As we hurtle towards the edge of the cliff…

The future awaits...train crash image
The future awaits…

This statement is all about party political management of the factions in the Tory party – the national interest is a very poor second. What an utter shambles‘… Oct 15

In a sense, in the midst of a gargantuan flow of promises, policy revision and idealogical selfishness, then it doesn’t really matter what the statement mentioned above is all about. Umunna’s tweet is a metaphor for a wider socio-political discontent.

History is the important context, or rather, a lack of it and a missing sensibility to previous disastrous political outcomes.

Umunna’s opinion captures a general sweep of unease with both major parties – over Brexit, the political operational vacuum at the heart of Westminster because of it, and all the ancillary debates, gesture politics and posturing that diminishes compassionate, effective government.

As I emerge from my period of grief over the Europe debacle, I look back in a deeply personal reflection across the current landscape.

Post the ‘Referendum of Mis-information’ and having taken the family to Europe, France and Holland, to explore new places to live and new bases for our small  businesses, they have taken the opportunity to decline relocation as a solution to my European malaise.

I remain deeply pessimistic about their future, and that of their children, as a result of a party political ‘manoeuvre’ of the deepest national and international significance, a word described in the dictionary as ‘...to move skilfully and carefully‘. In this case, history here may not be kind.

In the here and now, I find it interesting that both church leaders and humanists are clearly voicing disquiet regarding the activities and expectations of an ideological Right. The history matters here.

‘The European Union is one of the greatest human achievements. A continent which had been at war for centuries is now at peace. It’s not just about military alliances, it’s about countries opening their hearts and their borders to their neighbours. Preserve it!‘   

In the future? Well, I expect that the clarion arguments of a European peace, guaranteed by secure political alliances, will mean nothing. We risk, yet again, our own ordinary people becoming, quite literally, victims to political expediency.

As I write, I am dusting off my copy of Sun Tzu, The Art of War, to better understand the interplay between politics and military aggression, which has left my life untouched so far, but which devastated the generations of my father and his father too.

It is interesting, I would argue, that as we approach yet another commemorative date to remember both profound loss and absolute bravery, that no current politician, of any party, seems able to entwine these historical political consequences into their current thinking, whilst still bearing appropriate reverence for the fallen. The Menin Gate should haunt us all.

There is a lack of intellectual grasp, about society, politics, economics and history – a monumental failure of perception – that lies at the heart of mainstream elite political debate and sound-biteism over Brexit.

The consequences for me, in the now, are a sense of betrayal, a denial of internationalism as an inherently good thing. Not in a capitalist shade, but in the efficacy of governmental co-operation and social utility that has seen so much historical investment in the UK, from Europe, and a melding of socio-cultural ideas that have enriched our society for the better..

Splendid isolation, as a political driver, results in a hardening of negativity towards the other. It makes the consequences of state violence both remote and unheard in the home state

These consequences, social and economic, of the Brexit divide are irrelevant to an ideological elite, I would argue, secured by private funds, private education, overseas investment and a property portfolio that would stagger George Soros.

In the future? I shall remain European first and English second, as I have been my whole adult life.

At the office, as a board, we are debating a paper to facilitate a change to Estonia as a base for our operations. We have always, in the day job, worked as a collective across international borders. Any move which denies us having to break this core mission, for us, is the right move.

For me with what time I have left, even if I remain only a virtual European in Estonia, I will, as one small voice in a social landscape rendered asunder,  have taken a stand, of good conscience, against monumentally misguided, politically opportunist ideology.


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Equaliteas – share, debate, celebrate – not too late

Equaliteas web button image and web link
Discover more on the web at UK Parliament…

‘What does it mean to you to have the same democratic rights as everyone else? Join together with people from all over the country to celebrate 90 years since the Representation of the People Act 1928, which gave all men and women over 21 the equal right to vote. Invite your community to share, debate, and celebrate what equality means to you’.

Source: https://equaliteas.org.uk/

Register on this UK Parliament web site to get your free promotional material and to support parliamentary democracy for all – and the Representation of the People Act in 1928.

Equaliteas teapot image and web link
Get your event going for Equaliteas – see some ideas and resources here…

Events: 18th June to 2nd July, 2018.

Why not have a tea party and talk about it, or discover an event already registered near you. See more here.

Check out these events in the East of England, for example…

Tea Together at Kings Lynn Library‘Celebrate the Great Women of Lynn and Norfolk this afternoon. We are launching our new Voicebox Cafes celebrating women’s right to vote & encouraging you to get involved in local democratic life. Discover some local suffragette stories & try some tasty cake! All welcome’.

Tea Together Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

More than MUM!  South Street, Ipswich

Kesgrave Tuesday Project – Kesgrave


Still time to register and engage your community of interest in debate, delicious cakes and pots of hot tea!

Democracy, community and the relevance of the democratic process across all communities.


 

 

 

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Antiuniversity Now 2018

Remembering Paris ’68

Antiuniversity Now is a collaborative experiment to reimagine the 1968 Antiuniversity of London, in an ongoing programme of free and inclusive self-organised radical learning events.

Antiuniversity Now challenges academic and class hierarchy through an open invitation to teach and learn any subject, in any form, anywhere’.

 

Now in its fourth year you can, between June 9th and June 15th 2018, join in a wide range of radical, activist educational opportunities, for free.

We are glad to see the autodidact is not dead, and to discover proof that collective and supportive peer education is still abroad. (We know it’s not..Ed).

We offer some of our favourite sessions for your delight below, but do discover more on the AN web pages here…www.antiuniversity.org


DIY Radio: How to make radio shows and broadcast them for nothing

Courtesy of 199 Radio, this event…’will focus on learning how to use some of these tools to create our own radio programmes (Audacity, Mixx, Radio Studio and others), and how to broadcast them on the internet using Facebook. At the same time we’ll be talking about our experience of independent broadcasting, the future of radio and other subjects dear to our hearts’.

More detail and registration here.


Peer to Peer Web Workshop:  A practical workshop for anyone interested in the p2p distributed web! The agorama server co-operative offer a one day practical workshop that provide the tools and instructions for creating your own self-hosted website and contributing to a decentralized p2p internet. The instructors will briefly explain internet protocol and current infrastructure before assisting each participant in setting up their own web site using their computer as a server.

More detail and registration here.


How to form a Tourist Board:   I​an​ B​one​ ​of Class War ​shows how setting up a tourist board can be fun and radical + the launch of the TOP 50 SOUTH NORWOOD ATTRACTIONS ​’S​ee how the Sensible ​G​arden has become an autonomous​ ​zone with no rules, ​hear ​how Croydon ​Council sent in riot cops to stop a lake naming ceremony, ​learn ​how advertising giant ​O​utdoor​ P​lus was ​made to clean up t​h​eir own mes​s​, find out how ​South ​N​orw​o​od took on the lake district tourism​ board and forced them to acknowledge ​it ​h​ad more lakes​ and ​meet​ Pickles​,​ the dog ​who FOUND THE WORLD CUP​!’

More detail and registration here.


n.paradoxa’s MOOC (mass open online course) on feminism and contemporary art:

Experience a MOOC –  Gain a greater understanding of what you can find online about this topic There are many art and art history degrees where nothing is being taught about feminism in relation to contemporary art and this free online course is designed to help those curious to know more. During the full week of the Anti-university in June, live discussion forums with Katy Deepwell, editor of the course, will be held as part of the course.

More detail and registration here.


There is still time to jump into the programme. Some courses and workshops can be challenging, but all are horizon expanding, we would argue.

What about an Antiuniversity Now sequence of collaborative learning sessions in the East of England, for next year?

You can message me here… editor (at) collectiveconversations.org



This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

The Moral Matrix and 2017

Jonathan Haidt in this 2008 talk explores the constraints and tensions in the moral psychology of left and right. He uses the context of the American political system and discusses primary moral principles, which for us in the UK, can be seen as a proxy equating to Labour and Conservative ideologies.

Given the tensions within the Labour Party at present, given the divisions created by the referendum on Europe last year, there is a merit in revisiting these earlier Haidt arguments, touching as he does on freedom, rights, power and dissent.

You can see the full TED talk from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, below…

Source:

In the talk, leavened with an easy humour, it is easy to see identifiable Labour Party sterotypes, as well as those of the Tory persuasion. The left enjoy open-ness, change and commitment to the future well-being of others. Those of the right, in this model, cleave more strongly to notions of order, and acceptance of the suffering of some, to achieve their world vision.

Haidt’s arguments about the five principal moral values that determine our political allegiance do bear subtler fruit after reflection. However, there is a more complex truth illustrated at play within and relevant to the UK Left, I would argue.

There are certainly those of the left who are adherents of open-ness, change and collaborative development. The countervailing position, arguably, is reflected in the matter of the Labour Party rule book. My electronic copy runs to 110 pages. It is hard to imagine a historically, long established political party, with a distinct and focused collective community mass-identity, that would need long debates about rule or process. Given the weight of history and experience that sits atop the shoulders of branch and national executive members.

However, it is also possible to see a ‘rightest’ version of the left, utilising the Haidtean moral psychology arguments. The press for deployment of rule in pursuit of rigid order, is also conflicted, in this model, by those who then seek to change the rule book. Not for pursuit of long term social and moral objectives, but in a short term attempt to secure self interested order as a group or societal norm.

Would it not be better to use moral psychology and the moral imperatives of the Left, socialism in my intellectual landscape, to develop thematic drivers of action which, in Haidt’s canon, would see an end to the ‘moral matrix of disputation’?

Yes, would be my answer. When even members of Momentum are being drawn into debate and argument about the rule book, it would seem, all would benefit from having a contextual list of moral activity, with a view to changing the long term political landscape of the social Left.

……………………………………………………..

Below are examples of how the ‘Moral Values Directorate‘ of a new Labour Party might look…there are many others, to be sure.

a. Social Business/Social Enterprise/Community Business

In England the depth and history of charitable endeavour runs deep. Why does the Party, most connected with the workers, not more forcefully and adroitly engage with business principles that can employ people, deliver companies with highly moral employment and marketing values, to change the topography of communities and regions.

Is it not possible that the Party could have national teams who foster branch engagement with social business solutions to local community problems? Not to the abandonment of working for votes and candidates, but as an exension, an additional part of the political armoury which would, in the long term, affect those moral value triggers of the electorate who do not currently vote for our party.

For Party members to actively engage and cultivate social business and community enterprise as aprt of their constituency armoury utilises member energy and experience, but over time, serves to illustrate the practical vaues of the Party to a much broader audience, in a newly relevant way.

b. Arts and culture

Performance, art and creative conceptualisation of problems can all be powerful adjuncts to a political allegiance or understanding. Younger members of the Party, wanting to become writers, creative workers or intellectuals should have, in a Moral Values Directorate, a process available, a ladder of opportunity which enables them to emerge as thinkers and doers, to the notice of their peers and local communities, which again can change the political landscape of branches and/or regions over time.

The Arts is just one segmental approach – creating new vertical communities of potential subscribers, followers and voters – in a way which drectly speaks to their interests, and salts political direction and thoughtful opinion into the lived experience of local politics.

The Arts can be a powerful enabler of personal development, cultural shift and redirection of loyalty, I would argue.

c. Values Rapid Response teams:

We now know, for example, that our Local Authorities are using legislation to eavesdrop and record the activities of the residents/electorate that they are responsible for. Where is the concerted effort to abolish such activity. If our freedoms are imperilled by those elected members who are there to represent us, why can we not have national teams who can support immediate, local action to such deployments when they become clear.

Here is just an example of how a vertical approach, this time by contentious theme, that could close the gap between distant elected members of the party and those who live in the communities they represent.

As an interested outsider, I am not aware of a groundswell of opinion or action, to protest in this way. Partly, this is about holding elected members to account in a very direct and solutions driven way, but also seizes the high ground for the Left, where to take action in defense of community is, importantly, to be seen to take action.

It is a thematic approach to political drive which can disrupt the’…maintain the status quo, despite the inequality inherent in such positions’, whilst making the moral values which the Left should, or could, hold most dear, radiantly clear.

You could also devise the same vertical model to confront the privatisation of education or the railway network, for example. Not in the usual overtly, partisan way, but devised campaigns that lead with the moral value, the community well-being arguments absolutely at the fore.

It can be done. I have heard railway men and women talk, at conferences, of the human value and social benefit of railways, for example. A discursive, collaborative display unknown to most politicians, voting for foreign ownership and private fiscal value without consequential thought, I would argue.

If ever history was on the side of the man or woman on the footplate, it is this conversation that would resonate with voters…if they, the voting population, could hear it in concord with a ‘moral value proposition’ that was relevant to their own experience and needs.

…………………………………………………….

Making moral psychology become part of the everyday political discourse of England, allowing the Left to jump out of the moral matrix we now find ourselves. Now that would be worth voting for in 2017.

We might even get a ‘Labour TEDTalk’ out of it?


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Film, art, reality and Ken Loach

 

 From Jarrow into the future, the never-ending march!

 

Spending time and resources on re-location, post referendum, has been an interesting, if difficult,  process over the summer. France has been a comfortable destination, both in terms of culture and prospective places to live.

Now we have now widened our search, however, to scope projects in the cities of Rotterdam and Dublin. Both seem to offer a more supportive context for a refreshed approach to developing a social business project list, and a settled philosophical face to permanent membership of Europe. Progress reports of our search for a compassionate community in the EU, as they emerge…

This has not been a brake, however, on engagement with the artistic and political culture of England. I saw two films riven with political angst and declarative for reform over this week. Below is a commentary on that viewing.

Adam Curtis has delivered a provocative new film, HyperNormalisation, which seeks to show how the emergence of inward looking, technology driven, private banks and corporations have essentially subsumed the power of government, in the widest possible sense of a world with only a pretence of accountablity.

filmmakeradamcurtis
Image: Adam Curtis

The film tracks a development arc from the 1970’s onwards which shows the rise of ‘big data’ and it’s secret storage and manipulation, and how this, coupled to a capricious and opportunistic political class, had traded allegiances and money whilst dissolving their ability to solve societal problems.

You can see this challenging and sometimes disturbing film on the pages of the BBC iPlayer here.

Curtis’s title for the film comes from the concepts derived by American academic Alexei Yurchak whilst writing about the collapse of the old Soviet Union. He argued that everyone recognised the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any possible alternative, politicians and communities gave over to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. This delusion eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy with fakery accepted by all as real.

Ken Loach, defined by Conservative MP Kwarsi Kwarteng, as a ‘revolutionary socialist’ has produced in his film I, Daniel Blake a contemporary catalogue of outcomes that derive from the structural, corporatist and political changes over time, defined by the film HyperNormalisation.

In a recent interview the Tory critic refuses to see the ‘reality’ of I, Daniel Blake, as it is only an artistic representation. Resorting to the perjorative epithet ‘revolutionary’ to describe the film maker, in the face of an austerity campaign derived from his own ideology, the like of which has created the need for the very representation we see in Loach’s film.

What I, Daniel Blake is not, despite the Kwarteng protestations, is a dogmatic, rigid and Manichaeian Marxist rant.

As always wth a Loach film the depth of research, and contributions from state actors and individuals of conscience to it, is clearly visible in the film credits.

See the recent interview with Ken Loach and the Tory MP below. (The MP even amazingly admits that he has not seen the Loach film, and continues to deny the struggle of ordinary people in carrying the burden of austerity!).

Daniel Blake is a working class resident of the North East who, having suffered a heart attack, finds himself and those around him trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare of conflicting processes, anti-humanitarian state machinery and ultimately despair. Loach defines this context for a life, for many contemporary lives, as ‘conscious cruelty’.

The language used by the systematised officers and state actors, in this rational, economic world that Daniel confronts, is of ‘sanction’, remote decision makers, contracts and ‘customers’. The services and support he is attempting to access have been ‘privatised’ and contracted out. so that all people entering the system become coins in a fairground slot machine – waiting to be pushed over the edge.

It is in this process that the filmic work of Curtis and Loach come together. Remote corporations drawing down vast sums of public money, attempt through the use of technology and rigid process ladders, to solve a problem the politicians cannot master.

Daniel is a victim of a change, started over forty years ago, aided and abetted by technology, which has left the political class floundering to find solutions to the most complex of societal problems.

It is the lack of humanity, of the personal consideration, which drives the frustration and anger that Daniel feels. Applying a ‘sanction’ to individuals who are ill, distraught and now deprived of all income for thirteen weeks is anti-humanitarian, surely? The Loach film contains a scene in a food-bank which is completely heart rending. That society should allow such support processes to exist, no matter how worthy, whilst prolonging the detrimental state of its individual members, is deplorable?

It is this sense of powerlessness, I would argue, in the face of such complexity which has allowed the demagogues and sound bite political contenders, who are contemptuous of the truth, to move communities to the isolationist right, as those communities seek solutions to the deprivations and inequalities they are experiencing.

Both filmic artworks present a depressing and depressed view of human relations and experience. The Loach film, however, is essentially about working-class friendship, compassion and solidarity – not any of which is administered by the state in general, alas.

It is the desparate shortage of humanity in both these cinematic edifices that is the most painful. A world determined by elite processes which lack any sense of it in strategic, operational or political decision making.

Most people of the liberal left are driven by a strong social conscience. What is less clear to them, and which is a weakness of the left in general, is the delivery or conceptualisation of a crystal clear message, methodology or mission, that makes issues and solutions tangible, transparent and treatable.

Watching the work of Curtis and Loach may coagulate us into action – to deliver that humanistic, egalitarian and compassionate society, which both films are crying out for.

The long march continues.

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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

And so to France…

Exploring France Image
Scanning the European landscape for opportunity…

In Europe recently looking at both projects and for places to live.

When looking for information on business services, buildings and local opportunities, the distinctiveness of the Mairie and its conditioning power in small local communities, was a powerful example of how local democracy, decision making and regard for both history and civic presence can be created in one building, regardless of the size of the community.

History is important in France. Travelling from the city of Arras towards the coast created an opportunity to stop for coffee and a short walk. Just off the main road was a plot of land, about the size of a generous community football field. In it stood over eleven thousand grave markers for French men and women. Individuals who had fallen during The Great War.

Driving on, in a few minutes passing similar places dedicated to nearly forty thousand German souls, others for Indian nationals who died, and for Polish combatants too in another. A jumble of conflicts and immaculately kept memory, dotted across the landscape.

In the village centres and small towns were memorials erected to British Generals, regiments and individual soldiers, all paid for by popular subscription. Concrete evidence that France, lying at the heart of the European idea, must be as mystified as I am about the English notion of ‘leaving Europe’, post-referendum.

Having travelled across France many times in a lifetime, this journey was haunted by the spectre of betrayal. A notion that the lives expended in the creation of the European idea are seen as nought, when the evidence in the rolling landscape offers up the weight of a sacrifice to freedom that we ignore at our peril.

It was in the small, the local and the particular that the best information was to be had about generating new ideas, and not in the grand sweep of international politics and bureaucratic management of economies.

It is in the same context that European communities and businesses will respond to the new ‘English isolationism’.

Philip Rooke, an English entrepreneur, based in Berlin recently wrote in the journal VentureBeat about how the damage to trade and commercial relationships has already begun post-referendum. Although writing from a ‘tech’ development and business operations viewpoint, Rooke’s article illustrates well how the consideration of the local and particular will affect market development and access, regardless of the current mainstream political view in England.

In a clear exposition as a practicing business person in Europe, Rooke argues that he can already ‘…see companies heading to Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam, and other European hubs‘. That is instead of coming to London or the UK as a whole.

‘Our corporate headquarters in Leipzig in the former East Germany is a microcosm of the benefits of a dynamic inclusive workplace powered by open borders — we have more than 20 nationalities that work together. I am sad that many of the UK voters did not appreciate what this environment adds to the knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of working in a mixed culture’.

Source: http://venturebeat.com/2016/07/30/brexits-damage-to-startups-has-already-begun/         Accessed: 16.08.2016

Rooke makes a tellng point about America, an important market for him. The USA has long been a federation of states, and Brexit he argues, is comparable to California, whose economy is similar in size to the UK, choosing to leave the United States. He argues that this would collapse the California technical marketplace as businesses and people chose to move to other cities in the US. Individuals making a rational choice to foster their interests by disengaging from a spurious political belief in independence, in order to preserve and cultivate their own businesses and careers.

It is a telling argument, but one that relies on understanding the unwritten and undeclared acts of the individual business player. A sort of conflict about the role of enlightened self-interest. In one case philanthropic, in another selfish perhaps. Themes which are never part of the political discourse and populist clamour about, in our case, European unity.

In closing his article Rooke counters the argument, sometimes heard from UK politicians about modelling the future on Norway or Switzerland. In practice, Rooke opines, these two countries have to work much harder, fill in more forms, pay additional taxes and wait longer for responses than mainstream European businesses. Rooke argues that his own multi-national prioritises development strategies away from this sort of market, in order to maintain growth and revenue.

Leave the club, he says and disincentives to growth and development abound, when so many other opportunities, which are border free, are just over the neighbouring horizon. None of these limitations are categorised, prescribed or noted in the current debate on Europe without England.

Although we would never close our Partnership office in Cambridge UK, over the years our projects have become international, even as a micro-business. Whatever the emotional energies or political views of our partners, the Rookeian notion of having a multicultural, cross national presence on mainland Europe makes sense even to us.

It is interesting to think that, in memoriam for all of those individuals, buried in the landscape so recently traversed, it may be that a form of enlightened, social capitalism is, in effect, the last bastion of defence for the European idea in the Twenty First Century.

Another sentence, from my political viewpoint, I never imagined writing.

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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Borderless capital
and the consequences

This short Ted Talk, at TED Banff in Canada in June 2016, is by Gerard Ryle, exploring the way investigative journalists collaboratively exploited the leaked Panama Papers to cast light on the borderless nature of capital and how individuals and their secretive companies obscure both their holdings and their interests.

What is interesting is how well it illustrates the internationalist nature of private capital, often capital accrued by public figures who, you would think, should have the interests of their nations and people at heart.

The talk shows the persistence and pervasiveness of the work of Panama based laywers Mossack Fonseca and the success that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington USA had, in sharing and developing the stories, that led to the resignation of Prime Ministers and the exposure of connections to political elites of exploitative financial arrangements.

The international and borderless nature of capital makes, I would argue, the recent territorial and administrative debates about the European Union irrelevant.

If there is a problem with a bureaucracy in a country or group of states, the deeper malaise is the creation of laws of preference for one group of actors and not another. If my road building project in Europe has not been administered properly, then we should, in an open democracy, be able to exercise rigorous accountability and audit to remove the problem and to rectify the injustice.

If my  bank account in the British Virgin Islands has been used to divert funds to my private interests, or allegedly to deliver payments to officials that might possibly be illegal, the very secrecy and obscurity of process means we have no recourse to auditable action to recover the situation – fiscal, ethical or moral.

If I then allegedly avoid paying tax or other contributions in my community, then everyone and the resources and infrastructure they use, also suffer a loss. Everyone in my community carries the cost.

I have written before about how the international nature of unnacountable capital, coupled to a populist notion of simple, charismatic vilification of ‘the other’ may bring us to the brink of war in Europe again, after such a prolonged period of peace.

The writer Tobias Stone recently published an article, History tells us what will happen next with Brexit & Trump, that captures the essence of what may be the coming dilemna in Europe. He notes the resilience of humans to survive massive destruction. Stone, however, sees that there is in the current socio-political rift in England, a tight focus on the present, a lack of historical and global perspective to actions and re-actions and at heart, the fact that most individuals are un-prepared to ‘read, think and challenge‘.

Stone clearly lays out in detail a possible topography of political change and tension that brings us to war with our neighbours…

Brexit in the UK causes Italy or France to have a similar referendum. Le Pen wins an election in France. Europe now has a fractured EU…with a fractured EU, and weakened NATO, Putin, facing an ongoing economic and social crisis in Russia, needs another foreign distraction around which to rally his people…just one Arch Duke Ferdinand scenario. The number of possible scenarios are infinite due to the massive complexity of the many moving parts. And of course many of them lead to nothing happening. But based on history we are due another period of destruction.

Source: https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.dkbzwwvya   Accessed: 25.07.2016

In a Brexit/Trump world Stone has it that, for example, neither Putin nor Trump read The Guardian. When we write to it, it is, he argues, just friends writing to comfort friends.

Whilst this may be true and the consequent solution to the chasm that divides us is not obvious, I would argue that the work of the ICIJ shows us what the real issue is and an article from Tobias Stone gives us a potential theory of outcome that should cause us all to shudder and re-think.

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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Après moi, le déluge

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The end of an era?

Louis XV of France, in predicting the French Revolution after his demise, cannot have had David Cameron in mind. However, the last week of June 2o16 saw a number of unedifying political manifestations of the turmoil and collapse driven by the ‘Brexiteers’.

The titular phrase of this article is derived, according to which source you read, from après nous, le déluge arguably by Madame de Pompadour. The use of the plural is even more apposite as the recent scene in the Commons unfolded, where Cameron berates Jeremy Corbyn for not ‘leaving’ his post as leader, whilst the Tory Party under the tottering leadership of Cameron careers into crisis, effectively leaderless and arguably adrift in an ocean of conflicting ideologies.

The Conservative Party is now a bastion of Free marketeers, decrying the ready movement of labour. It has a one nation rhetoric, betrayed by dishonesty and spin, arguably intent on driving ‘foreigners’ from our shores. This latter philosophy creates popular incantations summoning ‘the other’, which will have terrrible consequences for some communities. Its leadership promoting this dissent and schism in civil society, seemingly regardless of the consequences to an economy now in freefall. This week we hear that the principles of austerity, cuts and deprivation, designed to reach a fiscal target which deems our nation to be a sort of grocery shop where costs must be cut at any price – now this too is swept away.

The writer Kazuo Ishiguro, writing in the Financial Times this week is angry…

Angry that one of the few genuine success stories of modern history — the transforming of Europe from a slaughterhouse of total war and totalitarian regimes to a much-envied region of liberal democracies living in near-borderless friendship — should now be so profoundly undermined by such a myopic process as took place in Britain last week. I am angry that the UK is now very likely to cease to exist, only two years after the Scottish referendum seemed to secure its future.

Source: https://next.ft.com/content/7877a0a6-3e11-11e6-9f2c-36b487ebd80a?siteedition=uk  Accessed: 01.07.2016

The ill-mannered protestation in the House that Jeremy Corbyn should ‘leave’ is ironic, wounding and shallow – particularly as Jeremy has an enormous electoral mandate from the Labour electorate, with more arriving at the door of a Corbyn led Party every week, we are told.

Now the Parliamentary Labour Party has joined the fray, seeking to dislodge Jeremy and his steadfast adherence to principle and social values. With the referendum result we hear continually the cry from both major parties ‘this is democracy, the people have spoken‘, yet when issues of Parliamentary power and privilege are abroad the notion of a polity having spoken is very far from the back office meeting rooms of Members of Parliament.

Similarly the Party in Parliament seems not to remember that there is an agreed rule book, where challenges to leadership and appropriate consultaton with the membership can be triggered. Even Parliamentarians should surely remember the effectiveness and telling nature of democracy. I am still in post referendum shock, and now grief for my country, yet I am told I have to live with the result. Such is the democratic process. It applies to all in our Party does it not?

This nature of language for the discourse of power and demcracy is interesting, even in the Labour Party. Listening to Margeret Beckett on Radio Four last week, she opined that Jeremy is a ‘principled and honest man‘, with excuses for some paraphrasing on my part, the description immediately followed by a ‘but’.

The ‘but’ was a lead in to a call for ‘strong leadership’. Do we not have that already. Jeremy has not, to my knowledge, responded to the endless critique of his dress sense, social ideas, support for workers and trade unions and so on He has been consistent and insistent on the need for a political process that is different with the highest values of compassion and resource for a united country.

Is this not the sort of leader we want?

A recent leader article in The Economist, as angry as Ishiguro, defines the present socio-political situation as teetering on the edge of the end of the liberal international order. It sees the referendum result, sponsored by politicians who have trivialised the issues to pursue narrow, personal political gains as…

Anger stirred up a winning turnout in the depressed, down-at-heel cities of England. Anger at immigration, globalisation, social liberalism and even feminism, polling shows, translated into a vote to reject the EU. As if victory were a licence to spread hatred, anger has since lashed Britain’s streets with an outburst of racist abuse.

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21701478-triumph-brexit-campaign-warning-liberal-international-order-politics?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits   Accessed: 02.07.2016

One nation? Only under Labour and only with the support of the compassionate Left and Jeremy Corbyn.


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After Note:

Support the compassionate, active left and join Momentum. You can find their web site and subscription pages here. http://www.peoplesmomentum.com/


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Vale Angliae

ruralLandscape
A darkness descends…

I was driving to my office in Cambridge on Friday morning (24th June 2016), from Suffolk and across the land of a large estate owner.

The early morning sun was shining through the trees and looking, I saw the deer and pheasants abroad in the verges, seeking their early breakfast.

Having an historical sensibility I was reminded of that warm, sunny day I had read about, in the July of 1914 when war was declared. The one which became known as The Great War.

As then, after a climactic announcement, nothing seemed to have changed. There were still scones for tea and sport to be undertaken the next day. Yet then,within four years of complete military, social, economic and cultural destruction, millions were to lie dead from Flanders Fields to the harsh, dusty landscapes of the Middle East and Africa.

There was something of that ‘phoney war’ sensibility about the post ‘Vote Leave’ result. Nothing seemed to have changed, yet as the weekend progressed the markets and our currency were in freefall, we had lost a Prime Minister and within the Labout Party the Shadow Cabinet began to fall on their swords, in order to ferment a revolution in the palace.

The majority of the polity had voted, we were told, to endorse a strange ‘Faragist’ notion of good people declaring themselves against the ruling elite, big banks and an imagined anti-democratic Europe.

There had not been many celebratory banners for European achievements, or detailed analysis of the support the European process has tendered UK communities, workers and business. Populism had triumphed over rationalism and the certitude of achievement made clear.

For that triumphant electoral cohort dissapointment is due. There will be no new hospital built every week, £350 million refunds, or an end to entrance at Dover for the imaginary millions of newly joined Europeans.

We also learned that working class communities in Wales, for example Ebbw Vale, devastated historically by the economic politics of the right and with a history of grants in aid from the EU, running into many millions of euros which had transformed the infrastructure and landscape of whole towns and villages… even they too had voted to leave.

The end results for this referendum are that no assault has begun, or will begin, on banks, international corporations or the movement of individuals across borders. It is unlikely that there is any plan to replace EU funding from core UK budgets to continue the enhancement of disenfranchised communities.

That the next Prime Mnister may be another ex-Etonian, Bullingdon Club member, who enjoys an income and personal resources that would stagger ‘ordinary’ people, I suspect.

The most pernicious and subtle long term consequence is that The Tories, for all their One Nation rhetoric, and the Brexiteers in particular, have divided our nation as never before along new lines. Journalists and data scientists have shown us these new fault lines post-referendum.

The old and the young. The university educated and the not. The social internationalists and the not. The compassionate for immigrants and the not. The Europeans and the not. A constituent part of the UK, or not for Scotland or Northern Ireland. These new schisms could make the old fault lines of major party loyalty seem irrelevant.

I have long been a class-warrior for working class justice and equality, but have striven to achieve an education, to build a small social business, the both done in concert with and supported by other generous and compassionate individuals, that focused on cross community engagement and literacy. I have enjoyed a whole adult life of access to European culture and community which has enriched my economic and social existence.

The referendum has put me at deep odds with my neighbours.

It has shattered my belief and pride in being both European and English with, to the date of the referendum, no recrimination for my socialism, internationalism or multi-culturalism.

Simplistically, it is possible to see the conditionality for conflict in 1914, and on into the The Thirties, as prolonged economic depression, the rise of nationalism and the facism of the far right, all coupled to a resentful Germany. The whole propelling a continent, and our island, to war not once in the twentieth century but twice.

The fear and opportunities for racism the referendum campaign has now created will be abroad in our urban centres, where the newly arrived seek their homes and dreams, for a long time to come. The cross border tensions in our own island will open old wounds and emnities I suspect, as the Six Counties and the Scottish Borders contemplate a non-European future. Labour will be divided, instead of being the natural home for the compassionate.

My distinct personal fear is that the referendum will spiral us back into history, to a socio-political landscape that has more to do with the 1930’s than with the dawn of a New Jerusalem.


After Note:

When I began writing this journal about my inner political landscape only recently, I could not have envisaged the leaving of Europe or the tensions and divisions just taking the decision has engendered.

I could not have imagined writing a political journal from the personal perspective of an immigrant.

However, over the Autumn of 2016 we will be looking for a new home on the European mainland.

There will be a wealth of compare and contrast political assessment to come for a long while, as we mark our new  journey here. Copy I never voted to write…

Vale Angliae.

Tim Smith.


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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Clarity in debate: The EU

In the short video below Professor Michael Dougan of the University of Liverpool, the School of Law, offers insights from his professional research on the forthcoming referendum.

This is twenty minutes of exposition truly worth listening to.

In his film Michael Dougan explains how the current, complex and historical engagement with the EU has benefited UK trade and infrastructure. How the tabloid headlines about sovereignty and the lack of democracy are simply wrong and how, in a Europe without the UK, the actual negotiation timetables and lack of formal agreements will stagger UK industrial output and threaten the welfare of workers and citizens.

Leaving the EU would, says Professor Dougan, give the government mandated power from Parliament to effect a root and branch redrawing of the legislatory landscape of our country.

With the right in ascendancy, and no ‘European’ voice of conscience to mediate legislation vested with self interest and the interests of Capital,  workers rights and welfare would be under attack, we would argue.

In another moment of clarity, we hear how the Swiss negotiated their first extra-EU Trade Agreement at the start of the Seventies. Their process is still ongoing. As a counter to the ‘free of regulation, free trade’ proclaimers, in reality many years would pass before we have negotiated our new position with the EU, post leave referendum, with our potential trade partners holding off in terms of their relationship with us until clarity for their interests, not ours, emerges.

The UK EU Referendum takes place on June 23rd, 2016.

Since the end of the Second World War, Europe has been a bastion of civil society development, a cultural and social focus for the proclamation of individual nation state identity and the cauldron of co-operation that has simmered gently for decades to create the single, most powerful, market bar none on the planet. It has been a defense against militarism and a bulkwark against social injustice.

Listen to Michael Dougan’s clear and objective analysis and Vote In on Thursday.

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This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...