OurKingdom https://opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/3031/all en The BBC charter renewal, seen through a Nordic lens https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/christian-nissen/bbc-charter-renewal-seen-through-nordic-lens <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The ex-Director General of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation compares the British and Nordic debates about the future of public service media.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/TmgpGIsihWcXOoYssEyNDm3choC87mXsuKZHJ5Y0-6Q/mtime:1440766040/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/11220133384_37691b5a39_k_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/AjUOfJbbAJAJwt9SFPTyb_0i7glyYhNa3zmBwfDozyI/mtime:1440766028/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/11220133384_37691b5a39_k_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="227" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Flickr/ Johnny Micheletto</span></span></span></p><p>The BBC is unique. It is the oldest and largest Public Service Media (PSM) organisation. No other media company has radio and television programmes with a comparable global reach. The British approach to handling the paradox of a publicly-owned and state-regulated media institution, while allowing a relatively high degree of editorial independence from parliament and government intervention, is the envy of many less fortunate societies.&nbsp;</p> <p>In spite of being so unique the BBC enjoys a general, yet questionable, reputation as ‘the mother of Public Service Media’. It is a source of inspiration, not only regarding its programming and management but also in terms of its governance and the way public, political control is exercised. For this reason, observers in many countries - both those in favour of radical change and those who fear it - are following the current British charter renewal process with bated breath. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>There can be few other places in the world where the British charter renewal process attracts greater interest than the five Nordic countries, where observers resemble the fans of competing teams at a premier league football match. Some have high hopes for a new BBC charter that will pave the way for a revised – albeit significantly diminished – remit for public media. Other fans are concerned that a radical overhaul of the BBC will legitimize similar reforms back home. The reason for looking west across the North Sea is not so much a search for inspiration from the substance of the renewal process itself than for potential support of an ideological, cultural or political nature.&nbsp;</p> <p>Opponents in the debate on the future of public media in the Nordic countries are divided along lines very similar to the UK. Commercial media and the printed press expect to benefit from a reduced PSM role. Incidentally, they also tend to follow a PSM-critical line in their journalistic news coverage. They join forces with centre-right political parties working to attenuate the role of the public sector to give the market more breathing space. The other side consists primarily of centre left-wing political parties that historically played a leading role in building the Nordic welfare societies. They have few allies, and most of these are to be found among media academics.&nbsp;</p> <p>Parallels to the British charter renewal process can also be found in commissions and public hearings in the Nordic region. Four Nordic countries are either conducting or contemplating some kind of PSM/media policy review. The topics are very similar to those tabled by the Tory government, although the agendas are somewhat more open. The only significant difference from the UK charter debate is the question of PSM governance and regulation, which is seldom raised in the Nordic region. The turmoil surrounding the BBC Board and Trust is viewed from afar with some astonishment.&nbsp;</p> <p>The opinion of those in favour of radical reform can be grouped under the following three main headings:</p><ol><li>The whole <em>raison d'être</em> of PSM, especially its size and remit, should be reconsidered in the light of the increasing diversity of media market – both on the supply and demand side.&nbsp; </li><li>The traditional universality in PSM programming harks back to the days of national media monopolies. PSM should focus on content areas not catered for by the ‘free market”. </li><li>Flat rate – and compulsory – licence fee funding has become an anachronism in a media market characterized by individual, on-demand use. The licence fee should be replaced by some form of subscription, perhaps in combination with revenue from taxation.&nbsp;</li></ol><p>Although these elements of reform have been debated for years, they are now being presented with renewed strength as unavoidable consequences of the evolving digital, multi-media environment. This gives their supporters – both in the UK and in the Nordic countries - the advantage of a proactive image. By contrast, the supporters of PSM institutions lack the rhetorical strength of being on the offensive. They might be right in arguing that the societal role of PSM in a digital environment is more important than ever, and that the speed of change in media habits and user behaviour is somewhat exaggerated. From a communicative point of view, however, such a defensive stance is not hugely convincing at a time when everybody seems to be experiencing the winds of change.&nbsp;</p> <p>While there are numerous similarities between the British and the Nordic debate on PSM, then, there are also significant differences. The most obvious relates to population - market size and the role of PSM in promoting or defending cultural identities. Compared with the UK, the Nordic countries are small, with populations of between 5 and 8 million each (in the case of Iceland only 300,000). The role ascribed to the BBC of ‘Bringing the UK to the world’ is reversed in the mission of the Nordic PSMs. One of their main tasks is to sustain national cultural identities and languages at home in the face of competition from a very open international media market. Nordic viewers are “exposed” to a great deal of international content, both on a limited number of channels from domestic broadcasters and from numerous non-domestic channels and platforms. Furthermore, most major independent production companies in each of the Nordic countries are affiliates of global players. For this reason, national PSM companies are widely regarded as an indispensable part of a national, cultural ‘defence’ system with roots in a special Nordic tradition of adult education.&nbsp;</p> <p>This defence of cultural identity goes a long way to explaining why the political climate vis a vis Nordic PSM institutions is more favourable than in the UK. Most PSM agreements with Nordic governments (similar to the BBC charter) build on broad alliances extending beyond the governing coalition in power. Furthermore, the political cultures in the Nordic region with their multi-party systems and a tradition of coalition governments have certain corporatist traits. During election campaigns, political parties may choose to differentiate themselves in their media policy by suggesting radical interventions. Nevertheless, even they want to be part of a broad political consensus. Parties in opposition are usually willing to make the necessary compromises to influence solutions that may outlive the next change of government.</p> <p>On balance, it is fair to say that there are more similarities than differences between the UK and the Nordic countries when it comes to PSM models and the reform debate - more so than just about any other region in the world. The initial scepticism, expressed above concerning the BBC being “the mother of all public broadcasters” is based on the fact that very few countries outside north-western Europe have PSM institutions and a culture of PSM governance that are similar to the BBC. The letter of the law and the regulatory mechanisms might be inspired by – or even copied from - the British system. The underlying reality, however, is usually very different. Put very simply, PSM systems outside north-western Europe are generally characterised by at least one or more of the following four traits: low market share /reach; a program schedule that focuses more on entertainment than on information and education; lack of trust in news coverage because of tight government control and chronic political intervention; insufficient funding.&nbsp;</p> <p>What accounts for this regional difference in PSM systems? Why is the North Western region of Europe so special? Geographical proximity does not provide the answer. Neither do similarities in economic and market conditions in the media sector. We have to understand media systems and the way PSM is handled in a broad societal context rather than that of a media market. The most plausible explanation for the similarities between PSM in North Western Europe is that Public Service Broadcasting here was developed as an integral part of the collectively financed welfare societies of the industrial era. Until recently, it has been synonymous with ‘mass-media’, delivering the same content at exactly the same time to all citizens, funded collectively by the licence fee.&nbsp;</p> <p>This postulated link between media and its societal foundations doesn’t just explain the strength of PSMs in North Western Europe thus far. In coming years it will also become a formidable challenge to Public Service Media. We are currently witnessing a gradual shift from the collective mass culture of industrial society towards a more individualized knowledge society. There is a concomitant shift from ‘citizens in a society’ to ‘individual consumers in a market’. This runs parallel to a shift in the way media content is distributed; from mainstream broadcasting to multi-platform, on-demand delivery catering to individual interests and needs.</p> <p>Some will welcome this shift and see it as liberation from the hegemony of a century of collective state-controlled media. Others will see PSM as one of the few bulwarks capable of sustaining national culture and enhancing social and cultural cohesion in a globalized, trans-national world.</p> <p>On the face of it, the British charter renewal process and its close parallels in the Nordic countries are merely dealing with questions of the future of Public Service Media seen as part of a media market. Further down the road, matters will not be that simple. Answers cannot be found within the usual framework of PSM and its media environment. The scope is far broader, requiring reflection on the core values of our cultures and the kind of societies we want our grandchildren to be part of.</p><p><strong><em><span>If you want to keep OurBeeb debating the BBC, </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>please chip in</span></a><span> what you can afford.</span></em></strong></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="/ourbeeb/nick-fraser/bbc-and-its-poetry">The BBC and its poetry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/alex-connock/britain%E2%80%99s-creative-kickstarter-bbc">Britain’s creative kickstarter: the BBC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/david-elstein/red-alert-for-bbc-response-to-enders-analysis">Red alert for the BBC: a response to Enders Analysis</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb OurKingdom Christian Nissen Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:27:58 +0000 Christian Nissen 95566 at https://opendemocracy.net No right to despair https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/deborah-padfield/no-right-to-despair <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As we enter into five years of Conservative rule, those of us who are relatively privileged need to be reminded of a vital principle: we have no right to despair. We won't pay the highest price.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/LWVpDloPK8CQkoJ6HfYssaettpqmpZdROQ2Fzmzu9wM/mtime:1440583232/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/18993988515_56a327dba2_z.jpg" alt="Anti-austerity protest in London" title="Anti-austerity march" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>We can't forget the less 'newsworthy' struggles. Flickr/Michael Candelori. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Protest depends on hope. Naming wrongs, painting a picture of their effects, analysing their causes, exploring the alternatives: all of these depend upon the presence of hearing minds whose response can have an impact. </p> <p>Just three months into a five-year stretch of elective dictatorship, its bars now being strengthened by the creation of new Conservative Lords, it is hard to hold on to such hope.</p> <p>Yet the other principle of protest is no less clear: the relatively privileged – of whom I am one – have no right to despair. It is not we who will pay the highest price.</p> <p>Last week I encountered two women, in two different contexts, with very different backgrounds. Both, though, are in their late 50s, un-partnered and have either no or no effective family supports. Neither has a private pension entitlement. Both have worked or looked for work their entire adult lives. One is a care worker, doing long, physically and emotionally hard hours on the minimum wage. The other has three zero-hour jobs, low-paid though relatively skilled, all of which deliver highly erratic bunches of work; all too often deserts of no-work alternate with tsunamis of too much, so that she risks failing (and hence losing) one or other employer. </p> <p>One is also without neighbourly and almost without friendly companionship. She has moved multiple times in her life; her current housing is short term. Unless she can find full-time and better-paid work, she will be unable to remain in the area because of high rentals. She will have to move again, start yet again.</p> <p>Both are tired. The care worker is deeply so. She is gazing ahead at eight more years' work before she reaches state pension age. Perhaps by then, the retirement age will have receded still further. Is it like the horizon: one never reaches it? For many middle-aged women, it has begun to seem so. Knowing my benefit expertise she talked to me because she just hoped, desperately, quietly, that there might be some source of money that would enable her to reduce her working hours – some easing of the relentlessly stony path ahead of her. From where she's standing, the only likely change she can see is the ever-present risk of losing even what she has: neither job nor house is secure. </p> <p>I could suggest nothing. There are no benefits to help her beyond what she already has. To cut her hours would be to risk debt. She smiled at me and went quietly away. </p> <p>Neither of these women is newsworthy. Their situation is a common one. Neither comes near breaches of human rights. They are not absolutely poor. They (currently) have food, a roof and warmth. It is simply that their lives are narrowed, greyed out, by their relative poverty. Their intelligence is under-used; their power to give their rich emotional strengths is abused and sapped, or disregarded. </p> <p>No one notices. They carry on as best they can, in this land of plenty. The restaurants and cafes, clothes shops and designer kitchen outlets overflow with custom in the rich city where I live. In the jobs they do, these women service that wealth; they are members of the massive workforce which makes it possible. They pass quietly by its outlets. </p> <p>Two other people will not leave my memory. Youngsters, partners, 19 and 20. They're not care leavers. Not (so far as I know) victims of abuse. Nothing newsworthy. Simply, their family homes have fallen apart. Nor do they want to return: they're not wanted 'at home' and there's no room for them. They want to set up together, work and make a future. At the moment, they're sofa-surfing, each with a different friend. </p> <p>Only, how can they do it? Both have jobs, part time, minimum wage and insecure of course, but jobs. Unfortunately, even with housing benefit they can't afford the rents anywhere in reach of those jobs. Nor can they afford a car – not without increasing the debt that's already starting to burden them. Where in this wide world of England are they to go, where they can achieve their modest goal? Who will advise them? Who will be on their side when they run into the difficulties that pounce and snap and bite at every corner of our complex, unforgiving 'society'? </p> <p>And when/if Cameron and Osborne remove the housing benefit that is their sole external support (as under-25s without a child, already they don't get working tax credit), what will they do then? </p> <p>I have no right to despair. There are indeed glimmers of hope. Is the support for Jeremy Corbyn a sign that people are starting to say NO, as people in Scotland started to say NO until sufficient numbers were trapped by English fear-peddling politics and the empty last-minute promises destined – all-too-inevitably – to be watered down to suit the convenience of the status quo? </p> <p>It isn't really NO we need to say. It's YES, to a life-giving society not structured around the fathomless appetite of bulk shareholders, property investors and their friends. A society perhaps less globally powerful, less absolutely rich, more equitably so. </p> <p>We need to bring together people of skill, experience, pragmatism, on the side of this YES. It has to work. Greece shows all too clearly that saying Yes from a position of weakness does not work. Even where IMF says the debt is unsustainable, the relentless grasp of creditor-nations does not ease; the relentless claim that there is only one perspective from which economic realism can be seen pounds nightmarishly on. </p> <p>No right to despair. I just wish there were some way of speaking to those relaxed, laughing crowds in their bright clothes who throng into restaurants in Cambridge. I wish they could, however momentarily, feel the presence of those quiet women and those desperate youngsters. I wish they could become aware that their stiletto sandals walk upon those unseen lives; that nothing but chance gives them the good things and those women and youngsters none of them; that there has to be another way.&nbsp; </p> <p>I wish my own awareness of privilege could be more fruitful.&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/shaun-lawson/how-to-stop-boris-labour-liberal-democrats-and-what-left-must-now-do">How to stop Boris? Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and what the left must now do</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/sarah-perrigo/postelection-analysis-and-what-needs-to-be-done">A post-election analysis and what needs to be done</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/vickie-cooper/austerity-as-bureaucratized-and-organized-violence">Austerity as bureaucratized and organized violence</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Civil society Culture Democracy and government Deborah Padfield Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:20:07 +0000 Deborah Padfield 95497 at https://opendemocracy.net UK ‘Fairtrade’ Universities miss the point: Of both fair trade alternatives and the real function of universities https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/alastair-m-smith/uk-%E2%80%98fairtrade%E2%80%99-universities-miss-point-of-both-fair-trade-alternatives-a <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fairtrade Universities focus too much on consumption and not enough on what universities are for: ideas.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/sXzarTN0IqoWUCht0XfDUn1VQCt012LwZ5ZxRpm4AZg/mtime:1440596226/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Fairtrade-Schools-identity_RGB_POS-300x224.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/xe-9U23-W_FMIWNVxRAgZkueeULWJWaRG9AEtErCKm8/mtime:1440596190/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Fairtrade-Schools-identity_RGB_POS-300x224.jpg" alt="" title="" width="300" height="224" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Following the success of <a href="http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/get-involved/in-your-community/towns">Fairtrade Towns</a> in the UK (where communities can be accredited for supporting consumption of Fairtrade goods), the Fairtrade Foundation launched certification <a href="http://schools.fairtrade.org.uk/">schemes for schools</a>, and <a href="http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/get-involved/in-your-community/universities/becoming-a-fairtrade-university">colleges and universities</a>. This initiative has been hugely successful: there are over 4,000 schools and well over 160 universities and colleges registered. Moreover, Wales and Scotland have gone further to work for independent recognition as <a href="http://fairtradewales.com/fair-trade-nation">Fair Trade Nations</a> on the back of these various social certifications, and the phenomena has spread internationally <a href="http://www.fairtradetowns.org/">to Europe and beyond</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">There is no doubt that these certification programs have done important work to draw attention to the continuing issues of international trade justice: which, while previously marginalised as a concern of the developing world, has recently been highlighted in the fallout over proposals for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP. However, there are now important questions to be asked in UK Further and Higher Education, as well as by members of the fair trade movement, about the focus of the Fairtrade Colleges and Universities programme. Two key questions in particular are: how should we define what we accept as fair trade activity, and on what basis should an institution concerned with research and/or teaching be acknowledged as making a notable contribution to the fair trade movement?</p><p dir="ltr">The History of the Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Schools/Universities</p><p dir="ltr">The UK’s <a href="http://www.fairtrade.net/history-of-fairtrade.html">Fairtrade Foundation emerged</a> as a radical organisation offering independent certification for products originating with marginalised developing world farmers. In contrast to the distorted nature of international commodity trading, the Fairtrade Mark guaranteed UK consumers that goods were commercialised under conditions aimed to return as much benefit to the least advantaged in the supply chain. However, soon after its creation, the Fairtrade Foundation merged with similar certifiers in other countries in Europe, North America, and currently functions as the UK’s licencing body of an international network of certification: now known as <a href="http://www.fairtrade.net/history-of-fairtrade.html">Fairtrade International</a>. In its current form, the Fairtrade Foundation is primarily responsible for 1) awarding licences to retailers and other stakeholders to apply the certification mark on their products, and 2) growing the market for Fairtrade certified products. </p><p dir="ltr">In the process of its transformation, many trade justice advocates have argued that the requirements set for Fairtrade certification have been weakened: as in order to encourage participation by large commercial plays, such as the supermarkets, less has been required of these actors to support certified producers. Despite this however, Fairtrade remains a positive option for consumers who wish to consider justice in their purchasing, and has been <a href="http://orca.cf.ac.uk/48431/">shown to be of significant benefit when deployed in the right situations</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">As part of its marketing strategy, the Fairtrade Foundation adopted a proposition of Bruce Crowther (a vet and passionate trade justice advocate from Garstang, Lancashire) to develop recognition for fair trade towns: where the community undertakes particularly notable activities to promote international trade justice. However, given the function of the Fairtrade Foundation, <a href="http://orca.cf.ac.uk/10706/1/2011SmithAMPhD.pdf">the recognition became strongly focused around the promotion of goods with the Fairtrade mark</a>; and the scheme for Fairtrade Schools and Universities has adopted the same. </p><p dir="ltr">Examining the requirements of Fairtrade Universities, these are largely focused on the consumption of Fairtrade goods. <a href="http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/get-involved/in-your-community/universities/becoming-a-fairtrade-university">Goals require that the University</a> or College: 1) passes a Fairtrade policy statement, incorporating the five goals and which is reviewed annually to improve and develop engagement; 2) stocks Fairtrade products including food and cotton sale in all campus shops/cafés/restaurants/bars on campus; 3) uses Fairtrade products at all meetings/events hosted by the university/college and the Student Union (or equivalent), including internal management meetings; 4) organises Fairtrade Campaigns to “increase the understanding of Fairtrade and consumption of Fairtrade products”, although there should also be “student events, campaigns and raising awareness of trade justice as well as integrating Fairtrade into subject teaching where appropriate”, and; 5) sets up a Fairtrade Steering Group to coordinate activities and certification renewal. </p><p dir="ltr">In many ways, the Fairtrade certification in the UK arguably fits the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/liberalism-in-neoliberal-world/liberalism-and-education">neoliberalisation of the university</a>: where a focus on service, business and consumption, subordinates critical approaches to the management of knowledge generation and learning beneath the imperatives of market competition. However, for those who believe the Higher and Further Education must be much more, there are alternative roles for which institutions should celebrate their active participation in international trade justice.</p><p dir="ltr">Alternative Fair Trade perspectives: Fair trade universities and knowledge in Latin America</p><p dir="ltr">Fairtrade certification emerged from a much longer history of informal fair trade activities (uncertified but based on trust, information and critical engagement). For this reason, the wider movement for fair trade (expressed as two words, as opposed to the unified and trademarked name owned by Fairtrade International) recognises the importance of a <a href="http://wfto.com/fair-trade/charter-fair-trade-principles">wide range of practices to promote trade justice</a>. For example, the <a href="http://wfto.com">World Fair Trade Organisation</a> is as old as the Fairtrade system, but focuses on lower volume crafts rather than bulk commodities – and has been less successful in having it certification recognised by the public, largely due to adopting a less business focused approach. </p><p dir="ltr">Moreover, in Latin America, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers (CLAC), also campaigns for the promotion of fair trade, and is <a href="http://orca.cf.ac.uk/10706/1/2011SmithAMPhD.pdf">arguable the original home of what subsequently became the Fairtrade certification system</a>. However, for a long time, many of the members have been vocally dissatisfied with how Fairtrade International has developed the concept of fair trade: particularly in the transition from exclusive support for small producers to certify agricultural plantations (some argue to satisfy the demands of supermarkets), and the shift from dedicated, socially embedded supportive relationships (an emphasis on the quality of fair trade relationships), to institutionalised certification and marketing (to an emphasis on the quantity of fair trade products sold). </p><p dir="ltr">Setting aside the deep and complex differences of perspectives on supply chain organisation, CLAC and WFTO-Latin America developed their own “<a href="http://ciudades-comerciojusto.org/">Latin American Fair Trade Towns and Villages</a> programme”: presented recently during the last <a href="http://www.bristolfairtrade.org.uk/">Fair Trade Towns International Conference in Bristol</a>. According to CLAC representative, Marco Coscione, producers and artisans should be more visible in fair trade processes, and public authorities must recognize and work with them, to develop local fair trade strategies.</p><p dir="ltr">As a result of this difference of approach, CLAC also launched the “<a href="http://www.clac-comerciojusto.org/ulcj">Latin American Universities for Fair Trade</a>” campaign in August 2014. Here the focus of the criteria is reversed and widened to include different fair trade approaches at the local, national and international levels. Instead of prioritising the consumption of goods, the criteria focus on the creation of knowledge for trade justice by colleges and universities. Therefore, there must be at least one research project or publication per year focused on Fair Trade, the Solidarity Economy or Responsible Consumption (and so not necessarily about fair trade) and at least, one course per academic year in which these issues are addressed. Naturally, the university should also adopt a policy of ethical procurement and supply. However, in place of focusing on the consumption of one fair trade label (e.g. Fairtrade), institutions can buy directly from organizations of small producers of fair trade, or purchase goods accredited by the WFTO, Fundeppo&nbsp;(<a href="http://home.spp.coop/SPP/index.php?lang=en">Small Producers’ Symbol</a>) or any other democratically organized small producers’ organization of the local or national solidarity economy sector. </p><p dir="ltr">What the UK Universities can learn from the Global Fair Trade Movement</p><p dir="ltr">The growth of fair trade in the UK is a unique story. The Fairtrade Foundation has undoubtedly strengthened and widened the public recognition of trade justice issues through Fairtrade certification of towns, schools, colleges and universities. Having said this, where other countries have taken on the ideas and tools, many alternative models have emerged. <a href="http://orca.cf.ac.uk/69199/">As I have analysed elsewhere</a>, in Australia and New Zealand for example, ‘place based fair trade certification’ is administered by an independent organisation that recognises not just Fairtrade International but other certification marks. Moreover, as noted above, the CLAC producer network has placed the emphasis on acknowledging universities that participate in the creation and teaching of knowledge for trade justice, and a more socially and environmentally embedded economy in general. Therefore, for me, this approach is much better aligned with the primary function of a university, to create knowledge for social good; and therefore, helps to resist the slow reduction of UK educational institutions to little more than buyers and sellers of goods and services. </p><p dir="ltr">Given recent news about the institutionalisation of trade governance under the TTIP – which many <a href="https://www.tni.org/en/briefing/ttip-why-rest-world-should-beware">independent analysts</a> see as little more than the further promotion of corporate interests ahead of those of &nbsp;sovereign governments and their citizens – it is imperative that the UK population engages with the issues of trade justice. The only way this can be achieved, is if those with the privilege of a university education are involved in active and critical knowledge generation around the related issues. </p><p dir="ltr">Now is the time to rethink what it means for a university to claim an active and notable role in the global fair trade movement: buying certified coffee is no longer anywhere near good enough, and the independent and critical analysis of both mainstream and alternative economic governance is now essential.</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Alastair M Smith Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:15:25 +0000 Alastair M Smith 95510 at https://opendemocracy.net Labour values, the NHS and me https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/marcus-chown/labour-values-nhs-and-me <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One victim of the 'labour purge' explains why he wanted to vote in Labour's leadership election - and why he'd supported the National Health Action Party, despite being a lifelong Labour voter.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/TQUSCKaD_Zoo1kLBsMCPLyvKNaYQvPBLO49HcyseyCs/mtime:1440667470/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/labour%20ballot.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/hw-NE7rqdm1s2IJs_H3ISWPEFuw3wJu04DscjNzuIAU/mtime:1440667443/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/labour%20ballot.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="192" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Last week I received an e-mail from the Labour Party telling me it had reason to believe I did not support its aims and beliefs and it was excluding me from voting in the leadership election. I have voted Labour in every election since I was 18. I have been a full member of the Labour Party and even campaigned on the doorstep. But I did not agree with </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/kailash-chand/moment-of-honesty-is-required-new-labour-began-dismantling-of-our-nhs">Labour’s policy of privatisation of the NHS</a><span> (public funding of private health companies, according to the WHO definition, is privatisation). So I joined a party, formed by doctors, nurses and patients, to truly defend the NHS.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>David Cameron explicitly promised "no more top-down reorganisation of the NHS". But, when the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they introduced the Health &amp; Social Care bill, which they had concealed from the electorate during the election and which was bigger than the bill that had created the NHS in 1948. It removed the government's "duty to provide" healthcare for you and your family, a founding principle of the NHS, replacing it by a mere "duty to promote". Even the health minister would no longer have responsibility for your health. It would be left to the "market". </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/marcus-chown/great-nhs-robbery">In effect, the bill made possible to gradual abolition of the NHS</a><span>.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">My publisher had got me to do Twitter and, at the start of 2012, I noticed a tweet about Dr Clive Peedell, a consultant oncologist, who was trying to highlight the H&amp;SC bill by running 160 miles to Downing Street from the former South Wales constituency of Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS. I was training with my wife, an NHS nurse, for the London Marathon. So, on a freezing day, we jogged out to Notting Hill. And that is how I met Clive and ran the final kilometres to Downing Street with him and Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs (and her Jack Russell, Lucy). Nine months later, Clive <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/clive-peedell/national-health-action-party-and-why-you-should-join">founded the National Health Action Party</a> with ex-MP Dr Richard Taylor and other doctors, nurses and patients who were appalled at the way all the main political parties were wedded to the privatisation of the NHS, which all evidence shows is worse for patients. </p><p class="MsoNormal">I can't remember how I got invited to an executive meeting (I should stress I have never been on the executive committee) but I remember, when it came to "any other business", saying the party's Twitter feed was full of acronyms and doctor jargon. Little did I know that, Clive, sitting across the table, was NHA's Twitter feed! To his credit, over a cup of tea and cake, he said: "Why don't you help with our Twitter? Here’s our username and password.” </p><p class="MsoNormal">NHA saw the London euro election of 2014 as an opportunity to raise public awareness of what the government was doing to the NHS, which the UK media had failed to cover or critique, ignoring the overwhelming level of opposition. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/campaigning-lewisham-gp-to-stand-in-euro-elections-for-new-national-health-pa">NHA's candidate was inner London GP Dr Louise Irvine</a>, who had run the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign. When a court supported her and ruled that the government had acted illegally in downgrading Lewisham’s A&amp;E and maternity departments, the government simply changed the law. Every party was allowed 8 candidates, in the London euro election, with all accumulated votes going to Louise. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/marcus-chown/%E2%80%9C-worst-thing-uk-government-has-done-to-its-people-in-my-lifetime%E2%80%9D">I got asked to stand and surprised myself by saying, yes</a>. The others included an A&amp;E consultant, a nurse, trainee surgeon, and actor and comedian Rufus Hound. </p><p class="MsoNormal">I should point out that NHA is not a party of power. It has resources only to contest a handful of seats. In the 2015 GE election it was careful not to inadvertently help a Conservative into power, recognising that the Conservatives are a bigger danger to the NHS than Labour. </p><p class="MsoNormal">And so I come to the point of this statement. Rules are rules. I understand that. And, yes, I have helped another party, which rules me out from voting in the leadership election. But NHA, the party I have helped, stands for exactly what the Labour Party should be standing for. I joined NHA in desperation because Labour had been heavily involved in <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/milburn-nhs-and-britains-revolving-door">privatisation of the NHS</a>, and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/peterborough-hospital-nhs-and-britains-privatisation-racket">PFIs</a>, which have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/john-lister/bart%E2%80%99s-flagship-hits-rocks-of-pfi">plunged hospitals into enormous debt</a>. Admittedly, Labour’s 2015 manifesto called for the repeal of the H&amp;SC Act. But it pledged simply to “stop the drive towards privatisation” and “cap the profits” of existing private providers. The party said nothing about ending the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/billions-of-wasted-nhs-cash-noone-wants-to-mention">wasteful “internal market”, which is estimated to divert 15 per cent of NHS money</a> away from patients into bureaucracy. </p><p class="MsoNormal">It seems odd to be accused of not sharing Labour values when I have always voted for Labour and support a party whose values should be shared by the Labour Party – the desire for a publicly funded, publicly delivered NHS, which <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/james-lazou/cameron-is-wrecking-our-worldbeating-health-system">all evidence shows is the best system for patients</a> not to mention the most cost-effective and efficient. </p><p><span>NHA would never have formed in the first place if Labour had been true to its values on the NHS (</span><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dear-mrmiliband--full-text-of-letter-from-national-health-action-party-9745974.html">here</a><span> is what NHA wants to Labour to do). It does not seem right to accuse me of not sharing Labour values simply because I have criticised its NHS policy. I would like the Labour party to get into power with a leader who is committed to a publicly funded, publicly delivered NHS, which is what is wanted by the overwhelming majority of people in the UK.</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="/ourkingdom/michael-chessum/great-labour-purge-is-underway">The great Labour purge is underway</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/kailash-chand/moment-of-honesty-is-required-new-labour-began-dismantling-of-our-nhs">A moment of honesty is required - New Labour began the dismantling of our NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/blairites-were-to-blame-for-nhss-biggest-disgrace-why-should-we-listen-to-the">The Blairites were to blame for the NHS&#039;s biggest disgrace - why should we listen to them now?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/clive-peedell/national-health-action-party-and-why-you-should-join">The National Health Action party, and why you should join</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/milburn-nhs-and-britains-revolving-door">Milburn, the NHS, and Britain&#039;s &#039;revolving door&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/james-lazou/cameron-is-wrecking-our-worldbeating-health-system">Cameron is wrecking our world-beating health system</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> ourNHS OurKingdom ourNHS Labour Party Marcus Chown Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:24:12 +0000 Marcus Chown 95538 at https://opendemocracy.net Yes, climate activists need to win over the right. But we need to win over the centre left again too. https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/leo-barasi/yes-climate-activists-need-to-win-over-right-but-we-need-to-win-over-centre-le <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The centre left once showed concern about climate change. Not any more.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Y2dhifJw8fl6MTHShRa47KbW6nqflLZPKnN0A81TW04/mtime:1440411244/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Climate-Flash-Mob-010_web.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/UtshO8nFFAL8FiFY43mHpT8_vUPELmukLa2inU0uZGg/mtime:1440410959/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Climate-Flash-Mob-010_web.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>A growing awareness has spread among people worried about climate change that it can’t be tackled without support from the political right. Recently, several campaigning and <a href="http://www.climateoutreach.org.uk/portfolio-item/election-guide/">research organisations</a> have <a href="http://www.rtcc.org/2015/07/21/five-reasons-the-uk-centre-right-should-back-a-un-climate-pact">discussed</a> how climate change can be presented in ways that appeal more to conservative and free-market sensibilities.</p> <p>But this new focus on engaging the right, welcome though it is, overlooks a problem that is no less threatening to efforts to limit climate change. Worries about the climate aren’t just lacking on the political right: over the last few years, climate change has also largely disappeared as a priority for the centre-left.</p> <p>Less than a decade ago, it seemed impossible to win power in the UK without a commitment to climate change. As it became clear that restrictions on emissions were inevitable, David Cameron saw the danger in being left behind and went to husky-hugging efforts to show that his party was at least as pro-climate as Labour.</p> <p>Since the 2010 election, however, the main parties’ commitment to climate change has waned. It <a href="http://www.jonathonporritt.com/Campaigns/greenest-government-ever">was often remarked</a> that the 2010-2015 coalition government failed to live up to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/may/14/cameron-wants-greenest-government-ever">its goal</a> of being the ‘greenest government ever’, while the new government, free from the moderating influence of the Liberal Democrats, has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/24/the-9-green-policies-killed-off-by-tory-government">already abolished</a> several measures designed to cut emissions. But the journey of the centre-left wing of Labour (that is, the right of the party) has attracted less attention.</p> <p>The Labour government under Tony Blair, its most centrist leader, was more forward-thinking on tackling climate change than any previous administration. While far from perfect on the environment, Blair’s government pushed world leaders to agree a deal at the Kyoto climate conference, introduced the Climate Change Bill and created the Carbon Trust, among many other measures aimed at cutting emissions. For Labour’s centre-left, just as it was for David Cameron at the time, wanting to address climate change was a sign of modernity rather than something to be embarrassed about.</p> <p><strong>Economic credibility vs the climate</strong></p> <p>The economic crisis changed this. Now, the centre-left is overwhelmingly focused on tackling what it considers to be the main reason for Labour’s latest election defeat: the perception that the party can’t be trusted with the economy. In their view, Labour won’t be elected again until it persuades voters that it will never again drive the car into the ditch (as many people see it).</p> <p>This means demonstrations of economic competence are prioritised over actions to tackle climate change to a greater extent than before. Witness the response of Labour’s leadership candidates to the recent proposal for a new runway at Heathrow. As soon as the proposal was made, Liz Kendall, the most centrist candidate, <a href="http://www.lizforleader.com/liz_responds_findings_of_davies_report_on_airport_expansion">called on</a> the government to approve the plans. This was quickly confirmed <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/07/labour-back-heathrow-expansion-but-the-party-are-divided-over-the-issue/">as Labour’s policy</a>.</p> <p>The political calculation is obvious. If Labour’s centre-left believes the party can’t win without restoring Labour’s reputation for economic competence, the loss of support of the relatively few people greatly concerned about climate change might seem a price worth paying. Their priority isn’t to win over the 1.1 million people who voted Green, but to gain enough support from Conservative voters to form a majority.</p> <p>For some, the calculation means Labour should visibly renounce climate policies. Just as George Osborne <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/budget/8924405/George-Osborne-carbon-targets-threaten-British-jobs.html">has argued </a>that the UK’s economy shouldn’t be held back by measures to cut emissions, some on the centre-left believe that Labour should be seen to prioritise the economy over climate change. Mostly, though, the climate has just been forgotten. In every conversation I have had about airport expansion with a Labour member on the right of the party, the debate has been about economics and local noise and air pollution: climate change hasn’t come up.</p> <p>Why does this matter? You might think the right of the Labour Party is defunct. Polls of the Labour leadership contest suggest it isn’t the candidates of the centre-left, but the one of the left, Jeremy Corbyn, who is most likely to win. He certainly <a href="http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/data/2015/03/The-Rt-Hon-Edward-Davey-MP-FINAL.png">appears committed</a> to making climate change a priority, having expressed opposition to Heathrow expansion and indicated that he would offer Ed Miliband the post of Shadow Energy Secretary – although he has also indicated he <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-news%2Fjeremy-corbyn-could-bring-back-6213691&amp;ei=Yr_RVZnvAoGwsQHvubmgBw&amp;usg=AFQjCNF">might support</a> re-opening UK coal mines.&nbsp; </p><p>Yet, even if Corbyn wins, the centre-left isn’t going away. Few among them believe that Corbyn will be Labour leader by the 2020 election, regardless of the outcome of this leadership contest. They will continue in their attempts to win the leadership, and the chances are that they will succeed at some point over the next few years. This means the centre-left’s views of climate change are likely to become Labour policy and to shape Conservative policy: the last decade has shown that, when Labour prioritises climate change, the Conservatives have to do the same.</p> <p><strong>Talking to the centre-left</strong></p> <p>So it is increasingly urgent that people worried about climate change start talking not only to the right but also to the centre-left. The support of the centre-left has often been taken for granted, when it fact it has been waning for years. The voters they are now targeting are not those who currently prioritise climate change, like Green supporters, but people who are more focused on the economy. The language and arguments that interests the centre-left are not the same as those that appeal to traditional advocates of action on climate change.</p> <p>A crucial point for the centre-left is aspiration. Politicians are mocked when they use the term because it seems vacuous, but in fact it’s fundamental to how the centre-left tries to appeal beyond traditional Labour voters. For the centre-left, aspiration means “we can help you build yourself a better life”; climate change advocates need to show how their proposals facilitate this. As long as tackling climate change is seen to depend on limiting things or making them more expensive – flights, petrol, energy bills – without offering cheaper low-emission alternatives, the centre-left will see it as anti-aspirational and avoid it.</p> <p>A similar challenge is making climate change central to policy areas where it is generally forgotten, like aviation policy. A useful argument for this is the UK’s climate change law, which requires an 80% cut in emissions. This law makes the question of achieving the target one of competence. People worried about climate change can encourage Labour’s centre-left to demonstrate that they are committed to taking the tough decisions needed to achieve the target. The political gain for Labour is the potential to show their competence in contrast to a government that cannot meet its target.</p> <p>So long as Labour is struggling to be regarded as economically competent, the centre-left will tend to view measures on climate change as expendable when they are seen as limiting economic growth. This represents a great challenge to the UK’s climate policy, and one that has been overlooked with the emergence of efforts to interest the right in tackling climate change. People worried about climate change should stop taking the support of the centre-left for granted and start paying attention to the language and arguments that will appeal to 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="/ourkingdom/jamie-clarke/values-not-just-science-need-to-be-central-to-climate-change-debate">Values, not just science, need to be central to the climate change debate </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/steve-rushton/building-climate-movement-is-another-world-possible">Building the climate movement: is another world possible?</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Leo Barasi Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:45:03 +0000 Leo Barasi 95443 at https://opendemocracy.net What would a Labour-Green electoral pact actually look like? https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/elliot-folan/what-would-labour-green-electoral-pact-actually-look-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The rise of Jeremy Corbyn has led to speculation about a Green/Labour electoral pact. But what could each party actually offer the other?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/pcjtn2jdLBkN-VVZE4OEkpBLjc_3i_Hvoq7AcZDfrsM/mtime:1440597321/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/2000px-2015UKElectionMap.svg_.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/GlAnDxfhXeM6-mg_HtavvjiiC8YJETZlFvMBXP2GwB8/mtime:1440597223/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/2000px-2015UKElectionMap.svg_.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="449" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UK election map 2015: Wikimedia</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In recent days, the idea of Labour forming an electoral pact with the Green Party has come under renewed scrutiny, thanks to Caroline Lucas MP <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/my-message-to-jeremy-corbyn-i-can-help-you-build-a-progressive-majority-10469934.html">calling for one</a> in the pages of The Independent. Such a pact has been occasionally discussed since the election, which saw the best Green result in a general election, but one thing often missing from the discussions is a sense of what such a pact would look like in practice. Which seats would be targeted? How many Green candidates would have to stand down? And what are the winnable seats where the Green Party should be pressing for a free run?</p><p dir="ltr">In establishing this, it is possible to draw on Labour’s own history, something I had occasion to read about recently in a very good book by Martin Pugh called “Speak for Britain: A New History of the Labour Party”. As he relates, one often-forgotten aspect of the long march to Labour’s role as a party of government was the pre-WW1 electoral pact that the Labour Party formed with the then-dominant Liberal Party. This pact enabled Labour to elect 29 MPs in 1906 on just 4.8 per cent of the vote, and 42 MPs in December 1910 with just 7.1 per cent. It also enabled the Liberals to win a landslide in 1906 (with 397 MPs to the Tories’ 156, the Irish Nationalists’ 82 and Labour’s 29) and to become the largest party in Parliament both of the elections in 1910, despite only having a small lead over the Tories in 1906 and despite the Tories having a 3-point lead in 1910.</p><p dir="ltr">So given that the pact was successful then, could one be successful now? </p><p dir="ltr">The context</p><p dir="ltr">In 1906, the reason for an electoral pact was painfully clear: the Liberals had been out of power for 11 years, and hadn’t won a majority since 1880. The context of the Lib-Lab pact seems familiar: opposed by a Conservative Party which was strong in working class constituencies, facing an entrenched Nationalist presence in Parliament and threatened by a party to its left, it’s not hard to see why a Liberal Party desperate to return to power agreed to a pact. Today, the context is similar: Labour is struggling to make headway outside its urban and northern constituencies, leaving the Tories to dominate everywhere else (thanks to the collapse of the Liberal Democrats). The SNP’s dominance of Scotland has moved the battleground purely to England, much as the Irish nationalist vote dominated Irish elections. And in England, the Green Party is nipping at the heels of the Labour Party, with Green voters outweighing Tory majorities in 10 constituencies, threatening Labour majorities in many more and likely to expand ever more as voters see the party as a more viable option.</p><p dir="ltr">This, then, would likely be the motivation for a pact: as for the Liberals, it would not be a selfless progressive alliance but a pact borne out of self-interest and increasing desperation to remove the Tories from power. For the Greens, it would simply be motivated by a desire to increase their representation and to cement themselves as a legitimate option in the eyes of the electorate.</p><p dir="ltr">What would Labour get out of it?</p><p dir="ltr">If both parties were to accept the idea of a pact, there would have to be something for both sides. The benefits to Labour are obvious: firstly, they could deprive the Tories of their majority without a significant switch in votes, as a Green endorsement of Labour in just a handful of constituencies (Derby North, Croydon Central, Bury North, Morley &amp; Outwood, Plymouth Sutton &amp; Devonport, Brighton Kemptown, Weaver Vale, Telford, Bedford and Gower) could help deliver 10 extra Labour MPs. In addition, in a further 19 seats, a pact would see the Conservative majority reduced to 0-5 per cent – a figure easily moveable by a strong local campaign and a slight swing in Labour’s favour. If all 29 seats were captured by Labour, it would be capable of forming a minority government with the support of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalists, as well as the Greens. A pact would also help secure some currently precarious Labour majorities, such as the 46 seats (excluding Bristol West and Ynys Mon) won by Labour by a margin of 10 per cent or less. In total Labour would probably be looking for the Greens to stand aside in 70-80 constituencies.</p><p dir="ltr">So in short, a pact would help Labour by putting it in a position to form the government once more.</p><p dir="ltr">What would the Greens get out of it?</p><p dir="ltr">This is probably the more complicated question. Opponents of an electoral pact within the Green Party often claim that the Green identity would be subsumed within Labour’s; an argument that is not without merit as Pugh claims that the pact of the 1900s did impede Labour’s electoral progress. But the chance of increasing Green representation would probably sway the debate in favour of a pact, were it to become a serious issue.</p><p dir="ltr">There are three seats that instantly leap to mind as likely targets for a Green-Labour pact: Brighton Pavilion, the Isle of Wight and Somerton &amp; Frome. In all these seats, the Green Party outpolled Labour, and the latter two are only strongly Conservative because of a divided opposition. A joint Labour-Green candidacy in the latter two seats would pull in 26.2 per cent* (to the Tories’ 40.7 per cent) and 25.1 per cent of the vote (to the Tories’ 37.8 per cent) respectively, likely more if they were given special attention by the national party. While Bristol West is currently the No. 2 Green target seat, and would likely remain so, there is little chance of Labour deselecting an incumbent MP (the same goes for Norwich South) and it would remain a Labour-Green marginal. Under a pact, potential for Green expansion would need to look beyond Labour safe seats and instead at Conservative constituencies where there is a potential to unite the ‘left’ vote behind a single candidate. </p><p dir="ltr">I would make the estimation that there are 4 Tory-held constituencies where the Greens could achieve headway and possibly victory under a pact: the Isle of Wight, Bath, Truro and Falmouth and Colchester. In all of these, the Tory vote was below 44 per cent in 2015 and the joint Green-Labour vote was over 20 per cent.</p><p dir="ltr">Indeed, in total, there are 121 safe Conservative seats where a joint Labour-Green candidate could achieve over 20 per cent of the vote. While the specifics of a deal would fall far short of this figure, a good chunk of these seats would provide solid Green results that would more than make up for standing aside in a handful of marginals. I would suspect that Labour would only stand aside where the Greens were already strong (i.e. with a saved deposit), and where Labour was relatively weak. I would therefore expect that, in the event of a pact, Labour would give the Greens a free run in 53 safe Tory seats: specifically, the 53 constituencies where the Greens saved their deposit and Labour won below 20 per cent of the vote. </p><p dir="ltr">So, in short, the Greens wouldn’t get a definite gain out of a pact, unless Labour was persuaded to allow a free run in a constituency where Labour was closer to the Conservatives (such as Filton and Bradley Stoke, where a joint candidacy would achieve 31.2 per cent to the Tories’ 46.7 per cent). But they would get a much stronger shot at toppling Tory MPs than they have now, as well as securing Brighton Pavilion against a Labour challenge, cementing themselves as a legitimate (and safe) choice in the eyes of left-wing voters and enabling themselves to put down strong roots in more constituencies around the country. </p><p dir="ltr">Conclusion</p><p dir="ltr">In the end, I doubt that a pact will happen. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader might help things along, but the Green Party would have to convince the Labour leadership that it was of significant advantage to Labour to form a pact: simply talking about progressive alliances is unlikely to sway the party over to standing down in any constituency. At the same time, there is hostility within Green ranks to the idea of a pact with Labour, which may scuttle any proposal before it even starts. </p><p dir="ltr">But I’m not the best at prediction. Back before the election (like most) I predicted a hung parliament. When Corbyn announced his campaign, I thought he might narrowly beat Liz Kendall and come third. So maybe, like the Liberals of old, Labour will see the 10th anniversary of its last government approaching in 2020 and turn to an electoral pact. The behaviour of the Greens, and whether they show themselves to be a significant threat to Labour’s chances of returning to government, will also be important in determining if a pact materialises.</p><p dir="ltr">But it is also important to start talking practically and seriously about what a pact might involve: who would stand aside for whom, where it would happen, and what areas the Green Party should be focusing on. Because without a solid strategy to make a pact happen, it is likely to fade away as quickly as it appeared.</p><p dir="ltr">*Throughout, I have added together the votes of the two parties to reach a combined figure. Reality is, of course, more complex than that.</p><p dir="ltr">---</p><p dir="ltr">Appendix</p><p dir="ltr">I thought I’d add to the end of this article a list of the constituencies I was talking about above. They’re separated broadly into the categories I mentioned, and then into sub-categories.</p><p dir="ltr">Seats where the Greens would likely stand aside for Labour (76)</p><p dir="ltr">Seats where the Green vote outweighs the Conservative majority over Labour (10)</p><p dir="ltr">Plymouth Sutton and Devonport</p><p dir="ltr">Brighton Kemptown </p><p dir="ltr">Derby North</p><p dir="ltr">Croydon Central</p><p dir="ltr">Morley and Outwood</p><p dir="ltr">Bury North</p><p dir="ltr">Weaver Vale</p><p dir="ltr">Bedford</p><p dir="ltr">Telford</p><p dir="ltr">Seats where the Tory majority would be cut to 0-5 per cent (19)</p><p dir="ltr">Plymouth Moor View</p><p dir="ltr">Southampton Itchen</p><p dir="ltr">Thurrock</p><p dir="ltr">Waveney</p><p dir="ltr">Peterborough</p><p dir="ltr">Bolton West</p><p dir="ltr">Warrington South</p><p dir="ltr">Corby</p><p dir="ltr">Keighley</p><p dir="ltr">Lincoln</p><p dir="ltr">Stroud</p><p dir="ltr">Bristol North West</p><p dir="ltr">Carlisle</p><p dir="ltr">Ipswich</p><p dir="ltr">Calder Valley</p><p dir="ltr">Warwickshire North</p><p dir="ltr">Northampton North</p><p dir="ltr">Erewash</p><p dir="ltr">Labour-held seats where the Labour majority is currently 0-10 per cent (46)</p><p dir="ltr">Chester, City of</p><p dir="ltr">Ealing Central and Acton</p><p dir="ltr">Brentford and Isleworth</p><p dir="ltr">Halifax</p><p dir="ltr">Wirral West</p><p dir="ltr">Cambridge</p><p dir="ltr">Ilford North</p><p dir="ltr">Newcastle-under-Lyme</p><p dir="ltr">Barrow and Furness</p><p dir="ltr">Wolverhampton South West</p><p dir="ltr">Hampstead and Kilburn</p><p dir="ltr">Enfield North</p><p dir="ltr">Hove</p><p dir="ltr">Dewsbury</p><p dir="ltr">Lancaster and Fleetwood</p><p dir="ltr">Derbyshire North East</p><p dir="ltr">Harrow West</p><p dir="ltr">Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East</p><p dir="ltr">Westminster North</p><p dir="ltr">Walsall North</p><p dir="ltr">Tooting</p><p dir="ltr">Birmingham Northfield</p><p dir="ltr">Wakefield</p><p dir="ltr">Gedling</p><p dir="ltr">Eltham</p><p dir="ltr">Copeland</p><p dir="ltr">Stoke-on-Trent South</p><p dir="ltr">Birmingham Edgbaston</p><p dir="ltr">Coventry South</p><p dir="ltr">Hartlepool</p><p dir="ltr">Darlington</p><p dir="ltr">Blackpool South</p><p dir="ltr">Burnley</p><p dir="ltr">Scunthorpe</p><p dir="ltr">Bristol East</p><p dir="ltr">Southampton Test</p><p dir="ltr">Bermondsey and Old Southwark</p><p dir="ltr">Chorley</p><p dir="ltr">Bishop Auckland</p><p dir="ltr">Coventry North West</p><p dir="ltr">Bridgend</p><p dir="ltr">Wrexham</p><p dir="ltr">Clwyd South</p><p dir="ltr">Delyn</p><p dir="ltr">Alyn &amp; Deeside</p><p dir="ltr">Newport West</p><p dir="ltr">Seats where Labour would likely stand aside for the Greens (54)</p><p dir="ltr">Green-held seats (1)</p><p dir="ltr">Brighton Pavilion</p><p dir="ltr">Conservative-held seats where the Greens beat Labour (2)</p><p dir="ltr">Isle of Wight</p><p dir="ltr">Somerton and Frome</p><p dir="ltr">Other Conservative-held seats where the Greens saved their deposit but Labour is weak (51)</p><p dir="ltr">Bath</p><p dir="ltr">Totnes</p><p dir="ltr">Devon Central</p><p dir="ltr">Truro and Falmouth</p><p dir="ltr">Bury St Edmunds</p><p dir="ltr">Bournemouth West</p><p dir="ltr">Bournemouth East</p><p dir="ltr">Hereford and South Herefordshire</p><p dir="ltr">Devon West and Torridge</p><p dir="ltr">Herefordshire North</p><p dir="ltr">Henley</p><p dir="ltr">Reigate</p><p dir="ltr">Chichester</p><p dir="ltr">Worcestershire West</p><p dir="ltr">Somerset North</p><p dir="ltr">Arundel and South Downs</p><p dir="ltr">Wealden</p><p dir="ltr">Tiverton and Honiton</p><p dir="ltr">St Ives</p><p dir="ltr">Cambridgeshire South</p><p dir="ltr">Hampshire East</p><p dir="ltr">Richmond Park</p><p dir="ltr">Suffolk Coastal</p><p dir="ltr">Devizes</p><p dir="ltr">New Forest West</p><p dir="ltr">Worthing West</p><p dir="ltr">Wiltshire South West</p><p dir="ltr">Devon North</p><p dir="ltr">Dorset West</p><p dir="ltr">Skipton and Ripon</p><p dir="ltr">Dorset North</p><p dir="ltr">Lewes</p><p dir="ltr">Chesham and Amersham</p><p dir="ltr">Salisbury</p><p dir="ltr">Surrey South West</p><p dir="ltr">Norfolk South</p><p dir="ltr">Mole Valley</p><p dir="ltr">Cornwall South East</p><p dir="ltr">Folkestone and Hythe</p><p dir="ltr">Hertfordshire North East</p><p dir="ltr">Penrith and The Border</p><p dir="ltr">Havant</p><p dir="ltr">Worthing East and Shoreham</p><p dir="ltr">Tunbridge Wells</p><p dir="ltr">Colchester</p><p dir="ltr">Cambridgeshire South East</p><p dir="ltr">Wantage</p><p dir="ltr">Bexhill and Battle</p><p dir="ltr">Witney</p><p dir="ltr">Ludlow</p><p dir="ltr">Cheltenham </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/dan-hind/corbyn-should-support-convention-parliament-or-he-will-fail">Corbyn should support a convention parliament or he will fail</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Elliot Folan Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:00:01 +0000 Elliot Folan 95512 at https://opendemocracy.net Bristol says no to Branson takeover of local NHS https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/james-beecher/bristol-says-no-to-branson-takeover-of-local-nhs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today in Bristol hundreds of people protested outside (and inside!) the offices of the local Clinical Commissioning Group, who are set to decide whether to hand children's NHS services over to Virgin. Exclusive footage of today's lively protest.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="258" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hXwrP3ueL8I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></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="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/cameron%27s-biggest-broken-promise-on-nhs">Cameron&#039;s biggest broken promise on the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/paul-evans/nhs-privatisation-soars-500-in-last-year-finds-indepth-new-study">NHS privatisation soars 500% in the last year, finds in-depth new study </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/wendy-savage/if-you-like-virgin-rail-you%E2%80%99ll-really-love-virgin-care">If you like Virgin Rail, you’ll really love Virgin Care</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/caroline-molloy-richard-whittell/researching-health-companies-web-search-guide">Researching health companies: a web search guide</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/joy-clarke/when-camaraderie-is-for-show-virgin-loves-london-marathon-helps-dismantle-nhs">When camaraderie is for show: Virgin loves the London Marathon, helps dismantle the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/andrew-robertson/what-was-real-purpose-of-virgins-mysterious-report-into-nhs-customer-service">What was the real purpose of Virgin&#039;s mysterious report into NHS customer service?</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> ourNHS OurKingdom ourNHS James Beecher Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:50:21 +0000 James Beecher 95525 at https://opendemocracy.net If you don’t share this immediately the entire world will explode https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/james-turner/if-you-don%E2%80%99t-share-this-immediately-entire-world-will-explode-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is there too much hyperbole in digital activism? Should campaigners really follow the rules of modern marketing in online movements?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/30p-WbcGE2zIW9f4qOTCe-eY1CoCc0QZa5TlMgqKohs/mtime:1440588323/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/11278-bluemarblewest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/WazRk_4qSqTERPek5fiQkpSc318cFWdlyA_j22w_NFM/mtime:1440588297/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/11278-bluemarblewest.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Marketing people love urgency. They understand how it works and use it to convert us from flaky wobblers into solid customers. It’s everywhere you look, especially online: “Hurry! Only 4 items left at this price!”. We feel like we’re making a smart decision even though we vaguely recognise that we’re being played. And more recently, urgency has become commonplace in the world of digital activism. I work for Greenpeace, but almost every charity or NGO uses urgency because it works, based on the way we currently measure success. But I can’t help feeling that this approach risks damaging public trust at a time when we have an opportunity to build a new model of participation. </p><p>Before a major climate change summit in Copenhagen six years ago we were bombarded with the message that there were ‘eight months to save the world’. An enormous amount of activity followed, not least from the millions of people who signed, shared, donated and protested. The eight months passed... and we didn’t save the world. But nor did it surrender to an army of robots controlled by the oil companies. The summit was a failure, but it was made worse by the massive sense of collective disappointment that was felt after putting so much faith in a ‘make or break’ meeting - the outcome of which was probably inevitable anyway. </p><p>Fast forward to 2015, and we’ve now got another “five months to save the world” before the UN climate change negotiations in Paris. It’s the big red urgency button again, pressed repeatedly to make me sign, share or donate. As a committed online activist I’m not sure which crisis to deal with, the coming climate armageddon or the rare dolphin that’s got four months left before its entire species swims up to flipper heaven.</p><p>Perhaps I’m being naive here. Maybe people understand that when we say there’s a certain amount of time to achieve a certain goal, we don’t really mean it. It’s just a way to create a good story and boost the excitement. But what are the long term effects? We’re at an incredibly early stage in the development of internet democracy, the muddy peasants struggling up the hill with a list of demands because we just figured out how to write. We need to think very carefully about how to wield this new power, because it could literally change the course of history. And yet instead of replacing the cynical tricks of commerce with something more honest and participatory, we’re treating active citizens like rather dim consumers. </p><p>I’m not blaming the people who write the emails for any of this. They’re smart, dedicated professionals who are hitting the goals that their bosses decide are important (generally either petition signatures or donations). But there is surely a need for those at the top to consider the impact of building towards a series of ‘critical moments’, before blatantly failing and repeating the process all over again. </p><p>For the really big challenges, like climate change, maybe we need to accept that we’re in for the really long haul and be upfront about that. I don’t know exactly what that would look like, but it’s about reducing the hyperbole and cranking up the humility. Let’s admit that some of these problems are structural and complex, and that we don’t actually know exactly how to solve them. Maybe we could even ask people for their own ideas about what to do next. Of course we’d see supporters drop off the list, disappointed that they’re not getting the instant gratification they signed up for. But I suspect that there are a lot of thoughtful people out there who are put off by the clichés that have become so common, so quickly.“This might be the most important email I have ever written to you”. Really?</p><p>The internet is offering us exactly the right tool at exactly the right time. After centuries behind a wall of privilege, access to knowledge and the right to dissent is opening up to everyone. Online movements are gathering momentum at incredible speed, promising to bring accountability and justice to secretive orders everywhere. But the next few years are crucial. The potential of digital activism to create a fairer society will depend on creating a new kind of conversation with those who we hope to engage. That conversation will mean treating people as equals and being honest about the nature of our campaigns. This kind of message breaks all the rules of modern marketing. Which is exactly the reason we should try it out.</p><p><em><strong>OurKingdom doesn’t have a billionaire proprietor telling us what to write - we rely on donations from readers like you. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate">Please support us</a> if you can.</strong></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="/ourkingdom/niki-seth-smith/online-activism-ourkingdom-joins-debate">Online activism: OurKingdom joins 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom James Turner Wed, 26 Aug 2015 09:31:06 +0000 James Turner 95494 at https://opendemocracy.net Gordon Brown has some nerve criticising Jeremy Corbyn on foreign policy https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/david-wearing/gordon-brown-has-some-nerve-criticising-jeremy-corbyn-on-foreign-policy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gordon Brown should think carefully about his own relationship with violent extremists before he talks about Corbyn.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/AQHVNt5BWd_Zj4WVc1ZkIwlmv751N9vGbI3Pt288oTs/mtime:1440493723/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/brown_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/otpPHu30BWZ_UTP7gLGn4Z0aRNNS5IBXElPysR3mv18/mtime:1440493667/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/brown_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="450" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Displaying the levels of honesty and integrity that we’ve come to expect from New Labour, <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/gordon-brown-labour-must-seek-power-purpose">Gordon Brown</a> said recently that under Jeremy Corbyn “the alliances we favour most [would be] with Hezbollah, Hamas,…..and Vladimir Putin’s totalitarian Russia”. </p><p dir="ltr">We have got ourselves into a habit of focusing purely on Tony Blair where the worst of Labour’s foreign policy is concerned. But Brown was guilty of far worse than the bumbling haplessness he became associated with, and his hypocrisy here is quite something to behold. </p><p dir="ltr">Brown of course knows perfectly well that Corbyn has never proposed “alliances” with Hamas and Hezbollah, any more than New Labour did with the IRA when it oversaw the conclusion of the Northern Ireland peace process. What Corbyn has said (<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x2sx3PWaEU">repeatedly</a>, so there is <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOZZF5XCDBM">no excuse for misrepresentation</a>) is that peace can only be reached through dialogue, including with people whose politics we detest. If Brown has a more promising approach toward Israel-Palestine, then he’s been keeping it a closely guarded secret. </p><p dir="ltr">In fact, the approach Brown favoured while in office was to mumble pro forma support for the two-state solution while <a href="https://www.stoparmingisrael.org/arming-apartheid/">arming Israel</a> as its illegal colonies devoured what was left of any future Palestinian homeland. Even after Israel committed extensive <a href="http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ioptwf0809webwcover_1.pdf">war crimes</a> during its <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/MDE15/015/2009/en/">assault on Gaza</a> in the winter of 2008-09, Brown’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband reflexively denied, but was later forced to admit, that arms sold by the UK had “almost certainly” been used by the Israelis. The Brown government then revoked an absurdly small number of export licences, while allowing the substantive flow of arms to continue, in violation of its own rules that such exports should not “aggravate existing conflicts”. </p><p dir="ltr">Indeed, if Brown is so horrified by the idea of having alliances with violent religious extremists then it is difficult to explain why one of his first acts as Prime Minister was to wave through a massive <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2007/sep/16/money1">£20bn jet fighter deal with Saudi Arabia</a>. For the past five months, the Saudi Air Force has been waging a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, carrying out potential war crimes according to <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/06/30/yemen-unlawful-airstrikes-kill-dozens-civilians">Human Rights Watch</a> and <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/07/yemen-airstrike-analysis-shows-saudi-arabia-killed-scores-of-civilians/">Amnesty International</a>, while receiving <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/british-technical-support-saudi-op-yemen-hammond-210205762.html?soc_src=mail&amp;soc_trk=ma">logistical and technical support</a> and ongoing munitions supplies under the terms of the September 2007 deal, amongst other commitments. The Saudi blockade of an impoverished, import-dependent country has helped push Yemen into the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/yemen-crisis-un-declares-a-level-3-humanitarian-emergency-as-situation-worsens-10359208.html">UN’s highest category of humanitarian crisis</a>, with the country now on the brink of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33998006">famine</a>, 13 million Yemenis in need of emergency aid and 1.4 million driven from their homes. </p><p dir="ltr">By the way, it isn’t your fault if you weren’t aware of <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/yemen-world-s-newest-humanitarian-catastrophe-and-how-britain-helped-create-it-759527421">Britain’s direct complicity</a> in the disaster currently unfolding in Yemen. It’s because our media and political class as a whole have shown next to no interest in reporting or discussing it. It appears that if Jeremy Corbyn tries to promote dialogue with violent extremists in the interests of seeking peace, that constitutes a national scandal and places him beyond the pale. But if successive Labour and Conservative governments arm violent extremist states, even as they commit <a href="http://www.msf.org/article/yemen-least-65-civilians-killed-coalition-airstrikes-and-heavy-fighting-taiz ">mass murder</a> and strangle an entire population, that’s barely worthy of a shrug. </p><p dir="ltr">As to Russia, the Corbyn-Putin alliance Brown warns against is another <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/mediamonkeyblog/2015/aug/13/british-press-putin-the-boot-into-corbyn">figment of the imagination</a>. Again, Corbyn has simply expressed a preference for diplomacy and dialogue, which would certainly be preferable to the sort of macho chest-beating and military posturing which merely aggravate and enable the worst of Putin’s own aggressive instincts, and make a potentially catastrophic East-West conflict <a href="http://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/preparing-for-the-worst-are-russian-and-nato-military-exercises-making-war-in-europe-more-likely_2997.html">more likely</a>. There is something unedifyingly male about portraying a preference for dialogue over confrontation as being unserious or even treacherous. It is also rather forgetful of <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122302/iran-deal-victory-obama-diplomacy-over-bush-warmongering">the lessons New Labour ought to have learned</a> from the Bush-Blair era. </p><p dir="ltr">Over the last few weeks, the campaign around Corbyn’s leadership bid has grown into what could be the sort of mass movement for which there has never been a more urgent need. If the neoliberal consensus is allowed to continue unchallenged then Britain will become a harsher, meaner place to live for an increasing number of people, while on a global scale, the frightening consequences of runaway climate change will loom ever larger on the horizon. In terms of foreign relations, a continuation of British militarism under Labour or Conservatives will inflame international dynamics creating suffering in conflict-torn parts of the world. If a real, popular movement can emerge to challenge all this, then standing aside from that effort in distaste at any problematic aspects that arise is simply not a defensible option. </p><p dir="ltr">But if that movement is to be effective - and it has to be - then what it and Corbyn needs are critical friends, not cheerleaders whose instinct is to reflexively exonerate. No matter how honourable his intention in trying to create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue, Corbyn’s public reference to “friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah gifted ammunition to the most cynical of his opponents, and thus allowed his own efforts to be misrepresented and undermined. Elsewhere, while it is hard not to believe him when he says that he would never knowingly associate with anti-semites, it is predictable that purveyors of this ancient hatred would lurk around and try to latch onto the Palestinian cause, and Corbyn (and all of us) will need to redouble our efforts to identify and confront such people wherever they appear. On Russia, we will need to ensure that we remain closer to the nuanced, intelligent position of people like Corbyn’s friend, the late great <a href="http://www.redpepper.org.uk/ukraine-russia-anti-war-movement/">Mark Marqusee</a>, and further from that of <a href="http://www.leninology.co.uk/2014/03/ukraine-against-infantile-realpolitik.html">certain members</a> of the Stop the War Coalition of which Corbyn is chair. </p><p dir="ltr">And when Corbyn is attacked on any of these issues, his campaign will have to drop the naïve idea that accusations go away when you ignore them, and instead allow him to respond immediately, in the heartfelt, genuine and honest way that he is becoming known for. Because it is those qualities, aside from his more enlightened politics, that set him so far apart from his detractors.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong><span>Liked this piece? Please support us with</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span> £3 a month </span></a><span>so we can keep producing independent journalism.</span></strong></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="/ourkingdom/tim-holmes/britain-loves-war-criminal">Britain loves a war criminal</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom David Wearing Wed, 26 Aug 2015 09:30:41 +0000 David Wearing 95467 at https://opendemocracy.net The BBC, the press and online news https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/alice-enders-leo-watkins-douglas-mccabe/bbc-press-and-online-news <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Scaling back the BBC will damage the UK’s sole source of impartial, quality and trusted news, whose independence is valued by users in the UK and around the world.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This report was produced by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.endersanalysis.com/" target="_blank">Enders Analysis</a>&nbsp;and is published here in full with thanks:</em></p><p><span>The government’s Green Paper on Charter Renewal asks a number of questions about the future scale and scope of the BBC’s TV, radio and online services. This report concerns the BBC’s online services, and in particular BBC News, which is supported by the licence fee paid by UK TV households.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Question 4 of the Green Paper asks:&nbsp;<span>“Is the expansion of the BBC’s services justified in the context of increased choice for audiences? Is the BBC crowding out commercial competition and, if so, is this justified?”&nbsp;</span></p><p>The Green Paper also states the following concerns<em>:&nbsp;</em><span>“</span><span>The BBC has a variety of impacts on online markets. For example, the popularity of BBC News in the UK (BBC News website had an average 27 million UK weekly browsers in early 2015, and more than 65 million worldwide) has led to suggestions that the scale of BBC’s online offer is impeding the ability of other UK news outlets to develop profitable business models, such as paywalls and subscriptions, in existing and new markets.</span><span>”&nbsp;</span></p><p>The BBC’s online news presence has clearly become contentious in this government. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, <a href="http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a656602/george-osborne-says-bbc-could-make-savings-by-dropping-its-imperial-website-ambitions.html#~pmnzaulrkF7C6D" target="_blank">Chancellor Osborne criticised the BBC’s “imperial ambitions” in online news</a>, worrying that it is becoming “the national newspaper as well as the national broadcaster.”<br />&nbsp;<br />Several major UK newspaper publishers have editorialised the same antipathy towards BBC News:</p><ul><li>- <em><a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article4410242.ece">The Times</a></em> and <em><a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11719843/The-imperial-BBC.html" target="_blank">The Telegraph </a></em>have published editorials decrying the BBC’s ‘imperialism’ online.</li><li>&nbsp;</li><li>- <em>The Telegraph</em>’s <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11719843/The-imperial-BBC.html" target="_blank">editorial on 6 July</a> was representative in its argument: “If ever there was an example of how the BBC has drifted from its core function, it is the website, which consumes vast sums of public money, with the apparent intention of competing with a British newspaper industry that already provides world‑class online journalism.”</li></ul><p><em>- The Times</em><span> </span><a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article4410242.ece" target="_blank">has argued</a><span> that “nowhere is [the BBC’s] dominance less warranted than online, where the array of alternative sources is dazzling.”</span></p><p>There is little doubt that UK newspaper publishers are experiencing as a whole a difficult transition from print to digital. Several reasons for this state of affairs are set out in detail in this report: bluntly, the BBC is not among them. The internet has wrought tremendous damage to the traditional sources of revenue for commercial news providers. Although online offers much greater audience reach in the UK and globally, the average revenue per user (ARPU) is a fraction of print.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>The report then offers an assessment of the claimed ways in which the BBC is ‘crowding out’ the commercial sector, and explains why scaling back the BBC’s news website is unlikely to help UK publishers with the problems they face. It concludes by outlining some damaging consequences that would result from reducing the BBC’s online news operation.<br />&nbsp;<br />The supply side of the market for online news in the UK has only one provider of news that has to pursue public purposes: BBC News. All the other sources of news online are opinion-led and commercial, making the BBC profoundly different from other suppliers. There may be dazzling choice for the consumer, but the BBC is irreplaceable in effect.<br />&nbsp;<br />Audiences choose to visit the BBC News site in large numbers because it is a trusted source for news. <a href="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/news_current_affairs/audience_research.pdf">The BBC Trust’s review of the BBC’s news output </a>found that trust “is a top of mind association for BBC News and current affairs among all audiences. It is described by many as the ‘official’ news provider, standing above competitor providers as an arbiter of truth.”&nbsp;We believe this flows directly from its requirement to focus on public purposes and its public accountability. Commercial news publishers, on the other hand, face comparatively few requirements other than to satisfy their proprietors or shareholders.<br />&nbsp;<br />The market for online news is expanding through the widespread adoption and use of smartphones, growing audiences for all news publishers. In this context, BBC News provision is not antagonistic to commercial news provision online and is instead complementary: without commercial news publishers, the BBC would lack competition for audiences, who would also not have as wide a plurality of views available. Equally, though, the BBC helps set standards of quality, trust and impartiality across the sector, can focus on less profitable news genres, and can boost traffic to the rest of the sector through a concerted ‘linking out’ policy.<br />&nbsp;<br />The evidence we have suggests that, because the BBC subtracts a very substantial audience from all advertising phenomena, the outcomes for commercial publishers in the UK have been better than otherwise. This benign situation mirrors that of Germany, where a solid PSB system underpins a strong commercial creative economy.  <span>&nbsp;</span></p><h2>Causes of newspaper revenue decline</h2><p><strong><em>Print circulation decline</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />The circulation of newspapers has been in decline in the UK for decades, but the rate of decline has increased in recent years – particularly since 2009 (see Figure 1). Some newspapers will cease to exist in print sooner than others, but all will eventually (though some might develop news magazine products). Some will survive as digital news businesses, but many may not.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/itQe-Tvdjj1qMS_3pbklHPRuNvDMueFNb3G1Av9v79g/mtime:1440508249/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/nzjPkUIDxq5Z4dif_RL7MsTnArDZ4gwJx4dShDCp4xI/mtime:1440508117/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Although TV remains the single most widely used platform to access news by UK adults, sourced by 75% of this group, the internet has steadily gained share, rising to 41% of UK adults in 2014, edging newspapers at 40% (Figure 2). While newspapers cater to an older demographic, the internet is the main source of news for the majority of people under 45 (Figure 3).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/A2MYPiLgsX57-jLWOBz8PwHK1EysJIoc9HcrSQpQa68/mtime:1440508249/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/KdiK58xMlQB7Ol6NRFP3PDdlfmCejK8p7KHKfLrdb6A/mtime:1440508218/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>However, few people pay for online news – only about 6% of the population did so in 2014 – and most online users consume free-to-the-user services supported by online advertising, public funding or subsidies from other revenue sources.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Rbn7mfY_bFmNzWmmLumvvuh_3BYl_BzaPHSsWXS7140/mtime:1440508676/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders3.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/CWL1tJX10Q-X63icR8uCzGOQpw41DXFDCmMgnSrrQH4/mtime:1440508355/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders3.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>One reason for the widespread use of online as a source for news is the breathtaking array of sources (Figure 4). BBC News is the single largest site in terms of users, with close to 25 million monthly unique users in June 2015, narrowly ahead of MailOnline. Both BBC News and MailOnline pale into insignificance next to Facebook with just over 40 million users, 83% of the online population.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/JHmw9UPhRuF_oW7v_wwg3vRngeOFzvAkbcglgSlARWI/mtime:1440508677/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/1ZYxtb3t2yA4y2HqdwV_kCZrtvk6Eol4q7B5o11BZbw/mtime:1440508408/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders4.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Unlike the supply of print newspapers, where there are significant barriers to entry, there is no limit on the number of news suppliers online. UK supply of online news include the sites of UK and US newspaper publishers (<em>The Daily Mail</em>, <em>The Guardian</em>, <em>The New York Times</em>), those of TV news suppliers (ITV, Sky), digital-native sites (The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Vice), and hybrid digital native and TV services (Yahoo-ABC News, NBC News). In addition, academics, think tanks, bloggers, and so on – completely outside the news industry – are producing news and opinion content.</p><p><strong><em>Loss of advertising revenue</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />The internet displaced news publishers from their central role in the sale of classified and display advertising by giving businesses new and arguably more effective advertising options. Where once property, job, used car and other listings were placed in a newspaper, these and other classifieds are now placed on dedicated online sites like AutoTrader, Gumtree and Rightmove.<br />&nbsp;<br />Display advertising was the next to go as consumers stopped buying newspapers and started spending more of their time online (see&nbsp;<em><a href="http://endersanalysis.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=e582e02c78012221c8698a563&amp;id=56d458d919&amp;e=800a69d40e" target="_blank">Print advertising hits structural wall [2015-071]</a></em>). The result has been a massive decline in advertising revenues at print newspapers, particularly pronounced in regional news media due to their greater reliance on classified advertising revenue (Figure 5).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/fhSMlebwTLZoAlQsIZKm46FjCDZvjUz2KXHJcu11FJA/mtime:1440508677/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders5.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/DGr8gMkJIzzcZP5DM_4n__0hJ9_6QFdKMW9QzimjmEA/mtime:1440508470/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders5.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="264" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>However, it is important to recognise that the print ad revenue decline of UK newspapers has been more benign than that in the US (Figure 6). We raise the comparison between the UK and the US throughout this report because the latter lacks a public service broadcaster on a par with the BBC. Indeed, this is one reason why BBC News is so popular in the US.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/jHmBXZsmVrjIJEXY3lKm72gG1zuuktKub2y1DweeIFI/mtime:1440508678/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders6.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/xu1hN-DYz16FLfjPONfsoVb9wG8wivSpkrurQfGA5nw/mtime:1440508515/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders6.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The amount of contestable display advertising revenue being fought over online by the commercial news publishers – is a fraction of the revenues once enjoyed by newspapers. One reason is that advertisers allocate only a share of their budgets to online and retain a strong attachment to TV, and the other reason is the abundant supply of online display inventory in the UK due to the intense use by 45 million adults of the vast array of media sites, Facebook and other social media platforms.<br />&nbsp;<br />This inventory is typically sold or “negotiated” by sales teams in the first instance, just as print is still sold, with remnant inventory placed in an advertising exchange. Revenues from negotiated sales in 2014 still exceeded those from “programmatic advertising” sales (Figure 7), but the trend is unmistakably to increase the role of programmatic. Automated trading effectively brings all inventory into play, which depresses the average price at which it is sold. Furthermore, the particular context and relationship between the site and audience are largely ignored by automated trading mechanisms. This pushes all online inventory towards lower CPMs.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/26aahQ5ES1LVkhcAVSyFFEZ7MWFjoHKe9IYOtYg6FAo/mtime:1440508678/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders7.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/DFtjlPSz0SABIIAusD6W5sdGWmoggnys4WLpf2GyYt8/mtime:1440508563/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders7.png" alt="" title="" width="457" height="269" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In order for news publishers to make meaningful revenues from online display advertising in this environment, two things are necessary: a large audience that spends a large amount of time on their site, and the capacity to deliver an identifiable audience to advertisers by gathering and analysing large quantities of user data. Facebook is a potent competitor on both counts: the number of news site users and the time they spend on news sites pales into comparison with that spent on Facebook, which is able to offer advertisers a precisely defined audience due to the information willingly provided by its registered users.<br /><br />According to our estimates, Facebook realised £510 million in display advertising revenues in 2014, compared to £2,715 for Google (including search), out of a combined total of just over £7 billion. In comparison, MailOnline, arguably the top consumer-focussed news publisher online in the UK, realised just £62 million in revenues in 2014. This massive gap between the revenues of Facebook, Google and MailOnline underscores the scale of the challenge facing UK news publishers seeking to survive on online revenues alone.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/JXRmhMdOE8ku-lKBDcnr26IlaPCZbdr3n0wqGazx16g/mtime:1440508679/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders8.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/jwklf6IkTepTLcxZiVks90ngkSrc66IeM-_io5ggfJ4/mtime:1440508616/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders8.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="269" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong><em>Difficulties charging for news online</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />News publishers have found it difficult to charge for news online. The simple reason is the immense supply of news content that is good enough for most people’s purposes and free at the point of use. This then undermines the ability of other news publishers to charge for content.<br />&nbsp;<br />As time has gone on, consumers have developed expectations that news will be free at the point of consumption. Even the language adopted by the industry is instructive. “Paywall” has more negative connotations than “membership” or “subscription” or retailer signage such as “Please pay here”.<br />&nbsp;<br />At the root is a ‘collective action’ problem: if one publisher charges while most of the others remain free, that publisher’s traffic and ad revenue will collapse, they will gain some digital subscribers, and other sites will gain traffic and ad revenue. Or think about it the other way round: if every news site available to UK users put a paywall around their content tomorrow, one site could ‘defect’ from that strategy, go free and ad-funded, and take a massive share of traffic. Even if the UK newspapers could collectively agree to put up paywalls, US sites and UK broadcasters’ sites would share the UK’s audience.<br />&nbsp;<br />If content is free to read, then it can be more effectively distributed across the full range of online distribution channels: news aggregator apps and websites like Google News, but also crucially social media like Facebook and Twitter. Because the marginal cost of distribution online is zero, sites can build colossal audiences with a free model, and at such scale fund themselves by advertising revenue, even though the ARPU is often paltry (see Figure 9).</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Y0W6HuIoPK9MlkCfrzE2-vkiTw0zGGZ9-9vkKihH3Lo/mtime:1440508694/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders9.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/2el3AvpKaZU_tv_GdOfV36o1fzhprykXZ1bo1FEdgLo/mtime:1440508668/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders9.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Such scale is particularly achievable for English language sites because of the enormous size of the English language market. Two UK newspaper brands – <em>The Guardian</em> and the <em>Daily Mail</em> – have led the way here, expanding into other English language markets like the US and Australia. MailOnline for example reported £36 million in online revenues from its global audience of 13 million unique daily browsers in H1 2015. Equally, some US brands are expanding into the UK: BuzzFeed, Vice and The Huffington Post stand out here. A handful are expanding into India too.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/fB6cL8-2zhxQZLRV1LeE0QONApaTi_XLsZkaEjR4B88/mtime:1440508992/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders10.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/rL7PmmNTH5pok2TFj4-d8--TEuHdcMWqfuxYaVvt2xg/mtime:1440508734/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders10.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong><em>How publishers are responding to online’s difficult economics</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />Some newspaper publishers are looking at news online and deciding the game isn’t worth the candle. Online news publishing is a completely different business to print news publishing. The business models online are distinct from those that led to success in newspapers and require a new range of capabilities – in technology, data analytics and digital journalism – requiring upfront investment and often posting initial operating losses. Online offers a very different perspective to publishers who bought newspapers because they were profitable businesses that generated substantial cashflows.<br />&nbsp;<br />Certain newspaper publishers view their digital operations as a means of holding up (more profitable) print circulation. Placing a paywall around a newspaper’s full array of content online and offering readers a print and digital bundle seems to have slowed the rate of print circulation decline at some titles. <em>The New York Times</em> is currently trying to pull off this high-wire act: even the most powerful consumer news brand in the world, with a domestic market more than five times the size of the UK, is finding it challenging.<br />&nbsp;<br />The downside of this strategy is that it inhibits the news brand’s ability to build a new business model contoured to the very different economics of news online, and leaves it vulnerable to eclipse online by digital-native sites unencumbered by the need to hold up newspaper circulation (as well as by legacy costs like printing facilities, pension obligations and so on).<br />&nbsp;<br />News publishers are also changing the kinds of news they produce. A site whose revenue comes overwhelmingly from advertisers buying the attention of its readers will tend to produce content of a quality sufficient to attract attention, but not much more. The result is much ‘clickbait’, designed to cynically manipulate the reader into giving their attention to an article.<br />&nbsp;<br />US digital-native publisher BuzzFeed’s success is built on creating content that is shared by gigantic numbers of people on social media. Because advertising ARPU is so low online, the articles need to have very broad appeal – often across multiple markets. Because the product is the audience’s attention, the content just needs to be good enough to attract that attention – no better. It doesn’t look like this funding model is going to sustain much high quality coverage of UK politics.<br />&nbsp;<br />Many news brands are resorting to ‘content marketing’ – i.e. accepting payment from advertisers or brands to feature content created by the publisher or advertiser, often which looks like or otherwise tries to pass itself off as ‘normal’ content produced by the editorial team. Some publishers have already created their own content studios to create it for clients – in effect a part of the newsroom which produces editorial-like content for commercial clients. At some, there is no clear editorial/advertising newsroom divide. How clearly these articles are marked as being paid for by advertisers varies. See&nbsp;<a href="http://endersanalysis.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e582e02c78012221c8698a563&amp;id=5882631e50&amp;e=800a69d40e" target="_blank"><em>Content marketing: publishers’ saviour? [2015-057]</em></a>&nbsp;for a discussion of these issues.<br />&nbsp;<br />There is an additional problem specific to news origination: the unique value of an original news story in a print newspaper is destroyed since online allows any news story a site publishes to be copied instantly by its rivals. In most cases, they will write up their own version of the story and link to the site that broke the story, but in some instances sites have been known to copy stories without attribution, and even plagiarise articles wholesale. The incentive to produce original news to drive consumption has been reduced.<br />&nbsp;<br />In effect, news publishers are able to capture a smaller share of the value generated from news origination. Even if a news story is behind a paywall, a free, ad-funded rival can put together its own write-up of the story within minutes. Of course, it may still be worth producing some kinds of original news stories if the traffic they would generate for the site would still be worth the cost, or if there is brand value in being seen to do a certain amount of original news. The point is that it has become less profitable for news publishers to originate news, and strong reasons to think less will be done as a result.<br />&nbsp;<br />The ease with which anything newsworthy can be copied by rival sites produces a move towards forms of content less able to be copied – journalism where the value resides less in the basic information conveyed and more in the way it is presented or written – video, graphics, long form writing to some extent. Some newspapers are drifting towards the magazine format online.<br />&nbsp;<br />The lower profitability of news online also shifts output away from more costly stories. Foreign and investigative reporting, coverage of subjects which require specialist knowledge like science, economics or law, will suffer. Local news is also particularly troubled. Its appeal is inherently limited by geography, and so will find it difficult to generate the scale necessary to be funded purely through advertising revenue. Equally, putting paywalls around local news content may just lead users to consume less local news content and more of other abundant free content.<br />&nbsp;<br />True, digital technology has made production of many kinds of content cheaper than ever before: smartphones take pictures or video; social media allows information to be ‘crowdsourced’; data is easily acquired and illustrated by charts. Journalism is probably easier to do and cheaper in some ways.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Zao37Jew72hTSTZk4rPyDcQwnN4T8PTkwub3UoMOtRg/mtime:1440508992/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders11.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/xderoLvO-GRefLPtbcg7lh2yae96wvnoLt6CMSNCXxc/mtime:1440508792/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders11.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="271" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The number of journalists employed in the US is shrinking (Figure 11); the same is happening in the UK, but we lack reliable data. Those journalists who still have jobs are having to produce more output each, inevitably leaving less time for original reporting and fact checking. Meanwhile, many laid-off newspaper journalists are entering an industry which will pay more for their skills: public relations. The ratio of public relations specialists to news reporters and correspondents is now nearly five to one in the US. Again, there is a lack of UK data but we have no reason to think the situation is much different here.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>Is the BBC crowding out commercial competition?</strong><br />&nbsp;<br />This section examines certain claims as to how the BBC is ‘crowding out’ made by the commercial newspaper sector’s traffic or revenues. Specifically, it examines:</p><ul><li>- The nature of the BBC’s advantages over other news publishers</li></ul><p><span>- Whether the BBC is damaging commercial sector advertising revenues</span></p><p><span>- Whether it is undermining the commercial sector’s ability to charge for its products</span></p><p><span>- The role of the BBC in the local press’s difficulties</span></p><p><strong><em>The BBC’s advantages over other news publishers</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />Over a decade ago, when BBC News launched, the BBC had a substantial head start over newspaper brands in the race to build an online audience. Its brand was universally known thanks to the nightly TV news programmes that gave it (and still do) a larger audience than the print readership of most, perhaps all, national newspapers. It has been internationally renowned for decades because of the World Service. Its public purposes require it to serve all parts of the UK’s population, and regulation of its content for impartiality aids it in doing so.<br />&nbsp;<br />By contrast, national newspapers have consciously pursued a comparatively narrow but strong appeal in order to persuade consumers to buy them regularly, and in order to sell a defined audience to advertisers. In the online environment, where business models generally require accepting lower ARPU but building huge scale, the BBC has not needed to adjust its editorial model as radically as many newspapers are having to.<br />&nbsp;<br />The BBC had further inherent advantages. Publicly funded through the licence fee, the BBC was able to see only opportunity online, not a threat to its profitability. One of its public purposes has been to spur take-up of new technologies, and the BBC invested more seriously in building a news website at an earlier stage than most (but not all) national or local newspaper publishers. Rather than having ‘imperial ambitions’, the corporation has simply sought to fulfil the objectives set for it. As a publicly accountable institution, it can do no more or less.<br />&nbsp;<br />The BBC may have had a head start in the online race, but some newspaper publishers are now catching up. MailOnline almost matches the scale of the regular audience for BBC News. Newspapers have invested in digital capabilities, making efforts to broaden their appeal – for instance through adopting a more pluralist editorial model than they had in print – and building much bigger scale, including expanding into other English language markets.<br />&nbsp;<br />The corporation’s funding has been cut in real terms over the last five years, and the government has already decided that it needs to be cut much further over the next five years. Although the amount spent on news, sport and weather content online rose in the most recent year, the increase came after several years of it being essentially flat (Figure 12). The evidence for ‘imperial ambitions’ is lacking. Increasing competition from the expanding US brands and its recent difficult funding settlement mean its share of news consumption is much more likely to go down than up over the next few years.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/L7IGrwaLZiQXpkgKJUxcTawxGCgbVmzSn-kjpP5oSmo/mtime:1440508993/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders12.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/h01ZOAv1vg2BVV6H6AuVhLU30u2UkWVh2Y2fu50Skpc/mtime:1440508858/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders12.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="257" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><strong><em>The BBC’s impact on commercial sector online advertising revenue</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />A characteristic of the internet as a medium is that it represents, unlike TV time which is tied to home/couch time, a truly incremental expansion of time devoted to media in the average person’s day. The always-on experience delivered by a smartphone is amongst the reasons why <a href="http://media.ofcom.org.uk/files/2015/CMR-2015-Analyst_briefing.pdf" target="_blank">average adult online consumption attained 89 hours in March 2015</a> (Ofcom), while interfering little with time devoted to work, sleep and TV. This market expansion has meant that sites can each gain audience, without a zero-sum game being played for audiences.<br />&nbsp;<br />The internet removes many of the constraints that limited news consumption in the offline world of radio, TV and newspapers. Users may augment and redesign their media diet entirely by accessing a wide diversity of news sites, aggregator news sites like Google News, or social media platforms like Facebook where users post links.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />Wider choice leads to greater variation across individuals in the exact mix of news genres consumed. Some may consume an awful lot more news throughout the day instead of twice or three times. Because the number of news outlets is so wide, and much wider than what comScore calls “news sites”, it is in fact impossible to say whether news consumption as a whole across all media is rising or shrinking in the UK thanks to the internet. Many consumers enjoy the wider choice of news sources, among the tangible benefits of the internet.<br />&nbsp;<br />This swelling audience for online news will naturally lead to more inventory being made available on commercial news sites. However, the CPM of that inventory will be impacted by the rising share sold through programmatic, as was noted above.<br />&nbsp;<br />In this context, what might the Green Paper’s “crowding out” mean? While the government has not defined the notion there, the BBC might be attracting an audience that would otherwise dwell more on commercial sites and allow them to generate more advertising revenue.<br />&nbsp;<br />There are three reasons to doubt this.<br />&nbsp;<br />First, BBC News is not a close substitute for the service offered by commercial news publishers. Many consumers rate BBC News more highly for trustworthiness, impartiality and quality. According to a survey from Ofcom, 59% of the population claims to consult the BBC for their online news, compared to 18% consulting Google and 17% consulting Facebook. For many UK adults, the BBC is their only news source, and might simply consume less news if the BBC is not available to them online.<br />&nbsp;<br />Second, some of the traffic other publishers currently receive comes from the BBC’s news site. Since the independent review of BBC Online in 2005, the service’s licence conditions set by the BBC Trust contain a deliberate policy of linking out to other publishers’ sites where possible, and the Trust assesses its performance in this regard.&nbsp;Whatever substitution of BBC News content for that of other publishers goes on must therefore be balanced against the traffic the latter gain from being linked to by the BBC.<br />&nbsp;<br />Third, some of the publishers best placed to take advantage of the BBC’s retreat from online news are UK newspaper brands, others are not. Plausibly, The Guardian, which specialises in harder news than MailOnline, would benefit to some degree, as would aggregators and US brands currently expanding into the UK market. Many of these are very serious about building up their UK operations: in the last year BuzzFeed, for instance, has hired the editor of the Guardian website, its special projects and news editor, the comment editor and an assistant comment editor from the Telegraph, an assistant editor from the Sunday Times, and another Sunday Times journalist who won Journalist of the Year in 2013. It appears to have intentions to expand into the provision of regional news. Clearly it is serious about competing for a large share of UK news traffic.<br />&nbsp;<br />However, it has to be conceded that the traffic windfall from the BBC closing its news site might well improve the position of some UK news publishers. Expanding the supply of online inventory will expand associated revenues to some degree. At the same time, it is implausible that the closure of BBC News would alter the low ARPU of online news nor solve any of the core business model problems we have already outlined for newspaper publishers.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong><em>The BBC’s impact on commercial sector subscription models</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />The charge that the BBC is responsible for the difficulty of charging for news online has been made repeatedly over the years. <a href="http://www.thetvfestival.com/website/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/GEITF_MacTaggart_2009_James_Murdoch.pdf" target="_blank">In his 2009 MacTaggart lecture</a>, James Murdoch, then responsible for News International newspaper titles The Times and The Sunday Times, argued:<br />&nbsp;<br /><em>“Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the internet. Yet it is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it. We seem to have decided as a society to let independence and plurality wither. To let the BBC throttle the news market and then get bigger to compensate”</em><br />&nbsp;<br />It is possible that the presence of BBC News reduces consumers’ willingness to pay for news behind a paywall, as we suggested in our report&nbsp;<em><a href="http://endersanalysis.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=e582e02c78012221c8698a563&amp;id=43d559861d&amp;e=800a69d40e" target="_blank">New phase for news brands [2015-016]</a></em>. The core difficulty, however, resides elsewhere: the viability of free, ad-funded news sites, particularly in the English language, together with the massive supply of content from other sources.<br /><br />This is not to say that a paywall strategy cannot ever work. One outstanding example of a successful transition to digital is the Financial Times: in 2014, total circulation grew 10% year-on-year to nearly 720,000 across print and online. FT.com subscriptions grew 21% to almost 504,000, with digital now representing 70% of the FT’s total paying audience. Behind this success, we would argue, is a fairly unique set of factors:</p><ul><li>- The FT’s model is to sell high quality, accurate, timely journalism&nbsp;about subjects which consumers aren’t interested in, particularly the financial sector, to business subscribers who have a high willingness to pay for the service</li></ul><p><span>- The majority of digital subscription growth is due to corporates, without which the FT would find it harder to charge £280 for regular and £380 for premium subscriptions</span></p><p><span>- The FT is able to further monetise its business subscribers by selling them events, special reports and also selling the typically wealthy audience’s attention to advertisers for its supplements</span></p><p>Politico has a similar hybrid model: about 40% of its revenue comes from subscriptions to its high quality, in-depth coverage of political and regulatory developments sold to businesses for thousands of pounds, and the rest of its revenue comes from events for those businesses and from advertisers seeking to reach its wealthy, influential audience. So the FT cannot be used as an example of a successful digital&nbsp;<em>consumer-focused</em>&nbsp;news business.<br />&nbsp;<br />If BBC News online disappeared tomorrow, more people might well pay for a digital subscription to <em>The Times</em>, but the vast majority would go to the huge plethora of free, ad-funded news sites available. Even if the subscription model is viable online for some, it will not fund consumer news. It might fund information services for businesses that offer bespoke content – the FT/Politico model – but consumer news is instantly replicable.<br />&nbsp;<br />The 6% share of the population paying for news is lower in the UK than many other countries (Figure 13); however, it is not radically lower and seems to be uncorrelated with the presence of a public broadcaster in the national market. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/yhbxp5dCP_C3QrlqnMOs0fc3eakuj1cpMoc-5P8Tt6I/mtime:1440508993/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders13.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/HL3-kRD5tx3pIBXLRbs-M4R7PXx6Os4E1XzqquECLV4/mtime:1440508922/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/enders13.png" alt="" title="" width="444" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><strong><em>Crowding out local newspapers</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />The UK’s local press has made the ‘crowding out’ argument forcefully over the years. The BBC had a head start in online news provision and it is possible that the BBC had a negative impact on the audience of certain local news sites until the policy of linking out to those sites was formally implemented. There is no doubt that a new supply of licence fee funded local news gathered by the BBC will significantly increase the challenges faced by local newspaper digital services, which produce news stories that are only of interest to local audiences.<br />&nbsp;<br />Three developments have reignited the issue of local news provision by BBC News:</p><ol><li>James Harding, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, author of a report on “The Future of News” issued in January 2015 said: “Devolution and the decline of the regional press are creating a real need for local news coverage: the BBC is going to have to do more to provide local news that properly serves all parts of the UK.”10&nbsp; The report justifies the expansion of the BBC News’ local provision by pointing to the extent of local newspaper closures, reduced frequency of titles (daily to weekly) and the (alleged) 10 year loss of some 5,000 journalists</li><li>The Culture, Media and Sport Committee (CMSC) report on <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/culture-media-and-sport-committee/news/report-future-of-bbc/" target="_blank">“The Future of the BBC” published in February 2015</a> said “the BBC potentially could have a key position in helping to sustain local media organisations through a more collaborative approach to the industry”&nbsp;and recommended “extending the BBC’s independent production quota to cover local news.”</li><li>James Harding responded that the BBC had “promised to improve attribution of stories which originate in local papers and agreed to a formal audit of how many BBC website stories originate in the local press. We have suggested other news organisations might consider covering such things as sport and courts for the BBC, we have hosted an industry event on data journalism and we are exploring joint ventures in local areas during the General Election campaign.”</li></ol><p>If local news is one area where the BBC is planning to expand, then it could become&nbsp;<em>more</em>&nbsp;threatening to local newspaper businesses. Back in 2008 we were deeply concerned about the implications of the BBC’s proposed local video initiative (see&nbsp;<a href="http://endersanalysis.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e582e02c78012221c8698a563&amp;id=b231f71907&amp;e=800a69d40e" target="_blank"><em>Local media and BBC video [2008-107]</em></a>), which was subsequently and robustly rejected by the BBC Trust.<br />&nbsp;<br />Local media have long alleged that the BBC has filled its local radio, local online and local TV services with stories originated by local newspapers without attribution. James Harding tells us that the BBC intends to address this problem, and more broadly will support local media through its website.<br />&nbsp;<br />Overall, though, we consider the disruptive effects of online on the news business model to be a far greater issue for local newspaper publishers than any impact from BBC activities. We addressed the scale and breadth of challenges in the local media sector in our recent report&nbsp;<em><a href="http://endersanalysis.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e582e02c78012221c8698a563&amp;id=26060f8e94&amp;e=800a69d40e" target="_blank">Local media: new structures emerging [2015-032]</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>If the BBC is crowding out commercial news suppliers, is this justified?</strong><br />&nbsp;<br />Our report highlights that we do not believe the BBC’s online activities have had or are having a material impact on the newspaper industry’s ability to generate revenue from either online consumers or advertisers. The causes of their problems are much larger than the BBC.<br />&nbsp;<br />However, what has been lacking in the debate so far is some recognition that&nbsp;<em>even if</em>&nbsp;there were evidence of a negative market impact on certain commercial news publishers, that impact needs to be weighed against the various public benefits, which the BBC’s presence in online news delivers. <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/05_07_04_graf.pdf" target="_blank">As the DCMS-commissioned Graf review published in 2004 pointed out</a>: “no single number (such as the amount of commercial revenue that may have been displaced by BBC Online) can capture the extent of market impact.”<br />&nbsp;<br />BBC News could still be of considerable net benefit to the public even if it gathers audiences that might possibly devote their attention to commercial sites if BBC News was simply not there. Three benefits in particular stand out:</p><ul><li>- The supply of ‘hard news’</li></ul><p><span>- The consumption of hard news among the UK population, with beneficial downstream effects on political engagement and turnout</span></p><p><span>- The consumption of BBC News in the world, boosting the UK’s global influence and soft power</span></p><p><strong><em>Supply of hard news</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />There is no doubt that the BBC performs well its role of gathering and presenting ‘hard news’. As a publicly funded institution with defined public purposes, the BBC is able to focus squarely on what is socially beneficial. Society clearly benefits from hard news provision in a host of ways, and the BBC invests in its provision untroubled by the problem of a return. Moreover, the resources devoted to the site also help TV and radio news services, and conversely.<br />&nbsp;<br />Hard news for consumers is a segment that few commercial publishers have chosen to contest. Commercial publishers find hard news expensive to produce and it attracts no higher a CPM than soft news and entertainment, replica news or clickbait, which are much cheaper to produce.<br />&nbsp;<br />Another casualty would be the plurality of media. As noted in the introduction, BBC News is the sole source of professionally produced impartial, quality, independent news in the UK, and is not substitutable by commercial news sites, even to an imperfect degree. Scaling back BBC News would appear absurd at a time when commercial hard news provision is so troubled.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong><em>Consumption of hard news</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />As already outlined, scaling back BBC News online would deny many people their preferred news service. Given the importance of news consumption for political knowledge, and the importance of political knowledge not just for informed voting but for electoral turnout altogether, we think the government should be extremely cautious about doing anything that could lead to that outcome.<br />&nbsp;<br />If BBC News online is scaled back, the UK also weakens a major source of its soft power around the world, at a time when other state funded news organisations like Russia Today and Al Jazeera are expanding.<br />&nbsp;<br />The report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence from 2014 mentions the BBC 207 times. Instructive quotes are:</p><ul><li>- “Soft power involves working to affect the preferences of others by using networks, developing and communicating compelling narratives, establishing international norms, building coalitions, and drawing on the key resources that endear one country to another”</li></ul><p><span>- “National broadcasters are often seen as a ‘soft power asset’ because they increase&nbsp;international awareness of a country, and promote understanding in their audiences about that country’s story, values, people and aspirations, as well as furthering other aspects of the country’s international agenda (such as encouraging development)…The fact that the BBC can bite the hand that feeds it occasionally means the BBC is seen as credible rather than as propaganda. You do not see that with the Chinese media broadcasters”</span></p><p>This does more than bring the UK to the world since it also drives people to buy UK goods and services, including through tourism. The UK is also the second top exporter of audiovisual products and services, behind the United States.<br />&nbsp;<br />Why do BBC international services appeal?</p><ul><li>- Quality: the BBC Trust has laid out guidelines for the BBC’s public service remit to bring the UK to the world, which emphasises the accuracy, impartiality and independence of its news as the primary value. The BBC stakes a claim to being the most trusted news organisation globally</li></ul><p><span>- Supplied in English and 27 other languages: To optimise its reach globally, BBC.com is supplied in English and 27 other languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi, Russian and Mandarin</span></p><ul><li><span><br /></span></li></ul><ul><li>- Multi-platform and multi-device: The BBC has created dedicated apps to allow its services to be consumed across connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers and connected TVs</li></ul><p><strong><em>Conclusions</em></strong><br />&nbsp;<br />If news consumption is in large part destined to occur online, as we believe it is, then eliminating or scaling back BBC News will irreparably damage the supply of hard news, the plurality of media, and the quality of political and societal debate in the UK. It could also damage the supply of TV and radio news.<br />&nbsp;<br />For those who believe that public opinion should be fought over by commercial news publishers alone, as is the case of the US, then a world without BBC News will be seen as a positive outcome. <a href="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/breadth_opinion/content_analysis.pdf" target="_blank">Some suspect BBC News of an innate and unacceptable left-wing bias</a>, despite the conditions of its service licence and the absence of evidence.<br />&nbsp;<br />This is not to say that the BBC has no ostensible stance: part of its public purposes require it to be independent of the party in power and the government of the day. It follows that if the government is sincerely concerned about the problem of BBC bias, its focus should instead be on ways of making the BBC less accountable to the government of the day and more directly accountable to the people of the UK.<br />&nbsp;<br />The BBC Trust has intimated in its initial response to the Green Paper that it will conduct full Market Impact Assessments (MIAs) on, for example, online news, entertainment and drama. Ofcom has developed a methodology for MIAs used to assess BBC proposals for new or expanded services, which it has deployed since 2007 under its statutory duties on a number of Public Value Assessments (PVAs) conducted by the BBC Trust. None of these MIAs have concerned BBC News online, and the BBC’s plans for local video services were rejected.<br />&nbsp;<br />An objective and professionally conducted MIA for online news by Ofcom will provide vital evidence to the government in the Charter Review. Ofcom’s methodology could be repurposed to address the question of whether a scaling back of BBC News online will produce a net positive market impact on consumers and producers. This is the evidence the government needs to obtain prior to deciding whether the BBC News online should be scaled back.</p><p><strong><em>This report is published with thanks to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.endersanalysis.com/" target="_blank">Enders Analysis&nbsp;</a></em></strong></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="/ourbeeb/nick-fraser/bbc-and-its-poetry">The BBC and its poetry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/alex-connock/britain%E2%80%99s-creative-kickstarter-bbc">Britain’s creative kickstarter: the BBC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/andrew-whitehead/does-world-service-have-future">Does the World Service have a future?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/gill-hind-toby-syfret/bbc-green-paper-red-alert-on-funding">BBC Green Paper: red alert on funding </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/david-elstein/red-alert-for-bbc-response-to-enders-analysis">Red alert for the BBC: a response to Enders Analysis</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb OurKingdom A post-broadcast BBC Douglas McCabe Leo Watkins Alice Enders Wed, 26 Aug 2015 09:19:59 +0000 Douglas McCabe, Leo Watkins and Alice Enders 95477 at https://opendemocracy.net What the Labour leadership candidates say on macroeconomic policy https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jeremy-smith/what-labour-leadership-candidates-say-on-macroeconomic-policy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What do the Labour leadership candidates propose to do about the economy?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/vMsn5fNOixs4914YeD4dhzgs0KHUzR-cSu0KDAHpoBw/mtime:1440420292/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/No-Austerity-protest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/HqIku4M6Mxliw0I0aTgmenG-6LMYvKIQnM8C5fyUjbg/mtime:1440420265/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/No-Austerity-protest.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><span>With the Labour leadership campaign exciting a lot of interest, we thought it would be helpful (we have not seen it done elsewhere) to set out the views of the candidates, in their own words, on macroeconomic and fiscal policy. &nbsp;Of course, those voting&nbsp;will not only take economic policy into account when deciding whom to vote for – but it is certainly an important factor. &nbsp;Especially since&nbsp;George Osborne has - so far and for so long - been allowed to frame the economic debate on his own (heavily political) terms&nbsp;with much&nbsp;success.</span></p><p>We cite each&nbsp;candidate, taken&nbsp;in alphabetical order. Some have spoken or written at much greater length than others – we provide readers with the links to each of the main sources we have found. &nbsp;Please let us know if we have missed any - we would happily correct or add to what follows!</p><p>I have also put some passages from the candidates in bold, where they deal with the issue of responsibility for the crisis, with deficits and debt, and with the economic record of the last Labour government. &nbsp;This is not because other aspects are unimportant, but because the approach to the political framing of Mr Osborne (“you can’t trust Labour&nbsp;with the economy”) rests on these pillars.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Andy Burnham</strong></h3><p>On 15th July, Andy Burnham made a lengthy speech, “<a href="https://medium.com/@Andy4Leader/labour-must-be-the-party-that-offers-a-different-future-to-the-british-people-one-where-everyone-910833852026" target="_blank">A Labour Vision for a New Economy</a>” which covered a broad range of subjects. &nbsp;We recommend readers to read it in its entirety. &nbsp;Here are some key extracts (themselves quite long!):</p><p>So now seems the right moment for me to set out what I believe is a better vision for our economy.</p><p>As Leader I will work every single day to re-establish Labour as the Party of work, both employed and self-employed, the Party of business, small, medium and large, and the Party of economic credibility.</p><p>Today, I will set out the key components of my vision to do that.</p><p>A Labour vision with fiscal responsibility at its heart and where growth helps reduce our national debt.</p><p>Where government works in constructive partnership with business and unions, not picking fights with one or the other.</p><p>Where we rebalance business taxation to take taxes off businesses starting out and on the way up.</p><p>Where a high-skilled and high-paid workforce contributes to and shares in our national success, and where the millions of self-employed people are better recognised and supported.</p><p>And where we get on and deliver the infrastructure and new homes that our country needs.</p><p>But, the hard truth for my party is that George Osborne wouldn’t have been setting out a Conservative Budget at all if Labour had been trusted to set out the alternative.</p><p>So, I also want to talk about the fundamental problem facing my party – winning back the trust that we lost back in the financial crisis.</p><p>That loss of trust has now cost my party two elections. It will cost us a third if we do not address it. &nbsp;And perhaps more importantly it has taken Britain back to a decade of Conservative government.</p><p>Our response now and in the years to come must be driven by a burning desire to win back trust. &nbsp;If I am elected leader, winning that trust will be central to my leadership and that of my team.</p><p>My argument today is that we will only win back that trust by being straight with people about our past in government, about the challenges Britain today faces and about our plans for the future.</p><p>There is no substitute in politics for being direct with people – and trust comes from people knowing that you will be straight with them and do what’s right even when it’s unpopular.</p><p>So today I set out five clear principles that I believe should be at the heart of Labour’s vision for delivering a UK economy fit for the future and fit for the British people.</p><p>First of all, a balanced and sustainable economy must be based on balanced and sustainable public finances.</p><p>And the trust we seek to regain can only come with a true account of our record in Government.</p><p><strong><em>We achieved many great things but we can see now that it would have been better to have been spending less in the run-up to the crash.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>It wouldn’t have prevented it.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Our investments in public services didn’t cause the global financial crisis.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>But it would have meant we were in a stronger position to deal with the consequences.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>That is not an easy admission for Labour to make, but it is a fair one. &nbsp;And it is necessary if we are to win back the confidence of people....</em></strong></p><p>I believe this honesty about our past is necessary to move forward, but on its own it won’t build credibility or provide answers for the future.</p><p><em><strong>On the eve of the financial crisis national debt had been reduced to just 37% of GDP by the last Labour government, and we had run more surpluses than the Tories had managed to in 18 years.</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>The deficit we were running was small by historical standards.</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>And, as I said at the start, I want to be clear that Labour spending on education and the health service didn’t cause the global banking crisis.</strong></em></p><p>I am proud of our legacy on the NHS with public satisfaction at a record high and waiting times at a record low. &nbsp;And I’m proud that we rebuilt thousands of schools and colleges and raised educational standards.</p><p><strong><em>But, small though it was, we were still running a deficit at the peak of a booming economy.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>That is why I began my leadership campaign by acknowledging that in government we should have done more to control spending in the middle of the last decade, so that we were better prepared when the crisis hit….</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>The question facing Britain in the future is how to clear the deficit and run a surplus without making the mistakes of either the last Labour government in overestimating growing tax revenues, or the mistakes of George Osborne’s first term in which savage cuts stifled growth and set back deficit reduction.</em></strong></p><p>Last week’s budget, which disproportionately hit families in work, is no answer to this question.</p><p><strong><em>Labour under my leadership will always run sound public finances and we will reduce the national debt, back toward its sustainable pre-global financial crisis levels.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>But we will ensure that growth is as important in our plan as being careful on spending. &nbsp;And what we spend money on will be as important as how much we spend.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>We will ensure that delivering long term public spending on investment is never sacrificed for short term political convenience.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>I will therefore give the Office of Budget Responsibility the role of regularly auditing government’s investment plans, to ensure enough is being spent on the long term projects that will grow the economy and most effectively reduce our debt levels, while raising living standards....</em></strong></p><p>A true partnership with all types of businesses and the self-employed will inform my approach to the other elements of my vision.</p><p>That is why I will also look to work with business on my third principle; a pro-growth rebalancing of business taxes</p><p>I will as leader appoint an independent commission on business tax reform, to ensure that the tax system supports those who are starting out and those who are trying to grow their business.</p><p>Osborne claims that his budget measures fall on those with the broadest shoulders. &nbsp;But just as it is untrue of his personal taxation and tax credit changes, so it is untrue of the UK’s business tax regime.</p><p>It must be in the interest of both businesses and the wider economy that taxes are kept low on those struggling to start up and grow, with those who are established taking their fair share of the burden.</p><p>Such an approach will help grow the overall tax base and create more jobs – reducing demands for welfare spending – all of which will lower the tax burden for all in the longer term.</p><h3><strong>Yvette Cooper</strong></h3><p>We have not been able to find a recent speech or article by Yvette Cooper that deals with macroeconomic policy specifically. &nbsp;On 8th July, she made a speech “<a href="http://www.yvetteforlabour.co.uk/a_budget_that_betrays_working_parents" target="_blank">A budget that betrays working parents</a>” in which she said:&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Of course the deficit and the debt need to come down. Of course Labour would have had to make tough decisions to get back into surplus.</em></strong>&nbsp;That is why I identified £800m in savings in the home office budget whilst protecting frontline policing- from things like abolishing Police and Crime Commissioners. But it is also why I think George Osborne’s plan to cut inheritance tax now for some of the richest estates is the wrong priority.</p><p>Because there is an alternative to George Osborne’s plans. The Tories' approach isn't fair, and isn't good for our economy and our country in the long term.</p><p>At the same time as hitting Britain's families, the Tories are failing to deliver the balanced growth and high paid jobs we need for the future - that also helps bring the deficit down.</p><p>Growth has been revised down this year. So have exports. And so has productivity. That means we're not getting the high skilled jobs our country needs. We need a national mission to almost double R&amp;D investment in our economy to match the 3% of GDP our competitors invest and there were no measures in today’s budget to do that...</p><p>At the same time as hitting Britain's families, the Tories are failing to deliver<strong><em>&nbsp;the balanced growth and high paid jobs we need for the future - that also helps bring the deficit down.</em></strong></p><p>The Chancellor talks about one nation – but he doesn’t think parents are part of that one nation. He talks about a long term plan but he is happy for stagnant growth with weak exports and low productivity to drag our debt up and our economy down.</p><p>Labour needs to have the strength to stand for a better approach – for a stronger economy with sustainable public finances and a fairer, less divided country: the two things go hand in hand.</p><p>On 15 July, in an article in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/yvette-cooper/welfare-reform_b_7802378.html?utm_hp_ref=uk&amp;ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a>, she wrote:</p><p>[T]he welfare system still doesn't work effectively enough to support work and security in the modern world. People are worried about the welfare system at the moment and the Tories exploit those concerns to try to justify cutting tax credits in this way. Budgets are also going to be tight while we get the debt and the deficit down, so we have to look for savings wherever we can.&nbsp;</p><p>That is why Labour called for a higher minimum wage and living wage in the first place, saving money as well as getting employees and better deal. So we should welcome the Government's planned increase at the same time as calling on them to go further for young people who have so far been left out. And it’s why we have long argued for more housing to stop the housing benefit bill going up and up.</p><p>Ms Cooper is also quoted (<a href="https://www.politicshome.com/economy-and-work/articles/story/yvette-cooper-rejects-labour-over-spending-narrative" target="_blank">source: Politics Home</a>) as having said, on BBC Radio 4 News at One (13th May):</p><p><em><strong>The deficit at the time was 0.6%, the current deficit, and all the political parties at the time were all supporting the spending plans, and that was all due to come down.</strong></em></p><p><strong><em>But I think there’s been a focus on that as if that was the economic issue of the time, and the real economic issue of the time was that we had banks who were involved in huge private lending that nobody had spotted the scale of; private sector debt that had been growing up that was unsecured; the links between the financial sector all over the world</em>,&nbsp;</strong>particularly into the housing market crisis in America, because if you remember it started with those bad loans in America that then shot across the world.</p><h3><strong>Jeremy Corbyn</strong></h3><p>Jeremy Corbyn has set out his position on economic policy in two places – first, and more briefly, in an article in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-robin-hood-tax-is-a-more-sensible-and-fairer-way-of-helping-our-economy-to-recover-10429501.html" target="_blank">The Independent on 31st July&nbsp;</a>which though entitled “The Robin Hood Tax is a more sensible and fairer way of helping our economy to recover” partly covers a broader remit; and second, in an 8-page policy document&nbsp;<a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jeremyforlabour/pages/70/attachments/original/1437556345/TheEconomyIn2020_JeremyCorbyn-220715.pdf?1437556345" target="_blank">“The Economy in 2020</a>”. &nbsp;Again, please read the full document to get the full picture. First, from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-robin-hood-tax-is-a-more-sensible-and-fairer-way-of-helping-our-economy-to-recover-10429501.html" target="_blank">The Independent:</a></p><p>[The Financial Transactions Tax] is based on two very simple concepts. The first, as the name suggests, is based on the idea that the rich should contribute a little more to stop the suffering of the poorest; and secondly&nbsp;<strong><em>the economic reality that it was the reckless behaviour of the finance sector that got us into this mess and they should be paying for it.</em></strong></p><p>If we cast our minds back almost eight years, to September 2007,&nbsp;<strong><em>customers were not queuing out of the doors of Northern Rock branches because a Labour government had spent too much on nurses and teachers.</em></strong>&nbsp;Just two weeks before, George Osborne had backed Labour’s spending plans.</p><p><strong><em>Labour does have some responsibility for the crash. Not because we spent too much, but because we didn’t regulate enough....</em></strong></p><p>We are still paying for the last crisis, and yet there are fears in the bond markets and in the housing market that things are becoming unstable again. As these warnings become louder, Chancellor George Osborne has made a concerted effort to resist any regulation on the finance sector, and in his recent budget announced that the bank levy will be wound down – even as he announces further welfare cuts for the poorest.</p><p>His policies of pay restraint, house price inflation and a reliance on rising consumer debt look to be setting the scene for another slowdown, if not worse. As the party funded by hedge funds, it is no surprise that this most ideological of chancellors has appointed a hedge fund partner to the vacancy on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.</p><p>The monetary levers that bailed us out last time will not be available again. Interest rates are already at zero, the Bank of England has already poured £375 billion into its quantitative easing, and we are running a larger deficit with more debt than in 2007.</p><p>The route to recovery for all cannot rely on the systemically reckless speculation of the City of London...</p><p>And next, here are some key extracts from his&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jeremyforlabour/pages/70/attachments/original/1437556345/TheEconomyIn2020_JeremyCorbyn-220715.pdf?1437556345" target="_blank">policy paper&nbsp;</a>(as with&nbsp; speeches etc. of other candidates, we encourage&nbsp;readers to read the whole thing):</p><p>Wealth creation is a good thing: we all want greater prosperity.</p><p>But let us have a serious debate about how wealth is created.</p><p>If you believe the Conservative myth then wealth creation is solely due to the dynamic risk-taking of private equity funds, entrepreneurs or billionaires bringing their investment to UK shores.</p><p>So if we follow the Conservative’s tale then it is logical to cut taxes for the rich and big business, not to bother to invest in the workforce, and be intensely relaxed about the running down of public services.</p><p>But in reality wealth creation is a collective process between workers, public investment and services, and, yes, often innovative and creative individuals.</p><p>Understanding this means getting to grips with the key choice in the leadership election and indeed the key choice facing Britain:</p><p>Whether to accept austerity or whether to break free of this straitjacket and strike out for a modern, rebalanced economy based on growth and high quality jobs.</p><p>Labour must create a balanced economy that ensures workers and government share fairly in the wealth creation process</p><ul><li>that encourages and supports innovation in every sector of the economy; and</li><li>that invests in skills and infrastructure to build an economy that is more&nbsp;sustainable and more equal.</li></ul><p>The purpose of this document is to set out some of the key parts of that vision. That includes not only the overall approach we must take to the economy as a whole, but some specific key changes on taxation.</p><p>But look deeper and Osborne’s Budget and a familiar story emerges: tax cuts at the top. This time for the 4% who currently pay inheritance tax, and then for corporations again. &nbsp;And who bears the brunt?&nbsp;</p><p>Once again it’s low income families, disabled people, young people, public sector workers, and our public services.</p><p>So we see that austerity is about political choices, not economic necessities.&nbsp;</p><p>There is money available:&nbsp;</p><p>The inheritance tax changes will lose the government over £2.5 billion in revenue between now and 2020.</p><p>What responsible government committed to closing the deficit would give a tax break to the richest 4% of households?&nbsp;</p><p>The Conservatives are giving away to the very rich twice as much as reducing the benefit cap will raise by further impoverishing the poorest.&nbsp;</p><p>Another choice was to cut corporation tax - already the lowest in the G7 at 20%. &nbsp;Lower too than the 25% in China, and half the 40% rate in the United States.&nbsp;</p><p>That political choice will see our revenue intake from big business fall by £2.5 billion in 2020. That’s nearly twice the amount saved by cutting child tax credits beyond two children.</p><p>So closing the deficit and austerity are just the cover for the same old Conservative policies: run down public services, slash the welfare state, sell-off public assets and give tax cuts to the wealthiest.</p><p>This is why I stood in this race:&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>Because Labour shouldn’t be swallowing the story that austerity is anything other than a new facade for the same Tory plans.</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>We all want the deficit closed on the current budget, but there was no need to try to do it within an artificial five years or even the extra five years George Osborne mapped out two weeks ago.</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>If the deficit has been closed by 2020 and the economy is growing, then Labour should not run a current budget deficit – but we should borrow to invest in our future prosperity. &nbsp;</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>You don’t close the deficit fairly or sustainably through cuts.</strong></em></p><p><em><strong>You close it through growing a balanced and sustainable economy that works for all. &nbsp;And by asking those with income and wealth to spare to contribute more.</strong></em></p><p>If Osborne’s forecasts are right there won’t be a deficit by 2020, but if - like last time - he is proved wrong and he only again manages to halve the deficit then I make this pledge:</p><p>Labour will close the current budget deficit through building a strong growing economy that works for all. We will not do it by increasing poverty.</p><p>The discussion about the deficit leads us to the clearest possible choice.</p><p>Rather than remove spending power from the economy and damage growth and future prosperity, Britain needs a publicly-led expansion and reconstruction of the economy.</p><p>We must put this centre-stage as the alternative to the current model of austerity for the poor, and deregulation, privatisation and never-ending corporate tax sweeteners for the super-rich and big business.</p><p>We need a fairer system for all, including on taxation..</p><p>But as a principle to create the kind of economy we need, Britain needs sharply rising levels of investment in the economy.</p><p>Faster growth and higher wages must be key to bringing down the deficit. Increased tax receipts and lower benefit demand are a better way forward than shutting local libraries and attacking the working poor.</p><p>If there are tough choices, we will always protect public services and support for the most vulnerable. Instead we will ask those who have been fortunate to contribute a little more. With a sustainable investment plan, we can ensure more people fall into that fortunate category too....</p><p>You cannot cut your way to prosperity. We need to invest in our future.</p><p>A strategic state cannot leave our infrastructure to deregulated privatised markets. They are failing people and holding backing our economy.</p><p>Modern housing, transport, digital and energy networks are the foundation stone of a modern economy, and we need to ensure they are among the best in the world.</p><p>Public investment in new publicly-owned infrastructure so that a future chancellor can deliver a sound economy, not just sound-bites….</p><p>The ‘rebalancing’ I have talked about here today means rebalancing away from finance towards the high-growth, sustainable sectors of the future. How do we do this?</p><p>One option would be for the Bank of England to be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects:</p><p>Quantitative easing for people instead of banks....</p><p>But whatever tax laws we pass, we won’t get a progressive tax system in reality unless we can enforce it and collect the tax we are owed…</p><p>Therefore I am announcing today that my fairer tax policies will include:</p><ul><li>The introduction of a proper anti-avoidance rule into UK tax law.</li><li>The aim of country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations.</li><li>&nbsp;Reform of small business taxation to discourage avoidance and tackle tax&nbsp;evasion.</li><li>Enforce proper regulation of companies in the UK to ensure that they file their accounts and tax returns and pay the taxes that they owe.</li><li>Lastly, and most importantly, a reversal of the cuts to staff in HMRC...</li></ul><p>[Our vision] means we judge our economy not by the presence of billionaires but by the absence of poverty; not only by whether GDP is rising, but by whether inequality is falling.</p><p>Labour must become the party of economic credibility AND economic justice.</p><h3><strong>&nbsp;Liz Kendall</strong></h3><p>On 30th June, Liz Kendall made a&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2015/06/30/liz-kendalls-speech-at-reuters/" target="_blank">major speech at Reuters&nbsp;</a>which centred on the economy, and was entitled “Responsibility and Reform”. &nbsp;The speech was set out in full in The Independent, and as with the other candidates, we recommend reading it in full. &nbsp;She said:</p><p>Today I’m here to talk about how Labour restores its economic credibility. How we become the responsible government this country needs – and the reforming government it deserves.</p><p>In today’s interdependent world much of our prosperity depends on the success of what happens beyond our borders. And the events in Greece, if allowed to spiral out of control, it will damage us here in the UK.</p><p>We need the Greek government and the Eurozone to find a mutually acceptable way forward. The Eurozone countries must seek every possible opportunity to secure a deal, so that Greece remains in a secure Eurozone. Similarly, the Greek government must make every effort to agree a timetable for structural economic reforms...</p><p>Over a century and a half, Reuters has had to innovate and adapt – embracing new technologies, entering new markets and always keeping an eye on the future.</p><p>I think we face similar challenges as a country. The world is changing fast and this can be an era of great opportunity for Britain. We have new technologies to work with, new partners to trade with and great national assets to build upon. We must be ready for the future.</p><p>That means fiscal responsibility, so that we spend less on debt interest and more on the things that we care about: creating prosperity and reducing inequality. And it means economic reform, so we spread power and see living standards rise when public finances are tight. Responsibility and reform.</p><p>The Government’s economic policy has failed on its own terms. George Osborne told us there would be no budget deficit by now, but we are not even close to wiping it out. He promised to rebalance the economy but we still face major problems in skills, productivity and the distribution of growth.</p><p>We won’t achieve sustained economic growth on the back of a property bubble. In parts of this city we have homes earning more than their owners. If we are not careful this will sow the seeds of the next financial crisis.</p><p>Under the Conservatives Britain has become world-class at creating low-paid jobs, and second class on the jobs of the future.</p><p>We have a Chancellor who talks about a ‘global race’ but an economy stuck in the slow lane. For the first time, the majority of people living in poverty are actually from working families. This is a national scandal, not an economic record to be proud of.</p><p>So it is Labour’s job to provide an alternative that people can believe in. That starts with re-establishing our reputation for fiscal responsibility.</p><p><strong><em>The financial crisis came about because of deep-seated international problems in the financial system. The Tories would like to write this out of history but it is the truth.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>It is also true that countries are not like households. Sometimes, in some years, governments need to run deficits. If Britain had not run a deficit at the start of the financial crisis the social and economic costs would have been much higher. But any country’s capacity to deal with shocks is dependent on long-term strength.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>And long-term strength comes from only running deficits when you have to, bringing them down as soon as you responsibly can, and running surpluses in the good years. &nbsp;Because however much we tell the truth about the causes of the financial crisis, any political party that wants to be elected must be trusted with people’s money.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Labour does not have that trust – and this must change. People expect us to act responsibly because they know the damage that’s done when that doesn’t happen. People’s taxes spent on servicing our national debt, instead of funding public services. This isn’t just a waste – it’s also a risk.</em></strong></p><p>Could the public finances withstand another crisis as deep as the last? No they could not. And as long as that is the case, our debts are too high. So under my leadership Labour will not take risks with our country’s future.</p><p><strong><em>We will bring debt down as a proportion of our GDP and we’ll make surpluses in the good times. We’ll do this so that we are strong enough to withstand economic shocks. And so we spend less on debt interest payments and more on making this country richer and fairer.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Fiscal responsibility is part of a proud Labour tradition.</em></strong>&nbsp;People forget the strong commitment to fiscal responsibility in previous Labour governments.</p><p>In 1923 the manifesto of our first government demanded “the steady drain of a million pounds a day in interest is stopped”.</p><p>In his 1948 budget statement Stafford Cripps said: “We must secure an exceptionally large Budget surplus”.</p><p>In 1964 Harold Wilson’s election winning manifesto criticised “an ever-increasing burden of interest payments on the national debt, [while] vital community services have been starved of resources”.</p><p>And in 1997 Labour again won power because we were trusted on the public finances. In its early years the last Labour government delivered three budget surpluses in a row – more than the entire Thatcher-Major era delivered.</p><p>So when people say that fiscal responsibility is a Tory idea they are wrong. Worse, they are playing into our opponents’ hands.</p><p>Sound public finances are not an alternative to Labour values: they are Labour values. And they are the country’s values too. Remembering this is the first step we take in winning back the trust of the British people.</p><p>Balancing the books is not just about how much you spend, it’s also about how much you earn. That’s why we need economic reform alongside fiscal responsibility, so that living standards can rise and everyone can share in the country’s future success...</p><p>When too much power is centralised in Whitehall it holds us back. When power is centralised in markets the same is true. So just as we must reform the state to make it more responsive – we must reform markets to make them truly competitive.</p><p>This matters most in finance. We are strong in financial services but the sector should be there to serve the rest of the economy. Because finance drives investment, and investment drives productivity.</p><p>It’s what turns good ideas into commercial propositions. It’s what enables small companies to become larger and more productive. And it’s what equips domestic traders to become international exporters. But we have too little variety and too little competition in our banking sector....</p><p>Reform of our finance system is how we give businesses the power to invest and grow. The aim of this must never to be anti-bank – but to be aggressively and insistently pro-business.</p><h3>&nbsp;</h3><h3><strong>Some reflections on what the candidates say</strong></h3><p>If one is to learn lessons, it is important to learn the right ones. &nbsp;If one is going to apologize for past errors, it is vital that the sole or principal error is correctly identified. &nbsp;All candidates accept that the electorate needs at least some suasion that a future Labour government will run the economy soundly and securely, since it is a fact that the financial crisis came about on its watch, with a bigger impact in the UK than in most countries. &nbsp;So to identify the causation of the crisis, and drawing the right lessons is of great importance.</p><p>All of the candidates seem to accept that the principal cause of the global financial crisis was not high public debt or spending as such, but most are vague as to what did cause it.</p><p>Yvette Cooper got somewhere close when she told the BBC back in May:</p><p>the real economic issue of the time was that we had banks who were involved in huge private lending that nobody had spotted the scale of; private sector debt that had been growing up that was unsecured; the links between the financial sector all over the world.</p><p>The problem here is that many (including of course PRIME’s director Ann Pettifor) had indeed “spotted” the scale of private debt building up and foresaw the crisis – so for the government and Opposition not to have seen it tells us a lot about a common blinkered view. &nbsp;</p><p>But at least Ms Cooper is clear on the cause. &nbsp;Since she became a candidate, she has not &nbsp;(to my knowledge) publicly addressed this issue of what caused the crash.&nbsp;</p><p>So what does Andy Burnham say about the financial crisis?</p><p>We achieved many great things but we can see now that it would have been better to have been spending less in the run-up to the crash.&nbsp;It wouldn’t have prevented it.</p><p>Our investments in public services didn’t cause the global financial crisis. &nbsp;But it would have meant we were in a stronger position to deal with the consequences.”</p><p>There is no explanation at all from him about the causes of the financial crash, it just happened, an Act of God! &nbsp;This is therefore worse than Yvette Cooper. Instead of assessing the degree of Labour government’s responsibility for the crash/crisis, through deregulation and failure to oversee the finance sector, he simply asserts that “we should have been spending less”, even though public debt as a percentage of GDP was not rising. &nbsp;This completely accepts the false “framing” of Mr Osborne.</p><p>Next, what does Liz Kendall tell us about the causes of the crash?</p><p>The financial crisis came about because of deep-seated international problems in the financial system. The Tories would like to write this out of history but it is the truth.</p><p>It is also true that countries are not like households. Sometimes, in some years, governments need to run deficits. If Britain had not run a deficit at the start of the financial crisis the social and economic costs would have been much higher. But any country’s capacity to deal with shocks is dependent on long-term strength.</p><p>And long-term strength comes from only running deficits when you have to, bringing them down as soon as you responsibly can, and running surpluses in the good years. Because however much we tell the truth about the causes of the financial crisis, any political party that wants to be elected must be trusted with people’s money.</p><p>This has the merit of referring to “problems in the financial system”, and indeed to “causes”, but in no way explains anything further, and fails to say what if any responsibility the Labour government (supported by the Conservatives)&nbsp;had for it. &nbsp;The implicit message is that pre-crisis deficits were a major contributory factor.&nbsp;</p><p>There is a deep lack of logic to all this. &nbsp;If the finance sector had&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;blown up, there would have been no problem with the public finances – or with Labour’s reputation! &nbsp;But it did blow up – affecting countries with right-wing and social democrat governments alike. &nbsp;Not due to&nbsp;public debt&nbsp;but because of private debt and the excesses of the private finance sector. &nbsp;Governments (of various hues) had a total blind spot for this – to prevent&nbsp;it would have meant challenging the basic premise of financialised globalisation which they had all taken for granted.</p><p>None of the three "mainstream" candidates have accepted any degree of Labour (and Conservative) responsibility for the true failure; they have rather accepted all or much of Mr Osborne’s false framing of the problem as one of public debt and public finances.</p><p>Finally on this point, Jeremy Corbyn:</p><p>...and secondly the economic reality that it was the reckless behaviour of the finance sector that got us into this mess and they should be paying for it.</p><p>If we cast our minds back almost eight years, to September 2007, customers were not queuing out of the doors of Northern Rock branches because a Labour government had spent too much on nurses and teachers. Just two weeks before, George Osborne had backed Labour’s spending plans.</p><p>Labour does have some responsibility for the crash. Not because we spent too much, but because we didn’t regulate enough.</p><p>Whether or not you favour his programme and candidacy as a whole, it seems to me undeniable that on this crucial point, Mr Corbyn is right. &nbsp;It was not Labour overspending or fiscal irresponsibility that caused the crash or made it materially worse – but the last Labour government (together with all its peers, and with the Opposition) was partly responsible for it due to its failure to regulate the finance sector properly and restrain the massive build-up of private debt across both financial and non-financial sectors.</p><h3><strong>Are deficits a problem?</strong></h3><p>The assumption shared by all candidates - except to some extent Mr Corbyn -&nbsp;is that good husbandry requires governments to avoid deficits, save&nbsp;maybe in very difficult times. &nbsp;The duty in normal times, &nbsp;we infer, is to run a budget surplus and use it to “pay down the debt”. &nbsp;</p><p>We need to consider the different types of deficit (I ignore alleged “structural deficits” for now). &nbsp;Deficits can be considered in cash terms – how much have we borrowed? &nbsp;In which case the deficit may go up from year to year – even if as a percentage of national income it comes down.</p><p>Or we can look at deficits as a percentage of national income (GDP) – and here it is the size of the “cake” of economic activity &nbsp;that in particular&nbsp;matters – if each year the “cake” increases by a greater percentage than the (cash) budget deficit rises (if it does rise), then the deficit as a percentage of GDP falls - without cutting public expenditure.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>This point is vital, since it has been the way that the UK – under Conservative and Labour governments – has for over 50 years&nbsp;succeeded (for the most part) in reducing or keeping down&nbsp;the debt to GDP ratio.</p><p>It has been rare indeed NOT to run an overall budget deficit. Since 1960, there have been just 9 years out of 55 when the UK has had a budget surplus or deficit of less than 1% of GDP. &nbsp;Of the 7 years when an actual overall surplus was achieved, four were under Labour governments, 3 under Conservative governments.</p><h3><strong>The distinction between current and overall deficits</strong></h3><p>This brings us to the second distinction to be made over “deficits” – between an&nbsp;<em>overall</em>deficit, and a&nbsp;<em>current</em>&nbsp;budget deficit. The last paragraph and its statistics refer to&nbsp;<em>overall</em>deficits – i.e. overall net borrowing. That includes borrowing in respect of capital (investment) expenditure as well as (if necessary) in relation to current spending. &nbsp;(Annual investment spending has normally ranged between&nbsp;1.5% and&nbsp;3% of GDP)</p><p>As Liz Kendall rightly commented, “countries are not like households” – but it is worth recalling that even households do tend to borrow long-term for major long-term investment purposes, e.g. house purchases or major improvements. &nbsp;</p><p>The candidates are again unclear on whether borrowing for capital purposes comes with their definition of “deficit” (we assume yes unless they tell us otherwise) – or whether they are only referring to avoiding any&nbsp;<em>current</em>&nbsp;budget deficit.</p><p>If the latter, then it is generally impossible to achieve an overall surplus that enables a government to “pay down the debt”, since if one borrows for capital purposes, any surplus on current account will be used to pay for part of the capital programme, not for reducing overall debt.&nbsp;</p><p>Again, Jeremy Corbyn is clear on the difference, when he says:</p><p>We all want the deficit closed on the current budget, but there was no need to try to do it within an artificial five years…”</p><p>Yvette Cooper referred to the current deficit when speaking to the BBC before announcing her candidacy (“The deficit at the time was 0.6%, the current deficit…”), but her speeches since do not clarify her view on the distinction.</p><p>Liz Kendall made this commitment:</p><p>We will bring debt down as a proportion of our GDP and we’ll make surpluses in the good times.</p><p>…only running deficits when you have to, bringing them down as soon as you responsibly can, and running surpluses in the good years.</p><p>This leaves unclear what she means by the term “deficit”, and whether in ordinary times (neither “good” nor “dreadful”) an overall (not current) deficit is acceptable provided that it still leads to the debt/GDP ratio falling. &nbsp;This is of course difficult stuff to get across to the wider public, but we really need to know what the candidates mean&nbsp;</p><p>Andy Burnham is also opaque – he promises</p><p>Labour under my leadership will always run sound public finances and we will reduce the national debt, back toward its sustainable pre-global financial crisis levels.</p><p>But it is possible to borrow for investment purposes and still reduce the national debt if by that we understand – as the final clause possibly implies – that he means the pre-crisis level<em>&nbsp;as a percentage of GDP. &nbsp;</em></p><p>Jeremy Corbyn accepts the desirability of getting rid of a current budget deficit (if achieved by increased economic activity) and appears to accept that borrowing for investment is acceptable for&nbsp;him:</p><p>if the deficit has been closed by 2020 and the economy is growing, then Labour should not run a current budget deficit – but we should borrow to invest in our future prosperity. You don’t close the deficit fairly or sustainably through cuts.</p><p>In brief, my conclusion is that on the issues of basic macroeconomic and fiscal policy, Jeremy Corbyn has, to his credit,&nbsp;expressed the clearest and (macroeconomically)&nbsp;soundest view on the role and acceptability of deficits, and on the distinction between borrowing for current purposes, and for investment purposes. &nbsp;He is also clearer than the others on the need to reduce the deficit by economic activity, not further cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>Where however I have problems with the current formulation of his policy is around the (to me) excessive role and prominence given to taxation as the principal - certainly by far the most detailed -&nbsp;policy tool. &nbsp; A fair redistributive tax system – in which tax evasion and avoidance are clamped down on - &nbsp;is vital, and far more than&nbsp;the other candidates, he does underline the role of tax as an issue in economic justice. This is absolutely right.</p><p>But he dedicates much more space to tax than other issues (such as types of investment and how to raise levels of economic activity), and goes on to argue:</p><p>The biggest issue facing British politics right now is not whether the top rate of tax should be 45% or 50%, or whether corporation tax should be 18% or 20%. &nbsp;The big question is how to get some of the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay anything like their fair share.</p><p><em>A</em>&nbsp;big question, yes.&nbsp;<em>&nbsp;The</em>&nbsp;big question, or<em>&nbsp;the biggest</em>&nbsp;question – well, in my view probably not. &nbsp;The electorate need a more positive vision of our economic and social future - and how to create tomorrow's economy than comes across thus far.</p><h3><strong>Silly and wrong to fall for Mr Osborne's economic framing</strong></h3><p>Final point to conclude this overlong blog - I offer&nbsp;the following three charts, which I hope clarify or demonstrate many of the points raised above. &nbsp;All three come from a really useful short<a href="http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05745" target="_blank">&nbsp;House of Commons Briefing Paper&nbsp;</a>by Matthew Keep, dated 28 July 2015.&nbsp;</p><p>The first chart deals with net borrowing as a percentage of GDP (i.e. the overall deficit), the second with public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP, and the third with debt interest payments as a percentage of GDP.&nbsp;</p><p>You will see that prior to the financial crisis, deficits were not historically high, that public sector debt was relatively low and stable, and that debt interest payments are also relatively low in historical terms. &nbsp;(All as % of GDP, which is the best way to look at them). &nbsp;So to fall for Mr Osborne's economic framing is both silly and wrong.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/aPM9UVahsJSh9u_ZL1rBggKhUEC0nkNfK752APGXw8I/mtime:1439901723/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borrowing%201.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Ucv3O3VaF9xhRl93cCG_WMeL_j_f1KmugZA7xPLa-30/mtime:1439901111/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borrowing%201.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="237" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/ElDQWD7QfD5QApkTuX-iMaRvaRjnsUMZh7YKnKNFOJY/mtime:1439901723/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borrowing2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/hZcqZnC59mMkT-jFLp0TGnFYJFsdyme3OERaKKhsKdE/mtime:1439901130/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borrowing2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="217" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/S8u7vMX8zqyzIsNUpG2DPcFA4mI6fO7kWwhG0firD68/mtime:1439901724/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borriwng%203.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/F-fid5va7u1KyIVhwOGpxwF6I6_zRf5-vovday1Yh1k/mtime:1439901150/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557459/borriwng%203.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="249" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em><span><span>This article originally appeared in <a href="http://www.primeeconomics.org/articles/hlfefkbxvxli6yyhpj0p5vqntgdd1n">Prime Economics</a></span></span><span><span>.</span></span></em></strong></p><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/ian-sinclair/what-jeremy-corbyn-supporters-can-learn-from-margaret-thatcher">What Jeremy Corbyn supporters can learn from Margaret Thatcher</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/ourkingdom/35-economists-back-corbyn%27s-policies-as-sensible">35 economists back Corbyn&#039;s policies as sensible</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/daniel-rattigan/labour%27s-pioneers-settlers-and-prospectors-point-to-kendall-for-progress">Labour&#039;s pioneers, settlers and prospectors point to Kendall for progress</a> </div> </div> </div> OurKingdom OurKingdom Labour Party Jeremy Smith Wed, 26 Aug 2015 07:42:01 +0000 Jeremy Smith 95326 at https://opendemocracy.net GCHQ and me https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/duncan-campbell/gchq-and-me <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell recounts his experiences unmasking British eavesdroppers.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/n1v9tz3RMupub8PFvzzEDmKuJgFFU-wmGVcadIJVM4Q/mtime:1440495048/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/14898357029_6bd867bb3f_z.jpg" alt="" title="Snowden protest" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Edward Snowden has helped journalists expose a long history of mass surveillance. Flickr/Markus Winkler. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>I stepped from the warmth of our source’s London flat. That February night in 1977, the air was damp and cool, the buzz of traffic muted in this leafy North London suburb, in the shadow of the iconic Alexandra Palace. A fellow journalist and I had just spent three hours inside, drinking Chianti and talking about secret surveillance with our source, and now we stood on the doorstep discussing how to get back to the south coast town where I lived.</p> <p>Events were about to take me on a different journey. Behind me, sharp footfalls broke the stillness. A squad was running, hard, toward the porch of the house we had left. Suited men surrounded us. A burly middle-aged cop held up his police ID. We had broken&nbsp;<a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1911/28/pdfs/ukpga_19110028_en.pdf#page=4">“Section 2″ of Britain’s secrecy law,</a>&nbsp;he claimed. These were “Special Branch,” then the elite security division of the British police.</p> <p>For a split second, I thought this was a hustle. I knew that a parliamentary commission had released a report five years earlier that concluded that the secrecy law, first enacted a century ago, should be changed. I pulled out my journalist identification card, ready to ask them to respect the press.</p> <p>But they already knew that my companion that evening,&nbsp;<em>Time Out</em>&nbsp;reporter Crispin Aubrey, and I were journalists. And they had been outside, watching our entire meeting with former British Army signals intelligence (Sigint) operator John Berry, who at the time was a social worker.</p> <p>Aubrey and I were arrested on suspicion of possessing unauthorized information. They said we’d be taken to the local police station. But after being forced into cars, we were driven in the wrong direction, toward the centre of London. I became uneasy.</p><p><span>It was soon apparent that the elite squad had no idea where the local police station was. They stopped and asked a taxi to lead them there. We were then locked up overnight, denied bail and sent to London’s Brixton prison.</span></p> <p>Aubrey had recorded our interview. During three hours of tapes that the cops took from Aubrey, Berry had revealed spying on Western allies. When the tape was transcribed, every page was stamped “SECRET” in red, top and bottom. Then, with a red felt-tip pen, “Top” was methodically written in front of each “SECRET.”</p> <h2>“ABC”</h2> <p>Our discussion was considered so dangerous that we — two reporters and a social worker — were placed on&nbsp;the top floor of the prison maximum security wing, which guards told us had formerly held terrorists, serial murderers, gang leaders and child rapists. Meanwhile, police stripped my home of every file, every piece of paper I had, and 400 books.</p> <p>Our case became known as “<a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20070607034318/http:/ukcoldwar.simplenet.com/nuclear/civildefence/abctrial/">ABC</a>,” after our surnames: Aubrey, Berry and Campbell. We hoped it would end quickly. We knew that the senior minister responsible, Home Secretary Merlyn Rees, had&nbsp;<a href="http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1976/nov/22/official-secrets-act-1911#S5CV0919P0_19761122_HOC_177">announced three months before</a>&nbsp;that the “mere receipt of unauthorized information should no longer be an offense.” The day after we were arrested, I was told he was furious to be woken with news that the security agencies had delivered a&nbsp;<em>fait accompli</em>. Historian Richard Aldrich found an official letter from the head of MI5, Britain’s Security Service, saying they considered me at the time the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/biography/abccase/Unmasking_GCHQ.pdf#page=10">person of the greatest interest</a>&nbsp;to see incarcerated.</p> <p>In my 40 years of reporting on mass surveillance, I have been raided three times; jailed once; had television programs I made or assisted making banned from airing under government pressure five times; seen tapes seized; faced being shoved out of a helicopter; had my phone tapped for at least a decade; and — with this arrest — been lined up to face up to 30 years imprisonment for alleged violations of secrecy laws.&nbsp;And why do I keep going? Because from the beginning, my investigations revealed a once-unimaginable scope of governmental surveillance, collusion, and concealment by the British and U.S. governments — practices that were always as much about domestic spying during times of peace as they were about keeping citizens safe from supposed foreign enemies, thus giving the British government the potential power to become, as our source that night had put it, a virtual “police state.”</p><h2><strong>“A thoroughly subversive man”</strong></h2> <p>A decade later, in a parliamentary debate, Foreign Secretary David Owen <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm198889/cmhansrd/1989-02-02/Debate-6.html">revealed&nbsp;</a>that he was initially against our being prosecuted, but was convinced to go along after being promised that we journalists could be jailed in secret. “Everybody came in and persuaded me that it would be terrible not to prosecute… I eventually relented. But one of my reasons for doing so was that I was given an absolute promise that the case would be heard&nbsp;<em>in camera</em>&nbsp;[a secret hearing].”</p> <p>In the face of this security onslaught, the politicians collapsed and agreed we should all be charged with espionage — although there was no suggestion that we wanted to do anything other than write articles. I was alleged to be “a thoroughly subversive man who was quite prepared to publish information which was secret,” my lawyer later wrote in his memoir.</p> <p>My lawyer saw it differently. “Campbell is a journalist … a ferret not a skunk,” he&nbsp;<a href="http://cryptome.org/jya/justice-dc.htm">told the magistrates’ court</a>&nbsp;in Tottenham, North London. But when he inquired about the possibility of a misdemeanour plea and a £50 fine (about $75), he was cut down: “That course might be acceptable for Berry and Aubrey. But the security services want Campbell in prison for a very long time.”</p> <p>They meant it. In March 1977, one month after our nighttime arrest, we were all charged with breaking Britain’s Official Secrets Act, for the “unlawful receipt of information.” Then we were charged with espionage. Each espionage charge carried a maximum of 14 years. I was also charged with espionage for collecting open source information on U.K. government plans. In total, I faced 30 years.</p> <p>The interview, and then our arrests, were a first encounter with the power of Government Communications Headquarters, better known by its acronym, GCHQ, Britain’s electronic surveillance agency.</p><h2>GCHQ</h2> <p><span>I first heard of secret intelligence as a boy. My mother, Mary, a mathematician, often reminisced about her wartime work in a top-secret establishment, including two years working alongside a man they called “the Prof.” She portrayed an awkward, gangly fellow with a stutter who loved long-distance running and mushrooms he foraged from local woods that no one would touch — and who was a math genius “out of her league.” The Prof was&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.turing.org.uk/publications/dnb.html">Alan Turing</a><span>, the wartime breaker of the German Enigma code, inventor of the modern computer, and hero of the recent Oscar-winning film,&nbsp;</span><em>The Imitation Game</em><span>.</span></p> <p>Almost four decades passed before she found out for whom she and the Prof had been working. She had kept a war souvenir, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/journalism/newstatesman/newstatesman-1990s/mums%20the%20word.pdf">flirtatious poem</a>&nbsp;given to her by a British general who visited her radio listening station. The poem inspired her army boss to joke that the general intended to propose. When official war records were finally released, we discovered that the general had been the assistant chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.</p> <p>I first stumbled across GCHQ’s surveillance network while at school. On a bike outing in Scotland with another science student, we spotted a large hilltop radio station. We pedalled up to find fences, locked gates and a meaningless sign hung on the wire that read,&nbsp;“<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/doffcocker/sets/72157633484995075/">CSOS Hawklaw</a>.” Nearby, we found a ubiquitous British chippie, a fish-and-chip shop, and asked the proprietor, “What do they do there?”</p> <p>“They never talk,” we were told. “It’s a secret government place.”</p><p><span>At the public library, I checked every phone book in the country, looking for more sites with the same name. The initials stood for “Composite Signals Organisation Station” — hardly revealing. Among the sites I found was GCHQ’s Bude station in Cornwall, England, now exposed as a global epicentre of NSA-GCHQ Internet cable surveillance. Back then, it was called “CSOS Morwenstow.” Four years and a degree in physics later, I found a press report that CSOS was part of GCHQ.</span></p> <p><span>Armed with these leads, in May 1976 I wrote “</span><a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/PDF/1976-may-time-out-the-eavesdroppers.pdf">The Eavesdroppers</a><span>,” the first-ever story about GCHQ, alongside American journalist Mark Hosenball, for London’s then-radical entertainment magazine&nbsp;</span><em>Time Out.</em></p> <p>I was later told by high-level government contacts that I had been under surveillance while reporting “The Eavesdroppers.” The “watchers,” from MI5, were first rate. I never spotted anything. But while following me and tapping my phone, British security learned an uncomfortable truth: All of the sources for my secret information were Americans, whose free speech was not controlled by British laws.</p> <p>“The Eavesdroppers” put GCHQ in view as Britain’s largest spy network organization. “With the huge U.S National Security Agency as partner, [GCHQ] intercepts and decodes communications throughout the world,” I wrote.</p> <p>The very existence of GCHQ and the Sigint network were then closely guarded secrets. My article was based on open sources and help from ex-NSA whistleblowers. One was Perry Fellwock, a former U.S. Air Force analyst who <a href="https://wikileaks.org/wiki/Perry_Fellwock">helped expose the scale of illegal NSA surveillance during Watergate</a>.</p> <p>My co-author, Mark Hosenball, a U.S. citizen (and now an investigative reporter for Reuters), was&nbsp;<a href="http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1977/feb/16/mr-agee-and-mr-hosenball-deportations">quickly slated for deportation</a>&nbsp;as a threat to national security. He faced a security inquiry and then expulsion, knowing only that he was accused of having “sought information for publication which would be harmful for state security.” The ban was lifted more than 20 years ago.</p> <p>One part of our article that caused concern was a centrepiece map (compiled from phone book data) showing NSA and GCHQ monitoring stations scattered across Britain. One of the locations I identified, Menwith Hill Station, a tapping centre in the heart of England, has now&nbsp;<a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/03/12/nsa-plans-infect-millions-computers-malware/">been revealed in Edward Snowden’s papers as a global centre for planned cyberwar</a>. We also reported that electronic versions of the Enigma cypher were being sold to developing countries by European firms such as Crypto AG of Switzerland for decades before those nations knew Britain had cracked the code.</p> <p>The day after publication, GCHQ relayed my article around the world. At one major overseas centre, I was told that the local station chief came into a morning meeting, incoherent with rage and “frothing at the mouth,” according to a security official present. Unable to explain in grammatical sentences what had upset him, the chief pulled out and hurled down a telegraphed copy of my article.</p> <h2><strong>“The apparatus could transform Britain into a police state overnight”</strong></h2> <p>After Hosenball was ordered to leave Britain in 1977 for his part in writing the piece, new whistleblowers came forward. One was John Berry, who had worked for GCHQ in Cyprus.</p> <p>Berry revealed in a letter to Britain’s National Council for Civil Liberties that “GCHQ… monitors the radio networks of so-called friendly countries and even the commercial signals of U.K. companies… The extent of intelligence activities… and the resources which the British Government deploys in this area are largely unknown… The apparatus could transform Britain into a police state overnight.”&nbsp;That is what led us to Berry’s flat that unforgettable February evening.</p> <p>Before the ABC trial, GCHQ demanded that its key witness have his identity hidden “to protect national security.” He was to be “Lieutenant Colonel A.” When magistrates rejected this, a “Colonel B” was sent instead. From reading open army journals, I already knew who “Colonel B” was. In one article, he was named as Colonel Hugh Johnstone and identified as “the Don of the communications underworld.”</p> <p>Johnstone’s name quickly leaked, provoking prosecutions for contempt of court against editors and our journalists’ union. Johnstone was then named again during BBC live radio broadcasts from Parliament. Overnight, the top-secret GCHQ witness became the most famous officer in the British Army.</p> <p>As our trial started, witness after witness from security sites tried to claim that openly published information was in fact secret. In a typical interchange, one Sigint unit chief was shown a road sign outside his base:</p> <p>Q: Is that the name of your unit?</p> <p>A: I cannot answer that question, that is a secret.</p> <p>Q: Is that the board which passers-by on the main road see outside your unit’s base?</p> <p>A: Yes.</p> <p>Q: Read it out to the jury, please.</p> <p>A: I cannot do that. It is a secret.</p> <h2><strong>“I am not certain what is a secret and what isn’t”</strong></h2> <p>Official panic set in. The foreign secretary who GCHQ had bullied into having us accused of spying&nbsp;<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/biography/abccase/Unmasking_GCHQ.pdf#page=10">wrote that “almost any accommodation is to be preferred”</a>&nbsp;to allowing our trial to continue.&nbsp;<a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fPfMBAAAQBAJ&amp;pg=PT327&amp;lpg=PT327&amp;dq=prosecuting+counsel+has+come+to+the+view+that+there+have+been+so+many+published+references+to+the+information+Campbell+has+acquired+and+the+conclusions&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=3TR4yFGtMt&amp;sig=HsMg">A Ministry of Defence report in September 1978</a>, now released, disclosed that the “prosecuting counsel has come to the view that there have been so many published references to the information Campbell has acquired and the conclusions he has drawn from it that the chances of success with [the collection charge] are not good.”</p> <p>My lawyer overheard the exasperated prosecutor saying that he would allow the government to continue with the espionage charge against me “over [his] dead body.” The judge, a no-nonsense Welsh lawyer, was also fed up with the secrecy pantomime. He demanded the government scrap the espionage charges. They did.</p> <p>That left only our taped discussion with Berry — which was mainly filled with trivia about his military life. Johnstone then said that a particular revelation — information that GCHQ targeted NATO ally Turkey — could cause “exceptionally grave damage,” and could disrupt the NATO alliance. Berry had indeed told us that after a coup in Greece, “We knew that a Turkish invasion fleet had sailed [to invade Cyprus].” Johnstone assumed Berry knew this from top-secret intercepts. In fact, Berry’s military record showed he had been in England when the Turks had moved on Cyprus. Johnstone was shown a newspaper article Berry had seen while in England that reported the sailing of the Turkish fleet. Berry had told us only what he’d seen in a newspaper. But what “Colonel B” said had given away a damaging secret — spying on allies.</p> <p>The error was catastrophic. I watched as Johnstone slumped in the witness box. He then descended into “gloomy confusion,” according to a watching reporter. He condemned articles published in his own army unit’s magazine as illegal, and finally confessed, “To be frank, I am not certain what is a secret and what isn’t.”</p> <p>We walked free. The judge ruled that we should face no punishment for technically breaking the discredited secrecy law, which was repealed 11 years later.</p><p><span>The ABC trial helped pierce an iron veil of British secrecy, changing the political landscape and leading to important new whistleblowers coming forward. Since then, my inquiries have helped throw light on the secret world of surveillance, including uncovering ECHELON, the first-ever automated global mass surveillance system.</span></p> <p>In February 1980, with help from new whistleblowers, I&nbsp;<a href="http://new.duncan.gn.apc.org/menu/journalism/newstatesman/newstatesman-1980/Big%20Buzby%20is%20watching%20to%20you.pdf">published the location</a>&nbsp;of the U.K.’s secret national phone-tapping centre, “Tinkerbell.” This time, politicians and the national press put the focus where it belonged. The government admitted that there was then no legal basis for wiretapping in Britain. They were forced to legislate to regulate wiretapping four years later.</p> <p>That same year, new sources told me that a secret NSA base in England — Menwith Hill Station (MHS) — had been identified by 1970s congressional intelligence investigators as the larger of two NSA centres tapping telephones in Europe.</p> <p>I teamed up with the British&nbsp;<em>Sunday Times</em>&nbsp;investigative reporter Linda Melvern, and we travelled to the U.S., where intelligence officials confirmed the role of the base. One ex-NSA analyst told us he had documents giving the base authority for “tapping the telephone lines to Europe.” A former British military officer who had visited Menwith said, “It intercepts telephone and other communications to and from the United States and Europe.”</p> <p>Some of our sources suspected that Menwith Hill’s location and powerful access arrangements might have facilitated its central role in the unlawful secret surveillance of U.S. citizens’ communications uncovered in the 1970s, when NSA had helped the FBI target civil rights activists and other protesters.</p> <p>Our best source — impeccable — was a top intelligence consultant who then still worked with NSA. He told us he had officially inspected the site and confirmed, “for sure,” its elaborate tapping facilities. This whistleblower, whose identity has never before been revealed, was Oliver G. Selfridge, a founder of the field of artificial intelligence and a member of NSA’s Scientific Advisory Board until 1993.</p> <p>We were discreetly introduced to Selfridge in a downtown Washington bar by a colleague, who drove us around the National Mall and the city sights in darkness.&nbsp;Selfridge told us that powerful cables connected Menwith to the tapping network, and we should&nbsp;“go look for them.”</p> <p>We raced back home — and confirmed the tip. We found and photographed an umbilical link between the NSA base and the national and international communications network. We suspected we were looking at the biggest tap on the planet, and titled&nbsp;our report “<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/PDF/America%27s%20Big%20Ear%20on%20Europe%2018%20July%201980.pdf">The Billion Dollar Phone Tap</a>.”</p> <p>Back at the&nbsp;<em>Sunday Times</em>&nbsp;newsroom, we celebrated.&nbsp;But the editor who had commissioned the investigation expressed concerns about exposing secrets without specific evidence of wrongdoing. He wanted&nbsp;to lead with a report about U.S. spies helping Britain fight Irish terrorists. We believed we had uncovered a story of mass surveillance.</p> <p>Instead, we published in the small-circulation left-leaning weekly&nbsp;<em>New Statesman,&nbsp;</em>where I was working as a reporter. Although reported by the <em>Washington Post</em>, and triggering an editorial in the&nbsp;<em>London Times</em>, the story&nbsp;didn’t have the impact we hoped for. But it did result in an important contact with author Jim Bamford, who was reporting on the NSA.&nbsp;<a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/02/the-nsa-and-me/">As Bamford recounted in an article for</a><a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/02/the-nsa-and-me/"><em>&nbsp;The Intercept</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em>last year, it was the&nbsp;<em>Sunday Times</em>&nbsp;reporter Melvern who ended up helping him protect material on a secret Department of Justice investigation into NSA in the 1970s. (After leaving the&nbsp;<em>Sunday Times</em>, Melvern became a prominent investigator of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.)</p> <p>Jim Bamford and I each worked mainly from open sources. We stayed in touch and shared some significant leads, prompting the author&nbsp;of the first major book on GCHQ, Richard Aldrich, to write, “Together Duncan Campbell and James Bamford confirmed a fundamental truth; that there are no secrets, only lazy researchers.”</p> <h2><strong>“Zircon”</strong></h2> <p>Seven years later, in February 1987, police Special Branch teams were sent to search my home and office for a third time. This time the trigger was a documentary program the BBC had asked me to make, called “Secret Society.” My program revealed that GCHQ had violated financial accountability to try and gain “independence” from NSA. Wanting its&nbsp;own space program, GCHQ had evaded legislators to get authority to build a $700 million all-British spy satellite — code-named “Zircon.”</p> <p>Zircon was intended to launch into a “geostationary” orbit; from there, a giant antenna would unfold to collect signals from Asia, Europe and Africa.&nbsp;It was an ambitious project, but because of the tiny number of people who knew about Zircon, I had no documents to use to support the story.</p> <p>Former scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Ronald Mason,&nbsp;did know about Zircon. I mentioned the name at the end of an innocuous interview question. His mouth dropped — and stayed open.&nbsp;<a href="https://vimeo.com/44948377#t=5m43s">He recovered his composure and said</a>, “I can’t talk to you about that, I’m afraid.” He didn’t need to.</p> <p>Under intense pressure from the government, BBC Director General Alasdair Milne agreed to ban my program about Zircon. I then arranged to screen the film inside Parliament. My idea was to distract the censors and pull GCHQ off track while we got<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/journalism/newstatesman/newstatesman-1987/parliamentary%20bypass%20operation.pdf">&nbsp;the Zircon story&nbsp;</a>out in print in the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman</em>.</p> <p>At the last minute, government attorneys rushed to obtain court orders. The afternoon before publication, they suddenly arrived at our magazine offices, armed with an order to gag me. They were shown to the elevator while I raced down the stairs, jumped on my bicycle and disappeared. The magazine’s production manager left for a secret location, carrying emergency funds to pay new printers in case our normal printers were blocked.</p> <p>The next morning, as the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman</em>&nbsp;hit newsstands, I went early to Parliament to meet a friend and supporter, an MP named&nbsp;Robin Cook. He led me to a sanctuary in Parliament, where I could stay long enough to avoid being served by the authorities and get our story out safely. Meanwhile, the mood in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s office reportedly went “incandescent.” Her rage was unleashed. Police raids began.</p> <p>They spent days searching the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman</em>’s&nbsp;offices. The government then ordered a raid on the BBC itself. On a Saturday night, in front of cameras, police wheeled out carts containing our program tapes.&nbsp;<a href="https://vimeo.com/49974396">News and images of the raid on the BBC</a>&nbsp;travelled&nbsp;around the world, bolstering the image of British secrecy gone mad.</p> <p>Two weeks after we published the&nbsp;<em>New Statesman</em>&nbsp;story, BBC Director General Milne was sacked by BBC governors. I was not prosecuted.&nbsp;<a href="https://vimeo.com/49973747">My program aired a year later</a>. Zircon itself was never completed or launched.</p> <p>Behind the Zircon scandal was deception. The government had previously been caught hiding weapons expenditures using false accounting. The government&nbsp;then promised to report, in secret if needed, on any project that cost&nbsp;more than £250 million (about $400 million). No sooner was this promise made than it was broken for GCHQ’s purposes. Operating Zircon would also have raised GCHQ’s costs by one third.</p> <h2><strong>ECHELON</strong></h2> <p>In November 1987, San Francisco’s Center for Investigative Reporting asked me over to discuss the Zircon program. My trip led to probably the most important surveillance story I have uncovered. I went to Sunnyvale to meet Margaret Newsham, a former Lockheed Martin employee, to hear about unconstitutional NSA activity.</p> <p>I drove south on California Route 101. In Sunnyvale, close to where Google’s campus now stands, the highway runs past a huge windowless “<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@37.401179,-122.0340524,61a,20y,45.06h,79.97t/data=!3m1!1e3">Blue Cube</a>” that controlled the NSA’s constellation of surveillance satellites, run by Lockheed and closed in 2010.</p> <p>We sat on Newsham’s porch. She was a computer system manager who had worked for NSA contractor Lockheed for seven years before being forced out after challenging corruption. She had been assigned to Menwith Hill in 1978 to manage NSA databases, including something known as Project ECHELON.</p> <p>Newsham explained that ECHELON was an automated computer-driven system for sifting and sorting all types of international civilian communications intercepted from satellites — mainly operated by U.S. companies.</p> <p>The scale of the operation she described took my breath away (this was 1988, remember). The NSA and its partners had arranged for everything we communicated to be grabbed and potentially analysed. ECHELON was at the heart of a massive, billion-dollar expansion of global electronic surveillance for the 21st century, she explained. She feared the scale of automated surveillance. “Its immensity almost defies comprehension… It is important for the truth to come out,” she said. “I don’t believe we should put up with being controlled by Big Brother.”</p> <p>While sitting inside Building 36D at Menwith Hill Station, Newsham had been invited to listen on headphones to a live call from inside the U.S. Senate. She recognized the voice of Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, and immediately realized the NSA had gone off track. “Constitutional laws had been broken,” she told me.</p> <p>She explained how she had provided evidence to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Investigators told her they had issued subpoenas, and had asked to see plans for ECHELON. But nothing had happened.</p> <p>She handed me some of the plans for ECHELON. In technical jargon, one described a basic tool kit for surveillance — the “commonality of automated data processing equipment (ADPE) in the ECHELON system.” Others described the ECHELON “Dictionary” database, the heart of the system holding target groups of keywords. “Dictionary” ran on networks of mini-computers. Newsham had managed these networks. Some plans listed equipment she had helped deploy for a secret project code-named “CARBOY II.” She did not know where CARBOY was.</p><p><span>The plans showed how ECHELON, also called Project P415, intercepted satellite connections, sorting phone calls, telex, telegraph and computer signals. Although the Internet was then in early infancy, what was carried digitally was covered. The way ECHELON had been designed, she said, demonstrated the targeting of U.S. political figures was not an accident.</span></p> <p>Back in Britain, I matched Newsham’s plans to other clues. Pictures of GCHQ’s base at Bude in southwest England showed two satellite tracking dishes, pointing directly at Western satellites called Intelsat.</p> <p>Intelsat, the first commercial communications satellite (COMSAT) network, linked people and businesses around the globe; for example, it even relayed the moon landings live. It started in 1965. From planning records and a press report, I deduced that GCHQ had planned to intercept Intelsat from Bude, beginning in 1966.</p> <p>Jim Bamford provided me with letters from 1969 between NSA and GCHQ that he’d obtained, showing that the NSA had helped GCHQ bully the British into building the Bude station. A new GCHQ source told me that the NSA paid for the station under a secret agreement — and that the job was given to the Brits because of fears about U.S. communications laws.</p> <p>I figured that a second ECHELON site would be needed to complete global coverage, intercepting a third Intelsat satellite over the Pacific Ocean. Jim Bamford and I both found the site — built in America, spying on U.S. communications with Asia. In November 1970, a Washington state newspaper revealed Department of Defence plans for a so-called “research station” in Yakima, about 150 miles from Seattle. I obtained photographs. They showed it was targeting the Pacific Intelsat. At the dawn of the era of mass surveillance, almost 50 years ago, the ECHELON stations at Bude and Yakima were&nbsp;the global mass surveillance system.</p> <p>I had also seen confidential papers from the Watergate investigations that revealed that GCHQ had fed into the NSA’s unlawful&nbsp;<a href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/06/how-a-30-year-old-lawyer-exposed-nsa-mass-surveillance-of-americans-in-1975/">SHAMROCK</a>&nbsp;program of international surveillance on satellites and cables, and that this had supported unlawful FBI surveillance on U.S. dissidents and civil rights campaigners. The evidence thus showed that the British had been paid by the NSA to build a station that spied on satellites run by the U.S. and carrying mostly Western communications, and that GCHQ had supported unconstitutional surveillance of U.S citizens.</p> <p>When I published the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/journalism/newstatesman/newstatesman-1988/They%27ve%20got%20it%20taped.pdf">ECHELON story</a>&nbsp;in August 1988, it got little mainstream attention. It was ignored for a decade, downplayed by many as European paranoia.</p> <p>In 1999, at last, ECHELON&nbsp;attracted the concern of Europe’s Parliament, which&nbsp;commissioned an investigation. My report, “<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/menu/surveillance/echelon/IC2000_Report%20.pdf">Interception Capabilities 2000</a>,” outlined what ECHELON&nbsp;was and was not. With ECHELON&nbsp;under investigation in Europe, Margaret Newsham decided to reveal her identity as the whistleblower, and retold her story on CBS’s “<a href="http://cryptome.org/menwith-mn60.htm">60 Minutes</a>.”</p> <p>The European Parliament then mandated extensive action against mass surveillance. Their recommendations were passed in full on September 5, 2001. Six days later, the Twin Towers came down. Any plans for limiting mass surveillance were buried with the victims of 9/11, and never formally published. But proof of ECHELON has become available.</p><p><span>In December 2014, I asked fellow Scottish journalist and&nbsp;</span><em>Intercept</em><span>&nbsp;reporter Ryan Gallagher to check Snowden’s documents. Was there evidence of ECHELON?</span></p> <p>There was; the documents included details of the “ECHELON agreement” and more — a batch of GCHQ and NSA documents confirming what whistleblower Margaret Newsham had revealed 27 years ago.&nbsp;ECHELON was indeed “a system targeting communications satellites” that began nearly 50&nbsp;years ago.</p> <p>“In 1966, NSA established the FROSTING program, an umbrella program for the collection and processing of all communications emanating from communication satellites,” according to a January 2011 newsletter published by the NSA’s Yakima Research Station. “FROSTING’s two sub-programs were TRANSIENT, for all efforts against Soviet satellite targets, and ECHELON, for the collection and processing of INTELSAT communications.”</p> <p>Another report, published in NSA’s “SID Today” newsletter in 2005, stated that “yes, there is an ECHELON system,” and noted that<strong>&nbsp;</strong>the&nbsp;“extensive story of ECHELON would&nbsp;be part of the forthcoming history initiative.”&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189959-comsat-gchq.html">A 2010 GCHQ report</a>&nbsp;noted that&nbsp;“historically, NSA has been a large source of funding for COMSAT [interception]. Many current COMSAT assets were purchased by NSA and are supported by GCHQ under the Echelon Agreement.”</p> <p>The documents also confirmed the role of ECHELON Dictionaries as “<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189962-cqv-fields-nov-2010-nsa.html">text keyword scanning engines</a>.” Other previously published Snowden documents show that CARBOY, whose expansion plans Newsham gave me, was a “primary” foreign satellite collection operation at Bude.</p> <p>The most shocking part of ECHELON, confirmed by the Snowden documents, is that it was built to target Intelsat satellites, which in the early years were used primarily by Western countries; the United States was the largest owner and user. The Soviet Union, China and their allies didn’t have ground stations, nor the equipment to connect to Intelsat, until years later.</p> <p>The Yakima site, which started operating in May 1973, was “established under the ECHELON program to collect and process INTELSAT communications during the height of the Cold War,”&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189960-nwp-nsa.html">reads a July 2012 newsletter</a>&nbsp;published by the NSA’s Yakima Research Station.</p> <p><a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189963-cyprus-gchq.html">One more GCHQ document</a>&nbsp;linked Edward Snowden’s archive back to where my journey first began, with John Berry and the ABC case. The GCHQ station in Cyprus where Berry served has the code name “SOUNDER.” Here, too, NSA was heavily involved, according to the document: “Under the ECHELON Agreement, NSA provides 50% of the funding for the SOUNDER Comsat facility.”</p> <p>The NSA’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189964-sid-article-nsa.html">“SID Today” newsletter</a>&nbsp;concludes by recounting that the&nbsp;agency showed arrogance in evading public scrutiny. It describes&nbsp;how ECHELON “caught the ire of Europeans,” prompting a European Parliament investigation in 2000. The NSA newsletter writer wrote&nbsp;that when a European delegation came to Washington to visit NSA and other agencies, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1329933/Euro-MPs-in-spy-hunt-snubbed-by-Bush.html">they were snubbed</a>&nbsp;and their appointments were cancelled. “Our interests, and our SIGINT partners’ interests, were protected throughout the ordeal,” reads the report.</p> <p>NSA claimed that the Parliament investigation “reflected not only that NSA played by the rules, with congressional oversight, but that those characteristics were lacking when the [European delegation]&nbsp;applied its investigatory criteria to other European nations.” According to the NSA writer,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189964-sid-article-nsa.html">the Europeans were “pigs”</a>&nbsp;wading in filth. “The “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: </p> <blockquote><p><strong><em>“Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”</em></strong></p></blockquote> <p>Attitudes like this have made the secret dirty world of electronic mass surveillance difficult to expose, and more difficult to get changed.&nbsp;Even today, neither GCHQ nor NSA will comment on ECHELON or other specific issues raised in the Snowden documents. (“It is long standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters,” GCHQ said in a statement.)</p> <p>Yet&nbsp;change has happened, and at increasing speed.</p> <p>In May 2015, two years after Edward Snowden’s revelations were first published, I was invited on behalf of a former “C” — chief of the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service — to co-introduce a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ditchley.co.uk/conferences/past-programme/2010-2019/2015/intelligence">conference</a>&nbsp;on intelligence, security and privacy. Nearly three decades after almost going to prison for allegedly exposing GCHQ’s secrets, my partner in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/talking-gchq-interception-not-required">starting the conference</a> was the agency’s newly appointed director, Robert Hannigan.</p> <p>No one present argued against greater openness. Thanks to Edward Snowden and those who courageously came before, the need for public accountability and review has become unassailable.</p> <p><em>Documents published with this article:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189964-sid-article-nsa.html">Sid Article NSA</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189963-cyprus-gchq.html">Cyprus GCHQ</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189962-cqv-fields-nov-2010-nsa.html">CQV Fields Nov 2010 NSA</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189961-nwp2-nsa.html">NWP2 NSA</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189960-nwp-nsa.html">NWP NSA</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2189959-comsat-gchq.html">Comsat GCHQ</a></li> </ul> <p><strong><em>This article was originally published <a href="https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/03/life-unmasking-british-eavesdroppers/">here</a> by The Intercept and re-posted with permission.</em></strong></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/richard-mcneil-willson/beware-terrorist-lurking-in-your-bookcase-are-british-citizens-bei">Beware the terrorist lurking in your bookcase: are British citizens being prosecuted for thought crimes?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nik-williams/cost-of-silence-mass-surveillance-selfcensorship">The cost of silence: mass surveillance &amp; self-censorship</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/didier-bigo-sergio-carrera-nicholas-hernanz-julien-jeandesboz-joanna-parkin-franc">Surveillance: justice, freedom and security in the EU</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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"> 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Civil society Democracy and government Civil Liberties Duncan Campbell Wed, 26 Aug 2015 07:28:59 +0000 Duncan Campbell 95438 at https://opendemocracy.net Dusting off the Sangatte playbook: a humane, practical course of action in Calais https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/nick-pearce/dusting-off-sangatte-playbook-humane-practical-course-of-action-in-calais <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Increased security at Calais might prevent migrants risking life and limb to get to the UK, but it will not deal with the migrants currently living rough in the Pas de Calais, nor the wider problem of refugee and migrant flows into the EU.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/9gwub0y9FXihSZDZNOIvPPAhaViDLcJRCCrt7y9d-6M/mtime:1440363489/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/15055925590_ab1e57790d_z.jpg" alt="Image of Port of Calais" title="Calais port" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>We need an effective and compassionate plan. Flickr/jpellgen. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span>Thirteen years ago I was a special adviser to the home secretary of the day, David Blunkett. I advised him on immigration and asylum policy, among other things, and one of my most important tasks was to negotiate a deal with the French government to tackle clandestine migration to the UK from the Pas de Calais and to close the so-called Sangatte centre, a large facility in which migrants lived while attempting to reach the UK.</span></p> <p>Then, as now, the British public was fed a regular diet of TV news bulletins and newspaper stories about migrants risking life and limb to get the UK by stowing away on lorries or breaking into the Eurotunnel terminals. Sangatte came to symbolise a loss of order and control over the UK’s borders; it poisoned debate about immigration, and rendered it impossible for ministers to get a hearing for their policies. For David Blunkett, it was imperative to get it closed. Many refugee groups agreed with him, though neither proponent thought it was anything other than a symptom of wider crises.</p> <p>In 2002, the migrants were mostly Afghans and Iraqi Kurds, in contrast to the Eritreans, Syrians, Sudanese and other African nationalities there now. There were fewer migrants too: estimates suggest that between 5,000 and 10,000 people are currently living in the rough encampments of 'the Jungle' that has replaced the Sangatte camp, which housed 2,000 at its peak.</p> <p>The deal that Blunkett and Sarkozy hammered out was to invite the UNHCR to oversee a process of registering the migrants at the Sangatte camp, fixing the numbers eligible for a programme by which they would be divided between transfer to the UK and staying in France. Blunkett originally offered to take all the Iraqi Kurds, who made up some two-thirds of those in the camp, but in the final deal Sarkozy pressed him to take Afghans with family members in the UK too. This basically meant that almost of Sangatte’s residents came to the UK. (A curious footnote to this episode is that the deal that had been brokered by myself and Home Office officials with our French counterparts was brusquely dismissed by Sarkozy a couple of days before the final meeting with Blunkett. He arrived at the French Embassy in London demanding the inclusion of the Afghans in the UK side of the deal, which Blunkett had no choice but to accept. Sarkozy revealed at the end of the meeting that he had been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.zdnet.com/article/former-home-secretary-france-tapped-uk-government-emails/">privy to Home Office communications with the British embassy in Paris</a>, which meant he knew the British side’s fall-back positions. In the post-Snowden world I am less surprised about this than I was at the time.)</p> <p>The Sangatte residents were given four-year 'work visas', enabling them to gain employment in the UK without a work permit, for which they would have needed a sponsoring employer. These visas were a creative solution to the problem that the UK could admit the camp’s residents neither as asylum-seekers (since they should have claimed in France or another transit country) nor as sponsored employees filling skills shortages. It meant that they could transfer to the UK and, after a period in temporary accommodation, find work. What little evidence we have on the Sangatte residents – as far as I know, there is only&nbsp;<a href="http://usir.salford.ac.uk/715/">a small-scale study</a>&nbsp;involving 15 interviewees – suggests that most did find low-skilled employment in industries like food processing and packing.</p> <p>At the same time as the Sangatte deal was concluded, the UK government was opening up greater channels for legal economic migration to the UK (before the entry of EU nationals from the A8 countries to UK labour markets in 2004). It also joined the UNHCR’s refugee resettlement programme, by which refugees are brought from camps in conflict zones directly to countries like the UK, without facing the perils of irregular migration or paying the entry prices demanded by people smugglers. These two policies were designed to supplement a tightening of border controls – in Calais and the UK – with legal, regular economic and refugee protection routes into the UK. Economic migration expanded massively after 2004, as is well known. But the refugee resettlement programme has been little used: only 750 refugees can come to the UK this way each year.</p> <h2>Dealing with the wider problem</h2> <p>Is this just ancient history? I suggest that the current government could learn something from David Blunkett’s policies. Increased security at Calais might prevent migrants risking life and limb to get to the UK, as it did for many years after the Sangatte camp was closed (indeed lax security may be the most harmful outcome, given that it would encourage more risks to life). But it will not deal with the migrants currently living rough in the Pas de Calais, nor the wider problem of refugee and migrant flows into the EU via the southern Mediterranean.</p> <p>As far as the latter is concerned, there is no evidence that increased aid will make any difference, as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/01/calais-illegal-immigrant-uk-facts">Jonathan Portes</a>&nbsp;has pointed out. The EU could certainly agree proper long-term burden-sharing arrangements, as the Italians and Greeks have demanded. It could invest in migrant facilities in North Africa and stronger bilateral agreements with those governments in the Magreb whose state authority still exists. At a stretch, it could do more to support conflict prevention in east Africa and the Middle East. But we will wait a long time before any of these measures start to bring down substantively refugee and migrant flows into the EU.</p> <p>That leaves action to help those currently living in the camps around Calais. Here the Home Office could dust off the Sangatte playbook: do a deal with the French government; bring in the UNHCR to register migrants; offer those seeking refugee protection a proper process for applying in France or access to places on the UK’s refugee resettlement programme; and give those with family members in the UK a 'work visa', enabling them to work without recourse to public funds.</p> <p>The British public will take some convincing of this, of course. But it would be the humane, as well as practical, thing to do. And if ministers had the courage to do it once before, they can do so again when circumstances demand it.</p><p><strong><em>This piece was re-posted with permission from the&nbsp;</em></strong><em><strong><a href="http://www.ippr.org/nicks-blog/dusting-off-the-sangatte-playbook-a-humane-practical-course-of-action-in-calais">Institute for Public Policy Research</a>.</strong></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="/5050/ch%C3%A9-ramsden/new-sangatte-rights-pushed-out-of-sight">The new Sangatte: rights pushed out of sight </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shinealight/lucy-kralj/when-did-inconvenience-kill-compassion-thoughts-on-calais">When did inconvenience kill compassion? Thoughts on Calais</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/teresa-piacentini/from-calais-to-kent">From Calais to Kent, what is wrong with how we are talking about the migrant crisis?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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"> 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Nick Pearce Mon, 24 Aug 2015 07:13:05 +0000 Nick Pearce 95430 at https://opendemocracy.net The BBC and its poetry https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/nick-fraser/bbc-and-its-poetry <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Defending itself from cuts is not enough. The BBC must forge a new identity based on collaboration, pluralism and the creativity of a global audience.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/bGtfbbpkhbm4j1RwnRxXVpLpcagScyVYGhGdoWRwGOg/mtime:1440171168/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/indiadaughter.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/h8OlfXbTJochUJ9TC5klFcvrd4UIZpqMCqoYf3NtkhI/mtime:1440171146/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537086/indiadaughter.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 India's Daughter (2015). Credit: dir. Leslee Udwin</span></span></span></p><p><span>Here’s a radical thought from a wayward summer’s reading. Near the end of a great French novel, the romantic, imprisoned hero comes to a momentous conclusion. ‘The best thing about being condemned to death,’ he says, ‘is that you remember all the poetry you have forgotten.’</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>I feel this about where the BBC has currently got to. Like individuals, institutions can be destroyed in many ways, and they can of course destroy themselves – often without anyone realizing this is happening. There are crimes without perpetrators: not every death neatly follows the time-honoured plotlines of Cluedo. From where I sit, however, many of the best features of the BBC appear endangered. I feel that the poetry is needed before it’s too late.</p><p>By poetry, I don’t mean British Standard Ritual – Royalism, Great Sports, Arts, Sciences, etc&nbsp;<span>–&nbsp;</span><span>though that’s what we tend to evoke when talking about the historic BBC. I mean the myriad ways in which the BBC, usually without being aware of it, has transformed the lives of others. Let me give two examples from my own past year.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>I work at showing documentaries from all over the world on the domestic BBC. But I also help make documentaries from all over the world available, via BBC World News, BBC Arabic and BBC Persian, along with public broadcasters all over the world, from Bhutan and Palestine to Bangladesh, to a global audience. These aren’t new films, but they are still resonant. This week I watched <a href="http://roughaunties.com/" target="_blank">Rough Aunties</a>, a film originally made by the astounding Kim Londinotto for Channel Four about the efforts of a group of Durban women to rescue children from abusers. It’s a wonderful film, tender and heart-breaking. No-one watching it can remain immune to the claims of shared humanity – and I mean this literally. So here’s a collaboration between the BBC and other broadcasters, and one resulting in many millions of viewers.</p><p>And now please think of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India%27s_Daughter" target="_blank">India’s Daughter</a>, banned by the government in India but shown this year by the BBC and many partners on Women’s Day. I don’t think the question of how it is that women are daily abused, not just in India, has elsewhere received such an airing, among millions and millions of viewers and tweeters.</p><p>I can understand why politicians, feeling beaten up by interviewers or nagged at by commercial rivals, feel frustrated with the BBC, but I don’t think they understand what the BBC gives the world. Try to think how we might start again with Charter Renewal, as it’s euphemistically called. How can we alternatively attempt to address what has become the Question of the BBC? We might say that Britain was lucky to be in possession of something as unusual as the BBC – an institution capable of embodying so many hopes and dreams as well as bringing together a fractured past and an unknowable, troubled present and future.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Let’s acknowledge that there are many things wrong with this institution – of course there are – but we would also acknowledge that these can be fixed. We’d say that they must be fixed, and the BBC alone can fix them.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>But the BBC must stay big and ambitious – not just on sufferance, but encouraged to do so. Its future shouldn’t be seen to depend on the views of domestic rivals. George Osborne said the BBC had become ‘a bit imperial’ in its scope and ambitions. But this betrays a misunderstanding of the circumstances of contemporary media. By today’s standards the BBC isn’t that big, and anyhow the economy of world media isn’t evolving in a dog-eat-dog, zero sum way, with winners replacing losers. Anyone still in doubt about the global capability of British media should look at <em>The Mail Online</em>, or indeed at how <em>The Guardian </em>has morphed into a world version of its old, Manchester-based self.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>World audiences are no longer there to be conquered or colonized. We need to win them every day. And, self-evidently, there’s a huge common project that needs addressing. How is the world to be supplied not just with ‘information’ – a word somewhat devalued, as the Chancellor would agree, much like ‘neoliberalism’ – but with the capability to make sense of things. We’d all agree about the existence of an understanding deficit. Understanding is what the BBC helps us with – not alone to be sure, but as one among other sources of illumination.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Every democracy requires the wherewithal to talk about itself and see itself. This isn’t a marginal activity. Far from it. Societies that lack the opportunity to hold themselves to account are seriously impaired. And the number of societies capable of doing this isn’t increasing. Did we, ten years ago, really think Russia would be where it is? How about Italy? And Greece? Could we have envisaged an American media scene dominated by Fox News? And can we imagine a world surviving where such current phenomena as global&nbsp;<span>mayhem, inequality or warming cannot be discussed by the widest possible audience?</span></p><p>But let me get back to the BBC and its poetry. Much of the disapprobation directed towards the BBC derives from its presumed arrogance. While sensing that within the BBC the days of arrogance are past, I’d like to see a more magpie-like Beeb, accommodating more voices and more genuinely pluralist.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>The BBC has talked about partnerships for many years. Too often, however, this has meant grand deals with presumed equals, or indeed devices for extracting money while giving little in return, at which the Corporation has proved expert. The BBC now needs to open itself up to genuine collaboration. It is still far too difficult to work with non-profit foundations, or private backers, let alone such massive new configurations as Google or Amazon. Nervousness is palpable when it comes to sharing editorial aims, or indeed accepting that the BBC shouldn’t claim a monopoly on the truth. A truly open BBC will be more welcoming to outside influences and views. It must be freed to strike up partnerships where it wishes. Why couldn’t the BBC do a deal to share limelight with TED? What would be so wrong about a BBC/Netflix venture? Can we not envision large-scale educational projects in conjunction not just with the Wellcome Foundation (with whom the BBC has long been in conversation) but places such as Open Society or Ford?</p><p>None of this should be presented as a means of reacquiring money lost to the BBC by cuts. It is what the BBC needs to be free to do. Of course it will take some time to achieve – because it implies a profound modification of the way in which the BBC likes to work. And of course the BBC cannot abandon its domestic audiences, and those who will still, in any settlement, find themselves constrained to pay for it. With its poetry, however, it must now be freed to go out into the world in search of a new self.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>The worst outcome of the cuts forced on the BBC would be a planned shrinkage and a return to old, pre-global ways. Rather than retreat, surely the BBC needs to play globally on the biggest stage. And surely we all need to want to see the BBC doing this.</p><p><span><em><strong>This is a personal view and does not represent BBC policy.</strong></em></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="/ourbeeb/peter-oborne/time-to-fight-for-bbc">Time to fight for the BBC</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/alex-connock/britain%E2%80%99s-creative-kickstarter-bbc">Britain’s creative kickstarter: the BBC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/andrew-whitehead/does-world-service-have-future">Does the World Service have a future?</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb OurKingdom A post-broadcast BBC Nick Fraser Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:40:22 +0000 Nick Fraser 95382 at https://opendemocracy.net Let us face the future: Labour, Jeremy Corbyn and the power of the past https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gerry-hassan/let-us-face-future-labour-jeremy-corbyn-and-power-of-past <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Labour needs to embrace tomorrow, not pine for yesterday.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/dMpXat6ROvI_7H3ezwnVe-wZgZwqtMztPyauVMR_bbw/mtime:1440152148/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn-620x330.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/QY4COIPQc4FuG2-f32CB-MMzpFNQ5SzycD2IBf_eaks/mtime:1440151866/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn-620x330.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">This is the most exciting and cataclysmic Labour leadership contest in a generation.</p><p dir="ltr">The nearest comparison must be the Benn insurgency for the Deputy Leadership of the party in 1981, where he narrowly lost to Denis Healey. This marked the peak of the left’s influence in Labour - until now.</p><p dir="ltr">What is occurring in the Labour contest, with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the diminishing of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, is little more than the passing of a political generation, and the main reference points and ways in which the party has understood itself and done its politics.</p><p dir="ltr">The Blairite project is over, with the Blairites now reduced to a tiny rump and a few desperate, intemperate followers (Progress, John McTernan). Labour’s traditional right has been hollowed out, with the trade union leadership and activist base who once gave the party such ballast (and brought it back from the Bennite induced abyss in 1981-82) now firmly on the left.</p><p dir="ltr">To illustrate the scale of change in Labour, the previous centre of gravity of the party in the Kinnock years, and even in the early years of New Labour (‘the soft left’) has all but disappeared. Its leading proponents have been tarnished by office (John Prescott), died (Robin Cook), or gone to foreign shores (Bryan Gould) and have not been replaced by a younger group.</p><p dir="ltr">All that leaves as significant strands are Jon Cruddas, and Compass. The former may have been Miliband’s Policy Co-ordinator but was effectively marginalised in the big discussions. Compass has been one of the few bright spots working with Labour in the last decade, but have sadly had little major influence on the directions and deliberations of the party.</p><p dir="ltr">This has created the environment that has made the irresistible rise of Jeremy Corbyn possible. A transformation in the culture and landscape of Labour, a change in existing membership in the Miliband years, and then post-election, combined with the new system of electing a leader, and an influx of new members to produce a Labour base of 610,000 supporters. </p><p dir="ltr">This summer of insurgency has produced an unprecedented situation: an upsurge of left-wing activity, engagement and hope towards Labour. Yet, with all this there are still significant continuities with Labour’s past and that of left culture which need to be understood, and which are limiting the potential for change.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Labour and the power of the past and the myths of 1945</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Labour has, since its inception, been shaped by collective memories of the past and what can be seen as a set of foundation myths. In its early days this included the Tolpuddle martyrs, the growth of trade unionism in the 19th century, and growing recognition of the need for independent organised labour representation. In the post-1945 period, the potent images of the 1930s had deep resonance: the Jarrow March, mass unemployment and hardship, and Tory appeasement of fascism.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet as Labour has grown increasingly unsure of itself in recent decades with the emergence of Thatcherism and rightward drift of British politics, the party has increasingly come to frame even more of how it sees itself and the world via the past. Thus, the spirit of 1945 is continually invoked as ‘the golden age’ of Labour. The world pre-1979 of ‘the post-war consensus’ is seen as homogenous and by some as ‘social democracy’, and the pre-New Labour party as an undiluted force for centre-left politics. To some, everything pre-Blair can be seen in a better light. ‘What was wrong with the 1983 manifesto?’ asked Steve Belcher, a Unison regional organiser. ‘It was about renationalisation, it was about reindustrialisation … What was wrong with that?’ (Financial Times, August 13th 2015). </p><p dir="ltr">This is a fictitious past, about now not then. Take one example: 1945. The Attlee Government achieved many great things, but at the time it wasn’t seen in Labour in quite the rose-tinted way it is now. First, it only lasted six years, failing to run for a full second term, and left office exhausted. Second, it wasn’t exactly very democratic (something we will return too), being a product of the hierarchical, deferential society of the time. Lastly, its politics weren’t very bold or imaginative – nationalisation, even Bevan’s compromise with GPs setting up the NHS allowing them to sit outside it which exists to this day. The post-Attlee consensus, even amongst Labour thinkers (Richard Crossman, Tony Crosland), was that it had done much good, but overall had felt a disappointment. The incessant invoking of 1945 isn’t about Attlee. It is about the compromises and retreats since. </p><p dir="ltr">The idea and culture of Labour throughout its history – coming from one about working class solidarity and representation – has been shaped by the experience and bitter memory of defeat and losers in society. Therefore, the party has continually been uncomfortable with winning and being in office in a way which Tories have never been. Part of the current predicament of Labour is the feeling of many that Blair’s three election victories were gained at too high a cost -namely, the erosion of the party’s principles and even its sense of its soul.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Labour as a party of conservatism </strong></p><p dir="ltr">The left agenda of the last couple of decades has been one of continual retreat and defeat. This has reinforced a tendency to be increasingly backward looking and trying to continually revisit and undo the past.</p><p dir="ltr">A large part of the Corbyn agenda is informed by this mindset. Thus we have seen a high profile given to such demands as nationalisation of rail and energy companies, re-opening mines and repealing anti-trade union laws. Now the first of these is hugely popular – hardly surprising, considering the shambles of rail and energy privatisation which have replaced public with private monopolies and a pretence of competition.</p><p dir="ltr">Nationalisation of railways is a substitute for understanding the commanding heights of the economy. Railways were part of the key infrastructure of the country in 1945, but today they are less so. What today are the critical infrastructure conduits? They are the internet, Google and Amazon, but no one is proposing to nationalise them.</p><p dir="ltr">As for repealing anti-trade union laws is this really the mark of the radical? For a start, the trade union reforms were popular (and popular with trade unionists). They democratised trade unions and gave more power to individual members; and is anyone on the left seriously going to make the case for the return of strikes without secret ballots, secondary picketing and the closed shop? </p><p dir="ltr">This stance is a product of the retreat of trade union membership, but is also a displacement from seriously thinking about work, employments and workers’ rights, and how the world of business is done. Corporate governance, for example, is a subject Labour and the left have historically said very little on, and the last time Labour and the trade unions intervened on industrial democracy was the Bullock inquiry of 1977. A very powerful strand of British trade unionism sees itself in opposition to employers, whether private, public or voluntary sector, and has traditionally been suspicious of such an agenda.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Labour’s lack of democracy </strong></p><p dir="ltr">Labour has for most of its existence not very effectively advanced democracy (1). To take a couple of examples. One is the area of constitutional reform: the need for a written constitution and the importance of binding checks and balances on the power of the centre and arbitrary power. This is all despite constitutional reform being one of the biggest achievements of the Blair Government, but it was never understood or embraced. Furthermore, across a range of issues from the Freedom of Information Act to Human Rights Act and Scottish devolution, Blair either tried to undermine them in the first place, or expressed regret afterwards for them. </p><p dir="ltr">There has been a lack of interest in revitalising local democracy, opposition to any form of proportional representation at Westminster, and co-existence when in office with the House of Lords. Lest we forget there is Labour’s tradition of not advancing party democracy. The most successful Labour Government – Attlee – was centralist, representing a command and control politics and defined by ‘the man in Whitehall knows best’. </p><p dir="ltr">Labour’s historic attitude to democracy and pluralism can best be summed up as: Labour Governments have to be elected to capture the state, so they can control it and do good things for the people, irrespective of whether they like it or not. Such has been the need for the greater progressive good.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Radical nostalgia and the limits of the left</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Thatcher and Blair might well be the two main villains, not just to the left but to large parts of wider society. Yet, there is a powerful mythology in how they are seen today and how their success is judged in retrospective. They are understandably identified with the economic, social and political changes which happened under their periods in office, and how Britain changed over the last forty years.</p><p dir="ltr">However, Thatcher and Blair did not bring about the economic and social change of this period. They did not actually create the modern world we now live in. What they did do was amplify, encourage and aid existing trends. </p><p dir="ltr">This is what modern day radicals of the left need to understand. Rather than hanker after past eras or attempt to ‘defend’ various institutions: the NHS, the BBC, even the welfare state, the left has to be about the future and democratising and creating new institutions. This has to go with the grain of existing trends and patterns in society, nurturing and supporting progressive shifts and expressions such as the rise in autonomy, self-determination, self-expression, mutualism, sharing, co-operation, inter-connectedness and the potent sense of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us is for Us’. </p><p dir="ltr">Why has the left become a prisoner of what can only be called radical nostalgia? This has always been part of the left’s DNA – the hankering after primitive communism, William Morris, the early ecology movement. But today the world and change is so messy, contradictory and fast-changing that it is much easier and attractive to cite past positions and over-emphasise certainty. Far easier to blame Thatcher and Blair with the state of all that is wrong with Britain, or invoke only anger and anti-austerity as the mainstay of your political dispensation. Much of this is understandable, considering the complexity of the world and standing of mainstream politics, but raging against the machine only gets you so far.</p><p dir="ltr">There is also where the left comes from and where it used to. Trade unions are a mere 20% of the workforce, concentrated in the public sector, and often quite aging, and many in secure, tenured parts of the economy. Then there is the absence of the Communist Party, which for all its undoubted flaws gave a non-Labour left perspective, ideas, theory and in its last decade, Marxism Today. Some left-wingers hated that journal, because in their eyes the worst crime is heresy, which indicates the quasi-religious dogma of a strand of the left. </p><p dir="ltr">The Communist Party provided a cadre of leaders and activists in the labour movement, and in particular trade unions, who knew how to organise, campaign and had an historical and political tradition. Its demise has come about at the same time as the retreat of unions, and the diminution in the quality of leadership: both reinforcing each other. Look at the union leadership of the country today, and compare them to Hugh Scanlon, Jack Jones and Mick McGahey of years ago: the drop-off in quality and political intelligence is severe.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>5. The Left as a tribe </strong></p><p dir="ltr">The left is in its culture and politics more often than not a closed tribe, not in Sue Goss’s phrase ‘an open tribe’ (2). The words of many of the left’s most defining songs indicate this - the ‘cowards’ and ‘traitors’ of ‘The Red Flag’ or how in ‘Which Side Are You On?’ the intent comes over as more accusation than an open invitation to join the cause.</p><p dir="ltr">Radical politics are not about the myth of a better yesterday - the spirit of 1945, romanticising the post-war consensus or the world pre-Blair. One rather telling discussion of the four Labour leadership candidates on Newsnight centred on what would Clement Attlee do in current circumstances. This is not a healthy politics or situation, but an indication of the problem.</p><p dir="ltr">A politics of the future would not be about hankering after the past, trying to invoke certainty where there is little, or advance the solutions of the 1940s and 1950s for today. It would be about a very different kind of politics:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">A different kind of political organisation, idea of a party and politicians – as far removed from New Labour and the traditional left model as possible.</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Thinking about political economy, globalisation and interdependence. Blair regularly lectured Labour on the latter two, but the entire New Labour era, as Iain Martin pithily pointed observed, had nothing to say about the former (3).</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Address the huge concentrations of wealth and power, while also recognising that vested interests come in many forms – from the private sector and big business to parts of the public and voluntary sectors.</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Stop invoking abstracts such as austerity and inequality as if they were the solution. Bucking the economics of the global economy requires more than rhetoric as Greece and Syriza has demonstrated. And while inequality scars our society, reducing it is hugely complicated, and has to understand how people view reward and status, and often see those nearest them economically as the least deserving.</p></li></ul><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Embrace the revolution in information and knowledge, exchange and value which is offering huge potential for new forms of co-operation, sharing and networking. This is transforming the nature of physical goods, intellectual property, and the nature of what business is, in ways most of the left seem far removed from.</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr">Perhaps the biggest leap the left could make is one of culture and practice: namely to abandon the mindset of humourlessness, condemnation and hectoring which is too prevalent from those who cast themselves as true believers. Large segments of the left rarely recognise the nearly impenetrable barriers the left erects around itself in its dealings with the world – which not only puts many sympathisers off, but distorts the left’s interpretation of reality.</p><p dir="ltr">A transformative politics should be about joy, dance, irreverence, playfulness, even a subversive humour with regard to much of what passes for being left. As the famous quote from Emma Goldman goes: ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’ Rarely has this been understood, let alone acted upon. </p><p dir="ltr">These are not flippant add-ons to how politics is done. They are central to what Barbara Ehrenreich called the liberation of ‘collective joy’ and remaking and reclaiming the public and public space (4). Such insights have been made by groups such as the New York based Centre for Artistic Activism (5) – who made the observation that left activism is an exhausting, soul destroying form of practice which often sees its measure of success in the near-distant future as not having to be an activist because it is not enjoyable and is unsustainable. They make the point that this says that there is something wrong with most left politics.</p><p dir="ltr">The Labour leadership contest marks something really significant - irrespective of its final result. Not only is it the end of the Blairite project, right-wing Labour and the soft left, but is also the final death knell of labourism: the political culture of defensiveness, sectionalism and insularity which defined much of working class and trade union culture, and which has shaped so much of Labour politics.</p><p dir="ltr">This culture has long been lambasted by left-wing intellectuals and thinkers through the ages – from Tom Nairn to John Saville – who saw it as not theoretical, Marxist or European enough. This then is a party still defined by some of the indirect offshoots of labourism: the power of the past and defeat, conservatism and absence of democracy. This shift could actually be a window of opportunity for the party to embrace a more far-reaching and radical change than the passive top-down revolution of the Blair era.</p><p dir="ltr">Labour is in deep trouble. Palliatives and short-term fixes won’t address the condition of the party. It is now more than ever a regional party – one of Wales and parts of England: the North, bits of the Midlands and London. It won a mere 18.9% of the electorate in 2010 – the party’s worst showing since 1918, and only won 20.1% in 2015 – a whisker above the catastrophic defeat of 1983 – and thus the party’s third worst showing since it became a national party. </p><p dir="ltr">There is a circularity to many of the Labour arguments and even of its crises, but it is clear that we are reaching some kind of breaking point. The Labour Party doesn’t actually have a divine right to be part of the British constitution and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition or Government. The same though is true of a radical and left critique and opposition: it just isn’t enough in these times to shout the loudest or simplest, and say that ‘the status quo is not good enough’. That is blatantly obvious to anyone, including many of the elites who pretend otherwise.</p><p dir="ltr">Tomorrow’s radical politics has to be very different to the constricting practices of Labour, or the rhetoric of the actually existing left. It has to be optimistic, hopeful, daring, recapturing the power of dreaming, but linking it to a politics of action and words, and profoundly, democratic. We have to do risky things like understand our pasts, not be a prisoner of them. This is an age of opportunity, not just retreat and defeat, if it can be seized. The vertical controlled age of the party, corporation and public sphere, is being challenged by the rise of horizontally organised politics, business and civil society, one which will threaten all sorts of monopolies and closed communities if its liberationist potential can be fully utilised. </p><p>Not all of this can be addressed in the Labour leadership contest, but a start can be made if more and more people take the words of the party’s most famous manifesto literally and say, ‘let us face the future’, rather than clinging to an imagined set of myths about the spirit of 1945.</p><p dir="ltr">Notes</p><p dir="ltr">1. Martin Kettle, ‘The strange death of Labour Britain has a worrying precedent’, The Guardian, August 15th 2015, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/14/strange-death-labour-britain-liberal-britain">http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/14/strange-death-labour-britain-liberal-britain</a></p><p dir="ltr">2. Sue Goss, The Open Tribe, Lawrence and Wishart 2014. </p><p dir="ltr">3. Iain Martin, ‘The Problem with Blairites’, CapX, July 31st 2015, <a href="http://www.capx.co/the-problem-with-blairites/">http://www.capx.co/the-problem-with-blairites/</a></p><p dir="ltr">4. Barbara Ehrenreich, Dancing in Streets: A History of Collective Joy, Granta Books 2007.</p><p dir="ltr">5. Centre for Artistic Activism at: <a href="http://artisticactivism.org/">http://artisticactivism.org/</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="/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/what-hope-for-labour-and-left-election-80s-and-%E2%80%98aspiration%E2%80%99">What hope for Labour and the left? The election, the 80s and ‘aspiration’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/13-things-about-labour-leadership-election">13 things about the Labour leadership election</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/robin-blackburn/from-miliband-to-corbyn-labour-struggles-to-renew-itself">From Miliband to Corbyn: Labour struggles to renew itself</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Gerry Hassan Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:15:35 +0000 Gerry Hassan 95401 at https://opendemocracy.net Reconciling VJ Day https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/alexandra-hyde/reconciling-vj-day <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Reflections from a Victory in Japan day commemoration in the West Midlands.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/5s9HufbA9urjnXpTQsM8i6hDMnQg5rd-AaKdWFyecOc/mtime:1439988938/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/IND_003714_Battlefield_on_Scraggy_Hill_at_Shenam.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/nJc2VHuZnzEOi9mfkljdaNMBrcfVLBN1tUfxuxoa3ek/mtime:1439988898/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/IND_003714_Battlefield_on_Scraggy_Hill_at_Shenam.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="351" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The scene on Scraggy Hill, captured by the 10th Gurkhas during the Battle of Imphal (Wikimedia)</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">This weekend I attended a VJ Day memorial service in a small town called Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. My grandmother lived in Bromsgrove, and as she died earlier this year I was returning home in memory of her as much as in memory of my grandfather, who served in Burma during the Second World War. The service was held at the Bromsgrove Burma Campaign Memorial, a dignified red brick installation with an air of the early 80s about it. It was my job to lay the remembrance offering for the ‘Ladies’ of the Burma Star Association, an organisation that for both my grandparents offered a great deal of material, social and emotional support over the years. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But what struck me while watching the service and waiting to take my part in it, was the difficulty – but the necessity - of trying to hold so many distant phenomena together on the same plane. Or rather, that the service revealed so many uncomfortable proximities, that the effect was for me deeply unsettling. Watching the elderly men navigate the monument, watched in turn by women with walking sticks hooked over the backs of their chairs, I wondered what it meant to look back from my generation - the grandchildren’s generation? </p><p dir="ltr">In one sense, we make more of those experiences now than was made at the time immediately following World War II, part of what rendered veterans of the campaigns in South East Asia the ‘forgotten army’, but also part of what it meant to live on after the war. Time and again we have heard how veterans returning from the war preferred silence, returning to get on with their lives, where the war was just something that everyone had gone through and wanted to forget. The more common tale seems to be one that wasn’t even told until much later, until old age and some kind of invisible boundary between memory and history had been crossed, so that stories could be coaxed out to be celebrated, commemorated, made novels and documentaries of. </p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this year I interviewed a veteran of the D-Day landings who, despite the eagerness of those, such as myself, clamouring to hear and preserve his experiences, insisted that perhaps it was time to ‘close the book’. Remembrance was something he did for his own private reasons, to remember those with whom he served and some whose bodies he helped to bury in a meadow that is now a cemetery in Normandy. Remembrance was not for him about claiming his stake in the nation, still less something enacted to satisfy the fascination or register the debt of those who followed. Sometimes it seems to me that the heavy symbolism and ritual of remembrance is clung to more by those who were not there, than those who were.</p><p dir="ltr">The 70th anniversary of VJ Day brought a small number of veterans and their memories out into the limelight of local news and radio. I do not know the personal significance of VJ day for each veteran who attended on Saturday, but the significance of the service for me – one of the grandchildren – was far from unambiguous. Part of the purpose of remembrance rituals is to encourage us to think and feel of course (the last post, the minute’s silence). But then there are the contradictions and the odd jolts that make all our attempts to find ways of imagining, remembering, representing war fallible, where huge doubts and trivial concerns both cause cracks in the façade. Perhaps this is only an apt reflection of the reality of war, because even a monolith like WWII, ‘the last good war’, was still a lived thing; took place from day to day, was made up of everyday banalities as well as moments of profound consequence. And the resources we have for remembering war are likewise sometimes trivial and banal, and can’t always bear the weight of the symbolism they are made to carry.</p><p dir="ltr">Like the octogenarian standard bearers in white gloves and blazers, not quite in sync with one another, the gold tassels of flags whipping about their faces as they were raised and lowered precariously. We stood respectfully on the provincial lawn, while the Padre addressed us from behind a picnic table with an altar cloth, the PA system and garden gazebo threatened occasionally by a light breeze. It was difficult, amid these trappings of representation – the material things we need to visualise and perform feelings - to focus. It felt like trying to hold the ridiculous and the sublime together, until I realised that perhaps this was the point, and not even in the sense of reconciling their opposition. Rather, the point is that acknowledging the individual human experience of war as we were trying to do, hinges on the acknowledgment of both the trivial and the consequential, the everyday within the Historic, like the twinned impulse to laugh and cry at the same time. On a different scale, this might be likened to trying to hold in dual focus the celebration of ‘Victory in Japan Day’ with the commemoration, earlier this month, of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the visceral embodied experience of the atomic bomb, its warping of life and limb, casting long shadows of skin and bone. </p><p dir="ltr">I looked down at the floral tribute I was holding, waiting for my turn to be called up to the memorial. What was the cheerful arrangement of fresh yellow roses, which distinguished the Ladies’ offering from all the other wreaths of plastic poppies, intended to articulate? Not the blood red sacrifice of poppies but something different about grief, about grace and domesticity, or perhaps something about hope, peace even? I wondered at the gendered role I was performing as I approached the monument but soon found myself simply trying to control my emotions, trying not to let my face crumple, feeling self conscious and sad, but with an object that was ill-defined. </p><p>Finally, the service drew to a close and the bagpipes led a procession to the tune of ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’. Gently, and then with some gusto, the Ladies of the Burma Star Association and some others began to sing along: ‘Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square…’. There was something of the village hall tea dance or care home sing-along in their aged voices, but also the sense of a gleeful pensioners’ revolt, an appropriation of ritual, an irrepressibly resilient tribute that carried on after the bagpipes had faded into the distance. How fragile yet unexpected in the end, the gestures available to express long-held memories and decades of experience. And for those of us born after, to simply watch and accept the surprises and contradictions of remembering what we haven’t experienced.</p><p><em><strong><span>Liked this piece? Please support us with</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span> £3 a month </span></a><span>so we can keep producing independent journalism.</span></strong></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="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/hiding-behind-cenotaph-cameron-will-seek-to-re-write-history">Hiding behind the Cenotaph, Cameron will seek to re-write history </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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Alexandra Hyde Fri, 21 Aug 2015 07:01:59 +0000 Alexandra Hyde 95359 at https://opendemocracy.net Why Labour probably won't split if Corbyn wins https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gabriel-neil/why-labour-probably-won%27t-split-if-corbyn-wins <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite the rumours, the Labour party is unlikely to split in the event of a Corbyn victory.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/pTf8CVxpT0_avd2Qc-TCs8HvSwfFKYJ0GG0qAbOEpOk/mtime:1439997060/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/WIrmw08Fo7NoUG7IYl5BOrJTG4S_1S8fVFyqnzZsJO8/mtime:1439996941/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /><br />A spectre is haunting the Labour Party, the spectre of centrism. As Jeremy Corbyn has moved from token lefty paper candidate, to apparent front-runner in the Labour leadership elections, there have been mutterings in the commentariat about the possibility of the right-wing of the party splitting off á la the SDP in 1981. <br /><br />These muttering are not without justification. The right-wing of Labour has been bold in recent years. Their euphemistic language about being “tough” on benefits and “credible” on the economy has dominated much of the discourse about the party since Gordon Brown's resignation. Their desperate chasing of that mythical “middle-England voter” has led many in Labour to openly espouse aping the Tories. Whether or not this is the right tactic for them to take (it isn't) it is arguable that at no other time since the rise of Blair has the right of the Labour party so dominated the discourse of the nominal left. <br /><br />Or that was the case until a few weeks ago, when people in Labour suddenly started talking about things like nationalisation, free higher education and, whisper it, higher taxes. Words, which by now seem foreign, almost anachronistic, coming from the mouths of Labour party supporters, appear&nbsp; heretical coming from one of its leadership contenders. Worst of all it appears to be popular! The other leadership contenders don't seem to quite know what to do. Andy Burnham has tactically edged his rhetoric (but not his actual policies) somewhat to the left in an attempt to compete; Yvette Cooper has been pushing herself forward as a “unity” candidate; and Liz Kendall has been speaking darkly of a Corbyn win being “divisive”. <br /><br />All this talk of needing unity, and being wary of divisiveness has obviously hinted at the possibility of another 1981 if Corbyn wins. But I'm not convinced this is likely, and to explain why we need to compare the two situations.<br /><br />By 1981, the tensions between the social democratic and socialist elements of the Labour Party had reached breaking point. The social democrats had become convinced that the left of the party was unelectable and that a new centrist politics, similar to that found in Europe at the time, was needed. The SDP was an explicit break with the past, an attempt to create a different kind of politics. They did not believe the electorate had forgiven Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan – they believed Michael Foot was continuing that tradition. Foot, and much of his front bench, had been leading figures in the troubled 74-79 Labour government – the socialists were the establishment. The SDP's energy, the hype which surrounded them in their early days, was based on their being perceived as something new. Not the (apparently) discredited socialism of Foot, nor the hard line neoliberalism of Thatcher, but a middle ground on which the electorate could unify. Arguably their politics found its best proponent in Tony Blair – the big tent politics of New Labour were the obvious heir to this kind of thinking. It certainly proved a vote winner eventually<br /><br />But 2015 is not 1981, nor is it 1997. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are not fighting against some socialist establishment figure. Jeremy Corbyn has not by any means been an intellectual ally of New Labour and Labour has just lost two general elections on what might roughly be construed as the “centre ground”. This time the Labour establishment is on the right and it is their record in government which continues to haunt them, and it is their approach which the electorate has rejected twice in a row. <br /><br />The circumstances which allowed the SDP to become a party which rocked the political boat in the early 80s (some polling even predicted they would win the 1983 election) do not exist for the Labour right any more. They are not the exciting new kids on the block – they've been saying pretty much the same things for 20 years. They do not have an opponent tarnished with being involved with an unpopular prior government – they are the unpopular prior government. They do not have two extremes to oppose themselves to – they are part of a cosy consensus with Tory ideology which has led millions to stop voting altogether. For all the talk of “Red Ed Miliband” - his policies were really just a slightly pinker shade of Brown, and he lost to a Tory party which got fewer votes than John Major did in 1997. Hardly inspiring stuff. The Labour right simply do not look like an exciting electoral prospect on their own, and I suspect they themselves know it. <br /><br />The Labour party is still haunted by the 1983 general election. It has been a frequent cry of opponents of Corbyn that no one wants a repeat of the 80s. But what seems to be always forgotten about '83 is that the combined Labour-Alliance vote was 53%. Counter-factuals are always a little wobbly so this is conjecture: but it's not difficult to imagine a situation where the SDP had stuck it out in Labour, not split the non-Tory vote, and kept Thatcher out of power. To split the nominal left and risk 15 unbroken years of Tory or Tory-led government, the right wing of Labour would have to ask themselves some serious questions about if they really wanted to keep the Tories out. And if not, why not join them? The ultimate fate of the SDP, winding down into an annexe of the Liberal party and consigned to electoral irrelevance for two decades, should also give any right-Labour MPs pause before going off in a huff. <br /><br />I suspect there will be some ruffled feathers if Corbyn wins. Perhaps there will be attempts to oust him by MPs fearing deselection. Maybe a few MPs in Labour-Tory marginals will realise their true loyalties and cross the benches. Possibly even a couple of nominally-centrist-but-really-a-bit-Tory independent MPs will arise, only to be voted out in 2020. But a full on SDP-style split? The spectre of the SDP being raised sounds more like a scare tactic than a real threat. History and the current political situation just don't suggest that it will be either appealing, or very smart.</p><p><strong><em><span>Please donate to OurKingdom </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>here </span></a><span>to help keep us producing independent journalism. Thank you.</span></em></strong></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/david-wearing/party-of-enemies-has-no-future-labour%E2%80%99s-left-and-right-need-to-go-their-sep">A party of enemies has no future. Labour’s left and right need to go their separate ways. </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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Gabriel Neil Fri, 21 Aug 2015 07:01:59 +0000 Gabriel Neil 95362 at https://opendemocracy.net The great Labour purge is underway https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/michael-chessum/great-labour-purge-is-underway <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UK Labour party is cancelling the memberships of significant numbers of people who joined in order to vote in its leadership election - and even some who joined before.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/eWtbdwmE1U2telM0nU_lVUpyJKSoZCsG2pPFJKzyY14/mtime:1440076566/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn1_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/rUvHLMIaz6ZVOQ3-IJC-AK0kfSijaEigAd667TSKeXw/mtime:1440076366/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Corbyn1_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Labour is rejecting reams of legitimate membership and supporter applications. Is this a desperate purge aimed at tipping the leadership result? </p><p dir="ltr">It sounds like a murder mystery. Everyone had a reason for promoting the idea that the Labour leadership ballot was being undermined by Tory infiltrators and ‘entryists’. Anything that could destabilise the ballot and make it look like a mess is good news for the right and much of the press. It suits some groups on the hard left to seem bigger than they are. Once it became clear that Corbyn might win, anything that de-legitimised his victory was music to the ears of the Labour Right. And some knew, deep down, that if enough of a storm was created about infiltration, this would provide cover for the party apparatus to deny more leftwing activists a vote, and that this could, just about, influence a close result. </p><p dir="ltr">Now, after a lot of noise about weeding out infiltrators, and one batch of more obvious candidates for expulsion which included Ken Loach and other prominent figures from other parties, there is a clear drip-drip of new rejections. Many are young left wing activists from the student movement and other social movements who joined Labour, enthused by the Corbyn campaign, and had every intention of remaining in the Party. The reasoning behind these new rejections looks, at least at first sight, murky. </p><p dir="ltr">Hattie Craig is a recent graduate from the University of Birmingham, and a relatively prominent activist the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts – the biggest organisation on the student left. “I was inspired by the Jeremy Corbyn campaign,” she says “and the possibility that Labour could truly represent and fight for those most oppressed in society.” Like many others, she has received an email stating that she was rejected because “we have reason to believe that you do not support the aims and values of the Labour Party or you are a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party.” But, Craig tells me, she has never been a member of any other electoral project – or indeed any other party at all. </p><p dir="ltr">A large number of the rejections appear to be students. Rachel O’Brien is also a student activist and a current student in Birmingham. She describes herself as “heavily critical of the Labour Party and their current policies – but not opposed to the party as a whole”, and has, like Craig, never been a member of another party. “I think they are missing a nuance there.” </p><p dir="ltr">Marienna Pope-Wiedemann, another rejectee, is a freelance writer and producer who was also politically active as a student and has continued activities outside Labour. But she is no longer in anything else and, as she points out, being active outside Labour is rather inevitable: “most people are active through organisations other than Labour because the Labour Party has been so long disconnected from community struggle and afraid of taking on the big issues,” she says. “This is the first time my generation has seen Labour stand up and fight for ideals most of them are too afraid even to speak of anymore.”</p><p dir="ltr">Bernard Goyder’s example looks even stranger. Now a financial journalist, Goyder was a student activist in 2010, and then involved in Occupy and a number of housing campaigns. “I was involved in Young Labour as a sixth former, and joined properly in 2010, days after the election. I rang the party to notify them of my new address, and found that it had lapsed a few years ago.” Now his application to re-join has been rejected. </p><p dir="ltr">In the past, Goyder voted for a mix of parties – including the Lib Dems and the Greens – but he campaigned and voted for Labour in 2015. “In 2010, the NUS and the parliamentary system failed young people so we had to make our own politics. I'm proud to have been involved in the 2010 student movement and the 2011 occupy protests, but see no contradiction between this activity and 'the aims and values of the Labour party’”.</p><p dir="ltr">Quite apart from how this all looks, Goyder’s cases raise another rather glaring issue: people changing their minds. Labour at high school, fighting on the outside at uni, and then back into Labour – it’s a well-trodden path. By definition, everyone now joining Labour is, to an extent, changing their mind; many are being swayed by the real possibility of an anti-austerity alternative in the form of Corbyn. Across the course of the campaign, many thousands have changed their minds about Labour – giving Labour hordes of new members and supporters, and a good deal more credibility in places where it previously had none. This was, after all, the entire point of having a supporter sign-up system – and many will have joined, as the system’s architects hoped, from Labour’s right as well as its left. </p><p dir="ltr">Large swathes of the PLP and Labour establishment were once in, or voted for, other parties. John Reid and Peter Mandelson were once members of the Young Communist League, and Shaun Woodward, current Shadow Cabinet member, was a Tory MP until he crossed the floor of the House in 1999. Hell, some Labour MPs have campaigned for other candidates while in office: when Lol Duffy, a member of the now-proscribed Socialist Organiser platform, won the Labour selection in Wallesey in 1987, neighbouring MP Frank Field openly refused to support Duffy as the Labour candidate. </p><p dir="ltr">But for a large chunk of those who have had their membership or supporter applications rejected, it doesn’t even get that far. For Craig and O’Brien, who have never been supporters or members of other parties, the implications of being rejected seem clear: “I had already voted when I got the email, and it is also very clear from my Facebook that I support Corbyn,” says Craig. “I do not think this is unconnected.”</p><p dir="ltr">Of course many, if not all, of those who have been rejected have been critical of Labour policy and the Labour leadership – often in the public domain and on social media, where Labour staff are reportedly trawling for evidence. But then, within Labour’s broad church, so have most members. In fact, so has every candidate for leadership. Those of us on Labour’s left flank, many of whom have door-stepped for the party, held minor office and never voted for anyone else, could be forgiven for nervously refreshing their email inboxes. </p><p dir="ltr">None of this is helped by the vigilante attitude that seems to have gripped some on the Labour Right. One post currently doing the rounds on Facebook states: “If you know that someone who has recently signed up as a member, supporter or affiliate, who is not in fact a supporter of the Labour party, you should email their name to <a href="mailto:leadership2015@labour.org.uk">leadership2015@labour.org.uk</a> with proof.” The post concludes: “Please do report anyone you suspect should be ineligible – and you too could be called a star by the Compliance Unit”. </p><p dir="ltr">There is no way to verify whether or not Labour's Compliance Unit have in fact called informants 'stars', but adverts to report your neighbour like this one, posted in relation to a university labour club, are breeding an atmosphere of McCarthyite fervour.</p><p dir="ltr">If, as the post says, “any written expression of support for a party or group other than Labour, or opposed to Labour” is enough proof to have you expelled, then we had all better be careful about praising so much as the individual policies of another party. That could go for Liz Kendall’s supporters just as much as Jeremy Corbyn’s. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong><em><span>Liked this piece? Please support us with</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span> £3 a month </span></a><span>so we can keep producing independent journalism.</span></em></strong></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/13-things-about-labour-leadership-election">13 things about the Labour leadership election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/dan-hind/corbyn-should-support-convention-parliament-or-he-will-fail">Corbyn should support a convention parliament or he will fail</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/what-hope-for-labour-and-left-election-80s-and-%E2%80%98aspiration%E2%80%99">What hope for Labour and the left? The election, the 80s and ‘aspiration’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/marcus-chown/labour-values-nhs-and-me">Labour values, the NHS and me</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Michael Chessum Thu, 20 Aug 2015 13:16:05 +0000 Michael Chessum 95386 at https://opendemocracy.net Devolution for Yorkshire? https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ian-martin/devolution-for-yorkshire <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can we turn 'devolution' from above into 'self-determination' from below? What would this look like in Yorkshire?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/NzkBP-mzFqeQ6Tu-Vi2LsM_nTMDjVlNko52SRVk-nfU/mtime:1439900469/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/525802/ianmartinpic2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/dzfB6U4dtFNvQSt4sUZDUXB_9uI_TB8_gijYs7ZvoT8/mtime:1439900385/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/525802/ianmartinpic2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>(<em>Image: Ian Martin, Whitby Harbour, </em><span><em>CC BY-NC-SA 4.0</em>.)</span></p><p>When you look around you, what do you think? What makes you feel proud of where you live? What makes you think,&nbsp;<em>that needs sorting out</em>? When I think about all the things that have impressed me in the places I have been and when I think about the place that I call home, East Leeds, I think of the people who made things happen and I wonder who is doing something good for everyone here. Something to make newcomers feel welcome, something to make sure there are places for young people to live, something to make sure people can get to jobs and fun stuff cheaply and quickly without destroying our environment. I wonder why people with far more power and influence than me don’t seem to have to done it.</p><p>And then I think: This is my home, this is our home, maybe we can do it, maybe we should do it… or at least try. Waiting for Westminster, Whitehall and the City and those in politics, business and media who enjoy its intertwined maze of power doesn’t seem to have worked for my home (though to be fair&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/richardburgon" target="_blank">our new local MP Richard Burgon</a>&nbsp;does seem to be doing everything he can to remain closer to East Leeds than Westminster). What about your home? Maybe it’s not up to them anymore; maybe it’s not about them telling us who we are and how we should live our lives; maybe it’s about self-determination? Maybe it’s about self-determination for individuals and for communities of individuals who choose to act together for the common good?</p><p>Luckily I am far from alone in thinking this way. Self-determination seems to be at the heart of the most positive visions of the future identified by&nbsp;<a href="http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2015/08/04/adventures-in-postcapitalism/" target="_blank">Pat Kane and Paul Mason</a>&nbsp;and the impulse for&nbsp;<em>people to refuse to do what they’re told</em>&nbsp;seems to be a recurring theme of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/22/flatpack-democracy-peoples-republic-of-frome" target="_blank">John Harris’ cracking ‘Anywhere but Westminster’ series, such as in Frome</a>.</p><p>To me self-determination means: Starting from where we stand, taking responsibility for making it better, looking around positively and seeking opportunities for working together with and learning from others, welcoming inspiration from outside and trying to be a beacon for all the good things that we want to see in our society. In that sense, many people are already doing self-determination, people like&nbsp;<a href="https://westleedslife.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/celebrating-armleys-good-stuff/" target="_blank">Good Stuff Armley</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hannahfestival.com/hannah-directory-festival/" target="_blank">Hannah Directory</a>, and it is in building up from the good stuff in these self-determining streets, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, cities, districts, counties and regions that we meet something else: ‘devolution’. Are you bored of ‘devolution’ yet? I know many people who are. But what happens if we meet the ‘devolution’ agenda on our own terms: Could ‘devolution’ from above start to mean ‘self-determination’ from below?</p><p>But what would that look like? Is any of it possible in the near future? Devolution has become such a tarnished word, a way in which a Tory chancellor tempts those who have held nominal power in the North for a long time (generally Labour) into accepting responsibility for austerity by setting northern cities up to compete with each other to create the conditions for international businesses to make the biggest profits. Ultimately devolution is about somebody above you with more power deciding to give you some of that power on their terms. However the success of Scottish devolution and the democratic, decentralising, pluralist vision of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties of the time show that devolution doesn’t have to be Osbornian. Devolution can lead to genuine self-determination.</p><p>As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomforth.co.uk/wenevertried/" target="_blank">Tom Forth has consistently argued, the UK government has regularly decided to invest national resources for the benefit of London and the South-East</a>. This is especially true when it comes to transport infrastructure such as Heathrow Airport which is less important for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tomforth.co.uk/hubairports/" target="_blank">Northern travellers than Schiphol in Amsterdam</a>. Despite this, many people in London remain disenfranchised and the quality of life for those on average wages is relatively poor compared to many places outside the South-East even if successful devolution led to impressive improvements in school attainment for vulnerable groups through the Schools Challenge which saw significant investment in staffing and professional development.</p><p>As Tom has shown, this national infrastructural bias towards London and the South East means taxes paid elsewhere have helped London and the South East to become wealthier. It has been entirely consistent with dominant political thought for as long as I remember which says that London’s financial sector will save us all and we just need to make sure all legislation and policy meets their demands. A political, media and financial class fixated on the needs of one part of the country has inevitably led to policy, economics, governance and media scrutiny that has not reflected the needs of the rest of the UK. We are proud of who we are and we don’t want to be dependent on taxes from profits made in London but our centralised state has created this scenario.</p><p>As&nbsp;<a href="http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/2015/06/11/north-now-new-part-ii/" target="_blank">Craig Berry</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/featured/2015/07/making-devolution-work-for-all-grabbing-and-grappling-with-the-opportunity/" target="_blank">Neil McInroy</a>&nbsp;have expertly argued, for any devolution to really lead to liberating self-determination for individuals it must therefore take into account political economy – a history that has led to concentrated wealth in the South East must not be consolidated by a form of devolution which stops transfers from areas of wealth to areas of need. Social justice requires that those who have benefited most from national investment in London and the South East continue to pay their fair share in meeting needs of those most left out by our centralised state.</p><p>To me self-determination is not, and therefore devolution shouldn’t be, about concentrating power in one person’s hands (as&nbsp;<a href="http://theculturevulture.co.uk/blog/tell-me-why/a-yorkshire-mayor-its-debatable/" target="_blank">Phil Kirby noted</a>) but the practical reality is that the most powerful politicians on this island want a mayor and the dominant politicians here in West Yorkshire and the wider Yorkshire and Northern regions are taking it seriously as an option, given that it may be the only way to get a DevoManc style deal here. This means that whatever you or I say or do right now, a mayor for West Yorkshire (maybe ‘Leeds City Region’) or for Yorkshire may happen and so the question is whether there is any hope for real self determination to follow? Scotland’s political renewal was undoubtedly facilitated by elections under a proportional representation system and a referendum on devolution itself (as well as last year’s independence referendum), together these engaged and promoted the wider range of voices that followed. Given that the London Mayor is considered a successful example of devolution by this government and that this mayor is held accountable by a scrutiny assembly directly elected by proportional representation, shouldn’t we at least demand this here too? Surely any change in how we are governed should be put to a referendum? Perhaps any successful mayoral candidate will be the one that promises to implement such an assembly model?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/3PEBvtNBiv57KWCe65QJnN42dBRHLdQNurlIJcpFE18/mtime:1439901202/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/525802/ianmartinpic3_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/MMTd_crUB0DyRirJB-GrDFO655JxDaOizSYKGQ6WFLM/mtime:1439901132/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/525802/ianmartinpic3_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>(<em>Image: Ian Martin, Red Kite, </em><span><em>CC BY-NC-SA 4.0</em>.)</span></p><p>In my view, such a model would at least be a slightly more appropriate response to the hope and interest generated by the range of new voices engaged in Scotland’s debate about the kind of place it wants to be. Devolution is primarily seen by those who hold power nationally and locally as a process of transferring some authority from one to another. Here in Leeds,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/features/yorkshire-leaders-27-point-asks-over-mayor-devolution-deal-1-7376452" target="_blank">our council leader Judith Blake launched a 27 point plan of powers</a>&nbsp;(prior to the government imposed September deadline) that she and other council leaders would like to see decentralised from central government and delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), but possibly if demanded by Osborne, a mayor who can be outvoted by 2/3rds of WYCA. Is this really an appropriate response to the hopes of democratic renewal inspired by Scotland? A mayor reporting to an indirect body, a combined authority of leaders drawn from local authorities elected under First Past The Post on small turnouts?</p><p>But even if that is what we are lumbered with, is all hope for change lost? Even within those 27 points that ask for primarily administrative changes rather than the ability to pass laws different to those imposed by Westminster, there are possibilities. There is at least some hope that things could be done differently from what&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/owen-jones-right-are-mocking-jeremy-corbyn-because-secretly-they-fear-him" target="_blank">Owen Jones identified from US politics as the ‘Overton Window’</a>, the Westminster consensus of a narrow range of possibilities that make a candidate ‘electable’ (with all due respect to the impressive energy and engagement generated by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign). Could we for example aim to build bridges between all in our communities by using skills funding to ensure English language classes are widely available,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/aug/07/do-you-need-to-speak-english-to-be-good-citizen?CMP=share_btn_tw" target="_blank">enabling migrants to make the contribution they want to make</a>, to help make their new shared home even better? Will Devo Manc be a beacon for&nbsp;<a href="http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=24416" target="_blank">a new urban approach to asylum</a>? Will ‘devolution’ be an evolving process that over time enables us to give newcomers&nbsp;<a href="https://leedspage.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/931/" target="_blank">a real Yorkshire welcome</a>? Will Wales use devolved powers to prove the value of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/instead-paying-asylum-seekers-miserable-9688483#ICID=sharebar_twitter" target="_blank">allowing asylum seekers the right to work</a>?</p><p>Something called ‘devolution’ is happening to us from above. If we are to make ‘self-determination’ happen from below, I believe that we need to engage, to find the opportunities for hope in the small steps whilst keeping hold of and promoting our ambitions for a better society based on self-determination. Creating a new democracy has enabled people in Scotland (plus Wales and London to an extent) to think again about what kind of society they want to live in. Old assumptions and cynicism about positive change have been put to one side and ways of building an inclusive and engaged democracy have been developed, including open and family friendly routines in Holyrood that promote finding common ground as well as newfound confidence amongst a wide variety of individuals from different backgrounds that politics can bring about positive change and therefore it is worth engaging with elections and more.</p><p>In all devolved scenarios, there are voices saying that what they have is not enough – In London progressives argue that the assembly should have legislative power, Lesley Riddoch said at the first Northern Citizens’ Convention meeting in Huddersfield that it’s not enough for Scotland’s new ‘friskiness’ to make the nation a little bit better than England – but from where we stand, both those options are steps into a devolved democratic future that we crave.</p><p>But who is talking about it? People who already hold power and those already used to talking to and about power. Given the nature of politics, this means overwhelmingly white, middle aged, middle class men. Given the nature of our society and communities, this is a disaster. What is the point in devolution if it doesn’t really change anything? Devolution changed Scotland and its bottom up political renewal is led by many more young, female, BME and working class voices than south of the border. If we want that, and I for one really do, we must find ways to understand and break down barriers to participation, those of us in privileged positions must actively try to engage those most left out by our centralised state to ensure that any new, hopeful democracy here is truly based on the experiences of those who need change the most. Not as recipients of Do Gooder beneficence but as empowered citizens in control of their own destiny. Devolution must be about self determination and self determination starts with the good stuff around us that we all do, whoever we are.</p><p>For some people, the ‘whoever we are’ is their motivation for ‘self determination’. For many in Scotland, identity and nationhood mattered and it drove them to create a positive vision of ‘civic nationalism’ that led to the new and unusual scenario of self-proclaimed ‘nationalists’ promoting positive hopes for migration and integration whilst those who claimed ‘nationalism’ as a dirty word chased each other into designing the most mean spirited policies towards migrants they could imagine.</p><p>I love where I live, I am proud of what we have achieved together over thousands of years of migration, settlement and its legacy. To me it seems entirely legitimate in self determination for&nbsp;<a href="https://theconversation.com/cornwall-and-yorkshire-show-regional-identities-run-deep-in-england-too-41322" target="_blank">any individual or group of individuals to express an identity</a>, whether that be European, British, English, Northerner, Yorkshire, Loiner or something else. For most people the evidence seems to suggest it is a combination with different emphases for each individual. Equally there are many who argue that just as an English parliament would do nothing for the North by simply keeping power in the hands of those who have already let us down, I agree with those frustrated that non-South Eastern identities and experiences are not acknowledged but simply subsumed into ‘Englishness’, especially by those in power. Personally my heart sank when England and Scotland were drawn together in football’s World Cup 2018 qualifiers, I knew that it would mean yet more of being told that I ‘should’ support England despite feeling more kinship with southern Scotland and the industrial towns of the Central Belt than southern England and the market towns of Wessex.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/10/snp-english-national-identity-class-cultural-divide" target="_blank">Like Paul Mason, I believe my identity is my choice</a>&nbsp;and nobody can decide for me that I am ‘English’.</p><p>Social media is full of English parliament campaigners telling Yorkshire parliament campaigners that they must feel English and so accept an English Parliament whilst others tell us that we must feel Yorkshire and accept a parliament based on historic boundaries. I respect those views and personally am very sympathetic to a Yorkshire ‘Althing’ but all these man-made boundaries have no more or less legitimacy for many people than a West Yorkshire/Elmet or Northern assembly or identity. Each border is a record from a point in time when that border suited the most powerful people at that moment. Over time, that border then became something to which people felt an attachment. Each individual has a right to determine their own identity and not be told they should feel something and that ‘something’ means only certain boundaries are legitimate. If the best option for devolution is Yorkshire (and that is the argument that really differentiates it from English parliament campaigners), the argument must also be made on merits beyond identity and respectful links must be built with those who respect Yorkshire identity but see it as no more relevant than English, Northern, Elmet, Loiner or whatever else. We must create a big, welcoming space within devolved democracies for those who feel various identities.</p><p>Campaigners for a Yorkshire Althing (or parliament or assembly), whether motivated by identity or not, must make the case for what can be better achieved by an assembly representing 5 million than by a mayor or by a mayor or assembly representing West Yorkshire’s 2.5 million or the North’s 15m. What specific meaningful changes to the lives of those most in need would be more likely with a Yorkshire Althing? Could Yorkshire have more power to change lives than West Yorkshire alone? Could Yorkshire remain close enough to the needs of the population to have more sustainable democratic legitimacy than the North as a whole?&nbsp;<a href="http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/politics/the-big-debate-is-it-time-for-a-yorkshire-mayor-1-7364907" target="_blank">Is the Yorkshire Post right that the needs of the business community are what really matter</a>&nbsp;and all we need is a mayor to be their ambassador?</p><p>Equally lessons from Scotland reveal to us that political renewal towards progressive change is helped by political parties with long standing commitment to self-determination (like the SNP, Scottish Greens, Yorkshire First and Green Party), individual politicians in more established political parties (like Labour’s Donald Dewar and John Trickett and the Lib Dems’ Jim Wallace and Greg Mulholland), non-party movements concerned with constitutional change (like Yorkshire Devolution Movement and National Collective), non-party movements concerned with bottom up progressive change (like Common Weal and Hannah Mitchell Foundation) and a questioning bottom up media (like Bella Caledonia and Leeds Citizen). In all these examples, Scotland is a few steps ahead but could give us inspiration to do it our way, right here, right now.</p><p><span>So a few of us residents who don’t hold any power but who genuinely want the best for all our fellow citizens, residents with more questions than answers and certainly not all with the same answers or agreeing with every opinion expressed here, are going to organise an event and see what happens. We want to ask the question:&nbsp;</span><em>What kind of region do we want to live in?&nbsp;</em><span>It’d be great to see you there. Watch this space.</span></p><p><span>This article first appeared at <a href="http://theculturevulture.co.uk/blog/headline/devo-yorks/"><strong><em>The Culture Vulture</em></strong></a>.<br /></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention"><img src="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Great Charter Convention (1).jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a> </p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention">The Great Charter Convention</a> – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it.</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="/ourkingdom/paul-salveson/case-for-northern-devolution">The case for northern devolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/rashid-mhar/democracy-exists-by-act-of-doing-it-meeting-with-podemos-in-manchester">Democracy exists by the act of doing it: a meeting with Podemos in Manchester</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/arianna-giovannini/devolution-in-north-of-england-time-to-bring-people-into-debate">Devolution in the North of England: time to bring the people into the debate?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Democracy and government Great Charter Convention Power where? Nations, regions, cities Building it: campaigns and movements Ian Martin Thu, 20 Aug 2015 07:46:16 +0000 Ian Martin 95275 at https://opendemocracy.net What Labour needs to learn from the divestment and anti-fracking movements https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/barry-gardiner/what-labour-needs-to-learn-from-divestment-and-antifracking-movements <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Movements to divest from fossil fuels and oppose fracking have cut a path which Labour should follow.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Gep5PTvHbmN0CIui-bPKBtx_vTB3-nVvPbp7mvhsiyQ/mtime:1439900473/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/whose_side.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/RazlBFYOK61ClgSli9irjP0FpVrZGw9xXIYc_hmFp5U/mtime:1439900379/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/whose_side.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="241" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">A man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is robbed and beaten and left for dead. Two men, a Priest and a then a Levite, walk by, crossing to the other side of the road to avoid any contact with him. Eventually the poor man is rescued by a Samaritan who even pays for his recovery.</p><p dir="ltr">We tend to think that the parable of the Good Samaritan is about the Samaritan – a man from a despised and alien culture doing the right thing; the appearance of grace in unexpected places. </p><p dir="ltr">In fact it’s really a cautionary tale about the establishment. The rules of the establishment were absolutely clear: a Priest or Levite, as a member of the Temple Cult, was doing exactly the right thing by avoiding contact with a bleeding man by the side of the road. To go against that orthodoxy would have made them ritually unclean and defiled them, making them unable to carry out their priestly functions. </p><p dir="ltr">The meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that solidarity, not a set of policy rules, is the best guide to what is right. In fact policy is simply a tool for achieving solidarity. As such policy will change as time and circumstance changes. The purpose of policy however, is unchanging. It is to build solidarity, to realise compassion and to bring about justice. &nbsp;It is a lesson that we in the Labour party desperately need to remember as we rebuild our movement. </p><p dir="ltr">The last Labour government recognised that old orthodoxies were restricting our ability to tackle injustice. That’s why we set up the Delivery Unit, which gave us most of Labour’s great radical successes. If we recognise an injustice but our rules make it impossible to do anything about it, then change the rules.</p><p dir="ltr">I have spent the past 18 years in Parliament, as both minister and backbencher working against the degradation of our environment and the effects of climate change. Over this time my party has delivered the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, created the world’s largest marine protected area in the British Indian Overseas Territories, planted the New National Forest in former coal mining communities, legislated for the the England Coast Path and passed the legally binding Climate Change Act that defines climate change as the great injustice of our time. But despite all this, the party orthodoxy remains that relegates environmental issues to the status of second order problems. They are not.</p><p dir="ltr">The Divestment and anti-fracking movements are part of a broader movement based on solidarity in the face of injustice. They are fighting battles every bit as important as our forebears who went on the mass trespass at Kinder Scout. They are fighting our battles; and they are winning. They are the harbingers of new challenges: the radical decentralisation of energy, deflating the so-called ‘carbon bubble’, insulating every leaky cold home in the country and &nbsp;keeping fossil fuels in the ground. </p><p dir="ltr">We need to turn to social movements that are achieving success without power, because for the next five years we are an opposition party without power and we will have to work together in solidarity with those who are used to achieving progress by force of argument alone.</p><p dir="ltr">The Divestment movement has shown how power can be wrestled back from universities, companies and even the Church of England when members or employees get organised. They have shown that it is possible to build a diverse mass movement around an intractable problem so long as what you are calling for will make a difference and you know how to win.&nbsp; </p><p dir="ltr">The anti-fracking movement has shown that a community can still be more powerful than business and Government combined. Successfully maintaining a moratorium on new shale gas development whilst the Government is calling for a new dash for gas. </p><p dir="ltr">Both of these movements have successfully combined the power of communities that live and work together with the power of online communities. Both are now just beginning to garner support from the establishment, with the Divestment movement endorsed by the Governor of the Bank of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the anti-fracking movement supported by the majority of Members of Parliament. </p><p>The parable of the Good Samaritan is Jesus’ response to the question “who is my neighbour?” His radical answer is: the person who acts in solidarity, shows compassion and does the right thing in defiance of orthodox policy. The greatest global challenges of this century will focus around energy security, food security and water security. Climate change provides the changing context in which these resource security issues become problems of human solidarity. The mission of the Labour party is not for us to be the guardians of orthodox policy positions. The mission of the Labour Movement must always be to express solidarity with those who share our struggles.</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-bill-mckibben/bill-mckibben-interview-time-for-climate-movement-to-get-on-fro">Bill McKibben interview - time for the climate movement to get on the front foot</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bryan-farrell/after-inspiring-fossil-fuel-divestment-will-south-africa%27s-own-campaign-succeed">After inspiring fossil fuel divestment, will South Africa&#039;s own campaign succeed?</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Barry Gardiner Thu, 20 Aug 2015 07:21:02 +0000 Barry Gardiner 95320 at https://opendemocracy.net Labour and the comfort zone https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/martin-shaw/labour-and-comfort-zone <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If Corbyn wins, he will have to be willing to accept some radical changes to the way that politics works.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/cmki0rOPMTKUFTBEcZPIvkCWBTriPuVYiarTCCqh5bg/mtime:1439979493/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/corbyn.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/oT8USLhsjD3jMV3em8PDNadj7ZryU-5gJlZifq-DYsw/mtime:1439979341/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/corbyn.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="351" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">It will now be a major upset if Jeremy Corbyn is not elected leader of the Labour Party on 12 September, and the ‘electability’ of a Corbyn government remains the main reason why rivals and commentators alike question this choice. </p><p dir="ltr">Electability has not always been an overriding consideration for Corbyn’s critics - Tony Blair squandered Labour’s support in his Iraq adventure, Gordon Brown refused to resign when it was clear that his leadership would cost Labour the 2010 election, and David Miliband declined to challenge Brown when it seemed a challenge might restore Labour’s fortunes.</p><p dir="ltr">However they are right that Labour needs to win elections, and it is clear that any Labour leader will face a formidable task to be electable in 2020. Labour is on 232 seats, needing a landslide of 94 seats to win outright in the next General Election in 2020. The Tories will introduce boundary changes, making the target still more onerous. </p><p dir="ltr">Landslides happen, but in the present circumstances it is almost as improbable that Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall will lead Labour to outright victory as it is that Corbynmania will last another five years and sweep an unprecedently left-wing party into power. </p><p dir="ltr">All the candidates are talking as though their ideas and leadership could construct a new majority on their own, but the evidence is strongly against this. Jeremy Corbyn - or any other leader - will need to move out of his and the party’s comfort zones to win.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The full scope of the problem</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The Tories are not tired, divided and mired in sleaze as they were in the mid-1990s, when Tony Blair rode into power, but aggressively confident after their surprise election victory. </p><p dir="ltr">They have seen off both their main UK-wide rivals. Not only has Labour suffered a historic defeat in Scotland, unlikely to be reversed even if Corbyn neutralises the SNP’s anti-austerity rhetoric. The Lib Dems, who previously took a big swathe of seats across southern England, have suffered equally catastrophic losses, the scale of which gave the Tories outright victory. </p><p dir="ltr">This means a non-Tory government will not only require Labour need to gain seats in England that it failed to win in 2005, 2010 or 2015, but will probably require a broader base. This is a moment for thinking laterally about the predicament of the large majority who did not vote Conservative - and some who did but now don’t want their new policies - in finding a way forward.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Wider non-Tory representation?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Beyond the scope for Labour gains, there are two key questions. First, how can non-Tory votes be made effective in the parts of England and Wales that the Lib Dems have lost and Labour is unlikely to reach? Second, can ways can be found of combining the non-Tory parties to enable an alternative government? </p><p dir="ltr">These two issues need to be addressed in tandem. Both challenges are as formidable as the task of returning Labour itself to a stronger position. The Liberal Democrats will doubtless recover a little: a Corbyn victory may offer them some extra space in the ‘centre’ ground. But it is not clear that Tim Farron’s mix of leftish liberalism and evangelical Christianity will do the job (and he has already compromised his liberal credentials on gay rights). They are unlikely to bounce back to their former strength.</p><p dir="ltr">Otherwise, what hope do rural, small-town and suburban areas, especially in southern England, have of non-Tory representation? Could local independent coalitions be a model for some constituencies to escape the Tory straightjacket? </p><p dir="ltr">In an overlooked result, independent Claire Wright in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/martin-shaw/development-resistance-threatens-election-upset-in-devon">East Devon</a> scored a remarkable 24 per cent of the vote in May, forcing UKIP, Labour and the Lib Dems out of the race with the local Tory. The past successes of Richard Taylor and Martin Bell (and Caroline Lucas’s solitary Green breakthrough) offer precedents. However this route seems likely to work only with strong local issues, high-profile candidates and local election campaigns which prepare the way. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Resolving the divided opposition</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This year’s Conservative victory resulted - far more than the Labour contenders are recognising - from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/martin-shaw/how-snptory-dynamics-shifted-2015-election">how the Tories exploited the divisions among the anti-Tory parties</a>. Miliband failed to respond effectively to his prospective parliamentary dependence on the SNP, allowing Cameron to paint Labour as a recipe for anarchy. Any Labour leader will have to deal with this and other coalition problems, which none of the candidates are even mentioning in their campaigns. </p><p dir="ltr">There are two routes to address these issues, which are not mutually exclusive. One is to achieve understandings between the opposition parties, which could be prepared by common opposition to the (often unmandated) policies of the Tory government. This could lead to an informal alliance at the 2020 election - or the voters could do it themselves, as they have in the past, through tactical voting. However the Tories, despite benefiting from coalition themselves, seem to have successfully demonised the dangers of a hung parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">The second and surer route is to find common ground in attacking the democratic deficit in the UK, so that the opposition is united around a programme of constitutional reform, which will attract civil society support, even as it differs on substantive economic and social policies. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Tackling the democratic deficit</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP all have a strong interests in ending the unfair electoral system that gave the Tories an absolute majority on 37 per cent of the vote. Labour should surely have learnt the lesson of Blair’s failure, even after the writing was on the wall in 2005, to implement the electoral reform to which the party was committed before 1997. </p><p dir="ltr">It is depressing that none of the candidates for the Labour leadership are seriously addressing this issue. Even Corbyn is very cautious: rightly defending the constituency-MP link, he seems unwilling to explore the Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies (as in Ireland), which is the best way to combine this link with proportionality without creating second-class party-list MPs (as in Germany). </p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn has, however, proposed calling a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/labour-leader-candidates-and-constitution">constitutional convention</a>, which if done in the right way could be a way to open up the issues more widely. Democratic reform of the House of Lords, where executive patronage is as anachronistic as hereditary titles, should also be common ground. </p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The SNP and the Miliband trap</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The national question will be trickier. It will be difficult for Labour (and the Liberal Democrats) to ally with the SNP so long as the latter sees independence as a short-term goal. If the SNP goes all-out for a new referendum after next year’s Holyrood election, that will make their participation in a UK-wide alternative to the Conservatives impossible. A referendum campaign would divide and divert any non-Tory momentum - even if it resulted in a new ‘No’, as is likely because the economic fundamentals have moved against independence.</p><p dir="ltr">What we may call the Miliband trap will only be overcome with a viable constitutional alternative. Federalism could be more tolerable to Labour (and the non-Tory English generally) if coupled with proportional representation in both UK and national parliaments. The non-Tory parties and civil society need to get ahead of both the Government and the SNP and find a new common ground which will help prevent a repeat of the impasse of 2014-15.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The European challenge</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The first big challenge, in any case, will be Europe, where the opposition must avoid a different trap - condemning the failings of European Union democracy and exposing Cameron’s cosmetic renegotiation, without embracing the dangerous tendency to reject the European project altogether. </p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn has already <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/25/jeremy-corbyn-draws-fire-position-future-britain-eu-membership">half-stumbled over this issue</a>. Although the questions of Eurozone austerity and just migration policies resonate powerfully, Corbyn - or whoever is the Labour leader - will have their work cut out to find an internationalist way through the referendum dilemmas that boosts rather than fragments the party.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Corbyn’s international commitments</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Wider international issues will mostly be less pressing for the opposition leader, but are still crucial ground on which to judge the candidates. None of the alternatives to Corbyn has much to offer, and their sycophancy towards Israel (evident in <a href="http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/140188/labour-leadership-candidates-clash-jewish-community-hustings">a recent Labour Friends of Israel hustings</a>) says much of what needs to be known about their conventional attitudes.</p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn, in contrast, has an unusual record of international engagement, underscored as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gary-kent/jeremy-corbyn-and-british-foreign-policy">Gary Kent suggests</a> by anti-Americanism. Yet he is not as committed to authoritarian governments as Gordon Brown suggests. I checked out links offered by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/09/tip-waiters-workers-rights-destroyed">Nick Cohen</a> to back this case, and they actually showed that Corbyn was supportive only of Hugo Chavez - not of Iran, Gaddafi or Putin.</p><p dir="ltr">Nevertheless Corbyn’s closeness to Sinn Fein, symbolised by his <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/11754303/Jeremy-Corbyn-sips-coffee-with-comrades-Gerry-Adams-and-Martin-McGuiness-in-Parliament.html">recent tea party with Gerry Adams</a> and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-criticised-by-victims-families-after-failing-to-condemn-the-ira-10442683.html">refusal to specifically condemn IRA killings</a>, is troubling and will be a focus of attacks. Likewise, his campaigning for peace in the Middle East has brought him into contact with some dubious figures. Even if he doesn’t share their opinions, in some cases there are legitimate questions about whether he should have shared platforms. </p><p dir="ltr">Certainly his anti-nuclear, anti-NATO and anti-Israel stances will not only provoke big conflicts within Labour as it tries to resolve its policies, but also make him a target of media denigration which will make Miliband’s treatment seem mild.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>An opportunity for renewal?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Burnham and Cooper, the other possible winners, have conspicuously failed to inspire, and it is not obvious that either could take Labour back to office. Although Corbyn has aroused great enthusiasm among the six hundred thousand Labour selectors, it will be a tall order to convince the wider electorate of an alternative, not least because the fiscal responsibility issue which helped sink Miliband remains an obstacle, as <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/08/labour-lost-because-voters-believed-it-was-anti-austerity/">Jon Cruddas’ research</a> shows.</p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn will need to broaden his appeal if the failure predicted by his enemies is not to come to pass. The necessary radical shift is most obvious on constitutional reform. Yet Corbyn’s <a href="http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/investment_growth_and_tax_justice">economic agenda </a>also seems rather conventional (rail ownership, tax avodiance, etc.). It is not clear that his much-flagged support for ‘people’s quantitative easing’ will fly now that the economy is growing. </p><p dir="ltr">Deeper sources of inequality, like the exemption of property gains from tax - Corbyn’s own Islington voters recently earned <a href="http://islingtonnow.co.uk/2015/03/30/islington-homeowners-earn-more-by-not-working-than-by-working/">twice as much from untaxed housing gains as from taxed work</a> - remain off limits. Since the Tories have effectively abandoned universal home-ownership, the left could claim the idea of a ‘property-owning democracy’ for itself - but only if it was prepared to radically reform the housing market and the challenge the vested interests in the status quo.</p><p dir="ltr">The prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party has raised many hopes. The unlikely opportunity for renewal which it offers will only be realised, however, if Corbyn moves himself as well as his party far from their comfort zones. </p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong><span>Please donate to OurKingdom </span><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><span>here </span></a><span>to help keep us producing independent journalism. Thank you.</span></strong></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="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/13-things-about-labour-leadership-election">13 things about the Labour leadership election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/dan-hind/corbyn-should-support-convention-parliament-or-he-will-fail">Corbyn should support a convention parliament or he will fail</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/robin-blackburn/from-miliband-to-corbyn-labour-struggles-to-renew-itself">From Miliband to Corbyn: Labour struggles to renew itself</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Martin Shaw Thu, 20 Aug 2015 07:18:11 +0000 Martin Shaw 95348 at https://opendemocracy.net Satisfactory? The UK immigration lock-up that Samaritans dare not visit https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/shinealight/phil-miller/satisfactory-uk-immigration-lockup-samaritans-dare-not-visit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li><span style="line-height: 1.5;">• Another man dies at The Verne, an isolated detention centre in Dorset</span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.5;">• The Samaritans said Verne was too dangerous to visit</span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.5;">• Chief inspector of prisons concludes Verne is “satisfactory”</span></li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/40AkwGECqoPT673xYfP8Txd51W81B1sBHEQ6yN8YisA/mtime:1440009232/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/standoff.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/raTzOceQWC7lMqTPCUF-FGUYpNgFGp8OWb7coUwxa2A/mtime:1440008529/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/standoff.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Covert footage, The Verne, 6 March, 2015 (@Standoffilms)</span></span></span></p><p>A 30-year-old man was <a href="http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/13581917.UPDATED__Asylum_seeker_found_dead_at_the_Verne/">found dead</a> at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre on 6 August.&nbsp;<span>The man, named by fellow detainees as Thomas Kirungi, was a Ugandan national and an asylum seeker.&nbsp;</span><span>Detainees say he took his own life, and allege&nbsp;</span><span>that healthcare staff refused to give him his antidepressants the night before. A witness who tried to tell this to detectives investigating the death was quickly moved to a different detention centre, detainees claim.</span></p> <p>This is the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-stateless-asylum-seeker-found-dead-in-his-prison-cell-9488207.html"><span>second death at The Verne</span></a> in 14 months. The detention centre, a converted fortress on the Isle of Portland, holds almost 600 men, over half of them ex-prisoners.</p> <p>Yet Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, wrote:&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>Overall, The Verne was operating satisfactorily,</span><span>” —</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>in an inspection report published days before the latest death.</span></p> <p>His report’s own findings contradict that conclusion, and suggest that suicide prevention work at the Verne is particularly inadequate.</p> <p>Samaritans, the mental health charity that <a href="http://www.samaritans.org/your-community/our-work-prisons">works in prisons</a> to prevent self-inflicted deaths and self-harm, pulled out from visiting The Verne “because of safety concerns” (mentioned on page 22 of the inspector’s report). </p> <p>The charity tells me it is now providing a reduced service there.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/eAcZ8b1ZRXn99J9iglx8XgYT_mbOingqHZxLrb16iyA/mtime:1440009612/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/pdFsltCYytk9gk1AF2P2ipH29Y4rQkgBVOFnI86c6hU/mtime:1440009414/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Walkway, The Verne IRC (HMIP)</span></span></span></p><p>Hardwick’s report on The Verne reveals: “levels of violence were too high and some of the violence was serious.”</p> <p>The week before the inspection, there was what Hardwick euphemistically called a “concerted indiscipline” (commonly known as a riot), involving over a hundred detainees. It was “sparked by a detainee tying a noose around his neck and going onto a roof. ... and the subsequent disturbance caused considerable damage to property.” </p> <p>The detainees offer their account with a covertly-filmed video <a href="https://vimeo.com/122270700"><span>here</span></a>. It is harrowing stuff. </p> <p>In the six months before the inspection, “24 detainees had harmed themselves and some incidents were <em>serious near misses</em>”, according to the report. </p> <p>How were people on suicide-watch cared for? Hardwick says: “there was no care suite and detainees requiring constant observations were held in an austere gated cell in the separation unit … Holding detainees in crisis in such poor conditions was inappropriate.”</p> <p><em>Inappropriate.</em></p> <p>This separation unit “was poor and it was used frequently. Some detainees were held there for several weeks”.</p> <p>There was little natural light, “which created a rather oppressive environment. Most rooms were dirty with graffiti and some toilets were filthy”. </p> <p>If they wanted a breath of fresh air, perhaps to get away from the smell of excrement, then “the exercise yard was stark and cage like”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/EOjAu48vpHE_x47d51Hb8WT1EbvyqaFdKXyIQdX55W8/mtime:1440009232/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-entrance-to-healthcare.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/-2JgFmxW5CxcBrKUKRaiJmNFmDatuyZjMMtONs9Kh84/mtime:1440009135/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne-HMIP-entrance-to-healthcare.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Entrance to healthcare, The Verne IRC (HMIP)</span></span></span></p><p>Remember, this is where suicidal detainees were being kept, “because of a lack of more suitable accommodation”. That’s concerning.</p> <p>Inspectors noted: “Thirty-nine detainees had been held for more than a year, with the longest held for five years, one of the most shocking cases of prolonged detention we have seen.” There was no reasonable chance of him being deported, the report says; he had no passport.&nbsp; </p> <p>“For years the Home Office had accused him of failing to cooperate with his re-documentation,” but they had not tried to prosecute him for non-compliance before a judge. </p> <p>An absence of due process, and, in the report’s own words, “shocking”.</p> <p>The Verne, which is a converted Victorian fort (the moat survives), used to be a prison. Hardwick wrote: “The centre still looked and felt like a prison and there was an unnecessary amount of razor wire,” much of which had gone up recently. </p> <p>The Verne is peculiarly isolated —&nbsp;on the Isle of Portland, which is joined to the Dorset mainland by a single windswept causeway, half an hour’s drive from Weymouth railway station. <em></em></p> <p>The prison inspectorate’s survey revealed that just 19 per cent of detainees had been visited by family or friends, compared with an average of 43 per cent for other immigration detention centres. Only a quarter of lawyers had managed to visit their clients. </p> <p>The mobile phone signal is patchy. These people are really cut off.</p> <p>The Isle of Portland has a long penal history, of which the Verne detention centre is just the latest chapter. From 1848, convicts were bought to the isle for forced labour in the limestone quarries, before deportation to Australia. The inmates included Irish Republicans detained after the Fenian Rising of 1867. The Verne’s location is a reminder that Britain’s addiction to banishing the ‘other’, be they ex-offenders or terror suspects, is nothing new.&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/phil-miller-clare-sambrook/national-shame-that-is-healthcare-in-uk-immigration-detention">The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/suicide-murder-despair-coalition-government-makes-its-mark-on-prisons">Suicide, murder, despair. Coalition government makes its mark on prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/juliet-lyon/rising-suicides-and-assaults-more-punitive-regimes-less-rehabilitation-no-pri">Rising suicides and assaults, more punitive regimes, less rehabilitation. No prisons crisis?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/ourkingdom/phil-miller/dozens-of-fathers-among-migrants-forcibly-deported-on-uk-ghost-flight-tonight">Dozens of fathers among migrants to be forcibly deported tonight</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/phil-miller/capita-guard-%E2%80%9C-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing%E2%80%9D">Capita guard: “The course did not tell me what to do if someone is not breathing”</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/phil-miller/medical-care-in-uk-detention-centre-lamentable-failure-brian-dalrymple-inques">Medical care in UK detention centre a &#039;lamentable failure&#039;: Brian Dalrymple inquest report</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/could-ministry-of-justice-grayling-be-prosecuted-for-manslaughter-over-pri">Could Ministry of Justice &amp; Grayling be prosecuted for manslaughter over prison suicides? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-section-url-ga"> <div class="field-label">Google analytics section url:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> shinealight </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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Phil Miller Wed, 19 Aug 2015 23:00:10 +0000 Phil Miller 95368 at https://opendemocracy.net Jeremy Corbyn’s first 100 days https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/jeremy-corbyn%E2%80%99s-first-100-days <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What alarms the opponents of the Labour Party's probable next leader? That he is not thirty years behind the times - but ten years ahead. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>David Cameron has just celebrated his first hundred days as leader of a government that has moved quickly to consolidate its vision of a neo-liberal conservative age and making the most of what was expected to be a lacklustre but usefully diversionary Labour leadership <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/leadership">contest</a>. As in 2010, the consolidation has met with much success. But there is a difference: this tim,e it has been less an opportunity to set an agenda of Labour’s previous fiscal irresponsibility and much more a positive and rigorous <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/corbyn-and-the-cringe-caucus/">insistence</a> that austerity is essential and “there is no alternative”. </p><p>Well within the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/14/david-cameron-first-100-days-what-has-conservative-government-actually-done">hundred days</a>, the government has brought in a raft of changes including a sell-off of housing-association stock, further NHS privatisation, the centralisation of education control, coupled with cuts in 16+ education funding, further controls on labour rights, a planned easing of financial regulation, a substantial cutback in spending on rail investment, and controversial welfare changes.</p><p>All of this is in the context of a brilliant if unexpected bonus: the veritable euphoria in Conservative Party ranks over the sudden <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/world/europe/jeremy-corbyn-labour-party-leader-britain-hard-left.html?_r=0">emergence</a> of Jeremy Corbyn as a serious contender for the Labour leadership, igniting the prospect of Labour being little more than a sidelined protest party heading for certain defeat in 2020.</p><p>While this is all of interest mainly to domestic audiences in the UK, it also has value from a transnational neo-conservative stance. For it suggests that a UK political party potentially offering some opposition to the right way <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33944207">forward</a> has gone so far overboard that it has no prospect of power. As a consequence, those wayward leftist parties of southern Europe will not be enthused and encouraged by a like-minded party in north-west Europe with a serious political future.</p><p>An earlier column in this series suggested otherwise: namely, that much more was happening than a futile lurch to the left; that it was not a childish reaction to defeat; and that there were signs in it of a popular movement of support that extended to parts of public opinion which the Labour Party had failed to reach for some years (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">What’s behind the Corbyn surge?</a>”, 26 July 2015).&nbsp; </p><p>Since then, the Corbyn surge has <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/08/11/uk-britain-politics-labour-idUKKCN0QG0LG20150811">continued</a>, voting has begun, and the signs now are that he is the overwhelming favourite to lead the opposition when parliament reassembles in September. With all this in mind, it is reasonable to extend the discussion to what might happen if he is elected, quite possibly on the first count. What are the prospects for Jeremy Corbyn’s first hundred days and how will they compare with David Cameron’s current progress?&nbsp; </p><p><strong>A different prospectus</strong></p><p>Within the Labour Party the mainstream of the parliamentary party is shell-shocked by what has happened. There is already much talk of determined opposition, initially taking the form of non-cooperation that will make the new leader’s position increasingly difficult. Furthermore, this will come at a time when the majority of the national print media will be dedicated to probing every fault, real or imagined, in both Corbyn and his team.</p><p>However, if he is elected by a very clear majority by a far larger electorate than expected, including a Labour Party membership that has shot up by 70,000 members to 270,000 since the election and is still <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33892407">rising</a>, he will have a degree of authority that is far more than anticipated. This alone will cause many wavering Labour MPs to caution against any opposition to the new regime. Added to this is the inevitable element of personal ambition, creating a situation where there is rather more acceptance of the outcome than expected, at least for the first few months. Furthermore, Corbyn has substantial constituency support and many MPs will be under considerable pressure at least to give him a chance.</p><p>What, then, of the first full parliamentary session, especially those first hundred days?&nbsp; This is where it gets interesting because it is clear that a Corbyn leadership will <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/jeremy-corbyn-labour-leader-how-i-will-unify-mps-rebuild-party-and-win-2020">involve</a> far more opposition to current government policies, combined with proposing alternatives on many issues, some of them with considerable public <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2015/aug/19/jeremy-corbyn-coalition-labour">support</a>. A Corbyn-led party will be a party of sustained opposition and while this is said to be a problem, there is a strong argument that in the first few months of a Conservative government <a href="https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto">bent</a> on radical changes and with five years to go until another election this is precisely what very many people want.</p><p>In addition, though the national print media will mostly be vehemently oppositional, the broadcast media may be different. If the main party of opposition sets out to oppose austerity, Trident <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain&#039;s-defence-path-to-change">renewa</a>l, TTIPS and other policies, while also promoting issues such as industrial investment, fairer pay, rail renationalisation, tough action on climate change and extreme <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/on-not-bombing-syria">caution</a> about further wars in the Middle East, then a much stronger <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/18/jez-we-can-corbyn-middlesbrough">voice</a> has to be given to those arguments.&nbsp; </p><p>There was little or none of this when there was relatively little difference between the parties on many issues, but with this change in political outlook, a much more vigorous public debate becomes possible. Labour may even find itself getting more <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/Jeremy_Corbyn/11810687/Jeremy-Corbyn-is-no-monster.-He-might-even-be-the-saviour-of-the-Labour-party.html">backing</a> than expected from Greens and Liberal Democrats. </p><p>In other words we are moving into uncertain political times, and some thoughtful Conservative politicians may be starting to have second thoughts about Corbyn and what he means, with some even starting to see him as a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/03/jeremy-corbyn-ken-clarke-labour_n_7925964.html ">significant</a> problem.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Even so, the real issue extends well beyond this and can be summarised by the question - is Corbyn thirty years <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21660599-labours-prospective-next-leader-may-be-partys-hard-left-he-no-radical-jeremy">behind</a> the times or ten years <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/18/jeremy-corbyn-rivals-chase-impossible-dream">ahead</a> of the times? The widespread assumption among most commentators is the former, but if we look across the world at the diverse but increasing opposition to the neo-conservative economic transition and the problems that transition is facing, we cannot be so sure.&nbsp; </p><p>One thing that we can be sure of, though, is that if it is Jeremy Corbyn who is much more in touch with wider trends then we will get a pretty clear sign of it inside his first hundred days. If his popularity by that time has stretched beyond what may be a reinvigorated Labour Party, then he may not only last to the 2020 election but present the Conservatives with a much greater problem than almost any of them currently expect.</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><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/">Jeremy Corbyn</a></p><p>Paul Mason, <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/books/postcapitalism/9781846147388/"><em>PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future</em></a> (Penguin, 2015)</p><p>David M Kotz, <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674725652"><em>The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism</em></a> (Harvard University Press, 2015)</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/what%E2%80%99s-behind-corbyn-surge">What’s behind the Corbyn surge?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-britain">Islamic State vs Britain </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/on-not-bombing-syria">On not bombing Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/sousse-kuwait-lyon-triple-alert">Sousse, Kuwait, Lyon: a triple alert</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflicts/global_security/peace_crusader">Tony Blair, a crusader for peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</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> OurKingdom global security Paul Rogers Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:43:58 +0000 Paul Rogers 95370 at https://opendemocracy.net Britain’s creative kickstarter: the BBC https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/alex-connock/britain%E2%80%99s-creative-kickstarter-bbc <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Want to know the value of the BBC to Britain’s £76.4 billion creative economy? Have a look at the unique impact of its Manchester investment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-right"><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Q2TBSRLxpanW31kVxLwUrQSlycG0Ue_xInqDwYe49TY/mtime:1439989571/files/Lowry%20Manchesterhi.jpg" alt="" width="460" /><br /><span class="image-caption"> </span><em> Lowry Theatre, Salford</em></p><p class="image-right"><em></em><span>There is a place a lot like Northern California – where rushing rivers tumble over boulders through rocky outcrops and pine forest. But it’s twenty minutes from downtown Stockport. You could spend a sunny day driving about in the Goyt Valley, and confuse the geography with upland California – until you switched on your car radio. At that point, you would fall into a canyon of difference. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>In Northern California, scan across the entire FM waveband, and you might never find a station to stop on. It’s 24-hour ‘adult contemporary’ formats, spiced up with religious radio – a small ditch of choice that stretches from John Bon Jovi to Kanye, via rehashed Old Testament admonitions.&nbsp;</p> <p>But in the hills of Northern Britain, your radio choice is actually Biblical in scale.&nbsp; Alongside many genres of music, you could hear Melvyn Bragg exploring <em>Abelard and Heloise</em>, or the theological differences between Sunni and Shia Islam, or the vacuum of space. You could hear the <em>Art of Self-Borrowing</em> as explored through J. S. Bach’s <em>B Minor Mass</em>. You could listen to an Alan Ayckbourn play or hear Toulouse-Lautrec’s <em>Moulin Rouge</em> characters brought to life. You could be transported, via broadcasting of unchallenged intellectual richness, to one of the finest libraries in the history of the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>And what makes the difference? The BBC.&nbsp;</p> <p>For the last 60 years, the BBC has been to radio and TV programme-making what Apple is to personal computing today. The world champion. The <em>sine qua non. </em>The BBC has quite possibly been the only UK industrial entity that has consistently been in the global premier league in its field for over half a century. Can you name another? British Rail? The Royal Bank of Scotland?&nbsp;</p> <p>Industrially-speaking, the North is a handy testbed for the wider impact of the BBC on our creative industry, far from where the policies are made in smoke-free rooms – be that Washington or London – and right where the programmes are made and actually enjoyed.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>We can see how the BBC impacted on different parts of the North of England when it moved major assets there, and what that might say in microcosm about the corporation’s role within the British creative economy as a whole. And since we started with California, we can comparatively think about how the ‘cluster’ effect of California’s long-term embrace of digital creative companies brings extraordinary compound benefits way beyond the value or cost of any given single player.&nbsp;</p> <p>We can also consider how <em>unthinkable</em> it would be there to consider the idea of dropping that most precious of industrial entities: a truly world class player.&nbsp;Try telling the burghers of San Francisco that Apple isn’t worth having any more, and they’d chuck you off a cliff. We should feel the same about the Beeb.&nbsp;</p><h2>The BBC North Experiment&nbsp;</h2><p><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/5jhkOF_p2wJhcOisI8Vkcdem06B6Oo07JECxkIBaNUg/mtime:1440157229/files/Media%20City%20Salford%20.jpeg" alt="" width="100%" /></p> <p><span>For a simple test of what the creative economy of Britain would be like without the BBC, we can look at the differing evolutions of the creative economies of the North West and North East over the past five years, in the context of the BBC moving substantial assets into one place (Manchester) but not another (Newcastle). It’s not a scientific experiment of course, but it does offer a beguiling indication: where BBC North went made a far bigger, wider difference to the creative economy.</span></p> <p>Raw metropolitan prejudice, much of which would resonated nicely within the snotty Parisian court <em>circa</em> 1750, was directed at the BBC’s 2010-2013 implementation of a strategic move of certain departments such as Sport and Children’s to Salford (which is in Manchester, unless you are into local council sophistry). A stream of prejudiced negativity, often from nameless BBC staffers, was directed against the very idea of moving programme production out of London to one of the other cities that paid for it.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The general theme was moral outrage: how <em>dare</em> they? Max Hastings wrote in the <em>Daily Mail:</em>&nbsp;‘Like it or not, London is Britain’s cultural capital. The attempt to shift one of its greatest institutions to the North makes no more sense than greening Abu Dhabi.’&nbsp;</p><h2>Clusters</h2> <p>On the Abu Dhabi point, Hastings disregarded that many of the biggest success stories of British broadcasting over the past 60 years had already originated in the North including the world’s most successful long running soap (<em>Coronation Street</em>), the two most cerebral long running formats on British TV (<em>University Challenge</em> and <em>Mastermind</em>), dramas from <em>Red Dwarf</em> to <em>Prime Suspect </em>and <em>Colditz</em> (surely World War 2 buff Hastings’ ideal show?) plus current affairs from <em>World in Action</em> onwards.&nbsp;</p> <p>Manchester’s opponents also arrogantly disregarded the principle that there could be any hypothecated political and democratic logic to locating the production dimension of a publicly-funded entity more fairly across its funding regions.</p> <p>And above all they disregarded the economic desirability of creating a ‘northern powerhouse’ cluster (to borrow a phrase from George Osborne) of the creative economy in Manchester. The conceit was that creative capital belonged in a single overcrowded political capital - and that conceit was wrong, because the BBC North project has worked.</p> <p>The BBC with its reported £500m investment (the exact level depends who you ask) kickstarted Media City to the place it is today – a remarkably wide campus of production which encompasses not only major departments but also (often unreported) major teams of BBC digital R&amp;D workers. Media City has concurrently added ITV output spanning drama, entertainment and factual. It has added outposts of large indie groups and distributors (such as the Red Production company, or the one I run, <a href="http://www.shinenorth.tv/" target="_blank">Shine North</a>, part of the global Endemol Shine Group). It now has some 3,000 TV workers. And it has digital and marketing start-ups, a university campus, a brand new college for 14 to 18-year-olds targeting digital employment, and much more.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Media City came on stream, I sat as chairman of the Royal Television Society North West across a doubling in entries to our annual awards process from 2012-14 – and by no means just from imported BBC entrants. We viewed entries as a wider production sector bellweather, and we saw cultural engagement rise in doubled attendance at events from quizzes to talks about the how-to of documentary making.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>And in turn that multiplied beyond, into a wider – if hard to attribute – <em>renaissance</em> in Manchester’s creative economy, which saw a step jump in the digital sector over exactly the same period. Manchester had 70 per cent growth in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013, against a nationwide clusters average of 53 per cent, as measured by the Tech Nation report (Morris and Penido 2014).&nbsp;</p> <p>The report also said there were now 56,145 digital jobs in Greater Manchester, and that 61 to 80 per cent of survey respondents identified access to talent and social networks as the key benefits of being in the region: ‘Manchester’s long-standing media industry has now gone digital. The average company turnover growth is one of the highest in the UK’ said the report. This was cluster economics at work. ‘Some £3.5 billion has been invested to support Manchester’s digital and technology infrastructure. For example, Salford’s £950 million Media City UK, Europe’s first purpose-built business hub for the creative and digital industries.’</p> <p>What the BBC brought to Manchester was critical mass. It brought strategic scale to a strategic industry. It was a world champion, championing a world class production economy. It worked.&nbsp;</p><h2>Compare that with the North East&nbsp;</h2><p><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/feYd09jXgMMYCRYYrbN6mZhExTCXjqopZBiV87r1aDI/mtime:1439991595/files/Newcastle%20view%20August%202011.jpeg" alt="" width="100%" /></p> <p>Meanwhile the BBC didn’t do anything of the sort in Newcastle.&nbsp;</p> <p>They didn’t move any departments to the Tyne, or inventive digital units. They didn’t open any staff canteens or national newsrooms or breakfast shows. Granted, they have made superb drama and kids productions – estimated at a £6m annual annual contribution to the region’s economy by Northern Film and Media. Some of them have been seriously successful, like <em>Wolfblood</em>. But even the most ardent BBC corporate PR person couldn’t argue the corporation invested at the same permanent scale as in Manchester. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>And as a direct result, TV output in the region, and the kicker effect that has on the rest of the creative sector, is, in relative terms, flatlined.</p> <p>Andy Becket wrote a <em>Guardian</em> article in May 2014 titled '<em>The North East of England: Britain’s Detroit'</em><em>, </em>positing wide decline and an unclear economic raison d’etre. It was widely derided in the region as untrue and unfair, and certainly in the digital sector there are signs of real progress.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Again, the Tech Nation report identified strength in IT-based software engineering and back-office IT support businesses (not least the FTSE 100-listed Sage and leading games developers include Ubisoft Reflections, Epic Games UK and CCP Games). &nbsp;Fully 77% of companies surveyed reported belief they are part of a digital cluster.
&nbsp;</p> <p>But what was absent was critical mass in the creative media industries of TV, video content, radio at the same level as was seeded in the North West by the BBC’s market intervention. In the Tech Nation’s skills mapping, there was less adjacency for North East skills bases with the kind of creative production skills the BBC is bringing to the North West. To Manchester’s 70% growth in new digital companies incorporated between 2010-13, the North East had just 23%, way below the national average.</p> <p>And why does that matter? Because what happened in the creative elements of the digital content economy in Newcastle, or rather what didn’t happen in terms of cluster economics, jobs growth, ‘northern powerhouse’ - is a foretaste of what could happen to the British creative sector as a whole without the extraordinary kickstarting effect of the BBC at its heart.&nbsp;</p><h2>California</h2><p><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/CM4VHRhvxfvS8JjrXH_3K1AdXNo00d8Z7FrhLo5M_hk/mtime:1439986647/files/San%20Francisco.jpg" alt="" width="100%" /></p><p><span><strong><span></span></strong>In 1913 a young man was sent from New York to Flagstaff, Arizona to find a location to shoot an ‘Indians’ (his word) movie. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>Two weeks went by - then a telegram arrived from Flagstaff: “No good for our purpose. Want authority to rent barn in place called Hollywood.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>That was from Cecil B De Mille, and Sam Goldfish (who later changed his name to Sam Goldwyn) telegraphed back: “Rent barn but on month to month basis. Don’t make any long term commitment.”&nbsp;</p> <p>At that point, no feature film had ever been made in Hollywood. These were the first guys in town to do more than a short. Their seed investment, and that of others, was one step in the Hollywood cluster being born. And once the cluster was in place, it became unstoppable – an industry worth $679 billion to the US in 2014.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a 2014 paper on <em>Why Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley</em>, the authors concluded that the principle reason it happened was not that it had inate geographic advantages, or a better technological heritage. It was that the entrepreneurs behind key businesses like Fairchild Semiconductor, who achieved some success in the 1960s and early 1970s, were prepared to pay their success forward by backing others, thereby creating a cluster effect. This didn’t even happen in Dallas, where Texas Instruments had better technology.</p> <p>Again – it’s clusters of world-beating expertise based on seed investment and re-investment.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><h2><span>The BBC as core of the UK creative cluster&nbsp;</span></h2><p><span><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Yoq8a3xSivVpwG72DYNtOX_L17iyuzjIEPjIP258_Bc/mtime:1439986463/files/Manchester%20.jpg" alt="" width="100%" /></span></p> <p><span>That’s why this debate matters. The creative industries are worth £76.9 billion per year to the UK economy, according to a DCMS report published January 2015. And at the heart of that is a core investor, in which as a nation we have a controlling shareholding: the BBC. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>We have devoted seven decades of remarkably stable national investment into that corporation, and it is repaying us. Not only with a cultural richness that keeps us entertained on the Peak District moors, not only with a cluster of employment in cities Manchester that is helping to drive a dynamic rebirth of the city’s economy as a digital production and tech hub with critical mass, but also with a production industry that is British and world-class like very few others today.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>If we tinker with the BBC we take a risk of undoing our uniqueness and becoming like everyone else - without the global impact of a BBC-powered creative economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>So reform the BBC? Sure. But don’t deny for a moment it’s pivotal role as the UK’s region-boosting, world-beating creative kickstarter.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong>This is an extract from the forthcoming book:</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><em>The BBC Today: Future Uncertain.&nbsp;</em>Ed. John Mair, Professor Richard Tait and Professor Richard Lance Keeble.&nbsp;Abramis Bury St Edmunds:&nbsp;5 September&nbsp;2015</p><p><em>Isbn: 9781845496562</em></p><p>(Copies available from&nbsp;<a href="mailto:Richard@arimapublishing.co.uk">Richard@arimapublishing.co.uk</a>&nbsp;and on Amazon)</p><p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>All the images in this piece were provided by the author</span></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="/ourbeeb/andrew-whitehead/does-world-service-have-future">Does the World Service have a future?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/julian-petley/bbc-charter-renewal-invisible-actors-and-critical-friends">BBC Charter renewal: invisible actors and critical friends</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/alexander-beaumont/bbc-and-north">The BBC and the North</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb OurKingdom A post-broadcast BBC Alex Connock Wed, 19 Aug 2015 13:20:50 +0000 Alex Connock 95344 at https://opendemocracy.net Democracy needs informed debate: how do we get it? https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gavin-barker/democracy-needs-informed-debate-how-do-we-get-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Democracy requires informed debate. Gavin Barker sets out a proposal for how <a href="http://assembliesfordemocracy.org/">Assemblies for Democracy</a> and other citizen groups can help to improve citizens' access to high quality information. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span> </span><span class="blockquote-new">“A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.”</span><span><span> </span></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/peter-oborne/why-i-have-resigned-from-telegraph"><span><span><span>So said Peter Oborne</span></span></span></a><span>, the former chief political correspondent of the <em>Daily Telegraph</em>, on his resignation from that paper following its fraudulent&nbsp;coverage of the recent HSBC tax dodging scandal. As Oborne, pointed out, the biggest losers were the <em>Telegraph</em> readers:<span>&nbsp; </span>a leading UK newspaper had abdicated its responsibility to tell the truth about an issue of vital public concern. <span>&nbsp;</span>He added: “<em><span>If major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy itself is in peril”</span></em><strong>.</strong></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Nor has the State been any less successful in cowing a ‘free’ press to do its bidding. The current government has intimidated sections of the media to either downplay or spin the whole issue of mass surveillance by GCHQ. </span><span><span>&nbsp;</span>With the exception of the <em>Guardian</em>, an otherwise spineless British mainstream media has either ignored or even followed a government line that positions the human right to privacy - and human rights in general - as serving only to protect terrorists and criminals. The whistle blower Edward Snowden&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/12/snowden-state-surveillance-britain-no-limits"><span><span><span>has rightly called</span></span></span></a><span>&nbsp;the UK mainstream media’s coverage of the GCHQ story “a disservice to the public.”<a name="_ednref1" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_edn1"><span><span><span><span>[i]</span></span></span></span></a></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><strong><span>The increasing role of corporate PR in the production of news</span></strong></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>While these two recent examples stand out as two of the most blatant acts of press failure to publish real news, there is another less dramatic, more insidious shift in news reporting that has been taking place. </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>A study done by the Cardiff School of Journalism in 2006 exposed the degree to which the</span><span> quality and independence of British journalism is being compromised by its increasing reliance on ‘pre-packaged news’ provided by PR and wire services: 19% of newspaper stories and 17% of broadcast stories were verifiably derived mainly or wholly from PR material, while less than half the stories they looked at appeared to be entirely independent of traceable PR.<a name="_ednref2" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_edn2"><span><span><span><span>[ii]</span></span></span></span></a> The main source of PR is the corporate/ business world, which the report states is “more than three times more successful than NGOs, charities and civic groups at getting material into the news”.<span>&nbsp; </span>Consumer, business and entertainment stories score high on PR content but the greatest volume of PR generated material is health, particularly from health and pharmaceutical industries.<a name="_ednref3" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_edn3"><span><span><span><span>[iii]</span></span></span></span></a> </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Agency or wire services accounted for 47% of the press stories but here too, corporate PR material was evident in the content provided to newspapers.<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>As journalists are required to do more with less time,‘ready-made’ news comes to replace independent journalism with little effort made to contextualise and verify the main source of information.<span>&nbsp; </span>The research found that in less than one in five cases was this done meaningfully.<a name="_ednref4" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_edn4"><span><span><span><span>[iv]</span></span></span></span></a> Broadcast news does better, with 42% of cases involving thorough contextualisation or verification.</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Although this study is dated, it is unlikely that the corporate PR machine is any less effective in its efforts to shape the press and TV media coverage of the news we receive - and we have not even touched on Sky News owned by Rupert Murdoch! </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>At the same time, and perhaps not coincidentally, there is a growing public distrust in mainstream media revealed by </span><a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/08/09/more-british-people-trust-wikipedia-trust-news/"><span><span><span>a YouGov<span>&nbsp; </span>poll in August 2014</span></span></span></a><span><span><span>.</span></span></span><span> This showed that only 45% of British people trusted upmarket newspapers such as the <em>Times</em>, <em>Telegraph</em> and <em>Guardian</em>, with less than half that (22%) for the <em>Mail </em>and <em>Express</em> and only 13% trusting the red topped tabloid newspapers the <em>Sun </em>and <em>Mirror</em>. BBC journalism scores 61% but it is Wikipedia that topped the list with 64% trusting it to tell the truth “a great deal” or “a fair amount”. <span>&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><strong><span>The internet, social media and ‘an epidemic of ignorance’</span></strong></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Wikipedia’s success notwithstanding, too much credence is placed on the internet and social media as allowing us to circumvent information roadblocks at the click of a mouse. Internet search affords almost instantaneous access to vast amounts of information but separating the wheat from the chaff, myth from fact, balanced information from sheer digital drivel,&nbsp;is onerous work. And what credence can we put on Facebook’s efforts to position itself as a main source of news for the tens &nbsp;of millions of ‘friends’ who think that Facebook&nbsp;<em><span>is</span></em>&nbsp;the internet and who never pick up a paper or listen to radio? Our multimedia rich society, far from informing and educating us has, through the commercialisation of the internet and ‘big data’&nbsp;mining of personal&nbsp; information,&nbsp; created new global powers and vastly extended the impact of advertising to create new wants and a new economy of endless distraction.</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Whether it is editorial policy, or a Facebook algorithm, increasingly we are being served ‘junk news’ that filters out the real issues of the day, leading to what Dr Jonathan Sachs has called an ‘epidemic of ignorance’, a collapse of the public’s basic knowledge about key issues we confront such as climate change.&nbsp; His research in the U.S chimes with a separate </span><a href="http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/07/08/fame-michael-gove-cabinet/"><span><span><span>YouGov study</span></span></span></a><span>&nbsp;in July&nbsp;2014 which showed that that only 36% of UK adults could identify Iain Duncan Smith as work and pensions secretary while only 28% recognised Jeremy Hunt as secretary of state for health – despite the fact that the NHS was and still is one of the key issues that the public most cares about. </span><a href="https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3188/Perceptions-are-not-reality-the-top-10-we-get-wrong.aspx" target="_blank"><span><span><span>And a separate Ipsos Mori poll in 2013</span></span></span></a><span>&nbsp;highlighted the scale of public misperceptions on some of the most important issues of the day: the proportion of Muslims in England and Wales was perceived to be 24%, in reality it is 5%; the proportion of immigrants was estimated at 31%, in reality it is 13%; and more people think Job Seekers Allowance and Foreign Aid tops the list of government expenditure when in fact it is pensions, education and the NHS -&nbsp; we spend 15 times more on pensions than JSA (£4.9bn vs £74.2bn).</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>As Dr Sachs points out, “a poorly informed public is much more easily swayed by propaganda and much less able to resist the dark manoeuvres of special interest groups that pull the strings in Washington.” &nbsp;As in Washington, so in London.</span></p><p><span> </span><span><strong>What can be done?</strong> </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>In the face of misinformation by print and broadcasting media on the one hand and information overload on the other, there is an urgent need to rescue key facts and data on the most pressing <span>&nbsp;</span>challenges of our time. This is not about curating information but about building a set of <em>basic guides</em> on issues from climate change to inequality that have been written, peer reviewed and fact checked by subject matter experts. </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>The guides&nbsp;would not pretend to be the last word on a given subject nor be a substitute for related news and in-depth articles. Their sole purpose would be to present a simple, global overview of a given subject in no more than 4 to 7 pages. That might seem far too short given the complexity of issues such as climate change <span>&nbsp;</span>and the heated disagreements <span>&nbsp;</span>to which they give rise; but we are here trying to address an absence of basic factual knowledge by a sizeable section of the population and we are trying to do it for several subjects at once. There is therefore no point in writing twenty page tracts of dense factual analysis which will never be read.</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>The greater challenge will be to keep these ever before the public eye in the face of<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>the torrent of ephemeral 24 hour news that ultimately serves more to distract than inform. Yet the<strong> </strong><span>&nbsp;</span>high trust assigned to Wikipedia suggests there is real public hunger for trusted, balanced information.<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Beyond that the guides are trying to impart a sense of civic involvement that encourages active reflection and a response – that what you do or don’t do, as voter, citizen or member of your community will count towards the sum total of opinions and actions that shape our society and take us in one direction or another. </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>As a set of next steps, I sketch out how this might work.</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><em><span><span>1.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span></em><em><span>Use Wikipedia as a model </span></em></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>The guides would be modelled on Wikipedia with several subject matter experts working on a single document but importantly they would be backed up by a group of non-experts – members of the public and community activists who are themselves social hubs at the centre of their communities and are drawn from all parts of the UK. Their role is to act as copy editor and challenge experts where their language leads to lengthy and turgid analysis instead of clear cut simple English. </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Where it differs from the Wikipedia model is that such a co-operative enterprise could not be completely open to anyone. It will need some sort of moderation and co-ordination, if only to avoid the abuses that Wikipedia has been subject to with occasional instances of contributors motivated by a hidden political agenda who deliberately set out to misinform<span>&nbsp; </span>readers.</span></p><p><span> </span><em><span>2. Make the guides short</span></em></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>The guides would be no more than 4-7 pages long and divided into three broad sections:</span></p><p><span><strong> </strong></span><span><span><em>W</em></span></span><em>hat?&nbsp;(descriptive):&nbsp;</em>describes the issue or challenge, its various dimensions together with its impact.</p><p><span> </span></p><ul><li><p><em><span>Why</span><span>?(analytical):</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span><span>Why is this happening? What are the drivers and conditions to which this gives rise?<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p></li></ul><p><span> </span><em><span>How</span></em><em><span>? (creative):</span></em><span>&nbsp;</span><span>What are the current policy responses by the government? What are the alternative policy responses? What do ordinary people think and how can we engage voters and ordinary citizens to co-produce social or political innovations, in other words to harness the wisdom of crowds?</span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><em><span><span>3.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span></em><em><span>Publish <span>&nbsp;</span>under a ‘new commons of information’ </span></em></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>Let’s call it the New Commons Publishing company, a not-for-profit </span><span><span>&nbsp;</span>community interest company with a diverse ownership that includes charities, campaign groups,&nbsp; individuals, subject matter experts, social enterprises and local community groups, but chiefly local </span><a href="http://assembliesfordemocracy.org/"><span><span><span>Assemblies for Democracy</span></span></span></a><span>.</span><span>It would be largely volunteer run and its sole purpose would be to publish the guides in an accessible format including PDF and slideshows using Slideshare and YouTube, allowing the content to be embedded in any blog or website. </span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span><span>Importantly, final editorial decisions would be made by community activists prior to publishing, not professional publishers or subject matter experts – for reasons touched on above. This is not just about reflecting &nbsp;the democratic values of Assemblies for Democracy:&nbsp;community activists are actually those most closely connected to their communities and therefore most likely to understand whether and how such information will be <span>&nbsp;</span>understood and used.</span></span></p><p><span> </span></p><p><em><span><span>4.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></span></span></em><em><span>Make it interactive and crowdsource solutions</span></em></p><p><span> </span></p><p><span>While it starts with existing policy responses by the present government, it should open up discussion by including a comment forum and links to a dedicated e-democracy platform such as&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.loomio.org/"><span><span><span>Loomio</span></span></span></a><span>&nbsp;&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://dcentproject.eu/"><span><span><span>D-Cent</span></span></span></a><span>. It would also include links to more detailed subject matter for those who wanted a more in-depth grasp of an issue.</span></p><p><span>&nbsp;</span><br /><span>Notes: </span></p><hr size="1" /> <div><div id="edn1"><span> </span><p><a name="_edn1" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_ednref1"><span><span><span><span>[i]</span></span></span></span></a><span> </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/07/gchq-court-surveillance-ruling-complicit-press-tell-the-truth"><span><span>Guardian: A court managed what the complicit UK press couldn't: force GCHQ to tell the truth</span></span></a><span> 7-feb 2015</span></p><span> </span></div><span> </span><div id="edn2"><span> </span><p><a name="_edn2" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_ednref2"><span><span><span><span>[ii]</span></span></span></span></a><span> </span><a href="http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/resources/QualityIndependenceofBritishJournalism.pdf"><span><span>Cardiff School of Journalism: The Quality and Independence of British Journalism (published 2006</span></span></a><span>)</span></p><span> </span></div><span> </span><div id="edn3"><span> </span><p><a name="_edn3" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_ednref3"><span><span><span><span>[iii]</span></span></span></span></a><span> </span><a href="http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/resources/QualityIndependenceofBritishJournalism.pdf"><span><span>Cardiff School of Journalism: The Quality and Independence of British Journalism (published 2006</span></span></a><span>) (page 21)</span></p><span> </span></div><span> </span><div id="edn4"><span> </span><p><a name="_edn4" href="https://opendemocracy.net/#_ednref4"><span><span><span><span>[iv]</span></span></span></span></a><span> </span><a href="http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/resources/QualityIndependenceofBritishJournalism.pdf"><span><span>Cardiff School of Journalism: The Quality and Independence of British Journalism (published 2006</span></span></a><span>)</span></p><span> </span></div><span> </span></div><p><span> </span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention"><img src="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Great Charter Convention (1).jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a> </p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention">The Great Charter Convention</a> – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it.</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="/ourkingdom/paul-feldman/reimagining-democracy-peoples%27-assemblies">Re-imagining democracy - peoples&#039; assemblies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/gavin-barker/holding-mps-to-account-truro-experiment">Holding MPs to account: a Truro experiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/gavin-barker/localism-and-web-new-era-for-englands-democracy">Localism and the web: a new era for England&#039;s democracy?</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Great Charter Convention Building it: campaigns and movements Gavin Barker Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:07:52 +0000 Gavin Barker 95224 at https://opendemocracy.net Why is Corbyn doing better on social media? https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/alan-finlayson/why-is-corbyn-doing-better-on-social-media <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Corbyn's natural, unpolished and conversational comfort puts him well ahead of the other candidates in terms of engaging social media, if not the electorate at large. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/ecL1by3aMfL-gzZqMRXSYFa2DY5KvcrAfdGSCT1YLVM/mtime:1439903055/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/corbyn655.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/-H0eZF_CgN9MfaoS1oslO6GlVyd6dnD2rGJe8rDubWE/mtime:1439903060/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/corbyn655.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'>Flickr/lewishamdreamer. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">When Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents describe the audiences for his unexpectedly large public meetings as mad, dangerous or deluded they are part of a long tradition. Plato founded an entire political philosophy on hostility to noisy democratic audiences ‘shouting or hammering their disapproval and approval – grossly exaggerated, in either case – of the things that are said and done’. There has always been conflict between those who think politics is a public, collective, even celebratory activity and those who think it a matter for experts who need to be kept safe from noisy and stupid crowds (philosophers by an olive grove, economists in offices at the Bundesbank, consultants on the sofa of 10 Downing Street). </p> <p class="Body">That Corbyn's primary medium is the simple speech might confirm the view that&nbsp; he is a relic of a dead and mostly mythologized labour movement. Yet there are good reasons for thinking quite the opposite. Old fashioned public rhetoric has been given a new lease of life by the internet. It is estimated that Mhairi Black’s maiden speech to the Commons has been viewed by millions; millions more have watched Emma Watson speak to the UN about feminism, Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney and Steve Jobs’ Commencement address. TeD talks are one of the most successful of online video brands. Digital culture is also an oral culture. </p> <p class="Body">Yet the videos with which young and seemingly skilled politicians announced their candidacy for Labour leader were wildly inept. The poor sound recording of Chuka Umunna’s declaration from a Swindon High Street was the most interesting thing about a short film so soporific even its star rapidly lost interest in his own career. Andy Burnham appeared to record his announcement while locked overnight in the basement of a reference library. Its leaden editing, over-rehearsed diction and emphatic gestures were more Partridge-esque than Prime Ministerial. Nothing suggested familiarity with the kind of casual, rapid and intimate style that has made celebrities of ‘You Tubers’ with millions of subscribers. </p> <p class="Body">Burnham has since made a more professional but no less ill-conceived film. A bland biopic, the most revealing thing about it is that it so heavily plagiarizes Tony Blair's 1997 Party Election Broadcast made by documentary film maker Molly Dineen. Like its predecessor, Burnham’s film is not about policy but about the candidate at home, at work, with the kids, drinking tea, the man behind the media scrum with ‘footie’ skills to show off. Where the original aimed for a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ feel, Burnham’s resembles the introduction of a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent: the family are so proud, they can’t believe how far he’s come and they really, really, hope you will vote for him. </p> <p class="Body">Liz Kendall, in her video epistle, went in the opposite direction, eschewing all hints of any sort of personal life. In a gripping short, set in a bare office lacking evidence of human habitation, she hand writes a letter; then she types it onto her Mac; she rewrites it in hand. Liz stands up – pensive. Liz stares out the window – thoughtful. There is a moment of tension until – phew - she remembers the NHS and Sure Start. It’s reminiscent of the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie "You’ve Got Mail" which came out when the internet, email and Labour were still officially ‘New’. Like much of recent Labour media strategy it seems to have been devised by people who have not used media since 1998 when they first got a job as a SPAD. </p> <p class="Body">Online culture cultivates a feeling of immediacy and intimacy. Like blooper reels and directors’ commentaries on a DVD it takes us 'backstage' where the slips, trips and reshoots are evidence of both humanity and hard-working professionalism. On Twitter you might communicate directly with a celebrity, a politician or customer service. The changing economy of music and publishing has put bands and authors on the road and on tour. We might stream the album for free but we'll pay quite a bit to see it performed live and for the feeling of shared, collective experience that the on-demand world has otherwise destroyed. </p> <p class="Body">And this is what people get from Corbyn's rallies. The queues, the spontaneous speeches to the crowds who could not get in, the selfies all give the feeling of an event – of something happening, right now and right here. Technocrats will scoff &nbsp;but this a very contemporary experience of empowerment - of taking part in what is happening rather than watching it passively, having it explained to us while we are told to live with ‘change’ rather than be part of it. It’s a feeling, a desire, absolutely consonant with the devolved, independent and digital ‘big society’ politicians pretend to want. </p> <p class="Body">And Corbyn’s rhetorical style fits with it remarkably well. He is self-deprecating. He doesn’t play the rock star but performs the humble amateur outsider. He doesn’t spell out all the answers. He doesn’t say that the government knows best. He is certainly not a great orator but his stumbles and plain style lend credence to his almost exclusively moral arguments. The likelihood that he can adapt this style to something other voters will respond to is, it seems to me, small. But though out of step with Westminster he is certainly in tune with the national political culture which elevates those who break away from the arcane verbal codes of Westminster – Farage, Sturgeon, Johnson. </p> <p class="Body">In contrast Burnham, Cooper and Kendall seem like people who have never had to do politics before. They played a simulation at university and then got their positions by fitting into a bureaucracy and doing what was asked. They got safe seats and rode into Parliament on the back of a situation not of their making. They had ready-made local parties and media advisors who taught them not to say things and how to avoid answers that might later be held against them. They can't speak extemporaneously and have limited experience of addressing a large audience of people who aren't hand picked or there to agree with them, let alone of hostile or unpredictable audiences. It’s telling that Burnham includes in his biopic the first time it happened to him. These are people who know politics as deals and arrangements and lobbying much more than they know it as identifying social groups, interests and identities to which one might give a combined and collective expression. They and their supporters seem to attribute Blair’s victory to his individual style and opposition to socialism. Which is to say, they don’t really understand why New Labour came to power, let alone how it lost it. In a sense they know less about recent British politics than every single other person in Britain. </p> <p class="Body">The tragedy of <em>Coriolanus</em> is precipitated in the first instance by Martius’ refusal to perform the role demanded of him by popular political tradition. He wants to be spared from donning the ceremonial ‘gown of humility’ and delivering a ritual speech before the plebs. Sicinius, a tribune, insists: ‘Sir, the people/Must have their voices; neither will they bate/One jot of ceremony’ but Coriolanus calls it ‘a part/That I shall blush in acting’. He complains ‘…I cannot bring/My tongue to such a pace’. When forced to perform he cannot refrain from dropping character and insulting his audience. Corbyn's rivals might be well advised to go online and find out what happens next. </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/daniel-rattigan/labour%27s-pioneers-settlers-and-prospectors-point-to-kendall-for-progress">Labour&#039;s pioneers, settlers and prospectors point to Kendall for progress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/ourkingdom/35-economists-back-corbyn%27s-policies-as-sensible">35 economists back Corbyn&#039;s policies as sensible</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Alan Finlayson Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:01:55 +0000 Alan Finlayson 95329 at https://opendemocracy.net When did inconvenience kill compassion? Thoughts on Calais https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/shinealight/lucy-kralj/when-did-inconvenience-kill-compassion-thoughts-on-calais <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">If we replace “migrant” with “desperate and terrified person” do we see something different?&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A nurse and psychotherapist writes.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/qkhCyVE_fNA5IZnKS0CxVdzrWe2YYQ56vsGTkoQoWCA/mtime:1439928811/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOLIDAY%20CHAOS%20CALAIS_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/4vLEDwzHsEmvzecGdN5W1fF6QnPnTolFb0s7gV3IH6g/mtime:1439928122/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOLIDAY%20CHAOS%20CALAIS_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>I am lucky. As I write, my nine month old daughter sleeps peacefully within my sight. I glance over at her and try not to disturb her by tapping too loudly on the keyboard of my Macbook Air. I sip a strong coffee, brewed just the way I like it, because, yes, looking after a baby can be a bit tiring whilst working too.</p><p>I think of my good fortune and I imagine my daughter’s future. My beautiful mixed race daughter. I love and care for her with her biological (gay) father and his husband. We are a different-shaped and loving family. I dwell on the current political climate in Britain and I hope beyond hope that freedoms and rights, human rights, that I had once believed were enshrined into the values of this country are not eroded to such an extent that one day she and I are huddled, hungry, cold and afraid, under tarpaulin sheeting in a “jungle camp”.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>I have been lucky. I was privileged to work for many years alongside the late <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/aug/24/helen-bamber">Helen Bamber</a>. I imagine her reaction to today’s headlines. I wish I could ask her about the headlines of c.1938. “A Swarm” (<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/02/concerns-raised-plan-strip-failed-asylum-seeker-families-benefits">Cameron, 2015</a>) of people escaping terror, fleeing for their lives and hoping for safety for themselves and their loved ones ‘pouring into this country’ (Daily Mail 1938).</p><p>Yes. I am lucky. And scared — scared of where we are going as a society when&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/02/concerns-raised-plan-strip-failed-asylum-seeker-families-benefits"><em>yet more</em>&nbsp;draconian measures</a> are announced by the Home Secretary in a bid to convince the Prime Minister’s perceived “swarm of people” that Britain is not a “soft touch”. Removing benefits from families with children whose asylum claim has been refused … evicting these same people onto the streets and criminal convictions for landlords who fail (refuse on moral or religious grounds?) to do so.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/UwwSx1RQWSoteyAX5XA_fxse_tuKbLLtlfPRNqv7IfA/mtime:1439926876/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/cameron%20swarm%20july%202015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/hvg2Pxg7wxZq7TVaCt5W9k69yW71gLnv3iwwYr9hsP8/mtime:1439925858/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/cameron%20swarm%20july%202015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>I glance again at my sleeping daughter and take another sip of coffee. I think about the “swarms” of migrant women and babies. Glugging whatever liquid they can find, clean or otherwise. Scavenging for food. My daughter and I enjoyed lunch, carefully made for her young and still toothless palate. I think of infants who have never felt the softness of a bed, whose breast runs dry due to maternal malnutrition or psychological distress, infants who have to eat what comes their way, who arrive in the UK listless, malnourished or with severe dental decay, infants born in ‘the Jungle camp’ and other such hostile places — and infants who die en route and receive no burial. I think of the desperation of their mothers to leave their homes with their young children in tow and journey across perilous terrains.</p><p>I know these women, these men, and these children.&nbsp;<em>These women and men and children</em>. Each one a person. Each constituent of the ‘swarm of migrants’ a&nbsp;<em>person</em>&nbsp;with his/her own, unique, troubled story to tell, if they were only allowed, if they only had the words to speak and the lack of fear to voice those words. </p><p>I am a nurse and psychotherapist working with victims of human rights’ violation. Members of the “swarm” sit in my consulting room every week. I am privileged to be trusted —&nbsp;just a little —&nbsp;to hear thoughts, feelings and fears — if they are able to speak. Some are too fearful, in too much psychological and spiritual pain, to utter a word. Each person a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister. Each person far from whatever home was so bad that fleeing was the least worst option.&nbsp;</p><p><span>I am lucky. I feel safe in my home. I do not have a husband who will attack me, rape me, beat me to within an inch of my life on his evening return. I was not forced, aged twelve, to marry a man three times my age. My daughter and I went to church this morning. We could have gone to a mosque, a temple, a synagogue or none, or all, of the above. We could alternate week by week, safe in the knowledge that nobody will kill us for doing so.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>I style my hair as I please, I wear the clothes that I want to wear. I am educated and I take it for granted that my daughter, too, will attend school until she is sixteen, or longer if she wants to. Nobody is going to circumcise her or attack me for not doing this to her. Nobody will threaten or abuse or kill me, or my family, because I have a child outside of wedlock.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>My child’s two gay fathers are safe and enjoying lunch in a restaurant with another gay friend as I write. They do not have to gather in secret and I do not have to lie about our family makeup. I do not take shelter from falling bombs and I do not fear that the police who patrol the streets will randomly draw their gun on my daughter and I as we shop for vegetables.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>These are basic freedoms. I consider them my rights.</span></p><p>In my consulting room each week sit victims of precisely these abuses — random and targeted acts of such atrocity that I have glimpsed into the darkest corners of human potential. The consequent pain lasts a lifetime even if reconstruction of life and living is possible. And we read about the inconveniences that these “swarms of migrants” are causing European holiday-makers this summer and the forecast by the Prime Minister that this inconvenience is likely to continue throughout August. Is it a question of semantics? If we replace “migrant” with “desperate and terrified person” do we see something different? Someone different?&nbsp;</p><p>When the Eurostar is next disrupted, consider what it would take for you to hide, with our children, in shipping containers, lorries, underneath trains. The prospect of £37.50 a week? If so, I suggest that you make an appointment with one of my colleagues. I am yet to meet a “migrant” lured to the UK by this princely sum. And as the Home Secretary announces plans to withdraw even this paltry amount from parents with children, whose asylum applications have been refused, I dread the conversations that I will be having. Dispossessed parents, torn between signing up to voluntarily return with their children to territories from which they have fled, or remaining destitute with their children in the UK, hungry and cold. What life is this? Where can we find hope in such choices?</p><p>Ministers are keen to convince migrants that this country is not a land of milk and honey. I encounter the reality of this land of milk and honey. Detention centres, court rooms, grinding poverty, daily fear, a hostile climate of disbelief. And the powerful horror of the past from which these people have fled but can never truly escape. I have, too many times, sat with victims of rape, torture, trafficking and such brutality that I wonder whether man’s inhumanity to man can fall still lower.&nbsp;</p><p>These very women and men are the failed asylum seekers the Home Secretary today wishes to penalise further.&nbsp;</p><p>I have sat with these women and men as they wonder aloud, and in earnest, whether it is better, morally speaking, to kill their own children, or risk the violence and horror that the family will encounter on their return. I have sat with parents who believe that the only hope for their children is for the parents to commit suicide in the UK as they do not believe that this country would deport a helpless child to a war zone.</p><p>Yes. These are the “failed asylum seekers”– families with young children, vulnerable and broken men and women, who the Home Secretary wishes to use as pawns in a game to prove that Britain is not a “soft touch”. These are the families who will suffer. These are the eyes that will stare at us from advertisements on the tube, begging for money as ring worm consumes their flesh and kwashiorkor swells their bellies. But they will be on the streets of the UK and not in a fly infested refugee camp in foreign climbs. We will learn to step over them, too, as mere inconveniences — as we do our indigenous homeless population, as we regard them in the Jungle camp of Calais.</p><p>These are the human beings in such pain that they were unable to speak their truth, too ashamed to reveal the full extent of their horror. Too disgusted with themselves in their victimhood to disclose to a stranger the torture of the past that lives on so potently inside. Late disclosure. Claim refused. Inconsistent account. Claim refused. Incredible account (we don’t like to believe that humankind can be so brutal). Claim refused.&nbsp;</p><p>These are the very people who sit in my office and who, I hope, will continue to do so. I have already fed and clothed more people than I can count. I am supposed to be providing therapy — but to what end when the person cannot eat, has not washed for weeks and faces deportation to the hell from which they had escaped? How can one work to resolve the past when the future threatens its repetition?<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>My question is this: When did inconvenience kill compassion? It is understandable that fear can destroy love. We fear refugees, the dispossessed. They represent all that we dread – and the nearer they get the more we have to confront the possibility that a similar fate could befall us. So we cannot love them because to do so would be to love the dispossessed in us.&nbsp;</p><p>But recent headlines carry a different tone. We are not afraid. We are bored. Frustrated by delays to our Eurostar journeys. Resentful that the French countryside is marred by the ungainly sight of tarpaulin. We tell ourselves stories about the inhabitants. We listen to the brave few who speak to journalists and we hear their resilience and determination. We fail to see and hear the victim inside who is so desperate that it is worth risking life and limb for a final stretch of a journey that closely resembles hell. We just want to arrive at our holiday destination – if only these blasted migrants please stop trying to save their lives.</p><p>So, yes. I am lucky. So, to a certain extent, are these few people whose images we see in Calais. These few who have survived. They have survived journeys so perilous that many of their compatriots have perished along the way. They had the financial wherewithal to secure the journey in the first place, passed from one unscrupulous agent to another. They have survived rape, beatings, squalid and terrifying living conditions as they have crossed mountain, desert, borders and seas. Yes, they are the “lucky” few. Few.&nbsp;</p><p>These “swarms” are the few who survive. I know this. I have worked in refugee camps in northern Uganda. People — still people — displaced by war. They had nothing. They had not even the few Ugandan shillings necessary to travel to the nearest hospital a few kilometres away to give birth, tend to wounds or receive treatment for fatal illnesses. Those people live, such as they are able, and die, in the camps. Crossing a border requires money. Crossing many borders requires a lot of money. When we consider the global refugee burden we need to look closer to the sources of conflict. There we will find the many. 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Go Home. 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The Home Office let her stay in the UK because she has a British daughter. She is a single mother. She works as much as she can on a zero hours contract with a very low income. But because the Home Office imposed a “no recourse to public funds” condition on her visa, she cannot claim government support or benefits to help her.</span></p> <p>She pays someone she knows to let her live in a room. She and her daughter live in this room together. There is damp and mould on the walls. Her daughter sleeps, eats, plays and does her homework in the same room. They have tried to move elsewhere but no-one wants to rent a room to them.</p> <p>Their story is not unusual. And it seems set to become even more common.</p> <p>The UK government <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/03/illegal-immigrants-face-eviction-without-court-order-under-plans-to-discourage-migrants">plans</a> to remove the right to rent from migrants who do not have the right to reside in the UK. Landlords will have the right to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33754595">evict</a> migrants if their right to reside runs out during their tenancy. There are lots of problems with this.</p> <h2>Panic!</h2> <p>It seems to be a result of panic. The government introduced a pilot programme in the West Midlands to see how making landlords carry out immigration checks would work in practice. The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/03/british-citizens-without-passports-being-turned-away-by-landlords">official evaluation report</a> has not yet been produced. So the government has gone to the trouble of gathering evidence for this policy, but then not waited to consider the results before deciding to go ahead with the policy.</p> <p>Why have they done this? Immigration is in the headlines. Recently, we have heard about “<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11772297/Calais-crisis-Deport-more-migrants-to-stop-swarm-crossing-Mediterranean-says-David-Cameron.html">swarms</a>” of migrants in Calais trying to come to the UK. We have also heard about “<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11792798/Millions-of-African-migrants-threaten-standard-of-living-Philip-Hammond-says.html">marauding</a>” migrants threatening our standard of living. Not to mention the British tourists whose holidays have been disturbed by the migrants, whether on the <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/calais-crisis-travel-nightmare-brits-6127625">motorway</a> in the UK or on the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3099736/Holidaymakers-misery-boat-people-Syria-Afghanistan-seeking-asylum-set-migrant-camp-turn-popular-Greek-island-Kos-disgusting-hellhole.html">beach</a> in Europe.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>And of course it’s the summer holiday, ministers and officials aren’t at their desks. How to stop the negative publicity?</p> <p>Announce a new policy! </p> <p>But the government’s plan is not a very good response to the problems in Calais. Many of the migrants there are from countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia. These are all very dangerous countries.</p> <p>If they arrive in the UK, it is likely that they will have good claims for asylum. Many of them will obtain refugee status. So they will have the right to reside and to rent private property. So to the extent that the government’s plan is aimed at the migrants in Calais, in many cases it will have no effect on them at all.</p> <p>The government may say that it will not consider their asylum claims and will send them back to other EU countries for this. But first, an EU country will have to take responsibility for them. Often there is no evidence of the countries through which they have travelled. In the absence of this, it is very unlikely that any other EU country will take responsibility for them.</p> <p>If they do, there will often be a long legal challenge against this. The migrants will have to live somewhere during this process. It will often take too long to justify keeping them in a detention centre.</p> <p>The legal challenge may be successful. The courts have already ruled that removals to <a href="http://www.ecre.org/media/news/press-releases/29-the-european-court-of-human-rights-condemns-belgium-and-greece.html">Greece</a> are unlawful. There are numerous challenges to removals to other countries such as <a href="http://ecre.org/component/content/article/70-weekly-bulletin-articles/884-ecthr-rules-against-return-of-asylum-seeking-family-to-italy-without-reception-guarantees.html">Italy</a>, <a href="http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/en/content/ecthr-judgment-mohammed-v-austria-no-228312-articles-3-and-13-echr">Hungary</a>, Bulgaria and <a href="http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/244.html&amp;query=duncan+and+lewis&amp;method=boolean">France</a>.</p> <p>Regardless of any of this, if the government is to be able to remove migrants to other EU countries, the UK will have to be in the EU. If it leaves, which is not unlikely, in principle it will have to consider the asylum claims of all the migrants that arrive.</p> <h2>Immigration law is complicated</h2> <p>Is the government’s plan workable? Probably not. </p> <p>Lawyers often say immigration status is complicated. For example, a migrant’s ID card may show that their visa expiry date is in the past. But if they submitted an application to the Home Office before that and there is no final decision on the application, they will still have the right to reside in the UK. This could go on for years while the Home Office and the courts consider their case.</p> <p>Many migrants in this situation already have problems finding work. Employers often think it is too much trouble for them. It is not hard to see that landlords and estate agents may take the same approach.</p> <p>The Home Office say that they will tell landlords if the migrant has the right to reside. With the greatest of respect, it is hard to imagine them regularly getting this right. After all, through <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/18/labour-answers-40000-go-home-texts-immigrants">Capita</a>, they have repeatedly contacted British citizens to tell them that they have no right to reside in the UK and should leave.</p> <h2>Promoting racism</h2> <p>The government’s plan looks likely to encourage racial discrimination.</p> <p>Given how complicated immigration law is, landlords will often be worried about making a mistake and then being fined or imprisoned. </p> <p>Many will think: better to err on the safe side, and refuse anyone with unclear immigration status or indeed anyone from abroad at all.</p> <p>Apparently, in the West Midlands pilot, even <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/03/british-citizens-without-passports-being-turned-away-by-landlords">British citizens</a> without passports were refused tenancies. Some of those people may find accommodation elsewhere. But it will often be worse accommodation provided by unscrupulous landlords.</p> <p>I know an Indian man who came to Britain in the 1960s. Back then, he used to charge other Asian migrants to sleep in the corridors of his property. </p> <p>He told me he had to do this. British people often refused to let Asians stay in their properties. Sometimes they put up signs saying “<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/15/theresa-may-immigration-bill-racist-landlords">no Blacks, no dogs, no Irish</a>”. &nbsp;Asian people came to him as they needed somewhere to sleep. </p> <p>You might not accept his self-justification. But like yesterday’s overt racism, today’s more subtle racism will push migrants to sub-standard accommodation.</p> <h2>Increase in public spending</h2> <p>If a landlord does evict a migrant from their property, the government will often simply have to accommodate them elsewhere. It seems that the government plans to increase public spending on housing for migrants at a time when they are apparently trying to cut public spending as much as possible. This is surprising, to put it mildly.</p> <p>They may say that they will detain and remove migrants without permission to be here who are evicted. But many will claim asylum. The government has recently <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/breaking-news-dft-in-its-entirety-finally-suspended">suspended</a> its entire scheme for detaining asylum seekers because of major problems with that system. So the government will have to give accommodation to many of these migrants.</p> <h2>Letting migrants disappear</h2> <p>Some evicted migrants will not come to the government’s attention. Indeed, the likelihood of this happening shows a glaring problem with the government’s plan. They will identify a migrant without the right to reside only to then leave them to disappear, rather than removing them from the UK. As <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11780148/Our-Government-seems-unable-to-deport-illegal-immigrants-even-if-it-knows-where-they-are.html">some</a> have already said, it is difficult to see how this can be a part of a coherent policy of immigration control.</p> <p>In some ways, this is the situation we already have in the UK – particularly for non-white migrants. We apparently let them come so that we can use them, but would rather pretend they were not there.</p> <p>I know a British woman who used to work in the café of a famous London theatre. She said all the staff in the café were white Europeans. All the workers in the kitchen were black Africans. There were no opportunities for the Africans to work in the café. </p> <p>Clearly the people running the café wanted cheap labour in the kitchen. But they guessed their (almost all white) customers did not want to see black faces. They would rather they would just disappear.</p> <h2>From immigration control to migrant exploitation&nbsp;</h2> <p>The government’s plan seems to have the intention or effect of continuing this move from immigration control to migrant exploitation. </p> <p>The evicted migrants will often slip away to other, often worse, accommodation. They will continue in their jobs, often paid less than the minimum wage and treated badly by their employers. The government plans to start <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11619065/Illegal-migrant-workers-will-have-wages-seized-vows-David-Cameron.html">seizing</a> their money soon as the proceeds of crime.</p> <p>This will all have a disturbing result. Rightly, people often criticise the use of the terms “illegal immigrants” or even “illegals”. This is based on principle. If you commit a crime, you commit an illegal act. You yourself are not illegal. You are punished for your act. You are not punished for your self.</p> <p>Yet the cumulative effect of these government policies, that I have called “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">immigration interference</a>”, is precisely that it is the very self of the migrant that is punished.</p> <p>Migrants in this situation will be deprived of rights at home, at work, at the bank, at the hospital, at college. They will see all of society against them. They will be surrounded by “<a href="https://vimeo.com/126315982">everyday borders</a>”.</p> <p>They will be punished at every waking moment – with every breath. Their punishment will be slow and enduring. They will watch the damp spread across their room. They will develop health problems as a result. They will not be able to obtain medical help. They will not have enough energy to work.</p> <p>With heavy cuts to legal aid, they will not even be able to find a lawyer to help them. They will not go to the police for fear of removal. They will be unable to challenge ill-treatment.</p> <p>They will to a great extent be outside the law. They will indeed be “illegals”. They will themselves be illegal. So we will soon have the dystopian situation that our language has long implied.</p> <p>Some people may say this is simply the result of a successful policy. That this will deter other migrants from staying in the UK without permission.</p> <p>However, the point is precisely that this does not seem part of a system of immigration control, but migrant exploitation. The aim, it seems, is not to remove from the UK migrants without permission to be here.</p> <p>Instead, the government seems happy to leave large numbers of such people in the UK to do often crucial jobs – perhaps as builders, or nannies or cleaners.</p> <p>The government knows that they will keep coming due to their economic circumstances and that they will be able to do little or nothing to challenge their ill treatment.</p> <p>This is exploitation.</p> <h2>Tenants, not landlords, are the target&nbsp;</h2> <p>The government may point out that they plan to punish landlords who rent property to migrants without immigration permission to be here. That they will do this precisely to stop exploitation.</p> <p>Of course, we will have to wait and see. But similar powers already exist to punish employers. The government has recently <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/11793564/Immigration-officers-to-mount-wave-of-raids-against-rogue-employers.html">announced</a> that it will use these powers later this year.</p> <p>But there seems little reason to believe them now when they have used these powers so rarely in the past. And by giving notice now, they are letting employers fire people before any government checks begin. Once the checks are over, they can go back to hiring whoever they like.</p> <p>So just as these powers are often used against employees, not employers, it seems likely that the new powers will be used against tenants, not landlords. Against the weak, not the strong. This is normally called bullying.</p> <h2>To conclude…&nbsp;</h2> <p>So across the board, from migrants without permission to be here, to migrants with permission and even to some British citizens, it seems likely that the government’s plan will make it harder for people to have a place to call home. </p> <p>What will be the result? One day when she grows up, Susan’s daughter&nbsp;may tell us all.</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/usman-sheikh/britain-has-become-open-prison-to-migrants">Britain has become an open prison to migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/usman-sheikh/deportation-increasingly-foreign-britain-at-war-with-itself">Deportation: an increasingly &#039;foreign&#039; Britain at war with itself</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/john-grayson/revealed-uk-puts-electronic-tags-and-curfews-on-asylum-seekers">Barbara, tagged and monitored like a criminal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/john-grayson/rats-asbestos-toddlers-when-security-company-g4s-is-asylum-seeker-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shinealight/lucy-kralj/when-did-inconvenience-kill-compassion-thoughts-on-calais">When did inconvenience kill compassion? Thoughts on Calais</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/john-grayson/meet-uk%E2%80%99s-latest-weapon-against-organised-crime-and-asylum-seekers">Meet the UK’s latest weapon against organised crime and asylum seekers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-section-url-ga"> <div class="field-label">Google analytics section url:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> shinealight </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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Usman Sheikh Tue, 18 Aug 2015 23:00:05 +0000 Usman Sheikh 95338 at https://opendemocracy.net 35 economists back Corbyn's policies as sensible https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ourkingdom/35-economists-back-corbyn%27s-policies-as-sensible <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Far from being 'mad', plenty of economists welcome Corbyn's proposals as opening up fruitful new areas for public discussion on the economy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/KN_r_3puQvJIoWI79s7swsZIqO8MXMhhUJAVNrIC69Y/mtime:1439891873/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/corbyn676.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/f2rcg56Vtu55q4MkmzypaTDFKdBIlRpVfLEoov-7WNQ/mtime:1439891865/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/corbyn676.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/CoventryCiaran. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The recent statement from Jeremy Corbyn that "austerity is a policy choice not economic necessity" provides a welcome return to serious discussion in the Labour leadership debate. Therefore, the assertions that Corbyn is a “danger” who is causing harm to the Labour Party and the public in general is quite surprising and inappropriate&nbsp; (for example, see&nbsp;<em>FT View</em>&nbsp;15 August, that Mr Corbyn's candidacy brings "potential harm to...British public life").<br /> <br /> Many of Corbyn's policies are advocated by prominent economists and commentators. An example is his proposal to fund public investment by the sale of bonds to the Bank of England. Yet, until now, politicians competing to hold the centre ground have largely ignored such policies or cast them as unthinkable.<br /> <br /> Corbyn's proposals should be welcomed even by his opponents for stimulating serious discussion of crucial issues such as the role of the public sector in investment, management of debt and money, and how to tackle inequality. It is to Corbyn's credit that he has broadened the policy discussion so that the shared assumptions behind the narrow range of policies advocated by both&nbsp; the Conservative government and the other Labour leadership candidates are now being debated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Signed by the following teachers and researchers in economics:</strong></p> <p>Victoria Chick, University College London</p> <p>Susan Himmelweit, Open University</p> <p>Malcolm Sawyer, University of Leeds</p> <p>Annina Kaltenbrunner, University of Leeds</p> <p>Gary Dymski, University of Leeds</p> <p>Ruth Pearson, University of Leeds</p> <p>Hugo Radice, University of Leeds</p> <p>Ann Pettifor, Prime Economics</p> <p>Jeremy Smith, Prime Economics</p> <p>Steve Keen, Kingston University</p> <p>Eva Karwowski, Kingston University</p> <p>Engelbert Stockhammer, Kingston University</p> <p>Alfredo Saad, SOAS</p> <p>Guy Standing SOAS</p> <p>John Weeks, SOAS</p> <p>Carlos Oya, SOAS</p> <p>George Irvin, SOAS</p> <p>Ioana Negru, SOAS</p> <p>Chris Cramer, SOAS</p> <p>Jo Michell, University of the West of England</p> <p>Susan Newman,&nbsp;University of the West of England</p> <p>Daniela Gabor,&nbsp;University of the West of England</p> <p>Andrew Mearman,&nbsp;University of the West of England</p> <p>Ozlem Onaran, University of Greenwich</p> <p>Jeff Powell, University of Greenwich</p> <p>Mehmet Ugur, University of Greenwich</p> <p>Giovanni Cozzi, University of Greenwich</p> <p>Maria Nikolaidi, University of Greenwich</p> <p>Simon Mohun, Queen Mary University</p> <p>Neil Lancastle, DeMontfort University</p> <p>James Meadway, City University</p> <p>John Grahl, Middlesex University</p> <p>Rhys Jenkins, University of East Anglia</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/daniel-rattigan/labour%27s-pioneers-settlers-and-prospectors-point-to-kendall-for-progress">Labour&#039;s pioneers, settlers and prospectors point to Kendall for progress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/keith-kahnharris/is-corbyn-too-pally-with-tyrants-and-other-pariahs">Is Corbyn too pally with tyrants and other pariahs?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/don-paskini/why-i%27m-backing-yvette-cooper">Why I&#039;m backing Yvette Cooper</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom OurKingdom Tue, 18 Aug 2015 09:55:51 +0000 OurKingdom 95319 at https://opendemocracy.net Equal rights for all: the limits of Magna Carta and the 1965 Race Relations Act https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/omar-khan/equal-rights-for-all-limits-of-magna-carta-and-1965-race-relations-act <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The commemoration of Magna Carta should not be a complacent celebration, but an opportunity to&nbsp;explore what more we need to do as a nation&nbsp;to secure equal rights for Black and minority ethnic people. </p> </div> </div> </div> <div><span><span><span>The various commemorations of the Magna Carta emphasise its importance in the Britain’s development as a liberal democratic society. The main idea is that the Magna Carta established key principles that we – and indeed other countries – continue to build on even as the various articles of the document have been superseded.</span></span></span></div><p> <span><span><span>That most of the Magna Carta’s articles have been superseded suggests a further point: that lofty principles require further elaboration to become a social reality, including in legislation, policy implementation, and indeed in terms of social attitudes. Runnymede recently </span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.runnymedetrust.org%2fnews%2f606%2f273%2fEqual-rights-for-all-The-Magna-Carta-the-first-Race-Relations-Act.html" target="_blank"><span><span><span>hosted an event</span></span></span></a><span><span> to jointly commemorate the 800</span></span><span>th</span><span><span> anniversary of the Magna Carta and the 50</span></span><span>th</span><span><span> anniversary of the Race Relations Act to remind us&nbsp;of the importance of liberal democratic ideals, but also the inability to deliver on those ideals for Black and minority ethnic people in Britain. We reflected on the historical importance and lessons of these commemorations, but further asked what more is needed to make equal rights a reality for Black and minority ethnic people – whether in terms of legislation, policy, or social change and activism.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span></span></span></span><span><span><span>The </span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.runnymedetrust.org%2f" target="_blank"><span><span><span>Runnymede Trust</span></span></span></a><span><span> was so named in 1968 to characterise the extension of rights and equality to BME people as a natural or perhaps inevitable development of the principles first sealed in Magna Carta. This naming is a challenge to those who read the Magna Carta in nativist terms as a document expressing&nbsp; the unique genius of the English people, and the first in a line of acts passed by enlightened white male legislators in the development of English (and latterly, British) liberal democracy and culture. So while at Runnymede we continue to assert the fundamental centrality of BME people within Britain’s national story, and seek to ensure they are equal participants in British democracy and society, our current focus should be on how we best implement these ideals so that racial inequalities are eliminated in Britain in the 21</span></span><span>st</span><span><span> century.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span></span></span></span><span><span><span>By jointly commemorating the Magna Carta and the 50</span></span><span>th</span><span><span> anniversary of the Race Relations Act, we remind ourselves that neither the Magna Carta nor indeed the Bill of Rights</span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fen.wikipedia.org%2fwiki%2fSomerset_v_Stewart" target="_blank"><span><span><span>, Somersett’s Case</span></span></span></a><span><span> (outlawing chattel slavery in England and Wales) or any other Act of Parliament was able to prevent egregious discrimination and inequality perpetrated on Black and minority ethnic people living in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, some legislators – most notably Enoch Powell – rather affirmed that the values of Magna Carta required people to be allowed the freedom to discriminate. Powell’s argument was that ancient English liberties were being threatened by culturally dissimilar foreigners who weren’t steeped in the tradition of Runnymede and Magna Carta, and if these liberties then resulted in discrimination against non-white people, well that was the price of liberty.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span></span></span></span><span><span><span>In this context it’s clear enough why Runnymede founders wished to reclaim the legacy of Magna Carta. But it’s equally obvious why they didn’t focus only or even mainly on historical or philosophical debates, and rather turned their attention to legislation. This was all the more pressing given the fundamental weaknesses in the 1965 Act, which continued to allow discrimination in the provision in goods and services and in housing. One of the most shocking aspects of the ‘no Black, no dogs, no Irish’ signs was not only their explicit racism, but that they remained legal in Britain despite the many Acts of Parliament over the years, including the 1965 Race Relations Act.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span>The subsequent passage of the 1968 and in particular the 1976 Race Relations Act fundamentally improved British legislation, including extending protection against discrimination across goods and services and housing, developing the concept of indirect discrimination, and establishing the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) as a body to monitor and enforce the legislation. This moves us from the first theme of the conference – legislation – to the second, namely policy or the implementation of legislation. One response to how we achieve equal rights in Britain is that we need clearer or additional legislation – a written Constitution perhaps, or legislative backing for affirmative action or other measures. A second response is to say that with the passage of the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act, we now do have adequate legislation to reflect the values implicit in liberal democracy , but that this legislation is being inadequately implemented, a problem that emerged immediately following the establishment and weakening of the CRE. As Runnymede argued in the case of the </span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.runnymedetrust.org%2fprojects-and-publications%2femployment-3%2fbudget-2015-impact-on-bme-families.html" target="_blank"><span><span><span>2015 summer budget</span></span></span></a><span><span>, policymakers today not only don’t adequately assess the impact of legislation on ethnic minorities, but they don’t positively support measures that might actually reduce racial inequalities. One reason appears to be their unfamiliarity with the ongoing evidence of racial inequalities, but another is lack of leadership, or of public or political pressure to do anything about that evidence.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span></span></span></span><span><span><span>This leads to the third and final theme, namely the role of activism or ‘pressure from below’ in realising liberal democratic principles, including equality. With the centenary of women’s suffrage on the horizon, we are reminded of the role of ordinary people and of public opinion and social pressure to deepen the quality of our democracy, and the demand for rights from below should be seen as a fundamental aspect of democratic progress in Britain, whether those demanding their rights were barons in Runnymede, Chartists, Suffragettes or anti-racist campaigners in the 1960s and 1970s.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span>Here it’s worth remembering the social context for the 1965 Act: the 1958 Notting Hill riots and the Black community’s response to physical violence and security, the 1964 racist election in Smethwick, and the visit of </span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.racecard.org.uk%2fequality%2ffollowing-in-the-footsteps-of-dr-martin-luther-king-jr%2f" target="_blank"><span><span><span>Martin Luther King Jr to London</span></span></span></a><span><span> in December 1964 on his way to receive his Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for justice on behalf of black people in the United States. In the 1970s and 1980s the anti-racist movement was crucial for ensuring that politicians policymakers at least considered the issue of race though it was unable fully to challenge Britain’s historic role in exploiting non-white people, nor to realise equal rights for their descendants living across the UK.</span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span></span></span></span><span><span><span>Reflecting on these twin commemorations,&nbsp; we must reform what is often a teleological Whiggish story of enlightened liberal men (or perhaps not-so-liberal in the case of </span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.changingschools.org.uk%2feop%2520texts%2fSIMON%2520SCHAMA%2520AND%2520TEACHERS.pdf" target="_blank"><span><span><span>Michael Gove’s intent</span></span></span></a><span><span> to teach all schoolchildren the virtues of the ‘</span></span><a href="https://owa.nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=2tA8KU9sLUKOVGOogPQBQfr5VzjMp9IIyX9TRdLrya9T9CC2nNABmeusZwfJL-kJyeDu4JM1US4.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.theguardian.com%2fworld%2f2015%2fmar%2f04%2feast-india-company-original-corporate-raiders" target="_blank"><span><span><span>unstable sociopath</span></span></span></a><span><span>’ Clive of India) inevitably deepening democracy through legislative acts. Instead we must educate all our children properly by recognising the wider array of voices that led the change for equal rights in the face of antidemocratic, illiberal and racist resistance among the powerful. </span></span></span></p><p><span><span><span>But commemorations should not only look backward, and thinking more positively towards a future, the final question is whether we need further legislation, better policy implementation or indeed a wider social movement to ensure those in power do in fact address racial inequality, and so that Black and minority ethnic people finally experience fairness and equality&nbsp; in Britain.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention"><img src="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Great Charter Convention (1).jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a> </p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention">The Great Charter Convention</a> – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it.</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="/ourkingdom/laurence-brown/800-years-since-magna-carta-remembering-british-struggle-for-ethnic-minori">800 years since the Magna Carta: Remembering the British struggle for ethnic minority rights</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Great Charter Convention History Rights and liberties today Building it: campaigns and movements Omar Khan Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:11:11 +0000 Omar Khan 95164 at https://opendemocracy.net Magna Carta: a beggarly thing, a mess of pottage https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/denis-galligan/magna-carta-beggarly-thing-mess-of-pottage <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If Magna Carta is the cornerstone of liberty, why did the Levellers, democratic radicals of the 17th century, reject it as 'containing many marks of intolerable bondage'? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>That in 2015, we still commemorate an agreement between the king and the barons of England reached 800 years ago, probably on the 15th&nbsp;June 1215, is a cause for wonder.&nbsp;<em>Magna Carta,&nbsp;</em>the Great Charter, as that agreement has come to be known, is held to be a milestone in the course of western constitutional thought. Its place in English jurisprudence is secure, but, while prominent, hardly matches the reverence it is shown on the other side of the Atlantic.</p><p>Among the range of subjects covered by Magna Carta, three stand out for their constitutional importance:&nbsp;<em>liberty</em>,&nbsp;<em>the rule of law and due process in the administration of justice</em>, and&nbsp;<em>taxation. On liberty:&nbsp;</em>Chapters 39 is most famous in protecting liberty from arbitrary arrest and related prejudice ‘save by the law of the land’. Property rights are associated with liberty and attract various forms of protection.&nbsp;<em>The rule of law,</em>&nbsp;from which due process of law follows, is also the subject of Chapter 39, as well as numerous other provisions.&nbsp;<em>Taxation,&nbsp;</em>the power of the government to tax, which is always central to constitutional thought, appears in several chapters, of which 12 and 14, being general limitations on the taxing power, are the most important.</p><p>The anniversary has prompted a fresh round of examination of Magna Carta and its influence not only in the UK and the USA but in many other places. My purpose here is different. It is prompted by a passage from a manifesto written in July 1646 by a group of Levellers. Called&nbsp;<em>Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens</em>, the manifesto, addressed to the House of Commons, describes the many grievances of the common people and proposes remedies. Freedom of conscience is foremost, followed closely by equality before the law, deprecating the ability of grandees and members of the House of Commons to avoid the normal sanctions of law. Additional concerns were imprisonment for debt and being pressed-into-military service.</p><p>Instead of invoking and applying Magna Carta to the situation, as we might have expected, the manifesto takes a surprising turn:</p><blockquote><div class="quote">Ye know the laws of this country are unworthy a free people., and deserve from first to last to be considered and — reduced to an agreement with common equity and right reason, — Magna Carta itself being a beggarly thing, containing many marks of intolerable bondage.</div></blockquote><p>The manifesto goes on to say why Magna Carta is such a ‘beggarly thing’, why it contains marks of ‘intolerable bondage’.</p><p><strong>The Levellers</strong></p><p>Who are the Levellers? They appeared on the political scene in 1645 when questions were asked about the imprisonment of John Lilburne their leader for refusing to answer the charges of a parliamentary committee. Lilburne had been in trouble years before in Star Chamber for criticizing the role of the bishops in government and then refusing to recognize the legality of the court. Although he spent much of the next and last eight years of his life in and out of prison, often on order of the House of Commons, sometimes the Lords, and finally Cromwell’s Council of State, he nevertheless started a political movement which became a major source of constitutional ideas and a popular reforming movement. By 1647, with the king in captivity and the parliament discredited, the future of English government and the constitution was in jeopardy.</p><p>At first they made common cause with Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army. They were prominent in the debates in Putney Church in 1647, an event that comes as close to being a constitutional convention as English history allows. But as Cromwell’s star rose and as he proved to be guilty of the same abuses as king and parliament before him, relations soured and the Levellers were harassed and persecuted, until by the late 1650s both Lilburne and the movement were dead.</p><p>At the time they were cast as dangerous populists who wished to overthrow the constitution and to ‘level’ society to render all equal. Neither was ever their intention. Over time they came to be presented as visionaries, harbingers of modern ideas of constitutions and constitutionalism, liberals and democrats before their time.</p><p><strong>A beggarly thing</strong></p><p>Why then was Magna Carta a ‘beggarly thing’, ‘a mess of pottage’? There exists an etching from 1649 that shows John Lilburne on trial for treason.<a id="_ftnref1" name="_ftnref1" href="http://www.fljs.org/content/magna-carta-beggarly-thing-mess-pottage#_ftn1"><span><span>[1]</span></span></a>&nbsp;Treason was a capital offence, the penalty for which was the grisly fate of being hung, drawn, and quartered. Lilburne is defending himself before a specially constituted court of forty, including grandees, notables, and a dozen judges. Despite repeated requests, he is denied counsel, not told the exact charge against him (it related to a publication critical of Cromwell’s government), and is not allowed to call witnesses.</p><p>The saving grace is that there is a jury to decide guilt or innocence. Indeed, in the top right hand corner, the names of the ‘Jury of Life and Death’ are listed. Lilburne was acquitted.</p><p>Now you may presume a man, unrepresented, on trial for his life before a dubiously constituted court, would naturally turn to Magna Carta. After all, Magna Carta addresses these very issues of law and the due process of law. But laws are not the preserve of the grandees or the lawyers: nor are they just what the grandee and lawyers decide they are. The very concept of law has a deeper meaning. Laws, to be laws, must ‘be agreeable to the law Eternal and Natural — for whatsoever laws, usages, and customes, not thus qualified, are not the laws of the land’. Natural law is the key: natural law means natural reason, and natural reason is ‘invested in the breast of all men, regardless of their position in society, and ‘however mean his intellect’.</p><p>Parliamentarians have no privileged access to natural reason. Bur what is the criterion of natural reason, the guiding beacon: it is the welfare and safety of all men. It follows that laws, usages, and customs not reasonably advancing the safety and welfare of the society are not true laws.</p><p>Magna Carta, or parts of it, at first sight might seem compatible with this vision. Why then is it rejected? The clue is the words quoted above: Magna Carta ‘contains many marks of intolerable bondage’. Magna Carta emerges from a society based on the bondage of the common people to their masters. It is neither a free nor a just society. The purpose of the Charter is to secure peace among the elite, and hence maintain and strengthen the structure of bondage, not change it.</p><p>In addition, Magna Carta had proved to be of no use in practical reality. Lilburne is on trial in a manner that violates its letter and spirit in the most blatant way. Due process of law is wholly absent. The Levellers’ point is that the very parliamentarians who were attacking the king for arbitrary practices, once in power do exactly the same. The parallels Coke drew between King Charles and King John would apply to his parliamentary colleagues.</p><p>The Levellers had a different social model to draw on: they harked back to law and society as it existed before the Conquest. Anglo-Saxon Society, in their view, was constituted by free-men who were respected as juridically equal and who were entitled to participate in the political process. It was constituted by a system of law and usage based on that sense of equal respect. Justice was administered by local courts whose judges were familiar with local customs and practices.</p><p>On the Levellers’ view, the Common Law had its origins in that society and, over centuries, developed the laws, customs, and usages that natural reason and social conditions dictated. It is only by casting-off the Norman Yoke, whose legacy continued to the seventeenth century, and restoring the essential elements of the earlier constitutional order, that law and liberty can flourish.</p><p><strong>Lessons from Magna Carta</strong></p><p>I will finish by asking whether there are cautionary lessons to be learnt from this case study. Does it teach us anything about constitutions as the modern equivalents of Magna Carta?</p><p>The most obvious is that constitutional standards, of which Magna Carta is an early example, depend for their efficacy on the social and political context in which they occur. While this may seem too obvious to be worth stating, it is remarkable how many contemporary constitution-makers and drafters, politicians, and international bodies, seem not to realize that declaring a standard in a text does not guarantee it will have any practical effect.</p><p>A second and related point is that standards, of the kind set by Magna Carta, require an institutional structure suitable for, capable of, and committed to, their proper implementation. In seventeenth-century England, an adequate institutional structure was absent. In the face of John Lilburne’s requests for his own counsel, the judges, eminent and experienced though they were, kept replying that they would be his counsel and that was enough. Edward Coke, the great defender of the Common Law and champion of liberty, when Attorney-General apparently had no scruples in ordering and overseeing the torture of suspects to obtain evidence. Reasons of state security trump all else, an idea still seemingly alive in parts of the Anglo-American world.</p><p>The final lesson of enduring importance is brought out by considering a statement by Marshall CJ in&nbsp;<em>Marbury&nbsp;</em>v.&nbsp;<em>Madison</em>, where he wrote:</p><blockquote><div class="quote">Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and permanent law of the nation.</div></blockquote><p>If by that he means the text is the whole constitution, the claim cannot stand. The case of the Levellers, to which numerous others could be added, shows that a constitution has deeper roots than the text and that the text has to be read and rendered in line with deeper understandings, expectations, and conventions. What was true of the seventeenth century remains so in the twenty-first century. To that we should add a final and no less salient point: the people themselves have a sense of that deeper constitution and are its guardians.</p><p>Notes:</p><p><a id="_ftn1" name="_ftn1" href="http://www.fljs.org/content/magna-carta-beggarly-thing-mess-pottage#_ftnref1"><span><span>[1]</span></span></a>&nbsp;The etching appears on the cover of&nbsp;<a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198714989.do" target="_blank"><strong><em><span><span>Constitutions and the Classics: Patterns of Constitutional Thought from Fortescue to Bentham&nbsp;</span></span></em></strong></a>(ed) D. J. Galligan (Oxford University Press: 2014)</p><p><em>This Opinion Piece was first published on the&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.fljs.org/content/opinion-pieces"><span><span><em>Opinion pages</em></span></span></a><em>&nbsp;of the Foundation for Law Justice and Society website, following its presentation to a meeting of the American Bar Association to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.</em></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="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention"><img src="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Great Charter Convention (1).jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a> </p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/great-charter-convention">The Great Charter Convention</a> – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it.</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="/ourkingdom/peter-linebaugh/homo-liber-homo-idioticus">Homo liber, homo idioticus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/malcolm-chase/great-charter-of-liberties">The Great Charter of Liberties</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom A written constitution? Great Charter Convention History Rights and liberties today Denis Galligan Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:11:11 +0000 Denis Galligan 95181 at https://opendemocracy.net Labour's pioneers, settlers and prospectors point to Kendall for progress https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/daniel-rattigan/labour%27s-pioneers-settlers-and-prospectors-point-to-kendall-for-progress <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It may be unfashionable, but Kendall is the leader Labour need - someone who can make tough decisions rather than simply playing to the crowd. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/rflzdsrntikusosI9JV5oSrOt7ntn8NtlfXtSO4RD8E/mtime:1439827307/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/kendall3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/O07V5jl1KX2cq75F8nyA1E1A0Z3Z9kmO36RlaTj1vrQ/mtime:1439827301/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/kendall3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/labour_party_uk. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>I’m a firm believer that, in order to change society, you have to understand society. Not society as you would wish it to be, but society as it actually is.</p><p>I am probably predisposed to find the research Jon Cruddas has led, on why Labour lost, to be fascinating. The most recent findings I’ve seen published, found <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/08/labour-has-to-stop-patronising-socially-conservative-voters/">here</a>, breaks down the voting public into three archetypal groups – socially liberal ‘pioneers’, aspirational ‘prospectors’ and socially conservative ‘settlers’.&nbsp; Broad brush strokes perhaps, but I think it’s fairly intuitive. </p> <p>The research notes that, in 2005, Labour’s vote share was split evenly between these three groups. Then from 2005 to 2015 there was a significant shift – votes among pioneers rose, fell modestly amongst prospectors and fell significantly amongst settlers. Pioneers are defined as being “at home in metropolitan modernity and its universalist values”, voting according to “their personal ideals and principles such as caring and justice” and tend to have been to university. They comprise a significant part of Labour’s membership. </p> <p>I’m in no doubt which of those camps I fall into. I was raised by a single mother on a multicultural (and since demolished) council estate. I’m subsequently university educated and benefitted from both means-tested university fees and Education Maintenance Allowance prior to that. I don’t necessarily vote according to my own interests, be it financial or otherwise, but according to the values I want to see resonate throughout society – relatively woolly concepts like fairness and compassion. </p> <p>Living in what was the most marginal seat in the 2010 election I had little choice but to vote Labour in 2015, despite long-held concerns over the electability of the leader and general direction of the party. As the election approached, I was sucked in by policies which played to my basest ideological instincts (“freeze energy prices, that’ll show ‘em”) and also favourable opinion polling. The comprehensive rejection by the electorate – on my birthday no less – came as a shock. It was my 1983.</p> <p>Since then, a million think-pieces have been written about why Labour lost. What I couldn’t have seen happening on the morning of the 8th May was a mass movement building up around the general viewpoint that a party that further appeals to those pioneers, ignoring the other groups, is the best way forward. What strikes me about the noise around the current Labour leadership contest frontrunner, and terrifies me to be quite frank, is that sense of playing to the crowd. Labour lost votes to UKIP and they lost votes to the Conservatives in key marginals, how do you get them back? </p> <p>The answer to that question can’t be to elect the personification of a London lefty who wants to spend money that would likely dwarf the banking bailout on rail renationalisation. Who wants to speed up Quantitative Easing with no regard for inflationary pressures. The desire to spend more post-2020, while in surplus, which flies in the face of the Keynesian logic so often invoked by his supporters. Whose ‘interesting’ approach to foreign policy has <a href="http://t.co/KtHTB7ukvY">been increasingly well documented</a>.&nbsp; The abolition of tuition fees seems regressive to me, are we really saying that <em>no-one</em> should pay for their higher education? I benefitted from subsidised university education, I’m all for maintaining and extending that, but look to Scotland for the impact of a blanket abolition – <a href="http://blogs.ft.com/off-message/2015/05/01/the-snp-has-let-down-scotlands-poorest-students/">the lowest rate of grants to low income students in western Europe</a>.</p> <p>That’s not to say there aren’t areas within his campaign of interest, such as the increased democratisation of policy-making, but the whole package does nothing for me. I doubt it would do anything for those lost voters either. I understand the hope, the willingness to believe in a fundamental societal shift that will see Corbyn (or at least a party in his image) elected in 2020, the desire for a ‘pure’ party free from the messy world of compromise… I just can’t go along with it.</p> <p>Leadership requires difficult choices and compromises. It’s a complex, possibly innate personality trait that’s bigger than what an individual looks like or their accent. The act of governing requires even more difficult choices. While in some quarters the leadership election has been presented as a binary choice between left and right, I’m not sure it’s possible for a leader to be to the left on every decision or, indeed, the right. I’m not sure making difficult choices is something that Jeremy Corbyn and his team, with the talk of people’s QE in front of admittedly impressive but ultimately favourable ‘home’ crowds, are willing to accept. To be elected requires understanding the electorate as it is, not as we’d wish it to be. And while you aren’t elected, the other lot get to shape society in their image.</p> <p>People are awkward – there’s no Clockwork Orange-style indoctrination process that pioneers can put prospectors and settlers through to make them more right-thinking. In order to be successful a leader has to be able to engage all or most of the electorate and bring them along. That includes people who might have views on, to pick an oft-quoted example, immigration that pioneers find uncomfortable or who are generally disconcerted with the pace of social change. It’s difficult to see how any amount of preaching or moralising will have an impact on their world view. The alternative, fighting another election on mobilising the ‘core vote’ (whatever that is) or banking on getting non-voters out despite their being <a href="https://medium.com/@AlexWhiteUK/the-non-voter-myth-9162897a7895">no evidence of their political leanings</a>, would be folly. </p> <p>For that reason my support, in what is a fairly unappealing leadership contest, would go firmly behind Liz Kendall. A significant part of me thinks it’s too early for her in many ways – in her attempts to distance herself from the previous regime, her approach has perhaps been needlessly caustic at times. The association with Blairism, with its successes and well-trumpeted failures, admittedly isn’t helpful. Nor is the vigour with which some notable Blairites have attacked Corbyn. </p> <p>But what Liz says about Labour not having enough to say to the whole country rings a bell with me. So too does focusing on ending early years inequality, developing regions outside of London and moving away from centralised, intimidating government – authoritarianism was certainly a fixture of the Blair-Brown era. What matters being what works, potentially opening the door to a raft of difficult decisions and sacred cows, is also hugely important. I realise pragmatism in itself isn’t really a concept that people can rally behind, certainly it’s not as motivational as ‘hope’, but it’s vital to any political project nonetheless.</p> <p>Her willingness to ask the question of what the Labour Party is for in an age of free at the point of use healthcare, a sizeable (if almost certainly inequitable) welfare state and globalisation is a brave one. I think the meme of her as some kind of closet Tory is unhelpful and her <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/letter-trade-unionist-britains-trade-unionists">strong support for the very concept of trade unionism</a> on its own puts an Atlantic sea’s worth of water between them. If she really had wanted to be a Tory MP, as an undeniably intelligent and engaging person she would have had no trouble in doing so. I find the concept that if anyone dares stray from a crowdsourced script they somehow lack ‘Labour values’ even less helpful, with the evocation of bluntly caricatured, towering ex-Labour figures deemed to be looking down from the heavens and tutting disapprovingly at any pragmatists. </p> <p>There are flaws and rough edges, of course they are. Were Liz to be leader, I have no doubt she would make some decisions which I would instinctively disagree with; there is no perfect candidate and I have no desire to see an unquestioning, comfortable cult of personality. But I firmly believe she is the leader Labour need, but sadly – for me at least –&nbsp; not the one it will elect. </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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Daniel Rattigan Mon, 17 Aug 2015 23:11:11 +0000 Daniel Rattigan 95300 at https://opendemocracy.net Out, out damned logo!: Why I protested the Edinburgh International Festival https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/kirsty-haigh/out-out-damned-logo-why-i-protested-edinburgh-international-festival <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Actors and activists protested yesterday against BP's sponsorship of the Edinburgh International Festival.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/mcyCshLV4EyztSIcKYSsTaKGrcblVzdWdS3KZ-IOBAk/mtime:1439828025/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bpornotbp.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/cLbByzjGvipBk20uhHFs0RS7ZBoW1jH03PYj-NAcCoU/mtime:1439827734/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bpornotbp.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>photo: bp or not bp</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Gross negligence caused the spill by BP, </em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Gross deception, it’s time to set the festival free. </em><br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">I love the arts and I love the festival. What I do not love is giant corporate criminals being allowed to use the Edinburgh International Festival to greenwash. I do not love spectacular performances being used to promote companies responsible for disastrous climate change. <br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday BP or Not BP? joined us from London to help us spread this message loud and clear. Along with Friends of the Earth Scotland, and others from Edinburgh University People &amp; Planet we took over the entranceway to the Hub, one of the Edinburgh International Festival venues and box offices. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/3SEDp8CFVSFa67_Mnl-6HIXGXjGzwnG2HSFjkue06hg/mtime:1439828025/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bp%20or%20not%20bp%202.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/pjFlcQg761CqexECNGUBUT4HTlrlArqBflCpCuasGqU/mtime:1439827799/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bp%20or%20not%20bp%202.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>photo: bp or not bp</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>People in the Gulf Coast are dying,</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>and BP keep on lying </em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>but we will not be silent.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>We said no, no, no, no;</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>they’ve got to go, go, go </em></p><p dir="ltr">We performed a theatrical stunt highlighting just some of the devastation that BP are causing- the 2010 oil rig explosion and spill which killed workers, decimated the environment and destroyed the livelihood of many locals and that their constant quest for more oil is sucking dry any hope we have of slowing down climate change.</p><p dir="ltr">It’s through stunts like these, where we takeover a space and force the Edinburgh International Festival to think about the consequences of these companies actions and inform the public of the issue that we can win change. </p><p dir="ltr"> Our protest stunt outside the Usher Hall was also well received and we were fortunate enough to be joined by Green MSP Alison Johnstone &amp; actor Simon McBurney &amp; Daniel Bry who all have expressed their disappointment with the sponsorship.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/q1wy1NNEunkiXboDO_DviN6hNvVk3lktrZTwMKAytKE/mtime:1439828026/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bplogo2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/evA9JPz8Xzw1gUkuCBUHCB9-IsLlfqaPX9RDM2miRnM/mtime:1439827857/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bplogo2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>bp or not bp</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">By taking sponsorship from BP the festival is condoning their practices and allowing these companies to pretend they are caring and responsible companies. We must not let our festivals and public institutions bury the destruction of our planet. </p><p>The Edinburgh International Festival, and everyone, need to break their ties with fossil fuel companies.<br />The BP logo has no place in the Edinburgh International Festival guide and so we ripped it out.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Wcm2pE9m9jIjn7M0jiYNYBJ6rpB81cPoBsXHhDcnxF4/mtime:1439828026/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bplogo.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/7Ou09HPWYFYboE5OGpthkHOC3lOCQbVurefW5JGatmk/mtime:1439827652/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/bplogo.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>photo: BP or not BP</span></span></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="/ourkingdom/liberate-tate-quiet-sounds-of-art-activism">Liberate Tate: the quiet sounds of art activism</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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Kirsty Haigh Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:13:43 +0000 Kirsty Haigh 95302 at https://opendemocracy.net The battle unfolding at the Royal College of Music https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jess-bilcock/battle-unfolding-at-royal-college-of-music <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ignored by their employers and frustrated by an impotent union, outsourced workers are launching a powerful campaign for their rights.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/Btp01ZvMFuJZ4ShvVD01plcfCL-Mr4uobOrABd3_yIQ/mtime:1439395628/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/5883822126_4978936412_z.jpg" alt="Image of the Royal College of Music" title="Royal College of Music" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The RCM is not alone in hiring some of London's lowest paid workers. Flickr/cactusbeetroot. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>On the 26th May 2015, the <a href="http://iwgb.org.uk/">Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB)</a> opened their <a href="https://royalcollegemusic3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/">campaign</a> against the Royal College of Music (RCM) in order to improve the employment terms and conditions of some of London’s lowest paid workers. The campaign, called the 3 Cosas, had been carried out before, at the University of London, where outsourced workers faced the same precarious terms and conditions that those at the Royal College of Music do today. That campaign was successful and, in spring of 2015, the IWGB set their sights on the prestigious Royal College of Music.</p> <h2><strong>“I can’t visit my family for a long time”</strong></h2> <p>Among many of the issues surrounding the employment terms of outsourced workers in London, three things are consistently inadequate: sick pay, holiday pay and employer pension contributions. At the Royal College of Music, as at many other higher education institutions up and down the country, outsourced cleaners receive no occupational sick pay, the statutory minimum holiday as well as meagre employer pension contributions (if any at all). These terms and conditions contrast sharply with those of the College’s direct employees. The exploitative terms leave workers vulnerable; a lack of sick pay causes the employees to have to work when seriously ill, or injured. Wilson Ayala Romero, a cleaner at the Royal College of Music and the Campaigns officer for the University of London branch of the IWGB, revealed: “even if [we] show proof from a GP that we are ill, [we] still wouldn’t get paid. I know many of my co-workers in this situation… there is a lot of exploitation”.</p> <p>Moreover, a decreased holiday allowance leaves these migrant workers unable to visit their homes and minimal employer pension contributions leave these physical labourers with an uncertain future. As Enrique Ramirez, another cleaner at the Royal College of Music, explained: “I can’t take more than 10 days holiday in a row... I can’t visit my family for a long time”.</p> <p>By targeting the institution, the IWGB hopes to improve conditions for these outsourced workers. The Royal College of Music refuses responsibility for the cleaners’ conditions as they are technically employed by Ocean Integrated Services. However, the notion that the Royal College of Music bears little responsibility for, or control over these vulnerable workers’ conditions is simply not tenable. The changes made at the University of London prove that these institutions do have the ability to improve their outsourced workers’ lives. Following the first 3 Cosas Campaign at the University of London, <a href="https://3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/press-reports/">workers there now receive up to six months occupational sick pay and 33 days holiday</a>. Moreover, just earlier this year, the Royal College of Music made the decision to raise their outsourced workers’ wages to match the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour, after pressure from the IWGB. The London Living Wage is a rate that is agreed upon as the bare minimum needed to survive in London, a concept endorsed by those across the political spectrum. The College have thus shown themselves not only to be susceptible to pressure from the union, but also capable of improving the lives of their outsourced workers.</p> <p>Therefore, in April 2015, the IWGB sent a letter to Professor Colin Lawson, director of RCM, <a href="https://royalcollegemusic3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/hello-world/">demanding the following changes</a> to the outsourced workers’ terms and conditions: </p> <ol> <li>35 days holiday, as opposed to 28 (including bank holidays).</li> <li>Up to six months occupational sick pay instead of the statutory minimum.</li> <li>Access to a pension scheme that would acknowledge the physicality of the work by increasing the employer pension contributions.</li></ol> <h2><strong>“All the workers were supporting us”</strong></h2><p><strong></strong><span>After the Royal College of Music failed to implement the proposed changes by the suggested deadline, 26</span>th<span> May 2015, the IWGB embarked upon a series of demonstrations. The first of which </span><a href="https://royalcollegemusic3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/first-3-cosas-protest-at-the-royal-college-of-music/">was held on the 19th June</a><span>, followed swiftly by </span><a href="http://iwgb.org.uk/2015/07/10/press-release-low-paid-workers-at-the-royal-college-of-music-protest-for-improved-conditions-on-graduation-day/">a second on 10th July</a><span>. Both protests were held at the College, (Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS), and the tactics were simple: shame publically and loudly. The second demo fell on the College’s graduation day, as the undergraduates and their families arrived. Despite the IWGB’s continued attempts to negotiate with the college prior to the event, RCM refused to come to the table, triggering the demonstration and leaving their students to face the disruption to what should have been their day of celebration.</span></p> <p>The Royal College of Music continuously refuse to negotiate with the workers and their chosen union. The RCM will only engage with UNISON, despite the fact that the IWGB represent the overwhelming majority of RCM cleaners. Moreover, according to one worker, the college have suggested that the only way for their demands to be acknowledged would be to join UNISON. The University of London branch of the IWGB <a href="///C:/Users/Harry/Downloads/:%20http:/www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/12/03/harry-stopes/not-a-recognised-union">split from UNISON back in 2013</a>, due to a number of disputes ranging back over a couple of years. At the heart of the disagreements lay the 3 Cosas Campaign, that was then directed at the University of London. The workers at the University were facing the same poor employment terms and conditions that those at the Royal College of Music do today, yet UNISON were reluctant to engage in industrial action or support the worker-led campaign. Indeed, <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/ritzy-living-wage-3-cosas-curzon-victories-simon-childs-720">UNISON spent several months actively sabotaging the campaign</a>. The breaking point came after UNISON’s branch elections, in which the pro-3 Cosas candidates had run for positions in the union. After rigorous canvassing and campaigning, the representatives, who are now chairs and secretaries in the IWGB, felt confident they had amassed an overwhelming majority of votes.</p> <p>As Henry Chango Lopez, Vice President of the IWGB, stated: “All the workers were supporting us... they had a lot of confidence in us because... every day they went to their workplaces... we were almost like a family... the majority said they would vote for us”. Yet when the day came to announce the outcome of the election, UNISON refused to release the results, or schedule another election. As far as the nominees were concerned, they had been purposefully thwarted by a union with little regard for the democratic process, or their workers’ needs. Henry Chango Lopez revealed: “They [UNISON] put posters up around the university saying that... they weren’t involved with the 3 Cosas, even when we were involved with the union... UNISON and the University were <a href="https://bloomsburyfightback.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/unison-vs-the-workers/">colluding together in order to fight the workers</a>.”</p> <h2><strong>“Our rights shouldn’t depend on what union we belong to”</strong></h2> <p>The Royal College of Music’s insistence that the workers must join the non-combative UNISON is perhaps unsurprising. Yet given the union’s track record, the likelihood of improved terms and conditions emerging for these workers, should they join UNISON, may well be bleak.&nbsp; Lopez added: ‘They [RCM] are using that as an excuse not to talk to the IWGB... because it is costly and they don’t want to give us the money. It’s not something that will help the workers get the 3 Cosas”. Such a condemnation does not seem to be an exaggeration, if the union’s past behaviour is an indicator. One worker, annoyed at the College’s stalling, stated: “our rights shouldn’t depend on what union we belong too”. While the demands may be costly for the College, the changes in terms and conditions would make a huge difference to the quality of these workers’ lives. &nbsp;Enrique Ramirez explained: “There is no security [with the current terms and conditions]... if we win I would feel protected”.</p> <p>Despite the challenges, however, the IWGB will not give up the fight. The material difference that these improved conditions would make in the cleaners’ lives, like the ability to return home, stay home when they are sick and retire comfortably, are only part of what they stand to gain from the 3 Cosas. For many of the workers, the 3 Cosas Campaign signifies something far greater, as one cleaner noted: “this union is like [our] voice… We are here and we hope to get our dignity”.</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="/1888">History repeating: zero-hours contracts and the strike of 1889</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anne-cato/fair-pay-at-universities-as-long-as-youre-full-time">&#039;Fair pay&#039; at universities, as long as you&#039;re full time</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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"> 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Civil society Democracy and government Jess Bilcock Sun, 16 Aug 2015 23:11:11 +0000 Jess Bilcock 95209 at https://opendemocracy.net A post-election analysis and what needs to be done https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/sarah-perrigo/postelection-analysis-and-what-needs-to-be-done <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Written just after the General Election and circulated to Labour supporters, Sarah Perrigo assesses the future of the Labour Party, with a postscript reflecting on the leadership election.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/N6HydNSl8I-8hHy9fIymMtPH8WG7NmtPh4JX1SoEj2s/mtime:1439543293/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/17047182948_9d7d3938f6_z.jpg" alt="Ed Miliband giving a speech in Manchester" title="Ed Miliband in Manchester" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Miliband was best when he acted on his convictions. Flickr/Labour Party. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1979. Through much of that time I have been very active in the party and for some years I was a Labour councillor. </p> <p>Given Labour’s defeat on May 7th I am extremely anxious to begin a serious conversation/debate with both members, supporters and other progressive groups/individuals about the nature of Labour’s defeat and how we move forward. I believe there is an urgent need for debate/discussion which has been dramatically increased by the vacuous and in my view irresponsible reaction of members of the party elite such as Mandelson, Blair and David Miliband to the defeat and the superficiality and the lack of any clear analysis or convincing vision of how the party needs to respond to present circumstances from those who are putting themselves forward to lead the party in the future.</p> <p>I fail to understand how we can elect a leader before we have had a widespread debate about what has gone wrong, what kind of party we want, what kind of s society we want to build and what kind of policies and programme and ways of working we need to achieve success? Electing a leader before that happens is putting the cart before the horse! Quite frankly at the moment, I have no idea what the Labour Party stands for and when I listen to the leadership contenders I have real difficulty distinguishing what they are saying from what the SNP called ‘red Tories’!</p> <p>In what follows I offer my analysis of Labour’s defeat and what needs to happen now. Others may agree or disagree with me and that is fine. My aim is to hopefully initiate some serious discussion about the future of our party that is widespread and involves as many people as possible who are appalled by the thought of 5 years of a vicious Tory government and the harm it will do to people’s lives – particularly those who are most vulnerable.</p> <h2><strong>The actual election result </strong></h2> <p>The actual result was clearly bad for Labour and I do not dispute that, but there has been enormous hyperbole over the actual results. In the view of many commentators this was a huge success for the Tories and a complete rout for Labour. That the polls got it so wrong perhaps made us think the defeat was worse than it actually was because of dashed expectations that the vote would be much closer.</p> <p>But if we examine the results, they suggest a much more complex picture. At a recent seminar I attended in Oxford, Sir Ivor Crew noted that the election results and the pattern of voting was the most confused and complex of any election he could remember. Yes, the Conservatives obtained 37% of the vote and Labour only 31%. However more people failed to vote than voted Conservative and vastly more people voted against the Tories than voted for them. Also remember Labour increased its vote by 1.6% whereas the Tory vote only increased by only 0.6% and in parts of England the swing to Labour was over 5%.</p> <p>In all the major cities in England Labour took virtually all the seats (see for example London, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Leicester, where Labour votes were often piled up high). Where Labour lost was in a relatively small number of crucial marginal seats. More work needs to be done to explain this failure but one thing is clear: our election system makes the results of elections far too dependent on marginal seats and distorts election results as well as distorting electioneering and party activities.</p> <p>It is difficult to compare the results in 2015 with the situation in 2010. No one expected the collapse of the Liberal democrats to be as large as it turned out to be and the impact of UKIP in England and Wales and the spectacular success of the SNP in Scotland further make comparisons with 2010 extremely difficult to make.</p> <p>However if we look at the relationship between votes and seats in a situation where there were several parties in serious competition as there were in 2015, one thing is clear; the electoral system produced grossly distorted and clearly unfair results. For example, the Conservatives obtained 37% of the votes but 51% of the seats, Labour 31% of the vote but 35% of the seats seats. The system also produced inflated numbers of seats in proportion to votes for the SNP. As important, the Lib Dems suffered a disproportionate loss of seats and UKIP suffered even more with 12.5% of the vote but obtaining only one seat and the Greens with over a million votes also obtaining only one seat. It seems to me that a plurality of parties standing for election is here to stay and that this kind of unfairness will continue unless we seriously address the issue of proportional representation. Further although the Conservatives got a very slim overall majority this time the likelihood of coalition governments in the future even without a change in the election system is in my view high.</p> <p>I will return to the issue of electoral reform later along with a wider discussion of constitutional reform, regionalism and local government but suffice to argue here that in my view institutions do matter; they affect the democratic process and need to be taken seriously. Given what has happened in Scotland and the constitutional issues raised there, the importance of a constitutional convention and a truly widespread debate on constitutional change is imperative.</p> <h2><strong>Labour’s poor performance</strong></h2> <p><strong>The shifting political context of the 2015 election</strong></p> <p>The spectacular rise of the SNP and UKIP and the virtual collapse of the Lib Dems made the position of Labour much more difficult than in past elections, therefore comparisons with previous elections seem to me to be not really relevant. Issues relating to Scotland and also the UK Independence Party will be dealt with in later sections. </p> <p><strong>The Blair years and New Labour</strong></p> <p>Much has been written and said about the Blair years and New Labour and I am not going to deal in depth with the Blair/Brown years. I do not want to deny either the electoral success of Blair or that some good things were achieved in this period (such as Sure Start, school and hospital buildings, and the minimum wage for example). However much of the good work done, especially in tackling poverty, was done by stealth and not celebrated enough so voters were ignorant often of what the party had achieved. In order to understand this we need to focus on aspects of the New Labour’s legacy which have prevented, or at least made it difficult, for Labour under Ed Miliband to build a radical and more progressive politics or even seriously to reflect on the success and failures of New Labour. </p> <p>Blair’s appeal was centred on what has been described as middle England. Despite the early rhetoric of Blair claiming to be committed to transforming politics, he turned out to be cautious and fearful of alienating a range of disparate interest groups and classes, business as well as aspirational skilled workers, and the Tory press. In so doing he failed to address some of the worst effects of the Thatcher years. In fact in many areas he developed and furthered the Thatcherite agenda – increased privatisation of public services, PFI, Neo-liberal economic policies, support for an unregulated financial sector and a lack of concern for increasing inequality. This in effect meant that his so called ‘big tent’ politics was nowhere near as inclusive as he claimed. In particular it excluded the concern of many of Labours core traditional voters, the young and many non voters, with dire consequences for Labour’s support in 2015. </p> <p>Connected to this was, in my view, Blair’s failure to transform the political culture of the UK. He came to power with a large majority and there were huge expectations that politics could really change in a progressive direction. However little real radical change (apart from devolution) was promoted. Many, not just traditional Labour voters, but also social and political progressives who had joined the party in their droves before 1997 felt extremely disappointed. Large numbers left the party! Add the Iraq war to this and you have a recipe for widespread disillusionment in the New Labour project. Yet there was no real assessment of New Labour following the election defeat of 2010 and no serious discussion of the haemorrhaging of votes from Labour in the two elections after the victory of 1997. So-called Blairites continued to offer an outdated set of policies without any critical evaluation of their efficacy, and influential Blairites continued to prevent more innovative and progressive policies that in my view Miliband and his supporters would have liked to pursue. This had important effects on the performance of the Labour Party in opposition to the Coalition.</p> <h2><strong>The coalition years</strong></h2> <p><strong>a)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>The economy and economic competence</strong></p> <p>From 2010 the Conservatives and Lib Dems firmly established a narrative that Labour was responsible for the economic crisis and were profligate with their spending which they had to deal with when they came into office. This mantra was repeated by the coalition on a virtually daily basis. Labour did nothing to combat this narrative: indeed they often appeared to agree with it. This was disastrous for Labour and more importantly it was not true. As many have argued including leading macro economists such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Wolf, the economic crisis was a truly global crisis; it did not start in the UK but in America and had global reach, Though Labour may have failed to regulate the banks and the financial sector more broadly, this was a failure not just of Labour but of all political parties including the Conservatives in the UK. </p> <p>Krugman has recently pointed out <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion">how disastrous was Labour’s failure</a> to “combat the very dubious claim that Blair and Brown were profligate and the nonsensical claim that they were responsible for the economic crisis”. One has to ask why Labour allowed this extraordinary failure to defend their record in office and the actions they took to deal with the global economic crisis. </p> <p>Labour since 2010 further failed to consistently and convincingly attack the Conservative economic policy more broadly; not only have the Conservatives failed to adequately regulate the banks and other financial institutions but failed to rebalance the economy away from financial services, as industry continues to be characterised by low investment and low productivity and in many cases ineffective and inefficient management. Added to this, the labour force is badly trained and lacks the skills to compete effectively in global markets. These weaknesses in the British economy have a long history due to the short termism of successive governments. I rarely remember Labour politicians making any of these critiques of Conservative economic policy. </p> <p><strong>b)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Austerity</strong></p> <p>Again Labour failed cogently and consistently to attack the coalition arguments on the need for austerity. Indeed Labour seemed to accept the need for austerity, often only resisting its most blatantly unfair aspects such as the bedroom tax (it accepted for example the so called <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/11669052/George-Osbornes-pensions-triple-lock-will-help-drive-Britain-into-deficit.html">triple lock</a>).</p> <p>However a majority of Keynesian macro-economists were, and continue to be, highly critical of this policy. Again see the works of Stiglitz, Krugman and Wolf. Equating household overspending with deficit spending by governments in a recession is ludicrous. In my view this not only put Labour in the public’s mind as little different from the Tories and reinforced the neo-liberal economic policy of the government but it explains why on the doorstep many claimed there was little difference between the Conservatives and Labour. Further it is my view that many aspects of the Tory austerity agenda is an integral part of its ideological programme to further right wing plans to gravely weaken the welfare state and public services. By accepting so much of the discourse of austerity Labour deprived itself of arguments needed to defend public services and the welfare state and to offer realistic and hopeful alternatives.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/GmdSyYVajjHLlVtoJmkcaxUQ2DZLzCSHXIRBBa2MUcI/mtime:1439543430/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/7257359946_2af4d14f1e_z.jpg" alt="Image of Paul Krugman giving a speech" title="Paul Krugman" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Krugman was amazed at Labour's failure to defend its record. Flickr/Commonwealth Club. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The failure of labour to combat arguments on its economic competence and to offer an alternative to austerity contributed critically to the lack of credibility Labour faced in the election. Either voters did not know what Labour stood for or they simply did not believe them. The extraordinary negative, but highly successful campaigning by the Tories and the construction of a climate of fear during the election merely intensified that uncertainty.</p> <p><strong>c)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Scotland</strong></p> <p>Labour’s problems in Scotland have their roots in the deindustrialisation and decline in manufacturing so marked in the Thatcher years and then not effectively addressed in the Blair years.</p> <p>In this respect the alienation of Scottish Labour voters is not so very different from the alienation of Labour’s traditional supporters in the North of England, the Midlands and Wales. In all these areas there has been a growing feeling of marginalisation from Westminster politics. </p> <p>As noted before, Blair’s electoral success was to base his appeal on middle England and ‘big tent’ politics whilst assuming that Labour’s heartlands, the traditional working class supporters of Labour in Scotland and the North of England and Wales would continue to support Labour as they had nowhere else to go. Though this may have been true in the short term, Scottish devolution and the growing popularity and success of the SNP (particularly as it moved to a more progressive political agenda under Nicola Sturgeon) suggested increasingly that Scottish Labour voters <em>did</em> have somewhere else to go; and to a party that appeared to offer hope and a much more progressive politics than that offered by a Scottish Labour Party tied to Westminster and Westminster politics.</p> <p>Many talented Labour politicians left Scotland for Westminster in the Blair/Brown years and the party began to lose its ties with its communities in Scotland as Scottish voters increasingly saw New Labour as part of a London metropolitan elite and as part of the problem rather than the solution.</p> <p>The failure of the Labour Party to distinguish themselves from the Tory party and the coalition in the unionist campaign in the referendum merely reinforced this view. It was obvious that what many in Scotland wanted was Devo-Max rather than complete independence, yet the Labour Party never challenged Cameron to include this option on the agenda. Neither did the Westminster Labour Party understand the needs of Scottish Labour to have some autonomy in its battle with the SNP. There is no doubt that leading Labour politicians in Scotland such as Gordon Brown were decisive in the referendum result. However the immediate reaction of Cameron to the result in talking immediately of the need for English votes for English laws demonstrates that not only had the Labour Party been manipulated by the Tories for their own ends but that in the minds of many Scottish voters there was little difference between the Tories and the Labour Party.</p> <p>Finally, the failure of Miliband and other spokespersons for Labour to engage with the SNP in the election campaign and their adamant refusal to entertain any kind of alliance with the SNP – in effect to the treat the SNP as the enemy rather than a potential ally – was disastrous. It allowed the fear whipped up by the Tories and the Tory press of a Labour-SNP alliance to influence many English voters’ minds as though such an alliance was illegitimate (remember the posters of Miliband in the pocket of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon). From talking to Labour Party campaigners, and from my own experience on the doorstep this fear was expressed by many people and nowhere did Labour seek to combat it.</p> <p>In Scotland, as over economic issues discussed above, Labour was consistently outflanked by a Conservative Party (with the support of an overwhelmingly Tory supporting press) that was ruthless and highly successful in creating fear of voting for Labour.</p> <p><strong>d)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>&nbsp;UKIP</strong></p> <p>As we have seen above, for a variety of reasons, both short and long term, Labour voters turned to the SNP in Scotland. In England by contrast those regions with strong traditional working class voters, for somewhat similar reasons turned in large numbers to UKIP. Again deindustrialisation, the decline of manufacturing, long term unemployment and a failure of Westminster politics to address their needs lies behind this change in voting behaviour. This was particularly true in parts of the North East and West and South Yorkshire. Like the SNP a major factor in the success of UKIP was its ability to portray itself as an anti-establishment party – however contradictory and incoherent it was in its political programme it managed to convince people it was not part of the political elite and that it represented something different. Alienated and disaffected Labour supporters in long-neglected areas of the country voted for UKIP in large numbers. Labour seriously underestimated the UKIP threat, seemingly believing that UKIP was a greater threat to the Tories. As we know that was not the case. Though both Labour and the Tories suffered from the swing to UKIP, Labour suffered most.</p> <p><strong>e)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>Nationalisms, the EU and migration</strong></p> <p>In relation to both the extraordinary success of the SNP and the rise of UKIP as well as the issue of the EU and the coming referendum Labour has failed to adequately respond to what has often been called ‘identity politics’ which in this context means national or cultural identity politics. Feelings of belonging, place and locality matter to people and they especially matter when voters feel marginalised and ignored. In Scotland the SNP’s ability to build on its distinctive past; its different education and legal system and after devolution its parliament allowed the SNP to draw on a kind of civic nationalism which large numbers of Scots’ could identify with. In England, on the other hand, UKIP and in many ways, the Tories too, have drawn (with some success) on a less defined but clearly salient notion of Englishness. In responding to the question of migration, the EU and in response to the Scots’ demand for separation or more devolution, both UKIP and the Tories have manipulated and harnessed feelings around English identity to stimulate fear of ‘the Other’ and to blame the failure of the coalition to for example, build more houses or properly finance schools and the health service, on the EU and immigrants. These are difficult issues for Labour, in particular concerns over migration. However these issues are not going to go away and Labour needs to reflect deeply on how it can respond to local, regional and national identities whilst at the same time defending its internationalism and its pro-European commitments. Regional devolution, more power to local authorities and policies to address the needs of those communities devastated by neo liberal economic globalisation must be part of the answer.</p> <p><strong>f)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>The collapse of the Lib Dems</strong></p> <p>Whilst many predicted a loss of seats for the Lib Dems the scale of their losses was a surprise. Though the reasons for such a cataclysmic defeat are not part of my analysis there is no doubt that their failure to defend key manifesto pledges, notably on tuition fees, played a part. This does raise the whole question of trust in political leaders. </p> <p><strong>g)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>The leadership factor?</strong></p> <p>A host of conventional analyses have centred on the persona of Miliband. He was a ‘geek’, part of the metropolitan elite, he was not charismatic, he was in hock to the unions, too left wing and so on. </p> <p>Whilst not wanting to deny that Miliband lacked some of the charisma and oratory skills of Blair, for instance, the extent to which he was responsible for the election defeat is in my view simplistic and over-blown. From the very beginning he was undermined and continued to be undermined from not just the Conservatives and the Tory press but also crucially from some Labour MPs and in particular the so-called Blairites who voted for his brother and never really came to terms with the result of the leadership election. This meant he was continually hampered in developing new and innovative directions and often appeared to be wavering between appeasing his opponents in the party and his supporters, thus giving the impression of a lack of decisiveness and leadership. In fact where he was best was when he acted on his political&nbsp; convictions and was bold such as his attack on the Murdoch press, his attack on predatory capitalism and non-doms, his insistence on the importance of the living wage and his wish to end zero hour contracts. In these cases he not only won popular support but he put the coalition clearly on the back foot.</p> <h2><strong>Where do we go from here?&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p><strong>A vision – creating a new ‘common sense’?</strong></p> <p>There are in my view no simple fixes. Certainly attacking Labour under Miliband for failing to appeal to the aspirations of working people or for being too left wing are completely unconvincing, not just to me, but to many Labour Party members/supporters and grossly underestimate the kind of change Labour needs to think about if it is to rejuvenate itself. The way forward must come from a deep, engaged and prolonged conversation with Labour members and supporters as well as sympathisers about the kind of party Labour wants to be and the kind of society it wishes to help create. Only then can it demonstrate how particular policies and objectives can contribute to that vision. Without a clear narrative that is both realistic and appeals to people’s desire for a better, progressive and sustainable future Labour will not become, nor will it deserve to become, a party of government. Importantly the narrative cannot just be a narrowly economistic one but one that draws on a concept of justice which includes both rights and moral virtue. <strong></strong></p> <p>Scotland proves it is possible to engage people in real and important political debate. This did not happen in Scotland overnight. Labour needs to recognise that if we are to be able to facilitate such a conversation we need to engage people in in their daily lives, in communities, trade unions, work places, universities, in social movements etc. Policy cannot continue to be a top-down process decided by a narrow political elite or based on focus groups and short term opportunism but needs to be the outcome of widespread conversations both within the party and outside. </p> <p><strong>A constitutional convention </strong></p> <p>One way in which a conversation and debate could possibly begin would be to take up the idea of a constitutional convention. I know some people think that constitutional issues are not really important and are only of interest to the so called ‘chattering classes’. I dispute this strongly. As I said earlier ‘institutions do matter’. We live in one of the most politically centralised countries in Europe. Local government has no powers which could not be taken away at will by Westminster if it so decided. Parliamentary sovereignty is indeed as Lord Hailsham famously said an ‘elective dictatorship’. There are few checks on power (except perhaps the judiciary and even here the present government is attempting to weaken judicial authority and assert the supremacy of the government over it). The big cities of the Midlands and the North have no real say over policies that directly affect their citizens’ lives and have no powers over finance or tax raising powers. In effect local government is simply local administration of policies decided elsewhere. No wonder so few people vote in local elections</p> <p>The disillusionment and cynicism of voters in England and Wales is in part a result of an over centralised system which people feel disconnected from and unheard in.</p> <p>Scotland proved it is possible to engage people in a real political debate about institutions and how they enable or hinder a different kind of politics and policies. The process in Scotland took time and was not just an elite top down process but a bottom up one too. </p> <p>Constitutional issues are in fact on the agenda right now; further Scottish devolution, the so called Midlothian question and English votes for English laws, the issue of regionalism raised by George Osborne and his so called ‘northern powerhouse’, Europe and the EU referendum as well as an increasingly dysfunctional and unfair electoral system all raise fundamental matters of constitutional and political concern. In my view these issues are too important and fundamental to be left to the political elite to decide. </p> <h2><strong>The Labour Party&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p><strong>Party elites</strong></p> <p>The attitude of the Labour Party leadership to its members and to sympathisers outside the party, needs to change dramatically. The arrogance of party elites in the way they relate to members is simply unacceptable. Being told what party policy is without real debate, receiving emails from members of the shadow cabinet addressing members by their first name when they have no idea who they are is patronising and is not conducive to developing a party which is participatory and active.</p> <p>I am a supporter of a football team and I support it unconditionally. I am a member of the Labour Party because I want make a difference, I want to contribute to its policies and its activities. I don’t support the Labour Party as though it were my team! And certainly my support is not unconditional!</p> <p>I remember very well before he was first elected Blair promising to make the party more responsive to members and to creating a more participatory party. This never happened. Party elites became even more distant from members, party conferences became completely sterile and stage managed. Policy was decided by advisors and think-tanks or so called focus groups without reference to party members. Increasingly being a member became more and more like a supporters club.<span> </span>Democracy requires real debate. Without a discursive democratic practice the party fails to be a democratic party, in my understanding of democracy.</p> <p><strong>Party presence in communities and political activism</strong></p> <p>The party needs to become a more campaigning organisation. Though we cannot go back to a time when Labour was deeply embedded in working class communities, there are many ways in which the party &nbsp;branches/constituencies could hold regular stalls in shopping centres providing information on the party and listen to people’s concerns. When, for example there are community initiatives, protests and demonstrations over specific issues the Labour Party, its members and councillors need to be present. Not to take control of such actions but to be a part of such initiatives, speaking with those involved, taking up issues with the local council or with the MP. Where is the Labour presence in current protests over housing, the environment and racism for example?</p> <p><strong>Progressive Alliances</strong></p> <p>Labour should stop being so tribal. It does not have a natural monopoly on progressive politics and should be willing to reach out and work with the Green Party, progressive social liberals and members of the Scottish and Welsh National Parties.</p> <p>I do believe there is a progressive electorate out there – but it needs to be stimulated and appealed to in new and innovative ways and not on narrow and sectarian grounds which exclude potential allies.</p> <h2><strong>Postscript</strong></h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/2e_98FAr3I9e-uXXDc9x-TkkZloGl3Vt3nmywI4646k/mtime:1439543583/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555395/20044525999_439ff8399f_z.jpg" alt="Jeremy Corbyn speaking to a crowd." title="Jeremy Corbyn in Coventry" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jeremy Corbyn speaks in Coventry. Flickr/Ciaran Norris. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Since I wrote the above in May much has happened. Of most significance has been the extraordinary growth of support for Jeremy Corbyn among Labour Party members and supporters and the incomprehension and hostility of both large numbers of Labour MPs and media commentators, including the Guardian and Observer newspaper to that support. The vitriol directed at Corbyn supporters and the crude caricature of what he is articulating is not only extremely unpleasant but is self-defeating and demonstrates clearly that many politicians and commentators are ignorant of how bankrupt our political system has become and how much of an appetite there is for radical change. </p> <p>I will be voting for Corbyn. He offers an alternative vision of what the Labour Party can be based on an ethic of social justice, social solidarity and peace. Importantly, his vision also offers hope to people deeply cynical of party politics and what the Labour Party stands for. It is one that strongly contests the dominant conservative narrative that there is no alternative to the neo-liberal consensus, austerity and rampant individualism. However, whatever you think of Corbyn and his candidature in the coming election, he has achieved what I wanted most when I began writing this essay which is the beginning of a real debate about Labour and its future. This would not have happened without his candidature. </p> <p>However, this is, or should be, only the beginning of that debate. Regardless of who wins the leadership election we cannot go back to being a party that in its desire for political power forgets what it wants that power for. We cannot go back to a party that treats its members with contempt and is so fearful of offending powerful vested interests that it abandons its core principles.</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/jeremy-gilbert/what-hope-for-labour-and-left-election-80s-and-%E2%80%98aspiration%E2%80%99">What hope for Labour and the left? The election, the 80s and ‘aspiration’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shaun-lawson/how-to-stop-boris-labour-liberal-democrats-and-what-left-must-now-do">How to stop Boris? Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and what the left must now do</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shaun-lawson/polls-and-all-but-one-of-forecasts-were-wrong-ed-miliband-was-nowhere-near-b">The polls (and all but one of) the forecasts WERE wrong. Ed Miliband was nowhere near becoming Prime Minister</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <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"> 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> OurKingdom OurKingdom Civil society Democracy and government Labour Party Sarah Perrigo Sun, 16 Aug 2015 23:11:11 +0000 Sarah Perrigo 95241 at https://opendemocracy.net