uk https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/front en Job: OurBeeb editor https://opendemocracy.net/opendemocracy/job-vacancy-ourbeeb-editor <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">openDemocracy is looking for a skilled editor to help shape a public debate about the future of the BBC.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Application deadline: May 31st 10am (GMT)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>Who are we looking for?</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">openDemocracy is looking for a skilled editor to help shape a public debate about the future of the BBC. Your role will be to lead openDemocracy's OurBeeb section, to commission and publish articles, develop partnerships and help expand the projects’s readership and impact. This is a part time role, working three days a week.</p><p dir="ltr">We need someone with excellent editorial and communication skills and knowledge of the BBC and its history. You must have a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities for public service broadcasting in the 21st century and ideas about how the sector might be transformed in the near future.</p><p dir="ltr">This is a key position in a small team, and you will join the project at a critical and exciting moment. The BBC's Charter renewal period will be entering its final stage, with huge ramifications for British media and cultural production. We will be publishing into the online project and also putting together a book, 'What do we want from the BBC?' to broaden the debate at this crucial moment. We may even be in the aftermath of a Leave vote, looking at how public service media might adapt in a UK outside of the EU.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>What is the ourBeeb debate?</strong></h3><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/" target="_blank">OurBeeb</a>&nbsp;is a debate on the nature and future of public service broadcasting across Britain in all its forms and media. As the Charter Renewal process goes on largely behind closed doors we will be asking: How can we ensure public service media are creative and accountable to the public? How can the BBC itself be felt to be 'ours', by the public who fund it and whose many voices it claims to represent?</p><p dir="ltr">Funded by 95% of British homes via the licence fee, the BBC belongs to the people, not the government. OurBeeb is independent, non-partisan, and aims to ensure that the discussion about the future of British Broadcasting Corporation is in the hands of the British people.&nbsp;</p><h3><strong>Main responsibilities of the role:</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">· Commission, edit and publish pieces</p><p dir="ltr">· Further the project’s impact; build its social media presence</p><p dir="ltr">· Identify and build relationships with new contributors</p><p dir="ltr">· Represent OurBeeb at media events</p><p dir="ltr"><span>·</span><span>&nbsp;L</span><span>ook into potential for ourBeeb offline debates.</span></p><h3><strong>To Apply:</strong></h3><p dir="ltr">Please send a covering letter outlining how you are suitable for the role and a brief CV to&nbsp;<a href="mailto:recruitment@opendemocracy.net" target="_blank">recruitment@opendemocracy.net</a></p><p dir="ltr">The deadline is: Tuesday 31 May 10am (GMT)</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> OurBeeb uk openDemocracy News openDemocracy Fri, 13 May 2016 11:00:12 +0000 openDemocracy 95105 at https://opendemocracy.net Inquest jury finds failures in detainee healthcare https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/phil-miller/inquest-jury-finds-failures-in-detainee-healthcare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An MRI brain scan that was wrongly cancelled might have led to life-saving treatment for Bruno Dos Santos, who died aged 25 in the care of UK immigration authorities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/VERDICT800.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/VERDICT800.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="153" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Bruno Dos Santos, a 25 year old Angolan man, died from unexpected natural causes at the Verne immigration removal centre in Dorset on 4 June 2014, an inquest jury found today.</p><p>His healthcare in the months leading up to his death was criticised today in a narrative verdict by the jury sitting at Dorchester County Court.</p><p>Dos Santos died from neurosarcoidosis, a rare brain disease. Although this condition showed no symptoms, he also suffered from epilepsy and was receiving treatment for that.</p><p>The jury found that during his time in custody, “Planned MRI scans did not take place due to a succession of failures within organisations involved.”</p><p>The ten jurors said in their verdict that neurosarcoidosis could have been detected before he died: “An MRI scan may have led to diagnosis and possible medical treatment, which may have prevented his death.”</p><p>Dos Santos was booked in for an MRI appointment as far back as January 2013 after he suffered a seizure at Belmarsh prison.</p><p>That scan “never happened”&nbsp;and the senior coroner said in his summing up that this was “not a very&nbsp;good state of affairs”.</p><p>Another opportunity was missed in February 2014, when a consultant neurologist Dr Cocco arranged a second MRI scan.</p><p>By this time, Dos Santos was being held at HMP Thameside, a private prison run by Serco.</p><p>It was there that healthcare staff, working for private provider Care UK, refused to let Dos Santos attend the appointment for “security reasons”.</p><p>The jury heard evidence that&nbsp;it was routine&nbsp;at Thameside&nbsp;to cancel all pre-booked external medical appointments that a prisoner&nbsp;was aware of, in case it provided a chance&nbsp;for them&nbsp;to plan an escape.</p><p>However, Dos Santos was being held under immigration powers at Thameside and was not a normal prisoner.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Record-of-inquest-sharp.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Record-of-inquest-sharp.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="359" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>RECORD OF INQUEST 27 May 2016</span></span></span>As such, he was entitled to a more flexible regime.&nbsp;Home Office&nbsp;policy stipulated: “Every effort should be made to meet medical appointments for detainees.”</p><p>The coroner said&nbsp;that not following&nbsp;this policy was a&nbsp;“very unsatisfactory state of affairs”.</p><p>Dr Cocco&nbsp;said that the brain scan appointment could have led to life-saving treatment.</p><p>“It was probable that I would have seen abnormalities and definite that I would have made further investigations,” the neurologist said.&nbsp;</p><p>Although this takes time, Dr Cocco said tests could have been completed before Dos Santos died.</p><p>He would then have given Dos Santos potentially life-saving steroids at least ten days before he died.&nbsp;</p><p>Shortly before his death, Dos Santos was moved to the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset.<br /><br />Officers found him dead, face down in his bed, at 7.44am on 4 June 2014.</p><p>Nick Brown, the family's barrister, said after the five day inquest: “This has been a very difficult experience for the family.”</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/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-who-died-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-25-year-old-man-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/CCA-SchoolDrugRaids">Private prison company used in drug raids at public high school</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/phil-miller/cancelled-brain-scan-could-have-saved-uk-immigration-detainee">Cancelled brain scan could have saved UK immigration detainee</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/phil-miller-clare-sambrook/national-shame-that-is-healthcare-in-uk-immigration-detention">The national shame that is healthcare in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/shinealight/phil-miller/satisfactory-uk-immigration-lockup-samaritans-dare-not-visit">Satisfactory? The UK immigration lock-up that Samaritans dare not visit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/champagne-for-serco-shareholders-23-hour-lock-ins-for-serco-prisoners">Champagne for Serco shareholders, 23 hour lock-ins for Serco prisoners</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 Care and justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Phil Miller Fri, 27 May 2016 13:46:00 +0000 Phil Miller 102504 at https://opendemocracy.net The BBC and British branding https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/claire-westall-michael-gardiner/bbc-and-british-branding <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The corporation’s claims to the public and to neutrality are crucial for the British state and its power across the globe.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kominsky.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kominsky.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Peter Kosminsky defends the BBC at the Baftas, 2016. Credit: BBC</span></span></span></p><p>The build up to, and aftermath of, the government’s white paper on the BBC reinforced a common pattern: a horror scenario was floated, protests were lodged, BBC figures showed their opposition to governmental demands for improvement but ultimately, as Nick Higham made clear, little <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36259237">'will change fundamentally'</a>. Des Freedman described this as <a href="http://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/18342-decoding-the-bbc-white-paper">‘Apocalyptic rumours followed by a row-back and relief’</a>, a ‘two-step strategy’ that the Conservative government has often used (especially with budget statements). The drama provoked demands to defend the BBC’s independence and neutrality, seemingly at any cost, and the BAFTA awards ceremony became a role-call of celebrity protest along these lines. When Peter Kosminsky, the director of <em>Wolf Hall</em>, collected the award for Best Drama Series, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/may/09/peter-kosminsky-baftas-speech-bbc-john-whittingdale">his speech</a> echoed a number of well-worn assertions:</p> <p><em>"Most people would agree that the BBC’s main job is to speak truth to power – to report to the British public without fear or favour … It is a public broadcaster – independent of government – not a state broadcaster, where the people who make editorial decisions are appointed by the government … All of this is under threat, right now … And you know what? It’s not their BBC, it’s your BBC. In many ways our broadcasting … is the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it.</em>&nbsp;"</p><p><span>As we have described </span><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Public-British-Reflexivity-Political-Foreclosure/dp/1137351330">elsewhere</a><span>, this conflation of ‘your’ and ‘our’ shows the BBC’s ability to create a </span><em>public</em><span> from within itself without any real reference to the </span><em>people</em><span>. Kosminsky’s warning is a familiar misunderstanding of what is or isn’t the state, and the BBC’s ability to create mediating institutions within it. The BBC certainly is a state broadcaster, but it is one whose power derives from its ability to distance itself carefully from the ‘core’ of state using intermediaries steeped in the jargon of neutrality: the soon-to-be-replaced BBC Trust for example.</span></p> <h3><strong>Period drama and public memory</strong></h3> <p>A couple of further issues are suggested by the BAFTA warning. Firstly, the cachet of historical dramas and their relationship with the heritage industry and, behind this, the BBC’s desire to converge archiving and public memory creation. Such is the BBC’s embeddedness in state machinery that documentaries and dramas are quietly charged with producing saleable versions of history <em>as</em> history. It is now common, for example, for BBC documentary histories to present their own footage as a memory of the time without any acknowledgment of this mediation. For example, Dominic Sandbrook’s series on the ’70s, illustrates the move from beer to wine with a scene from <em>Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?</em>, as if the BBC’s televisual output is itself history. And this maps onto the creation of ‘a public’ supposed to correspond to the people. Secondly, the envy Kosminsky describes is the envy of how the entangledness of the BBC with economic and foreign policy and its tacit backing <em>as</em> a voice of Britain allows it an extraordinary niche from which it can leverage its own apparent neutrality and impartiality.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/wolfhall.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/wolfhall.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The BBC Two historical drama 'Wolf Hall'.</span></span></span></p> <p>The BBC is in this sense a virtual monopoly broker of heritage. Heritage is not the same as history, which people have actually experienced, it is an economically-driven story of history in this case licensed by the wide state and having to draw some degree of participation by the people it encodes as the public – that is, it has to be seen to be loved. The heritage carrier is always in danger, and always having to be saved by a public who love it. This public has to lie at one remove from an apparent core of state conflated with the state itself, and perhaps, in this vein Kominsky’s comments can be taken as misleadingly identifying the state with just the buildings in Whitehall and Parliament. Particularly pronounced after the mid-twentieth century, the mediation of history as heritage both relies on ‘we, the public’, and is central to the adaptation of Britain’s economic role in the world.</p><p><span>The BBC itself, acting as producer, licenser, and audience all at once, frequently slides between description of content and description of heritage, as in </span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26326189">‘What the world thinks of British TV’</a><span>, which reports that ‘foreign programme sales’ rose during and immediately after the double celebration of 2012, with the Golden Jubilee and London Olympics. London 2012, of course, was a set of object lessons in recuperating past images of public togetherness for private profit and the Olympic opening ceremony insisted on a welfare-state retro projection of ‘This is for Everyone’ in one of the most privatised environments in the world. In this sense, the BBC’s natural role in the heritage industry belongs to a much longer adaptation of colonial empire to subjective economy that had been taking place since the middle of the twentieth century.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h3><strong>The BBC and the neutral ‘us’</strong></h3> <p><span>What is really unique in such pushes is the ability to mobilise popular participation as itself a brand – the source of the welfare-state retro increasingly visible after 2008 and collected in the Olympics opening ceremony, and also the authoritative ground of the licence fee which is both apparently voluntary and also legally taken as universal. The BBC Trust defines those liable to fund the Corporation through the licence fee as not only as TV owners, but also ‘any other person in the UK who watches, listens to or uses any BBC service, or may do so or wish to do in the future’. This extraordinary claim for all time is apt, since the BBC speaks for and on behalf of an organic British settlement that is not made by any people at any point. Rather, it seemingly just happens through a public ‘us’ that is without people and that no one has defined. It is ‘for everyone’ without anyone specifically opting in. In this mythology, neutrality is held to have given birth to a natural collective British ‘us’, and this comes through in </span><em>Guardian</em><span> comments’ reaction to the White Paper panic, claiming that the BBC was being victimised because the government don’t like ‘collectivism’.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/ThisisforEveryonePA_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/ThisisforEveryonePA_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The London Olympics opening ceremony, 2012. Credit: Morry Gash / PA Images</span></span></span></span></p><p>More widely the BBC brand in the heritage industry relies on the sacral neutrality that is rehearsed during every scare like the White Paper. Neutrality, moreover, is itself a central theme driving overseas sales, and relying on the BBC’s constitutional embeddedness. <em>Sherlock</em>’s popularity in China is a prime example. An East Asian market for British (really London) Victoriana has been established for a while, and draws on the rise of an ideology of neutrality in the Victorian empire itself, a literary canon claiming global civilizing powers, the paraphernalia of rational gentlemanliness in Holmes and now his conduit Benedict Cumberbatch, and behind these the calm authority of the financial capital. In such apparently neutral realms exceptional quality naturally floats to the top, and this neutralist exceptionalism is increasingly celebrated as content.</p> <h3><strong>Founding role of the state broadcaster</strong></h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/SherlockChina.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/SherlockChina.png" alt="" title="" width="240" height="360" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chinese publicity for BBC drama 'Sherlock'. </span></span></span>The BBC was created not through some spontaneous popular demonstration but right at the heart of the state, by laissez-faire empire loyalists, and as the primary vehicle for these neutral claims to British exceptionalism. It follows a long era during which the core need for neutrality was taken from colonial occupation to be ‘cultured’ via a number of interlocking constitutions, including civil service testing, literary education, the expectation of gentlemanliness and all the various civilities of the Anglosphere. The BBC was to act as a coda for claims to neutrality and exceptionalism, and transmit them across the commonwealth.</p><p><span>Comparable to and drawing from the General Post Office’s previous role in public communications, the BBC was an archetype of the modern public corporation, and after its 1927 Royal Charter commissions have regularly concluded that, as the 1951 Beveridge Report (on Broadcasting) put it, the Corporation ‘carries with it such great propaganda power that it cannot be trusted to any person or bodies other than a public corporation’. John Reith stressed the importance of BBC governance establishing a ‘unity of control’. As early as 1925, the Crawford Report was arguing that ‘only the state could license the BBC to be “a public corporation acting as a trustee for the national interest”’. But James Curran and Jean Seaton date the rise of the BBC’s performance of neutrality, or what they call the point at which ‘the BBC invented modern British propaganda’, more specifically to the 1926 General Strike, a time when, as Michael Tracey describes, there was ‘detailed co-operation between the government and the BBC to get the miners back to work’.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Although the BBC did occasionally censor in the 1930s, it increasingly relied on a performance of transparency, which would gradually itself be thematised and fed it into its claims to political balance, that is, a form of competition enshrined in the BBC guidelines as ‘a wide range of significant views and perspectives’. The great emotional claim of neutrality, though, comes after the massive consolidation of cultural agencies in the wartime emergency of 1939-42 (the Ministry of Information, the Council for the Encouragement of Music and Arts, the British Council, the Board of Education), when neutrality could be explicitly fitted to the instrumental demand of public morale. During this period the BBC was able to join the exceptionalist story of global neutrality to the love of domestic audiences, and as Sian Nichols puts it, ‘empire was again a persistent theme in British domestic as well as overseas broadcasting’.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BBCWorldlogo.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BBCWorldlogo.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="277" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The World Service, established as the Empire Service in 1932, and funded by government grant-in-aid, remains a pivotal policy conduit. Reacting to a 2011 scare over cuts to the World Service, in his Institute of Commonwealth Studies lecture Philip Murray described how ‘[i]f you’re going to have a serious foreign policy you should concentrate on what you’re good at, and in Britain’s case that’s the BBC’. Policy increasingly converged with the BBC’s reputation as solid, reliable, neutral, and public, and the BBC increasingly understood the demand to mobilise British heritage to align its global economic role with domestic public opinion. William Beveridge cited the need for the unification of public opinion to recommend the continuation of the BBC monopoly.</p> <h3>Citizenship as brand loyalty</h3> <p>This grip on public opinion – in our own times increasingly read, of course, through welfare state retro – is part of what is at risk from what is described as ‘private sector’ contamination, and part of the reason no British government really wants to risk the BBC brand. Even the most ‘privatising’ governments appreciate this – Thatcher administrations, for example, as seen in the 1992 document ‘The Future of the BBC’. If one thing is clear from the current White Paper controversy, it is the ongoing need for ‘distinctiveness’, an encoded demand for a tightening of the BBC’s British branding credentials.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/CameronChina.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/CameronChina.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>PM David Cameron in China, 2013. Credit: Stefan Rousseau / PA Images</span></span></span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Plus, the BBC’s branding tends towards a continuum with state policy, not some kind of popular check on it. And this already exerts a power over the whole media: the power of the BBC’s virtual monopoly on heritage, archive, and the visual and legal signs of the public, forces other providers to echo its formats and bask in the shadow of its cultural capital, its heritage-ism, its definition of balance, its institutional feedbacks, its neutrality claims (</span><em>Downton Abbey</em><span> most obviously, often taken as a BBC production but in fact an ITV one). The story of privatising dangers averted at the last moment segues seamlessly into the need to protect the BBC as a national brand with global reach, and this homely defence must be made domestically to have the authenticity to work overseas. This has been particularly true of a heritage-driven economy that has been increasingly comfortable in portraying its claimed nation as a brand.</span></p> <p>The BBC then is central to the branding mobilisation of public neutrality. The degree to which this branding of neutrality has come naturally to Britain with the long ‘culturing’ of physical empire can be readily tracked. It is seen in the way London itself has become a degree zero of nation-branding. In fact, as Melissa Aronczyk shows, virtually all the active nation-branding consultants to be found anywhere in the world are based in London. Nation-branding in Aronczyk’s description looks much like the BBC’s mission – it is an overseas message that must also be performed at home: people ‘“live the brand”… perform[ing] attitudes and behaviours that are compatible with the brand strategy… “immersing” themselves in the brand identity’. This is a vision of the national that is both patriotic and instrumental, that is rigorously politically neutral because it is ultimately not political at all, but ‘rooted in the unifying spirit of benign commercial “interests” rather than in the potential divisions of political “passions”’. It is a prestige continuum for which cultural claims to neutrality and the thematising of neutrality can simultaneously be celebrated for their economic core, in which the gritty ‘realities’ of the City of London are also familiar and domestic, as in the opening titles of the UK <em>Apprentice</em> series. With the entanglement of citizenship and brand loyalty this kind of milieu demands, there are obvious rewards for outraged defences of the not-a-state state broadcaster.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Michael Gardiner and Claire Westall are authors of 'The Public on the Public: The British Public as Trust, Reflexivity and Political Foreclosure ' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk Brexit2016 White Paper Impartiality and Plurality Creativity, Programming and Digital Public Space Can we trust the BBC? Michael Gardiner Claire Westall Fri, 27 May 2016 12:38:36 +0000 Michael Gardiner and Claire Westall 102502 at https://opendemocracy.net The left shouldn't limp away from Europe, we should stay and fight https://opendemocracy.net/uk/james-anderson/left-shouldnt-limp-away-from-europe-we-should-stay-and-fight <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The left case for Brexit doesn't stand up.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/George_Galloway_2007-02-24.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/George_Galloway_2007-02-24.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Di David Hunt - George Galloway, key 'Lexit' advocate, CC BY 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>The referendum on the UK exiting or staying in the European Union is not some popularity contest about whether you like or dislike the EU. Nor is it simply an internecine split among British Tories or capitalists which is of little interest to the rest of us – apart perhaps from sitting back to enjoy watching them tear each other apart. That would be lazy, narrow-minded and short-sighted. It is not necessarily the Left that will benefit from their divisions, especially if there is a right-wing Brexit victory to leave supported by its left-wing equivalent Lexit. Too much is at stake, especially for workers and socialists, both in the threats of a ‘Little Britain’ outside the EU, and in the potential for a wider fight against neo-liberal austerity in a hopefully ‘better Europe’.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>The poverty of Lexit</strong></h2> <p>Lexit, the socialist case for leaving the EU, is like a three-legged stool where one sturdy leg takes all the weight but the other two are bent, buckled or missing. Lame or one-legged, it not surprisingly falls over. </p> <p>If one sturdy leg was enough, the fact that the EU is neo-liberal, drives austerity, is undemocratic and murderously brutal in its treatment of refugees would undoubtedly be sufficient argument for a UK exit. It largely explains why the EU is widely unpopular, and why Brexiteers have been able to make the running, with UKIP and the Tory Right forcing Cameron to hold the referendum. It is why both Brexit and Lexit have an easy appeal, and why the official Remain campaign has an uphill job trying to make the EU popular or persuade people they benefit from membership, although the Left can take advantage of the EU framework as we shall see. </p> <p>One leg is not enough – there’s also the Little Britain threat, and the question of creating a ‘better’ rather than an even worse Europe. Slogans about the EU being a ‘capitalist club’ and dismissing it all as ‘a bosses Europe’ might be good socialist rhetoric, or rather tired clichés, but either way they don’t begin to analyse the real political threats and possibilities. Claims that the next capitalist crisis will have more economic impact might be right but here they’re economistic evasions which lazily avoid most of the actual political issues thrown up by the referendum. The uncomfortable reality is that saying ‘No to a bosses Europe’ could end up saying ‘Yes to a bosses Little Britain’. The stool is unstable, the argument impoverished. </p> <p>We must also consider what the leaving option might lead to and its wider political consequences. Would it help or hinder trying to make a ‘better Europe’ possible? Even from a narrow British perspective, the UK, whether in or out of the EU, will still be part of Europe as some people need reminding. </p> <p>The UK – like the EU – is at present neo-liberal, drives austerity, is undemocratic and has supported the brutal treatment of refugees. Indeed the UK pushed for the EU to become more neo-liberal. And now some Brexiteers want more brutality towards immigrants in general. Brexit would be a major victory for the Right and extreme Right. Following it, the UK on its own would more than likely become even more neo-liberal, more undemocratic, and/or more right-wing, <em>worse </em>than now. </p> <p>Some in the Brexit camp, including its large financial backers and small capitalists trading within the UK, see leaving the EU as escaping regulation and allowing or resulting in even more neo-liberalism, not less. Some Brexiteers are simply racist xenophobes, others immigration obsessives convinced into scapegoating immigrants as the cause of Britain’s problems. Convinced, that is, by a vicious right-wing press, and irresponsible opportunistic politicians – not only Brexiteers but also appeasers in the Remain campaign, including Blairites who belatedly try to show ‘concern’ for a working class they long ago abandoned – a pathetic attempt to regain the millions of votes they lost during their-oh-so-‘successful’ Blair years.&nbsp; And/or the Brexiteers are nostalgic for empire and ‘British greatness’ as an independent world power – stale pie-in-the-sky. </p> <p>How ironic then if a Brexit victory were to lead to the ‘world power’ splintering, Scotland perhaps breaking away if England votes to leave but Scotland votes to stay – the latter looking likely; and possibly Wales and probably Northern Ireland as well, so Little Britain might become an even more right-wing Little England. </p> <p>In Northern Ireland the 1998 ‘Peace Agreement’ was based on cross-border institutions, island-wide social and economic integration, and at least the possibility of achieving ‘a united Ireland by peaceful means’. But whatever the precise border arrangements, that non-violent route to political re-unification would be closed off if the Irish border were to become an external border of the EU. And wouldn’t that encourage the ‘dissident republicans’ to ratchet up their ‘military means’ of getting their ‘united Ireland’, and in response unionist thugs return to killing Catholics? It’s a question which doesn’t seem to have occurred to Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the ardent Brexiteer Teresa Villiers, or maybe she just doesn’t care. </p> <p>The Brexiteers say they will ‘restore democracy from Brussels to Britain’s parliament’, but this touching democratic concern would be more convincing if they weren’t generally oblivious to the fact that the UK’s ‘first past the post’ system to elect parliament is now the most grotesquely <em>anti</em>-democratic in Europe, and for reasons that have nothing to do with the EU. Brexiteers blame ‘Europe’ for sins of omission and commission which they happily made themselves in the UK and would return to with relish if they win the referendum. The electoral basis of the Brexiteer’s spurious ‘sovereignty of parliament’ concern can (unlike proportional representation) result in unassailable majority governments which get less than a third of the votes cast, or support from less than a quarter of those entitled to vote. It is partly why a truncated Little England could be even more right-wing – and this lack of democracy is before we even consider the politics of neo-liberalism or the inherently anti-democratic Eurozone. </p> <p>There seems little doubt that victory for the assorted rag-bag of Brexit reactionaries would make life more difficult for socialists and workers in general, in the UK and beyond.</p> <h2><strong>Lexit, Brexit – what’s the difference?</strong></h2> <p>Lexiteers will be seen by many as tagging along behind Brexit, so in an understandable but rather desperate attempt to distance themselves from the Brexiteers, they emphasise they’re motivated by socialist principles. Fair enough, they are. Some however go further to suggest that these principles, such as opposing neo-liberalism and racism and supporting democracy, <em>dictate</em> leaving the EU. They assume or pretend there’s only one answer. However, any attempt by Lexiteers to monopolise these principles should be rejected, especially if they imply that socialists who disagree with leaving are ‘unprincipled’ (which would be a ‘socialist’ equivalent of the phony arguments which litter the official Brexit and Remain campaigns). The truth is these general and shared principles cannot tell socialists how to vote in the referendum one way or the other. If only it were that easy there’d be no argument, no disagreement on the Left. But the fact is there will be principled socialists voting ‘Leave’ and ‘Stay’, or ‘Abstain’, depending on how they assess present circumstances, the actual issues, and the probable consequences of different actions. And it should be admitted on all sides of the socialist argument that there is a lot of scope for different assessments.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Making a proper assessment is vital and it means looking at all three ’legs’ of the stool: not only at what’s wrong with the EU which is plenty, but secondly, assessing what leaving or staying means in the UK, and thirdly, what it means for a ‘better’ rather than a ‘worse’ Europe? </p> <p>The last question will have to involve the Euro – one of the EU’s most undemocratic elements and a major cause of its growing instability and unpopularity, seen dramatically in the mistreatment of Greece. The UK (unlike say Greece) is in the EU and not in the Eurozone, but this helps avoid the common mistake of treating the EU and Eurozone as synonymous (as if Brexit means the same thing as Grexit). Here the UK situation might provide a lead for other member states. This is important because the Greek experience suggests that staying in the EU but leaving the Eurozone (at least temporarily) is an option which Syriza made the mistake of <em>not</em> taking – by clinging to the Euro, it lost its bargaining power and escape route. </p> <p>This option might well be a good idea the next time a weak member of the Eurozone gets into economic trouble – and there almost certainly will be a next time. The basic problem is the Euro is deeply flawed, a single currency without a single state. Hence there is not the internal solidarity which would enable the large-scale financial transfers from economically strong parts of the Eurozone (e.g., Germany) to weak ones (e.g., Greece), which happen routinely within national states. The Brexit bogey-man of a federal European state does not exist, nor is the federalist dream of a ‘United States of Europe’ going to happen any time soon. The present EU mantra of ‘greater economic and political integration’ means not a democratic super-state but mainly German attempts to impose stronger neo-liberal rules. However, the single currency and remaining in the Eurozone cuts off the usual escape route of currency devaluation for national states with weak economies. Furthermore, in the Eurozone context weak economies don’t simply ‘happen’: they are actively created by the workings of the single currency in the competitive market – beyond democratic control – which means that stronger economies make weaker ones weaker (as Germany’s extreme neo-liberal deflationary policies contribute to the weakness of Greece and other Eurozone members). </p> <p>The Eurozone’s pretense of success was punctured by Greece, though to try and maintain the pretense, and the illusion that Euro rules are always obeyed (a message to more important economies like Spain, Italy and France), the zone’s technocrats persist with forcing policies on Greece which even the IMF knows are counterproductive and bound to fail. In short, the Euro is a doomed project, certainly in its present form, and it could well drag down the EU itself to the benefit of right-wing forces. Much better if the future is shaped by building anti-neo-liberal campaigns across Europe, rather than by Brexiteers and the other nationalistic reactionaries who currently make much of the running against the EU. Either radically changing or getting rid of the Euro entirely is central to the fight for a ‘better Europe’, but how and when is a bigger question for another day. One way or another, UK socialists will need to be involved, though the Euro is not directly an issue in the UK referendum. &nbsp;</p><p>In the referendum, socialists supporting Lexit will have difficulty in clearly differentiating their position from the right-wing Tory/UKIP Brexit before the vote, and perhaps even more-so after it if they are instrumental in handing victory to the right-wing. This could well happen in a close vote and their stool would fall over in a reactionary heap. That they contributed to this result on the basis of ‘socialist principles’ would be small consolation. They won’t be thanked for it; perhaps won’t even thank themselves. They should beware what they wish for. </p> <p>It would be an ‘ultra-leftist infantile disorder’, or some sort of deluded ‘scorched earth’ fantasy, for Lexiteers to imagine that such an important right-wing victory, and defeat for Britain’s trades unions and wider Left, would somehow advance the cause of socialism. Demoralized by defeat and faced with division many people are more likely to run for cover – reactionary cover. There could of course be some benefits for the Left from the divisions and problems created for big capital and ‘the establishment’, both in the UK and in the workings of the EU, but any gains would probably be relatively minor or short-lived, big capital would recover, and the downsides would arguably be greater. And in the UK it’s even conceivable that a narrow victory for Remain would leave the Tories even more bitterly divided.</p> <p>Furthermore, those opposing centralizing and amalgamating tendencies (which include the EU) just because they are driven by big capital, create another one-legged stool which again ignores the Brexit problems of Little Britain, and the opportunities for creating a ‘better Europe’. As an antidote to the reflex of simply opposing what big capital or its representatives want, it is useful to reflect on Marx and Engels supporting German unification in the mid-19th century: it’s not an exact parallel – historical ones never are – but they favoured all the separate German states and statelets being amalgamated in the larger united Germany <em>despite</em> the fact that both the process and the outcome were dominated by the Prussian empire which they abhorred.&nbsp; </p><p>Overall, a victory for Brexit (with some help from Lexit) would further advantage right-wing forces. Here, an abstentionist (and very understandable) ‘plague on both your houses’ is preferable to Lexit in not actively supporting their objectives. But ‘Abstain’ is also a one-legged stool in that it too fails to grasp the opportunities for a ‘better Europe’ and doesn’t actively oppose the potential horrors of a Brexit victory – clearly victory for the Right in the UK (with the possible and partial exception of Scotland, though only the most narrow-minded Scottish nationalist would welcome a more right-wing England). But on the continent where so-called ‘Euroscepticism’ has been largely confined to extreme right-wing nationalist organisations, the main political beneficiaries of Brexit – in an immediately ‘worse’ Europe – would be semi-fascist or outright fascist groups, within Le Pen’s <em>Front National</em>, for example, in Italy’s <em>Lega Nord</em>, and in similar parties in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic states and elsewhere.&nbsp; </p><p>At the same time, it must be admitted that socialists who oppose Brexit and Lexit and advocate staying in the EU have the substantial problem of differentiating themselves from the Remain campaigners of big capital, Cameron’s Tories, Blairite Europhiles and other assorted centre-right forces. These socialists too (myself included) are open to accusations of tagging along behind some unsavory characters (e.g., Cameron, Mandelson and others ‘relaxed’ about extreme wealth) – behind an often unsavory official Remain campaign which generally mirror-images Brexit in the ‘quality’ of its arguments. They – we – also risk ‘guilt by association’. But there are important differences, both in the content and character of the two official campaigns; and in the greater possibilities for anti-Brexit-Lexit socialists to differentiate themselves from official ‘Remain’ by campaigning enthusiastically for a ‘better Europe’ where the EU would remain a central target to be attacked from the inside. </p> <p>However, in attacking the EU it is simply wrong to deny that it supports some benefits, and at the very least more so than Britain’s toxic ‘New Right’ mix of <em>uber</em>-liberalism and reactionary conservatism over the last four decades (e.g., various workers’ rights, environmental protections, and the free movement of labour – a benefit in itself for workers, and how can you support immigrants and not favour their free movement, not to mention freedoms for British emigrants?). This is not to argue that the EU’s now largely-eroded ‘social Europe’ is some sort of workers’ benevolent society; it never was and rights have always to be fought for whatever the political framework. It’s enough to argue that on all these rights the EU has a better record than the UK; that a UK on its own is more likely to demolish these rights; and that fighting to protect and expand them is easier with the UK in the EU than outside it. On jobs and economic growth the official campaigns hurl very dubious statistical predictions at each other, but it does seem likely that Brexit would lead to people losing jobs.</p> <p>Much of the rhetoric of <em>both</em> official campaigns is increasingly absurd, garnished with claptrap about Hitler, Churchill, ISIS, and World War III. But it doesn’t make sense to pretend that the forces involved in the rival official campaigns are equally obnoxious or equally dangerous. The Brexit right-wingers are in general more right-wing. More importantly, while the rather bloodless Remain campaign of big capital is heavily reliant on bogus ‘security’ arguments and questionable economics, and seemingly unable to engage with issues of democracy, the Brexiteers’ right-wing populism with its false promise of democracy and national sovereignty is a much greater political threat to socialist advance. It has much more emotional appeal and is a direct rival to socialist organisation in terms of getting support from disaffected working class people. </p> <p>In the UK and more specifically England, there is the particular problem that right-wing populism can feed off an imperialist nationalism which was honed over several centuries of conflict with continental powers like Spain and France. Its tendency to xenophobia and a superiority complex towards foreigners has long been recognized as a ‘congenital defect’. Only a minority of workers in England suffers from it and many actively resist it, but nevertheless this is a minority which can do a lot of damage. </p> <p>In the 19th century Marx and Engels saw widespread anti-Irish attitudes as the Achilles’ heel of the working class in England, and now the more general category of ‘anti-immigrant’ is the closely-related contemporary equivalent. Not that Britain has any monopoly here: similar attitudes can be found in Ireland’s working class despite its <em>anti</em>-imperialist history, though it’s noteworthy that the unionist section with its own exaggerated version of British nationalism is markedly more chauvinist (e.g., as measured by attacks on immigrant workers and their families). Brexit, as well as directly threatening the roughly 3 million EU immigrants in the UK, and the somewhat smaller number of UK citizens who have emigrated to other parts of the EU, would only boost the Achilles’ heel of xenophobia. Unfortunately, Lexit could be its unwitting and unintentional accomplice: advocating exit feeds into British chauvinism and is another reason for socialists to advocate staying. </p> <h2><strong>‘Coalitions of the dispossessed’</strong></h2> <p>However, to really make sense of the present options and contending forces, we need a broader perspective on contemporary economics and politics which links the EU’s unpopularity, the activities of elites and the rich, the effects of neo-liberal austerity, and the very surprising and widespread eruption of various ‘coalitions of the dispossessed’, of which the anti-EU right-wing populist movement is only one example. The coalitions are in fact generally <em>rival</em> coalitions to the left as well as to the right of established powers; and, although other contingent or particular factors are always involved, they have basically been created (or ‘dispossessed’) by the four decades of global neo-liberalism embraced in varying degrees by establishment powers and parties (including EU elites), and still on the rampage despite giving us the banking crisis of 2007-8.&nbsp; </p> <p>This relates directly to all those mainly working class people who feel, and in fact often were, abandoned by the neo-liberalism of erstwhile social democracy (e.g., Blairism), and whose defection to right-wing populism (e.g., UKIP) produced the EU referendum in the first place. It also helps explain the emergence of Donald Trump’s right-wing coalition in the US, and its rival and perhaps even more surprising alternative ‘socialist’ coalition around Bernie Sanders. It’s behind the varied mix of left-wing anti-austerity coalitions across the EU, including the totally unpredicted rise of Jeremy Corbyn, which actually oppose neo-liberalism as distinct from scapegoating immigrants (though some right-wing coalitions, including nationalistic populisms in Eastern Europe, do both; and it’s worth noting that Trump, ever the opportunist, sometimes indulges in anti-neo-liberal as well as anti-immigrant rhetoric). </p> <p>Equally surprising is the fact that perhaps the best explanation of these twin but very different right and left responses was published in 1944 – in <em>The Great Transformation</em> by Karl Polanyi, an Austrian political economist. Faced with the devastation of two World Wars, the 1930s Depression, growing inequality, the rise of communism (then heavily distorted by Stalinism), and, especially, the rise of anti-semitism and fascism across Europe, Polanyi laid the blame squarely on liberal, market-led capitalism (neo-liberalism in today’s terms). His fellow-Austrian, Friedrich von Hayek, whose <em>The Road to Serfdom </em>published in the same year<em> </em>would become the bible of neo-liberalism, believed the capitalist ‘free market’ was naturally and benignly ‘self-regulating’, and should be protected from political (i.e., democratic) ‘state interference’. The Eurozone is perhaps the most extreme expression of his ideology – well insulated from direct democratic accountability at national level and effectively run by technocrats. But interestingly, to judge from the blatant flouting of democracy in their mis-handling of the Greek crisis, the Eurozone is also perhaps one of the most brittle and vulnerable expressions of Hayek’s ideology, potentially ripe for a concerted EU-wide attack.&nbsp; </p> <p>Polanyi cuts right through Hayekian ideology. In reality the so-called liberal <em>laissez-faire </em>system did not emerge ‘naturally’ but had to be created by states; and its continued maintenance depends on support from states and social institutions. It is dangerous utopian nonsense to believe a ‘free market’ could exist without them. The key political question then is the character of these institutions and the always contestable state-market relationship. The problem with liberalism (now neo-liberalism) is that it artificially separates out the economy from its social setting and elevates the market above society. It thereby erodes or destroys the social institutions in ways which are politically de-stabilizing (Greece in the Eurozone is a case in point); and the problem <em>for</em> neo-liberalism itself is that its own actions eventually result in the destruction of its own social basis (as seen with Trumpism, and US democracy being replaced by plutocracy). </p> <p>Marketization boosted by privatization means more and more of the necessities of life and other goods are commodified – produced and sold to make profit – and money becomes the measure of all things in a system which ‘knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’. There is also a strong in-built tendency to increase inequalities, the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer (as widely experienced since the 1970s, not least in the UK and the US). While the super-rich plutocrats can buy political influence, the result for more and more people is they don’t have the money, or not enough of it, to acquire necessities which are now only available through the market (and require credit, further increasing indebtedness). The capitalist market has to be controlled by various counter-measures, such as the welfare and nationalisation policies which reduced inequalities in the three decades after World War II; if ‘free’ from controls the market actively destroys, removes or erodes the social institutions on which all but the very wealthy depend in their daily lives. In response people seek social protection from marketization in different types of politics, moving away from the establishment’s neo-liberal centre-ground, either stupidly, self-destructively to the right, or more sensibly to the left. </p> <p>Anti-EU populism is a clear case of the former, part of a widespread, contradictory and dangerously irrational tide now being encouraged and surfed by opportunists like Farage and Johnson. In the more extreme circumstances of Polanyi’s day this sort of tide ended up electing Hitler who brought Germans full-employment but also World War II and the Holocaust. Today we get the scapegoating of immigrants, and supposedly ‘respectable’ politicians pandering to the scapegoaters, both of which are not only disgusting but pathetic distractions from actually dealing with the real problems created by neo-liberalism. But understandably, the established and often social democratic centre-ground which supports neo-liberalism is held responsible (if sometimes in a very confused way), and such political forces as Blairite Labour, Clinton Democrats and the Irish Labour party – and the elites of the EU – hemorrhage support and effectiveness. So defeating the right-wing reactionaries, such as UKIP and worse, increasingly depends on the left-wing opponents of neo-liberalism and their diverse ‘coalitions of the dispossessed’ which have included Syriza and now Popular Unity in Greece, Podemos in Spain, Der Linke in Germany, People before Profit in Ireland, Corbynism in Britain and other anti-austerity movements.</p> <h2> </h2><h2><strong>Now is not 1975</strong></h2> <p>This broad configuration of establishment forces leaching support to, and being opposed by, coalitions to left and right characterizes contemporary times. It is the context in which the various EU options have to be assessed: highly volatile, markedly more prone to capitalist crisis, and very different from 1975 when the UK last voted on membership of the then Common Market. The differences are worth stressing. Nostalgia, and the fact that in 1975 many on the Left voted to leave, seem unduly influential with some present-day socialists, as if they haven’t thought much about the issue since then, are drifting along on auto-pilot, and have merely registered that the EU has become more neo-liberal which only confirms the rightness of their 1975 decision. </p> <p>A related worry is some of us remember a much more vibrant debate between socialists then, despite there being better reasons to leave (though that could be nostalgia on our part). It was forty years ago, and there’s been four decades of neo-liberal globalization since. In 1975 the UK had been a member of the Common Market for only three years, and Britain’s ‘Broad Left’ was developing its own ‘Alternative Economic Strategy’ (AES) for nationally-based social reconstruction. Now the UK has been a member for forty-four years; and Corbynism does not begin to compare with the Broad Left and its AES either in terms of trades union-based strength or political-economic objectives. But in 1975 there was also nothing to compare with the present-day ‘coalitions of the dispossessed’ and especially the mass anti-austerity movements across the EU with which to make common cause. EU-wide co-ordination of their combined opposition to the neo-liberal austerity policies at the EU level <em>and</em> to the related policies at their own state level is now a major challenge and opportunity for the Left. Faced with austerity policies which are mutually reinforcing across the two levels, an effective anti-austerity opposition has to be mutually reinforcing in similar fashion but in the opposite direction. </p> <p>This is the clear route by which anti-Brexit-anti-Lexit socialists can relatively easily differentiate themselves from the Remain campaign of big capital (as well as from the nastier nationalistic implications of exiting). Campaigning enthusiastically for a ‘better Europe’ with whole-hearted opposition to Little Britain and to neo-liberalism is the way to go. It certainly cannot be enthusiasm for the neo-liberal EU itself despite it supporting some benefits. Nor can it rely on enthusiasm for the very worthwhile goal of democratising the EU’s central institutions (as propagated by Yanis Varoufakis). This is a secondary rather than primary objective which, while it usefully hits a raw nerve in the EU, is not an adequate focus for building a mass popular movement. Instead what’s needed is the<em> </em>enthusiastic embrace of anti-austerity internationalism which uses or takes advantage of the common EU framework. </p><p>Here it must be acknowledged that anti-austerity (or any other) socialist internationalism in Europe does not depend on EU membership, and of course it must include opposition to EU imperialism rather than stopping at the EU’s territorial borders (always a danger with the EU framework, comparable to being fenced in or trapped by national state borders). But in the present context, sharing the common political framework provided by the EU brings at least two types of advantage which can help convert internationalist rhetoric into material reality.</p> <p>Firstly, there are general and potential advantages of the EU framework, not for what it can do itself, but rather in facilitating what co-ordinated mass movements from below could do within it. This does not assume the EU’s democratization, though that would help. Instead, it is a matter of the EU being a collection of supra-national institutions, programmes, policies, and political alliances which provide both a common framework and a common set of political targets and enemies for co-ordinating and focusing socialist opposition across the member states. And if you think this is internationalist pie-in-the-sky you could reflect that a lot more of it would already have happened if people weren’t so trapped by the territorial and ideological borders of ‘their own’ national states. </p> <p>The importance of escaping the ‘national territorial trap’ is more clearly seen ‘in reverse’. Dividing the working class territorially into national, bordered compartments called states is one of the major ways in which capital divides and controls. We see this clearly at border crossings where workers notoriously can have difficulties but capital crosses easily. We see it in how people become tied ideologically to ‘their own state and nation’ often in opposition to other ones ‘outside’; and we are seeing that all too clearly now with the fabricated ‘immigrant worker problem’. It’s why socialists stress internationalism. </p><p>But actually implementing internationalism can be difficult – largely because of people’s different lived experiences in different national jurisdictions, with different education, health, social security and legal systems for instance, different media, political parties and electoral arrangements, the different timing of public events, and so forth. We see it for example in Ireland, where despite the North and South having a relatively high degree of integration, with many institutions straddling the border, the material existence of two separate jurisdictions can still greatly complicate cross-border co-operation, even reducing it sometimes to empty rhetoric. So the EU as a supra-national framework of states with a central parliament and executive, while far from being a state itself, offers a partial escape from the ‘national territorial trap’. The escape is only partial but in present circumstances it is certainly worth grasping, with the Left taking full advantage of the EU framework for its own objectives. </p><p>The second, related reason for staying within this framework is the potential opportunities it affords for developing organic links with anti-neo-liberal coalitions in other member states – to be stronger fighting common problems together and to learn from each other’s successes and also mistakes (where Syriza is tragically prominent). It is easier for UK socialists to fight from within the EU than from the outside looking in, as for instance in opposing the secretive and ultra neo-liberal Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. The strongest mass opposition to TTIP has in fact been mobilized in Germany and British socialists can only gain by coordinating with it, whereas with a Brexit victory it is all too easy to imagine Little Britain rushing to do its own TTIP deal.&nbsp; </p><p>Most obviously this relates to Corbyn’s wing of the Labour party and its supporters to the left of Labour who rightly stay organizationally independent of it but will nevertheless be effected by how it develops, or fails to develop. If the movement doesn’t go forwards it will most assuredly be forced backwards (not least by embittered Blairites and their embedded camp followers in the ‘left’ media such as the <em>Guardian, Observer </em>and<em> New Statesman</em>).&nbsp; </p> <p>The Corbynistas could immediately go forwards by initiating and publicizing links with the often more-developed movements on the continent. This, and cooperation with other left forces in the UK such as the Greens, ought to be high on their political agenda in the run up to the referendum on 23rd June. It fits well with the formal position which Jeremy Corbyn has held since before being elected Labour leader, but which was often missed or ignored by hostile and superficial political commentators because of his totally understandable lack of enthusiasm for the EU itself (ignored for instance by some <em>Guardian</em> commentators who should have read the news in their own paper). But formal (and sometimes overly personal moral) positioning is not enough from Corbyn. </p> <p>With the Tories so divided and Cameron’s slick salesmanship wearing thin, Corbyn and his supporters (with Momentum ‘troops on the ground’) could substantially influence the anti-Brexit side of the argument. Not repeating the Scottish referendum mistake of sharing platforms with Tories, they could at least partly re-shape the arguments in their own anti-neo-liberal, anti-austerity terms if they grasp the opportunity (which is relatively rare for an opposition party and only arises because the governing Tories are split down the middle). </p> <p>But they do need to show a lot more enthusiasm and strategic leadership which addresses all three legs of the stool. That is enthusiasm not for the EU itself but for taking advantage of the EU framework to build coordinated oppositions to neo-liberalism which are mutually reinforcing at national <em>and</em> EU levels <em>and</em> across the EU, recognizing that here neo-liberalism may be at its most vulnerable. It needs enthusiasm for staying to fight for a ‘better Europe’ and for avoiding the Brexit horrors of Little Britain or Little England.&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/anthony-barnett/labours-moribund-referendum">The long history of Labour&#039;s missing oomph</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 Brexit2016 James Anderson Fri, 27 May 2016 11:10:21 +0000 James Anderson 102495 at https://opendemocracy.net Spain: no country for old-men-politics? https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/mar-jos-g-mez-fuentes-laura-castillo-mateu/spain-no-country-for-old-men-politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While male politicians occupy newspapers headlines, television and radio debates in Spain, at local and regional levels women for change are challenging austerity head on<em>.</em><em> Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/colau.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/colau.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/BarcelonaEnComu. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Spain’s political landscape has undergone remarkable changes in the last few years. The coming together of the groups that gave rise to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/31/podemos-revolution-radical-academics-changed-european-politics">15M anti-austerity movement</a>, and that led to the recently created party of <em>Podemos </em>followed<em> </em>by<em> </em>the progressive loss of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/27/spanish-authorities-arrest-51-anti-corruption-sweep">popularity and credibility</a> of the governing party, crystallized in December into a new parliament, with the traditional hegemonic parties, <em>Partido Popular</em> (PP) and <em>Partido Socialista Obrero Español</em> (PSOE), suffering severe losses.</p> <p>The current state of affairs could have been foreseen after the <a href="http://links.org.au/node/4443">local and regional elections</a> in May, when the two-party system that had ruled Spain for almost 40 years was overturned by the electoral gains made by <em>Podemos</em> and <em>Ciudadanos</em>, a different self-styled centre-right political movement. </p> <p>In Madrid Manuela Carmena, the <em>Ahora Madrid</em> coalition’s candidate backed up by Podemos, won the mayoral race and currently runs the city. In Barcelona the candidate for <em>Barcelona en Comú, </em>Ada Colau, was elected mayoress despite - or perhaps due - to her humble beginnings as an anti-eviction activist. Her victory was described in terms of a <a href="http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/alternative-left-wins-barcelona-elections-by-a-close-margin-and-government-formation-is-uncertain">David against Goliath</a> struggle, after seeking a deal with PSOE and nationalist parties ERC and the CUP. In the Valencian region, the candidate from the left-wing nationalist coalition <em>Compromís</em>, Mónica Oltra, gained the vice-presidency of the regional government, thanks to successful negotiations with PSOE and <em>Podemos</em>.</p> <p>These coalitions were formed on the assumption that the citizenship had to be given an account of the terms in which these agreements were made, which opened the way to rethink relations of accountability between politics and media. Contrary to Mariano Rajoy, who used to be mocked for engaging with journalists only through a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/17/spain-revenge-mariano-rajoy">plasma display</a>, and distancing themselves even from Pablo Iglesias, whose discourse has been perceived as high-brow and focused on macro-structural issues, the explanations coming from Manuela Carmena, Ada Colau and Mónica Oltra’s administrations were not only dealing with everyday problems but were framed in a down-to-earth language. Their political performance has been situated within an effort to alleviate families from their everyday suffering while at the same explaining their policies clearly.&nbsp; </p> <p>As frequently happens when it comes to women and politics, sexism has been present in comments made about their image, their decorum and their professional capacities. Journalists <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S8ohWJMyXc">have questioned</a> Ada Colau’s humble origins and a member of the Spanish Academy felt the need to criticise her policies by suggesting that she would be <a href="http://www.eldiario.es/rastreador/RAE-Felix-Azua-Ada-Colau_6_500859921.html">better off selling fish</a>. Mónica Oltra’s political career in the opposition of the Valencian parliament has been maligned by the press and often centred on her choice of <a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/05/25/album/1432557818_278355.html#1432557818_278355_1432558537">t-shirts</a>. Manuela Carmena’s ethics have been questioned by the conservative press regarding supposedly luxury <a href="http://www.thelocal.es/20150819/politicians-holidays-under-scrutiny-in-spain">vacations</a> and for not firing her spokesperson after she was prosecuted and financially sanctioned for having marched against religious sexism in a university chapel while being a student. </p> <p>However, despite these stereotypical representations, Manuela Carmena, Ada Colau and Mónica Oltra have managed to work in their respective strongholds and focused on the anti-austerity measures influencing their constituencies. Their policies have been mainly articulated through two welfare issues: <em>housing</em> and the <em>politics of care</em>, both personal and environmental. The first measure taken by Manuela Carmena in Madrid was the creation of a local <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/28/madrid-mayor-scraps-eviction-orders-social-housing">anti-eviction</a> office in charge of mediating with the banks. To combat the high level of <a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/11/13/inenglish/1447402110_230650.html">pollution</a> in Madrid, she has implemented a ban on cars parking in the city centre. In Barcelona, the administration of Ada Colau has proposed an alternative tourism model, listening to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/mass-tourism-kill-city-barcelona">complaints</a> from neighbourhood assemblies. However, her most talked about measure has to do with the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/12006236/Barcelonas-Left-wing-mayor-plans-to-introduce-official-brothels.html">regulation</a> of the activity of female prostitutes in the streets. Mónica Oltra has focused in matters of transparency in political institutions and the investigation of the previous administration in the Valencian Country. Following her efforts while in opposition, the current government in Valencia has settled all pending benefits claims with families with dependent members.</p> <p>These extraordinary politicians have even attempted to go beyond their own regional frameworks by coming forward in the <a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/09/04/inenglish/1441357906_077075.html">Refugees Welcome</a> global initiatives. Their three cities have joined the network of communities where residents could register to have refugees stay in their homes. </p> <p>In this context, it comes as no surprise that the press and media have constructed an image of a female triad and labelled them <a href="http://www.elboletin.com/nacional/116873/partido-popular-madrid-valencia.html"><em>Las Mujeres del Cambio</em></a> (Women of Change). The media has focused on the <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20150613-spain-madrid-mayor-hugging-grandma-carmena">maternal connotations</a> that these women and their policies may embody and have been portrayed embracing, hugging or kissing. In a post-modernist twist, they have even been represented as <a href="https://juanuria.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/la-cambia.jpg">superheroines</a>. </p> <p>However, and despite their achievements since coming into power, the efforts of Manuela Carmena, Ada Colau and Mónica Oltra have not been able to encourage or speed up the negotiations to form a national government. The male leaders of PSOE (Pedro Sánchez), <em>Podemos</em> (Pablo Iglesias) and <em>Ciudadanos</em> (Albert Rivera) have not been able to make concessions to form a coalitional government <a href="http://politikon.es/2015/12/29/spain-is-not-denmark-in-yet-another-sense/">á la <em>Borgen</em></a>. The hopeful winds for change that the national poll results appeared to promise are to end up in new <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/26/spain-faces-new-elections-june-parties-fail-to-form-government">elections in June</a>. Even Manuela Carmena, inadvertently projecting the maternal connotations assigned by some of the press, criticised the male candidates of PSOE and <em>Podemos</em> by saying that they were ‘<a href="http://www.elmundo.es/madrid/2016/03/09/56e0a974268e3eeb0f8b4573.html">acting like children</a>’ when what they should be doing is making a national coalitional government possible.</p> <p>Despite the political deadlock experienced in Spain, the appearance of these three female leaders in the Spanish institutional political arena, with their policy-making distanced from economist approaches on austerity, represents an approach that focuses on putting a new way of doing politics at the forefront of the administration. This is based on an ethics of relationality that delves into how to make life worth living and how to sustain it collectively. As if following the work of Judith <a href="https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/CJS/article/view/21561/16269">Butler and Athena Athanasiou</a>, they have introduced ‘ethics as a way of opening to new modes of political sociality’. This, at the same time, could be read in contemporary Spanish history as being the result of a long legacy of feminist and women’s struggles, whose recuperation has not been prioritised by institutional frameworks. </p> <p>These three female politicians project an image of <a href="https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/la-plaza/26225-por-manuela-carmena.html">dialogue</a> and accountability, unlike their counterparts -Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Iglesias and Albert Rivera, who, due in part to their egos and apparent unshakable principles, have been unable to reach common ground. The message coming from the work done by Manuela Carmena, Ada Colau and Mónica Oltra is that politics against austerity are possible. While male politicians occupy newspapers headlines and TV and radio debates, at local and regional levels things are happening and women for change are challenging austerity heads on.</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/austerity-media/petros-iosifidis/greek-media-and-independent-journalism-under-austerity">Greek media and independent journalism under austerity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/jim-aindow/this-is-what-anti-austerity-looks-like">This is what Anti-Austerity looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/michael-wayne-deirdre-o-neill/invisible-victims-of-economic-violence-ought-to-sha">The invisible victims of economic violence ought to shame the media</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/laura-basu/media-amnesia-austerity-and-great-crisis">Media amnesia, austerity and the great crisis</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 Media activism and anti austerity Laura Castillo Mateu María José Gámez Fuentes Thu, 26 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Laura Castillo Mateu and María José Gámez Fuentes 102462 at https://opendemocracy.net Cancelled brain scan could have saved UK immigration detainee https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/phil-miller/cancelled-brain-scan-could-have-saved-uk-immigration-detainee <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Inquest, Day Four: Neurologist testifies that he might have saved 25 year old Bruno Dos Santos.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dorchester-county-hall.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dorchester-county-hall.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dorchester County Court (Phil Miller)</span></span></span></p><p>A missed brain scan could have led to potentially life saving treatment for a young man who died in immigration detention, an inquest jury heard yesterday.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santos, a 25 year old Angolan, died suddenly at the Verne prison in Dorset on 4 June 2014, alone in his cell.</p> <p>Dr Mark Walker, a neuropathologist who examined brain tissue from the dead man, found swelling consistent with a rare disease called neurosarcoidosis.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The likely cause of death was that an inflammatory process in the brain cells resulted in sudden death,” he said. “Inflammation in this region may have resulted in sudden stoppage of heart or breathing.”</p> <p>Dos Santos, who also suffered from epileptic seizures, had been scheduled to attend an MRI scan months before he died.</p> <p>At the time of the appointment, 24 February 2014, Dos Santos was being held as an immigration detainee at HMP Thameside, a private prison run by Serco, with healthcare contracted to Care UK. Staff refused to let him attend the appointment due to “security reasons”, the senior coroner Mr Sheriff Payne said.</p> <p>Dr Cocco, a neurologist, said that a brain scan appointment could have led to life saving treatment.</p> <p>“It was probable that I would have seen abnormalities and definite that I would have made further investigations,” he told the inquest jury at Dorchester county hall.</p> <p>Doctors have to rule out multiple causes of brain swelling before arriving at a diagnosis of neurosarcoidosis.</p> <p>Although this takes time, Dr Cocco said tests could have been completed before Dos Santos died.</p> <p>“I could have obtained all the results within two to three months… Most probably a diagnosis would have been made between 24 April and 24 May,” he said.</p> <p>The neurologist would then have given Dos Santos potentially life saving steroids at least ten days before he died.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nick Brown, a barrister from Doughty Street Chambers who is representing the Dos Santos family, asked the neurologist: “Would he have responded enough to prevent the neurosarcoidosis causing him to go into respiratory or cardiac arrest?”</p> <p>Dr Cocco replied: “Probably in 60 to 70% of cases he would have responded to steroids within days.”&nbsp;</p> <p>A lawyer for the Ministry of Justice, Georgina Woolf, argued that it was unlikely the medical tests would have happened fast enough, telling Dr Cocco:</p> <p>“I wish it was an ideal world but in the real world, on the balance of probabilities, by 4 June it is unlikely that you would have been able to get a clear diagnosis, start treatment and that he would respond.”</p> <p>Dos Santos had swelling in a part of his brain which neuropathologist Dr Walker described as the “most complicated structure in the known universe”.</p> <p>The medulla, or brain stem, sits above the spine and subconsciously controls a persons breathing and heart beat. Dr Walker compared it to a plane’s autopilot.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is not certain whether Dos Santos had already developed this condition at the time of the missed brain scan. Academic literature on the evolution of neurosarcoidosis is scarce.</p> <p>The inquest continues. A verdict is expected today.</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/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-who-died-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-25-year-old-man-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/private-prison-run-by-serco-cancelled-immigration-detainee-s">Private prison run by Serco cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan</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 Care and justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Phil Miller Thu, 26 May 2016 23:00:19 +0000 Phil Miller 102480 at https://opendemocracy.net Reflections: antisemitism, anti-imperialism and liberal communitarianism https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marcel-stoetzler/reflections-antisemitism-anti-imperialism-and-liberal-communitar <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the current European context, associations between left-wing movements and the far-right, anti-cosmopolitan ‘revolt against modernity’ are very much fringe phenomena. Everything should be done to keep it that way.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/County_Hall_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_221547.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/County_Hall_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_221547.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ken Livingstone's Greater London Council HQ. The banner angled to annoy Thatcher reads "London's Unemployed May-83 = 353,371".Wikicommons/OLU. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The politically explosive modern form of antisemitism is the one that is central to the modern, conservative-revolutionary reaction to modernity. Two of the key problems in the analysis of (and struggle against) antisemitism are, to what extent does the modern right-wing critique of capitalist modernity overlap with its left-wing counterpart, and why does the latter sometimes fail to distinguish itself unambiguously from this mortal enemy? In varying contexts, from the Weimar KPD, via Foucault on Iran, to contemporary Labour politicians, some on the left grant too much to their enemy’s enemies, and are perhaps too fuzzy in their thinking to distinguish their own longing for the community of an emancipated future from their enemies’ longing for the racially or spiritually purified, re-born community of whichever reactionary fantasy.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The principal strength and attraction of antisemitism lies in its being beyond ordinary politics: <em>antisemitism is meta-political</em>. Both on the right and the left its value is that it connects to the opposite side. The ambiguous meaning of the word ‘socialism’ in its name was one of National Socialism’s strengths, although Hitler made clear enough that his was a socialism ‘the German way’, namely without the corrosive Jewish-Marxist bits about class struggle. Although its specifics put Nazism in many respects into a category all of its own, it also belongs into the wider category of nationalist socialisms that affirm the capitalist mode of production but are ‘anticapitalistic’ in their rejection of this or that detail of capitalist circulation and reproduction – greedy bankers who behave like locust swarms, that kind of thing – and seek a solution to ‘the social question’ at the level of the nation. There are many of those, and they are not about to go away. They are by nature receptive to antisemitism if and when it seems opportune for whichever contextual – cultural, historical – reasons. </p><p>The anti-imperialism of the metropolitan Left that indulges even the most abhorrent of ‘my enemy’s enemies’ acts out on the canvas of ‘the Orient’ the communitarian imaginary which at home, due to the practical requirements of capitalist statecraft, tends to be muted. ‘Empowerment’ of ‘the communities’, historically a speciality of British administration of subject peoples in the key of divide-and-rule, has returned to the metropole mostly at the local level, in the form of the multiculturalist administration of large cities. Not incidentally, in this area Ken Livingston is much more of an expert than in German history. The strategic embrace at the level of world politics of Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbollah is mirrored at the political micro-level by the communitarian mode of multiculturalist policy that was in Britain pioneered by Livingston’s Greater London Council in the 1980s. </p> <p>The shared ground that makes possible the meta-politics of antisemitism is characterized by the emphasis on community over class struggle, totality over fragmentation. Antisemitism with its boundary-transcending and taboo-breaking mystique is the signature of those who aim to transcend partiality, fragmentation, particularity and division by exorcising the fragmenters. The bad reality of nationalism (that is evidenced by Israeli just as any other nation-state realpolitik) is ideologically distilled into the imaginary pure essence of true heroic patriotism (such as, say, that of ‘the Palestinians’) versus the evil scheming of the anti-nation, ‘the Jews’ as embodied in that people-eating imperialistic entity maliciously implanted into the Arcadian shores of the Mediterranean. Such almost cosmological dualisms are of course utterly unhelpful to either side of the actual conflict.</p> <p>In the current European context, associations between left-wing movements and the far-right, anti-cosmopolitan ‘revolt against modernity’ are very much fringe phenomena. Everything should be done to keep it that way. The currently most prominent context for antisemitism to materialize on the liberal and socialist left is that of supporting, or at least not opposing, the ultra-conservative (in terms of economic policy usually neo-liberal) Islamist resistance to ‘westoxification’ in diverse parts of the world at the cost of abandoning the trade unionists, feminists, Marxists, Jews and gays whom this ‘resistance’ is out to kill. Islamism, like other forms of modern ‘fundamentalism’, developed in tandem with and took inspiration from the European, anti-Enlightenment, post-WW1 Conservative Revolution (most prominently via its influential theorist, Sayyid Qutb). Far from being radical, its metropolitan supporters are traitors who have abandoned the Enlightenment’s still largely undelivered promise of human emancipation. </p> <p>Many on ‘the left’ seem to take at face value the famous formula of imperialism as the ‘highest stage’ of capitalism, an un-Marxist concept devised for practical, not theoretical, reasons by Lenin. Lenin adopted it from discussions within British New Liberalism, in particular that formulated in the context of the Boer war by the liberal antisemite Hobson. Of course any committed anti-capitalist would want to fight capitalism where it is at its ‘highest stage’, and if one believes this to be ‘imperialism’, then anti-imperialism has to carry more weight than good old-fashioned trade-unionism, women’s emancipation and other forms of struggle that relate to capitalism’s not so high stages. The stupidity of such a perspective is helped through the misleading rhetoric of ‘stages’ which suggests that the fundamental characteristics of capitalism (say, the appropriation of the surplus product, i.e. the product of wage labour beyond the value of the wage, which means, in a modern society, most of it) have somehow become last year’s snow. The term ‘imperialism’ bundles together a range of phenomena, and likewise ‘anti-imperialism’ is a rather shape-shifting creature, depending obviously on what it believes ‘imperialism’ to be. </p> <p>Some, following Marx’s position, have accused European imperialists of preventing the global spread of the capitalist mode of production from destroying conservative social and cultural structures that stand in the way of human emancipation, notably clerical and other non-rational forms of the cultural legitimation of domination. This was a critique of the fact that metropolitan capitalism is quite happy to keep in place and utilize ‘traditional’ social forms of oppression and domination in the periphery. Still in the 1970s, this was the predominant liberal and Marxist position: cynical and greedy Europeans prevent capitalism from furthering capitalist development elsewhere, and therewith also the globalisation of the conditions of overcoming capitalism itself. </p><p>Others, by contrast, accused imperialism of actually doing what Marx had <em>hoped</em> it would do: globalizing a secular, more humane and liberating modernity that would sponsor the overcoming of the cultural and political muck of ages as well as of modernity’s own principal engine, capitalism. This seems now the predominant position of ‘the left’, though: imperialism, which is really just capitalism under a different name, is rejected because it destroys cultural identities and imposes universally identical imperial monoculture. This is the conservative critique of capitalist modernity that Marx spent a lifetime fighting against. Hegel would have relished the irony that anti-imperialism has become a brand name for cultural reactionaries in various parts of the world who learned from European revolutionary conservatives how to use reactionary aspects of western modernity against its own – still largely undelivered – promise of emancipation. He would have been more than a little surprised to see, though, that so many of his own liberal and socialist descendants support such people. Those who think that ‘imperialism’ is a valid category of analysis still must make any support dependent on what the social content of any particular anti-imperialist struggle is: in the name of which societal goals is the struggle being conducted?</p> <p>Differing from their ancestors in the nineteenth-century salad days of wild, brutal and honest liberalism, the political parties of developed bourgeois democracy share with their totalitarian opponents the compulsion to deny their partiality: they profess to disdain representing interests, standpoints, bias, and in general the icy waters of egoism that flow in the baptismal fonts of modernity. Although even progressive capitalists agree that ‘the economy’ needs nothing more than an army of thoroughly greedy and egoistic trade-unionists who drive up wages and spending levels, particularity and partisanship are the devil to the sublime idealism of modern mass membership political parties. They work for the integration of society by whipping <em>amour propre</em> out of its constituents. </p><p>Those by tradition seen as stubborn representatives of difference, even if they in fact want nothing more than being equal, are unlikely to be looked upon with grace by the nationalist spokespeople of the harmonious commonweal. The more liberal of these modern nationalists will happily endorse the Jews’ own nationalism, as long as they put up their tents elsewhere, while others will find Jewish nationalism exceptionally, unacceptably, shockingly egoistic: it is just that little bit <em>too</em> particularistic. The national homeland of the eternal non-nationals cannot but disturb the eternal peace that liberals assume will result from granting all <em>genuine</em> nations their right to self-determination. Whether they happen in other respects to be ‘right-wing’ or ‘left-wing’ is accidental. </p> <p>Due to its spread in the hand luggage of western civilization, antisemitism has turned from a local problem of Europeans to a global issue, more pervasive than ever. It is perfectly in tune with the general dynamics of globalization that some Muslim immigrant groups in Europe would hire religious instructors from their (spiritual or actual) countries of origin who reimport to them, in translation, also some of the less attractive ideas that Europeans had developed in the nineteenth century to address the darker sides of rapid modernization. </p> <p>One of these time-honoured European ideas is political antisemitism. If and when European Muslims adopt it, then it should be seen as a sign of their successful integration into a world system dominated by Europeans and explained by western ideas: as liberal and socialist anti-imperialists know well, imperialism has a habit of shaping also the resistance to itself. Without doubt, though, current immigrants to Europe are as well able as anybody else to figure out which of the many contradictory things that the dialectic of enlightenment has produced – from brain surgery to the atom bomb, from multicultural society to the Holocaust – are emancipatory and useful, and which are not – unless they are deprived of the breathing space to do so. If liberal society can defeat its own illiberalism, then enlightenment can still ‘master itself and assume its own power’ (Horkheimer and Adorno) and figure out how to get to ‘the better state of things … where one can be different without fear’ (Adorno).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Literature consulted:</strong></p> <p>Adorno, Theodor W. 1978, <em>Minima Moralia, Reflections from damaged life</em>, London: Verso </p> <p>Al-Azmeh, Aziz, 1991, ‘Islamist Revivalism and Western Ideologies’, in: <em>History Workshop Journal</em> 31:2, 44-53</p> <p>Bassi, Camila, 2010, ‘“The Anti-Imperialism of Fools“: A Cautionary Story on the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard of England’s Post-9/11 Anti-War Movement’, <em>ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies</em>, 9(2): 113–137.</p> <p>Bhatt, Chetan, 2014, ‘The Virtues of Violence: The Salafi-Jihadi Political Universe’, <em>Theory, Culture &amp; Society</em> 31:1, 25-48</p> <p>Boyd, Jonathan and L. Daniel Staetsky, 2015. ‘<a href="http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2015.Policy_Debate_-_Contemporary_Antisemitism.pdf">Could it happen here? What existing data tell us about contemporary antisemitism in the UK</a>’. Institute for Jewish Policy Research.</p> <p>Bright, Martin. 2006. <a href="http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/when-progressives-treat-with-reactionaries-the-british-state-s-flirtation-with-radical-islamism"><em>When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries. The British State’s flirtation with radical Islamism</em></a>. Policy Exchange </p> <p>Cooper, Melinda, 2008, ‘Orientalism in the Mirror. The Sexual Politics of Anti-Modernism’, in: <em>Theory, Culture &amp; Society</em> 25:6, 25-49</p> <p>Euben, Roxanne L. 1997. ‘Premodern, Antimodern or Postmodern? Islamic and Western Critiques of Modernity’. <em>The Review of Politics 59:3</em>, 429-459.</p> <p>Halliday, Fred. 2007. ‘The Jihadism of Fools’. <em>Dissent 54:1</em>, 53-56</p> <p>Horkheimer, Max; Theodor W. Adorno, 2002, <em>Dialectic of Enlightenment, Philosophical Fragments, edited by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, translated by Edmund Jephcott</em>, Stanford: Stanford University Press</p> <p>Mathew, Biju. 2012. ‘<a href="http://www.samarmagazine.org/archive/articles/379">Wrestling the Dinosaur: Reflections on the Post 9/11 Decade</a>’. </p> <p>Mufti, Aamir R., 2007, ‘Fanatics in Europa’. <em>Boundary 2, 34:1</em>, 17-23</p> <p>Postone, Moishe, 2006. ‘History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism’, in: <em>Public Culture 18:1</em>, 93-110</p> <p>Sahgal, Gita and Nira Yuval-Davis, 1990, ‘<a href="http://banmarchive.org.uk/collections/mt/index_frame.htm">Refusing Holy Orders</a>’, in <em>Marxism Today</em> March 1990 </p> <p>Wolfe, Ross. ‘<a href="https://thecharnelhouse.org/2016/04/30/reflections-on-left-antisemitism/">Reflections on Left antisemitism</a>’. April 30, 2016.&nbsp;<a href="https://thecharnelhouse.org/2016/04/30/reflections-on-left-antisemitism/"></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/james-mcash/left-wing-anti-semitism-what-is-it-and-what-is-to-be-done">Left wing anti-Semitism: what is it, and what is to be done?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/avi-shlaim-gwyn-daniel/labour-party-israel-and-antisemitism">The Labour Party, Israel, and antisemitism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arun-kundnani/way-out-of-labour-party-anti-semitism-crisis-requires-politics-of-solidarity">The way out of the Labour Party’s ‘anti-Semitism crisis’ requires a politics of solidarity</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 class="field-item odd"> Israel </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> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk Israel EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics nationalism Marcel Stoetzler Thu, 26 May 2016 22:02:14 +0000 Marcel Stoetzler 102481 at https://opendemocracy.net Private prison run by Serco cancelled immigration detainee’s brain scan https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/private-prison-run-by-serco-cancelled-immigration-detainee-s <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jury hears that HMP Thameside staff didn’t know the rules concerning hospital appointments. Bruno Dos Santos Inquest, Day Three.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*SERCO THAMESIDE 26 MAY2016.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*SERCO THAMESIDE 26 MAY2016.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="212" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Corporate image (Serco)</span></span></span></p><p>Healthcare staff at Thameside Prison in London were unaware that a young man in their care was detained for immigration purposes, which led to him missing a hospital appointment that might have saved his life, an inquest jury heard yesterday. </p> <p>Bruno Dos Santos, 25, was detained at HMP Thameside for several months from September 2013 until May 2014, a court sitting in Dorchester was told yesterday. In May he was transferred to the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Dorset, where he died on 4 June.&nbsp; </p> <p>Dos Santos had a complex medical history and was taking medication for epilepsy, depression and shoulder pain. He suffered from severe epileptic fits and had dislocated both shoulders as a result of frequent seizures. In February 2014, while detained at Thameside, Dos Santos was assessed by Dr Giovanni Cocco, a consultant neurologist. </p> <p>Following the appointment Dr Cocco wrote to a GP working at the prison, whose healthcare provider at the time was private contractor Care UK, explaining that the young man’s fits were a result of trauma after being knocked down by car aged 10. After the car accident Dos Santos was in a coma for two or three days. He then spent several months in hospital re-learning how to walk, talk and carry out basic tasks. Dr Cocco recommended Dos Santos undergo an MRI, EEG and an ECG, and that his anti-epileptic medication be increased gradually. An MRI appointment was booked for 23 February. </p> <p>The court heard that Rida Kamsilla, a nurse working at Thameside, spoke to Dos Santos the day before his appointment on 23 February. When he told her about it, she told the wing officer that Dos Santos “is not going anywhere tomorrow”. She then passed the same message on to the senior nurse on duty asking for the appointment to be cancelled. Nurse Kamsilla told the court that she was following prison policy at the time, which was that patients should not be given dates regarding external appointments. This was for security reasons, she said. </p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister representing the family, suggested that Nurse Kamsilla had been “over officious” in making this decision. “It was not your decision to make,” he said. Instead, he said, she should have passed it on to another member of staff to carry out a proper risk assessment. She replied that she was simply following the policy. Brown asked if the policy was written anywhere and nurse Kamsilla replied that it was not. Brown then questioned the nurse about Dos Santos’s immigration status.</p> <p>Brown: “Were you aware that he was an immigration detainee?”</p> <p>Kamsilla: “No, I was not aware.”</p> <p>Brown: “Were you aware of the policy on immigration detainees at that time?”</p> <p>Kamsilla: “No.”</p> <p>Brown then read from the Detention Services Order 2012 which states that: “Every effort must be made to keep and fulfil medical appointments of detainees, both those arranged prior to and during detention.” </p> <p>The rules also state that external appointments must be considered on a case by case basis, he said. This assessment would consider factors such as the seriousness of the condition of the detainee. </p> <p>“Bruno would have undergone an MRI if a proper risk assessment had been made?” Brown asked Nurse Kamsilla. “Yes,” she answered. </p> <p>Earlier, the jury heard that Dr Esther Okumo, a locum doctor working at Thameside, had also been unaware that Dos Santos was an immigration detainee and not a prisoner at the time. Dr Okumo said she was unaware that there are policies governing the treatment of immigration detainees. </p> <p>Once Dos Santos’s appointment was cancelled there was no follow up to reschedule, the jury heard. Several months after the missed appointment, Dr Cocco wrote to Dr Okumo to ask why he had missed the appointment, and whether another should be booked. Dr Okumo said she was shocked to discover this and immediately rebooked it. Several times during her evidence Dr Okumo mentioned the number of prisoners held at Thameside at the time (approximately 900), and said that errors were sometimes made and missed appointments were a common occurrences. </p> <p>However, when Brown asked if the prison was “under staffed” and unable to offer “proper continuity of care” for prisoners as a result, she said: “I am not going to admit that. It’s not my place … I’m just telling you what goes on.”</p> <p>The court also heard from staff at Belmarsh prison, where Dos Santos was held as prisoner between January and May 2013. He was charged and convicted of robbery and served a sentence of one year and four months. He became an immigration detainee in September 2013 when he moved to Thameside. It was revealed that a GP at Belmarsh, Dr Ekpo said he had referred Dos Santos for an MRI scan in January 2013, several months before his move to Thameside. However, there was no record of the referral on the prison’s internal record system and no appointment was made.</p> <p>On 6 May 2014, the court heard that Dos Santos told staff at Thameside that he had suffered another fit during the night. A staff nurse made a note on the prison’s electronic system for managing medical records for prisoners and included a comment from Dos Santos. Brown read it aloud to the court: “The last comment that we have from Bruno is ‘stated that his medication does not work’. He was transferred to the Verne the next day.”</p> <p>The inquest continues. &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/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-who-died-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-25-year-old-man-at-remote-uk-i">Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup</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 Care and justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Thu, 26 May 2016 21:15:53 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102479 at https://opendemocracy.net The long history of Labour's missing oomph https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/labours-moribund-referendum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What on earth has happened to the left in the referendum debate?<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span>Chapter nine of<span style="font-style: italic;"> Blimey, it could be Brexit!</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Dx4sYz44H60?list=PL27HDLFDYbmJevaNwiISlBw_qUgeCYHqY" frameborder="0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>At the start of the final month of the referendum campaign, the London newspapers are complaining about how negative, personalised and miserable the arguments have become. You would never have thought that the media bore any responsibility for the dreadful coverage, as well as the shocking failure of parliament to debate the government’s EU deal, which the referendum is based on; just as I predicted, the prime minister is not going to debate it at all. At least not in a confrontation alongside anyone who knows what they are talking about, as the Daily Mail points out in a <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3607843/DAILY-MAIL-COMMENT-PM-frit.html">splendid rebuke</a>.</p> <p>I’m not ‘blaming’ the media. Rather there is a single political-media caste in the UK with a shared responsibility for the political culture and its manipulation. I found it grimly amusing to be agreeing with someone I regard as a consummate member of the caste, one time editor of the Spectator and the Telegraph, Charles Moore, in his <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/20/with-its-future-assured-the-bbc-is-now-happy-to-toe-david-camero/">elegant complaint</a> about the “deeper sense in which things are fixed”. He set out a convincing description of how the BBC collaborates with the government in shaping the agenda, playing down the important:</p> <blockquote><p>“Then there is the little matter of how we are governed and by whom, under what law and which judges. This is sometimes well done in feature programmes – Jeremy Paxman had quite a good go <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07c6n58/paxman-in-brussels-who-really-rules-us">on Thursday night</a>, for example. But it is scarcely considered news at all, though polls show it is one of the three biggest issues with voters.</p></blockquote> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Her Majesty’s official opposition also has a role in this. Had it wanted to insist on a Commons debate, it could have had one. Had it put forward with clarity and conviction the Labour party’s own consideration of democracy and the European Union, this would have been heard. When Nicola Sturgeon speaks up she gets prominent coverage in the London press as well as Scotland’s. Labour’s leader doesn’t because he has nothing distinctive to say. An astonishing example is Jeremy Corbyn’s Ralph Miliband lecture at the LSE last week, on 17th May, on </span><a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/pdf/2016-ST/20160517-CorbynTranscript.pdf" style="line-height: 1.5;">Rebuilding the Politics of Hope</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">. He talks about the need to rebuild trust, quotes Harold Wilson saying the Labour party is “a moral crusade or it is nothing” and… does not mention the referendum over the future of Britain, even in passing. Is hope so evanescent it needs no country or continent?</span></p> <p class="mag-quote-left">&nbsp;Is hope so evanescent it needs no country or continent?</p> <p>With Tory voters apparently divided evenly, the way voters who are Labour sympathisers turn out could be decisive for the future of Europe. Disengagement could be fatal for the cause of Remain that Labour ostensibly supports. Worse, in a way, at least for the wider Labour and left movement, is the more likely outcome of a Remain vote owned by the right. If such a defining issue is handed over to the Conservatives by abstention it is likely to have dire consequences for the left thereafter, summed up by a single word: irrelevance.</p> <p>Some of us intend to fight this, organised around <a href="https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=another%20europe%20is%20possible">Another Europe is Possible</a>. This holds its London launch meeting this Saturday and brings together the Greens with Caroline Lucas, the pro-Corbyn Momentum movement, and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and the DiEM movement headed by Yanis Varoufakis. Campaigning for a Remain vote is one thing – understanding the deeper impasse of the left is another; that is the central aim of this experiment of writing a book week-by-week online. </p> <p><span class="mag-quote-right" style="line-height: 1.5;">A left that is irritated and uncomfortable with debating its democracy, constitution, sovereignty and the principles governing our relationship to the EU, has walked away from its own country&nbsp;</span></p> <p>My intention from the start of <i>Blimey, it could be Brexit!</i> has been to resist the de-facto monopolising of the European question by the right. As soon as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson declared for <i>Leave, </i>Brexit became a viable option. No longer was the split between UKIP plus mavericks on the one hand against the government and a unified political caste. This meant it <i>could</i> be Brexit. It also meant that if it isn’t, as everyone expects, the outcome will belong to a narrower section of the Conservative party. But meanwhile, conservatism as a whole thanks to its energy and will to contest the outcome, will have occupied the terrain that defines Britain’s place and role in the world, marginalising UKIP.</p> <p>Meanwhile the left won’t even be barking at the caravan, it will just be scavenging for bones. For it was already clear that, despite many months of warning that a referendum was coming, no preparation of a left agenda or even vision rooted in an analysis of the forces at work had been started within the Labour party or outside. Such a failure can’t be reversed by adopting ‘a position’ – it demands repairing the left’s political culture. A left that is irritated and uncomfortable with debating its democracy, constitution, sovereignty and the principles governing our relationship to the EU, has walked away from its own country. Now it has to walk back. And, of course, it will be a different country from the one it has been used to. I’m not saying that fighting austerity is not a priority. I’m saying the way the left now uses urgent social and economic questions to freeze out wider issues such as the nature of the state is not prioritisation – it is repression: a pathological weakness, not a grasp of strategic importance.</p> <p>"What the fuck is wrong with the left?" That is what I am asking in a sentence. I regret the vulgarity but we live in coarsened times. Why can’t the English left wake up to the significance of ‘Europe’, to the issues of how we are governed, and to their urgency now they are being taken into everyone’s homes by the referendum? I’ve been asked why I am writing a whole book about ‘the Tory referendum’, as if it is a piece of soiled washing the fastidious would deal with only as a matter of hygiene. My reply is that the above question is at the centre of my enquiry. To quote from the introduction published way back on 22 March, I posed a question:</p> <blockquote><p>“… especially pertinent but not confined to those of us on the left as we observe the Conservative government battle it out and puzzle and fear the consequences. There is a story about a warm summer night when Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson decided to sleep rough on the Moors rather than head for the local inn still some miles away. In the middle of the night Holmes shook Dr Watson by the shoulder and woke him. “Look up there, Watson”, he said, pointing to the stars, “what do you make of the significance of <i>that</i>?” “I’m not sure”, said the sleepy Watson, “it shows the night sky of the northern hemisphere”.&nbsp;“No, no, my dear Watson, what <i>else</i>?” “Well, Holmes, it is a dark, clear moonless summer night and Orion is in the ascendant.” “No, no, something more important than that, Watson.” “Oh I don’t know, Holmes”, Dr. Watson replied now wide awake, “what <i>does</i> it show?” Nothing stirred across the bleak, windless moors. After a short silence Sherlock Holmes replied, “It means, my dear Watson, that someone has stolen our tent”.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">What does it mean that we can see the strange movement of the planets of the UK’s Conservative party so clearly? It means that something has stolen away the British left. The Conservatives have no need to hide their differences as they sense no serious threat to their heavenly supremacy. Just as the absence of a thrusting, profitable European Union has made </span><i>Leave </i><span style="line-height: 1.5;">a credible option, so the absence of a viable, threatening, popular Labour Party, confident of winning the next election, means the Tories feel no need to stick together to preserve their current advantage. More significant, the Labour Party has almost nothing to say of any vitality or interest about the future of Europe and why the UK should, or should not, be involved. I’m not blaming Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn as if it’s his fault. None of the many who are ambitious for his job have uttered any credible arguments worthy of the stakes in play.</span></p></blockquote> <p>To understand how profoundly shaping an absence this is, try three quick thought experiments. The Labour party could be insisting on what was once its almost unanimous view: that the EU is a corporate, foreign threat to the great traditions of British government and we should not be in it. In which case any Tories calling for <i>Leave</i> would be playing Labour’s game, because Labour’s narrative of the country’s role outside the EU would be stronger and more coherent than theirs. Given the partisan culture of Westminster politics this would rally most Conservative opinion and its media to <i>Remain</i>. Or imagine a strong and coherent Labour party embracing the Blairite view, which only recently was its near unanimous opinion: that Britain must lead in Europe. Cameron’s deal, it would argue, is a disgrace, an abnegation of the need for us to influence the future of the continent, and as soon as Labour returns to power it will tear up its ‘opt outs’ and take the UK back to the centre of the EU as New Labour did when it pledged before the 1997 election to sign the Social Chapter of Maastricht that John Major’s government refused. </p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The consequence of such a pro-European stand would force many of those who support Cameron to switch to </span><i>Leave</i><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, because the strong and defining </span><i>Remain</i><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> narrative would have been defined by New Labour as fully participating in the European Union. Or, finally, imagine a young Labour leadership organising platforms with like-minded Greens and left parties from across the whole continent alongside the SNP, calling for a transformed, democratic EU – a left </span><i>Remain </i><span style="line-height: 1.5;">strategy with just as strong a narrative as the Blairite one but pitching a democratic rather than a corporate story. This too would have swung Tories into the </span><i>Leave</i><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> camp in the face of a genuine threat of popular transformation.</span></p> <p>The fact that there wasn’t a remote possibility of any of these scenarios brings you face to face with the collapse of Labour and the left as an influential or even challenging force in British politics. It remains extremely relevant: negatively. Yes, the Brexit debate is an ugly spat within the forces of conservatism and the right, and to that extent demeaning for the country as a whole. But the country has been delivered into their exclusive hands by the failure of anyone to capture the public imagination with an alternative, democratic vision of Britain in Europe.</p> <p>Why is this, what has stolen away the tent? Such a failure must have causes. In the first part of <i>Blimey</i> I looked at why the UK is having an uncharacteristic referendum in the first place. This meant starting with how the Conservatives have been broken apart over Europe, from the UK’s original accession in the early 1970s and through the Thatcher period. I then examined Cameron’s strategy and his duplicitous deal. The peculiarity of the Tory Brexiteer opposition to it followed. It’s important to pause on this for a moment as the left’s scorn of ‘Boris’ is dangerously facile.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>While the Conservatives seem supreme thanks to their small but absolute parliamentary majority, they are the party most threatened by the upstarts of the anti-establishment insurgency, in the shape of UKIP. The Brexit Tories led by Johnson and Gove are seeking to appropriate the force of populism from unwashed Kippers while further marginalising the left. Uniquely, as members of the 1 per cent, they have ventured out to meet the anti-elite on its own terms and seek to lead it, thus renewing themselves. They will probably lose the referendum to shaken corporate colleagues, having given them the fright of their lives. This does not mean they won’t have a future. Their furious struggle over staying in the EU or not demonstrates that there is life – self-belief and self-confidence – in the Tory network, along with access to funding. The referendum could leave them battered but alive, like prize-fighters, while leaving Labour seeming grumpy and irrelevant, outside the ring.</p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">How come Labour finds itself so marginalised? There are four major reasons. First, the social democrat tradition, which seeks to reform and better capitalism for the benefit of all who work, has collapsed as a political movement across Europe since the financial crash of 2008. Its decline was already underway with the shrinking of the organised working class. Its revival through its embrace of ‘third way’ policies supporting globalization implicated it in neoliberalism. It became a victim of the financial forces it had embraced. Here in the UK, Gordon Brown celebrated his deregulation of the financial sector and announced that his policies as Chancellor had ended “Tory boom and bust”. When the bust came, despite a valiant rear-guard action, his and Blair’s New Labour went down with it. Parts of it are still going down.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Second, membership of the European Union poses profound issues of sovereignty, government and democracy; of who is accountable to whom, what role voters play, and what kind of state the UK will have in future. For the United Kingdom this is especially challenging, as it is an uncodified, multi-national union within the larger European multi-national union that is codifying itself. This is bound to be a dissolving threat to Britain’s once strong but informal constitution, as the Tories have discovered. For the UK’s lack of an articulated constitutional framework means it can’t easily defend its particularity from the constitutional logic of Europe. The UK’s supposed strength is its highly centralised government institutionalised in Westminster, whose powers are reinforced by first-past-the-post, the House of Lords, the Treasury and the domination of the Whitehall over the regions. One of the most interesting and pursuasive arguments of the <i>Leave </i>is that the EU is "obsolete" as an economic project, centralised and corporate in an era that now favours the flexible, advocated particularly clearly by <a href="http://headofzeus.com/books/why-vote-leave">Daniel Hannan</a>. But as Simon Deakin argues in a <a href="http://bit.ly/Brexitbook">Social Europe collection</a>, it is the British constitution that is obsolete not the EU's.&nbsp;</p> <p>Any critique of the absence of democracy in the EU can’t avoid the pre-democratic character of Westminster. Otherwise it will be hypocritical and contradictory. This didn't matter for New Labour, which embraced the authoritarianism of the British state as well as that of the EU, as two sides of the same coin when Blair strutted in his prime. But opposing the undemocratic nature of the EU has to be matched by a call for democratic reform of Britain or it will be worthless. Yet Labour is stuffed with MPs, peers and ex-prime ministers besotted with the lure of a Labour majority government retaking the reins of Westminster’s centralisation. Labour’s new and inexperienced leadership has not yet been able to develop its ideas on the UK’s constitution – little wonder it has not done so on Europe’s.</p> <p>Third, the party’s paralysis on democratic and constitutional questions is multiplied by the national question, where the different energy of the EU hits the UK particularly hard. Until only last year Labour was a party of the union; since then it has been reduced to one Scottish MP. Earlier this month it was reduced to being the third party north of the border. </p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Like UKIP, Labour is now a party of England and Wales. But while UKIP, whose electoral pressure forced the Tories to grant a referendum and whose electoral gains stopped Labour from being the largest party in 2015, is comfortable with its English nature, Labour is not. UKIP is the thwarted voice of a captive country, but Labour still sees itself as a British beast. Advocate leaving the neoliberal monster of the EU (as many Labour activists do) and you are expressing an English politics, even though most of them abhor any form of nationalism. Advocate <i>Remain</i> with energy and passion and you begin to sound like a distinctly ‘un-British’ European. This is before considering how Labour supporters in Wales and Scotland and social democrats in Northern Ireland feel. Labour especially has to sort out what it thinks about the UK’s national question before it can advocate any consistent European role. The European question and the national question walk out together. Apart from Scotland, however, the national issue is a neuralgic one for most of the left. Little wonder that most Labour members stick with a passive distaste of Tory antics.</span></p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Fourth, there is the connection of all these issues to the anger against the political establishment and the blatant inequality of austerity in our maddening times. The forces at work are disintegrating and dislodging traditional governing parties and boosting those like UKIP and the SNP and the Greens, as we have seen. The Labour party accidently opened itself up to the transformative energy of this impatience with a new system for electing its leader, leaving most of its MPs and peers along with the Tory press horrified by the Corbyn surge. Can the new leadership assist the creation of a new form of politics in a democratic Labour party? The referendum on Brexit offers a chance to initiate this but it came too soon, to be taken by men and women who had hardly learnt how to work with each other and are still reeling under the impact of the party’s electoral crisis. So I’m not ‘blaming’ the Labour party for failing to be a shaping force at this moment when British politics has opened up in new ways. I’m trying to understand its marginalisation at a moment of opportunity.</span></p> <p>Some Labour activists suggest that Labour’s passivity hides a vixen-like cunning on the part of different sections of the leadership. Among them are those who would like the UK to leave but want the Tories to take responsibility, hence preserving Labour unity by supporting Remain as weakly as possible. Others reckon the best thing is to step back and allow the Conservatives to chew each other to pieces over Europe, so that Labour can inherit at the next election whatever the outcome, as if there is a legitimate system waiting for them to 'take over the reins'. But when you talk with Labour party members there is little sign of the glint of winners taking tactical advantage of their enemy’s affliction. Rather there is a weary lack of interest in the referendum, even revulsion. The wider issues it poses are ones they do not want to have to think about, suggesting a pathological desire to repress reality. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/jeremy-gilbert/facing-facts-progressive-strategy-for-2020">Jeremy Gilbert</a> has pointed out in a careful, patient analysis that “if there is to be any hope of a progressive government in 2020, Labour and its supporters must go much further in accepting that the only sane course is to do something very different from what we have done before.” Being sane, and even more so staying sane, is very hard work. Much easier to hope that one more heave, this time with a million members, will do the trick and absolve them from the need for a rethink.</p> <p>Three weeks ago I explored the all-round madness of the moment, of which the referendum is a symptom. Next week I’m going to look at nationalism and especially the Anglo-British left’s functionally reactionary and self-denying hang-up with nationalism, which impedes it from escaping the imperial imagination. It is one of Labour’s biggest problems. Then I’ll look at democracy and the prospects for pluralism in the context of the UK’s broken constitution and eviscerated constitutional culture. The double, disabling inability of the English left to develop national and democratic policies feeds its resentful silence, unease and even bad-faith in the Brexit referendum campaign. All this will have to be overcome if there is to be any recovery that lasts. </p> <p>&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">In addition, there is the crisis of a social democratic tradition within which Labour’s fate has to be situated.</span></p> <h2><b>The collapse of European solidarity</b></h2> <p>A warm summer evening in Syntagma Square, just last year. Crowds of happy young people are pouring out of the subway station where only recently protestors had been gassed and clubbed. Greece has voted OXI. The polls said it would be narrow. Instead, with referendum papers still being counted by the extraordinarily efficient telling system, the result is clear:&nbsp; cities and villages, isthmuses and islands, everywhere across the country by a majority of three to two Greeks have said NO to the Troika and its punitive, self-defeating demands. It’s friendly and exhilarating. A bit like a crowd celebrating a football victory, yet it is also the beginning of a confrontation. The singing just close by, my friends tell me, is a wartime anti-German partisan chorus. I realise that for the first time in my life I’m part of a crowd celebrating the equivalent of going to war. It’s not belligerent or regimented or angry, and the mood isn’t at all arrogant. It is happily defiant; proud that they have stood up. I think everyone is prepared for the likelihood of paying a price, perhaps a heavy one, even being defeated, but they are relieved to have a clear majority in their sails: OXI! No, to being crushed by a European Union! It is better to fight whatever the odds than choose to be a slave. I was happy to be there.</p> <p>Suddenly a feeling passed through me, like a shudder. <i>We here are alone. </i>A modest square, in a small country, on a lovely peninsula, fighting for a little justice for regular folk. The country is broke – everyone knows this. Recovery must be hard, but Greeks are hard-working. They knew they bore some responsibility. Even if Germans and French corrupted the elites with bribes, the Greeks took them and gave their MPs immunity from prosecution. But the terms being proposed by the Eurozone and the so-called Troika were not just punitive, they were ridiculous. To pay back the loan being negotiated the country has to grow its economy. The Eurogroup’s terms included a budget surplus of 3.5 per cent, which would make the necessary growth impossible. The country has suffered an unprecedented drop in its economic activity and standard of living, with enormously high unemployment. The terms demanded are both inhuman and counter-productive. It is clearly right to defy them. But where is the solidarity that should have been extended from Europe’s trade union and social democrat parties to their Greek brothers and sisters in such distress? </p> <p>They were on the other side. The Euro Group and its central bank shut down the Greek banking system when the referendum was declared – a form of intimidation far more extreme than the alarms the UK has been subjected to with the prospect of Brexit. The man who led this was the Euro Group’s president Jeroen Dijsselbloem, a leading Dutch Labour politician. He attacked the Greeks saying that their “every sentence had ideological baggage”, as if his were free of any preconceptions! A perfect example of using depoliticisation to disarm disagreement. President Hollande was – and still is – the head of the French social democrats. All he was capable of by means of <i>fraternité</i> was equivocation and hand-wringing. Perhaps no one personified the consequences of sharing power for European social democrats more than Chancellor Merkel’s deputy in her grand coalition, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/05/germany-greek-referendum-anger-solidarity">Sigmar Gabriel</a>, who heads Germany’s historic Social Democratic party. When the referendum’s resounding NO was declared he made the most brutal public statement, saying that Tsipras and his government were leading the Greek people down a path of “bitter sacrifice and hopelessness”, and had:</p> <blockquote><p>“torn down the last bridges over which Europe and Greece might have been able to move towards a compromise… With the rejection of the rules of the game of the eurozone, which have been expressed with the majority of NOs, it is impossible to imagine negotiations over programmes worth billions…”</p></blockquote> <p>One year on from this disgusting assault and what do we read? The same Gabriel <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eurozone-greece-gabriel-idUSKCN0XY0BE">announces</a>, "Everyone knows that this debt relief will have to come at some point. It makes no sense to shirk from that time and time again… Greece needs debt relief”. Exactly what the Tsipras government had been saying and ‘Oxi’ demanded. Too late, perhaps, for Gabriel’s once mighty party, which has just slid to below 20% support <a href="https://next.ft.com/content/0e54cc82-1cea-11e6-b286-cddde55ca122">for the first time</a>. Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/section/euro-finance/news/imf-report-puts-pressure-on-greeces-eu-creditors/">the IMF now argues</a> “upfront, unconditional” debt relief is needed with a much lower primary surplus of 1.5%. Cruellest of all, Paul De Grauwe has shown in a careful <a href="http://voxeu.org/article/ecb-grants-debt-relief-all-eurozone-nations-except-greece">expert policy analysis</a> that the ECB’s quantitative easing is providing effective debt relief to every Eurozone country, most of all Germany, except for… &nbsp;Greece. </p> <blockquote><p>“The exclusion of Greece is the result of a political decision that aims at punishing a country that has misbehaved. It is time that the discrimination against Greece stops and that a country struggling under the burden of immense debt is treated in the same way as the other Eurozone countries that have been enjoying silent debt relief organised by the ECB.</p></blockquote> <p>This won’t stop until there are strong voices across Europe demanding a reversal of policy towards Greece. Through this whole period the British Labour party has done nothing. No hand or eyebrow of even symbolic, moral support has been extended. Technically, the reason for this is that Greece’s left wing government is headed by Syriza while Labour is affiliated to the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Alliance">Progressive Alliance</a>, whose Greek member is PASOK, which now has only 6% support. Of course this is an excuse. Greece is challenging the consensus, and too many Labour figures have benefitted from it to extend a hand of solidarity. </p> <p>What does this have to do with UK Labour’s inability to generate an influential approach to the Brexit referendum? A lot. It needs a way of supporting Europe on terms that are not beholden to the Tories. This demands European allies and attractive forms of European solidarity. Labour needs a plausible framework of international cooperation to make any case at all that the sway of neo-liberal Europe can be challenged. </p> <p>But just as Labour under Blair drove forward the Lisbon Treaty that expanded the EU’s undemocratic powers, Europe’s social democrats are co-architects of the continent's neo-liberalism. In order to be able to speak with conviction of a social Europe of solidarity, liberty and equality, the current influence of its social democratic parties has to be replaced. This is an immense task, whether it means replacing them as in the battle within the left currently underway in Spain, or renewing them as is being attempted however clumsily in the UK. </p> <h2><b>At home on the range</b></h2> <p>As a life-long non-member of any party my first experience of a Labour conference was in 1989, as the co-ordinator of Charter 88. That year I went to all three of the main parties’ annual gatherings to advocate constitutional reform. While the Lib Dems were overwhelmingly boys exercising their hobby, Labour surprised me by being diverse and energetic. This was the period of Neil Kinnock’s leadership as Thatcher passed her zenith. I had expected a traditional, old-left Bennite domination of the conference floor. Instead, Bennism and its “four noes” (No to the bomb, the EU, NATO and the House of Lords) had been defeated and the EU embraced. As the Charter’s first priority was to see the European Convention on Human Rights incorporated into British law the larger Europeanization of Labour’s political culture was hugely welcome.</p> <p>A year later, Claire Short stopped the party’s executive from adopting a motion supporting human rights on the grounds that they were anti-woman as they gave judges power. But it was the start of a learning curve. Jacques Delors had spoken to the TUC conference in 1988 proposing Europe as a social market and a way out of the trap of Thatcherism, strongly supported by John Monks, then head of the TUC. The conversion of Labour to a European party was all the more impressive for being informal as well. Discussion of policy issues, from the family to work to economic policy, was built on European models and legislation. The horizons of its political culture had lifted from Benn’s parliamentary nationalism to continental reformism. After 1992 when John Smith, a committed European, became leader of Labour, he committed the party to a Human Rights Act (in his Charter 88 lecture, indeed), firmed up its commitment to a Scottish Parliament and called for a new settlement. In policy terms, democratic reform and the national-European question often seem separate issues, but they are part of the same cultural movement against the Westminster system.</p> <p>A ‘soft left’ emerged, strengthened by new think tanks that combined social reform to globalisation and formed the mental environment in which the generation of both Miliband brothers entered politics. It embraced Maastricht (while far-sighted warnings against the Euro, from Wynne Godley and Brian Gould, who had run against John Smith for the leadership, were ignored). When Blair came to power after 1997, he rapidly signed the UK up to <a href="http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP97-102/RP97-102.pdf">Maastricht’s Social Chapter</a> providing a framework for hugely improved rights at work while announcing the arrival of the ‘third way’.</p> <p>Often mocked, as in Francis Wheen’s delightful tagging as being between the Second Coming and the Fourth Dimension, there were (naturally) three aspects to third-wayism. One was the development of innovative, international policies that were progressive, effective and motivated, not simply collectivist or delivered from above. This fitted the European-style internationalism that became Labour’s core culture. Another was the embrace of international capitalism under the rubric of globalisation, as a replacement of old-style internationalism, with the taxation of its profits used to fund improved education, welfare and social needs; backing finance capital and living off the transfers. Finally, there was the politics of the label. The most important word was neither ‘third’ nor ‘way’. Their combination was banal, meaning only a political economy between total free market and total state control. The key word in the formulation, which delivered its bite, was the word ‘The’. There could be only <i>one</i> third way! Arbitrated, naturally, by the leader. In this guise, ‘The Third Way’ was an old-fashioned form of control camouflaged by new-fangled sociologists, and opened the way for ‘triangulation’ and the development of corporate populism.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="mag-quote-right">‘The Third Way’ was an old-fashioned form of control camouflaged by new-fangled sociologists</p> <p>The Blair-Brown period of Labour government saw a leadership that was always Washington-centric becoming more so. While their embrace of the US was existential, their support for the EU was primarily instrumental. They saw it as a platform for the projection of ‘leadership’ and ‘influence’ elsewhere in the world, especially as an ally of the US. This distance from the EU was intensified by Gordon Brown, supported by Ed Balls and his Treasury team, making the far-sighted call to resist Blair and Mandelson’s campaign for the UK to join the euro. They ensured the UK and the new currency avoided a complete catastrophe when the financial crash occurred in 2008. The paradox is that New Labour began as a ‘project’ with an unprecedented sense of a coherent approach: an alert, vigorous culture, and an embrace of a shared continent that broke from Labour’s imperial nostalgia. Its will to power was combined with a genuine dedication to equality, innovation and at the start, even openness. But it ended its period in office in 2010 deeply unresolved as to its priorities and place in the world, suspicious of new ideas, divided between its two architects. It finally broke the old British settlement with its conservative establishment but failed to replace it with a legitimate democracy or a functioning welfare state. In the process it started to make the UK a more European country then pulled back. The Europeanising constitutional reforms only fully proceeded in Scotland, whose present confident pro-European mood demonstrates the connection between the civic, the national and the democratic that has been the best legacy of the EU to date. Its achievement will be seen as one of the most important, lasting legacies of New Labour, leading ironically to the party’s elimination north of the border </p> <h2><b>Ed Miliband’s legacy</b></h2><p>It would be quite unfair to suggest that there could be any single Labour figure responsible after 2010 for this year’s benighted Brexit referendum and Labour’s incapacity to shape it. Putting fairness aside there is: it is Ed Miliband. His leadership blocked Labour from proposing its own referendum and this paved the way for the current collapse. The nature of his five-year leadership is coming into focus, helped by <i><a href="http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781784994235/">The Labour Party Under Ed Miliband</a></i> by Eunice Goes. Miliband was underestimated when he won the leadership and almost certainly did better than his brother would have, as David would have divided the party without the patience or skill to bring it back together or the moral standing needed to rectify his support for the Iraq war given his inability to break from Blair.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Ed_Miliband_conference_speech_in_Manchester,_September_2010_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Ed_Miliband_conference_speech_in_Manchester,_September_2010_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ed Miliband – photo, the Labour party</span></span></span></p><p>While that is speculation, what is clear is that retaining the unity of the party after defeat became Ed Miliband’s number one preoccupation. It was like a Ming vase, he would say, having to be carried across the five years. With amazing dedication he included, called, touched, assuaged, neutralised and listened to all the potential points of serious friction, accommodating them in his shadow cabinet and beyond. A party that had been riven by a ferocious division at the top became a singular machine, with only the odd media contrived rumours of leadership challenges, mostly concocted from disgruntled figures outside the parliamentary party itself. In 2012 Miliband rebranded Labour as the “<a href="http://labourlist.org/2012/10/ed-milibands-conference-speech-the-transcript/">One Nation” party</a> at its conference in Manchester, getting rare approval from the media.</p> <blockquote><p>“Friends, I didn’t become leader of the Labour Party to reinvent the world of Disraeli or Attlee. But I do believe in that spirit. That spirit of One Nation. One Nation: a country where everyone has a stake. One Nation: a country where prosperity is fairly shared. One Nation: where we have a shared destiny, a sense of shared endeavour and a common life that we lead together. That is my vision of One Nation. That is my vision of Britain. That is the Britain we must become.</p></blockquote> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">He then reached out to those who had voted for David Cameron. The press liked it. It seemed to be sincere. But even this caused some friction and was dropped. In its place Miliband talked about togetherness. In his speech to the 2014 party conference two years later One Nation had evaporated completely and he referred 41 times to what Goes generously calls “the principle” of "together”.</span></p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">To ensure togetherness within the party, fear of the 1980s was also pumped into the faithful and the discontented alike, warning them that any return to tearing into each other as after 1979 would mean decades in the wilderness. The incentive was the analysis that showed “a 35% strategy” of retaining just over a third of voters would return Labour to office after one parliament. It was one of the most masterful exercises of party management ever witnessed. The outcome was indeed unity – the quiet unity of a morgue.</span></p> <p>Only one aspect of this concerns us here. Miliband presented himself as a man who wanted empowered democracy and political reform. Under the influence of Marc Stears, ideas about direct democracy and people power “peppered” some speeches and policies. In fact, Goes reports, he was “ambivalent” about democratic reform, giving few speeches devoted to it, and his comments tended to be “fairly general”. She concludes: “On the whole, then, Miliband’s ‘power to the people’ agenda was more symbolic than transformative”.</p> <p>Some of his advisors sought to change this, in particular pressing for him to promise an EU referendum on the principle of membership or not. On the right, Ed Balls, Miliband’s shadow chancellor, although an opponent of devolution of power, thought a referendum inevitable and that Labour should own it. Others in the shadow cabinet argued strongly in favour. Thanks to this I was encouraged to set out the argument in a private letter to him, which I did in the Autumn of 2014 and later published a version of it in the <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/02/save-british-democracy-ed-miliband-has-realise-he-must-rebuild-it-scratch">New Statesman</a> while there was still time for its inclusion in the party’s election manifesto.</p> <p>I proposed a ‘European and Constitutional Reform Act’ to set out that if the people vote to stay in the EU, the UK would move to creating its own constitution through a convention process. The link was essential, I argued, so that being in the EU is associated with asserting and obtaining our own constitution, “with a constitutional court able to defend it in the way that the German court protects German democracy”: </p> <blockquote><p>“A more popular way of putting this, is that we must ensure that staying in Europe makes us more democratic, not less. Farage’s most notable phrase is that we must "take our country back". In his case, back to an unrealisable better yesterday. But he taps into a genuinely felt loss of who we are. The answer: we have to find ourselves in the future, not in the past. Put the two together - membership of Europe and a democratic constitution - and a referendum becomes a positive, winnable call for change not a defensive manoeuvre. Fail to do this and UKIP supporters, including one-time Labour ones, will reluctantly vote Tory in the vain hope this will give them a say.</p></blockquote> <p>Miliband refused to budge. It was divisive and not together enough: Labour would oppose the Tory proposal to hold a referendum. The result was that enough Labour voters switched to UKIP to lose the seats Labour needed to govern. </p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Being committed to the possibility of a new constitution meant opening the prospect of a federal outcome, hence maybe an English parliament. But this was precisely the point, there had to be a positive approach to the national question as well, otherwise the rise of the Scottish nationalist would prove Labour’s undoing. The forces that defeated Labour in 2015 were perfectly obvious, including to Ed’s frustrated advisors.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>By refusing to permit any initiatives that might appear divisive, Miliband silenced Labour. The Ming vase survived intact but it was completely empty. Which is why today, when the party looks inside to see what principles its policy on Europe should be based upon, it finds nothing.</p> <p>What was at first a party twitching but still lively after the trauma of defeat in 2010 became stilled, then comatose. Proof was the dazed, toothless sound-bites of the would-be leaders who put themselves forward after Miliband stepped down, as soon as his general election defeat was confirmed. Had there been any debate about why the party had lost in 2010 – apparently there was not even an internal report on the fact that it had happened – or vigorous arguments about direction, the candidates who stepped forward might have enjoyed tested and developed positions. Not least on their policy towards the EU. Instead, overnight, under the glare of publicity, they were expected to go from ‘all pulling together’ to declaring what they stood for differently. Some of the apparently handsome bodies that emerged from the cupboard crumpled before they could stand. Three retained enough strength in their knees to remain upright long enough to collect the necessary number of MP nominations. But their mental zombyism was so obvious and embarrassing that 35 MPs put Jeremy Corbyn up as a candidate at literally the last minute. He was someone who believed in what he said, gasp! He may have been mummified from the early-pharaoic epoch of Benn and the four Noes, it was inconceivable that <i>he</i> would become the party’s Lazarus!&nbsp; Instead, the idea was to use the gritty authenticity of his time-machine opinions to jolt at least one of the triumvirate out of their phantom zone.</p> <p>The mummy proved to have more life in him than the three of them put together. He said austerity had been a bad idea and should be opposed. Sheer relief inspired trade unionists, online activists, an ‘Iraq generation’ of older Labour members and a surge of the young, to come together to deliver a vast collective cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the party, whacking the heart of Labour repeatedly, giving Corbyn himself the kiss of life, until the body stirred, to the astonishment of the parliamentary head and everybody else.</p> <h2><b>A European Labour party?</b></h2> <p>Utterly unprepared, the Corbyn team has found itself within months chucked into the referendum campaign. This is its first test of addressing the country while responding to a new issue. Every fibre of its make up resists the bellicose rhetoric of Blair and the soft version of the same from David Miliband, <a href="http://labourlist.org/2016/04/britain-needs-europe-and-europe-needs-britain-full-text-of-david-milibands-pro-eu-speech/">whose speech</a> denounced Brexit as “fantasy” and “arson” arguing that the UK’s role is to be a world firefighter:</p> <blockquote><p>“If you want arson on the international order, vote to leave, but if you want Britain to remain with the firefighters, vote to remain.</p></blockquote> <p>As if the Iraq invasion had not left the Middle East in flames. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown is pursuing his own version of ‘Clout not Out’, <a href="https://next.ft.com/content/feba148a-21b7-11e6-9d4d-c11776a5124d">writing in the FT,</a> “We should be leading in Europe, not leaving it” – apparently unaware that the actual prime minister of the day has negotiated a deal that the referendum will endorse, if the country votes <i>Remain,</i> which explicitly marginalises the UK from exercising leadership in the EU. </p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">How can the new Labour leadership respond in a creative way? First, it is clear that Corbyn himself for honourable reasons is quite unsuited to be prime minister and will never be elected to the role. The danger is that he comes to believe that he has a personal mandate as the chosen one and needs only “to survive” to succeed. This will entail doing as little as possible to provoke arguments within the Labour party. Ironically, he could be heading into a repeat of the same benighted unity-first strategy as Ed Miliband, betting on a crisis, Tory divisions and the rise of UKIP, to deliver him to Downing Street.</span></p> <p>His shadow chancellor John McDonnell is being more creative. He has brought in public outsiders to refashion the argument on the economy. It is not the full monty of an <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/open-labour-only-way-for-corbyn-to-replace-blatcherism">open Labour</a> that I argued for with respect to Corbyn’s <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/corbyns-golden-opportunity-0">golden opportunity</a>, but it is serious start to creating imaginative and intelligent alliances essential for any significant challenge to power. He has just <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/144695186849/shadow-chancellor-john-mcdonnell-mps-speech-to">set out a case</a> for a “transformative economic policy” to a New Economy Forum that he convened saying:</p> <blockquote><p>we need to make an absolute commitment to responsible financing by a future Labour government. Let me spell out what that means. The old rules meant the last Labour government relied too heavily on tax revenues from financial services, and too heavily on off-balance sheet spending through the Private Finance Initiative.</p></blockquote> <p>This remarkable statement got no press attention but suggests three things. Whether deliberately or not, McDonnell is responding to the findings of the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/313245238/Labour-s-Future-19-05-16">Cruddas Inquiry</a> into why Labour lost in 2015, that while “voters are economically radical they are fiscally prudent”. Second, by identifying New Labour’s over-reliance on financial services he is accepting Labour’s political responsibility for the debt crisis that followed the crash and initiating a fundamentally different approach to the embrace of globalisation and neoliberalism. The New Labour realists seeking to regain the party’s leadership will now have to confront the failure of their own economic strategy in exactly the way they should have done after 2010. Third, and most important for this argument, McDonnell is also creating an opening for an economic policy distinct from both the Eurozone’s and George Osborne style austerity. It can’t succeed with European allies but it might start to provide a framework open to them; and there can be no alternative to globalisation as we know it that is not also an alternative globalisation.</p> <p>McDonnell has also led the Labour party in arguing for a positive approach to remaining in the EU, in his <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/144497277949/labours-shadow-chancellor-john-mcdonnell-mp">recent speech at the TUC</a>. Again this got little coverage in the media – it being quite a long and thoughtful case. It contained the usual Labour version of the transactional benefits of being in the EU in terms of improving our environment and human rights. I can understand them being made in a forthright defensive way by trade unions, like Len McCluskey’s <a href="https://www.unite4europe.org/">short, strong video message</a> as the head of Unite. But they seem odd coming from a political leader as they imply Britain could not enjoy these advantages if Labour wins office. In two distinctive respects McDonnell advances the case for <i>Remain</i>. He comes out swinging in terms of the free movement of people across the EU, as a fundamental gain especially for younger people. The approach refuses to regard free movement as the commoditisation of labour and treats it as an advance in what it means to be human. Second, he argues for:</p> <blockquote><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">a reformed Europe under a Labour remain vote… when I talk about EU reform I don’t mean the ridiculous deals like the one struck by the Prime Minister to undermine workers’ rights in this country.</span></p></blockquote> <p>I want to see a more open and transparent EU by ending the secrecy that happens at the European Council and Ecofin conferences. I want the clear light of day to act as a detergent that will rid the EU of some of its more anti-democratic structures. And now more than at any other time in recent years there’s a growing coalition across Europe who share this desire. And who need our solidarity so we prevent the scenes we saw in Greece and across the EU.</p> <p>Rather than leaving we should instead stay to make this positive case, and those of us who truly want to strengthen our sovereignty will be passing up this huge chance by voting to leave next month.</p> <p>This is the welcome approach that will be advocated and explored by Another Europe is Possible. For Labour it comes with a health warning. The reason why the Tories struggle so hard with the EU despite its capitalist nature is that it dissolves the framework of Westminster-style sovereignty. It does the same to Labour also. Despite all the justified criticisms of the present, lamentable, undemocratic nature of the European Union, it still forces politics in Britain to raise its game. For Labour this means pluralism: sharing platforms with other parties, working with Scotland as another autonomous European nation, embracing proportional representation and therefore coalition politics, building human rights into our constitutional system and therefore working out how it can be codified. It means desisting from proposing that the UK “leads in Europe” and trying to become… a European country. Are the Labour party’s new members really up for this?</p> <p><i>In writing this chapter I have appreciated the chance to talk with: Eunice Goes as well as Rosemary Bechler, Jon Cruddas, Jeremy Gilbert, Paul Hilder, Dan Iley-Williamson, Neal Lawson, Bruno Leipold, Mark Leonard, Nick Pearce, Benjamin Ramm, Adam Ramsay, Hilary Wainwright, Stuart White, Stewart Wood, all of whom are utterly absolved from any association with my judgements.</i></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="/blimey-it-could-be-brexit">Blimey, it could be Brexit! The whole book so far.</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 Anthony Barnett Thu, 26 May 2016 12:54:38 +0000 Anthony Barnett 102458 at https://opendemocracy.net Greek media and independent journalism under austerity https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/petros-iosifidis/greek-media-and-independent-journalism-under-austerity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables ></w> <w:SnapToGridInCell ></w> <w:WrapTextWithPunct ></w> <w:UseAsianBreakRules ></w> <w:DontGrowAutofit ></w> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <mce:style><! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } --> <!--[endif] --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --> <!--[endif] --> </p><p>In Greece, the media landscape under austerity has created bleak conditions for journalism and media freedom; a post-austerity agenda could change this situation. </p><p><em>Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/greece4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/greece4.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Brad Watson Photo. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The study on <a href="http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/media-policy-and-independent-journalism-greece"><em>Media Policy and Independent Journalism in Greece</em></a> &nbsp;I co-authored for the <em>Open Society Foundations </em>in 2014-15 identified the most urgent problems facing media policy in Greece and how they affect independent journalism. The study was based on desktop research, literature review of sources in English and Greek, as well as a set of in-depth interviews with relevant actors, conducted in Athens in November 2014. </p> <p>The main findings were that the country’s widespread patronage system has negatively impacted the press and silenced the voices of independent and investigative journalists. The market is controlled by a few powerful interests who dominate the national discussion through their newspapers, television stations, and online outlets, stifling the influence of voices and narratives outside the establishment and exerting strict control over independent journalists. The closure of Greece’s public broadcaster Hellenic Radio Television (ERT) in 2013 by the then Conservative-Socialist coalition government substantially damaged pluralism in the domestic media landscape. At the same time, the ongoing economic crisis and the imposition of austerity measures has drastically reduced the income of private media outlets, forcing many journalists to face layoffs or vulnerable work conditions.</p> <p>Historically, the Greek state has intervened in all aspects of economic and social life, including the media field. It has acted as censor (during the dictatorship from 1967-1974), owner (of public television and radio) and subsidiser of newspapers and electronic media. The cultivation of close relations between the press and political power, with public advertising and public subsidies being one of the main sources of income for the press, has contributed to the entrenchment of a journalistic culture cautious about criticising the government of the day. </p> <p>Since the 1980s and 1990s, deregulation has increased the viewing choices for audiences in Greece, but the private channels mainly respond to market preferences (i.e. advertisers and sponsors) and struggle to come up with a pluralistic output that would benefit citizens. Eventually, what prevails in commercial channels’ daily programming is mainly bland entertainment, rather than programmes tailored for culture, education and the arts. The main target audience of the commercial TV networks is the wealthy middle class and therefore programming is tailored-made to satisfy their needs and preferences. As a result, provision for the minorities or special interest groups is also limited. </p> <p>At the same time, the legal and regulatory framework has contributed to concentration of ownership of press, television and radio outlets. As a result, the market has been dominated by a handful of powerful newspaper interests, which have expanded into audiovisual and online media. In 2013-2014, the saturated audiovisual market comprised about 130 private television channels (among which the five most important national channels in terms of market share and advertising revenue were MEGA Channel, ANT1, ALPHA, STAR Channel, and SKAI TV), and more than 1,000 private radio stations with negligible market shares. &nbsp;</p> <p>The independent regulatory authorities, notably the <em>National Council for Radio and TV</em>, have functioned superficially and ambivalently and have allowed the establishment of a media market functioning without clear and sound entrepreneurial criteria: all private channels operate with temporary rather than permanent licenses, granted through a formal competition process, and most of them are in serious debts dues to loans provided with inadequate collateral. </p> <p>This patronage system has acquired pretty wide and complex dimensions after the establishment of the private TV and radio market, whose owners have been entrepreneurs also active in key sectors of the economy, notably in public infrastructure and procurement projects. Media organisations have thus been implicated in a complex intertwining of political and economic interests, often termed <em>Diaploki</em>.</p> <p><strong>The fiscal crisis and austerity period </strong></p> <p>The contours of intertwining interests have become more pronounced under the fiscal crisis; the so-called ‘triangle of power’, which involves the political system, economic interests (including increasingly the banking system) and media corporations, has been strengthened through the development of tighter bonds of complicity. Mainstream media have routinely conspired in favour of austerity measures and have been overall uncritical toward the state and the banking system, which in turn has supported them and their enterprises through public projects and advertising. At the same time, disenchantment of the public towards media has grown, as indicated by falling viewing rates.&nbsp; </p> <p>Such circumstances are unfavourable to objective and investigative journalism. Dealings between entrepreneurial interests (including banking ones) and the state can take many shapes and forms, including often using legislation to accommodate particular business interests. When exposed by alternative media these affairs generate confrontation between the individuals whose interests have been revealed (entrepreneurs and politicians) and the journalists involved. The non-mainstream magazines <a href="http://unfollow.com.gr/"><em>Unfollow</em></a><em> </em>and <a href="http://hotdoc.gr/"><em>HotDoc</em></a>, for example, have been on the receiving end of many lawsuits for exposing scandals. Other practices against independent journalist have included: false claims, direct threats against journalists’ personal and family life, conspiracy, forgery, secret surveillance, or stealing of sensitive data. </p> <p>Austerity has led to the closure of several media outlets and has added to the pressure on journalists in many ways: self-censorship so as to safeguard their jobs, low-status work conditions and very low salaries, and increased editorial control and censorship of critical views on governmental policies. The rise of internet news media, though providing prospects for alternative expression, in actual fact have replicated the dominance of big conglomerates, have reproduced cheap content and have provided a space of unregulated working environments with poor conditions and abusive employer practices. </p> <p><strong>The ERT closure and the digitalization process</strong></p> <p>The abrupt closure of the public broadcaster ERT in 2013 further damaged pluralism in Greek journalism, for ERT was the only broadcaster – in a market dominated by unlicensed commercial channels – with a legal obligation to provide objective, unbiased news. In addition, and notwithstanding its organisational problems and malfunctions, ERT had a diverse program and a wide audience, both in Greece and abroad. The shutdown contributed to a deteriorating landscape regarding the overall quality of journalistic independence. The dismissal of some 2,700 permanent and 300 temporary employees with no prior consultation has forced them into unemployment or to seek work in private media under uncertain conditions. ERT’s replacement, NERIT, was criticized for not functioning as an independent public broadcaster. </p> <p>The ERT shutdown also left the development of digital terrestrial television (DTT) to the large private media operators, with further consequences for pluralism and democracy. In the last five years, the <a href="http://www.digea.gr/en">Digea consortium</a>, controlled by the private national television channels, has established itself as the sole provider of DTT through the manipulation of the conditions of the relevant auction for the allocation of digital frequencies. Digea controls the digital terrain and its monopoly raises concerns about pluralism and independent journalism under austerity conditions, for the visibility of anti-austerity opinion on its frequencies is expected to be limited.</p> <p><strong>Prospects for independent journalism</strong></p> <p>If the media landscape under austerity creates bleak conditions for media freedom and for journalists to earn a livelihood, then a post-austerity agenda could restart the economy and have a positive impact on employment circumstances for journalists. The newly elected (in January 2015) left-wing majority (SYRIZA) government in Greece has pledged to introduce legislation that will address the long-standing problems highlighted in this report. The materialisation of the pledges of the new government to conduct a competition for granting legal licenses to private channels could contribute to a redrawing of the media landscape. Most importantly, the new government reopened ERT in June 2015; the restoration of ERT as the national public broadcaster is expected to contribute to cultural diversity and political pluralism. But the public broadcaster should enjoy financial and editorial independence in order to serve the public interest. Regulatory authorities that function more independently will be crucial in this regard.</p> <p>These efforts are likely to create an environment that protects journalists and their independence as the country strives to tackle the corruption and systemic failures that led to the economic, social, and political crisis. Furthermore, self-organized groups and networks of journalists and other media personnel have started exploring new models of journalism. Prominent examples are the Editors’ Newspaper (<a href="http://www.efsyn.gr/"><em>EfSyn</em></a>), the magazine <a href="http://www.unfollow.com.gr/"><em>Unfollow</em></a>, and the online <a href="http://www.thepressproject.gr/">Press Project</a> outlet. Greater mobilization by civil society, involving trade unions and universities among others, is needed to promote pluralism, transparency, and objective journalism. Links with inter-governmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the EU, as well as with international organizations, will be pivotal.</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/austerity-media/jim-aindow/this-is-what-anti-austerity-looks-like">This is what Anti-Austerity looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/michael-wayne-deirdre-o-neill/invisible-victims-of-economic-violence-ought-to-sha">The invisible victims of economic violence ought to shame the media</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/laura-basu/media-amnesia-austerity-and-great-crisis">Media amnesia, austerity and the great crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/johnna-montgomerie/austerity-as-failed-experiment">Austerity as a failed experiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/alejandro-abraham-hamanoiel-natalie-fenton-des-freedman-gholam-khiabany/new-serie">New series: Anti-Austerity and Media Activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/mike-berry/uk-media-and-legitimisation-of-austerity-policies">UK media and the legitimisation of austerity policies</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 Media activism and anti austerity Petros Iosifidis Wed, 25 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Petros Iosifidis 102444 at https://opendemocracy.net G4S promises (again) to repaint asylum seeker red doors and relocate families at risk https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-promises-again-to-repaint-asylum-seeker-red-doors-and-relocate-famil <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Four months after 'red doors' scandal broke, security company says it really will stop making asylum seekers’ homes so easy to locate and attack.</p> </div> </div> </div> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I plan to raise these issues in Parliament again and call for a Home office enquiry <a href="https://t.co/dtWEVXuZrT">https://t.co/dtWEVXuZrT</a></p>— Alex Cunningham (@ACunninghamMP) <a href="https://twitter.com/ACunninghamMP/status/735056046675333120">May 24, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Back in January I helped <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">The Times expose</a> racial abuse of asylum seekers whose landlords in the north east of England — the security company G4S and its subcontractor Jomast — had painted their front doors a distinctive red. &nbsp;</p> <p>People who had fled their home countries to escape persecution reported having dog excrement pushed through their letterboxes and graffiti daubed on their doors, because their homes were so easy to locate.</p> <p>There followed multiple media reports in the UK and abroad, parliamentary scrutiny and criticism, and the companies promised to repaint the offending doors swiftly. </p> <p>Juliet Halstead, head of housing at G4S, <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/robust-system-place-check-asylum-10787801">told the Teesside press on 25 January</a>, that repainting would be carried out “as soon as possible” in both Middlesbrough and Stockton.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racists">On Monday</a> we revealed that, regardless of all that, asylum seekers were still being targeted by racists, thanks to their red doors. One man living in Stockton on Teesside had emailed a volunteer worker in the early hours of last Friday morning to report that racists were banging on his door at 3.40AM: “I am so worried about this issue, it’s awful, because we fled from Isis to seek sanctuary here, not to face racism. The Jomast door is still painted a red colour,” he said.</p> <p>On Monday evening, I sent questions to G4S to ask why they had not repainted this man’s red door in January when the connection between red doors and racist assaults and abuse could not have been made clearer. I asked why they had defied instructions from Home Office minister James Brokenshire on 20 January to repaint red doors on Jomast properties, and further instructions from Brokenshire on 9 February after a Home Office audit of Jomast properties. Had they forgotten what he said?</p> <p>“<a href="http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/14264576.Red_doors_on_Middlesbrough_asylum_seekers__homes_was__inadvertent___Home_Office_review_concludes/?ref=mr&amp;lp=17">One of the clear recommendations</a> that came from our audit is that housing providers should ensure that properties used to accommodate asylum seekers cannot be easily identified either as a deliberate policy or inadvertently.” </p> <p>I also asked G4S why their executive John Whitwam and Jomast owner Stuart Monk had misled the Home Affairs committee on 26 January by pledging to repaint the red doors properties in “two weeks” [<a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/0dca3772-f15a-434d-ae59-1ec153372066">video here: 5.31pm to 5.33pm</a>].&nbsp;</p> <p>Yesterday I received the following response from G4S. </p> <p>“We committed in January to repainting the doors of our asylum properties in Middlesbrough. This has been done. Beyond that we have repainted those doors in Stockton and Newcastle necessary to ensure that doors in those areas have a range of colours.&nbsp; We have also looked across our estate to confirm that asylum seekers are not identifiable by their door colour.”</p> <p>How thorough was that look across their estate? Here is a neglected G4S house in West Yorkshire which I complained about to G4S on 19 April this year:</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOUSEMAY2016.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HOUSEMAY2016.JPG" alt="" title="" width="400" height="533" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The G4S statement went on: “Since the issue raised by The Times in January, we have received one complaint about door colour attracting anti-social behaviour. However, should any of our service users feel that their door identifies them in a way which puts them or their family at risk, we will commit to repaint their door promptly and if necessary arrange relocation.”</p> <p>I also asked G4S yesterday if they would “apologise to the asylum seekers and refugees concerned in so far as the failure to repaint the red doors contributed to the targeting of the asylum seekers’ home.”</p> <p>I’m still waiting for a response to that.&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, prepares to raise the matter in Parliament. Again.</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/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest-landlord">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racists">Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/john-grayson/rats-asbestos-toddlers-when-security-company-g4s-is-asylum-seeker-landlord">Toddlers, rats, asbestos. G4S, asylum seekers’ landlord</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</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 G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Wed, 25 May 2016 16:20:00 +0000 John Grayson 102441 at https://opendemocracy.net The UK Gangmasters Licensing Agency: a model to be followed and how to undermine it https://opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/pt/thanos-maroukis/uk-gangmasters-licensing-agency-model-to-be-followed-and-how-to-underm <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The GLA has helped mitigate labour exploitation at the British end of agricultural sector supply chains, however British immigration policies and insufficient labour protections in sending countries threaten those gains.</p> </div> </div> </div> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/crop_spraying_640.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555228/crop_spraying_640.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Crop spraying near St Mary Bourne, England. geograph.org.uk/Wikimedia Commons.</span></span></span><p>Seeking to position itself in a world of globally interconnected economies, daunted by multi-faceted competition over resources and escalating debt, 21st-century Europe has been lifting barriers to the flow of capital and labour. In the process of European market unification, production outsourcing characterised by long, cross-border product and labour supply chains and an expanding use of atypical forms of employment (e.g. posted work and temporary agency work) has become dominant. In this setting, the European Commission has produced several directives – Directive on services in the internal market, Posted Worker Directive, Agency Worker Directive – which aim to liberalise the outsourcing capacities of enterprises while regulating businesses’ flexible labour market strategies and protecting labour across the EU labour markets. Nevertheless, <a href="http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/5/7/The-effects-of-Agency-Workers-Regulations-on-agency-and-employer-practice.pdf">research</a> indicates that workers in these atypical forms of employment are more exposed to risk factors than permanent workers.</p> <p>Britain, although <a href="http://www.ciett.org/fileadmin/templates/eurociett/docs/Social_dialogue/Transitions_project/Report/2013.02.08_-_Full_report_on_the_role_of_TAW_and_labour_market_transitions.pdf">characterised by a flexible regulatory approach</a> with regard to the legal status of temporary agency workers and the governance of their employment, has spearheaded global attempts at regulating the temporary agency sector over the past 10 years by establishing the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The GLA is a ‘non-departmental public body’ that regulates the activities of labour providers through a licensing scheme intended to protect vulnerable workers in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish, and associated food processing industries across the UK. </p> <p>The GLA inspects businesses and employment agencies, issuing or revoking licenses to operate based on what they find. It works closely with the police, immigration authorities, tax authorities, and other public statutory partners to identify, disrupt, and dismantle operations engaging in forced labour, the many crimes often labelled as ‘trafficking’, and other activities that seek to exploit human assets for profit. Indeed, according to the <a href="http://www.gla.gov.uk/media/1571/gla-strategic-plan-2014-17.pdf">GLA’s 2013-2014 annual report</a>, one of its key achievements for that year was “assisting to rescue over 100 potential victims of trafficking for labour exploitation”. Between 2008 and 2016, the GLA achieved 98 convictions in the temporary employment agency industry, 24 of which regarded businesses that had entered into arrangements with unlicensed labour providers. </p> <h2>The GLA as a model?</h2> <p>Notably, the GLA combines enforcement and constructive/preventative strategies. The GLA works closely with business. It has produced booklets for employers and recruitment agencies which give them flags to look out for; and practical checklists and advice to prevent labour maltreatment from occurring in their supply chains. For example, this literature provides guidance on wages in supply chains and demonstrates that labour cannot be supplied below a certain point without engaging in either labour exploitation or tax avoidance. The GLA has also created a multi-lingual hotline accessible for all workers in whatever environment they work.</p> <p>The GLA is not a stand-alone law enforcement authority. Multi-agency working is central in GLA’s modus operandi and, to a certain extent, mitigates the fact that its remit is limited to the agricultural sector. Its involvement in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies has helped the latter inspect, uncover, and prosecute employers for labour exploitation and ‘human trafficking’ in other sectors as well. </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">Controlling who enters the country is regarded as much more important than controlling how someone fares within it. </p> <p>That said, the GLA’s effectiveness is undermined by several aspects of its operating environment. While the GLA’s collaboration with other authorities has some benefits, its ties to law enforcement can also negatively impact its image as a ‘protector’ of labour in the eyes of some workers, especially those with irregular immigration statuses. Apart from this, the diverse public policy priorities of collaborating authorities may also impair the capacity of the GLA to identify illegalities in supply chains and see through investigations. For example, in a country that enthusiastically enforces immigration policies while also curtailing access to legal aid and support, people that could potentially qualify for assistance as ‘victims of trafficking’ are less likely to come forward and denounce illegal practices. </p> <p>The funding of the GLA also indicates that labour law enforcement and worker protection is a negligible priority compared to immigration enforcement. Compared with the £2.17 billion budget and 23,500 staff of the former UK Border Agency in 2011/12, the GLA staff of 69 officers and a £2.8 million budget in 2014/15 spells a clear message: controlling who enters the country is regarded as much more important than controlling how someone fares within it. Indeed, the situation has only worsened in recent years due to the British government’s austerity cuts, and in recent times we’ve seen reductions in in the budgets of all public statutory organisations upholding and supporting the criminal justice system.</p> <p>Last but not least, the role of the GLA is becoming evermore important, and evermore difficult, as the UK food industry becomes more and more dependent on foreign-recruited labour. The GLA has attempted to adjust to the cross-border nature of labour supply chains, and all foreign employment agencies engaged with British business are supposed to be licensed with the GLA. The GLA has also actively sent enforcement officers to countries of origin to conduct training exercises and to support local authorities in applying their own labour laws when workers are recruited by overseas employment agencies. This has only had limited effectiveness to date. <a href="http://www.bath.ac.uk/ipr/our-publications/index.html">My own research</a> indicates that the regulatory hand of GLA hardly reaches the foreign agencies recruiting labour on the ground, and more efforts are required towards a cross-European mainstreaming of relevant legal and operational instruments.</p> <p>To conclude, the GLA has set a good practice precedent in mitigating labour exploitation at the British end of agricultural sector supply chains. It practically regulates labour in a £100 billion sector with a budget of 0.004% of that figure. However, sustaining existing achievements and transferring them over to different economic sectors is not easy, in large part because doing so conflicts with other public policy priorities in both Britain and in labour sourcing countries.</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="/beyondslavery/kendra-strauss/role-of-labour-market-intermediaries-in-driving-forced-and-unfree-labou">The role of labour market intermediaries in driving forced and unfree labour</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/caroline-robinson/antislavery-responses-should-offer-solutions-not-benevolence">Anti-slavery responses should offer solutions not benevolence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/judy-fudge/dangerous-appeal-of-modern-slavery-paradigm">The dangerous appeal of the modern slavery paradigm</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/caroline-robinson/modern-slavery-and-labour-exploitation-uk-s-government-s-dilemma">Modern slavery and labour exploitation: the UK government’s dilemma</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/pt/letizia-palumbo/addressing-severe-exploitation-critical-view-of-awareness-and-transpar">Addressing severe exploitation: a critical view of awareness and transparency initiatives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/pt/norbert-cyrus/pitfalls-and-advantages-in-assessing-anti-trafficking-awareness-campaign">Pitfalls and advantages in assessing anti-trafficking awareness campaigns</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyondslavery/pt/anna-triandafyllidou-sabrina-marchetti/regulating-or-awareness-raising-to-avoid-severe">Regulating or awareness-raising to avoid severe exploitation? Employers in the migrant domestic sector</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/beyondslavery/pt/claire-falconer/carrots-and-sticks-increasing-corporate-accountability-for-modern-slav">Carrots and sticks: increasing corporate accountability for ‘modern slavery’</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> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery uk Thanos Maroukis Can awareness-raising prevent exploitation? Wed, 25 May 2016 07:00:00 +0000 Thanos Maroukis 102366 at https://opendemocracy.net This is what Anti-Austerity looks like https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/jim-aindow/this-is-what-anti-austerity-looks-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Photo essay: People's Assembly against Austerity protest, London, 16 April 2016.</p><p><em>Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_webDSC7352.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_webDSC7352.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_desDSC7005 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_desDSC7005 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6857.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6857.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6874 copy_edited-3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6874 copy_edited-3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6880 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6880 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6889.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6889.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6918.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6918.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6969_edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC6969_edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7098.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7098.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7149.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7149.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7158 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7158 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7181 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7181 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7322.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_DSC7322.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_webDSC7228.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/_webDSC7228.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/border_DSC6896.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/border_DSC6896.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC6901 copy_edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC6901 copy_edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC6904 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC6904 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC7166 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/des_DSC7166 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/desDSC6914 copy_edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/desDSC6914 copy_edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/DSC7280_edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/DSC7280_edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC6872_edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC6872_edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC6998.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC6998.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7047 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7047 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7053 _edited-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7053 _edited-1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7109 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7109 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7258 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7258 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7315 copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/web_DSC7315 copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/webborder_DSC6856.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/webborder_DSC6856.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/webDSC_0125.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/webDSC_0125.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><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/austerity-media/mike-berry/uk-media-and-legitimisation-of-austerity-policies">UK media and the legitimisation of austerity policies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/laura-basu/media-amnesia-austerity-and-great-crisis">Media amnesia, austerity and the great crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/johnna-montgomerie/austerity-as-failed-experiment">Austerity as a failed experiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/alejandro-abraham-hamanoiel-natalie-fenton-des-freedman-gholam-khiabany/new-serie">New series: Anti-Austerity and Media Activism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Media activism and anti austerity Jim Aindow Tue, 24 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Jim Aindow 102404 at https://opendemocracy.net The invisible victims of economic violence ought to shame the media https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/michael-wayne-deirdre-o-neill/invisible-victims-of-economic-violence-ought-to-sha <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The dominant media have failed to report on the pain, misery and fatalities associated with economic violence: from the devastating effects of the Work Capability Assessments to the increase in foodbanks.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/foodbank.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/foodbank.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/michael_swan. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Economics is rarely linked to violence in the UK’s mainstream media. Instead it is widely reported in terms of rational processes, statistics or the rising or declining fortunes of the political class. Economics as the means by which wealthy individuals and powerful institutions perpetuate harm on others is rarely perceived. Economic violence involves causing harm by denying those in need, of the economic resources required to live above a minimum threshold. When the media show a systematic indifference to engaging directly with the victims of economic violence, they help ensure that these crimes remain unrecognised in the court of public opinion. And austerity has given economic abusers free reign. Their pin-up boy until recently was Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Minister Ian Duncan Smith. It is the representational practices of the mainstream media that repeatedly produce negative and derogatory images of the working classes, constructing them as problematic and dangerous in ways that both justify austerity and excuse economic violence.</p> <p>One area where the dominant media have failed to report on the pain, misery and fatalities associated with economic violence is the ongoing scandal of the Work Capability Assessments regime (WCA). These were until recently undertaken by the French IT firm Atos on behalf of the DWP. From the formation of the coalition government in 2010, the link between a rising number of suicides and other welfare reform related deaths was highlighted by bloggers, charities and disability rights campaigners.&nbsp; On their websites and in their reports we can glimpse the scale of the corporate and state brutality that continues to be meted out to vulnerable and sick (and sometimes terminally ill) people as they are sanctioned and/or pushed off Employment and Support Allowance and onto Job Seekers Allowance. </p> <p>Apart from the <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/benefit-cuts-deaths-time-iain-6177882"><em>Daily Mirror</em></a>, the escalating number of Atos inspired suicides and other WCA related deaths made only very sporadic breakthroughs in the dominant national media. Often, when they did so it was because of some action or report by an expert, a charity or a parliamentary committee. Local newspapers would report some cases where individuals had committed suicide but there is little evidence that the dominant national media themselves went out to find such cases, talk to the families, investigate in detail what was going on, assess the personal and emotional cost of the Atos/DWP regime, examine the needless waste of life and the deeply objectionable assumptions behind the policy: that if you cannot work you are a drain on society. </p> <p>A 2008 <a href="http://uir.ulster.ac.uk/25223/1/A_Irwin_JRF_Media_Poverty.pdf">report</a> by John H. McKendrick for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, into the way the media report on poverty, found that photographic evidence of poverty was used only in 13% of reports. This invisibility was matched in the printed word where again in only 13% of reports on UK poverty, those actually experiencing it were included as sources for commentary. More typically, the reporting of poverty was mediated through the journalist, the representative from a charity or the voluntary sector or statistical data.&nbsp; This bracketing off of the actual experience and pain of austerity is crucial to fostering the indifference and ignorance that allows the growth of a culture of discipline and punishment for the crime of being poor. One of the most statistically striking but surprisingly invisible manifestations of austerity and economic violence is the growth in food banks. This growth has been driven by an almost sadistic drive to sanction people by the DWP.</p> <p>Almost as soon as the coalition government was formed in 2010, the number of foodbanks began to increase to meet the growing demand from people unable to feed themselves and their families. The <a href="https://www.trusselltrust.org/">Trussell Trust</a> reports around one million people using their foodbanks, but they are not the only providers and there are many independent foodbanks, so the true figure is much higher. The official government response to this is that foodbanks are an example of the virtues of charity and the coming together of the Big Society. Only a political- and media-induced remoteness from the realities of life as a foodbank user can sustain the plausibility of this reheated Victorian ideology. A recent report in <em>British Food Journal</em> again found that the victims of economic violence are not prominent in press articles about <a href="http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/BFJ-03-2014-0123">foodbanks in the UK</a>. Food bank users appear in only 20% of the articles sampled. </p> <p>The<em> Daily Mail</em> bucked the trend away from hard hitting investigative reporting and sent an undercover team to expose the scandal of foodbank Britain. Unfortunately, the title of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608606/No-ID-no-checks-vouchers-sob-stories-The-truth-shock-food-bank-claims.html">the article</a> was: ‘No ID, no checks… and vouchers for sob stories’. The <em>Mail</em> made the shocking discovery that some claimants were daring to use foodbanks more times than the maximum nine times a year that the Trussell Trust allots to its claimants. Presumably the reporters did not realise that a few days worth of food times nine visits covers rather less than the 365 days there are in a year.&nbsp; Once again they also failed to speak to any food bank users. In contrast to the <em>Mail</em>’s heroic efforts to deepen and extend their readers’ legendary ignorance with scare stories of fraudsters, a 2014 <a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/emergency-use-only-understanding-and-reducing-the-use-of-food-banks-in-the-uk-335731">report</a> by the Child Poverty Action Group, Church of England, Oxfam and the Trussell Trust found that people used foodbanks as a last resort. Most recipients described using foodbanks as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shameful’.&nbsp; </p> <p>The experience of austerity is different for different classes because the conditions under which they live their lives are different. The dismantling of social democracy and the rise of neo-liberalism breaks down the communicative channels between different groups in a class divided society. The gulf gets larger as does the mainstream media bubble. Discussions of class no longer include working class people, their hungry children or those living in tents in the woods.&nbsp; Instead they take place within ideological spaces that are dominated by the middle class and are mediated through middle class perspectives. The result of this is that for the majority of people it is assumed the picture they are being painted of a bloated welfare state and a workshy, benefit cheating working class is sufficiently realistic and true to life. Where are the photo reportages of foodbank users in modern 21st century Britain? Where are the news reports? Where are the documentaries? They are nowhere to be seen in the mainstream media. Instead they turn a blind eye to the institutionalised economic punishment beatings.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</a>.</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/jim-aindow/this-is-what-anti-austerity-looks-like">This is what Anti-Austerity looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/laura-basu/media-amnesia-austerity-and-great-crisis">Media amnesia, austerity and the great crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/johnna-montgomerie/austerity-as-failed-experiment">Austerity as a failed experiment</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/austerity-media/alejandro-abraham-hamanoiel-natalie-fenton-des-freedman-gholam-khiabany/new-serie">New series: Anti-Austerity and Media Activism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Media activism and anti austerity Deirdre O’Neill Michael Wayne Tue, 24 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Deirdre O’Neill and Michael Wayne 102407 at https://opendemocracy.net Doubts over cause of death of man, 25, at remote UK immigration lockup https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/doubts-over-cause-of-death-of-25-year-old-man-at-remote-uk-i <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Day Two of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Verne--HMIP-Walkway-to-units.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Walkway, Verne immigration removal centre (HMIP) </span></span></span></p><p>A young man who died in immigration detention may have suffered a rare disease leading to his death, an inquest heard today.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santo, 25, was found dead in his cell at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Portland on 4 June 2014. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that following a serious road accident aged 10 in 1998, Dos Santos experienced a change in personality, becoming more aggressive and suffered severe epileptic fits. He was depressed and had tried to take his own life.</p> <p>Dr Simon Rasbridge, the consultant pathologist who carried out the post mortem examination, said the anatomical cause of death was neurosarcoidosis, a form of inflammation of within parts of the brain. The jury inquest, sitting at Dorchester County Court, heard evidence that neurosarcoidosis is a rare disease and that its cause is unknown.</p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said that lesions were present in Dos Santos’s mid-brain, home to important centres that “keep your heart beating and keep you breathing”. He added: “Any disease process that affects this will have a profound effect on breathing or the heart beating.” Dr Rasbridge sent the lesions on to expert neuropathologist Dr Mark Walker to examine. The jury was told that Dr &nbsp;Walker had written a report which diagnosed neurosarcoidosis.</p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister representing Dos Santos’s relatives, questioned the reliability of this diagnosis. Brown argued that Dr Walker’s report was couched in probabilities and that the language used suggested that the diagnosis was “not quite 100%”. Georgina Woolf, the lawyer representing the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service, interrupted Brown’s examination to ask whether the line of questioning had strayed beyond Dr Rasbridge’s expertise. &nbsp;</p> <p>Brown told the court that it was important to assess why neurosarcoidosis has been diagnosed, given the rarity of the disease and Dos Santos’s lack of symptoms of the disease before his death. In light of these facts, he said, Dr Walker’s report “does not provide confidence”. Brown added that this was especially important because there could be another cause of death: sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. </p> <p>Dr Rasbridge said there was no proof that epilepsy was the cause of death, but when questioned further said that in the absence of symptoms of neurosarcoidosis, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy could be a potential cause of Dos Santos’s death. </p> <p>At the time of his death, Dos Santos had been prescribed carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug, and anti-depressants. Police found two full packs of unused carbamazepine tablets, one half empty packet and a full pack of pain relief tablets. This suggests Dos Santos had missed several days of medication before he died, the court heard. </p> <p>Dr Mark Walker is due to give evidence on Thursday. </p> <p>The inquest continues.</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/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-who-died-">Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup</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 G4S: Securing whose world? Care and justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 24 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102406 at https://opendemocracy.net Has a generation of activists given in to surveillance? https://opendemocracy.net/uk/gilbert-ramsay/has-generation-of-activists-given-in-to-surveillance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Reflections after months poring over interviews with activists about surveillance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/G20_crowd.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/G20_crowd.jpg" 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'>G20 crowd, Kashfi Halford</span></span></span></p><p>For three years now, I have taught a class under the broad title of ‘International Relations and the Internet’. Often, I get the feeling that I am learning as much from the students I teach as they are getting from me.</p> <p>At thirty-five years old, I’m flattered to learn that I qualify (just) as a digital native. But it becomes more and more obvious that the students I teach and I belong to different generations.</p> <p>There is a tradition that has emerged in the course whereby, in our last session, I take the class out onto the lawn in front of the university library, we sit cross-legged, and we talk: a bit about the class, a bit about the exam, but quite a lot just about how my students use the Internet themselves, how they have grown up with it, and how they see the future panning out.</p> <p>Every year, the thing that always surprises me most – though it shouldn’t any more – is the students’ attitude to privacy. During the course, I outline to them some of the more alarming ways in which governments – especially the British and American governments have been found to gather data on their own citizens. Sometimes I do it, if I’m honest, as much to jolt them into conversation as to inform. But for this purpose it rarely works.</p><p><span>When I tell them about, say, GCHQ’s ‘Optic Nerve’ programme, which involved turning millions of hijacked webcams into spy cameras which collected mountains of sometimes highly intimate data, they take it with equanimity. They aren’t shocked or angry. It doesn’t seem to particularly disturb them to think of some faceless, distant agency having access to this kind of information.</span></p> <p>Some of this, it seems to me, is a kind of apathetic trust in authority. Some of it is fatalism. The semi-sacred notion of privacy which libertarian campaigners rarely seem to unpick just isn’t something they are familiar with. This year, one student told me that she thinks of herself as manager of her own personal brand; that there are even now parties and social events that she avoids attending for fear of the digital trail they would leave. This is the world my students seem to be comfortable living in. But what other world could there be?</p> <p>As for me, I’m caught between. I remember the watching the television as the Berlin Wall came down. As a nerdy, but not particularly techy kid in my early teens, I read about the Internet with detached interest in New Scientist Magazine years before I ever actually experienced the thing. Perhaps like the proverbial boiling frog, I’ve grown into adulthood with the world being a particular way.</p> <p>But I hazily remember it being apparently otherwise. In reality, of course, we have always lived in a surveillance state to some degree. In recent years, here in the UK, we have been confronted with this uncomfortable reality in the deluge of discoveries made by investigative journalists, activists and campaigning victims about the often unconscionable methods of infiltration used by police against dissidents and protestors stretching back over decades.</p> <p>But the history of radical protest is still in the end history written by the victors. The numerous exposes that have been written about, for example, the COINTELPRO programme of spying and dirty tricks against the American Civil Rights Movement, or the Anti-War Movement are written in the knowledge that ultimately these repressive actions failed. With the safety of hindsight, they take on a certain slapstick quality for this reason. When one reads, for instance, the letter the FBI wrote in an attempt to blackmail Martin Luther King, it is difficult not to smile at the crudeness with which it is drafted.</p> <p>When my students put me on the spot about my concerns over the surveillance powers of agencies like the NSA or GCHQ, or large companies like Google or Facebook, when they ask me to really explain what kind of a world I am fearful of moving into, and what kind of alternative I can hold up to it, the truth is I often feel at a loss. Things I think are self-explanatorily bad aren’t necessarily so to them.</p> <p>For the last few months, I have been poring over the transcripts of interviews collected as part of an exploratory research project on activism and surveillance, funded by the Carnegie Foundation and the Russell Trust, and carried out jointly by openDemocracy and the University of St Andrews. The report on the study is available in full. You can read it <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/gilbert-ramsay/report-impacts-of-surveillance-on-contemporary-british-activism">here</a>.</p> <p>Understanding what these activists have to say is, for me at least, an important part of an answer to this question. In some ways, the people who contributed to our study sound a little like my students. They often sound fatalistic about the possibility of achieving privacy, and relaxed about doing without it. In other ways, they have a totally different world view: they are part of a tradition which has learned the hard way not to believe in a promised land of civil liberties and constitutional checks and balances. They have learned over time what the state will do when it feels challenged. And yet, faced with the inherently transparent properties of platforms which now seem indispensible to mobilisation, it is not entirely clear that they have figured out what to do next.</p> <p>It is naïve to expect to live in a perfectly liberal and democratic society in which civil rights function like Newtonian laws. The possibility of dissent and protest remains open not just because those in power say they are committed to it, but also because people actually do keep on finding ways to protest and hold power to account. Those who hold power – formally or otherwise – have always found new ways, soft or hard, legal or extra-legal, to stymie meaningful challenges.</p> <p>That’s how power works. But those challenging them have, up to now, always found ways to adapt and survive. What concerns me in these conversations with my students is not the passing of a utopia of privacy and individual liberty which never existed. It is the possible coming of a world in which the cycle of innovative repression and innovative contention appears to be flying off its hub. The conversations with activists which form the backbone of this report do not, I think, make for easy reading on this score.</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/gilbert-ramsay/report-impacts-of-surveillance-on-contemporary-british-activism">Report: Impacts of surveillance on contemporary British activism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Activist Surveillance Gilbert Ramsay Tue, 24 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Gilbert Ramsay 102391 at https://opendemocracy.net Have we passed peak SNP? https://opendemocracy.net/uk/gerry-hassan/have-we-passed-peak-snp <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the SNP losing their majority, has the party reached its zenith? And what's happened to Tom Nairn's three dreams of Scottish Nationalism?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Scottish_Cabinet,_May_2011.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Scottish_Cabinet,_May_2011.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Scottish Cabinet, May 2011, the Scottish Government</span></span></span></p><p><span>Nearly fifty years ago Scotland embarked on a new political journey – one defined by the politics of Scottish nationalism, the electoral challenge of the SNP, and the debate on self-government and how to best express Scotland’s collective interests.</span></p> <p><span>It has been a bumpy ride, involving controversies, incidents, moments of elation and disappointment, but while history is never tidy and linear, Scotland post-Winnie Ewing winning Hamilton in November 1967 was never the same. That much is uncontroversial. There have been subsequently three distinctive waves of SNP support: 1967-74, 1988-92, and then, post-devolution, and in particular since 2007. Each phase has been deeper and more transformative; first, challenging and then supplanting the Tories as the main opposition to Labour, then marginalising Labour, and becoming the leading party of the country.</span></p> <p>At the onset of this the writer Tom Nairn wrote an essay, ‘Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism’ which has often been cited, but seldom seriously analysed. Nairn foresaw three distinct dreams of Scotland historically: Reformation, romanticism, and bourgeois nationalism, each of which in its dream offered the prospect of being damned or saved, redemption or failure, wholeness and salvation or fragmentation and failure.</p> <p>It is classic early Nairn from which came the famous quotes ‘Scotland will be reborn the day the last minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post’ and ‘there is no Stalinist like a Scottish Stalinist’ – both of which contain poetry and over-statement. Beyond this, allowing for early Nairn’s doubts about the potential of Scottish independence, much of his critique has remained constant and stands the test of time.</p> <p>In the aftermath of Hamilton, Nairn was scathing of the bourgeois, respectable nationalism of the SNP, addressed the deep conservatism in society, the archaic nature of the British state, the ‘slow sleep’ of Englishness to use Orwell’s words, and the central role of the Labour party in maintaining the post-imperial show with all its puffery and magical hocus pocus, and its ultimate downfall. That’s an impressive hitlist, which only really missed the role of Europe in reshaping British politics, how it challenged the insular left, and its impact on Scottish nationalism – addressed by Nairn in ‘The Left against Europe’ published in 1972.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2>The only way is up</h2> <p><span>Fast forward to more recent times – the SNP’s victories in 2007 and 2011 in Scottish Parliament elections – were watersheds for the party and country. In a sense they provided a foundational set of stories of Nationalist history and its journey through the years, from tiny group, to first, breakthrough, and then, triumph and ascendancy.</span></p> <p>It is nearly as impossible to overstate the sense of change that occurred in 2007 and 2011 – of Hamilton proportions and more – in that little was the same again. In 2007 a sizeable part of Scotland beyond the SNP willed the party to win and to end the miserable tale of mini-Labour rule with all its frustrations and fears. In 2011 a seemingly insurmountable Labour lead crumbled as election day approached and was replaced by an SNP landslide which took most of the country by surprise, but which felt like a release from the return of an unreformed Labour, a historic moment, and even, if a bit over the top, a sort of ‘Scottish spring’.</p> <p><span>On the way up in recent years – from say 2004 to 2011 – the party was shaped by a generousness, authenticity, outgoing character and desire to win people over as members and voters, and palpable hope. There was a tangible belief that momentum and history were behind the SNP’s sails, and that Labour, Tories and Lib Dems, and with it the appeal of the union in terminal decline. Such historical determinism with its Hegel for dummies is always dangerous, when people think the future is inherently theirs – leading to all sorts of over-reach and contempt for others.</span></p> <p>The SNP reacted humbly when first elected in 2007 – governing as a minority government, listening to others, yet acting like a national government in a way Labour had found impossible. There was, though, a degree of change when elected as a majority in 2011, but still much that many outside the party found to admire such as the competence of the SNP in office.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Slowly if imperceptibly at first, majority government and the prospect of an indyref began to change the character of the SNP. It reinforced an iron discipline, top-down nature of the party, limited policy prospectus, and growing centralisation over public life. Some of these characteristics are understandable in the context of campaigning in an indyref, but while the democratic debate transformed the size of the SNP membership post-vote, this has not opened up or further democratised how the SNP does its politics. Sadly, the exact opposite has been the case.</p> <h2><strong>The three points of peak Nat</strong></h2> <p>Take the triptych of Peak Nat – the indyref, 2015 UK election, and 2016 Scottish election – each of which represented a new level of SNP and pro-independence mobilisation. In each case in the aftermath, significant elements of the SNP reacted with a lack of generosity, absence of recognising the importance of pluralism and need to reach out to those who hadn’t been won over, and even an inability to accept the voters’ verdict. This last point is underlined by the fact that for all the SNP’s undoubted popularity, Nationalist Scotland has even at Peak SNP been a minority of the vote, while non-SNP Scotland has remained a majority.</p> <p><span>Briefly a few examples. The aftermath of the indyref saw both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon fail to speak to the nation, and understand the motivations of the 55% majority. Both in the immediate days after the indyref, continually spoke to and congratulated the 45% who lost – thus appearing as party leaders, not national leaders. To this day, no proper post-indyref post-mortem has occurred, analysing why No won, two million voters proved immune to the Yes case, and addressing how the contradictions and limitations of the 2014 indy offer can be transcended.</span></p> <p><span>Instead, what has been the dominant response has been a feeling of ‘we wiz robbed’, most consistently expressed by Alex Salmond, laying into the perfidy of the BBC, the Vow and Gordon Brown’s late interventions and promises. One doesn’t need to defend any of these factors, the BBC having by nearly every account a poor referendum, to recognise that this is displacement activity of not looking to your own shortcomings, and perpetuating a politics of grievance and grudge, which the SNP in the recent past of upward fortunes has done much to disassociate itself from (funnily enough, Alex Salmond being one of the leading believers pre-indyref in positive psychology and changing his ‘mindset’).</span></p> <p>Take the 2015 Westminster election and the SNP’s tartan tsunami where it won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats. This is Peak SNP when the party won 49.97% of the vote and 1,454,436 actual votes – both historic records for the party. This was a point where the SNP became in representation the national party of Scotland in a way none of its opponents ever had previously: Liberal, Tory or Labour. And that bore with it a responsibility to speak and act in a way which saw that the SNP wasn’t Scotland and Scotland not the SNP.</p> <p>Rather than this the tone was of Nationalist triumphalism, of talking of ‘the 56’ as speaking for Scotland, and of continually ridiculing the state of the other parties. There was the attempt to get the sole Lib Dem MP Alastair Carmichael thrown out of office, which had an understandable basis in his lying about leaking a Scotland Office document, but seemed to celebrate that one of Scotland’s three opposition representatives could be eliminated. At the same time, two newly elected SNP MPs, Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry, were accused of inappropriate behaviour, and suspended from the party. While the leadership acted quickly in both cases, the wider SNP and independence community, reacted by defending the pair and questioning anyone who dared to use the word ‘scandal’ about them.</p> <p>This takes us to the May 2016 Scottish election which saw the re-election of a third term SNP administration. Unlike 2011 this had already been pre-costed into expectations, with the SNP and wider Scotland all assuming that another SNP majority government was the most likely outcome. It was after all what all the polls were indicating – even though the room for margin was narrow, the electoral system isn’t meant to produce majorities, and this is the age of surprises from Trump to Bernie Sanders to Brexit not being dead in the water.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>"The SNP did well nine years into office, but fell victim to their own failure to manage expectations. Winning 46.5% of the constituency vote was a rise of 1.1% compared to 2011, but the party’s regional vote fell 2.3% to 41.7%, contributing to the party winning a mere four additional member MSPs (as opposed to 59 out of 73 FPTP seats), and overall falling from 69 to 63 MSPs, short of a majority by two seats. This is in many respects how the electoral system is meant to work, but came as a surprise to some of the more optimistic Nationalists.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Worse Alex Salmond actually blamed the electoral system stating ‘I won a majority on 45% of the vote five years ago and Nicola did not win a majority on 47% of the vote, which is quite astonishing – remarkable’ (LBC, May 11th 2016). In fact, as former Deputy Leader of the SNP, Jim Sillars pointed out the 2011 majority was the freak result, producing a majority, whereas 2016 was the electoral system working as it had done previously and was consciously designed to do – producing a parliament of minorities. </p> <p><span>Then there was the dismissal of others and in particular the re-emergence of Tory Scotland under Ruth Davidson which saw them replace Labour as the main opposition to the SNP and poll 22.9% of the vote. All sorts of SNP senior figures such as Angus Robertson and Tommy Sheppard belittled the Tory revival – with many retweeting an image stating ‘So Ruth Davidson is less popular than Thatcher’. This missed that Thatcher’s three UK victories saw, for all her growing Scottish unpopularity, that in each the Tories were by a wide margin much more popular than the SNP. Add to this that the Tory vote was the highest in Scotland at any level since John Major won a surprise UK majority in 1992 and won 25.6% of the Scottish vote. That’s a generational shift and the beginning of the 1980s and the folklore of Thatcherism becoming part of history as it has to eventually, as opposed to the lived backdrop of everyday politics.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>This is in many respects what happens in most politics. A party on the way up is eager to win new friends and appear considerate. A party that has climbed to the peak of the mountain wants to retain its supremacy, regards large acres of the world as potential threats, and doesn’t take small or unexpected setbacks very well. This is the story of most politics the world over.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2><strong>The limits of Caledonian dreaming</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>This takes us back to Nairn’s ‘Three Dreams’. What are the motivating dreams of modern nationalism beside independence? There are three identifiable pillars: the destruction of ‘London Labour’, anti-Tory Scotland, and seeing the SNP as the embodiment of progressive, social democratic values. All of this makes independence appear contingent and a means to an end, but it isn’t that simple or clear-cut.</p> <p><span>One of the most unexplored elements of Nairn’s thesis was that of the role of ‘dreaming’ and Scotland as a ‘dream nation’ – a metaphor which regularly repeats in cultural setting but passes without much examination. A similar experience occurred in 2014 when I published ‘Caledonian Dreaming’. The title was meant to act as an invitation and provocation: of the Scottish propensity to the abstract and utopian imagination, and the oft found chasm between action and rhetoric, and how there was a causal relationship between the two: the pull of the sweeping, gesture politics of principle, while ignoring detail and incremental change, and the appeal of grandiose language and tribunes. None of this was noted in any of the reviews or comment on the book, apart from one English based academic.</span></p> <p><span>Moreover, this dynamic has contributed to Scotland’s radical tradition for most of the 20</span>th<span> century remaining on the margins with isolated exception (UCS, poll tax non-payment), and played a major role in the triumph of a politics of administration and managerialism, irrespective of the party in power. That this has passed without scrutiny does seem surprising.</span></p> <p>Dreaming in Nairn’s Scotland had several dimensions: visualisation, mobilisation, argument, collective possibilities, identifying positive and negative dreams, and contested Scotlands. Yet, there is a binary quality to Nairn’s dreamland: of good and bad dreaming, as well as an absence of any comment on its connection to disjunctures in public life: itself a recurring theme throughout Nairn’s life project of work on Scotland.</p> <p>Where are we today in comparison to Nairn’s 1968 perspective? In many respects, the landscape is completely different, but in many others, starkly familiar. Nairn wrote then of the absence of ‘the great dreams of May 1968’ and the hopes of the Sorbonne, Prague, Warsaw and Berkeley and the prospect of Dundee, Linwood and even St. Andrews being sites of revolutionary hopes. But while much of the new left flattered to deceive, our politics cannot be reduced to bank managerial safety-first nationalism versus a similar version of unionism.</p> <p>The limits of dreaming should be obvious. A different approach would look at some more practical and concrete steps such as how we keep a check on power; preventing concentrations of influence and wealth; preventing an insider class from becoming too omnipotent, and creating a public sphere which allows for proper policy discussions and intellectual exchange. Much of this is within the framework of the critique Nairn built up in the years after ‘Three Dreams’, particularly his classic ‘The Break-up of Britain’, first published in 1977 – a suitably subversive counterblast to the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.</p> <p>A Scotland of wholeness, of the allure of redemption and being saved, is unrealisable and unattractive – a place which stigmatises the past and present too much, in favour of an abstract, unattainable future. It entails us being too hard on part of ourselves – as if we need to purge our inner thoughts and desires to be cleansed and liberated – in the sort of re-education process a younger Nairn would have called Scottish PolPotism.</p> <p>Scotland has a bigger, more confident bourgeois nationalism today than fifty years previous. The SNP are the new in-crowd and no longer new kids on the block. They have contributed immensely to the politics and public life of our country in that period. But they are, perhaps even more than any other Scottish party, a product and reflection of the characteristics of our society, warts, flaws and positives, and how could it be otherwise.</p> <p>The SNP have taken us far. We always knew that nationalism – whether Scottish or British wasn’t going to be enough. Social democracy, that oft cited description of our politics, is on its knees across Europe, and we haven’t solved the modern dilemmas which impale others. The new left of the 1968 generation never lived up to its hype, while neo-liberalism, despite never being openly advocated in Scotland, has influenced all the mainstream parties, but is now widely discredited and associated with zombie capitalism.</p> <p>This leaves radical democrats, egalitarians and those from the left tradition, knowing that we have to invent a new political tradition. That isn’t something the SNP or Scotland can do on its own, but we can play a small part in, if we recognise the failings of the political traditions which have defined us. Scotland’s future will look very different from today and that is something we should welcome and embrace. This isn’t a clarion call to ‘work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’ which always sounded very Scottish, purposeful, and possibly orchestrated with an element of coercion. Instead, let’s ‘act as if’ we already are independent – which necessitates seriousness, radicalism, play, irreverence and standing up to groupthink and orthodoxies – wherever they come from – the SNP included.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/12-takeaways-from-scotlands-election">From the shared futures of the UK &amp; Scottish Labour to the RISE flop, 12 lessons from Scotland&#039;s plodding election</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Gerry Hassan Tue, 24 May 2016 12:08:06 +0000 Gerry Hassan 102388 at https://opendemocracy.net The BBC has lost touch: here's how it could re-connect https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/sarah-oconnell/bbc-has-lost-touch <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A filmmaker advises BBC news staff on how to better engage with the harsh realities of life for many in Britain.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 2012 I produced a film for BBC Newsnight, which was an investigation into Bed and Breakfast accommodation and the housing of young families, in cramped and dingy rooms, who were placed there for well over the legal limit of six weeks. The film was difficult to make. It involved spending weeks creeping in and out of bed and breakfast properties in South London, pretending I wasn't really a journalist, but was instead visiting friends who lived there. I received bed bug bites from sitting on infested beds for too long, saw raw sewage seeping back into bathrooms from faulty systems and listened to mothers talk to me, whilst they sobbed and washed sheets in tiny sinks or fed their children from cramped kitchenettes. Nobody wants to talk to a journalist when this kind of thing is happening to them. Who would? And out of the fifteen or so families I spoke to for the film, only two would agree to come on camera. So it took time to find the contacts, and get the access. And most of that time I spent in really grotty conditions with people who were extremely distressed by their circumstances.&nbsp;</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 19.37.40.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 19.37.40.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="274" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot from BBC Newsnight film on homeless families living in B&Bs. Credit: BBC Newsnight</span></span></span></span></p><p>On the night the film was transmitted, I watched from the gallery, as is the norm, and as the film was ending, one of the programme's staff producers came over and asked me 'where did you come across this story?' so I told him that I'd been visiting a young girl who was living in the hotel, and had seen her living conditions first hand. So I had begun to ask questions. His response was 'that's so unusual - to go into a story from the bottom up', and that statement sent a small chill up my back. Because in so many ways this epitomises the problem with BBC journalism. It's become 'unusual' for them to go into a story from the 'bottom up'. I replied to my colleague saying 'well what other way is there to get a story? I don't think the DCLG are going to send me a press release telling me about it?' I didn't mean to rebuke him. But really, how else to find out these things, unless we go in at the 'bottom'?&nbsp;</p> <p>The truth is, not many national BBC news journalists see enough of life at the 'bottom' of society to report on it properly or accurately. If most of my colleagues at the BBC didn't start life with a silver spoon in their mouths, by the time they've served ten years at the BBC (and the longevity and security of a BBC news staff job is recognised industry wide), they've pretty much gained honorary status of the establishment class. And it's quite a comfortable class to be a part of. But quite possibly, in fact almost definitely, it's not the best place to find and recruit your journalists. </p> <p>Another, perhaps more telling example of this kind of 'top down' approach, took place for me in 2000 when I joined the BBC in its Millbank political newsroom as a planning researcher. My previous job had been as a political researcher in the House of Commons, and I had watched with interest, and no small amount of horror, at the way Parliament operated in general, and more specifically, at the way that MPs expenses were claimed and processed. Within three months of my arrival at the BBC's political newsroom I had pitched a story on MP's expenses to the news desk. I pointed out that I knew of MPs who were essentially refurbishing their homes by using the 'Additional Home Allowance' and also that all shades of MPs were entertaining their friends and families at posh Westminster restaurants, eating lunches that cost over £150 sometimes, and then billing the taxpayer, via their expenses. I was told, 'this isn't a story, MPs have to eat'. But it was a story. It was one of the biggest political stories of the decade. And the BBC missed it, because, to most of their journalists at that time, the idea of having lunch for £150 on expenses, well, it just wasn't a story, was it? Not when it was exactly the kind of thing BBC news executives might be doing as well.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/benefits-street-lee.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/benefits-street-lee.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC 2's 'Britain's Hardest Grafter' was unfavourably compared to Channel 4's Benefits Street. Credit: Benefits Street, Channel 4</span></span></span></p><p>But when you walk into a BBC newsroom you can see and hear the privilege. There are only a few genuinely working class voices. There are hardly any black faces at all. Earlier this year, I produced a film for BBC News with a young woman, Lucy Martindale, who I had known for some time. Lucy is black. She grew up around gangs and had PTSD as result of all the trauma she had witnessed and this was the subject of our film. And as we walked into BBC news for the first time, I warned her 'people will probably really look at you in the newsroom, but ignore it'. They did look. And she did ignore it. But when we came out again, she said to me 'But Sarah, where are all the black journalists? We're in London. There's loads of black people here'. And it's a good question. Where are all the black people in BBC news? Well, I can answer that. Mostly they are opening the doors for all the white people, and cleaning out their bins. Give or take a few notable exceptions.</p> <p>I'm not stupid though. I know that there are loads of BBC journalists that care a great deal about fair representation in their work place and serving the public interest in their output. Some of them are my friends and I have huge respect and liking for them, both personally and professionally. But it's not good enough. The BBC has over two thousand journalists. And a significant chunk of them rarely leave the office –&nbsp;or if they do, it is to rush out, make a film, run back to the edit suite and cut it for broadcast. Most of the 'people finding' is done over a phone. </p> <p>I realise that this is not unusual in any of the nation's national newsrooms, broadcast and otherwise. I've worked for other news organisations and seen little difference in their approach. But the BBC has a special purpose&nbsp;–&nbsp;its raison d'être is to serve the public interest, not to chase news agendas. But as local newspapers have diminished in number and output, BBC&nbsp;<em>national&nbsp;</em>news has neglected to step up to fill this vacuum. And it could do. It has the resources. And the staff. And it has a duty to do so.</p> <p>And, of course, news demands this kind of journalism&nbsp;–&nbsp;this kind of hurried film-making and story telling. But news also demands context and understanding, explanations and examples. And these can only come with time and effort put in&nbsp;–&nbsp;if you are telling the stories of the poorer members of society&nbsp;–&nbsp;or the dispossessed. Those people that can't access lawyers, don't attend community meetings and centres regularly, and rarely come into touch with any 'professional' people, unless they are social services or the police. And there are an awful lot of people out there like this (let's face it, class wise, BBC journalists sit at the top of the pyramid). And there is a lot of really bad, and unreported, stuff happening to them. But in order for journalists to locate them and get them to speak to us, we must take our time. Show them they can trust us. Listen&nbsp;–&nbsp;really listen&nbsp;–&nbsp;to their stories. And, of course, with time, the stories become more involved. We learn a lot more. People speak more freely and tell us things that only a week before they would never have said to us. And then we can get to the truth.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are so many things the BBC could do, really quite easily, to rectify all this. They have financial resources and the unquestionable resources of a highly educated, willing, dedicated work force. But it's not about money. It's about the attitude at the top. About the senior executives really caring about this issue. So if I was running BBC news, then what would I do?&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Will.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Will.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Will, the 'thick-but-posh' intern from the BBC's satire on itself, W1A. Credit: W1A, BBC</span></span></span></p><h3><span>Take the time</span></h3><p>Well, for starters I would require all BBC journalists to go out into local 'grassroots' communities for extended periods of time - weeks, not hours - and not to make films or file stories, but to listen and talk to people. I would tell them 'go and make friends with people in local law centres and community groups and sit there for a week watching who comes in and out and listen to their stories'. Yes, it's uncomfortable. It's not like doing an interview with an MP in a nice cosy office. You will be out of your familiar zone - people will speak badly to you - some might even try to intimidate you. Even the lawyers and professionals will distrust you – most people that work at 'grassroots' do distrust us. (I have lost count of the times I have been told 'sorry, we don't deal with journalists, they lie about us'.) But we should persevere. Keep trying and keep showing that our interest in their lives is genuine. Prove we're not voyeurs. Show them what a journalist really does&nbsp;–&nbsp;and how much we can matter. The reverse side of this coin is to invite people into the BBC. Last year I worked training journalists in community radio in South Sudan. Every station was open to the public, and local people would come in and speak directly to a reporter or producer. This worked brilliantly because it was easy and you didn't need to 'know' anyone before you popped in. The BBC should think about this. Why not have 'drop in shop' days? Where journalists are available to speak first hand and in person to people who have an issue or a story. We should be accessible. Not living in ivory towers. And we should be the ones who are making ourselves accessible. We should be reaching out&nbsp;–&nbsp;not the other way around.</p><h3>An investigations unit<span>&nbsp;</span></h3><p>And, quite obviously to me, and as Meirion Jones&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/meirion-jones/bbc-savile-and-investigations">has argued</a>&nbsp;–&nbsp;the BBC needs an investigations unit. How is it even possible that it doesn't already exist? Take the IPCC for example: a hugely powerful organisation, charged with holding the police accountable. But there has been no really thorough investigation done of them. Instead, the BBC does little packages and pieces, and a Panorama some time ago. But to really, truly investigate what goes on at the IPCC, well, it could take a couple of years and ten journalists. But the BBC has these resources. Nobody else does. But they do. Why not use them? Why not have a long-term strategy to look at organisations like the police, the IPCC, the coroners, housing, legal aid, asylum, immigration? It will take a long time to get people to speak out because they will likely be vulnerable and distressed. But it will be worth it in the end.&nbsp;</p><h3>Who gets to be staff?</h3><p>There are so many other things to do, too many to list here, but finally, the BBC must change its recruitment process. It must start employing working class kids, black and white, and training them up as journalists. The days of kids from the estates coming up through the local newspapers are long gone. Now, the route in is Oxford (or some other swanky university) and then to ask your mum's friend who works there if there is any chance of a job. Over a third of BBC executives are ex-Oxford or Cambridge. And so working class voices&nbsp;–&nbsp;black and white&nbsp;–&nbsp;are not flourishing in the BBC. They are almost silent. And the stories that the corporation covers reflect the make-up, attitudes and demographics of its staff. This needs to stop, before this demographic is lost to the BBC forever, not just in staff, but in viewers. And if the BBC cannot find a way to recruit the non-privileged through its traditional channels, then it must look at other options. As Rhian Jones&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/rhian-e-jones/does-bbc-care-about-class">has pointed out,</a>&nbsp;whether effective enough or not, there are plenty of schemes and quotas for black and ethnic minority groups, while the issue of class is not being addressed. The BBC must consider positive discrimination taking class into account, if it's news output is to truly reflect ordinary people's concerns and issues.&nbsp;</p> <p>The BBC still holds the potential to improve the face of UK journalism, because where they lead, others still follow. They still have the time and the resources to do this. And they must ensure they do. Even when taking all the cuts into account, BBC news is a vast operation, with more journalists and bureaus than any other news org. But the upcoming Charter review should take into account the fact that the BBC is losing touch with its public, and there should be remedies included&nbsp;–&nbsp;real solutions, not lip service&nbsp;–&nbsp;to change this. Because they might not realise it now, but it's what will make BBC news, and the BBC overall, able to survive and flourish&nbsp;–&nbsp;to truly represent the public interest&nbsp;–&nbsp;and to gain back so much of the respect that it has lost in recent years.</p><hr /><p><span>Sarah O'Connell's first play, Concrete Jungle, which looks at the behaviour of TV news journalists when interviewing and filming vulnerable people, premieres at the Whitefield Garrick, Manchester on 25th July, and is part of the Greater Manchester Fringe event.&nbsp;</span></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> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk Participation & Exclusion Inside the BBC Creativity, Programming and Digital Public Space Sarah O'Connell Tue, 24 May 2016 10:44:13 +0000 Sarah O'Connell 102273 at https://opendemocracy.net Medicines untaken, appointments missed by young man who died at immigration lockup https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/medicines-untaken-appointments-missed-by-young-man-who-died- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jury hears of ‘chaotic’ and ‘stressful time’ at the Verne immigration removal centre. Day One of the inquest into the death of Bruno Dos Santos.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/entrance to healthcare Verne (HMIP).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/entrance to healthcare Verne (HMIP).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Entrance to healthcare, Verne immigration removal centre (HMIP)</span></span></span></p><p>Staff at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre in Dorset told an inquest jury yesterday that medicine monitoring practice could have been better back in 2014, when a young man died in their care.</p> <p>A nurse told the jury at Dorchester Coroner’s Court that there were “better systems in place now” and that things had changed after “what happened to Bruno”.</p> <p>Bruno Dos Santos was 25 when he was found dead in his cell on the morning of 4 June 2014. The court heard that he died of natural causes, which involved swelling in parts of his brain, causing pressure on his spinal cord, affecting his ability to breath. Coroner Sheriff Payne told the jury they must consider how he died. “Were there gaps in his care? Was there something that could have been done that might have predicted his death?” </p> <p>Dos Santos moved to the UK from Angola at the age of six. When he was 10 in 1998 he was knocked down by a car and suffered serious head injuries. He recovered but later developed epilepsy. Sometimes his fits were so bad that he would convulse and dislocate his shoulder, which had to be put back into place. </p> <p>However, the court heard that Dos Santos was a “generally fit young man” in the months leading up to his death, though he had a reported having a seizure just two days before being transferred to the Verne early in May 2014. Prior to his detention at the Verne Dos Santo served a prison sentence at HMP Thameside. His foreign nationality meant that once his sentence was up, deportation proceedings automatically kicked in. </p> <p>Dos Santos had been prescribed carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug designed to prevent seizures, which he was supposed to take twice a day. But during the few weeks he was detained at the Verne, Dos Santos would frequently miss appointments with healthcare staff to collect his medication. On his death a stack of unused medication was found in his room. </p> <p>Nick Brown, the barrister from Doughty Street Chambers representing the family, repeatedly questioned healthcare staff about procedure for detainees who failed to take medication or turn up to appointments. Julie Leighton, a nurse working at the Verne, answered: “We have got better systems in place now. We have got better compliance checks.” She later added: “We have got more checks in place now in light of what happened to Bruno, to make sure people are more compliant.”</p> <p>Brown asked again about the systems in place at the time of Dos Santos’s death, “Was there any system in place for anybody to go back and check?” he said. Leighton said: “The onus is on themselves. Like the onus is on me if my own doctor prescribes me something.” She later told the court that she had 300 people to keep track of and was unable to remember every single one. Though there were several messages about Dos Santos on the nurses’ ‘task’ system (the programme used to manage workload at the time) no one person was allocated responsibility for following up on concerns raised about Dos Santos frequently missing appointments. </p> <p>However, David Hill, the solicitor from Hill Dickinson solicitors, representing Dorset Healthcare, the private contractor for the Verne, challenged this. Addressing Leighton, he said that while “things have improved now”, was there an expectation at the time that nurses would check on patients? “Yes,” Leighton replied. “It was down as part of our weekend duties to check medications.”</p> <p>The court heard that Dos Santos had several serious fits witnessed by prison staff as well as the one he reported two days before arriving at the Verne. He was also waiting for an appointment to have his shoulder operated on at the time of his death. </p> <p>Dr Jane Fowler, a GP working at the Verne, assessed Dos Santos when he first arrived. “I don’t recall any specific concerns. I was not concerned about his mental state. I didn’t need an interpreter,” she said. Dos Santos told her about his shoulder, the fit, and that he was waiting an MRI and EEG appointment. A neurologist had made the referral the previous February. He was taking anti-depressants. A letter written in 2013, the year before, by the neurologist had also expressed concern that his carbamazepine prescription was low and should be increased slowly and checked again in 14 days. Dr Fowler noticed that this hadn’t been actioned; Dos Santos was still on a low dose and so she prescribed an increase. After that she had no further dealings with him.</p> <p>Brown: “Why didn’t you book in a further appointment in about 14 days time to see how he was coping?”</p> <p>Dr Fowler: “I can’t recall. In terms of availability of appointments that can be difficult. Better practice … in retrospect would have been to see him 14 days time.”</p> <p>Brown: “How can an individual taking that medication not be checked up on?”</p> <p>Dr Fowler: “It is not infrequent that people would miss appointments and not collect medications. The system has improved and it is easier for nurses to see who’s taking their medications and who isn’t.”</p> <p>The court heard accounts and statements from 11 witnesses including several prison officers, who could not remember Bruno Dos Santos because of the chaos and confusion at the centre. At the time, the Verne was transitioning from a prison to immigration removal centre. Mr Sheriff Payne, senior coroner presiding over the inquest, asked Robert Dorey, a prison officer working at the Verne, what Dos Santos was like. He couldn’t answer, instead he said: “It was a very chaotic time. It was very stressful.” Dorey discovered Dos Santos’s body and was still visibly shaken by the memory. “His eyes were closed. He was wrapped in his duvet. He looked like he was just asleep.”</p> <p>The inquest continues.</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 Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Mon, 23 May 2016 23:00:32 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 102370 at https://opendemocracy.net Dangerous omissions and intellectual obfuscation: the ‘left-wing’ case for Trident https://opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/dangerous-omissions-and-intellectual-obfuscation-left-wing-case-for-trident <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Recent arguments claiming to make a left wing case for Trident are riddled with holes.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/HMS_Victorious_MOD_45155638.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/HMS_Victorious_MOD_45155638.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By Photo: LA(Phot) Will Haigh/MOD, OGL</span></span></span></p> <p>Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the Leader of the Labour party has generated a number of articles from left and centre-left writers attempting to steer a course, as they see it, between Corbyn’s support for scrapping Trident on the one hand, and the Tory government’s plans to renew the nuclear weapons system on the other.</p> <p>In April 2016 Paul Mason, considered by many to be one of the most left-wing journalists working in the mainstream, produced a short video for the Guardian <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2016/apr/06/trident-jeremy-corbyn-paul-mason-leftwing-case-nuclear-weapons-video">titled</a> ‘The leftwing case for nuclear weapons’. A day later he published an article <a href="https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/a-new-defence-doctrine-for-labour-ee00055f0b5e#.vw3n48wxf">called</a> ‘A new defence doctrine for Labour’, which fleshed out his thesis. According to Mason, Labour should support the renewal of Trident. And should Scotland vote for independence and to scrap Trident, then Labour should support the movement of the nuclear base from Faslane in Scotland to a location in England.</p> <p>Similarly, in October 2015 Jonathan Leader Maynard, a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Research Associate of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2015/10/britains-missing-nuclear-debate">published</a> a piece on the New Statesman website arguing for a consideration of the many options other than full replacement of Trident or complete disarmament. His proposal? Britain should “possess as limited and low-cost a nuclear deterrent as possible, for the exceptionally unlikely scenarios when it could be needed in the medium-term.”</p> <p>Stop the War Coalition’s Lindsey German wrote a good, quick response to Mason, <a href="http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/1899-sub-standard-why-paul-mason-s-wrong-on-nuclear-weapons">noting</a> how his “left wing case for nuclear weapons” is actually “no different from the right wing case for nuclear weapons”. However, there are a number of very serious problems with both Mason’s and Maynard’s articles, problems which are common in other commentaries on the topic, so I think are worth highlighting and considering.</p> <h2><strong>Language problems</strong></h2> <p>In her influential 1987 journal article ‘Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals’, Carol Cohn <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/3174209?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">explored</a> how the language used to discuss nuclear weapons is laden with unspoken, often subtle ideological and propagandistic framing. After spending considerable time speaking with and observing experts (almost all men) in the field, Cohen “was gripped by the extraordinary language used to discuss nuclear war. What hit me first was the elaborate use of abstraction and euphemism, of words so bland that they never forced the speaker or enabled the listener to touch the realities of nuclear holocaust that lay behind the words.”</p> <p>Mason and Maynard are both guilty of using bland and deliberately misleading military and government-derived definitions and terminology, with both authors unwittingly defining and discussing the topic in particularly establishment and military-friendly ways. I suspect both authors would be horrified by this suggestion, so let me provide examples of the hidden assumptions and framing in their arguments.</p> <h2><strong>Defence?</strong></h2> <p>Both Maynard and Mason are happy to unquestionably and uncritically refer to Trident as part of the UK’s “defence policy”. <strong>“Defence”</strong> is, of course, a deeply political, deeply problematic descriptor for UK military policy that critical <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/apr/15/ministeringpropaganda">writers</a> and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministries_of_Nineteen_Eighty-Four#Ministry_of_Peace">thinkers</a> have tried to draw attention to and unpack. It was, after all, the Ministry of War before it was given a PR makeover and renamed the Ministry of Defence. Indeed, after the aggressive and deadly invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – interventions described by Maynard as part of “defence spending” – surely only the most brainwashed would continue to refer to the UK’s “defence policy” without breaking into fits of laughter? </p> <h2><strong>The extreme centre</strong></h2> <p>Maynard describes unilateral disarmament, like full replacement, as an “<strong>extreme option</strong>”, before noting “unilateral complete disarmament” is “just as dangerous” as fully replacing Trident. Mason doesn’t make such explicit statements about scrapping Trident but like Maynard’s article his piece is implicitly trying to steer a course to what he sees as the middle ground – which includes the retention of nuclear weapons – between the left and right of the Labour party. </p> <p>“War policy” becomes the much more benign “defence policy”. Reducing the ability of the UK’s armed forces to commit genocide is “extreme” rather than an urgent rationale, humane and moral task. Adhering to international law (see below) is “extreme” while retaining a reduced nuclear weapons capability is the sensible, right thing to do. The problem with framing one’s argument in terms of the mythical centre ground is that it ignores the global context which shows it is those who support retaining nuclear weapons that are extreme, unusual and in the minority: currently just <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat">nine</a> nations possess nuclear weapons, which means over 180 nations on earth do not have nuclear weapons.</p> <h2><strong>National security</strong></h2> <p>Both Mason and Maynard uncritically invoke the highly-loaded, and again, highly-contested term “national security” in their defences of the retention of nuclear weapons. Do all sections of society equally gain from notions of “national security”? Who makes the decisions regarding “national security”? By what actions is it achieved? One key use of the term is obviously as propaganda – deployed to close down awkward questions such as these. Even if one were to accept the term at face value, there is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/opinion/the-myth-of-nuclear-necessity.html?_r=0">little</a> <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB116787515251566636#:SciQxPcbC-l1NA">evidence</a> to suggest nuclear weapons positively influences national security. </p> <p>Mason makes the extraordinary claim that “a government prepared to make significant inroads into the power and wealth of the elite needs to demonstrate it can safeguard national security”. Back in the real world, anyone who has been awake and sentient since 2001 will have noticed that successive UK (and US) governments have consistently carried out actions that have <a href="https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9b59-Protecting-British-citizens-British-foreign-policy-in-the-Middle-East#.VykDD5j2bIU">predictably endangered</a> the lives of British people at home and abroad. As Noam Chomsky has <a href="http://peacenews.info/node/8187/editorial-undermining-national-security">observed</a>, the dirty little secret of “national security policy” is that “security is at most a marginal concern of security planners”.</p> <h2><strong>Independent?</strong></h2> <p>Maynard begins his piece by referring in passing to “Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent”.&nbsp; Interestingly, James Strong, a fellow International Relations Lecturer with a PhD from the University of Oxford, is also happy to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/who-needs-context-james-strong-jeremy-corbyn-and-public-opinion">refer</a> to the UK’s “independent nuclear deterrent”. Unfortunately for our Oxford graduates, this is simply not true. In July 2014 the Guardian’s Defence and Security specialist (see the Guardian is at it too) penned an article <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/defence-and-security-blog/2014/jul/01/trident-nuclear-weapons-uk">titled</a> ‘UK’s nuclear deterrent entirely dependent on the US – crossparty report’. Quoting a new report from the independent all-party Trident Commission, Richard Norton-Taylor explained the life expectancy of Trident could be measured in months without the cooperation of the US. “Not only are Britain's Trident missiles in a common pool shared with the US and maintained in Kings Bay, Georgia”, he explains, “its nuclear warheads are designed and maintained at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston with the help of US know-how, as recently declassified documents on the UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement confirmed.”</p> <p>In 2015 the former 2nd Division commander Major General Patrick Cordingley <a href="http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-6cb9-Top-officer-laughs-off-independent-deterrent#.VykD8Jj2bIU">noted</a> the US “control everything about our nuclear deterrent, we can’t fire it without them… we could simply not press the button and fire one ourselves, we just can’t do it, I promise you.” This is echoed by Ted Seay, a senior policy consultant at the London-based British American Security Information Council (BASIC), who spent three years as part of the US Mission to NATO, who has also <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/uk-trident-nuclear-program/">noted</a> “It would also be unthinkable for the UK to launch a strike outside of NATO… to say that you could launch a unilateral attack over the heads of NATO and Washington might be theoretically true, but practically speaking it’s rubbish.”</p> <h2><strong>A deterrent?</strong></h2> <p>Of course, “deterrence” itself – repeatedly referred to by Mason and Manyard – is another example of terminology that is far from neutral or descriptive but rather ideologically loaded in support of nuclear weapons culture. </p> <p>First, it suggests a defensive posture. Indeed, Maynard’s examples suggest he is only able to consider British nuclear policy as defensive in nature, discussing how nations such as Argentina or “an ISIS-like entity” could attempt “to elicit considerable concessions out of Britain on our vital interests”. The problem with this framing is that, like virtually every war throughout history, most nuclear arsenals and weapons systems are publicly justified as defensive. But with much of history <a href="https://ianjsinclair.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/ed-miliband-and-labour-russell-brand-versus-eduardo-galeono/">showing</a> that the words uttered by established power are generally meant to disguise its actions, what I’d like to politely suggest is maybe highly educated, privileged and influential members of the elite should have developed a sufficiently critical mind to not blindly repeat the underlying assumptions behind government’s framing of an issue. </p> <p>In reality the UK <a href="http://peacenews.info/node/7289/western-nuclear-terrorism">threatened</a> to use nuclear weapons during the war on Iraq in 2003 – that is it has carried out, in the words of activist and author Milan Rai, nuclear terrorism. So far from deterring a threat to the UK’s “national security”, in this instance Trident was used to discourage another government from resisting the US and UK’s aggressive invasion of their nation. </p> <p>Second, the theory of deterrence is based on the assumption that all antagonists are rational actors. What, then, to make of Maynard’s baffling argument that Trident should be retained&nbsp; in case “a really ghastly regime, perhaps an ISIS-like entity that gains statehood and then acquires nuclear weapons”? In an inversion of <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/986/98608.htm">most</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/may/26/newlabournewweapons">observers</a> understanding of the uselessness of Trident in the face of terrorism, Maynard maintains this entity “might be more prone to launch them directly against the UK or our allies if the certainty of deterrent is not present.”</p> <h2><strong>The improbable nuclear apocalypse?</strong></h2> <p>Maynard argues “nuclear apocalypse”<strong> </strong>is a “science fiction improbability”. He would do well to read the 2014 Chatham House report ‘Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy’ before making such foolish statements. “The decades since 1945 have been punctuated by a series of disturbing close calls”, the report’s authors <a href="https://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/papers/view/199200">note</a>, highlighting 13 instances when nuclear weapons were perilously close to being used. “The probability of inadvertent nuclear use… is higher than had been widely considered”, they conclude. Eric Schlosser, author of the 2013 book ‘Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety’, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/27/nuclear-weapons-near-misses-iran-bomb-peace">summarised</a> the story of just how close the world came to a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis:</p> <p>“On October 27 1962, off the coast of Cuba, when American forces dropped practice depth charges to force a Soviet submarine to the surface, two of the three officers in charge of the sub voted to respond by firing nuclear weapons. They mistakenly believed the submarine was under attack. Vasili Arkhipov, the second-in-command, refused to authorise the use of nuclear weapons, and the vote to do so had to be unanimous. Arkhipov’s refusal prevented the world’s first nuclear war.”</p> <p>None of these frightening close calls are mentioned by Mason or Maynard in their support for the retention of nuclear weapons. Why?</p> <h2><strong>International law</strong></h2> <p>Neither Mason nor Maynard deem<strong> </strong><strong>international law</strong> important enough to mention, let alone discuss. This seems especially odd when one remembers Maynard is a Research Associate of the Oxford Institute for <em>Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict.</em> [my emphasis added]</p> <p>Neither mentions the fact that Britain is a signatory to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which <a href="http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/NPTtext.shtml">states</a> “each of the parties to the treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/uc986-i/ucm0302.htm">According</a> to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament this requirement under Article VI was strengthened at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, with the addition of the commitment by the nuclear weapons states to “an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” According to seven International Law specialists <a href="http://www.nuclearinfo.org/article/nuclear-weapons/international-law-experts-letter-trident-replacement">writing</a> to the Guardian in 2006, the replacement of Trident would constitute a material breach of the NPT. A 2005 legal opinion <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/nov/29/comment.military">produced</a> by Rabinder Singh QC and Professor Christine Chinkin agrees, as does Kofi Annan, who <a href="http://www.un.org/sg/statements/?nid=2330">noted</a> as the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006 that “All of the NPT nuclear-weapon States are modernizing their nuclear arsenals or their delivery systems. They should not imagine that this will be accepted as compatible with the NPT.”</p> <p>And should the UK ever threaten to use or actually use a nuclear weapon – that is, commit genocide (again, a word strangely absent from Mason’s and Maynard’s articles) – the International Court of Justice <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=498&amp;p1=3&amp;p2=4&amp;case=95&amp;p3=5">concluded</a> in 1996 that this “would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and roles of humanitarian law.” This judgement is based on the 1977 Geneva Convention Protocol which states “the civilian population shall not be the object of attack” and bans “methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.”</p> <h2><strong>Increasing proliferation</strong></h2> <p>Finally, both authors do not mention the effect and influence that nations possessing nuclear weapons have on other nations. As Professor Mary Kaldor <a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalRelations/events/event_podcasts_12-15.aspx">noted</a> last year during an London School of Economics public event on Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy the UK’s continued ownership of nuclear weapons “legitimises a sort of discourse in which power depends on destruction capacity. And what that means is that obviously there is a reason for other countries to acquire nuclear weapons. Sooner or later some mad person might get them. So the only thing our having nuclear weapons does is to say to people ‘having a nuclear weapon makes you important’. And then everybody else wants to have the same.” In short, there is a direct link between the retention of Trident and the likelihood of further proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world, as the Director of Medact <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/11/northkorea.guardianletters">pointed out</a> in 2006.</p> <h2><strong>The elusive informed national debate</strong></h2> <p>Writing in the Guardian in 2013 Schlosser <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/14/nuclear-weapons-accident-waiting-to-happen">argued</a> “Britain has never had a full, vigorous debate about its nuclear weapons, based on the facts.” Chockful of crucial omissions, obfuscation and ideologically loaded language, Mason’s and Maynard’s articles do not get us any closer to this much needed informed national discussion. Indeed, by uncritically repeating all of the dubious terms and definitions above, the authors are effectively helping to normalise the politically questionable definitions and terms that help to provide linguistic support for the retention of Trident.</p> <p>More broadly, at the same time they unwittingly reveal uncomfortable truths about their own establishment and military-friendly mindsets, the authors also inadvertently raise awkward questions about the intellectual standards and rigour of the supposedly top university in the country and our so-called quality media. To <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azM6xSTT2I0">paraphrase</a> Will Hunting, the numerous errors, slips and omissions that Mason and Maynard make are so basic and obvious that they could be easily found, understood and bettered by anyone willing to spend £1.50 in late charges at their local public library.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/paul-ingram/trident-weak-defence">Trident: weak defence</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 Ian Sinclair Mon, 23 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Ian Sinclair 102333 at https://opendemocracy.net Why is the government so close to BAE Systems? https://opendemocracy.net/uk/andrew-smith/why-is-government-so-close-to-bae-systems <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The British government has a very cosy relationship with the people arming Saudi Arabia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Eurofighter_Typhoon_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Eurofighter_Typhoon_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Eurofighter, by Elsie esq, CC BY 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>In the title of his book “Perpetual war for perpetual peace”, the great novelist Gore Vidal took five words to describe the bizarre foreign policy mantra of modern Western elites.</p> <p>There was more than a hint of this dark, harsh and dystopian logic in the air earlier this month as Roger Carr, Chair of BAE Systems, proudly <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/04/peace-activists-bae-systems-agm-saudi-arms-sales">told shareholders</a></span> that the sale of arms is an important step in promoting and securing lasting peace. “<em>We try and provide our people, our government, our allies with the very best weapons,” </em>he boasted at his company’s AGM last week,<em> “the very best sticks they can have, to encourage peace</em>.” </p> <p>BAE’s so-called ‘sticks’ have definitely been used, but only to fuel war and conflict.</p> <p>Over the last twelve months, its Eurofighter jets have been central to the Saudi led bombardment of Yemen. They have been used to create a terrible humanitarian catastrophe, the likes of which will feel a million miles away from the high salaries and creature comforts of an arms company boardroom. Thousands have been killed by air strikes, vital infrastructure and lifelines have been destroyed, yet the arms sales have continued.</p> <p>The year-long assault is one reason why, despite its fragile economic situation, the Saudi government has continued to boost its already inflated military budget, <span><a href="https://next.ft.com/content/4f3b5708-0903-11e5-b643-00144feabdc0">with a further increase of 27% expected by 2020</a></span>. One major beneficiary of this extra spending has been BAE. This point is alluded to <span><a href="http://investors.baesystems.com/~/media/Files/B/Bae-Systems-Investor-Relations-V3/Annual%20Reports/annual-report-2015-22032016.pdf">in the last BAE annual report</a></span>. The ‘principal risks’ section of the report identifies the commercial risk that state buyers may consider cutting their military budgets, before suggesting this will be mitigated in part because “<em>in Saudi Arabia regional tensions continue to dictate that defence remains a high priority</em>.”</p> <p>Carr argues that it is not up to arms companies to make political judgements or to choose their allies. That is why he has consistently refused to condemn Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record. Earlier this year, <span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10153467145386939/">he told Channel 4 News</a></span> that he sees Saudi Arabia as “a very important customer of which we have a very strong relationship.” I’m sure that his predecessors would have made the exact same points when they were pushing for arms sales in countries like Putin’s <span><a href="https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/bae-spots-russian-opportunity-for-rj85-338665/">Russia</a></span> or Gaddafi’s <span><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/companies/bae-systems/countries/bae-libya">Libya</a></span>.</p> <p>These disingenuous, convenient and well-worn claims of apolitical and dispassionate moral neutrality ignore the <span><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000583">huge amounts of </a></span><span><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000583">time and</a><a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000583"> money</a></span> that BAE spends every year on lobbying and trying to influence government policy. This is nothing new, BAE has enjoyed a politically intimate relationship with successive UK Governments. Writing in his autobiography 13 years ago, Robin Cook, the former Labour foreign secretary, famously said: "<em>the chairman of BAE appeared to have the key to the garden door to No 10. Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to BAE</em>." </p> <p>One outcome of this relationship has been the ‘revolving door’ it has created, with <span><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/companies/bae-systems/countries/uk">many former high-ranking government staff finding employment with the company</a></span>. One high profile example is Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, a former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who was involved in pressurising the Serious Fraud Office to drop its investigation into corruption in BAE-Saudi arms deals in 2006. Five years later he was <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/feb/18/envoy-saudi-bae-systems">appointed International Business Development Director for BAE</a></span>. Last year, <span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/16/dozens-of-arms-firm-employees-on-mod-secondments">the Guardian revealed</a></span> that BAE has seconded staff to the Ministry of Defence and <span><a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/issues/ukti">UKTI DSO</a></span>, the civil service body that exists to promote the arms trade. </p> <p> Where Carr is right is when he says that BAE does not act alone. It, and companies like it, can only profit from arming and strengthening despicable regimes like Saudi Arabia as long as compliant governments support them in doing so. UK governments of all political colours have worked hand-in-glove with BAE, and have consistently prioritised its interests over the human rights of those facing Saudi aggression. </p> <p> What is clear is that government ministers and arms company bigwigs have bought into a dangerous and warped world-view in which arming tyrants can be a legitimate, admirable and ultimately peaceful business practice, and where the human consequences of war have nothing whatsoever to do with those who provide the weapons. Arms companies like BAE will never change their ways off their own accord, certainly not when their senior executives are do desensitised to the results of their arms sales, and when war and conflict are so lucrative for them. </p> <p> Once the AGM was over, the BAE Directors will have sighed a breath of relief and gone back to business as usual. Carr and his colleagues can continue enjoying the accolades and support of government ministers for another year, all the while telling themselves that the more weapons they sell the more peaceful a world they are creating.</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/2008/02/21/bae-case-proves-need-for-constitutional-reform">BAE case proves need for constitutional reform</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 Andrew Smith Mon, 23 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Andrew Smith 102335 at https://opendemocracy.net Report: Impacts of surveillance on contemporary British activism https://opendemocracy.net/uk/gilbert-ramsay/report-impacts-of-surveillance-on-contemporary-british-activism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>St Andrews University and openDemocracy interviewed 25 activists, and surveyed more than a hundred, about the impacts of surveillance on activism in the UK. Here are our findings.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/GCHQ-aerial_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/GCHQ-aerial_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="324" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By Ministry of Defence - http://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/, OGL</span></span></span> </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h2><strong>Introduction </strong></h2> <p>This report details the findings of an exploratory research project funded by a Carnegie Trust research incentive grant and by the Russell Trust. The aim of the project was to examine how concerns about surveillance have impacted on activists in progressive-left causes in the UK. The project was originally inspired by a question which Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group asked Adam Ramsay of openDemocracy – one of the co-authors of this report, about whether activists in the UK had changed their practices since the Snowden Revelations in 2013.</p> <p>The research plan we developed envisaged an exploratory, mixed methods study based on a qualitative, inductive approach. Our study drew on three main sources of data, in addition to the available secondary literature. Between September and November 2015, using snowball sampling, we conducted 25 semi-structured interviews with political activists, all of whom had significant experience in forms of civil disobedience or direct action. In keeping with the increasing tendency for activists to move fluidly between congruent causes,<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> the interviewees had been involved in a broad cross section of different ‘progressive’ campaigns and movements, including climate change, anti-austerity and tax justice, radical Scottish independence, anti-nuclear, anti-arms trade, free Tibet and Palestine solidarity. </p> <p>In order to obtain a broader set of views, we also created a survey, which we disseminated via the interviewees and via social media. The hundred responses we received provided useful additional background information, which supported, developed and in some cases seemed to challenge what we heard from the interviewees. </p> <p>Finally, in December 2015, in partnership with Open Rights Group, we held a workshop in London. Following a largely open seminar format, this brought together leading academics, digital rights NGOs and activists to brainstorm and share insights into the intersecting issues of surveillance, activism and digital rights. </p> <h2><strong>Findings</strong></h2><h2> </h2><p>When we began planning the research for this report, we fully expected to find a British direct action culture which had internalised the lessons of the Snowden leaks and the surveillance debate they triggered. One of the co-authors had personal memories of using the secure encrypted organising platform Crabgrass in the context of anti-austerity campaigning in 2011.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> It seemed likely that in the years since then, left wing activists would have found newer and more sophisticated tools, perhaps forging links with technologically sophisticated ‘hacktivists’ and digital rights campaigners in the process. </p><p>What we found in the testimony of our informants was in fact very nearly the opposite of this. In sum: </p><ul><li>- The <strong>Snowden revelations</strong> have had only a modest impact on activists’ attitudes to security. </li><li>- While there has been <strong>some</strong> <strong>diffusion of communications tools</strong> designed to protect online privacy, <strong>activists’ approach to information security is often rather low tech</strong>. Activists’ interest in surveillance and information security tends to be quite <strong>narrowly focused</strong> on surveillance practices they have directly witnessed and encountered. </li><li>- In particular, <strong>the ‘undercover cops’ scandal had a significant impact </strong>on the climate change movement and associated areas of activism. </li><li>- Faced with increased surveillance challenges, activists have not always adapted successfully.<strong> Lack of trusted communications tools </strong>has at times made direct action impossible to organise. </li><li><h2> <strong>Reactions to the Snowden leaks</strong></h2></li></ul> <p>Since they began to be released in 2013, the documents published by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revolutionised our understanding of what British as well as American ’signals intelligence’ agencies can do, and what they are prepared to do. Documents relating to programmes led by GCHQ such as ‘Tempora’, ‘Karma Police’ and ‘Optic Nerve’ read like the stuff of dystopian science fiction.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> </p> <p>The leaks have triggered significant debate worldwide, and in the UK they have helped to precipitate a wide-ranging review of surveillance legislation.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> At least in principle, this debate has informed the drafting of the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> But the Bill has itself been highly controversial, particularly on account of provisions such as those mandating the retention of Internet users’ browsing records.<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> These and other points of concern in the bill have led its critics to fear that it ultimately heralds the transformation of the UK into a surveillance state.<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> </p> <p>There is still a widespread perception that the British public - perhaps more than the US public – remain rather trusting and apathetic on issues of surveillance, despite these developments.<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> However, it is far from clear that this is the case. For example, opinion polling data pulled together in a report published last year by Cardiff’s Digital Citizenship and Society Project shows that the British public has in fact been consistently concerned about surveillance, even if this is not always fully reflected in the urgency of public debate.<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> </p> <p>The activists we spoke to did indeed believe that there was a troubling disconnect between their own attitudes to surveillance, and the attitudes and norms of the wider public.&nbsp; Broadly speaking, they took the view that state surveillance is extensive and problematically so. In the matter-of-fact words of one, ‘the UK is a surveillance state’. But nearly all agreed - as much because of as in spite of this - that the Snowden revelations had in themselves had only a modest impact on their own perceptions. Meanwhile, changes to British surveillance legislation had seemingly had very little impact at all. </p> <p>In our survey, slightly more respondents said they were shocked by the Snowden leaks (46%) than said they weren’t (42%). 50% reported that they had, as a result of the revelations, become more cautious about the information they shared electronically with others, and 57% were more worried about government agencies’ surveillance. Most, though, did not believe that the impact on activism had been significant, with a quarter reporting a ‘considerable’ or ’significant’ effect on their activism resulting from concerns about surveillance, while 60% maintained that there had been no such effect. </p> <p>At least in term of the emotional reaction they had created, most of the interviewees were of the opinion that the Snowden leaks had not been particularly shocking to activist communities. But they offered a variety of distinguishable reasons for this. </p> <p>For some, the Snowden leaks were seen as primarily a matter for a general public that had previously seen itself as safe from spying, as opposed to activists who had in any case long accustomed themselves to the idea. </p> <blockquote><p>…my feeling is that people said “well yeah, we know”&nbsp; so perhaps I exaggerate but I’m not really aware of any group I’ve been &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; involved in being particularly affected by the Edward Snowden revelations</p></blockquote> <p>The revelations could even be seen as comforting, in so far as they promised to make the ‘paranoid’ views already held by activists more mainstream.&nbsp; </p><blockquote><p>When all the Ed Snowden stuff came out it was nice in a way that some non-activisty people who always said we were ridiculously paranoid were like “ah, yeah, sorry”… Obviously the Snowden stuff was a surprise to everyone, but I think it was less of a surprise to lots of us than it was to the wider public. </p></blockquote> <p>For others of those we spoke to, though, reactions to the Snowden leaks did not apparently set them far apart from the likely reaction of many members of the wider public. For them, the forms of surveillance revealed by the leaks simply felt remote and difficult to engage with. One contrasted ‘the relative abstraction of big data’, the more immediately ‘personal’ impact of other forms of surveillance such as spying by undercover police officers. Others saw it not so much in terms of operational security, as a political cause somewhat remote from the concerns of their own protest subculture. </p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;I don’t really hear direct action people talking about this. It’s something I hear, from, like, people who are into wiki campaigning stuff like Wikileaks and ‘No2ID’, and collect information type campaigns. Like I want to say campaigns that relate to information, not campaigns that inform.</p></blockquote> <p>At the workshop, a key issue raised was the apparent gap between activists in the specific areas of privacy and digital rights campaigning <em>against </em>surveillance, and activists in movements using direct action who were <em>experiencing </em>surveillance. This gap was clearly in evidence in the testimony we collected: </p> <blockquote><p>It’s just occurred to me that none of us have ever actually taken action against the people who are surveilling us, or done anything about the surveillance issue. We’ve just taken it on board that we have to be more secretive. There’s a&nbsp; huge &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; degree of separation between people who are left wing activists and the rest of the world… so there is already that separation and we are accepting more separation; accepting the fact that we need to be more secretive and look for channels of communication that will help keep us and our movement going, instead of saying “well, actually this is a human right that we need to fight for.”</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;A further area of difference was between those who viewed news of mass electronic surveillance programmes fatalistically, and those who believed that they did not have to be overly concerned on the grounds that existing security precautions were already more than adequate to counter the sorts of information gathering the leaks revealed. </p><p>For one… </p> <blockquote><p>Edward Snowden was kind of liberatory because it just finally confirmed everything that we thought we knew. And for lot of people, certainly for me it’s like “Great, I can just get on with it now, because we know everything is being recorded. And why should we just give a shit any longer?” We’ve just got to be above ground. </p></blockquote> <p>But another insisted that:</p> <blockquote><p>&nbsp;…it [i.e. the Snowden leaks] was vindication of the sort of awareness about online activity&nbsp; that&nbsp; we’d had… groups I was in… would&nbsp; organise by email list and by secure forum and even then we would keep lots of things off those two things if you wanted to keep them really secret. That I felt was a healthy level of security culture. And that they can read your emails and they can you know, they can look at everything you put on Facebook and things. There’s not bugs in every watch. They can’t bug your conversation through a satellite. So it was sort of like, the level of security that most people I know use was seemed to be adequate to beat the level of intelligence gathering the state seems to use. It was just total vindication of the methods that we were using to try and keep things secret. </p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;While these are – at least on the surface – very different assessments, they have one thing in common: in neither case do the activists in question view the Snowden leaks as particularly influential on their attitude to surveillance and security. So what did shape our activists’ perspectives? </p> <h2><strong>Emergence of security consciousness </strong></h2> <p>The reactions to mass surveillance as reported in the Snowden leaks seem to be indicative of a wider tendency. The activists who contributed to this study did not think that online and digital information security was unimportant in a general sense. But with rare, notable exceptions they admitted to having only rather limited knowledge of the subject. In the survey, 61% claimed they had ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’ understanding of UK surveillance laws, while 63% said that they had ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’ knowledge of counter-surveillance techniques. Most agreed that their groups<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> spent too little time on counter-surveillance. </p> <p>We have already seen how the interviewees expressed a variety of views as to the adequacy of the measures their groups had taken to protect their online and telecommunications security. Sometimes their responses also seemed to unintentionally reveal an apparently limited conception of the possibilities of online surveillance. For example, some suggested that an appropriate - and perhaps even sufficient - response to the Snowden revelations would be to cease to participate in social networks like Facebook under one’s real name, or to avoid using mobile phones for sensitive communications. While these remarks were made off the cuff, many interviewees appeared to have a rather sketchy and approximate understanding of the basic mechanics of internet surveillance and online anonymity. </p> <p>Similarly, despite a solitary reference to ‘big data’ (quoted above), nearly everything the activists had to say about monitoring of electronic information - whether known or speculated about - seemed to assume human analysts actively examining ‘content’: emails, text messages, forum posts, phone conversations. One reference was made to a practice involving mobile phones which could be interpreted as indicating sensitivity to monitoring of mobile phone location data.&nbsp; (In this example, instead of taking batteries out of phones, the phones were given to one activist to walk around with). Otherwise, issues that are of major concern in the wider surveillance debate – such as algorithmic sorting of data collected in bulk, or use of metadata to draw detailed inferences about individuals’ behaviour and associations - simply didn’t come up.<a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> </p> <p>Interestingly, the one programme mentioned in the Snowden leaks which seemed to have attracted serious interest was JTRIG, the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group, a British unit within GCHQ specialising in “online covert action” including hacking, propaganda, misinformation and ‘dirty tricks’ against targets known to include the Taliban, Iran and ‘hacktivists’.<a href="#_ftn12">[12]</a> Unlike other, perhaps ultimately more insidious forms of surveillance, news of this programme appeared to resonate with activists’ direct experiences, such as the sudden appearance of disruptive trolls in online discussions. </p> <p>This fits with the overall pattern we observed whereby activists’ interest in surveillance is largely conditioned by the specific experiences of groups and individuals, and by the immediate need to perform successful acts of protest. Encounters with physical surveillance by police forward intelligence teams had clearly made a deep impression.<a href="#_ftn13">[13]</a> So too had incidents in which police had seized hardware from activists, or confronted them directly with evidence taken from intercepted communications. Forms of surveillance which can generally only be known about only at second remove, and the effects of which are unlikely to be readily attributable at the level of particular actions, simply didn’t register as strongly. </p> <p>In the survey responses, physical surveillance was (perhaps almost by definition) by far the form of surveillance with which activists were most personally familiar, with 63% having experienced it directly, while 75% said that their group had. Over half had suspected at some point that a group member might be an undercover agent (although under 20% believed they or their group had actually encountered one). Nearly half took electronic equipment into consideration when holding a group meeting.</p> <p>In the interviews, it soon became clear that it is usually impossible to separate the evolution of activists’ security-consciousness from their personal narratives of engagement. Again and again, interviewees described a gradual process of becoming aware of security issues which was shaped by specific events and encounters. Adoption of particular counter-surveillance strategies seemed to be ‘path dependent’ to use the social science jargon, to the extent that it depended very much on specific starting points and particular experiences thereafter.&nbsp; </p> <p>Some interviewees had had early exposure to the idea of state and police surveillance. </p> <blockquote><p>I was actually brought up in an activist family… so our phone was tapped from when I was a kid, and that was just pretty normal… you could hear them click in and click out and we knew that there was a certain amount of time, I think it was thirty seconds, that they could listen in for. And so me and my little sister used to take the piss, so we would say key words that we knew that they would click back in for, we would be like “Get the bombs! All the bombs!”… I think it was quite playful in the early 1990s and 2000s. It was quite a playful thing. Talking to older peace activists, they’d get walkie talkies and they’d change frequency every few hours, because they knew the police could tap into the frequency. </p></blockquote> <p>Others had early exposure through working with groups which, for different reasons, were more than usually security conscious. One had lived for a period in Iran, and had experience of being followed by secret agents. Another had started out in the Free Tibet movement. Both experiences had in these cases had the effect of making heightened concerns over surveillance seem natural. </p> <p>In the Free Tibet context, for example, a culture of security apparently emerged which was sustained by numerous stories and anecdotes about disturbing breaches of security. One recounted, for example, an inexperienced member who, not knowing any better, had kept his mobile phone on at a meeting in the Free Tibet central office in London. On returning home, he was said to have found the entire meeting recorded onto his own answerphone - something assumed by the Free Tibet activists to be an intentional gesture of intimidation by Chinese intelligence. </p> <p>Another mediating factor appears to be the role of large organisations. As a result of various data breaches, such as when it was hacked by a private intelligence company contracted by energy supplier EDF,<a href="#_ftn14">[14]</a> Greenpeace has rolled out much more rigorous information security procedures across the organisation, normalising the use of encrypted email and ToR, a programme which enables anonymous browsing and other online interactions by bouncing requests through encrypted relays, thereby concealing the user’s IP address. </p> <p>Those who had not been primed by significant formative experiences sometimes recalled finding it difficult to take surveillance concerns seriously to begin with. Talk about government spying, when they first encountered it, felt “fake”, “paranoid” or “a load of nonsense”, or at least as something unlikely to be relevant to the sort of activities they were getting involved in. </p> <p>Again, just as some contexts and movements served to sensitise people to the possibility of government spying, other movements were said to influence in the opposite direction. According to an interviewee who had been active in a Christian movement, Christian activists were known for being more open and trusting than those with other ideological backgrounds. </p> <p>Another factor identified was what was seen as a ‘generational’ shift in favour of openness. Interviewees who had been engaged in direct action in the context of the Scottish Radical Independence movement, for example, suggested that this mobilisation brought on stream an intake of young people who by default were much more inclined towards openness that was the norm for their older counterparts. </p> <blockquote><p>…a really good illustration of that [generational shift] was…with this big YES banner drop thing, where they dropped this big banner that just said YES off the crags on some buildings in Edinburgh. A few people I knew who were involved were sort of old hand anarchists and had been very careful about how they had organised their involvement in it, in terms of what they had said on text messages and things like that. And they’d also got phone numbers of solicitors on their arms. And then they got to the place where we were supposed to be meeting to plan it, and it was just in a Home Base car park, with people driving back and forth, getting all the stuff out of this van, talking openly in this car park and inviting strangers to just of kind of get involved when they were walking past doing their shopping. They were totally baffled by people’s complete lack of concern about surveillance or being stopped basically. And that was quite interesting, to see that difference between old hands and new people.</p></blockquote><p>Typically, the process of “gradual growing awareness” of the real likelihood that state agents were spying on them began with enculturation into existing security practices such as the removal of batteries from mobile phones at meetings, or speculation about the possibility of police informants in the group. These initial experiences produced a variety of reported reactions. Interviewees spoke of the elation of feeling like ‘I was in my own Bond film’, or describing it as ‘a badge of honour that the police knew who I was’; or, conversely, of feeling exasperated that fellow activists had ‘confused low level civil disobedience with being in a James Bond film’. Both reactions speak of the inherent difficulty activists face in making informed calculations about risk under such inherently uncertain conditions. </p><p>As activists became more deeply engaged, uncomfortable or ‘spooky’ experiences would gradually build into a more personalised narrative of encounters with surveillance as a reality.</p> <blockquote><p>I very distinctly remember a climate camp in 2000…2006 at Heathrow, and you were just aware that there was plain clothes cops on the site and come to meetings and things and you just found yourself wondering who it was.</p></blockquote> <p>The earliest unmistakable manifestation is, unsurprisingly, likely to be ‘physical surveillance’ by the police. In the survey, 75% reported that they or a member of their group had experienced physical surveillance of some kind. Among the interviewees, accounts of physical surveillance also predominated, and played an important role in making the issue of surveillance real in their minds. The following account describes an early experience. </p> <blockquote><p>…when I was at university in the lead up to the G8 protests, the level of intelligence gathering from the police in sort of using forward intelligence teams. They would turn up at every protest we had but they would also turn up at things, they would sort of, you know, turn up when you were having a stall at university, or they were around more than when they were necessary. So it wasn’t well, like they were there to watch out in case you broke the law, it was — they were there quite clearly there to intimidate and let you know that they were always watching. </p></blockquote> <p>An important point to bring up at this stage is the varying possible interpretations of the meaning of police behaviour. A theme encountered in several interviews was the idea that police surveillance of this sort is primarily disruptive and deterrent in its aims, despite its ostensibly intelligence gathering function. But the reverse may also be considered to be true. For example, the mass arrest that pre-empted the occupation of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, given that the very number of arrestees and the moment of the arrests appeared to limit the likelihood of a successful prosecution, was interpreted in one account as evidence of arrest being used primarily for purposes of information gathering. Indeed, such anxiety-inspiring ambiguities are clearly central to the experience of developing security-consciousness. </p> <blockquote><p>…it’s when it gets a bit spooky that you suddenly — that you start to be more worried about how, how much information the police have on you. And when you don’t have control over it or when, when you’d have control over when you were at a protest and you know, you were in that confrontation and then you go home and you’re not doing that, but they - the police are still after you still sort of care.</p></blockquote> <p>This quotation also illustrates another key problem in maintaining security within decentralised movements: people do not usually become involved in political protest with the express intention, from the outset, of breaking the law. They therefore do not have the same incentive at the outset to limit the information police can gather on them that they will later acquire. </p><p>Even when these ‘spooky’ or surprising things do begin to happen to individuals, there may still be considerable room to question the significance of what has happened. </p> <blockquote><p>…Any time we get close to an action, especially a big thing, our phones get weird. I don’t know. You think for a while it’s just paranoia. But, like, a phone that’s new, that’s perfectly fine all the time, three days before an action, three days before a camp, three days before something happens, your phone starts crackling and making weird noises and sending texts to people that you sent three years ago to other people. It’s either something that makes people super-paranoid or just like ‘Oh yes! Well, they’re watching that one. Ah, thank goodness, I am vaguely important.’ </p></blockquote> <p>Interviewees described police turning up in surprising numbers at events which were either supposed to be secret, or which did not involve any controversial actions. One activist, for example, had organised an alternative history tour of the City of London. The places where the group would be stopping had not been announced in advance, but there turned out to be a police presence at every one. Another had taken a local community group for a walk and picnic at the site of a proposed coal mine. Despite the site being nothing more than a field at the time…</p> <blockquote><p>…between 8 and 10 in total police were gathering there, and they had long lens cameras. You know, they’ve got my phone. They know who I am. I’m talking to the leader of the community council and they know who he is. And there are these cops — there was a van of riot cops that turned up, but the community council said it — someone at the council said it was bit over the top and so the police eventually sent them away. But literally all we were doing is we were having tea and cake. We’re talk — you know, activists who campaign against coal and communities that’s affected by coal and we’re going to have a conversation and then we walked and looked at some farmland. But that was like an open thing. We’d publicised that, we had put posters up. They knew about that.</p></blockquote> <p>Were police merely acting on publicly available information, or were they – as seems likely in this instance - also drawing on intelligence about the activist organising the community event? </p> <h2><strong>Undercover cops </strong></h2> <p>In contrast to the relative indifference to the Snowden revelations, we were struck by the significance attributed to the undercover cops scandal. This began in 2010 with the discovery that a well-known figure in the environmental direct action movement, Mark Stone, was in fact an undercover police infiltrator named Mark Kennedy.<a href="#_ftn15">[15]</a> Kennedy had spent years becoming a trusted member of the inner circle of British environmental direct action, in the course of which he had at least two (very likely many more) sexual relationships with activists, as well as cultivating numerous close friendships. </p> <p>The personal impact on those immediately affected, as reported to us, was understandably and unsurprisingly severe. Although none of the interviewees had personally known Mark Kennedy, they were well aware of the emotional devastation that had resulted from his being uncovered. A former girlfriend of Stone’s felt, in the words of one of our interviewees, “Like she had been raped by the state”. </p> <p>Or again… </p> <blockquote><p>[The impact was h]uge. I think they took people out. I think there’s a whole group of people who just aren’t involved with anything anymore. Such was trust damaged through that whole process. I don’t know how many it is. Could be ten, could be forty, somewhere around there…some of them it’s severe mental health problems. Some of the women who he had relationships with and some of them it’s just an absolute exhaustion with having gone through that whole process. They’re just not up for putting them —even the potential of putting themselves through something like that. And we’ve had some nasty experiences with people breaking down when they felt security’s being compromised. And I’m sure that partly comes out of Mark Kennedy, Mark Stone thing. Huge amounts of anger towards government security — just lack of trust, kind of increase that lack of trust.</p></blockquote> <p>Our interest in this study was less in the direct impacts on individual mental health mentioned here, but rather on possible wider effects, such as the ‘lack of trust’ identified here. For the climate change movement, the outing of Mark Kennedy coincided with a slump in direct action, albeit one which probably had multiple causes, not least the anticlimactic debacle of the Copenhagen climate change conference, on which much of the wider movement had pinned its hopes. For this reason, attributing unambiguous causal significance to undercover cops scandal is difficult, and our interviewees’ comments on the question reflected this. </p> <blockquote><p>I guess on a personal level, I <em>do</em> know people who withdrew at that point and who talked about infiltration and Kennedy as one of the things that had really upset them. But I don’t know of anyone who said ‘<em>this </em>is the reason why I’m now disengaging with this, this is the reason why I now feel I don’t want to go to protests’ but it was definitely a, a factor in the mix.</p></blockquote> <p>Nonetheless, while it is hard to say for certain that Mark Kennedy was the cause of an absolute decline in environmental direct action, whether in terms of actions carried out, or levels of participation, there seems little doubt that clear impacts were felt within the movement. </p> <blockquote><p>…there was quite a witch hunt for about a year and a half after that point. And you know we found four others and we knew there was twenty, at least twenty from the reports. You know, obviously what happened to former partners as well was devastating and you know, some of them have now gripes with the police that can’t — they can’t emotionally get over it and that’s led to different kinds of political action and you know, quite a fragmentation. But, you know, you see shortly after the Mark Stone thing the break down of Climate Camp. There’s certainly a level at which — I’m not saying that was — I would say it was a minor contributing factor whereby certain bonds of trust certainly were broken down. Especially from people from Oxford and Cambridge because we know where that’s where they find recruits</p></blockquote> <p>Collapsing trust had two main consequences. Internally, its ‘toxic and insidious’ effects served to poison longstanding friendships in ways which reportedly came close to ripping the movement apart. </p><p>For those who remained, it also served to isolate activists from the wider public. Inner circles tightened, as activists began to enquire into the backgrounds of those they took action with, checking out the parents or siblings of their peers. Vigilant about potential infiltrators, some began to fall back on crude stereotypes which, in turn, may have made them seem unwelcoming and paranoid to potential recruits </p> <blockquote><p>…it leads to a lot of stereotyping as well…I remember coming out with anti-fracking stuff here in the last few years where you see some burly working-class looking men, two or more of them together. And everybody starts to…whisper to each other “there’s fucking cops here.” And it’s like, they could be trade unionists… the same cliches that make people think of cops apply to most working-class men. And so like these kinds of dynamics — and I’ve seen them, and again it’s hard to know because it’s rare that you actually — people get outted in a very visible way where there’s beyond shadow of a doubt that this is what’s going on here. But yeah, it does create certain kinds of stereotyping. And I think that is a really, really problematic thing for people who do action and want to create a world where we see each other as human beings and not just as the physical traits we might happen to embody. So I think it is definitely a serious impact.</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;Or again… </p> <blockquote><p>It’s like you sort of think of yourself in those positions. You start to look at the people around you differently. You start to think like “are — is there any way that this person who I’ve gotten along with could be something other than what they seem to be? Am I being suspicious of them because they fit certain descriptions, in which case, am I reinforcing certain negative stereotypes?” It leads to self-doubt and all these cycles that kind of come along with it aren’t the same as the way you respond to, like, x number of people have had their phones tapped, uh or that kind of, that kind of level of thing.</p></blockquote> <h2><strong>Countermeasures and impacts </strong></h2> <p>As we have argued up to this point, the activists who contributed to this study weren’t naive about surveillance. But they did tend to be focused quite narrowly on a particular set of concerns seen as immediately relevant to performing their actions, and they were somewhat sceptical of speculating more generally on the subject.&nbsp; Activists engaging in civil disobedience have in fact sought to develop ways of working which try to minimise the need for operational security while encouraging openness where possible, encouraging people to participate without necessarily having to all take elaborate precautions. </p><p>Indeed security thinking of enterprises like Climate Camp was specifically premised on the idea that infiltration and surveillance were unavoidable facts of life, and that operating procedures therefore had to rely on keeping as little secret as possible. </p> <blockquote><p>…from the start, there was this acknowledgment of ‘we are infiltrated, it’s just a fact’; that anything we put online is being read by somebody; anything we say in an openly advertised meeting is being listened to by somebody; that either there’s a cop in the room or someone who is being put under pressure by the police to feed information… or there would be some sort of listening device outside or in the room. That was built in to the planning of the climate camp from the beginning, in that there was this secret group called the ‘land group’ whose job it was to find the land, who were absolutely secret. No one in the open meetings knew who they were. Only they knew who they were. And it was always a bit of a mystery how this group was selected; but then that’s how it was meant to be. I think it was kind of self-selected, as a group of people who trusted each other, got together and were like ‘well we’ll trust each other, we’re up for this, we know what we’re doing and we’ll be the land group’ and then would communicate with everyone else by passing notes. The idea was that it was up to the rest of the network to trust that group to do the one thing about the climate camp that had to be kept top secret, which was choosing the precise location. So all the network as a whole could decide what the overall target was, whether that was going to be Kings North Power Station or Heathrow Airport or whatever it might be, where exactly the camp appeared, you know on what specific patch of land it would pop up, would be up to that secret group to organise, very secretly, separate from everyone else, in their own way and in their own time.</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;The extraordinary level of trust which the climate justice movement’s ‘secret hierarchy’ had been able to acquire meant that it could largely offset the limitations of operational security by mobilising volunteers en masse at a moment’s notice on the basis of very sketchy information. On the eve of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station action at which police, tipped off by infiltrator Mark Kennedy, carried out a mass arrest of 114 activists: </p><blockquote><p>…it’s a sign of the level of strength in the networks at that stage that over a hundred people turned up, you know on that promise, without even knowing what the action was, just like they <em>trusted</em> these networks, they trusted this, this action movement to just come and go ‘right I guess I’ll come and find out’.</p></blockquote> <p>Where activist networks find themselves geographically dispersed, and perhaps lacking the momentum described above, secure telecommunications presumably become less dispensable. It is certainly the case that some activists do attempt to use secure encrypted communications tools. We have already encountered a reference to activists using ‘secure online forums’. Specifically, encrypted social networking site ‘crabtree’, encrypted email service ‘riseup’ and phone privacy guard ‘applock’ were mentioned in the interviews, as well as, reportedly, nearly ubiquitous use of ToR in at least some circles. </p> <p>How widespread take up actually is may be open to question, however. In the survey, 70% assumed that they were under surveillance, and 89% did not think that unencrypted online communications were safe. And yet only 17% said that they habitually used encryption. And this was despite the fact that small but appreciable numbers specifically identified surveillance as a direct problem for activism.&nbsp; 32% believed that surveillance had in some sense obstructed what they were trying to achieve. A fifth said that surveillance concerns had specifically led them to abandon an action, while 17% said that they had changed the type of concerns their group had over the past five years. 21% believed that their group had lost members due to surveillance concerns. </p> <p>Moreover, according to accounts provided in the interviews, it is unclear that activists are making more use of secure communication tools. On the contrary, there are clear suggestions that trust in such methods is in decline, at least for some. And rather than finding successful workarounds, the resulting communications breakdown can lead at least in some cases to actions ceasing altogether. </p> <blockquote><p>…there were a couple within the last eighteen months where online stuff — because you can’t, with jobs you can’t do the traveling, so if you can’t do the traveling and you can’t communicate online then you’re fucked. And we tried things like clean phone networks that you turn on at specific times of day and it just — people can’t — that doesn't work with people’s jobs… another specific example is that I think we used to use Skype a lot to organise and now no-one would ever use Skype for anything remotely confidential after, I think it was a court case in Germany when Skype handed over a load of information. People would have used Riseup email service but now people wouldn’t want to use any email... after one person’s computer got taken by the police after Oxford Airport action.</p></blockquote> <p>Seeking any alternative to mobile phone or Internet communications, activists told us they had fallen back on landline based phone trees, on the postal service or, in some cases, proposed actions had simply fallen through. Lack of information security was also seen as having a qualitative impact on political actions, impacting on aspects of planning, as in this account: </p> <blockquote><p>…But since then I think I’ve not wanted to use email in that way before direct action and that actually makes it difficult to plan because for me…for me, one of the reasons I get involved with direct action, one of the main reasons, is because of the potential for media interest. And so for me it is really important, usually, depends on the action, but usually, to try and sort out a press release talking about it as soon as it’s happened. And so if you can’t draft a press release and agree on press release in advance, if people say things like “oh well, we’ll just have to agree on a press release after it’s happened,” and then you send a press release out after it’s happened and it’s all too late you know, um, it actually makes it…harder to do, to plan sort of media work around the action. </p></blockquote> <p>Or on internal democracy…&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><p>And actually, sometimes I think that has affected how we’ve done it. It’s affected it in terms of making the media work a lot less effective, and sometimes I think if we’d talked about it by email and or phone, if then the police had known about it, if the police had turned up and arrested everybody straight away or whatever, even then we’d have had more effective media coverage than we do if they didn’t know about it but we couldn’t actually talk about how to contact the media. Um, so I think it does — and things would have been a lot better planned sometimes. And also I think there’s been cases I’ve known of where it actually has an undemocratic effect because you can’t talk about it all together, you have one or two people planning all the details and everybody else just has to fit in. So it has the effect of making the planning of the action less democratic. </p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;Another, somewhat subtler impact, which has also been remarked on in a previous study of American groups, but according to this interviewee extends beyond activist circles seems to relate to the loss of the internet as a space for creative deliberation and archiving of collective memory. </p> <blockquote><p>I think there is a general cultural shift, just with digital media, that may be the case among activists: that people just know now that written, anything recordable communication is best avoided in life. If you say anything particularly dangerous you know, just don’t write it down or say it over the phone… people don’t think out loud in email any more.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Could activists have obviated some of these problems by investing more time and effort in online security? To some extent, activists’ fatalism seems understandable. Even the most apparently bulletproof system may turn out to have been secretly compromised. And even if it hasn’t been, it is no defence against human infiltration. </p></blockquote><blockquote><p>What they’ve [activists] got is an understanding that everything, because of GCHQ, is recorded. And almost, in a way, it’s like a “Well, you know. Sod it. We know this now.” You know what I mean? And people have just given up on trying to be secure. A lot of people I know have just given up. And then you’ve got the hard core live on camp types here like, you know. They’re taking — they’re becoming a smaller and smaller minority because just no one can organise without this technology now. So we just make the compromise and say “Well at least we know now for sure. We’re not being paranoiac that everything’s being recorded and you know, we’re just going to have to live with that.</p></blockquote> <p>As the confidence of seasoned activists in their ability to organise secretly is seemingly eroded, new recruits are described as ever more wedded to online mobilisation strategies premised on open sharing of information. </p> <blockquote><p>[Today] there’s no pretense of anonymity. People are really happy to go on Facebook and organise things. The groups I was in stuck to email lists and closed forums on secure services, but it’s the way we organised online. And even that some people weren’t quite comfortable with. If there was anything you wanted to keep secret you just didn’t put it on the internet; it didn’t go in an email, it didn’t go on a forum, um, and you’d just communicate face to face. Whereas now, if people organise a protest they’ll set up a Facebook group and that will be the entire organisational platform - a Facebook group or a hashtag. People don’t organise from email lists anymore. Even though email lists were not particularly secure. It would at least, you know — the police can just go look in the Facebook group and there’s everyone saying “oh let’s go do this, let’s do this.” </p></blockquote> <p>Where is all this leading? One account, intriguingly seemed to point towards the emergence of a new paradigm premised on even greater reliance on openness, mass action and rapidity. </p> <blockquote><p>…some of the, actually, most successful direct actions I’ve been involved with, um, have gone completely the opposite way, I mean totally open about what’s going on. And somehow by just sheer numbers of people or police indifference or whatever, managed to pull something off. Like, for example, uh, blockading Faslane this year the police were incredibly attentive and the date was totally public and had been six months or something like that. And even the night before people were making very specific plans. People were taking like selfies of themselves with lock on shoes and stuff like that. I’ve never seen anything like that before, the brazenness of it. So that was totally different to my past experiences of being very careful about what you say and do online and that kind of thing.</p></blockquote> <p>Whether action of this kind represents a genuinely new approach, perhaps in line with the scholarly theory of ‘connective action’, or simply a new iteration in the cycle of ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ openness, arrests and intimidation followed by increased attempts at operational security remains to be seen. &nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>It is important to stress that the infiltration and disruption experienced by contemporary protest movements in the UK is not a new phenomenon. The use of wire-tapping, undercover agents and the like has a long pedigree in the UK, although the principal targets have shifted over time. Indeed, an interesting point raised at our workshop was the idea that the British state’s periodic shifts of security focus may in themselves have inhibited the emergence of a robust security culture in different dissident milieus. More generally, the use of methods of this sort is widely attested in other democratic and ostensibly liberal states in both Europe and the US. </p> <p>This is not a justification of these practices. It is now very clear that intelligence gathering on peaceful protest groups in the UK has often been clearly disproportionate and in many cases very probably illegal. These judgments are, however, beyond the immediate scope of this report. </p> <p>Moving away from idealised notions of how democratic states work, we can see the struggles between protest movements and the state (as well as other so-called ‘polity members’) in terms of an ongoing arms race in which the state seeks by a variety of means, some above board, and others clearly less so, to repress radical protest, while protestors in turn seek to challenge the state, sometimes resorting to practices of civil disobedience or direct action which involve breaking the law and, to that extent, understandably attracting the attention of law enforcement. </p> <p>The real question that arises in considering the impact of the state’s contemporary surveillance capabilities and practices is not so much whether the state does spy on activists, or even whether it can be relied on not to overstep clear legal and moral limits in doing so. The question is whether activists are able to adapt as the state adapts and, in doing so, to keep open a space for radical protest within the overall political ecosystem. </p> <p>We believe that the research reported in this paper raises troubling questions as to whether this is the case. While protest and direct action in the UK is far from dead (the recent dramatic revival of direct action against climate change is a case in point), it appears that activists are continuing to rely on tried and tested methods of organisation which, while potentially very effective, are not designed to counteract forms of surveillance and disruption which are likely to become increasingly routine parts of the state toolkit as we move deeper into the information age.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Della Porta, D. (2007). <em>The Global Justice Movement</em>. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> Tactical Technology Collective - groups - Crabgrass. (2016). <em>We.riseup.net</em>. Retrieved May 7, 2016, from &lt;https://we.riseup.net/tacticaltech&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> Ball, J. &amp; Ackerman, S. (2014). Optic Nerve: Millions of yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ. <em>The Guardian</em>. McAskill, E., Borger, J., Hopkins, N., Davies, N., &amp; Ball, J. (2013). GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications. <em>The Guardian</em>, </p> <p><a href="http://www.dcssproject.net/tempora/https:/theintercept.com/document/2015/09/25/broadcast-analysis/">http://www.dcssproject.net/tempora/https://theintercept.com/document/2015/09/25/broadcast-analysis/</a>; Martin, A. (2015). Karma Police: GCHQ spies on every web user ever. <em>The Register</em>. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> Anderson QC, D. (2015). <em>A Question of Trust: Report of the Investigatory Powers Review</em>. Her Majesty's Stationery Office.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill,. (2016). <em>Draft Investigatory Powers Bill</em>. London: HM Stationery Office. Retrieved May 8, 2016, from &lt;http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201516/jtselect/jtinvpowers/93/93.pdf&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> Bowcott, O. (2016). Investigatory powers bill not fit for purpose say 200 senior lawyers. <em>The Guardian</em>.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> Rt Hon David Davis MP » David Davis calls for an inquiry into the surveillance state. (2016). <em>Daviddavismp.com</em>. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from &lt;http://www.daviddavismp.com/david-davis-calls-for-an-inquiry-into-the-surveillance-state/&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> Barnett, A. (2016). Surveillance, the British and US debates compared. <em>openDemocracy</em>. Retrieved May 8, 2016, from &lt;https://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/surveillance-british-and-us-debates-compared&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> Bakir, V., Cable, J., Dencik, L., Hintz, A., &amp; McStay, A. (2015). <em>Public Feeling on Privacy, Security and Surveillance</em>. Cardiff: Bangor University, Cardiff University. Retrieved May 8, 2016, from &lt;https://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/dcssproject/files/2015/11/Public-Feeling-on-Privacy-Security-Surveillance-DATAPSST-DCSS-Nov2015.pdf&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> In the questionnaire, activists were asked at an early stage to identify a primary ‘group’, which served as the subject of some of the subsequent questions. This was defined to include loose affinity groups and networks as well as formal organisations.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11">[11]</a> For an accessible overview of these issues, see Schneier, B. (2015). <em>Data and Goliath</em>. New York: W.W. Norton.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12">[12]</a> The Intercept. (2016). <em>The Intercept</em>. Retrieved May 8, 2016, from &lt;https://theintercept.com/document/2015/06/22/behavioural-science-support-jtrig/&gt;</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13">[13]</a> Police use of Forward Intelligence Teams has led to the creation of a specific organisation, Fitwatch, to campaign against them and offer activists advice on how to avoid being incriminated by them. http://www.fitwatch.org.uk/</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref14">[14]</a> EDF was ultimately cleared of direct involvement, on the grounds that it was not fully aware of the actions of the private security firm it hired. Boxell, J. (2013). Court clears EDF of Greenpeace Hacking. <em>Financial Times</em>.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref15">[15]</a> Evans, R. &amp; Lewis, P. (2013). <em>Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police</em>. London: Guardian-Faber.</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/gilbert-ramsay/has-generation-of-activists-given-in-to-surveillance">Has a generation of activists given in to surveillance?</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 digitaLiberties Can Europe make it? uk Activist Surveillance Sarah Marsden Adam Ramsay Gilbert Ramsay Mon, 23 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Sarah Marsden, Adam Ramsay and Gilbert Ramsay 102350 at https://opendemocracy.net Dear Liberal Democrats https://opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/dear-liberal-democrats <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the second of a series of letters to progressive political parties, the Compass chair encourages the Lib Dems to pick a side, and show why they are needed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Tim_Farron_Glasgow_2014.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Tim_Farron_Glasgow_2014.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tim Farron, By Keith Edkins - own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.</span></span></span>Dear Liberal Democrats, </p> <p>This is one a series of letters to the progressive parties. I know you didn’t ask me to write but hope you will read it with the same emotion as it was written, a spirit of generosity, hope, realism and just a bit of frustration.&nbsp; </p> <p>So, it’s one year on from the election and where are you? Recent results were mixed. In some councils you won back seats but in London and Wales little headway was made. Maybe bottoming out is a success – I can see that. But I can also see the potential for you to grow and be a huge part of the political and electoral force a progressive Britain needs. What is the strategy to do that? </p> <p>Let me start from the fundamentals. Liberalism matters. To be liberal is to be open, to cherish freedom and start politics from the only place we can – from us as people in all our wonderful diversity. Of course liberalism can go one of two ways – you can be a neoliberal and worship the market or you can be a social liberal and recognize that we only make sense as individuals within a social context. For me it’s the role of the social liberals that is crucial to the future of progressive politics. Indeed is there any real difference between social liberalism and liberal socialism? Someone once wrote that socialism is organized liberalism. I concur. &nbsp;</p> <p>Of course some would like to dismiss you completely. They think you committed the unforgivable sin of going into coalition with the Tories and have no place in a progressive future. There are two reasons why they are wrong. First, on entirely pragmatic grounds other progressives need you to do well in 2020. In a number of seats, especially in the south west, only you can defeat the Tories. Some would rather see the Tories win than work with you. Shame on them. Absolute certainty in the singular and unique role of any one party is the politics of the past. The only way we meet the complexity of the 21st century is with an equally complex and yes liberal response. Yes we are members of different and proud tribes – but we must all be open tribes, willing to learn and work with each other.&nbsp; Otherwise there is only one result – Tory hegemony.&nbsp; </p> <p>But second, the nation should have much more sympathy for your plight and give some guarded thanks to the fact that you actually entered into a coalition – as we now see what unfettered Toryism looks like. Back in 2010 the nation voted for a coalition or minority government. Labour was too tired and too lost to work with you. It stepped away from power. The choice was a stable government via a coalition or vote by vote rule until, is was presumed by everyone, the Tory war chest would see them through to an outright win within months. And as a centre party cruelly denied the seats your votes warranted what were you supposed to do when the fleeting chance for influence happened? Some Lib Dems understandably too didn’t want to do a deal with the Tories and left or went into internal opposition. </p> <p>Your record in government was mixed but the people’s verdict wasn’t. Like smaller coalition partners the world over – you got smashed. All of this is clear. But the verdict on you has to be more mixed, you deserve some credit (scrapping ID cards, same sex marriage, tax reform and more) and some blame.&nbsp; </p><p>But what have you done in the last 12 months? I don’t follow every twist and turn of your party, I look on an as sympathetic and interested outsider. But I cannot recall one article or one speech that has really stood out and tried to get to grips with the scale of your defeat or the role of liberalism in the 21st century. I admire your ability to lick your wounds and just get on with ‘operation fight back’. But has there been a big debate, an inquest and a series of lessons learnt? </p> <p>Of course column inches let alone broadcast coverage is tough for the nations joint-fourth biggest party based on seats. But even so! Tim Farron, whose heart I think beats to the left, has been virtually absent from the national stage. I’m sure it not for want of trying. But if Caroline Lucas can make some waves surely he can say something to gain interest? But then what is the strategy? Over the first part of last summer he was pitching to the left of Labour. Then came the Corbyn Surge and he started pitching to the right of Labour hoping for defections that never came. Are you a party of the centre-left or centre-right?</p> <p>And this is the key point. It seems you remain stubbornly equidistant, like hired guns who will side with anyone if the price is right. But you must surely have a preference? How can it be otherwise for the party of Gladstone, Keynes, Beveridge, Grimond, Williams and Kennedy? I understand that on some important issues like civil liberties, some Tories are more progressive than many people in Labour. This is to be lamented and changed. And of course if Labour refuses again to form an alliance with you there will be no choice if no clear winner emerges in 2020. But you must tell the nation what you would prefer before they vote for you. Otherwise no one from the left will lend you their vote. It means you have to stop being everything to everyone. But the game is up for any party that mixes its messages in an age of social media. And the prize of setting out a clear vision and set of polices for a social liberal future could be huge. The days of the remote state and free market are receding fast. Your deep commitment to a good Europe and sustainability flow with the tide of history too. When I attend your conference and events I feel at home, we want broadly the same things. Let’s work on that sentiment. </p> <p>Look, believe me, I know all the problems of Labour. But the party is starting to shift on key issues. An Opposition led Constitutional Convention would let all progressive parties work together to shape a new democracy. Labour is edging faster to support proportional representation with strong support from John McDonnell and growing support in the unions. Labour and Liberal Democrats are working hard to keep Britain in Europe. We all want much more social justice and sustainability. Of course in 30 years time you might have counted enough cracked paving stones to get a foothold back in local politics. But who can now wait that long?&nbsp; </p><p class="mag-quote-center">in 30 years time you might have counted enough cracked paving stones to get a foothold back in local politics"</p> <p>So come on, define the new liberalism for our new times and commit yourself now to help build a progressive alliance with Labour in its new guise, the Greens and the SNP based on a joint mandate to ditch our wretched and unjust electoral system and a commitment to an economy that works for everyone. The prize of a progressive century lies ahead of us. A strong social liberalism is key to that future – but you are going to have to be brave to make it happen. But I’m unsure there is an option. Good luck. <a href="http://support.compassonline.org.uk/">Compass</a> is here to help. We are with you. </p> <p>My best, always</p> <p>Neal </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/neal-lawson/dear-greens">Dear Greens</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 Neal Lawson Mon, 23 May 2016 15:45:00 +0000 Neal Lawson 102326 at https://opendemocracy.net G4S suspends 5 staff over alleged attempts to massage 999 response figures https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-suspends-5-staff-over-alleged-attempts-to-massage-999-response-fig <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Commercial partners G4S and Lincolnshire Police are jointly investigating fake emergency calls that made outsourcing look good.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three years ago the security company G4S boasted that it had radically improved emergency call handling times for Lincolnshire Police.&nbsp;</p><p>John Shaw, managing director for G4S policing support services, which took over the bulk of Lincolnshire’s operations in 2012,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-22338332">told the BBC</a>&nbsp;that with G4S involved: “Hopefully the service people get from the police is as good as it was, if not better.”</p><p>Today G4S admitted that it had suspended 5 members of staff working with Lincolnshire Police “following an investigation led by the force with support from G4S”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Screenshot 2016-05-23 16.15.01-.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>2013: G4S boasts of improved performance on 999 calls</span></span></span></p> <p>G4S claimed it was cooperating with an investigation into “allegations that members of staff in the force control room made repeated 999 'test calls' at quiet times to improve perceived overall call handling performance.”</p> <p>Again John Shaw popped up, this time to <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2016/05/23/G4S%20disciplinary%20action%20against%20staff%20at%20Lincolnshire%20Police/">reassure the public</a>: “We have suspended 5 employees today and have taken swift action to begin our investigation process,” he said.</p> <p>Shaw claimed he was “dismayed that this group of staff sought to influence important performance measurements. We continue to work closely with the force and share any data and other information required.”</p> <p>Should the public trust G4S and Lincolnshire police to investigate? </p><p>Perhaps not. </p><p>The pair are commercial partners in a groundbreaking outsourcing contract, worth £200 million over ten years.</p><p>Just a few years ago G4S and its competitor Serco were caught <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/ellie-butt/g4s-serco-fraud-oops-we-couldnt-tell-difference-between-right-and-wrong">cheating the public purse out of tens of millions of pounds</a> on electronic tagging contracts.</p> <p>And the&nbsp;“world’s largest security company”&nbsp;&nbsp;has a long history of blaming rogue employees for corporate wrongdoing.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S-Lincolnshire-Police-Epaulette.jpg" alt="" title="" width="200" height="208" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S Lincolnshire police epaulette</span></span></span></p><p>After G4S <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsourcer">cooked a prisoner to death</a> in the back of an overheated van in Western Australia in January 2008, the company tried to lay the blame on two detainee custody officers.</p> <p>When the Western Australia <a href="http://www.safecom.org.au/pdfs/ward-inquest2009-alastair_hope-findings.pdf">State Coroner</a> found in June 2009 that the State, the company and the workers had all contributed to the man’s death, Tim Hall, G4S’s mouthpiece in Australia, insisted on national television that the company’s procedures “<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2599566.htm">were not totally inadequate. Why this incident happened was because two officers disobeyed an instruction they were given to stop every two hours</a>.”</p> <p>G4S and other outsourcers use performance figures to push the case for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.g4s.com/en/Media%20Centre/News/2013/06/24/UK%20Policing%20Support%20Services/">outsourced public services</a>. Today’s revelations suggest that every one of G4S’s performance-related claims should be subjected to renewed, strict and independent scrutiny.</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="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/corporate-power-stamps-its-brand-on-british-policing">Corporate Power stamps its brand on British Policing </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/who-should-investigate-murder-%E2%80%94-police-or-private-security-company-0">Who should investigate murder — the police, or a private security company?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/olympic-bunglers-g4s-recruit-for-hillsborough-inquiry">Olympic bunglers G4S recruit for Hillsborough inquiry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsourcer">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</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 G4S: Securing whose world? Care and justice Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Mon, 23 May 2016 15:31:54 +0000 Clare Sambrook 102348 at https://opendemocracy.net A roadmap for the BBC’s support of local journalism https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/dan-hind/roadmap-for-bbc-s-support-of-local-journalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Instead of strengthening the UK’s local news monopolies, here’s how the BBC could support civic journalism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3372128217_ac7ba9018e_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3372128217_ac7ba9018e_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>NUJ Protest in Norwich against Archant's staff cuts. Credit: Roger Blackwell</span></span></span></span></p><p><span>The </span><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/524863/DCMS_A_BBC_for_the_future_linked_rev1.pdf">White Paper on the future of the BBC</a><span> published on May 12</span><span>th</span><span>&nbsp;notes that the corporation has made a number of proposals to establish ‘a positive partnership with the local news sector’. These include a ‘Local Public Sector Reporting Service’, which would ‘report on local institutions.’</span></p> <p>The BBC has <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2016/bbc-nma-partnership">already indicated</a> that it intends to fund 150 journalists to work in the local and regional sectors. This means that from next year a population of around 400,000 people – a city the size of Bristol, say - could expect to have a journalist reporting full time on local government and other public sector institutions.</p> <p>The government ‘welcomes’ this and other moves but ‘recognises that these plans will need to be implemented in consultation with industry’. Rather more ominously the White Paper says that ‘we expect to see a positive partnership with the local news sector’. </p> <p>It goes on to say that ‘in particular there are details about the Local Public Sector Reporting Service which still need to be resolved’. It notes that the BBC ‘has been working with the News Media Association (NMA) to develop proposals and good progress has been made in agreeing the principles of such a service that sees the BBC providing some funding for local journalists to provide reporting for use by the BBC and other news providers.’</p><p>The NMA <a href="http://www.newsmediauk.org/About">describes itself</a> as a body that ‘exists to promote the interests of news media publishers to Government, regulatory authorities, industry bodies and other organisations whose work affects the industry.’ It doesn’t say exactly who these publishers are but its members include the chief executives of two of the largest local and regional newspaper groups; Johnston Press and Archant. These, and companies like them, are presumably what the White Paper means when it talks about ‘the local news sector’.</p> <p>According to the White Paper the local and regional press are facing ‘challenging times … in large part attributable to the increased role of the internet’. But the sector is not only under pressure from the internet. For one thing there is a troubling lack of competition. In 2012 <a href="http://www.mediareform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ElephantintheroomFinalfinal.pdf">researchers found</a> that in the overwhelming majority of Local Government Areas one company controls at least fifty percent of the market for daily newspapers. In over a third of them the companies’ dailies enjoy a total monopoly.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/media coverage Newsquest_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/media coverage Newsquest_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="595" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Newsquest</span></span></span></p> <p>Far from being a ‘key element of our plural media landscape’, as the government claims, local and regional news provision is characterised by the domination of a few companies based in London – or, in the case of Newsquest, in Tysons Corner, Virginia - and by the near-absence of meaningful competition.</p> <p>And yet <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2016/bbc-nma-partnership">the BBC proposes</a> to pay for journalists who will be ‘under the editorial direction and control of their employers’ as part of its ‘plans for a ground-breaking partnership’ with the New Media Association. That is, the journalists will be working for companies that enjoy effective monopolies in most of their markets. Connoisseurs of state-media coordination will be pleased to note that the BBC made this announcement on the day that the White Paper was published.</p> <p>If the aim really is to ‘provide a positive contribution to the diversity and quality of local news provision’ this is about the worst possible way of doing it. Local councils, and national governments for that matter, have enjoyed far too cosy a relationship with the media for far too long. The concentration of media power in Britain is inseparable from the pervasive problems of opacity and unaccountability that beset public life at all levels. By all means make television licence money available to support civic journalism, but do so in a way that helps local and national publics hold the institutions of power to account, including the monopoly publishers.</p> <p>The BBC could take the lead in this process of democratisation through an integrated exercise in deliberation and debate. The corporation would explore the principle of civic journalism through its news and current affairs programming, and, in partnership with its audiences, decide which geographical areas these journalists will cover.</p> <p>A medium-sized city like Bristol might have one journalist. Three local authority areas, for example Thanet, Dover and Canterbury in Kent, might share one. Greater Manchester would probably have six or seven, but there would have to be some thought given to how their responsibilities would be shared out.</p> <p>There would also be opportunities for the public to discuss the journalists’ terms of reference and their wider purposes. Mary Beard could explain how classical Athens would have felt about media monopolies, the problems of scale, and the principle of countervailing power. Perhaps we will decide that we want the journalists and their managers to be resident in the areas they cover. We might also want to oblige council-funded newspapers to print reports on their activities under defined circumstances. The idea of the local itself could be interrogated. We could learn a lot from examining the connections between, say, English local government and the offshore system.</p> <p>The BBC will then invite proposals from groups who want to deliver both reliable reporting of public institutions and effective scrutiny of their activities. The public would then vote, a bit like on <em>The X-Factor</em>, and the winner would receive a two-year term. If we can elect Police and Crime Commissioners we can also elect the bodies that will try to keep these and other public officials honest.</p> <p>The groups would have defined responsibilities to report on local government but would also perhaps have resources to develop their own lines of inquiry. A new or existing independent publisher could develop its reporting capacities and at the same time enhance its ability to conduct in-depth investigations. </p> <p>To begin with, the BBC ought to publish in full the minutes of its meetings with the NMA, including the sums it proposes to allocate to the project. It would be interesting to know what kind of money the monopoly publishers expect to receive for overhead and administration costs. A contestable, accountable and transparent method for allocating these funds might free up resources that would strengthen locally controlled and independent media operations. The BBC should also say who else it has been discussing the idea with, and explain how it will widen the consultation process to avoid the impression that a deal is being done behind closed doors to give guaranteed revenues to large and highly profitable companies.</p> <p>Meanwhile, independent media groups, universities and other interested civil society organizations might want to develop proposals for independent local media, and set out how BBC money might best be used to that end. Cities and regions could then build public support for a system that in turn supports local democracy. After all, if we cannot be bothered to agitate for accountable and effective media we probably don’t deserve to have them.</p> <p>The current mix of public and private provision is not working. But the solution is not to take money from the public and give it to private monopolies. Let’s instead use seed funding from the television licence to create or strengthen news organizations whose interests are aligned more closely with their publics’.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><span>&nbsp;</span><em>Dan Hind’s books include <strong>The Return of the Public: Democracy, Power and the Case for Media Reform </strong>and <strong>The Magic Kingdom: Property, Monarchy</strong> and <strong>Maximum Republic</strong>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</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> OurBeeb OurBeeb uk White Paper Funding and the Licence Fee Dan Hind Mon, 23 May 2016 11:46:39 +0000 Dan Hind 102332 at https://opendemocracy.net How long before the MOD’s flying panopticon starts spying on us? https://opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/zo-blackler/how-long-before-mod-s-flying-panopticon-starts-spying-on-us <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> 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SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Message Header" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Salutation" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Date" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Block Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="FollowedHyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Document Map" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Plain Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="E-mail Signature" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Top of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Bottom of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal (Web)" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Acronym" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Address" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Cite" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Code" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Definition" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Keyboard" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Preformatted" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Sample" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Typewriter" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Variable" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal Table" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation subject" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="No List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="41" Name="Plain Table 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="42" Name="Plain Table 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="43" Name="Plain Table 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="44" Name="Plain Table 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="45" Name="Plain Table 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="40" Name="Grid Table Light" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="List Table 1 Light Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="List Table 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="List Table 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="List Table 4 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="List Table 5 Dark Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="List Table 6 Colorful Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="List Table 7 Colorful Accent 6" ></w> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Tableau Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:FR-CH; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none; text-autospace: none;"><span style="font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-font-family: &amp;amp;amp;">Technologies developed by the military for use against foreign enemies have a habit of finding their way into the hands of civilian police forces.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/545816/picsurvaerial.jpg" alt="" title="Flickr/Warren Chrismas. Some rights reserved." width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Warren Chrismas. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>If you want to know how the UK came to be the most watched nation in the world, with CCTV on every corner, you need to go back to 1942: the now ubiquitous policing aid was first developed for use in missile testing by the German military.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Tear gas, GPS trackers, </span><span><a href="http://www.rawstory.com/2010/08/aclu-protests-torture-prisoners-pain-ray/"><span>pain rays</span></a></span><span> and </span><span><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/05/14/heres-looking-at-you"><span>surveillance drones</span></a></span><span> – technologies developed by the military for use against foreign enemies have a habit of finding their way into the hands of civilian police forces.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>So efforts by the UK’s Ministry of Defence to up its airborne surveillance capability warrant close attention. How long will it be before this technology is deployed against civilian populations, in the UK and across the world?</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In February, the ministry </span><span><a href="https://airbusdefenceandspace.com/newsroom/news-and-features/united-kingdom-ministry-of-defence-places-order-for-two-solar-powered-airbus-zephyr-8s/"><span>signed a deal</span></a></span><span> with giant defence contractor Airbus to acquire two Zephyr 8 high-altitude ‘pseudo-satellites’. The unmanned light-weight plane lies somewhere between a drone and a satellite.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Flying above the jet stream, the Zephyr will be far harder to detect and less vulnerable to attack than a low flying drone or manned surveillance plane. Unlike a satellite, it won’t be stuck in a fixed orbit but will be flown into position to hover over a fixed location; instead of watching from several miles up, at just 20,000 m it will pick up far greater detail on the ground. According to Airbus, the Zephyr 8 is also considerably cheaper than existing technology; it costs less to operate than a piloted plane and less to build than a satellite or drone.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Most crucially, if Airbus is to be believed (and some do </span><span><a href="http://arstechnica.co.uk/information-technology/2016/02/the-amazing-eternal-sun-drone-will-the-zephyr-shine-or-burn/"><span>doubt the claims</span></a></span><span>) the solar-powered Zephyr 8 will be able to stay airborne for weeks or even months, collecting surveillance images and video to beam down to land-based military base stations or acting as a communications relay. Last autumn, the MOD funded a further </span><span><a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cde-funded-contracts/cde-funded-contracts-1-april-2015-to-31-march-2016"><span>eleven projects</span></a></span><span> to produce the sort of light weight sensor and communications technology needed to work with the Zephyr, among them one by Roke Manor which is developing </span><span><a href="http://www.roke.co.uk/press/20151209-high-altitude-cellular-communications.html"><span>a novel way</span></a></span><span> to beam real-time images across large distances over the 3G phone network. The aim isn't just to benefit the UK's own military, but also to target lucrative markets in Western Europe, the Far East and the Pacific, South East Asia and the Middle East.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>If the Zephyr and support technologies work as hoped, the MOD will soon master persistent aerial surveillance, the ultimate goal. It will be able to watch and record, in precise detail, human activity taking place within a wide geographical area and over several weeks at a time.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>As a means of monitoring ISIS training camps, for example, this technology could prove invaluable. Border security, maritime security and high-value asset protection – for example, guarding pipelines and power stations – are other potential uses identified in a UK government </span><span><a href="http://www.slideshare.net/MOD_CDE/8-july-2015-persistent-surveillance-from-the-air-themed-competition"><span>briefing</span></a></span><span>. Civilian applications could also follow: Airbus for one is looking to potential customers like Google and Facebook to offer internet access to as-yet uncovered areas in the Global South and to large-scale farmers for help with crop monitoring.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Such uses could have substantial social and security benefits. But it’s not hard to imagine civilian police forces also taking an interest – a more worrying prospect. In fact, a form of wide area persistent surveillance has already been used by US law enforcement.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Last summer, Dayton Ohio gained </span><span><a href="http://www.radiolab.org/story/eye-sky/"><span>attention</span></a></span><span> for its use of an innovative crime investigation tool that sounds straight out of Minority Report. Every day, a small fleet of piloted surveillance planes, owned by private company Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS), circled the city indiscriminately gathering video of activity on the streets below. When the team at PSS received the daily crime log from the city’s police department, they searched their video for footage of the moment a crime was reported, moving back in time to spot the perpetrators and trace where they came from, and forward in time to follow them as they fled.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>PSS’s system, developed by entrepreneur Ross McNutt while working for the airforce in Afghanistan, has also conducted surveillance missions in Philadelphia, Compton, and along America’s southern border, as well as in cities in Mexico, Africa and the Middle East. By the end of the year, McNutt hopes to be running full time missions in at least three cities.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>McNutt is adamant the benefits of his system outweigh any privacy concerns. To date, he says, his company has witnessed 34 murders and triggered confessions that account for 75. During an operation in Juarez, Mexico, he says, PSS helped take down a drugs cartel. Starting from a police report of a man shot dead in an alley with no witnesses, his planes identified the killers and the emissaries who paid them, located two cartel headquarters and the kill squad’s headquarters, and tracked a major drug deal. Since such investigations require considerable time and resource, he says, there’s little risk of routine monitoring of regular citizens, who appear no larger than dots the size of a pixel.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>McNutt hasn’t managed to convince all his critics though. In response to protests by Dayton’s residents, opposed to be being persistently surveilled, the city council has now terminated its arrangement with his company. And while he would prefer to publicise all his surveillance activities, not least, he says, for their deterrent effect, there are some clients he is unable to name since they insist on working in secret.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>It’s this potential for clandestine domestic surveillance with its “collect it all” approach – or what the MOD terms “pattern of life” analysis – that we should watch out for as our military develops its persistent surveillance capacity. Once the Zephyr 8 comes online in 2017, it may only be a matter of time before these remote watching devices are turned towards civilians.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><em>This article has <a href="https://www.privacyinternational.org/node/837">previously appeared</a> on the Privacy International blog. Thanks go to the author and PI team for allowing us to republish it here.</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="/wfd/david-krivanek-dia-kayyali/street-surveillance-and-skyrocketing-self-defence">Street surveillance and skyrocketing self-defence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/jane-duncan/britain-s-investigatory-powers-bill-gift-to-securocrats-everywhere">Britain’s Investigatory Powers Bill: a gift to securocrats everywhere</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/digitaliberties/nils-mui-nieks/human-rights-in-europe-should-not-buckle-under-mass-surveillance">Human rights in Europe should not buckle under mass surveillance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/digitaliberties/haystack-film-interrogates-UK-spy-laws-scenes-of-reason">New film interrogates proposed UK spy laws</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 class="field-item odd"> United States </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> digitaLiberties digitaLiberties uk United States EU UK Zoë Blackler Mon, 23 May 2016 09:52:51 +0000 Zoë Blackler 102322 at https://opendemocracy.net Don’t be fooled: Brexit or Bremain, both want us to fear Turkey https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/julian-de-medeiros/don-t-be-fooled-brexit-or-bremain-both-want-us-to-fear-turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ironically, Britain’s PM did not counter the slanderous comments made against Turks, but instead sought to demonstrate that he too would prevent them from entering the country.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/GettyImages-493206630_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/GettyImages-493206630_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Turks are not invading Europe. They are securing its borders! German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Turkey. Getty images/ Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Following allegations by the British Vote Leave campaign that Turkish immigration to the UK poses a national security threat, the Brexit campaign headed up by Justice Secretary Michael Gove has come under attack for inciting racial prejudice. The idea underlying Vote Leave’s latest campaign poster, featuring a British passport folded to look like an open door, is that unless Britain leaves the EU, it will face a wave of unwanted and potentially dangerous Turkish immigrants. </p> <p>In a televised interview, David Cameron responded to the claims by reassuring voters that even if the UK remains in Europe, it will ‘veto’ Turkish accession. Ironically, the PM did not counter the slanderous comments made against Turks, but instead sought to demonstrate that he too would prevent them from entering the country. Both campaigns in the British referendum are appealing to anti-Turkish sentiment.</p> <p>But instead of taking a cynical approach to the latest iteration in the Brexit debate, let us examine in earnest some of the eccentricities of the framework in which the current arguments against Turkey are being made. By making three simple observations, I would suggest a blueprint for how we might best consider the entire Brexit debate as it enters its frantic final act. Not in trying to analyze anything from the point of view of politics, but how it articulates its stance towards the fantastic outcomes of staying or leaving. </p> <h2><strong>1: Turks are already a part of Europe</strong></h2> <p>First, we’ve entered the bizarre world of Brexit logic where the EU is both so awful that we would be best to wash our hands of it, yet in equal measure, the EU must be defended against Turkish immigrants, who would spoil it all – so the leave campaigners would have us believe. </p> <p>To counter this argument, the Tories point out that the Turks are already among us and that (contrary to expectations, it is implied) they are indeed ‘law-abiding’ ‘industrious’ citizens. Despite the somewhat patronizing tone of such rhetoric, it is undeniable that indeed Turks already live and work in Britain, and have hitherto gone largely unnoticed by English politicians. <span class="mag-quote-right">&nbsp;Instead, the backlash against the Brexit allegations has emphasized, not that Turks should be integrated, but that they would be denied entry even if the UK remains in the EU. </span></p> <p>Yet even though an estimated 500,000 people of Turkish origin live in the UK, the majority of Turks living in the UK are Turkish Cypriots, and not mainland Turks. While Turkish and British statistics on the matter differ (in 2011 Davotoglu claimed that 400,000 Turks live in the UK) the Brexit allegations focus largely on an imagined influx of mainland Turkish refugees, and neglect the diverse presence of Bulgarian, Cypriot, and Western Thrace Turks already residing in the UK, many of whom have lived here for several decades. To paint the arrival of Turks in the UK as a new phenomenon is simply false. Rather, it would appear that the spectre of Turkish immigration is being cast as a way to play upon xenophobic prejudice. </p> <p>Yet recent retorts to such tactics have done little to diminish the image of Turkey as a threat to the UK. In fact, much of the rebuttal to the Brexit stance towards Turks and Turkey has focused on re-emphasizing Britain’s reluctance to embrace Turkish accession to the EU. Instead, the backlash against the Brexit allegations has emphasized, not that Turks should be integrated, but that they would be denied entry even if the UK remains in the EU. </p> <h2><strong>2: Both sides in the referendum debate employ fear-mongering tactics</strong></h2> <p>The antinomy of the ‘leave’ and ‘stay’ vote, and in particular its impact on the Turkish accession process, therefore appears negligible. Yet in the shared fear-mongering against Turkey we can infer a core characteristic of the EU referendum debate, which has become so utterly fixated on pointing out spectral outcomes. As a result, the promised apocalypses of either side become increasingly identical even as they grow in spectacle. </p> <p>One might easily imagine the stay and leave campaign managers as Hollywood producers deliberating in a downtown LA office whether the next disaster film should be a financial meltdown sending the UK into a pre-industrial stone age, or instead a scenario in which the UK is besieged by ferocious Ottomans, not braying at the siege of Vienna, but clambering up the chalk shores of Cornwall.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-left">In vilifying Turkish immigrants, one might well say that the Brexit campaign has made its most ‘European’ argument yet, already commonplace among the far right in continental Europe.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>As the ‘IN’ campaign struggles to formulate a response to Brexit allegations that the EU has wavered in its relationship to Turkey, allowing itself to be held hostage to the whims of President Erdogan, we must also point out that the conversation on Turkish integration or lack thereof into the EU is perhaps among the oldest of European dilemmas. In fact, in vilifying Turkish immigrants, one might well say that the Brexit campaign has made its most ‘European’ argument yet. After all the European sense of identity has become near synonymous with a fear of the immigrant other, and to treat Turkish immigrants with suspicion is already commonplace among the far right in continental Europe.&nbsp; </p> <p>In the Brexit debate, we therefore encounter an uncanny vacuity, a sense of stagnation that in its very lack of resolution has given animus and hence justification to all kinds of political prejudice. There is something distinctly ‘modern’ in the concept of a referendum, specifically as the debate unfolds with a certain cynical acceptance that the outcome will not have any actual effect on the status quo. As the scale of promised calamities grows, so too does the disbelief that any of it will come to pass. </p> <p>The reality is that if the UK leaves Europe, an army of lawyers will be called upon to renegotiate everything from cell phone rates to the price of cucumbers. This is hardly a riveting premise by which to entice people to vote for leaving Europe. Tempting as it is, the idea of a non-European Britain is hardly one of self-regulating pastures and heritage idyll. </p> <p>Seen in this light, it is only natural that the Brexit campaign would seek to focus on that age-old prejudice of the villainous and exotic Turk (hence the crime- and birth rates being touted as reasons against Turkey’s accession, i.e. they kill and multiply!) rather than formulating what a non-European Britain would actually look like. </p> <h2><strong>3: Turkey has already become part of the EU security apparatus</strong></h2> <p>Let us be clear. Turks are not invading Europe. They are securing its borders! Surely the current relationship with Turkey provides an unprecedented and perverse proof that the criticism of <em>Fortress Europe</em> was accurate, if not prescient. <span class="mag-quote-right">The majority of comment on the UK’s relationship to Europe already consists of making the EU <em>seem</em> either more or less viable instead of actually coming up with new ideas to make it <em>be</em> more viable.</span></p> <p>There is a ludicrous banality to the entire debate on whether or not some Turks are supposedly ‘industrious’ or on the other hand ‘villainous’. Turkey is already being integrated, not culturally, but rather within the EU’s security apparatus. Why then employ xenophobic tactics towards Turks, when the same Turks are already gainfully employed in keeping Syrians out of Europe? </p> <p>To argue then that the UK should leave Europe to safeguard against Turkish accession, fails to identify that the EU itself is the strongest critic of such an accession. Indeed, the longer the UK remains in the EU, the less likely that Turkey will become a member, as David Cameron has already scrambled to demonstrate to British voters, even accusing his Defence Minister of ‘lying’ about whether or not he wields the influence to do so. </p> <p>So while coming to the defence of Turks in the UK, the Prime Minister is equally reassuring voters that accession will never come to pass. On Sunday morning, he announced that if the EU’s accession process continued at the current pace, it would take at least ‘until the year 3000’. Ironically, this confirms exactly the Brexit campaign’s chief accusation, which is that the EU is a stagnant and inefficient regulatory monster. </p> <p>In the Brexit campaign there can surely be no such thing as a new idea, but only ones that are measured by the extent to which they reject the old. Among these, xenophobic fear-mongering is hardly a new tactic, and not an exclusively European one. Even if Brexit succeeds, new enemies will be created. One is reminded here of an old Jewish joke. Two men are walking together, when one of them points to a bearded man cross the street. “See that man? He may have a beard. But I know for a fact that underneath it he is entirely clean-shaven!” </p> <p>In light of the increasingly conspiratorial tone of the Brexit allegations, one thing is already certain. And that is that when the history of the EU is written, it will focus not on its political or economic realities, but instead on the myriad ways in which the project was either vilified or justified. The majority of comment on the UK’s relationship to Europe already consists of making the EU <em>seem</em> either more or less viable instead of actually coming up with new ideas to make it <em>be</em> more viable. </p> <p>In the xenophobic allegations against Turks and Turkey, we are reminded of a humorous variation on Schrödinger’s cat – which we should remember was simultaneously <em>dead</em> and <em>alive</em>. &nbsp;Already, the same principle is being applied to the immigrant in xenophobic logic, who sits on the couch all day long on benefits, while simultaneously stealing jobs from British workers. </p> <p>As the EU referendum looms, we can now add a distinctly European variation to this paradox. One in which Turkey is both invading Europe, while simultaneously defending it. In this, finally, the leave campaign contains at least a kernel of truth: the EU’s current relationship to Turkey is not only unsustainable, it is deeply contradictory. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nils-mui-nieks/eu-turkey-deal-statement-by-nils-muiznieks-council-of-europe-commi">EU-Turkey deal </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bulent-gokay/eu-referendum-most-important-decision-of-our-times">EU referendum - most important decision of our times? Really?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jeremy-fox/brexit-bunkum">Brexit Bunkum </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 class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk Turkey EU UK Civil society Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Brexit Chasms Brexit2016 Turkish Dawn Julian de Medeiros Turkey-EU deal Mon, 23 May 2016 04:38:23 +0000 Julian de Medeiros 102316 at https://opendemocracy.net Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/asylum-seekers-with-red-doors-are-still-being-targeted-by-racists <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Regardless of government orders and promises to Parliament, UK property company Jomast carries on putting asylum tenants at risk.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SAFE AS HOUSES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SAFE AS HOUSES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="229" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Safe as houses: red door, repainted door, arson attack door, Friday 20 May 2016</span></span></span></p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Asylum seekers living in the north east of England report that they have suffered racist abuse, thanks to their landlord making them an easy target by painting their door red. </p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Their landlord is Stuart Monk, owner of Jomast, one of <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/who-jomast-urban-regeneration-specialist-10760920">Teesside’s most powerful companies</a>, a company which earned the Monk family £175 million last year.&nbsp;Jomast is the sole sub-contractor for G4S in the North East of England. G4S was given part of the Home Office £620m UK wide COMPASS asylum housing contract in 2012.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Jomast’s practice of painting asylum seekers’ doors red in Middlesbrough and Teesside was exposed in a &nbsp;<a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4669721.ece">front page story in The Times</a> “Apartheid on Streets of Britain” on 20 January this year. James Brokenshire, the Home Office minister responsible for the COMPASS contracts immediately went to the House of Commons <a href="http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/12cab491-2c5b-4390-80a2-2c4a9e4b03c9?in=12:56:39">and assured MPs</a> that there would be an inquiry into Jomast’s asylum housing and that the doors would be repainted. Jomast boss Stuart Monk said on 26 January, when he was grilled by the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, it would be done in “two weeks”. </p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">That hasn’t happened.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">At dawn on Friday 20 May Esmé Madill,&nbsp;a volunteer working with asylum seekers, received a message from James (not his real name), an Iraqi asylum seeker who had fled Isis in Mosul and was now in a Jomast asylum house in Stockton-On-Tees. His house had a red door.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">James said that “racists at 3.40 a.m. this morning had banged on our door”. The gang were part of a family who, James said, lived “near our house and are very racist, they tried many, many times to bother us because we are asylum seekers.” James said that a friend, a refugee from Darfur, had his house windows broken by stones from the family. “He complained five times about this English family but the police did nothing.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">James finished his message: “I am so worried about this issue, it’s awful, because we fled from Isis to seek sanctuary here, not to face racism, the Jomast door is still painted a red colour.”</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door pre copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door pre copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Red door, Friday 3.15pm</span></span></span></p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">And here it is (left).</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Esmé Madill, who had for months received reports of racist attacks and verbal abuse, rang Barry Jobson of Jomast on Friday afternoon and told him about the latest reports and demanded James and the asylum seekers in his house should be moved from the area.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">In a follow up&nbsp;e-mail Esmé gave specific examples of the attacks and harassment: “The tenants have called the police on numerous occasions after local residents have: thrown stones at them, breaking windows at the property and hitting the residents; called them abusive names; dumped rubbish at the property and tampered with the keyhole. Recently one resident was accosted for wearing Islamic dress and another was followed, while on his way to his GP, by two youths throwing stones. The police have fitted a camera outside the property but this has not led to any reduction in the racist abuse.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Esmé wrote: “The property continues to have a front door painted red, marking it out as a property managed by Jomast and likely to house asylum seekers. I am copying this email to G4S, as on 25 January almost five months ago <a href="http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/robust-system-place-check-asylum-10787801">Juliet Halstead head of housing at G4S</a> &nbsp;said that these red doors would be painted over ‘as soon as possible’”.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Around 3.30 p.m. on the same afternoon, Friday 20 May, Jomast workers arrived at James’s house and started repainting his door. Police also arrived at the property.</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">A few minutes later Barry Jobson replied to Esmé stating that Jomast were “not aware of any racial abuse” at (that address) and that “the Police have not raised any issues in respect of (that street)”.</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Here (right) is the repainted door.</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door post copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/door post copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Repainted door, Friday around 4.20pm</span></span></span></p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Just after 4 p.m. Nicola Broughton, G4S senior incident control officer responded to Esmé. “I have investigated the claims made and I can confirm that our records show that G4S also have not received any reports of anti-social behaviour or hate crimes in relation to (the address).”</p><p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal">Within hours there was an arson attack on the nearby house occupied by Darfuri refugees.</p><p>When I spoke to Esmé about the events in Stockton she said: “They misled us. Both Jomast and G4S said that they were going to repaint the red doors and they didn’t do it. Their failure to carry out their promises to Parliament has meant that James and other vulnerable people in their home with a red door have been physically attacked, insulted and made very afraid.”</p> <p class="ox-62b229adb1-msonormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/burnt door copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/burnt door copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arson attack door, Friday 11.48pm</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="/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-for-asylum-seekers-mps-grill-one-of-britain-s-richest-landlord">Red doors for asylum seekers: MPs grill one of Britain’s richest landlords</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/red-doors-made-asylum-seekers-targets-for-abuse-deliberate">Red doors made asylum seekers targets for abuse. Deliberate?</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 G4S: Securing whose world? The attack on legal aid Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Sun, 22 May 2016 23:00:05 +0000 John Grayson 102310 at https://opendemocracy.net Democracies, free speech and the right to offend. https://opendemocracy.net/lesley-abdela/democracies-free-speech-and-right-to-offend <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In light of Donald Trump's discriminatory comments towards women, Mexicans and Muslims, ought some voices to be silenced?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/560925/4014811564_e0e9731a48_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Free speech, fear free."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/560925/4014811564_e0e9731a48_z.jpg" alt="" title="Free speech, fear free." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Free speech, fear free. [Jeremy Brooks]/[Flickr].[Some rights reserved]</span></span></span></p><p class="mag-quote-right"><span>The journalist and feminist in me are fighting an on-going battle.</span></p><p>US Republican candidate <span class="direction-rtl">Donald Trump </span>recently <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Jpoecf0xY">proposed</a> that women who have abortions should be subject to "some form of punishment" if abortions were made illegal. Another of his sexist comments was, "a woman must be hot in order to be a journalist". The journalist and feminist in me are fighting an on-going battle. As a journalist and a democrat I am a firm believer of free speech and believe that a citizen’s right to freedom of expression within public discourse is a precious right to be nurtured. The women’s rights campaigner inside me gets angry at such sexist and discriminatory public statements. Is it better for voters to hear Donald Trump’s (what many consider to be appalling) attitudes towards women, Mexicans and Muslims, or should we banish him and other politicians and speakers from the public forum, and thus not know what they are thinking?</p> <p>If director of the Indian Wells tennis tournament, Raymond Moore, had had his insulting, sexist views about female tennis players covered up, he would still hold that influential post today. <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/21/tennis/indian-wells-tennis-raymond-moore/">Moore said</a> the women's game "rides on the coat-tails" of the men's, whilst female tennis players "should get down on their knees in thanks to male counterparts such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal", —a view labelled "sexist" by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Moore quit as CEO of the tournament following the public outrage at such sexist comments towards female tennis players.</p><p><span>In law, hate speech refers to any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. But who should have the right to decide whose voices are heard and whose are banned? Where are the red-lines in the sand? When is the term 'hate speech' used as an instrument to silence critics of social policies, in a misuse of ‘political correctness’? Alarmingly, even at British Universities in our own back garden&nbsp;—former bastions of free speech and debate—&nbsp;the student unions and other institutions have recently enacted a no-platform policy, affecting speakers as diverse as writers <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/feminism-rosetta-scientist-shirt-dapper-laughs-julien-blanc-inequality">Julie Bindel</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B8Q6D4a6TM">Germaine Greer</a> (with their differing views on women’s rights and feminism), and Human Rights champion <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/02/15/peter-tatchell-in-blistering-attack-on-nus-officer-after-being-called-transphobic-_n_9235606.html">Peter Tachell</a>. These speakers, and many others, were forced to abandon planned appearances because some people, on one or other side of the debate, may have been offended by their opinions.</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/560649/trump.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/560649/trump.jpg" alt="Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a speech at a rally in 2016. Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP/Press Associa" title="" width="460" height="357" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a speech at a rally in 2016. Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Originally the no-platform policy was used to prevent far-right groups from gaining traction on university campuses in an attempt to protect non-white, Jewish and left-wing students. In the early 2000s, the National Union of Students added selected Islamic groups, which it deemed to be extremist, to its list of officially proscribed organisations. In a distorted form of "mission creep", the no-ban tool has been used to target a wide range of speakers in the past decade. In his new book,<em>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hate-Speech-Democratic-Citizenship-Heinze/dp/0198759029">Hate speech and Democratic Citizenship</a></em>, Eric Heinze,&nbsp;Professor of Law and Humanities at Queen Mary University of London, says the more a country is a&nbsp;genuinely developed democracy, the less it needs to impose 'speech bans'. He argues that developed democracies have better ways of combating violence and discrimination against vulnerable groups than by censoring speakers.&nbsp;In this academic ‘monograph’, Heinze examines the status of free speech within western democracies. Heinze is not absolutist. He acknowledges that hate speech has led to violence in democracies such as Germany’s <a href="https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/04/words-and-deeds/">Weimar Republic</a>, the immediate post-Cold War <a href="https://genocidememorialproject.wordpress.com/student-memorial-pages/rbpm-rwanda-bosnia-propaganda-memorial/">Yugoslavia</a>, <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3257748.stm">Rwanda</a>, and in varying degrees elsewhere. None of these were what Heinze classifies as longstanding, stable and prosperous democracies (LSPDs ). Not all democracies are alike; in weaker democracies or non-democracies, speech bans are systematically misused against vulnerable groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>Heinze proposes: “it is time for us to recognise that hate speech bans are, at best, a necessary evil, but they can never claim a legitimate role within a full-fledged democracy.” Heinze says that full-fledged democracies have many ways of taking a moral stand, without having to go so far as to punish those with deviating views. A component of the LSPD model is that western democracies can comprehensively deploy state resources to combat discrimination in material ways, which have proved to be both more politically legitimate, and, more pragmatically effective than banning speech. Central to the LSPD model, it can be shown that western democratic states have taken moral and symbolic stands—not always perfectly or without contradiction— but certainly in more than peripheral, lip-service ways. Measures including non-discrimination laws, pluralist primary education (and bans on individually targeted stalking, harassment, or ‘fighting words’) convey the state’s moral and symbolic messages against intolerance or violence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Heinze feels that <span class="mag-quote-right">It is healthier for democracies to hear all the views that are held by politicians, rather than to shut them up.</span>it is healthier for democracies to hear all the views that are held by politicians, rather than to shut them up&nbsp;—<span>even when those opinions may be unpalatable to many. When French MP Christian Vanneste said that he thought homosexuality was inferior to heterosexuality, he was <a href="http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/04/03/christian-vanneste-relaxe-pour-ses-propos-sur-les-homosexuels_4395337_3224.html">prosecuted</a>. Heinze argues: “but don’t we want to hear what our politicians think!”</span></p><p><span>Social and civic awareness and plurality of opinion within LSPDs,&nbsp;is sufficiently robust to allow for counter-speech and the scrutiny of speakers and groups. Formal and informal structures of LSPDs have developed many buffers to intolerance which are absent in weaker democracies. LSPDs maintain sufficient legal, institutional, educational and&nbsp;material resources to admit all viewpoints into public discourse, whilst remaining adequately equipped to protect vulnerable groups from violence and discrimination.</span></p> <p>As Heinze points out, the state can legitimately punish hate-based acts of murder, battery, and other criminal acts, without taking the additional step of punishing speech uttered in public discourse. He says: “crimes of ‘incitement’ do the opposite.&nbsp;They furnish the state with a dragnet device for sweeping up undesirables without having to show even a highly remote probability of harm actually resulting from the public expression of ideas.”</p> <p>New York Law school Professor Nadine Strossen was the first female president of the American Civil Liberties Union, and&nbsp;is a founding member of Feminists for Free Expression. <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TYEuPBAL8EoC&amp;pg=PA381&amp;lpg=PA381&amp;dq=nadine+strossen+at+best+a+distraction+from,+and+sometimes+an+obstacle+to,+efforts+to+grapple+with+the+real,+concrete+problems.&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=J9A6DHdTe0&amp;sig=O2WEz1KrcHth9XtlEZ2wm-VfoTA&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwias5Gp1O3MAhUBvRoKHepTCfwQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&amp;q=nadine%20strossen%20at%20best%20a%20distraction%20from%2C%20and%20sometimes%20an%20obstacle%20to%2C%20efforts%20to%20grapple%20with%20the%20real%2C%20concrete%20problems.&amp;f=false">She says</a> that regulating speech is “at best a distraction from, and sometimes an obstacle to, efforts to grapple with the real, concrete problems.”&nbsp;It focuses policy-makers on “tokenism, rather than something real to promote actual equality.”</p> <p>A topical example of the free speech versus speech-ban debate took place on 28 March 2016 at the National Union of Teachers conference in the UK. In the context of combating extreme radicalism, the conference voted to support a motion calling upon the government to <a href="https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/conference-2016/prevent-strategy">withdraw</a> the Prevent strategy for schools and to develop an alternative approach to safeguarding children from extreme radicalism. Teachers said this could "smother" the discussion of legitimate political opinions. NUT general secretary, Christine Blower, said that schools have a "moral obligation" to protect children from extremism and the best contribution from schools would be to encourage discussion.&nbsp;</p> <p>LSPDs&nbsp;are a recent development, having only&nbsp;existed since the 1960s. (In the US, for example, racial segregation was present well into the 1960s). The Economist Intelligence Unit measures the state of democracy in 167 countries. The ranking index categorises countries as one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. <a href="http://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=Democracy0814">The Economist Democracy Index 2013</a> report rated just twenty states as full democracies. All states were judged on the following criteria: electoral process; functioning of government; political participation; political culture and civil liberties, and respect for human rights.&nbsp;</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">For the most part, I believe it better to counter and debate ideas on open public platforms, where both the right to speak and the right to criticise are upheld.&nbsp;</p><p>Heinze acknowledges that no rights are absolute, and quotes Lord Bhikhu Parekh: “although free speech is an important value, it is not the only one.&nbsp;Human dignity, equality, freedom to live without harassment and intimidation, social harmony, mutual respect, and protection of one’s good name and honour are also central to the good life and deserve to be safeguarded. Because these values conflict, either inherently or in particular contexts, they need to be balanced.”&nbsp;</p><p><span>On a personal note, for the most part, I believe it better to counter and debate ideas on open public platforms, where both the right to speak and the right to criticise and upheld. At the time of the Brahimi report on reforming the UN, I wrote an <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/may/27/un-super-agency-women">article</a> suggesting it was time to replace UN peace operations with a new entity, better suited for the modern world. I wrote: "peacekeeping missions are proving to be as damaging for the UN as they are for the countries in which the missions operate. If stained-glass windows portraying peace missions were hacked into the walls of the cathedral-proportioned entrance lobby at the UN Plaza, New York, they would illuminate the floors with spectral outlines of the Ruwenzori mountains and the Great Lakes, the hills of Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Kosovo and the ruins of Srebrenica, not as a paean of honour but to the sound of a tolling bell. Panels would depict scenes of inconceivable cruelty, stories of UN missions past, part theatre of the absurd, part Dantean hell of severed limbs, ethnic cleansing, rape as an instrument of war."&nbsp;</span></p><p>The day my article was published, I was sitting next to a very senior, British Foreign Office Government Civil Servant, at the British Council board meeting. “Saw your article in this morning’s Guardian newspaper. I don’t agree with a word of it.” He paused and added, “but, of course,<a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/voltaire/"> I defend your right to say it</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="/todd-gitlin-rosemary-bechler/safe-spaces-void-between-and-absence-of-trust"> Safe spaces, the void between, and the absence of trust</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jim-sleeper-rosemary-bechler/safe-spaces-view-from-yale"> Safe spaces – a view from Yale</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-gilroy-rosemary-bechler/paul-gilroy-in-search-of-not-very-safe-starting-point">Paul Gilroy in search of a not necessarily safe starting point… </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"> United States </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 class="field-item odd"> Internet </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 United States UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Internet Lesley Abdela Sun, 22 May 2016 13:46:32 +0000 Lesley Abdela 102230 at https://opendemocracy.net Locked up, pushed out. Shaida’s welcome to Britain https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/lucy-alper/locked-up-pushed-out-shaida-s-welcome-to-britain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While European leaders bicker over their asylum rules, Shaida waits in dread.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dungavel Demonstration.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Demonstration at Dungavel, 2016 @Etza_Hdez"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Dungavel Demonstration.jpeg" alt="" title="Demonstration at Dungavel, 2016 @Etza_Hdez" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration at Dungavel, 7 May 2016 @Etza_Hdez</span></span></span></p><p>Shaida Mahmoodi is Kurdish. She fled Eastern Kurdistan last year and arrived in Glasgow five months ago. I met her and her brother as I was volunteering at the <a href="http://www.unitycentreglasgow.org">Unity Centre, Glasgow</a>, an organisation that provides practical support and unconditional solidarity to asylum seekers and other migrants. Shaida and her brother have fingerprints in Germany, they say they were taken by force when Shaida and her brother had no knowledge of where they were. They told me that they continued their journey to the UK because they simply were not safe.</p> <p>Shaida has been detained and faces removal this Monday 23rd May to Dortmund, Germany. Meanwhile, her brother signs as requested at the Home Office every week. No such request has been made to return him to Germany and no attempts made to detain him.</p> <p>Last week I drove Shaida’s brother to visit her in Dungavel immigration removal centre, a former prison in South Lanarkshire. We went with a volunteer interpreter. The drive was long from Glasgow, Shaida’s brother was confused as to why the centre was so far away, so remote, so hard to come to as a visitor. Not speaking English he said he would never have found his way. At the sight of the barbed wire, the battlements, the 20 foot fences, he asked why his sister was in prison? His face contorted, refusing to cry, as I had seen it every day on the run up to our visit — he stated simply that his sister had done nothing wrong.&nbsp;</p> <p>Imagine a system in which people’s lives are not safe at home, where they are forced to risk their lives making the journey to safety and, once their destination is reached, they can be pushed back. A system in which the “safe country”, instead of considering someone’s experience and offering protection, spends money on imprisoning and forcibly removing people. This is the effect of the ‘<a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:180:0031:0059:EN:PDF">Dublin Regulation’</a> on asylum claims.&nbsp;</p> <p>In essence, the Dublin Regulation decrees that the first country in which an asylum seeker is detected, should be responsible for their asylum claim. A person detected by immigration authorities is supposed to be fingerprinted. Fingerprints are then uploaded to a database called EURODAC. When someone claims asylum they are first fingerprinted and EURODAC searched. If there is a match, a country requests to transfer the person back to that territory. Signatories to the Dublin Regulation are EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. In the furthest western reaches of Europe, surrounded by sea, the UK benefits most from this agreement.</p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b6b41c.html">established case law</a> some element of choice is open to asylum seekers, as to where they claim asylum. Yet the Dublin Regulation ensures that this choice is systematically denied. The issue at hand is fingerprints. If you have fingerprints in another Dublin signatory country, your case is certified as a “Third Country Case”, there is no right to appeal this certification and steps are then taken to forcibly remove you.</p> <p>The Dublin Regulation operates even though it is accepted that many member states fingerprint asylum seekers using force. Many governments decree that using force is <a href="http://statewatch.org/news/2014/dec/eu-com-coercive-fingerprintting-migrants-ds-1491-14.pdf">sanctioned by law and common practice</a>. Force is encouraged further by the Council of the European Union, <a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2015/feb/forced-fingerprinting.htm">even for the most vulnerable</a>. Countries reluctant to use force are <a href="http://www.ansa.it/english/news/politics/2015/12/14/italy-intransigent-on-iding-migrants_99f471e5-1854-4d99-8294-05a948e09d70.html">under considerable pressure to do so</a>.</p> <p>For asylum seekers who do not face forced fingerprinting, there is still an unknown system to navigate. Shaida explained through our interpreter that she did not know the names of the countries through which she was travelling, nor the laws she was subject to. “It is hard to know what to disclose and to whom,” she said. Information key to challenging Dublin removals is often sensitive and the asylum system hard to comprehend, <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eurodac-fingerprint-database-under-fire-by-human-rights-activists/">especially for somebody suffering shock or trauma</a>.</p> <p>Challenging removal to supposedly “safe” 3rd countries is commonplace but Greece is the only country to which challenges have been successful. Since 2011 <a href="https://www.jcwi.org.uk/2011/01/28/m-s-s-v-belgium-greece-case-note/">removals have ceased to Greece</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Challenges are routinely made to the lawfulness of removal to <a href="https://www.freemovement.org.uk/the-creaking-dublin-system-hungary-pulls-the-plug/">Hungary</a>, <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/52c691d59.html">Bulgaria</a>, <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/922.html">Cyprus</a>, <a href="http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-122894#{&quot;itemid&quot;:[&quot;001-122894&quot;]})">Malta</a> and <a href="https://www.freemovement.org.uk/dublin-italy-and-the-tragedy-at-lampedusa/">Italy</a>. (In these challenges it is argued that reception conditions in the supposedly “safe 3rd country” breach people’s Article 3 rights — that is the right to be free of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.</p> <p>Yet despite these legal challenges, despite almost daily fascist attacks in <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-registers-sharp-increase-in-attacks-on-asylumseekers-a-1045207.html">Germany</a>, hate crime in <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/bulgaria-migrants-living-fear-after-xenophobic-attacks">Bulgaria</a>, the Calais ‘<a href="http://www.msf.org/en/article/france-refugees-face-%E2%80%98slow-death%E2%80%99-calais-jungle">jungle’</a>, the Home Office declares that European countries are safe countries. Indeed, the Dublin Regulation ensures that this presumption is enshrined in law.</p> <p>This is not Shaida’s first ticket to Germany. The Home Office booked her onto a flight on 9th May but she spent the days leading up to the flight in hospital. Medical attention was needed so seriously that Dungavel guards from the private prisons company <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/man-84-dies-handcuffed-in-hospital-uk-border-control-by-geo-group">GEO</a> had no choice but to transfer Shaida from to Hairmyres Hospital. She was released back into immigration detention with strict instructions to take 7 different pills a day, because of problems with her kidneys.</p> <p>But no sooner was Shaida discharged from hospital, the Home Office issued her another ticket. Last night Shaida was transferred from Scotland to England in the run up to her forced removal. Such transfers mean legal representation is lost as Scottish lawyers cannot act in England. For Shaida the move means her brother cannot visit and her only support, volunteers at The Unity Centre, will find it near impossible to maintain contact.</p> <p>And so it is that on Monday Shaida faces being forcibly removed on an Easyjet plane to Dortmund. Shoulder to shoulder with those flying for business and pleasure, Shaida will be escorted by guards in fear of her life. Shaida speaks no English and has not been able to secure legal representation. And so a volunteer interpreter translates words lost in the ether. Shaida’s words: “if I go back to Germany I will kill myself”. And her brother’s: “my sister will die in Germany”.</p> <p>We are urging people to stop this forced removal, to contact Easyjet and explain that Shaida will be flying against her will, with suicidal intentions and to country in which she has nobody.</p> <p>Passengers and pilots on commercial flights can request that someone such as Shaida should not fly. The flight details are: U22175. Departing 7:15am 23rd May, London Luton to Dortmund. Click <a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/phoning-an-airline-to-fight-deportation-or-removal/">here</a> for Unity Centre's tips on challenging a removal. EasyJet’s contact details follow.</p> <ul><li>Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/easyJet"><em>https://twitter.com/easyJet</em></a></li><li>Facebook:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/easyJet"><em>https://www.facebook.com/easyJet</em></a></li><li>Phone:&nbsp;Customer service - 0330 365 5000</li><li>Email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:public.affairs@easyjet.com">public.affairs@easyjet.com</a><em>,&nbsp;<a href="mailto:customer.service@easyjet.com">customer.service@easyjet.com</a></em></li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/shinealight/phil-miller/frail-84-year-old-subjected-to-inhuman-and-degrading-treatment-prison-omb">Frail 84 year old subjected to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, prison ombudsman says</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</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 Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Lucy Alper Sat, 21 May 2016 23:00:25 +0000 Lucy Alper 102297 at https://opendemocracy.net NHS managers are being forced to lie to the public https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/carol-ackroyd/nhs-managers-are-being-forced-to-lie-to-public <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> This latest “Transformation” will kill the NHS if we let it. </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/27_cameron_poster2_g_540.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/27_cameron_poster2_g_540.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="335" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Local managers are being forced to slash NHS budgets and replace existing hospital and community services with unproven ‘new models of care’ (inspired by, and attractive to, the corporates.).</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>And local managers are effectively being forced to lie to the public that this will improve care.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>They will have to do so in new ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’, </span><span>demanded by NHS England’s annual and innocuous-sounding <em>2016-17 NHS Planning Guidance (1).</em>&nbsp; In fact, it signals a complete and total reorganisation of the NHS.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The NHS is reorganised into 44 ‘footprints’ (each covering a number of CCGs and an average of 1.2million people). </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>We’re <em>told</em> the project is about ‘strengthening local relationships’ and building on ‘local energy and enthusiasm’ to achieve ‘genuine and sustainable transformation in patient experience and health outcomes’.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>But in fact, the Guidance contains some very specific requirements that will test these new collaborations to the limits and usher in a new wave of privatisations and huge cuts. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Each footprint area must agree a five-year plan locally (2)- by the end of June 2016 – which MUST include proposals to bring their area into financial balance within 2016-17. For England as a whole, this means cuts amounting to £2.3billion. The plan must achieve this by implementing new models of care as set out in the NHSE Five Year Forward View (3). Oh – and it must explain how all of this will improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction .</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>That’s clearly a nonsense. Existing deep cuts mean that nearly one in 10 patients waited longer than four hours in A&amp;E last year – the worst performance since 2003/4 – according to shocking new figures revealed yesterday by the Kings Fund (4). </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The number of patients waiting for hospital treatment is up nearly half a million to 3.7 million over the year. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Only</span><span> 2 per cent of Trust finance directors think patient care has improved over the past 12 months. And 7 out of 10 NHS providers ended 2015/16 in deficit (including 9 out of 10 acute trusts). </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Eliminating the NHS deficit</span></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>So the government is looking to local partners to help it cut the NHS further at the frontline.&nbsp; Local authorities have extensive experience of cutting services: they slashed spending on social care by</span><span> 26% between 2011-2014 (5) resulting in 400,000 fewer people getting care services than in 2009-10 and many more receiving fewer hours of care(6). &nbsp;This has led to concerns about the near collapse of social care, and despite frequent boasts from both Tory and Labour councilors that ‘front-line services have been protected’. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Government is looking for similar performance with the NHS. The STPs must deliver balanced budgets for 2016-17 and beyond. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>If they don’t, they’ll&nbsp; be denied access to a vital share of £1.8bn from other funding streams..&nbsp; </span><span>Local health bosses are seriously worried.</span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;</span><span>Of course the NHS could save money by ending the market in healthcare and stripping out the costs of lawyers, accountants and others whose job is simply to run the market. This would save an estimated between £4.5bn to £10bn a year if not more. But that’s something central government - both Labour and Tory – has repeatedly refused to look at.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>As part of the plan to reduce deficits, existing hospital estates must be sold off for housing development, though it’s not even clear if the money thus raised is ringfenced. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Meanwhile the <em>NHS Partners Network</em> (a trade association for independent sector providers of NHS services) is gearing up to assist Transformation areas to ‘supplement publicly available capital funding with external investment’ (in other word, more extortionate PFI). </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>New models for NHS provision</span></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The major STPs are expected to cut spending is through implementing ‘new models’ of care that are set out by </span><span>Simon Stevens in NHS England’s <em>Five Year Forward View(7)</em>&nbsp; (5YFV). When campaigners ask for the research or clinical evidence to back these models, they are pointed to the existence of ‘Vanguard’ pilots of these new models of care – even though these were only agreed in April 2015 and have barely begun their work, let alone been evaluated.&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>One ‘new model’ talked up by Simon Stevens and Jeremy Hunt involves reducing demand for hospital beds by substituting digital monitoring and &nbsp;healthcare visits at home. Never mind that England has fewer beds than any comparable economy: Germany has 9 hospital beds per 1,000 population compared with 3 per 1,000 in England. Never mind the absence of any valid clinical evidence for this model, or that it means thousands of carers – predominantly women – having to care for sick family members at home.&nbsp; This model offers a quick win on all fronts for STP planners: implement the model set out in the 5YFV, ‘delete’ a few local hospitals and ‘replace’ the beds with ‘hospital at home’ services from a valued private ‘partner’.&nbsp; </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>STPs are also expected to develop urgent care services. What this actually means is the downgrade of full Accident and Emergency services at many hospitals. When hospitals lose their A&amp;Es, they lose equipment, skills , training opportunities, and other services vital to the long-term survival of our local hospitals in any form we would recognise. Increasingly, patients will have to travel much further to access services.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Stevens’ new model for GP services includes retraining reception staff for new roles, including triage, gatekeeping access to GPs and referring many patients on to other staff or services.&nbsp; It’s expected that GP assistants -who are not qualified doctors – will also see many of the patients. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span><span>The NHS market continues to flourish</span></span></strong></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Private providers are flourishing. For the time being, the main emphasis is likely to be on corporates involved as ‘NHS Partners’ in providing consultancy to develop the STPs, preparing the new ‘surplus’ NHS property portfolio for sale and providing ‘back-office’ services for a range of services in the area. Once the STPs have been agreed, corporates will be in a strong position to provide ‘commissioning support’ for the new, cost-cutting models of care.<span></span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Moving services out of hospital and integration with social care creates huge opportunities for providers to deliver services with cheaper non-clinical staff, and to relabel these services as - chargeable - social care. There are huge opportunities too, to sell us home-based digital monitoring products as substitutes for hospital care.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Already, the private providers trade group NHS Partners boasts they are: ‘delivering mobile capacity across diagnostic and treatment areas’, ‘providing clinical home healthcare and care home capacity to support patient discharge and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions’, and ‘offering management and strategic capacity, as well as procurement and planning skills needed to develop STPs’(8).</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>CCGs who don’t produce STPs which will balance the budget within 2016-17 risk having their ‘purchasing’ responsibilities handed over to a provider. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In other words, at a stroke, and without the bother of legislative change, public consultation or media attention, the 2016-17 Planning Guidance has abolished the sharp purchaser-provider split.&nbsp; But not in a way that brings it back under proper public control. Instead, we’ll see new purchasing and sub-contracting arrangements developing that are ever more opaque and less constrained by any public accountability. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Private providers will be keen to provide back-office functions for the new Transformation for other reasons, too. Especially if all the ‘risk stratification’ and ‘case management’ they are promising to do for the NHS, gives them access to patient data that is useful for those who want to sell us pharma, lifestyle apps or insurance.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The changes will also open up opportunities for a single provider to deliver the entire complex of health and social care services in one locality, a model that is particularly attractive to giant US Healthcare corporations which already deliver these models in the US. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Starry-eyed or dazed CCGs, local authorities, NHS managers, Health and Wellbeing Boards, clinicians, patients and public health analysts will look on as the five-year plans are developed with ‘NHS Partners’ and delivered to NHSE in time for the end of June deadline. These STPs will contain plans for completely transformed services that have no evidence base and budgets that have been pared beyond recognition. The corporate vultures will await the new tenders.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>And unless campaigners can really get our act together, the public won’t have a clue that any of this is happening.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>We need to do everything in our power to oppose the ‘Footprints’ and demand that NHS England and Government withdraw requirements for STPs pending further public debate.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>We need to demand too, proper NHS funding levels (up to levels of EU average, reversing the decline since 2010). And that all changes to local services must be based on clinical need and evidence-based research. And that rather than forcing local areas to impose cuts that will kill the NHS as we know it, whilst calling it cure, that government ends the costly NHS market by bringing its services fully back into public ownership and control, run for patients not for profit, and saving billions of pounds annually that are wasted on managing the market.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Many campaigners have united around the NHS Reinstatement Bill , putting forward motions to support it to their trade unions and local party branches and other organisations.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Ironically, some MPs refused to back to the bill on the basis that it required another reorganisation. Now it’s clear there’s already a dangerous and undemocratic reorganisation underway. &nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>The Reinstatement Bill will ensure proper local accountability, and put a complete end to the rush of privatisation and cuts, rather than permit it whilst blaming local areas.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Next week, MPs will be balloted for the new private members bill. Any MP who cares about the NHS should work with campaigners to re-introduce the Bill, and ensure that it achieves it stated aims, and restores the NHS as we know it.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>If we want an NHS for the future, we must demand urgent action from our politicians NOW before the NHS is finally transformed out of all recognition.</span></p><p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span>(1) </span><span><a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/planning-guid-16-17-20-21.pdf">https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/planning-guid-16-17-20-21.pdf</a></span></p><p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span>(2) </span><span><a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/stp-footprints-march-2016.pdf">https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/stp-footprints-march-2016.pdf</a></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>(3) <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf">https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf</a></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>(4) <a href="http://qmr.kingsfund.org.uk/2016/19">http://qmr.kingsfund.org.uk/2016/19</a></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>(5) <a href="http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/5854661/Adult+social+care+funding+2014+state+of+the+nation+report/e32866fa-d512-4e77-9961-8861d2d93238">http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/5854661/Adult+social+care+funding+2014+state+of+the+nation+report/e32866fa-d512-4e77-9961-8861d2d93238</a></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>(6) <a href="http://www.adass.org.uk/uploadedFiles/adass_content/policy_networks/resources/Key_documents/ADASS%20Budget%20Survey%202015%20Report%20FINAL.pdf">http://www.adass.org.uk/uploadedFiles/adass_content/policy_networks/resources/Key_documents/ADASS%20Budget%20Survey%202015%20Report%20FINAL.pdf</a></span></p><p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span>(7) </span><span><a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf">https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf</a></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>(8) </span><span><a href="http://www.nhsconfed.org/resources/2016/03/independent-sector-providers-our-contribution-to-nhs-services">http://www.nhsconfed.org/resources/2016/03/independent-sector-providers-our-contribution-to-nhs-services</a></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="/ournhs/colin-leys/sustainability-and-transformation-plans-kill-or-cure-for-nhs">Sustainability and Transformation Plans - kill or cure for the NHS?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/deborah-harrington-madeleine-dickens-and-caroline-molloy/hunt-and-stevens-leaving-their-dirty">Hunt and Stevens - leaving their dirty footprints all over the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/caroline-molloy/nhs-cuts-are-we-in-it-together">NHS cuts - are we in it together?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk ourNHS Footprints Carol Ackroyd Fri, 20 May 2016 07:48:14 +0000 Carol Ackroyd 102254 at https://opendemocracy.net Media amnesia, austerity and the great crisis https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/laura-basu/media-amnesia-austerity-and-great-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In our era, media amnesia has played a central role in the legitimisation of Austerity measures. For certain sections of the media there is clearly a wilful forgetting – or, more accurately, misremembering.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/city_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/city_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Rob..Taylor. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>It is widely thought, and indeed the party itself accepts, that Labour lost the 2015 UK general election because voters believed it had crashed the economy in 2008 by spending too much public money, and was not committed enough to tackling the <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/08/labour-lost-because-voters-believed-it-was-anti-austerity/">deficit through austerity</a>. In the words of <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1625807/why-labour-lost-election-by-margaret-beckett">Margaret Beckett</a>, the party could not overcome "the huge myth it was overspending by a Labour government that caused the crisis". This is remarkable, not only because of the historical reality of the global financial crisis but because that crisis was all <em>over the news</em> at the time, only eight years ago. How has history been so quickly rewritten?</p> <p>Several commentators, including Keynesian economist <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2015/04/economic-consequences-george-osborne-covering-austerity-mistake">Simon-Wren Lewis</a>&nbsp; and the<em> Guardian</em>’s economics editor <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/09/jeremy-corbyn-labour-overspending-did-not-cause-financial-crisis?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2">Larry Elliott</a>, have drawn attention to the extraordinary feat of the Conservative Party of focussing attention elsewhere. In the dominant Tory account the deficit is blamed on Labour profligacy and a bloated welfare state rather than the bank bailouts and the recession originating in the financial meltdown and deregulatory policies of the preceding years. But what role has the mainstream media played in all this?</p> <p>German philosopher Robert Kurz wrote in <a href="https://libcom.org/library/interview-black-book-capitalism-robert-kurz"><em>The Black Book of Capitalism</em></a>, “the total market system does not merely gloss over its own history; to a great extent it even erases it. 'Homo economicus' has as it were the same perception of time as a small child”. In our era, media amnesia plays a central role in this erasure of memory.</p> <p>Since the beginning of the crisis,&nbsp; governments have introduced a series of measures that have been found to escalate a redistribution of resources upwards, from “labour” to “capital” in economic terms, or from the 99% to the 1%, that had begun in the 1970s and was a <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cs-true-cost-austerity-inequality-uk-120913-en.pdf">cause of the crisis itself</a>. These include virtually unconditional bank bailouts, creating what Yanis Varoufakis has called a “<a href="https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2011/03/02/the-road-to-bankruptocracy-how-events-since-2009-have-led-to-a-new-mode-of-reproduction/">bankruptocracy</a>”; government borrowing at interest from the very same “markets” it had just bailed out; Quantitative Easing, putting billions directly into the pockets of the bankruptocracy; widespread austerity measures; and “business friendly” measures such as cuts in corporation tax, the top rate of tax and capital gains tax, further deregulation and privatisation.</p> <p>Our research has found that the mainstream media have largely endorsed these measures (and pushed for them in the case of the right-wing press), lending them legitimacy. This process of legitimisation is partly the result of ongoing amnesia. Over the years, the timeline of the crisis has steadily been eradicated. Back in 2008, as well as blaming the “greedy bankers”, the media did attempt some understanding of the systemic causes of the crisis in the financial sector such as securitisation and sub prime. It also paid attention to the previous decades of deregulation, liberalisation and “free market” economics – what is often termed “neoliberalism” – that had led to those systemic problems via a squeeze on wages, increasing inequality, rising debt and financialisation.</p> <p>As the private losses were socialised and public debt began to soar from 2009, these explanations for the problems began to be forgotten. While the financial crisis and recession were regularly cited as causes of the deficit, the causes of <em>those </em>in turn began to get lost in the coverage. By 2010 the financial crisis <em>itself</em> had been dropped as a cause. Explanations were by this point rarely given at all. At the same time, the Conservatives and the Conservative press were busy spinning the line about Labour overspending and the bloated public sector. In the vacuum created by the absence of any other explanations (let alone the correct ones) the Labour overspending narrative was able to become dominant.</p> <p>This ongoing eradication of the timeline of the crisis has had implications for the solutions to the economic problems that are given a hearing by the mainstream media. While attention was focussed on the financial sector and deregulation, we also heard a lot of talk about tackling “casino” banking and reregulation. As these causes were forgotten and attention shifted to the deficit and public spending, some form of austerity seemed to make sense and the media began to frame austerity measures as painful but necessary. Similarly, the forgetting of the “free market” processes that had caused the crisis has made an intensification of those types of policies in the form of tax breaks for the rich and further privatisation less unpalatable in media discourse. We could say that the forgetting of the roots of the crisis in neoliberalism has led to the legitimisation of<em> hyper neoliberal</em> solutions, which have escalated the redistribution of resources upwards.</p> <p>What causes this amnesia? For certain sections of the media there is clearly a wilful forgetting – or, more accurately, misremembering. But for the “liberal” press and the “impartial” public service broadcasters there must be other explanations. Many of these can be ultimately traced back to the profit motive or, in the case of the BBC, the compulsion to submit to market conditions. Firstly, as media scholar <a href="http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&amp;seitentyp=produkt&amp;pk=57583&amp;cid=533&amp;concordeid=310777">Justin Lewis</a> points out, the disposability or “built-in obsolescence” of news – stemming from the need to continually sell new news – has led to an obsession with the present at the expense of its historical context. Who wants to read “old news”?</p> <p>Secondly, financial pressures increasingly mean that journalists are constantly pushed for time. They just don't have time to reflect on complex economic processes, seek out alternative sources, or experiment with different news formats that might be more conducive to incorporating a wider range of perspectives or giving more in-depth explanations. Since the crisis, working conditions for journalists have continued to deteriorate. We find that the same market-driven factors that caused the crisis have led to its inadequate reporting.</p> <p>Curing media amnesia will probably require co-ordinated efforts on multiple fronts – campaigning for media reform to break up media oligopolies promoting active forgetting and <a href="http://www.mediareform.org.uk/">legislate for plurality</a>; seeking out strategies to help progressive organisations and heterodox economists get their voices onto mainstream media; using alternative media and joining <a href="http://mediactive.com/2009/11/08/toward-a-slow-news-movement/">“slow news” movements</a>; and looking for ways to mobilise mass audiences for these media to circumvent preaching-to-the-converted syndrome – which might include using non-advertising based social media to “retweet” alternative news items that do give adequate explanations for economic problems and offer a range of possible solutions.</p> <p>The connection between the crisis and its inadequate reporting points to the fact that the struggle over the media is part of a wider social struggle over resources. For Kurz, amnesia was a condition of capitalism itself, a system that he considered to be irrational. Resisting media amnesia and insisting on thorough explanations for the continuing economic crisis might help us develop ideas for more rational ways of distributing resources.&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</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/austerity-media/mike-berry/uk-media-and-legitimisation-of-austerity-policies">UK media and the legitimisation of austerity policies</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 Media activism and anti austerity Laura Basu Thu, 19 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Laura Basu 102227 at https://opendemocracy.net Austerity as a failed experiment https://opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/johnna-montgomerie/austerity-as-failed-experiment <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Austerity is a failed experiment, it is an elite narrative that informs a set of policies whose outcomes are not yet fully known - they are contingent, contested and uncertain. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/austeirty5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535628/austeirty5.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/The Weekly Bull. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>As we approach a decade since the 2008 financial crisis now is the time to critically evaluate its political, economic and social consequences. From this distance we can recognise the scale and scope of the financial crisis and how it fostered a much deeper political and economic crisis in the UK that is mirrored across Europe. From this vantage point we can recognise the Austerity agenda emerging in the wake of the crisis and conceptualised in different ways: as <em>political ideology</em>, as <em>coherent narrative</em> and <em>political strategy</em> as well as a <em>policy programme </em>with clear objectives and recognizable outcomes. There is no consensus on whether the UK ever recovered from the crisis; less still that the UK economy is capable of recovering on its current trajectory. Strong political support for financialised growth ensured a failed response to the crisis, which consequently resulted in the UK economy taking longer to recover from 2008 financial crisis than from the 1929 Great Depression. Public policy commitments to Austerity compound economic fragility by advocating the simultaneous deleveraging (paying down debts) of both the public and private sectors. Austerity-led recovery is elusive, forecast in the medium-term but always revised down.</p> <p>This series seeks to expose the ‘hidden’ costs of Austerity-led recovery and this article contributes to this by articulating why and how Austerity is a failed experiment. This begins with acknowledging the well-established weakness of the dominant economic framework used by political elites, policy-makers, and media commentators to evaluate the relative success of the UK economy. Feminist political economy offers a methodology for unpacking how macroeconomic inequalities are made and re-made through the social foundations of the economy allowing us to ‘see’ the hidden costs of recovery. As contemporary economics begins to acknowledge the unequal relationships that sustain market failure, feminist political economy already conceptually captures the different scales of economic activity at the household, but also the community, level which provides an important advantage when seeking to make definitive claims about an on-going economic experiment. </p> <p>What is revealed is a deeply political, yet ultimately incoherent, process of the state attempting to remake society in order to solve financial market failure. This article puts forward the overarching interpretive frame of Austerity as an elite narrative of the post-crash UK economy, in order to make visible its explicit failures. Using a feminist political economy analytical lens allow us to see how austerity fails to impose a reproductive fix for the productivity gap created by unfettered financialised expansion. </p> <p>Unpacking both the idea and practice of Austerity walks a very tight analytical rope because the outcomes are still unfolding. Seen through different frames Austerity appears as a coherent object of analysis either as a powerful political narrative or a set of policy objectives. Standard political economic frames assess Austerity either by ascertaining if policy objectives are, or could be, achieved, or by analysing its uneven distributional outcomes. Cultural political economy frames focus the ideological power of Austerity to shape political and societal understandings of economic crisis requiring collective sacrifice. Digging deeper into the political communication strategy of the <a href="http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/framing-the-economy-the-austerity-story">‘Austerity Story’</a> we can observe a clear narrative frame that articulates a coherent version of the post-crash economy: (a) the UK’s huge public sector debt was caused by the previous Labour government’s reckless overspending and now the nation is broke; (b) cuts to government expenditure are needed to restore fiscal credibility, to secure financial market confidence and bring back balanced economic growth; (c) welfare reform will eliminate the ‘skivers’ that continue to live off state benefits paid for by taxes of the ‘strivers’ who work hard for their families. This form of political ‘messaging’ is successful precisely because: “[I]t is consistent, memorable, uses vivid images and emotional metaphors, and is simple enough to be understood and retold” (nef 2016). </p> <p>The power of political story telling is not just what is <em>told</em>, but also what is strategically <em>not told</em>: the ‘cause’ of huge public sector debt inherited by labour – the financial market crash; and, who ‘pays’ the direct and indirect costs of the <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/report/maintaining-the-financial-stability-of-uk-banks-update-on-the-support-schemes/">financial sector bailout</a>. Since 2010 the Austerity story has been an on-going political communication strategy supporting a national policy agenda; it successfully made sense of the post-crash economy to advanced profound reordering of state provisioning for society. What is untold in this story is that public support for the financial services sector is <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/report/hm-treasurys-2014-15-annual-report-and-accounts/">on-going since 2008</a> and this is, arguably, the underlying cause of on-going macroeconomic fragility. </p> <p>However, one striking fact disrupts our understanding of Austerity as a coherent object of analysis: during the 2015 election debate the most googled search was ‘<em>What is Austerity?</em>’. It is important we consider the implications to academic analysis of that fact that ‘Austerity’ is a word that many politically engaged people do not understand. Austerity, as idea, ideology, policy, cultural ethos and basically the business of politics since 2010 is not easily understood by engaged citizens while being common parlance within political, economic, media and academic networks. This suggests academic research into Austerity gives it more coherence than exists in everyday practice. Therefore, it is more accurate to suggest Austerity is an articulation of the elite’s vision for the post-crash UK economy; not a widely held political belief or understanding of a policy platform. In other words, the power of Austerity is not simply to impose a political agenda, rather its power is to forge common-sense metaphors that communicate political ideas that inform ‘meaning-making’ in everyday life. Of course understanding the effects of Austerity is made difficult by the practical problem of figuring out how to assess the outcomes of a political narrative when it's being enacted in real-time policy practice. To do this we must overcome the bias to coherence created by assuming policy outcomes are certain and, instead, conceptually frame Austerity as an ‘experiment’. Austerity is an elite narrative that informs a set of policies whose outcomes are not yet fully known - they are contingent, contested and uncertain.</p> <p>Evaluating Austerity as an experiment makes visible the hidden socio-economic dynamics that constrain and resist what is assumed to be the UK government’s coherent politics of fiscal consolidation in the wake of the global financial crisis. As <a href="http://www.palgrave-journals.com/fr/journal/v109/n1/full/fr201442a.html">Pearson and Elson</a> emphasise economic growth does not automatically translate into a distribution of that wealth, despite government assertions to the contrary: recovery for some is not recovery for all. Widespread recognition of the problems caused by deepening inequality, whether it is in <a href="http://www.oecd.org/social/in-it-together-why-less-inequality-benefits-all-9789264235120-en.htm">terms of income</a> or <a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/report/maintaining-the-financial-stability-of-uk-banks-update-on-the-support-schemes/">wealth</a> are intensely gendered which makes it part of deeper social and structural inequalities: this is precisely why Austerity is experienced unequally across society. Feminist analysis of Austerity show empirically how <a href="http://www.wbg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/FINAL-WBG-2014-budget-response.pdf">women disproportionately</a> bear the cost of economic crisis. Moreover, this frame makes visible how Austerity renews a form of Victorian values that rearticulates values of the private household or ‘home’ in order to directly target state provisioning for social reproduction for cuts and reform measures. In particular, Austerity politically exploits the unpaid reproductive labour – carried out overwhelmingly by low-income women – by downloading reduced access to welfare services and falls in income onto households and, by extension, communities. This has affected many people’s ability to reproduce their livelihoods and meet their needs, thus deepening an already existing crisis of social reproduction. </p> <p>It is the feminist political economy lens of social reproduction, in other words the work of producing labour power and sustaining life, that makes visible the different spheres, scales or places where this work occurs – e.g. the home, the school, the community – by understanding them as activities and relationships not established categories capable of easy abstraction. Social reproductive activities, whether acknowledged in national accounts or remunerated as paid labour, constitute work that is of value in economic terms because of its necessity as the social foundations of any macroeconomic economy. This is important because the household has long been a blind-spot in economics as well as political economy because it is treated as a ‘black-box’. In practical terms this means the household is treated as either a singular entity or undifferentiated unit of analysis that leads to well-known problems of aggregation and functional equivalency. The former refers to an inability to move from methodologically individualist notions of rationality or behavioural preferences to the level or scale of the household; the latter, to how macroeconomics conceives the household as a simple ‘pass-through’ mechanism for flows of goods and services in the national economy. Addressing these long-standing issues of how to account for the household drives reform of traditional national accounts measures to include new concepts like <a href="http://www.oecd.org/statistics/how-s-life-23089679.htm">‘well-being’</a>. For feminist political economy, developing a household-level analysis corrects current economic frames that do not account for the collective management of economic resources, the consumptive dynamics of household, the unpaid labour in the home, volunteering in the community, or any of the care work required to reproduce the economy and society. Understanding this helps to explain the process that allow the intensification of inequality causing stagnant macroeconomic growth by actually engaging with the economic activities that take place at the scale of the community or the household as the ‘unseen’ foundations of what is typically framed as the national economy.</p> <p>Framing Austerity as an experiment offers an important analytical counter-weight to the standard political economy framing of the post-crash period using established macroeconomic categories to interpret the relative success or failure of general policy platform. Focusing on the ‘<a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/international-relations-and-international-organisations/everyday-politics-world-economy">big end of town</a>’ assumes a level of coherence to elite policy making that unwittingly ignores Austerity’s incoherence in the ‘small end of town’. Creating an analytical space for the everyday to analyse the political economy of Austerity requires using a gender lens to observe the unequal distribution of costs and benefits of enacted policies but also the confused, contingent and contested ways in which Austerity is not enacted. Evaluating Austerity as a political experiment created in response to the observable failing of financialised expansion allows us to account for how its policies fail in clear ways which, in turn, shape how Austerity is politically articulated and communicated by elites. Using established gendered methodology of feminist political economy provides the means to seeing what is hidden and telling the untold story of the failures of the Austerity experiment.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Part of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/austerity-media">Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series</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 Media activism and anti austerity Johnna Montgomerie Thu, 19 May 2016 23:11:11 +0000 Johnna Montgomerie 102231 at https://opendemocracy.net The European project is ours: let's roll up our sleeves for remain https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/european-project-is-ours-roll-up-your-sleeves-for-remain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How the EU got to where it is and what can be done about it. Chapter 8 of Blimey, it could be Brexit!</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Anthony.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Anthony.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anthony Barnett, speaking at Occupy Democracy, letmelooktv</span></span></span>I don’t know about you, but I am in bad company – the company of everybody else. I have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/chapter-two-dodgy-daves-referendum-deal">scorned</a> Britain’s self-described “Eurosceptic” prime minister and his <i>Remain</i> camp for being self-contradictory. He claims his deal delivers an unbelievable “best of both worlds” when by solemn treaty it means the UK commits itself to “facilitate” an ever-closer political union that he abhors. I have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/would-you-believe-it-boris-and-gove-defy-corporate-fatalism">scorned</a> the self-described “liberal-cosmopolitan” ex-mayor of London and the cohorts for <i>Leave,</i> as being self-contradictory for heralding an unbelievable economic renaissance to be brought about by independence from the EU thanks to returning democracy to Britain, meaning elective dictatorship. In a coming chapter I will scorn the leader of the Labour party for being self-contradictory if he wants to install the most left-wing government ever in the UK (which I applaud) while saying sweet Fanny Adam about the democratic challenge the EU presents (that the <i>Leave </i>campaigners are so right to pose), for to be left-wing and not constitutionally democratic is not to be left-wing at all. For this week’s example of being self-contradictory see <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/16/brexit-eu-referendum-boris-johnson-greece-tory">Paul Mason’s scorching assault</a> on the EU as the authoritarian host of “rentier monopoly corporations, tax-dodging elites and organised crime”, which we must nonetheless remain in to “bide our time”. </p><p>And now for mine. Hopefully it is only a mote and not a beam in my own eye but I support <a href="https://diem25.org/">DiEM 25</a>, the Democracy in Europe Movement, with its call to “Democratise Europe, or it will disintegrate!” I think this makes sense, as a way needs to be found for the EU to become a democratic process for Europeans or it can’t survive. But it must seem contradictory to call for membership of something that has to be dismantled if not overthrown! Just like everyone else, in this strange referendum, I am arguing against myself while trying to appear completely convinced of the coherence of my position.</p> <p>Why this set of tensions? The answer lies in the EU. I’m a war-baby, I first hollered in the months that German and Soviet armies battled through the winter for Stalingrad, to determine the European outcome of the second world war. In my lifetime the European Union is the most successful, progressive project of political transformation and human improvement bar none. Yet today it is an engine of division and reaction. The sequence that led it from its incredible benefits to its current disastrous influence is buried in the genome of its conception. But so too is the energy and life-force that has helped lift a continent from a nightmare of war, genocide and destruction to freedom, wealth and collaboration. To be for it, is to be against it. While the most interesting of the Brexiteers, Boris Johnson, is against it to be for it. </p> <p>Even to talk about the EU like this, however, creates a distance that I reject. I seem to move through the same countries and cities as those most engaged in the Brexit debate, but mine have a quite different colour and sense of belonging. It is as if I exist in a parallel universe of the kind that Philip Pullman makes so convincing in <i>His Dark Materials</i>. If I try to make a cut between my Europe and theirs, I’m sucked into a peculiar universe, which is not mine at all. Both sides of the official Remain and Leave campaign, for example, share two false premises: </p> <ol><li>that we in the UK are not European</li><li>that Britain is politically stable and economically successful </li></ol> <p>From this dual vantage point – or rather disadvantage point – it apparently makes sense to talk about how <i>we</i> can “get the best of both worlds” from <i>them</i>, how much<i> they</i> are failing to be democratic, unlike monarchical <i>us</i>, how <i>we</i> in the UK can “lead” <i>them</i> (Gordon Brown).</p> <p>The double-falsehood is no place to start a debate on the future of Britain and Europe. I want to rub this point home. For in one fundamental way I am not in the company of almost everybody else. I am part of the band who does not believe that whether or not we should be in the EU is a matter of calculation, profit or instrumentally computed advantage. The decision to have a plebiscite on whether the UK should <i>Remain</i> or <i>Leave</i> the EU has been called by a prime minister who did not want to have it, does not believe in the process, and will – <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/chapter-two-dodgy-daves-referendum-deal">as I have shown</a> – say anything his spin doctors tell him or his teleprompt puts in front of his eyes. The result of this unprincipled exercise is a debate dominated by arguments over financial gains and losses with both sides greedy for profit at the expense of the EU. Give us our money back, say the outers. Give us “the best of both worlds”, say the inners. What a crapulent, humiliating way of talking about what kind of country Britain is. </p> <p>The latest example is the shocking official <i>Remain </i>flyer that has just dropped through my front door, promoted by Will Straw. The front has six quotes, every single one is about money. The back it has five curt arguments concerning: jobs, finances, businesses, prices and public service cuts. Not a word about our democracy or liberty. It’s a serf’s charter, proclaiming everyone will be even more screwed if we leave than we are already. The prime minister declared the referendum to be about what kind of country we are. Well, now we know what kind of country he thinks we are. There is a story about the once famous playwright George Bernard Shaw talking with society debutants in the early twentieth century. Would you share the night with me, he asked, if I make sure you get a million pounds. They laughed with pleasure and delight. Would you sleep with me for £5 he continued. Shocked they said, “Who do you think we are?”. I already know, he replied, “we are haggling about the price.” Would you want to share your country, let alone the night, with those who talk the way our leaders do? Would you want to be a member a Union justified by haggling? Nor are Labour <i>Remain</i> argument's immune from this approach. Labour is the party of the screwed not the party of the screwers, so it is less cynical. But&nbsp; when it supports remaining in the EU because it has extended workers rights, it too treats the EU as just a means to an end. </p> <p>There are other universes too: above all, the EU’s own self-regarding one which is at least as bizarre as Westminster's. The European Union’s parallel universe is filled with a narcoleptic atmosphere deprived of oxygen – its institutions seem ubiquitous yet tenuous, apparently transparent yet suffocating. Show me the diagrams for the relationship between the Commission, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, Ecofin, the Eurogroup and Coreper; show me the way to the next whisky bar, oh don’t ask why… Here is the latest introduction to its legal database…</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Blimey pic.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Blimey pic.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="151" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Europe does not just issue a torrent of regulations, laws, treaties, judgements and proceedings there are also scenarios, pamphlets, studies, and theories, realist, neo-functionalist and so on, that are mind-numbing not because they are necessarily badly written but thanks to the airlessness of it all. </p><p>An outstanding exception is Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s <i>Brussels, the gentle Monster</i>. A slim 80 pages by the wonderful German poet and essayist published in 2011, he went to the buildings with a thousand windows to see what went on within. Dry and understated, it is impossible to read without shaking with laughter. On all those words, the poet observes that by 2005 the accumulated laws and regulations of the Union “which no soul has ever read” came to over 85,000 pages weighing “as much as a young rhinoceros”. Five years later and they weighed as much as two young rhinoceros.<a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm"> EUR-lex</a>, the database of all legal orders, records, ran to a grand 1,400,000 documents. This may be unfair as it includes multiple translations. From what I can <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/statistics/2012/eu-law-statistics.html">make out</a> the EU is generating 10,000 and 20,000 documents a year since 2010. </p> <p>Inspired by Enzensberger’s example without hoping to emulate his poetic brevity and touch, I want to try and understand what the European Union is, knowing that it is a changing and growing process. It can't be reduced to a single, teleological project whose only objective is the creation a super-state. Nor is it just a parliament for our continent. It is not a simple ‘thing’ like a bus or train. So what is it that the British voters must now decide whether to remain in, or to leave? The answer demands a necessarily difficult analysis, not least because British policy has been bound up in the EU’s current development. To try and answer it I’m going to set out some of the stages of my efforts to comprehend the EU on my journey to DiEM25. </p> <h2><strong>The Monnet Method, incremental transformation</strong></h2> <p>The European Economic Community or EEC (also known as The Common Market) of the six original countries, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, came into existence with the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It is now the European Union. I will keep to its current name throughout. As with many Brits at that time it was for me a background noise of failed attempts to join it, conducted by humiliatingly incapable governments Conservative and Labour, until Edward Heath became premier in 1970 and negotiated entry in 1972. This was the founding moment of the Brexit debate. Then as now it was fought within and between the Tories, with Enoch Powell combining the figures of Farage, Gove and Johnson in his singular character. (He aroused a hatred of immigrants that outruns Farage, spoke with the precise intellectualism of Gove, wrote better Latin than Johnson and harboured an ambition that matched them all). </p> <p>But there were differences. Most important, Heath was wholeheartedly in favour of Europe, making it a clash of principle. Second, there was no referendum. Instead there was a ‘great debate’, including a six-day one in the Commons (it is very revealing that, as I pointed out in the introduction, the Commons has not debated the deal negotiated by the prime minister at all, merely been allowed to ask him some questions when he presented it to the house). </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/The Left Against Europe.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/The Left Against Europe.jpg" alt="" title="" width="316" height="474" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The 1972 debate exposed a paradox. The supposedly internationalist left, whether Labour, socialist or Marxist, was almost universally opposed to entry whereas the supposedly nationalist Tory party overwhelmingly embraced it. Tom Nairn wrote an extraordinary, sustained essay, <i>The Left Against Europe</i> exposing the forces at work<i>.</i> It ran to a complete issue of New Left Review. Since I was then junior member of its editorial committee and there was a rota for editing and putting issues ‘to bed’ in the physical process of the time, I found myself in charge of publishing one of the greatest pieces of English polemical writing of the 20th century. I put this extract on the cover: </p><blockquote><p class="artbody">“To be in favour of Europe… does not imply surrender to or alliance with the left’s enemies. It means exactly the opposite. It signifies recognizing and meeting them as enemies, for what they are, upon the terrain of reality and the future.”</p></blockquote> <p>The experience has stayed with me. We are in a world that is profoundly right-wing, dedicated ideologically to the false idea that wealth is created and spread for the good of all by competition rather than being appropriated by power. Any effort to resist and replace this has to be where it is hardest and most decisive.</p> <p>I voted ‘Yes’ to Europe in the referendum of 1975. </p> <p>My next shaping encounter with the EU came a decade later, when I was asked to help draft and then started to run Charter 88. <a href="http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/pages/the-original-charter-88">The Charter 88 appeal</a> for human and democratic rights and a written constitution was a conscious attempt to make Britain a contemporary European country. It went out of its way to say:</p> <blockquote><p>“part of British sovereignty is shared with Europe; and the extension of social rights in a modern economy is a matter of debate everywhere. We cannot foretell the choices a free people may make.”</p></blockquote> <p>If Charter 88 had a defining cry it was ‘Citizens not Subjects!’ This remains an all too relevant call in the UK. It means that sovereignty should be vested in the people thanks to a democratic constitution we can call our own, not in ‘the Crown in Parliament’. But modern citizenship itself in a fast changing world of over-lapping sovereignties is a rich area for discussion and education. So I took an intense interest in the issue. (For an up to date engagement see Benjamin Ramm's <a href="http://citizensmanifesto.net/part-i/">Citizens’ Manifesto</a>). Keeping the Charter's campaign relevant to developments in Europe was also part of my job. So in 1992 I fell upon the EU's new Maastricht Treaty to read it for myself as soon as it was published, doubtless one of the few people in the UK to do so. I was gobsmacked. Without any advanced warning from the media that I was aware of I read that the twelve male heads of state gathered in Holland had: </p> <blockquote><p>"RESOLVED to establish a citizenship common to nationals of their countries” </p></blockquote><p>Indeed, they had inserted a new section into the Treaty ‘Citizenship of the Union’ which stated that </p><blockquote><p>“Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union</p></blockquote> <p>To which I could only say, “Really?”. Followed by, "This is unbelievable." Followed by something a great deal less polite.</p> <p>Citizenship is a powerful concept. How can twelve men “Resolve to establish” it for over 370 million others without even letting them know in advance? </p> <p>Something shady was taking place. Citizenship needs to be fought for, argued over and above all claimed. Now “every person” of the member states was re-branded without a by-your-leave. There can be moments in relationships when the person you love does something and part of you goes ‘uh oh’ and you try not to think about what it foretells. Only afterwards do you look back and realize that a ruinous flaw was revealed. I was campaigning flat out for citizenship in Britain. Suddenly, without any forewarning, my – no, our - European citizenship had been bestowed upon us like a sentence, through a secret process that I could do nothing but abhor. Here was this wonderful, transforming organisation that I admired and respected, even if I did not love it. And it had acted with complete distrust of its own people. </p> <p>When I stopped running Charter 88 in the mid-nineties I tried to think through the implications in terms of the combination of nationalism, democracy, capitalist globalisation and constitutional progress that marked the century’s last decade. Two arguments stood out from the dross with respect to the EU. Alan Milward’s great book, <a href="v"><i>The European Rescue of the Nation State</i></a><i> </i>showed me how, country by country, the European Union grew out of the need for a profound post-war reconstruction, including full employment, welfare and education, across all the belligerents. The shared framework of the EU did not dissolve their socio-economic development into a single entity but rather provided the pattern for their collaboration as non-belligerent societies. This, then, renewed them as nations and did not dissolve them into a single entity. It gives the EU a quite different feel if you see it as enhancing its member nations as nations, rather than undermining them. </p><p>The second was a forensic analysis of the inner capacity of the EU, in generous review of Milward by Perry Anderson (reprinted in his <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/362"><i>The New Old World</i></a>). He identifies the political process that created the European Union whose chief architect was Jean Monnet. Anderson quotes Monnet as saying, “We are starting a process of continuous reform that can shape tomorrow’s world more lastingly than the principles of revolution” and he describes this as “incremental totalization”. Monnet’s strategy is an alternative to Leninism. It sets itself an unparalleled, ambitious objective “a democratic supra-national federation”. It then goes about achieving this “enterprise of unrivalled scope” through “drab institutional steps” that relied on “narrow social supports”. </p><p>In Britain I was being told that it was impossible to achieve anything as modest as a written constitution without a violent revolution or a war. Yet here was a process with far bolder aims achieving them in times of peace. It was surely an example for anyone on the left: a process that did not bend to the winds of change but stood and generated them. Roberto Unger argues that the left must stop being conservative and become utopian while having the imagination to invent the small, immediate practical steps that can take us on the way to a goal that makes us all fully human. Monnet’s method shows how this can be done. Not by the sleight of hand and denial of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Pelerin_Society">Mont Pelerin</a> gang, plotting their triumph of the market, but by an open declaration of a political goal. (That the EU too was captured by Hayekian neoliberalism is not the point: indeed you could argue that its obvious crisis is due to the incompatibility of these two forms of transformation.) </p> <p>There is a profound revulsion in the British Conservative party to the EU and its entire works shared by both those wishing to <i>Remain</i> and those for <i>Leave</i>. This is because all Tories desire to minimise change to our political structures – their core project is to conserve. But the whole point of the EU is to move things on, to build new institutions and define anew how power operates and to share sovereignty. This does not necessarily mean the replacement of the nation state by a Euro-super-state but it must mean, indeed it is meant to mean, the practical, moral and psychological ending of Europe's antagonistic old regimes – of which both Hitler’s empire and Britain’s were examples. All Tories are agreed they cannot participate in this 'unBritish' project. Given the EU’s size and influence and role in supporting corporate power, one wing of the Conservative party wishes to exploit it. In Cameron’s language, to retain a “special, best of both worlds” relationship so as to to lever the UK's influence in global affairs. The other wing fears that such blatant corporate sycophancy risks the loss of traditional loyalty and prefers a different wager: to rely on British skills as a global Singapore. Both wings abhor the Monnet project of shared change and want no part in it. One day an English left will be born that can grasp the opportunity that the European process offers. </p> <p>But can there be such a thing as a “<i>democratic</i> supra-national federation”? As so many are slagging off the EU at the moment it is important to salute its democratising achievements. These were not just to create a zone of peace where there had been war, genocide, firestorm bombing of civilians (especially by the allies) and forced labour on a catastrophic scale after 1945. The EU reversed fascism in Spain, Portugal and Greece in the 1970s, supported the democratisation of Eastern Europe in the 1990s, and raised human rights standards everywhere. To give an example, rarely acknowledged in self-satisfied world of Westminster and the London media, the Northern Ireland peace settlement is a product of the Europeanization of Ireland as a whole including, however grudgingly, the Catholic and especially the Protestant communities in the North and the UK itself. (This myopia continues in the Brexit debate, with neither the official <i>Leave</i> nor <i>Remain</i> camp being able to acknowledge the intrinsic value of the European Union to British democracy in this part of the United Kingdom).</p> <p>The EU has always been top down and suffered a democratic dearth. But when its actions removed impediments between member countries and population and abolished restrictions it created openness. This then received popular consent from publics across the EU who appreciated the way it made life better and increased horizons. But when the EU switched from negative actions that took down barriers to positive integration, establishing institutions, legal systems, regulations and indeed “citizens”, then its top down nature caused resentment and began to be experienced as an imposition not emancipation. Maastricht reinforced this. At the very moment that the end of the Cold War finally created an undivided continent ready for democracy, the leaders of Europe began to levitate themselves upwards, beyond the reach of the grubby hands of the demos. </p> <p>The central issue, which demands a much fuller treatment than I can give it here, is the nature of nationalism in a multi-national and now digital world. Politically, the cardinal issue for the European Union is the relationship between nationalism and democracy. For some in the Brussels elite, the ‘mere’ nationalism of 'mere' nation states is something that their long-term aim is to marginalise, as a feudal hangover. They have set themselves against the democracy of ‘narrow’ nationalism, as they see it, and seek to replace it with public support for a united Europe ‘fit’ for global competition. In effect such members of the Eure-elite are wedded to up-scaling an old regime mentality. British Tories should not alone in opposing this, indeed it is essential that such opposition is not confined to right-wing, populist nationalism. </p> <p>Another, quite different process has also been released by the EU, as in its enhancement of its member nationalities. The EU’s member nations have formally renounced important aspects of their sovereignty in order to enhance their national interest. Such a politics is only sustainable if their voting publics feel their lives and humanity improved by their participation in an EU that makes them feel European <i>as well as</i> and not instead of their national identity. Just as there are different levels of democracy and self-government, so nationalism is being re-imagined into a plural multi-layered form of patriotism. This has to mean, however, revitalising not replacing civic national power alongside European collaboration. Ideally, each European country would seek to protect the national interests of the others. In turn this means our concept of who we are as citizens becomes a plural rather than a singular identity. </p> <p>If this sounds abstract it’s because it is hard to envisage until experienced. At the end of the nineties I became friends with Reinhard Hesse who lived the spirit of what I am trying to describe. He was a speechwriter and collaborator of Gerhard Schröder, who became Germany’s Social Democrat Chancellor. Reinhard was at home in French, English as well as Arabic. Profoundly a man of the left, he lived in “the terrain of reality”. We discussed the creation and launch of openDemocracy with the aim of creating a space for a European debate. On 17 May 2001, Reinhard launched the brand new website’s ‘Europa Debate’ with a witty and perceptive <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_337.jsp">Letter for Europe</a>. Given Boris Johnson’s recent warning of a new Hitlerian Reich, this passage from it seems up to date exactly fifteen years on, it was in response to that same trope being recycled by a Tory backbencher,</p> <blockquote><p>"They do say that a few lunatics once in a while make democracy a worthwhile experience. Thanks, for the reminder that the <i>Achtung! Schtrumpf! Heil Hitler! </i>crap of B-movie fame has not altogether disappeared from the public debate.</p></blockquote> <p>More seriously, Reinhard argued, “But something is not happening. We are Europeans on the ground. We are Europeans in our stomachs, as a succession of food crises has shown, but we are not Europeans in our heads”. &nbsp;His last article for openDemocracy, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/article_1970.jsp">Crossroads or Roundabouts, where now for Europe</a>, written in June 2004, just before his fatal illness was diagnosed, wrestles with this theme but under much greater stress, in the shadow of terrorism and the Iraq war. Consistently, he battled and scorned abstract Euroscelorotic language. He welcomed the British government’s recent announcement that it would put any proposed European constitution to a referendum, because for him Europe needed the peoples’ support. </p><p>Four months later I had the baleful task of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2158.jsp">speaking about Reinhard</a> at the memorial meeting for him in Berlin, in front of the Chancellor. Losing, our key European advisor was a great blow to openDemocracy especially as a larger strategic setback was sinking in. At the start of the century when we were planning its launch I assumed that there was nascent European public interest in debating the continent’s democratic future, ready to take advantage of the new medium of the web. Not a ‘demos’ but enough people like Reinhard, democrats committed to the EU and wanting a public forum, to create a self-aware ‘continental’ readership. This was not to be. Even at a relatively elite level of those interested in current affairs the existence of a web platform did not overcome what James Curran calls “nationalist and localist cultures” in his <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/james-curran/why-has-internet-changed-so-little">Why Did the Internet Change So Little?</a> </p><p>It is well and good to call for the EU to be more democratic. But if hardly anyone wants to be a democratic European it cuts no ice. There is only one alternative to spontaneous, organic demand from below in response to the new situation, namely the conscious creation and orchestration of such demand by dedicated advocates through persuasion and example. This needs funding and support necessarily independent of the EU institutions themselves. Apart from the outstanding efforts of George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Foundation, whose contribution to defending the civilisation of the continent is without parallel (and whose Institute and Foundation support the work of openDemocracy), there were few organisations willing to act. There are many wealthy ones committed to worthy public ends, such as those affiliated to the <a href="http://www.efc.be/">European Foundation Centre</a> with its programme of supporting democracy and debate. But as multilingual European journals and websites designed for the intelligent public and in need of only modest support have closed this century it is clear a significant abstention is at work, which has contributed to the present democratic vacuity of the EU process. </p><p>Perhaps the best way of to see this is by comparison with the nascent bourgeoisie that initiated movements for national self-determination in 19th century Europe and recruited the public into them, whether through trade unions or churches, or warfare. Today, there is no nascent Eurogeoisie seeking the dangerous support of the unwashed or even unwashed journalists to help further its influence. Early capitalist liberalism was up against absolutist monarchs and had feudal restrictions to overcome. It needed to enlist if not ‘the masses’ certainly the skilled professional classes into becoming a patriotic public. This in turn needed a media. By contrast today’s Eurogeoisie has no need for popular consent, indeed the less of it the better. They are already in charge! Despite their fine sentiments real, actual democracy is seen as a potential ‘anti-European’ enemy, a threat to the larger project, that is to say their own monopoly of it. It was precisely the frankness, the wit, the caustic realism, a writer’s sense of how things looked from below, which Reinhard’s skills exemplified, that they did <i>not</i> want! When it was needed most, the seed bed of European democracy was left to wither.</p><h2>Lisbon and the end of the EU’s attempt at democracy</h2> <p>The absence of a lively, memorable trans-European debate was particularly egregious because this was the time, 2002-4, that the EU began the process of turning itself into a constitutional entity. A more robust institutional framework was needed for the Eurozone (the Euro was launched as a currency on 1 January 2002) along with rules for flexibility as ten countries (eight former communist ones plus Malta and Cyprus) were scheduled to join the EU in May 2004. &nbsp;</p><p> The Blair government, a keen proponent of anything that would make Europe a base for the projection of power and 'world leadership', backed the creation of a European constitution. To prove the British government’s strong support it sent one of the Labour party’s most pro-European MPs, Gisela Stuart, of German origin and representing Neville Chamberlain’s old constituency, as one of its representatives to the <a href="http://www.hrcr.org/hottopics/EuropeanC.html">Constitutional Convention on the Future of Europe</a>. Today she is the <a href="http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/gisela_stuart_exposes_the_risks_of_staying_in_the_eu">Chair of Vote Leave</a>. Her exceptionally open and honestly traveled trajectory is prefigured in a report she wrote while the Convention, with its 105 members, was still in process. It is from a Fabian pamphlet and was published <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/dec/08/eu.politics2">in the Guardian</a> in December 2003. It is worth quoting as length because it takes you right into the way the EU was being refashioned: </p><blockquote><p>“I entered the process with enthusiasm… But I confess, after 16 months at the heart of the process, I am concerned about many aspects of the constitution… The most frequently cited justifications for a written constitution for Europe have been the need to make the treaties more understandable to European voters and the need to streamline the decision-making procedures of the European Union after enlargement. I support both of these aims. But the draft document in four parts and 335 pages in the official version, is hardly the handy accessible document to be carried around in a coat pocket which some had hoped for at the outset. From my experience at the convention it is clear that the real reason for the constitution – and its main impact – is the political deepening of the union. This objective was brought home to me when I was told on numerous occasions: "You and the British may not accept this yet, but you will in a few years' time." </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The convention [has] brought together a self-selected group of the European political elite, many of whom have their eyes on a career at a European level, which is dependent on more and more integration and who see national governments and national parliaments as an obstacle. Not once in the 16 months I spent on the convention did representatives question whether deeper integration is what the people of Europe want, whether it serves their best interests or whether it provides the best basis for a sustainable structure for an expanding union. The debates focused solely on where we could do more at European Union level. None of the existing policies were questioned… This Treaty establishing a constitution… will be difficult to amend and will be subject to interpretation by the European court of justice. And if it remains in its current form, the new constitution will be able to create powers for itself. It cannot be viewed piecemeal... we have to look at the underlying spirit. </p></blockquote><p>Little wonder that the official European spirit did not want websites biting at its heels. Gisela Stuart argued that any proposed constitution for Europe be put to a referendum and in April 2004 Tony Blair was persuaded by Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, to promise one – otherwise they would be defeated in the House of Lords if not in the coming general election. </p> <p>The British decision forced the hand of President Chirac in France. Every household in France was sent their own copy of the final constitutional document. Shortly after the UK returned Blair as prime minister in early May 2005 (on a record low of 35% of the vote), the French rejected the proposed EU Constitution by 55% to 45% on a turnout of 69%; three days later, the Dutch were even more decisive and gave the constitution a thumbs down of 61% to 39%. Already alarmed that they would be humiliated in any referendum, a relieved Jack Straw phoned Blair to tell him the early news of the French result: there would be no need for the UK to consult its voters now the French had rendered the proposed constitution otiose. “<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jun/20/whitehall.politics">What a tart</a>”, Blair commented, when he put down the phone. (An apt one word description of the whole Blair gang).&nbsp; </p> <p>The French and Dutch votes were the moment of truth for the European project. For the first time a full Treaty that was being proposed was put to people, to its own designated ‘citizens’ indeed, in their respective countries to decide. The Spanish voted enthusiastically in favour. Then the twin rejection followed in two of the original six. Obviously, a profound re-think in Brussels was called for. It had to rise to the challenge to create the public debate essential to winning support for the integration it envisaged. </p> <p>By luck, in Brussels, I went to see one of the most senior members of the European Council’s General Secretariat in his office shortly after the double referendum outcomes. He was shaken. The French vote against the proposed constitution was due to Chirac playing politics, he said, in effect already persuading himself that France had not <i>really</i> rejected it. But the Dutch! For Holland, the most European country of all European countries, at the centre of its trading networks, cosmopolitan and without great power pretensions of its own, to have turned down the European process so decisively… he shook his head in disbelief. </p> <p>The result for openDemocracy was the most sophisticated description I have read of the four reasons why the EU is important but is not a super-state. In late June 2005, less than two months after the Franco-Dutch rejection, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/union_2623.jsp">What the European Union Is</a> was published under his nom de plume of Simon Berlaymont (the name of the vast building housing the headquarters of the European Commission). Alas, the article’s purpose was to set out why it should not have been called 'a constitution' in the first place, thus arousing the public and setting off demand for consultation, :</p> <blockquote><p>“The fact that the treaty was drawn up by a “convention” and that it calls itself (in big print) a “constitution” does not change the reality that it is an intergovernmental document: the title begins with the word “treaty”, in small print, but this is what it is. “Constitution” is a part of the excessive <a target="_blank" href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/europe/euro-glossary/default.stm">rhetoric of Europe</a> that obscures rather than illuminates, and threatens when what is needed is reassurance</p></blockquote> <p>This was the approach the mandarins of Brussels adopted to persuade themselves and Europe's leaders that they could recycle the draft Constitution into a ‘non-constitution’ that could come about without referendums, using inter-governmental treaty change alone. If the peoples of the nations of Europe did not wish to change the way they were governed it was because they were trapped in the past; therefore the government of the continent would best be changed without consulting them. The outcome was the Treaty of Lisbon. Signed at the end of 2007 and coming into force in 2009, the constituent parts of the proposed constitution were spread out as amendments of previous treaties. Repackaged, the main change turned out to be the elimination of the word ‘constitution’. Giscard d'Estaing, the former French President who had headed the Constitutional Convention could not resist winding up the English by gloating in <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/valeacutery-giscard-destaing-the-eu-treaty-is-the-same-as-the-constitution-398286.html">The Independent</a> that, “The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content….” </p> <blockquote><p>“In terms of content, the proposed institutional reforms – the only ones which mattered to the drafting Convention – are all to be found in the Treaty of Lisbon… There are, however, some differences. Firstly, the noun "constitution" and the adjective "constitutional" have been banished from the text… all mention of the symbols of the EU have been suppressed, including the flag (which already flies everywhere)… </p></blockquote> <p>‘Simon Berlaymont’ justified this disgraceful outcome in 2007 in a farewell to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/tony_blair_and_europe.jsp">Tony Blair and Europe</a>, also published in openDemocracy:</p> <blockquote><p>“The virus of referenda is contagious. Blair caught it from a weak and divided Conservative Party that needed to avoid the responsibility for taking decisions itself. Later he found himself too weak to resist when they called for a referendum on the constitutional treaty… Referenda are more associated with continental countries, and then not always with their most democratic moments. The virus then spread to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/democractic_deficit_3610.jsp">France </a>and the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe_constitution/holland_2567.jsp">Netherlands</a>; in France in particular it was always going to be difficult to resist calls for a popular vote on something calling itself a constitution… </p></blockquote> <p>There you have it, the judgment of the people is reduced to an infection, with even less life in it than vermin. Referendums are a virus. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/lisbon.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/lisbon.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="210" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Lisbon made the EU an independent legal entity, which it had not been before. It created a diplomatic apparatus in parallel to those of the EU’s nation states. It charged the European Court in Luxembourg with the power to impose its judgments on all member governments. Whether this is ‘really’ a constitution is sophistry. Whatever it is, it demanded the positive assent of the EU population, based on a coherent understanding of what it proposed. Faced with the Dutch and French rejections the apparatchiks of the EU should have accepted the peoples’ verdict and stood the process down until they had gained such consent. Instead, urged on by Blair, the EU abandoned democracy in favour of a capacity to project its power. Lisbon replaced all previous existing treaties, from Rome to Maastricht. Today, it <i>is</i> now the Treaty of the EU. With the decision to defy the peoples’ verdict built into it, the European Union has become a flagrantly undemocratic oligarchy. There is a direct line of descent from Lisbon to the German finance minister <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/05/yanis-varoufakis-why-we-must-save-the-eu">telling his counterparts</a> in the European Union last year, “elections cannot be allowed to change an economic programme of a member state”. </p> <p>In effect, the EU betrayed itself. So profoundly, it cannot survive in its present form. It was one thing, mistaken perhaps but honourable, to foresee the <i>replacement</i> of national nationalisms with a European patriotism, larger, more expansive, implicitly more civilised, in the long-term prospectus of Europe’s “ever closer union”. This vision of a 'super-state' foresaw a European democracy, a power that won the active assent of the peoples of the continent, indeed without such energy and loyalty it cannot succeed if the idea is to compete with global powers such as the USA and China. This option has been foreclosed for the existing EU thanks to the way its institutions have been set up by Lisbon. A form of rule created in plain defiance of the popular will is not going to be able to recruit it, at least not without undergoing a deep transformation. If Brussels is a caterpillar intending to turn into a democratic butterfly the process of cocooning itself is going to be very painful indeed. </p> <p>Some of its recruits can dream about it, though. I experienced one such idealisation when, while the process of moving towards Lisbon was underway, Margot Wallström, the EU’s Vice President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, launched Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate. It was about “Making your voice heard”. For me it came to demonstrate the futility of worthy calls for more democracy. Six “citizen dialogue” projects were created. The King Baudouin Foundation funded a massive exercise in participative democracy. This recruited a random selected, representative sample of Europeans to participate in a reflection on what the European Union should become – making their voices heard. James Fishkin, who had developed the methodology, and whom I knew from my proposal to turn the House of Lords into a chamber <a href="http://www.imprint.co.uk/books/9781845401399.html">selected by lot</a>, was one of those recruited to design the whole exercise. Tony Curzon Price was openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief and with his generous interest in innovation he oversaw a big effort to cover the whole process, with Jessica Reed, J Clive Matthews and many others. </p> <p>I went to watch one of the sessions in Brussels. A hall of citizens from across the continent sat in small groups, each around a table, supported by phalanxes of simultaneous translators. For the first time I felt that Europe actually was in Brussels. But what came of it? A massive and doubtless still fascinating ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/blog/dliberation">dLiberation Blog’</a> on openDemocracy along with a shorter <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/blog_terms/european_citizens_consultations_0">Citizens consultation blog</a> and thousands more well intentioned words elsewhere. But not a dent on the EU itself, no particular advance towards democracy of any kind thanks to all the effort and expenditure, nor any measurable increase in wider public support. The exercised demonstrated a crucial fact about all attempts to make the EU as it now is more democratic. It is pointless to try and add more democracy to Europe’s lack of democracy. The ‘idea of Europe’ sucked in energy like a black hole with results ordained to be invisible. </p> <p>Among the reasons for this was the Euro, then in the background, pumping the boom; its undemocratic character waiting beneath its shroud for the crash of 2008 to scythe the young of southern Europe from employment. Wolfgang Streek, in <a href="v"><i>Buying Time, the Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism</i></a><i> </i>captures the cultural implications of a shared currency created without democracy:</p> <blockquote><p class="Body">“The society needed for this must have a high tolerance of economic inequality. Its surplus population must have learned to regard politics as middle-class entertainment from which it has nothing to expect. Its worldviews and identifications it must derive not from politics but from the dream factories of the global cultural industry, whose massive profits must also serve to legitimate the rapidly increasing extraction of surplus value by the stars of other sectors, especially the money industry. (p 117)</p></blockquote> <h2><strong>DiEM25</strong></h2> <p>What to do about an EU that has turned from a system of solidarity to one generating division and chauvinism as its dream-factories crumble? In 2012 I was asked by Neil Belton and Fintan O’Toole to contribute a chapter on Europe to the collection Faber were publishing, <a href="http://www.faber.co.uk/9780571289011-up-the-republic.html">Up the Republic!</a> I wrestled with the material for two months but could not resolve my own view. I found it intolerable for Europe to continue as it is doing but equally intolerable to be against Europe. I had experienced the fruitlessness of efforts at adding ‘more democracy’ to it and could not advocate that kind of reform. But a return to nation states outside its framework was asking for reaction not republican self-government. I abandoned the effort, unable to resolve what a ‘republican’ approach should be for the EU. </p> <p>This year a new analysis and call to arms for a democratic Europe has solved the problem, at least of where to start, thanks to Yanis Varoufakis. Far from sitting at a desk scratching his head about a chapter, he was propelled into the lion’s cauldron, the Eurogroup itself. He emerged badly gored but alive and defiant. Varoufakis personifies the rise of Syriza to power in Greece, thanks to its current prime minister Alexis Tsipras, an exceptional “political engineer”; the clarity of Syriza’s objections to the imposition of self-defeating austerity programmes by the Eurogroup; and the popular defiance of the EU’s conditions summed up by “Oxi”, the “No” vote supported by 61% of Greeks in their 2015 referendum. Tsipras then felt obliged to capitulate, Varoufakis did not. Instead, after he resigned, as he explained <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-michel-feher/europe-and-spectre-of-democracy">to Michel Feher</a>, he went round Europe in the wake of the debacle and found people had:</p> <blockquote><p>&nbsp;“a sense of foreboding, and a sense of concern, about what effect the crushing of the Greek government would have on them, their societies… on the capacities of their communities to make decisions pertinent to their own life…. soon I had this idea and scenario in mind: as Europeans we [must] harness the feeling that truly binds us together and allows us to redefine European identity on the basis of resistance… We can harness that spirit of concern for locality alongside the concern for the globality of Europe in order to create an alternative. We can stay in Europe in order to challenge head-on the highly anti-democratic processes and institutions of the European Union, and we can salvage Europe and the European Union from it. </p></blockquote><p>Out of this experience came <a href="https://diem25.org/">DiEM25</a>, a manifesto for a democratic Europe. I should declare a small interest: I was privileged to make suggestions to an early draft. But the basic argument of <a href="https://diem25.org/manifesto-long/#1455748557510-0f5628de-b3a0">the long version</a> had nothing to do with me and I can praise it unconditionally. After saluting the EU as a historic peace project, it nails its dark side: </p> <blockquote><p>“From an economic viewpoint, the EU began life as a cartel of heavy industry (later co-opting farm owners) determined to fix prices and to re-distribute oligopoly profits through its Brussels bureaucracy. The emergent cartel, and its Brussels-based administrators, feared the demos and despised the idea of government-by-the-people.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“Patiently and methodically, a process of de-politicising decision-making was put in place, the result being a draining but relentless drive toward taking-the-demos-out-of-democracy and cloaking all policy-making in a pervasive pseudo-technocratic fatalism. National politicians were rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence to turning the Commission, the Council, the Ecofin, the Eurogroup and the ECB, into politics-free zones. Anyone opposing this process of de-politicisation was labelled ‘un-European’ and treated as a jarring dissonance. </p></blockquote><p>The result, “is to prevent Europeans from exercising democratic control over their money, finance, working conditions and environment”. The DiEM Manifesto adds, “the price of this deceit is not merely the end of democracy but also poor economic policies.” It is an increasingly <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/maddening-times">familiar</a> argument, that neo-liberalism or market fundamentalism is stealing the language of democracy to create a disenchantment with politics, as in <a href="http://www.zonebooks.org/titles/BROW_UND.html">Wendy Brown’s</a> description of it as a “stealth revolution”. But in the DiEM manifesto this critique has ceased to be an academic analysis. For it emerges from the experience of the cauldron itself. Thanks to Greek defiance we have witnessed the brutal imposition of the ‘technical’ on the democratic. Behind the stealth we have seen the steel; as the confrontation exposed the policies and interests behind the financial mask of neutrality. Which means in turn that the manifestos call for making the processes democratic is also a call for honesty that could become popular.</p> <p>The Monnet method of incremental progress towards an extraordinarily ambitious goal of European unification turns out to have been driven by a cartel consciousness. When bringing down barriers it was experienced as opening up Europe despite its closed procedure, as it made everyone more European. When, after Maastricht, it began to erect a machinery of its own centralised government, it began to treat national objections just as a cartel would: as a virus to be patiently but clinically exterminated. </p> <p>The fundamental difference between the numerous worthy, Plan-D type calls for the EU to have "more democracy", such as a better parliament, and the approach of DiEM is that DiEM 25 demands that the core institutions of the EU be replaced with a democratic heart transplant. The demand is cultural as well as institutional: the veil of technical neutrality must be pulled aside on economic decision-making to reverse the EU’s depoliticisation of democracy. </p> <p>Thanks to its late-modern construction in the era of market fundamentalism, the EU perhaps more than any other civic entity, seeks to put questions of the economy and therefore of equality ‘beyond’ politics and democracy. It is this defining process that DiEM 25 defies and aims to dismantle. It is a call to confront the absence of democracy not a plea for democracy to be tacked onto the absence. </p> <p>My own view is that any such strategy requires the abolition of the monopoly of the Euro as a single currency. It can continue to exist and be overseen by the European Central Bank, but on an agreed day all the Eurozone countries should issue their own currency to float against the Euro and restore flexibility to them. There can’t be an open economic and political process while societies of over 500 million souls, all of which are already proud democracies, have to relinquish all control of their money. It will also mean abandoning the aim of creating a single political-economic power that can exercise hegemony on a world scale as an equal of the USA, and China; the wet dream of Berlaymont towers. &nbsp;</p> <p>What kind of organization is this DiEM25 with the audacity to harbour such thoughts, even if unofficially for mine have no particular standing? It was launched at the <i>Volksbühne</i> in Berlin on 9 February by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis-sre-ko-horvat/press-conference-diem25-launched-by-yanis-varoufak">Yanis Varoufakis and Srecko Horvat</a>. It is greatly to their credit they propose an experimental process in which others will create it equally. Varoufakis had told Feher it will “evolve organically”. </p> <blockquote><p>“DiEM is a movement. It is not a party, a trade-union, a think-thank or a conference. It’s a surge: a surge of European democrats who are moving together to seize control, to put the demos back in democracy at the European level, and to infect every nook and cranny of the EU with democracy. It is a totally utopian project, and it’s very likely to fail. But it is the only alternative to the awful dystopia that we are facing if we don’t do anything at all.”</p></blockquote> <p>The launch saw a day of three intense, crowded sessions of discussion between activists from across Europe (the third of which was chaired by oD’s editor-in-chief Mary Fitzgerald). A packed evening rally followed. The discussions mixed concerns and confidence: in many countries, especially Austria and Eastern Europe, it is the right that holds “the streets”; the danger of populism with the likelihood of deflation caused alarm; immigration is generating misanthropy. Well-articulated descriptions of the decomposition of traditional organizations, social democratic and trade union, provided the backdrop. But along with the defeat in Greece there was the success of Barcelona. Its deputy mayor suggested a new International Brigade to assist it and called for more “rebel cities”. This took the argument on to the commons and the potential political economy of a shared, progressive Europe. </p> <p>Paradoxically, DiEM could gain more traction thanks to the bleak veracity of its vision than from any idealisation of what is possible. In Berlin, Madrid and now across France with the Nuit Debout, it draws on the unruly energy of a <a href="http://www.precariouseurope.com/">precariat</a> and its ‘digital natives’ starting to experience themselves as a trans-European class. If DiEM can find and build an agency, to use a technical term, the as yet unknown form for organizing the surge may be found, drawing perhaps on the experience of the Sanders surge in the United States.</p> <p>The <i>Volksbühne</i> launch rally in the evening brought together a unique alliance of speakers. Among many were Caroline Lucas, an English Green, Hans-Jurgan Urban, who runs Germany’s IG Metal trade union, with its 2.4 million members side by side with Anna Stiede of the Blockupy movement, a wonderfully incongruous pairing. Predictably it included some leftist ranting of the cock-sure kind I associate with a lost cause. But there was also Brian Eno in conclusion, reminding the hall carefully and emphatically that “democracy is for people who do not know what to think”, keeping the whole process open.</p> <p>The promise of DiEM25 lies in the puzzle as to its nature, sidestepping usual categories. What makes it potentially influential is that it is a platform rather than a traditional ‘cause’, a space fit for digital times – a platform with a focus of course, setting out to re-politicise policy-making, especially in their economic and financial spheres, to bring back financial and monetary strategy to the reach of democracy. Such an open cause can become a springboard for projects and experiments that combat the marketisation and de-democratisation of power while networking across the European zones. Labour's <a href="http://press.labour.org.uk/post/144497277949/labours-shadow-chancellor-john-mcdonnell-mp">John McDonnell</a> has just made the young generation the centre of his call for <i>Remain</i>, rightly so; the test being if his party can embrace their culture. For we will not achieve the democratisation of the EU by traditional 'party political' means for its structures are fully prepared to repulse them, as Varoufakis has argued.</p> <p>The democratisation of the EU is an extraordinarily ambitious goal. The only way of achieving it is to turn the ‘Monnet method’ against the monolith that Monnet’s project has become: to hold to the overarching ambition while creating small realities that shape the long-term outcomes that can achieve it, strengthened by the hope of a new generation. Also, we can be emboldened by the weakness of the EU. As long ago as 2012, Martin Wolf writing in the <a href="https://next.ft.com/content/782965e6-87b1-11e1-ade2-00144feab49a">Financial Times</a> concluded, "The principal economic force now keeping the system together is fear of a break-up". This is far from the strongest of foundations! It exposes both the role of the Euro and the way it is run to a potentially successful challenge. </p> <p>To return to the UK’s referendum from this perspective is to ask what is the next small step to take. If your concern is simply Britain then Boris and his band of Brexiteers have the better argument, indeed the only argument with any patriotic integrity and republican virtue (of course, the UK is likely to be poorer and they should not pretend otherwise). 'Republican' in the sense that Walter Bagehot, founder of the Economist and author of The English Constitution, asserted, when he showed that behind the decoration of monarchy the Kingdom is a better-governed republic than the United States. The Brexit camp cares about how we are governed, the nature of our democracy and they scorn the undemocratic nature of the EU. On these issues Cameron, Osborne and their fellow Remainers and collaborators like Andrew Marr are silent. They know they are selling the country to the global corporate forces, which are funding their campaign and coming out openly in support of it; this being no ‘conspiracy’. It applies to their corporate Labour bed-fellows too, whether Blair with his £2 million a year fee from Wall Street’s J.P Morgan, or Peter Mandelson, friend of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099254/Victory-Daily-Mail-Banker-Nathaniel-Rothschild-loses-libel-action-Lord-Mandelson-meeting-report.html">Deripaska</a> and company. Their alarm, which is evident in the exaggerated claims of disaster as to what will happen to the UK’s economy if the people vote <i>Leave</i>, is indeed for them a genuine worry about the end of the world – as they know it. Their concern is not so much with what might happen to Britain, the British people, the country’s security or ability to go to war. Instead, just look at the rise of inequality they and their corporate caste have overseen since 1997 and its crippling impacts and you can see the process they are defending. If there is a sense of panic in their warnings it is over losing their place in the cocktail parties of the international power elite&nbsp; – to which they genuinely see 'no alternative'. </p><p>If, however, you feel in part European, if you regard yourself and your concerns for your country, whether England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or just plain Britain, as something that also extends to our continental home with France, Italy, Spain and Germany not to speak of Holland, Norway, Poland and Greece to choose just eight examples from 30 plus in and around the EU; and if you hold such feelings as a democrat who wants a more equal, less money obsessed continent, then why would you want Britain to be run by the Brexit crowd and their hedge fund supporters, setting themselves in competition with the EU, under the vile, authoritarian conditions of British winner-takes-all politics? Especially when the failures of the EU mean it will have to change. </p><p>The coming fight for Europe is our fight. Lose it and we lose it here across the UK. Whether we <i>Leave</i> or <i>Remain</i>, if the EU turns irrevocably sour, neo-liberal, authoritarian and chauvinistic, so will the British Isles. Across our continent, an EU that regards the judgment of the people as a form of virus has lost its legitimacy. It is ripe for challenge. Think this, and DiEM 25 creates an open platform for creation of a democratic Europe of democratic nations. The EU has already been created through Monnet’s method of incremental yet transformative reform. Now it is the peoples’ turn to apply this peaceful but thoroughgoing approach to take back our European economy from corporate power. Think this, and roll up your sleeves for <i>Remain</i>. </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="/blimey-it-could-be-brexit">Blimey, it could be Brexit! The whole book so far.</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 Thu, 19 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Anthony Barnett 102238 at https://opendemocracy.net Dear Greens https://opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/dear-greens <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the first of a series of letters to progressive parties, the chair of Compass encourages the Green Party to drive the political debate.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 20.05.37.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 20.05.37.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry/image: Green Party</span></span></span></p> <p>Dear Greens,</p> <p>This is the first of a series ‘letters’ to the main progressive political parties in the UK. No one asked me to write and I guess only those that want to be constructively challenged will read them. But that is the spirit in which this and the letters to follow are meant, somewhere between generosity and hope, and realism and frustration that our political system isn’t working and none of our parties are yet good enough on their own – but might be together. So here goes.</p> <p>Your party, in policy terms, is close to my heart.&nbsp; Proportional representation, a basic income, anti-austerity measures such as Green QE and of course real sustainability, not green wash, what is not to like? And a little over a year ago you were given national recognition through the membership surge you momentarily enjoyed. Thousands of new people joined and you got an unprecedented slice of the vote – with over 1 million backers. </p> <p>It should have been the big break though. But of course it wasn’t. The electoral system is rigged against you and you won only one seat. Of course Caroline Lucas is one of the best progressive politicians in the Commons but isn’t that where the parliamentary road to sustainability ends? Under First Past the Post (FPTP) the one seat you have is likely to be only seat you will ever have. Where you are second you are so far behind you are unlikely to ever catch up and if you do – you are second to Labour. So even unlikely success does nothing to dent the Tory majority. The recent local election results confirm the mini-surge is over. Yes the excellent Sian Berry ran a good campaign in London, but in a Corbyn world you have lost support to Labour in key places like Norwich and Bristol. The moment is the sun on the Brighton council is over. Yes in Scotland under PR you won more MSP seats – but not as many as you thought.&nbsp; </p> <p>What is your future, where is energy and purpose to come from and what is the place of the Green Party in the 21st century? With Natalie standing down, the election of a new leader, or even leaders, is the chance to have a real strategic debate. You must take it. Since the general election I’ve not heard much deep thinking and vigorous debate from you? It’s worrying. So here are some issues that might provoke some renewable heat and light. </p> <p>Unlike the recommendation of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/17/the-guardian-view-on-the-green-party-narrow-the-focus-win-the-argument">the Guardian editorial</a> that you should stick to green issues, your job is to show why sustainability has to be part of every aspect of policy and indeed core to any notion to the good society&nbsp;– a more seductive and fulfilling life precisely because&nbsp;it not about a global race and turbo consumption. I’ve always thought your name holds you back – you can’t be a single issue pressure group but a force for system change. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>On the big picture, it seems to me that, given the harsh electoral hole you are in, your role is help change the weather of British politics, in terms of vision, policy and practice. Power is the ability to change things. It shouldn’t be confused with ‘being in office’. Yes the two things can coincide but the Greens have chased local and national office and lost the spark to change the terms of debate of British politics. Not just better policies but a different political culture. Look at UKIP, they are hardly represented in office but have had a massive effect on that national debate – swinging the country to the right on immigration and Europe. You need to be more a movement of ideas than just a not very good electoral machine with the voting odds always stacked against you. Run with big ideas like a basic income and a shorter working week more than you knock on doors to ask people to vote for you in elections you can’t win. Even if you could adapt a Lib Dem like pavement politics strategy – the planet doesn’t have time to wait for you. There are millions of people whose lives are anxious and insecure, who don’t want a treadmill like existence – who yearn for a different quality of life. Speak for them. You might find it pays off in votes – support coming from the fact that you offer a desirable future – not because you are playing the political game ‘seriously’ like the other parties.</p> <p>Which takes us on to your influence strategy. The only hope, I repeat the only hope we all have in the short term is for a progressive alliance of Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to defeat the Tories and UKIP. Such an alliance needs to be thought through and built now. It’s going to mean difficult decisions and some compromises. But there is no option – unless you want the Tories back in. The cornerstone of a progressive alliance would be a commitment to introduce PR after the 2020 election. It’s not a panacea but it makes other big changes possible by letting multi-party politics and a future that is negotiated come to life. Labour is moving in this direction, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is only the most senior advocate of a growing list of MPs from all sections of the party backing PR. The trade unions and the TUC are heading in this direction too. </p> <p>The Green Party must wholeheartedly adopt this strategy and lead it. Caroline Lucas had been bravely leading the charge for a progressive alliance. But as a party you are not there yet. When I speak at Green Party meeting I always say how short sighted of Labour to stand competitively against Caroline in Brighton Pavilion. And you all clap loudly. Then I say how short sighted of the Greens to stand competitively in next door seat of Brighton Kemptown – and stop a progressive Labour candidate from winning and hand the seat to the Tories. And of course you don’t clap then. But this is the hard truth of an electoral systems rigged against you. You can only change it if there is a progressive alliance with a mandate for electoral reform. That is the prize of doing deals and making compromises now. We need to work through the details of all this – how an alliance can be built from the top down and the bottom up. But be built it must. And Corbyn is not Blair. Make him and his party do a deal. </p> <p>And finally my Green friends, can you change your party? You are wonderfully democratic but you have a clunky and old feel to you. Experiment and modernise. Use new technology to make policy decisions, adopt the kind of Circles that Podemos use, try out more fluid ideas. Let members join other parties like the WEP do. This is a world of Facebook where people hold multiple identities all at once. Take a big look at <a href="http://alternativet.dk/english/">the Alternativet</a> party in Denmark and see how they link sustainability to innovation and enterprise – and make it all look cool. It’s called the future. Grasp it and use your party to prefigure the world we need to create.</p> <p>Sorry if it sound like I’m lecturing. Just wait to see what I have to say to the other parties – especially mine. It’s just that it’s so frustrating watching you do the same thing expecting a different outcome. Ultimately the only thing we can change is ourselves. You have the chance of an amazing future and more opportunity to experiment than any other progressive party.&nbsp; We have to live within the limits of the planet but find a way of doing this that is more seductive than endless consumption. It means being braver than ever. Good luck. <a href="http://support.compassonline.org.uk">Compass</a> is here to help. We are with you.</p> <p>My best, always,</p> <p>Neal&nbsp; &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/josiah-mortimer/who-are-runners-and-riders-for-next-green-party-leader">Who are the runners and riders for next Green Party leader?</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 Neal Lawson Thu, 19 May 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Neal Lawson 102249 at https://opendemocracy.net