uk cached version 24/06/2018 18:15:09 en If a week is a long time in politics, it’s a very long time in the World Cup <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both England’s performance – and the tournament atmosphere – in the first week of the Russia’s World Cup, have been better than many predicted, so far. But let’s not get carried away….</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// World Cup 2018.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// World Cup 2018.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Image: Hugh Tisdale, all rights reserved.</em></p> <p>It’s a well-worn footballing cliché that you can only beat the team in front of you. But England taking until the 91st minute to secure victory over Tunisia doesn’t look good. Nevertheless, three points in the bag, and a widely-expected second victory against Panama on Sunday, means England’s last 16 qualification might – might - have been secured by Monday, in which case, given the likely opponents of Senegal, Japan or Poland in the next round, thoughts will inevitably turn to a possible quarter-final.</p> <p>Without doubt this is English progress , of sorts, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Our natural status is beaten quarter-finalists. Prior to that golden day in ’66 it was the best we’d ever done, and we’ve only bettered this once since, at Italia ’90 all of 28 years ago. Sven was the last England manager to get us to a quarter-final, at World Cups 2002 and 2006 (as well as at Euro 2004 in between). If we make it this time Gareth Southgate will have got us back to where we belong, amongst the top 8 World Cup nations, but probably still a long way short of being among the top 4. It was ever thus. </p> <p>Thankfully the games are all being played out against the backdrop of a happy clappy <em>Ros! Si! Ya!</em>, despite the build-up full of dire predictions of heavy-handed policing, neo-Nazi hooligan gangs, racist attacks, homophobia and the grimmest environment imaginable. The build-up was the same for South Africa’s World Cup 2010. Travelling fans were promised muggings, car-jacking, and a race war. Nothing of the sort materialised. And again for Brazil 2014, political unrest combined with <em>Favela </em>drug gangs was predicted to ruin the World Cup for the supporters. Once again, no such incidents occurred.</p> <p>But before you know it, England will be preparing to head home, and the same lazy predications about the host nation will be being rolled out for next time.</p> <p>And we’ll also have the same curious phenomenon that when the matches kick off we go from one extreme, destination hellhole, to another, football paradise. </p> <p>The truth is Russia does have problems; an authoritarian regime, Greater Russian nationalism, massive inequalities of wealth distribution, racism, homophobia and a violent fan sub-culture. None of these were ever going to be allowed to ruin a World Cup which is Russia’s unmatchable opportunity to showcase the best of its nation to the world. And none of them have gone away either just because a game of football is underway. As with an England win, against Tunisia, the whistle blows and all sense of perspective is booted out of the window. </p> <p>We already know it will be Qatar hosting the tournament in 2022, followed by the successful joint bid of USA, Canada and Mexico for 2026. And England is apparently considering a joint British bid for 2030 with the Scots and Welsh FAs, which will face competition from the Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay joint bid, and no doubt others. These tri-nation hosts are a result of the World Cup’s expansion from the current 32 team format to a gargantuan 48. </p> <p>The global reach of football is continuing so some kind of increase is justified, as it was when the tournament grew first from 16 to 24 nations for Spain ‘82, then again to 32 for France ‘98 and the same since then. But 48 is too big a jump. It creates too massive a tournament, too many games (many of which will be meaningless), and too big a disparity in ability. 40 would have been a much better compromise, 8 groups of 5 rather than the current 8 groups of 4, a step-up of 8 teams as every previous expansion has been. Oh – and with all the extra places awarded to the under-represented continents, aka anywhere but Europe and South America (sorry Scotland!). </p> <p>A more modest increase in competitor nations would also preserve the feasibility of single host nations. Every previous one has helped define how a World Cup is consumed and remembered almost as much as the football on the pitch and the eventual winner. The one exception, when Japan and South Korea jointly hosted World Cup 2002, just about worked, thanks to the extraordinary success of the Korean team and their Red Army of supporters as they reached the semis, though Japan largely defined the consumption of the football and Brazil’s eventual victory in the Tokyo final. </p> <p>Here’s an idea. 2030 is the centenary World Cup. The first one took place in Uruguay and England, like most of the other European nations, shamefully chose to boycott it because South America was too far away and the footballing world revolves around Europe, or in England’s case, ourselves.</p> <p>So why not award hosting 2030 now to Uruguay, and abandon the expensive and corruptible bidding process? The world of football could give every assistance to this one small nation to host it. It could organise it as a celebration of one hundred years’ worth of the growing international appeal of our game, the people’s game. It could fly in the face of all that FIFA has become. </p> <p>Well - like an England semi (even my optimism of the will has its limits) we’re allowed our World Cup dreams, aren’t we?</p><p><em>Mark Perryman is the co-founder of Philosophy Football. Their England World Cup T-shirt is available from&nbsp;<a href="">here</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/thirty-two-nations-under-groove">Thirty-two nations under a groove</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 22 Jun 2018 17:45:18 +0000 Mark Perryman 118559 at UK Government minister hides leading role with hard Brexit group <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Exclusive: Steve Baker accused of playing "fast and loose" with ministerial rules after openDemocracy investigation finds Brexit minister had undisclosed meetings with European Research Group</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Brexit Minister Steve Baker at an annual 'weighing in' ceremony in High Wycombe" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brexit Minister Steve Baker at an annual &#39;weighing in&#39; ceremony in High Wycombe, 2013. Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Steve Baker</a> (CC-BY-2.0) </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The Cabinet Secretary has been asked to investigate the conduct of Brexit minister, <a href="">Steve Baker</a>, after an openDemocracy investigation revealed that he had undisclosed meetings with the European Research Group, an influential group of Conservative MPs who want a hard, no-deal exit from the European Union.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker, an arch Brexiteer, was chair of the ERG before being promoted last year into David Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union. But the Tory minister continues to play a leading role in the ERG, attending private meetings of the anti-EU group in Westminster and corresponding regularly with ERG members, including current chairman, Jacob Rees-Mogg.</p><p dir="ltr">In contravention of <a href="">ministerial rules</a>, none of these meetings nor Baker’s correspondence with ERG MPs has been included in transparency records published by DExEU.</p><p dir="ltr">Through a sequence of Freedom of Information requests sent to DExEU, and in discussions held with senior Whitehall sources, openDemocracy has established how Baker avoided publicly disclosing his continuing links with the ERG by claiming his attendance at their private events “were not in his capacity as a minister” and therefore did not need to be listed in quarterly disclosures of relevant meetings.</p><h2>'Reporting Brexit'</h2><p dir="ltr">At one ERG breakfast meeting held on October 17 last year in Terrace Dining Room C in Westminster, Baker was in the audience alongside twenty ERG MPs. The agenda of the meeting was ‘Reporting Brexit’.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-22 at 15.05.32.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-22 at 15.05.32.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="408" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A senior political journalist from a pro-Brexit newspaper gave a brief speech about his perceptions of the Brexit process so far. This was followed by a question-and-answer session. Baker did not speak but was described as “quietly attentive” by one attendee.</p><p dir="ltr">Also in attendance was Suella Braverman [<span>née</span>&nbsp;Fernandes] who chaired the ERG before being promoted in January this year to a ministerial role alongside Baker at DExEU. Braverman last year gave an embarrassing <a href="">interview</a> to Channel 4 News where she claimed the membership list of the ERG was publicly available, but then refused to give any details, effectively saying the make up of the ERG was known only to its members.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2017-09-08 at 16.57.51.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2017-09-08 at 16.57.51.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="340" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Suella Fernandes. Image, Channel4, fair use.</span></span></span></p><p>Baker’s appearance at this meeting was not disclosed as part of DExEU’s routine transparency obligations. Although the gathering was titled ‘Reporting Brexit’ and therefore clearly part of Baker’s ministerial territory, his officials nevertheless said he had not been attending “in his capacity as a DExEu minister.”</p><p dir="ltr">Within a few days of the ERG breakfast, there were renewed media <a href="">reports</a> that Theresa May needed to do more planning for a “no deal” Brexit.<br /><br />Of other events hosted by ERG over the last 18 months, DExEU would only confirm Baker had not attended as a “minister”.<br /><br />Officials also confirmed they held correspondence between Baker and MPs known to be members of the ERG. The department said the exchanges were private and did not have be disclosed, but insisted they were committed to transparency “wherever possible.”</p><p dir="ltr">Last year <a href="">openDemocracy revealed</a> that more than £250,000 of public money was being used to fund the ERG, an 80-strong private caucus of Tory MPs that is widely regarded as a party-within-a-party.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker is acknowledged as the ideologically-driven MP who turned the ERG from being an ignored backbench talking shop into a formidable group demanding a complete break with Europe and an end to what he called “the EU’s despotism”. They have also been described as holding Theresa May hostage over any attempts to water down Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">When Baker became a DExEu minister after the 2017 general election, the chair role was passed to Suella Braverman, an inexperienced MP. When she was promoted, Jacob Rees-Mogg took over. However, Baker is still regarded by many in the ERG as its behind-the-scenes driving force, with Rees-Mogg merely an effective public face.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">“This isn’t just a bend or a twist of the rules of the game. This is ignoring an established code.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ben Bradshaw, the former Culture Secretary in Gordon Brown’s Labour government, who has raised previous concerns about Baker, has written to Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, and to the permanent secretary at DExEU, Philip Rycroft, for an explanation.</p><p dir="ltr">Bradshaw told openDemocracy: “I wrote and tabled parliamentary questions for months about undisclosed meetings Mr Baker held with the controversial hard Brexit lobbying organisation, <a href="">Legatum</a>, which he failed to answer, only for it to be revealed that he indeed had numerous meetings with this organisation which he had not declared.”</p><p dir="ltr">Some Whitehall officials with knowledge of Baker’s movements and political associations are also “unhappy” about how the ministerial code is being applied inside Davis’s department. One told openDemocracy: “This isn’t just a bend or a twist of the rules of the game. This is ignoring an established code.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ministerial rules forbid membership of parliamentary groups, or the offer of formal support to pressure groups dependent on government funding. If a minister is discussing government business without an official being present, this has to be disclosed by their department.</p><p dir="ltr">The Labour MP Ian Murray, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign to hold a second referendum on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the EU, told openDemocracy: “Steve Baker’s behaviour raises serious questions about his conduct as a minister and reveals the political chaos and factionalism at the heart of the Government.”</p><p dir="ltr">Murray said that although Baker was taking a ministerial salary, he seemed to be playing factional games using public money. “It is remarkable that the Prime Minister lets this behaviour carry on. She is so politically trapped that she won’t act even when ministers are playing fast and loose with collective responsibility.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// to Philip Rycroft.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// to Philip Rycroft.jpg" alt="The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw's letter to Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union." title="" width="600" height="848" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-original_size" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw's letter to Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union.</span></span></span>Last month it emerged that Baker held undisclosed meetings with <a href="">Shankar Singham,</a> the former Washington lobbyist who reinvented himself as a trade economist and until recently ran a trade unit at the Legatum Institute.</p><p dir="ltr">Singham is now director of the international trade and competition unit at the Institute for Economic Affairs. He has said that a UK free of all trade ties with the EU could help boost the world economy by $2 trillion over the next 15 years. Many economists disagree.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite transparency rules intended to reveal who Baker, as a minister, was talking to, <a href="">Buzzfeed</a> reported that Baker and Singham had a number of meetings at Legatum’s Mayfair offices. DExEU claim Baker and Singham have been friends since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and as such their meetings have been ‘social’ and therefore outside disclosure regulations.</p><p dir="ltr">Baker is the only MP registered as having accepted a donation from the Constitutional Research Council, the shadowy group that gave the <a href="">DUP’s Brexit campaign</a> more than £425,000. In December 2016, the <a href="">CRC gave Baker £6,500</a> to “fund hospitality for ERG members and their staff” at a pre-Christmas event.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick/mps-demand-full-investigation-of-hard-brexit-backing-tory-party-within-par">MPs demand full investigation of hard-Brexit backing Tory &quot;party within a party&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/tory-ministers-taxpayer-cash-hard-Brexit-erg">MPs demand ‘urgent investigation’ into Cabinet ministers&#039; support for hard-Brexit lobby group</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy James Cusick Fri, 22 Jun 2018 15:55:11 +0000 James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy and Peter Geoghegan 118549 at England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - time for all to jump in to the debate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Pretending we can re-enact the Referendum tragedy with a different final act is monumental self-deception – instead we Welsh, Scots, and particularly English must ask – as the Irish have – who are we?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: The White Cliffs of Dover - the archetypal image of Britishness - or Englishness? Rights: <span>Immanuel Giel/Wikimedia, CC 3.0</span></em></p><p>The Britannic archipelago has seen two referendums in the last two years: the United Kingdom’s EU referendum in 2016 and the abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland in 2018. Both concerned profound existential issues. In both the combatants were divided, not just over the questions on the ballot papers, but over identity and meaning – over the weight of the past and its implications for the future. In both, voters had to ask themselves what sort of country they wanted to live in and what part they wanted it to play in the wider world. Both aroused strong passions; in both hope warred with fear, the future with the past. But there the similarities stop. One was a triumph; the other a tragedy.</p> <h2>‘Changed utterly’</h2> <p>The second referendum – the 2018 abortion referendum in Ireland – was the triumph. It signalled an astonishing break with the past history of the Irish Republic. When I first visited southern Ireland as a sixteen-year old schoolboy in 1950, the country was dirt poor: for the first time in my life I saw people begging in the streets. I didn’t then realise that the constitution of the Irish Republic privileged the Catholic Church over all other denominations; and that the Catholic church of Ireland was one of the most reactionary, intolerant and oppressive in Europe. It was still De Valera’s Ireland; and the preamble to De Valera’s constitution, adopted in 1937, explicitly stated that the people of Eire acknowledged ‘all our obligations to our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial’. A later article declared that the state recognised ‘the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of its citizens’. Other faiths – even the Jewish faith – were to be tolerated, but their adherents would be second-class citizens. </p> <p>Since then, Ireland has changed out of all recognition: ‘changed utterly’ to use Yeats’s famous phrase in his poem ‘Easter 1916’. Thanks in part to its entry into the then European Economic Community more than 40 years ago and its continuing membership of the European Union, it is now an outward-looking, tolerant and comparatively prosperous country, It has had two female Presidents, one of them born in Northern Ireland; Irish commissioners have played constructive parts in European Union politics; the current Taoiseach is an openly gay man of mixed race. Garett Fitzgerald, as Taoiseach and as Brussels Commissioner, was a figure of European significance. Against that background, the result of the recent abortion referendum is less surprising than it seems at first sight. By a large majority, the Irish people voted for hope and the future: for empathy, compassion and human dignity. In doing so, they were voting to take a giant step along a path they had been following for decades.</p> <p>The contrast between the Irish vote of 2018 and the United Kingdom vote of 2016 is astonishing. By a narrow majority of 52% to 48% of those voting (and 37% of those eligible to vote) the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union after forty-three years of membership. This was the tragedy. It was a tragedy of fact: an act of national self-harm unparalleled in European history since France surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940. It was also a tragedy of behaviour. The Leave campaigners, from Boris Johnson to Nigel Farage to David Davis to David Owen to Gisela Stuart to Chris Grayling to the ludicrous Jacob Rees Mogg plumbed depths of ignominy not seen in the United Kingdom since the anti-Jacobin panic of the late-eighteenth century.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The contest between a vision and a bank statement was no contest.&nbsp;</p><div>But, to put it at its lowest, the Remain campaigners did not exactly cover themselves with glory. David Cameron’s campaign during the Referendum debate was not just lacklustre; it was positively comatose. The mixture of frivolity and arrogance – the stigmata of an Etonian education – which had marked his entire political career cast a blight on the Remain campaign. The ‘Leavers’ offered a bogus vision of re-born grandeur, but it was at least a vision. The ‘Remainers’ offered a glorified bank statement. Virtually no one made the moral, cultural and emotional case for the European project – the case that inspired the founding fathers of the European Community like Monnet, Spaak, De Gasperi and Schuman. The contest between a vision and a bank statement was no contest.</div> <h2><span>Divided Kingdom</span></h2> <p>The 2016 EU Referendum was only the third UK-wide Referendum in British history. In 1975 the Wilson Government called a Referendum on the question of continued British membership of the then European Community. In 2011 a Referendum took place on the possible introduction of the Alternative Vote in place of the traditional First-Past-the-Post British system. Both these Referendums yielded massive majorities for the <em>status quo</em>; in both cases the results were virtually identical across the Kingdom. The 2016 EU Referendum turned these precedents upside down. The Scots and the people of Northern Ireland voted ‘Remain’; the English and Welsh voted ‘Leave’. The implications are explosive. A plebiscite called on the assumption that the United Kingdom is a homogeneous polity revealed a yawning chasm dividing the British state and people against themselves. The United Kingdom has never been a unitary state, but it has been a union state. Now it is a disunited state – a ‘Divided Kingdom’ as the Welsh commentator and polemicist John Osborne once called it. </p> <p>The implications go wide – far wider than the political class, administrative elite and commentariat in the Westminster-Whitehall bubble realise or could reasonably be expected to realise. There, the ancient doctrine promulgated by the great Victorian jurist A.V. Dicey more than a century ago – the doctrine that the ‘the absolute legislative supremacy or despotism of the King in Parliament’ was ‘the very keystone of the constitution’ – still holds sway. (Manifestly, Dicey’s ‘King’ was English.) For Enoch Powell, who rephrased Dicey’s doctrine 80 years later, the essence of Englishness lay in the English acceptance of ‘the unlimited supremacy of Crown in Parliament so naturally as not to be aware of it’.</p> <p>If Dicey and Powell were right, the devolution statutes that set up a Parliament in Scotland and Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland – together with administrations responsible to those bodies – are so many weasel words. Either the (English) Crown in Parliament is absolutely sovereign or it’s not. If it is, then the devolved assemblies and administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are constitutional phantoms – playpens for Peter Pan-like political children who won’t grow up. If it isn’t, then the London-centred elites must sooner or later come to terms with a reality they have denied ever since the devolution statutes were passed. In practice, it hardly needs saying, neither of these things has happened. In time-honoured British fashion, fudge – thick, gooey, sticky, but unappetising fudge – has been the order of the day. In the Soviet bloc, before the collapse of Communism, there was a saying: ‘They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work’. In twenty-first century Britain, the equivalent has been: ‘They pretend to lead, and we pretend to follow’. </p> <p>No longer. Thanks to the EU Referendum, the fudge has melted. Like an acrid smog, the assumptions spawned by the Dicey-Powell constitution hang in the air of Westminster and Whitehall, but in the rest of the Kingdom it commands, at most, reluctant acceptance. Worthies ranging from George Soros to Tony Blair to Nick Clegg have argued that, if the British people so wished, Britain could return to the <em>status quo </em>as it existed before the Referendum. Their argument doesn’t hold water. The Referendum result was a child of that <em>status quo. </em>We are where we are. It’s not a good place: the Soroses, Blairs and Cleggs are right about that. But pretending that we can somehow re-enact the Referendum tragedy, only with a new and comforting final act, is self-deception on a monumental scale. What the Referendum has done is to bring us – ‘us’ being the varied, sometimes quarrelsome peoples of the four nations of the United Kingdom – face to face with the profound existential questions that the Irish people faced in their long transition from reactionary clericalism to tolerant and open-minded modernity. </p> <p>The questions are obvious. Who are we? What does ‘we’ mean in a state that encompasses four different nations? Where have ‘we’ come from? What diverse and contested histories have shaped ‘us’? Where are ‘we’ going – and where do ‘we’ want to go? The answers are a different matter. Self-evidently, they can never be final. History is not determinate. There are no iron laws of social or economic or political change, as Marxist-Leninists in their heyday, and triumphalist liberals after the fall of Communism, all imagined. But that doesn’t mean that the questions shouldn’t be asked. ‘We’ – whether British, English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish – need a wide-ranging, no-holds-barred debate about our several and collective identities, including our identities as Europeans, separated from the rest of our continent by only a few miles of salt water. </p> <p>But identities are tricky things. They are always plural, not singular. They are fluid, multifarious and heterogeneous. Individual identities often clash with group identities; religious identities with national identities; national identities with class identities; the identities of hitherto dominant nations with those of hitherto subordinate nations struggling for a place in the sun. They shift through time and space, as circumstances change. It is possible to be, at one and the same time, a father, a husband, a great-grandfather, a Cardiffian by birth, an Oxonian by education, a would-be historian, a poetry-lover, a dyspraxic, a former journalist, a member of Plaid Cymru, a graduate of the intensely competitive joint services Russian course and a rolling stone for whom the grass is always greener in the next field. I should know: I am all of these things myself. </p> <p>Muslim Welshmen and women, Muslim Englishmen and women and, for that matter. Muslim Frenchmen and women are not only Muslims. They carry a variety of other identities, which may matter more to them when national or ethnic questions are not involved. Attempts to force complex, many sided identities into a single, all-encompassing box are profoundly dangerous. The vicious quarrels between Sunni and Shia Muslims; between ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews in Jerusalem and cosmopolitan entrepreneurs, entertainers and writers in Tel Aviv; and between the Hindu extremists of India’s BJP and the essentially social-democratic Congress Party are all examples. </p> <p>Through that prism, the history of the British state looks very different from the picture painted by the great Whig historians and whiggish political leaders of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The history of what we now think of as Britain is one of relentless English expansion at the expense of the non-English peoples of the Britannic archipelago. Anglo-Saxon warriors landed on the shores of what is now England in the early fifth century CE. During eight long centuries, culminating in the killing of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last Welsh Prince of Wales in 1282, English conquerors gradually subjugated the native Welsh and drove them into the inhospitable uplands of what English speakers call Wales and Welsh speakers call Cymru. (It is not for nothing that <em>Lloegr, </em>the Welsh word for England, means ‘the lost land’.) </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">The island of Ireland has been a grumbling appendix in the entrails of the British state for centuries&nbsp;</p> <p>Ireland was treated at least as harshly as Wales, but her would-be English conquerors never subjugated her completely. The island of Ireland has been a grumbling appendix in the entrails of the British state for centuries; in a huge variety of different guises an ‘Irish Question’ has haunted London governments from William III to Gladstone and from Asquith to Theresa May. Despite incursions by Edward I and Oliver Cromwell, Scotland fought off her Sassenach would-be conquerors. Not surprisingly, the Act of Union of 1707 which incorporated Scotland and England into the new polity of Great Britain met surly resistance in Scotland.</p> <h2>Scotland defiant</h2> <p>&nbsp;English predominance in the Britannic isles is an inescapable reality, but that does not mean that their non-English peoples have welcomed it, or even accepted it. Myths, legends, poems and songs have burnished memories and kindled hopes of emancipation from the English elephant in the British room. Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, celebrated in countless Burns’ nights, is the best exemplar of Scottish memories of resistance to their over-mighty (or perhaps just over-weight) southern neighbour. The great Scottish historian Tom Devine believes that William Wallace, the chief hero of the Scottish War of Independence against Edward I, ‘represented the spirit of the common man striving for freedom against oppression’. Burns’s immortal lines contain the gist of the story:</p> <blockquote><p>Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,</p><p>Scots wham Bruce has often led;</p><p>Welcome to your gory bed,</p><p>Or to victory!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;</p><p>See the front o’ battle lour;</p><p>See approach proud Edward’s power – </p><p>Chains and slavery!</p><p>Wha will be a traitor knave?</p><p>Wha can fill a coward’s grave!</p><p>Wha sae base as be a slave?</p><p>Let him turn and flee!</p></blockquote> <p>Against that background, Scotland’s ‘Remain’ vote in the EU Referendum is not just explicable; it was predictable. The Scots are not English and don’t want to be English. Scottish intellectuals and political leaders can draw on a long, proud history of resistance to English pretensions and of involvement in European social, cultural and economic life. Memories of the medieval ‘auld alliance’ between Scotland and France still linger north of the Border. The Scottish Enlightenment of David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson is one of the most glittering chapters in the history of European civilisation. Until the early nineteenth century, England had only two universities; Scotland had four. Commentators south of the Border are apt to peddle the notion that present-day Scottish nationalism is merely utilitarian and not existential. This is patronising nonsense.</p> <p>Northern Ireland’s ‘Remain’ majority was less straightforward than Scotland’s. Catholics voted overwhelmingly for ‘Remain’, irrespective of income or location. Protestants were divided, essentially along class lines. The better-off and better-educated were for ‘Remain’, the worse-off and less educated for ‘Leave’. Sinn Féin and Sinn Féin voters were for ‘Remain’; the hard-line Protestant DUP and DUP voters were for ‘Leave’. The deep divisions in the province, which go back to the partition of Ireland in 1921, were still alive and well. As Michel Barnier, David Davis, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar have all discovered, they still are. </p> <h2>Wales forever</h2> <p>&nbsp;The Welsh story is more complicated. In simple numerical terms, the English ‘Leave’ majority was so big that a Welsh vote to remain would have made no difference to the result. But if Wales <em>had </em>voted ‘Remain’ all three of the non-English nations of the United Kingdom would have been on the opposite side from England. The centrifugal forces which have been immanent in the structure and politics of United Kingdom since the nineteenth century are stronger now than I can remember. A sharp fissure between England and all three of her non-English neighbours would have given them a powerful boost. So Wales matters. </p> <p>But it matters in a special way. Welsh history, and the political culture that that history reflects and sustains, have something in common with Scotland’s, but the differences are greater than the similarities. Whereas the unofficial Scottish national anthem, ‘Scots wha hae’, evokes memories of Scottish victories in long-distant battles, the Welsh equivalent focuses on the land of Wales, the culture it has bred and the warriors who died defending it – often unsuccessfully. </p> <blockquote><p>Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi</p><p>Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;</p><p>Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gywladgarwyr tra mad,</p><p>Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.</p><p>[The old land of my fathers is dear to me,</p><p>Land of bards and singers, famous men of renown;</p><p>Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,</p><p>For freedom shed their blood.]</p></blockquote> <p>The nearest Welsh equivalent to the Scottish heroes, Wallace and Bruce, is Owain Glyn Dwr (Shakespeare’s Owen Glendower). Early in the fifteenth century Glyn Dwr rose in revolt against English rule. Welshmen of all classes, from the gentry to the clergy to the landless poor rallied to his cause. He proclaimed himself ‘prince of Wales’; several Welsh castles, including Harlech, Aberystwyth and Cardiff fell to his forces; and for a brief, but brilliant moment, it looked as if he would become the ruler of an independent Wales. He summoned a parliament to his capital at Machynlleth, the first that Wales had known, and made alliances with France, Scotland and Castile. In the end the revolt was crushed, and Glyn Dwr’s fellow countrymen were savagely repressed. But his memory lived on. The great Welsh historian, John Davies, called him ‘the chief hero of the Welsh people’; Sir Rees Davies, sometime Chichele Professor of Medieval History at Oxford, saw him as a symbol of the hope ‘deep in the hearts of the Welsh that they might some day gain the right to live in an independent country, governing themselves’.</p> <p>Yet the cruel truth is that, whereas Bruce and Wallace defeated the English invaders, Glyn Dwr’s revolt against English oppression failed disastrously. Conquered Wales stayed conquered. Under Henry VIII, two statutes passed by the English Parliament and known eventually as Acts of Union, rubbed Welsh noses in the conquered status of their country with astonishing brutality. Wales was absorbed by England. She was divided into counties on the English model and given representation in the English Parliament. One of the statutes declared, in so many words, that Wales was for ever ‘incorporated, united and annexed to’ the ‘realm of England’. To drive the message home, it decreed that the Welsh language was not to be used in Welsh law courts and that monoglot Welsh speakers – at that time the vast majority of the Welsh people – were ineligible for public office. An infamous entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the early twentieth century – ‘for Wales, see England’ – showed that the mindset which had inspired Henry VIII’s Acts of Union was still alive and well. </p> <p>Devolution, involving the creation of a Welsh Assembly or Senedd, with a Welsh government accountable to it, has softened the rigours of Henry VIII’ s legislation. In a host of ways, Wales has become more Welsh than it was when I was a boy. The dragon flag is omnipresent; street signs are in Welsh as well as English; train announcements are in both languages. If you drive across the Severn bridge from England into Wales, you will see a sign ‘Croeso i Gymru’ (‘welcome to Wales’.) Shop-fronts announce that they are open every day in Welsh as well as in English (often with Welsh first and English second). In the 1964 general election, I stood as Labour candidate for Barry – a South Wales port west of Cardiff – and I still remember one of the party activists saying: ‘Wales for the Welsh and Glamorgan for us!’ It was probably a joke, but I can’t imagine anyone saying anything like that today. Just one example: Barry now boasts an enormous Waitrose, replete with signs in both languages.</p> <p>Yet Wales voted as England did. The great question is, why? Part of the explanation is economic. The Welsh mining valleys, whose black gold once powered the navies of the world and transformed Cardiff from a glorified village to a ‘coal metropolis’ are now impoverished and desolate. But desolation is only part of the story. Some time ago, well before the EU Referendum, my wife and I went to a meeting in Pontypridd, in the heart of the Rhondda valley. It had been arranged by the Welsh branch of the Royal Society of Arts; the attendees were ‘social entrepreneurs’. They were not impoverished themselves. They were good citizens, committed to the welfare of their communities. Some were trade unionists, some were small employers, some worked in the public sector. And virtually all of them were disconnected from and contemptuous of the institutions of governance and formal politics. They had no time for the local authority, the Welsh government, the London government, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats or even Plaid Cymru. A young woman attendee told me that, when she went to Cardiff, a few miles away, she felt ‘stigmatised’ because of her Rhondda accent. Given all this the ‘Leave’ majority in the local authority area covering the Rhondda valley was as predictable as Scotland’s vote to remain. But I don’t think my Pontypridd acquaintances were voting against the European project, the European ideal or even the European Union as such. They were seizing a heaven-sent opportunity to deliver a costless kick in the pants to the faceless, alien institutions which had failed them and their community. They were right to lash out; the tragedy is that they chose the wrong target. </p> <h2>England – or ‘Greater Wales’</h2> <p>England remains; and England is the most variegated and complex of the four nations of the United Kingdom. She was the tinder box of the ‘Leave’ campaign, and the heartland of the ‘Leave’ majority. In some ways England is a greater Wales. The ex-mining areas in the Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire coalfields are full of English versions of Pontypridd and they voted as Pontypridd voted. But that is only part of the story, and not the most important part. Since ‘Leave’ won with English votes, and since the ‘Leave’ victory was both narrow and unexpected, most writing about the Referendum result has focussed on England and the English. Most commentators have assumed that the English ‘Leave’ majority was in some sense extraordinary: and that the explanation must be extraordinary as well. Candidates include the long-standing, arrogant English tendency to use the words ‘England’ and ‘Britain’ as if they were interchangeable; the myopia and amnesia of the Anglo-British elites whose members have viewed the British state as their property; and the corruption and mendacity of successive British governments, evidenced by the parliamentary expenses scandal and above all by the Iraq War. </p> <p>These charges are valid, but they miss the inconvenient truth that, for centuries, England’s ‘other’ has been the European mainland. John Milton, the poet and propagandist-in-chief of the seventeenth-century English revolution claimed that God had revealed himself ‘as His manner is, first to His Englishmen’. Shakespeare’s famous hymn to England as a ‘precious stone set in the silver sea’ which protected it from ‘the envy of less happier lands’ comes from the same stable. (The ‘less happier lands’ were the rest of the European continent.) Most evocative of all are the first and last verses of Blake’s <em>Jerusalem</em>. The poem is an extraordinary mélange of mysticism and patriotism: the reference to the ‘feet in ancient time’ draws on a legend that Jesus visited England in his youth. Significantly it has become the nearest approximation to a national anthem that England knows.</p> <blockquote><p>And did those feet in ancient time </p><p>Walk upon England’s mountains green?</p><p>And was the holy Lamb of God</p><p>On England’s pleasant pastures seen?... </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I will not cease from Mental fight</p><p>Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand</p><p>Till we have built Jerusalem</p><p>In England’s green and pleasant land.</p></blockquote><p>In all of these, the message is clear: England is a special, providential nation: a nation with a unique history and a unique vocation; a nation summoned by a higher power to pursue a uniquely glorious mission.</p> <p>On a more mundane level, English exceptionalism has shaped British attitudes to the European project since the end of the Second World War. When the Council of Europe was established in the late-1940s, Ernest Bevin warned, ‘If you open that Trojan horse, you’ll find it’s full of Pandora’s boxes’. When United Kingdom was invited to join the Coal and Steel community in the early 1950s, the Government refused because, as Herbert Morrison put it, ‘the Durham miners wouldn’t wear it’. A decade later, the <em>echt </em>Englishman and Labour Leader Hugh Gaitskell made a passionate speech at the Labour Party conference opposing entry to the then European Economic Community, on the preposterous grounds that it would mean ‘the end of a thousand years of history’.</p> <p>In the end, Britain did join the European Community, which soon morphed into the European Union. But she has been a reluctant, half-hearted and fractious member. The long reign of Margaret Thatcher, as <em>echt</em> an English woman as Gaitskell had been an Englishman, furnishes plenty of examples. Her belligerent insistence on getting ‘her own money back’ is one. Another is her wild outburst, ‘No, no, no’ when she learned that Jacques Delors, then Commission President, had said he wanted the Commission to be the European executive, the European Parliament to be Europe’s elected body and the Council of Ministers its Senate. </p> <p>The long history of ‘opt-outs’, wilful misunderstandings and genuine incomprehension which has been a <em>leitmotiv </em>of Britain’s EU membership is less dramatic, but more revealing. John Major, another <em>echt </em>Englishman, once said he wanted Britain to be ‘at the heart’ of Europe. The truth is that Britain, or rather Anglo-Britain (or perhaps Brito-England) has never been anywhere near the heart of Europe. David Cameron’s witless ‘re-negotiation’ exercise, which preceded the EU referendum, is a particularly striking case in point. The re-negotiation produced nothing of substance; such changes as followed weakened the Union instead of strengthening it.</p> <p>So where do we go from here? England is the problem: if there is to be a solution, it will have to be English. Anthony Barnett has wrestled with this in <em>The Lure of Greatness</em>. The path to a solution is littered with paradoxes. The Dicey/ Powell constitutional orthodoxy has impinged on England as least as damagingly as on the non-English nations of the kingdom – perhaps more so. There are four legislatures in the United Kingdom. Those in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast deal with specifically Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish questions. But the London Parliament is both the English Parliament and the Parliament of the entire Kingdom. England – a nation of some 50 million inhabitants – has no Parliament of her own. </p> <p>The question is, why? The answer lies deep in the cerebral cortex of the Anglo-British political class. For most of their histories, the London-centred elite saw the non-English nations of the Kingdom as colonies. They were governed tactfully and even sympathetically, with due regard to local traditions and ways of life. But in the last resort they were fiefdoms of the British state. Devolution was an <em>ad hoc </em>device – or rather a series of <em>ad hoc </em>devices – designed to keep the natives happy. There was no over-arching plan, still less a coherent constitutional doctrine. Muddle and mess prevailed. No one asked the fundamental question of how, in principle, power should be shared by area. Scotland got a Parliament; Wales and Northern Ireland got Assemblies. Given all this, it’s not surprising that England got nothing. For the London-centred elite, England was a colony too. But it was too big and awkward a colony for self-government. </p> <p class="mag-quote-center">For the London-centred elite, England was a colony too. But it was too big and awkward a colony for self-government.&nbsp;</p> <p>Only the people of England – the ‘secret people of England’ as Chesterton called them – can solve the English problem. In management-speak, they will have to ‘own’ the solution; and to ‘own’ it they will have to shape it. The Scottish Constitutional Convention that paved the way for Scottish devolution offers a model. It stimulated a wide-ranging, sometimes passionate debate through which the Scottish people found themselves and reached a consensus about their political future. Citizens’ Juries, and even Citizens’ Assemblies, as used in parts of Canada, offer a complementary model. A solution would have to include is a codified constitution, with an English Parliament alongside the existing legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and an elected Senate in place of the swollen and quintessentially anti-democratic House of Lords. But constitutions are only words on paper. What matter are the values they embody and transmit. The real question is whether England’s political culture and traditions are rich and diverse enough to enable Chesterton’s secret people to discover (or perhaps re-discover) the compassion and generosity of spirit that the Irish displayed in their abortion referendum. </p> <p>By definition, we can’t know the answer. But the England of frivolous Etonians, the swollen House of Lords and the London-based elite is not the only England. Looming in the wings is the unbiddable, stubborn, sometimes quirky England of Milton, Thomas Paine, William Cobbett, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sylvia Pankhurst, R.H. Tawney and George Orwell. That second England – the England that, in Tawney’s famous phrase, scorned the first England’s ‘servile respect for wealth and social position’ – could yet set England alight, as Ireland was set alight during the abortion referendum campaign. But this won’t happen of its own accord. The ‘heavy dough of the English’ that fascinated and exasperated de Gaulle is still pretty heavy. Only argument, debate, discussion, engagement and social learning can turn the trick. Let battle commence! `&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="/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">Why Brexit won’t work: the EU is about regulation not sovereignty </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk David Marquand Fri, 22 Jun 2018 14:54:15 +0000 David Marquand 118552 at Why Brexit won’t work: the EU is about regulation not sovereignty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brexiteers like Boris Johnson inhabit an outdated form of sovereignty. A new realm of power - regulation - demands shared authority and is the EU's greatest achievement. Britain helped create it and can't leave it.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="328" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em><span>Regulation, reinforced by human rights, has become a new sphere of government. It is now as essential to modern society as executive power, legislative authority and courts of law. The way we experience this is also novel. It does not stem from the influence of politicians, the role of authority whether national or local, or fear of justice. These familiar locations of power continue, but a new force has joined them as our intimate lives have become strangely politicised, from our health and diet to our metadata. The famous frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan shows the people inhabiting the ruler. Today, rules have entered the bodies of citizens - and we want to know who is in charge of them and whether they enhance or imprison us.</span></em></p><p class="AB">Brexit forces into the open this change, which has been underway since the 1970s. In the UK, those who support Leave have failed to understand the epochal significance of its development, while those who back Remain have failed to articulate it. The European Commission too, does not grasp its centrality. Brussels as well as Brexiteers are captives of 20th century notions of sovereignty and its unsustainable illusions of grandeur - illusions that are now being tested to their destruction, most immediately with Brexit. </p> <p class="AB">I stumbled across its significance and am only beginning to get a measure of it. Denunciation of the EU’s over-regulation was the starting point of the long campaign against British membership. Now, a revealing <a href="">analysis</a> in openDemocracy reports staggeringly high rates of popular support in the UK for European levels of regulation. They run at between 70-80% - incorporating large majorities of those who voted to Leave. While the big boys bang on about sovereignty, regular people, women somewhat more than men, prefer regulation. Brexit has a weird, old-fashioned veneer because it is so male-dominated and self-important, giving the issue its end of epoch feel. The campaign against it risks being drawn into similar routines and perhaps recognising the centrality of regulation can help prevent this.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Brexit has a weird, old-fashioned veneer because it is so male-dominated and self-important</p> <p class="AB">The significance of regulation came home to me when I recently attended a meeting with a senior member of the Cabinet who is an influential Brexiteer. The UK government will leave the EU, he said confidently, and no longer submit to the ECJ, the European Court of Justice. However, it would seek “association agreements” with respect to nuclear materials, air travel, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and chemicals. Such agreements would have ECJ oversight. All international agreements necessitated arbitration, he told us, helpfully. The rules would be accepted at every point in the production process. When someone said such ongoing arrangements would come at a high cost, he nodded assent. In effect, the Brexiteer told us, all our manufacturing needs to be within the aegis of the EU’s regulated space. </p><p class="AB">Shortly after, <em>Open Europe</em>, which is directed by Brexit supporting Henry Newman who once worked for Michael Gove, published <a href="">Striking a Balance</a>, a report that recommends an across-the-board agreement on these lines. Its justification: “The EU is our most important goods’ market and the most highly-regulated sectors – electrical, automobiles, and chemicals – are the areas which we trade most with the EU and are growing the fastest”. Unlike Boris Johnson, who I'll come to in a moment, Brexiteers who study the evidence <em>want</em> the UK to be in the Single Market for goods. The government <a href="">will apply</a> “to stay in the European standards system for industry products and services”.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Brexiteers who study the evidence&nbsp;want&nbsp;the UK to be in the Single Market for goods</p> <p class="AB">It is easy enough to ask, as we should, what, then, is the point of Brexit? Another <a href="">good question</a> is whether the EU will agree to the request. I want to ask why even passionate Brexiteers now see no way out of the EU’s regulated space, certainly in traded goods. The crux of the answer is that that there is no way out of regulation. </p><p class="AB">By regulation I don’t just mean high profile financial regulation. I mean its ongoing, background role in ensuring the quality of the air we breathe, the medicines we take, the food we consume and the safety of the flights we board. You could undertake the enormous costs of building custom checks for goods going between the UK from the EU. But what is the point, if you then have to recreate and duplicate inside the UK the entire apparatus of regulations, with their ongoing autonomy from parliamentary 'sovereignty'? The idea that once the UK left the EU Britain could ‘do away’ with regulation from Brussels, because it is mostly unnecessary, has proven to be an utter fantasy. Britain’s wannabe Donald Trump, Nigel Farage,&nbsp;<a href="">told</a> the BBC, “We will finish up perhaps in an even worse place than we are now because we won’t be free to de-regulate”. But no modern democracy would wish to deregulate. It is not the road to freedom. And as the UK government is learning, public opinion will not let it deregulate. This is a fundamental lesson of Brexit. </p> <p class="AB">In the UK, a horrible aspects of these dire, Brexit-times is impatience, shallowness and lack of reflection. I want to resist this and examine an activity which may seem petty and irritating but isn’t. A misconception needs to be undone, an everyday prejudice that certainly has me in its grip, and has blinded us to a reality that cannot be escaped. To comprehend why I will start with a glance at the conceptual inheritance embedded in the notion of sovereignty itself. It makes for a long article but the reward is that I will show it is impossible to ‘take back control’ in the way the Leave campaign promised. They are living in the past. It is desirable and possible for countries to retain lots of democratic legislative, executive and judicial independence within the European Union. But with respect to the new, fourth branch of government we are <em>hard-wired</em> into a union of regulation. Something that is also, and not incidentally, to our huge mutual, personal and bodily benefit.</p> <h2><strong>The separation of powers </strong></h2> <p class="AB">The dominant, early modern justifications of state power, from to Bodin to Hobbes, were concerned with the absolute nature of sovereignty, how to justify it, exercise it and ensure consent. In the eighteenth century the concept of the separation of powers was developed, most notably by Montesquieu. He looked at the nature of government not from the point of view of the ruler but from that of property owners. They needed good, strong government to ensure their rights. They also needed to preserve their privileges from the danger of such government becoming a tyranny over them. Montesquieu's solution was to elaborate on the way government involves three forms of activity: the legislative, the executive and the judicial, and to argue that their seperate autonomy was essential for the preservation of liberty. Each would check the others and thereby protect society from arbitrary power. Thus the executive (whether a monarch or those ruling in a monarch’s name) could not tax or expropriate except with the agreement of the parliament or assembly and only then within the rule of law. </p> <p class="AB">Recognisably modern, republican claims that there ought to be independent authorities within the realm were not new. Section IV of the Leveller’s <em>Agreement of the People</em>, lists “reserved” or “native” rights such as freedom to worship and equality before the law – rights that its proposed elected parliament could not alter. At the end of the eighteenth century the separation of the three functions of government were famously institutionalised in America’s pioneering constitution. Abroad, as ‘Commander in Chief’, the president had the military powers of a king. But at home his executive authority was circumscribed by both the independence of the legislature in Congress and the arbitration of the law by the Supreme Court. (Today, when Trump <a href="">claims</a> he has the absolute right to pardon himself, he seeks to resurrect a monarchical authority which still casts its shadow across America’s founding document.) </p> <p class="AB">The extreme nature of the separation of powers in the United States proved exceptional. Even there, they overlap and interact. Congress approves presidential appointments to the Supreme Court. Currently it does so on party lines and as a consequence the court has become politicised - in effect its independence is diminished more than in many European constitutions. </p> <p class="AB">The practical reality of the three functions became the matrix for describing other law-based systems. In Britain, Bagehot, in his famous mid-nineteenth century account of what he called <em>The English Constitution</em>, praised the efficient way the Cabinet “<em>fused</em>” executive and legislative power, so that members of the legislature exercised executive government. The legacy of this <em>undivided&nbsp;</em>sovereignty remains central to the trauma of the Brexit referendum. In practical terms, the Victorians feared the consequences of the all-powerful fusion, should the extension of the franchise bring the unwashed to power. They ensured the independence of the executive arm by creating a permanent civil service that could not be replaced by an incoming government. But the mentality of parliamentary absolutism defined the horizons of the British system. In 1885, in what became its defining tome,&nbsp;<em>The Law of the Constitution</em>, A.V. Dicey described it as 'the despotism of the King in Parliament". He summarised a tradition that goes back to Hobbes, whose Leviathan in the same famous frontispiece holds the public sword "unconstrained". To this day this remains, "<a href="">the very definition of sovereignty</a>" in the United Kingdom. We have not left centuries of history behind us. </p><p>Not so in most of Europe, where the earlier tradition of constrained power re-emerged in the codified constitutions of the later 20th century, creating a tide of protection and extending the rights of citizens. In a grim <a href="">article</a> in Prospect, Vernon Bogdanor analyses and laments the UK's looming loss of rights if it abandons the "protected" constitutional model of the EU to revert back to Hobbes. It is a traditional argument well put but insufficient. Today, we are surrounded by a new kind of agencies that do not oversee the exercise of power, judge who breaks the law or administer the armed forces or public services. Instead they regulate. </p><p>If you embrace the Hobbesian, Westminster notion of the state, as Brexiteers do, then power is zero-sum. Either one has it or the other does. In contrast, the powers of regulation are an exercise in mutual collaboration with the aim of collective gain. The process is win-win not win-loose. For for the&nbsp;Anglo-British this cannot define the nature of power, for sovereignty <em>cannot</em>&nbsp;be shared it can only be singular. There are endless examples of this taken-for-granted assumption across the commentariat, both Remainers and Leavers. To take an example at random, <span>Oliver Wiseman, the editor of <span class="MsoHyperlink"><a href="">CapX website</a></span>, says he </span><span><span>prefers</span> "the return of powers from an undemocratic supranational organisation to a democratic national government”. The assumption: that power is something you have or do not have and can be returned. But in many fields there is no such possibility. The power of regulation resides in relationships that are negotiated. The process needs to be democratised but it can't be 'returned'. The underlying premise of Brexit does not hold. Which is why Brexit does not mean Brexit.</span></p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">The power of regulation resides in the relationships that are negotiated. How this happens needs to be democratised but they can't be 'returned'. The underlying premise of Brexit does not hold.</span></p> <h2><strong>The rise and nature of regulation</strong></h2> <p class="AB">I owe much of my thinking about what has happened to Frank Vibert, author <em><a href="">The Rise of the Unelected</a></em> and <em><a href="">The New Regulatory Space</a>, <a href="">Reframing Democratic Governance</a></em>. He describes how over the last half-century unelected bodies, from economic regulators, to science and medical councils, and now digital watchdogs, backed by a new range of auditors and ‘risk managers’, have proliferated. Democracies need regulation for a wide variety of reasons that have grown out of an increasingly complex, science-based, long-range market-place. New relationships are being created between the state and the market, while ethical questions of safety, accountability, privacy and consumer and employee rights have emerged. The internet and the explosion of digital platforms has intensified the process greatly.</p> <p class="AB">Regulation goes back to the first British Factory Acts. It was strongly developed in the USA in the New Deal to rein in business. In 1991, Cass Sunstein wrote a pioneering account of this in <em>After the Rights Revolution, Reconceiving the Regulatory Space</em> and attempted to set out legal principles to govern regulation within the framework of the US constitution. This year, Paul Tucker, who was deputy director of the Bank of England, published a massive, thoughtful account, <em><a href=";productType=0">Unelected Power: the quest for legitimacy in central banking and the regulatory state</a>.</em> He argues that it is dangerous for democracy if regulation over-reaches itself to become a fourth branch of government and he sets out principles to ensure it remains accountable. His arguments are echoed by David Currie, outgoing chairman of the <a href="">Competition and Markets Authority</a>. In a <a href="">valedictory lecture</a> he emphasised how its regulatory power is wholly independent of parliament and ministers and is deployed “even when no one is breaking the law” to investigate whole markets (such as the price and practice of <a href="">funerals</a>). Yet because its authority is set out by parliament and subject to judicial review, Currie sees it as subordinate to the traditional structures. </p> <p class="AB">This is arguably true for high-profile regulators taking specific decisions with what Ed Balls <a href=";v=eiM2WLRXDPA">calls</a> “first order distributional consequences”. But even if they are answerable to elected politicians they govern their specific domains independently and continuously, outside the legislature and executive. <em>The New Regulatory Space </em>is detailed and pathbreaking<em>. </em>Vibert shows that in addition to its high profile role there is now such a wide use of regulation it can no longer be regarded as a subordinate activity deployed to address specific issues. Instead, regulation, “needs to be seen as a system... the regulatory space performs a role of social coordination as basic as those provided in other domains.” </p> <p class="AB">A parallel example would be the way ‘cyber-space’ has now added a new dimension to land, sea and air, without replacing them. We live in the same physical world as the twentieth century but not in the same way.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Regulation has become a parallel form of authority over how we live.</p><p class="AB">Regulation has become a parallel form of authority over how we live. This has enormous dangers. We now need to ensure it answers to citizens democratically; which in turn presents a new kind of constitutional challenge that will not be met by traditional political responses. Otherwise, our democracy, such as it is, could be replaced by hi-tech dependency that subordinates us to a networked ‘social-credit’ regime of the kind being pioneered in China to pre-empt democracy there. </p> <p class="AB">With the danger comes the possibility of a more human, decentralised self-government. That is for the future. Here, I simply want to examine what it means in the present; starting with three perspectives: that of the law, for a single industry and for us as individuals. </p> <h2><strong>A view from the bench</strong></h2> <p>In March, Ian Forrester, a member of the General Court of the European Union since 2015, gave the <a href="">MacFadyen lecture</a> in Edinburgh. He addressed the consequences of Brexit on “the technical regulation of our daily lives” from a judge’s point of view. I am going to quote from his lecture at some length. He provides an exemplary summary of how in the EU, “The research, consultation, debate, and decision making are done collectively, usually involving expert agencies or committees”. his account shows the dynamic, continuous nature of regulation in fast-changing environment: </p> <blockquote><p>Independent EU agencies are responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals, food safety, security, animal feed, maritime safety, aviation and many other topics. The agencies are located in… cities across the EU. The extent of the responsibility of each agency varies but each of them is engaged in enforcement, investigation and other regulatory actions. These agencies employ experts and produce recommendations or opinions. These technical recommendations are then considered as policy and political questions by the Member States who try after debate to reach a common position… Thousands of individual problems arise on subjects such as food safety, customs, health, environment, data substances, privacy, animal welfare, private international law and the rest. These debates are resolved within the technical committees… there are scores, maybe hundreds, of technical or advisory committees staffed by national experts. The purpose of these mechanisms is to help form and implement the language of the legislation — making it work in the real world…. As technology has advanced and as technical choices have become more sophisticated, an ever wider and deeper mass of regulation has emerged. The CBI has estimated that the roles of 34 EU agencies will need to be replicated in the UK to perform for the UK the elaboration of technical regulations parallel to those currently produced under the auspices of the EU…</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">As of the date of a Brexit, the process of rulemaking and enforcement within these expert entities will not stop, and indeed should not stop, since new dangers will be identified, new products will be proposed, new licensing requirements will emerge and adverse events about existing products will be reported. To take one example, pharmaceuticals are today subject to successive tests in the laboratory, then on animals, then on healthy human volunteers, then on selected patients in order to demonstrate safety and efficacy. Once approved, the performance of the medicine is regularly monitored and apparent problems (adverse health events) reported, for corrective action to be taken. Animal feed in line with the advice of the Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition is subject to comparable but lighter rules, as are food additives and cosmetics.</p><p class="AB">&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">The need for a process to approve or disapprove products or standards is of obvious importance. The decisions taken can have serious economic, human and environmental consequences… Regulation is an ongoing process. Science and industry keep discovering new techniques and technologies and creating new products. It is not practical to decide each new inclusion on a white list or a black list via a Parliamentary vote, still less a vote by 28 parliaments. The answer to the democratic impossibility of parliamentary voting is expert advice, followed by the adoption of secondary legislation. …</p></blockquote> <p class="AB">It seems that the EU has in this way developed over 11,000 regulations, set over 60,000 standards and its different agencies have taken over 18,000 decisions on interpreting regulations and laws. Forrester notes that it could take 10 years to incorporate them into British law, if each is accorded scrutiny. This alone shows that a process has been taking place that is beyond the reach and capacity of traditional legislatures. The result was acknowledged by the prime minister in her Mansion House <a href="">speech</a> in March when she finally set out ambitions for Brexit, “The UK will need to make a strong commitment that its regulatory standards will remain as high as the EU’s”.</p> <p class="AB">The continuous development of the rules that we need, to manage the dangers of science-based progress that we enjoy, can’t be legislated by traditional parliamentary institutions or overseen by traditional executive power. Regulation is an ongoing process of investigation, consideration and enforcement, different from both while it also has a quasi-judicial role. This is now integral to the everyday life of government in an age of international trade. We live in a regulated world.</p> <h2><strong>Britain’s most profitable export sector and its Foreign Secretary</strong></h2> <p class="AB">A lucid, <a href="">two-page letter</a> in December last year explains why, from the viewpoint of just one critical industry. It is addressed to Michael Gove as the Secretary of State for the Environment. The author is Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the UK’s Chemical Industries Association, a sector, he points out, that is “the UK’s largest manufacturing export earner”. </p> <p class="AB">Ten years ago, the EU created <a href="">REACH</a> (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), whose landing page explains its regulatory aims and justification. When it was set up, Elliott admits, the industry “was very concerned about the regulatory/testing costs”. Now, he reports, while imperfect and in need of changes, they have embraced it. It has worked, and is setting global standards that customers want. He makes a strong “plea” that the UK remains in REACH, sketches some of the chilling costs of leaving, and points out that if it does, given the huge importance of the EU market, his members have to respond to “two regulatory bodies”. This would make a “mockery” of the “regulatory simplification” promised by Brexit. </p> <p class="AB">Why two? Because here in the UK the chemical industry needs and desires regulation and would have to create its own version of REACH: “our industry would wish to highlight that it recognises the need for robust regulation. We are a high hazard sector and it is only right that we are regulated accordingly, giving confidence to our workforce, our local communities and consumers of our products”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">the chemical industry needs and desires regulation</p> <p class="AB">The UK’s most successful manufacturing export sector demands ongoing regulation to assist its success. It needs to participate in the regulatory processes it has invested in, being conceived and implemented by the EU, that are becoming global standards. Elliott acknowledges that Britain is capable of creating its own regulatory framework for chemicals. But his mention of the cost to his industry is an understatement. The companies are determined not to suffer such duplication. Slowly but surely industry will have its way. As Ivan Rogers, the UK’s most experienced Ambassador to Brussels (who was fired by Theresa May for giving honest advice on the realities of the EU) <a href="">points out</a>, Britain’s industries are “making it clear that they have no intention of replicating, at great cost, regulatory capability which already exists”. This, he adds, “is yet another reason why the EU side has long since concluded that the UK would not walk out. Because it could not.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">You would expect after two years that his advocacy of Brexit would be more than hot air</p> <p class="AB">In terms of what passes for the debate about Brexit, it is important to register that there has been no serious, counter-argument to the detailed, reasoned case, based on realities of regulation. No one, therefore, can be in any doubt about the imperative need for a regulatory regime outside normal, parliamentary legislation and the impossible costs, practical and financial, of attempting to duplicate one. No one, that is, unless you are Boris Johnson oblivious to evidence. It is striking, watching Johnson in action, how he is unable to move on from the referendum campaign of 2016, that he led. You would expect after two years that his advocacy of Brexit would be more than hot air. Instead, it is as if he already knows that it was the high-point of his influence and he clings to its tropes and his now wearisome bonhomie. In a diatribe to fellow MPs, leaked to <a href="">Buzzfeed</a>, the man who is its Foreign Secretary attacked his own government’s negotiations in case they end up, as he knows they must, with the UK “locked in orbit around the EU…and not having freedom with our regulatory framework”. The casual suggestion that Britain can benefit from the “freedom” to regulate for itself shows Johnson’s lack of seriousness. This is confirmed by <a href="">an article</a> in the <em>Sun </em>on the second anniversary of the Referendum. Johnson demands, "the freedom to bust out of the corsets of EU regulation and rules - to do things our way" and not "some perpetual pushme-pullyou arrangement". &nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="AB">There is not a scintilla of evidence that he has read the letter from the Chemical Industries Association or similar ones from every sector of industry, or from Japanese and European foreign investors, with respect to regulation, or even that he absorbed what the prime minister said in her Mansion House speech when he sat in front of her. Gove at least appears to have registered the evidence. Yet Brexit is personified by Johnson more than anyone. </p> <h2>Regulation for you and me</h2> <p class="AB">What does regulation mean for us as individuals? I’ve cited various experts and regulators and quoted a judge and the spokesman for the chemical industry. All this associates regulation with elite power. But the strength and vitality of the regulatory transformation of government is rooted in popular demand. There are two reasons why this is not obvious. Wealthy, speculative enemies of good government have funded the populist drumbeat attacking ‘regulations’ as ‘elitist’. Second, in our everyday lives, while we worry about the purity of what is sold to us, we only think about regulation when something goes wrong. This needs to change. We need to be able to challenge and improve regulation when it is clumsy, stupid or disempowering - to do so we need to make regulation democratic.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">we only think about regulation when something goes wrong, while unconsciously assuming its existence</p> <p class="AB">But we now rely on it. Back in the mid-twentieth century Britain if you wanted a take-away meal you might go to a locally owned chippy and pay cash. Today, you are just as likely to order and pay for it over the phone or even online, from a pizza chain. In doing so you have a set of expectations. Even if these do not include concern for working conditions in the kitchens and for the delivery workers, as they should, you will certainly expect that your card details are secure and the food healthy. The latter is especially important as those fullfilling your order may be temporary employees with no direct responsibility for the content of what you are eating. You do not want state surveillance of your activity. But in the background you expect it to have ensured oversight of banking and payment systems and rules about what goes into our food.</p> <p class="AB">We expect official standards to be in operation in the background of our everyday lives in a way that is historically novel. Even for simple activity. Previously if you were poor you wrapped a cloth around your hand to take something out of the oven, should you be cooking for yourself and your family. Now we buy oven gloves. We do not expect these to melt or burn easily. If they contain synthetic materials these must not be emit toxic fumes if singed. If you want free trade in oven gloves they could be made anywhere. Standards are required so that wholesalers know that even the cheapest are minimally safe. This requires regulation. </p> <p class="AB">In Trump’s United States, the corporate lobby holds sway. It has just <a href=";nl=todaysheadlines&amp;nlid=304438610608">been reported</a>, the chemical industry has “scored a big win” and persuaded the Environment Protection Agency that when it assesses the use of dangerous chemicals it will “exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground or water’”. Think about that. However callous the USA, at some point its victims will capture popular sympathy when it suffers its version of Grenfell Tower, which now stands as a <a href="">witness</a> to the consequence of permissive deregulation. As the fridge&nbsp;<a href="">caught fire</a> in Flat 16 of the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower on the 14 June 2017, it sucked a whirlwind of inadequate, flawed, ill-enforced regulation and cuts in fire-brigade risk assessment and enforcement, into a murderous inferno. It was nothing to do with the EU but it would never have happened had the EU set the UK’s building standards and their implementation.</p> <p class="AB">The result is that people want there to be regulations. In a remarkable<a href=""> article</a> drawing on a research and polling by IPPR, Marley Morris analysed how, historically, the call for deregulation was a keynote of the anti-EU campaigns and the creation of anti-EU sentiment. In 2013, freeing British business from “excessive regulation” was singled out by then Prime Minister David Cameron, as one of his main aims, when he announced the party’s commitment to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and then call a referendum. The EU could not concede. As the referendum approached the Leave side was justifiably accused of seeking to strip the public of such regulations as the Working Time Directive, which limits hours of work. Then their polling and focus groups reported that such de-regulation was very unpopular. So the Leave campaign dropped its call. Morris explains, </p> <blockquote><p class="AB">“The root cause of this shift was simply that there was – and indeed still is – no public appetite for a deregulatory agenda. Our own <a href="">polling</a> with Opinium has found widespread public support for some of the most controversial EU-derived employment, environmental and financial legislation… Renewable energy targets – another bugbear of earlier Eurosceptics – are endorsed or considered too low by 74 per cent… more than 80 per cent of the public are <a href="">opposed</a> to lowering food safety standards. When confronted with this wall of public opinion, it is no surprise that leave campaigners adapted their position as the referendum date neared”. </p></blockquote> <p class="AB">The anti-EU campaign is one of the strangest on record. It began by demanding an end to European regulation while increasing trade with the EU. Its triumph has led it to embrace less trade with the EU while retaining its level of regulation! But when it comes to 80% you can’t argue with “the people’s will”. Or as Theresa May put it in har Mansion House speech that Johnson praises but ignores, in "areas like workers’ rights or the environment, the EU should be confident that we will not engage in a race to the bottom in the standards and protections we set. There is no serious political constituency in the UK which would support this – quite the opposite".</p> <h2>The nature of the European Union </h2> <p>We can now see the full significance of the European Union. It is the continent's regulatory space. Chris Gray put it well in a passionate and despairing <a href="">post</a> on the British political class’s “failure of leadership”. With respect to Europe their,</p> <blockquote><p>fundamental misunderstanding [is] about the single market, ironically since Britain was in large part its architect. The core of that misunderstanding is to regard the single market as an economic entity or international trade area whereas, in fact, it is more precisely a regulatory entity and area. It is this which has enabled the EU to dismantle non-tariff barriers to trade, including trade in services, in a way that goes beyond anything that exists anywhere else in the world. But, inevitably, this entails a shared legal and political infrastructure. How else can market-wide rules and regulations be made and enforced? The failure to understand this basic definitional fact, allied with the ‘in 1975 we were told it was just a trade bloc’ myth, gave rise to all of the ‘bendy banana’ type stories that ended up with the ‘take back control’ slogan of 2016.</p></blockquote><p>In his recent <a href="">lecture</a> Ivan Rogers makes a similar point in much starker terms:</p> <blockquote><p>The correct way to think of the EU in economic terms is as a “regulatory union”, with the appetite and ability to extend its rules extraterritorially: the so-called Brussels effect. The EU is a superpower in no other respect. But in this critical one, it is. And the idea that, on its own, the UK, can compete with massive regional trading blocs – the EU, the US, China – as a standard setter, on industrial goods to data, is an illusion. And leaving a regulatory union, including a Customs Union is really much more difficult than leaving a free trade area.</p></blockquote> <p>We have to go further. The way to think about the EU in terms of constitutional sovereignty is as <em>the European union of regulation</em>. This is its core achievement and greatest attainment. It is so fundamental that whether or not the Euro survives, and however much the Union may fail on critical issues like migration, it is not going to break up. It has achieved an enormous, ongoing material and human advance by responding to the need for the new and now essential domain of government.</p> <h2>Who knew?</h2> <p>Why hasn’t the significance of regulation for the EU been recognised? Routledge have just published a densely researched <a href="">Handbook on Brexit</a>, edited by Patrick Diamond, Peter Nedergaard and Ben Rosamond. It has 23 scholarly articles and aims to set out a “systematic academic overview” of the Brexit process. They encompass the special character of the British state, the English and Irish questions, the role of the city of London, the flaws of the EU and the need to rethink theories of its nature. But regulation only figures as an aspect of financial policy for the City of London. The respected Centre for European Reform published a 50 page overview of how to <a href="">Relaunch the EU</a> in November last year. It is sober, thorough and addresses the need to make the EU more responsive. But it does not mention regulation or the need to make this accountable. The arguments that Vibert has developed remain peripheral to mainstream thinking. </p> <p class="AB">There is a prejudice against regarding regulation as anything other than a secondary activity or an add on. This extends back to the origins of the EU’s creation of itself as a regulatory space in the 1980s. In his classic account of the EU, <em>The Passage to Europe,&nbsp;</em>Luuk Van Middelaar recounts that when Jacques Delors was appointed President of the Commission in 1984 he was ambitious to create a sovereign Europe. He toured the capitals of the then EU to see if they would support a unified army, a common currency, or institutional reform. Instead, they only shared an interest in an improved internal market. Quotas and tariffs had been banned but a “maze” of rules and regulations prevented trade. A disappointed Delors accepted what he could get. He applied the EU’s approach pioneered by its founder Jean Monnet, aptly described by <a href="">Perry Anderson</a> as “incremental totalization”. Delors proposed an 8 year timetable of 300 legislative measures each member state should adopt to create what we now know as the Single Market. The Commission’s paper justified this to itself, explaining, “Economic integration has to precede European union”. As Middelaar dryly comments, “Europe was escaping into low politics again, while longing to engage in high politics”.</p> <p class="AB">Regulation was regarded as the dull but necessary preparatory work of the kitchen. The justification for it was the future feast in the dining room of global sovereignty. This may still be the hope for some. But the feast was and is a fantasy. Democratic nation-states are not going to fuse into a superstate. As the current President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has <a href="">just emphasised</a> with respect to Italy, if only to shield the EU from responsibility for it, “A country is a country, a nation is a nation. Countries first, Europe second.” But meanwhile, in the kitchen, something else has been cooking, an autonomous continental-wide system of regulation that now provides many essential safeguards for Europe’s economies and consumers, whose standards for hazardous products and materials are becoming a benchmark around the world.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Regulation is the Cinderella of the Union.</p><p class="AB">Regulation is the Cinderella of the Union. It is despised by the stepmothers of the media, and obliged to undertake the routine chores while the Euro and its ugly sisters enjoy the silk sheets of endless attention. But midnight has struck for the ball of ever-closer union and super-statehood. On whose feet will the glorious slippers of the European Union fit, if not regulation? </p> <h2>Holding regulation to account</h2> <p>What are the principles we need to ensure regulation is answerable to us as citizens? Paul Tucker sets out some bold ones for first order agencies like the Bank of England, including clear mandates set out by parliaments. All bodies that undertake regulation should be independent of those whose activities they regulate. This might seem obvious, but regulatory capture is often the name of the game – especially when it comes to sweetheart auditing. The greatest recent scandal dramatically confirms the life and death need for robust regulation, outside of political control in an age of corporate power. The Volkswagen emissions disaster saw the German company sell eleven million cars that filled cities around the world with lethal nitrogen oxide fumes. <a href=""> Fortune</a> published a gripping description of how this was permitted by the crony networks of German politics. At one point it describes how regulation was “watered down to the point of meaninglessness...[when] the German government amended its rules so that inspections of emissions performance would be based solely on readings from a car’s own ‘onboard diagnostic’ system, effectively ceding total control to the automakers”. It was also a grotesque failure by the EU to ensure independent oversight of testing.</p> <p class="AB">Another principle is that every agency should have a duty to explain itself in clear language to the public as well as the workforces and businesses directly affected by it. Such reports should also be subject to open challenge and questioning. Regulation must be answerable and should relish explaining itself, as a rational form of policy making with the public interest at heart. Only if different national publics are able to see that continental-wide regulation makes sense for them and is rooted in their own interests, will it be experienced as a gain of control and democratic mastery.</p> <p class="AB">An additional principle is needed to build on this. Regulation should protect and encourage diversity and empower responsible judgment - and not create costs that only corporations can fulfil. Like nature, progress consists of generating an abundance of variety. Sometimes the EU does achieve this. Thus its regulations for <a href=";from=en">Protected Designations of Origins, EU 1151/2012</a> covers nearly 1,500 food products, from Stilton to Parma ham within the EU and without, to ensure that no description can suggest that products “originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin...”. </p> <p class="AB">The democratic politics of regulation has yet to begin, outside of the Green movement. There is much to learn. But the fundamental point is that regulation must be brought out of the kitchen to be recognised as an extension of our democratic interests and intelligence, rather than being caricatured as the negation of self-government. For this to happen, the European Union and its Commission need to abandon their presumption that their calling is to replace national governments. Instead of regarding it as the dirty-work preparing the foundations for a super-state, regulation needs to be treated as the EU’s towering, irreplaceable achievement. One that assists national governments. On behalf of its member states the EU has created the new domain of sovereignty – regulation - with huge savings and advantages for all. Its accumulation of agencies, rules, and decision-making may seem to Brexiteers like the mere threads tying down the British Gulliver. But they are neither Lilliputian in strength nor chains of restriction: they are the inescapable and potentially liberating liaisons of a <em>union of regulation</em>. A union that empowers citizens across the continent, a union from which Britain should not wish to escape and, as we are now witnessing, cannot.</p> <h2><strong>Personal note</strong></h2> <p class="AB">Last month I published an <a href="">open letter</a> to my fellow Remainers in the UK about how to win the civil war that has broken out over Brexit. Millions of UK voters said <em>Basta</em> – enough! – when asked whether they wanted things to continue as they are. This was captured by the slogan 'Take Back Control'. To combat this we need a positive story about EU membership that engages with sovereignty and immigration as well as the combattive one attacking the oligarchs who back Brexit. This is not difficult for me because, while I'm critical of the EU, I regard myself as an English European. I delight in Europe and take an interest in how it and the UK are governed. When I wrote&nbsp;<em>The Lure of Greatness</em>&nbsp;in the aftermath of the referendum I forensically examined the decomposition of the British constitution thanks to the Brexit crisis and how resolving this is central to overcoming Brexit. But the vast majority of my compatriots <em>including</em> most of those who voted Remain don't yet share my interest in sovereignty and the constitution.&nbsp;</p><p class="AB">Why, then, do millions show such stalwart, unwavering desire to repair the breach with the EU, while they remain indifferent to its institutions? Why do they regard Brexit as bonkers when they care little for Brussels and have no interest in how it works, apart from perhaps regarding it as tiresome and self-important? Something practical and not at all about the high institutions must be going on which has normalised living as part of the European Union. Something like the widely <a href="">shared interview</a> with a van driver who rang James O’Brien’s call-in programme and explained how Brexit would destroy his livelihood. Although no one uses such a mouthful, he was singing the praise of its shared regulatory space. Maybe, I thought to myself, I too have got too caught up in traditional notions of high politics and sovereignty while the nature of government has moved on. </p> <p class="AB">The defining ideologist of Brexit is the <em>Daily Mail. </em>It <a href="">describes</a> the main motive for leaving the EU as, “a deep-seated human yearning to recover our national identity and independence”. Must it be the case, then, that those of us who voted Remain are indifferent to, or have no yearning for, national identity and independence? I think not. I claim that we are more free in a fundamental way as persons - as English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and British persons - inside the EU. Our liberty is enhanced within it, for all the dangers. You could answer that it is a false binary: that we can enjoy both patriotism and partnership, national identity and international regulation. Indeed, but such an answer takes a side. The spirit of Brexit insists on a single priority. For the <em>Daily Mail</em> our national identity and independence are being lost and must be “recovered”. It sees mass migration and the European Court of Justice and as invaders that have penetrated our national space. It demands they be repelled to save our country and its great institutions. If judges show themselves to be “<a href="">enemies of the people</a>” and peers of the realm have become “<a href="">traitors in ermine</a>” they merely confirm how far subversion has reached. </p><p class="AB">The Prime Minister shares this view. In her first <a href="">speech</a> to a Conservative Party conference as its leader she warned, “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. This is the <em>Daily Mail</em>, Brexit point of view: our national identity is singular. The opposite, pro-European point of view has just been powerfully described by <a href="">David Marquand</a>: all of us have multiple identies. How, then, is it possible to share more than one identity and live with others who have their multiple allegiances - and not fall into the vertiginous vacuum of nowhere? How can the country – any country – hold together, if its people are <em>not </em>joined by the same, single “deep-seated, human yearning”? The answer is that regulation and human rights make multiple identities nationally feasible, by providing a practical framework for living together. They could hardly be more important for us.</p><p class="AB"><em>This is the second in a mini-series. The first is on the <a href="">Brexit civil war</a>. Next: immigration.</em></p><p><strong><a href="">The Lure of Greatness, England’s Brexit &amp; America’s Trump</a>&nbsp;</strong><strong>–&nbsp;</strong>Anthony Barnett</p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“Brilliant”,&nbsp;<strong>Suzanne Moore</strong>, “Blistering”,&nbsp;<strong>Zadie Smith</strong><br />“A dazzling, all-encompassing, big picture analysis of the Brexit vote, easily the best of its kind in print, brilliantly written and endlessly thought-provoking. Do read it.”&nbsp;<strong>Andrew Sparrow, Editor, Guardian Politics Live</strong><br />“Responding to momentous events with deep and passionate arguments… for his verve, range and insatiable urge to take on vast themes, Barnett deserves loud applause… this is a very good book.”&nbsp;<strong>John Harris, New Statesman</strong><br />“The best book about Brexit so far… brilliantly caustic, there is some comfort in that Barnett has been right about so much before.”&nbsp;<strong>Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times</strong><br />“One of the most important political books of 2017”,&nbsp;<strong>The Guardian Editorial on Renewing the United Kingdom</strong>, 1 January 2018<br />“Essential reading for students of politics, constitutional law and international relations.”&nbsp;<strong>Professor David Marquand</strong><br />“A wonderful and compelling page turner that artfully weaves together debates on freedom, security, liberty, sovereignty and nationalism... This is a book that deserves to be read.”&nbsp;<strong>Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths Professor of Media and Communications</strong></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Anthony Barnett Fri, 22 Jun 2018 14:00:02 +0000 Anthony Barnett 118541 at Amidst Brexit chaos, Scotland has had enough of ‘grace and favour devolution’ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Scotland’s soft, determined pro-Europeanism, just like that of Northern Ireland, is seen by Brexit England as just another reason to hold entire nations in contempt.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// walk out.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// walk out.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="242" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: SNP MPs walk out of Prime Ministers' Questions last week. Credit: PA Images.</em></p> <p>Brexit isn’t going well. Two years after the referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU there is still no agreed plan on what kind of Brexit the UK Government wants. Theresa May’s administration staggers from day to day - too weak to dare to define what it stands for - facing regular crises, critical parliamentary votes and defeats.</p> <p>Last week, after Scottish affairs was reduced to 15 minutes in the House of Commons, the SNP walked out during Prime Minister’s Questions, resulting in much media comment and headlines. But as the immediate shockwaves die down - does any of this have any longer term impact?</p> <p>A short summary of events so far might be helpful. The UK Government’s Brexit plans have consequences for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the government meant to consult the three territories on what powers come back to the nations as a result of Brexit. Northern Ireland hasn’t had a devolved government since January 2017; Wales has, after much disquiet, given its agreement, but the Scottish Government and Parliament has not agreed with the latter withholding its consent from Brexit. All parties in the Parliament – SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Scottish Green – agreed that the Tory form of Brexit is not acceptable – with only Ruth Davidson’s Tories siding with Westminster.</p> <p>The most recent events brought forth in a politics deeply divided about Brexit, let alone different views on Scottish independence, very differing accounts. One school of thought used the above events to opine on how the UK really works. Step forth Tim Shipman, Political Editor of the ‘Sunday Times’, who stated: ‘I’m not clear why Scotland should be regarded as any more important than, say, Manchester?’ Somehow Shipman wasn’t really looking for a crash course in the basic make-up of the UK and its multiple historic unions.</p> <p>Some wanted to use the stramash to tell the Scots to shut up or to poke fun at a ridiculous want to be different. That is a view which ran through much right-wing commentary, and which underlines the threadbare nature of the unionism which proclaims its love of the union but at the same time has got into the habit of disrespecting one of the key members. For example, ‘SNP Stunt Backfires’ said the ‘Scottish Daily Mail’, ‘’Stop Waging War!’ – SNP told to ‘move on’ from Brexit antic after business backlash’ said the ‘Scottish Daily Express’.</p> <p>Another interesting take was to evoke the ‘privileged’ status of Scotland in the union and invite Scots to acknowledge how lucky they have been. Hence, Lloyd Evans in ‘The Spectator’ brought up who has consented and not consented to the present constitutional arrangements. ‘Nobody in England has ever voted for the present system’ wrote Evans, whereas ‘In Scotland, everybody has. Twice.’ </p> <p>Others drag out of the cobwebs vague references to the idea of federalism, which really only amount to mood music and diversionary tactics. The idea of federalism - when it has been serially raised since 2014 and is never accompanied by a plan - is a bit rich. And in the week the author of ‘the Vow’, Murray Foote, ex-editor of the ‘Daily Record’, came out for independence, less and less plausible.</p> <p>Then there is the pro-independence take. Iain Macwhirter in the ‘Sunday Herald’ talked of Theresa May’s Tory Government disrespect of Scotland producing ‘a new unitary state Britain’, a phrase Macwhirter has used before and clearly thinks describes the new constitutional realities being created by Brexit. But last weekend he went much further, describing the Westminster attitude towards devolution as one which represented ‘a kind of colonial authority over the Scottish Parliament’ - which is a bit hyperbolic.</p> <p>More intemperate voices called for quicker progress to another independence referendum. Such views put passion and partisanship above analysis. They also put individual self-interest above wider recognition of the needs of Scotland. Thus, even before last week’s events, one elderly SNP delegate at the party’s conference told Radio Four that he wanted a vote before 2021 - even if it was lost - because ‘I just want to see it decided in my lifetime.’ </p> <p>We are dealing with big issues, and therefore must try and reflect the seriousness of them and the consequences that then emerge. For one there is the issue of Sewel motions - named after Labour Lord Sewel (before the tabloid scandal involving the coke and hookers) - whose proper name is Legislative Consent Motions. These are a typical British fudge: dreamt up as a convention with no legal standing which allows the Scottish Parliament to vote to give permission to Westminster to legislate in devolved areas.</p> <p>The Scottish Parliament has, in its near twenty years of existence, only voted on two occasions to deny Westminster consent – one of which has been over Brexit. Thus the argument that the SNP have been continually looking to fight constitutional battles and aid a culture of grievance isn’t borne out by their actions. The Welsh Assembly has over the course actually been more assertive and withheld consent on more occasions. </p> <p>Secondly, comparisons between the SNP and Irish Nationalists are not helpful. This says a lot about those who are not committed to the Westminster order are seen by the establishment. Pro-union voices who heap praise on Charles Parnell, leader of the Irish Nationalists, and compare him favourably to Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader or any other senior Nationalist, have to be taken with a pinch of salt. There is a long tradition of praising yesterday’s rebels and doing so to denigrate and dismiss today’s rebels.</p> <p>Thirdly, the above set of events aren’t quite the simple end of devolution some portray. It is much more complex and unpredictable. Scotland has clearly outgrown the devolution settlement, while England never really understood it or showed that much interest in the finer details. ‘Grace and favour devolution’ - as ‘Political Betting’ writer Alastair Meeks described it this weekend - will not be very acceptable for very long for most of Scotland. </p> <p>Fourthly, some have stated that all this means that Scottish independence is ‘inevitable’. That seems a very big word which should be rarely written about politics. But in the course of the last week the fragmentation and decoupling of the United Kingdom has continued apace. This isn’t a set of events which began with a SNP walkout or even with Brexit. It didn’t even begin when the SNP won office in 2007 or the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. </p> <p>To give one example, the thinker Tom Nairn penned his classic, ‘The Break-Up of Britain’ in 1977 about the dissolution of a British-wide politics, the rise of ‘four nation’ nationalism, and the impact of the critical European dimension.</p> <p>Nairn understood that one of the driving dimensions in this, as well as Scottish self-government, was the strange case of England: a land which still had a hangover about Empire and reservations about Europe. So it has proven with Brexit. There is a long tail to how we got to this sorry pass which predates Brexit and even devolution, New Labour and Thatcherism. We are dealing with deep-rooted powerful forces here, such as the long-term neglect of the North - and how the City of London and finance capital have ‘crowded out’ other more socially useful productive parts of the economy. </p> <p>There is in Brexit-supporting circles incomprehension at the pro-European state of Scottish politics, public opinion, and even independence. Lloyd Evans characterises the latter as Scotland handing itself over ‘to a continental super-state run by two unelected gravy-guzzlers from Luxembourg and Poland.’ Such sentiments tell us more about the worldview of those saying them than anything about Scotland. But critically, Scotland’s soft, determined pro-Europeanism, just like that of Northern Ireland, is seen as another reason by Brexit England to hold entire nations in contempt.</p> <p>Westminster’s near total indifference to all matters Scottish plays a part in this. Some of the worst advocates for the continuation of the union turn out to be the most committed unionists. David Mundell, Scottish Secretary of State, got in a mess with his semantic unionism explanation of the UK last week saying ‘Scotland is not a partner of the UK, it is part of the UK.’</p> <p>Even more seriously, Westminster just has a tonal deafness with regard to Scotland. No one senior in the government thought that two years into Brexit and a taught European Union (Withdrawal) Bill a fifteen-minute non-debate might be a tad insensitive. This underlines the case that one of the original arguments for devolution was how badly Westminster did accountability and Scottish affairs. Twenty years on this state of affairs has denigrated to farce and being indefensible. </p> <p>It is commonplace to see Brexit as an English phenomenon, but in truth it is only a very partial version of England: a perspective of right-wing populists mixing idealists, ideologues and chancers, who have hitched on a constituency of forgotten England and promised them that the existing way of things would be shaken to the ground. </p> <p>We have to start talking about English nationalism, and maybe most urgently, the English left and Labour need to start talking about those things. When I tweeted polling from Michael Ashcroft which showed that Leave voters prioritised Brexit (63%) ahead of maintaining the union (27%) as proof of English nationalism sentiment behind Brexit, former Labour MP John Denham replied: ‘Blaming ‘English nationalism’ is a way to demonising the English rather than engaging with the English and Englishness.’ I then invited him to agree it was an expression of a certain version of English nationalism and he replied that ‘English nationalism’ was a ‘misleading idea’, without answering why England would be the one country in the world without a nationalism. </p> <p>This is part of an English exceptionalism in the extreme which has contributed to this mess. For those who still want to reverse Brexit, such as a small band of Labour MPs, they need to take into account the wider currents which produced this revolt and understand that however unpleasant they find it things cannot go back to how they were pre-June 2016.</p> <p>The same is true for us living in Scotland. There is no return to the quiet reassuring times before the twin peaks of our two referendum votes. More than that, we face the challenge of living on an island with a dominant version of Britain that the majority of Scots find repugnant and that does not appear to contain any humanity or enlightenment. Add to that mix Brexit, and the insensitivities towards Scotland that it brings, and it follows that this union looks weaker and more in doubt than it ever has been. But we should in this not pretend that Brexit is the cause of our discontent for it is merely the latest symptom of a longer and profound story. </p> <p>We may not yet be on a ‘motorway without exit’ to use Labour rebel Tam Dalyell’s memorable phrase, but the exit points to avoid the final destination of independence are fast being exhausted. And some of the main facilitators of this in the here and now, building on that long decline, are not north of the border, but to be found in continual Westminster indifference and insensitivity and in the narrow Brexit dogma from such English nationalists as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ian Liddell-Grainger and Nadine Dorries.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Gerry Hassan Thu, 21 Jun 2018 14:43:30 +0000 Gerry Hassan 118538 at The political censorship of Britain's streets <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How unaccountable organisations called 'Business Improvement Districts' are just one of a number of attempts to shut down democratic debate in our towns.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: <a href="">Peter O'Connor/Flickr, CC 2.0</a></em></p><p>How does democracy die? Rarely through a large dramatic event, more often, it just drains away. Death by a thousand cuts while we, the impotent people, have neither time nor energy to ward off each and every attack.</p> <p>Take, for instance, the right to public assembly and debate. Let's start with a local story and, to most journalists, a “story in a teacup”. It surfaced, a fortnight back, in Letchworth Garden City. Irony! For Letchworth's origins lie in a political project, a philanthropic project designed to provide affordable and civilised housing for the ordinary citizen and to allow a free exchange of ideas and debate.</p> <p>At its birth it was widely mocked for nurturing “cranks”: people prepared to question established mores and to contemplate alternative lifestyles.</p> <p>(And here I'll declare an interest: I live in Letchworth, have stood for office locally and am committed to the values on which it was founded!)</p> <p>In May 2017, <a href="">Letchworth BID</a> voted at one of their regular board meetings <a href="">to bar political parties from having stalls – and therefore a presence – in the town centre</a>. This, they have since claimed, was “to ensure equal representation from political parties when it comes to promoting their respective parties in the town centre”. Moreover, “securing political balance was proving to be a challenge”. This rings somewhat hollow: far from the town centre groaning under a surfeit of politics, putting up a stall at all is so unusual a circumstance that none of the main opposition parties – Labour, Lib Dem, Green – noticed they had been banned until just over a year later.</p> <p>When they DID notice, there was an outcry - and media interest from both local outlets and openDemocracy. In response, a week later the BID issued a statement backing down on the policy, and once again allowing “legitimate political parties” permission to book space in the town centre.</p> <p>There’s no apology, of course. No recognition that they owe an explanation to the people over whose town centre they have temporary dominion. Indeed they seem surprised that anyone would dare question why they did it.</p> <p>And there are some huge questions still to be answered. </p> <p>The official BID response claims that “securing political balance was proving to be a challenge”. But who gave them that responsibility in the first place? Who was consulted? What evidence was considered? Do they have the power to charge for permits to set up stalls that aren’t selling anything?</p> <p>And most fundamentally – do they have the power to say no to political stalls? Why would they think they had such a power? </p> <p>The local council suggested any and all questions about BIDs be addressed to the BID organisation themselves. But they won’t answer questions. </p> <p>According to Herts Police: if the stalls were selling something, they would need a permit. But if people were just stood there handing out leaflets? Debatable. Though before the ban, local parties and, presumably, other political organisations were being asked to shell out. Yet negotiating the mishmash of bodies involved – Police, Council, BID – to get a clear answer is difficult to impossible.</p> <p>There are other concerns around the original decision: the fact that it was taken in May 2017, the month before a General Election; allegations that the issue was raised by a local conservative councillor. We have tried to engage local BID, local council and local conservative party in an attempt to get answers to those questions. But don't hold your breath. The best we could get was a statement by one local Tory councillor that “the matter has never even been discussed at the North Herts Conservative Group”.<strong></strong></p> <p><strong>What is ‘BID’ anyway?</strong></p> <p>And anyway - who are these BID people? And why do they have such powers over our town centre? BID stands for Business Improvement District. BIDs are a recent creation and not entirely a bad idea.</p> <p>According to the <a href="">Ministry of Housing, Communities &amp; Local Government</a> , they are “business led partnerships [...] created through a ballot process to deliver additional services to local businesses”. Local businesses ballot to decide whether they want a BID and, if the vote is positive, then all businesses in the designated area are in. They must stump up an annual levy in support of said BID which, under the auspices of a local board, goes toward four key areas: physical improvements, events and marketing, access improvements and security and business support.</p> <p>One can see why central government likes the idea. After all, separate out the “real business” of cities, which is, of course, all about doing business, from the messy civic stuff like waste collection and potholes, and who can complain?</p> <p>Quite a lot of people, it would appear. There are accusations of unaccountability and incompetence <a href="">down in Penzance</a>, revolt in <a href="">Newcastle-under-Lyme</a>, and, more widely, concerns that <a href="">since 2004 the BID initiative has led to hundreds of millions of pounds being squandered</a> through the machinations of shadowy quangos.</p> <p>These are serious issues in their own right. However, the issue raised by Letchworth BID is the pernicious effect of BID's on democracy. For they are part of a pattern, begun under the last Labour government and continued under Tory governments since, of placing a premium on “public order” and commerce, while downgrading people power as messy and unrealistic.</p> <p>Attempt to organise an event or demonstration today and be prepared for an onslaught of demands that one provide the local police, the council, or now potentially, your local BID, with details, plans, risk assessments. A couple of years back I was involved in running a minor demo in Manchester. Thirty people, meeting quietly just off Canal St, the heart of Manchester's LGBT quarter. In the end we convened “unlawfully”, being both unable and unwilling to stump up the several hundred pounds required to provide millions in public liability insurance for this event. In this case, not a BID issue: but nonetheless part of the wider problem of public spaces being increasingly policed and regulated by official busybodies.</p> <p>More recently, we have seen the government condemning limits to “free speech” in Universities – for which read, for the most part, the freedom of the privileged and the opinionated to lecture everyone else – while standing firm behind <a href="">Public Space Protection Orders</a>, introduced in 2014, which give local councils sweeping new powers to determine what happens on their streets. And while PSPO's have mostly been used to tackle “problems”, like homelessness and bad language, there is <a href="">mounting evidence of them being used to exclude awkwardness – like protests - from town centres</a>.</p> <p>How can this happen? In the decentralised privatised world of Britain 2018, getting answers to questions is nigh on impossible. And that, in itself, is an issue. Democracy is dying because no-one, least of all those in charge, knows who is in charge any more. And if they do, they aren't saying.</p> <p>As it becomes progressively more difficult to navigate the permission maze, people are just giving up and staying at home. Result: politics is diminished, reduced to online shouting match as opposed to engagement with real people out in the real world.</p> <p>Meanwhile, shopping centres the length and breadth of the country continue to lay claim to the title “Forum” as somehow synonymous with a-place-to-buy-stuff. Along the way, its origins as a place where the true business of the city, of the place where passion and debate happened, is increasingly consigned to the dustbin of history.</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/guy-aitchison/labour-council-is-using-sinister-new-law-to-purge-homeless-from-hackney">Homelessness, freedom and why we should resist the social cleansing of Hackney</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/protest/josie-appleton/protest-and-public-space">Encroachment of public space in the UK: how does it restrict our right to protest?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/josie-appleton/move-along-now-new-law-barring-thousands-of-people-from-public-spaces">Move along now: the law barring thousands of people from public spaces</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Jane Fae Thu, 21 Jun 2018 10:09:58 +0000 Jane Fae 118532 at To tackle inequality, we must first understand the exploitation that creates it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new theory of exploitation is needed to understand the dynamics of exploitation that underpin the growing gap between rich and poor.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Leicester, May 2018: textile workers are paid half the minimum wage, their actual worked hours halved to fiddle the figures. The clothes they produce are sold by a new breed of on-line, “fast fashion”, retailers selling to “aspirational thrift” consumers with limited spending power. The workers themselves are mostly non-English speaking or recent migrants from Asia or Eastern Europe. From poor wage workers to poor consumers.Leicester, May 2018: textile workers are paid half the minimum wage, their actual worked hours halved to fiddle the figures. The clothes they produce are sold by a new breed of on-line, “fast fashion”, retailers selling to “aspirational thrift” consumers with limited spending power. The workers themselves are mostly non-English speaking or recent migrants from Asia or Eastern Europe. From poor wage workers to poor consumers. And the retailers themselves are doubling profits year-on-year. You could call it <a href="">nineteenth century exploitation in the 21st century</a>. So, why do we need a new theory of exploitation, when surely Marx will still do, 150 years later? Well, no. Even this small example of ‘dark factories’ asks for some rethinking, let alone other major historical transformations in the modes of making profits and the organisation of political economies. Both the existence of a minimum wage and its illegal evasion point to the significance of law in constituting and legitimising the exchange between wage labour and capitalist enterprises. Then, asymmetries of power in exchange run through every aspect of fast fashion: between the retailers as the dominant power and manufacturers, between manufacturers and their workers, and between retailers and their consumers. There is a churning of manufacturers, going in and out of bankruptcy. The consumers, mostly the in-work poor, locked-in to buying the cheapest available fashion items, pay the price of profit at margins hidden from sight. The workers, non-unionised, without high levels of education, migrant and ethnic minority, are constrained in varying degrees of economic powerlessness to sell their labour at below the legal rate to which they are entitled. Together with my friend, the Marxist political philosopher, Norman Geras (now sadly deceased), we decided to go back to basics and do some necessary rethinking. We wanted to go forward from Marx to address the rampant and extreme inequalities that have emerged within national economies. We wanted to challenge the democratic illegitimacies (plural) of economic power, how economies as they have been politically constituted by law enable the undemocratic concentration of economic power and its exercise. There are extreme undemocratic rights to the wealth created in society, both public and private. In a major historical transformation, not yet present for Marx to analyse, universal compulsory education has progressively, and to different degrees in different societies, fundamentally changed the social reproduction of labour, the capacity to work. Feminist economists long ago rightly insisted on the unpaid, non-commodity, process of reproduction in the household. Educational systems supplemented such processes on an ever increasing scale as school leaving ages were gradually raised. The theoretical significance of this transformation for a revision of 19th century Marxism cannot be understated – let alone ignored. Four main points can be made and briefly stated. First, children are constrained <em>not</em> to sell their labour until a certain age. That changes the whole shape of the labour market. And it is a political and legal condition of who can and who cannot sell their labour. Second, the model of a closed-circuit commodity system of labour and commodities has to be abandoned. Social reproduction of labour is no longer only secured by the consumption of a basket of commodities – food, clothing, housing and an increasing range of goods deemed ‘necessary’ for social life. It also requires the work of teachers and school students to acquire skills at different levels in a non-commodity public mode of reproduction. You cannot equate or quantify this non-market teacher and student labour with the market labour engaged in producing commodities. Third, the fundamental polarity underpinning Marx’s conception of class has to be radically revised. The binary division between owners of the means of production (when means of production are equated to market assets) and those with owning nothing other than their labour to sell (when nothing is equated to physical means of subsistence) is unsustainable. Acquired skills and knowledge are an essential means of production complementary to any physical or indeed ‘soft’ means of production. People with more or less skills/knowledge are in different asymmetries of power when hiring out the use of those skills to the owners of market capital. Moreover, these skills/knowledge are collective social goods, not personally owned by us as individuals any more than the language we speak. Knowledge bearers do not part with their knowledge when they hire its use. Indeed, that knowledge is often enhanced in use, rather than depleted. Fourth, as a consequence the differential rights to the public good of education are a source of fundamental inequalities, the exclusion by selection of those with more or less rights to more or less education. And here we come back to the example of the dark factories of fast fashion. Those without the social good of English language, without qualifications, with the vulnerability of being recent migrants, are at the extreme end of asymmetries of power in exchange. Graduates and school-leavers without qualifications are under fundamentally different constraints to sell their labour of one kind or another, manual or non-manual, high skilled and professional or low-skilled. Some have no option, as they enter the labour market, but for a life of low paid, insecure, work, on the worst of terms, as with zero hours contracts or bogus self-employment. Unequal rights to the public good of education combine with unequal rights to the world of market commodities. It should not be forgotten that divisions of educational exclusion and attainment were at least as significant as inequalities of income in accounting for the Trump election and vote Brexit. Labour, in all its variety of skills, creates the wealth of society, of both market and public goods. And capitalists, in the market sphere, own and then sell at a profit what is produced by labour. With Marx, that remains a vital dynamic of inequality, indeed of exploitation. Owners of football clubs make profits and grow assets even when paying mega-salaries to their stars putatively endowed with the most uniquely valuable skills. Owners of banks make super-profits while paying market traders with physics degrees bumper bonuses. But Marx had a one-sided view of profit-making, based on the extra-value created in production, and then simply realised in the market. Stiglitz has an equally one-sided view of profits made by primarily through distortions of the market, and Piketty a one-sided view attributing primary importance to inherited wealth – ‘inheritance’ societies, not exploitation societies. We need a theory of exploitation that combines the production side – the continuous creation of quality distinction – with the market side, through asymmetries of power in exchange. Companies compete not to compete, but to create quality distinction in a unique and constantly shifting market. They do so by mobilising the transformative skills of labour. But they then have a position of market power. As consumers, we are then under even more acute asymmetries of power in exchange than many of us are in our capacities as workers. Consumers are price takers, not price makers through some mythical process of aggregation of a multitude of individual purchase choices. Consumers blindly pay the price of profit, for which, as workers they have created the market potential. Organising consumer power to confront monopoly positions of powerful economic agents, whether supermarkets, Amazon or Facebook, is far more challenging than the workplace organisation of workers, and can, in general only be taken in the political arena, by consumers as political citizens. So, exploitation is double-sided, combining quality value creation by market positioning and profit-appropriation on the one hand, and asymmetries of consumer power in exchange on the other. It is not one or the other, but both, pivoting on the wage. It is exploitation by the economic power of capital over what after all are the same social beings, worker-consumers, consumer-workers. Capital gives with one hand what it grabs back with the other. Take Amazon. In the US it has a 67% share of a $290 billion e-commerce market. The next biggest player is Walmart, itself no small fish, with about 10%. It can then command mega-profits in its advertising and web-services markets, and has enormous power over its suppliers. And at the same time, consumers are faced with monopoly power of a dominant portal for a vast array of commodities, and drivers for Amazon deliveries are engaged as bogus self-employed, where minimum wages and working times do not apply. Amazon sits at the centre of a web of economic power-asymmetries going in all directions. That is modern exploitation, a fundamentally undemocratic organisation of the economy. It should not surprise us. Capitalist economies have always been marked by the abuse of economic power, legitimated by law, and enforced by the state, at no time more so than the emergence of industrial capitalism from the 18th century. Coercive legislation, punitive zero-hours contracts, workhouses and incarceration, were introduced to regiment working for factory wages in the metropolis. But, contrary to the dominant view, including Marx’s, &nbsp;British industrial capitalism also drove the most significant growth in capitalist slavery, in the Deep South of the US. By 1860, there were 650,000 workers in the UK textile proletariat, but over 3 million slaves producing cotton for the industry. Wage labour and slavery grew in lock step. Moreover, the legacy of slavery in the racialized hierarchies of inequality are ever-present in all the slave-owning powers of Europe and the US. The Windrush scandal was only the most recent British example, when descendants of slaves have been deported for another forced migration back across the Atlantic. There was no single closed system capital-wage labour-commodity economy, as portrayed by Marx. And it remains so to this day. Mobile phones are produced using high-tech high paid labour in Silicon valley, slaves mining coltan in the Congo, and assembly workers in market socialist regimes in China. Many other consumer goods (clothing, shoes, white goods) are similarly the combined product of heterogeneous regimes of exploitation. We need a different conception of the economy, other than the abstract models of closed systems that were formative of the discipline of economics in the 19th century and have blinded it ever since. These are the themes that drove Norman and I to rethink exploitation, and to consider the democratic illegitimacies of economic power, as an issue as much of political as of narrowly economic inequalities. The book is a small pebble thrown into a large pond. </p><p>***</p><p> <em>Inequality and Democratic Egalitarianism. Marx’s Economy and Beyond and Other Essays</em>. Mark Harvey and Norman Geras. Manchester University Press. 2018.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Harvey Thu, 21 Jun 2018 09:18:51 +0000 Mark Harvey 118530 at Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Former Legatum trade chief Shanker Singham takes role with commercial lobbying firm – while also advising key Brexit minister Liam Fox.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Liam Fox. Image, Tech. Sgt. Michele A. Desrochers, public domain</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Transparency campaigners have accused international trade minister Liam Fox of “having trouble again seeing the line between adviser and privately-backed lobbyist” after openDemocracy learned that one of Fox’s “committee of experts” has become an advisor to one of the UK’s biggest corporate lobbying firms.</p><p>Former <a href="">Legatum</a> trade chief Shanker Singham, described by a former Labour minister as a ‘hard Brexit Svengali’, <a href="">is now advising</a> PR and lobbying agency Grayling on Brexit and trade. Singham, who has been said to enjoy “<a href="">unparalleled access</a>” to government ministers, has told openDemocracy that there is “no conflict” between his role as an adviser to trade minister Fox and his new position.</p><p dir="ltr">Singham is a member of trade minister Liam Fox’s ‘committee of experts’, a five-person group advising him on trade deals. Singham, a one-time Washington lobbyist, is also a director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a position he took after he left the <a href="">controversial think tank Legatum</a> earlier this year.</p><p dir="ltr">Singham told openDemocracy that he would be remaining on the Brexit minister’s advisory committee and at the IEA.</p><p dir="ltr">Grayling is one of the UK’s leading PR and lobbying firms. The client it lists most regularly in its entry in the official register of lobbyists is the <a href="">National Casino Forum</a>, and the company also represents a number of major <a href="">sugar manufacturers</a>, and has previously worked for the arms companies <a href="">BAE Systems</a> and <a href="">Lockheed Martin</a>. Speaking to openDemocracy, Singham said that he was advising Grayling itself, rather than any of its clients.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" 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'>Shanker Singham, Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Singham will also assist Grayling’s stablemates Citigate Dewe Rogerson and Quiller, <a href="">reports said</a>. Quiller’s past clients include the <a href="">United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Last week, openDemocracy revealed the extent of <a href="">Singham’s access</a> to government ministers since the Brexit vote, showing that he has held dozens of meetings with figures including foreign secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit minister David Davis, as well as Liam Fox. Singham also had<a href=""> undeclared meetings with another Brexit minister</a>, Steve Baker.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" width="100%" src=";font=Default&amp;lang=en&amp;initial_zoom=2&amp;height=650"></iframe></p><h2>“Glaring conflict of interest”, say campaigners</h2><p dir="ltr">Singham told openDemocracy that he saw no reason that his access to government officials would diminish now that he’s paid by a corporate lobbying firm and that he sees “no conflict” between his various roles. But transparency campaigners warned of “a glaring conflict of interest”.</p><p>Tamasin Cave from Spinwatch, which monitors the lobbying industry, compared Singham’s role to the scandal that led to Liam Fox being forced to resign as Defence Secretary in 2011, when it transpired that one of Fox’s closest advisers – Adam Werritty – was being <a href="">paid by private businesses</a> for his time advising Fox.</p><p>Cave said: “Singham is simultaneously advising Liam Fox, and has unrivalled access to many other ministers, while at the same time working for a firm that is paid to influence the decisions of ministers. That’s a glaring conflict of interest.</p><p dir="ltr">“Grayling is employing Singham for his insider knowledge and the fact that he has a seat at the table steering the direction of Brexit. Of course their corporate clients are going to benefit from this hire. That's how the commercial lobbying business operates.</p><p dir="ltr">“That this doesn’t strike the Department of International Trade as a clear conflict of interest is worrying. It is reminiscent of another adviser to Liam Fox that was also funded by an opaque web of private money. The resulting scandal surrounding the then defence secretary's adviser, Adam Werritty, led to Fox’s resignation (in 2011). Is Fox having trouble again seeing the line between adviser and privately-backed lobbyist?”</p><p dir="ltr">Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK said: “Whilst this does not appear to break any formal rules, there are ethical considerations a UK government adviser should take into account on how the privileged information and access they enjoy in a public role may unfairly benefit themselves and potential clients in their private role.”</p><p dir="ltr">Scottish National Party MP Neil Gray said that the revelation reflects flaws with the Brexit process more generally: “There has been an effective sub-contracting of the hard thinking normally undertaken by government to a series of 'thinktanks' who refuse to reveal where their funding comes from and whose proposals seem coincidentally to reflect the narrow interests of a small group of private companies. Singham’s appointment is simply the most obvious example of this government’s fox-in-the-henhouse approach.”</p><p dir="ltr" class="mag-quote-center">"There has been an effective sub-contracting of the hard thinking normally undertaken by government to a series of 'thinktanks' who refuse to reveal where their funding comes from and whose proposals seem coincidentally to reflect the narrow interests of a small group of private companies"</p><p dir="ltr">In a statement on the Singham signing last week, <a href="">Grayling chairman</a> Richard Jukes said: “Brexit and trade are knotty areas, and there is no one better placed than Shanker to help our clients cut through the noise and articulate a considered position that stands up to scrutiny. He is an outstanding addition to Grayling’s award-winning Brexit and trade offer that extends from London to Brussels and across Europe.”</p><p dir="ltr">Singham also leads the trade team at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA). Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "The Institute for Economic Affairs has long acted as a paid lobbying agency for the tobacco industry. It's very worrying to see one of their staff playing such a key role in shaping Britain's trade deals as we leave the EU."</p><p dir="ltr">The IEA didn’t respond to a request for comment, and didn’t answer our question about who pays for Singham’s work on trade.</p><p>A spokesperson for the Department of International Trade said:</p><p dir="ltr">“It is only correct that the department engages a variety of stakeholders from across the UK, to discuss opportunities arising from Britain’s departure from the European Union. The department regularly engages think tanks and campaign bodies on all sides of the political spectrum as well as leading thinkers, businesses and civil society groups."</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;“The committee was set up to provide expert advice and challenge to department officials and is not led by ministers. Members are invited to only express their views as individuals and not on behalf of their affiliated organisations.”</p><p dir="ltr">Other than Singham, the trade ministry’s committee of experts comprises prominent Brexit supporting economist Ruth Lea, who is an adviser to the Institute for Economic Affairs; Sunday Telegraph columnist and Brexit supporter Liam Halligan, Xavier Rolet, former CEO of the London Stock Exchange, and the former Tory MP and Brexit supporter Peter Lilley. </p><p>In January, the <a href="">Sunday Times </a>reported that Lilley was “willing to approach key ministers” on behalf of a fake Chinese company offering him cash in exchange for access to government and information about Brexit. The paper reported that Lilley described how he attended two advisory groups with influence over the Brexit ministers” – one of which was the Department for International Trade advisory committee of experts.</p><p dir="ltr">Lilley said he had not been asked and nor did he agree to have private conversations with any ministers on behalf of the Chinese company. He said any suggestion that a private company would get access to privileged information was “wholly misplaced”, and he remains a member of the committee, according to a department spokesperson.</p><p dir="ltr">When the Sunday Times also reported that “sources within Whitehall and the Conservative Party... told this newspaper that Brexit had triggered a lobbying frenzy as businesses attempted to acquire intelligence about the negotiations.”</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month the Charity Commission ruled that Legatum, Singham’s previous employer, had “<a href="">crossed the line</a>” and failed to meet its charitable objectives in its pro-Brexit coverage.</p><p><em>Additional reporting by Jenna Corderoy.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-who-are-brexiteers-favourite-think-tank-and-who-is-behind-them">Legatum: the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank. Who is behind them?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-breached-charity-regulations-with-brexit-work-charity-commission-finds">Legatum breached charity regulations with Brexit work, Charity Commission finds</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-jenna-corderoy/revealed-new-evidence-of-hard-brexit-svengali-shanker-si">Revealed: New evidence of ‘Hard Brexit svengali’ Shanker Singham’s ‘unparalleled access’ to senior government figures</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit Inc. DUP Dark money Peter Geoghegan Adam Ramsay Thu, 21 Jun 2018 09:16:50 +0000 Adam Ramsay and Peter Geoghegan 118529 at No red carpet for Thai junta leader, Mrs May <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Theresa May welcomes the Thai Prime Minister to Number 10 today, does she care about democracy and human rights? Or are business deals the only real priority?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// coup.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// coup.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><em>Image: Pro-democracy demonstration in Thailand, May 2018. Credit: Chiawat Subprasom/Zuma Press/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p> <p>Thailand’s Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha is meeting UK Prime Minister Teresa May in London this afternoon (June 20), and is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris five days later. Human rights concerns need to be at the top of the agenda. </p> <p>May and Macron should be prepared to give General Prayut an earful about Thailand’s abysmal human rights record and why his dawdling on restoring civilian democratic rule is damaging Thailand’s reputation and hurting Thai people. </p> <p>The United Kingdom and France are long-time allies of Thailand who have repeatedly stated that bilateral relations will only be normalized when democracy is fully restored through a free and fair election. </p> <p>Yet four years after the May 2014 coup, Thailand is nowhere close to meeting General Prayut’s pledge to quickly restore civilian democratic rule. </p> <p>Instead, the military junta has been trying to masquerade as a kinder, gentler quasi-democracy. That argument has fallen flat in Thailand, and European leaders should not fall for it either. </p> <p>Since the coup, General Prayut has wielded unchecked power with total impunity. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has routinely enforced censorship and blocked public discussions about the state of human rights and democracy in Thailand. Hundreds of pro-democracy activists and dissidents have been prosecuted on criminal charges such as sedition, computer-related crimes, and <em>lese majeste</em> (insulting the monarchy) for the peaceful expression of their opinions. </p> <p>Public gatherings of more than five people and peaceful political activities are prohibited. Thousands have been summoned to have their political attitudes “adjusted” by the military and pressured to stop making critical comments against the junta. Military authorities continue to secretly detain people for up to seven days without charge and interrogate them without access to lawyers or safeguards against mistreatment. Government agencies have frequently retaliated against individuals who report allegations of abuses by filing spurious criminal charges against them.</p> <p>The junta has repeatedly made—then broken—promises about the election date and a return to civilian rule. The NCPO’s latest promise is to hold an election by February 2019, but there is little reason to believe that, if held, the election will be either free or fair. Ongoing repression means that voters, political parties, and the media in Thailand will have their arms twisted and their mouths gagged in the lead-up to the election. </p> <p>Unfortunately, May and Macron seem intent on making business deals a priority at the expense of serious discussions of Thailand’s human rights record. What they should recognize is that the United Kingdom and France stand to benefit far more from a partnership with a country that respects human rights and rule of law.</p> <p>The United Kingdom and France should base their relationship with Thailand on principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. That means pressing for an end to Thailand’s persecution of dissidents, lifting restrictions on fundamental freedoms, and undertaking genuine, rights-respecting reforms.</p> <p>General Prayut should return to Bangkok after these visits with a clear understanding that Thailand’s human rights problems are a top priority for London and Paris. Otherwise the junta will continue to believe that it can continue rampant abuses without detriment to Thailand’s international standing.</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="/hri/richard-macdonald/silencing-dissent-digital-capitalism-military-junta-and-thailand-s-permanent-state">Silencing dissent: digital capitalism, the military junta and Thailand’s permanent state of exception</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alistair-denness/bangkok-dc">Bangkok DC</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john-keane/at-knife%E2%80%99s-edge-elections-and-democracy-in-thailand">At a knife’s edge: elections and democracy in Thailand</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Sunai Phasuk Wed, 20 Jun 2018 12:45:17 +0000 Sunai Phasuk 118512 at What kind of capitalism is it possible for the left to build? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="p1">To win power, the left must build a narrative around ending privatisation, empowering the workforce and borrowing to invest.&nbsp;To stay in power, left governments must transition to an economy based on high automation, shorter working hours and free services.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img class="alignleft wp-image-2874" src="//" alt="" width="120" height="120" /> <em>To win power, the left must build a narrative around ending privatisation, empowering the workforce and borrowing to invest.&nbsp;To stay in power, left governments must transition towards an economy based on relative abundance, high automation, shorter working hours and free services.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>***</p><p><img class="alignleft wp-image-2874" src="//" alt="" width="120" height="120" /> <em>To win power, the left must build a narrative around ending privatisation, empowering the workforce and borrowing to invest.&nbsp;To stay in power, left governments must transition towards an economy based on high automation, shorter working hours and free services.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>***</p><p> After Trump, Brexit, the formation of a right wing coalition in Austria and now the M5S/Lega government in Italy, the way the current era might end is becoming clearer. Right wing populism demands an end to migration and offshoring. Right wing conservatism, in response, harnesses the populist into a programme of nation-centric free-market economics – call it “Thatcherism in One Country”. Meanwhile, Russia’s perennial hybrid warfare against Western democracies opens up the social fissures within them even further. The G7’s failure to commit to a “rules based global order” after Trump’s walkout then presages the actual paralysis of multilateral institutions. At worst the EU, NATO and the Eurozone fall apart. Of course, it’s possible to imagine that the populists, the demagogues and their right wing, authoritarian voters suddenly become exhausted and satisfied with the world as it is. But it is much easier to imagine that the anger of their voters escalates, that democratic institutions become frayed and discredited, and that the nerves of liberal technocrats crack. Either way, the project I am trying to outline in this series – namely the programme, philosophy and moral basis for a radical social democracy in the 21st century – has increasingly to be conceived as a plan for picking up the pieces, not the deepening and extension of an essentially stable system. In my book ‘Postcapitalism’, I argued that information technology creates the possibility of a long transition beyond market-based societies towards an economy based on relative abundance, high automation, low work and free utility produced by network effects. This remains, for me, the 21st century equivalent of the “maximum programme” adopted by social-democracy in the 1890s. However, the crisis of the short-term demands answers – and better ones than the re-treaded Keynesianism on offer from the traditional social-democratic left. A programme of immediate, “minimum” actions and principles – which social democratic parties across Europe and North America could sign up to – would have at its heart two twin aims: 1. to revive economic growth, prosperity and social cohesion in Western democracies; and 2. to defend and deepen their democratic rights and institutions. It would also need to contain elements of “transition” – though not of the kind originated by the Communist International in the 1920s and later associated with Trotsky’s Fourth International. Then the aim was to introduce elements of planning and workers control into the programmes of left governments, moulded around scarcity. Today the transition path has to embrace the potential for abundance contained in information technology and, of course, to deal with climate change as an urgent issue. So the core issue for those who want to radicalise social democracy is: what kind of capitalism is it possible for us, in these conditions, to create? Before attempting an answer I want to recapitulate the argument of my previous essays in this <a href="">series for openDemocracy</a>: </p><ul> <li>To <a href="">solve the problem</a> of working class atomisation, and create a narrative for social democracy, the British Labour party and other social-democratic parties should focus their efforts on achieving a tangible upward movement in incomes, health, lifestyles and prospects for working age adults over the next 10 years.</li> <li>To <a href="">solve the problem</a> that globalisation empowered corporations while limiting the sovereignty of electorates, we must be prepared to retreat from extreme globalisation, into a “second trench”, consisting of national economic policymaking in the context of international solidarity, abandoning certain supranational regulations deemed currently to have the force of eternal law.</li> <li>To <a href="">solve the problem</a> of agency, we need to understand that oppression and exploitation take many forms in <a href="">late-neoliberal capitalism</a>, and that the movement to deliver a progressive government will most likely be a tribal alliance of people adversely affected. In that alliance, the traditional working class and labour movement structures will exist, but will not have hegemony; where working class culture has been inverted into a form of nostalgic ethno-nationalism, the movements and demands it produces will have to be resisted.</li> </ul><p> In Britain, the practical implications of the above are for Labour to seek a progressive electoral or governmental alliance with the Greens and left nationalists; for a rapid rise in real disposable incomes to be the number one deliverable of a progressive government; and for that government to fight for the reform of all multilateral treaties or obligation that stand in the way of social justice – whether it be the EU or the World Trade Oraganisation. But what, practically, should a left-wing government do, and in what sequence? The answer to this is not obvious from reading Labour’s 20,000 word 2017 <a href="">general election manifesto</a> – detailed though it was, nor from the 100+ bullet points that formed the <a href="">manifesto of Podemos</a>. Nor even the 83 chapters of <a href="">L’Avenir En Commun</a>, on which Jean-Luc Melenchon fought for the French presidency in 2017. None of these documents reads like a battle plan; in fact, they read more like an infantry manual full of standard procedures, rules and principles. None was likely to survive contact with the enemy if the parties that produced them had gained power. To transform capitalism rapidly in the direction of democracy and social justice, you need a linked series of actions – and a project-management understanding of their synergies and interrelationships. </p><p>***</p> <strong>Day One</strong><p> What should a left-wing British Labour government – or a Podemos-PSOE coalition, or a France Insoumise presidency supported by the trade unions and the remnants of the socialist party – do on their first day in office? The obvious answer is: survive the financial market backlash. If you observe the market turmoil caused by the possibility of a far-right/populist alliance in Italy, you get a taste of what’s in store for a government of the radical left. The clear danger lies not just in the kind of capital flight experienced by France under Mitterrand in 1981-83, but flight on a scale resembling the “<a href="">sudden stop</a>” phenomenon that plagued Latin America and parts of Asia in the mid-1990s, and which have re-emerged in the post 2008 period (sudden stops have <a href="">been defined</a> as a sudden reversal of capital inflows causing GDP to decline by the order of around 6% in a twelve month period). Almost everywhere a left government is conceivable, financial markets would be capable of mixing a rational aversion to risk with speculative and politically-motivated capital movements to cause the currency to plummet, growth to tank, and foreign exchange reserves to be depleted, demanding central bank action to counteract the declared programme of the winning party. It is this – not a rerun of the coup against Allende in Chile in 1973 – that left governments need to be ready for. [caption id="attachment_3162" align="aligncenter" width="550"]<img class="wp-image-3162" src="//çois_MITTERRAND_Caen_1981.jpg" alt="" width="550" height="365" /> François Mitterrand during the 1981 presidential campaign. Image: Jacques Paillette, CC BY-SA 3.0[/caption] Of the four remedies usually chosen to combat a sudden stop – fiscal policy, monetary policy, currency depreciation and pro-market structural reform – the last is a non-starter for a left government. With capital controls ruled out except in extreme circumstances, any left party contemplating power has to wargame how it might use reserves, monetary policy, fiscal expansion and currency maneuvers to sit tight through the average three to four quarters most sudden stop episodes last for. I don’t intend to wargame such tactics here. They would have to be highly time and country specific. Suffice to say, as left governments appear on the brink of power, their right wing nationalist and neoliberal centrist opponents are likely to try to tie their hands, for example by running down reserves. What is certain however, is that from Day One a left government taking power has to give as many people as possible “skin in the game” of its survival. Fortuitously, the neoliberal model of capitalism has over the past 30 years depleted the amount of power wielded by parliaments in favour of executive power. Though the medium-term aim of a left government would be to reverse this trend, the Day One question would be: what is possible through urgent ministerial action? Let’s take the example of the UK. Here, ministers can, technically, order their departments to do anything that is not illegal or forbidden by treaties. However, a huge realtime audit power is given to senior civil servants by their role as “accounting officers” for each department. They can object to ministerial actions and have frequently done so, most commonly on grounds of “value for money”. If not doing something is cheaper than doing it, or if a minister is proposing to pursue anything other than the value for money option, the permanent secretary can object, requiring the minister to issue a “direction”, which then becomes a public cause célèbre. In the case of a left-led Labour government in the UK, it’s not hard to imagine the process becoming weaponised: one minister after another clashing publicly with their civil servants over whether a state investment bank, state aid to a steel works, or the choice of a public healthcare provider over Richard Branson, is “value for money”. This power, in other words, would lie in the hands of civil servants even after Brexit. Without Brexit, the rules of the single market would simply give the permanent secretary added justification. However, the definition of value for money lies entirely in the hands of the Treasury. Though the National Audit Office is headed by an officer appointed by the Queen, the value for money guidelines (last <a href="">issued in 2004</a>) are drawn up by HM Treasury. So the most far-reaching thing a left Labour government could do on Day One would be to set out new value for money rules aligned with the macroeconomic philosophy of its new Treasury economics team, which recognises the power of public spending multipliers to stimulate growth in excess of the sum outlaid. This revised philosophy on public spending would ripple through Whitehall in the space of a few days. It would probably ruffle a few people’s people’s feathers, above all the National Audit Office which has been working to different guidelines. But it would remove one of the classic neoliberal objections to ministerial actions. It would free individual departments to take operational decisions in pursuit of short term objectives. </p><strong>First 100 days</strong><p> What might these be? If things go wrong, the answer could easily end up as: a set of reactive or piecemeal measures designed to address long-held grievances, or assuage public opinion. Or measures that make sense in the long-term but deliver very little “skin in the game” for the electorate that has installed the left-wing government in the first place. To make things go right for a left government in its first few weeks, you have to understand the strategic objective: to change the dynamics of the whole British economy so that if ever a right wing government returns to power it will, as the Tories did in 1951, accept large parts of what the left has achieved as the foundation for a <a href="">new consensus</a>. With this in mind here are the five things I would urge a Corbyn/Sturgeon government in the UK, or a Sanchez/Iglesias government in Spain, or Democrat government in the US under Bernie Sanders to do in the first 100 days: <strong>1. Switch off the neoliberal privatisation machine</strong>. This is not yet about reversing existing privatisations but declaring that there will be no new ones, and stating that outsourcing will no longer be done on the cheapest-wins basis, or by preferring private over public provision. The government should state that its preference is for essential public services to be provided by publicly-owned bodies and that the market, and any competition rules required by the EU, NAFTA or WTO, will be worked-around. Furthermore, existing privatised utilities and monopolies, once renationalised, will not be run as profit-making corporations but with the aim of providing social value in the form of cheaper energy, cheaper rail travel, higher wages, and of creating templates for new forms of social ownership at large scale such as co-operatives, platform co-operatives, credit unions, ethical banks and benefit corporations. <strong>2. Publish, and therefore signal the imminence of, a basic package of new labour rights to be legislated without consultation</strong>. The consultation stage was the election, should be the argument. The new rights should be a mixture of individual and collective: </p><ul> <li>With regards to individual rights, the aim would be massive, free and easy access to the justice system, whereby individual workers can enforce their human rights against employers. Though in the UK it would require reversal of legislation from the neoliberal era, ministerial directives could do a lot of the work up front.</li> <li>With regards to collective rights, the removal of exemptions for small businesses, and for people in post for less than an arbitrary time limit would be easy game changers before primary legislation takes place. An employment minister turning up at McDonalds, TGI Fridays or Pret A Manger, with the cameras but unannounced, to tell the workforce that within six months they will have the right to a living wage, union representation on the board, collective wage bargaining, paid holidays and maternity leave could have as much effect on behavioural change as the legislation itself.</li> <li>The issue of bogus self-employment, which plagues industries as diverse as construction, hairdressing and journalism could be addressed by the relevant Treasury surveillance department having its staff tripled and bonuses paid for successful prosecutions of the relevant employers. Since the business model of these sectors would have to change, it would require a transition period to get the relevant workforce on the books, paying the right taxes and receiving the right benefits. But the early signal should trigger rapid behaviour change among all those businesses that intended to survive.</li> </ul><p> <strong>3. Set up an Infrastructure Commission</strong>. The UK already has a National Infrastructure Commission which advises on long-term projects, but a progressive solution would be to set one up with executive powers, allied to a state investment bank to raise and spend the money. &nbsp;While it might take more than 12 months to legislate and raise money for a state investment bank, and get regulatory clearance from the EU, the Treasury could require a sub-department to begin operating in the shadow of the intended bank immediately, assessing the likely funding decisions, modelling the outcomes etc. Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Commission should, drawing together major sectors, cities and town governments, determine the detailed plan to spend billions borrowed under new rules which allow borrowing for investment. To the extent that a Labour – or Spanish or French left government – remained under the tutelage of the European Union, it would have to press for the reform of the Maastricht criteria or secure opt-outs from them – above all exempting borrowing to invest from the deficit limits. A US left government would, as long as it controlled Congress, face very few obstacles to enacting a major fiscal stimulus, unless China decided to use the extra borrowing to trigger a currency and debt showdown. In the medium-term, the success of such projects would be indicated by whether they began to transform blighted communities, not by the kilometres of motorway or railways upgraded. However, the major signalling job has to be done upfront. The private sector – both domestic and international – should react positively to a clear, irreversible long-term signal from government to upgrade not only the physical infrastructure but the social and environmental situations. The earlier and clearer it is given the better. <strong>4. Change the remit of the central bank.</strong> For left governments in the Eurozone this would need a prolonged and co-ordinated struggle to reform the ECB. In Britain and the USA, much of it could happen through a letter from the finance minister. The principles of a post-neoliberal remit for, say, the Bank of England are not hard to design. They should be: </p><ul> <li>Non-intervention in fiscal policy: then Bank of England governor Mervyn King once threatened to counteract any fiscal stimulus by the Brown government in excess of what he deemed strictly necessary to maintain inflation at around 2%. Such reasoning should be explicitly excluded, demoting the central bank from its high perch in the neoliberal hierarchy.</li> <li>A policy to promote mild inflation: under neoliberalism, because the implicit fear was of a wage take-off which never materialised, central banks like the Bank of England always put the brakes on growth and never put the brakes hard enough on recessions.</li> <li>Macroprudential regulation: i.e. spotting and preventing boom-bust cycles and the failure of systemic banks, roughly as now only with more political transparency and prejudice in favour of early intervention.</li> </ul><p> And that’s it. You would also need an industrial policy, but as I outlined in the previous essay if you want to keep a roughly multilateral and global system the industrial policy more or less writes itself: move legacy industries up the value chain, build “human capital” (i.e. skill and wage-earning potential) and keep some core industries, like steel, energy and defence manufacturing onshore and domestically owned for reasons of national security (in a deteriorating global environment). Industrial policy and a long-term fiscal expansion would pay their dividends over five to ten years, not 90 days. But the combination of ending privatisation, empowering the workforce, borrowing to invest in infrastructure and subordinating the central bank to the national economy’s interests, not the global elite’s doctrines, are the four big pumps a left government needs to make work. [caption id="attachment_3150" align="aligncenter" width="550"]<img class="wp-image-3150" src="//" alt="" width="550" height="411" /> "McStrike" in Crayford, 2017. Image: War on Want, CC BY 2.0[/caption] Hard as it may be for some Corbynistas to accept, the rest is basically tactical. Whether to bring all state-owned housing back under the control of councils or to incentivise the housing associations to deliver the same result; whether to build a tidal lagoon at Swansea or a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point – &nbsp;these are legitimate matters of debate inside the left, mobilising interest groups, obsessions and differing priorities. But they are secondary issues when it comes to implementing a new model, stabilising the country’s position within a fragmenting global system and giving the mass of people “skin in the game”. The problem is, even as you revive a high-growth, high-wage, state-led economic model in northern-hemisphere countries, across the whole of the developed world the dynamics I described in ‘Postcapitalism’ are inescapable. It is these that make classic Keynesian expansion programmes unsuitable for the 21st century. </p><strong>How technology alters the medium term agenda</strong><p> There are four main processes triggered by information technology which, medium term, left governments have to construct responses to. They are: </p><ul> <li>the collapsing cost of production of everything that is touched by infotech, which then disrupts the price mechanism itself (making things cheap or free);</li> <li>the delinking of work from wages, which allows leisure time and labour to bleed into one another, promoting massive under-employment and – at the bottom of the labour market – precarity;</li> <li>the emergence of new, positive, network effects, producing new use-values on an exponential scale, which are not prima-facie the property of any company or individual; and</li> <li>massive asymmetries of information, and therefore power.</li> </ul><p> As I argued in ‘Postcapitalism’, these processes fundamentally challenge the property relations on which the market system rests. In response, over the past 15 years, the following structural mutations have taken place, which a left government would need to deal with: </p><ul> <li>The zero-marginal cost effect, which calls into being vast monopolies like Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft whose sole aim is to suppress price formation.</li> <li>The possibility of rapid automation, which calls forth its opposite: mass precarity and under-employment. Today we create millions of jobs which do not need to exist, just to include the low paid in the more lucrative mechanisms of exploitation, namely the credit system and social media (via the smartphone)</li> <li>Network effects, dubbed positive externalities by economists, which are captured by information monopolies, preventing the socially useful exploitation of user data except where it is useful to the monopolies.</li> <li>New information asymmetries, which market theory says should be eroded by competition, are institutionalised with copyright, IP and patents extended ad infinite by the power of global corporations, and with the mass of small investors permanently disempowered compared to the large, niche, unaccountable ones.</li> </ul><p> From this contrast between the potential of the information economy and its malformed present arises the need for a programme of transition which radical social democracy should graft onto – and indeed into – the more traditional measures outlined above. It should include: <strong>1. Breaking up or nationalising information monopolies</strong>, like Facebook and Amazon, so that price competition can bring the cost of information goods closer to zero. <strong>2. Subsidising a programme of rapid automation with taxpayer-funded basic services and basic incomes</strong>: transport, education to degree level, healthcare and housing should be at a basic level free and beyond that cheap. <strong>3. Outlawing the seizure and colonisation of collective user data by the IT industry and make data a public good</strong>. Empower citizens to tweak and control the conditions under which private companies own and exploit their data, using mechanisms such as the blockchain. This is the principle behind current trials both in Barcelona and Amsterdam, and if generalised would represent a major reversal and limitation of the power of the info-monopolies. <strong>4. Enacting a new, universal human right to information symmetry</strong>: “no decisions about me, without me”, if translated into the information sphere, would force global corporations to cease building business models on the basis of permanent asymmetry of power and information. Algorithms should be transparent, and artificial intelligence deployed only with informed consent and under strict ethical guidelines. Data privacy should be a fundamental human right, and flouting it should lead to the termination of a corporation’s licence to operate. Though breaking up the tech monopolies costs you nothing (apart from political grief), the move to a basic income and services model, paid for out of taxation, would demand a major rebalancing of the tax system in favour of redistribution. Winning the argument for this becomes the key objective of a radical social democracy. Consequently, squandering redistributive taxation measures in pursuit of the pet social-democratic objectives should be, where possible, avoided. Instead of relying on redistributive tax measures, a sovereign state like Britain, the USA or the Eurozone has the ability, using its central bank, currency and new borrowing, to fund the “Keynesian” half of what I propose here. The other half – the massive cheapening of goods and services required to make everyday life with low work hours – is what needs new, redistributive taxation. “Your kids go to school, your healthcare becomes world class, your journey to work cheap and your home affordable… and Facebook, Google, Deutsche Bank and some hedge funds pay for it,” is a narrative that I think, if confidently outlined, could allow the radical left to breakthrough into government across the developed world. Especially once the ethnic-utopias of the demagogic right deliver, as expected, only tears and disappointment. [caption id="attachment_3152" align="aligncenter" width="550"]<img class="wp-image-3152" src="//" alt="" width="550" height="367" /> Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets members of the European Parliament. Image: European Parliament, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0[/caption] For Labour in Britain, the art of winning the next election revolves around switching off the scatter gun of progressive promises and building a tight narrative around economic transformation, wage growth and the right to free basic services. The fact that the left controls the spray gun, not the right, does not solve the essential problem RH Tawney <a href="">pointed to in the 1930s</a>: either Labour has a clear strategy or it has a shopping list written by a committee. Tawney’s survey of Labour under George Lansbury in 1934 described Labour’s programme then as “a glittering forest of Christmas trees with presents for everyone, instead of a plan of campaign for… a pretty desperate business”. Tawney advised Labour’s hierarchy to set out the kind of society it wanted to establish, the kind of resistance expected, and the mechanisms needed to overcome that resistance. Though Podemos and France Insoumise are equally guilty of the “forest of Christmas trees” approach, it should be said that their leaders have made no bones about the need for mass organisations focused on overcoming resistance. </p><p>***</p><p> The first half of the strategy I have proposed here draws on classic Keynesianism but goes way beyond it: it requires a revolution in thinking about the central bank; the removal of market-oriented culture across government; and the explicit adoption of a high wage and moderately pro-inflation policy that could, over time, begin to de-financialise society. And the imposition of new macroeconomic thinking in key government departments so that the likely positive effects of borrowing, spending and printing money are factored in. The second half, though more future oriented, has fewer policy shibboleths to overcome. The art of staying in government, and delivering irreversible change, revolves around how much of this new, transitional strategy Labour (or any other left social democracy) can manage to insert into its change programme in the first five years. Suppose it goes right. What could a radical left government expect to achieve in four or five years? In week one and month one: survive the financial backlash and mobilise the people by giving them clear, tangible things to defend. In the first year, kickstart growth and wage growth through fiscal and monetary expansion. In years two to five, allow infrastructural investment and human capital growth take over and, if possible, produce a sustainable upswing. Meanwhile, begin the microeconomic transformation to the new kinds of business model, ownership and technology regulations that are needed to allow the move to a shorter-hours, higher welfare economy. This is still only an outline. But it’s a clearer outline than the ones contained in any left manifesto in the past three years. The clearer and simpler the outline, the more easily it can be communicated to the managers, civil servants, trade union/community activists and entrepreneurs who will have to respond to it. I can anticipate numerous objections – and will deal with them if people respond to this essay. But to one objection I want to be brutally honest in advance. Is this strategy designed to allow the populations of the developed world to capture more of the growth projected over the next 5-15 years, if necessary at the cost of China, India and Brazil having to find new ways to break out of the middle income trap? Would it, in other words, flatten out and reverse the trends captured in Branko Milanovic’s famous “<a href="">elephant graph</a>” over the next two decades? For me the answer is yes. This is a programme to save democracy, democratic institutions and values in the developed world by reversing the 30-year policy of enriching the bottom 60% and the top 1% of the world’s population. It is a programme to deliver growth and prosperity in Wigan, Newport and Kirkcaldy – if necessary at the price of not delivering them to Shenzhen, Bombay and Dubai.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Paul Mason Wed, 20 Jun 2018 09:45:48 +0000 Paul Mason 118504 at Scotland is better at democracy than Westminster – but that’s too low a bar <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Three quarters of Scots feel they have little or no influence over local services. A coalition of campaigners is seeking to change that.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Garbh Allt, one of the latest community land buyouts. Credit: Garbh Allt Community Intiative Estate</em></p><p>Scotland is a great teacher about modern politics. The politics is more open and inclusive than it is in Westminster – partly as a result of having ditched Westminster’s one-party-takes-all voting system. But being better at democracy than Westminster is not a particularly high bar.</p><p>Scotland does not escape the inequality, confusion and precariousness that is fuelling bad politics across the globe. Democracy is not only about elections: in Scotland we see a relatively vibrant political and activist culture, often challenging and at times belligerent in the face of concentrations of power. Still, we can do better.</p> <p>Democracy is not only about elections – it is mostly about power. Jane MacLeay, the American trade union organiser, defines power as being “the ability to stop bad things happening to you and your community and the ability to make good things happen”. If democracy is about anything it should be about making sure that all communities have that sort of power. This might seem obvious – but it is not a conclusion we came to quickly. </p> <p>In 2012, a coalition of campaigners including Common Weal, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Scottish Rural Parliament, Galgael and others, began to try and work out what would make Scotland’s democracy better. We had a good starting point – Scotland’s <a href="///C:/Users/localuser/Downloads/CDP-2016-0158.pdf">1989 Claim of Right</a> drawn up by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which asserts the sovereignty of Scottish people. </p> <p>We wanted to discuss and begin to describe how this beautiful idea could be made a reality. After 18 months of public meetings, roundtables and a citizen’s assembly we produced a set of recommendations called <a href="">Democracy Max</a>.</p> <p>The main idea is that democracy should work best locally – in the places we live and work, send our kids to school, dance with our friends, use the transport systems and create homes. The fact that it doesn’t is a demonstration that centralisation and ‘top down’ might work well for those on the top, but it seems to pull power away from most people and detracts from their ability to make good things happen for them and /or stop bad things. </p> <p>Since then we have worked hard to learn from many communities across Scotland and experimented with different ways of helping people find that power. In 2015 this became a campaign to try and change the institutions and processes of government, as the present set up does much to hinder and not enough to help. The campaign was named after what we saw the best of those local community activists doing: “Acting as If You Own the Place”. Action at the local level included community land buyouts in the Highlands and Islands, Student Community Housing Coops in Edinburgh, <a href="">The Fire Station Creative</a> in Dunfermline, <a href="">The Stove Project</a> in Dumfries, Leith Decides in Edinburgh and many more. </p> <p>Democracy is suffering a range of morbid symptoms – from fake news to alleged Russian collusion in our elections, from unscrupulous data harvesting to out-of-control campaign spending and rule-dodging. And power is centralised not only in Westminster but, for Scots – in Edinburgh. </p> <p>Levels of local representation in Scotland are the lowest in Europe – leaving many feeling powerless. Back in 2016, research for Electoral Reform Society Scotland revealed 76 percent of Scots felt they had no or very little influence on council spending or services. This disempowerment was just another reason for campaigners to launch the <a href="">Our Democracy</a> “Act as if You Own the Place” campaign.</p> <p>We need to understand the causes and the cures. Democracy develops and is remade in different places for different times. </p> <p>That the government is consulting on a bill for Scottish local governance is a source of optimism, while people are challenging broken power structures across the board: from the #MeToo movement to campaigns for a fairer franchise and real diversity in politics. </p> <p>Join us to try to understand these problems and to work at remaking our democracy to be the best version yet. We can make it through the democratic winter – a democratic spring might start first here, in Scotland. </p> <p><em>To register for June 23rd’s ‘Democracy21’ conference on building a democracy fit for the 21st century, <a href="">visit the Eventbrite page here</a>.</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Willie Sullivan Mon, 18 Jun 2018 10:26:11 +0000 Willie Sullivan 118448 at Monday’s trade votes are a cynical move to entrench undemocratic procedures <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The vote on two EU trade deals with Canada and Japan is a cynical move to quash debate about the democratic processes for – and the content of – the UK’s future trade deals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>This Monday, MPs will be asked to debate and <a href="">vote</a> on two EU trade deals with Canada and Japan. The government will argue that this is all about stability for business and normal because we remain an EU member until the end of the transition period.<em>UPDATE: after this article was published the order of business for parliament was changed to remove the debate about the EU-Canada deal.<em>UPDATE: after this article was published, debates on both the EU-Canada and EU-Japan deal were taken off the parliamentary agenda. It is expected that they will be brought back to parliament soon.</em> This Monday, MPs will be asked to debate and <a href="">vote</a> on two EU trade deals with Canada and Japan. The government will argue that this is all about stability for business and normal because we remain an EU member until the end of the transition period. We must not be fooled: tabled ten months before the transition period and in the midst of Brexit mayhem, this is a cynical move to quash debate about the democratic processes for – and the content of – the UK’s future trade deals. Let’s start with the argument that signing on to the EU-Canada (CETA) and EU-Japan (JEFTA) trade deals sends a strong <a href="">signal</a> to business that the UK is serious about maintaining stability as it enters the transition period. In fact, the opposite is true. The government has <a href="">delayed</a>, beyond all reasonable expectations, bringing its <a href="">Trade Bill</a> back to the Commons. The Bill is extremely limited in scope, but it does seek to establish the transfer of EU trade deals into UK law. Not bringing it to parliament means that, ten months before we enter the transition period, when we are allowed to start formal trade negotiations, we still don’t have an adequate procedure in place to govern the transfer of EU trade deals into UK law. More importantly, there is no agreement from partners that they are prepared to do this without making changes to the text. There is also no indication from the UK government about the kind of trade deal it wants nor how it will incorporate <a href="">expertise</a> from business or civil society into the negotiation of those trade deals. Is this a normal part of our ongoing EU membership? Absolutely not. For the blatantly obvious reason that we are no longer normal members. There is no requirement to rush into ratifying these deals, indeed it is likely to take other countries much <a href="">longer</a> and there is uncertainty about whether <a href="">Italy</a> will sign at all. Most importantly though, ratifying now <a href="">ties</a> us into provisions in the deal for a further twenty years, not least of which is giving companies registered in Canada the ability to sue the UK through private courts. It is hard to describe this as anything other than sheer foolishness. There is then a significant question about why the government would seek to ratify a deal that might not come into force before we leave the EU, that we might not be able to replicate but that we would not be able to totally extricate ourselves from for a couple of decades. There are two likely answers. First, the government can be pretty certain that the deals will be <a href="">voted through</a>, not because MPs have carefully considered their contents or implications but because the politics of Brexit overrides everything else. Remainers will likely vote for it because it looks like it keeps us close to the EU. MPs worried about seeming anti-business or anti-trade will vote for it to shore up their credentials in that area. For Labour, this means ignoring MEPs like <a href="">Jude Kirton-Darling</a> who have spent much more time considering the deal. For Conservative Brexiteers, this means reinforcing the kind of <a href="">doublethink</a> that has characterised their positions since the referendum: we want to leave the EU because we don’t like it but we like trade liberalisation so we’ll sign up to EU deals anyway. What is of huge concern to organisations like the Trade Justice Movement, is that rushing these deals through now will allow the government to claim that MPs have no issues with the current criminally <a href="">weak procedures</a> for agreeing trade deals. These procedures allow the government total control over decisions like what partner countries we will trade with, what will be in the deals and whether or not we sign. Parliament’s role is symbolic at best and there are no structures and no real expectation that civil society should have a voice. If you’re an MP voting through CETA and JEFTA, you are in effect saying that you’re fine with that. Finally, a vote in favour of these deals on Monday also sends a signal that MPs are happy with them as a model for future UK deals. Yet these deals <a href="">lock</a> in the privatisation of public services (because they contain something called a ‘negative list’), which means Labour can forget its proposals to <a href="">renationalise</a> the railways. They require the UK to consult with partner countries and business on any proposed regulation, shifting power away from ordinary people and politicians, and they give corporations registered in Canada and Japan the right to sue the UK if a change in our regulations negatively impacts on the profitability of their investments. Trade deals are no longer just about the movement of goods around the world, they cover many areas of everyday life. Ratifying CETA and JEFTA will threaten our ability to decide how we run our public services and the kinds of standards we want for our food, health, labour and environment. It is beyond undemocratic to rush a vote through that will tie us in to liberalisation in these areas. Politicians need to set aside their Brexit straightjackets and reject the deals.</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Ruth Bergan Mon, 18 Jun 2018 09:52:26 +0000 Ruth Bergan 118447 at Democratic politics beyond liberal democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>End the exalted position of politics as something separate from an increasingly connected and savvy populace. Let them – us – take control.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="206" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesters at the Catalan independence referendum, 2017. Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Miquel Garcia</a> (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 ES). </span></span></span>In addressing the discussion advanced by <a href="" target="_blank">Michael J. Sandel</a> and welcomed by <a href="" target="_blank">Jon Cruddas</a>, we should begin with what is dying and what is vital about liberal democracy and progressive politics. In my view, both arguments are partly on the right track. The crises of progressive politics and liberal democracy cannot be thought through in splendid isolation from the long tail of the crisis in capitalism.</p><p dir="ltr">That liberal democracies have so far proven to be the most endurable governance norm for advanced capitalist states doesn't mean this arrangement of politics and economics is without tension, nor that we cannot improve upon it. The rise of authoritarian capitalisms, the threats to democracy in eastern Europe, and the challenge populist politics pose to the so-called mature democracies suggest that there's still some way to go before, as Francis Fukuyama put it, history comes to an end.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>More democracy not less</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Nevertheless, addressing the crisis demands thinking about its positive resolution. In other words, I'm interested in saving liberal democracy to improve and go beyond it. You answer challenges to democracy by offering more democracy, not less. If empowering people to take charge of their lives is more than a feel-good phrase, or a strap line for corporate social responsibility, we need a politics that is serious about it. This necessarily is a politics aimed at the anarchy of the market and tyranny of the workplace, a politics of mass participation, and a politics that dispenses with managerialism. This also requires an honest reckoning with the establishment politics of the near past, their consequences, and how they have helped usher in the oft bewildering and counter-intuitive politics we see now.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anthony Giddens and Tony Blair, 1999. Image: <a href="" target="_blank">LSE Library</a>. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">The record of New Labour offers many a lesson in this regard. Consider the third way, a largely after-the-fact justification of the policy orientation pursued by Tony Blair (and Bill Clinton). So-called because of its apparent equidistant positioning between the free market brutalism of Thatcherism, and the alleged inefficiencies of welfare state capitalism with its strong trade unions, price controls and state running of industry, it presented itself as a new politics. For Anthony Giddens, the sociologist whose writing on the third way model was highly influential, the old solidarities were receding and the class politics of the 1970s and 1980s were giving way to, what he termed, the “life politics” of the 1990s and beyond. This was his shorthand, not just for the emergence of a mass identity politics, but also the new concerns for the self, for consumerism and self-actualisation. The fixation on aspiration, famously defined by former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander in <a href="" target="_blank">a 2008 pamphlet</a> as "second home ownership, two cars in the driveway, a nice garden, two foreign holidays a year, and leisure systems in the home such as sound, cinema, and gym equipment" was less an extrapolation of a social fact, and more the breathless hyping of consumerist individualism. The obvious means of realising this particular kind of aspiration was through the market, which Giddens demanded that the left become comfortable with. Small wonder that the "economic efficiency" accompanying pledges of "social justice" was, in practice, more deregulation, cuts and privatisation, and, crucially, the extension of individual but not collective rights in the workplace; changes always driven by administrative fiat from above.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Disastrous consequences</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The consequences of third way economic policy on society at large were far reaching. In the first place, and despite the rebuilding of the public realm (albeit in a market friendly way), subordination to the market helped undermine what Giddens calls “ontological security”, a term he uses to describe people’s sense of belonging and attachment to their surroundings. In practice, more markets meant more insecurity and the atomisation of a section of Labour's base. Ironically, this &nbsp;weakened the organised labour movement further and with it the old trade union right, a crucial part of Blair's in-party coalition, which contributed to the hollowing out of the party, and eventually led to its rapid take over by the left.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-right">Where New Labour went, many centre-left parties followed and suffered even more disastrous consequences.</span> The problem with progressive politics, defined by Sandel and Cruddas as the parties of liberalism and the old social democratic and labourist left (excluding Corbynism, and continental left populists like Podemos) is not that they were "technocratic" and didn't have a convincing story of nation and place to tell, it was that this is a secondary feature of their collapse. </p><p>When Parti Socialiste in France, <a href="" target="_blank">PASOK in Greece</a>, the German Social Democrats, Partito Democratico in Italy, <a href="" target="_blank">Labour in Scotland</a>, and the Labour Party in the Netherlands have administered or been seen to associate themselves with the kinds of policies and parties that crash the living standards of their core constituencies, the problem of and responsibility for the catastophic loss of electoral support rests with the authors of these positions. Attacking workers' rights and making it easier to fire people, cutting public sector jobs, privatising state assets, enforcing new conditionalities on social security, these policies elicit resistance and, if they are written into law, &nbsp;disillusionment and demoralisation. The result is the dispersal of core parts of the electoral coalition centre-left parties need to win elections and survive.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Bewildered centre-left</strong></p><p dir="ltr">It is a measure of the bewilderment of the centre-left that few convincing explanations have been advanced from this quarter to explain why Labour did well at the 2017 general election not just among the young, but according to polling in its immediate aftermath, in all occupational groups under the age of 54. Youthquake explanations can't explain the rise in support among those of us who'd struggle to be described as young people. Equally unconvincing is the remain vote explanation because, a year on from the election, Labour are still polling around the 40% mark while the avidly pro-EU parties, except for the SNP, are virtually nowhere. As I have argued in my contribution to <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Corbyn Effect</a></em>, a collection of essays edited by Mark Perryman, we have to think about the long-term changes to capitalism in the West that predate the 2008 crash but that the crisis, with the agency of governments of left and right, have helped accelerate; chief among them, the growing predominance of immaterial labour.</p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="" target="_blank">Cruddas's openDemocracy piece</a>, and more obviously in his <em><a href="" target="_blank">New Statesman</a></em> and <a href="" target="_blank">Fabian essays</a>, he takes aim at the new, "post-capitalist" left and assimilates <a href="" target="_blank">immaterial labour</a> to knowledge work, suggesting that an emphasis on this more or less abandons working class people. This completely misunderstands the character and scope of immaterial labour. Commenting on the relationship between state and economy in post-war Italy, the activist and author Antonio Negri argued that more and more workers were drawn into employment outside of the "classical" wage labour contract between private employer and worker, and into the circuits of social reproduction or what, to borrow a phrase, you might call the foundational economies of capitalism. The business of production and profit would be a lean, episodic affair were it not for dependable education systems, the health and welfare systems, physical and legal infrastructures, and so on. These do not produce materials, but intangibles. Reducing immaterial labour to knowledge completely overlooks how capitalism has encroached on all aspects of our everyday lives from data to care and relationships.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Broening Hwy, Baltimore, US" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Broening Hwy, Baltimore, US. Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Maryland GovPics</a> (CC BY 2.0). </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">As we moved into the 1980s, immaterial labour became an important source of value production too. Research and the creative industries are the "sexy" end of immaterial labour, but they are a minority. Office work, call centre work, shop assistants, couriers, care work, hospitality, the bulk of the jobs in what we classify the service sector are organised around immaterial labour, the production of intangibles. Employment here depends on our capacities to perform socially. When I worked in a supermarket, for example, my ability to scan shopping in a speedy manner was secondary to the sociable, ever-smiling, ever-pleasant manner shopworkers were expected to put on. Job adverts list the skills and experience they seek, but most crucial is whether the candidate meets the person specification.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Exploiting the commons</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="" target="_blank">Negri’s more recent collaborations with Michael Hardt</a>, they argue that the social world, or commons, is what capital increasingly exploits. Instead of extracting value by not paying the worker the full value of what is produced as per the classical Marxist approach, accumulation proceeds through capturing value. Unlike exploitation hidden behind the wage relation as per Marx in Capital, this is more easily visible: zero-hours contracts, flexi-working, bogus self-employment, even well remunerated consultants can see the revenue generated by their labour and how much goes to the app or employer. Capitalism here finds itself in a new bind. Immaterial labour is socially cooperative, drawing on the competencies, knowledges and innovation of the social commons, but too often the capital dependent on it undermines this cooperation by individuating and atomising its employees, denying them rights and expecting them to get by on episodic and insecure work.</p><p dir="ltr">Why is this relevant to our current discussion? Firstly, immaterial labour is obviously vital to capitalism. Arguably, it always has been. However, now the social commons is a strategic vector of capital accumulation. This will have direct consequences on our politics. It's in this context that we should see Jeremy Corbyn's championing of a lifelong education system, and the recognition of the import of critical thinking, soft skills, and collaborative working by Conservative MP Lee Rowley in the recent Centre for Policy Studies collection, New Blue.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Emphasising how class has changed is not a flight from it but a forceful restatement of class politics</p><p dir="ltr">Secondly, younger people are more likely to be employed as socialised or networked workers, and those who are not stand a greater chance of being older. Thirdly, the growth of immaterial labour does not mean any section of the working class is obsolete. Manual work and the people it employs are transformed by immaterial labour. Not just in terms of the integration of computer-assisted design and automation, but by the socialised and networked life outside of work. The world sits in most people's handbags and pockets. It resides in the laptops, televisions, games consoles at home. The new communication technologies have facilitated new ways of forging relationships, new identities, new thinking and, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal reminds us, new ways of influencing and being influenced.</p><p dir="ltr">Fourthly, increased opportunities for sociality, networking and cooperation have fostered, despite the persistent media panics about identity politics, more tolerance. The advance of social liberalism accompanies the rise of the socialised worker. The clash of values often talked up as something separate to and cutting against class by sundry political science academics actually underlines the salience of class politics. The so-called age divide is a class cohort effect. It also implies social conservatism is in long-term decline, and the rise of right populism, hipster fascism, new misogynies are symptoms of its gradual and steady displacement.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">You answer challenges to democracy by offering more democracy, not less.</p><p dir="ltr">Finally, the importance of the immaterial –&nbsp;ironically – reinstates the necessity of a material politics. Contrary to Cruddas’s critique of the post-capitalist left, emphasising how class has changed is not a flight from it but a forceful restatement of class politics. Capitalism has changed, work has changed, but class remains central. With precarious working the norm, the increased likelihood of having several careers over one’s life, the disadvantaged position young people have in the benefits system, the huge debts hanging around the necks of graduates, the lack of job opportunities generally, and the housing shortage, in the case of Britain – these not only raise significant policy questions, but they throw into sharp relief the apparent inability of capitalism to deliver. A Trotskyist might be left thinking who would have thought home ownership would become a transitional demand?</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Democratising Labour</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The challenge of democratic politics is about making itself relevant to this long-term shift. We need a new coalition, but ultimately it has to be driven from below. Never before in history are so many people educated, skilled, competent, tolerant, and connected. They are fast learners and can break the mould of establishment politics when motivated to do so – in Britain the incredible surge the SNP saw, followed by Labour in England and Wales, is still redefining politics. Knowledge of the rules, of how politics and institutions work, are not the preserve of elites (whether they themselves properly understand it is another matter), but can be grasped and used by the masses. Political skills, organising skills, these are competencies millions of people have, and millions more are capable of acquiring.</p><p class="mag-quote-left" dir="ltr">Treating people as voters, as passive consumers of politics, is a recipe for turning them off, deactivating them.</p><p dir="ltr">The pressure for democratisation in Labour, along with the irreverence towards sitting MPs is not because of the manipulation of members by committee-room lefties, but speaks of a growing awareness and confidence about what must be done to make Labour an agent of political and social transformation. Treating people as voters, as passive consumers of politics, is a recipe for turning them off, deactivating them. There are plenty of parliamentary elites who would not mind this, because they're the big shots again. But it also means nice manifestos, launches and relaunches of policies, wrapping one's party in the flag – all this would be ignored, seen as inauthentic, and feed back into political indifference. Democratic politics are more than occasional elections.</p><p dir="ltr">I'm not someone who often quotes Tony Blair, and even less sees him as a useful source of political wisdom. Yet he did capture something in the old New Labour slogan of forward, not back, and in his 2015 musings about the future as the only "comfort zone" for progressive politics. We must indeed press onwards. The rejuvenation of democratic politics can only pass through more democracy, of loosening politics up so it becomes less about manoeuvring and position, of ending its exalted position as something separate to and apart from an increasingly connected and savvy populace, and letting them – us – take control. Only then can politics proper begin.</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="/michael-j-sandel/populism-trump-and-future-of-democracy">Populism, Trump, and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jon-cruddas-response-to-michael-sandel">Progressive politics must rediscover its moral purpose: a response to Michael Sandel</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/anthony-barnett/i-am-not-liberal-but-if-i-have-to-get-into-bed-with-them-i-will">Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/edmund-fawcett/hard-right-and-its-threats-to-democratic-liberalism">The hard right and its threats to democratic liberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ashoka-mody/german-social-democrats-have-alienated-their-base-and-fractured-europe">German social democrats have alienated their base and fractured Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francesco-ronchi/liberals-year-zero">Liberals, Year Zero</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> Can Europe make it? uk Phil Burton-Cartledge Fri, 15 Jun 2018 16:23:53 +0000 Phil Burton-Cartledge 118426 at God votes in India, abstains in Britain, Part II <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Unlike in India, British democracy, distorted by Mammon, is spared by God.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.42.47.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.42.47.png" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screen Shot: The Mail on Sunday.</span></span></span>Britain has undergone rapid secularisation in the last 50 years. It is no playground for religious bigots. Northern Ireland is an exception. There are some people who are always ready to die for their religion. In the rest of the country, the clergy’s influence has waned over the years. </p> <p>In neighbouring Ireland, the Catholic church’s hold on popular imagination has been loosened. &nbsp;This was once considered improbable. The latest referendum results that went against the Government’s faith-driven anti-abortion policy have been interpreted as a public rebuke to the Catholic church.</p> <p>A fall in the numbers of church-goers and the growing indifference to religion have been going on in Britain for decades. Perhaps the deprived tend to turn to God in desperation. So, when prosperity brought TV sets, washing machines and ample bread with butter and marmalade, the need for God declined in Britain. Commercial success promotes materialism. Poets foresee. More than a century earlier, Matthew Arnold had heard the withdrawing roar of faith!</p> <p>Even during the interwar era, the trend of religious indifference continued, though religious questions could stir up occasional excitement. Post-war Britain did not witness a religious revival of the kind that gripped the US. American evangelists like Billy Graham came and went but failed to awaken Britons to a religious frenzy.</p> <h2><strong>Different flavours</strong></h2> <p>Britain has taken major strides towards becoming a multi-religious and multi-cultural nation. The children of the British Empire barged in from distant lands and a large number of surviving Western European Jews made Britain their home. Immigration from Pakistan and other countries made Islam the religion of several thousand Britons.</p> <p>The existence of God and the interface between religion and science are debated vigorously in Britain. The writings of Richard Dawkins helped promote new atheism. The sixties assaulted orthodoxy and left a legacy of New Age religions. As the hold of institutional religion loosened, many young Britons started looking inwards. They found individual ways of fulfilling a kind of spiritual yearning. Many believers started ignoring the God without and heeding the God within. The trend of privatisation of religion picked up.</p> <p>The swinging sixties further expanded and intensified secular influence despite the traditionalists warning against television, lurid advertising and creeping crass commercialism. Society kept marching towards materialism. Growing affluence led to an increase in crime and vandalism. Rebels against orthodoxy proliferated.</p> <p>The Eastern mystics saw more devotees coming to their spiritual sessions. Esoteric religious practices aroused interest. Some Christian theologians devised terms such as “Christian Vedanta” which was contested by an Indian scholar! </p> <p>In a land of multiple choices, God started appearing in different flavours. The traditionalists pooh-poohed it as pick-and-mix approach practised in a spiritual supermarket! One commentator sees it as a mark of mobility, an individually decided preference. He says: “It may be as much as the “cool” of freedom that is being aspired to, as the love of Jesus Christ Our Saviour. If so, Nietzsche may be dead, but God only survives by being available in many exciting flavours.”</p> <p>In a statement more relevant to America and India, he says: “Annoyingly it may well be that religion is gaining greater traction, not because of its own strength, but because of the weakness of political parties. Politicians are desperate to reach and use pockets of activism, and – with the death of class politics – the most available and vocal belong to religious organisations.” He finds it slightly worrying. </p> <p>The plurality and diversity of groups within Christianity itself prevented British politics from being dominated by a single, major confrontation between politics and religion. British sociologist James A. Beckford, who makes this comment, could perhaps add collusion to confrontation! He says the British state did not therefore cast politics into a mould which necessarily polarised or amalgamated religion and politics. The fact that all major religious groups drew members from a variety of social classes and cultural backgrounds also helped to prevent religion from becoming a political issue in itself, he says.</p> <p>Successive Governments took steps to end discrimination against religious and other minorities. Political leaders learnt a lesson from the history of sectarian strife in Britain. They perhaps cared for their nation enough not to light the fires of sectarianism that would have turned it into Disunited Kingdom. </p> <h2><strong>Karen Armstrong on Hinduism</strong></h2> <p>A cynic may say they remembered how promoting sectarian strife harmed the former colonies and benefited the British Empire! The western powers know that the best way to destroy a nation is to damage its social fabric. The British Government created and exacerbated religious strife in the colonies but at home promoted religious harmony and multiculturalism. Writer Karen Armstrong said: “It is ironic that the British who had banished ‘religion’ from the public sphere at home should classify the Indian subcontinent in such tightly religious terms”.</p> <p>She says the castes there did not see themselves as forming an organised religion. They found themselves lumped together into something that the British called Hinduism. This term was first used by Muslim conquerors. The British used it to give a communal identity to the natives which was alien to their age-old traditions.</p> <p>Karen Armstrong elaborates further: The British based the Indian electoral system on religious affiliation and in 1871 conducted a census that made these religious communities acutely aware of their numbers and areas of strength in relation to one another. By bringing religion to the fore this way, the British bequeathed a history of communal conflict in South Asia.</p> <p>In Britain, the clergy saw the clashes between the Catholics and Protestants bringing a bad name to Christianity and moved to arrest the trend. They cared for the way their faith was perceived by the people. Considering how Islam is seen today, they were wise to worry about public perception. The Christian leaders have been trying to turn religion into a positive force instead of becoming an obstacle to progress. Modernity was allowed to seep into their very traditional sphere. That is why Christianity is no longer associated with primitive hysteria, as it was once. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.49.04.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.49.04.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The tragic headlines about religious violence in different parts of the world may have also led many Britons to grow more indifferent to their own religion. Islamic extremism and the rise of British nationalism failed to cause panic in Britain about the erosion of Christianity. The Christian majority has enough self-confidence not to fall prey to any narrow-minded group that may try to instil fear in it by pointing to the growing numbers of the others. </p><p>Britain suffered from sectarian conflicts for centuries, but such ugly incidents are now limited to Northern Ireland. It is said that the establishment of the London Stock Exchange brought down the incidence of religious violence. Capitalism and sectarianism or communalism, as it is called in Indian English, do not go together. This is not understood by India’s business tycoons.</p> <h2><strong>Science, law and critical thinking</strong></h2> <p>Apart from the dampening influence of commerce that requires social harmony, two professions have helped check religious frenzy. Britain made significant contributions in the fields of science and law and jurisprudence, producing many eminent scientists and legal luminaries. Both encourage scepticism, argumentation and rational thinking.</p> <p>The British centres of critical thinking do not come under political attacks unlike what happens in the US and in India. The Republicans of America do not trust universities. India’s ruling party has sought to diminish the influence of universities promoting critical thinking.</p> <p>The decline in the number of church-goers, the ageing of congregations, and the rise in the number of disused and closed churches continue. Church buildings are reopened and turned into places of worship by other faith communities. The faithful have got used to seeing the churches becoming bankrupt and being sold! Rational Christians accept the reality and never make a hue and cry over the conversion of a church. </p> <p>Britain is known for football fanatics, not Christian fanatics! Even the pub fights on Friday nights never acquire a religious hue. Jokes about Jesus provoke mirth, not violence. The English trait of not taking things seriously has been accentuated by the media mocking all those who were once revered and respected. They can be turned into objects of scorn. No authority, spiritual or temporal, is safe from cruel hilarity. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.50.41.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.50.41.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The failings of the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church, as disclosed by sexual and financial scandals, can get magnified! These convey the message that to be a Christian is not something great. No menacing group goes around asking fellow Christians to declare it with pride that they are Christians. In India, the secular Hindus are asked to repeat: <em>Garva se kaho hum Hindu hain!</em></p> <h2><strong>“God is my business.”</strong></h2> <p>In Britain those looking for “hurt feelings” have to look towards faith groups other than Christians. An official move to slaughter a diseased temple bull might hurt another community and footwear with an artistic image of Lord Ganesh have a similar effect. The host community can’t understand those whose religious sensitivity is hurt.</p> <p>Christianity in Britain mostly does not resist secularisation. At times, it seems to adapt to it. An Archbishop can preach liberal views or sing along to Beatles’ tunes during the Jubilee Concert! To a politician seeking to use God, an Archbishop might say: “God is my business.”</p> <p>Modernity, moderation and a new emphasis on civil rights led to the scrapping of legal provisions for discrimination against religious minorities in Britain. Inclusiveness and diversity became more acceptable. Several factors contributed to the evolution of a political culture in which religion plays little part.</p> <p>Voting intentions have been studied in terms of religious denominations. A section of Catholics tended to favour Labour. The Church of England was once called the Tory Party at prayer! It is now just an interesting saying. Sectarian differences do not dominate the political scene and never lead to a confrontation. No fatwa is issued before any election! A fatwa will not work since the Church of England commands little political influence.</p> <p>Faith, in any case, does not provoke passion, thanks to the growing indifference towards religion. Nor are political battles fought with great passion, especially since the end of ideology. British politics is not marked by a cut-throat competition. Failure in politics is not dreaded because a political career is not essential for survival. A defeated politician can always migrate to the corporate world and make a decent living.</p> <p>Britain has a much smaller and less conservative religious base, so a political constituency fails to develop. The relations between the Government and Christian leaders are never so smooth that a politician can think of winning popularity through their endorsement. </p> <p>Jesus in Britain, unlike Lord Ram in India, does not improve the electoral prospects of a candidate. Thus, there is no political incentive to create social disharmony by fuelling religious hatred. Political leaders in the UK do not try to polarise the voters on sectarian lines. They do not politicise religion. In fact, they fear that an attempt to misuse religion may backfire. &nbsp;</p> <p>In Britain, political leaders know that hate speech may cost their political career. Indian politicians have no such fear and at times they even violate the law in order to incite religious violence. That is why political discourse has been vulgarised in India. </p> <h2><strong>God, on His part, does not do politics</strong></h2> <p>In the UK, religion has become peripheral to politics. Even devout Christians among British politicians do not do God! God, on His part, does not do politics. God may be an Englishman, but he keeps away from British elections. His messengers bring no political message for the voters. Even the faithful do not consult Him in the polling booth. </p> <p>God grants no electoral support to British politicians. In India, God does bless selected politicians who invoke His name on the eve of an election!</p> <p>Britain’s commercial ethos, Christians’ approach towards their faith and the influence of institutions that promote scepticism, critical thinking and dissent – all have shaped a political culture that shuns extremism. Politics in Britain is not afflicted with religion. British democracy, distorted by Mammon, is spared by God!</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="/openindia/l-k-sharma/god-votes-in-india-abstains-in-britain-part-1">God votes in India, abstains in Britain. Part 1</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openIndia openIndia uk India UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics L K Sharma Fri, 15 Jun 2018 11:39:30 +0000 L K Sharma 118418 at East Coast chaos: privatisation by proxy? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="p1">Nationalisation should not be a mere palliative for private sector collapse, but a tool to bring about a fundamental rebalancing of wealth and power.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In what is by now a wholly unsurprising development, the East Coast line has once again <a href="">been taken into public ownership</a>.In what is by now a wholly unsurprising development, the East Coast line has once again <a href="">been taken into public ownership</a>. We have been here before: the repeated inability of private firms to actually fulfil their contracts and operate the line has been a recurrent theme of the privatisation experience. Back in 2006, when GNER defaulted on their contract and were duly <a href="">stripped of the franchise</a>, calls for nationalisation and the scrapping of the franchising system were ignored. Whilst the former chief of GNER – rather accurately – pointed out that the franchise model was bound to <a href="">‘self-destruct’</a>, then transport secretary Douglas Alexander was busy arguing that he would have <a href="">no problem whatsoever with GNER re-bidding for the franchise</a> they had just defaulted on! National Express subsequently took over the line – and duly defaulted less than two years later. As a 2011 <a href="">Parliamentary report</a> made clear, ‘instead of paying the government £1.4bn over seven-and-a-half years, it <a href="">paid just £120m</a> as the contract was terminated after less than two years.’ This farcically fast failure had minimal consequences for National Express: the £120m represented less than 9% of the contract value and – once again – the Department for Transport, somewhat absurdly, made it clear to National Express that their failure would not be held against them in future franchise bids. Following National Express’ calamitous management, the East Coast line eventually found itself nationalised under the government-run Directly Operated Railways between 2009 and 2015. The result? The line subsequently <a href="">returned £1bn</a> to the national purse, requiring the <a href="">lowest levels of governmental funding</a> as a percentage of total income. Despite these successes, it was seen fit to re-privatise the line – this time to a consortium run by Stagecoach and Virgin – in 2015. Three years later, <em>this </em>franchise has now collapsed: <a href="">transport expert Christian Wolmar</a> is quite right in questioning ‘the point of franchising if the risk is never with the private company, and the promised gains to the taxpayer are clearly just theoretical?’ In response to this latest franchising failure, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell <a href="">congratulated the Conservatives</a> for implementing the ‘first stage of Labour’s Manifesto promise to renationalise the railways’, whilst the Labour MP Jenny Chapman <a href="">called on Chris Grayling</a> - Conservative Transport Minister - to stand up in the House of Commons and say ‘My name is Chris Grayling, and I have just nationalised a rail line.’ There are clear political reasons to make these arguments: a 2017 Legatum Institute report showed <a href="">76% support for rail nationalisation</a>, and nationalisation is a key pillar of Labour’s renewed commitment to economic democracy. It is crucial, however, to remain cognisant of the legislative lay of the land. In 2013, my colleagues Joe Guinan and Thomas Hanna penned a piece for this site, <a href="">describing privatisation as a very British disease</a>: what better demonstration of this than the fact that, in ostensibly nationalising the East Coast, Chris Grayling has actually fobbed it off to a <em>different</em> private operator? Directly Operated Railways, the public body which successfully ran the nationalised East Coast line prior to 2015 – and which will operate the line now Stagecoach and Virgin’s franchise has collapsed – was <a href="">itself quietly privatised</a> (‘Future prospects for DOR’, p. 7) by the <a href="">Conservative government in 2015</a>: the operator of last resort is now a consortium of <a href="">Arup Group, Ernst and Young, and SNC-Lavalin</a>. When measures utilised by government as recently as 2015 no longer exist, it becomes necessary to look seriously at conceptualisations of nationalisation – and the pervasive persistence of privatisation – in the British economy. There is certainly a lot of talk about nationalisation currently, much of it characterised by disingenuous assertions and wishful thinking. Chuka Umunna’s rather spurious <a href="">claim</a> that Labour nationalised Northern Rock during the financial crisis is but one recent example of this trend. A <a href="">House of Commons Research paper</a> offers a rather different take on the matter: The government investment into the banking sector during this period (often characterised as ‘part-nationalisation’) was always intended to be temporary and the government deliberately avoided taking any operational control over the banks which received assistance. The sales of these holdings from 2010 onwards are therefore not examples of ‘privatisation’ by any normal definition. If this divestiture is not regarded as privatisation, it logically figures that the preceding investiture cannot be regarded as nationalisation. Indeed, the statement given by then Chancellor Alastair Darling was <a href="">explicit on these points</a>: public ownership was an option of last resort, only taken due to the rather unsurprising unwillingness of the private sector to clear up the mess, with all operational decisions ‘made by the Board with no interference from the Government’. Bailing out banks or fixing the failures of privatised rail franchises is thus far from the nationalisation we need: privatisation – as the <a href=";view=fulltext">Ridley Plan demonstrated</a> – was always about recalibrating <em>power. </em>The state stepping in to pick up the pieces when privatisation collapses does little to redress these imbalances. Past nationalisations failed for precisely these reasons: <em>ownership </em>of industries might have changed, but not the distribution of <em>power</em>. In his <a href="">study of the nationalised industries</a>, Reuben Kelf-Cohen described how: </p><blockquote><em>"[T]he 'boss' had not gone on 1 January 1947. He was still there but behind him there were other bosses reaching all the way back to London. It was all somewhat bewildering - well put by a miner who described working for the National Coal Board as working for a ghost."</em></blockquote><p> On similar lines, Andrew Cumbers – in his excellent <a href="">Reclaiming Public Ownership</a> – cites discussions with former miners carried out by Beynon and Wainwright: </p><blockquote><em>"I can remember standing at the pit with the banners, celebrating with my father and his friends. They thought, this was it. What a surprise they were going to get. They thought nationalisation would bring everything they’d fought for. But within a very short space of time they found out that they’d swapped one boss for another. The first boss we got was a major from the Indian Army, six months later followed by Captain Nicholson… Later we had a banker!"</em></blockquote><p> As Labour’s accomplished <a href="">Alternative Models of Ownership</a> report made clear, the party leadership has no nostalgia for this top-down, Morrisonian model of nationalisation. Against dissenting voices – some within the Parliamentary Labour Party – it needs to be made clearer still that nationalisation is not a mere palliative for private sector collapse, but a tool to bring about a fundamental rebalancing of wealth and power. Under the privatisation doctrine that still prevails in Britain, even the temporary successes of the nationalised East Coast Line between 2009 and 2015 cannot now be replicated: Directly Operated Railways – the operator of last resort – is now a consortium-led, <em>indirectly</em> contracted service. The collapse – yet again – of a private franchise on the East Coast validates our critique of privatisation; the government response, however, is far from the kind of nationalisation we should be supporting. Privatisation by proxy – replacing Virgin and Stagecoach with EY and Arup – is not the answer. With strong support for public ownership, it is incumbent upon us to put forward <a href="">models of democratic ownership</a> – nationalisation, municipalisation, worker-led co-operatives – which can become properly entrenched in – and fundamentally rebalance – our political economy and in so doing remain impervious to attack and dismantlement.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Joe Bilsborough Thu, 14 Jun 2018 11:13:03 +0000 Joe Bilsborough 118400 at It’s the vulnerable who pay when councils outsource – a personal story of special needs transport <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Outsourcing services, combined with ‘austerity’, leads to inadequate oversight and corner cutting – and leaves service users vulnerable to injury, even death.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A bus with a wheelchair lift. Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Steve Morgan</a> (CC BY-SA 3.0). </span></span></span>For several years, our son Tom travelled to and from his special needs school without incident in a minibus run by an outsourced company commissioned and paid by the County Council. One of the four students in the minibus had challenging behaviour, but he was young and still quite small, and the escort was able to manage his behaviour.</p> <p>However, as this younger child grew bigger his challenging behaviour became more difficult to manage. Neither the driver nor the escort had any training at all in behaviour management. One driver had already quit the route because of this student’s behaviour.</p> <p>One day in June, the student, let’s call him Barry, hit Tom in the stomach. Barry was not acting intentionally; his behaviour was related to his learning disability. It is likely that his challenging behaviour was exacerbated by going to school in a minibus – he should have had the calmness and predictability of lone transport. As Tom has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the consequences of the assault could have been very serious, even fatal. We reported the incident to the local authority Special Educational Needs Officer and asked for the authority to provide lone transport for Tom, on the grounds of physical vulnerability caused by his DMD. </p> <p>The local authority responded that the outsourced transport company had responsibility for safeguarding the students. We argued that the company had done everything within its power and that ultimately, the local authority, as a statutory public body which commissions and pays for school transport to special schools, had responsibility for safeguarding the students in the minibus.</p> <p>The discussion with the local authority continued until the end of the school year. </p> <p>During this time, I was taking Tom to and from school myself. The local authority argued that they would consider lone transport for Tom only if there were no other alternatives. They changed the seating arrangements in the minibus, devised a different system for getting into and out of the bus, and decided that Barry should wear a Crelling harness, otherwise known as a ‘Houdini’ belt. They proposed that this arrangement should be tested for four weeks, starting in the Autumn term. </p> <p>We, and Tom’s school, argued that the long-term use of a Houdini belt contravened accepted good practice in restraint and was inappropriate for a young person of the age that Barry now was. Also, given variations in the personnel staffing the bus, and their complete lack of training, we were concerned that ‘safe’ systems for seating arrangements and getting in and out of the bus would not be applied consistently. However, the trial period with the Houdini belt went ahead.</p> <p>At the start of the Autumn term, another student joined the minibus. Let’s call this student Mandy. Mandy also had challenging behaviour.</p> <p>On the morning of the fourth day into the new term, when the minibus called for Tom, we got out of the house to see Mandy wrestling with the driver, who was trying in vain to get her to put her seat belt on. Barry was throwing soft toys around the bus. The escort, who had tried to calm Mandy and Barry, stood on the pavement. We watched a stuffed giraffe sail out of the open door of the minibus. I said ‘That’s it. that’s the end.’</p> <p>We contacted the local authority. One option was for Tom to join another minibus route. For Tom’s safety, we could only agree to this if we had a guarantee from the local authority that the new route would not include children with challenging behaviour, neither now nor in the future. </p> <p>The Special Educational Needs Officer who had dealt with the case in the summer term was now on long term sick leave. Junior staff were dealing with the issue. They didn’t appear to have direct contact with the council’s transport team – they didn’t know what the council’s procedures were for allocating students to routes and suggested that we, as parents, should talk to the transport team directly. Senior staff were then called in – staff who should have been spending their time and mental energy on the service as a whole, not on individual cases.</p> <p>We discovered that minibus places were allocated according to where the children lived and did not take any account of challenging behaviour or physical vulnerability. This made the routes cheaper to run. The local authority had a system for gathering information about the students to give to the outsourced company, but this was haphazard and delivered months after the students had started using the minibus.</p> <p>When it was clear that no minibus route could be guaranteed as safe for Tom, it then took the local authority three weeks to arrange lone transport: ten days to okay it and a further ten days to put the job out to tender. All this time, Tom was not going to school. The school complained to the authority that Tom was now officially a child missing out.</p> <p>Eventually a local taxi company won the tender. In the first four days there were four different escorts, none of whom were trained or had any information about Tom. We supplied them with information ourselves. On the fourth day the transport arrived late and it was a black cab without proper wheelchair restraints. The driver said he had ‘had a phone call last night’ from the taxi company asking him to do this run. After further complaints to the authority Tom got one consistent driver and one consistent escort and a car with proper wheelchair restraints.</p> <p>The authority told us that they would pay for lone transport just for one term. The Christmas holidays arrived with no word from the authority on what provision would be made for Tom in the new term. The first day of the spring term arrived and no transport turned up. </p> <p>But by then we were already planning to leave: refugees to another authority, which does not outsource school transport and where the training and safety of drivers and escorts is backed by their membership of trade unions.</p> <p>Let’s just summarise how in this case budget cuts and outsourcing to the lowest bidder led to a gaping hole in safeguarding. </p> <p>First, the location of responsibility for safety was initially disputed between the </p> <p>local authority and the outsourced company. Was this because it was unclear, or because the local authority did not want to pay for the cost of safety? &nbsp;Or both?</p> <p>Second, within the local authority, long term sick leave, absence not covered, delegation to junior staff, and senior staff diverted from their planning and overview work, speak of budget cuts leading to high work load, high stress, lack of adequate knowledge and understanding of accountability by some staff, breakdown of (already poor) lines of communication, lack of overview, and lack of adequate and pro-active monitoring of services. </p> <p>Thirdly, it costs money to provide training in behaviour management and an allocation of transport places which takes account of challenging behaviour and physical vulnerability. In an unregulated market situation, no company which provides these safeguards can be the lowest bidder. </p> <p>Fourthly, the local authority in this case tried to persist with an unsafe system, apparently in order to save money. </p> <p>The lack of safeguards puts at risk both the service users who need the transport and the workers staffing the minibus. God forbid that a young person with special needs and/or disabilities in this local authority, or a driver or escort, is killed on a school bus – but budget cuts and the policy of outsourcing to the lowest bidder mean that there are no safeguards which could prevent it. </p> <p>Let us consider the larger political and economic choices which led to this situation. None of the individuals involved acted with deliberate malice or were out to exploit the situation to their own advantage<em>.</em> What we witnessed is the false economy and the injustice of massive budget cuts and the ‘marketisation’ of public services. </p> <p>Competition is justified in terms of saving money. Outsourcing to the lowest bidder is the logical conclusion. But this situation creates very serious risks. Any one of those risks could end up costing the local authority huge amounts of money. </p> <p>Competition is also justified in terms of getting value for money. But where there are massive budget cuts and a policy of outsourcing to the lowest bidder, competition is only a race to the bottom. For those who subscribe to this ideology, the question becomes how low you can go in the service you provide. The gutter press demonise those who are reliant on public services. It is a slippery slope to attitudes which are Victorian or worse. </p> <p>Monitoring is sidelined. You don’t want to look too closely at the quality of a service if you are committed to outsourcing to the lowest bidder. The focus is on competition and marketisation, not on providing an adequate or coherent service. The market decides. The local authority remains legally responsible for the service, but its provision and quality move outside their control. Those local authority workers who can’t stand what is happening whistle-blow to deaf ears and/or go on long term sick leave, retire early, leave, or doggedly try to work with the situation for the sake of service users. </p> <p>What happened to the families living in Grenfell Tower has blown open the false economy and the injustice of massive budget cuts and the ruthless competitive outsourcing of public services. The risks are risks to people. In this case, the risks were borne by low-paid workers and young people, like our son, living with disabilities. Public services cannot be run adequately in this way and there is no moral future for a society which treats some of its members as collateral damage. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/cat-hobbs/carillions-demise-shows-failure-of-outsourcing">How to stop the next Carillion - 7 steps to public ownership</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/hinchingbrooke-why-did-england%27s-privatised-hospital-deal-really-collapse">Hinchingbrooke - why did England&#039;s privatised hospital deal REALLY collapse?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/age-of-corbyn-2-inferno">The Grenfell Inferno</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/sophia-benedict/austerity-renders-lives-of-disabled-people-invisible-unliveable-and-invalid">Austerity renders the lives of disabled people invisible, unliveable, and invalid</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/jon-ashworth/privatised-services-are-failing-thousands-of-vulnerable-addicts-and-alcoholics">Privatised services are failing thousands of vulnerable addicts and alcoholics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/you-get-what-you-pay-for-landmark-study-exposes-nhs-privatisation-risks">You get what you pay for – landmark study exposes NHS privatisation risks</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Katherine Wedell Thu, 14 Jun 2018 10:58:53 +0000 Katherine Wedell 118399 at How the media forgot about the financial crisis and embraced austerity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of ‘Media Amnesia: Rewriting the Economic Crisis’ by Laura Basu.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><em>A review of ‘Media Amnesia: Rewriting the Economic Crisis’ by Laura Basu</em></strong> Mark Blyth described it as the greatest bait and switch in history. Just a year after the financial crisis everyone was talking about the government’s deficit. Why did the media seem to effortless move from one story to another without apparently looking for any connection between the two?<strong><em>A review of ‘Media Amnesia: Rewriting the Economic Crisis’ by Laura Basu</em></strong> Mark Blyth described it as the greatest bait and switch in history. Just a year after the financial crisis everyone was talking about the government’s deficit. Why did the media seem to effortlessly move from one story to another without apparently looking for any connection between the two? That question is at the centre of a new book by Laura Basu entitled ‘Media Amnesia’. The book has a wide range, looking at media coverage of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the subsequent recession, austerity and the Eurozone crisis. The author uses her own research and that of others to examine how the different parts of the mainstream media (MSM) attempted to report and frame these events. There is increasing evidence that the media can have a profound influence on voters and therefore politicians. Although nowadays social media might get more attention, the traditional MSM remains the main source of news, and even in social media MSM brands dominate. Although the author describes inadequacies in the coverage of the financial crisis in some detail, she herself says that these problems were as nothing compared to what happened under austerity. Furthermore in the UK what she calls hysterical coverage of rising government deficit began while the Labour government was still in power, in April 2009. Before then there had been a theme of Labour ‘overspending’ in the Tory press, and others had speculated that bank bailouts might put pressure on the public finances, but this discussion did not become centre stage until the Budget of 2009. That Budget showed the full extent of the recession’s impact on the public finances. Budget deficits always increase during a recession, and as the recession following the global financial crisis was the largest since the Great Depression in the 1930s the deficit unsurprisingly rose more rapidly than it had done in previous recessions&nbsp; In addition, the Labour government had quite rightly added to the deficit in the short term in order to apply a fiscal stimulus to the economy. Monetary policy had run out of steam with interest rates at their lower bound and Quantitative Easing a completely untried policy instrument. For all these reasons the majority of economists were reasonably relaxed about the rising deficit. It was what was required to end the recession and start a recovery. The media told a different story. Words like ‘horrific’ and ‘frightening’ were used to describe the deficit. In part this was because George Osborne had opposed the short term stimulus and had started to focus on the deficit and linking it to Labour ‘overspending’. But this is not enough to explain why the balance obsessed broadcast media took up the same tune. In my view it had a lot to do with the decade or so before the crisis. Journalists, helped by the IFS, had got into the routine of focusing on deficit projections at each budget event, and speculating on what it meant for government spending on taxes. They did this partly because the Bank of England was taking care of the job of stabilising the economy, but also because the analogy between the government’s accounts and a household was easy to make. The Treasury had estimated that some of the decline in UK GDP following the GFC was permanent, producing what is called a structural deficit even when the economy had fully recovered. They had persuaded Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling that some fiscal savings would be required after the short terms stimulus. When the UK Treasury and then the IFS revealed this in the April 2009 budget, the media behaved as they would have behaved before the GFC, except at greater volume because the numbers were bigger. The media amnesia came in not understanding that a consequence of the GFC was that budgets were now about helping the recovery, and the household analogy was now wildly inappropriate. From that point on things went from bad to worse in terms of media coverage, like a tragic game of Chinese whispers. The author describes how the phrase ‘Labour’s decade of debt’, originally used by Osborne about private debt, morphed into being about public debt. The right wing press began to frame the bank bailouts as fiscal irresponsibility. As academic Mike Berry found in focus groups, 70% of respondents thought that increased public spending had caused the deficit. In reality, the structural budget deficit before the GFC was trivial compared to the impact of the GFC. Thus the media completely misinformed the public in a highly political way. The broadcast media also began to play up how budgets had to please the markets as well as voters, giving credence to the (largely false) idea that if deficits were too high interest rates would rise. Parallels with Greece were just too easy to make, even though they were largely invalid. In my view a major problem here is that economic journalists working for broadcasters become dependent on City economists for instant ‘analysis’ of short term market moves, and City economists are naturally pro-austerity and also overstate the importance and volatility of markets. The amnesia runs deep here, relying on ‘experts’ from the institutions that had brought the economy to its knees in the GFC. What I found extraordinary, as a macroeconomist at Oxford working on fiscal policy, was that the view of most macroeconomists was almost completely absent from the media. BBC reporters saw it as their job to reflect the opinions of politicians, and that to bring in other information (like the view of experts) would be, according to one former senior editor quoted in the book, ‘doing the opposition’s job for them’, and would therefore be a breach of impartiality. This is classic ‘shape of the earth:views differ’ stuff, and miles away from the BBC’s mission to inform and explain. The consequence was that austerity was increasingly seen as common sense in the media, even though it the complete opposite of what every economics student around the world is taught, and was very different from how governments had behaved in previous recessions since the 1930s. As a result, we had after the GFC the slowest recovery in the UK for at least a century. What is more this media coverage led the majority of the public not only to believe austerity was necessary, but to also see imagined Labour government profligacy rather than the GFC as responsible for it. This was why just before the 2015 elections polls showed the Conservatives ahead on the economy, despite the slow recovery and an unprecedented decline in real wages. In my view this in turn led Labour politicians to shy away from attacking austerity, or even to embrace it, which was a big factor behind Jeremy Corbyn’s victory. As the book’s title suggests, Basu does not regard this particular case of forgetting as unusual. Instead she describes how well known changes to how the media industry works, like 24 hour news and reduced resources from advertising, gives journalists just enough time to react, and little time to tell any kind of story. We have information overload with ever fewer journalists to process it. This makes them much more dependent on the PR industry and lines that come from a government’s spin doctor. Journalism becomes ‘churnalism’. Which is a shame, because the public remember stories better than a succession of facts without context, and they want journalists to separate facts from spin. More and more journalism privileges events over process and causes. It also means that journalists become more dependent on what Stuart Hall calls primary providers, allowing these providers to frame news events. In the final part of the book the author presents an interesting discussion of how the various problems with the media identified in the book can be remedied. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the key role of the media in shaping events in the UK after the GFC.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Simon Wren-Lewis Thu, 14 Jun 2018 08:51:36 +0000 Simon Wren-Lewis 118397 at Revealed: New evidence of ‘Hard Brexit svengali’ Shanker Singham’s ‘unparalleled access’ to senior government figures <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Labour’s Liam Byrne says former Legatum trade advisor’s influence over Brexit policymakers ‘beggars belief’</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image:&nbsp;</em><span><em>Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment</em></span></p><p dir="ltr">The pace of the British government’s Brexit progress seems to be frustrating even the most enthusiastic supporters of life outside the European Union. At an event in Glasgow last week, Shanker Singham, billed by the organisers as “one of the world’s leading trade lawyers”, complained that the UK’s “lack of clarity” over Brexit was causing “confusion”.</p><p dir="ltr">But what he didn’t talk about was his own role in the middle of this muddle: Singham himself has continued to enjoy unrivalled access to Brexit ministers and officials. The trade advisor, whose work for the Legatum Institute has attracted significant media attention, had repeated private meetings with the highest official in the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) according to new information released to openDemocracy.<br /><br />Singham, a former Washington lobbyist - who has been said to enjoy “<a href="">unparalleled access</a>” to senior government figures - left Legatum earlier this year to head up a new trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Earlier this month, the charity regulator ruled that Legatum’s Brexit work had ‘crossed the line’ and <a href="">did not meet its charitable objectives</a>. <br /><br />In March and May this year, just after he left Legatum, Singham met with Philip Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union. Both meetings took place at DExEU’s Whitehall offices.<br /><br />Data compiled by openDemocracy also shows that since the Brexit vote in June 2016, Singham has also had dozens of meetings with British government ministers including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox. The meetings and events were either unminuted or information relating to them was withheld by government departments. Singham also had<a href=""> undeclared meetings with Brexit ministers</a>.<br /><br />Former Labour minister Liam Byrne called for more transparency from government over Singham’s contact with ministers and senior officials.<br /><br />“It beggars belief that ministers and officials are spending hour after hour with Hard Brexit svengali, Shanker Singham. He may have ditched his Legatum badge but I suspect his views are as hard line as ever, and as bad for Britain as ever,” the MP said.<br /><span class="mag-quote-center">“I hope we can meet frequently and monthly is a good objective”&nbsp;</span><br />Singham has also had extensive contact with Brexit trade minister Greg Hands. The pair met at least half a dozen times in the space of a few months at the end of last year. “I hope we can meet frequently and monthly is a good objective,” Hands wrote to Singham in October, <a href="">according to emails obtained by openDemocracy</a>.<br /><br />In December alone Singham had two meetings with Hands, two meetings with Rycroft from DExEU, and a meeting with Michael Gove and Antonia Romeo, a senior civil servant at Fox’s Department for International Trade.<br /><br />Singham told openDemocracy that “you can find information about my meetings in the transparency register.”<br /><br />Singham is also very close to Brexit minister Steve Baker. An investigation by Buzzfeed found that <a href="">Singham had multiple undeclared meetings with Baker</a>, and former Legatum trade advisor Crawford Falconer, who now works at the Department of International Trade. These meetings were not recorded in official government transparency records.</p><p dir="ltr">Documents released following Freedom of Information requests from openDemocracy show Singham had a one-on-one meeting with Philip Rycroft on March 13, just days after it was announced that he would be <a href="">leaving the Legatum Institute</a> to take over the trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. On May 10, Singham met with Rycroft and Eoin Parker, director of market access and budget at DExEU.</p><h2>Unlikely Brexit trade influencer</h2><p>Singham, who argues that Britain needs to leave the single market and customs union to maximise opportunities outside the EU, has emerged as an unlikely trade voice for Brexiters. His name has been <a href="">cited in Parliament</a> and his trade papers held up as evidence that Britain should leave the customs union and single market.</p><p>The recent proposal that the UK could create a ten-mile wide <a href="">‘buffer zone’</a> along the Irish border originated from a paper published by Singham and the Legatum Institute.</p><p>Earlier this month, the Charity Commission ruled that Legatum’s work on Brexit “<a href="">failed to meet the required standards of balance and neutrality</a>”. A Legatum reported entitled, Brexit Inflection Point, did not present “balanced, neutral evidence and analysis” and was “not consistent” with the charity’s objectives to promote education, the regulator found.</p><p>Former Charity Commission board member <a href="">Andrew Purkis </a>has said that the regulator’s ruling on Legatum also raised questions about the Singham’s new employers, the Institute of Economic Affairs. The IEA, which also has charitable status, also recently appointed <a href="">Vote Leave donor</a> Jon Moynihan to its board.</p><p>The IEA has also hired Darren Grimes as its digital manager. Grimes, who had worked for Brexit Central, is subject of an Electoral Commission investigation in relation to a <a href="">£675,000 donation</a> from Vote Leave during the Brexit referendum. A judicial review into the Electoral Commission’s handling of Vote Leave spending is due to be heard on June 19.</p><p>The Legatum Institute announced that it would be <a href="">ending</a> its Brexit work following public scrutiny of the think tank’s work and its funding. Christopher Chandler, Legatum’s main funder, has been the subject of <a href="">extensive coverage </a>with MPs alleging that the billionaire had links to Russian interests. Chandler, a former major shareholder in Gazprom, has strenuously denied all allegations.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-breached-charity-regulations-with-brexit-work-charity-commission-finds">Legatum breached charity regulations with Brexit work, Charity Commission finds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/peter-geoghegan/legatum-who-are-brexiteers-favourite-think-tank-and-who-is-behind-them">Legatum: the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank. Who is behind them?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/revealed-legatum-s-extraordinary-secretive-monthly-meetings-with-brexit">Revealed: Legatum’s “extraordinary” secretive monthly meetings with Brexit minister</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit Inc. DUP Dark money Jenna Corderoy Peter Geoghegan Thu, 14 Jun 2018 07:00:17 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Jenna Corderoy 118382 at Thirty-two nations under a groove <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will the World Cup which opens today be an orgy of petty-minded nationalism? Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman doesn’t think so.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// WC 2018 artwork.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// WC 2018 artwork.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="151" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>2018 World Cup 32 Nations - Original illustration by Hugh Tisdale</em></p><p>In between the matches from Russia over the next few weeks here’s a trivia question to test mates’ footballing knowledge: Which is the only World Cup squad with the entire list of players playing in their own country’s domestic league?</p><p>Easy! Easy! England, of course. Except it’s not just a knowledge of football that provides the answer but politics, history and culture too.</p> <p>The domesticity of our players betrays a certain very English parochialism, more comfortable at home than abroad. Europe after all is a foreign country. </p> <p>It also tells us about the political economy of the game, and how English clubs pay heaps more dosh than most overseas outfits.</p> <p>And it tells us about an Anglo-superiority complex. Who in England’s 2018 squad would make it as a certain first team starter at a top German, Italian or Spanish club? Precious few. There’s a number who aren’t even regular starters at their <em>own</em> clubs, edged out by Johnny Foreigner’s talent.</p> <p>England’s second most successful World Cup campaign remains Italia ’90. Of England’s starting line-up Lineker had played in Spain, for Barcelona, Waddle was then playing for Marseille in France. Gazza, Des Walker and Platt all went on to play for Italian clubs. And this was by no means unusual. As for the victorious West Germany side none of them played in England (though 4 years later Klinsmann did end up being snapped up by an English side).</p> <p>The lesson drawn from Italia ’90 was that English football had the potential to recover its reputation and popularity following the post-Heysel banning of our club sides from European competition and the human tragedy of Hillsborough. </p> <p>How? Like so much else in that era, through neoliberal deregulation. The FA effectively gave up its right to govern the elite level of the game by floating off the top division (formerly the First Division and now the Premier League) to be run by the clubs themselves. With Murdoch in hot pursuit, having realised that broadcasting live football was the only way to save his fledgling satellite TV company, Sky, the deregulation accelerated via the vast wealth TV contracts were to provide.</p> <p>Neoliberalism’s sister project, globalisation, produces counter-reactions - from Catalan and Scottish independence movements, to Donald Trump’s populist America First nationalism, and anti-migrant movements across Europe too. In football we see the persistent influence of racism amongst certain fan subcultures, co-existing with the huge influx of foreign players.</p> <p>Again the World Cup illustrates this. Consulting my handy pocket World Cup squads guide, a tasty looking English Premier League eleven out in Russia would line up like this: De Gea in goal, Mendy, Monreal and Christensen providing three at the back, Pogba, Eriksen, Hazard and De Bruyne packing the midfield, up front Firmino, Aguero, and Salah. And there’s plenty more where that lot came from. Precious few fans in their right minds are going to complain about these particular migrant workers, over here, nicking our players’ jobs, with their foreign ways and the like. So racist attitudes are to that extent marginalised.</p> <p>In every division, and even down into the non-league clubs, a football club is easily the most globalised public institution in English society we can think of. The owners, the management and coaching staff, the players, the fan-base, the sponsors and advertisers , the TV viewing public - all are globalised and few but the most embittered object. </p> <p>This doesn’t mean the process is entirely unproblematic. Football mythologises itself as the people’s game, but it has never been thus. Clubs were owned by the local butcher baker and candlestick maker, in Man Utd’s case quite literally. The Edwards Family were butchers who sold the club they owned off to the Glazers, US sports moguls. A local business elite owned the game in their own local interest, the only difference now is that it’s a global business elite running it in their own trans-national interest. Resistance to absent owners erupts from time to time, though homegrown owners are often not much better - just look at West Ham.</p><p>But what frames modern fan culture most of all is a popular cosmopolitanism. While England agonises over how and when it will exit Europe, every football club’s ambition is to get into Europe. This is our cultural barricade against the hateful rise of the Football Lads Alliance. Their divisive values are the complete opposite to the way the modern game is consumed and supported. For every fan cheering on England over the next few weeks there will be others keeping an interested and supportive eye on how their club’s foreign players are doing, and most importantly many are fully capable of doing both. One nation, thirty-two nations, for the next three and a week under the same groove.</p> <p>For this precious moment football can be a powerful resistance to racism and division. </p> <p>And despite FIFA’s worst efforts it’s broadly equitable too. What have the superpowers of the USA, Russia and China got in common?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="140" height="116" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;They’ve not got one World Cup between them. And that’s because international football is regulated. No country on earth, however rich, is ever going to persuade Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo to sign for them. If that’s not neoliberal globalisation turned on its economic head into something a tad better I don’t know what is.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Thirty-Two Nations Philosophy Football T-shirt is available from</em> <a href="">Philosophy Football</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/how-to-make-english-football-good-again-view-from-below">How to make English football good again - the view from below</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/open-letter-in-support-of-ukrainian-political-prisoners">An appeal to the representatives of countries who are expected to travel to the World Cup football games in Russia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Thu, 14 Jun 2018 06:01:33 +0000 Mark Perryman 118386 at Grandparents occupying Whitehall department to protest fracking <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Today’s protest takes place as the Minister responsible for fracking, Greg Clark, is poised to decide on whether to allow the first new UK fracking to commence since 2011.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// cropped.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// cropped.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Grandparents and elders occupying the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today. Credit: Ella Milburn</em></p><p><em></em>A group of grandparents and elders have chained themselves together in a government department building in Westminster this morning to urge the government to oppose “dangerous” fracking.</p> <p>Aged between 63 and 82, the 10-strong group from the South West - Grandparents for a Safe Earth (GFASE) - have occupied the Westminster building to demand that the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark refuse permission for fracking.</p> <p>The group smuggled chains, banners and other protest-related equipment into the department under their clothing and in wheelchairs. Half the group focused on creating a diversion while the other half “locked on” to each other in the foyer.</p> <p>The direction action comes as campaigners await the government’s decision whether to grant permission for energy firm Cuadrilla to begin fracking (hydraulically fracturing) at a site in Preston New Road, in Lancashire.</p> <p>Cuadrilla aims to start large-scale fracking in the UK having completed the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas well at Preston New Road in April. If consent is granted, the well will be the first fracked in the UK since 2011, when fracking work was suspended after fears it had caused earthquake tremors near Blackpool.</p> <p>The group of grandparents and elders had planned a similar action at the Preston New Road site, but redrew their plans after Cuadrilla secured an expanded injunction against protesters at the beginning of this month. Those who break the injunction face being jailed, being fined or having their assets seized.</p> <p>Organised in collaboration with anti-fracking group Reclaim the Power, the direct action forms part of Break the Chain 2018, a fortnight of direct actions targeting the fracking industry, its supply chains and political support (11-24 June).</p> <p>GFASE’s previous climate-related demonstrations have included a mock funeral - walking through the streets of Bristol carrying a coffin to represent the lives lost to climate change in developing countries - and handing out mince pies and mulled wine in front of an RBS bank branch to protest the bank’s financing of polluting industries.</p> <p>At an organising meeting last night, one member of the group, 70-year-old Fi Radford said: “I feel very much in solidarity with Preston New Road. I'm so angry about fracking being forced through, and at the total contempt of democracy. We could be charged with contempt of court; the government should be charged with contempt of democracy.” She added: “I've got a job to do.”</p> <p>Sigurd Reimers, 72, from Taunton said: “We want to challenge the that idea grandparents are rather selfish, that we don't care about our grandchildren's future and go on cruises and spend our grandchildren's inheritance.”</p> <p>Barry Cash, 67, from Bristol said: “I have to come along and support the group because the world is in such a state. It's being driven by people who have nothing in their hearts but lust for power and greed for money. They’re trashing the place everywhere you look, and I just have to do something.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/al-williams/lancashire-fracking-go-ahead-prompts-nationwide-opposition">Lancashire fracking go-ahead prompts UK-wide opposition </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anna-szolucha/fracturing-democracy-state-fracking-and-local-power-in-lancashire">Fracturing democracy? State, fracking and local power in Lancashire</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/john-parry/how-to-fight-climate-injustice-in-uk-and-6-reasons-we-must">How to fight climate injustice in the UK – and 6 reasons we must</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jake-wood/making-inevitable-impossible-winning-at-fossil-fuel-frontlines">Making the inevitable impossible – winning at the fossil fuel frontlines</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Ella Milburn Wed, 13 Jun 2018 12:09:03 +0000 Ella Milburn 118381 at The curious case of the guard dog, anti-fracking protesters and North Yorkshire police <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Lurid media reports, some shared by local police, accused anti-fracking protesters of nearly killing a guard dog at Kirby Misperton – but new evidence just released appears to tell a very different story.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// (1).JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// (1).JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Media reports of the alleged 'poisoning' incident at the protest were shared by police. Twitter/Fair Use.</em></p><p>North Yorkshire Police are coming under renewed pressure to answer questions over the apparently hasty, heavy-handed and heavily publicised arrest of two campaigners in January this year at the height of the protests against fracking firm Third Energy.</p><p>As the protests reached a peak at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, many people believed that fracking could be approved by the Government any day. To add to the heightened tensions, North Yorkshire Police issued a <a href="">news article</a> which stated that two men had been arrested on suspicion of poisoning a guard dog – potentially with “pellets” made from aniseed balls. The media were quick to pick up the press release leading to stories in the <a href="">BBC</a>, <a href="">ITV</a>; <a href="">Daily Mail</a> as well as local <a href="">press outlets</a>.</p> <p>The media was quick to point the finger of blame at the anti-fracking campaigners: “Two men arrested on suspicion of poisoning a fracking site guard dog were environmental protesters”, revealed the <a href="">Mail Online</a>.</p> <p>However, <a href="">in a new FOI reply</a>, the Police have now confirmed that a summary from the vets suggests that after the vet took a blood sample from the dog, there was “nothing” that “showed regards poisoning”. The vet found the dog “bright and alert. Heart rate was normal as was temperature. No swellings around the neck, no dehydration. No concerns but kept in as a precaution.” </p> <p>The new information raises numerous questions, not least why the men were arrested in the first place, why some of the comments made by the security and Police seem to have exaggerated the severity of the dog’s condition, and whether there could even be grounds for a claim against the Police for wrongful arrest. </p> <p>Most media covered quotes from<a href=""> Derek Laird</a><strong>,</strong> Managing Director of Next Level Security Services, which is Third Energy’s security services provider at the Kirby Misperton site, was <a href="">reported in media outlets</a> as saying the dog, Narla had<strong> “</strong>collapsed and her heart stopped temporarily, she was rushed to the vets were she underwent emergency surgery and is now heavily sedated.” </p> <p><a href="">Laird told the Daily Mail</a>: “This dog could have died and it is only thanks to the skill of the veterinary staff that she is alive today. Understandably this is an extremely upsetting time for her handler, Adam, who has had Narla since she was a puppy.”</p> <p>Third Energy also weighed in, with Alan Linn, a Director from the company <a href="">telling the media</a>: “This malicious and dangerous act has resulted in a dog collapsing and being rushed to a vet to receive emergency treatment.”</p> <p>The incident turned locals against the protesters: The incident was “showing up” the protesters “in their true colours. Nothing to do with fracking at all. These people are akin to terrorists,” noted one reader on the <a href="">York Press</a> website. Local pro-fracking PM, <a href="">Kevin Hollinrake</a> weighed in. “Men arrested after guard dog poisoned at fracking site - utter disgrace if proven. Some of these people have no limits on what they will do to get their own way”, he tweeted, linking to the BBC site. North Yorks Police also <a href="">re-tweeted the press</a> story. </p> <p>On Facebook the rumour mill went overdrive, as people shared the press release, with protesters now accused of even “killing” the dog: “Bloody disgusting call themselves eco warriors then kill an innocent animal. I cannot abide animal cruelty please share so everyone is aware of this poor dog.” </p> <p>One of the men arrested, Pete Lomas says: “There was no evidence of me throwing anything anywhere. They didn’t mention anything about pellets at the interview. The first thing I knew about pellets was when I saw it on the NYPP Facebook page.” In fact, he says: “They never said they had any evidence.”</p> <p>What the arrest did do, though, is remove the two protesters from outside the gates. As the Police press release said at the time: “<a href="">Both men</a> have been released on bail, with a condition to stay away from an area around the site gates, as enquiries continue.” </p> <p>In late January, Lomas was informed that no further charges would follow. But it seems from the dates at the bottom of the Police’s website that it was not until March that they quietly updated their press story to state: “Two men arrested following an incident in which a guard dog became ill at Kirby Misperton will face no further action.” The dog had made a <a href="">“full recovery</a>.” No charges would be taken forward due to “insufficient evidence.” </p> <p>Lomas says: “I knew I had done nothing wrong. They will try anything to discredit us. This is the lowest of the low”. He believes he was targeted for being an effective anti-fracking campaigner and for “bringing communities and campaigners together”. </p> <p>A spokesperson for NLSS said: “In January 2018, a dog working as part of the Third Energy security contract at the KMA well site in Kirby Misperton vomited and collapsed after eating pellets thrown over the security fence.&nbsp;This action was recorded on CCTV.&nbsp;The dog required emergency treatment and the vet instructed that she should not return to guard duties for at least 10 days afterwards.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Third Energy added: “Third Energy is relieved that a security dog, working at its site in Kirby Misperton, made a full recovery following emergency treatment in early January 2018. The dog had vomited and collapsed at the site after eating pellets thrown over the security fence. The North Yorkshire Police hold the relevant CCTV recordings from the day.”&nbsp; </p> <p>At the time of going to press the North Yorks Police had been asked to clarify numerous issues, including, amongst others what was the legal basis for the arrest of the two men; what evidence the Police were basing the arrest on and where this had come from? What evidence had they that the dog ever ate pellets in the first place that caused it to be "unwell". So far North Yorks Police have refused to answer any of the questions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/amy-hall/fracking-giants-grasp-for-dirty-brexit-bonanza">Fracking giants grasp for dirty Brexit bonanza</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jake-wood/making-inevitable-impossible-winning-at-fossil-fuel-frontlines">Making the inevitable impossible – winning at the fossil fuel frontlines</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/brexitinc/amy-hall/three-ways-fossil-fuel-industry-influences-uk-political-system-and-three-things-y">Three ways the fossil fuel industry influences the UK political system – and three things you can do</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/john-parry/how-to-fight-climate-injustice-in-uk-and-6-reasons-we-must">How to fight climate injustice in the UK – and 6 reasons we must</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Andy Rowell Wed, 13 Jun 2018 08:17:16 +0000 Andy Rowell 118371 at What we learned about Arron Banks at the fake news inquiry <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>And what we didn’t</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-12 at 13.54.14.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-12 at 13.54.14.png" 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'>Arron Banks at the Fake News Inquiry. Image,, fair use</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In many ways, Arron Banks’s appearance today to answer MPs’ questions was in keeping with character. By turns the biggest donor in British political history was garrulous, boastful and contemptuous. And, after three hours – when he and his wingman Andy Wigmore walked out, ostensibly to keep “a luncheon appointment” with <a href="">two DUP MPs</a> – Banks had generated far more heat than light.</p><h2>What we found out </h2><p dir="ltr">The Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s questions covered everything from Leave.EU’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica to Banks’s own dealings with <a href="">Russia</a>. But there was one area that Banks seemed particularly keen not to talk about.</p><p dir="ltr">Just before he spent more than £8m on Brexit, his Southern Rock insurance firm was in <a href="">financial trouble</a>, and got a £77m <a href="">bail-out</a> from the Isle of Man-based <a href="">ICS Risk Solutions</a>. When MP Rebecca Pow asked about this cash injection, Banks implied that this was simply him shuffling money between two companies he owns, and accused them of trying “to create some shadiness around my businesses".</p><p dir="ltr">However, our friends at <a href="">SourceMaterial</a> have pointed out that Banks doesn’t actually own all of ICS Risk Solutions, but only somewhere between 50% &amp; 75%, according to filings of <a href="">one of its subsidiaries</a> at Companies House. Who owns the rest of the company? We don’t know. </p><p dir="ltr">But around the time ICS was bailing out Southern Rock, the wife of one of Banks’s associates <a href="">joined the ICS board</a>. This associate has been accused of breaching money laundering rules in Jersey, Malta and Gibraltar. The following year, the day after the Brexit vote, he joined the ICS board <a href="">himself</a>, along with two of his close business partners. </p><p dir="ltr">However this associate was involved, Banks wasn’t just shuffling around his own money. ICS has at least one unknown owner, who helped prop-up Banks’s ailing insurance empire just as he was pouring cash into Brexit.</p><h2>‘Insurance Millionaire?’ What we missed</h2><p dir="ltr">The key question hanging over the Commons committee today but never directly asked: what is Arron Banks actually worth? &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Figuring out the value of Banks’s wealth is tricky. In media reports the Leave.EU backer is frequently referred to as a <a href="">‘millionaire businessman’</a>. Published estimates of his worth vary from <a href="">£100m</a> to <a href="">£250m</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">But a major openDemocracy <a href="">investigation</a> last year raised serious questions about the true extent of Banks’s wealth, particularly in the insurance businesses that are frequently held up as the main source of his fortune.</p><p dir="ltr">Banks became a major political donor overnight, in November 2014. Previously he had been a virtual unknown – a one-time estate agent who had moved into insurance, and had failed to be selected as a Conservative local election candidate. Then he promised £1m to Ukip apparently after <a href="">William Hague</a> described him as ‘a Mr Nobody’. </p><p dir="ltr">The million pounds to Ukip never fully materialised – Banks drip fed the party around £400,000 in cash installments over six months, mostly in the name of his companies – but the self-styled ‘Bad Boy of Brexit’ was in the game. Then he plunged an eye-watering £8m into campaigning to leave the European Union.</p><p dir="ltr">But at the very moment Banks was pouring millions into Brexit, his insurance companies were in fact in real <a href="">financial difficulty</a>. Authorities in London and Gibraltar found that Banks’s insurance underwriter, Gibraltar-based Southern Rock, had been trading without sufficient reserves.</p><p dir="ltr">Banks has maintained that his insurance business is in rude health. Last October <a href="">he boasted</a> that he was in line to make millions of pounds from floating Eldon Insurance - which uses the brand Go Skippy – on the London Stock Exchange in early 2018. So far this has not happened.</p><h2>Gold digger</h2><p dir="ltr">Insurance isn’t Banks’s only business interest. In his book, <a href="">The Bad Boys of Brexit</a> – ghost written by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott – Banks says that in 2015 he decided to spend millions of pounds on influencing British politics because “my businesses in this country and overseas, where I own a number of diamond mines, were doing really well.” &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Reports over the weekend suggested that Banks had conversations with Russian officials about potential investments in gold mines. (The ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ is peppered with references from Banks to wanting to invest in gold.) So maybe all the money came from minerals?</p><p dir="ltr">We know that by February 2015, Banks was the owner of four diamond mines in South Africa. But there is little sign that any of these holdings are lucrative. There has been no report of major finds in Banks’s South African mines.</p><p dir="ltr">Not so for Banks’s Lesotho holdings. In September 2017, the Ukip backer announced a “<a href="">significant find</a>” in this mountainous Southern African kingdom. Newspaper reports at the time suggested that he was poised to use the windfall to <a href="">bankroll a new political party</a> for his friend Nigel Farage.</p><p dir="ltr">But another recent openDemocracy investigation <a href="">cast major doubt on these claims</a>. We found that the area of the “significant find” in Lesotho had produced only a few hundred pounds’ worth of diamonds in the two decades before Banks bought it. A leading expert on Lesotho diamonds told us that it was “geologically impossible” to find commercial quantities of diamonds in the mine.</p><p dir="ltr">That’s not all. When we looked into Banks’s business dealings in Lesotho we found even more surprising things. We found that a political consultancy owned by Banks – Chartwell – had been advising a local political party called the Basotho National Party (BNP) that Banks had business links to.</p><p dir="ltr">Rather than the Lesotho party paying Chartwell for its advice, we discovered that Banks was actually transferring money to the BNP: at least £65,000, a significant sum in one of the poorest and smallest countries in Southern Africa. Chartwell has never recorded a profit. </p><h2>Russia connections</h2><p dir="ltr">Much has been made of Banks’s links to Russia. His wife is Russian. On social media, he often speaks positively of Vladimir Putin and his post-Brexit news site Westmonster often carries coverage that chimes with dominant Russian worldviews.</p><p dir="ltr">Banks has <a href="">denied</a> receiving any funding from Russia, accusing the Remain campaign of trying to discredit everyone involved in Brexit. He previously claimed that he’d just had one lunch with the Russian ambassador, but reports this weekend showed that he had at least “two boozy lunches” and another cup of tea.</p><p dir="ltr">But we have found some other links between Banks and Russia. Just two months after the referendum, another Banks associate <a href="">James Pryor</a>— a Brexit ‘bad boy’ and former campaign manager to Ukip — was in Moscow, a Red Square selfie from his Facebook feed shows. During the hearing, Wigmore said that it was Pryor, “the happy hippy” who had introduced him to Banks. </p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday, Pryor told openDemocracy that his trip wasn’t connected to Banks’ activities: “I have other clients”, he said, and denied any wrongdoing.</p><p dir="ltr">For almost a year, openDemocracy has been looking into where Arron Banks – the biggest political donor in British history – got his money from. This morning, we pointed out that <a href="">£11m of donations</a> to the two main Brexit campaigns he’s associated with are unaccounted for: we don’t know how it was spent.</p><p dir="ltr">After nearly three hours of watching Banks and Wigmore in front of a parliamentary committee today, we still have more questions than answers about the ‘Bad Boy of Brexit’.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">Arron Banks and Brexit’s offshore secrets</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/leigh-baldwin-marcus-leroux/not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-value-of-his-dia">Not everyone agrees with Arron Banks about the value of his diamond mines</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit Inc. DUP Dark money Adam Ramsay Peter Geoghegan Tue, 12 Jun 2018 18:17:09 +0000 Peter Geoghegan and Adam Ramsay 118365 at The ‘Preston Model’ and the modern politics of municipal socialism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> There is no telling when the next UK general election will come, and when the Corbyn Project could accede to national political power in what R.H. Tawney once called ‘the oldest and toughest plutocr... </div> </div> </div> There is no telling when the next UK general election will come, and when the Corbyn Project could accede to national political power in what R.H. Tawney once called ‘the oldest and toughest plutocracy in the world’. But there is still plenty of work to be done in the meantime. While there were some advances in last month’s local elections, the mixed results underscore the difficulty of mobilisation around a stale and sterile managerialist model of local government, as embodied in all too many Labour councils. Austerity at the national level may have been eased, at least rhetorically, but a fiscal crisis of the local state still rages. Since 2010, government funding to local authority budgets has been slashed by 49.1 per cent, with more pain still to come; by 2020, cuts in central government funding are <a href="">forecast to reach 56.3 per cent</a>. Although plans for all councils to receive 100 per cent rates retention by 2019/2020 have been placed on ice, cuts premised on this change continue unabated. Almost half of all councils are set to lose <a href="">all central government funding by 2019/2020</a>, with a <a href="">yawning £5.8bn funding gap</a> opening up by the end of the decade. Even with the best will in the world—clearly lacking in places like Haringey, where until recently a ghoulish Blairite zombie local government politics still walked at night—this has not been a promising context in which to build political support for and project out a Corbyn-inflected ‘<a href="">new economics</a>’. But difficulty need not be impossibility—as can be seen in the path taken by the flagship Labour council of Preston in Lancashire. In a few short years Preston has gone from being one of the most deprived parts of the country to <a href="">a model of radical innovation in local government</a> through its embrace of <em>community wealth building </em>as a modern reinvention of the longstanding political tradition of municipal socialism. <a href="">Community wealth building</a> is a local economic development strategy focused on building collaborative, inclusive, sustainable, and democratically controlled local economies. Instead of traditional economic development through public-private partnerships and private finance initiatives, which waste billions to subsidize the extraction of profits by footloose corporations with no loyalty to local communities, community wealth building supports democratic collective ownership of—and participation in—the economy through a range of institutional forms and initiatives. These include <a href="">worker co-operatives</a>, <a href="">community land trusts</a>, <a href="">community development finance institutions</a>, so-called <a href="">‘anchor’ procurement strategies</a>, <a href="">municipal and local public enterprise</a>, <a href="">participatory planning and budgeting</a>, and—increasingly, it is to be hoped—<a href="">public banking</a>. Community wealth building is <em>economic system change, but starting at the local level</em>. The term <a href="">first emerged in the United States in 2005</a>, and was coined by our colleagues at <a href="">The Democracy Collaborative</a>. It was used to describe the model then beginning to emerge in the severely disinvested inner-city neighbourhoods of some of America’s larger cities as a response to crisis and austerity. As federal and state fiscal transfers dried up, social pain intensified in communities that had long been suffering from high levels of unemployment and poverty. Precisely because large public expenditures for jobs and housing were seen to be no longer politically achievable, more and more people started turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth could be built collectively and from the bottom up. There are now two flagship models of community wealth building—and a growing number of additional efforts in cities across the United States and United Kingdom.  The first model is the <a href="">Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio</a>—created, in part, by our own organisation, The Democracy Collaborative. Cleveland had lost almost half of its population and most of its large publicly-traded companies due to deindustrialisation, disinvestment, and capital flight. But it still had very large non-profit and quasi-public institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and University Hospitals—known as <em>anchor institutions </em>because they are <a href="">rooted in place and aren’t likely to up and leave</a>. Together, Cleveland’s anchors were spending around $3 billion per year, very little of which was previously staying in the local community. The Democracy Collaborative worked with them to localise a portion of their procurement in support of a network of purposely-created green worker co-ops, <a href="">the Evergreen Co-operatives</a>, tied together in a community corporation so that they too are rooted in place. Today these companies are profitable and are beginning to eat the lunch of the multinational corporations that had previously provided contract services to the big anchors. Last month came the announcement of <a href="">an expansion of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry</a> to a new site serving the needs of the Cleveland Clinic, with a hundred new employees on fast track to worker ownership. The ‘Cleveland Model’ is one of the sources of inspiration for Preston, now the <a href="">pre-eminent example of community wealth building approaches in the UK</a>. Back in 2012, Evergreen caught the attention of Labour councillor Matthew Brown, now a colleague at The Democracy Collaborative. With the help of others, such as Neil McInroy at the <a href="">Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)</a>, Brown took the Cleveland Model and radically expanded it. The ‘Preston Model’ now encompasses a string of public sector anchors across Preston and Lancashire, to which has been added public pension fund investment, affordable housing, and—hopefully, in the near future—an energy company and a community bank. <strong>A longstanding tradition</strong> Both the Cleveland and Preston Models represent a reinvention of a longstanding political tradition that played a significant role in the development of mass socialist politics in Europe and North America—and could now do so again, just when such a politics is most needed. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, activists on both sides of the Atlantic began to articulate a sophisticated political-economic theory of change. They suggested that by advancing a radical yet popular <em>economic </em>strategy of democratised ownership, good governance, and better working conditions at the local level, they could begin to build <em>political </em>power from the ground up. "Little by little the conditions of the people are to be improved", Carl Thompson, a Wisconsin State Legislator and one of the United States’ leading municipal socialists, argued in 1907. "[T]hus, in every way, society will be gradually prepared for and led into the experience of Social-Democracy" (Thompson, 1908, 28). Similarly, in Britain in 1919, the Russian émigré and radical journalist Theo Rothstein asserted that local councils should be transformed "into so many forts from which to assail the Capitalist order" (Rothstein, 1919). Municipal socialists believed that by pursuing policies and conducting campaigns around economic issues that directly affected the community, they could build durable political coalitions, raise the aspirations and political awareness of ordinary working people, and develop the political and administrative skills for further social and economic transformation (Judd, 1989; Stave, 1975). This coupling of consciousness-raising with the marked material enrichment of everyday life could then be deployed to the furtherance of socialism more broadly—in local, state, and national elections. In the UK, interest in the economic and political possibilities of municipal socialism came and went with the rising and ebbing of the tides of economic reform and mass politics. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was led by early Fabian thinkers, with six Fabians—among them Sidney Webb—being elected to the London County Council in the 1892 elections. Of the first hundred Fabian tracts, written between 1884 and 1900, some forty-three discussed issues of local government (Chandler, 2007, 130-131). In <em>What About The Rates?</em>, Webb’s 1913 treatise on the financial autonomy of the municipalities, he protested vociferously against a political strategy which sought to marginalise the municipal: "Let us leave such proposals to the enemy … We, as Socialists, much cherish local government, and aim always at its expansion, not its contraction" (Webb, 1913, 9-10). Municipal socialism was thus conceptualised as a consciously-evolving process, simultaneously shifting ownership—and with it power—whilst raising local living standards. Economic and political successes were consciously built upon to expand the strategy both horizontally (to other municipalities and industries) and vertically (to larger enterprises and services, and higher levels of governance). F. Lawson Dodd demonstrated the unfolding logic of this approach in a 1905 tract, arguing that the merits of water municipalisation warranted a further municipalisation of the milk supply on the bases of both power and public health: "The establishment of municipal milk depots supplied from municipal farms is the first step towards the social organisation of the dairy industry … The community would take over the whole of the supply", he argued (Lawson Dodd, 1905, 17). The full extent of the impressive economic footprint achieved by municipal ownership in late-nineteenth-century Britain is nicely captured in the <a href="">account given</a> by Webb in his 1890 book <em>Socialism in England</em>: <em>"The ‘practical man,’ oblivious or contemptuous of any theory of the Social Organism or general principles of social organisation, has been forced by the necessities of the time into an ever deepening collectivist channel. Socialism, of course, he still rejects and despises. The Individualist Town Councillor will walk along the municipal pavement, lit by municipal gas and cleansed by municipal brooms with the municipal water, and seeing by the municipal clock in the municipal market, that he is too early to meet his children coming from the municipal school hard by the county lunatic asylum and municipal hospital, will use the national telegraph system to tell them not to walk through the municipal park but to come to the municipal tramway, to meet him in the municipal reading room, by the municipal art gallery, museum and library, where he intends … to prepare his next speech in the municipal town hall, in favour of the nationalisation of the canals and the increase of government control over the railway system. ‘Socialism, sir,’ he will say, ‘don’t waste the time of a practical man by your fantastic absurdities. Self-help, sir, individual self-help, that’s what’s made our city what it is’" (Webb, 1890, 65)</em> Tensions soon arose, however, between local and national aspirations. With the rise of Labour as an electorally successful national party committed to a top-down reorganisation of the British economy, municipal socialism began to wither. This was partly the party’s own doing, with one of the deleterious consequences of the centralising tendencies of Attlee’s post-1945 nationalisation programme being the abandonment and erasure of the rich tapestry of local traditions of municipal ownership, mutualism, and co-operation. The boards of the newly nationalised (and centralised) public companies were comprised of a curious assemblage of the contemporary elite, which often meant that the extensive tacit knowledge of the workers and successful economic practices of municipal enterprises were marginalised, ignored, or lost altogether. Knights, Lords, and generals were well represented on these boards (Jenkins, 1959, 16), but—to take but one example—not a single member of the fourteen appointees to the board of the first Gas Council had been connected with any of the numerous previous municipally owned public gasworks (Kelf-Cohen, 1973, 59). Only with the sunset of the top-down Keynesian economic management of the postwar Golden Age did municipal socialism begin to re-emerge as a political force. In the dark days of Thatcherism, radical local experiments re-appeared in the shape of the Greater London Council (GLC) and other metropolitan councils. As Stuart Hall wrote, the GLC "operated right across the spectrum, politicising sites of daily life and drawing them into the orbit of politics in ways unthinkable to most conventional Labour councils" (Hall, 1988, 237). Thatcher, perhaps more than anyone, immediately saw the political danger inherent in any significant revival of municipal socialism—especially one with a strong participatory, democratic character. "The GLC represents modern socialism", the arch-Thatcherite Norman Tebbit stated, concluding that ‘we must kill it’ (Wainwright, 2003, 8). Many of Thatcher’s own colleagues were made somewhat uneasy by "her deep-seated and almost obsessive objections to urban socialists" (Kösecik and Kapucu, 2003, 87), whilst the municipal socialist and Labour MP for Manchester Central, Bob Litherland, wondered aloud in Parliament as to whether it might be deemed "unfair that the metropolitan counties have to suffer because a Prime Minister takes a paranoic view of Ken Livingstone and thinks that he is immortal" (HC Deb 11 April 1984). George Tremlett, a Conservative councillor on the GLC and outspoken critic of Thatcher’s abolition agenda, was dropped from the Conservative Group altogether after arguing that "the proposals were so outrageous and so contrary to all the Conservative traditions of government that they must call into question Mrs. Thatcher’s capacity to form a balanced judgement on important issues of public policy", and eventually encouraging Conservatives to vote Labour in the 1984 by-elections (Kösecik and Kapucu, 2003, 77). Despite this opposition, Thatcher persisted in her determination to abolish the GLC, which was accomplished with the Local Government Act of 1985, wherby these resurgent experiments in municipal socialism were legislated out of existence. With Thatcher’s defenestration of local government, municipal socialism once again faded from the picture politically in Britain. Recent plans to devolve power to local government have been a mixture of unintelligibility and—especially since 2010—cynical exercises in political buck-passing, particularly attempts to shift the blame for implementing austerity. As a consequence, the public has quite rightly reacted negatively to such efforts, as well as other associated attempts to address the overwhelming centralisation of Britain’s political economy and governance. Referenda on regional assemblies in England advanced by Tony Blair were soundly rejected—by as much as 78 per cent in the vote on devolution to North East England in 2004—while George Osborne’s lopsided localism agenda has been plunged into legislative formaldehyde with the arrival of Theresa May in Downing Street. <strong>Municipal socialism revisited</strong> In the modern era of 24-7 news cycles and horserace political coverage, local politics rarely receives much attention. When local campaigns and politics are covered at all, it is usually because such elections are deemed to be a bellwether for the relative national political strength of the parties. This downgrading of local politics also extends to political analysts and activists, and often even to the political parties themselves, as can be seen in their reluctance to invest precious resources in local campaigns. There are promising signs, however, that this is now beginning to change. With the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, municipal socialism has once again returned to the Labour Party’s agenda in a powerful way. "With amazing creativity in the toughest of times, we are seeing the first shoots of the renaissance of local government for the many, not the few—the rebirth of municipal socialism", <a href="">Corbyn proclaimed</a> in February of this year. As indicated above, one of the leading models of re-emerging, modern-day municipal socialism in the UK is to be found in Preston. In 2011, the city—which had been declining economically since the 1970s—was reeling from a bitter double blow. Central government funding was plummeting under the austerity regime of Cameron’s coalition government and long held revitalization plans based on a £700 million shopping centre had collapsed. The newly-elected Labour council realized that they needed to come up with a new strategy. It was then that Councillor Matthew Brown, Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Inclusion, and Policy, stepped forward with his ideas. Inspired by alternative forms of economic development around the world, including the <a href="">Mondragón cooperatives in the Basque region</a> of Spain and the Evergreen Co-operatives in Cleveland, Ohio, Brown and his fellow councillors began to develop plans to deploy Preston’s existing assets and financial clout to catalyse a new local economic model that builds wealth rather than extracts it from the community. Working with the Manchester-based CLES, Preston Council approached the large anchor institutions in the area and came up with a strategy to shift as much of their spending and procurement back into the local economy as possible. In 2013, six of the local institutions that signed up for the effort spent around £38m in Preston and £292m in Lancashire as a whole. By 2017 this had skyrocketed to £111m and £486m respectively. The new localized contracts cover everything from school lunches to large-scale construction projects. Moreover, contracts shifted locally have a multiplier effect, as pounds circulate and recirculate throughout the local economy, creating jobs which in turn lead to more spending on goods and services, which then leads to the creation of more jobs, and so on. The Preston Model, however, is about much more than just developing the local economy through shifts in spending and procurement. It is about alternative forms of ownership that not only enrich the lives and livelihoods of residents and workers, but also give them the opportunity to actively participate in the economic decisions that affect their lives and the future of their city. Even before working with the anchor institutions, Preston Council backed plans to develop co-operatives (and link them to the procurement needs of the anchors) and a public financial institution (see Chakrabortty, 2018; Sheffield, 2017; Singer, 2016). Preston has been lauded by the Labour leadership and by sections of the media as an example of what could be achieved—albeit on a far greater scale—nationally under a Corbyn-led government. "This kind of radicalism", argued John McDonnell in a 2016 <a href="">speech at the Preston-based, worker-owned transport company TAS</a>, "is exactly what we need across the whole country". Star <em>Guardian </em>columnist Aditya Chakrabortty kicked off his excellent new series exploring real-world economic alternatives with an <a href="">in-depth study of the Preston Model</a>, following on the heels of a broadly sympathetic <a href="">write-up in <em>The Economist</em></a>, which dubbed Preston ‘Corbyn’s model town’. In a <a href="">speech to the Co-operative Party</a>, Corbyn himself praised the "inspiring innovation" of developments in Preston, particularly when set against the wider backdrop of swinging cuts to local government funding. Preston also demonstrates the renewed potential of modern municipal socialism as a political strategy. As was the case a century ago, advancing a radical and innovative program of local economic regeneration can quickly lead to tangible political benefits. In the May 2018 local council elections, the Preston Labour Party pledged (among other things) to increase investment and jobs based on the Preston Model; to create a public bank and local wealth fund; to support the creation of new worker cooperatives; and to ask the Lancashire Pension Fund to invest more in the local economy (Preston Labour, 2018). The voters responded, as Labour increased its majority on the local council by picking up two seats—College Ward and Garrison Ward—that had long been controlled by the Tories. Moreover, as new councillor for College Ward Freddie Bailey explained to local journalists, "what we found helped was the Preston Model" (Farnworth, 2018). This was reinforced in the wake of the election when Matthew Brown was elevated to become Leader of Preston City Council. <strong>Onwards to municipal socialism!</strong> While it is right to remain cognisant of the limitations placed on local government by colossal cuts and decades of restrictive legislation, the twin temptations of fatalism—that <em>nothing can be done</em>—and deferral—that <em>nothing can be done until Labour is in power in Westminster</em>—must be roundly rejected. As Preston today demonstrates, a new radical municipalism can indeed emerge in Britain (as it is doing all across the world in the face of neoliberal crisis and austerity) and can serve as the basis for potentially much further reaching national and international change. Exorcising the <a href="">zombie councils</a> who do little besides implement austerity is vital, but so is creatively, confidently, and collaboratively exercising the significant powers councils <em>do </em>still possess. As Daniel Frost <a href="">recently urged in <em>New Socialist</em></a>, and as we have <a href="">argued previously</a>, there is much that can be done already—as a movement we need not wait for Labour to gain power nationally before we begin advancing ambitious programmes around a ‘new economics’ based on radical modern reinventions of municipal socialism. Working with and for the local community to invigorate popular participation in economic decision-making and create—rather than merely extract—community wealth represents both an electorally <em>and </em>an economically successful strategy that can be implemented by councils across the country. The manner in which Preston has caught the imagination as a laboratory of ‘Corbynomics’ points to the wider role such approaches can play, not just in delivering for their local communities (vitally important though that is, the foundation of all else that follows) but also in helping us all to imagine, experience, and get involved with systemic economic transformation. In an earlier period of economic contraction and difficulty in Lancashire, none other than Karl Marx wrote, in the <em>New York Herald Tribune</em>, of the emerging workers’ movement in the region: "The eyes of the working classes are now fully opened, they begin to cry: Our St. Petersburg is at Preston!" Today, anyone looking around, from Capita to Carillion to the grim shadow of Grenfell Tower and the travails of East Coast Mainline, can see the existing neoliberal economic model failing and collapsing. But what holds a system in place, often, is a failure of imagination that things can fundamentally change, and that there are real, viable alternatives for organising a next system. Part of the answer to our failing economic system lies in on-the-ground experimentation and model building that embraces the design and principles of a new systemic alternative. There is precedent for this. In the political science literature in the United States, it is known as the ‘laboratories of democracy’. In Britain, when Nye Bevan launched the NHS in 1948, he drew as inspiration from the Tredegar Medical Aid Society, a community-based model in South Wales that began in 1890. This small Welsh experiment was then scaled up into one of the world’s truly great public health systems. We now have an opportunity—in the unknown amount of time between now and the next UK General Election—to get people familiar with the elements of the democratic economy through a widespread embrace of community wealth building approaches by Labour councils and local authorities. This suggests the potential basis for a new institutional underpinning for socialist politics, building support for our new economics from the ground up in a way that is far less scary and more comprehensible in a local context than it can sometimes appear at the national level. Our ambition, as the Corbyn Project, should be to bring about what Tony Benn termed "a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families". Community wealth building is what that looks like when you start at the local level and begin creating systemic economic change from the ground up. <p>***</p> <strong>References</strong> Chakrabortty, A. (2018) ‘In 2011 Preston hit rock bottom. Then it took back control’, <em>The Guardian</em>, 31.01.2018, <a href=""></a> Chandler, J. A. (2007) <em>Explaining local government: Local government in Britain since 1800.</em>Manchester: Manchester University Press. Farnworth, A. (2018) ‘Labour turns two parts of Fulwood red with local election wins’, <em>Blog Preston</em>, 04.05.2018, <a href=""></a> Hall, Stuart. (1988) <em>The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left.</em>London: Verso. HC Deb (11 April 1984) Vol. 58, <a href=""></a> Jenkins, C. (1959) <em>Power at the top: A Critical Survey of the Nationalized Industries</em>. London: MacGibbon and Kee. Judd, R. (1989) <em>Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grass Roots of American Socialism</em>. Albany: State University of New York Press. Kelf-Cohen, R. (1973) <em>British Nationalisation 1945-1973</em>. London: The Macmillan Press. Kösecik, M., and Kapucu, N. (2003) ‘Conservative Reform of Metropolitan Counties: Abolition of the GLC and MCCs in Retrospect’, <em>Contemporary British History</em>, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 71-94. Lawson Dodd, F. (1905) <em>Municipal Milk and Public Health</em>. London: The Fabian Society. Preston Labour. (2018) ‘Preston Labour Manifesto 2018 City Council Elections’, <a href=""></a> <em> </em>Rothstein, T. (1919) ‘A Revolutionary Municipal Policy’, <em>The Call</em>, 27.11.1919, <a href=""></a> Sheffield, H. (2017) ‘The Preston model: UK takes lessons in recovery from rust-belt Cleveland’, <em>The Guardian</em>, 11.04.2017, <a href=""></a> Singer, C. (2016) ‘The Preston Model’, <em>The Next System Project</em>, 09.09.2016, <a href=""></a> Stave, B. (ed.) (1975) <em>Socialism and the Cities</em>. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat. <em> </em>Thompson, C. (1908) <em>The Constructive Program of Socialism</em>. Milwaukee: Social-Democratic Publishing Co. <em> </em>Wainwright, H. (2003) <em>Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy</em>. London: Verso. <em> </em>Webb, S. (1889) <em>Socialism in England</em>. Baltimore: American Economic Association. Webb, S. (1913) <em>What about the rates?: or, Municipal finance and municipal autonomy</em>. London: The Fabian Society.<div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Joe Bilsborough Joe Guinan Thomas M. Hanna Tue, 12 Jun 2018 08:52:05 +0000 Thomas M. Hanna, Joe Guinan and Joe Bilsborough 118358 at Arron Banks and the missing £11m for Brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>His pro-Leave lobby groups raised nearly £12m – but claim they spent less than £1m during the ‘official’ Brexit campaign. So where did the rest go? Andy Wigmore says he has "no idea"</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="323" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Nearly £11 million of donations to major Brexit campaign groups funded by Arron Banks has not been accounted for publicly, according to new analysis from openDemocracy.</p><p dir="ltr">British election laws are supposed to provide transparency on how campaign groups spend their money during elections and referendums. However, Grassroots Out and Leave.EU – the two main groups funded primarily by the self-styled ‘bad boy’ of Brexit Arron Banks – have not disclosed what happened to £10.8 million of the money they received.</p><p dir="ltr">In total, the two groups declared that they were given £11.7 million in the first half of 2016 – with Mr Banks the main donor to both, including making loans worth £6m to Leave.EU. Yet referendum rules only required them to disclose how they spent money during the ten weeks between 15th April 2016 until the day of the vote on 23rd June. In that ‘controlled’ period, strict spending limits apply: each group was only legally allowed to spend up to £700,000.</p><p dir="ltr">From 9th March until polling day, Leave.EU received <a href=";rows=10&amp;;sort=AcceptedDate&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;isIrishSourceYes=true&amp;isIrishSourceNo=true&amp;prePoll=false&amp;postPoll=true&amp;register=gb&amp;register=ni&amp;register=none&amp;optCols=Register&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=AccountingUnitsAsCentralParty&amp;optCols=IsSponsorship&amp;optCols=IsIrishSource&amp;optCols=RegulatedDoneeType&amp;optCols=CompanyRegistrationNumber&amp;optCols=Postcode&amp;optCols=NatureOfDonation&amp;optCols=PurposeOfVisit&amp;optCols=DonationAction&amp;optCols=ReportedDate&amp;optCols=IsReportedPrePoll&amp;optCols=ReportingPeriodName&amp;optCols=IsBequest&amp;optCols=IsAggregation">donations</a> and <a href=";rows=10&amp;;sort=StartDate&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;isIrishSourceYes=true&amp;isIrishSourceNo=true&amp;register=gb&amp;register=ni&amp;register=none&amp;loanStatus=outstanding&amp;loanStatus=ended&amp;optCols=Register&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=IsIrishSource&amp;optCols=CompanyRegistrationNumber&amp;optCols=Postcode&amp;optCols=RateOfInterestDescription&amp;optCols=AmountRepaid&amp;optCols=AmountConverted&amp;optCols=AmountOutstanding&amp;optCols=EndDate&amp;optCols=DateRepaid&amp;optCols=DateEcLastNotified&amp;optCols=IsReportedPrePoll&amp;optCols=ReportingPeriodName&amp;optCols=IsAggregation">loans</a> worth £9.2 million. The group claims that it only <a href=";rows=10&amp;;sort=DateIncurred&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;includeOutsideSection75=true&amp;evt=ukparliament&amp;evt=nationalassemblyforwales&amp;evt=scottishparliament&amp;evt=northernirelandassembly&amp;evt=europeanparliament&amp;evt=referendum&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=ExpenseCategoryName&amp;optCols=FullAddress&amp;optCols=AmountInEngland&amp;optCols=AmountInScotland&amp;optCols=AmountInWales&amp;optCols=AmountInNorthernIreland&amp;optCols=DateOfClaimForPayment&amp;optCols=DatePaid">spent</a> £693,000 of this during the ‘controlled’ campaigning period – although it has since been <a href="">fined for multiple breaches of the law by the Electoral Commission</a>, which found that Leave.EU “failed to include at least £77,380 in its spending return, thereby exceeding the spending limit”. The Commission also stated that the “unlawful overspend may have been considerably higher”, and that “it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences". The Commission said it was referring <a href="">Leave.EU CEO</a> Elizabeth Bilney to the Metropolitan Police.</p><p dir="ltr">A second campaign group funded by Banks, Grassroots Out, received donations worth<a href=";rows=10&amp;query=Grassroots%20Out&amp;sort=AcceptedDate&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;isIrishSourceYes=true&amp;isIrishSourceNo=true&amp;prePoll=false&amp;postPoll=true&amp;register=gb&amp;register=ni&amp;register=none&amp;optCols=Register&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=AccountingUnitsAsCentralParty&amp;optCols=IsSponsorship&amp;optCols=IsIrishSource&amp;optCols=RegulatedDoneeType&amp;optCols=CompanyRegistrationNumber&amp;optCols=Postcode&amp;optCols=NatureOfDonation&amp;optCols=PurposeOfVisit&amp;optCols=DonationAction&amp;optCols=ReportedDate&amp;optCols=IsReportedPrePoll&amp;optCols=ReportingPeriodName&amp;optCols=IsBequest&amp;optCols=IsAggregation"> £2.5 million</a> in the early months of 2016 – most of which was a single ‘in kind’ donation of £1.9 million from an Arron Banks-owned company on 31 March. However, the group claims to have only <a href=";rows=10&amp;query=Grassroots%20Out&amp;sort=DateIncurred&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;includeOutsideSection75=true&amp;evt=ukparliament&amp;evt=nationalassemblyforwales&amp;evt=scottishparliament&amp;evt=northernirelandassembly&amp;evt=europeanparliament&amp;evt=referendum&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=ExpenseCategoryName&amp;optCols=FullAddress&amp;optCols=AmountInEngland&amp;optCols=AmountInScotland&amp;optCols=AmountInWales&amp;optCols=AmountInNorthernIreland&amp;optCols=DateOfClaimForPayment&amp;optCols=DatePaid">spent £232,000</a> (which would include using any of &nbsp;the ‘in kind’ donation) between 15 April and the referendum on June 23.</p><p dir="ltr">The gap between the amounts the groups raised and the amount of spending they declared amounts to £10.8 million – more than the Labour Party spent on its 2010 election campaign.</p><p>openDemocracy asked Andy Wigmore, communications director of Leave.EU, how the rest of the £10.8 million was spent and also why a loan of £1m was made by Arron Banks on 21st April even though the spending limits were £700,000. He claimed to have “no idea”. Banks has previously described the Electoral Commission fine and possible criminal <a href="">charges as a</a> “politically motivated attack on Brexit and the 17.4 million people who defied the establishment to vote for an independent Britain”.</p><p>Speaking to openDemocracy, the Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "The idea that you can spend £10 million on swaying a democratic process, but not have to declare what you did with any of it, is deeply worrying. The Electoral Commission should open a new inquiry into whether Leave.EU and Grassroots Out broke any rules, and if not, what new rules are needed to close this loophole in the future".</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">We need to talk about where Brexit funder Arron Banks gets his money</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/following-banks-money-who-provided-payment-in-paraphernalia">Following Arron Banks&#039; money: who delivered the payment in paraphernalia?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Brexit Inc. DUP Dark money Adam Ramsay Tue, 12 Jun 2018 07:58:34 +0000 Adam Ramsay 118357 at Hostile environment: border guards and border guardees <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Border checks are no longer one-off encounters… but… a myriad of micro-encounters. They have penetrated the everyday, mundane interactions in people’s daily lives and imposed new meaning on them.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hospital and housing administrators, 2013. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ policy is under scrutiny. The government is doing all it can to contain the Windrush scandal from spilling over into a broader criticism of the last decade of UK immigration policies (but, in fairness, some elements date back to the Labour government). Various affected groups and advocates, on the contrary, are vociferously&nbsp; arguing that far from an exception, a distortion or a bureaucratic error – all explanations offered by government’s supporters – the treatment of the Windrush generation is instead the tip of the iceberg, and the iceberg is the policy-driven ‘hostile environment’ built under Theresa May’s tenure of the Home Office. Admitting defeat on her flagship policy, the one that arguably made her a darling of the likes of The Sun and Daily Mail, would land a major, perhaps even fatal, blow to her premiership.&nbsp; </p> <p>One tenet of the ‘hostile environment’ is that it operates diffusely, co-opting public service providers, landlords, employers and even private residents in the job of immigration enforcement. Border checks are no longer one-off encounters between border guards and immigrants confined to the geographical borders of states, but are routinely repeated in a myriad of micro-encounters. They have penetrated the everyday, mundane interactions in people’s daily lives and imposed new meaning on them. <a href="">Pregnant women</a> avoiding interactions with their GPs or cutting short their stay in hospital after delivery for fear of being reported to the Home Office for their immigration status is but one example. </p> <p>The proliferation of internal borders came in stages, one little step at the time, and often changes were initially challenged but then they came back, slightly repackaged, and they slipped in unchecked. The <a href="">British Medical Association</a>, for example, mounted a challenge to initial attempts to impose visa checks on patients in hospitals. Doctors are not border guards it was said. But then visa checking came back more subtly: it was not doctors who would be in charge of it, but less paid and less vocal administration staff. New compliance officers appeared all over public services. ‘Compliance’ is a key word, apparently depoliticised and yet far more bureaucratically effective in filtering access to services to various groups of the population. <span class="mag-quote-center">Visa checking came back more subtly: it was not doctors who would be in charge of it, but less paid and less vocal administration staff.</span></p> <p>In the higher education (HE) and further education sectors, more stringent visa checks on students were introduced to unmask abuses of the immigration system by allegedly bogus <a href="">English language colleges</a>. But they travelled a long way from there, and are now a central part of the bureaucratic machinery of British universities: imposing straining and time-consuming bureaucratic requirements, leading to numerous new administrative appointments, and more importantly affecting the relationship between students and teachers and the very nature of what universities should be about, that it is the production and circulation of knowledge across disciplinary and geographical boundaries. </p> <p>Recent news stories in <a href="">The Guardian</a> and <a href="">Times Higher Education</a> highlights the broad ranging and far reaching consequences of the ‘hostile environment’: behind the veil of compliance, universities are embracing the Home Office agenda to the point of having &nbsp;become better border guards than the Home Office itself. The unconditional and zealous endorsement of this policy affects international students and international staff. Any individual who fails to report their attendance as well as any time spent off campus on a weekly basis is at risk of being reported to the UK Border Agency. Failure to comply may result, it is explained in an email sent to international staff in a British university, in ‘<a href="">disciplinary action and/or withdrawal of your certificate of sponsorship, and thereby your eligibility to remain in the UK</a>’. <span class="mag-quote-center">Universities are embracing the Home Office agenda to the point of having become better border guards than the Home Office itself.</span></p> <p>Thousands of non-UK citizens working in UK universities, including many EU nationals, find themselves in a paradoxical position: at the same time co-opted in the job of border guarding their students, for example collecting signatures, reporting unjustified absences and even being granted the power to decide if an international student can or cannot travel back home for a wedding or a funeral – while increasingly experiencing themselves the ‘hostile environment’: border guards and border guardees.</p><p>One may be excused for thinking that such an unconditional and zealous endorsement of this policy, by producing docile international staff whose rights and freedoms are restricted by the requirements imposed by the Home Office with limited rights, for example, in relation to participation in the recent strike actions, subject to continuous monitoring of their activities and whereabouts, may serve well the now dominant model of university that thrives on casualized work, precarious contracts, underpaid academic staff and a systematic undervaluing of academic work. </p> <h2><strong>Not only about foreigners</strong></h2> <p>The normalisation of border checks in public services must be resisted. The ‘hostile environment’ is not about ‘illegal migrants’. It criminalises preventively all migrants, treating all as potentially ‘illegal’. But, be sure, this is not only about ‘foreigners’. The Windrush scandal shows the contempt of the UK government for those who came from the former colonies as British subjects, a contempt no doubt deeply rooted in colonialism and racism. The ease with which the UK government has turned the EU citizens living in the UK in bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations is also a testimony of the extent to which the hostile environment is pervasive and operates as a logic of governance that reshapes the rights of citizens and immigrant alike and the relationship between the state and its subjects, redefining the meaning of citizenship in the process.&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="/digitaliberties/francesco-ragazzi/trust-and-suspicion-under-policed-multiculturalism">Trust and suspicion under ‘policed multiculturalism’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/wfd/francesco-ragazzi-rosemary-bechler/policed-multiculturalism-and-predicting-disaster">‘Policed multiculturalism’ and predicting disaster</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/didier-bigo-emmanuel-pierre-guittet/we-need-to-remove-free-movement-from-vicious-">We need to remove free movement from the vicious circle of security </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/people-newright/article_306.jsp">What is Post-fascism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/nando-sigona/amber-rudd-windrush-scandal-and-reluctant-remainer">Amber Rudd, the Windrush scandal and the reluctant Remainer</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Nando Sigona Mon, 11 Jun 2018 15:25:05 +0000 Nando Sigona 118346 at Brexit, Parliament and the British Constitution: why a People’s Vote is the only legitimate constitutional means of resolving Brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>" If... the people legitimately... set parliament and government the task of working out a way of leaving the EU, then... the people should also be able mark their homework and pass a verdict on their efforts."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis delivers a speech in London, June 6, 2018. Leon Neal/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The first clause of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty states:</p> <p>“Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”</p> <p>But as has become apparent, in the case of the UK, nobody really knows what those requirements actually <em>are</em> and a significant amount of energy has been consumed over the last two years in disputes over what the respective roles, responsibilities and powers of Parliament and the executive are, what the precise status of the referendum is and who, if anyone, is responsible for interpreting it. The Miller case exposed confusion and uncertainty even over who had the power to <em>begin</em> the process. &nbsp;There is no clear constitutional guidance, either, on how or by whom it should be executed, scrutinised or concluded and, crucially, how and by whom the outcomes should be approved or legitimised.</p> <p>This messiness reflects the UK’s famously uncodified constitution, which means its basic rules are not systematically laid out in a single, document which governs the relationships of key elements of the political system. This means that the UK constitution is very flexible which has served it well in some respects, not least in adapting to European Union membership.&nbsp; But it means, above all, that the constitution is <em>political</em>.&nbsp; Above all, sovereignty and power in the British constitution has not been a matter for the courts, as in many codified systems, but has rather been established and maintained by political struggle, which is why the resolution of the question of who should trigger Article 50 by the courts is somewhat problematic in the UK context.</p> <p>A key principle of the British constitution is the notion of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ – that Parliament has the sole right to make or unmake law in its territory. For many Eurosceptics, it is this that made the British system incompatible with EU membership, which (as confirmed by the Factortame Case in 1991) instituted a higher body of law over that of statute. But this was merely a qualification of Parliamentary sovereignty, and one which Parliament imposed upon itself and (as Brexit perhaps proves) can also remove. </p> <p>However, even if that qualification is eventually removed, there are, unfortunately for Parliamentary Sovereignty enthusiasts, many more than that. Significant constitutional changes made under the Blair and Brown governments (including devolution and the creation of a Supreme Court), as well as Cameron’s (including fixed term parliaments, the creation of regional mayors and English Votes for English Laws), whilst by no means part of any strategic masterplan, have also <em>de facto</em> altered Parliamentary sovereignty. In some respects it has been strengthened – the Prime Minister no longer has the power to dissolve Parliament against its will. In other respects, it has weakened: it has lost control over key areas of domestic policy, including personal taxation, to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.&nbsp; One of the more significant changes in recent years, it turns out, has been the use of referendums to endorse or reject many such reform proposals. It means that, as Vernon Bogdanor has pointed out that a ‘new principle … of the sovereignty of the people’ has entered into the British constitution (Bogdanor 2016, 314).</p> <p>Thus, the age old struggle over sovereignty and power between the Crown (now represented by the executive) and Parliament continues, but now complicated by two other important participants: the devolved authorities and, crucially, the people. Brexit, in particular, the question of <em>how </em>the process should be carried out has exposed the ambiguities in the relationship between these participants and where the boundaries of authority and sovereignty lie. Ultimately, this raises profound, constitutional questions about who governs: Ministers of the Crown, Parliament, the devolved assemblies or the People? </p> <p>The flexible and political nature of the constitution means that the response of politicians and political parties to the referendum was always going to be crucial in determining the ‘constitutional requirements’ necessary to withdrawal from the EU. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, with both main parties in states of disarray, and unclear how to respond, backbench MPs had a rare opportunity to set the terms of debate, and an analysis of the first six months of debates in Parliament following the referendum, reveals that five distinct positions emerged which have shaped the debate, are still relevant and still being argued over now. </p> <p>Whilst these are on the whole <em>politically</em> motivated<em> </em>positions, taken because of their perceived advantage to either a Leave / Remain or a ‘Hard’ or ‘Soft’ Brexit position, &nbsp;have significant constitutional implications at least as profound as the outcomes themselves, and each leave questions about the developing nature of the UK constitutional settlement.</p> <h2><strong>Five positions: arguments, questions and implications</strong></h2> <p><strong><em>Position 1: The Executive should make the key decisions and control the process.</em></strong></p> <p>Some argued for this on the basis that the referendum was an ‘<em>instruction … given by the ultimate holders of sovereignty in this country</em>—the British people.’ There is therefore no role for Parliament in interpreting the meaning of the result.&nbsp; Indeed, some went further and argued that it is simply legally and constitutionally right that the process be ‘<em>a matter for the royal prerogative’ </em>– and therefore ministers – rather than Parliament. Many made a more pragmatic case arguing that ‘<em>we need to unbind the hands of our Ministers and allow them to get out there … and negotiate the excellent deal that we know they can get</em>’ but this has a similar constitutional effect. On the one hand, it denies the right of Parliament to meaningfully contribute to the process, thus effectively subordinating Parliament to the executive. On the other hand, whilst the argument for doing that uses the popular sovereignty expressed in the referendum as a justification, it treats the people’s role as a once and for all, final decision, thereby limiting the ‘sovereignty’ of the people to a once only event.&nbsp; The outcome, therefore, looks something like a power grab by the executive and a weakening of both parliamentary and popular sovereignty.</p> <p><strong><em>Position 2: Parliament should set the agenda, support key decisions and steer the process.</em></strong></p> <p>In a flexible constitution like the UK’s convention really matters and MPs pointed out that – as demonstrated by the Lisbon Treaty – it is<em> ‘clearly established that a major treaty change has to be triggered by an affirmative resolution of the House’</em>&nbsp; meaning Parliament must have a significant role. This makes practical sense, too, since <em>‘we cannot extrapolate from the result of the referendum the specific terms upon which the majority of those in this country wish their relations with the European Union now to be governed</em>’.&nbsp; Whilst both these arguments come from a position that does not deny the validity of the referendum, they assert the importance of Parliament’s role as a deliberative chamber, scrutinising in detail and coming to reasoned, considered decisions which neither the public nor the executive can.&nbsp; </p> <p>However, this begs some questions: if we accept that Parliament must have a role in interpreting the will of the people how much room for interpretation <em>is</em> there? And when does it become blocking ‘the will of the people’?&nbsp; What – in other words – are the limits of Parliament’s authority in this respect? If the referendum was an instruction, who was it directed at? Some attempted to address this by simply asserting the absolute principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty, arguing that denying Parliament a vote is <em>‘a constitutional outrage’ </em>because<em> ‘referendums are advisory and … Parliament is sovereign</em>’ and arguing that Parliament should therefore be free in principle to overturn it. But whilst this may be consistent with a strict interpretation of Parliamentary Sovereignty, it is politically very problematic. It does not recognise the <em>fact </em>of popular sovereignty that – like it or not – has become established practice through the use of referendums to endorse or reject some kinds of decision.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong><em>Position 3: Government and Parliament need to work together in order to achieve the best possible outcome.</em></strong></p> <p>At first glance, a more balanced, pragmatic position recognises the legitimacy of the referendum whilst seeking unity in the ‘national interest’ and to the government’s own desire to make a success of it. Following a relatively close referendum result, Parliament’s role, from this point-of-view is to ensure wider public support – from both Leave and Remain supporters – so that<em> </em>‘<em>fellow citizens can have absolute confidence in this perilous process’</em>. Besides, the sheer complexity of the issues involved including the ‘<em>citizenship rights, immigration rules, employment and social rights, agriculture, trading relations with the EU and third countries, and Scotland and Northern Ireland’ </em>means that scrutiny of and approval for the government<em> ‘aims, objectives and red lines’ </em>in the negotiations is essential.&nbsp; For this reason, it is essential that the executive and Parliament can work together. If they do then the government is ‘<em>far more likely to get a good deal’ </em>because it will have ‘<em>managed to bind both sides of this House and both Houses of Parliament into a strong negotiating position</em>’.</p> <p>The implications of this is that there is a division of responsibility based on appropriate areas of competence: the people issue instructions via a vote, Parliament interprets and scrutinises it (including endorsing the timings) and the Executive negotiates and implements it. What this requires, however, is two things: firstly, a level of compromise on all sides which has not really been forthcoming. This has to be at least partly because the control over the process itself has been up for grabs:&nbsp; who controls the process, gets what they want and therefore it is worth investing energy in doing so.&nbsp; Thus, secondly, it requires a means of defining and arbitrating between those relationships. If something like this had been in place (in the form of a written constitution, say) then the fight is worth less. Perhaps we would have had less wrangling over who runs the show and more focus on what the outcome should be.</p> <p><strong><em>Position 4: It is right and necessary that devolved assemblies participate meaningfully in the process.</em></strong></p> <p>The trouble with the three positions set out so far is that they ignore another fact of the evolving constitution. Whilst the UK is still in principle a unitary system (and the referendum was UK wide), it does in practice contain some features of a federal one, albeit in a quasi and somewhat lop-sided way . There is, at the very least, therefore, a strong argument to suggest that the government needs to be sensitive to the divergent ways the constituent nations and London voted, which perhaps should have meant greater involvement than they have had so far. Thus, whilst there is no strictly legal obligation for the government to consider the demands of the Scottish (or Welsh or N.I or London) government, it may in practice make sense to do so.&nbsp; </p> <p>On this basis, Scottish nationalist politicians have felt able to argue that <em>‘the process to exit the EU requires Holyrood's consent’</em>11 because of its significant effects on what are or may be considered devolved matters and because Scotland claims a level of sovereignty over these matters its own territory.&nbsp; Taken to its logical conclusion there is a serious case to be made that it is ‘<em>ultimately for the people of Scotland to decide whether they remain in the United Kingdom or the European Union’</em>. Whilst this has to be understood through the prism of the SNP’s campaign for independence, a more practical argument for at least consulting with other constituent parts of the UK is that each has its own specific needs and interests that need to be considered and understood in ensuring the best and fairest deal possible. The direct involvement of devolved authorities is vital, for example, ‘<em>so that we can explain to the UK Government how the industries work and how our communities live so that they can ensure that they prioritise them and not just the views of the City of London</em>.’ </p> <p>This illuminates another ambiguity which begs some important questions. Devolution is by now well established: the 2016 Scotland Act recognises the Scottish government and parliament as ‘a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements’. Despite this, there are still tensions over the limits and extent of the authority of the assemblies (the current stand-off between the Scottish and UK governments over the return of powers from the EU to the UK is illustrative of this). Would it not, therefore, make sense to have some consistent, transparent and clear rules about what its relationship to the UK Parliament and other constituent parts of the UK?&nbsp; In short, how can the relationship between the sub-governments and the centre be regularised and transparently governed?</p> <p><strong><em>Position 5: Voters should have the right to accept or reject the terms of any deal in a referendum.</em></strong></p> <p>In the first six months after the referendum, the idea of having a <em>further</em> referendum on the exit package / outcome of negotiations was a <em>very</em> niche position, articulated by a few on the Labour benches and the remaining Liberal Democrats.&nbsp; Geraint Davies, who was one of the early outliers on this argues that once the electorate have a clearer picture of a post-Brexit Britain which they had not got from the referendum campaign ‘<em>they will have an increasing appetite for a referendum on the exit package</em>’. One might have expected this argument to retreat somewhat as the process went on and opinion perhaps coalesced around a compromise. </p> <p>However, the argument for a referendum on the deal has not gone away and has in fact gained credibility, articulated in a popular fashion by the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign. Whilst this has been initiated by anti-Brexit campaigners because it is hoped that the 2016 referendum decision will be reversed, there are other reasons why this may be the only satisfactory way of settling the issue of Brexit for now, whatever the result of such a vote might be. &nbsp;</p> <p>First, endorsing the proposals recognises the reality of how we got here in the first place.&nbsp; If we accept that the people legitimately voted to set parliament and government the task of working out a way of leaving the EU, then it only seems right that the people should also be able mark their homework and pass a verdict on their efforts. &nbsp;A ‘<em>guarantee that people will be able to vote on the destination as well as the departure</em>’ would provide legitimacy for the outcome of negotiations on the same basis as the instruction to begin the process, as Tom Brake put it in 2016. Secondly, it provides a way to break the impasse and draw a line under the bitter divisions that Brexit has exposed both within the political elite and the wider population. </p><p>Thirdly, it recognises the fact that our political system in its current form cannot resolve it. We have a minority government in a majoritarian two party system in which both main parties are divided and unable to come to clear agreements between themselves, never mind with each other. Thirdly, it recognises the fact that referendums have – for good or ill – become part of the UK’s constitutional practice and therefore ‘the people’, alongside the Parliament and the Executive, is here to stay as a key location of sovereignty in the British political system. </p> <p>So, whilst Brexit has exposed some of the ambiguities at the heart of the British constitution about power and sovereignty, it also points us towards a potentially appropriate resolution. What is clear is that traditional ideas of parliamentary sovereignty simply don’t cut it. Referendums, devolution, the changing role of the courts (to name but a few) have all qualified it. The logic of the UK’s evolving constitutional practice and the need to come to a reasoned and reasonable settlement demands, &nbsp;therefore, a strong role for Parliament in deliberating, interpreting and shaping the response to the referendum, to be carried through by a coherent executive governing <em>with</em> and <em>through</em> Parliament and subject to its scrutiny, with the final result legitimised by a ‘People’s Vote’. &nbsp;</p><p>This must all be done in partnership with and with appropriate provisions made for the devolved authorities. This may be wishful thinking, but it perhaps provides the contours for a settlement on how the British constitution might work in the future, too, in or out of the EU. </p><p>Whilst it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss precisely how central to this is codification – writing it down into a clear framework so that rules, relationships and responsibilities are transparent and understood by all participants, including the procedures in place for changing it, will be vital to a settled, just and properly functioning system.</p> <p>At present, it is not clear we have this. What we do have is mess and deadlock. The government is wracked by division and seems congenitally unable to make a clear decision, Parliament has had to fight against being ignored, blocked and bypassed, whilst the struggle is now on for a People’s Vote. Whatever the outcome, what happens next, and crucially, <em>how</em> it happens may shape our constitutional settlement for many years to come.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Brexit2016 Danny Rye Sat, 09 Jun 2018 15:56:48 +0000 Danny Rye 118324 at God votes in India, abstains in Britain. Part 1 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Once Britain moved beyond religious nationalism, religion itself became a spent force, though not one prevented from speaking truth to power. Contrast India.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//;Lambeth_Palace&#039;,_c1685_MoL.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//;Lambeth_Palace&#039;,_c1685_MoL.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lambeth Palace from the south. Circa 1685. Wikicommons/ Anonymous - A picture from the collection of the Museum of London. To the north, many of the riverside buildings off of Whitehall and the Strand may be seen. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>A lot depends on where you come from. It affects your way of seeing.</p> <p>Arriving from the India of the eighties, it seemed only normal to hear the Dalai Lama addressing a congregation in a Christian church in London. Coming from India in 2018, one gets anxious hearing Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi chants in a Brighton church. Some fanatic Christians may come and disrupt the well-advertised multi-faith event. They may be provoked further by the weekly prayer meeting being held in the neighbouring Bahai Centre. Nothing of the sort happens. No one arrives to protest.</p> <p>Multi-faith prayers mark the Brighton church’s reopening as Saint Augustine’s Centre for the Arts, Spirituality and Wellbeing! The church building fell into disrepair as the number of worshippers dwindled and it remained disused for 10 years. A real estate developer made the church appear in its new avatar! He bought the building, renovated it and rechristened it. The reincarnation of this Brighton church is not a miracle. Such incidents keep happening in Britain. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The new owner is a Christian with an interest in other faiths. He looks enchanted by the Sufi prayers. This writer is unable to concentrate on the words of faith. He is distracted by thoughts of religion-politics interactions in Britain and in India. <span class="mag-quote-center">The new owner is a Christian with an interest in other faiths. He looks enchanted by the Sufi prayers.</span></p> <p>Inside the reopened church, the Gothic architectural setting flaunts contemporary furniture. Modern lights illuminate the high ceiling and walls. The Lady Chapel area is offered as an “unusual setting for boardroom meetings”. Sixty people can be seated for theatre-style talks or 20 people can sit around a large board room table. The Alter area is “an exciting space for powerful business presentations” as well as “a space for spiritual enlightenment”. For 36 pounds an hour, the corporates can invite guests to take their seats. The café and the holistic therapy centre are in business. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gothic interior. Author's photograph.</span></span></span>While cafés pop up in church buildings across the UK, a village pub has started holding a regular church service in its precincts. There is no opposition. The pub-owner says Christianity does not disapprove of drinking. </p><h2><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>Once upon a time</strong></h2> <p>The Hindu-Buddhist-Sufi prayers being held in a Christian church building reaffirm inter-faith harmony that was once generally valued in India. In the eighties, one had come to the UK from an India where devout Hindus passing by a mosque or a church bowed their heads.</p> <p>During a visit to Britain in 1955, writer Nirad C. Chaudhuri went to the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge on Easter Sunday. Moved by the service, he wrote: “I said to myself that if anywhere I, a Hindu, could think of becoming a Christian it was in such a place.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brighton renovated church building.</span></span></span>In an Indian town in the late fifties, a bearded old man used to stand for hours on a street corner talking of Jesus Christ. A respected Sanskrit-knowing Hindu was safely invited to address the evening prayer meeting in a local mosque. India is dotted with places of worship visited by devotees belonging to different faiths. </p><p>Of course, India was never free of sectarian clashes, but respected community leaders always moved fast to restore normalcy. The participants in violence would later show remorse. Mutual hatred did not last long. Usually, all was forgotten and forgiven. In normal times, Hindu and Muslim neighbours live peacefully, the two telling each other: “You do your things, we do ours”. The majority community did not display triumphalism. That was the India that was. <span class="mag-quote-center">“You do your things, we do ours”. The majority community did not display triumphalism. That was the India that was. </span></p><h2><strong>Mental pollution wins elections</strong></h2> <p>Today a politically promoted religious resurgence seems to be transforming India. A thick layer of mental pollution shrouds the nation. Bigoted political leaders spew sectarian hatred and get away with it. They are encouraged and helped by the print and audio-visual media and even more by social media.</p> <p>Newspaper headlines tell a depressing story. A Hindu-Muslim wedding is disrupted by goons. An inter-faith couple in a public garden is thrashed by a group screaming “love jihad”. Journalists who do not promote sectarianism are threatened. The principle of secularism is attacked openly. The secular people are called “sickular”. A religious minority is threatened. At times their place of worship is vandalised.</p> <p>It is not a genuine religious resurgence. All this is done to polarise voters. Religion is deployed blatantly to win every electoral battle. Sectarian strife disturbs social harmony. But it helps a Hindu nationalist party whose electoral strategy involves religion-inspired aggressive political mobilisation. This strategy calls for generating sectarian tensions in the run up to elections. Attacking a religious minority in election speeches helps in the consolidation of Hindu votes.</p> <p>Religion has become central to politics as some poll campaigns in India indicate. The behaviour pattern of Hindus has helped. They prostrate themselves before the gods as well as before their mortal heroes. Nirad C. Chaudhuri points out that “between the secular prostrations and prostrations before the gods there is only a difference of degree and not of kind, because in India the most powerful political leadership is itself quasi-religious.” </p> <p>Niradbabu did not live on to see an Indian temple with the idol of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters being called “devotees”. This aspect of Hindu behaviour makes Indian democracy vulnerable to religious frenzy. &nbsp;</p> <p>Some other features of the Hindu tradition are designed to sustain and enrich democracy. Hinduism features millions of gods and goddesses constituting a grand Divine Parliament! What could be more diverse and multi-cultural? Hinduism has no single Book nor a central religious authority. It embraces even non-believers in its fold. It has varied philosophical schools and a long tradition of scepticism, argumentation and disbelief. Scholarly debates once prevailed over theological divisions.</p> <p>Notwithstanding this glorious legacy, the faith tradition has been hijacked for narrow ends and is used as an effective tool for political mobilisation. Even the complex caste system and the multiplicity of gods and goddesses do not always frustrate a plan to rally a majority of Hindus behind one political banner. </p> <p>A political formation organises communal display of faith and taps it for electoral gains. Increased intolerance and violence mark the process as fiery rhetoric incites religious passion. That is why coming from the India of 2018, one feared trouble outside that Christian church in Brighton on that sunny afternoon.</p> <h2><strong>Borrowed nationalism </strong></h2> <p>Religious nationalism anywhere is always aggressive. True religion could not be read on the faces of the Hindus mobilised by a political party to demolish a mosque in India. According to Steve Bruce, who has written extensively on sociology of religion, the most violent individuals were usually the least personally religious. He also notes that many of the churches played a key role in encouraging reconciliation. In India religious leaders do little to bring about reconciliation between clashing faith groups. Some NGOs and secular and leftist parties make heroic efforts to counter hate and violence.</p> <p>India’s present ruling party says it is committed to “Hindu nationalism”&nbsp; – a mixed-up concept based on imported ideas. Leaving aside the party’s Fascist tendencies, it is to be noted that “Nationalism” was borrowed from Europe. And temple politics, through which nationalism is promoted, has no place in the original Hindu faith tradition. Temple cults were borrowed from western Asia. Even after their adoption by Hindus, these retained the features they had in their homelands. Christianity had fought and triumphed over these very cults.</p> <p>Christianity was a violent religion in the era of the Crusades of the 11th century. However, to see Britain as an image of contemporary India where nationalism needs to be clothed in religious idiom, one has to go back to the 16th and 17th centuries that saw constant sectarian strife. Religion was nationalism then. In fact, religion was a 16th century word for nationalism. Over the centuries, English nationalism discarded its religious garb. And in the last few decades, religion itself became a spent force. <span class="mag-quote-center">Over the centuries, English nationalism discarded its religious garb. And… religion itself became a spent force.</span></p> <p>Today no Protestant group displays a messianic fervour. No one retaliates or feels hurt if a church is converted into a multi-faith institution. Different faith groups co-exist in peace and even intermingle on special occasions. </p> <p>Surprisingly in Britain the rise of militant Islam has not led to a major spurt in Christian militancy. Attacks on mosques and Sikh temples have increased but these are not politically motivated, and the criminals do not enjoy political patronage. And there is no religious inspiration behind these. And all hate crimes are taken seriously by the police and politicians.</p> <p>The two major parties in Britain have regular internal debates to scrutinise if any of their members has been affected by the virus of Islamophobia or anti-Semitism. Racial prejudice is sought to be curbed and not encouraged with a view to winning votes. In the current situation marked by Islamic militancy, the election of a Muslim as the Mayor of London and the appointment of a Muslim as the UK’s Home Secretary cannot be dismissed as token gestures.</p> <p>Hate speech has no place in Britain’s political culture. Fifty years ago, senior Conservative leader Enoch Powell made a speech in an attempt to instil the fear of immigrants. That one statement ended his political career. A few weeks ago, a Tory councillor in Britain was suspended for Islamophobic comments on social media. Some Labour Party leaders have faced disciplinary action because their statements were considered anti-Semitic. </p> <h2><strong>The US and the UK</strong></h2> <p>The political scene in the US is different. There a Charlottesville Hate Marcher belonging to a pro-White group recently got elected to a Republican Party post. Britain does not witness the US-style culture wars. In America, a Christian group may indulge in competitive communalism, raise anti-Islam slogans and behave violently. </p> <p>In America Islamic militancy has given rise to Christian militancy. Bigoted pastors issue fiery statements and campaign for their chosen political leader. A special breed of American voters called “evangelical voters” command considerable political influence in selected areas. </p> <p>President Donald Trump banks on bigoted pastors one of whom was chosen for giving the controversial benediction at the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. This fanatic has a record of inciting against religious minorities including Mormons, Catholics, Jews and Muslims. This pastor supported Trump during the election and blamed President Obama for paving the way for the Antichrist! Britain does not produce such priests.</p> <p>President George Bush had a direct line to God who presumably asked him to invade Iraq. Bush was never shy of making a reference to his proximity to God. In Britain, even a practising Christian among its political leaders does not wear his faith on his sleeves. If a politician professes his Christian faith too much, journalists start pelting him with hostile questions. </p> <p>British Prime Minister Theresa May offered an Easter message in which she spoke of herself as a vicar’s daughter. But she takes care to say that “we don’t flaunt our faith.” Her approach has been described as “a very English form of understated belief”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Margaret Thatcher opposed the national lottery because she was a Methodist. She did not hesitate to discuss religion and was not amused by the Archbishop of Canterbury and some bishops talking of the inner cities and the Falklands War. Tony Blair converted to Catholicism only after leaving the Prime Minister’s office. </p><p>In Britain, the demand for restricting the number of immigrants is driven by economic reasons rather than religious prejudice. Many Christians seem to have drawn a different lesson from Islamic militancy. They perhaps link violence to religions in general rather than to one particular religion. They have become more indifferent to religion.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Of course, Britain remains a predominantly Christian country. It has a long history of close interaction between the church and the state. Royal occasions provide an opportunity for the two institutions to display their bond. The monarchy as well as political institutions such as Parliament are associated with faith and religious rituals. The formal links have not been snapped despite official secularisation and the social trend of moving away from religion. </p><p>The Archbishop of Canterbury lives in a mansion far grander than the modest abode of the Prime Minister and gets as much publicity as the Prime Minister. However, as a historian points out, “the effect of the Church upon the day-to-day lives of its supposed members had long since been subordinated to a variety of secular influences”. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Archbishop of Canterbury lives in a mansion far grander than the modest abode of the Prime Minister and gets as much publicity as the Prime Minister.</span></p> <p>The British clergy’s conduct also discourages the political leaders from thinking of misusing religion. In some countries, men of religion keep quiet when their faith is hijacked by the ruling party. Some willingly get enlisted by politicians to incite sectarian passions. </p> <p>When social harmony is disturbed, a minority religious leader has to be careful in what he says. In India, a letter of instruction from the Archbishop of the Delhi Diocese to its churches to pray for the nation was construed as an attack on the Hindu nationalist Prime Minister! Because of that innocuous letter, the Archbishop got mauled in social media by the devotees of the powerful political leader. Those benefiting from mixing religion with politics start warning others against mixing the two.</p> <h2><strong>Speaking truth to power</strong></h2> <p>The clergymen of Britain can and do speak truth to power. They often condemn the Government’s anti-poor policies and cuts in the welfare budget. The Church comes out with reports on the plight of the poor. It has contributed a great deal to creating the impression that Thatcherism was to blame for growing spiritual and economic poverty of the inner cities.</p> <p>Senior clergymen oppose the Government’s “immoral” move even if it seeks to enhance British power. For example, Anglican Clergyman Canon John Collins, along with philosopher Bertrand Russel, led the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. A clergyman was the vice-president of the CND for years. A few church leaders oppose Britain waging wars, though the Government always ignores their view. Politicians know that they can afford to ignore the church leaders. After all, how many Brigades does the Pope have?</p> <p>Some politicians resent those in dog collars campaigning against welfare reform. The churches bypass the official structures providing food banks and housing and employment advice. All religions talk of love, compassion and service. Churches in Britain, like in other countries, implement the message by running educational institutions and by collecting money for providing relief and deploying volunteers to help the poor, homeless and starved. One Archbishop hoped that the Church will fill the void left by a failing state. He saw the mood generated by economic problems as “the greatest opportunity” for the Church.</p> <p><em>(Part II follows)</em></p><p><em>All the photographs were taken by the author.<br /></em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openIndia openIndia uk UK United States India Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics L K Sharma Sat, 09 Jun 2018 13:14:01 +0000 L K Sharma 118323 at Looking at Lexit : Everyday Lexiteers - Interview 2 : Niall <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"<strong> </strong>I found the politicians on both sides of the argument nothing short of disgusting and the framing of the debate as appalling."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>David Cameron announces his resignation as Prime Minister in the wake of the UK vote on EU membership.24 June 2016. Wikicommons/ Tom Evans. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></em></p><p><em>As part of our Looking at Lexit series, we’ll be asking left-wing Brexit voters about their reasons for voting Leave. Our second “Everyday Lexiter” is Niall, a 50 year-old Glaswegian running a social enterprise.</em></p> <p><strong>1. Describe your political outlook/background/loyalties.</strong></p> <p>Traditional celtic lefty with a strong belief in ‘from each according to their means to each according to their needs’ with an emphasis that everyone, no matter their needs is expected to also make a contribution. My socialism considers public sector mandarins to be on the same side as the capitalist elite and that genuine accountability needs to be as local as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1.2&nbsp;Describe, in two or three sentences, your political utopia: what would your ideal community look like, and how would it function?</strong></p> <p>Everyone should make a valued contribution to their community in accordance with their abilities and everyone should be supported by their community in accordance with their real needs.&nbsp; Accountability is held at as local a level as possible. People are entitled to use their talents and effort to gain advancement and wealth but must be regulated to avoid exploitation. Society should value fairness and appreciate tax as a means of creating happiness. The class that a person inherits should not be the defining factor in their capacity to accumulate wealth and power.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>2. &nbsp;What was your main reason for voting for Brexit? Do you remain happy with your decision?</strong></p> <p>I experience the EU’s primary objective as the facilitation of global capitalism. The labour laws, regulation and social ‘development’ policies of the EU, while on the face of it progressive, were shown to be a façade by the EU response to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain when the financial crash happened. Essentially I feel that wealth, power and influence were increasingly being concentrated in the hands of big business, big finance, big politics and big bureaucracy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. &nbsp;Were you influenced by any politicians? Friends, family, colleagues?</strong></p> <p>Definitely not, I found the politicians on both sides of the argument nothing short of disgusting and the framing of the debate as appalling. Family and friends were universally remainers, largely in reaction to the racism and Brit nationalism of the Brexit campaign. They all felt uneasy about my arguments and while they could agree with many of my criticisms of the EU they felt obliged to vote remain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. &nbsp;How do you feel a Labour-led Brexit would differ from a Tory one?</strong></p> <p>Not sure, I no longer trust the Labour party as a result of the fact that, when in power, they sided with the rich and powerful and were apparently content for everyone else to get by on credit and welfare. No matter who is leading Brexit, I think that we need to expect and prepare for any deal with the EU to be difficult as the EU elites have a huge investment in Brexit being a failure. We should therefore anticipate fiscal contraction and use it as an opportunity to empower communities to take more responsibility for their wealth, welfare and well-being.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. &nbsp;How do you see the UK in five years’ time? How do you see Europe?</strong></p> <p>I hope and expect that the UK will be more federal, if there has not been Scottish independence. I expect that its international status will have declined and that we can use our strengths and talents to serve our communities rather than being obsessed with projecting power.</p> <p>I don’t believe that the EU is sustainable in the long term but do expect it to be resilient in the short and medium terms. Without fundamental, cataclysmic change then the imbalance between the rich north and poor south will continue to grow, leading to increasing resentment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>6.&nbsp; On that note – how did you vote in the Scottish independence referendum?</strong></p> <p>I was an initial no voter as I despise nationalism, however I became a yes voter as the indyref campaign went on. The independence vision being put forward was politically progressive and fundamentally civic rather than tribal. I would definitely support a much more federal structure with as much power being devolved as possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>7.&nbsp; What would have to change about the EU, or the UK’s relationship with the EU, for you to support continued or renewed membership?</strong></p> <p>Whatever I say to this question would be unrealistic and sound naïve. It is in the nature of organisations that power becomes concentrated in the hands of a few and they are unlikely to agree to reforms which would make subsidiarity genuinely meaningful as evidenced by the contradictions within the Maastricht treaty; reasserting the rights of member states while creating economic and monetary union. How did that work out for the Greeks?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/julian-sayarer-xavier-buxton/everyday-lexiteers-interview">Everyday Lexiteers - an interview</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk EU UK Looking at Lexit Brexit2016 Julian Sayarer Niall Fri, 08 Jun 2018 11:28:37 +0000 Niall and Julian Sayarer 118310 at In memory of Razan al Najjar: Steve Bell's cartoon <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An Israeli army sniper&nbsp;shot the 21-year-old nurse while she was trying to care for injured protestors in Gaza. This is Steve Bell's tribute to her.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Steve Bell revised this cartoon to avoid causing unintended offence; <a href="">more information here</a>. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Razan al Najjar was a 21-year-old Palestinian nurse volunteering with the medical crews attending protesters hit by Israel Defense Forces' sniper fire during the ten-week protests at the Gaza border. </p><p>Called by the organisers the "<a href="">Great March of Return</a>", ("مسیرة العودة الكبري"‎), the protests were demanding that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to what is now Israel. They were also protesting about the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the moving of the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. </p><p>After giving an interview earlier that day, in which she said she took pride in the aid she was providing to the wounded, Najjar and her team of paramedics approached the border in white coats and with their hands in the air. She was fatally shot in the chest.</p><p><em>The New York Times</em> <a href="">reports</a> that in an interview at a Gaza protest camp last month, Najjar said: “Being a medic is not only a job for a man. It’s for women, too.”</p><p>According to&nbsp;<em>The New York Times</em>, on 1 June, "she ran forward to aid a demonstrator for the last time. Israeli soldiers fired two or three bullets from across the fence, according to a witness, hitting Ms. Najjar in the upper body. She was pronounced dead soon after….&nbsp; On Saturday, a group of United Nations agencies issued a <a href="">statement</a> expressing outrage over the killing of 'a clearly identified medical staffer,' calling it 'particularly reprehensible.'"</p><p>Violence during the protests has resulted in the deadliest days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza War. The Israeli military say that the investigation into al Najjar's killing will continue, and accuse Hamas of putting civilians in danger.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// al-Najjar Facebook profile pic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// al-Najjar Facebook profile pic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Razan al Najjar (Image: Facebook)</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="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call">Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Gaza </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk Gaza Palestine Conflict Israel Rosemary Bechler Fri, 08 Jun 2018 09:56:42 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 118305 at The migrant-led activism stamping out racial hostility in the UK <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Meet the pro-migrant individuals, groups and organisations who are working tirelessly to counter this government’s anti-immigrant policies, pro-Brexit propaganda, and ‘hostile environment’.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// (2).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// (2).png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="220" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: IWGB picketing outside University of London. Credit: IWGB.</em></p><p>Images of ‘that’ poster depicting desperate refugees rambling to reach Europe, accompanied with the headline ‘Breaking Point’, designed to whip up a frenzy of pro-Brexit, anti-migrant prejudice, will be engrained on Britain’s consciousness for a very long time. As will the decision to leave the EU, driven in part through this widespread anti-immigration sentiment and <a href="">fear</a> that freedom of movement is responsible for taking the ‘great’ out of Great Britain.</p> <p>The Windrush scandal has pushed Britain’s harsh immigration policies into the limelight, forcing one ministerial resignation and an apology from the government. But people who have lived and worked hard in Britain for many years are still losing their jobs, homes, being denied NHS treatment, and even being torn away from their families. Then there’s the relentless drive to make life as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants. Post EU referendum, the number of enforced removals and detentions of all foreign nationals, including EU citizens, has risen sharply. <a href="">Government figures show</a> 5,301 EU nationals were removed during the year ending 2017, a 20% increase on the previous year and the highest figure since records began. Equally distressing is the <a href="">six-fold increase</a> in the number of EU citizens being detained since 2009.</p> <p>So this is Theresa May’s hostile environment. </p> <p>And it is encouraging a wave of migrant-led activism. Pro-migrant individuals, groups and organisations are working tirelessly to counter the harsh consequences our intimidating Home Office, anti-immigrant policies, pro-Brexit propaganda, and purpose-built ‘hostile environment’, are creating. </p> <h2>The3million – challenging Brexit-based apprehension</h2> <p>One such individual and organisation is Katia Widlak and <a href="">The3Million</a>, the largest grassroots organisation of EU citizens living in the UK. The3million is a not-for-profit organisation, founded after the Brexit referendum to help protect the lives of EU citizens who call Britain their home. </p> <p>The organisation’s name derives from the estimated number of EU citizens who have moved from another EU country to live and work in Britain. </p> <p>Katia Widlak, a UNISON organiser and chair of the board of trustees of the3million, explained:</p> <p>“We aim to help EU citizens, as well as British citizens living in other EU member states, retain as many rights as possible and to give them a voice. We don’t side with a particular political party, to enable us to speak to as broad a spectrum of people as possible. The3million offers a support network for EU citizens living in Britain and engages with public sector organisations and businesses to support the rights of EU workers.”</p> <p>Katia’s organisation is concerned at how Brexit-based uncertainty and apprehension is overwhelming EU citizens living in the UK, as well as UK citizens living in other member states, who are equally uncertain and concerned about their future rights in their chosen EU country. </p> <p>And even before Windrush confirmed it, ministers have shown how out of touch they were on immigration. The 3Million was notably unimpressed with the former Home Secretary’s Rudd’s comparison of the complex EU registration process to <a href="">setting up an account with the luxury retailer, L.K. Bennett</a>. </p> <p>Referring to the Windrush scandal, Katia asked:</p> <p>“How on earth is it possible that things like this are happening in the UK?” </p> <p>With the uncertainty surrounding EU citizens’ rights after Brexit in March 2019, Katia fears the recent local elections might have been the last chance for EU citizens to vote in UK local elections, so one key activity The3million has been recently involved in was raising awareness of EU citizens voting rights. “The3million campaigners have been busy on Britain’s streets handing out leaflets, posters and flyers to make people aware that all EU citizens can vote, and how to register to vote if they have not yet registered,” said Katia. </p> <h2>The Racial Justice Network - “what we see now is UK neo-apartheid”</h2> <p>The <a href="">Racial Justice Network</a> is another organisation battling to counter the hostile political narrative escalating within Britain. The Racial Justice Network is aimed at promoting racial justice across Leeds and further afield. </p> <p>The Network brings together more than 30 organisations and individuals from around the region of Leeds to help stamp out racial injustice and promote equality for all. It aims to proactively counter the hostile narrative through research, training and information on key legislation, strategy and policy, to “empower its members to challenge racial injustice and inequality.” </p> <p>Penny Wangari-Jones is a race and social justice activist and campaigner for the Racial Justice Network. Penny, who is based in Bradford, spoke of people’s anger at the still hostile narrative around race in Britain:</p> <p>“We are shocked and horrified when we think of the laws that existed with regards to slavery, colonisation and segregation in previous centuries, yet what we see now is UK neo-apartheid in the twenty-first&nbsp;century…the hostile environment segregates migrant communities from the rest of society in terms of rights, entitlements and compassion for their suffering.” </p> <p>Penny says it is important to channel such anger and energy constructively in order to make a difference.</p> <p>“People are angry, and we need to use that energy by training people on how to run effective campaigns to challenge racism.”</p> <p>The culture of racism and hostility that has been escalating in Britain since the EU referendum is impacting ethnic minorities, says Penny. She tells of how in Bradford, for example, women are taking their headscarves off when picking their children up from school, because of the racial antagonism brewing in their locality.</p> <p>“Many individuals are fearful of asserting their own cultural identity on the UK’s streets,”, she comments. “The Windrush scandal, detention, deportations have woken a lot of people to what has been happening to often unheard and vulnerable individuals in isolation…apart from it toppling Amber Rudd who was a foster mum to Theresa May’s baby, we must not forget that [May] is still in power and the policy is still in action until we as humans put humans before monetary gains,” said Penny. </p> <p>In her video titled ‘<a href="">5 Ways to Disrupt Racism’</a>, Penny Wangari-Jones’ speaks of the huge rise in racism after Brexit and what we can do about it. The video, which went viral, provides advice on what people should do if they witness a racist attack, including filming the incident if it is safe to do so and then reporting it to the police or hate crime reporting centres. </p> <h2>IWGB - Direct action works</h2> <p>Another organisation working tirelessly to improve the lives of migrants in the UK is the <a href="">Independent Workers Union of Great Britain</a> (IWGB). The IWGB is a fully independent trade union aimed at eradicating discriminatory working conditions for low paid migrant workers in London, predominantly from Latin America, who are being exploited by employers in industries like cleaning, driving and security. </p> <p>Henry Chango Lopez is the President of IWGB. Henry moved to the UK from Ecuador in 2000. He became a member of the IWGB while working as a porter at the University of London and decided to join them alongside many of his colleagues who, at the time, were members of Unison.<strong></strong></p> <p>“We left&nbsp;Unison and joined the IWGB to campaign for better terms and conditions for all the outsourced workers at the University of London. We left Unison because they were unhelpful and were putting barriers instead of helping us to campaign to improve things in our working place,” said Henry Chango Lopez. </p> <p>The IWGB’s President believes that in many cases, unfair pay and working conditions in the UK is a racist attack on migrant workers. </p> <p>“At the University of London, for instance, all the outsourced workers who are BME have worse pay and worse terms and conditions compared to direct employed staff who are mostly British white. That is also the case in many workplaces where we represent members and where we have been campaigning for better pay and better conditions of employment,” said Henry. </p> <p>The IWGB organises protests, demonstrations, strikes and campaigns, devoted to challenging unfair working conditions among migrants, as well as employment law related to the gig economy in Britain. </p> <p>Earlier this year, the organisation announced it was to hold the biggest ever strike of outsourced workers in the UK’s higher education history, with hundreds of outsourced workers of the University of London striking for higher pay and an end to outsourcing and to zero-hours. </p> <p>According to Henry, the strikes, protests and social media campaigns the IWGB runs are having a positive impact in improving the rights of migrant workers in Britain. </p> <p>“We have shown that direct action, social media help and pressure from the workers and supporters really works. In fact, we have good track record of winning campaigns and improving workers conditions and pay through using these tactics,” said Henry Chango Lopez. </p> <h2>So where now?</h2> <p>The government appears shamefully reluctant to ditch its absurd target to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands”. As for its objective to turn Britain into such a “hostile environment” that illegal immigrants have little choice but to be driven out, the new rebranding as a “compliant environment” so far has been accompanied by little real change. </p> <p>Britain has become dependent on migrant-led, anti-xenophobia campaigns like those of the3Million, the Racial Justice Network and the IWGB to actively and urgently fight the racial intolerance plaguing the nation. To stop migrant workers being exploited by employers, and to ensure everyone who calls Britain home has the information, advice and support to provide them with the reassurance and security they need.</p> <p>As Penny commented: </p> <p>“Racial Justice Network and other migrant led activism will continue shouting from the rooftops about the injustices, but we need support from allies and communities at large to ensure these policies are abolished.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/luke-de-noronha/windrush-generation-and-illegal-immigrants-are-both-our-kin">The ‘Windrush generation’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ are both our kin</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Fri, 08 Jun 2018 07:22:24 +0000 Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead 118296 at Brexit, Corbyn and us: what disappointment can teach us about politics and ourselves <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If politicians aren’t planning for disappointment then they’re not living in reality.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="460" /></p><p class="image-caption">Credit: <a href="">Pixabay/geralt</a>. <a href="">CC0 1.0</a>.</p> <p>Dr <a href="">Annette Clancy’s doctoral research</a> explores the role of disappointment in organisations. I talked to her about the political significance of her work on May 15 2018.</p> <p><strong>Paul Walsh</strong>: How might your work apply to politics? I'm thinking of Brexit as a disappointment time bomb in particular.<br /> <br /> <strong>Annette Clancy</strong>: Brexit is a glorious example of the folly of fantasy. It was entirely conducted along the lines of a fantasy Britain. A fantasy Britain that never existed. I don't know when this honeymoon period people talk about in Britain that we're trying to get back to was; there’s certainly a degree of fantasy on the side of the Brexiters. Where disappointment comes in is that if we don't talk about our fantasies and try to uncover what they are...they're a cover story for something. &nbsp;Fantasy is a cover story. If we simply try and fulfil our fantasies we will always be disappointed. We simply will.</p> <p>It's not possible to deliver the Brexit dream—because it is a fantasy. It was set up for disappointment as soon as it was articulated. And you know, the conversation that I believe should have happened is: What is this fantasy of a ‘white Britain’ or an ‘everybody-at-work Britain’ telling us about how Britain is constructed today? Do we actually have to have a conversation about immigration? Do we have to realise that there are swathes of people who are living in poverty and don't have jobs? They are the conversations that drove the fantasy and yet it's rare you see them being taken out and <em>really </em>articulated in a way that's meaningful for people.</p><p> The other thing about politics and disappointment is that we’re always going to be perpetually disappointed in politicians as we hold them to a higher standard. I think this is the joy of Donald Trump, who is doing exactly what he said he would do, which most politicians don't when they get elected. We have this fantasy idea of how politicians should behave, unlike how normal human beings behave. The real work goes on behind the scenes and we don't see it. If politicians were to be honest about the work, they might not get re-elected. We want the fantasy of the ideal leader, the ideal politician.</p> <p><strong>PW</strong>: Considering the recent UK council election results and ongoing accusations of anti-Semitism, what advice would you give to Jeremy Corbyn on dealing with disappointment?</p> <p><strong>AC</strong>: If political parties are not being disappointing, and being disappointed, then they and their followers are living in a fantasy. It isn’t real. And if political parties are not expecting and planning for disappointment—that is, reality—then they are not adequately planning for a real future.</p> <p>On the other issue, why wouldn’t there be anti-Semitism in the Labour party if there’s anti-Semitism in the wider population? It’s only a controversy if we carry the fantasy that the Labour party is the good party and the Conservatives the bad party. My research on disappointment suggests we’re all good/bad at the same time. We’re all satisfying and disappointing at the same time.&nbsp; Rather than be shocked by this, what would it mean to say that this exists? The Labour party is representative of wider society and not a sanitised or polarized place in which everybody does the right thing all of the time.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>PW</strong>: What might we learn from disappointment?<br /> <br /> <strong>AC</strong>: We might learn what really matters to people. Are the tasks we're asking people to do—are they the right tasks? Are they do-able? One person I interviewed talked about exceeding their quota in a call centre by twenty per cent last year. This year the new normal is last year <em>plus twenty per cent.</em> Something about what we're asking people to do and the resources they have to do it with is contested by disappointment.</p> <p>Can we learn from emotion instead of being terrified it's going to derail everything? What might happen if we were to simply listen and think about disappointment and other feelings we denigrate as negative? What might happen if we treated emotion as data? We could learn a lot about how organisations really work.</p> <p>One of the things I learned when I started to talk to people is that everybody has an experience of disappointment. Yet there's very little written about it. That to me suggests there's a fear of what might happen if we were to talk about how disappointed we all are.</p> <p>The more we talk about disappointment as failure—my failure to live up to your expectation of me, your failure to live up to mine—we're stuck in this blame/shame dynamic. We’re trying to work out whose fault it is and it kills and dampens down any possibility of doing something different. My research suggests that if you think about disappointment as loss, we have to mourn the idea.</p> <p>I call it 'mourning the future'. As&nbsp;a woman you’re in your late 30s you think to yourself <em>Do I have a child or not?</em> It's&nbsp;not just a biological decision—it's a decision about how I imagined my life would be. And if we can actually mourn that future it means we can make different decisions about what that future looks like. If we can't mourn it then we're stuck.</p> <p>With my clients I began to work with them around the loss, around this piece of grieving. What does it mean for you that you’re not the person you imagined yourself to be? What does it mean that&nbsp;you are never going to be the manager of that organisation? Or that you've tried for a job three times in this organisation and they don't want you. Move into that space and I discovered it really transformed people's working relationships. If we can move into the loss it’s a much more human place to be.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/paul-walsh/life-s-pitch">Life’s a pitch</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-walsh/how-alt-right-s-new-online-culture-wars-made-hate-mainstream">Halfway to Gilead: how the alt-right’s online culture wars made hate mainstream</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</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> Transformation uk Transformation Brexit2016 Political polarization Paul Walsh Culture Thu, 07 Jun 2018 20:10:05 +0000 Paul Walsh 118070 at Let battle commence! Matt Hancock approves both bidders for Sky <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sky shareholders look set for a bonanza summer – but what do the latest twists and turns in the Sky saga mean for news viewers?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// news.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// news.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="210" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: David Jones/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p><p>Culture Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday June 5th that he would not intervene in the bid by US cable giant Comcast to buy Sky – and also that he had approved a proposal from 21st Century Fox to sell Sky News to Disney if it was allowed to buy the rest of Sky.</p> <p>The scene in the House of Commons on Tuesday for the ministerial statement was novel in one sense. Tom Watson was still leading for Labour, but was a “shadow” of his former self: 6 stone lighter than the old heavyweight version. And Matt Hancock, previously number 2 to Karen Bradley at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was now ensconced in a cabinet seat, his predecessor having transferred to Northern Ireland as a side-product of one of Theresa May’s regular resignation crises.</p> <p>Hancock confirmed what media analysts had already worked out: that he had no good reason to block Comcast’s attempt to buy Sky, and that one of the many remedies Fox and Sky had proposed as a way round objections to their merger from the Competition and Markets Authority had found favour with the CMA.</p> <p>It is 16 months since Fox started this saga, with a £10-75 per share offer for Sky, and four months since Comcast topped that, with its £12-50 a share bid. Fox, already in possession of 39% of the shares, looks to have a head start: but Comcast has stated that it would be content with 50%+1 of the equity, allowing independent owners of Sky’s shares to bypass the Fox position if they wanted the higher amount. Assuming Fox completes its paperwork with the DCMS on the Disney disposal, and the outcome survives a final 15-day public consultation, by the beginning of July, battle will commence.</p> <h2>Why should any of us care?</h2> <p>There have been two key issues in this story. The first has been the determination of those who hate or distrust the Murdochs to prevent them buying Sky at all (their past behaviour having been too reprehensible) – a campaign led by Avaaz, Hacked Off and the three musketeers (Labour’s Ed Miliband, Vince Cable of the LibDems and Tory veteran Ken Clarke). They have failed to stop the overall transaction (though Avaaz has one last throw of the judicial review system to go), but the doubts they have raised have turned control of Sky News into a battlefield of its own.</p> <p>Sky News has a very small share of the UK news consumption market (around 5%). Although companies controlled by the Murdochs have, over the 30 years of the existence of Sky News (during which time they have pumped some £500 million into running the service), owned variously 100% of Sky, 50% and 39%, no-one can produce a single instance of their having interfered in its editorial processes.</p> <p>Nonetheless, both Ofcom (in its initial report on the Fox bid) and the CMA in its own reports have cited a theoretical possibility that Murdoch newspapers (owned 100% by NewsCorp, itself 39% controlled by the Murdochs) and Sky News (under 100% Fox ownership, again 39% controlled by the Murdochs) might “take a similar approach on specific topics or issues, push certain stories, or downplay others”. Neither regulator explained how this could be done, when any expression of views by Sky News would be a breach of its licence; nor whether, if the seeming co-ordination was a matter of matching up news agendas, such behaviour would be contrary to the Broadcasting Code (in which case it could be sanctioned) or not (in which case, what was the problem?).</p><h2>Blood under the bridge</h2> <p>All this is blood under the bridge. Ofcom and the CMA have concluded that 100% Fox ownership of Sky News was too problematic to be allowed to happen without powerful remedies.</p> <p>Fox offered three: a firewall for Sky News inside Sky; a ring-fenced stand-alone entity called Sky News within the Sky business, legally, financially, physically and operationally separate; or a divestment of that entity to a third party – specifically, Disney (which has agreed to buy much of the Fox business, including Sky, in a separate deal).</p> <p>It is highly likely that Sky News (as we know to be true of Sky itself) would have preferred to keep the news channel inside the mother-ship, contenting itself with long-term financial guarantees and a robust set of protections for its editorial independence. The further it was separated from the main business, the higher the risk over time that the news operation would be marginalised.</p> <p>The CMA operates to a different logic. What it calls “behavioural remedies” require continuing monitoring and involvement: which is why it favours “structural remedies”, capable of “fixing” a problem instantly. As it happens, even a disposal of Sky News to Disney after a Fox takeover of Sky would take at least 3 months, and the 411-page CMA report published on Tuesday (available on the CMA website) concludes with a complicated graphic trying to capture all the moving parts in even this favoured remedy.</p><h2>Fade away?</h2> <p>And then, of course, there is Comcast. Although it has also given undertakings to the DCMS about the future of Sky News (matching some of those from Fox), it is hard to see how these could be legally enforceable if there has been no intervention in its bid for Sky. Indeed, what might suit Comcast would be for Fox to win the battle for Sky, and sell on the loss-making Sky News to Disney, whilst Comcast then outbids Disney for the larger Fox deal (including the rest of Sky). It might then suit both Disney and Comcast quietly to let Sky News fade away (each already owns a major US news broadcaster: ABC in the Disney stable, NBC in Comcast’s).</p> <p>Essentially, what the CMA, Ofcom, Matt Hancock, Tom Watson, Avaaz, Hacked Off and the three musketeers have succeeded in doing is to consign Sky News to remote US ownership: either to Disney or Comcast, neither having any real interest in a loss-making minor player in the UK media scene. How that is a better outcome than trusting the Murdochs – who launched Sky News in 1988 in the face of a wall of hostility, sustained it after the launch of BBC News 24 had made it permanently unprofitable, and continuously re-invested in it both in terms of infrastructure and personnel even when the majority of Sky shareholders were offering to close the service in order to engineer a merger transaction – well, that somewhat bemuses me. </p> <p>But that’s politics! When Tom Watson name-checked Adam Boulton and Kay Burley (Kay Burley!) as exemplars of the excellence of Sky News, it was impossible to tell how far into his now-slim cheeks his tongue had been pushed. (Kay Burley’s pugnacious presenting style once made her a bogey figure for Labour voters.) </p> <p>Sky shareholders look as if they will have a bonanza summer, on the assumption that Fox will have to bid at least 10% above the Comcast offer to get back into the game – perhaps more, if it wants to deter Comcast from coming back with another, higher, bid. As for Sky News, its medium-term future looks assured. But long term? That’s another story.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/david-elstein/fox-sky-comcast-disney-endgame-approaches">Fox, Sky, Comcast, Disney: the endgame approaches</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/david-elstein/foxsky-here-comes-crunch">Fox/Sky: here comes the crunch</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/des-freedman/big-media-and-big-money-in-2017-from-disneymurdoch-to-net-neutrality">Big media and big money in 2017 - from Disney/Murdoch to Net Neutrality </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk David Elstein Thu, 07 Jun 2018 08:53:53 +0000 David Elstein 118291 at How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brexit has already begun. Any attempt to deny this and merely ‘stop Brexit’ will fail. To succeed we must overthrow the Brexit project with another, positive one.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// clouds_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// clouds_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="171" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Dear Fellow Remainers, </p><p class="AB02">We are failing to keep our country in the EU. Even as Brexit softens to the point of complete incoherence positions are hardening. Normally I write for all interested readers whatever their particular views. But here I just want to address you. Not because I want to close off what I’m saying from those who support Leave. But because we Remainers are not engaging with Leave voters in the way we must. So I’m writing to you about how we should communicate with Brexit supporters. </p> <p class="AB02">To do so we have to face up to reality: we are in the midst of a deep struggle over the future of our country. It is not just a matter of opposing views but the nature of the antagonism. </p> <p class="AB02">For over a year competing Remain campaigns had no coherent vision and made no impact. At last, thanks in good part to the efforts of Henry Porter, Director of the <a href="">Convention on Brexit</a>, most of us are uniting around support for <a href="">People’s Vote</a>. Its demand is that if a deal is formulated, voters should have the final say: is the proposed actual Brexit one we want, or should we stay in the EU? When I went to visit the crowded office of People’s Vote last month in London’s Millbank tower, nine organisations were working together, mobilizing support for a large demo on Saturday 23 June, and a tenth, Better Britain is cooperating.</p> <p class="AB02">I support People’s Vote to the hilt. But we should be careful what we wish for. Despite significant shifts towards Remain in Northern Ireland and Wales, there is a good chance that if there is a referendum we will lose - while a narrow win without an energetic, positive follow-up could put Nigel Farage in No 10 within five years. </p> <p class="AB02">We have to aim for the long-term as a full-spectrum contest is underway. This being Britain, it is mainly argued about in terms of trade, business and how to organise economic growth. The forces that unleashed it, however, are fired by patriotism rather than pragmatism – on both sides. To put it in terms of opposing, negative caricatures: a passionate rejection of losing our independence to the EU is up against our stubborn refusal to embrace Great British isolationism. Each side is committed to a future unacceptable to the other. </p> <p class="AB02">Most Remainers and Leavers are understandably reluctant to see themselves as initiating such an alarming confrontation. The Tory Brexiteers hoped success would be like the advent of Thatcherism. There would be cries of pain and continued opposition from multi-cultural leftists. But they expected the political order as a whole to accept the outcome, rally to their vision, and continue the British tradition of ‘losers consent’, while Whitehall delivered Brexit. In a parallel fashion, leading Remainers wilfully hoped good sense would prevail, as the impossibility of leaving the EU while retaining the benefits of membership sunk in; then Brexit would be abandoned like the Poll Tax, and the country would revert back to business as usual. On both sides, leaders saw their opposition to the other as a way of returning the country to its old normality. </p> <p class="AB02">In fact, a political revolution is the ineluctable consequence of the Brexit vote. There is no way back to how the UK was governed before 2016. The question is whose revolution will it be. Dominic Cummings, the mastermind of the Leave campaign, has just published a furious <a href="">open letter</a> to Tory MPs and donors on the “Brexit shambles” accusing them of failing to understand this. His devastating critique of the May government’s hapless approach to Brexit (“The Government effectively has no credible policy and the whole world knows it”) seems as unanswerable as his core argument: that “Brexit cannot be done with the traditional Westminster/Whitehall system”. His final warning: “If revolution there is to be, better to undertake it than undergo it… Best wishes”.</p> <p class="AB02">In a separate <a href="">blog</a><a href="">post</a>, Cummings applied his warning equally to those Remainers like Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson (who in effect chaired the disastrous ‘Stronger In’ campaign for the Remain side in the referendum), and ex-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, and all those who hope a second referendum will return the country to being ruled by their successors. Cummings tells them that such a re-run will leave SW1 – his shorthand for Whitehall and Westminster – a “smoking ruin”. </p> <p class="AB02">Finally, the penny seems to be dropping on our side. To take a dramatic example, Andrew Adonis and Will Hutton, both of whom played significant roles in the reproduction of the Blairite political order, open their new book <em><a href="">Saving Britain</a></em> with a ringing declaration: “<em>Brexit voters were right. The status quo is insupportable</em>”. </p> <p class="AB02">Adonis, who was a minister under Blair and is now in the House of Lords, and Hutton, who edited the <em>Observer</em> and is now a columnist for it, have entered the process that <a href="">Michael Sandel</a> and <a href="">Jon Cruddas</a> have called for: an essential reckoning with the recent past. Adonis and Hutton accept that a despotically over-centralised UK state was responsible for delivering the country into the hands of a neoliberal form of globalisation, which then generated its Brexit repudiation. They rightly insist that the source of the problem is in Britain itself and not the EU and that staying in Europe is essential to repairing the damage. </p> <p class="AB02">The bitter paradox is that the democratic cry of ‘Take Back Control’ has been captured by hedge-funded bigotry. Were Brexit to succeed, it will deliver not independence or an honest democracy but rule by oligarchs and their financial servants, such as the hard-right Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, under a mendacious exploitation of the rhetoric of sovereignty. The two authors call on us to resist this outcome with all our might, and conclude their book with Tolstoy’s sober warning in <em>War and Peace</em>, “A battle is won by those who are firmly resolved to win it.” </p> <p class="AB02">As anger rises on both sides, Martin Wolf, the influential Chief Economics Commentator for the <em>Financial Times</em>, who rarely comes to a judgment without at least two supporting graphs, <a href="">observes</a> that the result is a form of “civil war… over the sort of country this is”. He sees a clash between two “irreconcilable… evenly-matched” sides. Although he’d have loved for Brexit to be halted, he advocates “damage limitation” and a deal that keeps the UK in the customs union because frustrating Brexit will “tear the country apart”. In response, Ian Dunt, editor of <em></em> and a coruscating critic of Brexit, tweeted that for him it is already a form of civil war and to cease calling for a reversal of Brexit would be to accept a defeat he has no intention of embracing. </p> <p class="AB02">On the Leave side, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the <em>Daily Telegraph’s</em> columnist on global economic affairs, <a href="">thundered</a> that the compromise Wolf wishes for will in fact result in exactly what he hopes to avoid. Leaving the EU while staying in the customs union is a “Brexit from Hell. Such an outcome would risk a slow slide towards civil war”. Evans-Pritchard predicts fury, “volcanic fury”, if Britain remains in the Customs Union,</p> <blockquote><p class="AB02">“How can any British parliamentarian support such a formula? It cannot plausibly lead to a settled outcome. It must chafe so badly that passions erupt with volcanic fury within five years or sooner, further poisoning British relations with Europe, and nurturing a lethal sentiment in much of British society that this ancient island democracy has been subverted by a self-interested elite”.</p></blockquote> <p class="AB02">Adamantine language goes back to the immediate period after the referendum, when regular people in working class constituencies were asked if they would accept any other consequence than ‘Out’. Just watch <a href="">this clip</a> from a fish and chip shop in Burnley, which voted 67% for Leave. Speaking calmly and steadily from over the counter Liz Pugh tells Michelle Clifford of Sky News it will be “civil war” if politicians do not deliver. </p> <p class="AB02">Two years on there is a shift of tone and class, wending its way via UKIP’s Neil Hamilton in 2016 <a href="">threatening</a> “armed revolution” to Farage <a href="">saying</a> in 2017 that he would “pick up a rifle” if Theresa May does not deliver Brexit. Now, it is the arriviste political-media elite who speak of violence. Unlike Pugh they lose their cool. Allison Pearson observed the House of Lords debate on May 1 for her Telegraph column. Her response is worth reading at length as it reeks of the stench of right-wing cordite, </p> <blockquote><p class="AB02">"Watching the debate, I was absolutely disgusted. Who were these unelected toads dripping with condescension for the British people? Lord Bilimoria actually said that Parliament knows what is “in the best interests of the people and the country”. No, mate, you are the servants and we are the masters. Hard to compute in your ermine-lined ivory tower, I know, but the clue is in the word “democracy”… Theresa May should tell the Tory rebels, ‘This is a matter of confidence’… the Lords if they have any sense… will accept the Commons verdict, if they don’t then I’m afraid it’s war. The British People vs Parliament. I’m looking for a tank on eBay. Do they really think we will be told we voted the wrong way by an elite no one voted for at all?"</p></blockquote> <p class="AB02">Leave aside the vile, pseudo-plebeian swagger - no proletarian worth her salt would write about people as “mate” in this manner - as Sunder Katwala observed, if Pearson had been a Muslim who tweeted she was searching for a tank on eBay, the police would be knocking on her door. The Telegraph removed Pearson’s article from their website but it is cached in <a href="">Press Reader</a>. </p> <p class="AB02">The <em>Daily Mail</em>, being better edited, is careful not to incite violence directly. But when its front-page headlines denounce judges as “enemies of the people” and members of the second chamber as “traitors” (in response to the same debate Pearson wrote about), its language is more seriously inflammatory, because so much more prominent.&nbsp; </p> <p class="AB02">Brexiteers don’t have a monopoly on virulent, polarising rhetoric. They are expressing their frustration more loudly now. Immediately after the referendum, along with an appalling rise in bigotry, Remainers belittled Leave voters in a vile fashion and were also responsible for the initial hardening of positions; as the Brexit-backing Claire Fox’s <a href="">recent testimony</a> demonstrates. </p> <p class="AB02">What is needed is not more alarmism but a cool grasp of the forces at work. These are not rational or transactional ones. The <a href="">Daily Mail</a>, at least, has an understanding of the difference: </p> <blockquote><p class="AB02">“The truth inveterate Remoaners cannot grasp is that it was not wholly, or even principally, on economic grounds that the country voted to leave. No, the decision owed far more to a deep-seated human yearning to recover our national identity and independence by taking back sovereign control of our borders, laws, money and trade. For this precious prize voters were prepared to risk taking a knock to their standard of living, at least in the short term, should Project Fear’s scare stories prove true”.&nbsp; </p></blockquote> <p class="AB02">Everything we know about the referendum confirms this is how it was seen, certainly by the English outside London, who voted by an 11 per cent majority for Leave. These two contrasting word-clouds illustrated what happened:&nbsp;</p><p class="AB02"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// clouds.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// clouds.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="171" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="AB02">Researchers, Chris Prosser, Jon Mellon, and Jane Green of <a href="">The British Election Study Team</a> asked a large cross sample what mattered to them in the referendum. The word-clouds map the answers. Remainers were overwhelmingly concerned with their economic future. Leavers said ‘immigration” but “were actually more likely to mention sovereignty related issues overall”. The conclusion? “The referendum campaign was not a fight about which side had the best argument on the issues… Instead, the fight was about which of these issues was more important.” </p> <p class="AB02">Both sides argued past each other and dug in. Here is the picture, courtesy of YouGuv, of how opinion has stayed divided.</p><p class="AB02"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2018-06-24 at 17.29.59.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2018-06-24 at 17.29.59.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="218" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>When the Prime Minister embraces a form of customs union as she must, suppose she calls a snap referendum to deal with her back-bench hard-liners and any Cabinet dissent? Even if Labour supports Remain in such a referendum, are we going to win England - if we are calling for free-movement, are all over the shop on sovereignty, and say we should stay in an EU that is visibly in crisis and screwing Italy? I doubt it. </p><p class="AB02">Three things are necessary. </p> <p class="AB02">First, we have to get our tanks onto their word-cloud. We have to engage with issues like immigration, sovereignty, regulation, and ‘taking control’ as well as economic policy. Above all, we need to make the democratic impulse locked within Brexit our own. Confining the argument to economic consequences, especially when the Euro is on the edge of a meltdown and there could be another global financial crash, won’t cut through (nor should it). Brexit is about how we are governed not how much money the country makes. Like Adonis and Hutton, we must embrace the referendum’s verdict on the UK’s democratic failure - and come up with credible solutions to it. We need to begin this now or, if we have to scramble for unconvincing answers in October, we will be positioned as nostalgic for a failed status quo. We have to show, in a principled fashion, why the EU enhances our capacity to govern ourselves, how we can manage free movement, that we need not be afraid that Brussels will undermine our democracy or stop us improving our way of life, that there is no such thing as “our” oligarchs, and that fleeing into their arms in any EU crisis only leaves the fat for the fire. And we need to sum this up in a clear positive story.</p> <p class="AB02">Second, we must not indulge in infantile, self-defeating bouts of verbal terrorism against the other side that simply consolidate their sense of grievance and defiance. We must not treat them as if they are simultaneously venomous and inconsequential; A.C. Grayling, for example, <a href="">tweeted</a> that if we stop Brexit, the episode will evaporate like a “nasty, temporary, hiccup, soon forgotten” - as if the judgment of 17 million people was a mild outbreath of halitosis. Even those who take the forces of Brexit very seriously, like Timothy Garton Ash, can use language that implies it is a passing danger, as when he <a href="">called</a> on us to “foil” Brexit as if it was a mere thrust, potentially deadly but not in itself of lasting significance. This is especially important in terms of respect for Labour MPs. Some with North and Midland constituencies share what their voters feel. Our starting point for every argument about the need to remain in the EU should be “<em>Brexit voters were right. The status quo is insupportable”.</em></p> <p class="AB02">Third, mobilising to march through London, speeches that rally the converted, poster campaigns that reposition the EU in a positive way, exposing the economic dangers especially to employment, are well-tried methods of strengthening one’s own side and shifting opinion. But what is happening is unprecedented and Brexit will not be reversed by traditional techniques alone. We need to be gathering in Leeds, where 49% voted Leave, as well as London, or <a href="">Doncaster</a> (69% Leave) as well as Westminster. We need to talk with those who think anyone seeking to stay in the EU is trying to “kill democracy”, see January’s vivid <a href="">Guardian survey</a>.&nbsp; We could create more citizens assemblies on Brexit like <a href="">the Manchester one</a> and give them national publicity. We need to learn from last month’s Irish referendum. As Fintan O’Toole <a href="">describes</a>, those who won decided to “talk to everybody and make assumptions about nobody” and they did not “jeer back”. </p> <p class="AB02">If we want another referendum the work needs to begin now to make it an honest one. O’Toole emphasizes that the best thing about the Irish referendum was the way voters shared their own stories, which proved a vital antidote to hi-tech marketing. This is hard to emulate when it comes to EU membership, which is so remote that people project their bogies and fantasies onto Brussels. Yet something personal is taking place. Jon Trickett is, in effect, Corbyn’s Shadow Secretary for the constitution. In an important <a href="">speech</a> on why “the change that is needed can’t be achieved by the existing arrangements” (as he put it in the discussion afterwards) he emphasised, “For many, the sense of community, of purpose, of who we are, and of the place we inhabit, is so disrupted that the future now feels more dangerous than the past”.</p> <p class="AB02">Fear. Fear is an important ongoing reason for Brexit. Fear of&nbsp; the future, fear of loss of security, fear of cuts, fear of being without a government that knows what it is doing, fear of a government that does know and is indifferent to you, fear of a general ‘loss of control’. Fear and precarity are generated by a culture of competition and a form of capitalism that feeds off anxiety, insecurity and debt. Well justified fear. The EU, while not wholly innocent, is not primarily responsible. And it is <a href="">the English</a> who fear most of all. We must heed these fears in one of the richest countries of the planet, if we are to reverse Brexit. The Irish Yes campaigner’s showed us how to do it. They listened to people’s fears, assuaged them and went positive - instead of going negative and playing on people’s fears, as the UK’s Remain campaign did in 2016. </p> <p class="AB02">Brexit has already begun. Any attempt to deny this and merely ‘stop Brexit’ will fail. For we have to reverse a fundamental challenge over the nature of our country; one that is well advanced. Already, it has ensured that we can never return to the Britain of 2016 in any of our country’s four constituent nations. Let’s strain every sinew to rescind Article 50, but to succeed we must overthrow the Brexit project with another positive one - a more democratic patriotism of diversity. Fail to recognise this and we will lose the civil war. </p> <p class="AB02"><em>This is the start of short series of pieces on Brexit, next: <a href="">Sovereignty and Regulation</a><a href="">: a fourth branch of government</a>. Article updated on 24 June 2018.<br /></em></p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="">The Lure of Greatness, England’s Brexit &amp; America’s Trump</a> </strong><strong>–&nbsp;</strong><span>Anthony Barnett</span></p><p><span class="blockquote-new">“Brilliant”, <strong>Suzanne Moore</strong>, “Blistering”, <strong>Zadie Smith</strong><br />“A dazzling, all-encompassing, big picture analysis of the Brexit vote, easily the best of its kind in print, brilliantly written and endlessly thought-provoking. Do read it.” <strong>Andrew Sparrow, Editor, Guardian Politics Live</strong><br />“Responding to momentous events with deep and passionate arguments… for his verve, range and insatiable urge to take on vast themes, Barnett deserves loud applause… this is a very good book.” <strong>John Harris, New Statesman</strong><br />“The best book about Brexit so far… brilliantly caustic, there is some comfort in that Barnett has been right about so much before.” <strong>Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times</strong><br />“One of the most important political books of 2017”, <strong>The Guardian Editorial on Renewing the United Kingdom</strong>, 1 January 2018<br />“Essential reading for students of politics, constitutional law and international relations.” <strong>Professor David Marquand</strong><br />“A wonderful and compelling page turner that artfully weaves together debates on freedom, security, liberty, sovereignty and nationalism... This is a book that deserves to be read.” <strong>Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths Professor of Media and Communications</strong></span></p></blockquote><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Anthony Barnett Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 118262 at George Osborne’s Evening Standard delays controversial Uber, Google deal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the wake of ‘cash for column inches’ scandal and calls for Osborne to resign, newspaper denies that £3 million 'paid-for news' deal has been ditched</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// creepy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// creepy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Evening Standard editor and former Chancellor George Osborne. Credit: Matt Cardy/PA Images, all rights reserved&nbsp;</em></p><p>George Osborne’s London Evening Standard has abandoned the scheduled launch of its controversial £3 million campaign, just days after openDemocracy revealed companies such as <a href="">Uber and Google had been promised “money can’t buy” news coverage</a> as part of the lucrative deal.</p> <p>openDemocracy understands that the London 2020 project was planned to be given a fanfare launch in the Evening Standard today. It was to include high-profile, high-impact announcements and ambitious promises on housing, tech, and measures to combat pollution scattered throughout the paper. </p> <p>Six signed-up partners, each paying £500,000, had been promised positive news and “favourable” coverage that would continue “for the next two years” as part of the 2020 deal. </p> <p>A “transformation of the capital” into an “economic powerhouse, environmentally and socially sustainable and fit for future” was part of the “editorial” launch. </p> <p>However when the first copies of the paper arrived at rail and underground stations this afternoon, there was no mention of the project. </p> <p>Although Evening Standard’s owners ESI Media say they have not ditched the project, there is now no firm launch date. </p> <p>Since openDemocracy first revealed details of the controversial 2020 deal last week, there has been <a href="">a storm of outrage over the project</a>, which effectively sweeps away the ethical dividing line between independent editorial and advertising. </p> <p>The ‘cash for column inches’ scandal has seen calls for George Osborne, the former UK chancellor who led the project, to resign as editor of the Standard. Others called for the Standard – which distributes 900,000 copies throughout Greater London – to be banned from valued distribution points outside London Underground and rail stations; and for the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) to take action against ESI Media, the Standard’s parent company owned by Russian oligarchs Alexander and Evgeny Ledbedev, for breaking one of the ASA’s key rules that news cannot appear as editorial content “when it is not.”</p> <p>openDemocracy asked ESI Media to comment on why the planned London 2020 launch had been called off, if any commercial partners had pulled out of the project, and whether Osborne had been forced into a complete rethink given the public outrage and widespread negative coverage across UK print and broadcast media. </p> <p>A spokesman for ESI Media said: “You have been misinformed. ESI Media and our partners are committed to launching the London 2020 project and are excited about the potential it holds to deliver tangible change in improving the lives of Londoners. There has been no fixed date for the project to start. We are looking forward to launching the project to our readers during the summer.” </p> <h2>Bigger problems afoot?</h2> <p>openDemocracy has now learned of other developments which could spell trouble for ESI.</p> <p>Back in 2016, ESI sold the i newspaper to the Johnston Press group. As part of that deal with Johnston, the i signed up to a two-year deal that gives it access to content generated by the Evening Standard and the online Independent. </p> <p>openDemocracy has now learned that the “i-Standard-Independent” content deal remains in place, but that negotiations over its renewal have now stalled. </p> <p>A spokesman for Johnston Press said they would not be commenting on whether there was a plan to renew the content deal or not. </p> <p>A source with knowledge of the Johnston-ESI negotiations said there were a number of straightforward “journalistic reasons” why renewal of the 2016 deal was unlikely. However the source said that although the i had previously taken content from the Standard, that was forecast to stop “given the current atmosphere.”</p> <p>Outrage over the 2020 project, and the negative press generated by openDemocracy’s investigation, has seen Osborne’s editorship rendered toxic by many industry analysts who see the ‘church-state’ divide between news and advertising as critical to the future of newspapers. </p> <p>The extent of the financial difficulties being faced inside ESI is not fully known. There are new reports that the local television station, London Live, which barely registers on audience-research evaluations and continues to lose ESI millions each year, has been put up for sale. </p> <h2>“PR death”</h2> <p>Both the tech-giant Google and the international taxi-app firm, Uber, though formally asked to comment on their decision to take part in the London 2020 project, have so far remained silent. </p> <p>A number of companies chose not to be involved. One of them was the coffeehouse giant, Starbucks. The company told openDemocracy it had met with ESI Media, but had decided not to take the matter further. A company executive told openDemocracy privately that it did not “buy” its reputation and called the idea of paid-for news “PR death.”</p> <p>ESI Media have denied that they crossed the editorial-advertising divide and insisted that “editorial independence is and remains guaranteed in the contracts we sign.”</p> <p>However the co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, scrutinised the Standard’s 2017 coverage connected to a commercial deal with the Swiss-agri-chem giant,<a href=""> Syngenta</a>. She said the ESI claims that it had never crossed the ad-ed ethical divide did “<a href="">not stack up</a>”.</p> <p>She urged Osborne and the Standard to “come clean” about its “hidden commercial agendas.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick/george-osborne-s-london-evening-standard-promises-positive-news-coverage-to-uber-goo">George Osborne’s London Evening Standard sells its editorial independence to Uber, Google and others – for £3 million</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/james-cusick/green-party-leader-says-claim-by-george-osborne-s-evening-standard-that-it-never-blu">Osborne’s Evening Standard ‘cash for column inches’ denials ‘do not stack up’ – says Caroline Lucas</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk openMedia James Cusick Tue, 05 Jun 2018 16:20:59 +0000 James Cusick 118255 at The propagandistic nature of the liberal media: Interview with Florian Zollmann <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new study exposes in forensic detail how Western newspapers have in recent years applied journalistic double standards to reporting human rights abuses, from Yugoslavia and Iraq to Libya and Syria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Ruins left by an American missile attack on Syria, Tasnim news agency. Rights: CC 4.0</em></p> <p>Ian Sinclair interviews Dr Florian Zollmann, a Lecturer in Journalism at Newcastle University and author of the recent book <em><a href="">Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention</a></em> (Peter Lang, 2017). Zollmann starts by setting out the main findings of his study.</p> <p>Florian Zollmann: Leading news organisations in liberal democracies employ a double-standard when reporting on human rights violations: If countries designated to be ‘enemies’ of the West (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012) conduct human rights violations, the news media highlight these abuses and report demands for action to stop human rights breaches. Such measures may entail policies with potentially serious effects for the target countries, including sanctions and military intervention. If, on the other hand, Western states or their ‘allies’ (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the US-led Coalition in Iraq in 2004 and Egypt in 2013) are the perpetrators of human rights violations that are similar or in excess of those conducted by ‘enemies’, the news media employ significantly less investigatory zeal in their reporting and virtually no measures to stop abuses are suggested. </p> <p>My study shows, on the basis of an assessment of extensive quantitative and textual data, that the news media utilise different journalistic norms in terms of how they convey emotional sentiment, handle facts and evidence, use sources and perspective and classify events. These journalistic double standards, then, translate into a radically dichotomised news framing of problem definitions, responsibility of actors and policy options in response to what constitute relatively similar human rights violations: Official ‘enemies’ are depicted as pariah states, facing international condemnation and intervention. Western states and their ‘allies’ are depicted as benign forces, which may at best be criticised for using the wrong tactics and policy approaches. The dynamics of such <a href="">dichotomised propaganda campaigns</a> have had the effect that only some bloodbaths received visibility and scrutiny in the public sphere.</p> <p>In Libya, conflict between government and opposition groups erupted on 15 February 2011. By 23 February, Western newspapers had provided generous space for quotations by US, UK and EU government spokespersons as well as partisan actors who demanded intervention in Libya in accordance with the ‘responsibility to protect’ doctrine. The dominant news media discourse depicted the actions of the Libyan government as atrocious crimes, ordered by the highest levels of governance. The United Nations Security Council eventually authorised the 19 March 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. </p> <p>Yet, whilst the International Criminal Court <a href="">estimated</a> that about 500-700 people had been killed in Libya in February, no independent investigation into the incidents had been conducted at the time of the NATO onslaught. As my study shows, the international press had acted as a facilitator for intervention in Libya. This so-called ‘humanitarian’ intervention was far deadlier than the violence that had preceded it. <a href="">According</a> to Alan J. Kuperman, ‘NATO intervention magnified the death toll in Libya by about seven to ten times’. Moreover, it turned out that Libyan security forces had <em>not</em> indiscriminately targeted protestors (see <a href="">here</a>). My study also shows how the pretext for intervention in Libya was discursively manufactured. </p> <p>Another case study in my book looks at news media reporting of so-called US-Coalition ‘counter-insurgency’ operations during the occupation of Iraq. In October 2004, the respected medical journal <em>The Lancet</em> published a <a href="">study</a> suggesting that 98,000 people had been killed during the US-Coalition invasion-occupation of Iraq between 19 March 2003 and mid-September 2004. The authors of the study <a href="">wrote</a> that the violent deaths ‘were mainly attributed to coalition forces’ and ‘most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children’. On 8 November 2004, US-Coalition forces attacked the Sunni city Fallujah, the centre of Iraqi resistance against the occupation. US-Coalition air and ground forces used an array of heavy weaponry including artillery, tanks, helicopters, jets, heavy bombs, and other devices, like explosive coils to clear minefields, in residential areas. Fallujah was treated largely as a <a href="">‘free-fire zone’</a>. It is estimated that during this assault between <a href="">800</a> and <a href="">6,000</a> Iraqi civilians were killed.</p> <p>As I document in my book, the Western press hardly reported these figures. The findings of the <em>Lancet</em> study were largely ignored and not linked with US-Coalition warfare in Iraq. In fact, the press depicted civilian carnage as ‘casualties’ – the tragic outcomes of ‘war’. Whilst the press included indignant statements by Iraqi actors and human rights organisations, there were almost no reports of any statements conveying policy options that would have put a constraint on the US-Coalition’s use of military force such as sanctions or measures in line with ‘responsibility to protect’. </p> <p><strong>IS: Why do elite newspapers in the West report foreign affairs in the way you describe?</strong></p> <p>FZ: The Western elite press draws heavily from government officials to define, explain and accentuate events. Such performance results from institutional imperatives: newspapers have to operate cost-effectively in the market system. The institutional requirement to make profits compromises journalistic standards,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>such as to report accurately and in a balanced way, to search for the ‘truth’, or to monitor the powerful. Markets incentivise the use of pre-packaged information provided by governments and powerful lobby groups. Nurturing such official news beats decreases the costs of newsgathering and fact-checking. Official statements are regarded as authoritative and their publication does not lead to reprimands. </p> <p>Additionally, there has been a vast increase in government and corporate <a href="">propaganda activities</a> that feed into the news media cycle. If newspapers engage in critical investigations that undermine the official narrative, they face costly repercussions: denial of access to official spokespersons, negative responses by think-tanks and actors as well as the threat of libel suits. Because small losses in revenue may threaten their economic survival, news organisations are driven towards the powerful in society. </p> <p>Commercial constraints are augmented by the integration of newspapers into quasi-monopoly corporations. <a href="">According</a> to the <em>Media Reform Coalition</em>, ‘Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world,&nbsp;with 3 companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and 5 companies in command of 81% of local newspaper titles.’ Such levels of media concentration encourage ideological homogenisation. For example, market concentration allows media owners to synchronise the news agenda and incentivises the recycling of information across different platforms. Corporate consolidation establishes market-entry barriers and prevents the launching of alternative newspapers. Finally, the commercial press is dependent on corporations that act as major advertising sponsors. The research I discuss in my book suggests that news organisations are inclined to not undermine the interests of their sponsors. Moreover, <a href="">work</a> by James Curran highlights how advertisers act as de-facto licensers: without advertising support, commercial news organisations go out of business. </p> <p><strong>IS: Did you find any significant differences between the US, UK and German press?</strong></p> <p>FZ: On a macro-level, there are strikingly similar reporting patterns in the US, UK and German press. This means that the dichotomised reporting patterns outlined above are replicated across countries independent of a newspaper’s national or ideological affiliation. Such a performance can be explained by the fact that US, UK and German news organisations are subject to the same economic constraints. Furthermore, US, UK and German governments share a similar ideological outlook in terms of US-led Western foreign policy objectives. We have seen numerous examples in recent years when the UK and German governments have supported US foreign policies, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The news media broadly reflect this alignment. Of course, there are also differences. National political interests manifest in reporting as well. For instance, the German press included tactical reservations about using military force in Libya. This appeared to reflect national elite disagreements, as German politicians preferred other policy options. There were also differences in the quantity and detail of coverage. The US press arguably provided the most comprehensive coverage in terms of the amount of published material. The ‘liberal’ UK press reported in more detail on humanitarian issues and was more critical of US-Coalition actions in Iraq – albeit not in a way that substantially challenged policy.</p> <p><strong>IS: The ongoing war in Yemen is not one of the case studies you analyse in your book. From what you have seen of the media coverage of the Yemen conflict, does it conform to your thesis?</strong></p> <p>FZ: As I have <a href="">written</a> elsewhere, the Yemen case fits well in the framework of my study. The humanitarian crisis is largely a consequence of the blockade and invasion of Yemen orchestrated by a Saudi-led military coalition. Saudi Arabia has been a close ally of the West. During the war in Yemen, the US and UK have provided substantial <a href="">diplomatic and military support</a> to Saudi Arabia. Consequently, there has been no willingness by the so-called ‘international community’ to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to stop its actions in Yemen and R2P and related doctrines have not been seriously evoked. This, then, has been reflected in muted news media coverage. Whilst <a href="">reports and critical discussions</a> about Saudi Arabia’s military conduct and the way civilian areas have been systematically targeted in Yemen have been published by the press, there has been no sustained campaign in the news media aimed at seriously constraining the Saudi military’s ability to use force. Comparing this with reporting on Syria, where the Western news media have been constantly featuring reports that include discussions about military and other forms of intervention, the double standards could not be more obvious.</p> <p><strong>IS: What advice would you give to interested citizens keen to get an accurate understanding of world affairs?</strong></p> <p>FZ: I am hesitant to recommend specific news outlets. It is important to draw from multiple and diverse sources of information and to question official announcements, narratives and ideologies, independent of where they come from. </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="/rhiannon-smith/complicated-relationship-libya-syria-and-international-press">A complicated relationship: Libya, Syria and the international press</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-americanpower/article_1457.jsp">The perfect storm? The American media and Iraq</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/javier-delgado-rivera/yemen-is-not-paris-western-media-s-cold-shoulder">Yemen is not Paris: western media’s cold shoulder </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Ian Sinclair Tue, 05 Jun 2018 11:53:29 +0000 Ian Sinclair 118249 at