-in- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Under the ministerial code, Baker was supposed to cut his ties with the European Research Group when he joined the government in 2017. But newly released emails show that as Brexit minister, he offered them private briefings on critical government policy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 19.02.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 19.02.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Steve Baker MP, fair use</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Control and influence over a hard-line Brexiteer group of Conservative MPs remained in the hands of Steve Baker throughout his time as a Brexit minister, according to new documents obtained by openDemocracy. Jacob Rees-Mogg was merely the public face of the secretive group.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker led the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">taxpayer-funded</a> European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit MPs until being appointed a minister in 2017. But while in office he offered to address the ERG privately on government policy. These briefings were not recorded in transparency data from Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/672633/2018-01-08_MINISTERIAL_CODE_JANUARY_2018__FINAL___3_.pdf">Official rules</a> bar ministers from “being associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy.” Although the ERG has often clashed with the government over Brexit, Baker continued to “act as though he was just the lightly-detached chief executive of the ERG”, according to a senior Conservative source with knowledge of the group’s activities. </p><p dir="ltr">Baker resigned his ministerial post last month at the same time as his boss at DExEU, David Davis, complaining he had been “blind-sided” by Theresa May’s ‘Chequers’ plan. </p><p dir="ltr">Since that resignation, Baker has re-emerged as a leading voice in the powerful ERG lobby, which some <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/16/theresa-may-narrowly-avoids-defeat-after-caving-in-to-rees-mogg">believe</a> controls the short-term future of May’s premiership. The ERG is set to unveil an alternative blueprint for a hard Brexit ahead of September’s Conservative party conference. The paper has been jointly written by Baker and Rees-Mogg.</p><p dir="ltr">In July 2017, just weeks after Baker became a minister, officials acting for him were in direct contact with the ERG. The correspondence included arrangements for Baker to give private briefings to the group about the so-called Great Repeal Bill.</p><p dir="ltr">One redacted email, sent from a DExEU mailbox, states that “Steve (Baker) would like to brief interested ERG members on the Repeal Bill, at a convenient time next week”. </p><p dir="ltr">The ERG does not publish lists of its members—thought to include more than 80 MPs—but another email notes that there is a “larger group” and “a smaller more senior one" within the ERG. Baker is invited to choose which group to address. A subsequent email, with an ERG email signature, remarks, “Steve Baker has kindly offered to brief the group on the contents of the Great Repeal Bill.” </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 20.09.09.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 20.09.09.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="335" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The Repeal Bill, formally known as the EU Withdrawal Bill, is a critical piece of legislation which has the primary aim of ensuring EU law will no longer be applied in the UK after exit from the European Union. It aims to also end the power of the European Court of Justice.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker publicly left the ERG when he was promoted into May’s administration following the 2017 general election. But Baker’s severing of formal ties with the ERG appears to have been merely an administrative gesture. </p><p dir="ltr">One Whitehall official with DExEU connections told openDemocracy: “Those close to Mr Baker regarded him as never really leaving the ERG. He clearly saw the group as a necessary powerbase and these emails show how keen he was [to] remain a general rather than the observer he should have been.”</p><p dir="ltr">Previously openDemocracy and others have revealed that Baker held other meetings with the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">ERG</a> and lobbyists that were not recorded in transparency logs.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Baker “untouchable”</h2><p dir="ltr">Baker’s use of DExEU civil servants to contact a secretive group that some regard as a ‘party within a party’ could merit investigation by the Cabinet Office. But pro-EU Tory backbenchers believe such complaints are currently pointless. One told openDemocracy: “Baker in many respects is untouchable. His lead role in the ERG, and the damage he could inflict, gives him political armour.”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite taking taxpayers’ money to fund their operations, the ERG has repeatedly refused to make public the names of its members. In the correspondence released to openDemocracy, DExEU has redacted all the email addresses of those expected to attend Baker’s briefing, citing data protection rules. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 20.14.26.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 20.14.26.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="216" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Since his resignation last month, Baker has quickly slotted back into a leadership role among ERG MPs. He has publicly <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveBakerHW/status/1034054316938747904?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet">dismissed fears</a> over a ‘no deal’ Brexit. </p><p dir="ltr">The ERG’s <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservatives-brexit-theresa-may-chequers-deal-tory-party-erg-a8491256.html">hard-Brexit policy paper</a> by Baker and Rees-Mogg is expected to attack May’s Chequers plan and question the merits of any ties with the EU. Rumours of its content have suggested it will describe May’s plan as continuing to honour rules handed down by Brussels.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Marshalling his troops</h2><p dir="ltr">In a speech to the Commons in July, Baker threatened to scupper any “high-alignment” deal with the EU when it came to the Commons. He offered a barely-coded warning that there were 40-plus hard-Brexiteers—seen as a reference to the ERG—who would vote with the SNP and Labour to kill off the Chequers plan.</p><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/james-cusick-jenna-corderoy-peter-geoghegan/uk-government-minister-hides-leading-role-with-hard-brex">previously revealed</a> that Baker was a regular attender at ERG meetings in the House of Commons during his time as a minister. Despite criticism from Labour MP Ben Bradshaw that his failure to publicly list such appearances contravened ministerial rules, Baker claimed his attendance at ERG gatherings was only on a personal, rather than a ministerial, basis.</p><p dir="ltr">A Cabinet Office examination accepted Baker’s reassurance that his attendance at ERG meetings which discussed Brexit policy could be put down to a “personal” interest as a constituency MP rather than ministerial interest. </p><p dir="ltr">Baker took over as chair of the ERG in 2016 and is credited with a relaunch that turned it from a largely ignored backwater of euro-scepticism into an effective 80-strong gathering of MPs aiming to end the “<a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/tory-euroskeptic-brexit-rebellion-cameron-eu/">EU’s despotism</a>”. He is on record stating that the entire EU needs to be “wholly torn down” and that it was a barrier to international “free trade and peace”.</p><p dir="ltr">When Baker was promoted into the government after the June 2017 general election, the chair of the ERG passed to Suella Braverman. Her promotion into DExEU alongside Baker later that year saw the chair pass to Rees-Mogg.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/braverman.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/braverman.jpg" alt="" title="" width="300" height="168" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Suella Braverman. Image, Channel 4 News, fair use.</span></span></span></p><h2 dir="ltr">Lack of transparency</h2><p dir="ltr">Baker has been criticised previously for failing to respect ministerial rules in office. Earlier this year, <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexspence/steve-baker-brexit-meetings-shanker-singham?utm_term=.jnY9EV5z9#.xdBk6EXDk">Buzzfeed</a> reported that Baker had a series of undisclosed meetings with Shanker Singham, formerly of the Legatum Institute and now at the Institute of Economic Affairs.</p><p dir="ltr">More recently, Baker was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/30/brexit-influencing-game-iea-us-rancher-tucker-link">in the spotlight</a> after it emerged that Singham had introduced the Brexit minister to controversial US agribusinesses to discuss opportunities that might arise from a deregulated post-Brexit UK.</p><p dir="ltr">The IEA denied that the meetings with Baker, along with others arranged with the then foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the then Brexit secretary, David Davis, and the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, were part of an elaborate ‘cash for access’ programme.</p><p dir="ltr">An aide working for Baker told Greenpeace—which had been investigating the IEA’s US donor connections—that any suggestion the then Brexit minister attended meetings because “access” to him had been sold “is entirely false”.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month, Baker was again in the news when it emerged that he had invested £70,000 in a company that is encouraging investors to buy gold to <a href="http://uk.businessinsider.com/steve-baker-glint-pay-buy-gold-to-avoid-impact-of-brexit-no-deal-sterling-2018-8">avoid the hit of a no-deal Brexit</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">The allegations in this piece were put to Steve Baker’s office. He has yet to respond.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Correction, 31 August 2018: When this article was first published, it mistook the status of Steve Baker's ministerial position. This has now been corrected.</em></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/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/new-brexit-minister-arms-industry-american-hard-right-and-e">The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/six-of-theresa-may-s-cabinet-are-paid-up-members-of-secret-group-demanding">Six of Theresa May’s cabinet are paid up “members” of secret group demanding a total break from the European Union </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy James Cusick Wed, 29 Aug 2018 05:00:00 +0000 James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghegan 119465 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Labour must reject biased IHRA definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/palestinian-civil-society-groups/labour-must-reject-biased-ihra-definition-that-stifles-advocacy- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Appeal by Palestinian civil society to the British Labour Party and affiliated trade unions.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/palestinian checkpoint.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/palestinian checkpoint.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Checkpoint in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAP/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p> <p>We welcome the significant growth in recent years of progressive politics centred on social justice and internationalism in the UK, especially within the labour movement. We, Palestinian trade unions, mass organisations and networks, representing the majority in Palestinian civil society, call on the British Labour party, trade unions, city councils, universities and civil society at large to reject the&nbsp;<span><a href="https://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/ihra-opinion/#sthash.R9amK5fX.dpbs" target="_blank">IHRA’s false, anti-Palestinian definition</a></span>&nbsp;of antisemitism.</p> <p>This non-legally binding definition attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and&nbsp;<span><a href="https://www.unescwa.org/news/escwa-launches-report-israeli-practices-towards-palestinian-people-and-question-apartheid" target="_blank">apartheid</a></span>&nbsp;from effective measures of accountability in accordance to international law.</p> <p>The<a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n09/stephen-sedley/defining-anti-semitism" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n09/stephen-sedley/defining-anti-semitism" target="_blank">discredited</a></span>&nbsp;IHRA guidelines deliberately<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/15/we-must-define-antisemitism-to-fight-it-effectively" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/15/we-must-define-antisemitism-to-fight-it-effectively" target="_blank">conflate</a></span>&nbsp;hostility to or prejudice or discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.</p> <p>Palestinians last year marked 100 years of the Balfour Declaration, which played a significant role in supporting and entrenching the Zionist colonisation of Palestine. This typically colonial British declaration constituted a<a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2017/09/world-absolute-khalidi/" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2017/09/world-absolute-khalidi/" target="_blank">declaration of war</a></span>&nbsp;against our people. It facilitated the birth of the exclusionary state of Israel that maintains a&nbsp;<span><a href="https://www.newsweek.com/israel-passes-nation-state-law-amid-accusations-racism-and-apartheid-1032630" target="_blank">regime of apartheid</a></span>&nbsp;and systematically oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people, stripping us of our fundamental and UN-recognised rights, including the rights to equality and self- determination and our refugees’ right to return to their homes of origin.</p> <p>We concur with British Palestinian personalities who have<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/31/palestinians-in-the-uk-speak-out-for-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/31/palestinians-in-the-uk-speak-out-for-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech" target="_blank">asserted</a>&nbsp;</span>that:</p> <p>“[A]ny use by public bodies of the IHRA examples on antisemitism that either inhibits discussion relating to our dispossession by ethnic cleansing, when Israel was established, or<a href="https://www.matthewofford.co.uk/news/matthew-joins-protest-outside-parliament-condemn-israel-apartheid-week" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.matthewofford.co.uk/news/matthew-joins-protest-outside-parliament-condemn-israel-apartheid-week" target="_blank">attempts to silence public discussions</a></span>&nbsp;on current or past practices of [Israeli] settler colonialism, apartheid, racism and discrimination, and the ongoing violent military occupation, directly contravenes core rights. First, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who remain protected by international laws and conventions; and second, the rights of all those British citizens who stand by our side, in the solidarity of a common humanity.”</p> <p>We recognise the severe pressure being placed on public bodies in the UK, and globally, to adopt this politicised and fraudulent definition of antisemitism. We would assert that those in the UK have a particular moral, political and arguably legal obligation to atone for historic and current British crimes against the Palestinian people and complicity in maintaining Israel’s regime of oppression. We appeal to them to:</p> <p>1. <strong>Consistently uphold the UK Human Rights Act, the UN&nbsp;</strong><strong><span><a href="https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/srhrdefenders/pages/declaration.aspx" target="_blank">Declaration on Human Rights Defenders</a></span></strong><strong>&nbsp;and the right to freedom of expression</strong>, including in narrating Palestine's well-documented colonial history, advocating for Palestinian rights, describing Israel's regime of oppression as racist or as constituting apartheid, and calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as nonviolent measures of accountability to bring about its compliance with its obligations under international law and its respect for Palestinian rights.</p> <p>2. <strong>Unequivocally uphold the UN-stipulated rights of the people of Palestine</strong>, particularly:</p> <p>The right to live free of military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;</p> <p>The right to full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who currently suffer under a system of legalised and institutionalised racial discrimination;</p> <p>The inherent and legally upheld right of Palestine refugees to return to their homes of origin from which they have been ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and ever since.</p> <p>3. <strong>Officially endorse a military embargo on Israel</strong>, as called for by<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/impose-immediate-comprehensive-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/impose-immediate-comprehensive-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">Palestinian civil society</a></span>,<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/socialist-international-140-global-political-parties-adopts-bds-calls-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/socialist-international-140-global-political-parties-adopts-bds-calls-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">Socialist International</a></span>, UK political parties (including<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/07/clegg-liberal-democrats-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/07/clegg-liberal-democrats-israel" target="_blank">Liberal Democrats</a></span>,<a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2018/05/after-gaza-shootings-uk-should-stop-selling-arms-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2018/05/after-gaza-shootings-uk-should-stop-selling-arms-israel" target="_blank">Greens</a></span>, and<a href="https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gaza-strip-snp-calls-arms-embargo-israel-1459885" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gaza-strip-snp-calls-arms-embargo-israel-1459885" target="_blank">Scottish National Party</a></span>), the UK Trades Union Congress (<span><a href="https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/general-council-statement-gaza-congress-2014" target="_blank">TUC</a></span>), many<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-charting-new-course-stalemate-gaza-130415-en.pdf" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-charting-new-course-stalemate-gaza-130415-en.pdf" target="_blank">development NGOs</a></span>(including Oxfam and Christian Aid), dozens of British<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1305" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1305" target="_blank">MPs</a></span>,<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/bologna-becomes-latest-italian-city-call-arms-embargo-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span>cities across</span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/city-barcelona-endorses-call-comprehensive-military-embargo-israeli-apartheid" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/city-barcelona-endorses-call-comprehensive-military-embargo-israeli-apartheid" target="_blank">Europe</a></span>,<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/04/israel-arms-embargo-needed-as-military-unlawfully-kills-and-maims-gaza-protesters/" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/04/israel-arms-embargo-needed-as-military-unlawfully-kills-and-maims-gaza-protesters/" target="_blank">Amnesty International</a></span>, global<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/now-time-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/now-time-military-embargo-israel" target="_blank">figures</a></span>, among others. In 2017 alone, the UK arms exports to Israel reached<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/27/british-arms-exports-israel-new-record" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/27/british-arms-exports-israel-new-record" target="_blank">$284m</a></span>, setting a record.</p> <p>4. <strong>Unambiguously condemn all forms of racism and bigotry, including Israel’s</strong><strong><a href="https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771" target="_blank">more than 60 racist laws</a></span></strong><strong>,</strong>&nbsp;especially its latest constitutional law, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, that effectively<a href="https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9569" target="_blank">“</a><span><a href="https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9569" target="_blank">enshrines Jewish supremacy</a></span>” and<a href="http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=RzDqNya98472172392aRzDqNy" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=RzDqNya98472172392aRzDqNy" target="_blank">apartheid</a></span>, as defined by the UN.</p> <p>Adopting the IHRA definition (with its examples) would not only demonise our present struggle for liberation and self-determination. It would also “silence a public discussion [in the UK] of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948”, as over 100 Black, Asian and other minority ethnicities (BAME) groups in the UK have&nbsp;<span><a href="https://ourhistory-ourplace.co.uk/" target="_blank">cautioned</a></span>. It would also chill advocacy for Palestinian rights, including by vilifying and maligning our nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.</p> <p>Anchored in our own decades-long heritage of popular resistance and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the US Civil Rights movement, the<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/bds-nominated-nobel-peace-prize" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/bds-nominated-nobel-peace-prize" target="_blank">Nobel Peace Prize-nominated</a></span>&nbsp;BDS movement is supported by an<a href="http://bdsmovement.net/call" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="http://bdsmovement.net/call" target="_blank">overwhelming majority</a></span>&nbsp;of Palestinian civil society. It is also endorsed by progressive movements representing millions worldwide, including a fast-rising number of Jewish millennials.&nbsp;</p> <p>BDS<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/%E2%80%9Cracism-and-racial-discrimination-are-antithesis-freedom-justice-equality%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/%E2%80%9Cracism-and-racial-discrimination-are-antithesis-freedom-justice-equality%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">is rooted</a>&nbsp;in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and<span> adheres</span>&nbsp;to the<a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx" target="_blank">UN definition of racial discrimination</a></span>. It therefore “does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia”.</p> <p>Redefining racism against a particular community to serve the political goal of precluding or vilifying the struggle against other forms of racism is immoral and outright racist. It should be condemned by all morally-consistent progressives.</p> <p>Israel’s utter failure to suppress the impressive growth of BDS across the world in the last few years has prompted it to redefine antisemitism to desperately malign our strictly<a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/%E2%80%9Cracism-and-racial-discrimination-are-antithesis-freedom-justice-equality%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://bdsmovement.net/news/%E2%80%9Cracism-and-racial-discrimination-are-antithesis-freedom-justice-equality%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">anti-racist</a></span>&nbsp;movement.</p> <p>As leading<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/15/we-must-define-antisemitism-to-fight-it-effectively" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jun/15/we-must-define-antisemitism-to-fight-it-effectively" target="_blank">Jewish British intellectuals and legal experts</a></span>&nbsp;have stated:</p> <p>“Criticising laws and policies of the state of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not antisemitic. Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to oppose those policies is not antisemitic.”</p> <p>We agree with the analysis of more than<a href="https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/first-ever-40-jewish-groups-worldwide-oppose-equating-antisemitism-with-criticism-of-israel/" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><span><a href="https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/first-ever-40-jewish-groups-worldwide-oppose-equating-antisemitism-with-criticism-of-israel/" target="_blank">forty Jewish social justice organisations</a></span>&nbsp;worldwide that we live in “a frightening era, with growing numbers of authoritarian and xenophobic regimes worldwide, foremost among them the Trump administration, allying themselves with Israel’s far right government while making common cause with deeply antisemitic and racist white supremacist groups and parties”.</p> <p>We also echo their appeal:</p> <p>“We urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition and instead take effective measures to defeat white supremacist nationalist hate and violence and to end complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.”</p> <p>We need no one’s permission to accurately narrate our history, defend our inherent and inalienable rights, or mobilise principled international solidarity with our struggle to achieve them.</p> <p>But we expect social-justice oriented political parties, like Labour, and progressive trade unions to effectively contribute to ending British complicity in Israel’s system of oppression that denies us our rights, to protect the right to freedom of expression, and to stand on the right side of history. We expect them to help us in the struggle against apartheid and for equal rights of all humans irrespective of identity. Is this too much to expect?</p> <p><strong>Signatories:</strong></p> <ol><li>General Union of Palestinian Workers</li><li>Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition</li><li>Palestinian Union of Postal, IT and Telecommunication workers</li><li>Union of Professional Associations</li><li>Federation of Independent Trade Unions</li><li>Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate</li><li>Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions</li><li>General Union of Palestinian Teachers</li><li>General Union of Palestinian Women</li><li>General Union of Palestinian Peasants</li><li>Union of Palestinian Farmers</li><li>General Union of Palestinian Writers</li><li>The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)</li><li>Palestinian Camps Boycott Movement-Lebanon (33 organisations from 11 refugee camps)</li><li>Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)</li><li>Palestinian National Institute for NGOs</li><li>Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)</li><li>Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)</li><li>Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)</li><li>Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations</li><li>Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products</li><li>Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem</li><li>Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative</li><li>Agricultural Cooperatives Union</li></ol><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="/north-africa-west-asia/matthew-vickery/palestinian-labourers-on-israeli-settlements-are-not-just-occupied-theyre-exploited">For Palestinian labourers, settlement work is a nuanced form of forced labour</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/moran-mandelbaum/do-we-need-legal-definition-of-anti-semitism">Do we need a (legal) definition of anti-Semitism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/shaun-lawson/enough-of-these-disgraceful-slurs-against-jeremy-corbyn">Enough of these disgraceful slurs against Jeremy Corbyn</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/william-bell/100-years-later-getting-beyond-balfour">100 years later: getting beyond Balfour</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Palestinian civil society groups Tue, 28 Aug 2018 10:46:12 +0000 Palestinian civil society groups 119456 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit disaster narrative: whose interest does it serve? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/john-weeks/brexit-disaster-narrative-whose-interest-does-it-serve <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Underestimating one’s opponent and denying the possibility of the worst is not a sound political strategy.</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-37932088.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37932088.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 and Britain's Prince William in Amiens to mark the 100th anniversary of the World War I battle on August 8, 2018. Liewig Christian/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Distinguishing between what one hopes will happen and what is likely to happen is central to the ability to cope with uncertain times. One obvious coping strategy is encapsulated in the phrase, “hope for the best, plan for the worst” – a useful cliché in providing insight into likely events as the Article 50 deadline approaches.</p> <p><strong>Worst outcome for hard line Brexiters?</strong></p> <p>For the hard line Brexiters, “no-deal” at the deadline qualifies as the best outcome, and Britain retaining EU membership the worst. To achieve the hoped for best, their strategy has two steps. First, should the May government reach a mutually satisfactory agreement with EU negotiators, the Tory Brexit faction would seek to defeat it in Parliament. If the May government wins parliamentary approval, that leaves Brexiteers with the least-worst result, Britain out of the EU but still subject to some EU rules. The details of the agreement will determine which rules continue to apply.&nbsp; Should Brexiteers win the Parliamentary vote, their strategy would be to prevent a second referendum. If they cannot prevent the second referendum, they will seek a wording that serves their Brexit goal.</p> <p>In summary, May must call a vote on the agreement which creates the opportunity for the hard line Brexiters; they attempt to reject the agreement and force a leadership change. If the government wins the vote, Brexiters have a viable backup strategy; undermine May’s leadership until a challenge seems winnable.</p> <p><strong>Worst outcome for Labour party progressives?</strong></p> <p>For Labour Party progressives in and out of Parliament, the collapse of the May government followed by a general election that Labour wins jumps out as by far the best outcome. The worst outcome is equally clear – the May government achieves an agreement with EU negotiators that it sells to the public as acceptable. Relieved that Britain has not “crashed out”, voters return a Conservative majority in a snap election.&nbsp; </p> <p>Initially the strategy to avoid the worst coincides with the Brexiter parliamentary opposition to an EU agreement reached by the May government. If prior to the Parliament vote, the Labour leadership were to endorse continued EU membership the probability of success would be lower. A motion of no confidence with the explicit promise of Brexit reversal could increase the number of Labour MPs voting with the Tory government (<a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/brexit/labour-mps-brexit-customs-union-rebels/">four did so in July</a> and saved May from a possibly disastrous defeat). Defeating the government strong majority is all the more necessary because of the <a href="https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06111">fixed terms Parliaments act</a>.</p> <p>A change of the Labour leadership’s position on EU membership would come after not before the vote on the agreement reached by the May government. A pro-EU strategy might win a general election but it would make less likely bringing down the May government.</p> <p><strong>What about “Remainers”?</strong></p> <p>The Brexiters and the Labour leadership have clear strategies, and Theresa M\ay cannot avoid providing them the opportunity to embark upon it. Considerably less clear is an effective strategy for those politicians whose first priority is to maintain EU membership, “Remainers”. Unlike the situation for Brexiters and the Labour leadership, the May government will not provide the opportunity for a second “in or out” vote before parliament votes on the agreement.</p> <p>Inspection of the pro-EU Guardian and other sources suggests that the Remainers anticipate three contingent routes to reversing Brexit. The most frequently suggested is that the government loses the Parliamentary vote on the agreement, and a majority of MPs decide that the only way to escape from a “no-deal crash-out” is a second referendum. Second, failure of the May government to secure an agreement results in the same outcome as the first. Third, either parliamentary defeat or no agreement results in a collapse of the May government and its replacement by a pro-EU government.</p> <p>Recently British negotiator Dominic Raab and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/aug/24/october-no-longer-deadline-for-brexit-deal-david-lidington-finalising-agreement">separately indicated</a> that bargaining is likely to continue into November.&nbsp; The previous consensus timeline foresaw agreement would be reached no later than the first week of October, then considered for approval by the European Council at their 18 October meeting, and if approved, a Parliament vote shortly thereafter. That time line left a very tight schedule for a second referendum process – legislation through Parliament, the referendum campaign, and the voting on it – all in time for consideration at <a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/calendar/?dateTo=2018%2F12%2F31&amp;filters=2031">the 21-22 March meeting</a> of the European Council.</p> <p>A November deadline for negotiations probably rules out a second referendum. After October 18, the European Council does not meet again until December 13 - 14. An earlier, emergency meeting would still imply that Parliament would vote no sooner than late November. The necessary sequence of events for a second referendum – defeat of the government’s agreement, emergence of a pro-referendum majority, legislation passed, the campaign, the vote, European Council meets to consider the outcome – seems an improbable squeeze into the remaining time, not least because of the few working <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-commons-faqs/business-faq-page/recess-dates/">parliamentary working days</a> during December-February.&nbsp; </p> <p>The third route, a new pro-EU government formed after Parliament defeats the agreement, encounters the obstacle that many if not most Remain MPs do not want and would not support a Corbyn-led government. Yet, only a Corbyn government would allow planning to avoid the worst outcome, a no-deal crash-out. Despite considerable talk of a pro-EU third party, no one could believe that such a party could form a government before the Brexit deadline, or that a pro-EU coalition could do so.</p> <p><strong>“Hope for the worst, plan for the best”?</strong></p> <p>What can Remainers do when they cannot hope for the best and draw back from planning for the worst? Following the pro-EU media, most obviously the <em>Guardian</em> newspaper, and the commentary by leading Remainers, their strategy seems to be “hope for the worst” and “plan for the best”.&nbsp; The first involves convincing the British population that the consequences of Brexit <strong><em>is</em></strong> (not “will be” or “might be”) unambiguously disastrous and is happening – breakdown of health care due to lack of medical staff and medicines; collapse of food supplies because of interrupted supply chains; devastation of the export sector; and chaos at the ports and on the roads (for a fuller exposition of Brexit catastrophes see recent <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/23/dominic-raab-no-deal-brexit-technical-notices">article by Polly Toynbee</a>).</p> <p>The apparent purpose of an “unfolding disaster” scenario is to shock people into supporting a second referendum that would reverse Brexit. With the likelihood of a second Referendum on the wane, the disaster scenarios of Remainers could well serve the interests of the May government. Should a Brexit deal be agreed with the European Council, Theresa May could present it and present herself as salvation, having snatched Britain from the jaws of disaster. The Brexit disaster scenario lays the groundwork for a May-the-Saviour narrative.</p> <p>This unintended consequence of the disaster propaganda appears to go unnoticed by prominent Remainers, perhaps because they deny the possibility of a deal. A <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/aug/25/what-to-expect-from-politics-autumn-theresa-may-brexit">recent article in the Guardian</a> set the probability of a snap election at 15%, second referendum as 30%, and dismissed as nil the probability of a “good Brexit deal that keeps almost everyone content”. This attempt at sarcasm misses the serious political issue. The looming danger is that the prime minister obtains an agreement with the European Council that she could sell to the public as saving Britain from a plague of disasters, a least-worst and acceptable outcome.</p> <p><strong>Counter-strategy for progressives</strong></p> <p>Underestimating one’s opponent and denying the possibility of the worst is not a sound political strategy. The first step to stop Brexit is to recognize that the May government has a strategy and its probability of success might be low but it is not zero. The second step is to establish a counter-strategy that prevents the May government achieving an apparent Brexit success.&nbsp; </p> <p>The necessary but not sufficient condition to prevent May from selling herself and her government as the Brexit saviours of Britain is that her government falls. That is the primary task of progressives whatever their position on the Leave/Remain political spectrum.&nbsp; </p><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> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Democracy and government International politics Brexit2016 John Weeks Mon, 27 Aug 2018 08:52:00 +0000 John Weeks 119440 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rotherham: the silencing of Muslim voices https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/amrit-wilson/rotherham-silencing-of-muslim-voices <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Amrit Wilson challenges the dominant narratives about Rotherham and child sexual exploitation – and asks who is really responsible for the way the far right have been able to exploit the issue.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/rotherham.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/rotherham.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Police &amp; far right protestors in Rotherham a month after the publication of the Jay report. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p> <p>Rotherham is a town whose very name has become synonymous with the horrific cases of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) which have occurred there in recent years. The media narrative around these cases - appalling crimes committed by a tiny minority of the population - is so powerful that it has been extremely difficult to challenge or even question. However as Islamophobia escalates to an unprecedented level with <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boris-johnson-burqa-muslim-women-veil-attacks-islamophobia-letterboxes-rise-a8488651.html">Boris Johnson's comments</a> emboldening the far right and racists and poisonous tropes of Muslims as terrorists and sexual predators sweep the country, it becomes particularly important to do so. </p> <p>Once a thriving town built round coal mines and steel, Rotherham today is a bleak place. The coal mines are closed and the steel industry is in decline. Unemployment is high. However, as many people emphasise, until six or seven years ago, racial violence had never been an issue. The comparatively small Pakistani community had lived cheek by jowl with white people. As playwright Emteaz Hussain puts it, “we were a working class community struggling to make ends meet, everyone lived in close proximity, and we naturally found a way of getting on.” </p> <p>In 2011, The Times published a series of articles by Andrew Norfolk, which brought the first reports of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham. They led to the setting up of a House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in late 2012 and eventually an <a href="https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/downloads/file/1407/independent_inquiry_cse_in_rotherham">independent investigation</a> by Professor Alexis Jay, commissioned by Rotherham Council, into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and Rochdale. The <a href="https://www.rotherham.gov.uk/downloads/file/1407/independent_inquiry_cse_in_rotherham">report published in August 2014</a> concluded that between 1997 and 2013, at least 1400 children had been subjected to serious sexual exploitation, predominantly by men of Pakistani origin.</p> <p>Abrar Javid, a project manager with the NHS who lives in Rotherham, remembers those days: “When the Jay report came out in 2014 it hit us like a bombshell. The scale of the abuse as well as the way it was presented by the media, the racialisation of perpetrators as Pakistani men and victims as white girls….These horrific crimes had been committed by criminals but suddenly we were all being targeted – being told there was something intrinsically wrong with us and our culture – blamed almost as though we were harbouring these men… the community was in shock.”</p> <h2>Casting blame on a community</h2> <p>The Jay report noted that the South Yorkshire police had “regard[ed] many child victims with contempt and fail[ed] to act on their abuse as a crime”. As for the Council workers, when questioned as to why they had not acted even where a number of these children were in local authority care or known to the child protection agencies, several of them had ascribed their reluctance to their nervousness about being thought racist. </p> <p>Jay reported this at face value despite the fact that council staff routinely had to work with and enforce policies which many see as deeply racist – the <a href="https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/sites/default/files/HE%20web.pdf">hostile environment policy</a> for example.</p> <p>The Jay report was followed by two further reports. The first, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-of-inspection-of-rotherham-metropolitan-borough-council">led by Louise Casey, found Rotherham Council</a> “not fit for purpose and …failing in its duties to protect vulnerable children and young people from harm”. However, it unequivocally blamed the “Pakistani Heritage Community”, declaring in the <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401125/46966_Report_of_Inspection_of_Rotherham_WEB.pdf">second sentence of its foreword</a> that “Children were sexually exploited by men who came largely from the Pakistani Heritage Community. Not enough was done to acknowledge this…”. Casey’s report claimed also that this “suppression of these uncomfortable issues…has prevented discussion and effective action and... perversely, has allowed the far right to try and exploit the situation. However, in actual fact by far the biggest (in terms of police expenditure) far right demo took place a month <em>after</em> the Jay report and in response to the widespread publicity it generated, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/25/far-right-protests-draining-police-resources-figures-reveal">on 13th September 2014</a>. Between 2012 and 2017, protests by far right groups such as the EDL and Britain First, in South Yorkshire, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-39041084">have cost £4m</a>. </p> <p>The second and most recent report was an <a href="http://www.drewreview.uk/">independent review</a> into South Yorkshire police's handling of CSE in the summer of 2015 by Professor John Drew, commissioned by South Yorkshire Police and Police Commissioner. It revealed that in the period January 2014-2016, 67.5% of perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in Yorkshire were of White/European origin and 19.1% of Asian origin. These figures make one wonder whether in all the accusations which have been flying around, the girls (and boys) who have been abused are being betrayed once again, with that hefty 67.5% of perpetrators being simply ignored? Drew himself commented in the report, “'the view that child sexual exploitation was about red light areas, and was about gangs of men principally of Pakistani heritage, led not only the force but also probably the whole partnership to look for signs of exploitation in the wrong places. One superintendent, describing the exploitation challenge today in his area, characterised the local problem of revolving around ‘white European males, in their mid-40s, making extensive use of the internet for initial grooming…’”</p> <p>The Drew survey, however, was swept under the carpet. It was the Jay and Casey reports which have continued to make the headlines. </p> <h2>“The Jay report was the 9/11 of Rotherham”</h2> <p>As Abrar Javid puts it, “The Jay report was the 9/11 of Rotherham. After it came out there was a deafening silence from both the Council and the police. That silence was filled by the far right. They set the narrative. They came into Rotherham with the slogan ‘Justice for the 1400’”. </p> <p>This slogan was a demand projected through racist tropes of Muslim men raping and abusing ‘our’ girls, so the demand for justice became a demand for vengeance. </p> <p>In fact, many in the Pakistani community were also seeking justice for the girls. In August 2014, Muhbeen Hussain from the organisation British Muslim Youth led a rally demanding justice for the 1400 and calling for resignations and prosecutions. "<a href="https://news.sky.com/story/muslim-youth-we-want-justice-for-the-1400-10391473">We are not here to deny anything</a>” he said on that occasion. “The report clearly shows a large number of those individuals were Pakistani Muslim men. But we don't support the sentiment that it is a Pakistani or a Muslim problem. It is clear what these individuals did but they are not part of our community - the only community they are a part of is the criminal community... there is nowhere in the Islamic faith that supports these actions.”</p> <p>The marches by the EDL and Britain First continued. There were 14 in as many months. The police refused to stop any of the demonstrations from entering the town centre despite being urged to do so by Muslim organisations and spokespeople. No charges of violent disorder were brought against people on these marches despite attacks on the Mosques and Muslim businesses, as Muhbeen Hussain <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rotherham-12-pakistani-community-south-yorkshire-police-islamophobia-a8209991.html">sets out in this article for the Independent</a>. The presence of the far-right clearly resulted in the radicalising of white youth in Rotherham. The number of hate crimes escalated with Muslim women being specifically targeted. “Muslim women were spat at! Abused!” says Zlakha Ahmed of Apna Haq, an organisation which supports Black and Minority Ethnic women and girls facing violence. “Children were bullied at school. The police said they could do nothing. They said Muslim women should just stay at home - they refused to protect us!” </p> <h2>Moral panic, abuse and silencing</h2> <p>As for Asian girls, as Zlakha points out, “they had been mentioned in the reports as victims of grooming - and we know this to be the case from our own work in Apna Haq - but they have been totally ignored”. In fact, Islamophobia and the polarisation it has led to has inevitably silenced discussion of the systemic gender violence which exists in the Pakistani community as in all other communities. </p> <p>Islamophobic violence on the pretext of justice for white girls has been the order of the day and the far right has been so emboldened that even Nazir Afzal, the Chief Crown Prosecutor whose work led to the jailing of nine members of a Rochdale sex grooming gang in 2012, was subjected to a campaign of threats and intimidation with thousands of emails calling for him to be sacked and deported, <a href="https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/nazir-afzal-rochdale-grooming-prosecutor-13047326">an EDL demonstration outside his home and Nick Griffin door-stepping him outside his office</a> . Afzal finally had to ask for police protection. </p> <p>The backdrop to far right activity, as Shakoor Adalat from the Rotherham Muslim Community Forum says, was the moral panic which gripped institutions affecting not only the police but social services, profoundly affecting the whole Pakistani community. For many this was reminiscent of the 1980s when, as Liz Fekete (Director of the Institute of Race Relations) writes, <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/grooming-an-open-letter-to-nick-lowles/">“the media and the fascists were creating the spectre of the ‘black mugger’</a>” and the Metropolitan police added to the moral panic by isolating "assault or threat of violence upon a person, especially with intent to rob" from all other forms of street crime and then providing the ethnicity of the perpetrators. Today, as Fekete notes, the Ministry of Justice figures on convictions of sex offences as a whole (8 per cent of which were committed by Asians) have been broken down to isolate and emphasise the specific offence of ‘on-street grooming’ of which they made up a far higher percentage of perpetrators.</p> <h2>The murder of Muhsin Ahmed</h2> <p>Despite the insidious Islamophobia of so many of Rotherham's institutions and the violent attacks, bomb threats and demonstrations of the far right, there was no major Muslim protest till the summer of 2015. Then, on 10 August that year, Muhsin Ahmed, an 81 year old man on his way to the Mosque for morning prayers, was <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-35688543">brutally attacked</a>. He died eleven days later – three years ago this week. </p> <p>Within days of Ahmed’s death Britain First were allowed to hold another demonstration in Rotherham. “At that point”, says Abrar Javid, “we felt that if we didn’t come out it would break the backbone of the community. Muhbeen Hussain got in touch with the police and told them we were coming out in solidarity. The police told him they would show ‘zero tolerance – take what you want from that’. We did come out - the Rotherham Council of Mosques came out in peace in a joint demonstration by the Pakistani and Yemeni communities and white anti-fascists.” </p> <p>The fascists were allowed to go right through the town centre. Then, “when the police channelled the anti-fascist march down a road that had a pub on it frequented by&nbsp;far-right protesters, a clash between the two groups occurred after racist abuse was hurled”, <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rotherham-12-pakistani-community-south-yorkshire-police-islamophobia-a8209991.html">Muhbeen Hussain wrote in the Independent</a>. There was fury about how the police handled the situation. “The police were very heavy handed with the Muslim youth”, says Javid, “kettling them… It was as though the police were out to penalise the Muslim community - that is how it felt.’ </p> <p>Twelve Asian men, including Abrar Javid, were arrested and charged with violent disorder. The Rotherham 12, as they came to be known (in an echo of the historic <a href="https://www.ourmigrationstory.org.uk/oms/resisting-racism-the-bradford-12-defence-campaign">Bradford 12</a> who had fought for the right to self defences back in 1981), were (like the Bradford 12) all eventually acquitted by an all white jury in a massive indictment of the South Yorkshire police. As <a href="https://theconversation.com/from-orgreave-to-rotherham-the-trials-and-tribulations-of-south-yorkshire-police-69690">one of the defendants put it later</a>, “there are similarities with what the police did to the Orgreave miners, and how they herded them to a particular spot … I had a bin thrown at me, punches thrown at me and I had literally done nothing. Now you imagine five weeks later, at six or seven in the morning, police officers, ten of them, coming to your house. Your children are scared, you’re scared, you’re treated as some common criminal.”</p> <p>Seven of the far-right marchers were arrested and five were eventually given custodial sentences for racially aggravated violent disorder. Perhaps it was this, says Shakoor Adalat, that led to a rapid decrease in far-right marches since then. </p> <p>Things started to quieten down. As Emteaz Hussein puts it, “the kids were playing with each other but we were not left in peace. There is always external interference.” </p> <p>Then, in August 2017, an attack came from Sarah Champion, Rotherham’s own MP. It was all the more shocking because, unlike the right-wing Labour Council, Champion had won the trust of the Pakistani community. Champion chose to write <a href="///C:/Users/Users/Ananya/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/For%20too%20long%20we%20have%20ignored%20the%20race%20of%20these%20abusers%20and,%20worse,%20tried%20to%20cover%20it%20up">an article</a> in the Sun newspaper on 10 August 2017, on the anniversary of the attack on Muhsin Ahmed. Entitled <em>British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it,</em> the piece “called out” Pakistani men for sexually grooming and raping “white pubescent girls”. </p> <p>So what brought Champion’s change of heart? In Champion's own words, it was because “For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers ... These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage”. One may well wonder why, given her concern for women's rights, did she choose to write in a paper well-known for its misogyny? Or, as Shakoor Adalat asks, “Was she worried about those so-called ‘disenfranchised labour voters’? Or was it just pressure from the local right-wing Labour party?”</p> <p><span>The hurt and betrayal felt by many in the Pakistani community was so great that they approached JUST Yorkshire, a secular human rights and equality organisation, to collate people's feelings so they could let their MP know the impact of her article. JUST Yorkshire published its survey, entitled Temperature Check - understanding and assessing the impact of Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion’s comments in the Sun Newspaper on 10 August 2017, in March 2018, and duly sent a copy under embargo to Champion. The report asked for an apology from her and for a “grass-roots led inquiry... a Citizen’s Jury that will critically analyse the impact of the CSE scandal on Race Relations and the civil liberties of people in Rotherham from 2012-17 and in this context the role and functions of the State”.&nbsp;</span><span>JUST Yorkshire received no response from Champion. Instead there were more attacks from the media and those involved with JUST Yorkshire have had vicious threats - including death threats - from the far right with their names and photographs posted in far right videos.<br /> </span><span></span></p><p><span>The title of a Daily Mail <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6003317/Yasmin-Alibhai-Brown-calls-support-Rotherham-MP-Sarah-Champion-Pakistani-grooming-gangs.html">article</a> by Yasmin Alibhai Brown on 29 July this year symbolises the attempts to shut down the debate: “If you call Rotherham MP Sarah Champion racist after she spoke out against British-Pakistani grooming gangs then you are complicit in the attack on young girls”. This underlines the silencing of the community, both male and female, and particularly of Muslim voices, on this issue. </span></p> <p>As Shakoor Adalat says: “We are being asked to forget that children are being sexually abused in a wide range of institutions - Churches, public schools , the BBC, the Football Association. One in four people across the country have been abused as children - so CSE is far bigger than Rotherham, it is endemic... The girls in Rotherham were poor and vulnerable children. The state is reluctant to provide resources to help them. Islamophobia is just a smokescreen to hide the lack of investment which would change their situation.”</p><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 Amrit Wilson Thu, 23 Aug 2018 13:53:04 +0000 Amrit Wilson 119415 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The trade deal which fines governments for acting on climate change https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/pia-eberhardt-cecilia-olivet/meet-trade-deal-which-bans-governments-from-acting-on-clim <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An obscure agreement – the Energy Charter Treaty – allows energy firms to sue countries who take action to stop climate breakdown.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/fire.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/fire.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image, Cari Green, US Forest Service, CC 2.0.</span></span></span>Twenty years ago, and without any public debate, an arcane international agreement entered into force. <a href="http://www.energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org/">The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)</a> gives sweeping powers to foreign investors in the energy sector, including the peculiar privilege to directly sue states in secret international tribunals arbitrated over by three private lawyers. Companies are claiming dizzying sums in compensation for government actions that have allegedly damaged their investments, either directly through expropriation or indirectly through regulations of virtually any kind. </p><p class="Standard">Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, for example, sued Germany for €1.4 billion in compensation over environmental restrictions imposed on a coal-fired power plant. The lawsuit was settled after the government agreed to relax the restrictions protecting the local river and its wildlife. Since 2012, Vattenfall has been suing Germany again, seeking €4.3 billion plus interest for lost profits from two nuclear reactors, following the country’s phase-out of atomic energy after the Fukushima disaster. Several utility companies are pursuing the EU’s poorest member state, Bulgaria, seeking hundreds of millions of euros because the government reduced soaring electricity costs for consumers. And these are only a few examples.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>Global records</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">No trade and investment agreement anywhere in the world has triggered more investor-state lawsuits than the ECT. 117 corporate claims are known to have been taken at the time of writing, following an explosion of lawsuits over the past five years. By the end of 2017, governments had been ordered or agreed to pay more than $51 billion in damages from the public purse. That’s about the same amount as the annual investment needed to provide access to energy for all those people in the world who currently lack it. The value of the ECT lawsuits pending – $35 billion – is more than the GDP of many countries – and more than the estimated annual amount needed for Africa to adapt to climate change. Due to the opacity of ECT arbitrations, the actual figure is likely to be much higher.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>Dirty Energy’s super-weapon</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">UK companies have also actively used the treaty. For example since 2017 oil and gas company <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/183ae12e-0fb4-11e7-b030-768954394623">Rockhopper</a><a href="https://www.ft.com/content/183ae12e-0fb4-11e7-b030-768954394623"> </a><a href="https://www.ft.com/content/183ae12e-0fb4-11e7-b030-768954394623">has </a><a href="https://www.ft.com/content/183ae12e-0fb4-11e7-b030-768954394623">been suing Italy</a> over its refusal to grant a concession for oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea. The refusal came after the Italian Parliament banned all new oil and gas operations near the country’s coast in 2016, amidst environmental concerns and strong local opposition to the projects. Rockhopper claims compensation not just for its sunk costs of about $40 to $50 million, but also for the $200 to $300 million which it <em>could</em> have made had the oil field been approved.</p> <p class="Standard">Such compensation claims for ‘hypothetical future profits’ are quite common under the ECT. They make it a cash machine for corporations – and a dangerous weapon in the hands of the fossil fuel industry, which already <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-188550/">owns more oil, gas and coal reserves than climate scientists say is safe to burn</a>. If states force the industry to keep these fossil fuels in the ground (as Italy did with regards to oil and gas in the Adriatic Sea), they will be liable for extraordinarily expensive compensation claims over ‘lost future profits’.</p> <p class="Standard">In spite of its risk to public budgets and governments’ ability to protect people and the climate, many countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America are moving towards signing the ECT. This process is actively driven by the current contracting states, the ECT Secretariat, and the very lawyers and corporations who profit from the ECT’s dangerous investor privileges. They want to globalise the ECT to make it a kind of World Trade Organisation (WTO) for energy.</p> <h2 class="Standard"><strong>Coming home to roost for the UK</strong></h2> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www.kwm.com/en/de/knowledge/%20insights/brexit-and-the-investment-arbitration-puzzle-20170621">Several</a> <a href="https://www.ashurst.com/en/news-and-insights/insights/brexit-im-%20pact-on-dispute-resolution/;">law</a> <a href="http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/publications/157167/%20frequently-asked-questions-about-investment-protection-and-brexit">firms</a> have suggested that <a href="http://arbitrationblog.practicallaw.com/brexit-related-claims-premature-but-certainly-not-impossible/">Brexit could now make the UK a prime target</a> for ECT lawsuits. Brexit could trigger radical changes in the energy sector – for example higher tariffs for energy imports or scrapped research funding – and lawyers argue that these could be interpreted as the UK Government’s failure to maintain a stable legal framework and thus a violation of the rights the ECT grants to foreign investors.</p> <p class="Standard">In general, as an investment lawyer <a href="http://gar.live/energy2017">predicted in 2017</a>, “In the UK, there’s likely to be more regulatory disputes”, referring to looming “interventionist approaches” in the energy sector. Both Theresa May’s announced cap on energy prices to reduce energy poverty or attempts by Jeremy Corbyn to reclaim public ownership of the energy system might well trigger ECT claims.</p> <p class="Standard">ECT claims against the UK would have a certain irony. When the treaty was negotiated in the early 1990s, the UK Department of Trade and Industry was amongst the most influential players in pushing forward and shaping the talks. The ECT’s investor rules were even modelled along the standard UK investment treaty at the time, which had been written with significant input from oil giant Shell.&nbsp; </p><h2 class="Standard"><strong>The trade war distraction</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">While the trade war makes the front pages, these shouting matches over steel and peanut butter tariffs distract everyone from examining the more serious problems of today’s trade regime. Meanwhile twenty years of the little-noted ECT give us some of the most powerful examples of just how dangerous and destructive this global trade regime is. Trade and investment deals such as the ECT are tools for big business to make governments pay when they regulate to fight climate change, make energy affordable, and protect other public interests. They can be used to bully decision-makers and act as a brake to desirable policy-making.</p> <p class="Standard">With Brexit, the UK has the opportunity to look critically at its trade and investment policy. It should remake the rules from the bottom up so that they serve the public interest and not just corporate profits. With regards to the ECT, a first step could be to follow the example of countries such as Italy and leave this outdated and dangerous agreement.</p> <p class="Standard"><em>Cecilia Olivet and Pia Eberhardt are the co-authors of the report “<a href="https://www.energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org/">One Treaty to rule them all. The ever-expanding Energy Charter Treaty and the power it gives corporations to halt the energy transition</a>”, Brussels/Amsterdam 2018.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</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/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/trumps-visit-marks-start-of-shock-doctrine-brexit">Trump&#039;s visit marks the start of shock doctrine Brexit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Cecilia Olivet Pia Eberhardt Mon, 20 Aug 2018 15:59:47 +0000 Pia Eberhardt and Cecilia Olivet 119362 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit is a consequence of low upward mobility https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/ashoka-mody-rachel-lurie/brexit-is-consequence-of-low-upward-mobility <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the Brexit referendum, UK citizens were pleading through their vote – and non-vote – for a fair shot at the future.</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-12340017.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-12340017.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'>Police raid in Hackney, London, targeting people involved in the London riots. December 21, 2011.Dominic Lipinski/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>On June 23, 2016, the British public voted by a 52-48 percent margin for the United Kingdom to leave its membership of the European Union. A popular view is that British citizens favored Brexit because they were swayed by misplaced nationalism and base xenophobia. Most <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/fundamental-factors-behind-brexit-vote">academic</a> <a href="https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/64_becker_17.pdf">studies</a>, however, find that the Brexit vote reflected <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/globalisation-and-brexit">economic grievances</a>: <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/brexit-cry-financial-pain-not-influence-old">economically distressed</a> regions had higher “Leave” shares; and people under financial stress were more likely to vote for Brexit. <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hall/files/gidronhallmay2018.pdf">Recent research</a> shows that people who are economically marginalized and see their social standing slipping away are likely to identify themselves with nationalistic and xenophobic ideas and seek solutions for their grievances outside of the political mainstream. <span class="mag-quote-center">People who…see their social standing slipping away are likely to identify themselves with nationalistic and xenophobic ideas and seek solutions for their grievances outside of the political mainstream.</span></p> <h2><strong>Intergenerational economic mobility</strong></h2> <p>In this article, we pinpoint the source of voter economic anxiety during Brexit: the shrinking opportunity for upward intergenerational economic mobility. Many parents who voted to leave had good reason to fear that their adverse economic conditions would also severely handicap their children. Many children were also influenced by their lack of economic opportunities. They did not vote to leave, but rather, did not vote at all, a decision that turned out to be an important cause of the Brexit outcome. </p> <p>Many observers have noted that young British voters chose “Remain” more heavily than older citizens. The inference such observers draw is that if more young people had voted instead of staying home, “Remain” would have prevailed. We find that the decision by the young to abstain, just as much as the decision by older citizens to “Leave,” was an expression of political alienation driven by economic pessimism.</p> <p>Our findings emphasize that lack of upward mobility is more powerful than mere inequality in inducing deep economic grievances. Wealth and status are inevitably distributed unevenly across a population. But parents and children are doubly aggrieved if economic deprivation is handed down from one generation to another. We find that income redistribution is inadequate to overcome the pessimism caused by inadequate opportunities for improving earnings prospects.</p> <h2><strong>A rust-belt trap on parents, and an urban trap on children</strong></h2> <p>Children’s prospects for upward mobility are determined by the educational and labor market experiences bequeathed to them by their parents. Or, as Stanford University’s Raj Chetty, the preeminent scholar of intergenerational mobility, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/129/4/1553/1853754/Where-is-the-land-of-Opportunity-The-Geography-of">puts it</a>, children’s success depends on the ‘opportunity’ to which they are exposed. Several studies, including one of ours, confirm that children who have higher-income and higher-professional-status parents start life with superior education and work experience (Lurie 2018).<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> Such children, unsurprisingly, succeed in climbing up the income ladder. Those who are brought up in better neighborhoods gain a further advantage.</p> <p>Following Lurie, we analyze the value to children of parental and neighborhood advantages. We obtained data on individual characteristics from longitudinal survey data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the Understanding Society UK Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS) spanning the years 1991 to 2015 (Figure I). To study neighborhood effects, we consider several regional characteristics from the 2001 British census data. Since regional characteristics are highly correlated, we use principal components analysis to identify two distinct groupings. One of these groupings, the “rust-belt,” features low college achievement, significant geographical isolation (commuting distances of individuals in the region are relatively short), and a large share of employment in manufacturing. Rust-belt areas do not have especially high unemployment rates; rather, the high reliance on manufacturing indicates a prevalence of low-paying and insecure jobs. These are areas, in former prime minister <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/29/key-lesson-of-brexit-globalisation-must-work-for-all-of-britain">Gordon Brown’s words</a>, where British manufacturing, unable to face Asian competition, has “collapsed,” and industrial towns have “hollowed out,” leaving semiskilled workers “on the wrong side of globalisation”. A second grouping suffers from “urban dysfunctions” such as high secondary school dropout rates, high unemployment, extreme geographical isolation, and broken families. Such areas have limited manufacturing activity. </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 2018-08-18 at 13.30.12.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 13.30.12.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Parents’ incomes not only are constrained by low professional status, but also are held down if they live in dominantly rust-belt areas. And children of low-income parents tend to be inadequately educated and scarred by youth unemployment, which limits their ability to move up the income ladder. Moreover, children earn less if they live in areas of high urban dysfunctions. Thus, the most disadvantaged children are those who, having been born to rust-belt parents, have moved to live and seek work in run-down urban areas. </p> <p>We find that the regional features that restrict upward mobility were influential in the vote for Brexit and in the decision to abstain. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>The vote to leave: rust-belt traps spawn political protest </strong></h2> <p>Rust-belt features and urban dysfunctions persisted from 2001 through 2011. Thus, on the reasonable assumption that these features persisted into 2016, people’s experiences of regional income traps had endured well over a decade by the time of the Brexit vote. </p> <p>As shown in Figure II, regions with greater rust-belt features had distinctly higher shares of people voting “Leave.” Those who voted “Leave” suffered not only from their own economic anxiety but also from the fear that their children would face poor economic prospects. They attributed these woes to a hyper-globalization amplified by the European Union. </p> <p>In heavily rust-belt areas such as the West Midlands and the North East, voters suffered from a <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/what-do-the-brexit-movement-and-donald-trump-have-in-common">deep sense</a> of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/09/brexit-means-north-east-poorer-leaked-report">economic frustration</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/north-east-brexit-impact-thorntree_uk_5a82f04fe4b01467fcf1adca">regret</a> over the loss of industrial jobs. As others have <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/why-the-remain-campaign-lost-the-brexit-vote">noted</a>, the “Leave” campaign encouraged voters to blame their hardships on the European Union and on the London-based political establishment.</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 2018-08-18 at 14.04.43.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 14.04.43.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>One theme of our findings is that while lack of upward mobility emphatically influenced the Brexit outcome, inequality played a more limited role in voters’ decisions. If anything, “Leave” shares were smaller in areas of high regional inequality: this is true for “market”-generated inequality and even more so for inequality after fiscal redistribution (Figure III). Thus, voters appear to have been moved not by their own relative deprivation, but rather, by the sense that even after receiving fiscal support to ease their daily lives, they could not give their children a chance of moving up in life.</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 2018-08-18 at 14.07.39.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 14.07.39.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'>Note: Gini coefficients taken from OECD statistics (2011). </span></span></span></p><h2><strong>Urban traps spawn political withdrawal</strong></h2> <p>The choice not to vote was just as important in determining the Brexit outcome as the choice to vote “Leave.” Regions with higher urban dysfunctions had lower voter turnout rates (Figure IV). Thus, while rust-belt traps manifested in a desire to change the system, urban traps manifested in a withdrawal from the system.&nbsp;&nbsp;</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 2018-08-18 at 13.45.41.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 13.45.41.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Voter <a href="https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/how-britain-voted-2016-eu-referendum">turnout data shows</a> that low-income youth drove low turnout rates: the lowest turnout rates nationally were among those aged 18-34, and among young people, those who were low-income voted the least. Such non-voters lived in dysfunctional urban areas, dealing with spells of unemployment and bleak prospects of making progress. For example, in Greater London, voter turnout was 79 percent in the affluent Kingston upon Thames borough, but only 65 percent in Hackney, where <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/09/london-riots-kids-parents-police">large pockets</a> of deep poverty and alienation persist. If Greater London’s turnout rate had been materially higher and its “Leave” share had stayed unchanged, the referendum result would almost certainly have been to “Remain.” <span class="mag-quote-center">The divide was not across generations but across those who have reason to be optimistic about their futures and those who do not.</span></p> <p>Many have portrayed the Brexit vote as <a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/book/brexit-generation-game-how-conflict-between-old-and-young-masks-welfare-challenges">reflecting</a> a “generational divide”: the young voted to Remain while older citizens voted to Leave. But this misses the crucial significance of the non-vote. The young living and working in the financial districts of London have little in common with those living in the depressed parts of Hackney. The divide was not across generations but across those who have reason to be optimistic about their futures and those who do not. The non-vote of the young living in the grim areas of Greater London and other similar urban neighborhoods was as much a sign of hopelessness as the exit vote of older rust-belt citizens. Their decision not to vote is a warning that such political detachment could morph into more active protest in the future.</p> <h2><strong>Can fiscal redistribution help after all?</strong></h2> <p>It is the case that areas of high urban dysfunctions also have high market-generated inequality (Figure V). As the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/world/europe/london-inequality-grenfell-tower-fire.html">London example shows</a>, pockets of extreme poverty and social fracture continue alongside areas of extraordinary wealth. The policy question is whether more aggressive fiscal redistribution to economically depressed urban areas, although too late for the Brexit vote, can help reduce the sense of despair and political alienation in the future.</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 2018-08-18 at 13.51.19.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 13.51.19.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'>Note: Gini coefficients taken from OECD statistics (2011). </span></span></span></p><p>The evidence from the Brexit non-vote is not encouraging. We find that government redistribution was ineffective at alleviating the underlying sources of voter frustration. As shown in Figure VI, while higher market inequality was associated with lower regional voter turnout rates, inequality in disposable income after taxes and transfers bore no relationship to turnout rates. Accordingly, regions with lower inequality in disposable income did not have higher voter turnout. While fiscal redistribution across regions did mitigate market inequality, it did not materially alleviate voters’ sense of frustration in economically and socially left-behind areas, where presumably the government’s safety nets were not enough to significantly raise optimism about the future. Recent studies for the United States describe how as regions fall behind, catching up <a href="https://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/veronica.guerrieri/research/Inequality-07-12-18.pdf">becomes ever harder</a>. Those who can afford to move from the lagging regions do so. Those who stay behind are left with fewer communal resources and often lower-quality schools, a crucial factor that can limit upward mobility. <span class="mag-quote-center">Those who can afford to move from the lagging regions do so. Those who stay behind are left with fewer communal resources and often lower-quality schools, a crucial factor that can limit upward mobility.</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/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 13.55.23.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 13.55.23.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'>Note: Gini coefficients taken from OECD statistics (2011). </span></span></span></p><p>Put differently, while redistribution eases the burden of life, it does not, <em>ipso facto, </em>improve opportunities to increase earning potential and move up on the income ladder. <a href="https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.27.3.79">Miles Corak</a> references a fitting quotation from <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137333117_5">Brunori, Ferreira, and Peragine</a>: </p> <blockquote><p>“[I]nequality of opportunity is the missing link between the concepts of income inequality and social mobility; if higher inequality makes intergenerational mobility more difficult, it is likely because opportunities for economic advancement are more unequally distributed among children.” </p></blockquote> <p>Policymakers need to aim for forms of redistribution that improve people’s life chances. </p> <h2><strong>The urgency of creating opportunities</strong></h2> <p>Our findings suggest that improving the prospects of upward mobility must be a multi-pronged policy effort. Regenerating declining manufacturing areas will raise the incomes of those stuck in a low-income status in those communities. Parents in those regions will be able to provide more opportunities to their children. In addition, directly improving children’s prospects of upward mobility will require revitalizing poor urban areas to enhance children’s opportunities upon entering the labor market; such policy initiatives will mitigate the scarring effects of youth unemployment. Crucial also to upward mobility is the availability of quality education. Particularly, low-income families need greater access to <a href="https://www.suttontrust.com/research-paper/intergenerational-mobility-europe-north-america/">education that prepares them</a> for the future. </p> <p>Many have criticized the Brexit referendum as undemocratic. Accounting for those who did not vote, less than half of British citizens favored Brexit. Even those who voted for Brexit may have been manipulated by unprincipled politicians and media. Such grumbling misses the point. The referendum gave British citizens an opportunity to pointedly express their pessimism about the future in a way that is not possible in general elections, in which multiple issues and parties compete for votes. In the Brexit referendum, UK citizens were pleading through their vote – and non-vote – for a fair shot at the future. They were calling on British leaders to revitalize decaying industrial areas and bring hope to the failing urban communities in which they were trapped. That plea has unfortunately been lost amid <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/brexit-two-years-deal-uk-economy-effects-city-london-ashoka-mody-international-monetary-fund-a8420721.html">the frenzied debate</a> on Brexit parameters between the UK and European authorities. <span class="mag-quote-center">That plea has unfortunately been lost amid the frenzied debate on Brexit parameters between the UK and European authorities. </span></p><p>The real Brexit message was only peripherally related to Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Rather, the Brexit vote signals the urgency of a task that policymakers have too long neglected: creating more opportunity and instilling a sense of fairness. Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to get it when, at her speech to the Conservative Party in October 2016, she promised “a country that works for all.” But May’s government continued the senseless fiscal austerity of previous Conservative governments. As is <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/did-austerity-cause-brexit/">well-understood</a>, austerity inflicts the greatest hurt on the most vulnerable. The task ahead is as clear as it is difficult: targeted policy solutions to raise upward mobility are crucial if Great Britain is to begin healing its economic and social divides. </p> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_ftn1">[1]</a> Lurie, Rachel. “Intergenerational Economic Mobility in Great Britain: Traps and Opportunities.” Princeton University, 2018.</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="/transformation/kate-pickett-richard-wilkinson/enemy-between-us-how-inequality-erodes-our-mental-heal">The enemy between us: how inequality erodes our mental health</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/adam-ramsay/on-brass-bands-and-brexit-culture-and-culture-war-case-of-shirebrook">On brass bands and Brexit; culture and cuts: the case of Shirebrook</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay-anthony-barnett/video-referendum-in-labours-hearlands">Video: the referendum in Labour&#039;s heartlands</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 Brexit2016 Ashoka Mody Rachel Lurie Sat, 18 Aug 2018 12:37:55 +0000 Rachel Lurie and Ashoka Mody 119336 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In defence of (some) conspiracy theory https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/des-freedman/in-defence-of-conspiracy-theory <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Of course powerful people organise together. Dismissing everyone who challenges them as "conspiracy theorists" is dangerous</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/iraq_invassion.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/iraq_invassion.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction capible of reaching Britain's Overseas Territories on Cyprus was used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Image, fair use</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">More than thirty years ago, sections of the national press set out to vilify prominent members of the Labour left and to attack the anti-racist and anti-sexist positions with which they were associated. The Mail, Express, Sun and News of the World ran story after story criticising the ‘hard left’ positions of the Greater London Council and propagated a series of myths – for example that one Labour Council had abolished ‘black bin bags’ and that another had banned the singing of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ – that made up for in political impact what they lacked in veracity. These tabloid assaults paved the way for the scrapping of the GLC and for the passage of malicious, anti-gay legislation like Section 28 that criminalised the promotion of homosexuality in the curriculum.</p><p dir="ltr">I’m reminded of these sorry times by the publication of the second edition of <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Culture-Wars-The-Media-and-the-British-Left-2nd-Edition/Curran-Gaber-Petley/p/book/9781138223035">Culture Wars</a>, a powerful analysis of what the authors describe as a ‘sustained press campaign against the “loony left” in the 1980s’. This tabloid demonisation was designed to render a left-wing Labour Party ‘electorally toxic’ and to delegitimise progressive ideas on everything from the economy to sexuality and from language to foreign policy.</p><p dir="ltr">We’re now seeing another such onslaught against the left and a fresh campaign of <a href="https://medium.com/@jrschlosberg/anti-jewish-hatred-is-becoming-normalised-on-the-right-and-corbyns-critics-are-turning-a-blind-70262e787961">smears</a>, <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/04/jeremy-corbyn-antisemitism-labour-party">insinuations</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/jamie-stern-weiner/jeremy-corbyn-hasn-t-got-antisemitism-problem-hiw-opponents-do">generalisations</a> aimed, in particular, at branding the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-semite. There is, however, one major difference between the 1980s and today: anti-semitism, unlike the banning of nursery rhymes, is tragically all too real. It’s on the rise in <a href="https://www.osservatorioantisemitismo.it/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Modern_Antisemitism_in_the_Visegrad_countries_book_online.pdf">parts of Eastern Europe</a> and finds an expression in British politics (with anti-semitic attitudes <a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/bs0i5dmt7s/CampaignAgainstAntisemitismResults_170803_JewishOpinions.pdf">most prominent amongst Conservative voters</a>). This makes the stakes even higher as there is a real need for a sober and informed discussion about how best to tackle anti-semitism, Islamophobia and the growth of the far right.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet, there is a further difference between the two periods. In 2018, to talk about the existence of a ‘sustained campaign’ by powerful interests against the left is immediately to invite accusations of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’, someone who is obsessed by the thought of shadowy figures meeting secretly to undermine democracy and to discredit progressive ideas and movements. The very idea that one might even want to doubt official explanations for contested events is now attributed to, at best, over-active imaginations or, at worst, reactionary motives. </p><p dir="ltr">So for example, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/15/uks-claims-questioned-doubts-emerge-about-source-of-salisburys-novichok">voices</a> that sought to question the government’s narrative on the poisoning in Salisbury were denounced by <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5831151/far-left-pro-corbyn-blogs-spread-false-conspiracy-theories-about-spy-poisoning-blaming-the-attack-on-israel-or-uk/">the Sun</a> as ‘promoting conspiracy theories’. I have no idea whether the government’s narrative is correct or not but I quite appreciate journalists foregoing stenography for investigation. But according to the Sun, these were simply ‘crackpot posts’ confined to ‘controversial’ sites like Skwawbox and The Canary. These sorts of conspiracy theories, <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/03/how-conspiracy-theories-about-salisbury-attack-tap-antisemitic-tropes">argued Danny Stone in the New Statesman,</a> ‘play into prejudices…they provide a scapegoat and a self-satisfying rebuttal loop.’ So despite cover-ups practised at the highest levels – from <a href="https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/10/13/tony-blairs-eternal-shame-chilcot-report/">US and UK deceptions over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq</a> to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/apr/26/hillsborough-disaster-deadly-mistakes-and-lies-that-lasted-decades">decades of lies perpetrated by the South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough disaster</a> – ‘conspiracy theory’ now appears to be the phrase du jour to taint anti-establishment critique as necessarily the domain of cranks, ‘truthers’ and disgruntled former spooks. </p><p dir="ltr">Of course, there can be no conspiracy to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn – just an endless flow of articles and broadcasts that repeat the same claims, draw on the same sources and foster the same central allegations: that Labour is now <a href="https://www.thejc.com/comment/leaders/three-jewish-papers-take-the-unprecedented-step-of-publishing-the-same-page-on-labour-antisemitism-1.467641">exceptionally and institutionally anti-semitic</a> and that it is Corbyn who is peddling <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6943621/jeremy-corbyn-grotesque-anti-semitism/">anti-semitic conspiracy theories.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Indeed, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/18/conspiracy-theories-extreme-right-far-left-threaten-democracy">liberal commentators regularly equate</a> the ‘far right’ and the ‘extreme left’ as devoted purveyors of conspiracy theories so that <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/sandy-hook-alex-jones-info-wars-fake-conspiracy-theory-a8472301.html">Alex Jones’ claim on InfoWars</a> that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting never happened can be seen as somehow equivalent to claims that ongoing attacks on Jeremy Corbyn might not be primarily motivated by a desire to confront anti-semitism so much as a desire to force Corbyn out. According to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/07/labour-antisemitism-jeremy-corbyn">Nick Cohen</a>, ‘Conspiracy theory binds Corbyn’s disparate militants’ while for <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/corbynite-left-is-hooked-on-conspiracy-theories-jcq7zh76f">David Aaronovitch</a>, Donald Trump’s birther theories are matched here in the UK where ‘large parts of the Labour Party tolerate the dissemination of conspiracy theories’. David Hirsh, in an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/david-hirsh/stop-accusing-jewish-community-of-conspiring-against-left">article</a> that time and again contrasts ‘the unprecedented consensus within the Jewish community in Britain that there is as serious problem of antisemitism in the Labour party’ with the actions of a ‘small number of antizionist Jews’ who are, by definition, not part of that community, insists that the left is alleging a ‘Jewish conspiracy to lie and to smear’.</p><p dir="ltr">The dishonest nature of these arguments is dazzling. What is being proposed here is that anyone who suggests that there is a concerted attempt to delegitimise Corbyn and the left has fallen victim to the dangerous allure of conspiracy. This is a form of political gymnastics that involves the downgrading of agency and ideology and the celebration of ‘common sense’ and merry coincidence; it is about the attribution of dodgy machinations to your opponents but only the purest motives to yourself.</p><p dir="ltr">So when 12 right-wing Labour MPs <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/labour-centrists-meet-to-take-back-control-of-labour-from-corbyn/">met in a Sussex farmhouse</a> recently to discuss prospects for regime change, this was presumably a mere accident involving Chuka Umunna and his pals out walking on the Downs and needing somewhere to sit down and rest.</p><p dir="ltr">When <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/26/labour-shadow-cabinet-resignations-jeremy-corbyn-who-has-gone">whole swathes of the shadow cabinet resigned</a> back in June 2016 in a futile attempt to force Corbyn out, this was just fortuitous and had no resemblance to an organised coup to unseat the leader. 44 frontbenchers just happened to feel the same way at the same time over the same issue. (The idea that a leading PR company might have had something to do with it was immediately <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/portland-pr-company-conspiracy_uk_57791308e4b073366f0f2cc5">dismissed</a> as a conspiracy).</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, conspiracy theories are all the more unsavoury when they are connected to claims made by or about a specific ethnic or religious group. So when anti-Zionists write about the propaganda activities of the Israeli government, this is seen not simply as conspiratorial but also racist by perpetuating the well-trodden myth of Jews acting in concert to protect their own interests. It’s as if Jewish people, unlike other groups, never organise amongst themselves because to suggest that they do inevitably reproduces anti-semitic tropes.</p><p dir="ltr">That would certainly be true in relation to false claims that ‘Jews control the media’ or that ‘a Jewish cabal sits at the top of the world’s financial institutions’. Such claims should be wholeheartedly condemned. But it is rather more difficult to dismiss the run-of-the-mill strategic communications that is undertaken by all governments, including that of Israel.</p><p dir="ltr">What are we to make, for example, of the work of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs founded in 2006 to promote the Israeli state’s foreign policy objectives and now overseen by a former intelligence officer? According to a <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/MAGAZINE-inside-the-clandestine-world-of-israels-bds-busting-ministry-1.5453212">report in Haaretz,</a> in October 2015 the Ministry was handed responsibility to ‘guide, coordinate and integrate the activities of all the ministers and the government and of civil entities in Israel and abroad on the subject of the struggle against attempts to delegitmize Israel and the boycott movement.’ Now this is not a unique portfolio and there are similar bodies elsewhere, for example the <a href="https://www.prweek.com/article/1454653/comms-helped-defeat-isis-iraq-claims-government-counter-propaganda-unit">Coalition Communications Cell</a> designed to combat IS or the <a href="http://powerbase.info/index.php/Research,_Information_and_Communications_Unit">Research, Information and Communications Unit</a> based in the Home Office, because strategic communications is an essential part of the contemporary political battleground <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/david-miller/russia-novichok-and-long-tradition-of-british-government-misinformation">employing many thousands of people</a>. It is not conspiratorial to argue that Israeli spooks might be engaged in attempts to delegitimise Jeremy Corbyn when, <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/MAGAZINE-inside-the-clandestine-world-of-israels-bds-busting-ministry-1.5453212">as Haaretz puts it</a>, the Ministry’s ‘leading figures appear to see themselves as the heads of a public affairs commando unit engaged in multiple fronts, gathering and disseminating information about people they define as “supporters of the delegitimization of Israel”.’</p><p dir="ltr">In fact the desire to ridicule (or to dismiss as ‘racist’) the notion that powerful bodies might be organising to discredit their enemies and to reinforce their own credibility is simply a way of letting power off the hook. States have long established <a href="http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9780719091056/">comprehensive systems of misinformation and disinformation</a> that rely on intermediate agents, including for example editors, politicians and academics, to circulate and re-purpose this material. These apparatuses both pre-date and are galvanised by today’s &nbsp;‘fake news’ platforms but they are not the simply the product of conspiratorial imaginations.</p><p dir="ltr">Some sixty years ago, the sociologist <a href="https://global.oup.com/ushe/product/the-power-elite-9780195133547?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;">C. Wright Mills</a> talked about the ‘interlocking directorate’ of political, military and economic interests that constituted a ‘power elite’ at the top of US society. This is far from a comfortable and predictable consensus – indeed the power elite reflects a volatile and unstable set of interests – but it is one that is nevertheless determined to overcome differences in pursuit of shared aims where they exist. Those who reject out of hand as mere ‘conspiracy’ the concerted attempts of elites – whether in the US, Russia, China, the UK or Israel – to guard their power and to undermine their foes are either naïve, or as seems more likely in the current campaign to discredit the Labour leader, utterly disingenuous. </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/david-hirsh/stop-accusing-jewish-community-of-conspiring-against-left">Stop accusing the Jewish community of conspiring against the left</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conspiracy/suspect-science/adam-ramsay/16-things-i-learnt-from-experts-on-conspiracy-theories"> 16 things I learnt about conspiracy theories – from the experts</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Anti-Semitism and the left Des Freedman Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:17:31 +0000 Des Freedman 119326 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A nation divided? The identities, politics and governance of England https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/john-denham/nation-divided-identities-politics-and-governance-of-england <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The public want change. It’s time for civil society to lead this essential, overdue public discussion. An edited version of a Speakers Lecture by John Denham.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/england flags kirby estate.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/england flags kirby estate.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: England flags on the Kirby estate, South London, during the 2018 World Cup. Credit: David Mirzoff/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p><p>England is deeply divided. We are divided by our poverty and our prosperity; between London and the South East and most of the rest of England; yes, within the wealthier regions too.</p> <p>In many parts of England, city centres may prosper while nearby towns lose their purpose and their able young people. </p> <p>The lines that divide us are being re-drawn. Poor white working-class children from towns and the seaside are now less likely to do well in school, than most ethnic minority kids of the large cities. But race and faith, prejudice and discrimination still have the power to divide us. </p> <p>We are divided by our experiences and our values. Age, class, and higher education are strong predictors of which of us is likely to hold individualistic cosmopolitan liberal views, and which a more communitarian social conservatism.</p> <p>These differences don’t map readily onto the familiar divides of class, of ‘left’ and ‘right’. Older working-class voters may be less keen on rapid immigration and diversity than their university educated grandchildren but are strong supporters of public ownership and the NHS. Young liberals may be less keen on redistribution and the welfare state; more likely to blame poverty on the individual. </p> <p>We sometimes lack the ability to talk to each other. One person’s resistance to change in their community is another’s clear evidence of racism.</p> <p>England is by far the largest part of the union. It is here that the forces that have torn us apart on Brexit are most violent. And it is England – and England outside London in particular – that is taking the whole of the union out of the EU.</p> <p>Despite the apparent return of two party politics in 2017, it was still the case that the elections in each nation were contested by different parties, won by different parties, and, to a large extent, fought around different issues. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales have their own cultural dividing lines that are different to those in England. </p> <p>England, as we recently learned from the massive <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-44369889">BBC/YouGov survey, believes that its best years were in the past</a>, while other parts of the union believe the best lies in the future. Not a single English demographic in the published poll expressed optimism for the future rather than nostalgic pessimism. Confidence in Westminster’s ability to represent people where they live is catastrophically low, as is their ability to influence their local council.</p> <p>The other parts of the union enjoy their own political identity and space, their own democratic institutions and their own democratic powers. England has none of these.</p> <p>England, as England, is absent from our national political debate and conversation. What happens in England affects the whole of the union, but England is rarely mentioned. </p> <p>Yet English identity has taken on a new weight and political significance. </p> <p>By the extent to which people say they are English, British or both, we can predict their likelihood to vote Leave or Remain, to be left or right, satisfied or dissatisfied with the current constitution, feel empowered or disenfranchised, or prioritise England over the union, Brexit over the Irish border.</p> <h2>England matters</h2> <p>I’m not going suggest that all the answers to our current problems lie with England. </p> <p>I will argue that we won’t meet the many challenges we face without addressing England: without engaging with English identity, England as a nation, with England as a place, as a democracy and as a political community.</p> <p>I’ll ask why even though English is the most widely shared and strongly held national identity amongst England’s residents that ubiquity and popularity is marginalised? Why is it actively opposed and even suppressed in public life and the national debate: not by the British as a whole, but by elite liberal Britain?</p> <p>I’ll argue that we cannot overcome our national divisions unless Englishness is allowed its proper place as an accepted, legitimate and celebrated identity within the multiple identities of modern England. </p> <p>I’ll suggest that our historic attachment to the remains of the unitary imperial state has left England without political institutions of its own and with a level of centralisation quite incompatible with good governance</p> <p>While those who feel strongly English must in future be fully included and represented, the future cannot belong exclusively to those who feel most strongly English. Reforms to England’s governance are needed but they must rest on sound, inclusive, democratic and civic foundations. </p> <h2>English and British</h2> <p>Around the turn of the millennium, when Scottish and Welsh devolution began, a marked change took place in England. The apparent assumption that English and British were pretty much the same broke down. Increased numbers of people began to identify as English as well as British. There was a sharp fall in those naming British rather than English identity.</p> <p>The numbers bounce around a bit but, over the past 20 years a broadly stable position has emerged.</p> <p>If asked about strength of identity, the great majority say they are strongly English <strong>and</strong> strongly British.</p> <p>If asked to choose one identity, slightly more will choose English than British.</p> <p>If asked whether English, more English than British, and so on, the largest group is equally English and British (35-40%), with the English and more English outnumbering the British and more British by around 3 to 2.</p> <p>By any measure, Englishness is the most widely shared national identity; it is at least as strongly held as Britishness, and more people emphasise their Englishness than their Britishness.</p> <p>The preference for Englishness over Britishness is strongest in the over 65s. As we move through the generations, it becomes more balanced, until, amongst the 18-24 years olds the more British exceed the more English, though even amongst the youngest, a large majority say they are strongly English.</p> <p>The major cities have higher numbers of British identifiers, though nowhere outside London do the more British outnumber the more English. (And London is more polarised between English and British identifiers than any other region, with fewer ‘equally English and British’). In smaller cities, the towns, suburbs and villages, the more English markedly exceed the more British. Regional and county identities, particularly in the north and in Cornwall, are strong enough to present a major part of people’s identities.</p> <p>As for the political salience of identity, just under 70% of the English not British voted Leave; over 70% of the British not English voted Remain. </p> <p>46% of the strongly English say they voted Conservative in 2017, 25% Labour. </p> <p>My survey of Conservative activists revealed deep scepticism amongst English identifying members about the benefits of the union to England. It prompted Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home, to describe the Tories as the ‘Conservative and just about Unionist’ Party. </p> <p>Labour members are significantly more likely to identify as British than the electorate as a whole, which may go some way to explain its relative lack of appeal to English identifiers.</p> <p>In 2015 English fears of SNP influence on Labour dominated the campaign and some commentators, and those close to the party campaigns, believe the issue gave David Cameron his majority.</p> <h2><strong>National identity</strong></h2> <p>There are many different takes on national identity, so let me explain how I understand it. </p> <p>Both Trump in the US and Brexit here prompted a flood of analysis correlating voting patterns and individual pieces of data. Every week produced a new explanation: economic status; demographics of age or race; education attainment; levels of recent migrations, ‘open’ or ‘closed’ values.</p> <p>These insights are very valuable, but in the search for the holy grail of the ‘real cause’; the single explanatory factor, we can miss the wood for the trees.</p> <p>All these issues – our economic experience, our experience of migration, our levels of education, the values of our community – together shape our view of the world.</p> <p>Our national identities become the repository of our experiences and perceptions. They offer narratives that help to make sense of them. They help to shape the way we understand the world. </p> <p>Our national identities reflect our sense of who we are; the values we hold, the symbols we recognise, the history we understand, how we see our status and influence. It’s not the individual elements of those identities that explain people’s behaviour, but the overall world view that they reflect and sustain.</p> <p>If there are echoes here of David Goodhart’s ‘people from somewhere’, and Will Jennings work on England’s divisions between cosmopolitan and socially conservative values, I want to emphasise the importance of national identity in organising, reflecting and expressing those different world views.</p> <p>If, for example, your experience of 40 years EU membership has been of factories closing, jobs lost, status diminished, community weakened and now changed beyond recognition by rapid migration, you may be attracted to a world view, and its associated identity, that gives a particular explanation of why that has happened. If by contrast your experience has been one of expanded opportunity, stimulation and personal success, this is likely to be reflected in a different identity. </p> <p>If people who feel English rather than British tend to vote in a particular way, it is because they share a world view for which that behaviour makes sense. And vice versa.</p> <p>This understanding of identity goes some way to explain why the correlations in voting behaviour are so strong, yet identity is rarely ‘operationalised’. Few people, after all, said I’m voting Leave because it is the English thing to do, or I’m a Remainer because I’m British. </p> <p>Anthony Barnett, author of The Lure of Greatness, highlights the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">word clouds of important Brexit issues</a> from the British Election Study. For Remainers it was the economy, followed by rights; for Leavers it was immigration followed by sovereignty. This does not look like one group of people answering one question in different ways, but two groups, giving different answers to different questions. </p> <p>It was not Brexit, of course, that divided us; Brexit highlighted the divisions that already existed.</p> <h2>Not two tribes, but divergent views</h2> <p>The recent BBC survey gives some new insights into the different world views of English and British identifiers. I don’t want to overstate the case. We are not separate tribes; mixed identities happily co-habit in most of us.</p> <p>But there are real differences between English-only identifiers and British-only. And, by and large, there is a smooth gradient from one pole to the other as we move through more English than British and to more British than English. </p> <p>One divide, of course, is whether someone’s primary allegiance is to the geography and institutions of Britain or the geography and political identity of England. The English are more inclined to prioritise England over the union; the British to prioritise the union. </p> <p>The way that British unionist priority has been expressed politically has caused its own problems, but I will return to that later.</p> <p>The British and the English also describe England in different terms. Twice as many British chose ‘diverse’ to describe England as do the English. Half as many are likely to say England has always been proud to stand alone. </p> <p>On the other hand, well over two thirds of the English believe we are tolerant, welcoming, friendly and generous. Just under half the British see the English in this positive light. </p> <p>And the survey at least hints at the emergence of minority amongst British identifiers who are not just ‘not English’, but positively antipathetic to the English. </p> <p>The clue is in the people who say they would be embarrassed to call themselves English, about just 7% of the total sample.</p> <p>The embarrassment is not felt by people who identify as English, or equally English and British, but by those who emphasise their British identity or who otherwise say they are not English.</p> <p>This anti-English fragment of Britishness seems to be highly educated, found more in cities and university towns, and much more likely to identify strongly as European than the general population. Contrary to what you might expect, this anti-English outlook is not stronger amongst ethnic minorities than white people. </p> <p>Minority though it may be, I’d suggest this anti-English fraction is over-represented within the institutions of government, within the leadership of the public sector, within the media, within corporate capitalism, and in academia (in short, a large part of what is sometimes called the elite). It is of course found within politics, and on the left in particular. </p> <p>That observation is based on personal experience, rather than hard data, though I suspect most of you will recognise what I am describing. I’m often struck by how many people in powerful positions say they are British not English while expressing disparaging views about English identity. They seem blissfully unware that being British not English puts them in less than on in ten of the population, and by being antipathetic to Englishness, in an even smaller minority. </p> <p>We saw their influence in Remain’s decisions to campaign as Scotland Stronger in Europe, in Scotland; as Wales Stronger in Europe, in Wales, and – only in England – as Britain Stronger in Europe. The English were, apparently, not worth even speaking to. </p> <p>Given that the Remain campaign lost heavily amongst English identifying voters, this was a mistake with serious and far-reaching consequences.</p> <p>Before the World Cup senior police officers described the St George cross as ‘almost Imperialistic’, and the Royal Mail – the <em>Royal</em> Mail - banned it from their vans. Yet polling shows support across the nation and diverse communities for both the England team and the flag.</p> <h2>England disappears from the national conversation. </h2> <p>The Prime Minister recently e-mailed English voters about health funding but did not make it clear she was talking about the English NHS. Labour recently published eight policy consultation documents which were largely about England but only in one actually mentioned England. </p> <p>The UK government has recently produced a video for Scotland on a new UK child care policy, with the #deliveringforScotland. The same policy applies in England but, as yet, no video addressing England. No #deliveringforEngland.</p> <p>I was pleased to take part in the York Festival of Ideas with David Willetts recently. Several of us discussed English higher education for a day – under a banner which read ‘the future of UK higher education’. </p> <p>And it does seem that more academics have a fascination with the minority of English people who express their identity in racist and ethnic terms than the majority who do not. </p> <p>During June’s World Cup <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkSpmtA5IM4">Gareth Southgate gave a powerful interview</a> in which he said, ‘We’re a team with our diversity and our youth that represents modern England’ and talked explicitly about English identity. The Guardian headline today was ‘England team represents modern Britain’.</p> <p>That’s not lazy reporting. You have to work extra hard to write England out of the story.</p> <p>No wonder people say, as they do on the doorstep: ‘you’re not even allowed to say you are English anymore’.</p> <p>The cumulative impact of this influential fraction is to delegitimise and marginalise Englishness; by portraying it as inherently reactionary and unpleasant we don’t need to engage with it as we do with other identities. </p> <p>It claims that Englishness is an ethnic identity; is a racist identity; it belongs to the far right; and that any political expression of Englishness is both extreme and the product of English nationalism.</p> <p>Three quarters of people believe you do not have to be white to be English (although it’s true that some are more accepting of those who were born here and have a local accent)</p> <p>Far right groups do try to appeal to English identity. But fully 80% of the population is strongly English. How can Englishness belong to the far right?</p> <p>Yes, the English do identify English issues and interests; they may sometimes feel they are ignored. But is this really a political movement we can call English nationalism when we find none of the things we might expect from a nationalist movement: there is no mainstream nationalist political party, no nationalist cultural institutions, nor nationalist public intellectuals? Supposed ‘English nationalism’ becomes another reason to exclude the English from debate.</p> <p>Now, I’m not naïve. Englishness, like Britishness is not monochrome. Look for the more unpleasant edge and you will certainly find it. Its fears can be inflamed by populist right. The current ‘Campaign to Free Tommy Robinson’ trades on claims that the ethnic dimension of grooming has been ignored. </p> <p>But this reactionary minority does do not justify the marginalisation of Englishness as a whole; indeed, the very opposite. Fears can most easily be exploited amongst people who feel they are not being listened to. The shunning of Englishness feeds the populists.</p> <p>The English are more concerned about the cultural impact of immigration, though as many British identifiers share similar concerns it is largely a matter of degree. While some do reject migration for racist reasons, as trade unionist Paul Embery says about rapid migration into east London, ‘it wasn’t their sense of&nbsp;race that had been violated by the sudden upheaval in their community; it was their sense of order’. I would say the same about my old Southampton constituency.</p> <p>But instead of engaging with this view, the anti-English fraction simply takes it as proof that Englishness is beyond the pale.</p> <p>The marginalisation of English identity prevents us exploring the shared values and common goals that are needed to heal England’s divisions. The work of British Future has found a large centre ground on migration, valuing its contribution but wanting it controlled. Yet public debate does not allow this to be expressed.</p> <p>Without question, much good has come from the spread of socially liberal cosmopolitan values. This is a far less closed and less bigoted society than the one into which I was born. But I would also argue that communitarian values of collective identity and solidarity – what we might call the bonds of belonging – that mark much of English identity also have a power and value that deserves recognition.</p> <p>Exclude the English and we also lose the ability to draw on England’s radical and reforming traditions. Our defence of liberty, our traditions of self-organisation, our history of struggles for rights and freedoms.</p> <h2>Nation-building</h2> <p>We will also struggle to shape shared identities and challenge the less pleasant aspects of Englishness.</p> <p>It is not actually a surprise that people from ethnic minorities are more British than English, and not just because of perceptions of English as an ethnic identity.</p> <p>Being English is strongly associated with being born here, and it’s the younger generations that are more likely to be English.</p> <p>And identities change their meaning. As Prof Tariq Modood reminds us, forty years ago many felt that association with the legacy of racism and colonialism would prevent ethnic minorities ever calling themselves British. That did not happen, and Englishness too is continuing to change.</p> <p>The popular acceptance of a multi-racial English football team suggests an inclusive Englishness is being built as we speak. (It’s only a generation or so since some fans didn’t count goals scored by black players). </p> <p>I wouldn’t argue for one moment that we should just take Englishness as it we find it. Just as the far right want to make it reactionary, those of a more progressive outlook should make every effort to strengthen its progressive, patriotic and inclusive expressions.</p> <p>But once again, the anti-English elite does its best to get in the way; rather than help shape Englishness and counter its more reactionary manifestations, Englishness is absent from public policy. The contributions of high profile ethnic minority figures, including Sadiq Khan, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Trevor Phillips, who are all at ease talking about Englishness, are ignored. </p> <p>There is a stark contrast between the pro-active efforts of the Scottish government to inculcate an inclusive Scottish identity and the lack of almost any public engagement with English identity by the UK government that runs England. </p> <p>Instead of nation-building we have national neglect.</p> <h2>Identity, values and change</h2> <p>These divisions of culture and identity have huge implications for our ability to tackle England’s other divisions.</p> <p>We cannot heal this divided nation without radical changes to our political economy that will reduce inequality, the gaps between regions, and raise productivity, innovation and the quality of working life. In the vision of the recent IPPR commission on Economic Justice: "an economy in which prosperity is joined with justice and builds the common good".</p> <p>But that change needs more than technocratic policy; it will depend on a shared vision of our nation; a shared idea of the common good; shared values. In the search for those common goals we cannot ignore national identity.</p> <p>National identities transmit values, and popular values determine how society can and can’t be changed. To take one example, the NHS is popular, despite its failings, because its core value ‘we all pay in and it’s there when we need it’ is not so much a funding mechanism but a statement of the sort of people we imagine ourselves to be. </p> <p>Old identities of the unionised working class; and the conservatism of order, service and respectability have weakened. Across the West, the identities of people, nation and place have assumed greater importance. Sadly, it is the divisive and xenophobic right that has taken most advantage. Centrist parties like the SNP and leftist parties like Syriza have been the exception.</p> <p>The urgent need to address England stems, not from a narrow nationalism or parochialism but as a necessary condition to create a strong sense of shared identity, common interests and a determination to work together to build a better society. </p> <h2>The governance of England</h2> <p>This place, this nation of England, will always belong to people with multiple and mixed identities. Yet the most widely shared identity is too often excluded from the national debate.</p> <p>England and the English must be included if we are to overcome the divisions – of identity, culture, geography, values and economy; if we are to create the sense of shared identity and common purposes that is now so essential. But where on earth can that discussion currently happen?</p> <p>This is where we must turn to the governance of England. </p> <p>England is now the only part of the UK governed permanently on most domestic policy by the UK government and not by its own elected parliament or assembly. </p> <p>It is the only unreformed element of the old imperial state and parliament. Reform that started with the division of Ireland in the 1920s and continued when Scotland and Wales took authority from Westminster at the turn of the century, has not yet touched England.</p> <p>Nor, in the main, has it touched the political parties that dominate England.</p> <p>Attachment to the old unitary state was embedded in the pretence that Scottish and Welsh devolution simply lent Westminster powers to the nations. This was used to justify the UK government continuing run England. That pretence about devolution has been dropped, but not the belief that England should be subject to the parliament and government of the UK. </p> <p>Of course, people say that England is so big within Westminster that the distinction is a technicality, a matter of form not a matter of substance. This is to miss the point about what a national parliament is.</p> <p>As Vernon Bogdanor observes, the Commons has now the semblance of an English Parliament – because it largely discusses English issues – without being made up of English MPs. </p> <p>England is sometimes subject to the direct interference of non-English MPs (as when the DUP demands English revenues to sustain the Conservatives in power and prevent an early election, or when Labour Scottish and Welsh MPs tried to imposed higher university fees on England). English voters are denied the democratic right to determine national policy outside that is taken for granted in the rest of the UK.</p> <p>English votes on English laws have given English MPs a veto on legislation, but, in the words of one authoritative study, it has not yet given England a voice. The Commons does not provide a forum and focus for the politics of England in the way that the elected bodies of Scotland, Wales and, (though temporarily incapacitated), Northern Ireland do for those parts of the union. </p> <p>There is no crucible for England’s national debate.</p> <p>This constitutional conservatism has shaped how England sees itself. </p> <p>Scotland and Northern Ireland both delivered large Remain majorities. As did London. Wales had a narrow Leave vote, in line with the UK average but much less than England-outside-London.</p> <p>The more pro-Remain parts of the UK have enjoyed civic processes, political debates, and political institutions that have enabled them to reimagine their identities in a post-imperial world. Scotland took that opportunity enthusiastically, Wales less certainly though there would now be no going back. Northern Ireland took it as a way of moving beyond its own tragic history.</p> <p>London, of course, is the one part of England that enjoys statutory powers, its own elected leadership and political institutions to shape its identity. </p> <p>These debates have allowed different parts of the union to see themselves as modern, European, post-imperial. </p> <p>England, uniquely within Britain, has neither been challenged nor enabled to re-imagine its position in the union, its identity, and its role in the 21st century. It is split culturally, regionally, by age and education, because there has never been an attempt to articulate what the people English share in common. </p> <p>The symptoms England displays – the Brexit vote, the regional imbalances, the cultural divisions, the obsessive centralisation – are rooted in the failure of England to reconsider our role and nature in the modern world.</p> <p>That England provided the lion’s share of the Brexit vote was not a pathological failing of the English people, but the outcome of England being denied any political identity, institutions and national debate of its own. </p> <p>In the absence of that national debate, in the absence of any English political institutions, and with the widespread marginalisation of English identity, it should not be a surprise that the English more than anyone else wanted to ‘take back control’.</p> <p>Scotland, of course, also enjoyed its own ‘take back control’ moments when it both threw out Labour and determined its relationship with the union.</p> <p>Of course, many British unionists have actually worked hard to prevent England being allowed a political identity, including many in my own party. Unlike the liberal anti-England British, these opponents have often been motivated by concern for the union.</p> <p>These British unionists – whilst often the staunchest advocates of devolution to Wales and Scotland – have feared that England is so big that allowing a political identity would inevitably wreck the union. Instead of working out how a reformed union could accommodate England’s democratic rights, and the rights of the smaller nations, they have resisted all change. </p> <p>We can now see what a catastrophic mistake that has been.</p> <p>It is the ultimate irony that the architects of England’s suppression are now seeing an angry England taking the whole union out of the EU, against the wishes of the majority in the devolved nations. The defenders of the union have triggered unprecedented threats to the continuation of the union itself. Instead of blaming a supposed English nationalism, it is time that they confronted their own responsibility for the current situation.</p> <p>The attachment to the old imperial unitary state has a second consequence. It has consolidated the Whitehall centralist state. Wales and Scotland – and less certainly – Northern Ireland – have broken free of Whitehall micro-management. England again is unchanged, not just in the formal system of governance but in the entrenched in the pattern of thinking in Westminster and Whitehall.</p> <p>Decades of centralisation have produced a nation with dramatic variations in morbidity, mortality, education, life chances, social care, and not just by region but by city, town, village and street. Yet propose the most modest devolution and yet within half a mile of here, the cry of ‘beware the postcode lottery’ will go up.</p> <p>As the admirable Mark Sandford of the House of Commons library has documented, the much-hyped devolution deals, as with Labour’s regionalism, are primarily designed to co-opt and engage local stakeholders in the flexible delivery of Whitehall priorities. They are not intended to transfer the ability to set different policy priorities, or accountability for public money to a more local level, let alone give statutory backing to local democratic rights.</p> <p>The longstanding Barnett funding formula requires the UK government to give relative protection to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by linking their spending to that of England. Barnett does not require the UK government to provide any similar protection to the poorest parts of England. Hence, since 2010, the UK government has imposed bigger cuts on the poorest regions of England. </p> <p>If Barnett has been an essential underpinning of UK, devolution across the UK, English devolution requires fair funding within England. So stunted is the debate about England that I’m not aware of proposals from any party to entrench a fair funding formula for England.</p> <p>No wonder so few people in England feel they can influence local and national policy. Only 13% feel that politicians in Westminster reflect the concerns of people in their part of the country. Only 23% think local people have a significant influence on local government decisions. </p> <p>If anything, the English feel even less empowered than the British, and, according to the Centre for Towns, the most English towns feel least well represented. But this is a civic and democratic crisis across identities, not just for the English.</p> <h2>What is to be done?</h2> <p>If you are still with me, I hope the inter-related challenges I outlined earlier are beginning to take shape.</p> <p>I want to foster an England that is more optimistic about the future than it is nostalgic for the past; an England in which there are shared aims, shared identities and a shared idea of the common good. </p> <p>We need to enable the English and English identity to be fully expressed and accepted in the national debate, as legitimate as any other identity, and to encourage its development as inclusive.</p> <p>We need to create the institutions in which those shared aims and the common good can be developed.</p> <p>And we need to ensure that the average person in England feels far more empowered to shape their locality and their nation than they do at present.</p> <p>There has been some talk by Gordon Brown and others of a new union of the nations and the English regions, but these proposals are inadequate, undemocratic and far from radical. They give other nations enhanced rights, including treaty powers; but English legislation and English finance would remain in the hands of the UK government. </p> <p>The regions, a modern invention, bear only an occasional and coincidental relationship to real local and regional identities. And in a small, crowded, nation, English legislation needs to be made at English level by English democracy. </p> <p>I would argue that the only system of governance that can meets our pressing is an English Parliament coupled to radical statutory devolution within England.</p> <p>Westminster needs to move beyond the formal mechanism of English votes for English laws to allow English legislation to be fully made by elected English MPs. That is a demand that has been consistently enjoyed majority support, British identifiers as well as English, since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. It should evolve, initially at least, as a dual mandate Commons in which English MPs sit both as members of an English Parliament and of a union parliament. </p> <p>At the same time, to overcome the regional disparities of wealth and opportunity, or to reduce the material divisions in England, we need a fundamental shift of power and resources from Whitehall to England’s localities. This devolution must be underpinned by statutory rights to take decisions locally.</p> <p>Perhaps the moment for change may be coming. In the BBC survey a third expressed no opinion on changes of governance. This is a debate that is starting, not one that is ended. But exclude them, and 62% support an English Parliament. 73% support the devolution of power to combined authorities, a remarkable result given how new they are, but it strongly suggests that building on existing institutions in localities that we understand, is likely to be the best way forward.</p> <p>Since Brexit, England is being taken more seriously across the political spectrum and amongst liberal and left intellectuals. The Constitution Unit has analysed options for an English Parliament. The very commissioning of the BBC’s poll recognised England’s growing significance.</p> <p>The emergence of a network of symbolically powerful elected mayors, backed by business as well as local authorities may create a powerful voice for change for all parts of England.</p> <p>Few people now argue that Whitehall can solve the regions’ problems. Just ask Northern Rail passengers. Yes, the call for an English Parliament raises questions about the future of the union, although less sharp if the first step is a dual mandate Commons. But, in any case it seems unlikely, post-Brexit, that we will get through the next few years without facing questions about the structure and future of the union; whether from the Irish border, renewed calls for Scottish independence, or the simple impossibility of the UK government representing both UK and English agricultural interests at the same time.</p> <p>Those coming debates will not be able to exclude England. Lord Salisbury’s Constitution Reform Group has laid the groundwork for a serious re-founding of the union. The political parties have not reached this conclusion yet. It may still take them some time. But I would suggest that this is the time for the civic consideration of England’s governance to begin. Large sections of the public want change, they have a sense of direction. Now is the time for civil society groups, faith organisations, unions, business and local authorities to lead that essential, overdue public discussion.</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/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/david-marquand/england-ireland-scotland-wales-time-for-all-to-jump-in-to-debate">England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - time for all to jump in to the debate</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 John Denham Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:24:20 +0000 John Denham 119307 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Looking at Lexit : Everyday Lexiteers - Interview 3 : Oliver https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/xavier-buxton-oliver-eagleton/looking-at-lexit-everyday-lexiteers-interview-3-oliver <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"When viewed in [the] Europe-wide context, it becomes clear that a vote for Leave is not a vote for UKIP or for neoliberalism. In fact, it may deprive such forces of the international structures which sustain them."</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-33011394.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33011394.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'>Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem arrives at the Finance Ministry after his meeting with Greek Fin. Minister in Athens on September, 2017. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>As part of our Looking at Lexit series, we’ll be asking left-wing Brexit voters about their reasons for voting Leave. Our third “Everyday Lexiter” is Oliver, a recent graduate now working as an editorial assistant.</em></p><p><em></em><br /><strong>Describe your political outlook/background/loyalties</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Becoming disenchanted with Obama was a significant part of my political education. I went to his inauguration at the age of eleven and got swept up in the euphoria, only to look back on the 2008 inaugural ceremony and question my uncritical participation in it. I later joined the Irish Socialist Party and began campaigning against the EU-IMF austerity regime which had been devastating the country since the crash. The group did a lot of good work, but was run by tunnel-visioned ultra-leftists whose outlook was too obstinate to be effective. They ended up expelling me after I wrote a satirical play about Trotskyist fringe parties. </p><p dir="ltr">I moved to England in 2015 and became a member of Corbyn’s Labour. I usually describe my outlook as Leninist, in the sense that I believe socialist principles should always complement the concrete analysis of concrete situations, and that revolutionary politics should allow for maximal flexibility and improvisation without yielding to reformism. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Describe, in two or three sentences, your political utopia: what your ideal community would look like, and how would it function?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I think that any revolutionary act creates new possibilities which lie beyond one’s current cultural horizons. For me, socialists should try to create that space of possibility by exploiting capitalism’s contradictions, supporting its oppressed groups, and creating forms of collectivism to counter its atomising effects – but we shouldn’t try to draw up some utopian blueprint which will inevitably become ossified and redundant. Instead, we should unite behind a few broad principles (radical equality, mass democratisation, collective ownership) and use them to propel us towards a future which is unthinkable in the present: a future in which the texture of everyday life – not just the structure of our state apparatus – is deeply affected by political transformation. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What was your main reason for voting for Brexit?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">As a teenager, I followed Yanis Varoufakis’ confrontation with the EU in great detail, and felt unable to forget it when the Brexit referendum was announced. The Greek debacle left no doubt as to what happens when a progressive movement gains popular support and political traction inside the EU: it is subjected to what Varoufakis rightly called ‘economic terrorism’, forced to betray its mandate and stripped of its power by an unelected technocracy. The sight of Syriza politicians breaking down in parliament – knowing that their EU-imposed legislative programme will condemn millions to hunger and destitution, yet having little alternative given their failure to plan for Grexit – is haunting, and underscores the EU’s contempt for both democracy and dignity. </p><p dir="ltr">I could never support such an institution as a matter of principle. But in realpolitikal terms, the necessity of Brexit is just as urgent. It is naïve to think that Labour would escape the fate of Syriza – that the EU would not use Britain’s treaty obligations and state aid rules to prevent any deviation from neoliberal orthodoxy. It seemed to me that, faced with the unpalatable prospect of a Tory Brexit, left-wing Remainers wilfully ignored the ways in which social change is incompatible with EU membership. Their ability to neglect this fact also signalled a broader political defeatism: we’ll never win an election anyway, so why not keep the EU as a bulwark against Tory deregulation? Why opt for ‘national sovereignty’ when our sovereign decision-makers will be Conservative for the foreseeable future? Meanwhile, those who believe that the left might soon take power (a belief validated by the last general election) seemed more willing to prepare for that outcome. An ineluctable part of that preparation is Brexit. </p><p dir="ltr">The short-sightedness of the Remain position also struck me as incompatible with the kind of structural thinking which the left claims to deploy. For me, the most compelling reasons to remain were the reluctance to galvanise xenophobic nationalism and the fear that Liam Fox’s libertarian cronies would hijack the economy. But even these arguments rely on viewing Brexit as an event with exclusively national significance. They do not reckon with the EU’s capacity to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment across its member states, impose ‘structural reforms’ which entrench an extreme free market ideology, and sign trade agreements that threaten workers’ rights internationally. Instead of seeing Farage and Fox as nutters to be reined in by the EU, we should understand them as symptoms of a far-right free-trade movement whose rise is abetted by the EU itself. When viewed in this Europe-wide context, it becomes clear that a vote for Leave is not a vote for UKIP or for neoliberalism. In fact, it may deprive such forces of the international structures which sustain them. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Were you influenced by any politicians? Friends, family, colleagues?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I was influenced by Tariq Ali’s unequivocal support for Brexit. During a crisis of confidence some months after the referendum I asked him whether he still believed it was a progressive result, to which he replied ‘Of course’ with total, relaxed certainty. But, aside from that, all my friends and family were Remainers. I found it instructive that many of them seemed to accept the dominant middle-class opinion in a manner which reminded me of uncritical Obama supporters and (in a very different way) of the ideological lemmings whom I met in the Socialist Party. I was instinctively allergic to that Remainer herd instinct – especially since it affects the very people who describe Leave voters as brainless, impulsive and easily manipulated. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How would a Labour-led Brexit differ from a Tory one?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In either case, the EU will try to make leaving as costly and unappealing as possible. But I think Labour’s policy on the customs union is more coherent than anything proposed by the Tories, and Corbyn’s commitment to solving the Irish border question is sure to win him a morsel of goodwill in Brussels. Labour would liberate Britain from the constraints of the single market (whose worst aspects would be retained by the Tories) while also forging a ‘soft’, humane and sensible approach to immigration. Concessions will have to be made by any British negotiator, but the reclamation of sovereignty would be accelerated by a left-wing government which cares more about popular self-determination and less about the flow of capital. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What would have to change about the EU, or the UK’s relationship with the EU, for you to support continued or renewed membership?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">It would have to ditch the euro, radically overhaul the ECB, drop plans for further political and economic integration, become democratic, accountable and transparent, flatten out destructive hierarchies in the EU27, change the functioning of the European Parliament, and send Jeroen Dijsselbloem to live with Greek fishermen for the rest of his days. None of this seems likely. </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/julian-sayarer-xavier-buxton/everyday-lexiteers-interview">Everyday Lexiteers - an interview</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/julian-sayarer/looking-at-lexit-everyday-lexiteers-interview-3-niall">Looking at Lexit : Everyday Lexiteers - Interview 2 : Niall</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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 Brexit2016 Xavier Buxton Oliver Eagleton Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:06:44 +0000 Oliver Eagleton and Xavier Buxton 119303 at https://www.opendemocracy.net BBC Diversity – getting through The Moral Maze https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/simon-albury/bbc-diversity-getting-through-moral-maze <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"This story starts with an invitation to appear as witness on “The Morality of Diversity”&nbsp;in the BBC Radio 4 “The Moral Maze” series, presented by Michael Buerk..."</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/EnoAlfred(SAed).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/EnoAlfred(SAed).jpg" alt="lead 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'>Eno Alfred Adeogun. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>This story starts with an invitation to appear as witness on “<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bbr3zs">The Morality of Diversity</a>”&nbsp;in the BBC Radio 4 “The Moral Maze” series, presented by Michael Buerk. The programme describes itself as “Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining moral issues behind one of the week’s news stories.”</p> <p>The story doesn’t quite end with this – when I wanted to give an example of BBC failure to recognise BAME merit:</p> <blockquote><p>Albury: ‘Can I give you an example?’</p><p>Buerk: ‘No you can’t…</p><p>Albury: ‘If I can’t give you an example, I might as well leave – if you can’t deal with facts?’</p><p>Buerk: ‘I keep repeating, we haven’t got somebody from the BBC to answer that thing, so you have made your point.’</p><div>Albury: ‘But the BBC know what I’m going to say * – it’s a waste of time.&nbsp; I am giving you examples and you are refusing to hear them.’</div></blockquote> <p>Outside the studio, I tweeted:&nbsp;</p> <p><em>‘</em><em>Why did the BBC invite me to discuss diversity and then refuse to let me give an example of BBC ignoring BAME merit or quote from BBC Board member Tim Davie’s diversity report</em><em>?’</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mail on Sunday <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6002979/I-muzzled-Moral-Maze-trying-criticise-BBC.html">reported</a>: “I was muzzled on Moral Maze for trying to criticise the BBC's record on diversity, says an equality campaigner who appeared on the Radio 4 show” </p><p>A former Ofcom bigwig emailed me:</p> <p><em>“Frankly I too was amazed at how shoddy a production it was, not only the ridiculous attempt to prevent you offering even modest criticism of the BBC, but the fact that their level of thoughtfulness, insight or willingness to debate seriously never got above that of the lounge bar loudmouth. Michael Buerk, a man I have admired in the past, sounded bored and mentally off duty.&nbsp;<br /> I suppose like many people of my background I have slipped into an assumption along the lines of: ‘All broadcasters are now well aware of how hot an issue diversity is and how much scrutiny they’re under. Things are definitely heading in the right direction and doors are being successfully opened everywhere’.&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>In fact, I have said words to that effect pretty regularly over the past few months. I suspect your view is very different and I reckon you’re right and I’m wrong... there needs to be more heavy and sustained booting of a lot of those doors before they’ll start to budge.”</em></p> <p>So, what’s the story?</p><h2><strong>The beginning</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>It all began with an email from a researcher:</p> <blockquote><p><em>Dear Simon,</em></p><p><em>I’m looking for possible contributors to our Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze tomorrow (live from BH London, 8pm Weds July 25th).</em></p><p><em>Our topic for debate is ‘diversity’. A universally-available, collectively-funded service, like the BBC or the police force, is only legitimate if it represents and serves all sections of society – ideally in the right proportions. Unless we measure and adjust diversity, the argument goes, we cannot address the unfair power balance in society.&nbsp; But is diversity a moral good in itself?&nbsp; It doesn’t necessarily make outcomes better or fairer. Why should we strain for diversity of gender or ethnicity in a workforce but not for diversity of intelligence or of political opinion?</em></p><p><em>That’s the territory. If you’d like to join the discussion, please give me a call.</em></p><p><em>Best wishes,</em></p><p><em>Peter</em></p></blockquote> <p>If “That’s the territory”, that’s my territory. I gave Peter a call. I told him, I’d just returned from a visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, I was fired up, that for me diversity in publicly funded organisations was about Justice – publicly funded organisations shouldn’t get the money if they didn’t’ have the mix.</p> <p>Peter, playing devil’s advocate, put some provocative statements. I’d started as a television researcher 49 years ago. I knew Peter wanted to know if I could string words together and I thought he needed to know what I’d say on the show.</p> <p>Peter concluded the BBC would like me to be a witness on the programme. The topic would be Merit versus Diversity and I would have about 7 minutes. I said I’d do it. I thought a witness would be required to give evidence. I started reviewing my evidence.</p><h2><strong>The evidence</strong></h2> <p><strong>1. BBC ignoring BAME merit</strong></p> <p>From Peter’s email, it seemed clear I needed to address the issue of Merit v Diversity in the BBC. I knew the BBC had ignored merit in BAME talent, failed to recognise it when it was under its nose, and had failed to develop BAME talent when it had it. I reminded myself of some clear examples.</p> <p><strong>Nima Elbagir</strong>, for example. Over the past seventeen years, the BBC has often said it needs more BAME talent.&nbsp;Nima Elbagir is a black Muslim woman who speaks fluent Arabic. In 2008, she picked up two Foreign Press Association awards and was shortlisted for Royal Television Society Young Journalist of the Year award.&nbsp;</p> <p>I used to run the RTS. I was running it in 2008. The BBC always has a lot of people at the RTS TV Journalism Awards.&nbsp;In 2008, they will have seen her work and heard her name but, despite the BBC’s enthusiasm for greater diversity, none of them was interested enough to seek her out. The BBC never approached Nima Elbagir. CNN did.</p> <p>Just 8 years later, in 2016, working for CNN, Nima Elbagir won RTS Specialist Journalist of the Year. The RTS jury praised her “determination, bravery and deep humanity.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Nima Elbagir had also been among the three nominations for RTS Television Journalist of the Year 2016 alongside Sky’s Alex Crawford and Channel 4’s Matt Frei. No one from the BBC made the cut that year.</p> <p>Nima Elbagir is a clear example of the BBC not recognising BAME talent when it was right under its nose.</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/rkl_0148.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/rkl_0148.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'>Nima Elbagir with RTS Specialist Journalist of the Year Award. Richard Kendall. RTS. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p><strong>Marcus Ryder.</strong>&nbsp; For eight years, Marcus Ryder worked as Executive Producer BBC Current Affairs Scotland. He wasn’t getting anywhere, despite picking up a fistful of awards, including:</p> <p>1. Winner British Journalism Awards 2015 – Panorama “Catch Me If You Can” on drugs in sport, including Nike’s involvement<br /> 2. Winner Royal Television Society Current Affairs 2015 – “The Dog Factory” which helped change the law in how dogs are raised and sold in the UK<br /> 3. Winner BBC Ruby Awards Best Investigation 2014 – Panorama “The Innocent Serial Killer” into a serious miscarriage of justice of a convicted serial killer.<br /> 4. Winner Foreign Press Awards 2012 – “Who Stole The Jerseys” investigation into football corruption.</p> <p>In Scotland, Marcus Ryder was responsible for running twenty to thirty people.&nbsp;In August 2016, Marcus Ryder quit the BBC and the next month turned up in Beijing as:<span> Chief International Editor China Global Television Network Digital</span></p> <p>From Beijing, Marcus Ryder now oversees several hundred journalists, in a bigger job, for a bigger outfit, with a huge reach.&nbsp;China Global Television Network has&nbsp;a total revenue of $6.6 billion which is larger than CNN and the BBC.</p> <p>From his own analysis of the data in the latest BBC Annual Report, Marcus Ryder <a href="http://blackonwhitetv.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-good-bad-and-ugly-bbc-diversity.html">concluded</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“In 2018, the BBC figures reveal that BAME staff were more likely to leave the BBC than their white counterparts, and even fewer received severance pay when they leave. Most I know have literally just handed in their notice and left, fed up with the lack of progress and glass ceilings.”</p></blockquote> <p>Marcus Ryder is an example of the BBC failing to develop BAME talent when it had it.&nbsp;</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/marcus_ryder_beijing.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/marcus_ryder_beijing.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'>Marcus Ryder. RTS. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p><strong>Eno Alfred. </strong>Eno Alfred was raised in Barnet.&nbsp;She was one of the few students from her Academy who made it to a Russell Group University, LSE. At LSE, Eno was recruited by the&nbsp;Columbia School of Journalism and was given a couple of scholarships for its MA course in New York. Eno specialized in broadcasting. Columbia provides the world’s top training. When you leave Columbia, you’re ready to go – and Eno went!</p> <p>Eno Alfred worked at the United Nations, The Daily Beast, The Atlanta Post, Fortune magazine and Global Trade Review.&nbsp;Like many black people with a commonwealth heritage, Eno aspired to work for the BBC. Eno applied for fifteen jobs at the BBC:</p> <blockquote><p>Broadcast journalist (online news),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>broadcast journalist,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>assistant producer (children's presentations, CBBC &amp; Cbeebies),</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>press officer,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>broadcast journalist (news online, Sheffield),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>broadcast assistant,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>broadcast journalist (BBC breakfast),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>production co-ordinator,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>assistant producer pool (BBC Children's),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>monitoring journalist,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>trainee studio manager (news programmes operations),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>production co-ordinator,&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>assistant producer (The One Show),&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>production trainee scheme,</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>BBC North opportunities pool.</p></blockquote> <p>Despite Eno’s outstanding training and experience, she was not once called for an interview.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eno then tried her luck in Nigeria, where her parents were born. Within a year she was a presenter on Good Morning Nigeria and a reporter/producer on “30 minutes,” an investigative strand.</p> <p>Eno has married. She is now Eno Adeogun and works for Premier Christian Radio.</p> <p>At the BBC, The Moral Maze falls under ‘Religions and Ethics’. BBC Religions and Ethics likes to win Jerusalem Awards for “original, engaging Christian broadcasting.” Two days before this Moral Maze, Eno Adeogun was shortlisted for a Jerusalem Award for her documentary “Egypt Church Bombings: One Year On", visiting Egypt on the first anniversary of the twin suicide bomb attacks at churches on Palm Sunday.</p> <p>Of these three examples, Eno’s was the story I had decided to tell on The Moral Maze. It was the evidence I was banned from giving on the failure of the BBC to recognise BAME merit when it was banging on the door.</p> <p><strong>2. Merit versus diversity</strong></p> <p>In 2007, a <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters">McKinsey report</a> demonstrated that research made it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I wasn’t sure this would impress on The Moral Maze. I’d trotted out my own arguments before but I thought I should see what others were saying.</p> <p>MIT. Via Google, the first thing I found was an <a href="http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/diversity-or-merit">excellent piece</a> “Diversity or Merit” from MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s leading universities.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The author, Chris Peterson, an Assistant Director at MIT Admissions,&nbsp;argued convincingly that Diversity or Merit was a false dichotomy. Bingo! I thought “false dichotomy” would be a good term for the Moral Maze.&nbsp;</p> <p>Peterson quoted what MIT told high school students:</p> <p><em>“When we admit a class of students to MIT, it's as if we're choosing a 1,000-person team to climb a very interesting, fairly rugged mountain&nbsp; – together. We obviously want people who have the training, stamina and passion for the climb. At the same time, we want each to add something useful or intriguing to the team, from a wonderful temperament or sense of humor, to compelling personal experiences, to a wide range of individual gifts, talents, interests and achievements. We are emphatically not looking for a batch of identical perfect climbers; we are looking for a richly varied team of capable people who will support, surprise and inspire each other”.</em></p> <p>Peterson’s article concluded:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“when it comes to each applicant, we are not looking for merit&nbsp;or&nbsp;diversity. We are looking for merit&nbsp;<strong>and</strong>&nbsp;diversity.</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>It's not either/or.</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>It's yes/and.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>In the programme I only had time for one short quote from MIT:&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“we are looking for a richly varied team of capable people who will support, surprise and inspire each other.”&nbsp;</em></p> <p>Next, I found “<a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/merit-vs-equality-argument/">Merit vs Equality</a>? The argument that gender quotas violate meritocracy is based on fallacies”.&nbsp;The author was&nbsp;Professor&nbsp;Rainbow&nbsp;Murray, at Queen Mary University School of Politics and International Relations. The summary said:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“The case against gender quotas often involves the argument of merit. The logic is that we should recruit on the basis of merit, not gender; quotas recruit on the basis of gender and so are by definition unmeritocratic. This is a myth used to justify the privilege-based status quo, argues Rainbow Murray. By focusing on political recruitment, she explains why merit and quotas are not mutually exclusive but that in fact, quotas are essential to a meritocratic system for they open up politics to everyone.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>I hadn’t got far into this impressive piece before I realised the name Rainbow Murray rang a bell. I checked the list of Moral Maze witnesses and saw that Rainbow was to be one of them. I found her email and told Rainbow:&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“I think you can do this better than me. My plan is to lean on specific compelling examples where BBC has ignored BAME merit to illustrate the false dichotomy. I can’t see that we need to speak ahead of the show. We’re both on the same side.”</em></p> <h2><strong>* Albury: “But the BBC know what I’m going to say…..”</strong>&nbsp;</h2> <p>I’d started my career on top current affairs programmes, Granada’s World In Action and BBC’s 24 Hours. Later, I’d been involved in broadcasting legislation and regulation and been a founder of an ITV company, Meridian.&nbsp;</p> <p>I put myself in the Moral Maze producer’s shoes. It was a live programme, always risky, so I emailed some comfort with the sources for what I might say. I never imagined this would cause such intense discomfort. I said:</p> <p><em>“I have attached a Word document which I think it might be useful to circulate to all participants when they arrive before the programme.”&nbsp;</em></p> <p>It was the list of BBC jobs Eno Alfred had gone for. I wouldn’t have time to read them out and I wanted the panel to know what they were.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I went on:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“ I am so used to sourcing everything I say that I am sending you some key links:</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>The latest BBC Diversity report</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/bame-career-progression-and-culture-report.pdf">http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/bame-career-progression-and-culture-report.pdf</a></em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/simon-albury/diversity-at-bbc-at-last-significant-progress-but-still-long-way-to-go">https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/simon-albury/diversity-at-bbc-at-last-significant-progress-but-still-long-way-to-go</a></em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="http://blackonwhitetv.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-good-bad-and-ugly-bbc-diversity.html">http://blackonwhitetv.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-good-bad-and-ugly-bbc-diversity.html</a></em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>What I have to say about ring fenced funding and my criticism of the BBC approach (never challenged) is in my evidence to the Lords Communications Committee:</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-committee/bbc-charter-renewal-public-purposes-and-licence-fee/written/21757.html">http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-committee/bbc-charter-renewal-public-purposes-and-licence-fee/written/21757.html</a></em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-committee/bbc-charter-renewal-public-purposes-and-licence-fee/written/25513.html">http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-committee/bbc-charter-renewal-public-purposes-and-licence-fee/written/25513.html</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/04/the-bbcs-diversity-strategy-is-not-good-enough">https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/04/the-bbcs-diversity-strategy-is-not-good-enough</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em>I have contacted everyone I plan to mention by name.&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><br /></em></p><p><em><span>Strictly Confidential</span></em></p><p><em>…….</em><em>&nbsp;Former&nbsp;DCMS broadcasting Minister Ed&nbsp;Vaizey has agreed to me saying something he told in in private and I am&nbsp;also seeking similar comfort via Matt Hancock's SPAD.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>This&nbsp;may seem like overkill to you but any success I have had on the issue has depended on being unchallengeable and&nbsp;respecting confidences.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>Later I told the BBC:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“ I want to quote Martin Luther King on conscience and say</em></p><p><em>"When it comes to BAME employment on UK programmes, the BBC has had no conscience and it has not done what is right. But politicians like Ed Vaizey and Matt Hancock have seen what was right on diversity and have acted on a moral imperative."&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>I think that is combative and provocative and should lead to an engaging live debate - for which I am now very prepared.</em></p><p><em>OK?”</em></p></blockquote> <p>I was never told any of this was not OK. It seemed to be perfectly in line with how the programme described itself. I was exchanging emails with Rainbow Murray, when I got a call from the producer. When it was over, I told Rainbow: </p><p><em>“Your email crossed with a call from the producer who is now clearly worried about what I might say about the BBC. He wanted me to talk about other broadcasters and I had to tell him Ofcom had said the BBC was far behind Channel 4 and that this year on like for like data I expected it to be behind ITV.”</em></p> <p>Picking up on the producer’s anxiety, I had offered to let him find someone to take my place on the show. Now I know why this offer wasn’t accepted. To its credit, the BBC had gone to some possible BAME witnesses before it came to me. It hadn’t found it easy to find someone to say “Yes”.</p><h2><strong>Naïve</strong></h2> <p>I had been naive. I had never properly listened to The Moral Maze. I’d tried to listen to an edition recommended by the researcher but, in the end, I had given up bored.&nbsp;</p> <p>I hadn’t realised that you aren’t give seven minutes to give the evidence you had discussed with the BBC. You are given seven minutes in which a couple of the stars of the show, the panellists, use you as the subject on which to demonstrate their cleverness.</p> <p>After hearing the programme, an experienced broadcaster emailed me, “I’m assuming that you’d never listened to it if you’d ever heard it before, though you would have got that they have no interest in evidence whatsoever - it’s a really dull North London dinner party.”</p> <p>Nevertheless, although I didn’t get to present my evidence, I did get to say some things worth saying and I did override Buerk’s objection to quote a recent ground-breaking report, sponsored by BBC board member Tim Davie, which admitted for the first time:</p> <p>“Figures in the Nations and Regions (for BAME employees) are very low even though many BBC locations are in cities and towns with high BAME populations. Numbers of BAME employees in the creative areas are also low”.</p> <p>If you’re wondering about my other points, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bbr3zs">you can find me 03.26 into the show</a>. &nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Reviews</strong></h2> <p>Somewhat dazed, after my bit, I was led out of the studio to the Green Room. On my phone, two messages were waiting. The first, a word from a distinguished actor, “Bravo.” Actors know that’s what you need to hear when you step off the stage, whatever your performance. The second from a British Council bigwig, “You were brilliant. You are going to be banned by the BBC!”</p> <p>The most you can hope for on such programmes is that people on the same side of the debate will be happy with what you said.&nbsp;Others were not impressed. One tweeted:</p> <p>“Just heard you on the&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/moralmaze?src=hash">#moralmaze</a> podcast. You are the most pompous, misinformed, illiberal crypto-stalinist idiot I have ever heard. You should be banned from the airwaves for ever so we don’t have to hear your tortuous dribbling crap ever again.&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/snowflake?src=hash">#snowflake</a>”&nbsp;</p> <p>Debating diversity on and with the BBC is truly entering a moral maze.</p><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"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </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> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk UK Civil society Conflict Culture Equality Ideas International politics Simon Albury Thu, 16 Aug 2018 11:42:52 +0000 Simon Albury 119300 at https://www.opendemocracy.net