My Manifesto for the UK Post Brexit (Part 2 – Politics and Economics)

Here are some thoughts on Political Structures and the Economy:

 

Political Organisation

I would want to legislate Proportional Representation for a fairer reflection of the political will of the people, with coalitions becoming the norm, leading to a more collaborative and conciliatory form of politics, involving real engagement with and empowerment of local people in their communities.

Political conversations in local communities will mean that politicians and public servants do not come up with good ideas and “do things to people”, but rather learn to form environments of participatory leadership where co-commissioning becomes the norm. “No decision about me, without me, is for me.” (Leeds Poverty Truth Challenge). This is part of the new politics we need.

Sovereignty can be understood in several ways. From my perspective there are two competing narratives that frame the debate. Sovereignty can be the right to self-govern, to be in charge of our own future and rule in such a way to ensure that this happens – that is to insist that our own freedoms matter the most and we may have to suspend the freedom of others to ensure this happens. The alternative view of freedom is rooted in the idea of ‘essential kenosis’, i.e. that true sovereignty is not the domination of the other, but a self-giving, others-empowering love. I would see this latter definition of Sovereignty to be the basis of a more human kind of leadership. Leadership is something which is from among, rather than something which is lorded over others.

I would continue with town and county councils run on this basis, with two nationally elected houses, one based in the north and the other in the south.

Economy

I would start with the breaking up of banks into smaller, regional units, encouraging a multiplicity of options, especially encouraging credit unions and cooperatives. This is a well thought through idea of what to do with RBS, as championed by the New Economics Foundation. This will ensure local lending for local people, businesses and initiatives which will lead to a more sustainable system, more similar to the German or Danish model, both of which have ridden financial storms more easily than those where larger and centralised banks are allowed to dominate the market.

there needs to be a recognition that in all of economic history that we know of, only 3 countries have ever been in surplus and each case this was in a very unusual circumstance and for a short time. The obsession with balancing the books is a nonsense. (A national economy is nothing at all like a household! For instance, we do not have a bank in our back gardens that can print money, nor do we have rich friends living with us, to whom we give special privileges whilst making others work for very little pay, refusing to help them out, but rather telling them they need to have better aspirations and work harder).

A fair society involves creating local environments in which people can work and work pays well, so that a hard days work does not still leave someone unable to afford food, shelter and warmth. A fair society means that when you are unable to work or go through a time of hardship, you will be cared for appropriately. We would encourage the formation and strengthening of unions on this basis.

We need an economy that does not allow organisations to have their headquarters in the UK, but put their profits into other nations, whilst avoiding their fair share of taxation. The UK has many reasons to attract companies here, other than low tax rates and if companies wish to hold the UK to ransom, they can go elsewhere. Instead we will build relationships with those companies that will pay a fair and living wage, ensuring a fair share of profits and contribute to the wellbeing of the economy. Trickle down neoliberalism is failing the vast majority of people, and so we will develop this new economy together.

At What Cost?

I was handed a book this week entitled: “People over Capital” (the co-operative alternative to capitalism) and I’m looking forward to reading it on my way to Toronto later next week. The back cover starts with these words: “Economic turmoil, rampant inequality, austerity politics, climate chaos. Capitalism is clearly failing and ordinary people are being forced to pay the price. Faced with such deep-rooted problems there is real hunger for alternative ways of organising our economic systems.” ┬áIncreasingly I am becoming aware of the effect of what Foucault calls “biopower” or the commodification of life itself.

The film UK Gold has highlighted with insightful and expository brilliance the true relationship between the UK ‘democratic’ government and the corporate giants. If we’re not careful, we turn a blind to the cost of the cuts and the immense toll that the squeeze is really having on the little people. Whilst literally billions of pounds are being siphoned off into tax havens to bolster the super rich, we are making unbelievable cuts to our public services and welfare systems. The heartbreaking truth is that we are paying for this, not only financially, but people are being eaten up like bread, fodder for the economic machine that is destroying the very life we are made for. I know of two people in the last few days who sadly took their own lives under extreme pressures being placed on them as they tired to serve the public good – one a police officer, the other a social worker…….

I have blogged about ‘revolution’ and the need for something utterly and life-givingly different to what we have now, but I maintain that even in the face of the pain and sorrow, stress and strain that many find themselves in, the answer has never been and will never be violence. There is another way, and it is the way of love. We must love those who perpetrate these crimes against humanity. Our only hope is to forgive the wrong we are suffering and so find a better future for us all. How do we ‘turn the other cheek’ when we feel smacked in the face by an uncaring system that would squeeze the very life out of us for the sake of keeping the economy going? How do we give of ourselves lovingly in the face of such opposition and uncaring greed? How do we dance to a different rhythm than the dominant marching beat that sets it’s metronome to the whims of ‘market forces’?

Now is the time for creative experiments, like those of William Penn, before his sons sold out to greed and dominating hierarchy. These are days to love our enemies until there is nothing left for them except to love us back, as Martin Luther King demonstrated. We are in a moment of extraordinary potential. We must not rush, but take our time to let new hope, vision and pragmatic ways of reorganising ourselves to germinate within us. Kenarchy is about emptying out power, laying our lives down in love for one another, prioritising the dispossessed and radically renegotiating our relationship with money (sacred economics). We can remain as we are but the stark ongoing cost will be destruction, demoralisation and death. Or we can put on love, forgive the past, learn from it and embrace the future. It will cost us everything, but our hope is one of life.