My Manifesto for the UK post-Brexit (Part 1 – Immigration)

I was having a conversation with someone recently and they challenged me to write a manifesto for the UK, to help put a bit of substance to my various thoughts. What follows is by no means a finished article, nor am I likely to do much with it, but I have found it helpful as an exercise and it serves as a starter on a few issues to spark discussion and also to help me shape my own thoughts further.

I am also a white, privately-educated, “middle-class”, married with 3-kids, “christian” male and so I recognise an inability to communicate, except from the perspective of power and privilege – I can’t change this, but I just want to say that I know it means I can’t see very well.

I hope what I have written is founded on the values of self-giving, others empowering love, the desire to build with positive peace and with hope for a fairer society for everyone. I will start with the area that caused so much debate over the last few weeks and has opened up some deep wounds – let’s see where this goes!

Immigration

I recognise this is a very real and important issue and it is not one that we should be afraid to face up to. My approach would be five-fold:

  1. Our education system will look at the damaging effects of empire and colonisation. We will look at the issue of white and male supremacy and work together to break down these deep set corporate worldviews that we find hard to name let alone own up to. We will help our children and communities face up to the bias and prejudice we all live with and learn from organisations, like the NHS that have done much to tackle them. We will encourage an understanding of the ‘other’ and the benefits of inter-culturalism. We will also work with charities like “together4peace” in Leeds to encourage intercultural dialogue and relationships.
  2. We will introduce a basic rate of pay, guaranteeing a fair and living wage for all of £10 per hour (see economy section for how this is affordable – austerity is NOT the only option available to us!). This will encourage people into work and we will ensure good support of small businesses to make this attainable i.e. the government will give means tested grants to businesses to support them in this. In this way it pays to work, but we will not have a society in which we punish or vilify those who are unable to do so, for whatever reason (see later policy on welfare). It will be illegal for any individual or business to employ workers from overseas or the UK for less than this. This must be legislated and so breaches of this will ensure a heavy fine and/or community service. A second offence would lead to a prison sentence. We cannot endure a culture of westernized slavery that leaves areas impoverished.
  3. We will create local jobs, especially in the places in the UK which have felt forgotten. This will come through a restructuring of the banking sector to encourage local investment in local businesses, as seen in Germany and Denmark. Our banking system is far too centralised and remote. Job creation will come through the creation of locally and/or publicly owned energy, utility and transport services. These might be structured in several different ways and therefore will not take us ‘back to the 1970s’ but create alternative and better ways ahead for local communities.
  4. We will allow the free movement of people but not the free movement of capital. It is not possible to have both. Money created in the UK will stay in the UK ie companies who do their business in the UK will pay their fair share of tax, rather than ship their profits overseas. This will include open but monitored borders, so we are clear who is in the UK, from a security perspective. But overall, we would seek to be a country that welcomes those who want to come here (it’s really not as many as we have been lead to believe!), especially those who need our help at times of crisis in their own nations.
  5. We will encourage every person who lives in the UK to be a net contributor to society where this is possible. We openly recognise and celebrate how many of our public services have depended on the great diversity brought by migrants and refugees from all over the world. We recognise that migrants make a net contribution to our society and give far more in terms of money, skills and rich diversity of culture into the UK than they take. We will ensure welfare for all those who need it, but our international development work will ensure we are able to work with countries to help people where they are to build a future of peace and prosperity (see later post on this). 

 

Obviously all of this needs a great deal of fleshing out, but these would be my overarching principles as points for discussion at this stage – I’m sure it is terribly lacking, so go easy on me – I’m looking for a conversation not a battle!

Theology and Power! (Intro)

I am deliberately intersecting this ‘Reimagining the UK series’ with the ‘My Manifesto for the UK post-Brexit’ series – sorry if it gets confusing!

Ok – first of all a disclaimer – this is my limited perspective on some very complex issues. Although I read quite a bit around all of these subjects, and there are some great books I will recommend as I go along,  I come at this from the angle of a diagnostician. I am also a white, privately-educated, “middle-class”, married with 3-kids, “christian” male and so I recognise an inability to communicate as an oppressed or “disempowered” person – because I am not. I occupy a position of power and strength and I know much less today than I knew when I was 18 (I am now twice that age – and therefore still relatively young and naive).

I have learned some extremely important lessons over the last couple of decades. Here are a few of them: Firstly, it is very important to question things. Secondly, it is also fine to be wrong and to fail – we learn from our mistakes. Thirdly, although I am a very future orientated person, sometimes in order to reimagine other possibilities, we need to have an understanding of our journey and face up to our past. Fourthly, our perspectives can change and letting go of previously held ideals and strongly held views can be a painful and humbling process. Fifthly, it is better to seek to understand than to point the finger and judge someone (often out of fear or arrogance) who holds a different perspective. Sixthly – not all perspectives are right or equally valid, but that does not mean we cannot talk about things we disagree with in a kind manner. My hope is not to create an idealized utopia, but to encourage us on a journey that is more loving, kind and hopeful towards a future of positive peace.

I wrote a blog a couple of posts ago, entitled “Reimagining the United Kingdom”. In it, I expressed a view, that much of where we find ourselves as a nation, particularly in the political climate, has been shaped by centuries of theological, philosophical and ontological perspectives, some of which have become the more dominant narratives of our day. I am so grateful for the academic work and light shone by those who have taken the time to unpack some of this and challenged us to look a bit more deeply at our roots and journeys. This will take a few posts to unpack. I will be particularly looking at this from the angle of the christian/Christendom narrative and so if this doesn’t float your boat, please don’t read on!

 

If you are into delving into some of these issues in a bit more depth, I would recommend the following (in no particular order):

Sacred Economics – Eisenstein

Peace Economics – Galtung

People Over Capital – Rob Harrison (Ed)

Economics of Good and Evil – Sedlacek

Post Capitalism – Mason

Church, Gospel and Empire – Mitchell

State of Exception – Agamben

Theopolitical Imagination – Cavanaugh

The Prophetic Imagination – Brueggemann

Disarming Scripture – Flood

The Immoral Bible – Davies

Parables as Subversive Speech – Herzog

Say to This Mountain – Myers et al.

The Politics of Discipleship – Ward

The Fall of the Church – Mitchell

Discovering Kenarchy – Mitchell & Aram (Ed.)

Falling Upward – Rohr

The Uncontrolling Love of God – Oord

A More Christlike God – Jersak