Equaliteas – share, debate, celebrate – not too late

‘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. 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.        

Antiuniversity Now 2018

‘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…

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BHS – the Parliamentary Report

If you are in business, this BHS Parliamentary Report makes for a very depressing read. It combines a narrative of weak governance and the exercise of singular personal influence that is breathtaking. The Committee make some sweeping assertions, however, about the nature of ‘business’ in the UK, which to this reader, do not perhaps reflect the true state of a wider ‘moral’ commercial landscape extant in the presently configured UK. It gives little regard, I would argue, for the good work and innovative governance practice delivered by the social business market, the ethical investment marketplace and the community endeavour or social enterprise sectors. In the UK good practice abounds, but it was not prowling the corridors of BHS at the appropriate time nor, allegedly, had the fearless support of a company management team that were vigorous and rigorous in pursuit of  customer care, employee development and growth and tilted all energy towards a cohort of pensioners, upon whose expertise and life work in the company, these missed opportunities were nurtured through time. ‘We chose to investigate BHS because it encapsulated many of our ongoing concerns about the regulatory and cultural framework in which business operates, including the ethics of business behaviour, the governance of private companies, the balance between risk and reward, mergers and acquisitions practices, the governance and regulation of workplace pension schemes, and the sustainability of defined benefit pensions…’ Source: First Report of the Work and Pensions Committee and Fourth Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee…

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Struggle is the reality!

The mainstream press and right wing political opinion would have us believe that Britain is a nation of millionaires, with a quest to hermetically seal our borders, to the detriment of our trading efficacy, and that individual choice from a menu of abundance is the default position for all ‘hard-working’ families and households in the UK. How wrong can they be? The reality for many working families is that choice does not exist and resources do not, under any prevailing economic conditions, match aggregate demand as a household unit. (‘…my income does not even cover my rent…’ a plaintive comment in this film from the Labour Party…). Policies of austerity and the tolerance of vast inequality in social and economic matters create voices of despair in our communities. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to the Keynesian interventions in the rebuilding of Europe after devastatingly destructive war and resource depletion, the solution to a fairer, more compassionate and prosperous society is spending on public infrastructure, with that infrastructure in public ownership, and the creation of economic motive and delivery that sees the redistribution of wealth, not downwards for the few, but upwards for the many…vote Labour and change the model!  

A message from Jeremy Corbyn

The latest TV broadcast message from the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has just been made available on-line. Jeremy speaks, as always, with conviction, calmness and certitude. In the short film below he highlights both recent victories for communities and individuals, but goes on to present a clear position on community support, education, health and social care. It is this calm clarity, we would argue, that as leader of the Party, is one of the most important characteristics that Jeremy brings to the policy development debate. It is not the clamour of ideological disruption, but a process of consultative, active listening. You can join the Labour Party here.

Twittering to election victory!

Embed from Getty Images   We have a bye-election pending in our constituency for the election of a new County Councillor. Of course we all want our party candidate to win a stunning victory, reflecting new leadership, new members and a revitalised political agenda. Fighting elections is nothing new, but we offer here the first of a series of occasional technical ‘get elected’ reports. This first item is a very generous document from the Twitter Government and Elections team. This is The Twitter Government and Elections Handbook (pdf- 137pp). It is written exclusively for an American audience of course, but the techniques, suggestions and flexibility prompted by formal research from the Twitter team hold good for any electoral candidate in a western, democratic and technically enabled community. The report has sections on Twitter basics, list building, tweet rules, use of images, calls to action and importantly for political candidates, claims to authenticity. There are similar interesting and detailed sections on integrating a Twitter campaign into events, as well as useful list of Twitter resources at the end of the report for both the Twitter novice and seasoned new media professional. The core content is derived from the rich Twitter experience of Barack Obama’s November 2012 campaign. But whether you have aspirations to be President of the USA, or more local and equally important aspirations to represent us in a democratic civic society, this could be the engaging read of the festive holidays in 2015/2016. ‘The best way to earn a…

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The Economic Case
for Strong Trade Unions

Embed from Getty Images Hammering the foundations of prosperity… The New Economics Foundation (nef) and The University of Greenwich have recently published a new economic case for trade unions. Entitled Working for The Economy, it is a detailed and numerate assessment in the decline of trade unions over the twentieth century and the policy impacts that conflict has caused. The report also makes a strong case for their resurgence, arguing that as a ‘wage driven’ economy, the UK benefits from the rise in wages and conditions attributed to strong work place representation. The report is keen to stress that, although wages and salaries are a cost to business, it is too simplistic to discount the purchasing power extended to workers through their ability to consume. ‘If wages fall as a share of income, it implies a shrinking market. The result is a drag on profiits and growth‘. This is an important principal consideration. The idealogical defeat of collective bargaining and the suppression of wage costs by owners of capital, in itself, diminishes the very market they are attempting to exploit. The detail below illustrates the fall of ‘wage share’ across Europe in the last fifty years…     For every 1% reduction in the share of national income going to wages, UK national income – measured by GDP – is reduced by 0.13%, or £2.21bn at current values. Wage share has declined from its 1975 peak of 76% to an historic low of 67% today; this has had a direct…

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Narrative of war – diminishing debate

Embed from Getty Images The desolation of war… Rowan Williams, lately Archbishop of Canterbury, recently saw an edited version of his 2015 Orwell Lecture published in The Guardian newspaper. (What Orwell can teach us about the language of terror and war). The Orwell Prize is dedicated to ‘…making political writing an art’. This was beautifully elucidated in the Williams speech, where the lack of depth and clarity in political discourse about war, he argues, is underscored by the ‘…double-talk, tautology, ambiguous cliché, self-righteous and doctrinaire pomposity and pseudo-scientific jargon‘ of contemporary rhetoric. It is hard, for example, to see the profound commitment and balanced, sincerely held thinking in the recent debates, of both sides, when they are characterised by saloon bar shouting or by a Bullingdon Club elitist mentality. Williams draws a faith based, comparative thread through his essay between the writings of George Orwell and Thomas Merton, as to be expected. We draw no focus on that aspect of the writing here. However, the Williams thesis about the quality of public discourse and the utility of language as a means of reinforcing and supporting power and political status is a telling one. Merton held, in an essay in 1967 War and the Crisis of Language, Williams tells us that ‘…the speech of military strategists and of politicians is characterised by a narcissistic finality. There can be no real reply to the careful and reasonable calculation of the balance of mass killing in a nuclear war, because everything is so…

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Capital and social good at scale

A colleague recently sent us a link to the short film below, about the entrepreneur Manoj Bhargarva, with much thanks to Joby for an interesting and inspiring example of the deployment of social good. Manoj Bhargarva has used traditional manufacturing skills and work flows, coupled to a very good first principle idea, to scale up production to generate cash. This money is then used, as can be seen in the film, to undertake significant projects that create socially useful outcomes. Our conversation that flowed from this was about capturing the energy of volunteers and the social economy to generate social good, in an old-fashioned activist way, but which is coupled to community benefit where cash is a tangential outcome only. Interestingly, you can see in the 80,000 Hours movement, how the next generation of UK political and business elites are becoming motivated by notions of ‘earning to give’. Generate cash and then give it to good causes, as in the Bhargava model. What if there was a new model of activism for social good, where the thing you scale is the activism itself? We have enjoyed seeing the growing support of the social economy from MP’s such as Chi Onwurah and Tristam Hunt. So we know there is a groundswell of activisim that might support a revolution in political party delivery based on the common good. Tristram Hunt MP made a speech in Walthamstow in November 2014 that nicely encapsulates a range of divisive issues, created by privilege, unequal access…

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The European flow…

How many people are trying to enter Europe as a result of conflict, immigration or as refugees? The routes across land are complex and often hidden, the headlines often inflammatory, in terms of political motive or the demonisation of others. In the web page, detailed below, Lucify in Finland, attempt to show how, for example, the numbers of individuals reaching the shores of Britain are relatively small. Using United Nations data for monthly counts and with the aid of innovative web graphics, you can see how flows rapidly diminish in an east to west direction. The point, tellingly made, is that all Syrian refugees arriving in Europe to 2015 could stand shoulder to shoulder on 11 soccer pitches. Where are the ‘hordes’? You can find the original Lucify web page here – http://www.lucify.com/the-flow-towards-europe/