Thoughts on DiEM25 UK launch

On Saturday morning 28 January 2017, at Conway Hall in Central London, long an important place for radical religious, philosophical, social and political thinking in the UK, DiEM25 held its UK organisational launch.

I have attended many interesting meetings at Conway Hall, unfortunately I was not at the UK launch of DiEM25 or at the meeting the evening before with Yanis Varoufakis.

Speakers from varied backgrounds included musician Brian Eno, Turkish author, columnist and academic Elif Şafak, from a Polish perspective Agnieszka Wiśniewska and Igor Stokfiszewski, and economics professor and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Brian Eno is wrong, 1970s and onward not a period of growth.

Post-WWII, 1950s and 1960s were when we saw unprecedented growth. When Harold Macmillan told us ‘we had never had it so good’ and Tony Benn or was it Harold Wilson talked of ‘the white heat of technology’.

Brian Eno is though correct when he says we have seen accumulation of wealth by the 1%.

Where in the 1970s the head of a UK bank had a salary of 100 times the lowest paid, now it is in excess of three hundred times.

In US, wages have flat-lined since the 1970s, even though productivity has continued upwards at the same rate as post-WWII. In part explains the rise of Donald Trump.

Technology has given us in a post-capitalist world Uber, Deliveroo and now Wheelys, serfs working for an app.

It can also give us open platform coops, open source.

In Madrid, they have developed as Open Source Decide Madrid, a public participation platform. Being Open Source, it can be adopted by other citizen-controlled Town halls.

I agree with Elif Şafak, left v right has no meaning, it has had no meaning for at least a decade.

She has come from a dictatorship, Turkey, that could equally apply to the USA under Donald Trump.

Whilst I can sympathise with DiEM25’s “radical remain” position of being “in the EU against the EU” it is now dated and can no longer apply, and must change that position.

We have Donald Trump one side and Vladimir Putin the other, we need a strong Europe. A strong Europe of independent, democratic cooperating, sovereign states. This is not the EU, it can never be the EU. To believe can democratise the EU is a pipe dream. It is a brittle structure unable to adapt. It is built into the EU DNA to be a democracy-free zone, nothing will change that.

Build links across Europe, which is what DiEM25 is doing.

Build communities at local level, open coops, collaborative commons, then seize control of local Town Halls, then network these citizen controlled Town Halls.

This can be done, Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña in Spain, Frome in Somerset in England, are showing the way.

Yanis Varoufakis is correct, there needs to be cooperation between parties, but that is not the same as forming formal alliances.

There is something ridiculous when Labour challenge Caroline Lucas in Brighton, especially when we look at the regressive Member of Parliament Labour has in Brighton, who uses every opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn.

Similarly, Labour should forget Scotland, if SNP remains a progressive party, the same could apply to Wales. Focus on England.

In Stoke, Labour are likely to lose because they put forward a useless candidate. A candidate who ranks alongside Owen Smith.

There has to be massive clear out of the Labour Party. No matter how good the policies put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, they will count for nought when they are constantly undermined.

As I write, Caroline Flint granted a prime time media platform to attack Diane Abbott. And what was the sin Diane Abbott had committed? She had failed to attend the House of Commons Brexit vote. Would it have made any difference? Not one iota. It was a landslide to trigger Article 50 for UK to exit the EU.

But it is this type of infantile behaviour by Caroline Flint that turns people off politics, and loses Labour votes.

Jeremy Corbyn was wrong to tell his party how to vote on Brexit Article 50.

We are leaving the EU. The focus should now be on building a post-Brexit future. And that is for the people to decide, not politicians.

We need a Green New Deal. Investment in people, in green technologies.

For example, instead of capping energy prices, talk of nationalisation of Big Six, create community owned local energy grids. Into these local networks feed renewables guaranteed a fair price. Consumers pay a fair price. Any surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned National Grid. Any ‘profit’ ploughed back into the local network or used to fund local community projects. The Big Six would be unable to compete and would go out of business.

HS2, Heathrow Third Runway, Hinckley Point C, should all be scrapped. These are gravy trains for contractors, not job creation schemes, and as infrastructure projects offer little.

The railways should be brought back into public ownership as each franchise expires, or in the case of Southern Rail for bad performance. Ownership would be some form of cooperative structure not nationalisation.

The idea put forward by Yanis Varoufakis, a national dividend not a basic income is worth exploring.

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